Wednesday, December 9, 2015

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1--- Syria’s moderate opposition began a 3-day expanded meeting in Riyadh Tuesday.
The deputy head of the National Coalition, which is recognized by much of the international community, Hisham Marwa, told AFP that unofficial preliminary talks were held Tuesday.
Charles Lister, visiting fellow at the Brookings Doha Centre, told AFP that the talks aim “to go some way towards establishing an opposition negotiating team.”

The Riyadh meeting is also “an attempt to establish a unified political structure between the recognized political opposition coalition and the armed opposition as a whole,” the analyst said.
Syria’s political opposition, including the exiled National Coalition, has long been accused of being out of touch with forces on the ground.
Groups supported by the United States, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are demanding Assad’s rapid departure, a condition that Iran and Russia oppose.
The Syria-based opposition tolerated by the regime argues that Assad’s fate should be decided by the Syrian people.

2--Russia long knew about Turkey’s complicity with Daesh: Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Moscow has long known about Turkey’s complicity with the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group, but did not raise the issue publicly.
Despite knowledge about the use of the Turkish territory for the training of Daesh terrorists, Russia was reluctant to talk about the issue openly as it did not want to believe that the support came from the government in Ankara, Lavrov said in an interview with Italian news agencies on Wednesday.
“Frankly, we have known for a long time how Turkish territory is being used for commercial operations with ISIS (Daesh), for the transfer of weapons and terrorists to Syria, as well as to provide extremists and militants with an opportunity to heal and rest, and then get ready for new operations, not only in Syria, but also in other regions, including our North Caucasus,” the Russian foreign minister stated.
Turkey has time and again been accused of being one of the main supporters of the militant groups operating in Syria, with reports saying that Ankara actively trains and arms the Takfiri elements there and facilitates their safe passage into the conflict-ridden Arab country.

3---Excluded From Rebel Talks, Syrian Kurds to Hold Their Own Conference
           Kurdish Officials Say Overlap With Saudi Talks 'Unintentional'

By contrast, the Saudis did invite Ahrar al-Sham, an al-Qaeda ally.which has been getting significant Saudi financial support. Other rebel groups are complaining the Saudi conference aims to legitimize Ahrar al-Sham while sidelining the moderate factions.

4---Syrian Army Within 10km of the Turkish Border in Northeastern Latakia After Capturing Ruweisat Al-Yaqoubar

5---Who are the Syrian rebels holding talks in Saudi Arabia?
Saudi Arabia is hosting the Syrian rebels for talks on the future of Syria. But who are they and what do they believe?

6---Who are the Syrian rebels holding talks in Saudi Arabia?
Saudi Arabia is hosting the Syrian rebels for talks on the future of Syria. But who are they and what do they believe?

Around 100 representatives of the Syrian opposition are meeting in the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh to prepare for peace talks with the Assad regime.
Britain and other Western nations have observer status at the meeting, but the aim is that it should be a Syrian negotiation led by the revolution’s Sunni Arab backers – with Saudi Arabia at their head.

Experts who have dealt with the groups say there are upwards of 65,000 fighters in brigades loyal either to the principles of the original Free Syrian Army or to "moderate" Islamist principles. On top of that, two harder line Islamist brigades – Ahrar al-Sham and Jaish al-Islam – with a fighting strength estimated at 25-30,000 have also been invited to Riyadh.

In many battles Ahrar al-Sham fights alongside Jabhat Al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s official representatives in Syria, who have not been invited.


Syrian National Coalition

The main umbrella group for the political opposition in exile to the Assad regime, its members have fractious relations both with the armed rebel groups and each other. It is split between pro-Muslim Brotherhood and anti-Brotherhood factions, while members have differing loyalties to other countries, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, which have supported the opposition. Twenty representatives will be attending the talks.

Free Syrian Army (FSA)

Originally a group of defected regime officers who set up their own force to defend the “uprising”, the FSA has split repeatedly and now consists of a string of semi-autonomous brigades with differing ideologies. However some, like the northern “Division 30” have been targeted by the United States for training and weapons supplies, while in the south a number of FSA factions have come together in the more unified Southern Front.

Jaish al-Islam

An Islamist group that contains Salafis of many different stripes, including former hardline prisoners released early in the revolution by the Assad regime, Jaish al-Islam has been heavily funded by Saudi Arabia. It is strongest in the suburbs of Damascus, where it has established its own fiefdom, at one time having to fight a sharp battle with Isil.

Ahrar al-Sham

Not invited


The Kurds of northern Syria have toed a fine line, siding with neither the regime nor the rebels in Syria’s civil war but occasionally doing deals with both as they try to carve out a semi-autonomous state. Part of the broader Kurdish nationalist movement led by the PKK in Turkey, the PYD – the political wing, leading both male (YPG) and female (YPJ) fighting brigades, it is historically Marxist, Kurdish nationalist stance.
That puts it at odds with the avowedly Syrian, Arab and often Islamist nature of the revolution. For this reason, and its occasional ties with the regime, the other invitees to the Riyadh conference see them as hostile.

Jabhat al-Nusra

Jabhat al-Nusra was founded by Islamic State of Iraq in late 2011 to infiltrate the Syrian revolution, and has since become one of its strongest forces. It split from Isil in 2013, but retains its loyalty to al-Qaeda, for which reason it is blacklisted as a terrorist organisation internationally. Attempts, particularly by Qatar, to break this link have failed and any peace deal in Syria would almost certainly mean current allies would be forced to turn on it and drive it out of the country – a tall order.


Currently the world’s most feared terrorist group

This primarily northern group was established by Islamists and originally included internationally known jihadists with long-standing ties to al-Qaeda. However, in the last three years, particularly since the assassination of most of its leadership in a mysterious explosion while they were conducting a meeting, it has sought to moderate its image, partly at the behest of its backers in Turkey and Qatar.
It maintains an alliance on the ground with Jabhat al-Nusra, but internationally says it is prepared to accept elections as having a place in the future of Syria, and crucially disavows calls for international jihad.

Independent Islamist groups

A string of independent brigades, many locally raised and led, proclaiming adherence to a variety of creeds but claiming to be both Islamic and democratic, have also been invited to send representatives

7--Donald Trump Deflects Withering Fire on Muslim Plan

Many Republican leaders have struggled with how to deal with Mr. Trump, who has tapped into a deep well of anger and frustration among voters who polls show have lost trust in their elected officials and in many institutions. But they are also concerned about the impact that Mr. Trump will have on the party’s chances of recapturing the White House.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney, said in a radio interview late Monday that “this whole notion that somehow we need to say ‘no more Muslims’ and just ban a whole religion goes against everything we stand for and believe in.” And the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, noted that the idea would bar American allies like King Abdullah of Jordan from visiting the country, calling it “completely and totally unworkable.”

8--WSWS on meetings in Saudi Arabia

As the air strikes intensified in Syria, the US-backed monarchy in Saudi Arabia hosted a meeting Tuesday bringing together so-called Syrian rebels and a collection of exile politicians tied to various foreign regimes and intelligence services.

While the Al Nusra Front, Syria’s Al Qaeda affiliate, was excluded from the talks in Riyadh, representatives from both Ahrar al-Sham and Jaish al-Islam were present. Both militias are composed of Salafist militants, seeking the creation of an Islamic state in Syria. Both collaborate closely with Al Nusra and both are rabidly sectarian, railing against Shia, Alawites, Jews and Christians and carrying out sectarian killings. In the case of Ahrar al-Sham, its senior leaders were drawn from Al Qaeda.
In an official statement describing these elements, the Saudi regime said that “all Syrian moderate opposition segments” had been invited to the meeting, which is scheduled to last three days. The ostensible aim is to create a unified opposition able to negotiate a “political transition” with Assad’s government.

In fact, only Sunni Islamist elements backed by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey were invited to the meeting. Syrian Kurdish factions and their allies, who have received US backing and armaments in their fight against ISIS, were excluded. They, together with some Arab tribal and Assyrian allies, held their own meeting in eastern Syria.
While Washington appears to be prepared to embrace the Islamist militias invited to Riyadh as “moderates,” using aging Syrian exiles to give them something of a political cover, within the US itself these same groups are treated as “terrorists

The Washington Post reported Tuesday on the arrest and indictment of Amin al-Baroudi, an American citizen of Syrian origin, on charges of providing firearm scopes, tactical vests and other supplies to Ahrar al-Sham. Federal prosecutors in the case charged that the group “frequently fights alongside Jabhat a-Nusra, which has been designated by the United States as a foreign terrorist organization and operates as al-Qaeda’s official branch in Syria.” It added that its goal was to “install an Islamic state in Syria.”...

US Secretary of State John Kerry said that he was hopeful that talks on ending the Syrian war would reconvene in New York City on December 18, adding that this would depend on developments this week, including the conference convened by the Saudis.
The Russian Foreign Ministry, however, said that it was “premature” to set such a date. “Not having a collective understanding of who in Syria is a terrorist and who is an opposition member, it is impossible to hold talks on the internal Syrian political process or on such an important and urgent matter as the ceasefire,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

9--Here's something you just gotta hear;  Imperialism, the “war on terror” and anti-Muslim hysteria

The statements by Donald Trump have been met with self-righteous indignation by politicians and media figures, who claim they are shocked by his statements. Who are they kidding? The blathering of this fascistic imbecile expresses only in more concentrated form the perpetual hysteria one hears every day in the media. The difference between Trump and someone like CNN’s Wolf Blitzer is just a matter of degree. He is the product of a diseased political environment.

The unleashing of the forces of extreme reaction is, in fact, an organic expression of the nature of imperialism itself. ....The putrefaction of contemporary capitalist society—based on parasitism, financial swindling, war and looting—is once again spewing up political filth in the form of racist demagogy.

The whole experience of the 20th century has demonstrated the fact that imperialist war is always accompanied by attacks on democratic rights and the whipping up of xenophobia...

During every imperialist war, the ruling class seeks to cultivate the most backward and racist sentiments. The “war on terror,” which has led to the deaths of at least a million Muslims, is no different, creating an environment in which racist hysteria is relentlessly promoted in the media....

the abrogation of democratic rights continued under Obama, whose particular contribution was the institutionalization of state-sponsored murder as a central plank of American foreign policy.
The political impotence of what counts for contemporary liberalism, as well as the various pseudo-left organizations, is a result of the fact that they are deeply implicated in promoting and justifying war and militarism

10--China and Iran: The Persian Leopard and the Dragon: Awakening (must read)

11--NYT calls ahrar al Sham an "ultraconservative group "??
However, signs of divisions among the participants emerged quickly, when Ahrar al-Sham, one of the most powerful rebel factions in Syria, released a statement suggested a compromise vision for the country's future remains far from reach.
The ultraconservative group objected to the presence of some of the other participants at the meeting

12---Rothschild  role in illegal oil trade?

According to a July 2014 Forbes article, "Genel's big backers are banking scion Nathaniel Rothschild and Turkish billionaire Mehmet Emin Karamehmet." The company's CEO is Tony Hayward, the former head of BP. Forbes adds, "with pull like that, no wonder Genel has plunged into developing virgin oilfields in the region despite insistence from Iraq's oil ministry in Baghdad that their contracts with the KRG (Kurdistan Regional Government) are illegal." Hayward stepped down in disgrace after his flubbed response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill; he'd said that the environmental impact of the spill would likely be "very very modest" and called it "relatively tiny"....

Kamens suggests that the stolen oil is being transferred through the Georgian port of Batumi and, possibly, through the Ukrainian port of Odessa.
Furthermore "Turkey is known to have smuggled Kurdish crude oil through another port, Ceyhan, for years. That port is state-owned," the expert notes.

13--Drone operators denounce program

14--Greenwald on Trump

15--Syria: Ultimate Pipelineistan War

16--Is It Terrorism or is It Religion? Does It Really Matter?

When you bully people long enough they are going to strike back.
In 2006 Osama bin Laden was inspired to tell Americans to read my book Rogue State because it contained the following and other similar thoughts of mine: “If I were the president, I could stop terrorist attacks against the United States in a few days. Permanently. I would first apologize – very publicly and very sincerely – to all the widows and the orphans, the impoverished and the tortured, and all the many millions of other victims of American imperialism.”
So does this mean that I support ISIS?
Absolutely not. I think they’re one of the most disgusting collection of supposed humans in all of history.
“With or without religion, good people will do good things and bad people will do bad things. But for good people to do bad things – that takes religion.”  Steven Weinberg, Nobel Prize-winning physicist

17--Andre Vltchek: On Hezbollah

Now we have to remember, in the West, Hezbollah is portrayed as a terrorist organization mainly because of its decisive stance against Israel. But Hezbollah is the only inclusive force in Lebanon. By inclusive I mean they do not only assist their supporters, the Shiites, they extend help to other Muslims and to Christians.
You know Lebanon is absolutely a destabilized country economically. And Hezbollah is the only social force in the country that helps the people. Hezbollah is an extremely respected force even among Christians. When you talk to Ashrafiya or to most people even if they do not support Hezbollah they respect them tremendously for the things they are doing. They are a pure socialist movement that acts by its strict socialist doctrine. It is not the perfect force, but the only one in Lebanon that works for the good of the people.

The West and Israel do not want you to know that about Hezbollah. They want you to believe that Hezbollah is a fundamentalist terrorist movement. So Hezbollah is a sore in the eyes of the West and Israel....

Andre Vltchek: There is no Middle East any more. We are talking about the oldest and the greatest cultures of the world with great humanist traditions, not only religion. There is nothing left, a complete devastation. Totally uprooted. You have people who are running the Gulf countries and the Middle East who are basically criminals. Basically, there is nothing left there except confusion.
As one of the greatest Turkish writer said to me. In Turkey and in all the Middle East
People are very smart and they know perfectly well what is going on but they are all feeling helplessness hopelessness’ and full of cynicism. Because you either accept the game and try to get ahead, or you will be crushed.

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