Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Erdogan says he has evidence US-led coalition has given support to Isis

    Tuesday, December 27, 2016   No comments
ISR comment: For four years, some government officials from Syria, Iran, and Iraq have accused members of the U.S.-led anti-ISIL coalition of supporting the UN-designated terror group. Russia had also accused Turkey of allowing ISIL fighters to cross its borders freely, open its market for ISIL to sell Iraqi and Syrian oil to Turkish dealers, and provide the group with weapons. Now, it is the Turkish president who is accusing the anti-ISIL coalition, in which his government is a member, accusing it, including the United States government of providing support to Daesh [he used the Arabic acronym for ISIL, ISIS, or IS). What is very clear is that, some governments have been supporting all armed groups in Syria, including ISIL and Nusra and the cache of sophisticated weapons left behind in buildings previously controlled by Nusra fighters in east Aleppo is evidence of that. This coming year might reveal the governments that took part in the destruction of Syria and the killing of hundreds of thousands of Syrians Erdogan's statement might be just the first of many testimonies.

ISILfighters killing civilians accused of being spies this month.
*****
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said he has evidence that U.S.-led coalition forces give support to terrorist groups including the Islamic State and Kurdish militant groups YPG and PYD, he said on Tuesday.

"They were accusing us of supporting Daesh (Islamic State)," he told a press conference in Ankara.

"Now they give support to terrorist groups including Daesh, YPG, PYD. It's very clear. We have confirmed evidence, with pictures, photos and videos," he said. source
...

The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he has uncovered evidence that US-led coalition forces have helped support terrorists in Syria – including Isis.

American-led forces have been working alongside Syrian rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad but have attempted to avoid helping Isis and other Islamist militant groups.

However, speaking on Tuesday in the Turkish capital, Ankara, he said he believed they had given support to a variety of militant groups, including Isis Kurdish outfits YPG and PYD. source
...
Throughout Syria's five-year civil war, Turkey and the U.S. have been opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad and have backed various rebel factions against the Syrian army and its allies, which include Russia and Iran. Recent major victories by the Syrian government and its supporters, however, have brought Turkey to the negotiating table. Source

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Cross Shield: ISIS burns Turkish soldiers alive

    Saturday, December 24, 2016   No comments
The armed group calling itself "the islamic state" [IS] released another video depicting its cruel and unusual acts. The video depicts group members carrying out execution of Turkish captured soldiers, being burned alive

Turkey launched a campaign against IS in northern Syria in August and is currently fighting IS around the group's stronghold of al-Bab.
...
The Turkish army previously reported losing contact with two soldiers in northern Syria last month but it is unclear whether either are the men in the video.

At least one of the purported victims appears to have been captured by the group as far back as September 2015.

Turkish officials did not immediately respond to the publication of the video late on Thursday. source

Friday, December 23, 2016

Armed groups in Syria shell Aleppo after withdrawal, killing three civilians

    Friday, December 23, 2016   No comments
Syrian rebels shelled Aleppo on Friday, killing three people, state television reported, a day after insurgents finished withdrawing from their last pocket of territory in the city.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based war monitor, said about 10 shells had fallen in al-Hamdaniya district in southwest Aleppo.

Rebels seeking to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have frequently shelled the areas of Aleppo that have been under government control throughout the conflict, which began in 2011.

The destruction in those parts of the city has been far less than in the eastern districts that rebels held until this month.

The last rebels left the city late on Thursday for the countryside immediately to the west of Aleppo, under a ceasefire deal in which the International Committee of the Red Cross said about 35,000 people, mostly civilians, had departed.

Many of those who left the city are now living as refugees in the areas to the west and south of Aleppo, including in Idlib province where bulldozers were used to clear heavy snowfall on Friday morning, the opposition Orient television showed.  source

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Facebook Experiment: Quitting Facebook Leads to Higher Levels of Well-Being

    Thursday, December 22, 2016   No comments
Taking a break from Facebook can boost emotional wellbeing and life satisfaction, with the effects particularly pronounced among people who “lurk” on the social network without actively engaging with others, a study suggests.

The research by the University of Copenhagen showed the effects of quitting for a week were also strong among heavy users and those who envied their Facebook friends, suggesting that people who pore irritably over the posts of others may benefit the most.

The report’s author, Morten Tromholt, from the university’s sociology department, said the findings suggested that changes in behaviour – for example, heavy users reducing their time spent on Facebook, or lurkers actively engaging – could yield positive results.

Abstract:
Most people use Facebook on a daily basis; few are aware of the consequences. Based on a 1-week experiment with 1,095 participants in late 2015 in Denmark, this study provides causal evidence that Facebook use affects our well-being negatively. By comparing the treatment group (participants who took a break from Facebook) with the control group (participants who kept using Facebook), it was demonstrated that taking a break from Facebook has positive effects on the two dimensions of well-being: our life satisfaction increases and our emotions become more positive. Furthermore, it was demonstrated that these effects were significantly greater for heavy Facebook users, passive Facebook users, and users who tend to envy others on Facebook.

To cite the study:
Tromholt Morten. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. November 2016, 19(11): 661-666. doi:10.1089/cyber.2016.0259.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Joint statement on Syria by Iran, Russia, Turkey's Foreign Ministers

    Tuesday, December 20, 2016   No comments
At the end of their trilateral meeting, the foreign ministers of Iran, Russia and Turkey issued a joint statement on agreed steps to revitalize the political process to end the Syria crisis.

Zarif, Lavrov and Cavusoglu agreed on the following topics:

1. Iran, Russia and Turkey reiterate their full respect for the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic as a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, non-sectarian, democratic and secular state.

2. Iran, Russia and Turkey are convinced that there is no military solution to the Syrian conflict. They recognize the essential role of the United Nations in the efforts to resolve this crisis in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 2254.

The ministers also take note of the decisions made by the International Syria Support Croup (ISSG) and urge all members of the international community to cooperate in good faith in order to remove the obstacles on the way to implement the agreements contained in these documents.

3. Iran, Russia and Turkey welcome joint efforts in eastern Aleppo allowing for voluntary evacuation of civilians and organized departure of the armed opposition.

The ministers also welcome the partial evacuation of civilians from Foua, Kefraya, Zabadani and Madaya and commit to ensure the completion of the process without any interruption and in a safe and secure manner.

They express their gratitude to the representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) for their assistance in the conduction of the evacuation.

4. The Iranian, Russian and Turkish ministers agree on the importance of expanding ceasefire, unhindered humanitarian assistance and free movement of civilians throughout the country.

5. Iran, Russia and Turkey express their readiness to facilitate and become the guarantors of the prospective agreement being negotiated between the Syrian government and the opposition. They invite all other countries with the influence on the situation on the ground to do the same.

6. They strongly believe that this agreement will be instrumental to create the necessary momentum for the resumption of the political process in Syria in accordance with the Security Council resolution 2254.

7. Zarif, Lavrov and Cavusoglu take note of the kind offer of the president of Kazakhstan to host relevant meetings in Astana.

8. Iran, Russia and Turkey reiterate their determination to fight jointly against Daesh and al-Nusra terrorists and to separate them from armed opposition groups.

______________________

The News Conference:
________________


Monday, December 19, 2016

Who killed the Russian ambassador Andrey Karlov in Turkey and why?

    Monday, December 19, 2016   No comments
ISR: Since Turkey threw its support behind violent armed groups in Syria, the number of attacks in Turkey have increased. After each attack, the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and his government accused "Kurdish terrorists" and some times they accused ISIL terrorists. This time, it will be hard pinning the killing of the Russian ambassador on either. The gunman, wearing suit and a dark tie, looked more like a police officer working for the Turkish government than a Kurdish or ISIL fighter. Erdogan, therefore, and his government must take part of the blame for the crime this time. Their rhetoric and one-sided narrative about the Syrian conflict made it clear to the Turkish people that the armed groups are "righteous" and the Syrian government, and all its supporters, are evil. That one-sided, absolutist rhetoric motivates Turkish individuals to kill anyone who support the government of Syria. Erdogan and his government must walk back their rhetoric before they are able to contain the violence that is bound to consume Turkey. Absolutist, dogmatic political rhetoric has consequences. The Turkish government is responsible for violence stemming from its sectarian, hateful, and violent rhetoric.

__________

Announcing Karlov's death, the ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the "day is tragic in the history of the Russian diplomacy." The ambassador was shot at a public event in the Turkish capital, the ministry confirmed, saying that he later died of his wounds.

The topic of the killing of the Russian diplomat will be raised at the UN Security Council on Monday, Zakharova said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry will issue a statement later in the day, she added.
Moscow will resolutely fight terrorism, Zakharova said, adding that Russia expects Turkish authorities to launch a "thorough" investigation into the murder.

Calling Karlov "an outstanding Russian diplomat," Zakharova said that the ambassador "had done a lot to fight terrorism."

"His memory will remain in our hearts forever," she said, adding that Moscow will make sure those behind the murder "will be punished."

The "hideous" murder of the diplomat should not impede the progress of talks on Syria, scheduled to be held among Russia, Iran and Turkey on Tuesday, Russian MP and head of the International Affairs Committee, Leonid Slutsky, said. Speaking to Russia's Rossiya 24 TV channel, Slutsky said that Moscow and Ankara should ramp up their efforts in order to achieve a solution to the Syrian crisis. source 

 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Media coverage: More evidence suggest that Aljazeera and the government of Qatar enabled war crimes in Syria

    Sunday, December 18, 2016   No comments
More evidence suggest that Aljazeera and the government of Qatar, and other states supporting the armed groups in Syria including Saudi Arabia and Turkey, enabled and Qatar promised to continue to enable war crimes in Syria.


With armed groups and their families being evacuated out of Aleppo, the process and aftermath reveal, with undeniable certainty, that these groups have committed war crimes in the city and the areas they control. The process also exposed the supporters of groups like the Idlib-based Fath al-Sham (aka Nusra, al-Qaeda affiliate), like Qatar and its mouthpiece Aljazeera. 


Aljazeera failed to report that Fath al-Sham burned buses that were supposed to evacuate the injured and civilians from Shia towns in Idlib endangering the lives of pro-rebel Sunni civilians still trapped in east Aleppo. This callous act, blocking the evacuation of civilians and injured individuals, prompted armed groups and civilians in Aleppo to appeal to “mujahideen to let civilian leave.”


Images out of east Aleppo also reveal that armed groups used mosques, including the historical one—Umayyad Mosque, as military bases. These acts, using civilians as human shields, preventing the evacuation civilians, the evacuation of the injured and sick, holding civilians as hostage, and the use of religious sites for military purposes, all are war crimes.

 
Armed groups used the mosque as military base.

 







 











   




     Aljazeera not reporting the fact that Nusra burned the buses to block the evacuation of civilians, injured, and sick individuals as part of a deal struck between Turkey and Russia.

     Aljazeera lack of coverage of the burning of the buses in Idlib, Syria.

 BBC coverage of the burning of the buses in Idlib, Syria.

Reuters coverage of the burning of the buses in Idlib, Syria.




Saturday, December 17, 2016

In Aleppo, as in Mosul, all sides committed war crimes

    Saturday, December 17, 2016   No comments
ISR Comment: War is a sanitized name for mass killings. Those controlling the tools of propaganda would like people to believe that it depends on who is waging the war. A war waged by some governments are clean; but in wars waged by other countries crimes are committed. A good example is the narrative associated with the war in Mosul and the War in Aleppo. The anti-Assad coalition are quick to charge war crimes in Aleppo, and there is no doubt that war crimes took place there. But discussing war crimes in Mosul is muted, but we also know that war crimes were committed there. 
The UN, perhaps bowing to the powerful and influential, is following this faulty logic, which making it loose credibility with every report. For UN, civilians killed in Aleppo are bigger concern than civilians killed in Mosul. This double standard is destroying its credibility and the hopes of those who depend on it to save their lives and their communities. In Aleppo, as in Mosul, all sides committed war crimes; so stop sanitizing war.

UN selective concern is now clear contradiction: One day UN says that it knows that Syrian government is behind civilian deaths in Aleppo, the next day, UN says they have no proof of that. 
_________________ 

Dozens of civilians were killed by Syrian forces in "a complete meltdown of humanity" during the final battle for Aleppo, the U.N. said Tuesday amid separate reports that women and children were burned alive while some families chose suicide over surrender.

The U.N. human rights office said it received reports of pro-government forces killing at least 82 people as they tightened their grip on the shrinking rebel districts in the east of the city.

Below, as reported by the same news outlet affiliated with Syrian Opposition, the UN said: We have no proof that Syrian government is behind the death of civilians in Aleppo.



Friday, December 16, 2016

Egypt accuses Qatar of providing sanctuary to individuals who financed the bomb attack on church in Cairo

    Friday, December 16, 2016   No comments
ISR comments: For the second time in days, Egyptian authorities accuse Qatar of a role in training groups threatening the security of the country. This time, the interior ministry explicitly stated that Qatar is providing sanctuary to individuals who are training and financing the terrorists who bombed the church in Cairo. Other Gulf Stated reacted by rejecting the charges against Qatar claiming that all Gulf States stand against terrorism.

____
Egypt's interior ministry Monday accused fugitive Muslim Brotherhood leaders who have fled to Qatar of training and financing the perpetrators of the bomb attack on a Cairo church that killed 25 people.

The ministry said investigations revealed the group was led by a suspect who received financial and logistical support and instructions to carry out the attacks by Brotherhood leaders residing in Qatar.

The Muslim Brotherhood have denied any involvement with the explosion at the Saint Peter and Saint Paul Church on Sunday.

The incident was the deadliest attack in recent memory on the Christian minority, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt's population.

The Interior Ministry said late Monday that Mustafa belonged to a terrorist cell founded by an Egyptian doctor and funded by Muslim Brotherhood leaders living in exile in Qatar, long accused by Egypt of supporting militants groups. It said the cell was tasked with staging attacks that would lead to sectarian Muslim-Christian strife. source

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

US will not sell weapons to Saudi Arabia

    Tuesday, December 13, 2016   No comments
ISR comment: This is one of those instances where late is better than never. In September, when Saudi Arabia committed another war crime while continuing its brutal war on Yemen, killing many civilians and pushing millions to starvation, the US Senate cleared way for $1.15 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia. Today, it was announced that sale of arms will be halted. This is a very small and rare victory for the poorest Arab country, Yemen, which has been bombarded for nearly two years by the richest Arab country. It is hoped that EU governments will do follow and ban the sales of arms to Saudi Arabia until its rulers, especially their teenage-minded war minister and son of King Salman, stop using these tools of killing and destruction as toys.

US halts arms sale to Saudi Arabia over civilian casualties in Yemen

The US has cancelled a planned weapons sale to Saudi Arabia and will limit military support for the Saudi-led air campaign in Yemen over widespread civilian deaths, a US official revealed on Tuesday.

More than 10,000 people have been killed during the 20-month-old civil war in Yemen, and the impoverished country is gripped by food shortages and other humanitarian crises.

According to a UN estimate, about 60 per cent of the 4,000 or more civilian deaths have resulted from Saudi-led air strikes. Source


Saturday, December 10, 2016

#Aleppo: About 50,000 civilians have fled the rebel enclave over the past two days

    Saturday, December 10, 2016   No comments
About 50,000 civilians have fled the rebel enclave over the past two days, a Russian defence spokesman said.

He added that more than 1,000 rebels had laid down their arms as pro-government forces close in.

Meanwhile Western powers have renewed calls for Syria and its ally, Russia, to allow people to leave Aleppo.

The statement came at a meeting of officials from the US, Europe, and some Arab countries.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, who attended the talks in Paris, said: "Russia and [Syrian President] Assad have a moment where they are in a dominant position to show a little grace."
Earlier Russian defence ministry spokesman Gen Igor Konashenkov said Syrian troops had suspended their offensive to allow the evacuation of civilians.

"People are moving in a constant stream through humanitarian corridors into the government-controlled districts,'' he told reporters.

He said 30,000 people had left on Friday and 20,000 so far on Saturday.
Source: BBC

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

#Syria, #Aleppo: Celebrations as families return to homes in Aleppo

    Tuesday, December 06, 2016   No comments
ISR: the complexity of the Syrian crisis is showing in this report about Syrians returning to their homes in Aleppo. The one-sided reporting has prolonged the violent conflict. This is a rare perspective on Western media.

Families loyal to Syrian President Assad have begun to return to Aleppo, as government forces retake territory held by rebels.



The BBC's Lyse Doucet reports from the district of Hanano where the citizens have come back to their devastated homes.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Is Recep Tayyip Erdogan becoming a liability for Turkish foreign policy and economy?

    Thursday, December 01, 2016   No comments
A country's economic development depends on stable governance. When a country is ruled by a person who acts impulsively and contradicts himself often, his government looses credibility. That can be a drag on regional stability and national security. This applies to Turkey.
Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan is loosing credibility fast and that is reducing any chances of seeing Turkey play a positive role in a very unstable region. These are signs that Erdogan may not be psychologically stable or temperamentally able to lead his country.
Just two days after declaring that his government's forces entered northern Syrian to "end the rule of the cruel [President Bashar al-] Assad", he was forced to walk back that comment stating that "Turkey's military operation in northern Syria did not target any one country or individual, but was aimed at terrorist organisations, only". Stating one thing and its opposite days apart reveal Erdogan's personal ambitions, that are driven by his sectarian and nationalist impulses, and the requisites of good relations with countries he depend on, namely Russia and Iran. 

Timeline of events

Erdogan's comments about Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad were a topic of discussion during the upcoming visit of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to Turkey, TASS reported Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov as saying on Wednesday.

"That will be a good topic to clarify the intentions," he said answering a question from a TASS correspondent.

Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for Russia's Foreign Ministry, said on Wednesday that Erdogan's words on removing Assad were uttered "off the record."

"We studied the matter yesterday. The quote caused a great stir," Zakharova said. "We tried to understand whether it was quoted as it had been said. It was not a direct quote, but a retelling of what had been said ‘off-the-record’. We rely on the public statements."

The retraction came after Erdogan called Putin and supposedly explained himself. 

Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, stated on Tuesday that his army entered Syria in order to end the reign of Syrian President, Bashar Al-Assad, and bring justice to Syrians.

“Why did we enter? We do not have an eye on Syrian soil. The issue is to provide lands to their real owners. That is to say we are there for the establishment of justice. We entered there to end the rule of the tyrant al-Assad who terrorizes with state terror. [We didn’t enter] for any other reason,” Erdogan stated.

Erdogan alleges nearly 1 million people have died in Syria, despite the fact no monitoring or humanitarian group has put the death toll this high.
“In my estimation, nearly 1 million people have died in Syria. These deaths are still continuing without exception for children, women and men. Where is the United Nations? What is it doing? Is it in Iraq? No. We preached patience but could not endure in the end and had to enter Syria together with the Free Syrian Army [FSA],” Erdoğan said at the first Inter-Parliamentary Jerusalem Platform Symposium in Istanbul.

The Turkish Army illegally entered Syria in August 2016, claiming that they were focused on defeating the so-called "Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham" (ISIS) in northern Aleppo; this did not prove to be the case, as they have repeatedly attacked the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) near the border.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Detainees beaten, tortured and raped Turkey under Erdogan leadership

    Tuesday, November 29, 2016   No comments
After a failed military coup against the government shook Turkey in July, contentious President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has cracked down on any and all dissenters and those he perceives to be a danger to his power. Now Human Rights Watch (HRW) is saying that Turkey has not only seen the incarceration and firing of critical citizens, but that the country's police force has also tortured individuals in their custody.

Erdogan declared a state of emergency after the attempted coup. The decrees that were passed down in this context have removed important human rights safeguards, according to the report "A Blank Check: Turkey's Post-Coup Suspension of Safeguards Against Torture."

HRW researchers have documented that the decrees negatively affected the rights of detainees. In the report, they detail 13 cases of alleged abuse, including sleep deprivation, severe beatings, sexual abuse, and rape threats.

'Nobody will care if I kill you'

One of the cases the report details was brought to the attention of HRW by the family of a detainee. They overheard a police officer talking to another prisoner.

"Because of the state of emergency, nobody will care if I kill you," the officer reportedly told the detainee. "I will just say I shot you while you tried to run away."


The lawyer of another prisoner told HRW that officers had threatened to rape his client with a baton, telling him that he wouldn't survive the next 30 days.

Under the emergency decrees, police can keep anyone incarcerated for 30 days without judicial review. Before the coup, the limit was four days. Detainees can also be denied access to a lawyer for up to five days. All these rules can be used to threaten those in jail, increase fear and keep family members in the dark.

Victims are afraid to talk

No one is able to contact and protect a detainee for five days. Even completely innocent Turks could be kept in jail for a month without the police having to prove anything. And with all the hate Erdogan is inciting against critical voices, prison is not a safe place, according to HRW.

"By removing safeguards against torture, the Turkish government effectively wrote a blank check to law enforcement agencies to torture and mistreat detainees as they like," Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said.

At the end of July, right after the coup, Amnesty International had also reported that detainees were abused in Turkish prisons. The organization was made aware of beatings, torture and rape. Andrew Gardner, one of the researchers who had worked on the report, said that many victims were afraid to talk and that most lawyers stayed away from taking on their cases.

"I've worked on the subject of human rights in Turkey for more than 10 years, and I've never seen this kind of fear," Gardner told DW at the time. "This great fear is present among people and in civil society organizations. Working on human rights in Turkey requires bravery, particularly for domestic human rights organizations, journalists and lawyers. If these brave people are that scared, it means this is serious."


Monday, November 28, 2016

Are European countries planning to censor media outlets they don't like?

    Monday, November 28, 2016   No comments
Underscoring the importance of media outlets, the EU parliament approved a non-legislative resolution aimed at countering what they called hostile state and non-state actors. The resolution ended up equating Russian media with ISIL's. The EU statement on this matter states:
Hostile propaganda against the EU and its member states seeks to distort the truth, provoke doubt, divide the EU and its North American partners, paralyse the decision-making process, discredit the EU institutions and incite fear and uncertainty among EU citizens, says the text.
This is alarming development when considering the many channels of propaganda and disinformation originate in Western countries. It raises the stakes. It proves the importance of media and media literacy in general. But given that some European countries acted to virtually shut down some Russian and Iranian media outlets, Russia Today and PressNews, thos who believe in the freedom of the press should be worried.
  

Below is the official EU statement:

_____________________________________________________________________
MEPs sound alarm on anti-EU propaganda from Russia and Islamist terrorist groups
www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/news-room/20161118IPR51718/meps-sound-alarm-on-anti-eu-propaganda-from-russia-and-islamist-terrorist-groups

Propaganda pressure on the EU from Russia and Islamist terrorist groups is growing, MEPs warn in a resolution voted on Wednesday. It seeks to distort the truth, incite fear, provoke doubt and divide the EU. To counteract anti-EU campaigns, MEPs suggest reinforcing the EU’s tiny “strategic communication” task force and investing more in awareness raising, education, online and local media, investigative journalism and information literacy.

“I was given the task of describing the propaganda of both state and non-state actors. We have seen many transformations of it. As regards the Russian Federation, the situation is now clear. After its annexation of Crimea and aggression in the eastern part of Ukraine, many countries are fully aware of its disinformation and manipulation“, said rapporteur Anna Fotyga (ECR, PL). “This report, in the course of its preparation, was also a target of hostile propaganda”, she added.

The resolution stresses that the EU needs to counter disinformation campaigns and propaganda from countries, such as Russia, and non-state actors, like Daesh, Al-Qaeda and other violent jihadi terrorist groups.

Hostile propaganda against the EU and its member states seeks to distort the truth, provoke doubt, divide the EU and its North American partners, paralyse the decision-making process, discredit the EU institutions and incite fear and uncertainty among EU citizens, says the text.

Russia seeks to divide

MEPs warn that the Kremlin has stepped up its propaganda against EU since annexing Crimea and waging hybrid war in the Donbass. They note that ”the Russian government is employing a wide range of tools and instruments, such as think tanks [...], multilingual TV stations (e.g. Russia Today), pseudo-news agencies and multimedia services (e.g. Sputnik) [...], social media and internet trolls, to challenge democratic values, divide Europe, gather domestic support and create the perception of failed states in the EU’s eastern neighbourhood”.

The resolution stresses that the “Kremlin is funding political parties and other organisations within the EU” and deplores “Russian backing of anti-EU forces” such as extreme-right parties and populist forces.

Daesh targets the EU



As the EU and its citizens are major targets of Daesh, MEPs call on EU member states to work more closely to protect society from its recruitment drives and enhance resilience against radicalisation. They also suggest developing a narrative to counter Daesh, “including through the empowerment and increased visibility of mainstream Muslim scholars who have the credibility to delegitimise Daesh propaganda.”



Information literacy

To counteract anti-EU campaigns, MEPs suggest investing in awareness raising, education, online and local media, investigative journalism and information literacy, which would empower citizens to analyse media content critically.  It is equally important to adapt communication to specific regions, including access to information in local languages, says the text.

The resolution also suggests deepening EU and NATO cooperation on strategic communication, reinforcing the EU’s 9-strong strategic communication task force and providing more support to boost media resilience in EU neighbourhood countries.

The resolution was approved by 304 votes to 179, with 208 abstentions.

Procedure:  Non-legislative resolution

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Qatar will continue to support terrorists in Syria with or without U.S.

    Sunday, November 27, 2016   No comments
Summary: Fearing that the U.S. under Trump might abandon Syrian rebels, Qatar, which is known to have close connections to terrorist groups like Fath al-Sham--formerly known as al-Nusra Front, reassured its proxies in Syria that Qatar will continue to support them with or without U.S.

The  News:
Qatar will continue to arm Syrian rebels even if Donald Trump ends U.S. backing for the multinational effort, Doha's foreign minister said in an interview, signalling its determination to pursue a policy the U.S. President-elect may abandon.
...
The minister hit out at Egypt, normally a close Gulf Arab ally, for appearing to side with Assad, and criticised Iran for what he said was interference in the affairs of Arab states.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, whose flagging economy has received billions of dollars from Gulf states, has supported Russia's decision to bomb in support of Assad.

"For us unfortunately Egypt is supporting the regime ... We hope that they come back and be with us," he said. Support for Assad was the same as supporting terrorism, he said, "because he is a terrorist and he is on equal footing with Daesh".

Sheikh Mohammed chided Western politicians for using anti-Muslim and anti-refugee rhetoric in election campaigns, saying it was against the values the West had long stood for.

"Unfortunately these narratives ... will cause problems for decades because in Europe and the United States, the Muslim community is part of the texture of their society ... It will help them maybe to win the election but it will last for decades, it will create a problem within their communities. source

Monday, November 21, 2016

Disturbing video out of Mosul, Iraq, raises concerns: charred bodies suggest use of illegal weapons or abuse of human dignity

    Monday, November 21, 2016   No comments
A video submitted to sites documenting human rights abuses shows burnt bodies of "hundreds of Daesh fighters", as suggested by the videographer, laying on top of the rubble. The charred bodies suggest that the dead were either burnt after they were killed or killed by some incendiary weapon. The video was not shown because of its graphic nature, but pictures, censored still, show the charred bodies. Since there are so many actors in this war theater, U.S., Kurdish fighters, Hashd fighters, Iraqi military, Turkish trained Sunni fighters, and Iraqi security forces, the UN is called upon to investigate.
In 2014, it was reported that ISIL burned the bodies of its dead foreign fighters in Syria, but no such claims emerged this time to suggest the same practice.

The graphic images are commonly associated with ISIL's practices who burned people alive. But ISIL's cruelty cannot be adopted by those who claim that they are repulsed by its practices, justifying their war of the terror group. All human beings, including ISIL fighters, need to be treated with dignity in life and death.





Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Transcript of Assad's interview with Portuguese RTP TV

    Wednesday, November 16, 2016   No comments
President Bashar al-Assad gave an interview to the Portuguese RTP TV channel. Following is the Full Video and Full Transcript of the interview.

Full Video-Interview in Damascus, 16 November 2016


Question 1: Mr. President, let’s start with Aleppo if you don’t mind. There are still thousands of civilians trapped, trying to survive in a sort of sub-human conditions in the middle of a deluge of bombs. Why do you think that they refused to get out?

President Assad: The part that you mention in Aleppo, what they call it the eastern part, is occupied by the terrorists for the last three years, and they have been using the civilians as human shields. From our side, from our part as government, we have two missions: the first one is to fight those terrorists to liberate that area and the civilians from those terrorists, and at the same time to try to find a solution to evacuate that area from those terrorists if they accept, let’s say, what you call it reconciliation option, in which they either give up their armaments for amnesty, or they leave that area. The other thing we did as government is to open gates for the civilians to leave that area, and at the same time for the humanitarian convoys and help to go through those gates inside that part of Aleppo, but the terrorists publicly refused any solution, so they wanted to keep the situation as it is.

Question 2: But Mr. President, aren’t you using the jihadists to discredit all the oppositions at the eyes of the national and international public opinion, and in the end to try to wipe them all out?

President Assad: No, we cannot do that for a very simple reason: because we’ve been dealing with this kind of terrorism since the fifties, since the Muslim Brotherhood came to Syria at that time, and we learned that lesson very well, especially in the eighties, that terrorists cannot be used as a political card, you cannot put it in your pocket, because it’s like a scorpion; it will bite you someday. So, we cannot use jihadists because it’s like shooting yourself in the foot. They’re going to be against you sooner or later. This is in a pragmatic way, but if you think as value, we wouldn’t do it. Using terrorism or jihadists or extremists for any political agenda is immoral.

Question 3: But Mr. President, the people, the civilians inside Aleppo, couldn’t we assume that they probably don’t trust the government, they don’t trust the army, that they just want democracy, dignity, freedom? Can you give that to them?

President Assad: Let’s talk about this point, regarding the reality; since the beginning of the crisis, since the terrorists started to control some areas within Syria, the majority of the Syrian civilians left that areas to join the government areas, not vice versa. If the majority of the Syrians don’t trust the government, they should go the other way.

Let me tell you another example, which is a starker example. You were in Daraya, al-Muadamiya, a few days ago, when you came here, and the terrorists and militants who left that area to Idleb in the northern part of Syria to join their fellow terrorists, they left their families under the supervision of the government, and you can go and visit them now, if you want.

Question 4: Mr. President, I’ve been here first four years ago, and now. Are you winning the war, this war in Syria?

President Assad: We can say, you can win the war only when you restore stability in Syria. You cannot talk about winning the war as long as there’s killing and destruction on daily basis. That doesn’t mean we are losing the war; the army is making good advancement on daily basis against the terrorists. Of course, they still have the support of Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and some Western countries including the United States, but the only option that we have in that regard is to win. If you don’t win and the terrorists win, Syria wouldn’t exist anymore.

Question 5: But would you have done that also without Hezbollah, Iran, and Russia?

President Assad: They are here because they could offer very essential and important help, because the situation that we are facing now is not only about a few terrorists from within Syria; it’s like international war against Syria. Those terrorists have been supported by tens of foreign countries, so Syria alone wouldn’t be able to face this kind of war without the help of its friends. That’s why their existence and their support was very essential.

Question 6: Isn’t Mr. Putin your most important ally?

President Assad: Russia is very important, Iran is very important, Hezbollah is very important. All of them are important. Each one made important achievements against the terrorists in Syria, so it’s difficult to say who is more important than the other.

Journalist: But what’s the role of Russia in Syria nowadays?

President Assad: The most important part of their support is the aerial support, which is very essential, they have very strong firepower, and at the same time they are the main supply of our army for more than sixty years, so our army depends on the Russian support in different military domains.

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Question 7: But are you free to decide the future of Syria, or are you dependent on Vladimir Putin’s strategies?

President Assad: No, first of all, we are fully free, not partially, fully free, in everything related to the future of Syria. Second, which is more important or as important as the first part or the first factor, that the Russians always base their policies on values, and these values are the sovereignty of other countries, the international law, respecting other people, other cultures, so they don’t interfere in whatever is related to the future of Syria or the Syrian people.

Question 8: But they have helped you quite a few times in the United Nations. They have vetoed a few resolutions condemning your government, and the Syrian Army. There are several reports regarding Syria for use of chemical weapons, human right abuses, war crimes. All of this in the framework of the United Nations.

President Assad: And many ask “what for?” I mean, what’s in return, what did they ask in return, that’s the question, actually, that’s the content of your question, because we heard it many times, whether in the media or directly. Actually, first of all, for their values, because in these values that I’m talking about, the value of international law, and they have their interest as well. I mean, fighting the terrorists in Syria is not only in the interest of Syria or the Syrian people; in the interest of the Middle East, of Europe itself – something that many officials in the West don’t see or don’t realize or don’t acknowledge – and in the interest of the Russian people, because they have been facing terrorists for decades now. So, the Russians are fighting for us, for the world, and for their self.

Question 9: But when you speak about values, democracy is a value.

President Assad: Of course.

Journalist: Freedom is a value.

President Assad: Of course.

Question 10: Can you say that Syria is a democracy, like the Western standards?

President Assad: The only one who can fight for these values like democracy and freedoms are the people of any country or any society, not the foreigners. Foreigners cannot bring freedom, cannot bring democracy, because this is related to the culture, to the different factors that affect or influence that society. You cannot bring it, you cannot import it. You cannot import anything from outside your country regarding the future of your country.

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Question 11: But would you define Syria as a democracy?

President Assad: No, we were on the way to democracy. We didn’t say that we are fully democratic, we were on the way, we were moving forward. Slowly or fast, that’s subjective, cannot be objective, that’s always subjective. But we’re moving forward in that regard, of course. But the criteria or the paradigm for us is not the West, not the Western paradigm, because the West has its own culture, we have our own culture, they have their own reality, we have our own reality. So, our democracy should reflect our culture and our habits and our customs and our reality at the same time.

Question 12: I’m sure that you know that there is a new Secretary-General of the United Nations. How do you look at him, Mr. Guterres, taking into the account his well-known humanitarian approach to the situation?

President Assad: Of course, I agree about the headline of this approach. I say “headline” because you always – under the headline, you have many sub-headlines or different titles. When you talk about humanitarian, it doesn’t only mean to offer the people the help, the food, their necessary needs for their life. The first thing, if you ask the Syrian refugees, for example, the first thing they want is to go back to their country. The first thing they want is to be able to live within Syria. That means help, humanitarian help, the way we understand it, food, medical care, any other, let’s say, basics for the daily life. The second one is to have stability and to have security, which means humanitarian equals fighting terrorists. You cannot talk about humanitarian aid and supporting the terrorists at the same time. You cannot, you have to choose. And of course, I’m not talking about him; I’m talking about the countries that go to support his plan, because he needs the support of other countries, he cannot achieve that plan while many countries in the world are still supporting the terrorists in Syria. So, of course we support it, whether helping the people to live, to go back to their country, and to live in security without terrorists.

Question 13: He said already that peace in Syria is a priority. Are you available to talk with him, to work with him, for that purpose?

President Assad: Definitely, of course. It’s his priority, and of course it’s our priority, that’s self-evident. It’s not only our priority; it’s a Middle Eastern priority, and when the Middle East is stable, the rest of the world is stable, because the Middle East is the heart of the world geographically and geopolitically, and Syria is the heart of the Middle East geographically and geopolitically. We are the fault line; if you don’t deal with this fault line, you’re going to have an earthquake, that’s what we always said. That’s why this priority is a hundred percent correct from our point of view, and we are ready to cooperate in any way to achieve stability in Syria, of course taking into consideration the interest of the country, and the will of the Syrian people.

Question 14: You said when we spoke that the United Nations are biased. You think with Mr. Guterres that can change a little bit?

President Assad: Everybody knows that the United Nations is not the Secretary-General; he has an important position, but the United Nations is the states within this organization, and to be frank, most of the people say only the five permanent members; this is the United Nations because they have the veto, they can do whatever they want and they can refuse whatever they want, and if there’s a reform that is very much needed for this organization, they can make veto or they can move forward in that regard. But at the same time, the way he presented himself as Secretary-General is very important. If you ask me “what do you expect from such a new official in that important position,” I would say I need two things: the first one is to be objective in every statement he could make regarding any conflict around the world, including Syria. The second one, which is related and complimentary with the first one, is not to turn his office into a part or branch of the State Department of the United States. That’s what we expect now. Of course, when he’s objective, he can play an important role in dealing with different officials in the United Nations in order to bring the policies of the different states – mainly Russia and the United States – toward more cooperation and more stability regarding Syria.

Question 15: But regarding Syria, there are a lot agendas: Qatar, Turkey, Russia, United States, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. How is it possible to try to find that peace process with so many agendas?

President Assad: Without bringing all those countries and the different factors in one direction, of course it’s going to be difficult. That’s why I always say the Syrian problem as isolated case, as Syrian case, is not very complicated. What makes it complicated is the interference from the outside, especially the Western interference because it’s against the will of the Syrian government, while the intervention of the Russians, Iranians, and Hezbollah is because of the invitation of the Syrian government. So, his role as Secretary-General in bringing all these powers together is very essential` and we hope he can succeed, it’s not easy of course.

Question 16: Let me pick out Turkey; their army is in your country, their President said last week that their interests lies beyond the natural borders; he referred to Mosul and Aleppo. Do you accept this?

President Assad: Of course not. You’re talking about sick person; he’s megalomaniac President, he is not stable. He lives during the Ottoman era, he doesn’t live in the current time. He’s out of touch with the reality.

Question 17: But how you are going to do with their army inside your country?

President Assad: It’s our right to defend it; it’s invasion. It’s our right to defend our country against any kind of invasion. But let’s be realistic, every terrorist came to Syria, he came through Turkey with the support of Erdogan. So, fighting those terrorists is like fighting the army of Erdogan, not the Turkish army, the army of Erdogan.

Question 18: But it’s a NATO country, are you aware of that?

President Assad: Yeah, of course. Whether it is a NATO country or not, it doesn’t have the right to invade any other country according to the international law or to any other moral value.

Question 19: Mr. President, America’s new elected President, what do you expect of Donald J. Trump?

President Assad: We don’t have a lot of expectations because the American administration is not only about the President; it’s about different powers within this administration, the different lobbies that they are going to influence any President. So, we have to wait and see when he embarks his new mission, let’s say, or position within this administration as President in two months’ time. But we always say we have wishful thinking that the Unites States would be unbiased, respect the international law, doesn’t interfere in other countries around the world, and of course to stop supporting terrorists in Syria.

Question 20: But he said in an interview that he seems to be ready to work with you in the fight against the Islamic State or ISIL, are you ready for such a move?

President Assad: Of course, I would say this is promising, but can he deliver? Can he go in that regard? What about the countervailing forces within the administration, the mainstream media that were against him? How can he deal with it? That’s why for us it’s still dubious whether he can do or live up to his promises or not. That’s why we are very cautious in judging him, especially as he wasn’t in a political position before. So, we cannot tell anything about what he’s going to do, but if, let’s say if he is going to fight the terrorists, of course we are going to be ally, natural ally in that regard with the Russian, with the Iranian, with many other countries who wanted to defeat the terrorists.

Question 21: So, you will cooperate with the Americans in the fight against terrorists?

President Assad: Of course, definitely, if they are genuine, if they have the will, and if they have the ability, of course we are the first ones to fight the terrorists because we suffered more than any other one in this world from terrorists.

Question 22: So, cooperate with the Americans that are now supporting the Kurds, the YPG that are trying to get into Raqqa?

President Assad: When you talk about cooperation, it means cooperation between two legal governments, not cooperation between foreign government and any faction within Syria. Any cooperation that doesn’t go through the Syrian government is not legal. If it’s not legal, we cannot cooperate with, and we don’t recognize and we don’t accept.

Question 23: Anyway, the Vice President, Mr. Pence, said that he has admitted the use of military force to prevent your military force from a humanitarian crisis in Aleppo, how do you look at it?

President Assad: This is against the international law again, and that’s the problem with the American position; they think that they are the police of the world. They think they are the judge of the world; they’re not. They are sovereign country, they are an independent country, but this is their limit; they don’t have to interfere in any other country. Because of this interference for the last fifty years, that’s why they are very good only in creating problems, not in solving problems. That’s the problem with the American role. That’s why I said we don’t pin a lot of hopes of changing administrations because that context has been going on for more than fifty years now, and that’s expected. If they want to continue in the same position of the United States creating problems around the world, that’s what they have to do: only interfering in the matters of other nations.

Question 24: But returning to what the President, the newly elected American President said about cooperating with your government in the fight against Islamic State, do you expect a change also within European countries?

President Assad: Regarding fighting terrorism, we are ready to cooperate with anyone in this world with no conditions. That’s crux of our policy, not today, not yesterday; for years, even before the war on Syria, we always said that. In the eighties, we asked for international coalition against terrorism after the Muslim Brotherhood crisis in Syria when they started killing, of course they were defeated at that time. We asked for the same thing. So, this is a long-term policy that we base our policy on for years now.

Question 25: One last question. Mr. President, I need really to ask you this, because after all these years, do you still reject any responsibility for what happened in your country?

President Assad: No, I never rejected any responsibility, but that depends on the decision. When you talk about responsibility, you ask yourself what are the decisions that you take in order to deal with the crisis. Did the President order anyone to kill civilians, did he order the destruction, did he order supporting terrorism in his country? Of course not. My decision was, and the decision of the different institutions, and the decision of the different officials in Syria – I’m on top of them – was to have dialogue, to fight terrorists, and to reform as a response at the very beginning, response to the allegations, let’s say, at that time, that they needed reform in Syria, we responded. So, that’s the decision that I took. Would you say, or would anyone say that fighting terrorism is wrong? Making dialogue is wrong? Making reform is wrong? Protecting the civilians and liberating areas from terrorists is wrong? Of course not. So, there’s a difference between responsibility of the policy and responsibility of the practice. In any practice, you have malpractice, that’s another issue. When you talk about state and President, you always talk about the decisions and the policy.

Journalist: Thank you for being with RTP Mr. President.

President Assad: Thanks for you.



Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Why Everything You Hear About Aleppo Is Wrong

    Tuesday, November 01, 2016   No comments
Armed groups attacking Western Aleppo
What's really going on in Aleppo? Are Assad and Putin exterminating the population for sport? Is it a war against US-backed "moderates"? That is what the mainstream media would have us believe. We speak with Vanessa Beeley, a journalist who just returned from Aleppo for the real story.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

UN envoy Mistura 'appalled' by rebel attacks on civilians in government controlled Aleppo

    Sunday, October 30, 2016   No comments

The UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, says he is "appalled and shocked" that rebels in Aleppo are targeting civilians in the city.

The "relentless and indiscriminate" rocket attacks had killed scores of civilians in western Aleppo in the past 48 hours, Mr de Mistura said.

Such attacks could amount to war crimes, he said.

On Friday, rebels began an offensive aimed at breaking the government siege of east Aleppo.

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On Sunday, state media in Syria said rebels had used chemical weapons against government-controlled districts of Aleppo.
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More than 40 civilians are reported to have been killed in western Aleppo since the rebel attacks began, activists say.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 16 were children. It added that 55 soldiers had also died - as well as 64 rebels. source

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Armed groups released tens of videos documenting their attacks on the Western side of the city. They used both makeshift homemade weapons they call "hell cannons" and imported weapons likely provided by the U.S. and its allies.









Saturday, October 29, 2016

Erdogan wants Mosul, Kirkuk, and Aleppo to be part of Turkey, destroying Kurdish aspirations for independent homeland

    Saturday, October 29, 2016   No comments
Turkey's new pap as revealed by the 1920 Ottoman plan.
ISR comment: Turkish president claims that his country has no intention to grab land from its neighbors, yet his actions indicate otherwise as his troops move into Syrian and Iraqi territories. Erdogan uses Turkish nationalism, claiming that he will defend Turkmen brothern, and sectarianism, claiming that he will defend Sunni brotherrn, when in reality he wants to expand Turkey's control over lands eight with natural resources: water, oil, and natural gas.

In Mosul “a history lies for us. If the gentlemen desire so, let them read the Misak-i Milli (National Oath) and understand what the place means to us,” Erdogan declared.

 Erdogan was referring to an Ottoman Parliament-sealed 1920 pact that designated Kirkuk and Mosul as parts of Turkey.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Is Erdoğan creating a powerful presidential system that will be used against him and his party?

    Sunday, October 23, 2016   No comments
ISR comment:  The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, may get his wish and transform the Turkish parliamentarian governing system into a presidential system. His campaign to do so was not motivated by the virtues of the presidential system more than by personal ambitions. He has been the most powerful and consequential president since the founding years of the republic. He has been acting as the executive president without the constitutional authority already. His problem is that, there is a good chance that he may never serve as the first legitimate executive president. In fact, it is possible that an opponent could be elected under and amended constitution, not Erdoğan, and with the consolidated power Erdoğan has built for himself, the new president could end up throwing Erdoğan in prison for many of the unconstitutional and illegal acts he carried inside and outside Turkey. That would be an example of the Islamic proverb: whoever digs a trap-hole for his brother is bound to fall in it himself.
Erdoğan has made many fatal mistakes in the past five years and he is making even more in recent months. He created enemies out of old friends and and never reconciled with old enemies. He is fighting with the U.S. against ISIL, but fighting with ISIL against Iraqi government. He is with the U.S. in its campaign to overthrow Assad but against it in its support for the Syrian Kurds. He made friends with Russian president, Putin, but he continued to antagonize Russia's allies, Iran and Iraq. His is friends with Iraqi Kurds, but considers Turkish Kurdis terrorists. His circle of friends is shrinking and his front of enemies is swelling. All these foreign affairs problems are putting the Turkish economy under extreme stress. His party was accepted by Turkish voters because of the prosperity and peace it brought them. If peace and prosperity are threatened, Turkish voters will vote him and his party out. But he and his party would leave behind a very powerful presidential institution, should it fall in the hands of his adversaries, his legacy would be reduced to a catalog of failures. Strangely, Erdoğan could be creating his dream job for someone else.
 

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The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has finalized preparations for a draft of a constitutional amendment, which will change the country’s parliamentary system to an executive presidency, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said on Oct. 23.
“We have finalized our work on both the new constitution and on the presidential [system]. We have made sufficient discussions both in parliament and by the public. We’ll bring our proposal to parliament as soon as possible,” Yıldırım said addressing the deputies in his closing speech at the AKP camp.

The government will go to a popular referendum on whether the parliament should adopt new charter draft with 367 votes or agrees to go for public opinion on 330 votes, he said.

So that Turkey will end “system debate and use its energy for its future,” Yıldırım said.

...
After the consultation camp in Afyon, the charter will be introduced to two of the opposition parties in parliament, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), as the AKP has refused to work with the third largest party in parliament, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

After the bilateral discussions with the two opposition parties, AKP will submit the draft to parliament. The AKP officials have indicated that the party anticipates a referendum on the draft in April following an approval in parliament set to be done in January.

The draft will include 12 to 15 articles outlining the presidential model that the party will present to the public.

Constitutional change, in particular, the call for a presidential system, has been on the political agenda since President Erdoğan, the former prime minister, was elected as Turkey’s president in August 2014.

The 2014 election was the first time a Turkish president, whose role is officially defined as symbolic, was directly chosen by popular vote.

The discussion on the presidential system was revived after Bahçeli suggested going to a referendum, to let the people decide if Turkey should change its administrative model.

Changing to a presidential system is opposed by Turkey’s two other parliamentary parties, CHP and HDP, and the AKP lacks the super-majority in parliament needed to make the change without submitting it to a referendum.

The AKP, with 316 seats in parliament, needs the support of the 40-seat MHP to take any constitutional amendment to a referendum. source

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Full text of Syrian President's interview with Swiss TV journalist

    Thursday, October 20, 2016   No comments
Journalist: Mr. President, thank you very much for having welcomed Swiss Television and our program Rundschau here in Damascus.

President Assad: You are most welcome in Syria.

Question 1: First, please, allow me to clarify one thing: may I ask you every question?

President Assad: Every question, without exception.

Question 2: I’m asking because one of your conditions is that interview is being broadcast in its full version. Are you afraid that we might manipulate your statements?

President Assad: You should answer that question, but I think we should build this relation upon the trust, and I think you are worried about the trust of your audience, so I don’t think so. I think you have good reputation in conveying the truth in every subject you try to cover.

Question 3: Do you see it as a lie, that the world considers you as to be a war criminal?

President Assad: That depends on what the reference in defining that word. Is it the international law, or is it the Western agenda or the Western political mood, let’s say, that’s being defined by vested-interests politicians in the West? According to the international law, as a President and as government and as Syrian Army, we are defending our country against the terrorists that have been invading Syria as proxies to other countries. So, if you want to go back to that word, the “war criminal,” I think the first one who should be tried under that title are the Western officials; starting with George Bush who invaded Iraq without any mandate from the Security Council. Second, Cameron and Sarkozy who invaded and destroyed Libya without mandate from the Security Council. Third, the Western officials who are supporting the terrorists during the last five years in Syria, either by providing them with political umbrella, or supporting them directly with armaments, or implementing embargo on the Syrian people that has led to the killing of thousands of Syrian civilians.

Question 4: But we are here to talk about your role in this war, and the US

Secretary of State John Kerry called you “Adolf Hitler” and “Saddam Hussein” in the same breath. Does it bother you?

President Assad: No, because they don’t have credibility. This is first of all. Second, for me as President, what I care about first and foremost is how the Syrian people look at me; second, my friends around the world – not my personal friends as President, I mean our friends as Syrians, like Russia, like Iran, like China, like the rest of the world – not the West, the West always tried to personalize things, just to cover the real goals which is about deposing government and getting rid of a certain president just to bring puppets to suit their agenda. So, going back to the beginning, no I don’t care about what Kerry said, at all. It has no influence on me.

Question 5: You’re the President of a country whose citizens are fleeing, half of your fellow citizens. The people are not only fleeing because of the terrorists, of ISIS, or the rebels, but also because of you.

President Assad: What do you mean by me? I’m not asking people to leave Syria, I’m not attacking people; I’m defending the people. Actually, the people are leaving Syria for two reasons: first reason is the action of the terrorists, direct action in killing the people. The second one is the action of the terrorists in order to paralyze the life in Syria; attacking schools, destroying infrastructure in every sector. Third, the embargo of the West that pressed many Syrians to find their livelihood outside Syria. These are the main reasons. If you can see that the second factor and the third factor are related, I mean the role of the terrorists and the West in undermining and hurting the livelihoods of the Syrians, is one and, let’s say, is commonality between the terrorists and Europe.

Question 6: When you speak of terrorists, who do you mean by that? Surely ISIS, but also the “Free Syrian Army” or the Kurds?

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President Assad: What I mean is like what you mean as a Swiss citizen, if you have anyone who carries machineguns or armaments and killing people under any titles, and committed vandalism, destroying public or private properties; this is a terrorist. Anyone who adopts a political way in order to make any change he wants, this is not a terrorist. You can call him opposition. But you cannot call somebody who is killing people or holding armaments, you cannot call him opposition, in your country, in my country as well.

Question 7: Well, you don’t have any free opposition in your country.

President Assad: Of course we have, of course we have. We have real opposition, we have people who live in Syria, whom their grassroots are the Syrian people, they’re not opposition who were forged in other countries like France or UK or Saudi Arabia or Turkey. We have them, and you can go and meet them and deal with them with your camera. You can do that yourself.

Question 8: How do you explain to your three children what is happening in

Aleppo? I’m sure that you are discussing about it at the family table.

President Assad: Yeah, of course if I’m going to explain to them, I’m going to explain about what is happening in Syria, not only in Aleppo, taking into consideration that my children are full-grown now, they understand what is going on Syria. But if you want to explain to them or to any other child what is happening, I’m going to explain about the role of the terrorists, about the role of Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia in supporting those terrorists with money, with logistic support, and the role of the West in supporting those terrorists either through armament or through helping them with the propaganda and the publicity. I’m going to explain to them in full what’s going on.

Question 9: Do you, as a father, also say that you have nothing to do with the bombardments of the hospitals in Aleppo?

President Assad: Look, when they say that we are bombarding the hospitals, it means that we are killing civilians. That is the meaning of the word. The question is why would the government kill civilians, whether in hospitals or in streets or schools or anywhere? You are talking about killing Syrians. When we kill Syrians, as a government, or as army, the biggest part of the Syrian society will be against us. You cannot succeed in your war if you are killing civilians. So, this story, and this narrative, is a mendacious narrative, to be frank with you. Of course, unfortunately, every war is a bad war, in every war you have innocent victims, whether children, women, elderly, any other civilian, any other innocent who is not part of this war, he could pay the price, this is unfortunately. That’s why we have to fight terrorism. When we don’t say that, it’s like saying – according to that question or that narrative, that you may reflect in your question – that the terrorists, Al Qaeda, al-Nusra, ISIS, are protecting the civilians, and we as government are killing the civilians. Who can believe that story? No one.

Question 10: But who else got airplanes or bunker-busting bombs besides your army?

President Assad: It’s like you’re saying that everyone who is killed in Syria was killed by the airplanes or aircrafts, military aircrafts! The majority of the people were killed by mortars shelled by the terrorists on them while they’re at schools, in their hospitals, in the streets, anywhere. It’s not related to the aerial bombardment. Sometimes you have aerial bombardment against the terrorists, but that doesn’t mean that every bomb that fell somewhere was by airplane or by the Syrian Army. If you are talking about a specific incident, let’s say, we have to verify that specific incident, but I’m answering you in general now.

Question 11: But you have the power to change the situation also for the children in Aleppo.

President Assad: Of course, that’s why-

Journalist: Will you do that?

President Assad: Exactly, that’s our mission, according to the constitution, according to the law; that we have to protect the people, that we have to get rid of those terrorists from Aleppo. This is where we can protect the civilians. How can you protect them while they are under the control of the terrorists? They’ve been killed by them, and they’ve been controlled fully by the terrorists. Is it our role to sit aside and watch? Is that how we can protect the Syrian people? We need to attack the terrorists, that’s self-evident.

Question 12: May I show you a picture?

President Assad: Of course.

Journalist: This young boy has become the symbol of the war. I think that you know this picture.

President Assad: Of course I saw it.

Journalist: His name is Omran. Five years old.

President Assad: Yeah.

Journalist: Covered with blood, scared, traumatized. Is there anything you would like to say to Omran and his family?

President Assad: There’s something I would like to say to you first of all, because I want you to go back after my interview, and go to the internet to see the same picture of the same child, with his sister, both were rescued by what they call them in the West “White Helmets” which is a facelift of al-Nusra in Aleppo. They were rescued twice, each one in a different incident, and just as part of the publicity of those White Helmets. None of these incidents were true. You can have it manipulated, and it is manipulated. I’m going to send you those two pictures, and they are on the internet, just to see that this is a forged picture, not a real one. We have real pictures of children being harmed, but this one in specific is a forged one.

Question 13: But it’s true that innocent civilians are dying, in Aleppo.

President Assad: Of course, not only in Aleppo; in Syria. But now you are talking about Aleppo, because the whole hysteria in the West about Aleppo, for one reason; not because Aleppo is under siege, because Aleppo has been under siege for the last four years by the terrorists, and we haven’t heard a question by Western journalists about what’s happening in

Aleppo that time, and we haven’t heard a single statement by Western officials regarding the children of Aleppo. Now, they are talking about Aleppo recently just because the terrorists are in a bad shape. This is the only reason, because the Syrian Army are making advancement, and the Western countries – mainly the United States and its allies like UK and France – feeling that they are losing the last cards of terrorism in Syria, and the main bastion of that terrorism today is Aleppo.

Question 14: Everything is allowed in this war for you.

President Assad: No, of course, you have the international law, you have the human rights charter, you have to obey. But in every war, every war in the world during the history, you cannot make sure a hundred percent that you can control everything in that direction. You always have flaws, that’s why I said every war is a bad war. But there’s difference between individual mistakes and the policy of the government. The policy of the government, to say that we are attacking civilians, we are attacking hospitals, we are attacking schools, we are doing all these atrocities, that’s not possible, because you cannot work or go against your interests. You cannot go against your duty toward the people, otherwise you are going to lose the war as a government. You cannot withstand such a ferocious war for five years and a half while you are killing your own people. That’s impossible. But you always have mistakes, whether it’s about crossfire, it’s about individual mistakes… bring me a war, a single war in the recent history, that it was a clean war. You don’t have.

Question 15: Do you have made any mistakes too in this war?

President Assad: As President I define the policy of the country, according to our policy, the main pillars of this policy during the crisis is to fight terrorism, which I think is correct and we will not going to change it, of course, to make dialogue between the Syrians, and I think which is correct, the third one which is proven to be effective during the last two years is the reconciliations; local reconciliations with the militants who have been holding machineguns against the people and against the government and against the army, and this one has, again, proven that it’s a good step. So, these are the pillars of this policy. You cannot talk about mistakes in this policy. You can talk about mistakes in the implementation of the policy, that could be related to the individuals.

Question 16: You still believe in a diplomatic solution?

President Assad: Definitely, but you don’t have something called diplomatic solution or military solution; you have solution, but every conflict has many aspects, one of them is the security, like our situation, and the other one is in the political aspect of this solution. For example, if you ask me about how can you deal with Al Qaeda, with al-Nusra, with ISIS? Is it possible to make negotiations with them? They won’t make, they’re not ready to, they wouldn’t. They have their own ideology, repugnant ideology, so you cannot make political solution with this party; you have to fight them, you have to get rid of them. While if you talk about dialogue, you can make dialogue with two entities; the first one, political entities, any political entities, whether with or against or in the middle, and with every militant who is ready to give in his armament for the sake of the security or stability in Syria. Of course we believe in it.

Question 17: There are news from Russia about a short humanitarian pause in Aleppo on Thursday, what does it mean this humanitarian pause, can you explain?

President Assad: It’s a short halting of operations in order to allow the humanitarian supply to get into different areas in Aleppo, and at the same time to allow the civilians who wanted to leave the terrorist-held areas to move to the government-controlled area.

Question 18: This is really a step, an important step?

President Assad: Of course, it is an important step as a beginning, but it’s not enough. It’s about the continuation; how can you allow those civilians to leave. The majority of them wanted to leave the area held by the terrorists, but they won’t allow them. They either shoot them or they kill their families if they leave that area.

Question 19: Russia is on your side, what does it mean for you?

President Assad: No, it’s not on my side. It’s on the international law’s side.

It’s on the other side which is opposite to the terrorists’ side. This is the position of Russia, because they wanted to make sure that the international law prevails, not the Western agenda in toppling every government that doesn’t fit with their agendas. They wanted to make sure that the terrorism doesn’t prevail in that area, that would affect negatively the Russians themselves, Russia itself as a country, and Europe and the rest of the world. That’s what it means for Russia to stand beside the legitimate Syrian government and the Syrian people.

Question 20: Mr. President, you use chemical weapons and barrel bombs in Syria against your own population, these are UN reports, you can’t ignore it.

President Assad: You are talking about two different issues. The chemical issue, it was proven to be false, and they haven’t a shred of evidence about the Syrian Army using chemical weapons, particularly before we give up our arsenal in 2013, now we don’t have it anyway. Before that, it was fiction because if you want to use such mass destruction armaments, you’re going to kill thousands of people in one incident, and we didn’t have such incidents. Beside that, we wouldn’t use it because you’re going to kill your own people, and that’s against your interest. So, this is a false allegation. We don’t have to waste our time with it. You live in Syria, there is a traditional war, but there is nothing related to mass destruction armaments.

Journalist: But the UN report is not a fiction.

President Assad: The UN report never has been credible, never, and because they put reports based on allegations, based on other reports, on forged reports, and they say this is a report. Did they send a delegation to make investigation? They sent one in 2013, and it couldn’t prove at all that the Syrian Army used chemical weapons. This is first. The second, which is more important, the first incident happened at the beginning of 2013 in

Aleppo, when we said that the terrorists used chemical weapons against our army, and we invited the United Nations to send a delegation. We, we did, and at that time, the United States opposed that delegation because they already knew that this investigation – of course if it’s impartial – is going to prove that those terrorists, their proxies, used chemical armaments against the Syrian Army. Regarding the barrel bombs, I want to ask you: what is the definition of barrel bomb? If you go to our army, you don’t have in our records something called “barrel bomb,” so how do you understand – just to know how I can answer you – what a barrel bomb is? We have bombs.

Journalist: The destruction… it’s the destruction, and it is against humanitarian law.

President Assad: Every bomb can make destruction, every bomb, so you don’t have bomb to make nothing. So, this is a word that has been used in West as part of the Western narrative in order to show that there is an indiscriminate bomb that has been killing civilians indiscriminately and that opposes the Western narrative, I’ll show you the contradiction: in other areas they say that we are bombarding intentionally the hospitals, and you mentioned that, and they are targeting intentionally the schools, and we targeted intentionally the convoys to Aleppo last month, those targets need high-precision missiles. So, they have to choose which part of the narrative; we either have indiscriminate bombs or we have high-precision bombs. They keep contradicting in the same narrative, this is the Western reality now. So, which one to choose? I can answer you, but again, we don’t have any indiscriminate bombs. If we kill people indiscriminately, it means we are losing the war because people will be against us; I cannot kill the Syrian people, either morally or for my interest, because in that case I’m going to push the Syrian community and society towards the terrorists, not vice versa.

Question 21: I would like to mention the subject of torture prisons, Mr. President. Amnesty speaks of seventeen thousands dead. Regarding the prison of Saidnaya, there are still horrible reports. When will you allow an independent observer into that prison?

President Assad: Independent, and Amnesty International is not independent and it is not impartial.

Journalist: ICRC?

President Assad: We didn’t discuss it with the Red Cross, we didn’t discuss it. It should be discussed in our institutions, if you want to allow… if there is allegation, it could be discussed. We don’t say yes or no, but the report you have mentioned, it was a report made by Qatar, and financed by Qatar. You don’t know the source, you don’t know the names of those victims, nothing verified about that report. It was paid by Qatar directly in order to vilify and smear the Syrian government and the Syrian Army.

Journalist: But there are a lot of eyewitnesses.

President Assad: No one knows who are they. You don’t have anything clear about that. It’s not verified. So, no.

Journalist: Then open the door for organizations like Red Cross.

President Assad: It’s not my decision to tell you yes or no. We have institutions, if we need to discuss this part, we need to go back to the institutions before saying yes or no.

Question 22: Why are you sure that you are going to win this war?

President Assad: Because you have to defend your country, and you have to believe that you can win the war to defend your country. If you don’t have that belief, you will lose. You know, part of the war is what you believe in, so, it’s self-evident and very intuitive that you have to have that belief.

Question 23: If you walk through Damascus, your picture is everywhere, in every shop, in every restaurant, in every car, a symbol for a dictator, is this your way to fix your power?

President Assad: There is a difference between dictator and dictatorship.

Dictator is about the person. I didn’t ask anyone to put my picture in Syria, I never did it. This is first. Second, to describe someone as a dictator, you should ask his people, I mean only his people can say that he is a dictator or he is a good guy.

Journalist: Thank you Mr. President for having answered our questions for Swiss Television and the Rundschau.

President Assad: Thank you for coming to Syria.

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Interview as released by the Syrian government:



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Interview as released by the Swiss TV:




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