Got this by email written by a chap called Fauzi Hasim..rather interesting and does make sense of the senseless civil war which is destroying a once great country.
Pencerahan Konflik di Syria Fauzi Hasim Akademi Siasah Pertamanya, konflik di Syria bukan semudah Sunni vs Syiah. Ada sunni vs sunni juga. Bukan juga Bashar Assad vs ISIS semata-mata. Musuh sebenar Bashar ialah kebangkitan rakyat Syria sendiri. ISIS hanya penyibuk. Pihak yang terlibat: Ada 4 fraksi besar yg terlibat: 1. Kerajaan Bashar Assad, yg dibantu oleh Hizbullah, Iran, Russia, dan militia Syiah dari Iraq, Pakistan dan Afghanistan. 2. Free Syrian Army (FSA)/Jaishul Hurr, yg terdiri drp berpuluh2 kumpulan. Mereka kebanyakannya adalah bekas tentera Kerajaan Syria yg tidak mahu bersama Bashar. Juga orang awam Syria yg mengangkat senjata. Mereka mendapat sokongan dari Turki, Qatar & Saudi. Ada juga group tertentu di selatan Syria yg dekat dgn US. Ada yg Islamik, ada yg sekular, ada yg salafis. Berfahaman Sunni. Kerjasama antara kumpulan bersifat longgar. 3. Militia Kurdish yang di re-brand sbg SDF (Syrian Democratic Force). Mereka beroperasi di utara Syria(kawasan etnik Kurdish) dan berfahaman Sunni. Secara terang-terangan, mereka dibantu USA dari sudut dana & senjata. 4. ISIS - Mereka kebanyakannya jihadis luar yg masuk melalui Iraq. Berfahaman sunni tapi extreme. Sumber dana & senjatanya diragui. Sehinggalah Hillary Clinton terlepas cakap, "ISIS was created by US government". Kesilapan utama dlm melihat isu Syria ialah menganggap kumpulan 1( Bashar & sekutu) sedang berperang dgn kumpulan 4 (ISIS) semata-mata. Kronologi peristiwa: 1. Pada peringkat awal (2011) yg terjadi ialah kebangkitan rakyat Syria SECARA AMAN menentang kerajaan kuku besi Bashar Assad. Mereka mendapatkan inspirasi dari Arab Spring yang "berjaya" di bbrp negara Arab. 2. Kebangkitan ini dilawan dengan kekerasan oleh kerajaan. Rakyat yg turun berdemo dilawan dengan peluru hidup dan kereta kebal. 3. Sebahagian jenderal & pegawai tentera yg bersimpati kpd rakyat bertindak membelot dan mengangkat senjata melawan kerajaan. 4. Tertubuhnya pelbagai kumpulan bersenjata (FSA) yg dianggotai oleh bekas tentera & orang awam, yg sama2 mahu menjatuhkan kerajaan. 5. Dalam masa yg bersamaan, masuknya militia2 luar sama ada yg membantu Bashar ataupun melawannya. 6. Sekitar 2014, kerajaan Bashar semakin melemah. FSA sudah menguasai Kota Raqqah, Idlib, sebahagian besar Kota Aleppo, pinggir Damsyiq (Ghouta) dan majoriti kawasan pedalaman. 7. Namun kerajaan Bashar masih kebal kerana menguasai ruang udara melalui jet pejuang & helikopter yg tidak dimiliki FSA. 8. Turki secara terang-terangan mendesak pengunduran Bashar Assad dan dipulihkan demokrasi di Syria. 9. Turki mendesak diwujudkan "no fly zone" di Syria, agar jet pejuang & helikopter Bashar tidak lagi superior di udara. NATO menolak permohonan Turki, sedangkan "no fly zone " pernah dikuatkuasakan di Libya ketika menjatuhkan Gaddafi. Dari sini sudah dapat dilihat "permainan" US dan sekutunya. 10. Pada 2014, secara misteri muncullah ISIS yg datang dari Iraq. Mereka menawan kawasan yg SUDAH DIKUASAI FSA, dari Kota Albukamal hingga Raqqah. 11. Kemudian munculnya SDF yang berjuang utk mewujudkan Zon Kurdish sepanjang sempadan Turki- Syria. USA secara terang-terangan menyokong SDF dari segi dana & tentera. 12. FSA adalah pihak yg paling dirugikan dari kemunculan ISIS & SDF. Di lapangan, kawasan yg sudah diambil dari kerajaan Bashar sekarang "dicuri" pula oleh ISIS dan SDF. Di mata masyarakat antarabangsa, disangka FSA itu ialah ISIS juga, dengan imej extreme dan anti demokrasi. 13. Pada hujung 2015, Russia masuk bertempur secara rasmi. Jet tempur Russia menambah lagi "air superiority" yg sudah dimiliki Bashar. 14. FSA semakin lemah. Terpaksa melawan Bashar,Iran, Hizbullah, militia Shiah, Russia, ISIS, dan SDF sekaligus. Satu demi satu kawasan FSA jatuh. 15. November 2015, jet Rusia ditembak jatuh oleh jet Turki di sempadan Syria-Turki. Rusia menyalahkan Turki. Dalam keadaan kurang jelas, Erdogan mengatakan bahawa Turki ada hak untuk mempertahankan ruang udaranya. Hubungan diplomatik Turki - Rusia meretak. 16. July 2016, kudeta di Turki hampir berjaya menjatuhkan Erdogan. Salah seorang pemberontak yg ditahan ialah juruterbang jet Turki yg dulunya menembak jet Rusia. Komplot kudeta diatur dari dalam USA. Erdogan tersedar bahawa USA bukan sahabat yang boleh dipercayai. USA mahu menjatuhkan Bashar Assad di Syria dan Erdogan di Turki sekaligus. 17. Erdogan pun buat 'u-turn', dengan memulihkan hubungan dengan Rusia. Namun pendirian Erdogan terhadap Bashar masih sama, iaitu rejim Bashar mesti ditukar. Cuma Turki masih belum mampu mencari win-win solution yang boleh menguntungkan Turki & Rusia di Syria. Walau sudah berbaik dgn Turki, Rusia masih meneruskan kerjasama dgn Bashar & Iran atas kepentingan yg lebih strategik. 18. Ogos 2016, tentera Turki masuk ke Syria secara rasmi. Ini kerana SDF tajaan US makin pesat berkembang dan hampir merebut seluruh sempadan Syria-Turki. Namun tentera Turki "hanya boleh" menyerang kawasan ISIS utk mengelakkan pertempuran langsung dengan tentera Bashar (yg didokong Rusia) dan SDF (yg didokong US). 19. Disember 2016, timur Kota Aleppo yg dikuasai FSA sejak 2012 akhirnya ditawan tentera Bashar & sekutu. Ini sudah dijangkakan kerana tiadanya "no fly zone", tiada bantuan dari US, dan Turki yg terpaksa berhati2. Perlu diingat, punca utama kejatuhan Timur Aleppo ialah kerana dikepung oleh tentera Bashar, dan kewujudan "ISIS belt" dan "SDF pocket"yang memisahkan FSA dalam kota aleppo dengan FSA yang berada di sempadan Turki. Pendek kata, FSA dikepung oleh tentera Bashar, ISIS dan SDF sekaligus. 20. Kawasan Timur Aleppo dihuni 250 ribu penduduk yg rata-ratanya anti Bashar. Di sinilah kubu kuat FSA dan menjadi inspirasi penentangan terhadap Bashar di tempat2 lain. Pertempuran di sini dijoloki "mother of all battles" . Boleh dijangkakan apa yg akan dialami mereka apabila tentera Bashar berjaya menguasainya. 21. FSA masih menguasai kawasan yang agak luas di wilayah Idlib dan sempadan Turki. Pejuang FSA yang berundur dari Kota Aleppo meneruskan perjuangan mereka di sini. Peperangan masih jauh daripada berakhir. Kesimpulan: - Pertempuran awal ialah antara rakyat Syria dgn kerajaan Bashar. ISIS, SDF , Hizbullah dan militia Shiah adalah orang luar yang memburukkan keadaan. - Iran & Hizbullah membantu Bashar demi meluaskan pengaruh politik Shiah di Timur Tengah. Atas nama Shiah, militia Shiah dari Iraq, Pakistan dan Afghanistan pun datang berbondong-bondong. - Rusia membantu Bashar atas kepentingan di Timur Tengah, seperti pengkalan tentera di Tartus (Barat Syria). - USA tidak ikhlas untuk membantu rakyat Syria, kerana Syria yg tidak stabil adalah menguntungkan Israel. - USA memasang proksi di Syria seperti SDF (dan ISIS?) kerana menyedari FSA dan rakyat Syria tidak boleh diharap untuk menyokong US - Turki telah berbuat yg terbaik utk membantu rakyat Syria, dengan membantu jutaan pelarian Syria, mendesak dipulihkan kerajaan awam di Syria, hingga keselamatan Turki sendiri terancam (siri letupan bom oleh pihak Kurdish & ISIS) - Kelemahan FSA ialah tiadanya perpaduan sesama kumpulan, objektif perjuangan yang berlainan, kepimpinan yang lemah, kurang pengalaman berperang, dan dipermain-mainkan oleh USA. - Penyelesaian yang terbaik ialah semua tentera/kuasa asing keluar dari bumi Syria, Bashar Assad diturunkan, dan dikembalikan kerajaan awam/demokrasi di Syria. #AkademiSiasah
I agree with this:
Penyelesaian yang terbaik ialah semua tentera/kuasa asing keluar dari bumi Syria, Bashar Assad diturunkan, dan dikembalikan kerajaan awam/demokrasi di Syria.
The best resolution will be for all foreign troops to get the heck out of Syria, Bashar Assad to step down and democracy returned to Syria.
Written long ago in 2002, I think this writing by Profesor DiRaja Ungku Aziz Ungku Abdul Hamid still has relevance even today:
ARKIB : 03/02/2002 Tragedi pemikiran Melayu Oleh: PROFESOR DIRAJA UNGKU AZIZ
KALAU ditanya tentang minda orang Melayu kepada saya, saya rasa Melayu tidak sanggup berubah. Perspektif mereka terhad, tidak suka menyiasat dan mereka tidak mahu berfikir dengan mendalam.
Kalau kita tengok orang Melayu dalam cerita hikayat, Hikayat Raja-Raja Pasai misalnya, ia cukup menarik. Kita dapat menggambarkan bagaimana ekonominya dan strategi orang Melayu memerintah untuk berdepan dengan Majapahit.
Berdasarkan hikayat itu dan tradisi pantun Melayu, kita dapati orang Melayu ini mempunyai minda yang canggih. Tetapi yang jadi tragedi ialah orang Melayu tidak nampak ini semua kerana tiga pengaruh besar.
Pertama, dalam tahun 1920-an dan 1930-an, pihak penjajah British menolak apa yang datang daripada Melayu, termasuk pantun, sebagai folk art, menjadikan apa yang dihasilkan oleh Melayu sebagai second class.
Ketika itu, Melayu yang berharap untuk naik pangkat dan dapat kerja dengan kerajaan penjajah terpaksa ikut teori penjajah Inggeris. Ini semua membawa orang Melayu kepada perspektif jati diri yang salah.
Itu pengaruh penjajah.
Pada zaman ini, saya melihat sungguhpun banyak pemimpin Melayu bercakap tentang sains dan teknologi, orang Melayu pada umumnya tidak dapat menangkap pandangan itu.
Di Eropah, sejak zaman renaissance, mereka telah mempelajari kemajuan sains dengan pendekatan yang berbeza dengan Islam. Mereka sentiasa bertanya.
Malangnya, di Malaysia, dari bangku sekolah kita tidak galakkan budak-budak bertanya. Sampailah mereka di universiti, kita tidak galakkan mereka bertanya: Kenapa?
Di negara kita, pelajar tidak berani bertanya dan guru-guru pula tidak tahu menjawab. Budaya ini menunjukkan tidak wujudnya inquiry mind dalam masyarakat Melayu. Kita tidak ada sikap saintifik.
Sikap negatif inilah yang menyebabkan berleluasanya cerita orang kena tipu dengan bomoh. Yang saya hairan, graduan-graduan universiti pun kena tipu dengan bomoh.
Kalau pada kurun ke-18, terutama di England, orang selalu bertanya: Kalau betul ada hantu, mana hantu? Kita hendak pergi ke tempat hantu, kita nak pergi tengok hantu untuk lihat apa manifestasi hantu.
Pendekatan berani bertanya ini adalah sikap masyarakat dan tamadun yang berasaskan sains. Malangnya, kita tidak sedia dan berani bertanya, yang akhirnya menyebabkan kita tidak berani menghadapi cabaran.
Pemikiran Melayu ini sebahagiannya adalah sisa-sisa pengaruh penjajahan British. Ini bukan rahsia lagi.
Kita boleh membaca dokumen-dokumen itu di London. Menurut para pegawai Inggeris, orang Melayu ini kalau diberi terlalu banyak pendidikan dan kalau diajar ilmu sains, kelak mereka akan jadi seperti orang India di India. Mereka akan berdemonstrasi dan hendakkan kebebasan.
Jadi ajarlah dia cerita Pak Pandir sahaja, itu sikit, ini sikit. Orang Melayu tidak suka sains, dia suka agama, jadi ajarlah tentang agama. Dia suka dengan raja dia, ajar Melayu buat bakul.
Akibat dasar itu, tidak ada trouble makers. Trouble makers Melayu hanya timbul selepas Perang Dunia Kedua setelah kemasukan Jepun.
Telah ada banyak buku yang membincangkan tentang subjek bagaimana British berjaya mengamalkan dasar yang mengongkong minda Melayu.
Itu semasa penjajahan. Selepas kita merdeka, minda orang Melayu masih terkongkong kerana semua orang Melayu kemudiannya gila hendak kuasa dan hendak jadi kaya.
Ini adalah teori saya mengapa minda Melayu tidak berubah. Saya bertanggungjawab tentang pandangan ini.
Selepas merdeka, sesetengah orang Melayu yang ada kuasa, dia rasa dia boleh memerintah Malaysia sama bagus macam penjajah British.
Minda Melayu ini sentiasa ada sesuatu yang membendung dan mempengaruhi - daripada kesan-kesan kolonialisasi pada tahun-tahun 1930-an, pengaruh Indonesia yang tidak sesuai di sini pada tahun 1940-an dan 1950-an, kesan media massa, dan kemudiannya budaya wang dalam masyarakat Melayu pada dekad-dekad terakhir ini.
Sekarang ini semua orang Melayu hendak kaya.
Sebagai seorang pendidik universiti, saya percaya (tetapi saya tidak ada buktinya) kalau orang mendapat pendidikan, mereka akan lebih bebas dan berubah.
Contohnya pada akhir tahun 1970-an. Ketika Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad menjadi Menteri Perdagangan Antarabangsa dan Industri, Malaysia ketika itu dapat menarik banyak modal asing untuk membuka kilang mikrocip.
Kita dapat mewujudkan peluang pekerjaan kepada beratus-ratus ribu orang terutamanya untuk wanita.
Wanita Melayu yang bekerja kilang ketika itu akhbar-akhbar gelar mereka ini sebagai minah karan. Orang Melayu hina wanita Melayu yang bekerja kilang.
Kenapa budak-budak perempuan Melayu ini mahu tinggalkan rumah di Kelantan, tinggalkan kampung di Johor untuk pergi bekerja kilang di Pulau Pinang, Selangor dan Melaka?
Mereka sanggup kerana mereka telah belajar sampai ke peringkat sekolah menengah. Jadi program kerajaan membuka sekolah-sekolah menengah pada tahun 1960-an dan 1970-an, walaupun tidak ada rancangan khusus, ia telah membebaskan pemikiran budak-budak perempuan Melayu.
Waktu itu terdapat beribu-ribu remaja wanita Melayu pergi bekerja di kilang-kilang. Dalam penyelidikan saya pada tahun 1970-an, dalam soal selidik saya bertanya mereka, bila hendak kahwin?
Di kampung, dulunya mereka ini berumah tangga pada usia muda. Umur 18 dan 19 tahun sudah kahwin atau dikahwinkan, tetapi akhirnya bercerai juga.
Oleh kerana pendidikan dan faktor pendedahan kepada karier baru, wanita Melayu itu sudah ada idea tidak mahu kahwin cepat-cepat. Mereka hendak bekerja terlebih dahulu dan menyimpan duit.
Kita tanya lagi, kalau sudah kahwin hendak anak cepat atau lambat? Mereka kata lambat. Mereka hendak tangguh dapat anak sebab mereka hendak enjoy hidup berkahwin dan mewujudkan rumah tangga yang lengkap terlebih dahulu. Kata mereka, kalau dapat anak susahlah.
Dalam sekelip mata, wanita Melayu berubah sikap. Ini semua tidak diprogramkan oleh kerajaan. Ia jadi begitu sahaja.
Tetapi masyarakat Melayu tidak faham keuntungan perubahan minda wanita ini terutama di kalangan kumpulan berfikiran konservatif.
Hari ini di Malaysia, trend semasa ialah wanita menguasai 65 peratus tempat belajar di universiti-universiti. Dalam sektor kerajaan, banyak wanita yang memegang jawatan tinggi.
Trend ini pasti mengubah masyarakat Melayu secara pesat, sebagaimana ia mengubah pemikiran wanita Melayu pada tahun 1970-an.
Ini semua adalah hasil daripada perubahan sikap yang tidak dirancang tapi terjadi.
Perubahan minda itu berlaku secara tidak sengaja. Kadang-kadang kalau nasib kita baik, hasil perubahan yang tidak dirancang itu juga progresif seperti dalam kes perubahan minda wanita Melayu.
Bagaimanapun, kadang-kadang perubahan yang dirancang tidak terjadi kerana orang yang hendak melaksanakannya pun tidak jujur selain terdapat pengaruh lain yang menghalang seperti pengaruh politik tempatan, politik antarabangsa, Indonesia, peranan orang agama yang menimbulkan nilai-nilai sama ada seseorang dapat pergi syurga atau tidak.
Minda Melayu tidak dapat memikul ini semua. Kerana ada sesuatu dalam budaya mereka yang masih tidak diubah, mereka sanggup duduk di kedai kopi main dam. Contohnya orang lelaki di Kelantan dan Terengganu. Kalau mereka tidak main dam, mereka akan bincang untuk gasak kerajaan. Semua salah, dia sahaja yang betul.
Titik perubahan kepada minda Melayu ialah tragedi 13 Mei 1969, tetapi peristiwa tersebut dan dasar-dasar ekonomi, pendidikan dan politik selepas itu tidak sepenuhnya menukar sikap orang Melayu.
Ada beberapa faktor lain yang menghalang iaitu pengaruh Barat, peranan media massa, politik serta agama.
Kita memang berubah sedikit dari segi lahiriah tetapi saya tidak fikir orang Melayu kini berada pada kedudukan yang lebih baik.
Kita sudah terjangkit apa yang bekas Perdana Menteri British, Margaret Thatcher hendak dulu, dan fahaman ini cukup besar sama ada di kalangan pemimpin Melayu dalam UMNO mahupun Pas, dan juga di kalangan para pegawai kerajaan.
Kita hendak menjadi apa yang Thatcher kata a nation of shopkeepers. Kita tidak mahu kata shopkeepers, kita gunakan istilah usahawan.
Orang berfikir kalau sebahagian besar orang Melayu jadi usahawan, maka ekonomi orang Melayu akan naik. Ini saya rasa salah. Pendekatan untuk membangunkan orang Melayu dengan wang ringgit dan kebendaan ini tidak betul. Tesisnya silap.
Tetapi itulah minda Melayu sekarang.
Akhirnya saya lihat orang Melayu kini sudah kurang komitmen terhadap bangsanya sendiri. Sudah tidak ada kesedaran bahawa aku orang Melayu, aku mesti berkhidmat kepada orang Melayu, untuk membangunkan orang Melayu.
* PROFESOR Diraja Ungku Aziz adalah bekas Naib Canselor Universiti Malaya. Beliau yang menyambut hari lahirnya yang ke-80 pada 28 Januari lalu terlibat aktif dalam isu-isu pembangunan masyarakat Melayu sejak zaman sebelum merdeka.
The real threat to S’pore – construction of Thai’s Kra Canal financed by China
By The Independent - October 2, 2016
By: 永久浪客/Forever Vagabond
The Kra Canal or the Thai Canal refers to a proposal for a canal to cut through the southern isthmus of Thailand, connecting the Gulf of Thailand with the Andaman Sea. It would provide an alternative to transit through the Strait of Malacca and shorten transit for shipments of oil to East Asian countries like Japan and China by 1,200 km, saving much time. China refers to it as part of its 21st century maritime Silk Road.
China is keen on the Kra Canal project partly for strategic reasons. Presently, 80% of China’s oil from the Middle East and Africa passes through the Straits of Malacca. China has long recognized that in a potential conflict with other rivals, particularly with the US, the Strait of Malacca could easily be blockaded, cutting-off its oil lifeline. Former Chinese President Hu Jintao even coined a term for this, calling it China’s “Malacca Dilemma”.
History of Kra Canal
The idea to shorten shipping time and distance through the proposed Kra Canal is not new. It was proposed as early as in 1677 when Thai King Narai asked the French engineer de Lamar to survey the possibility of building a waterway to connect Songkhla with Marid (now Myanmar), but the idea was discarded as impractical with the technology of that time.
In 1793, the idea resurfaced. The younger brother of King Chakri suggested it would make it easier to protect the west coast with military ships. In the early 19th century, the British East India Company became interested in a canal. After Burma became a British colony in 1863, an exploration was undertaken with Victoria Point (Kawthaung) opposite the Kra estuary as its southernmost point, again with negative result. In 1882, the constructor of the Suez canal, Ferdinand de Lesseps, visited the area, but the Thai king did not allow him to investigate in detail.
In 1897, Thailand and the British empire agreed not to build a canal so as to maintain the importance of Singapore as a shipping hub, since by that time, Singapore was already prospering as an international hub with great importance to the British.
In the 20th century the idea resurfaced with various proposals to build the canal but did not go far due to various constraints including technology and cost constraints as well as indecisive political leadership of Thailand. China shows Thailand the money
In the last decade, China has now become the potential game changer who can possibly turn Kra Canal proposal into reality in the 21st century. It has the money, technology and strong political leadership and will to support the project if it wants to.
Last year, news emerged that China and Thailand have signed an MOU to advance the Kra Canal project. On 15 May 2015, the MOU was signed by the China-Thailand Kra Infrastructure Investment and Development company (中泰克拉基礎設施投資開發有限公司) and Asia Union Group in Guangzhou. According to the news reports, the Kra Canal project will take a decade to complete and incur a cost of US$28 billion.
But 4 days later on 19 May, it was reported that both Chinese and Thai governments denied there was any official agreement between the 2 governments to build the canal.
A statement by the Chinese embassy in Thailand said that China has not taken part in any study or cooperation on the matter. It later clarified that the organisations who signed the MOU have no links to the Chinese government. Separately, Xinhua news agency traced the announcement of the canal project to another Chinese firm Longhao, which declined comment when contacted.
Dr Zhao Hong, an expert on China-Asean relations from the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, told the media that China would not embark on such a project lightly, given the political and bilateral implications.
“China will have to consider the feedback from countries such as Singapore, which it has friendly ties with, given the impact that the Kra canal might have,” he said at the time when news of the MOU emerged. But Dr Zhao added that China might be open to private companies studying the feasibility of such a project, but will not directly back it for now.
It was said that the the chairman of Asia Union Group, the Thai party which signed the MOU, is former Thai premier Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, a long-time supporter of the Kra Canal.
Thai PM: Kra Canal project should be looked into by future democratic governments
In Jan this year, the Thai PM reiterated again that the Kra Canal project is not on his government agenda. His announcement came after a member of the King’s Privy Council, Thanin Kraivichien, wrote an open letter to the government advocating for the canal’s construction.Thanin was the 14th PM of Thailand between October 1976 and October 1977. His call is part of a growing chorus of Kra Canal proponents in Thailand’s political and business communities that started talking openly last year after several Chinese firms expressed interest in funding and constructing the canal.
Responding to Thanin’s call for the project, the Thai PM said the Kra Canal project should be looked into by democratic governments in the future, meaning to say Thailand has not ruled out the construction of Kra Canal completely. And in the case of Thailand, changes to its government occur frequently like the changing of clothes.
China getting angry with Singapore
In the last couple of months, China is increasingly angered by PM Lee’s move to side with the US over the South China Seas issue, even though Singapore has no claims over any of the territories there.
It all started 2 months ago when PM Lee was invited to the White House and was hosted to a rare White House state dinner on 2 Aug(http://theindependent.sg/pm-lees-speech-at-white-house-state-dinner-angers-china). During his toast, PM Lee welcomed the US to adopt a strategy to “rebalance” the Asia Pacific and went on to call President Obama as the “America’s first Pacific President”.
China immediately responded through their Global Times. “Lee Hsien Loong addressed Obama as the American ‘first Pacific President’. Such flattery (‘戴高帽’) given to Obama directly does not concern us (‘倒也没啥’),” the Global Times’ article said. “The key is he praised the American strategy to ‘re-balance Asia-Pacific’ and publicised that all Southeast Asian countries welcome such American ‘balancing’. Because the ‘rebalance Asia-Pacific’ strategy is pointed at China to a large extent, Lee Hsien Loong is clearly taking side already.”
“If Singapore completely becomes an American ‘pawn’ (‘马前卒’) and loses any of its resilience to move between US and China, its influence will be considerably reduced. Its value to the US will also be greatly discounted,” it added.
The article went on to say that China has its limit in tolerance. It said, “Singapore should not push it (‘新加坡不能太过分’). It cannot play the role of taking the initiative to help US and South East Asian countries to go against China over South China Sea matters. It cannot help American ‘rebalancing Asia-Pacific’ strategy, which is directed at China’s internal affairs, by ‘adding oil and vinegar’ (‘添油加醋’), thereby enabling US to provide an excuse to suppress China’s strategic space as well as providing support to US.”
“Singapore can go and please the Americans, but it needs to do their utmost to avoid harming China’s interests. It needs to be clear and open about its latter attitude,” it cautioned. Singapore’s balancing act should be to help China and US to avoid confrontation as its main objective, and not taking side so as to increase the mistrust between China and US, it said..
The article gave the example of Singapore allowing US to deploy its P-8 reconnaissance aircraft to Singapore, which from the view of the Chinese, increases the tension in South China Sea, and thereby, increasing the mistrust between the 2 big countries.
“Singapore needs more wisdom (‘新加坡需要更多的智慧’),” the article concluded.
PLA General: We must strike back at Singapore
And yesterday, SCMP reported that a PLA General had called for Beijing to impose sanctions and to retaliate against Singapore so as to “pay the price for seriously damaging China’s interests” (http://theindependent.sg/pla-general-we-must-strike-back-at-singapore).
The General’s remarks came after a recent spat between Global Times and Singapore Ambassador Loh. On 21 Sep, Global Times carried an article saying that Singapore had raised the issue of the disputed South China Sea at the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit held in Venezuela on 18 Sep. It added that Singapore had “insisted” to include an international tribunal’s ruling on the waterway, which was in favour of the Philippines, in the summit’s final document.
Singapore’s ambassador to China, Stanley Loh, rejected this and wrote an open letter stating that the news report was “false and unfounded”. Mr Loh said the move to include the international ruling in NAM’s final document was a collective act by the members of the ASEAN. But the editor-in-chief of Global Times came out to stand by his paper’s report.
Then, the Chinese government also came out in support of Global Times, not buying Ambassador Loh’s arguments. When a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman was asked about the tiff between Global Times and Singapore, he blamed an unspecified “individual nation” for insisting on including South China Sea issues in the NAM document.
Xu Liping, senior researcher on Southeast Asia studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said China expected Singapore to be a neutral mediator between China and the countries of Asean, and did not want to see disputes over the South China Sea raised in a multilateral platform like the NAM Summit. And that was why China was so angry over Singapore’s active moves in broaching such a sensitive topic, he said.
“If Singapore does not adjust its policies, I am afraid the bilateral relations will deteriorate,” Xu added. “Singapore should think twice about its security cooperation especially with the United States, and strike a better balance between China and US.”
On Thursday, the overseas edition of People’s Daily also published an online commentary, saying Singapore “has obviously taken sides over South China Sea issues, while emphasising it does not”. In other words, China is accusing the Singapore government of saying one thing but doing another – a hypocrite.
Online, the Chinese netizens condemned Singapore as a “2-headed snake”. One of them wrote:
(Translation: China should quickly embark on the Kra Canal project and turn Singapore back into a third world country. This is the best present to give to a “2-headed snake”.)
If the Kra Canal truly becomes a reality, ships would certainly consider by-passing the Strait of Malacca and Singapore altogether, making the Singapore’s all-important geographical location redundant. We may truly become a third world country after all. Read more and in full here. No I do not think it would happen, not in my lifetime anyway and I am 55 years young this year...why?....Singapore offers efficient ship repairs and logistics facilities not to mention great air connectivity and also entertainment facilities among others. The Straits of Malacca is an open sea lane for maritime traffic patrolled by the navies of Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, no tolls to pay. No Chinese or US Government to control the free flow of traffic in the Straits of Malacca. . Imagine how much the toll to pass the Kra canal would be? Who would ultimately control the Kra canal? No it would not happen....hear it from the Thais themselves here.
Today, the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) presents the first results of the criminal investigation into the downing of flight MH17 on 17 July 2014.
In the JIT Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine are working together.
Image: figures of the investigation
This is an extensive and complex investigation. To illustrate this, I herewith you some figures that may demonstrate the scope of the investigation:
For quite some time, between 100 and 200 investigators and other experts of the JIT have been working on the case and currently, on a daily basis almost 100 investigators, public prosecutors and other experts are still working on the case. During the past two years, dozens of containers with thousands of wreckage parts were examined in detail, piece by piece. Of those parts, 1448 were processed in a databank as being relevant to the investigation. Sixty requests for legal assistance were sent to more than twenty countries and we received reactions on many of them. Twenty weapon systems were examined. Five billion internet pages were recorded and assessed for their relevant content. Half a million videos and photographs were examined in detail and saved, and more than two hundred witnesses were heard. In addition, approximately 150.000 intercepted telephone calls were listened in on, summarised and assessed for their relevance and authenticity. After this, more than 3500 intercepted conversations were processed entirely, translated and analysed. All this was recorded in more than 6000 official reports.
Earlier, the Dutch Safety Board (OVV) presented their investigation results. And furthermore, many journalists carried out their own investigations, as did research collectives like Bellingcat. This resulted in different scenarios and theories being raised, both in the media and on the internet.
The criminal investigation focusses on truth finding and its ultimate goal is tracing and prosecuting the perpetrators. The big difference with a journalistic documentary or an internet-based investigation report is that in our case conclusions based on probability will not suffice. The most important in the JIT investigation is that we can substantiate our conclusions with legal and convincing evidence. In doing so the bar is high: the evidence must stand before a court. We are confident that the evidence which we have collected removes any kind of doubt about the cause of the crash. Of course, ultimately it will be up to the court to render a final judgment.
In the meantime we have collected so much evidence that we – as announced earlier – can answer the question as to which weapon was used and, even more important, where this weapon was launched exactly. The investigation into those responsible is a matter for the long haul and will take more time.
Normally we exercise restraint when it comes to disclosing interim findings in ongoing investigations; we only present our investigation results in the court room. But this case has such a profound impact worldwide that we have looked at possibilities to present the results of the criminal investigation at an earlier stage. We cannot and do not want to tell you everything yet; in that case we would run the risk of playing into the perpetrators’ hands. Also, we will not show all our evidence. We have made a selection that is meant to illustrate how we reached our conclusions.
First, we will discuss the different scenarios which have been investigated and how we reached our conclusions with respect to these scenarios.
After that, we will discuss the results from the investigation with regard to the weapon and the launch site.
At the end, we will briefly discuss the further investigation into the perpetrators.
The presentation will provide information about the progress in the investigation. We also want to explain that in the meantime we have gathered sufficient evidence to build a criminal case which will demonstrate the cause of the crash without any doubt.
I The investigation into different scenarios
The JIT has carried out the investigation as broadly as possible and has investigated different scenarios. Although early in the investigation one scenario seemed the most likely one, it was important to keep investigating the other possibilities carefully. After all, it had to be an unprejudiced and impartial investigation. In future court proceedings those other scenarios may possibly play a role as well, because they might be presented by the defendants and their lawyers as alternative possibilities. In that case the Prosecution will have to be able to demonstrate that they did not take place.
Two scenarios could be ruled out quickly, as already mentioned previously. This concerned the possibility of an accident caused by technical or human failure, and the possibility of a terrorist attack from inside the aircraft. We have investigated both scenarios and there were no indications for these scenarios. The OVV had already drawn this conclusion on 13 October of last year.
Then, two scenarios remained:
First, the possibility that flight MH17 had been shot down by another airplane equipped with a weapon system. This is the air-to-air scenario.
In the investigation so far, we have come to the conclusion that we can also rule out the air-to-air scenario.
What follows is the explanation about how we reached that conclusion.
If flight MH17 would have been shot down by another airplane, this plane would have been shown on the radar images. There has been quite some discussion about the radar data. The JIT has acquired sufficient and crucial radar images. These images were made available to the JIT by both Ukraine and the Russian Federation. Recently, through intensive investigation, the JIT found another video file containing relevant primary radar data of the area which had been recorded by a mobile radar in Ukraine. At the time, this radar was used to test new software. Although it had a limited range, it still detected flight MH17 and this completes the image further.
As far as we are concerned, the discussion about the radar images can be concluded. Today we wish to emphasize that the material that we now have is more than sufficient to draw conclusions in the criminal investigation. For building up a solid criminal file, it will not be necessary to gather more evidentiary material.
In addition to the radar images that we have, witnesses have been heard, such as the air traffic controllers who were working at that time; the JIT has an audio file of the conversations between the Ukrainian air traffic controllers and the airplanes that passed through the Ukrainian airspace on 17 July 2014, including flight MH17.
All these data together provide a sufficiently complete picture of the air traffic in the direct vicinity of flight MH17 and based on this picture the JIT concludes that there was no other aircraft flying in the vicinity of flight MH17 that could have shot it down. This conclusion in itself can already rule out that scenario.
The Russian Federation mentioned last week that they have found ‘new’ primary radar images. Based on those images even the Russian Federation concludes that there was no second airplane that could have shot down MH17.
Moreover, there is much other evidence that contributes to the evidence of the final scenario, being: Flight MH17 was shot down by a ground based air defence system.
On the basis of a large amount of evidence we can conclude that this is indeed the scenario which took place.
The results of the criminal investigation with regard to the weapon used and the location from where this weapon was fired will be illustrated with the aidof three videos in which we show a selection of our evidentiary material. For a part real images will be shown, for another part there will be animated images, i.e. images created by us. In this respect, two remarks. In some of the intercepted telephone conversations, names of certain persons are mentioned. This does not mean that these persons are automatically suspects. The other remark concerns the spelling of place-names in Eastern Ukraine. Some place-names are spelled differently, which is partly due to the differences in Ukrainian and Russian.
Image: map of Russia – Ukraine
In the explanation of the situation in Eastern Ukraine in July 2014, the word ‘separatists’ is used regularly. The JIT believes it is important to explain that the term separatists refers to any person, regardless of his nationality or citizenship, who is fighting against the Ukrainian government troops in Eastern Ukraine.
Image: map of Eastern Ukraine
In July 2014, heavy fighting was going on in the area southeast of Donetsk. The pro-Russian fighters were engaged in an offensive to force a passage to the border with the Russian Federation south of the conflict zone. During these fights, the Ukrainian army carried out many air strikes in order to stopthis offensive. The pro-Russian fighters suffered greatly: there were many losses, both human and material. Intercepted telephone conversations show that during the days prior to 17 July, the pro-Russian fighters mentioned that they needed better air defence systems to defend themselves against these air strikes. In this respect, a BUK was discussed explicitly. Fact is that a BUK has a higher range than the air defence systems in use by the separatists at that moment, such as the Strela and Igla.
This can be illustrated with several intercepted conversations between two Russian speaking persons, who are fighting on the side of the pro-Russian fighters. These conversations are relevant to the investigation and took place in the evening of 16 July and the early morning of 17 July 2014.
On the right: intercepted call on 16 July 2014 at 19:09 hours
(first word: Oh, shit)
And the intercepted call on 17 July 2014 at 09:08::26 hours
(first word: and where should)
The above shows that the pro-Russian fighters were in great need of a BUK air defence system and that it was actually delivered.
Based on the results of the criminal investigation it can be concluded that flight MH17 was shot down on 17 July 2014 by a missile of the 9M38 series, launched by a BUK-TELAR. This is consistent with the conclusions drawn by the OVV of 13 October 2015. The BUK-TELAR was brought in from the territory of the Russian Federation and subsequently also taken back to the Russian Federation.
The following animation explains what kind of weapon the BUK-TELAR and BUK missile actually is.
On the right animation 1
In the animation it was explained how the weapon works. This is important to know in the criminal investigation and also to determine the question of guilt.
III Forensic investigation
In the investigation we have made extensive use of forensic research. Partly thanks to this research, we have been able to establish that flight MH17 was shot down by a missile from the 9M38 series.
In the next animation it is explained how the forensic investigation has contributed to this conclusion.
On the right animation 2: the forensic investigation
In addition to the forensic investigation, so-called Arena tests were performed. This means that a group of forensic experts from the JIT countries detonated a warhead and a complete missile in a prepared test environment. In this test environment aluminium panels, simulating an aircraft wall, were placed around the warhead and the missile. Surrounding the test area measuring equipment including high-speed cameras had been installed.
During these arena tests several measurements were carried out, such as the velocity of the fragments from the warhead after detonation. Also, the damage pattern became visible by the perforations of flying fragments from the warhead and the missile in aforementioned aluminium panels. The results of these tests were compared with other investigation data, including the different metal parts which were found during the forensic investigation. The main purpose of these tests was calculating the trajectory of the missile and comparing the nature of the damage with the traces found at the crash site.
On the right: video of Arena test
IV The route and launch site:
The BUK-TELAR that was used was brought into Eastern Ukraine from the territory of the Russian Federation. The investigation team has been able to make an accurate reconstruction of a large part of the route which was followed by the BUK-TELAR and accompanying vehicles. Initially, we did this mainly based on intercepted telephone conversations and videos and photographs on the social media. Following the call for witnesses last year, several witnesses replied and were interviewed by the JIT. They also stated that they had seen the BUK-TELAR driving by.
Image: map of Ukraine with Zaroschenke
The JIT investigated several possible launch locations, including two locations in the vicinity of the town of Zaroschenke or Zaroshchenskoye. Among other locations, this area was indicated by the Russian Ministry of Defence as being the launch site. It was also mentioned that this area was allegedly controlled by Ukraine. However, the investigation showed that this was not the launch location. And besides this, it appeared that this area was not being controlled by Ukraine, but by pro-Russian fighters. To illustrate this there is the following intercepted telephone conversation between two pro-Russian fighters:
On the right: conversation 2 June 2015 at 14.02.13 uur
This conversation took place in June 2015 and is about the information that apparently was distributed at that time, saying that the Boeing (flight MH17) was allegedly shot down from the city of Zaroshchenskoye (or: Zaroschenke) by an air defence system. One of the participants in that conversation knows for sure that Zaroshchenske was not the launch site and that, at the time, Zaroshchenske was not controlled by the pro-Russian fighters. The JIT also has other evidence in support of these conclusions.
In order to establish the exact location of the launch site, the JIT conducted different kinds of investigations. These investigative activities were carried out Ukraine, Belgium, Australia and the Netherlands and involved forensic, tactical and digital investigations. Among other activities, a team of specialists visited the disaster area in June 2015. Ground samples were taken at different locations that were regarded as possible launch sites. These samples were examined in detail by the Dutch Forensic Institute (NFI). Network measurements were also carried out on the spot in order to determine the locations, as well as the range of the telephone towers. Furthermore, all kinds of visual material was evaluated and checked for authenticity. Witnesses were interviewed as well, among others by a Dutch Investigating Judge.
Image: Launch site
During the past two years, the investigation team collected a large quantity of evidentiary material about the launch site. Our conclusion is that the location of the launch site is an agricultural field near Pervomaiskiy. It concerns a field of approximately 500 x 600 metres. This is the highest spot in the area within a radius of 5 kilometres. The farmland is surrounded by trees, except for the western side. Previously the OVV had already concluded that the missile must have been launched from an area of 320 square kilometres south east of Grabovo. The farmland near Pervomaiskiy is located in this area.
This conclusion is supported by the material which the investigation team recently obtained from the United States and the European Space Agency. I will explain this briefly:
In response to a Dutch request for legal assistance, the US submitted a report in which they present their assessment of the information regarding the shooting down of flight MH17. This report can be used in court. The conclusion of the American authorities is that flight MH17 was shot down by an SA-11 surface-to-air missile, i.e. a BUK-missile, which was launched from a site about six kilometres south of the village of Snizhne in Eastern Ukraine. This is consistent with the distance to aforementioned launch site near Pervomaiskiy. The US also explain how they reached this conclusion. In addition, they mention that they are sure of the fact that the Ukrainian air defence systems could not have done it and that an air-to-air scenario is impossible.
The Dutch Military Intelligence Service (MIVD) and the (Dutch) National Public Prosecutor on Terrorism have been able to view the underlying state-secret (intelligence) material and based on that information and the explanation provided, they support the fact that this conclusion is drawn.
The European Space Agency (ESA) has aided the investigation team extensively in the search for relevant images from satellites. This has shown to be of great value: Not only did ESA obtain images of all relevant civilian satellites, but they also have experts who have assessed these images. The conclusions drawn by ESA confirm the conclusions of the investigation team with regard to the launch site.
In the following animation we will show a selection from our investigation results.
On the right: animation 3 arrival, launch site and removal
Based on the above the JIT concludes that flight MH17 was shot down on 17 July 2014 by a missile of the 9M38 series, launched by a BUK-TELAR, from farmland in the vicinity of Pervomaiskiy (or: Pervomaiskyi). At that time, the area was controlled by pro-Russian fighters. Furthermore, the investigation also shows that the BUK-TELAR was brought in from the territory of the Russian Federation and subsequently, after having shot down flight MH-17, was taken back to the Russian Federation.
V Those involved
So much for our conclusions regarding what happened. Probably not everything of this, is new. But what matters today is that the criminal investigation has now advanced to the point where we can substantiate abovementioned conclusions with evidence. Of course, at the end of the day it is up to a court to render judgment.
What remains is the answer to the question: who were responsible for this? Which persons were involved in the delivery, security and removal of the BUK-TELAR and/or the shooting down flight MH17? In this part of the investigation significant progress has been made during the past two years, but more investigation is needed. Now that we know for sure what happened to flight MH17, in the coming period the investigation can fully focus on the answers to these kinds of questions.
Image: those involved
Although today we have not been able to provide investigation results regarding the perpetrators, we can say that in the meantime, we have identified approximately 100 persons who in one way or the other can be linked to the crash of flight MH17 or the transport of the BUK. We have been able to establish the identity of these 100 persons, whom we found through different sources such as intercepted telephone conversations and witness statements. This concerns people who have played an active role in getting hold of the BUK-TELAR and organising the transport to the launch location. There are also persons who had a facilitating or supporting role. This group includes the people who escorted the transport of the BUK-TELAR.
These persons are not automatically suspects. To assess whether persons who were involved acted culpably, and can therefore be regarded as suspects, it is important to get a better picture of the chain of command with regard to the use of the weapon. Who gave the orders for the delivery of the BUK-TELAR? Who gave the order to shoot down MH17? Did the crew take their own decision or did they execute a command from higher up? What did the persons who were involved in this operation know? All these kinds of circumstances play a role when answering the question whether someone should be regarded as a witness or as a suspect.
It is important to the JIT to gain more insight into the role of the different parties involved, which is also the reason why today, we once more call witnesses to report to us. In particular we invite insider witnesses, who can tell us more about the role that different persons have played, to report to the JIT.
Ukrainian law provides for lower sentences, and in certain circumstances relief from criminal liability, for those who cooperate with the investigation. Information about how to report as a witness can be found on the website of the JIT. (See: www.jitmh17.com)
Furthermore, this afternoon we will post a number of intercepted telephone conversations on the website of the JIT, requesting information about certain participants in those conversations. Anyone who knows who these persons are, is requested to report this to the JIT.
Finally, the question as to how long will it take to conclude the criminal investigation cannot be answered yet. It depends on further developments in the investigation and the witnesses we can still hear. After today, this investigation will continue unabated.
In view thereof, the JIT agreement that was to expire next month, was extended. We will continue as a Joint Investigation Team to see this important investigation to a good end.