The truth about Syria
Posted 16 December 2016 - 09:47 AM
About twitter "girl" Bana Al Abed
Posted 16 December 2016 - 12:03 PM
Armenian soldiers in Havresc
NEW YORK — It’s a remarkable Armenian village somewhere in Iraq with about 200 to 500 people. And it is surviving through courage, faith, fortitude and about 22 dedicated men against the massive force of the Islamic State. Its name, Havresc, translates to big revenge, and its history dates back to 1915, when survivors of the Genocide constructed it.
On Thursday, December 8, the Zohrab Information Center hosted David Ritter, who has spent months in the village, who presented his documentary titled, “Havresc, Stand on Courage,” to a large audience, detailing the daily struggles of Armenian and Assyrian Christian Iraqis and the village they have built on the edge of ISIS-controlled territory.
Ritter was introduced by the Zohrab Center’s executive director, the Very Rev. Daniel Findikyan, who related that this issue “transcends ethnic interests. One doesn’t have to be Armenian to care about others.”
Before showing the film, Ritter who is not Armenian, commented that he was “filled with rage at the plight of the Christians, not about ethnicity,” he said, and praised the leader of the 22 soldiers, Murad Vartanian, whom he called “one of the most amazing men I have ever met, a man of conviction, courage, tenacity, and also a poet and an artist, a natural born leader.”
The documentary detailed the history of the Genocide with disturbing graphic images of death and destruction. It was a group of survivors from that tragedy that went to Iraq and built villages, including the mostly agricultural village of Havresc. In time, other persecuted Christians — Assyrians and Yezidis — also settled there. In 1975, many Christian villages were destroyed, including Havresc, with the villagers fleeing. One of the only buildings that remained were the ruins of the original school.
In 2006, many of the people of Havresc returned, and decided to rebuild their homes, churches and schools. Armenians also came from abroad and helped in the construction. Vartanian, who was originally born in the village, led the effort, and with other villagers created a communal system where goods are shared. They also erected a monument to the victims of the Genocide.
Today, it is 22 young and old men led by Vartanian, who protect the village 24 hours a day against ISIS. Kurdish militias are also helping these 22 soldiers. The film showed Murad’s home which is the headquarters of the militia, and houses an armory of weapons. Also seen are the villagers tending to their flocks of sheep and peacefully farming the land. In the future, a small airport will be built.
Shortly after the film was completed, Vartanian was shot by ISIS. He is now recovering, and has said, “Even trees need water to live. We are like these old trees. We never give up. Let us live like lions, and if need be, die like lions.”
Ritter was born to a Roman Catholic family in Haiti. He is a documentarian who has gone to areas of the world where Christian communities are in danger, and filmed their struggles. He is currently traveling to Armenian communities and showing this documentary of Havresc . He announced that 30 percent of the proceeds of this DVD will go back to Havresc. Already, he said, $2,000 has been raised.
For more information, to purchase a DVD, or to help Havresc, visit www.echo612.org
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Posted 21 December 2016 - 09:22 AM
by Orthodoxy Cognate PAGE on December 21, 2016
Lucine Kasbarian – OCP News Service – 20/12/16
The Iraqi village of Havresc (originally called “Hay Vrej,” the Armenian words for “revenge through survival”) was once populated with Armenian Genocide survivors and their descendants.
Circa 1970, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s military destroyed villages, such as Havresc, that were minority strongholds, and pushed their inhabitants into cities in order to assimilate them.
Following Saddam’s death in 2006, persecuted Iraqi Armenians with family roots in Havresc decided to return to the village. With the rise of nearby ISIS forces several years later, Havresc became a safe haven. The Armenians were later joined by Assyrians and Yezidis.
Against all odds, this village of 150 families blossomed thanks to the leadership of Mayor Aslan Murad Vartanian, a Havresc native. He and Armenian elders persuaded compatriots to come back and rebuild the village. Sporting a handlebar moustache reminiscent of fedayee predecessors, Murad is now father and protector to all in Havresc. Once a career special unit sniper in the Iraqi army, he today heads a citizen militia with support from neighboring Kurdish groups. Murad’s home functions as an arsenal where, astonishingly, he and others restore and convert guns from WWI and WWII – some purchased, some found while farming – into modern weapons.
Heavily outnumbered, the Havresc militia has nevertheless beaten back ISIS on many occasions. We know of their acts of bravery thanks to independent filmmaker David Ritter’s documentary, HAVRESC: Stand on Courage.
Following is an interview with Ritter conducted by Lucine Kasbarian.
Lucine Kasbarian: Tell us about your professional and religious background.
David Ritter: I’m a filmmaker/documentarian who studied photography and video production. I come from a Roman Catholic background and eventually found myself as a “Roaming Catholic,” which means I visit and respect various Christian denominations and communities. Throughout my experiences and while befriending Middle Eastern Christians, the Orthodox sects became a fascination for me. Little of Christian Orthodox history and culture is known to the greater Christian community. I gravitate towards the Orthodox and see value in their rich history throughout the world.
Kasbarian: How did you find and come to be interested in the people of Havresc?
Ritter: My time in Havresc was a result of my anger and frustration at what was happening to many religious and ethnic minorities over the past five years in Syria and Iraq. I resented that the “social justice crowd,” whose doctrines dominate our schools and media, had little to say about the horrors so many people there were and are facing. I was disgusted that world leaders and governments initially dismissed the attacks by ISIS and acted as if there was no threat from such groups. I wanted to support the Christian militias of Iraq and volunteer my services to them and their communities.
Through my channels, I was introduced to Jeff Gardner, a photojournalist who has spent much time in the Middle East.
Jeff knew about my background as a filmmaker documenting the demographics of racial and ethnic minorities. My last feature-length film, was entitled German Town: The Lost Story of Seaford Town, Jamaica.
So Jeff felt that I should visit Havresc. He had visited Havresc in 2013 and was gob-smacked by how amazing these people were, especially their leader, Aslan Murad. We agreed that this village and its story deserved documentation.
Kasbarian: Though the U.S. Congress unanimously approved and, as a result, the Obama Administration adopted in 2016 the term “genocide” to describe the horrors suffered by Christians and Yazidis at the hands of ISIS, would you speculate why mainstream media has made so little of the modern-day genocide of Christians in the Middle East?
Ritter: To be fair, the Obama administration has spent the majority of its time stating that ISIS was not a threat, and the U.S. mainstream media followed its lead.
Most mainstream media have an agenda. If I had to speculate, it is because they usually care about an issue only when the governments, corporations and special interests they cater to can benefit.
I think the obsession with political correctness is also part of this conversation. For instance, much of the media on the Progressive Left want people to think that owning a gun or arming yourself is intrinsically wrong. But guns are a safeguard in situations such as Havresc’s. Armenians – as victims of state-sponsored genocide on their native lands – know very well how dangerous it can be for a civilian population to be prohibited from possessing arms.
My documentary spotlights Havresc men explaining that guns saved their families and community.
Obviously, the concept of gun control is highly problematic in such situations.
Indeed, most mainstream media want people to see militiamen as dangerous to society. True, some militia members are threats, but others are not. It depends on the circumstances and the militia’s purpose. A gun in the hand of a responsible person can be used to defend and save endangered lives rather than harm innocent people.
Kasbarian: Why do you think Middle Eastern Christians – the oldest Christians on record – have been largely abandoned by their Christian brethren around the world?
Ritter: There are a few reasons. One is “political correctness” – that is, Westerners defending co-religionists elsewhere is viewed as a bit chauvinist.
Many Western churches function like businesses. Defending Christians overseas does not increase their bottom line.
And some of these churches and their leaders are afraid. They have seen what happens when people confront Islamic extremists: media outlets are bombed and journalists killed. Fear holds people back.
But there are clergy, churches and Christians who are doing all they can to aid the Christian communities of Iraq. I met them while I was there, few as they are. In my travels, Christians have stepped forward to help the Syrian and Iraqi people. More would follow suit if they had the leadership and information to do so.
Kasbarian: We hear about Middle Eastern Christians avoiding refugee camps for fear of abduction and abuse and, moreover, not approaching the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) nor applying for immigration status because they feel they will largely be passed over. In this context, one can better understand why some Christians would prefer to endure or resist in endangered zones. Please speak about this phenomenon.
Ritter: The truth is these Christians would, indeed, most likely be passed over. It took nearly five years for anyone to acknowledge that Christians and Yazidis were even an endangered people in the Middle East. They were – and still are – the primary targets for ISIS and Jihadist violence.
For me to explain the attitudes of Western leaders who create policies that are unmindful of Christians, I would have to adopt the mindset of a globalist. I refuse to do that.
These policies may also have some basis in simple ignorance. I have met many non-governmental organization (NGO) workers and United Nations members over the years, most of whom meant well. But the isolation within which many of them exist on the ground, and their lack of understanding of the inner politics and cultures of the countries in which they work, is stunning. Poor management may also play a role.
There could also be more pernicious reasons. For example, many EU leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, as well as the Obama administration, seem fixated on supporting more Islamic migration into Europe and the U.S. – but not Christian or Yazidi refugees.
Kasbarian: An aid worker predicts that Havresc will grow. Do you agree? Could publicizing Havresc attract greater threats? One viewer at a screening said that beating back ISIS is a short-term solution and that in the long run, the villagers should move to Armenia. Expediency may encourage one to flee. But attachments may dictate otherwise. Is it crucial to relocate to foreign lands – or to Armenia, for that matter – when the people already there are unemployed and conditions are uncertain?
Ritter: I’m not certain about Havresc’s future, but so far much has been done in a short period of time. Havresc actually faced more attacks when the village was getting no media coverage at all, so neither Murad nor I think media exposure will hurt. Being in the open can be a better tactic than having nobody know about you.
ISIS is just one of many threats and risks to villages such as Havresc. But even running away may not work. Would you necessarily be safer in North America? Germany? France? England? Have we not seen massive attacks in those places on an almost weekly basis?
During the San Bernardino, California shootings in 2015 where Pakistani-American extremists killed 14 people and injured 22 at a county employee event in what the FBI called an act “inspired by foreign terrorist groups,” I was in Havresc with Murad in his living room watching the news. Murad pointed to the TV, looked at Jeff and me, and said, “You see? Now it’s coming to you in America. It won’t stop. This is their plan.”
Kasbarian: You have been present at your U.S. film screenings from coast to coast. What’s next? And why do you think the general topic of your film is of interest primarily to Assyrian and Armenian circles but ignored by the mainstream media?
Ritter: I’m hoping for many more screenings in the U.S., Canada and Europe. But in the end, my goal is to go back to Iraq and/or Syria to help while there’s still a need. When I address the issues of radical groups like ISIS, too many people I know who follow mainstream media will express apathy, become defensive or change the subject. Sometimes they claim that “Christians are just as violent as ISIS.”
This is what their media has led them to believe, I suppose. Then again, I have met people across the political spectrum – from the Left to the Right – who agree that ISIS and Islamic extremism is a serious threat to the world. I also think most Americans agree that radical Islamic Jihadists are a real danger.
However, American and European mass media is more interested in demonizing Syrian President Assad than ISIS. Mainstream media function as gatekeepers of information. If they cannot control the narrative and the people relaying the information, then they ignore or discredit the people relaying the information.
There is a trend in globalist mass media to diminish the relevance of racial, ethnic, cultural and religious differences among peoples. On the other hand, other media and some progressives call Western people racist or xenophobic when they show a love for their heritage or religion.
Could there be people in high places who enjoy seeing certain cultures and religions wiped out? I have met such people.
The Havresc documentary, however, shows men and women holding strong to their Christian faith and ethnic identities. They are proud of their Armenian and Assyrian ancestries and all that comes with it.
Kasbarian: Speaking of mainstream media in the U.S. and Europe depicting national or ethnic pride as xenophobia, how can Westerners deal with this?
Ritter: It is important not to conflate patriotic ideals and non-extremist forms of nationalism with supremacist ideas. You can love Armenian, Greek or German culture and desire to protect your culture and nation without possessing a desire to harm others. Our media and educational institutions throw around words such as “racist” and “xenophobic” too loosely.
People must ask themselves whether such strong terms are always appropriate, or whether they instead induce a Pavlovian response that stigmatizes the targets of these terms.
Words are being used as if they are “Newspeak” – the controlled language created by the totalitarian state in George Orwell’s dystopian novel, 1984. Governments, advocacy groups, media and people alike should define their grievances and positions rather than stigmatize the views of others with loaded terms.
Kasbarian: As an independent filmmaker, what’s your take on mainstream media attempting to silence truth tellers and freedom of _expression_ by disparaging independent and alternative news media by calling their reportage fake?
Ritter: The term “fake news” is being used by many to attack independent reporting whose facts and opinions conflict with mainstream narratives and with people and institutions in high political positions.
Note that politicians who voted for wars and conflicts like the invasion of Iraq – and used false information to sway the public into agreement – peddled fake news. For example, the public was told about Iraqi “weapons of mass destruction.” These weapons were never found. The public was told ISIS was not a threat by these same politicians and their media outlets. That itself was fake news.
There is such a thing as fake news. It circulates throughout the Internet, sometimes created by paranoid people on grass roots levels. But far more fake news comes from mainstream media outlets that are government and corporate-sponsored.
Let us not conflate fake news with dissent and genuine questioning. Hillary Clinton claimed she was once under “sniper fire” in Bosnia. That turned out to be fake news.
Why are citizen journalists the ones being attacked for fake news when politicians, government outlets and mass media have been caught throughout the years fabricating news or simply not reporting the facts?
Kasbarian: Aslan Mourad says, “We Armenians live like the lion and if necessary, we will die like the lion.” His words speak to the moral courage and dignity of the Armenians. Can the story of Havresc empower others?
Ritter: I hope this documentary inspires all minorities and majority nations and groups to take a stance to protect themselves, their culture and religion from people who wish to harm them and destroy the things they love. I think people should have militias and guns even if they are not endangered – just as we have fire extinguishers in our homes. We do not buy a fire extinguisher after our home has turned to ash. We buy it before that happens so we can stop a fire before it destroys everything.
Kasbarian: Imagery of Kurdish leader, Massoud Barzani, is prevalent in Aslan Murad’s home in northern Iraq, which is in the Kurdish region. Is having such imagery a matter of basic survival for Murad and Havresc?
Ritter: I cannot comment on Murad’s political connections, but he is working with many Kurdish people – a reality of living and working in Iraqi Kurdistan – where all operate under Kurdish authority and work together for a bright future. In order to have a functioning security force, Havresc has to go through proper political channels. That’s the law and reality now. No Christian community in Kurdistan can operate as an island unto itself.
Kasbarian: How can we support Havresc?
Ritter: Anything sent to www.Echo612.org goes straight to Havresc. I am funding this film screening tour from my own pocket and from the money we collect at events from DVD and admission sales and the donations from institutions that host the events. I give 30 percent of what we make at each event to Echo612 to help Havresc. The donations will purchase food, medicine and basic aid for residents until things are secure and stable. It is not a long-term program. The people of Havresc do not want to be on a welfare system. They want to be independent and self-sustaining.
The next screening of Havresc: Stand on Courage will be in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada on January 19, 2017:
To invite the filmmaker to screen this documentary in your area, contact David Ritter at: firstname.lastname@example.org
For details, visit: http://havresc.com/
To donate to the village of Havresc, visit: http://www.echo612.org/
About the interviewer:
Lucine Kasbarian is a syndicated journalist and political cartoonist. Visit: http://www.armeniape...ucine_Kasbarian
Posted 21 December 2016 - 09:23 AM
ALEPPO, Syria (A.W.)—The situation in the Armenian neighborhoods of Aleppo has remained relatively calm, according to the Consul General of Armenia in Aleppo, Tigran Gevorgyan.
Consul General Tigran Gevorgyan visits an Aleppo-Armenian elderly home in 2015 (Photo: Public Radio of Armenia)
“The recent events have provided hope for the Armenian community of Aleppo, that the end of the war has arrived. This marks the beginning of the reconstruction process of [the Armenian] neighborhoods,” Gevorgyan told the Armenian Weekly’s Ani Avetyan.
According Gevorgyan, Armenian schools and community organizations have continued to operate normally despite ongoing violence.
While Gevorgyan noted that it is still too early to discuss the return of Aleppo-Armenians, he said that many will want to return once peace and stability are established.
“I believe that once there is stability and peace in the region, many will want to return,” Gevorgyan said.
The Armenian Consul in Aleppo is one of the only foreign representatives that remain in the war-torn city. Consul General Gevorgyan has been in Syria since the start of the Syrian Civil War—initially he was stationed in Damascus and later in Aleppo, where he has been for the last three years.
Posted 25 December 2016 - 10:38 AM
Turkey Entangled in Euphrates Shield Operation in Northern Syria
Sat Dec 24, 2016 7:58
TEHRAN (FNA)- Media sources revealed on Saturday that the Turkish Army has suffered heavy death toll in its so-called anti-ISIL operation in Northern Syria and is growingly entangled in waves of problems with no way out.
The Russian language Kommersant daily reported that based on recent information, the Turkish forces have suffered heavy casualties in their operation in Northern Syria codenamed the Euphrates Shield that they started over four months ago.
The paper added that 16 Turkish soldiers have been killed and 33 more have been wounded in only one day, proving that the Turkish operation that once seemed to be successful is now no more than a big problem for the Turkish Command.
The Turkish soldiers and Ankara-backed militant groups face firm resistance of ISIL in the town of al-Bab in Northern Aleppo. ISIL used it suicide combatants, which surprised the Turkish army and its militant allies and inflicted major losses on them. The Turkish army's casualties have been unprecedentedly high since the start of Euphrates Shield Operation in August 24.
The Turkey-backed militants also suffered major losses on the same day.
Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik announced in country's parliament on Thursday that 2,000 sq-km of land have been cleansed of ISIL in the Euphrates Shield Operation and over 1,000 militants of ISIL have been killed, adding the army was engaged in cleansing operation in the town of al-Bab.
Also, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced in a news conference in Ankara that "ISIL is spending its last days in al-Bab".
But, news received from the battlefield is something else. ISIL managed to carry out a diverse attack on Turkish forces. They seized two German mad-Leopard tanks of the Turkish army and an armored vehicle. The Turkish army's offensive and advance have been stopped on al-Bab's gates. Current situation has nothing to say about a crucial victory of the Turkish army and its militant allies in al-Bab.
Turkey's military said on Wednesday that four Turkish soldiers were killed in clashes near the ISIL-controlled town of al-Bab in Northern Syria.
Around 20 Turkish soldiers were killed in the course of the "Euphrates Shield" operation, launched nearly four months ago, to push ISIL militants as well as Kurdish militants away from the border, the Daily Star reported.
Eleven soldiers were wounded, one of them critically, and were transported to hospital for treatment, the military said.
"Clashes are continuing in the area of al-Bab town hospital, which has for a long time been a weapons and ammunition store for the terrorists," the army said.
It said the area was closely protected by ISIL and was on the slope of a hill overlooking al-Bab.
Earlier, the army said the Turkish-backed militants had gained full control of the highway from al-Bab to Aleppo and that Turkish warplanes had destroyed 48 ISIL targets and killed 15 militants.
Four Turkish soldiers were slightly wounded when the vehicle they were travelling in was damaged by a roadside blast, it added.
- MosJan likes this
Posted 28 December 2016 - 10:52 AM
December 26, 2016 at 4:00 am
Charges that Islamic State (IS) engages in organ trading -- taking body parts from their victims in Iraq and Syria and selling them to traffickers in Turkey -- have surfaced again.
The Iranian news network Alalam reported on October 6 that IS has set up a market in Turkey where it sells human organs stolen from innocent people. Alalam also posted a photograph of a person whose organ was taken.
The Iraqi News also reported that IS has kidnapped and sold many children in Syria to Turkish organ traffickers in order to finance its operations.
Turkey's government-funded news service, Anadolu Agency, reported months ago that ISIS opened a "medical school" in Northern Syria.
Wayne Madsen, an American investigative reporter and a former intelligence analyst at the US National Security Agency (NSA), told Gatestone that IS has been, and is, involved in organ trading. "The Uyghur battalions of ISIS are heavily engaged in this. They are also known to be involved in organ harvesting in China."
"We have no reason to doubt them given similar atrocities that have been documented and other heinous crimes for which ISIL has taken credit," U.S. State Department said in response to charges of IS's organ harvesting. In December, the U.S. government revealed that it had obtained an ISIS document during a raid by Special Forces in Syria. "The apostate's life and organs do not have to be respected and may be taken with impunity," the document said.
Anne Speckhard wrote that ISIS is involved in organ smuggling and earns profits from it. "Former prisoner Abo Rida stated that surgeons for IS terror group removed kidneys and corneas from prisoners. He said that they were told that jihadists were more deserving of organs," she added.
Speckhard told Gatestone that given their mentality – that anyone who does not believe as they do can be killed - it is believable that IS is involved in organ trading: "Defectors we talked to said it is happening."
According to press reports, there is high demand for organs such as kidneys and hearts. Based on the same reports, a kidney is sold in the Turkish market for $4,000 and a heart for $6,000.
The Spanish newspaper, El Mundo, reported that the IS does not merely use the organs of its captives' bodies for transplants to its members; it also sells them to other countries as a lucrative business. Iraq's Ambassador to the UN, Mohammed Alhakim, asked the world body last year to investigate the killing of a dozen Iraqi doctors who rejected IS demands to cut out people's organs.
Speckhard told Gatestone the UN's investigation of Ambassador Alhakim's charges was inconclusive. She also underlined that they know some Turkish businessmen were involved in the slave trade with IS.
A report by Iraqi News said that IS's organ trafficking comes as the terror group is finding it difficult to fund the self-proclaimed caliphate as its revenues from oil fields are plunging.
American analysis firm IHS's expert Ludovico Carlino, was cited by Reuters that as of March 2016, IS's monthly oil revenue has dropped from 80 to 56 million dollars.
IHS senior analyst Columb Strack said, "There are fewer people now to tax; the same applies to properties and land to confiscate." The population of the territory under IS's control has fallen from 9 million to about 6 million.
Nancy Scheper-Hughes, director of Organs Watch, a University of California, Berkeley-based documentation and research project, told CNN that demand for fresh organs during wars and civil wars is insatiable.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), illegal organ trading generates between $600 million and $1.2 billion in profits each year.
Mahmut Togrul, a member of the Turkish National Assembly representing Gaziantep from the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), told Gatestone that, "IS is committing all kinds of atrocities to many innocent people it considers enemies. They have even sold women in Gaziantep. I have no doubt that they would sell human organs."
Togrul also blamed the Turkey's AKP regime and said that the Turkish government has supported IS from the beginning and continues to this day. "So much so that IS members never refrain from citing Gaziantep as the second stronghold after Raqqa," Togrul told to Gatestone.
Fethi Albayram, a doctor in Gaziantep, told Gatestone that many young people who were known to be drug addicts could not be seen on city streets any more. "What I hear from people is that IS has kidnapped them. Maybe for organ harvesting..."
In the last year, IS has killed more than 200 people in Turkey in suicide bombing attacks.
The Turkish government was criticized in the past for looking the other way regarding the IS activities in Turkey. But the Turkish security agencies have intensified their efforts and raids against IS cells and activities in Turkey.
Many reporters, experts, and eyewitnesses have alleged that Turkey has actively helped jihadist terrorists in the region by letting IS members travel through Turkey. It is argued that Turkey has even provided funds, logistics, and arms for IS members.
According to some reports, IS members have been treated at Turkish hospitals. According to a Turkish chief of police, there are IS cell houses in seventy cities across Turkey. According to other reports, IS members have kidnapped Yazidi women and girls in Iraq and sold them in Turkey. The defendants, however, were quickly acquitted of any crime. In December 2015, several German TV channels broadcast footage documenting the slave trade being conducted by the Islamic State through a liaison office in Gaziantep, near the border with Syria.
A news report from German broadcaster ARD shows photos of Yazidi slaves distributed by ISIS (left), as well as undercover footage of ISIS operatives in Turkey taking payment for buying the slaves (right).
On April 17, 2016, the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reported that the Gaziantep police department had raided the office and found $310,000, many foreign (non-Turkish) passports and 1,768 pages of Arabic receipts that showed the transfer of millions of dollars between Turkey and Syria.
Six people were brought to court for their involvement in crimes, which included "being members of an armed terrorist organization." But the complainant, the Gaziantep Bar Association, was not even invited to attend the hearings, which lasted for sixteen days.
"We learnt of the ruling accidentally. The court made the decision of acquittal without looking into the documents found by police," said Bektas Sarkli, the head of the Gaziantep Bar Association. Bektas Sarkli told Gatestone that they will appeal.
The former chief of Turkey's counter-terrorism police, Ahmet Yayla, said during recent testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives that the Turkish Government has provided funds, logistical support, and arms for IS members.
Yayla, who now teaches at George Mason University near Washington, D.C., also told Gatestone that IS's "Turkey Chief" Halis Bayuncuk moves around in the country freely and tweets often with no problems.
Erkan Sahin, who is the Gaziantep Chairman of the opposition Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) told Gatestone that IS uses the city like a base. "We know that," he said.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, on the other hand, said the most effective fight against Daesh (IS) was waged by Turkey contrary to the concerted disinformation campaign.
But evidence indicates that Turkish forces are primarily targeting and attacking Kurds in Syria, who have been the most effective force fighting IS. Years after the emergence of the Islamic State and the destruction it has brought to thousands of innocent people, Turkey's reliability as an ally in the US-led fight against IS has been more than questionable.
The American experts, Steven A. Cook and Michael J. Koplow, wrote: "Rather than overlook Turkish excesses while hoping Mr. Erdogan will come around, it is time to search for more reliable allies."
Opinions may vary on how reliable an ally Turkey has been in the US-led international campaign against the Islamic State. But if IS's organ- and human-trafficking, as well as other criminal activities, within Turkey are allowed to go on, IS will continue to renew its strength for its barbaric fight.
Kasim Cindemir, a leading journalist from Turkey, is currently based in Washington D.C.
Posted 31 December 2016 - 12:07 PM
Posted on December. 29. 2016
BY APPO JABARIAN
& Managing Editor
USA Armenian Life Magazine
During this Christmas season, while Neocon-controlled U.S. media maintained deafening silence on the plight of Christians in Middle East, on Sunday, Syria’s President Bashar Assad visited a Christian orphanage near the capital city of Damascus to mark Christmas.
Photographs on Syrian President’s Facebook page showed Pres. Assad along with his wife, Asma, standing with nuns and orphans in the Saidnaya Christian Monastery near Damascus.
In the northern city of Aleppo, Christians reportedly celebrated Christmas for the first time in four years with the country’s largest city now under full control of government forces.
In another heartwarming early December gesture toward Christians in Middle East, an Iraqi Muslim businessman has erected the tallest Christmas tree in the heart of Iraq’s capital city of Baghdad as a show of solidarity with Christians during the holiday season.
As for Iran, while the Islamic Republic is vilified by Neocons as being a ‘terrorist’ and anti-Christian nation, over the course of several decades, Iran has spent millions of dollars from its state budget to help Armenians and other Christians in Iran repair and maintain their holy places.
While Turkey — the darling of Neocons, illegally continues to confiscate Armenian, Assyrian, Greek and other Christian churches, monasteries and other properties, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq and Jordan take special care to protect and maintain their respective Christian holy places.
One wonders, what does anti-Christian Neocons and their mouthpieces in U.S. media have to say about Pres. Assad’s empathetic gesture toward Syria’s Christians?
American political landscape is inundated by indications Neocons in America continue peddling their own political narrative often at the expense of Americans and America’s prestige on the world stage.
Before going any further, one must underline the fact that while pitting one religious group against another, Neocons care less about any particular religion.
Do they believe in any religion? It seems they don’t! They only seem to believe in ultimate monopoly of United States’ domestic and foreign policy as well as its economy to the detriment of Americans. They have a special air about their own brand of ‘exceptionalism.’
Does it make sense to promote dysfunctional ‘democracy’ in Middle East under the veil of the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ even at the cost of destroying regimes that foster peaceful coexistence among Christians, Jews, Muslims, Kurds and Yezidis?
Does it make sense to sacrifice humongous human and material capital for the sole purpose of bringing down a sovereign multi-ethnic regime in Syria simply because the self-determined Syrian Arab Republic refuses to submit to their austere economic and political conditionality?
How can one fathom the fact that if Neocons had it their way, they would have toppled a tolerant regime – Syria’s Assad administration, even when the alternative under ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) and its main terrorist allies Al-Nusra would have proven to be genocidal for both Christians and Muslims in Syria and Iraq?
By now, who hasn’t heard of the innumerable atrocities and acts of crime against humanity committed by these so-called Syrian ‘rebels’ when in fact they are clearly identified as Takfiri and other foreign extremist mercenaries hired by U.S. Pres. Barak Obama’s administration, Neoconservative and Pseudo-progressive stakeholders in Washington?
In a Dec. 14 article in Accuracy in Media, Cliff Kincaid wrote: “It’s amazing how CNN’s talking heads can devote so much time to the ‘scandal’ of Donald J. Trump’s sons participating in interviews of cabinet picks, but can’t connect the dots between the bloody tragedy in Aleppo and President Barack Obama’s pro-terrorist policy in the Middle East. During the day on Wednesday, we saw CNN repeatedly air gruesome film footage of the massacre of civilians in Aleppo by the Russians and their Iranian and Syrian puppets. Not once did any CNN talking head bother to point out that Obama’s policy of intervention, through support of terrorist groups in Syria who are losing the war, may have had a role in the unfolding massacre.”
In an outright condemnation of Obama administration’s covert policy of aiding the Takfiri terrorist groups — ISIS and al-Qaeda for the purpose of overthrowing the Syrian regime, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) introduced legislation to curb Pres. Obama’s pro-terrorist policy, calling it the Stop Arming Terrorists bill (H.R. 6405).
Congresswoman Gabbard is a member of the House Armed Services Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee. She has served two tours of duty in the Middle East, and continues her service as a major in the Army National Guard.
In a December 8 press release, Gabbard said, “Under U.S. law it is illegal for any American to provide money or assistance to al-Qaeda, ISIS or other terrorist groups. If you or I gave money, weapons or support to al-Qaeda or ISIS, we would be thrown in jail. Yet the U.S. government has been violating this law for years, quietly supporting allies and partners of al-Qaeda, ISIL, Jabhat Fateh al Sham and other terrorist groups with money, weapons, and intelligence support, in their fight to overthrow the Syrian government.”
Specifically, she named the CIA, saying, “The CIA has also been funneling weapons and money through Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and others who provide direct and indirect support to groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda. This support has allowed al-Qaeda and their fellow terrorist organizations to establish strongholds throughout Syria, including in Aleppo.” Later while addressing U.S. Congress, she didn’t mince her words making similar remarks on the House floor.
It is widely expected that President-Elect Trump’s trusted aides continue blocking Neocons’ efforts to swarm his inner circle. If Neocons have their way, they will yet again derail a highly promising U.S. presidency under Mr. Trump.
In the opposite, these godless and shameless Anti-Christian Neocons should be made to learn real tolerance from Syria’s Pres. Assad.
- Johannes likes this
Posted 04 January 2017 - 11:31 AM
The head of the Iraqi government in Basra has appealed to Iraqi Christians who fled the terrors of Islamic State to return home.
Civil authorities in Iraq's main port city are using the Christmas and New Year celebrations marking the start of 2017 to try to reassure and encourage Christians that they still have a future in Iraq, Fides reports.
Khalaf Abdul al Samad, head of the city council, pledged during a visit to an Armenian church in Basra to support the rebuilding and recovery of the city's churches.
He called on Christian Iraqi refugees who had fled their homes to return to their land of origin, especially in those areas now liberated from the control of the Islamic State jihadists.
Samad, a Dutch-educated Shiite Muslim who has spent part of his political career in exile, is close to al-Maliki, a prominent Shia dissident during the rule of Saddam Hussein. Maliki was Prime Minister of Iraq from 2006 to 2014 and is currently one of the country's Vice Presidents.
The Christian population in Basra, 590 km south of Baghdad, has plummeted in recent years.
About 2,500 Christians lived there, mainly Chaldean Catholics, before the Iraq-Iran war. They made up a large part of the city's merchant class. Now there are a few hundred families left at most.
Across Iraq, in 2003 there were about 1.5 million Christians, just more than six per cent of the population. This was half the number of 1947.
Estimates of the Iraqi Christian population now put it as low as 200,000, or even fewer.
Signs that the situation might be improving were apparent last April, however, when about 200 Chaldeans made the traditional pilgrimage from Baghdad to Ur, believed to be the birthplace of the Biblical patriarch Abraham, to mark the Pope's Year of Mercy.
Posted 04 January 2017 - 12:15 PM
ANTELIAS, Lebanon—His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia will visit Aleppo during Christmas, press office of the Cilician Catholicosate reported. The visit will be Catholicos Aram I’s first to the city, since beginning of the Syrian Civil War.
Posted 04 January 2017 - 12:16 PM
ANTELIAS, Lebanon—His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia will spend Armenian Christmas Eve and day in Aleppo, his first to the city, since the Syrian conflict began six years ago and since the cease fire was declared after government forces reclaimed it.
According to the press service of the Catholicosate, Aram I will arrive in Aleppo at 1 p.m. Thursday, January 5 and will be greeted by clergy and the community at the St. Mary’s Church.
On Friday, January 6, the pontiff will celebrate Christmas Mass and present a sermon at the same church. Following Mass, the Catholicos will meet parishioners and accept Christmas greetings.
On Saturday morning, the Catholicos will visit community institutions and churches to acquaint himself with their condition and gain first-hand perspective on the situation.
At 4 p.m. on Saturday, the Catholicos will visit the Holy Trinity Armenian Catholic Church, after which he w
ill visit the Bethel Armenian Evangelical Church. He will meet parishioners and community members at aforementioned churches.
- Johannes likes this
Posted 08 January 2017 - 10:33 AM
ALEPPO: As rebels, Al-Qaeda, Daesh and Assad fight for control of war-ravaged Aleppo— hundreds of Muslims, Christians and Armenian gathered at a church to pray for peace, in an extra-ordinary show of inter-faith harmony.
The prayers held at the Central Church in Eastern Aleppo was also attended by three French parliamentarians.
The six-year long war has taken a toll especially on the youth who pray for a peaceful city. “I pray for not just a peaceful Aleppo but all of Syria,” said a young man attending the service.
Although bombings have come to a halt in Aleppo following ceasefire, the peace remains shaky and citizens of the war-torn city are fearful of the ceasefire falling apart.
Despite the uncertainty however, people here have not abandoned hope and continue to pray for peace.
— the correspondent is visiting war-torn Syria to bring on-the-spot coverage for our readers
Posted 08 January 2017 - 10:42 AM
Re: One Year Later: Toronto's Armenian community reflects on its role in the Syrian resettlement program (Mike Adler, Scarborough Mirror, Jan. 5, 2017)
After reading your article regarding Armenians who stepped forward to help with refugee settlement, I was elated to see how wonderful and unselfish the Armenian community has been with the sponsorship of Armenian Syrian refugees.
Even though they were told last minute that these people were coming, and had to use their own community resources to help settle them, find homes and jobs for them, all without the help of Immigration Canada.
By the way, shame on Immigration and Citizenship Canada for not being available to offer assistance. The Armenian community has done this all by themselves and deserves a lot of credit for helping these refugees. They all deserve a big Thank You!
Jane White, Scarborough
Posted 09 January 2017 - 10:43 AM
Syrian-Armenians Nairi Ohanian and Mano Mangarian, residents of Aleppo, have dedicated their wedding photo shoots to the victory of Aleppo.
In an unprecedented and unique initiative for the local Armenian community, the couple has organized their outdoor wedding photo shoot against the Citadel of Aleppo, a large medieval fortified palace in the center of the Ancient City of Aleppo, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
To note, Nairi Ohanian is a dance teacher working in Aleppo.
Photos are taken from Syrian-Armenian Hovik Shehiryan’s Facebook page.
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