"A strong Russia is good for Europe!"

Johann Gudenus was born and raised in Vienna, Austria. He is the Vice Chairman of the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ).

Johann Gudenus was born and raised in Vienna, Austria. He is the Vice Chairman of the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ).

Mr. Gudenus, you are considered as an Russia expert and a friend of Moscow. Where does this new - perhaps old - fear of Russia come from?

Gudenus: The fear is still based on the stereotypes of the Cold War, sometimes even on the experiences from the Second World War.

The Second World War ended in 1945 and the Cold War in 1989...

Gudenus: But the anti-Russian sentiments are still very easy to reactivate, as we can see. What is interesting is that all liberal and left media currently agitating loudly against Moscow are precisely the ones who like to accuse others to be prejudiced or xenophobic.

Whose interest does the fear of Russia serve?

Gudenus: Clearly not Europe's interest. Us Europeans associate with Russia much more than, for example, with the United States. Given the anti-Russian media storm one would perhaps not think that, but it is so. So we should ask: Whose interest, therefore, Europe and Russia not moving closer together serve? It is not hard to answer: Washington wants to prevent this at all costs.

Critics would accuse you now to be "anti-American"...

Gudenus: What a load of nonsense. These are simply facts. In terms of anti-Russian propaganda, the U.S. pushes the tempo. We constantly hear: All evil comes from Moscow, Russia is not a democracy but a dictatorship, Vladimir Putin is a dictator, etc. The fact that so many European media and politicians simply parroting this makes it very questionable. So they try to keep public opinion in line. No current anti-Russian resentment seems too cheap, not to be spread by Western mainstream media.

Isn’t the fear of Russia an important livelihood for the NATO?

Gudenus: Absolutely. The fear of Moscow clouds perception. Russia is not moving around the world with troop contingents to destabilize countries and overthrow governments. The Americans operate with the help of NATO and unfortunately also with the help of our governments.

Nevertheless, the fear of Russia in the 1990’s hardly played any role - until Putin brought it back. What is so scary about the Russian president?

Gudenus: Vladimir Putin took over an ailing country which was in the hands of pro Western oligarchs. Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin after him had sold out the country. Russia was in a complete desolate state in the 1990’s. Yeltsin was not only controlled by oligarchs, politically he was a puppet of the West. In Moscow the joke was at that time to point to the U.S. Embassy instead of the Kremlin when asked where Russia is ruled from. That speaks volumes. Putin has put the country back on its feet and consolidated Russia. He disciplined a large part of the oligarchs. This is not well received in Washington and Brussels at all.

You speak Russian fluently, you have attended university in Moscow and a large part of your circle of friends consists of Russians. How do they think of the campaigns in Europe?

Gudenus: Since the crisis in Ukraine started, friends from Russia call me constantly. They are usually completely surprised and of course angry at the comments coming from Europe. My friends and acquaintances read every day on the Internet what is being said and written in Europe. Most of all, they are annoyed that the coverage here does not correspond to facts. Much is fictitious, many simply copied, and without being well researched.

For example?

Gudenus: For weeks Europe was beating on the drums that Russia was preparing for war. There was talk of enormous troop movements and even of a military occupation of Crimea before the referendum on March 16 this year. This is all fictitious. None of this was true. And yet it was repeated every day. My Russian friends were following it very closely. The loss of reputation of our mainstream media is significant.

But the Western media have repeatedly shown pictures of Russian soldiers in Crimea...

Gudenus: (laughs) Well it is clear. There are indeed Russian troops stationed there. The Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol has a home port; under the agreement with Kiev, Moscow has always been entitled to station troops there - that's truly nothing new. What the Western mainstream media did is particularly perfidious. They filmed the normally stationed Russian soldiers and later claimed that there was a Russian invasion of Crimea. Such reporting is particularly insidious because it deliberately deceives the audience. This is not sloppiness, but intentional.

You once said that the Western media reports about Russia remind you of "pre-war rhetoric." Isn’t that a bit exaggerated?

Gudenus: Not at all. We should look at propaganda from previous wars. We are now experiencing exactly the same. A country and its political leadership are completely demonized, at the same time it advertises its own military capabilities. Putin stands for everything that is bad. Our media and politicians berate him as aggressive, devious, dishonest and dangerous. The first Hitler comparisons did not take long to come. Who operates such reporting wants to incite the people in this country.

A "pre-war rhetoric" usually precedes a war...

Gudenus: That is correct. Therefore, we must do everything to oppose in a positive way this incitement and this war propaganda. Politically, for us in Austria it is as follows: The Freedom Party has positioned itself very clearly as a peace and understanding party.

You were together with your party colleague Johannes Hübner as observers of the March 16 referendum in Crimea and were criticized sharply by the established Austrian media.

Gudenus: We were asked by the Russian non-governmental organizationEurasian Observatory for Democracy and Elections"(EODE) to observe the referendum. I agreed immediately.

Why?

Gudenus: In mainstream media, the image being spread was that the inhabitants of Crimea would have to vote under Russian threat of violence, so to speak. It was often stated that the vote was not free and everywhere were Russian soldiers. I was interested in the truth, so I wanted to see with my own eyes if it's all true.

How was your and Johannes Hübner’s experience on the referendum day?

Gudenus: First, none of the media reports proved to be true. The vote was not under the “impending Russian gun barrels" as the Western media claimed. The referendum reminded us of a normal Sunday election as we know it from Europe. Everything was in perfect order.

How "free" were you in your movements within Crimea?

Gudenus: Absolutely free. We could totally spontaneously go anywhere we wanted. Each polling station was open for us without prior notice or announcement.

You were also in those areas where the Tatars live...

Gudenus: Correct. Above all, these areas were of interest to us, as it was said in the media reports again and again that there would be great difficulties. Johannes Hübner and I were also in Bakhchisaray, the capital city of the Crimean Tatars, which is about an hour away from Simferopol. For us, the city was particularly interesting because protests were expected there as believed by our western journalists.

Did the organizers try to prevent or delay your visit to Bakhchisaray?

Gudenus: (laughs) On the contrary. I even had the feeling that they were glad that we wanted to observe the supposedly "problematic" areas.

What was it like in Bakhchisaray?

Gudenus: It was completely quiet even there; there were no problems. The only difference to the districts with a Russian majority was the lower turnout. Some Tatar clan chiefs had called before the referendum for a boycott. But a large part of the Crimean Tatars still went to vote. Everything was quiet, disciplined and exemplary.

You were also in Sevastopol...

Gudenus: We went there also spontaneously because we wanted to see how the voting goes on where the large Russian naval base is located. Western media was reporting repeatedly about the alleged threatening atmosphere. But when we got there, we experienced the exact opposite. There was an atmosphere of festival in Sevastopol on the day of the referendum. We were drowning in a sea of Russian flags when we got there around 4 oclock. Russian music groups were playing on a stage. Sevastopol presented itself as a Russian city. And if we want to be honest, we must say: Sevastopol was always Russian, is Russian and will remain Russian.

You and Hübner were attacked by the Austrian media for your activity as observers. What exactly was the campaign against you about?

Gudenus: We were accused of being pro-Russian agents and they tried to make our mission look ridiculous. Simply put, the whole spectrum of defamation. The fact that we were invited by a Russian NGO was also criticized; they even asked who paid for the hotel, etc. It was a real joke.

When the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) sends international observers somewhere, no one asks such questions...

Gudenus: Exactly. Not even when any U.S. NGOs are active. Why should Russian NGOs have fewer rights than the U.S.? By the way, the OSCE had been asked by the Crimean government and also by Moscow to send observers - but the OSCE rejected because it would "legitimize" the referendum.

It is often stated that the referendum was not performed properly. For example, transparent ballot boxes, and the fact that there were no envelopes for the ballots were also criticized...

Gudenus: This review is a joke. Transparent ballot boxes are completely normal in many Western European countries. In Ukraine, transparent ballot boxes were always used. The purpose of transparent ballot boxes is precisely to avoid manipulations. By the way, when Yulia Tymoshenko won the elections in Ukraine years ago, glass boxes were also used. We heard no criticism from the West. Also the criticism of the alleged lack of envelopes for the ballots is bizarre. After all, one could simply fold his ballot to prevent anyone from seeing where the cross is marked. And many people at the referendum did not really care, others were even proud of their paper. Everyone could vote as he/she wanted.

The results were criticized by the West. Western media and politicians claimed that such a high number of votes for the reunion of Crimea with Russia could only be the result of tampering. How do you rate this?

Gudenus: Unlike most of those journalists and politicians who speak of manipulation, Hübner and I were actually there. The result coincides absolutely with the sentiment. In my opinion it is really scary how fast and recklessly certain people speak of manipulation, just because they do not like the result. This says a lot about their relationship to democracy.

What are we currently experiencing exactly? Is it just a peninsula in the Black Sea, or a great geopolitical upheaval taking place instead?

Gudenus: The referendum in Crimea and the political consequences have shown that a referendum, a truly grass-roots democracy act, can make the monopolar world order falter. The self-determination of peoples was actually taken seriously. Russia has shown that it has recovered from the collapse of the Soviet Union. Moscow plays again on the world stage, Washington now has serious competition. We can certainly speak of a massive geopolitical upheaval.

March 2014; Johann Gudenus and Manuel Ochsenreiter discuss the referendum in Simferopol 

March 2014; Johann Gudenus and Manuel Ochsenreiter discuss the referendum in Simferopol 

Is such a radical change good or bad for Europe?

Gudenus: I'm an absolute optimist. It is good for Europe. A strong Russia gives us more independence, more freedom. A strong Russia is good for us because it also pushes back U.S. influence. It brings Europe back to its balance.

Nevertheless, the EU has clearly sided with the U.S. Brussels also advocated sanctions against Russia...

Gudenus: (laughs) By this we know now very well the difference between Europe and the EU. The EU is not Europe. Sanctions against Russia are unacceptable; they are not in Europe's interest. In particular, the Federal Republic of Germany and Austria would suffer from anti-Russian sanctions. Russia is a reliable trading partner. Germany needs Russian oil and gas, Russia buys German machinery, chemicals. Approximately 19 billion euros of direct German investments are tied to Russia. From the EU countries, Germany is at the forefront of investors. France comes at second place with 12.3 billion euros, followed by Austria with 8.5 billion euros. Economic sanctions against Russia are absolutely detrimental to the European countries.

Whose interest do the economic sanctions against Moscow serve?

Gudenus: They serve the interests of Washington. The U.S. wants to keep Europeans in line. For the U.S. hegemonic aspirations, fear of Russia is perhaps the most important asset. We must regard Brussels and the EU as agents of such policy and as against the interests of European citizens.

Will the United States prevail?

Gudenus: Maybe in short term, but in long term I see the U.S. on the decline.

Why?

Gudenus: Because the situation is quite clear. Russia needs Europe and Europe needs Russia. Both need each other more than they need the United States. When Russia and Europe fight, Washington laughs. But I firmly believe that common sense will prevail. Soon no one in Europe will be patronized by the U.S.!

 

Contact:

Website of Johann Gudenus 

Johann Gudenus on Facebook

 



 

"We must unite all people of Crimea!"

Protesters on Crimea with Russian flags

Protesters on Crimea with Russian flags

Interview with Gennady Sivak, the head of the "Social Patriotic Assembly of the Slavs" about the situation on Crimea (by Natalya Bazhenova/Manuel Ochsenreiter)

 

Mr. Sivak, since in Kiev the so called “Maidan Movement” took power, the people in Eastern and Southern regions of Ukraine started organizing to defend themselves against the new pro-Western government in Kiev. What can you tell us about the situation in Crimea?

Sivak: Citizens of the Crimean Republic will never recognize the violations of the Constitution of Ukraine, the result of which was that the armed bandits came to power. On February 27 the Supreme Council of the Crimean Republic voted for this statement. Crimea does not recognize the Verkhovna Rada (National Parliament) of Ukraine.

You are head of the “Social Patriotic Assembly of the Slavs” (SPAS) in Crimea. What role does your organization play in the conflict?

Sivak: The party SPAS has always strictly condemned all cases of violent excesses in the Crimea and Ukraine. The main goal of our activists in the present confrontation is to unify the Slavs and to keep peace and stability in Crimea. In order to achieve this goal we control the city Simferopol and all entrances to the Crimean Republic. And in the current conflict we abandoned our party´s symbols because we believe that people should not be divided by political parties – in opposite, we must unite all the people of Crimea.

Gennady Sivak, the head of the "Social Patriotic Assembly of the Slavs" 

Gennady Sivak, the head of the "Social Patriotic Assembly of the Slavs" 

The conflict in Crimea shows shocking images: Tatar extremists shouting “Allahu akbar” and Islamist claims in their fight against the Crimean Russians. What is behind this conflict?

Sivak: The majority of peaceful Muslims living in Crimea are fooled by a bunch of different kinds of radicals funded by Turkey and a number of Islamic countries that are always happy to recruit militants among Tatars to send them to different hotspots. As we know about 1.500 Tatar militants are fighting in Syria against the Syrian army. The Ukrainian legislation allows extremists to rapidly increase the number of their supporters. Therefore it is necessary to immediately eliminate the legal gaps in our legislation in order to stop the spread of extremism!

What gaps in the Ukrainian legislation provoke the spread of the extremism?

Sivak: You see, the “Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People” (central executive body of the Kurultai of Crimean Tatars) always acts as a legal entity but it is not even officially registered. Therefore, we can’t even make a claim in cases of ethnic hatred incidents as this “Mejlis” does not officially exist. This makes the “Mejlis” a political entity which does not exist “de jure” but acts like a political power “de facto”. We tried to resist this absurd situation since we can’t solve the problem in an official way.

The problem of Tatar extremism in Crimea arose long time ago. What political forces in Kiev support and encourage it?

Sivak: Unfortunately the Kiev government consists of officials who are totally mired in corruption and therefore extremists on Turkey’s payroll can wade into power through different parties. Their business is deeply connected to oligarchic clans and they mainly use the Ukrainian Parliament (Rada) as a propaganda platform for acquiring the deputy status or to buy the deputies in order to lobby the required laws.

Did Tatar extremists take part in the Maidan movement?

Sivak: Of course. Tatar nationalist symbols were from the very beginning on the Maidan square and the former leader of the Tatar radicals Mustafa Dzhemilev is always present on the Maidan podium. They are closely related because of the fact that the Maidan opposition does not have support among the Slavs in Crimea but part of the Tatars supports them. As we all know recently the leader of the Ukrainian radical nationalists (Right Sector) Dmitry Yarosh openly stated that according to his opinion it is necessary for the future prosperity of Ukraine to get rid of the Russians and to drive them away from Crimea. He also said that it is much better for the Ukrainian nationalist cause if Crimea becomes Tatar. So you can see that the communication between them is obvious. Those radicals are responsible for the inter-ethnic conflict in our region while the most residents of Crimea, Russians and Tatar, want to live in peace together.

You mentioned the Turkish role in the support of the Muslim extremism...

Sivak: Ankara´s financial support for the Tatars in Crimea seems to be for a good cause at the first glance. But when we calculate all the money pumped by Turkey for the last 20 years and compare the amount with the number of Crimean Tatars, it turns out that every person should have at least a new apartment for each family. But this is not the case. Therefore the whereabouts of that money causes us extreme anxiety.

Do you think that most of the money is illegally directed to support the Tatar extremism in the region? Do you see any connection to the Tatar militants fighting in Syria?

Sivak: There is no doubt that this money is not being used in a transparent way and no doubt as well about the presence of Tatar militants in Syria. There is also the radical Islamic organization, Hizbut-Tahrir, which is banned as an extremist organization in many countries of the world including Germany that acts absolutely legally in Ukraine. They have an office here and hold their congresses and their representatives propagate radical Islam freely through Ukrainian TV. And we have strong reasons to believe that they take an active part in the escalation of the ethnic conflict in Crimea. In addition to this, we have information that the Turkish-Islamic underground network is organized in Crimea since a long time. The leading roles in it belong not only to Crimean Tatars but also to Uygur Islamists from Sinndzyan Uygur Autonomy of China. There are also several dozens of Islamist inspectors from Turkey and Azerbaijan. So as you see, Crimean Tatar extremists have prepared different ways (Nationalist, Turkic, Islamic) to put Crimea under the jurisdiction of Ukraine and to make a proclamation of an own independent state. Therefore the question is: On what basis was the union of Ukrainian nationalists and Tartar radical extremists created?

Western mainstream media still speaks about a “revolution” in Ukraine...

Sivak: As many people know, during 60 years USA made countless “revolutions” all over the world. So the American scenario of this political performance is very obvious in my opinion. Americans muddy the water everywhere using the principle of divide and rule as well as the destructive elements of society. And unfortunately European Union is totally involved now in that process without realizing that the fire may spread to Europe.

Western media write about war scenarios. Do you see a political solution of the actual crisis?

Sivak: Absolutely! The referendum which must be held on March 30, 2014 is a political solution of the issue. If during this time Russia, USA and Germany are able to negotiate and resolve the situation in Ukraine, there will be no need for this referendum. But if there will be no agreement, Crimea will follow the fate of South Ossetia and Transnistria. In any case it is obvious that Russia is the only real guarantee of peace and stability in our region!

 

Special thanks to my colleague from St. Petersburg Natalya Bazhenova for the great cooperation! 

 

 

 

"We support Syria!"

Ruben Rosiers (27) is a Belgian citizen and activist of the "European Solidarity Front for Syria". Roseris studied Public Relations and works for a Flamish company.

Ruben Rosiers (27) is a Belgian citizen and activist of the "European Solidarity Front for Syria". Roseris studied Public Relations and works for a Flamish company.

Mr. Rosiers, you just came back from your trip to Syria on behalf of the “European Solidarity Front for Syria” (ESFS). Your organization was criticized in the past for supporting the “Syrian regime” by the mainstream media. What is the ESFS doing?

Rosiers: The ESFS are volunteers from whole Europe. We support the Syrians in their war to keep their independence, unity and sovereignty and against the western backed terrorism.

How do you “support the Syrians”?

Rosiers: In Europe we inform the public about the reality on the Syrian battleground. We are present in all the European countries; organize demonstrations together with the Syrians here. We cooperate with some alternative media as well. We also collect money to provide humanitarian help in Syria. As we are a pure independent volunteer organization we can guarantee that 100 percent of the donated money really arrives in Syria. We don´t have any bureaucratic infrastructure.

Your trip to Syria had the character of a “fact finding mission”...

Rosiers: Indeed.

One would say: “fact finding is not the job of volunteers but of journalists and politicians.”

Rosiers: This is not so wrong. But neither European journalists nor politicians do their job in a proper way. Of course there are exceptions. But generally, the information policy in whole Europe is a disaster. That makes the work of the ESFS so important!

What facts did you find in Syria?

Rosiers: I had many meetings in the capital Damascus; I spoke to politicians, clerics, soldiers, journalists and civilians. I had the opportunity to visit the Palestinian Yarmouk Camp in Damascus; I was in the city of Al-Nabk – where the people celebrated the Syrian Arab Army which liberated them from the terrorist gangs. I also visited the city Latakia.

You were in the Yarmouk camp? European mainstream media report it is besieged by the Syrian Army...

Rosiers: And here we are. I don´t think that any European mainstream journalist who writes such stories was recently there. The Yarmouk camp is like a little city in the city. Terrorist gangs were occupying parts of the camp, the Syrian government supported the Palestinian armed groups fighting against the terrorist forces. There is no “siege”. You can enter and leave the camp in the safe areas – and safety means always: controlled by the government and loyal Palestinian militias like the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). In the terrorist controlled areas the situation is really dangerous. Terrorist snipers shoot at everybody crossing the streets, a large part of the population left already the terrorist controlled sectors of the camp. By the way: We had also to leave the camp very quick again because of hostile sniper activities. The vast majority people in the camp stand with the Syrian government by the way – there is no doubt in that.

European media report about starvation in the camp...

Rosiers: The problem is that the terrorists tried to isolate the parts of the camps they controlled. The Syrian government provides food and medical help, but this is dangerous. Terrorist snipers shoot at them as well.

Ruben Rosiers and minister Ali Haidar (right)

Ruben Rosiers and minister Ali Haidar (right)

You met the Minister of State for National Reconciliation Affairs in Damascus. What did you talk about with Mr. Ali Haidar?

Rosiers: Mr. Haidar has maybe one of the most challenging jobs in Syria. National reconciliation is as important as difficult. His own son was killed by terrorist gangs in 2012. Mr. Haidar coordinates reconciliation talks between the different factions in Syria to find a peaceful solution. By the way, Mr. Haidar is not a Baath party member, he is oppositional himself. His SSNP party was banned for many years in Syria before it was legalized again. He knows about what he is talking. We discussed the reconciliation process, the next solidarity mission of the ESFS, the current political situation and the desire of the Syrian people for fast ending of the war. He also talked about the many kidnapped people and I had the chance to meet people who were looking for their kidnapped family members. You know that in Syria the terrorists even consider you a legal target if you are a postman? They consider you a “collaborator of the regime” and just kill, torture or kidnap you…

In Western media Ali Haidar doesn´t play any role...

Rosiers: Because he cooperates with the real opposition inside Syria and not with the foreign backed terrorists who destroy the country. This is a huge difference. Ali Haidar excludes extremists from the talks – this is why Western politics and media don´t give him any publicity.

In Al-Nabk you visited an Army celebration...

Rosiers: The people of Al-Nabk were celebrating the liberation of their city.

Mainstream media claim that those celebrations are propaganda acts by the Syrian government. They claim: The Syrians are forced to participate at those rallies.

Rosiers: Nobody was “forced” to participate. This was pure happiness that the horrible times of the terrorist control are over. The people wanted to thank the army that liberated Al-Nabk. Important to notice is that during the occupation of parts of the city by FSA and Al-Nusra, the residents of Al-Nabk didn’t flee but organized themselves to fight against the terrorists. Not a single person left the city! Nice detail, the majority of the city is Sunni Muslim - so there goes another myth the western media wants to keep alive…

You were also delivering a speech – what about?

Celebration in Al-Nabk: Liberation of the city

Celebration in Al-Nabk: Liberation of the city

Rosiers: This was really a spontaneous thing: I asked if I can give a message of solidarity – and some seconds later I spoke into the microphone. I told the Syrians that they shouldn´t confuse the European governments with the European peoples. I told the Syrians that we are with them despite of the wrong politics of our governments. The people were very happy about this unexpected message of solidarity.

Some critics claim that you are an “agent of the Syrian government” and that you are paid for the “solidarity”...

Manuel Ochsenreiter and Ruben Rosiers during a geopolitical conference in Bielefeld (2013)

Manuel Ochsenreiter and Ruben Rosiers during a geopolitical conference in Bielefeld (2013)

Rosiers: This is complete nonsense. Nobody pays us. We are a volunteer organization. My trip was paid completely by myself. Those rumors are spread to harm our credibility. And do you really think I would risk my life for some green paper in my pocket? Maybe this is hard to understand for capitalist and materialist people, but I just fight for what I believe in. Just like all the volunteers of the ESFS. If the Syrian government would ever offer me one dollar I would stop supporting them. They should use their money just to help the Syrian people!

If somebody wants to show solidarity with Syria and support the ESFS is it enough to press the “like”-button on Facebook?

Rosiers: This is a good start! But of course we are happy about any activist. As I said: We are all volunteers. We do our solidarity work because we really believe in our aims and not because we get paid or supported by state institutions or any NGOs. We are happy about every new volunteer in our rows! So please donate money, join our Facebook page, join our manifestations, spread the message and make the ESFS grow every day! Long live Syria!

 

Contact:

European Solidarity Front for Syria on Facebook

European Solidarity Front for Syria

 

"Let´s call it a Putsch!"

Stefan Karganovic is American citizen of Serbian descent, law graduate, political analyst and president of Dutch-based NGO "Srebrenica Historical Project" 

Stefan Karganovic is American citizen of Serbian descent, law graduate, political analyst and president of Dutch-based NGO "Srebrenica Historical Project" 

Mr. Karganovic, in Tuzla, Mostar, Zenica and Sarajevo, government buildings have been set on fire by protesters and there have been demonstrations across much of the rest of the country. Hundreds have been injured, including policemen. BBC News talks already about „Balkan Spring“...

Karganovic: (laughs) This is not surprising at all. I predicted this a long time ago and I discussed this already with officials of the Republika Srpska last year. It did not happen unexpectedly.

Why is that?

Karganovic: For a long time we have been expecting something like a “color revolution” in the Republika Srpska. The West, the EU and NATO are not really friends of the Serbian entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina – that´s not a secret.

We are talking about geopolitics and not about social problems, right?

Karganovic: Exactly. We are talking about attempts to bring a new pro Western order to the Balkans, to push back Russian influence and to make Bosnia and Herzegovina an EU and NATO colony. And we are talking also about an anti-Serbian movement camouflaged as “social justice” and “pro democracy” groups.

But then the riots would have started for example in Banja Luka, not in Tuzla which is part of the Bosniak-Croat Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Why doesn´t the unrest concentrate on the Republika Srpska?

Karganovic: It is about making all of Bosnia and Herzegovina a “clean state”. The Federation is for the western globalists as disturbing as the Republika Srpska, because it represents also an entity based on national identity. Of course it is easier to start trouble in the Croat-Muslim part, because it already has a mixed population. The recent events are about to establish a new type of state in Bosnia and Herzegovina. For this you need much more slavish pro Western political elite. And something else: If the unrest had started for example in Banja Luka, it would have been very obvious that it is directed against the existence and integrity of the Republika Srpska.

What do you mean by a “clean state”?

Political Map of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Political Map of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Karganovic: I mean a state without the two entities, a centralistic Bosnian state without the political autonomy of the ethnic groups. But for such a state project you need a functioning new elite which doesn´t feel “Croatian” or “Muslim” or “Serbian” - but “Bosnian”. And a pro western elite which integrates Bosnia in the structures of NATO and EU. Further goals, however, are to bring Bosnia as a whole not only into NATO but to integrate it completely within Western European Atlantic structures. As a result, a protectorate enjoying some autonomy here and there is to be transformed to a completely dominated colony. Until today, the Serbian population and the Republika Srpska have been particularly opposed to such integration.

So it is about a “regime change”?

Karganovic: We can call it “regime change” or putsch.

But the protesters don´t call for “regime change” - they call for social and economic change in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Karganovic: It is not happening yet. But please let me explain: The calls for social and economical improvements are totally justified. But already now we can see parallels to the unrest in Ukraine. Protesters call for getting close to the EU, to the West in general. They say: Everything will become better in Bosnia as soon as we start with the European and Western integration. The social and economic problems of Bosnia and Herzegovina are considered suitable to simulate a country-wide protest, where the national identity of the citizens doesn´t play any role anymore. And it is designed to spill over into the Republika Srpska for sure.

But this will not bring any social and economical improvements – on the contrary – it will install chaos in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The social and economic situation will become worse as we see for example in Ukraine...

Karganovic: It is all about that chaos. Within this chaos the infrastructure of the best prepared and trained groups can take power. Many Western NGOs were supporting such an infrastructure in this country over the last few years. You can easily guess who the best organized forces are going to be. The only thing which is not sure is that the economic and social problems will be solved.

The German mainstream newspapers celebrate the unrest in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The left wing alternative German Tageszeitung wrote the headline “Together against nationalism” and cheers to the assumption, that ethnic differences don´t play any role anymore among the younger generation in Bosnia. Until now the Croats as well as the Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina shared the wish of returning one day to their motherlands, Croatia and Serbia. Is this unrest also to establish a sort of a new “Bosnian People” - at least in the mainstream propaganda?

Karganovic: You hit the nail on the head. The new state needs a new people with a new identity. As I repeat myself: especially the Serbian identity is a disturbing factor for any pro Western plans with Bosnia and Herzegovina. So preparations have been going on for some years, as I said already. Also two German foundations are very active here: the conservative Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation and the social democratic Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung. They train and educate the “new elite”. The Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation trains groups for the moment when they come to power in the Republika Srpska. By the way: in Ukraine the Adenauer-Foundation trains the political party of Vitali Klitschko. All these trainings by Western NGOs have the same aim: to create a new pro Western group across all ethnic lines to take power at the right moment. This is the political bridge of collaborators across the entity lines. So the comments you quote from Germany media fit in perfectly within that scenario.

The majority of Croats and Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina will not feel “Bosnian” all of the sudden just because of a new Western trained type of “hipster government” in Sarajevo and a centralized Bosnian state...

Karganovic: For sure not. But we shouldn´t be naive. Those projects take long time – but if we look at what happened to other eastern European states with their “integration” we find sell off of natural resources, liberal market “shock therapy” and so on.

Mr. Karganovic, your opponents would call you now a conspiracy theorist. They would say: “These young people protest for a better a life and you claim they act on geopolitical behalf of others”.

Karganovic: Of course – this is part of the strategy. But let us check the facts. One of the protesting groups is called UDAR...

But UDAR is the Ukrainian party of Vitali Klitschko...

Stefan Karganovic (very left) and me discussing at the Srebrenica Historical Project in 2012

Stefan Karganovic (very left) and me discussing at the Srebrenica Historical Project in 2012

Karganovic: (laughs) Yes, and now we have an UDAR also in Bosnia and Herzegovina. By the way: the Ukrainian UDAR party is a product of the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation. The Bosnian UDAR recently published a manifesto. In this manifesto they call – besides justified criticism of the social and economic problems - for the “end of nationalism” and for the “start of negations with NATO and EU”.

Mr. Karganovic, you compare the recent events in Bosnia and Herzegovina with the so called “Bulldozer Revolution” in Serbia in 2000. That “revolution” ended with the overthrow of Slobodan Milošević. Where do you see parallels? And who is the Milošević in Bosnia and Herzegovina?

Karganovic: The groups and organizations from 2000 in Serbia in their aims and techniques are very similar to those in Bosnia today. As you mentioned the operation in Serbia ended with the overthrow of president Milošević and a sort of “new orientation” of Serbia itself. Also here the aim is to overthrow Milorad Dodik – the president of Republika Srpska. At the end would come the complete disintegration of the Republika Srpska. Serbia and the Serbians are the disturbing factor in Western globalist plans. These protests are anti-Serbian without using the term anti-Serbian.

But aren´t there Serbs protesting also?

Karganovic: Of course, there are many Serbs among the protest movement. But these protesters believe that their national identity is right now not so important when it is sacrificed for a greater good. Maybe they will wake up with a headache when they come to the realization that they are fight right now for their own destruction. Now they sacrifice their national identity for a better job – but at the end they will have lost their identity and still be jobless or poorly paid.

UDAR is attacking the Republika Srpska in its declarations...

Karganovic: Of course they do. By the way: the Bosnian protest movement uses the Otpor fist as a symbol. “Otpor” (English: Resistance) was the organization which led the protests against Milošević. Otpor was a recipient of funds from US government-affiliated organizations such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), International Republican Institute (IRI), and US Agency for International Development (USAID). And UDAR says in its declarations, “there is only a single, democratic, sovereign and independent state of Bosnia and Herzegovina” and that “the so-called ‘Republica Srpska’ exists only as part of an illegal constitution in the Annex of the Dayton Agreement”. I told you, the protests are anti-Serbian. UDAR claims: “The goal of aggression and genocide against the citizens of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina was to create an ethnically pure Greater Serbia at the expense of the territory of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.” This is logical in the eyes of the protesters: only by the destruction of the Serbian entity can you get a centralistic “new Bosnia,” as UDAR calls it already. Please tell me, could it be more anti-Serbian?

Former “Otpor” members founded the “Center for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies” (CANVAS) in Belgrade...

Karganovic: Yes and we shouldn´t underestimate the CANVAS influence on the Bosnian events now. Drawing upon the Serbian experience, CANVAS educates so called “pro-democracy activists” around the world. Right now CANVAS plays a role in the protests in Ukraine for example. About one month ago CANVAS activists and instructors were expelled from Ukraine because they actually were teaching very violent methods. All these ideas are based on the playbook of the US political scientist Gene Sharp. His writings inspire and direct pro Western uprisings and protests round the world. Western intelligence agencies use Sharp´s playbook for their work. CANVAS and the Bosnian UDAR (also the Ukrainian UDAR) base their tactics on Sharp´s instructions for overthrowing governments.

If the government and president of the Republika Srpska know today what will come – what are they doing to react and defend the Serbian entity against the NATO proxies (“peaceful protesters”)?

Karganovic: In my opinion not enough. And we have already in the Republika Srpska our own “Vitali Klitschko” - the “activist” Nikola Dronjak. Although his level of intelligence is simular to Klitschko´s we shouldn´t underestimate those forces which help and support the “protest movement”. Dronjak is working very closely together with CANVAS. We should be more aware of the upcoming danger for this country. But this is unfortunately a common problem of Balkan governments, they are a bit slow – some critics even use the term “lazy”...

But we are not!

Karganovic: (laughs) Of course not!

So what should president Dodik and his government do?

Karganovic: Two important things: The government should inform the people in the Republika Srpska about the backgrounds of these protests; it should name the organizations and their real aims. But then I would remind the president that he is a social democrat. So he should take his social responsibility to improve the social and economic situation in the Republika Srpska and fight corruption. I am convinced that Serbs can solve all these problems without one single NATO or EU advisor on their soil.












"United by Hatred"

Prof. Alexandr Dugin is a philosopher and a professor at Moscow State University. Dugin is the leader of the international “Eurasian Movement”, and he is known for the book Foundations of Geopolitics.

Prof. Alexandr Dugin is a philosopher and a professor at Moscow State University. Dugin is the leader of the international “Eurasian Movement”, and he is known for the book Foundations of Geopolitics.

Prof. Dugin, the Western mainstream media and established politicians describe the recent situation in Ukraine as a conflict between pro-European, democratic and liberal oppositional alliance on the one side and an authoritarian regime with a dictator as president on the other side. Do you agree?

Dugin: I know those stories and I consider this type of analysis totally wrong. We cannot divide the world today in the Cold War style. There is no “democratic world” which stands against an “antidemocratic world”, as many Western media report.

Your country, Russia, is one of the cores of this so called “antidemocratic world” when we believe our mainstream media. And Russia with president Vladimir Putin tries to intervene in Ukrainian domestic politics, we read...

Dugin: That´s completely wrong. Russia is a liberal democracy. Take a look at the Russian constitution: We have a democratic electoral system, a functioning parliament, a free market system. The constitution is based on Western pattern. Our president Vladimir Putin rules the country in a democratic way. We are a not a monarchy, we are not a dictatorship, we are not a soviet communist regime.

Our politicians in Germany call Putin a “dictator”!

Dugin: (laughs) On what basis?

Because of his LGBT-laws, his support for Syria, the law suits against Michail Chodorchowski and “Pussy Riot”...

Dugin: So they call him “dictator” because they don´t like the Russian mentality. Every point you mentioned is completely democratically legitimate. There is not just one single “authoritarian” element. So we shouldn´t mix that: Even if you don´t like Russia´s politics you can´t deny that Russia is a liberal democracy. President Vladimir Putin accepts the democratic rules of our system and respects them. He never violated one single law. So Russia is part of the liberal democratic camp and the Cold War pattern doesn´t work to explain the Ukrainian crisis.

Violent protesters in Kiev

So how can we describe this violent and bloody conflict?

Dugin: We need a very clear geopolitical and civilizational analysis. And we have to accept historical facts, even if they are in these days not en vogue!

What do you mean?

Dugin: Todays Ukraine is a state which never existed in history. It is a newly created entity. This entity has at least two completely different parts. These two parts have a different identity and culture. There is Western Ukraine which is united in its Eastern European identity. The vast majority of the people living in Western Ukraine consider themselves as Eastern Europeans. And this identity is based on the complete rejection of any pan-Slavic idea together with Russia. Russians are regarded as existential enemies. We can say it like that: They hate Russians, Russian culture and of course Russian politics. This makes an important part of their identity.

You are not upset about this as a Russian?

Dugin: (laughs) Not at all! It is a part of identity. It doesn´t necessarily mean they want to go on war against us, but they don´t like us. We should respect this. Look, the Americans are hated by much more people and they accept it also. So when the Western Ukrainians hate us, it is neither bad nor good – it is a fact. Let´s simply accept this. Not everybody has to love us!

But the Eastern Ukrainians like you Russians more!

Dugin: Not so fast! The majority of people living in the Eastern part of Ukraine share a common identity with Russian people – historical, civilizational, and geopolitical. Eastern Ukraine is an absolute Russian and Eurasian country. So there are two Ukraines. We see this very clear at the elections. The population is split in any important political question. And especially when it comes to the relations with Russia, we witness how dramatic this problem becomes: One part is absolute anti-Russian, the other Part absolute pro-Russian. Two different societies, two different countries and two different national, historical identities live in one entity.

So the question is which society dominates the other?

Dugin: That´s an important part of Ukrainian politics. We have the two parts and we have the capital Kiev. But in Kiev we have both identities. It is neither the capital of Western Ukraine nor Eastern Ukraine. The capital of the Western part is Lviv, the capital of the Eastern part is Kharkiv. Kiev is the capital of an artificial entity. These are all important facts to understand this conflict.

Western Media as well as Ukrainian “nationalists” would strongly disagree with the term “artificial” for the Ukrainian state.

Dugin: The facts are clear. The creation of the state of Ukraine within the borders of today wasn´t the result of a historical development. It was a bureaucratic and administrative decision by the Soviet Union. The Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic was one of the 15 constituent republics of the Soviet Union from its inception in 1922 to its end in 1991. Throughout this 72-year history, the republic's borders changed many times, with a significant part of what is now Western Ukraine being annexed by the Red Army in 1939 and the addition of formerly Russian Crimea in 1954.

Some politicians and analysts say that the easiest solution would be the partition of Ukraine to an Eastern and a Western state.

Dugin: It is not as easy as it might sound because we would get problems with national minorities. In the Western part of Ukraine many people who consider themselves as Russians live today. In the Eastern part lives a part of the population that considers itself as Western Ukrainian. You see: A simple partition of the state wouldn´t really solve the problem but even create a new one. We can imagine the Crimean separation, because that part of Ukraine is purely Russian populated territory.

Why does it seem that the European Union is so much interested in “importing” all those problems to its sphere?

Dugin: It is not in the interest of any European alliance, it is in the interest of USA. It is a political campaign which is led against Russia. The invitation of Brussels to Ukraine to join the West brought immediately the conflict with Moscow and the inner conflict of Ukraine. This is not surprising at all of anybody who knows about the Ukrainian society and history.

Some German politicians said that they were surprised by the civil war scenes in Kiev...

Dugin: This says more about the standards of political and historical education of your politicians than about the crisis in Ukraine...

But the Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych refused the invitation of the West.

Dugin: Of course he did. He was elected by the pro-Russian East and not by the West. Yanukovych can´t act against the interest and the will of his personal electoral base. If he would accept the Western-EU-invitation he would be immediately a traitor in the eyes of his voters. Yanukovych´s supporters want integration with Russia. To say it clearly: Yanukovych simply did what was very logical for him to do. No surprise, no miracle. Simply logical politics.

There is now a very pluralistic and political colorful oppositional alliance against Yanukovych: This alliance includes typical liberals, anarchists, communists, gay right groups and also nationalist and even neo-Nazi groups and hooligans. What keeps these different groups and ideologies together?

Dugin: They are united by their pure hatred against Russia. Yanukovych is in their eyes the proxy of Russia, the friend of Putin, the man of the East. They hate everything what has to do with Russia. This hate keeps them together; this is a block of hatred. To say it clearly: Hate is their political ideology. They don´t love the EU or Brussels.

What are the main groups? Who is dominating the oppositional actions?

Dugin: These are clearly the most violent neo-Nazi groups on the so called Euro-Maidan. They push for violence and provoke a civil war situation in Kiev.

Western Mainstream media claims that the role of those extremist groups is dramatized by the pro-Russian media to defame the whole oppositional alliance.

Dugin: Of course they do. How do they want to justify that the EU and the European governments support extremist, racist, neo-Nazis outside the EU-borders while they do inside the EU melodramatic and expensive actions even against the most moderate right wing groups?

But how can for example the gay right groups and the left wing liberal groups fight alongside the neo-Nazis who are well known to be not really very gay friendly?

Dugin: First of all, all these groups hate Russia and the Russian president. This hate makes them comrades. And the left wing liberal groups are not less extremist than the neo-Nazi groups. We tend to think that they are liberal, but this is horribly wrong. We find especially in Eastern Europe and Russia very often that the Homosexual-Lobby and the ultranationalist and neo-Nazi groups are allies. Also the Homosexual lobby has very extremist ideas about how to deform, re-educate and influence the society. We shouldn´t forget this. The gay and lesbian lobby is not less dangerous for any society than neo-Nazis.

We know such an alliance also from Moscow. The liberal blogger and candidate for the mayoral position in Moscow Alexej Nawalny was supported by such an alliance of gay rights organizations and neo-Nazi groups.

Dugin: Exactly. And this Nawalny-coalition was also supported by the West. The point is, it is not at all about the ideological content of those groups. This is not interesting for the West.

What do you mean?

Dugin: What would happen if a neo-Nazi organization supported Putin in Russia or Yanukovych in Ukraine?

The EU would start a political campaign; all huge western mainstream media would cover this and scandalize that.

Discussing with Prof. Alexandr Dugin in Freiburg (Germany)

Discussing with Prof. Alexandr Dugin in Freiburg (Germany)

Dugin: Exactly that´s the case. So it is only about on which side such a group stands. If the group is against Putin, against Yanukovych, against Russia, the ideology of that group is not a problem. If that group supports Putin, Russia or Yanukovych, the ideology immediately becomes a huge problem. It is all about the geopolitical side the group takes. It is nothing but geopolitics. It is a very good lesson what is going on in Ukraine. The lesson tells us: Geopolitics is dominating those conflicts and nothing else. We witness this also with other conflicts for example in Syria, Libya, Egypt, in Caucasian region, Iraq, Iran...

Any group taking side in favor of the West is a “good” group with no respect if it is extremist?

Dugin: Yes and any group taking side against the West – even if this group is secular and moderate – will be called “extremist” by the Western propaganda. This approach exactly dominates the geopolitical battlefields today. You can be the most radical and brutal Salafi fighter, you can hate Jews and eat human organs in front of a camera, as long as you fight for the Western interest against the Syrian government you are a respected and supported ally of the West. When you defend a multi-religious, secular and moderate society, all ideals of the West by the way, but you take position against the Western interest like the Syrian government, you are the enemy. Nobody is interested in what you believe in, it is only about the geopolitical side you chose if you are right or wrong in the eyes of the Western hegemon.

Prof. Dugin, especially Ukrainian opposition groups calling themselves “nationalists” would strongly disagree with you. They claim: “We are against Russia and against the EU, we take a third position!” The same thing ironically also the salafi fighter in Syria would say: “We hate Americans as much as the Syrian government!” Is there something like a possible third position in this geopolitical war of today?

Dugin: The idea to take a third and independent position between the two dominating blocks is very common. I had some interesting interviews and talks with a leading figure of the Chechen separatist guerilla. He confessed to me that he really believed in the possibility of an independent and free Islamic Chechnya. But later he understood that there is no “third position”, no possibility of that. He understood that he fights against Russia on the side of the West. He was a geopolitical instrument of the West, a NATO proxy on the Caucasian battlefield. The same ugly truth hits the Ukrainian “nationalist” and the Arab salafi fighter: They are Western proxies. It is hard to accept for them because nobody likes the idea to be the useful idiot of Washington.

To say it clearly: The “third position” is absolutely impossible?

Dugin: No way for that today. There is land power and sea power in geopolitics. Land power is represented today by Russia, sea power by Washington. During World War II Germany tried to impose a third position. This attempt was based precisely on those political errors we talk about right now. Germany went on war against the sea power represented by the British Empire, and against the land power represented by Russia. Berlin fought against the main global forces and lost that war. The end was the complete destruction of Germany. So when even the strong and powerful Germany of that time wasn´t strong enough to impose the third position how the much smaller and weaker groups want to do this today? It is impossible, it is a ridiculous illusion.

Anybody who claims today to fight for an independent “third position” is in reality a proxy of the West?

Dugin: In most of the cases, yes.

Former German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle shows solidarity with the "Euro-Maidan"

Moscow seems to be very passive. Russia doesn´t support any proxies for example in the EU countries. Why?

Dugin: Russia doesn´t have an imperialist agenda. Moscow respects sovereignty and wouldn´t interfere in the domestic politics of any other country. And it is an honest and good politics. We witness this even in Ukraine. We see much more EU-politicians and even US-politicians and diplomats travelling to Kiev to support the opposition than we see Russian politicians supporting Yanukovych in Ukraine. We shouldn´t forget that Russia doesn´t have any hegemonial interests in Europe, but the Americans have. Frankly speaking, the European Union is not a genuine European entity – it is an imperialist transatlantic project. It doesn´t serve the interests of the Europeans but the interests of the Washington administration. The “European Union” is in reality anti-European. And the “Euro-Maidan” is in reality “anti-Euro-Maidan”. The violent neo-Nazis in Ukraine are neither “nationalist” nor “patriotic” nor “European” - they are purely American proxies. The same for the homosexual rights groups and organizations like FEMEN or left wing liberal protest groups.












Martyrdom of Maaloula

Close to the frontline: Syrian officer shows were the islamist fighting groups hide in Maaloula

Close to the frontline: Syrian officer shows were the islamist fighting groups hide in Maaloula

The road to Maaloula is eerily deserted. You can’t see a single vehicle for kilometers on the well-developed highway. The small Christian pilgrimage site is located about 60 kilometers north of the Syrian capital Damascus. You can see cars sporadically shortly after leaving the outskirts of Damascus, most of which belong to the Syrian military or security forces.

On the route lies the town of Adra. Two huge dark columns of smoke rise from the horizon. Adra, actually an industrial settlement, found itself in war since a few days. Terrorists attacked the city and brought parts of it under their control. Terror rules there, refugees report. The Islamist attackers perpetrated a massacre against whoever worked "for the state": teachers, civil servants, soldiers, police officers and even the employees of large state-owned bakeries.

Adra under attack

Adra under attack

A small cross is dangling from the rear view mirror. Wadee, the driver, is a Syrian Christian. Again and again the ground underneath us trembles when the Syrian artillery fires. To our left is the Syrian army, to our right is the smoking Adra. Small groups of civilians with backpacks, refugees from Adra, cross the street towards the army base trying to escape town. "These people have lost everything but were able to save their lives", says Wadee, who pays attention to the road to avoid potholes and small craters.

The final stop is a small settlement right before Maaloula. One cannot proceed any further. The army has placed chunky concrete blocks on the road. The house of Abu Mohammed is like a dovecote. The 60 year-old professional driver lives here with his family. His grandchildren are running around in the living room. Abu Mohammed lives in the last house right before the Maaloula front. Soldiers from the Army base are allowed to use his shower and his toilet. "Thank God they are here", says Abu Mohammed about the soldiers. Maaloula has been deserted for weeks. There are only the Islamist guerrillas and units of the Syrian army fighting in the neighboring town, civilians were evacuated by the army. Abu Mohammed is glad that he can stay in his house, he says and serves fresh fruits and tea. His old truck is no longer in its parking spot, but instead a BMP-1 fighting vehicle of the Syrian army. In the meantime, the wind carries the sound of machine-gun fire from across Maaloula.

Mortar at Syrian army base

Mortar at Syrian army base

Maaloula was once regarded as a historical and cultural jewel of Syria. Busloads of tourists visited the ancient monasteries before the outbreak of war in 2011. Maaloula was known worldwide as the small town where Aramaic, the language of Jesus Christ, was spoken. One of the first Christian communities in the world was created in Maaloula, where also one of the oldest church exists. Maaloula is filled with symbolism. Islamist terrorists stormed for the second time into the mountain village in beginning of December 2013. They destroyed some historical buildings, killed civilians and took twelve nuns of the Greek Orthodox Mar Thecla monastery as hostages. To date, their whereabouts are unknown.

The atmosphere in Maaloula was already tense in the summer of 2012. Rebels attempted to conquer Damascus in July 2012. The operation was called "Damascus volcano", which failed miserably after about five days. The war was not to be felt in Maaloula before. Pilgrims from other Syrian cities were in the old orthodox monastery. They attended the Mass and lit candles for their slain and fallen loved ones. There was not much military presence in the small mountain village. The war seemed infinitely far away. The residents of Maaloula had rejected a strong military presence. They did not want to be drawn into the war. "He who seizes the sword shall perish by the sword" they would have quoted from the Bible, tells a Syrian journalist. But the sword had long since taken the others. The decision was not of the peaceful inhabitants of Maaloula. The Islamist insurgents have carried the war into the mountain village. On September 5, 2013, a terrorist group shouting "Allahu Akbar" attacked Maaloula. They raided Orthodox churches, burned icons and tore the cross down from the dome of Sergio's Monastery. Snipers took up positions in Thekla Monastery. Many civilians managed to flee to Damascus; others found themselves hostages of the Islamist attackers. In the Lebanese newspaper Daily Star, an eye witness says: "They shot people. I heard gunshots and then I saw three corpses in the middle of a street". "Many have fled the village for safety reasons. Maaloula is now a ghost town” the eyewitness continues. In an interview with the BBC, a Christian from Maaloula who managed to flee to Damascus described in tears how “they had to leave behind all their possessions when the rebels in FSA uniforms with covered faces marched into the village. The people left everything behind, they could not even take their money", she complained. She held U.S. President Barack Obama and U.S. allies responsible for arming the Islamist forces who now brought death and destruction to her town. "Obama must stop delivering these big guns, rifles, etc. to the rebels because they will kill us”.

Interview with members of the Syrian Arab Army who fought in Maaloula against islamist militants

Interview with members of the Syrian Arab Army who fought in Maaloula against islamist militants

The attack on Maaloula startled many Christian circles in the West. The fact that the same Islamist militias being supported by the West led to harsh criticism of the present course of European governments. A spokesman for the so-called "Free Syrian Army" (FSA) announced in mid-September that the militias would withdraw from Maaloula. In reality, the terrorists, who operate under the name FSA, established a base in Maaloula. Meanwhile in Damascus, several thousand people attended the funeral of the three young Christian Syrians who had been murdered by Islamist terrorists in Maaloula. After lengthy negotiations with the leaders of the Islamist terrorists who occupied Maaloula, three more bodies of Christians who were killed on September 7 in Maaloula were returned by paying ransom. However, the withdrawal from Maaloula claimed by the FSA was part of a disinformation campaign to "pacify" the west. "The corresponding declarations are false and only serve to weaken the media attention" said Asianews. The Christians who fled from Maaloula even denounced in Sepember 2013 in a letter addressed to the U.S. Congress the crimes of the Islamist rebels against the civilian population and the destruction of churches, monasteries and their homes. The letter states: "The fighters of the Free Syrian Army, the terrorists of al-Nusra and the murderers of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant attacked the area at four o’clock in the morning. Within hours they destroyed houses, monasteries and churches. They destroyed all holy representations and commanded people to renounce their faith and convert to Islam if they wanted to stay alive".

There was a second wave of terror and violence in early December 2013. According to the official Syrian news agency SANA, Islamist insurgents penetrated during this time the Orthodox monastery Mar Thecla, located in the city center. “Twelve Syrian and Lebanese nuns were abducted”, Radio Vatican quoted the representative of the Holy See in Syria, Mario Zenari. Their whereabouts are unknown to this date. The outrage in the West is limited. This does not come as a surprise to Syrians. "The West has forgotten and betrayed us", says a Christian from Sednaya, also a Christian pilgrimage site. But in Sednaya the residents have armed themselves and organized a local defense committee. Attacks by Islamist guerrillas have, so far, successfully been repelled again and again. However, the town is repeatedly shelled by terrorists hiding in the mountains. Not a single line is mentioned by Western media about civilians being killed there. But even in Sednaya they got used to it. "We expect nothing more from the West", says the Christian that was beeing interviewed.

There is still a battle raging in Maaloula. Colonel Ezad watches the one kilometer distant Maaloula through his binoculars from behind the earth mound. Rattling machine guns are heard again and again, smoke arises from several buildings in front of him. Colonel Ezad points to a jeep making its way through Maaloula. "These are terrorists", he says and hands over the binoculars. And indeed, a machine gun is mounted on the jeep. Colonel Ezad reaches the radio and gives the order to attack. After a few seconds it pops, a cloud of smoke is still visible where the Jeep was standing. It is December 25, 2013; many Christians are celebrating Christmas while the soldiers from Maaloula keep the enemy at bay. Among the Syrian soldiers are also Christians. How do they celebrate Christmas? A young lieutenant smiles bitterly and replies: "we celebrate Christmas when we have won the war, not before". Slowly the small cloud of smoke from the jeep wreck blows with wind to the west.

Syrian tank at the army base: There were several attacks by islamist militants in the past.

Syrian tank at the army base: There were several attacks by islamist militants in the past.

Fighting continued in Maalula even during the Christmas holidays. The Lebanese newspaper Al- Akbar reported in early January 2014 about icons and art treasures stolen from Maalula being traded on Internet platforms of the Islamists. Representatives of radical Islamist groups sought interested and affluent western buyers for Christian art objects. Since the beginning of the war in Syria nearly three years ago, icons, crosses and altar furniture were constantly stolen from Christian churches and offered on the international art and antiques market. Museums around the world have now created a "red list" of stolen Christian art from Syria.

Colonel Ezad is aware of the threat to the cultural, religious and national heritage of Maaloula. "That makes everything much more difficult for us", he explains. What he means: One cannot simply bomb Maaloula from outside without the risk of damaging its historical treasures. Therefore, the Syrian army engages in smaller battles and skirmishes with the Islamist guerrillas to expel the terrorists. Hundreds of terrorists have fallen in recent weeks and months, says the Colonel; but the reinforcements arriving to the rebels are all about prestige.

One thing seems to be certain: Work only begins after the Syrian army brings Maaloula completely under its control. "We hope that the civilians come back", says a soldier from Ezad’s troops. This concern seems entirely justified: Many Syrian Christians plan to leave their homes for good after their traumatic experiences. Every third of the 21 million Syrians are today refugees in their own country. Many managed to flee the country, among them at least 450,000 Christians. The Patriarch of the Greek Catholic (Melkite) Church in Damascus, Gregory III Laham, is fighting against the Christian exodus. As new waves of immigration began after the raids on several Christian towns in December, he called on the oppressed Christians to persevere. "We will remain in this blessed country even if it leads to martyrdom". Patriarch Laham wrote these lines while Syrian soldiers pulled out the bodies of civilians from a well in the predominantly Christian city of Sadat. Islamist terrorists had killed the Christians and thrown them into a well.

 

Pictures from my trip to Maaloula in July 2012:

"Occupation is Occupation!"

PROF. ALEXANDR DUGIN IS A PHILOSOPHER, AND A  PROFESSOR AT MOSCOW STATE UNIVERSITY. DUGIN IS THE LEADER OF THE INTERNATIONAL “EURASIAN MOVEMENT”,  HE IS KNOWN FOR THE BOOK FOUNDATIONS OF GEOPOLITICS

PROF. ALEXANDR DUGIN IS A PHILOSOPHER, AND A  PROFESSOR AT MOSCOW STATE UNIVERSITY. DUGIN IS THE LEADER OF THE INTERNATIONAL “EURASIAN MOVEMENT”,  HE IS KNOWN FOR THE BOOK FOUNDATIONS OF GEOPOLITICS

Prof. Dugin, the NSA spying scandal caused a deep impact on the German-American relations. We Germans are told since decades that Washington is our „friend” and „partner“. Now many Germans have to realize that the US behaves until today more or less like an occupation force. Why did it take so long to realize that?

Dugin: We cannot answer this important question without historical precisions. First of all, Germany lost World War II. In May 1945 there was the unconditional surrender of the German armed forces. The answer on the total loss of the war was the total occupation by the two main powers – USA and Soviet Union. Washington and Moscow were not just the main forces at the end of the war; they also represented the two ideological camps of the post war era. The German eastern provinces, eventually annexed by Poland and the Soviet Union, and Central Germany were occupied by the Soviet army, West Germany by the US-army and its western allies UK and France. Germany was divided by two occupation forces. No part of Germany was free. Frankly speaking, occupation is occupation. There is no degree of occupation. With the Cold War ideology on both sides of occupied Germany the face of the occupation changed. Germans in the GDR were educated in a way that the Soviet Union liberated them from Nazism and that they are “free” now. The Soviet occupation was interpreted in schools and education as the guarantee of “freedom and independence”. The same we can see in the FRG, where the Anglo-Saxon occupation powers re-educated the population. There the Germans were told that the western forces liberated them in 1945 and protected their “freedom and democracy” against the “communist threat” from the East. But neither the Germans in the GDR nor in the FRG were free and sovereign, they were still occupied.

This was the past. But with the reunification of Germany in 1990 the Cold War officially ended. This is what the political leaders of all former occupation forces and the German chancellor Helmut Kohl claimed...

Dugin: This is maybe one of the biggest misinterpretations of younger German history. This was not the reunification of a free, independent and sovereign Germany – it was the absorption of one part of occupied Germany by the other part of occupied Germany. The Anglo-Saxon part of Germany simply “added” the former Soviet occupied part of Germany. This step has to do with the end of the Cold war: The socialist camp had capitulated to the capitalist camp. Now whole Germany is occupied by the West. Politically, economically, strategically and intellectually Germany is an occupied country. At the same time the former Western Cold War propaganda became a type of major philosophy for the concept of the unipolar world with just one single pole of decisions – the West.

So there was no chance in 1990 to gain real freedom?

Dugin: Of course there was a chance. After the collapse of the communist block there was no reason anymore for Western occupation of Germany. Germany didn´t need any more US-American military to defend it, because the threat was gone. Post-Soviet Russia was too weak to present any type of challenge or danger for Germany. There was no need at all for the presence of US-American military on German soil. The pure and naked fact that they didn´t leave Germany after 1990 shows that it is still an occupied country. The spying scandal against the German population, the German economy and the German political leaders just exposes this fact again.

When the “Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany” was negotiated in 1990 the Soviet leader Michail Gorbatchev accepted a NATO-Germany and withdrew the Soviet soldiers, but the American soldiers and nuclear war heads are still here until today. Why wasn´t Gorbatchev campaigning for a free, neutral and independent Germany?

Dugin: Generally speaking, the whole period of the early 1990´s is regarded in modern Russia as a time of the “great betrayal” of our national interests. All what was made in internal and external politics by Gorbatchev and later by Boris Yeltsin is judged as a complete failure. We consider their politics as absolute stupidity and incompetence. The surrender to the West in 1990, the abandonment of GDR not for a new Germany but for a bigger FRG is considered today in Russia as one of the shames of this big betrayal. Gorbatchev and Yeltsin also sacrificed our Russia!

...you mean the Soviet Union?

Dugin: No, I mean Russia! Greater Russia was not created by the Bolsheviks; they just took over and named it Soviet Union. The state existed many hundreds of years before the Bolsheviks.

Zbigniew Brzezinski and Alexander Dugin

Zbigniew Brzezinski and Alexander Dugin

Back to Germany in 1990: German independence and neutrality was discussed even in Washington...

Dugin: I spoke with the Polish American political scientist, geostrategist and statesman who served as the United States National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski. I was asking him why the US-Americans promised Gorbatchev neutrality in the first negotiations. Brzezinski is a very brave and sincere person. He answered me honestly: “We have tricked Gorbatchev!” I think Brzezinski told me the truth.

But was Gorbatchev so naive or even stupid?

Dugin: Gorbatchev is not only naive, but also a criminal. He was giving all our strategic positions to the opponent without gaining anything in return. And in this system the German reunification fits perfectly. It was not a national German event; it was simply the exchange of one occupation regime by another in the GDR entity. There was no liberation or gaining of sovereignty for Germany, just an enlargement of the Anglo-Saxon occupied part of your country. From Washington this was a very good and clever step, the Western liberal hegemon gained power not just on the former Soviet occupied Germany but also on Eastern Europe without sacrificing one single drop of blood. We can say today: The weakness of the Soviet Union in 1990 was Germany’s misfortune. With a stronger Moscow, Germany could have become an independent, free and sovereign state.

American politicians as well as German politicians use the terms “friendship” and “partnership”...

Dugin: There is absolutely no possibility to call occupation friendship or partnership. Partnership and occupation contradict each other. The USA can´t be a real ally as long as they still occupy Germany.

Some German mainstream journalists defend the presence of the US-army facilities in Germany. They say: Germany has to be “guarded” by the Western allies because we behaved “unreliably” in the past...

Dugin: (laughs) Really? Let us take a look at today´s Germany. Your country is completely liberal, democratic and absolutely innocent in its internal and foreign politics. Again: There is not just one single reason for occupation – but the occupation lasts. And this is the real scandal – not the spying and the activities of US intelligence in Germany. This status quo situation becomes now obvious for the German society. More and more Germans ask why the occupation continues and what for?

Those Politicians and Journalists answer very clearly: because of the “shame of the past”...

Dugin: This “shame of the past” was long ago. It becomes harder and harder to justify occupation by events that happened around 70 years ago. For Germany it is challenge today, because the established political class in Berlin got used to the situation of occupation; but this cannot continue forever. So today there is only one choice: either end the occupation or accept it as a type of eternal situation in Germany.

The longer time passes to the unconditional surrender of the German armed forces in 1945, the more we celebrate the US-Americans and their army as “liberators”...

Dugin: No one can continue this demagogy forever. There is no reason for Germany to be member of the NATO, no reason for US-American troops to be on German soil, no reason to regard Washington anymore as an “ally”, no reason to consider national interest of USA and Germany as the same. In all aspects Germany has its own agenda. So in long term there can only be one solution: Germany should reaffirm itself as an independent, free and sovereign political entity. Whatever US-American or German politicians talk, the truth is very simple: There is no freedom with occupation. If the Germans want freedom, independence and sovereignty, they should rebel against the occupation. Not rebelling against occupation means accepting it.

That sounds too easy...

Dugin: (laughs) Of course this is not easy at all. We talk about a very important, historical and decisive political step. But it is inevitable, because the logic of occupation becomes now more and more transparent. It is not possible anymore to hide that situation. The US-American presence in Germany is based on pure political and military power and not on any strategical reasons of Germany. It is now clear for everybody in Germany – but recognizing this fact is very difficult.

So the NSA scandal is nothing else other than just a symptom of the real problem – the occupation?

Dugin: Absolutely! We shouldn´t get confused by turning a symptom to the real problem. Whatever the Americans do in Germany, they do it with a background as an occupation force. By the way: Washington doesn´t “spy” on Germany – Washington simply controls its territory. After World War II the US were masters of half of Europe – now they are masters of whole Europe. Washington interfering in internal political affairs of the European states is not “foreign politics” - it is seen as a form of internal politics.

In German mainstream media as well as in press releases of German politicians we can read the following interpretation of the NSA scandal: “We should be happy that our friends spy on us and not authoritarian states such as Russia! This would be much worse!” Is that a revival of the Cold War rhetoric or simply a diversionary maneuver?

Dugin: Yes, I read this strange argumentation theory too. But we have to understand what “network warfare” means. It is a sort of information and intelligence war. One of the principles of that warfare is not only to control the enemies but also the allies. Whoever is a partner today could turn into an opponent tomorrow. Germany is precisely under attack. Defending the US-American interests in German mainstream media and politics is one aspect of that warfare as well as to “immunize” the German public against Russia. I am convinced that those people who are behind the defense of US interests and behind anti-Russian campaigns are strategic information weapons of the US control on Germany.

Critics would answer now: “Come on Prof. Dugin, you are a conspiracy theorist!”

Dugin: (laughs) Sure, they would do that. But the concept of “network warfare” was declared openly in the 1990s by the US government.

The established political class in Berlin, especially our chancellor Angela Merkel and her CDU party, is pro-American. During the Prism scandal in June 2013, they defended the interests of Washington. Now, after it came out that the NSA was spying on the mobile phone of the chancellor, they cannot avoid anymore a reaction. But they just discuss about worldwide privacy rights, never about occupation or national sovereignty. Doesn´t the pro-American German government distract the real problem?

Dugin: I am not sure about that. We can consider this situation as the first stage of appearance on the surface of the most important real problem. Let us talk frankly: We cannot expect from the present political class of Germany any declaration of sovereignty rights. This is quite unrealistic, isn´t it?

It would be a type of miracle...

Dugin: So let us not hope for miracles in politics. The present political class of Germany does what it can. The German politicians try a soft form of protest what could be acceptable for the occupation force. It is a kind of “critics from below”. It comes along like: The little private citizen is a bit irritated by the annoying surveillance by the government of their private affairs. It is the reaction of the weak, of the completely subdued, the servile reaction of the slave in front of the master.

For sure not the reaction among equal partners...

Dugin: Not at all. But let us not be too pessimistic.

Why not?

Dugin: I think this reaction nevertheless shows a kind of understanding of the situation. It recognizes that it cannot go on like this without any change. The society is more and more unsatisfied with this situation. Germany is economically well, socially more or less well while the European states around it face very difficult challenges. Germany is the engine of Europe. In this situation, the US-American dominance contradicts Germany´s national interests more and more as well as the mutual European interests. I am convinced that the German political class found now the most innocent way to react because they have to whether they want to or not. It is by the way very logic that the German government doesn´t protest against the violation of sovereignty rights of Germany.

Why that?

Dugin: Because Germany is not a sovereign state. If you don´t have sovereignty rights, they cannot be violated by others. If Germany wants to become a sovereign state, it should rebel against occupation. Liberation comes first, then sovereignty. You cannot pretend to be sovereign and free as long you are occupied.

Rebellion” sounds violent!

Dugin: (smiles) Not at all, this is a cliché. Rebellion would be if a German chancellor demands openly from the US government to withdraw the US troops from German soil.

Now we talk really about miracles!

Dugin: Wasn´t the German reunification also considered a very unlikely miracle even in the summer of 1989?

You make a point! But anyway: Right now Berlin seems to be more faithful to Washington than other Western countries.

Dugin: I think Germany is a very disciplined nation. The German leadership feels hired by their masters in Washington. In the American-German relationship, we witness maybe a tragic relaunch of the old claim of the German Waffen-SS “Meine Ehre heißt Treue” (“My honor is loyalty”). This time the loyalty is towards the USA.

What an interesting interpretation of American-German relations...

Dugin: (laughs) Yes, it is a sort of fidelity. But I think just a part of the German society shares this attitude with the political elite of your country.

Our government claims that there is no alternative to the transatlanticist politics and the “partnership” with the US...

Dugin: The German independence is a completely rationally calculated and inevitable future step which has to come one day. It is the interest of the German society as well as the economy. Let us take a look at the German society today: It is liberal and democratic. There is no revanchist or nationalist influence today anymore. When we talk about German sovereignty, those things don´t play any role. There are pure social, rational and economic reasons for Germany to break away from the strategies dictated by Washington. The reason is that all those aspects get more and more in conflict with the US which wants to organize and control its European space as well as other regions in the world. We need to expect the German revival not from the nationalist or traditionalist part of the German society which is weak and completely saturated by the “shame of the past”. But even the liberal and democratic spectrum of the German society has a vivid interest in independence from the US. German economists have today a deep interest against US-American control. We find the German society today in a very deep conflict with Washington; it is not just about NSA spying.

You speak about economics, social aspects and the liberal society of Germany. What role do things like “German national identity” play in the conflict with the US?

Dugin: I knew this question would come...

...because it is an important aspect?

Dugin: It is, but it will not play any role in the near future conflict with Washington. Such aspects are completely forbidden today. Let us be realistic: Even in Germany itself issues like “German national identity” are not discussed. When it doesn´t play any role in Germany itself, how shall this be a major point of conflict with Washington? The conflicts of economic and social interests between Washington and Berlin are today much more dangerous for the US presence in Germany and Europe than any identitarian or national-cultural agenda.

So in your opinion our national identity will not play any role today or in the future in the “German question”?

Dugin: I didn´t say that! For sure it will not play any role in the near future and in the question of German emancipation from the US-American occupation power. Now we have completely rational reasons for such emancipation which worries Washington much more than any traditionally anti-American aspects in Germany.

A couple of weeks ago there was an ironic situation in a German talk show. The former US ambassador in Germany, John Kornblum, gave a lecture to German politicians and journalists. He said that Washington and Berlin are “partners”, not “friends”. Otto von Bismarck once stated that foreign politics is about interests, not about friendship. How comes a US diplomat gives us lectures in Bismarck’s way of thinking today?

Alexander Dugin and Manuel Ochsenreiter in Freiburg (Germany)

Alexander Dugin and Manuel Ochsenreiter in Freiburg (Germany)

Dugin: I don´t wonder at all about such a situations. After World War II the free thought especially about the relations to the occupation power was absolutely prohibited in Germany. Before 1945 we witnessed a nation’s centered thought about the destiny of Germany in all political camps of your country. Communists, Social Democrats, Centrists, National conservatives and National Socialists had the German nation in the center of their thoughts. German patriotism was not an invention by the National Socialists at all as many Germans might believe today. The nation centered thinking in politics is found also in other countries like France, USA, UK or Russia. It is completely normal to think national centered. And it was until 1945 also a German tradition. After 1945 this thinking was prohibited and defamed in Germany. The Germans were obliged all of the sudden to think for “humanity”, “the international community”, “the Western values” or in any other cosmopolitical ways. The reeducation in the post war period was about securing that the new German elite will not work to establish a free and independent Germany. The complete absence of any possibility of a national centered way of thinking in German politics was made by the Soviet power in the GDR and by the Americans in the FRG. The Germans were educated in the anti-German way of thinking. We cannot expect from the German elite or intellegencia, of course with a few exceptions, any German centered thought. So we shouldn´t wonder at all that German politicians and intellectuals speak in terms of “friendship” and not about “interests” when it comes to the relations with the occupation force. When a German politician leaves that sphere, he will be immediately suppressed by those Germans who defend exactly this anti-German sphere. It is a sort of mental and intellectual “Gulag” or “concentration camp”. But this time the Americans are the commanders and masters of this camp and the German elite plays the role of the “Kapo”, the camp police. You should either accept this or rebel. For rebellion, it is still too early, but it will come for sure. A free and independent Germany is a big chance for whole Europe. Europe can only emancipate from American dominance with an emancipated Germany.

"The church stands on the side of the people!"

Gregorios III Laham, Patriarch of Antioch and of All the East, of Alexandria and of Jerusalem of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church

Gregorios III Laham, Patriarch of Antioch and of All the East, of Alexandria and of Jerusalem of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church

Your Beatitude, Christians in Syria celebrate this year their third Christmas since the crisis began. How is your community celebrating Christmas this year?

Gregorios III: We have now had an experience with the crisis, but we move on. The Syrian Christians traditionally celebrate with the Christmas tree, nativity and lights in the windows. The families devote the Christmas season for reflection. Before Christmas we have in Damascus the assembly of bishops, deacons and nuns of various Christian denominations. The day is spent with prayer, reflection and repentance, and we have a meal together.

So everything is as before the crisis?

Gregorios III: Actually, everything is as before, except for some minor differences. Previously, people met at night to pray together, today they do it during the day. They prefer to stay at home at night because of the general security situation. And there is a difference: in the past, Christmas was celebrated more openly and Christian dignitaries met with representatives of the Syrian government. Today we hold back. But the churches in Syria are as full as before the war. I am looking forward to our Christmas party. A few weeks ago I wrote to all our bishops that they pray for the success of the planned peace talks in Geneva.

The war in Syria has already claimed the lives of many people, including many Christians...

Gregorios III: People commemorate at Christmas their dead and the fallen. Thousands of Christians were victims of the war in Syria, their families mourn them, and they find solace in the celebration of Christ's birth. I have therefore launched an initiative: All names of the fallen and murdered are to be compiled on a list. I am going to write all these families a letter in which I express my condolences to them. Also, I am committed that these families receive a small financial donation so they can celebrate Christmas together.

How has everyday life changed for the Syrian Christians since 2011?

Gregorios III: Syria is secure and insecure at the same time.
The unpredictability of the situation causes trouble to all Syrians, whether Christians, Sunnis, Shiites, Alawites or Druze. A grenade can fall from the sky or a bomb explodes, everything is destroyed and people die. I can give you an example: Jaramana, a suburb of Damascus, was hit by about 2,800 grenades during the war; I am not even counting the bomb explosions. A grenade hit the Vatican Embassy in Damascus on November 6. This all makes life insecure. But I can give you one reassurance: Most people lead a normal life despite the risk. They go to work and go shopping at the market. This shows the strength of these people. Whether Christians or Muslims, Syrians especially in Damascus want to lead a normal life.

In other areas in Syria it is less easy than in Damascus...

Gregorios III: In Damascus too it is not easy! The people naturally avoid large gatherings and they stay home when it gets dark. But it is much more critical in other areas. The famous Christian pilgrimage Maalula was stormed by armed gangs in early September, the city Sadad with a large Syrian Orthodox community was attacked in late October. More than 50 people were killed. The terrorist attackers brutally killed several people; five of the murdered were thrown into a well. This is an incredible tragedy. And in Aleppo, people are living like in a prison; the city is surrounded by armed groups.

Kidnapping is a major problem in Syria...

Gregorios III: People are kidnapped, including many Christians. In April, the Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim and the Greek Orthodox Bishop Bulos Yazigi were abducted by armed gangs. It does not only hit high dignitaries, ordinary Syrians are also victims of kidnapping. Relatives of mine were also abducted. During the attack on Maalula six people were abducted by the attackers, their whereabouts are still unknown.

You mentioned the two abducted Syrian bishops. Are there any signs of life?

Gregorios III: No. The earth has swallowed them; there are no signs until yet.

There once circulated the rumor that the two bishops were transported to Turkey...

Gregorios III: There are many rumors. Not only in terms of the location of the bishops but also their release. It was said on several occasions that they would be released soon, but never confirmed. Unfortunately, I have to say that to date there is no reliable information. But they are very likely still alive.

What is the role of fleeing and expulsion?

Gregorios III: Unfortunately, a large one. About 450,000 Syrian Christians have fled since the crisis began. Many of them have left the country mainly to Lebanon. The houses and shops of these people were destroyed during the war, often they were driven out by extremists. More than 40 churches have been destroyed so far. The brutality of the bandits is often limitless. The church stands on the side of the people. And that's always been and will always remain so. Our facilities have become focal points for the Syrians who need help. And we help all oppressed Syrians, whether Christians or Muslims.

In Europe and the U.S. Christian groups and parties have repeatedly declared their support for the "rebels" in Syria, even the German CDU has...

Gregorios III: It must be said fairly that Germany has held back if compared to other European countries. Overall, the European countries support the so-called "armed opposition" in Syria. According to the United Nations, there are countless different groups of so-called rebels fighting in Syria. These militias are uncontrollable; they kill civilians and destroy their homes. I ask myself: How can you be on the side of these people? I understand very well that you support a political opposition, but not bandits and terrorists. This support is irresponsible and criminal.

Is this support of the rebels discussed in the Christian communities in Syria?

Gregorios III: This affects not only the Christians, but all Syrians. Muslims and Christians in Syria are on other hand shocked that Europe supports these criminal gangs. The Syrians are not only disappointed, but outraged. They agree that Europe has no right to do so.

The European supporters of the rebels say they do so in the interest of the Syrians...

Gregorios III: Excuse me, but this is really nonsense. As I said earlier, political opposition is quite different than these criminal gangs. The European countries want to overthrow the Syrian government and President Bashar al-Assad. You might think it is all about one person. But this is anything but logical. Rather than acting in a positive and constructive way, the EU countries simply sponsor the destruction of Syria. Where is the alternative to the present government in Damascus? Who will replace it? Where is the opposition? It has no face. Throughout this war, there is no political opposition, there is only chaos and violence.

The western mainstream media writes that the opposition demonstrated peacefully in the beginning; it was only later, in self-defense against the Syrian army, that it armed itself...

Gregorios III: This is wrong. These gangs were active from the beginning, but no one wanted to believe us. The violence was always there. I have read the reports in the European media and was appalled by the lies and false allegations. It is a big conspiracy against Syria.

In Germany the mainstream media writes that the Syrian Christians act "loyal to the regime" because they fear for their "privileges" and that they are the "profiteers of the dictatorship" ...

Gregor III: (Laughing) they write about us as if we are immature children! These so-called privileges are a myth. Religious freedom is not the achievement of our government or any party. This is part of our Syrian identity that different religions live together peacefully and freely. Neither Assad nor his father Hafez, nor the ruling Baath Party have introduced this religious freedom here, it existed long before. Religious freedom is not a "privilege"! It is our tradition, an important pillar of our Syrian national and cultural identity.

"The Christians hold on to the regime," writes the largest German newspaper BILD ...

Gregorios III: What is that, I ask myself? Such statements show only how the media would like to see us: in struggle against the government. And because Christians behave normally and do not fight against the government in Damascus, they are now called "loyal to the regime". But to whom shall we run to please? To armed gangs? The question concerns not only the Christians in Syria. I assume that 60 to 80 percent of Syrians are "loyal to the regime" in the eyes of the West. You see, we Christians are ordinary Syrian citizens, we have no special status. We are neither preferred nor discriminated. We love our country, regardless of who is in power in Damascus. Our Christian bishops are accused that they speak with the government. But who shall they speak with otherwise? They are in favor of reconciliation, not weapons and violence. I espouse that the people come together again. This is an eyesore to the Europeans, because of their political interests they would rather see Syria in chaos and violence.

The established European media and governments always claim that there is a religious war raging in Syria. The Sunni majority of the country revolting against Alawites, Christians and Shiites...

Gregorios III: Nonsense. The victims of this war are Christians and Muslims alike. Syrians, no matter what religion they belong to, stick together in the peaceful regions. In the war zones there are mainly Muslim victims of gangs who call themselves Muslim. From the 120,000 dead in this war the majority of Muslims were killed by Islamist extremist gangs.

Maalula 2012: Manuel Ochsenreiter during an interview with a nun

Maalula 2012: Manuel Ochsenreiter during an interview with a nun

The Sanctuary of Maalula was a few weeks ago stormed and captured by "rebels", the Syrian army was able to clean the city and the old monastery again. Also Sednaya is regularly bombarded by "rebels". How serious is the threat to the Christian heritage in Syria?

Gregorios III: The risk is real. Churches and monasteries are being plundered and robbed. Precious icons have disappeared or destroyed. These treasures are irreplaceable and probably gone forever. But the martyrdom from Maalula is more moving than the material loss of cultural goods.

What do you mean?

Gregorios III: There were three real martyrs in Maalula. Three Christians were told by the Islamist attackers that they should convert to the Muslim faith. The Christians said to them: "We respect your faith, but we are Christians, and we want to die as Christians". Then the first one was shot dead, the other two had to watch it. So even though they knew the attackers were serious, they refused to drop their Christian faith. They were also killed. This is real martyrdom.

How do you see the chances for peace in Syria?

Gregorios III: I believe in the power of prayer. The whole world thought that Syria will be bombed by the United States at the same time when Pope Francis was calling in early September to pray for peace in Syria. But it did not happen. And I am sure that this is also thanks to our prayers. The Syrian government agreed to the destruction of its chemical weapons which was a good and important step. The acute danger of a fire storm on Syria was averted. Now it is important that all the powers involved, whether the countries of the EU, the U.S., Russia, Iran, the Gulf States and Syria of course, work together to find a peaceful solution. To pray for that is worthy!

Your Beatitude, thank you for the interview and a merry and peaceful Christmas.

 

Father of the Nation

Interview with Sheikh Hassun in Damascus, Summer 2013

Interview with Sheikh Hassun in Damascus, Summer 2013

A once welcomed guest can quickly become a persona non grata when political winds change. A red carpet was rolled out when the Grand Mufti of Syria Sheikh Ahmad Badr Al -Din Hassun was traveling through Germany in 2007 for eleven days. The Muslim communities and associations listened to his words as well as the German Bundestag. Three years later, in May 2010, the Syrian Grand Mufti was invited again to Germany. Deutsche Welle even praised him as "one of the most important representatives of the Euro-Arab inter-religious dialogue". The Syrian high dignitaries discussed in a relaxed atmosphere at the CDU - affiliated Konrad Adenauer Foundation with the Chairman of the Foundation, Hans-Gert Pöttering. The CDU politician showed himself as the great admirer of Syria and the Mufti in his welcome speech. "This step for an open and constructive dialogue between religions and cultures will be one far beyond the borders of Syria and the Arab-Muslim world, reaching beyond appreciation and bringing mutual respect", Pöttering praised his important guest. The talk about the clash of civilizations with a voice of reason made Hassun an important interlocutor. Ahmad Badr Al -Din Hassun quickly became the mainstream media’s darling during his visits to Germany. He was the "broker" and the "builder of bridges", hailed as the "cosmopolitan face of Islam", "the Mufti in the world of mankind".

This was more than three years ago. Today Ahmad Hassun is the Grand Mufti of a country sinking in a bloody war since two and a half years. One-third of the country is destroyed; more than 100,000 Syrians estimated dead. The German media that once celebrated him does not acknowledge him anymore. The "builder of bridges" became overnight a "regime supporter". The red carpet in Germany is now being rolled out for others - for those who supposedly speak for the so called "revolution" in their country.

In a hotel in Damascus Mufti Hassun sits at the end of a long conference table and takes a sip from his glass of water. His bodyguards are discreet but visible from the front door of the conference room. A camera crew scurries outside with countless cable carriers packing the gear. A few minutes ago Hassun sat on a small platform and discussed the chances of a national reconciliation with invited guests. The debate was recorded and will be broadcast in a few days in the Syrian public television.

But now he takes the time to greet a visitor from Germany. He is happy and immediately points towards the empty seat next to him with a welcoming gesture. Sheikh Hassun radiates dignity; he speaks softly and uses his words carefully. He is aware of his influence. The Grand Mufti is a man who can "set fire and extinguish fire" with his words, the German mainstream news magazine Der Spiegel wrote once in a rather bizarre interview in 2011; bizarre because Der Spiegel journalists tried to corner Hassun in vain. You could call the actions of the Hamburg news magazine as impious. The interview was conducted in early November 2011, about a month after the youngest son of the Grand Mufti, Saria, was killed in Aleppo by a hit squad. Immediately after the attack on Saria, Hassun publicly declared the renunciation of vengeance and retribution; he even declared his willingness to forgive the murderers if they laid down their weapons. Nevertheless, this could not stop the German journalists from drawing Hassun as a kind of "regime servant" - mind you the same Grand Mufti who the German media celebrated frantically earlier on. But the winds change fast with us, therefore, it is hardly surprising that the Spiegel editors not only ignored Hassun`s reminder of a rebellion which did not exist, but also dismissed the fact that foreign terrorists would bring violence to the country as a "conspiracy theory". Today they are a bit smarter and even the mainstream media must sheepishly admit that Syria has become a magnet for international terrorism.

Hassun hails from the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, a once jewel of the Middle East. Today, large parts of his hometown lie in smoking ruins. The so-called "rebels" have a hunger blockade built around those “stubborn” parts of the metropolis that do not want to concede to the “revolution”. "I had five sons, now only four". Meanwhile, the background of Saria`s assassination is well known and the members of the death squads were arrested and interrogated. The 21 year old Saria studied at the University of Aleppo. It was a well-planned contract killing. The men who carried out the cold blooded murder did not know who the target was. They received from their clients only a communique with the car plate number. It was after the murder that they learned from the TV news that the victim was the youngest son of the Grand Mufti. The two perpetrators come from the area of Aleppo, the clients from Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Each perpetrator received 50,000 Syrian pounds - about 260 euros as a reward. How cheap. Sheikh Hassun pleaded to the judge telling that he forgave the perpetrators. On the same day he received a text message on his mobile phone that read: "we do not need your forgiveness". This topic has not left him cold, even not two years after the death of his son. In our conversation the Grand Mufti shows restraint, even if the subject hurts.

Sheikh Hassun is 64 years old, but you cannot see a single gray hair on his head. He looks much younger. And he is a stranger to anger. During his visit to Germany some journalists wrote about the "smile" of the highest Sunni cleric in Syria. His smile is not a cheap act, but shows his true character. Sheikh Hassun is surrounded by constant danger. He is on the top of the mercenaries` death list. To the powers involved in the Syrian war, he is a dangerous man. This sounds paradoxical. His good nature and his readiness to forgive are a constant nuisance to the mission of Sunni extremists, also to the Gulf States and the West, who support the terrorists with money and weapons.


Hassun debunks the story of the alleged "popular uprising" in Syria as a cheap fairy tale. Information is circulating in politics and media about plans in which Syria ceases to exist as a nation state. Instead, the country with a long history would be split in various religious entities. The talk among other things is about an Alawite state on the coast, a Kurdish region in the north and a kind of Sunni caliphate in Damascus. The approximate two million Syrian Christians only have the opportunity in these simulations to pack their bags. The basis of such ideas to crush the Syrian nation-state is the assumption that one can no longer expect to have a secular state in which Sunnis (about 70 percent of the total population), Shiites, Alawites, Christians and Druze live together. The "Syrian uprising" was portrayed as a rebellion by the allegedly "oppressed Sunni majority" demanding its rights. The logic of many Western politicians: In a country with 70 percent of Sunnis, this quota should also apply to politics and business, everything else is brutal oppression. And they call this sectarian idea “democracy”. There is a considerable nuisance when this theory is shut down by the highest Sunni authority in the country, therefore, they try to hush him now in the West, and kill him in Syria. And Sheikh Hassun keeps on smiling. He is not afraid of death, but all the more for his country. "I am not only the Grand Mufti of the Sunnis", says Hassun and pulls on his beard. "I feel as the Grand Mufti of all 23 million Syrians, not just the Sunnis, but also the Shiites, Alawites, Christians and Druze. There is no other way than that of reconciliation". When he says this, he spreads his hands out as if embracing his country. And the fact remains: No matter if you speak with Sunnis, Shiites or Christians in Syria, Sheikh Hassun has been for long the father of his country. His schedule is full, he mourns with Christian families for their fallen sons, he consoles in his speeches those who have lost their belongings and family members in the war.

Sheikh Hassun spreads confidence. His eyes sparkle and he smiles broadly when he talks about how his country can rise again from the ashes of war. He reaches out to his counterpart during the long conversation again and again. It is not without concern though when he comes to Germany for a speech. He talks about his visit to the Turkish-Islamic communities. Many Turks there were German citizens, says Hassun. He wondered about why they spoke almost exclusively Turkish. Hassun asked them whether they saw themselves as Turks or German – they had German passports after all. "We are, of course, Turks" was the reply. "If that is so, then why don`t you go back to Turkey?" Hassun answered the puzzled Turkish community members. You cannot read about such debates in the German press. "Such an attitude causes problems!". Hassun shakes his head. He could not understand the mentality of many Muslim communities in Germany.

Sheikh Hassun has developed a seismographic sense for religious conflicts. Only a secular state could be a guarantor of peace and balance, he's convinced. European support to the enemies of Syria is almost self-destructive, for the poison of religious hatred knows no bounds; it is decomposing and destructive. And it seems that Hassun is right: Especially some big Sunni organizations in Europe openly declared their solidarity and support for the "rebels" in Syria. The German politicians who shook the hand of the Grand Mufti three years ago now support the so-called "armed opposition" - in reality an army of brutal mercenaries from around the world. And even CDU man Pöttering quickly changed sides in 2011, as it was clear that the U.S. wanted a regime change in Damascus. You could describe Pöttering `s behavior as spineless; nevertheless, Sheikh Hassun is too polite to say that. He has a clear message to Germany and Europe: "Help yourself by helping Syria. Because this war will spread, it will come to Europe through Turkey. And if we are still alive, we will remind you of our words". But this warning is likely to fall on deaf ears in Europe. Hassun does not give up. He never seems to lose patience, he smiles instead in a friendly way and explains everything one more time.

Only when Sheikh Hassun talks about his murdered son, Saria, his eyes become weary and it takes him a lot of power to preserve his demeanor. In this issue he is aware that he is a role model. But he is not only the Grand Mufti of Syria, a close confidant of President Bashar al -Assad and an important moral authority of his nation; he is also simply a grieving father.

Make Makramé, not Warmongering!

Navid Nasr is an US-based Iranian activist and radio host on "Voices of the 99%"-Radio. 

Navid Nasr is an US-based Iranian activist and radio host on "Voices of the 99%"-Radio. 

Mr. Nasr, our politicians, intellectuals, media moguls and professors always told us: The political Left is struggling for global peace, they are pacifists. Where do we find their protests against the US-wars and Western proxy wars today?

Nasr: Non-existent for the most part. In fact, in 2011, in the middle of the war on Libya, exactly at the point and time when NATO warplanes were acting as the air force for the local Al-Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood affiliates, some of the most prominent leftists in the DC area not only did NOT organize or so much as lift one finger or utter a single word against the war, they actually attacked and ridiculed what little anti-war organizing that actually was happening.

In the past disputes about territory, population and resources were the reasons of war – today more and more “human rights”. Is this credible?

Nasr: I don't even know where to begin. Most of the people who believe and spout this tripe are not idiots. But they exhibit an incredible degree of naivete that only be called child-like. They're reading from an entirely different playbook than the one that is actually in use. If the masters of the world are reading from "The Art of War" and "The Prince," the "human rights" crowd is reading "The Happy Little Elves Go to the Market". I'm being generous here, though. Many of the younger activists who espouse the "human rights" line are also building up their resumes so that they can eventually get a job in one of the more respectable and influential GONGOs in this city.

In the West we witness since a certain time so called “left wing falcons” like the US-American writer Paul Berman but also the former German foreign minister and head of the green party Joschka Fischer. They call for war to “liberate” so called “backwarded” or “totalitarian” societies – if necessary with the Army. Isn´t this somehow consequent from their point of view?

Nasr: When we talk about Berman and Fischer we're talking about just two names in the entire pantheon of "God That Failed", reformed ex-Communist intellectuals, who became true believers in "Democratic Capitalism," which they often equate with "freedom." They have merely substituted one evangelical faith for another and now seek to impose "democracy" at sword-point on every recalcitrant, non-"cooperative," non-subordinate nation around the world. The world would be a much saner, peaceful and more enjoyable place if they just decided to stay home, stop writing and speaking and holding office and just master the art of macramé or something.

Berman says more or less, the West should go on war for women rights, gay rights, equal rights, racism, religious fanatism and so on. He criticizes values like sovereignty and the right of national self-determination as values of the last centurie(s)...

Nasr: Ugh... I don't even know where to begin. Selectively applied cudgels against "misbehaving" peoples and states? That's one counter-argument I could make. But the thing is, for Berman and his ilk it's ultimately about power. Whether it's the "hard power" of the US military or the "soft power" of "human rights activists" and "N"GOs (each of them focusing on one of the ills you delineated here). Berman fulfills the role of many who came before him, intellectually paving the way for conquests and wars to come.

Joschka Fischer justified the German participation in the attack against Serbia in 1999 with an “antifascist” rhetoric. Also the US-administration uses those motives from time to time. What do you think?

Nasr: Well, it's ironic then that the state which Germany chose to most identify with and aid during the war, Croatia, was also the only one headed by an out-and-out fascist, Tudjman. More importantly than that though, at this point "fascist" has lost any real meaning and simply become a political term of derogation on par with "doo doo head." It just means "some one, or some political system or nation, that I/we really, really, REALLY don't like." Few people have actually bothered to read the full text of Milosevic's "infamous" speech at Kosovo Polje. Those who have heard it know that it bears no resemblance to the cartoonish call for genocide that it was presented to the world at large via NATO and its mass media.

Was the political Left in the West hijacked by “Liberal” or “Conservative” warmongers?

Nasr: Neither. The political left was hijacked by people who sought to placate bourgeois liberals and their sensibilities. NGO's, labor unions, "professional activism" all have contributed greatly to the current state of the Left. From a geopolitical/international perspective most anarchist and Trotskyist tendencies have shown themselves to be willing handmaidens of imperial aims around the globe. Any country anywhere where the disgruntled segment of its population makes it presence known, they are in favor of overthrowing and "regime changing."

On the other side some so-called “right wing” intellectuals like the French writer Alain de Benoist or the Russian political analyst and philosopher Prof. Alexandr Dugin protest against Western military operations and interference into inner affairs of sovereign states – and call for peace. Do you see a deeper political change?

Nasr: Yeah, as a friend of mine always points out, the divide here is not between "right" and "left" so much as it is between "Atlanticists" and "Eurasianists." Obviously I favor the latter.

The Terror Globetrotters

Annie Machon is a former intel­li­gence officer for MI5, the UK Secur­ity Ser­vice, who resigned in the late 1990s to blow the whistle on the spies’ incom­pet­ence and crimes with her ex-partner, David Shayler. Draw­ing on her var­ied exper­i­ences, she is now a pub­lic speaker, writer, media pun­dit, polit­ical cam­paigner, and PR con­sult­ant. She is also now the Dir­ector of LEAP, Europe. 

Annie Machon is a former intel­li­gence officer for MI5, the UK Secur­ity Ser­vice, who resigned in the late 1990s to blow the whistle on the spies’ incom­pet­ence and crimes with her ex-partner, David Shayler. Draw­ing on her var­ied exper­i­ences, she is now a pub­lic speaker, writer, media pun­dit, polit­ical cam­paigner, and PR con­sult­ant. She is also now the Dir­ector of LEAP, Europe. 

Mrs. Machon, the world was shocked by the terrorist attack against civilians in a shopping mall in Kenya´s capital Nairobi. At least 39 people were killed and more than 150 were injured, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said. The militant Islamist group “Al-Shabab”, based in Somalia, claimed responsibility for the attack via Twitter, saying it was in retaliation “for the lives of innocent Muslims” killed by Kenyan forces leading an African Union offensive against Al-Shabab.

Machon: This is a very obvious case of a “blow back”. We shouldn´t forget the fact that last year Kenya had a large military operation in its neighbor country Somalia with the support of the West – the “Operation Linda Nchi” (“Protect the country”). The Al-Shabab group was the main target of the operation. This was of course a military operation against a sovereign state. President of Somalia Sharif Ahmed stated very clear that he welcomed Kenyan logistical support, but he was against the Kenyan military presence in Somalia.

Somalia is not known as a stable state at all...

Machon: Somalia is a magnet for international jihadists and the country has become a type of “finishing school” for international terrorism. The Western intelligence agencies confirm that. The head of the British MI5 went on the record in 2010 and said that there are about 100 UK citizens fighting in Somalia as jihadists. It is interesting that the MI5 corrected now the number to around 50. This is not because the interest is down; it is because most of the international jihadists are heading to Syria now. So we see that the western backed Kenya attack against Somalia brought its violent blow back now to the Nairobi shopping mall.

Even the Al-Shabab group which attacked Nairobi is giving the impression to be multinational: Maybe the most interesting figure is the so called “white widow”, a female British terrorist...

Machon: She is a good example: She has been radicalized and came to public awareness when she was widowed by Germaine Lindsay, who was one of the four alleged bombers involved in the July 7 attacks in London in 2005. He was her husband. She was questioned by the police after the terrorist attack in 2005 but she denied having any knowledge about the terrorist structures and plans. Then she resurfaced in British media several years later when she was fundraising and coordinating cash towards eastern Africa. She grew up as a normal white English school girl and ended up as a violent militant somewhere in Africa. Her story tells a lot about the process of radicalization in Western countries. She was on the radar of intelligence agencies for many years in the UK. It is interesting that especially in that week when the Nairobi attack took place the UK intelligence put out a red alert in order to capture her; she was already wanted in many countries for alleged earlier attacks. Maybe the British intelligence didn´t take her serious enough previously because she indeed is an ordinary white British woman.

We speak often about the terrorist danger brought into the West by radical Middle Eastern or African migrants – but now it is about the other direction: Europeans migrate to Syria or Somalia to fight there as Islamist militants. Do we witness the globalization of terror?

Machon: Absolutly. This is a trend we see now for a decade. Western people, most of them Muslim converts, go to other countries attacked by the West to join the jihad there. We see it in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Sudan. Many Western citizens getting radicalized and leaving their homeland to fight. We shouldn´t forget that this is not a one-way-ticket of terror. They might come back to their home countries as well trained and skilled militants. This is a big concern for everybody: For the countries where they go to fight and for their home countries when they come back.

Somalia was almost forgotten in Western media. They reported about the situation in Mali or Syria, bot Somalia seemed to be in the dead angle of attention...

Machon: The development in Somalia is really interesting. The war started there as an ordinary civil war, when the Al-Shabab militia tried to topple the Transitional Federal Government in Mogadishu in 2006. In the early days it wasn´t particularly hard lined by religion however in the last years due to the global travel of jihadists this war has become much more radicalized; it became much more fundamentalist. This war started as a local or regional conflict and has been internationalized by international Islamic extremists. The Western intelligence and law enforcement didn´t do a lot to stop their citizens to travel to those violent hot spots.

In the Nairobi attack Israel offered its help to end the terrorist action in the shopping mall. Why does Kenya need the help of Israel for reinstalling order in the capital – and what role does Israel generally play on Western influence in that region?

Machon: It is not just Israel. Washington sent for example Special Forces and CIA to Kenya, London sent Special Forces and MI6 officers. We witness quite often Western countries intervening in foreign unstable states. They offer help there, support local groups. But later they get a push back. We witness the same in Syria for example. We know for sure that there are Special Forces on the ground supporting the so called “armed opposition”. They offer training and help to the rebels. This is a very dangerous move for any Western country because you create a situation where you back groups that will fight you later on.

When we know that, why do Western governments support those groups and interfere in those hot spots?

Machon: This is a good question. Maybe the Western governments really believe that they do something good there. But perhaps they are aware about the fact that after Western military interventions failed states are created as Libya, Iraq or Afghanistan. Then they have the benefit of paralyzed countries to exploit the natural resources and to have big business with security companies there.

You mentioned the support of Western intelligence and Special Forces for radical militants especially in Syria but also in Libya or Afghanistan during the time of Soviet occupation. How big is the chance today that a CIA agent meets during an operation one of his old buddies on the other side of the front line?

Machon: (laughs) This is absolutely possible. You mentioned one of the best examples, the Afghan war. CIA agents trained and helped today´s Al Queda fighters back then. I am pretty sure that those situations happen. By the way, there was a James Bond movie back in the 1980s; it´s title was “The Living Daylights”. It is one of those James Bond movies that are not really repeated so often on TV because Bond goes to Afghanistan to free a Mujahedeen commander from a Soviet prison. So you see, it even entered the pop culture back then.

Manuel Ochsenreiter and Annie Machon in Berlin

Manuel Ochsenreiter and Annie Machon in Berlin

Sometimes there seems to be no clear line between “terrorists” and “agents”. It seems to be a bit as in the international football, where the players easily change the clubs...

Machon: I am not really an expert about football. But indeed, especially Washington and London have a long history in interfering across the planet by supporting these or those groups. It also takes place in the so called “War on Terror” or in the “War on Drugs”. They fund dangerous groups, give them military and financial support. We witness this now increasingly in the Middle East. Surely there are very bright people in those Western agencies who see that they create more long term problems than solving the present problems. The question has to be: Why do they continue doing that? Is it maybe just Einstein´s definition of insanity, when you repeat the same mistake over and over again because you expect another result? Or is it to ensure that those international conflicts don´t end so you have benefit from the instability there and create a type of surveillance and police state at home.

What “benefit” do you mean?

Machon: This situation puts a lot of money in the hands of huge security companies. It is very good for business. And many Western politicians get funded by the security company lobby or are involved in that business themselves.

Has “security” become a new sort of global currency?

Machon: Yes it is. In the unstable countries Western companies earn a lot of money with their “service”. It is a way of social control in the West as well. Just look at the USA or the UK where so many laws passed to “protect the citizens”. And thanks to Edward Snowdon we all know today that we live under a type of global “Big Brother Regime”, of course to “provide security” to the Western countries.

 

Copyright by Manuel Ochsenreiter 2013 / All rights reserved

 

 

Don´t Mention the Politics!

merkel-sprechendes-plakat_0.jpg

 

"Merkel Gets Biggest Victory Since Kohl’s Reunification Vote" - this was the news headline of Bloomberg. And at the first glance it seems correct: Angela Merkel's party – the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) – got  41.5% of the votes. The Social Democrats with their candidate Peer Steinbrück only received 25.7%, not even close to Merkel´s tally. The Greens took 8.4%, and the post-communist Left Party 8.6%. Merkel´s former coalition partner, the liberal FDP failed to reach the 5% threshold needed to gain representation in the Bundestag, getting just under the "magic number" with 4.8% of the vote. The new Eurosceptic party "Alternative für Deutschland" didn't manage to get 5 percent either.

On the night of the election, we witnessed kafkaesque scenes at the victory party of Merkel´s CDU, with the leading staff of an outfit, typically described as “conservative”in the international media, clapping hands and singing along to a song of the left-wing band “Die Toten Hosen” (the Dead Trousers). The general secretary of the CDU, Hermann Gröhe, in particular was afflicted with an embarrassing case of "dad dancing."

German and international media have been referring to the "great victory" of Angela Merkel, both celebrating it and expressing concern about her "new power." Some international journalists have asked the question why "the Germans" love Angela Merkel so much. Others have started analyzing how conservative the Germans are – after all they voted for the "conservative party." To say it frankly, everything, from the "conservativeness" of the CDU to its "great victory," is not quite what it seems to be.

Despite the party name, Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats do not stand for any idea or ideology – except that of collecting votes for Angela Merkel. The CDU has simply became her political-machine. In Bavaria the CDU's sister party, the CSU, is at least partly conservative, but elsewhere CDU-politicians campaign for multiculturalist and liberalist aims. It has now become the party where you find the old, stubborn traditional catholic alongside the gay rights activist, and the pro-life activist sharing space with the feminist. Above all, Angela Merkel and her dancing team on the stage are completely "liberated" from any ideological foundation.

Merkel´s party is everything and nothing at the same time: Social Democratic, ecologist, liberal, sometimes Christian, sometimes Muslim or Jewish, feminist, transatlanticist, pro-EU, pro-Euro currency, pro-Israel, pro-"Human Rights"... It is hard for any other political party to compete with this all-embracing political machine.

Do all those things make Angela Merkel special? Not at all. She and her party represent in a perfect way the understanding of governance in the Western world. As ever, the key question is: What would change for Europe and the World if the government in Germany changed from CDU/CSU to SPD? The answer is short and simple: Nothing.

It has became a sort of "nice tradition" for any new government to declare that policies towards the EU and foreign policies in general will not change. These things are somehow magically "fixed" without any alternative, according to German establishment politicians. At the end of the day, the German citizen can decide whether taxes here or there are increased or decreased a bit, if driving a car becomes more expensive, or if our secret service has more or fewer undercover agents. But, even in these marginal areas, who knows if the new government really keeps its promise?

In all important questions, the vote merely influences the speed at which the big political direction is pursued, but not the direction itself. This is, of course, a common thing in the Western world. In the UK it doesn't matter what party the actual warmonger prime minister belongs to. A "New Labour" Blair and a "Conservative" Cameron seem like political twins in terms of foreign politics. In France the "conservative" Sarkozy loved "humanitarian interventions" just as much as his "socialist" successor Hollande. In the Western motherland, the USA, it is hard for a foreigner to recognize any difference whether it is a Republican or a Democrat ordering the drone attacks. There is this joke circulating: A US general is delivering a speech in front of his troops in Vietnam. He talks about the great mission of the US-army in bringing freedom and democracy. The general gives an example: He mentions that there is now a McDonald's and a Burger King in Saigon. "This is the freedom of choice, this is democracy!"

During the election campaign we Germans saw at street intersections huge posters with Merkel's frowsty face with the following words written nesxt to it: "Kanzlerin für Deutschland" (Chancellor for Germany). No political content, just those three words! Nothing made it clearer that it is all about collecting votes, nothing else.

In her speeches she repeated over and over again, "We are the most successful government since the reunification!"  as if engaged in some moronic mind-control experiment. Even on the night of her victory, she didn't waste time with political positions. She said: "I see the next four years in front of me and I can promise that we will face many tasks, at home, in Europe and in the world." A big round of applause, no questions asked.

Some foreign journalists were confused. Why didn't the NSA scandal play any role in the elections? Why was the discussion about the future of the EU and the Euro currency so measly? Why was there no discussion about the German participation in international NATO-operations? And why didn't the parties discuss the demographic decline in our country?

The answer is easy. There is no dissent between the established parties on all these existential questions. They are all pro-Western, "friends of the US," pro-Euro, pro-NATO, and dedicated to solving the demographic problem simply by more immigration. Just one example: Some top figures of the former "pacifist" Greens were calling for military aggression against Syria. And how could the Social Democrats use the revelation that the US has been spying on Germany as a campaign issue when they themselves have collaborated with Washington when in government? And how could the Liberals be credible criticizing Germany's role as the paymaster of Europe when they have supported all those "Euro rescue measures"? Only the Left Party plays a small oppositional role here and there when it comes to the international military operations. But now already some top figures of the party are trying to "reform" those aspects in order to become "capable of forming a coalition."

How glorious is the victory of the CDU really? Almost one third of eligible voters don't participate anymore in the federal elections for many reasons. Only 71.5% voted. The "party of the nonvoters" became the second biggest in Germany. And around 15% of the votes cast will not be represented in parliament: This is the result of the 5% hurdle, designed to stifle support for smaller parties closely aligned with people's actual interests. When we take into account all these facts, the CDU/CSU got around 30% of the eligible vote, with nonvoters at 29%, Social Democrats 18%, Left and Greens with 6%, and 11 percent for the non-represented parties. 

What is wrong with a country where more and more people are losing interest in participating in the elections? Are these all lazy idiots or are these citizens "arrogant" as the German news magazine Der Spiegel wanted to make us believe one week before the elections? Or is it maybe the sign of a serious crisis of the political system?

 

This article was published on Alternative Right

Dancing Queens: How the CDU top figures celebrate their "victory"

No national symbols please: Angela Merkel is disguisted by the German national flag. 

Diplomatic Roller Coaster

My Interiew with Russia Today about the US-Russian agreement in Geneva today:

 

The US could move ahead with plans to intervene in Syria in spite of Damascus’s pledge to hand over its chemical weapons to international observers, Syria expert Manuel Ochsenreiter told RT.

RT: You listened to what both Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry had to say. What are your thoughts? Did their words inspire confidence in you?

MO: We witnessed maybe the most interesting times in terms of diplomacy since the end of the Cold War. For journalists covering the Syrian conflict it is like a diplomatic rollercoaster. I think we have heard so many contradicting messages, especially from the US government during the last two weeks and a half that somehow on the one side it is surprising that they reached an agreement with Russia and on the other side it is not so surprising anymore, because the US government has lost a lot of credibility not just internationally but among their own citizens, so they had to agree. If we look at today’s message from John Kerry, it’s clear that he has done a U-turn with regard to his position.

RT: Secretary Kerry went out of his way to stress the high level of cooperation between Russia and the US. Why did it take two years, though, to get here?

MO: If we look at the Syria war, and we use in media the term civil war, but it’s not a civil war, it’s a proxy war. We see that especially the US government is involved in this conflict. They are desperately trying to give reinforcement to the rebels. But we see after two and a half years of violence that there is a complete failure. The so-called armed opposition, including a large number of Jihadist extremists, haven’t managed to gain any ground in Syria. What we see now from the American side now is related to that failure of the last two and a half years. But we shouldn’t forget that this new agreement opens a new diplomatic scenario. If we listen to the words of john Kerry carefully, he was saying: “Inspect any and all sites in Syria.” So we see that there is now a scenario opening that the Americans might claim in the near future that the Syrian government is not cooperating. So I think the military option is not off the table.

RT: This deal, judging from what's been said so far, depends on both the regime’s and the rebels’ cooperation. So far the latter have refused to cooperate, but we can't forget the thousands of internationally recognized terrorists in Syria. Isn't it in their power to sink this idea entirely?

MO: While both foreign ministers were giving this press conference, in Syria tens of thousands of terrorists – a large number of them from abroad - are fighting and killing civilians and committing horrible war crimes. So reaching a practical agreement is really an important issue. We also should not forget the meaning of the chemical weapons for Syria, for the Syrian state and people. We talk about this chemical weapons stockpile in terms of an offensive weapon. But for the Syrian government the chemical weapons are like a protective armor which helps protect the independence and sovereignty of Syria. I think this is an aspect that should be considered in these discussions. 

RT: Secretary Kerry admitted that rebel groups may have gained control of certain chemical weapons stores. What do you make of that admission, the timing of it?

MO: I think he had to admit it. The US position that only the Syrian government possesses chemical weapons and the Syrian government only uses these weapons in the conflict. However there is no evidence at all of this, although the US government claims this. There is no credibility in these claims. I think the congressmen of the US know this, the population knows this, and so it would be a bizarre point of view if John Kerry insisted that the rebels don’t have chemical weapons.

RT: Won't this admission in the future only complicate any US efforts to secure UN backing for military action without an investigation?

MO: We should listen very carefully to US politicians and to what mainstream media is writing about this. We see the position that the mere existence of a chemical weapons stockpile might be reason enough to intervene, so I don’t think this will change much when it comes to military intervention. We shouldn’t forget that the West is prepared. The US has said already they will not respect any UN decision. We should not forget this.

 

First agreements have been reached in Geneva on Syria's chemical weapons - after a tiring three days of talks, Russian and American top diplomats say Damascus must reveal its arsenal within a week - and start disarming within a month. Manuel Ochsenreiter, German journalist focusing on the Syrian crisis, joins RT to discuss this issue.

Why I don´t believe the BND...

The German Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) has evidence  to conclude Syria´s President Bashar Assad ordered the suspected chemical attack in Ghouta, German media reported this last week. Now our media reports that the BND sources claim the chemical attack might have been carried out by the Syrian army without  permission from the president. 

There are many reasons why we shouldn´t think that German intelligence reports are as reliable and of high quality as industrial products "Made in Germany". 

Here are two of them: 

     

    German journalist Manuel Ochsenreiter about German intel "evidence" against Syria - chemical attack

    Questions McCain will never answer

    Senator John McCain

    Senator John McCain

    US Senator John McCain celebrates himself as the “falcon”. Right now he campaigns for a massive US aggression against Syria. He claims there are just a few Al-Qaeda terrorists fighting against the Syrian army, he claims the so called “Free Syrian Army” is a moderate opposition force.

    John McCain was in Syria in May 2013. He visited northern Syria. He entered Syria illegally from the country´s border with Turkey and stayed there for several hours before returning to Turkey. What did the Senator do there? He met with leaders of the “FSA”. McCain said he wants to provide arms, supplies and apparently US military assets to help the “FSA” overthrow the Syrian government. When McCain and his buddies posed for some propaganda photos, he maybe didn´t really know who those guys were: Kidnappers, terrorists, killers. Read more here.

    Senator McCain loves to talk about freedom, democracy and human rights. He avoids critical questions about the terrorist background of the so called “armed opposition” in Syria with the remark: “Have you been in Syria? I have been in Syria!”

    If I would be that journalist, I would answer him: “Me too!” And I would like to ask him some more questions:

    • Have you ever spoken to a Syrian who just lost a relative or close friend on the hands of your buddies?

    • Have you ever been in one of those areas where your friends are shelling Syrian civilians with the principle of contingency?

    • Did you ever meet a Syrian who was kidnapped and tortured for several weeks by the “armed opposition”?

    • Did you ever speak to Syrian refugees? Did you listen well to their words? They might have told you that they run away from your friends into government controlled areas of Syria.

    • Did you ever talk to young Syrian soldiers in a military hospital? They would have told you about an enemy who doesn´t take any prisoners of war, who slaughters down every captured soldier in the most brutal way. Were you interested in those horrible stories?

    Well, I did all these things. But John McCain would have to answer all those questions with “No”. He was for some hours with some terrorists, that´s it. And that´s not much.

    But we can learn something: Never trust a Western politician who wants to go to war with the “Humanitarian intervention” label. Most probably he doesn´t know what he is talking about.

     

    Senator John McCain feels offended by a question: "Have you been in Syria?"

    What will Russia do?

    Prof. Alexandr Dugin is a philosopher, and a  professor at Moscow State University. Dugin is the leader of the International “Eurasian Movement”,   He is known for the book Foundations of Geopolitics  

    Prof. Alexandr Dugin is a philosopher, and a  professor at Moscow State University. Dugin is the leader of the International “Eurasian Movement”,  

    He is known for the book Foundations of Geopolitics

     

    Prof. Dugin, the world faces right now in Syria the biggest international crisis since the downfall of the Eastern Block in 1989/90. Washington and Moscow found themselves in a proxy-confrontation on the Syrian battleground. Is this a new situation?

    Dugin: We have to see the struggle for geopolitical power as the old conflict of land power represented by Russia and sea power represented by the USA and its NATO partners. This is not a new phenomenon; it is the continuation of the old geopolitical and geostrategic struggle. The 1990s was the time of the great defeat of the land power represented by the USSR. Michail Gorbatchev refused the continuation of this struggle. This was a kind of treason and resignation in front of the unipolar world. But with President Vladimir Putin in the early years of 2000, came a reactivation of the geopolitical identity of Russia as a land power. This was the beginning of a new kind of competition between sea power and land power.

    How did this reactivation start?

    Dugin: It started with the second Chechen war (1999-2009). Russia by that time was under pressure by Chechen terrorist attacks and the possible separatism of the northern Caucasus. Putin had to realize all the west, the USA and the European Union took side for the Chechen separatists and Islamic terrorists fighting against the Russian army. This is the same plot we witness today in Syria or yesterday in Libya. The West gave the Chechen guerrilla support, and this was the moment of revelation of the new conflict between land power and sea power. With Putin, land power reaffirmed itself. The second moment of revelation was in August 2008, when the Georgian pro-western Sakashwili regime attacked Zchinwali in South Ossetia. The war between the Russia and Georgia was the second moment of revelation.

    The Syrian crisis is now the third moment of revelation?

    Dugin: Exactly. Maybe it is even the final one, because now all is at stake. If Washington doesn´t intervene and accept the position of Russia and China, this would be the end of the USA as a kind of candidate of a unique and super power. This is the reason why I think Obama will go far in Syria. But if Russia steps aside and accepts the US-American intervention and if Moscow eventually betrays Bachar al-Assad, this would mean immediately a very hard blow to the Russian political identity. This would signify the great defeat of the land power. After this the attack on Iran would follow and also on northern Caucasus. Among the separatist powers in northern Caucasus there are many individuals who are supported by the Anglo-American, Israeli and Saudi powers. If Syria falls, they will start immediately the war in Russia, our country. Meaning: Putin cannot step aside; he cannot give up Assad, because this would mean the geopolitical suicide of Russia. Maybe we are right now in the major crisis of modern geopolitical history.

    So right now both dominant world powers, USA and Russia, are in a struggle about their future existence…

    Dugin: Indeed. At the moment there is no any other possible solution. We cannot find any compromise. In this situation there is no solution which would satisfy both sides. We know this from other conflicts as the Armenian-Azeri or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is impossible to find a solution for both sides. We witness the same now in Syria, but on a bigger scale. The war is the only way to make a reality check.

    Why?

    Dugin: We have to imagine this conflict as a type of card game like Poker. The players have the possibility to hide their capacities, to make all kinds of psychological tricks, but when the war begins all cards are in. We are now witnessing the moment of the end of the card game, before the cards are thrown on the table. This is a very serious moment, because the place as a world power is at stake. If America succeeds, it could grant itself for some time an absolute dominant position. This will be the continuation of unipolarity and US-American global liberalism. This would be a very important moment because until yet the USA wasn´t able to make its dominance stable, but in the moment they win that war, they will. But if the West loses the third battle (the first one was the Chechen war, the second was the Georgian war), this would be the end of the USA and its dominance. So we see: neither USA nor Russia can resign from that situation. It is simply not possible for both not to react.

    Why does US-president Barrack Obama hesitate with his aggression against Syria? He did he appeal the decision to the US-Congress? Why does he ask for permission he doesn´t need for his attack?

    Dugin: We shouldn´t make the mistake and start doing psychological analyses about Obama. The main war takes place right now behind the scenes. And this war is raging around Vladimir Putin. He is under great pressure from pro-American, pro-Israeli, liberal functionaries around the Russian president. They try to convince him to step aside. The situation in Russia is completely different to the situation in USA. One individual, Vladimir Putin, and the large majority of the Russian population which supports him are on one side, and the people around Putin are the Fifth column of the West. This means that Putin is alone. He has the population with him, but not the political elite. So we have to see in the step of Obama administration asking the Congress a kind of waiting. They try to force the pressure on Putin. They use all their networks in the Russian political elite to influence Putin´s decision. This is the invisible war which is going on right now.

    Is this a new phenomenon?

    Dugin: (laughs) Not at all! It is the modern form of the archaic tribes trying to influence the chieftain of the enemy by loud noise, cries and war drums. They beat themselves on the chest to impose fear on the enemy. I think the attempts of the US to influence Putin are a modern form of this psychological warfare before the real battle starts. The US-Administration will try to win this war without the Russian opponent on the field. For this they have to convince Putin to stay out. They have many instruments to do so.

    But again: What about the position of Barrack Obama?

    Dugin: I think all those personal aspects on the American side are less important than on the Russian side. In Russia one person decides now about war and peace. In USA Obama is more a type of bureaucratic administrator. Obama is much more predictable. He is not acting on his behalf; he simply follows the middle line of US-American foreign politics. We have to realize that Obama doesn´t decide anything at all. He is the figure of a political system that makes the real important decisions. The political elite makes the decisions, Obama follows the scenario written for him. To say it clearly, Obama is nothing, Putin is everything.

    You said Vladimir Putin has the majority of the Russian population on his side. But now it is the peace time. Would they also support him in a war in Syria?

    Prof. Alexandr Dugin and Manuel Ochsenreiter 

    Prof. Alexandr Dugin and Manuel Ochsenreiter 

    Dugin: This is a very good question. First of all, Putin would lose much of his support if he does not react on a Western intervention in Syria. His position would be weakened by stepping aside. The people who support Putin do this because they want to support a strong leader. If he doesn´t react and steps aside because of the US pressure, it will be considered by the majority of the population as a personal defeat for Putin. So you see it is much more Putin´s war than Obama´s war. But if he intervenes in Syria he will face two problems: The Russian society wants to be a strong world power, but it is not ready to pay the expenses. When the volume of these costs becomes clear, this could cause a kind of shock to the population. The second problem is what I mentioned already, that the majority of the political elite are pro-Western. They would immediately oppose the war and start their propaganda by criticizing the decisions of Putin. This could provoke an inner crisis. I think Putin is aware of these two problems.

    When you say the Russians might be shocked by the costs of such a war, isn´t there a danger that they might not support Putin because of that?

    Dugin: I don´t think so. Our people are very heroic. Let us look back in history. Our people were never ready to enter a war, but if they did, they won that war despite the costs and sacrifices. Look at the Napoleonic wars or World War II. We Russians lost many battles, but eventually won those wars. So we are never prepared, but we always win.

    The Downfall of Maalula

    On 16 July 2012, I went to the old Christian village of Maalula, around an hour’s drive from Damascus. The inhabitants of Maalula are descended from the Semitic tribes which populated the Syrian desert and part of Mesopotamia fourteen centuries ago. The monastery of Mar Sarkis was built in the fourth century on the ruins of a pagan temple. Its Byzantine architecture contains one of the earliest surviving Christian altars. The monastery also possesses a unique collection of sixteenth to eighteenth century religious icons. Maalula is one of the very last places where one can encounter people speaking Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus.

    Once again, the route was safe. There were many cars on the streets, destined for the cities of Hama, Homs and Aleppo. I interviewed inhabitants of the Greek Orthodox monastery of Mar Tekla and Arabic Christian pilgrims and visitors. They all expressed the belief that President Bashar would lead the country out of the crisis, and that in Syria Muslims and Christians live peacefully together. A nun told me: “This city and its church are founded on the rocks of Syria. They symbolize the stability and power of Syria. We will manage this crisis.”

     

    This happened to Maalula yesterday:

    An assault on Maalula was carried out by terrorists from the al-Qaida-linked Jabhat al-Nusra group, according to several media reports. At the beginning of the attack, an al-Nusra fighter blew himself up at an army checkpoint at the entrance to the village. The suicide attack was followed by heavy fighting between terrorists and army units. Eventually, the terrorists seized the army checkpoint, disabled two tanks and an armored personnel carrier and killed eight soldiers, claim sources of the so called "armed opposition". A nun said the terrorists took over the Safir hotel atop a mountain overlooking the village and fired shells at it from there. Some 80 people from the village took refuge in the convent, which houses 13 nuns and 27 orphans, the nun said.

     

    Translation:

    "Allahu akbar, from center of Maalula, it has been purified completely from the dogs and shabihas of Bachar al-Assad. Here is the town behind" (he shows with his hand).

    Another person says: "We are coming for you, with God’s help we are coming to get everyone."

     

    Davutoglu & Fabius: The Chemical Brothers

    While the Western governments give hectic statements, and while especially Paris and London push the international community to “react quickly”, the majority of Western mainstream media fails again completely.

    As videos of an alleged chemical attack in Syria are shown to the world, experts cast doubt on their authenticity. But those doubts don´t play a big role in the Western media coverage.

    We should listen very well to the warmongers especially from Turkey and France. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu says: “All red lines have been crossed but still the U.N. Security Council has not even been able to take a decision. This is a responsibility for the sides who still set these red lines and for all of us”. Davutoglu's French counterpart, Laurent Fabius, called for “a reaction of force” from the international community.

    By the way, Davutoglu and Fabius seem to be pretty relaxed when:

    • the civilians in Aleppo suffer under a hunger blockade by the so called “rebels”.
    • so called “rebels” kill hundreds of Kurds in Raqqa province.
    • Syrian civilians around Latakia are killed and “executed” by so called “rebels”.
    • bombs explode in front of schools and universities in Syria.
    • “moderate” rebels practice some cannibalism. 
    • so called “rebels” perform mass executions.

     

    My interview with Russia Today about the reports of massive chemical attack near Damascus:

    Death road to Aleppo

    Dr. Amine Antaki

    Dr. Amine Antaki

    The roads to the northern Syrian city of Aleppo are still under attack by terrorist groups. On Saturday, August 10, a bus carrying civilians coming from Lebanon to Aleppo was attacked by a terrorist group of the so called "armed opposition" in Syria. Dr. Amine Antaki, one of the bus passengers, was killed during that attack as per the witnesses. 

    The terrorists shot at the bus on Khanaser road to Aleppo to stop it. Dr. Antaki who sat behind the driver, was killed by a head shot during the attack. The terrorists responsible for the attack are members of an jihadi extremist group. His wife survived the attack. Dr. Amine Antaki, born in 1944 in Syria, was a very well known gynecologist in Aleppo. He was considered as one of the best physicians in Syria. He was also involved in many social activities.

    Dr. Antaki holds both Syrian and Canadian citizenship. Canada like other Western nations supports the so called "armed opposition" in Syria. In September 2012, the Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Vic Toews, Minister of Public Safety, announced that Canada had listed Syria as a state "that supports terrorism".