Islamic State, Terrorism, World War III

Russia and Europe’s Crucial Alliance Against Islamic State

Will Allies and Axis Join Ranks
A Century Later?

Introduction by Quemado Institute
November 27, 2015

As the world news zeroes in on the hidden—or ot so hidden—subversive financial motives for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s shootdown of the Russian SU-24 and his criminal support of the Islamic State, the more progressive countries of the West are at last waking up to the fact that Vladimir Putin is ten steps ahead of them in combatting the biggest threat to our civilization: extremist Islamic terrorism.

We present below four articles from news platforms on different sides of the curtain: first a report from Strategic Culture Foundation on the Putin-Hollande press conference, followed by guest reports form rt.com, Aljazeera and the Washington Post, each underscoring the urgency of forging an alliance between Europe and Russia, which, unlike the alignment in the World Wars of the twentieth century, would include Germany in its ranks, despite that a stubborn NATO insists on digging its head in the sand, no doubt fearing its officials will be out a cushy job if the quasi-Russian-Atlantic feud is exposed as the robeless emperor it is.

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Vladimir Putin, Francois Hollande Press Conference
Guest Article

Strategic Culture Foundation
November 27, 2015

Francois Hollande, Vladimir Putin, Moscow, Nov 26, 2015

Francois Hollande, Vladimir Putin, Moscow, Nov 26, 2015

On Nov 26 following their bilateral meeting in Moscow, the President of Russia Vladimir Putin and the President of France François Hollande took part in a press conference in Kremlin to give a statement on the results of the meeting and answer journalists’ questions. Mr. Putin started his address by calling the concluded meeting “frank and substantive” and naming “the issue of jointly combating international terrorism” as its primary objective.

“Russia and France know what it means to act in the spirit of alliance; we have come together more than once throughout our history. Today, we agreed to step up our joint efforts on the anti-terrorist track, to improve the exchange of operational information in the fight against terrorism and establish constructive work between our military experts in order to avoid overlapping incidents and to focus our efforts on ensuring that our work in fighting terror is more effective, avoiding any strikes against territories and armed forces that are themselves fighting terrorists. Mr Hollande and I are looking at this kind of cooperation as concrete and practical input towards forming a broad anti-terrorist coalition, a broad anti-terrorist front under the auspices of the United Nations. I will note that the number of nations sharing this initiative is growing.” noted the President.

Following the opening speech delivered by Vladimir Putin President Hollande stated: “Last week, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution that all countries in the world should take the necessary measures to coordinate their efforts to eliminate the ‘Islamic State’, and we should pursue this process. …Since 2011, the chaos in Syria has created a huge wave of refugees, and over 300,000 people have been killed, and so now we need to find a political solution to this crisis, but there are requirements for this that should be followed. We believe that the following conditions should be met if we are to ensure a political transition process. A coalition government, an independent government, should be formed during a transition period. … it is imperative that Russia should play the main, one of the main roles in this process. I’ve told Mr Putin that France is ready and willing to work with Russia hand in hand towards our common objective, which is to fight terrorist groups, above all ISIS. It is for this reason that I believe our meeting today to be of outmost importance. Mr Putin and I have agreed on three main points.

“First, we intend to step up the exchange of intelligence and any other information between our respective forces. Second, we will intensify strikes against ISIS and coordinate them so as to enhance their efficiency. Third, as Mr Putin has also pointed out, we need to make sure that our air strikes concentrate on the ‘Islamic State’ and terrorist groups.

“Let me tell you that Europe is about to mobilise its forces to combat terrorism. I would like to ask defence ministers from across Europe to take the necessary decisions for coordinating their actions. The United Kingdom will also participate. I spoke with Mr Cameron about this. I also discussed a number of issues with Ms Merkel yesterday. Mr Putin and I have also agreed that we will exchange information and specific actions as regards another important issue – the developments in eastern Ukraine. We will continue to work on that within the Normandy format. Our fight against terrorism in Syria does not affect France’s commitment to find a political solution to the Ukrainian crisis. We must fully implement all the measures that are stipulated in the Minsk Agreements. This is why I wanted to come to Moscow today to meet with Mr Putin. Mr Putin will come to Paris on Monday to participate in the climate change conference. I think the current situation and the fight against terrorism required my visit to Moscow today.”

slavnov27uAnswering a question about the role of President Assad in the future of Syria, President Putin replied: “I believe that the fate of the Syrian president should be entirely in the hands of the Syrian people. This is the first point. Second, we all believe that successfully fighting terrorists in Syria is impossible without ground operations, and today the only force that can conduct ground operations against ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra, and other terrorist organisations, is the Syrian government army. In this regard, I believe that President Assad’s army and he himself are our natural allies in fighting terrorism. There may be other forces that claim they are willing to fight terrorists. …We have already established such contacts with some of them, and … we are willing to support their efforts in fighting ISIS and other terrorist groups, just as we support the Assad army.

“We …will exchange information with France about the areas that are being held by healthy opposition, not terrorists, and will refrain from delivering air strikes at them. We will also exchange information, when we – France and Russia – know for sure that certain areas are captured by terrorist organisations, and we will coordinate our efforts with regard to those areas.”

When asked about the incident that took place on Tuesday as a result of which a Russian bomber was shot down by Turkish jet fighters and possible implications of the incident, Vladimir Putin stated: “…we considered Turkey to be a friendly state and simply didn’t expect an attack from that side. This is why we regard this attack as treacherous. Now we see what’s possible, and our people were killed. We’re duty bound to ensure the safety of our air force. This is why we’ve deployed the modern S-400 system there. It’s a long range air-defence system and is one of the most effective such systems in the world. However, we won’t limit ourselves to this. If necessary, we’ll support our air operations with fighter jets, and any other means, including electronic warfare systems. We have plenty of alternatives, and now we’ll use them.

“This is not in conflict with what we’re doing with the US-led coalition. We exchange information with them, but now we’re very worried about the nature of this exchange and the results of this cooperation. …The American side, which leads the coalition, to which Turkey is also a party, knew about the location and time of our operation. And this is precisely where we were hit. …We considered Turkey not just a neighbour, but a friendly nation, almost an ally. It is very sad to see this being destroyed in such a thoughtless and reckless manner. … It’s highly regrettable that instead of seriously analysing this issue and making sure that such incidents never happen again, we are hearing inconclusive explanations and statements that they don’t have anything to apologise for. Anyway, this is Turkey’s choice, not ours.”

Mr Hollande also offered his comment on the issue: “This is a very serious incident, and I regret that it happened. It is perfectly clear that it is necessary to avoid any risk and any possible repetition of this sort of thing at this time and place. It is critical that we refrain from escalating the situation. The only goal that we should all set for ourselves is the fight against ISIS and the elimination of the terrorists. We have no other goals. We must enhance coordination between our countries so that the armed forces present in the region and the aircraft capable of conducting air strikes do not interfere with each other so as to prevent any encounters leading to deplorable consequences and collisions. We need to do our outmost to prevent this from happening again.

“…we have agreed on the need to carry out strikes against terrorists only, only against ISIS and jihadist groups. It is crucial in this respect that groups that are also combating terrorists are not targeted by air strikes. It is in this area that we intend to share information with each other, as was discussed during the meeting. We have to understand who can fight and who can’t, who should or should not be targeted. Consequently, our current objective is to try to avoid any incidents of this kind between the countries that are engaged in counter-terrorist efforts in Syria. Second, we must identify goals that would be clear to everyone.”

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Anti-ISIS Bombing Hits Commercial-Scale Oil Smuggling to Turkey
Guest Report

Axis of Logic
Source: rt.com
November 27, 2015

ISIL uses oil smuggling to fund war chest (--thenational.ae)

ISIL uses oil smuggling to fund war chest (–thenational.ae)

Islamic State’s daring and impudent oil smuggling into Turkey should become a high-priority target in order to cripple the terrorist group, President Putin said, backed by French President Francois Hollande. Both agree that the source of terrorist financing must be hit first and foremost. Commercial-scale oil smuggling from Islamic State controlled territory into Turkey must be stopped, Putin said after meeting Hollande in Moscow.

“Vehicles, carrying oil, lined up in a chain going beyond the horizon,” said Putin, reminding the press that the scale of the issue was discussed at the G20 summit in Antalya earlier this month, where the Russian leader demonstrated reconnaissance footage taken by Russian pilots. The views resemble a “living oil pipe” stretched from ISIS and rebel controlled areas of Syria into Turkey, the Russian President stressed. “Day and night they are going to Turkey. Trucks always go there loaded, and back from there – empty.”

“We are talking about a commercial-scale supply of oil from the occupied Syrian territories seized by terrorists. It is from these areas [that oil comes from], and not with any others. And we can see it from the air, where these vehicles are going,”

Putin said. “We assume that the top political leadership of Turkey might not know anything about this [illegal oil trade]. Hard to believe, but it is theoretically possible,” Putin said, adding that this however does not excuse Ankara from not stopping the illegal smuggling of oil.

Putin pointed out the lack of smoke from any fires or the existence of any commercial enterprises created to deal with the destruction of oil, which would be possible to find if the Turkish leadership is aware and is seizing and destroying smuggled products, as it claims. “But if the top political leadership [in Turkey] doesn’t know anything about this, let them find out. I can admit that there may be some elements of corruption, secret dealing, they should sort it out,” said Putin.

Putin stated that sales of oil from ISIS are in direct violation of international law, and that the proceeds from ‘black gold’ cost innocent people their lives. “In this respect there is a special UN Security Council resolution banning the direct purchase of oil from terrorists, because these barrels, that they supply, it is not just oil, there is the blood of our citizens, because from the money [received], terrorists buy weapons, ammunition, and then conduct bloody actions,” Putin said.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan (--sendika7.org)

Recep Tayyip Erdogan (–sendika7.org)

However, the Turkish leadership is not rushing to investigate whether any of the ISIS oil smuggling routes end up in Turkey, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan himself refuting any suspicions that Syrian oil might be getting into his country illegally as absolute “slander.”

“Those who claim we buy oil from Daesh [ISIS] are obliged to prove it,” Erdogan said earlier on Thursday in an attempt to shift the blame for ISIS oil profits onto Damascus. “If not, you are a slanderer. Shame on you!”

“ISIL sells the oil they drill to Assad. To Assad. Talk this over with Assad you support,” Erdogan said, as cited by AFP.

Putin reminded that ISIS claimed responsibility for a number of deadly terrorist acts throughout the world, including the Russian plane bombing in Sinai and the series of Paris attacks in mid-November.

After French President Francois Hollande’s meeting with Putin on Wednesday, he said that the focus of the fight against terror should be the destruction of the Islamic State oil trade. “It is necessary to hit ISIS training centers, to hit those centers where this terrorist army is being trained,” Hollande said. “But the main thing is to hit the sources of financing, which give [the terror group] life in the first place – first of all oil,” The French leader emphasized. The most effective way, the French leader said is to target “trucks that transport oil,” transferring it to buyers on the black market, “thus giving ISIS uncontrolled amount of money.”

The Russian Foreign ministry meanwhile wants Ankara to properly address reports of its alleged involvement with ISIS oil smuggling. “We have a very large number of questions … [for] the Turkish side in relation to information found in the media and social networks about the relationship with the terrorists on the oil business, all kinds of assistance to groups that carry out the relevant activities,” said Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova.

Meanwhile the Russian air force continues to engage terrorist targets in Syria and increasingly focusing on illegal terrorist oil smuggling. Between November 23 and26 the Russian air force carried out 134 sorties on 449 targets. “Russian aviation continues to strike refining facilities in the territories controlled by ISIS terrorist organization,” defense ministry spokesman General-Major Igor Konashenkov told a media briefing on Wednesday. In the past few days Russian aircraft have destroyed oil trucks, refineries, and oil storage facilities in the provinces of Deir ez-Zor and Raqqa.

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France’s Hollande, in Moscow, Calls for Anti-ISIL Coalition
Guest Report

Aljazeera
November 26, 2015

Paris attacks: Police survey area of Boulevard Baumarchais Nov 13, 2015 (--Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images)

Paris attacks: Police survey Boulevard Baumarchais, November 13, 2015 (–Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images)

French President Francois Hollande told Russia’s Vladimir Putin on Thursday that world powers must create a “grand coalition” to combat Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters who control swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq. Hollande’s comments come amid calls from international leaders to ramp up efforts against ISIL in the Middle East and around the world following the attacks in Paris on Nov. 13 that killed 130 people. ISIL has also said it downed a Russian plane on Oct. 31 over the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, killing all 224 people on board. “Our enemy is Daesh, Islamic State, it has territory, an army and resources, so we must create this large coalition to hit these terrorists,” Hollande said, using alternative names for ISIL, in televised remarks at the start of bilateral talks with the Russian leader in the Kremlin.

Putin said that Russia was mourning for Paris victims and those who died in the downing of the Russian passenger plane over Egypt. He praised Hollande’s efforts to build a coalition and said that Moscow was open for stronger cooperation. “It is for [the victims of the attacks] that we must act,” French newspaper Le Figaro quoted Hollande as saying.

Earlier Thursday, British Prime Minister David Cameron told the House of Commons that U.S. President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande had urged Britain to join the military campaign and argued that the Paris attacks have given new urgency to the fight against ISIL. “These are our closest allies and they want our help,” he said.

Cameron, who lost a vote on air strikes against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in 2013, needs to persuade several lawmakers in his own Conservative Party and some in the opposition Labour Party to back his cause if he is to win parliament’s backing for military action.

Germany, meanwhile, has decided to send reconnaissance aircraft, tanker planes and a warship to help in the fight against ISIL.

Hollande’s visit comes two days after he met with President Barack Obama in Washington, where both leaders vowed to escalate airstrikes against ISIL and bolster intelligence sharing. Hollande’s difficult task became even more arduous after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane near the Syrian border on Tuesday. The incident underscored the complex military landscape in Syria, where a sprawling cast of countries and rebel groups are engaged on the battlefield and in the skies overhead, sometimes with minimal coordination.

The French president hopes to make progress on three priority issues: to prevent Assad from targeting civilians, to focus the airstrikes on ISIL fighters – not other groups that comprise the Syrian opposition – and to move forward on a political transition in Syria. France will also seek to “avoid an escalation” between Russia and Turkey, according to a French diplomatic official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. In advance of Hollande’s meeting with Putin, France sought to dismiss concerns that it might soften its stance on

international sanctions against Russia over Ukraine in exchange for Russia’s cooperation in the fight against ISIL. France’s ambassador to the U.S., Gerard Araud, tweeted on Tuesday evening that “Hollande has confirmed the sanctions will be maintained as long as the Minsk agreements are not implemented.” Araud was referring to peace agreements for eastern Ukraine forged in the Belarusian capital in February.

Following his meeting with the French president, Obama said Russian cooperation in the fight against IS would be “enormously helpful.” Both Obama and Hollande, however, insisted that a political transition in Syria must lead to Assad’s departure. Russia, on the other hand, has been Assad’s staunchest ally. Last week, Hollande called for the U.S. and Russia to set aside their policy divisions over Syria and “fight this terrorist army in a broad, single coalition.” But his office acknowledges that “coordination” sounds like a far more realistic goal.

With two suspects of the Paris attacks at large, tensions were still high in Belgium on Thursday with the capital, Brussels. But authorities lowered the threat level in Brussels to the second-highest level.

Since Saturday morning, Brussels – home to the European Union and NATO headquarters – had been wary of a threat that was considered “serious and imminent.” The lowering of the threat level came as a surprise, since the government had said that it would likely keep the highest threat level in the capital through the weekend. Authorities launched a raid in southern Belgium on Thursday afternoon linked to the Paris attacks, but didn’t detain any suspects.

In Brussels, a civil protection squad decontaminated several people as a precaution at the main mosque after a suspicious parcel arrived. The person who opened the package discovered white powder and immediately contacted authorities. A specialized crew from the fire department was sent, witnesses at the scene said.

Ursula Von der Leyen, Angela Merkel (--.theguardian.com)

Ursula von der Leyen, Angela Merkel (–.theguardian.com)

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Cabinet decided in the wake of the Paris attacks to send reconnaissance aircraft, tanker planes and a warship to help in the fight against ISIL. Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen told reporters that the government had also agreed to provide satellite surveillance. During Merkel’s visit in Paris on Wednesday, Hollande had said it would “be a very good signal in the fight against terrorism” if Germany could do more against ISIL in Syria and Iraq.

Von der Leyen said the warship would help protect France’s aircraft carrier in the eastern Mediterranean and the tanker planes could help refuel French warplanes in the air. The satellite surveillance could provide important information on IS and also help protect civilians with precise information. The reconnaissance aircrafts will also support France in its fight against Islamist extremists. The decision still needs parliamentary approval, but it was expected to not meet much resistance by lawmakers.

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Hollande, on Moscow Visit, Calls for
Broad Anti-ISIS Coalition
Guest Report

Tampa Bay Times

Source: Washington Post
November 26, 2015

MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin late Thursday said he was ready to coordinate strikes against the Islamic State with the United States and its allies. After talks with French President François Hollande at the Kremlin, Putin said, “We are ready to cooperate with the coalition which is led by the United States.” It was the most forthright commitment to a joint effort between Russia and the West since Moscow’s seizure of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

But it was far from the declaration of a new grand coalition in Syria, potentially under United Nations auspices rather than American leadership, that Putin has proposed. The deep disagreement between Russia and the West over the future of the embattled Syrian president, Bashar Assad, has not been put aside.

Hollande said France was ready to fight alongside Russia but added, “Of course, Assad cannot play any role in the future of this country.” Since Russia intervened in Syria two months ago, Moscow and Washington have agreed on measures to “de-conflict” their aerial operations there. But as each country pounds its targets in Syria, they have not worked in tandem in any way.

Hollande arrived in Moscow after meeting with President Barack Obama earlier this week. The terrorist attacks in Paris on Nov. 13 have led France to step up its operations in Syria and to seek some sort of workable agreement among the foreign powers involved there. The idea has not been warmly embraced by the United States, which has accused Russia of targeting Assad’s foes among the American-backed rebels, rather than the Islamic State, also known as ISIS. Hollande said that he and Putin had agreed “to only carry out strikes against terrorists, only against ISIS, and only against jihadist groups.”

“It is important not to strike those groups who are also fighting against terrorists,” he said.

Putin has long argued that the Western powers, Russia and China all face a common Islamist threat, and he has made it clear that he resents what he sees as relative Western indifference to attacks on Russia. He also has suggested that the United States has been negligent in taking the Islamist threat seriously enough.

The Paris attacks occurred shortly after a bomb brought down a Russian airliner on its way from Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh resort to St. Petersburg, killing all 224 aboard. On Thursday, Putin and Hollande commiserated over the those attacks. The occasion gave Putin an opportunity to reiterate his argument about the common threat and about the need for the major powers to act in concert.

Putin has emphasized the fight against global terrorism as a means to repair, or at least re-establish, a meaningful partnership with the West. “Our positions are the same,” Putin told Hollande before they began their private talks. “That forces us to join our forces in fighting terrorists. We are prepared to work with you, Mr. President.”

Hollande said, “I am in Moscow with you to figure out how we can act together in order to coordinate our actions to hit this terrorist group and look for political solutions for Syria.” Putin also said that he and Hollande had agreed on “how we will cooperate in the near future, on a bilateral basis and with, as a whole, the coalition led by the United States.” That would include where to launch strikes, Putin said.

In London, British Prime Minister David Cameron on Thursday argued the case for extending Britain’s airstrikes targeting ISIS to Syria, telling Parliament that the group posed a “fundamental threat” to the security of Britain and that the United Kingdom should not “wait until an attack takes place here.” He added that British police and security services have foiled seven plots over the past year either linked to ISIS or inspired by its propaganda. Cameron told Parliament that if Britain won’t act “when our friend and ally France has been struck in this way, then our allies in the world can be forgiven for asking: If not now, when?”

With two suspects of the Paris attacks at large, tensions were still high in Belgium on Thursday in the capital, Brussels. But authorities lowered the threat level in Brussels to the second-highest level.

Since Saturday morning, Brussels — home to the European Union and NATO headquarters — had been wary of a threat that was considered “serious and imminent.” The lowering of the threat level came as a surprise, since the government had said that it would likely keep the highest threat level in the capital through the weekend. Authorities launched a raid in southern Belgium on Thursday afternoon linked to the Paris attacks, but didn’t detain any suspects.

In Brussels, a civil protection squad decontaminated several people as a precaution at the main mosque after a suspicious parcel arrived. The person who opened the package discovered white powder and immediately contacted authorities. A specialized crew from the fire department was sent, witnesses at the scene said.

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Cabinet decided in the wake of the Paris attacks to send reconnaissance aircraft, tanker planes and a warship to help in the fight against ISIS. Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen told reporters that the government had also agreed to provide satellite surveillance. During Merkel’s visit in Paris on Wednesday, Hollande had said it would “be a very good signal in the fight against terrorism” if Germany could do more against IS in Syria and Iraq.

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