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Theresa May Is Wading Into a Dangerous Sectarian Conflict
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The British Government’s fawning on the absolute monarchs of the Gulf, whose authority is enforced by beheadings, lashings and the torture chamber, is at once contemptible and pathetic. It is a measure of Britain’s decline as a great power that it is only in tiny, toxic, sectarian Bahrain, where Sunni rulers suppress the Shia majority, that Theresa May can expect a regal reception.

May added her own few drops of venom to the raging sectarian warfare between Sunni and Shia in the region by targeting Iran. She said she was “clear-eyed” about the Iranian threat to an audience of largely fundamentalist Sunni Gulf leaders for whom the words “Iran” and “Shia” are demonic and interchangeable.

In Bahrain, the monarchy blamed the peaceful democratic uprising during the Arab Spring in 2011 on a deep-laid Iranian plot.

I spoke later the same year to doctors who had worked in a hospital in central Manama, the Bahraini capital, where they had treated injured protesters. After the demonstrations were crushed with the backing of Saudi troops, the doctors had been savagely tortured for using a complex piece of medical equipment that the Bahraini security forces had convinced themselves was the means by which Iran gave the protesters their instructions. It is this type of paranoia that May is feeding, though an independent inquiry found no evidence of Iranian involvement in the protest movement.

Downing Street’s rebuttal of Boris Johnson’s demonstrably correct view that Saudi Arabia wages “proxy wars” in the Middle East is equally mendacious. Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have taken a leading role in funding and supplying weapons to extreme jihadi insurgents in Syria, as US leaders – including President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, supplemented by leaked documents – have made clear.

The Saudi intervention in Yemen, where airstrikes have devastated a country of 25 million people, differs only from its other interventions in that the Saudi role is overt and the suffering even more massive.

The humiliating and discreditable British posture in the Gulf is presumably a desperate attempt to find new allies in the run-up to Brexit. This might seem to be a good moment to do so, since the winners and losers in the wars that have engulfed Syria and Iraq over the last five years are becoming apparent. The only surprising aspect of the British initiative is that we seem, as we did in Iraq and Afghanistan, to be joining the losing side.

It is a moment of decision in Syria as the Syrian Army and its allies are close to overrunning east Aleppo, the last big urban enclave of the armed opposition. Their victory means that President Bashar al-Assad will stay in power, something that his many enemies were prone to discount until recently. Touchingly out of date with these developments on the battlefield, British policy remains that Assad must go before political progress is possible.

A similarly decisive moment has arrived in Iraq, though the security forces are making slower progress than in Aleppo in driving Isis from Mosul east of the Tigris River. Isis is deploying mobile squads of experienced fighters hidden in a vast network of tunnels backed up by hundreds of suicide bombers, snipers and mortar teams. The Iraqi security forces have lost almost 2,000 soldiers in November, according to the UN, but the superior firepower and numbers of the Iraqi government backed by the US-led air coalition are likely to overwhelm Isis in the long-run.

The victories of Assad and the Baghdad government will determine the political landscape of the Middle East for decades to come. The wars have been so long and so savage because Syria and Iraq have provided the battlefield on which more than half a dozen powers have fought out their differences. Since the second half of 2011, the advance and retreat of all sides in Syria has been determined by how much support they could get from their outside backers – Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar for the insurgents and Russia, Iran, Iraq and Hezbollah for Assad – in terms of men, money, arms, ammunition and airstrikes.

It is a regional war and its outcome will affect the whole area from Pakistan to Nigeria, as well as being a sectarian conflict, primarily but not exclusively between Sunni and Shia, which impacts on all the 1.6 billion Muslims in the world.

But how can we be sure that we are seeing a turning point in such a complex battle involving so many players with such divergent interests?

Isis and the armed opposition in Syria, led by Jabhat al-Nusra, formerly the al-Qaeda affiliate, fight quasi-guerrilla campaigns in which the loss or gain of territory does not necessarily tell one who is winning. The crucial change in the battle for east Aleppo is essentially political. Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham and the core fighting units have received little help, verbal or physical, from their former sponsors in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. If these three did not support the rebels while they still held east Aleppo, it is unlikely that they will do so after the rebels have lost it.

The romantic image of heroic guerrillas standing alone anywhere in the world has always understated the degree to which they depend on outside powers. Possibly, the Turks and Saudis could sustain low level guerrilla warfare against Assad for a long time, but they would risk retaliation from victorious governments on the Shia side.

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Foremost among the losers in this war are the Sunni Arab communities in Iraq and Syria, who have been defeated in their long struggle for power with the Shia and Kurds. Syrian exiles and their media sympathisers play down the sectarian and ethnic nature of the conflict, just as the Shia and Kurdish exiled opposition from Iraq did before the US-led invasion of 2003 in order to lure the US into overthrowing Saddam Hussein. “We are going to be the new Palestinians,” a young Sunni journalist from the city of Ramadi in Iraq lamented to me, shortly before 70 per cent his city was destroyed by US airstrikes and Iraqi Army artillery.

Iran is a winner in this historic conflict so far. It was the essential ally of Assad from 2011 to 2015, when Russia intervened militarily with its air force. The fear of extermination by Isis and al-Qaeda clones forced Shia communities together, including those with very different theologies. Overall, Iranian and Russian determination to support Assad was always deeper than that of the opposing alliance of Sunni states led by Turkey and Saudi Arabia, which replaced Qatar as the principal foreign backer of the Syrian insurgents in 2013.

Russia has re-established itself as a great power, if not a superpower, through the Syrian war. This was an ideal conflict for Moscow because Assad was always stronger and his domestic opponents weaker than they looked. President Putin did not have to deploy enormous resources to make a decisive difference. Though Putin is much demonised in the West, the enthusiasm of Western governments to get rid of Assad has ebbed steadily, as it became clear that the only alternative to him was Isis or Nusra.

Governments and public in the Middle East tend to exaggerate or understate American power in the region. In reality, the US position remains strong, with every Iraqi unit approaching Mosul including a US soldier calling in airstrikes while, behind the scenes, the US is orchestrating the logistics for the entire operation. In Syria, the US military alliance with the Kurdish paramilitaries has been highly effective in driving back Isis and closing the border with Turkey.

British officials and diplomats seem to lose their sense of what is achievable. Just over a year ago David Cameron announced that Britain was joining the war against Isis in Syria with all the brio of Henry V landing in France before the battle of Agincourt. The following nine months produced just 65 airstrikes by the RAF, which lacks identifiable targets and allies on the ground. As in Iraq in 2002, Afghanistan in 2006 and Libya in 2011, British high ambitions to be more influential in the Gulf will be thwarted by limited knowledge and inadequate resources.

(Republished from The Independent by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Britain, Saudi Arabia, Shias and Sunnis, Syria 
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  1. The only surprising aspect of the British initiative is that we seem, as we did in Iraq and Afghanistan, to be joining the losing side.

    Why is that remotely surprising when you consider that these are the geniuses who thought that Iraq in 2003 and Libya in 2011 were great ideas, and even with those colossal disasters still hanging, bleeding right in front of their eyes thought it would be another jolly jape to do the same to Syria in 2013 as had been done to Libya?

    No act of treasonous folly would surprise me from these jokers, provided it kept them firmly on the side of the gravy train – the US establishment, Arab oil and Israeli “influence”.

    Theresa May Is Wading Into a Dangerous Sectarian Conflict

    In fairness to May she’s just continuing the British establishment’s folly, not striking out in a new direction of stupidity. It was the Cameron regime that allowed the Bahraini regime to tie Britain into the wrong side of a regional conflict that we ought to be running a mile from by oh-so-generously “helping” us build a naval base at Mina Salman.

    On the one hand you could say it’s clever of them to spend money to commit us to their side. On the other, how clever is it really to take advantage of such obvious halfwits?

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  2. Here’s a more dangerous sectarian conflict: Postmodern western leftists vs normal human beings

    If May is actually a rightist, then she should start fighting that war, in her own country.

    Read More
    • Replies: @E. A. Costa
    "Postmodern" is a Capitalist con job.

    "Normal" too.

    "Human beings"? In terms of, say, a human race, the idea first appears in the West among the Greeks and Romans, in the East in Confucius whose tian xia yi jia in one place is also applied to barbarians.
    , @dfordoom

    Here’s a more dangerous sectarian conflict: Postmodern western leftists vs normal human beings.

    If May is actually a rightist, then she should start fighting that war, in her own country.
     
    She's just another globalist. They don't tend to have much time for normal human beings. In fact normal human beings scare them.
  3. O, for the days when a British prime minister confronting a dangerous sectarian conflict referred to the Gordon riots!

    Not that I want them again, either, of course.

    Pax vobiscum,
    RSDB

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  4. “The humiliating and discreditable British posture in the Gulf is presumably a desperate attempt to find new allies in the run-up to Brexit. ”

    This barking mad whackjob really has a thing about Brexit, doesn’t he? The UK’s supine position hasn’t changed in decades.”

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  5. Want:

    It is a regional war and its outcome will affect the whole area from Pakistan to Nigeria, as well as being a sectarian conflict, primarily but not exclusively between Sunni and Shia, which impacts on all the 1.6 billion Muslims in the world.

    btw, What happened to “from Morocco to Mindanao”?

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  6. “The humiliating and discreditable British posture in the Gulf is presumably a desperate attempt to find new allies in the run-up to Brexit. ”

    My dear fellow, how clumsy and politically illiterate, even about the country next to County Cork, can you get? It is a long-standing policy.

    One need only introduce one probant name: TONY BLAIR.

    Though of course there are many more.

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  7. @Jason Liu
    Here's a more dangerous sectarian conflict: Postmodern western leftists vs normal human beings

    If May is actually a rightist, then she should start fighting that war, in her own country.

    “Postmodern” is a Capitalist con job.

    “Normal” too.

    “Human beings”? In terms of, say, a human race, the idea first appears in the West among the Greeks and Romans, in the East in Confucius whose tian xia yi jia in one place is also applied to barbarians.

    Read More
  8. The Revolutionary Forces of Syria (RFS) media office, a major Syrian opposition media outfit and frequent source of information for Western media, is funded by the British government and is managed by Westerners operating out of Turkey, according to emails provided to AlterNet by a Middle East reporter RFS tried to recruit.
    RFS’s videos and hashtags are regularly picked up by major Western media outlets. One of its videos has even been cited by human rights groups as evidence of Russian war crimes.
    The money began flowing after the British parliament voted against bombing the Syrian government in late 2013. (RFS Media launched in December 2013 in both English and Arabic.)

    http://airwww.alternet.org/grayzone-project/british-government-funded-outlet-offered-us-journalist-17000-month-produce

    May is making sure that she is worthy of what she has been tasked to do.

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  9. May sees how the last three PMs became multi-millionaires many times over by bowing, kissing, scraping, and sucking up to the monarchs of the ME, so why should we begrudge her for wanting some for herself?

    Could it be that BoJo is the PM the Brits should have wshed for?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Sean
    Nasser buoyed by Suez debacle by invading Yemen allowed Col. Stirling of SAS fame to re-invent the modern British economy.

    BBC documentary about how allowed Col. Stirling of SAS fame to re-invent the modern British economy.
    The Mayfair Set episode 1- Who Pays Wins
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=234H8X1-JiA

    Britain's support is as worthless as the armaments it sold to the Saudi ect . What does it matter if May humors Arabs silly enough to value Britain for anything more that casinos, blonde blue eyed (east European whores), and a part of London to drive their super-cars around. May wants to hold onto the only advanced fracturing Britain has left.

  10. @The Alarmist
    May sees how the last three PMs became multi-millionaires many times over by bowing, kissing, scraping, and sucking up to the monarchs of the ME, so why should we begrudge her for wanting some for herself?

    Could it be that BoJo is the PM the Brits should have wshed for?

    Nasser buoyed by Suez debacle by invading Yemen allowed Col. Stirling of SAS fame to re-invent the modern British economy.

    BBC documentary about how allowed Col. Stirling of SAS fame to re-invent the modern British economy.
    The Mayfair Set episode 1- Who Pays Wins

    Britain’s support is as worthless as the armaments it sold to the Saudi ect . What does it matter if May humors Arabs silly enough to value Britain for anything more that casinos, blonde blue eyed (east European whores), and a part of London to drive their super-cars around. May wants to hold onto the only advanced fracturing Britain has left.

    Read More
    • Replies: @The Alarmist
    The problem is that even though the Brits are generally America's bitch, they do from time to time exert outsized influence on the direction our foreign policy takes. So, in London the other day, one of my Brit colleagues starts droning on about how horrible the Aleppo situation is and how we in the West have a duty to do something about it. She was a bit surprised when I asked what we are going to do about the slaughter in Mosul, since she toted the BBC propaganda line that the West is doing God's work there and the slaughter of innocents hardly gets airplay since it is munitions from the free world that seem to be doing most of the killing both there and Aleppo.

    Syria wouldn't be the hell-hole it is if the US and UK had not been doing the bidding of their Saudi and Bahraini masters by supporting terrorists groups trying to oust Assad to their benefit.
  11. @Jason Liu
    Here's a more dangerous sectarian conflict: Postmodern western leftists vs normal human beings

    If May is actually a rightist, then she should start fighting that war, in her own country.

    Here’s a more dangerous sectarian conflict: Postmodern western leftists vs normal human beings.

    If May is actually a rightist, then she should start fighting that war, in her own country.

    She’s just another globalist. They don’t tend to have much time for normal human beings. In fact normal human beings scare them.

    Read More
  12. What Britain’s Prime Ministers forget both sides, is that EVERY Al Qaeda, Every Al Nusra Front Every ISIS terrorist is a SUNNI. In fact they are even more select than that they are Wahhabi Sunni or Salafist Sunnis and Wahhabism is the official religious doctrine of the Saudi Royal family.

    Has anyone else noticed that before the US started its regime change in the various countries in the Middle east the women were better off, Afghanistan in the Seventies before the US started to fund the Mujahadeen in Charlie Wilsons War, women could wear denim jeans and have long flowing hair in the markets of kabul, Little girls could safely go off to school, now they get their heads blown off! Same in Iraq, and just how many people were fleeing from Assad’s Syria five years ago before the US started their regime change there by funding their MODERATE insurgents AKA Al Nusra Front formerly known to you and me as Al Qaeda in Iraq and whence came ISIS a short time later (ironically just after Senator John McCain visited them in Syria). So just who was responsible for the Massive Refugee problem in Europe considering very few left Syria up to 2010 and millions left in the last few years. we mustn’t forget Libya here either, same thing, Al Nusra was the US favored and funded moderate insurgent group and Britain’s Prime Ministers were most definitely on board there. In fact every European NATO nation no body vetoed the plan, bet you they would today in a heartbeat now that they know the refugee disaster it unleashed! Well maybe not the US it doesn’t affect them, and by the way you wonder WHY the refugees come to Europe and want to get in as far as possible Britain Germany Central France etc because there is NO chance NATO or the US is going to bomb them there!

    The whole mess of the Middle East is the wholesale interference of the region from WWI through to the Iranian Regime change for British Petroleum in the early 50s, Egypt, Afghanistan in the seventies, Israel, Lebanon, Iran again, Kuwait, Iraq, Libya Syria the lot! Every where you look interference, where is the safest place to be but Europe so guess where they all are going!
    ,

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  13. @Sean
    Nasser buoyed by Suez debacle by invading Yemen allowed Col. Stirling of SAS fame to re-invent the modern British economy.

    BBC documentary about how allowed Col. Stirling of SAS fame to re-invent the modern British economy.
    The Mayfair Set episode 1- Who Pays Wins
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=234H8X1-JiA

    Britain's support is as worthless as the armaments it sold to the Saudi ect . What does it matter if May humors Arabs silly enough to value Britain for anything more that casinos, blonde blue eyed (east European whores), and a part of London to drive their super-cars around. May wants to hold onto the only advanced fracturing Britain has left.

    The problem is that even though the Brits are generally America’s bitch, they do from time to time exert outsized influence on the direction our foreign policy takes. So, in London the other day, one of my Brit colleagues starts droning on about how horrible the Aleppo situation is and how we in the West have a duty to do something about it. She was a bit surprised when I asked what we are going to do about the slaughter in Mosul, since she toted the BBC propaganda line that the West is doing God’s work there and the slaughter of innocents hardly gets airplay since it is munitions from the free world that seem to be doing most of the killing both there and Aleppo.

    Syria wouldn’t be the hell-hole it is if the US and UK had not been doing the bidding of their Saudi and Bahraini masters by supporting terrorists groups trying to oust Assad to their benefit.

    Read More
  14. Assad the Elder started it by using (Shia) Hezbollah to force the Israelis out of Beirut and then blow up hundreds of US Marines. Assad was triumphant having defeated the Americans and drove them out.

    Then in the aftermath of the US invasion of Iraqi Assad’s son, convinced the US was planning to overthrow all Arab states, used the suicide bombing proxy tactic again. But the suicide bombing proxies Assad was using (it is a fact the vast majority of suicide bombings in Iraq were by foreigners coming through Basher Assad’s good graces and country) turned against Sunni who were not slow to retaliate. Then the Sunni radicalism came back to bite Assad in the arse. That is how the war against Assad got started. The US could have taken out Assad quite easily, they didn’t want to do it. The majority of Syrians will not stop fighting the Assad dictatorship, because it is a murderous regime most people in the country have a blood feud with.

    Read More
    • Replies: @5371
    [Then in the aftermath of the US invasion of Iraqi Assad’s son, convinced the US was planning to overthrow all Arab states, used the suicide bombing proxy tactic again ... That is how the war against Assad got started]

    Let me tell you how dis really went down, herp derp ...

    [The US could have taken out Assad quite easily, they didn’t want to do it]

    Dem grapes were sour anyway ...

    [The majority of Syrians will not stop fighting the Assad dictatorship, because it is a murderous regime most people in the country have a blood feud with.]

    The Black Knight always triumphs! I'm invincible! Come back here you yellow bastard, I'll bite your legs off!
  15. @Sean
    Assad the Elder started it by using (Shia) Hezbollah to force the Israelis out of Beirut and then blow up hundreds of US Marines. Assad was triumphant having defeated the Americans and drove them out.

    Then in the aftermath of the US invasion of Iraqi Assad's son, convinced the US was planning to overthrow all Arab states, used the suicide bombing proxy tactic again. But the suicide bombing proxies Assad was using (it is a fact the vast majority of suicide bombings in Iraq were by foreigners coming through Basher Assad's good graces and country) turned against Sunni who were not slow to retaliate. Then the Sunni radicalism came back to bite Assad in the arse. That is how the war against Assad got started. The US could have taken out Assad quite easily, they didn't want to do it. The majority of Syrians will not stop fighting the Assad dictatorship, because it is a murderous regime most people in the country have a blood feud with.

    [Then in the aftermath of the US invasion of Iraqi Assad’s son, convinced the US was planning to overthrow all Arab states, used the suicide bombing proxy tactic again ... That is how the war against Assad got started]

    Let me tell you how dis really went down, herp derp …

    [The US could have taken out Assad quite easily, they didn’t want to do it]

    Dem grapes were sour anyway …

    [The majority of Syrians will not stop fighting the Assad dictatorship, because it is a murderous regime most people in the country have a blood feud with.]

    The Black Knight always triumphs! I’m invincible! Come back here you yellow bastard, I’ll bite your legs off!

    Read More
    • Replies: @Sean
    Assad sowed the seeds of his own destruction with his terrorist tactics, for instance Syria's 007 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindawi_affair#Background

    Another Mossad plot no doubt

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1983_Beirut_barracks_bombings
    Lebanese author Hala Jaber claims that Iran and Syria helped organize the bombing which was run by two Lebanese Shia, Imad Mughniyah and Mustafa Badr Al Din:
    Imad Mughniyeh and Mustafa Badr Al Din took charge of the Syrian–Iranian backed operation. Mughniyeh had been a highly trained security man with the PLO's Force 17 . . . Their mission was to gather information and details about the American embassy and draw up a plan that would guarantee the maximum impact and leave no trace of the perpetrator. Meetings were held at the Iranian embassy in Damascus. They were usually chaired by the ambassador, Hojatoleslam Ali-Akbar Mohtashemi, who played an instrumental role in founding Hezbollah. In consultation with several senior Syrian intelligence officers, the final plan was set in motion. The vehicle and explosives were prepared in the Bekaa Valley which was under Syrian control.[114]

     

    Assad used Lebanese Shia and Iranians his cat's paw, but the bomb came from the Syrian- controlled Bekka valley . Assad sowed the seeds of his own regime's destruction with his terrorist tactics, or maybe he thought Syria, a creature of Russia and originally more a creation of Russia than Britain and France according to Professor McMeekin, was a natural entity that was immune to Civil war. Basharr Assad war was certainly stupid enough to believe the that crap because he put up the price of basic necessities for the common people up and had the former Lebanese prime minister blown up; he thought the regime was untouchable .
  16. @5371
    [Then in the aftermath of the US invasion of Iraqi Assad’s son, convinced the US was planning to overthrow all Arab states, used the suicide bombing proxy tactic again ... That is how the war against Assad got started]

    Let me tell you how dis really went down, herp derp ...

    [The US could have taken out Assad quite easily, they didn’t want to do it]

    Dem grapes were sour anyway ...

    [The majority of Syrians will not stop fighting the Assad dictatorship, because it is a murderous regime most people in the country have a blood feud with.]

    The Black Knight always triumphs! I'm invincible! Come back here you yellow bastard, I'll bite your legs off!

    Assad sowed the seeds of his own destruction with his terrorist tactics, for instance Syria’s 007 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindawi_affair#Background

    Another Mossad plot no doubt

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1983_Beirut_barracks_bombings
    Lebanese author Hala Jaber claims that Iran and Syria helped organize the bombing which was run by two Lebanese Shia, Imad Mughniyah and Mustafa Badr Al Din:
    Imad Mughniyeh and Mustafa Badr Al Din took charge of the Syrian–Iranian backed operation. Mughniyeh had been a highly trained security man with the PLO’s Force 17 . . . Their mission was to gather information and details about the American embassy and draw up a plan that would guarantee the maximum impact and leave no trace of the perpetrator. Meetings were held at the Iranian embassy in Damascus. They were usually chaired by the ambassador, Hojatoleslam Ali-Akbar Mohtashemi, who played an instrumental role in founding Hezbollah. In consultation with several senior Syrian intelligence officers, the final plan was set in motion. The vehicle and explosives were prepared in the Bekaa Valley which was under Syrian control.[114]

    Assad used Lebanese Shia and Iranians his cat’s paw, but the bomb came from the Syrian- controlled Bekka valley . Assad sowed the seeds of his own regime’s destruction with his terrorist tactics, or maybe he thought Syria, a creature of Russia and originally more a creation of Russia than Britain and France according to Professor McMeekin, was a natural entity that was immune to Civil war. Basharr Assad war was certainly stupid enough to believe the that crap because he put up the price of basic necessities for the common people up and had the former Lebanese prime minister blown up; he thought the regime was untouchable .

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  17. Sharon asked Bush to attack Syria day after Iraq Israel told Bush and US that WMD had moved to Syria Perle and Wolfowitz echoed the demands and the charges . Very soon OSP started cataloguing Syrian infractions Cheney Feith Abrams and Cohen and from media Krauthammer and Kristol were pushing for war against Syria
    Israel started bombing Syria
    Israel murdered Lebanese leader and blamed it on Syria by working with its paid men and putting them in UN commission

    Then was added the “redirection” of Bush Ceney Feith Abrams gang when they saw that the war in Iraq was not going well They wanted to create a sectarian fight and divert the resistance to Israel and US to different turf .

    Now go and re edit your Wikipedia

    Read More
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