Will Syria peace trio succeed given all three have different agendas?

Although Russia, Iran and Turkey have different objectives in Syria, the summit in Ankara showed that they all seek the territorial integrity of the country, experts told RT, warning however that the region is in serious turmoil.

Three of the power brokers of peace in Syria met in Ankara on April 4 in an effort to reduce the violence in the war-torn country: Russia's Vladimir Putin and Iran's Hassan Rouhani met for a trilateral summit hosted by their Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

RT discussed the results of the summit with Middle East experts.

Asked about the three-way cooperation and how it is going to work, given that Russia, Iran and Turkey have their own plans and are supporting different sides in the conflict, Abdel Bari Atwan, an author and Middle East analyst, said “there is a common ground which makes three leaders work together, especially on Syria.” 

 
© Umit Bektas

“I have looked at the final communiqué of their meeting during the summit in Ankara. It was very clear that they have agreed on a lot of things,” he said.

In particular, the joint statement says that the three leaders “rejected all attempts to create new realities on the ground under the pretext of combating terrorism and expressed their determination to stand against separatist agendas aimed at undermining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria as well as the national security of neighboring countries.”

According to Atwan, this means that there is no chance for a Kurdish entity to be established in Syria.

Another important point mentioned in the statement was that “they agreed that there should be stability and security in Syria in order to allow the Syrian refugees to go back to Syria.”

“The third one, which is also extremely important, [is] not to use the terrorist as a pretext to keep foreign forces in northern Syria, which is a clear reference to the American 2,000 troops based there,” he added. 

Emre Caliskan, co-author of ‘The 'New Turkey' and its Discontents,’ told RT that although three countries have different agendas, in terms of the future of Syria, they agreed on one thing: “They all want to respect the territory unification of Syria, they all want not to have American influence in the region.”

Joshua Landis, director at the Center of Middle East Studies, University of Oklahoma, argues “it is going to be very difficult” for these trilateral efforts to rebuild Syria, considering US troops are still stationed there.

 
FILE PHOTO: Refugees is a camp near Gaziantep, Turkey, April 23, 2016. © Umit Bektas

“What we are seeing today is that Syria is increasingly being divided into three zones: a Russian and Assad zone, an American and Kurdish zone and a Turkish zone where the rebel militias hold sway,” he noted. Landis said that “this is a period of great turmoil.”

“As we’ve seen, President Trump wants to bring the troops out of Syria, he doesn’t believe that America has long-term interests in Syria. Of course, America’s allies have a lot of interests: Saudi Arabia, Israel, they do not want to see the US leave Syria. They want the US to turn up the pressure on Iran and to hurt Persia as much as they possibly can,” he explained.

“The US holds about 50 percent of Syria’s oil and much of its best agricultural lands. To give those back in a sense to the Syrian government or to allow Turkey and Syria to take over its northern section of Syria would be a blow to those two countries who don’t want to see Syria back on the stage, particularly, now that Assad and Iran still have influence there, and now that Russia has influence there,” Landis pointed out, adding that “they want to hurt Russia.”

“And we saw McMaster, the national security adviser, who was just fired, say the Russia has not paid a high enough price. There are many policy advisers who want the US to make Russia pay a higher price, to make Iran pay a higher price. This confusion goes right through the policy-making community in the US. And it does make the US look very disorganized indeed.”

According to political analyst Seyyed Mostafa Khoshcheshm, “the US has grown so weak in Syria and in the region that we heard just very recently that Donald Trump said that they want to pull out unless the Saudis pay for their stay in Syria.”

“The US has grown so weak that they cannot have any major say or any say in Syria, so what they are doing is that they are playing negativism, they are trying to sabotage peace and welfare of the Syrian nation. And they are trying to sabotage the restoration of stability in Syria and in the region in order to be given a part in there,” he told RT.

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Head of CIA: Gina Haspel, Linked to Torture

The EFE Spanish news agency reported in Tuesday, President Donald Trump announced via Twitter that the CIA Headquarters will be occupied by a woman.

We are talking about Gina Haspel who up until now worked as deputy director of that espionage agency.

Haspel, 61 years old, ran in Thailand one of the first torture centers known as "black sites" that the United States opened to extract confessions through torture.

She also played an important role in this program, on the grey side of the law, after September 11 to imprison and interrogate alleged suspects of terrorism, under the Bush Administration.

Haspel, said the agency, oversaw herself at least two extreme interrogation sessions where tortures were used, what disclosed an investigation of the Senate.

The suspects were Abu Zubaydah and Abd al Rahim al Nashiri.

The first one was subjected 83 times to "waterboarding" according to documents revealed in the North American Congress.

Gina Haspel's name was also related to the destruction of nearly 100 videotapes of black site interrogations in 2005 that were filed in Thailand.

She was promoted in 2013 to head of a CIA clandestine unit, a position confirmed by the Senate.    

According to EFE, the president instead of rejecting these tortures, he back them up, therefore Haspel fits right in the picture of Trump’s CIA era.

It was also made public the outing of Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, position that will occupy Mike Pompeo, current CIA director.

The White House spokeswoman, Sarah Sanders, sent an official statement of the leader where he stressed that under Tillerson’s time great things had been achieved in the last 14 months."

In this document Trump repeated his "trust" in Mike Pompeo and "he is the right man for the job at this fundamental moment and he shall continue our program of restoring the role of the United States in the world."

According to what Sanders said, Trump asked Tillerson to move aside.

But according to Assistant to the Secretary and Director of Public Affairs, Steve Goldstein, Tillerson didn't speak with Trump and he ignores the reason of his removal.

Goldstein affirmed "The Secretary of State intentions of staying due to the critical process made in matters of national security".

If what’s been written so far uncovered the conflicting panorama of the White House, the new succession of events, as a clear warning, corroborates it.

Cubasi Translation Staff / Amilkal Labañino Valdés

EUROPOL Warns About the Radicalization of 30,000 Persons in Europe

Sofia, Mar 19 (Prensa Latina) The executive director of the European Police Office, Europol, Rob Wainwright reported today about the radicalization of some 30,000 persons in the region, which currently represent a potential threat of terrorism.

The information released today by the Bulgarian broadcaster 'bTV' quoted Wainwright, who explained that the estimated figure refers to radicalized people through the Internet.

The majority of these individuals are inspired by groups such as the Islamic State (ISIS); however, it does not mean that they act under their direct command, the official added.

He also insisted on the need to stay alert, because at any moment these people 'can rent a truck and kill innocent people.'

Wainwright cautioned that it is a new form of terrorist activity difficult to fight by the European and world security services.

Adding to this situation the threats after the return to Europe of people who travelled to Syria and Iraq to join the ranks of the ISIS and other terrorist groups.

According to the executive director of EUROPOL, the comeback of these foreign terrorist fighters is a danger and represents a huge menace to the entire region.

An annual report from the European Police Office, in 2017, indicated a growth in recent years of terrorist groups.

Among the presumed radicals imprisoned, one out of four were women and one third were under 25 years old.

In addition to the arrests, EUROPOL reported on the increase in the number of judgments in the courts of the European Union, mainly in countries such as Spain and France.

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Militant groups split & clash in E. Ghouta, civilians seek shelter – Russian MoD

Militants groups holding Eastern Ghouta have begun fighting each other after one faction attempted to separate from the terrorists, the Russian military said. Civilians are seeking shelter and trying to escape street fighting.

The confrontations broke out a day after the Russian Defense Ministry demanded that the Failak Ar-Rahman group separated from Jabhat Al-Nusra terrorists, currently known as Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham. In exchange, the militants were offered safe passage out of the embattled suburb of Damascus.

“Open fighting between the members of illegal armed units is underway in the streets, civilians are forced to seek shelter not to accidentally become victims of hostilities," Major General Vladimir Zolotukhin told reporters on Monday.

 
© Ruptly

A Russia-backed ceasefire came into effect in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta around two weeks ago, in order to allow humanitarian aid deliveries and the evacuation of civilians. Two humanitarian corridors were established in the areas of Muhayam al-Wafideen and Mlekha to provide for the safe passage of local civilians. Both passages have been constantly shelled by the militants, injuring and killing those who were trying to escape, according to Russian MoD and eyewitnesses.

The first group of 52 civilians, half of whom were children, managed to flee the militant-held Eastern Ghouta on Sunday. Their safe passage was secured by the Russian and the Syrian forces after they had held talks with the armed groups controlling the area.

The situation in the militant-held enclave remains “tense,” according to Zolotukhin. They also continued the bombardment of Damascus and its suburbs, firing seven mortar shells on Sunday, the official added. No one was injured in the attacks.

Despite the provocations, the humanitarian operations went on, the Russian military said. The spokesman reiterated that the safe routes in Eastern Ghouta remain open to both civilians and militants who are willing to flee.

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Filmmaker Clint Eastwood to Premiere Film on Terrorism

Los Angeles, Nov 24 (Prensa Latina) U.S. actor and director Clint Eastwood's latest film ''The 15:17 to Paris'', a story on thwarted terrorist action, will be premiered, said various websites.

According to the website e.cartelera, the film was shot in the original locations in which the actions took place, seeking to bring characters closer to real life.

The film, to be premiered in February, is about the August 2015 events, when a man fired on a train that was traveling from Amsterdam to Paris.

The perpetrator, Ayoub El Khazzani of Moroccan origin, was killed before committing the killing, so only three people were injured.

Such terrorist action did not become a massacre thanks to the intervention of three young people traveling on the train: student Anthony Sadler, U.S. Army National Guard specialist Alek Skarlatos from Oregon, and a U.S. Air Forces member Spencer Stone.

Eastwood selected these three people that lived the events to perform the characters in his film.

He said that the film is a tribute to ordinary people, particularly these young people that took action to save lives when the extremist got on the train.

  • Published in Culture

50 Dead in Eastern Nigeria Suicide Bomb Attack

According to the officials, the young bomber mingled with worshippers prior to detonating the explosives.

Police officials are reporting that at least 50 people have been killed in a suicide bombing in the eastern Nigeria.

RELATED: Saudis Bomb Yemen's International Airport, Amid Devastating Blockade

The bomber, who Sky News reports to be a teen, targeted worshippers at a mosque during morning prayers in Mubi.

According to the officials, the young bomber was observed mingling with worshippers prior to detonating the explosives.

Police spokesman, Abubakar Othman, said the death toll will likely rise "as those seriously injured could add to the figure".

Last December, two young female suicide bombers carried out a deadly attack, which claimed the lives of 56 people and wounded dozens more in a crowded market in the same town.

The attack on the mosque in Mubi has not been claimed by any group.

Over the past eight years, approximately 20,000 people have been killed by Boko Haram.

 

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'Syria chemical weapons probe poisoned by new Russia-US Cold War'

The way the OPCW-UN's investigated the chemical incident in Syria is clearly not what the world expects when it sets up an agency to investigate events like this, and wants to be able to rely on it, says Nicolas J. S. Davies, author of Blood On Our Hands.

Russia on Thursday vetoed a US draft resolution at the UN Security Council to extend the work of a joint inquiry into the Khan Shaykhun chemical attack in Syria earlier this year.

RT:  Why do you think the US and Russia failed to agree on this issue?

Nicolas Davies: It’s very hard to understand what has gone wrong with the OPCW investigation here. I mean the inspectors didn’t go within a 100 kilometer of the site, presumably because it’s too dangerous for them because that area is controlled by rebels linked to Al-Qaeda. Yet, they trusted the same rebels to gather samples and have custody of all the physical evidence they then examined, which is a complete violation of the OPCW’s rules for handling materials like that and for conducting an investigation.

@RT_com Russia blocks US-drafted resolution to renew inquiry into chemical weapons attacks in https://on.rt.com/8sfv pic.twitter.com/gYyWfmlQoz

@RT_com Russian resolution on international inquiry into chemical attacks in has failed at UN Security Council https://on.rt.com/8sfv pic.twitter.com/SgBOthDb0t

Then in the report, they issued they seemingly ignored all the contrary evidence that suggested there might have been some other cause for these deaths of 82 people – possibly a bomb hitting another building nearby that was that was storing pesticides – that is one of the theories. But clearly that is not what the world expects of the OPCW or of the UNSC. When the world signs an international treaty and establishes an agency to investigate an incident like this, we expect to be able to rely on it, to conduct its investigations with integrity and to hear from experts from all sides and all points of view. This clearly didn’t happen. There are American experts challenging this … John Gilbert, who used to work for the Defense Department, I believe. So we haven’t had the kind of thorough investigation of this incident that all those ambassadors sitting on the UNSC should be demanding and should expect.

RT:  Do you think we’ll ever get to the bottom of what actually happened in Syria following this latest disagreement at the UNSC?

ND: I don’t know. This just seems to be poisoned by what people are calling a new Cold War between the US and Russia. Frankly, the hostility seems to becoming much more from the American side then the Russian side. But it really threatens the whole world. We’ve got the two countries with more of 90 percent of the nuclear weapons in the world that seem to be on a collision course. At the same time, we have a crisis on the Korean peninsula, where essentially the North Koreans have come to believe that the only way they can keep their own people safe is to develop weapons that threaten the lives of millions of Americans.

We have to acknowledge that this is just a breakdown in the rule of international law, in the world, and this has really developed for the most part since 9/11, and since the US invasions of Afghanistan, and Iraq and serial US acts of aggression against country after country, for which there has been no legal or political accountability whatsoever…

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Manhattan attack wouldn't have happened if CIA ‘spent less time’ arming terrorists – Assange

WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange slammed the CIA, saying the deadly terrorist attack in New York overnight might not have happened if the agency investigated terrorists instead of training and arming them.

“If the CIA spent more time investigating terrorists and less time training and arming them we might not have had today’s truck attack in New York,” the whistleblower tweeted following the attack in lower Manhattan that left eight people dead and a dozen injured on Tuesday.

@JulianAssange If the CIA spent more time investigating terrorists and less time training and arming them we might not have had today's truck attack in New York.

The suspect, reportedly identified as 29-year-old Sayfullo Saipov, an Uzbekistan native, drove a rented truck onto a bike path near the World Trade Center memorial, striking several pedestrians and cyclists. The vehicle did not stop until it hit a school bus, then the suspect left his vehicle holding two “imitation firearms” and shouting “Allahu Akbar.” He was shot by police officers before being taken into custody.

READ MORE: Videos show Manhattan terrorist attack suspect, victims & aftermath (GRAPHIC)

The suspect reportedly had a note in his truck that said he committed the attack on behalf of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), law enforcement told NBC News.

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