Voices from Russia

Friday, 14 September 2012

Pope Benedict More Timid in his Support for Christians in the Middle East than the Patriarch Kirill Was

Here’s what the USA supports in Syria… a new Taliban, no?   


The visit to Lebanon of the head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI, comes at an especially difficult time for the region’s Christians. The so-called Arab Spring, praised in the USA and the EU, proved to be a disaster for Christians in Egypt, who became victims of several terrorist acts during the last year. It looks more and more like a disaster for Christians in Syria too, where Western-supported rebel forces are increasingly showing anti-Christian inclinations, acting according to their infamous unofficial slogan “Christians to Lebanon, Alawis to graves”. However, the Pope was remarkably reserved in his support for his co-religionists in Syria and Lebanon, being obviously afraid to go against the pro-rebel Western mainstream.

After his arrival in Lebanon today, the Pope limited himself to calling for a stop of arms sales to Syria, without being specific whether he meant just the Syrian government or the rebel forces too, saying, “Without arms imports, the war can’t continue”. The problem is that the Western governments also call for cessation of arms sales to Syria, but under the word “Syria”, they mean the state, not the country. The CIA and other American agencies make no secret out of their military aid to the rebel forces, and the Turkish government doesn’t shy away from openly supplying the rebels with deadly portable anti-aircraft missile-launchers. Once these arms find their way to the hands of al-Qaeda’s fighters (and the Western press recently finally lifted the taboo on reporting these fighters’ presence in the rebel ranks), they can be used against civilian and military planes of al-Qaeda’s enemies… i.e. all the countries of the civilised world.

Unlike Patriarch Kirill, who was unequivocal in his support for Syrian Christians during his visit in November 2011 to Damascus, the Pope remained very vague in his statements. In Lebanon also, he tried to cater to both the pro-Assad and pro-rebel audiences, which divide this small country almost evenly by half, saying upon his arrival, “All the people of the Arab countries and elsewhere have the right to demand reforms, and we are with them. Christians and Muslims should unite themselves to bring about a foundation for a real Arab Spring”. Despite the fact that talk about “reforms” is a little out of place in Lebanon, where dozens of people have already been killed in conflicts connected to the crisis in neighbouring Syria, and that such talk would be out of place 100 percent in Syria, a country unaware of anything else because of terrorist violence, this phrase indicates the Pope’s tacit opposition to the mainstream Western thinking on the Middle East.

Obviously, if the Pope dreams about some “real” Arab Spring, the current epic mess, so much praised in the Western media, isn’t the “real” Arab Spring. And from here, one needs to make just one step to the ultimate “sin” in the eyes of the existing Western “liberal gendarmerie” (an expression from the Russian 19th century magazine lexicon denoting intolerant supporters of “progress at all costs”)… namely, calling for a stop to outside intervention in Syria. This is exactly what a journalist from the French daily Le Figaro was getting at when he grilled with questions the Pope’s “second in command” in the Roman Catholic Church, Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, one day before the Pope’s visit.

The journalist asked, “The attitude of the Catholic church towards the régime in Damascus has often been viewed as too irresolute. What does the Holy See think about the Syrian conflict now?” Bertone responded, toeing the Western line, “From the beginning of the crisis, the Pope made every effort to condemn the violence and the loss of life. With the same vigour, Benedict XVI supported the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people”. However, then, he made an important addition which looks much closer to the Russian position than to the “pro-revolutionary” position of the USA and the EU, “The Pope several times called on both sides to reject violence and to engage each other in a dialogue, resolving through reconciliation the difficult questions for the good of the country and of the whole region”.

One can point up here that the Russian side called for a “dialogue” and “reconciliation” from the very beginning of the conflict, so these are words from the Russian vocabulary. The Western powers preferred expressions like “immediate resignation of Assad”, “exerting pressure”, and “decisive blow”, discussing not ways towards reconciliation, but towards more effective arming and financing the Syrian rebels. There’s no wonder that, in this situation, the Christian communities of Syria and Lebanon don’t believe their “brethren” in the EU and the USA. Lebanese President Michel Aoun, the only Christian president of an Arab country, said recently that the West was “out of its mind” to “destroy one of the few remaining secular regimes in the Arab world”… Syria.

The tragic plight of Christians in Western-“liberated” Iraq speaks for itself… even according to the US State Department report on religious freedom around the world, out of 1.4 million Christians who lived in Iraq before the American invasion in 2003, only about 500,000 remain. The Christian communities in Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt are also shrinking… not without some “help” from American foreign policy. In this situation, it is time for the Pope to take sides… not between communities, but between good and evil.

14 September 2012

Dmtiri Babich

Voice of Russia World Service



Did the Murder of Chris Stevens in Libya Have a Pre-Election Motivation?

Burned-out car in front of the American Consulate in Benghazi LIBYA


According to anonymous American  officials and Israeli media, the killing of American Ambassador Chris Stevens in the Libyan city of Benghazi may have been a pre-planned operation. The attackers used the protest outside the American consulate in Benghazi as a diversion, and the fact that the killing coincided with the eleventh anniversary of the 9/11 attacks was most likely coincidental. On Friday, sources in the White House said that the killing was allegedly the work of al-Qaeda militants who were in prison for terrorism, but who were released after the ouster of the Gaddafi régime. Shortly before the attack on the American consulate, al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri’s posted a message on the internet, which became a signal for the attack. In his message, al-Zawahiri urged militants to take vengeance for senior al-Qaeda leader Abu Yahya al-Libi, killed in an American drone strike in Pakistan in June.

Militants began the operation after a mob of protesters overwhelmed the American consulate in Benghazi in outrage over a film that ridiculed Islam’s Prophet Muhammad. Stevens died after he and his bodyguards left the consulate as militants attacked the compound on Tuesday night, many of them firing machine-guns and rocket-propelled grenades. Meanwhile, on Thursday, the first suspects in the attack were arrested in Libya as the USA and Libya opened a joint investigation into the matter. In a telephone conversation with President Obama on Friday, Libya’s interim President Mohamed Yousef el-Magariaf apologised to the USA for the attack.

Oleg Peresypkin, of the MID Diplomatic Academy, said, “Washington should think twice before pursuing their policy in Middle Eastern countries, including Syria. Americans demonstrate a very tactical and spur-of-the-moment thinking, as shown in the drive to topple Mubarak and Gaddafi, and a reluctance to think about the consequences. What Americans need is to show strategic thinking, to mull over their support to relevant countries in the cold light of day”.

Vladimir Pantin, of the Moscow-based Institute of World Economy and International Relations, believed, in turn, that Washington will try to correct its policy towards those countries where Islamists have come to power, saying, “Americans will tread carefully on the policy of support of Islamist regimes. Washington’s Egypt and Libya policy is unlikely to change drastically in the future because too much inertia and too many forces are involved in the process”.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was quick to capitalise on the events in Benghazi. He said that Washington’s outrageous, yet delayed, reaction to the anti-Islam film was issued when the crowds were already attacking several American diplomatic missions worldwide. According to Romney, the White House disgracefully apologised for the fact that American values include freedom of speech, amongst other things. Vladimir Pantin said, “The balance of pre-election chances may now be altered in favour of Romney. It’s certainly a blow to Obama, whose administration failed to react to these events. Now, Obama will have to make a flurry of urgent steps to rectify the situation”.

Experts said that the killing of the American Ambassador prompted questions that have yet to receive answers. It’s still unclear why Chris Stevens arrived in Benghazi when he did and why counterintelligence knew nothing about preparations for a terrorist act.

14 September 2012

Boris Pavlichyov

Voice of Russia World Service


Editor’s Note:

Willy gambled and lost on this one. The only people who cheered him in this were the knuckle-dragging bubbas, who were in his camp, in any case. What’s becoming clearer is that the movie really didn’t have much to do with the killing. It DID have much to do with the riots. Actually and oddly enough, the riots probably HINDERED the planned al-Qaeda operation, with more witnesses to the affair than they wanted and now there are people who’re willing to sell them out to the highest bidder (human nature being what it is). No doubt, al-Qaeda was planning a stand-alone ambush that would monopolise the news cycle for at least a week. Now, they have to share the limelight with the rioters… and suffer some of the backblast from those rioters’ actions. In short, this did NOT benefit al-Qaeda in the least, in the long run. That is, Willy’s chock fulla shit, as per usual… and that tells you much about his supporters, doesn’t it?


14 September 2012. The Jewish High Holy Days are on the Way! Give Your Jewish Friends a Hand, If You Can

“A good and sweet New Year!”


On Sunday evening, at sundown, the Jewish High Holy Days begin. Those of you with Jewish friends have noticed how frazzled they’ve become. This year, the holidays begin soon after Shabbos, so, they won’t have time to decompress and get ready. Offer to help if you can… watch the kids, do some shopping or errands, or help with the cleaning. It’ll all be appreciated, trust me.

God smiles when we help our friends… never forget that.


USA Confronted by Arab Spring’s Turbulent Wake


This week, the assassination of the American ambassador to Libya and attacks on American embassies in Egypt and Yemen stunned Washington, forcing it to confront the tumultuous aftermath of the Arab Spring uprisings it supported. In Libya, armed Islamist militants killed American Ambassador Christopher Stevens in a brazen attack Tuesday.

Michael Semple, a former deputy to the EU‘s special representative for Afghanistan, and who travelled to Tripoli during the rebellion that overthrew Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi, said, “It was clear a year ago that the risks were there that a popular uprising could actually lead toward anarchy. The fact that central authority hasn’t been fully restored, that institutions are weak, and that space exists for the type of groups that carried out the attacks… and that essentially nobody is in a position to challenge… that remains a question mark”.

The deadly assault raised questions for Americans, as well, about their country’s involvement in Libya. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement on Wednesday, “Today, many Americans are asking… indeed, I asked myself… how could this happen? How could this happen in a country we helped liberate, in a city we helped save from destruction? This question reflects just how complicated and, at times, how confounding the world can be”.

Rami George Khouri, director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut (and a senior fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University) said that the absence of a sturdy security apparatus in post-Gaddafi Libya makes such violent assaults by well-armed groups hardly surprising. He said, “The security situation echoes that which followed the elimination of Saddam Hussein‘s ruling Baathist régime in Iraq following the American invasion in 2003. When a whole superstructure of government was wiped away by American decree, there was chaos. There was no police, no army. Therefore, you’ve seen what’s been going on in Iraq for the past 10 years”.

Meanwhile, in Egypt, President Mohamed Morsi Isa El-Ayyat waited a day to issue a statement condemning Tuesday’s attack by a violent mob that stormed the American embassy in Cairo in protest of a defamatory YouTube video targeting Islam. Robert Danin, a former US State Department official with extensive experience in the Middle East, said that Egypt’s hard-line ruling Muslim Brotherhood party… with which Morsi is affiliated… was “frighteningly quiet” in the wake of the incident, in which protesters replaced an American flag in the compound with a black Islamist flag. Danin, who’s a senior fellow at the Council of Foreign Affairs, said in an interview, “They called on the USA to issue an apology for a film that’s insulted the Muslim world. They’ve called a nationwide protest on Friday about the film. …The Egyptian government should be focusing on the attack on the embassy, not trying to lead demonstrations against a film, however reprehensible it may be”.

The USA backed Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak for decades before his deposition in a revolution that paved the way for the Muslim Brotherhood’s victory in subsequent popular elections. Washington supported the grassroots pursuit of free and fair elections in Egypt, although the events of this week have jolted officials here. President Barack Obama told Telemundo in an interview that aired Wednesday evening that he doesn’t see Egypt as an ally, saying, “I don’t think that we’d consider them an ally, but we don’t consider them an enemy. They’re a new government that’s trying to find its way. They were democratically elected. I think that we’re going to have to see how they respond to this incident”.

On Thursday, protesters continued to demonstrate at the American embassy in Cairo, and hundreds attempted to attack the American embassy compound in Yemen in protest of the incendiary video. Obama spoke with Morsi by telephone Thursday and the White House released a statement saying, “[Obama] underscored the importance of Egypt following through on its commitment to cooperate with the USA in securing American diplomatic facilities and personnel. President Morsi expressed his condolences for the tragic loss of American life in Libya and emphasised that Egypt would honor its obligation to ensure the safety of American personnel”.

Ed Husain, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, said that Morsi’s tepid response is a partly a sign of the pressure he and his political allies are feeling from fundamentalist Salafi factions in Egypt, telling reporters in a conference call this week, “They can’t now vacate this area of debate within Egypt and hand this entire debate over to the Salafis to be seen to be the defenders of the Prophet, the defenders of Islam, the antagonists against the West. Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood’s street activists would like to have some of that pie too. By saying the right thing on this occasion, it means taking a huge political hit on the Egyptian streets. I don’t think he’s prepared to do that”.

14 September 2012

Carl Schreck



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