Monthly Archives: April 2017

Trump asking Saudi Arabia ‘We want more money to defend you’ is a Protection racket


And why America did not and will not attack the Islamic Republic of Iran…

Key words: USA, U.S., Saudi Arabia, Iran

By Elijah J. Magnier: @EjmAlrai

US President Donald Trump complained that “Saudi Arabia was not treating the US fairly and that Washington was losing a tremendous amount of money defending the Monarchy”.

President Trump has forgotten that Saudi Arabia is not in a state of war with its neighbours and that no country in the Middle East is threatening it: Trump is effectively asking for a “protection racket” from the oil-rich Monarchy to appease this American president who promised his citizens he “will be the greatest jobs producer that God ever created”,- apparently at the expense of the Saudis.

Trump is pretending to ignore the fact that Saudi Arabia is already investing more than $750 billion in the United States. Moreover, during last March’s visit to Washington, Saudi deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman promised President Trump to invest another $56 billion and this is the issue of Trump’s frustration: the US President was expecting a Saudi investment of $200 billion, hence his disappointment, as if the Saudis should have no limits faced with the US demands.

In fact, the Arabs generously contributed to the Gulf war with over $620 Billion, paid mainly for the seven months presence of US troops, Britain, France and only $8 Billion to Syria and Egypt on Saudi soil. Saudi Arabia bought an overinflated quantity of US weapons and spare parts, enough for decades. Moreover, Saudi Arabia has been financially involved in funding much of what the United States has requested to implement its foreign policy, starting from the Afghan war to the on-going Syrian war.

Indeed, Washington benefited from the religious resentment between Sunni and Shiite Muslims in the Islamic world, to create a scarecrow called the Islamic Republic of Iran. The US took advantage of the early years of the Iranian revolution when Tehran has participated in overseas attacks.

Washington has used the existing hostility towards Iran among the gulf countries to envision the “Islamic Republic” as an enemy trying to occupy the Middle East. The aim was to keep the Arab “golden goose” (monies) flowing into the pockets of the United States of America to feed its economy.

The biggest shock to the Arab countries came when former US President Barack Obama declared that Iran no longer posed a nuclear threat to its neighbours, withdrew the nuclear dossier from circulation, and thus made Iran a state that the United States and Europe could legitimately deal with.

This is what has angered US businessmen and, in consequences, the new President of the United States, Donald Trump: the end of the Iranian nuclear file and the proof of the absence of Iranian nuclear bombs means the closure of a large source of livelihood for Washington. It was no longer possible to use the nuclear dossier as blackmail leverage against the countries of the Middle East. This is not what Trump wanted, he who considers the Arabs have only money- and he wants it.

Upon his arrival at the White House, Trump publicly pretended to be an enemy of Iran. But he took no action against Tehran – except sanctions against Iranian Revolutionary Guard officers preventing these from accessing “their” bank accounts in the US banks that they had never owned. Trump uses the anti-Iran rhetoric enough to keep the memory of the Gulf countries alive and their pockets generously available for his hands to dig in.

If Trump goes against Iran from rhetoric to action, he will lose the card of using Iran as an “enemy state” that would benefit by attracting more Arab-Islamic money into America’s pockets. Trump has started with selling weapons and ammunitions to the Saudi so their military machine continues bombing the poorest Muslim country, Yemen, disregarding the human aspect he claims to care most about: but it would seem his human side is developed only in Syria.

Trump’s main concern is his passion for Twitter, to attack mainstream media and grumbling about his new job as President of the United States, which “prevented him from driving,” he told Reuters, revealing that he thought “his work as president would be easier.”

Trump said he would not engage any battle in Syria that would lead to World War Three. Upon reaching the White House, he send 59 Tomahawk missiles against the Shay’rat military airport just days after he said the removal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was not his objective. After his bombing of the Syrian airfields, Trump said, “Assad should go”, but changed his mind days later and accepted the fact that the Syrian people have the freedom to decide their fate.

Today, there is a widespread conviction that Trump himself does not know what Trump will decide the next day. He keeps changing his mind and, as a consequence, Saudi Arabia moves from one day as best ally to an unfair Monarchy not paying the money he has expected ($200bn instead of $56 bn).

This is the president of the United States, with whom the world will apparently live with for the next four years, theoretically confirming the Middle Eastern sayings: ‘what can happen next might be greater (Al-ati a’zam)’, and ” you will be governed by those who reflect who you are “ (Qama Takounou Youwalla Alaykoum).

Israel challenges Russia and Turkey hits the two superpowers and allies in Syria



Published here:  v

Key words: Israel, Syria, Hezbollah, Iran, Russia, USA, Kurds.

Elijah J. Magnier – @EjmAlrai

Israel has bombed Damascus destroying fuel oil and weapons stockpiles at the capital’s airport. Iranian flights transport weapons and ammunitions on a regular basis to Damascus airport as part of its “struggle against terror”, but also to arm the seven brigades operating under its command over the entire Syrian territory, from the north to the south of the country. Moreover, Iran is also responsible for arming and training other Syrian groups related to the struggle against Israel, mirroring the Lebanese Hezbollah group. In fact, the 6 years of the Syrian war were fertile enough to enable many Syrians to join Iran and Hezbollah and to adopt their cause, especially as Israel occupies Syrian territory: the Golan heights.

But most important is the timing of the Israeli hit, that comes only a few hours after the announcement by Moscow that its forces controlled the entire Syrian air space, hinting that no jet would be allowed without previous coordination and consensus from the Russians- who are in self-declared fashion, the ones holding the magic wand to make a good or bad weather in Bilad al-Sham.

This Israeli challenge strikes at the Russian image in the Middle East, presenting Moscow – a superpower no doubt – as either soft, or in harmony with Israeli action in Syria. In both cases, for the Middle Easterners, Russia becomes a weaker partner, not up to their image of a superpower. If Russia doesn’t react against Tel Aviv’s continuous violation of Syrian airspace and hit different targets in the capital, south and other parts of the country, the conspiracy theory will prevail. Moscow has to react to this or any other Israeli attack against Syria.

Most importantly, Tel Aviv managed through its multiple calculations and control of arms to hit Damascus immediately following the visit of the Moldova born Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Liberman to the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during a conference on International Security in Moscow. Israel relied on the well-known passive Russian stance towards the Iranian-Israeli-Hezbollah struggle. However, this gave a kind of permission to Tel Aviv to hit targets in Damascus that naturally “represent a danger to Israel’s national security”.

This Israeli attack ordered by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu carried several messages and tests the pulse of Russia’s reaction, challenging – from an apparently innocent position –the chess and Judo player Vladimir Putin and to boot scoring a point against the Kremlin. Moreover, Tel Aviv had its revenge on Lavrov who had said, hours before the Israeli attack on Damascus, that “Hezbollah is not a terrorist organisation”. Lavrov, during a press conference with the Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir considered the presence of the Lebanese group and Iran as being as legitimate as that of the Russian Army.

But Russia is not the only superpower whose pride and image in Syria were hit (without disregarding its determined military role on the ground and its unconditional stand with the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad at the United Nations). The United States position was also shaken, when Washington said it is watching with deep concern the Turkish attack against the Kurdish Syrian People’s Protection Units (YPG). Turkey is a NATO member and the American ally, while the YPG militants fight alongside the US Special Operation Forces against the “Islamic State” (ISIS) group in Tabqa and Raqqah. The US position increased Syrian chaos and confusion: Washington looked weak and incapable of protecting an essential ally in the fight against ISIS. The Syrian Kurds are risking their lives offering tremendous sacrifices in a hostile and disharmonious region (the Kurds and the Arab tribes in the Raqqah province are not in excellent terms with one another) with a very slim gain.

Turkey wanted to deliver a message to both superpowers (Russia and the US) that its role cannot be neglected or ignored in Syria. Russia surrounded the Turkish Army and its Syrian proxies in the northern city of Al-Bab and the US around Manbij to prevent Turkey from advancing further in Syrian territory under the pretext of fighting ISIS. Ankara’s new Sultan managed to hit three birds (US, Russia and the YPG) with one stone without triggering any reaction, mainly because of the two superpowers’ fear of more involvement in the Syrian quagmire.

Syria has become the stage for contradictory alliances,a kind of stadium where all players close the doors behind them with everybody on the field, all in one small space, playing and fighting: no one can come off or take distance or be a spectator. The struggle of so many countries on Syrian territory has damaged the reputation of many of these players. The Kurds will think carefully before declaring animosity towards Damascus because the US “doesn’t have friends”, only business partners serving its interests. While Moscow wants to establish itself in the Middle East with boots and military presence on the ground, and-indeed-wants to have friends, it is learning the complexity of the Middle East the hard way : it is indeed trying to play the game but receiving hits below the belt, apparently unaware that, in this part of the World, there are no rules that stand for ever.

America is trying to block the path of the “Shiite crescent” from Syria and is preparing the ground for a “new Middle East”.


  • The Hezbollah message to Israel
  • Fua and Kfarya agreement, an unknown fate again
  • Battlefield development

Key words: Syria, Russia, U.S., Israel, saudi Arabia, Iran, Hezbollah, Kurds, Turkey.

Published here:   v

By Elijah J. Magnier: @EjmAlrai

The southern Syrian opposition forces moved south from the city of Suweida along the Syrian-Jordanian border towards the ancient city of Palmyra in central east Syria. These forces took control of around forty villages, including al-Tanaf, one of the border crossings between Syria and Iraq. They have managed to occupy part of the Syrian desert (called al-Badiya al-Souriya) and aim to reach alBu Kamal, an important border city under the control of the “Islamic State” group (ISIS) between the al-Qaem and Raqqah-Deirezzour axes.

The United States has provided the necessary weapons for these rebel forces – the intensity of the usage of the anti-tank and anti-personnel TOWs laser guided missile is the best indicator. If these forces reach alBu Kamal (about 700 km from Suwayda), they would stop any possible intervention of Iraqi forces in Syria, under the pretext of hunting down ISIS to prevent their return to Iraq. In fact, this plan is not innocently aiming to disrupt the ISIS connection between Syria and Iraq, but to put an end to the “Shiite crescent”.

This “Shiite crescent” that the Sunni Gulf countries fear – not feared by the United States because it doesn’t represent any threat to the US security – is connecting Tehran, Baghdad, Damascus and Beirut. The idea of the “Shiite Crescent” was first raised by the Jordanian King Abdallah al-Hashemi in 2007, the days when the Americans occupied the country, removed Saddam Hussein and gave the power in Mesopotamia to the majority Iraqi Shia, cutting off the “Sunni Crescent” that was besieging the Islamic Republic of Iran and dominating the Middle East.  If interrupted at albu Kamal, it would certainly please Saudi Arabia and Israel, the two main countries highly concerned about Shia unity in the Middle East.

This southern forces’ progress coincides with the surge of the “Syrian Democratic forces” (SDF)(led by the Syrian Kurds and some Arab tribes in north-east Syria) towards the borders of the city of Tabqa and north of the city of Raqqa, where these forces are now about 9 km from the Syrian capital (undeclared) of ISIS. This religious extremist group is losing significant ground in Iraq and in Syria under the multiple hits of its multiple enemies. Thus, the dream of ISIS “State” begins to fade (without necessarily its total annihilation) ISIS is the phenomenon that harshly struck both the Middle East and the West, principally in the last three years.

With the advance of US-backed forces in the Northeast and southeast of Syria, the partition of the Levant is at an advanced stage and its features are becoming more apparent. Russia, Iran, and Damascus have no power, for the time being, to strike the partition project in the immediate future because there are other priorities around Damascus, Daraa and Idlib. At the same time, it is practically certain that these territories, if cut off from the central government in Damascus, will not be declared new states in the future.

As for Russia, it has already survived sharing territory with the United States (Berlin after World War II) without clashing. Moscow is unwilling to engage a war with Washington for the unity of the Levant, as long as there is a stable central government in Damascus, its military installations in Syria are not at risk, its own interests in the Syrian coast are reserved, and its naval presence in the warm Mediterranean water is preserved: contracts between Moscow and Damascus have been already signed for the duration of 49 years allowing the Russian forces to enlarge its naval base in Tartous. This indicates that in the years to come Syria will see different foreign forces on its soil. Turkey is occupying – like the United States – part of the Syrian north (from Jarablus to Tal-Abiyad). At the same time, the forces of Ankara are trying to prevent the Syrian Kurds from installing a federation or a canton on the Turkish borders. All the above indicates that the conflict in the Levant will not end quickly due to the conflicting interests of many countries far and near in Bilad al-Sham.

Moreover, the Israeli interest will be taken into consideration during the process of the partition of Syria. Israel, whose forces are constantly interfering with the Syrian war, recently bombed   the weapons stores of the Syrian army and its allies and is continuously reminding the world of its intention to keep the occupied Golan heights. Furthermore it is establishing a good relationship with some Syrian rebels and jihadists to create a buffer zone to the already existing occupied territory. The Trump intention to create “buffer zones” to justify the occupation of Syrian territories does not fall on deaf ears in Israel and the Gulf countries, eager to see the fall of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and its relationship with Iran and Hezbollah at the gates of Damascus.

The visit of US Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis to the Middle East last week raised questions about what Washington could be preparing for the Middle East. Trump is following in the footsteps of Barack Obama, with regard to the Syrian file, but went even beyond his predecessor by overtly declaring his hostility towards Iran and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Hezbollah responded to this visit in its own way during the media tour of the southern border, when one of his officers explained to the journalists how much the Lebanese group is informed and closely watching the Israeli defence system on the borders. Hezbollah is aiming – without mentioning it clearly – to tell Israel that:

  • Its fears that the group breaks into the land adjacent to the Lebanese border are real,
  • The next war will be taking place outside Lebanese territory if possible,
  • It is ready for war if it is imposed
  • Its significant involvement in Syria will not affect its readiness to confront Israel.

These indirect, reciprocal messages (Israeli bombing of warehouses in Syria and Hezbollah on the Lebanese-Israeli borders) create a climate of war in the Middle East inflaming further the atmosphere as the heat of the summer approaches this unstable microcosm of the world.

Battlefield progress and Fua and Kfarya besieged cities:

On the Syrian battlefield, clashes continue on more than one front:

In the South, Daraa represents a stumbling block to the US post project of the “southern buffer zone” where the Syrian Army and its allies have injected more forces to prevent its fall and to recover more territory inside the strategic city.

In the centre of Syria, al-Qaeda (under the name of the Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham – HTS) and its allies lost all that they had gained in the previous battles and the campaigns they had led in Jobar. The Syrian army recovered Jobar, attacked al-Qabun, and expanded its control to include areas it has not entered for four years.

In the North, the city and rural Hama, the Syrian army enlarged the security perimeter around the airport, reached a distance not far from the administrative border of the city of Idlib after the recovery of Hulfiyah (al-Qaeda stronghold), securing the Christian city nearby of Mhardeh and with the intention to push forces towards Morek and Khan-Sheikun.

On the one hand, in Kfariya and Fua, the exchanges ended after the exit of all militants and civilians from the two besieged cities of  Zabadani and Madaya, willing to leave for Idlib (over 13000 militants and civilians remained in Madaya and agreed to settle their situation with the Syrian state). On the other hand, 8000 civilians and wounded left the two besieged cities of Fua and Kfarya for Aleppo. 149 were killed and over 200 wounded by the suicide attack that hit the civilian convoy of Fua and Kfarya while waiting to cross into the al-Qaeda controlled area.

Moreover, 24 Qatari and 2 Saudi hostages in Iraq by Hezbollah-Iraq were freed as part of the “four Syrian cities deal”.  The Syrian government released 700 prisoners from its jails, also as part of the negotiation carried out by Qatar, Iran and Turkey on behalf of all parties and belligerents.

To date, more than 8,000 civilians and more than 3,500 militants remain inside the two cities of Fua and Kfarya: the deal consists in evacuating these after 60 days. The fate of these people is uncertain and their position is weaker than before. The presence of Zabadani (totally evacuated) militants under siege prevented al-Qaeda and its allies from attacking Fua and Kfarya. So what are their bargaining tools?

“There is a possibility of exchanging the militants in Bludan, Sahem and Babila- as well as other tools made available to protect Fua and Kfarya from extermination. The alternative – said a decision maker on the ground in Syria – would be to force the road from southern Aleppo in the direction of northern Idlib to reach Fua and Kfarya and liberate the trapped inhabitants. Moreover, Russia has ensured that it will spare no effort to bomb and hit any attempt to attack civilians in these besieged cities if in imminent danger. However, it is clear that in 60 days many things can happen, and priority changes are not excluded”.

Damascus has released only 120 (out of the 700) significant detainees. Many are still in jail and thousands of people are, and expect to be in the coming months, trapped in several areas of Syria. The map of the “new Middle East” is beginning to surface, announcing a long instability. It is as if this part of the world were lying in some kind of marshes where the two superpowers are engaged in a game of stealth, each demanding its share to satisfy its own needs and those of its allies. Because Syria is always full of surprises, it is not excluded to see more Russian troops injected and leading attacks, mainly against the forgotten and most dangerous group: al-Qaeda.



The fire of the Syrian war is spreading following US tomahawk deployment


Published here:  via

Elijah J. Magnier – @EjmAlrai

When President Donald Trump was elected, the world expected him to dedicate his attention to the US economy and avoid unnecessary involvement in wars. In point of fact, since day one (even before he was President) he has been “in bed” with the Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to the American mainstream media who harshly attacked him for it.

After the Tomahawk launch against the Syrian military airport of Sha’ayrat in south-east Homs, those promoting regime change and war involvement against the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have been asking Trump: What’s next?

Trump came out of his comfort zone to justify why he did not hit the Syrian airport runways saying “they are easy and inexpensive to quickly fix (fill and top)”. The reason for such a justification is due to the rapid recovery of the airport where Damascus ordered – only hours after the tomahawk bombing – several attacks against the al-Qaeda stronghold in Idlib, flying from Sha’ayrat the same afternoon and the following day as well, to prove the ineffectiveness of Trump’s Tomahawks.

Talking to decision makers in Syria, it was confirmed that the Tomahawks hit the central command and control, ammunition warehouses, anti-air system, several jets and gasoil depot, without altering the military capability of the Syrian Air Force, for now. Nevertheless, the sources believe this is only one step, possibly many others to follow by the United States, aiming to divide Syria by waving the banner “humanitarian responses”.

Moscow, Damascus and Tehran issued a common statement “swearing they will respond to any further aggression”. Russia suspended its memorandum with the US, endangering any jet flying over Syria without authorisation. Indeed, many countries which are part of the US-led coalition suspended their participation until diplomacy returns and replaces the confrontational language. But Russia is not expected to bring down any US jet and its approach seems, until today, not aggressive towards the US.

Russia is indeed today the key to a long war in Syria where the situation can deteriorate if its intervention remains “shy”. However, it is clear that Moscow is taking its time to think about the next steps, observing the new US administration’s behaviour following the sharp turn of Trump, who had declared that changing the regime in Syria was not his objective and then days later joined the voices to oust Assad from power.

In the meantime, Russia is bombing jihadist and rebel positions and asking for all modern Syrian Air Force jets to be placed at Hmaymeem, its military airport and base on the Syrian coast, equipped with S-300 and S-400 anti-air missiles and under its own protection. Moreover, Russia will increase the Syrian Air force capability and will supply Damascus with the weapons it was hesitant to do before the Tomahawk attack. Russia is aware that the war in Syria is not only about Assad but also about the failure or success of Russia and its reputation as a superpower. Russia is expected to adopt a much more aggressive military approach following news of the US possible supply of advanced weapons to rebels who work together with al-Qaeda in Syria. However, there is a danger of Russia looking weak faced with an aggressive US President and his team who are challenging Moscow in Syria and sending tomahawks over the heads of the Russian forces, forces which are actually physically present on the same military base (Sha’ayrat) that was hit by Trump Tomahawks.

Decision makers in Damascus (which adopts a more optimistic approach) said: “What has happened can only have a positive outcome. The Tomahawks have reinforced the Russian-Iranian relationship where tactical differences regarding the military operations were strongly present. Iran has been asking for Russian Air support to attack al-Qaeda and its allies in Idlib, the city that is very dear to Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and the US.

Russia, before the Tomahawks, rejected Iran’s request and aimed for a political resolution to the Syrian war rather than a military escalation- for fear of being dragged into the Syrian quagmire. The Afghanistan ghost is still hovering over Russia and Moscow has been avoiding any military escalation against the United States. But today Russia is much more convinced that no political solution will mature in Syria without eliminating or degrading al-Qaeda and its allies in Idlib, in a similar fashion to Aleppo. The longer Idlib remains under al-Qaeda, the higher the possibility of an extended duration of the war and the intervention of foreign forces in Syria, endangering both Syrian and Russian security”.

According to these decision makers in Syria, the US under Trump leadership is “much more dangerous than the leadership of a professional politician. Hillary Clinton wanted to intervene in Syria and Trump is walking on the same path but is much more aggressive towards Iran despite all the speculation regarding his positive contact with President Putin before he became President. Therefore, Syria is experiencing critical moments because its wide geography allows foreign forces to intervene using any pretext. Trump is using the terminology of “safe zones” in the south of Syria (to support Israel and create a buffer zone to the already existing occupied buffer zone in the Golan Heights), and in the northeast creating a Kurdistan Syria to the US’s advantage. Moreover, Turkey is already annexing part of northern Syria, and is not expected to leave anytime soon. All the talk about the unity of Syria is unfounded. The Khan Sheykhoun chemical attack is only an excuse for the partition of the country”.


Chemical gas:

Watching children struggling to breath and others dying in Khan Shaykhoun from nerve gas shook the world. From all the symptoms reported on social media, it is possible to confirm that a kind of nerve agent was present. Nevertheless, no scientific confirmation can lead to identification of the specific type of agent in the absence of a credible and impartial investigation on the ground to examine the location of the “attack” and the victims themselves. An examination of the agent would of course lead to its identification and consequently pinpoint the source.

Russia claims that a conventional attack hit a factory site with a chemical stockpile: this would be possible to confirm or deny if a physical investigation on the ground is carried out. However, al-Qaeda is in control of Khan-Shaykhoun and only the Guardian newspaper was allowed by the group to access a location the journalist was guided to , claiming it to be “innocent empty storage”, several days after the attack.

Moreover, the first responders, with bare hands, removed the victims to another location, a military setup in a large cave inside a mountain to flash water on the victims. The “white helmets” said to be on the spot within the first minutes, were obviously careless about the long minutes of the lethal effect of the nerve gas. This is another indication that no pure Sarin gas was used as the US Secretary of State claimed.

On social media, around 20 victims were filmed and exposed as a “proof”, while the number of victims pro al-Qaeda activists have provided is more than 90. Who are the other victims?

Serious doubts persist, whoever claims to hold the truth relating to the chemical attack. The opposition, the Jihadists, the regime supporters, activists, and analysts covering Syria: all have been involved in propaganda, manipulation of pictures and reporting one side of the story. If social media “proof” can trigger 59 Tomahawks, it won’t be surprising to see more similar “proof” in the future triggering the bombing of the Syrian Presidential Palace or a reason for thousands of US Marines to land in Syria.

The mainstream media is indeed influencing the inexperienced President, affecting his decisions (unless the bombing was just a pretext, which is most likely to be the case). Media have declared war on Assad since the first months of the war, reporting rumours and unconfirmed information without being on the ground in Syria (only a few newspapers maintain locals, who therefore are logically influenced by the militants where they live). These are driving for regime change, the partition of the country and the arming of the opposition and jihadists.

Assad was winning on all political and military fronts. He could have attacked a military zone, like Suran, where al-Qaeda fighters occupy the entire city without civilians, instead of a mixed residential and military area like Khan-Shaykoun. But again, no one holds the truth, and logic is not the strongest argument in any war.

Trump suggested his intervention was motivated by the “beautiful babies that were cruelly murdered”. The US President seems particularly drawn to the criminal act against the Syrian babies but not against all babies in the Middle East!

The Saudi Arabian-led coalition in Yemen backed by the United States and the United Kingdom killed 10.000 men women and children and wounded 43,000. 462,000 children under 5 years of age are suffering from acute malnutrition and are at seriously risk dying. 7 million people are at risk of famine and 14 million are unable to benefit from any medical care.

In addition, al-Qaeda and ISIS are exploiting the governance vacuum. The US Commander of central command General Joseph Votel considers Yemen a US “Vital interest”. The UK admits it is aware of 257 allegations of Saudi breaches of International law and the US allowed Lockheed and Martin to sell about $11.2 bn in “multi-mission” warships.

If we look at the history of the US towards “children”, we can quickly remember the 500,000 Iraqi children killed in the 90’s by the embargo and the famous “it is worth it” acknowledgment by the Secretary of State Madeline Albright then. Moreover, over 1 million people were killed by the US in Iraq.

Trump was moved by the “beautiful children”? All children are beautiful in any country and they are indeed the main victims of the atrocity of war. Sacrificing the people of the Third World in order for a liberal democracy to survive is unfortunately part of a widespread and general policy and practice adopted for centuries. Keeping the Middle East busy with wars and containing terrorism within the “walls” of the Middle East is apparently considered the best way for liberal democratic societies to survive. This is called politics.


Europe and the US have a plan to divide Syria but not to halt the war


The UK Foreign Minister Boris Johnson: “We certainly don’t want al-Qaeda to control Syria”.

Key words: Europe, Syria, US, UK, Germany, Norway, Russia.

Published here:  via

Elijah J. Magnier – During the Brussels Foreign Ministers meeting “Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region”, I asked the UK Foreign Minister Boris Johnson in private about the intentions of his country towards Assad and al-Qaeda:

Q: You said you can’t imagine Assad in power; do you have an alternative in mind?

BJ: “I think what we need to have is a proper transition. I spoke to my colleagues and we are going to be discussing this issue at the G7 meeting (in Italy scheduled on the 26 of May). We are working on a proposal”.

Q: None of you meeting today actually mentioned the danger of al-Qaeda. There are tens of thousands of fighters on the ground (in Syria) and these are much more dangerous than ISIS (The “Islamic State” group).

BJ: “Yah…Yah… Yah… We certainly agree with that”.

Q:Do you have a plan against al-Qaeda? Why is nobody mentioning AQ?

BJ: “Yah…Yah…Amm…well…sorry! We certainly don’t think…want them to take control…”.

Q:Are you thinking of doing something against al-Qaeda?

BJ: “Amm…Amm” (ending the conversation).

The Norwegian Foreign Minister BørgeBrende, present in Brussels, said that “the liberation of the north-eastern area of Syria, actually controlled by the Kurds and the Arab local tribes (supported by US Marines, Special Forces, tanks and Air Force)” is the top priority. The EU seems to concur with President Donald Trump in beginning the partition of Syria in order to register a “victory” over ISIS.

Nevertheless, Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, was clear when she pointed out that “Houdna” which involves both the cessation of hostilities and a global political settlement is the priority. Mogherini wasn’t clear about the European process for halting the war and obtaining a ceasefire that Moscow has been trying to achieve for months. With al-Qaeda present on all fronts (under different names, the most recent is Hay’atTahrir al-Sham), how is it possible to reach a global ceasefire or cessation of hostilities?

As its Emir Abu Mohamad al-Julani said himself in a recent interview, this is impossible when this group is excluded from any ceasefire deal. Moreover, there is no obvious strategy for how the European-Arab financial plan to support Syria ($6 billion agreed so far) is going to be distributed. Is it going to be given to the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad hence recognizing his authority, or it would be financial support for the area in north-eastern Syria under US control?

When EU members state “there is no possible solution in Syria with Assad in power” – as the German Foreign Minister Sigmar and his British counterpart pronounced in Brussels – it indicates that European countries have no intention of collaborating with Russia to end the war because they have no obvious plan of action or any visibility of what can be done against al-Qaeda.

European leaders express no view on the tens of thousands of jihadists stationed in the northern Syrian city of Idlib, around Hama, Damascus and the south of Syria. Moreover, there seems to be no plan to divide the Syrian rebels (most are fighting with al-Qaeda) from al-Qaeda itself. The rebels join jihadists’ ranks for fear of reprisals (annihilation, blackmail) or by their own “free” will. However, they all live in one trench in one city, and all bear the consequences of the al-Qaeda military plans when they mount attacks, as was done in Jobar, Hama and in the last few hours in rural Latakia and Jabal al-Akrad.

The rebels won’t be able to split from al-Qaeda nor fight against the jihadists if there is no specific plan or instructions by their sponsors to do so: we don’t see any halt whatsoever to the financial and weapons flow to the proxies in Syria. This indicates an international and regional will, a desire to see Russia sinking as much as possible into the Syrian quagmire, prolonging the war for as long as possible in the area where Russian, Iranians and their allies are present, and of course where the US forces are not deployed.

This may be the reason for the UK Foreign Minister’s hesitant answer when mentioning al-Qaeda in Syria and their fate. Europe cannot say it is supporting al-Qaeda in the Levant because it is the organization responsible for many attacks on European and American soil (without even mentioning the countries of the Middle East!), and it is held responsible for the US’s “War on Terror” for which the US is investing over $100 billion per year on counter-terrorism and invading Muslim countries.

But Russia is aware of the international community’s unstated intention in Syria. The US and the EU are determined not to allow Moscow to register any political/military victory that will offer the Kremlin a permanent and active place in the international arena. For this reason, Russia is expected to hit hard any attempt to disrupt its ceasefire plan. Any disruption of this kind will result in an increase in the numbers of those killed in the Syrian war and postpone further any political solution.

In Syria, a very complicated war started 6 years ago and is still going on.  Its consequences for the many countries which are directly involved are huge, and create an unpredictable future. This a dangerous situation, and it is in the vital interests of the international community to prevent further complication and unwanted drift by working together. The two superpower countries are on opposite sides in this small and therefore very dangerous territory,Bilal al Sham.







Did Assad use chemical weapons on Khan Shaikhoun to score an own goal in the international arena?



Key words: Syria, Assad, Chemical, Sarin, U.S. , Russia

Elijah J. Magnier – The first news came from Reuters, framed accusingly: “Syrian government chemical attack,” and quoting, as usual, rebel sources. The world stood by instinct against the regime in Damascus following the images of the victims of this attack, an atrocity against civilians which included many children. Khan Shaikhoun, a northern Syrian city in rural Idlib, is a core al-Qaeda (along with other jihadists and rebels) stronghold. Why would the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad attack eastern Khan Shaykhoun with chemical weapons?

Correspondents in Beirut, Amsterdam, Ankara, Istanbul, Brussels, Geneva, Holland, Washington and the United Nations wrote the Reuters article . Most of them have never been to Syria in the last few years and their source is “rebels” in al-Qaeda held territory and “information” from other social media accounts. But this is not the only influential media source that writes about Syria and has clearly never been to the country at any time during the last 6 years: the Washington post also does the same. The UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs (and a UK diplomat) doesn’t share the media “insightful information”.

Is journalism concerned with looking for the truth, or is it more important to follow a specific “newspaper policy” ? In fact, American media and analysts have been angry – not only with Assad – but above all with their newly elected President Donald Trump, watching every step or political move he makes since he took over in order to be able to to criticise him. Assad is simply a pawn in this US  political media game.

Assad avoided the US war by agreeing to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons programme to launch years later a chemical attack? We should look at who would benefit from the use of Sarin gas against civilians at this particular moment in Syria.

Several weeks ago, the al-Qaeda  (under the name of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham) Emir in Syria, Abu Mohamad al-Joulani, supervised the advance of his forces – along with other jihadists and US vetted groups under Al-Qaeda command – on Jobar (the Damascus outskirts) and Hama. Al-Qaeda and its allies managed to occupy considerable territory, surprising the Syrian Army. Following weeks of fighting, Damascus and its allies not only recovered all the lost territory in Jobar, but also advanced further in Al-Gabone, an area never reached for over 4 years. In Hama also, the Syrian Army managed to absorb the shock wave of the first attack and counter-attacked, recovering almost 90% of the lost territory. As in Aleppo, Joulani supervised the offensive to break the siege of the Syrian northern capital, supervising the military operations room and finally losing the battle, leaving behind hundreds of his militants dead on the battlefield.

In the north-eastern rural Aleppo, the Syrian Army is advancing into ISIS (the “Islamic State” group) occupied territory and has reached the Euphrates limit where the US forces draw the “red lines”, marking the beginning of “Kurdistan Syria” or the “Kurdish Federation” or canton in what the US military command promotes as “the right of the people in north Syria to self-determination”. The US forces enjoy the use of two main airports at the moment: one in Kobane (Ayn al-Arab) and one at Tabqa (with 2 runways under restoration at the moment by American engineers). This is the “safe zone” that President Trump spoke about concerning his intentions in Syria, a term which camouflages a new US occupation of land in the Middle East.

At the same time, the Russian and Syrian forces stopped the advance of Turkey toward ISIS territory and prevented Ankara’s forces and their Syrian proxies from attacking the Kurds in Manbij and Afrin-  to the dissatisfaction of President Erdogan.  Damascus can live with the Kurds – who are Syrian citizens and part of Syria – because these have roots in another part of the country, in north-west Afrin and in Aleppo. The Kurds need Damascus’s continuing collaboration. Damascus is determined to make life difficult for the US forces if these remain in the country and build military bases. The Syrian President doesn’t see an existential threat from the Kurdish side and considers al-Qaeda the real danger to eliminate. ISIS is not mentioned because it is fading away: only insurgents will be left in Bilad al-Sham which is not the case for al-Qaeda, well established in Syria.

On the political side, Assad enjoys a privilege position today, experiencing international support he never had in 6 years of war in Syria: the US, France and the UK all announced (prior the Khan Shaykhoun attack) that their objective is no longer to remove Assad from power. This announcement triggered outrage from the Syria opposition and the western media who saw in this message another opportunity to attack Trump. Even the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was “shocked” by the “deliberate attacks on Syrian civilians”. Attacking innocent civilians must have been quite a surprise for the Israeli government.

Finally, there is an ongoing negotiation between Qatar (representing al-Qaeda) and Iran (representing the Syrian government) which relates to the besieged cities of Fua-Kefraya (surrounded by al-Qaeda and its allies) and Zabadani-Madaya (surrounded by Hezbollah and the Syrian Army). The negotiation consists in initiating a demographic exchange where 8,000 civilians (out of approximately a total of 23,000 on each side) would leave on both sides to be relocated. The Fua-Kefraya inhabitants would settle in Quseyr, and the Zabadani-Madaya in the area left by the Alawites in northern Syria. This exchange was due to start on Wednesday-Thursday this week but was postponed for another week due to the “Sarin attack”.

The Fua-Kefraya versus Zabadani-Madaya exchange may not be straightforward. When Aleppo was reconquered by the Syrian government forces, the evacuation of tens of thousands of civilians was linked to the evacuation of only 1,250 civilians from the besieged city of Fua. Ahrar al-Sham militants, jihadist rebels, burned the buses but later allowed the exchange to take place. There are serious differences within al-Qaeda where many militants oppose this exchange. Nevertheless, it is in the advantage of Damascus and its allies to see the deal reach a positive outcome.

So all circumstances work against Assad if he uses chemical weapons against Khan Shaykhoun or against any other place in Syria: the consequences would be entirely to his disadvantage on all fronts, military, political, and international.

It is certainly true that the use of chemical weapons in Duma in the last years of the Syrian war facilitated the accusations against Assad this time. The Russian Defence Ministry said that the poisonous gas had leaked from a rebel chemical weapons warehouse in Khan Shaykhoun hit by Syrian Air Force strikes.

So why did the world media rush to condemn Assad (prior any official investigation) and every voice rejecting the idea of a regime change? Is it because the mainstream media and “born again Syria analysts” have become, in their own eyes, an entity per se with the right to “judge, condemn and pretend that decision makers should listen to their recommendations and do what experts believe it is right”? Those “Syria experts” – whose feet have never touched the soil of Syria (some have never even travelled to the Middle East, let alone experienced one of its many wars in these last decades) – gather their so-called “expertise” from following social media and “breaking news” very closely, just as if they were themselves part of a well established news agency or, like this author, journalists on the ground and really on the spot.