Friday, October 26, 2012

Colin Powell endorses Barack Obama for president

    Friday, October 26, 2012   No comments
Colin Powell endorses Barack Obama for president

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Russia: US coordinates weapon deliveries to Syria rebels

    Thursday, October 25, 2012   No comments
Russia today accused Washington of "coordinating" deliveries of arms to Syrian rebels, despite assurances by the State Department that the United States provides no lethal assistance.

"Washington is aware of the deliveries of various weapons to illegal armed groups active in Syria. Moreover, judging by the declarations of US officials published in US media, the US coordinates and provides logistical assistance in such deliveries," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Russia's top general Nikolai Makarov on Wednesday said rebels fighting against Bashar al-Assad's army in Syria are using US-made Stingers, a type of shoulder-launched missile systems also known as MANPADs.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Remembering the Paris massacre 50 years on

    Wednesday, October 17, 2012   No comments

Protesters gathered in central Paris to mark fifty years since a deadly police crackdown on Algerian anti-war protesters, one of the darkest days in modern French history.

Rachel HOLMAN (text)
Anti-discrimination organisations and advocacy groups gathered for a massive rally in the heart of Paris Monday to remember the victims of a deadly police crackdown against Algerian protesters in Paris fifty years ago
On the evening of October 17, 1961, tens of thousands of Algerian anti-war protesters from the Paris region gathered at various landmarks in the city to protest against a curfew targeting their community.
The demonstrations were organised by the Paris-wing of the revolutionary Algerian National Liberation Front (FLN), which was fighting for Algeria’s liberation from France. The protest was meant to be peaceful but scores were killed and a community left devastated.
Bodies found in River Seine
That fateful night, French police acted swiftly and ruthlessly under the orders of their chief Maurice Papon to quell the protests. Gun shots rang out as thousands were arrested en masse, herded on to buses and transported to the makeshift detention centres in the Paris area. Those detained reported that they were beaten and held for days without food. Dead bodies were also found washed up on the banks of the River Seine after they were allegedly dumped in the city’s famous river by the French police.

The Paris massacre that time forgot, 51 years on

    Wednesday, October 17, 2012   No comments
Fifty-one years to the day, French President François Hollande has recognised the October 17, 1961 massacre of Algerian protesters in Paris. Historian Jean-Luc Einaudi talks to FRANCE 24 about one of the darkest chapters of French colonial history.
By Tahar HANI 
Exactly 51 years after one of the murkiest episodes in recent French history, French President François Hollande recognised on Wednesday the "bloody repression" of Algerian protesters by French police that took place in the heart of Paris on October 17, 1961.

On that fateful day, French police – under the leadership of Paris prefect Maurice Papon – brutally crushed peaceful demonstrations of Algerian anti-war protesters who had gathered in and around the French capital to protest against a French security crackdown in Algeria.

The incident occurred at the height of the Algerian war of independence, when the French colonial administration was locked in a bitter battle with the Algerian National Liberation Front (FLN) – the Algerian party fighting for the North African nation’s liberation from France.

More than half-a-century later, the details surrounding the October 17 massacre – including the casualty figures – remain murky. A day after the demonstrations, the left-leaning French newspaper Libération reported the official toll as two dead, several wounded and 7,500 arrests. The death toll, however, was disputed by the FLN, which claimed that dozens were killed.  Many of the bodies were found floating in the River Seine.

Libya: New Proof of Mass Killings at Gaddafi Death Site

    Wednesday, October 17, 2012   No comments
New evidence collected by Human Rights Watch implicates Misrata-based militias in the apparent execution of dozens of detainees following the capture and death of Muammar Gaddafi one year ago. The Libyan authorities have failed to carry out their pledge to investigate the death of Gaddafi, Libya’s former dictator, his son Mutassim, and dozens of others in rebel custody.

The 50-page report, “Death of a Dictator: Bloody Vengeance in Sirte,”details the final hours of Muammar Gaddafi’s life and the circumstances under which he was killed. It presents evidence that Misrata-based militias captured and disarmed members of the Gaddafi convoy and, after bringing them under their total control, subjected them to brutal beatings. They then executed at least 66 captured members of the convoy at the nearby Mahari Hotel. The evidence indicates that opposition militias took Gaddafi’s wounded son Mutassim from Sirte to Misrata and killed him there.

“The evidence suggests that opposition militias summarily executed at least 66 captured members of Gaddafi’s convoy in Sirte,” said Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director at Human Rights Watch. “It also looks as if they took Mutassim Gaddafi, who had been wounded, to Misrata and killed him there. Our findings call into question the assertion by Libyan authorities that Muammar Gaddafi was killed in crossfire, and not after his capture."


Monday, October 15, 2012

Turkey should readjust its policies in Syria, says Yakış

    Monday, October 15, 2012   No comments

Regarding Turkey's foreign policy in the Middle East and particularly in Syria, Yaşar Yakış, a former minister of foreign affairs and the president of the Center for Strategic Communication (STRATİM), told Today's Zaman that “Turkey should make an adjustment to its foreign policy route just like the captain of a ship would.” Yakış, who is also a retired ambassador and the country's longest-serving diplomat in the Middle East, added that "you cannot insist on a policy just because it was a part of your foreign policy in the past. Each new situation requires an adjustment in foreign policy because if the captain of a ship holds the steering wheel in a constant position, the ship changes its direction due to external factors.”
“Turkey took part on the right side of history [when] a dictator was confronted by his people, but while doing this our actions went beyond the actions of other actors and destroyed all bridges with the regime.” He claims that in Syria Turkey acted with the motivation of “not repeating the mistake it made in Libya, where it expressed misgivings regarding the relevance of the NATO operation, and he went on to say: “The Western countries encouraged us, but then put on the brakes because of a fear that fundamentalists could take over in Syria. Turkey was caught off guard and remained alone, in the offside position.”

Rebel Arms Flow Is Said to Benefit Jihadists in Syria

    Monday, October 15, 2012   No comments

WASHINGTON — Most of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply Syrian rebel groups fighting the government of Bashar al-Assad are going to hard-line Islamic jihadists, and not the more secular opposition groups that the West wants to bolster, according to American officials and Middle Eastern diplomats.

That conclusion, of which President Obama and other senior officials are aware from classified assessments of the Syrian conflict that has now claimed more than 25,000 lives, casts into doubt whether the White House’s strategy of minimal and indirect intervention in the Syrian conflict is accomplishing its intended purpose of helping a democratic-minded opposition topple an oppressive government, or is instead sowing the seeds of future insurgencies hostile to the United States.

“The opposition groups that are receiving the most of the lethal aid are exactly the ones we don’t want to have it,” said one American official familiar with the outlines of those findings, commenting on an operation that in American eyes has increasingly gone awry.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Syria, Turkey, Israel and the Greater Middle East Energy War

    Sunday, October 14, 2012   No comments

By F. William Engdahl

On October 3, 2012 the Turkish military launched repeated mortar shellings inside Syrian territory. The military action, which was used by the Turkish military, conveniently, to establish a ten-kilometer wide no-man’s land “buffer zone” inside Syria, was in response to the alleged killing by Syrian armed forces of several Turkish civilians along the border.

There is widespread speculation that the one Syrian mortar that killed five Turkish civilians well might have been fired by Turkish-backed opposition forces intent on giving Turkey a pretext to move militarily, in military intelligence jargon, a ‘false flag’ operation.[1]

Turkey’s Muslim Brotherhood-friendly Foreign Minister, the inscrutable Ahmet Davutoglu, is the government’s main architect of Turkey’s self-defeating strategy of toppling its former ally Bashar Al-Assad in Syria.[2]

According to one report since 2006 under the government of Islamist Sunni Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his pro-Brotherhood AKP party, Turkey has become a new center for the Global Muslim Brotherhood.[3] A well-informed Istanbul source relates the report that before the last Turkish elections, Erdogan’s AKP received a “donation” of $10 billion from the Saudi monarchy, the heart of world jihadist Salafism under the strict fundamentalist cloak of Wahabism. [4] Since the 1950’s when the CIA brought leading members in exile of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood to Saudi Arabia there has been a fusion between the Saudi brand of Wahabism and the aggressive jihadist fundamentalism of the Brotherhood.[5]

The Turkish response to the single Syrian mortar shell, which was met with an immediate Syrian apology for the incident, borders on a full-scale war between two nations which until last year were historically, culturally, economically and even in religious terms, closest of allies.

That war danger is ever more serious. Turkey is a full member of NATO whose charter explicitly states, an attack against one NATO state is an attack against all. The fact that nuclear-armed Russia and China both have made defense of the Syrian Bashar al-Assad regime a strategic priority puts the specter of a World War closer than most of us would like to imagine.

In a December 2011 analysis of the competing forces in the region, former CIA analyst Philip Giraldi made the following prescient observation:

Hitched to Qatar's rising star, Al Jazeera takes a bumpy ride skyward

    Sunday, October 14, 2012   No comments

By Elizabeth Dickinson

It’s mid-afternoon as Al Anstey, managing director of Al Jazeera English, takes a brief respite from the news to recall a whirlwind year.

As a wave of Arab uprisings swept the region, Egyptian revolutionaries broadcast the channel live on giant screens in Tahrir Square. Rebels in Benghazi gave reporters a hero’s welcome in Libya. And US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton publicly credited the channel for helping her to stay abreast of the upheaval.

In short, Al Jazeera televised the revolutions, and the world tuned in.

Yet three fallen leaders and more than a year later, it’s not just Al Jazeera’s audience that has grown. So, too, have its critics. Founded by the Qatari emir in 1996, the channel's main detractors early on came from the West, where its penchant for broadcasting Al Qaeda messages and portraying graphic images of the US-led war in Iraq irked many, including former President George W. Bush.

But since the Arab Spring, Al Jazeera’s previous success has been amplified and the Qatari government has started playing a bigger part in regional policy. Suddenly, the cozy relationship between patron and broadcaster carries a bit more baggage.

“It’s important to take seriously where the funding of this network comes from,” says Ethan Zuckerman, senior researcher at Harvard University’s Berkman Center. “You’re basically talking about a journalistic organization that by definition has a conflict built in.”

Such criticisms have indisputably grown – that Al Jazeera downplayed uprisings in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, and overemphasized certain Islamist groups’ perspectives in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, all seemingly in line with Doha’s foreign policy interests. Concerns about Al Jazeera’s independence were amplified when the station’s director general, Wadah Khanfar, resigned in September and was replaced by a member of the royal family.

Serious as they are, however, such accusations are also a sort of backhanded compliment – an acknowledgment of the impact that the network now has. Viewership is higher than ever, reaching 260 million households in 130 countries.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Turkey's opposition leader calls FM 'an idiot'

    Tuesday, October 09, 2012   No comments

Main oppoisiton Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu slammed Turkey's foreign policy decisions today, calling Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu "an idiot," daily Hürriyet reported.

"Who is on Turkey's side? Hamas, Barzani, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Syria has Brazil, Iran, Russia and China on its side," Kılıçdaroğlu said. "Is this 'strategic depth,' or strategic blindness? The process that resulted in Turkey's becoming part of such a meaningless balance comes from a foreign minister whose incompotence is known by the entire world. You don't need deep knowledge to know that. You have to be a real idiot to do that."

Source: Hurriyet

US Protestants no longer a majority, says study

    Tuesday, October 09, 2012   No comments

For the first time since European settlement the US does not have a Protestant majority, according to a study, with the number of Americans claiming no religious affiliation on the rise.

The percentage of Protestant adults in the US has reached a low of 48%, the first time Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life has reported with certainty that the number has fallen below 50%.

The drop has long been anticipated and comes at a time when there are no Protestants on the supreme court and the Republicans have their first presidential ticket with no Protestant nominees.

Among the reasons for the change are the growth in nondenominational Christians who can no longer be categorised as Protestant, and a spike in the number of American adults who say they have no religion. The Pew study, released on Tuesday, found about 20% of Americans said they have no religious affiliation, an increase from 15% in the past five years.

Scholars have long debated whether people who say they no longer belong to a religious group should be considered secular. While the category as defined by Pew researchers includes atheists, it also encompasses majorities of people who say they believe in God, and a notable minority who pray daily or consider themselves "spiritual" but not "religious".

Still, Pew found overall that most of the unaffiliated were not actively seeking another religious home, indicating that their ties with organised religion were permanently broken.

Growth among those with no religion has been a major preoccupation of American faith leaders, who worry that the US, a highly religious country, would go the way of western Europe, where church attendance has plummeted.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Slavery Still Exists

    Wednesday, October 03, 2012   No comments

It was 130 degrees when I was first introduced to the brick kilns of Nepal. In these severe temperatures, men, women, and children -- whole families, in fact -- were surrounded by a dense cloud of dust while mechanically stacking bricks on their heads, carrying them, 18 at a time, from the scorching kilns to trucks hundreds of yards away.

These are slaves. Deadened by monotony and exhaustion, they worked without speaking, repeating the same task 16 hours a day. They took no rest for food or water, no bathroom breaks -- although their dehydration suppressed their need to urinate.

Around the world human traffickers trick many people into slavery by false promises of good jobs or good education, only to find themselves forced to work without pay, under the threat of violence. Trapped by phony debt, these slaves are hunted by local police and private security guards if they try to escape. Sometimes slaves don't even understand that they're enslaved, despite people working 16 or 17 hours a day with no pay. They're simply used to it as something they've been doing their whole lives. Their bodies grow weak and vulnerable to disease, but they have nothing to compare their experience to.

For the last 28 years I have documented people in more than 100 countries on six continents. In 2009, at the Vancouver Peace Summit, I met a supporter of Free the Slaves, an NGO dedicated to eradicating modern-day slavery; weeks later, I flew down to Los Angeles and met with the director of Free the Slaves; thus began my journey into exploring modern-day slavery.

Oddly, I'd been to most of the locations where I started photographing slavery many times before. I even considered some of them homes-away-from-home. But there can be dark corners in familiar places.

These are not images of "problems." They're images of people. There are 27 million slaves in the world today: That's more than double the number of people taken from Africa during the entire transatlantic slave trade. A hundred and fifty years ago, an average agricultural slave cost over three times the average yearly wage of an American worker, about US$50,000 in today's money. Yet now, entire families can be enslaved for generations over a debt as small as $18. Slavery is illegal everywhere, but it exists all over the world.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

State television in Syria issued a withering attack on a longtime ally, Khaled Meshal,

    Tuesday, October 02, 2012   No comments
State television in Syria issued a withering attack late Monday on a longtime ally, the leader of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, Khaled Meshal, declaring him an ungrateful child and a corrupt traitor, saying he was having a “romantic emotional crisis” over the Syrian uprising and accusing him of selling out “resistance for power.”


The newscaster who delivered the rebuke to Mr. Meshal also castigated Egypt and Turkey for what it said was their complicity in the Palestinians’ plight.

At certain points its tone became downright snide: “Meshal, since you are having a romantic emotional crisis over what you call the suffering of the Syrian people,” the newscaster said, “why didn’t the Palestinian people elicit the same emotional reaction?”

She recalled how Syria defied other powers to grant him refuge in 1999. “The plane that was carrying him was sent back from the skies of airports as if he was the plague,” she intoned. “Doha and Ankara and Amman and Cairo all evaded him that day because Israel had vetoed his reception, and only Damascus dared defy the Israeli veto.”

Addressing him directly, she continued, “The only possible interpretation for their sudden welcoming attitude today is that you are no longer wanted by the occupation” — referring to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories — “and no longer a threat to their safety.”

She offered a barely veiled “good riddance.”

“Syria is not regretful because it didn’t do what it did expecting loyalty or thanks,” she said. “Syria is happy that the person who sold resistance for power is leaving it now.”

The editorial also took shots at Turkey’s bid to become a regional leader and champion of the Palestinian cause.

For the Turks — who have been major allies of the Syrian insurgency, providing a haven for its fighters — that role is “too much for them to handle,” the newscaster warned. “The Turkishization of the resistance is read in Arabic as your complete abandonment of the cause.”

“Meshal, remember that fire needs authentic oil or the smoke will blind eyes. And the authentic oil for the fire of resistance is Syrian, Palestinian, Arab.”

Monday, October 1, 2012

Free Syrian Army (FSA) return to Turkey after moving to Syria

    Monday, October 01, 2012   No comments

Different members of the Syrian opposition, who spoke on condition of anonymity, have claimed leaders of the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) have not returned to Syria as was claimed by the FSA leadership, but travel back and forth to Syria from Turkey. 

“The leaders of the FSA, Colonel Riad al-Asaad and General Mustafa al-Seyh had gone to Syria for one day and the next day they returned to Turkey. The fighters on the ground don’t care about their leadership, this is why they are all in Turkey now,” a prominent member of the SNC told the Hürriyet Daily News in an interview on Sept. 28.

On Sept. 22 the FSA announced it had moved its command center from Turkey to “liberated areas” inside Syria. A video posted on YouTube appeared to show the leader of the FSA, al-Asaad, confirming the move.

Invisible in Saudi Arabia

    Monday, October 01, 2012   No comments

Ikea, the global furniture company, has apologised for deleting images of women from the version of its catalogue circulating in Saudi Arabia.

The issue was highlighted on Monday by the free newspaper, Metro, which compared the Swedish and Saudi versions of the catalogue and showed that women had been airbrushed out of otherwise identical pictures showcasing the company's products.

Ikea's Saudi catalogue, which is also available online, looks the same as other editions of the publication, except for the absence of women.

One picture shows a family apparently getting ready for bed, with a young boy brushing his teeth in the bathroom. However, a pyjama-clad woman standing next to the boy is missing from the Saudi version. Another picture of five women dining has been removed in the Saudi edition.

Yousef Bin Al-Alawi Bin Abdulla, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Oman

    Monday, October 01, 2012   No comments

YOUSEF BIN ALAWI BIN ABDULLAH, Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs of Oman, calling on his “brothers in Syria” to renounce violence and enter into a political process to end the crisis, called on the Security Council to reach a unified position on the Syrian crisis “away from any political contradiction and without bias to any party,” that would usher in inclusive political dialogue for that purpose. The principles laid out by the Action Group for Syria in Geneva could be used as a guideline in that respect, he stated, adding that the time had come for collective action to preserve the security, stability and development of all the countries in the Middle East.
In that light, he said, the role of the United Nations in relation to the Question of Palestine should change “from managing the crisis to seriously searching for a just and lasting comprehensive political solution,” which would take into account the interest of both parties and lead to two States living side by side. From that standpoint, he supported the application of Palestine to become a non-member state of the United Nations, hoping it would usher in a new phase in negotiations. He expressed the hope that the upcoming Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) review conference will be able to declare the establishment of a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction.
On Somalia, he welcomed political progress there and called on the international community to provide political, economic and humanitarian assistance to the people, urging Somalis of all political and tribal affiliations to reject violence, cease hostilities, engage in national dialogue and place the interests of the nation above their own. Noting the location of his country on the Arabian Sea, he reconfirmed its support for international efforts to eradicate piracy and armed robbery against merchant vessels in that sea and the Indian Ocean. Condemning the recent video that slandered the Prophet Muhammad while rejecting the escalation of violence that followed its dissemination, he said it was incumbent on the United Nations to adopt international legislation that would “hold accountable those responsible” for any deliberate abuse of and slander of the sanctity of people and their beliefs.
Turning to threats to food security, he said that among remedies worth exploring were the establishment of a global food reserve system to meet shortages, with reserve centres in several continents managed through a targeted international fund. He suggested that the Food and Agricultural Organization conduct a study of the matter and encouraged industrialized countries to support more research towards innovative solutions to keep pace with the steady increase in the global demand for food. Describing his country’s progress in the areas of health, public services and sustainable development, he looked forward to international cooperation in implementing the results of the Rio+20 conference. He also stressed progress Oman had made in safeguarding human rights, fighting human trafficking, acceding to international treaties and empowering the Oman Council, granting it wide legislative powers.

Walid Al-Moualem, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Syria

    Monday, October 01, 2012   No comments

WALID AL-MOUALEM, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of Syria, said that, while the peoples of the world waited to see effective and coordinated international efforts to overcome contemporary crises, reality pointed instead to the escalation of hegemony and domination. Instead of seeking to contribute to the settlement of regional and international disputes by peaceful means, some well known countries continued to pursue “new colonial policies” based on hypocrisy. “Under the pretext of humanitarian intervention these countries interfere in the domestic affairs of States and impose unilateral sanctions that lack a moral and legal basis”, he stressed, adding that, under the pretext of concepts such as “the responsibility to protect”, the “drums of war are beaten”, and sedition and unrest were spreading and damaging the structure of national societies. Perhaps worst of all was to see the permanent members of the Security Council — who launched wars under the pretext of combating terrorism — now supporting terrorism in Syria.
For more than a year, his country had been facing organized terrorism that led to bombings, assassinations and massacres, as well as looting and sabotage activities that horrified citizens in many parts of Syria. Citing a recent bombing, which had taken place just last week and for which responsibility had been claimed by a terrorist group, he said that it was no surprise that the Security Council had failed to condemn that act. That terrorism was, in fact, externally supported, and was accompanied by “unprecedented media provocation” based on igniting religious extremism. Some States in the region either turned a blind eye to the situation, or provided active material and logistical support for armed terrorist groups. “These facts make me question whether this international consensus by our States on combating terrorism was serious, or was it just merely ink on paper?” In that context, he noted the “explicit request of the United States” that the armed terrorist groups not surrender their arms in response to amnesty decrees issued by the Syrian leadership. He also wondered to what extent the statements of Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United States and France — which clearly induced support for terrorism in Syria — were in line with the international responsibilities of those States in combating terrorism.
The Syrian Government had responded positively throughout the crisis to each sincere initiative aiming to find a peaceful solution based on national dialogue among Syrians, and rejected external manipulation. Syria had cooperated with the Arab Observers Mission, and the subsequent international initiatives linked to the work of the United Nations Special Envoy Kofi Annan. It had received the United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) and announced its commitment to the implementation of the Six Point Plan presented by Mr. Annan. Syria had also welcomed the appointment of Lakhdar Brahimi as Special Representative of the Secretary-General and stressed its willingness to cooperate with him on the principles agreed by the international community. The success of any such effort, however, depended on the commitment of States supporting armed groups in Syria — particularly Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Libya and others — to stop arming, funding, training and harbouring such terrorist groups, and instead to encourage dialogue and renounce violence.
The crisis in Syria was a two-sided problem, he went on. The first side was linked to the need for political, economic and social reforms demanded by the public, while the second side was the exploitation of those needs and demands for completely different objectives. In the past year the Government had made serious and important reform steps that culminated in a new constitution that embraced pluralism and that was followed by parliamentary elections. Syria was continuing to work with the patriotic components in the opposition to build a new and pluralistic Syria that responded to the aspirations of its people. Calls from the General Assembly’s podium for the President of Syria, Bashar Al-Assad, to step down were a “blatant interference in the domestic affairs of Syria”, and the unity of its people and its sovereignty. The Syrian people were the only party authorized to choose its own future and the shape of its own State, he stressed, urging countries that were proud of their own democracy and freedom of expression to support Syria in “our democratic course” and leave the Syrian people to choose its leadership through elections whose form was defined by the new Constitution.
Inviting the national opposition to join efforts to stop shedding Syrian blood by sitting at the dialogue table, he stressed that the Government of his country still believed in a political solution as the essential way out of the current crisis. He called, therefore, for all parties and political groups — inside and outside of Syria — to take part in a constructive dialogue “under the umbrella of the homeland”. To that end, countries represented in the Assembly should exert pressure to end the violence. The results of that national dialogue, after agreement by all parties, would be the map for a more pluralistic and democratic Syria. The events in Syria had led to growing humanitarian needs in several key sectors in areas affected by the terrorism of Takfiri groups, which had led to the worsening of the living conditions of the Syrian citizens there. While the Government had been working hard to meet the basic needs of the people, some had sought to “fabricate a refugee crisis” through inciting armed groups to intimidate Syrian civilians in border areas and by forcing them to flee to neighbouring countries. He appealed to those Syrian citizens to return to their towns and villages, where the State would guarantee their safe return and their precious lives, away from the “inhumane conditions” they had suffered in refugee camps. He also questioned the credibility of those who called for humanitarian assistance, but at the same time tightened economic sanctions.
In addition, he recalled his country’s natural right to the full return of the occupied Syrian Golan and support for the independent Palestinian State on the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967. Further, he stressed that the insistence of the United States and countries of the European Union, among others, to adopt unilateral economic measures contradicted the regulations of international law and the principles of free trade, and raised questions about the legality and morality of such practices. In that vein, he called for the lifting of the embargo imposed on Cuba by the United States, as well as for the lifting and ending of all unilateral coercive measures imposed on countries including Venezuela, Belarus, Iran, Syria and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

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