Wednesday 29 August 2018

America made an offer they thought couldn't be refused


By Joaquin Flores

28 August, 2018

The following are the recorded proceedings of a US-Syrian meeting in the Damascus center, Mezzeh, as reported originally by generally reliable Al-Akhbar News. It relates to events which took place just this past June, and were revealed today for the first time ever.

On one of the nights of the last week of last June 2018, the Syrian security forces imposed strict measures inside and around Damascus International Airport. Just before midnight, a private UAE plane landed on one of the stands. About forty minutes passed before a huge procession of black SUVs took off carrying the passengers to the Mezzeh area, in the center of Damascus, where the new office of Major General Ali Mamlouk, head of Syria’s national security office, is located. There, a senior US officer led a delegation that included officers from several US intelligence and security agencies.
He was accompanied by the visiting American delegation, along with the head of the General Intelligence Directorate, Major General Deeb Zeitoun, and the Deputy Chief of the General Staff, Major General Mowafaq Asaad. The meeting between the two sides continued for four hours.
What happened? 
According to information obtained by Al Akhbar, the two sides reviewed various aspects of the Syrian crisis and the stages of development and repercussions in the region, before getting down to business. A clear and specific American offer was made: The United States is ready to withdraw its troops completely from Syrian territory, including the Al-Tanf and East Euphrates according to security arrangements supervised by the Russian and Syrian armies.
In exchange for meeting Damascus on these points, the US had three demands.
First : Iran’s full withdrawal from the Syrian south.
Washington: withdrawal from the Altnef and eastern Euphrates against three conditions, including giving us a share of oil
Second: obtaining written assurances that US companies will receive a share of the oil sector in eastern Syria. 
Third, to provide the Syrian side with the Americans with full data on the terrorist groups and their members, including the numbers of foreign victims of these groups and those who survived, and those who have the possibility of returning to Western countries, considering that “the terrorist threat is intercontinental, we can get hurt in the service of international security”.
The Syrian side answered with a collected mind, the Syrian side treated the American visitors respectfully and and felt the offer presented was “tempting.”
An answer to the three points was also clear: 
First, you are an occupying power in Syria, you entered our territory forcibly without permission and you can go out in the same way. Until that happens, we will continue to treat you as an occupying power.

Second, Syria is not a country cut off from a tree; it is part of a broad axis. Our position on the relationship with Iran is clear, and President Bashar al-Assad has repeated on more than one occasion and in public speech that our alliance with Tehran, Hezbollah and allied forces that fought the terrorists alongside the Syrian army has forged “a strong relationship.”
Thirdly, “our priority after the war is cooperation with allied and friendly countries that have not conspired against the Syrian people, and we will not have to give facilities to companies belonging to countries that have fought and are still fighting.” But Mamluk added, “This can be left to a later stage when the Syrian government determines the policy of reconstruction. US companies can then enter the Syrian energy sector through Western or Russian companies. We consider this a gesture of goodwill in response to your visit. ”
Damascus: We are firm with Tehran and will make no security coordination with the West before the return of normalized political relations.
Fourthly, in relation to the information about terrorist groups, one of your own allies as you know had visited me a year ago, here in Damascus, the deputy head of Australian intelligence. He confirmed that his visit was conducted with your knowledge, that he was, to some extent, representing you, and asked for information about Australian Islamists of Arab origin who were fighting in the ranks of terrorist groups.
I will now repeat to you what I have replied to today: We have tons of information of the structure of terrorist groups today, which has developed considerably during the years of crisis. We are fully aware of the dangers that these people pose to us and to you. We are aware of the extent to which you need this information, and we know that it is essential for the security services to stay in touch even during crises. We have already provided information to Jordanians and to many other countries, including the United Arab Emirates. But our position on this matter today is linked to the evolution of your political position from Syria and its regime and army.
The meeting ended with the agreement to keep the communication going through the Russian-Emirati channel before the black motorcade went back to Damascus International Airport to leave in the same way that it arrived
From His Majesty the King to His Brother President”
In early July, as the Syrian army regained control of the Naseeb crossing, the Jordanian army deployed reinforcements on the border with Syria to prevent any new wave of displaced persons from entering Jordanian territory. Oman has played a key role in persuading armed groups that have been in control of the crossing since 2015 to agree to the terms of surrender. In the information, high-level Jordanian-Syrian contacts were then coordinated, including a liaison between the Chairman of the Jordanian Joint Chiefs of Staff, Maj. Gen. Mahmoud Feryhat, and the head of the Syrian National Security Bureau, Major General Ali Mamlouk, in which the first of the two asked: “To convey the greetings of your brother King Abdullah to his brother, Bashar al-Assad”.
In an interview in April 2017, Assad accused Jordan of preparing to send troops to southern Syria in coordination with the Americans, describing Jordan as “part of the American plan since the beginning of the war in Syria.” Jordan was also the headquarters of the operations room «Almok», which was coordinating the attacks of armed groups against the Syrian army in the south.
The United Arab Emirates recently sent a “maintenance team” to inspect its embassy in the Syrian capital in an indication that a “activity” at the embassy could resume. The decision followed the resumption of the air route between the Syrian province of Latakia and the emirate of Sharjah in May after a halt of a few years.
The Syrian Embassy in Abu Dhabi has not been closed, and the Consular Section has continued to provide services to the Syrian community in the UAE. Despite the UAE’s announcement of severing relations at the beginning of the crisis in response to Saudi pressure, at a certain level of warmth, the two countries maintained their control over Dubai’s rulers, Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Fujairah’s Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed al-Sharqi.
Mrs. Bushra al-Assad, the sister of the Syrian president and the widow of General Asif Shawkat, head of Syrian military intelligence, has been living with her children in Dubai since September 2012 under security protection. It is known that the volume of UAE investments in Syria, before 2011, exceeded 20 billion dollars. At the beginning of the Syrian crisis, the UAE committed itself to a cautious stance on the Syrian “revolution” before it was swept into the Saudi agenda. In March 2016, UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan called for a final end to the Syrian crisis through a comprehensive political solution.

US chose ‘neocolonial course’ in Syria to gain control over its resources – Russian envoy to UN

US chose ‘neocolonial course’ in Syria to gain control over its resources – Russian envoy to UN
FILE PHOTO. © Rodi Said / Reuters

29 August, 2018

Washington pursues a “neocolonial” policy aimed at dividing Syria and ultimately seizing its resources, the Russian ambassador to the United Nations, Vassily Nebenzia, said during a special UN Security Council (UNSC) meeting.

The US “continues its inherently neocolonial course aimed at division of [Syria]” as the US-led coalition supports the establishment of some “loyal governmental substitutes,” Nebenzia said during the UNSC session on Tuesday, as he slammed Washington’s actions in the war-torn Middle Eastern country.

He also drew attention to the fact that the coalition consistently expands its presence in Syria by building new bases and strengthening its forces.

It is becoming clear that [the US-led coalition] attempts to take hold of the Syrian territory and gain control over its resources,” the Russian diplomat said during the urgent UNSC session, convened at Russia’s request to discuss the situation in Syria’s Idlib province. Located in Syria’s northwest, this region is the only one still mostly controlled by various militant groups, including some terrorist organizations such as Al-Nusra (now known as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham).

Earlier on Tuesday, the head of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford, de facto admitted that the US plans to stay in Syria indefinitely. He said that, apart from fighting terrorists on Syrian soil, US forces also intend to train local armed groups to serve as what he called a “security force.”

What is really important… is training a security forces necessary to stabilize those areas that have already been cleared of ISIS and that is going to take some time to do that,” Dunford said during a joint Pentagon press briefing with US Defense Secretary James Mattis. The general also said that US “won’t be ready to talk about reconstruction until there’s a political solution.”

Mattis, meanwhile, made more specific comments concerning the US plans for Syria. 
Our goal is to move the Syrian Civil War into the Geneva process, so the Syrian people can establish a new government that is not led by Assad,” he said. The Pentagon head also said that Iranian forces have no right to be in Syria, as they support the government in Damascus.

However, Russia and Iran sent their forces and advisers to Syria at the official request of the Syrian government, to help it fight terrorists, while the US and its allies have been operating in Syria without approval from Syrian authorities or any UN mandate.

Politicized approach’

Nebenzia also condemned the politicized approach of Washington to rebuilding Syria, bringing up the internal UN directive that severely limits the UN agencies’ cooperation with Syria until a "political transition" takes place there.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov raised the issue last week and linked the release of the directive with the "absolutely deconstructive" US stance on Syrian reconstruction. Washington has refused to fund any rebuilding programs in Syria on territories under government control, continuing the policy set under the Obama administration that “Assad must go” first.

The internal UN document, titled 'Parameters and Principles of UN Assistance in Syria' and issued by the UN Secretariat in October 2017 without UNSC approval, says that any UN aid for reconstruction efforts will be possible only following "political transition" in Syria. It also limits the ability of UN agencies to cooperate with Damascus under various pretexts, and even says that the UN "will not promote the return of refugees” to Syria.

After the UN secretary-general’s office denied the existence of any such document, the Russian Foreign Ministry cited the directive in detail in a statement to the media.

The document “does exist despite the phony attempts to deny this fact,” Nebenzia said during the UNSC meeting, adding that the directive “strikingly resembles” a “well-known politicized stance of some western countries.” Such an “irresponsible” approach runs counter to the UN principle of neutrality, he said.

Syrian army has no chemical weapons or plans to use them

The Russian envoy to the UN then expressed Moscow’s concerns over potential false flag attacks involving the use of chemical weapons, which could be used by Western states as a pretext to launch airstrikes against Damascus.

The Syrian Army has no chemical weapons and no plans to use it,” Nebenzia said, adding that it would be absolutely senseless from a military point of view. At the same time, he said that the US and its allies could “wait for a militants’ provocation” and then conduct another air strike while accusing the Syrian government of being responsible for the chemical incident.

Earlier in the day, Mattis said that Washington has been in “active communication” with Moscow to prevent any chemical weapon attacks in Syria. At the same time, he once again said that the US would not hesitate to respond if an attack takes place.

You have seen our administration act twice on the use of chemical weapons,” Mattis told reporters, referencing US airstrikes against the Syrian government after alleged chemical attacks. “I will assure you that the Department of State has been in active communication, recent active communication, with Russia to enlist them in preventing this. I’ll just leave it at that for right now. But communication is going on.”

Last week, US National Security Adviser John Bolton also stated that “if the Syrian regime uses chemical weapons, we will respond very strongly and they really ought to think about this a long time.” On Monday, however, the Russian Defense Ministry warned that US-sponsored opposition forces may be preparing to stage a fake chemical attack to lure the US into retaliatory strikes against the Syrian government.

The implementation of this provocation, which is being conducted with the assistance of the British intelligence services, is meant to serve as the latest pretext for the US, Britain and France to deliver a missile strike against state and economic facilities in Syria,” General Igor Konashenkov, the spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, said.

As the specter of a chemical attack looms, the US is building up its military presence in the region. Last weekend, the missile destroyer USS Ross was deployed to the Mediterranean, carrying 28 Tomahawk cruise missiles. It came after a similar move of the USS The Sullivans to the Persian Gulf and the rebasing of a B-1B Lancer strategic bomber to an air base in Qatar. The Russian ministry said the “preparations are the latest evidence of the US intention to use” a chemical provocation.

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