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Syria: ‘Rebels Played Russian Roulette, and Lost’

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By Tyler Durden Mon, Jul 9, 2018 • ZeroHedge


Russian fighter-bomber being guarded on the tarmac in Syria.


The Syrian-Russian offensive in the south has smashed through to the Jordanian border, one half of the southern rebel pocket has now folded -- only the half facing Israel remains

  • The Syrian army has captured an enormous amount of material supplied to the rebels by the west

Middle East analysts are appropriately noting"Rebels played Russian roulette, and lost" after Syrian Army ground forces accompanied by overwhelming Russian airstrikes in Syria's contested southwest region have collapsed anti-government lines with rapid speed.

Early Friday a major strategic victory was announced as government forces took the Nassib border crossing after recapturing a string of over 8 border outposts in Daraa province.

The Nassib crossing is among Syria's most important and busiest international border crossings, and sits along the Damascus-Amman international highway. Prior to the war it was a main artery for Syrian exports to GCC countries. 

Opposition leaders have confirmed the crossing will now be controlled by Syrian government and Jordanian authorities for the first time after the FSA flag long flew over the outpost since anti-Assad militants captured it in 2015.

The ongoing major offensive to take back Daraa and Al-Quneitra provinces from long entrenched FSA, al-Qaeda, and ISIS groups began last month, and though predicted by many to be a long and grinding affair that held the potential for external state military interventionthe unexpectedly rapid advance of pro-government forces has stunned observers. 



Al Masdar reports that three quarters of the region that witnessed the start of armed conflict in 2011 is now back under the control of Damascus:

As a result of these advances, the Syrian Army finds themselves in control of approximately 72 percent of southwest Syria. The remaining 28 percent is under the control of the Free Syrian Army, Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham and Jaysh Khaled bin Walid (ISIS affiliate).

Meanwhile Reuters reports that hundreds of troops in a large military convoy with Russian and Syrian flags have been seen heading to the newly liberated Nassib border crossing as anti-government fighters are laying down their weapons in droves.

According to Reuters:

Syrian rebels reached a deal with Russian officers on a phased handover of their weapons and the deployment of Russian military police near the Jordanian border, a rebel spokesman said.Ibrahim Jabawi said the agreement was reached during ongoing talks in a town in southern Syria that also includes a cessation of hostilities by both sides.

The past week especially has witnessed mass handovers as well as abandonment of weaponry on the part of anti-government insurgents, resulting in some interesting photographs.

Since the Syrian Army offensive in the southwest, many thousands of weapons have been recovered, including advanced anti-tank and shoulder fired rockets — a significant bulk of them originally supplied via the US, UK, Saudi Arabia, and other western allies:


SUBSTANTIAL ARMS CACHES FOUND BY SYRIAN ARMY (SAA). See the video below (still on YouTube, but it may vanish any time, so be sure to download it to your desktop!)



 

Anti-tank "TOW" missiles supplied as part of a CIA program have been recovered recently:

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Danny Makki@Dannymakkisyria

168. Negotiations between / & opposition groups in continue as new negotiating committee is formed. pic.twitter.com/ykpeBjSrxA

Danny Makki@Dannymakkisyria

169. made Anti tank missile launchers handed over by opposition fighters to in pic.twitter.com/qT9b5PhZ61

Even this far into the Syrian conflict and after many other such weapons seizures throughout the country, analysts and journalists have commented that the sheer numbers of advanced weapons — in most cases obviously externally supplied — are "staggering".  Meanwhile, all of this begs the question: where will all the surviving jihadists currently fleeing the Syrian battlefield go? (assuming Syria-Russia will hit the last major expansive jihadist bastion of Idlib next).

Days ago Middle East based journalist Elijah Magnier translated a command issued and circulated by senior al-Qaeda operatives in northern Syria.

The al-Qaeda terror leaders urged followers to take action outside Syria now that the government and Russia are emerging victorious: "put your explosive belt on, take your family to a safe place, don't think of coming to Idlib for there only humiliation & rely on guerrilla/ insurgency."

Communiqué by AQ in Syria (Hurras al-Deen) to foreign fighters & Syrian fighting among Mujahedeen: "put your explosive belt on, take your family to a safe place, don't think of coming to Idlib for there only humiliation & rely on guerrilla/ insurgency"

As we've never been shy to point out over the years, the West and its gulf allies armed al-Qaeda to the teeth in Syria — something so well documented that international arms monitoring groups can pinpoint weapons serial numbers down to identifying particular European transit points through which weapons flowed as part of CIA covert shipments.

Surely, just as many or more quantities of weapons as have already been recovered will remain in the hands of jihadists seeking to exit Syria... but where will they go?

Very unfortunately, we have an idea of where they might end up... as we predicted years ago in the following: They Sow the Cyclone - We Reap the Blowback

Up to You.

^3000US citizens have no real political representation.

We don't live in a democracy. And our freedom is disappearing fast.

I don't want to be ruled by hypocrites, whores, and war criminals.

What about you? Time to push back against the corporate oligarchy.

And its multitude of minions and lackeys.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

[su_panel background=”#f7f5ee”]PLEASE COMMENT ON OUR FACEBOOK GROUP OR IN THE OPINION WINDOW BELOW.
All image captions, pull quotes, appendices, etc. by the editors not the authors. 
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Parting shot—a word from the editors
The Best Definition of Donald Trump We Have Found

In his zeal to prove to his antagonists in the War Party that he is as bloodthirsty as their champion, Hillary Clinton, and more manly than Barack Obama, Trump seems to have gone “play-crazy” — acting like an unpredictable maniac in order to terrorize the Russians into forcing some kind of dramatic concessions from their Syrian allies, or risk Armageddon.However, the “play-crazy” gambit can only work when the leader is, in real life, a disciplined and intelligent actor, who knows precisely what actual boundaries must not be crossed. That ain’t Donald Trump — a pitifully shallow and ill-disciplined man, emotionally handicapped by obscene privilege and cognitively crippled by white American chauvinism. By pushing Trump into a corner and demanding that he display his most bellicose self, or be ceaselessly mocked as a “puppet” and minion of Russia, a lesser power, the War Party and its media and clandestine services have created a perfect storm of mayhem that may consume us all. Glen Ford, Editor in Chief, Black Agenda Report




Syria – Mainstream Media Lie About Watchdog Report On The ‘Chemical Attack’ In Douma

DISPATCHES FROM MOON OF ALABAMA, BY “B”

HELP ENLIGHTEN YOUR FELLOWS. BE SURE TO PASS THIS ON. SURVIVAL DEPENDS ON IT.


The disinformation campaign to frame Syria continues unabated, as is the demonisation of Russia. The Western media fall to new depths of depravity while the mass of the public remains clueless and confused, and unable or unwilling to oppose these crimes.


Douma victims—an staged event.  Widely disseminated picture by the Western media, facilitated by UK intel/CIA hybrid warfare asset The White Helmets. It's all lies. But a totalitarian system of information manipulation operating as "the free press" does not allow any light to get in to shift the public perception of these tragic events.


Some mainstream media are outright lying about the OPCW report on the alleged 'chemical attack' in Douma.

The Washington Post writes:

[A] global watchdog concluded that chlorine was indeed used in the city of Douma a day before rebel forces surrendered there.
...
In an interim report released Friday, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said its inspectors had discovered traces of “various chlorinated organic chemicals” across two sites it inspected.

The OPCW did not conclude at all that "chlorine was indeed used". It found some chemical compounds which have chlorine, carbon and hydrogen in various configurations as their main elements. There are hundreds if not thousands of "chlorinated organic chemicals". A plastic pipe made from polyvenylchlorid (PVC = (C2H3Cl)n) is made of the same elements. One could call it a "chlorinated organic chemical". Burning something made of PVC will releases various compounds many of which will themselves be "chlorinated organic chemicals". But finding residues of a burned plastic pipe or isolation in a home does not mean that chlorine gas was used in that place. Several of the compounds the OPCW found result from using chlorine to disinfect water. They can be found within the chlorinated water and about anywhere where chlorinated water was used.

The BBC made a similar 'mistake'. It headlined "Syria war: Douma attack was chlorine gas - watchdog".



It took extensive social-media outrage and several hours for the BBC to correct its 'mistake'. It now headlines: Syria war: 'Possible chlorine' at Douma attack site - watchdog. That is better but still a lie. Nowhere do the OPCW report or its Technical Statement (pdf) use the expression 'possible chlorine'. No editorial note was added by the BBC to reveal that the original dispatch was changed.

The Daily Beast headlines: Watchdog: Chlorine Was Used in Syria’s Chemical Attack

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons determined that chlorine was used in the chemical attack in the Syrian town of Douma, but found no evidence that nerve agents were involved.

That is an outright lie. The OPCW report does not say that chlorine was used. It mentions chlorine only twice and only in relation to previous incidents.

The Independent, AlJazeerah, the Australian ABC News and others offer the same lie to their readers.

A possible reason why so many outlets made this 'mistake' is the British news agency Reuterswhich first distributed this false claim:



Reuters has since changed the headline and text of that item from "chlorine" to "chlorinated chemicals" but attached no note of that change. Moreover it does not explain that "chlorinated chemicals" will be found about anywhere.

It is doubtful that these 'mistakes' were made out of sloppiness. The writers likely intend to create the false impression that Syria was responsible for a 'chemical attack' that did not happen. They would further have to explain that the U.S., France and the UK launched a  large cruise missile attack on Syria without any reason.

Posted by b on July 7, 2018 at 02:48 PM | Permalink


Select Comments
Liars and known liars.
The nice thing is that they are so easily caught out and evidently forced to change their tune.
Maybe some hope.

Posted by: adamski | Jul 7, 2018 2:55:16 PM | 1

And, as b noted yesterday, chlorine is commonly added to tap water. So, those kids hosed down at the hospital could have gotten "chlorinated" right then and there. ;-)

Posted by: Daniel | Jul 7, 2018 3:29:03 PM | 2

I agree with # 2, and why hasn't anyone else caught that, the water used to hose down the "kids"? Mistakes from the instigators, caught with their pants down. Will they be brought to the bar of justice? Of course not, the fogs of war.

Posted by: Eugene | Jul 7, 2018 3:37:53 PM | 3

Someone should warn these reporters that they are being exposed to these same scary chlorinated chemicals every time they swim in a pool. And they most likely have a stockpile of it in their own basement in a white jug labeled Bleach.

Posted by: UserFriendly | Jul 7, 2018 4:09:59 PM | 5

thanks b... pointing this out is an ongoing task... the big msm outlets revise there headlines after the fact and are not in any way apologetic about any of it either... they are carrying water for the propaganda specialists, paid for by the usa/uk and most ''backward western'' countries, canada included... that is why white helmet data is given regularly without any questions asked... hey - if i was paying millions of $ for what the white helmet type groups were serving up, i would want the msm to peddle it for me too! problem is - many more people are onto these lies and blatant propaganda organizations... they are falling behind in their ability to convince anyone..

Posted by: james | Jul 7, 2018 4:16:38 PM | 6

Chlorine gas is literally the easiest thing in the world to make. Practically guaranteed to if you blow up a janitor's closet. Mix bleach with anything acidic, toilet bowl cleaner, rust remover (CLR), mildew remover, ammonia, even vinegar. https://www.thoughtco.com/mixing-bleach-and-vinegar-609281

Posted by: UserFriendly | Jul 7, 2018 4:24:29 PM | 7

http://www.moonofalabama.org/2018/07/syria-many-media-lie-about-watchdog-report-on-the-chemical-attack-in-douma.html#more


About the Author

 ALL CAPTIONS AND PULL QUOTES BY THE EDITORS NOT THE AUTHORS

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Up to You.

^3000US citizens have no real political representation.

We don't live in a democracy. And our freedom is disappearing fast.

I don't want to be ruled by hypocrites, whores, and war criminals.

What about you? Time to push back against the corporate oligarchy.

And its multitude of minions and lackeys.




It’s Time To Start Getting Enraged At What Western Imperialists Have Done To Syria



horiz-long grey

HELP ENLIGHTEN YOUR FELLOWS. BE SURE TO PASS THIS ON. SURVIVAL DEPENDS ON IT.


[su_panel background="#fbfbf4"]PROFILES IN HYPOCRISY: Because of his egregious betrayals of the public trust, and his coups, assassinations, and wars behind people's backs, Obama remains the worst president on record, worse even than Bush2 and Trump (as yet). The latter may match him in perfidy and damage, eventually. It's what US presidents usually do. [/su_panel]

If this image bothers you, strikes you as extreme, it is a symptom of how far the establishment narrative has advanced inside you. Their propaganda—and lies—have constructed a glowing portrait of this man which is almost entirely untrue. The true Obama, the politician, is a repulsive bastard. Among other things, Obama left us with two ugly eggs: Syria and Ukraine, both flashpoints for WW3, and the theaters of terrible ongoing crimes. Thank you, Barack. Enjoy your ill-acquired millions.


Rumors are again swirling of an impending false flag chemical weapons attack in Syria, just as they did shortly before the highly suspicious Douma case in April. Warnings from Syrian and Russian intelligence, as well as US war ship movements and an uptick in US funding for the Al Qaeda propaganda firm known as the White Helmets, give these warnings a fair bit of weight. Since the US war machine has both a known regime change agenda in Syria and an extensive history of using liespropaganda and false flags to justify military interventionism, there’s no legitimate reason to give it the benefit of the doubt on this one. These warnings are worth taking seriously.

So some people are understandably nervous. The way things are set up now, it is technically possible for the jihadist factions inside Syria and their allied imperialist intelligence and defense agencies to keep targeting civilians with chemical weapons and blaming the Assad government for them until they pull one off that is so outrageous that it enables the mass media to manufacture public support for a full-scale assault on Damascus. This would benefit both the US-centralized empire which has been plotting regime change in Syria for decades and the violent Islamist extremists who seek control of the region. It also creates the very real probability of a direct military confrontation with Syria’s allies, including Russia.

But the appropriate response to the threat of a world war erupting in Syria is not really fear, if you think about it. The most appropriate response to this would be unmitigated, howling rage at the western sociopaths who created this situation in the first place.

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he United States and its allies started the war in Syria. The narrative that it was an organic uprising brutally attacked by the Assad government is a lie. There is no reasonable doubt about this. The former Prime Minister of Qatar said on television that the US and its allies were involved in the Syrian conflict from the very beginning. A WikiLeaks cable and a declassified CIA memo both show the US government plotting to provoke an uprising in Syria exactly as it occurred, years before it happened. Former Foreign Minister of France Roland Dumas stated that he was informed that the UK was engineering an uprising in Syria two years before the violence erupted in 2011, and General Wesley Clark stated that there were Pentagon plans to take out the Syrian government in 2001. Shortly after the violence started President Obama secretly authorized the arming and training of violent extremist factions for the overthrow of Assad in a CIA program code named Timber Sycamore, which along with Saudi finances has wound up aiding some of the most evil terror groups ever to exist.

Six hundred thousand Syrians have lost their lives as a result of this regime change intervention, many of those lives ending in the most horrific ways imaginable at the hands of depraved jihadists. It was planned, and the people who planned it have names and addresses. They deserve to be punished to the fullest extent of the law for what they did. We should all be loudly demanding war crimes tribunals and life imprisonment for these vicious criminals.
Shortly after the violence started Obama secretly authorized the arming and training of violent extremist factions for the overthrow of Assad in a CIA program code named Timber Sycamore, which along with Saudi finances has wound up aiding some of the most evil terror groups ever to exist.

We need a major adjustment of our emotional posture on this issue. We shouldn’t be sitting around nervously hoping Trump pulls US troops out and western-backed terror groups don’t stage another chemical attack, we should be screaming at these bastards to get their murderous tentacles out of that poor war-torn country immediately. We shouldn’t be meekly trying to justify our skepticism of the establishment Syria narrative while snide Guardian op-eds inform us that we are not permitted to think such things. We know that we are right. We know what these evil monsters did. We should be shouting the imperialists down, not the other way around.

NOTICE THAT IN THE VIDEO BELOW, JEFFREY SACHS MINCES HIS WORDS IN ORDER TO REMAIN "ACCEPTABLE" TO US TELEVISION AND NOT BE BANNED ENTIRELY. THUS HE CALLS US WAR CRIMES IN SYRIA  MERELY "MISTAKES",  THEREBY PRESERVING THE ASSUMPTION OF MORAL INNOCENCE BY WASHINGTON.  AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM LIVES ON TO KILL ANOTHER DAY. 



The same depraved sociopaths who raped Iraq are presently raping Iraq’s next-door neighbor Syria for the exact same reasons. They were wrong then. They are wrong now. We should be much more angry and aggressive in pushing back on their pernicious pro-interventionism narratives. There is no excuse for any faction of the western empire to be anywhere inside of that nation’s borders. Out. Now.

Much like medicine, anger can do more harm than good when used improperly. Channeled in a wholesome, conscious direction, however, it can be an indispensable tool for driving out the toxic influence of manipulators and exploiters.

The social engineers who manufacture the narratives which are dispensed to the mass media and repeated as fact to unsuspecting audiences rely heavily on the tactic of generating sympathy. Sympathy opens people up and allows narratives to be imbued with the power of belief in a way that bypasses skepticism and critical thinking. This is why the users and abusers you have known in your personal life are always telling stories about how much wrong has been done to them, or even going out of their way to make themselves look helpless and pathetic; if they can suck you in with sympathy, they can get you to buy into the other stories they need you to believe about who they are, who you are, what your relationship to them is, and how much money/resources/affection/sex/forgiveness you should give them.

The propagandists understand this dynamic all too well. They used people’s emotional reaction to 9/11 to manufacture support for not one but two full-scale ground invasions. They circulate pictures of dead children whenever their deaths can be blamed on a longtime target of western imperialism, but never when their deaths are caused by western imperialism. Today the narratives most prolifically circulated by proponents of regime change interventionism in Syria are almost entirely emotional in nature, consisting of nothing more than constant repetition of nonsensical talking points about civilians being brutalized by a sadistic dictator in various ways for no apparent reason. This is all to generate sympathy in order to bypass people’s skepticism of pro-interventionist narratives.

Anger is sympathy poison. It kills the sympathy you are feeling toward the narratives being promoted by those you are angry with, thus allowing you to see things clearly and eject them like the parasites they are. This is a very useful tool for dealing with the manipulators and exploiters in your personal life, and it is equally useful for the manipulators and exploiters who control western society with money, media manipulation, intelligence agency operations and brute military force. Creating momentum for widespread rage at those who unleashed the horrors inflicted upon the Syrian people immunizes the public from toxic war propaganda narratives by that much.

Six hundred thousand human lives. The chaotic violence which ended them was planned, orchestrated and overseen by the same multinational power establishment whose media propaganda machine has been singing us a seven-year lullaby keeping us from questioning the ongoing military presence and interventionism in that nation and steering us away from seeking justice for those responsible for all that death. If anyone is deserving of our loud, lullaby-shattering howling rage, it is these people.


And of course we will be fought tooth and claw on this by the US-centralized power establishment; no one is going to give us permission to do this. They will do everything they can to maintain control of the narrative and the veil of government opacity which shrouds those responsible for their Syria atrocities. But we will be attacking, which means that they will be forced to defend against those attacks. Rather than playing defensive and trying to justify our right to be skeptical while praying that there isn’t a devastating false flag attack in the illegally-occupied nation of Syria, we should be putting them on the back foot with rage and loud demands for justice. Righteous anger can severely hobble the propaganda machine they intend to use for further interventionism in that nation.

You cannot argue with the rage of someone who is certain that an unforgivable evil has been perpetrated. You simply cannot manipulate and narrative-spin your way around that; it plants an unbreakable, immovable object in the gears of the propaganda machine. By getting unapologetically furious, loud and aggressive and letting the wisdom of our anger guide our response to the situation in Syria, we can shift the zeitgeist of anti-imperialist sentiment from a meek “Oh gosh darn I sure hope the people who decimated Iraq do the right thing in Syria” to a thunderous “FUCK YOU. OUT. NOW.”

Which is where it should be.

A world in which war crimes tribunals are actually carried out for the imperialists responsible for the evils inflicted upon the Syrian people will look very different from the world that we are in now. But shoving angrily and aggressively against the establishment structures which made it possible and screaming for justice and vengeance is the first step toward creating that world.

Let’s not play defense and reaction anymore. Let’s stop waiting for something to go wrong and start forcing things to be right. It’s time to go on the offensive with this thing. Get angry and let it roar through you.

__________________________

Internet censorship is getting pretty bad, so best way to keep seeing the stuff I publish is to get on the mailing list for my website, so you’ll get an email notification for everything I publish. My articles and podcasts are entirely reader and listener-funded, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, checking out my podcast, throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypalor buying my bookWoke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.

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About the Author
 
Caitlin Johnstone
is a brave journalist, political junkie, relentless feminist, champion of the 99 percent. And a powerful counter-propaganda tactician.
 


 Creative Commons License  This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

horiz-long grey

Parting shot—a word from the editors
The Best Definition of Donald Trump We Have Found

In his zeal to prove to his antagonists in the War Party that he is as bloodthirsty as their champion, Hillary Clinton, and more manly than Barack Obama, Trump seems to have gone “play-crazy” -- acting like an unpredictable maniac in order to terrorize the Russians into forcing some kind of dramatic concessions from their Syrian allies, or risk Armageddon.However, the “play-crazy” gambit can only work when the leader is, in real life, a disciplined and intelligent actor, who knows precisely what actual boundaries must not be crossed. That ain’t Donald Trump -- a pitifully shallow and ill-disciplined man, emotionally handicapped by obscene privilege and cognitively crippled by white American chauvinism. By pushing Trump into a corner and demanding that he display his most bellicose self, or be ceaselessly mocked as a “puppet” and minion of Russia, a lesser power, the War Party and its media and clandestine services have created a perfect storm of mayhem that may consume us all. Glen Ford, Editor in Chief, Black Agenda Report 


black-horizontal

Up to You.

^3000US citizens have no real political representation.

We don't live in a democracy. And our freedom is disappearing fast.

I don't want to be ruled by hypocrites, whores, and war criminals.

What about you? Time to push back against the corporate oligarchy.

And its multitude of minions and lackeys.





Possible diplomatic breakthrough in southwest Syria – TTG

BE SURE TO PASS THESE ARTICLES TO FRIENDS AND KIN. A LOT DEPENDS ON THIS. DO YOUR PART.

Sic Semper Tyrannis

Up to You.

^3000US citizens have no real political representation.

We don't live in a democracy. And our freedom is disappearing fast.

I don't want to be ruled by hypocrites, whores, and war criminals.

What about you? Time to push back against the corporate oligarchy.

And its multitude of minions and lackeys.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
 Colonel W. Patrick Lang is a retired senior officer of U.S. Military Intelligence and U.S. Army Special Forces (The Green Berets). He served in the Department of Defense both as a serving officer and then as a member of the Defense Senior Executive Service for many years. He is a highly decorated veteran of several of America’s overseas conflicts including the war in Vietnam. He was trained and educated as a specialist in the Middle East by the U.S. Army and served in that region for many years. He was the first Professor of the Arabic Language at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. In the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) he was the “Defense Intelligence Officer for the Middle East, South Asia and Terrorism,” and later the first Director of the Defense Humint Service.” For his service in DIA, he was awarded the “Presidential Rank of Distinguished Executive.” This is the equivalent of a British knighthood. He is an analyst consultant for many television and radio broadcasts.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

[su_panel background=”#f7f5ee”]PLEASE COMMENT ON OUR FACEBOOK GROUP OR IN THE OPINION WINDOW BELOW.
All image captions, pull quotes, appendices, etc. by the editors not the authors. 
[/su_panel]

black-horizontal

Parting shot—a word from the editors
The Best Definition of Donald Trump We Have Found

In his zeal to prove to his antagonists in the War Party that he is as bloodthirsty as their champion, Hillary Clinton, and more manly than Barack Obama, Trump seems to have gone “play-crazy” — acting like an unpredictable maniac in order to terrorize the Russians into forcing some kind of dramatic concessions from their Syrian allies, or risk Armageddon.However, the “play-crazy” gambit can only work when the leader is, in real life, a disciplined and intelligent actor, who knows precisely what actual boundaries must not be crossed. That ain’t Donald Trump — a pitifully shallow and ill-disciplined man, emotionally handicapped by obscene privilege and cognitively crippled by white American chauvinism. By pushing Trump into a corner and demanding that he display his most bellicose self, or be ceaselessly mocked as a “puppet” and minion of Russia, a lesser power, the War Party and its media and clandestine services have created a perfect storm of mayhem that may consume us all. Glen Ford, Editor in Chief, Black Agenda Report




The Lebanese style of democracy of no winners or losers


HELP ENLIGHTEN YOUR FELLOWS. BE SURE TO PASS THIS ON. SURVIVAL DEPENDS ON IT.

by Ghassan Kadi for the Saker Blog


On the 6th of May 2018, Lebanese voters went to their polling booths to vote for members of Parliament. This was the first Parliamentary election since 2009, nearly a decade ago, even though the regular parliamentary term is only four years. And for the first time in Lebanon’s history, the Lebanese diaspora were able to vote in their representative embassies.

So why did it take almost a decade for the Lebanese Government to call for elections? This is a simple and straight forward question to ask, but to answer it, brings another question. Why was Lebanon left without a President from the 25th of May 2014 till the 31st of October 2016?


Lebanese Christian militia during the country's civil war (screengrab/YouTube).


For nearly two and a half years, Lebanon did not have a head of state. And for the first time since its inception, the highest position in the Lebanese Government was headed by a Muslim, a Sunni Muslim. “Grand Liban” (or Grand Lebanon) as the French named it after they decided how far its borders should be expanded to move it away from those of the former and smaller Mount Lebanon Mutasasarrifate (aka Le Petit Liban), was meant to be a state that has a Christian Catholic Maronite President as decreed by its constitution. The Presidential power vacuum however “left” Lebanon in the hands of the Prime Minister (Tammam Salam), who also as decreed by the Lebanese Constitution, has to be a Sunni Muslim.

For two and a half years therefore, Lebanon, a state that the French decreed should be one with a Christian Maronite President, was left in the hands of a Muslim Sunni Prime Minister.

Did Lebanon turn Muslim Sunni as a result?

One can take one’s pick to decide who to ask this question, and the answer one receives will probably not be any more or less convincing than the expectation and interpretation of the inquisitor.

That said, there is no doubt that Saudi Arabia tried very hard to push its religious agenda onto Lebanon. As a matter of fact, during the beginning of the second decade of the 21st Century, and specifically as the “War on Syria” took form, Lebanon and Lebanese politicians and power brokers, for better or for worse, played a big role in the Syrian tragedy. Part of this power play was the aggressive, extremely highly funded and fundamentalist Saudi push to control Lebanese politics; not only for the sake of controlling Lebanon, but also for the sake of using Lebanon as a springboard to hit Syria in the soft underbelly that is naturally protected by impenetrable valleys, cliffs and caves.

There is no doubt also that Iran was intensifying its presence in Lebanon and influence on its politics and day-to-day affairs with Hezbollah as its ally.

Ideologies aside, the Hezbollah/Iran coalition had well-earned stripes on its shoulders as it managed to successfully defeat the Israeli occupation of Lebanon leading up to a total Israeli defeat on the 25th of May 2000. The Saudi camp and its cohorts did not have similar stripes to grace their shoulders with. They therefore hoped that by toppling the Syrian Government, a government they see as a combination of being secular, Shiite and pro-Iranian, then despite the oxymoronic definition of their nemesis, with limitless funds and beating the sectarian Sunni-Shiite drums, they were sure to get not only stripes on their shoulders, but also stars and the highest of all insignia.

But official Lebanon had to play the balance game, because in Lebanon, there is an unwritten law that in all conflicts and politics, there will be no winners and no losers.


Phalangist soldier in Beirut, 1978. (Screengrab/YouTube)

It was according to this unwritten law that the first post-independence civil strife of 1958 in Lebanon was ended. The strife was instigated by a predominantly Muslim pan-Arab passion to join the newly formed United Arab Republic (UAR), which encompassed Egypt and Syria. The then Lebanese President Chamoun and his supporters were against such integration, even cordial relationships, and stood up for independence. The seven-month strife ended as Chamoun’s term as president finished, and the elected president’s former army chief, Chehab, was leaning towards the principles of the “revolution” but was neither willing nor able to take any action either way.

No winners, no losers.

In theory, this principle works and should work well if parties concerned put their differences aside and work together. But in Lebanon, only the slogan is what eventuates, but the hostilities and all the bickering that comes with it, lives on.

Soon after that strife, Lebanon embarked on its golden age. Among other things, in a short period of time, it became the economic, banking, touristic and transport hub of the Middle East. Lebanon was deservedly named the Switzerland of the East. But that golden age did not last long, because conflict was around the corner. This time it was fueled by the difference of how Lebanese people and politics viewed the Palestinian cause and resistance and all the foreign interference that came with it.


Dead civilians in Sabra camp, near Beirut, 1982, after Phalangist/Israeli massacre.

But even that much longer and bloodier strife of 1975-1989, known as the Civil War, that saw more than 100 thousand civilians killed, the economy destroyed, and Lebanon’s regional status capitulating to the point of no return, that war has also ended in a “no winners no losers” mode. And even though the right wing Christian militia and its leaders were put in the basket of “losers”, they were only partial losers and the political parties that represented them remained there, bruised, but not defeated.

All the while, unlike all “other democracies”, all post-independence Lebanese cabinets have also been based on the “no winners and no losers” principle. The opposition had to always be represented in any cabinet; albeit in the form of a minority. Yes, a minority within a majority government.

This odd situation stipulates that, should the minority be significant enough to score one third of the cabinet positions, it can constitutionally block the government that it is part of; and this has happened on many occasions, especially in the last decade or so when the Iranian and Saudi influences in Lebanese politics reached their peak at times when both sides had their representatives in the Lebanese cabinet.



Two women pass by heaps of cadavers from a recent execution, during Lebanon's civil war, 1977. (screengrab)


When the Lebanese Maronites and Druze fought and pillaged each other’s villages and towns in the mid 19thCentury, a council of nations (namely France, Russia, Britain, Austria, Prussia and the Ottoman Empire) convened and decided that Mount Lebanon should have autonomy and be split into a Maronite and a Druze “cantons”.

When the French redrew the border line and created “Grand Liban”, it was perhaps because they thought that a more religiously diverse Lebanon would be less vulnerable to sectarian strife. If all parties were virtual minorities in their own right, the root of conflict could not exist as it would in a situation where there were two almost equal and opposing powers.

Furthermore, by stipulating the religion, and sects, of government officials, the French must have thought that a Lebanon with a Maronite Christian President, a Sunni Muslim Prime Minister, a Shiite Muslim Leader of the House, as well as other allocations that were meant to be pro-rata population based, would be a stable Lebanon that gives rival groups a sense of fairness and; provide the country with political continuity.

The French were wrong, and Lebanon lived and maintained its presence by the virtue of the unwritten law of “no winners and no losers”.

But the events of the last decade or so went beyond the French-mandated Grand Liban borders. The “War on Syria” has clearly resulted in winners and losers; both of which have staunch supporters in Lebanon and Lebanese politics.

The irony here is that even though the outcome of the “War on Syria” was reflected in the outcome of the recent 6th of May 2018 Lebanese elections, and even though the Saudi cohorts in Lebanon have lost many seats and were considered to be “losers”, Lebanese President Aoun, who is pro-Syria, has appointed current Prime Minister, pro-Saudi, Hariri to form the new government.

This is democracy Lebanese style.

At its best, democracy can stink, especially Western Democracy that turns the whole freedom of choice into a charade of two parties dictating who they choose as leader.

In essence and theory, Lebanese style democracy is more democratic than Western style democracy because it does not exclude minorities. After all, in the so-called great democracies of the world, a one seat majority will totally exclude the loser from government. What is democratic about this? In practical terms in Lebanon however, inclusivity of all turns every cabinet into a lame duck that is unable to make and implement any decisions. The presence of corruption at all tiers of government make the situation even more untenable.

The current Lebanese Government cabinet that Hariri is the Prime Minister of already has a balance of power that makes it dysfunctional, even in the ideal and hypothetical absence of any corruption. The new-to-be Lebanese cabinet will be headed by an even weaker Hariri. It can only be more of a government that he can neither control nor even give recommendations to. It is a government that is predestined to be dysfunctional.

And for Hariri to form this cabinet in the first place, he will not only have to balance his own power and appease all of the political parties, winners and losers, but he will also have to appease regional and major powers.

There is nothing surprising in this for those who are Lebanese politics savvy. For as long as Lebanon continues to run under the century-old French heritage of Grand Liban, it will never change, it will never be able to make decisions that are of local, regional or international significance.

Any move towards local reform will please some and anger others if they are not getting any direct benefits from it. This is just one aspect as to why Lebanon is still incapable of rebuilding its electricity power grid after it was destroyed during the civil war, bombed by the Israelis several times, and not to mention that it became outdated by the huge population growth of the last few decades. This is also why Lebanon is still unable to capitalize on this offshore gas wealth, all the while falling gradually into crippling rising debt.

Nothing is more symbolic of the dysfunctionality of Lebanese politics more than rubbish. The Lebanese Government cannot even deal with the country’s refuse as mountains of it are piling up everywhere in the land that was once describe as “the land of milk and honey”. And this is because Lebanese politicians and their followers, cannot agree what to do with it. They all seem to favour the recycling and/or incinerating options, but they cannot agree where those plants should be constructed. Everyone wants them built on the turf of others because they don’t want to have stench in their own neighbourhoods, but in the meantime, the whole country can suffer. At least this way, there are no winners and no losers.

The fear of rivaling Lebanese political and religious groups of each other, the fear of becoming losers and others winners and working around this from within the mantra of no winners and no losers, has for decades been sending the whole country hurtling down into a quagmire of loss for all.


 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The author is an expert on Middle Eastern affairs. 

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

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While our media prostitutes, many Hollywood celebs, and politicians and opinion shapers make so much noise about the still to be demonstrated damage done by the Russkies to our nonexistent democracy, this is what the sanctimonious US government has done overseas just since the close of World War 2. And this is what we know about. Many other misdeeds are yet to be revealed or documented.

Parting shot—a word from the editors
The Best Definition of Donald Trump We Have Found

In his zeal to prove to his antagonists in the War Party that he is as bloodthirsty as their champion, Hillary Clinton, and more manly than Barack Obama, Trump seems to have gone “play-crazy” — acting like an unpredictable maniac in order to terrorize the Russians into forcing some kind of dramatic concessions from their Syrian allies, or risk Armageddon.However, the “play-crazy” gambit can only work when the leader is, in real life, a disciplined and intelligent actor, who knows precisely what actual boundaries must not be crossed. That ain’t Donald Trump — a pitifully shallow and ill-disciplined man, emotionally handicapped by obscene privilege and cognitively crippled by white American chauvinism. By pushing Trump into a corner and demanding that he display his most bellicose self, or be ceaselessly mocked as a “puppet” and minion of Russia, a lesser power, the War Party and its media and clandestine services have created a perfect storm of mayhem that may consume us all. Glen Ford, Editor in Chief, Black Agenda Report

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