John Stockwell is the author of In Search of Enemies. Gary Shaw is a director of the Assassination Archives and Research Center. Alternative Views was a public access television program broadcast from Austin, Texas. This episode was recorded in 1989.
We express our deepest condolences to the relatives of all 283 passengers and 15 crewmembers – victims of the dreadful tragedy, the downing of MH17 one year ago.
- We condemn the destruction of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 by unidentified individuals and confirm our position in favor of the inevitability of punishment for having committed this criminal act once the investigation is completed.
- We consider the issue of establishing an international tribunal concerning the MH17 catastrophe to be premature and counterproductive. We are convinced that UNSC Resolution 2166 remains the only basis – acceptable to all – for international cooperation in the interests of an independent and transparent investigation of downing the Malaysian airliner. We call for a return to the legal framework of this resolution and for the full implementation of the investigation mechanisms provided for in this document.
- Russia is interested in a thorough and objective international investigation of the catastrophe of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. We do not see this happening at the moment. This is due in part to the fact that Russia has been barred from any substantive participation in the investigation (the involvement of the Russian representative has been purely nominal and has not resulted in his opinion, and the data presented by Russia, being taken into account). Russia has been intentionally excluded from required objective standards of ‘transparency’ by those who conducted the investigation – for example, Russian specialists were essentially denied full and equitable access to the materials which were in the possession of the Joint Investigation Team. The Ukrainian side has refused, up to this moment, to make public the recording of the air-traffic controllers’ radio exchange with the pilots of flight MH17.
- Russia has been insisting on making the investigation transparent to the fullest possible degree, first of all, with respect to the UN Security Council. We have proposed discussing the course of the investigation in the Council, so as to find answers to the most obvious questions (a list of such questions was distributed by Russia to the council in 2014). There has been no reaction to these proposals from members of the council.
- We are forced to conclude that UNSC Resolution 2166, which set out clear and professionally-founded requirements for investigating the MH17 catastrophe, has not been implemented.
- There are many serious questions concerning the organization and conduct of the investigation. Russia’s numerous calls for making use of the UN Security Council to monitor the implementation of UNSC Resolution 2166 have been consistently ignored. The investigation is being conducted without due observance of international aviation standards and without recognition of the key role of ICAO in such matters.
- We are surprised by the fact that the members of the Joint Investigation Team have not undertaken preparatory work on the basis of UNSC Resolution 2166 and have not discussed with the council their plan of further actions. Instead, they have tabled a far-reaching draft resolution under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. UNSC Resolution 2166 does not qualify the downing of the plane as a threat to international peace and security. The tragedy, though horrifying and tragic, was an isolated act of a criminal nature. Thus a trial could be organized on the basis of national, international or mixed law. In any case, this matter does not fall within the Security Council’s purview.
- Russia is surprised by the proposal of adopting – literally within a number of days – such a fundamental decision, without even discussing any other possible options.
- Despite the provisions of UNSC Resolution 2166, the UN secretary-general has not identified and submitted to the council possible options for United Nations support to the investigation.
- Since the day of the disaster we have been witnessing a powerful information attack on our country in international media and fora (including the UNSC). It has been groundlessly claimed that Russia or “separatists controlled by Russia” were responsible for the downing of flight MH17. Such irresponsible and unproven statements are being issued up to this moment. Their aim is to negatively influence the media background surrounding the investigation. We consider such statements and unfounded accusations as an attempt to dissimulate the true facts concerning the catastrophe and to cover up the identities of the true perpetrators of the crime.
- UNSC practice shows that the mere principle of establishing international judicial mechanisms by a decision of the Council has become a subject of serious and robust criticism by many countries and the international legal expert community. The practice of the existing international tribunals – the ICTY (former Yugoslavia) and ICTR (Rwanda) – confirm the validity of such skepticism. The activities of these two judicial organs are costly, inefficient and slow. Their decisions are highly politicized. They have not been able to finish their work – for over two decades – with acceptable results.
- Up to this moment there has been no precedent in creating an international tribunal for bringing to justice those who were accused of perpetrating an act of violence against a civilian airliner: not when a Russian airliner belonging to the Sibir air company was shot down in 2001 by Ukrainian armed forces over the Black Sea; not when the American Navy destroyed Iran Air flight IR655 over the Persian Gulf on July 3, 1988; not after Pan American flight PA103 was blown up as a result of a terrorist act over Lockerbie in 1988, or Cubana de Aviacion flight CU455 over Barbados in 1976; not after Libyan Arab Airlines flight LN114 was shot down as a result of Israeli Air Force action in 1973. No international tribunals were created in other similar circumstances.
- The haste in pushing the adoption of a resolution and its extended scope of reference seem to indicate that the UN Security Council is being used to find a pretext for using the MH17 tragedy to organize a ‘trial’ over Russia on the Ukrainian dossier.
- In view of the above, Russia will not engage in textual work on the draft resolution on the establishment of an international tribunal or its proposed draft charter. At the same time we hope that our partners will understand our position and support completion of the investigation in a transparent manner which would provide a solid basis for a subsequent identification of a suitable trial formula.
*Dr Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Deputy foreign minister (2005-2011).
With debris of Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 still covering the crash site in eastern Ukraine, the investigation of the July 17, 2014 tragedy is surrounded by secrecy. RT talked to international experts and the victims’ families, still waiting for answers.
“He was a good man, a good brother. He promised to take me one day on board of his plane… He wanted to take me to Europe, but instead I brought his body home from Amsterdam on a plane,” the younger sister of flight MH17 captain, Wan Lailatul Mustarah Bt. Wan Hussin told RT Documentary (RTD).
RTD’s team visited Captain’s Wan Amran’s family in Malaysia. They couldn’t talk to the pilot’s wife, as she was sick, suffering from mental problems resulting from the trauma she experienced after her husband was killed in the crash.
“At first the youngest son couldn’t accept this all, he was always saying that his father would come back,” the captain’s older sister, Wan Aini Bt. Wan Hussin, told RTD.
The Malaysian captain’s family was shown a picture of his body, which they say “wasn’t damaged, just slightly burnt.”
“I was able to identify him. The person who cleaned the bodies told us that our brother’s body was in the best condition, with nothing missing,” Wan Lailatul Mustarah Bt. Wan Hussin said. The family, like all victims’ families, were not allowed to open the coffins by the government, they told RTD.
“The government is keeping quiet,” the captain’s sister said, adding that the family doesn’t blame anybody. “We just want and hope somebody will come up with something, especially from the black box,” she said.
“We want the facts, we don’t want propaganda,” Malaysian engineer Azahar Zanudin told RTD. “I’d like to know the real things about the disaster of MH17, because in MH17 case there is something wrong about the investigation,” the engineer said. Blaming the local media for “following the western media” bias, Zanudin has created a Facebook page, where he collects the news about the crash from around the world “for the people to see.”
“You can study the whole world behind your laptop, but the best thing you can do is check the spot yourself,” Dutch blogger Max Van Der Werff told RTD. The blogger has visited the crash site in Ukraine, and said that in the one week he spent there, he had learned more about the crash “than in a whole year behind my laptop.”
“The Netherlands is the official head of the investigation… (but) we are part of NATO, we are part of anti-Russian alliance, so we are not independent investigators,” Van Der Werff said, adding that the MH17 crash should have been investigated by the UN, “not a biased country like the Netherlands.”
Another independent researcher from the West also changed his opinion on the possible cause of the tragedy after visiting the crash site. “I thought that the story of (another) plane taking the Boeing was a propaganda of Russia,” German independent journalist Billy Six shared with RTD. Then he visited the site in eastern Ukraine and spoke to witnesses who claimed they saw military jets flying in the area, but no BUK missile launcher vapor trail.
“When I reached the crash site, my first impression was quite eye-opening. I saw that the mass media coverage claiming that it’s a very large field of 45-50 square kilometers (about 20 square miles) of wreckage – which gives a conclusion to people that the plane was smashed into pieces in the air – is not true,” Billy Six said, adding that he saw just two places where the MH17 wreckage was largely concentrated.
A lot of pieces of evidence can still be found in the area. On finding parts of the Boeing, people bring them to the local administration, which is said to be in touch with Dutch experts.
Whoever launched the rocket is “a different story,” Elmar Gimulla, a Berlin lawyer who represents the families of aviation crashes victims, told RTD. But the Ukrainian government “has failed” and is to blame for allowing the passenger plane to fly above the military zone, he said.
“Only two days before this crash occurred, a military plane was downed by the rebels. In that situation it was a responsibility of the Ukrainian government to close the air space for civilian flights,” Elmar Gimulla told RTD, adding that he had received threatening emails after news broke that he was aiding German families in launching a suit against Ukraine over the MH17 crash. Once, someone from Ukraine describing himself as “a Nazi” wrote the lawyer with the warning: “be careful what you do.”
“There is too much secrecy regarding the investigation,” former Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad told RTD. Saying that the country is “very neutral because there is no real evidence,” the politician said that the investigation of the Malaysia Airlines crash, which claimed the lives of all 298 people on board, was “quite unusual.”“Involvement of Malaysia is limited,” the ex-prime minister said.
Why did Kyiv invade the Donbass region? To that question you might respond quizzically: who did WHAT? Everyone knows it was Russia that invaded Ukraine, right?
Not only that, but Russia isn’t going to stop in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. We all know of Putin’s aggressive territorial ambitions. He wants to recreate the Soviet Union, right?
If you have no personal knowledge of these facts, you can take it from President Barack Obama. Recently he issued a warning at the June 7 summit of the G7. He admonished the world to “stay vigilant and stay focused on the importance of upholding the principles of territorial integrity” regarding Ukraine.
Obama explained that Putin is “in pursuit of a wrong-headed desire to recreate the glories of the Soviet empire.”
However, the president failed to disclose how he knows that Putin has territorial conquest on the agenda. Putin denies it. How do we know who’s right?
The rhetoric of Obama about Ukraine reminds me of the commonly-accepted version of the 2008 war between Russia and Georgia. Reportage then was replete with unsubstantiated allegations, too. Typical headlines exclaimed “Russia Invades Georgia.” Territorial expansion was in the news. President Mikheil Saakashvili was out in front bemoaning the tragedy that was inflicted upon his country.
That’s what set me comparing the ongoing Ukrainian crisis with what happened in Georgia. Despite the assertive headlines, Georgia was another case where reliable facts were hard to find. There were a lot of confident allegations, but few hard facts on the Georgian side of the story.
It came down to a question of who shot first. The Russian counter-version of the story claimed the Georgians started the conflict and that Russia was merely being reactive. The Russian argument was greeted with quite a lot of disbelief.
Later, however, a multinational EU fact-finding mission issued a report that blamed Georgia for the war. A Spiegel Online headline proclaimed, “EU Investigators Debunk Saakashvili’s Lies.” The Russia-Invades-Georgia story was a highly successful fabrication.
Now in Ukraine the question is not who shot first. It’s who invaded who. If we take Obama’s word for it, the headline would be “Russia Invades Eastern Ukraine.”
But I think there’s another side to the story. What is it? It is that maybe Kyiv invaded Donbass, the area in which thousands of Ukrainians have died in horrific battles.
You see, if you think about it, there are two Ukraines. To justify that statement let me paraphrase a Clintonism: it depends on what the meaning of the word Ukraine is. There is a “former Ukraine.” That’s the country that existed before the Maidan uprisings. It was territorially whole, constitutional, and not beset by bloody internal war.
Now there is the new Ukraine, the Ukraine created by the Maidanists. Many observers, like Obama, automatically equate the borders of the new Ukraine with those of the former Ukraine. But that equivalence does not seem to be rooted in reality.
The notion that the new Ukraine is entitled to all the territory of the former Ukraine is quite tenuous. There was no constitutional transfer from the former to the new. Instead, an armed junta took over in Kyiv by force. It chased the democratically-elected president Yanukovych out of the country under threats of death. And it nullified the democratically-instituted constitution.
A so-called interim government was put in place by the junta. It ruled from February 27, 2014 until June 7, 2014 when President Petro Poroshenko assumed office following a democratic election. In the meantime, however, two areas of former Ukraine, Donbass and Crimea, declined to become parts of the new Ukraine. The new Ukraine never had controlled those territories, and the majority of the inhabitants wanted no part of the new Ukraine.
I find it is hard for many people to wrap their minds around the foregoing explanation. The media drumbeat has constantly sounded out the Kyiv-centric version of things. Most casual observers have accepted it as gospel. Passions run high among those immersed in the news reports.
So it might be helpful to strip away the polarized positions that many have taken regarding Ukraine. To sidestep those entrenched views, let’s explore the relevant issues with a hypothetical parallel:
Just say that in Spain there is a revolution whereby people who feel antagonistically toward Catalonians take over by force in Madrid. They throw out the Spanish constitution. There is no legal continuity of government. The junta immediately advances threats that diminish the cultural and linguistic heritage and practices of Catalonians.
In response the Catalonians take charge of their own territory. That region was never under control of the junta. What in the world would broadly legitimize a junta’s claim of a right to control Catalonia?
And what just person would not condemn the junta if it invaded Catalonia, causing thousands of deaths and much economic destruction?
Of course the situation in Ukraine is much more complicated due to the Soviet background, differing World War II related sentiments and legends, and a long-running and well-crafted demonization of Putin in the press. But the principle seems the same to me. The hypothetical Catalonian scenario is the reality of Ukraine today. All of it. Donbass is the real Catalonia.
What this adds up to is that Kyiv indeed invaded Donbass.
All the flap about Russia sending troops and weapons into Eastern Ukraine has things backwards. What’s being called Eastern Ukraine in the press is in reality Donbass. Russia actively denies that it has supported Donbass with military personnel and equipment. I don’t know whether it has or not.
But isn’t whatever Russia might be doing really a moot point? The real issue is that Kyiv invaded Donbass. That’s the source of all the death and destruction. Once again, Russia didn’t shoot first. It was just made the villain by a skillful campaign based on fabrications.
Unfortunately, world attention has been diverted from Kyiv’s transgressions and the horror they have wreaked. It’s been redirected to the reported Russian aggression. I’ve documented in my book Ukraine in the Crosshairs how those allegations are not fact based.
I think it is very important to question why the press, the US, NATO, and the EU have so contorted their depiction of the Ukrainian crisis. Their actions have worked to the detriment of the Ukrainian people.
Ostensibly, the Maidanists claimed from the start to be seeking greater democracy and closer ties to Europe. The junta argued that a proposed EU association agreement was the key. Not everyone agreed. And that divisive issue spawned the internal conflict that precipitated the great Ukrainian crisis.
Look at what’s happened in the junta’s wake:
–Before the escalation of the Maidan protests, there was no threat of a Russian invasion, there were no fighting “separatists,” there was no war in Donbass. Ukraine was whole.
–Sanctions were not causing ruinous economic damage to many countries. Relations between the US and Russia were not in dangerous disarray.
–There were no war-torn Donbass cities, towns, and villages. Thousands of now deceased Ukrainians were still alive.
–And the opportunity for replacing the unpopular leader Yanukovych through a democratic election was on the immediate horizon. Change was in the offing without any need for war.
Take a good look at what’s transpired and tell me what tangible benefit has accrued to the Ukrainian people. The Maidanists set out to improve the population’s lot. But things have gotten worse. Much worse.
It is difficult to imagine why anyone would believe that association with the EU will undo all the damage that conflict has caused. Claims it will help seem illusory. In the end, the horrors inflicted upon Ukrainians by the junta were totally unnecessary, ineffectual, and counterproductive.
What on earth are the motives of the people and governments that promoted and supported all this needless death and destruction?
William Dunkerley is author of Ukraine in the Crosshairs. He is a media business analyst, principal of William Dunkerley Publishing Consultants, and a Senior Fellow at the American University in Moscow.
Speech of the Secretary General of Hezbollah, Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, on the occasion of International Al-Quds Day (Jerusalem), July 10, 2015.
[…] Israel announces its satisfaction with the civil wars ravaging the entire region, and works through its secret services and in different ways to extend these wars. And unfortunately, many countries have been affected by this disaster, and we see what is now being prepared against Algeria, with unfortunately, once again, a sectarian appearance.
At present, I have no detailed information, I do not claim to be a specialist in this matter, but every time that there were problems in some regions, the media spoke of ethnic differences, or ethnic considerations, namely between Arabs and Amazigh (Berber). But I have seen, in recent days, some foreign (Western) channels broadcast in Arabic [BBC Arabic, France 24, etc.] speak of fights between Malikis and Ibadits. That is to say that the West wants to present this as a denominational and sectarian conflict.
This is what (the West) is implementing in the whole of the region.
During this conference (of the Israeli High Command), the impudence of Israelis went as far as calling for an Arab-Israeli alliance to confront terrorism. Conceive of it: Israel calling for an Arab-Israeli alliance to confront terrorism! And what is terrorism for them? Iran and the Resistance movements. Now, so that the imposture not be too blatant, they put Daech (the Islamic State) with us. But of course they did not include the Al-Nusra Front, or Al-Qaeda or other movements like Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, or Boko Haram or… or… or…
So this hypocrite Israel claims it shows solidarity with Egypt in the Sinai, and it incites the conflict between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, especially with the Hamas movement. In Syria, Israel presents itself as the protector of the Druze, while it fully supports the Al-Nusra Front and armed takfiri groups that threaten all Syrians, not just the Druze. This is pure hypocrisy. This is hypocrisy and deception.
But regardless of the details, Israel that is the mother of terrorism, the source of terrorism, the terrorist country, the entity that was founded by a terrorist organisation, and, to use philosophical concepts, the only state whose very essence is terrorism, whose nature is terrorism, that Israel presents itself as fighting against terrorism? Do you see what times we are in? The Israel that just a year ago, led the most merciless war and perpetrated the most heinous crimes, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Gaza, so that the reports of international institutions that, at all times, exonerated Israel, have failed, this time, to conceal the truth: the number of women and children killed by Israel, the number of houses destroyed, all the blood of Gaza civilians that was spilt. And after that, it dares to present itself as a civilised country, and claims to be part of a project or an Axis fighting against terrorism. Of course, this is the pinnacle of impudence.
And we must be careful not to mislead ourselves, because unfortunately there are people who may sometimes, because of the impact of terrorism on them, say “What do I care, about Israel? My priority, is this terrorism that is attacking me!” For the existing takfiri terrorism today is among the major adversities faced by our (Muslim) Community. Because (these terrorists) do not fight on a political basis, or for a political project, but on the basis of religious affiliation, or current of thought, or sectarian affiliation. And all the killings that are currently taking place throughout the region are committed on this basis, and not on a political basis or for a political struggle.
Well, the last point that shows that Israel is our enemy, who does it consider to be a threat? Who according to him is a threat? There is only one direction, only one country which represents a threat for Israel: after what happened in Syria, this country (Syria) was removed from the list of threats. All that remains is Iran. The Islamic Republic of Iran. That is why we have seen, during the (Israeli) conference of Herzliya, before, and after, that the spirit of Israel is completely obsessed and captured by Iran, by the Islamic Republic: by its nuclear program, the development of its ballistic capacity, its economy, its democracy, the support of its people for its leaders, the health of its leaders and the health of the country… For everything related to Iran, one can see Israel secure its full attention and work on it, both inside and outside of Iran, and at all international forums. The only target for Israel is the Islamic Republic of Iran, and with it, the Resistance movements.
As for Israel, despite all our consideration and our respect for the Resistance movements and for ourselves (there is no harm if we manifest our respect for ourselves!), the Resistance movements have not reached the stage where they are, from Israel’s point of view, an existential danger. It is not shameful to say the truth, and that is the truth. Yes, the Resistance movements now represent a strategic danger, but they have not reached the point of representing an existential threat (to Israel). Today, on the whole of the face of the Earth, the only state, the only entity, the only thing that is considered by Israel as an existential danger to them is the Islamic Republic of Iran. These are undeniable truths. If someone claims things are different, may he come (and expose his analysis to us).
And this is why Israel incites the entire world against Iran: the United States, Congress… Netanyahu is ready to ruin his relations with the White House by urging Congress against Iran… Israel incites the Arabs (against Iran)… And many of these Arab regimes already have, by nature, such calculations, such a mentality, such a vision (hostile to Iran). This is the reality.
Question: does this not represent, today (I raise this point), if we calm somewhat, as Arabs, as Muslims, as Palestinians, as peoples of the region, if someone relaxes a bit and calmly reflects, away from the bullets, the suffering, the screaming, the problems and the Arab channels, and wonders seriously: Why? Why Israel… In all the Arab and Islamic world, worldwide, with its billion and a half Muslims, its states, its armies, its peoples… Israel fears no one, cares about no one, does not pay attention to anyone except Iran. Why Iran? Should we not pose this question on the occasion of the International Day of Al-Quds (Jerusalem)? Why this total hostility against Iran on the part of the Zionists? Why do we see nothing of this sensitivity, this preoccupation, this anxiety, this fear, this precaution, for example on the part of Israel with regard to Saudi Arabia? Or in respect to any other Arab regime? So that no one say that today, Sayed (Nasrallah) was bitter against Saudi Arabia. No, it is a logical and natural question: why?
Today, at this very moment, the Arab countries and the Arab armies buy billions of dollars of aircraft, missiles, artillery, anti-tank weapons, long-range missiles… Israel does not care in the least because there is a certainty, a confidence, a guarantee, not just a written commitment: they have absolute confidence and certainty in this official Arab mentality, and these official Arab regimes, to the point of having no need for guarantees or written commitments. And experience is the best proof: for 67 years, what for example have the Arabs done, most of them? In short, because Israel knows with certainty that the official Arab regimes have sold them Palestine, Al-Quds (Jerusalem) and the Palestinian people. And the proof is what has happened for 67 years and to this day.
Well, this year, they paid a visit to Gaza: have Gazan homes been rebuilt? What is the situation of the wounded of Gaza? Where is the blockade of Gaza? How are the people of Gaza? If a small portion of the billions of dollars being spent on the war against Yemen, the war against Syria, the war against Iraq and the repression of the populations, was spent on Gaza, would we not today have Gaza in a more acceptable situation? Are they not part of Palestine? Are they not part of the (Islamic) Community? And forgive me for expressing myself again like this, but today we are forced to speak in these terms, are they not a part of the Sunni community? Are they not Muslims, who fast and pray? Why are they abandoned? Because there is an official Arab decision to sell Palestine (to Israel). Palestine has no existence (for them). And the Palestinians are subjected to torture and live in ruins because of it.
And because Israel also knows that the takfiri project, which is sponsored by some Arab countries, does not care about Palestine and Al-Quds (Jerusalem), and that its battle is on other fields, and that this takfiri project completely serves Israeli interests and destroyed for them, without them making any effort, Syria and Iraq, it participated in the destruction of Yemen and spreads sectarian and ethnic conflicts among all Muslims and Christians, tearing apart our (Islamic) Community, and tearing through the national and social fabric in each of our countries, and freely (for Israel).
Who then still carries the flag (of the Palestinian cause)? I do not say this to praise Iran, but to come to a stance. I request a stance to be taken. The one who continues to carry the flag, to face the enemy and refuse to recognise the very existence of this entity, even though the negotiations and the agreement on the nuclear issue should be stopped because of this, whether the current discussions in Vienna that last longer than expected or the ones to come. You will remember that Netanyahu asked that the agreement include the recognition of the existence of Israel by Iran. And I tell you: if the entire nuclear dossier should be closed and Iran be given everything it wanted on the nuclear issue, including what she did not even dare to dream, if the condition was (only) the acknowledgment by Iran of Israel’s existence, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Republic of Imam Khomeini, under the leadership of His Eminence Imam Khamenei, through his government, the Chamber of Deputies and his people, would never accept such a clause, as Iran would leave its religion by doing so. They know that this is Iran.
And because Iran continues to face the enemy, it is Iran who support the Axis of Resistance, its states, its peoples and its countries, politically, morally, materially, financially, in terms of arms, on the roof and in full sunlight (in plain sight). And this is something that nobody dares to do, or, so as not to exaggerate, that many are afraid to do. Despite the severe sanctions that Iran suffered for over 30 years, and the threat of permanent war and bombing of its facilities. Because Iran is such a threat to Israel, and for the project of American domination over the region, military wars have been fought against it in the past, and media wars, political, psychological and economic wars are conducted against it, wars involving the instruments and allies of the United States in the region, who constituted by their acts the best support for Israel for decades.
On this International Day of Al-Quds (Jerusalem), allow me to speak frankly with Muslims, Christians, Arabs, Palestinians, with the Resistance movements, and whoever supports and sustains the Palestinian cause: you cannot be with Palestine but by being alongside the Islamic Republic of Iran. And if you’re the enemies of the Islamic Republic of Iran, then you are the enemies of Palestine and Al-Quds (Jerusalem). Why is this? These are not empty slogans. Because the only hope remaining after God the Exalted and Most High, to recover Palestine and Al-Quds (Jerusalem), is this Islamic Republic, its help and support to the people and the Resistance movements in the region, and primarily to the Palestinian people. As long as the world is divided into poles, military camps and positions, we must be clear and straightforward: if we want to be serious and sincere, if we leave aside the partisanship, if we want to be logical, this is the logical vision: this enemy (Israel) unanimously recognises what I say, there is no one in Israel that says anything else about the Islamic Republic of Iran.
As for attempts to escape this historic and decisive stance on the pretext of the “Persian project”… There is no “Persian project”! It is deception to keep people away from a genuine and sincere ally of the Arabs and Muslims and all peoples of the region, namely Iran. Everything concerning a Safavid project is nothing but empty words, exhumed from ancient history. Everything about evoking an ostensible Shiite crescent (is futile)… And besides, Iran is now accused in Yemen, but the (alleged) crescent would be distorted by such a movement. The crescent was to be Iran-Iraq-Syria-Lebanon: how would the crescent reach Yemen? Who are they trying to fool? These are just lies concocted by the corrupt official Arab mentality which has abandoned Palestine and Al-Quds (Jerusalem), and if anyone approaches to lend a helping hand to Palestine and Al-Quds, they will present them as an enemy, as evidenced by the fact that the Shah (of Iran) was not their enemy when he was an ally of Israel [although he was also Shiite]. But now they want to present Iran as an enemy. How to achieve this? Pretend that there is a Shiite crescent, they want to spread Shiism, it is a Persian project, it is a Safavi project, etc. These are absurd and empty statements.
Translated from Arabic by Sayed Hasan
Translated from French by Jenny Bright
Who shot down MH-17? Somebody knows
Once upon a time CIA Stations overseas received what was referred to as an “Operating Directive” which prioritized intelligence targets for the upcoming year based on their importance vis-à-vis national security. Prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union, penetrating Moscow and preventing the KGB’s repaying the favor in kind loomed large as Russia and its allies represented the only genuine threat that could in fact destroy much of the United States. Today’s Russia retains much of that military capability but somehow the perception that you have to deal with what is important first has been lost on our policymakers, possibly due to a false impression inside the beltway that Moscow no longer matters.
A working relationship with Moscow that seeks to mitigate potential areas of conflict is not just important, it is essential. Russian willingness to cooperate with the west in key areas to include the Middle East is highly desirable in and of itself but the bottom line continues to be Moscow’s capability to go nuclear against Washington if it is backed into a corner. Unfortunately, U.S. administrations since Bill Clinton have done their best to do just that, placing Russia on the defensive by encroaching on its legitimate sphere of influence through the expansion of NATO. Washington’s meddling has also led to interfering in Russia’s domestic politics as part of a misguided policy of “democracy building” as well as second guessing its judiciary and imposing sanctions through the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012. The damage to relations has been aggravated by the ill-advised commentary from American politicians on the make, including Senator John McCain’s dismissal of Russia as “a gas station masquerading as a country.”
One should legitimately be concerned over Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inflicting damage on his country’s fledgling democracy through fraud, corruption, media clampdowns and exploitation of a malleable legal system. One might also object to exactly how Russia asserted its interests using force against neighboring states Georgia and Ukraine. But that does not change the bottom line, which continues to be that functional relations between Moscow and Washington are a sine qua non. Russia’s domestic politics are none of our business and the alleged grievances of Georgia and Ukraine are undeniably a lot less purely attributable to Russian actions than the White House and Congress would have us believe, with U.S. interference in both countries clearly a major contributing factor to the resulting instability.
Assuming that one accepts that lessening bilateral tension over the Ukraine is a desirable objective, the White House might soon have a good opportunity to demonstrate that it is willing to deal fairly with the Russian leadership in Moscow. The Dutch Government’s Safety Board will in October make public its long awaited report detailing its assessment of last year’s downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH-17 over Ukraine. The investigation was conducted with the cooperation of the Ukrainian and Malaysian authorities, but did not include a thorough survey of the crash site, which was and still is considered too dangerous. According to leaks of its conclusions, the report will admit that there is no conclusive evidence regarding who is responsible for the shoot down but it will nevertheless make a circumstantial case that the pro-Russian separatists are the most likely suspects in spite of the fact that there is no hard technical or intelligence related evidence supporting that judgment. Blaming the separatists will, by implication, also blame Moscow.
At this point, the United States, which together with other interested parties has been reviewing a copy of the report in draft, does not intend to present its own findings but will instead go along with the Dutch conclusions. Among former intelligence, military and Foreign Service officers there has been considerable discussion of the significance of Washington’s standing on the sidelines regarding the findings. To be sure, there are a number of rumors and allegations circulating relating to what is actually known or not know about the shoot down.
According to some sources, the U.S. intelligence community disagrees over the likelihood of the alleged Russian role and has suggested as much privately to the Dutch. Some analysts who have looked at all the considerable body of information that has been collected relating to the downing actually believe that the most likely candidate might well be the then governor of the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast Ihor Kolomoisky, an oligarch billionaire who is an Israeli-Ukrainian dual national. Kolomoisky is known to employ Israeli mercenaries as advisers and has personally organized and paid for militias fighting the Russian separatists. He would have been strongly motivated to create an incident that could plausibly be blamed on the Russians or their surrogates and he had the means to do so. The government in Kiev acting independently also had the resources and motive to shoot down the plane and blame it on Moscow.
The dominant narrative that is still circulating widely suggests that either a direct or enabling Russian role is a given based on the claimed origin of the Buk missile, technical analysis of the plume and trajectory, and the military units that were known to be in place or moving at the time. And there was also the apparent separatist bragging on communications intercepts about shooting down a transport plane. This was the explanation that surfaced shortly after the downing, that was heavily promoted by the Ukrainian government and the media and that has been much favored by the international punditry ever since.
The third option of how to explain the shoot down is, of course, the Dutch approach: we think it was the Russians but we can’t prove it. That is an easy choice to make as it really says nothing, which is possibly why it is being favored by the White House.
But if it is actually true that there has been considerable dissent on the findings, the tacit acceptance of a possibly unreliable and essentially unsustainable report by the White House will have significant impact on relations with Russia. It constitutes a disturbing rejection of possibly accurate intelligence analysis in favor of a politically safe alternative explanation. It recalls the politicization of intelligence that included Robert Gates’ Soviet assessments of the 1980s, John McLaughlin’s tergiversation regarding Iraq, and, most recently, Michael Morell’s over the top hyping of the threat posed by political Islam. It is a return to a Manichean view of the world as “them” and “us” with the implication that intelligence professionals are willing to restrain their dissent on an important issue if it serves to advance the current war of words with Russia.
To be sure, deep sixing intelligence assessments that contradict policies that the White House is intent on pursuing anyway buys congenial access to the President and his advisers but it comes at the cost of diminishing the ability of the intelligence community to provide objective and reliable information in a timely fashion, which is at least in theory why it exists at all. Producing honest intelligence will, on the contrary, strengthen both the reputations and credibility of all involved.
If Russia is indeed to blame for the airplane shoot down it should be held accountable, but it is up to the U.S. government to put its cards on the table and be clear about what it does and does not know. The original claims that Russia was involved were based on snap judgments based on bits of information that had been obtained immediately after the event, little of which has been subsequently corroborated through either satellite imagery or electronic and signal intercepts. Since that time the German BND intelligence service has expressed its doubts that the missile used in the shoot down could have been supplied by Russia and has also claimed that photos provided by the Ukrainian government as part of the investigation had been “doctored.” There have also been reports regarding a Ukrainian fighter plane being in the area of the airliner as well as the nearby presence of Ukrainian ground to air missile units. Reported conversations among separatist claiming credit were eventually determined to be composite fakes produced by the Ukrainian intelligence services. Presumably U.S. intelligence has also taken a long and hard look at all the evidence or lack thereof but it is being quiet regarding what it has determined.
It is important to get this right because the potential damage goes far beyond the role of intelligence or even who might have been responsible for the downing of an airliner one year ago. As the relationship with Russia is of critical importance and should be regarded as the number one national security issue for the United States, it is essential that the Dutch conclusions be aggressively challenged if there is even the slightest possibility that Russia is blameless.
One does not have to be a fan of Vladimir Putin to appreciate that the nearly continuous efforts being promoted within mostly neoconservative circles to both delegitimize and confront him and his regime do not serve any conceivable American national interest. In an Independence Day phone call to President Obama, President Putin called for a working relationship with the United States based on “equality and respect,” which should, under the circumstances, be a given. Americans have been lied into intervention and war more than once over the past fifteen years and it should be clear to all that any contrived crisis based on an erroneous conclusion regarding a shot down airliner that develops into an armed conflict with Russia will have unimaginable consequences. A skeptical American public and international community must demand that any MH-17 report should reflect a full assessment, to include any dissent from its conclusions registered by the United States intelligence community. Any information at variance with the conventional view, particularly anything that suggests that there might be other interested parties who had both the means and compelling interest to shoot down a civilian airliner, must become a part of the discussion.
The Dutch investigation into the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine last July has failed to uncover conclusive proof of precisely who was responsible for the deaths of the 298 passengers and crew but is expected to point suspicions toward the ethnic Russian rebels, fitting with the West’s long-running anti-Russian propaganda campaign.
A source who has been briefed on the outlines of the investigation said some U.S. intelligence analysts have reached a contrary conclusion and place the blame on “rogue” elements of the Ukrainian government operating out of a circle of hard-liners around one of Ukraine’s oligarchs. Yet, according to this source, the U.S. analysts will demur on the Dutch findings, letting them stand without public challenge.
Throughout the Ukraine crisis, propaganda and “information warfare” have overridden any honest presentation of reality – and the mystery around the MH-17 disaster has now slipped into that haze of charge and counter-charge. Many investigative journalists, including myself, have been rebuffed in repeated efforts to get verifiable proof about the case or even informational briefings.
In that sense, the MH-17 case stands as an outlier to the usual openness that surrounds inquiries into airline disasters. The Obama administration’s behavior has been particularly curious, with its rush to judgment five days after the July 17, 2014 shoot-down, citing sketchy social media posts to implicate the ethnic Russian rebels and indirectly the Russian government but then refusing requests for updates.
But why the later secrecy? If Director of National Intelligence James Clapper decided that unverified information about the shoot-down could be released five days after the event, why would his office then decide to keep the U.S. public in the dark as more definitive data became available?
Over the past 11 months, the DNI’s office has offered no updates on the initial assessment, with a DNI spokeswoman even making the absurd claim that U.S. intelligence had made no refinements of its understanding about the tragedy since July 22, 2014.
I’m told that the reason for the DNI’s reversal from openness to secrecy was that U.S. intelligence analysts found no evidence that the Russian government had given the rebels sophisticated anti-aircraft missiles capable of downing an aircraft at 33,000 feet, the altitude of MH-17, and that an examination of U.S. satellite and electronic intelligence instead implicated extremists linked to Ukraine’s U.S.-backed regime, although not to Kiev’s political leadership.
At that point, admitting to an erroneous rush to judgment would have embarrassed the administration and undermined the “public diplomacy” campaign around the MH-17 case. By blaming Russia and its President Vladimir Putin last summer, the Obama administration whipped Europe into an anti-Russian frenzy and helped win the European Union’s support for economic sanctions against Russia. Keeping Putin on the defensive is a top U.S. priority.
As one senior U.S. government official explained to me, information warfare was the only area in the Ukraine crisis where Washington felt it had an edge over Moscow, which benefited from a host of other advantages, such as geography, economic and cultural ties, and military pressure.
It also appears that right-wing Ukrainian political forces, which seized power in the Feb. 22, 2014 coup, have understood the value of propaganda, including “false flag” operations that pin the blame for atrocities on their opponents. One of the most successful may have been the mysterious sniper attacks on Feb. 20, 2014, that slaughtered both police and protesters in Kiev’s Maidan square, with the violence immediately blamed on President Viktor Yanukovych and used to justify his overthrow two days later.
Later independent investigations indicated that extreme right-wing elements seeking Yanukovych’s ouster were more likely responsible. Two European Union officials, Estonia’s Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton, were revealed discussing in a phone call their suspicions that elements of the protesters were responsible for the shootings.
“So there is a stronger and stronger understanding that behind snipers it was not Yanukovych, it was somebody from the new coalition,” Paet told Ashton, as reported by the UK Guardian. [A worthwhile documentary on this mystery is “Maidan Massacre.”]
Even U.S. officials have faulted the new regime for failing to conduct a diligent investigation to determine who was to blame for the sniper attack. During a rousing anti-Russian speech in Kiev last month, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power inserted one criticism of the post-coup regime – that “investigations into serious crimes such as the violence in the Maidan and in Odessa [where scores of ethnic Russians were burned alive] have been sluggish, opaque, and marred by serious errors – suggesting not only a lack of competence, but also a lack of will to hold the perpetrators accountable.”
In other words, regarding the Maidan sniper massacre, the Kiev regime wasn’t willing to reveal evidence that might undermine the incident’s use as a valuable propaganda ploy. That attitude has been shared by the mainstream Western media which has sought to glue white hats on the post-coup regime and black hats on the ethnic Russian rebels who supported Yanukovych and have resisted the new power structure.
For instance, since Yanukovych’s ouster nearly 1½ years ago, The New York Times and other mainstream outlets have treated reports about the key role played in the coup regime by neo-Nazis and other far-right nationalists as “Russian propaganda.” However, this week, the Times finally acknowledged the importance of these extremists in Kiev’s military operations. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Ukraine Merges Nazis and Islamists.”]
A similar propaganda fog has enveloped the MH-17 investigation, with the lead investigators – the Dutch, British, Australians and Ukrainians – all firmly in the pro-Kiev and anti-Moscow camp. (Specialists from the United States, Russia and Malaysia have also been involved in the inquiry.)
Not surprisingly, leaders in Ukraine and Australia, as well, didn’t wait for the investigation to reach a conclusion before placing the blame on Putin. Last October, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott used an Australian football term in vowing to “shirtfront” Putin about his supposed guilt in the MH-17 case.
Keeping the later U.S. intelligence analysis secret also allows for the Putin-did-it propaganda campaigns to go forward in mainstream media outlets and various propaganda fronts. A good example was the Australian “60 Minutes” report in May presenting bogus video evidence supposedly corroborating “Russia-did-it” claims made by British blogger Eliot Higgins.
While the segment appeared to be authoritative – supposedly proving that Putin was responsible for mass murder – a closer examination showed that the program had relied on video fakery to mislead its viewers. The key scene supposedly matching up a video of a getaway Buk anti-aircraft missile battery with landmarks in the rebel-controlled city of Luhansk didn’t match up at all. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “You Be the Judge.”]
After I revealed the fraud by showing how the two scenes were almost entirely different, the Australian show fell back on a claim that one utility pole in the getaway video looked like a utility pole that its reporting team has found in Luhansk. It is perhaps a sign of how crazy the anti-Russian propaganda has gotten that a major news program could feel that it can make such an absurd argument and get away with it.
In a rational world, matching up the two scenes would require all the landmarks to fit, when in this case none of them did. Further, to cite similarities between two utility poles as evidence ignored the fact that most utility poles look alike and there was the additional fact that none of the area around the two utility poles matched at all, including a house behind one that didn’t appear in the scene of the other. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “A Reckless Stand-upper on MH-17.”]
However, as long as the U.S. government’s comprehensive intelligence information on MH-17 is kept secret, such sleights of hand can continue to work. I’m told that the Dutch report is likely to contain similar circumstantial claims, citing such things as the possible angle of the fired missile, to suggest that the ethnic Russian rebels were at fault.
Last October, the Dutch Safety Board’s initial report answered very few questions, beyond confirming that MH-17 apparently was destroyed by “high-velocity objects that penetrated the aircraft from outside.” Other key questions went begging, such as what to make of the Russian military radar purporting to show a Ukrainian SU-25 jetfighter in the area, a claim that the Kiev government denied.
Either the Russian radar showed the presence of a jetfighter “gaining height” as it closed to within three to five kilometers of the passenger plane – as the Russians claimed in a July 21 press conference – or it didn’t. The Kiev authorities insisted that they had no military aircraft in the area at the time.
But the 34-page Dutch report was silent on the jetfighter question, although noting that the investigators had received Air Traffic Control “surveillance data from the Russian Federation.” The report also was silent on the “dog-not-barking” issue of whether the U.S. government had satellite surveillance that revealed exactly where the supposed ground-to-air missile was launched and who may have fired it.
The Obama administration has asserted knowledge about those facts, but the U.S. government has withheld satellite photos and other intelligence information that could presumably corroborate the charge. Curiously, too, the Dutch report said the investigation received “satellite imagery taken in the days after the occurrence.” Obviously, the more relevant images in assessing blame would be aerial photography in the days and hours before the crash.
The Dutch report’s reference to only post-crash satellite photos was also odd because the Russian military released a number of satellite images purporting to show Ukrainian government Buk missile systems north of the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk before the attack, including two batteries that purportedly were shifted 50 kilometers south of Donetsk on July 17, the day of the crash, and then removed by July 18.
Russian Lt. Gen. Andrey Kartopolov called on the Ukrainian government to explain the movements of its Buk systems and why Kiev’s Kupol-M19S18 radars, which coordinate the flight of Buk missiles, showed increased activity leading up to the July 17 shoot-down.
The Ukrainian government countered these questions by asserting that it had “evidence that the missile which struck the plane was fired by terrorists, who received arms and specialists from the Russian Federation,” according to Andrey Lysenko, spokesman for Ukraine’s Security Council, using Kiev’s preferred term for the rebels.
Lysenko added: “To disown this tragedy, [Russian officials] are drawing a lot of pictures and maps. We will explore any photos and other plans produced by the Russian side.” But Ukrainian authorities have failed to address the Russian evidence except through broad denials.
Where’s the Intelligence?
On July 29, 2014, amid escalating rhetoric against Russia from U.S. government officials and the Western news media, the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity called on President Obama to release what evidence the U.S. government had on the shoot-down, including satellite imagery.
“As intelligence professionals we are embarrassed by the unprofessional use of partial intelligence information,” the group wrote. “As Americans, we find ourselves hoping that, if you indeed have more conclusive evidence, you will find a way to make it public without further delay. In charging Russia with being directly or indirectly responsible, Secretary of State John Kerry has been particularly definitive. Not so the evidence. His statements seem premature and bear earmarks of an attempt to ‘poison the jury pool.’”
However, the Obama administration has failed to make public any intelligence information that would back up its earlier suppositions or any new evidence at all. One source told me that U.S. intelligence analysts are afraid to speak out about the information that contradicts the original rush to judgment because of Obama’s aggressive prosecution of whistleblowers.
If the Dutch final report emerges with carefully circumscribed circumstantial evidence implicating the pro-Russian rebels, the nuances will surely be carved away when the report is fed into the existing propaganda machinery. The conventional wisdom about “Russian guilt” will be firmed up.
A sense of how that will go can be seen in a recent New York Times article by David Herszenhorn on June 29:
“Pro-Russian separatist leaders in the eastern Ukrainian region of Luhansk have blocked access to Dutch law enforcement officials pursuing an investigation into the downing of a Malaysian jetliner nearly a year ago, the Netherlands Public Prosecution Office said. …
“The obstruction by separatist officials prompted the investigators, from the Dutch National Police and Ministry of Defense, to cut short their field work in Ukraine without conducting research into cellphone towers and cellular networks in the region, the public prosecution office said. …
“Based on preliminary analysis and intelligence, including from the United States government, the aircraft was widely believed to have been destroyed by a surface-to-air missile fired from territory controlled by Russian-backed separatist forces.”
While the thrust of Herszenhorn’s article made the ethnic Russian rebels look bad – and foreshadows some of the points likely to be featured in the Dutch investigative report – perhaps the most significant word in the story is “preliminary.” While it’s true that the U.S. government’s “preliminary” report on July 22, 2014, implicated the rebels, the more pertinent question – not asked by the Times – is why there has been no refinement of that “preliminary” report.
The Dutch Safety Board issued a brief progress report on July 1 noting that it had submitted a draft of its final report to “accredited representatives of the participating States on … June 2,” giving them 60 days to submit comments before a “definitive final” report is published in October.
Meanwhile, Dutch prosecutors handling the criminal investigation say they have no specific suspects, but lead investigator Fred Westerbeke claims the probe has a number of “persons of interest.” Westerbeke said the criminal probe will likely run through the end of the year or later.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).
The United States has been running a particularly reckless and transparent bluff on the world.
‘We must defeat ISIS’ has been the repetitive mantra bellowed from pulpits and podiums by deceitful US officials. But this bit of shameless Orwellian newspeak is coming from the very same rogue policy makers who have been the primary source of arms and largesse to that group and its sordid affiliates across Syria, Libya, Iraq and elsewhere.
Republican Senator Rand Paul called his own party’s bluff in a summer 2014 interview with CNN, telling the incompetent host that “we [the US government] are allied with ISIS in Syria.” “[ISIS] would not be empowered in Iraq if we hadn’t been providing them a safe haven in Syria by arming their allies,” the Senator said, adding that “we are where we are because we armed the Syrian rebels,” the preponderance of whom are Wahhabi-Salafist extremists. Paul recently doubled down on that line of reasoning, informing another interviewer in May 2015 that “hawks in my party” are responsible for the rise of ISIS because of their purposefully intransigent policy of “distributing arms indiscriminately” to Syrian and Libyan militants in their fanatical drive to depose Gaddafi and Assad.
Paul’s words were confirmed by a recently unearthed US Defense Intelligence Agency report that, in true Machiavellian style, welcomed an ISIS-controlled “Salafist principality in eastern Syria” to serve as a buffer to “isolate the Syrian regime” and roll back Iran. The US defense analysts, writing at the outset of the rebel insurgency in Syria in 2012, acknowledged that the anti-Assad coalition of militants that Washington was enthusiastically supporting were dominated by Salafist extremist elements linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda.
A June 2015 Washington Post report revealed the extent of the CIA’s covert campaign to train, arm and deploy mercenaries against Assad in Syria, pegging it as one of the Agency’s “largest covert operations, with a budget approaching $1 billion a year.” The article’s authors Greg Miller and Karen DeYoung write:
“At $1 billion, Syria-related operations account for about $1 of every $15 in the CIA’s overall budget, judging by spending levels revealed in documents The Washington Post obtained from former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.
“U.S. officials said the CIA has trained and equipped nearly 10,000 fighters sent into Syria over the past several years — meaning that the agency is spending roughly $100,000 per year for every anti-Assad rebel who has gone through the program.
“The CIA declined to comment on the program or its budget. But U.S. officials defended the scale of the expenditures, saying the money goes toward much more than salaries and weapons and is part of a broader, multibillion-dollar effort involving Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey to bolster a coalition of militias known as the Southern Front of the Free Syrian Army.
“Much of the CIA’s money goes toward running secret training camps in Jordan, gathering intelligence to help guide the operations of agency-backed militias and managing a sprawling logistics network used to move fighters, ammunition and weapons into the country.”
After weeding through all the phony anti-ISIS bluster emanating from the White House, it becomes clear that Washington’s overarching strategy is to play all Muslim groups and factions in the Middle East off against each other in what amounts to a sinister divide and conquer gambit that ultimately serves the interests of Israel. In 2007, years before the present crisis in Syria and Iraq, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah identified this genocidal US/Israeli-led scheme against the region in an interview with American journalist Seymour Hersh. He told the award-winning reporter that the Bush administration was working in tandem with Israel to instigate a cataclysmic civil war – something akin to the Thirty Years’ War in Europe – in the Muslim world. Nasrallah said that this fitna, an Arabic term which means “insurrection and fragmentation within Islam,” was being deliberately fomented by US and Israeli intelligence agencies to significantly weaken the region and allow the Zionist-American imperialists to achieve full-spectrum dominance.
According to Hersh’s excellent March 2007 reportage published in the New Yorker under the title “The Redirection,” the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia began laying the groundwork for a rebel invasion of Syria that same year. The US and Israel planned to enlist radical Wahhabi-Salafist elements backed by Saudi Arabian largesse as proxy mercenaries against Damascus in a wider effort to undermine Assad and precipitate the demise of Iran. Hersh outlined the criminal plan in these terms:
“To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has cooperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.”
Citing officials close to the Bush administration, Hersh explained that the CIA sought to employ radical anti-Syrian militants clandestinely “by leaving the execution or the funding to the Saudis, or by finding other ways to work around the normal congressional appropriations process.” Hersh’s sources told him that “the Saudi government, with Washington’s approval, would provide funds and logistical aid to weaken the government of President Bashir Assad, of Syria.” Using the Saudis as a conduit would, in turn, give Washington plausible deniability. “The Israelis,” Hersh wrote, “believe that putting such pressure on the Assad government will make it more conciliatory and open to negotiations.”
In an article titled “The Pentagon plan to ‘divide and rule’ the Muslim world,” security scholar Nafeez Ahmed highlighted the contents of a 2008 RAND Corporation report which openly elucidated this belligerent strategy of tension. The Pentagon-backed study group advocated playing all sides and every side in the Muslim world against one another in order to fracture and disorient opposition to Western and Israeli imperialism in the region. The Orwellian strategists identified essentially all Arabs and Muslims – Salafists, Shiites, Sunnis, secular Arab nationalists, communists, Baathists, etc. – as adversaries to be pitted against each other. Already-existing rivalries and fissures would be stoked up and exploited to their maximum potential.
RAND’s divide and conquer objectives are eerily similar to the vile prescriptions of Oded Yinon, an Israeli strategist who authored a geopolitical screed entitled “A Strategy for Israel in the 1980s,” published in 1982, which called for the break-up of all Arab states surrounding Israel into fragmented polities along ethnic and religious lines. “Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation will assist us in the short run,” Yinon expounded in his Machiavellian manifesto, “and will shorten the way to the more important aim of breaking up Iraq into denominations as in Syria and in Lebanon.” The Israeli militarist gleefully cited the Iran-Iraq war as a prime example of the type of internecine conflict Israel hopes to ignite, exacerbate and capitalize on to achieve its Zionist imperium. In a June 2014 television interview, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a dedicated Jewish imperialist, explicated his Yinonite ideology, emphasizing Tel Aviv’s desire to have Sunni and Shiite Muslims fight each other and thereby cancel each other out while Israel reaps the spoils.
It’s impossible to ignore the primacy of Israel in all of this unscrupulous intrigue. Netanyahu’s Likud Party is not only committed to eliminating what’s left of Palestine, but they also harbor expansionistic aspirations that go beyond Israel’s current borders – what some have called “Greater Israel.” Netanyahu’s seminal role in conceiving the rancid doctrines of the ‘war on terror’ itself, alongside the inescapable reality that the neocons who dominate the US foreign policy establishment are first and foremost loyal to Israel, is paramount in understanding the ‘method to the madness.’
While Western-backed ISIS militants behead their way to Damascus, US foreign policy hawks are now plotting the literal dismemberment of Syria as a whole in accordance with the Zionist neocons’ balkanization plan.
In its latest release, the Brookings Institution, an influential pro-Israel, pro-US Empire think tank, has audaciously called for the break-up of Syria, advancing an incremental strategy to facilitate a stealth US invasion and takeover of the Arab country in the service of Israel.
In the June 2015 report titled “Deconstructing Syria: Towards a regionalized strategy for a confederal country,” neocon ideologue Michael O’Hanlon outlines his hopes for a weakened “confederal” Syria “made up of autonomous zones rather than being ruled by a strong central government.” (Pg. 3) Such “safe zones” are to be controlled by US Special Forces and their trained foot-soldiers of the “Syrian opposition.” Specifically, O’Hanlon calls for the US and its regional proxies,
“to help defend local safe areas using American airpower as well as special forces support once circumstances are conducive, the Syrian opposition fighters would then establish safe zones in Syria that they would seek to expand and solidify. The safe zones would also be used to accelerate recruiting and training of additional opposition fighters who could live in, and help protect, their communities while going through basic training.” (Pg. 3)
O’Hanlon admits that the US has spent upwards of a billion dollars in “arms flows and other assistance to [Syrian militants]” and later suggests that the so-called ‘moderates’ are ineffective fighters, “a collection of groups with no unity, common vision, or survivability on the battlefield.” O’Hanlon proposes that moderation would not be a prerequisite for US support, something that has never been an issue for Washington anyway which has been covertly sponsoring some of the most unsavory characters imaginable.
Later in the document O’Hanlon identifies the anti-Assad orientation of the strategy, envisioning the “safe zones” as buffers to launch operations against Assad and to eventually push the Syrian president out of power. He writes:
“The plan would be directed in part against Assad. But it would not have the explicit military goal of overthrowing him, at least not in the first instance or the near term. Rather, it would seek to constrict the territory that he governs. And if he delayed too long in accepting a deal for exile, he could inevitably face direct dangers to his rule and even his person. The plan would still seek his removal, but over a gradual time period that allowed for a negotiated exit if he were smart enough to avail himself of the opportunity.” (Pg. 10)
O’Hanlon ponders the “outright partition of the country.” (Pg. 11) This partition scheme is evidently aimed at pressuring Assad and perhaps provoking him to strike at one of the US-controlled “safe zones” which would, O’Hanlon contends, give Washington an excuse to attack Damascus directly. “If Assad sought to attack the enclaves,” writes O’Hanlon, “where moderate forces were being aided by American and other outside powers … the United States would need to be ready to escalate quickly and powerfully—even disproportionately.” (Pg. 13)
This Brookings plan typifies an advanced phase of the destruction of Syria, something in the works since at least 2007. Washington’s anti-Syrian, anti-Iranian and broader anti-Muslim agenda clearly transcended both the Bush and Obama administrations, underscoring the existence of a permanent ‘shadow government’ – the neocon-dominated Military-Industrial Complex – that stays in place behind the curtain no matter who is elected. Obama’s ascendance to the White House was merely a public relations facelift, serving to make the American-Zionist Empire’s bloodthirsty aims more palatable to a war-weary public.
 “Rand Paul says GOP hawks ‘created’ ISIS,” New York Post, May 27, 2015. http://nypost.com/2015/05/27/rand-paul-says-gop-hawks-created-isis/
 Brad Hoff, “2012 Defense Intelligence Agency document: West will facilitate rise of Islamic State ‘in order to isolate the Syrian regime’,” The Levant Report, May 19, 2015. http://levantreport.com/2015/05/19/2012-defense-intelligence-agency-document-west-will-facilitate-rise-of-islamic-state-in-order-to-isolate-the-syrian-regime/
 Greg Miller and Karen DeYoung, “Secret CIA effort in Syria faces large funding cut,” Washington Post, June 12, 2015. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/lawmakers-move-to-curb-1-billion-cia-program-to-train-syrian-rebels/2015/06/12/b0f45a9e-1114-11e5-adec-e82f8395c032_story.html
 Seymour Hersh, “The Redirection,” The New Yorker, March 5, 2007. http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2007/03/05/the-redirection?currentPage=all
 Nafeez Ahmed, “The Pentagon plan to ‘divide and rule’ the Muslim world,” Middle East Eye, April 3, 2015. http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/pentagon-plan-divide-and-rule-muslim-world-1690265165
 Michael O’Hanlon, “Deconstructing Syria Towards a regionalized strategy for a confederal country,” Brookings Institute, June 2015. http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/research/files/papers/2015/06/23-syria-strategy-ohanlon/23syriastrategyohanlon.pdf
Copyright 2015 Brandon Martinez
A 2014 Turkish Foreign Ministry session, which featured high-level Turkish officials discussing how Turkey could start a war with Syria, was reportedly recorded and leaked by the US National Security Agency (NSA).
German weekly magazine Focus attributed the leakage to the NSA, reporting on the security meeting among former Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, National Intelligence Organization (MİT) head Hakan Fidan, Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu and Deputy Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Güler.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was prime minister at the time, banned the video-sharing website YouTube after the leakage, which caught Fidan saying he would send four men from Syria to attack Turkey to “make up a cause of war.” Güler is heard saying in response, “What you’re going to do is a direct cause of war.”
Currently serving as Turkish prime minister, Davutoğlu said on July 3 that his country would not hesitate to launch a military intervention in Syria in case of what he referred to as a potential threat to Turkey’s “security.”
The Turkish newspaper Hürriyet Daily also reported last Sunday that the Turkish military had called on all troop commanders stationed along its border with Syria to be present at a meeting aimed at discussing a possible intervention in the crisis-hit country.
Erdogan has accused Syrian Kurds of trying to establish a state in Syria’s north, saying Ankara will leave no stone unturned to prevent such an establishment near its borders.
Ankara has long been engaged in a conflict with the Turkish Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region inside Turkey since the 1980s.
Turkey has also been one of the main supporters of the militancy against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, with reports showing that Ankara actively trains and arms militants operating in Syria.
“I have seen from the beginning armed protesters in those demonstrations … they were the first to fire on the police. Very often the violence of the security forces comes in response to the brutal violence of the armed insurgents” – Jesuit priest Father Frans Van der Lugt, January 2012, Homs Syria
“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, have been going on virtually since the beginning.” – Professor Jeremy Salt, October 2011, Ankara Turkey
“The protest movement in Syria was overwhelmingly peaceful until September 2011” – Human Rights Watch, March 2012, Washington
A double story began on the Syrian conflict, at the very beginning of the armed violence in 2011, in the southern border town of Daraa. The first story comes from independent witnesses in Syria, such as the late Father Frans Van der Lugt in Homs. They say that armed men infiltrated the early political reform demonstrations to shoot at both police and civilians. This violence came from sectarian Islamists. The second comes from the Islamist groups (‘rebels’) and their western backers, including the Washington-based Human Rights Watch. They claim there was ‘indiscriminate’ violence from Syrian security forces to repress political rallies and that the ‘rebels’ grew out of a secular political reform movement.
Careful study of the independent evidence, however, shows that the Washington-backed ‘rebel’ story, while widespread, was part of a strategy to delegitimise the Syrian Government, with the aim of fomenting ‘regime change’. To understand this it is necessary to study the outbreak of the violence in Daraa, in March 2011. Central to that insurrection were shipments of arms from Saudi Arabia to Islamists at the al Omari mosque.
In early 2011 Syrians were well aware of a piece of history few western observers would remember: a strikingly similar Islamist insurrection took place in the town of Hama, back in 1982. Yet this was crushed within weeks by the Syrian Arab Army. Reviewing this conflict is useful because of the myths that have grown up around both insurrections.
US intelligence (DIA 1982) and the late British author Patrick Seale (1988) give independent accounts of what happened at Hama. After years of violent, sectarian attacks by Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood, by mid-1980 President Hafez al Assad had ‘broken the back’ of their sectarian rebellion, which aimed to impose a Salafi-Islamic state. One final coup plot was exposed and the Brotherhood ‘felt pressured into initiating’ an uprising in their stronghold of Hama. Seale describes the start of that violence in this way:
‘At 2am on the night of 2-3 February 1982 an army unit combing the old city fell into an ambush. Roof top snipers killed perhaps a score of soldiers … [Brotherhood leader] Abu Bakr [Umar Jawwad] gave the order for a general uprising … hundreds of Islamist fighters rose … by the morning some seventy leading Ba’athists had been slaughtered and the triumphant guerrillas declared the city ‘liberated’ (Seale 1988: 332).
However the Army responded with a huge force of about 12,000 and the battle raged for three weeks. It was a foreign-backed civil war, with some defections from the army. Seale continues:
‘As the tide turned slowly in the government’s favour, the guerrillas fell back into the old quarters … after heavy shelling, commandos and party irregulars supported by tanks moved in … many civilians were slaughtered in the prolonged mopping up, whole districts razed’ (Seale 1988: 333).
Two months later a US intelligence report said: ‘The total casualties for the Hama incident probably number about 2,000. This includes an estimated 300 to 400 members of the Muslim Brotherhood’s elite ‘Secret Apparatus’ (DIA 1982: 7). Seale recognises that the Army also suffered heavy losses. At the same time, ‘large numbers died in the hunt for the gunmen … government sympathizers estimating a mere 3,000 and critics as many as 20,000 … a figure of 5,000 to 10,000 could be close to the truth’ He adds:
‘The guerrillas were formidable opponents. They had a fortune in foreign money … [and] no fewer than 15,000 machine guns’ (Seale 1988: 335). Subsequent Muslim Brotherhood accounts have inflated the casualties, reaching up to ‘40,000 civilians’, and attempting to hide the vicious insurrection by claiming that Hafez al Assad had simply carried out a ‘civilian massacre’ (e.g. Nassar 2014). The then Syrian President blamed a large scale foreign conspiracy for the Hama insurrection. Seale observes that Hafez was ‘not paranoical’, as many US weapons were captured and foreign backing had come from several US collaborators: King Hussayn of Jordan, Lebanese Christian militias (the Israeli-aligned ‘Guardians of the Cedar’) and Saddam Hussein in Iraq (Seale 1988: 336-337).
The Hama insurrection helps us understand the Daraa violence because, once again in 2011, we saw armed Islamists using rooftop sniping against police and government officials, drawing in the armed forces, only to cry ‘civilian massacre’ when they and their collaborators came under attack from the Army. Although the US, through its allies, played an important part in the Hama insurrection, when it was all over US intelligence dryly observed that: ‘the Syrians are pragmatists who do not want a Muslim Brotherhood government’ (DIA 1982: vii).
In the case of Daraa, and the attacks that moved to Homs and surrounding areas in April 2011, the clearly stated aim was once again to topple the secular or ‘infidel-Alawi’ regime. The front-line US collaborators were Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. The head of the Syrian Brotherhood, Muhammad Riyad Al-Shaqfa, issued a statement on 28 March which left no doubt that the group’s aim was sectarian. The enemy was ‘the secular regime’ and Brotherhood members ‘have to make sure that the revolution will be pure Islamic, and with that no other sect would have a share of the credit after its success’ (Al-Shaqfa 2011). While playing down the initial role of the Brotherhood, Sheikho confirms that it ‘went on to punch above its actual weight on the ground during the uprising … [due] to Turkish-Qatari support’, and to its general organisational capacity (Sheikho 2013). By the time there was a ‘Free Syrian Army Supreme Military Council’ in 2012 (more a weapons conduit than any sort of army command), it was two-thirds dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood (Draitser 2012). Other foreign Salafi-Islamist groups quickly joined this ‘Syrian Revolution’. A US intelligence report in August 2012, contrary to Washington’s public statements about ‘moderate rebels’, said:
‘The Salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood and AQI [Al Qaeda in Iraq, later ISIS] are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria … AQI supported the Syrian Opposition from the beginning, both ideologically and through the media’ (DIA 2012).
In February 2011 there was popular agitation in Syria, to some extent influenced by the events in Egypt and Tunisia. There were anti-government and pro-government demonstrations, and a genuine political reform movement that for several years had agitated against corruption and the Ba’ath Party monopoly. A 2005 report referred to ‘an array of reform movements slowly organizing beneath the surface’ (Ghadry 2005), and indeed the ‘many faces’ of a Syrian opposition, much of it non-Islamist, had been agitating since about that same time (Sayyid Rasas 2013). These political opposition groups deserve attention, in another discussion. However only one section of that opposition was linked to the violence that erupted in Daraa. Large anti-government demonstrations began, to be met with huge pro-government demonstrations. In early March some teenagers in Daraa were arrested for graffiti that had been copied from North Africa ‘the people want to overthrow the regime’. It was reported that they were abused by local police, President Bashar al Assad intervened, the local governor was sacked and the teenagers were released (Abouzeid 2011).
Yet the Islamist insurrection was underway, taking cover under the street demonstrations. On 11 March, several days before the violence broke out in Daraa, there were reports that Syrian forces had seized ‘a large shipment of weapons and explosives and night-vision goggles … in a truck coming from Iraq’. The truck was stopped at the southern Tanaf crossing, close to Jordan. The Syrian Government news agency SANA said the weapons were intended ‘for use in actions that affect Syria’s internal security and spread unrest and chaos.’ Pictures showed ‘dozens of grenades and pistols as well as rifles and ammunition belts’. The driver said the weapons had been loaded in Baghdad and he had been paid $5,000 to deliver them to Syria (Reuters 2011). Despite this interception, arms did reach Daraa, a border town of about 150,000 people. This is where the ‘western-rebel’ and the independent stories diverge, and diverge dramatically. The western media consensus was that protestors burned and trashed government offices, and then ‘provincial security forces opened fire on marchers, killing several’ (Abouzeid 2011). After that, ‘protestors’ staged demonstrations in front of the al-Omari mosque, but were in turn attacked.
The Syrian government, on the other hand, said that armed attacks had begun on security forces, killing police and civilians, along with the burning of government offices. There was foreign corroboration of this account. While its headline blamed security forces for killing ‘protesters’, the British Daily Mail (2011) showed pictures of guns, AK47 rifles and hand grenades that security forces had recovered after storming the al-Omari mosque. The paper noted reports that ‘an armed gang’ had opened fire on an ambulance, killing ‘a doctor, a paramedic and a policeman’. Media channels in neighbouring countries did report on the killing of Syrian police, on 17-18 March. On 21 March a Lebanese news report observed that ‘Seven policemen were killed during clashes between the security forces and protesters in Syria’ (YaLibnan 2011), while an Israel National News report said ‘Seven police officers and at least four demonstrators in Syria have been killed … and the Baath party headquarters and courthouse were torched’ (Queenan 2011). These police had been targeted by rooftop snipers.
Even in these circumstances the Government was urging restraint and attempting to respond to the political reform movement. President Assad’s adviser, Dr Bouthaina Shaaban, told a news conference that the President had ordered ‘that live ammunition should not be fired, even if the police, security forces or officers of the state were being killed’. Assad proposed to address the political demands, such as the registration of political parties, removing emergency rules and allowing greater media freedoms (al-Khalidi 2011). None of that seemed to either interest or deter the Islamist insurrection.
Several reports, including video reports, observed rooftop snipers firing at crowds and police, during funerals of those already killed. It was said to be ‘unclear who was firing at whom’ (Al Jazeera 2011a), as ‘an unknown armed group on rooftops shot at protesters and security forces’ (Maktabi 2011). Yet Al Jazeera (2011b) owned by the Qatari monarchy, soon strongly suggested that that the snipers were pro-government. ‘President Bashar al Assad has sent thousands of Syrian soldiers and their heavy weaponry into Derra for an operation the regime wants nobody in the word to see’. However the Al Jazeera suggestion that secret pro-government snipers were killing ‘soldiers and protestors alike’ was illogical and out of sequence. The armed forces came to Daraa precisely because police had been shot and killed.
Saudi Arabia, a key US regional ally, had armed and funded extremist Salafist Sunni sects to move against the secular government. Saudi official Anwar Al-Eshki later confirmed to BBC television that his country had sent arms to Daraa and to the al-Omari mosque (Truth Syria 2012). From exile in Saudi Arabia, Salafi Sheikh Adnan Arour called for a holy war against the liberal Alawi Muslims, who were said to dominate the Syrian government. The Salafist aim was a theocratic state or caliphate. The genocidal slogan ‘Christians to Beirut, Alawites to the grave’ became widespread, a fact reported by the North American media as early as May 2011 (e.g. Blanford 2011). Islamists from the FSA Farouq brigade would soon act on these threats (Crimi 2012). Canadian analyst Michel Chossudovsky (2011) concluded:
‘The deployment of armed forces including tanks in Daraa [was] directed against an organised armed insurrection, which has been active in the border city since March 17-18.’
After those first few days in Daraa the killing of Syrian security forces continued, but went largely unreported outside Syria. Nevertheless, independent analyst Sharmine Narwani wrote about the scale of this killing in early 2012 and again in mid-2014. An ambush and massacre of soldiers took place near Daraa in late March or early April. An army convoy was stopped by an oil slick on a valley road between Daraa al-Mahata and Daraa al-Balad and the trucks were machine gunned. Estimates of soldier deaths, from government and opposition sources ranged from 18 to 60. A Daraa resident said these killings were not reported because: ‘At that time, the government did not want to show they are weak and the opposition did not want to show they are armed’. Anti-Syrian blogger, Nizar Nayouf, records this massacre as taking place in the last week of March. Another anti-Government writer, Rami Abdul Rahman (based in England, and calling himself the ‘Syrian Observatory of Human Rights’) says:
‘It was on the first of April and about 18 or 19 security forces … were killed’ (Narwani 2014). Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad, himself a resident of Daraa, confirmed that: ‘this incident was hidden by the government … as an attempt not to antagonize or not to raise emotions and to calm things down – not to encourage any attempt to inflame emotions which may lead to escalation of the situation’ (Narwani 2014).
Yet the significance of denying armed anti-Government killings was that, in the western media, all deaths were reported as (a) victims of the Army and (b) civilians. For well over six months, when a body count was mentioned in the international media, it was usually considered acceptable to suggest these were all ‘protestors’ killed by the Syrian Army. For example, a Reuters report on 24 March said Daraa’s main hospital had received ‘the bodies of at least 37 protestors killed on Wednesday’ (Khalidi 2011). Notice that all the dead had become ‘protestors’, despite earlier reports on the killing of a number of police and health workers.
Another nineteen soldiers were gunned down on 25 April, also near Daraa. Narwani obtained their names and details from Syria’s Defence Ministry, and corroborated these details from another document from a non-government source. Throughout April 2011 she calculates that eighty-eight Syrian soldiers were killed ‘by unknown shooters in different areas across Syria’ (Narwani 2014). She went on to refute claims that the soldiers killed were ‘defectors’, shot by the Syrian army for refusing to fire on civilians. The Washington based group Human Rights Watch, referring to interviews with 50 unnamed ‘activists’, claimed that soldiers killed at this time were all ‘defectors’, murdered by the Army (HRW 2011b). Yet the funerals of loyal officers, shown on the internet at that time, were distinct. Even Rami Abdul Rahman, keen to blame the Army for killing civilians, said ‘this game of saying the Army is killing defectors for leaving – I never accepted this’ (Narwani 2014). Nevertheless the highly charged reports were confusing, in Syria as well as outside.
The violence spread north, with the assistance of Islamist fighters from Lebanon, reaching Baniyas and areas around Homs. On 10 April nine soldiers were shot in a bus ambush in Baniyas. In Homs, on April 17, General Abdo Khodr al-Tallawi was killed with his two sons and a nephew, and Syrian commander Iyad Kamel Harfoush was gunned down near his home. Two days later, off-duty Colonel Mohammad Abdo Khadour was killed in his car (Narwani 2014). North American commentator Joshua Landis (2011a) reported the death of his wife’s cousin, one of the soldiers in Baniyas.
Al Jazeera, the principal Middle East media channel backing the Muslim Brotherhood, blacked out these attacks, as also the reinforcement provided by armed foreigners. Former Al Jazeera journalist Ali Hashem was one of many who resigned from the Qatar-owned station (RT 2012), complaining of deep bias over their presentation of the violence in Syria. Hashem had footage of armed men arriving from Lebanon, but this was censored by his Qatari managers. ‘In a resignation letter I was telling the executive … it was like nothing was happening in Syria.’ He thought the ‘Libyan revolution’ was the turning point for Al Jazeera, the end of its standing as a credible media group (Hashem 2012).
Provocateurs were at work. Tunisian jihadist ‘Abu Qusay’ later admitted he had been a prominent ‘Syrian rebel’ charged with ‘destroying and desecrating Sunni mosques’, including by scrawling the graffiti ‘There is no God but Bashar’, a blasphemy to devout Muslims. This was then blamed on the Syrian Army, with the aim of creating Sunni defections from the Army. ‘Abu Qusay’ had been interviewed by foreign journalists who did not notice he was not Syrian (Eretz Zen 2014).
Journalist Nir Rosen, whose reports were generally against the Syrian Government, also criticised the western consensus over the early violence:
‘The issue of defectors is a distraction. Armed resistance began long before defections started … Every day the opposition gives a death toll, usually without any explanation … Many of those reported killed are in fact dead opposition fighters but … described in reports as innocent civilians killed by security forces … and every day members of the Syrian Army, security agencies … are also killed by anti-regime fighters’ (Rosen 2012).
A numbers game was being played to delegitimise the Syrian Government (‘The Regime’) and the Syrian Army (‘Assad loyalists’), suggesting they were responsible for all the violence. Just as NATO forces were about to bomb Libya and overthrow the Libyan Government, US voices began to demand that President Assad step down. The Brookings Institution (Shaikh 2011) claimed the President had ‘lost the legitimacy to remain in power in Syria’. US Senators John McCain, Lindsay Graham and Joe Lieberman said it was time ‘to align ourselves unequivocally with the Syrian people in their peaceful demand for a democratic government’ (FOX News 2011). The big powers began to demand yet another ‘regime change’.
In June, US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton dismissed the idea that ‘foreign instigators’ had been at work, saying that ‘the vast majority of casualties have been unarmed civilians’ (Clinton 2011). In fact, as Clinton knew very well, her Saudi Arabian allies had armed extremists from the very beginning. Her casualty assertion was also wrong. The United Nations (which would later abandon its body count) estimated from several sources that, by early 2012, there were more than 5,000 casualties, and that deaths in the first year of conflict included 478 police and 2,091 from the military and security forces (OHCHR 2012: 2; Narwani 2014). That is, more than half the casualties in the first year were those of the Syrian security forces. That independent calculation was not reflected in western media reports. ‘Watchdog’ NGOs such as Human Rights Watch, along with US columnists (e.g. Allaf 2012), continued to claim, well into 2012, that Syrian security forces had been massacring ‘unarmed protestors’, that the Syrian people ‘had no choice’ but to take up arms, and that this ‘protest movement’ had been ‘overwhelmingly peaceful until September 2011’ (HRW 2011a, HRW 2012). In fact, the political reform movement had been driven off the streets by Salafi-Islamist gunmen, over the course of March and April.
In June reporter Hala Jaber (2011) observed that about five thousand people turned up for a demonstration at Ma’arrat al-Numan, a small town in north-west Syria, between Aleppo and Hama. She says several ‘protestors’ had been shot the week before, while trying to block the road between Damascus and Aleppo. After some negotiations which reduced the security forces in the town, ‘men with heavy beards in cars and pick-ups with no registration plates’ with ‘rifles and rocket-propelled grenades’ began shooting at the reduced numbers of security forces. A military helicopter was sent to support the security forces. After this clash ‘four policemen and 12 of their attackers were dead or dying. Another 20 policemen were wounded’. Officers who escaped the fight were hidden by some of the tribal elders who had participated in the original demonstration. When the next ‘demonstration for democracy’ took place, the following Friday, ‘only 350 people turned up’, mostly young men and some bearded militants (Jaber 2011). Five thousand protestors had been reduced to 350, after the Salafist attacks.
After months of media manipulations, disguising the Islamist insurrection, Syrians such as Samer al Akhras, a young man from a Sunni family, who used to watch Al Jazeera because he preferred it to state TV, became convinced to back the Syrian government. He saw first-hand the fabrication of reports on Al Jazeera and wrote, in late June 2011:
‘I am a Syrian citizen and I am a human. After 4 months of your fake freedom … You say peaceful demonstration and you shoot our citizen. From today … I am [now] a Sergeant in the Reserve Army. If I catch anyone … in any terrorist organization working on the field in Syria I am gonna shoot you as you are shooting us. This is our land not yours, the slaves of American fake freedom’ (al Akhras 2011).
Abouzeid, Rania (2011) ‘Syria’s Revolt, how graffiti stirred an uprising’,Time, 22 March
Al Akhras, Samer (2011) ‘Syrian Citizen’, Facebook, 25 June, online:https://www.facebook.com/notes/sam-al-akhras/syrian-citizen/241770845834062?pnref=story
Al Jazeera (2011a) ‘Nine killed at Syria funeral processions’, 23 April, online:http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2011/04/20114231169587270.html
Al Jazeera (2011b) ‘Deraa: A city under a dark siege’, 28 April, online:http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2011/04/2011427215943692865.html
Al-Shaqfa, Muhammad Riyad (2011) ‘Muslim Brotherhood Statement about the so-called ‘Syrian Revolution’’, General supervisor for the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, statement of 28 March, online at: http://truthsyria.wordpress.com/2012/02/12/muslim-brotherhood-statement-about-the-so-called-syrian-revolution/
Allaf, Rime (2012) ‘This Time, Assad Has Overreached’, NYT, 5 Dec, online:http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/02/06/is-assads-time-running-out/this-time-assad-has-overreached
Blanford, Nicholas (2011) ‘Assad regime may be gaining upper hand in Syria’, Christina Science Monitor, 13 may, online:http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2011/0513/Assad-regime-may-be-gaining-upper-hand-in-Syria
Chossudovsky, Michel (2011) ‘Syria: who is behind the protest movement? Fabricating a pretext for US-NATO ‘Humanitarian Intervention’’, Global Research, 3 May, online: http://www.globalresearch.ca/syria-who-is-behind-the-protest-movement-fabricating-a-pretext-for-a-us-nato-humanitarian-intervention/24591
Clinton, Hilary (2011) ‘There is No Going Back in Syria’, US Department of State, 17 June, online: http://www.state.gov/secretary/20092013clinton/rm/2011/06/166495.htm
Maktabi, Rima (2011) ‘Reports of funeral, police shootings raise tensions in Syria’, CNN, 5 April, online: http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/meast/04/05/syria.unrest/
Crimi, Frank (2012) ‘Ethnic Cleansing of Syrian Christians’, Frontpagemag,29 March, online: http://www.frontpagemag.com/2012/frank-crimi/ethnic-cleansing-of-syrian-christians/
Daily Mail (2011) ‘Nine protesters killed after security forces open fire by Syrian mosque’, 24 March
DIA (1982) ‘Syria: Muslim Brotherhood Pressure Intensifies’, Defence Intelligence Agency (USA), May, online: https://syria360.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/dia-syria-muslimbrotherhoodpressureintensifies-2.pdf
DIA (2012) ‘Department of Defence Information Report, Not Finally Evaluated Intelligence, Country: Iraq’, Defence Intelligence Agency, August, 14-L-0552/DIA/297-293, Levant report, online at:http://levantreport.com/2015/05/19/2012-defense-intelligence-agency-document-west-will-facilitate-rise-of-islamic-state-in-order-to-isolate-the-syrian-regime/
Draitser, Eric (2012) ‘Unmasking the Muslim Brotherhood: Syria, Egypt and beyond’, Global Research, 12 December, online:http://www.globalresearch.ca/unmasking-the-muslim-brotherhood-syria-egypt-and-beyond/5315406
Eretz Zen (2014) ‘Tunisian Jihadist Admits: We Destroyed & Desecrated Mosques in Syria to Cause Defections in Army’, Youtube Interview, 16 March, online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQ8awN8GLAk
FOX News (2011) ‘Obama Under Pressure to Call for Syrian Leader’s Ouster’,29 April, online: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/04/29/obama-pressure-syrian-leaders-ouster/
Ghadry, Farid N. (2005) ‘Syrian Reform: What Lies Beneath’, Middle East Quarterly, Vol 12 No 1, Winter, online: http://www.meforum.org/683/syrian-reform-what-lies-beneath
Haidar, Ali (2013) interview with this writer, Damascus 28 December. Ali Haidar was President of the Syrian Social National Party (SS NP), a secular rival to the Ba’ath Party. In 2012 President Bashar al Assad incorporated him into the Syrian government as Minister for Reconciliation.
Hashem, Ali (2012) ‘Al Jazeera Journalist Explains Resignation over Syria and Bahrain Coverage’, The Real News, 20 March, online:http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=8106
HRW (2011a) ‘We’ve never seen such horror: crimes against humanity by Syrian Security Forces’, Human Rights Watch, June, online:http://www.hrw.org/reports/2011/06/01/we-ve-never-seen-such-horror-0
HRW (2011b) Syria: Defectors Describe Orders to Shoot Unarmed Protesters’, Human Rights watch, Washington, 9 July, online:http://www.hrw.org/news/2011/07/09/syria-defectors-describe-orders-shoot-unarmed-protesters
HRW (2012) ‘Open Letter to the Leaders of the Syrian Opposition, Human Rights Watch, Washington, 20 March, online:http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/03/20/open-letter-leaders-syrian-opposition
Jaber, Hala (2011) ‘Syria caught in crossfire of extremists’, Sunday Times, 26 June, online: http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/world_news/Middle_East/article657138.ece
Khalidi, Suleiman (2011) ‘Thousands chant ‘freedom’ despite Assad reform offer’, Reuters, 24 March, online: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/03/24/us-syria-idUSTRE72N2MC20110324
Landis, Joshua (2011a) ‘The Revolution Strikes Home: Yasir Qash`ur, my wife’s cousin, killed in Banyas’, Syria Comment, 11 April, online:http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/the-revolution-strikes-home-yasir-qashur-my-wifes-cousin-killed-in-banyas/
Landis, Joshua (2011b) ‘Syria’s Opposition Faces an Uncertain Future’, Syria Comment, 26 June, online: http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/syrias-opposition-faces-an-uncertain-future/
MEMRITV (2011) ‘Syrian Sunni Cleric Threatens: “We Shall Mince [The Alawites] in Meat Grinders”’, YouTube, 13 July, online:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bwz8i3osHww
Nassar, Jessy (2014) ‘Hama: A rebirth from the ashes?’ Middle East Monitor,11 July, online: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/12703-hama-a-rebirth-from-the-ashes
Narwani, Sharmine (2012) ‘Questioning the Syrian “Casualty List”, 28 Feb, online: http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/questioning-syrian-%E2%80%9Ccasualty-list%E2%80%9D
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Muad’Dib’s latest film about the July 7 2005 London bombings.
After being unlawfully jailed for 157 days based on trumped-up charges, and following on from the BBC making a dedicated hit-piece on the original 7/7 Ripple Effect, the film-maker Muad’Dib expands upon the original film and has added over 60 minutes of new material connecting the dots of what most likely really did happen in London on July 7th 2005, when 3 tube-trains and a double-decker bus were exploded.
“It is an example of critical journalism thatdraws wholly on public news sources to formulate a controversial, but plausible, theory. After deploying three different theories of truth to develop insights into new and existing evidence, it is the BBC / Government theory that has a lower level of correspondence with known .facts., is incoherent to the point of being implausible, and is more likely to distort its reports because of institutional controls and political pressures.”
– Rory Ridley-Duff Ph.D., senior lecturer in human resource management
and organisation behaviour, Sheffield Hallam University.
The official story about 9/11 is questioned by millions of people.
In this Danish documentary you will meet architect Jan Utzon, Danish Tax Minister Benny Engelbrecht, professor Niels Harrit, airline captain Niels Studstrup, journalist Tommy Hansen and artist Jacob Fuglsang.
They will talk about their doubt and skepticism and explain why they have come to feel and think this way.