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Now is not the time to defend Britain's democracy – we need a democratic revolution
Laurie Macfarlane, openDemocracy

28 August 2019


   The ancient institutions of the British state are well past their sell-by date. Only a radical shake-up can resolve the crisis.

"Defend democracy – resist the parliament shutdown". This is the rallying call of protestors gathering today to oppose Boris Johnson's proroguing of parliament.

To be clear: I think the protests are well intentioned. Boris Johnson's cynical attempt to force through a no deal Brexit is reckless and should be opposed, including on the streets if necessary.

But there is something unsettling about taking to the streets to "defend" our democracy, when it is precisely our broken democratic structures that are to blame for the mess we are in.

Of course Boris Johnson's actions are undemocratic, but so is our entire system. As my colleague Adam Ramsay has argued at length, the ancient institutions of the British state are well past their sell-by date.

Our unelected House of Lords contains the only hereditary legislators in the world, and the only automatic seats for clerics outside Iran. We have a head of state that is appointed not on the basis of merit, but by bloodline. We have an "uncodified" constitution, which is to say that we don't really have one. We have an electoral system which encourages millions to believe that voting can never make a difference. And we have an absurd concentration of power which ensures that citizens in most parts of the country have no say over the decisions that affect them.

Combined with an economic model that has left many on the wrong side of our finance-led economy, is it really any wonder that people jumped at the chance to "take back control"?

Painful as it has been, the Brexit vote provided a much needed wake up call. But while the EU is far from perfect, the real source of our problems can be found much closer to home.

So despite the good intentions, now is not the time to be defending Britain's broken democracy. Instead, we should be demanding a democratic revolution.

Abolish the House of Lords? Why not. Establish a written constitution like most normal countries? A no-brainer. Decentralise power across the nations and regions? It would be crazy not to. Allow referendums on self-determination for any nation that wants one? That's democracy.

With Queen Elizabeth nearing the end of her reign, it is also right that we have a national debate about the future of the Monarchy.

The stakes couldn't be higher. Boris Johnson – a man of Eton, Oxford and the Telegraph – has successfully positioned himself as a "man of the people" whose noble attempts to uphold democracy are being thwarted by an out of touch elite. In this context, taking to the streets with a message of defending the status quo is potentially fatal. It is precisely what Johnson and his band of disaster capitalists want.

The only way to defeat them is to seize the agenda by offering a radical shake-up of Britain's democratic structures. Together with a bold economic programme that makes a decisive break with neoliberalism, there is an opportunity to change the terms of the debate on what it means to "take back control".

Britain's constitutional crisis has been a long time coming. It's not pretty, and it might not be on the terms of our choosing. But we can't afford to let the crisis go to waste.



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Significance of the Non-Aggression Pact Signed by the Soviet Union with Nazi Germany
Workers' Daily News
http://www.johnbucklecentre.org.uk/opensite/wdnews/news.php?xnewsaction=fullnews&newsarch=092019&newsid=1
On September 1, 1939, Nazi Germany invaded Poland, and on September 3, Britain declared war on Germany. This began the period known in Britain as the "phoney war", since Britain, under Neville Chamberlain, along with other Western powers, had refused the appeals of the Soviet Union for Collective Security, and now were loath to commit forces to fight Germany, hoping that Hitler would turn East and attack the Soviet Union.

But on August 23, 1939, the Soviet Union had signed what is now known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Non-Aggression Pact with Germany. The agreement stipulated that Germany would not attack the Soviet Union and the Soviet Union would not attack Germany. Future events proved the farsightedness of Stalin in signing the pact which was the best of all available alternatives. It provided the Soviet Union with 22 months of peace so as to prepare herself to withstand the inevitable German invasion which Hitler had foreshadowed in his 1925 book, Mein Kampf, when he openly declared that Germany needed to "turn our gaze to the lands in the east". The pact also put an end to the Anglo-American and French policy of egging Hitler toward the East so that an isolated Soviet Union would end up facing massive German forces.

The Nazis did eventually invade the Soviet Union as expected but not until June 22, 1941. It was the largest German military operation of the war. The heroic and protracted Soviet resistance against the Nazi hordes for almost two years culminated in the great Soviet victory at Stalingrad on February 2, 1943, that concluded with the encirclement and surrender of a German army of 300,000 troops. That was the turning point of the entire war. Stalingrad was followed by another decisive Soviet victory in a tank battle at Kursk. These triumphs began a powerful counteroffensive that drove the German Hitlerites steadily backward until the final demise of the Third Reich in Berlin. On May 9, 1945, the anti-fascist allied forces of the world, with the Soviet Union and communists of all lands at the head of the Resistance Movement, declared victory over the Hitlerite Nazis. Fascist Germany acknowledged defeat and declared unconditional surrender.

Completely ignoring these undisputed facts, the reactionaries of today use the anniversary of the non-aggression pact to promote self-serving disinformation which presents Russia as their enemy and seeks to invite the peoples of what are called the Western democracies to once again engage in a campaign to isolate Russia, as well as China. They present themselves as the architects of the great victory of the world's people over Nazi Germany. Again and again, they slander the great deeds of the Soviet Union by making the same claims that Goebbels made in 1939. One of the main ways this is done is by ignoring what the British and French, supported by the US industrialists, did at Munich and instead declaring: "On August 25, 1939 the Soviet Union and Germany signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact which led to the Second World War, the killing of millions of people and the Holocaust." This big lie that blames the Soviet Union for the war is aimed at concealing the real facts, which are that the two main factors leading to the world war were the huge US investments in the German economy, beginning with the 1924 U.S. Dawes Plan, which financed the rebuilding of their industries, especially their war industries, and the policy of appeasement of Germany by renouncing collective security that was consummated in Munich on September 29, 1938.

The big lies about the so-called Soviet-German alliance began in January 1948 with the US publication of material from the diaries of Hitlerite officials, in collaboration with the British and French foreign offices, which left out any mention of what happened in Munich! This began a fresh wave of slander and lies in connection with the Molotov-Ribbentrop Non-Aggression Pact. The German documents were all written from the standpoint of the Hitler government without the documents seized by the Soviets or the Soviet documents. They were published as a deliberate Cold War campaign against the Soviet Union on the part of the Anglo-American imperialists. The Soviet Information Bureau immediately published a very important document titled "Falsificators of History" to refute them.[1]

One specific falsification is the suggestion that the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was not a non-aggression pact but a "military alliance". This deliberately tries to convey the lie that the pact included an agreement that under certain conditions the communist Soviet Union and the anti-communist Nazi Germany could take joint military action against some third country. But the pact contained no such agreement. As previously stated, the agreement was only that the two countries would not attack each other. Even hard-core reactionaries are now forced to admit that "the Soviet Union eventually played a major role in helping defeat the Nazis". Nonetheless, they still allege that prior to joining the war on the Allied side, Stalin was "helping Hitler". This is said to divert attention from the fact that the British and French were "helping Hitler" when they signed such pacts a year earlier and refused to sign a collective security pact with the Soviet Union. It is also significant that these same official circles never once mention how US corporations, such as General Motors, Ford, and Standard Oil, supplied the Nazi war machine with essential materials that enabled their invasion of Europe.

As for the lie that Stalin's signing of the non-aggression pact with Germany was the cause of the Second World War, it should be noted that Britain and France had already issued a joint declaration of non-aggression with Germany in 1938, not to mention signed a "Pact of Accord and Co-operation" in 1933 when Hitler came to power. Poland signed a non-aggression pact with the Nazis in 1934, five years before the Soviet Union did. Of all the non-aggressive Great Powers in Europe, the Soviet Union was forced into a pact with the Germans as a result of the rejection of collective security by Britain and France.

"The history of events in 1938, both before and after Hitler's occupation of Austria in March show that the Soviet Union, as it had done in earlier years, made many efforts to persuade Britain and France to maintain collective mutual assistance and in particular to carry out their undertaking to defend Czechoslovakia against aggression.... The Soviet Union was not only willing to join forces with France to defend Czechoslovakia, if France would keep her word, but was prepared to defend Czechoslovakia on her own, even if France refused."[2]

All the efforts by the Soviet Union to build collective security failed. The British and French refused to sign any collective mutual assistance pact with the Soviet Union. Instead, they signed the September 29, 1938, Munich Pact with Germany and Italy which permitted Germany to incorporate the Sudeten, ordered the Czechs not to resist Nazi aggression, and gave the Nazis the green light to launch their attacks across Europe. Of course, the reactionaries never want to discuss the Munich Pact because it was such a blatant betrayal of the world's people that even Winston Churchill accused British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in the British Parliament: "You were given the choice between war and dishonour. You chose dishonour and you will have war."

It is indisputable that faced with the British and French betrayal, the Soviet Union had no choice but to take whatever measures it could to defend itself and the cause of peace.

Just to give one example of the policy of appeasement of Hitler, Memo #8604, which was sent to Moscow by Russian intelligence from Prague several days before the signing of the Munich Agreement, reads: "On September 19, British Ambassador Newton and French Ambassador De Lacroix conveyed to Milan Hodza (Czechoslovak prime minister in 1935-1938) the following on behalf of Chamberlain and Daladier, respectfully: 'Guided by the lofty principles of preserving peace in Europe, they consider it necessary for Germany to incorporate the Sudeten region. A system of mutual aid pacts with other countries should be cancelled.'"[3] They claimed that this betrayal of the Czech people which led to German occupation was "guided by the lofty principles of peace." Yet, within a year of marching into Czechoslovakia, Germany had invaded Poland, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Netherlands, France, and Britain.

Another oft-repeated lie is that in the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany agreed to "divide Poland", again falsely implying that the pact included a commitment to joint military action against a third country. While it is true that the Nazis invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, committing one of the worst war crimes the world has ever seen by killing about 6 million people including most of the Polish intelligentsia and sending its workers who were not killed into slave labour camps, the role of the Soviet Union was entirely different. The Soviet Army marched into the territory of Poland on September 17 after the Polish state had collapsed, the Polish army had disintegrated, the government had ceased to function and its aristocratic leaders had fled. Further, also to protect itself and the people of these countries the Soviet Union marched into the territories of the Ukraine and Byelorussia that Poland had forcibly annexed from the Soviet Union during the Polish-Russian War of 1919-20, when Poland was one of the 14 invading imperialist countries that attempted but failed to strangle the newborn Soviet socialist republic. Only about eight per cent of the people in the Ukraine and Byelorussia were of Polish origin.

What was the result of the Soviet Army marching into Poland?

"As a result of the Soviet Union's timely entry into what had been territories of the Polish state, Hitler was forced to accept a line of demarcation between his troops and the Red Army, a long way west of the then Polish-Russian frontier."[4] The Red Army saved millions of people inhabiting the Ukraine and Byelorussia from the fate which Hitler reserved for the Polish people. Even Winston Churchill publicly justified the Soviet march into eastern Poland as necessary not only for the safety of the people of Poland and the Soviet Union but also of the people of the Baltic states and Ukraine.

On October 1, 1939, Churchill said in a public radio broadcast: "That the Russian armies should stand on this line (Curzon) was clearly necessary for the safety of Russia against the Nazi menace. At any rate, the line is there, and an Eastern Front has been created which Nazi Germany does not dare assail. When Herr von Ribbentrop was summoned to Moscow last week it was to learn the fact, and accept the fact, that the Nazi designs upon the Baltic states and upon the Ukraine must come to a dead stop."

The nefarious actions of the Anglo-Americans and the French behind the back of the Soviet Union destroyed the existing elements of the collective resistance system against Nazi Germany. It was the Munich Pact signed by Great Britain, France, Germany, and Italy which was the final cowardly act that triggered the Second World War, the killing of millions of people, and the European Holocaust. The judgment of history points to the truth about the Anglo-American and French betrayal of the world's people and to the truth about the heroic role of the Soviet Union and J V Stalin in defeating the Nazis. No falsifiers of history can change those facts.

"In the end, the resistance of the Soviet peoples led by Stalin and the Communist Party broke the back of the Nazi aggressors. Some 50 million people died and another 35 million were seriously wounded during the Anti-Fascist War, with the peoples of the Soviet Union bearing the brunt of the casualties."[5]

Notes
1. Soviet Information Bureau, Falsificators of History (Moscow,1948).

2. Stalin "planned to send a million troops to stop Hitler if Britain and France agreed to the pact": Stalin was "prepared to move more than a million Soviet troops to the German border to deter Hitler's aggression just before the Second World War," Nick Holdsworth, Telegraph,October18,2008.

3. Russian Foreign Intelligence Service Declassifies Munich Agreement Papers, Valery Harmolenko, RIA Novosti, September29, 2008.

4. Bains, Hardial, Causes and Lessons of the Second World War(Toronto: MELS, 1990).

5. "The overthrow of the imperialist system is the only guarantee for peace," The Marxist-Leninist Daily, May 11, 2010.

Article 14 - 100th Anniversary of the Treaty of Versailles: Self-Serving Inter-Imperialist Treaty for Redivision of the World.
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For Your Information / Coverage of Hong Kong protests shrouded in hypocrisy
« Last post by nestopwar on August 21, 2019, 08:52:00 AM »
   Coverage of Hong Kong protests shrouded in hypocrisy
George Galloway RT reported in Canadian Dimension

August 15, 2019


   Where to start? For nearly 40 weeks hundreds of thousands of French people have been on the streets in anti-government demonstrations against President Emmanuel Macron's rule.

Some have lost eyes and hands in the police response. The public has begun to view the smell of tear gas as a normal part of a weekend in Paris. France is 29 miles from the coast of England. Siri just told me that "Hong Kong is about 5,992 miles from London as the crow flies."

So complete has been the British media blackout on the Yellow Vests that many believe, wrongly, that there is some British government order banning on any mention of "les événements en France." The truth is that there is no need for one.

Like a homing pigeon in reverse the entire UK media has flown like a bat out of hell away from France all the way to Hong Kong (as they had earlier flown to Caracas until the big protests turned into the wrong kind of protests).

There is nothing, except the shoe-sizes, of the demonstrators in Hong Kong that I don't know thanks to the veritable blizzard of in-depth analysis of the protestors there and their each and every demand. Protesters in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain can be executed, but we will never be told their names.

And the hypocrisy of the media is just for starters.

If a group of British protesters broke into the British Parliament and hung, for argument's sake, a Russian flag over the Speaker's chair it is "highly likely" that a commando force would quickly and violently overwhelm and arrest them accompanied by volleys of accusations about Russian interference.

If a crowd of British protestors occupied Heathrow Airport in such numbers and so disruptively that British Airways had to stop flights in and out of the airport, causing massive financial loss, dislocation, and personal inconvenience, I promise you that their protest would have been cleared out by the above mentioned commandos on the very first day of their protests.

If protesters in London were hoisting Chinese flags and singing the Chinese national anthem then, well, I'm sure you get my point.

The struggle between the government of China and its citizens is no more the business of the British than it is of the Slovakians. It's true that Hong Kong was a British colony for 150 years but the least said about the shame and disgrace of how that came to be, the better, I promise you.

Suffice to say that to acquire territory by force, followed by unequal treaty at gunboat-point to punish the actual owners of the land for resisting the British opium trade, is, even by British Imperial standards, extraordinary. So shameful is it you'd think the British would want to draw a veil over it. But not so.

The British tell us that Hong Kong want democracy but nobody ever says that across a century and a half of British rule in Hong Kong the people there were allowed no democracy of any kind.

They tell us about the justice system without ever mentioning that even today the ‘draconian' courts of Hong Kong are still stuffed by white English judges.

They tell us about NGOs and "civil society" without telling us whose pounds and dollars the "NGOs" are stuffed with.

In fact, these foreign-funded and guided organisations are carefully stabled Trojan Horses chomping their British and American supplied hay until the time came for them to be told to gallop, and gallop they now are.

This is all plain hypocrisy! No other country in the world would have shown such forbearance in the face of foreign-sponsored rioting destruction and sabotage of the national economy as China has. If in the days to come China's patience runs out, it will not be before time so far as the great majority of Chinese citizens, including Hong Kong citizens, are concerned.

China signed up to the one country, two systems in the territory. It did not agree to two countries, two systems. Not one inch of Hong Kong belongs to anyone but China. The days when foreign countries could impose their will on China are long gone.

George Galloway was a member of the British Parliament for nearly 30 years. He presents TV and radio shows (including on RT). He is a film-maker, writer and a renowned orator.

This article originally appeared on RT.com.
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   A Syrian Leader Tells His Country's Story: An Interview with SAA General Hassan Hassan
Eva Bartlett, Mint Press News

August 05th, 2019


   For years, international headlines spotlighting Syria have claimed that the Syrian government, army, and its allies were guilty of a variety of atrocities. Yet as time has passed, many of the accusations levied at government and its allies have been shown to have been either falsified, staged (as in the case of allegations of chemical attacks in eastern Ghouta), or actually committed by the myriad terrorist groups operating in the country.

For their part, Syrian leadership has maintained from the start that the demonstrations in their country were not peaceful, from 2011 and on. Media in the West and the Gulf vilified Syria's leadership, featuring story after story of government-imposed violence while ignoring or whitewashing the violence of the burgeoning armed groups flooding into Syria.

From as early as 2011, armed groups were throwing civilians from rooftops and committing beheadings, kidnappings, and massacres. The year 2011 alone saw multiple massacres of civilians and security forces committed by what the media called "unarmed protesters" and later by the "Free Syrian Army." This was the same year that many in the media were insisting that a "peaceful revolution" was underway.

Since that time, those same armed groups, as well as the many iterations they spawned, have starved, tortured, imprisoned, murdered, maimed and even harvested the organs of Syrian civilians, in addition to killing Syrian and allied soldiers and journalists and destroying much of the country's infrastructure.

To give a voice to the often ignored "other side" — those Syrians that have been working to defend their country since 2011 — Eva Bartlett interviewed the Syrian Arab Army's Head of Political Administration, General Hassan Hassan. General Hassan's shelves and large wooden desk are covered with stacks of books, family photos, and various homages to the country he serves — the general holds a Ph.D. in geopolitical studies. The following is a transcript of Bartlett's interview with Hassan following the 74th anniversary of the founding of the Syrian Arab Army.

Eva Bartlett (EB) | I would like to begin by asking you your thoughts on how honest Western and Gulf media's reporting on Syria has been, especially regarding their choice of lexicon — for example, regarding the Syrian Army, the Syrian Government, what they call rebels — and the events in Syria in general.

General Hassan (GH) | Media has been one of the weapons of mass destruction used in this war on Syria. The biased media, in addition to the takfiri [Salafi] fatwas — especially the fatwas — have been the weapons that contributed most to the destruction taking place in Syria, including the destruction of human beings, vegetation, civilization, everything.

President Bashar al-Assad emphasized more than once the necessity of countering the rhetoric used. I can elaborate for two or more hours on the terms used. However, I will limit myself to some examples.

The Free [Syrian] Army is among the lexicons used. What "army" and what "freedom" are they talking about? Every army is known for its discipline, hierarchy, fighting strategies in both defense and attack, and the cause it fights for.

The so-called Free Syrian Army has none of these qualities, except for the ability to kill. The media tried to put into circulation the term Assad's Brigades or Assad's Forces. Our army is the Syrian Arab Army, which includes in each of its formations soldiers from all Syrian governorates, with no exception.

I'll give you an example. Almost three months ago, the militants supported by Turkey targeted a Syrian army position to the north of Latakia. Twelve soldiers were martyred as a result. Each soldier is from a different governorate. This is the Syrian Arab Army.

They used the term "defection." There is no defection in the Syrian Arab Army; defection did not really occur in the Syrian Arab Army but there are some cases of soldiers running away. The term "defection" is used when a brigade or a squad defect from a certain army. Until now, the Syrian Arab Army has not witnessed what might be called defection even within its smallest units.

In order to spread the idea of defection they resorted to unsophisticated lies. In 2012 they said that General Mohammad al-Rifa'i, commander of the Fifth Squad, had defected from the army. This lie was circulated through the media. Yet, Syrian TV interviewed the general, who had retired in 2001, 11 years prior.

Gangs would stop civilian or military vehicles on highways, hold soldiers hostages, film them and force them at gunpoint to declare that they had defected [from the army].

I'll give an example available from the internet of their lies regarding the term the Free Syrian Army. Anyone can check the Free Syrian Army term through Google. We type Abu Saqr al-Asadi — right here, I have typed Abu Saqr al-Souri [the Syrian]. We now find [the result] "face to face with the fighter Abu Saqr al-Asadi who ate the heart of a soldier." (Abu Saqr is also transliterated as Abu Sakkar, as per the BBC article referred to by General Hassan).

That was in 2013 when he was filmed cutting into the chest of the soldier and eating his heart. It is here on Google from the BBC Arabic website. This is not a Syrian media outlet. It is a Western outlet. It is not a pleasant sight to watch him chewing the soldier's heart.

Abu Saqr al-Asadi was a fighter in the Al-Farouq Brigades, which was an armed rebel organization formed by the Free Syrian Army. When he died he was a member of the Nusra Front. So, he was a member of the Free Syrian Army, used to be with the Farouq Brigades, and then joined the Nusra Front.

I could speak for hours about the issue of lexicon. For instance, they talked about what is called the armed opposition. How could opposition be armed?! Opposition is a political term. Opposition is a political party that did not win elections. Such a party plays the role of opposition in the parliament. These militant groups want to govern the country, the people and everything by armed force. Does this sound normal? Never was there a term called "armed opposition," except when they spoke about these terrorist gangs.

EB | So in the article you've just shown, the English version, the BBC did not report it as an act of carnage. They humanized Abu Saqr and asked him what drove him to do such a desperate act?

GH | This is the media war. Either they say he is violent or they say he is an angel; hasn't he demonstrated how he cut out an organ and ate a piece of it? When the BBC describes a man who ate the heart of a dead soldier as a peaceful man, how then would they describe beasts?

EB | Regarding events in Syria in 2011, both Western and Gulf media called it a peaceful unarmed uprising for many months, even for up to a year. Do you have an example of attacks by what the West called unarmed protesters against the Syrian army, police or security forces in 2011?

GH | In 2011 they said the reason behind the first spark was that the army, or another security body, pulled out the nails of some children in Dara`a. Over the past eight years, it has become clear that all of the armed groups are equipped with video cameras and live-streaming devices. Can any of them provide us with a video of one child whose nails were pulled out? Where are these children? Why couldn't the media that fabricated such lies film the pulled-out nails?

Let's go back to the peaceful uprising. On April 10, 2011, less than a month after the beginning of the so-called uprising, an army convoy transporting soldiers back to their homes was intercepted on the highway from Tartous to Banias. Nine people were martyred: two officers, five warrant officers, and two civilians. They also fired at the ambulances that tried to reach the wounded.

Other examples are the Nawa massacre in Dara`a, the Jisr al-Shoghur massacre, and the Asi River massacre — where they live-streamed the dumping of people into the river. All these massacres were perpetrated before the end of June 2011.

That is the peaceful [Arab] spring the Western and Gulf media talked about.

Are these examples enough, or should I cite more? It's important to me that Western readers know how many lies and how much deception there has been, especially by the media.

I'll give you another minor example. Usually, the BBC, Al-Jazeera and France 24, etc. would broadcast that an explosion took place in a certain area. However, there was no explosion. But 15 to 30 minutes later an explosion would take place in the same area. It was like a code to the armed groups to carry out the explosion.

I'll provide you with a more comprehensive example. When the area of Ma`raba [near al-Tal, a suburb of Damascus] was targeted by the Israeli enemy, cameras were focused on the targeted area even before the missiles hit.

EB | So, they were ready?

GH | The cameras were aimed at the area where the missiles were supposed to hit. At the moment that the missiles hit the targeted area, members of armed groups began cheering "Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar." This was documented by their cameras; definitely not Syrian media cameras. At the same time, armed groups in eastern Ghouta attacked Damascus from seven fronts.

As an ordinary person — not as a military figure– I could tell it was a role carried out by three. First, the one who carried out the aggression, and that is the Zionist entity [Israel].

Second, the media outlets that were assigned to broadcast the aggression before it was carried out. And third, the armed groups who attacked Damascus. Therefore, the cameraman and those militants are substitute recruits of the Israeli enemy. I cannot call them but the substitute army of Israel and the United States.

According to confessions by Israeli and American officials, including previous U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, ISIS was made by America. Later on, ISIS was classified as a terrorist organization.

Thus, those terrorists made in the U.S. are the rebels of the peaceful [Arab] spring later circulated in the region by means of the foreign media outlets.

EB | According to Israeli media, Israel is fighting terrorism, Muslim extremists. However, there are reports of Israel treating militants or terrorists in Israeli hospitals. Can you please outline Israel's role in the war on Syria?

GH | Everything that has taken place in Syria and in the region — all the blaze erupting in the region, under what they falsely called the Arab Spring — serves the interests of Israel. These are not my own conclusions; rather, it is the Israeli media who talk about this. The Israeli prime minister appeared on television when he visited wounded terrorists, injured while fighting the Syrian army, being treated in Israeli hospitals. This is number one.

The other issue is that every time the Syrian Arab Army is making an apparent advance, Israel conducts an aggression [airstrike]. When Israel is unable to achieve its objective, it seeks the help of the United States, just as it did when the U.S. Air Force targeted the Tharda Mountains in Deir ez-Zor as the Syrian army was en route to clear Deir ez-Zor of terrorists.

I hope that you underscore the following statement: Those who sponsor terrorism don't fight it. Israel is an entity based on both killing and falsehood. When Palestine was already inhabited, they claimed that Palestine was a land without people and wanted to give it to people without a land. Thus, the United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary, Arthur Balfour, gave what the U.K. didn't own to those who didn't deserve it.

In 2019, Trump did the same and gave the Golan to Israel as if Trump inherited it from his own father. Who gave Trump the right to give other people's property to others? The issue here is that international law needs power to protect it. Unfortunately, the United States is still the superpower of the world and the financial and economic despot of the world. U.S. officials are indifferent to falsehood, humanity, law or human rights. All this means nothing to them.

I would like to remind foreign readers that Iraq was destroyed under the pretext of having weapons of mass destruction. The whole world still recalls Colin Powell when he presented what he called a satellite image as evidence of Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction. When Powell left office, he admitted to U.S. media outlets that that moment was the darkest in his lifetime. The question is: When did he admit it? How many innocent victims were killed as a result?

How come a sovereign state was occupied without international legitimacy? American officials don't care about this. Wherever the U.S. has interfered around the world, the result has been more killing, destruction, and suffering and successive U.S. administrations are competing to serve Israel.

EB | Syria has been accused of using chemical weapons against civilians. Does the Syrian army use chemical weapons against civilians?

GH | An official mission came to Syria and demanded that the Syrian government carry out an official investigation. They delayed for years before the mission arrived. And those who came submitted an untruthful report.

Syria signed the agreement and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) visited Syria and checked all places and the existing stockpile [of chemical weapons] was destroyed on a U.S. vessel. Accordingly, The OPCW announced that Syria was chemical weapons-free.ve

The Syrian Government has been accused of using chemical weapons many times, in eastern Ghouta and in other areas. Under this pretext, [th U.S. and its allies] launched their aggression on Syria. Syria affirmed many times through statements by Syrian officials, both before and after the agreement was signed, that Syria does not in any way intend to use chemical weapons and that Syria has not used nor will it use chemical weapons.

After the declaration of this organization [OPCW] that Syria is free from chemical weapons, how could Syria use something that it does not have? Despite evidence that chemical substances and weapons entered into areas under the control of militant groups in Syria through Turkish borders, investigations were not resumed.

There are a number of videos showing how the armed groups were the ones using chemical weapons themselves. Each time Syria was accused of using chemical weapons, the Syrian army was on the verge of finishing a military operation. Is it logical they'd use chemical weapons — which would prevent the declaration of victory?

With regard to their claim of using chemicals in Ghouta, the areas there are interconnected. Those who use chemical weapons cannot protect themselves. When those terrorists used chemicals there, both the civilians and the military were hit, as was the case in Khan al-Asal and elsewhere. This was exposed in the [UN] Security Council by Bashar al-Ja'afari.

Syria does not possess chemical weapons. Syria has never used chemical weapons before. Syria cannot use a chemical weapon for a simple reason, or for two reasons in fact: Ethically, Syria does not believe in using chemicals [weapons]. This is number one. Second, Syria does not own chemical weapons.

EB | The Rukban Camp is near the U.S. base of al-Tanf. One question is about the U.S. relationship with ISIS in that area and whether or not America has been fighting ISIS in the area. Also, according to Western media, refugees evacuated from Rukban to centers in Homs, for example, are taken and thrown in prison.

For example, the Canadian Globe & Mail, citing a Qatari-based organization, said that from 2017 to 2019 around 2,000 Syrians who returned to government-controlled areas (in general and not from Rukban specifically) were detained and 784 are still in prison. How would you reply to accusations that people returning home were detained or forced to serve in the Syrian army?

GH | In relation to ISIS and the U.S., I can say that a mother does not eat her own son. ISIS is a U.S. product, according to American confessions. However, America sometimes becomes a cat and eats some of its own kittens when they become a burden.

America uses ISIS, fights with ISIS, not against ISIS. Whenever the role of some armed ISIS fighters comes to an end, the U.S. abandons or gets rid of them. The U.S. does not care whether those members get killed or not.

However, when the U.S. needs them, it sends helicopters to evacuate them, just like what happened when Deir ez-Zor was liberated. American helicopters would land and evacuate ISIS leaders together with their families and fly them somewhere else.

Rukban Camp is within the sight of the Americans in the Tanf base. U.S. surveillance can distinguish a hen from a rooster on a street anywhere in the world. How is it that ISIS members are able to move at the Tanf border without being observed by the U.S. military there? How can the U.S. convince the world that it is fighting ISIS when the latter's members move freely under U.S. observation?

Four months ago, I was working with the Head of the Russian Reconciliation Centre, General Victor Kopcheshen. He told me that the Russian government received an official reply from the Americans that they would not allow any Syrian or Russian to come close to the 55-kilometer line around Rukban Camp to help evacuate people from the camp.

Less than four months ago we first began evacuating a few hundred [people] from Rukban. Now, the number of people who returned from Rukban Camp has exceeded 15,000 (As of July 31, that number has reached 17,458 according to Russia's Ministry of Defense). Can anyone provide me with the name of even one person who left Rukban and got detained? These claims are flagrant lies.

Author's note | I asked officials at the UN about the accusation that the Syrian government was imprisoning former residents of Rukban, I detailed their reply in a separate article for MintPress:

"David Swanson, Public Information Officer Regional Office for the Syria Crisis UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs based in Amman, Jordan, told me regarding claims of substandard conditions and of Syrians being forcefully held or mistreated in the centers that:

‘People leaving Rukban are taken to temporary collective shelters in Homs for a 24-hour stay. While there, the receive basic assistance, including shelter, blankets, mattresses, solar lamps, sleeping mats, plastic sheets, food parcels and nutrition supplies before proceeding to their areas of choice, mostly towards southern and eastern Homs, with smaller small numbers going to rural Damascus or Deir-ez-Zor.

The United Nations has been granted access to the shelters on three occasions and has found the situation there adequate. The United Nations continues to advocate and call for safe, sustained and unimpeded humanitarian assistance and access to Rukban as well as to all those in need throughout Syria. The United Nations also seeks the support of all concerned parties in ensuring the humanitarian and voluntary character of departures from Rukban.'

Hedinn Halldorsson, the Spokesperson and Public Information Officer for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) based in Damascus, told me:

‘We looked into this when the rumours started, end of April, and concluded they were unfounded – and communicated that externally via press briefings in both Geneva and NY. The conditions in the shelters in Homs are also adequate and in compliance with standards; the UN has access and has done three monitoring visits so far.'"

GH | I would like to stress a point concerning military service in the army. Several presidential decrees have been issued. Any Syrian citizen [living] abroad who wishes to settle his status and return to Syria can benefit from those decrees, which invalidate any other verdict issued against that Syrian citizen.

These decrees do not nullify a Syrian citizen's rights nor their duties. Syrian citizens who return to Syria are still Syrian citizens and therefore still have the duties of Syrian citizens. The decrees granted them a grace period of six months to settle their legal status.

For example, a person who lost their official ID, or army service registry or anything, can settle their legal status during this period. It is a normal official procedure to call for duty those who are subject to mandatory or reserve military service. This procedure has been applied to all Syrian citizens in all provinces, not only those who return.

I cannot say just respect the rights and ignore the duties. Everyone is equal before the law. They have to obey what Syrian law states and the majority of them are loyal and doing their duties enthusiastically.

But the people who have their status settled do not have the right to commit a crime. If I had a son living abroad who returned and settled his status, does it give him the right to commit an offense against his neighbors or to kill somebody or commit a crime? The law is the law and must be adhered to.

EB | Western media say that Iran and Russia's presence in Syria is an attempt to occupy Syria and control it. What are the roles of Iran and Russia in Syria?

GH | Before I answer your question, let us decide what logic we're using. Are we using the logic of international law or the law of the jungle? Who has the right to speak in the name of the Syrian people? It is only the Syrian state that has the right to speak in the name of the Syrian people. No other side has the right to speak for them. Surely, those who are speaking in the name of the Syrian people do not know the Syrian people. It is really strange that the governments of those who kill the Syrian people are acting as if they were advocates of the Syrian people.

According to international law, it is the right of any state to defend itself when such a country faces hazards endangering its own existence. Such a country has the right to defend its existence and sovereignty by using all means possible. In this respect, this country has the right to rely on its relations with friends and allies as well, no matter whether those allies are Russian, Iranian or any other ally. Neither the U.S., Israel nor the Gulf states have anything to do with this. It is a matter of Syrian sovereignty.

The other thing has to do with the military presence of any country on the territory of another state. Such a presence can be legal in one of the following two cases: when invited by the state concerned, or through a resolution issued by the [UN] Security Council. Otherwise, such a presence is an occupation.

Therefore, there is no reason for the Syrian state to be ashamed of its stance on the presence of Iran or Russia in Syria. The Syrian State declares its stances clearly and explicitly: that the presence of Iran, Russia and Hezbollah is based upon an official invitation by the Syrian government. Thus, their presence is legal according to international law. Can anyone in the West — or the media outlets who claim to be neutral — convince any Syrian citizen that the U.S. presence or the Turkish presence is legal?

The Syrian State says they are forces of occupation. There is no [UN] Security Council resolution allowing them to be present in Syria. So what is the meaning behind their presence? They are using the law of force, rather than the force of law. Thus, they are referring back to the law of the jungle and not to the force of international law.

Those occupiers support terrorism, created terrorism, and are still financing it according to a confession made by the former Qatari prime minister that his country spent $37 billion to arm and finance armed groups in Syria. The Qatari PM confessed that his country and the armed groups had agreed to destroy Syria. Yet, they disputed when things went out of their control. They paid the armed groups to hunt the prey. However, they disputed among themselves when the prey escaped.

EB | Syria welcomed Palestinian refugees and has supported the Palestinian resistance. Could you please explain the role of some Palestinians in the events in Syria within the past few years, whether in fighting terrorism or supporting it.

GH | The Syrian State does not deal with people and does not take stances based on reactions. The Syrian state has its own constants and principles, and it [continues to] adhere to these constants and principles even in its ninth year of war. Syria still believes that the cause of Palestine is the central cause of the Arab world.

So, when some Palestinian groups choose to affiliate themselves with the Muslim Brotherhood rather than being loyal to the Palestinian cause and to Syria, it makes Syria [even] more committed to its principles. Especially as these days, the world knows well that the Muslim Brotherhood [has become] the basis of evil since they've adopted terrorism.

The Palestinian cause remains the central cause. Syria will always take interest in the Palestinian cause, in spite of the fact that some [Palestinians] were eager to be part of the war on the Syrian State. Even though weapons that were supposed to be used to fight Israel were used in the war on Syrian citizens.

The Syrian State is now recovering and history will remember those [Palestinians] as traitors. History will show that Syria has been, and will be, loyal to the Palestinian cause.

The Yarmouk Camp is back under Syrian sovereignty. The camp is now free from those who carried weapons and used them against Syrian citizens, whatever names they used — ISIS, Nusra or otherwise — and regardless of their nationality, Palestinian or otherwise. All of them are now gone, thanks to the sacrifices made by the Syrian people the heroism of the Syrian Arab Army and the wisdom of our leader, President Bashar al-Assad.

EB | Some Palestinians remained loyal to Syria, including in fighting terrorism, like the Quds Brigade

GH | Yes, of course. Surely. There are loyal people even inside occupied Palestine. Not all people are ungrateful to those who help them. Not all people bite the hand that is stretched out to help them. Only traitors bite that hand.

EB | When eastern Aleppo and eastern Ghouta were being liberated, Western and international media said that the Syrian army was massacring and raping civilians there and that both the Syrian and the Russian militaries were bombing hospitals. Now, they are saying that 29 hospitals in Idlib have been targeted. What would you say about these accusations?

GH | We have liberated eastern Ghouta. We have also liberated eastern Aleppo. In both locations, a number of field hospitals were shown on television with piles of medicine. This implies that these hospitals were not bombed. This is very briefly.

The other point is that when a building is selected as a command center for armed groups under the pretext of its being a hospital, does this mean we should let those positioned in eastern Ghouta target Damascus on a daily basis with their shells?

Didn't the world watch those angels of mercy, when they entered Adra industrial town, burning people alive in ovens and throwing civilians off fourth and fifth floors?

We're talking about war here, we're talking here about armies of terrorists equipped with light, medium and heavy weapons and empires of media around the world, in addition to the regional and world powers supporting them.

It is the duty of the Syrian State, before being its own right, to provide the Syrian people with protection against terrorism. The problem with the national Syrian media is that it does not reach the West.

Crossing points are identified as corridors for the exit of civilians before any military operation gets started in a populated area. Such corridors are then equipped with ambulances, medical services and every other need. Who targeted the nurses, doctors and civilians on their way out when citizens were evacuated from eastern Ghouta?

Has anybody seen the photo of the Syrian soldier carrying an old woman on his back and a child on his arm? That soldier knew he could drop as a martyr carrying this heavy load. Other soldiers fell as martyrs while they were helping civilians escape.

That number, 29 hospitals, is a lie in itself. It is more than the number of [national] hospitals available all over Syria. Do they allocate a hospital for every twenty or thirty people? This is illogical.

There is also something strange about all the field hospitals that we discovered. Saudi, Israeli and U.S. medicine was found in these hospitals. How did such medicine reach the terrorists? Did it come from underneath the ground?

And those who had been targeting Damascus and Aleppo are all of sudden depicted as angels of mercy, peace and freedom advocates calling for democracy?

It's worth pointing out to people in the West that it has been proven that only a limited number of the fighters in armed groups came from western Europe and North America, while tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, came from other countries.

The Turkish president declares that such terrorists are free to leave Syrian territory whenever he gets upset with Europe or the U.S. Subsequently, EU countries and the U.S. get so horrified at the possibility of those terrorists returning home.

The EU countries and the U.S. do not want any of those terrorists to return. Why is it that they do not want them to come back? Are they not their own citizens? They say that such terrorists will spread terrorism, so they spread terrorism there while they plant roses and flowers here? Is it okay for terrorists to spread terror here while they're forbidden to return to their own countries?

Briefly, these are the types of lies spread by the West.

I'm calling on each and every citizen of Western countries, as I am absolutely sure that they have pure human emotion, not to believe the Western media. I want them to be certain that their governments have participated in the killing of the Syrian people and in the killing of Syrian children. Their governments participated in the killing of Syrian women and the killing of the Syrian elderly and convinced them [Western citizens] that they were promoting something else [freedom].

EB | Recently, journalists from CBS and Sky News were in Idlib. I believe one of the two groups, Sky News, claimed that it was targeted by the Syrian army. Could they be reporting independently of al-Qaeda or any of the other terrorist groups in Idlib? They claim they are not [embedded] with al-Qaeda. Is this feasible? Is this realistic?

GH | It's a funny question. You're a journalist. Surely, this is not the first time you have visited Syria. Have you faced any obstacles while entering Syria as a journalist? Do any Western or European countries accept the entry of foreign journalists illegally into their countries?

Sky News, the BBC, and Al Jazeera teams conduct live transmissions while embedded with armed groups — the terrorists. I wish that the mental power of the Syrian soldiers could become super advanced so that they can order shells to avoid foreign correspondents who are side by side with terrorists. The army is responding to attacks launched by terrorists — soldiers and officers of the Syrian army cannot give orders to an exploding shell to avoid this or that.

The most important question is this: What are they doing there? How did they enter? Who is in control in Idlib? Isn't it the Nusra Front? How are they [the journalists] allowed to be there? They are there under the protection of the Nusra Front. They are under the protection of an internationally-designated terrorist organization. Their countries should hold them accountable for communicating with terrorist groups before asking why the army is targeting them.

EB | How can Idlib be liberated when Turkish forces occupy northern Syria and there are civilians in Idlib, in addition to the 70,000 al-Qaeda and other terrorist fighters?

GH | There were civilians and armed groups in Homs. There were civilians and armed groups in Ghouta as well. There were civilians and armed groups all over Dara`a. All these regions have been liberated. The majority of citizens remained there while the terrorists were wiped out. Idlib is no exception. Eastern parts of the Euphrates are no exception either.

Each square centimeter of Syrian land is part and parcel of Syria as a whole. It is the duty and the right of the Syrian State to eradicate terrorism.

Unless under an invitation by the Syrian government, any foreign military presence on the Syrian territory is a force of occupation. The Syrian State is entitled to face such an occupation with every possible means.

The Syrian State has opened the door wide for reconciliation. The Syrian State trusts the wisdom of Russian and Iranian friends and relies on its relations with Turkey.

Surely each Syrian citizen, civilian or military, wishes that not even one drop of blood be spilled. This does not mean to yield to occupation in any way.

Idlib will be freed either through reconciliations or a political agreement. Otherwise, the Syrian State will find the means to liberate Idlib in the same way it liberated all other regions. I am absolutely certain — not as an officer but rather as a citizen — I know how Syrian citizens think; they believe that Idlib will be freed, as will each and every inch of the Syrian territory.

The presence of U.S., Turkish, or any other occupation force does not mean such a force is a destiny that cannot be faced. As long as we [the Syrian State] spare no effort or means — whether military, political, economic or diplomatic — to win this war [against terrorism] by God's will, and I hope it is not going to be through military action. But if things reach a dead-end, Idlib will not remain under occupation.

EB | Can you speak to the importance of liberating Idlib, not only for Syria's territorial integrity but also for the villages in Northern Hama that are affected by terrorists in Idlib? The media is not talking about Mahardeh, Sqailbiyeh and other places being attacked by terrorists.

GH | When Mhardeh and Sqailbiyeh are targeted, as a Syrian citizen, I do not see these two towns as less important than Damascus. Likewise when the neighborhoods of Homs were targeted.

All areas inhabited by Syrian citizens under the control of the Syrian State have been targets for those armed terrorist groups that are supported by the West, which claims it is standing by human rights and cares about the interests of the Syrian people.

For Syrian citizens, the liberation of each centimeter, or rather each grain of sand, is as important as the liberation of Idlib. Of course, the existence of armed groups in Idlib leads to abnormal circumstances that cause dysfunction in citizens' daily lives. Thus, it is important to liberate Idlib to guarantee the return of normal life in Mahardeh, Sqailbiyeh and other areas.

At the same time, it is important to end the occupation by the U.S. and its allies.

I hope that each European or American citizen will ask: Why do Syrian citizens return to areas that have been liberated? Why do citizens welcome the army? Why do citizens — except those who are held hostage by terrorists — flee from areas under the control of terrorist groups?

The civilians residing in terrorist-held areas are helpless hostages. A year ago all of the neighborhoods in eastern Ghouta were populated by terrorists. If the Syrian army had been shelling civilians in the past, why not do now? Why are people now living in peace there?

These are questions that I put forward to people living in the West. I hope they are human enough to ask [themselves] these questions.

EB | Regarding misinformation from international media on the Syrian Arab Army, portraying them as murderers and rapists. Can you speak about the sacrifices of the Syrian Arab Army throughout these eight years of war?

GH | I will answer your question with a question. Syria is an area of 185,000 square kilometers. According to United Nations documents, 360,000 armed terrorists infiltrated Syrian territory.

I would like to draw an example other than Syria. I'll give the U.S., the superpower of the world, as an example. Let's suppose that 36,000, rather than 360,000, terrorists infiltrate any state of the United States. That's 10 percent of the number of terrorists who made their way into Syria. Let's also suppose that such terrorists are supported by world powers. What would have happened to the U.S.?

The achievements of the Syrian Arab Army are not ordinary; these achievements are miraculous accomplishments.

The two greatest armies in modern history have failed to achieve what the Syrian Army has accomplished. In Afghanistan, fewer than 10 percent of the number of terrorists in Syria were able to defeat two armies: the Red Soviet Army and the U.S. Army.

But, the Syrian Army defeated such terrorism. According to military theory, any fight between an army and terrorist militia of armed gangs will end with the armed gangs winning. This has been evident throughout military history.

For the first time in the history of humankind, a traditional army has defeated armies of militant groups. The Syrian Army fought battles that can be classified as new in military science. The Syrian Army fought above ground and underground battles in addition to their battles against the media war, intelligence war, information war, economic war, gang and street-to-street wars. Despite all of that, the Syrian Army achieved victory. Therefore, can we imagine the magnitude of the sacrifices made in this respect by the Syrian Army?

In the first months of this war, the Syrian leadership realized that the terrorists wanted Syrians to be used to seeing blood everywhere. So, soldiers were forbidden from carrying weapons, even handguns, when they went to areas of so-called demonstrations to prevent demonstrators from destroying infrastructure.

For months the soldiers confronted the militants knowing that they could be martyred. However, the discipline of the Syrian army pushed the soldiers to do their missions without carrying a weapon.

Let any Western citizen imagine how it would be for a soldier with no weapons facing armed militants to stop them from destroying infrastructure and targeting civilians.

This is the Syrian army. The Syrian army cleared most of the Syrian regions occupied by the fiercest types of terrorism ever witnessed in the history of mankind.

EB | Thank you very much for your time and for the interview in general.

GH | I also would like to thank you all for what you've done so far and for all of the questions you raised. I kindly request that you share my replies with foreign readers.

Personally, I think your role as an objective journalist transcends the traditional role of journalism. It reflects an ethical responsibility of telling the truth about what you've seen. If you want to help the Syrian people, the greatest help you can offer the Syrian people is to tell the truth you have seen with your own eyes, not just what is said all over the internet.

Again, anyone can look up Abu Saqr al-Souri and see how he ate the heart of a dead soldier. He was a member of the so-called peaceful group of the Free Syrian Army, when he was killed — he was with the Nusra Front. This can be enough to convey the message.

Feature photo | Syrian General Hassan Hassan, center, is interviewed by Eva Bartlett, right in his office. A translator is seated to the left. Photo | Eva Bartlett

Eva Bartlett is a Canadian independent journalist and activist. She has spent years on the ground covering conflict zones in the Middle East, especially in Syria and occupied Palestine, where she lived for nearly four years. She is a recipient of the 2017 International Journalism Award for International Reporting, granted by the Mexican Journalists' Press Club (founded in 1951), was the first recipient of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism, and was short-listed in 2017 for the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism. See her extended bio on her blog In Gaza. She tweets at @EvaKBartlett
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Interviewed by Russian Blogger and Public Figure. From Moscow to Donbass

The other day, I was interviewed by Vadim Manukyan on the Moscow protests but also on issues related to Syria, Gaza, Venezuela and western corporate media propaganda.

*Vadim Manukyan is a blogger, public figure, and an “expert of the Council for the Development of the Information Society and Media at the State Duma”, as described on his Facebook profile.
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*Photo by Eva Bartlett. Journalist taking selfie in front of Russian police. Many journalists at the protest had a visible fixation with framing their photos with police. The intent seems clear enough to me. Police, by the way, did not react to this nor to further harassment by journalists.


“Canadian journalist and blogger Eva Bartlett attended an opposition rally on Sakharov Avenue in Moscow on August 10 and called the protesters “the most apathetic she had seen” The journalist shared her thoughts on Facebook.

[Eva note: My emphasis on APATHETIC was to highlight the sense that many of the protesters were not there for reasons to do with “democracy”, etc, but were, lets say, persuaded by other interests… ]

For this “liberty”, according to tradition, some of the Russian social network users harassed her, Eva was accused of “propaganda” and “work for the Russian media”.

In order to clarify the position of Eva Bartlett on all pressing issues, Vadim Manukyan spoke with her specifically for the Federal News Agency.


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*Photo by Eva Bartlett. Protesters in Moscow August 10, 2019.

VM: -Is this your first time in Russia?

EB: -I came to Russia both as a tourist and a journalist. I plan to travel around to see some other Russian cities. But also, since Western media has made considerable hype about the protests in Moscow, I decided to observe for myself whether or not there was “police brutality”. I was also curious about the nature of the protests themselves.

[I’m also planning on going to Donbass for 2 to 3 weeks.]

In Donbass, I plan to interview civilians about what they’ve experienced under Ukrainian shelling, and also to interview journalists who have been covering this.
I also have an interview I’ll conduct in Moscow, but prefer to wait until I’ve done so before speaking about it.

VM: – You’ve said that the protesters in Moscow turned out to be the most apathetic of those whom you have seen, and that they got more energetic only when the singers and the bands began performing. Maybe it’s because most people did come not for the action, but just to see their favourite performers?

EB: – That’s the impression I got. My point about apathy was this: if one truly believes in the cause he/she is advocating for, that passion shows during protests. What I observed was people who periodically chanted for a brief period, and then just stood there. In all the protests I’ve participated in, I’ve never seen such lackluster.

It really seemed like many of those who came out on Saturday–many of whom were youths–might have had other reasons for attending. One obvious one was the presence of the bands/singers. I’ve also heard allegations that protesters are paid to attend–but I can’t personally verify those allegations.

VM: -You noted that the protesters on Sakharov avenue seemed to be waiting for the team from the organizers to shout certain slogans. Did you have any feeling that the organizers themselves also received instructions from the West? Don’t you think that we are talking about a foreign intervention into the Russian politics, as it was in Ukraine, Egypt, Syria, Venezuela and other countries where there were staged protests?

EB: – I think that is entirely possible. I don’t discount that people in Russia, or Venezuela, or Syria, have genuine political grievances and want certain changes, of course they do. But if we look at the case of Syria, for example, it is now known that from the very beginning there were armed protesters who attacked security forces, and committed massacres against security forces and civilians. This was at a time when most Western and Gulf media maintained the lie that the protests were peaceful [Please see my 2015 article on this.]

I was in Venezuela for several weeks in March 2019. There were massive protests (video) in support of the government . Those protests were filled with people who were very politically-aware, informed and could articulate what they were defending. I did try to attend opposition marches, but they never materialized. [Related: US is manufacturing a crisis in Venezuela so that there is chaos and ‘needed’ intervention]

Back to your question: given the amount of media hype around these considerably small protests in Moscow, and given the long-held Western hostility against Russia in general, as well as the US embassy in Moscow essentially advertising last Saturday’s protest, it is not at all far-fetched to suspect that there is foreign intervention going on here.

VM: – Every independent journalist who dares to contradict Western propaganda about Russia is instantly called an employee of RT/Ruptly. And it does not matter whether you left a comment or you wrote the author’s column, or sent a stream. You were affected, too. Do you feel that Western media is jealous to the success of this TV company? Western viewers increasingly prefer RT and they are called as propagandists by real propagandists from BBC, CNN, Radio Liberty and other media.

Now highly oppositional Maria Baronova and moderately oppositional Ekaterina Vinokurova joined the RT team. Also opposition journalist Anton Krasovsky cooperates actively with this media. The opposition labeled them immediately as sold ones to propagandists, but in fact the involvement of such professionals to the work for the state media is the sign of real democracy and the success of the RT management presented by Margarita Simonyan. How do you feel about the success of RT around the world and the attempts of the Western governments to block their broadcasting?

EB: -Western leadership are threatened by RT, otherwise they would not ban RT’s participation in conferences and meetings, as they did recently in the so-called “media freedom” conference in the UK. Both RT and Sputnik weren’t permitted to participate. The irony is that actual propagandists and spreaders of disinformation (CNN, Sky News, Channel 4, CBC, BBC, CNN, etc) were not only able to attend but highlighted. [See my: London’s ‘media freedom’ conference smacks of irony: Critics barred, no mention of jailed Assange]

Earlier this year, when the Lima group met in Canada, again Russian media and Telesur weren’t able to attend.

As for myself, yes, when I am smeared by Western media and those who disagree with my observations, one of the first things they will say is that I’m “employed” by RT. In fact, I am a freelancer, and contribute to a number of platforms, only one of which is RT–and I maintain that I’m grateful that I have this platform, where I am not censored. I also maintain that whatever I publish on RT I would have otherwise published on my blog. It isn’t that RT dictates what I write or influences me in any way, its merely that RT offers a platform for my views the be read. Further, if you look at the list of contributors to RTs op-ed section, its a long list, and likewise they are not “employed” or “owned” by RT. [See my earlier: Those Who Transmit Syrian Voices Are Russian Propagandists?]

VM: -Canada has got a very large Ukrainian Diaspora. One of the first visits abroad of the new President of Ukraine was to Canada. Do you follow what is happening in Ukraine? I know that you were in correspondence with the journalist Kirill Vyshinsky and interviewed his lawyer. Do you think he is a hostage of the Ukrainian authorities? How do you feel about the fact that radicals in Ukraine are shelling TV channels, scaring journalists. Why does the West support this regime in Ukraine and does not notice all these horrors?

EB: -Unfortunately, because Canada’s Foreign Minister, Chrystia Freeland’s grandfather has a Nazi collaborator background, I believe that is one major factor that influences her decisions. I haven’t been able to follow Ukraine as closely as Syria, given that I’ve spent much of the past six years going to or writing on Syria. However, I’m aware of the basics, and that FM Freeland is whitewashing the crimes of neo-Nazis in Ukraine.
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As for Kirill Vyshinsky, I’ve been trying to raise awareness of his unjust imprisonment. In doing so, I did interview Kirill by email and earlier this year went to Kiev to interview Andriy Domansky, his defense lawyer. They both articulated that Kirill is being held as a political card to be played by Ukrainian authorities, that he is not guilty of the allegations of treason. And Mr. Vyshinsky made the good point that if he was such a danger to Ukraine, why did they wait 4 years to act on the articles he published–none of which were written by himself, all of which carried a standard disclaimer?

 [Kirill: “Nothing happened before May 2018, this is what amazes me! Accusationsagainst me in the case investigated by the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) are connected with posts on the website that I run dating back to the spring of 2014.

 The posts were made in the spring of 2014. According to the SBU, they represented a threat to the national security of Ukraine, but they remembered them only in 2018! And this is despite the fact that the SBU and Ukraine’s Ministry of Press and Information (another supervisory authority) have been regularly publishing lists of websites that were a “threat to national information security,” while my website was never listed!! And then, in May 2018, I was arrested. “]

On the note of tv stations being shelled, I noticed that occurred soon after the media freedom conference.

During that conference, many countries pledged to defend and protect journalists. So I asked the rhetorical question: “Any reaction from so-called ‘Global Media Freedom’ conference co-hosts Freeland & Hunt, or those who pledged to ‘shine a light on violations & abuses of media freedom, bringing them to the attention of global public and working towards accountability’”.


VM: – Why does not Western media notice the shelling of Donbass by the Ukrainian armed forces? Why is Russian humanitarian aid to those regions and peaceful people living there drawn by the West as the assistance to armed rebels?

EB: – Western corporate media cannot report honestly on the shelling of civilians y the Ukrainian forces, just as they cannot report honestly on the murder of Syrian civilians by terrorists they call “rebels”. It is a rare case when a corporate journalist is allowed to report honestly on such things. There is an editorial line they must follow, and that line coincides with the ambitions of the US and allies. So Russia must be constantly vilified, and the crimes of the West’s proxies on the ground must be whitewashed [Related: How the Mainstream Media Whitewashed Al-Qaeda and the White Helmets in Syria].


VM: – The topic of Crimea in Western media is always shown as something bad. Why so? Why does no one want to take into account the opinions of people living in Crimea?If not for the British journalist Graham Phillips, who interviews these people and shows the truth to the whole world, no one in the West would know the truth about Crimea. Does not the Western propaganda understand that the truth always comes out, especially when everyone has YouTube and the opportunity to read independent journalists?

EB: -This again falls back to the West’s need to vilify everything to do with Russia. All logic is put aside. Just as the media ignore the will of people in Crimea, they also ignore the will of the millions of Syrians living in government secured areas, most of whom do not support the fake ‘revolution’. [Related: Western media ignoring reality on the ground in Syria]

If Western media gave a platforms to these voices, it would be apparent that its America, Canada, the UK, France, etc who have been supporting terrorism, who have been outright lying about events pertaining to Russia and Syria (and Venezuela, Iran…). By the way, I plan to go to Crimea and do my best to share what people living there have to say about their lives.

VM: -Russia’s help in Syria and its huge contribution to the victory over international terrorists in the Western media is being always diminished. Peaceful people are grateful to Russia for the help, they respect Assad and his wife. Russia sends constant humanitarian assistance to this country. Natalia Poklonskaya, the deputy from Crimea, comes to Syria and takes the children for the rest and recovery in the Crimea. But this doe not seem to be interesting for the Western media. Is it because Russia should be always bad in the eyes of the Western propaganda?

EB: -Short answer: yes.

However, I do try to enlighten readers about these facts. In fact, at the start of this year, I decided we independent journalists need to be more bold in showing the truth about, for example, how Syrians feel about their president [Related: 2019 is the year of proudly thanking President Assad for his steadfastness when nearly the entire world was against Syria].

Or for example the sacrifices of the Syrian Arab Army and allies.

I have tried to get interviews with the Russian Centre for Reconciliation in Syria, in order to highlight statistics on reconstruction, reconciliation, returned refugees… However, until now, I haven’t been granted an interview.

I was however able to interview the head of the political division of the Syrian Arab Army [A Syrian Leader Tells His Country’s Story: An Interview with SAA General Hassan Hassan].

I would like to note, also, the hypocrisy of some Western journalists: If for example they had the opportunity to meet and interview former President Obama, or Hillary Clinton, I’m sure they would be applauded. But in reality, those are just two of the West’s war criminals, with the blood of countless civilians on their hands.

VM: -In the situation with Venezuela, Western governments got to the direct intervention in the internal affairs of the country and declared a guy from the street as the Venezuelan President. In the end, this guy never got any power. Maduro is still the President of the country. Do Western leaders feel fooled about it?

EB: -Western leaders know that Maduro was freely and fairly elected, just as President Assad was [Related: Syrians Flock to Vote in Lebanon]. Unfortunately, Western leaders don’t care much for the truth.
When I was in Venezuela, I spoke with average citizens, including in the poorest areas. They didn’t support Guaido, and they could articulate very clearly why they support Maduro.

VM: – Please, describe briefly what is really happening in Gaza now. How do people live there, is there any Western intervention?

EB: – Sure. I lived in Gaza for a cumulative 3 years, from November 2008 to June 2010, and then mid 2011 off and on until March 2013. I was only able to enter by sea, sailing from Cyprus, and by the Egyptian border crossing, not via Israel (I was deported from occupied Palestine by Israeli authorities in 2007).

Israel has manufactured a crisis in Gaza that does not need to exist. Israel has cut off Palestinians’ ability to be self-sufficient, to work, to export. Israeli soldiers on a daily basis target with live ammunition (or shelling) Palestinian farmers, people living or working in the border regions, and fishers. I used to accompany farmers on their land, and when the Israeli soldiers started firing with live ammunition I and other volunteers would document, often with bullets flying past our bodies/heads. All of this is summarized, with many links to individual accounts, in an article I wrote some years ago: Observations from Occupied Palestine: Gaza.

Israel destroyed the power station in 2006 and hasn’t allowed Palestinians to import the material to properly rebuild. When I lived in Gaza, power was off for on average 18-20 hours a day, for years.

This affects all aspects of life.

Palestinians have to pump sewage into the sea because they can’t adequately contain and treat it.

Fishers limited to less than 6 km off the coast end up fishing in water polluted by sewage.
Israel has created a multi-layered hell in Gaza, from which Palestinians cannot escape. And on top of this, every so often Israel wages a war on Gaza.

I was there during the 2008/9 war, riding in ambulances in the most hard-hit areas, documenting the war crimes and taking testimonies. These include point-blank assassinations of children and using White Phosphorous on civilians. [For links related to these points, see: Interview on Last American Vagabond: Rukban Camp (Syria) & Gaza]

VM: -How can we overcome this atmosphere of mistrust between Russia and the West? Russian people feel that the West always tries to interfere in our internal affairs. Maybe it’s time for the Western governments to deal with their own problems and not to meddle in the affairs of Russia?

EB: -I wish that Western leaders would listen to such wise advice–and people in the West should wish that too. How much money is wasted on wars that could be spent on the growing population of poor and desperately poor in the West.


VM: -Do you think that independent journalists around the world will be able to bring the truth to the people in order to reconcile all of us?

EB: – I think there is a growing mistrust of establishment media, after all of the regime-change wars the West has made, the media has had a bloody role in these wars and more people are becoming aware of this. However, the flip side is that censorship is becoming endemic on all social media platforms, specifically to silence independent and honest voices.
 
6
Iran summons British envoy for 'illegal seizure' of an Iranian oil tanker - TV

Reuters

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran summoned the British ambassador in Tehran over the “illegal seizure” of an Iranian oil tanker in Gibraltar on Thursday, Iranian state TV quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi as saying.

British Royal Marines seized an oil tanker in Gibraltar on Thursday accused of bringing oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions, a dramatic step that could escalate confrontation between the West and Iran.

Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Toby Chopra
7
News Items / Britain’s warmongering media in the spotlight
« Last post by nestopwar on June 23, 2019, 05:53:01 PM »

Britain’s warmongering media in the spotlight
Sun Jun 23, 2019 03:27PM [Updated: Sun Jun 23, 2019 03:33PM ]  Press TV

The recent suspicious attacks on tankers in the Persian Gulf have touched off a flurry of speculation in the international media as to the identity and motives of the saboteurs.

While much of the international press is agnostic on the central question as to who could be responsible, the British media stands out in its near-unanimous chorus of deflecting blame onto Iran. In fact, in this regard, the British media has out-performed their American cousins in assigning blame onto Iran as part of a broader demonization strategy.     

What is most striking about this British media strategy is the extent to which it mirrors the British government’s position. The UK government staked out an extreme position in the immediate aftermath of the 13th June attacks on the Front Altair and the Kokuka Courageous in the Gulf of Oman by pointing the finger of blame at Iran.

This approach was exemplified by British foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt’s bold assertion that he was “almost certain” Iran was behind the attacks. Hunt – with the British media in lockstep – had staked out an identical position in respect to a similarly suspicious attack last month on four tankers off the United Arab Emirates’ coast.

Predictably, the British media has adopted a sensationalist approach toward last Thursday’s downing of the US drone which had violated Iranian air space. Almost without exception the press and the broadcasters dutifully stuck to the false American position that the drone had been shot down in international airspace.

Worse than that, the British press immediately indulged in warmongering, as exemplified by the apparently pro-war position of the tabloid newspaper the Daily Express. Britain’s main tabloid newspaper, the Sun, chose to fan the flames of mutual suspicion and impending doom in its 21st June edition by misreporting a defensive missile show in a village near Tehran. The Sun’s sensationalist reporting completely distorts the spirit of the defensive manoeuvre by making it appear as though Iran is preparing to strike key political targets in the US and Israel whilst simultaneously chanting “Death to England”.

Even supposedly more responsible newspapers, such as the Times, the Daily Telegraph and broadcasters, such as the BBC and Sky News have not only indulged in misreporting – by reflexively relaying the American version of events – but moreover they have consciously tried to create the impression that the US and Iran are edging toward war.

This is despite the fact that the political and military leaderships of both Iran and the USA have explicitly stated their desire to avoid a direct military clash, let alone a major war. So why is the British media trying to whip up a frenzy about a potential war against the wishes of the central protagonists?

At this juncture it is worthwhile examining the British media’s historical role in warmongering and whipping up tensions with a view to satisfying British foreign policy objectives.

The state broadcaster, the British Broadcasting Corporation, came of age during the Second World War, when it was effectively the central arm of the British state’s wartime propaganda apparatus. Based on this tradition, the BBC, in tandem with the broader media establishment, has sought to justify British foreign policy adventures, primarily by way of whipping up tensions and demonising Britain’s opponents.

This media-government partnership was very prominent during the Falklands conflict of 1982 when the British media fully fell behind then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s military intervention to take back the disputed islands from Argentina.

But arguably the best example was in the run-up to the first Persian Gulf War in early 1991 when Britain and America were trying to mobilise an international coalition against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

At that time the British media helped the government perform an awkward about-turn in foreign policy by justifying the reversal of support for Saddam Hussein. This was a delicate public relations exercise which was central to mobilising national and international support for the British government’s position.

Fast forward nearly 30 years and it is legitimate to ask if the British media is trying to sell a war with Iran by whipping up tensions and engaging in widespread scaremongering. In these highly delicate situations, when even the slightest miscalculation can have exorbitant costs, altering perceptions can quickly change the reality on the ground.

Thus, for instance, by attributing blame to Iran in respect of the suspicious attack on the tankers, and misrepresenting the facts in relation to the downed US drone, the British media runs the risk of fanning the flames of conflict and helping to produce a war by altering the perceptions of the protagonists and their constituencies.

As the UK foreign office minister Andrew Murrison visits Tehran today, ostensibly on a mission to de-escalate regional tensions, the British media would do well to at least temporarily cease their warmongering, if only to save the minister from embarrassment.           
8
For Your Information / The Gulf of Credibility
« Last post by nestopwar on June 14, 2019, 07:47:14 PM »

The Gulf of Credibility 146

Craig Murray

14 Jun, 2019  in Uncategorized by craig | View Comments

I really cannot begin to fathom how stupid you would have to be to believe that Iran would attack a Japanese oil tanker at the very moment that the Japanese Prime Minister was sitting down to friendly, US-disapproved talks in Tehran on economic cooperation that can help Iran survive the effects of US economic sanctions.

The Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous was holed above the water line. That rules out a torpedo attack, which is the explanation being touted by the neo-cons.

The second vessel, the Front Altair, is Norwegian owned and 50% Russian crewed (the others being Filipinos). It is owned by Frontline, a massive tanker leasing company that also has a specific record of being helpful to Iran in continuing to ship oil despite sanctions.

It was Iran that rescued the crews and helped bring the damaged vessels under control.

That Iran would target a Japanese ship and a friendly Russian crewed ship is a ludicrous allegation. They are however very much the targets that the USA allies in the region – the Saudis, their Gulf Cooperation Council colleagues, and Israel – would target for a false flag. It is worth noting that John Bolton was meeting with United Arab Emirates ministers two weeks ago – both ships had just left the UAE.

The USA and their UK stooges have both immediately leapt in to blame Iran. The media is amplifying this with almost none of the scepticism which is required. I cannot think of a single reason why anybody would believe this particular false flag. It is notable that neither Norway nor Japan has joined in with this ridiculous assertion.

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9
For Your Information / D-Day More Drama Than Decisive in World War II Victory
« Last post by nestopwar on June 14, 2019, 11:01:07 AM »

   D-Day More Drama Than Decisive in World War II Victory
Finian Cunningham, Strategic Culture Foundation

June 6, 2019


   Stealing the laurels of victory was a necessary act of treachery by the Western powers in order to facilitate their Cold War against the Soviet Union. The same treachery continues today as Washington and its NATO allies try to wage a new Cold War against Russia.

US President Donald Trump called it the "greatest battle ever" while attending a 75th anniversary ceremony this week to mark the Western allied invasion of Nazi-occupied France.

Trump was joined by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and leaders from 15 other nations in the British harbor city of Portsmouth from where allied troops embarked for the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944.

Looking back, Operation Overlord was indeed a huge military and logistical undertaking. Some 150,000 troops from the US, Britain and Canada, among others, crossed the narrow English Channel in 7,000 vessels. It is recorded as the biggest military land invasion from sea.

Allied forces were met by Nazi firepower as they stormed the Normandy beaches. But in truth the Nazi defenses were easily overwhelmed. That's largely because Hitler had already shifted the best fighting units months before to the Eastern Front where the Third Reich was really in a war for its survival against the Soviet Red Army. The D-Day casualty figures would attest that American, British and German deaths from the brief battles in Normandy were of the order of 10,000. Meanwhile, on the Eastern Front the casualties on both the German and Soviet sides were hundred-fold more, in the millions.

When the D-Day invasion was launched in June 1944, the pivotal battle at Stalingrad was long over, 16 months before that. The Wehrmacht was already being rolled back to German homeland. Some 90 per cent of all German military casualties – nearly six million soldier deaths – were to be inflicted on the Eastern Front fighting the Red Army.

The question remains: why did Western allies not launch their offensive on Nazi-occupied France much sooner? Soviet leader Josef Stalin had pleaded over the previous year with his American and British counterparts to do so on several occasions in order to relieve the Soviets. Did the Western allies finally act on D-Day because they could see that the Red Army was on the way to conquering all of Nazi Germany singlehandedly, and thus were motivated to claw some of the spoils? It was the Red Army that vanquished the Third Reich's last stand in Berlin in May 1945. But the Soviet Union entered into a postwar carve-up of Germany with the US and Britain.

So, when President Trump talks about D-Day being the "greatest battle ever" he is being prone to unfounded exaggeration, relying on Hollywood fabulation than historical record.

There is little dispute that the opening of the Western Front did indeed help accelerate the final defeat of Nazi Germany. But it also indisputable that the greatest battles and decisive victories were achieved by the Soviet forces for the liberation of Europe from Nazi tyranny.

What we see in today's celebration of the 75th anniversary of D-Day is more dramatics than actual historical reality. Official Western conceit pretends that that event was the key to defeating Nazi Germany.

Part of the reason is to arrogate a moral authority for Western states, which is hardly deserved. By claiming to have emancipated Europe from the scourge of totalitarian fascism, Western states are thereby given a political and moral cover to conduct their own otherwise blatant policies of aggression and militarism.

How many illegal wars and subterfuges have the US and its NATO allies, particularly Britain, carried out since the end of the Second World War? Some historians like the late William Blum, author of ‘Killing Hope', or Mark Curtis, author of ‘Web of Deceit', put the number in the hundreds. These genocidal, supreme crimes of aggression, are afforded an audacious moral license largely because these same aggressors continually invoke their supposed victory against Nazi Germany. The truth is that the US and its NATO allies have in many ways continued the same aggression of Nazi Germany in countless wars and covert operations around the world over the past seven decades. The genocides in Korea, Kenya, Malaya, Indonesia, Vietnam, Chile, Central America, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, are just a few among many other US-UK atrocities.

The present looming conflicts involve the US threatening war and destruction against Iran and Venezuela based on transparently spurious pretexts. And yet Trump has the brass neck to eulogize during the D-Day commemorations this week about American forces standing up for "freedom and liberty".

The US and its NATO allies are using the past and its presumed glories as a shield for their own criminal imperialism.

Dramatizing D-Day as an event is also crucial for the discrediting and demonizing of Russia, as it was previously with regard to the Soviet Union. Wouldn't it have been appropriate to invite Russian leader Vladimir Putin to the D-Day events this week in order to pay respect to the colossal sacrifices of the Soviet people in defeating Nazi Germany?
10
For Your Information / UK's position on the Golan Heights has not changed
« Last post by nestopwar on April 03, 2019, 09:13:21 PM »
UK's position on the Golan Heights has not changed
 Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Karen Pierce DCMG 
27 March 2019


 (Transcript of the speech, exactly as it was delivered)

Statement by Ambassador Karen Pierce, UK Permanent Representative to UN, at the Security Council Briefing on UNDOF/Golan Heights

Thank you Madam President and thank you to the two Under-Secretaries-General for your helpful briefings.

Madam President, I'd like to structure my remarks around six headings:

The UK position on the Golan; UN Security Council Resolutions; What this means for the international order; Israel's right to security; The Middle East Peace Process; and UNDOF.

On the first point, the United Kingdom's position has not changed Madam President. It is our position that the Golan Heights is territory occupied by Israel.

The turbulent history of the region is of course well-known. Following the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel took control of the Golan, including the disputed Sheba'a Farms, and in 1981 took the decision to annex the territory. The United Kingdom did not recognise that annexation and nor do we today.

Annexation of territory by force is prohibited under international law, including the UN Charter. In addition, under the Law of State Responsibility, states are obliged not recognise the annexation of territory as a result of force.

Turning to the UN Security Council Resolutions; it is important, Madam President, that we uphold the relevant UN Security Resolutions. Security Council Resolution 242 - which the then British delegation had the honour to pen - was adopted unanimously by the UN Security Council on November 22, 1967. British sponsored, it called on all parties to end territorial claims, acknowledge the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every state in the area and for "the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict".

We recall, Madame President, that Security Council Resolution 497, adopted unanimously on 17 December 1981, decided that the Israeli Golan Heights Law, which effectively annexed the Golan Heights, is "null and void and without international legal effect" and it further demanded that Israel rescind its action.

The decision by the United States to recognise Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights is in contravention of UN Security Council Resolution 497.

In terms of international order, Madame President, the United Kingdom firmly believes that the rules based international system has increased states' ability to resolve their differences peacefully, and it has provided a framework for the greatest sustained rise in prosperity which mankind has seen. This is why the United Kingdom thinks we should work hard with our international partners to nurture and protect these rules.

Madame President, the right to self defence is inherent. Israel has a right to defend itself. She has a right to security and her people has a right to live in safety. We do not wish to diminish Israel's genuine security concerns. We fully support her right to defend herself and urge, the Asad Regime, Iran and Hizbollah to refrain from actions which will only lead to increased instability in the region as well as put civilians at risk. As the US Representative has noted, Syria has allowed the use of its territory to launch missiles at Israel and at Israeli civilians. This is not acceptable. But at the same time Madame President, we emphasise importance of adhering to rules-based international system and abiding by UNSCRs which are designed to protect that system. And this is true irrespective of the importance of the Golan is to Israel's security, or of the lack of progress in peace talks.

Turning to the peace talks; Resolution 242 enshrined the concept of land for peace and this has proven successful in ending the conflict between Israel, Jordan and Egypt. We believe it remains a basic principle for resolving peace between Israel, the Palestinians and other neighbours.

I want to emphasise, Madame President, that we strongly welcome the US's efforts on the Middle East Peace Process and we encourage the US Administration to bring forward detailed proposals for a viable Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement that addresses the legitimate concerns of both parties. We continue to believe that the best way to achieve this is through substantive peace talks between the parties leading to a two-state solution.

Finally, Madame President, turning to UNDOF; the United Kingdom expresses its strong support for UNDOF. It should be the only armed forces active in the area of separation. The presence and activity of any other armed forces, armed personnel and/or military equipment of any kind in the area of separation contravenes the Disengagement of Forces Agreement and Security Council Resolution 2394 of 2017. The United Kingdom remains committed to supporting UNDOF's mandate and we look forward to engaging in discussions regarding its renewal in June.

Thank you Madam President.

 
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