Voices from Russia

Monday, 2 December 2013

A Russian POV: Deal with Iran could Create New Balance of Power in the Middle East

00 Iran nuclear programme. political cartoon. 02.12.13

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At a meeting in Genève, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (known as the P5+1) reached a deal with Iran. It stipulates that the Islamic Republic would halt enrichment of uranium above 5 percent purity and dispose of its stockpile of 20-percent-enriched uranium by diluting it to less than 5 percent. In addition, Iranian nuclear facilities in Fordow and Natanz would be under IAEA control, whilst it’d halt the construction of a heavy-water reactor at Arak, capable of producing plutonium. In return, the P5+1 group, or… to be more precise… the USA and the EU, agreed to ease some of the sanctions against Iran. This would allow Iran to resume limited trade relations with the USA in the oil and gas, petrochemical, and automotive sectors, as well as trading in gold and precious metals. The resulting benefit for Iran would amount to 5-7 billion USD (166.1-232.6 billion Roubles. 5.32-7.45 billion CAD. 5.48-7.68 billion AUD. 3.7-5.2 billion Euros. 3.1-4.3 billion UK Pounds).

However, this deal isn’t just about money. The P5+1 group tabled their demand that Iran shut down and dismantle its already operating centrifuges. This and other provisions of the deal allowed Iran to claim that its key demand… recognition of its right to enrich uranium… was met. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov offered the following clear summary of the essence of the compromise, “This deal means that we agree that it’s necessary to recognise Iran’s right to peaceful atoms, including the right to enrichment, provided that the questions that remain to the Iranian nuclear programme and the programme itself come under strict control of the IAEA. This is the final goal, but it’s already been set in today’s document”.

The opponents of the deal insist that Iran retained the potential to create a nuclear weapon. The whole of its uranium enrichment infrastructure remains intact. A disappointed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “I emphasise… the deal doesn’t envisage the elimination of a single centrifuge”. Already, many experts pointed up that such a large nuclear infrastructure as Iran’s, which consists of some 17,000 enrichment centrifuges, is necessary if a country has 12-15 operating nuclear plants that require fuel rods. However, so far, Iran has only one nuclear power plant, in Bushehr, which receives fuel from Russia. The Iranians have a hard time trying to explain why they need so many centrifuges, but they’re ready for any form of control, including video cameras, meters, and snap inspections.

The willingness of the USA to agree to the deal also requires some explanation. Why has its attitude to the Iranian nuclear programme undergone such a sudden change? Why were American diplomats engaged in secret talks with Iran for nearly a year? After more than 30 years of hostility, why did Washington decide to relent on some of its demands? Granted, Hassan Rouhani replaced Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but the President of Iran is no more than the head of government. Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei, Iran’s spiritual and supreme leader, decides all matters of principle… nothing has changed.

The answer may have more to do with American domestic politics than Iran itself. In the early 1970s, the USA suffered a devastating defeat in Vietnam. Then, the Watergate scandal forced US President Richard Nixon to resign under threat of impeachment. It was at that moment, putting all sentiments aside, that the USA resorted to an unprecedented rapprochement in relations with the People’s Republic of China. Today, the USA is coping with failures in Iraq and Afghanistan, the challenges of the Arab Spring, and allies that would like to drag it into military operations in Libya and Syria… the goals of which would be difficult to communicate to ordinary Americans. The time may be right for the USA to engage with Iran, which is ready to fight for leadership in the Middle East with the oil monarchies of the Gulf. Such a move could restore the balance of power in the Middle East to the situation that existed prior to the 1979 revolution, when Iran served as a counterbalance to Saudi Arabia.

 26 November 2013

Andrei Ilyashenko

Russia Behind the Headlines

http://rbth.ru/international/2013/11/26/deal_with_iran_could_create_new_balance_of_power_in_the_middle__32037.html

Editor’s Note:

The most important takeaway from this is that the USA vexed Israel. There’s going to be no attack on Iran anytime soon or anytime later. To put it mildly, the minor Gulf States are shitting bricks, whilst the Saudis are apprehensive. If the USA makes nice to Iran… what’ll happen to OPEC and its highway robbery tactics? There’s much more to this than is immediately apparent… and we don’t know the full import of it yet. Is this a step-back from the neocon opium dreams of world hegemony? One can hope that it is…

BMD   

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Syriac Orthodox Bishop Issues Appeal to Publicise the Plight of the Innocent People of Qalamoun

00 The face of the Syrian opposition. 27.10.13

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For four days, villages under siege by jihadist rebels from the Saudi-backed group Jaysh al-Islam went without food, medicines, electricity, and communications. Syriac Orthodox Bishop Silwanos Boutros Naameh called for a humanitarian corridor to the besieged communities, urging the besiegers to show some “mercy”. Bishop Silwanos appealed on behalf of the 3,000 residents of Sadad and Hofar, in the Qalamoun region (An-Nabk District, in Rif Dimashq Governorate in western Syria, near Lebanon), asking that the rebels spare and relieve them from the current siege, to allow them to move to safe places near Homs. He asked that all major religious leaders and all heads of state, as well as all men of good will, to raise their voices so that the rebel besiegers would allow the residents, stuck in their homes without food or medicine, to escape the siege. The Qalamoun area is under the control of Islamist insurgents from Jaysh al-Islam, led by Zahran Alloush, backed financially and militarily by Saudi Arabia. The Jihadist rebels want to control the Beqaa Valley and the lines of communication between Homs and Damascus, therefore, occupying Qalamoun is the first phase of their new offensive against the Syrian Army and the Lebanese Hezbollah. We publish Mar Silwanos’ appeal, calling on everyone to spread it as widely as possible.

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To all humanitarian and religious institutions and organisations, as well as to all people of good will, and to all humanitarians, I address this appeal for all the people under siege in areas that are now inaccessible, which they can’t leave, and which we can’t reach. They live in the villages of Sadad and Hofar, in the Qalamoun area in Syria. I write this so that you might appeal to the besiegers, as they’ve not allowed local residents to leave, that they might agree to talks to facilitate the safe departure of the residents, in any direction, either towards the Convent of al-Attieh or towards Homs, where we could succour them. I implore all those with influence and all those in contact with the warring parties to put pressure on and negotiate with the besiegers, passing on this request for the safe release of the captive residents, even though most of them haven’t yet suffered mistreatment.

These people were under siege for the past four days without electricity and water, or means of communication. They have little food. Amongst them, there are children who need milk and sick people who need medicines. Around 3,000 people live in the beleaguered communities. Their besiegers aren’t letting them leave their homes. Indeed, they put pressure on them to stay put, despite having held talks with them. We call on all organisations, on all the children of our Church scattered throughout the world, to give aid and active support. Help us! Work with us prudently, without making statements that could affect the safety of the besieged. Our people shall never forget. I repeat, reiterating our good intentions so as not to jeopardise the safety of our loved ones… please, post this appeal on your blogs and websites, send it to newspapers, magazines, and other media outlets. Send it also to all those who could play a positive role in finding a solution that would secure the residents’ release. For our part, in our mission, we repeat in God’s name, we call on the besiegers to show mercy to these innocent people, who aren’t responsible for this tragedy. Let them go safely and treat them well. We call upon God to give these innocent people patience, strength, hope, courage, health, and vigour.

Lord, Lord, Lord! Do NOT abandon them! 

Mar Silwanos Boutros Naameh

Syriac Orthodox Bishop

25 October 2013

AsiaNews

http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Syrian-Orthodox-bishop-appeals-to-rescue-the-innocent-people-of-Qalamoun-29369.html

Editor’s Note:

Reflect on who backs the Saudis (and which political faction in the USA makes the most warmongering noise)… you’ll know what to do in November ’14. You’ll cast your vote against the Republican Party… this is what their “American Exceptionalism” has led to (do you want a repeat of Afghanistan, only worse?). It sickens me to no end…

The Christian people of Syria hang on the cross… and the Neocon Republicans and the Interventionist Democrats want to bomb, burn, and destroy (NOT build, aid, and feed) throughout the world (they don’t even want to help feed poor Americans, so, its natural that they wouldn’t want to help feed luckless foreigners). Something is horridly wrong with us, our political institutions, and our religion… we must either put it right or else. “We have met the enemy, and he is us“.

BMD

 

Saturday, 19 October 2013

19 October 2013. VOR Infographic. Wahhabi Training in Europe/Global Jihad: Religion, Politics, or Business?

00 VOR Infographic. Wahhabi Training in Europe. 19.10.13

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Jihad has crept into the heart of Europe. Training camps of Wahhabism have long successfully existed in European countries, as well as all over the world. Lately, an increasing number of facts became known about the involvement of fighters with European passports in large terrorist attacks (specifically, the train explosions in Madrid in 2004), about their participation in the revolutions of the Arab Spring, as well as the civil war in Syria. Either, European governments don’t pay much attention to it, or intentionally hush it up. An investigation carried out by VOR confirmed that Jihad is already knocking on the doors of European capitals. Al-Qaeda, are you there? A 20-year old French woman tried to make contact with terrorists from the menacing organisation via the internet. It appears to be nothing serious… many searches are made via the global network on a daily basis. However, in this case, French police demonstrated their professionalism… they arrested the young woman in order to clarify why she’d tried to establish contact with al-Qaeda.

We very much need preventative work amongst young people. However, some facts revealed that Islamists are increasingly more active in France. Whilst they investigate individual cases, European governments prefer to ignore the global problem… after each attack by terrorists they claim it’s just an isolated occurrence. Alain Chouet, an expert at the European Security Intelligence and Strategy Centre, supported this point of view, saying, “We’re talking about a criminal case that hit the news. Young people frequently search information about al-Qaeda on the Internet. At the same time, one mustn’t exaggerate the scope of this phenomenon… compared to the 5-million-member Muslim community in France, such cases aren’t numerous. Nevertheless, we’ve taken legal and administrative measures that allow us to act before real problems arise. We have a network of internal political investigators with a full understanding on what goes on in ‘at-risk communities’. The combination of legal capabilities and internal investigation allows us to watch closely those who could pose a threat in this area. It doesn’t mean that we’re talking about terrorists. Most likely, we’re talking about those who could be tempted to join the jihadists”.

Perhaps, in this case, the principle “we can’t see the forest for the trees” may be true. In any case, neighbouring Belgium views the French situation quite differently. Anne-Marie Lizin, honorary president of the Belgian Senate, said in an interview with VOR, “Whether in France or in Belgium, we observe the fact that the recruitment of young people, as well as middle-aged people, for operations in the name of jihad goes on. People fight for compensation… some countries pay for such operations. Extremist Sunnis conduct the recruitment. We believe that the countries that engage in such operations should immediately stop such actions. There’s no doubt that Saudi Arabia is involved in such activity. In this country, the dominant opinion is that they could continue to finance the recruiting even without American support, but I think that’s not true”.

Jean-Michel Vernochet, a French journalist, gave even more shocking detail in his new book (September 2013) Les «Égarés»: Le Wahhabisme est-il un contre Islam? (The “Strayed”: Is Wahhabism Against Islam?). He found out that over 400 Wahhabi fighters were trained in France lately, who went to fight for the Syrian opposition. Eventually, they’ll return home, but they’re unlikely to choose a humdrum ordinary life. Therefore, according to Vernochet, Jihad is already at Europe’s doorstep, but the authorities continue to pretend that nothing’s going on. In his view, moreover, in France, we aren’t talking about separate terrorist attacks. According to his information, Qatar, which like Saudi Arabia is a Wahhabi country, is gradually buying up France. Already, this tiny emirate, with the highest per capita income in the world, owns FC Paris Saint-Germain, has a stake in the financial giant Vinci, as well as a share in Total SA. Vernochet’s forecast resembles a scene from an anti-utopian dystopian novel… French people shouldn’t be surprised if in 10 years they’re driven out of their homes for Muslim prayers at gun-point, their vineyards cut down, and their wives and daughters forced to wear yashmaks. It’d be a new Wahhabi France.

The Balkans are another hot spot. According to some observers, the peninsula could become a real launching platform for the invasion of radical Islam into Europe. Montenegro caught the eye of the experts in the last few months. There’s been news about the activity of radical Islamists repeatedly coming from that quiet resort republic. A while ago, information was published about the arrest of a Serbian family, which adopted the Wahhabi ideology and customs. During the search, the police found guns and ammunition that belonged to the head of the family and his son-in-law. As it turned out, the men regularly “went to war in Syria”, supporting other Islamists in their fight against Bashar al-Assad. About the same time in northern Montenegro, not far from the border with Kosovo, a traditional Wahhabi meeting took place., taking place under the auspices of Turkey and Saudi Arabia. According to the latest data, a minimum of 200 followers of radical Islam now reside in northeastern Montenegro, which is primarily Muslim and the poorest spot in the country. It appears to be not too many. However, the rise of such moods worried the National Security Agency; it declared that the country is in direct danger.

In Bosnia-Herzegovina, often, Wahhabi fighters receive training in school gyms. All this takes place in spite of the fact that we’ve long known that such training camps and entire armed units acting under al-Qaeda guidance exist there. It’s a proven fact that fighters trained in Bosnia-Herzegovina were involved in the 2004 train explosions in Madrid. From that time, the situation appears not to have changed much… government troops frequently find Bosnian passports on the bodies of opposition rebels in Syria. The latest such case is from 27 September 2013. Macedonia is also familiar with radical Islamism. According to Ivan Babanovsky, a Macedonian expert in security issues, al-Qaeda training camps were located in the part of the country controlled by terrorists from the National Liberation Army. These units attacked Macedonia from Kosovo in 2001. By the way, even today in Kosovo, a large camp near Kačanik is run by veterans of the Liberation Army, they train volunteers to go to the war in Syria.

If we gather all these facts together, the position of the European capitals and Washington becomes clear. So-called “Independent Kosovo” is a project of the USA and its allies; it’s unlikely that anything goes on there without the knowledge of its patrons. Dr Hans Krech, an expert from Germany, pointed up in a VOR interview, “Unfortunately, Kosovo is only one place in the wide landscape of Western-financed terrorist training camps. There’s a very interesting report on this subject prepared by the respected American magazine Defense and Foreign Affairs Strategic Policy Journal, which came out a couple of months ago. If one is to believe that report, American intelligence prepared 3,000 fighters in Jordan for deployment to Damascus. They’ve tried to do that once already, but they got stuck in fights with other groups of rebels, which didn’t allow them to move forward. Perhaps, it part of the American operation for the employment of chemical weapons. I’ve read in Arab magazines that French intelligence agencies are also involved in the training of rebel units”.

The Eastern allies of the NATO European partners don’t lag behind in the preparation of fighters. Stanislav Tarasov, a Middle East expert and a political analyst, said in a VOR interview, “The latest events, specifically, the conflict in Syria, due to its geography involves the interests of those countries even more. Turkey didn’t admit the presence of terrorist groups on its territory. However, as events evolved, they started to infiltrate the border regions, specifically Hatay Province. Then, the American, European, and, finally, Turkish press acknowledged that there were camps in the border regions, to train rebels or as transit camps from which they were transported from various countries, specifically from Lebanon and Turkey. Now, that the Russian-American agreement on Syrian chemical weapons is in effect, it forced Ankara to admit their presence, a “boomerang effect”. Just a few days ago, Turkish Interior Minister Muammer Güler admitted that Turkey conducted over a hundred operations, capturing more than 300 brigands, a hundred of whom were al-Qaeda.

Activists from Human Rights Watch also gathered facts confirming Ankara’s involvement in the preparation of fighters. It called on the Turkish government to take tougher measures, Lama Fakikh, an expert on Syria and Lebanon, admitted to VOR, “We managed to find out about a group of people involved in those crimes, who killed 190 civilians and took over 200 as prisoners. It consisted of foreign fighters, who, in our opinion, got into Syria via Turkey. We called upon the Turkish government to strengthen the guard at their border in order to limit the access of those fighters into Syria. We’ve also found out that some who financed those operations did so from the Persian Gulf countries. We’re calling upon those countries to make sure that their residents don’t send money to terrorist groups in Syria”.

It’s interesting, but how is the initiator of all this mess going to continue to hush things up, in such a dangerous situation? Thanks to generous financing, terrorist groups centred on al-Qaeda and its regional branches literally got a second wind. Mohammed Yasin al-Jilasi, a political analyst from Tunisia, said, “Syria became a real testing ground, to check out recruits in combat conditions. From the very beginning of the Syrian crisis, organised recruiting of fighters started in a few countries. The so-called centres are numerous in Libya and Tunisia, from which fighters are sent to Syria via Turkey and Jordan. There are thousand of fighters from Tunisia. According to the Minister of Internal Affairs, about 2,000 have already been killed in Syria. Why do people, especially young people, go there? The motives differ. Usually, they’re promised money, and if they aren’t interested in money, they’re promised power. If that isn’t of interest either, they’re offered instant entry into Heaven and supper with the Prophet. The majority of the fighters are members of such terrorist organisations as Ansar al-Sharia and al-Tayar al-Salafi. Well-equipped bases are set up in Syria, where rebels go through a complete course of training. Al-Qaeda members who come from Algeria teach them”.

The slogans that the Wahhabi use in their war are traditional… “Fight the Infidel” and “Create the Global Caliphate”. It’s understandable… a movement has to at least create an illusion that it fights for some ideals. Sergei Goncharov, president of the International Association of the Veterans of the Alfa Anti-Terrorist Unit believes, “In reality, the majority of today’s ‘Islamist fighters’ are ordinary hired guns. Who then fights in Syria? A huge number of hired guns that got there from all over the world. Really, they’re hired fighters who primarily fight for compensation. If somebody tries to convince me that people adopted Islam to go to Syria to fight for ‘some pure faith’ against al-Assad because he’s a bad guy, I can hardly believe that. Let me tell you, these hired fighters fight only for their own wellbeing”. There’s much proof of this point of view. In the Balkans, it’s well-known that the Wahhabi recruit their supporters primarily in the poorest provinces. They give them a “salary” of sorts… specifically, they receive pay for observing Wahhabi traditions. They’re paid 100 Euros per month for wearing a traditional closely-trimmed beard.

It appears that the main financiers of jihad refuse to learn from their own mistakes or mistakes of the others. The first Islamist group was formed with the support of the USA back in the times of the war in Afghanistan in 1979-89. A few dozens of thousands of Arabs, as well as Pakistanis, fought against the Soviet Army with active support from the Western and Middle Eastern intel agencies. After the withdrawal of the Soviet troops, the local authorities started to send home from Afghanistan and Pakistan the so-called “Afghanis”. Mujahidin who gained combat experience returned home and tried to change the normal order of life. It led to a sharp rise in violence… terrorist attacks took place in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Algeria, and Morocco. Then, 9/11 in September 2001 in the USA followed, then, the explosions in Madrid, London, as well as the recent terrorist attack in Boston. Nevertheless, the West is still convinced that the “new Mujahidin” are puppets in its skilled hands. The West doesn’t notice that the strings have long been torn. The former servants don’t recognise their owner, and after coming back from Syria, they’ll try to re-shape their “motherland” in accordance with their own notions.

15 October 2013

Igor Siletsky

Voice of Russia World Service

http://rus.ruvr.ru/images/static/infographycs/wahha.png

http://voiceofrussia.com/2013_10_15/Global-Jihad-religion-politics-or-business-1524/

Friday, 6 September 2013

Putin sez Russia will Help Syria in Case of External Military Strike

00 Russian and Chinese soldiers. 06.09.13

Chinese soldiers present gifts to Russian soldiers in Chelyabinsk on 7 August 2013. Russian soldiers participating in the Peace Mission-2013 China-Russia joint military drill visited a Chinese cultural centre set up in the field, in which they enjoyed many aspects of Chinese culture. The American drive for global hegemony is driving many countries together… it looks as though more will join the anti-American coalition.

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On Friday, at a press conference following the G20 summit in St Petersburg, President Vladimir Putin said, “Will we help Syria? We will”. Putin added that the USA and other countries would make themselves outlaws if they launched a military operation in Syria. He said, “I presume that everything concerning the so-called use of chemical weapons was a provocation on the part of fighters who expected outside assistance, I mean assistance from countries that supported them from the very start. This is the essence of this provocation. The use of force against a sovereign state is only possible if one does it in self-defence and, as we know, Syria isn’t attacking the USA, nor was there a decision made by the UN Security Council. As one participant in our discussion said, those who act otherwise put themselves outside the law. At this time, which is generally difficult for the world economy, to say the least, it’d be counterproductive to destabilise the situation in the Middle East“.

President Putin pointed up that the USA, Turkey, Canada, Saudi Arabia, and France supported a military operation against Syria, whilst Russia, China, India, Indonesia, Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, and Italy opposed the option at the G20 summit, saying in response to a journalist who suggested that the G20 divided approximately 50/50 over the need for a military strike on Syria, “You said the vote was 50/50. This isn’t quite so and I can tell you who was in favour of military operations. As you know, those were the USA, Turkey, Canada, Saudi Arabia, and France”. Putin went on to say, “Categorical objections were raised by Russia, China, India, and Indonesia and I’d like to call your attention to the fact that this is the world’s largest Islamic country, in terms of population, Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, and Italy”.

Putin hadn’t forgotten that British Prime Minister David Cameron spoke in favour of a military intervention in Syria, but the British parliament voted down the proposition. He said, “The German Bundeskanzlerin is also extremely cautious. Germany isn’t going to get involved in any military operations”. Putin said that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon opposed military operations against Syria, too, but Putin also said that he was surprised with the positions of certain G20 states on Syria, noting, “Last night, the Indian Prime Minister unexpectedly said that he was categorically against any military operation. The position of the Indonesian President, which is the largest Islamic country in the world with a population of, I think, 350 million {VVP is a bit off… Indonesia’s population is a tad under 240 million: editor}, came as a surprise to me. The Brazilian President took an absolutely firm stand, and the South African President did, too”.

Putin also said that he had a conversation with US President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the G20 summit. According to Putin, the short dialogue was friendly, although they agreed to differ on certain issues. Putin said at a press conference following the G20 summit, “This was a very substantive, constructive, and friendly conversation. At least, it took place in a friendly atmosphere. Each of us stuck to our opinions, but dialogue exists”.

 6 September 2013

Voice of Russia World Service

http://voiceofrussia.com/2013_09_06/Russia-to-help-Syria-in-case-of-external-military-strike-Putin-7536/

Editor’s Note:

Russia’s upped the ante. Its forces are on enhanced alert and VVP made it clear that he was going to stand by his Syrian ally. I hope that the current imbroglio doesn’t turn into July 1914. I truly do… the USA is playing with matches around dynamite, though. If you needed proof that the USA, as a society, is juvenile, violent, and unrestrained, well, this is it. God do keep us… for it looks as though the establishment in the USA has committed itself to a death ride. May the chalice pass from us… please…

BMD

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