zaterdag 26 september 2015

Syria versus ISIS

Syrian Government Forces Start Crushing ISIS, Military and Intelligence Assistance from Russia

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The army of Bashar al-Assad has reportedly started crushing Islamic State militants that had previously seized the cities of Palmyra and Homs. Western experts and journalists believe that the Syrian troops receive substantial military assistance from Russian military men at the base in Latakia.
In addition, Russia has deployed modern weapons, including air defense, missile systems and aviation, having turned the area of the Russian base into a strong fortress. To crown it all, Russia still ships weapons to the government of Bashar Assad under previously concluded contracts.
Russia’s TV channel “Zvezda” (“Star”) reports that the Syrian army forced ISIS militants to retreat from Palmyra, although they hide in residential areas and use ancient monuments as a cover.
Russian Army starts destroying Islamic State in Syria. Russian troops in Syria
Source: Pravda.Ru photo archive
“The militants, who had been keeping the city under control and destroying priceless ancient monuments for months, are being killed in the air raids of the Syrian Air Force. During the most recent attack, 40 terrorists were destroyed in the province of Homs,” Zvezda reporters say. It was also said that many militants of the Islamic State lay down their arms and surrender.
“On September 20, in the village of Kanaker (province of Damascus) more than 500 fighters of the Islamic State and so-called moderate opposition laid down their arms,” Syrian agency SANA reports, adding that there is a video of ISIS militants yelling to government troops. The militants were said to be mercenaries from Iran, Turkey and Sudan. They received weapons from Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Lebanon. There are also many US-made weapons and heavy equipment,  reporters say.
The US does nothing to destroy ISIS in Syria. Why?
Representatives of the central command of US armed forces said that there were 70 fighters sent to Syria to fight against Assad and the Islamic State together with selected opposition groups. Previously, it was reported that the United States was providing military assistance to the Syrian opposition and ISIS militants to overthrow the Assad regime, similarly to how the US was supporting al-Qaeda during Soviet times to suppress Soviet troops in Afghanistan.
Many experts and journalists say that ISIS is a “product of the USA.” Many recall the notorious reply that President Obama gave to the question of “Who are we bombing in the Middle East?” “That’s not quite right, but that’s OK,” Obama said. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also wonders why the USA does not destroy ISIS, even though the US knows everything about the whereabouts of ISIS bases.
The Russian military have deployed a layered defense system and continue fulfilling contracts for the delivery  of modern weapons to Syria. That’s all I can say officially. I have no right to either deny and confirm whether the Russian aviation is involved in the military actions,” a high-ranking source in the General Staff of the Russian Federation told He added that Russian troops have already repulsed terrorists’ attacks before, quite successfully.
Russia has already deployed multi-purpose Su-30CM fighter aircraft, Pantsir-S1 mobile missile complexes, Mi-24 attack helicopters, multi-purpose Mi-17 helicopters, as well as Sukhoi Su-24M bombers to Syria.
Over the past few weeks, a large number of military advisers have arrived in Syria. Syria has received six MiG-31 jets – these are the best interceptor aircraft in the world. For the first time, the Russian army has provided satellite intelligence data to Syria.
Previously, Jihadists managed to avoid attacks from government forces because NATO was providing them with satellite information on time. Now, it appears that NATO no longer shares the intelligence data with the Islamic State, although the alliance still continues providing this information to Frente al Nosra, Russian publications said.
Russia and Iran have achieved agreements on joint activities in Syria. Should Iran officially start a  military operation in Syria for the destruction of the Islamic State, many predict complete destruction of the terrorists and mass destruction of Syrian opposition fighters.
Israel has already held high-level talks with Russia to exclude possible collisions between Russian and Israeli troops. To crown it all, US officials declared readiness for immediate negotiations with Russia on Syria, although they previously excluded such a possibility.

Global Warming 37

Forest Loss and Land Degradation Fuel Climate Crisis 

Posted on Sep 25, 2015
By Tim Radford, Climate News Network

    Agriculture and land use changes, such as in Indonesia, represent the second-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. (GIZ)

This Creative Commons-licensed piece first appeared at Climate News Network.

LONDON—The planet’s forests have dwindled by 3%—equivalent almost to the land area of South Africa—in the last 25 years, according to a new assessment by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.
While the planet continues to lose its forests—albeit at a slower rate—through felling, burning or being turned into farmland, another UN study predicts that the economic cost of degraded agricultural land in the form of lost ecosystem services now amounts to up to US$10 trillion a year.
Within 10 years, 50 million people could have been forced to abandon their homes and livelihoods to become migrants. If all those people were assembled in one place, they would constitute the planet’s 28th biggest nation in terms of population.

Increasing levels

Forest loss and farmland degradation are both part of climate change accountancy. The rise in greenhouse gases is in part linked to the loss of forest cover to soak up the carbon dioxide released by the burning of fossil fuels.
But increasing levels of heat and drought are likely to accompany climate change, increasing the area of desert or land too arid to support life and industry.
So in losing forest, and in watching farmland become saline because of over-irrigation, or exhausted by intensive cultivation or overgrazing, or simply increasingly too arid to support vegetation, humans are witnessing the loss of all sorts of valuable services not normally recorded by accountants.
Ideas such as “natural capital” and ecosystem services are attempts to place a practical value on things that nature normally delivers for free.

The percentage of global land area hit by drought doubled between the 1970s and the early years of this century.

That is because living things—plants and soil fauna in particular—provide food, fibres, medicines and building materials, as well as helping to provide clean water, regulate disease, and recycle nutrients.
The United Nations University report believes that the loss of these services could now be between $6.3 trillion and $10.6 trillion a year in value. This is between 10% and 17% of global gross domestic product.
Alternatively, the “lost services” per square kilometre amount to between $43,000 and $72,000. Or, to put it yet another way, that is between $870 and $1,450 per person per year for everyone on the planet.
And 57% of world agricultural land is now either moderately or severely degraded, the report says. The percentage of global land area hit by drought doubled between the 1970s and the early years of this century.

Ecosystem services

One-third of Africa is threatened by desertification, and land cover changes since 2000 are responsible for half to three-quarters of the value of lost ecosystem services.
Separate from this, but also part of the overall climate change accounting equation, has been the steady loss of forests.
Researchers recently completed the first realistic “census” of the planet’s forests, and arrived at an inventory of more than three trillion trees, but also the conclusion that humans were destroying forests at the rate of 15 billion trees a year.
The latest UN global forest assessment acknowledges that, 25 years ago, around 7.3 million hectares were being lost each year. This slowed to 3.3m hectares a year between 2010 and 2015.
Tropical forests were hardest hit, with a loss rate of 10%. A decline in “natural forest”has been offset by a 66% rise in planted forest, and Australia in particular has actually gained 1.5m hectares of forested land in the last five years.

Chris Hedges 106

VIDEO: Chris Hedges on Pope Francis: ‘He Has Not Stood Up and Offered an Alternative’ 

Posted on Sep 25, 2015
In this video, The Real News Network’s Paul Jay asks whether the pope’s rhetoric on climate change and capitalism is a positive force or a dangerous illusion. While Pope Francis “has moved the church back into the realm of reality,” says Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges, “I don’t think by any stretch of the imagination he can be called a radical.”

Read the full transcript here.
—Posted by Roisin Davis

Paul Craig Roberts 120

For A Majority Of Americans, US Government Has Lost Legitimacy

For A Majority Of Americans, US Government Has Lost Legitimacy
Noam Chomsky (33:30 point on the video) tells us that in the November 2014 Congressional elections, US voter participation was at the level of 1830 when only white male property owners had the vote.
These are hopeful signs. They mean that the American people are beginning to see through the propaganda that confines them within The Matrix. A majority now understands that the US government represents a small oligarchy and not the citizens of the United States. Change requires awareness and knowledge of reality, and this awareness is now forming.

Gallup: 60% of Americans Want a New Political Party. But, Why? A Crisis of Legitimacy

In-depth Report: 

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A Gallup poll issued on September 25th is headlined “Majority in U.S. Maintain Need for Third Major Party,” and it opens: “A majority of Americans, 60%, say a third major political party is needed because the Republican and Democratic parties ‘do such a poor job’ of representing the American people.”
When Gallup started polling on this matter in 2003, only 40% wanted a different major party from the two existing major parties.
The only other time when as high as 60% wanted a new major party was in October 2013, when the government shut down — something that now threatens to repeat. No other period had a percentage this high.
78% of independents want there to be another “major” party; 47% of Democrats do; 45% of Republicans do.
The way the question has been phrased is: “In your view, do the Republican and Democratic parties do an adequate job of representing the American people, or do they do such a poor job that a third major party is needed?”
Consequently, for example, these findings have nothing to do with a desire of Americans for another Ralph Nader or Ross Perot; this would instead need to be “a third major party.” It would, in other words, need to be a party not of mere protest, but instead, one that has a real chance to win the White House, and Congress: i.e., a real and serious political contender.
A substantial majority of Americans think that each of the two existing major parties does “a poor job,” “of representing the American people.”
Americans do not feel that “the American people” are represented by either of the existing parties.
When this polling started in 2003, it was not yet clear to most Americans that President George W. Bush’s repeated statements that he had seen conclusive proof that Saddam Hussein was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction (WMD) were mere lies; it was not yet clear that Bush had not actually seen any such proof as he claimed existed; but, gradually the American public came to recognize that their government had, in fact, lied them into invading a country which actually posed no national security threat to the United States; and, so, gradually, this 40% rose to 48% in 2006, and then to 58% in 2007, as the realization that their government had lied finally sank in, gradually, among the American electorate.
By way of contrast, the 2008 economic crash seems to have had little, if any, impact upon this (in effect) repudiation of the U.S. Government, by the American people. That economic crash was, perhaps, widely viewed as having been a problem for the private economy, not primarily a governmental problem — as having been basically an “economic” instead of a “political” problem. (Whether it actually was that is another matter.) By contrast, clearly and incontrovertibly, the invasion of a foreign country on the basis of false pretenses was strictly a governmental (not at all a merely economic) problem; and, since both of the two major Parties had supported it, both of them had been responsible for this international war-crime: invasion on the basis of false pretenses.
Never before in American history had the people been so clearly abused by their Government. Even the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident which precipitated the U.S. invasion of North Vietnam had been based upon an authentic existing geostrategic threat, of communists taking South Vietnam. By contrast, the invasion of Iraq was entirely unjustified, by any real geostrategic or ideological issue. And the President, Bush, had simply lied through his teeth about it. This started the U.S. down the road to its current massive public disillusionment, that the government, which is supposedly “representing the American people,” is instead actually fraudulent — on a war-and-peace issue, no less. Both of the existing political parties participate in, rather than expose, this fraud, at the highest levels.
And, so, the American people are at a political turning-point, of seriously questioning whether they live in an actual democracy — a country in which the possibility, that the government represents the public instead of some controlling individual or group of individuals, exists. 60% now think that that possibility doesn’t exist — neither party represents it. They think that America, at the very highest governmental level, is no longer an authentic democracy. There actually exists strong evidence that it’s not an authentic democracy.
Another Gallup poll, issued on September 19th, was headlined“75% in U.S. See Widespread Government Corruption.” 75% answered “Yes” to: “Is corruption widespread throughout the government in this country?” This could offer yet another explanation as to why 60% of Americans answer no to the question of “do the Republican and Democratic parties do an adequate job of representing the American people?” However, unlike the proposed Iraq War explanation, that one doesn’t possess any clear relationship to 2003. Gallup reported, in their poll of perceived corruption, that, “the percentage of U.S. adults who see corruption as pervasive has never been less than a majority in the past decade.” Gallup provided no further details, except that, when Obama came into office, the percentage was 66%. So, a decade back, in 2005, the percentage was somewhere above 50%, and then it was 66% when Obama entered the White House in 2009, and it’s 75% today.
Regardless of what the explanation is, the American people are feeling increasingly alienated from the government that supposedly represents them. If the U.S. Government is a democracy at all, it’s one whose legitimacy is increasingly being doubted by its public.
The U.S. Government thus now faces a crisis of legitimacy.

Willy van Damme 35

Het Midden-Oosten: Frontale Duitse aanval op Frankrijk

by willyvandamme
Dat Duitsland in het Midden-Oosten al lang een ander beleid volgt dan Frankrijk en ook het Verenigd Koninkrijk is voor wie nader toeziet overduidelijk. Zo wou Duitsland niet deelnemen aan de bombardementen op Libië van 2011 tegen Kaddafi. 
Het Handelsblatt valt uit
Ook wat betreft Syrië is Duitsland steeds meer terughoudend geweest dan Parijs waar men betreffende agressiviteit zowat een hoogtepunt heeft bereikt. President Nicolas Sarkozy en nadien François Hollande lijken wel kopieën van Napoleon Bonaparte die ook overal zijn wil wou opdringen en daarvoor dan maar ten oorlog trok. Men kent de gevolgen: Sint-Helena en het einde van de Franse hegemonie over Europa.
Handelsblatt, het invloedrijke Duitse weekblad, trok gisteren in haar Engelstalige editie zeer scherp van leer tegen het Franse beleid van de beide presidenten. En men kan zich perfect inbeelden dat men in Berlijn op de kanselarij van Angela Merkel een gelijkaardige opinie heeft over de Franse capriolen en oorlogspolitiek. Het is ook gebaseerd op dossierkennis en een ijzersterke logica die men ook hier regelmatig kan lezen.
Walter Steinmeier - 5
Walter Steinmeier, minister van Buitenlandse Zaken van Duitsland, moet nu in het dossier van Syrië op zijn stappen terugkomen. De steun aan de Franse-Britse oorlogvoering breekt hem zuur op. In Duitsland is onderhuids de kritiek op dit Franse en ook Britse optreden enorm. 
Zo schreef het Handelsblatt:  
Commentaries on the refugee crisis point fingers at two parties: the heartless east Europeans and the German chancellor who listens too closely to her heart. No one dares out the biggest offender: France, which bears a large share of responsibility for the ever-worsening crisis.
Commentaren over de vluchtelingencrisis wijzen steeds met hun vingers richting twee partijen: De hartelozen in Oost-Europa en de Duitse kanselier die teveel naar haar hart luistert. Maar niemand durft het blijkbaar aan om de grootste schuldige aan de duiden: Frankrijk, die een grote verantwoordelijkheid draagt voor de steeds maar erger wordende crisis.
From the former rightist President Nicolas Sarkozy to his leftist successor François Hollande, there has been an astonishing continuity of policies that favor flight-promoting actions while fending off refugees.
Van de gewezen rechtse president Nicolas Sarkozy tot zijn linkse opvolger François Hollande, is er een verbazingwekkende continuïteit met een politiek die het vluchtelingenprobleem creëert en gelijktijdig zorgt dat men zo weinig mogelijk van die vluchtelingen opneemt.
Mr. Sarkozy bombed the empire of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi to smithereens without having the faintest idea about what should replace it. The hyperactive conservative provoked a mini-Iraq, allowing al-Qaeda and the Islamic State to funnel refugees to Europe as a commercial undertaking.
Mr Sarkozy bombardeerde het rijk van de Libische dictator Moeammar Kaddafi in stukken zonder zelfs meer het minste idee te hebben wat er nadien moest komen. De hyperactieve conservatief provoceerde een mini-Irak waarbij bewegingen zoals Qaeda en de Islamitische Staat massaal vluchtelingen naar Europa sluizen alsof het een soort van commerciële onderneming is.
So far, his successor, Mr. Hollande, hasn’t tried to change much. At least he sent soldiers to Mali to limit the spread of terror from Libya in a southerly direction. Mr. Hollande would have been happy to bomb another dictator out of office, Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, but now he wants to conduct air strikes in Syria against the Islamic State and is cozying up to Mr. Assad.
Tot nu veranderde zijn opvolger, Mr. Hollande, hier weinig aan. Uiteindelijk stuurde hij dan soldaten naar Mali om de terreurgolf komende vanuit Libië richting zuidwaarts in te dammen. Mr. Hollande zou er zelfs plezier in hebben geschapen om ook die andere dictator, de Syrische Bashar al Assad, met bommen uit zijn ambt te verjagen. Maar nu wil hij plots in Syrië bombardementen uitvoeren tegen de Islamitische Staat en wil hij vriendjes worden met Mr. Assad. 
Duitse medeverantwoordelijkheid
Voor wie nog over Europa spreekt en de Duits-Franse as rond wie alles draait moet dit wel een stevige ontnuchtering zijn. Het is bijvoorbeeld opgevallen dat Duitsland, samen met Zweden, een wapenembargo afkondigde tegen Saoedi-Arabië terwijl Frankrijk er desnoods zijn laatste gevechtsvliegtuig aan zou verkopen. En België zijn laatste wapen van FN.
François Hollande - 11
President François Hollande (PS) moest zo nodig het beleid van Nicolas Sarkozy, zijn voorganger, met betrekking tot het Midden-Oosten voortzetten. De man is dan ook een der hoofdverantwoordelijken voor de massale afslachting van de Syriërs, de miljoenen vluchtelingen en het vernielen van het onvoorstelbaar mooie Syrische culturele erfgoed. Een erfgoed dat ook het Europese en dus Frans is. Frankrijk opent in Iran kortelings een handelskantoor. Volgend jaar in Damascus? 
Eergisteren verklaarden de Britse minister van Buitenlandse Zaken Philip Hammond en zijn Franse collega Laurent Fabius, de twee oorlogvoerende landen van de EU, dat ze toch wel enkele opmerkingen hadden over het Russische optreden in Syrië. 
Een verklaring die ze aflegden voor ze in vergadering gingen met hun Duitse collega Walter Steinmeier en Federica Mogherini, verantwoordelijk voor de Europese buitenlandse politiek. Het zal er ongetwijfeld erg stormachtig aan toe zijn gegaan. 
Nadien zwegen Hammond en Fabius. Begrijpelijk. Vandaag stelde Hammond trouwens al dat men met Assad moet praten. Je weet wel, die ‘zeer brutale dictator’. Waarmee hij Walter Steinmeier en Angela Merkel al naar de mond praatte. Je ziet wie dat ‘gesprek’ won. 
Uiteraard is Duitsland hier zeker niet vrij van zonde. Zo steunde het in feite op Europees vlak tot voor kort de oorlogspolitiek van Londen en Parijs. Nooit maakte men in Berlijn voor zover geweten enig bezwaar. Zo stemde het in 2011 in met de zware economische strafmaatregelen tegen Syrië die de bevolking en de regering veel pijn deden en al Qaeda plezierden. 
En bovendien is er de schandelijk stemming van de Europese ministers van Buitenlandse Zaken van 23 mei 2013 om het embargo op handel met Syrië voor olieproducten op te heffen. De maand voordien had al Qaeda (toen nog met ISIS) de Syrische oliebronnen grotendeels veroverd.  
Met andere woorden: Walter Steinmeier hielp mee bij het financieren van ISIS. Hij is dus medeplichtig geweest aan een gruwelijke oorlogspolitiek tegen wat toch de wieg van onze beschaving is. Een onvoorstelbare misdaad. 
Maar Duitsland heeft zijn fouten dan toch zo te zien ingezien, Frankrijk nog niet en blijft warm en koud blazen. Het rekende er ooit op om terug controle te krijgen over Syrië, haar vroeger mandaatgebied uit de periode na de eerste wereldoorlog. 
Nu wil men terug maatjes worden met de ‘brutale dictator’ van Damascus. Walgelijk. En dan durft men in Parijs en Londen er Assad van beschuldigen de mensenrechten te schenden. Durf hebben ze in Parijs overduidelijk.