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Sunday, May 20, 2018

Messianic U.S.-Israel Axis Showcased at Jerusalem Embassy Ceremony Is Gut-punch for Most American Jews

Chemi Shalev — Haaretz May 15, 2018
The stark contrast that played out on split screens throughout the world Monday, between the Israeli celebration in Jerusalem and the Palestinian casualties in Gaza, was worthy of Charles Dickens’ immortal opening to “A Tale of Two Cities:” “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
Whether one accepts the Palestinian narrative of hungry masses demonstrating for dignity or the Israeli version of a cynical exploitation of human lives as cover for homicidal intent, there is no doubt that the scores of dead and many hundreds of wounded on the Gaza border spoiled Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump’s extravaganza. The more the casualties in Gaza mounted, the more those assembled at the site of the new American embassy in Jerusalem seemed arrogant, detached and mainly devoid of compassion. As more and more reports and tweets came in about the mounting casualties in Gaza’s day of bloodshed, the worst since the 2014 Protective Edge operation, the more the claim that the embassy move could actually help achieve peace seemed both cynical and ridiculous.
The knockout to Israel’s image was built-in in the script. When a modern, sophisticated and armed-to-the-teeth army confronts unarmed masses sporting kites and stones, the propaganda debacle is inevitable. Even the best hasbara points – sorely lacking in this case, except for domestic consumption – cannot contend with so many killed and wounded. Hamas recruited the embassy ceremony as a catalyzer for its Nakba campaign, which could escalate in the coming days, and exploited the international media’s coverage of the Jerusalem ceremony to its own ends. But while Israelis told themselves that they’re dealing with a terrorist organization that is callous to the lives of its own people and rules over a territory that Israel supposedly withdrew from, international public opinion could only see strong versus weak, occupier against occupied, a heartless state confronting despair and desperation.
At the same time, the makeup and participants in the Israeli-American Jerusalem hoopla made clear – if there were any doubts – that Netanyahu and his colleagues couldn’t care less these days about international public opinion. Israel has only one king, and his name is Donald Trump. He is Israel’s salvation and his word – or at least his benefactor Sheldon Adelson’s – is the bond that fuses Jerusalem and Washington together. The participation of pastors John Hagee and Robert Jeffress in the ceremony accentuated this new axis of fundamentalist, messianic End-Times-adoring elements that increasingly dominate ties between the two countries. Hagee once described Adolf Hitler as God’s hunter and Jeffress consigned unrepentant Jews to hell, but in the era of Trump-Netanyahu, old-style aversion to Jews is cast aside for the sake of unqualified support for Israel’s rejectionist, settler-dominated agenda. A shared hostility to Islam, which Jeffress once depicted as a religion of paedophiles, underpins the ties that bind the two countries together.
In this regard, the ceremony also marked the demise of bipartisan support for Israel and even dispelled the notion that anyone really cares. The U.S. delegation didn’t include even one Democratic legislator – an absence that spoke volumes. And even though most Israeli opposition leaders came to the ceremony, out of true conviction or fear of public opinion, Meretz leader Tamar Zandberg was right to stay at home. A genuine, peace-loving leftist, even one who supports the embassy move in principle, shouldn’t be seen in the nationalistic-messianic forum that convened in Jerusalem under the guidance and orchestration of left-loathing U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.
For most American Jews, especially those who still see themselves as supporters of Israel, the ceremony was nothing less than a punch in the gut. Not only do they consider Hagee and Jeffress beyond the pale, but the tumultuous standing ovation that preceded Trump’s videotaped greetings highlighted the growing schism between Israel and the largest Jewish Diaspora. For American liberals, Jews and non-Jews alike, there is no more incriminating evidence of their distance from Netanyahu’s Israel and its steady veer toward the rabid right than Israel’s adoring embrace of a president who is seen as a clear and present threat to the enlightened values they cherish.
All of this probably doesn’t bother Netanyahu at all. The Israeli prime minister is riding an unprecedented wave of public support for what is seen as his unstoppable stream of successes, from Trump’s decision to abandon the Iran nuclear deal all the way to singer Netta Barzilai’s victory in Saturday’s Eurovision contest. Netanyahu has chosen to put all of Israel’s chips on a U.S. president whose foreign policy, according to Monday’s Washington Post, is based on a principle of “buy now – pay later.” Trump is already a hero for unilaterally reneging on the nuclear accord, despite the immediate damage to the trans-Atlantic alliance and the still-unknown repercussions and ramifications of his decision. On Monday he was anointed “King of Mercies” by Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef – who recently compared black people to monkeys – even though the consequences of his decision to move the embassy, including the smothering of faint hopes for peace and the threat of a third intifada, will only become known in the coming weeks and months.
In the meantime, Israelis rejoice and Palestinians remain despondent.  Only time will tell, as the cliche goes, whether the “historic day” so joyfully pronounced in Jerusalem on Monday heralds the arrival of a spring of hope or a winter of despair, or, as only the Middle East can sustain, of both together.

Salehi: Iran to Remain Committed to Its Promises if EU Can Keep JCPOA Alive

19-05-2018 | 15:13
Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi said the Islamic Republic is more powerful than any time and cannot be easily pressured in the face of US plans to re-impose sanctions on the country.
Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi
“Iran’s authority and position are such that it cannot be easily pushed around. Today, Iran is in a more powerful position than the past,” Salehi told a joint press conference with EU Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete in Tehran Saturday,
Canete is in Tehran to reassure Iran that the European Union remains committed to salvaging a nuclear deal with Tehran despite US President Donald Trump’s decision to exit the accord and reimpose sanctions on the country.
“We have sent a message to our Iranian friends that as long as they are sticking to the agreement, the Europeans will… fulfill their commitment,” he said, adding the bloc hoped to boost trade with Iran.
Salehi said Iran hopes the European Union will fulfill its pledges “in the near future” after the bloc launched “the blocking statute” process on Friday to protect Europeans from US sanctions on Iran.
“However, until these promises are not implemented and put into practice, we could not speak firmly,” he said. “We hope that in the near future, we could witness the materialization of these pledges.”
Otherwise, “the Iranian nation should rest assured that we will press ahead on the path of progress with strength and firmness without any worries and there will be no serious problems even though there might be some disruptions which may slow down the pace but they cannot stop us,” Salehi added.
The European Union, he said, had made proposals and taken initial steps toward using the euro in dealings with the Islamic Republic.
Salehi also described US exit from the Iran nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as a foolish move.
Trump announced US withdrawal from the JCPOA on May 8 and vowed to reinstate US nuclear sanctions on Iran and impose “the highest level” of economic bans on the Islamic Republic.
Tehran has said it would make a decision on its future role in the nuclear agreement in the coming weeks following negotiations with the other signatories of the deal.
EU powers have scrambled to save the JCPOA and protect their businesses in Iran against the US sanctions.
Salehi said EU efforts to preserve the nuclear pact shows that “the JCPOA is a very important agreement in line with our national interests and regional interest as well as those of the international community.”
Iran’s nuclear chief further stressed that the US pullout of the JCPOA shows “the correct impression of senior government officials that the US cannot be trusted.”
Now the whole international community has come to the understanding that “the US is not a reliable and trustworthy country in international dealings,” he added.
Canete, for his part, said that preserving the nuclear deal, despite the US withdrawal, was “fundamental for peace in the region.”
“For sure there are clear difficulties with the sanctions,” the EU official said. “We will have to ask for waivers, for carve outs for the companies that make investments.”
Canete is due to meet Iran’s Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zanganeh and head of the Department of Environment Isa Kalantari later on Saturday, and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Sunday.
Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

The Palestinian context will rule the region, so be patient السياق الفلسطيني سيحكم المنطقة فانتظروا

مايو 16, 2018

ناصر قنديل

– الذين يتوقعون أنّ المواجهة التي افتتحها الشعب الفلسطيني بلا أفق وأنّ التضحيات السخية التي يقدّمها مجانية لا ينتبه إلى الحقيقة التي تقولها روحية اليومين الماضيين بقوة، وهي أنّ الأميركي والإسرائيلي يصلان منهكين عابسين قلقين بلا أفق مفتوح أمامهما، رغم الحشد العربي الذليل المصطفّ خلفهما والملفات المعقدة تسدّ طريقهما على كلّ مساحة المنطقة، بينما يحشد الشعب الفلسطيني كلّ حيويته كأنه في اليوم الأول للمواجهة وليس في عامها السبعين.

– الانعطاف المتطرّف للإدارة الأميركية كان مقرّراً منذ زمن، لكنه مشروط بلحظة انتصار أميركي إسرائيلي خليجي في لبنان وسورية واليمن والعراق وإيران ووضع مفكّك وضائع ومكسور يصير فيه تسويق صفقة القرن كأفضل الممكن، ولكن الاتجاه إليها الآن يجري يأساً من تغيير المعادلات واضطراراً لكشف المستور فتسقط لغة التفاوض وتسقط معها فرص التسويات، ويصير جلب عرب أميركا إلى بيت الطاعة الإسرائيلي بقوة بحثهم عن حماية عروشهم المهدّدة رغم ظاهر البطش والاستبداد وما يوحي به من القوة. وهذا يعني عملياً سقوط خيار التفاوض الذي جمّد خيار المقاومة لعقود بوهم التسوية المفترضة التي ما عادت مطروحة على جدول الأعمال اليوم. ومع هذا السقوط تعود فلسطين لخيار المواجهة، لتسقط أهمّ ما يظنّ الأميركي والإسرائيلي والخليجي أنها إنجازات العقد الأخير، لجهة التفتيت المذهبي والتلاعب بالهوية، لتصير الاصطفافات مجدداً تحت عنوان مَن مع فلسطين ومَن مع «إسرائيل»؟

– المستهدَف كان جمهور العرب الذي يظنّ حكام الخليج ومِن خلفهم أميركا و«إسرائيل» والكتبة المستلحقون بهم، أنّ عملية غسل الدماغ التي تمّت له قد أدّت نتائجها بتحويله كتلاً مذهبية عصبية نسيت فلسطين، منذ الربيع العربي، لكنهم يستعجلون، فالتأني بالقراءة لما قالته الانتخابات في لبنان، يوصل لنتيجة معاكسة. لقد زالت الغيمة السوداء التي عبثت بمزاج السنّة العرب تحت عنوان المذهبية، وها هو رمز التطرّف فيها لبنانياً يفشل بحجز مقعده الشخصي بعدما حصد قبل عامين كلّ مقاعد بلدية طرابلس، ومَن غادروا خيار تيار المستقبل، لم يذهبوا للتطرف بل عادوا للخيار القومي العربي المتحالف مع المقاومة وسورية من صيدا وما يمثل أسامة سعد إلى البقاع الغربي وما يمثل عبد الرحيم مراد وصولاً إلى طرابلس وما يمثل فيصل كرامي وجهاد الصمد وانتهاء ببيروت وما تمثل جمعية المشاريع الإسلامية.

– قبل الحديث عن لحظة تحوّل مقبلة ولو بعد حين للمواجهة إلى انتفاضة شاملة لكلّ فلسطين أو عن دخول المقاومة المسلحة على خطها سيحضر الشتات الفلسطيني وبقوة على خط المواجهة الشعبية، وسنشهد من لبنان والأردن وسورية ومصر حشوداً عربية إسلامية تلاقي الفلسطينيين، وسنشهد من خلف البحار حشوداً في البحر تركب سفن العودة وتعتصم في مياه فلسطين تواجه قنابل الغاز والرصاص ومعها أحرار من العالم وإعلام حر يواكبها، والموقف الحكومي في عدد من بلدان أوروبا خير شاهد على التحوّل الذي تحدثه فلسطين في الرأي العام الغربي، بعكس ما ترغب أميركا و«إسرائيل».

– «إسرائيل» رغم الدعم الأميركي والخليجي تتهيّب حرباً على غزة، فكيف عندما تصير حدودها مع لبنان وسورية والأردن ولاحقاً مصر خطوط مواجهة يحتشد عليها عشرات ومئات الآلاف من الفلسطينيين وغير الفلسطينيين يزداد عديدهم وترتقي نوعية مواجهتهم يوماً بعد يوم؟ وماذا عساها تفعل وهي تعلم أنّ طريق الحرب مقفلة بقوة موازين الردع الثابتة والمتعاظمة؟

– المأزق الإسرائيلي الأميركي الخليجي هو أنّ الصراع في فلسطين وحولها سيطغى على ما عداه في المنطقة والعالم، وأنّ التعايش مع استحقاقاته يعني التآكل في قوة هذا المثلث الأسود، وحيث الذهاب للحرب يعني الكارثة، بينما معسكر المقاومة مدد للمواجهة في صيغتها الحالية المتنامية وجهوزية لحرب قد تصير استحقاقاً مقبلاً.

– هذا معنى قول الأمين العام لحزب الله السيد حسن نصرالله قبل شهور، تكاد الحروب تنتهي في المنطقة، وسنعود إلى الأولوية التي لم نغادرها يوماً، والأولوية دائماً هي فلسطين.

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Palestine will remain the priority in spite of them فلسطين إلى الواجهة رغم أنوفهم

» Palestine will remain the priority in spite of them  

مايو 18, 2018
Written by Nasser Kandil,
The dispute between America and Iran is summarized in Palestine as the transferring of the US embassy to Jerusalem. The American war which aims at achieving profits has been lost in Syria, but the war of preventing losses continues. The loss which America fears is the growing of the resistance axis due to the victory of Syria and the threat which it represents to Israel’s security. The incitement against the nuclear understanding in order to put it into circulation starts and ends with accusing Iran of employing the moral and material revenues of its understanding in granting more support to the resistance forces. The cause is Palestine. The recognition of Jerusalem as a capital of Israel is related directly to the moral support of the Israelis who are afraid from the variables around them, and in order to show publicly the Arab infidelities to Palestine by saying to the Israelis “despite the losses you are not alone, your new allies; the Gulf rulers are professing of being allied with you, so do not worry”.
The Israelis test their fear with the American reassuring messages, they feel happy towards the American threats to Syria but their optimism was dispersed once they saw that the consequences of the aggression led by Washington were zero. They applauded for the American withdrawal from the nuclear understanding with Iran and celebrated this new stage through targeting Syria with their aircraft, but the result is new deterrence equations. They celebrate the transferring of the US Embassy to Jerusalem, the settlers go out to the courtyard of Aqsa Mosque celebrating and feeling happy with the Arab participation and the statements which support their aggression on Syria, but they discover that their new allies have only statements.
After the celebrations ended and after Washington paid the bills of its promises, the question now is what is next. Everything proves that Palestine which they wanted to remove from history and geography comes back strongly with the blood of its people. The Palestinians have to react now and the Israelis have to ask their new allies about what can they offer for the deal of the century to become a fact and about the Palestinian partner who is capable of signing the waiver of Jerusalem. They have to ask them whether if they will participate in offering blood in the coming confrontations and to what extent they can overlook the coming Palestinian days without retreating.
Palestine is deciding the agenda of the region not Israel despite the American decisions which formed the maximum of what can be offered at once. By the end of the American gifts Israel has to show its ability in one of three aspects; a crucial war that changes the equations, an important Palestinian partner in a compromise to announce the end of the confrontations, and the ability to bear a long war of attrition on all fronts, while the Palestinians away from the confusion of many of their leaderships have decided to confront whatever the cost is, with the determination of the first round without fatigue or considerations, since time is the ally of those who stick to their right making strength out of weakness.
Palestine is the priority in spite of them. Neither Trump’s decision, nor the Gulf rulers ‘ money and nor Israel’s brutality and oppression are valid elements to write the history that was started with a blood of child martyr. The fifteenth of May will remain the remembrance of the usurping of Palestine not a festival for the birth of Israel at all.
Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

فلسطين إلى الواجهة رغم أنوفهم 

مايو 14, 2018

ناصر قنديل

– قضية أميركا مع إيران تُختصر بفلسطين ومثلها نقل السفارة الأميركية إلى القدس. فالحرب الأميركية الهادفة لتحقيق الأرباح سقطت منذ زمن في سورية، وتستمرّ حرب منع الخسائر، والخسارة التي تخشاها أميركا هي تعاظم محور المقاومة بنصر سورية والخطر الذي يمثله على أمن «إسرائيل»، وكل التحريض على التفاهم النووي تمهيداً لطرحه في التداول يبدأ وينتهي باتهام إيران بتوظيف عائداتها المعنوية والمادية من التفاهم لتقديم مزيد من الدعم لقوى المقاومة، والقضية هي فلسطين، والانتقال لخطوة من نوع الاعتراف بالقدس عاصمة لـ»إسرائيل» يرتبط مباشرة بالدعم المعنوي للإسرائيليين القلقين والمذعورين من المتغيرات من حولهم، ولتظهير الخيانات العربية لفلسطين علناً بلا مراعاة، للقول للإسرائيليين، رغم الخسائر لستم وحدكم. فها هم حلفاؤكم الجدد حكام الخليج يجاهرون بحلفكم فلا تخافوا.

– يختبر الإسرائيليون خوفهم مع رسائل التطمين الأميركية، مع كل جديد، فيرون التهديدات الأميركية لسورية ويفرحون وإذ تأتيهم التفاصيل عن العدوان الذي قادته واشنطن فيضطرون لتبديد تفاؤلهم، والقول إن النتائج كانت صفراً، ثم يأتيهم الانسحاب الأميركي من التفاهم النووي مع إيران فيصفّقون، ويخرجون للاحتفال بتدشين المرحلة الجديدة بطائراتهم في استهداف سورية، فتكون النتيجة وبالاً ومعادلات ردع جديدة، ثم يأتي احتفال انتقال السفارة الأميركية إلى القدس ويخرج المستوطنون إلى باحات المسجد الأقصى، ويفرح الإسرائيليون بالمشاركة العربية، والبيانات التي أيّدت عدوانهم على سورية، فيكتشفون أن ما لدى حلفائهم الجدد ليس أكثر من البيانات.

– أما وقد انتهت مواسم الاحتفالات، والانتظارات بعدما سدّدت واشنطن فواتير وعودها، فالسؤال ماذا عن الغد؟ وكل شيء يقول إن فلسطين التي أرادوا شطبها من التاريخ والجغرافيا تعود بدماء أبنائها للحضور، وبقوة، ومن اليوم سيكون الدور للفلسطينيين ليصيغوا هم الخبر، وعلى الإسرائيليين أن يسألوا حلفاءهم الجدد عما يمكنهم تقديمه لتصير صفقة القرن حقيقة، وعن الشريك الفلسطيني القادر على توقيع التنازل عن القدس، ويسألونهم هل سيشاركونهم تقديم الدماء في المواجهات المقبلة، وكم سيستطيعون التغاضي عن الأيام الفلسطينية المقبلة، من دون الاضطرار للانكفاء؟

– فلسطين تتقدّم وتضع جدول أعمال المنطقة، وليس «إسرائيل»، رغم القرارات الأميركية التي شكلت أقصى ما يمكن تقديمه ودفعة واحدة، ومع نهاية الهدايا الأميركية بقي على «إسرائيل» أن تظهر قدرتها على واحد من ثلاثة، حرب حاسمة تغيّر المعادلات، شريك فلسطيني وازن لتسوية تعلن نهاية المواجهات، قدرة على تحمّل حرب استنزاف طويلة على الجبهات كلها، أما الفلسطينيون فقد قرّروا بمعزل عن ارتباك الكثير من قياداتهم، أنهم ماضون إلى المواجهة مهما كان الثمن، وأنهم يدخلون هذه الجولة بعزم الجولة الأولى بلا تعب ولا كلل ولا حسابات، والشهداء زادٌ لا ينضب والزمن حليف الثابتين على حقهم، يصنعون من الضعف قوة.

– فلسطين إلى الواجهة رغم أنوفهم، فلا قرارات ترامب ولا أموال حكام الخليج ولا التوحّش والبطش الإسرائيلي.. عناصر صالحة لكتابة تاريخ يفتتحه دم طفل شهيد، وسيبقى الخامس عشر من أيار ذكرى اغتصاب فلسطين ولن يكون يوماً عيداً لولادة «إسرائيل».

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US arms sent to Al-Qaeda in Syria

U.S. military equipment and ammunition, sent to Syria as part of a failed Obama administration plan to find and arm moderate forces to defeat ISIS, were instead simply handed over to an Al Qaeda group, according to the man who said he himself brokered the deal.
“I communicated with Al Qaeda’s branch, Al Nusra, to protect and safely escort me and my soldiers for two hours from North Aleppo to West Aleppo,” Maj. Anas Ibrahim Obaid, better known on the battlefield as Abu Zayd, told Fox News from his home in the western Aleppo area. “In exchange, I gave them five pickup trucks and ammunition.”

Maj. Anas Ibrahim Obaid, better known on the battlefield as Commander Abu Zayd, admitted to Fox News that he gave US-issued trucks and ammunition to Al Qaeda in Syria.
Those trucks and ammo were issued to him by the United States in 2015, part of a $500 million Department of Defense effort to “train and equip” a new “ideologically moderate” force to battle ISIS. The program, one of at least two designed to funnel arms to so-called moderate Syrian rebels, proved to be a spectacular failure for the Obama administration.
Zayd, who said he defected from the Syrian Army to the opposition in 2012, described a program that was rife with inconsistencies and incompetencies.
He claimed the main prerequisite for inclusion in the program was proof of association with a group that had fought ISIS, the Islamic State. That was followed by a few basic questions, like, “With which faction did you fight?” and “What do you think about ISIS?”
After undergoing training in Turkey, the first batch of 54 trained fighters crossed back to Syria in July 2015 – only to be almost instantly ambushed by Al Nusra militants. Several of the men were kidnapped, and their U.S.-issued weapons were stolen.
Zayd said he was part of a second group to be sent into Syria — this time without proper firepower.
The U.S. trainers “wanted us to go into Syria without weapons because of the ambush, and said we could get the weapons inside instead. This was crazy,” Zayd recalled. “We refused.”
The weapons issue was worked out, and the rebels eventually started their journey back to Syria on Sept. 19. But Turkish border guards found something else in their bags: Syrian regime flags, rather than the flags of the opposition group the fighters were being sent to support.
Zayd said fighters charged back to their base in Turkey, demanding answers. U.S trainers took responsibility for the “flag mistake,” Zayd said, and the following day the rebels continued back to Syria.

Abu Zayd’s ammunition warehouse, believed to hold some American-issued items.
But morale was already a problem, Zayd said, and fighters who were being paid a $250 monthly salary by the Defense Department began defecting. His group of 72 shrank to just 25, he said.
Zayd said he, too, became quickly fed up with the program and planned to return to his hometown in western Aleppo to fight the Syrian regime.
But getting home entailed moving through Al Nusra territory. That’s when he called the Al Qaeda-affiliated leaders and made the arrangement to hand over the five U.S-issued trucks and scores of ammunition, in exchange for free passage and an armed escort home.
“The Americans were so angry when they found out, they cut my salary,” Zayd said nonchalantly. “But this was our only option through their territory to get home without getting killed.”
Zayd said the Pentagon halted the troubled program about a month after his deal with Al Nusra. “I got many messages the Americans do not want to deal with me anymore. But they can’t get their weapons back,” he boasted.

Abu Zayd’s weapons arsenal, in which he claims many of the arms were issued through U.S training programs.  (Fox News)
Over Skype from his living room, Zayd showed off an assortment of M-16 and M-24 sniper rifles, as well as ammo, mortar rounds and machine guns. He claimed most in his arsenal were U.S.-issued, with more in a nearby warehouse.
Sources close to Zayd told Fox News his American-funded goods routinely surface on the black market, and constitute something of a lucrative business. Zayd today remains a commander for the Free Syrian Army.
A second Obama administration program, “Timber Sycamore,” was started by the CIA in late 2012 with the similar aim of arming rebels. This particular operation was active along the Turkish border to Syria’s north, and a Jordanian crossing in the south, referred to as the “Southern Front.”
But Syrian opposition figures say this program was also compromised, with arms falling into the hands of ISIS or Al Nusra.
The program initially supplied light weapons. But as the Syrian civil war intensified, the U.S. strengthened its commitment by providing selected rebels with American “tune-launched, optically tracked, wire-guided” antitank missiles, better known as BGM-71 TOWs.
One opposition group backed by Washington in 2014 to use the TOWs was the FSA group Hazem Movement.
“We became optimistic we could overthrow the regime,” Asem Zidan, 27, formerly a media activist for the FSA’s Hazem, told Fox News. “And the TOW missiles helped us to prevent the regime pushing forward for some time … but it wasn’t enough.”
Zidan said only 10 TOWs at a time were issued, which he said fell well short of what was required to defeat regime forces. And matters only worsened when Al Nusra started to attack and “steal their weapons.”
Another rebel fighter, Suheil Alhamoud, 30, who defected from the Syrian Army in March 2012 — where he was a specialist in missiles – also expressed frustration over what he called insufficient efforts to help.

Suheil Alhamoud, now 30, was trained by the U.S and allied countries as part of the CIA’s clandestine effort to arm Syrian rebels against the Assad regime in 2014.
After a string of several successful attacks against ISIS forces, Alhamoud said that in late November 2014 he received a supply of malfunctioning TOWs, believed to have come from surplus Saudi stockpiles. But despite having a stated range of more than two miles, some missiles would travel no more than 150 feet.
“I suffered a lot because of that,” Alhamoud contended. “And so the regime and the terrorists advanced. We were told more TOWs would come, but it took weeks for them to arrive.”
Alhamoud also conceded that Al Nusra managed to steal a number of TOWs, many of which have since landed on the black market, fetching up to $30,000 apiece.

Gaza killings: Names and faces of those killed by the Jewish terror state forces this week

Middle East Eye | May 15, 2018
Eight-month-old Laila is youngest Palestinian killed in Gaza on Monday, the deadliest day since 2014 war.
From left: Ahmed Alrantisi, Laila Anwar Al-Ghandoor, Ahmed Altetr, Alaa Alkhatib Ezz el-din Alsamaak, Motassem Abu Louley (screengrab)
Sixty-two people were either killed or died of wounds inflicted by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip on Monday and Tuesday as thousands of Palestinians demonstrated across the occupied territory to mark the 70th anniversary of the Nakba.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the Gaza Ministry of Health released the names of 59 Palestinians killed:
1. Laila Anwar Al-Ghandoor, 8 months old
2. Ezz el-din Musa Mohamed Alsamaak, 14 years old
3. Wisaal Fadl Ezzat Alsheikh Khalil, 15 years old
4. Ahmed Adel Musa Alshaer, 16 years old
5. Saeed Mohamed Abu Alkheir, 16 years old
6. Ibrahim Ahmed Alzarqa, 18 years old
7. Eman Ali Sadiq Alsheikh, 19 years old
8. Zayid Mohamed Hasan Omar, 19 years old
9. Motassem Fawzy Abu Louley, 20 years old
10. Anas Hamdan Salim Qadeeh, 21 years old
11. Mohamed Abd Alsalam Harz, 21 years old
From left: Fadi Abu Salah, Motaz Al-Nunu, Jihad Mohammed Othman Mousa, Mousa Jabr Abdulsalam Abu Hasnayn, Ezz Eldeen Nahid Aloyutey, Anas Hamdan Salim Qadeeh
12. Yehia Ismail Rajab Aldaqoor, 22 years old
13. Mustafa Mohamed Samir Mahmoud Almasry, 22 years old
14. Ezz Eldeen Nahid Aloyutey, 23 years old
15. Mahmoud Mustafa Ahmed Assaf, 23 years old
16. Ahmed Fayez Harb Shahadah, 23 years old
17. Ahmed Awad Allah, 24 years old
18. Khalil Ismail Khalil Mansor, 25 years old
19. Mohamed Ashraf Abu Sitta, 26 years old
20. Bilal Ahmed Abu Diqah, 26 years old
21. Ahmed Majed Qaasim Ata Allah, 27 years old
From left: Mahmoud Wael Mahmoud Jundeyah, Ibrahim Ahmed Alzarqa, Musab Yousef Abu Leilah, Jihad Mufid Al-Farra, Saeed Mohamed Abu Alkheir, Mohamed Hasan Mustafa Alabadilah (screengrab)
22. Mahmoud Rabah Abu Maamar, 28 years old
23.Musab Yousef Abu Leilah, 28 years old
24. Ahmed Fawzy Altetr, 28 years old
25. Mohamed Abdelrahman Meqdad, 28 years old
26. Obaidah Salim Farhan, 30 years old
27. Jihad Mufid Al-Farra, 30 years old
28. Fadi Hassan Abu Salah, 30 years old
29. Motaz Bassam Kamil Al-Nunu, 31 years old
30. Mohammed Riyad Abdulrahman Alamudi, 31 years old
31. Jihad Mohammed Othman Mousa, 31 years old
32. Shahir Mahmoud Mohammed Almadhoon, 32 years old
33. Mousa Jabr Abdulsalam Abu Hasnayn, 35 years old
From left: Shahir Mahmoud Mohammed Almadhoon, Khalil Ismail Khalil Mansor, Mahmoud Saber Hamad Abu Taeemah, Mohamed Ashraf Abu Sitta, Mustafa Mohamed Samir Mahmoud Almasry, Obaidah Salim Farhan (screengrab)
34. Mohammed Mahmoud Abdulmoti Abdal’al, 39 years old
35. Ahmed Mohammed Ibrahim Hamdan, 27 years old
36. Ismail Khalil Ramadhan Aldaahuk, 30 years old
37. Ahmed Mahmoud Mohammed Alrantisi, 27 years old
38. Alaa Alnoor Ahmed Alkhatib, 28 years old
39. Mahmoud Yahya Abdawahab Hussain, 24 years old
40. Ahmed Abdullah Aladini, 30 years old
41. Saadi Said Fahmi Abu Salah, 16 years old
42. Ahmed Zahir Hamid Alshawa, 24 years old
43. Mohammed Hani Hosni Alnajjar, 33 years old
44. Fadl Mohamed Ata Habshy, 34 years old
45. Mokhtar Kaamil Salim Abu Khamash, 23 years old
46. Mahmoud Wael Mahmoud Jundeyah, 21 years old
47. Abdulrahman Sami Abu Mattar, 18 years old
48. Ahmed Salim Alyaan Aljarf, 26 years old
From left: Mohammed Hani Hosni Alnajjar, Yehia Ismail Rajab Aldaqoor, Mohammed Riyad Abdulrahman Alamudi, Ahmed Adel Musa Alshaer, Fadl Mohamed Ata Habshy, Ismail Khalil Ramadhan Aldaahuk (screengrab)
49. Mahmoud Sulayman Ibrahim Aql, 32 years old
50. Mohamed Hasan Mustafa Alabadilah, 25 years old
51. Kamil Jihad Kamil Mihna, 19 years old
52. Mahmoud Saber Hamad Abu Taeemah, 23 years old
53. Ali Mohamed Ahmed Khafajah, 21 years old
54. Abdelsalam Yousef Abdelwahab, 39 years old
55. Mohamed Samir Duwedar, 27 years old
56. Talal Adel Ibrahim Mattar, 16 years old
57. Omar Jomaa Abu Ful, 30 years old
58. Nasser Ahmed Mahmoud Ghrab, 51 years old
59. Bilal Badeer Hussein Al-Ashram, 18 years old
60 – 62: Unidentified
Middle East Eye has live coverage of protests in Palestine and Israel here.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Hassan Nasrallah on Trump, Iran and Syrian Strikes in Occupied Golan

Hassan Nasrallah: Trump only cares about US and Israeli interests

Speech of Hezbollah Secretary General Sayed Hassan Nasrallah on May 14, 2018, commemorating the second anniversary of the death of Hezbollah Commander Sayed Moustafa Badreddine.
Translation :
[…] After this introduction devoted to our beloved commander [the martyr Sayed Moustafa Badreddine, killed in Syria on 05.13.2016], let us talk about the files which, incidentally, he was responsible of.
The first point — I’ll be as brief as possible [with the 3 points I want to address, namely the US withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal, the confrontation between Syria and Israel and the events in occupied Palestine].
The first point is what the US administration is currently doing in our region, the main topic being the announcement by Trump of the (US) withdrawal from the (Iran) nuclear deal. I begin with this point because all my comments will lead us to (the issue of) Palestine, which constitute the essential part of this second part of my speech.
I will not analyze or discuss the nuclear deal itself, its causes, the causes of Trump’s withdrawal or its implications and consequences. I’ll go directly to the teachings and lessons we must draw (from this decision), because that’s what we will benefit from, as Lebanese people, as Palestinian people in the first place, the peoples of the region, the governments of the region and also the whole world. We must learn to know, in our political line and in life in general, how the US administration, which sees itself as the leading world power, behaves, what it is (in reality). And in truth, it touches on their (general) political culture and political consciousness, more than it concerns this political development (in particular).
Well, today, the US administration again demonstrates, with the evidence that we will discuss, that it is a State, a government — because it is not merely a Trump decision, it’s not President Trump’s own decision only, it is a decision of the US government, the American ruling establishment.
Today, the United States once again demonstrate that the only thing they care about in the world are their interests first, and secondly the interests of Israel. Final point.
That is to say, for successive US governments, humanitarian considerations or moral values ​​have no place. The humanitarian considerations or moral values ​​never had any place.
Today, Palestinians demonstrate peacefully in Gaza and the West Bank. In Gaza, there are dozens of martyrs so far, and more than 1,000 injured so far. In recent weeks, there have been dozens of martyrs and thousands of wounded. And for the US administration, it does not change anything, it has no importance whatsoever and no influence on their actions. And if someone dares to call for a condemnation in the Security Council, the US veto is ready.
Any evocation of humanitarian considerations, moral values ​​or human rights is empty talk, and has no place behind the scenes of American decision-making.
Second, international resolutions, international law, international organizations and the international community — in Lebanon, we are always asked to ‘respect international resolutions’, ‘implement international resolutions’ [pushing for the disarmament of Hezbollah]. Tomorrow you will see it again, just read the ministerial statement’s exhortations to ‘implement international resolutions’, ‘respect international resolutions’.
But as for the United States, the leading world power, they do not respect international resolutions, international law or international institutions, not even international resolutions in which they participated, those they have shaped and approved. When they no longer fit their interests, they abandon them and throw them off.
Third, all agreements, conventions and charters have no value, nor moral nor legal, for successive US governments. They make and cancel agreements at will. They (don’t respect) any agreement, any commitment, any charter. And I’m not even talking about climate agreements and trade agreements. I only talk about what just happened in our region. This means that no one in the world can have confidence in the commitments of the United States, in their agreements and promises.
Today, they are leading the President of North Korea up the garden path, telling him that if he destroys his nuclear weapons, they will allow American companies to come and invest in North Korea. If the North Koreans trust the US and destroy (their arsenal), as did Libya, for example, the United States will then say that for US companies to come, North Korea must organize such elections, meet such human rights criteria, etc., etc. And the blackmail process will continue (indefinitely).
O Lebanese, O Palestinians, O peoples of the region, we can not trust the United States… After all these experiences, it would be an act of stupidity (to trust them). A (prophetic) tradition says that the believer does not fall twice in the same trap. O my brother, this is not the second time but the hundredth and the thousandth time that these Americans stab the world in the back. This administration and these leaders can not be trusted at all in their agreements, commitments and promises. And this (new) experience before our eyes demonstrates it once more. I do not speak of (ancient) history, it takes place (live) before our eyes.
And likewise, experience shows that the US administration does not even respect its allies, not even their interests: they just don’t care about them. The economic, political and even security interests of Europeans were to maintain the nuclear deal with Iran. But the US has not even consulted them. Who are we talking about ? European allies, not their collaborators in the Third World. European allies, powerful States, which have veto power in the Security Council! But the United States didn’t consult any of them nor in substance, nor about their interests, nor in form.
Hence, how could they take into account the interests of those they see as mere instruments, subordinates, including States about which Trump said that without the American presence, they would not even survive seven days? The interests of the Arab and Gulf countries, and of some countries of the Muslim world, are they even present in the calculations, mind, head of the Americans when they make their decisions? They have no place whatsoever.
Such is the fundamental lesson we should learn today after the Trump’s withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal. I will not mention its impact, its consequences, its causes, what will happen next, it is not the topic of my speech today. But this aspect is in our opinion very important for anyone in our region and in the world, but especially for those in our region who link their destiny, plan their future, shape their region or take (strategic) decisions based on the United States and counting on them and on their promises and commitments, on any topic, major or minor.
And therefore, since today is the day of Palestine, let me also draw a conclusion on this point: when Trump announced his recognition of Al-Quds (Jerusalem) as Israel’s capital, the [Palestinian] Authority, or rather the Palestinian side responsible for negotiations, not to say his name [Mahmoud Abbas], said they would not agree to further negotiations or settlement of the conflict in which the mediator is the United States because it is not a neutral intermediary. What do you want instead? He said ‘I want the P5 + 1 [5 members of the Security Council + Germany], just like the agreement on the Iranian nuclear issue. This is the process that will give me guarantees and enables me to succeed.’
We declare to him today, after the Trump withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal, which was concluded by the P5 + 1 and on which a unanimous decision was taken at the UN Security Council, that all this was erased. Even this path leads nowhere and does not guarantee anything. (Despite) P5 + 1, Trump did not consult Europe, nor Russia, nor China, nor the Security Council nor the international community, he got up and went out (of this agreement). If anyone in Palestine, whomever he might be, counts on a resolution involving the United States, either as a single intermediary, as an international intermediary or as part of a P5 + 1, he is deluded, he is disconnected from reality and relies on mirages that will lead to no result. This experiment proves you, O Palestinians, that it is not the way to go in any case. It leads nowhere. […]
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Hassan Nasrallah: Syrian strikes in Golan frightened Israel and broke its prestige

Speech of Hezbollah Secretary General Sayed Hassan Nasrallah on May 14, 2018, commemorating the second anniversary of the death of Hezbollah Commander Sayed Moustafa Badreddine.
Translation :
[…] The second point I want to mention, and which will also lead us to Palestine, is the recent confrontation in Syria which occurred a few days ago in the Golan Heights against the Israeli enemy. A few days earlier, there was a confrontation of the utmost importance in Syria. It is referred to (in the media) as ‘the night of the missiles’. Okay, so let us call it the night of the missiles.What happened that night and until dawn was of the utmost importance, and its implications in the Arab-Israeli struggle, the struggle against the enemy and developments in the region (are huge). The issue is quite important, and I want to talk about it a little, because what we have witnessed in recent days is an Israeli effort to distort the truth, and (prodigious) efforts in the Gulf media to present what happened as a great victory for Israel. With lies, some can turn defeat or failure into victory, through falsification, which has unfortunately become a specialty of some Arab media and especially of certain media in the Gulf. I give you a single example.The Israelis themselves have not mentioned such a figure, but the Gulf media rushed to say that in this confrontation, 23 people were martyred, Syrians and Iranians, half of them being Iranian. And that is completely wrong. These are gross lies. Even the Israelis did not say that. But Gulf satellite channels and newspapers picked up this (wrong) information for 3 or 4 days, as well as some Lebanese channels who mentioned these (alleged) 23 martyrs in their scrolling news bar, though it is completely false. The truth is that the result of the confrontation, thanks to the Syrian air defenses, is that there were 3 martyrs of the Syrian Arab Army, and it was officially announced in Syria.
Let us return to the heart of the subject and the event itself, in order to briefly describe and outline its implications. For if we add this event, this confrontation of the night of the missiles to the night when the (F-16) Israeli warplane was shot down a few months ago, we come to absolutely major developments.
That night, for the first time in history since the cease-fire in the Golan Heights, since the 1973 war, the positions of the Israeli occupation forces in the occupied Golan — we must keep this fact in mind: it is not (only) the Syrian Golan, but the occupied Syrian Golan, and Israelis have been striving day and night for years, because of the events in Syria, to obtain an international recognition and attribution of the Golan to the Israeli entity. For the first time in history, the positions of the army of occupation in the occupied Syrian Golan have suffered a missile strike of this magnitude, in quantity and quality.
What exactly happened ? I will be very specific. The Israelis speak of 20 missiles fired, saying they intercepted most of them. But the truth is that 55 missiles were fired, some of which were heavy. Some were heavy. These missiles have targeted a number of military positions, positions of the occupation army in the Golan, causing very strong explosions in the Golan region that lead and forced all of the settlers in the Golan (over 20 000) and in a portion of northern Palestine to rush to shelters. And this is the first time since 1973 that they get down to hide in shelters, frightened, scared and terrified.
The enemy has concealed his losses in case he would have suffered any. Anyway, that’s usual for him. He imposed silence on the targets of the missiles, where they fell, and he tried to diminish the importance of the event. When he spoke of 20 missiles, he did not give the real number. And his response to this missile attack was to hit a certain number of positions, most of which had been previously evacuated. The Syrian defense, anti-aircraft defense forces have faced (this aggression) with heroism and remarkable know-how, as was the case during the ‘night of Trump’, during the tripartite aggression against Syria, and a large number of Israeli air forces missiles have been intercepted. The missile air defenses reached Tiberias and Safad [Israeli cities north of Galilee], which forced Israel to use the Patriot batteries to intercept them. Some fell over Safed, Tiberias and Metula, as well as (South Lebanon town of) Habariyé, and there was a real confrontation.
And of course, even the targets hit by Israel in response to the Syrian missiles were carefully selected and limited, and they avoided civilian, government and political targets — I’ll explain why I specify that. They chose to strike targets knowing that they were empty. Because after making these strikes, they contacted the UNDOF (United Nations Disengagement Observer Force), the observation forces on the Golan and asked them to contact the Syrians to tell them that if their operation was over, they were also done. It reminded me — because we followed the images all night — what was going on with Israel before 2000 [Israel tried to contact Hezbollah to obtain a cease-fire].
Such is the event, those are the facts. Let us now say a few words about the implications because they are very important, extremely important.
First, this missile attack is one way — this is not the only one — to respond to the continuous Israeli aggression against Syria. This is one way to respond to the continuous Israeli aggression against Syria and against those in Syria (Hezbollah, Iran), against the Syrian army, the Iranian presence — whether it be advisers or military bases, as there is a debate about it — or any of the allies. This is a form of response among many. The message that this missile attack conveyed to the Israelis and the enemy government, and that was well received — because we follow (closely) the Israeli media, the statements of the ministers, deputies, of the Knesset, the media and even the street. And I think that now, the inhabitants of the Golan, that is to say the Golan settlers and settlements groups north of occupied Palestine, will also have a word with the Israeli government.
So what is the message? Here it is: ‘If you think (O Israel) that you can go on, come in Syria, bomb, kill, destroy, without facing the slightest reaction, and to threaten and intimidate with impunity and see everyone bow, you’re delusional.’ This is the message. And on the contrary, we will retaliate, as appropriate, at the appropriate time, in the appropriate place, in the proper manner — because it is one of the possible forms of retaliation, and it is not sure that the response always take that form. You cannot go on, you Israel, the enemy, acting as you please and constantly violating Syrian sovereignty and attacking it and those in Syria (its allies), and the Resistance Axis in Syria, without suffering retaliation and punishment. We arrived to a completely new stage, inaugurated by this strategic missile attack.
Therefore, even within the (Zionist) entity, they begin to protest: ‘Where do you lead us? We are not ready for war, and if you take action that will provoke a response, and then retaliate to the responses, etc., this can lead to war, and it is not our interest to wage a war. Calm down, calculate well, etc.’
We have arrived at a new stage. This is the major change that has occurred. We are at a new stage in which Israel must weigh with great care its actions in Syria. Maybe before, they did not do a lot of calculations. After the (Israeli fighter) aircraft was shot down, we who follow military affairs closely, we have clearly seen that the movements of the Israeli air force towards Syria have introduced new protocols and (precaution) measures, new calculations. After the missile attack, Israeli decision-making, this trigger-happy behaviour so to speak, it will disappear. I’m not saying that they will not do anything. But I say they will carefully calculate their movements. And I also say to you that this is the message of this strategic missile attack, which must be taken into account in these calculations.Second, this missile response occurred despite Israeli threats and intimidation. If you remember, during two or three weeks (before the attack), the Israelis said they expected a response, but that if it came up, they would destroy, bomb, kill, put everything upside down, etc. Well, the response took place, and they expected it, and they knew that the nature of (their opponents) would lead to a response of this magnitude, but they haven’t turned anything upside down, and they haven’t dared to touch some red lines in Syria. Because — and I am going to reveal a secret — the enemy government was warned by international intermediaries that if the Israeli response in Syria exceeded the red lines, the second bombing would target the heart of occupied Palestine (Tel Aviv), not the Golan. This is one reason why they panicked during that night, contacted UNDOF, and said that if Syria’s operation was over, they too (would stop there). Despite all the (Israeli) intimidation and threats, (Syria) has made this decision and launched this response. And that means that we’re done with threats, intimidation, terror, and so forth, it’s all over.Third, despite efforts in the collection of information and actions of the Israelis all the days that preceded the missile attack to prevent missiles being launched from Syria, the missiles were launched, and it is an Israeli military defeat and a victory for those who fired the missiles.
Fourth, despite the fact that they knew through their analysts and perhaps through their information, that the target was the Golan, that they have deployed the Iron Dome and all systems responsible for intercepting missiles, and that they considered all possibilities and were at a level of maximum alert, they have not managed to prevent most of the missiles from striking Israeli military positions in the Golan, and this is also a military failure for Israel.
Fifth — where are we, in the 4th or 5th point? Whatever. This experience demonstrated the lies of the Israeli leadership, and we Lebanese, Syrians, Palestinians and the whole region need to know to not be brainwashed by the Israelis as they will not stop threatening of war, saying their home front is ready for war. One of the most important implications of this event was to prove that the (Israeli) home front is not ready for war. Their population is not ready psychologically and morally, nor their shelters nor their home front. The scandal (of their unpreparedness) was exposed to the whole world with this event. And it is also one of the reasons for their precipitation to end the confrontation and prevent it from escalating.
One of the other implications that was rich in lessons is the need for Israel to conceal the magnitude of what happened by resorting to lies when they spoke of 20 missiles (instead of 55), when they claimed to have intercepted them (while most hit their target), when Liberman said that their response to the missile attack in the Golan destroyed all Iranian bases in Syria and finished them off. These are lies, absolute lies. They have no basis of truth.
And of course, the second day, Israeli officials have spoken to say that if anything happened, they would destroy the Iranian bases in Syria. But don’t you already claimed you destroyed them? This regardless of whether there are (really) Iranian bases in Syria, or if there are only places where Iranian advisers are, we’ll talk about it later. The exaggeration of what was achieved by Israelis and smothering of the implications of what they suffered are Israeli attempts to conceal and overcome this development.
The last point about the implications of this issue prior to dedicate ourselves to our last part, Palestine, is the humiliating and shameful position of some Gulf countries. For example, when the Foreign Minister of Bahrain declares that Israel has the right to defend itself, it is a development… How to say… There is no longer any shame, no honor, no values, no morals, no religion, I do not know what to say (to describe such an act). Impudence? I say myself that this is hideousness. There is nothing more hideous, worse, more awful (than that). Can you imagine that this is an Arab stance? That Israel has the right to retaliate against Syria, to bomb, destroy, kill in ‘self-defense’? So you also recognize the Golan as belonging to Israel? The operation took place in the (occupied) Golan Heights, you idiot, moron, pervert, traitor!
Nevertheless, the presence of this minister, of these rulers in Bahrain is one of the greatest oppression of history against the Bahraini people. And those who express the true position of Bahrain are the people of Bahrain, the people of Bahrain who went down (in the streets) and demonstrated to denounce the statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bahrain. This level of vice, imbecility, stupidity, submission, flattery towards the Americans and Israelis is truly staggering. In truth, we have experienced and we have seen (many things), and perhaps there were many people who were expecting that some Arabs would be traitors, without honor, vile and hideous, but (not) to the level that we see these days…
The most important in this event is the following message: we are at a new stage in Syria. Syria and the entire Resistance Axis alongside Syria reached a new stage.
The most important achievement that has occurred is to break Israel’s prestige, just like shooting down the Israeli aircraft broke the prestige of their air force. (Previously), Israel was puffed up with pride and haughtiness, let us say things as they are. If anyone dared to put his hand on the Golan, advancing only a finger towards the Golan, Israel was willing to cut off his head. But it’s over. It’s all over now.
Today, the message to Israel during the night of missiles is that neither Syria nor the leaders of Syria, nor its army, nor its people nor its allies will tolerate that Syria remains defenseless to all these Israeli violations and aggression. And they are willing to go as far as needed. What happened in Syria during the night of missiles is first and primarily an act of defense of Syria and its sovereignty, before being a revenge for such or such martyrs. And our collective responsibility is to establish firmly, to work to firmly establish this new equation in the struggle, because it is a very important equation that has an an impact on (our) protection. […]

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Third part on Palestine will be translated soon.