All 100 senators sign letter against U.N. actions to bring Israel to account

All 100 senators sign letter against U.N. actions to bring Israel to account

Anne Gearan reports in the Washington Post:

All 100 U.S. senators signed a letter Thursday asking U.N. Secretary General António Guterres to address what the lawmakers call entrenched bias against Israel at the world body.

Read Letter Here: https://www.docdroid.net/cJEsb3R/letter-from-all-100-us-senators-urging-un-to-end-anti-israel-agenda.pdf.html

The unanimous message notes that the United States is the largest contributor to the United Nations but does not threaten the withholding of U.S. dues. Still, it uses strong language to insist that the United Nations rectify what the senators said is unequal treatment of Israel on human rights and other grounds.

“Through words and actions, we urge you to ensure that Israel is treated neither better nor worse than any other U.N. member in good standing,” the letter said.

The letter, which will be released publicly Friday, was obtained by The Washington Post.

“As both the U.N.’s principal founding member and its largest contributor, the United States should insist on reform,” the letter read. “We are deeply committed to international leadership and to advancing respect for human rights. But continued targeting of Israel by the U.N. Human Rights Council and other U.N. entities is unacceptable.”

The senators asked Guterres, who assumed leadership of the world body in January, to seek such institutional changes as the removal of a standing agenda item for U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees sessions that has been used as a forum to denounce Israel. The senators also want a change to the rules for membership on the human rights panel to broaden participation beyond what U.S. officials have said is often a narrow and self-interested group of countries.

The unusual unanimity expands on the fierce denunciation of U.N. treatment of Israel mounted by Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, this year. The letter praises Haley for that effort, which she has said is intended to show that the United States will not “put up with” the bashing of its close ally.

The United States has long been Israel’s chief defender at the United Nations, including regularly vetoing measures at the Security Council that were critical of Israel.

In December, the lame duck Obama administration chose to abstain on such a resolution, allowing it to pass. The measure addressed Jewish home building in the occupied West Bank, and the U.S. action was a sign of President Barack Obama’s deep frustration with what he saw as Israeli action that threatened an eventual peace deal.

The Trump administration opposes the measure and has been highly critical of the previous administration’s action. It cannot be quickly reversed, however.

The Senate letter reflects what the letter’s authors, Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.), said are encouraging signs that Guterres may be willing to change some U.N. procedures that Israel and the United States say amount to discrimination.

Guterres yanked and disavowed a U.N. report last month likening Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to apartheid. His spokesman said the report had been published without Guterres’s permission.

“If you continue to build on your recent action, we stand ready to work with you to eliminate the organization’s anti-Israel bias, and to fight anti-Semitism in all its forms,” the senators wrote.

On Sunday, Guterres told a pro-Israel audience that he cannot police all anti-Israel bias at the United Nations, but he said Israel should not be singled out for special scrutiny.

“A modern form of anti-Semitism is the denial of the right of the state of Israel to exist,” the news service JTA quoted Guterres as saying at a meeting of the World Jewish Congress. “As secretary general of the United Nations, I can say that the state of Israel needs to be treated as any other state, with exactly the same rules.”

“We’re glad every single senator decided to sign onto this letter,” Rubio spokesman Matt Wolking said. “That doesn’t happen often.”

The letter comes ahead of the first meeting between President Trump and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who will visit the White House next week.

“Since it is rare for all 100 senators to agree on an issue, this letter sends a powerful bipartisan message to the U.N. that its anti-Israel bias must end,” said Marshall Wittmann, spokesman for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

 

 

Thousands Of Israelis Take To The Streets Calling For Palestinian Genocide:”Ignore Courts, Just Kill Palestinians all!

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Massive rallies and Facebook campaigns calling for Palestinian genocide are ignored by Western mainstream media and Facebook despite concerns and collaborations aimed at stopping “calls to violence”.Since last October, the Israeli government has accused Palestinians and their allies of “inciting violence” against Israelis, despite the fact that only 34 Israelis have died in that time frame compared to 230 Palestinians. The uptick in violence has been attributed to an internationally condemned Israeli encroachment of Palestinian lands in the contested West Bank.

Israeli government concern over recent violence has led them to arrest Palestinians for social media content that could potentially lead to crimes. So far, 145 Palestinians have been arrested this year for “pre-crime” via social media “incitement.” This practice eventually led to a collaboration between Facebook and the Israeli government, whose joint effort to curb social media “incitement” has led to the banning of several Facebook accounts of Palestinian journalists and news agencies.

However, social media, as well as mainstream Western media, have failed to condemn Israeli “incitement” against Palestinians, a practice that is surprisingly common considering the little to no attention it receives. Often these anti-Palestinian posts, pictures, and rallies are rife with calls for genocide, with cries of “Death to the whole Arab nation” and “Kill them all” surprisingly common.

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Even the Times of Israel ran an op-ed article about “When Genocide is Permissible” in reference to Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. Though the post was eventually taken down, it points to an all-too-common and dangerous mentality that social media, the Israeli government, and Western media “conveniently” ignore.

An Israeli news agency even put the then-suspected preferential treatment to the test and found that Facebook and the Israeli authorities treated calls for revenge from Palestinians and Israelis very differently.

Even massive rallies calling for Palestinian genocide have been ignored entirely by social media and the corporate press. Earlier this year in April, a massive anti-Palestinian rally took place in Tel Aviv where thousands called for the death of all Arabs. The rally was organized to support an Israeli soldier who killed an already-wounded Palestinian by shooting him execution-style in the head.

The soldier, Elor Azaria, was charged with manslaughter for the killing, which occurred deep within Palestinian sovereign territory in the city of Hebron. Hebron contains an illegal Jewish settlement, but despite its illegality is protected by Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) all the same. This has led to frequent clashes between Israelis and Palestinians in the area.

The Tel-Aviv rally was attended by an estimated 2,000 people and several Israeli pop icons entertained attendees including singer Maor Edri, Moshik Afia, and Amos Elgali, along with rapper Subliminal. Chants of “Elor [the soldier] is a hero” and calls to release the soldier were common. One woman was photographed holding a sign reading “Kill them all.”

A Jewish reporter at the scene remarked that it seemed “more like a celebration of murder than anything.” Despite the obvious animosity and incitement made evident at the rally, it isn’t difficult to imagine what the response would have been if this has been a pro-Palestinian rally calling for the deaths of Jews. The stark divide between what is permissible for Palestinians and what is permissible for Israelis should concern us all as the widespread bias of social media, the press, and many governments threaten to blind us from the realities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

All of Israel’s settlements in the occupied West Bank and Syria’s Golan Heights are illegal under international law.

New US bill would punish settlement boycotters

New bill in Congress backed by AIPAC aims to thwart international measures to hold Israel accountable for settlements built on occupied Palestinian land.

Wisam HashlamounAPA images

US Senator Ben Cardin is once again trying to pass legislation designed to suppress the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights.

During the last Congressional session, the Maryland Democrat succeeded in sneaking language into a must-pass trade bill making it a “principal negotiating objective” of the United States “to discourage politically motivated actions to boycott, divest from or sanction Israel” while negotiating trade deals.

This discouragement of BDS extended to boycotts of products originating from settlements in what the bill euphemistically referred to as “Israeli-controlled territories.” All of Israel’s settlements in the occupied West Bank and Syria’s Golan Heights are illegal under international law.

But with the Trump administration’s skepticism toward free trade deals and its withdrawal of the United States from the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership, it seems unlikely that the United States in the near term will be leveraging anti-BDS pressure through trade negotiations as Cardin envisioned.

With BDS continuing to gain momentum, Cardin went back to the drawing board and introduced the Israel Anti-Boycott Act on 23 March, designed to coincide with the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

The powerful Israel lobby group duly made the bill one of its top legislative priorities.

The Senate version of the bill – S.720 – currently has 18 cosponsors – 14 Republicans and four Democrats.

Its counterpart in the House – H.R.1697 – introduced by Illinois Republican Peter Roskam, has 91 co-sponsors at present, about two-thirds of them Republicans.

The bill opposes the creation of a database of Israeli settlement companies by the UN Human Rights Council and any efforts to boycott those companies’ products.

According to Cardin and the other original sponsors of the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, the bill also seeks to “prevent the implementation of similar ‘blacklists’ or boycotts in the future.”

It aims to do so in a heavy-handed manner: by imposing governmental sanctions – denial of loans, fines and even potentially jail time – on companies complying with calls from the UN Human Rights Council to boycott Israeli settlement products.

Shrewdly shrouded

If it becomes law, the bill could also sweep up in its broad ambit companies refusing to do business with Israeli settlements whatever their source of inspiration for doing so may be. These sanctions would also apply to potential future international governmental calls for a broader boycott of Israel.

The draconian nature of the bill is shrewdly shrouded. None of the above-mentioned sanctions are specified in the actual text of the bill.

Only by closely examining the underlying laws which would be amended by this bill does its intent become evident: to harshly punish those companies which exercise their First Amendment-protected right to engage in boycotts of Israeli settlement products.

The bill seeks to amend two laws – the Export Administration Act of 1979 and the Export-Import Bank Act of 1945 – to accomplish its aim.

The Export Administration Act is the primary law which makes it illegal for US corporations to comply with the Arab League boycott of Israel. The Department of Commerce maintains an Office of Anti-Boycott Compliance to ensure US corporations do not participate in the Arab League boycott and to fine those that do.

The Israel Anti-Boycott Act would amend this law to encompass “restrictive trade practices or boycotts fostered or imposed by any international governmental organization against Israel or requests to impose restrictive trade practices or boycotts by any international governmental organization against Israel.”

Even if a corporation was not responding directly to a call from an international governmental organization to boycott Israel or even settlement products, it could still run afoul of this bill if its actions are perceived to “have the effect of furthering or supporting” this boycott.

The potential penalties for violating this bill are steep: a minimum $250,000 civil penalty and a maximum criminal penalty of $1 million and 20 years imprisonment, as stipulated in the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

The bill specifies that international governmental organizations include the United Nations and European Union, a clear indication the legislation is intended to counteract the limited steps the UN Human Rights Council has taken to catalog Israeli settlement products and the EU’s labeling – but not prohibition – of those products.

Protecting settlements

The bill also amends the Export-Import Bank Act to make it possible for the bank to “deny applications for credit” to corporations whose policies and actions “are politically motivated and are intended to penalize or otherwise limit commercial relations specifically with citizens or residents of Israel, entities organized under the laws of Israel, or the Government of Israel.”

The legislation refers back to the definition of BDS enshrined in law in the last congressional session to include “Israeli-controlled territories,” thereby making the harsh sanctions applicable to actions solely targeting Israeli settlements.

The bill concludes with a dubious stipulation that nothing in it “shall be construed to alter the established policy of the United States or to establish new United States policy concerning final status issues associated with the Arab-Israeli conflict, including border delineation, that can only be resolved through direct negotiations between the parties.”

However, by establishing such stringent penalties for corporations that respond to nascent international governmental organizations’ efforts to end trade in Israeli settlement products, the bill does in fact attempt to dramatically alter US policy.

Growing consensus

For the past 50 years, official US policy has held that Israel’s settlements are violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention and illegal under international law. The bill seeks to undermine this determination by penalizing companies refusing to do business with Israeli settlements and conversely attempts to legitimize their status.

Under existing law, corporations can only be penalized for adhering to the Arab League boycott of Israel. Cardin’s bill would vastly widen this net by also ensnaring corporations that support international governmental organizations’ boycotts of Israeli settlement products or even those which are perceived as furthering those boycotts.

Last year, Human Rights Watch urged that all corporations had to end all business in or with settlements in order to comply with their human rights obligations, and that governments are responsible for taking steps to discourage settlements.

“Settlement businesses unavoidably contribute to Israeli policies that dispossess and harshly discriminate against Palestinians, while profiting from Israel’s theft of Palestinian land and other resources,” Arvind Ganesan, director of the group’s business and human rights division, said.

There is also a growing consensus among international legal scholars that trade in settlement goods violates international law.

Activists are organizing against this bill because they believe that if passed, it could stymie campaigns by the Palestine solidarity movement to pressure corporations to cut ties to Israel or even with Israeli settlements.

Beyond apartheid: Fragments from the West Bank

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I want the world to know

Anas Mohammed Jnena on April 17, 2017

Anas Mohammed Jnena, a writer from Gaza with the WeAreNotNumbers campaign wants the world to know Gaza is like any other place in the world and so are its people: “I want the world to know that Palestine has writers, artists, thinkers and, most importantly, lovers. I want to the world to know that we are humans just like you.”

‘Being a former prisoner’s daughter has instilled in me an unstoppable determination’

Tamam Abusalama on April 17, 2017

As more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails launch a hunger strike on the occasion of Palestinian Prisoners Day, Tamam Abusalama recalls the combined 15 years her father spent as a prisoner. “Being a former prisoner’s daughter has instilled in me an unstoppable determination to break all borders and limits. I struggle against everything that violates my freedom and that of my people.”

Beyond apartheid: Fragments from the West Bank

Yarden Katz on April 17, 2017

According to a recent New York Times op-ed, Israel today is “nothing like” South African apartheid. Yarden Katz, an Israeli, abandoned the warnings about visiting the West Bank and toured a housed in Bethlehem trapped by the wall, and a ghost town in Hebron, “If we only dare look, we see that there’s apartheid and much more.”

– See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/israel-palestine/#sthash.N4eacYAt.dpuf

H.R. McMaster’s Ties To Soros-Supported Think Tank Raise Questions

National Security Advisor Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster’s past affiliation with the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) has created fresh concerns after research conducted by Disobedient Media revealed that the British think tank has taken funding from multiple governments in the Middle East and organizations tied to George Soros. McMaster’s former position with the IISS indicates a potential conflict of interest given the think tanks’ financial ties to sponsors who are anti-American and in some cases, states sponsors of terrorism.

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I. The IISS Has Financial Ties To Middle Eastern States And Soros-Connected Organizations

The International Institute for Strategic Studies is a UK-based think tank with strong establishment ties which was credited by former U.S. Ambassador Raymond Leonard Garthoff in his memoirs as being a driving force in creating “intellectual structures for managing the Cold War.” The IISS has famously boasted that it “owes no allegiance to any government, or to any political or other organization” and produces research cited and utilized by a vast number of groups internationally. But on December 6th, 2016, The Guardian reported that documents published by the organization Bahrain Watch showed that the IISS received more than £25 million in funding from the Bahraini royal family. The leaked documents also revealed that the IISS and Bahrain’s rulers specifically agreed to keep the latter’s funding secret, which would be used to pay for an IISS office in the country as well as annual conferences on Middle East politics attended by heads of state and other powerful figures in Bahrain’s capital of Manama. The Middle East Eye also published research indicating that in 2015 this funding accounted for over half the IISS’ total income during that period.

A reference of the IISS’ Sources of Funding Statementpage reveals that the think tank also receives funds from a shocking list of special interest groups, including the Carnegie Corporation New York, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Northrop Grumman, Executive Affairs Authority – Abu Dhabi, The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Defense, the China Institute of International Studies (CIIS), the embassies of China, Egypt, Turkey, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and the High Commission for Pakistan. The IISS also accepted donations from George Soros’ Open Society Foundation and the Ploughshares Fund.

The Ploughshares Fund is financed by the Open Society Foundation. A May 5, 2016 article by the New York Times revealed that the Ploughshares Fund was a major player in efforts to sell the Iranian nuclear deal to the American public. The deal has been generally criticized as a foreign policy failure, resulted in the transfer of hundreds of billions of dollars to Iran without any concessions in return and has failed to prevent Iran from continuing to illegally test long range ICBM missiles in violation of both the deal and international sanctions.

George Soros has faced backlash internationally in Eastern Europe, after his organizations were banned from Hungary and placed under audit in Macedonia amid accusations that he was meddling in the countries’ political processes and improperly seeking to influence public opinion. Disobedient Media, The New York Times and The Washington Times have all highlighted Soros’ financial support for anti-democracy movements in the United States who seek to undermine democratic institutions and pursue regime change. The billionaire investor’s financial involvement with the IISS seriously undermines their claims of independence already on shaky ground after the revelations from The Guardian and Bahrain Watch.

II. H.R. McMaster Served As Consulting Senior Fellow At The IISS

H.R. McMaster was appointed to the position of National Security Advisor after the resignation of Michael Flynn in February 2017. McMaster was widely praised by the media after he steered away from Flynn’s hardline stance towards terrorism, statingthat the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” was “not helpful.” Although McMaster has extensive counterinsurgency experience from his years in Iraq, his legacy there has been criticized by the Asia Timesas having utilized vast amounts of U.S. funds and resources only to leave behind an Iraqi government that was brittle and at risk of collapse, while failing to quell sectarian tensions that have allowed Iran to leverage interests throughout the Middle East and expand their influence through Hamas and Hezbollah.

From September 2006 to February 2017, H.R. McMaster served at the IISS as a Consulting Senior Fellow. The IISS’ website indicates that McMaster focused on topics relating to conflict and conflict prevention, development and security, civil-military relations and military history. McMaster’s close, longstanding ties to the IISS create concerns about conflicts of interest given the think tank’s financial connections to multiple foreign states across the Middle East and Asia, as well as figures like George Soros who are actively seeking to resist the administration of Donald Trump after the latter’s defeat of Soros-supported candidate Hillary Clintonin the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.

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McMaster’s affiliation with an organization that has taken money not only from groups who pushed the harmful and counterproductive Iran nuclear deal, but states who media reports and releases from Wikileakshave shown to be sponsors of terrorism in both the Middle East and the West raise serious questions given the many years McMaster spent with the IISS. The IISS’ connection to such parties will no doubt continue to dog the Lieutenant General going forward given his central role in advising President Donald Trump during the U.S.’s controversial April 6th missile strike in Syria and his belligerent rhetoricdirected at the Russian Federation over their support for Bashar al-Assad.

Source: http://disobedientmedia.com/h-r-mcmasters-ties-to-soros-supported-think-tank-raise-questions/

Noam Chomsky: Russia Interference Claims Turning US Into Laughing Stock (Video)

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‘Half the world is cracking up in laughter’ — Chomsky

Noam Chomsky is asking, what the heck is wrong with Democrats? They’re giving Trump a free pass on everything except the one thing he is mildly good on. Their incessant whining on alleged Russian interference is a joke — the US doesn’t just interfere, it topples governments it doesn’t like in coups and invasions.

Meanwhile you’ve got NATO exercises on the Russian border — not Warsaw Pact exercises in Mexico — and the US building up a first strike infrastructure in eastern Europe under the guise of a missile shield to protect against Iran.

It’s a pretty remarkable fact that—first of all, it is a joke. Half the world is cracking up in laughter.

The United States doesn’t just interfere in elections. It overthrows governments it doesn’t like, institutes military dictatorships.

Simply in the case of Russia alone—it’s the least of it—the U.S. government, under Clinton, intervened quite blatantly and openly, then tried to conceal it, to get their man Yeltsin in, in all sorts of ways.

So, this, as I say, it’s considered—it’s turning the United States, again, into a laughingstock in the world.

So why are the Democrats focusing on this? In fact, why are they focusing so much attention on the one element of Trump’s programs which is fairly reasonable, the one ray of light in this gloom: trying to reduce tensions with Russia? That’s—the tensions on the Russian border are extremely serious. They could escalate to a major terminal war. Efforts to try to reduce them should be welcomed.

Just a couple of days ago, the former U.S. ambassador to Russia, Jack Matlock, came out and said he just can’t believe that so much attention is being paid to apparent efforts by the incoming administration to establish connections with Russia. He said, “Sure, that’s just what they ought to be doing.”

So, meanwhile, this one topic is the primary locus of concern and critique, while, meanwhile, the policies are proceeding step by step, which are extremely destructive and harmful. So, you know, yeah, maybe the Russians tried to interfere in the election. That’s not a major issue.

Maybe the people in the Trump campaign were talking to the Russians. Well, OK, not a major point, certainly less than is being done constantly.

And it is a kind of a paradox, I think, that the one issue that seems to inflame the Democratic opposition is the one thing that has some justification and reasonable aspects to it.

Well, you can understand why the Democratic Party managers want to try to find some blame for the fact—for the way they utterly mishandled the election and blew a perfect opportunity to win, handed it over to the opposition.

But that’s hardly a justification for allowing the Trump policies to slide by quietly, many of them not only harmful to the population, but extremely destructive, like the climate change policies, and meanwhile focus on one thing that could become a step forward, if it was adjusted to move towards serious efforts to reduce growing and dangerous tensions right on the Russian border, where they could blow up.

NATO maneuvers are taking place hundreds of yards from the Russian border. The Russian jet planes are buzzing American planes. This—something could get out of hand very easily.

Both sides, meanwhile, are building up their military forces, adding—the U.S. is—one thing that the Russians are very much concerned about is the so-called anti-ballistic missile installation that the U.S. is establishing near the Russian border, allegedly to protect Europe from nonexistent Iranian missiles. Nobody seriously believes that. This is understood to be a first strike threat.

These are serious issues. People like William Perry, who has a distinguished career and is a nuclear strategist and is no alarmist at all, is saying that we’re back to the—this is one of the worst moments of the Cold War, if not worse. That’s really serious. And efforts to try to calm that down would be very welcome.

And we should bear in mind it’s the Russian border. It’s not the Mexican border. There’s no Warsaw Pact maneuvers going on in Mexico. And that’s a border that the Russians are quite reasonably sensitive about. They’ve practically been destroyed several times the last century right through that region.

SYRIA: Washington’s ‘Greater’ Middle East Project – Hand in Hand with Israel

 

Sarah Abed & Mark Taliano
Global Research

The US-led coalition of war criminals is using elements of Syria’s Kurdish population to achieve the U.S Empire’s goal of destroying the non-belligerent, democratic country of Syria, led by its hugely popular, democratically-elected President, Bashar al-Assad. 

Empire seeks to create sectarianism and ethnic divides in a country that, prior to the Western-launched criminal dirty war, had neither.

President al-Assad is well aware of the imperial forces behind the mercenaries invading his country. In a speech to the newly elected members of the People’s Assembly of Syria (Syria’s Parliament) on 7 June 2016, he elaborated upon the modus operandi of the invaders:

• They seek to attack the constitution by means of a so-called “transition” stage.

• They seek to destroy the two pillars of the government: the army and the diverse, national, pan-Arab and religious identity of Syrians.

• They seek to rebrand the savage terrorists as “moderates” and then to eternally provide them with a cover of legitimacy.

• They seek to create chaos, sectarianism, and ethnic enclaves that turn the people’s commitment from the homeland to conflicting groups that seek help from foreigners against their own people.

• They seek to be branded as “humanitarian” and “protectors” to save the people from (externally engineered) conflict and misery.

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By imposing economic and armed terrorism on Syrians, by waging a phony war against their own terrorist proxies (including ISIS and al Qaeda), by creating sectarian and ethnic tensions, and by destroying Syria’s infrastructure — including water and electrical infrastructure — the Western, Zionist, and GCC agencies of terrorism seek to be perceived as saviours, humanitarians and protectors, who can then introduce the “free market” of international capital, which will be the coup de grâce to effect the final destruction of the host country. And mainstream fake news provides the criminal warmongers with on-going, 24/7 cover to commit their war crimes.

Syrian-American Sarah Abed, was born in Al Qamishly and has lived in both the USA and Syria throughout her life. She makes frequent trips back and forth. Sarah is in direct daily contact with family and friends that reside in different parts of Syria. Sarah conducted and translated an interview with a close family friend, “Samir”, who lives in Syria and is well informed about the conditions on the ground.

Samir’s commentaries are consistent with President Assad’s assessment of the Imperialists’ strategy of “divide and conquer”:

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Picture taken by Samir sent directly to Sarah Abed, for exclusive use in articles. March 2017 showing the streets of Al Qamishly which is where the Kurds are trying to establish their capital.

Question: What was life like in Al Hasaka prior to the launch of the dirty war on Syria?

Answer: Life was great. The diversity was a positive attribute to the area. Al Hasaka is influenced by the Turkish, Syrian, and Kurdish cultures. You would see Turkish soap operas on local TV. , hear Turkish music, along with Merdali, and other types in the streets, blaring from the speakers of cars. I used to go to the music shops and pick up the latest Turkish songs. There were many restaurants, hospitals, hotels, and outdoor parks. Kurds had assimilated into the culture. They were considered Syrian citizens. Many of the Christians had family in Sweden. They would come for the summer.  There were good relations between all of the different ethnicities and religious affiliations. It was hard to distinguish who was who in the streets. There was a bustling social life and people were generally content with their lives.

Question: Did the Kurds have equal opportunities for education, healthcare, and work?

Answer: Since the 19th century when most of the Kurds came into Syria there was a peaceful coexistence. Kurds lived and interacted with Muslim and Christian Syrians. Yes, they had equal rights in every sector. They attended schools with the Syrian government approved Arabic curriculum.  They had access to free education, free healthcare, must like their Syrian counterparts. They were in fact Syrian Kurds and were not treated any differently.

Question: Are the people in Al-Hasaka well educated?  Well informed?

Answer: Yes, they were considered to be among  the most educated people in Syria. They are also very conscious of what is happening in their country as well as abroad. Education was very important and they took pride in it.  Many had completed college.  Kurds represent about 30% of the population in the Al-Hasaka governorate.

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“On February 3, the coalition’s aviation destroyed four bridges: two in Raqqa and two in the settlements of El-Calta and El-Abbara. As a result of these actions, the communication between the northern and southern parts of the city, with over 200 thousand inhabitants, has been completely interrupted. On February 18, a bridge in El Megle was completely destroyed in the vicinity of the city of Maadan, 60 kilometers east of Raqqa,” ~ Sputnik

Question:  How does the rest of the population feel about Kurdish aspirations for independence from Syria?

Answer:  Syrians are not entirely surprised by these recent demands by the Kurds for autonomy. They are however upset by it. Syrians feel that the Kurds were allowed to come in and have lived in Syria for centuries and were treated fairly therefore the need to now take a part of the country and claim it as their own federation is quite frankly an insult to the hospitality they were shown. They feel as though the Kurds are being unappreciative and are only looking out for their own interest and not taking into account the Syrians that live in the area. Kurds are the minority yet their demands for autonomy and to take over the areas  that they have alleged are now their property is very unfair to Syrians in the area. Kurds moved into Syria and called it home, but now they are acting like the Syrians in their areas are living in their federation and need to abide by their rules and share their views and follow their commands or else they will be driven out of their homes. This is a very harsh and criminal way to treat others. Lest we forget that  Kurds are ultimately nomads and their alliance lies with Israel.

Question: Do all Kurds in the area want independence from Syria?

Answer: In the beginning of the war the Kurds fought alongside the Syrian army, they were paid, armed, and trained by the SAA. When the USA came in and basically created the SDF Syrian Democratic Forces that’s when the Kurds became more adamant about wanting independence and autonomy.  This is a very important point that needs to be made clear, The USA’s involvement in Syria led to the Kurds demanding autonomy.  Had the US military not given them weapons, training, armed vehicles, and most likely paid them wages as well there is a good chance that the Kurds would not have made these demands. Not all Kurds want independence but those who speak up against it  are silenced and told to not say anything or else they will be sent out of the country. They have received threats that saying anything negative about the Kurdish desires for autonomy will have negative consequences.

Question: Why do they want independence?  Did Assad government not treat them well?  Did the U.S government promise support and democracy and other lies?

Answer: They have always wanted to establish Kurdistan, that has been a life- long desire of theirs stemming from centuries ago. They are originally nomads that moved into countries such as Syria, Iraq, Turkey but their origins are in Iran. It was brought up from time to time but recently it has been discussed more openly and adamantly. It has now become a demand and one they will stop at nothing to achieve. This is quite problematic and many people in the region are waiting to see how this will unfold. It is surely a battle, the end results are unknown. The Kurds were treated well and did not have any issues with the Syrian Government. They had equal rights, free education, free healthcare like the rest of the Syrians.   Many do not have a passport which makes traveling legally an issue but it doesn’t seem to be a big concern for them.

Question: How have the illegal Western sanctions on Syria impacted the Al-Hasaka area?

Answer: The illegal sanctions have had a detrimental affect on the entire country. Due to its location in the North East of the country at times it felt like the Hasaka province was cut off from the rest of Syria. It was not receiving any sort of shipments from the other parts of Syria and had to rely on goods coming in from Iraq that were originally made in Turkey and Iran such as food, oil, rice, sugar, sanitary products, children’s items such as diapers and formula. At some points during the war the only thing they were receiving from inside of the country was Medicine coming from Damascus, even this was cut off during certain periods. Medical concerns and issues have multiplied and caring for illnesses and health conditions has become a big concern. It is both very expensive and also very difficult to find medicine and items such as infant formula. Another concern is that medical equipment has now become outdated and most of the machines do not work. Spare parts to repair them are unavailable. Most people with severe health conditions have had to move out of the area. The price of everything has multiplied. In 2015-2016 people had to rely on whatever products, food, healthcare, medicine, and everyday products that were already in the stores.. nothing else was being brought in. The demand was still there but the supply was dwindling and that of course caused severe economic turmoil and inflation.  Another issue related to the sanctions is that right now there are no exports from Syria, which in turn made the price of the dollar rise which then had a negative effect on everything else. For instance the price of infant formula had reached 5,000 syp which is about 10x what it was worth before.. some people were stating they are willing to pay 10,000 syp for a few days of formula but even that was difficult to locate in the stores. For the past few months they have been receive more medicine.

Question: What do other people in the governorate think about the Mandatory Self-Defence Duty and the prospect of killing Syrian soldiers?

Answer: In Al Qamishly they have had a few conflicts between the SAA and the Kurdish soldiers.  The last one was nine months ago and it lasted for four days. Right now they are not having any issues, but there is tension and it could break out into a fight at any time.  Last time they killed four Syrian soldiers, and at that time there were Arabs who said they would no longer fight against the Syrian army, and they gave up their weapons and left the SDF. They refused to fight against the Syrian soldiers.

When they are taking over new areas they are forcing the people in the new area to fight along with them.  There were a few families in the villages that refused to fight along with them and they kicked them out of the villages and claimed that their homes now belong to the Kurds and they are not to return and claim their properties in the future.

SAA Hasakah
“Tensions erupted between pro-government forces and Kurdish groups in Hasaka on Tuesday, leading to the most significant violence between the sides since several days of fighting in Qamishli in April.” ~ Reuters 18/8/2016 (Photo: Press TV)

Question: What happens if citizens refuse to fight the SAA? Are they threatened?

Answer: See above yes, they were given an ultimatum either fight with us or you will be forced to leave and forfeit their properties. Usually they would then move to other villages or the city where they are not forced to fight alongside the Kurds.  Once you start fighting with them, you are forced to fight whoever they need you to fight against and that includes the Syrian Army. You become trapped and ordered to follow their commands

Question: Do some people have no option?  (ie fight against Syria or starve? Fight or go to jail? )

Answer: As mentioned previously yes, the ultimatum is either fight with us or you will relinquish your property and move out of town. They have already done this numerous times.

Question: Which country is paying the Kurdish soldier wages?  How do they receive payment? Are they paid better than SAA soldiers?

Answer: Initially when they were fighting alongside the SAA it was the Syrian government that was paying their wages. Then the USA got involved and they formed the Syrian Democratic Forces on October 10th 2015.  Right now we are not certain who is paying their wages,  but it is rumoured that the U.S is the one providing them with money since we know that they are providing them with weapons, training and  armoured vehicles.

 Question: Are some of the Kurdish leaders criminals?

Answer: Many of the local leaders didn’t hold any titles or ranks before the war, they didn’t have any army or political experience.  They were not educated or well to do and most of them were in fact troublemakers with prior criminal convictions. These are on the local level. A differentiation needs to be made between the local leaders and their followers and the ones that came from Qandal Moutains in Turkey. On the local level yes they were smugglers and it’s been said that some are in the drug business. They loitered and stole items from the shops and homes in the areas they took control over. They were considered thugs. The ones that are coming from Qandal mountains have political and military experience.

Question: Can you tell us about the SDF?

Answer: First, I want to say that it’s not what the USA is trying to make it out to seem. The USA needed to support a group of people in Syria that did not have direct ties to terrorist groups. They did this after their union with the Free Syrian Army and “moderate rebels” fell through when it became clear that these were nothing less than terrorists and had ties to Al Qaeda and Daesh. The allies of SDF are the USA, France, UK, and a number of other smaller groups. Their headquarters is in AlQamishly. They state that they have about 50,000 fighters but we are unsure of that. They are mostly Kurdish and recently just a few days ago a large number of fighters defected from the SDF. They are led by the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and their goal is to create their own federation in the NE of Syria.  There are US forces embedded with the SDF forces. The Pentagon confirmed the arms, ammunition, rifles, mortars, and ammunition it sent to them. The USA is heavily funding them and recently stated that they would continue to train and equip forces of the Manbij Military council.

Flag_of_Syrian_Democratic_Forces.svg
The SDF flag. “During the SDF’s late summer 2016 Western al-Bab offensive against ISIL, the U.S. Air Force provided close combat support for SDF forces. Late September 2016, the U.S. spokesman for the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF–OIR) confirmed that the SDF, including the YPG, is also part of the “vetted forces” in the train and equip program and will be supplied with weapons. ~ Wikipedia

Conclusion:

Sarah’s interview with Samir was a process that extended over a period of time, and she has amplified and clarified some of his commentaries.

What is clear is that the US and its allies, in particular Turkey in this case, are committing crimes of aggression against the sovereign state of Syria beneath the Big Lie of combatting terrorism.  The real plan, which is self-evident in this overview of the Kurdish issue, is to divide, conquer, and destroy Syria through economic and armed terrorism.

When a family chooses to leave, terrorists are quick to occupy the house, and to claim ownership.

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