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By Ollie Richardson

After the recent failure of the Cessation of Hostilities agreement between Russia and the US regarding the Syrian conflict, Bashar al-Assad’s country is heading into unknown waters. It is clear that there is a gross difference between the US’ vision for Syria and Russia’s, with the former being reluctant to actually fight terrorism, and the latter being impeded in this aim.

In an exclusive interview with StalkerZone, Marwa Osman* discusses the recent UN 71st General Assembly speeches, the consequences of the US airstrike on the Syrian Army in Deir Ezzor, and the future of Syria and neighbouring Lebanon in relation to ISIS and other terrorist groups.

1. At the United Nations 71st General Assembly, Benjamin Netanyahu said “the UN, begun as a moral force, has become a moral farce”, in regards to UNIESCO’s decision to “ignores Jewish history at Temple Mount” . We also saw the Saudi Prince predictably talk about “fighting terrorism”, the Ukrainian President tediously once again accuse Russia of “aggression” in Donbass (southeast Ukraine), and to top it all off, we saw Barrack Obama say “I believe that as imperfect as they are, the principles of open markets and accountable governance, of democracy and human rights and international law that we have forged remain the firmest foundation for human progress in this century.”

All of these statements are extremely hypocritical when we consider the policies of the governments in Israel, Saudi Arabia, US, and Ukraine are the cause of millions of murdered innocent civilians. It would appear that the UN is heavily influenced by the US to promote its foreign policy. What purpose does the UN now have, bearing in mind that warfare globally is seemingly increasing exponentially?

“I’d have to say Bibi Netanyahu is right for once in his life. The UN has always been and will always be a moral farce, but for very different reasons than what was stated by the Prime minister of the Israeli apartheid entity. The UN Human Rights Council, whose membership is made up of many of the worst regimes and human-rights offenders in the world was solely founded to give a green light for those so-called “world leaders” to intervene and meddle with the sovereignty and security of independent nations across the globe. The main reason that made Netanyahu fume with anger was the fact that the UNESCO ignored any Jewish links to Al-Aqsa Mosque marking it as an Islamic site.  Netanyahu might even go further with his charade by drawing an info graph to portray “anti-Semitism and hatred” for Israel to be embedded into the culture of the institution.

No one really cares anymore as there are multiple issues that need to be addressed by the international body which are highly more important than Netanyahu’s meltdown. For once you have the issue of terrorism tearing through the entire Middle East which is condoned and blessed by Israel itself while being funded and defused by Israel’s main ally “Al Saud”. I don’t know whether to laugh or stress out at the speech of the Saudi crown prince who blatantly said that the KSA is “fighting terrorism”. We are talking about the same country, Saudi Arabia, that made a bid to head the United Nations’ Human Rights Council (HRC) just days after it posted a slew of new job openings for executioners who would help carry out beheadings amid a massive uptick in state-sanctioned killings in the country. You asked me what purpose does the UN have now, I tell you its purpose lies now in moves similar to the embarrassing, laughable and tragic one the United Nations did when it named Saudi Arabia as head of its human rights panel.

The United Nations abhorrently handed Saudi Arabia a key human rights role despite the country having arguably the worst record in the world on freedoms for women, minorities and dissidents. However, the row with Ban Ki-moon in June 2016 over the child casualties of the war in Yemen marked a new low for the UN. It was extraordinary to hear the secretary-general admit publicly that he had had his arm twisted to change tack in the wake of anger from Riyadh. Despicable really.

As for Poroshenko’s anticipated bash against Russia in English language if I may, was not bad for a man who constantly weeps for US direct intervention in his own country. At least the “US consultants” in Kiev taught him good English so he could look more open, democratic, pluralist to the “West” as he gives his UNGA speech in New York while children of Ukraine and Donbass suffer due to his irrational decisions. I have nothing else to say about him.

As for the master of the UN himself, Barack Obama succeeded in portraying the UN as an absolute pun which reminded me of the him receiving the Nobel Peace Prize just as he was about to embark upon several overseas wars and drone countless civilians to death without due process. What made me laugh out loud was when he warned world leaders of deep and dangerous divisions between those who support more global integration and those who want to retreat into isolationism. Let me rephrase that: we warn you…you either comply with our guidelines which are sugar-coated with nice big human right’s terminologies to be better ruled by our empire or we bomb the hell out of your citizens. That man is a shame and a disappointment and fits perfectly to be one of the leaders of this sham organization called the United Nations which births resolutions to eradicate nations instead of focusing on actual human rights progress.”

2. Also at the UN we saw Samantha Power give a statement regarding the “mysterious” airstrike on a UN aid convoy. Naturally, she blamed Russia and the Syrian government, but not a single shred of proof has been provided (much like the MH-17 plane disaster). Now we see Russia claim that an al-Nusra artillery piece was sheltering among the trucks, and also that a US Predator drone was in the skies at the time. It would appear that Lavrov’s call for an “independent investigation” into the incident will fall on deaf ears.  With this finger-pointing in mind, in your opinion, who is to blame for such a lack of coordination and cooperation?

“The heinous accusations we keep hearing from US representatives all across international organizations and inside the Whitehouse itself just proves that the United States has run out of options in Syria which is making the Obama administration to become increasingly desperate. I lost count of how many time we have heard the Obama administration stating that the US is ready for operational coordination against “terrorist” groups in exchange for a Russian commitment to stop the SAA from attacking so-called “moderate” rebels.

At a time of a brokered ceasefire a week ago, when American and Russian military officers, intelligence officials, lawyers and support personnel should have been assembling intelligence information against Jabhat al-Nusra (Ahrar Al Sham) and ISIS targets in Syria, US air force was busy bombing Deir Ezzor airport killing 80 SAA soldiers and wounding hundreds. Information between both countries is not being exchanged and are not likely to be exchanged because the US believes this war should be waged according to its rules and regulations without taking into account the Syrian sovereignty and the Syrian-Russian cooperation. Now after the US had openly failed to abide by the ceasefire it worked on sealing, I think that both the Russians and the Syrians should insist on return on a highly synchronized counterterrorism effort on Syrian soil, where the Americans would provide the Russians with assurances that the US air force would ground their aircraft in designated zones across the country and would NOT bomb a location near any of the SAA bases.”

3.  Associated Press has recently released the text of the US-Russia deal over Syria. According to the document, all forces were supposed to withdraw to a distance of 3.5km of Castello Road – the main route through Aleppo – thus creating a Demilitarised Zone. However, the “moderate” rebels and jihadists refused to move even so much as an inch, and thus the ceasefire was doomed from the beginning. Perhaps the US knew this but were buying recuperation time for their proxies. Do you think that there is any hope of a ceasefire deal actually sticking, considering that in the Lebanese civil war there was over 1000 ceasefires?

“I think it is geopolitically incorrect to compare the Lebanese civil war with the global war being waged against Syria. What happened in Lebanon was strictly between Lebanese factions who were funded and trained by foreign nations. However, the war on Syria is completely different. In Syria you have every major country on this planet with its jet fighters and private bases now spread on Syrian soil, mercenaries who are not even of Syrian nationality fighting under 100’s of different takfiri banners with no real purpose other than probably having their 72 virgins in heaven. This along with the following 4 reasons will never make any ceasefire hold inside of Syria:

The US promises have not been reliable in recent years. There is little reason for Russia to trust western leaders, who have lied repeatedly to their Russian counterparts. And there’s no reason to believe it will be different at any other ceasefire.

The majority of the terrorist groups (the US’ moderate rebels) have always rejected any sort of truce which makes them unpredictable and can be counted on to try to foil the ceasefire.

If the U.S. and Russia actually succeed in defeating ISIS and Jabhat Fateh Al Sham, what’s to stop the other terrorist groups from continuing their offensive against the SAA and the Syrian civilians?

There’s still no clear path to success in any peace negotiations or Geneva talks even if the government and the designated so-called “moderate rebels” show up, because no side controls these rebels on the ground to force them to abide by the results of the talks.

4  Recently we have seen the Israeli Defence Forces siding with al Qaeda in the Golan Heights, pushing the Syrian Arab Army out of the area.  An Israeli lawmaker has directly accused the IDF of cooperating with al-Nusra, something that was later denied. At the current juncture, Syria is seemingly being attacked from different axis by Turkey, Israel, ISIS, and the gulf proxies. We also have seen the determination of the Kurds to establish autonomy in the North. In your opinion, what is the likelihood that Syria will be partitioned, seeing as the war has dragged on for over 5 years, and demarcation lines are already being formed?

“We cannot deny that some efforts to negotiate a solution to the war on Syria have been undertaken, led by the U.N. diplomat Steffan de Mistura. The real problem, as we have seen throughout the past 5 and a half years, is that the major players are in sharp disagreement about a path forward: the United States and Russia disagree on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s future and about which groups are terrorists and which are rebels; Saudi Arabia and Iran are locked in a geopolitical and religious conflict across the region, with Syria as ground zero and now Yemen as Saudi Arabia’s way of revenging for the Syria loses; Russia and Turkey are in bitter disagreement about tactical and strategic issues; Turkey and the US are in a bit of a storm lately after the a failed coup d’état which was allegedly supported by the US, who is also supporting the Kurds against Turkey; and GCC internal bickering over who calls the shots in Syria between KSA and Qatar. Now the partitioning of Syria or the Federalization of Syria has always been an American scenario to end the Syrian crisis, which means turning the highly centralized Syrian Arab Republic into a federal republic with autonomous subdivisions.

However with the current spread of international intelligence agencies who are controlling the advancements of the terrorist organizations operating in the ground in Syria, the partitioning process will only turn any autonomous subdivision into a western colony. This aims solely at weakening the Syrian government and this will not be allowed to happen as long as the SAA and its allies are gaining grounds in the battlefield and as long as the RuAF is targeting terrorist bases and weapon warehouses. Most probably the risk of partitioning the country lies in the possibility of the west doing so along sectarian and ethnic lines. This would soar the fears of group reprisal, which minority groups within Syria currently feel, and would most definitely open the way for domestic political infighting for control of the state.”

5. Lebanon is a country that has been on the outskirts of this zone of chaos, but it is still under direct threat from Jihadists. On September 22nd, an ISIS emir was arrested near the city of Sidon. This is not the first incident involving Lebanese intelligence and the arrest of terrorists on Lebanese soil.  What is the likelihood of ISIS taking a grip of Lebanon by exporting their assets westward, especially since Mosul and Raqqa are moving closer and closer to the top of the liberation list?

“After recent victories in Syria whether on the border line between Syria and Lebanon, in the outskirts of Damascus and in Aleppo, the myth of invincibility of the terrorism has collapsed, smashed to pieces by the bravery of the SAA and their allies and specifically Hezbollah. It has become clear that if fought honestly and with full determination, even the most fanatical ones like ISIS can be defeated. It has also become obvious that the West has very little interest in defeating these groups after the US’ stunt in Deir Ezzor, which gave way for ISIS to invade the area for a couple of hours before the RuAf took over the scene again. It is rather true that the national and regional dynamics have become so intertwined in Lebanon that it is hard to see how Lebanon could emerge from them politically stable and economically sound. However, it has been proven time and again even before the start of the Syrian crisis back in 2008 when the Lebanese army fought against takfiris in Nahr El Bared in northern city of Tripoli, that Lebanon is fully capable of deterring terrorism.

Lebanon might seem like an easy target for ISIS. It shares most of its border with war-torn Syria. Furthermore, regional gridlock has left the country without a president for well over 2 years. Lebanon currently houses more refugees per capita than any other nation in the world. Right now, one in four residents in Lebanon is a refugee. The country’s infrastructure is on the verge of collapse, with basic services such as garbage pick-up suspended. In the recent year, protesters have taken to the streets to demand government reforms and yet have heard nothing back from the parliament that has already unconstitutionally renewed its term of governance without elections or a referendum.

Despite these very heavy factors, Lebanon has maintained an uneasy cohesion. Memories of its own 15-year civil war, constant Israeli brutal aggressions and the scenes of ISIS rapings, beheadings and barbarism inside Syria and Iraq motivate the Lebanese to make all efforts to avoid another drawn-out conflict. Lebanon also has now one of the most powerful forces in the region that has gained all the needed experience in fighting back terrorism after successfully deterring ISIS, Nusra and other terrorist factions inside of Syria. The Islamic Resistance Hezbollah, with its deeply rooted cultural tradition of tolerance that helps to minimize prolonged reactionary behaviour and Lebanon’s religiously diverse nation, with diverse Muslims living, working and governing with diverse Christians makes the perfect combination to keep very much unwanted terrorism and takfirism out of the country.”

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*Marwa Osman is a Media studies university lecturer at the Lebanese International University and a political commentator from Lebanon. She is also a member of The Blue Peace initiative’s media network. She hosted a political show on ‘Al Etejah English’ TV channel, and she is often seen on ‘Russia Today’ as a panelist.

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