“We can’t have it both ways. We can’t be both the world’s leading champion of peace and the world’s leading supplier of arms.” – Former US President Jimmy Carter, presidential campaign, 1976 [Source]
No clearer demonstration of the mass psychosis afflicting much of humanity can be seen than in the ongoing outrage and horror evoked by the photographs of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi’s body. While it goes without saying that any empathetic being would react with utter revulsion and helpless fury at the fate of this poor little boy, one cannot ignore the vast indifference evident toward the thousands of other needless child deaths that occur daily around the world. For this silent slaughter, we hear: ‘Shit happens’ or ‘What am I supposed to do about it?’
Aylan’s death even touched the stony hearts of corporate media editors:
From Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal :
His name was Aylan. He was 3 years old, from war-torn Syria.
His final journey was supposed to end in sanctuary in Europe; instead it claimed his life and highlighted the plight of desperate people caught in the gravest refugee crisis since World War II.
Readers can be forgiven for missing similarly recounted tragedies concerning other young children. From an earlier 99.99998271% article [Note: see original for sources]:
Ask yourself if you have heard the name of Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi, a 14-year-old Iraqi girl who was gang-raped and murdered by US marines after her family (34-year-old mother Fakhriyah Taha Muhsin, 45-year-old father Qasim Hamza Raheem, and six-year-old sister Hadeel Qasim Hamza) were killed.
How about Safa Younis Salim, a 13-year old girl who amazingly survived the Haditha Massacre, in which 24 unarmed Iraqi civilians were killed including seven children, a 1-year-old girl staying with the family and a 76-year-old man in a wheelchair?
How did she survive?
“I pretended that I was dead when my brother’s body fell on me and he was bleeding like a faucet.”
A six-year US military prosecution ended with none of the eight Marines sentenced to jail, despite one of the men – Sgt. Sanick De La Cruz – testifying (in return for immunity) that he had urinated on the skull of one of the dead Iraqis. This outcome outraged the Iraqi people (as the attack on Malala [Yousafzai] outraged the West) but the name of Safa Younis Salim remains practically unknown.
Informing the world about these children would run counter to the crucial narrative that the US and its NATO allies are an altruistic force for good in the world – bringers of peace, freedom and democracy. Aylan Kurdi, on the other hand, may prove very useful in furthering the true aims of the Western-aligned powers, and so – like Malala – he will be making the front pages for as long as is necessary.
Mainstream press outlets have overwhelmingly called for decisive action, with tabloids like The Sun and The Daily Mail plumbing new depths of hypocrisy. The UK’s ‘liberal-left’ Guardian newspaper joined the ‘humanitarian intervention’ ranks in a recent editorial:
To begin restoring that hope will inevitably mean international intervention of some kind. The establishment of credible safe havens and the implementation of a no-fly zone must be on the table for serious consideration.
Where were the editorials calling for the establishment of no-fly zones in order to overthrow the Israeli regime when last summer, in an orgy of indiscriminate slaughter and destruction, the inhabitants of Gaza (average age 17), described accurately by David Cameron as a prison camp, were subjected to a barrage of modern, US-supplied weaponry:
The United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict has gathered substantial information pointing to the possible commission of war crimes by both Israel and Palestinian armed groups.
The 2014 hostilities saw a huge increase in firepower used in Gaza, with more than 6,000 airstrikes by Israel and approximately 50,000 tank and artillery shells fired. In the 51 day operation, 1,462 Palestinian civilians were killed, a third of them children. Palestinian armed groups fired 4,881 rockets and 1,753 mortars towards Israel in July and August 2014, killing 6 civilians and injuring at least 1,600.
Hundreds of Palestinian civilians were killed in their own homes, especially women and children. Survivors gave graphic testimony describing air strikes that reduced buildings to piles of dust and rubble in seconds. “I woke up… in the hospital, and I later learned that my sister, mother and my children had all died,” said a member of the Al Najjar family after an attack in Khan Younis on 26 July that killed 19 of his relatives, “We all died that day even those who survived”.
The commission is concerned about Israel’s extensive use of weapons with a wide kill and injury radius; though not illegal, their use in densely populated areas is highly likely to kill combatants and civilians indiscriminately. There appears also to be a pattern whereby the IDF issued warnings to people to leave a neighbourhood and then automatically considered anyone remaining to be a fighter. This practice makes attacks on civilians highly likely. During the Israeli ground incursion into Gaza that began in mid-July 2014, hundreds of people were killed and thousands of homes destroyed or damaged.
Where is the global anguish and soul searching about the CIA drone campaign, which is now responsible, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, for the deaths of thousands of people, of whom many are civilians and hundreds children, including babies? Where is the mass public/media outrage against Obama’s strikes on weddings and funerals?
A population of billions that reacts so dramatically to one outrage yet indifference to another of equal horror can only be described as emotionally and empathically dysfunctional to a profound degree.
These oddities require no psychological explanation with regard to the media. Indeed, if there were any lingering doubts about the agenda of the corporate press, they can be safely dispensed with for all time. Despite this fact, confronting mainstream journalists about this agenda on social media invariably leads to ‘conspiracy’ smears, derision (often with peers piling into the fray), and sometimes blocking.
It is not even necessary (although it is highly recommended) to read Herman/Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent to see the systemic bias towards corporate/state-power-friendly narratives; common sense is adequate, and the current push to war on Syria is an apt example of the standard methods employed.
How do we know there is an agenda?
The Syria story is being universally framed as ‘We have to go in there and do something’ but a crucial element is missing, namely that US-aligned forces have long been covertly operating in Syria. An internal email dated 7th December 2011 of the Stratfor ‘global intelligence’ company published by WikiLeaks makes this very clear. It is a remarkable email, in that it clearly demonstrates the intent of the US to intervene in the affairs of Syria, and strongly implies that – among many other things – agents from the US, France, Jordan, Turkey, and the UK were already on the ground carrying out reconnaissance and the training of opposition forces.
While the content of the email is unambiguously damning – a clear smoking gun of a plan for regime change in Syria – equally striking is the casual tone of the writer. It is that of an employee who is extremely comfortable, not only in the knowledge that the US will eventually force regime change, but also that a way will be found to make it look good in the media, presumably understanding that another department in the Pentagon or the CIA will handle that side of things. The employee assumes the humdrum tone of a person simply doing what they are expected to do – passing on useful information to his superiors – without any consideration or fear that such actions may be illegal.
This casual approach speaks volumes about the attitude from the very top down of US officials and their employees in the public and private sectors toward the nation’s obligations to international law; namely that any ‘problems’ with such obligations can be worked around to everyone’s satisfaction (at least far enough to get the job done), as demonstrated with the invasion ten years ago of Iraq by the US and its ‘Coalition of the Willing’ without a UN resolution.
Some highlights from the email [Original typos uncorrected. Emphasis mine in bold]:
I kept pressing on the question of what these SOF teams would be working toward, and whether this would lead to an eventual air camapign to give a Syrian rebel group cover. They pretty quickly distanced themselves from that idea, saying that the idea ‘hypothetically’ is to commit guerrilla attacks, assassination campaigns, try to break the back of the Alawite forces, elicit collapse from within.
They emphasized how the air campaign in Syria makes Libya look like a piece of cake.
There still seems to be a lot of confusion over what a military intervention involving an air campaign would be designed to achieve. It isn’t clear cut for them geographically like in Libya, and you can’t just create an NFZ over Homs, Hama region. This would entail a countrywide SEAD campaign lasting the duration of the war. They dont believe air intervention would happen unless there was enough media attention on a massacre, like the Ghadafi move against Benghazi. They think the US would have a high tolerance for killings as long as it doesn’t reach that very public stage.
The French representative was of hte opinion that Syria won’t be a libya-type situation in that France would be gung-ho about going in. Not in an election year. The UK rep also emphasized UK reluctance but said that the renegotiation of the EU treaty undermines the UK role and that UK would be looking for ways to reassert itself on the continent ( i dont really think a syria campaign is the way to do that.) UK guy mentioned as an aside that the air force base commander at Cyprus got switched out from a maintenance guy to a guy that flew Raptors, ie someone that understands what it means to start dropping bombs. He joked that it was probably a coincidence.
Absent from corporate media reporting is the Pentagon report demonstrating ‘that the growth and expansion of ISIS was a direct result of arms being sent by the US to anti-Assad Islamists, with the strategic [US] intention of toppling the Assad regime in Syria’. [Note: original reporting by Nafeez Ahmed here]
3: Moral relativism
Media reporting on ‘murderous dictators’ and ‘strongmen’ is selective. By a staggering coincidence, dictators that accede to US/NATO strategic demands are spared condemnation while leaders (often democratically elected) who do not are vilified relentlessly, as noted by Glenn Greenwald when Hillary Clinton warned of the dangers of Iran’s ’emerging dictatorship’ in 2010:
“.. Half a century of American foreign policy flatly contradicts this sentiment (which is why Clinton heard soft chuckles and a few muffled guffaws as she spoke). The US has adored military dictatorships in the Arab world, and has long supported states dominated by the shadowy world of intelligence services. This became even more obvious after the attacks of September 11, 2001, when Washington intensified cooperation with Arab intelligence services in the fight against Al-Qaeda and other terror groups.
Washington’s closest allies in the Middle East are military and police states where men with guns rule, and where citizens are confined to shopping, buying cellular telephones, and watching soap operas on satellite television. Countries like Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Libya, as well as the entire Gulf region and other states are devoted first and foremost to maintaining domestic order and regime incumbency through efficient, multiple security agencies, for which they earn American friendship and cooperation. When citizens in these and other countries agitate for more democratic and human rights, the US is peculiarly inactive and quiet…”
Rule of thumb: if a head of state is subjected to a concerted smear campaign throughout the world’s media, that leader has either been targeted for removal, is proving stubborn in allowing the US and its allies to achieve their goals, or is generally aligned against Western interests.
4: Historical Precedent
The intervention rhetoric from public officials published uncritically by the media is nothing new:
Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. Dick Cheney,
August 26, 2002
Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons. George W. Bush, September 12, 2002
If he declares he has none, then we will know that Saddam Hussein is once again misleading the world. Ari Fleischer, December 2, 2002
The president of the United States and the secretary of defense would not assert as plainly and bluntly as they have that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction if it was not true, and if they did not have a solid basis for saying it. Ari Fleischer, December 6, 2002
We know for a fact that there are weapons there. Ari Fleischer, January 9, 2003
Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent. George W. Bush January 28, 2003
We know that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction, is determined to make more.Colin Powell, February 5, 2003
The Pulizer Prize-winning Center for Public Integrity found in a study that ‘following 9/11, President Bush and seven top officials of his administration waged a carefully orchestrated campaign of misinformation about Saddam Hussein’s Iraq’ with ‘at least 935 false statements [from top government officials] in the two years following September 11, 2001, about the national security threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Nearly five years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, an exhaustive examination of the record shows that the statements were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses’.
There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.” George W Bush<
5: The source
Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers have been particularly vociferous in demanding bombs in Syria. For him at least, we have means, opportunity and motive. Murdoch’s ownership of a large chunk of mainstream outlets gives him enormous reach (means) while opportunity knocks courtesy of poor little Aylan.
A US oil company is preparing to drill for oil in the Golan Heights. Granted the license in February 2013 by Israel, Afek Oil and Gas is a subsidiary of Genie Energy Ltd, whose equity-holding board members include former US Vice President Dick Cheney, controversial media mogul Rupert Murdoch and financier Lord Jacob Rothschild.
[Note: article dated January 28th 2015. Murdoch remains on the board]
Aside from personal financial interest for Murdoch, a post-Assad, US-friendly Syrian government would mean one less major Russia-Iran-axis power in the Middle East to worry about, a turn of events also greatly desired by Israel, while economically Syria would be opened up to all manner of ‘opportunities’ for Western corporations.
6:The refugee crisis
This user-friendly graph (also available in table form for older data) provided by the World Bank shows large increases in numbers of refugees at key moments after US/allied interventions. [Note: you can add your own parameters] For instance, with the explosion of sectarian violence in Iraq in 2006 brought about by the Iraq War, the number of refugees increased from 262,299 in 2005 to 1,450,905 in 2006 and 2,309,245 in 2007.
7:War for profit
Investors see rising sales for makers of missiles, drones and other weapons as the U.S. hits Islamic State fighters in Syria and Iraq, said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Chicago-based BMO Private Bank. President Barack Obama approved open-ended airstrikes this month while ruling out ground combat.
As we ramp up our military muscle in the Mideast, there’s a sense that demand for military equipment and weaponry will likely rise,” said Ablin, who oversees $66 billion including Northrop Grumman Corp. and Boeing Co. shares. “To the extent we can shift away from relying on troops and rely more heavily on equipment — that could present an opportunity.
There’s no doubt the world is getting to be a more and more dangerous place, and there are countries around the world that could look to buy aircraft and artillery,” Jeff Babione, deputy manager of Lockheed’s F-35 Lightning II program, said in an interview in Oslo. “There’s a sense that there’s less stability in the world than there was before.
Clearly the world has become increasingly unstable. The question of whether that has a major impact on the defense budget is uncertain,” Finnegan said. “There may be an investor psychology that suggests that there’s going to be a large benefit to these companies. But the jury is still out.
The arms industry is big business.
To conclude, the corporate media has concealed covert activities within Syria going back several years; has blacked out a Pentagon report demonstrating US prediction, supply and use of ISIS as a strategic asset; is again reporting selectively regarding ‘good’ and ‘bad’ dictators; and has engaged in this precise kind of rhetoric in the past before every intervention. Rupert Murdoch is a board member of a company that is drilling for oil in the Golan Heights while his newspapers sound the clarion call that may open the way for a (hoped for) post-Assad Western puppet government. Meanwhile stocks in arms companies are at record levels and the refugee crisis is now a major humanitarian disaster at World War 2 levels, with refugee populations particularly high from nations where the US and its allies have acted (covertly or overtly).
It’s another set-up. Don’t get fooled again.
Saudi Arabia on the American chessboard – Part 2
Since the Korean War, but particularly since the Iranian Revolution of 1979 until today, the United States has been steadily escalating its military presence in the Persian Gulf. Taking advantage of many colossal events of the past 36 years,  the hyper-empire has institutionalized its massive presence on land and sea, and expanded its objectives to include the unambiguous physical control of the area, as well as the clear understanding that local Arab governments should abide by them. The pretext is always the same: in “defense” of the national interests and security of the United States. From observing how the United States has been interacting with the governments of the region, and by judging from the size of its expeditionary force, we could reach a basic conclusion. The United States is occupying, de facto, the entire Arabian Peninsula. (Yemen, devastated by Saudi and American jets is yet to be conquered. Oman? Britain returned not as colonial ruler but as a soft occupying power.)
Under this articulation, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates are virtually occupied countries. If we compare this type of occupation to the mandate and protectorate regimes of the past, the results might be identical—the nations affected by it lose sovereignty. When Arab governments comply with the objectives of a foreign power that station military forces on their national milieu, then that power controls them in multiple ways including how they react to policy deliberations and what decisions they intend to take on specific issues. A good method to verify the concept of effective occupation is this: take notice of what the United States says and wants, and then compare it to what the gulf rulers do in response. (I shall discuss this detail at some point in the upcoming parts.)
If the presence of US forces or other means of political pressure are a factor in Saudi Arabia’s interventionist Arab wars, then we need to debate this issue. However, from the history of resistance to colonialism, we learnt: if a powerful state imposes its order on a nation by military means or other forms of coercion, and if this nation does not resist that imposition, then a mental subordination to the powerful state will ensue. This is especially true in the case of Saudi Arabia. One single event, 9/11, has transformed it from a US “ally” into an instant political hostage of the American Empire.
Nine-eleven did not only change the status of Saudi Arabia in American context, it also brought radical changes that altered the character of the regime. It worsened its domestic instability, increased its belligerence, amplified its religious chauvinism, and turned its arrogance of power into an instrument of death and destruction—all at the service of the United States. The reasons for such situation are known. Among the alleged attackers of the still-suspicious event of 9/11, there were 15 Saudi nationals.
More important, Wahhabism, a deranged, dogmatic version of Islam and the creed of Saudi Arabia, is coming under attack by the United States. Charge: it promotes “terrorism”. (Read Obama’s interview with the Atlantic Magazine.) This is, of course, a heavy blow to the US “ally’. How cynical and preposterous! Who could forget that just 36 years ago Carter and Brzezinski promoted Wahhabism as the religion of “freedom fighters” and “holy warriors”, and made Saudi Arabia pay for proselytes and weapons to fight the Soviet Union in Afghanistan? Without debating what terrorism is, and whether Wahhabism is promoting it, the fact that a master-terrorist superpower is doing such an accusation just today and after Wahhabi militants have destroyed Syria (and parts of Iraq) with US support, is an odious insult to all those who were killed by US and Saudi barbarity through Wahhabi proxies.
Now, from studying the US-Saudi financial and military interactions in all years before 9/11, it is reasonable to conclude that the Saudi regime had become the financier of the American interventionist agenda. Did 9/11 change those interactions? Considering Saudi Arabia’s role in the US invasion of Iraq and their continuing efforts in the wars against Libya, Syria, and Yemen, it is equally reasonable to conclude that 9/11 did not alter the basic Saudi-American relation. However, ample evidence suggests that the United States will continue using the Saudi tool until it will no longer need it. Still, 9/11 did affect their relation—it brought changes to the US strategy for controlling Saudi Arabia and other gulf governments. In addition, the intricate relation between Saudi Arabia of post‑9/11 with the United States of pre-9/11 had also gone through some changes. Nevertheless, relations between the two kept evolving in cadence with the changing of rhythms of 9/11 and with its political interpretations and propagandistic use.
From observing the events from 9/11 forward, it can be said that the Saudi function on the American chessboard changed too. Nine-eleven has transformed Saudi Arabia from a financier and supplier of religiously driven mercenaries to become a powerful criminal organization with a plan to execute. As often discussed by US and Israeli think tanks, that plan cannot be clearer in its declared tenets. I am pointing to the imperialist planned remake of the geostrategic assets and political orders of current Arab states. As such, the US invasion of Iraq, US-NATO bombardment of Libya, US-Saudi-Qatari war in Syria, US-Saudi-UAE war in Yemen, US-Saudi-Kurdish war in Iraq and Syria, and US-ISIS war in Syria, Iraq, and Libya are but one seamless chapter in this plan. With that, 9/11 has become an emblematic alibi for US imperialist expansions. [Read: B. J. Sabri, Imperialist Expansions and 9/11) 
Of interest, the transformation of Saudi Arabia into a terrorist, and expansionist state at the service of the United States (and Israel) did not help alter the way with which the US intended to play the card of 9/11. We need not speculate on the fact that the Saudis are fully aware of the American ploy and its objectives. Yet, their pressing priority has been all too evident: decrease pressure and preempt any pretext for a potential intervention in exchange for bending to US demands. Despite many American voices calling for the nuclear incineration of Saudi Arabia under the pretext of its alleged role in 9/11, the US government— who knows the entire truth about 9/11—had different calculations. (Rich Lowry, now the editor of the National Review, called for the destruction of Mecca with nuclear bombs.  Statement: US nuclear lunatics have no right to incinerate Saudi Arabia—not even a grain of its desert sand. If Saudi Arabia is guilty of something, and the US can prove it through an unbiased team of international panelists, then let them take it to international courts and punish it with civil laws.)
Incidentally, would the United States attack Saudi Arabia if its culpability was proved in international courts? Speculations aside, the United States might not attack Saudi Arabia for one fundamental reason: Saudi Arabia, a US “partner”, had nothing to do with 9/11—and the US knows that very well. In addition, if there were a verifiable Saudi regime’s involvement in 9/11, why wait this long to take action? That is said, the central motive for which the United States does not want to touch Saudi Arabia has to do with the function it established for it. The Saudi regime is an open bank for US world operations, chief buyer of its weapons, oil price manipulator to strangle Russia and Iran, a potential ally of Israel, and controller of the so-called Arab league to gain spurious legitimacy for US policies in the region.
In short, the United States needs Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has all the qualifications the United States needs in a regional player willing to play by its rules. The Saudi regime fits this profile for a number of reasons. It is ideologically structured yet pliable to US views, politically conditioned by an archaic system of governance, socially obscurantist to control potential unrest inimical to Washington, aggressive against neighbors, ruthless against dissenters, but above all, it has a lot of money and is willing to spend it on the American cause.
It is logical to argue, that 9/11 presented the Saudi regime with hard choices regarding their relation with the United States. To save its neck from possible and ever-present American accusations involving it in 9/11, the regime had to re-invent itself. It went from being a willing executioner of the older American agenda (destabilizing Communism, etc.) to be the chief agent of destruction at the service of a re-energized US imperialism with a new agenda.
I am referring to the Zionist American plan to redraw the map of current Arab states and alter their historically developed socio-political and cultural realities. To be sure, 9/11 was also the factor that altered another Saudi reality. It broke Saudi Arabia’s long held assumption for being America’s enduring “partner”. Aside from that, 9/11 benefitted the United States in another way. It securely placed Saudi Arabia and all of its oil and money between the unyielding clutches of US imperialism.
My argument of the Saudi succumbence to the US power is threefold. First, the Saudi regime realizes it has no means, power, or courage to make the United States leave the Gulf or, at least, lessen its supremacy over the governments of the gulf. Second, consequent to this realization, submissiveness to it in the form of fear sets in and resistance to it disappears. Third, besides protracted psychological conditioning, other tangible factors turned the Saudi-American relation into a complex interplay.
On one side, we have the Saudi deference to the United States. I view this deference as follows: (1) confluence and reciprocal opportunism of two different but oppressive ideologies —Wahhabism and imperialism; (2) oil and petrodollars, and (3) a long history of secret deals—since the day Franklin D. Roosevelt met Abdul Aziz Al Saud in 1945. On the other, we have a supremacist superpower that views Al Saud as no more than a backward tribal bunch whose primary function is providing special services to the United States. These include cheap oil, buying US weapons, investing oil money in the US capitalistic system, supporting US hegemonic quest, buying US national debt, and bankrolling its covert operations and wars.
To drive the point, I argue that the combination between lack of means, lack of resistance, and other forms of dependence (US political and public relations support, for example) has created a situation of dependency. It incrementally forced the Saudi regime into a mental subordination to the United States similar to an occupied mentality. What is an occupied mentality?
As stated earlier, noticing the magnitude of US military forces stationed at sea, as well as in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Iraq, and Jordan there can be but one conclusion: all these countries are under virtual US occupation. In addition, if we consider US global and regional agenda and the objective of its forces in the region, stating that the material occupation of the Gulf is moving in unison with a parallel occupation of the mind of rulers is a valid statement. Let us take the example of Iraq and see if applies to Saudi Arabia. By all definitions, Iraq of today is a top example of an occupied mentality. Whereas the United States has been occupying Iraq from 2003 until now—through scattered military bases and by directives from the US “embassy”—, the American-appointed Iraqi government still pretends that Iraq is an independent state. This is not schizophrenia. It is a conscious mental adaptation to an existing reality named occupation.
To articulate the argument of occupied mentality, I argue that an array of psychological processes is behind the mental adaptation to imposed captivity. This means, accepting subjugation to a foreign power is not only a symptom of besieged mentality, but also a conscious effort to turn that subjugation into a feeling of normalcy. In turn, this feeling becomes the primary impulse for cohabitation between occupiers and occupied. Generally, the lack of resistance to subjugation is, by itself, acquiescence to it: as a process and as result. At this point, it does not matter whether this acquiescence is induced, taught, imposed or voluntary—the result is still subjugation.
Considering this argument, Saudi Arabia is no different from Iraq when the issue is the adaptation to US domination. For instance, the Saudi regime knows it is under US siege. And it knows that the United States is waiting for the appropriate occasion to strike it someway. Yet, the Saudi regime is busy these days dispensing threats left and right, even to the power that nurtured its monstrosities, with the hope that someone would buy its trivial performance of national strength. To conclude, rulers who live under any form of foreign occupation or diktat and rulers who have lost their basic national decision-making are neither sovereign nor free.
Mapping the transformation of Saudi Arabia in terms of events is an incisive tool to navigate through the mysteries of the Saudi-American relation. Take, for example, the role played by the Saudi regime in Soviet-invaded Afghanistan. With so much money and relative stability, Al Saud had neither national imperatives nor definite rationales to spend billions of dollars on that war. Did they participate in it as (A) an act of self-defense against adversaries who never attacked them, (B) opposition to Communism, or, (C) a response to US-prodding?
For one, the claim that Saudi Arabia intervened in Afghanistan to fight Communism is rubbish. Many regimes of that period opposed Communism. Yet, none took their opposition to the fanatical militant level taken by Al Saud. Moreover, fighting invaders does not translate automatically into fighting the ideology driving their politico-economic system. These are two different categories. Vietnam is an example. The Vietcong fought the American invading force (and the South-Vietnamese army). But nowhere could one read that Vietnam’s war of liberation was directed against US capitalism as a system.
Second, is there any truth to the other claim that the Saudi intervention was an act of solidarity with Muslim Afghanistan? If religious feelings were driving the regime’s animosity against the Soviet invaders, then these same feelings should have risen when the United States invaded a predominately Arab and Muslim Iraq. In that occasion, the Wahhabi regime (whose religious scholars, preachers, and countless imams consistently dub Westerners as heathens, infidels, and nonbelievers)not only did not release a whisper against the coming invasion, it blessed and supported it. (It is on record what Bandar bin Sultan, a high- ranking Saudi emir with a 20-year tenure as ambassador to Washington, with ties to AIPAC and US Zionism, and with intimate connections to the Bush family had said on the eve of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. “I will not shave my beard until the US occupies Iraq and kills Saddam Hussein,” then addressing the American public, he added, “I will pray for the life of every one of your soldiers . . .”)
For debate: in terms of semantic equivalency, words such as heathens, atheists, infidels, nonbelievers, etc. are conceptually compatible. A question to the Saudis: why fight the Soviet invaders of Muslim Afghanistan under the charge of atheism, but never fight the Americans invaders of Muslim Iraq under the same charge?
Next: Part 3
- Examples: the Iranian Revolution, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Iraqi invasion of Iran, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the Gulf War, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and US-NATO bombardment of Serbia.
- The Splendid Failure of Occupation: Imperialist expansions and 9/11 (http://www.uruknet.info/?p=10086), 2005
- CounterPunch Services, National Review Editor Suggests “Nuking Mecca”, March 13, 2003
With immaculate timing, Turkey unrolled its defiant ‘Plan B’ – billed as the Euphrates Shield operation – in northern Syria just as the US Vice President Joe Biden’s aircraft was about to land in Ankara’s Esenboga airport.
This must be one of the biggest diplomatic snubs that the US has suffered in a long while. And it is being administered by a NATO member country.
I had written yesterday in Asia Times that the US was making a monumental error of judgment by underestimating the grit of the Turkish mind to safeguard its supreme national interests at any cost. (See my article Turkey gets its act together on Syria.)
As I explained, the main purpose of the Euphrates Shield operation is to occupy the strategic border town of Jarablus in northern Syria and have a showdown with the Syrian Kurds (supported by US Special Forces and American air cover). The Kurdish militia had crossed the Euphrates river a few months ago and, contrary to American assurances, they are now moving westward to realise their dream of establishing a Kurdistan straddling Turkey’s border, stretching from Iraq to East Mediterranean coast. Turkey’s ‘red line’ has been breached.
A cat-and-mouse game has been going on between Turkey and the US. The latter was calculating that Turkey won’t act on the ground to confront the Syrian Kurds militarily, especially after the recent coup attempt of July 15, which weakened the military, plus the Russian presence in Syria.
President Recep Erdogan has decided to call the American bluff. In the early hours of the morning, Turkish artillery began pounding Jarablus (which is under the control of the Islamic State presently.) After about 2 hours of shelling, Special Forces crossed the border with F-16 jets providing air cover. The latest reports say a column of Turkish tanks is moving into Syrian territory. (Hurriyet )
The stunning part is that the Turkish incursion follows a tacit understanding with Iran (and Syria). Interestingly, Russian jets aren’t visible anywhere in the Syrian skies to stop the Turkish incursion, either. Surely, NATO is rocking, since it is highly improbable that Turkey took the US-led alliance into confidence over the Euphrates Shield operation, which, ironically, aims at destroying America’s best ally on the Syrian chessboard.
A team of Iranian intelligence officials had made a quick dash to Ankara yesterday morning to give the final touch to the concerted Euphrates Shield operation against the Syrian Kurds. The Iranian delegation presumably carried messages from Damascus for the Turkish side and returned to Tehran yesterday evening itself.
According to Iranian media reports, the deputy head of the Turkish intelligence had paid a secret visit to Damascus on Sunday. Prior to that, Turkish Foreign Minister Mavlut Cavusoglu had a stopover in Tehran on Thursday for 5 hours to personally coordinate with the Iranians – avoiding phone conversations that could have been tapped by the American electronic intelligence system. Clearly, we are witnessing the first tangible signs of a super-secret deal between Turkey and Iran to further their common agenda of preventing the emergence of a Syrian Kurdistan backed by the US and Israel connecting the Kurdish homelands between the Iraqi Kurdistan and Eastern Mediterranean. (Asharq Al-Awsat )
Turkey fears that a Syrian Kurdistan will inexorably boost the separatist Kurdish insurgency on its territory. Iran fears that Kurdistan may turn out to be the playpen of American and Israeli intelligence for undertaking subversive activities against it. Equally, Iraq and Syria also stand to lose since the creation of a Kurdistan will be at the cost of their own national unity and territorial integrity. A convergence on the Kurdish problem brings together Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria.
Indeed, for the first time in the Syrian civil war, government forces have begun attacking Kurds. Last week the US warned Damascus not to launch aerial attacks on the Syrian Kurdish militia on the specious plea that its Special Forces are ‘embedded’ with the Kurds. (Telegraph )
If Biden had hoped for a trade-off with Erdogan over the Turkish concerns regarding Kurds, the latter is literally showing the middle finger. The Euphrates Shield is a stark message to the US that Ankara no longer depends on American goodwill or help.
Erdogan is literally signalling to Biden, ‘No more waffling, Buddy, just send Fetullah Gulen back to us’. Now, that is putting Washington in a fix. Erdogan has repeatedly warned that he will take Gulen’s extradition as the litmus test of US intentions toward Turkey and the raison d’etre of the Turkish-American alliance itself. On the other hand, how can the US possibly allow the extradition of Gulen, who has been the CIA’s longstanding ‘strategic asset’ in Muslim countries?
Biden enjoys a fabulous reputation within America’s political class as wheeler dealer par excellence. His reputation faces an acid test through the coming 12 hours. He’s just about sitting down with the Sultan at Ak Saray (White Palace) — Erdogan’s 1000-room palace in the dark and lovely woods outside Ankara — for a ‘frank’ conversation.
Read today’s column by a dear old friend Ilnur Cevik, a noted Turkish editor, in the pro-government daily Sabah, entitled Welcome to the land of the brave, Mr. Biden.
The US has pitted the Syrian Kurds against Damascus-led forces in the northeastern city of Hasakah in a bid not to lose regional influence should Turkey, Russia and Iran create an alliance to resolve the Syrian conflict, analyst and journalist Hüsnü Mahalli told Sputnik, adding that recent clashes are part of the West’s “geopolitical games.”
“Up until now Russia and Iran have helped to maintain cordial relations between the Syrian Kurds from the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and Damascus. The PYD made a mistake when it opted to cooperate with the US,” he said.
Kurdish militias, assisted by the US, have been trying to push radical groups, including Daesh and al-Nusra Front from northern Syria and secure the porous border with Turkey. At the same time, the Kurds have established a de-facto autonomy in the areas under their control.
Mahalli emphasized that any efforts on the part of the PYD and the People’s Protection Units (YPG) to create an independent state will be a mistake that could not be undone.
“The Americans have repeatedly said that they have a Plan B for Syria. Perhaps, this is what they meant. I’m afraid that the US has decided to drag the Kurds into a large-scale bloodbath,” he added.
The standoff in Hasakah was sparked last week when the Kurdish forces tried to take the entire city under control, violating the ceasefire regime. The Kurds are reported to have captured large parts of government-held areas in Hasaka on Tuesday. The same day the YPG and Damascus-led forces agreed to halt fighting. The ceasefire came into force at 11:00 GMT.
The political analyst maintained that these events are part of a larger US plan for the region. “If the West is serious about its large-scale geopolitical games – and judging from what is happening in Hasakah, it is – then the situation is disturbing,” he said.
The clashes between the Kurdish militias and the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) took place at a time when a major stakeholder, Turkey, made a U-turn in its foreign policy.
Turkey recently improved relations with Russia and Iran. The two countries were swift in providing support to the Turkish authorities when a group of military officers tried to overthrow the government on July 15 despite the fact that they were on the opposing sides of the Syrian conflict. Ankara sponsored radical groups trying to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, while Moscow and Tehran have tried to prevent Islamist from destroying the Arab country.
Turkish authorities are currently intent on repairing relations with Damascus.
The regional balance of power, according to Mahalli, will alter even further if the three nations decide to join their efforts to bring an end to the five years of violence in Syria. This will lead to what the analyst described as Washington’s “inevitable weakening.”
Mahalli further said that Turkey has found itself in the hot water. On the one hand, approximately 15-20 million Kurds live in Turkey. On the other hand, Ankara has become the target of Islamist terrorism even though the country supported radical groups fighting in Syria.
“The only right choice Turkey could make is to admit its mistakes and act decisively to overcome the deadlock. The Turkish leadership needs to act decisively. Should it wait for the outcome of the presidential election in the US, the implications could be hard to predict. My main concern is that Turkey will ultimately be shattered,” he noted.
In civil war situations, such as the conflict in Syria, sides routinely make conflicting claims. It is hard to see who is telling the truth unless you have access to actual intelligence and a front row seat. But it becomes easier to see what is really happening by watching the mainstream news and comparing it to reality.
Let us take the recent Democracy Now interview with Dr. Zaher Sahloul, the former President of the Syrian American Medical Society. This accompanied the global media coverage of the bombed, bloodied and beaten little boy from Aleppo, apparently rescued from what was left of a makeshift refugee camp. At one time Democracy Now was a respected alternative media site. Unfortunately, this article and the circumstances of its writing suggest that it has bought into the system it once stood up to.
Gut ruling head
The article includes this quote, designed to be as emotive as possible:
“I’ve just had to watch a woman lose three of her children, who were killed—OK?—and crying over their dead bodies. Thirty people just got killed not far from here in place called Shaar [inaudible]. We were just there yesterday. In a marketplace, 30 people just got killed. So, we’ve had so many dead bodies. You can hear what’s going on here. So, my dear brothers and sisters … We need to get the message out right now: Hospitals are being targeted; People are being killed. OK? And war crimes are being committed. We need a no-fly zone in Syria. We need everybody to start voting for a no-fly zone. This is a massacre going on. This is genocide.”
These sort of reports are emerging daily from Syria. But the wave of recent killings of children by Saudi forces is overlooked. Why? For the same reason that all these reports don’t mention how the war in Syria started and how the hodgepodge of anti-government fighters and terrorist groups which have escalated are funded.
The article fails to mention why the Syrian government is fighting terrorists in the first place. The questions the doctor is asked are also revealing, as is the use of key terms such as barrel bombs, WMD, no fly zone, UN, etc, which never used to be a hallmark of Democracy Now coverage. Like others, the article is designed to get us so upset that we don’t want to look any further. It uses dead children as a means of stifling any debate about why they are dying: we are expected to get angry at those we are told to get angry at, to prevent us getting angry about anyone else.
This interview raises many flags, firstly in its timing, during the countdown to the US presidential elections, and then in the context of Iran and Russia now closely collaborating in the war on terror. An agreement has recently been reached for Russia to make bombing raids against US-backed terrorists in Syria from Iranian territory. This is what the West says it wants, fight terrorism, but in reality does everything to prevent. Getting us angry about “foreign bombers” killing children is merely another way of trying to prevent the War on Terror, which the US started, ever actually taking place.
Not shooting the messenger
Dr. Zaher Sahloul was a classmate of Bashar al-Assad in medical school but is now a critical care specialist in Chicago. He has visited Aleppo five times since the war began, but is observing the situation from a US vantage point.
This smooth-talking humanitarian seems happy to recount horrific stories of maiming and killing in graphic detail, as long as he can blame Assad and the Russians. Last week he addressed the UN Security Council on the humanitarian crisis in Syria, making the same points. In the US doctors are often scared of making public statements, much less prescribing medicines, for fear of malpractice suits. So if a US doctor makes a public statement someone is watching his back.
Dr. Sahloul works in the US, which has a vested interest in the Syrian conflict. Is it conceivable that he would be called to address the UN Security Council if he wasn’t spouting an agreed line?
Sahloul’s Democracy Now interview was conducted CNN-fashion, meaning that he did not respond to questions posed on the spot but released a carefully scripted text which the questions were adjusted to fit. The details about babies being tossed from incubators in Kuwait, and those not killed by barrel bombs surviving on cat food and grass, are revealed in such a way that they are unlikely to be spontaneous recollections. Nor do these “memories” remind Dr. Sahloul of the beheading of innocent children by the IS, which they might be presumed to do if child welfare was his concern.
If Dr. Sahloul wanted to stop the killings he would question who stands behind this terrorism – the US, Saudi Arabia and Turkey – but he does not do so. It can be assumed that he is interested in ending all the killings as he has addressed the UN Security Council, which claims a peace promotion remit. But there is no mention anywhere of stopping the terrorists, only of stopping Assad, thus allowing terrorist atrocities against children to continue unabated.
Mouths we are fed
CNN has responded to the Democracy Now interview by claiming that the killing of children in Aleppo was done by a pro-regime militia force made up mostly of Palestinians. It is also CNN which is parading that poor little boy all over the media, apparently in confirmation of Dr. Sahloul’s claims.
We are used to seeing CNN reports exposed as manipulation. Unfortunately for this little boy, these reports appear to be part of this tradition. There is ample evidence that much of the reporting on Syria by “legitimate sources” is carefully manipulated.
For instance, CNN is quoting the Syrian-American Medical Society as claiming that US-trained doctors are being harassed when they return to Syria. This is denied by even the US Embassy, which says there have been no reports of this, and by a Wikileaks cable.
In fact the US medical establishment has continued to support the maintenance of bilateral relations with the Syrian medical community, in spite of the war and this alleged harassment. Dr. Sahloul’s comments, which are entirely consistent with the US political position in that conflict and obscure the humanitarian concerns which emerge from the behaviour of both sides, give us a clue as to why. The US is using this open access attitude of the Assad government as a means of getting MDs into the country to conduct intelligence and PR work. This is borne out by the use of Syrian doctors to obtain evidence of Assad’s use of chemical weapons, as reported by the Guardian.
SAMS claims to be an apolitical, non-profit organisation founded by American medical professionals of Syrian descent. Its alleged objective is to share best medical practices with local hospitals and medical schools and donate medical care to needy Syrians. This work necessarily involves going into secure facilities in conflict zones.
As the work of other US aid agencies has long demonstrated, such aid is ultimately designed to secure allegiance to the US. Providing such aid buys the US a green light for whatever it wants to do, rather than serving its ostensible humanitarian purpose.
According to its own website SAMS is provided with full support by the US State Department, millions of dollars’ worth of it. The website even includes a video by US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Powers, hailing SAMS as one of her “personal heroes.”
Furthermore, Dr. Sahloul is said by those who know him in Chicago to be a member of the Muslim Brotherhood himself. His alleged medical work would be the perfect cover for providing support to terrorist organisations which seek to divide and destroy Syria. All he has done with his Democracy Now interview is confirm that repeating the State Department’s unfounded narratives regarding “barrel bombs” and the use of “chlorine gas” by the Syrian government is a tactic used by the US to further this end.
Assad knows very well that these medics are working for US intelligence. He also knows the headlines that would follow him if he refused them entry. He calculates that whatever the doctors can do will harm him less than denying them access would. This is very embarrassing for the US, as it demonstrates Assad doesn’t have as much to hide as the US wants to think, and so he is happy to continue allowing these “revelations” to take place, while real doctors actually treat the war victims on a daily basis.
What’s in a name?
At least on the surface, Dr. Zaher Sahloul believes in what he is doing. However there is further reason to doubt that his actions are prompted by either medical considerations or support for his native or adopted country.
In 2009, before this war began, Syria embarked on a process of “economic liberalisation,” as favoured by the US, and “previously disallowed businesses” were suddenly permitted and encouraged by the Syrian Government. According to an article published in The National on February 9, 2009 one such business had just been founded by a certain Zhouheir Yassar Sahloul, described as “the most powerful rogue trader in Syria.”
As the head of the country’s largest money changing enterprise, Sahloul was the link between Syria’s struggling, isolated economy and its huge diaspora, which still remits billions of dollars a year to families back home. In a country saddled with strict foreign exchange laws, it was Mr Sahloul’s agents who ensured Syrian merchants were supplied with enough hard currency to do business with partners overseas.
At the same time Yassar Sahloul and Sons were licensed as foreign exchange traders, Dr. Sahloul and his SAMS were building hospitals in Syria, on the basis of the same “regulatory relaxation.” This might explain why Yassar Sahloul also established a more formal mechanism for handling capital inflows, an Islamic bank with a capital base of US$100 million (Dh367m). It also chimes in with his reported ambition to make Yassar Sahloul and Sons the holding company for a diversified concern including “shipping and property investment assets as well as banking and finance,” as hospitals are valuable properties whose worth only increases the more customers they serve.
These two Sahouls may or may not be immediately related. What we know about the one who stayed behind is his present business address, which is in Aleppo, and that in 2006 he was an Informal Financial Intermediary who participated in a “Feasibility Study to develop new options for private sector investment financing in the Syrian Arab Republic”
A Zuher Sahloul Construction Company was active during the lead up to the war in Syria. According to a Wikileaks cable:
“As Washington policy makers consider ways to pressure the regime, one possibility would be to go after President Assad’s money-men. Four individuals Assad uses to make and move money are Zuhair Sahloul, Nabil Kuzbari, Assad’s uncle Mohammad Makhlouf, and his father-in-law, Fawas Akhras. Each is important to Assad and each plays a somewhat different role in facilitating regime graft.”
In short, “(S) Sahloul (AKA Abu Shafic) is the most important black-market money changer in Syria. When the Syrian Pound (SYP) devalued precipitously in the fall of 2005, the SARG gave Sahloul an office in the Central Bank and access to its hard currency reserves so he could intervene in the black market to stabilize the currency. NB: Sahloul was surprisingly effective, and within weeks the SYP appreciated 20 percent, allowing Sahloul in the process a handsome profit for both himself and a handful of regime-insiders. End note.) Sahloul moves Assad’s money using his own network and his access to Hawalis worldwide. A Sahloul intimate bragged to us recently that Sahloul could move ten million dollars anywhere in the world in 24 hours.”
If Washington insiders are dealing with someone called Sahloul, from Syria, who is involved with the regime they have targeted they are not going to let someone else called Sahloul address the UN Security Council, or build hospitals in Syria, without conducting background checks. It is not an unusual surname, but not a very common one either. Whatever the US knows about the good doctor it knows he is not going to compromise its dealings with the other Sahloul, the one in Aleppo. He is, at the very least, a safe person to send to face the press.
End of the line
There is a lot more to the story of the little boy from Aleppo than meets the eye. But we are being encouraged not to look further, and rely on our emotional response. We are led to look for someone to blame, and then, by coincidence, told exactly who without any complications entering the picture.
The victims of Aleppo deserve better than to suffer for the sake of a set up. So does everyone who sees this story. But given that Yassar Sahloul was one of those promoting the protests in Damascus which led to the civil war, is it any wonder things are turning out how they are?
By Brandon Turbeville – Activist Post – August 22, 2016
As tension between the West and Russia over the Syrian crisis heats up yet again, a combination effort on the part of elements within the United States and the UK are pushing for direct military confrontation with the Syrian military as well as the Russians. Indeed, after a period of time suggesting a major improvement on the ground, it appears that there is now the possibility of renewed vigor on the part of the imperialist Western powers in their goal to destroy Syria, even at the cost of igniting World War 3.
After having violated international law and Syria’s national sovereignty by not only funding and supporting proxy soldiers for the purpose of destroying the secular government of Bashar al-Assad but also by deploying aircraft and troops in the country despite not being invited in by the legitimate government, the U.S. is now warning Russia and Syria against targeting terrorists and Western proxy fighters within Syria’s own territory.
The new U.S. Commander of American troops in Iraq and Syria stated on August 22 that he will “defend” the Special Operations Forces aggressively deployed by the United States to Northern Syria if Syrian warplanes or Syrian artillery again strike areas where U.S. troops are located.
During an interview with CNN, Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend stated from his headquarters in Baghdad that “We’ve informed the Russians where we’re at … (they) tell us they’ve informed the Syrians, and I’d just say that we will defend ourselves if we feel threatened.”
The hypocrisy and deception of the United States government on this issue has now reached a staggering level. An accurate translation of what Townsend is saying is that “We have funded proxy terrorists to destroy the Syrian government. Those terrorists started losing so we deployed troops to support them and forge new brigades of terrorism with Kurds. Despite the fact that we deployed these troops against international law, violated Syria’s national sovereignty, as well as the wishes of the majority of the world, we will play the victim if those troops are injured during the course of Syria’s battle with the terrorists we support. We will then attack Syrian planes as a response to attacking terrorists whom our soldiers are assisting in attacking the Syrian government.” In other words, the U.S. position is that “We will attack you whenever we want, however we want, and everyone and everything else in the world be damned. And if you dare respond, we will play the victim, drum up sympathy and good ‘ol fashioned ‘Murican patriotism back home so that we can launch a full-scale war upon your country.”
Essentially, Syria is being threatened with full scale war if it defends itself and a death of a thousand cuts if it does not. This is an epic level of hypocrisy even for the U.S. government but the most surprising element is that it can be carried out so openly. Perhaps Western audiences are now so utterly befuddled as to foreign policy that such overt acts of deception and aggression simply go unnoticed.
Enter the British. Never known to take a backseat in hypocrisy, thirty Labour MP’s are now calling for a “safe zone” in Syria, an obvious and admitted act of war that would initiate the creation of Libya 2.0. The pro-war camp is fully playing up the “spirit of Jo Cox,” the celebrated humanitarian bomber and warmonger who was murdered earlier this year. The campaign to create “safe zones” and “buffer zones” in Syria is being promoted not only by the war hawks in parliament but also by “friends” of Cox and the UK military establishment.
“In life, Jo argued with such passion and eloquence that the UK armed forces could play a role in protecting civilians in Syria by enforcing a ‘no bomb’ zone,” said John Woodstock, friend of Cox. “This is a time for Britain to show the courage and resolve which Jo herself exemplified by taking bolder action to end the horrific bloodshed.”
Translation: a warmongering MP was murdered so let’s pretend to honor her by ensuring that the people she wanted to murder while she was still alive are murdered now that she is dead.
This may be poor logic and poor presentation but, unfortunately, this type of propaganda is effective in the modern day UK.
The former Shadow Minister, Pat McFadden chimed in as well. “The British contribution to attacking Isis strongholds – in which our pilots do everything they can to avoid civilian casualties – is an important part of the effort to free the people of Syria from the brutality of what they have been enduring. The whole approach to Syria has been marked by a reluctance to intervene but telling ourselves that because we didn’t break it we didn’t buy it is of little comfort to the innocent victims of the war.”
Translation: We have been bombing intermittently for some time and that is good but we should just go all in, to hell with civilian casualties and to hell with international law. In fact, to hell with our own population who will pay the price in blood and sacrifice as well as lower living standards back home.
The UK military voice is chiming in as well. As Col. Hamish de Bretton-Gordon said:
There is a military solution here and now is the time to be bold. We aren’t talking about boots on the ground, the very least we can do is place no bomb zones around hospitals. As the Russian government have strenuously denied that they target hospitals there should, in theory, be little danger of the nightmare scenario of a British or US jet shooting down a Russian one.
I have suggested creating a Safe Zone for civilians to go to in North West Syria and protect it otherwise they will remain and die in Aleppo or leave and turn right to Raqqa, where we could see them turn to ISIL. The very least we can do is place no bomb zones around hospitals.
Translation: We have to destroy the Syrian government. I think we can do this without starting thermonuclear World War 3 but it’s just a chance we will have to take. Let’s create a “safe zone” that is, in effect, a refuge for terrorists and an excuse to bomb the Syrian Air Force out of existence. We can use hospitals and civilians as excuses. And if that nuclear world war happens, we will know we made the wrong decision.
According to the Telegraph, sources close to Hillary Clinton have stated that Killary is planning on a “safe zone” approach upon her coronation, er, election.
The idea of establishing a “safe zone” in Syria is, of course, not a new concept. In July, 2015, the agreement being discussed would have effectively created a “buffer zone” that would have spanned from the Turkish border line into Syria. It would have extended from Azaz in the East to Jarablus in the West and as far south as al-Bab. The width of the zone would have been about 68 miles and would have extended around 40 miles deep into Syria, right on the doorstep of Aleppo.
The zone would have much smaller than that which Turkey and the United States have been calling for in the years prior and wouldn’t have necessarily stretched the length of the Turkey-Syria border. But it is a start.
True to form, the US and Turkey attempted to obfuscate the fact that their agreement was the creation of a no-fly zone by renaming it an “ISIL-free zone.” This is the same tactic used when the term “no-fly zone” and “buffer zone” began to draw too much ire from observers only a year ago. Then, the term became “safe zone.”
Semantics have served NATO and the United States well over the years. After all, a simple name change of terrorist organizations has made the Anglo-American powers able to produce “moderate rebels” and the most frightening terrorist organization the world has ever seen while using the same group of terrorists.
The description of the “ISIL-free zone” of 2015 was that it would be a distinguished area in which the Turkish and U.S. military would engage in aggressive operations against ISIS. It was floated that this area would have also functioned as a place where civilians displaced by the Syrian crisis may run to for safe haven and where “moderate rebel” forces can maintain a higher presence free from the battles with ISIS.
“Once the area is cleared, the plan is to give control to as-yet-unidentified moderate Syrian rebel groups. The United States and Turkey have differing interpretations as to which groups can be defined as ‘moderate,’” the Washington Post reported.
The reality, however, is that the “ISIL-free zone” would have been nothing more than a Forward Operating Base deeper into Syrian territory, working under the direct protection of the U.S. military and Turkish air force. That is exactly what the British and the U.S. are arguing for today.
Going further back, public discussion of the implementation of a “buffer zone” began as far back as 2012 when the Brookings Institution, in their memo “Assessing Options For Regime Change” stated
An alternative is for diplomatic efforts to focus first on how to end the violence and how to gain humanitarian access, as is being done under Annan’s leadership. This may lead to the creation of safe-havens and humanitarian corridors, which would have to be backed by limited military power. This would, of course, fall short of U.S. goals for Syria and could preserve Asad in power. From that starting point, however, it is possible that a broad coalition with the appropriate international mandate could add further coercive action to its efforts.
The Brookings Institution went further, however, describing a possible scenario that mirrors the one currently unfolding in Syria where Turkey, in coordination with Israel, could help overthrow Assad by establishing a “multi-front war” on Syria’s borders. Brookings writes,
In addition, Israel’s intelligence services have a strong knowledge of Syria, as well as assets within the Syrian regime that could be used to subvert the regime’s power base and press for Asad’s removal. Israel could posture forces on or near the Golan Heights and, in so doing, might divert regime forces from suppressing the opposition. This posture may conjure fears in the Asad regime of a multi-front war, particularly if Turkey is willing to do the same on its border and if the Syrian opposition is being fed a steady diet of arms and training. Such a mobilization could perhaps persuade Syria’s military leadership to oust Asad in order to preserve itself. Advocates argue this additional pressure could tip the balance against Asad inside Syria, if other forces were aligned properly.
Of course, the establishment of a “No-Fly Zone” is tantamount to a declaration of war. Such has even been admitted by top U.S. Generals when explaining exactly what a No Fly Zone would entail. As General Carter Ham stated,
We should make no bones about it. It first entails killing a lot of people and destroying the Syrian air defenses and those people who are manning those systems. And then it entails destroying the Syrian air force, preferably on the ground, in the air if necessary. This is a violent combat action that results in lots of casualties and increased risk to our own personnel.
General Philip Breedlove also echoed this description when he said,
I know it sounds stark, but what I always tell people when they talk to me about a no-fly zone is . . . it’s basically to start a war with that country because you are going to have to go in and kinetically take out their air defense capability
Regardless of the fact that the Anglo-American empire may very well be risking a direct military confrontation with another nuclear power, the NATO forces are intent on moving forward in their attempt to destroy Syria and its government. The major victories by the Syrian military that have taken place in recent weeks as well as the inability of the West’s terrorists to roll back SAA gains have obviously convinced NATO that more drastic measures are needed and that proxies are simply not enough to defeat a committed military supported by its people.
For a national oligarchy intent on “warning” other countries against defending themselves, we encourage the United States establishment to begin paying attention to warning signs themselves.
Brandon Turbeville – article archive here – is the author of seven books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies, Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 and volume 2, The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria, and The Difference it Makes: 36 Reasons Why Hillary Clinton Should Never Be President.
The Syria Propaganda Campaign
Neocons and Clintonites have launched a major campaign with the goal of direct US military intervention and aggression against Syria, potentially leading to war with Iran and Russia. An early indication emerged as soon as it was clear that Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic Party nominee. Following the California primary, the NY Times reported on State Department diplomats issuing an internal memo “urging the United States to carry out military strikes against the government of President Bashar al Assad.”
In early August Dennis Ross and Andrew Tabler opined in the NY Times about “The Case for (Finally) Bombing Assad.” Dennis Ross is a favorite Clintonite. In her book Hard Choices, Clinton described how she asked Dennis Ross to come to the State Department to “work on Iran and regional issues”.
NY Times regular Nicholas Kristof made his pitch for war against Syria. According to the self-styled humanitarian, we need “safe zones” as proposed by Clintonite Madeline Albright and retired General James Cartwright. That is risky but “the risks of doing nothing in Syria are even greater”.
PBS broadcast a story titled “Repeatedly targeted by airstrikes, Syrian doctors feel abandoned.” The story features video from the “White Helmets” along with photos from the reported April bombing of Al Quds Hospital.
Currently there is a huge media campaign around the situation in Aleppo. Syrian American doctor Zaher Sahloul, of the Syrian American Medical Society, has been interviewed extensively on corporate media as well as DemocracyNow with widespread promotion in Truthout and other sites.
There has been lots of publicity around a letter to President Obama, supposedly written by 15 doctors in East Aleppo. The letter ends: “We need your action.” The flow and wording of the letter suggests it may have been composed by a marketing company and there has been no verification of the doctors who supposedly signed it.
An online Change petition asks German Chancellor Merkel and President Obama to “save the people of Aleppo.”
The publicly funded Holocaust Memorial Museum has promoted the video #SaveSyria. One of the producers of the video is The Syria Campaign which is the marketing organization which branded the pervasive “White Helmets” as documented in “Seven Steps of Highly Effective Manipulators.”
In parallel with this media campaign, the House Foreign Affairs Committee has introduced HR5732 the “Caesar Syrian Civilian Protection Act of 2016”. The resolution calls for escalating economic/financial pressure on Syria and “Assessment of potential effectiveness of and requirements for the establishment of safe zones or a no fly zone in Syria”.
Dr. Sahloul, the Syrian American Medical Society doctor / spokesperson says that Obama’s legacy will be defined by whether or not he attacks Syria to impose a “no fly zone”. It seems unlikely that Obama would do that at the end of his term. Instead, the goal is to prepare the public for the new war to begin after Hillary Clinton becomes President.
Falsehoods and Lies of Omission
In his article “The media are misleading the public on Syria,” author Stephen Kinzer recently wrote: “Coverage of the Syrian war will be remembered as one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the American press. Reporting about carnage in the ancient city of Aleppo is the latest reason why.”
Here a few facts about Aleppo which contradict the msm narrative:
* At least 85% of Aleppo’s population is in government controlled area.
* The estimate of 300K civilians in rebel/terrorist controlled east Aleppo is likely a gross exaggeration. In Spring 2015 Martin Chulov of the Guardian visited the area and estimated there were 40K.
* While there are very few doctors serving in the opposition controlled Aleppo, there are thousands of doctors working in the government controlled area.
* The dominant rebel terrorist group in Aleppo is the Syrian version of Al Qaeda.
* The armed groups who invaded Aleppo have been unpopular from the beginning. In the Fall of 2012 James Foley wrote:
Aleppo, a city of about 3 million people, was once the financial heart of Syria. As it continues to deteriorate, many civilians here are losing patience with the increasingly violent and unrecognizable opposition — one that is hampered by infighting and a lack of structure, and deeply infiltrated by both foreign fighters and terrorist groups.
* The rebel-terrorists launch dozens and sometimes hundreds of mortars daily into the government controlled areas causing huge casualties. Western media ignores this destruction and loss of life.
* The much publicized April bombing of the supposed MSF supported “Al Quds Hospital” in Aleppo was full of contradictions and discrepancies. These were highlighted in an Open Letter to MSF. To this date, MSF has not provided corroborating information.
* Much of the video purporting to show bombing effects in Aleppo are stamped with the “White Helmets” logo. White Helmets is a creation of the US and UK and primarily a propaganda tool. The claims they are Syrian, independent and non-partisan are all false.
* Much of the information about Syria comes from “activists” trained and paid by the USA. In her book Hard Choices, Secretary Clinton speaks says the US provided “training for more than a thousand (Syrian) activists, students, and independent journalists” (p464, hardback version). Obviously they are not independent and their reports should be carefully checked.
* In contrast with the ambiguous situation at “Al Quds Hospital”, consider what happened to Aleppo’s “Al Kindi Hospital”. Take three minutes to view the suicide suicide bombing of Al Kindi Hospital. Take two minutes to view what the “rebels” did to Syrian soldiers who had been guarding the hospital.
* Like Richard Engels fake kidnapping, the contrived CNN reports by “Syrian Danny,” the August 21 chemical attack in Ghouta effectively shown to be a staged event intended to force US attack because of the supposedly crossed red line.
* The letter to President Obama was likely written by a paid Syria War propagandist or Washington lobby firm. Read the letter here and judge for yourself. For contrast watch this interview with a real Syrian doctor not mouthing propaganda from K Street Washington DC.
* The latest propaganda tool being used to promote US aggression against Syria is the photograph of little Omran in the orange ambulance seat. The video comes from the Aleppo Media Center “AMC”. Like the White Helmets, AMC is a US creation. The photo of Omran has been widely accepted without scrutiny. The insightful Moon of Alabama, has raised serious questions about the media sensation. Brad Hoff has documented that the main photographer, Mahmoud Raslan, is an ally of the Nour al Din al Zenki rebel terrorists who beheaded a young Palestinian Syrian a few weeks ago. This is confirmed step by step in this short video. Another good short video exposing the propaganda around #Syrianboy is here.
Why the Burst of Propaganda and Calls for US Attack Now?
The Syrian crisis is at a critical point and there is prospect of the collapse of the rebel-terrorists. If they crushed or expelled, it would allow hundreds of thousands of displaced Aleppans to return home as soon as services are restored. This would also allow the Syrian army and allies to focus on attacking ISIS in the east and terrorist groups remaining in Idlib, Hama, the outskirts of Damascus and the south.
The tide is running against the rebel terrorist factions and their supporters. Up until the last year, fanatics and mercenaries were traveling from all parts of the globe into Syria via Turkey. Tens of thousands went to Syria from SE Asia, China, Russia, North Africa, Europe and North America. They were given carte blanche to depart their home countries, arrive in Turkey and be guided into Syria. For example, young Canadians such as Damien Clairmont went and died in Syria. His mother has courageously exposed the fact that Canadian Security Intelligence Services (CSIS) knew about his plans yet did nothing to stop him. Progressive Muslim leaders demanded the government identify and start dealing with the radical recruiters. It was evidently the policy of the cynically named “Friends of Syria” to “look the other way” as their citizens were being brainwashed then recruited to become terrorists attacking Syria.
Now, with terrorist blowback, these same “Friends” are feeling some consequences from their policies. Terror attacks in Britain, France, Belgium and the USA have ended the policy of collusion with Wahhabi terrorists. In the last year, security services have started arresting recruiters and new recruits. In Britain, a long time promoter of ISIS has been convicted. In Belgium, the court has approved the extradition of a suspected French terrorist. Previously Belgium was the Western country with the highest per capita number of citizens joining the terrorist fight in Syria. And now Turkey has started arresting people en route to join ISIS in Syria.
Since the rebel terrorists invaded Aleppo in 2012, they have had a constant pipeline bringing weapons, fighters and supplies into the city. For the past few months the Syrian army has been on the verge of encircling and closing the access routes into rebel terrorist sections of east Aleppo. Western media and governments which support the rebel terrorists are doing all they can to delay or prevent this closure. They are trying to stall or prevent a Syrian victory until someone more hawkish than Barack Obama is in the White House.
Who is Driving the Conflict?
Regional forces supporting the war on Syria include Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. Israel has always been deeply involved, contrary to the faulty analysis of some observers. Israel has provided medical and military support to Nusra/Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups operating near the Golan Heights. Former Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren was explicit: “Israel has wanted Assad ousted since Syria war began.”
The USA and western powers are also deeply involved. Working with Saudi Arabia and through Turkey, the US has supplied huge quantities of weapons to the rebel terrorists. Sophisticated weaponry totaling 994 TONS was provided last winter as documented here.
On the other side, Iran and Hezbollah are committed to defending the existing Syrian government. They know that if the Syrian government falls, they will be the next ones under attack. Russia also sees this as a crucial conflict. The USA has expanded NATO up to the Russian eastern border, promoted the 2014 Ukraine coup, and insisted on economic sanctions against Russia. Syria is Russia’s only Arab ally and hosts Russia’s only foreign naval base. Russia probably sees this conflict as a crucial for its own future. In another sign of resistance to US global hegemony, China has indicated it wishes to expand military cooperation with Syria.
Following the US lead, Canada, Australia and West European countries have supported the regime change effort despite it being in clear violation of the UN Charter and international law.
What is at Stake?
Despite five years of tragedy and destruction, the U.S. continues trying to overthrow or destroy the Syrian government. This is not a new US objective. In 2005, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour interviewed Syrian President Assad and said to him: “Mr. President, you know the rhetoric of regime change is headed towards you from the United States…. They’re talking about isolating you diplomatically and, perhaps, a coup d’etat or your regime crumbling. What are you thinking about that?” Amanpour is not only the CNN host, she is the wife of neocon Clintonite James Rubin.
In 2010 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pressed Syria to stop its support of the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah, “loosen” its alliance with Iran and sign a treaty with Israel. Significantly, these are Israel’s demands and of much higher importance to the Zionist state than the USA.
The war in Syria is bringing numerous conflicts to a head: sectarian Wahhabism vs secular Islam; the “new American century” with one superpower vs a multilateral world; Zionist dominance and occupation vs Lebanese and Palestinian resistance.
Hillary Clinton is on record criticizing the decision to not bomb Syria in the Fall of 2013. She has continued to promote the idea of a “no fly zone”. She is an avowed Zionist who has said she wants to take the US-Israeli relationship to the ‘next level’.
Zionist Israel is deeply worried by the prospect of a strengthened Syria and Lebanese resistance. In addition, there are many Palestinian refugees and their descendants in Syria and Lebanon. They retain their wish to return home in keeping with international law. Just as Zionist Israeli interests were a major factor in the invasion of Iraq, so they are in continuing the conflict in Syria. In addition, neocons have not given up their goal of a “new American century”.
What Has Been the Role of the Western Left?
The left has been weak in responding and opposing the aggression against Syria. Major factors have included:
– Saudi and US State Dept funded Muslim groups which support the aggression against Syria. This includes the recently famous Dr Zaher Sahloul and the Syrian American Medical Society. SAMS and Zahloul are aligned with Saudi Arabia and receive substantial State Dept funding.
– deluded leftist groups who support a fantasy “revolution” in Syria just as they did in Libya.
– the flooding of social media and the internet by “activists” and Syrian “civil society” groups who are actually paid and trained agents of the west. This is confirmed by Clinton herself in her book Hard Choices.
– uncritical acceptance of major NGOs who are predominately funded by billionaires. These organizations need to be considered with some skepticism. For example, in 1990, Amnesty International mistakenly corroborated the accuracy of the false claim that Iraqi soldiers were stealing incubators from Kuwait, leaving babies to die on the cold floor. In the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Syria, Human Rights Watch did not oppose the invasion and implicitly accepted it by only criticizing the lack of preparation. Physicians for Human Rights, another Soros project, has issued grossly misleading reports on Syria.
– alternative media which is progressive on many issues but echoes NPR and mainstream media on critical foreign policy issues including the Syrian conflict.
Some groups including Arab Americans for Syria, Syrian American Forum, Black Agenda Report, Syria Solidarity Movement, Answer and Workers World Party have actively challenged the disinformation but their budgets and influence are relatively small in comparison with the heavily funded organizations pushing for regime change.
Veterans for Peace, one of the most influential and respected peace organizations, has recently sharpened its understanding and position. Following a recent visit to Syria, the Vice President of Veterans for Peace, Jerry Condon, has said, “Every thing we read about Syria in the US media is wrong . The reality is that the U.S. government is supporting armed extremist groups who are terrorizing the Syrian people and trying to destroy Syria’s secular state. In order to hide that ugly reality and push violent regime change the U.S. is conducting a psychological warfare campaign to demonize Syria’s president, Bashar al Assad. This is a classic tactic that veterans have seen over and over. It is shocking, however, to realize how willingly the media repeat this propaganda, and how many people believe it to be true.”
What Needs to Happen
Neoconservatives including Clintonites are pushing hard for a direct US attack on Syria to prevent the collapse of their regime change project. Claiming that the US and NATO can bring a ‘safe zone’ and ‘protect civilians’ is a grotesque falsehood. If the US tries to impose a “no fly zone” it will result in vastly more deaths and risk escalation into direct conflict between Syria, Russia, Iran and Israel.
Former Acting CIA director Mike Morell recently suggested the killing of Russians and Iranians in Syria to make them “pay a price.” He has endorsed Hillary Clinton as President. This is how dangerous, ignorant and arrogant Washington has become.
There is a clear solution to the Syrian tragedy: the countries who have been supplying tons of weapons and paying tens of thousands of mercenary terrorists should stop. The conflict would soon end. The foreigners would depart with much less fanaticism than what they came with. Many Syrian rebel terrorists would accept reconciliation.
There needs to be a global campaign but there is much responsibility in the US since our government is the greatest threat to peace. Following are specific ideas which are realistic and could help significantly.
1. Bernie Sanders raised expectations when he talked about the need stop the ‘regime change’ foreign policy. Now is when he needs to be clear and unequivocal: US military aggression against Syria will make things worse not better and must not happen. Sanders proved that a progressive policy is popular. If Sanders abandons his core foreign policy position and does not speak out strongly against the drive for aggression, it will be a huge disappointment and failure. He must not be allowed to betray his own message and end up as a porter for Hillary Clinton and the war machine.
2. DemocracyNow and other leading independent media need to start including different analyses. To a sad extent, their coverage of Syria has echoed NPR and CNN. If DemocracyNow is truly an “Exception to the Rulers,” it needs to start including more critical examinations. DN producers should be studying publications such as DissidentVoice, Consortiumnews, Global Research, AntiWar, MoonOfAlabama, Al Masdar News, Al Mayadeen, Counterpunch, American Herald Tribune, 21stCenturyWire, Black Agenda Report, the Canary, RT, PressTV, and TruePublica (not corporate ProPublica). They should be bringing the observations and analysis of journalists such as Sharmine Narwani, Edward Dark, Eva Bartlett, Brad Hoff, Vanessa Beeley, Stephen Sahiounie to name just a few. Syrian academics such as Issa Chaer (UK) and Nour al Kadri (Canada) could be interviewed. Followers of DN have heard Hillary Clinton as Secy of State and other US officials speaking about Syria countless times. Why have Amy and Juan not interviewed the Syrian Ambassador to the UN?
3. This is an opportunity and challenge for Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka of the Green Party. They are clear on this issue. If they can get a mass audience to hear their message, it could be crucial to their winning support and prompting crucial national debate. At the moment there is almost no debate on the life and death issue of war in the Middle East. Instead, the media is filled with propaganda using a boy’s photo to promote more war. The Green Party could play a hugely important role exposing the danger and duplicity of Clinton and Trump. They could play a key role in blocking the Clintonite march to a new war.
4. Veterans for Peace will hopefully play a leading role in changing the perception and ending the demobilization of the US peace movement. There is a lot at stake.
Rick Sterling is a retired aerospace engineer who now does research/writing on international issues. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Just when you thought US foreign policy could not get more absurd. Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, who is listed as “commander of US forces in Iraq and Syria,” has issued a warning to the Syrian military that if its counter-insurgency operations on Syrian soil leave US troops on Syrian soil “feeling threatened,” the US military would “defend itself.”
That needs to be broken down to even be believed.
The Syrian military is fighting an armed uprising on its own soil. The US government is training and equipping several factions of that armed insurgency, in this case the Kurdish YPG militia. The US military is also operating on Syrian soil alongside and in support of the YPG militia. Members of the YPG militia have, over the past several days, been firing on Syrian government forces. The Syrian air force returns fire on its own soil and the US military that is illegally operating on Syrian soil issues a warning to the Syrian government to stop firing on insurgents on Syrian soil!
The US government has a military “commander” commanding US forces operating illegally — according to US and international law — on a foreign country’s soil.
Logic might suggest that if the US military does not want its Special Forces to feel threatened by Syrian government counter-insurgency activities, perhaps it should remove them from that foreign territory in which they are illegally operating.
But the empire creates its own logic and it is not for we mere mortals to understand it. If the Pentagon and the military-industrial complex want to threaten war in Syria (which will be de facto war with Russia) it is not our place to question it. We just plug in to our television screens and feel that soothing sound of state propaganda telling us it’s all being done to keep us safe. There, that feels better…
India’s junior Foreign Minister Mubashir Javed Akbar met Assad in Damascus on 20 August 2016 [Image: Ministry of External Affairs, India]
During a weekend meeting with an Indian official, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has invited India to play an active role in the reconstruction of the Syrian economy.
India’s junior Foreign Minister Mubashir Javed Akbar met Assad in Damascus on Saturday. The visit will boost Syrian President Assad’s efforts to highlight continued critical support for his government.
State media reports in both countries quoted sources as saying New Delhi and Damascus have reasserted their rejection of “foreign interference in the internal affairs of states”.
The two sides discussed terrorism, faith equality and the need to upgrade bilateral security consultations, the Press Trust of India quoted Indian government sources.
As a growing power, India has a role to play in meeting the challenge of terrorism, Assad has said as the two countries agreed to upgrade their security consultations.
BRICS are opposed to the ouster of Assad as sought by the US and its allies.
Earlier in May, South African junior Foreign Minister Nomaindia Mfeketo had also called on Assad in Damascus to discuss the crisis.
Assad had told the South African Minister that the BRICS countries have played a key role in decreasing western hegemony in global affairs.
During the Indian Minister’s visit on Saturday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Mouallem said terrorism is the common adversary of both Syria and India.
There was an agreement between both sides for further upgrading security consultations, sources said.
No details of the security cooperation has been provided by the Indian government yet.
On Saturday, Vikas Swarup, spokesperson of the Indian Foreign Ministry, tweeted a picture of Assad and the Indian Minister.
“During his official visit to Syria, MoS
@mjakbar called on President Bashar Al Assad in Damascus today,” Swarup said.
The Indian Minister stressed that “India is ready to offer all that could help in alleviating the suffering of the Syrian people and contribute effectively to the development process and reconstruction in Syria”, Syrian state news agency SANA said.
During the meeting, Assad also welcomed India’s objective position on the conflict in Syria and both leaders acknowledged that terrorism was a global problem.
“As a growing power, India has a role to play in meeting the challenge of terrorism,” Assad said.
On his part, Akbar, during their meeting, said “the age of destruction” should give way to the age of “reconstruction” in Syria.
Russia, which is aiding the Syrian government’s fight against ISIL and the Al-Nusra front, said on Thursday it was willing to support weekly 48-hour ceasefires to allow aid to reach besieged areas.
How many times have we seen this before? Western media selectively focusing on, or distorting, human suffering in order to fulfill a base political agenda – war – for powerful interests.
It is no coincidence Western media fevered with images of a five-year-old boy, pulled from rubble in Aleppo after an alleged air strike by Syrian government or Russian forces – and the very next day US warplanes were scrambled over northern Syria reportedly to ward off Syrian Su-24 fighter bombers.
American political analyst Randy Martin at crookedbough.com told this author: “This is a prelude to an all-out war in Syria – one that would inevitably bring American and Russian forces into direct confrontation.”
Martin says a warmongering cabal in Washington wants an “existential showdown” with Russia. This “war party” comprises hawkish think-tanks, military corporations, the Pentagon and CIA whose world view is predicated on American total domination. “They are counting on Hillary Clinton for president,” says the analyst. “And a war with Russia in Syria is an opportunity for this cabal which Clinton seems more than willing to accommodate.”
Perversely, the image of a suffering child is being exploited to solicit an outcome entailing many, many more children suffering.
It is no coincidence either that last week saw Western media reports alleging that thousands of detainees have died during incarceration in Syrian prisons.
There were also reports claiming that since President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian military intervention in Syria last September his forces have “killed more civilians than terrorists” belonging to the Islamic State and other extremists. The latter claim was based on figures from the so-called Syrian Network for Human Rights, which, according to reliable sources, is a political front for Western governments. Tellingly, the UK-registered network refers to Russia as the “Russian regime”.
The unmistakable context is to further discredit and demonize the elected government of Syria and its foreign allies, which then gives pretext for further Western intervention in the country – intervention that under any normal, rational perspective would be viewed as illegal aggression.
Several alternative media observers have questioned the validity of the now-iconic image of the five-year-old boy, named as Omran Daqneesh. Commentators at the OffGuardian site, for example, have pointed to anomalies in the video footage suggesting that it was staged for propaganda effect. The so-called Aleppo Media Center that fed the images to Western outlets is evidently embedded with the proscribed terror group, Fatah al Sham (previously Jabhat al Nusra).
Other observers noted that the self-declared “photojournalist” Mahmoud Raslan has also been spotted in selfies posted on social media in which he cheerfully enjoys the company of militants belonging to the Nour al Din al Zinki – the very same individuals who last month posted a video of themselves decapitating a 12-year-old boy near Aleppo.
The Russian Ministry of Defense refuted claims that its aircraft were involved in the Aleppo blast. Major General Igor Konashenkov said Russian forces were not operating in the eastern district of Qaterji on the day of the alleged strike. He also said that footage of the blast site indicated it most likely was caused by a mortar shell, which could have been fired by anti-government militants. This is consistent with claims that such militants are holding civilians in eastern Aleppo as hostages and human shields.
The politicization of an image purporting to show a little boy with bloodied head, covered in dust becomes obvious when we step back from this emotive singular focus. Why do Western media outlets not give the same prominence to thousands of children who have been killed or maimed by the anti-government militants or US warplanes?
Why, we should ask, is this particular image made “iconic”? What about the countless children suffering in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Mali and elsewhere where Washington and its Western allies have waged dubious wars and invasions?
In the same week that the image of five-year-old Omran was plastered all over Western channels, in Yemen US-backed Saudi warplanes bombed a school killing 10 children. Where were their images on Western media?
Almost invariably, Western media focus on human suffering is hardly as simple as relaying the story that meets the eye. Russia was right this week to denounce the “cynical manipulation” of images as an attempt to score political points and orchestrate public sentiments.
Notorious incidents recall how Western media have actually engaged in not just “selective focus” and “omission” but fabrication. Recall the image of the emaciated girl whom Western media claimed was from an enclave in Syria besieged by “regime forces” in a policy of starving rebel-held populations. Turns out the little girl is Lebanese, unrelated to the Syrian conflict.
Or remember the Houla massacre that occurred in May 2012? Over 100 villagers were butchered in that attack and Western media rushed to assign blame on militia supporting the Assad government. Turned out that it was Western-backed mercenaries who perpetrated the atrocity, with the aim of incriminating the Syrian government.
Perhaps the most notorious “false flag” massacre was that of the chemical weapon attack on the Damascus suburb of East Ghouta in August 2014. Images of children suffocating were broadcast across the Western media. Again, it later emerged that it was US-backed Jaish al Islam militants who likely carried out the massacre in a deliberate attempt to prompt Obama’s “red line” for American air strikes on Syria.
Shameless Western media manipulation over Syria’s conflict – as with so many others, for example, Gaddafi’s “imminent butchering of Benghazi” which served as a pretext for NATO bombing of Libya and overthrow of its government in 2011 – is always correlated with a desired policy shift.
The Houla massacre back in 2012 happened only days before the UN security council was to meet on ramping up sanctions on the Assad government. The East Ghouta atrocity was around the time Washington was looking for a red line excuse to impose its military directly in Syria.
The image of the boy from Aleppo falls into the same pattern of expediting political objective.
The battle for Aleppo marks a last stand by the Western-backed militants. Their likely defeat by Syrian, Russian, Iranian and Hezbollah forces portends the end of a six-year war that Washington and its allies covertly embarked on for the illegal purpose of regime change. As many as 400,000 Syrians have died in this Western-fomented war.
Washington desperately wants to thwart the Russian-backed offensive, which is putting paid to its regime-change scheme.
Western outcry for ceasefires and No-Fly Zones are animated by emotive images of children suffering. But the real, underlying concern is to afford respite to the West’s proxies in Aleppo and to stave off terminal defeat.
Much more than this, however, is the perplexing sign that Washington wants to go to war in Syria, as US analyst Randy Martin and others point out.
Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has already stated that she will escalate American involvement in Syria. Her backers in the CIA and Pentagon are also advocating “killing Russians” and supplying anti-aircraft missiles to their jihadist proxies.
In this prelude to war, we can therefore expect many more such images of children shamelessly exploited to condition the public to accept Washington’s despicable agenda.
By Brandon Turbeville – Activist Post – August 19, 2016
It’s August, 2016 and the Western mainstream press is parading yet another injured child in front of a population of normally uncompassionate audiences in order to drum up support for some type of NATO military action against the secular government of Bashar al-Assad.
The picture of a little boy, seemingly injured in some type of bombing incident, sitting alone in an orange chair in the back of an ambulance, blood stains on his face and covered in dust from cracked concrete also comes in video form, footage that lasts for about two minutes, showing the boy being carried to a well-equipped ambulance (with English writing on some of the equipment). The boy’s story is also accompanied by “heart wrenching” stories from “activists” in east Aleppo alleging the crimes of the Syrian government and the horrific situation in the area.
The story as presented in the Western press goes as follows:
The video shows a child after he was pulled from rubble in Aleppo, a Syrian city that has been devastated by constant bombardment. A man carried the boy away from the rubble after a suspected Russian or Syrian regime airstrike in the neighborhood of rebel-held Qaterji. He placed him in an orange seat, and the boy brushed his eye and face after the man walked away.
Looking dazed, he then wiped the blood and debris on the seat. After the airstrike, which reportedly shook the northern Syrian city Wednesday night during a call to prayer, the boy was rescued from the rubble that was once his home. Mahmoud Raslan, a photojournalist who captured the image, told the Associated Press that emergency workers and journalists tried to help the child, identified as 5-year-old Omran Daqneesh, along with his parents and his three siblings, who are 1, 6 and 11 years old. “We were passing them from one balcony to the other,” Raslan said, adding: “We sent the younger children immediately to the ambulance, but the 11-year-old girl waited for her mother to be rescued. Her ankle was pinned beneath the rubble.”
Omran was taken to a hospital for a wound on his head.
. . . . .
“This picture of a wounded Syrian boy captures just a fragment of the horrors of Aleppo,” read a Telegraph headline about the picture. The International Business Times said: “Heartbreaking video of little boy dragged from Aleppo rubble shows Syrian children’s suffering.”
. . . . .
The haunting image was also shared by David Miliband, former British foreign secretary and now president and chief executive of the International Rescue Committee. At least 400,000 people have died and millions have been displaced as the Syrian conflict has stretched on for years.
It is rather clear that the child is being used as a stage prop. After being passed to the medical “attendants,” little Omran is placed in an orange chair facing the camera and immediately left alone. He is not treated, no one else is being lifted into the ambulance, and no one is even in the vehicle with him. Instead, he is left to face the “activists” outside the vehicle and their cameras for what seems like too long a time to be anything other than a photo op for the “activists” videotaping him.
While some more discerning alternative media outlets are questioning the credibility of the footage – suggesting that the entire affair was simply staged by “activists” (meaning terrorists and terrorist supporters like the White Helmets) for propaganda purposes – one need not go so far in order to destroy the narrative being pushed by Western outlets. It is, of course, quite possible that the footage was simply created from beginning to end by propagandists but there is also no shortage of injured and dying children in Syria. Thus, the possibility that this footage is completely real and merely seized upon by the propagandists is incredibly real as well. It is even possible that the child was injured as a result of errant bombs dropped by Syrian or Russian planes. Generally, however, when children are killed or injured by American bombs or by bearded freaks receiving a paycheck from the U.S. government, those children are simply labeled “collateral damage” or “unfortunate realities of war.” Even if the bombing targets were intentionally civilian areas, the results are excused. When children are unintentionally injured by a Syrian or Russian plane – despite have taken all the appropriate measures to avoid these types of incidents – the Western press refers to the results as “crimes against humanity,” “intentional targeting of civilians,” and Assad “killing his own people.”
It should also be noted that, while all of the above may be the source of the child’s injuries, it is just as likely that his injuries came as a result of the men seen handling him. After all, America’s “rebels” have long killed children in the most grotesque manner, even beheading a young boy on camera in recent weeks.
But regardless of the nature of the child’s injuries, the photo and the footage is clearly a propaganda stunt. At best, it was seized by propagandists in the West and their foot soldiers in “rebel held” areas of Syria, ) i.e. terrorist support operations such as the White Helmets). One need only examine the “photographer” and this push by mainstream outlets to see that little Omran is being used as the latest bit of war porn propaganda, designed to create sympathy and moral outrage in an audience devoid of both until they are told to have one or the other by mass media outlets.
Mahmoud Raslan, “Activist,” “Journalist,” Terrorist
Raslan describes himself to be a “Syrian media activist,” which, in and of itself, is a red flag to anyone who has studied the Syrian crisis. In the world of Western media, anyone defining themselves as an “activist” in Syria should immediately be translated to mean “terrorist.” Calling “terrorists” “activists” has been an important mode of operation by the Western media since day one in Syria since “activists” can be quoted while actual terrorists are not seen as credible enough in the minds of the general public. In other words, “activist” is merely a moniker assumed by terrorists when propaganda outfits need “on the ground” confirmation of what they are already peddling.
Raslan, the “Syrian media activist” certainly fits the bill. Despite being hailed a true journalist or selfless “activist,” Raslan’s terror-supporting history is easily revealed via social media. Raslan has repeatedly made public statements praising terrorists and suicide bombers. In a post on Raslan’s facebook page (translated by The Canary) reads:
With the suicide fighters, from the land of battles and butchery, from Aleppo of the martyrs, we bring you tidings of impending joy, with God’s permission
Another post reads:
Thousands of suicide fighters and tens of booby-traps are being prepared for the great battle in Aleppo, the first battle where I see men weeping because they can’t participate on account of the number of attackers.
Raslan’s Twitter page is full of pictures and footage of him standing next to captured Syrian tanks, marching with terrorists flying the French mandate flag (white, black, and green), taking selfies with terrorists, and celebrating terrorist victories. His Twitter page alone carries a cover photo that says “Stop Russia.” Why would anyone want to stop Russia from bombing terrorists unless they themselves were terrorists? This is a question more and more Americans should be asking themselves.
Videos on Raslan’s social media also show celebrations with other terrorists, praising suicide bombers on camera.
As Miri Wood writes in her article, “Oscar Nominations For War Porn With Child Has New Nomination,” “That one woman with a Twitter account can immediately expose this heinous relationship, while paid msm reporters cheer this scum, if further indictment of the criminal intentions of western media against the Syrian Arab Republic.”
Wood and Afraa Dagher continue by writing,
True, Gray Boy might not be the best competition for Aylan, but how many drowned babies’ bodies that have been desecrated by repositioning for maximum emotional impact are we to expect?
Aylan’s defiled corpse was needed to propagate the myth of the external Syrian refugee — part of the plan to strategically depopulate the country (which is why msm neglected to mention Aylan’s father was the human trafficking boat ‘captain’) — while Gray Boy is to be used for an increased bombing campaign against Syria, by the same NATO forces which have funded terrorism in the SAR, and which obliterated Libya in 2011.
As Mnar A. Muhawesh of Mint Press News stated,
Since when does the corporate or mainstream media care about the people of Syria let alone the children of Syria? The answer is never. Watching CNN anchors cry crocodile tears over the Aleppo boy lifted from rubble serves one purpose only: to play with our emotions to justify more US intervention. MEDIA and their pundits are now calling for the US to help these people, as if our actions haven’t done enough damage. And by help, they mean bomb. But, I have been poking around to find the original source of this video of the heart-wrenching Syrian boy. It brought me to tears and I’m seeing everyone post about it. CNN cited the original source as coming from the Aleppo Media Center. The website is in Arabic but I read it, and it’s a pro rebel website referring to Al-qaeda rebels that behead civilians as “revolutionaries”. I doubt many people looked up the original source, but I did and it wasn’t hard to find. What the media is not telling us is that many parts of Aleppo is currently occupied by Al-qaeda rebels including al-Nusra Front and Noor alzinki — including the area this boy is from.
. . . . .
Consider this: CNN and other media and NGO’s that are funded by NATO county’s like the US and the UK have embedded reporters, rescue workers and doctors in al-Qaeda held areas like we see with the White Helmets. These are the sources the media is using for interviews and sources for information to control the narrative. But the Assad government is bombing the Al-qaeda held areas. Three years ago the media referred to these areas as al-qaeda held. Today, they’re referring to these same terrorists as “opposition” . These groups are starving the areas they occupy and hog up all aid sent into the areas set to them for civilians. This gives these institutions an opportunity to show the West how the Assad government and the Syrian army are airstriking “opposition” held areas without the context that these are al- qaeda held or that many times the Al-qaeda rebels are starving the population. Doesn’t the US want to get rid of Al-qaeda and ISIS? You’d think that but instead, they are defending them to the world and legitimizing them. These “sources” are simply controlling the narrative Indeed, the award-winning performance of CNN news anchor Kate Bolduan crying, hyperventilating, and indignantly insinuating that someone should “do something” to stop these airstrikes against terrorist forces has caught the attention of many people who couldn’t find Syria on a map before or after her report. But we haven’t see Bolduan crying for any other Syrian children over the course of the last five years. Did she cry over the young boy beheaded by America’s “moderate” rebels? Did she cry at any other child’s death at the hands of the “rebels?” There is no shortage of dead children in Syria and certainly no shortage of them killed in the most horrific and sadistic ways by the “activists” and “rebels” her employer has been pimping to the American people since day one. So why the tears for this child?
Bolduan’s carefully scripted performance and excellent follow-through should earn her a serious acting job one day. But we would kindly ask she leave journalism to someone else.
Little Omran is unfortunately the rehash of baby Aylan, a child for whom Western audiences wept and wailed for days, becoming more and more willing to allow the West to increase its intervention in Syria and allow hordes of non-Syrian immigrants into their country but who, only a year later, would scarcely warrant a head scratch at the familiarity of the name. But it would be virtually impossible to ask any American to recount the name of the little girl killed by Obama’s rebels in Lattakia, car bombed to death by “moderates” and democracy-loving Sharia fanatics, around the same time as baby Aylan. Why? Because not one mainstream media outlet reported her death.
Indeed, some children are more equal than others and children killed by America’s terrorists aren’t worthy of even a mention by the mainstream press. Forgive me if I am unconvinced and unmoved by CNN’s crying anchors or America’s temporary fickle and hypocritical moral outrage.
In exceptionally assertive remarks on Saturday, Iranian Defence Minister Gen. Hossein Dehqan said in Tehran that more numbers of Iranian military bases could be made available to Russia, depending on operational requirements, in addition to the use of the Hamadan air base by Russian bombers currently.
He added that there is no time limit set to the access given to Russian aircraft to operate out of Hamadan military base. Dehqan disclosed:
- Russian jets and bombers are free to undertake repairs and load ordnance in the Iranian base;
- Iran’s military cooperation with Russia in this respect is “strategic” in nature;
- The cooperation stems from a defence pact to upgrade military cooperation “so as to act in more harmony, particularly in the fight against terrorism”;
- The use of Iranian military bases by Russia is a topic that is beyond the purview of the Majlis (implying it is based on decision by the Supreme Leader);
- The Iran-Russia alliance aims to bring an early end to the Syrian conflict.
The big question will be whether an Iran-Russia mutual security alliance could be in the making – something akin to the Indo-Soviet Treaty of 1971.
A Moscow pundit Prof. Dmitry Yevstafyev tiptoed around the explosive theme in the weekend. He made the following key points in an opinion-piece that is presumably intended for the Western audience:
- There is “still no talk of a full-fledged military union” between Russia and Iran;
- However, the use of Hamadan is not a stand-alone event, either;
- Nor is it to be seen as a mere tactical tie-up with the narrow objective of liberating Aleppo;
- On the contrary, it rests on a solid foundation that has been laid carefully in political, military and economic terms in the Russian-Iranian relations through recent period, which in turn is predicated on a cool assessment by Moscow that the US-Iran ‘honeymoon’ has become a thing of the past;
- Russia and Iran have created together a “completely new context” in the region and aspire to be “decisive players”;
- Russia has signalled to Washington that: a) its partnership with Iran is a “strategic priority”; b) Moscow is no longer bound by US’ ‘red lines’ as regards strategic ties with Iran; c) if Hamadan tie-up is successful, “moves that will lead to an unprecedented convergence between Iran and Moscow are also possible in future”; and, d) Washington cannot stop Moscow in its tracks in the priority task of “destroying the Syrian opposition in Aleppo”;
- Russia’s tie-up with Iran has emboldened Beijing to shed its reticence and to move to “expand its assistance” to the Syrian regime with the intention to “participate in future political and economic processes”.
To my mind, the above is an accurate assessment of the trends that have surfaced. This can only mean that the balance of power in the Middle East is phenomenally shifting.
India needs to take serious note even as Minister of State MJ Akbar arrives today in Damascus on a rare visit by an Indian dignitary. (Where China goes, can India be far behind?)
To be sure, Moscow is moving speedily to create new facts on the ground before the next US president takes over the reins of the US’ Middle East policies. Moscow aims to bolster Iran’s defence capability to a point that a military strike on that country becomes a non-option for the US and/or Israel.
Conceivably, we cannot rule out that there would have been some discussions already between Moscow and Tehran regarding a mutual security alliance in the event of a military threat from a new US administration dominated by neoconservative ideologues (which could be the case in a Hillary Clinton presidency.)
Russia is speeding up the delivery of the S-300 missile system to Iran. Reports from Tehran say that the delivery will be completed within a month from now.
The Israeli military intelligence sources have been cited by Debka as claiming that Russia has deployed the formidable S-400 missile system as well in Hamadan. (Despite Iranian denials, this should not cause surprise since pictures show an unspecified number of Tu-22M3 strategic ‘Backfire’ bombers – capable of carrying nuclear missiles – and Su-34 strike fighters parked in the Hamadan air base; and it is inconceivable that a solid Russian air defence system is not deployed alongside.)
The import of the Russian-Iranian strategic congruence is sinking in regionally. Over the weekend, for the first time Syrian jets attacked Kurdish forces in northern Syria (which are protected by the US Special Forces) despite American warnings to stay clear. (Reuters )
Equally, Turkish Foreign Minister Mavlut Cavusoglu had a 5-hour meeting with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Zarif in Tehran on August 18 to follow up on Zarif’s talks with the Turkish leadership in Ankara on August 12. Cavusoglu’s hurried trip to Tehran aimed at Turkish-Iranian coordination in the move against Kurds.
Ankara will be pleased with the prospect of Damascus taking on the Kurds, finally. In remarks Saturday in Ankara, Prime Minister Binaldi Yildirim strongly hinted at Turkey moving on the ground to prevent the emergence of a Kurdistan enclave in northern Syria (with tacit US backing). Turkey has shared interest in this regard with Tehran and Damascus.
If so, Ankara, Tehran and Damascus may find themselves on the same page sooner than one would have expected. Moscow cannot but be pleased with this prospect.(Sputnik )