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banUN chief Ban Ki-moon has said there are no confirmed reports that Damascus is preparing to use chemical weapons in the ongoing Syrian conflict. The statement comes amid speculation that loyalist forces are loading deadly nerve gas into aerial bombs.

­”Recently we have been receiving alarming news that the Syrian government may be preparing to use chemical weapons. We have no confirmed reports on this matter,” Secretary-General Ban said while visiting Syrian refugee camps in Turkey on Friday, as Haaretz daily quotes him.

Ban stressed it would nevertheless be an “outrageous crime” with wide-reaching consequences if the Syrian government used chemical weapons against civilians.

This week, NBC reported that the Syrian military has loaded the deadly nerve gas Sarin into aerial bombs, which could then be dropped on rebels from Mig-23 or Sukhoi-24 aircraft.

ABC News also quoted unnamed American officials as saying that so far, the bombs have not been loaded onto planes. Over the last 48 hours, no major movement has been reported at Syria’s chemical weapons sites.

The news prompted comments from Washington, with US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton reiterating that the use of chemical weapons would be crossing “a red line.”

Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile became a topic of international concern this past July. Syria is reportedly in possession of nerve agents, including mustard gas, as well as the Scud missiles needed to deliver them. The country is one of six states that have not signed the Chemical Weapons Convention, which outlaws their production.

Since July, President Bashar Assad’s government has repeatedly stated that chemical weapons will not be used on Syria, but he also has not excluded the possibility they might be deployed in the event of “a foreign attack.”

Both Moscow and Washington condemned the possible use of chemical weapons.

The proliferation or use of chemical weapons is “unacceptable” to Russia, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said on numerous occasions. Moscow has been pressing Damascus for regular guarantees its chemical weapons stockpiles have not been moved, are properly guarded and will not be used in any conflict.

US President Barack Obama has also warned Assad that if he makes “the tragic mistake of using these weapons, there will be consequences” and he “will be held accountable.”

Washington is worried that Syria’s chemical weapons might fall into the hands of the Syrian rebels, some of whom have links to Al-Qaeda, Secretary of State Clinton said.

Our concerns are that an increasingly desperate Assad regime might turn to chemical weapons or might lose control of them to one of the many groups that are operating within Syria,” Clinton told reporters on Wednesday.

But critics say, Washington’s continuous claims of Syrian preparations of chemical weapons are based on strategy, not real concerns. The situation in Syria is akin to the war in Iraq, Ibrahim Alloush of the Zaytouneh University in Jordan told RT.

“The purpose of drumming up these allegations about Syrians attempting or pondering the usage of chemical weapons is either to justify a military intervention directly in Syria, or to justify arming the rebels with qualitatively better weaponry, especially anti-aircraft missiles. Or, if things came to a political settlement, to impose the presence of international monitors, which should be in the best interests of Israel,” Alloush said.

The recognition of the Syrian opposition as the sole legitimate voice of the Syrian people is another “blatant” attempt on behalf of Western powers to further destabilize the Syrian government, Alloush told RT. The consequences of the Assad government’s dissolution could be dire, he added.

“The US and the NATO are trying to circumvent the legitimate process that has to take place through international law. They’re trying to bring about the change within Syria like they did in Iraq, or Libya, by undermining the legitimate government and bringing about chaos, fragmentation, bloodshed, civil war instead. It would be another Iraq – but on a larger regional scale,” he warned.

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serb-studentSeveral thousand students of the Belgrade University and faculties in other Serbian cities have protested in front of the National Assembly because of Hague Tirbunal’s acquittals of Croatian generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac, as well former commander of terrorist KLA Ramush Haradinaj.

The students have handed over to Assembly Speaker Nebojsa Stefanovic the petition that asks for the extraordinary parliament session to pass a resolution on the verdicts in the Tribunal, also that all working bodies be more involved in improving Serbs’ position and rights in the that court and countries of the region. They have also asked for the support to the families of Hague indictees and more intensive engagement of the competent state bodies in gathering evidence against perpetrators of crimes against Serbs in the territory of the former Yugoslavia.

Some of the banners carried during the protest read: “Hague court, how long?”, Judges should try by law, not by orders”, “Everybody is innocent until proven Serb”.

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The UN General Assembly has voted to upgrade Palestinians’ diplomatic status to a “non-member observer state,” thus implicitly recognizing a Palestinian state. This comes despite strong opposition from the US and Israel.

The Palestinian bid has been upheld with 138 votes in favor, 9 against and 41 abstentions.

Addressing the General Assembly on Thursday Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the historic vote was the last chance to save the two-state solution. He also told the meeting that it “is being asked today to issue the birth certificate of Palestine.”

In his speech Abbas mentioned Israel’s deadly assault on Gaza that took place this month and stressed that the Palestinians would accept “no less than the independence of the state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

The Israeli government has described Abbas’s speech, which was met with a standing ovation at the General Assembly, as “defamatory and venomous.””The world watched a defamatory and venomous speech that was full of mendacious propaganda against the IDF (army) and the citizens of Israel,” the Israeli PM’s office said in a statement.

Israeli UN ambassador, Ron Prosor, warned the General Assembly that “the Palestinians are turning their backs on peace.”

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The removal of President Bashar al-Assad from power will do nothing to end the 19-month civil war in Syria but will only escalate the violence, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday.

“It is like daydreaming to speculate on the subject, to the effect that if the [Syrian] government is overthrown everything will fall into place,” Lavrov said after a meeting with his French counterpart Laurent Fabius.

“If this is a priority for somebody, bloodshed will continue, and for quite a while, too.”

“Assad’s fate should be decided by the Syrian people,” he added.

There is no military solution to the Syrian conflict as mercenaries fighting on the side of the Syrian insurgents keep arriving in the country from neighboring states, the minister noted.

Lavrov said on Monday Moscow was disappointed by the failure of a United Nations-brokered ceasefire, but there was little sense in blaming either side.

Western powers have condemned both Russia and China for their repeated refusal to back UN sanctions against Assad’s regime, which the United Nations has accused of complicity in the massacre of unarmed civilians. Russia says the UN resolutions contain a pro-rebel bias and that both sides are to blame for the continued fighting, which Syrian rights groups say has claimed up to 35,000 lives.

Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed earlier this year not to allow a repeat of last year’s “Libya scenario,” which saw the ouster and murder of  Muammar Gaddafi after a NATO military campaign.

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Prague, Czech Republic – During the promotion of a book by former U.S. secretary of State, Madeleine Albright at The new Luxor Palace of Books, there was a general turmoil when the activists of the “Friends of the Serbs in Kosovo” organization asked her to sign the posters and CDs with the photos of atrocities committed over Serbs.

This was followed by a fierce reaction of security, and this association activists were attacked both verbally and physically. M. Albright although she tried to feign indifference and calmness, jumped from her chair and started shouting at attendees to get out. One of the participants, and a member of the Association of Friends of Kosovo Serbs, Daniel Huba, when asked why they were here today, responds:

“From the position of the USA Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright pushed for the bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1999. when NATO planes bombed without a UN mandate. She also supported the jihad in Bosnia during 1992-1995, and the manipulation of the facts about Srebrenica, but also personally earned from privatization of Kosovo Telecommunications. She should therefore bear the consequences of her political decisions and acknowledge responsibility for the bloodshed, in which thousands of civilians were killed. “

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Caracas, October 18 2012 (Venezuelanalysis) – Venezuela’s permanent representative at the United Nations (UN) Jorge Valero has strongly criticised what he described as the “expansionist policies” of Israel and lambasted the international organization for not taking a stronger stance against Israel’s continued subjugation of the Palestinian people.

Speaking at the latest meeting of the UN Security Council last Monday, Valero expressed his “deep frustration with the council’s lack of action with regards to the political expansion of Israel, the occupying power, in Palestinian territories”.

The Venezuelan diplomat went on to state that he believes the Council’s passivity in relation to the conflict is a direct result of pressure from the United States government, which is one of the five permanent member countries at the UN Security Council to hold the “power of veto”.

“This lack of action, as everybody knows, is a product of the veto threat from the government of the United States and its closest allies,” he continued.

The Council’s meeting was called to discuss the current political climate in the Middle East and specifically Palestinian-Israel peace negotiations and the ongoing conflict in Syria.

The meeting was opened by the UN’s Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, who criticised the continued “violence” of the Israel-Palestine conflict and described the current peace talks as having reached a “stalemate”. Feltman also called on both sides to keep pursuing a “two-State solution”.

Yet Venezuelan representative Valero charged many of those present as hypocritical and stated that the Middle East was becomingly increasingly “volatile and violent, which is putting the whole world at risk”. He also condemned the governments of member countries who were turning a blind eye to the “evident threat to the peace and international security represented by the government of Israel”.

“This warmongering behaviour puts into doubt the institutional process of the United Nations, the United Nations’ Charter and international law,” he said.

The meeting of the Security Council was held just a few days before an Israeli court forced the Netanyahu administration to release the details of a government report into how many calories were needed by Palestinians in the Gaza strip to avoid malnutrition. The UN stated that if the report reflected a deliberate policy by the Israeli government to restrict food imports into Gaza then it would “go against humanitarian principles”.

Despite international involvement, talks aimed at resolving the Palestine-Israel conflict have stagnated over the past year, with the Israeli blockade of the Gaza strip continuing unabated.

Earlier this year the Palestinians launched a bid to be recognised as a “non-member observer state” at the UN after its bid for full statehood was quashed in 2011.

Whilst countries such as Venezuela have supported the move, the Palestinian’s second attempt has continued to face staunch opposition from both the US and the British governments, who warned earlier this week that there would be serious economic sanctions applied to the Palestinian Authority if the bid is pursued.

The upgrade in status would allow the Palestinians to participate in UN General Assembly debates, as well as give them greater influence in the peace negotiations with Israel.

Syria

During the meeting Valero also addressed the ongoing conflict in Syria and asserted that the Syrian rebels were receiving both financial support and arms from forces abroad. He also accused Washington of using a form of “state terrorism” to gain control over natural resources in the region and to forcefully remove democratically elected leaders.

“In this context, thousands of innocent civilians are dying and the destabilization of the Middle East is deepening,” he said.

The Venezuelan government has consistently stated that it supports a policy of non-intervention in Syria and continues to recognise the Assad administration as the legitimate government of the country.

At the beginning of October, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, reaffirmed his support for a negotiated solution to Syria’s internal conflict.

“We are defending the peace in Syria, world peace,” he commented at the time.

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The Russian leader did not hesitate to name who is responsible for sowing the seeds of disorder that is gripping many parts of the world, including in Syria.

“Our partners just can’t stop,” Putin said at a meeting with representatives of one of Russia’s regions. “They have already created chaos in many territories, and now they are continuing the same policy in other countries, including Syria.”

Commenting on the “Arab Spring” and the ongoing Syrian conflict, he said: “Our position is to help carry out changes for the better in all countries but not to try to force on them – especially by armed force – what we consider to be right.”

It is important to encourage developments from within, Putin stressed.

The Russian leader criticized the militant foreign policy of the West, arguing that Russia’s repeated warnings went unheeded.

“We did warn that prudent action was needed and that it would be wrong to try to achieve anything by force, otherwise chaos would ensue,” he said. “And what do we see today? Chaos prevails.”

Russia is concerned about developments in many regions, including Afghanistan, where heroin production and drug trafficking has hit Russia and Europe. In the Middle East the situation is hardly more inspiring, with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad struggling against an armed opposition, which is said to comprise of members of terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda.

The United States, which recently lost its Libyan Ambassador following a wave of anti-American violence, has not managed to avoid the consequences of its behavior. In a growing number of countries, leaders (Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, Saddam Hussein of Iraq and Slobodan Milosevich of Serbia, for example) who fell out of favor with the West have been eliminated one way or another.

The new tendency for ‘regime change,’ however, has not made these countries any safer. Indeed, in many cases the violence and chaos is worse now than it was before Western foreign intervention began.

To support his argument, Putin recommended Western leaders remember the lessons of history so as not to “destroy Carthage again” in their relations with weak countries.

“I would hate to see the events witnessed by mankind many centuries ago repeat themselves now,” he said. “The strong countries are trying to push their rules and their moral code on weak countries, without taking into account the history, traditions and religion of a particular country.”

The Russian leader then mentioned what he said was “the first case of ethnic cleansing known to mankind.”

“The Roman Empire not only seized and occupied Carthage, but also destroyed it completely, killed everyone and spilled salt so that nothing could grow there,” Putin noted.

Not only should the good things inherited from European culture be remembered, he added.

In his opinion, Russia “has always been advantageously different from other countries due to its formation as a multinational and multi-religious state.”

Orthodoxy has always been very tolerant, he noted.

“The super-task is that a representative of each, even the smallest ethnic group, if he lives in this territory and is a citizen of this country, must feel absolutely equal and understand that he and his children can fulfill their most ambitious plans and have no restrictions, no limitations,” he said.

The Russian state had never dictated its will on anyone or pushed its rules, he noted.

He stressed that what transpired during the Soviet period in Russian history could not be blamed solely on Russia because the “idea of world revolution was being forced on other territories.”

On the whole, “we have always respected all ethnic groups, peoples and religions inside the country and have tried to behave the same way on the international scene,” he stressed.

“The preservation of inter-religious peace” is extremely important for Russia, said Putin, who expressed his support in working with other countries to achieve this goal.

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