Tag Archives: damascus

Gantz says Lebanon will pay if Hezbollah attacks


Gantz says Lebanon will pay if Hezbollah attacks

Israel will face elevated terror threat when rebels have ousted Syria’s Assad, says IDF Chief of Staff
By Elhanan Miller

Israel will respond to an attack from Hezbollah by striking Lebanese infrastructure, IDF Chief of General Staff Benny Gantz said on Monday evening in a sharply worded warning to the Shiite group sitting on Israel’s northern border.

“We will know how to act with Hezbollah and with Lebanon, including its infrastructure,” Gantz told the audience of the Herzliya Conference, a local policy convention. “Lebanon cannot claim sovereignty but not bear responsibility. If a conflagration erupts, I would rather be an Israeli citizen than a Lebanese.”

Israel may even “find itself in a war tomorrow” Ganz warned, although it will not be the one to initiate it.

Gantz said that despite the semblance of security calm in Israel, “not a week goes by, not to say hardly a day, when I don’t have to deal with an issue that you didn’t even hear about, that could have resulted in a strategic threat.”

In the past, Gantz said, Israel used to be able to address threats emanating from Lebanon by exerting pressure on Syria. But that is no longer the case.

“Syria has become an exceptionally dangerous place,” he said. The likelihood of a Syrian conventional attack against Israel has dramatically decreased, but has been replaced by a terrorist threat along the Israeli-Syrian border.

“We will be next in line after Assad,” Gantz said, referring to the terror dangers to Israel the day after the expected ouster of the Syrian president.

To counter the new threats facing Israel, the IDF is now going on the offensive, Gantz said, ramping up the readiness of intelligence, land and air forces.

“We will need to operate at a much higher intensity,” he said, adding that Israel will need to strike a delicate balance between the moral imperative to preserve human life and the obligation to ensure the safety of its own citizens. A future war will require an Israeli military presence on the ground, mostly in urban areas, he added.

Gantz also spoke out against expected military budget cuts, noting that the military’s quality could suffer as a result.

“We must not become a hollow army,” Gantz said. “I prefer a smaller army of higher quality than a larger army which is rusty and hollow.” The reference to a smaller army came as potential coalition partners debated possible new legislation to require ultra-Orthodox young males to serve in the IDF.

Including the ultra-Orthodox needed to be a slow and gradual process, Gantz said, adding that the recruitment of the ultra-Orthodox had “been good” thus far, and that those recruited had contributed a great deal to the army. They “come in “ultra-Orthodox and leave ultra-Orthodox,” he said, addressing the notion that ultra-Orthodox troops might be subverted during the IDF experience and become less devout.

“We have to ensure that the right people are in the right places at the right times,” Gantz added.SOURCE

Russia warships to enter Syria waters in bid to stem foreign intervention


Report: Russia warships to enter Syria waters in bid to stem foreign intervention

By Jack Khoury

Syrian official says Damascus agrees ‘in principle’ to allow entrance of Arab League observer mission; 22-member body proposed sending hundreds of observers to the to help end the bloodshed.

Russian warships are due to arrive at Syrian territorial waters, a Syrian news agency said on Thursday, indicating that the move represented a clear message to the West that Moscow would resist any foreign intervention in the country’s civil unrest.

Also on Friday, a Syrian official said Damascus has agreed “in principle” to allow an Arab League observer mission into the country.

But the official said Friday that Syria was still studying the details. The official asked not to be named because the issue is so sensitive.

The Arab League suspended Syria earlier this week over its deadly crackdown on an eight-month-old uprising. The 22-member body has proposed sending hundreds of observers to the country to try to help end the bloodshed.

The report came a day after a draft resolution backed by Arab and European countries and the United States was submitted to the United Nations General Assembly, seeking to condemn human rights violations in the on-going violence in Syria.

Jordan, Morocco, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia were among Arab states that joined Germany, Britain, and France to sponsor the draft submitted to the assembly’s human rights committee. In Washington, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the U.S. would sign on as a co-sponsor of the resolution.

The draft demanded an end to violence, respect of human rights and implementation by Damascus of a plan of action of the Arab League.

The move comes as clashes escalated in Syria and after Russia and China used their veto in October to block a Security Council resolution that would have condemned the Syrian government of President Bashir for the violence.

Such a veto is not applicable in the 193-nation assembly, which will consider the issue after the human rights committee reports back to it.

The UN says more than 3,500 people have been killed since unrest erupted in spring against Assad.

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Secret US Plot to wage war on Syria revealed!

US plot to wage Syria war revealed

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Informed sources in Syria say they have discovered a pre-fabricated US scenario for the country’s future, seeking to wage war against the nation from various fronts, Press TV reports.

The sources said the US strategy includes attacks on Syrian diplomatic missions abroad. According to the American scenario, the Syrian opposition abroad would engage in taking over the country’s diplomatic missions and use them as bases for directing and carrying out terrorist activities within the country.

The US plan is set to refer Syria to UN’s human rights commission and the General Assembly on November 23 as well as the the International Criminal Court in an effort to formally declare the Damascus government as a “war criminal,” sources say.

The American scenario also provides a role for Turkey in a NATO defense ministers’ meeting, in which Ankara would be commissioned to move its forces across the Syrian border in an effort to establish a buffer zone inside Syria and facilitate the supply of weaponry and arms to the so-called ‘contra forces‘ inside the country and trigger insurgency activities and potentially a civil war across the nation.

Wahhabi insurgents based in the Syrian city of Tripoli would then launch attacks on the border villages of the country.

Moreover, the Syrian sources said, the US scheme provides that the Israeli regime, along with Jordan, would also declare their readiness to engage in military operations against Damascus.

The latest discovery comes as the Arab League (AL) announced the suspension of Syria during an emergency session in the Egyptian capital of Cairo on Saturday and called for the imposition of sanctions against Syria.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem has described the AL decision as “illegitimate and dangerous.”

The Arab League has also proposed to dispatch an observer mission of 30-50 members to Syria in a supposed effort to end unrest in the country.

Syria has been experiencing unrest since mid-March, with demonstrations held both in favor of and against President Bashar al-Assad.

Millions of Syrians took to the streets in several cities across the country on Sunday to condemn the Arab League decision and its siding with US-led anti-Syria measures. Demonstrators also expressed their support for the government of President Assad.

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NATO in final preparations for new war

NATO preps for new war
Syrian chief warns attack will set Middle East aflame

TEL AVIV – NATO troops are training in Turkey for a Turkish-led NATO invasion of Syria, a senior Syrian diplomatic official claimed to WND.

Separately, informed Middle East security officials said Russia has been inspecting Syrian forces and has been advising Syria about possible Syrian military responses should NATO attack the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The officials said Russia recently sold Syria a large quantity of Iskander ballistic missiles, and that, in light of the NATO threat, the Russian government renewed its pledge to sell Syria the advanced S-300 anti-missile system.

The Syrian diplomatic official, meanwhile, recognized his country receives general support from Russia, but told WND that Assad’s regime is concerned the European Union and U.S. may offer Russia an economic incentive to scale back Russian support for Syria.

The report comes as Assad reportedly warned yesterday he will set the Middle East on fire if NATO forces attack his country.

“If a crazy measure is taken against Damascus, I will need not more than six hours to transfer hundreds of rockets and missiles to the Golan Heights to fire them at Tel Aviv,” Assad reportedly said, according to Iran’s state-run Fars news agency.

Assad made the comments in a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmad Davutoglu, reported Fars.

Fars reported Davutoglu conveyed a warning from NATO and the U.S. that Syria could face an international military campaign if Assad does not halt his violent crackdown on an insurgency targeting the Syrian president’s regime.

Assad also reiterated that Damascus will call on Hezbollah in Lebanon to launch an intensive rocket and missile attack on Israel, reported Fars.

“All these events will happen in three hours, but in the second three hours, Iran will attack the U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf and the U.S. and European interests will be targeted simultaneously,”
Assad was quoted as saying.

While Assad’s remarks could not be immediately verified, Iran, which runs Fars, is a close partner to the Damascus government.

WND first reported in August that Assad is taking military measures to prepare for a possible U.S.-NATO campaign against his regime.

Informed Egyptian security officials told WND Assad instructed the Syrian military to be prepared for an air or ground campaign if the international community determines his pledges of reform are not enough.

Also in August, WND first reported Turkey secretly passed a message to Damascus that if it does not implement major democratic reforms, NATO may attack Assad’s regime, according to Egyptian security officials.

The Egyptian security officials said the message was coordinated with NATO members, specifically with the U.S. and European Union.

The Egyptian officials said Turkish leaders, speaking for NATO, told Assad that he has until March to implement democratization that would allow free elections as well as major constitutional reforms.

Last month, Obama officially asked Assad to step down to pave the way for a democratic system in Syria.

According to informed Middle Eastern security officials speaking to WND, Assad asked his military to make specific preparations in the event of a U.S.-led NATO campaign similar to the military coalition now targeting Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

George Soros-funded doctrine with White House ties

The Libya bombings have been widely regarded as a test of a military doctrine called “Responsibility to Protect.”

In his address to the nation in April explaining the NATO campaign in Libya, Obama cited the doctrine as the main justification for U.S. and international airstrikes against Libya.

Responsibility to Protect, or Responsibility to Act, as cited by Obama, is a set of principles, now backed by the United Nations, based on the idea that sovereignty is not a privilege but a responsibility that can be revoked if a country is accused of “war crimes,” “genocide,” “crimes against humanity” or “ethnic cleansing.”

The term “war crimes” has at times been indiscriminately used by various United Nations-backed international bodies, including the International Criminal Court, or ICC, which applied it to Israeli anti-terror operations in the Gaza Strip. There has been fear the ICC could be used to prosecute U.S. troops who commit alleged “war crimes” overseas.

The Global Centre for Responsibility to Protect is the world’s leading champion of the military doctrine.

As WND reported, billionaire activist George Soros is a primary funder and key proponent of the Global Centre for Responsibility to Protect. Several of the doctrine’s main founders also sit on boards with Soros.

WND reported the committee that devised the Responsibility to Protect doctrine included Arab League Secretary General Amre Moussa as well as Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi, a staunch denier of the Holocaust who long served as the deputy of late Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat.

Also, the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy has a seat on the advisory board of the 2001 commission that originally founded Responsibility to Protect. The commission is called the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty. It invented the term “responsibility to protect” while defining its guidelines.

The Carr Center is a research center concerned with human rights located at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Samantha Power, the National Security Council special adviser to Obama on human rights, was Carr’s founding executive director and headed the institute at the time it advised in the founding of Responsibility to Protect.

With Power’s center on the advisory board, the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty first defined the Responsibility to Protect doctrine.

Power reportedly heavily influenced Obama in consultations leading to the decision to bomb Libya.

Two of the global group’s advisory board members, Ramesh Thakur and Gareth Evans, are the original founders of the doctrine, with the duo even coining the term “responsibility to protect.”

As WND reported, Soros’ Open Society Institute is a primary funder and key proponent of the Global Centre for Responsibility to Protect. Also, Thakur and Evans sit on multiple boards with Soros.

Soros’ Open Society is one of only three nongovernmental funders of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect. Government sponsors include Australia, Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, Rwanda and the U.K.

Board members of the group include former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, former Ireland President Mary Robinson and South African activist Desmond Tutu. Robinson and Tutu have recently made solidarity visits to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip as members of a group called The Elders, which includes former President Jimmy Carter.

Annan once famously stated, “State sovereignty, in its most basic sense, is being redefined – not least by the forces of globalization and international co-operation. States are … instruments at the service of their peoples and not vice versa.”

Soros: Right to ‘penetrate nation-states’

Soros himself outlined the fundamentals of Responsibility to Protect in a 2004 Foreign Policy magazine article titled “The People’s Sovereignty: How a New Twist on an Old Idea Can Protect the World’s Most Vulnerable Populations.”

In the article Soros said, “True sovereignty belongs to the people, who in turn delegate it to their governments.”

“If governments abuse the authority entrusted to them and citizens have no opportunity to correct such abuses, outside interference is justified,” Soros wrote. “By specifying that sovereignty is based on the people, the international community can penetrate nation-states’ borders to protect the rights of citizens.

“In particular,” he continued, “the principle of the people’s sovereignty can help solve two modern challenges: the obstacles to delivering aid effectively to sovereign states, and the obstacles to global collective action dealing with states experiencing internal conflict.”

More George Soros ties

“Responsibility” founders Evans and Thakur served as co-chairmen with Vartan Gregorian, president of Carnegie Corp. Charitable Foundation, on the advisory board of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, which invented the term “responsibility to protect.”

In his capacity as co-chairman, Evans also played a pivotal role in initiating the fundamental shift from sovereignty as a right to “sovereignty as responsibility.”

Evans presented Responsibility to Protect at the July 23, 2009, United Nations General Assembly, which was convened to consider the principle.

Thakur is a fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation, which is in partnership with an economic institute founded by Soros.

Soros is on the executive board of the International Crisis Group, a “crisis management organization” for which Evans serves as president-emeritus.

WND previously reported how the group has been petitioning for the U.S. to normalize ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, the main opposition in Egypt, where longtime U.S. ally Hosni Mubarak was recently toppled.

Aside from Evans and Soros, the group includes on its board Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei, as well as other personalities who champion dialogue with Hamas, a violent offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood.

WND also reported the crisis group has petitioned for the Algerian government to cease “excessive” military activities against al-Qaida-linked groups and to allow organizations seeking to create an Islamic state to participate in the Algerian government.

Soros’ own Open Society Institute has funded opposition groups across the Middle East and North Africa, including organizations involved in the current chaos.

‘One World Order’

WND reported that doctrine founder Thakur recently advocated for a “global rebalancing” and “international redistribution” to create a “New World Order.

In a piece last March in the Ottawa Citizen newspaper, “Toward a new world order,” Thakur wrote, “Westerners must change lifestyles and support international redistribution.”

He was referring to a United Nations-brokered international climate treaty in which he argued, “Developing countries must reorient growth in cleaner and greener directions.”

In the opinion piece, Thakur then discussed recent military engagements and how the financial crisis has impacted the U.S.

“The West’s bullying approach to developing nations won’t work anymore – global power is shifting to Asia,” he wrote.

“A much-needed global moral rebalancing is in train,” he added.

Thakur continued: “Westerners have lost their previous capacity to set standards and rules of behavior for the world. Unless they recognize this reality, there is little prospect of making significant progress in deadlocked international negotiations.”

Thakur contended “the demonstration of the limits to U.S. and NATO power in Iraq and Afghanistan has left many less fearful of ‘superior’ Western power.”

Read more: NATO preps for new war SOURCE

Times They Are A Changing

Defiant Assad addresses Syria on TV as UN arrives in Damascus

Nour Ali and Martin Chulov
The Guardian

A defiant president Bashar al-Assad warned against outside interference in Syria and shrugged off international criticism in a live interview with state television on Sunday night.

His fourth address during a growing revolt against his rule was aimed as much at the international community who have sided decisively with protesters as it was at the nation.

In a comment that appeared designed to include Turkey, he warned “countries close and far away” against intervening.

“Any action against Syria will have huge consequences that they [foreign countries] can never tolerate,” he said.

Last week, the US led a choreographed call with the leaders of the EU, UK, France and Germany calling on Assad to step aside, amid an escalated military offensive since 31 July.

Assad dubbed the powers “colonial” and, addressing his domestic audience, repeated talk of reforms. He suggested a law on forming political parties would be issued next week and that elections for the largely rubber-stamp parliament would be held in February.

He made no mention of his position as president.

In a suggestion that the violence may continue, Assad said unrest had become more militant, but that he was confident the regime could deal with it.

Large-scale military assaults appear to have ceased, but gunfire and arrests by the security forces continue to be reported across the country.

Two people were shot dead when trying to flee from Latakia on Sunday, activists said, while a curfew was being enforced in towns across the southern plain on the border with Jordan.

Assad has reportedly told a UN delegation from the Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs that arrived on Saturday that it can travel to any part of the country it wishes.

Before a planned visit to Latakia, a western diplomat said reports had been received of a large-scale clean-up of the al-Ramel Palestinian refugee camp in the city, which was heavily targeted in an assault from land and sea last week.

“Reports of a clean-up do square perfectly with the version of events which the regime is denying,” the diplomat said. “But the evidence in the form of personal testimonies of what happened in Latakia is overwhelming and undeniable. Assad can run but he can’t hide from the arm of international law.”

Residents of Hama and Homs reported similar clean-ups by government officials after rampages through both cities by security forces in recent months.

Before the broadcast ended, protests chanting against Assad broke out across the country in a sign that nothing the president says will quell dissent after months of bloodshed.

Some protesters did not watch the broadcast at all, while others treated it as a form of light entertainment. Tweeters using the hashtag “AssadLies” denounced the address. “This is of no importance, a joke,” one activist said, speaking during the broadcast which was preceded by a montage of images of Syria and Assad.

Despite international pressure, the violent crackdown has continued with more that 350 people said to have been killed this month – adding to a death toll of more than 2,000 civilians.

The country’s third city, Homs, was particularly targeted at the weekend, with tens of people killed and many more arrested by security forces, activists said.
Residents portrayed Homs as a city bracing itself for renewed destruction.
“There are snipers on all the buildings. The tanks aren’t in the centre, but around the edges. The situation is terrible,” the resident said.

International calls for Assad to leave have sharply intensified scrutiny of his regime and its sustained crackdown against demonstrators, which it continues to cast as a fight against terrorists.

The western stance is set to greatly increase the stakes for Assad, who now faces pariah status among leaders whose attention he had previously coveted.

It has also for the first time raised the possibility of a Libyan-style military intervention, something which had not previously been considered despite over five months of violence in which an estimated 2,500 people have died and which have all but shut down the Syrian economy.

A Guardian poll published at the weekend revealed that 80% of respondents supported some sort of military intervention in Syria. But there is no western appetite for military action in the densely populated country – and Syrians almost unanimously reject the idea.

There are fears that the western demands could embolden him, giving him little option but to fight as he struggles to retain control of the hardline police state his family has ruled as a personal fiefdom for more than four decades.

His traditional international support base remains resolute. Iranian support for the regime makes it a key factor in calculations and Russia has said it does not support calls for Assad to leave.

In the interview Assad said he was unclear what Turkey, a former close ally, is thinking. Ankara has stepped up its rhetoric against Assad and it has been rumoured that it may implement a buffer zone if more refugees flee across the border, but it has stopped short of calling for him to resign.

Istanbul was on Sunday hosting a meeting of Syrian opposition groups who are attempting to elect a national council.

The new body would aim to position itself as an alternative leadership, in the same way that the National Transitional Council did in the weeks after Colonel Gaddafi was ousted from eastern Libya. That body eventually won international recognition.

“The opposition is starting to realise that they cannot be all chiefs and that they have to live up to the expectations of the international community,
” veteran opposition figure Khaled Haj Saleh told Reuters.

However, some opposition activists rejected the move, saying those arranging the council has decided to without consulting certain groups.

The UN last week said it had identified 50 Syrian regime figures who may have committed crimes against humanity. In another sign of mounting international anger, the EU is considering placing a ban on Syrian oil exports, which account for 25% of the country’s economy. Assad said sanctions would not hurt but with industry at a standstill, no tourism, and cash reserves rapidly dwindling, such a move would likely prove difficult for the regime to withstand in the long run.

Nour Ali is a pseudonym for a journalist based in Damascus

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