"Like someone who grabs a dog by the ears is a passer-by who mixes in a fight not his own." Proverbs 26:17

Syria

Death toll in Syrian civil war is 470,000

According to Syrian Centre for Policy Research 2016

In five years of civil war, 400,000 Syrians have been killed and another 70,000 have perished due to a lack of basics such as clean water and healthcare. With those injured in the conflict, that amounts to more 11 percent of the population.

A U.S.-led coalition is trying to destroy Islamic State militants in Syria and wants President Bashar al-Assad to go. But Russia and Iran are propping up Assad and oppose the opponents of Assad who are being supported by the West its Arab allies such as Saudi Arabia.

And the implications for Israel

Read on.

(Information from multiple sources)

Jump to Factors in play as events unfold

What should our attitude be - individually and as nations?

As evidence of a serious chemical weapons attack on a Damascus suburb emerged, including distressing images on TV, calls for action were widely heard. In the USA, President Obama"s strong words about the use or movement of chemical weapons crossing a red line came back to bite him.
In the UK, Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague responded to the media footage with robust talk of our responsibility to take action rather than standing by. But, at that stage, the UN weapons inspectors had not even gone in to investigate so there was no proof of a chemical weapon attack and certainly not of Assad"s responsibility.

Many of us were caused to wonder exactly what was meant by the "we" that Cameron and Haigh were talking about. Who had appointed tiny little Britain as the world"s policeman? There was no talk of action from the UN or the USA or the Arab League. Our leaders appeared to have forgotten that our Empire folded long ago. Also Our leaders are in thrall to the belief that Islam is not the problem.

Furthermore, no consideration appears to have been given to what could be done and what outcome could be hoped for or achieved. There was no sign that any lessons had been learned from Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan where the west got drawn in and ended up being the enemy of both sides.

Where is the lead from the Arab League ?

Where is the UN lead?

Has nobody learned that it is not possible to impose democracy on Arab / Muslim cultures?

If it were possible to kill Assad and his cronies with a couple of Tomahawk cruise missiles, where would that leave Syria?

Who would then take control and would they be any better than the Assad regime?

In whose hands would Assad"s weapons and the weapons supplied to the anti-Assad forces be when the dust settled?

The "rebels" are not just dissatisfied Syrian citizens, but Islamist factions including al-Quaida and Hizballah, and many old grudges are being settled as part of the violence, including attacks on Christians (who are seen a friends of the regime)

Because many Brits saw Cameron as going gung-ho into conflict, committing the military that he has been cutting back, Cameron was defeated when he took the proposed involvement to Parliament so he then vowed to take no action. This complete rejection of action might not have happened had he waited for more of a western consensus.

Shortly after that, Obama referred US involvement to congress (that was not even due to meet for several days) giving the strong impression that he was back-pedalling from his ill advised fighting words.

Caroline Glick has analysed the implications of Obama"s handling of the situation.(see below)

Media Hypocrisy

(UK observation)
Before the issue went to parliament, the media was full of indignant coverage of the suffering of Syrians at the hands of the Assad regime, advocating that action must be taken against the monsters who did this.(Neglecting the fact that the context and the source of the footage could not be verified) (Those who follow Israel are well aware of the unreliability of video material from Arab/Muslim conflicts)

As soon as Cameron had to concede that Parliament had not given him a mandate to go ahead with action, the news coverage swung round to Syrians pleading to camera for Britain not to forsake them and to attack the Assad regime. We are familiar with footage of rebels pleading with the west to attack the regime they are seeking to topple, but it means nothing.

The left-biased media was full of gloating over Cameron's defeat and speculation as to whether this heralded the end of his leadership.

How did PM Cameron go in one day from being the reckless warmonger to being the leader who betrays his responsibilities to the oppressed and helpless?


Charity - Aid

Charity millions 'going to Syrian terror groups' - Telegraph (UK) 05/10/13

People giving money to help millions of refugees from the civil war in Syria are inadvertently supporting terrorism, the charity watchdog has warned.

Some of their cash was "undoubtedly" going to extremist groups, said William Shawcross, the chairman of the Charity Commission. Conditions on the ground in the midst of conflict made it difficult or impossible for charities to know where aid ended up, he said. The Disasters Emergency Committee, which represents 14 of Britain's biggest charities, has raised twenty million pounds since the launch of its Syria Crisis Appeal in March. Its members include the British Red Cross, Oxfam and Save the Children. But it said it was unable to guarantee that no cash was falling into the hands of terrorists. The Charity Commission is so concerned that it has issued guidance to fund-raising bodies. "A lot of money is raised that goes to Syria, some of it undoubtedly goes to extremist groups. It is very hard for all organisations to determine that," Mr Shawcross said. The commission said it was up to charity trustees to ensure that donors' generosity, intended to benefit those in need, was not diverted to terrorists. "There is a risk that funds raised in the name of 'charity' generally or under the name of a specific charity are misused to support terrorist activities, with or without the charity's knowledge," the commission said. It warned that "individuals supporting terrorist activity might also claim to work for a charity and trade on its name and legitimacy to gain access to a region or community". Peter Clarke, a former head of anti-terrorism at the Metropolitan Police who sits on the board of the commission, said that donations could fall into the wrong hands once the money arrived in Syria or surrounding countries. "Once you get into these very difficult, dangerous areas it is hugely difficult for charities to track the final destination of their funds," he told The Telegraph. "It is one of these 'fog of war' issues where stuff can be diverted."

He said it was also possible for terrorists to set up fake charities in donor countries to attract funds.

Continues here www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/10357537/Charity-millions-going-to-Syrian-terror-groups

 

Christian Perspective

Have you heard attempts at praying for Syria, in terms of praying for wise leaders and seeking peace and ending the suffering of citizens and refugees?

tearfund.org/en/about_you/pray/prayer_news/praying_for_syria/

All very desirable, but surely totally unrealistic.

The leaders in this conflict are all violent Muslims and not open to Holy Spirit peace and compassion.

The conflict is between rival Islamic factions - between the Alawite leadership and their relatively secular government and hard line Islamist factions bent on Installing Sharia law on the citizens and exacting revenge on all supporters of the regime. Let us not forget that the "rebels" include al-Quaida, committed to destroying the west, and Hizballah, committed to destroying Israel, and backed by Iran.(and destroying Christianity)

26/05/14 - An illustration of the ethnic hatred in the background of the Syrian Civil War.  It came in a written message in one of the centers of fighting.  One of the explosive barrels that Assad’s regime dropped on the rebels over the weekend was signed with the Arabic name Ali, the first Imam of the Shiites, whose character dominates the bitter split between Shia and Sunni Muslims.

Which winner would be good news for the people?

The prayer does not appear to acknowledge that the root of the problem is Islam, and that is what must be defeated.

The politicians will certainly not accomplish this; especially while they are making extraordinary efforts to be friends of Islam.

Christian prayer should also include concern about this conflict spilling over into Israel; as threatened by Assad and by the leaders of Iran.

Where is the eschatological Christian perspective?

Isaiah_17:1 KJV - The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.

or in the CJB - This is a prophecy about Dammesek: "Dammesek will soon stop being a city; it will become a heap of ruins.

Factors in play as events unfold

USA

Obama spoke, a year ago, of chemical weapons movement or use being a Red Line that would cause the USA to act against the Assad regime.

Obama started out to attack after a chemical weapons attack that reportedly killed 355 people, but then attempted to recruit support in Congress after Cameron was defeated in the UK Parliament.

Thus he made himself look less committed and more like he was trying to wriggle out.

See analysis by Caroline Glick

The evidence that Obama is a Muslim adds to doubts about his motivation for defeating Assad even if Al-Quaeda get into power.

USA action

The first cell of Syrian rebels trained and armed by the CIA is making its way to the battlefield, President Barack Obama has reportedly told senators.

Obama waives ban on arming terrorists to allow aid to Syrian jihadists

President Obama waived a provision of federal law designed to prevent the supply of arms to terrorist groups to clear the way for the U.S.to provide military assistance to "vetted" opposition groups fighting Syrian dictator Bashar Assad. He thereby admits that he knows they"re jihad terrorists, contrary to all of Kerry"s blather about "moderates," and wants to arm them anyway.

www.jihadwatch.org - - The U.S.is now officially on the side of al-Qaeda.

 

USA opposition

Senator Ted Cruz distilled the current debate over possible military action in Syria to its essential dilemma. While Syrian President Bashar Assad is certainly a ruthless dictator, the forces aligned against him are dominated by jihadis and elements of terrorist organizations.

Cruz noted that Americans didn't enlist in the military to "serve as Al-Qaeda's Air Force."

 

Britain

Cameron attempted to rush Britain into military action against Assad but was defeated in Parliament.

While Obama attempted to recruit others to his attack plans the G20 summit, Cameron was seeking to lead the world at in terms humanitarian action. But where would the money go, and how? Remember Red Cross money going to Red Crescent and thence to monuments for Palestinian terrorists.

Calls for caution

Peter Oborne, writing in the Daily Telegraph, issued a word of caution about Washington's rush to punish the Assad regime with so-called "limited" strikes not meant to overthrow the Syrian leader but diminish his capacity to use chemical weapons:

Consider this: the only beneficiaries from the atrocity were the rebels, previously losing the war, who now have Britain and America ready to intervene on their side. While there seems to be little doubt that chemical weapons were used, there is doubt about who deployed them.

It is important to remember that Assad has been accused of using poison gas against civilians before. But on that occasion, Carla del Ponte, a U.N.commissioner on Syria, concluded that the rebels, not Assad, were probably responsible.

 

France , unlike Britain, did back action with USA

The cautious are calling for action only with UN approval. Key issue is hearing UN expert report first.

The UN

Weapons experts have proved that Sarin was to blame but have not proved responsibility - they were not trying to.

The inspectors were not actually UN but O.P.C.W. www.opcw.org/

The Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ambassador Ahmet Uzumcu, has noted the proposal to place the Syrian stockpile of chemical weapons under international control and the reactions it has evoked.

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr Ban Ki-moon, has stated that he is considering urging the Security Council to demand the immediate transfer of Syria's chemical weapons stocks to places inside Syria where they can be safely stored and destroyed, and has again urged that Syria should join the Chemical Weapons Convention. The OPCW is the implementing authority for the Chemical Weapons Convention, which bans the development, production, stockpiling and use of these weapons. It obliges all States Parties to the treaty to declare and to destroy whatever chemical weapons they may possess under the international verification of the OPCW. The Director-General recalled that the Convention was based on zero tolerance for chemical weapons. The OPCW is committed to promoting the universality of this norm and stands ready to support international efforts that would strengthen it.

Evidence ? Culpability ?

The OPCW experts have proved that Sarin was to blame but have not proved responsibility - they were not trying to.

Why can't experts prove who did it?

If rebels had set off the weapons in the area (rather than Assad's forces fired them from elsewhere) they might have found identifiable fragments of shell casings. Thus the story of rebels being responsible could perhaps be proved, but it is hard to see what else could be proved.

As far as evidence on which to go ahead against Assad is concerned, there is none; only logical deductions, but what has logic got to do with it?

Logically, Assad has the weapons and the rebels do not, and rebel areas were the victims therefore Assad did it.

But equally logically, Assad would not use them and bring the world down on his head like Sadam Hussain of Mumar Ghadaffi.

It all depends which stories you believe and which you have been allowed to hear.

Russia and China will veto action in UN - but see Russia's initiative

Putin of Russia and the Chinese refuse to accept western assertions that Assad was to blame.

Russia's position

Over the course of the 29-month Syrian conflict, Russia has provided the regime of Bashar al-Assad with supplies including guns, grenades, tank parts, fighter jets, advanced anti-ship cruise missiles, long range air defense missiles, military officers as advisors, diplomatic cover and lots of cash. So why does the Kremlin back Assad so staunchly?

1) Strategic: Syria"s port of Tartus hosts the only remaining international military base outside of the former Soviet Union.
2) Financial: As of June 2012, Russia"s economic interests in Syria total approximately $20 billion, about $5 billion of which are weapons sales. 
3) Philosophical:
Russia is against any regime change from outside of Syria or any other country because according to Russia, any attempt to change the regimes, ended up in a chaos and results are quite opposite what were the intentions," Migranyan said." This was proved in Iraq after the invasions of Americans over there. This was proved in Libya.This was proved in Egypt. And Russia is against principally this regime changes.

China's position

China is accusing the U.S. of lying about Syria. They say the U.S.has made a mess of Iraq and Afghanistan. They wrote it was the Rebels that committed the chemical attack and the U.S is ignoring that fact as they want war for political reasons.

EU Position

Now in favour of attacking Assad's regime.

The European Union called for a "clear and strong" international response to what it said was "strong evidence" that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government was responsible for a massive chemical weapons attack two weeks ago near Damascus, the country's capital. But the E.U.statement stopped far short of endorsing a U.S.military strike - something that U.S.officials acknowledged many of the organization's 28 member states do not support.

Israel's position

Israel will ensure that Syrian leader Bashar Assad will not remain in power if he attacks Israel, Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee Chairman Avigdor Liberman said.

The statement was the clearest warning to Assad delivered by a top Israeli figure since the escalation of tension between Syria and the United States.Speaking following Assad's warnings of "repercussions" if America struck his country, Liberman said such threats could not go without response. "The supreme Israeli interest is to remain outside the conflict," Liberman wrote on his Facebook page. "There are many figures trying to drag us in. We have successfully avoided that and we should continue in the future. That is why Bashar Assad's threats in various media outlets to expand the conflict to neighbouring countries bother me. Israel has no interest, will or intention to take part in the Syrian civil war, but Assad must understand in the clearest way possible that if he and his regime do not leave us a choice and he attacks Israel or transfers chemical weapons to Hezbollah, Israel will respond in the harshest way possible, including toppling his regime.

Russian initiative

Russia has asked Syria to put its chemical weapons stockpiles under international control and then have them destroyed, in an attempt to avoid US military strikes.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the offer was made during talks with his Syrian counterpart, Walid Muallem, who welcomed the initiative.

The US said it was sceptical, but would have a "hard look" at the plan.

Comment by Joel C Rosenberg - Vladimir Putin smells blood in the water.

Sensing a political vacuum on the global stage - one created by the weakness, dithering and vacillation of President Obama and Secretary Kerry - the Russian leader is seizing the moment to become the dominant world leader.

Consider the moves Putin has made in recent days. He has:

1 - hosted the G-20 summit in St.Petersburg, Russia

2 - insisted Obama and U.S.has no evidence of chemical weapons being used by the Assad regime

3 - called Kerry a liar

4 - moved Russian warships into the Med

5 - promised to resupply Assad in case of war with the U.S.

6 - granted former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden asylum in Russia and refused to extradite him to the U.S.

Now Putin has seized on what may have been an off-the-cuff stumble by Secretary Kerry to throw a monkey wrench into the Obama war plans. Rather than leading, the White House and State Department find themselves responding to the Kremlin.

Obama looks like a war-monger. Putin is playing the hero, offering a diplomatic solution to the Syrian crisis.

Arabs - Arab League

The Arab League has accused the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for carrying out the chemical weapons attack but has been conspicuously silent about taking any action. The Red Crescent is also silent. Although Syria is an Arab civil war and the deaths are Muslim on Muslim, the Arab world expects the west to sort it out. Saudi Arabia may be more deeply involved - see below.

It is difficult to understand the Arab/Muslim position because of the various alliances and hatreds.ThebigPharoah has thoughtfully provided this diagram.

Kerry says Arabs are willing to pay

Secretary of State John Kerry said during a hearing in the House of Representatives that counties in the Arab world have offered to foot the entire bill for a U.S.military mission that destroys the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria. "With respect to Arab countries offering to bear costs and to assist, the answer is profoundly yes," Kerry said." They have.That offer is on the table."

Kerry declined to name the countries that have proposed opening their purses.

"We don"t know what action we [will be] engaged in right now," Kerry replied, "but they have been quite significant. I mean, very significant." "In fact, some of them have said that if the U.S.is prepared to go do the whole thing, the way we've done it previously in other places, they'll carry that cost. That's how dedicated they are to this."

The Rebels - Who are they?

The prestigious IHS Janes consultancy firm in London reports that of the roughly 100,000 fighters battling the regime of Syrian president Bashar Assad, about half are members of Islamist groups including the Moslem Brotherhood and Al-Qaida.

The same report also shows that there are over 1,000 independent rebel factions, many of which fight each other nearly as much as they fight the regime.

The report is sure to complicate efforts by Western governments to send weapons and other supplies to moderate rebel factions. However, US shipments of non-lethal assistance to certain rebel groups, including protection kits against chemical weapons, were reportedly on their way to Syria.

 

Where did the Chinese get the idea that the rebels were to blame?

Rebels to blame?

Syrians In Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack

See Footnote on the source of this report

Ghouta, Syria - As the machinery for a U.S.-led military intervention in Syria gathers pace following last week's chemical weapons attack, the U.S.and its allies may be targeting the wrong culprit.

Interviews with people in Damascus and Ghouta, a suburb of the Syrian capital, where the humanitarian agency Doctors Without Borders said at least 355 people had died last week from what it believed to be a neurotoxic agent, appear to indicate as much.

The U.S., Britain, and France as well as the Arab League have accused the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for carrying out the chemical weapons attack, which mainly targeted civilians. The U.S.and others are not interested in examining any contrary evidence, with U.S Secretary of State John Kerry saying Monday that Assad's guilt was "a judgment … already clear to the world."

However, from numerous interviews with doctors, Ghouta residents, rebel fighters and their families, a different picture emerges. Many believe that certain rebels received chemical weapons via the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and were responsible for carrying out the dealing gas attack.

"My son came to me two weeks ago asking what I thought the weapons were that he had been asked to carry," said Abu Abdel-Moneim, the father of a rebel fighting to unseat Assad, who lives in Ghouta.Abdel-Moneim said his son and 12 other rebels were killed inside of a tunnel used to store weapons provided by a Saudi militant, known as Abu Ayesha, who was leading a fighting battalion. The father described the weapons as having a "tube-like structure" while others were like a "huge gas bottle." Ghouta townspeople said the rebels were using mosques and private houses to sleep while storing their weapons in tunnels.

Abdel-Moneim said his son and the others died during the chemical weapons attack.That same day, the militant group Jabhat al-Nusra, which is linked to al-Qaida, announced that it would similarly attack civilians in the Assad regime"s heartland of Latakia on Syria"s western coast, in purported retaliation.

"They didn't tell us what these arms were or how to use them," complained a female fighter named "K." "We didn"t know they were chemical weapons. We never imagined they were chemical weapons." "When Saudi Prince Bandar gives such weapons to people, he must give them to those who know how to handle and use them," she warned. She, like other Syrians, do not want to use their full names for fear of retribution. A well-known rebel leader in Ghouta named "J" agreed. "Jabhat al-Nusra militants do not cooperate with other rebels, except with fighting on the ground. They do not share secret information. They merely used some ordinary rebels to carry and operate this material," he said.

"We were very curious about these arms. And unfortunately, some of the fighters handled the weapons improperly and set off the explosions," "J" said.

Doctors who treated the chemical weapons attack victims cautioned interviewers to be careful about asking questions regarding who, exactly, was responsible for the deadly assault. The humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders added that health workers aiding 3,600 patients also reported experiencing similar symptoms, including frothing at the mouth, respiratory distress, convulsions and blurry vision. The group has not been able to independently verify the information. More than a dozen rebels interviewed reported that their salaries came from the Saudi government.

Saudi Arabia to blame?

involvement - pulling the strings?

In a recent article for Business Insider, reporter Geoffrey Ingersoll highlighted Saudi Prince Bandar"s role in the two-and-a-half year Syrian civil war. Many observers believe Bandar, with his close ties to Washington, has been at the very heart of the push for war by the U.S.against Assad.

U.K."s Daily Telegraph wrote about secret Russian-Saudi talks alleging that Bandar offered Russian President Vladimir Putin cheap oil in exchange for dumping Assad. "Prince Bandar pledged to safeguard Russia"s naval base in Syria if the Assad regime is toppled, but he also hinted at Chechen terrorist attacks on Russia"s Winter Olympics in Sochi if there is no accord," "I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us," Bandar allegedly told the Russians.

"Along with Saudi officials, the U.S.allegedly gave the Saudi intelligence chief the thumbs up to conduct these talks with Russia, which comes as no surprise," Ingersoll wrote."Bandar is American-educated, both military and collegiate, served as a highly influential Saudi Ambassador to the U.S., and the CIA totally loves this guy," he added.

According to U.K."s Independent newspaper, it was Prince Bandar"s intelligence agency that first brought allegations of the use of sarin gas by the regime to the attention of Western allies in February.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the CIA realized Saudi Arabia was "serious" about toppling Assad when the Saudi king named Prince Bandar to lead the effort. "They believed that Prince Bandar, a veteran of the diplomatic intrigues of Washington and the Arab world, could deliver what the CIA couldn"t: planeloads of money and arms, and, as one U.S.diplomat put it, wasta, Arabic for under-the-table clout," it said.

Bandar has been advancing Saudi Arabia"s top foreign policy goal, of defeating Assad and his Iranian and Hezbollah allies.

Although Saudi Arabia has officially maintained that it supported more moderate rebels, the newspaper reported that "funds and arms were being funneled to radicals on the side, simply to counter the influence of rival Islamists backed by Qatar."

 

Ongoing activities

Syria

Assad interviewed on TV

(CBS News) Appearing Sunday on "Face the Nation," Charlie Rose for the first time discussed sitting down with President Bashar Assad for his only television interview since President Obama asked Congress to approve a military strike against Syria.

Speaking with Bob Schieffer, the "CBS This Morning" co-host previewed the interview - held Sunday at the Presidential Palace in Damascus - which is Assad"s first with an American TV network in nearly two years. Rose reported the Syrian leader addressed allegations that his regime used chemical weapons against his own people.

In his interview Bashar Assad spoke of "people aligned to Syria" carrying out "some kind of retaliation" for an American attack.

CBS News charlie-rose-interviews-syrian-president-bashar-assad/

Assad appears calmly to be warning that attacking him will result in an explosion of violence from unspecified people.

Spreading the conflict

The Syrian and Hizballah armies Sept.8, finished supplying rockets to dozens of Palestinian groups, some invented ad hoc, and deploying them on the Syrian and Lebanese borders facing Israel, debkafile"s military sources disclose. An array of Katyushas, Grads and Fajr-5s, with ranges of up to 70 kilometers, is now in place. This development prompted the first deployment in the Jerusalem region Sunday night of an Israeli anti-missile Iron Dome battery.

The information reaching Israeli intelligence is that the newly-armed Palestinian groups fully intend targeting the Israeli capital, following the example of Hamas, which aimed missiles from the Gaza Strip at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in November 2012.

It now turns out that he intends using pro-Syrian and amorphous Palestinian groups as his instruments of retaliation, while at the same time disavowing responsibility for their actions.
In the south, likeminded Hamas and Jihad Islami groups in the Gaza Strip may try and join the rocket offensive against Israel. It will be hard for them to stand aside and watch, although Egypt's counterterrorism offensive in Sinai is cutting into their resources.

The Israeli government's assurances, last heard from Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, that the Israeli public must carry on as usual - because running into "the full might of the IDF" will deter anyone thinking of hitting back at Israel - sharply contrasted with the Syrian and Hizballah preparations for proxy reprisals by Palestinians. 

The minister sounded more credible when he said in the same breath: "We are ready for all the consequences - either of a US attack on Syria, or the absence of an attack. Whichever is decided we will be affected."

The IDF's high command could not miss the fact that the four Grad rocket attack from Lebanon on northern Israel's Western Galilee took place on Aug.22, the day after the chemical attack on eastern Damascus. It was meant as a warning from Damascus and its Hizballah ally for Israel to stay out of the Syrian conflict or else allied Palestinian groups would unleash their missiles in earnest.

For public consumption, Israeli officials pretended that the four rockets were fired by a vague "global Jihad" group, to disguise the truth that a pro-Syrian Palestinian group was in fact responsible. Israel is not alone in putting an upbeat gloss on the facts.

 

Meanwhile

Government troops battled al-Qaida-linked rebels for a Christian village in western Syria for a second day Thursday, while world leaders gathered in Russia for an economic summit expected to be overshadowed by the prospect of U.S.-led military strikes against the Damascus regime.

Residents of Maaloula said the militants entered their ancient village Wednesday night.Rami Abdul-Rahman, the director of the Britain-based Observatory for Human Rights, said the fighters included members of the of the al-Qaida-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra group.

Russia

Russia"s Moskva missile cruiser, dubbed a "carrier-killer" by NATO, had (September 11) passed through the Straits of Gibraltar and is now heading toward the eastern Mediterranean to assume command of the Russian naval force there. Full report with pictures - rt.com/

A Russian warship carrying "special cargo" will be dispatched toward Syria, a navy source said on Friday, as the Kremlin beefs up its presence in the region ahead of possible US strikes against the Damascus regime.

The warship Nikolay Filchenhov left the port of Sevastopol from Russia"s naval base in the Black Sea, on Friday. Filchenhov is one of two warships en route to the Eastern Mediterranean, which set sail to Novorossiysk, where it will replenish stocks and pick up cargo before sailing to the Syrian city of Tartus.

Moscow has denied that this move has anything to do with bolstering its naval presence in the region ahead of possible Western military action against Syria.

The Nikolay Filchenkov is a beachable general-purpose LST-type design Landing Ship capable of deploying a cargo of up to 300 troops and 1,700 tons of military hardware from ramps located at its bow and stern. When travelling at a speed of 15 knots it has a range of 10,000 miles. Onboard firepower includes one 122mm UMS-73 Grad-M bombardment RL and three SA-N-5 Grail launchers missile systems, along with one dual 57mm/70 DP and two dual 25mm AAs.

"The ship will make call in Novorossiisk, where it will take on board special cargo and set off for the designated area of its combat duty in the eastern Mediterranean," the source said.

The source did not specify the nature of the cargo.

Russia has kept a constant presence in the eastern Mediterranean during the Syrian crisis.

In recent days Russia has made steps to beef up its naval grouping in the region.

The Russian destroyer Smetlivy will soon join the group in the region as well as the destroyer Nastoichivy, Interfax has said.

Russia has sent S-300 missiles to Iran, (Russia signed a contract in 2007 to deliver five of the advanced S-300 ground-to-air weapons systems - which can take out aircraft or guided missiles - to Iran) Also, the source close to the Kremlin as saying that that Russia was ready to build a second reactor for Bushehr power station in a deal that was not "particularly profitable from an economic point of view, but is rather political."

So Israel's red line has been crossed. With a weakened US President, Russia knows it is likely the United States will not back Israel, and Israel will be all alone. Iran and Russia are using the weakness of the United States to push against Israel. Obama"s speech was a speech of a defeated man and nation. In time, Turkey, Libya, and Sudan will join the alliance in the attempt to destroy Israel.

Check these events against Ezekiel 38-39.

Ezekiel 38:8 After many days have passed, you will be mustered for service; in later years you will invade the land which has been brought back from the sword, gathered out of many peoples, the mountains of Isra"el. They had been lying in ruins for a long time, but now Isra"el has been extracted from the peoples and all of them are living there securely.
You will come up like a storm, you will be like a cloud covering the land - you and all your troops, and many other peoples with you."
"Adonai Elohim says: "When that day comes, thoughts will well up in your mind, and you will devise a sinister scheme.
You will say, "I am going to invade this land of unwalled villages; I will take by surprise these people who are at peace, living securely, all in places without walls, bars or gates.
I will seize the spoil and take the plunder." You will attack the former ruins that are now inhabited and come against the people gathered from the nations, who have acquired livestock and other wealth and are living in the central parts of the land.

China

Western naval sources reported Friday that a Chinese landing craft, the Jinggangshan, with a 1,000-strong marine battalion had reached the Red Sea en route for the Mediterranean off Syria.

debka.com

Iran

The Iran regime is eager to stir up action and has been funding Assad's Syria as its proxy.

(see also Russia, above)

The United States has obtained intelligence indicating that Iran "may be planning" a retaliatory strike against the American Embassy in Baghdad if the United States launches a military strike against Syria, a senior U.S.official told CNN. He said that Iran has "a lot of Shi"a friends" in Iraq that would be willing to carry out an attack.

The official was responding to a Wall Street Journal report that the United States intercepted an order from Iran to militants in Iraq to attack the embassy "and other American interests in Baghdad," if the United States struck Syria militarily for alleged chemical weapons use.

Forget Syria, Target Iran - by Daniel Pipes

Here's advice to the members of the United States Congress as they are asked to endorse an American-led attack on the government of Syria:

Start your consideration by establishing priorities, clarifying what matters most to the country.The Obama administration rightly points to two urgent matters: stopping the Iranian nuclear buildup and maintaining the security of Israel. To these, I add a third: reestablishing the U.S.deterrent credibility laid low by Barack Obama himself.

Note that this list conspicuously does not mention the Syrian regime"s chemical arsenal (the largest in the world) or its recent use. That"s because those pale in horror and in danger by comparison with the nuclear weapons now under construction in Iran. Also, the attack in Ghouta, Syria, on Aug.21 was appalling, but not worse than killing a hundred times more civilians through other means, including torture. Further, that attack breached multiple international conventions, but surely no one expects "limited strikes" to restrain desperate dictators.

Iran is a well known backer of Assad"s regime in Syria but....

The escalating crisis in Syria has caused already apparent cracks in the clerical regime which rules Iran to grow even wider, as officials opposed to continued support of the Assad regime have grown bolder and louder. Leading the charge is former president and opposition leader Hashemi Rafsanjani, who has reportedly asked the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) to stop sending fighters and other support to Syria. Other voices in the Islamic Republic are beginning to demand to know why the government is sending so much money and aid to Syria when the economy in Iran is in such bad shape.

 

Saudi Arabia

Committed to restoring the caliphate by whatever means, including financing mosques around the world.

Above stories claim Saudi is leading efforts to topple Assad.

Saudi Arabia has sent prisoners facing "execution by sword" for murder, rape or drug smuggling to fight against the Syrian government in exchange for commuting their sentences, the Assyrian International News Agency reports.

Citing what it calls a "top secret memo" in April from the Ministry of Interior, AINA says the Saudi offered 1,239 inmates a pardon and a monthly stipend for their families, which were were allowed to stay in the Sunni Arab kingdom. Syrian President Bashar Assad is an Alawite, a minority Shiite sect.

Russia, which has backed Assad, objected to the bargain and allegedly threatened to bring the issue to the United Nations, said an unidentified former Iraqi member of Parliament who confirmed the memo"s authenticity, says AINA, an independent outlet.

"Initially Saudi Arabia denied the existence of this program.But the testimony of the released prisoners forced the Saudi government to admit, in private circles, its existence," AINA writes."The Saudis agreed to stop their clandestine activities and work towards finding a political solution on condition that knowledge of this program would not be made public."

Israel

Missile Test

"Israel tested a U.S.-backed missile system in the Mediterranean on Tuesday but did not announce the launch in advance, prompting a disclosure by Russia that kept the world on edge as the United States weighed an attack on Syria," Reuters reported. "The morning launch was first reported by Moscow media that quoted Russian defense officials as saying two ballistic "objects" had been fired eastward from the center of the sea -- roughly in the direction of Syria."

 

Israel prepared for US decision fall out

As the Obama administration increases efforts to secure both international and domestic support for a military strike against the Assad regime in Syria, Israeli officials said yesterday that Israel is prepared for the consequences of whatever decision is reached in Washington.

US President Obama referred the decision over military intervention to Congress last week and the Times and Independent this morning say that opinion among US lawmakers and the general public is in the balance. Addressing the uncertainty at the annual international conference held by the Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya, Israel's Defence Minister Moshe Ya'alon said that "We're prepared for the consequence of [United States] action or inaction in Syria." He reiterated that "We"re not involved in the Syrian civil war unless our interests are harmed or the red lines we set [are crossed]" including attempts by the Assad regime to transfer "quality weapons" to terrorist organisations such as Hezbollah. Ya"alon emphasised that Israelis should maintain "the daily routine" and that "Anyone who planned vacations during the [current Jewish] holidays can continue with their plans."

Speaking at the same conference, the head of the diplomatic-security bureau at Israel's Defence Ministry, Amos Gilad added "Will the United States attack? Will it not attack? What will the consequences be? All of these things are unknowns." However, he also said that Israel will not intervene unless forced to do so.

Iron Dome for Jerusalem

Meanwhile, Channel Two reported that for the first time, a battery of the Iron Dome anti-missile system has been moved to the Jerusalem area as part of the preparations for possible US military intervention in Syria. According to Haaretz, batteries have already been placed near Tel Aviv and in the north of the country.Reuters quotes an Israeli official who said that Israel would receive advanced notice "hours" ahead of a US strike on Syria.



Cyprus - RAF base

Sept.2, two Syrian Mig-29 fighters flew over the RAF Akrotiri base in Cyprus, where American and French warplanes are waiting for the signal to go into action against Syria. It took the British Ministry of Defense a week to disclose that a pair of armed RAF Typhoons was scrambled to intercept the Syrian intruders, forcing them to turn tail before they entered Cypriot air space.

Amid the hush from London surrounding the incident, the Syrian air force tried its luck a second time Sunday, Sept.8. This time two Sukhoi (Su-24) bombers flew over Akrotiri.
Those signals from Damascus ought to open the eyes of the optimists who are counting on Syria and its allies to avoid responding to a potential American attack.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 9, 2013, 10:08 AM (IDT)

http://debka.com/article/23261/Syrian-Hizballah-rockets-for-Palestinian-anti-Israel-proxy-reprisals-Syrian-Sukhoi-bombers-over-Cyprus

Bible Prophecies

In recent weeks, some dire prophecies have turned up on websites, in book stores, as the subject of Bible studies and in sermons by some Christians and others who see a link between the old passages and modern-day events in Egypt, Libya and Syria.

"Behold, Damascus is about to be removed from being a city, and will become a fallen ruin," reads Isaiah 17, a passage some Christians say they believe details a horrific event that leaves the city uninhabitable and leads to worldwide tribulation and the second coming of Christ.

Damascus is the Syrian capital and one of the world"s oldest cities.

Another passage in Isaiah 19 deals with civil war in Egypt and the rise of a "fierce king."

Talk of those prophecies intensified as President Barack Obama considered a U.S.military strike on Syria in response to what Washington says is evidence that the Syrian leadership used chemical weapons against its own people. In turn, Syria vows to retaliate against neighboring Israel if the U.S.strikes.

 

Caroline Glick - August 30, 2013

President Barack Obama and his senior advisers have told us that the US is poised to go to war against Syria. In the next few days, the US intends to use its air power and guided missiles to attack Syria in response to the regime's use of chemical weapons in the outskirts of Damascus last week.
The questions that ought to have been answered before any statements were made by the likes of Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel have barely been raised in the public arena. The most important of those questions are: What US interests are at stake in Syria? How should the US go about advancing them? What does Syria's use of chemical weapons means for the US's position in the region? How would the planned US military action in Syria impact US deterrent strength, national interests and credibility regionally and worldwide? Syria is not an easy case. Thirty months into the war there, it is clear that the good guys, such as they are, are not in a position to win.
Syria is controlled by Iran and its war is being directed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps and by Hezbollah. And arrayed against them are rebel forces dominated by al-Qaida.
As US Sen.Ted Cruz explained this week, "Of nine rebel groups [fighting the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad], seven of them may well have some significant ties to al-Qaida."
With no good horse to bet on, the US and its allies have three core interests relating to the war. First, they have an interest in preventing Syria"s chemical, biological and ballistic missile arsenals from being used against them either directly by the regime, through its terror proxies or by a successor regime.
Second, the US and its allies have an interest in containing the war as much as possible to Syria itself.
Finally, the US and its allies share an interest in preventing Iran, Moscow or al-Qaida from winning the war or making any strategic gains from their involvement in the war.
For the past two-and-a-half years, Israel has been doing an exemplary job of securing the first interest. According to media reports, the IDF has conducted numerous strikes inside Syria to prevent the transfer of advanced weaponry, including missiles from Syria to Hezbollah.
Rather than assist Israel in its efforts that are also vital to US strategic interests, the US has been endangering these Israeli operations. US officials have repeatedly leaked details of Israel"s operations to the media. These leaks have provoked several senior Israeli officials to express acute concern that in providing the media with information regarding these Israeli strikes, the Obama administration is behaving as if it is interested in provoking a war between Israel and Syria. The concerns are rooted in a profound distrust of US intentions, unprecedented in the 50-year history of US-Israeli strategic relations.
The second US interest threatened by the war in Syria is the prospect that the war will not be contained in Syria. Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan specifically are threatened by the carnage. To date, this threat has been checked in Jordan and Lebanon. In Jordan, US forces along the border have doubtlessly had a deterrent impact in preventing the infiltration of the kingdom by Syrian forces.
In Lebanon, given the huge potential for spillover, the consequences of the war in Syria have been much smaller than could have been reasonably expected. Hezbollah has taken a significant political hit for its involvement in the war in Syria. On the ground, the spillover violence has mainly involved Shi"ite and Shi"ite jihadists targeting one another.
Iraq is the main regional victim of the war in Syria. The war there reignited the war between Sunnis and Shi"ites in Iraq.Violence has reached levels unseen since the US force surge in 2007. The renewed internecine warfare in Iraq redounds directly to President Barack Obama"s decision not to leave a residual US force in the country. In the absence US forces, there is no actor on the ground capable of strengthening the Iraqi government"s ability to withstand Iranian penetration or the resurgence of al-Qaida.
The third interest of the US and its allies that is threatened by the war in Syria is to prevent Iran, Russia or al-Qaida from securing a victory or a tangible benefit from their involvement in the war.
It is important to note that despite the moral depravity of the regime's use of chemical weapons, none of America"s vital interests is impacted by their use within Syria. Obama"s pledge last year to view the use of chemical weapons as a tripwire that would automatically cause the US to intervene militarily in the war in Syria was made without relation to any specific US interest.
But once Obama made his pledge, other US interests became inextricably linked to US retaliation for such a strike. The interests now on the line are America"s deterrent power and strategic credibility. If Obama responds in a credible way to Syria"s use of chemical weapons, those interests will be advanced. If he does not, US deterrent power will become a laughing stock and US credibility will be destroyed.
Unfortunately, the US doesn"t have many options for responding to Assad"s use of chemical weapons. If it targets the regime in a serious way, Assad could fall, and al-Qaida would then win the war. Conversely, if the US strike is sufficient to cause strategic harm to the regime's survivability, Iran could order the Syrians or Hezbollah or Hamas, or all of them, to attack Israel. Such an attack would raise the prospect of regional war significantly.
A reasonable response would be for the US to target Syria's ballistic missile sites. And that could happen. Although the US doesn't have to get involved in order to produce such an outcome. Israel could destroy Syria's ballistic missiles without any US involvement while minimizing the risk of a regional conflagration.
There are regime centers and military command and control bases and other strategic sites that it might make sense for the US to target.
Unfortunately, the number of regime and military targets the US has available for targeting has been significantly reduced in recent days. Administration leaks of the US target bank gave the Syrians ample time to move their personnel and equipment.
This brings us to the purpose the Obama administration has assigned to a potential retaliatory strike against the Syrian regime following its use of chemical weapons.
Obama told PBS that US strikes on Syria would be "a shot across the bow."
But as Charles Krauthammer noted, such a warning is worthless. In the same interview Obama also promised that the attack would be a nonrecurring event. When there are no consequences to ignoring a warning, then the warning will be ignored.
This is a very big problem. Obama"s obvious reluctance to follow through on his pledge to retaliate if Syria used chemical weapons may stem from a belated recognition that he has tethered the US's strategic credibility to the quality of its response to an action that in itself has little significance to US interests in Syria.
And this brings us to the third vital US interest threatened by the war in Syria - preventing Iran, al-Qaida or Russia from scoring a victory.
Whereas the war going on in Syria pits jihadists against jihadists, the war that concerns the US and its allies is the war the jihadists wage against everyone else. And Iran is the epicenter of that war.
Like US deterrent power and strategic credibility, the US's interest in preventing Iran from scoring a victory in Damascus is harmed by the obvious unseriousness of the "signal" Obama said he wishes to send Assad through US air strikes.
Speaking of the chemical strike in Syria, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned, "Syria has become Iran"s testing ground....Iran is watching and it wants to see what would be the reaction on the use of chemical weapons."

The tepid, symbolic response that the US is poised to adopt in response to Syria's use of chemical weapons represents a clear signal to Iran. Both the planned strikes and the growing possibility that the US will scrap even a symbolic military strike in Syria tell Iran it has nothing to fear from Obama.
Iran achieved a strategic achievement by exposing the US as a paper tiger in Syria. With this accomplishment in hand, the Iranians will feel free to call Obama's bluff on their nuclear weapons project. Obama's "shot across the bow" response to Syria's use of chemical weapons in a mass casualty attack signaled the Iranians that the US will not stop them from developing and deploying a nuclear arsenal.
Policy-makers and commentators who have insisted that we can trust Obama to keep his pledge to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons have based their view on an argument that now lies in tatters. They insisted that by pledging to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power, Obama staked his reputation on acting competently to prevent Iran from getting the bomb. To avoid losing face, they said, Obama will keep his pledge.
Obama's behavior on Syria has rendered this position indefensible. Obama is perfectly content with shooting a couple of pot shots at empty government installations. As far as he is concerned, the conduct of air strikes in Syria is not about Syria, or Iran. They are not the target audience of the strikes. The target audience for US air strikes in Syria is the disengaged, uninformed American public.
Obama believes he can prove his moral and strategic bonafides to the public by declaring his outrage at Syrian barbarism and then launching a few cruise missiles from an aircraft carrier. The computer graphics on the television news will complete the task for him.
The New York Times claimed on Thursday that the administration's case for striking Syria would not be the "political theater" that characterized the Bush administration's case for waging war in Iraq. But at least the Bush administration's political theater ended with the invasion. In Obama"s case, the case for war and the war itself are all political theater.
While for a few days the bread and circuses of the planned strategically useless raid will increase newspaper circulation and raise viewer ratings of network news, it will cause grievous harm to US national interests.

As far as US enemies are concerned, the US is an empty suit.

And as far as America's allies are concerned, the only way to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power is to operate without the knowledge of the United States.

Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.

 

Footnote on Saudi blame article

Provided because wildolive had no previous knowledge of Mint Press, and because it is wildolive's only source of these important accusations.

The article's image of burial of gas attack victims carried this alt tag - "This image provided by by Shaam News Network on Thursday, Aug.22, 2013, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, purports to show several bodies being buried in a suburb of Damascus, Syria during a funeral on Wednesday, Aug.21, 2013. Syrian government forces pressed their offensive in eastern Damascus on Thursday, bombing rebel-held suburbs where the opposition said the regime had killed more than 100 people the day before in a chemical weapons attack. The government has denied allegations it used chemical weapons in artillery barrages on the area known as eastern Ghouta on Wednesday as "absolutely baseless." (AP Photo/Shaam News Network)"

This image provided by by Shaam News Network on Thursday, Aug.22, 2013, purports to show several bodies being buried in a suburb of Damascus, Syria during a funeral on Wednesday, Aug.21, 2013, following allegations of a chemical weapons attack that reportedly killed 355 people.(AP Photo/Shaam News Network)

Clarification: Dale Gavlak assisted in the research and writing process of this article, but was not on the ground in Syria. Reporter Yahya Ababneh, with whom the report was written in collaboration, was the correspondent on the ground in Ghouta who spoke directly with the rebels, their family members, victims of the chemical weapons attacks and local residents.

Gavlak is a MintPress News Middle East correspondent who has been freelancing for the AP as a Amman, Jordan correspondent for nearly a decade. This report is not an Associated Press article; rather it is exclusive to MintPress News.

Some information in this article could not be independently verified. Mint Press News will continue to provide further information and updates .

Dale Gavlak is a Middle East correspondent for Mint Press News and has reported from Amman, Jordan, writing for the Associated Press, NPR and BBC. An expert in Middle Eastern affairs, Gavlak covers the Levant region, writing on topics including politics, social issues and economic trends. Dale holds a M.A.in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Chicago.Contact Dale at dgavlak@mintpressnews.com

Yahya Ababneh is a Jordanian freelance journalist and is currently working on a master"s degree in journalism, He has covered events in Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Libya. His stories have appeared on Amman Net, Saraya News, Gerasa News and elsewhere.

 

 

Updated 12/02/16

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