Five Turks and a Syrian citizen, named Haitam Kassapwho, who were arrested on the case for allegations of buying chemical weapons in Turkey, have pleaded not guilty, according to the English-language Hurriyet Daily News, which quoted from the indictment.
Prosecution attorney objected the ruling and presented the court with a 132-page document which contained evidence of the suspects’ links to terrorist groups in Syria including al-Nusra Front and Al-Qaeda-linked Islamic States of Iraq and Levant (Ahrar al-Sham), a report by the Voice of Russia said.
The document says that radical Salafi groups set up a channel for carrying out terrorist attacks inside Turkey. According to the document al-Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham group had tried to buy large amounts of sarin nerve gas and chemical substances used in manufacturing poisonous materials.
Arabs need to partner with Israel
UN Chemical Weapon Report
Yesterday, I wrote about a munition wich local activist groups in Damascus claimed was linked with the alleged chemical attack that took place in Adra.
As I mentioned in the article, a number of these have been recorded before in the conflict, two of which were linked with alleged chemical attacks, and now footage has been posted online, filmed in Adra, that shows the same munitions again.
What's interesting about these is the description in the video claims they aren't linked with the latest attack in Adra, but an earlier alleged chemical attack on August 5th, where another one of these munitions was filmed.
None of the remains of these munitions featured in the videos match each other, nor do they match the remains of munitions in other videos and photographs.
The question still remains of what these could be? In all cases these are munitions that the opposition has claimed the government has used, even before they were linked to chemical attacks, and they don't match any known munition used elsewhere in the world. What their payload is, and how they are launched remains a mystery, but there's more and more images of these in relation to chemical attacks...
One thing that must be stressed, is that the UMLACA is a munition that's never been seen in any other conflict, and it's origins are somewhat of a mystery. This has led some people to claim the munition could have been constructed by the opposition, and one popular video shows what's claimed to be a chemical munition being used by the opposition, with some even claimed it's the UMLACA, even though it's clearly a totally different design.
Photos of devices allegedly used to carry Sarin gas show they are clearly incapable of accurately reaching targets 5-10 miles away.
That is crucially important because the State Department report asserts that the gas barrage was launched from gov't controlled territory. But the map that accompanied that report shows that several of the targets were miles away from the area in pink shown to be under the control of government forces.
These rockets have only the crudest stabilizers, no guidance systems, and would be highly inaccurate at any significant distance...
Why is range, accuracy and sophistication of the rockets and delivery devices important? Sarin is not very effective over a large area unless the liquid is delivered in an aerosol form at just above ground level.
With crude rockets and warheads, that means that large numbers (many hundreds) of such weapons would have had to have been used in massed barrages to produce the level of mortality claimed. Because they are inaccurate beyond a short range, and cannot be aimed for mass barrages at long distance, these rockets may not have been effective for use in the way described in the report.
The Ghouta chemical attackAccording to a research made by New Eastern Outlook, the caliber of the missiles suggests that a Soviet-made, BM-14 series 140mm. multiple-rocket launcher was most likely used to shell Eastern Ghouta. This launcher, designed in 1951, was previously part of the Syrian Army’s inventory until it was replaced decades ago by the newer BM-21 (Grad, 122 mm. caliber, designed in 1963) and Chinese-made Type 63 (107 mm. caliber) launchers.
Voltaire Network 20-9-2013
However, the old-fashioned BM-14s are widely available in the region and were used, for example, by the Algerian rebels in the 1990s and the Taliban in 2000s. They are very compact and could easily have been secretly brought in to any location on that fatal night, even within the area controlled by government forces. Therefore the presumed location of the launch pad is insignificant, as any deserted suburb of Damascus that lies within range could have been used.
Another detail made public was a label found on a warhead. Mikhail Barabanov, an expert with the Russian Centre for the Analysis of Strategies and Technologies commented that this label matches those on missiles produced in 1967 in Novosibirsk (Russia). One might justifiably wonder why the Syrian Army would launch a 46-year-old missile when it holds abundant stockpiles of far more reliable modern weapons. It is also worth noting that the production of chemical weapons in Syria began in the 1990s, when chemical facilities were built near Damascus, in Homs, Hama, and Aleppo. Thus, those missiles, filled with chemical agents, should be dated accordingly or later.
If the date of a missile’s production does not match the production date for its chemical agent, it stands to reason that the warhead was filled in an underground laboratory or was even homemade. This is fully in keeping with earlier evidence regarding the use of homemade chemical weapons by rebels in Syria.
Russia says certain Western states are making baseless efforts to blame the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for a chemical weapons attack that allegedly killed hundreds of people in the suburbs of Damascus last month.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said that the Western attempts to blame the Assad government for the attack are “simplistic and groundless”.
Earlier in the day, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the report on the August 21 chemical weapons attack had produced no evidence that Syrian troops carried out the attack and that Russia believed foreign-backed militants were behind it.
The Russian foreign minister stated that the UN report proved that chemical weapons had been used, but it failed to answer a number of questions Moscow had asked such as whether the weapons were produced in a factory or they were homemade.
"We have very serious grounds to believe that this was a provocation," Lavrov said.
He said that there had been "many provocations" by the militants fighting against the Syrian government and people. "They were all aimed, over the last two years, at provoking foreign intervention."
Lavrov added, "We want the events of August 21 to be investigated dispassionately, objectively and professionally."
Flashback - Iraq 2003Maintaining that Iraq had always cooperated with the weapons inspectors despite misgivings of some of them, Mr. Hammadi said all that his country wanted was for them to do their work in a professional and honest way.
Dr. Sa’doun Hammadi: "Professional and honest way"
“They should respect the integrity of Iraq and not interfere in our internal affairs.”
In the first eight-year-long inspection, which was called off in 1998, "276 inspection teams consisting of 3,845 inspectors/experts came to Iraq and inspected 3,392 sites repeatedly; adding to a total of 10,266 visits. Besides, they set up permanent monitoring systems at 665 sites.
They found nothing then, and they have found nothing now.” Countering America's propaganda against Iraq, the Speaker said the main reason for the prolonged situation was America's desire to control Iraq's oil reserves - the lone such source out of direct or indirect US control. (Iraq Daily, 27-1-2003)
Hammadi, speaker of the Iraqi parliament, was born in Karbala and was a Shi'ite. He joined the Ba'ath Party during the 1940s. In addition, he earned a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1956.
Flashback 2003: LOOKOUT by Naomi Klein
"Their country has been sold out from under them"
In April 6 (2003), Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz spelled it out: There will be no role for the United Nations in setting up an interim government in Iraq. The US-run regime will last at least six months, "probably...longer than that."
And by the time the Iraqi people have a say in choosing a government, the key economic decisions about their country's future will have been made by their occupiers. The country is being treated as a blank slate on which the most ideological Washington neoliberals can design their dream economy: fully privatized, foreign-owned and open for business. ...
A people, starved and sickened by sanctions, then pulverized by war, is going to emerge from this trauma to find that their country has been sold out from under them. They will also discover that their newfound "freedom"--for which so many of their loved ones perished--comes pre-shackled with irreversible economic decisions that were made in boardrooms while the bombs were still falling. (The Nation 10-4-2003)
During a UN General Assembly meeting to hear UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's update on the report submitted by the UN mission investigating the incident which allegedly took place in al-Ghouta area on August 21s, 2013, Bashar al-Jaafari stressed that the Syrian government will look into all of the findings of the report as it does not want to anticipate judgment on the contents of the report before a careful study of its details.
He clarified that the Syrian government has from the beginning cautioned against the danger of using chemical weapons in Syria by terrorist groups, some with ties to al-Qaeda.
He expressed wish that the UN General Secretariat had waited the UN mission to complete investigations into all the allegations stipulated in the agreement signed with the Syrian government on August 15, 2013 and thus submit a comprehensive report on all the incidents, including that of Khan al-Assal on March 19, 2013.
Al-Jaafari considered that issuing a non-final report would disrupt the comprehensiveness of investigation and confuse the independent, objective and honest scientific dimension of this investigation.
"It was the Syrian government which asked the UN to unveil the identity of the perpetrators of the heinous crime committed in Khan al-Assal on March 19, 2013.
"We have honestly and clearly dealt with the UN General Secretariat as we asked for conducting an investigation in Khan al-Assal incident of which the Syrian government was accused despite the fact that the attack mainly targeted members from the Syrian army," al-Jaafari said.
However, the General Secretariat insisted, under political pressures by some countries involved in the Syrian crisis, that this aspect of the investigation is not the field of the investigation mission," said al-Jaafari.
"The irony is that we now face false accusations made by the capitals of the very same countries based on interpretations and explanations which were not included in the report's text in the first place," he added. ...
Al-Jaafari referred to a letter addressed on March 19, 2013 to the UN Secretary General and the Security Council Chairman regarding the attack which the armed terrorist groups carried out in Khan al-Assal near Aleppo city using a rocket containing chemical substances.
He cited a number of reports which confirm the use of sarin gas by the terrorist groups in Syria, including the Turkish authorities' arrest in May of 2013 of 12 terrorists with 2 kg of sarin gas in their possession moved from Libya onboard a civilian plane.
He also mentioned the report of the experts in charge of implementing Resolution 1973, issued on March 9, 2013, which confirmed ongoing smuggling of Libyan weapons through Turkey and Lebanon and the report on the manufacturing of chemical weapons in a secret lab in Iraq by Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists to be later handed over to the terrorists in Syria.
UN inspectors ignored evidence on chemical weapons use in Syria secretly passed to them by Damascus, said Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov in an exclusive interview to RT. That is why the UN report is biased and needs reinvestigation, he said.
“The Syrian authorities have conducted their own sampling and investigation, analysis in terms of possible evidence of the rebels being responsible for the tragic episodes both on August 21, but beyond that also on August 22, 23 and 24...”
“This is new material - new material for us. But this is not already completely new material for the UN,” Ryabkov specified, revealing that there were actually several chemical attacks in Syria in August and that the UN inspectors, headed by Swedish scientist Dr. Ake Salstrom, were informed about this, but ignored the information in their report.
“Salstrom was asked to look into it and eventually factor this new evidence into the final report. It never happened in fact,” Ryabkov told RT.
“This is one of the reasons why we criticize the speed with which the report was released… and also an incomplete content of this report,” he said. ...
He warned against the evidence provided by the Syrian and Russian sides being “simply nullified and disregarded.”
So far, Rybkov said, “one of the few areas” where the UN mission “kept its word” is that it only announced that chemical weapons were used without specifying who deployed them.
Ryabkov called on to the UN inspectors to follow the approach of the Russian expert analysis of the chemical attack that took place in Syria on March 19, which was professional and contained chemical, biological and medical analysis of the incident.
“This is the approach which should be also followed and pursued by Sellstrom's team. We invite them to do so. We think they should go back to Syria, to continue investigation and then have something different from - yes, a biased initial report,” Ryabkov stressed.
Information Clearing House - "The Independent": Information is now circulating that Russia's new "evidence" about the august 21 attack includes the dates of export of the specific rockets used and – more importantly – the countries to which they were originally sold.
They were apparently manufactured in the Soviet Union in 1967 and sold by Moscow to three Arab countries, Yemen, Egypt and Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's Libya. ...
Since Gaddafi's fall in 2011, vast quantities of his abandoned Soviet-made arms have fallen into the hands of rebel groups and al-Qa'ida-affiliated insurgents. Many were later found in Mali, some in Algeria and a vast amount in Sinai. The Syrians have long claimed that a substantial amount of Soviet-made weaponry has made its way from Libya into the hands of rebels in the country's civil war with the help of Qatar – which supported the Libyan rebels against Gaddafi and now pays for arms shipments to Syrian insurgents....
As it is, Syria is now due to lose its entire strategic long-term chemical defences against a nuclear-armed Israel – because, if Western leaders are to be believed, it wanted to fire just seven missiles almost a half century old at a rebel suburb....
As one Western NGO put it yesterday: "if Assad really wanted to use sarin gas, why for God's sake, did he wait for two years and then when the UN was actually on the ground to investigate?"
The Russians, of course, have made similar denials of Assad's responsibility for sarin attacks before. When at least 26 Syrians died of sarin poisoning in Khan al-Assal on 19 March – one of the reasons why the UN inspectors were dispatched to Syria last month – Moscow again accused the rebels of responsibility. The Russians presented the UN with a 100-page report containing its "evidence". Like Putin's evidence about the 21 August attacks, however, it has not been revealed.
Damascus, (SANA) - President Bashar al-Assad gave an interview to Fox News (conducted on Tuesday by Former U.S. Congressman Dennis Kucinich and Journalist Greg Palkot)
Fox News: Mr. President, will you allow more investigation? Will you allow UN investigators to come in, maybe to further investigate this attack, as you say, other attacks? There’s something like 14 different attacks where accusations are being made on both sides and even a UN team to decide on the culpability, the blame for this attack. You will allow those UN teams to come in?
President Assad: We invited them to come to Syria first, in March, and we’ve been asking them to come back to Syria to continue their investigations because we have more places to be investigated. The United States is the one who made pressure on them to leave recently before they finish their missions.
When we invited the delegation, we wanted this delegation to have full authority to investigate everything, not only the use of the Sarin gas or the chemical weapons, but to investigate everything about who did it and how, but the United States made pressure in order to keep it only about was it used or not.
Why? Because, I think the United States administration thought that if they’re going to investigate who and how, they’re going to reach the conclusion that the rebels or the terrorists have used it, not vice versa. ...
Fox News: Thank you. Mr. President, one of the things that appear possible is that Syria’s place as a secular state is at risk. Would you agree with that?
President Assad: Of course, when we have this kind of extremism and terrorism and violence, that will render the whole society into a more closed society, more ideologically fanatic, and that’s what the extremists are doing.
Fox News: But what does it mean to have a secular state? I mean there are questions about whether or not your position is authoritarian, whether you believe in democratic values. What is the secular state mean to Syria?
President Assad: Secular state means to deal with its citizen regardless of their religion, sect and ethnicity, because Syria is a melting pot. We have tens of different cultures in Syria. If we don’t have a secular state that reflects this secular society, Syria will disintegrate. So, that’s what it means to have a secular society.
Fox News: One of the notions about this very serious conflict is that it’s a civil war. Would you agree with that characterization that you’re involved in a civil war?
President Assad: No, civil war should start from within the society. ... What we have is not a civil war; what we have is a war, but it’s a new kind of war.
Fox News: So, you’re blaming outside interests for the acceleration of war. Now, there’s just some statistics that have come out from IHS James. They’re a defence analyst group. They estimate the opposition as a hundred thousand, 30,000 of which are hard-line Islamists sympathetic to the 10,000 Al Qaeda-inspired Jihadists.
President Assad: First of all, no-one has these precise numbers. .... We know that we have tens of thousands of Jihadists... Of course we have many other different groups, but they are small, they are becoming a minority. At the very beginning, the Jihadists were the minority. In the end of 2012, and during this year they became the majority with the flow of tens of thousands from different countries....
Fox News: You’re saying you’re not killing your own people, but your forces have launched attacks on villages where your own people have been killed.
President Assad: No, actually what you’re talking about is when the terrorists infiltrate residential areas in villages and sometimes in the suburbs of the cities, and within large cities, and the army has to go there to get rid of those terrorists.
The army should defend the civilians, not the opposite. You cannot leave the terrorists free, killing the people, assassinating the people, beheading the people and eating their hearts. When we go to defend them, you say you are killing your own people! You don’t, but in every war, you have casualties. This is war. You don’t have clean war, you don’t have soft war, and you don’t have good war.
Fox News: The international community reports that Syrian rebel forces opposed to you are equally if not more worried now about Jihadist fighters than they were previously by your government. Now, in this new development, is there an opening for you to achieve a rapprochement with your Syrian opponents?
President Assad: , and you go and propose whatever you want regarding the political system or anything else, and you can change that system if you oppose the other party.
Opposition doesn’t mean to carry weapons, kill innocent people, destroy schools and infrastructure...
Fox News: Well, let me then, as a follow-up, ask you about diplomacy. What diplomatic moves are you prepared to make as confidence-building measures towards peace in your country?
President Assad: Any diplomatic move without having stability and getting rid of the terrorists is going to be just an illusion. Any diplomatic move should start with stopping the flow of the terrorists, the logistical support of those terrorists, the armament support and the money support. Then, you have a full plan, the Syrians could sit on the table, discuss the future of Syria, the political system, the constitution and everything.
Fox News: Would that future include negotiations with the Syrian opposition?
President Assad: Exactly, that doesn’t mean negotiating with the terrorists. ...
Fox News: Let me ask you this, have you spoken to President Obama?
President Assad: Never. ...
Fox News: If you want to send him a message right now, what would you say to him?
President Assad: Listen to your people; follow the common sense of your people. That's enough.
Fox News: Mr. President, our time is limited and I want to briefly go back in time a little bit. I was here in 2000 for the funeral of your father. You assumed the position of President, and at that time some people had real hopes for you as a reformer, to change things, to bring more democracy to this country. ... Now you are branded other things; you're branded "dictator" and much, much worse....
President Assad: It doesn't matter what they say, whether he is dictator or reformer. Today, you have propaganda. Do they say the same word about their allies in the Gulf States? Do they talk about dictatorship in the Gulf States?
Fox News: We're talking about Syria.
President Assad: Yeah, I know, but I have the right to answer about the other states that are much far from democracy than the Syrian state.
Going back to your question: You should have democracy that reflects our own traditions, but democracy is not a goal; it means to reach prosperity, and democracy based on accepting the other. When you have a closed ideology and many taboos that prevent you from accepting the other culture in your country, you are going backwards....
So, I'm still a reformer, I still believe in the same values...
Why did we change the constitution? Why did we change the law? Why do we have now more than 15 new political parties in Syria? Why did we change so many laws...?
We have to be very precise and differentiate between people who ask for democracy and terrorists. Part of those people who were opposing the government at the very beginning, today they support the government against the terrorists, because they asked for reform, but they didn't ask for terrorists. ...
We're still moving forward in the path of democracy, and part of the solution that I just mentioned few minutes ago when we sit around the table, the Syrian people will say what is the best constitution, what is the best political system. Do they want it parliamentarian, presidential, quasi-presidential, and so on. What laws do they want? Everything! So, it's not the president who is going to set....
Fox News: My point is: you're not really changing people's minds; you're just forcing them into this box, this box where, over two and a half years on, 110,000 people dead, cities in ruins, and you're hoping that your people will surrender to the idea. I mean, is that really where you wanted to go with that idea?
President Assad: So the core of the idea, is that I created the atmosphere to invite terrorists to Syria?
Fox News: You held on long enough against the demands of the people who wanted peaceful demands.
President Assad: From the very beginning we accepted the demands.
Fox News: You accepted the demands?
President Assad: From the very beginning, before the terrorists or those foreigners coming to Syria. From the very beginning, in 2011, six days after the conflict, we said we are going to change, and we started the process of changing the constitution two or three months after the beginning. And we had the vote. There was a referendum, and the people voted in that referendum for this new constitution, in the beginning of 2012...
Flashback 2012: Bashar al-Assad:The greatest part of the Syrian people want reform, and they have not come out, haven’t broken the law, haven’t killed. This is the largest part of the Syrian people, it is the part which wants reform. For us, reform is the natural context. That is why we announced a phased reform in the year 2000. In my swear-in speech I talked about modernization and development. ....
The greatest part of the Syrian people want reform
The important law is the law of fighting corruption. It is the only law which has been delayed for several months. The first reason is related to the fact that this law is very important and has many aspects. Therefore, I asked the government to extensively consider it in collaboration with various bodies and parties. It was put on the internet and there were many posts and useful ideas. The government finished this and sent it to the Syrian Presidency which sent it back recently to the government. It is a good law which includes very important points and a point related to the inspecting authority. ...
The other pillar in reform is the Constitution. The decree that provides for establishing a committee to draft the constitution was issued. This committee was given a deadline of four months and I think that it has become in its final stages. This constitution will focus on a fundamental and essential point which is the multi-party system and political pluralism. They were talking only about article eight, but we said that the entire Constitution should be amended because there is a correlation among articles. The Constitution will focus on the fact that the people is the source of authority, especially during elections, the dedication of the institutions' role, the freedoms of the citizens and other things and basic principles. ...
The Constitution is not the state's Constitution; it is an issue related to every Syrian citizen. Therefore, we will resort to a referendum after the committee finishes its work and presents the Constitution which will be put through constitutional channels to reach a referendum. The referendum on the Constitution could be done at the beginning of March.
President al-Assad Receives
Copy of the New Draft Constitution
DAMASCUS, (SANA)- President Bashar al-Assad on Sunday received a copy of the new draft constitution from the head of the National Committee charged with drafting a new constitution for the Syrian Arab Republic, during a meeting with the Committee's members.
The Committee's members stressed their determination [..] to prepare an integrated formula of a constitution that guarantees the dignity of the Syrian citizen and secures his basic rights.
They reiterated their keenness on a constitution that allows to turn Syria into an example to follow in terms of public freedoms and political plurality in a way to lay the foundation for a new stage that will enrich Syria's cultural history.
President al-Assad expressed appreciation of the Committee members' efforts to carry out this national task, calling upon them to shoulder their responsibility as a Committee charged with preparing the draft constitution to explain its articles to the citizens with all possible means so that the citizen is the one to have the final decision to approve the constitution. ...
On October, 16th, 2011, President al-Assad issued a presidential decision to form a national committee to prepare a draft constitution for Syria... (R. Raslan/H. Said)
The Rule Of Law
Referendum on new draft constitution
DAMASCUS- President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday issued Decree No. 85 for 2012 stipulating for setting Sunday / 26/2/2012 / as a date for referendum on the draft Constitution of the Syrian Arab Republic.
The following are some of the main issues included in the constitution's text:
- The Syrian Arab Republic is a democratic state of absolute sovereignty that cannot be divided and no part of its land can be abandoned. Syria is a part of the Arab world.
- The political system of the state is based on political pluralism and power is practiced democratically through voting.
- Society in the Syrian Arab Republic is based on solidarity and respecting the principles of social justice, freedom and equality, in addition to preserving the humanitarian dignity of every individual.
- Freedom is a sacred right. The State guarantees the citizens' personal freedom and preserves their dignity and security.
- Citizens have equal rights and duties. Discrimination due to gender, origin, language, religion or belief is prohibited.
- The State guarantees the equality of opportunity principle among the citizens and every citizen has the right to contribute to the political, economic, social and cultural life in accordance with the regulating law.
- Citizens should respect the constitution and the rules.
- Private life is respected and protected by the law.
- Freedom of belief is secured by the law.
- Every citizen has the right to freedom of opinion and expression.
- The rule of the law is the basis of power in the State.
- The president is to be elected directly by the people.
- The judicial authority is independent and the Higher Judicial Council guarantees the independence of the judiciary.
Constitution of the Syrian Arab Republic 2012
Syria’s deputy prime minister Qadri Jamil said on Thursday that neither side is strong enough to win the country’s civil war. He added that Assad’s government will call for a ceasefire if the proposed Geneva peace talks take place.
“Neither the armed opposition nor the regime is capable of defeating the other side. This zero balance of forces will not change for a while,” Jamil told the Guardian. Jamil added that the Syrian economy has lost an estimated $100bn during the war - the equivalent of two years of normal production.
If the armed opposition in Syria accepts the ceasefire, it would have to be monitored “under international observation,” Jamil said. He added that such supervision could be provided by UN peacekeepers, assuming they came from friendly or neutral countries.
Moscow and Washington say they are committed to bringing both sides of the conflict to the negotiating table at the Geneva-2 peace conference.
Differences remain between Russia and the US over who should take part in Geneva-2. The US wants the Western-backed Syrian National Coalition (SNC) to drop its boycott of the talks and be the only opposition delegation at the conference. The SNC is calling on Assad to step down and previously stated that its demand is non-negotiable.
Jamil said that outside powers must stop trying to influence the outcome of events in Syria. He added that the Syrian government would be pushing to “end external intervention, a ceasefire and the launching of a peaceful political process in a way that the Syrian people can enjoy self-determination without outside intervention and in a democratic way.”
“For all practical purposes the regime in its previous form has ended. In order to realize our progressive reforms we need the West and all those who are involved in Syria to get off our shoulders," he said.
Jamil is the leader of the secular People’s Will Party and co-chair of the Popular Front for Change and Liberation. He was appointed last year to end the monopoly of the ruling Ba’ath party in the Syrian government.
“We wanted to give a lesson to both sides to prepare for a government of national unity and break the unilateral aspect of the regime – and break the fear in opposition circles of sitting in front of the regime,” he said.
BEIRUT - Syria's opposition National Coalition on Friday condemned attacks by Al-Qaeda loyalists of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) on mainstream rebels of the Free Syrian Army.
"The Coalition condemns the aggressions against the forces of the Syrian revolution and the repeated disregard for the lives of Syrians, and considers that this behaviour runs contrary to the Syrian revolution and the principles it is striving to achieve," a statement said.
The group denounced in particular ISIS's seizure of the town of Azaz on the border with Turkey on Wednesday after an hours-long firefight with FSA fighters and its attempt to take control of the Bab as-Salameh border crossing.
It accused ISIS of "repeated repressive practices against the freedom of civilians, doctors, journalists and political activists in recent months".
It also accused it of having "links to foreign agendas" and of seeking to create a "new state inside the Syrian state entity in violation of national sovereignty".
Tensions between FSA loyalists and ISIS have spiralled in recent months, especially in northern Syria where the opposition controls vast swathes of territory.
Consisting of more than 1,000 militia groups that range from the moderate Free Syrian Army (FSA) to not-at-all-moderate jihadi affiliates of Al Qaeda, the Syrian opposition is an increasingly uncomfortable alliance for the American government.
But according to Joshua Landis, director of the Center of Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, revolution in Syria is largely a freelance game, funded by Saudi Arabia and Qatar and with covert support reportedly from the U.S. This makes for strange bedfellows.
There are two major Al Qaeda–affiliated organizations operating in Syria: Jabhat al-Nusrah or the Al-Nusrah Front and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Syria).
Both organizations have publicly aligned themselves with the current Al Qaeda leader Ayman Al Zawahiri. Their aim is to install an Islamic state in Syria. Al Nusrah has claimed responsibility for the vast majority of the 70 suicide attacks in Syria over the last two and a half years. It was designated a terrorist organization by the United States in December 2012. ...
Landis does not see the situation getting better any time soon. “The risks of it getting a lot worse are very high because there are so many militias and they are so radicalized and they have so many arms that if they sweep down on (some of the government-controlled cities) where more than half of the people of Syria live…we don’t know what kind of plunder and mayhem will go on,” he warns. “It could be a free-for-all much like we saw in Iraq and a little like we see in Libya.”
The “Arab Spring” was optimistically named after a season in nature during which life is reborn and was supposed to promise a renewal of the stagnant political, social and economic life in the Arab world, but unfortunately it turned instead into a sectarian season of killing, death and destruction by counterrevolution forces nurtured financially, logistically, militarily and politically by the most conservative among the Arab ruling regimes in the Arabian Peninsula and their U.S. – led western sponsors and backers.
The sectarian cleansing in Iraq and Syria committed by the exclusionist sectarian zealots has become an Islamist modern copy of the European Christian inquisition in the Middle Ages, with the difference that the old European one was more systematic and organized by the Vatican institution and its allied states while it is perpetrated by uncontrolled sporadic and shadowy gangs of terror in the modern Arab case.
The fact that this horrible phenomenon came into life only with the U.S. led invasion - then occupation - of Iraq in 2003 and exacerbated with the U.S. campaign for a “regime change” in Syria could only be interpreted as an outcome of a premeditated policy to divide and rule in the Arab world.
On last August 24, the Maronite patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rai’e told the Vatican Radio: “There is a plan to destroy the Arab world for political and economic interests and boost inter-confessional conflict between Sunnis and Shiites,” adding, “We are seeing the total destruction of what Christians managed to build in 1,400 years” in terms of peaceful cohabitation and coexistence with Muslims.
“We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.” Karl Rove
The Washington debates about the Syrian chemical weapons, and whether there is an Obama “Plan B” by which the United States may yet bomb Syria, seem deaf to what really happened last week.
Syria has subjected itself to international law... That is highly significant. Washington doesn’t seem to understand the importance of Assad’s submission to international law. The U.S. has itself become so indifferent, and even so defiant of international law, that it fails to grasp that the rest of the world wants to see the Assad government submit to it—and the U.S. (and Israel) do so as well.
The American administration, however, is acting as though Syria has surrendered to the demands of John Kerry and Barack Obama, and is accountable to Washington and not to international law or the U.N., or even to its Russian ally and guarantor.
Washington is acting as if the U.S. has the right to administer punishment if Syria fails to do what Washington wants. What right? Not a legal right without a Security Council resolution. To attack on its own, as regional hegemon? That’s the way Washington has been behaving in the Middle East. The results have not been a great success.
Washington acts as though the Russians have no important role yet to play in this affair. They actually have played the capital role, and Washington should be grateful and attempt to extend this kind of mutually supportive international cooperation into the future. ....
The United States has acquired the very bad habit of thinking that ultimately it (with Israel) is the strategic owner of the Middle East. This has lasted for a half century. The truth is that the Middle East (and Israel) have owned the U.S. for 50 years—to the misfortune of both.
What we are really pointing to is not a history of terrorism, we are pointing to a very important geopolitical reality and that is the United States and its allies in the region understand that the destruction of Syria means the expansion of their own hegemony. ...
So, you have one side that is willing to engage, as we have seen the Assad government has agreed to unconditional talks the other side refuses, and at the same time the United States continues its dual track diplomacy of funding and arming the so-called rebels with lethal and non-lethal assistance and perpetuating this conflict, because if they do not achieve regime change, which is a number one goal, then the secondary goal of chaos and manage chaos suits the imperialist establishment just fine.
The Syrian National Coalition would attend the Geneva 2 peace conference if it aims to set up a transitional government with full powers, the coalition's president Ahmad Jarba said in a letter to the UN Security Council.
In the September 19 letter obtained by Reuters, Jarba said the coalition "reaffirms its willingness to engage in a future Geneva Conference" but "all parties must...agree that the purpose of the conference will be the establishment of a transitional government with full executive powers" as stipulated by an agreement hammered out by international powers last year.
The letter represented the first clear commitment from the coalition, which has been viewed by several Western and Arab states as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people, to attend the proposed conference sponsored by the United States and Russia.
Jarba had earlier appeared less amenable towards a diplomatic solution, having urged the Security Council earlier this week to adopt a resolution under Chapter VII of the UN charter allowing the use of force to cripple the Syrian government’s "war machine."
In a speech delivered from Istanbul and broadcast by Al-Arabiya, Jarba said "ending the killing of Syrian people is only possible by stopping the regime's war machine and barring it from using its aviation, missiles and artillery, and depriving it of its chemical weapons."
"Our partners are now blinded by their ideological goal of regime change [in Syria]." "All they talk about is that Bashar al-Assad must leave," while Russia's goal is to "solve the problem of chemical weapons in Syria."
The US is pushing Russia into approving a UN resolution that would allow for military intervention in Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said, in exchange for American support of Syria’s accession to OPCW.
“Our American partners are starting to blackmail us: ‘If Russia does not support a resolution under Chapter 7, then we will withdraw our support for Syria’s entry into the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). This is a complete departure from what I agreed with Secretary of State John Kerry',” said Lavrov.
Chapter 7 of the UN charter would allow for potential military intervention in Syria.
MOSCOW –Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with a US newspaper published Thursday that homemade sarin nerve agent was used in a chemical weapons attack in Damascus on August 21, an attack that the United States maintains was carried out by the Syrian regime.
Lavrov gave an interview to The Washington Post on Tuesday after a meeting with his US counterpart John Kerry. Lavrov said he had used the meeting to hand over evidence proving Russia’s contention that chemical weapons were used by Syrian rebel groups in the controversial August 21 attack.
Russia investigated the alleged use of chemical weapons in the Syrian city of Aleppo on March 19 after a request from the Syrian government, Lavrov said, adding that its findings have been “broadly” made available to the United Nations Security Council and the public, The Washington Post reported.
“The main conclusion is that the type of sarin used in that incident [on March 19] was homemade, and we also have evidence that the type of sarin used on August 21 was the same, only of higher concentration,” Lavrov said, according to The Washington Post.
The minister said he had recently presented his US counterpart John Kerry with the latest compilation of evidence, which was an analysis of publicly available information:
“The reports by the journalists who visited the sites, who talked to the combatants, combatants telling the journalists that they were given some unusual rockets and munitions by some foreign country and they didn’t know how to use them. You have also the evidence from the nuns serving in a monastery nearby who visited the site. You can read the evidence and the assessments by the chemical weapons experts who say that the images shown do not correspond to a real situation if chemical weapons were used. And we also know about an open letter sent to President Obama by former operatives of the CIA and the Pentagon saying that the assertion that it was the government that used the chemical weapons was a fake.”
The United States, as well as Britain and France, said last week that a UN report into the use of chemical weapons on August 21 in Damascus confirmed their contentions that it was the work of the Syrian regime, Reuters reported.
The samples taken at the site of the March 19 attack and analyzed by Russian experts indicate that a projectile carrying the deadly nerve agent sarin was most likely fired at Khan al-Assal by the militants, the ministry statement suggests, outlining the 100-page report handed over to the UN by Russia.
The key points of the report have been given as follows:
• the shell used in the incident “does not belong to the standard ammunition of the Syrian army and was crudely according to type and parameters of the rocket-propelled unguided missiles manufactured in the north of Syria by the so-called Bashair al-Nasr brigade”;
• RDX, which is also known as hexogen or cyclonite, was used as the bursting charge for the shell, and it is “not used in standard chemical munitions”;
• soil and shell samples contain “the non-industrially synthesized nerve agent sarin and diisopropylfluorophosphate,” which was “used by Western states for producing chemical weapons during World War II.”
The key points of the report have been given as follows:
• the shell used in the incident “does not belong to the standard ammunition of the Syrian army and was crudely according to type and parameters of the rocket-propelled unguided missiles manufactured in the north of Syria by the so-called Bashair al-Nasr brigade”;
While many in the West asserted that the UN report on August sarin attack in Syria all but proves the Syrian government was behind it, a closer look on it shows inconsistencies which clash with that narrative, says political expert Sharmine Narwani.
“I am certainly not saying that the UN team was trying to cover anything up. But I think some of this was staged and manipulated for impact,” she told RT.
Narwani, who is a senior associate at Oxford University, detailed her doubts about the UN report and the conclusions drawn from it in a piece she co-authored for the English-language branch of Al Akhbar, a Beirut-based newspaper.
The particular evidence the UN team reports are open for interpretation, the Al Akhbar piece said. One is inconsistency between human and environmental samples gathered at Moadamiyah, the area in West Ghouta which the inspectors visited on August 26 before moving to a second location. Alleged victims of the attack there tested highest for sarin exposure in the entire sampling, but environmental samples showed no traces of sarin.
A scenario, in which the victims were exposed to sarin somewhere else and brought to Moadamiyah for UN inspectors to investigate, is one possible explanation.
The authors also cite American chemical weapons expert Dan Kaszeta, who pointed out that the 36 survivors tested by the UN mission are too small a sample from statistical point of view to represent the entire population of affected victims. He also wonders why the number of victims showing symptoms of more serious sarin exposure was so large compared to those showing milder symptoms.
Finally there are questions to the munitions examination conducted by the UN, which many reports said proved beyond doubt that the sarin attack originated from a base of the government troops. Of the five munitions mentioned in the report as possible sources of sarin, only two provide a trajectory date.
One was successfully identified and could have been fired from the base in question, but it didn’t test positive for sarin. The other one is a ‘mystery missile’ with sarin traces, the range of which remains in question. Given its larger caliber, it could have been fired from a rebel-controlled area..., the authors argue.
“There are just too many questions. And unfortunately people have leaped ahead with stark answers,” Narwani told RT. “It’s not the case. Nobody is able to make a conclusive determination of any kind based on the evidence that the UN team provided.”
The Committee of Fifty responsible for writing the final draft of Egypt’s new constitution held a plenary meeting yesterday to review its first week on the job.
Initial reports suggest the 2012 constitution drafted under Mohamed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood-led regime by an Islamist-dominated constituent assembly will be radically changed and that the new constitution will be liberal, stress social justice and ensure the effective separation of powers.
“The main lesson of the 30 June Revolution which removed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi from power,” said Amr Moussa, chairman of the committee and a former presidential candidate, “is that politics and religion do not mix.”
“If you want to engage in politics then you can get a licence for a political party but if you want to play religion then you can get a licence to preach and then go to the mosque.”
Moussa confirmed that the new constitution will place a ban on the formation of religious parties. “Religiously motivated political parties only harm society by fanning sectarian strife and tarring their political opponents as infidels and non-believers.”
Moussa opened fire on the regime of Mohamed Morsi, taking him to task for sowing the seeds of political and sectarian strife and turning Sinai into fertile recruiting ground for militant jihadists.
“Egypt’s population will reach 100 million in a few years. They cannot be left mired in a world lacking liberal and democratic freedoms. Egypt can get over its political crisis and become a flourishing country if we opt to join the modern world and espouse the universal principles of democracy,” Moussa told a group of lawyers on Tuesday.
The Salafi Da'wa and its Nour Party will not nominate a candidate to contest the upcoming presidential elections, said Salafi Da'wa vice president, Yasser Borhamy. He stressed that the state does not need an Islamic candidate in the coming period.
Borhamy told Al-Masry Al-Youm Saturday that the Salafi Da'wa and Nour Party will not back former presidential candidates Mohamed Selim al-Awa and Abdel Moneim Abouel Fotouh in case they contest the elections.
Borhamy added that Egypt does not need an Islamic figure as president but rather someone accepted by state institutions. "The Nour Party will back a strong figure who can lead the country to stability," he said.
"The candidate we are going to back should not be hostile toward political parties that have a religious background," he pointed out.
"Not nominating a presidential candidate rules out the accusations that the Nour Party plans to replace the Muslim Brotherhood in the political arena during the upcoming phase [of transition]," he said.
Another major clash has broken out between rebels loyal to the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the al-Qaeda Iraq (AQI) fighters in the country, with a local AQI leader in Idlib Province and 12 of his supporters killed, along with six other unidentified people.
The local AQI leader, Abu Abdullah al-Libi, was dubbed a “top commander” in the group by some reports, though his actual position organization-wide is unclear, as is the impact his death will have on the overall position of al-Qaeda inside Syria.
The fighting took place in Hazano, just across the border from Reyhanli, and Libi was among the first killed in an apparent ambush. Though the fighters who attacked them were apparently FSA-linked, the FSA’s leadership denied any involvement in the attack.
FSA and al-Qaeda fighters have been clashing off and on for months now, and while each group has tried to keep the focus on fighting the Assad government, they are increasingly fighting a war-within-a-war against one another, and have admonished their respective supporters to avoid alliances with the rival faction.
Sources of the armed militias, which fight in Syria, stressed that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s command Osama al-Abidi, who is known by “Abu Abdullah al-Libi, was shot dead yesterday in Bab al-Hawa area of Idlib countryside.
Al-Safir newspaper quotes a “Jihadi” source as saying that “yes… a group of aggressors has assassinated him”.... The source has mentioned the achievements of al-Shaikh Abu Abdullah; one of them converting al-Dana area to an Islamic emirate affiliated to the state of Iraq and the Levant and imposing decisions to apply the laws of al-Sharia such as closing the commercial stores at the prayer times and preventing the sale of cigarettes.
According to the source, Osama al-Abidi has an honorable jihadi history; he participated in Jihad against the US militates in Iraq and was arrested in Syria then the Syrian regime handed him over to the regime of Muamar al-Qadafi where he was arrested for three years and a half.
The source adds that “He was one of the most prominent jihadists in the Libyan revolution, then he moved to Syria for ‘Jihad; and to establish the Islamic State. “
13 Islamist rebel groups that fight in Syria have said that they do not recognise any foreign-based opposition group including the National Coalition.
"The National Coalition and the proposed government under (recently chosen) Ahmad Tomeh do not represent us, nor do we recognise it."
Damascus, SANA _ President Bashar al-Assad gave an interview to Latin America TeleSUR TV channel.
TeleSUR: Mr. President, thank you for giving this interview to TeleSUR, which we hope will provide an opportunity for our viewers in Latin America to understand your perspective and your views. ...
Yesterday we heard US President Barack Obama speech reflecting on what the United States has done in different parts of the world, he spoke specifically about the situation in Syria; Syria was also a major issue at the United Nations. President Obama, more or less agreed on the need for a political solution in Syria, however, he called on the United Nations or the Security Council to pass a tough resolution against Syria and against your government if you do not continue to fulfill requirements of the chemical weapons agreement. He also stressed that, as far as the United States is concerned, your government was responsible for the chemical weapons attack against civilians.
President Assad: His speech yesterday was more of the same – full of allegations based on fabrications and lies. In general, most statements made by American officials, whether in the current or previous administrations, do not have the least bit of credibility. Their statements are often similar and repetitive, and as such we do not feel it is necessary to comment.
Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, American policy, whether knowingly or unknowingly, has been based on lies. I believe that they were aware of most of these lies, which increased in intensity, and the administration played a direct role in these fabrications after the chemical weapons issue was raised on August 21st. The administration has not provided any evidence to support its claims, which implies that it was lying to the American people. From the beginning, we challenged them to present their evidence, which they didn’t...
As for their talk about invoking Chapter Seven, this does not concern us in Syria. First since independence, it is well known that Syria has always committed to all agreements it signs. Second, today there is balance in the Security Council which prevents the United States - as was the case in the past, from using the Security Council as an instrument to achieve its special agendas, including toppling regimes and destroying states as was the case in 1990s. As I said, these American allegations are nonsense and have no realistic or logical foundation.
TeleSUR: Back to President Obama’s speech, we saw that he was confused and didn’t know what he wanted. Sometimes he speaks about the use of force and sometimes he speaks about a political solution. He says that the Israeli aggression against Syria is in defense of American interests in the region. What are America’s interests in the region, and what is it looking for in Syria? Taking into account what’s happening at the Security Council concerning Syria, are you able to rule out an American aggression against Syria?
President Assad: With regards to the contradiction you mentioned, this has become the hallmark of every statement made by every American official, be it the President, his Secretary of State or others. For instance, they say that Syria’s military capabilities do not pose any concern to the American army should it decide to carry out any military action or aggression against Syria; however, at the same time, they say that Syria is a threat to American national security. This is just one of many examples in this regard.
As for the possibility of an American aggression, if you look back at the wars waged by the United States and American policies - at least since the early 1950s, you find that it has always been a policy of one aggression after another - starting with Korea, then Vietnam, Lebanon, Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq; this is the American policy....
So the possibility of aggression is always there, this time the pretext is chemical weapons, next time it will be something else.
The more important element in all of this is that for decades, the United States has been superseding the Security Council, superseding the UN Charter, superseding the sovereignty of states and superseding all human and moral conventions....
As for the interests of the United States, I believe that for decades, the actions of the United States, through wars and interventions, completely contradict their interests. ... There’s no doubt that as a superpower it has interests. Most of the big powers have interests around the world, but these interests need to be based on achieving stability in the world first. You cannot have any interests in an unstable region full of wars and terrorism.
TeleSUR: Mr. President, going back to Syria and the chemical weapons issue. What are the real guarantees provided by your government that the list you submitted on your chemical arsenal is truly representative of the weapons you possess? And what are the guarantees you provide to the UN investigators in order that they do their job, inspect the sites and put the chemical weapons under international control?
President Assad: Our relationship on this issue will be with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Syria is not required to provide guarantees to the world or to the organization, it is required to deal with specific mechanisms or to abide by specific mechanisms stipulated in the chemical weapons convention. And as I said before, Syria is committed to all agreements it signs.
Syria has recently sent the required data to the OPCW. Shortly, OPCW’s experts will visit Syria to familiarize themselves with the status of these weapons. As a government, we do not have any serious obstacles. However, there is always the possibility that the terrorists will obstruct the work of the investigators in order to prevent them from reaching the identified sites, either because they have their own motives or because they are acting on instructions from the states that support and finance them. ...
TeleSUR: Despite the allegations that it was the Syrian government who used chemical weapons, the Russian government provided the United Nations with evidence that it was the armed groups who used the chemical weapons. What evidence do you have? And what is the Russian and Syrian government doing in order to prove that it was the terrorist groups and not the Syrian government who used chemical weapons?
President Assad: Of course we have both evidence and indicators. As for the evidence, when toxic gasses were used in Khan al-Assal, we took samples from the soil, blood samples from the victims, and also pieces from the projectiles used to carry the toxic material to that region....
In any case, when you have a crime, one of the first questions a detective asks is who has an interest in using these weapons, or who has an interest in this crime. It is very clear that the terrorists have an interest in this crime, particularly when these allegations coincide with the investigating team’s mission to Syria. Can you really believe that the Syrian government invites an investigation mission, only to use chemical weapons so that the mission can investigate their use? This is unbelievable, totally illogical. All the indicators show that the Syrian government did not use them, and all tangible evidence shows that it was the terrorists who used the chemical weapons near Damascus...
TeleSUR: You stressed that you’ll not negotiate with the armed groups and the terrorists in Geneva. Who are the parties with whom you will negotiate? How can this dialogue be achieved on the international level, and what is the timeframe for achieving a political solution for the Syrian crisis?
President Assad: I can answer the part of the question that is related to the parties inside Syria, which represent the Syrian people. There are different types of parties – opposition parties, parties in the middle, or parties supporting the state.
With regards to the parties outside Syria, we need to ask the states that support them because these states, - the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and others – have propped up these individuals who do not represent the Syrian people. If these states tell them to go to Geneva, they will go; they will say and do as they are told...
At United Nations Headquarters today, members of the Syrian National Coalition, a major opposition group, were told that they had critical roles and responsibilities in negotiating peace and fostering democracy, and helping to preserve the unity of their strife-torn country.
“The Coalition has a key and central role to play in making Geneva II a success,” the group was told concerning the peace conference now under discussion, in a message [..] which was delivered by Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, UN Assistant-Secretary-General for Political Affairs.
“It also has a fundamental duty to ensure that Syria does not break apart, and that its people are served by a state that remains stable and cohesive but that also reflects its citizens’ democratic aspirations,” Mr. Fernandez-Taranco said, adding, “The alternative is chaos.”
Reaffirming Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s position that the only way out of the devastating crisis was through dialogue and political compromise, he said that the Geneva Conference on Syria, which the UN has been working to bring about for months, is meant to launch such a dialogue. ...
He said no one was naïve to the challenges of ending the conflict peacefully, given that some in Syria did not share the vision of a unified and democratic country that protected the diversity of its people and rejected extremism. In the face of such challenges, leaders must make tough choices, he said.
“The Syrian people have suffered enough. It is time to put aside our differences and take diplomatic action,” he told the meeting, which was held on the sidelines of the high-level debate of the 68th session of the General Assembly.
Americans believe Russian President Vladimir Putin has been the most effective world leader in steering geo-political affairs during the Syrian chemical weapons crisis, according to an Economist/YouGov survey.
Forty-nine percent of those surveyed said Putin deserves the most credit for how he handled events following US accusations that Syrian President Bashar Assad had used chemical weapons against his citizens near Damascus on August 21.
Just 25 percent of respondents said US President Barack Obama was most effective. ... Overall, 30 percent of Americans approve of Obama’s handling of the crisis, while 44 percent disapprove.
The head of the key Syrian opposition National Coalition, Ahmed Jarba, has denounced extremists he said were trying to "steal our revolution", and blamed the regime for supporting them.
He made the comments in an address in New York to representatives from the Friends of Syria -- international backers of the rebels seeking to overthrow President Bashar Al-Assad.
"The phenomenon of extremism appeared with the support and planning of the regime..." The Syrian regime "created and armed numerous terrorist organisations and left them a place in the regions from which it has been removed," he said.
An unknown number of foreign fighters has streamed into Syria to join jihadist rebel groups such as the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Nusra Front and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). They include fighters from Europe, the Middle East and Chechnya.
Rebels initially welcomed the jihadist groups and the foreign fighters who joined them, eager for weapons and battle experience. But in recent months, relations have been tense, particularly between ISIL and non-jihadist rebel factions, which have clashed on occasion.
This week, some of the biggest non-jihadist battalions formed an alliance that includes Al-Nusra, and announced their rejection of the Coalition that Jarba heads.
Despite setbacks, Jarba insisted that the only solution to the conflict would be Al-Assad's departure. "There is no horizon for the Syrians before the fall of the regime," he said.
NEW YORK — The United States and Iran made diplomatic history as Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif talked for a half hour on the sidelines of a multilateral meeting on Iran’s nuclear program.
The meeting, which Zarif described as “more than a chat,” took place at the United Nations, and marked the highest-level and most-substantive encounter between officials of the two sides since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Afterward, Zarif told Al-Monitor: "I'm optimistic. I have to be. Political leaders need to be optimistic about the future and make every commitment to go forward for the cause of peace. This was a good beginning. I sense that Secretary Kerry and President [Barack] Obama want to resolve this."
The only previous meeting between a US Secretary of State and an Iranian foreign minister since the 1979 revolution took place in 2001 between Colin Powell and Kamal Kharrazi at a UN meeting about Afghanistan, but it was only a handshake and an exchange of courtesies. ...
“We had a constructive meeting, and I think all of us were pleased that Foreign Minister Zarif came and made a presentation to us, which was very different in tone and very different in the vision that he held out with respect to possibilities of the future," John Kerry said. "I have just met with him now on a side meeting, which we took a moment to explore a little further the possibilities of how to proceed based on what President Obama laid out in his speech to the General Assembly earlier this week. And so we’ve agreed to try to continue a process that we’ll try to make concrete, to find a way to answer the questions that people have about Iran’s nuclear program."
US President Barack Obama called Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, breaking over three decades of cold silence between the leaderships of the two nations.
"Just now I spoke on the phone with President Rouhani of the Islamic Republic of Iran," Obama said from the White House Friday afternoon. "I reiterated to President Rouhani what I said in New York: While there will surely be important obstacles to moving forward, and success is by no means guaranteed, I believe we can reach a comprehensive agreement."
A senior administration official told reporters that the historic call lasted 15 minutes, opening with Obama congratulating Rouhani on his election and ending with Obama saying farewell in Farsi.
In the call, Obama noted that a breakthrough on the nuclear issue could open the door to "deeper relations" with the Islamic Republic.
"Iran’s supreme leader has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons. President Rouhani has indicated that Iran will never develop nuclear weapons. I’ve made clear that we respect the right of the Iranian people to access peaceful nuclear energy in the context of Iran meeting its obligations," he said.
Obama said he will seek "transparent, meaningful and verifiable actions" on the Iranian nuclear program, which could also bring relief in Western sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic.
He noted that both he and Rouhani have instructed their teams to continue working expeditiously with P5+1 to reach an agreement.
"We have a responsibility to pursue diplomacy and... we have a unique opportunity to make progress with the new leadership in Tehran," he told reporters.
The UN Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution outlining the details of taking under international control and ultimately destroying Syria’s chemical arsenal.
"Today's historic resolution is the first hopeful news on Syria in a long time," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the council immediately after the vote. The Syrian sides must engage constructively in the upcoming Geneva 2 conference, which would be a significant step towards the “creation of a democratic state that guarantees the human rights of all in Syria,” Moon said in his address to the Council.
“The regional actors have a responsibility to challenge those who will actively undermine the process and those who do not fully respect Syria’s sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity,” he added.
The target date for a new peace conference in Geneva was set for mid-November. However, the Syrian opposition should be represented at the Geneva peace talks in a single delegation, the Secretary-General said.
‘The resolution does not fall under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter and does not allow any automatic enforcement of coercive measures,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said after the Security Council vote.
The UN Security Council resolution on chemical weapons in Syria will have to be observed not only by the Syrian authorities, but also by the opposition, Lavrov stressed. "The responsibility for the implementation of this resolution does not only lie on the government of Syria," he said.
The chemical weapons resolution on Syria establishes a framework for overcoming the ongoing political crisis. According to Lavrov, the Syrian opposition is also obliged to work with international experts as required by the Security Council resolution.
"We hope that more and more scattered groups of the Syrian opposition will finally be able – as the Syrian government has already done for a long time – to declare its readiness to participate in an international conference without preconditions,” Lavrov said.
Syrian UN Ambassador Bashar Jaafari said the resolution holds all parties in Syria equally responsible for the elimination of chemical weapons, including rebel forces. However some member of the Security Council are trying to sabotage the effort, Jaafari stated after the adoption of the historical document.
“It is regrettable that some delegations have begun adopting a negative interpretation of the resolution in order to derail it from its lofty purposes,” Jaafari said.
He also pointed out that the United States, France,Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar must commit to the document and be held accountable if they continue to arm the rebels.
"You can't bring terrorists from all over the world and send them into Syria in the name of jihad and then pretend that you are working for peace," Jaafari said.
He reiterated that Damascus is "fully committed" to attending November’s Geneva 2 conference.
Rebel-commanders on the ground announced they were joining al-Qaeda. They are through with the "National Council" and are organizing their own "Islamist Alliance":
"The al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra, designated a terrorist organization by the United States, is the lead signatory of the new group … Others include the Tawheed Brigade, the biggest Free Syrian Army unit in the northern city of Aleppo; Liwa al-Islam, the largest rebel group in the capital, Damascus; and Ahrar al-Sham, the most successful nationwide franchise of mostly Syrian Salafist fighters.
Collectively, the new front, which does not yet have a formal name but has been dubbed by its members the ‘Islamist Alliance,’ claims to represent 75 percent of the rebels fighting to topple Assad."...
According to Syrian National Council spokesman Louay al-Mokdad, "they told us they signed this because they lost all hope in the international community. They said: ‘We are really tired, Bashar al-Assad is killing us, all the West is betraying us, and they want to negotiate with the regime over our blood.’"
I had to laugh at our clueless government’s reaction to this latest development in the ongoing Syrian rebel saga:
"In a statement Wednesday, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that officials had ‘seen the reports’ and were ‘discussing with the moderate opposition what impact this will have going forward.’ … U.S. aid would continue, she said, ’taking into account that alliances and associations often change on the ground based on resources and needs of the moment.’"
In their statement, the Islamist Alliance not only rejected the Syrian Opposition Council and called for the imposition of Islamic law, they also demanded the rebels reject Western aid. Why not grant them their wish?
Millions of US taxpayer dollars are being spent to support and arm them – and does anybody in Congress know how much is going to our avowed enemies? With 75 percent of the rebel fighters on the ground pledging allegiance to this "Islamist Alliance," anything less than that would be astonishing. If even one dollar is going to these murderous goons it’s a moral obscenity.
Barack Obama and Hassan Rouhani have spoken. And they are on the same page. By that I mean not they agree about the issues dividing the two countries but that they are both ready to move forward, to test each other and see if an agreement is possible. As tentative as all this is, it is a major breakthrough – as anyone who has paid even a little attention over the past 34 years knows.
However, I do not see this process leading anywhere because the Netanyahu government and its lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), are determined to end the process and they have the ability to do it.
They intend to use the United States Congress to cause Rouhani to abandon negotiations by making clear that Congress will accept nothing short of an Iranian surrender on nuclear issues.
Unlike President Obama who wants to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program is not used to produce weapons, the lobby, which writes the laws imposing sanctions on Iran, insists that Iran give up its nuclear program entirely.
AIPAC listed its demands in a statement last week.
Its bottom line is this: Congress must not consider lifting economic sanctions until the Iranians stop uranium enrichment, stop work on installing new centrifuges, allow international inspection of nuclear sites, and move out of the country its stockpile of highly enriched uranium.
In contrast to the administration which, recognizing that Iran (like every other country) has the right to nuclear power for peaceful purposes, AIPAC says that Iran has no such right.
Not only that, if Iran does not agree to total nuclear surrender, “The United States must support Israel’s right to act against Iran if it feels compelled—in its own legitimate self-defense—to act.”
Obama better be prepared. AIPAC has been pushing war with Iran for a decade.
Following Obama’s speech yesterday AIPAC posted a war video on its website. The martial music is reminiscent of Radio Damascus prior to the ’67 war and succeeds in about a minute at threatening every single one of AIPAC’s, I mean Israel’s, enemies....
The coveted ideal of "muscular Judaism" was at the base of the Zionist settlement in the Land of Israel, conceived as a masculine, mighty, heroic, vanquishing and victorious national project. On the way, all other options have been discarded — first and foremost, that of the dialogue. (The new Israeli machismo, july 2012)
DEBKAfile is an Israeli military intelligence website based in Jerusalem, providing commentary and analyses on terrorism, intelligence, national security, military and international relations, with a particular focus on the Middle East. It is available in both English and Hebrew. The word "Debka" refers to an Arab folk dance. (Wikipedia)
Thursday, Sept.26, will go down in Israel’s history as the day it lost its freedom to use force either against the Iranian nuclear threat hanging over its head or Syria’s chemical capacity – at least, so long as Barack Obama is president of the United States. During that time, the Iranian-Syrian-Hizballah axis, backed by active weapons of mass destruction, is safe to grow and do its worst.
Ovations for the disarming strains of Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani’s serenade to the West and plaudits for the pragmatism of its Foreign Minister Mohammed Zarif flowed out of every window of UN Center in New York this week.
Secretary of State John Kerry, who took part in the highest-level face to face encounter with an Iranian counterpart in more than 30 years, did say that sanctions would not be removed until Tehran produced a transparent and systematic plan for dismantling its nuclear program.
But then, in an interview to CBS TV, he backpedaled. Permission for international inspectors to visit the Fordo underground enrichment facility would suffice for the easing of sanctions starting in three months’ time.
By these words, the US pushed back Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s first demand to shutter Fordo and its equipment for enriching uranium to near-weapons grade, which he reiterated at this week’s Israeli cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.
The foreign ministers of the five permanent Security Council members and Germany, meeting Thursday with Zarif, arranged to resume formal nuclear negotiations next month in Geneva. ...
The message relayed to Tehran from both wings of UN headquarters was that it was fully shielded henceforth by a Russian veto and US complaisance against the oft-vaunted “credible military option” waved by Washington. Iran and its close ally, the Syrian ruler Assad, were both now safe from military retribution – from the United States and Israel alike – and could develop or even use their weapons of mass destruction with impunity....
Given the atmosphere prevailing in the world body these days, it is not surprising that the speech delivered to the assembly by the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas was rated moderate – even when he called the establishment of the State of Israel a “historic, unprecedented injustice which has befallen the Palestinian people in al-Nakba of 1948” and demand redress.
This perversion of the UN's historic action to create a Jewish state could only go down as moderate in a climate given over wholly under John Kerry’s lead to appeasing the world’s most belligerent nations and forces...
Baghdad (IraqiNews.com): The head of the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council Ammar al-Hakim emphasized on Saturday the importance of making use of the intellectuals and thinkers to solve the problems that face Iraq.
A statement by the SIIC received by IraqiNews.com cited “Hakim received in his office in Baghdad a delegation from the Iraqi intellectuals and thinkers,” noting that “Hakim stressed that including the intellectuals in the process of setting plans for developing Iraq will achieve success.”
Hakim assured that Iraq faces many basic problems and impediments that hurdle development due to lack of mature political leaders which leads for absence of strategic planning, according to the statement.
“Hakim pointed out that the solution lies in granting the chance for the young and educated people as well as providing united and penetrating vision to lead an administrative revolution in the country by adopting scientific methods,” the statement concluded.
1 - a person opposed to or hostile toward intellectuals and the modern academic, artistic, social, religious, and other theories associated with them.
2 - a person who believes that intellect and reason are less important than actions and emotions in solving practical problems and understanding reality
There is no longer any serious intellectual discussion in the Israeli media today," says Prof. Moshe Zuckermann, an intellectual historian at Tel Aviv University.
"The discourse has degenerated, and is now completely vacuous. When the prime minister returns to Israel after an idiotic speech [...], the public's enthusiasm for him only increases, based on what Haaretz reported. No discussion develops, except perhaps in [its] columns by Gideon Levy and Yossi Sarid.
"It used to be that after such a speech they would call me from Army Radio and ask me to explain how this could happen. But such questions haven't been asked for a long time now. Nobody tries to examine the political, ideological or social aspects. Nobody asks why something happens and what it says about our fate," he notes.
"We are living in a world that is violent - verbally, mentally and militarily," Translator, poet and publisher Rafi Weichert says. "The more things are intelligent, moderate, measured and proven, the less they reverberate. The more extreme, provocative, metaphorical, laden with historical imagery and bloody they are, the more they are heard. We keep expecting more and more blood and extreme language."
In this world, people of values have been pushed to the margins. The people of values are no longer on the front line. This is part of the violence and lack of culture in the discourse.
Tehran, Sept 28, IRNA - Former Iranian Representative to the United Nations in Vienna Ali Khorram said on Saturday that extremist groups seek to create tension in relations between Iran and the US. Speaking to IRNA, he said President Rohani opened a new chapter in foreign diplomacy. President Rohami proved that Iran is determined to change its approach toward with the West. ...
Problems could be better resolved in a friendly atmosphere, Khorram said adding that such measures should be taken many years ago to prevent escalation of tension.
He said that there are many individuals or groups who are against improved relations between Iran and the US, because rapprochement will usher in a trend which will not serve their partisan interest.
“We should not forget that some countries in the region along with extremist groups make their best to create tension in Iran–US relations to meet their interests,” he said.
More than three-quarters of US citizens support heightened diplomatic relations with Iran, according to a new poll from CNN/ORC International.
Seventy-six percent of respondents said they favor direct diplomacy with negotiations, while only 20 percent said they were opposed to the notion.
US President Barack Obama recently spoke with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, marking the first time the nation’s leaders have spoken in decades. Even more encouraging for Obama is that the survey results were not split on partisan lines - 87 percent of Democrats and 68 percent of Republicans responded favorably.
Damascus, (SANA)- President Bashar al-Assad has given an interview to the Italian Rai News 24 TV channel
Rai News: We arrive close to Geneva 2, the peace talks, because Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the UN, said that it's very likely in November there will be a second Geneva meeting. Are you planning to attend it personally?
President al-Assad: That depends on the framework of the Geneva meeting. So far, that conference is not clear: what kind of conference, who's going to attend, what the criteria are for this conference. So, we have to be ready as government, but we cannot decide who's going to head the delegation until we have, let's say, the framework, the clear framework and the criteria.
Rai News: So, let me just ask you: which kind of framework would convince you to go there?
President al-Assad: As I said, any political party could attend that conference, but we cannot discuss, for example, al-Qaeda and its offshoots and organizations that are affiliated to al-Qaeda, for example, terrorists. We cannot negotiate with the people who ask for foreign intervention and military intervention in Syria.
Rai News: May I just name Qatar and Saudi Arabia?
President al-Assad: Let me be frank with you; they are client states, so I'm talking about states now. If you want to talk about states, they are client states; their master is the United States. We all know that. So, if the United States is attending, this is the main partner, and the others are accessories. If you want to talk about Syrian parties, regardless of their names, I'm talking about their behavior during the crisis. That's what we can discuss - their behavior.
Rai News: Since the situation on the ground is very complicated, could you also accept the idea of some international forces, like interposition on the ground, to try to stabilize in a way the situation?
President al-Assad: It doesn't work, because we're not talking about two countries fighting each other, like, for example, Syria and Israel, where you have a frontline, a clear frontline, where you can have the United Nations forces on both sides of the borders or the frontier, let's say, or the armistice line. It's completely different.
You are talking about gangs; they could exist everywhere in Syria, within any city, where you don't have a frontier or clear lines. So, even if you want to suppose that you can accept that idea - which is not acceptable for us - but if you want to accept it, where can you position those troops? No-one can draw a map. You need a clear map. There is no clear map. There are gangs coming from everywhere, and they are terrorists who should be fought, not isolated from the Syrian troops.
Rai News:We were talking about Geneva 2, and I was thinking about Europe and the role of Italy in this kind of process. Do you see any role for Italy in this?
President al-Assad: Again, let me be very bold here, very blunt. If we want to discuss the role of Italy, we should see it in the light of the European role. Is Italy independent from the European role? If not, who's leading the European role? And, we have to discuss the relation between the European role and the American.
Is Europe independent from the American policies today? I heard from many European officials that they are convinced about what we are saying, but they cannot announce it.
This is not the first time, not only during this crisis. So, any role should be looked at in the light of two things: the credibility of that role, and second, the relation between the individual or the country or the government, let's say, with the different parties.
Rai News: Did you ever think to leave the power for the sake of your country? Did you ever consider the chance to leave your country just if the exchange was peace and stability for your people?
President al-Assad: It depends on the "if." If my quitting of my position would make the situation better, the answer would be very simply, without reluctance, yes. But there is the other question; would the situation be better? So, for me as president, so far, I have to be in my position because when you have a storm, you don't give up your position. You don't quit your position and leave your country in the middle of the storm. Your mission is to take your country to the shore, not to abandon the ship and the Syrian people.
As fighting continues in Syria, 43 Islamist groups have united to form a joint "Army of Islam." The groups have agreed to act under the joint leadership of Sheikh Muhammad Zahran Alloush. The Army of Islam's creation was officially announced in a ceremony on Sunday, September 29, 2013.
Al-Qaeda's Jabhat al-Nusra, along with ideologically similar groups such as 'Ahrar al-Sham' (Free [Men] of the Levant), did not join the "Army of Islam", despite sharing its goal of toppling President Bashar Assad and instituting Sharia (Islamic law) in Syria.
At the same time, the "Free Syrian Army" (FSA) is working to reunite its leadership after several commanders disassociated themselves last week from its leadership. Thirteen militant brigades announced that they reject the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) and the FSA under the leadership of Salim Idriss. The groups' commanders called to unite under an Islamist umbrella group.
Muhammad Zahran Alloush:
Born in 1970 in Damascus, originally from Douma, his father is Sheikh Abdullah Alloush, Shariah scholar and author of "The Sahih in Answered Supplication"and "Explanation of Jibreel's Hadith". Husband and father of ten boys.
Prior to the revolution he was working as a Building contractor. Zahran Alloush was involved with the neo-salafi/Wahhabi underground in Syria since the 1990s. He was imprisoned on three different occasions for Islamic activities. His most recent arrest was in 2009.
He was released on June/22/2011 under pressure from protesters. Zahran Alloush immediately received funds and weapons from Saudi intelligence which enabled him to establish and run Liwaa al-Islam as a major jihadist force. On July 18, 2012, Liwaa al-Islam conducted the major bombing of the headquarters of Syria’s national security council in Rawda Square, Damascus, assassinating, among others, Assaf Shawkat, Bashar’s brother-in-law and nominally the deputy Minister of Defense, Dawoud Rajiha, the Defense Minister, and Hassan Turkmani, former Defense Minister who was military adviser to then-Vice-President Farouk al-Sharaa.
In Spring 2013, Zahran Alloush helped the Saudis weaken the Qatari-sponsored jihadist forces in the Damascus area. In June 2013, he suddenly withdrew his forces in the middle of a major battle with the Syrian army, leaving the Qatari-sponsored First Brigade and Liwaa Jaish al-Muslimeen to be defeated and mauled.
Six weeks ago, a two-man delegation arrived in secret in Damascus: civilians from Aleppo who represented elements of the Free Syrian Army...
They came under a guarantee of safety, and met, so I am told, a senior official on the staff of President Bashar al-Assad. And they carried with them an extraordinary initiative – that there might be talks between the government and FSA officers who “believed in a Syrian solution” to the war.
The delegation made four points: that there must be an “internal Syrian dialogue”; that private and public properties must be maintained; that there must be an end to – and condemnation of – civil, sectarian, ethnic strife; and that all must work for a democratic Syria where the supremacy of law would be dominant. There was no demand – at least at this stage – for Assad’s departure.
The reply apparently came promptly. There should indeed be “a dialogue within the Syrian homeland”; no preconditions for the dialogue; and a presidential guarantee of safety for any FSA men participating. ...
For months now, pro-regime officials have explored how they might win the army defectors back to their side – and the growth of al-Nusra and other Islamist groups has certainly disillusioned many thousands of FSA men who feel that their own revolution against the government has been stolen from them. ...
The advantages to Assad are clear. If FSA men could be persuaded to return to the ranks of the regime’s army in complete safety, large areas of rebel-held territory would return to government control without a shot being fired. An army reinforced by its one-time deserters could then be turned against al-Nusra and its al-Qa’ida affiliates in the name of national unity.
In towns and villages on the flat lands south towards Baghdad and in the communities that dot the sprawling desert west towards the border with Syria, militant groups are imposing their influence with brutal efficiency.
Random, savage and relentless violence is once more a reality in this part of Iraq, with almost daily bombings and killings stirring ghosts of a time, not long ago, when Anbar province was almost lost to al-Qaida and when hopes for a civil and stable country seemed futile.
Abu Risha and the tribal leaders of Anbar who helped drive the anti-al-Qaida movement in 2007 known as the awakening (in Arabic, al-Sahawa) are deeply troubled by what they are seeing.
"If somehow a democratic state is not eventually established in Syria, there will be a problem for all the region," said Abu Risha. "It cannot be an Islamic state."
Yet an Islamic state is unambiguously what the jihadist groups now fighting alongside the opposition in Syria are aiming for. "They want strict Islamic law and they want Syria to be a stage for a jihad elsewhere," said Abu Risha. "This has to be stopped." ....
Abu Risha, who in 2007 became the Iraqi face of al-Sahawa (awakening), which ousted al-Qaida for a while and helped the US military partly restore security in Iraq, said little could be done in Syria without the backing of a powerful nation state.
"An awakening would only succeed if it was not done by militias, or tribes," he said. "It has to be done by a state."
Bye-Bye Syria: The Globalist Destruction of a Nation State
Patrick Henningsen, Infowars.com July 10, 2012
In order to ensure regional destabilization and the presence of the ‘international community’ – and more importantly for the western allied military and economic forces – the elimination of a strong secular nation-state in the Middle East, the process of Balkanization, must occur....
In similar fashion to the French Mandate of Syria in 1921, western power brokers will aim to divide Syria along both ethnic and religious lines. The Assad regime has managed over the decades to maintain relative ethnic and religious harmony between Sunnis, Shi’ites, Alawites, Druze, Christians, and even Jews in Syria.
Sunni Muslims represent somewhat of a majority through central Syria and are presently the preferred ally of western powers seeking to dissolve the nation state of Syria. They also comprise the majority of foreign and domestic guerrilla fighters being deployed throughout the country by planners in Washington and London.
Mohammad Javad Zarif accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of lying in his rejection of Tehran’s overtures to the West as a cosmetic “charm offensive.”
“We have seen nothing from Netanyahu but lies and actions to deceive and scare, and international public opinion will not let these lies go unanswered,” Zarif said in an interview with Iranian television broadcast on Tuesday.
Zarif was speaking from the United Nations, where Netanyahu was set to the address the General Assembly later Tuesday, the same forum where last year he used a cartoon bomb as a prop to underline how close he believed Iran was to producing a nuclear warhead.
“After all these years, the world must understand the reality of these lies and not allow them to be repeated.”
Netanyahu headed to the United States determined to use his UN address and a White House meeting with President Barack Obama on Monday to expose what he regards as “sweet talk” from Iran about wanting to allay Western concerns about its nuclear program.
At the White House meeting, Netanyahu said it was vital that “Iran fully dismantles its military nuclear program.” He urged Obama to keep U.S. sanctions in place throughout negotiations between Iran and the major powers over its nuclear program.
Flashback 2003: Hassan Rowani:
Leader opposes nuke weapon access
Semnan, Oct 25, 2003 - Secretary for the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Hassan Rowhani here on Saturday, said the Supreme Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei considers attempts to access nuclear weapons as religiously illegal. On this basis, he added, production of such weapons has no place in Iran's defense and military doctrine.
Turning to the new meaning of security in today's world, he noted that hardware security has been replaced by that of software. He further said that this doesn't mean that the activities associated with hardware should be stopped.
"Given the high cost of access to nuclear weapons, their production would block our progress in other scientific and technological fields. In view of environmental, technological, religious and ethic reasons as well as the possibility of losing our influence in the region, Iran doesn't intend to produce nuclear weapons. However, we are determined on economic and political advancement as well as access to advanced technologies," he added.
Khamenei's Oral FatwaIn October 2003, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei issued an oral fatwa forbidding the production and use of WMD in any form. Since then, Khamenei and other officials have repeatedly asserted that Iran is not seeking to acquire the bomb because Islam bans WMD. ...
In an August 2005 letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran apparently referred to the Khamenei fatwa in stating that “the production, stockpiling, and use of nuclear weapons are forbidden under Islam and that the Islamic Republic of Iran shall never acquire these weapons.” (www.washingtoninstitute.org)
The text of the (2005) statement is as follows:
"Madam chair, colleagues,
"We meet when the world is remembering the atomic bombings of the civilians in Hiroshima (Aug 6) and Nagasaki (Aug 9) sixty years ago. The savagery of the attack, the human suffering it caused, the scale of the civilian loss of life turning individuals, old and young, into ashes in a split second, and maiming indefinitely those who survived should never be removed from our memory.
It is the most absurd manifestation of irony that the single state who caused this single nuclear catastrophe in a twin attack on our earth now has assumed the role of the prime preacher in the nuclear field while ever expanding its nuclear weapons capability.
"We as members of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) are proud to underline that none of the NPT members of the NAM rely on nuclear weapons in any way for their security....
"The Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has issued the Fatwa that the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons are forbidden under Islam and that the Islamic Republic of Iran shall never acquire these weapons. [...] The leadership of Iran has pledged at the highest level that Iran will remain a non-nuclear-weapon state party to the NPT and has placed the entire scope of its nuclear activities under IAEA safeguards and additional protocol, in addition to undertaking voluntary transparency measures with the agency that have even gone beyond the requirements of the agency's safeguard system. (IRNA august 2005)
Presidential Political and Media Advisor Buthaina Shaaban stressed that Syria has sought political solutions and called for dialogue since the very first day of the crisis because it wants to prevent bloodshed.
Speaking to the reporters on the sidelines of an ongoing workshop on national media, held at the Dama Rose Hotel in Damascus on Tuesday, Shaaban stressed that the side who wants war to happen on the Syrian land is the Israeli enemy and its various tools.
"The Syrian state, however, has called for political solution since the first day," she reiterated, adding that those who hinder this solution are "the artificial tools which know in their heart that they don't represent the Syrian people and have no future in the ballot boxes."
She pointed out that the intensive appearance of President Bashar al-Assad through interviews with various Arab and international media outlets is "to correct the image about the reality of the situation in Syria and convey it to the people in the world countries."
Shaaban highlighted that the repeated appearance of the President comes at a time when Syria continues to face an intensive war of disinformation that includes falsification and distortion of facts contrary to the role of media as a conveyor not a distorter of the truth. ...