Category Archives: Central Asia News

Russia And Surronding Post-Soviet States News

Russia Seeks To Repatriate Russian Speaking Children in Iraq Whose Parents Joined ISIS

Iraq and Russian authorities to bring Russian speaking orphans to Russian.  The children’s pictures were shown on RT, some of the children were recognized by their relatives in Russia.   These children are traumatized, very young, and have no official papers.

According to Samih Beno, a Jordanian politician of Chechen origin, 48 minors, presumably children of Russian citizens, are now being held in different Iraqi shelters. Beno, also the head of the Chechen Republic’s Friends Association in Jordan, helped begin the evacuation and serves as a mediator during talks between representatives of different countries and international public organizations. No concrete date as to when minors could be brought back home can be set at the moment, as the process of their return is full of legal complications. T

o bring the children back, it must be confirmed they are all Russian citizens, which is not easy as the minors lack documents proving their identity and can hardly tell the authorities anything about themselves or their family aside from a name.  According to Beno, the kids will have to undergo a DNA test to prove they are relatives with people who claim so.  RT

Just this week, two more children, whose parents are believed to be Russian-speaking, were brought into the orphanage in Baghdad. However, getting the new arrivals to open up and talk has proved to be a difficult process.

Mouhamed allegedly speaks a mixture of Russian and Arabic, but says nothing to reveal his identity. He has an injury on one of his knees. Haddja says nothing at all. She is suffering from a wound to her ankle, in what appears to be a severe burn.

One of their mates said both children were brought into the orphanage at night, and she has not heard either of them speak Russian since. The team working on the ground is now trying to establish if the children are of Russian descent.  RT

Arriving In Russia

A four-year-old Chechen boy has been brought back to Russia after living with his jihadist father, who was fighting alongside ISIS in Mosul. Russian authorities are now seeking the return of several dozen such children from Iraqi orphanages.

Bilal Tagirov’s mother hadn’t seen him for two years. In October 2015, the child was kidnapped from his native Chechnya by his father, Khasan Tagirov, who went to fight alongside Islamic State jihadists, first in Syria and then in Iraq.

Two sisters – Hadija and Fatima

RT correspondent Murad Gazdiev traveled to the Russian republic of Dagestan, after grandparents of two sisters – Hadija and Fatima came forward. Both said they hadn’t slept for three days since they saw the video with the girls.

The girls were taken by their parents to Mosul some two years ago, then both parents were killed in a drone strike, leaving the children orphans, Gazdiev said, citing the girls’ grandparents.

“Our children secretly left us. How could they take away their own helpless kids? If you are leaving why do you need to traumatize the kids? I still don’t understand it,” the grandfather of the girls said passionately.

“We are waiting for our girls,” their grandmother added.  RT

 

Mariam can hardly pronounce her name. At first she stayed silent, but then managed to speak of her injuries and the ordeal she suffered when the house she lived in with her family came under fire one day.

“Someone began shooting at the house. After that they threw grenades. And this is when the fire started,” she says. “Then I was hit by shrapnel. And this is how blood spilled from my head. Lots of blood,” she said, touching scars on her face, apparently left by shrapnel.

Mariam says that her mother was shot dead and she doesn’t know where her father is.

“There were snipers across the river. The snipers shot at my mother right here,” Mariam says. “They shot her in the arm. The head and the arm. And then she died.”

Hours after RT aired the report about Mariam, a woman from the Russian Republic of Dagestan contacted the channel, claiming that the girl in the video was her granddaughter.

“It’s my granddaughter!” the woman identified as Patimatzagra said through tears, adding that her daughter’s name was Madina. She was in shock to hear the girl say that her mother had died…

Mariam’s parents took the girl and left Dagestan in 2014, the woman said. From time to time Madina sent her photos and videos of Mariam and two boys, presumably, Mariam’s siblings. However, she stopped answering calls in January this year.RT

Mariam

Mariam had problems even pronouncing her own name when she was discovered by RT in an Iraqi orphanage earlier in August.

The girl suffered immense psychological and physical trauma after her mother was killed by a sniper in front of her eyes and she herself was hit by shrapnel.

However, she was seen smiling for the first time in a long while as she was surrounded by the caring family in Grozny.

Earlier in August, a four-year-old Chechen boy, Bilal Tagirov, returned to Russia after living with his jihadist father, who was fighting for Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in Mosul.

Around 50 children of Russian citizens currently remain in various shelters, Mikhail Fedotov, the head of the Council for Civil Society and Human Rights, told RIA Novosti.

Their return home is a complicated affair due to the kids lacking passports, bureaucratic hurdles and the difficult security situation in Iraq.  RT

Russia Military In Southern Syria Near Israel’s Border

Russia is deploying troops to southern Syria, near the Israeli border, Ynet reports citing reports in Arabic-language media.

According to the Lebanese-based Al Mayadeen news channel, Russia is building a military base in the area of Quneitra and Dara’a, on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights. TimesOfIsrael

Russian military forces have replaced the Syrian regime’s military presence in Daraa and Quneitra in southern Syria, and have built a base in the area, Syrian opposition sources reported this week.

The move indicates that Russia intends to create a more permanent military presence near Israel’s northern border, and comes after the implementation of a Syrian cease-fire agreement brokered by the U.S. and Russia in July.

The Lebanon-based and Hezbollah-affiliated Al Mayadeen media network corroborated the reports, stating that Russian forces have been deployed in the region and are stationed in military posts shared with Syrian army units.

The Syrian army’s 4th division auxiliary force is the only regime unit due for complete withdrawal from southern Syria, while other Syrian military units will remain there, Al Mayadeen reported. Further, the Lebanese media outlet said Russia has built a military base between the city of Damascus and the suburb of Daraa.

Israeli officials remain concerned regarding the presence of the Syrian army as well as Hezbollah and Iranian forces in southern Syria. In July, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the cease-fire brokered by the U.S. and Russia perpetuates the presence of Iranian forces near Israel. America and Russia responded to Netanyahu’s criticism by saying Israel’s interests would be taken into account in Syria.  JNS

Why Are Russian Opposition Faces Turning Green?

Critics of the Kremlin are being splashed with a green liquid called zelyonka.

Russian opposition leaders have never had it easy. Harassment, surveillance and violence have long been part of the landscape. But in recent months, they have also had to watch out for pro-government cronies wielding a green dye known as zelyonka. In March Alexei Navalny, Russia’s foremost opposition politician, had his face splashed with the stuff (pictured) while campaigning in the Siberian city of Barnaul.

Earlier this month, Mr Navalny announced that a second attack, which featured zelyonka mixed with another substance, had left him partially blind. (Mr Navalny underwent eye surgery in Spain this week, after Russian authorities issued him a passport for the first time in five years.) “Nowadays on the Russian political spectrum, green is the color of alarm,” says an editorial in Novaya Gazeta, a leading opposition newspaper. What is zelyonka, and why is it turning opposition-minded Russians’ faces green?

A widespread Soviet-era antiseptic akin to iodine, zelyonka, or “brilliant green”, is normally used to treat small scrapes. Pro-Kremlin activists have adopted it to stain those who challenge the government. The Economist

Brilliant Green has the added advantage of stigmatizing its victims. It is notoriously difficult to wash off, guaranteeing targets will bear the mark of the “enemy” for several days at least. “It serves to humiliate the victim and discredit the person in the eyes of voters as weak and defenseless,” says Oreshkin.

But by now, analyst Dmitry Oreshkin argues, its intended effect has faded. In fact, the opposition itself have started wearing green as a badge of honor. After Navalny was attacked in Barnaul, dozens of his supporters posted pictures of themselves in green online. When Kasyanov was attacked at the Nemtsov march, defiant demonstrators began chanting: “You won’t pour zelyonka over us!”  MoscowTimes

Terror: 2 Explosions In St. Petersburg, Russia Metro

Akbarzhon Jalilov

Update:  A former sushi chef from Kyrgyzstan has been named as the suicide bomber who murdered 14 and injured 50 in the St Petersburg train massacre.

Russian citizen Akbarzhon Jalilov, 22, who was born in Kyrgyzstan, has been named by security services as the suspected bomber who also planted a second device hidden in a fire extinguisher that failed to explode.

Kremlin officials said parts of the attacker’s body had been found at the scene a day after a train was blown up between Sennaya Ploshchad and Sadovaya metro stations in Russia’s second city. DailyMail

Two nail bombs have ripped through train carriages killing at least ten and injuring 50 in the Russian city of St Petersburg this morning. Explosive devices packed full of shrapnel were detonated on a train between the Sennaya Ploshchad and Sadovaya stations. DailyMail

Vladimir Putin is in his hometown of St Petersburg today.  “We are considering all possible causes, including terrorism,” he said in a statement.

A suspected IED explosion inside a car of the St. Petersburg Metro system has resulted in casualties among passengers. The entire transit system has been shut down as bomb squads and rescuers are responding to the emergency.The explosion happened as the train was traveling between the stations Tekhnologichesky Institut and Sennaya Ploshchad of the St. Petersburg Metro, the National Antiterrorism Committee confirmed, adding that there was an unspecified number of fatalities from the blast.

The explosion happened as the train was traveling between the stations Tekhnologichesky Institut and Sennaya Ploshchad of the St. Petersburg Metro, the National Antiterrorism Committee confirmed, adding that there was an unspecified number of fatalities from the blast.

Preliminary reports indicate that some 10 people may have been killed and 20 injured in the blast, news agencies said citing sources close to the investigation. RT

Video: Russian Government Trolls Democratic Party In April Fools’ Day Prank Offering “Election Interference”

Good sense of humor.

Need some election interference? The Russian Foreign Ministry is ready to help — or so it says on April Fools’ Day.

On Saturday, the ministry posted on its Facebook page an audio file of the purported new automated telephone switchboard message for Russian embassies.

“To arrange a call from a Russian diplomat to your political opponent, press 1,” the recording begins, in Russian and English. Press 2 “to use the services of Russian hackers,” and 3 “to request election interference.”

The English portion of the recording begins 26 seconds into the video, with the title translated as “Answering machine for Russian diplomatic missions.”

A ministry duty officer, who did not give his name in line with official practice, confirmed to The Associated Press that the post was an official joke. CBSNews

Fatah, Hamas To Visit Moscow January 15-17, 2017 For Reconciliation Talks

Hamas and Fatah will meet in Moscow January 15-17, 2017 to discuss divisions between them and work the ways of reconciliation.

The Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences will organize a meeting of Palestinian political parties Hamas and Fatah to facilitate the discussion of the perspectives of overcoming the strife between them, Kayed Ghul, a member of Fatah political bureau said.

“The Institute of Oriental Studies sent us an invitation for the meeting on January 15-17,” Ghul told RIA Novosti adding that the delegation was expecting to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his deputy Mikhail Bogdanov.

He added that the discussion would touch on “the issue of Palestinian divisions and the ways of overcoming the current situation.”  SputnikNews

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said in an interview in April  2016 with Russian state news agency Sputnik, one of his top priorities is to reconcile with Gaza-based terror group Hamas.

In 2014, Abbas’s Fatah party joined forces with Hamas in forming a unity government. This was the first time both Palestinian groups came together since 2007, when Fatah took control of parts of Judea and Samaria (West Bank) and Hamas took over the Gaza Strip following a deadly and violent conflict. Continuous political disagreements between Fatah and Hamas eventually led to the collapse of the unity government in June 2015.

Regarding the peace process with Israel, Abbas called on Russia to take on a greater leadership role in negotiations, based on what he says is Moscow’s success in brokering the Iran nuclear deal and its involvement in Syria. Russia’s “new proactive dimension in the Middle East” will “restore peace and stability” to the Palestinians, Abbas claimed. “From here we wish to see this dynamic in the Russian foreign policy extended to the peace process between the Israelis and us,” he said.

Abbas criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whom he is convinced does not intend to form an independent Palestinian state. “Policies and practices of the government of Israel and the dramatic facts on the ground due to the ongoing confiscation of our land, building of more settlements and the demolition of Palestinian houses, leave no doubts about Netanyahu’s commitment to destroy the two-state solution,” he said. Algemeiner

Online:   Fatah: History & Overview
Hamas: Background & Overview

Russia Responds To Obama On Expelled Russian Diplomats

The Republicans in Congress have wanted to confront and take a harder line on Russia, and they also wanted certain Russian diplomats expelled from the U.S. for years over the spy shops in NY and Maryland and harassment of U.S. diplomats in Russia .  Especially the last two years with Russia mounting a campaign of harassment and intimidation of American diplomats and their families in Moscow.

NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell said the Obama administration is taking steps to “box in” President-elect Donald Trump so the sanctions are not easily reversible. BreitBart

Putin said Russia will not expel U.S. diplomats.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation:

The outgoing US administration has not given up on its hope of dealing one last blow to relations with Russia, which it has already destroyed.   Using obviously inspired leaks in the US media, it is trying to threaten us again with expansion of anti-Russian sanctions, “diplomatic” measures and even subversion of our computer systems. Moreover, this final New Year’s “greeting” from Barack Obama’s team, which is already preparing to leave the White House, is being cynically presented as a response to some cyber-attacks from Moscow.

Frankly speaking, we are tired of lies about Russian hackers that continue to be spread in the United States from the very top. The Obama administration launched this misinformation half a year ago in a bid to play up to the required nominee at the November presidential election and, having failed to achieve the desired effect, has been trying to justify its failure by taking it out with a vengeance on Russian-US relations.

However, the truth about the White House-orchestrated provocation is bound to surface sooner or later. In fact, this is already happening. On December 8, US media quoted Georgia’s Secretary of State Brian Kemp as saying that the local authorities tracked down the origin of a hacker attack on his voter registration database after the election. The attack was traced to an IP address of the Department of Homeland Security. This was followed by an attempt to quickly cover up this information by a flood of new anti-Russian accusations that did not contain a single piece of evidence.

We can only add that if Washington takes new hostile steps, it will receive an answer. This applies to any actions against Russian diplomatic missions in the United States, which will immediately backfire at US diplomats in Russia. The Obama administration probably does not care at all about the future of bilateral relations, but history will hardly forgive it for this après-nous-le-deluge attitude.

Vladimir Putin Condemns EU On Apathy On Muslim Child Rape In Austria: ‘A Society That Cannot Defend Its Children Has No Future’

Theresienbad swimming pool,
Theresienbad swimming pool,

Europe & Scandinavia, Putin is right.

  • ‘A society that cannot defend its children has no future.’
  • ‘In a European country, a child is raped by a migrant, and the court releases him.
  • ‘I can’t even explain the rationale

A judge in Austria seems not to be aware of age of consent laws.  An Iraqi ‘migrant’ raped a 10-year-old boy at a swimming pool, his injuries were so bad he was hospitalized.

He was originally convicted of the crime but it was overturned because a court didn’t prove he realized the boy was saying no.

It came after the migrant, identified as 20-year-old Amir A., claimed that it was a ‘sexual emergency’ because he had not had sex for four months.

Putin condemns Europe’s handling of migrants and says the child rape in Austria shows ‘a dilution of national values’

The Russian president has largely kept quiet over the refugee crisis in Europe but has now spoken out of his disbelief over its handling claiming that a continent that ‘can’t protect its children’ has no future.

His comments come off the back of a case in Austria last week, which saw an Iraqi migrant have his conviction of raping a 10-year-old boy at a swimming pool in Vienna overturned.

He was originally convicted of the crime but it was overturned because a court didn’t prove he realized the boy was saying no.

It came after the migrant, identified as 20-year-old Amir A., claimed that it was a ‘sexual emergency’ because he had not had sex for four months.

A second trial for the rape is expected to take place next year, but the attacker is likely to remain in custody until then.

And speaking at a press conference this week, Putin slammed Europe’s migration policy and cited the case, where the victim was from a Serbian family living in Austria.

He said: ‘In a European country, a child is raped by a migrant, and the court releases him.  ‘It doesn’t fit into my head what on earth they’re thinking over there.  ‘I can’t even explain the rationale – is it a sense of guilt before the migrants? What’s going on? It’s not clear.’

He also claimed that the case highlighted ‘the dissolution of traditional national values’ adding: ‘A society that cannot defend its children has no future.’

And Putin’s words appeared to have struck a chord, as he is extremely popular with Serbs.

In the rape case, the boy had arrived in Austria with his Serbian mother, who paid for him to go to the Theresienbad swimming pool, where he was violently attacked.

The boy was so badly injured that he needed hospital treatment but he will be forced to go back to court for the Iraqi man’s second trial, outraging the Austrian Serbian community. DailyMail

Russian Battle Group Reaches Mediterranean After ‘Causing Stir’ In The West

A Russian naval group, headed by the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier and the battle cruiser Peter the Great, has made its way into the Mediterranean, causing quite a stir in the West, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

Moscow has been surprised by the countries that have denied Russia’s warships entry to their ports, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said, adding that ‘Western colleagues’ need to decide who they are actually fight against – terrorists or Russia. RT

Here’s new footage of Russian battle group that has caused so much stir in the West
Read more: http://on.rt.com/7tlp

Posted by RT Play on Tuesday, November 1, 2016

US Plans To Deploy 330 Marines In Norway

u-s-marines-training-norway

There are numerous foreign policy disasters that have come out of the Obama-Clinton years of diplomacy. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s weakness showed in her infamous 2009 “reset” meeting with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov.  Which has now fallen apart as Russia scraps its nuclear disarmament deal with the U.S, citing Washington’s “unfriendly actions”.  Policies of weakness can be the trigger for a disastrous war.

The Obama’s administration are following policies toward Russia, belligerent polices.  Two policies on cyberspace and Syria are based on mendacity.

 Cyberspace

The constant claim Russia hacked the emails that were released by Wikileaks.  It is only a belief as the Obama administration has no proof that the Russians hacked the email accounts.

The Democrats when caught in their criminal activities scream, Russians did it!  Then VP Biden threatens Russia with cyber attacks, which Russia was concerned about.

The Kremlin on Saturday slammed Washington for its “unprecedented” threats against Moscow over an alleged series of cyber attacks and vowed to respond. AFP

330 Marines will deploy in Norway.

The Norwegian government has confirmed reports that the United States will deploy over 300 troops in Norway, in a move set to upset neighbouring Russia.

The 330 Marines, to be stationed on rotation around 1,000 kilometres from the Russian border, will be engaged in training and manoeuvres in almost Arctic conditions, the Norwegian defence ministry said.

The announcement comes against a backdrop of increasing tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine and the conflict in Syria, although Norway itself enjoys good relations with its giant neighbour.
The US already has vast amounts of military equipment positioned in Nato ally Norway — notably in tunnels dug into mountains — but no troops. TheLocalNo

U.S. policy in Syria

In Syria, you have the Obama administration poking Russia. Is Barack Obama actually trying to start a world war with Russia?

Obama and his foreign policy team met Oct. 14th to weigh Syria military options.  The military option would be an act of war!

Some top officials argue the United States must act more forcefully in Syria or risk losing what influence it still has over moderate rebels and its Arab, Kurdish and Turkish allies in the fight against Islamic State, the officials told Reuters.

In June, 51 State Department diplomats. urged bombing strikes against Assad.

Last September, Pentagon officials called for a ‘no-fly’ zone in Syria;  it would only apply to Russian and Syrian aircraft. Hillary Clinton has also advocated the creation of a no-fly zone.  Russia has also deployed numerous S-300 and S-400 air defense systems in Syria. Continue reading US Plans To Deploy 330 Marines In Norway

Soviet Creation Of So-Called Liberation Movements In Latin America And The Middle East

“The PLO was dreamt up by the KGB, which had a penchant for ‘liberation’ organizations.” — , former chief of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Romania.

Not only was the PLO dreamt up by the KGB, the seeds of today’s anti-American terrorism in Muslim countries has its roots in the 1970 era plots of the KGB.  Also the Soviet KGB dreamt up Liberation Theology in Latin America.

Vasily Mitrokhin was a former senior officer of the Soviet Foreign Intelligence service, who was later demoted to KGB archivist. At immense risk to his own life, he spent 12 years diligently copying secret KGB files that would not otherwise have become available to the public (the KGB foreign intelligence archives remain sealed from the public, despite the demise of the Soviet Union). When Mitrokhin defected from the Russia in 1992, he brought the copied files with him to the UK. The declassified parts of the Mitrokhin archives were brought to the public eye in the writings of Cambridge professor Christopher Andrew, who co-wrote The Mitrokhin Archive(published in two volumes) together with the Soviet defector. Mitrokhin’s archives led, among other things, to the discovery of many KGB spies in the West and elsewhere.

Unfortunately, the history of the full extent of the KGB’s influence and disinformation operations is not nearly as well-known as it should be, considering the immense influence that the KGB wielded on international affairs. The KGB conducted hostile operations against NATO as a whole, against democratic dissent within the Soviet bloc, and set in motion subversive events in Latin America and the Middle East, which resonate to this day.

The KGB, furthermore, was an extremely active player in the creation of so-called liberation movements in Latin America and in the Middle East, movements that went on to engage in lethal terrorism — as documented in, among other places, The Mitrokhin Archive, as well as in the books and writings of Ion Mihai Pacepa, the highest-ranking Communist official to defect from the former Soviet bloc.

Pacepa was chief of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Romania and a personal advisor to Romanian Communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu before he defected to the United States in 1978. Pacepa worked with the CIA to bring down communism for more than 10 years; the agencydescribed his cooperation as “an important and unique contribution to the United States.”

In a 2004 interview, FrontPage Magazine, Pacepa said:

The PLO was dreamt up by the KGB, which had a penchant for “liberation” organizations. There was the National Liberation Army of Bolivia, created by the KGB in 1964 with help from Ernesto “Che” Guevara … the KGB also created the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which carried out numerous bombing attacks… In 1964 the first PLO Council, consisting of 422 Palestinian representatives handpicked by the KGB, approved the Palestinian National Charter — a document that had been drafted in Moscow. The Palestinian National Covenant and the Palestinian Constitution were also born in Moscow, with the help of Ahmed Shuqairy, a KGB influence agent who became the first PLO chairman…

In the Wall Street Journal, Pacepa explained how the KGB built up Arafat — or in current parlance, how they constructed a narrative for him:

He was an Egyptian bourgeois turned into a devoted Marxist by KGB foreign intelligence. The KGB had trained him at its Balashikha special-operations school east of Moscow and in the mid-1960s decided to groom him as the future PLO leader. First, the KGB destroyed the official records of Arafat’s birth in Cairo, and replaced them with fictitious documents saying that he had been born in Jerusalem and was therefore a Palestinian by birth. GateStoneInstitue

Recommended Resources:


Disinformation: Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategies for Undermining Freedom, Attacking Religion, and Promoting Terrorism Hardcover by Ronald Rychlak and Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa is available at Amazon.


The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB Paperback by Christopher Andrew is available at Amazon.


The World Was Going Our Way: The KGB and the Battle for the the Third World – Newly Revealed Secrets from the Mitrokhin Archive Paperback by Christopher Andrew is available at Amazon.

The Syrian Government, Russia, And Iran – Changing The Demographic Make-up Of Syria

Russian soldiers in Syria.
Russian soldiers in Syria.

The Syrian government, Russia, and Iran are trying to change the demographic make-up of Syria by depopulating Syria of Arab Sunnis. The largest religious group in Syria are the Sunni Muslims which make up around 74% of the population.

When Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to join the fight, he and his generals soon recognized that this manner of fighting ensured perpetual war. So they changed tactics. The new strategy involves speeding up the depopulation and ethnic cleansing of rebel-held areas. The massive refugee flows from Syria over the past year are a testament to the success of the barbaric war plan. The idea is to defeat the rebel forces by destroying the sheltering civilian populations.

By adopting a strategy of total war, Putin has ensured that far from becoming the quagmire that President Barack Obama warned him Syria would become, the war in Syria has instead become a means to transform Russia into the dominant superpower in the Mediterranean, at the US’s expense.

In exchange for saving Assad’s neck and enabling Iran and Hezbollah to control Syria, Russia has received the capacity to successfully challenge US power. JPost

Bashar Assad’s regime is Alawite, a sect that was recognized by the Lebanese Shiite religious establishment as a branch of Shi’ism. But Syria’s Arab Sunnis never recognized the Alawite rulers as Muslims.  By Islamic law, only a Muslim can rule a Muslim country. The Sunnis acquiesced to Alawite rule because of their inability to forcefully remove the Assad family from power. Nevertheless, until today, the upper class Arab Sunnis families who employed Alawites as servants in their households refer disparagingly to their Alawite servants as abid (“slaves” in Arabic).

Prior to the Arab Spring, the Alawites constituted roughly 12 percent of Syria’s population. Alawite rule over Syria was always tenuous at best – because Syria’s Alawite military leadership kept order in the country through coercion, not consent.

When the Arab Spring took hold in Syria, it was the Arab Sunnis, first and foremost, who revolted against the Alawite regime. They were aided in their efforts by fellow Sunnis in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and other Sunni powers, which provided arms and funding.

From the perspective of the Alawites and other non-Sunni Arabs, the Sunni revolt constituted a clear and present danger to the non-Sunni regime. After all, the Middle East is a rough neighborhood, and people nurse grudges and perceived insults to their honor until they have the opportunity to avenge perceived “wrongs.” Nothing is ever forgotten; nothing is ever forgiven. For these Sunnis, it is an offense against Allah that these non-Muslim Alawites were ruling Syria.

The Iranians, Russians, and Syrian governments joined together to fight against the Sunni fundamentalists because all three see themselves in an existential battle against the radical Sunnis. They joined together to “rectify” this problem by ridding Syria of its Sunni Arabs and thereby change the demographic make-up of Syria forever.

They are forcing the Arab Sunnis to leave the country through bombing, terror, and other methods. It is therefore not surprising that the overwhelming numbers of Syrian refugees are Arab Sunnis from the Damascus-Aleppo corridor which has been the traditional heartland of the Arab Sunni community. Indeed, the majority of migrants currently living in refugee camps in Jordan and Turkey are largely Arab Sunni, as are the refugees who made it to Europe.

The Iranians are Shiites, and they harbor a huge fear that the Sunnis will destroy them, as the Sunnis have done over the centuries since the death of the Muslim prophet Muhammad.

Ditto Russia: The Russians too have an existential problem with the Sunnis, as about 98 percent of the former Soviet Muslims are Sunni.  Today, Moscow’s Muslim population is estimated at over one-quarter (and higher), including legal residents and illegal workers, according to some analysts. Almost all – except most Moscow-resident Azeris – are Sunni.  Russia too feels an existential threat from these Sunnis like their Iranian and Syrian Alawite allies. Therefore, the Russian government has undertaken a program – with some success – to entice Russian Sunnis to convert to Shiism. jcpa