Wednesday, December 16, 2015

What's Happening in Syria Now?


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Bashar al Assad is Protecting Christians in Syria: According to Obama, The Secular Government “Which Guarantees Religious Freedom Has to Go”
ISIS, Assad, and What the West is Missing About Syria
By Alessandra Nucci
Global Research, December 21, 201
Catholic World Report 15 December 2014
GR Editor’s Note
This incisive article by Catholic World Report confirms that the government of Bashar al Assad by combating the ISIS/Al Nusrah terrorists is committed to protecting Syria’s Christian community. It also reveals the unspoken truth: the Obama administration by bombing Syria is supporting the Islamic insurgency.
Even the mainstream media (Daily Telegraph, quoted by Catholic Reporter below) has acknowledged that:
“We should not be blind to the fact that there is a project out there to destroy [Syria's]  rich, pluralist, and unbelievably intricate culture and replace it with a monochrome version of Wahhabi Islam”.
What the Telegraph article fails to mention is that the “version of Wahhabism” has nothing to with Islam, it’s made in America, its a diabolical tool of US foreign policy. Wahhabi Islam is being used by Washington in liaison with America’s indefectible allies including Turkey and Saudi Arabia to wage an undeclared war on Syria.
US foreign  policy has nurtured Al Qaeda, a creation of the CIA for almost half a century, with the support of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and Saudi Arabia’s  infamous  General Intelligence Presidency (GIP).
And now the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, whose military and GIP intelligence services are routinely supporting the training, recruitment and financing of the Islamic State (ISIS) —  has configured a coalition of 34 countries “to go after the Islamic state”.
Theater of the absurd: those who support terrorism have initiated –with the blessing of the self proclaimed “international community”– a campaign against the terrorist organizations which they themselves have created.
Michel Chossudovsky, December 21, 2015
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Syria, once home to a unique, multireligious society, is being destroyed. The West is turning a blind eye to the real cause of the tragedy.
Last year Pope Francis called for a day of prayer and fasting for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and the whole world, setting the date for September 7 and himself presiding over a prayer vigil in Rome. In a recent piece for the Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan reports that in September of 2013,
“the American people spontaneously rose up and told Washington they would not back a bombing foray in Syria that would help the insurgents opposed to Bashar Assad. That public backlash was a surprise not only to the White House but to Republicans in Congress, who were—and I saw them—ashen-faced after the calls flooded their offices. It was such a shock to Washington that officials there still don’t talk about it and make believe it didn’t happen.”
That, of course, was before ISIS, the Islamic State, appeared on the scene, cutting through a third of Syria and Iraq and advancing rapidly, tragically, into the area with the strongest Christian presence in Iraq. A shocked world witnessed the ghastly beheadings of innocent Westerners, along with the displacement, raping, and murdering of Iraqi Christians and Yazidis, the looting and burning down of churches, and the marking out of Christian homes. The leaders of the Western world all vowed to take immediate action. The president of the United States solemnly committed to “degrade and destroy” ISIS. Yet in a matter of months, even the beheadings seem to have receded into the background. It would seem that if you dither long enough, even the most acute world-wide indignation will fade away, as observers become increasingly inured to outrages. Only days after President Obama’s solemn denunciaton, the anti-government Syrian “rebels” announced a deal with ISIS. What for? To join forces against their common enemy: Bashar al-Assad.
Despite a stunning one-time-only admission by President Obama to a delegation of patriarchs in Washington last September—in which he reportedly said, “We know Assad has been protecting the Christians” the bipartisan attitude towards the Syrian government has continued to hover between aloof and openly hostile.
The depiction of Assad by credible witnesses is quite different. Speaking at a private meeting held at the Veritatis Splendor Diocesan Center in Bologna, Italy last October, Msgr. Giuseppe Nazzaro, former apostolic visitor to Aleppo and former Custodian of the Holy Land, had this to say:
[Assad] opened the country up to foreign trade, to tourism within the country and from abroad, to freedom of movement and of education for both men and women. Before the protests started, the number of women in the professional world had been constantly increasing, the university was open to all, and there was no discrimination on the basis of sex. The country was at peace, prosperity was on the rise, and human rights were respected. A common home and fatherland to many ethnicities and 23 different religious groups, Syria has always been a place where all were free to believe and live out their creed, all relationships were characterized by mutual respect. The freedom that is purportedly being brought to us by the rebels is precisely what this rebellion has taken away from us.
Msgr. Nazzaro was also among the heads of the Churches of the Middle East who were invited to speak at the UN headquarters in Geneva on September 16, where he denounced the “massacres and the atrocities, together with the crimes against humanity” committed  by the Islamic State in both Syria and Iraq. The Syrians pinned great hopes on this meeting, but were bitterly disappointed.
Syrian Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan, in Rome for the recent synod on the family, told about the time the host of a French prime-time news program asked him about Syria’s “awful president,” saying, “He’s a monster. He’s killing innocent people, children and women.” To which Patriarch Younan replied with the story of a Capuchin priest from a Syrian town on the Euphrates River which is 98 percent Sunni Muslim. The Capuchin told Younan that as the town was being attacked by anti-government rebels, he sheltered four Missionaries of Charity sisters and 12 elderly women in their care within his parish center. When the situation was no longer sustainable, the Capuchin said, the nuns called Damascus. “And Damascus sent military vehicles to evacuate [them] from the parish compound—there were the nuns, 12 elderly people, and [the Capuchin], and they took all to safety, in Damascus.”
“Now,” Patriarch Younan had said to the French news-show host, “you can judge for yourself if this person, Assad, is a monster or not.”
The West’s dogged insistence on doing away with Mr. Assad first—considering this a priority even with respect to stopping the ISIS cutthroats—is predicated on the existence of “moderate Muslims” among the machine-gun toting rebels. But if they will not listen to the Christians, then why don’t they look for moderates among the Muslims who don’t sack and pillage and are in fact against the war? In Syria, the tradition of peaceful, brotherly coexistence among religions is a national trait of which all Syrian groups have always been proud, including Syrian Muslims, for whom the differences between Sunnis and Shiia are not cause to rend the fabric of the nation. “Although Syria is a Muslim-majority country, Syrians reject radicalism and the Islam they practice is a moderate form of Islam,” confirmed Msgr. Mario Zenari, current apostolic nuncio to Syria, in a recent interview with Vatican Radio.
A good example is the Grand Mufti of Syria. An intriguing figure, Dr. Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun is a staunch supporter of the need for a dialogue among religions, a cause to which he has dedicated more than just words. Faced with personal tribulation when his 22-year-old son was killed two years ago in retaliation for his father’s recognition of the Assad government, he has never spoken of revenge. “I’ve always explained,” he said in an interview with Italian daily Il Giornale, “that if Mohammed had asked us to kill, he would not have been a Prophet of the Lord. This is why I have forgiven my son’s murderer and  I ask all those who undergo a tragedy of this kind to do likewise.”
In a press conference on the plane home from Turkey on November 28, Pope Francis  called on Muslim leaders worldwide to speak out and condemn all violence committed in the name of their faith, asking them to declare that “this is not Islam.” “We all need a world condemnation,” said the Pontiff, “including by the Muslims, who have that identity and who should say: ‘That is not who we are. The Qu’ran is not this thing here.’”
This is precisely what Dr. Hassoun has been doing. He tells the young Muslims swarming in from everywhere to fight against the Syrian government “not to sell out your brains.”
“Our religion teaches peace, not war,” he said in his Il Giornale interview. “To these young people, I ask that they study the Qu’ran well and not believe those who exort them to go fight abroad. A good Muslim travels to build peace, not to fight.”
With regard to Christians, when Msgr. Giovanni Battista Morandini—the apostolic nuncio—left Syria and retired to Italy, the Grand Mufti sent word to then-Pope Benedict XVI that “Christians are full-fledged Syrians, Syria is their home, they shouldn’t abandon it; wherever they go they will always be foreigners, which they aren’t in Syria, because here they are  in their own home.”
For their part, the Christian clerics of Syria return the compliment. Melkite Catholic Patriarch Gregorios III Laham never tires of reminding the faithful that Christian Arabs have a specific mission. “The ‘Church of the Arabs,’” he said in an interview with AsiaNews, “means the Church of Jesus Christ, which lives in an Arabian setting and in a profound and intimate relationship with the Arab world, with its pain and its hopes, its joys and its sorrows, its problems and its crisis. The Church is Emmanuel, a Church with, for and in this Arab society, without forgetting its Arab roots and nature, thanks to our history and our geography.”
This is the civilization that Western world is helping tear down by dragging its feet in going after the Islamic State.
In the Middle East, apart from the Kurdish peshmerga, the only army with any clout that has taken on ISIS is Assad’s. But Assad must go.
A  secular administration, with widely popular multireligious support, which has guaranteed religious freedom in what remains to this day a Muslim-majority country, has to go.
Scores of authoritative figures, as well as the thousands who voted in the elections, are ready to attest that Assad has not committed genocide, and indeed has been protecting his people. Yet at all costs, he must go.
In the meantime, ISIS has entrenched itself further into the territory carved out of Iraq and Syria, and has so far advanced in building itself a nation that it is reported to be working on a national currency. ISIS’s tentacles have reached Libya, where it has taken over the town of Darnah, now an outpost of the Caliphate. Darnah used to be home to poets, merchants, ministers, and the religious; today it a place where they behead young people for posting unapproved words on Facebook. The graffiti on the walls of Darnah’s main square say “No to al-Qaeda” because ISIS considers the al-Qaedists to be a bunch of unacceptably moderate sissies. Eight hundred miles from Rome, Darnah will be ISIS’s starting place if they carry out their repeated intentions to attack the capital of Christianity.
Consider that the fighting on the ground has been delegated to the Kurdish people, including many brave women soldiers, but NATO-member Turkey—wary lest Kurds gain in strength and advance their historical demand for an independent Kurdistan—lets reinforcements and truckloads of supplies flow freely across its border into the hands of ISIS.
As it was observed in Britain’s Daily Telegraph,
If the  insurgents win the war, there will be no Christian churches in Syria any more (just as there aren’t in Saudi Arabia at the moment). Life will be similarly terrible for many of the ordinary Muslims who make up the great majority of the population.
There are no “good guys” in Syria’s civil war. But we should not be blind to the fact that there is a project out there to destroy its rich, pluralist, and unbelievably intricate culture and replace it with a monochrome version of Wahhabi Islam, of the kind favoured by Saudi mullahs. And for reasons that history may come to judge very severely, Britain, the United States, and the West have been aiding and abetting this project. (emphasis added by GR)
This, in so many words, is the message that so many Christian religious figures—nuns, priests, and patriarchs of various different traditions—have been trying to convey to the West, through anyone willing to listen.
Alessandra Nucci is an Italian author and journalist.
The original source of this article is Catholic World Report
Copyright © Alessandra Nucci, Catholic World Report, 2015

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Kerry and Nuland in Moscow: Has the U.S. Ended Its Opposition to Democracy in Syria?
By Eric Zuesse
Global Research, December 16, 2015
For the first time today (December 15th), the United States has publicly and officially accepted the position that Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon have consistently held on the Syrian situation: that only a free and fair internationally monitored and accepted election of Syria’s President by the people of Syria can legitimately determine whom the President of Syria ought to be, and that no Syrian citizen, not even the current Syrian President Bashar al-Assad if he decides to be a candidate, can be blocked by any foreign power from being a candidate in that election.
The way that Ban ki-Moon, or Mr. Ban, had expressed this “demand” is:
“I believe that the future of Syria, or the future of the peace talks, … should not be held up by an issue of the future of one man. I believe that it is up to the Syrian people who have to decide the future of President Assad.”
“The future of Assad must be determined by the Syrian people.”
As the present reporter had noted, headlining on November 15th, “U.S. Yields to Russia’s Insistence Upon Democracy in Syria””the agreement is said to specify that, by 14 December 2015, diplomats will reconvene to discuss any residual issues,” and this meant that, until this “reconvening” would be over, nothing would be final. Now that the second meeting is completed and the agreement is publicly affirmed without changes, the agreement has become official.
Here (as stated in my previous article) are the next steps that are specified in this agreement:
On 1 January 2016, the UN will then convene formal negotiations between the Syrian government and its political opponents who are not involved in terrorist activities. Obviously, defining who those parties are will be highly contentious between the U.S. and its allies, and Russia and its allies.On 14 May 2016, free elections will be held in Syria, administered by the UN.
The agreement specifies that the war against jihadist groups, all of which have been trying to bring down the Syrian government, will continue. This provision of the agreement recognizes the unacceptable role that these groups, such as Al Nusra (Al Qaeda in Syria) and ISIS, play in bombings not only in France but throughout Europe and the Middle East. The agreement won’t say whether those groups may participate in the elections, but it will specify that the war against those groups can continue, even while the peace process in Syria is being implemented. The “ceasefire” won’t apply to efforts to wipe out those jihadist groups, which are illegal in Syria.
Above and beyond those details, the atmospherics of the way that the current meeting ended, add further confirmation to the significance of what has transpired here.
In the AP’s accompanying video (below) of the closing announcement (pictured right), Putin enters the room with a smile on his face and greets the U.S. team including Secretary of State John Kerry and his Assistant Secretary Victoria Nuland, by warmly shaking Kerry’s hand and being warmly greeted by him, and then by (at 0:27 in the video) approaching and shaking hands with what is evidently a stand-offish if not hostile Nuland, as he bends slightly toward her and she bends slightly backward, with a facial expression that’s not entirely clear but doesn’t look at all friendly.
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Kerry is looking at Nuland’s face with what appears to be concerned worry, and the two other members of his team are looking down at the two shaking hands; one of those two members, the woman, looks down at the handshake sporting a quizzical expression such as if to say, “Victoria can’t be enjoying this eating-of-crow.”
Nuland is a close friend of Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and was brought by Hillary into the Obama State Department after having previously been Vice President Dick Cheney’s Foreign Affairs Advisor. Her Husband, Robert Kagan, like others of his family, Fred Kagan, Donald Kagan, and Kimberly Kagan(the wife of Fred Kagan), all share a visceral hatred of Russia, and all of them also share instant entrée into the offices of almost any Republican member of Congress, and of almost all of the top or Presidential level of the Democratic Party, such as the Clintons and Obama, and their respective advisory friends. So, the Kagan clan pass easily as “neoconservatives” and “neoliberals” but, in any case, as ‘respectable’ haters of Vladimir Putin, and as passionate supporters of anyone in Russia who might be able to aid the U.S. aristocracy to bring him down and to restore post-Soviet Russia to control by the U.S. aristocracy as it had been under Boris Yeltsin.
Kerry had been advised by both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to rely upon Nuland to become his chief Assistant Secretary, and even before Kerry became the new Secretary of State, Nuland was already actively working in the State Department to plan and organize a coup to bring down Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in order to enable Ukraine to become admitted ultimately into NATO and serve as a missile base against Moscow, right on Russia’s border. She installed anti-Russian racist fascists, ideological nazis, into the post-coup Ukrainian government. When Kerry finally had had enough of this, he contradicted her in public, and Obama backed Nuland and Kerry was sidelined from the Ukrainian issue for a while. This time, it’s Nuland who must eat crow.
The uprising against Assad had been in the planning stages from the very moment that Obama had entered the White House in 2009, but finally he seems to have decided that he himself will have to eat crow on this one. Kerry in that video seems pleased: he’s not being embarrassed this time, by his President, his boss.
The Russian Television (RT) video from the press conference in the morning presents Kerry sitting next to Nuland and praising both Putin and Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, while Nuland starts to look down at around 0:50 on the video after Kerry says, “Russia made a significant contribution to the dialogue,” and yet again at 1:00 looks down when he says “Russia has been a significant contributor to the progress that we have been able to make.” Then, he says directly to Lavrov, “You personally have been a co-convenor,” and she yet again looks down, but this time even looks away, at her notes.
These results are a victory for Putin and his team, and for Kerry personally, and for the people of Syria, but not for the U.S. President and his closest advisors. Kerry has been isolated within this Gladio Obama Administration, but nonetheless has achieved positive results, whereas Kerry’s predecessor in his office had been a failure, as her entire record in public life has been, for everyone except her corporate sponsors.
Those sponsors never give up, however. They might have lost a battle on this, but certainly not the war, which will continue.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.
The original source of this article is Global Research
Copyright © Eric Zuesse, Global Research, 2015
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Canada’s Band-Aid Approach to Refugees. Canada Sells Weapons to Saudi Arabia which Funds and Arms the Terrorists
By Mark Taliano
Global Research, December 16, 2015
Canada is currently branding itself in terms of humanitarianism, and the concrete gesture of accepting Syrian refugees – of which families, women, children, and gay men and women are prioritized — is laudable, and no doubt a godsend to those seeking refuge from the foreign mercenary terrorists who are invading Syria.
But the photo-ops also serve to obfuscate the correct diagnosis and cure for the disease afflicting Syria.
When Canada sells military equipment to Saudi Arabia, Canada is part of the
disease. More importantly, Canada contributes to the cause of the disease metastasizing overseas when it chooses to ally itself with the cancer rather than the cure.
The cancer is NATO and its allies, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Jordan.  We are the countries funding the terrorists,  and we are the cancer that purportedly wants to illegally impose regime change in Syria. Canada’s newly-minted Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjan — amidst unproven allegations about President al-Assad’s “brutality”— asserted, after all, that “President Assad, he does need to go”.
Decoded, this means that Canada supports the U.S strategy, as outlined by a 2012 Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) document, to use criminal terrorists — most recently branded as ISIS — to destroy the sovereign country of Syria and topple its legal government, headed by President Bashar al-Assad

Canada, in association with NATO and its allies, wants to make Syria safe for terrorists, and some form of theocracy, consistent with the on-going NATO strategy of using fanatical terrorists to  destroy Iraq, Libya, and Ukraine.
Iraq is still infested with Western-allied terrorists – where there were none before that illegal invasion.  Libya is now infested with terrorists – the same ones supported by NATO during its  illegal regime-change operation; and Ukraine is infested with neo-Nazi associated terrorists,  elements of which were suppressed prior to NATO meddling
Unlike Western “interventions” in Syria, Russia’s intervention conforms to the the rule of international law: President Assad solicited Russia’s military assistance into Syria, and the UN Security Council approved it. So, while Russia is making Syria safe for Syrians, the West is doing the opposite
Russia’s military assistance, if successful, will cure the terror disease in Syria, and therefore solve the refugee problem by making Syria safe for everyone, including families, women, children, and homosexuals
If the direct causes of terrorism are not identified and addressed, the flood of refugees will continue, and more countries will be impacted by Terror Inc
On the one hand, NATO countries are enabling and supporting terrorism, while on the other, they are saving face, and hiding their criminality, by accepting refugees. From a public relations point of view, it works.  But if NATO’s intentions were humanitarian, it would stop supporting the terrorists
It shouldn’t be complicated. There wouldn’t be refugees if the disease was correctly diagnosed and treated.  Band-Aid solutions are easing the pain, but they are not the cure
The original source of this article is Global Researc
Copyright © Mark Taliano, Global Research, 201
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Blocking Real Democracy as Syria’s Solution
By Robert Parry
Global Research, December 15, 2015
Consortium News 12 December 2015
Note: The long-cherished neocon dream of “regime change” in Syria is blocking a possible route out of the crisis – a ceasefire followed by elections in which President Assad could compete. The problem is there’s no guarantee that Assad would lose and thus the dream might go unfulfilled, writes Robert Parry.
The solution to the crisis in Syria could be democracy – letting the people of Syria decide who they want as their leaders – but it is the Obama administration and its regional Sunni “allies,” including U.S.-armed militants and jihadists, that don’t want to risk a democratic solution because it might not achieve the long-held goal of “regime change.”
Some Syrian opposition forces, which were brought together under the auspices of the Saudi monarchy in Riyadh this past week, didn’t even want the word “democracy” included in their joint statement. The New York Times reported on Friday, “Islamist delegates objected to using the word ‘democracy’ in the final statement, so the term ‘democratic mechanism’ was used instead, according to a member of one such group who attended the meeting.”
Secretary of State John Kerry at a press conference on Dec. 4, 2015. (State Department photo)
Even that was too much for Ahrar al-Sham, one of the principal jihadist groups fighting side-by-side with Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front, the two key elements inside the Saudi-created Army of Conquest, which uses sophisticated U.S.-supplied TOW missiles to kill Syrian government troops.
Ahrar al-Sham announced its withdrawal from the Riyadh conference because the meeting didn’t “confirm the Muslim identity of our people.” Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has sought to maintain a secular government that protects the rights of Christians, Alawites, Shiites and other religious minorities, but Sunni militants have been fighting to overthrow him since 2011.
Despite Ahrar al-Sham’s rejection of the Saudi-organized conference, all the opposition participants, including one from Ahrar al-Sham who apparently wasn’t aware of his group’s announcement, signed the agreement, the Times reported.
“All parties signed a final statement that called for maintaining the unity of Syria and building a civil, representative government that would take charge after a transitional period, at the start of which Mr. Assad and his associates would step down,” wrote Times’ correspondent Ben Hubbard.
But the prospects of Assad and his government just agreeing to cede power to the opposition remains highly unlikely. An obvious alternative – favored by Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin – is to achieve a ceasefire and then have internationally supervised elections in which the Syrian people could choose their own leaders.
Although President Barack Obama insists Assad is hated by most Syrians – and
if that’s true, he would presumably lose any fair election – the U.S. position is to bar Assad from the ballot, thus ensuring “regime change” in Syria, a long-held goal of Official Washington’s neoconservatives.
In other words, to fulfill the neocons’ dream of Syrian “regime change,” the Obama administration is continuing the bloody Syrian conflict which has killed a quarter million people, has created an opening for Islamic State and Al Qaeda terrorists, and has driven millions of refugees into and through nearby countries, now destabilizing Europe and feeding xenophobia in the United States.
For his part, Assad called participants in the Saudi conference “terrorists” and rejected the idea of negotiating with them. “They want the Syrian government to negotiate with the terrorists, something I don’t think anyone would accept in any country,” Assad told Spanish journalists, as he repeated his position that many of the terrorists were backed by foreign governments and that he would only “deal with the real, patriotic national opposition.”
Kinks in the Process
Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters on Friday that he was in contact with senior Saudi officials and noted, “there are some questions and obviously a couple of – in our judgment – kinks to be worked out” though expressing confidence that the problems could be resolved.
A key problem appears to be that the Obama administration has so demonized Assad and so bought into the neocon goal of “regime change” that Obama doesn’t feel that he can back down on his “Assad must go!” mantra. Yet, to force Assad out and bar him from running in an election means escalating the war by either further arming the Sunni jihadists or mounting a larger-scale invasion of Syria with the U.S. military confronting Syrian and now Russian forces to establish what is euphemistically called “a safe zone” inside Syria. A related “no-fly zone” would require destroying Syrian air defenses, now supplied by the Russians.
Obama has largely followed the first course of action, allowing Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and other Sunni “allies” to funnel U.S. weapons to jihadists, including Ahrar al-Sham which fights alongside Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front as the two seek to transform Syria into a Islamic fundamentalist state, a goal shared by Al Qaeda’s spinoff (and now rival), the Islamic State.
Retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, has termed Obama’s choice of aiding the jihadists a “willful decision,” even in the face of DIA warnings about the likely rise of the Islamic State and other extremists.
In August 2012, DIA described the danger in a classified report, which noted that “The salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI [Al Qaeda in Iraq, later ISI or ISIS and then the Islamic State] are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria.” The report also said that “If the situation unravels there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared salafist principality in eastern Syria” and that “ISI could also declare an Islamic State through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria.”
Despite these risks, Obama continued to insist that “Assad must go!” and let his administration whip up a propaganda campaign around claims that Assad’s forces launched a sarin gas attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013. Though many of the U.S. claims about that attack have since been discredited – and later evidence implicated radical jihadists (possibly collaborating with Turkish intelligence) trying to trick the U.S. military into intervening on their side – the Obama administration did not retract or clarify its initial claims.
By demonizing Assad – much like the demonization of Russian President Putin – Obama may feel that he is deploying “soft power” propaganda to put foreign adversaries on the defensive while also solidifying his political support inside hawkish U.S. opinion circles, but false narratives can take on a life of their own and make rational settlements difficult if not impossible.
Now, even though the Syrian crisis has become a tsunami threatening to engulf Europe with a refugee crisis and the United States with anti-Muslim hysteria, Obama can’t accept the most obvious solution: compel all reasonable sides to accept a ceasefire and hold an internationally supervised election in which anyone who wants to lead the country can stand before the voters.
If Obama is right about the widespread hatred of Assad, then there should be nothing to worry about. The Syrian people will dictate “regime change” through the ballot box.
Democracy – supposedly one of the U.S. government’s goals for Middle East countries – can be the answer to the problem. However, since democracy can be an unpredictable process, it might not guarantee “regime change” which apparently makes democracy an unsuitable solution for Syria.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).
The original source of this article is Consortium News
Copyright © Robert Parry, Consortium News, 2015
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Bashar Al-Assad Has More Popular Support than the Western-Backed “Opposition”: Poll
By Stephen Gowans
Global Research, December 14, 2015
What's Left 11 December 2015
In the view of Syrians, the country’s president, Bashar al Assad, and his ally, Iran, have more support than do the forces arrayed against him, according to a public opinion poll taken last summer by a research firm that is working with the US and British governments. [1]
The poll’s findings challenge the idea that Assad has lost legitimacy and that the opposition has broad support.
The survey, conducted by ORB International, a company which specializes in public opinion research in fragile and conflict environments, [2] found that 47 percent of Syrians believe that Assad has a positive influence in Syria, compared to only 35 percent for the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and 26 percent for the Syrian Opposition Coalition.
At the same time, more see Assad’s ally, Iran, as having a favorable influence (43%) than view the Arab Gulf States—which back the external opposition, including Al Nusra and ISIS—as affecting Syria favorably (37%).
The two Arab Gulf State-backed Al-Qaeda linked organizations command some degree of support in Syria, according to the poll. One-third believe Al-Nusra is having a positive influence, compared to one-fifth for ISIS, lower than the proportion of Syrians who see Assad’s influence in a positive light.
According to the poll, Assad has majority support in seven of 14 Syrian regions, and has approximately as much support in one, Aleppo, as do Al-Nusra and the FSA. ISIS has majority support in only one region, Al Raqua, the capital of its caliphate. Al-Nusra, the Al-Qaeda franchise in Syria, has majority support in Idlip and Al Quneitra as well as in Al Raqua. Support for the FSA is strong in Idlip, Al Quneitra and Daraa.

An in-country face-to-face ORB poll conducted in May 2014 arrived at similar conclusions. That poll found that more Syrians believe the Assad government best represents their interests and aspirations than believe the same about any of the opposition groups. [3]
The poll found that 35 percent of Syrians saw the Assad government as best representing them (20% chose the current government and 15% chose Bashar al-Assad). By comparison, the level of the support for the opposition forces was substantially weaker:
• Al-Nusra, 9%
• FSA, 9%
• “Genuine” rebels, 6%
• ISIS, 4%
• National Coalition/transitional government, 3%
The sum of support for the opposition forces, 31 percent, was less than the total support for Assad and his government.
Of significance is the weak support for the FSA and the “genuine” rebels, the
alleged “moderates” of which British prime minister David Cameron has improbably claimed number as many 70,000 militants. Veteran Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk has pointed out that if the ranks of the moderates were this large, the Syrian Arab Army, which has lost 60,000 soldiers, mainly to ISIS and Al-Nusra, could hardly survive. Fisk estimates generously that “there are 700 active ‘moderate’ foot soldiers in Syria,” and concludes that “the figure may be nearer 70,” closer to their low level of popular support. [4]
Sixteen percent of Syrians polled said that Moaz Al Khateeb best represented their aspirations and interests, a level of support on par with that for Assad. Khateeb, a former president of the National Coalition for Syrian and Revolutionary Forces—which some Western powers unilaterally designated as the legitimate government of Syria—called on Western powers to arm the FSA and opposed the designation of Al-Nusra as a terrorist group. The so-called “moderate” Islamist, who favors the replacement of secular rule with Sharia law, is no longer active in the Coalition or a force in Syrian politics.
Neither is the FSA a significant force in the country’s politics, despite its inclusion in the ORB survey. According to veteran Middle East correspondent Patrick Cockburn, the FSA “largely collapsed at the end of 2013.” [5] Fisk says that the FSA is “virtually non-existent.” [6]
Assad has repeatedly challenged the notion that he lacks popular support, pointing to the fact that his government has survived nearly five years of war against forces backed by the most powerful states on the planet. It’s impossible to realistically conceive of the government’s survival under these challenging circumstances, he argues, without its having the support of a sizeable part of its population.
In a 11 December 2015 interview with Spanish media, Assad observed:
[I]f…the majority of…Syrians (oppose me) and you have…national and regional countries…against me, and the West, most of the West, the United States, their allies, the strongest countries and the richest countries in the world against me, and…the Syrian people (are opposed to me) how can I be president? It’s not logical. I’m…here after five years—nearly five years—of war, because I have the support of the majority of Syrians. [7]
Assad’s view of his level of support appears to be largely corroborated by the ORB poll.
The persistence of the myth that Assad lacks support calls to mind an article written by Jonathan Steele in the British newspaper the Guardian on 17 January 2012, less than one year into the war. Under a lead titled, “Most Syrians back President Assad, but you’d never know it from western media,” Steele wrote:
Suppose a respectable opinion poll found that most Syrians are in favor of Bashar al-Assad remaining as president, would that not be major news? Especially as the finding would go against the dominant narrative about the Syrian crisis, and the media consider the unexpected more newsworthy than the obvious.
Alas, not in every case. When coverage of an unfolding drama ceases to be fair and turns into a propaganda weapon, inconvenient facts get suppressed. So it is with the results of a recent YouGov Siraj poll…ignored by almost all media outlets in every western country whose government has called for Assad to go.
Steele reminds us that Assad has had substantial popular support from the beginning of the war, but that this truth, being politically inconvenient, is brushed aside, indeed, suppressed, in favor of falsehoods from US, British and French officials about Assad lacking legitimacy.
Steele’s observation that inconvenient facts about Assad’s level of support have been “ignored by almost all media outlets in every western country whose government has called for Assad to go,” raises obvious questions about the independence of the Western media. Private broadcasters and newspapers are, to be sure, formally independent of Western governments, but they embrace the same ideology as espoused by key figures in Western governments, a state of affairs that arises from the domination of both media and governments by significant corporate and financial interests. Major media themselves are major corporations, with a big business point of view, and Western governments are made up of, if not always “in-and-outers” from the corporate world, by those who are sympathetic to big business.
Wall Street and the corporate world manifestly have substantial interests in the Middle East, from securing investment opportunities in the region’s vast energy resources sector, the construction of pipelines to carry natural gas to European markets (cutting out Russia), access to the region’s markets, and the sale of military hardware to its governments. Saudi Arabia, for example, a country of only 31 million, has the world’s third largest military budget, ahead of Russia [8], much of its spent buying expensive military equipment from Western arms manufacturers. Is it any wonder that Western governments indulge the Riyadh regime, despite its fondness for beheadings and amputations, official misogyny, intolerance of democracy, propagation of the violently sectarian Islamist Wahhabi ideology that inspires Al-Qaeda, Al-Nusra and ISIS, military intervention in Bahrain to crush a pro-democracy uprising, and a war of aggression on Yemen?
The research firm also conducted a broadly similar poll in Iraq in July [9]. Of particular interest were the survey’s findings regarding the view of Iraqis on the possible partitioning of their country into ethno-sectarian autonomous regions. A number of US politicians, including in 2006 then US senator and now US vice-president Joseph Biden, have floated the idea of carving Iraq into Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish states. Indeed, US foreign policy has long fostered the deepening of ethno-sectarian cleavages in Iraq, and US government officials have long labored to shape public opinion in the West to the view that Iraqis self-identify on tribal, sectarian, and ethnic grounds, to a far greater degree than they identify as Iraqis. If US government officials are to be believed, Iraqis themselves are eager to see their country split into ethno-sectarian mini-states.
But the ORB poll strongly rejects this view. According to the survey, three of four Iraqis oppose the partition of their country into autonomous regions, including majorities in both Sunni and Shiite communities. Only in the north of Iraq, where the Kurds already have an autonomous regional government, is there any degree of support for the proposal, and even there, only a slim majority (54%) is in favor.
Robert F. Worth, in a 26 June 2014 New York Times article [10], pointed to earlier public opinion polling that anticipated these findings. Worth wrote, “For the most part, Iraqis (with the exception of the Kurds) reject the idea of partition, according to recent interviews and opinion polls taken several years ago.”
US foreign policy favors the promotion of centrifugal forces in the Middle East, to split the Arab world into ever smaller—and squabbling—mini-states, as a method of preventing its coalescence into a single powerful Arab union strong enough to take control of its own resources, markets and destiny. It is in this goal that the origin of US hostility to the Syrian government, which is Arab nationalist, and to Iraqi unity, can be found. US support for Israel—a settler outpost dividing the Asian and African sections of the Arab nation—is also related to the same US foreign policy objective of fostering divisions in the Middle East to facilitate US economic domination of the region.
Notes
4. Robert Fisk, “David Cameron, there aren’t 70,000 moderate fighters in Syria—and whosever heard of a moderate with a Kalashnikov anyway?”, The Independent, November 29, 2015
5. Patrick Cockburn, “Syria and Iraq: Why US policy is fraught with danger ,“ The Independent, September 9, 2014
6. Robert Fisk, “Saudi Arabia’s unity summit will only highlight Arab disunity,” The Independent, December 4, 2015
7. “President al-Assad: Russia’s policy towards Syria is based on values and interests, the West is not serious in fighting terrorists,” Syrian Arab News Agency, December 11, 2015, http://sana.sy/en/?p=63857
8. Source is The Military Balance, cited in The Globe and Mail, Report on Business, November 25, 2015
10. Robert F. Worth, “Redrawn lines seen as no cure in Iraq conflict,” The New York Times, June 26, 2014
The original source of this article is What's Left
Copyright © Stephen Gowans, What's Left, 2015
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Twenty-six Things About the Islamic State (ISIL) that Obama Does Not Want You to Know About
By Prof Michel Chossudovsky
Global Research, December 15, 2015
Global Research 18 November 2014
Article was first published in November 2014. 

Recent developments confirm what is known and documented: Washington is behind the Islamic State (ISIS) and at the same time it is behind the moderate Al Qaeda terrorists, which the Obama administration is supporting as part of America’s campaign against the Islamic State (ISIS). And they expect us to believe that they are committed to waging a campaign against terrorists.
The Islamic State (ISIS) was until 2014 called al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI).
Al Nusra is an al Qaeda affiliate which has committed countless atrocities in Syria.  It is now considered by the Obama administration as the “Moderate Opposition”.
America’s “anti-terrorist campaign’ consists in supporting a so-called “moderate” Al  Qaeda entity (Al Nusra)  with a view to going after another al Qaeda entity entitled The Islamic State, formerly designated as Al Qaeda in Iraq. 
“Al Qaeda is going after Al Qaeda”, and both wings of al Qaeda are supported covertly by US intelligence.
Both ISIS and Al Nusra are protected by the Western military alliance. Both Al Qaeda entities are used to destroy Syria and Iraq. The air campaign allegedly against ISIS does not target ISIS, it targets Syria and Iraq, schools, hospitals, factories, residential areas, government buildings, roads, bridges, etc.
Both Al Qaeda affiliated entities are being used to destroy Iraq and Syria as nation states.
The terrorists  are the foot-soldiers of the Western military alliance.
US-NATO-Israel are state sponsors of terrorism, providing training, weapons and money to various terrorist formations.
The endgame is “regime change” in Syria and the fragmentation of Iraq. 
Michel Chossudovsky, September 03, 201
The US led war against  the Islamic State is a big lie
Going after ” Islamic terrorists”, carrying out a worldwide pre-emptive war to “Protect the American Homeland” are used to justify a military agenda
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is a creation of US intelligence. Washington’s “Counter-terrorism Agenda” in Iraq and Syria consists in Supporting the Terrorists. 
The incursion of the Islamic State (IS) brigades into Iraq starting in June 2014 was part of a carefully planned military-intelligence operation supported covertly by the US, NATO and Israe
The counter-terrorism mandate is a fiction. America is the Number One “State Sponsor of Terrorism”
The Islamic State is protected by the US and its allies. If they had wanted to eliminate the Islamic State brigades, they could have “carpet” bombed their convoys of Toyota pickup trucks when they crossed the desert from Syria into Iraq in June. 
The  Syro-Arabian Desert is open territory (see map below). With state of the art jet fighter aircraft (F15, F22 Raptor, CF-18) it would have been  -from a military standpoint-  a rapid and expedient surgical operation.
In this article, we address 26 concepts which refute the big lie.  Portrayed by the media as a humanitarian undertaking, this large scale military operation directed against Syria and Iraq has resulted in countless civilian deaths.
It could not have been undertaken without the unbending support of  the Western media which has upheld Obama’s initiative as a counter-terrorism operation. 
The Historical Origins of Al Qaed
1. The US has supported Al Qaeda and its affiliated organizations for almost half a century since the heyday of the Soviet Afghan war.
2. CIA training camps were set up in Pakistan.  In the ten year period from 1982 to 1992, some 35,000 jihadists from 43 Islamic countries were recruited by the CIA to fight in the Afghan jihad
“Advertisements, paid for from CIA funds, were placed in newspapers and newsletters around the world offering inducements and motivations to join the Jihad.
3. Since the Reagan Administration, Washington has supported the Islamic terror network.
Ronald Reagan called the terrorists “freedom fighters”. The US supplied weapons to the Islamic brigades.  It was all for “a good cause”: fighting the Soviet Union and regime change, leading to the demise of a secular government in Afghanistan.
Ronald Reagan meets Afghan Mujahideen Commanders at the White House in 1985 (Reagan Archives
4. Jihadist textbooks  were  published by the University of Nebraska. “. “The United States spent millions of dollars to supply Afghan schoolchildren with textbooks filled with violent images and militant Islamic teachings
5. Osama bin Laden, America’s bogyman and founder of Al Qaeda was recruited by the CIA in 1979 at the very outset of the US sponsored jihadist war against Afghanistan . He was 22 years old and was trained in a CIA sponsored guerilla training camp
Al Qaeda was not behind the 9/11 Attacks. September 11, 2001 provided a justification for waging a war against Afghanistan on the grounds that Afghanistan was a state sponsor of terrorism, supportive of Al Qaeda. The 9/11 attacks were instrumental in the formulation of the “Global War on Terrorism”.
The Islamic State (ISIL)
6. The Islamic State (ISIL) was originally an Al Qaeda affiliated entity created by US intelligence with the support of Britain’s MI6, Israel’s Mossad, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Saudi Arabia’s General Intelligence Presidency (GIP), Ri’āsat Al-Istikhbārāt Al-’Āmah ( رئاسة الاستخبارات العامة‎).
China unlikely to join Obama's anti-ISIS coalition: Report
7. The ISIL brigades were involved in the US-NATO supported insurgency in Syria directed against the government of  Bashar al Assad.
8.  NATO and the Turkish High Command were responsible for the recruitment of ISIL and Al Nusrah mercenaries from the outset of the Syrian insurgency in March 2011. According to Israeli intelligence sources, this initiative consisted in:
“a campaign to enlist thousands of Muslim volunteers in Middle East countries and the Muslim world to fight alongside the Syrian rebels. The Turkish army would house these volunteers, train them and secure their passage into Syria." (DEBKAfile, NATO to give rebels anti-tank weapons, August 14, 2011.)
9.There are Western Special Forces and Western intelligence operatives within the ranks of the ISIL. British Special Forces and MI6 have been involved in training jihadist rebels in Syria.
10. Western military specialists on contract to the Pentagon have trained the terrorists in the use of chemical weapons.
“The United States and some European allies are using defense contractors to train Syrian rebels on how to secure chemical weapons stockpiles in Syria, a senior U.S. official and several senior diplomats told CNN Sunday. ( CNN Report, December 9, 2012)
11. The ISIL’s practice of beheadings is part of the US sponsored terrorist training programs implemented in Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
12. Recruited by America’s ally, a large number of ISIL mercenaries are convicted criminals released from Saudi prisons on condition they join the ISIL. Saudi death row inmates were recruited to join the terror brigades. 
Jihadist fighters have met Israeli IDF officers as well as Prime Minister Netanyahu. The IDF top brass tacitly acknowledges that “global jihad elements inside Syria” [ISIL and Al Nusrah] are supported by Israel. See  image below:
“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon next to a wounded mercenary, Israeli military field hospital at the occupied Golan Heights’ border with Syria, 18 February 2014″
Syria and Iraq
14 The ISIL are the foot soldiers  of the Western military alliance. Their unspoken mandate is to wreck havoc and destruction in Syria and Iraq, acting on behalf of their US sponsors.
15. US Senator John McCain has met up with jihadist terrorist leaders in Syria. (see picture right)
16  The Islamic State (IS) militia, which is currently the alleged target of  a US-NATO bombing campaign under a “counter-terrorism” mandate, continues to be supported covertly by the US.  Washington and its allies continue to provide military aid to the Islamic State.
17. US and allied bombings are not targeting the ISIL, they are bombing the economic infrastructure of Iraq and Syria including factories and oil refineries.
18.  The IS caliphate project is part of a longstanding US foreign policy agenda to carve up Iraq and Syria into separate territories: A Sunni Islamist Caliphate, an Arab Shia Republic, a Republic of Kurdistan.
The Global War On Terrorism (GWOT)
19. “The Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT) is presented as a “Clash of Civilizations”, a war between competing values and religions, when in reality it is an outright war of conquest, guided by strategic and economic objectives.
20 U.S. sponsored Al Qaeda terror brigades (covertly supported by Western intelligence) have been deployed in Mali, Niger, Nigeria, the Central African Republic, Somalia and Yemen.
America’s “War on Terrorism” By Michel Chossudovsky
These various affiliated Al Qaeda entities in the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa  and Asia are CIA sponsored “intelligence assets”. They are used by Washington to wreck havoc,  create internal conflicts and destabilize sovereign countries.
21 Boko Haram in Nigeria, Al Shabab in Somalia, the Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) (supported by NATO in 2011),  Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM),  Jemaah Islamiah (JI) in Indonesia,  among other Al Qaeda affiliated groups are supported covertly by Western intelligence.
22. The US is also supporting Al Qaeda affiliated terrorist organizations in the Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region of China. The underlying objective is to trigger political instability in Western China.
Chinese jihadists are reported to have received “terrorist training” from the Islamic State “in order to conduct attacks in China”. The declared objective of these Chinese-based jihadist entities (which serves the interests of the US)  is to establish a Islamic caliphate extending into Western China.  (Michel Chossudovsky, America’s War on Terrorism, Global Research, Montreal, 2005, Chapter 2).
Homegrown Terrorists
23 The Terrorists R Us:  While the US is the unspoken architect of the Islamic State,  Obama’s holy mandate is to protect America against ISIL attacks.
24 The homegrown terrorist threat is a fabrication.  It is promoted by Western governments and the media with a view to repealing civil liberties and installing a police state. The terror attacks by alleged jihadists and terror warnings are invariably staged events. They are used to create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.
In turn, the arrests, trials and sentences of “Islamic terrorists” sustain the legitimacy of America’s Homeland Security State and law enforcement apparatus, which has become increasingly militarized.
The ultimate objective is to instill in the minds of millions of Americans that the enemy is real and the U.S. Administration will protect the lives of its citizens.
25.  The “counter-terrorism” campaign against the Islamic State has contributed to the demonization of Muslims, who in the eyes of Western public opinion are increasingly  associated with the jihadists.
26  Anybody who dares to question the validity of the “Global War on Terrorism” is branded a terrorist and subjected to the anti-terrorist laws.
The ultimate objective of the “Global War on Terrorism” is to subdue the citizens, totally depoliticize social life in America, prevent people from thinking and conceptualizing, from analyzing facts and challenging the legitimacy of the inquisitorial social order which rules America.
The Obama Administration has imposed a diabolical consensus with the support of its allies, not to mention the complicit role of the United Nations Security Council.  The Western media has embraced the consensus; it has described the Islamic State as an independent entity, an outside enemy which threatens the Western World.
The Big Lie has become the Truth.
Say no to the “Big Lie”. Spread the message.
The truth is ultimately a powerful weapon.
Please help us continue. We rely on the support of our readers.
Consider donating to Global Research.
For Peace and Truth in Media, Michel Chossudovsky
The original source of this article is Global Research
Copyright © Prof Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, 2015

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Bashar Assad wins Syria presidential election with 88.7% of vote
RT New
Published time: 4 Jun, 2014
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Bashar Assad has won a landslide victory in the Syrian presidential poll with 88.7 percent of the vote. This will secure him a third seven-year term in office amidst a bloody civil war, which stemmed from protests against his rule.
"I declare the victory of Dr Bashar Hafez Assad as president of the Syrian Arab Republic with an absolute majority of the votes cast in the election," parliament speaker Mohammad Laham said in a televised address from his office in the Syrian parliament.
A total of 10.2 million people voted for Assad. The voter turnout stood at 73.42 percent. No violations have been reported, Syria’s Higher Judicial Committee for Elections said as quoted by SANA news agency.
Syrian officials said the result was a vindication of Assad’s three-year campaign against those fighting to get rid of him.
This was the first multi-candidate presidential election in Syria for almost 50 years. The other two candidates for the top post were Hassan Abdullah Nouri, from the National Initiative for Administration and Change in Syria, and Maher Abd Al-Hafiz Hajjar, formerly from the People's Will Party.
Despite the high turnout figures, residents of some areas in the country’s north and east were obstructed from voting by rebel forces.
The conflict in Syria has already killed 160,000 people and created nearly 3 million refugees, as well as displacing more people inside Syria.
But while opposition groups inside Syria and most countries in the West have denounced the election as a sham, many Syrians are supporting President Assad and see him as the only option to return stability to the country.
“This is our duty, we can’t allow people from outside the country to decide for us. Our duty is to vote – or order to protect our country,” Usam Hammami, a resident in the capital Damascus, told RT’s Maria Finoshina.
Russia and Iran both supported the election and Assad himself has said that it is part of his efforts to meet the opposition’s demands.
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Also See:
Will there be World War III?
(Part 2)
10 August 2013
http://arcticcompass.blogspot.ca/2013/08/will-there-be-world-war-iii-part-2.html
and
Chemical Weapons Used in Syria by the Rebels!
19 June 2013
and
Will Syria Be Next?
(Part 1)
14 February 2012
and
(Part 2)
30 May 2012
and
(Part 3)
14 December 2012
and
(Part 4)
24 August 2013
http://arcticcompass.blogspot.ca/2013/08/will-syria-be-next-part-4.html
and

(Part 5)
19 January 2014
and
Unrest in Syria!
31 March 2011
and
"War on Terror" is a Misnomer!
19 April 2014
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