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    Syria

    Washington’s Long War on Syria
    Publication date April 17.

    When President Barack Obama demanded formally in the summer of 2011 that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad step down, it was not the first time Washington had sought regime change in Damascus. The United States had waged a long war against Syria from the very moment the country’s fiercely independent Arab nationalist movement came to power in 1963. Assad and his father Hafez al-Assad were committed to that movement.

    Washington sought to purge Arab nationalist influence from the Syrian state and the Arab world more broadly. It was a threat to Washington’s agenda of establishing global primacy and promoting business-friendly investment climates for US banks, investors and corporations throughout the world. Arab nationalists aspired to unify the world’s 400 million Arabs into a single super-state capable of challenging United States hegemony in West Asia and North Africa. They aimed to become a major player on the world stage free from the domination of the former colonial powers and the US.

    Washington had waged long wars on the leaders of the Arab nationalist movement. These included Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, and Syria’s Assads. To do so, the US often allied with particularly violent forms of political Islam to undermine its Arab nationalist foes. By 2011, only one pan-Arabist state remained in the region—Syria.

    In Washington’s Long War on Syria Stephen Gowans examines the decades-long struggle for control of Syria. This struggle involved secular Arab nationalism, political Islam, and United States imperialism, the self-proclaimed Den of Arabism, and last secular pan-Arabist state in the region.

    https://gowans.wordpress.com/

    =====================

    The Revolutionary Distemper in Syria That Wasn’t
    October 22, 2016

    Apparently, the US Left has yet to figure out that Washington doesn’t try to overthrow neoliberals. If Syrian President Bashar al-Assad were a devotee of the Washington Consensus–as Counterpunch’s Eric Draitser seems to believe–the United States government wouldn’t have been calling since 2003 for Assad to step down. Nor would it be overseeing the Islamist guerilla war against his government; it would be protecting him.

    By Stephen Gowans

    There is a shibboleth in some circles that, as Eric Draitser put it in a recent Counterpunch article, the uprising in Syria “began as a response to the Syrian government’s neoliberal policies and brutality,” and that “the revolutionary content of the rebel side in Syria has been sidelined by a hodgepodge of Saudi and Qatari-financed jihadists.” This theory appears, as far as I can tell, to be based on argument by assertion, not evidence.

    A review of press reports in the weeks immediately preceding and following the mid-March 2011 outbreak of riots in Daraa—usually recognized as the beginning of the uprising—offers no indication that Syria was in the grips of a revolutionary distemper, whether anti-neo-liberal or otherwise. On the contrary, reporters representing Time magazine and the New York Times referred to the government as having broad support, of critics conceding that Assad was popular, and of Syrians exhibiting little interest in protest. At the same time, they described the unrest as a series of riots involving hundreds, and not thousands or tens of thousands of people, guided by a largely Islamist agenda and exhibiting a violent character.
    Time magazine reported that two jihadist groups that would later play lead roles in the insurgency, Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham, were already in operation on the eve of the riots, while a mere three months earlier, leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood voiced “their hope for a civil revolt in Syria.” The Muslim Brothers, who had decades earlier declared a blood feud with Syria’s ruling Ba’athist Party, objecting violently to the party’s secularism, had been embroiled in a life and death struggle with secular Arab nationalists since the 1960s, and had engaged in street battles with Ba’athist partisans from the late 1940s. (In one such battle, Hafez al-Assad, the current president’s father, who himself would serve as president from 1970 to 2000, was knifed by a Muslim Brother adversary.) The Brotherhood’s leaders, beginning in 2007, met frequently with the US State Department and the US National Security Council, as well as with the US government-funded Middle East Partnership Initiative, which had taken on the overt role of funding overseas overthrow organizations—a task the CIA had previously done covertly.

    Washington had conspired to purge Arab nationalist influence from Syria as early as the mid-1950s, when Kermit Roosevelt, who engineered the overthrow of Iran’s prime minister Mohammad Mossadegh for nationalizing his country’s oil industry, plotted with British intelligence to stir up the Muslim Brothers to overthrow a triumvirate of Arab nationalist and communist leaders in Damascus who Washington and London perceived as threatening Western economic interests in the Middle East.

    Washington funnelled arms to Brotherhood mujahedeen in the 1980s to wage urban guerrilla warfare against Hafez al-Assad, who hardliners in Washington called an “Arab communist.” His son, Bashar, continued the Arab nationalists’ commitment to unity (of the Arab nation), independence, and (Arab) socialism. These goals guided the Syrian state—as they had done the Arab nationalist states of Libya under Muammar Gaddafi and Iraq under Saddam. All three states were targeted by Washington for the same reason: their Arab nationalist commitments clashed fundamentally with the US imperialist agenda of US global leadership.

    Bashar al-Assad’s refusal to renounce Arab nationalist ideology dismayed Washington, which complained about his socialism, the third part of the Ba’athists’ holy trinity of values. Plans to oust Assad—based in part on his failure to embrace Washington’s neo-liberalism—were already in preparation in Washington by 2003, if not earlier. If Assad was championing neo-liberalism, as Draitser and others contend, it somehow escaped the notice of Washington and Wall Street, which complained about “socialist” Syria and the country’s decidedly anti-neoliberal economic policies.

    A Death Feud Heats Up With US Assistance

    In late January 2011, a page was created on Facebook called The Syrian Revolution 2011. It announced that a “Day of Rage” would be held on February 4 and 5. [1] The protests “fizzled,” reported Time. The Day of Rage amounted to a Day of Indifference. Moreover, the connection to Syria was tenuous. Most of the chants shouted by the few protesters who attended were about Libya, demanding that Muammar Gaddafi—whose government was under siege by Islamist insurrectionists—step down. Plans were set for new protests on March 4 and March 5, but they too garnered little support. [2]

    Time’s correspondent Rania Abouzeid attributed the failure of the protest organizers to draw significant support to the fact that most Syrians were not opposed to their government. Assad had a favorable reputation, especially among the two-thirds of the population under 30 years of age, and his government’s policies were widely supported. “Even critics concede that Assad is popular and considered close to the country’s huge youth cohort, both emotionally, ideologically and, of course, chronologically,” Abouzeid reported, adding that unlike “the ousted pro-American leaders of Tunisia and Egypt, Assad’s hostile foreign policy toward Israel, strident support for Palestinians and the militant groups Hamas and Hezbollah are in line with popular Syrian sentiment.” Assad, in other words, had legitimacy. The Time correspondent added that Assad’s “driving himself to the Umayyad Mosque in February to take part in prayers to mark the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, and strolling through the crowded Souq Al-Hamidiyah marketplace with a low security profile” had “helped to endear him, personally, to the public.” [3]

    This depiction of the Syrian president—a leader endeared to the public, ideologically in sync with popular Syrian sentiment—clashed starkly with the discourse that would emerge shortly after the eruption of violent protests in the Syrian town of Daraa less than two weeks later, and would become implanted in the discourse of US leftists, including Draitser. But on the eve of the signal Daraa events, Syria was being remarked upon for its quietude. No one “expects mass uprisings in Syria,” Abouzeid reported, “and, despite a show of dissent every now and then, very few want to participate.” [4] A Syrian youth told Time: “There is a lot of government help for the youth. They give us free books, free schools, free universities.” (Hardly the picture of the neo-liberal state Draitser paints.) She continued: “Why should there be a revolution? There’s maybe a one percent chance.” [5] The New York Times shared this view. Syria, the newspaper reported, “seemed immune to the wave of uprisings sweeping the Arab world.” [6] Syria was distemper-free.

    But on March 17, there was a violent uprising in Daraa. There are conflicting accounts of who or what sparked it. Time reported that the “rebellion in Daraa was provoked by the arrest of a handful of youths for daubing a wall with anti-regime graffiti.” [7] The Independent’s Robert Fisk offered a slightly different version. He reported that “government intelligence officers beat and killed several boys who had scrawled anti-government graffiti on the walls of the city.” [8] Another account holds that the factor that sparked the uprising in Daraa that day was extreme and disproportionate use of force by Syrian security forces in response to demonstrations against the boys’ arrest. There “were some youngsters printing some graffiti on the wall, and they were imprisoned, and as their parents wanted them back, the security forces really struck back very, very tough.” [9] Another account, from the Syrian government, denies that any of this happened. Five years after the event, Assad told an interviewer that it “didn’t happen. It was only propaganda. I mean, we heard about them, we never saw those children that have been taken to prison that time. So, it was only a fallacious narrative.”[10]

    But if there was disagreement about what sparked the uprising, there was little disagreement that the uprising was violent. The New York Times reported that “Protesters set fire to the ruling Ba’ath Party’s headquarters and other government buildings…and clashed with police….In addition to the party headquarters, protesters burned the town’s main courthouse and a branch of the SyriaTel phone company.” [11] Time added that protesters set fire to the governor’s office, as well as to a branch office of a second cellphone company. [12] The Syrian government’s news agency, SANA, posted photographs of burning vehicles on its Web site. [13] Clearly, this wasn’t a peaceful demonstration, as it would be later depicted. Nor was it a mass uprising. Time reported that the demonstrators numbered in the hundreds, not thousands or tens of thousands. [14]

    Assad reacted immediately to the Daraa ructions, announcing “a series of reforms, including a salary increase for public workers, greater freedom for the news media and political parties, and a reconsideration of the emergency rule,” [15] a war-time restriction on political and civil liberties, invoked because Syria was officially at war with Israel. Before the end of April, the government would rescind “the country’s 48-year-old emergency law” and abolish “the Supreme State Security Court.” [16]

    Why did the government make these concessions? Because that’s what the Daraa protesters demanded. Protesters “gathered in and around Omari mosque in Daraa, chanting their demands: the release of all political prisoners…the abolition of Syria’s 48-year emergency law; more freedoms; and an end to pervasive corruption.” [17] These demands were consistent with the call, articulated in early February on The Syrian Revolution 2011 Facebook page “to end the state of emergency in Syria and end corruption.” [18] A demand to release all political prisoners was also made in a letter signed by clerics posted on Facebook. The clerics’ demands included lifting the “state of emergency law, releasing all political detainees, halting harassment by the security forces and combating corruption.” [19] Releasing political detainees would amount to releasing jihadists, or, to use a designation current in the West, “terrorists.” The State Department had acknowledged that political Islam was the main opposition in Syria [20]; jihadists made up the principal section of oppositionists likely to be incarcerated. Clerics demanding that Damascus release all political prisoners was equal in effect to the Islamic State demanding that Washington, Paris, and London release all Islamists detained in US, French and British prisons on terrorism charges. This wasn’t a demand for jobs and greater democracy, but a demand for the release from prison of activists inspired by the goal of bringing about an Islamic state in Syria. The call to lift the emergency law, similarly, appeared to have little to do with fostering democracy and more to do with expanding the room for jihadists and their collaborators to organize opposition to the secular state.

    A week after the outbreak of violence in Daraa, Time’s Rania Abouzeid reported that “there do not appear to be widespread calls for the fall of the regime or the removal of the relatively popular President.” [21] Indeed, the demands issued by the protesters and clerics had not included calls for Assad to step down. And Syrians were rallying to Assad. “There were counterdemonstrations in the capital in support of the President,” [22] reportedly far exceeding in number the hundreds of protesters who turned out in Daraa to burn buildings and cars and clash with police. [23]

    By April 9—less than a month after the Daraa events—Time reported that a string of protests had broken out and that Islam was playing a prominent role in them. For anyone who was conversant with the decades-long succession of strikes, demonstrations, riots, and insurrections the Muslim Brotherhood had organized against what it deemed the “infidel” Ba’athist government, this looked like history repeating itself. The protests weren‘t reaching a critical mass. On the contrary, the government continued to enjoy “the loyalty” of “a large part of the population,” reported Time. [24]

    Islamists played a lead role in drafting the Damascus Declaration in the mid-2000s, which demanded regime change. [25] In 2007, the Muslim Brothers, the archetypal Sunni political Islamist movement, which inspired Al-Qaeda and its progeny, Jabhat al Nusra and Islamic State, teamed up with a former Syrian vice-president to found the National Salvation Front. The front met frequently with the US State Department and the US National Security Council, as well as with the US government-funded Middle East Partnership Initiative, [26] which did openly what the CIA once did covertly, namely, funnel money and expertise to fifth columnists in countries whose governments Washington opposed.

    By 2009, just two years before the eruption of unrest throughout the Arab world, the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood denounced the Arab nationalist government of Bashar al-Assad as a foreign and hostile element in Syrian society which needed to be eliminated. According to the group’s thinking, the Alawite community, to which Assad belonged, and which the Brothers regarded as heretics, used secular Arab nationalism as a cover to furtively advance a sectarian agenda to destroy Syria from within by oppressing “true” (i.e., Sunni) Muslims. In the name of Islam, the heretical regime would have to be overthrown. [27]

    A mere three months before the 2011 outbreak of violence in Syria, scholar Liad Porat wrote a brief for the Crown Center for Middle East Studies, based at Brandeis University. “The movement’s leaders,” the scholar concluded, “continue to voice their hope for a civil revolt in Syria, wherein ‘the Syrian people will perform its duty and liberate Syria from the tyrannical and corrupt regime.’” The Brotherhood stressed that it was engaged in a fight to the death with the secular Arab nationalist government of Bashar al-Assad. A political accommodation with the government was impossible because its leaders were not part of the Sunni Muslim Syrian nation. Membership in the Syrian nation was limited to true Muslims, the Brothers contended, and not Alawite heretics who embraced such foreign un-Islamic creeds as secular Arab nationalism. [28]

    That the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood played a key role in the uprising that erupted three months later was confirmed in 2012 by the US Defense Intelligence Agency. A leaked report from the agency said that the insurgency was sectarian and led by the Muslim Brotherhood and Al-Qaeda in Iraq, the forerunner of Islamic State. The report went on to say that the insurgents were supported by the West, Arab Gulf oil monarchies and Turkey. The analysis correctly predicted the establishment of a “Salafist principality,” an Islamic state, in Eastern Syria, noting that this was desired by the insurgency’s foreign backers, who wanted to see the secular Arab nationalists isolated and cut-off from Iran. [29]

    Documents prepared by US Congress researchers in 2005 revealed that the US government was actively weighing regime change in Syria long before the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011, challenging the view that US support for the Syrian rebels was based on allegiance to a “democratic uprising” and showing that it was simply an extension of a long-standing policy of seeking to topple the government in Damascus. Indeed, the researchers acknowledged that the US government’s motivation to overthrow the secular Arab nationalist government in Damascus was unrelated to democracy promotion in the Middle East. In point of fact, they noted that Washington’s preference was for secular dictatorships (Egypt) and monarchies (Jordan and Saudi Arabia.) The impetus for pursuing regime change, according to the researchers, was a desire to sweep away an impediment to the achievement of US goals in the Middle East related to strengthening Israel, consolidating US domination of Iraq, and fostering open market, free enterprise economies. Democracy was never a consideration. [30] If Assad was promoting neo-liberal policies in Syria, as Draitser contends, it’s difficult to understand why Washington cited Syria’s refusal to embrace the US agenda of open markets and free enterprise as a reason to change Syria’s government.

    To underscore the point that the protests lacked broad popular support, on April 22, more than a month after the Daraa riot, the New York Times’ Anthony Shadid reported that “the protests, so far, seemed to fall short of the popular upheaval of revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia.” In other words, more than a month after only hundreds—and not thousands or tens of thousands—of protesters rioted in Daraa, there was no sign in Syria of a popular Arab Spring upheaval. The uprising remained a limited, prominently, Islamist affair. By contrast, there had been huge demonstrations in Damascus in support of—not against—the government, Assad remained popular, and, according to Shadid, the government commanded the loyalty of “Christian and heterodox Muslim sects.” [31] Shadid wasn’t the only Western journalist who reported that Alawites, Ismailis, Druze and Christians were strongly backing the government. Times’ Rania Abouzeid observed that the Ba’athists “could claim the backing of Syria’s substantial minority groups.” [32]

    The reality that the Syrian government commanded the loyalty of Christian and heterodox Muslim sects, as the New York Times’ Shadid reported, suggested that Syria’s religious minorities recognized something about the uprising that the Western press under-reported (and revolutionary socialists in the United States missed), namely, that it was driven by a sectarian Sunni Islamist agenda which, if brought to fruition, would have unpleasant consequences for anyone who wasn’t considered a “true” Muslim. For this reason, Alawites, Ismailis, Druze and Christians lined up with the Ba’athists who sought to bridge sectarian divisions as part of their programmatic commitment to fostering Arab unity. The slogan “Alawis to the grave and Christians to Beirut!” chanted during demonstrations in those early days” [33] only confirmed the point that the uprising was a continuation of the death feud that Sunni political Islam had vowed to wage against the secular Arab nationalist government, and was not a mass upheaval for democracy or against neo-liberalism. If indeed it was any of these things, how would we explain that a thirst for democracy and opposition to neo-liberalism were present only in the Sunni community and absent in those of religious minorities? Surely, a democratic deficit and neoliberal tyranny, if they were present at all and acted as triggers of a revolutionary upsurge, would have crossed religious lines. That Alawites, Ismailis, Druze and Christians didn’t demonstrate, and that riots were Sunni-based with Islamist content, points strongly to the insurrection, from the very beginning, representing the recrudescence of the long running Sunni jihadist campaign against Ba’athist secularism.

    “From the very beginning the Assad government said it was engaged in a fight with militant Islamists.” [34] The long history of Islamist uprisings against Ba’athism prior to 2011 certainly suggested this was very likely the case, and the way in which the uprising subsequently unfolded, as an Islamist-led war against the secular state, only strengthened the view. Other evidence, both positive and negative, corroborated Assad’s contention that the Syrian state was under attack by jihadists (just as it had been many other times in the past.) The negative evidence, that the uprising wasn’t a popular upheaval against an unpopular government, was inhered in Western media reports which showed that Syria’s Arab nationalist government was popular and commanded the loyalty of the population.

    By contrast, anti-government demonstrations, riots and protests were small-scale, attracting far fewer people than did a mass demonstration in Damascus in support of the government, and certainly not on the order of the popular upheavals in Egypt and Tunisia. What’s more, the protesters’ demands centered on the release of political prisoners (mainly jihadists) and the lifting of war-time restrictions on the expression of political dissent, not calls for Assad to step down or change the government’s economic policies. The positive evidence came from Western news media accounts which showed that Islam played a prominent role in the riots. Also, while it was widely believed that armed Islamist groups only entered the fray subsequent to the initial spring 2011 riots—and in doing so “hijacked” a “popular uprising”— in point of fact, two jihadist groups which played a prominent role in the post-2011 armed revolt against secular Arab nationalism, Ahrar- al-Sham and Jabhat al-Nusra, were both active at the beginning of 2011. Ahrar al-Sham “started working on forming brigades…well before mid-March, 2011, when the” Daraa riot occurred, according to Time. [35] Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, “was unknown until late January 2012, when it announced its formation… [but] it was active for months before then.” [36]

    Another piece of evidence that is consistent with the view that militant Islam played a role in the uprisings very early on—or, at the very least, that the protests were violent from the beginning—is that `”there were signs from the very start that armed groups were involved.” The journalist and author Robert Fisk recalled seeing a tape from “the very early days of the ‘rising’ showing men with pistols and Kalashnikovs in a Daraa demonstration.” He recalls another event, in May 2011, when “an Al Jazeera crew filmed armed men shooting at Syrian troops a few hundred metres from the northern border with Lebanon but the channel declined to air the footage.” [37] Even US officials, who were hostile to the Syrian government and might be expected to challenge Damascus’s view that it was embroiled in a fight with armed rebels “acknowledged that the demonstrations weren’t peaceful and that some protesters were armed.” [38] By September, Syrian authorities were reporting that they had lost more than 500 police officers and soldiers, killed by guerillas. [39] By late October, the number had more than doubled. [40] In less than a year, the uprising had gone from the burning of Ba’ath Party buildings and government officers and clashes with police, to guerrilla warfare, involving methods that would be labeled “terrorism” were they undertaken against Western targets.

    Assad would later complain that:

    “Everything we said in Syria at the beginning of the crisis they say later. They said it’s peaceful, we said it’s not peaceful, they’re killing – these demonstrators, that they called them peaceful demonstrators – have killed policemen. Then it became militants. They said yes, it’s militants. We said it’s militants, it’s terrorism. They said no, it’s not terrorism. Then when they say it’s terrorism, we say it’s Al Qaeda, they say no, it’s not Al Qaeda. So, whatever we said, they say later.” [41]

    The “Syrian uprising,” wrote the Middle East specialist Patrick Seale, “should be seen as only the latest, if by far the most violent, episode in the long war between Islamists and Ba’athists, which dates back to the founding of the secular Ba‘ath Party in the 1940s. The struggle between them is by now little short of a death-feud.” [42] “It is striking,” Seale continued, citing Aron Lund, who had written a report for the Swedish Institute of International Affairs on Syrian Jihadism, “that virtually all the members of the various armed insurgent groups are Sunni Arabs; that the fighting has been largely restricted to Sunni Arab areas only, whereas areas inhabited by Alawis, Druze or Christians have remained passive or supportive of the regime; that defections from the regime are nearly 100 per cent Sunni; that money, arms and volunteers are pouring in from Islamic states or from pro-Islamic organisations and individuals; and that religion is the insurgent movement’s most important common denominator.” [43]

    Brutality as a Trigger?

    Is it reasonable to believe that the use of force by the Syrian state sparked the guerrilla war which broke out soon after?

    It strains belief that an over-reaction by security forces to a challenge to government authority in the Syrian town of Daraa (if indeed an over-reaction occurred) could spark a major war, involving scores of states, and mobilizing jihadists from scores of countries. A slew of discordant facts would have to be ignored to begin to give this theory even a soupcon of credibility.

    First, we would have to overlook the reality that the Assad government was popular and viewed as legitimate. A case might be made that an overbearing response by a highly unpopular government to a trivial challenge to its authority might have provided the spark that was needed to ignite a popular insurrection, but notwithstanding US president Barack Obama’s insistence that Assad lacked legitimacy, there’s no evidence that Syria, in March 2011, was a powder keg of popular anti-government resentment ready to explode. As Time’s Rania Abouzeid reported on the eve of the Daraa riot, “Even critics concede that Assad is popular” [44] and “no one expects mass uprisings in Syria and, despite a show of dissent every now and then, very few want to participate.” [45]

    Second, we would have to discount the fact that the Daraa riot involved only hundreds of participants, hardly a mass uprising, and the protests that followed similarly failed to garner a critical mass, as Time’s Nicholas Blanford reported.[46] Similarly, the New York Times’ Anthony Shadid found no evidence that there was a popular upheaval in Syria, even more than a month after the Daraa riot.[47] What was going on, contrary to Washington-propagated rhetoric about the Arab Spring breaking out in Syria, was that jihadists were engaged in a campaign of guerilla warfare against Syrian security forces, and had, by October, taken the lives of more than a thousand police officers and soldiers.

    Third, we would have to close our eyes to the fact that the US government, with its British ally, had drawn up plans in 1956 to provoke a war in Syria by enlisting the Muslim Brotherhood to instigate internal uprisings. [48] The Daraa riot and subsequent armed clashes with police and soldiers resembled the plan which regime change specialist Kermit Roosevelt had prepared. That’s not to say that the CIA dusted off Roosevelt’s proposal and recycled it for use in 2011; only that the plot showed that Washington and London were capable of planning a destabilization operation involving a Muslim Brotherhood-led insurrection to bring about regime change in Syria.

    We would also have to ignore the events of February 1982, when the Muslim Brothers seized control of Hama, Syria’s fourth largest city. Hama was the epicenter of Sunni fundamentalism in Syria, and a major base of operations for the jihadist fighters. Galvanized by a false report that Assad had been overthrown, Muslim Brothers went on a gleeful blood-soaked rampage throughout the city, attacking police stations and murdering Ba’ath Party leaders and their families, along with government officials and soldiers. In some cases, victims were decapitated [49] a practice which would be resurrected decades later by Islamic State fighters. Every Ba’athist official in Hama was murdered. [50]

    The Hama events of 1982 are usually remembered in the West (if they’re remembered at all), not for the atrocities carried out by the Islamists, but for the Syrian army’s response, which, as would be expected of any army, involved the use of force to restore sovereign control over the territory seized by the insurrectionists. Thousands of troops were dispatched to take Hama back from the Muslim Brothers. Former US State Department official William R. Polk described the aftermath of the Syrian army assault on Hama as resembling that of the US assault on the Iraqi city of Fallujah in 2004, [51] (the difference, of course, being that the Syrian army was acting legitimately within its own sovereign territory while the US military was acting illegitimately as an occupying force to quell opposition to its occupation.) How many died in the Hama assault, however, remains a matter of dispute. The figures vary. “An early report in Time said that 1,000 were killed. Most observers estimated that 5,000 people died. Israeli sources and the Muslim Brotherhood”—sworn enemies of the secular Arab nationalists who therefore had an interest in exaggerating the casualty toll—“both charged that the death toll passed 20,000.” [52] Robert Dreyfus, who has written on the West’s collaboration with political Islam, argues that Western sources deliberately exaggerated the death toll in order to demonize the Ba’athists as ruthless killers, and that the Ba’athists went along with the deception in order to intimidate the Muslim Brotherhood. [53]

    As the Syrian army sorted through the rubble of Hama in the aftermath of the assault, evidence was found that foreign governments had provided Hama’s insurrectionists with money, arms, and communications equipment. Polk writes that:

    “Assad saw foreign troublemakers at work among his people. This, after all, was the emotional and political legacy of colonial rule—a legacy painfully evident in most of the post-colonial world, but one that is almost unnoticed in the Western world. And the legacy is not a myth. It is a reality that, often years after events occur, we can verify with official papers. Hafez al-Assad did not need to wait for leaks of documents: his intelligence services and international journalists turned up dozens of attempts by conservative, oil-rich Arab countries, the United States, and Israel to subvert his government. Most engaged in ‘dirty tricks,’ propaganda, or infusions of money, but it was noteworthy that in the 1982 Hama uprising, more than 15,000 foreign-supplied machine guns were captured, along with prisoners including Jordanian- and CIA-trained paramilitary forces (much like the jihadists who appear so much in media accounts of 2013 Syria). And what he saw in Syria was confirmed by what he learned about Western regime-changing elsewhere. He certainly knew of the CIA attempt to murder President Nasser of Egypt and the Anglo-American overthrow of the government of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh.” [54]

    In his book From Beirut to Jerusalem, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman wrote that “the Hama massacre could be understood as, ‘The natural reaction of a modernizing politician in a relatively new nation state trying to stave off retrogressive—in this case, Islamic fundamentalists—elements aiming to undermine everything he has achieved in the way of building Syria into a 20th century secular republic. That is also why,” continued Friedman, that “if someone had been able to take an objective opinion poll in Syria after the Hama massacre, Assad’s treatment of the rebellion probably would have won substantial approval, even among Sunni Muslims.” [55]

    The outbreak of a Sunni Islamist jihad against the Syrian government in the 1980s challenges the view that militant Sunni Islam in the Levant is an outcome of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq and the pro-Shi’a sectarian policies of the US occupation authorities. This view is historically myopic, blind to the decades-long existence of Sunni political Islam as a significant force in Levantine politics. From the moment Syria achieved formal independence from France after World War II, through the decades that followed in the 20th century, and into the next century, the main contending forces in Syria were secular Arab nationalism and political Islam. As journalist Patrick Cockburn wrote in 2016, “the Syrian armed opposition is dominated by Isis, al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham.” The “only alternative to (secular Arab nationalist) rule is the Islamists.” [56] This has long been the case.

    Finally, we would also have to ignore the fact that US strategists had planned since 2003, and possibly as early as 2001, to force Assad and his secular Arab nationalist ideology from power, and was funding the Syrian opposition, including Muslim Brotherhood-linked groups, from 2005. Accordingly, Washington had been driving toward the overthrow of the Assad government with the goal of de-Ba’athifying Syria. An Islamist-led guerilla struggle against Syria’s secular Arab nationalists would have unfolded, regardless of whether the Syrian government’s response at Daraa was excessive or not. The game was already in play, and a pretext was being sought. Daraa provided it. Thus, the idea that the arrest of two boys in Daraa for painting anti-government graffiti on a wall could provoke a major conflict is as believable as the notion that WWI was caused by nothing more than the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

    Socialist Syria

    Socialism can be defined in many ways, but if it is defined as public-ownership of the commanding heights of the economy accompanied by economic planning, then Syria under its 1973 and 2012 constitutions clearly meets the definition of socialism. However, the Syrian Arab Republic had never been a working-class socialist state, of the category Marxists would recognize. It was, instead, an Arab socialist state inspired by the goal of achieving Arab political independence and overcoming the legacy of the Arab nation’s underdevelopment. The framers of the constitution saw socialism as a means to achieve national liberation and economic development. “The march toward the establishment of a socialist order,” the 1973 constitution’s framers wrote, is a “fundamental necessity for mobilizing the potentialities of the Arab masses in their battle with Zionism and imperialism.” Marxist socialism concerned itself with the struggle between an exploiting owning class and exploited working class, while Arab socialism addressed the struggle between exploiting and exploited nations. While these two different socialisms operated at different levels of exploitation, the distinctions were of no moment for Westerns banks, corporations and major investors as they cast their gaze across the globe in pursuit of profit. Socialism was against the profit-making interests of US industrial and financial capital, whether it was aimed at ending the exploitation of the working class or overcoming the imperialist oppression of national groups.

    Ba’ath socialism had long irritated Washington. The Ba’athist state had exercised considerable influence over the Syrian economy, through ownership of enterprises, subsidies to privately-owned domestic firms, limits on foreign investment, and restrictions on imports. The Ba’athists regarded these measures as necessary economic tools of a post-colonial state trying to wrest its economic life from the grips of former colonial powers and to chart a course of development free from the domination of foreign interests.

    Washington’s goals, however, were obviously antithetical. It didn’t want Syria to nurture its industry and zealously guard its independence, but to serve the interests of the bankers and major investors who truly mattered in the United States, by opening Syrian labor to exploitation and Syria’s land and natural resources to foreign ownership. Our agenda, the Obama Administration had declared in 2015, “is focused on lowering tariffs on American products, breaking down barriers to our goods and services, and setting higher standards to level the playing field for American…firms.”[57] This was hardly a new agenda, but had been the agenda of US foreign policy for decades. Damascus wasn’t falling into line behind a Washington that insisted that it could and would “lead the global economy.”[58]

    Hardliners in Washington had considered Hafez al-Assad an Arab communist, [59] and US officials considered his son, Bashar, an ideologue who couldn’t bring himself to abandon the third pillar of the Ba’ath Arab Socialist Party’s program: socialism. The US State Department complained that Syria had “failed to join an increasingly interconnected global economy,” which is to say, had failed to turn over its state-owned enterprises to private investors, among them Wall Street financial interests. The US State Department also expressed dissatisfaction that “ideological reasons” had prevented Assad from liberalizing Syria’s economy, that “privatization of government enterprises was still not widespread,” and that the economy “remains highly controlled by the government.” [60] Clearly, Assad hadn’t learned what Washington had dubbed the “lessons of history,” namely, that “market economies, not command-and-control economies with the heavy hand of government, are the best.” [61] By drafting a constitution that mandated that the government maintain a role in guiding the economy on behalf of Syrian interests, and that the Syrian government would not make Syrians work for the interests of Western banks, corporations, and investors, Assad was asserting Syrian independence against Washington’s agenda of “opening markets and leveling the playing field for American….businesses abroad.” [62]

    On top of this, Assad underscored his allegiance to socialist values against what Washington had once called the “moral imperative” of “economic freedom,” [63] by writing social rights into the constitution: security against sickness, disability and old age; access to health care; and free education at all levels. These rights would continue to be placed beyond the easy reach of legislators and politicians who could sacrifice them on the altar of creating a low-tax, foreign-investment-friendly business climate. As a further affront against Washington’s pro-business orthodoxy, the constitution committed the state to progressive taxation.

    Finally, the Ba’athist leader included in his updated constitution a provision that had been introduced by his father in 1973, a step toward real, genuine democracy—a provision which decision-makers in Washington, with their myriad connections to the banking and corporate worlds, could hardly tolerate. The constitution would require that at minimum half the members of the People’s Assembly be drawn from the ranks of peasants and workers.

    If Assad was a neo-liberal, he certainly was one of the world’s oddest devotees of the ideology.

    Drought?

    A final point on the origins of the violent uprising in 2011: Some social scientists and analysts have drawn on a study published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences to suggest that “drought played a role in the Syrian unrest.” According to this view, drought “caused crop failures that led to the migration of as many as 1.5 million people from rural to urban areas.” This, in combination with an influx of refugees from Iraq, intensified competition for scarce jobs in urban areas, making Syria a cauldron of social and economic tension ready to boil over. [64] The argument sounds reasonable, even “scientific,” but the phenomenon it seeks to explain—mass upheaval in Syria—never happened. As we’ve seen, a review of Western press coverage found no reference to mass upheaval. On the contrary, reporters who expected to find a mass upheaval were surprised that they didn’t find one. Instead, Western journalists found Syria to be surprisingly quiet. Demonstrations called by organizers of the Syrian Revolution 2011 Facebook page fizzled. Critics conceded that Assad was popular. Reporters could find no one who believed a revolt was imminent. Even a month after the Daraa incident—which involved only hundreds of protesters, dwarfed by the tens of thousands of Syrians who demonstrated in Damascus in support of the government—the New York Times reporter on the ground, Anthony Shadid, could find no sign in Syria of the mass upheavals of Tunisia and Egypt. In early February 2011, “Omar Nashabe, a long-time Syria watcher and correspondent for the Beirut-based Arabic daily Al-Ahkbar” told Time that “Syrians may be afflicted by poverty that stalks 14% of its population combined with an estimated 20% unemployment rate, but Assad still has his credibility.” [65]

    That the government commanded popular support was affirmed when the British survey firm YouGov published a poll in late 2011 showing that 55 percent of Syrians wanted Assad to stay. The poll received almost no mention in the Western media, prompting the British journalist Jonathan Steele to ask: “Suppose a respectable opinion poll found that most Syrians are in favor of Bashar al-Assad remaining as president, would that not be major news?” Steele described the poll findings as “inconvenient facts” which were” suppressed “because Western media coverage of the events in Syria had ceased “to be fair” and had turned into “a propaganda weapon.”[66]

    Sloganeering in Lieu of Politics and Analysis

    Draitser can be faulted, not only for propagating an argument made by assertion, based on no evidence, but for substituting slogans for politics and analysis. In his October 20 Counterpunch article, Syria and the Left: Time to Break the Silence, he argues that the defining goals of Leftism ought to be the pursuit of peace and justice, as if these are two inseparable qualities, which are never in opposition. That peace and justice may, at times, be antithetical, is illustrated in the following conversation between Australian journalist Richard Carleton and Ghassan Kanafani, a Palestinian writer, novelist and revolutionary. [67]

    C: ‘Why won’t your organization engage in peace talks with the Israelis?’

    K: ‘You don’t mean exactly “peace talks”. You mean capitulation. Surrendering.

    C: ‘Why not just talk?’

    K: ‘Talk to whom?’

    C: ‘Talk to the Israeli leaders.’

    K: ‘That is kind of a conversation between the sword and the neck, you mean?’

    C: ‘Well, if there are no swords and no guns in the room, you could still talk.’

    K: ‘No. I have never seen any talk between a colonialist and a national liberation movement.’

    C: ‘But despite this, why not talk?’

    K: ‘Talk about what?’

    C: ‘Talk about the possibility of not fighting.’

    K: ‘Not fighting for what?’

    C: ‘No fighting at all. No matter what for.’

    K: ‘People usually fight for something. And they stop fighting for something. So you can’t even tell me why we should speak about what. Why should we talk about stopping to fight?’

    C: ‘Talk to stop fighting to stop the death and the misery, the destruction and the pain.’

    K: ‘The misery and the destruction the pain and the death of whom?’

    C: ‘Of Palestinians. Of Israelis. Of Arabs.’

    K: ‘Of the Palestinian people who are uprooted, thrown in the camps, living in starvation, killed for twenty years and forbidden to use even the name “Palestinians”?’

    C: ‘They are better that way than dead though.’

    K: ‘Maybe to you. But to us, it’s not. To us, to liberate our country, to have dignity, to have respect, to have our mere human rights is something as essential as life itself.

    To which values the US Left should devote itself when peace and justice are in conflict, Draitser doesn’t say. His invocation of the slogan “peace and justice” as the desired defining mission of the US Left seems to be nothing more than an invitation for Leftists to abandon politics in favor of embarking on a mission of becoming beautiful souls, above the sordid conflicts which plague humanity—never taking a side, except that of the angels. His assertion that “no state or group has the best interests of Syrians at heart” is almost too silly to warrant comment. How would he know? One can’t help but get the impression that he believes that he, and the US Left, alone among the groups and states of the world, know what’s best for the “Syrian people.” Which may be why he opines that the responsibility of the US Left, “is to the people of Syria,” as if the people of Syria are an undifferentiated mass with uniform interests and agendas. Syrians en masse include both secularists and political Islamists, who have irreconcilable views of how the state ought to be organized, who have been locked in a death feud for more than half a century—one helped along, on the Islamist side, by his own government. Syrians en masse include those who favor integration into the US Empire, and those who are against it; those who collaborate with US imperialists and those who refuse to. In this perspective, what does it mean, to say the US Left has a responsibility to the people of Syria? Which people of Syria?

    I would have thought that the responsibility of the US Left is to working people of the United States, not the people of Syria. And I would have imagined, as well, that the US Left would regard its responsibilities to include disseminating a rigorous, evidence-based political analysis of how the US economic elite uses the apparatus of the US state to advance its interests at the expense of both domestic and foreign populations. How does Washington’s long war on Syria affect the working people of America? That’s what Draitser ought to be talking about.

    My book Washington’s Long War on Syria is forthcoming April 2017.

    NOTES

    1 Aryn Baker, “Syria is not Egypt, but might it one day be Tunisia?,” Time, February 4, 2011

    2 Rania Abouzeid, “The Syrian style of repression: Thugs and lectures,” Time, February 27, 2011

    3 Rania Abouzeid, “Sitting pretty in Syria: Why few go backing Bashar,” Time, March 6, 2011

    4 Rania Abouzeid, “The youth of Syria: the rebels are on pause,” Time, March 6, 2011.

    5 Rania Abouzeid, “The youth of Syria: the rebels are on pause,” Time, March 6, 2011

    6 “Officers fire on crowd as Syrian protests grow,” The New York Times, March 20, 2011

    7 Nicholas Blanford, “Can the Syrian regime divide and conquer its opposition?,” Time, April 9, 2011

    8 Robert Fisk, “Welcome to Dera’a, Syria’s graveyard of terrorists,” The Independent, July 6. 2016

    9 President Assad to ARD TV: Terrorists breached cessation of hostilities agreement from the very first hour, Syrian Army refrained from retaliating,” SANA, March 1, 2016

    10 Ibid

    11 “Officers fire on crowd as Syrian protests grow,” The New York Times, March 20, 2011

    12 Rania Abouzeid, “Arab Spring: Is a revolution starting up in Syria?” Time, March 20, 2011; Rania Abouzeid, “Syria’s revolt: How graffiti stirred an uprising,” Time, March 22, 2011

    13 “Officers fire on crowd as Syrian protests grow,” The New York Times, March 20, 2011

    14 Rania Abouzeid, “Arab Spring: Is a revolution starting up in Syria?,” Time, March 20, 2011

    15 “Thousands march to protest Syria killings”, The New York Times, March 24, 2011

    16 Rania Abouzeid, “Assad and reform: Damned if he does, doomed if he doesn’t,” Time, April 22, 2011

    17 “Officers fire on crowd as Syrian protests grow,” The New York Times, March 20, 2011

    18 Aryn Baker, “Syria is not Egypt, but might it one day be Tunisia?,” Time, February 4, 2011

    19 Nicholas Blanford, “Can the Syrian regime divide and conquer its opposition?” Time, April 9, 2011.

    20 Alfred B. Prados and Jeremy M. Sharp, “Syria: Political Conditions and Relations with the United States After the Iraq War,” Congressional Research Service, February 28, 2005

    21 Rania Abouzeid, “Syria’s Friday of dignity becomes a day of death,” Time, March 25, 2011

    22 Rania Abouzeid, “Syria’s Friday of dignity becomes a day of death,” Time, March 25, 2011

    23 “Syrie: un autre eclarage du conflict qui dure depuis 5 ans, BeCuriousTV , » May 23, 2016, http://www.globalresearch.ca/syria-a...gering/5531157

    24 Nicholas Blanford, “Can the Syrian regime divide and conquer its opposition?” Time, April 9, 2011

    25 Jay Solomon, “To check Syria, U.S. explores bond with Muslim Brothers,” The Wall Street Journal, July 25, 2007

    26 Ibid

    27 Liad Porat, “The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood and the Asad Regime,” Crown Center for Middle East Studies, Brandeis University, December 2010, No. 47

    28 Ibid

    29 http://www.judicialwatch.org/wp-cont...-version11.pdf

    30 Alfred B. Prados and Jeremy M. Sharp, “Syria: Political Conditions and Relations with the United States After the Iraq War,” Congressional Research Service, February 28, 2005.

    31 Anthony Shadid, “Security forces kill dozens in uprisings around Syria”, The New York Times, April 22, 2011

    32 Rania Abouzeid, “Syria’s Friday of dignity becomes a day of death,” Time, March 25, 2011

    33 Fabrice Balanche, “The Alawi Community and the Syria Crisis Middle East Institute, May 14, 2015

    34 Anthony Shadid, “Syria broadens deadly crackdown on protesters”, The New York Times, May 8, 2011

    35 Rania Abouzeid, “Meet the Islamist militants fighting alongside Syria’s rebels,” Time, July 26, 2012

    36 Rania Abouzeid, “Interview with official of Jabhat al-Nusra, Syria’s Islamist militia group,” Time, Dec 25, 2015

    37 Robert Fisk, “Syrian civil war: West failed to factor in Bashar al-Assad’s Iranian backers as the conflict developed,” The Independent, March 13, 2016

    38 Anthony Shadid, “Syria broadens deadly crackdown on protesters”, The New York Times, May 8, 2011

    39 Nada Bakri, “Syria allows Red Cross officials to visit prison”, The New York Times, September 5, 2011

    40 Nada Bakri, “Syrian opposition calls for protection from crackdown”, The New York Times, October 25, 2011

    41 President al-Assad to Portuguese State TV: International system failed to accomplish its duty… Western officials have no desire to combat terrorism, SANA, March 5, 2015

    42 Patrick Seale, “Syria’s long war,” Middle East Online, September 26, 2012

    43 Ibid

    44 Rania Abouzeid, “Sitting pretty in Syria: Why few go backing Bashar,” Time, March 6, 2011

    45 Rania Abouzeid, “The youth of Syria: the rebels are on pause,” Time, March 6, 2011

    46 “Can the Syrian regime divide and conquer its opposition?” Time, April 9, 2011

    47 Anthony Shadid, “Security forces kill dozens in uprisings around Syria”, The New York Times, April 22, 2011

    48 Ben Fenton, “Macmillan backed Syria assassination plot,” The Guardian, September 27, 2003

    49 Robert Fisk, “Conspiracy of silence in the Arab world,” The Independent, February 9, 2007

    50 Robert Dreyfus, Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Fundamentalist Islam, Holt, 2005, p. 205

    51 William R. Polk, “Understanding Syria: From pre-civil war to post-Assad,” The Atlantic, December 10, 2013

    52 Dreyfus

    53 Dreyfus

    54 William R. Polk, “Understanding Syria: From pre-civil war to post-Assad,” The Atlantic, December 10, 2013

    55 Quoted in Nikolas Van Dam, The Struggle for Power in Syria: Politics and Society under Asad and the Ba’ath Party, I.B. Taurus, 2011

    56 Patrick Cockburn, “Confused about the US response to Isis in Syria? Look to the CIA’s relationship with Saudi Arabia,” The Independent, June 17, 2016

    57 National Security Strategy, February 2015

    58 Ibid

    59 Robert Baer, Sleeping with the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude, Three Rivers Press, 2003, p. 123

    60 US State Department website. http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/3580.htm#econ. Accessed February 8, 2012

    61 The National Security Strategy of the United States of America, September 2002

    62 National Security Strategy, February 2015

    63 The National Security Strategy of the United States of America, March 2006

    64 Henry Fountain, “Researchers link Syrian conflict to drought made worse by climate change,” The New York Times, March 2, 2015

    65 Aryn Baker, “Syria is not Egypt, but might it one day be Tunisia?,” Time, February 4, 2011

    66 Jonathan Steele, “Most Syrians back President Assad, but you’d never know from western media,” The Guardian, January 17, 2012

    67 “Full transcript: Classic video interview with Comrade Ghassan Kanafani re-surfaces,” PFLP, October 17, 2016, http://pflp.ps/english/2016/10/17/fu...i-re-surfaces/

    https://gowans.wordpress.com/2016/10...ia-that-wasnt/
    The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors”, and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment”. It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom — Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.

  2. #2
    Our Sieges and Theirs
    October 20, 2016

    The hypocritical Western heart beats for all except those the US Empire drowns in blood. [1]

    By Stephen Gowans

    “In Syria almost everybody is under siege to a greater or lesser degree,” observes the Independent’s Patrick Cockburn. [2] Most people, however, think the only siege in Syria is the one imposed on (East) Aleppo by Syrian and Russian forces. But siege as a form of warfare is hardly uniquely embraced by the Syrian Arab Army and Russian military. On the contrary, the United States and its allies have been practicing siege warfare in the Levant and beyond for years, and continue to do so. It’s just that US-led siege warfare has been concealed behind anodyne, even heroic, labels, while the siege warfare of countries Washington is hostile to, is abominated by Western state officials crying crocodile tears.

    Here’s how the deception works:

    Sieges of cities controlled by Islamic State, carried out by US forces and their allies, are called rescue operations, or campaigns to liberate or retake cities—never sieges. Other sieges—the ones carried out by Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, formerly Al Nusra, which, herein, I’ll call Al Qaeda for convenience—are ignored altogether (which might suggest something about the relationship of Al Qaeda’s Syria affiliate to the United States.) And a particularly injurious form of siege—economic sanctions — is presented as a separate category altogether and not siege warfare at all. But sanctions, imposed by rich countries, such as the United States and those of the European Union, on poor countries, such as Syria, are a modern form of siege, and have been called sanctions of mass destruction, in recognition of their devastating character.

    In the Levant, the sieges which are identified as such by Western state officials, and in train, by the Western mass media, are sieges of cities controlled by Al Qaeda, carried out by Syrian forces and their allies. These sieges—which cause hunger, kill civilians, and destroy buildings—are denounced in the West as ferocious attacks on innocents which amount to war crimes. “Russia’s bombardment backing the siege of Aleppo by Syrian government forces,” notes the Wall Street Journal, “has created a humanitarian crisis.” [3] A UN Security Council resolution—vetoed by Russia—has called for an end to Russian bombing of Aleppo. British foreign minister Boris Johnson has mused openly about war crimes indictments against Syria and Russia.
    Yet US campaigns to drive Islamic State out of Manbij, Kobani, Ramadi, Fallujah, Baiji and Tikrit, and now Mosul, have also caused hunger, killed civilians, and destroyed buildings. Unlike the Syrian military’s siege of East Aleppo, these campaigns have been celebrated as great and necessary military victories, but have, themselves, created vast humanitarian crises.

    Cockburn observes that the “recapture” of “cities like Ramadi, Fallujah, Baiji and Tikrit…would scarcely have happened without the coalition air umbrella overhead.” [4] That is, the cities liberated by Iraqi forces and their US patron were bombed into submission, even though civilians were trapped inside. Iraqi ground forces only moved in after these cities were left in ruins by coalition airstrikes and Iraqi artillery bombardment, as mopping up forces.

    Rania Khalek, writing in the Intercept, points out that “U.S.-backed ground forces laid siege to Manbij, a city in northern Syria not far from Aleppo that is home to tens of thousands of civilians. U.S. airstrikes pounded the city over the summer, killing up to 125 civilians in a single attack. The U.S. replicated this strategy to drive ISIS out of Kobane, Ramadi, and Fallujah, leaving behind flattened neighborhoods.” [5]
    To recover Ramadi from Islamic State, Iraqi forces surrounded and cordoned off the city. [6] In addition, the US led coalition bombarded Ramadi with airstrikes and artillery fire. [7] The bombardment left 70 percent of Ramadi’s buildings in ruins. The city was recovered, but “the great majority of its 400,000 people” were left homeless. [8]

    Iraqi forces also besieged the city of Fallujah, preventing most food, medicine and fuel from entering it. [9] Militias “prevented civilians from leaving Islamic State territory while resisting calls to allow humanitarian aid to reach the city.” [10] This was done “to strangle Islamic State” [11] with the result that civilians were also “strangled.” Inside the city, tens of thousands endured famine and sickness due to lack of medicine. [12] Civilians reportedly survived on grass and plants. [13] Many civilians “died under buildings that collapsed under” artillery bombardment and coalition air strikes. [14]

    The current campaign to recover Mosul is based on the same siege strategy US forces and their Iraqi client used to liberate Ramadi and Fallujah. US and allied warplanes have been bombarding the city for months. [15] Iraqi forces, aided by US Special Forces, are moving to cordon it off. “Some aid groups estimate that as many as a million people could be displaced by fighting to recapture the city, creating a daunting humanitarian task that the United Nations and other organizations say they are not yet ready to deal with.” [16]

    Writer and journalist Jonathan Cook commented on the utter hypocrisy of Westerners who condemn the Syrian/Russian campaign to liberate East Aleppo from Islamist fighters while celebrating the Iraqi/US campaign to do the same in Mosul. Targeting the British newspaper, the Guardian, beloved by progressives, Cook contrasted two reports which appeared in the newspaper to illustrate the Western heart beating for all except those the US Empire drowns in blood.

    Report one: The Guardian provides supportive coverage of the beginning of a full-throttle assault by Iraqi forces, backed by the US and UK, on Mosul to win it back from the jihadists of ISIS – an assault that will inevitably lead to massive casualties and humanitarian suffering among the civilian population.

    Report two: The Guardian provides supportive coverage of the US and UK for considering increased sanctions against Syria and Russia. On what grounds? Because Syrian forces, backed by Russia, have been waging a full-throttle assault on Aleppo to win it back from the jihadists of ISIS and Al-Qaeda – an assault that has led to massive casualties and humanitarian suffering among the civilian population. [17]

    Central to Western propaganda is the elision of the Islamist character of the Al Qaeda militants who tyrannize East Aleppo. This is accomplished by labeling them “rebels,” while the “rebels” who tyrannize the cities the United States and its allies besiege are called “Islamic State,” ISIL” or “ISIS” fighters. The aim is to conjure the impression that US-led sieges are directed at Islamic terrorists, and therefore are justifiable, despite the humanitarian crises they precipitate, while the Syrian-led campaign in East Aleppo is directed at rebels, presumably moderates, or secular democrats, and therefore is illegitimate. This is part of a broader US propaganda campaign to create two classes of Islamist militants—good Islamists, and bad ones.

    The first class, the good Islamists, comprises Al Qaeda and fighters cooperating with it, including US-backed groups, whose operations are limited to fighting secularists in Damascus, and therefore are useful to the US foreign policy goal of overthrowing Syria’s Arab nationalist government. These Islamist fighters are sanitized as “rebels.”

    The second class, the bad Islamists, comprises Islamic State. Islamic State has ambitions which make it far less acceptable to Washington as an instrument to be used in pursuit of US foreign policy goals. The organization’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, aspires to lead a caliphate which effaces the Sykes-Picot borders, and is therefore a threat, not only to the Arab nationalists in Damascus—an enemy the organization shares in common with Washington— but also to the US client states of Iraq and Saudi Arabia, which Islamic State attacks. The US objective in connection with Islamic State is to push the organization out of Iraq (and out of areas in Syria that can be brought under the control of US-backed fighters) and into the remainder of Syria, where they can wear down Arab nationalist forces.
    Syria’s “moderates”—the “rebels”—if there are any in the sense of secular pro-democrats, are few in number. Certainly, their ranks are so limited that arming them, in the view of US president Barack Obama, would make little difference. The US president told New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman that his administration had “difficulty finding, training and arming a sufficient cadre of secular Syrian rebels: ‘There’s not as much capacity as you would hope,’” Obama confessed. [18] Obama’s assessment was underscored when “a US general admitted that it had just four such ‘moderate’ fighters in Syria after spending $500 million on training them.” [19] Veteran Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk dismissed the idea of the “moderates” as little more than a fantasy. “I doubt if there are 700 active ‘moderate’ foot soldiers in Syria,” he wrote. And “I am being very generous, for the figure may be nearer 70.” [20]

    Elizabeth O’Bagy, who has made numerous trips to Syria to interview insurgent commanders for the Institute for the Study of War, told the New York Times’ Ben Hubbard that my “sense is that there are no seculars.” [21] Anti-government fighters interviewed by the Wall Street Journal found the Western concept of the secular Syrian rebel to be incomprehensible. [22]

    To be clear: Syrian and Russian forces are waging a campaign to liberate East Aleppo from Islamists, whose only difference from Islamic State is that they’re not a threat to the US client states, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. It’s “primarily al-Nusra who holds Aleppo,” US Department of Defense spokesperson Colonel Steve Warren said on April 25, referring to Al Qaeda. [23] Other militant Islamist organizations, including US-backed groups, are also in Aleppo, intertwined with, embedded with, sharing weapons with, cooperating with, and acting as auxiliaries of Al-Qaeda.

    Author and journalist Stephen Kinzer, writing in the Boston Globe, reminds us that:

    For three years, violent militants have run Aleppo. Their rule began with a wave of repression. They posted notices warning residents: “Don’t send your children to school. If you do, we will get the backpack and you will get the coffin.” Then they destroyed factories, hoping that unemployed workers would have no recourse other than to become fighters. They trucked looted machinery to Turkey and sold it. [24]

    The Invisible Sieges

    While sieges imposed by US-led forces are hidden by not calling them sieges, sieges imposed by Washington’s Al-Qaeda ally are simply ignored.

    “Only three years ago,” notes Fisk, the same Islamist fighters who are under siege today in East Aleppo, “were besieging the surrounded Syrian army western enclave of Aleppo and firing shells and mortars into the sector where hundreds of thousands of civilians lived under regime control.” [25] Fisk observes acidly that the “first siege didn’t elicit many tears from the satellite channel lads and lassies” while the “second siege comes with oceans of tears.” [26]

    To the ignored Al Qaeda-orchestrated siege of West Aleppo can be added “the untold story of the three-and-a-half-year siege of two small Shia Muslim villages in northern Syria,” Nubl and Zahra. Those sieges, carried out by Al-Qaeda against villages which remained loyal to Syria’s Arab nationalist government, left at least 500 civilians dead, 100 of them children, through famine and artillery bombardment. [27] The “world paid no heed to the suffering of these people,” preferring to remain “largely fixed on those civilians suffering under siege by (Syrian) government forces elsewhere.” [28]

    And then there’s the largely untold story of the 13 year-long siege imposed on a whole country, Syria, by the United States and European Union. That siege, initiated by Washington in 2003, with the Syria Accountability Act, and then followed by EU sanctions, blocks Western exports of almost all products to Syria and isolates the country financially. This massive, wide-scale siege plunged Syria’s economy into crisis even before the 2011 eruption of upheavals in the Arab world [29]—demonstrating that Washington’s efforts to force Syrian president Bashar al-Assad to step down began long before the Arab Spring. The roots of US hostility to Assad’s government are found in the danger of its becoming “a focus of Arab nationalistic struggle against an American regional presence and interests” [30] – another way of saying that the Arab nationalist goals of unity, independence and socialism, which guide the Syrian state, are an anathema to the US demand—expressed in the 2015 US National Security Strategy—that all countries fall in behind US global “leadership.”
    Under US siege warfare, unemployment shot up, factories closed, food prices skyrocketed and fuel prices doubled. [31] “Syrian officials” were forced “to stop providing education, health care and other essential services in some parts of the country.” [32] Indeed, so comprehensive was the siege, that by 2011 US “officials acknowledged that the country was already under so many sanctions that the United States held little leverage.” [33]

    Western siege warfare on Syria has blocked “access to blood safety equipment, medicines, medical devices, food, fuel, water pumps, spare parts for power plants, and more,” [34] leading Patrick Cockburn to compare the regime change campaign to “UN sanctions on Iraq between 1990 and 2003.” [35] The siege of Iraq—at a time when the country was led by secular Arab nationalists who troubled Washington as much, if not more, than the secular Arab nationalists in Syria vex Washington today—led to the deaths, though disease and hunger, of 500,000 children, according to the United Nations. Political scientists John Meuller and Karl Meuller called the siege a campaign of economic warfare amounting to “sanctions of mass destruction,” more devastating than all the weapons of mass destruction used in history. [36] When the West’s siege warfare on Arab nationalist Iraq ended in 2003 it was immediately resumed on Arab nationalist Syria, with the same devastating consequences.

    According to a leaked UN internal report, the “US and EU economic sanctions on Syria are causing huge suffering among ordinary Syrians and preventing the delivery of humanitarian aid.” [37] Cockburn notes that “Aid agencies cited in the report say they cannot procure basic medicines or medical equipment for hospitals because sanctions are preventing foreign commercial companies and banks having anything to do with Syria.” [38] “In effect” concludes the veteran British journalists, “the US and EU sanctions are imposing an economic siege on Syria as a whole which may be killing more Syrians than die of illness and malnutrition in the sieges which EU and US leaders have described as war crimes.” [39]

    Meanwhile, a U.S. Navy-backed blockade of Yemen’s ports [40]—in other words, a siege— has left much of the country, the poorest in the Arab world, “on the brink of famine.” [41] Last year, a United Nations expert estimated “that 850,000 children in the country of 26 million” faced “acute malnutrition” as a result of the US-backed siege. The blockade amounts to “the deliberate starvation of civilians,” the UN expert said, which constitutes a war crime. [42] “Twenty million Yemenis, nearly 80% of the population, are in urgent need of food, water and medical aid,” wrote British journalist Julian Borger last year. The siege, also backed by Britain, has created “a humanitarian disaster.” [43]

    That Washington protests so vehemently about the humanitarian consequences of Syria’s campaign to liberate East Aleppo from Al Qaeda, while US forces and their allies kill civilians through airstrikes, artillery bombardments and siege-related famine and disease in campaigns to capture territory from Islamic State, Yemen’s Houthi rebels, and Syria’s secular Arab nationalists, invites the obvious question: Why the double standard? Why does the Western heart beat for the civilians harmed in the campaign to liberate East Aleppo but not for the civilians harmed by Western campaigns to bring territory under the control of the United States and its proxies?

    The answer, in short, is that Al Qaeda is a US asset in Washington’s campaign to overthrow the Arab nationalists in Damascus, and therefore Washington objects to military operations which threaten its ally. On the other hand, Washington sparks one humanitarian crisis after another in pursuit of its foreign policy goal of coercing submission to its global leadership. Jabhat Fatah al-Sham’s value to Washington resides in its implacable opposition to the secularism of Syria’s ruling Arab nationalist Ba’ath Party, and its willingness to accept the Sykes-Picot boundaries drawn up by Britain and France after WWI. Thus, the Syrian al-Qaeda outfit limits its operations to working toward the overthrow of secularists in Damascus. Washington is unwilling to accept radical Islamists seizing control of the Syrian state, but is willing to work with Al-Qaeda to eliminate a common enemy.

    Washington plays a similar game with Islamic State, by calibrating its military campaign against the bad Islamists, in order to prevent them from threatening Iraq and Saudi Arabia while at the same time using them as a tool to weaken Syria’s Arab nationalist state. US airstrikes have been concentrated in Iraq, reports the Wall Street Journal. The air war focusses on Islamic State targets in Iraq, explains the newspaper, because “in Syria, U.S. strikes against the Islamic State would inadvertently help the regime of President Bashar al-Assad militarily.” [44] Likewise, France has “refrained from bombing the group in Syria for fear of bolstering” the Syrian government. [45] The British, too, have focused their air war overwhelmingly on Islamic State targets in Iraq, conducting less than 10 percent of their airstrikes on the Islamist organization’s positions in Syria. [46] The New York Times reports that “United States-led airstrikes in Syria … largely (focus) on areas far outside government control, to avoid … aiding a leader whose ouster President Obama has called for.” [47] Hence, US-coalition “airstrikes against the Islamic State in Syria” have been so limited as to make them “little more than a symbolic gesture.” [48] Fisk sums up the phony war against Islamic State in Syria with a sarcastic quip: “And so we went to war against Isis in Syria—unless, of course, Isis was attacking Assad’s regime, in which case we did nothing at all.” [49]

    Consistent with the US approach of employing Al Qaeda as a cat’s paw against Syria’s secular Arab nationalists, any military operation which sets back Al-Qaeda’s campaign to overthrow the Assad government is a blow against a US foreign policy objective. Those who implore the United States to join Russia in a coalition to destroy Islamist militancy in the Muslim world miss the point. Washington only abhors jihadists when they threaten the United States and its satellites; otherwise, the US state embraces militant Islam as a useful tool to be used against secular governments which refuse to submit to the international dictatorship of the United States.

    Owing to the harm they inevitably inflict on non-combatants, it is easy to condemn military campaigns to liberate cities occupied by enemy forces. But it is much more difficult to suggest a realistic alternative to using force to extirpate enemies from urban redoubts. Compromise and negotiation? For the United States, compromise means Arab nationalists stepping down and yielding power to US puppets—not compromise, but the fulfillment of US objectives. Washington isn’t interested in compromise. It has declared that it can and will lead the world, which means it is determined to set the rules. But even if there were a willingness in Washington for compromise, why should the United States have a role to play in deciding Syria’s political future? We can’t be true democrats, unless we fight for democracy in international relations. And we can’t have democracy in international relations if the United States and its allies intervene in other countries, enlisting jihadists to carry out their dirty work, in order to have a say in a political transition, once their mujahedeen allies have created a catastrophe.

    What’s more, even had Damascus and its Russian ally concluded that the humanitarian consequences of attempting to drive Al Qaeda out of East Aleppo were too daunting to warrant a siege campaign, the day of siege would only be delayed. Were Syria’s secular Arab nationalists to yield power under a US negotiated political settlement, the United States, acting through its new Syrian client, would arrange the siege of the city to crush its former Islamist allies, who could not be allowed to challenge the new US marionette in Damascus. Only this time, the siege would be called a rescue operation, the label “rebel” would be dropped in favor of “radical Islamist terrorist,” the ensuing humanitarian crisis would be duly noted then passed over with little comment, and hosannas would be sung to the US military leaders who slayed the Islamist dragon.

    On October 19, a Swiss journalist confronted Assad on civilian deaths in East Aleppo. “But it’s true that innocent civilians are dying in Aleppo,” the journalist said. Assad replied: “The “whole hysteria in the West about Aleppo (is) not because Aleppo is under siege…Aleppo has been under siege for the last four years by terrorists, and we (never) heard a question (from) Western journalists about what’s happening in Aleppo (then) and we (never) heard a single statement by Western officials regarding the children of Aleppo. Now they are asking about Aleppo…because the terrorists are in bad shape.” The Syrian Army is advancing “and the Western countries—mainly, the United States and its allies (the) UK and France” feel “they are losing the last cards of terrorism in Syria.” [50]

    My book Washington’s Long War on Syria is forthcoming April 2017.

    NOTES

    1 Adapted from Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham, 1897. “Our bishops scream to high heaven when the Armenians are violated by the Turks, but say nothing about the much worse crimes committed by their own countrymen. The hypocritical British heart beats for all except those their empire drowns in blood.”

    2 Patrick Cockburn, “The silent devastation of Daraya: Capture of suburb is a big step toward Assad winning the battle for Damascus,” The Independent, September 8, 2016

    3 Anton Troianovski and Amie Ferris-Rotman, “Germany hosts Putin and Poroshenko for Ukraine summit,” The Wall Street Journal, October 18, 2016.

    4 Patrick Cockburn, “Iraq’s ‘ramshackle’ Mosul offensive may see Isis defeated but it will expose deep divisions between the forces involved,” The Independent, October 18, 2016

    5 Rania Khalek, “US and EU sanctions are punishing ordinary Syrians and crippling aid work, UN report reveals,” The Intercept, September 28, 2016

    6 Helene Cooper, Eric Schmitt and Michael R. Gordon, “U.S. set to open a climactic battle against ISIS in Mosul, Iraq,” The New York Times, October 7, 2016

    7 Patrick Cockburn, “Air strikes on ISIS in Iraq and Syria are reducing their cities to ruins,” The Independent, May 27, 2016

    8 Ibid.

    9 Matt Bradley, “Iraqi blockade of occupied Fallujah takes toll on civilians,” The Wall Street Journal, January 31, 2016

    10 Tim Arango, “In effort to defeat ISIS, US and Iran impede one another,” New York Times, April 25, 2016

    11 Matt Bradley, “Iraqi blockade of occupied Fallujah takes toll on civilians,” The Wall Street Journal, January 31, 2016

    12 Tim Arango, “Iran-led push to retake Falluja from ISIS worries U.S.” The New York Times, May 28, 2016; Rania Khalek, “US and EU sanctions are punishing ordinary Syrians and crippling aid work, UN report reveals,” The Intercept, September 28, 2016

    13 Matt Bradley, “Iraqi blockade of occupied Fallujah takes toll on civilians,” The Wall Street Journal, January 31, 2016

    14 Tim Arango, “Iran-led push to retake Falluja from ISIS worries U.S.” The New York Times, May 28, 2016

    15 Helene Cooper, Eric Schmitt and Michael R. Gordon, “U.S. set to open a climactic battle against ISIS in Mosul, Iraq,” The New York Times, October 7, 2016; Missy Ryan, “Mosul offensive poses key test for U.S. strategy against Islamic State,” The Washington Post, October 14, 2016

    16 Helene Cooper, Eric Schmitt and Michael R. Gordon, “U.S. set to open a climactic battle against ISIS in Mosul, Iraq,” The New York Times, October 7, 2016

    17 Jonathan Cook, “Guardian front page channels Orwell’s 1984,” Jonathan Cook Blog, October 17, 2016

    18 Thomas L. Friedman, Obama on the world,” The New York Times, August 8, 2014

    19 Patrick Cockburn, “The West has been in denial over how to tackle the threat of Islamic State,” Evening Standard, November 19, 2015

    20 Robert Fisk, “David Cameron, there aren’t 70,000 moderate fighters in Syria—and whosever heard of a moderate with a Kalashnikov anyway?” The Independent, November 29, 2015

    21 Ben Hubbard, “Islamist rebels create dilemma on Syria policy”, The New York Times, April 27, 2013

    22 Nour Malas, “Islamists gain momentum in Syria”, The Wall Street Journal, February 27, 2013

    23 Sam Heller and Avi Asher-Schapiro, “’The regime can’t be trusted’: Inside Syria’s Aleppo as a shaky truce begins,” Vice, May 5, 2016

    24 Stephen Kinzer, “The media are misleading the public on Syria,” The Boston Globe, February 18, 2016

    25 Robert Fisk, “No, Aleppo is not the new Srebrenica—the West won’t go to war over Syria,” The Independent, August 4, 2016

    26 Ibid.

    27 Robert Fisk, “Syria civil war: The untold story of the siege of two small Shia villages – and how the world turned a blind eye,” The Independent, February 22, 2016

    28 Ibid.

    29 Nada Bakri, “Sanctions pose growing threat to Syria’s Assad”, The New York Times, October 10, 2011

    30 Moshe Ma’oz, Bruce Cumings, Ervand Abrahamian and Moshe Ma’oz, Inventing the Axis of Evil: The Truth about North Korea, Iran, and Syria, The New Press, 2004, p .207

    31 Nour Malas and Siobhan Gorman, “Syrian brass defect, bouying rebels”, The Wall Street Journal, March 9, 2012.

    32 Joby Warrick and Alice Fordham, “Syria running out of cash as sanctions take toll, but Assad avoids economic pain”, the Washington Post, April 24, 2012

    33 David E. Sanger, “U.S. faces a challenge in trying to punish Syria”, The New York Times, April 25, 2011

    34 Rania Khalek, “US and EU sanctions are punishing ordinary Syrians and crippling aid work, UN report reveals,” The Intercept, September 28, 2016

    35 Patrick Cockburn, “The silent devastation of Daraya: Capture of suburb is a big step toward Assad winning the battle for Damascus,” The Independent, September 8, 2016

    36 John Mueller and Karl Mueller, “Sanctions of mass destruction,” Foreign Affairs, May/June 1999

    37 Patrick Cockburn, “US and EU sanctions are ruining ordinary Syrians’ lives, yet Bashar al-Assad hangs on to power,” The Independent, October 7, 2016

    38 Ibid.

    39 Ibid.

    40 Maria Abi-Habin and Adam Entous, “U.S. widens role in Saudi-led campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen,” The Wall Street Journal, April 12, 2015

    41 Shuaib Almosawa and Ben Hubbard, “A roar at a funeral, and Yemen’s war is altered,” The New York Times, October 9, 2016

    42 Shuaib Almosawa, Kareem Fahim and Somini Sengupta, “Yemeni government faces choice between a truce and fighting on,” The New York Times, Aug 14, 2015

    43 Julian Borger, “Saudi-led naval blockade leaves 20m Yemenis facing humanitarian disaster,” The Guardian June 5, 2015

    44 Maria Abi-Habib, “Islamic State remains unchallenged from its sanctuary in Syria”, The Wall Street Journal, August 10, 2014

    45 Matthew Dalton, “Reports on Islamic state plans in Europe fueled French move to prepare Syria strikes, The Wall Street Journal, September 15, 2015

    46 Patrick Cockburn, “Government has no strategy, no plan and only ‘phantom’ allies in Syria, scathing Commons report reveals,” The Independent, September 22, 2016

    47 Anne Barnard and Hwaida Saad, “ISIS fighters seize control of Syrian city of Palmyra, and ancient ruins, “The New York Times, May 20, 2015

    48 Patrick Cockburn, “Chilcot report: Tony Blair, the Iraq war, and the words of mass destruction that continue to deceive,” The Independent, July 4, 2016

    49 Robert Fisk, “I read the Chilcot report as I travelled across Syria this week and saw for myself what Blair’s actions caused,” The Independent, July 7, 2016

    50 “President al-Assad to Swiss SRF 1 TV channel: Fighting terrorists is the way to protect civilians in Aleppo,” SANA, October 19, 2016

    https://gowans.wordpress.com/2016/10...es-and-theirs/
    The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors”, and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment”. It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom — Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.

  3. #3
    Our Sieges and Theirs
    October 20, 2016

    The hypocritical Western heart beats for all except those the US Empire drowns in blood. [1]

    By Stephen Gowans

    “In Syria almost everybody is under siege to a greater or lesser degree,” observes the Independent’s Patrick Cockburn. [2] Most people, however, think the only siege in Syria is the one imposed on (East) Aleppo by Syrian and Russian forces. But siege as a form of warfare is hardly uniquely embraced by the Syrian Arab Army and Russian military. On the contrary, the United States and its allies have been practicing siege warfare in the Levant and beyond for years, and continue to do so. It’s just that US-led siege warfare has been concealed behind anodyne, even heroic, labels, while the siege warfare of countries Washington is hostile to, is abominated by Western state officials crying crocodile tears.

    Here’s how the deception works:

    Sieges of cities controlled by Islamic State, carried out by US forces and their allies, are called rescue operations, or campaigns to liberate or retake cities—never sieges. Other sieges—the ones carried out by Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, formerly Al Nusra, which, herein, I’ll call Al Qaeda for convenience—are ignored altogether (which might suggest something about the relationship of Al Qaeda’s Syria affiliate to the United States.) And a particularly injurious form of siege—economic sanctions — is presented as a separate category altogether and not siege warfare at all. But sanctions, imposed by rich countries, such as the United States and those of the European Union, on poor countries, such as Syria, are a modern form of siege, and have been called sanctions of mass destruction, in recognition of their devastating character.

    In the Levant, the sieges which are identified as such by Western state officials, and in train, by the Western mass media, are sieges of cities controlled by Al Qaeda, carried out by Syrian forces and their allies. These sieges—which cause hunger, kill civilians, and destroy buildings—are denounced in the West as ferocious attacks on innocents which amount to war crimes. “Russia’s bombardment backing the siege of Aleppo by Syrian government forces,” notes the Wall Street Journal, “has created a humanitarian crisis.” [3] A UN Security Council resolution—vetoed by Russia—has called for an end to Russian bombing of Aleppo. British foreign minister Boris Johnson has mused openly about war crimes indictments against Syria and Russia.
    Yet US campaigns to drive Islamic State out of Manbij, Kobani, Ramadi, Fallujah, Baiji and Tikrit, and now Mosul, have also caused hunger, killed civilians, and destroyed buildings. Unlike the Syrian military’s siege of East Aleppo, these campaigns have been celebrated as great and necessary military victories, but have, themselves, created vast humanitarian crises.

    Cockburn observes that the “recapture” of “cities like Ramadi, Fallujah, Baiji and Tikrit…would scarcely have happened without the coalition air umbrella overhead.” [4] That is, the cities liberated by Iraqi forces and their US patron were bombed into submission, even though civilians were trapped inside. Iraqi ground forces only moved in after these cities were left in ruins by coalition airstrikes and Iraqi artillery bombardment, as mopping up forces.

    Rania Khalek, writing in the Intercept, points out that “U.S.-backed ground forces laid siege to Manbij, a city in northern Syria not far from Aleppo that is home to tens of thousands of civilians. U.S. airstrikes pounded the city over the summer, killing up to 125 civilians in a single attack. The U.S. replicated this strategy to drive ISIS out of Kobane, Ramadi, and Fallujah, leaving behind flattened neighborhoods.” [5]
    To recover Ramadi from Islamic State, Iraqi forces surrounded and cordoned off the city. [6] In addition, the US led coalition bombarded Ramadi with airstrikes and artillery fire. [7] The bombardment left 70 percent of Ramadi’s buildings in ruins. The city was recovered, but “the great majority of its 400,000 people” were left homeless. [8]

    Iraqi forces also besieged the city of Fallujah, preventing most food, medicine and fuel from entering it. [9] Militias “prevented civilians from leaving Islamic State territory while resisting calls to allow humanitarian aid to reach the city.” [10] This was done “to strangle Islamic State” [11] with the result that civilians were also “strangled.” Inside the city, tens of thousands endured famine and sickness due to lack of medicine. [12] Civilians reportedly survived on grass and plants. [13] Many civilians “died under buildings that collapsed under” artillery bombardment and coalition air strikes. [14]

    The current campaign to recover Mosul is based on the same siege strategy US forces and their Iraqi client used to liberate Ramadi and Fallujah. US and allied warplanes have been bombarding the city for months. [15] Iraqi forces, aided by US Special Forces, are moving to cordon it off. “Some aid groups estimate that as many as a million people could be displaced by fighting to recapture the city, creating a daunting humanitarian task that the United Nations and other organizations say they are not yet ready to deal with.” [16]

    Writer and journalist Jonathan Cook commented on the utter hypocrisy of Westerners who condemn the Syrian/Russian campaign to liberate East Aleppo from Islamist fighters while celebrating the Iraqi/US campaign to do the same in Mosul. Targeting the British newspaper, the Guardian, beloved by progressives, Cook contrasted two reports which appeared in the newspaper to illustrate the Western heart beating for all except those the US Empire drowns in blood.

    Report one: The Guardian provides supportive coverage of the beginning of a full-throttle assault by Iraqi forces, backed by the US and UK, on Mosul to win it back from the jihadists of ISIS – an assault that will inevitably lead to massive casualties and humanitarian suffering among the civilian population.

    Report two: The Guardian provides supportive coverage of the US and UK for considering increased sanctions against Syria and Russia. On what grounds? Because Syrian forces, backed by Russia, have been waging a full-throttle assault on Aleppo to win it back from the jihadists of ISIS and Al-Qaeda – an assault that has led to massive casualties and humanitarian suffering among the civilian population. [17]

    Central to Western propaganda is the elision of the Islamist character of the Al Qaeda militants who tyrannize East Aleppo. This is accomplished by labeling them “rebels,” while the “rebels” who tyrannize the cities the United States and its allies besiege are called “Islamic State,” ISIL” or “ISIS” fighters. The aim is to conjure the impression that US-led sieges are directed at Islamic terrorists, and therefore are justifiable, despite the humanitarian crises they precipitate, while the Syrian-led campaign in East Aleppo is directed at rebels, presumably moderates, or secular democrats, and therefore is illegitimate. This is part of a broader US propaganda campaign to create two classes of Islamist militants—good Islamists, and bad ones.

    The first class, the good Islamists, comprises Al Qaeda and fighters cooperating with it, including US-backed groups, whose operations are limited to fighting secularists in Damascus, and therefore are useful to the US foreign policy goal of overthrowing Syria’s Arab nationalist government. These Islamist fighters are sanitized as “rebels.”

    The second class, the bad Islamists, comprises Islamic State. Islamic State has ambitions which make it far less acceptable to Washington as an instrument to be used in pursuit of US foreign policy goals. The organization’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, aspires to lead a caliphate which effaces the Sykes-Picot borders, and is therefore a threat, not only to the Arab nationalists in Damascus—an enemy the organization shares in common with Washington— but also to the US client states of Iraq and Saudi Arabia, which Islamic State attacks. The US objective in connection with Islamic State is to push the organization out of Iraq (and out of areas in Syria that can be brought under the control of US-backed fighters) and into the remainder of Syria, where they can wear down Arab nationalist forces.
    Syria’s “moderates”—the “rebels”—if there are any in the sense of secular pro-democrats, are few in number. Certainly, their ranks are so limited that arming them, in the view of US president Barack Obama, would make little difference. The US president told New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman that his administration had “difficulty finding, training and arming a sufficient cadre of secular Syrian rebels: ‘There’s not as much capacity as you would hope,’” Obama confessed. [18] Obama’s assessment was underscored when “a US general admitted that it had just four such ‘moderate’ fighters in Syria after spending $500 million on training them.” [19] Veteran Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk dismissed the idea of the “moderates” as little more than a fantasy. “I doubt if there are 700 active ‘moderate’ foot soldiers in Syria,” he wrote. And “I am being very generous, for the figure may be nearer 70.” [20]

    Elizabeth O’Bagy, who has made numerous trips to Syria to interview insurgent commanders for the Institute for the Study of War, told the New York Times’ Ben Hubbard that my “sense is that there are no seculars.” [21] Anti-government fighters interviewed by the Wall Street Journal found the Western concept of the secular Syrian rebel to be incomprehensible. [22]

    To be clear: Syrian and Russian forces are waging a campaign to liberate East Aleppo from Islamists, whose only difference from Islamic State is that they’re not a threat to the US client states, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. It’s “primarily al-Nusra who holds Aleppo,” US Department of Defense spokesperson Colonel Steve Warren said on April 25, referring to Al Qaeda. [23] Other militant Islamist organizations, including US-backed groups, are also in Aleppo, intertwined with, embedded with, sharing weapons with, cooperating with, and acting as auxiliaries of Al-Qaeda.

    Author and journalist Stephen Kinzer, writing in the Boston Globe, reminds us that:

    For three years, violent militants have run Aleppo. Their rule began with a wave of repression. They posted notices warning residents: “Don’t send your children to school. If you do, we will get the backpack and you will get the coffin.” Then they destroyed factories, hoping that unemployed workers would have no recourse other than to become fighters. They trucked looted machinery to Turkey and sold it. [24]

    The Invisible Sieges

    While sieges imposed by US-led forces are hidden by not calling them sieges, sieges imposed by Washington’s Al-Qaeda ally are simply ignored.

    “Only three years ago,” notes Fisk, the same Islamist fighters who are under siege today in East Aleppo, “were besieging the surrounded Syrian army western enclave of Aleppo and firing shells and mortars into the sector where hundreds of thousands of civilians lived under regime control.” [25] Fisk observes acidly that the “first siege didn’t elicit many tears from the satellite channel lads and lassies” while the “second siege comes with oceans of tears.” [26]

    To the ignored Al Qaeda-orchestrated siege of West Aleppo can be added “the untold story of the three-and-a-half-year siege of two small Shia Muslim villages in northern Syria,” Nubl and Zahra. Those sieges, carried out by Al-Qaeda against villages which remained loyal to Syria’s Arab nationalist government, left at least 500 civilians dead, 100 of them children, through famine and artillery bombardment. [27] The “world paid no heed to the suffering of these people,” preferring to remain “largely fixed on those civilians suffering under siege by (Syrian) government forces elsewhere.” [28]

    And then there’s the largely untold story of the 13 year-long siege imposed on a whole country, Syria, by the United States and European Union. That siege, initiated by Washington in 2003, with the Syria Accountability Act, and then followed by EU sanctions, blocks Western exports of almost all products to Syria and isolates the country financially. This massive, wide-scale siege plunged Syria’s economy into crisis even before the 2011 eruption of upheavals in the Arab world [29]—demonstrating that Washington’s efforts to force Syrian president Bashar al-Assad to step down began long before the Arab Spring. The roots of US hostility to Assad’s government are found in the danger of its becoming “a focus of Arab nationalistic struggle against an American regional presence and interests” [30] – another way of saying that the Arab nationalist goals of unity, independence and socialism, which guide the Syrian state, are an anathema to the US demand—expressed in the 2015 US National Security Strategy—that all countries fall in behind US global “leadership.”
    Under US siege warfare, unemployment shot up, factories closed, food prices skyrocketed and fuel prices doubled. [31] “Syrian officials” were forced “to stop providing education, health care and other essential services in some parts of the country.” [32] Indeed, so comprehensive was the siege, that by 2011 US “officials acknowledged that the country was already under so many sanctions that the United States held little leverage.” [33]

    Western siege warfare on Syria has blocked “access to blood safety equipment, medicines, medical devices, food, fuel, water pumps, spare parts for power plants, and more,” [34] leading Patrick Cockburn to compare the regime change campaign to “UN sanctions on Iraq between 1990 and 2003.” [35] The siege of Iraq—at a time when the country was led by secular Arab nationalists who troubled Washington as much, if not more, than the secular Arab nationalists in Syria vex Washington today—led to the deaths, though disease and hunger, of 500,000 children, according to the United Nations. Political scientists John Meuller and Karl Meuller called the siege a campaign of economic warfare amounting to “sanctions of mass destruction,” more devastating than all the weapons of mass destruction used in history. [36] When the West’s siege warfare on Arab nationalist Iraq ended in 2003 it was immediately resumed on Arab nationalist Syria, with the same devastating consequences.

    According to a leaked UN internal report, the “US and EU economic sanctions on Syria are causing huge suffering among ordinary Syrians and preventing the delivery of humanitarian aid.” [37] Cockburn notes that “Aid agencies cited in the report say they cannot procure basic medicines or medical equipment for hospitals because sanctions are preventing foreign commercial companies and banks having anything to do with Syria.” [38] “In effect” concludes the veteran British journalists, “the US and EU sanctions are imposing an economic siege on Syria as a whole which may be killing more Syrians than die of illness and malnutrition in the sieges which EU and US leaders have described as war crimes.” [39]

    Meanwhile, a U.S. Navy-backed blockade of Yemen’s ports [40]—in other words, a siege— has left much of the country, the poorest in the Arab world, “on the brink of famine.” [41] Last year, a United Nations expert estimated “that 850,000 children in the country of 26 million” faced “acute malnutrition” as a result of the US-backed siege. The blockade amounts to “the deliberate starvation of civilians,” the UN expert said, which constitutes a war crime. [42] “Twenty million Yemenis, nearly 80% of the population, are in urgent need of food, water and medical aid,” wrote British journalist Julian Borger last year. The siege, also backed by Britain, has created “a humanitarian disaster.” [43]

    That Washington protests so vehemently about the humanitarian consequences of Syria’s campaign to liberate East Aleppo from Al Qaeda, while US forces and their allies kill civilians through airstrikes, artillery bombardments and siege-related famine and disease in campaigns to capture territory from Islamic State, Yemen’s Houthi rebels, and Syria’s secular Arab nationalists, invites the obvious question: Why the double standard? Why does the Western heart beat for the civilians harmed in the campaign to liberate East Aleppo but not for the civilians harmed by Western campaigns to bring territory under the control of the United States and its proxies?

    The answer, in short, is that Al Qaeda is a US asset in Washington’s campaign to overthrow the Arab nationalists in Damascus, and therefore Washington objects to military operations which threaten its ally. On the other hand, Washington sparks one humanitarian crisis after another in pursuit of its foreign policy goal of coercing submission to its global leadership. Jabhat Fatah al-Sham’s value to Washington resides in its implacable opposition to the secularism of Syria’s ruling Arab nationalist Ba’ath Party, and its willingness to accept the Sykes-Picot boundaries drawn up by Britain and France after WWI. Thus, the Syrian al-Qaeda outfit limits its operations to working toward the overthrow of secularists in Damascus. Washington is unwilling to accept radical Islamists seizing control of the Syrian state, but is willing to work with Al-Qaeda to eliminate a common enemy.

    Washington plays a similar game with Islamic State, by calibrating its military campaign against the bad Islamists, in order to prevent them from threatening Iraq and Saudi Arabia while at the same time using them as a tool to weaken Syria’s Arab nationalist state. US airstrikes have been concentrated in Iraq, reports the Wall Street Journal. The air war focusses on Islamic State targets in Iraq, explains the newspaper, because “in Syria, U.S. strikes against the Islamic State would inadvertently help the regime of President Bashar al-Assad militarily.” [44] Likewise, France has “refrained from bombing the group in Syria for fear of bolstering” the Syrian government. [45] The British, too, have focused their air war overwhelmingly on Islamic State targets in Iraq, conducting less than 10 percent of their airstrikes on the Islamist organization’s positions in Syria. [46] The New York Times reports that “United States-led airstrikes in Syria … largely (focus) on areas far outside government control, to avoid … aiding a leader whose ouster President Obama has called for.” [47] Hence, US-coalition “airstrikes against the Islamic State in Syria” have been so limited as to make them “little more than a symbolic gesture.” [48] Fisk sums up the phony war against Islamic State in Syria with a sarcastic quip: “And so we went to war against Isis in Syria—unless, of course, Isis was attacking Assad’s regime, in which case we did nothing at all.” [49]

    Consistent with the US approach of employing Al Qaeda as a cat’s paw against Syria’s secular Arab nationalists, any military operation which sets back Al-Qaeda’s campaign to overthrow the Assad government is a blow against a US foreign policy objective. Those who implore the United States to join Russia in a coalition to destroy Islamist militancy in the Muslim world miss the point. Washington only abhors jihadists when they threaten the United States and its satellites; otherwise, the US state embraces militant Islam as a useful tool to be used against secular governments which refuse to submit to the international dictatorship of the United States.

    Owing to the harm they inevitably inflict on non-combatants, it is easy to condemn military campaigns to liberate cities occupied by enemy forces. But it is much more difficult to suggest a realistic alternative to using force to extirpate enemies from urban redoubts. Compromise and negotiation? For the United States, compromise means Arab nationalists stepping down and yielding power to US puppets—not compromise, but the fulfillment of US objectives. Washington isn’t interested in compromise. It has declared that it can and will lead the world, which means it is determined to set the rules. But even if there were a willingness in Washington for compromise, why should the United States have a role to play in deciding Syria’s political future? We can’t be true democrats, unless we fight for democracy in international relations. And we can’t have democracy in international relations if the United States and its allies intervene in other countries, enlisting jihadists to carry out their dirty work, in order to have a say in a political transition, once their mujahedeen allies have created a catastrophe.

    What’s more, even had Damascus and its Russian ally concluded that the humanitarian consequences of attempting to drive Al Qaeda out of East Aleppo were too daunting to warrant a siege campaign, the day of siege would only be delayed. Were Syria’s secular Arab nationalists to yield power under a US negotiated political settlement, the United States, acting through its new Syrian client, would arrange the siege of the city to crush its former Islamist allies, who could not be allowed to challenge the new US marionette in Damascus. Only this time, the siege would be called a rescue operation, the label “rebel” would be dropped in favor of “radical Islamist terrorist,” the ensuing humanitarian crisis would be duly noted then passed over with little comment, and hosannas would be sung to the US military leaders who slayed the Islamist dragon.

    On October 19, a Swiss journalist confronted Assad on civilian deaths in East Aleppo. “But it’s true that innocent civilians are dying in Aleppo,” the journalist said. Assad replied: “The “whole hysteria in the West about Aleppo (is) not because Aleppo is under siege…Aleppo has been under siege for the last four years by terrorists, and we (never) heard a question (from) Western journalists about what’s happening in Aleppo (then) and we (never) heard a single statement by Western officials regarding the children of Aleppo. Now they are asking about Aleppo…because the terrorists are in bad shape.” The Syrian Army is advancing “and the Western countries—mainly, the United States and its allies (the) UK and France” feel “they are losing the last cards of terrorism in Syria.” [50]

    My book Washington’s Long War on Syria is forthcoming April 2017.

    NOTES

    1 Adapted from Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham, 1897. “Our bishops scream to high heaven when the Armenians are violated by the Turks, but say nothing about the much worse crimes committed by their own countrymen. The hypocritical British heart beats for all except those their empire drowns in blood.”

    2 Patrick Cockburn, “The silent devastation of Daraya: Capture of suburb is a big step toward Assad winning the battle for Damascus,” The Independent, September 8, 2016

    3 Anton Troianovski and Amie Ferris-Rotman, “Germany hosts Putin and Poroshenko for Ukraine summit,” The Wall Street Journal, October 18, 2016.

    4 Patrick Cockburn, “Iraq’s ‘ramshackle’ Mosul offensive may see Isis defeated but it will expose deep divisions between the forces involved,” The Independent, October 18, 2016

    5 Rania Khalek, “US and EU sanctions are punishing ordinary Syrians and crippling aid work, UN report reveals,” The Intercept, September 28, 2016

    6 Helene Cooper, Eric Schmitt and Michael R. Gordon, “U.S. set to open a climactic battle against ISIS in Mosul, Iraq,” The New York Times, October 7, 2016

    7 Patrick Cockburn, “Air strikes on ISIS in Iraq and Syria are reducing their cities to ruins,” The Independent, May 27, 2016

    8 Ibid.

    9 Matt Bradley, “Iraqi blockade of occupied Fallujah takes toll on civilians,” The Wall Street Journal, January 31, 2016

    10 Tim Arango, “In effort to defeat ISIS, US and Iran impede one another,” New York Times, April 25, 2016

    11 Matt Bradley, “Iraqi blockade of occupied Fallujah takes toll on civilians,” The Wall Street Journal, January 31, 2016

    12 Tim Arango, “Iran-led push to retake Falluja from ISIS worries U.S.” The New York Times, May 28, 2016; Rania Khalek, “US and EU sanctions are punishing ordinary Syrians and crippling aid work, UN report reveals,” The Intercept, September 28, 2016

    13 Matt Bradley, “Iraqi blockade of occupied Fallujah takes toll on civilians,” The Wall Street Journal, January 31, 2016

    14 Tim Arango, “Iran-led push to retake Falluja from ISIS worries U.S.” The New York Times, May 28, 2016

    15 Helene Cooper, Eric Schmitt and Michael R. Gordon, “U.S. set to open a climactic battle against ISIS in Mosul, Iraq,” The New York Times, October 7, 2016; Missy Ryan, “Mosul offensive poses key test for U.S. strategy against Islamic State,” The Washington Post, October 14, 2016

    16 Helene Cooper, Eric Schmitt and Michael R. Gordon, “U.S. set to open a climactic battle against ISIS in Mosul, Iraq,” The New York Times, October 7, 2016

    17 Jonathan Cook, “Guardian front page channels Orwell’s 1984,” Jonathan Cook Blog, October 17, 2016

    18 Thomas L. Friedman, Obama on the world,” The New York Times, August 8, 2014

    19 Patrick Cockburn, “The West has been in denial over how to tackle the threat of Islamic State,” Evening Standard, November 19, 2015

    20 Robert Fisk, “David Cameron, there aren’t 70,000 moderate fighters in Syria—and whosever heard of a moderate with a Kalashnikov anyway?” The Independent, November 29, 2015

    21 Ben Hubbard, “Islamist rebels create dilemma on Syria policy”, The New York Times, April 27, 2013

    22 Nour Malas, “Islamists gain momentum in Syria”, The Wall Street Journal, February 27, 2013

    23 Sam Heller and Avi Asher-Schapiro, “’The regime can’t be trusted’: Inside Syria’s Aleppo as a shaky truce begins,” Vice, May 5, 2016

    24 Stephen Kinzer, “The media are misleading the public on Syria,” The Boston Globe, February 18, 2016

    25 Robert Fisk, “No, Aleppo is not the new Srebrenica—the West won’t go to war over Syria,” The Independent, August 4, 2016

    26 Ibid.

    27 Robert Fisk, “Syria civil war: The untold story of the siege of two small Shia villages – and how the world turned a blind eye,” The Independent, February 22, 2016

    28 Ibid.

    29 Nada Bakri, “Sanctions pose growing threat to Syria’s Assad”, The New York Times, October 10, 2011

    30 Moshe Ma’oz, Bruce Cumings, Ervand Abrahamian and Moshe Ma’oz, Inventing the Axis of Evil: The Truth about North Korea, Iran, and Syria, The New Press, 2004, p .207

    31 Nour Malas and Siobhan Gorman, “Syrian brass defect, bouying rebels”, The Wall Street Journal, March 9, 2012.

    32 Joby Warrick and Alice Fordham, “Syria running out of cash as sanctions take toll, but Assad avoids economic pain”, the Washington Post, April 24, 2012

    33 David E. Sanger, “U.S. faces a challenge in trying to punish Syria”, The New York Times, April 25, 2011

    34 Rania Khalek, “US and EU sanctions are punishing ordinary Syrians and crippling aid work, UN report reveals,” The Intercept, September 28, 2016

    35 Patrick Cockburn, “The silent devastation of Daraya: Capture of suburb is a big step toward Assad winning the battle for Damascus,” The Independent, September 8, 2016

    36 John Mueller and Karl Mueller, “Sanctions of mass destruction,” Foreign Affairs, May/June 1999

    37 Patrick Cockburn, “US and EU sanctions are ruining ordinary Syrians’ lives, yet Bashar al-Assad hangs on to power,” The Independent, October 7, 2016

    38 Ibid.

    39 Ibid.

    40 Maria Abi-Habin and Adam Entous, “U.S. widens role in Saudi-led campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen,” The Wall Street Journal, April 12, 2015

    41 Shuaib Almosawa and Ben Hubbard, “A roar at a funeral, and Yemen’s war is altered,” The New York Times, October 9, 2016

    42 Shuaib Almosawa, Kareem Fahim and Somini Sengupta, “Yemeni government faces choice between a truce and fighting on,” The New York Times, Aug 14, 2015

    43 Julian Borger, “Saudi-led naval blockade leaves 20m Yemenis facing humanitarian disaster,” The Guardian June 5, 2015

    44 Maria Abi-Habib, “Islamic State remains unchallenged from its sanctuary in Syria”, The Wall Street Journal, August 10, 2014

    45 Matthew Dalton, “Reports on Islamic state plans in Europe fueled French move to prepare Syria strikes, The Wall Street Journal, September 15, 2015

    46 Patrick Cockburn, “Government has no strategy, no plan and only ‘phantom’ allies in Syria, scathing Commons report reveals,” The Independent, September 22, 2016

    47 Anne Barnard and Hwaida Saad, “ISIS fighters seize control of Syrian city of Palmyra, and ancient ruins, “The New York Times, May 20, 2015

    48 Patrick Cockburn, “Chilcot report: Tony Blair, the Iraq war, and the words of mass destruction that continue to deceive,” The Independent, July 4, 2016

    49 Robert Fisk, “I read the Chilcot report as I travelled across Syria this week and saw for myself what Blair’s actions caused,” The Independent, July 7, 2016

    50 “President al-Assad to Swiss SRF 1 TV channel: Fighting terrorists is the way to protect civilians in Aleppo,” SANA, October 19, 2016

    https://gowans.wordpress.com/2016/10...es-and-theirs/
    The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors”, and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment”. It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom — Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.

  4. #4
    ‘Unlike Western mainstream media, I’ve spent the last three days in East Aleppo’
    Published time: 15 Dec, 2016 13:48

    ‘Unlike Western mainstream media, I’ve spent the last three days in East Aleppo’
    Residents in a liberated district in eastern Aleppo. © Mikhail Alaeddin / Sputnik

    Western media and propaganda have supported the incarceration, torture, abuse and horror that these civilians had had to go through says journalist Vanessa Beeley. Columnist Brent Budowsky and Daniel McAdams of the Ron Paul Institute join the debate.

    Syria unrest

    After liberating eastern Aleppo, government troops are making advances against terrorists that still control several districts of the Syrian city.

    In response, the militants have again been targeting civilian areas of western Aleppo.

    Meanwhile, the mainstream media continue to blame President Assad and Russia for the civilian suffering.

    The grim picture of Aleppo's liberation painted in the mainstream media has prompted crowds to protesters on the streets of European cities. People gathered in the German city of Hamburg as well as Paris calling to stop the slaughter of people in Aleppo.

    Also, the lights of the Eiffel Tower have been turned off in solidarity with the civilians of Aleppo.

    RT spoke to independent researcher and journalist Vanessa Beeley, the executive director of the Ron Paul Institute Daniel McAdams and columnist for 'The Hill' Brent Budowsky and heard some very different opinions on the Syrian conflict.

    Tonight at 8pm I will turn my lights off to show the support of Paris to the inhabitants of the city Alep in Syria.

    RT: Why so much hysteria in the media? Why is no one talking about defeating terrorists - who are Al-Nusra, the Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria?

    Brent Budowsky, columnist for the Hill: Nobody wants to kill and defeat the terrorists more than I do and more than the US, but what is happening in Aleppo is a moral crime against humanity. I agree with what Secretary of State John Kerry said that the Russian government should do everything to stop it, to end it, to support a ceasefire, to end the carnage, the killing and the bombing of innocent civilians. The UN is concerned about it. And I agree with their investigation into possible war crimes. I agree with what the pictures tell us. The bombing of civilians and the massacre of the innocents must stop. My strong advice to President Putin would be to follow John Kerry’s advice and end that carnage and killing right now. So should Assad, so should the Syrian army. It is a joke to treat them as liberators; they are mass-murdering civilians…

    RT: Vanessa, what is your reaction to this political view of the events? As a journalist, how do you feel about that?

    Vanessa Beeley, journalist: I’ve just returned from three days in East Aleppo, and I would like to 100 percent correct the lies that are being disseminated by the media, think tanks, governments across the West. Particularly your guest who has just uttered complete lies. I’ve spent basically three days in all the various liberated areas of East Aleppo… Many of the testimonies that we received from the civilians that this gentleman has just accused Russia and Syria of bombing, actually told us that they had been incarcerated for the last four years by the various US-backed terrorist militant groups such as Al-Nusra Front, Ahrar al-Sham, Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki whom we know beheaded the 12-year old Palestinian child. We were told stories about civilians who were trying to leave this imprisonment when the Russian and Syrian governments opened the humanitarian corridors. I interviewed one lady, I have her on film, where she tells me that one woman, who had been kept in a condition of starvation and malnutrition by these militant factions – who were stockpiling any humanitarian aid that came in and either selling it at extortionate prices. When this lady went on her knees to beg for food, she was shot in the mouth by the militant factions that have been imprisoning these civilians for the last four and a half years. Your [American] media and propaganda have supported that incarceration, torture, abuse and absolute horror that these civilians had had to go through.

    RT: The spokesperson of the US State Department said he hasn't seen the videos of people celebrating on Aleppo’s streets. He's in a senior position; he must know what he's talking about, doesn't he?

    Brent Budowsky: We can witness day by day dead babies by dead babies. You can watch the CNN, the BBC, any other television station. The point is – the killing, the bombings of civilians must stop. The dead children and babies is a moral outrage against humanity.

    ‘When camera gone they leave people under rubble’ – Aleppo residents on Western-backed White Helmets

    Vanessa Beeley: Can I ask one question? Where are these sources being able to transmit this information from? Because in East Aleppo there is no 3G, there is no wi-fi, there is no electricity. So I’d like to know how these sources are able to get this information via Skype connection to organizations – I’ll use that term loosely – like CNN, BBC, Channel 4. I would very much like to know how they achieve it and how there’re able to do that in East Aleppo. Unlike the corporate mainstream media, I have been in East Aleppo for the last three days, therefore, I’m giving you eyewitness testimony unlike your mainstream media that has not been there and relies upon spurious activists – like the White Helmets, who are funded by every single nation that has a vested and declared interest in regime change in Syria. That is your reliable source. Or perhaps the ‘Aleppo Media Center’ – French Foreign Office funded…

    Daniel McAdams, executive director at Ron Paul Institute: This is a good example of what is wrong with the mainstream media. You have a mainstream media source like this Brent Budowsky who goes on television telling us: “You’ve got to believe the US government.” This is the same media that lie through its teeth about Iraq; that lied through its teeth about Benghazi, about the slaughters that were not happening there. There are no foreign media sources in East Aleppo right now. They are not on the ground. They are all using information that they are getting through rebel sources. That is the truth. So, Budowsky, what you are doing right now is you are putting out fake news. And you know it because there are no sources on the ground. You’re saying, ‘Just believe the US government.’ You’re supposed to be in the media! You’re supposed to be doing independent work…

    Go back to 2005 in a document from the US Embassy in Damascus was sent back to Washington outlining exactly how to destabilize and overthrow the Syria government, which is exactly the roadmap they took. Who was really responsible for the carnage in Syria? It is the interventionists in the West and their enablers in the mainstream media that push a regime change policy that destroys countries like Iraq, like Syria, like Libya, like Afghanistan, and so on. They are the real perpetrators of this crime.

    https://www.rt.com/op-edge/370401-sy...po-msm-russia/
    The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors”, and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment”. It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom — Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.

  5. #5
    Syrian Elections 2016: US, NATO Criminals, Liars & Hypocrites’ Failed Attempt to Deny the Will of the Syrian People
    APRIL 14, 2016 BY VANESSA BEELEY


    “We declare our right on this earth…to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary.” ~ Malcolm X

    Yesterday Parliamentary elections were held in Syria. 7000 polling booths were opened across the country. 11, 341 candidates were proposed from across Syria with 250 to be elected to Parliament, including a number of female candidates.

    Candidates were spread out as follows: 988 in Damascus, 817 in Damascus countryside, Aleppo 1437, in Aleppo regions 1048, In Idleb 386, in Homs 1800, Hama 700, Lattakia 1653, Tartous 634, Deir Ezzor 311, Hasaka 546, Raqqa 197, Daraa 321, Sweida 263 and in Quneitra 240

    Voting centres opened at 7.30 am and were obliged to extend their sessions by five hours to accommodate the high turn out of voters.
    women

    Some of the women candidates in Syrian Parliamentary elections.

    “The voting centers include over 2,000 centers in Damascus, 17 in Deir Ezzor, 1,047 in Lattakia, 661 in Homs, 347 in Sweida, 741 in Hama, 368 in Hasaka, 816 in Tartous, and 347 in Sweida are receiving voters.

    It should be noted that voting centers were opened in Damascus, Damascus Countryside, Hama, Lattakia, Aleppo, Tartous, Hasaka, and Deir Ezzor to receive voters staying in these provinces who are originally from other areas, namely the provinces of Idleb, Raqqa, Aleppo, Deir Ezzor, and Daraa.” ~ SANA

    So contrary to spurious claims from western governments and media, efforts were made to open the voting to all Syrian civilians including those who have fled terrorists held areas. We must also bear in mind that over 90% of IDPs [Internally displaced persons] have fled to Government controlled areas, thus further discrediting claims that these elections are non representative.
    For a full photo report on the Syrian elections: Peoples Assembly Elections 2016

    On an equally positive note, of course ignored in the western and gulf media, 1.7 million of these internally displaced refugees have been able to return home thanks not only to the SAA [Syrian Arab Army] liberation of whole swathes of Syrian villages and towns from US NATO terrorist occupation but also due to the Syrian Governments laudable efforts to rebuild and restore infrastructure in these areas.
    Small government loans are being given to impoverished families to enable them to re-establish their lives torn apart by the illegal war of aggression that has been waged against Syria by the US, NATO, GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] and Israel for the last five years.

    It is guaranteed that none of these initiatives will be reported in the mainstream media, including the Syrian Higher Committee for Relief’s efforts to facilitate the delivery of Humanitarian aid to the remaining terrorist held civilian areas in Syria.

    As Professor Tim Anderson [who is in Syria to observe the elections as indeed he was in 2014] said:

    “Syrian democracy needs no outside approval. Repeated outside demands that ‘Assad must go’, or that a Washington-approved executive ‘transition government’ be formed, have become meaningless, since the military tide turned in the embattled country’s favour.”

    The Syrian elections proceeded according to the Syrian constitution and law. We see this being enforced in Aleppo for example where it was decided that violations of the voting process had taken place and a re-election was called for.

    UNSC [Security Council] resolution 2254 stated clearly that Syria’s future is in the hands of the Syrians and the Syrians are proving that they are doing just that with little fuss but a lot of enthusiasm and determination to deny foreign intervention in their sovereign affairs.

    The Syrian “Dictator” goes to Vote

    Now lets have a look at the President that western governments and their media minions would have us believe to be a bloodthirsty, butchering dictator as he and his wife Asma head for the polling booths with no security in sight.


    Compare this if you will, to the protests being held across Britain demanding that David Cameron aka “Dodgy Dave” resign over the Panama papers scandal, the subsequent police clamp down and the manhandling of protestors.

    Perhaps even more laughable in the face of the UK Government’s own deteriorating human rights record at home and abroad, is their statement on the Syrian elections:

    Britain said Damascus’ decision to go ahead with the elections in the war-torn nation, where hundreds of thousands cannot take part, shows “how divorced (the government) is from reality.”

    With homelessness and child poverty reaching Victorian levels in Britain, legal cases pending for criminal arms sales to the genocidal Saudi coalition conducting wholesale slaughter of Yemeni civilians, and recent reports on the British government clandestine assassination programmes, one would be justified in saying the British government has not only divorced itself from reality but from Humanity in every feasible way.

    “Reprieve highlights the fact that Britain conspired in a US-inspired Kill List soon after 9/11. It says quite categorically that “Starting in 2002, working closely with the Americans, Britain had played a leading role in the euphemistic Joint Prioritized Effective List. As with Yemen, the JPEL Kill List was not even limited to a war zone – it spanned over into Pakistan, which was an ally, not an enemy at war.”

    What this effectively means is that not only has Britain brought back the death penalty it has done so without public or parliamentary consultation, and carried out these deadly deeds regularly without even a basic trial.” ~ Britain’s Secret Assassination Programme

    France takes the hippocritic oath.

    France has also hit the deck with cries of illegitimacy regarding the Syrian elections.

    “The idea that there could be elections is not just provocative but totally unrealistic. It would be proof that there are no negotiations or discussions [in Geneva].”~ Francois Hollande

    Legion of Honour

    This statement comes from the man who crossed an executioners palm with silver to secure a multi billion dollar arms deal with Qatar.

    In this photo Hollande is presenting France’s most prestigious award, the Legion D’Honneur to Saudi interior minister, Muhammed Bin Nayef. Bin Nayef is personally responsible for choosing who of the many prisoners in Saudi jails is eligible for execution or crucifixion without trial and usually on trumped up charges.

    So one is once more justified to ask, which leg is Hollande standing on when he denigrates Syrian elections while commending one of the world’s most renowned terrorists on his efforts to combat…terrorism.

    The award for hypocrisy goes to..

    US State Department spokesperson Mark Toner said that the US “would view those elections as not legitimate in the sense that they don’t represent… the will of the Syrian people.

    “So, to hold parliamentary elections now, given the current circumstances, given the current conditions in the country, we believe is at best premature and not representative of the Syrian people,” Toner said.
    Early last week Toner said that “a political process that reflects the desires and will of the Syrian people is what should ultimately decide the future leadership and the future government of Syria.” ~ RT
    Here is the response of the Syrian people to Mr Toner’s comments:

    Mohammed Ali of Press TV reports from Damascus

    Conclusions

    As I said in yesterday’s exchange of messages with ex Ambassador to Syria and alleged death squad creator, Robert Ford:

    “History is repeating itself a little too often Mr Ford, be very careful that you don’t bring your own house of cards down around your ears..Syria is denying your agenda time and time again and I can appreciate your Governments frustration but mistakes are being made and your propaganda apparatus is coming apart at the seams due largely to the integrity and unity of the Syrian people.

    The day the US or any NATO member can say it had to extend the voting because such huge numbers turned out, is the day you can lecture me about “regimes”. The day your own Government is finally sanctioned and prosecuted as a war criminal for its policy of overtly or covertly butchering the peoples of sovereign nations is the day you can criticise any other duly elected world government.”

    The US, NATO, GCC and Israeli agenda has careered into the brick wall of Syrian resistance, integrity and unity. The will of the Syrian people is being listened to by the Syrian government.

    Ideologically and spiritually the Syrian people believe in their political and military victory. The Syrian people have said “no” time and time again to foreign intervention. They have endured crippling economic sanctions, invasions by proxy terrorist armies, occupation by mass murderers funded and armed by the US and NATO alliance but their resilience will ensure their self determination against all odds.

    To achieve their objectives in Syria, the US and NATO are reliant upon mercenaries, terrorists, rapists and felons who have no vested interest in victory other than lining their own pockets with drugs and oil revenue.

    The US and NATO agenda in Syria has no basis in law or even sound ideology, it is based upon pure greed and power sustained by corruption and inhumanity. It shall fail and Syria will emerge unbowed, stronger and ultimately victorious. The Syrian people have redrawn the geopolitical road map with strength of will alone. This is the will you should be respecting Mr Toner, no other.

    “The Syrian people are engaged in a war that has been going on for five years, through which terrorism managed to shed innocent blood and destroy much infrastructure, but it failed in achieving the primary goal it was assigned, which is destroying the principle structure in Syria, meaning the social structure of the national identity.” ~ President Bashar al Assad.

    http://21stcenturywire.com/2016/04/1...syrian-people/
    The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors”, and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment”. It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom — Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.

  6. #6
    U.S./UK Paid "White Helmets" Help Blocking Water To 5 Million Thirsty Syrians

    The blockade of water from Wadi Barada to 5 million people in Damascus is taking an interesting turn. The U.S. and UK financed White Helmet organization seems to be directly involved in it. This increases the suspicion that the illegal blockade of water to civilians in Damascus is part of a organized campaign under U.S. command. The campaign is designed to block utilities to government held areas as revenge for the liberation of east Aleppo.

    As we described it yesterday:

    After the eastern part of the city of Aleppo was liberated by Syrian government forces, the local rebels and inhabitants in the Barada river valley were willing to reconcile with the Syrian government. But the al-Qaeda Takfiris disagreed and took over. The area is since under full al-Qaeda control and thereby outside of the recent ceasefire agreement.
    On December 22 the water supply to Damascus was suddenly contaminated with diesel fuel and no longer consumable. A day later Syrian government forces started an operation to regain the area and to reconstitute the water supplies.

    Photos and a video on social media (since inaccessible but I saw them when they appeared) showed the water treatment facility rigged with explosives. On Dec 27th the facility was blown up and partly destroyed.

    The Syrian government is ready to send repair teams to rehabilitate the water flow to the millions of civilians in Damascus. But access to the site is denied and the Syrian army is now trying to push al-Qaeda and its allies away from it.

    Curiously some "civil" groups today offered access under several (not agreeable) conditions:

    Hassan Ridha @sayed_ridha - 2:10 AM - 3 Jan 2017
    Wadi Barada statement: we will let teams to fix water spring if SAA-Hezb stop attack, siege lift & monitor ceasefire by intl observers
    [attachment]

    EHSANI2 @EHSANI22 - 6:43 AM - 3 Jan 2017
    Offer by opposition to trade access to water source for #Damascus with halting of military operations by army
    [attachment]

    Here is the attachment to both tweets. Note who signed it:


    Check the logos of the undersigning organizations You will probably recognize the middle one in the second row. Here it is magnified.


    And here is the original of that logo taken directly from the website of the Syrian Civil Defense organization aka The White Helmets:



    The organizations who make an offer to lift the water blockade of Damascus obviously think they have the power to do so. They then must also be held responsible for keeping the blockade up. They must also have intimate relations with the al-Qaeda fighters who currently occupy the damaged water facilities.

    The U.S. and UK government created and paid White Helmets are "impartially", "neutrally" and "for all Syrians" blocking the water supply to 5 million Syrians in Damascus. U.S. military and CIA officers run the "operations rooms" in Jordan and Turkey that direct the insurgency.

    This increases suspicion that the blockade is part of an organized response by the enemies of Syria to the recent liberation of east-Aleppo. As noted yesterday:

    This shut down is part of a wider, seemingly coordinated strategy to deprive all government held areas of utility supplies. Two days ago the Islamic State shut down a major water intake for Aleppo from the Euphrates. High voltage electricity masts of lines feeding Damascus have been destroyed and repair teams, unlike before, denied access. Gas supplies to parts of Damascus are also cut.
    Even after 14 days of water crisis in Damascus the "western" media are not reporting about the al-Qaeda blockade of water for 5 million Syrians. We can be sure that not a word will be written by them about this illegal hostages taking of millions of civilians in Damascus by their favorite propaganda organization White Helmets.

    http://www.moonofalabama.org/2017/01...y-syrians.html
    The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors”, and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment”. It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom — Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.

  7. #7
    Al-Qaeda Cut Leaves 5 Million Thirsty In Damascus - Western Media Unconcerned

    There is a humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Syria and the "western" media ignore it.

    On December 22 al-Qaeda aligned Takfiris in the Wadi Barada valley shut down the main water supply for the Syrian capital Damascus. Since then the city and some 5-6 million living in and around it have to survive on emergency water distributions by the Syrian government. That is barely enough for people to drink - no washing, no showers and no water dependent production is possible.

    This shut down is part of a wider, seemingly coordinated strategy to deprive all government held areas of utility supplies. Two days ago the Islamic State shut down a major water intake for Aleppo from the Euphrates. High voltage electricity masts on lines feeding Damascus have been destroyed and repair teams, unlike before, denied access. Gas supplies to parts of Damascus are also cut. A similar tactic was used by the Zionist terrorists of the Haganah who in 1947/48 poisoned and blew up the water mains and oil pipelines to Palestinian Haifa.

    Wadi Barada is a river valley some 10 miles west of Damascus at the mountain range between Lebanon and Syria. It has been in the hands of local insurgents since 2012. The area was since loosely surrounded by Syrian government forces and their allies from Hizbullah.



    bigger

    Two springs in the area provide the water for Damascus which is treated locally and then pumped through pipelines into the city's distribution network. Since the early 1990s there is a low level conflict over the water diversion of the Barada river valley to the ever growing Damascus. The drought over the last years has intensified the problems. Local agriculture of the water rich valley had to cut back for lack of water as this was pumped into the city. But many families from the valley moved themselves into the city or have relatives living there.

    The local rebels had kept the water running for the city. Al-Qaeda aligned groups have been in the area for some time. A propaganda video distributed by them and taken in the area showed (pic) the choreographed mass execution of Syrian government soldiers.

    After the eastern part of the city of Aleppo was liberated by Syrian government forces, the local rebels and inhabitants in the Barada river valley were willing to reconcile with the Syrian government. But the al-Qaeda Takfiris disagreed and took over. The area is since under full al-Qaeda control and thereby outside of the recent ceasefire agreement.

    On December 22 the water supply to Damascus was suddenly contaminated with diesel fuel and no longer consumable. A day later Syrian government forces started an operation to regain the area and to reconstitute the water supplies.

    Photos and a video on social media (since inaccessible but I saw them when they appeared) showed the water treatment facility rigged with explosives. On Dec 27th the facility was blown up and partly destroyed.

    Suddenly new organized "civil" media operations of, allegedly, locals in the area spread misinformation to "western" media. "There are 100,000 civilians under siege in Wadi Barada!" In reality the whole area once had, according to the last peacetime census, some 20,000 inhabitants. The White Helmets propaganda organization now also claims to be in the area. "The government had bombed the water treatment facility," the propaganda groups claimed.

    That is a. not plausible and b. inconsistent with the pictures of the destroyed facility. These show a collapse of the main support booms of the roof but no shrapnel impact at all. A bomb breaking through the roof and exploding would surely have left pocket marks all over the place. The damage, in my judgement, occurred from well designed, controlled explosions inside the facility.

    Some insurgents posted pictures of themselves proudly standing within the destroyed facility and making victory signs.


    source bigger

    There is more such cheer-leading by insurgents on social media. Why when they claim that the government bombed the place?

    On December 29 the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs issued an alarm about the water crisis:

    The United Nations is alarmed that four million inhabitants in Damascus and surrounding areas have been cut off from the main water supply since 22 December. Two primary sources of drinking water- Wadi Barada and Ain-el-Fijah-which provide clean and safe water for 70 percent of the population in and around Damascus are not functioning, due to deliberate targeting resulting in the damaged infrastructure.
    One of the two springs, Al-Feejeh, has now been retaken by the Syrian army. 1,300 civilians from Ain AlFeejeh, the nearby town with the treatment facility, have fled to the government held areas and were taken in by the Syrian Red Cross. The other spring and the treatment facility are still in Takfiri hands. The government has said that it will need some ten days to repair the system after the Syrian army has gained control of the facilities. That will still take some time.

    Western media have hardly taken notice of the water crisis in Damascus and their coverage seems to actively avoid it. A search for Barada on the Washington Post website brings up one original piece from December 30 about the freshly negotiated ceasefire. The 6th paragraph says:

    Airstrikes pounded opposition-held villages and towns in the strategically-important Barada Valley outside Damascus, activists said, prompting rebels to threaten to withdraw their compliance with a nationwide truce brokered by Russia and Turkey last week.
    Then follow 16 paragraphs on other issues. Only at the very end of the piece comes this (mis-)information:

    The Barada Valley is the primary source of water for the capital and its surrounding region. The government assault has coincided with a severe water shortage in Damascus since Dec. 22. Images from the valley’s Media Center indicate its Ain al-Fijeh spring and water processing facility have been destroyed in airstrikes. The government says rebels spoiled the water source with diesel fuel, forcing it to cut supplies to the capital.
    On December 29 a piece by main WaPo anti-Syria propagandist Liz Sly did not mention the water crisis or the Barada valley at all.

    The New York Times links a Reuters pieces about the UN alarm about the water crisis. But I find nothing in its own reporting that even mentions the water crisis. One piece on December 31 refers shortly to attacks on Wadi Baradi by government forces at its very end.

    A Guardian search for Barada only comes up with a piece from today mixed from agency reports. The headlines say "Hundreds of Syrians flee as Assad's forces bomb Barada valley rebels". The piece itself says that they flee to the government side. In it the Syrian Observatory (MI-6) operation in Britain confirms that al-Qaeda rules the area which "Civil society organisations on the ground" deny. Only the very last of the 12 paragraph piece mentions the capital:

    The Barada valley is the primary source of water for the capital and its surrounding region. The government assault has coincided with a severe water shortage in Damascus since 22 December. The government says rebels spoiled the water source with diesel fuel, forcing it to cut supplies to the capital.
    Surely a few people "fleeing" (to the government side) "as Assad's forces bombs" are way more important than 5 million people in Damascus without access to water. That the treatment facility is destroyed seems also unimportant.

    All the above papers have been extremely concerned about every scratch to any propaganda pimp who had claimed to be in then rebel held east-Aleppo. They now show no concern at all for 5 million Syrians in Damascus who have been without water for 10 days and will likely be so for the rest of the month.

    http://www.moonofalabama.org/2017/01...ned-.html#more
    The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors”, and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment”. It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom — Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.

  8. #8
    Sabotage Of East-Aleppo Evacuation Is Part Of A Plan

    Update (Dec 19, 0:00 EST):

    The culprits of the bus burning were "rebels" from Ahrar al-Sham and Jund al Aqsa. Both are favorites of the CIA and Turkey and in Idleb governate aligned with and under the military command of al-Qaeda.
    After Turkey put heavy pressure on the groups it somewhat controls the evacuation deal is, for now, back on. The first exchange bus run occurrs right now. I expect a new sabotage attempt to jeopardize the deal.
    Turkish media claim that Shia inhabitants of Fu'a and Kafraya burned the buses or that it is unknown who did it. Video and pictures proudly posted by the Takfiris themselves show that these radical Sunnis did it.
    End-Update - original post follows:

    The removal of defeated al-Qaeda fighters and their families from east-Aleppo has been on and off for several days now.

    The agreement between Turkey and Russia on which the evacuation is based stipulates the parallel evacuation of wounded people from the al-Qaeda besieged Shiite village Fu'a and Kafraya in Idleb province. Note that neither the U.S. nor the (partisan) UN were involved in these negotiations.

    The process was interrupted on Friday after al-Qaeda fighters in east-Aleppo opened fire on evacuating civilians. In parallel buses moving into Fu'a and Kafraya to evacuate the wounded were held up by al-Qaeda aligned groups in the area. Opposition claims that Hizbullah fighters was killing people that were evacuating from east-Aleppo were, according to a BBC producer, lies.

    The agreement and evacuations were put on again and proceeded this morning after some new negotiations with unknown additional terms. The movements were to take place in strict parallel. Any move out of east-Aleppo on the government provided public buses would only happen at the very same moment that the wounded would move out of Fu'a and Kafraya on similar buses.

    Today's evacuations were again sabotaged by al-Qaeda forces:

    Several buses en route to evacuate the sick and injured from two government-held villages in Syria's Idlib province have been burned by rebels.
    The convoy was travelling to Foah and Kefraya, besieged by rebel fighters.

    Pro-government forces are demanding people be allowed to leave the mainly Shia villages in order for the evacuation of east Aleppo to restart.

    Thousands of people are waiting to leave in desperate conditions, reports say.

    Al-Qaeda gangs themselves provided video of the bus burning. The bus drivers were likely murdered which pretty much guarantees that no further buses will come or go.

    I doubt that this is a solely al-Qaeda induced incident. It seems to me that the certain U.S. forces (aka the CIA) are trying to prolong the removal of al-Qaeda from east-Aleppo for their own purpose.

    Just yesterday even the Washington Post (again) reported on the years long collusion between the CIA and al-Qaeda in Syria:

    The CIA meanwhile continued to push a program that targeted Russia and its Syrian and Iranian allies — and helped shield Jabhat al-Nusra.
    There are several "western" groups that want to keep the evacuation stalled to continue their anti-Syrian, anti-Russian and anti-Iran agenda.

    The U.S. administration is miffed that it was kept out of the recent negotiations. It wants to demonstrate that any negotiations without its participation will not have any positive result.

    The hundreds of "last video from Aleppo" of "Bana" and other propaganda creatures claiming to be there look like a highly coordinated Information Warfare campaign. The "Stand with Aleppo" campaign in the U.S. was started and is propelled by a Democratic party operative who is also CEO of a public relations company and "strategic affairs consultant" in Chicago, Becky Carroll. Its aim is to escalated the situation in Syria.

    Meanwhile members of the Syrian opposition, or rather their "western" controllers in the CIA, are now emphasizing Iran, not Russia, as alleged spoiler in Syria. They claim, without any evidence, that Iran or its operatives held up the evacuations. This is part of a plan to preempt announced Trump policies of negotiating an end of the Syria conflict.

    The French president Hollande, despised by his people and with an approval rating between 4 and 6%, is calling for another UN Security Council vote over east-Aleppo. Such a vote, demanding UN observers for the evacuation, is intended to hold it up. Observers would need days to be in place and would lack any reasonable protection. Hollande also wants to provide food to the non-existing "civilians" in east-Aleppo while Reuters provides video showing that al-Qaeda and allies in east-Aleppo have horded enough food for years. The idea behind the UNSC resolution is to let it fail and to then go to the UN General Assembly which, under the right pressure, might allow a war by any nation against Syria.

    Earlier Hollande ordered the lights at the Eiffel tower to be turned off to mourn the liberation of Aleppo from Takfiris and to make it look like the flag of his defeated al-Qaeda friends. His sponsors in Qatar and Saudi Arabia will reward his principled stand.

    With the burning of the buses the evacuation agreement is dead and unlikely to be revived.

    The Syrian army should tell al-Qaeda in Aleppo that there will be no longer be any ceasefire. It must make clear that they will now either be interned or killed. The final fighting should be over in a day or two. Meanwhile as much air support as possible should be provided to the defenders at Fu'a and Kafraya.

    The Russian military learned the hard way in Grozny that any ceasefire or pause you give to a mostly defeated enemy only helps the enemy and will, in the end, cost more lives on both sides.

    Putin and Lavrov have fallen for various negotiation scams with the U.S. that were designed to only hold back attacks on al-Qaeda and allies so that those forces could reorganize and resupply for renewed attacks on government held areas. Kerry's promises to separate "moderates" from al-Qaeda in Syria was repeated over months until he finally claimed that the groups were too "marbled" to be taken apart. U.S. military attacks on Syrian government forces were launched to sabotage any agreement. Similar deceiving delaying tactics are now evident with the negotiated evacuation of east-Aleppo.

    Meanwhile the next al-Qaeda stronghold to be attacked by government forces in the governate and city of Idleb can be prepared for defense. With the Syrian army and its allies still busy in Aleppo new arms supplies can arrive in Idleb and new formations can be organized. The British government even sends more troops to train "moderate" al-Qaeda allies.

    It is time to end such sorry play. Clean up Aleppo already. Hollande, Samantha Power and other stooges will howl anyway - no matter how the final scene is done.

    http://www.moonofalabama.org/2016/12....html#comments
    The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors”, and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment”. It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom — Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.

  9. #9
    ALEPPO: ‘Local Activists’ or Al Qaeda Rogue’s Gallery?
    JANUARY 4, 2017
    Paul Mansfield

    The “activists” were out in full force during the last days of the final liberation of Aleppo, decrying what they saw as the fall of the city and transmitting their “last” messages as they awaited death or abduction by the “evil Assad regime” forces. They made quite an impact in social media and some were picked up for 15 minutes of fame in the regime-change-shilling Western media. Meanwhile foreign independent and Syrian journalists continue to present a narrative which is anathema to the mainstream, hence their exclusion from any coverage.

    Lina Shamy has been a real hit on regime-change-cheerleading media such as Al Jazeera. She solemnly tells us people are living through an Assad genocide, many having lain under the rubble of bombed Aleppo buildings, with what she calls the civil defence, or more accurately, the ‘White Helmets’, unable to rescue them. Incidentally, the White Helmets are not the real Syrian Civil Defence. They have been set up as a shadow state institution, colonizing and subverting the provision of emergency response in this war-torn country.

    There is a real Syrian Civil Defence, naturally enough performing under the mandate of the legitimate, internationally recognised Syrian government. It comes as no surprise then that it is the certified civil fire and rescue organisation according to the International Civil Defence Organisation (ICDO). Shamy is quite careless with her interpretation of who the civil defence is, and the carelessness doesn’t end there.
    Shamy, interviewed on Al Jazeera, said she had to flee her house in Aleppo with nothing but her clothes. Yet those hanging on her every video report will be pleased to know she still managed to bring her electronic devices, so she can continue to tell the world about the genocide being committed by the regime. How fortuitous is that.

    Shamy is one of the sources of the accusations that Syrian soldiers and militias walked the streets of Aleppo, executing entire families and burning 60 people to death hiding in a basement. She claimed if the Syrian soldiers think there is the remotest connection to the rebel groups they will execute civilians. She is a rather vague source however, not having witnessed any of this herself.

    She is in actual fact a secondary source, recounting what “activists” have said about alleged atrocities. Once the reality behind the horrific headlines is unpacked however, the credibility of the accusations starts to crumble away. It is difficult to know if the allegations are true or if they are plucked from thin air. Thankfully she can rely on propagandist bullhorns such as Al Jazeera to promote her claims.

    Shamy is famous, along with other activists, for posting her “last video.” It all seems very well coordinated in a chaotic war environment. If it was conceived and coordinated from public relations operatives from abroad we could understand how slick and attention grabbing the “last this, last that” theme is. But I am sure we are not as cynical as to believe we are being duped, are we?

    If Shamy’s allegations of widespread executions are true, we may be entitled to question how she, as an activist in the so-called firing line, managed to leave Aleppo unscathed. Her fans must be grateful that she is now in Idlib, tweeting that the “flag of the revolution is fluttering high. ” Undoubtedly she is honing her media performances to tell us of future Assad “atrocities” in Idlib.


    Follow
    Lina shamy @Linashamy
    The demonstrations in #Idleb city today 30 of December 2016
    and the flag of the revolution is fluttering high <3#SyrianRevolution #Syria
    9:33 AM - 30 Dec 2016
    1,128 1,128 Retweets 1,369 1,369 likes

    Bilal Abdul Kareem is another ‘activist’ who has been advocating for direct western intervention in Syria since at least 2013, while simultaneously opposing attacking Islamist groups. In other words, wage war on the people of Syria and give ISIS and Al-Nusra a free pass. This scenario could only lead to another Libya, with ISIS and al-Qaeda struggling for control of the country and its gas and oil reserves. Speaking to Channel 4 News just after the Ghouta chemical attack on 21 August 2013 Kareem said, “There needs to be more dialog with these Islamic fighters because what they’re fighting for and what the west actually wants, really isn’t so incompatible. And I’ve said this before.” When asked about why radical Islamists should be supported he responded with the glib, “I don’t think there’s anything radical about wanting to save lives.” He said the west would find a ‘compatible partner” in the Islamist fighters.

    Kareem, in an interview in 2015, gave a platform for former Al-Nusra spokesman Abu Firas to justify the forceful imposition of an Islamic state on secular Syria and the bloodshed necessary to achieve this goal. He also interviewed Abdullah Muhaysini, the Saudi Jihadist ideologue who says all able-bodied Sunni Muslims are obliged to travel to Syria to wage Jihad. He says Syrians today are standing strong against the Shia coming at them from more than ten countries, obliging Sunni from abroad to fight for their Sunni brothers. Apparently he’s fine with the idea of Muslims killing Muslims. He calls the Alawites enemies who also must be wiped out. Muhaysini claims to be an independent sharia scholar, but is believed to be a senior Al-Nusra (now Jabhat Fatah al-Sham) leader. He was added to the US government’s list of designated terrorists in November 2016.

    Terrorist supporter and darling of Western media, Bilal Abdul Kareem

    Kareem also got on the “last video” bandwagon saying, “This might be close to, if not the last communication.” He clearly saw this as the fall, not the liberation of Aleppo, and was determined to spread a gloomy perspective that has not been shared by thousands of Syrians relieved and thankful to be liberated in East Aleppo.

    Political analyst Andrew Korybko points out how this “shadowy figure” who has been “actively spinning the Orwellian narrative that the ‘rebellious locals’ are under ‘deadly oppression’ by the SAA” has been touted and feted by the mainstream media as an “independent journalist” who can provide reliable, on-the-ground information. With his Islamist leanings, it is more accurate to say Kareem is “infamously contributing to the epidemic of fake news,” while fakerstan media such as CNN and Al Jazeera are infamously promoting the cause of violent jihadism in Syria.

    In contrast, Korybko points out that the work of the outstanding independent journalist, Vanessa Beeley, who has been on the ground in Aleppo conducting interviews, taking videos, providing photographic evidence of the large scale humanitarian operation and the feelings of relief and joy among liberated Syrians, is ignored by the western mainstream media. When you actually give the people of Syria an unfiltered voice not shaped and redefined through the ministry of truth you become persona non grata in fakerstan medialand.

    Bana Alabed, the seven-year-old girl who has become a Twitter sensation and until recently lived in East Aleppo, always seemed to be able to tweet in Wifi-less Aleppo. But if you have an account you could tweet from anywhere. Bana accumulated followers at a staggering pace at the same time the Syrian army and its allies were repelling counteroffensives by the opposition and preparing for the final push to liberate Aleppo.

    Her tweets were faithfully retweeted by the Syrian opposition and figures from the mainstream Western media, and she even gained a fan in J. K. Rowling, who sent a Harry Potter book – in English of course – to the little girl who can only recite rote-learned short sentences in English. Whoever is writing the tweets, it is clearly not Bana (it’s probably her mother, who can be seen whispering answers to her in post-liberation interviews). This child is clearly a prop being used to cynically manipulate us to believe in Russian and Syrian war crimes and that the “civilised” world must urgently intervene to stop the murderous rampage.

    Bana constantly tweeted about her house being bombed, of the terror she and the family feel, that the Syrian army will target them because of the tweeting, that death could be imminent, of nearby bombings killing numerous civilians, and appealed for help to western leaders including Barack Obama to rescue them from the clearly evil regime deliberately targeting her and other innocent children.

    There is an overwhelming and pervasive emotional tugging at the heart strings here, with the dual message that the “regime” is bombing and killing civilians and, you, the western public must demand your leaders intervene to save them. The no-fly zone is already pre-destined as the form of intervention, so this is what “Bana” is really asking for. Very sophisticated for a 7-year-old girl.

    In reality this is an extremely cynical use of an innocent child to promote a now failed regime change project. A project that has cost thousands of lives, forced people to flee their homes, and in some cases their country, has left Syria in ruins and a people heartbroken. Heartbroken; but resilient, brave, and determined to defeat the NATO/GCC backed terrorists and rebuild Syria.

    Bana was recently photographed with Recep Erdogan. So after all the tweets fearing death at the hands of the Syrian Army, she, along with her family (not to mention thousands of terrorist fighters) were safely evacuated. She may be disappointed if she thinks Erdogan is going to be Al-Nusra’s saviour, as he seems to have joined the Russia/Syria/Iran alliance which has taken upon itself the task of resolving the Syrian war.

    There were others posting similar “last tweets”, “last videos”, goodbyes, etc. who, if they really were in East Aleppo, had a genuine fear for their lives in a war zone. However what is objectionable is the attribution of blame solely to Syrian and Russian forces and the lack of acknowledgement of the atrocities carried out by the opposition, whom it must be remembered held government controlled areas of Aleppo under siege for over three years. One such person was Abdulkafi Alhamdo, a teacher and activist who in one of the worst pieces of acting you will see, complete with regular sighs for dramatic effect, claimed Russia and Syria did not want to see them leave alive, they wanted them dead and that he expected coming massacres. It is a very small leap of faith for those who accept this at face value to believe the massacres did happen as reported.

    Article after article in the Western mainstream media condemns Russia and Syria for alleged war crimes spun by the above mentioned activists. Kirill Koktysh, Russian political scientist, associate professor of International Politics at Moscow-based MGIMO University, speaking to Sputnik News summed up the value for Washington in this misleading narrative:

    Commenting on a recent article in the US media decrying once again Syria and Russia for their “atrocities” in Aleppo, with, of course, no proof whatsoever of the “crimes against humanity” proffered other than some jihadist propaganda, a Russian political scientist explained to Sputnik that Washington relies on articles like this to “save its face.”

    The singular theme of these testimonies (in contrast to testimonies of reporters like Vanessa Beeley and Eva Bartlett) is how unconvincing they are. They feared for their lives in East Aleppo, and if it was because of Russia bombs or the Syrian army, then blaming Russia or Syria is myopic in the extreme. The Syrian army, aided by Russia, literally liberated East Aleppo from years of occupation by Western-sponsored terror groups. Not once did they deliberately attack civilians. Why would they? On the other hand, the brutalisation of civilians in the four years of terrorist group rule was intentional and designed to strike fear in the hearts of people, to ensure they were too scared to rise up or resist. The murder of 27 East Aleppo civilians who had the temerity to protest their captivity was intentional. The torture, execution and dismemberment of civilians found in mass graves was intentional, gruesome and sadistic, as too was the execution by terrorists of 100 soldiers in defiance of the withdrawal agreement. Syria

    News reported on the discovery of a mass grave of civilians shown on Syria TV:

    “Syrian TV showed another horrible massacre in the eastern part of Aleppo, the part which was controlled by the “rebels.” The recent report was of a mass grave of 23 victims in al Kallas district, which was a terrorist headquarter. It was found after those terrorists were transported to Idlib. The video shows the bodies of mostly massacred women and children, shot at close range. Many of the victims also had their legs and hands amputated.

    This is what the West-backed “moderate monsters” left behind. What’s more, they were planning to use those victims to attribute their crimes to our government, as they are used to doing. This propaganda is always being supported by mainstream media like CNN, the English speaking Qatari Al-Jazeera etc.”

    The terrorists seem to have little time for any notion of international or humanitarian law, something unlikely to be reflected on by US/NATO/ Gulf States, even as they squirm with embarrassment at these gruesome revelations. The irony of the squawking hysteria by western leaders and fakerstan media of unproven Russian/Syrian/Iranian atrocities compared to the firm evidence of these horrific executions is quite prophetic.

    We are constantly assailed with the truism that Russian media is state controlled, and therefore is nothing more than state propaganda. The mention of RT comes with the mandatory adjunct of “Kremlin controlled.” And, as Russia is the root of all evil, and is to blame for everything, obviously its media can be nothing more than a pack of lying newshounds.

    On the subject of the war in Syria, or the war on Syria, depending on where you stand, those who dissent from the regime change party line are dismissed as Russian trolls, Kremlin puppets, or Putin’s useful idiots. This includes well respected and credentialed journalists, activists and even ordinary people expressing their views via social media. We have all been willingly or unwillingly duped to follow the Kremlin line, to our eternal condemnation and to the never ending suffering of Syrians at the hands of the barbaric dictator Bashar Al-Assad and the Russian bully boy, Vladimir Putin.

    So while Western governments would have us believe that Russian media lies all the time, somehow this total control of media output does not apply to the Western mainstream media or our politicians when it comes to their reports from the ground in “rebel” held areas of Syria, most notably in Aleppo.

    The terrorists – let’s be frank here, that is what they are – who controlled Aleppo are not exactly shining examples of press freedom or independent reporting. If they were included in the World Press Freedom Index, they would languish at rock bottom.

    Take Lina Shamy for example who filmed with terrorists walking along in the background carrying their guns. That’s real independent media right there. She no doubt had the freedom to walk alongside armed terrorists and brazenly report a narrative not approved by their leadership.

    Or consider Bilal Abdul Kareem (mentioned above) interview of a spokesman for John Kerry’s favorite terrorist group ‘al-Nusra’. Kareem is a long-time confidante and proxy spokesperson for the terrorists. He even interviewed a terrorist supposedly evacuating Aleppo with an explosive vest. How far would Kareem be able to go if he departed from the Nusra line? Are we ever likely to hear those in fakerstan media call him a “Nusra troll,” or will he remain a respected “independent journalist.”

    The icing on the cake when it comes to disseminating propaganda though has to be The White Helmets. Formed in 2013 by former British special forces soldier, John Le Mesurier, it was a UK Foreign Office/ State Department operation from the very beginning. There was no agonizingly-slow growth of a grass roots movement struggling to even stump up the cash for office pens here. It is a slick intelligence operation pivotal to the psyops war which has been funded to the tune of $100 million and counting. It has now been funded by many countries all keen to show they are committed to the Atlanticists and the dictators in the Gulf States.

    The ‘White Helmets’ as humanitarian outfit is the stuff of Hollywood. The aura surrounding them is that of adored movie stars. They have been pumped up with claims of having rescued over 78,000 people in Syria, been nominated for the Nobel peace prize, complete with an intense lobbying effort, which if successful would have been the biggest insult to peace since Barack Obama’s shameful award. The White Helmets have stained democracy by being feted at the French parliament, been gushingly praised by the sycophantic Boris Johnson, applauded without due scrutiny by the western media, been the subject of a slick documentary which continues the theme of carefully crafted public relations serving the purposes of further demonizing Bashar al-Assad, deflecting criticism from the sponsorship of terrorism by NATO/Gulf States and helped build the case for direct intervention by openly calling for a no fly zone. To top it all off, we now have literally one of the biggest names in Hollywood, George Clooney planning a film on the White Helmets, thus elevating them to the status of some sort of Hollywood deity.

    The synopsis of The White Helmets documentary on the IMDB website propagates the myth of the heroic first responders:

    “As daily airstrikes pound civilian targets in Syria, a group of indomitable first responders risk their lives to rescue victims from the rubble.”

    This synopsis of the movie reinforces the idea of the fearless volunteers risking life and limb to rescue their fellow Syrians, while, without directly naming them, demonizing the governments of Bashar al-Assad and Russia, as they of course are the ones delivering the airstrikes. No mention here of the alternative view that the White Helmets stage manage their “rescues” are affiliated with terrorist groups, or that Russia and Syria are targeting terrorist groups and not civilians.

    Clooney appears to have missed the fact that the White Helmets have been caught out time and again posing with terrorist groups, brandishing guns, accompanying terrorist groups as they abduct and kill Syrian soldiers and calling Syrian soldiers “Shabiha” whose dead bodies are to be thrown in the trash. There is an abundance of video and photo evidence out there in social media, easy to track down if you are inclined to do so. So-called diligent corporate media journalists could not fail to uncover this material, yet they see nothing, report nothing.

    On the contrary, the fakerstan media has made it their duty to target and vilify alternative media journalists who are prepared to look beyond the hype and glamour to uncover the murky underbelly of the White Helmets beast.

    Eva Bartlett, who gave a monumental performance at a recent United Nations panel discussion on Syria, finds herself being set up to be discredited, vilified, humiliated, and ultimately silenced. First she was questioned as to whether she was at the panel on the behest of the Syrian government. No, she was there as an independent journalist of high repute, which she has been for a very long time.

    Vanessa Beeley is routinely accused of being a “paid propagandist” a “shill for Assad.” Baseless claims are made that she is only allowed in Aleppo because the Syrian government like what she has got to say. Beeley, like other western journalists who have been able to freely travel into Aleppo, is protected by the Syrian Army in war zones, which is exactly what you would expect. Their opinions make no difference to the Syrian Army who have a duty to protect all those under their care.

    The real problem is that Beeley is providing an abundance of evidence of the liberation of Aleppo and how happy people are that they have finally been liberated. This is what the media and so called activists can’t stand, that she is letting the people speak for themselves, and their message is; we are free, we are liberated, and we hated the terrorists who controlled East Aleppo.

    Beeley has told of how, among all the people she spoke to in East Aleppo, not one knew who the White Helmets were. When pressed they would say, ” ah yes the Nusra Front civil defence that only worked with the terrorists and did not help civilians“.

    Beeley spoke to people who said the Al-Nusra dominated groups ruled through “fear, torture, humiliation, starvation and brutality.” She mixed with groups of children able to finally raise a smile. She gathered the testimonies of residents who recounted the living hell they had experienced. Beeley says the “testimonies we filmed testified to starvation, wholesale deprivation of humanitarian aid, summary executions, torture and the use of civilians as human shields.”

    Beeley has been in Aleppo where the warehouses full of humanitarian aid denied to civilians by the terrorist groups were revealed. She was there when the horrifying report broke of the discovery of mass graves of civilians, with many women and children shot at close range. She was also there when the discovery was made of the 100 Syrian soldiers executed by the terrorists prior to being given safe passage to Idlib where they can resume hostilities and possibly perpetrate future atrocities on civilians and government fighters.

    The stories of Syrian army and militia massacres were nowhere to be seen. Nor were the accusations that Assad is entirely to blame for their suffering. Beeley also was there as the peaceful evacuation took place, contrary to reports which claimed otherwise, including the claims that hundreds of men went missing from East Aleppo.

    This reporting is consistent with what the Bolivian actress and filmmaker Carla Ortiz found. Telesur reports on her time spent in Syria and the film she is about to release titled “Voice of Syria,” in which “she documents the peaceful evacuation process from Eastern Aleppo, effectively debunking mainstream media narratives claiming the opposite.”

    During a recent interview with Fox 11 News, Ortiz said: “I was right there in six different front lines, and I talked to the people when they were getting in the buses…at the shelters, and actually the evacuation wasn’t burning, there was not mass shooting anywhere on the streets.”

    So the caravan of media and activist propaganda rolls on. Their next stop is Idlib; the last remaining stronghold of the non ISIS dominated terrorist factions. Undoubtedly it is all going to be barrel bombs, White Helmet heroics, deliberate bombing of schools and hospitals, and valiant resistance from “rebel” groups. That the presence of a hard line, mass murdering group such as Al-Nusra (Jabhat Fatah al-Sham) is hidden beneath the moderate rebel tag is an absolute scandal and will continue to obfuscate the truth of the dirty US/NATO/Gulf State/Israel war on Syria.

    http://21stcenturywire.com/2017/01/0...ogues-gallery/
    The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors”, and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment”. It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom — Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.

  10. #10
    Syria and Washington’s ‘New Middle East’

    By Prof. Tim Anderson
    Global Research, November 28, 2015

    The following text is chapter two of professor Tim Anderson’s forthcoming book entitled “The Dirty War on Syria”


    Prof. Tim Anderson

    After the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and the destruction of Libya, Syria was to be the next state overthrown. Washington and its regional allies had planned this for some time.

    After ‘regime change’ in Damascus, Syria’s ally Hezbollah, leader of the Lebanese Resistance to Israel, would be isolated. The Islamic Republic of Iran would remain the only Middle East country without US military bases. After Iran, Washington would control the entire region, excluding possible competitors such as Russia and China. Palestine would be lost.

    This was all part of Washington’s plan for a ‘New Middle East’; but it was not to be. Determined and coordinated resistance can never be discounted. Syria’s national army has resisted wave after wave of fanatical Islamist attacks, backed by NATO and the Gulf monarchies, and Russian and Iranian support remained solid. Importantly, Syria has built new forms of cooperation with a weak but emerging Iraq. Washington had worked for decades to divide Iran and Iraq, so the strengthening ties between Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine represent a regional challenge to the new ‘Great Game’ of our times. The Middle East is not just a big power playground.

    The US and its close regional collaborators (Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey, Qatar and Jordan), we now know, have been behind every anti-Syrian extremist group since the beginning of the recent conflict. They have used the worst of reactionary and sectarian forces to pursue their ends. The Axis of Resistance, on the other hand, should not be misunderstood as a sectarian phenomenon. This group – the Islamic Republic of Iran, secular Syria, the Lebanese Resistance led by Hezbollah and the Palestinians – is deeply anti-imperial. Syria, the only remaining ‘secular’ state in the region has long allied itself with the Islamic Republic of Iran, including against Saddam Hussein’s secular Iraq. Saddam in turn was used by Washington to degrade Iran, after that country’s 1979 revolution. On the other hand, Iran never backed the sectarian Muslim Brotherhood in any of its insurrections against secular Syria. Iran does support the Shia Muslims of Hezbollah, but it is most demonised for arming Palestine, which has hardly any Shia. This plurality disproves any claims that the Axis of Resistance is sectarian. Promotion of sectarianism in the Middle East mostly comes from Washington’s key allies, Saudi Arabia, the other gulf monarchies, and the ethnic cleansers of Israel. They share the US aim of keeping the region weak and divided.

    How did Syria come to be targeted? We can chart the hostility back to Syria’s central role in the Arab-Israeli wars, especially those of 1967 and 1973, a common regional struggle against the expansionist Zionist state. After that, Syria’s support for 1979 Iranian Revolution put it offside with Washington. As far back as 1980, under the Carter administration, Washington was searching for a ‘change of regime’ in Damascus. A cable from the National Security Council to Secretary of State Zbigniew Brzezinski urged a coordinated study, including with their European and Arab monarchy partners, of ‘identifying possible alternative regimes’ to the Government led by Hafez al Assad. They were considering how to ‘reduce the problems of ill-considered reaction [by Syria’s ally, the Soviet Union] to a change of regime in Damascus’. The memorandum also recognised that any withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon (Syria had entered Lebanon to stop the civil war, in 1975; it would stay until 2005) would run a ‘high’ risk of renewed civil war in that country and create ‘high incentives for Israeli military engagement in southern Lebanon’ (NSC 1980).

    It was thus no coincidence that the Muslim Brotherhood, – always the most organised Syrian opposition group, and whose history of collaboration with outside powers dated back to the 1940s – began a series of bloody sectarian attacks from this point onwards, until their last insurrection was crushed in Hama in 1982. That insurrection had been backed by US allies Saudi Arabia, Saddam Hussein and Jordan (Seale 1988: 336-337). US intelligence at the time observed that ‘the Syrians are pragmatists who do not want a Muslim Brotherhood government’ (DIA 1982: vii). However US analysts, soon after, used the repression of the Muslim Brotherhood at Hama to demonstrate ‘the true establishment of Syria as a totalitarian state’ (Wikas 2007: vii). This was a useful fiction.

    The next strategic shift against Syria came after the September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centre New York, and the decision of Bush the Second to declare a ‘war on terror’. Although various pretexts were made for the interventions which followed, an overall plan for the Middle East was very rapidly set in train. Former senior US General Wesley Clark said in his memoirs that, two weeks after the September 2001 attacks, he was told by a ‘senior general’ at the Pentagon that the attack on Iraq (which came 18 months later) was already decided. Six weeks later he says that same general told him, ‘It’s worse than that’, before indicating a memo ‘from the Office of the Secretary of Defence … [saying] we’re going to take out seven countries in five years’.

    That list began with Iraq and Syria and ended with Iran (Clark 2007). Iraq’s ruler Saddam Hussein had been an enemy of Syria, through his opportunistic backing of the Syria Muslim Brotherhood and for his collaboration with the US in the long and bloody war against Iran. However the Syrian Government, led by Hafez al Assad, had supported the expulsion of Iraq from Kuwait in what has been called the First Gulf War (1990-1991). That war, whatever one thought of Kuwait’s monarchy, was a clear breach of the UN doctrine of collective security and, on that basis, attracted a UN Security Council mandate to intervene. However both Syria and Iran opposed the later invasion of Iraq (2003), even though it would depose their mutual enemy Saddam. The invasion of Iraq was clearly illegal and a war of aggression.

    It was the unintended consequences of the invasion and occupation of Iraq that led to a shift in US policy, a move which was called a ‘redirection’ (Hersh 2007). Once Saddam Hussein’s Ba’athist administration had been deposed, a newly installed government in Damascus began a shift towards friendlier relations with Iran. It was not just that the majority of Iraq were Shia Muslims like, but not to as great an extent as, in Iran. Iraqis had developed a more pluralist culture, and did not want a religious state. However with Iran’s enemy Saddam out of the way, matters of genuine common concern could be discussed in a more normal climate of neighbourly relations. Yet the idea of good neighbourly relations between Iraq and Iran seriously worried Washington. They had not fuelled the Iraq-Iran war, nor invaded Iraq, to help bring about that outcome.

    As early as 2005 US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice began to speak of spreading ‘creative chaos’ in the region, to advance President Bush’s plan for a New Middle East (Karon 2006). Drawing on the traditions of the great powers, Washington set up a new ‘divide and rule’ strategy. White House insiders called Bush’s new policy ‘the redirection’, involving a more open confrontation with Iran and attempting to drive a ‘sectarian divide between Shiite and Sunni Muslims …[Yet] to the distress of the White House, Iran has forged a close relationship with the Shiite dominated government of Prime Minster Nuri al-Malaki’ (Hersh 2007). Rice told the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee she saw ‘a new strategic alignment’ in the region, with ‘Sunni states’ [the Gulf monarchies] as the centres of moderation and Iran, Syria and Hezbollah ‘on the other side of that divide’ (Hersh 2007).

    The idea was to play on community divisions to create conflict, particularly in Iraq. US Central Command’s ‘Red Team’ exercises began in 2006, with military planning focused on divisions which they characterised as Arabs versus Persians (Iranians), later asking themselves whether ‘Sunni-Shia [might be] a more appropriate framework?’ Their key assumption was that ‘there does not appear to be a scenario where Arabs and Persians will join forces against the US/West’ (Narwani 2011). The cutting edge of the operation would be the creation of al Qaeda in Iraq (IQI), funded by the Saudis and carrying out sectarian attacks on mosques and other community centres, to inflame community tensions. Senior western officials have acknowledged privately that the various billionaires of Saudi Arabia (along with the other Gulf monarchies) constitute ‘the most significant source of funding to Sunni [sic] terrorist groups worldwide’ (Jones 2014).

    Although al Qaeda in Iraq, a.k.a. the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), at first claimed to be overwhelmingly Iraqi (Felter and Fishman 2008: 3), Saudi finance and recruiting significantly internationalised it. Records captured by the US military in October 2007 at Sinjar, on the Iraqi-Syrian border underline this. Those records referred to a group of about 500, half of whom were Saudi, then North African (Libyan, Algerian, Tunisian, Moroccan) and then others. Other estimates between 2005 and 2007 suggested greater or lesser degrees of various nationalities, with the largest group (40-55%) being Saudis (Felter and Fishman 2008: 8, 30-31).

    A notorious example of the strategy to provoke sectarian conflict was the February 2006 bombing of the al Askari mosque in Samarra, in southern Iraq, which killed over a thousand people. Despite calls for restraint by Shia leaders in Iraq, Iran and Lebanon, there were sectarian reprisals. When arrests were made this act was said to have been carried out by an al Qaeda seven-man cell, led by an Iraqi with a Tunisian, four Saudis and two other Iraqis (Ridolfo 2007). Although al Qaeda was implicated from the start, US media and analyst focus shifted to what they called ‘Iraq’s sectarian divide’ (Worth 2006). Yet while Saddam Hussein had backed the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria, he did not allow al Qaeda groups in Iraq. That was a more recent development, and not just an ‘organic’ reaction to the US occupation. Western sources sometimes acknowledge that much of the finance and the fighters for Al Qaeda have come from Saudi Arabia (Bruno 2007). However they also cloud the issue with claims that Iran and Hezbollah have, from time to time, supported al Qaeda (Kaplan 2006). Such claims are quite false.

    Israel was deeply embedded with the New Middle East plan and in July-August 2006, after getting the ‘green light’ from Washington (Hersh 2006), seized on a pretext to invade southern Lebanon. The broader aim was to degrade and disarm Hezbollah. However after almost 1200 Lebanese and 165 Israelis had been killed, a UN ceasefire was brokered. Israel had failed in all its objectives. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called this tragedy, at a time when 400 had died and half a million were displaced, simply the ‘birth pangs of a New Middle East’ (Karon 2006). That statement prompted Rami Khouri of Beirut’s Daily Star to write: ‘Washington is engaged almost exclusively with Arab governments [the Gulf monarchies] whose influence with Syria is virtually nonexistent, whose credibility with Arab public opinion is zero, whose own legitimacy at home is increasingly challenged, and whose pro-US policies tend to promote the growth of those [extremist] Islamist movements’ (Khouri 2006).

    During the destabilisation of post-Saddam Iraq, Syria was on Washington’s ‘back-burner’, but hardly forgotten. From cables released by Wikileaks we know that the US Embassy in Syria was concerned that, despite the sanctions imposed in 2005 for Syria’s non-cooperation over Iraq, Syria had ended 2006 ‘in a much stronger position domestically and internationally than it did in 2006’. Washington had tried to accuse Damascus of harbouring Iraqi resistance fighters (Syria had taken in well over a million refugees from Iraq, after the US invasion in 2003) but the US Embassy privately acknowledged that ‘extremist elements increasingly use Syria as a base, while the SARG [Syrian Arab Republic Government] has taken some actions against groups stating links to Al-Qaeda’. Nevertheless the Embassy suggested the State Department look for opportunities to ‘disrupt [Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s] decision making, keep him off-balance and make him pay a premium for his mistakes’ (US Embassy Damascus 2006).

    Meantime the groundwork was being laid for intervention. The US State Department had allocated $5 million for ‘Syrian governance and reform programs’ in early 2006 (Wikas 2007: viii). The Bush administration was funding media channels and NGOs. US cables confirm that the US State Department had funded the London-based Barada Television and a network of Syrian exiles called the ‘Movement for Justice and Development’ (Whitlock 2011).

    This was a special program set up in parallel with similar work done more widely through the State Department funded National Endowment for Democracy. This funding came through intermediary groups in the US, in particular the Democracy Council, which in turn received grants from the Middle East Partnership Initiative. Cables from the US Embassy in Damascus from 2009 onwards say the Democracy Council received $6.3 million to run a Syria program called ‘Civil Society Strengthening Initiative’, which included ‘various broadcast concepts’ including Barada TV. A higher figure of about $12 million between 2005 and 2010 was later noted, with the US Embassy in Damascus telling the State Department that the Syrian Government ‘would undoubtedly view any U.S. funds going to illegal political groups as tantamount to supporting regime change’. They were concerned that Syrian intelligence (the notorious Mukhabarat) was hot on the trail of these programs (Whitlock 2011).

    Although the Bush administration imposed a series of sanctions on Syria, between 2003 and 2008, supposedly linked to its role in Lebanon and Iraq, there were also high level diplomatic contacts with the Syrian Government. Often US policy seemed incoherent, but hostility was not far below the surface. The US demanded liberalisation of Syria’s economic policy, but blocked its attempt to join the World Trade Organization (Sadat and Jones 2009). William Rugh, former US Ambassador to the UAE, characterised US policy towards Syria as one of ‘isolation and monologue’, while ex-CIA analyst Martha Kessler says the entire policy had to be based on ‘the context of a belief among many in this [US] administration that this regime [the Syrian Government] has to go’ (Sadat and Jones 2009).

    That ambition included military preparation, but not just conventional military preparation. The British were on board. Former French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas said, two years before the violence erupted in Syria: ‘I met with top British officials who confessed to me that they were preparing something on Syria … Britain was organising an invasion of rebels into Syria. They even asked me, although I was no longer Minister of Foreign Affairs, it I would like to participate.’ He says he refused (Lehman 2013). Just what detail there was to this 2009 plan is not clear.

    Nevertheless the US had long experience in dirty, covert wars, fought through proxies, in Central America (e.g. El Salvador and Nicaragua), in Africa (e.g. Zaire and Angola) and in the Middle East (e.g. Afghanistan). After President Bush declared his ‘War On Terrorism’ in 2001, the US Army manual on ‘unconventional warfare’ (UW) was revised several times to take account of the range of activities the US needed to pursue its ambitious plans. The 2008 version of this manual quotes with approval the ancient Chinese scholar of war, Sun Tsu: ‘defeating the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill’ (US Army 2008: 1.1). That is, it is both efficient and effective to develop a range of means, short of direct military confrontation. The manual envisages ‘unconventional war’ which ‘must be conducted by, with or through surrogates’, citing the earlier examples of this in Nicaragua and Afghanistan. The manual emphasises, the ‘clearly stated purpose of UW [is] to support insurgencies, resistance movements and conventional military operations’ (US Army 2008: 1.1-1.2). That unconventional war is precisely what was in preparation for Syria, before the events of late 2010 and early 2011 in Egypt and Tunisia, which came to be known as the Arab Spring. The model would be an extension of al Qaeda (or the Islamic State) in Iraq, drawing on Syrian Muslim Brotherhood networks and the ever faithful, sectarian and vicious Saudis.

    Had Syria been isolated, like Iraq and Libya, this plan might have been more straight-forward. But the NATO and Gulf Arab proxy armies would face an Axis of Resistance, with some powerful allies and with experience of sectarian provocations.

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/syria-a...e-east/5491908
    The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors”, and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment”. It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom — Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.

  11. #11
    How the War in Syria is About Oil, not ISIS
    Home»Foreign Policy»How the War in Syria is About Oil, not ISIS
    September 29, 2014
    Carl Gibson

    “… the Persian Gulf, the critical oil and natural gas-producing region that we fought so many wars to try and protect our economy from the adverse impact of losing that supply or having it available only at very high prices.” –John Bolton, George W. Bush’s ambassador to the United Nations

    (ReaderSupportedNews) All the hubbub over Syria is all about oil. And if you don’t believe me, believe John Bolton.

    When there’s something being talked about in the news on a regular basis, and if one angle of the story is being consistently reported by various reputable news organizations, you can be sure there’s something else to the story that isn’t being told. Matt Taibbi called this “chumpbait” when referring to the media’s unified dismissal concerning Bradley Manning’s court-martial. The same applies to the latest corporate media stories speculating on US military involvement in Syria. Image credit: roy.luck

    refineryIf the US were really concerned about spreading Democracy in the Middle East, we’d be helping the Occupy Gezi movement oust Turkish Prime Minister Ergodan and condemning his violent suppression of human rights, rather than assisting the Free Syrian Army. And the only reason the powers controlling the US would be interested in intervening in Turkey would be if Turkish protesters or government forces shut down the highly-productive Kirkuk-Ceyhan oil pipeline, which goes from Iraq through Southern Turkey.

    All of the media has been atwitter about whether or not the US should get involved in the civil war unfolding in Syria by supporting anti-government forces. The atrocities recently committed by the Free Syrian Army are reminiscent of the kind committed against the Soviets in the 1980s by the Afghan mujahideen, whom we actively funded and supplied with arms. (Remember the movie Charlie Wilson’s War?) It should be worth noting that the same mujahideen fighters we funded to fight our enemies for us in the 1980s became our enemies even before the 9/11 attacks.
    In a roundabout way, the US media is making the argument that because the Assad regime is using chemical weapons on the Syrian people, the US military should intervene by arming and training the Free Syrian Army in the hopes of overthrowing President Assad. On the surface, most Americans would agree that Assad is a brutal dictator and should be removed from office. But if you asked most Americans whether or not the US military should intervene in Syria to make sure the profit margins of oil companies remain strong, it’s likely most rational folks would say no. Digging just beneath the surface, it’s easy to see that US interest in Syria isn’t to provide Democracy to Syria, but to ensure the Kirkuk-Banias oil pipeline will be restored to profitable status. Even President Obama’s press secretary said that foreign policy isn’t driven by what the people want, but by what is best for “American interests.”

    The Kirkuk-Banias pipeline runs from Kirkuk in Northern Iraq, to the Syrian town of Banias, on the Mediterranean Sea between Turkey and Lebanon. Ever since US forces inadvertently destroyed it in 2003, most of the pipeline has been shut down. While there have been plans in the works to make the Iraqi portion of the pipeline functional again, those plans have yet to come to fruition. And Syria has at least 2.5 billion barrels of oil in its fields, making it the next largest Middle Eastern oil producer after Iraq. After ten unproductive years, the oil companies dependent on the Kirkuk-Banias pipeline’s output are eager to get the pipeline operational again. The tension over the Syrian oil situation is certainly being felt by wealthy investors in the markets, who are thus dictating US foreign policy.

    It’s easy to see why the oil-dominated US government wants to be involved in Syria’s outcome. The Free Syrian Army has since taken control of oil fields near Deir Ezzor, and Kurdish groups have taken control of other oil fields in the Rumeilan region. Many of the numerous atrocities that Assad’s government committed against unarmed women and children were in Homs, which is near one of the country’s only two oil refineries. Israel, the US’s only ally in the Middle East, is illegally occupying the Golan Heights on the Syrian border and extracting their resources. The US wants to get involved in Syria to monopolize its oil assets, while simultaneously beating our competition – Iran, Russia and China – in the race for Syrian black gold.

    Big oil’s ideal outcome would be for US troops to back the FSA’s overthrow of the Assad regime, meaning that sharing in Syrian oil profits would be part of the quid-pro-quo the US demands in exchange for helping the Syrian rebels win. It would be very similar to when the US, under Teddy Roosevelt, backed Panama’s fight for independence in exchange for US ownership of the Panama Canal. But even after numerous interventions, including the kidnapping of Panama’s head of state, the Torrijos-Carter accords gave control of the Panama Canal back to Panama in 1999. The imperialistic approach to Panama turned out to be more costly than it would have been if we had just left Panama alone in the first place.

    George Santayana said that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. If we don’t learn from our past mistakes, like basing foreign policy goals on greed-inspired imperialism, Syria will blow up in our faces.

    http://theantimedia.org/how-the-war-...-oil-not-isis/

    http://www.strategic-culture.org/new...yria-maps.html
    The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors”, and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment”. It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom — Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.

  12. #12
    Beeley and Bartlett have been doing great work.



    These women shame the entire MSM. From Morningstar.
    "We say to the workers: 'You will have to go through fifteen, twenty, fifty years of civil wars and international wars, not only in order to change existing conditions, but also in order to change yourselves and fit yourselves for the exercise of political power."'

    MARX (On the Communist Trial at Cologne, 1851).

  13. #13
    Syrian Woman on Torture under NATO Rebels in Aleppo
    January 13, 2017


    Syrian woman tortured by moderate terrorists

    by Afraa Dagher

    The western media always tries to discriminate FSA from ISIS, calling the first “moderates” as if they were any different than “ISIS” in terms of degrading secular Syria into a theocratic state, using all forms of barbarism and atrocities. The video below is of a woman who survived life in FSA-controlled eastern neighborhood of Aleppo, telling her personal story, after her neighborhood was liberated by the Syrian Arab Army. It should convince its viewers that FSA “jihadists” are the same, and even worse, than those horrific acts of “ISIS.”

    The life under the so-called moderate rebels in the eastern neighborhoods occupied by NATO armed and funded savages was not one of freedom, despite reports from CNN and others. These were the monsters that UN Spec Stefan de Mistura wanted my country to grant autonomy to, after he ostentatiously offered himself as human shield for terrorists to “…leave in dignity with your weapons…I personally am ready, physically, to accompany you.”


    NATO msm cheered UN Spec de Mistura’s offer, but was mute when he was a no-show
    His offer was shared throughout western msm, msm that was mute when he did not show up during the humanitarian pause offered by Syria, when his dignified terrorists where murdering everyone who tried to get on the Green buses, to leave. de Mistura only returned, months later, with the demand for ‘autonomy.’

    The voice of the woman in the video is full of pain. She is brave to have recorded this testament of her bearing witness, of her own torture. She is fully covered, until the very end, when she removes her gloves. Then we see that her fingers have all been broken, and her bones were not reset. She talks about the ‘rebels’ threw Syrians from the tops of buildings, how they stoned women to death, beat them with belts.

    They burnt her chest with cigarettes. They scalded her neck.

    They put men who smoked into holes, and beheaded them.



    They imposed al sharia on us. They were starving us, and if one stole a loaf of bread to eat, his hand was cut off. For women, we were not allowed to marry from our own men, from our own people, our own choices. We were told we had to marry them. They said it is not allowed to let women to marry those who are pro-government, because they let women put on make up and work, and let women outside without covering faces. And this is taboo! Such women should be beheaded. And what kind of marriage to such terrorists would this be? It is just to please the man for one hour. They he will leave and send you to ‘sex jihad’! This happened to my friends. And they took our kids to join them, too. It has been two years I have not seen my son. They stole him. alNusra Front did that. Women who refused to obey them were tortured…beheaded and put into cars carrying their severed heads, driving around the city as lessons to other women.

    They starved us and stole our homes and stole everything in our homes.

    They killed my husband. They took his body to Turkey and later sent his dead body back to me, without his organs. I saw how they stitched up his body.

    Everything is taboo and forbidden. I was burnt by a gas tank, but no doctor would treat me. Science is taboo. I ran into a doctor I know and asked for help, but he refused to treat me, saying under the new rules it is taboo to see a woman’s body.

    After my mother and I were released from prison, I asked to be taken to a hospital in Turkey, but they refused.

    I am 21 years old. Look at my hands. I was refused medical treatment. I lost my looks. Who would marry me now?

    Note the mainstream media non-stop talking about Russian and Syrian strikes against hospitals in eastern Aleppo! Damn, which hospital is this, with such ‘sharia’? No hospitals. No healthcare. No schools, either. The terrorists dictated that it was forbidden for children to join schools…all of such facilities were turned into centers for these terrorists and their weapons.




    No children in this ‘rebel’ classroom; just mortars from NATO countries


    Another classroom. NATO terrorists blew out the wall, to make sniping more efficient
    Note the “AMC” logo of this photograph. These NATO-funded terrorists who turned children’s schoolyards into weapons barracks — filled with surface to surface, and surface to air missiles — have been invited to be lauded in Paris, by fraud socialist politicians, and to Capitol Hill, lauded by war criminals.



    As Aleppo was on the verge of liberation by the Syrian Arab Army, western msm and warmongering ‘alternative’ media were spewing lies that Syrian women were committing suicide. The reality was that moderate terrorist men had requested an Islam-hating wahhabi ‘cleric’ to allow them to engage in femicide, and other family annihilation.


    Takfiri ‘fatwa’ for femicide

    http://www.syrianews.cc/syrian-woman...r-nato-rebels/
    "We say to the workers: 'You will have to go through fifteen, twenty, fifty years of civil wars and international wars, not only in order to change existing conditions, but also in order to change yourselves and fit yourselves for the exercise of political power."'

    MARX (On the Communist Trial at Cologne, 1851).

  14. #14
    what's left
    What the Syrian Constitution says about Assad and the Rebels
    with 15 comments

    By Stephen Gowans

    The idea that the uprising against the Syrian government is inspired by a grassroots movement thirsting for a pluralist, democratic state is a fiction. The opposition’s chief elements are Islamists who seek to establish a Sunni-dominated Islamic state in place of a Syrian government they revile for being secular and dominated by Alawi “heretics.” “Al Qaeda-linked groups…dominate rebel ranks,” notes The Wall Street Journal. [1] “There is frustration with the West’s inability to help nurture a secular military or political opposition to replace Mr. Assad,” echoes The New York Times. [2] “Islamic forces seem to be ascendant within the opposition,” observes Gerald F. Seib. [3]

    Indeed, almost from the opening moments of the latest outbreak of Islamic unrest in Syria, the government has said that while some protesters have legitimate grievances, the uprising is driven by militant Islamists with foreign backing.” [4] It’s no secret that Saudi Arabia and Qatar- monarchies which abominate democracy—are furnishing Islamist militants with arms, while Turkey, Jordan, Israel, France, Britain and the United States are also lending support.

    Syria’s post-colonial history is punctuated by Islamist uprisings. The Muslim Brotherhood organized riots against the government in 1964, 1965, 1967 and 1969. It called for a Jihad against then president Hafiz al-Assad, the current president’s father, denigrating him as “the enemy of Allah.” By 1977, the Mujahedeen were engaged in a guerrilla struggle against the Syrian army and its Soviet advisers, culminating in the 1982 occupation of the city of Hama. The Syrian army quelled the occupation, killing 20,000 to 30,000. Islamists have since remained a perennial source of instability in Syria and the government has been on continual guard against “a resurgence of Sunni Islamic fundamentalists.” [5] The resurgence, touched off by uprisings in surrounding countries, prompted Glen E. Robinson to write in Current History that the rebellion was a continuation of “Syria’s Long Civil War.” [6]

    But the Western media, echoing former colonialist powers and high officials in Washington, would call it something different: a popular, grassroots uprising against a brutal dictator. Today, however, the flood of YouTube videos by Islamic terrorists, chronicling their killings of POWs, eviscerations of captured soldiers, and barbecuing of heads, has spoiled the narrative. It’s no longer possible to angelize the Syrian rebellion as a popular insurrection against dictatorship. Now even the Wall Street Journal and New York Times share Assad’s view.

    Still, the rebels’ spin doctors aren’t yielding entirely. They insist that while the rebellion may be dominated by religious fanatics with a penchant for terrorism, that it wasn’t always so. Instead, they say, it began as a peaceful plea for democracy that was eventually hijacked by jihadists only after the government used brute force to crush a protest movement. At that point, protesters were forced to take up arms in self-defense.

    This view is dishonest. To start, it sweeps aside the reality that the rebellion is dominated by Islamists who care not one whit for democracy and indeed are actively hostile to it. What’s more, it conceals the fact that the Assad government made substantial concessions in the direction of creating the kind of pluralist, democratic society the rebels are said to thirst for. The rebels rejected the concessions, and that they did, underscores the fact that the rebellion’s origins are to be found in Islamist, not democratic, ambitions.

    In response to protestors’ demands, Damascus made a number of concessions that were neither superficial nor partial.

    First, it cancelled the long-standing abridgment of civil liberties that had been authorized by the emergency law. The law, invoked because Syria is technically in a state of war with Israel, gave Damascus powers it needed to safeguard the security of the state in wartime, a measure states at war routinely take. Many Syrians, however, chaffed under the law, and regarded it as unduly restrictive. Bowing to popular pressure, the government lifted the security measures.

    Second, the government proposed a new constitution to accommodate protestors’ demands to strip the Ba’ath Party of its special status, which had reserved for it a lead role in Syrian society. Additionally, the presidency would be open to anyone meeting basic residency, age and citizenship requirements. Presidential elections would be held by secret vote every seven years under a system of universal suffrage.

    Here was the multi-party democracy the opposition was said to have clamored for. A protest movement thirsting for a democratic, pluralist society could accept the offer, its aspirations fulfilled. The constitution was put to a referendum and approved. New parliamentary multi-party elections were held. Multi-candidate presidential elections were set for 2014. A new democratic dawn had arrived. The rebels could lay down their arms and enjoy the fruits of their victory.

    Or so you might expect. Instead, the insurrectionists escalated their war against Damascus, rejecting the reforms, explaining that they had arrived too late. Too late? Does pluralist democracy turn into a pumpkin unless it arrives before the clock strikes twelve? Washington, London and Paris also dismissed Assad’s concessions. They were “meaningless,” they said, without explaining why. [7] And yet the reforms were all the rebels had asked for and that the West had demanded. How could they be meaningless? Democrats, those seeking a peaceful resolution to the conflict, and the Assad government, could hardly be blamed for concluding that “democracy was not the driving force of the revolt.” [8]

    Elaborating on this theme, the Syrian president noted:

    It was seemingly apparent at the beginning that demands were for reforms. It was utilized to appear as if the crisis was a matter of political reform. Indeed, we pursued a policy of wide scale reforms from changing the constitution to many of the legislations and laws, including lifting the state of emergency law, and embarking on a national dialogue with all political opposition groups. It was striking that with every step we took in the reform process, the level of terrorism escalated. [9]

    From Washington’s perspective, the new constitution opened space for alternative political parties. Washington could exploit this new openness to gain leverage in Syria by quietly backing parties that favor pro-US positions—a plus.

    From the Islamists’ point of view, however, there were only negatives. First, the constitution was secular, and not rooted in Islam. Second, it proposed to ban political parties or movements that were formed on the basis of religion, sect, tribe, or region, as well as on the basis of gender, origin, race or color. This would effectively ban any party whose aim was to establish an Islamic state.

    There were negatives too for Washington, London, Paris and Tel Aviv.

    First, the constitution’s preamble defined Syria as “the beating heart of Arabism,” and “the forefront of confrontation with the Zionist enemy and the bedrock of resistance against colonial hegemony on the Arab world and its capabilities and wealth.” This hardly accorded with Washington’s desire to turn Syria into a “peace-partner” with Israel and clashed with the Western project of spreading neo-colonial tentacles across the Arab world.

    Second, the constitution formalized the political orientation of the Syrian Ba’athists. This has been summed up by Assad as “Syria is an independent state working for the interests of its people, rather than making the Syrian people work for the interests of the West.” [10] Accordingly, the constitution mandated that important sectors of the Syrian economy would remain publicly owned and operated in the interests of Syrians as a whole. Western firms, then, were to be frozen out of profit-making opportunities in key sectors of the Syrian economy, a prospect hardly encouraging to the Wall Street financial interests that dominate decision-making in Washington.

    Ba’ath socialism has long irritated Washington. The Ba’athist state has always exercised considerable influence over the Syrian economy, through ownership of enterprises, subsidies to privately-owned domestic firms, limits on foreign investment, and restrictions on imports. These are the necessary economic tools of a post-colonial state trying to wrest its economic life from the grips of former colonial powers and to chart a course of development free from the domination of foreign interests.

    Washington’s goals, however, are obviously antithetical. It doesn’t want Syria to nurture its industry and jealously guard its independence, but to serve the interests of the bankers and major investors who truly matter in the United States, by opening Syrian labor to exploitation and Syria’s land and natural resources to foreign ownership.

    Prior to Assad drafting the new constitution, the US State Department complained that Syria had “failed to join an increasingly interconnected global economy,” which is to say, had failed to turn over its state-owned enterprises to private investors, among them Wall Street financial interests. The State Department also expressed dissatisfaction that “ideological reasons” had prevented Assad from liberalizing Syria’s economy, that “privatization of government enterprises was still not widespread,” and that the economy “remains highly controlled by the government.” [11]

    Were Assad to demonstrate a readiness to appease Wall Street’s demands he would have departed holus bolus from the dirigiste practices that had irritated the State Department. Instead, he did the opposite, drafting a constitution that mandated that the government maintain a role in guiding the economy on behalf of Syrian interests, and that the Syrian government would not make Syrians work for the interests of Western banks, oil companies, and other corporations. This was effectively a slap in Washington’s face.

    He then compounded the sin by writing certain social rights into the constitution: security against sickness, disability and old age; access to health care; and free education at all levels. Now these rights would be placed beyond the easy reach of legislators and politicians who could sacrifice them on the altar of creating a low-tax, foreign-investment-friendly climate. To make matters worse, he included an article in the constitution which declared that “taxes shall be progressive.”

    Finally, he took a step toward real, genuine democracy—a kind that decision-makers in Washington, with their myriad connections to the banking and corporate world—could hardly tolerate. He included a provision in the constitution requiring that at minimum half the members of the People’s Assembly are to be drawn from the ranks of peasants and workers.

    Therein were the real reasons Washington, London and Paris rejected Assad’s concessions. It wasn’t that they weren’t genuine. It was that they were made to the wrong people: to Syrians, rather than Wall Street; to the Arabs, rather than Israel. And nor was it that his reforms weren’t democratic enough. It was that they were too democratic, too focussed on safeguarding and promoting the interests of Syrians, rather than making Syrians promote the interests of Wall Street, Washington and Tel Aviv.

    The Syrian constitution clarifies the orientation of the Syrian Ba’athists and underscores why the Syrian government ought to be supported in its struggle against foreign-backed Islamist rebels. In short, because it is, on balance, progressive, and the forces arrayed against it are retrograde. The Syrian government is pro-Palestinian, anti-Zionist, anti-colonialist, and anti-imperialist. It is committed to secularism, non-sectarianism, and public ownership of the commanding heights of its economy. These are values that have traditionally been held high by the political left. Were the Syrian government to fall, it is almost certain that a US-client regime would be implanted in Damascus that would quickly adopt a pro-US foreign policy, abandon the Palestinians, capitulate to Israel, and cater to Western investors and corporations. The left project would, accordingly, be dealt a serious blow, and yet another state, dedicated to national liberation—not to say one with a sufficient democratic orientation to enshrine social rights in its constitution—would be crushed under the steamroller of US imperialism.

    1. Adam Entous, “White House readies new aid for Syrian rebels”, The Wall Street Journal, April 10, 2013.
    2. Anne Barnard, “Syria campaigns to persuade U.S. to change sides”, The New York Times, April 24, 2013.
    3. Gerald F. Seib, “The risks holding back Obama on Syria”, The Wall Street journal, May 6, 2013.
    4. Anthony Shadid, “Assad says he rejects West’s call to resign”, The New York Times, August 21, 2011.
    5. US Library of Congress. A Country Study: Syria. http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/sytoc.html
    6. December 2012.
    7. David M. Herszenhorn, “For Syria, Reliant on Russia for weapons and food, old bonds run deep”, The New York Times, February 18, 2012.
    8. Zeina Karam, “In rare public appearance, Syrian president denies role in Houla massacre”, The Associated Press, June 3, 2012.
    9. Bashar al-Assad May 19, 2013 interview with Clarin newspaper and Telam news agency
    10. Bashar al-Assad May 19, 2013 interview with Clarin newspaper and Telam news agency
    11. US State Department website. http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/3580.htm#econ. Accessed February 8, 2012.

    https://gowans.wordpress.com/2013/05...nd-the-rebels/

    Meanwhile Russian 'diplomacy' is at it again, trying to get the Syrian government to accede to it's own dismemberment.

    http://www.ecfr.eu/page/-/ECFR185_-_..._FOR_SYRIA.pdf
    "We say to the workers: 'You will have to go through fifteen, twenty, fifty years of civil wars and international wars, not only in order to change existing conditions, but also in order to change yourselves and fit yourselves for the exercise of political power."'

    MARX (On the Communist Trial at Cologne, 1851).

  15. #15
    More Russian treachery, but not what they're talking about.

    A state flag of the Syrian Arab Republic by an Orthodox church in an old Christian block of Aleppo, SyriaText of Draft Syrian Constitution Proposed by Russia Revealed © Sputnik/ Michael Alaeddin

    14:33 26.01.2017(updated 18:05 26.01.2017) Get short URL194139387

    Sputnik has obtained a document of the draft Syrian constitution proposed by the Russian delegation during the Astana talks.

    Earlier in the week, the draft Syrian constitution, prepared by Russian experts, was presented to the Syrian opposition during the settlement talks in the capital of Kazakhstan. Head of the Russian delegation Alexander Lavrentyev underlined that Russia was not interfering in consideration of constitution and presented the draft to the opposition simply in order to accelerate the process.

    Russian constitutional proposals for Syria that were handed over to the opposition during Astana talks suggest that the word "Arab" be removed from the official name of the country, the document obtained by Sputnik, reads.
    "The Syrian Republic is an independent democratic sovereign state based on the principles of people and supremacy of law and equality and social unity and respect of the rights and the liberties of all citizens without any differentiation. The names of the Syrian Republic and Syria are equal," Russian-proposed constitutional draft, obtained by Sputnik, reads.

    The document envisages changing Syria's borders only if the country's nationals support the move via a referendum.

    "Any loss of Syrian territories is not acceptable, change of state borders can only be allowed through a general referendum with the participation of all citizens and on the basis of the desire of the Syrian people."

    Russian proposals for Syria suggest that the Kurdish autonomies can use Kurdish and Arabic languages on equal rights.

    "The Arabic language is the official language and the way in which the official language is used will be specified by the law." "The Kurdish cultural self-ruling systems and its organizations use both the Arabic and Kurdish languages equally," the document reads.
    The documents suggest that the cultural diversity of the Syrian society must be ensured. "Upon the national heritage which promotes national unity, the cultural diversity of the Syrian society will be ensured."

    Moreover, the draft constitution proposed by Russia suggests extension of the Syrian parliament’s powers so that it could declare war, impeach the president and approve the head of the Central Bank.

    "The People’s Assembly will be responsible for … decisions on war and peace issues, the removal of the president from the office, appointment of the members of the Supreme Constitutional Court, appointment of the head of the Syrian National Bank and his dismissal from office."

    The document also suggests the Syrian army not to be allowed to interfere in politics or used as a means of oppression.

    "The [Syrian] armed forces and other armed units are under the society’s supervision and they will protect Syria and its territorial integrity. They should not be used as a means of oppression of Syrian people and interfere in the sphere of political interests. They do not play a role in the process of transition of power."

    The constitutional proposals for Syria suggest that international law should be a priority in case domestic law contradicts it. The document stipulates the supremacy of the international law.

    "The recognized principles and provisions of the international law and Syria’s international treaties are an integral part of its legal system. If an international treaty defines different rules than that of the Syrian law, then the rules of the international treaty will be used."

    Russian constitutional proposals for Syria that were presented to the opposition during Astana talks stipulate that all confessions and nationalities must be given equal representation in the government, the document obtained by Sputnik, reads.

    "The nomination to the posts of Vice Prime Minister and ministers shall adhere to the proportional representation of all ethnic and national factions of the Syrian population, while certain posts shall be preserved for national and sectarian minorities. The president and the prime minister have the right to consult in this regard with the representatives of the People’s Assembly and regions," Russian-proposed constitutional draft, obtained by Sputnik, reads.

    https://sputniknews.com/politics/201...-constitution/
    This is a blueprint for balkanization, which has been the aim of US capital all along. The proposal may have been presented by the Russian delegation but it was probably written in Langley.
    "We say to the workers: 'You will have to go through fifteen, twenty, fifty years of civil wars and international wars, not only in order to change existing conditions, but also in order to change yourselves and fit yourselves for the exercise of political power."'

    MARX (On the Communist Trial at Cologne, 1851).

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by blindpig View Post
    More Russian treachery, but not what they're talking about.



    This is a blueprint for balkanization, which has been the aim of US capital all along. The proposal may have been presented by the Russian delegation but it was probably written in Langley.
    This represents (as far as I can see) a total betrayal of the Syrian people. Point to an army in the world that does not reflect the coercive power of the nation it is the army of - it is the point of armies. For any outsider to tell the Syrian people that they must not use the word "Arab" in the title of their own nation, is so in believably imperial, Putin should wear an Obama mask when he speaks. Syria is not allowed to be an "Arab" state, but Israel proudly proclaims itself a "Jewish" state - double standards is not just bourgeois, it is particularly Anglo bourgeois. Putin in sucking up to some fine examples of humanism there. Christ! Just fucking Christ...
    "America was never great"

    "Anyone who analyzes the state of affairs in the world will find that it is the imperialists and capitalists, who subject the world to the worst poverty, the worst backwardness, and they are simply the scourge of mankind." - Fidel

    "Privilege begets psychopathy" - blindpig

  17. #17
    THOSE WHO TRANSMIT SYRIAN VOICES ARE RUSSIAN PROPAGANDISTS? FAKE NEWS NEGATE SYRIAN SUFFERING



    *In the old city of Homs, June 2014, speaking with Zeinat and Aymen al-Akhras who endured years of hell under the rule of militant factions. In May 2014, an agreement saw the reportedly 1,200 militants bussed out of Homs (as recently happened in Aleppo), bringing peace to the neighbourhoods they’d occupied and terrorized. Excerpt from my article on this visit and interviewing residents of the old city of Homs: “I dropped to 34 kilos. Aymen told me to weigh myself. I got on the scale and said, ‘What’s 34 kilos?’. A ten-year-old weighs more than that! And Aymen was 43 kilos. For a man, 43 kilos…”
    “We were twelve siblings with eight houses in the area, and the family house. We all had stores of food.”
    “Thirty-eight times they came to steal our food. The first couple of times, they knocked on the door, after that they just entered with guns. The last things they took were our dried peas, our cracked wheat, our olives, finally our za’atar (wild thyme). We started to eat grass and whatever greens we could find in February, 2014, and that’s all we had till Homs was liberated,”–Zeinat al-Akhras. Read: Liberated Homs Residents Challenge Notion of “Revolution”

    Russian Propagandists?

    Since it is a theme that those who report differently than the MSM war propaganda on Syria must therefore work for either & or Syria or Russia, I’ll address that in this brief post, drawing on some interviews and related material, since I continue to be incredibly busy.

    Some excerpts from: ‘If I write in line with Russian media, it’s because we both tell the truth’ – Eva Bartlett to RT, 17 Dec, 2016, RT

    “Some people have taken issue with the things I said because I was basically criticizing much of the corporate media reporting on Syria, and instead of actually digesting what I said and criticizing the details of what I said, people have gone to the usual tactic of trying to smear who I am and imply that I am an agent of either or both Syria and Russia,” Bartlett said, adding that it’s been openly implied she is on the payroll of the Syrian and Russian governments. The fact that she is an active contributor to RT’s op-edge section has also been jumped all over.

    “The fact that I do contribute to the RT op-edge section apparently, in some people’s eyes, makes me compromised. I began contributing to the RT op-edge section when I lived in Gaza, and this was not an issue for people who then appreciated my writing,” she stated.

    “What I am writing, and what I’m reporting, and who I am citing are Syrian civilians whom I’ve encountered in Syria.

    “If people do not wish to hear the voices of Syrian civilians and if they want to maintain their narrative which is in line with the NATO narrative – which is in line with destabilizing Syria and vilifying the government of Syria and ignoring the overwhelming wishes of the people of Syria – then they do this by accusing me of spreading propaganda,” the journalist stressed.

    “The fact that my writing is in line with the Syrian people… in some respect aligns with Russian media reports, does not mean that I’m reporting Russian propaganda, and it does not mean that what Russian media is reporting is propaganda. It happened to be that I report the truth as I see it on the ground, and some Russian media happen to report the truth as they see it on the ground.

    “Why do we not see these accusations when a BBC journalist goes to Syria and reports what I often believe to be not the full story? Why are they not accused of working for the State of England? Why are Al Jazeera journalists not accused of working for Qatar?”

    My Related Comments:

    *Please note, I do not have ‘my own blog’ on RT, as written in the RT overview of an interview I gave to the site (and as also alleged by a factually-challenged ‘fact check’ by Channel 4 News, the debunking of which will be out soon). In fact, the RT disclaimer at the bottom of Op-Edge contributions is clear: “The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.” How did the fact checkers at Channel 4 miss that?

    Since April 2013, I have contributed a total of 8 opinion pieces to RT’s Op-Edge section (3 of which were from or on Gaza, Occupied Palestine), an RT section which contains writings from over 70 authors.

    8 articles in a period of nearly 4 years, that’s not exactly “active” writing dedicated to RT. Take a look at some of the other authors who are indeed very active. In fact, to the claims that any of my writing is opportunism, wouldn’t one expect me to thus direct most of my articles to RT and get paid something (nothing compared to BBC, NYTimes or other fake news journalists), rather than instead directing my articles to a variety of lesser or not at all paying sources? I have no qualms about my scant contribution of opinion pieces to RT, but to paint me as ‘working’ for RT is a fact-checking error, one which I believe to be intentional.

    Further, Dr. Helen Caldicott and William Engdahl also contribute to RT Op-Edge. Will Channel 4 and other smear sites now claim they are working for Russia?

    Thus, I am not ’employed by’ RT, I contribute sporadically to RT, as well as more regularly to a host of independent media (21st Century Wire, SOTT.net, MintPressNews, Dissident Voice, and formerly: Al Akhbar English, American Herald Tribune, Zero Anthropology, and others).

    If not already glaringly clear, the intention of such ‘fact-check’ pieces is solely to discredit myself and others like me. And even though I strongly disagree with the lexicon of ‘civil war’ and ‘rebels’ frequently used in RT reports and commentaries, RT has been one of the few English-language media outlets to consistently have journalists on the ground, risking their lives to report the realities MSM would not report. I would encourage people to follow RT’s reports on Syria.



    *From June 2014, old city of Homs, interviewing Nazim Kanawati, who knew and was a friend of Father Frans van der Lugt and who arrived moments after the 75-year-old priest had been shot in the back of the head. From my article on this visit: “Father Frans was a peace-maker and played an important role in arranging the evacuation of civilians from the Old City during the siege. He was trusted by both sides, and didn’t distinguish between Christians and Muslims. He was concerned with humanity.” Like Father Frans, Kanawati refused to leave Homs while others fled. “I didn’t want to leave, I’m a Syrian, I had the right to be there.”



    *Entering Damascus neighbourhood by shared taxi from Beirut, Oct 2016.

    On Funding:

    Addressing the smear-tactic accusations that I’m funded by either or both the Syrian and/or Russian governments, for the sake of time I’ll share excerpts from a social media post I wrote not long ago:

    Writing truth doesn’t pay. Independent sites which are courageous enough to host the truth usually cannot afford to pay more than $50/article, or often nothing at all. But for those who have principles and are not writing about Syria and related issues for profit, this is irrelevant.

    So the obvious question that hacks have assumed they know the answer to: how do people like myself and colleagues manage to exist, if not being paid ridiculously-well per article as some in corporate media, often writing lies, are.

    In order to go to Syria many times, I have either saved money slowly and when able traveled to the country, or I have publicly fundraised. I travel the cheapest means, always with long layovers and inconvenient routes, but ensuring airfare that is far cheaper than those in corporate media traveling to Syria. Then again, that’s me making an assumption: perhaps they also flew economy from North America to Dubai (much further east than destination Beirut), slept on the airport floor, traveled back west to Beirut, stayed in the cheapest closet-sized rooms in the city or outside where it is cheaper, and took a shared taxi to Damascus.

    I’m aware of many colleagues like myself who live on the edge, sometimes down to the last dollars in their pockets until a meagre payment comes in for an article many hours/days worked on. Many I know have had to borrow money, as have I, in order to travel to Syria, or fundraise, or wait until we accumulate enough through writings and also the kind donations to our work by people who value it.


    *Castello road, shelled on Nov 4, 2016 by militants 7 times on humanitarian corridor day, twice while I was there.

    Independents Only Go To Safe Areas of Syria?

    This is another charge levied at independent journalists and others who go in solidarity to Syria to speak directly with Syrian people, instead of getting the story from the one man UK-based ‘observatory’, the SOHR, or from lying corporate media whose propaganda has been debunked and whose use of a photo from Iraq was highlighted by the photographer himself, disputing BBC’s allegations that the photo was in Ghouta, Syria.

    Government-secured areas of Syria are not free of danger: many have been or continue to be subject to terrorism, whether in the form of car bombings (as with the many times terror-attacked district of al-Zahra’a, Homs, which I visited some days after a major series of car and suicide bombings in December 2015 or as with the Akrama school in Homs, Oct 2014, killing at least 41 children, to cite 2 of endless examples. Some more examples here), rocket and mortar attacks, and snipings.

    On 6 visits to Syria, when back in Damascus I’ve stayed in the Old City and was in the midst of mortar attacks which in 2014 and 2015 were near-daily and quite heavy. In 2016, there were still mortar attacks but less than prior. That said, a dear friend lost her sister and that woman’s infant son to such a mortar attack in July 2016. The ‘moderate’ ‘rebels’ idea of ‘revolution’ is the indiscriminately shell civilian areas. These maimed children were a sampling of the injured (some critically so) when I visited Damascus’ University Hospital in February 2015. These children were injured in April 2014, when militants mortared their school in Old Damascus.

    Prior to its liberation, to enter Aleppo the sole route (with the exception of the August securing of Castello road) was via Ramouseh road, known for snipings and shelling from militant factions. I traveled that road 6 times (3 visits), in times when snipings had recently occurred. Traveling the Castello road even posed a danger, as I and colleague Vanessa Beeley learned in August 2016 when leaving Aleppo. The road was being mortared by militant factions and our simple taxi, while trying to speed along, was boxed in by other trucks also leaving.



    While in Taaouna this summer, taking the testimonies of survivors of the Aqrab massacre–perpetrated by the ‘moderates’ of the Free Syrian Army–there was great risk of shelling or sniping by the terrorists still occupying Aqrab. Of that visit, I wrote:
    “Yesterday, via a winding road through the Masyaf region hills, descending to the village of Ta’aouna, I met with residents of neighbouring Aqrab, which in December 2012 was attacked by the so-called “Free Syrian Army” who massacred between 120-150 Aqrab residents (more on their testimonies soon).

    Standing on the roof of the home to which three Aqrab survivors had come to give their testimonies, the village of Aqrab, roughly 500 metres away, was distinctly visible—as are any people in Ta’aouna who go rooftop (for laundry, water or other reasons) to terrorist snipers in the hills near Aqrab. The home owner pointed out holes from such snipers’ bullets prior.

    Two hundred metres down a lane, some fifteen houses remain inhabited by local Ta’aouna families (including children), in homes 300 metres from where terrorists and their snipers lie.

    When terrorists massacred villagers in Aqrab in December 2012, they were then known as “Free Syrian Army” terrorists.

    Now, occupied villages in the region comprise terrorists from Jabhat al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham, Jaysh al-Islam, and Da’esh (ISIS). As most Syrians I’ve met say, they are the same, with different names and financial backers, but commit the same heinous beheadings, assassinations, kidnappings and other western-sanctioned crimes in Syria.

    Rooftop the home closest to the dirt embankment beyond (this particular house uninhabited, although only 5 metres from the next inhabited one), Abu Abdo, a local defense volunteer explains how he and others in the village take night shifts to watch for attempted terrorist infiltrations. The Syrian Arab Army has hilltop posts around Ta’aouna, but nonetheless the village defenders (including many who are family men and formerly served in the SAA) watch to see if/where terrorists are shooting from/at. “We organized ourselves, since 2011. We communicate with the army and give them targets, and they do the same with us,” he says of the watch for terrorist attacks.

    We sit behind a wall of tires, some concrete blocks to one side serving as a defensive wall from behind which to watch for and shoot at terrorists. A second local defender appears, greets me with a friendly handshake, explains that in late 2013 terrorists managed to advance to the low hills to our right. But not since.

    I ask Abu Abdo what he did prior to the war on Syria. A school principal, and he still is, he does the defense volunteering after hours….

    They point to the land between Ta’aouna and the low hills flanking the village, and the start of Aqrab beyond.

    “That small cement building on the land, right near there, about one month ago, a university student was shot in his head and killed, by a terrorist sniper. He was an engineering student.”

    Earlier they’d told me about this, and about another university student who roughly 2 weeks ago was torn apart by shelling from terrorists in Aqrab. “He had just finished his exams,” they had said.

    Descending from the roof, we walk past a nearby house, the children on the porch stoop. The second defense soldier tells me, with a proud smile, they are his kids. He takes me to the side of the house to show three creatively covered holes, “Dushkie” shots from the terrorists about 10 days ago.” READ MORE ABOUT THAT VISIT HERE

    https://ingaza.wordpress.com/2017/01...ian-suffering/

    much more at link
    "We say to the workers: 'You will have to go through fifteen, twenty, fifty years of civil wars and international wars, not only in order to change existing conditions, but also in order to change yourselves and fit yourselves for the exercise of political power."'

    MARX (On the Communist Trial at Cologne, 1851).

  18. #18
    What’s Happening in Syria? The Media “Kills the Truth”, “Terrorism” is Described as “Moderate Opposition”: Eva Bartlett

    The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors”, and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment”. It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom — Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.

  19. #19
    Extrapolated Hearsay - Amnesty Report Claims Mass Executions, Provides No Proof

    A new Amnesty International report claims that the Syrian government hanged between 5,000 and 13,000 prisoners in a military prison in Syria. The evidence for that claim is flimsy, based on hearsay of anonymous people outside of Syria. The numbers themselves are extrapolations that no scientist or court would ever accept. It is tabloid reporting and fiction style writing from its title "Human Slaughterhouse" down to the last paragraph.

    But the Amnesty report is still not propagandish enough for the anti-Syrian media. Inevitably only the highest number in the range Amnesty claims is quoted. For some even that is not yet enough. The Associate Press agency, copied by many outlets, headlines: Report: At least 13,000 hanged in Syrian prison since 2011:

    BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian authorities have killed at least 13,000 people since the start of the 2011 uprising in mass hangings at a prison north of Damascus known to detainees as "the slaughterhouse," Amnesty International said in a report Tuesday.
    How does "at least 13,000" conforms to an already questionable report which claims "13,000" as the top number of a very wide range?

    Here is a link to the report.

    Before we look into some details this from the "Executive Summary":

    From December 2015 to December 2016, Amnesty International researched the patterns, sequence and scale of violations carried out at Saydnaya Military Prison (Saydnaya). In the course of this investigation, the organization interviewed 31 men who were detained at Saydnaya, four prison officials or guards who previously worked at Saydnaya, three former Syrian judges, three doctors who worked at Tishreen Military Hospital, four Syrian lawyers, 17 international and national experts on detention in Syria and 22 family members of people who were or still are detained at Saydnaya.
    ...
    On the basis of evidence from people who worked within the prison authorities at Saydnaya and witness testimony from detainees, Amnesty International estimates that between 5,000 and 13,000 people were extrajudicially executed at Saydnaya between September 2011 and December 2015.
    There are several difficulties with this report.

    1. Most of the witnesses are identified as opposition figures and "former" officials who do not live in Syria. Some are said to have been remotely interviewed in Syria but it is not clear if those were living in government or insurgent held areas. Page 9:

    The majority of these interviews took place in person in southern Turkey. The remaining interviews were conducted by telephone or through other remote means with interviewees still in Syria, or with individuals based in Lebanon, Jordan, European countries and the USA.
    It is well known that the Syrian insurgency is financed with several billion dollars per years from foreign state governments. It runs sophisticated propaganda operations. These witnesses all seem to have interests in condemning the Syrian government. Not once is an attempt made to provide a possibly divergent view. Amnesty found the persons it questioned by contacting international NGOs like itself and known foreign financed opposition (propaganda) groups:

    These groups include Urnammu for Justice and Human Rights, the Syrian Network for Human Rights, and the Syrian Institute for Justice and Accountability.
    2. The numbers Amnesty provides are in a very wide range. None are documented in lists or similar exhibits. They are solely based on hearsay and estimates of two witnesses:

    People who worked within the prison authorities at Saydnaya told Amnesty International that extrajudicial executions related to the crisis in Syria first began in September 2011. Since that time, the frequency with which they have been carried out has varied and increased. For the first four months, it was usual for between seven and 20 people to be executed every 10-15 days. For the following 11 months, between 20 and 50 people were executed once a week, usually on Monday nights. For the subsequent six months, groups of between 20 and 50 people were executed once or twice a week, usually on Monday and/or Wednesday nights. Witness testimony from detainees suggests that the executions were conducted at a similar – or even higher – rate at least until December 2015. Assuming that the death rate remained the same as the preceding period, Amnesty International estimates that between 5,000 and 13,000 people were extrajudicially executed at Saydnaya between September 2011 and December 2015.
    From "x to y", "once or twice a week", "suggests", "assuming" the headline numbers are simply extrapolated in in footnote 40 in a " back-of-the-envelope calculation. "If A were true then X would be B":

    These estimates were based on the following calculations. If between seven and 20 were killed every 10-15 days from September to December 2011, the total figure would be between 56 people and 240 people for that period. If between 20 and 50 were killed every week between January and November 2012, the total figure would be between 880 and 2,200 for that period. If between 20 and 50 people were killed in 222 execution sessions (assuming the executions were carried out twice a week twice a month and once a week once a month) between December 2012 and December 2015, the total figure would be between 4,400 and 11,100 for that period. These calculations produce a minimum figure of 5,336, rounded down to the nearest thousand as 5,000, and 13,540, rounded down to the nearest thousand as 13,000.
    2. I will not go into the details of witness statements on which the report is build. They seem at least exaggerated and are not verifiable at all. In the end it is pure hearsay on which Amnesty sets it conclusions. One example from page 25:

    “Hamid”, a former military officer when he was arrested in 2012, recalled the sounds he heard at night during an execution:
    "There was a sound of something being pulled out – like a piece of wood, I’m not sure – and then you would hear the sound of them being strangled… If you put your ears on the floor, you could hear the sound of a kind of gurgling. This would last around 10 minutes… We were sleeping on top of the sound of people choking to death. This was normal for me then."
    A court might accept 'sound of "I'm not sure" "kind of gurgling" noise through concrete' as proof that a shower was running somewhere. But as proof of executions?

    Of all the witnesses Amnesty says it interviewed only two, a former prison official and a former judge, who describe actual executions (page 25). From the wording of their statements it is unclear if they have witnessed any hangings themselves or just describe something they have been told of.

    3. The numbers of people Amnesty claims were executed are - at best - a wild ass guess. How come that Amnesty can name only very few of those? On page 30 of its report it says:

    Former detainees from the red building at Saydnaya provided Amnesty International with the names of 59 individuals who they witnessed being taken from their cells in the afternoon, being told that they were being transferred to civilian prisons in Syria. The evidence contained in this report strongly suggests that in fact, these individuals were extrajudicially executed.
    and

    Former prison guards and a former prison official from Saydnaya also provided Amnesty International with the names of 36 detainees who had been extrajudicially executed in Saydnaya since 2011.
    Those 95, some of whom may have been "executed" - or not, are the only ones Amnesty claims to be able to name. That is less than 1-2% of the reports central claim of 5,000 to 13,000 executed. All those witnesses could provide no more details of persons allegedly killed?

    Amnesty acknowledges that its numbers are bogus. Under the headline "Documented Deaths" on page 40 it then adds additional names and numbers to those above but these are not from executions:

    the exact number of deaths in Saydnaya is impossible to specify. However, the Syrian Network for Human Rights has verified and shared with Amnesty International the names of 375 individuals who have died in Saydnaya as a result of torture and other ill-treatment between March 2011 and October 2016. Of these, 317 were civilians at the time of their arrest, 39 were members of the Syrian military and 19 were members of non-state armed groups. In the course of the research for this report, Amnesty International obtained the names of 36 additional individuals who died as a result of torture and other ill-treatment in Saydnaya. These names were provided to Amnesty International by former detainees who witnessed the deaths in their cells
    The "torture" claims by the "Syrian Network for Human Rights" (SOHR), a group in the UK connected to British foreign intelligence, are also unverified. SOHR is known for labeling armed non-military Syrian insurgents (i.e. not foreigners) as "civilians" even if they die while fighting the government.

    Note that none of the mostly "civilians" SOHR claims to have died in the prison are claimed to have been executed. How is it possible that the organization frequently quoted in the media as reliable, detailed source of casualties in Syria has no record of the 5,000 to 13,000 Amnesty claims were executed?

    4. The report is padded up with before/after satellite pictures of enlarged graveyards in Syria. It claims that these are a sign of mass graves of government opponent. But there is zero evidence for that. Many people have died in Syria throughout the war on all sides of the conflict. The enlargement, for example, of the Martyrs Cemetery south of Damascus (p.29/30) is hardly a sign of mass killing of anti-government insurgents. Would those be honored as martyrs by the government side?

    5. In its Executive Summary the Amnesty report says that "Death sentences are approved by the Grand Mufti of Syria and ...". But there is no evidence provided of "approval" by the Grand Mufti in the details of the report. On page 19 it claims, based on two former prison and court officials:

    The judgement is sent by military post to the Grand Mufti of Syria and to either the Minister of Defence or the Chief of Staff of the Army, who are deputized to sign for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and who specify the date of the execution.
    It is very doubtful that the Syrian government would "deputize" or even inform the Grand Mufti in cases of criminal legal proceedings. Syria is a secular state. The Grand Mufti in Syria is be a civil legal authority for some followers of the Sunni Muslim religion in Syria but he has no official judiciary role. From the 2010 Swiss dissertation Models of Religious Freedom: Switzerland, the United States, and Syria quoted here:

    In Syria a mufti is a legal and religious expert (faqih and ‘alim) who has the power to give legally non-binding recommendations (sing. fatwa, pl. fatawa) in matters of Islamic law.
    ...
    Queries which are either sought by a shari‘a judge or private individuals regard the personal status laws of the Muslim community only. In the Arab Republic fatawa are given neither to public authorities nor to individual civil servants, ..
    Neither the Syrian constitution nor any Syrian law I can find refers to a role of the Grand Mufti in any military or civil criminal courts. The Amnesty claim "approved by the Grand Mufti of Syria"is not recorded anywhere else. It is very likely false. The Grand Mufti, Sheikh Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun, is a moderate, recognized and accomplished scholar. He should sue Amnesty for this slander.

    Syrian law includes a death penalty for certain severe and violent crimes. Before 2011 actual executions in Syria were very rare, most death sentences were commuted. Allegedly the laws were amended in late 2011, after the war in Syria had started, to include the death penalty as possible punishment for directly arming terrorists.

    It is quite likely that the Syrian military and/or civil judiciary hand out some death penalties against captured foreign and domestic "rebels" it finds them guilty of very severe crimes. It is fighting the Islamic State, al Qaeda and other extreme groups well known for mass murder and other extreme atrocities. It is likely that some of those sentences are applied. But the Syrian government has also provided amnesty to ten-thousands of "rebels" who fought the government but have laid down their arms.

    The claims in the Amnesty report are based on spurious and biased opposition accounts from outside of the country. The headline numbers of 5,000 to 13,000 are calculated on the base of unfounded hypotheticals. The report itself states that only 36 names of allegedly executed persons are known to Amnesty, less than the number of "witnesses" Amnesty claims to have interviewed. The high number of claimed execution together with the very low number of names is not plausible.

    The report does not even meet the lowest mark of scientific or legal veracity. It is pure biased propaganda.

    Posted by b on February 7, 2017 at 04:41 AM | Permalink

    http://www.moonofalabama.org/2017/02...t-hearsay.html
    "We say to the workers: 'You will have to go through fifteen, twenty, fifty years of civil wars and international wars, not only in order to change existing conditions, but also in order to change yourselves and fit yourselves for the exercise of political power."'

    MARX (On the Communist Trial at Cologne, 1851).

  20. #20
    Why is the media ignoring leaked US government documents about Syria?

    by Ian Sinclair
    Originally published in The New Arab, and then censored
    February 2017

    Discussing Western reporting of the Syrian war, veteran Middle East correspondent Patrick Cockburn recently noted “fabricated news and one-sided reporting have taken over the news agenda to a degree probably not seen since the First World War.” Professor Piers Robinson, Chair in Politics, Society and Political Journalism at the University of Sheffield, concurs, arguing “We must now seriously entertain the possibility that the war in Syria has involved similar, if not greater, levels of manipulation and propaganda than that which occurred in the case of the 2003 Iraq War”.

    An incredibly complex and confusing conflict with hundreds of opposition groups and multiple external actors often keen to hide many of their actions, how can journalists and the public get an accurate understanding of what is happening in Syria?

    As governments routinely use their public statements to deceive the public, traditionally leaked government documents have been seen as the gold standard of journalistic sources – a unique opportunity to see what those in power are really thinking and doing behind closed doors. “Policy-makers are usually frank about their real goals in the secret record”, notes British historian Mark Curtis in his book Unpeople: Britain’s Secret Human Rights Abuses.

    When it comes to Syria there have been a number of US government documents leaked about US policy in the region. However, though these disclosures were reported by the media at the time, they have been quickly forgotten and have not contributed to the dominant narrative that has built up about the conflict. As Professor Peter Kuznick noted about the American history he highlighted in The Untold History of the United States documentary series he co-wrote with director Oliver Stone, “the truth is that many of our ‘secrets’ have been hidden on the front page of the New York Times.”

    For example, liberal journalists and commentators have repeatedly stated the US has, as Paul Mason wrote in the Guardian last year, “stood aloof from the Syrian conflict.” The leaked audio recording of a meeting between President Obama’s second Secretary of State John Kerry and Syrian opposition figures last year shows the opposite to be true. Challenged about the level of US support to the insurgency, Kerry turns to his aide and says: “I think we’ve been putting an extraordinary amount of arms in, haven’t we?” The aide agrees, noting “the armed groups in Syria get a lot of support.”

    Amazingly, before noting the US had sent an “extraordinary amount of arms” to the rebels, Kerry tells the activists “we can always throw a lot of weapons in but I don’t think they are going to be good for you” because “everyone ups the ante” leading to “you all [getting] destroyed”. This explanation of the logic of escalation is repeated later in the meeting by Kerry’s aide, who notes “when you pump more weapons into a situation like Syria it doesn’t end well for Syrians because there is always somebody else willing to pump more weapons in for the other side.”

    A classified 2012 Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) report, published by the right-wing watchdog Judicial Watch, provides important context to Kerry’s remarks. In the heavily redacted document the DIA — the intelligence arm of the US Department of Defense — notes “the Salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI (al-Qaida in Iraq) are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria” and “The West, Gulf countries and Turkey support the opposition”. Speaking at a 2013 Jewish United Fund Advance & Major Gifts Dinner – the transcript of which was published by Wikileaks – former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton confirmed that US ally Saudi Arabia “and others are shipping large amounts of weapons—and pretty indiscriminately—not at all targeted toward the people that we think would be the more moderate, least likely, to cause problems in the future.”

    It gets worse. Discussing the crisis, the DIA report notes “There is the possibility of [the opposition] establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist Principality in Eastern Syria… and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime”.

    This appalling revelation was seemingly confirmed by General Michael T Flynn, the Director of the DIA from 2012-14 (and now National Security Advisor to President Trump), in a 2015 interview with Al-Jazeera’s Mehdi Hasan – and also, it seems, by Kerry when he told the Syrian activists:

    The reason Russia came in [to the conflict] is because ISIL [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] was getting stronger. Daesh [another name for ISIL] was threatening the possibility of going to Damascus and so forth… And we know that this was growing. We were watching. We saw that Daesh was growing in strength. And we though Assad was threatened. We thought, however, we could probably manage – you know, that Assad might then negotiate, but instead of negotiating he got Putin to support him.
    In summary, the leaked information wholly contradicts the popular picture of Western benevolent intentions let down by President Obama’s ineffective leadership and inaction. Instead the evidence shows the US has been sending an “extraordinary amount” of weapons to the armed insurgents in Syria in the full knowledge that Salafists, the Muslim Brotherhood, and al-Qaida in Iraq were the “major forces” driving the insurgency. They did this understanding that sending in weapons would escalate the fighting and not “end well for Syrians”. Furthermore, the US has long known that its regional ally Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states have been supporting extremists in Syria. And, most shocking of all if true, both Kerry and the DIA report seem to show the US allowed forerunners to ISIL and/or ISIL itself to expand and threaten the Syrian Government as this corresponded with the US’s geo-strategic objectives.

    More broadly, by highlighting how the US welcomed the growth of ISIL in Syria, the leaks fatally undermine the entire rationale of the ‘war on terror’ the West has supposedly been fighting since 2001. These are, in short, bombshells that should be front page news, with lengthy investigative follow ups and hundreds of op-eds outraged at the lies and hypocrisy of Western governments. Instead the disclosures have disappeared down the memory hole, with the ginormous gap between the importance of the revelations and the lack of coverage indicating a frighteningly efficient propaganda system.

    There is one very important caveat. I’m not an expert on Syria or the Middle East. There could well be important context or information that I am ignorant of which provides a different take on the leaked material, that lessens its importance and, therefore, justifies why the media has largely ignored them.

    Of course, the best way of confirming the accuracy and importance of the leaks is for the media to do its job and thoroughly investigate the disclosures, devote significant resources and manpower to the story and ask awkward and searching questions of established power.

    I’m not holding my breath.

    https://ianjsinclair.wordpress.com/
    "We say to the workers: 'You will have to go through fifteen, twenty, fifty years of civil wars and international wars, not only in order to change existing conditions, but also in order to change yourselves and fit yourselves for the exercise of political power."'

    MARX (On the Communist Trial at Cologne, 1851).

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