From Fort Russ
From Consortium News
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s “Stop Arming Terrorists Act” to curb weapons going to Al Qaeda-linked jihadists in Syria, has attracted only 14 co-sponsors pointing to hypocrisy in the “war on terror,” as Gareth Porter explained at The American Conservative.
By Gareth Porter
June 23, 2017
Three-term Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, a member of both the Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees, has proposed legislation that would prohibit any U.S. assistance to terrorist organizations in Syria as well as to any organization working directly with them. Equally important, it would prohibit U.S. military sales and other forms of military cooperation with other countries that provide arms or financing to those terrorists and their collaborators.
Gabbard’s “Stop Arming Terrorists Act” challenges for the first time in Congress a U.S. policy toward the conflict in the Syrian civil war that should have set off alarm bells long ago: in 2012-13 the Obama administration helped its Sunni allies Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar provide arms to Syrian and non-Syrian armed groups to force President Bashar al-Assad out of power. And in 2013 the administration began to provide arms to what the CIA judged to be “relatively moderate” anti-Assad groups — meaning they incorporated various degrees of Islamic extremism.
That policy, ostensibly aimed at helping replace the Assad regime with a more democratic alternative, has actually helped build up al Qaeda’s Syrian franchise al Nusra Front into the dominant threat to Assad.
The supporters of this arms-supply policy believe it is necessary as pushback against Iranian influence in Syria. But that argument skirts the real issue raised by the policy’s history. The Obama administration’s Syria policy effectively sold out the U.S. interest that was supposed to be the touchstone of the “Global War on Terrorism” — the eradication of al Qaeda and its terrorist affiliates. The United States has instead subordinated that U.S. interest in counter-terrorism to the interests of its Sunni allies. In doing so it has helped create a new terrorist threat in the heart of the Middle East.
The policy of arming military groups committed to overthrowing the government of President Bashar al-Assad began in September 2011, when President Barack Obama was pressed by his Sunni allies — Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar — to supply heavy weapons to a military opposition to Assad they were determined to establish. Turkey and the Gulf regimes wanted the United States to provide anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons to the rebels, according to a former Obama administration official involved in Middle East issues.
Obama refused to provide arms to the opposition, but he agreed to provide covert U.S. logistical help in carrying out a campaign of military assistance to arm opposition groups. CIA involvement in the arming of anti-Assad forces began with arranging for the shipment of weapons from the stocks of the Gaddafi regime that had been stored in Benghazi.
Shipments from Benghazi
CIA-controlled firms shipped the weapons from the military port of Benghazi to two small ports in Syria using former U.S. military personnel to manage the logistics, as investigative reporter Sy Hersh detailed in 2014. The funding for the program came mainly from the Saudis.
A declassified October 2012 Defense Intelligence Agency report revealed that the shipment in late August 2012 had included 500 sniper rifles, 100 RPG (rocket propelled grenade launchers) along with 300 RPG rounds and 400 howitzers. Each arms shipment encompassed as many as ten shipping containers, it reported, each of which held about 48,000 pounds of cargo.
Three Syrian civilians were killed after Turkish regime forces opened fire on a residential area near Um Sahrij village in Tal Abyad area in the northern countryside of Raqqa.
The portal “RusVesna” has obtained an exclusive footage of a village in the Syrian province of Aleppo that is being shelled by the Turkish forces right in the moment as the Russian aid convoy arrives.
On March 8th, 2017 the Russian humanitarian convoy left the city of Aleppo for the town of Ajami, located in the countryside of Manbij, east of Aleppo. The footage shows the arrival of the Russian Ministry of Defense humanitarian convoy at the building of the police station in the outskirts of the town of Ajami.
During the reconnaissance of the area, the Turkish forces launched heavy artillery shelling right next to the convoy.
Despite the difficult circumstances, the commander of the Center for the Reconciliation of the Warring Parties of the City of Aleppo decided to proceed in order to reach the destination and continue with reconnaissance of the area.
Local residents – Arabs, who spoke to RusVesna, said they were members of the Syrian Democratic Forces and that they hate Erdogan and are ready to fight for the liberation of Syria from the occupation by Turkey and the terrorist groups.
“We, the Syrians, are united and stand for Bashar Al Assad! We are here to liberate Syria from terrorism and the Turkish occupation. They all want to destroy Syria, but we, the Syrian people, are against Turkey and its President Erdogan. Erdogan and the heads of Arab states are traitors, they want to sell to Syria and bathe in the Syrian people’s blood. We, the Syrian people are fighting for a united Syria and for our President Bashar al-Assad! Russia, Thank you, Russia!”, they were heard saying.
Damascus, SANA-President Bashar al-Assad said that the solution to the crisis in Syria should be through two parallel ways: the first one is to fight the terrorists, and this is our duty as government, to defend the Syrians and use any means in order to destroy the terrorists who’ve been killing and destroying in Syria, and the second one is to make dialogue.
The president added in an interview given to Chinese PHOENIX TV that any foreign troops coming to Syria without our invitation or consultation or permission, they are invaders, whether they are American, Turkish, or any other one.
Flowing is the full text of the interview:
Question 1: Thank you Mr. President for having us here in Dimashq, the capital of Syria. I think this is the first interview you have with Chinese media after the national ceasefire and after so many fresh rounds of talks, both in Astana and in Geneva, and of course after US President Donald Trump’s inauguration, and these days, as we have seen, your troops are making steady progress in battlefields, but peace talks do not seem just as productive. So, as far as the Geneva talks is concerned, your chief negotiator, Mr. Jaafari, was trying hard to find out who should be sitting on the other side of the negotiation table. So, according to your idea, who should be sitting there?
President Assad: This is a very crucial question. If you want those negotiations to be fruitful, we have to ask “who is going to be sitting there?” I mean, there could be a lot of good people with good intentions, but the question is: who do they represent? That’s the question. In this situation, you have different groups, you have people who are, let’s say, patriotic, but they don’t represent anyone, they represent themselves. You have others who represent the terrorists, and you have terrorists on the table, and you have others who represent the agenda of foreign countries like Saudi Arabia, like Turkey, like France, UK and maybe the United States. So, it’s not a homogeneous meeting. If you want it to be fruitful, going back to the first point that I mentioned, it should be a real Syrian-Syrian negotiations. In spite of that, we went to that meeting because we think any kind of dialogue could be a good step toward the solution, because even those people who are terrorists or belonging to the terrorists or to other countries, they may change their mind and go back to their normality by going back to being real Syrians, detach themselves from being terrorists or agents to other groups. That’s why I say we didn’t expect Geneva to produce anything, but it’s a step, and it’s going to be a long way, and you may have other rounds, whether in Geneva or in Astana.
Question 2: But anyway, it is an intra-Syrian talks, right? But the matter of fact is, it is proxy dialogue. I mean, main parties do not meet and have dialogue directly.
President Assad: Exactly.
Journalist: Are you personally satisfied with the current negotiation format or mechanism?
Syrian military sources said forces of the Turkish dictator Recep Tayyip Erdogan bombarded the positions of the Syrian Army, in Manbij, western countryside of Aleppo later on Thursday. Several Syrian soldiers and border guards are said to be among the victims of the Turkish bombardment. According to one of the military sources, the goal of the Turkish regime is to disrupt the Syrian Army in its fight against terrorism.
Meanwhile, the commander of the US Central Command in the Middle East, Gen. Joseph Votel announced that Washington is currently taking steps in order to prevent a clash between the Turkish Forces and the US-backed Kurdish Forces in Syria. During the Senate hearing, Votel stressed that this will not be an easy task from diplomatic and military standpoint as it requires a lot of effort to reach a compromise that will be suitable for both sides. He also revealed that Pentagon is considering to arm the Gulf states with ballistic missiles.
Since August 2016 the Erdogan regime Forces are illegally invading Syria, under the guise of fighting against ISIS. The ground reports however, show that the Erdogan regime forces are stationed in Syria only to supply and train the terrorist groups and thus disrupt the Syrian army in its fight against the terrorist threat. Frequent attacks on Syrian civilian infrastructure and residential areas were also reported.
February 26, – Fort Russ News –
|“Suggestion for the division of Syria. (Graphic: RAND Corporation)” Interesting note: But what about the Golan Heights?|
US plan for the division of Syria may set off a new wave of refugees
The think tank of the Pentagon wants to divide Syria according to the model of Bosnia. The result would be ethnic cleansing and new, massive flood of immigrants.
The RAND Corporation, a leading US think tank close to the Pentagon, has published a report proposing a “Bosnian model” to resolve the Syrian conflict.
“In this sense, as in Bosnia in the mid-1990s, peace will be facilitated by demographic changes on the ground, external approval for such changes, and exhaustion of the combat parties. Unlike in Bosnia, however, peace would not arise from a detailed formal agreement but from a set of local and international understandings. In order to achieve the various understandings, the cease-fire agreement between Russia, Turkey and Iran is a good starting point, but it is insufficient. Sustainable long-term agreements will be most effective if they involve the consent of other key stakeholders, including the US, its golf partners and other supporters of the opposition to Assad.”
The RAND Corporation calls for a decentralization of the country in control zones. The area from the west coast to Deir Ezzor with the exclusion of Rakka is to be controlled by the government in Damascus and the Russians. The area liberated by Turkey under Operation Euphrates Shield and the province of Idlib would be under Turkish control. The southern area of Daraa, on the border with Israel, would also be controlled by an “opposition” not described in detail by the RAND Corporation. A large part of Northern Syria would be controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), consisting of Kurdish militia and led by the US.
It is particularly noteworthy that the RAND Corporation is proposing to place the ISIS strongholds and oil centers Rakka and Deir Ezzor under an “international administration.” “We therefore recommend that the United States place the Rakka province, after its liberation, under an international transitional administration, creating a neutral territory that is not held by either the regime or the opposition until the final solution of the civil war.” The area should be controlled by the UN, which in turn uses provincial councils. RAND Corporation, on the other hand, argues against sending a purely UN peacekeeping force to the international zone. Instead, the US and Russia would have to organize the deployment of a “coalition force,” which is given a UN mandate. Such a solution would not only tolerate the US and Russia, but also Turkey and other regional US allies, which would not leave Rakka and Deir Ezzor either under the control of the ISIS terrorist militia or control by the Kurdish militia, according to RAND Corporation.
On the Syrian map, it is noticeable that the city of Manbij is placed in the Turkish zone in northern Syria. The Turkish army has not yet taken Manbij, and the Kurdish militants of the YPG are against the city being occupied by the Turks. However, the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said at the beginning of the week that after the liberation of Al-Bab, Turkey would move to take Manbij.
Last year, Manbij was taken by the Kurdish militia. There are currently numerous associations of the Kurdish militia in Manbij, but the majority of the population is Arab and Turkmen.
The plans for the division of Syria are highly problematic: already in the Syrian war, massive ethnic cleansings have already taken place. These were carried out based on the planned petroleum pipelines. A territorial breakdown by ethnicity would greatly accelerate the trend towards expulsion. New escape movements would be the result. These would then come to Europe – which is desperately trying to shut itself off.