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Syria Press Review
Damascus attacks: Western press backs off from conspiracy theory 18 March 2012
The new attacks are covered in a manner very different from the previous ones. The Atlanticist press which had ascribed the earlier attacks in Damascus and Aleppo to the Syrian secret service has backtracked from this conspiracy theory since Ayman Al-Zawahiri claimed responsibility in the name of Al-Qaeda. This time it is exercising more restraint, refraining from parroting the routine accusations emanating from the Syrian National Council against the intelligence services.
The report presented by Kofi Annan to the Security Council behind closed doors gave rise to various comments, with everyone in the West believing that he complained about President al-Assad’s lack of good will. However, the Atlanticist media hints at a possible crisis exit under the auspices of Russia: The Syrian Government would cease the crackdown while the West would drop its demands for al-Assad’s departure. On closer scrutiny, if adopted, this approach would amount to a total defeat for NATO and the GCC. In (...)
 
« SYRIA PRESS REVIEW » #62
France ready to support regional war
France ready to support regional war 17 March 2012
The fake e-mails by the al-Assad couple released by the Guardian were startling in their naivete; everyone was thus looking forward to further developments. Consider it done: The Daily Telegraph asserts that the online shopping attributed to Asma al-Assad violates the unilateral sanctions of the European Union and is liable to two years in prison. In addition, after the Guardian’s commitment not to reveal the private e-mails, the Daily Telegraph published details of an alleged extramarital affair by President al-Assad to shatter the image of an ideal couple.
This propaganda operation is mainly orchestrated to hide what is currently happening. The Turkish Army contemplates penetrating into Syrian territory to secure a rebel base on the pretext of protecting civilians. NATO is repeating here with it did in Kosovo in terms of violating international law, but without taking center stage. This new war could find some semblance of international legitimacy if it were to garner the (...)
 
« SYRIA PRESS REVIEW » #61
The Assad e-mails
The Assad e-mails 16 March 2012
The first anniversary of the "Syrian Revolution" was the occasion to double the dose of communication.
On the Government’s side, huge demonstrations were organized in all major cities. They drew large crowds, underscoring a super-majority support. It was an opportunity for those in power to signify that, even if there are armed groups around the country (primarily on the North Lebanese and Turkish borders), they have won the military and diplomatic victory.
In the NATO camp, the balance sheet for the year ended has been relegated to the sideline in favor of the media uproar over the 3000 e-mails attributed to the couple al-Assad couple. These documents were handed to the Guardian, which did not detected any apparent error and decided to publish 34 of them. In light of these, the European press portrays the presidential couple as two lovebirds totally disconnected from reality, and handled covertly by Iranian advisers.
This is the message that ABC had already tried to put over (...)
 
« SYRIA PRESS REVIEW » #59
Negotiating peace or al-Assad’s departure?
Negotiating peace or al-Assad's departure? 11 March 2012
The diplomatic efforts of U.N.-Arab League Special Envoy Kofi Annan, on the one hand, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, on the other hand, are running into the blatant bad faith of Qatar, France and their protégés.
Mr. Annan could not initiate mediation between the Syrian National Council and the Syrian presidency because the SNC demands that President Bashar al-Assad’s should first resign and be replaced by his Vice President. In any event, Kofi Annan was able to meet and speak at length with President al-Assad. The president laid emphasis on the fact that no effort will be successful as long as armed groups continue to foment chaos in the country. On his part, he declared himself open to any constructive proposal. According to the Gulf-based press, Kofi Annan has suffered a setback since he failed to convince al-Assad to resign, but that goal is not part of his mandate.
Lavrov met with his counterparts from the Arab League in Cairo. They agreed on five general (...)
 
« SYRIA PRESS REVIEW » #58
CNS rejects UN and Arab League mediation
CNS rejects UN and Arab League mediation 10 March 2012
After the resignation of a senior official from the Oil Ministry, it is the mass resignation and flight to Turkey of a group of brigadier generals which captivates the attention of the Atlanticist and Gulf press. The decomposition of the system would thus appear to be confirmed. Alas! No one can give the names of the generals and no senior officer has arrived in Turkey.
Once again the hubbub is designed to boost the patience of Western public opinion, but discredits those who were predicting the imminent fall of the Syrian regime...like a ripe fruit.
On the diplomatic front, the head of UN humanitarian operations, Valerie Amos, struck an early agreement with the Syrian government. Russia announced that it rejected the latest draft resolution tabled by the West at the Security Council, for the same reasons as the previous one. China sent a special envoy to meet with various stakeholders, which irritated Paris. UN and Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan started his round of (...)
 
« SYRIA PRESS REVIEW » #57
An inconsequential resignation
An inconsequential resignation 9 March 2012
The Atlanticist and, to a lesser extent, the Gulf media seized on the resignation of Abdo Hussameddin, presented as the first defection from within the Syrian government. This turnaround is perceived as the first fissure at the top levels of what appeared to be a monolithic regime.
The press, however, fails to provide any background details about the individual. Indeed, he was not in a position of political responsibility, but a senior civilian official of the oil ministry. Hence, the conjecture that the regime is crumbling doesn’t hold water.
The head of UN humanitarian operations, Valerie Amos, condemned the devastation in Baba Amr and expressed concern about the fate of its former inhabitants. Although the international press pointed out that the neighborhood had been evacuated before the major combats took place, she nevertheless claimed a few days ago that thousands of people were trapped under the bombs.
Visiting Tunisia, Turkish President Abdullah Gul has for the first (...)
 
« SYRIA PRESS REVIEW » #55
Pentagon confirms its disengagement
Pentagon confirms its disengagement 20 February 2012
U.S. military leaders are regurgitating statements to justify their withdrawal from the Syrian crisis. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, keeps repeating to Congress and the press that, since most of the major powers are already engaged in the theater of operations, it is impossible to tell which group of rebels would benefit from U.S. assistance. Used essentially as a face-saving tactic following the double veto by Russia and China, this argument is nonetheless true.
Be that as it may, the State Department and Israeli politicians are opposed to this approach.
To counteract it, on the threshold of the "Friends of Syria" conference in Tunis, researchers at the Washington Institute (the AIPAC think tank) have drawn an analogy with the Bosnian war where the United States was eventually drawn in against its will. They support the creation of a force mandated by the United Nations, commanded by a Turkish Muslim general, and coordinated by (...)
 
NATO backs off while London and Paris still scheming 19 February 2012
Anders Fogh Rasmussen told Reuters that NATO will not intervene in Syria, even if the UN Security Council were to change its mind and give him the green light. In doing so, the Secretary General of NATO feigns to walk away from war not because of the double veto by Russia and China, but due to technical obstacles.
Nicolas Sarkozy and David Cameron have signed new treaties in Paris to strengthen their countries’ mutual defense. The date of the ceremony was officially chosen to commemorate the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi in Benghazi. But, in reality, it marked the fulfillment of the Lancaster House Treaty, which included a secret annex with the plan for the Benghazi uprising and regime change in Libya. Therefore, it is legitimate to ask whether the Paris summit may not also have involved the signing of a secret annex, planning for the overthrow of the Syrian regime. The final communiqué of the meeting smacks of Franco-British machinations.
The Western news agencies reported a (...)
 
Washington admits Bashar al-Assad's ouster not on the cards 17 February 2012
After hearing the terrifying report by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN General Assembly condemned the repression in Syria by 137 votes in favor, 12 against and 17 abstentions.
After Homs and Hama, the Syrian Army has taken back Deraa. The survivors of the Wahhabi Legion have regrouped in the north. It is to soon to tell whether they will flee to Turkey or launch a final battle in Idlib.
The Director of US Intelligence, James Clapper, has attributed the attacks in Damascus and Aleppo to al-Qaeda. On his part, the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Ronald Burgess, stated that the Assad regime will not fall because it is cohesive and has regained control of the large cities it had lost, while his opposition is disunited and without a strategy.
The Chinese Vice Foreign Minister, Zhai Jun, intends to continue to play a mediation role in the crisis. He traveled to Damascus to meet President al-Assad after Syrian opponents were received in (...)
 
« SYRIA PRESS REVIEW » #52
Syria indicted before UN General Assembly
Syria indicted before UN General Assembly 16 February 2012
The United Nations General Assembly, presided by Qatar, held a special session on the Syrian situation. The High Commissioner for Human Rights, South African lawyer Navi Pillay, presented a chilling report on the abuses attributed to the al-Assad administration, with particular emphasis on rape (when she chaired the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Ms Pillay had developed a case law equating "mass rape" to a "genocide"). She deduced that the discord at the Security Council encouraged the repression.
The Syrian government announced the holding of a referendum on the new draft constitution on 26 February. If passed, it would end the leadership of the Baath party and introduce a multiparty system. The White House described the project as "laughable."
Finally, in Cairo, the Great Imam Ahmed El-Tayeb called for strong action on the part of the Arab League, which has formalized its intention to arm the Syrian (...)
 
« SYRIA PRESS REVIEW » #51
Foreign instructors leave, Al Qaeda arrives
Foreign instructors leave, Al Qaeda arrives 15 February 2012
The new Western discourse coincides with the withdrawal of many foreign instructors, as witnessed in the field, and with the statements of Ayman al-Zawahari (the Egyptian leader of Al-Qaeda since the official demise of Osama bin Laden) announcing the arrival of his fighters. In fact, Al-Qaeda is already on the ground inside Syria, where the Libyan Abdel Hakim Belhaj (the organization’s number-two man) has been seen supervising the "Free" Syrian Army. This charade is intended to cloak NATO’s strategy switch from a low intensity war to subcontracting terrorist actions as required.
The Arab League wants a United Nations peacekeeping force in Syria, without specifying between which factions they would be mediating and on what line of demarcation. Immediately rejected by Syria since encroaching on its sovereignty, the proposal provided Westerners with the awaited opportunity of harping on the impossibility of a military solution; a discourse in total contradiction with the one they held (...)
 
« SYRIA PRESS REVIEW » #50
Al-Qaeda strikes in Aleppo
Al-Qaeda strikes in Aleppo 13 February 2012
In reporting the Aleppo attacks, the international press has consecrated four times less space than usual. This can be interpreted in two ways: Either the public is getting weary of the rampant Iraqization of Syria or the press is baffled by the responsibility claims. The attacks of Aleppo were in fact first claimed by a spokesman for the Free Syrian Army, then condemned by another. Simultaneously, an American intelligence report attributed them to Al-Qaeda, a claim confirmed in a statement by Ayman al-Zawahiri, current leader of the organization.
Be that as it may, no media has bothered to rectify its previous articles pinning the responsibility for identical attacks in Damascus on the Al-Assad administration; certain newspapers have even picked up the accusations of the Syrian National Council which blames the Aleppo attacks on the Syrian government, without the slightest shred of (...)
 
Faced with competition from the SCO, will NATO choose diplomacy or arms? 10 February 2012
While the likelihood of a conventional war against Syria has been swept aside by the Russian and Chinese double veto, Westerners have been left with no alternative plan. Above all, they do not know how to handle the conflict pitting them against the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO): Should they use diplomacy, or are they in a position to start a proxy war?
The answer to this question depends on the acceptance or denial of the decline of the U.S. empire. The war party is considering a form of low intensity conflict with militant groups operating from bases in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. Realists will not fail to point out that in such a case the war will spill beyond these three states and fatally engulf Israel.
In the absence of a defined strategy, each side is trying to consolidate its positions. The Syrian National Council is heading to Qatar in the hope of being recognized by the Gulf States as the sole representative of the Syrian people instead of the Syrian Arab (...)
 
« SYRIA PRESS REVIEW » #48
Westerners looking for a "Plan B"
Westerners looking for a "Plan B" 9 February 2012
At the forefront of the international stage, Turkey has called for the creation of a group of "Friends of Democratic Syria," modeled on the "Contact Group for Libya," while the Italian press ruminates over the possibilities of NATO indirect intervention. However, if such action were to take place, it would violate international law in the wake of the double veto Russia and China, and will therefore probably be discussed in secret.
Behind the scenes, there is another activity going on. The Russian delegation to Damascus has underwritten a secret agreement between several actors. According to our sources, the release of a certain number of Turkish prisoners of war and Iranian civilian hostages has been obtained. In return, Turkey would refrain from intervening in Syria and Iran would stop supporting rebel groups in Turkey.
The war plan against Syria having been frustrated, the West is seeking an alternative strategy. But already, some states have pulled out of the (...)
 
 
 
« SYRIA PRESS REVIEW » #44
Moral pressure heaped on Russia
Moral pressure heaped on Russia 5 February 2012
The meeting of the Security Council was preceded by a powerful media campaign to discourage Russia from backing Syria. It revolves around two themes:
The regime tortures children, claims Human Rights Watch (HRW);
The regime is responsible for the "horrible massacre", the term used to designate the assassination of over 200 people in Homs.
The HRW report does not name victims. It does not point to a motive for the torture it relates. It alleges that the torturers forced their victims to recant their faith and love Bashar al-Assad, an allusion to a takfirist literary classic which accuses the Alawites of not being Muslims. It does not refer to torture centers as being in specific buildings, but on certain government premises where torture had actually been practiced in the years 70-80, that is to say at the time of the dictatorship.
The victims are people from Homs, both civilians and military, who were abducted by armed political or mafia groups, and subsequently executed. On (...)
 
« SYRIA PRESS REVIEW » #43
It is urgent to wait
It is urgent to wait 3 February 2012
The Western and Gulf press stays the course that the White House has set since the confrontation that pitted NATO members to China and Russia at the Security Council. Everyone awaited the next meeting while arranging a way out. Contrary to the usual practice, when the White House Office of Global Communications tries to develop a consensus around a background briefing, columnists draw their personal conclusions which they must then demonstrate.
The tone is set by an editorial authored by conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post, widely disseminated by the US press as well as in European and Gulf newspapers. After comparing the repercussions of the possible fall of Bashar al-Assad to those of the Berlin Wall - the first paving the way for the end of Iran, just like the second which had sealed the fate of the USSR - and holding a bellicose discourse, the author advocates ... for strengthening sanctions. Great victories come to those who are capable of (...)
 
« SYRIA PRESS REVIEW » #42
NATO runs up against Russia and China
NATO runs up against Russia and China 2 February 2012
Westerners and Gulf monarchs were shocked by the rebuff at the hands of Russia and China at the Security Council. Their bitterness comes out in two forms: first, the media lament the division between major powers when "the massacres are still continuing"; on the other hand, they accuse Moscow of prioritizing its strategic and commercial interests over human rights. All are silent on Beijing’s stance - yet just as unequivocal as Moscow’s - which they cannot pin on any vested interests.
Some commentators are drumming up arguments to convince Russia and China to change their position. However, their editorials are more likely to have been designed to prove to Western readers that everything has been tried in vain. Indeed, the arguments given can only be ill perceived by their recipients, who are accused of lacking principles when it is precisely on behalf of their principles that Russia and China cast a veto.
In the final analysis, everything suggests that after having considered (...)
 
« SYRIA PRESS REVIEW » #40
The imaginary flight of the Assad family
The imaginary flight of the Assad family 31 January 2012
The Western and Gulf press reports of heavy fighting on the outskirts of Damascus. With maps to prove it, it claims that the revolutionaries are about to take the capital. The wife and children of President al-Assad were supposedly intercepted on their way to the airport attempting to escape and were forced to turn back. The fate of the tyrant’s family will soon resemble that of the Gaddafi’s, said Haitham Maleh, a leader of the pro-Western opposition.
In reality, the fighting took place in the outlying areas of the capital, no major armed group having penetrated the suburbs of Damascus. The airport road was never shut down and the al-Assads were never on it. This legend is meant to trigger a campaign against Syria exploiting the high esteem enjoyed by Asma al-Assad in Europe, particularly in Italy and France. Thus, Haitham Maleh asserted on BaradaTV (television channel based in London and funded by the CIA) that the beautiful young woman, a Sunni native of Homs, was a prisoner of (...)
 
« SYRIA PRESS REVIEW » #39
Press sees rebels at Damascus gates
Press sees rebels at Damascus gates 30 January 2012
The Western and Gulf press, which had until now slammed the Free Syrian Army for its weakness, is suddenly claiming that it is about to take Damascus. President al-Assad was supposedly forced to deploy troops in the capital to save his regime, while heavy fighting is raging in the suburbs.
This fable aims both to validate the idea that armed groups are composed of many deserters (and not primarily Wahhabi mercenaries), and that the disturbances have finally reached the capital. Above all, it serves to divert the public’s attention a while longer from the contents of the Arab League report. Indeed, this document debunks the Western theory of a brutally quelled popular uprising.
Such propaganda efforts are meant to prepare public opinion for the next meeting of the Security Council to be attended by the French and UK foreign ministers, who were successful in legalizing the NATO intervention in (...)
 
« SYRIA PRESS REVIEW » #38
The GCC and Turkey turn to NATO
The GCC and Turkey turn to NATO 29 January 2012
The Security Council met Friday night at the request of the Arab League to examine the conclusions to be drawn from the observer mission report. However, the text of the report not having been distributed by the League, the session focused on a draft resolution tabled by Morocco, but written by the Europeans. It was turned down by Russia.
Saturday, the Foreign Ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council met in Istanbul with their Turkish counterpart to weigh the possible diplomatic recognition of the Syrian National Council to be followed by an Arab and Turkish military intervention. Sunday evening, the Secretary General of Gulf Cooperation Council, Abdul Latif Al-Zayani, arrived in Brussels to meet with his NATO counterpart, Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
The Syrian army continued its operations to liberate the cities still in the hands of the Wahhabi Legion.
The Arab League secretary-general decided on his own initiative to freeze the observer mission (recently renewed for one month by (...)
 
The "Syrian revolution" no longer fires Western imagination 27 January 2012
The unanimity that prevailed in the Western and Gulf press during the last ten months is now crumbling. Even if certain major newspapers have painted the operation of the Syrian army to liberate the cities occupied by the Wahhabi Legion as a form of political repression against unarmed civilians, others are putting up an increasing number of red flags: the photos of civilians demonstrating against President al-Assad have given way to images of masked gunmen, while reports have insistently focused on faith or mafia-related abuses rather than on political protest.
Both the Western and Gulf media continue to reflect the position of their governments, but with more aloofness: the romantic image of the "Syrian revolution" has dissipated. The last remaining subterfuge to try and convince readers is to portray the "rebels" as "insurgents," claiming they are all Syrian army deserters instead of mostly foreign mercenaries of the Wahhabi Legion, often emanating from al-Qaida ranks.
All (...)
 
« SYRIA PRESS REVIEW » #36
Syrian army liberates Douma and Hama
Syrian army liberates Douma and Hama 26 January 2012
During his press conference, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem emphasized that the Arab League Observer Mission report acknowledges that it is the obligation of the Syrian government to ensure the safety of its people. Without further delay, the regular army liberated the cities of Hama and Duma, partially occupied by the Wahhabi legion. There are still some neighborhoods in both cities and a large rural area that remain in the hands of foreign armed forces.
However, according to the international press - which chose to turn a blind eye to the content of the observers’ report - the Syrian security forces continued their brutal crackdown on peaceful demonstrations in both cities. Based on this version, the Gulf Cooperation Council - which comprises not only the Arab Gulf States, but also all the Arab monarchies - has decided to seize the Security Council of the matter to compensate for the League’s failings and legalize military (...)
 
Western press sidesteps content of Arab League Observer Mission report 25 January 2012
The international media sees the press conference of Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem as the validation of their remarks yesterday regarding the decisions of the Arab League’s Ad Hoc Ministerial Committee (extension of the observer mission and proposal of a roadmap) and their partial rejection by Damascus.
None, however, has informed its readers about the actual content of the AL Observer Mission report, which explicitly denies there has ever been a bloody crackdown on peaceful demonstrations. Following in the footsteps of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, they all continue to relay the fabrications of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights without ever questioning its legitimacy, its methodology or credibility. Consequently, the media misconstrued the words of Mr. Moallem - that the Syrian state will discharge its responsibilities for protecting the population against armed groups - as the announcement of an escalation of political (...)
 
« SYRIA PRESS REVIEW » #34
Russia to Sell 36 Yak-130 jets to Syria
Russia to Sell 36 Yak-130 jets to Syria 24 January 2012
The Western press is tabbing the Roadmap adopted by the Arab League Ad Hoc Ministerial Committee as the consensual solution to the Syrian crisis. In doing so, it glosses over the claims it has made for the past ten months: it is no longer viable to replace a dictatorship with a democracy, but only to obtain the departure of the Alawite President and replace him with a Sunni figure. Does this imply that Syria’s opponents would be satisfied with a symbolic victory and continue their plan to destroy the country by attempting a new maneuver to provoke a sectarian conflict?
Beyond this change in rhetoric, the pivotal strategic issue revolves around Russia’s position. Part of the press echoes a remark, attributed to a spokesman of President Medvedev, that Moscow will not support President al-Assad much further. However, the Reuters dispatch was denied as soon as it surfaced in newspapers. Another section of the press highlights instead the sale of 36 Yakovlev 130 jets to Syria for $ 550 (...)
 
« SYRIA PRESS REVIEW » #33
Media confusion around the Arab League meeting
Media confusion around the Arab League meeting 23 January 2012
The observer mission submitted its report to the Arab League. After five hours of debate, the Ad Hoc Ministerial Council extended the mission by one month within the framework of its first plan, while adopting a second one.
These events have given rise to contrasting interpretations.
The contents of the report have generally been ignored; this is because it endorses the version of the Syrian government and undermines that of the opposition. In particular, it certifies that a lethal crackdown of peaceful demonstrations never took place and that the commitments made by Damascus have been scrupulously observed (release of more than 7000 prisoners, withdrawal of troops from major cities, etc.). It further confirms the fact that armed groups are destabilizing the country.
The Ad Hoc Ministerial Committee is often portrayed as the Arab League’s executive body when, in fact, it is an Arab Plan follow-up organism consisting of 5 States out of 22 (Algeria, Egypt, Oman, Qatar, Sudan). (...)
 
The pro-Western opposition rejects Arab League report before it's out 22 January 2012
The Syrian National Council (pro-Western) continues to press for the Arab League to refer the case of Syria to the UN Security Council. However, the AL observers’ report is likely to fly in the face of the Atlanticist version of events and validate that of the Assad government. Hence the Syrian National Council’s announcement that it was preparing a counter report that the Arab League could use instead of the official document to seize the Security Council pushing for an international military intervention.
Le Figaro sparked the complete reversal of the French press. The latter no longer accuses the Assad administration of ensnaring French journalist Gilles Jacquier in order to assassinate him, but acknowledges that he fell victim to a "blunder of the insurgents." This interpretation is no more substantiated than the previous one and only reflects the about-face of the Sarkozy administration. Nervous about the revelations exposing Mr. Jacquier’s close ties with French military (...)
 
« SYRIA PRESS REVIEW » #31
Arab League report delayed
Arab League report delayed 20 January 2012
The press is waiting for the Arab League to release the report of its observers. Each power has its own angle: Qatar, Turkey and France hope the document will be damning and that it will be submitted to the Security Council for its authorization in view of a military intervention. On the contrary, China recommends an extension of the observer mission, while Russia has already indicated it would oppose any Security Council resolution imposing sanctions, verily authorizing the war.
In the military arena, the Syrian national army abandoned the town of Zabadani (near Lebanon) to the rebels.
For the first time in a long time, no particular message can be gleaned from this press review. However, it is far too early to conclude that the White House press service has turned the page on this issue.
The French press (weeklies and television) dedicates its columns largely to the death of Gilles Jacquier. Journalists who were in the same team as him accuse the Syrian government and attack (...)
 
Moscow marks the end of the "humanitarian" illusion in Syria 19 January 2012
The press conference of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, taking stock of Russian diplomacy in 2011, was an occasion to issue a reminder about international law. Regarding Syria, the Minister reiterated that Moscow would not allow the Security Council to legalize an aggression, or even sanctions, and would continue to trade with Damascus. For his part, the spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry, Liu Weimin, pledged support for the Arab League observers, noting that their presence is beneficial.
If Russia’s firmness has been reported by the Vatican and German press in positive terms, it has been totally misconstrued by the rest of the European press that continues to beat the drums of war by evoking a "humanitarian emergency", and prefers to focus on the new sanctions decreed unilaterally by the (...)
 
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