Syria has condemned as a “new crime” Turkey’s downing of a Russian fighter jet involved in anti-terror operation in the Arab country.
Syria’s Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi said on Tuesday that the shooting down of the Russian warplane was a “new crime” which will add to the previous atrocities committed by the militants and their foreign supporters.
Zoubi specified Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar as the sponsors of the militants, saying they have spared no efforts in providing arm and finance to the terror group in Syria.
Syria’s official news agency, SANA, meanwhile, quoted a military source denouncing Turkey’s downing of the Russian jet over its territory as a “flagrant aggression against Syrian sovereignty.”
The incident “demonstrates without a doubt that the Turkish government takes the side of terrorism,” the source said.
Meanwhile, President of the Czech Republic Milos Zeman has also denounced Turkey’s downing of a Russian fighter jet, saying the attack on the military assets of a country fighting against terrorists in Syria is nothing but a “radical measure.”
“Considering that the Russian air group is fighting against the IS (Daesh), then, of course, the attack is an extremely radical measure,” said Zeman on Tuesday, adding that the move could “only make the atmosphere worse.”
The comments came hours after Ankara announced that its aircraft had downed a Russian fighter jet after the warplane allegedly violated Turkey’s airspace. Russia denied the accusation that the bomber was flying in the Turkish airspace.
The Czech president said Turkey’s attack on the jet again fuels previously-raised suspicions that Ankara is supporting the terrorists in Syria. “Sometimes, a suspicion is voiced that Turkey is informally interacting” with Daesh, a Takfiri terrorist group operating in Syria.
Following the downing of the Sukhoi Su-24, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin described the move as a “stab in the back,” saying it will have “serious consequences” for Moscow-Ankara ties.
“Today’s loss is a stab in the back by the accomplices of terrorism,” Putin said, adding that Turkey is helping finance Daesh through oil sales.
Reactions poured in over the incident with many Western leaders warning that such actions could further complicate the situation in Syria.
Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, appealed for “cool heads” during what he called a “dangerous moment,” while a United Nations spokesman in Geneva said the gunning down of the Russian fighter jet could complicate the war on terror in Syria.
UN Backs Russia’s War on US-Backed Syria Terrorists
UN Security Council resolution authorises ‘all necessary means’ to be used against groups associated with al Qaeda
By Alexander Mercouris
They have now obtained UN Security Council as well as Syrian government approval for Russia’s military campaign.
They have also got the UN Security Council to scotch the myth of the “moderate jihadis” once and for all.
Back in September, when it became clear the Russians were intending to act in Syria, Russia Insider predicted the Russians would try to get a Resolution from the UN Security Council to give additional legal cover for their military action.
This is in contrast to the US, which avoids the Security Council whenever it can, and which usually prefers to act unilaterally without a UN Security Council mandate.
Thus US bombing of the Islamic State in Syria was doubly illegal under international law because it was carried out without permission from either the UN Security Council or from the Syrian government.
Russia’s military action by contrast is completely legal. It has the permission of both the UN Security Council and the Syrian government for it.
It took weeks for the Russians to get their Security Council Resolution. This was because the US did everything it could to stand in the way. However, after weeks of hard work, Russia’s diplomats have finally got the Resolution Russia wanted.
What changed the position was the terrorist outrage in Paris.
After the Paris attack the French backed Russia’s proposal for a UN Security Council Resolution. At that point the US could no longer block it. The US cannot veto a Resolution backed by its own ally France, especially in the immediate aftermath of a terrorist attack.
Something that suggests some people in the US might be unhappy with this development is the absence from the Security Council table of one person who would normally be expected to be there for such an important vote.
This was Samantha Power – the US’s UN ambassador – a hardline liberal interventionist and one of the most aggressive voices within the US administration calling for regime change in Syria and confrontation with Russia.
Her relations with Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s exceptionally able UN ambassador, are said to be poisonous (see the photo at the top of this article).
It looks as if voting for the Resolution was more than Samantha Power could bear. That probably explains why she stayed away.
In her absence it was left to her deputy, Michele Sison – a career diplomat – to speak and vote for the US.
The full text of the Resolution – which is not limited to Syria – is below.
The UN has also released – along with the full text of the Resolution – a summary of the debate in the Security Council that preceded the vote.
The key words in the Resolution are these:
“(The Security Council) Calls upon Member States that have the capacity to do so to take all necessary measures, in compliance with international law, in particular with the United Nations Charter, as well as international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law, on the territory under the control of ISIL also known as Da’esh, in Syria and Iraq, to redouble and coordinate their efforts to prevent and suppress terrorist acts committed specifically by ISIL also known as Da’esh as well as ANF, and all other individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities associated with Al-Qaida, and other terrorist groups”
The Security Council has not only backed Russia’s military campaign (“all necessary means”), but it has also made clear that Russia is fully entitled to extend this campaign to “all other individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities associated with Al-Qaeda, and other terrorist groups”.
The Resolution names amongst these terrorist groups the Al-Nusrah Front.
Russia is therefore fully authorised to bomb all the various jihadi groups in Syria that it is bombing.
Even the US has been forced to admit – at least in the Security Council – that the talk of Russia bombing the wrong people – the “moderate jihadis” – is nonsense.
“The Security Council,
“Reaffirming its resolutions 1267 (1999), 1368 (2001), 1373 (2001), 1618 (2005), 1624 (2005), 2083 (2012), 2129 (2013), 2133 (2014), 2161 (2014), 2170 (2014), 2178 (2014), 2195 (2014), 2199 (2015) and 2214 (2015), and its relevant presidential statements,
“Reaffirming the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations,
“Reaffirming its respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence and unity of all States in accordance with purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter,
“Reaffirming that terrorism in all forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security and that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable regardless of their motivations, whenever and by whomsoever committed,
“Determining that, by its violent extremist ideology, its terrorist acts, its continued gross systematic and widespread attacks directed against civilians, abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law, including those driven on religious or ethnic ground, its eradication of cultural heritage and trafficking of cultural property, but also its control over significant parts and natural resources across Iraq and Syria and its recruitment and training of foreign terrorist fighters whose threat affects all regions and Member States, even those far from conflict zones, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as Da’esh), constitutes a global and unprecedented threat to international peace and security,
“Recalling that the Al-Nusrah Front (ANF) and all other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with Al-Qaida also constitute a threat to international peace and security,
“Determined to combat by all means this unprecedented threat to international peace and security,
“Noting the letters dated 25 June 2014 and 20 September 2014 from the Iraqi authorities which state that Da’esh has established a safe haven outside Iraq’s borders that is a direct threat to the security of the Iraqi people and territory,
“Reaffirming that Member States must ensure that any measures taken to combat terrorism comply with all their obligations under international law, in particular international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law;
“Reiterating that the situation will continue to deteriorate further in the absence of a political solution to the Syria conflict and emphasizing the need to implement the Geneva communiqué of 30 June 2012 endorsed as Annex II of its resolution 2118 (2013), the joint statement on the outcome of the multilateral talks on Syria in Vienna of 30 October 2015 and the statement of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) of 14 November 2015,
“1. Unequivocally condemns in the strongest terms the horrifying terrorist attacks perpetrated by ISIL also known as Da’esh which took place on 26 June 2015 in Sousse, on 10 October 2015 in Ankara, on 31 October 2015 over Sinaï, on 12 November 2015 in Beirut and on 13 November 2015 in Paris, and all other attacks perpetrated by ISIL also known as Da’esh, including hostage-taking and killing, and notes it has the capability and intention to carry out further attacks and regards all such acts of terrorism as a threat to peace and security;
“2. Expresses its deepest sympathy and condolences to the victims and their families and to the people and Governments of Tunisia, Turkey, Russian Federation, Lebanon and France, and to all Governments whose citizens were targeted in the above mentioned attacks and all other victims of terrorism;
“3. Condemns also in the strongest terms the continued gross, systematic and widespread abuses of human rights and violations of humanitarian law, as well as barbaric acts of destruction and looting of cultural heritage carried out by ISIL also known as Da’esh;
“4. Reaffirms that those responsible for committing or otherwise responsible for terrorist acts, violations of international humanitarian law or violations or abuses of human rights must be held accountable;
“5. Calls upon Member States that have the capacity to do so to take all necessary measures, in compliance with international law, in particular with the United Nations Charter, as well as international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law, on the territory under the control of ISIL also known as Da’esh, in Syria and Iraq, to redouble and coordinate their efforts to prevent and suppress terrorist acts committed specifically by ISIL also known as Da’esh as well as ANF, and all other individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities associated with Al-Qaida, and other terrorist groups, as designated by the United Nations Security Council, and as may further be agreed by the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) and endorsed by the UN Security Council, pursuant to the statement of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) of 14 November, and to eradicate the safe haven they have established over significant parts of Iraq and Syria;
“6. Urges Member States to intensify their efforts to stem the flow of foreign terrorist fighters to Iraq and Syria and to prevent and suppress the financing of terrorism, and urges all Members States to continue to fully implement the above-mentioned resolutions;
“7. Expresses its intention to swiftly update the 1267 committee sanctions list in order to better reflect the threat posed by ISIL also known as Da’esh;
“8. Decides to remain seized of the matter.
Copyright © 2015 Russia Insider
|Hitting Saudi Arabia Where It Hurts |
Though faced with a global terrorism crisis, Official Washington can’t get beyond its neocon-led “tough-guy-gal” rhetoric. But another option – financial sanctions on Saudi Arabia – might help finally shut down the covert supply of money and arms to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, writes Robert Parry.
By Robert Parry
November 24, 2015 “Information Clearing House” – “Consortiumnews” – As the Islamic State and Al Qaeda enter a grim competition to see who can kill more civilians around the world, the fate of Western Civilization as we’ve known it arguably hangs in the balance. It will not take much more terror for the European Union to begin cracking up and for the United States to transform itself into a full-scale surveillance state.
Yet, in the face of this crisis, many of the same people who set us on this road to destruction continue to dominate – and indeed frame – the public debate. For instance, Official Washington’s neocons still insist on their recipe for “regime change” in countries that they targeted 20 years ago. They also demand a new Cold War with Russia in defense of a corrupt right-wing regime in Ukraine, further destabilizing Europe and disrupting U.S.-Russian cooperation in Syria.
Given the stakes, you might think that someone in a position of power – or one of the many candidates for U.S. president – would offer some pragmatic and realistic ideas for addressing this extraordinary threat. But most Republicans – from Marco Rubio to Carly Fiorina to Ted Cruz – only offer more of “more of the same,” i.e. neocon belligerence on steroids. Arguably, Donald Trump and Rand Paul are exceptions to this particular hysteria, but neither has offered a coherent and comprehensive counter-analysis.
On the Democratic side, frontrunner Hillary Clinton wins praise from the neocon editors of The Washington Post for breaking with President Barack Obama’s hesitancy to fully invade Syria. Former Secretary of State Clinton wants an invasion to occupy parts of Syria as a “safe area” and to destroy Syrian (and presumably Russian) planes if they violate her “no-fly zone.”
Much like the disastrous U.S. invasions of Iraq and Libya, Clinton and her neocon allies are pitching the invasion of Syria as a humanitarian venture to remove a “brutal dictator” – in this case, President Bashar al-Assad – as well as to “destroy” the Islamic State, which Assad’s army and its Iranian-Russian allies have also been fighting. Assad’s military, Iranian troops and Russian planes have hit other jihadist groups, too, such as Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham, which receives U.S. weapons as it fights side-by-side with Nusra in the Army of Conquest.
Clinton’s strategy likely would protect jihadists except for the Islamic State — and thus keep hope alive for “regime change” — explaining why the Post’s neocon editors, who were enthusiastic boosters of the Iraq War in 2003, hailed her hawkish approach toward Syria as “laudable.”
To Clinton’s left, Sen. Bernie Sanders has punted on the issue of what to do in either Syria or the Middle East, failing to offer any thoughtful ideas about what can be done to stabilize the region. He opted instead for a clever but vacuous talking point, arguing that the Saudis and other rich oil sheiks of the Persian Gulf should use their wealth and militaries to bring order to the region, to “get their hands dirty.”
The problem is that the Saudis, the Qataris and the Kuwaitis – along with the Turks – are a big part of the problem. They have used their considerable wealth to finance and arm Al Qaeda and its various allies and spinoffs, including the Islamic State. Their hands are already very dirty.
Saudi ‘Hard Power’
What we have seen in the Middle East since the 1980s is Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states creating “hard power” for their regional ambitions by assembling paramilitary forces that are willing and even eager to lash out at “enemies,” whether against Shiite rivals or Western powers.
While the wealthy Saudis, Qataris and other pampered princes don’t want to become soldiers themselves, they’re more than happy to exploit disaffected young Sunnis, turn them into jihadists and unleash them. Al Qaeda (dating back to the anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan in the 1980s) and the Islamic State (emerging in resistance to the U.S.-installed Shiite regime in Iraq after 2003) are Saudi Arabia’s foot soldiers.
This reality is similar to how the Reagan administration supported right-wing paramilitary forces in Central America during the 1980s, including “death squads” in El Salvador and Guatemala and the drug-tainted “Contras” in Nicaragua. These extremists were willing to do the “dirty work” that Reagan’s CIA considered necessary to reverse the tide of leftist revolution in the region, but with “deniability” built in so Official Washington couldn’t be directly blamed for the slaughters.
Also, in the 1980s, the Reagan administration’s hardliners, including CIA Director William J. Casey, saw the value of using Islamic extremism to undermine the Soviet Union, with its official position of atheism. The CIA and the Saudis worked hand in hand in building the Afghan mujahedeen – an Islamic fundamentalist movement – to overthrow the Soviet-backed secular government in Kabul.
The “success” of that strategy included severe harm dealt to the struggling Soviet economy and the eventual ouster (and murder) of the Moscow-backed president, Najibullah. But the strategy also gave rise to the Taliban, which took power and installed a medieval regime, and Al Qaeda, which evolved from the Saudi and other foreign fighters (including Saudi Osama bin Laden) who had flocked to the Afghan jihad.
In effect, the Afghan experience created the modern jihadist movement – and the Saudis, in particular, understood the value of this paramilitary force to punish governments and political groups that the Saudis and their oil-rich friends considered threats. Officially, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Sunni oil states could claim that they weren’t behind the terrorists while letting money and arms slip through.
Though Al Qaeda and the other jihadists had their own agendas – and could take independent action – the Saudis and other sheiks could direct these paramilitary forces against the so-called “Shiite crescent,” from Iran through Syria to Lebanon (and after the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, against Iraq’s Shiite government as well).
At times, the jihadists also proved useful for the United States and Israel, striking at Hezbollah in Lebanon, fighting for “regime change” in Syria, collaborating in the 2011 ouster (and murder) of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, even joining forces with the U.S.-backed Ukrainian government to kill ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine.
Since these Sunni jihadists were most adept at killing Shiites, they endeared themselves not only to their Saudi, Qatari and Kuwaiti benefactors, but also to Israel, which has identified Shiite-ruled Iran as its greatest strategic threat. Thus, the American neocons, who collaborate closely with Israel’s right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, had mixed attitudes toward the Sunni jihadists, too.
Plus, high-profile terrorism, including the 9/11 attacks, enabled the tough-talking neocons to consolidate their control over U.S. foreign policy, diverting American fury over Al Qaeda’s killing nearly 3,000 people in New York and Washington to implement the neocons’ “regime change” agenda, first in Iraq though it had nothing to do with 9/11, with plans to move on to Syria and Iran.
As the Military-Industrial Complex made out like bandits with billions upon billions of dollars thrown at the “War on Terror,” grateful military contractors kicked back some profits to major think tanks where neocon thinkers were employed to develop more militaristic plans. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “A Family Business of Perpetual War.”]
But the downside of this coziness with the Sunni jihadists has been that Al Qaeda and its spinoff, the Islamic State, perceive the West as their ultimate enemy, drawing from both historic and current injustices inflicted on the Islamic world by Europe and the United States. The terrorist leaders cite this mistreatment to recruit young people from impoverished areas of the Middle East and the urban slums of Europe – and get them to strap on suicide-belts.
Thus, Al Qaeda and now the Islamic State not only advance the neocon/Israeli/Saudi agenda by launching terror attacks in Syria against Assad’s government and in Lebanon against Hezbollah, but they strike out on their own against U.S. and European targets, even in Africa where Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for last week’s murderous assault on an upscale Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako, Mali.
It also appears that Al Qaeda and the Islamic State have entered into a competition over who can stage the bloodiest attacks against Westerners as a way to bolster recruitment. The Bamako attack was an attempt by Al Qaeda to regain the spotlight from the Islamic State which boasted of a vicious string of attacks on Paris, Beirut and a Russian tourist flight in the Sinai.
The consequence of these murderous rampages has been to threaten the political and economic cohesion of Europe and to increase pressures for a strengthened surveillance state inside the United States. In other words, some of the most treasured features of Western civilization – personal liberty and relative affluence – are being endangered.
Yet, rather than explain the real reasons for this crisis – and what the possible solutions might be – no one in the U.S. mainstream political world or the major media seems able or willing to talk straight to the American people about how we got here.
Sanders’s Lost Opportunity
While you might have expected as much from most Republicans (who have surrounded themselves with neocon advisers) and from Hillary Clinton (who has cultivated her own ties to the neocons and their liberal interventionist sidekicks), you might have hoped that Sanders would have adopted a thoughtful critique of Official Washington’s neocon-dominated “group think.”
But instead he offers a simplistic and nonsensical prescription of demanding the Saudis do more – when that would only inflict more death and destruction on the region and beyond. Arguably, the opposite would make much more sense – impose tough financial sanctions against Saudi Arabia as punishment for its continued support for Al Qaeda and the Islamic State.
Freezing or confiscating Saudi bank accounts around the world might finally impress on the spoiled princes of the Persian Gulf oil states that there is a real price to pay for dabbling in terrorism. Such an action against Saudi Arabia also would send a message to smaller Sunni sheikdoms that they could be next. Other pressures, including possible expulsion from NATO, could be brought to bear on Turkey.
If the West finally got serious about stopping this financial and military support for Al Qaeda, the Islamic State and their jihadist allies in Syria, the violence might finally abate. And, if the United States and Europe put pressure on the “moderate” Syrian opposition – whatever there is of it – to compromise, a political solution might be possible, too.
Right now, the biggest obstacle to a political agreement appears to be the U.S. insistence that President Assad be barred from elections once Syria achieves some stability. Yet, if President Obama is so certain that the Syrian people hate Assad, it seems crazy to let Assad’s presumed defeat at the polls obstruct such a crucial deal.
The only explanation for this U.S. stubbornness is that the neocons and the liberal hawks have made “regime change” in Syria such a key part of their agenda that they would lose face if Assad’s departure was not mandated. However, with the future of Western civilization in the balance, such obstinate behavior seems not only feckless but reckless.
From understanding how this mess was made, some U.S. politician could fashion an appeal that might have broad popular support across the political spectrum. If Sanders took up this torch for a rational plan for bringing relative peace to the Middle East, he also might shift the dynamics of the Democratic race.
Of course, to challenge Official Washington’s “group think” is always dangerous. If compromise and cooperation suddenly replaced “regime change” as the U.S. goal, the neocons and liberal hawks would flip out. But the stakes are extremely high for the planet’s future. Maybe saving Western civilization is worth the risk of facing down a neocon/liberal-hawk temper tantrum.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includesAmerica’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.