Following rhetoric regarding Europe’s refugee crisis, one might assume the refugees, through no fault of Europe’s governments, suddenly began appearing by the thousands at Europe’s borders. However, this simply is not true.
Before the 2011 wave of US-European engineered uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) transformed into Western military interventions, geopolitical analysts warned that overthrowing the governments in nations like Libya and Syria, and Western interventions in nations like Mali and the Ivory Coast, would lead to predicable regional chaos that would manifest itself in both expanding terrorism across the European and MENA region, as well as a flood of refugees from destabilized, war-racked nations.
Libya in particular, was singled out as a nation, if destabilized, that would transform into a springboard for refugees not only fleeing chaos in Libya itself, but fleeing a variety of socioeconomic and military threats across the continent. Libya has served for decades as a safe haven for African refugees due to its relative stability and economic prosperity as well as the Libyan government’s policy of accepting and integrating African refugees within the Libyan population.
Because of NATO’s 2011 military intervention and the disintegration of Libya as a functioning nation state, refugees who would have otherwise settled in Libya are now left with no choice but to continue onward to Europe.
For France in particular, its politics have gravitated around what is essentially a false debate between those welcoming refugees and those opposed to their presence.
Absent from this false debate is any talk of French culpability for its military operations abroad which, along with the actions of the US and other NATO members, directly resulted in the current European refugee crisis.
France claims that its presence across Africa aims at fighting Al Qaeda. According to RAND Corporation commentary titled, “Mali’s Persistent Jihadist Problem,” it’s reported that:
Four years ago, French forces intervened in Mali, successfully averting an al Qaeda-backed thrust toward the capital of Bamako. The French operation went a long way toward reducing the threat that multiple jihadist groups posed to this West Africa nation. The situation in Mali today remains tenuous, however, and the last 18 months have seen a gradual erosion of France’s impressive, initial gains.
And of course, a French military presence in Mali will do nothing to stem Al Qaeda’s activities if the source of Al Qaeda’s weapons and financial support is not addressed. In order to do this, France and its American and European allies would need to isolate and impose serious sanctions on Saudi Arabia and Qatar, two nations which exist as the premier state sponsors of not only Al Qaeda, but a myriad of terrorist organizations sowing chaos worldwide.
Paradoxically, instead of seeking such sanctions, the French government instead sells the Saudi and Qatari governments billions of dollars worth of weaponry, proudly filling in any temporary gaps in the flow of weapons from the West as each nation attempts to posture as “concerned” about Saudi and Qatari human rights abuses and war crimes (and perhaps even state sponsorship of terrorism) only to gradually return to pre-sanction levels after public attention wanes.
The National Interest in an article titled, “France: Saudi Arabia’s New Arms Dealer,” would note:
France has waged a robust diplomatic engagement with Saudi Arabia for years. In June, Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited France to sign deals worth $12 billion, which included $500 million for 23 Airbus H145 helicopters. Saudi and French officials also agreed to pursue feasibility studies to build two nuclear reactors in the kingdom. The remaining money will involve direct investment negotiated between Saudi and French officials.
The article would also note that Saudi Arabia’s junior partner in the state sponsorship of global terror, Qatar, would also benefit from French weapon deals:
Hollande’s address was delivered one day after he was in Doha, where he signed a $7 billion deal that included the sale of 24 French Rafale fighter jets to Qatar, along with the training of Qatari intelligence officers.
In order to truly fight terrorism, a nation must deal with it at its very source. Since France is not only ignoring the source of Al Qaeda’s military, financial and political strength, but is regularly bolstering it with billions in weapons deals, it is safe to say that whatever reason France is involved across MENA, it is not to “defeat” Al Qaeda.
The refugee crisis that has resulted from the chaos that both Western forces and terrorists funded and armed by the West’s closest regional allies, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, is a crisis that is entirely self-inflicted. The rhetoric surrounding the crisis, on both sides, ignoring this fundamental reality, exposes the manufactured and manipulative nature of French government and opposition agendas.
The chaos across MENA is so significant, and terrorism so deeply rooted in both Western and their Arab allies’ geopolitical equations that even a complete reversal of this destructive policy will leave years if not decades of social unrest in the wake of the current refugee crisis.
But for anyone genuinely committed to solving this ongoing crisis, they must start with the US, European, and Gulf monarchies’ culpability, and resist blaming the refugees or those manipulated into reacting negatively to them. While abuses carried out by refugees or locals are equally intolerable, those responsible for the conflicts and for manipulating both sides of this crisis are equally to blame.
Until that blame is properly and proportionately placed, and the root of the crisis addressed, it will only linger and cause further damage to regional and global security.
On Thursday, Moscow slipped in the formal invitation to Washington to attend the intra-Syria talks in Astana on coming Monday (January 23). It waited till the last ‘working day’ of the Barack Obama administration. A snub to the outgoing administration? But it could as well have been a pre-emptive measure to guard against any last-minute temper tantrum by the outgoing US administration.
No doubt, it is a thoughtful Russian move to engage the incoming Donald Trump administration on its very first day in the White House. Trump will now take the call. The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said:
- We hope the new US administration will accept this invitation and will be represented at this meeting at any expert level it considers appropriate. This could be the first official contact during which we will be able to discuss a more effective way to fight terrorism in Syria… Russia and the United States created and are co-chairing the International Syria Support Group… It has two task forces – a Humanitarian Task Force and a Ceasefire Task Force. There is a good chance we can invigorate these mechanisms.
Lavrov’s optimism must be based on considered assessment regarding Trump’s disposition to work with President Vladimir Putin in the fight against terrorism in Syria and elsewhere.
A novel feature of the Astana talks is that the field commanders of the Syrian opposition groups have been brought to the forefront as the Syrian government’s interlocutors. Previously, politicians living in exile who were proxies of Saudi Arabia and Qatar used to represent these groups. They were vulnerable to outside manipulation. Evidently, Turkish and Russian intelligence acted together, pooling resources, to wean the field commanders away from the orbit of Saudi and Qatari influence and entice them to agree to a ceasefire and get them to jettison their previous aversion to dealing with the Syrian government.
Of course, the field commanders too have little room to maneuver after the capture of Aleppo by the government forces. Besides, Trump’s win effectively shuts the door on any future US support for these rebel groups. There is bitterness among the residual rebel groups who remain within the Saudi orbit, but losers cannot be choosers. A commentary by Fox News brings this out.
In the final analysis, Moscow has shown almost seamless patience to get as many rebel groups as possible on board – with the exception of Islamic State and al-Qaeda affiliate Nusra Front. No ‘pre-conditions’ have been set except that the participants in the Astana talks must agree on ceasefire. What we see here is a total marginalization of regional states who played a negative role aimed at fragmenting Syria – principally, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Israel.
Moscow would feel gratified that Turkey is using its clout with the rebel groups to persuade them to attend the Astana talks. In a dramatic turnaround, Russian jets are now providing air support for the Turkish ground operations in northern Syria, testifying to the phenomenal shift in the regional alignments over Syria. (Associated Press )
The bottom line is that the departure of the Obama administration has dramatically improved the prospects for a Syrian peace process taking off, finally. Moscow is pinning hopes that there will be a sea change in the US policies in Syria w.e.f January 20. Again, to quote Lavrov:
- When he (Trump) says that his key foreign policy priority will be the fight against terrorism, we are happy to welcome this intention. This is exactly what our American partners lacked before him. On paper, they (Obama administration) seemed to be cooperating with us…, but in fact, they were deceiving us… According to a recent leak about John Kerry’s meeting with Syrian opposition forces several years ago, the United States regarded ISIS as a suitable force for weakening Bashar al-Assad… What Donald Trump and his team are saying now shows that they have a different approach and will not apply double standards in the fight against terrorism in order to achieve unrelated goals.
The talks in Astana are expected to be substantial. Russia and Turkey hope to involve the field commanders in the drafting of a new constitution, holding of a referendum and fresh elections. Equally, a consolidation of the country-wide ceasefire can be expected as a tangible outcome of the Astana talks. (TASS )
Syrian deputy Foreign Ministry rejected on Wednesday the participation of Saudi Arabia and Qatar in the Astana peace talks on Syria next week, stressing that negotiations should not include every party that supports, arms and funds terrorism.
“Once Qatar and Saudi Arabia halt their support to terrorism, then we can discuss their participation in the talks,” he said.
Speaking to Al-Mayadeen TV, Moqdad said that Washington should prove its sincerity to deal with solutions for the Syrian crisis, prevent the support of armed terrorist groups, and exert pressure on Turkey to close its border with Syria.
On the participation of the United States in Astana negotiations, the Syrian official said “anyone who wants to work in good will to resolve the crisis in Syria can take part,” calling to “punish those who finance and arm terrorism, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar.”
The Washington Post – among others – hit the ground running in the wake of an apparent terrorist attack in Germany’s capital of Berlin before evidence was forthcoming and even before German police arrested a suspect.
A truck plowed into a crowded Christmas market, killing 12 and injuring many more in what resembled an attack in Nice, France where a truck likewise plowed into a crowd killing 86 and injuring hundreds more.
Spreading ISIS Propaganda
The Washington Post’s article and others like it followed the self-proclaimed “Islamic State” (ISIS) allegedly taking credit for the incident. Undeterred by a lack of evidence, the Washington Post and other media outlets – eager to capitalize on the attack to further Western narratives – concluded that the attack was aimed at “sharpening the divide between Muslims and everyone else.”
The Washington Post’s article, “Truck attack may be part of ISIS strategy to sharpen divide between Muslims and others,” would claim:
The claim on the official Amaq media channel was short and distressingly familiar: A “soldier of the Islamic State” was behind yet another attack on civilians in Europe, this time at a festive Christmas market in Berlin.
The accuracy of the claim remained in question Tuesday as German authorities searched for both a suspect and a motive behind the deadly truck assault on holiday revelers. But already it appeared that the attack had achieved one of the Islamic State’s stated objectives: spreading fear and chaos in a Western country in hopes of sharpening the divide between Muslims and everyone else.
The Washington Post’s “analysis” fails to explain why ISIS would target a nation so far playing only a minor role in anti-ISIS operations or the logic in provoking a wider divide between Muslims and the West. At one point, the Washington Post actually suggests ISIS may be trying to hinder the flow of refugees away from their territory toward nations like Germany with open-door policies welcoming them.
In reality, the Washington Post and the “experts” it interviewed are merely attempting to perpetuate the myth of what ISIS is and what its supposed objectives and motivations are.
Understanding what ISIS really is, and what it is truly being used for, goes far in explaining why the incident has been so eagerly promoted as a “terrorist attack,” and why other incidents like it are likely to follow.
ISIS Was Created By and For Regime Change in Syria and Beyond
The United States government in a leaked 2012 Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) memo would admit that “supporting powers” including “the West” sought the rise of what it called at the time a “Salafist principality” in eastern Syria, precisely where ISIS is now currently based.
The leaked 2012 report (.pdf) states (emphasis added):
If the situation unravels there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).
To clarify just who these “supporting powers” were that sought the creation of a “Salafist” (Islamic) principality” (State), the DIA report explains:
The West, Gulf countries, and Turkey support the opposition; while Russia, China, and Iran support the regime.
In 2014, in an e-mail between US Counselor to the President John Podesta and former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, it would be admitted that two of America’s closest regional allies – Saudi Arabia and Qatar – were providing financial and logistical support to ISIS.
… we need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to [ISIS] and other radical Sunni groups in the region.
While the e-mail portrays the US in a fight against the very “Salafist” (Islamic) “principality” (State) it sought to create and use as a strategic asset in 2012, the fact that Saudi Arabia and Qatar are both acknowledged as state sponsors of the terrorist organization – and are both still enjoying immense military, economic, and political support from the United States and its European allies – indicates just how disingenuous America’s “war” on ISIS really is.
The scale of the relatively recent attack on Syria’s eastern city of Palmyra took place along a front 10’s of kilometers wide, involving heavy weapons, hundreds of fighters, and was only achievable through immense and continuous state sponsorship as have been all of ISIS’ gains across the region.
It and “other radical Sunni groups” remain the only relevant armed opposition on the ground contesting the Syrian government.
As early as 2007, as revealed by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh in his 2007 article, “The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefitting our enemies in the war on terrorism?,” it was made clear that the US sought to arm and back Al Qaeda-linked militants to overthrow the government’s of Iran and Syria and to do so by laundering weapons, cash, and other forms of support through allies including Saudi Arabia.
ISIS is the full-scale manifestation of this long-documented conspiracy.
So What Did the Berlin Attack Really Seek to Achieve?
Sidestepping verifiably false narratives surrounding the myth of ISIS’ origins and motivations, and recognizing it as a whole cloth creation of the West for achieving Western geopolitical objectives, indicates that attacks like those in Nice, France, and now apparently in Berlin, Germany are aimed at perpetuating a lucrative strategy of tension in which Muslims are increasingly targeted and isolated in the West, more readily recruited by terrorists allowed to operate under the noses of Western security and intelligence agencies, and sent to wage the West’s proxy wars in Syria, Iraq, and eventually Iran.
While the excuses made by newspapers like the Washington Post change with the wind on a daily basis to explain ISIS’ creation and actions, the West’s calculus – warned about by Seymour Hersh in 2007, documented in a 2012 US DIA memo, admitted to in a 2014 leaked e-mail, and evident amid ISIS’ current, wide scale operations in Syria only possible through substantial state sponsorship – has been singular in nature and evident for years – even before the Syrian conflict began.
As long as Washington and its allies believe it is geopolitically profitable to maintain the existence of ISIS – used as both a proxy mercenary force and as a pretext for direct Western military intervention anywhere the terrorist organization conveniently “appears,” attacks like those in Brussels, Paris, Nice, and now apparently in Berlin will persist.
At any time of Washington and Brussels’ choosing, they could expose Saudi Arabia and Qatar’s role in sponsoring ISIS. At any time of Washington and Brussels’ choosing, they could also expose and dismantle the global network of madrasas both nations – with the cooperation of Western intelligence agencies – use to fill the ranks of terrorist organizations like ISIS and Al Qaeda.
Instead, the West covertly assists Saudi Arabia and Qatar in expanding and directing these terrorist networks – using them as a proxy mercenary force and a ready-made pretext for military intervention abroad and as a constant means of dividing and distracting the public at home.
Were the state sponsors of terrorism fully exposed and removed from the equation, the United States and its European allies would find themselves deployed across the planet, engaged in regime change operations, invasions, and occupations without any credible casus belli.
With the US and its allies determined to reassert and maintain global hegemony everywhere from the Middle East and North Africa to Central and East Asia, the manufactured threat of state sponsored terrorism – sponsored by the West’s oldest and closest Arab allies and the West itself – will persist for years to come.
Washington boasts strong military presence in the Persian Gulf. Iran and Yemen are the only countries of the region that don’t host US military facilities. The American armed forces use large air installations in Qatar and expand operations in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Oman. Bahrain is home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet. The US has encouraged the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states to purchase and install the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) and the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) advanced missile defense systems.
The US and the GCC countries underscored a commitment to build the defense system at a summit in May 2015. Formally, the «Iranian threat» was used as a pretext. A joint statement following the summit said that the GCC states were committed to developing a ballistic missile defense capability, including an early warning system, with US technical support. The development of a robust integrated BMD network across the region is a primary goal for the US military. It guarantees that the GCC security will depend on the United States.
On December 10, Secretary Ashton Carter told an audience at the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) regional security conference in Manama, Bahrain, that an agreement had been reached to allow Qatar to purchase a long range early warning radar (EWR) from Raytheon. «We reached an agreement for Qatar to purchase a 5,000 km [range] early warning radar to enhance its missile defenses», the official announced.
In July 2013, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Qatar of A/N FPS-132 Block 5 Early Warning Radar (EWR) and associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support for an estimated cost of $1.1 billion.
According to Raytheon, the AN/FPS-132 system is designed to detect missile launches that take place thousands of miles away to provide advanced warning time to alert command and control centers and cue fire control systems. ‘This highly reliable radar requires very low manning, yet will operate 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, providing up to 360 degrees of coverage out to 5,000km,’ said Steve Sparagna, chief engineer for the AN/FPS-132 EWR. ‘It is the ideal sensor to deter and detect hostile missile launches.’
According to Michael Elleman, a senior fellow for missile defence with the IISS, the system in future can provide not only Qatar but a unified GCC ballistic missile defence system an early warning capability against any Iranian ballistic missile launches.
The AN/FPS-132 to be based in Qatar is a very special case. It is designed to be used as an early warning system against strategic offensive assets – something Iran does not possess. For instance, the radars of this type are located in Beale Air Force Base, California, RAF Fylingdales, the United Kingdom, and Thule Air Base, Greenland to operate in the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) BMD system (BMDS). Following formal Missile Defense Agency (MDA) ground test events in FY17/18, Clear and Cape Cod upgraded EWRs (UEWR) are scheduled to be BMDS certified in FY18/19, respectively.
The announced range of 5,000km (3,100mi) by far exceeds the requirement to counter a missile threat coming from Iran. There are radars with shorter range to support the PAC-3 and THAAD systems deployed by GCC countries. In theory, the truck-mounted AN/TPY-2 is the right system for the mission. It can spot a missile launch from hundreds of miles away. If it is effective enough to be stationed in South Korea to counter Pyongyang and monitor parts of China, why is it different in the case of Persian Gulf?
The deployment of AN/FPS-132 to Qatar is not needed to support NATO assets stationed in Europe against Iran. A high powered early warning X band radar is stationed in Malatya, Turkey to carry out the mission. It is operational since January 2012. There is no answer why exactly the AN/FPS-132 – the UEWR with such an impressive detection range – should be used to counter Iran from the Gulf. The distance from Qatar to Iran is just 821 kilometers (510mi). It takes roughly 1,700 km (1,056mi) to reach Turkmenistan from Qatar across the territory of Iran. The AN/TPY-2 covers the whole country. The radar’s estimated range is from 1,500km (932mi) to 3,000km (1,864mi). The maximum instrumented range is 2,000km (1242mi). Obviously, one does not need a radar with an operational range of 5,000km to counter a threat coming from Iran. There is no other reasonable explanation for the choice, except the fact that the AN/FPS-132 can monitor large chunks of Russian territory.
Janes, perhaps unwittingly, confirms the fact. It says, «Raytheon was awarded a USD2.4 billion contract in December 2014 to build Qatar an Air and Missile Defence Operations Centre (ADOC) that it said will «integrate US air defence systems – including Patriot, the Early Warning Radar, and THAAD – with European air defence systems and radars, and Qatar’s Air Operation Centre». It proves that the Qatar-based AN/FPS-132 UEWR is an element of the emerging US global BMDS created to counter Russian nuclear strategic forces.
The announcement of the US-Qatar deal is a demonstration of US adamant resolve to surround the Russian Federation with BMD sites and neutralize its capability to deliver a retaliatory strike if attacked. This is a very disturbing fact. Russia will not sit idle watching the developments. The US has just taken another provocative step to undermine Russia’s security and complicate the bilateral relations.
A Kremlin readout on the phone call made by President Vladimir Putin to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad on Friday to formally congratulate the latter on the liberation of Aleppo, highlighted that the Russian leader “stressed that the main task now is to focus on furthering the peace process, in particular by signing an agreement on comprehensive resolution of the Syrian crisis.”
Putin’s remark is an important signpost of the way forward in Syria. Moscow disfavours continuation of military operations by the Syrian government forces to regain control of the entire country (which would be the likely preference of Damascus and Tehran) and prefers that conditions must be made available to open the peace track. At any rate, all 5 major cities in Syria and the entire Mediterranean coast, where the bulk of Syrian population is concentrated, is in government hands already and the opposition is left to hold Idlib and isolated pockets in the south and east, with supply lines under immense pressure.
A ceasefire all across Syria is in the making. This appears to be the understanding reached at the 2-track ‘trilateral’ of the foreign and defence ministers of Russia, Turkey and Iran which was held in Moscow on Tuesday. Interestingly, at a meeting in the Kremlin on Friday to report to Putin on the conclusion of the operations to liberate Aleppo and the successful downstream activities to evacuate civilians and render humanitarian assistance (in terms of a deal between Turkey, Russia and Iran), Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu also made a significant remark that “In our (military’s) opinion, we are close to reaching an agreement on a complete ceasefire across Syria.” Putin responded:
- Together with our partners from Iran and Turkey, and of course with the Syrian government, other countries in the region and all countries concerned, we will need to continue efforts to achieve a final settlement. We must make the greatest effort now to end hostilities everywhere in Syria, and we will, at least, do our sincerest best to achieve this goal.
Of course, the campaign against the Islamic State and the al-Qaeda affiliates will continue. A ceasefire all across Syria has been a key demand by Turkey. Interestingly, Putin referred to the objective of drawing “other countries in the region” (other than Turkey and Iran) into these processes. The reference is to Saudi Arabia and Qatar principally. Conceivably, Russian diplomacy is at work on this front.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said he expected the peace talks to take place in Astana in mid-January. But TASS news agency quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying: “I wouldn’t talk now about timing. Right now contacts are being made and preparation is under way for the meeting.” He said Putin would have a series of international telephone calls later to discuss the Astana talks.
Whether the Gulf sheikhs will be willing to drink from the chalice of poison remains to be seen. But what alternative is left for them now that the ‘regime change’ agenda in Syria is off the rails? Equally, a shift in Saudi and Qatari policies, away from further intervention in the Syrian conflict, will also at some point raise another ticklish question: What about the role of Hezbollah and other Shi’ite militia groups from Iran and Iraq who have been fighting in Syria? How an all-Syria ceasefire will be enforced remains to be seen.
Moscow’s objective will be to create new facts on the ground by the time the Trump administration shifts gear on Syria policies. Moscow has signalled on Friday that it is preparing for the long haul as well, with Putin signing a presidential decree ordering the signing of a deal with Syria that will “expand the territory” of Russia’s naval facility in Tartus and allow Russian warships into Syrian waters. The Soviet-era base is currently inadequate to serve most of the modern ships in the Russian Navy.
If the Syrian peace talks take off in the coming weeks, it will amount to a huge victory for Russia’s prestige in the Middle East and for Putin, in particular. But that is a big ‘if’. The good part is that with a relatively cooperative US administration settling down in Washington soon, which may be inclined to collaborate with Russia.
The New York Times has been leading the charge against “fake news.” Yet its own reporting and editorial positions are often as one-sided, distorted, or downright mendacious as the worst of the pseudo-alternative websites. The Times’ coverage of wars, especially those of strategic import for the US and/or Israel (not necessarily in that order) is a particularly fertile field of fake news flummery.
Most of America’s armed conflicts and interventions have been driven by New York Times war propaganda, and the current conflagration in Syria is no exception. An especially egregious, over-the-top example of “damn the facts, full speed ahead” warmongering, every bit as bad as the Judith Miller version of Iraqi WMD, is last Wednesday’s op-ed by the Editorial Board, “Aleppo’s Destroyers: Assad, Putin, Iran.”
The headline, like the diatribe beneath it, conceals the identities of the worst of the “destroyers” of Aleppo and Syria: Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, the US and Israel. These governments have created, armed, financed, advised, and otherwise enabled the various militias, mercenaries, and terrorist groups that overran Aleppo and dismembered Syria.
Assad is the elected President of Syria, and Russia and Iran have intervened at the request of Syria’s legitimate government. Naming these three the “destroyers” of Aleppo, while ignoring the aggressors responsible for the proxy war on Syria, is practicing “fake news” at its worst.
The NY Times Editorial Board writes:
“Mr. Putin’s bloody actions — the bombing of civilian neighborhoods, the destruction of hospitals, the refusal to allow noncombatants to receive food, fuel and medical supplies — are all in violation of international law.”
International law?! What about the non-aggression principle and the doctrine of national sovereignty, the twin foundations of international law as it pertains to war and peace? Are not all nations sovereign entities whose borders are inviolable? Are not the Americans, Israelis, Saudis, Qataris, Emiratis and Turks committing aggression by attempting to overthrow the government of a sovereign nation? And is not such aggression “the supreme war crime” according to international law as enshrined in the Nuremberg precedent?
We know who is committing the supreme war crime, aggression. And we know who is fighting in defense of national sovereignty.
What about the lesser war crimes, all of which are the fruits of the supreme crime, aggression?
It is difficult to separate the facts from the propaganda regarding allegations of particular war crimes in Syria, thanks in large part to the lies of the anti-Assad propaganda industry supported by the West and its regional proxies. We do know that the worst atrocity alleged to have been committed by Assad – the August 2013 chemical weapons massacre at al-Ghouta – has been exposed as a false flag whose real authors were Saudi and Turkish intelligence agents, aided and abetted by Americans and Israelis. (Veterans Today exposed how the sarin was manufactured in Georgia at a US-run factory and smuggled through Turkey into Syria, while Seymour Hersh had to find a non-US publisher to explain how the monumental false flag fail at al-Ghouta forced Obama to abort plans for a US aerial assault on Damascus.)
Wikipedia tells us that between 281 and 1,729 people died in the al-Ghouta sarin attack. Why is the New York Times not demanding war crimes trials for the American, Turkish, and Saudi perpetrators of this monstrous massacre, which was designed to be blamed on Assad in order to trigger a US bombing campaign? Why has al-Ghouta, the worst atrocity of the war, been consigned to the memory hole?
The New York Times falsely reported that Assad bombed his own people at al-Ghouta. No more outrageous, criminal example of “fake news” could possibly be imagined — except, perhaps, for the Times coverage of 9/11 … coverage whose monumental lies, concealments and coverups have directly led to the deaths of many millions of people worldwide, including those who have perished in the “civil war” in Syria as well as the violence in the other “seven countries in five years” whose destruction was the main purpose of the 9/11 false flag operation.
The New York Times is not just a purveyor of fake news, it is a purveyor of propaganda for the supreme war crime, aggression, and several lesser crimes including genocide. If we are going to start shutting down “fake news” outlets, perhaps we should begin with the Times and the other mainstream media war criminals.
If the western world cared for Syria as much as CNN and the BBC appear to, heaven would reign here on Earth. Every waking hour of every day the tears of British, American, and European media publishers cascade over us. Those “White Helmets”, the humanitarian saints, the word wielding White House spokespeople immerse us in their humanity. And their humanity is a sinful joke.
For nearly four years now I’ve watched this sardonic drama unfold. A Nobel Peace Prize laureate turns the dogs of war loose. Morals and ideals are upended like dancing bowling pins. Liars blame truthtellers for the chaos we see, and those of us who embrace a moderate stance get labeled as trolls, traitors, fakes or worse. Proven criminals and elitist warmongers roam everywhere, and somehow we’ve evolved to accept it all. Madness is the only word that comes close to describing American policy these days, but the most maddening thing is the hypocrisy and arrogance. BBC! Every time I see the letters under a headline I cringe.
According to CNN, the Syrian Army is executing the families of Free Syrian Army rebels. With western world leaders up in arms over so-called “Fake News”, the Cable News Network is sourcing an “activist” named Mohammad Basbous, and a suspect media network called the Aleppo Media Center. With its Twitter account suspended, its Facebook broadcasting clear jihadist propaganda, this writer wonders at how CNN even considered this source. The YouTube channel features videos from Aleppo with soundtrack elements reminiscent of the film The Last Samurai. Bleeding children filmed like method actors, distraught mothers whaling, the angelic White Helmets workers salvaging what they can, the AMC channel shows the Al Nusra side of things without apology. Embedded within this propaganda though, the reality of a lie is readily seen. Scant days before the Syrian Army takes over a neighborhood, brave captains of the rebel uprising proclaim one small victory after another in the face of demonic attacks by Assad and Russia. If the Syria coverage were seen in a carnival tent it would be more convincing.
Still some believe the battle for Aleppo, Palmyra, and all of Syria is somehow a noble quest for democracy! But who are these CNN and BBC sources really? On the AMC Facebook pages we find four people associated with the account. Yousef Seddik, Zein Al-Rifai, Hasan Kattan, and the aforementioned CNN source Mohammad Basbous. Maybe if we look at them one at a time we can discern how the most prolific media in the west validates them.
Yousef Seddik broadcasts White Helmets heroism via Twitter to his 329 followers. As an expert in social media I can glean much from this account established back in 2013. First follows are often telling of people not so aware of social media, and Seddik creating this account as a function of the AMC network is brutally clear. Among his initial Twitter pals we find none other than Rima Maktabi, who hosted for two years CNN‘s monthly program Inside the Middle East. She works for Saudi TV Al Arabiya. Seddik’s very first “follow” was in fact Zidane Zenglow, another Al Arabiya correspondent. I could go on but what’s more telling than who someone follows in social media, is who “is” following a subject. Saudis quoting the Koran and how paradise is won by the faithful are Seddik’s first admirers, along with Al Arabiya correspondents following back.
Zein Al-Rifai is the freelance photojournalist who works for AMC. He’s the man who films the dying, dead, destruction and riveting propaganda this network spews out. He follows people like the President of France and the US Secretary of State, along with Saudi ministers, the White Helmets, and first follows indicating his social media was always about the war versus Assad. One early Tweep tweets about all the factions coming together as one now that Aleppo has fallen. I could dig deeper, but let’s move on.
Hassan Kattan is from Aleppo according to his social profiles. This rebel sympathizer began his social media efforts by following France 24 and the Saudi TV stations, and Shaam News Network in Damascus. This AMC operative just tweeted “We want freedom, we want to topple Assad” 8 hours ago. Here is the rough translation of a Facebook posting by him from November 24th:
“I swear our hearts tired blessings of God
A lot of pressure and reality hurts.
We lost a lot in this period of our friendly and loved us.
Personally I hate moments of weakness and hate across her.
We still have great confidence that e revolution will win. If we live or we die and that if we meet our God will not be afraid to ask him about what we did with our lives and what we have provided to our cause.!
Finally, if you trace down the network of people behind these CNN and BBC “sources” you always arrive at a dark destination. On the surface of these people and their accounts we find the fake idealism embracing the dead and destroyed in Aleppo and elsewhere in Syria. Underneath, down the trail of collaborators and friends we find the AK 47s, the trenches and windows with snipers shooting at the real Syrian Army. There is no mistaking the “jihad” in the jihadist, in the revolutionary. I also find it ironic that Syria expert Vanessa Beeley talking with recently rescued citizens from East Aleppo revealed these White Helmet rescuers as phantoms, ghosts no trapped civilians there ever heard tell of.
Looking at the Twitter feed of an Aleppo named Fares Shehabi I find more credible news from freed Aleppo citizens. But CNN did not interview this Syrian official, unless I miss my guess. Shehabi, one of the most respected business and political figures in Syria, will probably end up being prime minister or president one day, so it’s puzzling nobody but Sputnik is talking with him since Reuters mentioned him in 2012.
On a final note, there is a common thread that runs through these “sources” histories. A man named Wadah Khanfar appears frequently. The President of Al Sharq Forum today was once the Director General of Al Jazeera Media Network. His presence in the social networks and media surrounding the AMC people brings to mind the scandal when WikiLeaks documents revealed Khanfar once unduly influencing Al Jazeera’s news coverage of the War in Iraq at the behest of U.S. embassy officials in Qatar. He subsequently resigned, but his role with elitists at the now notorious International Crisis Group as one of the Board of Trustees, is telling for me.
Khanfar is tweeting about executions to his 2.1 million followers too. Next I will follow the breadcrumbs from Aleppo to Kurdistan and the US interests there, as well as how the Davos elites tie in.
Phil Butler, is a policy investigator and analyst, a political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe.
Ever since the passage of the Patriot Act in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, it has been a crime to provide “material support” to groups designated as terrorists by the U.S. State Department, including ISIS and al-Qaida and its Syrian affiliate, the al-Nusra Front. As the law is interpreted, “material support” can mean providing almost any kind of service or assistance that a prosecutor believes might materially help the designated group — even attending a peace conference or representing a group member in court. Americans have done hard time in prison for being found in violation of this law. But, at the same time, the United States has spent billions of dollars to arm, train and protect whole armies of jihadist terrorists in Syria – Islamist fighters that collaborate in every possible way with al-Qaida and its offspring in the al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State.
In the words of Tulsi Gabbard, the Democratic congresswoman from Hawaii: “This madness must end… The Government must end this hypocrisy and abide by the same laws that apply to its citizens.” Gabbard has introduced a bill to force the U.S. government to abide by its own laws, as well as international law, by making it specifically illegal for the U.S. to fund aid of any kind, not just to al-Qaida and ISIS, but to any other groups that collaborate with them. In Syria, that means virtually all of the so-called “moderate” rebels that the U.S. and its allies have lavished billions of dollars on. Just as importantly, Gabbard’s Stop Arming Terrorists Act makes it illegal for the United States to give aid to any nation that assists these terrorists. That means the U.S. would be compelled to cut off aid to Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Israel, the biggest recipient of U.S. aid in the world, which openly brags about treating al-Qaida fighters in Israeli hospitals. The U.S. would also have to cut off all assistance to Britain, France and most of the rest of NATO, for their assistance to terrorists in Syria.
Rep. Keith Ellison: Useless to the Cause of Peace
Earlier this year, the Obama administration reneged on its agreement with Russia to draw up a list of the jihadist groups Washington supports, and to make sure they don’t fight alongside al-Qaida. Gabbard’s law would require that the Director of National Intelligence draw up a list of the jihadi groups that are cooperating with al-Qaida and ISIS, and update that list every six months, to make sure none of them get U.S. assistance.
Gabbard models her bill on 1980s Boland Amendment that halted U.S. aid to the U.S. Contra terrorists, in Nicaragua. She was joined by two Republican and two Democratic co-sponsors, including Black California congresswoman Barbara Lee. The bill is endorsed by the Progressive Democrats of America and the U.S. Peace Council. But don’t expect it to get effective support from the Progressive Caucus in the U.S. Congress. Minnesota Black congressman Keith Ellison is Caucus co-chair – and absolutely worthless to the cause of peace. He supported the war against Libya and the proxy war in Syria, which is why he stands a good chance of becoming head of the Democratic National Committee, where it’s all war, and anti-Russia, all the time.
CNN’s hostile treatment of Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard after revealing US arming, funding Terrorists in Syria
Recently, Democrat Hawaii Congresswoman, Tulsi Gabbard, went on CNN’s “The Lead” hosted by Jake Tapper, to talk about Donald Trump’s foreign policy, and more importantly, to discuss the disturbing reality of US taxpayer support of armed militants and terrorists in places like Syria. Instead of adulation for doing the honorable thing, she received a hostile reaction from one of CNN’s many highly paid onscreen propagandists.
When asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper (photo, right) about US Representative Tulsi Gabbard’s recent visit to Trump Tower, she replied, “My goal in going there, in receiving the invitation to speak to President-elect Trump was to speak specifically about the situation in Syria, the dangerous consequences of escalating the regime change war that the United States is fuelling there along with countries like Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, and Turkey are escalating that through a so-called no-fly zone or safe zone. And urging him to end our regime change war there to stop funding both directly and indirectly groups that are working with Al Qaeda and ISIS. And to stop funneling those dollars and weapons and other assistance through these others countries like Saudi Arabia who are directly supporting these terrorist groups who are supposed to be our enemy, who we’re supposed to be fighting to defeat.”
Visibly agitated by her answer, Tapper then asks Gabbard, herself an Iraq War veteran and a current member of the Hawaii National Guard, about her recent Bill introduced on the House floor last week entitled, the “Stop Arming Terrorists Act,” which proposes severe legal repercussions to any US officials or persons involved in the arming or funding, either directly or possibly indirectly, of terrorists overseas – including the US-backed “rebel” terrorists currently operating in Syria. What’s key is that Gabbard points out that this activity is funded by the US taxpayer. Not surprisingly, CNN has never reported this side of the clandestine issue before. Here’s how their fascinating conversation transpired:
TAPPER: And tell me about legislation. You have a bill that you introduced today that would address loopholes.
TAPPER: You say have allowed American taxpayer dollars to fund terror groups such as Al Qaeda and ISIS in Syria. Are you — are you suggesting that the U.S. government is funding these terrorist groups?
GABBARD: I’m not only suggesting it. This is — this is the reality that we’re living in.
TAPPER: Not directly, though.
GABBARD: Most Americans — you know, if you were — I were to go and provide money, weapons, or support or whatever to a group like Al Qaeda or ISIS, you would immediately be thrown in Jail. However, the U.S. government has been providing money, weapons, intel assistance and other types of support through the CIA, directly to these groups that are working with and are affiliated with Al Qaeda and ISIS.
TAPPER: So, you’re saying the CIA is giving money to groups in Syria, and those groups are working with Al-Nusra and ISIS.
GABBARD: There are — there have been numerous reports from The New York Times to the Wall Street Journal and other news outlets who have declared that these rebel groups have formed these battlefield alliances with Al Qaeda, that essentially is Al Qaeda groups are in charge of every single rebel group on the ground fighting in Syria to overthrow the Syrian government.
Tapper goes on to act stunned and befuddled, insinuating that Gabbard is “wrong” – as if Gabbard were somehow making up her accusations, as he becomes somewhat confused trying to manage CNN’s complicated contrived narrative. Tapper then insists that “Obviously, they (US-funded ‘rebel’ terrorists) are all fighting Assad.” Gabbard quickly calls out Tapper’s clear attempt at US State Dept propaganda talking points management Here’s the latter exchange:
TAPPER: And the U.S. government says they vet the groups that they give money to very, very closely. And that you’re wrong, there are not alliances between groups that the American taxpayers fund and these other groups. Obviously, they all are fighting Assad.
GABBARD: I beg to differ. Evidence has shown time and time again that that is not the case, that we are both directly and indirectly supporting these groups who are allied with or partnered with Al Qaeda and ISIS, in working to over throw the Syrian government of Assad. And we’ve also been providing that support through countries like Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar to do that.
Gabbard’s brave new legislation might be the most important and explosive development regarding Syrian Foreign Policy in Washington, but instead of pursuing this discussion, CNN’s Tapper predictably tried to change the subject to Michael Flynn instead.
Watch this incredible exchange here:
21WIRE has reported previously on the possibility that CNN is serving as a media adjunct to either the Pentagon, NSA or the CIA (or all three). Judging by Jake Tapper’s offhanded comments and attempt to discredit Gabbard live on air, it only strengthens that probability.
21WIRE also reported previously how CNN has clearly chosen to only air coverage favorable to what the network has claimed to be “rebels” in Syria, when in reality – these were mostly terrorist fighting groups. CNN’s “star reporter” Clarissa Ward even went so far as to characterize terrorist suicide bombers in a sympathetic manner in her reports – clearly designed to give positive PR to terrorists groups like Al Nusra Front who have been occupying East Aleppo since 2012. Other actors in field seemingly employed by CNN who are operating in clear support of terrorists in East Aleppo include one Bilal Abdul Karim an apparent US asset promoting jihadist extremism, together with Ward, producing what are clearly staged reports, alongside CNN’s endless airing of unvetted, staged White Helmets imagery. 21WIRE have also recently revealed additional terrorist-links with the White Helmets, who are a US State Dept, British Foreign Office and EU-funded pseudo NGO – and passing it off to the viewing public as authentic video and photos supplied by nameless “Syrian activists”.
Throughout the west’s proxy war against Syria, CNN has only reported the rebel/terrorist perspective, shamelessly portraying militant terrorists as “moderate rebels” and freedom fighters, while systematically demonizing any Syrian or Russian who is defending the nation-state of Syria. This might explain Tapper’s near contempt for Gabbard’s accurate statements regarding US arming and funding of known terrorist groups in Syria.
2016 was the year that CNN was exposed as perhaps the most corrupt mainstream media outlet in the United States. A number of other leaked emails revealed an unprecedented level of media corruption and systematic partisan collusion between operatives at CNN and the Hillary Clinton Campaign – a naked violation of every fundamental principle of nonobjective press practices. In the leaked email exchanges, one could see gleeful Clinton campaign officials boasting about getting favorable news coverage from compliant mainstream media ‘journalists’ – with CNN being perhaps the worst offender. Clinton staffers even went so far as to circulate names of journalists who were deemed “friendly” to their candidate.
Among the notorious Wikileaks email dump was a CNN request to DNC staffers asking for questions to ask during a Wolf Blitzer interview with then GOP candidate Donald Trump.
In another email on April 28, CNN operative Jason Seher, a writer for Jake Tapper’s show “The Lead” on CNN, emailed DNC media coordinator Pablo Manriquez thanking him for working behind the scenes with CNN.
In a separate conversation CNN’s Seher, then thanked DNC insider Martinez for ‘facilitating Luis coming on today, and bearing with us through a meelee of GOP nonsense and cancellations and all that. Any particular points he’ll want to make? We’re gonna stay Dem focused…’
Perhaps the worst CNN violation of press independence was when the network’s supposed “chief political analyst,” Gloria Borger, tried to get an interview with Clinton chief of staff John Podesta by assuring him of essentially softball questions.
“I know John will have an exalted place in the campaign, and would love to chat with him about HRC, in a general way, not in a gotcha way re HRC,” said Borger. “It would be about 10 mins, very general, about her as a person and a candidate.”
What most amazing about all of this, is that CNN executives refused to consider firing any of their personalities who have been implicated in open collusion with the Democratic party during one of the most crucial political contests in US history.
In another leak provided to The Intercept by the source known as Gucifer 2.0 Other CNN reporters discovered on the DNC’s ‘VIP List’ of media operatives counted on by the Clinton campaign included Kate Bouldan, Brianna Kielar, Jeff Zeleny, Sam Feist, David Chalian, John Berman, and Mark Preston.
The only person who lost their paid position with CNN was the now disgrace political operative, Donna Brazile, currently still holding onto her gifted position as interim Chairwoman of the DNC – who was also moonlight for extra cash as “contributor” for CNN. Brazile was also a Super Delegate for Hillary Clinton. Podesta Email dumps exposed the fact that Brazile, a CNN contributor was caught giving Hillary’s campaign debate questions in advance of CNN’s Town Hall debate event.
As a result, CNN’s reputation as a trustworthy media outlets has been held in question by most of the public.
When it comes to coverage of both the 2016 Election and the Syrian War, CNN has been on the wrong side of history – and should not be trusted to give accurate and fair reporting regarding serious and important issues.
UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s recent criticism of Saudi Arabia has worried British officials, with various government figures trying to gloss them over as Johnson’s own personal views.
During a conference in Rome last week, Johnson blasted the Riyadh regime over its “proxy wars” in the Middle East and its unprovoked military aggression against Yemen, which has killed over 11,000 Yemenis since March 2015.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokeswoman immediately rebuked the remarks back then, saying the comments did not reflect “the government’s views on Saudi and its role in the region.”
Johnson’s statements divided the UK Parliament, with many of the lawmakers saying that he was stating the truth and should not face public chastisement.
UK Defense Minister Michael Fallon lashed out at the media on Sunday, for blowing the story out of proportions and confecting an artificial row between Johnson and the Downing Street.
“Let’s be very clear about this. The way some of his remarks were reported seemed to imply that we didn’t support the right of Saudi Arabia to defend itself… and didn’t support what Saudi Arabia is doing in leading the campaign to restore the legitimate government of Yemen,” Fallon said during a BBC interview.
“Some of the reporting led people to think that,” he added. “The way it was interpreted left people with the impression that we didn’t support Saudi Arabia and we do.”
Fallon said the months-long Saudi invasion against its impoverished southern neighbor was in self-defense, a right that London thought Riyadh was entitled to.
“The government’s view is absolutely clear – that what Saudi Arabia is entitled to do is defend itself from these attacks across its own border,” he said.
Johnson’s remarks came at a time when May was in the Middle East, trying to cement military and economic ties with [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council nations – Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain and Qatar.
Besides helping Bahrain with a heavy-handed crackdown on its popular uprising, Britain has also been providing weapons and intelligence to Saudis in the attacks against civilian targets in Yemen.
Hawks pass HR5732
Late in the day Tuesday November 15, Congress convened in special session. With normal rules suspended, they passed House Resolution 5732 the “Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act”. The resolution calls for intensifying already harsh sanctions on Syria, assessing implementation of No Fly Zone in Syria and escalating efforts to press criminal charges against Syrian officials. HR5732 claims to promote a negotiated settlement in Syria but, as analyzed by Friends Committee for National Legislation, imposes preconditions which would actually make that more difficult.
There was 40 minutes of “debate” with six representatives (Royce, Engel, Ros-Lehtinen, Kildee, Smith, and Curbelo) speaking in favor of the resolution. There were few other Congressional representatives present in Congress. The House Foreign Affairs Committee stated that the resolution was passed “unanimously” without mentioning the special conditions.
The “Non Controversial” Resolution that could lead to World War III
According to wikipedia “Suspension of the rules is a procedure generally used to quickly pass non-controversial bills in the United States House of Representatives …. such as naming Post Offices…” In this case, the resolution calls for evaluating and developing plans for a “No Fly Zone” which is an act of war. This is obviously controversial and it seems clear the resolution should have been debated and discussed under normal rules with a normal amount of Congressional presence and debate.
The motivation for bypassing normal rules and rushing the bill through without debate was articulated by the bill’s author and ranking Democrat Eliot Engel: “We cannot delay action on Syria any further…. if we don’t get this legislation across the finish line in the next few weeks, we are back to square one.” The current urgency may be related to the election results since Trump has spoken out against “regime change” foreign policy. As much as they are critical of Obama for not doing more, Congressional neoconservatives are concerned about the prospect of a President who might move toward peace and away from war.
The Caesar Fraud
HR5732 is titled the “Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act”. Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Ed Royce (R-Ca) explained that the resolution is named after “the brave Syrian defector known to the world as Caesar, who testified to us the shocking scale of torture being carried out within the prisons of Syria.”
In reality, the Caesar story was a grand deception involving the CIA with funding from Qatar to sabotage the 2014 Geneva negotiations. The 55,000 photos which were said to show 11,000 torture victims have never been publicly revealed. Only a tiny number of photos have been publicized. However, in 2015 Human Rights Watch was granted access to view the entire set. They revealed that almost one half the photos show the opposite of what was claimed: instead of victims tortured by the Syrian government, they actually show dead Syrian soldiers and civilian victims of car bombs and other terror attacks! The “Caesar” story, replete with masked ‘defector’, was one of the early propaganda hoaxes regarding Syria.
False Claims that the US has been doing nothing
One of the big lies regarding Syria is that the US has been inactive. Royce says:
The administration has decided not to decide. And that itself, unfortunately, has set a course where here we sit and watch and the violence only worsens. Mr. Speaker, America has been sitting back and watching these atrocities for far too long. Vital U.S. national security interests are at stake.
The ranking Democrat Eliot Engel said:
Four years ago I thought we should have aided the Free Syrian Army. They came to us in Washington and begged us for help… they were simply looking for weaponry. I really believe if we had given it to them, the situation in Syria would have been different today.
This is nonsense. The US was actively coordinating, training and supplying armed opposition groups beginning in late 2011. When the Qadaffi government was toppled in Fall 2011, the CIA oversaw the theft of the Libyan armories and shipment of weapons to Syrian armed opposition as documented in the Defense Intelligence Agency report of October 2012.
These weapons transfers were secret. For the public record it was acknowledged that the US was supplying communications equipment to the armed opposition while Saudi Arabia and Qatar were supplying weaponry. This is one reason that Saudi purchases of weapons skyrocketed during this time period; they were buying weapons to replace those being shipped to the armed opposition in Syria. It was very profitable for US arms manufacturers.
Huge weapons transfers to the armed opposition in Syria have continued to the present. This past Spring, Janes Defense reported the details of a U.S. delivery of 2.2 million pounds of ammunition, rocket launchers and other weaponry to the armed opposition.
Claims that the US has been inactive are baseless. In reality the US has done everything short of a direct attack on Syria. And the US military is starting to cross that barrier. On September 17 the US air coalition did a direct attack on the Syrian Army in Deir Ezzor, killing 80 Syrian soldiers and enabling ISIS to launch an attack on the position. Claims that it was a “mistake” are highly dubious.
The claims by Congressional hawks that the US has been ‘inactive’ in the Syrian conflict are part of the false narrative suggesting the US must “do something” which leads to a No Fly Zone and full scale war. Ironically, these calls for war are masked as “humanitarian”. And never do the proponents bring up the case of Libya where the US and NATO “did something”: destroyed the government and left chaos.
Congress as a Fact-Free House of Propaganda
With only a handful of representatives present and no debate, the six Congress members engaged in unrestrained propaganda and misinformation. The leading Democrat, Eliot Engel, said “We’re going into the New Year 2017, Assad still clings to power, at the expense of killing millions of his citizens.” That number is way off anyone’s charts.
Rep Kildee said “The world has witnessed this terrible tragedy unfold before our eyes. Nearly half a million Syrians killed. Not soldiers – men, women, children killed.”
The official text of the resolution says,
It is the sense of Congress that–
(1) Bashar al-Assad’s murderous actions against the people of Syria have caused the deaths of more than 400,000 civilians…
The above accusations – from “millions of citizens” to “half a million” to “400,000 civilians” – are all preposterous lies.
Credible estimates of casualties in the Syrian conflict range from 300,000 to 420,000. The opposition supporting Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimates the documented 2011-2016 death toll as follows:
killed pro Syrian forces – 108,000
killed anti government forces – 105,000
killed civilians – 89,000
In contrast with Congressional and media claims, civilians comprise a minority of the total death count and the largest casualty group is those fighting in defense of the the Syrian state. These facts are ignored and never mentioned because they point to the reality versus the propaganda narrative which allows the USA and allies to continue funding terrorism and a war of aggression against Syria.
The Congressional speakers were in full self-righteous mode as they accused the Syrian government of “committing crimes against humanity and war crimes against civilians including murder, torture and rape. No one has been spared from this targeting, even children.” A naive listener would never know that the Syrian government is primarily fighting the Syrian branch of Al Qaeda including thousands of foreigners supplied and paid by foreign governments.
The Congressional speakers go on to accuse the Syrian military of “targeting” hospitals, schools and markets. A critical listener might ask why they would do that instead of targeting the Al Qaeda terrorists and their allies who launch dozens and sometimes hundreds of hell cannon missiles into government held Aleppo every day.
The Congressional propaganda fest would not be complete without mention of the “White Helmets.” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce said:
We (previously) heard the testimony of Raed Saleh of the Syrian White Helmets. These are the doctors, nurses and volunteers who actually, when the bombs come, run towards the areas that have been hit in order to try to get the injured civilians medical treatment… They have lost over 600 doctors and nurses.
This is more Congressional nonsense. There are no nurses or doctors associated with the White Helmets. The organization was created by the USA and UK and heavily promoted by a “shady PR firm.” The White Helmets operate solely in areas controlled by Nusra and associated terrorist groups. They do some rescue work in the conflict zone but their main role is in the information war manipulating public opinion. The White Helmets actively promote US/NATO intervention through a No Fly Zone. Recently the White Helmets has become a major source of claims of innocent civilian victims in east Aleppo. Given the clear history of the White Helmets, these claims should be treated with skepticism. What exactly is the evidence? The same skepticism needs to be applied to video and other reports from the Aleppo Media Center. AMC is a creation of the Syrian Expatriates Organization whose address on K Street, Washington DC indicates it is a US marketing operation.
What is really going on?
The campaign to overthrow the Syrian government is failing and there is possibility of a victory for the Syrian government and allies. The previous flood of international jihadi recruits has dried up. The Syrian Army and allies are gaining ground militarily and negotiating settlements or re-locations with “rebels” who previously terrorized Homs, Darraya (outer Damascus) and elsewhere. In Aleppo the Syrian army and allies are tightening the noose around the armed opposition in east Aleppo.
This has caused alarm among neoconservative lawmakers devoted to Israel, Saudi Arabia and U.S. empire. They are desperate to prevent the Syrian government from finally eliminating the terrorist groups which the West and allies have promoted for the past 5+ years.
“Pro Israel” groups have been major campaigners for passage of HR5732. The name of Simon Wiesenthal is even invoked in the resolution. With crocodile tears fully flowing, Rabbi Lee Bycel wrote “Where is the Conscience of the World?” as he questioned why the “humanitarian” HR5732 was not passed earlier.
Israeli interests are one of the primary forces sustaining and promoting the conflict. Syria is officially at war with Israel which continues to occupy the Syrian Golan Heights; Syria has been a key ally of the Lebanese resistance; and Syria has maintained its alliance with Iran. In 2010 Secretary of State Clinton urged Syria to break relations with Hezbollah, reduce relations with Iran and come to settlement with Israel. The Syrian refusal to comply with these Washington demands was instrumental in solidifying Washington’s hostility.
Congressional proponents of HR5732 make clear the international dimension of the conflict. Royce explains “It is Russia, it is Hezbollah, that are the primary movers of death and destruction… it is the IRGC fighters from Iran.” Engel echoes the same message: “Yes, we want to go after Assad’s partners in violence… along with Iranian and Hezbollah forces”.
These statements are in contrast with the analysis of some writers who believe Israel is not deeply opposed to the Damascus government. For example, Phyllis Bennis recently wrote that belief in an “arc of resistance” has been “long debunked” and that “the Syrian regime …. often plays a useful role for US and Israeli interests.”
It’s remarkable that this faulty analysis continues to be propounded. In words and deeds Israel has made its position on Syria crystal clear. Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren explained in an interview:
We always wanted [President] Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran … the greatest danger to Israel is by the strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut. And we saw the Assad regime as the keystone in that arc.
What Will Happen Now?
If the Syrian government and allies continue to advance in Aleppo, Deir Ezzor, outer Damascus and the south, the situation will come to a head. The enemies of Syria – predominately the USA, Gulf Countries, NATO and Israel – will come to a decision point. Do they intervene directly or do they allow their regime project to collapse?
HR5732 is an effort to prepare for direct intervention and aggression.
One thing is clear from the experience of Libya: Neoconservatives do not care if they leave a country in chaos. The main objective is to destabilize and overthrow a government which is too independent. If the USA and allies cannot dominate the country, then at least they can destroy the contrary authority and leave chaos.
What is at stake in Syria is whether the USA and allies Israel, Saudi Arabia, etc. are able to destroy the last secular and independent Arab country in the region and whether the US goal of being the sole superpower in the world prevails.
The rushed passing of HR5732 without debate is indicative that:
* “regime change” proponents have not given up their war on Syria
* they seek to escalate US aggression.
* the US Congress is a venue where blatant lies are said with impunity and where violent actions are advanced behind a cynical and amoral veneer of “humanitarianism” and crocodile tears.
Rick Sterling is an investigative journalist and member of Syria Solidarity Movement. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.