U.S. could be directly involved in crisis in Syria - Pushkov

MOSCOW,(ST)-Providing military assistance to Syria's "opposition" is a path toward Washington's direct involvement in the crisis in  Syria, Russian State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Alexei Pushkov said, according to Voice of Russia.

"I will not be surprised if a certain period of time after the arms embargo is lifted, we will see steps that will mean U.S. direct involvement in this conflict," Pushkov said.

U.S. weapons supplies to "insurgents" in Syria are unlikely to cause any drastic changes in the balance of power in the Syrian conflict, especially as this balance has recently turned in favor of the Syrian government, he said.

"If the "insurgents" in Syria prove unable to resolutely defeat the Syrian government, the U.S. administration will embark on a path of escalating military involvement in the conflict," he said.

This information alleging the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government cannot be treated as reliable, he said.

"There is no evidence that the government of Syria used them. I believe that the most probable scenario is the following: these weapons were used by the "insurgents "in Syria in order to provoke an international investigation and accuse the Syrian  government of it," the Russian parliamentarian said.

Claims that the Syrian government used chemical weapons cannot be trusted after what happened in 2003, when "a whole war was based on the monumental lies about the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq," Pushkov said.

"I have a feeling that it is a planned action as certain circles in the U.S. want Obama to boost U.S. involvement in the crisis in Syria," he said. Pushkov said he would not be surprised if the U.S. president eventually bowed to this pressure. The Iraqi scenario is being repeated in Syria, he added.

Sending US arms to Syrian opposition may result in direct military intervention - MP

US arms deliveries to the Syrian "opposition" will hardly result in an overthrow of the Bashar al-Assad regime, says the Chairman of the Russian Duma International Affairs Committee, Alexei Pushkov, in an interview with the ITAR-TASS news agency.

 “the Syrian government  relies on the support of a large, if not the larger part of the population, and this is his important reserve. The Syrian  Army has displayed on numerous occasions that it is quite resistive. The US will hardly manage to drastically change the correlation of forces just by boosting its arms shipments for the "opposition” Pushkov says. 

Hence the question, he says, just what will the US do next? “I believe”, Pushkov says, the US will follow the path of escalation in hostilities. Now it is arming the "rebels", then it will decide on some form of direct internal invasion. Nor can we rule out airstrikes with the use of cruise missiles, coupled with a direct military invasion, provided the previous measures prove fruitless”, the Chairman of the Duma International Affairs Committee said.


Supreme Leader Casts Vote

TEHRAN - Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei cast his ballots in the 11th Presidential and 4th City and Village Councils elections minutes ago.

Polling started across the country at 08:00 hours Tehran's time (0330 GMT) Friday for both the Presidential and the City & Village Councils elections concurrently.

Voting will last 10 hours and ends at 6 pm, but it could be extended if necessary. Ballot counting will start at 24:00 Friday and final results will be announced in the following 24 hours.

Presidential campaign kicked off on May 22 after the Guardian Council released the list of 8 qualified candidates - although 6 have remained now - and ended at 8:00 on Thursday.

The qualified candidates represent a wide range of political streams from Principlists to reformers.

There are now 6 candidates left in the race after two of them quitted. They include Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, former Iranian Foreign Minister and Supreme Leader's top advisor for international affairs Ali Akbar Velayati, Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Secretary and chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, former SNSC Secretary and chief nuclear negotiator Hassan Rouhani, former Oil and Telecommunication Minister Seyed Mohammad Qarazi, and former Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) and Secretary of the Expediency Council Mohsen Rezayee.

According to presidential election laws, all Iranian nationals above 18 years of age are eligible to vote.


Miqdad: Russia Stances Prevented the Passage Western Colonialist Policy

DAMASCUS,(ST)_ Marking the national day of federal Russia,  the Russian Ambassador in Damascus Azmatullah Komahmedov on Thursday held a reception in Dama Rose hotel in Damascus.

In a statement to SANA Deputy minister for foreign affairs and expatriates Dr. Faisal Miqdad stressed Syrian-Russian  deep relations and continued efforts to develop them especially in light of the situation experienced by Syria, noting the Russian position which is  based on UN Charter and principles , respect for international law and UN  resolutions and  real and  sincere  commitment in the fight against terrorism , while others lie especially  in France, Britain and the US  because they do not believe in the UN and people 's  independence and sovereignty , justice and equality , nor in the  sovereignty of States, democracy and human rights. 

 Miqdad indicated that one that kills the Syrians forgets all the noble values of Europe, it  tried to disseminate , but  they are now supporting terrorists , terrorism and bloodshed in Syria, stressing that Russia stances  concerning world just issues prevented the passage of such policies, which, if successful in Syria, Western colonialist  countries will  dominate all the world. 

 He pointed out that the National Day of the Russia is  a great occasion celebrated by the Syrians, the same  as the Russians and congratulated  the Russian leadership, led by President Vladimir Putin and the Russian people on this precious occasion.

He expressed Syria 's gratitude for Russia 's principled stances  towards Syria in peace and in crisis time, alike.

The  Russian ambassador  stressed that one of the priorities of Russian foreign policy in the Middle East is to develop and consolidate ties of friendship and cooperation between Russia and Syria  existed over many years, pointing out that relations between the two countries are  based on identical  positions of their leaderships represented by  Presidents Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad.

 He noted the two countries identical stances on the  need to establish a multi-polar world order , consolidation of the foundations of international law, including strict adherence to honoring  sovereignty and independence of States and the inadmissibility of interference in the internal affairs of  states whatever pretexts, especially the so-called responsibility for protecting and a comprehensive and just settlement for the Arab-Israeli conflict on the ground of international legitimacy including the liberation of the occupied Golan heights.

The ceremony was attended by Vice President Dr. Najah al-Attar , parliament speaker Mohammad Jihad  Laham, Defense Minister Fahd Jassem Fareej,   several ministers, heads of Arab and foreign diplomatic missions accredited in Damascus  and economic, religious, cultural, social and media activists. 

T. Fateh 


Syria appeals to UNSC to condemn Hatla massacre

DAMASCUS,(ST)_ Foreign and Expatriates Ministry has reiterated that  the UN Security Council's inaction towards the terrorist crimes which took place in Syria encourages the terrorist groups to go ahead in targeting innocent citizens nationwide.

The most recent massacre was perpetrated yesterday ( June, 12, 2013-06-13) when al-Nusra Front-affiliated terrorist group killed dozens of innocent locals including women and children in Hatla village, just to the east of the city of Der Ezzour, because they had rejected to support terrorists in their criminal acts against the locals.     

According to the ministry's letter sent to the UNSC today, the terrorists looted and ransacked private and public properties , set fire to the locals' homes, and desecrated the Holy Shrines.

 A video posted on line, shows the graphic details of the massacre.

Salafi Sheikh instigated the massacre 

The ministry made it clear that a Takfiri Salafi Sheik in Kuwait called' Shafi al-Ajami', who is involved in funding and sending thousands of  terrorist 'Jihadies' in support for al-Nusra Front had instigated the massacre.

once again,it warned against the dangers of turning a blind eye or involvement in supporting Takfiri terrorism linked to al-Qaeda which is being practiced by al-Nusra Front and its allies and the so called 'free Syrian army'.

Such acts help the spreading of terrorism and extremism, according to the letter.  

'Military balance'

"continuing to  arm the  opposition by some states or announcing readiness to arm it under the pretext of changing military balance on the ground unmasked these states' intentions of hampering efforts being exerted to bring about political solution to the crisis in Syria between the Syrians and under the" Syrian leadership," the ministry said in the letter.

It noted that Qatar, Turkey and Saudi Arabia directly support terrorism by all means, adding that the decisions recently issued by the EU as regards lifting the embargo on arming the opposition and allowing the European importers to buy the Syrian oil from the opposition violate the EU' adherence to combat funding terrorism and all relevant UN resolutions.

The ministry appealed to the UNSC to fulfill its role in combating terrorism and condemning the Hatla massacre.

Basma Qaddour   

Protests Continue at Taksim Square

After a night spent under clouds of police tear gas, protesters in Istanbul’s Gezi Park on Wednesday cleaned up the debris, fortified their encampment, dressed their wounds and said they would stay on. Though Turkey’s government has vowed to end protests, the park is home to a colorful group of hundreds of young people at the heart of a bid to save the site from a controversial redevelopment scheme that has led to antigovernment demonstrations nationwide, according to Time World.

Riot police moved into Taksim on Tuesday wielding tear gas and water cannons but did not enter the crowded park. Taksim Solidarity, a loose coalition of groups represented in the park, said overnight teargasing had ended any possible dialogue with the government.

Gezi is the epicenter of protests that have rocked Turkey over the past two weeks. They began over government plans to raze the park and build an Ottoman barracks cum commercial development in its place. After footage showing trees being uprooted and police violently attacking a peaceful sit-in went viral, tens of thousands of people took to the streets. The sit-in in the park grew into an occupation uniting dissidents of all stripes protesting Erdogan’s increasingly heavy-handed rule. Protests spread to other cities and met with police intervention. Clashes continued in the capital Ankara on Tuesday night.

The upheaval in Istanbul’s city center has put the government in a tight spot. Tourism is suffering and the economy is under pressure. Hundreds of lawyers packed the entrance hall of Istanbul’s main Palace of Justice on Wednesday, chanting slogans to protest the detention of 47 colleagues a day earlier in a demonstration supporting the Gezi Park protests.

An unprecedented spirit of volunteerism has kept the protest going. Young students in jeans and white jackets, gas masks and goggles at the ready, busily compile an inventory of supplies. Downstairs in the hotel car park, streams of people from across the city arrive to drop off supplies. At noon, office workers from nearby businesses made their way there at lunchtime laden with bags of toilet paper, bread, cleaning supplies and more.

The protests have had a seismic impact across Turkey; in Gezi, a new generation of Turkish dissent has come of age. A study by Istanbul’s Bilgi University of people camped out in the park found that some 60% have no prior political affiliation.

“There is a new political dynamic that has emerged,” says Sezgin Tanrikulu, deputy head of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP). He was part of a group of CHP deputies who spent Tuesday night under tear gas in Gezi Park. We need to develop a political language based not on old political fault lines but new issues like environmentalism, pluralism and respect of everyone’s way of life.”