"All military personnel, from low ranking GI’s to the top generals and admirals, have an obligation to disobey illegal orders. Orders to carry out acts of war against a sovereign nation that is not threatening the U.S. are illegal orders." Jerry Condon, Veterans for Peace. This leading veterans’ organization is warning that a U.S. attack on Syria could lead to a nuclear war. Russian military forces in Syria will undoubtedly be among the targets of U.S. missiles. Russia has said it will shoot down U.S. missiles, and attack the “platforms from which they are fired,” i.e. U.S. ships.
US Veterans call for military personnel to disobey illegal orders to make war on sovereign powers.
“Why the rush to war?” asked Gerry Condon, president of Veterans For Peace. “Why is the mass media cheerleading for war instead of asking hard questions? Why are Democratic and Republican politicians trying to out-do one another with calls for ever more massive attacks on Syria?
“There is no proof yet of a Syrian government gas attack, only a video made by a fundamentalist rebel group that wants more U.S. intervention. Even if the reports are true, a military response will only lead to more death and destruction, and dangerous escalations.
“We are talking about a direct confrontation between the two nuclear superpowers,” said Gerry Condon. “Why would the U.S. risk nuclear war over dubious chemical weapons claims?
“Veterans have longer memories than the press and the politicians,” said Condon. “We remember how we were lied into the Iraq War with false reports of ‘weapons of mass destruction.’ U.S. wars throughout the Middle East have caused millions of deaths and destroyed entire societies. Our soldiers and their families have also paid an extremely high price.”
“Veterans, GI’s and their families will not accept another war based on lies,” said Gerry Condon. “We will be protesting in the streets, in the suites, at media outlets and at military bases.
All military personnel, from low ranking GI’s to the top generals and admirals, have an obligation to disobey illegal orders. Orders to carry out acts of war against a sovereign nation that is not threatening the U.S. are illegal orders.
“We swore an oath to defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic,” said Gerry Condon, president of Veterans For Peace. “Right now those enemies are those who would rush our country recklessly into another devastating war.”
Lee Camp, of Redacted Tonight, speaks with Eva Bartlett, who explains everything about the so-called Syrian war that the US war machine and the Australian Government doesn’t want you to know. Camp is a comedian with his own show, but he has made a special video of this interview. (Video inside article)
This letter to a high profile pacifist on a Canadian peace activism email list highlights the problem within the international peace movement where some 'leaders' turn a blind eye to the egregious flouting of international law by the United States, NATO and their allies. You would think that peace activists would be highly informed on the propaganda aspect of war, and the role of mainstream press in this, but it seems that this basic education is lacking even in the upper echelons of the movement. By ignoring the illegality of recent attacks on Syria, some in the movement have again helped brutal Takfiris in their effort to take-over secular Syria. Peggy Mason is President of the Rideau Institute of which Ceasefire Canada is an arm. Ken Stone is Treasurer, of the Canadian Hamilton Coalition To Stop The War.
Thank you for your prompt reply and your admission that you were wrong to to conclude, before an investigation took place, that President Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the April 4th gas attack at Khan Sheikhoun, Syria.
It’s unfortunate that you don’t wish to debate the widely different attitudes within the peace movement towards the US missile strike on the Shayat Airbase in Syria. Nonetheless, the Canadian peace movement still has to consider the issues you don’t want to debate.
In your reply, you touched on the key issue of investigation and judgment before any consequential action should take place. However, in your original e-mail message to the “peace listserver”, you wrote that “Putin has said he will agree to an independent investigation. Tillerson should nail this down.”
I think you have got things backwards. US Secretary of State Tillerson did not wait for (or even call for) an independent investigation of the April 4 incident. Rather, on his watch, his country rushed to engage in an act of war on the sovereign country of Syria which killed several civilians and pushed us towards a wider war in the Middle East, while Putin (as you noted) did call for an independent investigation.
So, here is where we have a difference. In my opinion and that of our Hamilton Coalition To Stop The War, the peace movement in Canada needs to be clear and consistent about international law. No country is above that law. The USA and its coalition partners, including Canada, are violating international law by overflying and stationing military forces in the sovereign country of Syria without the permission of the Syrian government. They are also violating international law by inserting, funding, and arming proxy armies of terrorist mercenaries to achieve regime change in Syria. They have levelled onerous economic sanctions upon Syria, causing great distress to the Syrian people, without the approval of the UN Security Council. The US-led coalition used military force against the Syrian government in its attack on Sharyat Airbase on April 7, 2017.
Where we have another difference with the Rideau Institute and Ceasefire is that you have decided to put pressure on the wrong parties. You seem to want to hold the Russian government to account when it appears that it had no hand in the incident and although its military forces are legally stationed in Syria at the invitation of the Syrian government. Moreover, you seem to be deeply invested in the campaign to delegitimize the Syrian government and to demonize its elected president.
Neither of your approaches is helpful. And these are very important matters which should be aired in public.
Another important point: what have you, the Rideau Institute, and Ceasefire said about the performance of Prime Minister Trudeau in the context of Khan Sheikhoun? Trudeau initially called for an investigation into the claims of a gas attack. Then, less than 24 hours later, he endorsed the USA cruise missile strike on Syria's Sharyat airbase. Now, his Minister of Global Affairs, Chrystia Freeland, imposes new unilateral sanctions on Syria, which are illegal under international law, because they lack the approval of the United Nations Security Council. Your comments would be appreciated by our Coalition members.
Finally my parting comment on your parting comment that (you) are “paying your dues every day” in the peace movement. As far as I know, you are paid a salary. Am I wrong?
Hamilton Coalition To Stop The War
Recording of a timely and important interview with Tony Kevin, author of Return to Moscow UWA 2017. As a young Australian diplomat, Tony Kevin visited Brezhnev's Soviet Union in from 1969-1971. He returned on official business in 1985 when Chernenko was in power, then again, very briefly, in 1990. During these times he was not able to get to know the Russians due to the policy of both governments against fraternisation, thus Russia ironically became a source of growing fascination for him. He continued to inform his fascination from many sources, always at a distance. Concerned today by the threat to peace from US-NATO anti-Russian propaganda, and more fascinated by Russia than ever, he returned on his own to Russia (no longer the Soviet Union, of course) in 2016. Return to Moscow examines past and present attitudes to the people of Russia and to its leaders through empathic eyes and an understanding of the change in geopolitics from cold war to US interventionist.
On Putin: "Not since Britain's concentrated personal loathing of their great strategic enemy Napoleon in the Napoleonic wars was so much animosity brought to bear on one leader. Propaganda and demeaning language against Putin became more systemic, sustained and near universal in Western foreign policy and media communities than had ever been directed against any Soviet communist leader at the height of the Cold War. This hostile campaign evoked an effective defensive global media strategy by Russia. [...] A new kind of information Cold War took shape, with - paradoxically - Western media voices more and more speaking with one disciplined Soviet-style voice, and Russian counter voices fresher, more diverse and more agile." [Cited from Tony Kevin's book.] The interview in the video took place at Russia House in Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia. It was organised by Claire Woods of the Traveller's Bookstore. The interviewer was Associate Professor Judith Armstrong, former head of European Languages Department at Melbourne University.
JON FAINE: "Russia's found it can't match the west militarily. It can't match the west financially. It can't match the west in industrial design, invention and technology, but it can undo the west through the west's Archilles' heel - democracy."
TONY KEVIN: "No. Russia can match the west militarily. It has a huge nuclear deterrent. We tend to talk among ourselves as though that doesn't exist anymore. It's as if we've all said, 'if we don't talk about nuclear weapons, they won't be there.' But they are there. There are militaries on both sides of the frontier training all the time in how to use tactical weapons. This is the world we live in. And Russia has also gained the great command of this country that used to be clunky and used to be unable to keep up with the west technologically. They're now world leaders in handling information technology, as you know."
Back to the video of the Russia House talk: In response to a question from the audience, Tony Kevin concludes his interview with this statement:
"And I say it here and I say it because of Jon Faine: Syria is one of the points where World War 3 could start. The other two are Ukraine and the Balkan states, on the border of Russia, because, in all these situations, there's a lack of understanding, of comprehension of the other side's point of view. There's a self-righteousness and there's a - I think if Hillary Clinton had been elected president, we would already have war involving the west, Russia, and Syria. That's how bad it is. [...] I know Russia's got a very bad press on Syria, but my position is that Russia is there at the request of a sovereign government, which is run by a man called President Assad, which has a seat in the United Nations, and Russia is trying to help that government hold that country together. And, what are we doing in Syria? We seem to be supporting a change in cast of opposition elements, many of whom we don't really know what their politics are, some of whom are extremely unpleasant people, who do extremely unpleasant things. And, so Syria is a mess. But I'm glad that Russia is trying to help bring about some peace and order in Syria."
Yes, Return to Russia is a very important book, with its author in a position of unique authority, given the perspective of his age and his experience of different epoques in Russia and western deep state international policies. Fortunately it will be hard for the Establishment to completely bury his opinion, so lucidly expressed.
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. Article originally published at Moon of Alabama. Sources of pictures and enlargements also available there.
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.
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.
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.
Posted by b on January 2, 2017 at 02:42 PM | Permalink
Rally at 1.30pm. This Saturday 24 September 2016, Martin Place (Railway Station outside MLC Centre), Sydney City.
Rally at 1:30pm
This Saturday 24 September 2016
Martin Place (railway station, outside MLC Centre)
HANDS OFF SYRIA strongly condemn the recent massacre of at least 62 Syrian soldiers (and another 100 wounded) in Deir al Zour, Syria.
US and Australian governments have admitted the soldiers were killed on the 17th of September by a joint operation carried out by the US air force in collusion with the Australian military. The martyred Syrian soldiers were guarding a military fortification
used as a base for repelling attacks by the Islamic State death-squads who completely surround the city.
People across the world are finding it extremely hard to believe that this attack was a "mistake" or an "accident".
Why? Because these actions are entirely consistent with US-led attempts to topple the Syrian government by covertly (or in this case overtly) supporting their enemies - these policies have resurrected Al Qaeda and its offshoots
Whether the massacre was ‘accidental’ or deliberate should be determined by an independent war crimes tribunal. Assertion by the perpetrators, ‘sorry, we didn’t mean it’, is completely inadequate.
1. We demand that Australia remove itself from the alliance of predatory nations currently waging this proxy-war against the Syrian government.
2. We demand that Australia reestablish diplomatic relations with the Syrian government who by all accounts represent the will of the majority of the Syrian people.
3. We demand that Australia lift the crippling economic sanctions on Syria that are blocking normal trade, finance and the diaspora from supporting their families at home.
At the recent annual convention of Veterans for Peace, VFP Vice President Jerry Condon said “The US peace movement has been demobilized by disinformation on Syria.”
Disinformation and propaganda on Syria takes three distinct forms. The first is the demonization of the Syrian leadership. The second is the romanticization of the opposition. The third form involves attacking anyone questioning the preceding characterizations.
This article was first published at Counterpunch on 6 August 2016.
There is a recent article which exemplifies all three of these forms. It is titled “Anti-Imperialism and the Syrian Revolution” by Ashley Smith of the International Socialist Organization (ISO). It’s a remarkable piece of misinformation and faulty analysis. Because it is clear and well written, it is likely to mislead people who are not well informed on the facts regarding Syria. Hence the importance of critically reviewing it.
Technique 1: Demonize the enemy … “the Syrian regime and its brutal dictator”
Smith starts off posing the question: Are you with the Syrian revolution or the brutal Assad dictatorship? The way he frames it, it’s not a difficult choice: yay for the revolution!
Like these false options, Ashley Smith’s article is a fairy tale devoid of reality. His bias is shown as he criticizes the Left for ignoring “Assad’s massacre of some 400,000 Syrians”. Included in this death count are 100 – 150 thousand Syrian soldiers and allies. Ashley blames Assad instead of the armed opposition for killing Syrian soldiers!
Another example of false propaganda is the discussion of the chemical weapons attack that took place on August 21, 2013 in outer Damascus. Neoconservatives speak of this event as “proving” Assad’s brutality – “killing his own people” – as well as the “failure” of President Obama to enforce his “red line”. Ashley aligns with the neocons as he says “Barack Obama came under pressure to intervene militarily in Syria after the regime carried out a chemical weapons attack in a suburb of Damascus in 2013, but he backed a Russian-brokered resolution that protected Assad.”
In reality, the Damascus sarin gas attack was carried out by an opposition group with the goal of forcing the U.S. to directly attack the Syrian government. Soon after the event, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity issued a statement reporting “the most reliable intelligence shows that Bashar al-Assad was NOT responsible for the chemical incident”. Later on, Seymour Hersh wrote two lengthy investigations pointing to Jabhat al Nusra with Turkish support being culpable. Investigative journalist Robert Parry exposed the Human Rights Watch analysis blaming the Syrian government as a “junk heap of bad evidence”. In the Turkish parliament, Turkish deputies presented documents showing that Turkey provided sarin to Syrian “rebels”. A detailed examination and analysis of all fact based stories in online at whoghouta.blogspot.com. Their conclusion is that “The only plausible scenario that fits the evidence is an attack by opposition forces.”
Ashley Smith accuses the Syrian government of widespread torture. His main example is the case of Syrian Canadian Maher Arar who was arrested by US authorities in collusion with Canadian authorities, then rendered to Syria for interrogation in 2002. Arar was beaten during the initial weeks of his interrogation in Syria. After ten months imprisonment, Syrian authorities determined he was not a terrorist and sent him back to Canada. Arar received an official apology and $10 Million from the Canadian government.
The most highly publicized accusation of rampant torture and murder by Syrian authorities is the case of “Caesar”. The individual known as “Caesar” was presented as a defecting Syrian photographer who had 55,000 photos documenting 11,000 Syrians tortured by the brutal Assad dictatorship. At the time, among mainstream media only the Christian Science Monitor was skeptical, describing it as “a well timed propaganda exercise”. In the past year it has been discovered that nearly half the photos show the opposite of what is claimed. The Caesar story is essentially a fraud funded by Qatar with ‘for hire’ lawyers giving it a professional veneer and massive mainstream media promotion.
While western media routinely refers to Assad as a dictator, in fact he is elected and popular with the majority of Syrians. Although not wealthy, Syria was largely self-sufficient with a semi-socialist state apparatus including free health-care, free education and large industries 51% owned by the state. You do not see pervasive western fast food, banks, and other corporate entities in Syrian cities. In the wake of protests, the government pushed through reforms which ended the one party system. There are now political parties across the political spectrum. These are a genuine ‘moderate opposition’. The June 2014 election confirmed Assad’s popularity despite the denials of those who have never been there.
Technique 2: Romanticize the opposition … “the Syrian Revolution”
Ashley Smith echoes mainstream media which portrays the conflict as a “civil war” which began with peaceful democratic loving Syrian revolutionaries beaten by a brutal regime.
In reality there was a violent faction from the start. In the first protests in Deraa seven police were killed. Two weeks later there was a massacre of 60 security forces in Deraa. In Homs, an eye-witness recounted the situation: “From the start, the protest movements were not purely peaceful. From the start I saw armed demonstrators marching along in the protests, who began to shoot at the police first. Very often the violence of the security forces has been a reaction to the brutal violence of the armed rebels.” In the first two months, hundreds of police and security forces were killed.
Ashley and company listen to Americans and British citizens and mistakenly believe they are listening to real Syrians. Some of these people left Syria at age 3. Some of them have never lived in Syria. Thus you have fantasy portrayals such as “Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War”. A more realistic picture is given by a Syrian who still lives in Aleppo. He writes under the name “Edward Dark” and describes how he and his friends quickly regretted the take-over of Aleppo by armed groups in summer 2012. He describes one friend’s reaction as the reality was hitting home: “How could we have been so stupid? We were betrayed!”. And another says: “Tell your children someday that we once had a beautiful country, but we destroyed it because of our ignorance and hatred.” Edward Dark is a harsh critic of President Assad and Baath Party. He is also naive regarding the role of US Ambassador Robert Ford. But his description of early protesters and the arrival of armed opposition rings true and more authentic than the portrayal of Yassin-Kassab and Al Shami.
In fact many of the idealized “Syrian revolutionaries” promoted by the authors of “Burning Country” are trained and paid agents of the US and UK. The Aleppo Media Center which produces many of the videos is a US creation. The White Helmets which purport to be Syrian, independent and unarmed first responders are a creation of the US and UK. The banner boys from Kafranbel are another western funded operation. In her book about her time as Secretary of State, Clinton boasts of providing “training for more than a thousand activists, students, and independent journalists” (p. 464).
Why do the enemies of Syria create such organizations? Partly as a way to channel money and support to the armed opposition. Also to serve as propaganda tools to confuse the situation and generate support for the real goal: regime change. For example, White Helmets mostly work in areas dominated by the Syrian Al Qaeda. Unlike legitimate organizations such as the Red Crescent, they never work in areas controlled by the government. And they are also active on the propaganda front, continually pushing for US / NATO intervention via a “no fly zone”. The misinformation of Ashley Smith and ISO confuses unwitting people and helps the enemies of Syria in their drive for regime change.
In contrast with the romanticized delusions of Ashley Smith and the authors of “Burning Country”, the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency gave an accurate assessment in August 2012:
“ EVENTS ARE TAKING A CLEAR SECTARIAN DIRECTION. THE SALAFIST, THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD AND AQI ARE THE MAJOR FORCES DRIVING THE INSURGENCY IN SYRIA.”
Technique 3: Attack Those who Question the Dogma … “You’re an Assad supporter!”
Ashley Smith does not criticize the NATO and Gulf states that are violating international law and the UN charter by funding and supplying a proxy army to attack Syria. Instead, he criticizes left groups who oppose the aggression. That is a sign of how far off track ISO is. They did the same thing regarding Libya and have evidently learned nothing from that disaster. Ashley Smith should go and tour Libya now to savor the “revolution” he promoted.
Ashley Smith’s theme with respect to Syria (peaceful popular uprising against brutal dictator) is the same theme promoted by neoconservatives and the mainstream media. When they encounter a different perspective, they cry out, “You are an Assad supporter!”. Never mind that many genuine progressives do not say that. What we say is that it’s for the Syrian people to determine their government, not foreigners.
Smith criticizes the British Stop the War coalition for having “adapted to Assad supporters” and for “giving a platform to allies of the dictatorship”, specifically “regime apologist Mother Superior Agnes Mariam”. Smith is misinformed on this issue also, but it is doubly revealing. In fact, Mother Agnes was hosted on the tour by Syria Solidarity Movement. When she was in London, she was invited to speak at a Stop the War rally. To his great discredit, the keynote speaker Jeremy Scahill, who is closely aligned with ISO, threatened to withdraw from the conference if Mother Agnes spoke. Scahill has done great journalistic work exposing Blackwater and Drone Warfare. However that does not excuse the complicity leading to blackmail regarding a Palestinian Lebanese nun who has shown immense courage in promoting reconciliation and peace in Syria. However, that action is typical of some misguided “socialist” groups, the Muslim Brotherhood and their allies. Mother Agnes was verbally attacked and abused by these groups throughout her tour, which otherwise met with great success. Mother Agnes has lived in Syria for over twenty years. She consistently says that Syria needs reform, but you don’t do that by destroying it.
Ashley Smith goes on to criticize the US Peace Council for recently sending a delegation to Syria and having the audacity to talk with “Assad and his henchmen”. He sounds like the right wing hawks who denounced Jane Fonda for going to North Vietnam in the 1970’s. Smith displays a dogmatic and closed-minded view; what kind of “international socialism” does he represent?
Smith criticizes Green Party candidates Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka for “remaining silent about Putin’s and Assad’s atrocities”. This is another measure of how far off track the ISO is. They evidently are not aware of international law or they don’t care about it. The Assad government has a right to defend itself against terrorist attacks which are sponsored, funded and supplied by foreign governments.
Syria also has a right to request help from Russia and Iran. But with tunnel-vision dogma, Ashley Smith and ISO do not care. They seem to be supporting instead of opposing imperialist aggression, violations of international law, and the death and destruction these have led to.
Ashley disparages the Syrian government and people who have continued to fight against the forces of sectarianism promoted by NATO, Israel and the Gulf monarchies. Ashley and ISO would do well to send some people to see the reality of Syria. They would find it very different than their fevered imagination or what they have been led to believe by fake Syrians and Muslim Brotherhood dogmatists.
Genuine progressives are not “Assad supporters”. Rather, we are opponents of imperialist aggression and supporters of international law–which says it’s the right of Syrians to determine who leads them. That would mean real Syrians, not those raised in or paid by the West.
Ashley Smith’s Inaccurate Overall Analysis
Ashley Smith gives a very inaccurate analysis of the overall geopolitical situation in Syria and beyond.
He says “The US has been seeking a resolution that might push Assad aside, but that above all maintains his regime in power”. He goes on to say ‘U.S. policy from the beginning has been to preserve the core of Assad’s state.” Ashley believes “the U.S. has retreated in general from outright regime change as its strategy in the Middle East”.
This is absurd. In reality the US and allies Israel and Saudi Arabia have been pushing for ‘regime change’ in Syria for over a decade. In 2005 CNN host Christiane Amanpour expressed the situation bluntly:
“Mr. President, you know the rhetoric of regime change is headed towards you from the United States. They are actively looking for a new Syrian leader. They’re granting visas and visits to Syrian opposition politicians. They’re talking about isolating you diplomatically and, perhaps, a coup d’etat or your regime crumbling. What are you thinking about that?”
In 2007, Seymour Hersh wrote about the destabilization efforts in his article “The Redirection”.
In 2010, Secretary of State Clinton spoke of “changing Syria’s behavior” and threatened“President Assad is making decisions that could mean war or peace for the region …. We know he’s hearing from Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas. It is crucial that he also hear directly from us, so that the potential consequences of his actions are clear.”
Secretary Clinton appointed Robert Ford to become US Ambassador to Syria. Ford was previously the chief political officer in Baghdad for Ambassador John Negroponte. Who is John Negroponte? He was Ambassador to Honduras overseeing the Nicaraguan Contras and El Salvador death squads in the 1980’s. Negroponte’s arrival in Iraq in 2004 led to ‘the El Salvador option’ (sectarian death squads) in Iraq.
Since the conflict in Syria began in 2011 the US has spent many billions of dollars trying to overthrow the Syrian government or force it to change policy. The supply of sophisticated and deadly weaponry continues. In April 2016 it was reported that the US recently supplied 994 TONS of sophisticated rocket launchers, anti tank and other heavy weapons to “moderate rebels” who ally with the Syrian Al Qaeda ( Jabhat al Nusra recently renamed Jabhat Fatah al Sham).
Ashley’s theory that the US is intent on “preserving” the Syrian state and the US has “given up” on regime change is not supported by the facts.
Ashley continues the faulty analysis by saying “the U.S. is solely and obsessively focused on defeating this counterrevolutionary force (ISIS) in Iraq and Syria” and “the Obama administration has struck a de facto alliance with Russia”.
This is more theory without evidence. The US coalition was doing little to stop ISIS and looked the other way as ISIS went across the open desert to attack and occupy Palmyra. They were similarly looking the other way as ISIS sent hundreds of trucks filled with oil from eastern Syria into Turkey each day. It was not until Russia entered the scene in support of Syria one year ago, that the US coalition got embarrassed into actually attacking ISIS. As to a “de facto alliance”, this is what Russia has implored the US to do, largely without response. In the past two weeks the U.S. has threatened Russian and Syrian planes not to attack US ground forces inside Syria and refused to come to agreement with Russia that “moderate rebels” working with acknowledged terrorists are not “moderate” and can be targeted.
The Obama administration is trying to prevent the collapse of the regime change project by stalling and delay. Perhaps they wish to keep the project alive for a more aggressive US policy. Hillary Clinton continues to talk about a “no fly zone”. Her allies in Congress have recently initiated HR5732 which will escalate economic and financial sanctions against Syria and assess the implementation of a “no fly zone”.
Ashley Smith suggests that large portions of the US left have been avidly supporting “oppressive regimes” such as Syria and Iran. He mocks those on the left who suggested the Iranian ‘green movement’ was US-influenced. His mockery is exposed as ignorance by none other than Hillary Clinton herself. In her book “Hard Choices” she recounts how they arranged for Twitter to postpone a system upgrade which would have taken the social media giant offline at a critical time, right after the 2009 Iranian election. Hillary and her group at the State Dept were actively promoting the protests in Iran.
Dangerous Times Ahead
Some middle east analysts have made the faulty analysis that Israel is not involved in the aggression against Syria. In reality, Israeli interests are at the core of the US policy against Syria. The Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. was explicit: “Israel wanted Assad gone since start of civil war”. He also said “bad guys supported by Iran” are worse than “bad guys not supported by Iran”. In other words, Israel prefers chaos and Al Qaeda to a stable independent Syria.
Saudi Arabia is the other key U.S. ally seeking overthrow in Syria. With its close connections to the oil industry, military industrial complex and Wall Street, Saudi Arabia has enormous influence in Washington. It has been mercilessly bombing Yemen for the last 18 months and continues funding and promoting the proxy war against Syria.
Both Saudi Arabia and Israel seek the same thing: breaking the resistance alliance which runs from Iran through Syria to Lebanon. They are in alliance with US neoconservatives who still dream of “a new American Century” where the US fights multiple wars to enforce its exceptional and sole supremacy. Along with some other countries, these are the forces of reaction violating international law and promoting the war against Syria.
The tide is turning against the forces pushing for ‘regime change’ in Syria. But they have not yet given up and may even escalate. Now is when progressives in the West need to raise our voices in opposition to this aggression. Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka can hopefully bring much more attention to this critical issue. Bernie Sanders and his supporters need to speak out against Hillary Clinton’s statements and plans.
There are good people in ISO which does good work in many areas. We hope they will re-examine their assumptions, beliefs and actions regarding Syria. In the dangerous times ahead, we need them to be resisting the drive to war in Syria, not condoning or supporting it.
Video and translation: This comment by Putin, about United States aggression and its abandonment of protocol to limit the risk of nuclear destruction, was made to representatives of various media outlets during the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, in June 2016. It was filmed and has been translated by Inessa S and we have imbedded the video in the article with her translation. It seems particularly timely to publish this in the wake of the release of Hillary Clinton's lost emails. "Nobody has anything to gain from a nuclear stand-off against Russia. The power hungry decision-makers are few in number, but powerful enough to have subverted mainstream media to misrepresent Russia as the main threat to international security." (Vladimir Putin).
Nobody has anything to gain from a nuclear stand-off against Russia. The power hungry decision-makers are few in number, but powerful enough to have subverted mainstream media to misrepresent Russia as the main threat to international security.
If you are a journalist or a blogger, please do your part and share this message. Time is of the essence , especially in light of the recent NATO summit in Warsaw (July 2016) where the alliance stipulated that Russia is the main threat to international security (did you think that might be ISIS?) YouTube would not let me upload the video I did on the Summit, but it can be found on my Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/174777588
Back in 2007, Putin informed the Western world that Russia will develop its weaponry to counter US advances. This was said in response to the US missile defense system that was starting to be developed at the time (previously prohibited in international law.)
With the NATO missile defense system on Russia’s doorstep – the threat to international security is very real; not that you would know it via mainstream Murdoch media.
In 2002, the United States unilaterally and without consultation, withdrew from the landmark Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. President George W. Bush noted that the treaty is “now behind us,” describing the ABM Treaty as a Cold War relic.
Signed in 1972, the ABM Treaty barred both the US and the USSR from deploying national defenses against long-range ballistic missiles. The treaty was based on the premise that if either superpower constructed a strategic defense, the other would build up its offensive nuclear forces to offset the defense.
The superpowers would therefore quickly be put on a path toward a never-ending offensive-defensive arms race, as each tried to balance its counterpart’s actions. Until Bush took office, the Treaty was referred to as a “cornerstone of strategic stability” because it facilitated later agreements, reducing U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear arsenals.
The US, assuming that a weakened Russia will never again be in a position to counter US hegemonic power, proceeded to encroach on Russia’s borders through its manipulation of NATO objectives.
Today, there is no instrument in international law that prevents the possibility of mutually assured destruction. Putin has been sending out warnings for over 10 years – all of which fell on deaf ears. Who will push the button first?
Here is a brief update on the activities of the US Peace Council delegation in Syria. We went to Ma'alula today [29 July 2016] and tomorrow most of us will fly home. I could spend many words and hours debunking every lie you have been told about Syria and Syrians in the last 5 years, a Sisyphean task in today’s environment. Instead I will share some of my perceptions of recent events based on my experiences in Damascus this week.
Yesterday [28 July] was quite an interesting day. We met with President Assad in the morning and talked at some length. We began by exchanging introductions and then we asked him some very serious questions. We were not allowed to record the session but many of us took at least some notes. He told us that his strongest focus is on representing the Syrian people and holding the state together on their behalf. He described numerous programs the Syrian state has enacted to protect the people during this very difficult time. The government has converted schools and other buildings into refugee centers. They continue to provide, to the best of their ability, free education and medical care to everyone in the government held areas; they supply power, clean water and food even to areas that are occupied by militants where it is possible.
And he proudly told us that the Syrian Arab Army, an army of the people which is defending the country against a brutal attack, have finally closed the road from Aleppo to Turkey. This is very important because the militants in East Aleppo, and especially Al Nusra Front, the Syrian branch of Al Qaeda, have been receiving money and weapons from Turkey. He then told us that he had just issued the order to implement the humanitarian corridors and amnesty for Syrian nationals. He said that there are two ways to deplete the violence. The first is to fight to the bitter end. The other is to provide an incentive for people to stop fighting and give them a safe passage back to the lives they have left.
These are the first steps in the reconciliation plan which the Reconciliation Minister had talked about extensively, and which was cited by many others we spoke to as the best thinking to restore peace to Syria. We had already had two extended meetings with the Minister of Reconciliation, one in his office and the other over dinner at our hotel where he explained the methodology for reconciliation which they have been developing for some time. Amnesty and humanitarian aid are just the beginning. Evacuating as many civilians as possible is a temporary step to secure their welfare while negotiations are ongoing.
They used this process quite successfully in Homs last winter when they evacuated thousands of fighters and their families from neighborhoods they have long held hostage. Many were bused to Idlib where they may well resume fighting, but a densely populated areas of Homs is now secure and the civilians are able to live their lives in peace. The tens of thousands of citizens who remained were provided humanitarian relief and basic needs with reconstruction assistance on the horizon. You can see the video I posted on my blog at the time when they joyously welcomed the Syrian Arab Army. Minister Haidar admitted that Reconciliation plans are a work in progress and problems do occur. He also explained a complex process involving contact with and empowerment of the local people in the occupied areas that I can explain at some other time.
Each case is unique. East Aleppo has been very closely tied to a stream of foreign fighters who came in through Turkey. They are unlikely to walk away. Al Nusra/Al Qaeda is the primary organization there. And there may be a larger civilian population than in some of the other areas where the plan has succeeded. While the world is watching, it must be stated that the deep plan of working with local fighters and civilian councils will not unfold immediately. Ali Haidar, the Minister of Reconciliation and the long time leader of a dissident party prior to the current crisis in Syria (the war), is on his way to Aleppo to assess conditions and work on making the contacts necessary to begin the real process of reconciliation.
Of course, the first steps of this plan for reconciliation have been all over the news with varying judgements. The New York Times refers to reconciliation and restoration of the fighters’ citizenship as ‘surrender’, but that is not the way those vested in ‘reconciliation’ see it. People we spoke to told us that Syrians are tired of the war. Many initially joined the fight because they were being paid. They say that others joined out of confusion during the initial attacks on their villages and neighborhoods and that many men in occupied areas are given the choice to fight for the militants or be killed immediately. The president told us that he would prefer to heal the country rather than unleash a sea of rage and revenge. The only context in which this does not make sense is one where the sovereign Syrian State is not acknowledged.
Starvation might be less an issue in Aleppo than the fact that the fighters and their families will no longer have income. Last week it was reported, even by Western sources that the current situation was imminent and so an effort was made by the militants in East Aleppo to bring in several months worth of food and other necessities. In the last 24 hours, the Russians have air dropped more food and supplies into East Aleppo. And there are resources at the humanitarian corridors. The NY Times is reporting that people don’t want to leave East Aleppo. However, RT, however, is reporting that militants are firing on civilians who try to leave the area. Clearly there are problems that need to be addressed.
However, there are significant differences between the perspective presented by the Western press and that of the Syrians we met with this week. There is one I would like to point out, that was made very clear by everyone I met with during my stay here in Damascus. Syria is a sovereign country. It has a government which is doing its best to provide the services that governments provide including the provision of necessary resources and services to civilians including personal security which includes ethnic and religious tolerance and equality under the law. None of the forces at war with the government of Syria have demonstrated the capacity, or more importantly, the desire to provide these basic human and civil rights to the people of Syria.
President Bashar Assad, who was elected two years ago by the majority of Syrian citizens with a clear majority of votes, comes across as a well educated, progressive individual who is taking responsibility for providing for the people of his country who elected him by a significant majority, and leading a government which is attempting to respond to the issues that have caused civil unrest and discontent within that society while at the same time facing a vicious attack, funded, armed and manned by wealthy countries that have no civil rights and provide few social resources to their population. Not only is the government of Syria with their President doing their best to support the people of that country, but were he to leave, there would be no leadership in the fight against forces that oppose the values of the vast majority of Syrian people and are determined to tear the state apart.
Syrian is home to several ethnic groups and numerous sects of Christianity and Islam. They have lived together in peace for centuries if not longer. This week, the Grand Muftii and the Bishop of the Orthodox Church told us they are ‘cousins’. People tell me it is shameful to ask another person their religion or ethnic background as it is socially irrelevant. There is an awareness of the economic issues that are a source of suffering but the war has taken precedence. There is no doubt that the Syrian government has made mistakes and no one in Syria denies it. However, the US demand that Assad abandon his office and his responsibilities is unrealistic and out of sync with American values as well as with Syrian values. The US insistence on continuing to fuel this vicious war with money and weapons, through proxies and direct strikes, through propaganda and political manipulation, until he abdicates is criminal. It is a violation of international law, us law, and common morality.
US presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton has been found to have taken dangerous and illegal risks with her emails whilst Secretary of State. Tens of thousands have gone missing. It is suspected that these emails would reveal compromising exchanges with Middle Eastern dictatorships, among other things. (The brutal dictatorship in Saudi Arabia, currently conducting genocidal war on Yemen, is a major arms customer for the US and has contributed between $10m and $25m to the Clinton Foundation, from which Clinton draws financial support for her campaign.) Instead of targeting Clinton's extreme negligence, incompetence and corruption, leading media outlets have suggested, without any evidence, that Russia hacked her emails and - ridiculously - that Russia is trying to steal the US election. It is now official, Hilary Clinton is trying to divert from her criminal negligence by a campaign against Russia and major media organisations are helping to push that narrative. Clinton's defensive actions are yet more evidence that severe narcissism so clouds her judgement that her election would be a global catastrophe. As Julian Assange has said, Hillary Clinton is a “war hawk with bad judgment” who gets an “emotional rush out of killing people.” “A vote today for Hillary Clinton is a vote for endless, stupid war.” Noting his years of experience in dealing with Hillary Clinton and having read thousands of her cables, he stated that, “Hillary lacks judgment and will push the United States into endless wars which spread terrorism.” He also highlighted Clinton's “poor policy decisions,” which he said have “directly contributed” to the rise of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).” Stating that Clinton went above the heads of Pentagon generals when it came to Libya, he wrote: “Libya has been destroyed. It became a haven for ISIS. The Libyan national armory was looted and hundreds of tons of weapons were transferred to jihadists in Syria.” He went on to state that Clinton did not learn from her mistakes, and set out to repeat history in Syria. “Having learned nothing from the Libyan disaster Hillary then set about trying do the same in Syria. Hillary's war has increased terrorism, killed tens of thousands of innocent civilians and has set back women's rights in the Middle East by hundreds of years,” he wrote. Numerous statements in her autobiography, which I reviewed here, indicate that she seems to operate with an unreal view of the world, to enjoy violence and to be unaware of its consequences.
Article initially published on RT on August 1, 2016. While US media and politicians keep crying ‘wolf’ – or Russia – over the DNC email hack without providing any proof, Moscow called the accusations ‘absurd’. WikiLeaks refused to reveal its sources and promised new leaks before the November vote.
Some 20,000 DNC emails were made public by WikiLeaks on July 22, revealing a close working relationship between the party and some mainstream media figures, as well as collusion with the Hillary Clinton campaign to sideline Bernie Sanders, her challenger for the presidential nomination.
The DNC replaced Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz on the eve of the party’s convention in Philadelphia – she immediately got a post with the Clinton campaign – and fired back with accusations that Russia was behind the hack and the leaks, accusing Moscow of backing Republican nominee Donald Trump.
US media picked up the accusations, reporting them under headlines such as “Russian Intelligence Hacked DNC Emails” (NBC), “Suspected Russian hack of DNC widens” (Yahoo News), “All Signs Point to Russia Being Behind the DNC Hack,” (Motherboard), “Evidence mounts linking DNC email hacker to Russia” (The Hill) and “What we know about Russia’s role in the DNC hack” (Politifact).
Actual evidence, however, was nowhere to be found. Instead, reporters relied on insinuations such as, “there seems to be widespread agreement among cybersecurity experts and professionals” (Politifact) that Russia was somehow responsible.
Other experts cited as “evidence” of Russian involvement the fact that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange hosted a show on RT – but without noting that the 11-episode run aired in 2012.
“I’m somewhat taken aback by the hyperventilation on this,” US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said last week.
Claims of Russian involvement actually go back to mid-June, when the first DNC documents appeared on the blog of Guccifer 2.0, a hacker who claimed responsibility for the breach. CrowdStrike, the cybersecurity firm hired by the DNC to investigate the breach, pointed the finger at Moscow – again, without any proof. CrowdStrike’s chief technology officer Dmitri Alperovitch, who publicized the claims, is also a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative.
The Kremlin dismissed the charges that Russia was behind DNC hack as “quite absurd,” with presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov pointing out what he called the “American style” of casting blame first, then investigating afterwards.
“We in Russia are used to investigating first, before accusing anyone of anything. We believe it is more logical and more correct,” Peskov said.
“Such statements by Ms. Clinton are typical pre-election rhetoric,” Peskov told reporters Monday. “There is nothing tangible in her accusations, and we believe their character is more emotional.”
“The leaked information is very interesting, indicating specific actions to manipulate public opinion during the election campaign,” the Kremlin spokesman added. “In this case, there are attempts to cover up these manipulations by demonizing Russia again, which we feel is improper. Russia does not interfere, and never will interfere, in the internal affairs – especially the elections – of any other countries, including the US.”
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has also called DNC accusations an attempt to deflect attention from the contents of the leaked documents. Speaking to CNN from the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where he sought asylum in June 2012, Assange rejected speculation that Russia was behind the hack.
"Well, what sort of question is that? I am a journalist. We don't reveal our sources," Assange told CNN’s ‘New Day’ host Poppy Harlow. "The goal of WikiLeaks as a media organization is to educate the public, to turn a dark world into a lighter world through the process of education, and we're doing it.”
This news was sent by Marinella Correggia, of the No War Network. The Italian Committee to end the EU sanctions against Syriahttps://bastasanzioniallasiria.wordpress.com/ was created 15 days ago by a group of Italian activists. See also the video in English (and in other languages) embedded below. Shamefully, European Union sanctions against Syria were renewed for one year, yesterday. People who want Syria to survive should not take this lying down.
Also Italian MPs of differents groups issued a resolution towards the Italian government.
We are trying to get the European governments aware of this mobilization. It is enough that one country opposes the renewal and the EU sanctions will be dropped! If anyone of you is close to some politicians/governments, please contact them.
Why does the mass media support false government narratives that justify our support or participation in deadly wars? Media analyst, Jeremy Salt and Susan Dirgham of Australians for Reconciliation in Syria, explore this perplexing question that shapes our times and our future.
Why does the mass media support false government narratives that justify our support or participation in deadly wars? Media analyst, Jeremy Salt and Susan Dirgham of Australians for Reconciliation in Syria, explore this perplexing question that shapes our times and our future.
This article is summary plus transcript from the video of Part Two of Politics and war in Syria: Susan Dirgham interviews Jeremy Salt. Susan Dirham is convener of Australians for Reconciliation in Syria (AMRIS) and Jeremy Salt is a scholar of Media propaganda and the Middle East.
SUSAN DIRGHAM: Explains how Syrian society is secular, how women have freedom there, and that it is predominantly secular. For her it is very comparable to Australian society. So why don’t Australians know this? Furthermore, the Sunnis in Syria, who are in the majority, do not welcome the extremism that is being brought into the country.
Mystery of mass media’s motivation in supporting false government narratives
JEREMY SALT: Relates the problem back to the mass media again, ( as in Part One of this series). What people know about Syria is what the media chooses to tell them. There is a huge question about media ethics. Balance, objectivity are very big questions, which relate to media-ownership and the way the media operates generally. If we think about Australia, something close to 70 % of the print media is owned and operated by Rupert Murdoch. And we saw from what happened in England, how corrupt the Murdoch organisation can be, with the wire-tapping, the phone-tapping and all the rest of it. Murdoch himself is ultra, ultra conservative, very pro-Israeli. He is anti all the things we’re talking about and Murdoch runs his newspaper in the same way. The Australian newspaper, for example, is more or less like a free market Pravda.. It’s tightly controlled. There are gate-keepers. So all of this fits into the general context of the questions you are asking about why the media does what it does. The media will not say those things you are talking about - of course it won’t – because it disrupts the narrative. It doesn’t want people to know that women have freedom in Syria and that Syria is way ahead of most Middle Eastern countries in terms of women’s individual freedoms. Of course, if you are involved in political activity against the government, you’re in trouble. We know that. Well there is a good reason for that. Syria has been under siege for a long, long period of time. So the media is not going to bring out those positive aspects. But the interesting thing is, why does the media pick up a government narrative and reproduce it? Why? This is the real mystery. Why? I mean they did this over the Iraq war. It was seamless. 2003. It was very obvious that what Bush, Blair, Colin Powel were saying was without any factual basis. It was all propaganda. Blair’s dodgy dossier, all the statements they made about weapons of mass destruction, had absolutely no evidentiary basis. And, if you were a journalist, you should have been able to see that. I mean, a child could have seen it. So, where is the truth here? There is no truth. They couldn’t prove it, and yet they went with this government narrative. And then we have a war, which resulted in the destruction of a country, and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, and dispossession of many, many others. And at the end of it, when they’ve hunted for their weapons of mass destruction, and haven’t found them – because they weren’t there – the two papers I know of, the New York Times and the Washington Post, said, ‘Oh, we were wrong. We’re sorry.’ But this was another lie. Because they weren’t wrong. That wasn’t the explanation. The reason was they did not ask questions about the government narrative.
And so, after that incredible propaganda operation, I thought, well, that’s got to be it. Then along comes Syria – and they do the same thing all over again!
Why does the media do it? How does it interest the media to portray the Syrian war in such a fashion? The Guardian, for example, which is one of the worst culprits, why was the Guardian’s reporting up to this point so shocking? Anything a ‘rebel’ (so-called) or ‘activist’ said, the Guardian would snap up and publish. So why is the Guardian doing this? Does the Guardian have the same kind of antagonism towards Syria that the British Government has for its own strategic reasons? Because England lies with [?is allies with] America and America wants to bring down the Syrian Government, partly because Israel wants to bring down the Syrian Government – all these reasons. But why is the media going along with it? What are they getting out of it? Are they getting money? Why? How is it in their interests.
SUSAN DIRGHAM: Is it because it’s a 9-5 job and …
JEREMY SALT: No, it’s not that. It’s something to do with the culture. It’s very hard for me to put my finger on it. Why they would do this. But it’s a pattern. That’s the whole point. It’s a pattern. It’s not an incidental thing. It’s not an aberration [….] And [they] will do the same thing with Iran. It’s like they have bought the government line in America and in England, on a whole range of issues.
SUSAN DIRGHAM: Do they also help determine the government line?
JEREMY SALT: Well, there’s always interplay. […] But we have to ask the question about responsibility in the media. What is their responsibility? Where does it lie? What is the media there for? Well, it’s there to make money. To make a profit. If it doesn’t make a profit, it’s not going to survive. That’s one thing. But what else is the media supposed to be doing? The old-fashioned idea is the media was the watchdog of the public interest. And possibly that was more true up to about the 1970s, 1980s, than it is now. And then the newspapers started to go downhill, partly because of the internet, because people weren’t reading so much. They were watching television. They were doing social media, and all the rest of it. So, the quality of newspapers declined and they started – to keep up sales – they were doing different things. Infotainment. Celebrity gossip. All the rest of it. The quality of analysis and reporting fell. But we’re not really talking about that so much as we are talking about what should be reasonably good quality newspapers, like the Guardian, like the Washington Post. Why do they run this line on Syria? Why? Obviously what they’re saying is not true and, at the very least, is not balanced. Why did the Washington Post or the Guardian never report what the Syrian Government was saying?
SUSAN DIRGHAM: It gets back to money?
JEREMY SALT: I don’t know. I don’t know. I seriously don’t know why. And with a paper like the Guardian I have to ask questions. Well, the Guardian can’t make all that much money. Maybe it does. I don’t think so.
SUSAN DIRGHAM: Sponsors?
Mass media as a business
JEREMY SALT: I don’t know. I don’t know what’s going on. I really can’t explain this: why the media does this all the time.
So, when we talk about the media, what we are actually talking about is media as business. Business is money. And, you know, the diversification of ownership of the media. Like in America, for example, a number of very large corporations have media ownership. Like Westinghouse. Westinghouse is one of them, only one of them. Murdoch’s interests go all across the print media into film, into cable television, into fibreoptics – the whole thing. And the media has always worked closely with government because of this give and take. The media wants things from the government. It wants licences. And the media will give things to the government. It will give them [government] favourable publicity. In Australian or in England we know that politicians are very very quick to try to curry favour with the media magnates – with Murdoch, for example. They might fall out, but they do their best to stay on side with him. So the media functions as part of the business sector – fundamentally. And the business sector has close relations with the government. So there are interlocking systems, of which the media is part. I think this partly explains the kind of narrative we see about Syria and what we saw about Iraq. It’s pumping out a line.
SUSAN DIRGHAM: Also, I was an activist during the Vietnam war – we’ve got some other activists here – and what we spoke of about then was the ‘military industrial complex’. That’s still alive and active. Can we also talk about the ‘media industrial complex’ and are there links?
JEREMY SALT: Are you talking about America?
SUSAN DIRGHAM: Generally, but America in particular, of course.
JEREMY SALT: The media industrial complex. Can you just explain what you mean by that?
SUSAN DIRGHAM: It means that people don’t really have a voice; that you do have – as you are suggesting – companies that have this power that can determine what the narrative is. For example, on Syria. So you don’t get that balance. Journalists don’t have the freedom to present a balanced picture.
The ‘free’ press.
JEREMY SALT: They don’t. If you work for a big news corporation, you cannot write what you want. It might be just coincidental that your views are the same as Rupert Murdoch’s. That’s really nice. But if they are not the same as Rupert Murdoch’s, you’ve got to make sure that, pretty much, they are. Otherwise you’re not going to have much of a future. You can’t just wander off and write whatever you want. But the thing about the media is – a lot of people take these phrases for granted – like ‘free press’ – so forth and so on. Well, free for whom? Who has the right to speak? Who has the right to write in the media?
It’s very carefully controlled. It does vary a little bit from news organisation to news organisation, but basically it’s controlled. Some people have access. A lot of people don’t have access. I mean a lot of people in Australia who don’t have any access at all to the mainstream media at all. They’re very well informed, they’re very intelligent, they’re articulate, they’re experienced, they know their area, but they’re not going to be given any space in the mainstream media. Because they’re going to say things that the mainstream media – for whatever reason – doesn’t want people to hear.
SUSAN DIRGHAM: If you worked in the mainstream media today, and you wanted …
JEREMY SALT: Well I couldn’t –
SUSAN DIRGHAM: …and you’re a person of courage, what would you do …
JEREMY SALT: Well, I wouldn’t last. I wouldn’t last. I couldn’t last.
SUSAN DIRGHAM: Even moving to another area? You wouldn’t be an ABC Middle East correspondent if you …
JEREMY SALT: I don’t … no, I wouldn’t …
SUSAN DIRGHAM: …integrity and courage…
JEREMY SALT: No, I wouldn’t because I would go to Syria and I’d want to go to the Syrian Government and get their take on what’s going on.
SUSAN DIRGHAM: Or the people…
JEREMY SALT: …and I’d want to go to the West Bank …
SUSAN DIRGHAM: Or the women. Don’t forget the women.
JEREMY SALT: Alright, okay, I’d talk to the women.
SUSAN DIRGHAM: The women of Syria…
JEREMY SALT: If I were in Palestine, I’d go to the West Bank and I’d talk to people there and I’d do it in a much more forceful way than the ABC would allow. So, therefore, someone like me – well, let’s not talk about me – someone like me is not going to be given the freedom to speak. Right? You’re sidelined. I know lots of people here, in this country, who are very well informed about the Middle East, about Syria, about Iran. They’ve no place in the media – and they’ve tried, but they’re shut out. And so the space is given to Greg Sheridan, for example, in The Australian, and… who was it, who wrote… Derryn Hinch!
SUSAN DIRGHAM: (Laughs softly).
JEREMY SALT: In the Age, wrote this silly piece about…
SUSAN DIRGHAM: Comparing Assad to …
JEREMY SALT: Yes!
SUSAN DIRGHAM: To Pol Pot!
JEREMY SALT: Yes! So what is a quality, so-called ‘quality’ newspaper doing with Derryn Hinch on the Middle East? When there are many, many people in this country well-qualified to talk sensibly, and they use Derryn Hinch.
SUSAN DIRGHAM: I think Derryn Hinch was probably using his heart and he was going to the shallow analysis…
JEREMY SALT: But
SUSAN DIRGHAM: … of the mainstream media, and he just thought, well, Assad’s the criminal; he’s a brutal criminal; he’s killing his own people; he must be like Pol Pot.
JEREMY SALT: But why use Derryn Hinch for this anyway?
SUSAN DIRGHAM: Yeah.
JEREMY SALT: He can write a letter to the editor…
SUSAN DIRGHAM: Yeah.
JEREMY SALT: ‘Derryn Hinch of Armadale, Worried Reader’, whatever he wants to describe himself.
SUSAN DIRGHAM: Why don’t they ask you and me to write about it?
JEREMY SALT: Well, not me. Forget me. Just leave me out of it. There are a lot of other people who can write intelligently about it. Why do they go to Derryn Hinch? And the whole thing about the media is that the news is an artefact …
SUSAN DIRGHAM: (Joking) We’ll have a fight soon.
JEREMY SALT: No, we’re not going to fight. News is an artefact. It’s something that people who read newspapers might not necessarily be fully aware of. I mean they do generally or not. The newspaper is one dimensional. There it is, but there is a whole kind of, like, hive of activity befor that. So the raw news is shaped by the reporter, by the editors. It’s shaped according to where it’s placed in the paper. It’s shaped according to the headlines. It’s honed and whittled and refined. Until it gets to you. And you’ve got to think of the mass of information that comes into the media every single day, whether you’re talking about newspapers or television, immense mass. And what you are seeing is a tiny fraction. So ‘news’ should be put in quotes. News is something that the newspaper or television station wants you to know; chooses for you. It’s not unmediated. And then, the other part of that, of course, is the politics of it and the way that things are reported. For example, in the case of Syria, why Syria is reported in such a negative fashion and such an unbalanced fashion. Why have none of these news organisations seen as their business to try to be fair? This is what the so-called rebels are saying – let’s hear what the Syrian Government and people who support the government have to say and what the families of the soldiers have to say. We’ve seen nothing of that. Nothing whatsoever. So, it’s completely lopsided.
And, we go back to that basic question: Why do they [the mainstream media] do it? What’s in it for them? What’s in it for them? And there’s something grey here that I can’t really put my hands on.
SUSAN DIRGHAM: At the moment, and the people in this room know this, because I’m asking them to help me, I’m working on a complaint letter to the ABC because they had a program on in December, on Radio National Earshot program, ‘The Drawers of Memory, Ahmed’s story.’ And the protagonist in this program was a ‘freedom fighter’ in Syria; someone who was running round …
JEREMY SALT: Described as a ‘freedom fighter’?
SUSAN DIRGHAM: Well, he says he supports freedom, and his ‘friends’ the insurgents based in Damascus, who support ‘freedom,’ he reckons they will win in the end. And maybe they will; they’ve got so much ‘support’ from Saudi Arabia, from Qatar – Apparently he was a money-runner, with Saudi Arabia and Qatar’s money. But he is presented on the ABC as someone that’s credible. And the victims of these insurgents – ordinary people like us that live in the suburbs of Damascus – are just ignored. But, what I discovered when I did a little bit of research on this story is that this is basically an unofficial ABC policy, to present this side of things. As we’ve been discussing, basically. So you get MediaWatch saying, ‘Assad is a brutal dictator. Assad is a war criminal. Assad has used chemicals against his people …’ So, if Mediawatch says this, what mainstream journalist dares present another narrative, dares present the side of the Syrian people?
JEREMY SALT: Why should we use the word ‘dare’? What is the problem in reporting Syria in a more balanced way? I mean, Australians would like to know for sure. They would like to have a different picture. Why does the media pump out this completely lopsided view? Why are they doing it? What are they frightened of? Why are they buying this narrative in this fashion? This is really what I can’t understand. You know, they’re not being told to do it by the government. The government’s not issuing an edict, ‘Please report this situation like this’. No-one’s doing that. So, exactly, how does it work out like that? That they will just report the situation in this kind of grossly unbalanced fashion.
SUSAN DIRGHAM: People get intimidated. They don’t realise their power. Individuals don’t realise the power and influence they have.
JEREMY SALT: If you were – I imagine that if you were an editor of a mainstream newspaper and you suddenly had a rush of blood to the head and decided to report Syria what you or I would call ‘fairly and objectively’, you probably wouldn’t last. But why? Why would they not allow you to report Syria in a more balanced fashion? This is the mystery that we keep coming back to. Why does the media do this? I mean, no-one’s going to punish them if they report the Syrian war – I would think – in a more balanced fashion. Why do they do it? And this is happening all the time. This freedom fighter: ‘I’m a freedom fighter’, ‘I love freedom.’ Oh, great. Okay. Well, so do I.
SUSAN DIRGHAM: So do the Syrian people.
JEREMY SALT: Congratulations. We all love freedom. Freedom’s a really nice thing.
SUSAN DIRGHAM: But what is freedom? What is free?
JEREMY SALT: It’s a word. That’s what it is. It’s a word: ‘I love freedom’.
SUSAN DIRGHAM: Freedom to live.
JEREMY SALT: Yes. ‘I’m going to kill people, but I love freedom.‘
SUSAN DIRGHAM: ‘And I’m going to kill them for Saudi Arabia, for America.’
JEREMY SALT: And this has just one on and on for the last five years. And it doesn’t stop. And the latest thing we have is this situation in this town of Madaya, north of Damascus. And the media is reporting Assad forces, or Assad loyalists, or Syrian Army – what are they saying – usually the first two – besieged this town. And we have the reports of the civilians starving – and all the rest. I’m quite sure they’re having a terrible time.
Susan Dirgham of AMRIS talks with Middle East and propaganda scholar, Jeremy Salt, about the history of western interventions in the Middle East and in Syria. She asks why the mainstream press don't tell westerners how Syria is secular and has good women's rights; women got the vote there in 1947. This article is summary plus transcript from the video of Part One of Politics and war in Syria: Susan Dirgham interviews Jeremy Salt. Susan Dirham is convener of Australians for Reconciliation in Syria (AMRIS) and Jeremy Salt is a scholar of Media propaganda and the Middle East
Jeremy Salt begins by talking about 19th century history of interventions in the Middle East, then about intervention in Iraq in 1990s. The UN ran this nominally, but really England and United States did. Two UN humanitarians objected to the inhumanity of economic sanctions against Iraq, possibly even mentioned ‘genocide’: they were Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck.  To Susan’s question, Dr Salt agrees that UN personnel no longer speak out. On the subject of the 2003 ‘weapons of mass destruction’: The use of no-fly zones to conduct aerial bombardments.  Libya. No-fly zone fig leaf. Syria: they wanted to get a UN resolution for a no-fly zone, but Russia and China blocked this with the UN. Next best thing [sic] was to pull down the government of Damascus by using armed gangs – mercenaries. From 2011 until now and still [the west]have not reached their main objective, which is the destruction of the government in Damascus, but they have destroyed a large part of Syria. This is similar to the Sandinista template of mercenaries used in Nicaragua.
SUSAN DIRGHAM: Why do these people choose to fight for/align themselves with western governments when they can see as clearly as you and I can see that these western governments are out to destroy Arab societies?
JEREMY SALT: [Ed: Not exact quotes always; some paraphrase] But we don’t know who these people are. Initially some of them were Syrians, but a lot were from Iraq. Because, in many ways, the war in Syria is the Iraq war exported. The Saudis and other Gulf states have pumped money into Sunni Muslim groups in Western Iraq to destabilise the government in Bagdad, which they didn’t like.
The whole protest movement in Syria was wildly exaggerated [by external war-mongering forces] who were waiting to seize just such an opportunity to make their move against Syria. We’ve seen this happen in Latin America, the Middle East over many, many decades. It happened in Chili, Iran, Ukraine. When the people begin to protest, you come in from behind and you turn those protests to your advantage.
So, for the question of why local people would support western-aligned interventions, the level of true support is unknown. This is not a civil war. This is a campaign against Syria orchestrated by outside governments, who want to destroy Syria and are using a protest movement. Infiltrating it.
You might remember the first week of that protest movement in Dada, in Southern Syria. We are told that the Syrian military started firing into peaceful protesters.
What the media didn’t report was the number of civilians and police who were killed by armed men in that week. And we were told by the same media that there were snipers on rooftops firing into peaceful demonstrators. They said, ‘government snipers’. Almost certainly, they were not. They were provocateurs, stirring as much trouble up as they could. Since those days, we know full well, that the number of foreigners coming to Syria has turned into a flood.
SUSAN DIRGHAM: Jeremy, the thing you mention about snipers; I was in Damascus in April 2011, just one month after the start of the crisis, and I met a young man who had been to an anti-government rally just that morning and he said that two people were killed at the rally and others were shot. There were police at the rally with arms, but they did not draw their weapons. So it was just a mystery, who killed these people and Syrians know this.
Taksim Square Massacre template
JEREMY SALT: Once again, this is part of a template. This happens in many situations like this. Where you send your undercover agents into a situation. They open fire from a rooftop or from round a corner. No-one really knows who does it, but that’s the opportunity that the enemy wants, and its media wants, to portray the government as being brutal and oppressive – to killing its own people.
So, what we are seeing in Syria is just another repeat of what we have seen in many, many other countries. We had this in Istanbul, in the Taksim Square Massacre. There was a Mayday march and people started firing into the crowd. They were obviously agent-provocateurs. Turning the whole demonstration – disrupting it – turning it into a panic-stricken kind of riot. 'Cause people didn’t know what was going on.
SUSAN DIRGHAM: One thing that people don’t know is that there was the CIA-orchestrated coup in Syria in 1949. The first CIA coup ever. The CIA had just been recently set up. This was in Syria. So Syrian people know their history, know their enemies –
JEREMY SALT: The whole thing is people in the Arab world generally have a very strong grasp of history and, you know, the people who suffer, who are the victims, remember the history. The people who do bad things to them; they want to move on, want to forget it.
So, of course there is a [?known] history. And it’s not just 1949; This goes back to the end of the first world war.
Syria has been ‘under siege’, effectively, all that time, up unto the present day. So, 1949, yes, that coup, Husni al-Zaim was put there by the CIA, and then he’s followed by a second man, Sami al-Hinnawi, then Adib Shishakli. And Shishakli, whether he was actually put-up to it by the Americans, is not clear. He probably wasn’t, but what he did, the Americans liked. Because, one thing that he didn’t like was a proposal to unite the fertile crescent. To bring Syria and Iraq together.
Iraq was under the domination of the British, so, if that had happened, it would have held a wonderful advantage for Britain – and the Americans didn’t want that. Because, beneath all of these things that we are talking about, all through the 20th century, up to the present day, there were these subterranean tensions between these outside powers.
Britain and France were wartime allies in 1914. Once the war was over, they were rivals.
And the British did what they could to limit French gains. And why did the French leave Syria in 1946? Because the British put pressure on them. Made them leave, because France was, relatively speaking, in a weak position. Britain was weak, but not as weak.
And we see, in the 1950s, Britain and the United States, this same sort of subterranean tension playing up because Britain’s fading as an imperial power, America’s moving into the region and doesn’t want the British to regain lost ground. So this is all part of the picture.
Secular society and women’s rights in Syria: if people knew the truth…
SUSAN DIRGHAM: Another bit of history going back to those times, is that women were given the vote in Syria in 1949. And what disturbs me greatly is we [Australians/westerners] don’t really know what Syrian society is like. It’s hidden behind that ‘brutal dictator’. So our media is presenting a ‘brutal dictator’ versus ‘rebels’ and, behind that ‘brutal dictator’, you’ve got the army - a secular army - and you’ve got a secular society, and you’ve got women, who have extraordinary freedoms. Do you think, if we knew …?
Western governments and media do not want us to know the truth
JEREMY SALT: Yes, of course, if we knew; if people went there. I mean Syria had a quite reasonable tourist industry before this war broke out. We all know that Syria’s a fantastic country. A wonderful place, right. So, a number of people who go there would see that for themselves, but what the others have to rely on is what the media tell them. And the media doesn’t tell them the things that you’re saying. And the media wasn’t saying these things about many, many other countries.
The media will pick up a story, a narrative, which fits in with what they and the government wants. As it did over Iraq, as it has done with many other situations. So Syria becomes a target to be destroyed, therefore it’s not in the interests of the government or much of the media to talk about positive things about Syria. Not to talk about a secular society, freedom for women, and all the rest – because people would say then, ‘Well, why are we taking Syria? Why are we going for Syria?
And so the narrative over Syria has been shocking from the beginning. There has been no balanced reporting whatsoever about Syria. I mean, one or two reporters file reasonable reports from time to time, but 95, 97% of the coverage has not conformed in any way to the standards of proper journalism. It’s been completely biased. You haven’t seen the other side.
If you are a journalist the primary responsibility is what they call ‘balance’. You’re never going to achieve perfect balance, but in a situation like this, even if you want to report what the rebels are saying and doing - even if you and I don’t think they really are rebels – let them have their say. Let people think about it. But you have to report what the others are saying. You have to go to the Syrian government.
You’ve got to go to the victims of the rebels. They are very good – the media – for the last five years has talked about the ‘victims of the Syrian army’ – as they say it – but they haven’t paid any attention at all to the victims of these armed groups. And if they did, then naturally, people would get a very different idea.
If they [journalists] talked to the government and were able to see what happens in families who’ve lost young men. I mean, how many young men have died in Syria fighting these [‘rebel’] groups? Sixty thousand? Something like that. Plus all the others – tens of thousands – wounded.
If that were shown, the whole narrative would be disrupted. But it can’t be shown. It can’t be shown. You cannot really show the victims of war. This is common in all wars. They don’t like to show the gruesome detail.
We saw the other day how Obama was wiping away tears for children who had been shot dead in America. Well, this is the same Obama who has been ordering missile strikes in Yemen that have killed children.
Now if you show the victims of those missile strikes in Yemen – actually show the bodies – well then, the American public would do a double-take: ‘What on earth are we doing? Dead children! We’re killing children in Yemen.’
No, you don’t see those photographs. And the same in Syria. You don’t see the gory detail of what the armed groups are doing. It will be played down. But when the government does something, or the military does something, it’s magnified to the ultimate degree.
So there can’t be any trust in the mainstream media now, there cannot be. After the absolute pinnacle of propaganda about Iraq; Syria is even worse.
Economic Sanctions "Hit Wrong Target," Says Former U.N. ...
" “Economic Sanctions “Hit Wrong Target,” Says Former U.N. Humanitarian ... Iraq,” warned former United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator Hans von Sponeck, .... Commonwealth Club of California held at the swank Westin St. Francis Hotel in .."
 Use of ‘No Fly Zones’: The way this works is to accuse a government of bombing its own citizens then for external powers to declare a ‘no fly zone’, which is somehow interpreted to mean that those powers can enter the zone and bomb government planes which may actually be trying to defend themselves against armed takeovers that imperil citizens. So this stops a country from defending itself militarily and enables outside powers to take over, beginning with the airspace.
One dramatic impact of the Paris terror attack and the contradictions within the NATO camp and vis a vis the GCC-Turkish Camp, is that all of Putin's worst detractors are queuing up to meet him and seek his words of wisdom ....
The photos of Putin, Obama with their 2 advisors sitting around a table for just 4 has gone all across the world
Cameron who was a anti-Putin Hawk was today getting himself photographed with Putin ensuring all cooperation ....
Hollande will be dashing, or should I say - Da-eshing off :) :) off to Moscow and DC to iron out all details for future coordination ...
Even Erdogan is behaving himself ...
Putin has emerged as the central figure in this Global war against ISIS and terror in general ... the most popular leader across the world ...
It was just last year, at the G20, were Obama, Merkel, Cameron, Hollande were not even willing to look at Putin, leave along even shake hands with him .... now its all dramatically turned around ...
The question here for all of us to consider is that why has the PARIS False Flag boomeranged so fast?? They expected the NFZ-SZ strategy, but the contradictions to Up the Ante in Syria, were too strong to be resolved.
Which of the EU nations are the strong dissenting voices ...?? Led by Germany, Czech Republic, Italy, Austria, Hungary, Romania ?? more ??...
Also in the US its not taken the NFZ-SZ route despite immediate statements to that effect by Jeb Bush, Lindsey Graham and Chertoff
Need our European & American friends to enlighten us here ....
Code Pink is a prominent anti-war US based organization. Very high profile. After the Paris attacks they published a webpage that ignorantly cast the Syrian Government on the same footing as Daesh. This prompted me to write the following letter, asking them to re-look at their understanding and analysis of Syria and their position on President Bashar al Assad:
Dear Code Pink,
Its really high time that you re-looked your understanding and your analysis of Syria and your position on President Bashar al Assad.
By all indicators, Bashar al Assad has the support of between 70-80% of the Syrian nation.
Thus by constantly buying into the Western-imperialist narrative of Assad the Dictator and the Assad Regime, you are doing a lot of damage to the global peace and anti-war movement.
[The open letter is a response to this statement on a code pink page:
"Recently they issued a At the end of last week, we witnessed horrific attacks that left scores dead and hundreds wounded in Beirut, Baghdad and Paris. These brutal and unconscionable strikes against civilians have been attributed to members of The Islamic State (ISIS), or Daesh (Da’ish). People in Syria are also being slaughtered every day by Daesh and the murderous Assad regime." Code Pink, http://www.codepink.org/send_condolences_to_the_lebanon_france_and_iraq]
You are also insulting the Syrian People who have accepted a new Constitution in 2012, after a national referendum, all 56% of the population that voted. Syria is evolving into a multi-party democracy. That is the way that nations need to evolve and Syria responded to the voices that emanated from Tunisia and was negotiating the process, till the Saudi-Qatari-Turkish-Nato backed Islamists decided to wreck mayhem and chaos.
Kindly run through a copy of the Syrian Constitution if you still haven't. Even that of Tunisia. Whilst Tunisia was allowed to evolve, Syria was not given that chance at all. There are both strategic and economic reasons here as you well know.
You are also insulting the intelligence of the Syrian People, where again in June 2014, more than 73% of the Syrian nation went to the polls, despite the threats from terrorists, despite being warned not to vote, with suicide bombers and shoot-outs promised, yet the people voted in droves.
They voted to say, give a message to the world that Syria will not be divided, that Syria will remain secular, that Syria is a multi-religious plural society, that Syria rejects theocracy and stand for a modern secular democracy.
You would at least agree that it is finally for the Syrian people to decide who their elected leader would be.
For now that is President Bashar al Assad. Both his worst detractors have given him numbers that cannot be discounted - Al Jazeera stated 56% for Assad way back in 2012, whilst Nato itself says that Assad has 70% ....
Then how can these Western Morons keep on saying "Assad Must Go"...??
This is the result of pompous impetuosity that goes with a colonial mindset. We know better, we will decide your leaders for you. Someone that Riaydh, Doha, Tel Aviv and Ankara love ...
Thus here the only solution is that after once the scourge of terror is contained and defeated (and not merely degraded .... for perpetual controlled chaos), as the Russians have demonstrated in less than 45 days, the way ahead is very simple.
The political solution that is being discussed must be supported.
Finally after a new secular constitution is negotiated, as agreed in Vienna, let the Elections be held under the auspices of UN Monitors and observers from the UNSC, G20 and BRICS, Arab League, African Union, Shanghai cooperation Organization, ASEAN, the Bolivarian Nations.
In short, let the whole world come and observe, monitor, place CCTV cameras at each polling booth, have CNN-FOX-BBC-Al Jazeera at every street corner asking people if the elections were free and fair.
And after the elections results are out, we shall know.
In short, let the Syrian people decide.
In solidarity with the Global Resistance, the Global Intifada
Having brought chaos, lawlessness and terrorism into Libya and Iraq, the United States is now trying to do the same in Syria. Europe has become fed up with Washington’s wrongdoings and says Russia should become a new world leader, Czech journalist Jiri Vyvadil wrote for newspaperParlamentnilisty.cz.
The White House wants the Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad gone and will do whatever it takes to achieve its objective — even arm Islamic militants to fight against government troops, creating a civil war that resulted in millions of people fleeing the country to save their lives.
Washington’s method of conducting foreign policy is to create chaos at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives and destroy entire countries in the name of US economic and political interests. However, the US has constantly failed at it — all of its wars in the last two decades have ended in a fiasco, but Washington still hasn’t learned and keeps sticking to the same destructive policy which hasn’t worked, the Czech newspaper said. This article first published on NOVOROSSIA TODAY at http://novorossia.today/czech-media-world-leadership-should-be-given-to-russia-not-the-united-states/?_utl_t=fb on October 3, 2015.
There is only one solution Vyvadil argues and that’s to ditch the United States, as Washington has miserably failed as the leader of the international community.
“Leadership has to be given to Russia,” the journalist said, as cited by Parlamentnilisty.cz.
The author argued that Russian President Vladimir Putin, unlike his US colleague, has shown that he cares about problems in the Middle East and most importantly he understands that the refugee crisis in Europe and the rise of ISIL are tightly interconnected, and that’s the only way to solve these problems is to support the legitimately elected government of al-Assad and his national army. Putin has also shown that he can talk with Israel and take into account the interests of Iranian and Iraqi leaders.
If Europe continues to blindly follow Washington’s leash, the number of refugees fleeing from the Middle East and North Africa to Europe will keep growing further. Nothing will stop them — no fences, no security guards, no refugee receiving stations, the Czech journalist warned.
Russian President Vladimir Putin gave a speech to the U.N. General Assembly on Monday and said sadly that the West was making an "enormous mistake" by not cooperating with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the struggle against ISIS. With regard to US-NATO conduct in Middle Eastern affairs he said,“I cannot help asking those who have caused this situation: Do you realize now what you have done? [...] "[...]It is hypocritical and irresponsible to make loud declarations about the threat of international terrorism while turning a blind eye to the channels of financing and supporting terrorists, including the process of trafficking and illicit trade in oil and arms. It would be equally irresponsible to try to manipulate extremist groups and place them at one's service in order to achieve one's own political goals in the hope of later dealing with them or, in other words, liquidating them. To those who do so, I would like to say — dear sirs, no doubt you are dealing with rough and cruel people, but they're in no way primitive or silly. They are just as clever as you are, and you never know who is manipulating whom. And the recent data on arms transferred to this most moderate opposition is the best proof of it."
PUTIN (via interpreter): Your excellency Mr. President, your excellency Mr. Secretary General, distinguished heads of state and government, ladies and gentlemen, the 70th anniversary of the United Nations is a good occasion to both take stock of history and talk about our common future.
In 1945, the countries that defeated Nazism joined their efforts to lay solid foundations for the postwar world order.
But I remind you that the key decisions on the principles guiding the cooperation among states, as well as on the establishment of the United Nations, were made in our country, in Yalta, at the meeting of the anti-Hitler coalition leaders.
The Yalta system was actually born in travail. It was won at the cost of tens of millions of lives and two world wars.
This swept through the planet in the 20th century.
Let us be fair. It helped humanity through turbulent, at times dramatic, events of the last seven decades. It saved the world from large-scale upheavals.
The United Nations is unique in its legitimacy, representation and universality. It is true that lately the U.N. has been widely criticized for supposedly not being efficient enough, and for the fact that the decision-making on fundamental issues stalls due to insurmountable differences, first of all, among the members of the Security Council.
However, I'd like to point out there have always been differences in the U.N. throughout all these 70 years of existence. The veto right has always been exercised by the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China, the Soviet Union and Russia later, alike. It is absolutely natural for so diverse and representative an organization.
When the U.N. was established, its founders did not in the least think that there would always be unanimity. The mission of the organization is to seek and reach compromises, and its strength comes from taking different views and opinions into consideration. Decisions debated within the U.N. are either taken as resolutions or not. As diplomats say, they either pass or do not pass.
Whatever actions any state might take bypassing this procedure are illegitimate. They run counter to the charter and defy international law. We all know that after the end of the Cold War — everyone is aware of that — a single center of domination emerged in the world, and then those who found themselves at the top of the pyramid were tempted to think that if they were strong and exceptional, they knew better and they did not have to reckon with the U.N., which, instead of [acting to] automatically authorize and legitimize the necessary decisions, often creates obstacles or, in other words, stands in the way.
It has now become commonplace to see that in its original form, it has become obsolete and completed its historical mission. Of course, the world is changing and the U.N. must be consistent with this natural transformation. Russia stands ready to work together with its partners on the basis of full consensus, but we consider the attempts to undermine the legitimacy of the United Nations as extremely dangerous. They could lead to a collapse of the entire architecture of international organizations, and then indeed there would be no other rules left but the rule of force.
We would get a world dominated by selfishness rather than collective work, a world increasingly characterized by dictate rather than equality. There would be less of a chain of democracy and freedom, and that would be a world where true independent states would be replaced by an ever-growing number of de facto protectorates and externally controlled territories.
What is the state sovereignty, after all, that has been mentioned by our colleagues here? It is basically about freedom and the right to choose freely one's own future for every person, nation and state. By the way, dear colleagues, the same holds true of the question of the so-called legitimacy of state authority. One should not play with or manipulate words.
Every term in international law and international affairs should be clear, transparent and have uniformly understood criteria. We are all different, and we should respect that. No one has to conform to a single development model that someone has once and for all recognized as the only right one. We should all remember what our past has taught us.
We also remember certain episodes from the history of the Soviet Union. Social experiments for export, attempts to push for changes within other countries based on ideological preferences, often led to tragic consequences and to degradation rather than progress.
It seemed, however, that far from learning from others' mistakes, everyone just keeps repeating them, and so the export of revolutions, this time of so-called democratic ones, continues. It would suffice to look at the situation in the Middle East and North Africa, as has been mentioned by previous speakers. Certainly political and social problems in this region have been piling up for a long time, and people there wish for changes naturally.
But how did it actually turn out? Rather than bringing about reforms, an aggressive foreign interference has resulted in a brazen destruction of national institutions and the lifestyle itself. Instead of the triumph of democracy and progress, we got violence, poverty and social disaster. Nobody cares a bit about human rights, including the right to life.
I cannot help asking those who have caused the situation, do you realize now what you've done? But I am afraid no one is going to answer that. Indeed, policies based on self-conceit and belief in one's exceptionality and impunity have never been abandoned.
It is now obvious that the power vacuum created in some countries of the Middle East and North Africa through the emergence of anarchy areas, which immediately started to be filled with extremists and terrorists.
Tens of thousands of militants are fighting under the banners of the so-called Islamic State. Its ranks include former Iraqi servicemen who were thrown out into the street after the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Many recruits also come from Libya, a country whose statehood was destroyed as a result of a gross violation of the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973. And now, the ranks of radicals are being joined by the members of the so-called moderate Syrian opposition supported by the Western countries.
First, they are armed and trained and then they defect to the so-called Islamic State. Besides, the Islamic State itself did not just come from nowhere. It was also initially forged as a tool against undesirable secular regimes.
Having established a foothold in Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State has begun actively expanding to other regions. It is seeking dominance in the Islamic world. And not only there, and its plans go further than that. The situation is more than dangerous.
In these circumstances, it is hypocritical and irresponsible to make loud declarations about the threat of international terrorism while turning a blind eye to the channels of financing and supporting terrorists, including the process of trafficking and illicit trade in oil and arms. It would be equally irresponsible to try to manipulate extremist groups and place them at one's service in order to achieve one's own political goals in the hope of later dealing with them or, in other words, liquidating them.
To those who do so, I would like to say — dear sirs, no doubt you are dealing with rough and cruel people, but they're in no way primitive or silly. They are just as clever as you are, and you never know who is manipulating whom. And the recent data on arms transferred to this most moderate opposition is the best proof of it.
We believe that any attempts to play games with terrorists, let alone to arm them, are not just short-sighted, but fire hazardous (ph). This may result in the global terrorist threat increasing dramatically and engulfing new regions, especially given that Islamic State camps train militants from many countries, including the European countries.
Unfortunately, dear colleagues, I have to put it frankly: Russia is not an exception. We cannot allow these criminals who already tasted blood to return back home and continue their evil doings. No one wants this to happen, does he?
Russia has always been consistently fighting against terrorism in all its forms. Today, we provide military and technical assistance both to Iraq and Syria and many other countries of the region who are fighting terrorist groups.
We think it is an enormous mistake to refuse to cooperate with the Syrian government and its armed forces, who are valiantly fighting terrorism face to face. We should finally acknowledge that no one but President Assad's armed forces and Kurds (ph) militias are truly fighting the Islamic State and other terrorist organizations in Syria.
We know about all the problems and contradictions in the region, but which were (ph) based on the reality.
Dear colleagues, I must note that such an honest and frank approach of Russia has been recently used as a pretext to accuse it of its growing ambitions, as if those who say it have no ambitions at all.
However, it's not about Russia's ambitions, dear colleagues, but about the recognition of the fact that we can no longer tolerate the current state of affairs in the world. What we actually propose is to be guided by common values and common interests, rather than ambitions.
On the basis of international law, we must join efforts to address the problems that all of us are facing and create a genuinely broad international coalition against terrorism.
Similar to the anti-Hitler coalition, it could unite a broad range of forces that are resolutely resisting those who, just like the Nazis, sow evil and hatred of humankind. And, naturally, the Muslim countries are to play a key role in the coalition, even more so because the Islamic State does not only pose a direct threat to them, but also desecrates one of the greatest world religions by its bloody crimes.
The ideologists (ph) of militants make a mockery of Islam and pervert its true humanistic (ph) values. I would like to address Muslim spiritual leaders, as well. Your authority and your guidance are of great importance right now.
It is essential to prevent people recruited by militants from making hasty decisions and those who have already been deceived, and who, due to various circumstances found themselves among terrorists, need help in finding a way back to normal life, laying down arms, and putting an end to fratricide.
Russia will shortly convene, as the (ph) current president of the Security Council, a ministerial meeting to carry out a comprehensive analysis of threats in the Middle East.
First of all, we propose discussing whether it is possible to agree on a resolution aimed at coordinating the actions of all the forces that confront the Islamic State and other terrorist organizations. Once again, this coordination should be based on the principles of the U.N. Charter.
We hope that the international community will be able to develop a comprehensive strategy of political stabilization, as well as social and economic recovery, of the Middle East.
Then, dear friends, there would be no need for new refugee camps. Today, the flow of people who were forced to leave their homeland has literally engulfed first neighboring countries and then Europe itself. There were hundreds of thousands of them now, and there might be millions before long. In fact, it is a new great and tragic migration of peoples, and it is a harsh lesson for all of us, including Europe.
I would like to stress refugees undoubtedly need our compassion and support. However, the — on the way to solve this problem at a fundamental level is to restore their statehood where it has been destroyed, to strengthen the government institutions where they still exist or are being reestablished, to provide comprehensive assistance of military, economic and material nature to countries in a difficult situation. And certainly, to those people who, despite all the ordeals, will not abandon their homes. Literally, any assistance to sovereign states can and must be offered rather than imposed exclusively and solely in accordance with the U.N. Charter.
In other words, everything in this field that has been done or will be done pursuant to the norms of international law must be supported by our organization. Everything that contravenes the U.N. Charter must be rejected. Above all, I believe it is of the utmost importance to help restore government's institutions in Libya, support the new government of Iraq and provide comprehensive assistance to the legitimate government of Syria.
Dear colleagues, ensuring peace and regional and global stability remains the key objective of the international community with the U.N. at its helm. We believe this means creating a space of equal and indivisible security, which is not for the select few but for everyone. Yet, it is a challenge and complicated and time-consuming task, but there is simply no other alternative. However, the bloc thinking of the times of the Cold War and the desire to explore new geopolitical areas is still present among some of our colleagues.
First, they continue their policy of expanding NATO. What for? If the Warsaw Bloc stopped its existence, the Soviet Union have collapsed (ph) and, nevertheless, the NATO continues expanding as well as its military infrastructure. Then they offered the poor Soviet countries a false choice: either to be with the West or with the East. Sooner or later, this logic of confrontation was bound to spark off a grave geopolitical crisis. This is exactly what happened in Ukraine, where the discontent of population with the current authorities was used and the military coup was orchestrated from outside — that triggered a civil war as a result.
We're confident that only through full and faithful implementation of the Minsk agreements of February 12th, 2015, can we put an end to the bloodshed and find a way out of the deadlock. Ukraine's territorial integrity cannot be ensured by threat of force and force of arms. What is needed is a genuine consideration for the interests and rights of the people in the Donbas region and respect for their choice. There is a need to coordinate with them as provided for by the Minsk agreements, the key elements of the country's political structure. These steps will guarantee that Ukraine will develop as a civilized society, as an essential link and building a common space of security and economic cooperation, both in Europe and in Eurasia.
Ladies and gentlemen, I have mentioned these common space of economic cooperation on purpose. Not long ago, it seemed that in the economic sphere, with its objective market loss, we would launch a leaf (ph) without dividing lines. We would build on transparent and jointly formulated rules, including the WTO principles, stipulating the freedom of trade, and investment and open competition.
Nevertheless, today, unilateral sanctions circumventing the U.N. Charter have become commonplace, in addition to pursuing political objectives. The sanctions serve as a means of eliminating competitors.
I would like to point out another sign of a growing economic selfishness. Some countries [have] chosen to create closed economic associations, with the establishment being negotiated behind the scenes, in secret from those countries' own citizens, the general public, business community and from other countries.
Other states whose interests may be affected are not informed of anything, either. It seems that we are about to be faced with an accomplished fact that the rules of the game have been changed in favor of a narrow group of the privileged, with the WTO having no say. This could unbalance the trade system completely and disintegrate the global economic space.
These issues affect the interest of all states and influence the future of the world economy as a whole. That is why we propose discussing them within the U.N. WTO NGO (ph) '20.
Contrary to the policy of exclusiveness, Russia proposes harmonizing original economic projects. I refer to the so-called integration of integrations based on universal and transparent rules of international trade. As an example, I would like to cite our plans to interconnect the Eurasian economic union, and China's initiative of the Silk Road economic belt.
We still believe that harmonizing the integration processes within the Eurasian Economic Union and the European Union is highly promising.
Ladies and gentlemen, the issues that affect the future of all people include the challenge of global climate change. It is in our interest to make the U.N. Climate Change Conference to be held in December in Paris a success.
As part of our national contribution, we plan to reduce by 2030 the greenhouse emissions to 70, 75 percent of the 1990 level.
I suggest, however, we should take a wider view on this issue. Yes, we might defuse the problem for a while, by setting quotas on harmful emissions or by taking other measures that are nothing but tactical. But we will not solve it that way. We need a completely different approach.
We have to focus on introducing fundamental and new technologies inspired by nature, which would not damage the environment, but would be in harmony with it. Also, that would allow us to restore the balance upset by biosphere and technosphere (ph) upset by human activities.
It is indeed a challenge of planetary scope, but I'm confident that humankind has intellectual potential to address it. We need to join our efforts. I refer, first of all, to the states that have a solid research basis and have made significant advances in fundamental science.
We propose convening a special forum under the U.N. auspices for a comprehensive consideration of the issues related to the depletion of natural resources, destruction of habitat and climate change.
Russia would be ready to co-sponsor such a forum.
Ladies and gentlemen, colleagues, it was on the 10th of January, 1946, in London that the U.N. General Assembly gathered for its first session.
Mr. Suleta (ph) (inaudible), a Colombian diplomat and the chairman of the Preparatory Commission, opened the session by giving, I believe, a concise definition of the basic principles that the U.N. should follow in its activities, which are free will, defiance of scheming and trickery and spirit of cooperation.
Today, his words sound as a guidance for all of us. Russia believes in the huge potential of the United Nations, which should help us avoid a new global confrontation and engage in strategic cooperation. Together with other countries, we will consistently work towards strengthening the central coordinating role of the U.N. I'm confident that by working together, we will make the world stable and safe, as well as provide conditions for the development of all states and nations.
Multi-signatoried letter to UK Guardian Saturday 26 September 2015: We are gravely concerned at the possibility of a parliamentary decision to bomb Syria. David Cameron is planning such a vote in the #005689">House of Commons in the near future. He is doing so in the face of much evidence that such an action would exacerbate the situation it is supposed to solve. Already we have seen the killing of civilians and the exacerbation of a refugee crisis which is largely the product of wars in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan. The US and its allies have dropped 20,000 bombs on Iraq and #005689">Syria in the past year, with little effect. We fear that this latest extension of war will only worsen the threat of terrorism, as have the previous wars involving the British government. Cameron is cynically using the refugee crisis to urge more war. He should not be allowed to.
Mark Rylance Charlotte Church John Williams Mairead Maguire Nobel peace laureate Brian Eno Len McCluskey General secretary, Unite the Union Christine Shawcroft Labour NEC Diane Abbott MP Jenny Tonge Caroline Lucas MP Andrew Murray Chair, Stop the War Campaign Lindsey German Convenor, STWC Tariq Ali John Pilger Tim Lezard David Edgar Alan Gibbons Andy de la Tour Michael Rosen Eugene Skeef Victoria Brittain Anders Lustgarten David Gentleman David Swanson Gerry Grehan Peace People Belfast
We renew our call made five months ago for the governments of the US and UK to cease turning a blind eye to war crimes and to the destruction of Yemen by aerial bombardment and blockade of food and fuel. Behind a virtual silence in the western media, the US and the UK have inexplicably acquiesced in the ruination of #005689">Yemen. We renew our call for a sharp change in policy: to work for an immediate ceasefire, to respect Yemeni sovereignty, and to foster political negotiations between the Yemeni parties in the neutral state of Oman, or elsewhere. We reject our countries’ unconscionable support for this war and urge a diplomatic solution.
Robert Burrowes University of Washington Louise Cainkar Marquette University Steve Caton Harvard University Sheila Carapico University of Richmond Rochelle Davis Georgetown University Paul Dresch University of Oxford Najam Haidar Barnard College Anne Meneley Trent University (Canada) Brinkley Messick Columbia University Flagg Miller University of California, Davis Martha Mundy London School of Economics Jillian Schwedler Hunter College, CUNY Graduate Center Lucine Taminian American Academic Research Institute in Iraq Gabriele vom Bruck Soas, University of London Janet Watson University of Leeds Lisa Wedeen University of Chicago Shelagh Weir London John Willis University of Colorado Stacey Philbrick Yadav Hobart and William Smith Colleges Sami Zubaida Birkbeck College, London
While European governments cry crocodile tears over the mass migration of people from this region, Syrians are trying to get them and the US to stop backing so-called 'rebels' who are the very ones forcing people out of the region. The video inside came to candobetter.net from a source describing itself as 'a group of Syrian journalists (living in Syria) who have created a new Middle East Channel'. The video shows Syrian civilians who have come from near Idlib protesting outside the Red Cross in Damascus about the silence of the international press on the predicament of two villages isolated behind enemy ['rebel'] -held areas above Idlib, where two villagers have been kidnapped by Islamic extremists.
Note that these rural protesters in the film feel quite comfortable about travelling into Damascus, which is still held safe by the democratically elected Syrian government (usually misreported as 'brutal unelected regime' by the US/NATO sympathetic press). The protesters visiting Damascus are complaining that US/NATO has been misled into supporting the very people who persecute and kill villagers, whilst targeting the Syrian government with clichéd imagined war crimes involving 'barrel bombs'.
'Barrel bombs' has become a kind of code in Syria for what a sick joke the mainstream press that supports US/NATO is.
The narrators in the film say that the region surrounding the villages has been invaded by what the international community refers to erroneously as 'moderate fighters'. These 'moderates' are now blocking access by the villagers to the the rest of Syria. The villagers are specifically trying to get world attention about how two members of these villages have been kidnapped by Islamic Extremists coming from US/NATO ally, Turkey, (which is aiding and abetting the 'rebel' extremists.)
The man pictured is saying, "Where's the UN? Where's the Human Rights? Where are all of these NGOs? If someone got a stomach ache or had diarhorrea in Douma, they get alerted and make a statement, starting by Ban Ki Moon. And so on. While we are 4000 people, Kfaria and Foua, [the abducted villagers] and nobody cares about us."
The Syrian Arab Army is fighting a war but not against anti government rebels as depicted in the mainstream media, rather its a dirty war against a merciless, depraved and bloodthirsty proxy army funded, armed and supported by the Empire interventionist alliance [US, Turkey, KSA, Jordan, NATO, Israel]. It is now well documented that Turkey is the main rat run, supplying weapons, supplies, chemical weapon ingredients and manpower often via the pseudo aid convoys. Serena Shim reported that WHO trucks were running arms and equipment to “rebels” shortly before she was killed in a mysterious car accident, after receiving death threats."HRW, Amnesty International and assorted Humanitarian offshoots are on a ceaseless crusade against the SAA use of barrel bombs. Today, Ken Roth even compared the use of Barrel bombs to the destruction caused by the nuclear bomb used on Hiroshima.
Barrel bombs are also responsible for all refugees…not our Governments imperialist, murderous plundering of sovereign nations. Then the “delectable” Annie Sparrow [ Roth’s wife] is blaming all destruction in Idlib on the SAA, never a mention of US backed terrorist chemical weapons, hell cannons, mortars, suicide bombers, beheaders, racists and rapists.
The barrel bomb itself is a rudimentary missile, cheap to produce [around $ 200 per bomb depending upon level of TNT]. It has design faults in that the fins on the bomb are still not aerodynamically perfect, despite several changes. The detonation depends upon the bomb falling vertically on to its nose to trigger the detonator. It actually has a relatively high failure rate but even undetonated they are relatively safe as it would take serious nose pressure to detonate. Its supposed advantage is that it can be launched from helicopters and the accusation is always that only the SAA use helicopters in Syrian airspace. This has been proven untrue. It has been well documented that Turkey supplied helicopter cover for terrorist forces. “In the morning attack on Kassab, Syria on March 21, 2014 it was Turkish military helicopters which began the attack. That morning 88 unarmed civilians were killed, and 13 of those beheaded. The Turkish military assisted the FSA, Jibhat al Nusra, and Al Qaeda that morning with heavy canon fire and helicopter missiles shot at the Kassab police station.”
It must be remembered that the SAA is fighting a war but not against anti government rebels as depicted in the mainstream media, rather its a dirty war against a merciless, depraved and bloodthirsty proxy army funded, armed and supported by the Empire interventionist alliance [US, Turkey, KSA, Jordan, NATO, Israel]. It is now well documented that Turkey is the main rat run, supplying weapons, supplies, chemical weapon ingredients and manpower often via the pseudo aid convoys. Serena Shim reported that WHO trucks were running arms and equipment to “rebels” shortly before she was killed in a mysterious car accident, after receiving death threats.
In war, civilian life is lost, it is unavoidable and particularly when terrorists embed themselves into civilian areas, converting civilians into human shields. Of course this is never mentioned by the Ken Roths and Annie Sparrows. Neither is it mentioned that the SAA make every feasible effort to evacuate densely populated civilian areas prior to targeting terrorist cells.
Another aspect of this warfare that is consummately ignored are the terrorist mortars and hell cannons that cause extensive structural damage and massacre civilians with a range of up to one mile. How is it that these HRW “witnesses” on the ground [presumably under a barrage of missiles from both SAA and “rebels”] can categorically state what is causing damage and loss of life. The unreliable barrel bomb or the ground based and mobile hell cannon units that fire upon civilian areas indiscriminately or even the terrorist dug tunnels, packed with explosives and detonated as a diversion before they attack SAA/NDF positions.
Terrorist forces packing gas canisters with explosives to arm their Hell Cannons
” The people are crying and terrified by the “moderate peaceful opposition”. But we can’t bomb them because the “international community” will blame the Syrian army of using their unprecedented super ultra weapon that is way stronger than a nuclear bomb: Barrel bombs!
The terrorists are using mortars, explosive bullets, cooking-gas cylinders bombs and water-warming long cylinders bombs, filled up with explosives and shrapnel and nails, in what they call “Hell Canon”. (google these weapons or see their YouTube clips. The cooking-gas cylinder is made of steel, and it weighs around 25 kg. Imagine it thrown by a canon to hit civilians? And imagine knowing that it’s full with explosives?… Yet, the media is busy with the legendary weapon of “barrel bombs”! They came to spread “freedom” among Syrians! How dare they say that Syrian army shouldn’t fight them back?
For the first time last night, we smelled gunpowder. The shelling was so extreme to smell gunpowder in the air.
Results were nothing but new innocent victims. I mean, the terrorists failed in gaining new land, or occupying new buildings or quarters. They lost many of their “zombies”, but they don’t count, because they have no families or friends to weep on them like the case with civilians.
I apologize that I’m very upset, mostly not from the attackers and whoever is supporting them in Turkey over here (and Israel and Jordan in the south); but mainly from the liars in that conference in Britain or at the UN , who keep lying and lying, piles and tons of lies, about “freedom” and “barrel bombs” and live in their perfumed and ironed suites and ties, happy with their Ph.D. degrees in stupidity and fooling the world, having no problem in obtaining clean water, electricity, warm food, and the rest of services that we are suffering over here to obtain part of them. Those people travel in 1st class airlines, and live in 5 stars hotels, and ready to come on tv channels to weep upon the “Syrian people” and blame the “regime” while giving a blind eye upon all the terrorists they are funding and supporting. I wish these people, whether they were Arabs or Westerns, Muslims or Christians, Syrians or others… I wish them Hell! And to taste and suffer the same pain they caused to innocent people.
Syrian army had defended the city, and all the lies on the media claiming the terrorists victories are nothing but rumours and gossip.
President Bashar al-Assad had gifted Aleppo yesterday with about $15.5 million as an urgent aid to the city.”
Hell cannon Aleppo
The Hell cannon is a “wildly inaccurate” weapon even according to the Empire one man propaganda band, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. In Aleppo the SAA is marooned in the centre of the Old Citadel and is fired upon by “rebel” positions scattered throughout the city. These inaccurate weapons are known to have caused massive damage to ancient Aleppo edifices but have also torn into civilian areas and ripped civilian limbs and bodies into shreds.
Hell cannon Aleppo
“Aleppo city has shrunk to a fifth of its original size, and became so crowded with refugees that fled their areas after they fell into terrorist hands. I walk everyday in the city. I see children, young girls without limbs because of a terrorist mortar or shrapnel that targets them randomly and causes terrible wounds and horrific memories that will never leave them. The girl who lost one leg is standing on her good leg and selling bread, while the little boy who lost one arm is selling chewing gum. Those are the “injured” people who are mentioned fleetingly in the news, just numbers in one line of a report, after each attack from the terrorists. “Injured” doesn’t mean scratched or having a bleeding finger; it means someone lost his eyes or her limbs.”
There is, undeniably, a need to report upon all mortalities as a result of this devastating proxy conflict. However the glaring bias towards the demonization of the legitimate national fighting force, battling a vicious, brutal and mercenary enemy is a despicable insult to the intelligence & courage of the Syrian people and a deliberate obscurantism of truth and the extent of the duplicity and hypocrisy of our own governments.
Responsibility for the refugee crisis, the horrific deaths, rapes and kidnapping of civilians across the Middle East may be laid squarely at their blood soaked feet.
Apart from its illegality under international law, any Australian military involvement in Syria at this stage, even to fight Da’esh, would be both illegitimate and foolish. It is past time that Australia changed its stance on refusing to recognise the legitimately elected government of Syria, and started to support Syria’s fight against the legions of foreign-backed terrorists, including Da’esh – a fight in which the Syrian army has already lost more than 100,000 soldiers, but which it is determined to win.
Dear Tanya Plibersek,
I wrote to you on the 17th of June to notify you of a letter I sent to Julie Bishop through my local MP Cathy McGowan, regarding Australia’s stance on the Syrian conflict. Following news this morning of a reconsideration of Australia’s support for the US coalition against Da’esh by some in the government, I was encouraged to hear your response as expressed to Fran Kelly on RN, and so am resending my submission on this for your consideration.
I will copy my email from June here fyi:
Dear Tanya Plibersek,
Yesterday I wrote to Foreign Minister Julie Bishop challenging the Australian governments position on the Syrian conflict, and particularly on culpability for the use of Chemical Weapons.
I am specially concerned by the recent all out assault on NW Syria by thousands of takfiris brought across the border by Turkey in a plan coordinated with Saudi Arabia and Qatar to overthrow Syria’s legitimate government. Not only has this illegal and lethal assault received little attention from Australian media, but it is implicitly supported by Australia through our operation with the US-led coalition, purportedly fighting Da’ish/Islamic State.
Even though Australian forces are currently limiting operations to Iraq, it is inevitable that this will extend to involvement in Syria as the conflict continues to worsen, unless action is taken now against Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Jordan to immediately cut supply routes to all the terrorist groups operating in Syria.
It is vital that the Australian parliament should examine Australia’s role in the Syrian conflict and make a decision on exactly who we should support based on the facts rather than the shallow and partisan allegations of Opposition activist groups and politically aligned Western media organisations, including our own.
There must come a point where the ‘automatic bipartisan support on National Security matters’ is challenged; this government’s behaviour in multiple foreign conflicts now constitutes the greater threat to our national security.
The situation has of course changed significantly since June, but in two contradictory ways. Firstly the Turkish government has started to ‘cooperate’ with the US in the fight ‘against ISIS’ by allowing the use of Incirlik base to launch airstrikes in Syria, and with talk of creating an ‘ISIS free zone’ in NW Syria. Turkey has no interest in fighting the group which it has actively been supporting for the last couple of years in its fight against the Syrian government, and rather has used this ‘cooperation’ as a way of attacking the PKK and YPG, which are its real opponents.
Despite this completely illegal incursion into Syrian territory, as well as claims by the US that it will not target the Syrian Arab Army, the possible escalation of the ‘civil war’ in Syria is cause for extreme concern.
Besides this development, the last few weeks has seen the most significant Russian diplomacy in the region bring together the Syrian and Saudi security chiefs in Riyadh with a view to jointly fighting all the terrorist groups in Syria, including the Al Nusra forces that the KSA and Turkey have been supporting. While the Saudis are currently refusing to accept the Russian proposal, and position that the Syrian government of President Assad is non-negotiable, Russia’s diplomacy is clearly backed by formidable forces, including support from Iran and China.
Russia has also made its position quite clear to the US through John Kerry, and even though the US continues to say that ‘Assad must go’, the indication are that the US will finally admit that its project for regime change in Syria has failed.
So apart from its illegality under international law, any Australian military involvement in Syria at this stage, even to fight Da’esh, would be both illegitimate and foolish. It is passed time that Australia changed its stance on refusing to recognise the legitimately elected government of Syria, and started to support Syria’s fight against the legions of foreign-backed terrorists, including Da’esh – a fight in which the Syrian army has already lost more than 100,000 soldiers, but which it is determined to win.
I urge the Labor party to make a stand on this issue, as well as demanding that any further commitment of Australian forces in foreign conflicts must be debated and decided by parliament.
I will follow up this letter with a phone call, and look forward to your response.
kind regards, David Macilwain, Sandy Creek, Victoria.
Candobetter.net editor: Must Read! This is a brilliant and hilarious satire. Humour with a sting:Several people have asked me recently why I always seem to be writing about the Middle East. "Why don't you ever write about anything else?"
Of course I write about other stuff -- but the Middle East is so much more interesting and entertaining than anything else! The Middle East is definitely more interesting, entertaining and even weirder than any soap opera, reality show or action flick that Hollywood could ever produce. Fascinating stuff.
I'm always amazed that so few other Americans aren't just totally fascinated by the Middle East too. Or even that there isn't at least one daytime soap opera devoted solely to the subject -- if for no other reason than that the Middle East has some of the greatest villains of all time!
According to journalist Daniel Lazare, "After years of hemming and hawing, the Obama administration has finally come clean about its goals in Syria. In the battle to overthrow Bashar al-Assad, it is siding with Al Qaeda." War Street, you've been busted as the Bad Guy -- and on national television too! http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article41742.htm
Or take Saudi Arabia -- another shining example of epic villain-a-lishious-ness at its best. That country has been playing the villain since way back in 1930 -- when it invaded the Republic of Yemen for the first time after Yemen actually dared to become a democracy. Then the Saudi regime went on to help America create Osama bin Ladin, finance the Taliban and dirty their hands with 9-11. And now the Saudi regime is financing and training ISIS. Doesn't get more juicy than that. http://www.veteranstoday.com/2015/04/27/saudi-security-forces-arrest-expel-over-174000-people-in-1-month/
And then there is Syria. What is going on there right now is even better than "One Life to Live". How many Americans even know who Bashar Assad is? The poor guy has a couple of corrupt, sleazy relatives that the Saudi, American, Turkish and Israeli regimes have spent the last four years trying to put into power. Why? Because power corrupts -- so Assad's relatives are already trained to be as corrupt as their sponsors. How "Dallas" can you get? https://consortiumnews.com/2015/04/27/syrias-nightmarish-narrative/
And of course Turkey is now in the mix too -- just can't keep its hands off of ISIS, the designated "fem fatale" in this reality show. But Turkey had better watch out. ISIS is a psychopath and Turkish citizens do not like President Erdo?an cheating on them and messing around with her instead. /node/4397
Or take Iraq -- the ultimate reality show. Outwit, outlast and outplay. Plus all the principle soap opera characters are there in Iraq too. You got the lying bitch (mostly America), the BFF (mostly Britain and France), the scheming scoundrel who will stop at nothing to get rich (mostly Bibi Netanyahu) and the struggling anti-hero (mostly Syrians trying to chase ISIS out of Syria) trying to thwart the Bad Guys (mostly ISIS, but with ISIS's secret suppliers Saudi Arabia, Israel, America and Turkey thrown in). http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/05/world/europe/fertilizer-also-suited-for-bombs-flows-to-isis-territory-from-turkey.html?_r=1
You just gotta love all that plotting, counter-plotting and backstabbing now taking place in the Middle East -- such as when General Sisi in Egypt overthrew a democratically-elected government in order to be America's date to the prom. Or when the Saudi Arabian regime, source of 9-11 and Osama bin Ladin, comes out smelling like a rose and being America's BFF. Or not.
You want action and drama? No problem there either. The Middle East has it all! America, NATO, Britain and France get together and bomb the crap out of Libya (for her own good), put Al Qaeda in charge of Libya for even more raping and pillaging fun (she asked for it) -- but then deserts fair Libya in her darkest hour of need. And even though Libya is not technically actually in the Middle East, you can still just sit back and watch the fun.
And ditto for Afghanistan. Lots of action, drama, lies and skullduggery there too -- even though it also is not technically located in the Middle East.
Plus who wouldn't want to hear the exciting story about brave and heroic Palestinians fighting for their freedom -- only to be called angry sluts by the American media. Or how the brave and heroic Yemenis, fighting for their freedom, get bombed back to the Stone Age by the despotic Saudis who still somehow manage to come out as the Good Guys -- even after training and financing ISIS. How do they do that? How do they just keep getting away with that again and again? Will they ever get their comeuppance? Apparently not. But stay tuned.
And then there is the Israeli regime, staring as the "scheming patriarch" character, forcing America to do its dirty work so it can take over the Middle East. Bibi Netanyahu is like a Mafia don or the villain on "The Bold and the Beautiful" or "Dark Shadows" -- always scheming behind the scenes. He's like Angelique Bouchard or Sheila Carter. What's not to love about him?
Why would anybody who loves soap operas and/or reality shows, action movies or even murder-mysteries and thrillers even think of ever not keeping up with events in the Middle East? Entertainment at its best!
Too bad, however, that more than a million lives have been lost so far in these productions -- but, for Wall Street and War Street, that's just one of the costs of being in show business.
"If Americans are ever going to survive the Golden Age of Endless War (and the rest of the world is going to survive it too), then we need to elect a president in 2016 who will not bomb, kill, torture, blow up, blast, maim, blitzkrieg, drone-strike or otherwise do bad things to other human beings (or to us either). America needs a new foreign policy -- one that is not just a high-tech version of foreign policies currently deployed by ISIS and the Taliban."
Apparently our Bernie has a tenancy to vote for supporting War Street a lot -- even though he refuses to kiss Wall Street's bottom. Not good.
We've already gotten suckered into voting for a War President when we elected Barack Obama. And Hillary Clinton talks a good talk about her proposed domestic policy -- but she too has that "War President" gleam in her eyes.
And then my friend Rita said, "Sanders always votes for war and military spending. Look it up." Oh crap. Not Bernie too. Hell, even Elizabeth Warren doesn't seem to be very much against Endless War these days.
If Americans are ever going to survive the Golden Age of Endless War (and the rest of the world is going to survive it too), then we need to elect a president in 2016 who will not bomb, kill, torture, blow up, blast, maim, blitzkrieg, drone-strike or otherwise do bad things to other human beings (or to us either).
America needs a new foreign policy -- one that is not just a high-tech version of foreign policies currently deployed by ISIS and the Taliban.
And so I'm going to have to give up entirely on the RepubliDems and "Vote Green in Twenty-Sixteen".
And in the meantime, I sorely do apologize to all the people of the world (and also to their corpses and ghosts) for all of the brutal, unconscionable and horrible things that our American political representatives (legally-elected or not) have done to the rest of the world in my name.
"Yarmouk is only a few kilometres south of Damascus. It was once a thriving centre of colour and life with a vibrant market that made it much more than just a Palestinian enclave. Over the last four years though it has been the centre of so much violence and death that it is now the most festering wound on the ailing Syrian body. And perhaps the most tragic dimension of Yarmouk at the moment is the way the suffering of these people is being manipulated to provide a new rationale for Western military intervention."
Originally published at the Prayers for Syria site by Father Dave  under the title of "What's going on in Yarmouk? Title changed to indicate more about subject.
I thought it might prove difficult to get to Yarmouk. My God, it’s hard enough to get into Syria at the moment!
At first I thought we weren’t even going to make it out of Sydney! As soon as the airport authorities saw the word ‘Syria’ on our exit visas we were handed over to the counter-terrorism unit! Even so, we eventually got out of the country, made it smoothly through Beirut airport and then to the Syrian border by taxi, where we found, to our delight, that our visas had been approved. A short drive further and we were at the beautiful Dama Rose hotel, and you wouldn’t know that you were at the centre of a nation-wide war (except for the 40 or so checkpoints that we had to pass through to get there).
I announced our intention to get to Yarmouk right away to the people I thought might be able arrange something, and various phone calls were made. Even so, it wasn’t till we met with the Minister for Tourism the next day (a man whose portfolio sadly leaves him with time on his hands) that the right connections were made and plans were put in place.
Yarmouk is only a few kilometres south of Damascus. It was once a thriving centre of colour and life with a vibrant market that made it much more than just a Palestinian enclave. Over the last four years though it has been the centre of so much violence and death that it is now the most festering wound on the ailing Syrian body. And perhaps the most tragic dimension of Yarmouk at the moment is the way the suffering of these people is being manipulated to provide a new rationale for Western military intervention.
The dominant narrative at the moment is that ISIS, by lodging themselves in Yarmouk, are on the doorstep of the Presidential palace, threatening to take over Damascus! The Assad government, in response, is throwing everything it has at Yarmouk (including its notorious ‘barrel bombs’), killing rebels and civilians alike, in a desperate attempt to stave off the inevitable. The only hope for the poor people of Yarmouk (so the narrative goes) is to send in the Marines!
Of course the Marines don’t have a great track record when it comes to solving other peoples’ problems, especially in the Middle-East (think Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, …). Even so, if the people of Yarmouk are suffering at the hands of a reckless government in its death throes, can we really expect our benign super-powers to sit on their hands?
My thought was that I needed to get to Yarmouk to see for myself what was going on, and we got there.
We got to within about 300 meters of the border anyway, where the Syrian military made sure we stopped. We could see the front line from where we were but, as our guides pointed out, this meant that ISIS snipers could see us too, and so we soon moved off from the main entrance road and entered a school on the government controlled side of the border where a number of Yarmouk residents were being housed as well as schooled.
We spent our first few hours there teaching the children to box. I appreciate that most people would see that as a crazy thing to do but the kids certainly enjoyed themselves. There was lots of laughter and cheering as young and old put on the gloves and learnt how to throw punches against the pads without hurting their hands (which is not as easy as some think).
After we’d exhausted ourselves playing we sat down with the Principal of the school and some of the elders of the camp and talked, while enjoying the obligatory coffee that always accompanies such meetings.
From our day at Yarmouk, and through subsequent discussions with local Palestinians and with others in Damascus who knew what they were talking about, I came to some pretty firm conclusions about the situation in Yarmouk and, as I expected, the truth is pretty much the reverse of what we’re being told.
The Syrian Arab Army are not the chief villains in this drama. On the contrary, the Yarmouk residents that we met were being housed and fed by that army, and the children that we saw treated the army men like benign uncles. Indeed, when one of the officers who was with us put on the gloves and started throwing punches, all the children started cheering for him!
This is what I’d expected to find, as I’d spent time in a similar encampment for displaced persons from Yarmouk almost exactly 12 months earlier. There again we’d met hundreds of children, all of whom had been relocated to safe places by the army, and we’d taught them to box.
So let’s be clear on a few points:
Firstly, Syrian Army never enters Yarmouk. This isn’t contested by anyone on the ground. The army may work inside Yarmouk through their proxies in the Palestinian militia but army personnel never enter the camp themselves.
Likewise, the army does not shell Yarmouk. Clearly the Assad government does not want to be remembered for murdering Palestinians.
Finally (and predictably) those who are fleeing Yarmouk are running in the direction of the Syrian army in order to escape ISIS. They aren’t running to ISIS in order to escape the Syrian army. And the army is finding shelter and protection for the fleeing residents.
This is not to say that every Palestinian loves the Syrian army or the Assad government. Indeed, one Palestinian man I spoke to swore that the army had deliberately shelled ISIS in such a way as to force them into Yarmouk! “Why would they do that?” I asked? “In order to bring ISIS into contact with their other great enemy, Hamas, so that they would destroy each other”.
Whether or not that guy was right, his analysis highlights the absurdity of the other side of the media narrative. ISIS are not threatening the Presidential palace from Yarmouk. On the contrary, whether by design or by good fortune, the Syrian army is probably quite pleased to have ISIS in Yarmouk.
There are apparently only around 2000 ISIS militants in Yarmouk in total, and even with superior weapons (being channeled in from Qatar) it seems that they can still be contained by the Palestinian factions opposing them, let alone the Syrian army who have been containing rebels within Yarmouk for a number of years now. The residents have paid a terrible price for that, but the strategy has certainly been effective in protecting the capital.
And so the big lie needs to be turned on its head. The people of Yarmouk are not suffering at the hands of the Syrian army. They are suffering, but the Syrian Arab Army is probably the best friend they have at the moment.
And the army is not about to be overrun by ISIS troops streaming out of Yarmouk. That’s not to say that the army isn’t in trouble. Indeed, they have real problems to deal with in Aleppo and Idlib, but Yarmouk is a relatively minor headache.
In truth, I’m not sure what more can be done for the people of Yarmouk or for the Syrian army. One thing I am sure about though is that we don’t need the Marines, or any more foreign military intervention in Syria. Indeed, the further away our military stays the better are the chances for the people of Yarmouk and for the country as a whole.
Rev. David B. Smith, B.A. (Hons), B.Th., Dip.A.
Parish Priest, Holy Trinity Dulwich Hill
Professional Boxer, 6th degree black belt,
Senior Trainer, Father Dave’s Fight Club
Manager, Binacrombi Boot Camp
Managing Director, Fighting Fathers Ministries
President, Friends of Sabeel Australia
Marrickville Citizen of the Year 1994 & 2009
Nominated Australian of the Year 2004 & 2009
Guiness World Record “Most Continuous Rounds of Boxing” 2012
Many refugee advocates seem to be entirely unaware that Syria - constantly damned by the mainstream media - is the only country which has given permanent status to the Palestinians who lost their country to Israel. Knowing this gives us a perspective on why US/Israel/NATO is so keen to destroy Syria: their chief target is to destroy any chance of Palestine reestablising itself from Syria. In this article the author, a former resident of Aleppo, with relatives still in Syria, describes some of the history of Palestine-Syrian cooperation and how recently foreign 'Arab Spring' money has religiously radicalised resistance movements in Palestinian refuges in Syria to turn against the secular Syrian Government, to the great satisfaction of Palestine's enemies. Author's name updated 12-4-2015
The situation in Yarmouk (if not in all the region) is so surreal, that I neither can imagine nor describe it without feeling as if I'm drunk or having drug-induced hallucinations. It all looks incoherent to me.
The Syrian government helped "Hamas" for decades, and had suffered international sanctions because of this. It supported them, and gave them safe haven when every other Arab nation refused.
The Syrian government trained Hamas in digging underground tunnels to fight Israel, as a resistance movement. Then the "Arab Spring" started, and the leaders of "Hamas", who are "Muslim Brotherhood" in origin, changed loyalties, thanks to the temptation of the money of Qatar; the allurement of the Great Neo-Ottoman Erdogan; and the glamour of ruling the whole Middle East, starting with Egypt and Tunisia (by their fellow Muslim Brotherhood). They thought they had become a Super Power that didn't need Iranian aid anymore, nor a haven in Syria, nor Hezbollah's training.
It would have been way better if they had just left Syria when it needed friends to stay with it in this time of crisis, or if they had just become neutral and not joined the government or the rebels.
Instead, they stabbed the government in the back! Using all the techniques that had been taught by Syrians, Lebanese, and Iranians to use against the Israelis, they used them against Syrians! They spread the "knowledge" of digging tunnels and taught it to the Free Syrian Army and all those crazy rebels; they taught them how to make bombs in a certain way which both Hezbollah and Syrian intelligence knew that no other Hamas knew!
Then, they created a military faction called "Aknaf Beit al-Maqdes # The Environs of Jerusalem" (ABM), between 26th of Dec 2012 - early Mar 2013, who occupied Al-Yarmouk Refugee Camp and used it as their base against the Syrian government. Their name should mean that they would fight in Jerusalem, not in a refugee camp in Damascus, but that is logic, and we are talking about living a surreal nightmare where nothing makes any sense! That ABM prevented any relations with the Syrian government on grounds that it was going to fall sooner or later, or because it was "infidel", and they don't need its help! People in the camp started to starve, and many died because of extreme starvation as there was no way for food to come in!
Dozen of conciliation attempts had been rejected at the last minute because of the moody and elusive ABM militia, while blaming it on the "murderer regime" of the mainstream media. The Syrian Government chose to use other Palestinian movements to try to regain the camp from the ABM, and the Syrian Arab Army (Syria's army) besieged the whole camp to keep it isolated from Damascus, although it's not that easy because the camp is almost a part of the greater Damascus today. Before these crises, unless you were one of the camp's inhabitants, you would not have known whether you were inside or outside the camp's borders.
In 1948 and 1967 Yamouk was 8 km away from Damascus, but not anymore because of the urban expansion through the intervening decades. The Syrian president didn't want to be involved in a war against any Palestinian movement, because he didn't want history to say that he had once killed a Palestinian refugee. They were defending Damascus city when necessary, and they preferred other loyal Palestinian movements to do the work. (A minor scale proxy war? So be it).
All that time though, Hamas refused to admit their relationship with the ABM militias, claiming that they were individuals from Hamas who took their own decisions, and that they weren't coordinating with the head of Hamas. Everyone though knew that no other than the notorious Khaled Mish'al, one of the main heads of Hamas, who lived in Syria for more than a decade (2001-2012) and who is living today in Qatar, was the creator of the ABM! A few days ago, Mesh'al reportedly made contact with one the leaders of loyal Palestinian resistance movements in Damascus, Ahmed Jibril, asking for them to assist the ABM against ISIL! For 2 years, he maintained that ABM were not part of Hamas, but lately, he seems more responsible and aware.
'Rebels' refused to use allocated battlefields, preferred civilian areas
Many other nearby towns and small cities had succeeded in conciliation attempts, agreeing that all the armed gangs of "al-Nusra / al-Qa'eda" could leave peacefully to go to other areas. There was a government plan to push them out to some arid areas where there were no civilians, where fighting would be easier and civilian causalities would not be involved.
So, where did these armed gangs go? Right to Yarmouk Refugee Camp, where the ABM greeted them like brothers!
Well, those very "brothers" (who included Palestinians, Syrians, and multinational foreigners) pledged allegiance to no one but the wealthy ISIL, which pays way more than any other terrorist group these days, and which was in the nearby town of el-Hajar el-Aswad.
From el-Hajar el-Aswad, 400 ISIL militants invaded the Refugee Camp at night, in the early hours of April the 1st, where another 200 Nusra fighters joined them, and started their usual orgy of killing against whoever remained of the unfortunate people and the elusive ABM fighters.
The outcome was that ABM fighters divided into 3 factions: One division joined ISIL; the other resisted it and fought it; and the third surrendered to the loyal Palestinian parties who besieged the camp, and therefore, to the Syrian Army.
ISIL had invaded most of the camp, and its members beheaded the very elusive heads of ABM militias. They removed the Palestinian flags from the tops of the buildings and trampled them!
The population of Yarmouk before the Syrian crisis was around 150,000. Although mostly Palestinians, many Syrians lived there as well, as individual Syrian families or through intermarriage with Palestinians. Most of them fled within the last few years. Some even made it all the way to Gaza. There they suffered in the last war with Israel, so that they said wherever they go the war is running after them. Some of them left for other areas in Syria. Some left Syria completely. Some went to Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, where they discovered the great difference between Palestinian Refugee camps in Syria and Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. In Syrian refugee camps they lived well, with full rights except for voting and citizenship, just like the holders of Green Cards in the U.S., or Permanent Residence in Canada, and a special passport which permitted them to travel. They were entitled to free education and health care, like any Syrian citizen. In the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon they had only minimum rights as human beings, not including the right to work They suffered from the double racial stigma of being both Syrian and Palestinian - the very two nationalities that are so hated by half the Lebanese. (That is another long story for another time.)
After all these events, the number left in Yarmouk before ISIL invasion was less than 20,000.
Now, because ISIL is in the camp, it's a completely different story for the Syrian Arab Army. They won't wait until ISIL becomes a threat to Damascus. The Palestinian authority in Ramallah has told the Syrian government to do whatever they need to do. [#fnYmk1" id="txtYmk1"> 1 ] That means the refugee camp is likely to be flattened like a parking lot very soon, unfortunately.
Hamas has a different attitude. They are asking all fighting parties in the camp to stop the bloodshed between the "brothers"! I bet they are still going to use any Syrian attack against the camp as another smear to demonize the Syrian "regime"!
As PLO Secretary Khaled ‘Abdel-Majeed reportedly said, "If the Syrian Arab Army were dropping perfume they would probably be accused of using chemical weapons". Those mysterious "Barrel Bombs" sound as if they are way more dangerous than any atomic bomb in the mainstream media! Like parrots, they keep talking about that elusive weapon as if it was the most dangerous weapon ever used in wars! [#fnYmk2" id="txtYmk2"> 2 ]
Syria's Palestinian refuges major target of Israel, US NATO war on Syria
Israel is living its real Spring! One of the main goals of that war on Syria, was to destroy the Palestinian refugee suburbs (known as camps) in it, and to create hatred and enmity between Palestinians and Syrians. Each Palestinian refugee camp in Syria and other surrounding states is a memory for the people. They are stubs and seeds for future resistance against Israel, a motivation for all Palestinians to go back home one day in the future.
No wonder that those camps have been attacked everywhere in Syria, for no reason but to scatter their inhabitants and turn them into double and triple refugees, and maybe, to leave that land and go as far away as Latin America, where they do indeed accept Palestinian refugees !!!
Israel's proxy war against Palestinians
But, Israel didn't carry out these acts itself. It had a proxy war. Coordinating with the entire Axis (NATO, Gulf states, ISIL), they succeeded in one of their goals. Whether Hamas knew that and didn't mind because it was drunk with sectarianism and filthy petro-dollars; or they didn't know and thought that they were doing the right thing for their people: the result is a complete catastrophe for Palestinians!
Today, most Syrians say that they don't care about Palestine anymore, and to let them go and liberate their country themselves! I refuse to say so, because I know that this is exactly what Israel wants, however I have a real problem with few of Hamas's corrupted heads and leaders. If the movement doesn't kick them out, or split from Hamas and create another group under another name, there will be no solution for that complex problem.
The wound is so deep, and such treason usually has no cure for many generations to come. I heard for the last eight months that a split has already happened inside Hamas, as the people fighting on the ground in Gaza are very upset with their corrupted leaders in Qatar and Turkey. The fighters in Gaza still have good relations with both Iran and Hezbollah, while their leaders do not, and still have a dream of the Muslim Brotherhood controlling states and countries, thinking this to be an opportunity that comes once a century. They can't let it go without gambling all their resources on it. Turkey and Qatar would make Khaled Mesh'al live in five star hotels with a seven digit bank account, way better than the life of Yarmouk Refugee Camp.
But neither Turkey or Qatar will give him a bullet to fight Israel.
Plus these states are blackmailing those leaders and putting pressure on them by using the People Cards: They are ready to rebuild Gaza, and to feed the Palestinians, but that is not for free. In exchange, I guess, they have to turn into a political authority, just like the one in Ramallah, and get rid of their arms and missiles. More illusions, more promises, more wishful thinking and blah blah blah.
We all saw what happened after the Oslo Accords in the early 90's till today: NOTHING! Or let's say, nothing for the Palestinians, while ongoing benefits for the Israelis.
It's a surreal situation that shows how stupid humans can become. On the subject of Palestinians, the Israeli-Gulf-NATO axis has won and succeeded 100%, unfortunately.
#fnYmk2" id="fnYmk2">3.#txtYmk2"> ↑
With regard to the mythical and legendary weapon of "Barrel Bombs"! It seems that everyone in the whole world is talking about these weapons, and I wonder why, if such a powerful weapon exists in Syria, why the Syrians didn't use it against Israel to liberate the Golan Heights at least? Or is this mythical weapon a pretext to try to prevent he Syrian army from using its airforce against the terrorists? What should the Syrian army use? Swords and Daggers ? It's a war, and it's a very dirty one, against criminal terrorists that have no mercy in their hearts. Those terrorists are launching daily random shells from what they called "Hell Cannon". Hell Cannon is a weapon used against civilians, as a punishment because they didn't join the "Blessed Revolution", and because they supported the "Infidel Regime"! The UN doesn't see those arms, nor the slaughtering, nor the massacres, nor the suicide bombers in children's schools and busy markets. It sees only the mighty "Barrel Bombs"!
#A9F5D0;line-height:120%;">To: Ambassadors of nations on the UN Security Council including Samantha Power of the United States, Francois Delattre of France, Mark Lyall Grant of the UK, Vitaly Churkin of Russia, Liu Jeiyi of China and the non-permanent members
Condemn the war planned and waged by Saudi Arabia against the people of Yemen on behalf of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi the deposed president of Yemen. Demand that Saudi Arabia disband their coalition and immediately cease making war on the people of Yemen and end their 'humanitarian' bombing campaign which is creating a humanitarian disaster in Yemen.
If Saudi Arabia does not immediately comply, refer Prince Mohammad bin Salman, son of King Salman and current Defense Minister of Saudi Arabia, who initiated this brutal and illegal assault on Yemen and it's people to the International Criminal Court.
* Over 200 people, mostly civilian, including 93 children, have been killed by the bombing campaign in Yemen, and 100s more injured so far;
* More than 100,000 people have been displaced by the bombing and fighting in major cities of Yemen;
* There has been major destruction of the physical infrastructure by the bombing in Yemen since the beginning of the Saudi Campaign a couple of weeks ago
*Saudi Arabia has bombed the Houthi homelands in northern Yemen repeatedly over the last decade;
* Saudi Arabia has fought 6 wars for control of Yemen over the last 60 years,
and Given that:
* Prior to the bombing campaign there was indeed conflict in Yemen but it was not resulting in civilian casualties and the destruction of homes, farms, factories, fuel supplies, and other infrastructure on this scale;
* The Houthis have been the only force on the ground mounting a successful resistence to AQAP (al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula);
* Since the Saudi bombing began, AQAP has reemerged in Yemen and mounted devastating attacks against the people of Yemen, in concert with and enabled by the escalating Saudi campaign;
and Given that:
* The Houthis have participated in the political structure to the best of their ability over the last several years;
* According to international experts, the Houthis do not receive significant aid from Iran and are not in any way representing Iran in their struggle to be included in the social and political power structure of their country;
* The Saudis' target, the Houthis, are a legitimate political actor in Yemen;
* This campaign is an intrusion into the internal politics of Yemen;
* The Saudi Campaign against Yemen constitutes a Crime Against Peace and the site of numerous War Crimes;
It is paramount that the United Nations Security Council act on behalf of the oppressed people of Yemen to put an end to Saudi aggression against them so that they can have the opportunity to find their way to a political reconciliation and have the opportunity to live and develop the potential of the sovereign nation of Yemen independent of outside influence.
How it will be delivered
I will mail copies to every representative of a UN Security Council member. If I get enough signatures, I will hold a press conference in New York near the end of next week (April 17 or 18).
Thank you for opposing Harper’s extended and expanded war in Iraq and Syria, and for pointing out in parliament that conducting a military intervention in Syria, without the permission of the Syrian government and the UN Security Council, is a flagrant violation of international law. It’s reassuring to know that “an NDP-led government will end Canada's involvement in this war immediately.”
I am writing today to make three comments on your e-mail message to me, entitled “New Democrats on War in Iraq and Syria.”
First, I would like to draw to your attention that Tunisia is the latest of several countries to re-establish diplomatic ties with the government of Syria. (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-32172974) The Tunisian government went so far as to invite its Syrian counterpart to send an envoy to Tunis.
I feel that it is now incumbent upon you and the New Democratic Party to call upon the government of Canada to re-establish diplomatic relations with the Syrian government as well. This move would help pave the way for a diplomatic solution to the Syrian crisis. It would assist in ending over four years of terrible violence and the suffering of millions of Syrian refugees. It could contribute to the peace process under UN auspices at Geneva, as more and more countries realize that there is no military solution to the tragedy in Syria.
My second comment is that, to the best of my knowledge, neither you nor the NDP caucus have ever publicly declared that you are in favour of the UN-sponsored peace process for Syria. If I am wrong, please correct me. Canadians need to know that the opposition is indeed in favour of the peace process.
Instead, you and other members of the NDP caucus have raised unsubstantiated allegations about the conduct of the Syrian government, namely that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons against its own citizens and that it cooperates with ISIS. Repeating these allegations, which are not supported by the facts or by various UN investigations, is counterproductive to the peace process, since it impedes opening a dialogue with the Syrian government, without whose participation no peace process is possible.
If you have concerns about the conduct of any of the warring parties in Syria, the appropriate place for these concerns to be raised is at the peace conferences at Geneva. Raising these allegations at other times only serves to reinforce the demonization of the Syrian government, which is part and parcel of the Harper government’s determination to have a military, rather than a humanitarian, mission in Iraq and Syria. We all know that this extended and expanded military mission in Syria could easily morph into a regime change operation.
My third comment is that your job as leader of the opposition requires that you hold the Canadian government to account. You might ask why the Harper government saw fit to help the USA organize the pre-conference in Tunisia (in December 2011) for the founding conference in Tunis in February, 2012, of the Friends of Syria Group of Countries (FSG), which group, in turn, organized a covert war for regime change in Syria – partly with Canadian tax dollars. You might demand an accounting for the several millions of our tax dollars that the Harper government donated directly to Syrian “rebels”, who are, in fact, the terrorist mercenaries who morphed into ISIS and invaded Iraq in 2014. You might question the wisdom of the Harper government’s hosting in Ottawa in June of 2013 – with our tax dollars - of a meeting of FSG countries for the purpose of co-ordinating economic sanctions against Syria - again without the approval of the UN Security Council.
Please focus your criticism on the Harper government of Canada and seek positively to influence public opinion for a resumption of diplomatic relations with the government of Syria and the continuation of the UN-sponsored peace process at Geneva.
I look forward to your reply on this very important matter,
member, Hamilton Mountain Federal Riding Association
exec member, Hamilton Coalition To Stop The War
"Bombers in the channel and warships off Britain’s coast… If you believe the British media and some government ministers, it’s only a matter of time before the Red Army complete with snow on their boots turns up on a high street near you. How hot is the new Cold War going to get? Helping us to answer the question is the Guardian's associate editor Seumas Milne." - George Galloway, British MP interviews Seumas Milne.
Seumus Milne: I think in last few weeks and months it has reached fever pitch. You've got the level of media coverage of this crisis in Ukraine now 'Russia's role' in it and Russia's role in Europe and Putin in particular has become hysterical and completely unrelated to reality. And I think it is quite dangerous. I think they're whipping up a kind of war-fever and preparing people for a level of intervention that, you know, British people, people in this part of the world in Western Europe are actually not committed to at all. Nor in the United States. They're trying to lay the ground for a level of action in relation to Russia and the Ukraine that I think is (a) unjustified, and (b) not at all supported by public opinion. But these things have a momentum of their own. And you know, in the last few weeks, we've seen decisions to send American and British troops - in relatively small numbers - we're talking hundreds - but still troops - to Ukraine, which is not a member of NATO, to a zone where there is conflict, in which there's a civil war going on, which Russia is supporting one side in that war and the United States, Britain, France and the other NATO powers are supporting the other side. A government that came to power in an illegal overthrow of an elected government.
And this is a dangerous situation which can spin out of control. So I think it's necessary for us in this part of the world to be actually much tougher with our own governments and our own military and our own media about the stories they're telling about the situation because it's something that can lead to disaster.
I don't think it's the intention of either Russia or the Western powers for this to [turn into a hot war] I don't think the West intends to fight in Ukraine, although it's clearly drawn the line in the NATO states that it's set up in the former Soviet Union - particularly the Baltic States. But, as we're talking about, these things have their own logic and they can lead to their own forms of escalation.
If for example, as there is incredibly strong pressure in the US from both main parties - Republicans and Democrats - to arm the Ukrainian government, which has been resisted up to this point, by France and Germany in particular. If that takes place and they send heavy weapons to Ukrainian forces - by the way, which include fascist militias fighting on the front line in Eastern Ukraine, with names like the Azov Battalion, where they have swastika-like symbols on their arms and belief in racial superiority and white supremacy. These are some of the forces that we're talking about arming and supporting, that the West is supporting at the moment. If that happens and the Russians then increase the level of supplies with heavy weapons to the rebel camp in Eastern Ukraine - You know, the potential for that conflict spinning out of control is very serious!
And, in fact, we've had British generals, you know, like the former British representative at NATO who has been speaking out last week, saying just this: that the potential for what he called total war is there and his argument is, you know, that the British Government and NATO must take this seriously, that military spending must be increased. And a lot of people are using this conflict as a way to try and protect the army and the armed forces from cuts and to, you know, spend more on weapons.
But if people like that themselves are saying it, I think we should take it seriously and wind down the conflict. And raise the pressure, in this country and other parts of the world to wind down this conflict, to de-escalate the conflict. We've got to - At the moment there's a cease-fire in Eastern Ukraine which is more or less holding and some of the heavy weapons have been pulled back from the front line as a result of this so-called Minsk Agreement that was signed last month. But the sending of troops by Britain and America to Ukraine to Kiev actually explicitly breaks that agreement that was signed - the ceasefire agreement. Article 10 in that ceasefire agreement - the Minsk Agreement - stipulates withdrawal of all foreign forces from Ukraine and that has been breached by our own government, by the United States government, directly. But, you know, that agreement is likely to break down again because it doesn't deal with the underlying causes and we're likely to see a new escalation in the months to come.
So we need to be promoting - I think quite seriously - and pressing for an alternative - and an end to this ludicrous anti-Russian propaganda, which is blinding people to the reality of what's going on and making a genuine debate and dialogue about what's taking place impossible because anything that contradicts the NATO line, the western line, which overwhelmingly dominates the western media, is immediately dismissed as Kremlin propaganda. Whatever the truth of it.