Syria: A Moment to Reflect 281

The death of Raed Fares in Syria reminds us that there was a moment in Syria when protest was led by secular democrats keen to see the end of decades of one family rule. That he was killed by the Islamist rebels the West is now actively supporting – and the fact that all the western news reports have sought to elide that fact – is sign of how horribly it has all gone wrong.

The assault on Hodeidah appears finally to have focused some Western leaders on the appalling horrors of the bombing of civilians in Yemen by the Saudi/UAE led coalition. Hodeidah is abhorrent not just because of the direct effect of the assault, but because the aim is to close the port which is the only supply route standing between further millions and death by starvation. When you add to Hodeidah the hideous killing of Khashoggi and the dreadful imprisonment of the unfortunate Matthew Hedges by Saudi satellite the UAE, and you realise that all of these deaths and injustices including that of Raed Fares are orchestrated by the same people, you would hope the pause to reflect would be general.

Trump/MBS/Netanyahu is the real axis of evil today. In Syria and Yemen the West has abandoned all belief in human rights and in basic decency, in favour of promoting a crazed Sunni jihadist agenda against Iran. The effects are so perverse, that we reached a stage where the continuation of the Assad regime is the best outcome that can be hoped for short term in Syria because the alternative is now al-Nusra. Western foreign policy in the Middle East has long been both illegal and morally indefensible; it has now also become extremely stupid.

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281 thoughts on “Syria: A Moment to Reflect

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  • Sharp Ears

    Coming up on BBC2 at 7pm.

    Mrs May and Mr Williamson would be pleased if you watch so that you can see how £6billion and counting was spent.

    Crewing Up

    Britain’s Biggest WarshipSeries 1 Episode 1 of 3

    It is early 2016 and sailors begin to arrive at Rosyth dockyard in Scotland where HMS Queen Elizabeth is still under construction. Captain Jerry Kyd and his 700 sailors assemble to take up their posts on the biggest warship constructed for the Royal Navy. Their mission? To take the prototype warship to sea for the first time on dangerous make-or-break sea trials in the North Sea.

    Before sailing, the crew have to undergo rigorous fire and flood training, but suddenly they are faced with the real thing. Has the training paid off? And how will they get the supercarrier out of the dockyard sea gate with only a few centimetres clearance either side? They will also have to sail her under the Forth road and rail bridges – no easy task when HMS Queen Elizabeth is taller than both.

    With unprecedented access, this series – three years in the making – tells the behind-the-scenes story of what makes HMS Queen Elizabeth so unique and how her crew are working together to breathe life into Britain’s biggest warship.

    59 minutes

  • Loony

    Actions have consequences.

    In 1971 Nixon closed the Gold Window. Shortly thereafter the US moved to back the $ with Saudi oil. Saudi agreed only to sell oil in US$ and the US agreed to provide security to the Saudi regime. This has allowed western governments to massively increase debt and finance social programs with debt.

    You don’t like what is happening in Saudi fine, go remove the regime. Then sit back and watch the implosion of western economies, and the explosion of poverty and misery in western populations.

    All those who weep tears over the victims of Saudi lunacy have no solution other than for poor people to sacrifice their lives on the alter of someone else’s faux moral perfection.

    Not all problems have solutions.

    • Courtenay Barnett

      Loony – is it a straight line set of options?

      1. Capitalism and oil for arms trading deal;
      2 Accompanied by a currency ( currencies) off the ‘gold standard’?

      Aren’t China and Russia hording gold with a long term vision of reverting to a gold standard currency ( as was Gadhafi’s plan for Libya and Africa- hence his ouster).

      My point – more solid currencies and less militarism and more solid creation of jobs in a peace driven ( not war mongering) economy.

      • Loony

        Courtney – We are all living in a complex system – and complex systems do not lend themselves to binary choices.

        You have a debt based system and debt was given free reign by the abandonment of sound money. The money was given superficial soundness by the deal with Saudi. If you go back to sound money then it is game over for complex social security systems. A lot of the people who argue against “war mongering” also argue for increased aid to the poor. The war mongering of the west allows you to aid the poor. Take away the war mongering and you have a debt implosion and the poor get wiped out. No-one is going to make this binary choice. No-one is arguing that war is good. No-one is suggesting that the extermination of the poor is a price worth paying for less war mongering. Any attempt to exterminate the poor will almost certainly lead to more war.

        What are you going to do? Not all problems have solutions. All of this is known. Read people like Joseph Tainter on the collapse of complex societies. The complexity is the problem and every solution to every problem is to increase complexity. The human mind rebels against complexity and so there is an attraction to simplistic solutions. Leaders with simplistic solutions tend to end up killing a lot of people. Individuals with simplistic solutions tend toward panic when the outcome of their prescriptions is the opposite of what they believe will be the case.

        It is all very depressing. Cheer yourself up with this

        • Courtenay Barnett


          You said this:-
          ” The war mongering of the west allows you to aid the poor. Take away the war mongering and you have a debt implosion and the poor get wiped out. ”

          This so-called complex system, to my mind is simple ‘con’. May I make a contrast.
          I watched in Jamaica the contrast between how Cuba gave aid v. the US.

          The US after it gets a government tied in to IMF loans then announces massive amounts of ‘aid’. The aid comes in part as consultants going to the local university to ask local experts ( sometimes for a price) the nature of the problem. Now, the local expert may be the leading expert on the subject, having studied and published on it for half or more of his academic life. The US ‘consultant’ is oftentimes a hustler or maybe has a part finished Masters and this work will enhance his resume. ETC.
          By the time the ‘aid’ gets to the actual construction at least four-fifths of the money is spent on intermediate steps monetarily going back to the US; and then something actually gets done over a couple years or more from date of signing the initial agreement.
          But, don’t forget the IMF conditionalites to purchase a lot of US goods and on a cost-benefit analysis it is in the end game Jamaica giving the US jobs and money that most likely exceed this so-called ‘aid’

          Two projects I know of.
          One is a comprehensive school in a rural area; the other is a physical education institution and both are both functioning well to this day from the 1970s to this day.
          Deal – Jamaica provides the land; Cuba provides material and workers. From ground breaking to completion on each project – well within a year both are completed. Cuba does provide follow-up technical expertise such as physicians or say science and maths teachers and then there are local understudies who will take over. O.K. done – next project. I call this ‘aid’ not like Western ‘aids’ debilitating the local economy.

          Nothing complex about this; it is simply abuse of power by the strong against the weak accompanied by a less than imaginative lying narrative about ‘aid’.

          P.S. Given the above reality – let us have a.s.a.p. the debt implosive so that poor people can breathe again.

          • Makropulos

            Also if the “war mongering of the west allows you to aid the poor”, this means you can aid the poor and bomb them at the same time!

    • Ken Kenn

      Indeed and then the price of oil quadrupled ( that was the agreed deal) and of course this benefited the US as the
      dollar generated money came rolling in. So the world paid much more for its oil as the rich never pay any price and we are still witnessing this now with post Crash austerity.

      I like this one:

      ” This has allowed western governments to massively increase debt and finance social programs with debt.”

      I’d advise any believer in the above to just check out as to where borrowed money has been spent.

      I can only speak of the UK ( not the US) as that’s what I know.

      The UK government has boasted of cutting down its current spending debt – hurrah! but the downside is that it has raised dramatically the National Debt ( of which very few media commentators speak ) by nearly double relative to the last Labour government’s debt.

      It has ” borrowed ” this supposedly to spend on something/some people, but food banks benefit cuts and the poorness of the working poor tells us that whatever the UK ” borrowed ” for welfare largesse has not found its way to the poor and not even many of the middle classes.

      I’ll hazard a decent guess that the US has done similar over the years.

      The largesse has gone to richer people and on Corporate Welfare via tax cuts and QE. More alleged trickle down.

      Mrs May’s excuse is that if we don’t sell them weapons someone else will – oh and by the way we send Yemen a lot of money via overseas aid.

      That’s akin to a surgeon paying thugs to go round maiming people and then offering the maimed the surgery
      at their clinic.

      Dirty business is war but a lot of world leaders like it. As long as they or members of their families aren’t asked to contribute.

      • Loony

        What you write is mostly true. If you simply create money then the people closest to its creation will access it first and will grow richer relative to everyone further from the source of the money creation. If you grow and harvest potatoes then you will access the potatoes first – not difficult to understand.

        Sure there is a lot of inequality in the UK – and it is growing. That is what this type of debt creation does.

        Poor people are increasingly using food banks. So what? The UK needs to import over 50% of its food supplies. Debt creation allows for the money to purchase the required food. The threat of massive military violence persuades people to pretend to believe that your money is worth something – hence they are willing to provide food in exchange for money and not being blown up.

        Under the current system the alternative to food banks is no food. Things can always change and be improved – but it is not as easy as it might seem. How many people do you know that are in favor of increasing emissions? Emissions are increasing. Can you name the individuals responsible for increasing emissions? Is there an Adolf Hitler type figure conducting a war of annihilation against the planet? If so, who is it and where can this person be found? Or is altogether a more complex problem?

        • SA

          If you grow potatoes you will of course have access to potatoes but if you are a third world coffee producer you will probably never taste the coffee and hardly afford to buy bread.
          You sometimes use false analogies to illustrate a point. Pleading complexity of the system is also a way of claiming that nothing can be done. That is because you look at everything from the blinkered capitalist world view where money is the most important thing and profit generation is more important than people’s welfare.
          The capitalist system thrives on debt except that the debt of the rich countries turns into strength because at the end of the day the US is neither going to default nor is going to be forced militarily to pay the debt as other countries are. And guess which country holds the greatest national debt in absolute terms? And does that stop this country from lording it over the world? Would a third world country with that amount of debt not be hounded and brought to its knees by international creditors?
          Yes we all know the co/dependency between the oil addicted west and the oil rich medieval monarchies and so we throw our hands up and say, we are so codependent that we can do nothing otherwise the poor will suffer. But that is a political choice due to the priorities of capitalism.

    • fwl

      Loony I certainly remember the WSJ having a forthright proposal back in a leader or editorial back in 2001 / 2002.

    • Zoltan Jorovic

      Removing the regime is not the only possible course of action other than doing nothing as you seem to suggest. There are many actions between those two extremes. One would be to stop selling advanced weapons to the Saudis. Another would be to impose “Magnitsky” style sanctions on Saudi individuals – excluding them from the many pleasure spots they so love to visit in the west. These actions might rein them in somewhat. Or, more amusingly, we could start being more friendly to Iran – that would really worry them. As a bonus it would piss off Netanyahoo big time. Win – win!

      • SA

        You and others suggest remedies and that is fine. But these remedies are logical and well meaning. These remedies totally ignore the fact that this whole setup is endorsed by the so called ‘international community’, which effectively means the US, it’s NATO satellites and the repressive monarchies of the oil rich ME. What we really need is a change in our own regimes. Would the revulsion of the injustices committed against Yemen, Syria, Libya and others be sufficient for people to change our government’s policies or even to loose power? That is the failure of the so called western democracies that these serious revulsion never translate to changes in votes.

    • Molloy



      Interesting what you say.
      However, the solution – from a public/humankind perspective – is blindingly obvious. imho.


  • Jude 93

    It isn’t just Trump, MBS, and Netanyahu, it’s the anti-Corbynites in the Labour Parliamentary Party (ie., the vast majority) it’s Theresa May and most of her parliamentary colleagues, it’s the Clintons, Macron and all the rest of them, it’s the Guardian, the Murdoch press, the Telegraph, the BBC, the NYT and on and on. General Wesley Clark made it clear that the warmongers planned all along to take down Libya, Syria, Iraq and other countries as part of the plan to reshape the Middle-East according to AIPAC specifications. Neocons like Norman Podhoretz of Commentary had been openly calling for this for years. The “War On Terra” and “humanitarian interventionism” were the the twin engined means to achieve this end.

  • Dungroanin

    Now that the Fukus Inc Syrian failure is in the last stages, where next are they going to liberate? Where the pesky Russiqns and Chinese have no bases yet?
    Kit Knightly at Off-G shows us the Pathocracy’s list of the willing belligerents signed up and ready to ride under a career super-psychopath.
    ‘ a “non-partisan” NGO partly funded by American billionaires, oil companies and Western governments wants a “peaceful” transition of power to avoid “further assassination attempts” or even a full on invasion.’

    • laguerre

      What you complain about is just the way NGOs finance themselves. They all have to bargain with the devil in order to keep going. Not even the author of the off-guardian piece (Kit Knightly) seems to understand that ICG (International Crisis Group) is actually a well-known organisation supported by a wide variety of organisations and governments, no doubt including Soros though I couldn’t see his name. I don’t particularly like their ideas, somewhat too conservative. I remember having a sparring match with one of their researchers around ten years ago, rather arrogant. But they’re not necessarily a creature of the NeoCon warmongers.

      • No More Craig

        Show me who pays your bills and I’ll tell you who you are. But in their case, however, their narrative is more than enough to identify who they are.

  • Chris

    And it looks as if a new maritime provocation is beginning off Crimea, showing how prescient were the remarks of major general ding-dong doo-dah on the Russia threat. They are like three year olds, but deadly.

    • Paul Greenwood

      It is contrived. Ukraine received instructions to rattle the cage. Russia knows exactly how the US works

  • Peter


    Somebody – and you seem to be better placed than most – needs to provide a thorough, condensed history of the Syrian catastrophe, from the Arab Spring to the current diabolical situation.

    I think we all know by now that it’s nowhere to be found in the MSM (Robert Fisk and occasional Jeremy Bowen reports aside), simply blaming it all on Assad and Putin doesn’t come close. Their (the MSM’s) deceits, distortions, and deflections should be regarded as a crime against democracy, and part and parcel of what surely must be war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Syrian tragedy.

    Journalists acting as propagandists are complicit.

    • Jack

      Stuff like this is the reason why the analysis is so flawed on Syria:

      ” Anonymous has published documents which it claims have unearthed a massive UK-led psyop to create a “large-scale information secret service” in Europe – all under the guise of countering “Russian propaganda.”

      Saying this or that about Syria that western gov/media do not say = russian propaganda.

      • Mochyn69

        Thanks for the links.

        That 2012 Charlie Skelton article from the Guardian compared with its output today just shows how much the Guardian has indeed been nobbled.

        And how much the disaster that is brexit is diverting attention from the real issues of the day both domestically and on the international geopolitical stage.


      • pete

        Re the Curtis documentaries
        I watched these some time ago, they followed on from a previous series, mentioned here:
        An attempt to summarise what is happening globally and where we are going. It’s an alternative view and also fascinating. The problem for me was that it seemed to lack coherence, that may be my fault or it may be the difficulty we all have, trapped as we are within our own cultural/historical perspective, blind to our faults and biases when presented with alternative world views. Still, certainly worth watching.

    • Paul Greenwood

      I am sure you will find lots of such studies if you look…..but you want it condensed in a colour magazine with Victoria Beckham guiding you through the issues.

      There are lots of authors who have documented this – it is not on your coffee table perhaps but neither is most real research

      “Somebody – and you seem to be better placed than most – needs to provide”………..and I need my car washed to and the garbage taken out

      • Peter

        Ok, I’ll take it.

        @ Paul Greenwood

        Thank you for your ‘wistful’ and amusing contribution.

        However, fyi, I don’t buy Sunday supps, much less Hello mag, David Beckham was a great player, Victoria I don’t know so much, a colour mag is not what I was looking for, I don’t have a coffee table, real research is what I was hoping for and some have been gracious enough to provide – for which I am grateful (see below) – I don’t have a car and have no problem dealing with my own refuse.

        Believe it or not, I can actually read. I know about the Bernard Lewis Plan, the Oded Yinon Plan, General Wesley Clark, A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm, &c &c, and I read as much of the media as I have time for.

        I’m not however a historian and I don’t have an inside line such as Craig probably has.

        I would suggest that somebody who is and does would be doing us all a great service if they could put together the detailed inside story of the political machinations that have led to the current, dreadful beyond words, situation in Syria and that is being hidden from us by the political and media classes.

        Perhaps that’s you.

        In the meantime I think it’s probably best if, whatever its cause, you try not to let your bitterness get the better of you.

        Nonetheless, thanks again for your reply.

    • SA

      “Somebody – and you seem to be better placed than most – needs to provide a thorough, condensed history of the Syrian catastrophe, from the Arab Spring to the current diabolical situation.”

      On the strength of the current post by Craig I would dispute your statement and perhaps ascribe it to either naivety or wishful thinking.
      There is an awful lot out there written by people who know Syria, who live in Syria and who have been associated with Syria. This is out there for you to explore. Craig’s Knowledge I think would be mainly to contacts within the FCO, but maybe I am wrong. The rather orientalist approach (often tinged with lust for oil and petrodollars resulting from arms trade) to the problems of the Middle East and Arab countries in official circles, even if well meaning, is what is wrong with the current state of our foreign policies in the ME.

      • laguerre

        “what is wrong with the current state of our foreign policies in the ME.”

        You failed to mention our wrong-headed support for the only surviving Western colony in the Middle East. That is the source of most of the errors. A much more level-headed policy would be possible without that self-inflicted obligation.

        • Paul Greenwood

          I would rather Western Governments looked after Christians – no-one else seems to. With Canon Andrew White doing an amazing job in Baghdad and Western politicians in contrast trying to wipe out the oldest Christian civilisation in the Middle East, I wonder just what it is about Manichean Evil that makes it so attractive to western Voters

        • SA

          Of course I am aware of this colony but it is also important to mention the Arab regressive side. Much for example is written about Gaza being an open air prison but the role of Egypt and also the monarchies in keeping this state of affairs possible is rarely mentioned. If the Arabs were not so disunited Israel will not be such a problrto deal with.

    • Peter

      As @ 13:06 Mon 26th, many thanks to all, including PG, who have replied to my previous post, much appreciated.

    • Molloy



      re “. .. MSM’s) deceits, distortions, and deflections should be regarded as a crime against democracy”

      Fact. Crime. Aggression (complicit, each corporate body and every individual facilitator (usually for money).



    • Geoffrey

      “The rise of Islamic State” by Patrick Cockburn which I am currently reading, describes well, how and why Syria is in it’s current state. He also writes for the Independent.
      In fact the story is pretty well known and follows the middle east pattern…….middle class,westernised locals protest with placards written in English, get a lot of coverage from Western Media, dictator,ruler gets annoyed and uses heavy handed tactics to put down protests,accidentally kill someone. More Western media outrage, but western protesters soft. Jihadis take on fight financed by Wahhabi states and sympathy from west, Turkey opens borders to allow western and other fighters in,including suicide bombers. Cheap weapons bought from Libya with US assistance etc etc. Saudis,Kuwaitis and others send money and weapons in, tactical and logistica support from from Israel. Full scale propaganda provided by UK ,EU, etc
      And Bob’s your uncle ! Only problem now is that Jihadis only want to kill and remove non Sunnis eg Christians, Yazidis Shia etc not run a Westernised democracy.
      Now, even bloodthirsty Western, Middle Eastern and Turkish backers, have a problem…Assad still there ……headchoppers want to come back to Western conforts….what to do ?

      • N_

        The FSB has confirmed that after Ukrainian warships entered Russian waters, Russian warships fired at them and the vessels were seized. RT does not appear to be using the term “coastguard” in the civilian sense in which it is usually used in Britain. I haven’t had time to read the statement in the original Russian but as far as I am aware the Ukrainian forces did not fire any munitions.

        NATO are sticking their oar in, talking about Ukrainian “territorial waters” as if a) the Sea of Azov is part of the Atlantic, and b) they’re a right bunch of Khrushchev fans 🙂 (Sorry for the joke, but the idea that the Crimea was full of innocent Ukrainians minding their own business and wanting to be left alone when the foreign Russian armed forces came and “occupied” the region in 2014 is utterly ludicrous.)

        Remember that NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg is a Steiner loon and will have a conception of the connotations of “Atlantic” that he will be loath to profess in the presence of non-members of his cult.

        • TonyF12

          Local rumours that a NATO SADM, possibly a diver deployable device, was being transported by Ukrainian and British Special Forces to the Kerch to be used on the Crimean bridge. The device was being tracked by the Russians and they knew it had been loaded on to a Ukrainian Tug (escorted by five warships – including one NATO vessel).

          Who knows what to believe? Whatever the detail of what happened, it is beyond reasonable doubt that it was provocation.

          • nevermind

            Indeed, the dire state of Ukraine cutting off drinking water to the Crimea, and this bridge has been constructed to carry a large water pipeline from the Russian mainland to serve the Crimeas needs, will be a target for western war planers and Ukrainian hot heads alike.

            As yet we don’t know whether arch Russophobes and imperial war dogs are playing any part in this possible sabotage.

    • N_

      The images detached from every aspect of life fuse in a common stream in which the unity of this life can no longer be reestablished. Reality considered partially unfolds, in its own general unity, as a pseudo-world apart, an object of mere contemplation. The specialization of images of the world is completed in the world of the autonomous image, where the liar has lied to himself. The spectacle in general, as the concrete inversion of life, is the autonomous movement of the non-living.

      One cannot abstractly contrast the spectacle to actual social activity: such a division is itself divided. The spectacle which inverts the real is in fact produced. Lived reality is materially invaded by the contemplation of the spectacle while simultaneously absorbing the spectacular order, giving it positive cohesiveness. Objective reality is present on both sides. Every notion fixed this way has no other basis than its passage into the opposite: reality rises up within the spectacle, and the spectacle is real. This reciprocal alienation is the essence and the support of the existing society.

      Out of interest, @charming, when did you first get into Debord’s writing? I’m hoping you are a fellow smartphone non-user.

    • Paul Greenwood

      Actually there was supposed to be in a CHRISTIAN society which is why so much was built on Philanthropy – but the Modern World prefers Unethical Selfishness so Society determines its economic superstructure – or is that too Marxist for you ?

  • Tony_0pmoc

    There is an enormous can of worms currently being opened. Much of it is beyond any depravity or horror story, that my innocent mind can cope with. If you think you are strong enough, to mentally cope with the existence of such evil, then you could start here, and then move on to some of the extremely long detail, contained within at least one of the comments. For a soft introduction, you could start with yesterday’s post on the Moon of Alabama’s website…but it soon gets a lot worse than that. I have the ultimate respect, for the people who run these websites and blogs, exposing the evil amongst us. Most of them are private individuals, largely running on empty, except for a few donations and book sales vs Massive Corporate, Government and NGO funding running to many Millions. Still the truth shines through the complete and utter disgust.


  • CUJimmy

    As the Brexit saga builds up to a crescendo and Theresa pleads directly with the electorate, yes folks it’s time for the Skripal story to be wheeled out again.

    • Paul Greenwood

      I think Skripal voted Leave but is coming round to Remain (What do you think Mark Urban ?)

      • michael norton

        I do not know if Mr. Skripal was allowed to vote for Brexit but if he wasn’t and if there is to be a People’s Vote,
        would he be entitled to vote this time?

      • michael norton

        In February 2018 George Soros’s Open Society Foundations donated £500,000 to a number of groups opposing Brexit including £182,000 to European Movement UK. In April the same year the group joined the People’s Vote to campaign for a second vote.

        I also think it is time, now that the sergeant has gone public for Mr. Skripal to go public.

  • BrianFujisan

    Oh deary me, I went looking for an article I read many months ago, about the Lies Re Syria, and how it was One the words top tourist destinations.. Depressing search – Western propaganda lies Rules the Internet. I watched this video some months ago don’t see many leaders driving themself around war torn areas –

    Every day I see images of Skeletal infants in Yemen, A mother could hold her 5 year old child on the palm of her hand.. it’s like a Nightmare one wants to wake up find that the world cares after all.. But no.

    Meanwhile.. the US are commiting war crimes on American soil –

    • Molloy


      Tony. . . .

      Irony alert?
      Would said ‘Queen’ by any chance be the ostensible chief facilitator/ receptacle for self-justification and greed and coat-tailing and self-glorification?

      Do you mean That ‘Queen’? See earlier re crimes of aggression (fact).

      Recommend, strongly, ‘Blindness; José Saramago. Sláinte, Tony.


  • Sharp Ears

    Reference the final item in that list. The other night the BBC broadcast ‘Briefings’.

    The event was held in Mr Bercow’s splendid gilded mini palace, the Speaker’s House, to commemorate the Kindertransport. One after another, a succession of MPs and Lords recited speeches made by their forebears in 1938. This event was held under the auspices of the AJR.
    Most of the speakers were members of their parties’ Friends of Israel lobby groups, as is Bercow a member of the CFoI.

    On the BBC, there followed an interview with Naftali Bennett, the hardliner in the Israeli cabinet.
    ‘Israel’s seemingly indestructible prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has dodged another political bullet. After the flare-up of violence in Gaza, his defence minister quit and another key cabinet member, Naftali Bennett, threatened to leave as well if he was not given the defence portfolio. But the prime minister called Bennett’s bluff and he decided to stay put after all. Stephen Sackur asks him what is behind the chaos in Israeli politics. Are the right-wing factions putting their own interests before those of the nation?’

    ? Wonder what the Briefings participants think of this latest from Israel?

    ‘Death to Arabs’: Hate crime spree hits West Bank (PHOTOS)
    Palestinians in two West Bank villages are reeling after a series of suspected hate crimes left property damaged and vehicles daubed with inflammatory graffiti taunting the community.
    Nov 25, 2018

  • michael norton

    Something we do not yet know, the chemical shelling from Idlib Province,
    was it from the new De-Confliction Zone?
    The Turks had agreed to remove large arms and terror groups from the De-Confliction Zone.
    Why haven’t the Turks said, what they think happened?

  • Paul Greenwood

    Speaking of Democratic Accountability, why is it is now (post Cameron-Clegg) requires a Two-Thirds Majority of the House of Commons to let the Voters decide in an Election……..but only a Simple Majority… bind those Voters into a Cul-de-Sac Deal with the European Union negotiated by Theresa May ?

    • Chris

      The Fixed Term Parliaments Act 2011 requires 2/3 of all parliamentary seats to pass a motion for a General Election – but allows the same result to be achieved by a simple majority of 1 in a no-confidence motion. Odd that the MSM only seem aware of the first possibility, isn’t it?

  • nevermind

    On the hour? Every hour, the propaganda channeld are wretcheting up this provocative act. If Russia finds a western made depth charge on any of these vessels, this can become quiet a nasty escalation.

    That said, it could decide to search every ship for arms shipments when it resumes free access to Ukrainian ports.

    • nevermind

      Dooh ratcheting up, it should read.
      Many thanks to Brian for his latest link showing the dehumane US responses to the caravan of despair arriving in Tijuana.

    • Chris

      I think the Kerch incident was a provocation, pretty much beyond doubt.
      But the idea that it was contrived as a basis for the introduction of martial law in Ukraine seems a stretch to me – I think that is more likely to have been opportunistic. A couple of faux outrages blaming “Russian terrorists” for bombings or shooting would have been far easier and cheaper to arrange than an incident involving three warships.
      General Mark Carleton-Smith’s sudden outburst about the Russian risk seemed like a bizarre anomaly on Saturday when the Beeb splashed it – but it suddenly assumed a purpose overnight when the Ukrainian Navy started with the deranged stuff. I think that was a big clue.

        • D_Majestic

          SE-as an antidote to the poppy-fest, I have been reading ‘The Memoirs of George Sherston’ by Siegfried Sassoon. It has told me absolutely all I need to know about Generals etc.

      • Borncynical

        “…far easier and cheaper to arrange than an incident involving three warships”. Whilst I agree with your overall conclusions I would disagree with this point in your analysis. The point about this incident is that, as I have explained below in response to @Kempe, there is a standard protocol in place, agreed between Russia and Ukraine, allowing Ukrainian vessels passage through the Kerch Straits. It would appear that these particular vessels or others like them regularly make this journey. For the Ukrainians to take advantage of the situation for subversive purposes, perhaps thinking they could ‘get away’ with something because the Russian coastguard might be complacent or might not select them for checks, is not beyond possibility and would have cost the Ukrainians very little in terms of effort and money to do so. It wasn’t the presence of the Ukrainian vessels that caused the confrontation, it was their behaviour in flouting the standard operational procedures.

        • Chris

          Borncynical, I do see your point: but the naval provocation is low cost only if the Russians take no action. If they do, and in the event they did, the cost to Ukraine is three vessels and their crews captured (from an already dominished fleet)
          For me the big public clue as to what’s being contrived was the General’s scene-setting via the BBC.

          • Borncynical

            On reflection, and having heard more details of the circumstances surrounding the incident, I think your interpretation of events is probably more likely than my initial thoughts. I very much agree that the timing of the incident to coincide with Carleton-Smith’s pronouncements was particularly suspect.

    • Kempe

      Saker showing his usual bias and ignorance.

      Ukraine has a right of access to the Asov Sea under an agreement signed in 2003. Exercising that right does not constitute provocation.

      The idea that these ships were about to carry out a suicide attack on the bridge is absurd. Laughable.

      • bj

        Saker showing his usual bias and ignorance

        He’ll probably thank you for being a regular there.

      • Borncynical

        “Exercising that right does not constitute provocation”. That is not the issue. The Russians do not deny Ukraine access at all. There are procedures agreed between Russia and Ukraine allowing the latter access. I don’t know what the procedures involve but apparently they have been operating without any problems or confrontations for some time. The Ukrainian vessels in question, all of a sudden, decided not to abide by the agreed protocols (maybe involving random on-board checks?) and despite being ordered to stop several times decided to ignore the instructions. One of the reasons for the checks is to guarantee the security of the bridge linking Crimea to the Russian mainland. There have been suggestions that the intention may have been to plant an explosive device to the bridge but I don’t know what information that suggestion is based on. That aside, do you really not think that the Ukrainian actions, which went far beyond the issue of “exercising their right”, might be rightfully deemed to be provocation?

      • Jack


        Rather you that spin ignorance:

        “When a group of vessels of the Ukrainian Navy was approaching Russia’s state border, [a patrol boat] informed them about the procedure for crossing Russia’s state border and the rules of navigation on the Kerch-Yenikale canal, which stipulated filing an application to Kerch’s maritime administration 48 hours and 24 hours in advance, and sending a confirmation 4 hours in advance, which was not done by the ships of the Ukrainian Navy,” the statement reads.

        This was no regular transportation, of course many ukrainian ship pass this border every day. The ukrainian navy refused this procedure and thus “broke” through the border.

        • Kempe

          “Russian state media echoed the government’s statement that Sunday’s incident was a “provocation” by Ukraine. Its FSB security service, which guards the strait, said it was not notified that the small Ukrainian flotilla would try to pass through, and that the ships were maneuvering dangerously inside its waters.

          But the explanation by President Vladimir Putin’s government runs into several problems, according to Valentin Schatz, a research associate in public international law at Germany’s University of Hamburg.

          He said under the 2003 agreement, Ukraine “did not need Russian permission” to pass through the Kerch Strait. However, it could be argued it had an obligation to notify and cooperate with the Russian authorities controlling it, Schatz added.

          Ukraine said it informed Russia; Russia denies this. If Ukraine is correct then blocking its ships’ passage was “clearly illegal,” Schatz said.

          The use of force as a means to protect coastline can only be used in “exceptional circumstances” under international law, he said, and “foreign warships cannot be detained for trying to pass through a strait.”

          In any case, if the Russian objection was that the Ukrainian ships were in Crimean waters, Russia’s annexation of that peninsula is not recognized under international law, “rendering any Russian enforcement action illegal per se,” he said.

          Kurt Volker, Washington’s special representative for Ukraine who previously served as U.S. ambassador to NATO, also questioned Moscow’s account of Sunday’s incident.

          Open Society Foundations’ Tucker described the sea clash as “the latest episode in Putin’s aggressive, expansionist military doctrine, which, ever since he ordered tanks into Chechnya in 1999, has sought to distract from the lack of any meaningful domestic reform.”

  • Sharp Ears

    Matthew Hedges is being released to the relief of his wife and Mr Hunt.

    47 years ago the British/British Petroleum protectorate became the United Arab Emirates. Heath was the PM. Wilson had left in June 1970. Wilson came back in 1974.

    The history of that Is on here. It seems to be a fair summary.

    and the current ruler.

    Note:’In April 2016, Khalifa was named in the Panama Papers by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists; he reportedly owns luxury properties in London worth more than $1.7 billion via shell companies that Mossack Fonseca set up and administers for him in the British Virgin Islands.


    Two years after the UAE had been established, the UK joined the EU in 1973. Negotiations had taken 4 years. The treaty to join was signed by Heath in 1972.

  • michael norton

    al Dana, is reported to be under the control of the Turkish-backed – Free Syrian Army.
    al Dana is thought to be the site where the chemicals are stored.
    al Dana is four miles from Turkey.

  • Edward Horgan

    The points you make are very important one’s Craig. I had this letter below published in two Irish daily newspapers a few days ago. Dear Editor,
    In 1847 the Choctaw Indians donated $170 dollars toward famine relief in Ireland. Also in 1847 Ottoman Sultan Abdülmecid I, personally offered ₤10,000 in aid to Ireland, but British diplomats advised him that it would be offensive to offer more than Queen Victoria, who had only donated ₤2,000. It was suggested that he should donate₤1,000. Genuine humanitarian efforts recognise no ethnic or religious divides. Why then is Ireland doing so little to address the suffering of the Yemeni people who are undergoing a similar famine caused by foreign aggressors? 85,000 children under 5 years of age have starved to death in Yemen , yet Ireland and the international community have stood idly by and continue to support oil rich Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE) who are perpetrating violence and famine on the Yemeni people.
    In February this year the UN Security Council renewed sanctions against Yemen exacerbating the famine, which is further exacerbated by a blockade enforced by Saudi Arabia and UAR, yet no sanctions have been imposed on main perpetrators, Saudi Arabia and UAE. The Houthi rebels in Yemen are defending their people against internal corruption and external aggression, yet because they are Shia Muslims they are being attacked by their more powerful Sunni Muslim neighbours.
    The answer as to why the Irish Government is doing so little to help starving Yemeni people is probably that we do a lot of trade with Saudi Arabia and UAE and none with Yemen. Ireland is also complicit in these famine deaths by allowing US military to resupply Saudi munitions through Shannon airport.
    Edward Horgan

  • Sharp Ears

    Info here on the ‘confrontation’ between Russia and Ukraine in the Kerch Strait, off the Crimean coast.

  • John A

    There’s far more of an uproar when Russia intercepts hostile warships in its territorial waters, than when Israel intercepts non military mercy shipments in international waters. I wonder why that is?

  • Chris Barclay

    Isn’t there a coup going on to replace or at least rein in MBS? Saudi Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud returns to Saudi with US guarantees. Khashoggi’s murder filmed and that film used to humiliate MBS globally. Implementation of sanctions on Iran that will limit the support Iran can give its satellites coincide with peace talks in Yemen (though the war goes on).

    Trump’s reluctance to condemn MBS for Khashoggi’s murder suggests that this coup is happening without Trump’s support. Trump is of course worried about his investments in Saudi Arabia and the Deep State is using his concerns to control US foreign policy.

    Sara Netanyahu’s court case suggests that someone is likewise squeezing her husband.

    Trump, MBS and Netanyahu are probably all now puppets, the public face of US, Saudi and Israeli policy. The real axis of evil are the people pulling their strings.

    • michael norton

      New York, SANA – The majority of the UN General Assembly member states reiterated their demand that Israel withdraw from the entirety of the occupied Syrian Golan up to the June 4th 1967 line in compliance with relevant Security Council resolutions.

      The Assembly on Friday cast a majority vote in favor of a resolution titled “Syrian Golan,” thereby reemphasizing the principle of the inadmissibility of acquiring lands belonging to others by force as per international law and the UN charter, in addition to reemphasizing that the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.

      The Assembly denounced Israel’s non-compliance with Security Council resolution no. 497 issued on 1981, asserting that Israel’s decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction, and administration over the Syrian Golan which was issued on December 14th 1981 is null and void, demanding that Israel revoke this decision.

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