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UK renews nuke claims, threatens Iran

Press TV – October 6, 2011

British Defense Secretary Liam Fox has accused Iran of seeking nuclear weapons saying the military option cannot be ruled out to prevent Iran’s nuclear developments.

“[Iran] is developing a nuclear programme no reasonable person can believe is purely for civil use,” Fox insisted saying “we do not rule anything out” to “stop Iran becoming a nuclear weapons state.”

Fox’s threat comes as Iran has repeatedly said that it is pursuing a civilian nuclear program under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and within the framework of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

It is also ironic that Fox accuses Iran of developing nukes, while Britain is preparing to upgrade its own Trident nuclear missiles under his own lead as Defense Minister and in clear violation of the NPT as a signatory to the treaty.

Secret Ministry of Defense (MoD) documents have revealed that the government has approved  £747 million in funding for Project Pegasus to build a new enriched uranium facility at its Atomic Weapons establishment (AWE), which is responsible for the design, manufacture and support of UK’s nuclear weapons.

This is while, the MoD earlier allocated another £500 million for Project Mensa at AWE Burghfield to improve its warhead assembly facilities.

The British government has spent £2.6 billion since 2008 to renovate the nuclear weapons production infrastructure at AWE in clear defiance of the NPT.

Britain and its western allies that accuse Iran of leading a military nuclear program have never presented proof for their claims while their own commitment to the nuclear non-proliferation has always been under question.

During his address at the Tory conference, Fox even went as far as imagining a nuclear-armed Iran saying it would trigger “a new arms race in the world’s most dangerous regions” by which he apparently meant the Middle East.

He did not, however, refer to the Israeli regime’s 200 nuclear warheads or the threat they pose to the region, as is the western practice.

October 6, 2011 Posted by | Deception, Militarism, Wars for Israel | 1 Comment

Revealed: UK government plotted with Israel lobby to ban Salah

By Asa Winstanley – The Electronic Intifada – 6 October 2011

Birmingham – As Palestinian leader Sheikh Raed Salah’s appeal against deportation concluded in a Birmingham court this week, new details of the UK government’s deep links to the Israel lobby have emerged.

This follows a separate High Court ruling in London on 30 September, when a judicial review into the government’s June imprisonment of Salah ruled he was entitled to damages for “wrongful detention.”

While a panel of two immigration judges is expected to deliver a verdict within 10 days of the hearing, internal government emails obtained by The Electronic Intifada show Home Secretary Theresa May moved quickly to ban Salah not long after the pro-Israel group Community Security Trust (CST) sent a secret report on him. The report contained quotes ascribed to Salah with the word “Jews” inserted into his rhetorical attacks on Israeli occupation forces, in an attempt to paint him as an anti-Semite.

In court on Monday, government barrister Neil Sheldon said, “There is no question of this being a doctored quote, or a cooked-up quote,” although he conceded that the words “Jews” did not appear in the original poem written by Salah. A Jerusalem Post report cited by the government against Salah “may well have got it wrong,” Sheldon stated (“Civil Liberties,” 20 June 2009).

But Sheldon seemed to argue that this fact did not matter because that is how the poem was reported in a “respectable media outlet in Israel.”

This and other similar misquotes were then used by May as a principle source for her banning order against Salah. Salah entered the UK legally on 23 June. Neither he nor his organizers were aware of the ban, because the government had not managed to serve it on him in time.

Conservative Party funder on board of group that pushed for Salah to be banned

The Electronic Intifada can reveal that Poju Zabludowicz, a billionaire real estate magnate who bankrolls the ruling Conservative Party (to which May belongs), is named as a CST board member in a report by an expert witnesses called by Salah’s lawyers. The emails obtained by The Electronic Intifada appear to show that CST played a key role in the banning of Salah.

As well as personally funding UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s campaign for the Conservative Party leadership, Zabludowicz’s family used to own Israeli arms company Soltam (now part of Elbit). And he has owned a minority holding in British Israel, a company with several malls — including one in the illegal West Bank settlement Maaleh Adumim.

David Miller, a sociology professor from the University of Strathclyde in Scotland, was called by Salah’s lawyers to testify as an expert witness in the case. His report on the CST was entered into evidence. It includes a list names of the CST advisory board from June 2010. In court, he said the list was available in the public domain, and later showed The Electronic Intifada where it could be viewed publicly.

A spokesperson for the CST refused to comment when asked by The Electronic Intifada if Zabludowicz or several other members of the list were still board members. Sheldon said Miller’s conclusions that the CST is not a reliable source on the matter belied the list, which includes several members of parliament, lords and former and current senior police officers.

Pro-Israel group CST pushed privately for Salah to be banned

In a 17 June email to the deputy director of the Special Cases Directorate (SCD) of the UK Border Agency (UKBA), Michael Whine, a CST director, said he was writing following the request of an official from another government department. Whine attached a CST report on Salah “who plans a speaking tour of the UK from the end of next week.”

The report claimed that Salah’s “record of provocative acts and statements carry a risk that his presence in the UK could well have a radicalizing impact on his audiences.”

Only 17 minutes after this report was sent, Faye Johnson, Theresa May’s private secretary, emailed SCD Director Andrew Jackson about “a parliamentary event on 29 June” at which Salah was due to speak. Johnson then asked if there was “anything that we can do to prevent him from attending (e.g. could we exclude him on the grounds of unacceptable behavior?).” It is not clear where May had first heard about Salah.

A few hours later, Jonathan Rosenorn-Lanng at the SCD sent an email asking UKBA colleagues for more information on Salah that could be used to exclude him. But it seems this request was a token, as Rosenorn-Lanng insisted he would be “going with what I’ve got in any event” — seemingly a reference to the CST report on Salah.

Pro-Israel lobby group asked for court sources

The previous Monday, Rosenorn-Lanng was the only witness called by the government lawyers in their response to the appeal. Under cross-examination, he had said that, although he was “not expected to be an expert on the actual issues I’m dealing with,” the recommendations he presented to the Home Secretary on exclusions from the UK were checked by people who were experts.

In court, Sheldon also named pro-Israel lobby group the Board of Deputies of British Jews as a further source for the document put together by Rosenorn-Lanng. This document led to May personally signing the order for Salah’s exclusion from the UK.

But it’s likely this is a confusion borne of out of Michael Whine’s dual roles at both the CST and the Board of Deputies. As well as being director of “Government and International Affairs” at the CST, Whine also holds a director’s position at the Board of Deputies and has written a journal article for the CST on European governmental responsibility toward “combating anti-Semitism” (“Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: Diplomatic Progress in Combating Antisemitism,” 2010 [PDF]).

Although Whine sent the report on Salah from a CST email address on 17 June, and with the CST mentioned in his signature, the deputy director of the SCD referred to him as “Mike Whine at the Board of Deputies.”

Although CST predecessor, the Community Security Organization, used to be part of the Board of Deputies, the CST established itself as a charity independent of the Board in 1994 following certain changes in charity law. The CST was granted a special dispensation by the Charity Commission allowing it to withhold public release of the names of its trustees.

Goverment’s only source was anti-Palestinian group

Salah’s barrister Raza Husain had asked why Salah’s hosts in the country had not been consulted by the government or their advice sought on Salah. He also asked why they had not consulted a group like Jews For Justice For Palestinians, who issued a statement in favor of Salah’s right to speak in the country.

Pressed by Husain on this point over the whole three days of hearings, the government was unable to point to a single outside group whose advice it had drawn on, apart from the CST and the Board of Deputies (taken in the context of the emails, it seems both were via Whine).

Husain told the court he was not aware of any primary document in the report to Theresa May compiled by Rosenorn-Lanng that was not from the CST (apart from a “communities impact assessment” from the another government department). Sheldon’s reply was that, if that was the state of the evidence, “that’s the evidence.”

He later said it was “simply not the case” that everything from the CST was “taken at face value,” and he gave the example that a CST report referred to Salah’s presence on the Mavi Marmara as part of the 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla. Rosenorn-Lanng had said the government discounted an accusation used in a CST submission that Salah might have been involved in indoctrination that led to an attack on Israeli naval commandos as a “rumor.”

But it also emerges from the emails that even May recognized that the case was “very finely balanced.” May’s private secretary Faye Johnson said as much in an email dated 23 June, 4:26pm, to SCD Deputy Director Rod McLean, thanking him for his submission. This submission is seemingly the documents assembled by Rosenorn-Lanng, who had in court described the CST as a “principal source.” But once Salah had been arrested on 28 June, some civil servants advised May against deportation because he had a ticket to leave the country on 5 July anyway, and arrest would only attract more attention to the case.

Husain’s argument was: if the case was so finely balanced even when only a report from a group biased against Salah had been received, how did the scales tip now that Salah’s side of the story had been heard in court?

Salah’s exclusion order an an affront to free speech

Sheldon’s argument was that the exclusion decision taken by May was something she is democratically accountable for, and that the Tribunal should be “very slow” to substitute its own view for hers, because it had an incomplete jurisdiction. He argued that the accusations against Salah in the document assembled by Rosenorn-Lanng were not counts of an indictment that had to be proved, and that the question for the Tribunal was, was there sufficient evidence for May to base her decision on. He characterized the evidence as disputed.

Husain took exception to that, saying the judges had to deal with the material on its own terms. He argued that the true aim of the exclusion order was to block free speech, pointing to Faye Johnson’s emailed reference to Salah’s scheduled meeting in the Houses of Parliament.

Sheldon argued that Salah’s presence in the country would have the effect of radicalizing “elements of the Muslim community.” Sheldon said Salah had been convicted in Israel of funding charities linked to Hamas and that it was a misrepresentation of a revised indictment to say this related only to charitable work.

Asked by The Electronic Intifada for a response to the accusations heard in court, Mark Gardner of the CST wrote, “It is a disgraceful slur to claim that CST’s attitudes to antisemitism are based upon the assumed religion or ethnicity of those concerned. We completely reject any insinuation that CST used ‘doctored’ quotes. You should note that there was a Guardian article which carried similar accusations to those you are making. They changed it following our legal intervention.”

This last comment seems to be a reference to a Guardian article by David Hearst, who also had access to some of the government emails, to which an amendment notice is appended (“May warned of weak case against Sheikh Raed Salah,” 26 September 2011).

Should Salah win his appeal, the government is likely to challenge the ruling. Since he is a well-known leader of peaceful popular resistance against the Israeli occupation, UK government collusion with Israeli authorities has already caused a great deal of damage to Britain’s reputation in the Arab world. A deportation would only increase such damage.

When the law has just been changed to allow Israel’s former foreign minister and war crimes suspect Tzipi Livni to freely visit Britain even while Salah remains on restrictive bail, one can accuse the UK of rank hypocrisy.


Asa Winstanley is a freelance journalist based in London who has lived in and reported from occupied Palestine. He edited the book “Corporate Complicity in Israel’s Occupation,” out in October. His website is

October 6, 2011 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Full Spectrum Dominance | 1 Comment

Flat-Lining the Middle Class

By Andy Kroll | Tom Dispatch | October 6, 2011

Food pantries picked over. Incomes drying up. Shelters bursting with the homeless. Job seekers spilling out the doors of employment centers. College grads moving back in with their parents. The angry and disillusioned filling the streets.

Pan your camera from one coast to the other, from city to suburb to farm and back again, and you’ll witness scenes like these. They are the legacy of the Great Recession, the Lesser Depression, or whatever you choose to call it.

In recent months, a blizzard of new data, the hardest of hard numbers, has laid bare the dilapidated condition of the American economy, and particularly of the once-mighty American middle class. Each report sparks a flurry of news stories and pundit chatter, but never much reflection on what it all means now that we have just enough distance to look back on the first decade of the twenty-first century and see how Americans fared in that turbulent period.

And yet the verdict couldn’t be more clear-cut. For the American middle class, long the pride of this country and the envy of the world, the past 10 years were a bust. A washout. A decade from hell.

Paychecks shrank. Household wealth melted away like so many sandcastles swept off by the incoming tide. Poverty spiked, swallowing an ever-greater share of the population, young and old. “This is truly a lost decade,” Harvard University economist Lawrence Katz said of these last years. “We think of America as a place where every generation is doing better, but we’re looking at a period when the median family is in worse shape than it was in the late 1990s.”

Poverty Swallows America

Not even a full year has passed and yet the signs of wreckage couldn’t be clearer. It’s as if Hurricane Irene had swept through the American economy. Consider this statistic: between 1999 and 2009, the net jobs gain in the American workforce was zero. In the six previous decades, the number of jobs added rose by at least 20% per decade.

Then there’s income. In 2010, the average middle-class family took home $49,445, a drop of $3,719 or 7%, in yearly earnings from 10 years earlier. In other words, that family now earns the same amount as in 1996. After peaking in 1999, middle-class income dwindled through the early years of the George W. Bush presidency, climbing briefly during the housing boom, then nosediving in its aftermath.

In this lost decade, according to economist Jared Bernstein, poor families watched their income shrivel by 12%, falling from $13,538 to $11,904. Even families in the 90th percentile of earners suffered a 1% percent hit, dropping on average from $141,032 to $138,923. Only among the staggeringly wealthy was this not a lost decade: the top 1% of earners enjoyed 65% of all income growth in America for much of the decade, one hell of a run, only briefly interrupted by the financial meltdown of 2008 and now, by the look of things, back on track.

The swelling ranks of the American poor tell an even more dismal story. In September, the Census Bureau rolled out its latest snapshot of poverty in the United States, counting more than 46 million men, women, and children among this country’s poor. In other words, 15.1% of all Americans are now living in officially defined poverty, the most since 1993. (Last year, the poverty line for a family of four was set at $22,113; for a single working-age person, $11,334.) Unlike in the lost decade, the poverty rate decreased for much of the 1990s, and in 2000 was at about 11%.

Even before the housing market imploded, during the post-dot-com-bust years of “recovery” from 2001 to 2007, poverty figures were the worst for any recovery on record, according to Arloc Sherman, a senior researcher at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The Brookings Institution, meanwhile, predicts that the ranks of the poor will continue to grow steadily during the years of the Great Recession, which officially began in December 2007, and are expected to reach 50 million by 2015, almost 10 million more than in 2007.

Hitting similar record highs are the numbers of “deep” poor, Americans living way below the poverty line. In 2010, 20.5 million people, or 6.7% of all Americans, scraped by with less than $11,157 for a family of four — that is, less than half of the poverty line.

The ranks of the poor are no longer concentrated in inner cities or ghettos in the country’s major urban areas as in decades past. Poverty has now exploded in the suburbs. Last year, more than 15 million suburbanites — or one-third of all poor Americans — fell below the poverty line, an increase of 11.5% from the previous year.

This is a development of the last decade. Those suburbs, once the symbol of by-the-bootstraps mobility and economic prosperity in America, saw poverty spike by 53% since 2000.  Four of the ten poorest suburbs in America — Fresno, Bakersfield, Stockton, and Modesto — sit side by side on a map of California’s Central Valley like a row of broken knuckles.  The poor are also concentrated in border towns like El Paso and McAllen, Texas, and urban areas cratered by the housing crash like Fort Myers and Lakeland, Florida.

The epidemic of poverty has hit minorities especially hard. According to Census data, between 2009 and 2010 alone the black poverty rate jumped from 25% to 27%. For Hispanics, it climbed from 25% to 26%, and for whites, from 9.4% to 9.9%. At 16.4 million, more children now live in poverty than at any time since 1962.  Put another way, 22% of kids currently live below the poverty line, a 17-year record.

America’s lost decade also did a remarkable job of destroying the wealth of nonwhite families, the Pew Research Center reported in July. Between 2005 and 2009, the household wealth of a typical black family dropped off a cliff, plunging by a whopping 53%; for a typical Hispanic family, it was even worse, at 66%. For white middle-class households, losses on average totaled “only” 16%.

Here’s a more eye-opening way to look at it: in 2009, the median wealth for a white family was $113,149, for a black family $5,677, and for a Hispanic family $6,325. The second half of the lost decade, in other words, laid ruin to whatever wealth was possessed by blacks and Hispanics — largely home ownership devastated by the popping of the housing bubble.

The New Lost Decade

As for this decade, less than two years in, we already know that the news isn’t likely to be much better. The problems that plagued Americans in the previous decade show little sign of improvement.

Take the jobs market. Tally the number of jobs eliminated since the recession began and also the labor market’s failure to create enough jobs to keep up with normal population growth, and you’re left with an 11.2 million jobs deficit, a chasm between where the economy should be and where it is now. Filling that gap is the key to any recovery, but to do so by mid-2016 would mean adding 280,000 jobs a month — a pipe dream in an economy limping along creating an average of just 35,000 jobs a month for the past three months.  […]

The question on many economists’ minds is: Will the U.S. slump into a double-dip recession? But for so many Americans living outside the political and media hothouses of Washington and New York, this question is silly.  After all, how can the economy tumble back into recession if it never left in the first place?

No one can say for certain how many years will pass before America regains anything like its pre-recession swagger — and even then, there’s little to suggest that the devastating effects of the middle class’s lost decade won’t have changed this country in ways that will prove permanent, or that the gap between the wealthy and everyone else will do anything but increase in good times or bad in the decade to come. The deep polarization between the very rich and everyone else has been decades in the making and is a global phenomenon. Reversing it could be the task of a lifetime.

In the meantime, the middle class has flat-lined. Life support is nowhere close to arriving. One lost decade may have ended, but the next one has likely only begun.

Copyright 2011 Andy Kroll

October 6, 2011 Posted by | Economics | 1 Comment

Truth and Falsehood in Syria

By Jeremy Salt | Palestine Chronicle | October 5, 2011

Ankara – As insurrection in Syria lurches towards civil war, the brakes need to be put on the propaganda pouring through the western mainstream media and accepted uncritically by many who should know better. So here is a matrix of positions from which to argue about what is going on in this critical Middle Eastern country:

1. Syria has been a mukhabarat (intelligence) state since the redoubtable Abd al Hamid al Serraj ran the intelligence services as the deuxieme bureau in the 1950s. The authoritarian state which developed from the time Hafez al Assad took power in 1970 has crushed all dissent ruthlessly. On occasion it has either been him or them. The ubiquitous presence of the mukhabarat is an unpleasant fact of Syrian life but as Syria is a central target for assassination and subversion by Israel and western intelligence agencies, as it has repeatedly come under military attack, as it has had a large chunk of its territories occupied and as its enemies are forever looking for opportunities to bring it down, it can hardly be said that the mukhabarat is not needed.

2. There is no doubt that the bulk of people demonstrating in Syria want peaceful transition to a democratic form of government. Neither is there any doubt that armed groups operating from behind the screen of the demonstrations have no interest in reform. They want to destroy the government.

3. There have been very big demonstrations of support for the government. There is anger at the violence of the armed gangs and anger at external interference and exploitation of the situation by outside governments and the media. In the eyes of many Syrians, their country is again the target of an international conspiracy.

4. Whatever the truth of the accusations made against the security forces, the armed groups have killed hundreds of police, soldiers and civilians, in total probably close to 1000 at this stage. The civilian dead include university professors, doctors and even, very recently, the son of the Grand Mufti of the Republic. The armed gangs have massacred, ambushed, assassinated, attacked government buildings and sabotaged railway lines.

5. Bashar al Assad has a strong base of personal popularity. Although he sits on top of the system it is misleading to call him a dictator. The system itself is the true dictator. Deeply rooted power in Syria – entrenched over five decades – lies in the military and intelligence establishment, and to a lesser degree in the party structure.  These are the true sources of resistance to change. The demonstrations were Bashar’s opportunity to pass on the message, which he did, that the system had to change.

6. In the face of large scale demonstrations earlier this year the government did finally come up with a reform program. This was rejected out of hand by the opposition. No attempt was even made to test the bona fides of the government.

7. The claim that armed opposition to the government has begun only recently is a complete lie. The killings of soldiers, police and civilians, often in the most brutal circumstances, has been going on virtually since the beginning.

8. The armed groups are well armed and well organised. Large shipments of weapons have been smuggled into Syria from Lebanon and Turkey.  They include pump action shotguns, machine guns, Kalashnikovs,RPG launchers, Israeli-made hand grenades and numerous other explosives. It is not clear who is providing these weapons but someone is, and someone is paying for them. Interrogation of captured members of armed gangs points in the direction of Saad al Hariri’s Future Movement. Hariri is a front man for the US and Saudi Arabia, with influence spreading well beyond Lebanon.

9. Armed opposition to the regime largely seems to be sponsored by the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. In 1982 the government ruthlessly crushed an uprising initiated by the Brotherhood in Hama. Many thousands died and part of the city was destroyed. The Brotherhood has two prime objectives: the destruction of the Baathist government and the destruction of the secular state in favor of an Islamic system. It is almost palpably thirsting for revenge.

10. The armed groups have strong support from outside apart from what is already known or indicated. Exiled former Syrian Vice President and Foreign Minister, Abd ul Halim Khaddam, who lives in Paris, has been campaigning for years to bring down the Assad government. He is funded by both the EU and the US. Other exiled activists include Burhan Ghalioun, backed by Qatar as the leader of the ‘national council’ set up in Istanbul. Ghalioun, like Abd ul Halim Khaddam, lives in Paris and like him also, lobbies against the Assad government in Europe and in Washington. Together with Muhammad Riyad al Shaqfa, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria, he is receptive to outside ‘humanitarian intervention’ in Syria on the Libyan model (others are against it). The promotion of the exiles as an alternative government is reminiscent of the way the US used exiled Iraqis (the so-called Iraqi National Congress) ahead of the invasion of Iraq.

11. The reporting by the western media of the situations in Libya and Syria has been appalling. NATO intervention in Libya has been the cause of massive destruction and thousands of deaths. The war, following the invasion of Iraq, is yet another major international crime committed by the governments of the US, Britain and France. The city of Sirte has been bombarded day and night for two weeks without the western media paying any attention to the heavy destruction and loss of life that must have followed. The western media has made no attempt to check reports coming out of Sirte of the bombing of civilian building and the killing of hundreds of people.  The only reason can be that the ugly truth could well derail the whole NATO operation.

12. In Syria the same media has followed the same pattern of misreporting and disinformation. It has ignored or skated over the evidence of widespread killings by armed gangs. It has invited its audience to disbelieve the claims of government and believe the claims of rebels, often made in the name of human rights organisations based in Europe or the US. Numerous outright lies have been told, as they were told in Libya and as they were told ahead of the attack on Iraq. Some at least have been exposed. People said to have been killed by state security forces have turned up alive. The brothers of Zainab al Husni claimed she has been kidnapped by security forces, murdered and her body dismembered. This lurid account, spread by Al Jazeera and Al Arabiyya amongst other outlets, was totally false. She is still alive although now, of course, the propaganda tack is to claim that this is not really her but a double. Al Jazeera, the Guardian and the BBC have distinguished themselves by their blind support of anything that discredits the Syrian government. The same line is being followed by the mainstream media in the US. Al Jazeera, in particular, having distinguished itself with its reporting of the Egyptian revolution, has lost all credibility as an independent Arab world news channel.

13. In seeking to destroy the Syrian government the Muslim Brotherhood has a goal in common with the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia, whose paranoia about Shia Islam reached fever pitch with the uprising in Bahrain. Wikileaks revealed how impatient it was for the US to attack Iran. A substitute target is the destruction of the strategic relationship between Iran, Syria and Hizbullah. The US and the Saudis may want to destroy the Alawi-dominated Baathist regime in Damascus for slightly different reasons, but the important thing is that  they do want to destroy it.

14. The US is doing its utmost to drive Syria into a corner. It is giving financial support to exiled leaders of the opposition. It has tried (and so far failed thanks to Russian and Chinese opposition) to introduce an extensive program of sanctions through the UN Security Council. No doubt it will try again and depending on how the situation develops, it may try, with British and French support, to bring on a no-fly zone resolution opening the door to foreign attack. The situation is fluid and no doubt all sorts of contingency plans are being developed. The White House and the State Department are issuing hectoring statements every other day. Openly provoking the Syrian government, the US ambassador, accompanied by the French ambassador, travelled to Hama before Friday prayers. Against everything that is known about their past record of interference in Middle Eastern countries, it is inconceivable  that the US and  Israel, along with France and Britain, would not be involved in this uprising beyond what is already known.

15. While concentrating on the violence of the Syrian regime, the US, European governments (especially Britain) have totally ignored the violence directed against it. Their own infinitely greater violence, of course, in Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan and other places, doesn’t even come into the picture. Turkey has joined their campaign against Syria with relish, going even further than they have in confronting the Syrian regime. In the space of a few months Turkey’s ‘zero problem’ regional policy has been upended in the most inchoate manner. Turkey eventually lent its support to the NATO attack on Libya, after initially holding back. It has antagonised Iran by its policy on Syria and by agreeing, despite strong domestic opposition, to host a US radar missile ‘defence’ installation clearly directed against Iran. The Americans say its data will be shared with Israel, which has refused to apologise for the attack on the Mavi Marmara, plunging Israeli-Turkish relations into near crisis. So from ‘zero problems’, Turkey now has a regional policy full of problems with Israel, Syria and Iran.

16. While some members of the Syrian opposition have spoken against foreign intervention, the ‘Free Syrian Army’ has said that its aim is to have a no-fly zone declared over northern Syria. A no-fly zone would have to be enforced, and we have seen how this led in Libya to massive infrastructural destruction, the killing of thousands of people and the opening of the door to a new period of western domination.

17. If the Syrian government is brought down, every last Baathist and Alawi will be hunted down. In a government dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood the status of minorities and women would be driven backwards.

18. Through the Syria Accountability Act, and through sanctions which the EU has imposed, the US has been trying to destroy the Syrian government for twenty years. The dismantling of unified Arab states along ethno-religious lines has been an Israel aim for decades. Where Israel goes, the US naturally follows. The fruits of this policy can be seen in Iraq, where an independent state in all but name has been created for the Kurds and where the constitution, written by the US,  separates Iraq’s people into Kurds, Sunni,  Shia and Christian,  destroying the binding logic of Arab nationalism. Iraq has not known a moment’s peace since the British entered Baghdad in 1917. In Syria ethno-religious divisions (Sunni Muslim Arab, Sunni Muslim Kurd, Druze, Alawi and various Christian sects) render it vulnerable in the same way to the promotion of sectarian discord and eventual disintegration as the unified Arab state the French tried to prevent coming into existence in the 1920s.

19. The destruction of the Baathist government would be a strategic victory of unsurpassed value to the US and Israel. The central arch in the strategic relationship between Iran, Syria and Hizbullah will have been destroyed, leaving Hizbullah geographically isolated, with a hostile Sunni Muslim government next door, and leaving Hizbullah and Iran more exposed to a military attack by the US and Israel. Fortuitously or otherwise, the ‘Arab spring’ as it has developed in Syria has placed in their hands a lever by which they may be able to achieve their goal.

20. It is not necessarily the case that a Muslim Brotherhood-dominated government in Egypt or Syria would be hostile to US interests. Wanting to be seen as a respectable member of the international community and another good example of ‘moderate’ Islam, it is likely and certainly possible that an Egyptian government dominated by the Brotherhood would agree to maintain the peace treaty with Israel for as long as it can (i.e. until another large scale attack by Israel on Gaza or Lebanon makes it absolutely unsustainable).

21. A Syrian government dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood would be close to Saudi Arabia and hostile to Iran, Hizbullah and the Shia of Iraq, especially those associated with Muqtada al Sadr. It would pay lip service to the Palestine cause and the liberation of the Golan Heights but its practical policies would be unlikely to be any different from the government it is seeking to destroy.

22. The Syrian people are entitled to demand democracy and to be given it, but in this way and at this cost? Even now, an end to the killing and negotiations on political reform is surely the way forward, not violence which threatens to tear the country apart. Unfortunately, violence and not a negotiated settlement is what too many people inside Syria want and what too many governments watching and waiting for their opportunity also want. No Syrian can ultimately gain from this, whatever they presently think.  Their country is being driven towards a sectarian civil war, perhaps foreign intervention and certainly chaos on an even greater scale than we are now seeing. There will be no quick recovery if the state collapses or can be brought down. Like Iraq, and probably like Libya, looking at the present situation, Syria would enter a period of bloody turmoil that could last for years. Like Iraq, again, it would be completely knocked out of the ring as a state capable of standing up for Arab interests, which means, of course, standing up to the US and Israel.

23. Ultimately, whose interests does anyone think this outcome would serve?


Jeremy Salt is associate professor in Middle Eastern History and Politics at Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey. Previously, he taught at Bosporus University in Istanbul and the University of Melbourne in the Departments of Middle Eastern Studies and Political Science. Professor Salt has written many articles on Middle East issues, particularly Palestine, and was a journalist for The Age newspaper when he lived in Melbourne.

October 6, 2011 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | Comments Off on Truth and Falsehood in Syria