China and Russia have long endured massive threats. War hawk JFK against China, Russia, and Cuba

So many myths have been fed to the American people. Here’s more information about the real John F. Kennedy. [1] 
From Global Research
By Shane Quinn
February 15, 2018

In April 1962, the Kennedy administration ordered nuclear missiles to be sent to Japan’s Okinawa Island. The weapons were directed at the People’s Republic of China, a nation the Americans had “lost” to Communism 13 years before.

President John F. Kennedy‘s decision to aim missiles at China occurred six months before the Cuban Missile Crisis, known as the October Crisis in Cuba. The missiles Kennedy directed at Mao Zedong’s China were “near identical” to those aimed at the US, after the Soviet Union sent nuclear-armed weapons to Cuba in October 1962.

The American missiles on occupied Okinawa – an island just over 500 miles from China’s coast – were “over 75 times the power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima” in August 1945. The nuclear weapon that leveled Hiroshima killed about 80,000 people initially, mostly civilians. However, further tens of thousands later died after succumbing to severe radiation poisoning.

In the early 1960s, China possessed by far the world’s largest population, at almost 700 million. Any order obeyed to fire such destructive weapons at China would have killed unprecedented numbers. Yet the American missiles on Okinawa remained hidden from public knowledge, and has only come to light in recent times. The reason for Kennedy’s order for missiles to be readied on Okinawa, can be traced to intense friction between two of Asia’s largest countries.

A 1962 aerial photograph shows Okinawa’s first Mace missile site at Bolo Point, Yomitan. (Source: Larry Johnston via APJJF)

During 1962, antagonism soared between China and American-backed India – primarily over border disputes along the Himalayas. It culminated in the Sino-Indian conflict, starting on 20 October, with much of the fighting occurring at over 4,000 meters. This forgotten conflict also began in the middle of the Cuban Missile Crisis, as the Americans were entirely distracted with Cuba. After a month of bloody fighting, China emerged victorious having secured territorial gains.

History, up to the current day, suggests the US holds the right to erect weapons wherever it chooses, ignoring the potential consequences. For example, in 1961, president Kennedy positioned intermediate-range “Jupiter” nuclear missiles in Italy and Turkey – this time aimed at Russia. The Turkish border is little more than 300 miles from Russia, separated alone by diminutive Georgia.

None of this was lost on the Russians. In May the following year (1962), the Soviet president Nikita Khrushchev complained to a confidant that the Americans “have surrounded us”. Kennedy’s reckless deployment of missiles was also a crucial factor leading up to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Behind the thinking of his Cuban missile decision, Khrushchev explained following his retirement that the Americans

“would learn just what it feels like to have enemy missiles pointing at you; we’d be doing nothing more than giving them a little of their own medicine”.

The enormous threats against Russia also had a deeper psychological impact. Over the past century and more, Russia was repeatedly invaded and almost destroyed by invading armies. From Napoleon Bonaparte’s 1812 offensive, through to Operation Barbarossa overseen by Adolf Hitler in 1941.

The intimidation of Russia, a long-time nuclear power, has continued apace to the present day. One significant menace is the continued existence of NATO as an organization – and the presence of its troops and weapons along Russia’s frontiers. NATO receives much of its funding from America, so is in reality a tool of imperialism, posing a significant global security threat.

In more rational times Dwight D. Eisenhower, NATO’s first supreme commander, wrote in 1951 that NATO

“will have failed” if “in 10 years all American troops stationed in Europe… have not been returned to the United States”.

Eisenhower would become a re-elected US president (1953-61), so his was not a voice without weight. It would be interesting to gauge his reaction if he knew that, by 2018, American troops were still present on European soil. This reality may have disturbed George Kennan too, the farsighted former US ambassador to the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, himself no dove. In 1996 Kennan described NATO expansion eastwards, in continued violation of agreements, as “a strategic blunder of potentially epic proportions”.

Meanwhile, a further critical element in the placing of Soviet missiles in Cuba, was the Kennedy administration’s assaults on the island nation. There was the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in April 1961, which ended in a Cuban rout of US-backed forces. Stung by this embarrassment, in January 1962 Kennedy outlined that “the Cuban problem” is “the top priority in the United States government”.

The ensuing Operation Mongoose brought the “terrors of the earth” to Cuba – a quote attributed to Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Kennedy’s top Latin American advisor. In the months before the missile crisis, Cuba was subjected to widescale terrorist attacks directed from America. This included the bombing of Cuban hotels and petrochemical plants, poisoning of crops and livestock, attacks on fishing boats, the tainting of sugar exports, etc.

In March 1962, it was made clear that the assaults were to lead to “final success” which would “require decisive US intervention”. The renewed invasion of Cuba was dated for October 1962 – it is no coincidence that Khrushchev sent his missiles to Cuba during the same month.

As the missile crisis peaked, the world came perilously close to a nuclear war, largely due to Kennedy’s hegemonic policies. This was all concealed from the American public, who were repeatedly informed the blame lay squarely with the USSR and its Cuban ally.

Image result for posada and bosch

Bosch and Posada (Source: Cuba Headlines)

Following the de-escalation in late October, the US immediately recommenced terrorist operations against Cuba. These murderous acts continued for decades in various forms. This included American support for the Cuban exiles, Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch, two of the worst international terrorists of the post-World War II period.

Posada Carriles and Bosch are most infamously remembered for masterminding the 1976 destruction of a Cuban airliner, killing all 73 people aboard. However, the duo were also responsible for countless other terrorist attacks on embassies, consuls, tourist industries, ambassadors, civilians, etc. – not just in Cuba – but across Latin America.

Furthermore, the US continues its blockade of Cuba, which has lasted for more than five decades – despite opposition from virtually the entire world. The embargo was first introduced by Kennedy himself in October 1962.

After visiting Cuba two years ago, then president Barack Obama said he and Raul Castro “continue to have serious differences, including on democracy and human rights”. One could forgive the Cuban leader for being somewhat perplexed by this statement. Not mentioned by Obama was America’s efforts to bring “democracy and human rights” to Cuba, in the form of vicious terrorist assaults and economic strangulation.

Nor did Obama highlight Cuba’s central role in liberating southern Africa from apartheid. South Africa’s racist regime was heavily supported by the US, yet it appears trivial facts such as these are not worthy of mention by Obama, or indeed, the mainstream press.

Since the 1950s, the American record in introducing “human rights” and “freedom” to the world makes something of a mockery of its projected image. Instead, it is Cuba that has long been vilified by Western elites for supposed human rights abuses.


Shane Quinn obtained an honors journalism degree. He is interested in writing primarily on foreign affairs, having been inspired by authors like Noam Chomsky. 

[1] Also, for those with the stomach, there is  The Dark Side of Camelot by Seymour Hersh about the Kennedy presidency.

“Hand in Hand for Syria” shares Syrian opposition “aims and objectives”, financially benefitted from Alan Kurdi tragedy

Global Research, September 10, 2015
Fabrication in BBC Panorama ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ 9 September 2015

Hand in Hand for Syria, the UK registered charity at the heart of the controversial 2013 BBC Panorama programme Saving Syria’s Children, is receiving all the proceeds from a new fund established in honour of Alan Kurdi, the three year old who drowned along with his mother and brother as his family attempted to reach Greece from Turkey on 2 September 2015.

The Guardian reports that the Aylan Kurdi Fund was set up within 24 hours of the circulation of photographs of the boy’s body.  As of 9 September 2015 the fund had received over £50,000 in donations.

According to Saving Syria’s Children, Hand in Hand for Syria “helped set up” the largest refugee camp in Syria – Atmeh on the Turkish border.

In the documentary, two doctors volunteering with Hand in Hand visit Atmeh and check up on hospitals run by the charity, including Atareb Hospital, Aleppo, where the BBC Panorama team filmed the dramatic arrival of alleged victims of an incendiary bomb attack on a school playground in nearby Urm Al-Kubra.  These scenes – first transmitted just as the UK parliament voted on military intervention in Syria – have become the subject of worldwide scepticism.

The UK Charity Commission’s website states that Hand in Hand for Syria exists for “the advancement of health or saving lives”.  Until July 2014 the Facebook banner of Hand in Hand’s co-founder and chairman Faddy Sahloul read “WE WILL BRING ASSAD TO JUSTICE; NO MATTER WHAT LIVES IT TAKES, NO MATTER HOW MUCH CATASTROPHE IT MAKES”.  The image was removed shortly after it was commented on publicly. [1] [2]


Image: Facebook banner of Hand in Hand for Syria’s co-founder Faddy Sahloul, deleted July 2014

Also on Hand in Hand’s executive team is Dr Rola Hallam, one of the two medics featured in ‘Saving Syria’s Children’.  The documentary tells us that “Rola’s family is from Syria and she lived here as a child.  Now she’s an intensive care doctor in London, specialising in paediatric medicine.”

On 30 August 2013, the day after the BBC’s initial report on the alleged Aleppo incendiary bomb attack, Dr Hallam appeared on BBC’s Newsnight programme expressing her profound disappointment at parliament’s rejection of a military strike against Syria.


Image: Dr Rola Hallam, Atareb Hospital, Aleppo on 26 August 2013, being interviewed as alleged victims from an incendiary bomb attack on a school in the village of Urm al-Kubra arrive (Panorama Saving Syria’s Children, BBC One, 30 September 2013,

Dr Hallam’s father is Dr. Mousa al-Kurdi.  According to a 2013 article by Dr Saleyha Ahsan – the other Hand in Hand for Syria volunteer medic featured in ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ [3] – Dr al-Kurdi is “involved politically with the Syrian National Council”. [4]

In an interview for Al Jazeera Dr al-Kurdi passionately advocates for the Syrian National Council’s recognition as the “sole representative” of all Syrians and relates how, following his address to the Friends of Syria summit in Istanbul in 2012 – attended by Hillary Clinton – he personally told Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu “You’re not doing enough” and demanded of Professor Davutoğlu and several other foreign ministers present, including the US State Department’s Victoria Nuland, “either you defend us or you arm the Syrian Free Army to defend us – you have the choice”.

At a Save the Children event in London in November 2013 Dr Hallam stated that her father “is certainly not a member of the Syrian National Council; he is a gynaecologist, who like most Syrians has taken an interest in what’s happening in his country”.


Image: Dr Mousa al-Kurdi, Dr Rola Hallam’s father, is interviewed on Al Jazeera soon after he addressed the Friends of Syria summit in April, 2012. ( Hillary Clinton, then US Secretary of State,
is seen arriving at the meeting.

If Hand in Hand for Syria’s affiliations were not abundantly plain from the above, the Director of the BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit has, in the course of correspondence about ‘Saving Syria’s Children’, observed that:

I think it was implicit that the charity was working in an area of Syria controlled by the opposition and would therefore be likely to share its aims and objectives (as opposed to supporting the Syrian government).[5]

However, should it be required, there is further evidence.

A nurse seen treating the alleged incendiary bomb alongside Dr Saleyha Ahsanin ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ was subsequently photographed at Atareb Hospital wearing a Hand in Hand for Syria tunic and ostensibly tending to the injuries of a child “rebel” combatant.  The web article which hosts the photograph overtly celebrates the fifteen year old’s supposed battle prowess[6]


Image: The nurse on the left appears at 31:17 in Saving Syria’s Children ( in scenes filmed at Atareb Hospital, Aleppo on 26 August 2013. Dr Saleyha Ahsan is wearing the checked shirt.


Image: This site boasts of the supposed fighting prowess of fifteen year old “Mujahid Omar”.

It has been suggested that the Hand in Hand for Syria nurse appears to be of Central Asian, rather than Syrian, origin.  A January 2015 International Crisis Group Policy Briefing observes that “Growing numbers of Central Asian citizens, male and female, are travelling to the Middle East to fight or otherwise support the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL or ISIS).” [7]

Many more questions about Hand in Hand for Syria are posed in adossier compiled by peace activist Dr Declan Hayes and in two You Tube videos:Inside the BBC’s Uprising: Hand in Hand for Propaganda and WANTED: Evidence Hand in Hand for Syria is Really in the Business of Saving Lives.


[1] This Facebook account has since been deleted.

[2] Mr Sahloul’s bloodthirsty sentiments were “liked” on Facebook by Hand in Hand for Syria co-founder Fadi Al-Dairi.  Along with Mr Sahloul, Mr Al-Dairi is listed as one of Hand in Hand for Syria’s Trustees on the Charity Commissionwebsite.

[3] Dr Ahsan is a former British Army Captain who served in Bosnia and now works as a freelance filmmaker, a medic and more recently as a BBC presenter.  Dr Ahsan is the subject of this complaint currently lodged with the corporation.

[4] “The Syrian National Council (SNC), which was set up six seven [sic] months after the uprising against the Assad regime erupted in March of 2011, was the biggest and most significant Syrian opposition group in exile until November 11, 2012, when it joined the broader National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces.”

[5] BBC Editorial Complaints Unit Provisional Finding, 23 April 2014 (see p10 ofdownload).

[6] Further images of the same child and others attached to the same militia unit can be found here.

[7] It has been suggested that other individuals who feature in ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ and in other footage from Atareb Hospital on 26 August 2013 also appear to be of Asian, rather than Syrian, origin.

U.S. trains Ukrainian special forces for attacks inside Russia

March 13, 2017 – Fort Russ News –
PolitNavigator – Translated by James Harmon

Ukrainian covert operations teams are trained in terrorist attacks inside the republics in the donbass by American military instructors- this is a well known fact. Sergeri Ivanchuk, in a confession about detonation of an explosive that destroyed the car of the deputy chief of police in Donetsk, went on to explain far more disturbing details by the motivation of such attacks.

According to Ivanchuk, American special forces taught Ukrainian soldiers these tactics and mine subversive training.

“I am major Ivanchuk, Sergei Alexandrovicvh, a soldier of the armed forces of Ukraine, and i am in the service as head of the engineering service of the 8th regiment of special forces, which is stationed in the city of Khmelnitsky. After passing tests by American instructors on the basis of the 8th regiment of the land operation, they send us on courses which include tactical and mine subversive training.”, Invanchuk stated.

Ivanchuck continued with a disturbing revelation that Ukraine is preparing terrorist attacks to target Russian cities now – one attempt was abandoned in Belgorod so far, however.

“I perform tasks that were given by the commander of the 8th regiment Oleg Nechaev and Colonel Anatoly Anturksy, who served in the SBU(Ukrainian KGB), in the department of management of intelligence and subversive groups. These people supervise the preparation of sabotage and reconnaissance, which must carry out attacks in large cities of the Russian federation and in Crimea, in Belgorod, now such a group’s intent to destroy the Russian soldiers morality” said Ivanchuk


Vladimir Putin’s speech to the Federal Security Service, February 16, 2017

From the Kremlin
February 16, 2017

Vladimir Putin took part in an annual expanded meeting of the Federal Security Service (FSB) Board to discuss the FSB’s results for 2016 and the priority tasks for ensuring Russia’s national security.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon.

These annual FSB Board meetings give us a chance to meet and not only thoroughly analyse and review the results of the agency’s work over the period, but also to discuss at length all important national security issues in general and outline the priorities for the immediate future and the longer-term.

The FSB plays a key part in protecting our constitutional order and our country’s sovereignty, and in protecting our people from threats at home and abroad.

Let me say from the start that last year’s results were positive and show good development. This concerns your work to counter terrorism and extremism, a series of successful counterintelligence operations, your efforts to combat economic crime, and other areas.

You ensured a high standard of security for major public events, including the State Duma election and regional and local elections.

I would like to thank both the executives and staff for their conscientious attitude towards their work and their timely and efficient performance of their duties.

At the same time, demands on the quality and results of your work grow constantly. The global situation has not become any more stable or better over the past year. On the contrary, many existing threats and challenges have only become more acute.

Military-political and economic rivalry between global and regional policy makers and between individual countries has increased. We see bloody conflicts continue in a number of countries in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. International terrorist groups, essentially terrorist armies, receiving tacit and sometimes even open support from some countries, take active part in these conflicts.

At the NATO summit last July in Warsaw, Russia was declared the main threat to the alliance for the first time since 1989, and NATO officially proclaimed containing Russia its new mission. It is with this aim that NATO continues its expansion. This expansion was already underway earlier, but now they believe they have more serious reasons for doing so. They have stepped up the deployment of strategic and conventional arms beyond the national borders of the principal NATO member states.

They are provoking us constantly and are trying to draw us into confrontation. We see continued attempts to interfere in our internal affairs in a bid to destabilise the social and political situation in Russia itself.

We also see the recent serious flare-up in southeast Ukraine. This escalation pursues the clear aim of preventing the Minsk Agreements from going ahead. The current Ukrainian authorities are obviously not seeking a peaceful solution to this very complex problem and have decided to opt for the use of force instead. What is more, they speak openly about organising sabotage and terrorism, particularly in Russia. Obviously, this is a matter of great concern.

The events and circumstances I have mentioned require our security and intelligence services, especially the Federal Security Service, to concentrate their utmost attention and effort on the paramount task of fighting terrorism.

We have already seen that our intelligence services dealt some serious blows to terrorists and their accomplices. Last year’s results confirm this: the number of terrorism related crimes has decreased.

Preventive work has also brought results. The FSB and other security agencies, with the National Antiterrorist Committee acting as coordinator, prevented 45 terrorism related crimes, including 16 planned terrorist attacks. You deserve special gratitude for this.

You need to continue your active efforts to identify and block terrorist groups’ activity, eliminate their financial base, prevent the activities of their emissaries from abroad and their dangerous activity on the internet, and take into account in this work Russian and international experience in this area.

The murder of our ambassador to Turkey was a terrible crime that particularly highlighted the need to protect our citizens and missions abroad. I ask you to work together with the Foreign Ministry and the Foreign Intelligence Service to take additional measures to ensure their safety.

You must also work to take our counterterrorism cooperation with partners abroad to a new level, despite the difficulties that we see in various areas of international life. It is a priority, of course, to intensify work with our partners in organisations such as the UN, the CSTO, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

It is in our common interests to restore dialogue with the US intelligence services and with other NATO member countries. It is not our fault that these ties were broken off and are not developing. It is very clear that all responsible countries and international groups should work together on counterterrorism, because even simply exchanging information on terrorists’ financing channels and sources and on people involved in or suspected of links with terrorism can substantially improve the results of our common efforts.

Our priorities include firmly suppressing extremism. Security methods must go hand-in-hand with constant prevention work. It is essential to prevent extremism from drawing young people into its criminal networks, and to form an overall firm rejection of nationalism, xenophobia, and aggressive radicalism. In this context, of great importance is open dialogue with civil society institutions and representatives of Russia’s traditional religions.

Counterintelligence services also face greater demands today. Operational data show that foreign intelligence services’ activity in Russia has not decreased. Last year, our counterintelligence services put a stop to the work of 53 foreign intelligence officers and 386 agents.

It is important to neutralise foreign intelligence services’ efforts to gain access to confidential information, particularly information concerning our military-technical capabilities.

This makes it a priority to improve our system for protecting classified information comprising state secrets, particularly with agencies going over to an electronic document circulation system.

I would like to note that the number of cyberattacks on official information resources tripled in 2016 compared to 2015. In this context, each agency must develop its segment of the state system for detecting and preventing cyberattacks on information resources and eliminating their consequences.

The public expects greater results in such key areas as economic security and the fight against corruption. I ask you to be particularly thorough in monitoring the funds allocated for state defence procurement (a subject I have spoken about before), major infrastructure projects, preparation of big international events, and implementing federal targeted and socially important programmes. Regrettably, we still see many cases of state funds being embezzled or misappropriated.

Reliable protection of our state borders plays a big part in ensuring our country’s comprehensive security. The priority here is to close off channels through which members of international terrorist and extremist groups enter Russia, and put a firm stop to all forms of smuggling, from weapons to drugs and various bio-resources.

Of course, we must continue the work to develop border infrastructure where it is not yet sufficiently developed, particularly in the Far East and in the Arctic.

Colleagues, let me stress that we will continue to bolster the FSB’s central and regional branches and ensure you have the most advanced arms and equipment. We will also continue to give attention to social provisions for FSB personnel and their family members.

I wish you success in protecting our national interests and the security of our country and our people. I am confident that you will continue working towards your targets with dignity.

Thank you for your attention.


The real meaning behind Putin’s “Ukrainian terrorism” speech

“…We also see the recent serious flare-up in southeast Ukraine. This escalation pursues the clear aim of preventing the Minsk Agreements from going ahead. The current Ukrainian authorities are obviously not seeking a peaceful solution to this very complex problem and have decided to opt for the use of force instead. What is more, they speak openly about organising sabotage and terrorism, particularly in Russia. Obviously, this is a matter of great concern…”

Vladimir Putin’s speech at meeting of Federal Security Service Board, February 16, 2017

From Fort Russ

February 18, 2017 – Fort Russ –
Rostislav Ishchenko, RIA Analytics – translated by J. Arnoldski –
February 16, 2017

On Thursday, February 16th, at the annual meeting of the Collegium of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), Vladimir Putin drew particular attention to the situation in South-East Ukraine. According to the president, Ukrainian authorities are deliberately aggravating the situation in the conflict zone in Donbass in order to disrupt the Minsk Agreements and are betting on a military solution to the problem.
The head of state also emphasized that the Kiev authorities “are openly speaking of the organization of sabotage and terroristic, subversive work, including in Russia.”
A signal to the West
It is clear that anti-terrorist and counter-intelligence work lies at the heart of the FSB’s operations. But it is also clear that such statements by the president, by being made public, were aimed primarily at an external audience.
After all, the FSB leadership can be instructed in secret. Moreover, no one doubts that since the very beginning of the civil war in Ukraine, the FSB has followed attempts to spill the war over into Russian territory. Since 2014, the press has periodically been given information on the arrest of both Ukrainian and Russian citizens caught trying to conduct intelligence reconnaissance on the territory of Russia in the interests of Kiev, as well as prepare terrorist attacks.
Thus, the president’s statement was intended not for a Russian, but for a foreign audience. But this audience is not Ukrainian. If there was a desire to appeal to the Ukrainian government, then this would be done through diplomatic channels. And this statement is also not a threat of military response to Ukrainian provocations. Otherwise it would have been made at the collegium of the Ministry of Defense of Security Council.
The choice of place and format for this statement clearly indicates that it is a signal sent to our Western partners. 
The FSB has great capacity for conducting counter-terrorist operations. It should be noted that preventative actions against terrorists and their masterminds are one of the main work components of the FSB not necessarily limited to Russian territory.
Sure, their operations on the territory of another state are limited by stringent conditions. In order for preventative counter-terrorism measures on a foreign territory to be justified from the point of view of international law, the concerned state must either be in a state of war or have suffered an unprovoked attack. 
There is yet another scenario which is enshrined at the level of the UN Security Council: the loss by an acting government of control over territory from which terrorist activities are being conducted. This scenario is not relevant in this case, however, insofar as the international community does not consider the Kiev government to be incapable of controlling the situation on the territory of Ukraine.
Yet to this day Kiev has explained away all sorts of provocations against Russia, including bloody ones (in Crimea) as the independent initiatives of individuals and refused to recognize their belonging to Ukraine’s security agencies. Russia’s reaction, however, has been limited to diplomatic protests, documenting the facts of provocations, collecting evidence on the involvement of Ukraine’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR), SBU, and General Staff in them, and presenting these reports to relevant international organizations.
State Terrorism
Apparently, a critical mass of facts has been collected and a second aspect – international law – is now going to be activated. 

Appeal from SAWA: Be aware of what Is happening in Syria! U.S. government support of fundamentalist fighters destroying Syria and terrorizing the Syrian people is a terrible mistake

SAWA asks Americans to take this message to elected officials; see below.
Global Research, July 19, 2016
Syrian American Will Association (SAWA)

We at the Syrian American Will Association (SAWA) are writing to you, the great American people.  We are a U.S. civic, social, and educational association established by Americans of Syrian origin who are concerned that the American government policy toward Syria is harming the national interest of the United States, and is having a catastrophic impact on the Syrian people.  As set out in our Mission Statement, we are determined to bring to U.S. policymakers, the media, and the general public a better understanding of the true situation in Syria; especially why we oppose U.S. government support to the so-called “Moderate Syrian Opposition” who in reality are overwhelmingly not Syrian but are foreign terrorists and criminals..

The fate of Syria should not matter only to Syrians and Syrian-Americans BUT to ALL AMERICANS regardless of party identification, religion, or national origin.  To put it plainly, the U.S. government policy toward Syria is undermining American interests and threatening the safety of Americans, HERE IN OUR OWN COUNTRY.  Whether direct or indirect, the U.S. government support for Syrian fundamentalist fighters and foreign groups destroying Syria and terrorizing the Syrian people is a terrible mistake, which can only result in a heightened threat to the region, and ultimately the world and to the United States.  We at SAWA are working to help stop this mistake, but we need your help.

No American can forget the terrible day on September 11, 2001, when jihad terrorists affiliated with al-Qaeda attacked our country.  Since then al-Qaeda has been held up as the epitome of the terrorist threat to the U.S. Why then is the U.S. government – the Obama Administration and many in Congress in both parties pursuing a policy in Syria that STRENGTHENS THE LOCAL AL-QAEDA AFFILIATED ALONG WITH ALLIED TERRORIST GROUPS?  While THE U.S. government formally claiming only to support “vetted moderate opposition”  IN REALITY Washington, in collaboration with key regional allies is cooperating with and tacitly supporting all terrorists groups

The same groups that are backed by a range of foreign power, including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey; who are competing for influence in Syria and to make Syria an Islamic country instead of being a secular one.

Supporting such groups will not be successful in overthrowing the Syrian government.  The majority of the Syrian people know that for them this is a simple matter of survival for themselves, their families, and their country. The large majority of Syrians know they must defeat these foreign terrorists and create the opportunity to work for a peaceful, prosperous, democratic, and secular future but even so by letting countries like Saudi Arabia and Turkey to keep setting the direction of the U.S. government policy will keep the war in Syria burning and prolong the suffering of the Syrian people.  It will also mean more money and arms going to strengthen the terrorists and incubating a threat to the United States and Americans here at home.  

The best outcome in Syria for U.S. government interests is to stay away and stop supporting the illegal groups fighting the legitimate Syrian government, furthermore, pressure the regional power allies to stop interfering in the Syrian situation.  Syrians can work out their own affairs, and will reject the kind of poison represented by western media coverage that want us to believe this is a religious civil war among the Syrians.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  This is a huge propaganda line from outside sponsors of terrorism against Syria who wish to impose and place their narrow sectarian tyranny in place of a secular state supported by the majority of Syrians representing the whole nation.

We at SAWA support a united, sovereign, secular, and democratic Syria free of foreign interference, under the authority of the current constitution of the Syrian Arab Republic and the will of the Syrian people.  We seek a positive and mutually beneficial future relationship between the United States and Syria, as two sovereign countries that together can make an essential contribution to human civilization, and in particular the defense of civilization against terrorist groups.

But that future is hard to see as long as the U.S. policymakers are undermining our own country’s interests by helping anti-Syrian terrorists.  The supply of American taxpayers’ money and U.S. weapons to terrorist groups must be stopped. 

American aid to all armed groups in Syria, whether labeled “vetted moderates” or not, needs to be halted, and Washington needs to pressure our allies to do likewise.  The stated goal of the American government policy of overthrowing the legal elected government of Syria which is the only real force fighting against the terrorists needs to be ended.

We at SAWA ask for your support in getting this message to American policymakers.  Please write to your Senators and Congressmen, to President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, and tell them:

I am opposed to American aid to all groups and any group that is fighting the legitimate government of Syria. We the American people need to stop  trying to overthrow the elected Syrian government and instead support a peaceful negotiated solution among the Syrians themselves only.

We welcome your contributions and membership to work together with SAWA to change a policy that it not in America’s interest.


Death squads in Iraq and Syria. The historical roots of US-NATO’s covert war on Syria

History that is never taught in American schools. When the US says they are sending special operations forces to a country, this is what that means. This gives more clarity on the terror that Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, Latin and South America, the continent of Africa, and any country that needs “punishing” faces from the United States.
This is the democracy that the United States brings.
Global Research, July 14, 2016
Global Research 4 January 2013

Image: El Salvador Death Squads

This article was first published by Global Research on January 4, 2013. It is also published as a chapter in Michel Chossudovsky’s book  The Globalization of War, America’s Long War against Humanity. Global Research Publishers, 2015

In recent developments the Chilcot Report has revealed the role of Latin-american style death squads in Iraq.

The recruitment of death squads is part of a well established US military-intelligence agenda. There is a long and gruesome US history of covert funding and support of  terror brigades and targeted assassinations going back to the Vietnam war. 

As government forces continue to confront the self-proclaimed “Free Syrian Army” (FSA),  the historical roots of  the West’s covert war on Syria –which has resulted in countless atrocities– must be fully revealed.

From the outset in March 2011, the US and its allies have supported the formation of death squads and the incursion of  terrorist brigades in a carefully planned undertaking.

The recruitment and training of terror brigades in both Iraq and Syria was modeled on the “Salvador Option”,  a “terrorist model” of mass killings by US sponsored death squads in Central America. It was first applied in  El Salvador, in the heyday of resistance against the military dictatorship, resulting in an estimated 75,000 deaths.

The formation of death squads in Syria builds upon the history and experience of US  sponsored terror brigades in Iraq, under the Pentagon’s “counterinsurgency” program.

The Establishment of Death Squads in Iraq

US sponsored death squads were recruited in Iraq starting in 2004-2005 in an initiative launched under the helm of the US Ambassador John Negroponte, [image: right] who was dispatched to Baghdad by the US State Department in June 2004.

Negroponte was the “man for the job”. As US Ambassador to Honduras from 1981 to 1985. Negroponte played a key role in supporting and supervising the Nicaraguan Contras based in Honduras as well as overseeing the activities of the Honduran military death squads.

“Under the rule of General Gustavo Alvarez Martinez, Honduras’s military government was both a close ally of the Reagan administration and was “disappearing” dozens of political opponents in classic death squad fashion.”

In January 2005, the Pentagon, confirmed that it was considering:

” forming hit squads of Kurdish and Shia fighters to target leaders of the Iraqi insurgency [Resistance] in a strategic shift borrowed from the American struggle against left-wing guerrillas in Central America 20 years ago”.

Under the so-called “El Salvador option”, Iraqi and American forces would be sent to kill or kidnap insurgency leaders, even in Syria, where some are thought to shelter. …

Hit squads would be controversial and would probably be kept secret.

The experience of the so-called “death squads” in Central America remains raw for many even now and helped to sully the image of the United States in the region.

Then, the Reagan Administration funded and trained teams of nationalist forces to neutralise Salvadorean rebel leaders and sympathisers. …

John Negroponte, the US Ambassador in Baghdad, had a front-row seat at the time as Ambassador to Honduras from 1981-85.

Death squads were a brutal feature of Latin American politics of the time. …

In the early 1980s President Reagan’s Administration funded and helped to train Nicaraguan contras based in Honduras with the aim of ousting Nicaragua’s Sandinista regime. The Contras were equipped using money from illegal American arms sales to Iran, a scandal that could have toppled Mr Reagan.

The thrust of the Pentagon proposal in Iraq, … is to follow that model …

It is unclear whether the main aim of the missions would be to assassinate the rebels or kidnap them and take them away for interrogation. Any mission in Syria would probably be undertaken by US Special Forces.

Nor is it clear who would take responsibility for such a programme — the Pentagon or the Central Intelligence Agency. Such covert operations have traditionally been run by the CIA at arm’s length from the administration in power, giving US officials the ability to deny knowledge of it.  (El Salvador-style ‘death squads’ to be deployed by US against Iraq militants – Times Online, January 10, 2005, emphasis added)

While the stated objective of the “Iraq Salvador Option” was to “take out the insurgency”, in practice the US sponsored terror brigades were involved in routine killings of civilians with a view to fomenting sectarian violence. In turn, the CIA and MI6 were overseeing “Al Qaeda in Iraq”  units involved in targeted assassinations directed against the Shiite population. Of significance, the death squads were integrated and advised by undercover US Special Forces.

Robert Stephen Ford –subsequently appointed US Ambassador to Syria– was part of Negroponte’s team in Baghdad in 2004-2005. In January 2004, he was dispatched as U.S. representative to the Shiite city of Najaf which was the stronghold of the Mahdi army, with which he made preliminary contacts.

In January 2005, Robert S. Ford’s was appointed Minister Counselor for Political Affairs at the US Embassy under the helm of Ambassador John Negroponte. He was not only part of the inner team, he was Negroponte’s partner in setting up the Salvador Option.  Some of the groundwork had been established in Najaf prior to Ford’s transfer to Baghdad.

John Negroponte and Robert Stephen Ford were put in charge of recruiting the Iraqi death squads. While Negroponte  coordinated the operation from his office at the US Embassy, Robert S. Ford, who was fluent in both Arabic and Turkish, was entrusted with the task of establishing strategic contacts with Shiite and Kurdish militia groups outside the “Green Zone”.

Two other embassy officials, namely Henry Ensher (Ford’s Deputy) and a younger official in the political section,Jeffrey Beals, played an important role in the team “talking to a range of Iraqis, including extremists”. (See The New Yorker, March 26, 2007).  Another key individual in Negroponte’s team was James Franklin Jeffrey, America’s ambassador to Albania (2002-2004). In 2010, Jeffrey was appointed US Ambassador to Iraq (2010-2012).

Negroponte also brought into the team one of his former collaborators Colonel James Steele (ret) from his Honduras heyday:

Under the “Salvador Option,” “Negroponte had assistance from his colleague from his days in Central America during the 1980′s, Ret. Col James Steele. Steele, whose title in Baghdad was Counselor for Iraqi Security Forces supervised the selection and training of members of the Badr Organization and Mehdi Army, the two largest Shi’ite militias in Iraq, in order to target the leadership and support networks of a primarily Sunni resistance. Planned or not, these death squads promptly spiralled out of control to become the leading cause of death in Iraq.

Intentional or not, the scores of tortured, mutilated bodies which turn up on the streets of Baghdad each day are generated by the death squads whose impetus was John Negroponte. And it is this U.S.-backed sectarian violence which largely led to the hell-disaster that Iraq is today. (Dahr Jamail, Managing Escalation: Negroponte and Bush’s New Iraq Team,., January 7, 2007)

“Colonel Steele was responsible, according to Rep. Dennis Kucinichfor implementing  “a plan in El Salvador under which tens of thousands Salvadorans “disappeared” or were murdered, including Archbishop Oscar Romero and four American nuns.”

Upon his appointment to Baghdad, Colonel Steele was assigned to a counter-insurgency unit known as the “Special Police Commando” under the Iraqi Interior Ministry” (See ACN, Havana,  June 14, 2006) 

Reports confirm that “the US military turned over many prisoners to the Wolf Brigade, the feared 2nd battalion of the interior ministry’s special commandos” which so happened to be under supervision of  Colonel Steele:

“US soldiers, US advisers, were standing aside and doing nothing,” while members of the Wolf Brigade beat and tortured prisoners. The interior ministry commandos took over the public library in Samarra, and turned it into a detention centre, he said.  An interview conducted by Maass [of the New York Times] in 2005 at the improvised prison, accompanied by the Wolf Brigade’s US military adviser, Col James Steele, had been interrupted by the terrified screams of a prisoner outside, he said. Steele was reportedly previously employed as an adviser to help crush an insurgency in El Salvador.” (Ibid, emphasis added)

Another notorious figure who played a role in Iraq’s counter-insurgency program was Former New York Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik  [image: Bernie Kerik  in Baghdad Police Academy with body guards] who in 2007 was indicted in federal court on 16 felony charges.

Kerik walks amidst a phalanx of bodyguards during visit to the Police Academy in Baghdad, July 2003.

Kerik had been appointed by the Bush administration at the outset of the occupation in 2003 to assist in the organization and training  of the Iraqi Police force. During his short stint in 2003, Bernie Kerik –who took on the position of interim Minister of the Interior– worked towards organizing terror units within the Iraqi Police force: “Dispatched to Iraq to whip Iraqi security forces into shape, Kerik dubbed himself the “interim interior minister of Iraq.” British police advisors called him the “Baghdad terminator,” (Salon, December 9, 2004, emphasis added)

Under Negroponte’s helm at the US Embassy in Baghdad, a  wave of covert civilian killings and targeted assassinations had been unleashed. Engineers, medical  doctors, scientists and intellectuals were also targeted.

Author and geopolitical analyst Max Fuller has documented in detail the atrocities committed under the US sponsored counterinsurgency program.

The appearance of death squads was first highlighted in May this year [2005], …dozens of bodies were found casually disposed … in vacant areas around Baghdad. All of the victims had been handcuffed, blindfolded and shot in the head and many of them also showed signs of having been brutally tortured.  …

The evidence was sufficiently compelling for the Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS), a leading Sunni organisation, to issue public statements in which they accused the security forces attached to the Ministry of the Interior as well as the Badr Brigade, the former armed wing of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), of being behind the killings. They also accused the Ministry of the Interior of conducting state terrorism (Financial Times).

The Police Commandos as well as the Wolf  Brigade were overseen by the US counterinsurgency program in the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior:

The Police Commandos were formed under the experienced tutelage and oversight of veteran US counterinsurgency fighters, and from the outset conducted joint-force operations with elite and highly secretive US special-forces units (Reuters, National Review Online).

A key figure in the development of the Special Police Commandos was James Steele, a former US Army special forces operative who cut his teeth in Vietnam before moving on to direct the US military mission in El Salvador at the height of that country’s civil war. …

Another US contributor was the same Steven Casteel who as the most senior US advisor within the Interior Ministry brushed off serious and well-substantiated accusations of appalling human right violations as ‘rumor and innuendo’. Like Steele, Casteel gained considerable experience in Latin America, in his case participating in the hunt for the cocaine baron Pablo Escobar in Colombia’s Drugs Wars of the 1990s …

Casteel’s background is significant because this kind of intelligence-gathering support role and the production of death lists are characteristic of US involvement in counterinsurgency programs and constitute the underlying thread in what can appear to be random, disjointed killing sprees.

Such centrally planned genocides are entirely consistent with what is taking place in Iraq today [2005] …It is also consistent with what little we know about the Special Police Commandos, which was tailored to provide the Interior Ministry with a special-forces strike capability (US Department of Defense). In keeping with such a role, the Police Commando headquarters has become the hub of a nationwide command, control, communications, computer and intelligence operations centre, courtesy of the US. (Max Fuller, op cit)

This initial groundwork established under Negroponte in 2005 was implemented under his successor Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.  Robert Stephen Ford ensured the continuity of the project prior to his appointment as US Ambassador to Algeria in 2006,  as well as upon his return to Baghdad as Deputy Chief of Mission in 2008.


Operation “Syrian Contras”: Learning from the Iraqi Experience

The gruesome Iraqi version of the “Salvador Option” under the helm of Ambassador John Negroponte has served as a “role model” for setting up the “Free Syrian Army” Contras. Robert Stephen Ford was, no doubt, involved in the implementation of the Syrian Contras project, following his reassignment to Baghdad as Deputy Head of Mission in 2008.

The objective in Syria was to create factional divisions between Sunni, Alawite, Shiite, Kurds, Druze and Christians. While the Syrian context is entirely different to that of Iraq, there are striking similarities with regard to the procedures whereby the killings and atrocities were conducted.

A report published by Der Spiegel pertaining to atrocities committed in the Syrian city of Homs confirms an organized sectarian process of mass-murder and extra-judicial killings comparable to that conducted by the US sponsored death squads in Iraq.

People in Homs were routinely categorized as   “prisoners” (Shia, Alawite) and “traitors”.  The “traitors” are Sunni civilians within the rebel occupied urban area, who express their disagreement or opposition to the rule of terror of the Free Syrian Army (FSA):

“Since last summer [2011], we have executed slightly fewer than 150 men, which represents about 20 percent of our prisoners,” says Abu Rami. … But the executioners of Homs have been busier with traitors within their own ranks than with prisoners of war. “If we catch a Sunni spying, or if a citizen betrays the revolution, we make it quick,” says the fighter. According to Abu Rami, Hussein’s burial brigade has put between 200 and 250 traitors to death since the beginning of the uprising.”(Der Spiegel, March 30, 2012)

The project required an initial program of recruitment and training of mercenaries. Death squads including Lebanese and Jordanian Salafist units entered Syria’s southern border with Jordan in mid-March 2011.  Much of the groundwork was already in place prior to Robert Stephen Ford’s arrival in Damascus in January 2011.

Ambassador Ford in Hama in early July 2011

Ford’s appointment as Ambassador to Syria was announced in early 2010. Diplomatic relations had been cut in 2005 following the Rafick Hariri assassination, which Washington blamed on Syria. Ford arrived in Damascus barely two months before the onset of the insurgency.

The Free Syrian Army (FSA)

Washington and its allies replicated in Syria the essential features of the “Iraq Salvador Option”, leading to the creation of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and its various terrorist factions including the Al Qaeda affiliated Al Nusra brigades.

While the creation of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) was announced in June 2011, the recruitment and training of foreign mercenaries was initiated at a much an earlier period.

In many regards, the Free Syrian Army is a smokescreen. It is upheld by the Western media as a bona fide military entity established as a result of mass defections from government forces.  The number of defectors, however, was neither significant nor sufficient to establish a coherent military structure  with command and control functions.

The FSA  is not a professional  military entity, rather it is a loose network of separate terrorist brigades, which in turn are made up of numerous paramilitary cells operating in different parts of the country.

Each of these terrorist organizations operates independently. The FSA does not effectively exercise command and control functions including liaison with these diverse paramilitary entities. The latter are controlled by US-NATO sponsored special forces and intelligence operatives which are embedded within the ranks of selected terrorist formations.

These (highly trained) Special forces on the ground (many of whom are employees of private security companies) are routinely in contact with US-NATO and allied military/intelligence command units (including Turkey). These embedded Special Forces are, no doubt, also involved in the carefully planned bomb attacks directed against government buildings, military compounds, etc.

The death squads are mercenaries trained and recruited by the US, NATO, its Persian Gulf GCC allies as well as Turkey.  They are overseen by allied special forces (including British SAS and French Parachutistes), and private security companies on contract to NATO and the Pentagon. In this regard, reports confirm the arrest by the Syrian government of some 200-300 private security company employees who had integrated rebel ranks.

The Jabhat Al Nusra Front


The Al Nusra Front –which is said to be affiliated to Al Qaeda– is described as the most effective “opposition” rebel fighting group, responsible for several of the high profile bomb attacks. Portrayed as an enemy of America (on the State Department list of terrorist organizations), Al Nusra operations, nonetheless, bear the fingerprints of US paramilitary training, terror tactics and weapons systems. The atrocities committed against civilians by Al Nusra (funded covertly by US-NATO) are similar to those undertaken by the US sponsored death squads in Iraq.

In the words of Al Nusra leader Abu Adnan in Aleppo: “Jabhat al-Nusra does count Syrian veterans of the Iraq war among its numbers, men who bring expertise — especially the manufacture of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) — to the front in Syria.”

As in Iraq, factional violence and ethnic cleansing were actively promoted. In Syria, the Alawite, Shiite and Christian communities have been the target of the US-NATO sponsored death squads.  The Alawite and the Christian community are the main targets of the assassination program. Confirmed by the Vatican News Service:

Christians in Aleppo are victims of death and destruction due to the fighting which for months, has been affecting the city. The Christian neighborhoods, in recent times, have been hit by rebel forces fighting against the regular army and this has caused an exodus of civilians.

Some groups in the rugged opposition, where there are also jiahadist groups, “fire on Christian houses and buildings, to force occupants to escape and then take possession [ethnic cleansing] (Agenzia Fides. Vatican News, October 19, 2012)

“The Sunni Salafist militants – says the Bishop – continue to commit crimes against civilians, or to recruit fighters with force. The fanatical Sunni extremists are fighting a holy war proudly, especially against the Alawites. When terrorists seek to control the religious identity of a suspect, they ask him to cite the genealogies dating back to Moses. And they ask to recite a prayer that the Alawites removed. The Alawites have no chance to get out alive.”  (Agenzia Fides 04/06/2012)

Reports confirm the influx of Salafist and Al Qaeda affiliated death squads as well as brigades under the auspices of the Muslim Brotherhood into Syria from the inception of the insurgency in March 2011.

Moreover, reminiscent of  the enlistment of  the Mujahideen to wage the CIA’s jihad (holy war) in the heyday of the Soviet-Afghan war, NATO and the Turkish High command, according to Israeli intelligence sources, had initiated”

“a campaign to enlist thousands of Muslim volunteers in Middle East countries and the Muslim world to fight alongside the Syrian rebels. The Turkish army would house these volunteers, train them and secure their passage into Syria. (DEBKAfile, NATO to give rebels anti-tank weapons, August 14, 2011).

Private Security Companies and the Recruitment of Mercenaries

According to reports, private security companies operating out of Gulf States are involved in the recruiting and training of mercenaries.

Although not specifically earmarked for the recruitment of mercenaries directed against Syria, reports point to the creation of  training camps in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

In Zayed Military City (UAE), “a secret army is in the making”  operated by Xe Services, formerly Blackwater.  The UAE deal to establish a military camp for the training of mercenaries was signed in July 2010, nine months before the onslaught of the wars in Libya and Syria.

In recent developments, security companies on contract to NATO and the Pentagon are involved in training “opposition” death squads in the use of chemical weapons:

The United States and some European allies are using defense contractors to train Syrian rebels on how to secure chemical weapons stockpiles in Syria, a senior U.S. official and several senior diplomats told CNN Sunday. ( CNN Report, December 9, 2012)

The names of the companies involved were not revealed.

Behind Closed Doors at the US State Department

Robert Stephen Ford was part of a small team at the US State Department team which oversaw the recruitment and training of  terrorist brigades,  together with Derek Chollet  and Frederic C. Hof, a former business partner of Richard Armitage, who served as Washington’s “special coordinator on Syria”. Derek Chollet has recently been appointed to the position of Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (ISA).

This team operated under the helm of  (former) Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern AffairsJeffrey Feltman.

Feltman’s team was in close liaison with the process of recruitment and training of mercenaries out of Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Libya (courtesy of the post-Gaddafi regime, which dispatched six hundred Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) troops to Syria, via Turkey in the months following the September 2011 collapse of the Gaddafi government).

Assistant Secretary of State Feltman was in contact with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal,and Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim. He was also in charge of a  Doha-based office for “special security coordination” pertaining to  Syria, which included representatives from Western and GCC intelligence agencies well as a representative from Libya. Prince Bandar bin Sultan. a prominent and controversial member of Saudi intelligence was part of this group. (See Press Tv, May 12, 2012).

In June 2012, Jeffrey Feltman (image: Left) was appointed UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, a strategic position  which, in practice, consists in setting  the UN agenda (on behalf of Washington) on issues pertaining to “Conflict Resolution” in various “political hot spots” around the world (including Somalia, Lebanon, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Mali). In a bitter irony, the countries for UN “conflict resolution” are those which are the target of  US covert operations.

In liaison with the US State Department, NATO and his GCC handlers in Doha and Riyadh, Feltman is Washington’s man behind UN special envoy Lakhdar Brahmi’s “Peace Proposal”.

Meanwhile, while paying lip service to the UN Peace initiative, the US and NATO have speeded up the process of recruitment and training of  mercenaries in response to the heavy casualties incurred by “opposition” rebel forces.

The US proposed “end game” in Syria is not regime change, but the destruction of Syria as a Nation State.

The deployment of “opposition” death squads with a mandate to kill civilians is part of this criminal undertaking.

“Terrorism with a Human Face” is upheld by the United Nations Human Rights Council, which constitutes a mouthpiece for NATO “Humanitarian Interventions” under the doctrine of “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P).

The atrocities committed by the US-NATO death squads are casually blamed on the government of Bashar Al Assad. According to UN Human Rights Council High Commissioner Navi Pillay:

“This massive loss of life could have been avoided if the Syrian Government had chosen to take a different path than one of ruthless suppression of what were initially peaceful and legitimate protests by unarmed civilians,” (quoted in Stephen Lendman, UN Human Rights Report on Syria: Camouflage of US-NATO Sponsored Massacres, Global Research, January 3, 2012)

Washington’s “unspeakable objective” consists in breaking up Syria as a sovereign nation –along ethnic and religious lines– into several separate and “independent” political entities.

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