“How many years have you been living in Beirut?” I asked my barber, Eyad, after he told me, beaming, that in three months from now, he will be returning home, to Damascus.
Even one year ago, such conversations would not be easy to commence. But now, everything has been changing, rapidly and, one wants to believe, irreversibly.
Although nothing is truly irreversible, the better things are on the ground in Syria, the more threatening the West is becoming, particularly the United States. Now it is, once again, intimidating Damascus, ready to attack the Syrian army, something that could easily drag Russia and others into a lethal confrontation. The war! The West is clearly obsessed with perpetual war in Syria, while most of the Syrian people are passionate about bringing back an everlasting peace.
“6 years,” replied my barber, preparing his razor. I detected sadness and indignation in his voice, “6 years too many!”
“After you go back, then what? Are you going to open your own salon in Damascus?” I was curious. He is the best barber I have ever had, a real master of his trade, quick and confident, precise.
“No,” he smiled. “I never told you, but I’m a mechanical engineer… About being a barber; I learned the trade from my grandfather. In the Arab world now, millions are doing something that is not their main profession… But I want to return home and help to rebuild my country.”
I knew nothing about Eyad’s political affiliations. I used to consider it impolite to ask. Now I sensed that I could, but I didn’t. He was going back, returning home, eager to help his country, and that was all that mattered.
“Come visit me in Damascus,” he smiled, as we were parting. “Syria is a small country, but it is enormous!”
On February 24 2017, The New York Times, unleashed its usual vitriolic sarcasm towards the country which hosts enormous number of Syrian refugees – Lebanon:
“About 1.5 million Syrians have sought refuge in Lebanon, making up about a quarter of the population, according to officials and relief groups, and there is a widely held belief in Lebanon that refugees are a burden on the country’s economy and social structure.
Mr. Tahan, a gregarious man who sought to portray himself as the refugees’ benefactor, dismissed the idea that they are harming the country’s economy and straining social services. He said the government pushed that view to get more money from the United Nations.
Refugees, he said, benefit the Lebanese, from the generator operators providing them with electricity, to the owners of shops where they spend their United Nations food vouchers, to landowners who benefit from their cheap labor. It is an argument often heard from international organizations, which say the burden of hosting the refugees is largely offset by the economic stimulus they provide, not to mention $1.9 billion in international aid in 2016 alone, the United Nations says.
Mr. Tahan said he expected the Syrians to stay for years, based on his experience in Lebanon’s civil war.”
One would hardly encounter such a tone when the New York Times is describing the ‘refugee crises’ in the European Union. There, several super-rich and much more populous countries than Lebanon keep pretending that they simply cannot absorb approximately the same amount of people as has been sheltered by the tiny Middle Eastern nation.
In 2015, which is considered the ‘height of the refugee crises’, much less than 1.5 million people entered the European Union, seeking asylum there. Some of those 1.5 million were actually ‘refugees’ from Ukraine, Kosovo and Albania.
I covered the refugee crises from Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, but also the so-called ‘crises’ in Greece (Kos) and France (Calais). The West, which by then had already destabilized half of the world and almost the entire Middle East, was demonstrating extreme selfishness, brutal indifference, racism and a stubborn refusal to repent and to comprehend.
Whoever Mr. Tahan of the New York Times is, and whatever his agenda, he was wrong. As this report goes to print, the number of Syrian refugees living in Lebanon is dropping continually, as the Government in Damascus, supported by Russia, Iran, China, Cuba and Hezbollah has been winning the war against the terrorist groups, armed and supported by the West and its allies.
It is actually the West – its NGO’s and even their government agencies – that are “warning” the Syrians not to return home, claiming that “the situation in their country is still extremely dangerous.”
But such warnings can hardly deter the flow of refugees, back to Syria. As CBS News reported on February 2, 2018:
“… The 36-year-old is back home in Aleppo. He returned last summer – depressed, homesick and dreading another winter, he couldn’t bear life in the German city of Suhl.
Germany, he said, “was boring, boring, boring.”
The number of Syrian immigrants on the Lebanese territory has already dropped below 1 million, the first time since 2014, according to UNHCR.
People are returning home. They are going home by the thousands, every week.
They are moving back from Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, and even from that once imaginary paradise – the European countries such as Germany – which somehow failed to materialize, and even to impress many people from a country with one of the oldest and greatest histories and culture on Earth.
Mohammad Kanaan, an industrial maintenance student at ULF in Lebanon, explains:
“When I was in Syria, I had been studying mechanical design and development for three years… Due to the crises and war I was forced to leave. Afterwards I was forced to stop my education for three more years. Then, thanks to UNESCO initiative, I was accepted to study here in Lebanon… Following the war on Syria, I became more motivated to continue in my field of study. Specifically, since the infrastructure needs restoration and factories will soon be operational. The country needs many people armed with knowledge…”
The West did not expect such determination from the Syrian refugees. It was used to those migrants who have been coming from countless ruined and destabilized countries; people who were able to do just about anything and to say anything, as long as they were allowed to stay in the West.
The West tried to turn Syrians into precisely these kinds of immigrants, but it failed. In December 2014, I reported from Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region:
“Not far from the oilfields, there is a massive refugee camp; this one is for the Syrian exiles.
After negotiating entry, I manage to ask the director of the camp – Mr. Khawur Aref – how many refugees are sheltered here? “14,000,” he replies. “And after it reaches 15,000, this place will become unmanageable.”
I am discouraged from interviewing people, but I manage to speak to several refugees anyway, including Mr. Ali and his family, who came from the Syrian city of Sham.
I want to know whether all new arrivals get interrogated? The answer is – “Yes”. Are they asked questions, about whether they are for or against the President Bashar al-Assad? “Yes, they are: everybody is asked these questions and more…” And if a person – a truly desperate, needy and hungry person – answers that he supports the government of Bashar al-Assad, and came here because his country was being destroyed by the West, then what would happen?” I am told: “He and his family would never be allowed to stay in the Iraqi Kurdistan.”
I met Syrian refugees all over the Middle East, as well as in various European countries. Almost all of them felt nostalgic, even desperate, about being away from their beloved land. Most of them wanted to return. Some of them couldn’t wait for the first opportunity.
I knew Syrians who had visas in their pockets, even to such places like Canada, and they decided, at the last moment, not to leave their Motherland.
Syria is truly a unique country.
The West did not expect; it was not used to such determination from the people whose lives it destroyed.
“We are now going West, we have to go,” I was told by a Syrian lady with two children clinging to her, who was waiting in front of the Municipal Building on the Greek island of Kos. “We do it for our children. But mark my words; most of us will soon be going back.”
They are going back now. And the West does not like it; it hates it.
It likes to whine about how it is being used by ‘those impoverished hordes’, but it cannot really live without the immigrants, particularly from such educated countries like Syria.
Not only did the Syrian people fight bravely, defeating the brutal invasion of the Western-manufactured, trained, and financed, backed terrorists. But now the refugees are turning back on false and often humiliating comfort of the exile in Europe, Canada and elsewhere.
Such attitude ‘has to be punished’. For such courage, the Syrian cities and victorious Syrian army may be soon bombed and attacked, directly by the US and possibly also by the European forces.
In Beirut, as I was finishing this essay, I was visited, briefly, by two of my friends, Syrian educators, one from Aleppo, and the other, from Damascus.
“It is getting tough again,” I said.
“Yes,” they agreed. “In my neighborhood, in Damascus, two children were killed by the bullets fired by the terrorists, just before I left for this trip.”
“The US is saying it may attack the country, directly”, I uttered.
“They are always threatening,” I am told. “We are not afraid. Our people are determined, ready to defend our nation.”
Despite the new dangers, emboldened, the Syrian people are flowing back to their country. The Empire may try to punish them for their courage, patriotism and determination. But they are not scared and they are not alone. The Russians and other allies are ‘on the ground’ and ready to help defending Syria. The entire Middle East is watching.
Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Three of his latest books are his tribute to “The Great October Socialist Revolution” a revolutionary novel “Aurora” and a bestselling work of political non-fiction: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire”. View his other books here. Watch Rwanda Gambit, his groundbreaking documentary about Rwanda and DRCongo and his film/dialogue with Noam Chomsky “On Western Terrorism”. Vltchek presently resides in East Asia and the Middle East, and continues to work around the world. He can be reached through his website and his Twitter.
US Planning a Terrorist False Flag Chemical Attack in Syria: Russia Says It Will Respond
By Federico Pieraccini
Events in Syria increasingly resemble a direct confrontation between major powers rather than a proxy war. Lavrov’s words, delivered a few days ago, reveal the critical phase of international relations the world is going through, with a potentially devastating conflict ready to ignite in the Middle East region.
An alarming warning by Sergei Lavrov and Chief of the Russian General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, was announced via the RT broadcaster and several Russian media. The content is explosive and deserving of the widest possible dissemination. Gerasimov claimed that Moscow had “reliable information that fighters are preparing to stage the use by government troops of chemical weapons against the civilian population.” He alleged that the US intends to accuse Assad’s troops of using chemical weapons against civilians, and then “carry out a bombing attack” on Damascus. Gerasimov warned that Russia would “take retaliatory measures” if the US targeted areas where its military are located in the Syrian capital. “Russian military advisers, representatives of the Center for Reconciliation and members of military police” are currently in the Syrian capital, Gerasimov said, adding that in the event that the lives of Russian military personnel are placed in danger, the Russian Armed Forces will respond with certain measure to both “missiles” and their “launchers”. A few hours earlier, Lavrov responded, “criticizing the remarks by the US envoy to the UN, Nikki Haley, about Washington’s readiness to “bomb Damascus and even the presidential palace of Bashar Assad, regardless [of the] presence of the Russian representatives there.” “It is an absolutely irresponsible statement,” the Russian top diplomat added.
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The words of Gerasimov are even more dire, since he explains how the United States and its allies are preparing the ground to justify an attack on Syria. According to reports, terrorists stationed in Al-Tanf (an illegal US military base in Syria) received 20 tons of chlorine gas and detonators, disguised as cigarette packs, in order to attack in an area under the control of the terrorists that is densely inhabited by civilians. What would then happen is already obvious, with the White Helmets (AKA Al-Qaeda) and mainstream media ready to broadcast the images of the victims of the attack, tugging at the heartstrings of Western viewers otherwise unaware of the conspiracy being played out. Efforts to frame Russia have already reached the highest alert levels, with the false-flag poisoning of the Russian spy in the United Kingdom. It seems that there is a significant effort by the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany to provoke a military confrontation with Moscow. How else are we able to interpret threats from Macron to strike Damascus, together with his ominous advice to foreign journalists not to go to Damascus in the coming days and, for those already there, to leave the capital immediately? There has even been chatter within diplomatic circles that suggest that UN personnel are leaving Damascus. This could be psychological warfare, or it could be a prelude to war. With the stakes so high, we cannot afford to ignore any detail, even if it may be disinformation. The American attack seems imminent, with mounting signs of movements of American and Russian warships in the Mediterranean in attack formation.
Russian military representatives have reiterated that in the event of an attack, they will respond by hitting both the missiles launched as well as the ships from which the missiles were launched. Things are getting pretty dicey, and the risk of a direct confrontation between the United States and the Russian Federation are rising with every passing hour. The transfer of numerous US aircraft from Incirlik, Turkey, to Al-Azrak, Jordan, is another indication of preparations for an attack, since the forces moved to Jordan are close to the Al-Tanf base. The proposed strategy could involve an assault on the city of Daraa, for the purposes of securing the borders between Syria and Jordan and Syria and Israel.
The warnings raised by Lavrov and Gerasimov appear unprecedented, given that they detail a plan already set in course, evidently approved at the highest levels and aimed at provoking and justifying an attack on Syria; and attack that would encompass the Russian forces in Syria. Tensions continue to grow, following Russia’s shooting down of a drone by two surface-to-air missiles launched from its Hmeimim Air Base. Moscow has even deployed to the Mediterranean the Admiral Grigorovich-class frigate Admiral Essen and the Krivak II-class anti-submarine frigate Pytivyy. Both are prepared for anti-ship and anti-submarine operations. Sources claim that this deployment was planned some time ago and is part of a routine deployment of the Russian navy. But during such a delicate moment, it pays to focus on every detail. Without resorting to excessive alarmism, if Lavrov said that “the movements of the warships of the United States and its allies in the Mediterranean seem compatible with the strategy of using this chemical attack to justify an attack on the Syrian Arab army and government installations”, then it is reasonable to speculate on whether the Russian ships are moving in to the area to counter any provocations.
There are two fundamental flaws in the reasoning of US policy-makers and the US military establishment. They are convinced that an American demonstration of strength (involving a large number of cruise missile launched against Syria through a significant involvement of aircraft carriers as well as bombers) would stun Russia into passivity. Furthermore, US military generals are convinced that Syria and Russia do not have the ability to defend themselves for an extended period of time. They seem to be fooling themselves with their own propaganda. As their Israeli colleagues have already learned, such an assumption is mistaken. While the idea that a high level of firepower would meet with some kind of success, the possibility of a response from Syrian and Russian forces remains. And this possibility seems not to have been given sufficient weight by the US and her allies.
How would the American military and the Trump presidency react to a US warship being sunk by anti-ship missiles? It would only serve to demonstrate how vulnerable American naval forces are when confronted with such advanced weapons. It would represent a tremendous shock for the US military, possibly the biggest shock since the end of WWII. What would Trump and the generals in charge do? They would respond with further bombardment of Russian forces, leaving themselves open to a devastating Russian response. The conflict could escalate within the space of a few minutes, leading to a situation where there could be no possible winners.
The normal reasoning I employ when considering total annihilation is placed to one side when US special forces deliver 20 tons of chlorine gas to Al Qaeda terrorists in Syria order to execute a false flag for the purposes of blaming Damascus and Moscow. If we connect this event to what is currently happening in the United Kingdom, and the hysteria in the United States surrounding alleged Russian hacking during the American elections, we can understand just how much international relations have deteriorated. This situation is reminiscent of Ukraine in 2015. Ukrainian forces suffered repeated defeats at the hands of the Donbass resistance, being contained in the thousands in different “cauldrons. Within NATO headquarters in Brussels during that time, there were open discussion over sending a contingent to support Ukrainian troops. The plan, however, was never realized, given the possibility of direct confrontation in Ukraine between the Russian Federation and NATO.
In recent months, the possibility of a war on the Korean Peninsula has also been evoked and perhaps simultaneously averted by the unpredictable consequences for both Seoul and the American forces in the region.
In Syria, the approach of Washington and its diplomatic and military emissaries seems more reckless and less tied to a chain of command where the buck stops at the American president. It seems that the US deep state in Syria has a greater and more hidden control over American forces, sabotaging every agreement made between Moscow and Washington. We saw this during the Obama presidency, where the US Air Force bombed government troops in Deir ez-Zor only a few hours after a ceasefire had been reached between Lavrov and Secretary of State Kerry.
The grave circumstance about which we write seem to be without precedent, seeming as they do to lead towards a direct confrontation between nuclear-armed powers. Alas, in such circumstances, we can only hope for the best but prepare for the worst; we can only wait to read on the mainstream media notifications of the latest chemical attack in Syria. We can only hope that there is someone in Washington retaining enough sense to factor in the devastating consequences of an attack on Damascus and the Russian forces in the region.
Never before has the region been on the verge of such an explosion as in the next few hours — as a result of the typically reckless actions of the United States.
Federico Pieraccini : Independent freelance writer specialized in international affairs, conflicts, politics and strategies
This article was originally published by “Strategic Culture Foundation” –
March 20, 2018 “Information Clearing House” –