– Syria – Kurds – Egypt – Russia – Pakistan – China
Massenbach*Egypt’s President Sisi calls for uniting international efforts to fight terrorism
El-Sisi met with Volker Kauder, the head of the parliamentary bloc of the ruling coalition in the German Bundestag,
discussing regional crises and bilateral relations
Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has reiterated his call on uniting efforts to fight terrorism in the wake of the St Paul Church bombing in Cairo Sunday that killed 26 with dozens injured.
"The terrorist church bombing reflects again the importance of uniting international efforts to fight terrorism and eliminate its roots," El-Sisi said Saturday during a meeting with Volker Kauder, the head of the parliamentary bloc of the ruling coalition in the German Bundestag.
A statement from the presidency said that El-Sisi hailed cooperation with Germany and seeks to reinforce bilateral relations, especially on an economic level.
The president also said that Egypt is working hard to develop its economy and resolve its structural dysfunctions that have hampered its progress for years.
El-Sisi also underlined the importance of cooperation between the two countries to confront common challenges resulting from current crises in the region, including illegal immigration, calling for a comprehensive strategy to deal with the phenomenon, and to reach political settlements to current disputes in the region….
Kauder hailed progress in bilateral relations over the past few years, expressing his appreciation for the pivotal role of Egypt in the Middle East as a pillar of stability and security, along with its efforts in fighting terrorism.
Kauder also said that Germany is keen to boost economic cooperation with Egypt and help in its development efforts. He praised the Egyptian government’s latest reforms and the awareness of the Egyptian people.
He added that Germany is willing to provide Egypt all the support it needs in its development pathway, including in education, technical training and job creation.
From our Russian News Desk.
– Russia – Turkey – Japan
The Guardian: The Syrian opposition: who’s doing the talking?
Thursday 12 July 2012 15.48 BST First published on Thursday 12 July 2012 15.48 BST
The media have been too passive when it comes to Syrian opposition sources, without scrutinising their backgrounds and their political connections. Time for a closer look …
A nightmare is unfolding across Syria, in the homes of al-Heffa and the streets of Houla. And we all know how the story ends: with thousands of soldiers and civilians killed, towns and families destroyed, and President Assad beaten to death in a ditch.
This is the story of the Syrian war, but there is another story to be told. A tale less bloody, but nevertheless important. This is a story about the storytellers: the spokespeople, the "experts on Syria", the "democracy activists". The statement makers. The people who "urge" and "warn" and "call for action".
It’s a tale about some of the most quoted members of the Syrian opposition and their connection to the Anglo-American opposition creation business. The mainstream news media have, in the main, been remarkably passive when it comes to Syrian sources: billing them simply as "official spokesmen" or "pro-democracy campaigners" without, for the most part, scrutinising their statements, their backgrounds or their political connections.
It’s important to stress: to investigate the background of a Syrian spokesperson is not to doubt the sincerity of his or her opposition to Assad. But a passionate hatred of the Assad regime is no guarantee of independence. Indeed, a number of key figures in the Syrian opposition movement are long-term exiles who were receiving US government funding to undermine the Assad government long before the Arab spring broke out.
Though it is not yet stated US government policy to oust Assad by force, these spokespeople are vocal advocates of foreign military intervention in Syria and thus natural allies of well-known US neoconservatives who supported Bush’s invasion of Iraq and are now pressuring the Obama administration to intervene. As we will see, several of these spokespeople have found support, and in some cases developed long and lucrative relationships with advocates of military intervention on both sides of the Atlantic.
"The sand is running out of the hour glass," said Hillary Clinton on Sunday. So, as the fighting in Syria intensifies, and Russian warships set sail for Tartus, it’s high time to take a closer look at those who are speaking out on behalf of the Syrian people.
The Syrian National Council
The most quoted of the opposition spokespeople are the official representatives of the Syrian National Council. The SNC is not the only Syrian opposition group – but it is generally recognised as "the main opposition coalition" (BBC). The Washington Times describes it as "an umbrella group of rival factions based outside Syria". Certainly the SNC is the opposition group that’s had the closest dealings with western powers – and has called for foreign intervention from the early stages of the uprising. In February of this year, at the opening of the Friends of Syria summit in Tunisia, William Hague declared: "I will meet leaders of the Syrian National Council in a few minutes‘ time … We, in common with other nations, will now treat them and recognise them as a legitimate representative of the Syrian people."
The most senior of the SNC’s official spokespeople is the Paris-based Syrian academic Bassma Kodmani.
Kodmani is a member of the executive bureau and head of foreign affairs, Syrian National Council. Kodmani is close to the centre of the SNC power structure, and one of the council’s most vocal spokespeople. "No dialogue with the ruling regime is possible. We can only discuss how to move on to a different political system," she declared this week. And here she is, quoted by the newswire AFP: "The next step needs to be a resolution under Chapter VII, which allows for the use of all legitimate means, coercive means, embargo on arms, as well as the use of force to oblige the regime to comply."
This statement translates into the headline "Syrians call for armed peacekeepers" (Australia’s Herald Sun). When large-scale international military action is being called for, it seems only reasonable to ask: who exactly is calling for it? We can say, simply, "an official SNC spokesperson," or we can look a little closer.
This year was Kodmani’s second Bilderberg. At the 2008 conference, Kodmani was listed as French; by 2012, her Frenchness had fallen away and she was listed simply as "international" – her homeland had become the world of international relations.
Back a few years, in 2005, Kodmani was working for the Ford Foundation in Cairo, where she was director of their governance and international co-operation programme. The Ford Foundation is a vast organisation, headquartered in New York, and Kodmani was already fairly senior. But she was about to jump up a league.
Around this time, in February 2005, US-Syrian relations collapsed, and President Bush recalled his ambassador from Damascus. A lot of opposition projects date from this period. "The US money for Syrian opposition figures began flowing under President George W Bush after he effectively froze political ties with Damascus in 2005," says the Washington Post.
The CFR is an elite US foreign policy thinktank, and the Arab Reform Initiative is described on its website as a "CFR Project" . More specifically, the ARI was initiated by a group within the CFR called the "US/Middle East Project" – a body of senior diplomats, intelligence officers and financiers, the stated aim of which is to undertake regional "policy analysis" in order "to prevent conflict and promote stability". The US/Middle East Project pursues these goals under the guidance of an international board chaired by General (Ret.) Brent Scowcroft.
Brent Scowcroft (chairman emeritus) is a former national security adviser to the US president – he took over the role from Henry Kissinger. Sitting alongside Scowcroft of the international board is his fellow geo-strategist, Zbigniew Brzezinski, who succeeded him as the national security adviser, and Peter Sutherland, the chairman of Goldman Sachs International. So, as early as 2005, we’ve got a senior wing of the western intelligence/banking establishment selecting Kodmani to run a Middle East research project. In September of that year, Kodmani was made full-time director of the programme. Earlier in 2005, the CFR assigned "financial oversight" of the project to the Centre for European Reform (CER). In come the British.
The CER is overseen by Lord Kerr, the deputy chairman of Royal Dutch Shell. Kerr is a former head of the diplomatic service and is a senior adviser at Chatham House (a thinktank showcasing the best brains of the British diplomatic establishment).
In charge of the CER on a day-to-day basis is Charles Grant, former defence editor of the Economist, and these days a member of the European Council on Foreign Relations, a "pan-European thinktank" packed with diplomats, industrialists, professors and prime ministers. On its list of members you’ll find the name: "Bassma Kodmani (France/Syria) – Executive Director, Arab Reform Initiative".
Another name on the list: George Soros – the financier whose non-profit "Open Society Foundations" is a primary funding source of the ECFR. At this level, the worlds of banking, diplomacy, industry, intelligence and the various policy institutes and foundations all mesh together, and there, in the middle of it all, is Kodmani.
The point is, Kodmani is not some random "pro-democracy activist" who happens to have found herself in front of a microphone. She has impeccable international diplomacy credentials: she holds the position of research director at the Académie Diplomatique Internationale – "an independent and neutral institution dedicated to promoting modern diplomacy". The Académie is headed by Jean-Claude Cousseran, a former head of the DGSE – the French foreign intelligence service.
A picture is emerging of Kodmani as a trusted lieutenant of the Anglo-American democracy-promotion industry. Her "province of origin" (according to the SNC website) is Damascus, but she has close and long-standing professional relationships with precisely those powers she’s calling upon to intervene in Syria.
And many of her spokesmen colleagues are equally well-connected.
Another often quoted SNC representative is Radwan Ziadeh – director of foreign relations at the Syrian National Council. Ziadeh has an impressive CV: he’s a senior fellow at the federally funded Washington thinktank, the US Institute of Peace (the USIP Board of Directors is packed with alumni of the defence department and the national security council; its president is Richard Solomon, former adviser to Kissinger at the NSC).
In February this year, Ziadeh joined an elite bunch of Washington hawks to sign a letter calling upon Obama to intervene in Syria: his fellow signatories include James Woolsey (former CIA chief), Karl Rove (Bush Jr’s handler), Clifford May (Committee on the Present Danger) and Elizabeth Cheney, former head of the Pentagon’s Iran-Syria Operations Group.
Ziadeh is a relentless organiser, a blue-chip Washington insider with links to some of the most powerful establishment thinktanks. Ziadeh’s connections extend all the way to London. In 2009 he became a visiting fellow at Chatham House, and in June of last year he featured on the panel at one of their events – "Envisioning Syria’s Political Future" – sharing a platform with fellow SNC spokesman Ausama Monajed (more on Monajed below) and SNC member Najib Ghadbian.
Ghadbian was identified by the Wall Street Journal as an early intermediary between the US government and the Syrian opposition in exile: "An initial contact between the White House and NSF [National Salvation Front] was forged by Najib Ghadbian, a University of Arkansas political scientist." This was back in 2005. The watershed year.
These days, Ghadbian is a member of the general secretariat of the SNC, and is on the advisory board of a Washington-based policy body called the Syrian Center for Political and Strategic Studies (SCPSS) – an organisation co-founded by Ziadeh.
Ziadeh has been making connections like this for years. Back in 2008, Ziadeh took part in a meeting of opposition figures in a Washington government building: a mini-conference called "Syria In-Transition". The meeting was co-sponsored by a US-based body called the Democracy Council and a UK-based organisation called the Movement for Justice and Development (MJD). It was a big day for the MJD – their chairman, Anas Al-Abdah, had travelled to Washington from Britain for the event, along with their director of public relations. Here, from the MJD’s website, is a description of the day: "The conference saw an exceptional turn out as the allocated hall was packed with guests from the House of Representatives and the Senate, representatives of studies centres, journalists and Syrian expatriats [sic] in the USA."
The day opened with a keynote speech by James Prince, head of the Democracy Council. Ziadeh was on a panel chaired by Joshua Muravchik (the ultra-interventionist author of the 2006 op-ed "Bomb Iran"). The topic of the discussion was "The Emergence of Organized Opposition". Sitting beside Ziadeh on the panel was the public relations director of the MJD – a man who would later become his fellow SNC spokesperson – Ausama Monajed.
Along with Kodmani and Ziadeh, Ausama (or sometimes Osama) Monajed is one of the most important SNC spokespeople. There are others, of course – the SNC is a big beast and includes the Muslim Brotherhood. The opposition to Assad is wide-ranging, but these are some of the key voices. There are other official spokespeople with long political careers, like George Sabra of the Syrian Democratic People’s party – Sabra has suffered arrest and lengthy imprisonment in his fight against the "repressive and totalitarian regime in Syria". And there are other opposition voices outside the SNC, such as the writer Michel Kilo, who speaks eloquently of the violence tearing apart his country: "Syria is being destroyed – street after street, city after city, village after village. What kind of solution is that? In order for a small group of people to remain in power, the whole country is being destroyed."
But there’s no doubt that the primary opposition body is the SNC, and Kodmani, Ziadeh and Monajed are often to be found representing it. Monajed frequently crops up as a commentator on TV news channels. , speaking from their Washington bureau. Monajed doesn’t sugar-coat his message: "We are watching civilians being slaughtered and kids being slaughtered and killed and women being raped on the TV screens every day."
Meanwhile, , Monajed talks about "what’s really happening, in reality, on the ground" – about "the militiamen of Assad" who "come and rape their women, slaughter their children, and kill their elderly".
Monajed turned up, just a few days ago, as a blogger on Huffington Post UK, where he explained, at length: "Why the World Must Intervene in Syria" – calling for "direct military assistance" and "foreign military aid". So, again, a fair question might be: who is this spokesman calling for military intervention?
Monajed is a member of the SNC, adviser to its president, and according to his SNC biography, "the Founder and Director of Barada Television", a pro-opposition satellite channel based in Vauxhall, south London. In 2008, a few months after attending Syria In-Transition conference, Monajed was back in Washington, invited to lunch with George W Bush, along with a handful of other favoured dissidents (you can see Monajed in the souvenir photo, third from the right, in the red tie, near Condoleezza Rice – up the other end from Garry Kasparov).
At this time, in 2008, the US state department knew Monajed as "director of public relations for the Movement for Justice and Development (MJD), which leads the struggle for peaceful and democratic change in Syria".
Let’s look closer at the MJD. Last year, the Washington Post picked up a story from WikiLeaks, which had published a mass of leaked diplomatic cables. These cables appear to show a remarkable flow of money from the US state department to the British-based Movement for Justice and Development. According to the Washington Post’s report: "Barada TV is closely affiliated with the Movement for Justice and Development, a London-based network of Syrian exiles. Classified US diplomatic cables show that the state department has funnelled as much as $6m to the group since 2006 to operate the satellite channel and finance other activities inside Syria."
A state department spokesman responded to this story by saying: "Trying to promote a transformation to a more democratic process in this society is not undermining necessarily the existing government." And they’re right, it’s not "necessarily" that.
When asked about the state department money, Monajed himself said that he "could not confirm" US state department funding for Barada TV, but said: "I didn’t receive a penny myself." Malik al -Abdeh, until very recently Barada TV’s editor-in-chief insisted: "we have had no direct dealings with the US state department". The meaning of the sentence turns on that word "direct". It is worth noting that Malik al Abdeh also happens to be one of the founders of the Movement for Justice and Development (the recipient of the state department $6m, according to the leaked cable). And he’s the brother of the chairman, Anas Al-Abdah. He’s also the co-holder of the MJD trademark: What Malik al Abdeh does admit is that Barada TV gets a large chunk of its funding from an American non-profit organisation: the Democracy Council. One of the co-sponsors (with the MJD) of Syria In-Transition mini-conference. So what we see, in 2008, at the same meeting, are the leaders of precisely those organisations identified in the Wiki:eaks cables as the conduit (the Democracy Council) and recipient (the MJD) of large amounts of state department money.
The Democracy Council (a US-based grant distributor) lists the state department as one of its sources of funding. How it works is this: the Democracy Council serves as a grant-administering intermediary between the state department’s "Middle East Partnership Initiative" and "local partners" (such as Barada TV).
As the Washington Post reports:
"Several US diplomatic cables from the embassy in Damascus reveal that the Syrian exiles received money from a State Department program called the Middle East Partnership Initiative. According to the cables, the State Department funnelled money to the exile group via the Democracy Council, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit."
The same report highlights a 2009 cable from the US Embassy in Syria that says that the Democracy Council received $6.3m from the state department to run a Syria-related programme, the "Civil Society Strengthening Initiative". The cable describes this as "a discrete collaborative effort between the Democracy Council and local partners" aimed at producing, amongst other things, "various broadcast concepts." According to the Washington Post: "Other cables make clear that one of those concepts was Barada TV."
Until a few months ago, the state department’s Middle East Partnership Initiative was overseen by Tamara Cofman Wittes (she’s now at the Brookings Institution – an influential Washington thinktank). Of MEPI, she said that it "created a positive ‚brand‘ for US democracy promotion efforts". While working there she declared: "There are a lot of organizations in Syria and other countries that are seeking changes from their government … That’s an agenda that we believe in and we’re going to support." And by support, she means bankroll.
This is nothing new. Go back a while to early 2006, and you have the state department announcing a new "funding opportunity" called the "Syria Democracy Program". On offer, grants worth "$5m in Federal Fiscal Year 2006". The aim of the grants? "To accelerate the work of reformers in Syria."
These days, the cash is flowing in faster than ever. At the beginning of June 2012, the Syrian Business Forum was launched in Doha by opposition leaders including Wael Merza (SNC secretary general). "This fund has been established to support all components of the revolution in Syria," said Merza. The size of the fund? Some $300m. It’s by no means clear where the money has come from, although Merza "hinted at strong financial support from Gulf Arab states for the new fund" (Al Jazeera). At the launch, Merza said that about $150m had already been spent, in part on the Free Syrian Army.
Merza’s group of Syrian businessmen made an appearance at a World Economic Forum conference titled the "Platform for International Co-operation" held in Istanbul in November 2011. All part of the process whereby the SNC has grown in reputation, to become, in the words of William Hague, "a legitimate representative of the Syrian people" – and able, openly, to handle this much funding.
Building legitimacy – of opposition, of representation, of intervention – is the essential propaganda battle.
In a USA Today op-ed written in February this year, Ambassador Dennis Ross declared: "It is time to raise the status of the Syrian National Council". What he wanted, urgently, is "to create an aura of inevitability about the SNC as the alternative to Assad." The aura of inevitability. Winning the battle in advance.
A key combatant in this battle for hearts and minds is the American journalist and Daily Telegraph blogger, Michael Weiss.
One of the most widely quoted western experts on Syria – and an enthusiast for western intervention – Michael Weiss echoes Ambassador Ross when he says: "Military intervention in Syria isn’t so much a matter of preference as an inevitability."
Some of Weiss’s interventionist writings can be found on a Beirut-based, Washington-friendly website called "NOW Lebanon" – whose "NOW Syria" section is an important source of Syrian updates. NOW Lebanon was set up in 2007 by Saatchi & Saatchi executive Eli Khoury. Khoury has been described by the advertising industry as a "strategic communications specialist, specialising in corporate and government image and brand development".
Weiss told NOW Lebanon, back in May, that thanks to the influx of weapons to Syrian rebels "we’ve already begun to see some results." He showed a similar approval of military developments a few months earlier, in a piece for the New Republic: "In the past several weeks, the Free Syrian Army and other independent rebel brigades have made great strides" – whereupon, as any blogger might, he laid out his "Blueprint for a Military Intervention in Syria".
But Weiss is not only a blogger. He’s also the director of communications and public relations at the Henry Jackson Society, an ultra-ultra-hawkish foreign policy thinktank.
The Henry Jackson Society’s international patrons include: James "ex-CIA boss" Woolsey, Michael "homeland security" Chertoff, William "PNAC" Kristol, Robert "PNAC" Kagan‘, Joshua "Bomb Iran" Muravchick, and Richard "Prince of Darkness" Perle. The Society is run by Alan Mendoza, chief adviser to the all-party parliamentary group on transatlantic and international security.
The Henry Jackson Society is uncompromising in its "forward strategy" towards democracy. And Weiss is in charge of the message. The Henry Jackson Society is proud of its PR chief’s far-reaching influence: "He is the author of the influential report "Intervention in Syria? An Assessment of Legality, Logistics and Hazards", which was repurposed and endorsed by the Syrian National Council."
Weiss’s original report was re-named "Safe Area for Syria" – and ended up on the official syriancouncil.org website, as part of their military bureau’s strategic literature. The repurposing of the HJS report was undertaken by the founder and executive director of the Strategic Research and Communication Centre (SRCC) – one Ausama Monajed.
So, the founder of Barada TV, Ausama Monajed, edited Weiss’s report, published it through his own organisation (the SRCC) and passed it on to the Syrian National Council, with the support of the Henry Jackson Society.
The relationship couldn’t be closer. Monajed even ends up handling inquiries for "press interviews with Michael Weiss". Weiss is not the only strategist to have sketched out the roadmap to this war (many thinktanks have thought it out, many hawks have talked it up), but some of the sharpest detailing is his.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights
The justification for the "inevitable" military intervention is the savagery of President Assad’s regime: the atrocities, the shelling, the human rights abuses. Information is crucial here, and one source above all has been providing us with data about Syria. It is quoted at every turn: "The head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told VOA [Voice of America] that fighting and shelling killed at least 12 people in Homs province."
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is commonly used as a standalone source for news and statistics. Just this week, news agency AFP carried this story: "Syrian forces pounded Aleppo and Deir Ezzor provinces as at least 35 people were killed on Sunday across the country, among them 17 civilians, a watchdog reported." Various atrocities and casualty numbers are listed, all from a single source: "Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP by phone."
Statistic after horrific statistic pours from "the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights" (AP). It’s hard to find a news report about Syria that doesn’t cite them. But who are they? "They" are Rami Abdulrahman (or Rami Abdel Rahman), who lives in Coventry.
According to a Reuters report in December of last year: "When he isn’t fielding calls from international media, Abdulrahman is a few minutes down the road at his clothes shop, which he runs with his wife."
When the Guardian’s Middle East live blog cited "Rami Abdul-Rahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights" it also linked to a sceptical article in the Modern Tokyo Times – an article which suggested news outlets could be a bit "more objective about their sources" when quoting "this so-called entity", the SOHR.
That name, the "Syrian Observatory of Human Rights", sound so grand, so unimpeachable, so objective. And yet when Abdulrahman and his "Britain-based NGO" (AFP/NOW Lebanon) are the sole source for so many news stories about such an important subject, it would seem reasonable to submit this body to a little more scrutiny than it’s had to date.
The Observatory is by no means the only Syrian news source to be quoted freely with little or no scrutiny …
The relationship between Ausama Monajed, the SNC, the Henry Jackson hawks and an unquestioning media can be seen in the case of Hamza Fakher. On 1 January, Nick Cohen wrote in the Observer: "To grasp the scale of the barbarism, listen to Hamza Fakher, a pro-democracy activist, who is one of the most reliable sources on the crimes the regime’s news blackout hides."
He goes on to recount Fakher’s horrific tales of torture and mass murder. Fakher tells Cohen of a new hot-plate torture technique that he’s heard about: "imagine all the melting flesh reaching the bone before the detainee falls on the plate". The following day, Shamik Das, writing on "evidence-based" progressive blog Left Foot Forward, quotes the same source: "Hamza Fakher, a pro-democracy activist, describes the sickening reality …" – and the account of atrocities given to Cohen is repeated.
So, who exactly is this "pro-democracy activist", Hamza Fakher?
Fakher, it turns out, is the co-author of Revolution in Danger , a "Henry Jackson Society Strategic Briefing", published in February of this year. He co-wrote this briefing paper with the Henry Jackson Society’s communications director, Michael Weiss. And when he’s not co-writing Henry Jackson Society strategic briefings, Fakher is the communication manager of the London-based Strategic Research and Communication Centre (SRCC). According to their website, "He joined the centre in 2011 and has been in charge of the centre’s communication strategy and products."
As you may recall, the SRCC is run by one Ausama Monajed: "Mr Monajed founded the centre in 2010. He is widely quoted and interviewed in international press and media outlets. He previously worked as communication consultant in Europe and the US and formerly served as the director of Barada Television …".
Monajed is Fakher’s boss.
If this wasn’t enough, for a final Washington twist, on the board of the Strategic Research and Communication Centre sits Murhaf Jouejati, a professor at the National Defence University in DC – "the premier center for Joint Professional Military Education (JPME)" which is "under the direction of the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff."
If you happen to be planning a trip to Monajed’s "Strategic Research and Communication Centre", you’ll find it here: Strategic Research & Communication Centre, Office 36, 88-90 Hatton Garden, Holborn, London EC1N 8PN.
Office 36 at 88-90 Hatton Garden is also where you’ll find the London headquarters of The Fake Tan Company, Supercar 4 U Limited, Moola loans (a "trusted loans company"), Ultimate Screeding (for all your screeding needs), and The London School of Attraction – "a London-based training company which helps men develop the skills and confidence to meet and attract women." And about a hundred other businesses besides. It’s a virtual office.
There’s something oddly appropriate about this. A "communication centre" that doesn’t even have a centre – a grand name but no physical substance.
That’s the reality of Hamza Fakher. On 27 May, Shamik Das of Left Foot Forward quotes again from Fakher’s account of atrocities, which he now describes as an "eyewitness account" (which Cohen never said it was) and which by now has hardened into "the record of the Assad regime".
So, a report of atrocities given by a Henry Jackson Society strategist, who is the communications manager of Mosafed’s PR department, has acquired the gravitas of a historical "record".
This is not to suggest that the account of atrocities must be untrue, but how many of those who give it currency are scrutinising its origins?
And let’s not forget, whatever destabilisation has been done in the realm of news and public opinion is being carried out twofold on the ground. We already know that (at the very least) "the Central Intelligence Agency and State Department … are helping the opposition Free Syrian Army develop logistical routes for moving supplies into Syria and providing communications training."
The bombs doors are open. The plans have been drawn up.
This has been brewing for a time. The sheer energy and meticulous planning that’s gone into this change of regime – it’s breathtaking. The soft power and political reach of the big foundations and policy bodies is vast, but scrutiny is no respecter of fancy titles and fellowships and "strategy briefings". Executive director of what, it asks. Having "democracy" or "human rights" in your job title doesn’t give you a free pass.
And if you’re a "communications director" it means your words should be weighed extra carefully. Weiss and Fakher, both communications directors – PR professionals. At the Chatham House event in June 2011, Monajed is listed as: "Ausama Monajed, director of communications, National Initiative for Change" and he was head of PR for the MJD. The creator of the news website NOW Lebanon, Eli Khoury, is a Saatchi advertising executive. These communications directors are working hard to create what Tamara Wittes called a "positive brand".
They’re selling the idea of military intervention and regime change, and the mainstream news is hungry to buy. Many of the "activists" and spokespeople representing the Syrian opposition are closely (and in many cases financially) interlinked with the US and London – the very people who would be doing the intervening. Which means information and statistics from these sources isn’t necessarily pure news – it’s a sales pitch, a PR campaign.
But it’s never too late to ask questions, to scrutinise sources. Asking questions doesn’t make you a cheerleader for Assad – that’s a false argument. It just makes you less susceptible to spin. The good news is, there’s a sceptic born every minute.
Policy= res publica
Freudenberg-Pilster* wer noch eine Alternative zu den Weihnachtsklassikern: … Der kleine Lord … Kevin – Allein zu Haus … Drei Haselnüsse für Aschenbrödel … Weihnachten bei Hoppenstedts … sucht:
… Fact-based World War II story set on Christmas Eve, 1944, finds a German Mother and her son seeking refuge in a cabin on the war front. When she is invaded by three American soldiers and then three German soldiers, she successfully convinces the soldiers to put aside their differences for one evening and share a Christmas dinner …
Jester Hairston – Marys Boy Child
Fra en koncert i Odense d. 28. april 1981
Hollywood Star Walk: http://projects.latimes.com/hollywood/star-walk/jester-hairston/
Konzert im St. Elisabeth Kloster in Minsk
Weihnachtsgrüße von der Elbe + der Spree!
****************************************************************************************************************** Politics: From Vision to Action
Barandat* Pakistan Turns to China in Energy Binge
Prime Minister Sharif tries to revive economy—and his re-election bid—with $21 billion electricity plan
KARACHI, Pakistan—When Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif came to office in 2013, rolling power outages across the country were plunging homes and businesses into darkness for up to 12 hours a day.
Now the Pakistani leader is betting on a $21 billion Chinese-backed splurge on energy projects to boost the economy—and his re-election bid.
More than 10,000 Chinese workers are now building at least 10 partly Beijing-financed energy projects across Pakistan that are set to grow the country’s energy output by 60% within two years in the first major boost to supply in two decades. Mr. Sharif’s government plans to inaugurate a nuclear plant this month and a pipeline network in January that will carry large-scale gas imports upcountry. ….(more see att.)
A Historic Settlement of Iraq’s Differences
Ammar al-Hakim, leader of Iraq’s National Alliance bloc (L), has proposed a framework to reconcile Iraq’s disparate sects and factions through compromise instead of violence — a tall order for the country
The fight for Mosul is far from finished, but Iraqi politicians are already well into planning what will come next for their country. Though organizational and funding challenges could push Iraq’s scheduled 2017 parliamentary elections off into the next year, the country’s political parties have begun to assemble their blocs. The incipient coalition-building efforts have been unusually peaceable, unwittingly keeping with the loose framework that Ammar al-Hakim, head of Iraq’s comprehensive Shiite coalition, the National Alliance bloc, laid out in October. Known as the "historic settlement," the plan provides a loose framework to reconcile Iraq’s various religious sects and political factions once the country is rid of the Islamic State, emphasizing compromise and renouncing violence. However optimistic the historic settlement may seem, Iraq’s competing parties are apparently heeding it, and they have so far limited themselves to verbal battles rather than enlisting the help of militias. Still, recent conflicts among Shiite and Kurdish political parties hint at the rivalries that will come to light as election season approaches.
Iraq has much at stake in the next round of legislative elections, regardless of when it takes place. For one thing, the Iraqi people, weary after years of violence and upheaval, have pinned their hopes on the next vote to help usher in a new era for the country. For another, the elections will be a measure of Iraq’s progress in restoring order after the bitter battle against the Islamic State. Legislative elections have long functioned as an indicator of the country’s stability. Under Saddam Hussein’s rule, Shiites and minority communities, including Kurds, were sidelined from the electoral process, which was neither free nor fair. After Saddam’s administration fell in 2003, turnout among the Sunni population dropped — to just 2 percent in Anbar province during the 2005 vote — as competing militias and al Qaeda attacked Sunni voters in an effort to discredit the elections. Though conditions improved in the 2010 and 2014 elections, neither vote was free of sectarian violence. Facing the momentous task of rebuilding the war-torn country, Iraq’s government knows that the success of the next elections will be essential to prove its stability to the international community. To that end, al-Hakim has taken his pacific plan on a tour of the Middle East to try to convince Iraq’s regional allies of the country’s future prospects and win financial support for the costly reconstruction process ahead.
The Shifting National Alliance
But already, Iraqi parties‘ differences are starting to show. Though the National Alliance is still Iraq’s main Shiite coalition, its constituent parties are competing for dominance within the bloc. Vice President Nouri al-Maliki recently discovered that his party, State of Law, is losing ground in areas where it used to command the most power. During a recent tour of Maysan, Basra and Dhi Qar provinces in southern Iraq, the former prime minister and founder of State of Law faced angry protesters, evidence of al-Maliki’s waning influence in the area. In the 2014 elections, by contrast, State of Law handily won in these provinces, securing between 32 and 40 percent of the vote in each location. Al-Maliki’s hostile reception is none too surprising, even in his former electoral strongholds. After all, he is best known today for presiding over Iraq during the Islamic State’s incursion into the country; before that, many Iraqis associated him with corruption and empowering Shiites at the expense of the country’s minority populations.
Nevertheless, he is still a powerful figure in Iraq’s political system, and his influence is far-reaching. Al-Maliki used his clout in the judicial system to regain his position as vice president after Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s anti-corruption campaigns swept him from office in 2015. Along with State of Law, which still dominates Iraq’s 328-seat parliament with 92 seats, al-Maliki also heads the Reform Front party, albeit unofficially. Earlier in the year, that party spearheaded efforts to unseat prominent ministers from Iraq’s government.
For other Shiite parties in the bloc — especially those led by Muqtada al-Sadr — State of Law’s loss could be their gain. As al-Maliki’s reputation has suffered in recent years, al-Sadr, whose supporters booed the vice president during his trip to southern Iraq, has steadily amassed influence despite his controversial past. Although the Shiite parties stand to benefit from banding together to pass legislation, they will have a hard time uniting their respective constituent pools given the deep mistrust between them.
Deepening Divides in Iraqi Kurdistan
A similar factional rivalry threatens to limit Kurdish parties‘ gains in the upcoming elections. Iraqi Kurdistan’s ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) is finding itself increasingly at odds with the autonomous region’s other political groups. Its main rival party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, for instance, has taken Baghdad’s side in a dispute over the Kurdistan Regional Government’s oil profit-sharing agreement with Iraq. In addition, a leader from the Gorran party recently criticized the KDP for its treatment of the peshmerga, provoking a backlash from the ruling party. As the rifts between the Kurdish parties widen, Arbil’s internal divisions are becoming more stark than its differences with Baghdad.
In the runup to Iraq’s next round of elections, rivalries will continue to emerge between the country’s political parties, and alliances will keep shifting. But political infighting is a dramatic departure from sectarian violence — and for the Iraqi people, a welcome one. The coalition-building process, along with the preparations for the legislative vote, will help determine whether Iraq will continue reconciling its differences politically or will fall back into its pattern of sectarian conflicts.
Rising Rates Ripple Through Mortgage Market
Experts warn homeowners of sticker shock ahead, as interest rates on adjustable-rate mortgages and home equity lines of credit are expected to creep up.
The era of ultralow mortgage rates is over.
The Federal Reserve’s decision to raise the federal-funds target rate by a quarter of a percentage point Wednesday means borrowing is about to get more expensive for consumers.
Some homeowners also will feel the pain, in particular those who signed up for home-equity lines of credit, adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) and other variable-rate loans. Interest rates on these loans tend to rise after rate increases, resulting in larger payments for borrowers.
The Fed’s rate increase is the second blow in the past five weeks for mortgage lenders and borrowers. Rates on plain-vanilla, 30-year fixed-rate mortgages have surged since Election Day by 0.76 percentage point, bringing them to an average of 4.38% on Thursday—their highest rate since April 2014, according to MortgageNewsDaily.com.
Mortgage lenders have slashed 2017 refinance-volume expectations for 2017 nearly in half, although they are banking on buyers rushing in to get mortgages before rates rise further. To keep purchase volume going, several large lenders are talking up the benefits of ARMs that feature fixed rates that are lower than a traditional 30-year mortgage for the first five or seven years.
Regular mortgage rates move in tandem with the yield on the 10-year Treasury, which has risen sharply since Election Day. The Fed rate increase will impact home-equity lines and, to a degree, ARMs.
Of course, interest rates on consumer borrowing remain very low across the board. Increases in borrowers’ payments from this week’s decision will be relatively small and for some borrowers offset by rising wages. But analysts warn that continuous rate increases of the same magnitude over the next year—a possibility that the Fed signaled—could result in home loans becoming less affordable for new borrowers and in more delinquencies among homeowners with variable-rate loans.
“This economy has gotten so conditioned to 2% and 3% mortgage rates that there is sticker shock,” said Chris Whalen, senior managing director at Kroll Bond Rating Agency Inc.
The most immediate pain on the home-loan front will be felt by homeowners shopping for home-equity lines of credit, or Helocs. These are typically used by people who want to borrow against the value of their home for renovations or other purposes.
Interest rates for these lines, which are typically variable, have already increased, says Keith Gumbinger, vice president at mortgage-information website HSH.com. Existing Heloc borrowers will see an increase in their interest rate and monthly payments within the next one to three billing cycles, he said.
That would be a second hit to some Heloc borrowers struggling to make payments. Most Helocs require interest-only payments during the first 10 years, and then principal payments kick in.
Delinquencies have been rising as millions of these loan-payment resets have been under way or are coming up.
More than 600,000 Helocs originated in 2005 were still active this past spring, in addition to more than 840,000 originated in 2006 and another nearly one million in 2007, according to Equifax. These borrowers will have to pay more as principal payments come due, while an increase in the overall interest rate will jack payments up further.
Borrowers with adjustable-rate mortgages also are likely to pay more.
ARMs are relatively rare, with about 3.4 million in existence, or only 7% of all mortgages outstanding, according to mortgage data-firm CoreLogic. Many of these loans are taken by borrowers because their lower introductory rates make it easier to afford more house, Mr. Whalen said.
“Borrowers who just barely got into that house by going with the ARM are the ones who are going to default first,” he said. As rates rise, “the cost savings they had in their pocket will disappear [and] by 2018 you’ll see a significant increase in defaults.”
ARM rates generally move in tandem with either the yield on the one-year Treasury or the one-year London interbank offered rate, or LIBOR. Both have been on the rise in recent months and will likely continue to increase on expectations of more Fed rate increases on the way, said Frank Nothaft, chief economist at CoreLogic.
The effect on borrowers will depend on what kind of ARM they have and when they signed up for it. Most ARMs have a set number of years, often five or seven, during which the rate is fixed and isn’t affected by rate increases.
Once that fixed period ends, rates on most ARMs adjust once a year based on the benchmark they are pegged to. Over the life of the loan, rates generally can’t rise by more than 6 percentage points above the initial rate borrowers received when they got the loan.
Wer in Syrien wirklich kämpft.
„In der deutschen Öffentlichkeit wird oft nicht klar, wer in Syrien gegen wen kämpft. Klar scheint nur eine Seite zu sein: Eine Allianz aus Russland, Syrien, dem Iran und der islamistischen Hisbollah. Doch gegen wen kämpft diese Allianz eigentlich?
Die Bezeichnung der Gegner des gewählten Präsidenten Baschar al-Assad reicht von „Rebellen“ über „Aufständische“ bis hin zu „Opposition“. Nun gibt es zwar im syrischen Parlament sogar eine Oppositionspartei, sie hat sogar ein Ministerium inne (das für die nationale Versöhnung). Doch die kämpfenden „Rebellen“ werden fast ausschließlich von ausländischen Regierungen und Geheimdiensten unterstützt.
In der folgenden Aufstellung beziehen wir uns fast ausschließlich auf westliche Quellen.
Aktiv in Daraa und Quneitra, berichtet Al Jazeera.
Die Gruppe wird vom Militärischen Operations Zentrum (MOC) in Amman, welches den USA untersteht, finanziert und dirigiert, berichtet die Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung.
Die BBC berichtet, dass es sich bei der Southern Front um einen Zusammenschluss diverser Gruppen mit einer Kämpferstärke von 38.000 handelt, die von der CIA unterstützt wird.
Von westlichen Vertretern wird sie als die am besten organisierte „Rebellengruppe“ umschrieben, so Reuters.
Die Southern Front wird vom ehemaligen syrischen General Baschar al-Zoubi angeführt. Al-Zoubi ist ein reicher Geschäftsmann, der sein Geld vor allem im Tourismus-Sektor verdient hat. Zudem ist er Mitglied im Al-Zoubi-Clan, so das Magazin NOW.
Al-Rahman-Legion und Dschaisch al-Islam:
Aktiv in Ost-Ghouta, im Umland von Damaskus und in Ost-Qalamoun, berichtet Asharq al-Awsat.
Die Gruppe operiert durchgehend gemeinsam mit der salafistischen Söldner-Truppe Dschaisch al-Islam. Die Al-Rahman Legion und Dschaisch al-Islam wurde von Saudi-Arabien ausgehoben und finanziert. Riad nutzt die Gruppe als Dachverband, um weitere Söldnertruppen in Syrien zu finanzieren.
„Koordinationstreffen“ hatte es in der Vergangenheit zwischen dem ehemaligen saudischen Geheimdienstchef Bandar, dem US-Botschafter in Syrien, Robert Ford, und dem Außenminister von Katar, Khaled al-Attiyeh gegeben. Die geheimen Treffen zwischen Vertretern aus Saudi-Arabien. Den USA und Katar fanden auf dem türkischen Territorium statt, berichtet der Guardian.
Die Anzahl der Kämpfer beträgt zwischen 40.000 und 70.000 Mann, berichtet die Stanford University. Der Sprecher von Dschaisch al-Islam, Mohammed Allusch, nahm al Söldner-Vertreter an den Genfer Friedensgesprächen teil, die von Allusch einseitig abgerochen wurden, berichtet Al Jazeera.
Der Gründer von Dschaisch al-Islam, Zahran Allusch, kam bei einem russischen Luftschlag ums Leben, berichtet der Guardian. Der aktuelle militärische Führer der Gruppe ist Essam al-Buwaydhani. Über al-Buwaydhani gibt es keine gesicherten Angaben.
Die Levante Front (Dschabat al-Schamiyah):
Aktiv im Norden von Syrien/Provinz Aleppo.
Die Gruppe wird sowohl von westlichen Staaten als auch von Saudi-Arabien unterstützt, berichtet Reuters. Sie hatte im Verlauf des Syrien-Kriegs US-Panzerabwehrwaffen erhalten.
Die Anzahl der Kämpfer der Gruppe liegt nach Angaben vom Medium.com bei etwa 7.000.
Der Oberkommandierende der Levante Front ist Abdelaziz Salamah. Salamah ist nach Informationen des Carnegie Middle East Centers ein „Söldner“ aus der syrischen Stadt Anadan, der zuvor andere Söldnertruppen angeführt hatte.
Nura al-Din al-Zinki:
a) Die Söldner-Truppe Nura al-Din al-Zinki ist in der Provinz Aleppo aktiv – insbesondere in den nordwestlichen Vororten der Stadt Aleppo, berichtet der Militant Leadership Monitor der Jamestown Foundation.
Die Gruppe wird finanziell und mit Waffen von den USA ausgestattet. Das Militärische Operations Zentrum (MOC) der USA spielt hier eine Schlüsselrolle, wobei die CIA den Einsatz von Geld und Material kontrollieren soll. Die Gruppe soll auch US-Panzerabwehrwaffen von der CIA und Saudi-Arabien erhalten haben, berichten der Guardian und NOW.
Nach Angaben von Medium.com soll die Gruppe über etwa 3.000 Kämpfer verfügen.
Der Oberkommandierende der Gruppe ist Scheich Tawfik Schahabuddin, so das Carnegie Middle East Center.
Mountain Hawks Brigade:
a) Die Mountain Hawks Brigade ist in der Provinz Idlib, im Nordwesten Syriens, aktiv.
b) Die Gruppe wird von den der CIA finanziell unterstützt und mit Waffen ausgestattet. Koordiniert werden ihre Aktionen vom Militärischen Operations Zentrum in der Türkei, die von westlichen und arabischen Geheimdienstmitarbeitern geführt wird, berichtet Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
Die Gruppe hat einer Kämpferstärke von 1.000 Personen, so das Magazin Medium.com.
Der Oberkommandierende der Söldner-Truppe ist Hassan Haj Ali, ein ehemaliger Hauptmann der syrischen Armee. Trainiert werden die Kämpfer der Gruppe in Katar und Saudi-Arabien, so Radio Free Liberty/Radio Europe.
Die Mountain Hawks Brigade hat bisher gemeinsam mit der Al-Nusra-Front und Ahrar al-Scham gegen die syrische Armee gekämpft.
Die 13. Division:
Die 13. Division ist vor allem in der Provinz Idlib aktiv, berichtet der Business Insider.
Sie wird von Katar und Saudi-Arabien finanziert, berichtet Al Jazeera.
Die Gruppe Dschaisch al-Nasr ist in der Provinz Hama und Idlib aktiv.
Nach Angaben des Middle East Eye wird Dschaisch al-Nasr von der CIA bewaffnet und unterstützt.
Oberkommandierender der Gruppe ist Major Mohamed al-Mansour, berichtet RFS North. Al-Mansour ist ein Deserteur der syrischen Armee.
Dschaisch al-Nasr hat 3.000 Kämpfer. Die Gruppe wird vom Westen unterstützt und schoss in März 2016 einen syrischen Kampfjet mit einer Luftabwehrwaffe ab, berichtet die L.A. Times.
Die Northern Division ist in den Provinzen Idlib, Hama und Aleppo aktiv.
Die Northern Division gehört zu den Söldner-Truppen, die von der CIA bewaffnet und unterstützt werden. Die CIA hatte die Gruppe unter anderem mit Panzerabwehrwaffen beliefert, berichtet The Daily Mail.
Die Gruppe hat eine Kampfstärke von 3.250 Personen, so das Magazin Medium.com.
First Coastal Division:
Die First Coastal Division ist in den Provinzen Idlib und Latakia aktiv.
Die Gruppe gehört ebenfalls zu den von der CIA unterstützten Söldner-Truppen, berichtet das Wall Street Journal. Sie hatte zuvor US-Panzerabwehrwaffen erhalten, so Stratfor. Oberkommandierender der First Coastal Division ist Generalmajor Muhammad Haj Ali.
Haj Ali ist der hochrangigste Deserteur der syrischen Armee, der sich den Söldner-Truppen angeschlossen hat. Er hat an der Nasser-Akademie in Ägypten promoviert, berichtet Al Araby.
Die First Coastal Division verfügt über schätzungsweise 2.800 Kämpfer, so Medium.com.
The Sham Legion/Faylaq al-Sham:
Die Sham Legion ist in Homs, Hama, Idlib und Aleppo aktiv.
Die Sham Legion wird von den USA unterstützt, berichtet das russische Militärportal South Front.
Allerdings nahmen sie auch an der Operation Euphrats Shield teil, was dazu führte dass die von den USA unterstützten Kurden-Milizen die Gruppe im Norden Syriens angriffen. Die Söldner-Gruppe beschäftigt sich aktuell mit den Kurden-Milizen im Norden Syriens, berichtet die New York Times. Zuvor hatte sie fast ausschließlich gegen die syrische Armee gekämpft.
Die Gruppe verfügt über 4.000 Kämpfer, berichtet Medium.com.
Chef der Gruppe ist Mondher Saras, berichtet Carnegie. Über Saras gibt es keine öffentlich zugänglichen Informationen.
Die Söldner-Truppe Ahrar al-Scham ist vor allem in der Provinz Idlib aktiv.
Sie gehört zu den Söldner-Gruppen, die von der CIA unterstützt werden, berichtet The International Reporter. Nach Informationen des russischen Staatssenders Sputnik News soll auch Saudi-Arabien die Gruppe finanziell unterstützen. Al-Masdar News umschreibt die Gruppe als eine vom „Westen“ unterstützte Gruppe.
Ihr aktueller Kommandeur ist Abu Yahya al-Hamawi, ein Ingenieur aus Hama, der an der Tishreen Universität studiert hatte, berichtet Joshua Landis auf seiner Webseite. Allerdings soll Abu Ammar al-Ommar die Führung von Ahrar al-Scham übernehmen, berichtet AP. Al-Omar gilt als Hardliner, der eine Feuerpause mit der syrischen Armee ablehnt, berichtet Alalam.
Ahrar al-Scham hat eine Kämpferstärke von 15.000 Personen, so Medium.com.
Al-Nusra-Front (Fatah al-Scham):
Die Al-Nusra-Front ist hauptsächlich in den Provinzen Idlib und Deir-Ezzor aktiv.
Nach Recherchen des britischen Journalisten Peter Oborne unterstützen die USA und Großbritannien die Al-Nusra-Front – ein syrischer Al-Qaida-Ableger – und zahlreiche andere Söldner-Truppen in Syrien. Das geht aus der Dokumentation „The Report“ des BBC Radio hervor. Die USA und die Al-Nusra-Front seien auf derselben Seite, wenn es um die Bekämpfung von Präsident Baschar al-Assad geht.
Der aktuelle Oberkommandeur der Al-Nusra-Front ist Abu Mohammed al-Julani, so die BBC. Al-Julani ist gebürtiger Syrer. Er hatte sich zuvor im Irak Al-Qaida angeschlossen und war Inhaftierter im Camp Bucca, berichtet Orient News.
Die Al-Nusra-Front hat 12.000 Kämpfer berichtet Medium.com
Spezialfall MI6 im Syrien-Krieg:
Nach dem Sturz Gaddafis richteten der MI6 und die CIA eine „Rat Line“ von Libyen nach Syrien ein. Es wurden Waffen und Kämpfer nach Syrien verschoben, um Assad zu stürzen.
Briten und Franzosen trainierten Rebellen der Freien Syrischen Armee und waren auf einem türkischen Stützpunkt stationiert. Die Rebellen sollen unter anderem im Nordlibanon und in Teilen von Libyen stattgefunden haben, berichtet die Militärwebseite UK Elite & Special Forces.
Die Asia Times berichtet, dass der MI6 und der französische DGSE die Rebellen in der türkischen Region Hatay und im libyschen Tripoli trainiert haben soll.
Hinzu kommt, dass der MI6 gemeinsam mit dem CIA und französischen Ausbildern, Rebellen gegen Syrien in Jordanien trainiert und bewaffnet, so der Guardian.
Martyrs of Islam Brigade/ Liwa’ Shuhada al-Islam:
Diese Gruppe ist in den Vororten von Damaskus/Daraya aktiv. Sie ist die größte Söldner-Truppe in Daraya, berichtet Orient News.
Zwischen 2012 und 2016 hatte die Gruppe US-Panzerabwehrwaffen von der CIA erhalten, berichtet die Webseite Democratic Revolution, Syrian Style. Die Nutzung von US-Panzerabwehrwaffen geht auch aus Videos der Truppe hervor.
Der militärische Führer der Söldner-Truppe ist Hauptmann Saeed Enker. Er sagte Orient News, dass seine Truppe künftig die Gruppen in Idlib im Kampf gegen Assad unterstützen werde.
Medium.com berichtet, dass die Gruppe über 1.000 Kämpfer verfügt.
Islamic Muthanna Movement/ Harakat al-Muthanna al-Islamiya:
Diese Gruppe ist in der Provinz Daraa aktiv.
Der Verbündete des Islamic Muthanna Movement ist die Terror-Miliz ISIS (Liwa Shuhada’ al-Yarmouk). Die Finanzierung der Gruppe ist intransparent. Nach Angaben des arabischen Journalisten Nabegh Soror soll die Gruppe in ihren Anfängen finanzielle Hilfen von einer Person aus den Golf-Staaten erhalten haben, die sich als Geheimdienstmitarbeiter präsentierte. Später jedoch stellte sich heraus, dass es sich bei der Person um eine Privatperson handelte, berichtet Zaman al Wasl.
Die Organisation gilt auch als Vermittler zwischen diversen Islamisten-Truppen, so Zaman al Wasl.
Oberkommandierender und „Emir“ der Gruppe ist Abu Ayyup, über den wenig bekannt ist, berichtet Al Jazeera.
Die Gruppe hat 2.000 Kämpfer, berichtet Medium.com
Sultan Murat Brigade:
Die Sultan Murat Brigade operiert in der Provinz Aleppo.
Die Gruppe wird von der Türkei unterstützt und wirkt bei der Operation Euphrates Shield mit.
Ihre Kommandeure sind Oberst Ahmet Othman Fehim Isa, berichtet Voice of America.
Die Gruppe hat 1.000 Kämpfer, die hauptsächlich Turkmenen sind, so Medium.com. Die Gruppe gehört dem militärischen Dachverband Turkmenische Armee Syrien (STO) an.
Turkmenische Armee Syrien (STO):
Die STO wurde im August 2012 gegründet. Sie ist in Latakia, Aleppo, Idlib, Homs und Hama aktiv, berichtet Turkomania.org.
Die STO wird von der Türkei unterstützt. Der politische Arm der Truppe ist das Syrisch-Turkmenische Parlament mit ihrem Hauptsitz in Istanbul und weiteren Vertretungen in Gaziantep und Yayladag.
Der Gründer und Kommandeur der Söldner-Truppe ist Oberst Abu Bakir Muhammed Abbas, der ein Deserteur der syrischen Armee ist, berichtet Haberler.
Die türkische Zeitung Yeni Safak berichtet, dass die STO über 5.000 Kämpfer verfügt.
see our letter on: http://www.massenbach-world.de/41259.html
*Herausgegeben von Udo von Massenbach, Bärbel Freudenberg-Pilster, Joerg Barandat*