Wednesday, November 15, 2017
November 14, 2017 there was a very huge rally in Yemen against deadly Saudi bombings and blockade of Yemeni ports. This aggression by Saudi Arabia with Western weapons to silence Yemeni revolutionaries began nearly 3 years ago.
Yemen has been devastated by Saudi Arabia, Barack Obama and Donald Trump through needless aggression these murderers are too embarrassed to explain even to themselves. Most parts of the country are flattened with bombs supplied to the Kingdom by the US and Britain. Over 20,000 are dead and thrice as many severely injured or maimed. Yemen in on the brink of famine. At least 12 million are starving, malnourished, no potable water, and the largest outbreak of cholera ever in world history. Five thousand cases of cholera are reported each day. The ones suffering most are the children and elderly. Yemen's hospitals (whatever is left of them after nearly 3 years of relentless bombing) are overwhelmed with acute shortage of beds. Children are often put on matresses which too they need to share. With very little food and medicines and thousands of sick children, it's been heart-rending for families to choose which child to save. Saudi blockade of Yemeni ports preventing the flow of humanitarian aid has made matters infinitely worse. While the Yemeni people are dying like insects, the Western world isn't even aware that their governments are playing the horrifying accomplices in this senseless and prolonged mass murder.
Deliberately destroying Yemen's infrastructure, the Saudi government barks shamelessly over occasional missiles landing in Riyadh from Yemen as response. On November 13 the Political Council of Yemen announced that missiles and rockets landing in Riyadh are "normal and legitimate positions in the light of the aggression against Yemeni people." Yemenis have vowed never to surrender to the cowardly Kingdom.
After the Zionist occupation of Palestine, all copy-cat tyrants around the world have created their own 'palestines' - Saudi Arabia in Yemen, India in Kashmir, Burma in Cox's Bazar .. and many more similar tyranny against the weak by the strong, against the marginalized by the privileged. Once an evil practice is accepted or permitted anywhere in the world, it's only a matter of time for dozens more to sprout across the planet. Evil is the most irresistible temptation for the human heart.
Yemen hospital images at IBTimes
Monday, October 30, 2017
ISIL fled the area on Oct. 27, two days before SDF took over, after persistent bombing by Syrian, Russian warplanes. The entire place is replete with IEDs and mines planted by ISIL. While the Syrian forces did the hard work of chasing away terrorists, the SDF proxies sneaked in from the other side of the Euphrates and took hold of the oil reserves.
Image source: South Front
The Syrian Army and Hezbollah are pit against the SDF but both forces have been carrying out simultaneous operations in Deir Ezzor to defeat ISIL and gain control of al-Omar oil field. Though pro-government forces have not yet confirmed the take over of the oil field by SDF (US), the illegal ownership of Syria's largest oil reserve has passed over from ISIL to SDF, consistently with US backing for both groups. Located on the shore of the Euphrates that cross-cuts the province of Deir Ezzor, Omar oil field had been the Syrian government's largest source of revenue before the war.
Presently Bashar al-Assad controls roughly 70% of Syria. But US backed SDF now controls Syria's largest oil fields, gas fields, power plants/stations and fertile farmlands. The scenario provides a tremendous boost to the political status of the Kurds on international stage, leapfrogging the SNC. Omar oil field reportedly produces nearly 10,000 barrels of oil per day. Syrian Kurds will enjoy a huge revenue and will likely expand their federation connecting the autonomous cantons of Afrin and Kobani in "Rojova" to Raqqa and Deir Ezzor. Another thundering American show! AlQaeda has never won a single battle without intense US support. Similarly SDF would achieve next to nothing if they hadn't opted to gang up with the US coalition.
The prime goal of invading Syria six years ago was to dismantle the Resistance at Israel's behest. Additionally the Americans saw it as an excellent opportunity to carry out some heists as a bonus for themselves.
According to NYT referring to SDF militias, "The Trump administration does not appear to have a plan to reconstruct the areas or defend them for long after the battle against Islamic State ends. Without United States air support for the rebels, the Syrian government is likely to retake the territory." Understandably, it's extremely unlikely that Damascus will sit twiddling its thumbs while a major source of the country's wealth passes into the hands of a secessionist entity. Whatever action Damascus may decide to take would definitely lead to direct clashes between pro-government forces and SDF. NYT conveniently overlooks the unmissable. No US administration has its own plans; it is given the plans it's instructed to carry out. The US will make history this time if it quits supporting its militias in a region so rich in energy resources.
With ISIL out of the picture, will Russia hang on to this war and help Syria fight the SDF? That may depend on the kind of deal the Russians negotiate with the Americans on Moscow's share of the cake.
Even if the Kurds retain northern Syria, they will continue to require US support. To utilize the oil reserves of Deir Ezzor, they will need access to the Mediterranean coast via Turkey, a project that would be impossible to materialize considering Turkey's hyper sensitivity to any gestures of Kurdish autonomy, unless Washington stands resolutely by the Kurds and exerts pressure on Ankara.
It's widely assumed that taking over of Syria's largest oil field is a retaliatory step to the Iraqi army's retaking of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk from KRG following the referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan. If true (and it likely is), it further diminishes any chances of returning Omar oil field to the Syrian government. Thereby, Haider Abadi's gain turned out to be Bashar Assad's loss.
Saturday, October 28, 2017
Returning al-Tabiya plant to Syrian Army by SDF is no U.S. "endgame" in Syria.
Al-Tabiya plant was Syria's largest state-run gas field in Deir Ezzor with the capacity to produce 13 million cubic meters of natural gas per day. It was under ISIL control for 3 years and taken over by US-backed Kurdish SDF a few days ago. Surprisingly SDF agreed to hand it over to the Syrian army. According to several consistent reports, handover of al-Tabiya plant was based on lowkey negotiation between SDF and Russia. Involvement of Russia concerning Syria's energy resource-assets automatically implies involvement of US as well.
Quoting ZeroHedge "If indeed the Kurds are cutting separate deals with Russia, a US exit from Syria could be forced sooner rather than later" .... but never without a gigantic piece of the pie.
Observers are quick to presume that the seemingly silent understanding between the Kremlin and Washington on usurping Syria's wealth might be modified in Syria's favor. It's only a speculation at this point. To surmise gleefully that "US policy is paralyzed in Syria and Iraq" would be outright fantasy. Time will tell where this story is heading. Regardless of US coalition spokesman Col. Ryan Dillon's deceitful statement to Reuters that they aren't in "the land-grabbing business," the most important facet of this episode remains unchanged that neither Russia nor America will offer any goodwill-freebies to Syria without their own large-scale monetary interest as top priority. If the sole objective of the WH was to defeat ISIL, US forces should have started dismantling their one dozen illegally operating bases in northern Syria. No indications of that; and SDF's generosity toward the Syrian government is still far from enough. After all, SDF is another US-proxy and they are still holding large swathes of Syrian energy reserves in the north. Neither is it a coincidence that nearly all of those US bases are located in Kurdish controlled oil/gas regions of northern Syria. How convenient that makes the task of sharing ill-gotten gains between friends!
Despite SDF having little authority to act independently, especially on matters of Syria's natural resources, Syrian Free Press mentions that Syrian officials are pretty much convinced that at the end of the day Damascus has a much bigger spot within Kurdish hearts than Washington. Pragmatism tells us not to bet on that yet. However SDF's real test of loyalty will depend on how they handle al-Omar oil field, the biggest oil producing site in Syria located in Deir Ezzor with an output of nearly 3 billion barrels of oil! What's happening at present is a struggle between Syrian Army/Hezbollah and US-proxy SDF for maximum control of Syrian natural resources. The US helped ISIL to occupy Deir Ezzor in January 2014 hoping to some day share the wealth with the terrorist group. That somehow didn't materialize as planned. Now they are assisting SDF with the same motive. SAA and Hezbollah are trying their best to secure al-Omar prior to SDF, and the US is doing all it can to ensure that does not happen.
Furthermore, there will eventually be more claimants to share the various goodies than just SDF and US. As soon as the possibility of reconstruction arose, the two persons most hated by the Syrians - US special envoy McGurk and Saudi minister Saban - pounced onto Raqqa. Saudi Minister of State for Gulf Affairs, Samer Saban, is infamous for his sectarian bias. He's the same man whom the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs demanded to be kicked out of Baghdad as ambassador last year for making statements "beyond the bounds of diplomatic protocol." He's the same madman who called Hezbollah the "party of satan" and he should not be anywhere close to Syria. Yet they're all walking into Syrian territory like their grandma's cottage.
Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Groundwork for this madness was laid in August 2 this year when the bozo POTUS signed CAATSA into law.
CAATSA = 'Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.'
The IRGC is Iran’s most powerful security institution with plenty of influence on the country's political and economic system as well as the responsibility for preserving the principles of the homegrown revolution. IRGC has played a major role battling terrorists in Syria and Iraq and has been instrumental in achieving many victories. Trump hasn't yet announced whether or not he will sign this ludicrous bill, but it will be close to a miracle if he doesn't. The deadline is October 15. He is expected to decertify JCPOA and specifically target IRGC and Hezbollah with sanctions. The core idea is to weaken Iranian and Hezbollah forces in Syria and consequently put the Syrian army in a tougher situation. Blacklisting IRGC would be the start of another lengthy era of US-Alqaeda cooperation with new buccaneering titles showered on the terror network's sub-groups.
This was one of the reasons for King Salman al-Saud's recent visit to Moscow. The economic agenda was to invest in Russian economy and construction, and the King's most important political agenda was to persuade Vladimir Putin to pressure Iran out of Syria and stop backing Ansarullah in Yemen; to work closely with Moscow to unite the Syrian opposition and expand its foundation. Trade deals worth $3 billion were signed within three days. It remains to be seen how far the Russian leader goes to appease the Kingdom over its various political fixations. Considering Putin's ancient precept of helping a 'useful friend' and hugging its arch enemy with greater compassion may not leave us guessing for too long.
Iran's response to this law, if implemented, is already plain and firm. It won't return to the negotiating table to bargain over regional issues and will treat US troops like Daesh (something that needs to be done by all countries regardless of CAATSA). Quoting the statement of IRGC chief commander, Mohammed Ali Jaafri "The Islamic Republic of Iran intends to solve the regional issues somewhere else other than the negotiating table; (the US should know that) there is (absolutely) nothing and no one to negotiate about or with." Large swathes of the Persian Gulf identify as Iranian waters where sea traffic is monitored and controlled by Iran. Weapons systems of IRGC Navy have far-reaching capabilities, already demonstrated in numerous wargames. IRGC chief asserted that if CAATSA takes effect, US must get out of the Persian Gulf and stay at least 2,000km away from Iran.
Iran is preparing what any nation would prepare in similar circumstances. Writes Veterans Today: "Under international law every country is entitled to defend itself from superior military threats."
Saturday, September 30, 2017
Iraqi Kurds overwhelmingly backed independence on September 25, 2017 defying neighboring countries that were on tenterhooks. As long as a referendum hasn't been manipulated by foreign powers or the local establishment, it must be viewed as the wishes of the indigenous majority. The recent Kurdish referendum wasn't gerrymandered and yet showed a yearning for independence with 92% in favor of seceding. Out of 3 million valid ballots, 2.9 million voted 'yes' and the naysayers only 224,464.
An old Kurdish man walks in the old city of Erbil, Iraq September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah
Iraq's real concern is the northern city of Kirkuk with its massive oil wealth. Oil reserves worth 10 million barrels lie around Kirkuk. That would be over 40% of Iraq's oil and 6% of the world's. Although Kirkuk is located slightly outside the Kurdish region, according to the Iraqi census of 1957, 1977 and 1997 Kurds were the biggest ethnic group in Kirkuk until Saddam Hussain began to displace them. That didn't stop the Kurds from having a historical claim on Kirkuk. According to Jalal Talabani, Kirkuk is the same to the Kurds as Jerusalem is to the Palestinians. Will the future of Kirkuk be decided by a "Kirxit?" That would be the peaceful way and Baghdad’s only strategy to control Kirkuk is through negotiation .... or fighting. Baghdad has already threatened to send troops to Kirkuk. Bad idea! The Muslim world does NOT need any more infighting. Kurds are convinced that an independent Kurdistan will greatly help to improve ties between the Kurds and all its neighbors. Kurdish leaders have confirmed they intend to negotiate peacefully with Baghdad.The United States, despite its alliance with the Kurds, refused to offer support to the Kurds for this referendum. As usual, US never respects the peoples' will if that threatens the disruption of traditional business dealings involving oil. It also debunks the version that Kurdish referendum in Iraq was planned by US and Israel. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, has categorically stated the US does not recognize the results of the polls.
Israel may have been secretly supportive of an independent Kurdistan, presuming it would render Iraq weaker and also welcoming the apprehension arising in Turkey and Iran. But Israel's support is emblematic, not practical. A brutally egocentric nation like Israel would never go far enough to play a practical role in supporting an event like the Kurdish independence. Though Turkey has had a non-secular government since over a decade, it's discreet build-up of rapprochement with Israel has been satisfactory for both countries and Israel wouldn't want to take any risks to ruin that by supporting the Kurds. At the end of the day, Ankara is higher on Israel's list of priorities than Erbil. After the defeat of ISIL in Iraq and Syria, Israel's fear is a stronger Iran in the near future, not a stronger Kurdistan. Weeks ago some analysts thought that an independent Kurdistan could serve as a buffer between Iran and Israel and the latter may find that a positive change. Not really. Israel's plan for Iran is far more destructive than the mere placement of a buffer. On the contrary, fractious relation between Iraq and the Kurds would be far more beneficial for Israel, whereas a post-referendum Kurdistan offers greater chances of improved relations between Massoud Barazani and Haider Abadi on the longer term.
Kurdish officials have rejected Israel's figurative backing for the referendum as "unsolicited and damaging." No doubt Kurds have a long history as opportunists. An unconfirmed report says over one hundred thousand Kurdish Jews are living in Israel and communicating with the Kurdish belt for two decades. This has not been proven but it isn't impossible either. Whether or not such stories are true, the fact is that the Kurds along the regional belt stretching across Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran do have the right to decide their future without pressure or interference from their respective central governments and foreign entities. Needless to say, US support for Syrian Kurds is a separate story only aimed at destabilizing the government of Bashar al-Assad.
Sunni Muslims in Iraq have expressed their support for the Kurds. But the Arab League has cautiously disapproved on grounds of "disunity" without mentioning what 'unity' it expects to preserve in the war-ravaged territories of Iraq and Syria.
There is little doubt that since the colonial era the Kurds have been walking on a rocky road. The Kurdish belt was partitioned into four soon after WWI. Ever since they have been a marginalized lot, too often targeted with violence and discrimination. During the reign of Mostafa Kemal in Turkey, speaking the Kurdish language in public could get them lengthy prison sentences. Iranian Kurds were completely ignored throughout the rule of the Shah. After the revolution, they were promised autonomy but the Kurds complain that post-revolution Iran didn't keep many of its promises. It was toughest in Iraq where Kurds faced mandatory assimilation known as the "Arabization campaign" in northern Iraq. The autonomy granted to them in 1970 by Saddam's government lasted for just a few years until the mid 1970s. Saddam Hussain wasn't the first to use poison gas on the Kurds. Before Saddam it was the British PM, Winston Churchill, who decided to gas the Kurds when he faced resistance. "I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes [to] spread a lively terror," were Churchill's words. Comparatively Syrian Kurds enjoyed greater rights but were wary and disillusioned watching the plight of their Kurdish brethren in Turkey, Iraq and Iran. Certainly they did use the Syrian war as an opportunity to pursue their goal and did end up betraying Bashar al-Assad.
It's unclear at the moment what benefit the governments of Iraq, Iran and Turkey would derive by taking steps to ostracize the Kurds, including banning flights from Iraq to Erbil, other than punishing the Kurds for exercising their right to decide their future. It's a politically sleazy attitude, much the same as Israel ostracizing Hamas for winning the polls in 2006, or India disallowing a referendum in occupied Kashmir for fear of losing.
Erbil International Airport. Image source Business Insider
Erbil September 2015. An old coffee shop built in 1940. Image source Shutterstock
A popular mall in Erbil. Image source Business Insider.