Voices from Russia

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Russian Journalists Blow Lid Off Alleged US Terrorist Training Network in Syria

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Two Russian journalists in Syria put together a damning firsthand report on the true purpose of the secret US military mission at al-Tanf in southern Syria. Late last month, fresh allegations from the Russian General Staff that US instructors were providing training assistance for some 350 ex-Daesh (ISIS) militants at the US Army’s al-Tanf garrison in Homs Governorate in southern Syria forced the Pentagon to go into full public relations mode. Chief of Staff General Valery Gerasimov accused Washington of intending to use the militants to create a so-called “New Syrian Army”, a military formation aimed at further destabilising the war-torn country after the defeat of Daesh. A Pentagon spokesperson soon responded, telling Sputnik that Moscow’s allegations were “false and absurd”, and stressing that the USA and its allies engage in capturing and killing Daesh, not training them

  • Editor: If such is so, why do they have an illegal secret base that they refuse to remove even though the legitimate Syrian government demanded that they leave? Lying Anglo sacks o’ shit. They truly expect to get away with their chicanery and aggression.

In a special investigative report for Russia’s Federal News Agency, correspondents Igor Petrashevich and Roman Martynovich made their way south to try to figure out what was really going on in the US-occupied area with their own eyes. Al-Tanf, a settlement situated near Syria’s border with Iraq and Jordan, is one of three official border crossings between Syria and Iraq, and the main border checkpoint along the Damascus-Baghdad Highway. Intense fighting for the area took place in the spring and summer of 2017, as US-allied militants attempted to solidify their foothold in southern Syria. However, a Syrian Army counteroffensive backed by Russian air power stopped the militant advance, prompting them and their US-led coalition allies to secure a patch of territory running about 55 kilometres (34 miles) deep into Syria.

In late December, General Gerasimov pointed to al-Tanf as being one of two staging areas for the continuation of an armed struggle against the Syrian government by the jihadists, with the other at Shaddadi camp, under the control of Kurdish forces operating in northern Syria. Gerasimov stated that the US Special Forces had brought the al-Tanf militants, many former members of Daesh, into the area from Deir ez-Zor Governorate, where Daesh had suffered total defeat. According to Petrashevich and Martynovich, the presence of these former Daesh fighters made local residents wary of helping them to make their way into the US-occupied enclave, noting:

A young man named Marshod warned our correspondents about this and said that two of his own attempts to make his way to a nearby village beyond the line of demarcation led to threats against his life from militants guarding the enclave’s inner perimeter.

Undeterred, the journalists continued their investigation via interviews with eyewitnesses and Syrian troops stationed in the region.

There May Be Close to Four Times as Many Militants as Previously Estimated

Although Russian military sources conservatively estimate the presence of roughly 350 Daesh militants at al-Tanf, Syrian military sources speaking to Patrashevich and Martynovich explained that there, in fact, might be upwards of 1,200 fighters, some 200 of them Daesh jihadis brought to the area by US Special Forces, mostly from Deir ez-Zor Governorate. Other forces include the so-called “New Syrian Army”, the Forces of Martyr Ahmad al-Abdo (formally part of the Free Syrian Army), and the Martyrs of Islam Brigade (an Islamist group). According to the Syrian military, these forces have large-calibre mortars, ATGMs, tanks, and other heavy weaponry. Reportedly, the New Syrian Army, commanded by one Mekhenda Talla, has a strained relationship with the other formations, who cooperate with his forces only on a for-cash basis. Patrashevich and Martynovich wrote:

In general, the relationship between the militants from the individual groups is quite tense, as civilian testimony makes clear. One local, a man named Amjad Sahim, who managed to escape US-controlled territory to neighbouring Damascus Governate, told us that he and his brothers witnessed clashes between the NSA forces moving toward the border and former Daesh fighters attempting to leave the area into Jordanian territory. Because of the clashes, the US-backed militants completely wiped out the small group of Daesh terrorists.

Furthermore, the journalists’ Syrian Army source said that other members of the US-led coalition were in the area, with about 400 mercenaries, intelligence operatives, and Special Forces troops of the UK, France, Jordan, and possibly other countries, operating in the region. Their arsenal includes HIMARS MLRSs and anti-aircraft artillery tasked with defending the US base.

“Passive Reserve” of 5,000 More Jihadists

Local freelance journalists told Patrashevich and Martynovich that in addition to the so-called “active reserve of militants, the USA and its allies also have a passive backup reservee, saying:

Whilst the main jihadists are at the US base and receive a monthly allowance, another 5,000 Islamists reside at the Rukban refugee camp, some still armed and in contact with their field commanders. Last November, militants voiced their dissatisfaction with a noticeable decline in US funding. As a result, the al-Tanf base’s command, fearing military insurrection, decided to disburse a severance payment of several thousand dollars to each fighter and gave them the right to remain inside the enclave in the tent camp zone.

According to a Syrian Army source near the front line, the duties of the New Syrian Army includes guarding checkpoints along the makeshift border and defence of the al-Tanf base perimeter and the Rukban camp. Talla’s troops maintain discipline over the other units via payments for the performance of various duties.

Life in Region a Living Hell for Civilians

Locals told Patrashevich and Martynovich that the jihadists’ presence in the region had a severe impact on civilian life. In the town of Al-Qaryatayn, the correspondents met with Farah Alhamsih, a young woman who had lived outside al-Tanf before managing to escape the area once it fell under US and jihadist control. She said:

Whilst some militants engaged in building homes or engaged in shooting practice, most of them, left almost without means, robbed local houses or trucks passing along the Damascus-Baghdad highway.

Eyewitnesses said that US forces first tried to exert pressure on the radicals or even evict them from the Rukban camp, but they eventually gave up, closing their eyes to criminal activities.

Last fall, a group of some 300 Daesh militants launched an offensive toward al-Qaryatayn, avoiding Syrian Army outposts using intel that Moscow and Damascus said came from US aerial reconnaissance. Although the Syrian forces stopped the offensive, they fear that new attacks may be in the offing. Furthermore, US and jihadist occupation of the area put important roads, including the Homs-Deir ez-Zor and Damascus-Palmyra Highways, as well as strategically important oil and gas fields, under threat.

Russian officials also voiced concerns about the state of the Rukban refugee camp, the Russian Centre for Reconciliation describing the situation there as being close to “catastrophic”, with the US military closing access to the camp to the UN and other humanitarian organisations. Thus far, Patrashevich and Martynovich pointed up:

Airstrikes by the US coalition countered any attempts by Syrian government convoys or pro-Russian forces to come close to the enclave. This included incidents in May and June 2017.

Sahim, a local man now living in Damascus Governate, confirmed to the journalists that the humanitarian situation in the US-occupied territory is approaching desperation, with basic foodstuffs and other necessities unavailable, whilst militants have seized local wells, selling water to locals at marked up prices:

When I was very thirsty, I had to spend a fortune. The terrorists sold a bottle of water that earlier sold for 50 lira for 500 lira. People had to buy it. What else could they do? Many parents tried to save their children. I know several local families who gave away their girls for marriage just to get them out of the area. When locals tried to organise to get the attention of the US military command about arranging the supply of necessities, [the Americans] ignored their requests.

This, combined with the lack of any effort to rein in the militants, gave rise to anti-American sentiments, as well as hopes for aid from the Syrian government and the Russian military. The Russian Centre for Reconciliation offered to assist refugees from the Rukban camp. Last month, despite the absence of any security guarantees from the US side, and the presence of roaming jihadist militants in the region, Centre representatives aided the evacuation of a small group of refugees from the camp. The reporters captured the evacuation on video. For now, Patrashevich and Martynovich noted that the fate of the US-occupied Syrian enclave is in American hands. So long as the illegal US occupation of the border area continues, Damascus won’t be able to rest easy with regard to the security of its southern territories.

14 January 2018

Sputnik International

https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201801141060746468-us-occupation-cooperation-with-terrorists-southern-syria/

Editor:

The legitimate Syrian government denied the American forces permission to operate within their borders. Ergo, the present US operation is a war crime under the definitions used to prosecute Nazis after World War II… that means that Obama, Clinton, Carey, Trump, and Tillerson are major war criminals under those standards for having planned and waged aggressive war. That’s how depraved the USA has become… it’s an out-of-control rouge-state that fancies itself free of any normal restraint or consequence for its actions. America’s behaviour since 1991 can mean only one thing… the USSR was the innocent party in the Cold War. It also means that lacking the deterrence that the USSR gave to its aggressive and juvenile actions, the USA will always act in a brutal and vicious fashion. Today, China, Russia, and Iran huddle together in an alliance against American terrorism. As long as the American threat persists, this alliance will be solid. Sad to say, the USA shows no sign of abandoning its violent and hubristic course… this alliance will last. Terrorism? One of its main architects was Hillary Clinton… a person I’d name the evilest individual of the second-half of the 20th-century and the beginning of the 21st. None dare call her diabolic…

BMD

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America Is Spiritually Bankrupt… We Must Fight Back Together.

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Editor:

This is a meaty read n’ heed of major proportions. I’d say that it’s worth a reread… Brother Cornel speaks some home truths here. To revisit Chernyshevsky and Ilyich… What is to be done?

BMD

We live in one of the darkest moments in American history… a bleak time of spiritual blackout and imperial meltdown. Exactly 25 years ago, in my book Race Matters, I tried to lay bare the realities and challenges to American democracy in light of the doings and sufferings of black people. Back then, I reached heartbreaking yet hopeful conclusions. Now, the heartbreak cuts much deeper and the hope has nearly run out. The nihilism in black America has become a massive spiritual blackout in America. The undeniable collapse of integrity, honesty, and decency in our public and private life has fuelled even more racial hatred and contempt.

The rule of Big Money and its attendant culture of cupidity and mendacity have so poisoned our hearts, minds, and souls that a dominant self-righteous neoliberal soulcraft of smartness, dollars, and bombs thrives with little opposition. The escalating military overreach abroad, the corruption of political and financial elites at home, and the market-driven culture of mass distractions on the internet, TV, and radio push toward an inescapable imperial meltdown, in which chauvinistic nationalism, plutocratic policies, and spectatorial cynicism run amok. Our last and only hope is prophetic fight-back… a moral and spiritual awakening that puts a premium on courageous truth-telling and exemplary action by individuals and communities.

The distinctive features of our spiritual blackout are threefold. First, we normalise mendacity and naturalise criminality. We make our lies look like the normal order of things. Moreover, we make our crimes look like the natural order of things. We too often say Wall Street is a good servant… rather than a bad master… of the common good. Then we look away from the criminal behaviour of big banks because they’re too indispensable to prosecute. We deny that drone strikes kill innocent people abroad. Then, we overlook killing lists on Terror Tuesday at the White House, when a president and his staff can decide to kill people without any legal procedure, including, sometimes, US citizens.

Second, we encourage callousness and reward indifference. We make mean-spiritedness look manly and mature. Moreover, we make cold-heartedness look triumphant and victorious. In our world of the survival of the slickest and the smartest, we pave the way for raw greed and self-promotion. We make cowardice and avarice fashionable, and compassion an option for losers. We prefer market-driven celebrities who thrive on glitzy spectacles and seductive brands to moral-driven exemplars who strive on with their gritty convictions and stout-hearted causes.

Third, we trump the moral and spiritual dimensions of our lives and the world by applauding our short-term gains and superficial successes. This immoral and brutal disposition reinforces… and, in part, is a result of… the all-encompassing commoditisation of a predatory capitalism, running out of control in our psyches and societies. The pervasive violence in our domestic lives and military policies abroad are inseparable from the profit-driven marketisation of our spiritually impoverished capitalist civilisation. Our civilisation rests upon an American empire in decline and decay.

Imperial meltdown is at the centre of our catastrophic times. Our ecological catastrophe is real. The Anthropocene epoch engulfs us. Human practises… especially big business and big military operations… now so deeply influence the Earth’s atmosphere that extinctions loom large. The potential for nuclear catastrophe remains urgent as USA-Russia tensions escalate and other nuclear powers, like the DPRK, China, Pakistan, India, and Israel, are expanding and restless. Our economic catastrophes proliferate along with grotesque wealth inequality. Our political catastrophes deepen as oligarchy triumphs from governmental dysfunction. Our civic catastrophes deepen as big money undercuts the public interest, common good, or even rule of law. Our cultural catastrophes are often hidden… the vast and sad realities of trauma and terror visited upon vulnerable fellow citizens who are disproportionately poor people, LGBTQ people, peoples of colour, women, and children.

The political triumph of Donald Trump is a symbol and symptom… not cause or origin… of our imperial meltdown. Trump is neither alien nor extraneous to American culture and history. In fact, he’s as American as apple pie. He’s a sign of our spiritual bankruptcy… all spectacle and no substance, all narcissism and no empathy, all appetite and greed and no wisdom and maturity. His triumph flows from the implosion of a Republican Party establishment beholden to big money, big military, and big scapegoating of vulnerable peoples of colour, LGBTQ peoples, immigrants, Muslims, and women. It also flows from a Democratic Party establishment beholden to big money, big military, and the clever deployment of peoples of colour, LGBTQ peoples, immigrants, Muslims, and women to hide and conceal the lies and crimes of neoliberal policies here and abroad; and from a corporate media establishment that aided and abetted Trump owing to high profits and revenues.

The painful truth is there’s no Donald Trump without Barack Obama, no neofascist stirrings without neoliberal policies… all within the imperial zone. Obama was the brilliant black smiling face of the American Empire. Trump is the know-nothing white cruel face of the American Empire. Obama didn’t produce Trump, but his Wall-Street–friendly policies helped facilitate Trump’s pseudo-populist victory. Obama’s reluctance to confront race matters in a serious and substantive manner didn’t cause the ugly white backlash, but Obama’s hesitancy didn’t help the opposition to white-supremacist practises. More pointedly, both Obama and Trump… two different faces of the imperial meltdown… supported military build-ups, wars against Muslim-majority countries, drone strikes, the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and people, illegal imprisonments of innocent people, night raids on poor Muslim families, and inhumane detention camps. These war policies and war crimes came back to devour what’s left of America’s democratic soul.

So how do we respond to our dark times? The greatest tradition of the prophetic fightback in the American Empire is the black freedom struggle. The greatest tradition of moral and spiritual fortitude in the American Empire is the black musical tradition. The artistic excellence in the best of black music… including the magnanimity and majesty of the sound… sets the standards for the black freedom struggle. These standards consist of radical freedom in love and radical love in freedom… the freedom to tell the truth in love about one’s self and the world, and the love of the truth as one freely speaks and lives. The Movement for Black Lives is a grand sign of hope. It is an exemplary collective effort to put the prophetic fight back in our bleak moment of imperial meltdown and spiritual blackout. The prophetic vision and social analyses of the Movement for Black Lives begin with the most vulnerable, such as the precious LGBTQ people subject to massive trauma and terror.

In this way, the terror and trauma suffered by the people in Gaza, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, and India (especially with Dalit peoples) are inseparable from the trauma and terror in Baltimore, Ferguson, Oakland, and Chicago. Another sign of hope is Rev William J Barber II, the most Martin-Luther-King–like figure in our time. His Moral Monday movement and now the Poor People’s Campaign is, alongside people such as Fr Michael Pfleger and his great ministry at St Sabina Church in Chicago IL, Rev Katie M Ladd at Queen Anne United Methodist Church in Seattle WA, and Rev Michael McBride at the Way Christian Center in Berkeley CA, the last hope for prophetic Christianity in America.

Like the Movement for Black Lives, the 8 March 2017 women’s mobilisation was a grand sign of hope. It shattered the neoliberal hegemony of the Women’s March of 21 January 2017 over the “feminist” label. In stark contrast to the fashionable corporate feminism, boss feminism and top-down feminism of the corporate media, the 8 March women’s mobilisation put class matters, gender matters, and LGBTQ matters at the centre of race matters and empire matters. The historic moment of Standing Rock, in which indigenous nations came together in a struggle for sacred lands, self-respect, and control over resources was another grand sign of hope.

Race matters in the 21st century are part of a moral and spiritual war over resources, power, souls, and sensibilities. There can be no analysis of race matters without earth matters, class matters, gender matters, and sexuality matters and, especially, empire matters. We must have solidarity on all these fronts. As we fight back, we remember the great visionary and exemplary figures and movements of the past. These precious memories focus our attention on things that really matter… not spectacle, image, money, and status but integrity, honesty, dignity, and generosity. This focus locates and situates us in a long tradition of love warriors… not just polished professionals or glitzy celebrities… but courageous truth-tellers that fell in love with the quest for justice, freedom, and beauty.

14 January 2018

Cornel West

The Guardian

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jan/14/america-is-spiritually-bankrupt-we-must-fight-back-together

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Isn’t It My Country?

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I’m Ukrainian. Explain to me why I should praise Bandera if my grandfather died in Rovno at the hands of the fascists and their Banderovtsy running-dogs. Why should I have to go to kill my brother in the Donbass just because he protects his family from bandits who seized power in an armed coup, who sicced the army against our brothers? Why should I believe the “Ukrainian” media If I know that they lie? Why should I be silent and be afraid of SBU prisons or ultranationalist thugs in my country just because I know the truth and see their lies? Why should I have to go to Europe? I want to live in the Ukraine, in a Russian Ukraine, and teach my children in Russian… the language of my ancestors since the time of Kievan Rus. After all, why do I have to hide and be afraid to say that I’m a Russian Ukrainian? Why do I have to pay for rent and utilities more than I earn, even though no one asked me if I we should have these IMF loans on such terms and if we should have this association with the EU?

How will our fathers and grandfathers survive? Why do the oligarchs who stole everything that our parents created have so much? Why am I a foreigner in my own country? Why am I an outcast in my country and persecuted for my beliefs? I’m Ukrainian… yet, they can cheat, terrorise, humiliate, and kill me, and I can’t even strike back. If it’s the Ukraine, then, why do I, a Ukrainian, find it unbearable to live my life in my country? Isn’t it my country? Aren’t I the master of it? Why are Georgians, Americans, Jews, Balts, and Poles telling me how to live in my country? Hey… you politicians in Georgia, the USA, Israel, the Baltic states, and Poland! This is my country… it’s my Ukraine! I’m Ukrainian… a Russian Ukrainian. I’ll clean up my house if it needs it. Be good.

12 January 2018

Yuri Kot

Facebook

Friday, 12 January 2018

VVP Calls UAV Attack on Syrian Base “Provocation”… Describes Kim Jong-un as “Very Competent and Mature”

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President Putin said at a meeting with leading Russian media figures:

The UAV attack on the Russian base in Syria was a provocation aimed at destroying previous agreements. The provocateurs weren’t Turkish. We know who they are, who paid who for this provocation, and what the actual sum was. As for this kind of incident, there’s nothing good about them. These actions also aimed at undermining Russia’s relations with Turkey and Iran. We understand it perfectly well, so we’ll work together. The UAVs used in the attack on the Russian base in Syria were disguised as homemade items, but actually had high-tech equipment. As for these attacks, they were undoubtedly well-prepared. We know when and where these UAVs were handed over [to the attackers], and how many of them there were.

http://tass.com/politics/984721

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President Putin told leading Russian media figures:

We believe it’s necessary to conduct negotiations on the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula. The DPRK has nuclear weapons and an ICBM with a range of about 13,000 kilometres (8,078 miles), which can practically reach any point of the globe, at any rate, it can hit any potential enemy. Now, of course, [Kim] is interested in cooling the situation down. He’s a very competent and mature politician. I think that settlement of the Korean peninsula’s nuclear problem is possible in the end, no matter how difficult it might seem. This could happen if all participants in this process, including the DPRK, could be sure that they could guarantee their security without nuclear weapons.

http://tass.com/politics/984727

11 January 2018

TASS

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