The White Helmets prepare provocation in Syrian Idlib

The imminent threat of offensive launched by Assad’s forces in the North-West of Syria makes the insurgents and their patrons from Western powers nervous. Mainstream mass-media citing statements of some Western officials ones again turn back to the well-known scenario of Assad’s intention to use chemical weapons.

 

Syrian sources (https://sana.sy/en/?p=14523) note the activity of The White Helmets, the NGO based on the territory controlled by Jabhat al-Nusra and over groups close to it. The White Helmets are reported to traffic chemicals to the town of Jisr al-Shughur. This town is one of the targets of Assad’s forces offensive.

 

By the way, the White Helmets have already learned how to deal with chemical weapons from the British private military company named “Olive” which is considered to be one of the main suppliers of mercenaries to the Middle East (https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/feb/ 03 / britain-g4s-at-center-of-global-mercenary-industry-says-charity).

The most likely provocation scenario seems to be some kind of this:

  1. Active information work is being carried out to create the necessary information picture for the provocation before the onset of the offensive by the Syrian army.
  2. Materials for the provocation can be stored in one of the settlements that can become targets of the offensive of the Syrian army (http://www.comite-valmy.org/spip.php?article10309).
  3. The mechanism of the provocation can be the following: chlorine or sarin is sprayed in the main directions of mechanized units of the Syrian army appearance. This may happen in one of the towns of Idlib.
  4. Then follows the stage of the “crime” fixing performed by the White Helmets (the operators may be ordinary militants) who start to promote the “war crime of Assad” through media.

 

There are no prerequisites for the militants to hold off the impending offensive of the Syrian army without “chemical provocation. The White Helmets and their “allies” have a motive, skilled executors, human resources, equipment, chemicals and a political order for delaying the final stage of the Syrian war.

The Syrians will have to do much in this field to prevent the possible consequences of the attack. Since this is a classic “false flag operation”, special services of foreign countries are sure to be in charge of it at certain stages of its implementation.

Haftar’s return boosts hope for peace in Libya

t is a measure of the status of Libyan National Army commander Khalifa Haftar that his homecoming last Thursday after medical treatment in Paris saw a greeting line of military top brass stretching from the aircraft steps into the arrivals terminal.

Army, navy and air force chiefs lined up with politicians to shake the field marshal’s hand, underlining their support after weeks of speculation about the commander’s future.

The 75-year-old field marshal was hospitalised in Paris with an undisclosed condition on April 11, and the rumour mill went into overdrive over whether he was incapacitated. The speculation was dampened two days later when the UN special envoy for Libya, Ghassan Salame, tweeted: “SRSG Ghassan Salame and Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar communicated today via phone and discussed the general situation in Libya and the latest political developments in the country.”

Mr Salame’s tweet emphasised the pivotal role the field marshal has played in Libyan politics since civil war broke out in July 2014. Later that same year Libya’s parliament, the House of Representatives, based in the eastern town of Tobruk, appointed him its army commander and he has since led his troops to two key victories.

The first of those came in September 2016 when the Libyan National Army captured oil ports of the so-called Oil Crescent, home to two thirds of Libya’s oil production. A year later, he finally captured Benghazi, Libya’s second city, from militias after a three-year struggle.

Those victories have won the field marshal support across much of Libya, particularly in the east of the country, with many seeing him as a bulwark against militias who have brought chaos to the country.

He has also used his time in charge to rebuild armed forces who were left devastated by the 2011 revolution in which Muammar Qaddafi was deposed and killed. Meanwhile, the LNA is massing forces for an assault on the coastal town of Derna, the last eastern town held by militias.

Publicly, the field marshal insists that it is business as usual, telling a press conference after his arrival: “I want to reassure you that I am in good health.”

He joked: “I should be addressing you standing up but I am obliged to do so sitting down.”

Speculation that there was a power struggle under way during his absence was heightened after the LNA’s second-in-command, chief of staff, Abdul Razzak Al Nazouri, survived a car-bomb attack on April 18 in Benghazi.

Diplomats recognise that, with the LNA the single most powerful military formation in Libya, its commander has a pivotal role to play in any peace deal. Any such deal may hinge on the Field Marshal Haftar’s key demand, which is that Tripoli militias dissolve.

 

Last July, in an initiative begun by the UAE and Egypt, French President Emmanuel Macron invited him to Paris for talks with Fayez Al Serraj, head of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) for talks.

The Field Marshall is sceptical about GNA, which has failed to rid Tripoli of militias who periodically battle each other in the city. Earlier this month militia rockets struck a plane waiting to take off from the city-centre Mitiga airport.

In December Field Marshal Haftar declared the GNA was no longer legitimate, having come to the end of its two-year mandate announced when it was set up in December 2015. In the same speech, to newly graduating soldiers, he also dismissed past UN-led peace efforts as “just ink on paper.”

But a more robust peace effort may be under way, after talks were held last week in Morocco between the speaker of parliament, Aguila Saleh, and the newly appointed head of Tripoli’s State Council, Khaled Al Mishri, in Morocco.

The talks are to be resumed soon and are exploring the idea of reforming the GNA to make it more inclusive. UN envoy Mr Salame also favours reform of the GNA, hoping it can unify Libya and boost his call for elections later this year.

Field Marshal Haftar has given his support for an elected government, saying the army operates in “full compliance with the orders of the free Libyan people”.

His return, in apparent good health, means his role in any peace process remains crucial.

Russia fully restores its presence in the Arctic

Russia has fully restored its presence in the strategic areas of the Arctic Ocean by creating a special force in the Arctic, the chief of the General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, said on Tuesday.

“Creation of the Arctic group has allowed for restoring Russia’s presence in strategically important areas of the Arctic Ocean and guaranteeing the safety of economic activity in the region,” Gerasimov said at the Defense Ministry’s board meeting on Tuesday.

He recalled that in 2014 Russia created a united strategic command of the Northern fleet, an air force and air defense army within the Fleet’s structure and a special Arctic mechanized infantry brigade for performing combat missions in rigorous climatic conditions.

“Over the past five years the Northern Fleet obtained twenty three ships, including the strategic submarine The Yuri Dolgoruky and the multirole nuclear-powered submarine The Severodvinsk. The guided missile cruiser The Marshal Ustinov has been upgraded and the nuclear-powered missile guided cruiser The Admiral Nakhimov is being upgraded at the moment”, the general noted.

The coastal defense forces received three battalions of the missile systems Bal and Bastion.

In the Arctic region, Gerasimov recalled, military airdromes are being built and upgraded on Franz Josef Land, the Novosibirsk islands, Cape Schmidt and near the city of Anadyr.

Venezuela Crisis: Washington is to Use Colombian Militants to Topple Maduro

Political turmoil and large-scale wave of protests hit Venezuela this year as the result of the discontent with state leaders’ policy, deficiency of essentials and a mass population impoverishment against the background of drop in oil prices – a crucial resource for this mineral-rich Latin American country. The opposition tries to seize power in Venezuela with broad political support of the USA. The term of the current head of state Nicolás Maduro ends in 2018, but protests organizers, as well as their American curators, do not want to wait, they demand to hold the elections immediately.

The White House makes all efforts to drive the “Bolivarian” regime from power in Venezuela. Latin America is a traditional sphere of influence of the USA since the end of the 19th century, and Washington extremely painfully reacts to loss of positions in its “backyard”. Taking into account the Venezuela situation, the main stake for Washington are oil fields since the American business lost access to them as a result of reforms of the president Hugo Chávez.

It should be noted that the Venezuelan question is under special control of the Secretary of State Tillerson, one of the most influential figures of an oil lobby. During the management of ExxonMobil “Texas T-Rex” proved to be the real predator able to take any measures for achievement of goals. For example, the similar situation has happened in 2011 when the company has begun oil development in the Iraqi Kurdistan counter with opinion of the Barack Obama Administration.

Such Rex Tillerson’s animal grasp should be expected also in a situation with Venezuela. The Secretary of State commenting the hearings in the House of Representatives on the difficult situation which had developed in recent months in Venezuela declared that “the USA has to continue pressure upon Caracas, and also give support of local opposition in this connection the White House needs to take steps through various organizations”.

The recent tour of the vice-president Mike Pens across Latin America also indicates the high priority Washington gives to “the Venezuelan question”. The trip resulted in the coalition of Latin American countries created for political support of Washington efforts to topple President Maduro. Colombia, Argentina, Panama and Chile act as the US allies.

In turn, CIA director Mike Pompeo affirmed (link) the dialogue the agency leads with Colombian and Mexican authorities within the work against the Venezuelan government. The chief of CIA obviously dissembles, claiming that contacts with the Latin American partners are limited only to political consultations. Groups of the Colombian fighters are thrown in the country to carry out provocations against police officers during protests and organize murders of oppositionists in order to create an occasion to accuse Maduro’s government of use of lethal weapon against own people.

Interior Minister Nestor Riverol announced the arrest of several Columbians in Tachira state bordering on Colombia. They were dressed as Bolivarian national guards of Venezuela and took part at street clashes between the protesters and police (link). Moreover, the governor of Tachira state José Gregorio Vielma Mora reported about elimination of the Colombian fighters’ camp and added that the number of detainees reached 120 people (link).

 Washington has always comprehensively supported oppositional groups in the countries of Latin America with “inconvenient” regimes without hesitating in the choice of methods. Mercenaries recruited among political refugees and citizens of neighboring countries have always been one of the most widespread tools of the CIA arsenal if the Hawks wanted to change the government in such a country. As we can observe today, the style of CIA is invariable.

The situation in Venezuela is aggravated to a limit. The American oil business strongly intends to return the positions lost during the presidency of Chávez and Maduro. The USA will do everything to change power in Caracas and disrupt the upcoming presidential elections in Venezuela in 2018. Participation of fighters from Colombia against Maduro serves as the evidence of the White House intention to plunge this Latin American country into chaos of political turbulence and civil war.

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Negotiations in Astana are a timid ray of hope to stop the Syrian conflict

     A new format of negotiations to be held in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana on January 23 is set to take into account the interests of all actors of the Syrian conflict.

     At the same time, we should understand that it is impossible to save Syria in the way it was. The system is to be changed. Nevertheless, now it is difficult to say which of the negotiating sides can get more benefits. It can be seen by the results of the meeting. However, Syrian people are to win at any case. They are tired of poverty, misery and deaths. It is time to say stop and make real moves to save people’s lives.

     Negotiations in Astana is a first step to regulate military actions and to put an end to the clash between Syrian troops and Syrian opposition. Bashar Assad told he is open for any dialog with opposition that represents the interests of Syria and Syrian people, but not Saudi Arabia, France and Britain.

     On January 8, the Syrian government announced the readiness to negotiate at the proposed Astana peace talks and there are no limits for negotiations. A huge step for the future.

     At the same time, the High Negotiations Committee said on January 14 it would extend its support to an anti-government military delegation attending the talks.

     Nevertheless, the latest round of talks could provide a less contentious atmosphere for getting down to brass tacks. Past talks in Geneva have been hampered by objections from all sides that talks were biased in favor of the other.

     Yet in spite of some difficulties in preparation of such meetings, there is potential for progress in Astana. However, solid peace in Syria is not going to be resolved just in one round of talks. It is one-step in a sequence towards peace. At the same time, if they succeed, both sides could continue using this platform for future negotiations to resolve Syrian conflict.