Tucker Carlson argues that the Ukraine war follows on from the Russia-gate conspiracy that Hillary Clinton began after losing the 2016 US election.
Western propaganda against Syria has been stepped up, despite recent revelations of how the 'chemical weapons attacks' investigations were rigged by the OPCW, where multiple investigators have come out and blown the whistle. The US-NATO warmongers must be getting quite desperate and have decided that the only way they can keep the ISIS and other terrorist presence in northern Syria is to get Turkey to invade. See "Turkish military op in Idlib only 'matter of time’, Erdogan warns Damascus." We hope this will not come about. Meanwhile, in this video-episode of Going Underground, Afshin Rattansi speaks to Syrian President Bashar Assad's media adviser, Bouthaina Shaaban. She discusses the Syrian Arab Army/pro-government forces victory in Aleppo, which has secured the entire Aleppo region for the first time since 2012, the Idlib offensive and why it has taken so long for the Syrian government to conduct the operation, allegations of Russian and Syrian targeting of civilians in the offensive, her message to President Erdogan in the context of the Turkish occupation of Northern Syria, and more!
You probably didn't fall for the latest western-corporate press nonsense about Russia and Syria 'brutally attacking Idlib Province in Syria', but you may wonder what is really happening. This is how it appears to us: Turkey and the US want to retain a foothold in Idlib, Northern Syria, along with their terrorist proxies, so that they can sell arms, loot the place, and cause chaos in the region. Turkey is playing Russia and the US for whatever it can get out of them. President Erdogan wants to reestablish the Ottoman Empire in his own name and that is part of his plan for trying to acquire territory in Syria. The US has put some sanctions on Turkey because it purchased weapons from the Russians recently, instead of from the US. Turkey is kind of like a major political prostitute for NATO and anyone else with a mutual short-term aim, including ISIS. The Syrian Arab Army (the Syrian government forces) and the Russians are trying to free the terrorists' human shields in Idlib and restore it to order. Against all odds, the Syrian government has managed to take back nearly all of Syria from the terrorists. (Syrian Arab Army Cleans 16 Towns in 24 Hours from NATO Terrorists in Idlib and Aleppo (8/2/20) by Arabi Souli | SyriaNews) This is probably because it is the only force that has massive support from Syrians. The syndicated western press, which trots out guff about Syria attacking its own people, is a mouthpiece for weapons manufacturers, war, US expansionism and neocolonialism, all major investment stocks. By the way, Iran has opened a criminal case against the US for using terrorists to destabilise the region and for multiple murders and war crimes. Meanwhile the US pretends that it is combatting aggression from Iran. See
Iranian lawyers file lawsuit against US over fighters killed in Syria, Sunday, 09 February 2020
SAA Cleans 16 Towns in 24 Hours from NATO Terrorists in Idlib and Aleppo
[Article below originally published here: https://www.syrianews.cc/saa-cleans-16-towns-in-24-hours-from-nato-terrorists-in-idlib-and-aleppo/]
The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) responded to the threats of the Turkish pariah Erdogan to withdraw from the Syrian territories and restore al-Qaeda terrorists in the towns and villages recently cleaned from them, by cleaning 16 more towns and villages in the past day alone and continuing.
The Syrian army in a direct challenge to NATO’s Turkish Army and its neo-Ottoman leaders yesterday liberated eight towns in the eastern countryside of Idlib amid a collapse among the ranks of armed terrorists and managed to liberate part of the Aleppo highway, north of Saraqib, which is of great strategic importance because it is a meeting point between the two international roads Aleppo – Damascus, and Aleppo – Latakia.
SAA’s military operations continue on two axes in the north of the country to liberate the rest of the International Damascus-Aleppo M5 Artery, of which more than 85 percent have been liberated. The first axis starts from the southern Aleppo countryside and seeks to reach the strategic Hill of Al-Issa, and the second axis in the eastern countryside of Idlib, specifically from the city of Saraqib.
The Syrian Army advances in Idlib and Aleppo countryside and liberates more than 85% of Aleppo International Highway – Damascus, known as M5.
On the axis of the southern Aleppo countryside, the Syrian army managed to liberate the villages of Khalma, Hamera, Khan Touman, Zethan, and Berna, to arrive at the outskirts of the strategic Hill of Al-Issa, which is considered the point of ‘control by fire’ for the southern Aleppo countryside, and when it manages to liberate al-Ais Hill, its forces will be on the outskirts of the international road Aleppo- Damascus as a prelude to entering the town of Zarba located on this highway.
On the eastern axis of Idlib countryside, the Syrian Army forces deployed in the strategic city of Saraqib after its liberation, the most important city in that area after Maarat al-Numan, which the Syrian Army also liberated.
The SAA’s advance and liberation of large areas in the Idlib countryside has led to a rise in the number of besieged Turkish military posts to five in the rural Idlib and Aleppo.
The SAA’s entry into Saraqib came after the liberation of 17 villages, the most important of which were Al-Mardaikh, Dadikh, and Neirab, stretching to the town of Afis, north of Saraqib.
Australia shows contempt for an international rules-based order, agreeing to join the US and UK with a naval, air and ADF personel presence in the Persian Gulf without any national debate or UN resolution.
PM Scott Morrison announced today that Australia would join an international mission to protect trade through the Strait of Horumz.
The international force consists of the UK, US, Australia and Bahrain.
Spokesperson for the Independent and Peaceful Australia network, Ms Brownlie said: “This is being presented as protection of the flow of oil through the Persian Gulf and in Australia’s national interest, but it is clear the US is chafing at the bit for an opportunity to attack Iran having spent many years imposing harsh sanctions on the people and most recently pulling out of the JCPOA effectively destroying prospects for peace with Iran.”
“It is also worth noting the irresponsibility of our government in allowing our oil stocks to be so low making us more vulnerable to supply issues creating a dependence on the US to provide back-up reserves”
“The last illegal action taken by the US ,UK and Australia was to form the so-called coalition of the willing to mount an attack and invasion of Iraq opening a pandora’s box of instability in the whole region.”
“Australia has no interest in a conflict in the Persian Gulf, and no enmity towards Iran. Such a conflict without a UN Security Council resolution would be illegal, and would expose Australian leaders and the ADF to accusations of the war crime of aggression,” said Ms Brownlie.
Former secretary of the defence department, Paul Barratt, told The Guardian. Australian involvement in potential military action in the Gulf could be illegal, and argued it was “very foolish for us to get involved in this provocative behaviour”.
“This is an application of military force. There ought to be a debate in the parliament, and we ought not to engage in any activity that would foreseeably involve the use of military force without that debate,” he said.
“Australian leaders need to heed the lessons of the past. Its time we decoupled from US foreign policy and act independently in the interests of peace and stability,” said Ms Brownlie.
Independent and Peaceful Australia Network
https://ipan.org.au | fb. Facebook
These films would constitute slapstick if their intentions to mislead were not so serious. They are meant to provide the United States with an excuse to drop bombs on Syria. This would be the same old disproven excuse that the US has tried to use already several times. It is amazing how the deep state just cannot come up with good script writers for anything. We have republished the below from https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201809211068240639-syria-idlib-chemical-attack-fabrication/.
Syrian Arab News Agency has posted a footage of an alleged chemical attack fabrication in Syrian city of Idlib. [See their facebook link here: https://www.facebook.com/SyrianArabNewsAgencySana/videos/1798132316875954/.]
A video reportedly depicting a chemical attack fabrication in Syria's Idlib has been circulating Syrian media, the Syrian Arab News Agency reported. The agency said that the footage depicts "White Helmets" group staging an attack in order to accuse the government forces of chemical weapons use.
In the five-minute video posted by the agency, there are three versions of the same footage with slightly different "scenarios" and the arrangement of people. At the beginning of the video, the alleged "victims of a chemical attack" are lying on the ground, one man is being transferred on a stretcher to an ambulance, and a child is being hosed with water in a pickup van.
However, in the second and third versions of the video, the man no longer lies on a stretcher, but helps the others to hose the child with water.
The initially posted video was removed from YouTube for violation of terms of service shortly after it was published. It was also posted by other users, however.
As Syrian forces backed by Russia launch the final showdown in Syria against jihadist extremists in Idlib province, the potential for a U.S.-Russia confrontation has never been greater, as VIPS warns in this memo to the president. #000000;" tabindex="0" data-term="goog_1726228808">September 9, 2018
Reports have appeared of activity by the White Helmets group, or militants posing as White Helmets, consistent with an intention to stage a ‘false flag’ chemical incident in order to provoke Western intervention. These activities have reportedly included the transfer of eight canisters of chlorine to a village near Jisr Al Shughur, an area under the control of Hayat Tahrir Ash Sham, an affiliate of the terrorist group Al Nusra. Some reports refer to the involvement of British individuals and the Olive security company. Other reports indicate a build-up of US naval forces in the Gulf and of land forces in areas of Iraq adjoining the Syrian border.
"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.”
Russian and Iranian English television broadcasters need to issue invitations to Teresa May, Boris Johnson, Niki Haley, Macron, Donald Trump et al, to defend their aggressive stances against Russia, Syria, and Iran,” says candobetter.net’s James Sinnamon. Unbelievable accusations against sovereign states are issuing from the governments of the United States, Australia, the UK and Europe. We are talking about the lines run by US-NATO on the Scripal spy poisonings and the so-called chemical weapons attack in Ghouta, which they have refused in the UN to investigate on the ground. Despite the total implausibility of these stories, the western corporate press, which includes ABC Australia and SBS, promote them uncritically. Yet the purpose of these stories is to provide excuses for war. The only beneficiary of the promotion of war is the military-industrial-media complex. The only thing working against this complex is the alternative media, which happens also to include English programs run by Iran’s Press TV Iran and Russia RT. Why are these programs so popular, especially RT? It is because they appeal to intellectuals because they are so much more complex and nuanced than the frustratingly illogical confabulations that pass for mainstream news in the Anglosphere. Press TV Iran’s The Debate is an especially robust forum.
World leaders like jealous giant children
In a stunning abuse of power, one of the main theatres of initial promotion is the United Nations. The US ambassador, Niki Haley, continues to make outlandish claims in the bullying style of her predecessor, Samantha Power. It is like watching gangster molls with airs, who do not realise that they are being live-broadcast as they threaten plans to assassinate or otherwise remove presidents, invade countries, and bomb cities, all based on totally fabricated enemy ‘profiles’ of popular elected leaders as bad guys. In fact, if war-profits were not a consideration, you would be reminded of jealous children in a playground bullying their more popular colleagues.
The major threats to modern civilisation: war, overpopulation, overconsumption, and energy resources scarcity. For a few years ago after the fall of the Soviet Union, war seemed a remote pastime, carried out between small tribal states, but then it began to metastacize from former Yugoslavia, to Afghanistan, to Iraq, then to Libya. Next was Syria and, at the same time, Ukraine. It is like watching the events leading up to the First World War. If you didn’t look at the regional oil and gas interests and rival hegemonies for countries that would afford access to them, then the whole thing seemed inexplicable. Even so, many people whose lives and lifestyles are not yet threatened, just cannot believe that people who have power would do such harm, apparently just out of ego and a desire for even more money.
Alternative press should invite accusing western powers to defend their arguments
James Sinnamon (the man who built Candobetter.net) suggests that PressTV Iran and RT could be still more effective, if they issued invitations to the leaders making accusations, to defend these on PressTV Iran and RT.
“I think that Russia, Iran and other nations, who are defending countries like Syria from military aggression, as a matter of urgency, could use their newsmedia - Russia's RT and Sputnik and Iran's PressTV even more effectively.
Perhaps those who conduct debates and interviews on Press TV Iran - Marcia Hashemi and Waqar Rizvi - and Russia's Oksana Boyko, Afshin Rattansi,  Sophie Shevardnadze and others - could, prominently and repeatedly, issue standing invitations to the likes of Theresa May, Boris Johnson and Nikki Haley et al., or their delegated spokespersons, to put their views on their programs and have those views discussed and debated.
Surely, if Theresa May et al. are so confident that they are speaking the truth, they would jump at the opportunity to show, to the audiences of RT and PressTV, how the views presented by those stations are wrong?
Of course, I don't expect that Theresa May et al. will acccept. If they don't RT and PressTV should include their names in lists, displayed prominently on their sites, of all Western political leaders who have declined to appear on RT and PressTV.
Given that hundreds of thousands have already been killed by military aggression, just since the Gulf War of 1991, and that the stakes for humanity are so high if this pattern is not stopped, I see know of no reason for the managers of RT and PressTV to pull any punches from now on.”
Sinnamon adds that, Afshin Rattansi, of Going Underground, leads the way to some extent because he is always issuing invitations to his detractors to appear on "Going Underground". If those who declined to be interviewed by Mr Rattansi were prominently listed, his impact would be even greater.
No sooner has the idea of a US withdrawal from Syria been floated than Assad launched a chemical weapons attack on the suburbs of Damascus...or so we are being asked to believe. But this is not the first time we have been lied to about chemical weapons claims. What is the evidence about this situation, and what are the latest developments with regard to the international response? Corbett Report members are asked to contribute to this open source investigation by posting information and links about this breaking news event. [Editor Candobetter.net: Thank God for the alternative press. We here at candobetter.net are so tired of listening to the uncritical warmongering on the ABC, SBS, CBN, and in parliament. Are they all suicidal? Please write in if you hear anyone on the MSN or in politics in Australia question this warlust.]
How many of us can truly say we have witnessed such exhilirating history in the making? Footage of the Syrian Arab Army and their allies entering the city of Deir Ezzor has just been released. Yet another one of the brutal and punishing sieges maintained by ISIS and assorted US coalition armed and funded extremist forces has had its back broken by the SAA and the stubborn resistance of the Syrian people. We are witnessing the end of our existing global order, the victory of Truth over Force and asymmetric power and the birth of a new geopolitical paradigm.
Our endless gratitude should be extended to the brave people of Syria for the gift they have given to Humanity – the proof that resistance will prevail despite all the odds against them. The following video was posted by independent Aleppo MP, Fares Shehabi, on Facebook. Watch (Article first published on 5 September 2017 at 21st Century Wire.)
The following report is from AlMasdarNews:
“Within minutes of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) lifting the siege on Deir Ezzor city, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad contacted three top Syrian commanders, all of whom played a major role in the victory, via phone.
According to reports, the Syrian president spoke with Rafiq Shahada (who is Deir Ezzor’s Chief of Security), Hasan Muhammad (commander of the 17th Reserve Division, whose men were the first to reach Syrian forces in Deir Ezzor) and Isaam Zahreddine (the operational commander of all forces in Deir Ezzor).
In the phone conversation, President al-Assad congratulated the three commanders for the historic victory which they have now achieved.
Whilst commanders Rafiq Shahada and Isaam Zahreddine played-out the role of protecting Deir Ezzor and its residents from relentless attacks by besieging ISIS forces over the last three years, Hasan Muhammad, the commander of the 17th Reserve Division, led the vanguard Syrian Army units which officially lifted the siege on the city.”
On August 12th, a group of gunmen entered a White Helmets compound in Sarmin, Syria and opened fire on sleeping members of the emergency rescue group. The White Helmets is a well-known group operating in conflict areas of Syria rescuing victims from the rubble after bombings. They were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and a short documentary about them won an Oscar. Most media outlets portray the White Helmets as a humanitarian organization made up of ordinary Syrians. However, an investigation published by Max Blumenthal of the Grayzone Project at AlterNet found that the White Helmets and their associated public relations firm, The Syria Campaign, are far from politically impartial. In fact, they're seeking regime change in Syria. In spite of all of this criticism, there was a targeted killing of seven members of this group. See inside 21 minute interview with Max Blumenthal, senior editor of the Grayzone Project at AlterNet and the award-winning author of Goliath and Republican Gomorrah. His most recent book is The 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza. Originally published on 30 August 2017 at http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=19889.
Entire transcript is at The Real News, which is a great site. See http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=19889. You will find a number of other very interesting reports on Syria. We have not live-linked to it because it does not have an https address and that causes problems with some browsers, but the site is safe according to Norton Safe Search and has an SSL for commercial transactions.
Update 12 September 2018: All President Bashar al Assad's speeches on the Syrian Government channel have suddenly been removed from Youtube, in a manner that spreads darkness over the world.Speech by Bashar al-Assad on 21 August 2017 in English subtitled videos. The texts have also been transcribed by Sayed Hasan into English and French at http://sayed7asan.blogspot.fr. Assad notes that the west allows terrorists to advance in Syria, and when the Syrian Arab Army tries to fight the terrorists, the west tries to stop it, pretending that this is for humanitarian reasons. But the west's real objective is to allow the terrorists to regroup.
Speech by the President of the Syrian Arab Republic Bashar al-Assad on August 20th, 2017 to the Syrian Diplomatic Corps
Translation originally published at: http://sayed7asan.blogspot.fr
[...] The result of this resistance (of Syria) and the price we paid (for it) is (also) the shifts that have occurred recently in Western statements, which did not occur because their human conscience awoke and regained its health, or because they have (finally) felt that Syria is oppressed or anything like that. (The West) made this change because of the resistance of the people, of the state and of the armed forces (of Syria). And of course because of the support of our allies.
(The West) did not make this change because it has ethics or morality, because we have never seen any such thing, even before the war. But it is the reality on the ground in Syria, and the reality on the ground in their own countries (which imposed this turnaround on them). And today, a week or a month do not go by without an event (terrorist attack) occurring which is the direct result of their stupidity in their decision making and support for terrorism in the region. It is these realities that have forced them to change their positions, even partially, in a shy manner and without conviction,but these shifts were imposed on them.
This change of position does not mean a change of policy. The West, like the snake, changes its skin depending on the situation. At first they talked about supporting the popular movement, the popular movement that has never exceeded, in the best case, 200,000 people paid (by the West and the Gulf) throughout Syria, a country of 24 million inhabitants.
And after having tried their best, with weapons beings present on the stage but in a hidden way, to perpetrate massacres and foment sedition, they have failed, and passed to the open support to armed groups but they gave them the name of "opposition" as a cover, that is to say they presented them as political (factions), giving them a political color, and they were presented as "moderate", that is to say, as not extremists. Or the political denomination "opposition" was to (suggest) that they are not terrorists.
When this project failed and they were exposed for what they are (terrorists) in the eyes of the world public opinion, and in the eyes of the regional and local public opinion in their own countries, they switched to another version, the humanitarian pretext. We are currently at this stage. To summarize, it consists in keeping absolute silence as the terrorists advance or whatever, and perpetrate massacres and killings against civilians, but when it's the (Syrian) Army that is advancing at the expense of terrorists, then suddenly we begin to hear cries, lamentation and intercession to stop us, with the pretext of humanitarian slogans to stop the effusion of blood, to escort humanitarian aid, and other excuses that we Syrians know well. Their real goal is to provide an opportunity for armed groups to reform their ranks, to motivate, to bring equipment and to send reinforcements to help them, so they can continue their terrorist acts.
In truth, all these various tactics they employed during these stages could never deceive us in any case. From day one, we recognized terrorism, and on the first day, we hit terrorism, during the first stage, the second and third, and will continue to do so, as long as there is any terrorist anywhere in Syria. As for the media and the psychological war they conducted during the last several years, it could never, not a single moment, influence us to be distracted from this goal, namely combating terrorism,or to push us towards fear or hesitation. [...]
Bashar al-Assad thanks Iran, Russia and Hezbollah
[...] Ladies and gentlemen,
Despite more than 6 years of this ferocious war against Syria and despite the fact that the Syrian army, with at its side the popular forces and our allies, leads the fiercest battles against the most formidable terrorist groups, supported by the most powerful and richest countries in the world, despite this, these forces, our forces made achievements and victories, week by week and day by day, crushing terrorists and purifying areas contaminated by (their presence), and they go on on this path.
What has been achieved by the heroes of the Syrian Arab Army, the armed forces and popular and allied forces, indeed heroic acts and sacrifices during the past war years, shows an example in the History of wars throughout History. And what they have accomplished in terms of sacrifices is a beacon for future generations, in the sense of commitment to national dignity, patriotism and sacrifices for the homeland and for the people. And the truth... [Applause]
And the truth is that it is these achievements that were the real lever to the march of national reconciliation that began 3 years ago, and it is they who have pushed many undecided (among armed groups) to come back in the lap of the nation. That is to say, to speak clearly and far from any embellishment, these military achievements of our armed forces were the very war and the very policy. Alongside the Army exploits, were it not for the endurance of the Syrian people, every citizen in his place, the student, the teacher, the worker, the civil servant, the diplomat,the employee, and so on in all layers and components of Syrian society, it would not have been possible that Syria resists to this day.
As for our friends and allies, they were a very important part of these achievements and successes.
Hezbollah, which needs no introduction and who willingly evades recognition and thanks, his fighters were no less attached to (the defense of) Syrian land than their brothers in arms in heroism of the Syrian armed forces. And when we talk about them, we speak with great pride, exactly the same as when we speak of any Syrian who defended his homeland. The same goes for their martyrs, their wounded and their heroic families.
As for Iran, it has not wavered in its presence with us since day one. It supplied weapons and quantities (of money, equipment and men) without any limit. It sent military advisers and officers to help us plan (the defense and offensive). It supported us economically, through the extremely difficult conditions we experienced. It led the political battles with us in all international issues and proved in each instance that it is sovereign and sole master of its decisions,true to its principles and its commitments, in which one can have full confidence.
Likewise for Russia. She used her veto several times in succession in her policy, in defense of the unity and sovereignty of Syria,and in defense of the UN Charter and international law. China did the same. And Russia has not limited herself to support the Syrian Army and provide everything it needed for its anti-terrorist operations. She later sent its air force and was directly involved in the fight against terrorism, offering martyrs on Syrian soil.
Thus, if the successes on the field have been made thanks to the determination of the heroes of the armed forces, Army and popular forces, the direct support of our allies, political, economic and military has greatly strengthened our capabilities to gain ground in the field, and narrowed losses and burdens of war. And therefore, they are now our true allies in these achievements, in the way of striking and completely annihilating terrorism and restoring security and stability in Syria.
And if the Syrian Arab people and with it the armed forces today are writing a new history for Syria and the region in general, there will also be volumes that will be written about our friends. About Iran and Imam Khamenei. About Russia and President Putin. About Hezbollah and Sayed Hassan Nasrallah. [Applause] These volumes will be written about their principles, their ethics, their virtues, for future generations to read. [...]
Press Statement Lays Groundwork for US Attack. Raising speculation that the US is about to attack Syria again, the White House has issued a statement late this evening accusing the Assad government in Syria of conducting “potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack,” claiming that such an attack would involve the “mass murder of civilians, including innocent children.”
Press Statement Lays Groundwork for US Attack. Raising speculation that the US is about to attack Syria again, the White House has issued a statement late this evening accusing the Assad government in Syria of conducting “potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack,” claiming that such an attack would involve the “mass murder of civilians, including innocent children.”
Original article by Jason Ditz published at news.antiwar.com/2017/06/26/white-house-appears-to-be-planning-attack-on-assad/
Posted on June 26, 2017 (Note that some links here will only work if you drop the 's' from the https preceding the URL, but we add the 's' here due to arbitrary browser protocol.)
The late night report was extremely light on details, but threatened to make Syria’s government and military “pay a heavy price,” suggesting that the statement was only issued to lay the groundwork for a new round of US attacks on Syrian government targets.
The US last attacked Syria in earnest in early April, firing 49 cruise missiles at a Syrian air base. The attack was carried out despite reports ultimately showing that the US intelligence community found no evidence a chemical weapon attack took place.
The White House statement ignored that revelation, and presented the early April incident as a “chemical weapons attack” just like the one they believe to be imminent. Since the administration is very keen to present what they did in April as justified, it would not be surprising if they did so again.
Such a move would be particularly risky now, coming amid Russian warnings that the US needs to stop attacking Syrian government targets. It also comes just hours after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke with Russia’s Foreign Minister about a ceasefire, which seems a particularly inopportune time to attack.
John Pilger and Vanessa Beeley talk about the amazing growth in mass-media supported war propaganda in our times, including the grotesque fantasies manufactured about Russian intervention in US elections and the creation of a false cold war. Vanessa Beeley describes how, when she was in Aleppo, she was witness to the absolute fabrication of what was happening there. And now, the almost complete silence on what seems like American ethnic cleansing of Arabs in Raqqua - where the US is using depleted uranium, phosporos weapons and not providing any humanitarian corridors.
The regional and international standoff headed by Saudi Arabia against Qatar is not going to be resolved anytime soon. What does the simmering crisis mean? And why has Donald Trump taken the Saudi side? CrossTalking with Sharmine Narwani, Mohammed Cherkaoui, and Foad Izadi.
Here is Dr Tim Anderson's letter in support of Mr Jay Tharappel, an anti-war academic gagged from speaking out against the visit of U.S. Republican Senator John McCain, a supporter of the terrorist invasion of Syria, to Sydney University.
Anti-war academic Jay Tharappel - a tutor and doctoral student - has been gagged by an effective ‘secret social media police’ group set up at the University of Sydney, to monitor public comments by staff involved in controversy.
This extraordinary development began with an anonymous leak from University management to the Daily Telegraph that Jay was “under investigation” for a “racially charged social media attack”. The tabloid ran a front page story (11 April) vilifying the young academic. He found about his employer’s investigation through the Daily Telegraph’s smear story. That front page story would not have occurred had university management not helped create it.
A week later, when Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) Dean Annamarie Jagose did press misconduct charges, she swore the casual tutor to secrecy.
The Daily Telegraph story formed part of a torrent of abuse, mostly from News Limited media, against organisers of our successful conference ‘After the War on Syria’, which took place on 18-19 April at Sydney University. The conference was seen as pro-Syria and anti-war, while virtually all the corporate and state media backed Trump’s 6 April missile strike on Syria. In fact media attacks helped swell attendance at the successful conference, video of which is online here:
https://counter-hegemonic-studies.net/…/syria-conference-2…/ (Link appears to be broken (31/5/2017) - Ed)
The Murdoch media through repeated abuse of us (“Sarin Gasbag”, “Pro-Assad Boffin”, “Uni loonies”, “genocide slur”) tried to pressure the university to act against the conference and its organisers. Jay’s comments were in response to two of these crusading journalists.
Dean Jagose’s 20 April letter to Jay, after the conference, cited several of his posts and the University’s code of conduct. However it did not detail any particular imputations, as is normally required in civil law. Rather it called for his ‘defence’, while demanding that nothing of the inquiry be made public.
Jay, myself and an NTEU union representative urged that Dean Jagose state specific imputations (the University’s Enterprise Agreement states that ‘the staff member will be provided with allegations in sufficient detail to ensure that they have a reasonable opportunity to respond’) but she refused. She also refused to release any detail of complaints that had been made against Jay to the university. Jay was left to present a ‘defence’ without any detailed knowledge of what had been alleged against him.
There was no hearing. In her 17 May ‘outcomes’ letter Dean Jagose found ‘misconduct’ proven, but gave only a little more detail.
Jay’s criticism of journalist Kylar Loussikian (his surname indicates Armenian heritage) was that he was a ‘traitor’ to Armenians for backing the missile attack on Syria. Historically, Syria provided refuge to Armenians, after the genocide under the Ottoman Empire. Dean Jagose, however, wrongly claimed Jay’s criticism was “on the basis of” his ethnicity. In his criticism of Fairfax journalist Michael Koziol, Jay had used the word “pathetic”, because Koziol had quoted him out of context. Dean Jagose also regarded this as a form of misconduct.
The FASS Dean concluded there was ‘misconduct’, but not ‘serious misconduct’, and issued a ‘warning’. However the sting was in the tail. Any similar indication of lack of “respect, impartiality, courtesy and sensitivity” to the public would lead to “further Disciplinary Action, up to and potentially including the termination of your employment”. A regime of “appropriate monitoring” would be set up to police this threat.
Further, Dean Jagose added, “this matter is confidential” and he was “directed to refrain from disclosing [it] to anyone … the University takes the need of confidentiality very seriously, and reserves the right to take disciplinary action if you fail to adhere to this direction.” The star chamber was to remain hidden.
However I was sent a copy of this letter and I did not agree to any such confidentiality. The abuse of process under this secret regime deserves to see the light of day.
University of Sydney management clearly colluded with the Daily Telegraph to smear a young academic in their care – even though he is only employed three hours a week – and then set about trying to gag him. As the initial ‘findings’ were based on such flimsy grounds, it appears likely the secret monitoring group is ready to jump on almost any conflictual interaction by staff with powerful media groups.
Meanwhile Murdoch journalists are no doubt waiting with baited breath for another chance to smear. What a shameful exercise and breach of trust by university management.
Here are links to John McCain in photos with individuals linked to terrorists groups:
John McCain Illegally Travels To Syria, Meets With Leaders And Fighting Groups; No Criticism From MSM (24/2/2017) by Brandon Turbeville | Activist Post
See also: Australia Rolls out the Red Carpet for Arizona Reptile John McCain (1/6/17) | Russia Insider, The Dirty War on Syria: Dr Anderson Reveals the "Unspoken Truth"(6/6/2016) by Dr Tim Anderson | Global Research, The malignant consensus on Syria(19/9/2012) by Dr Tim Anderson | The Conversation, The war on Syria has never been a civil war(22/6/2018) by Dr Tim Anderson | Khameini.ir, 'Look a bit more closely': White Helmets Oscar win under fire(28/2/2017) by by Hashela Kumarawansa | SBS, Manchester allleged suicide bomber linked to Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), Known to British Security & Intelligence. LIFG was supported by NATO against Gadaffi (24/5/2017) by Tony Cartalucci | Globall Research.
A report provided by the US Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs contains lists of weapons provided by the United States to Iraq, many of which - including aircraft - would later be seized by ISIS and probably later deployed in Iraq and Syria. These included an horrendous US-manufactured arsenal of chemical and biological weapons: including anthrax, botulinium, and E.Coli as well as human and bacterial DNA. Grotesquely, the United States, which had provided these weapons, has later accused the Syrian Government of using chemical weapons, and Trump has used this as an excuse to invade Syria.
Book: Indefensible: Seven myths that sustain the global arms trade
The quotes below are taken from
Paul Holden, Ed.'s Indefensible: Seven Myths that Sustain the Global Arms Trade was first published in 2016 by Zed Books,UK, a well-written and well-resourced book that brings us up to date with the trade and also explores its many motives. I don't know if it was overtly stated anywhere in the book, but I formed the impression that excessive arms are collected, bought, and sold by national leaders as a power display and that their buying and selling is a kind of social interplay between globally hypertrophied alpha apes, currying favour or swaggering at each other from the top of their weapons piles and taunting smaller apes. In this anthropological light perhaps we can understand North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un's resort to nuclear weapons as North America teases him with ostentatious displays of military strength while the world press taunts him as mad. Similarly Gaddafi's purchase of over $30b worth of weapons from world powers was perhaps an unsuccessful attempt to palliate the ferocity of the mad apes in the west.
I was particularly interested to read the history of who sold weapons to the Middle East and was not surprised to find out that it is the same powers that are intervening there to 'stop wars'.
US helped Iraq build factories for chemical weapons
"In the early 1990s, the US Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs released a report confirming that The United States provided the Government of Iraq with ‘dual use’ licensed materials which assisted in the development of Iraqi chemical, biological and missile-system programs, including: chemical warfare agent precursors, chemical warfare agent production facility plans and technical drawings (provided as pesticide production facility plans); chemical warhead filling equipment; biological warfare related materials; missile fabrication equipment; and, missile-system guidance equipment." 
Chemical and biological weapons made by US sold to the Middle East
"The list of biological material the US provided [to Iraq and which were later stolen by ISIS] was shocking, including anthrax, botulinium, E.Coli as well as human and bacterial DNA. There is credible evidence that when the US invaded Iraq in 1991, US troops were exposed to the very agents that the US had supplied, over and above fighting against the weapons whose acquisition the US had helped to fund and arrange. In the aftermath of the fall of Saddam Hussein, the world was witness to another type of blowback: namely, when an ally is provided arms but fails to stop those arms being stolen by enemies."
"[...]a 2014 UN Security Council Report noted that in June 2014 alone ISIS seized sufficient Iraqi government stocks from the provinces of Anbar and Salah al-Din to arm and equip more than three Iraqi conventional army divisions. Reviewing the evidence, the same report provided a chilling summary of the range of weapons ISIS has at its disposal:
From social media and other reporting, it is clear that ISIL assets include light weapons, assault rifles, machine guns, heavy weapons, including possible man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) (SA-7), field and anti-aircraft guns, missiles, rockets, rocket launchers, artillery, aircraft, tanks (including T-55s and T-72s) and vehicles, including high-mobility mobility multipurpose military vehicles." 
ISIS took many weapons, almost undoubtedly including chemical weapons, which it probably later deployed in Iraq and Syria, but the United States, which had provided these weapons, later accused the Syrian Government of using chemical weapons, and Trump used this as an excuse to attack Syria militarily.
 Source: Holden, Paul. Indefensible (Kindle Locations 978-982). Zed Books. Kindle Edition.
 US Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, Second Staff Report on US Chemical and Biological Warfare-Related Dual-Use Exports to Iraq and the Possible Impact on the Health Consequences of the War, 1995. 9Ibid, Chapter 1. 10Ibid, Chapters 2 and 3.
 Source: Holden, Paul. Indefensible (Kindle Locations 987-992). Zed Books. Kindle Edition.
 The Islamic State and the Levant and the Al-Nusrah Front for the People of Levant: Report and Recommendations Submitted Pursuant to Resolution 2170 (2014), S/2014/815, paragraph 39.
 Source: Holden, Paul. Indefensible (Kindle Location 1009-1015). Zed Books. Kindle Edition.
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
Australian politicians and mainstream journalists seem almost as one in their approval of worsening relations between the two major nuclear powers: Russia and China. Yet a sane person would ask what is so good about this? In the embedded video, Tucker Carlson, US journalist, goes to the US Democrats to find out why they are so keen for the US to pick a fight with Russia. The responses from Alfred E. Mottur, lawyer and Democrat Strategist, who has worked for Mayor Rubio and Hillary Clinton are informatively superficial and illogical. It does seem that the tail wagging the US political dog has lost contact with its brain.
It is weird that the mainstream press and the US-NATO war machine continue to put out the same stories as if they were spam-bots. You would think that real human beings could come up with something more convincing. It is known, however, that people tend to believe a message they often hear repeated, to the detriment of their own eyes and reason, so perhaps this is the intentional modus-operandi of the US-NATO-military industrial media complex. The only way to combat the oft-repeated lie is to repeatedly question it, which we are doing here. Once again the US-NATO deep state war-machine has tried to use the UN like Lucy's football for Charlie Brown, to give authority to accusations against the Syrian government which it actually has no reliable basis for. The consequences could be truly awful - but what do spambots care about World War 3?
Do spambots invent US policy in Syria? Has the White House been automated for destruction?
Without credible evidence, without witnesses, without indications, the American president, Donald Trump, and the mainstream news media again have the US trying to convict President al-Assad of 'war-crimes against his own people'. They will try to use this as a pretext for another bloody 'regime change' in the mould of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Ukraine, either to keep an enlarge their military footprint in the Middle East or to obtain concessions from peace-keeping Russia.
It is alarming that President Trump is now marching along obediently to the same evil old tune as Hillary Clinton did, since a primary difference between their platforms was that he would not pursue baseless interventions in the Middle East.
His new stance is suspicious of a sudden loss of power to the neocons who surround him, given that his new US State Secretary said, only last week, that the US would leave the Syrian people to decide who would lead them, and not seek regime change. The chemical weapons story is an old one and not a very good one. Four years ago the news was almost identical, when it was resoundingly repudiated, for example by the Swiss UN investigator, Carla del Ponte. See http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-22424188. Since then we have heard it many times, picked up then dropped, picked up then dropped again. We republish here a superb 5 April debate and argument from PressTV on this vital subject. In an exercise of logic unfamiliar in the western media, the moderator here asks for a list of for and against points regarding benefits to the Syrian Government or the 'Rebels' in engaging in the purported chemical attacks.
The Debate - Chemical attack in Syria's Idlib
In this episode of The Debate, Press TV has conducted an interview with Marwa Osman, a journalist and political commentator from Beirut, and Michael Lane, the founder of the American Institute for Foreign Policy in Washington, to discuss a recent suspected chemical attack in the Syrian province of Idlib.
"We deny completely the use of any chemical or toxic material in Khan Sheikhoun town today and the army has not used nor will use in any place or time, neither in past or in future," the Syrian army has said in a statement. The Syrian Air Force has destroyed a warehouse in Idlib province where chemical weapons were being produced and stockpiled before being shipped to Iraq, Russia’s Defense Ministry spokesman said. The strike, which was launched midday Tuesday, targeted a major rebel ammunition depot east of the town of Khan Sheikhoun, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov said in a statement. The warehouse was used to both produce and store shells containing toxic gas, Konashenkov said. The shells were delivered to Iraq and repeatedly used there, he added, pointing out that both Iraq and international organizations have confirmed the use of such weapons by militants. [First published by RT at https://www.rt.com/news/383522-syria-idlib-warehouse-strike-chemical/]
The Syrian Air Force has destroyed a warehouse in Idlib province where chemical weapons were being produced and stockpiled before being shipped to Iraq, Russia’s Defense Ministry spokesman said.
The strike, which was launched midday Tuesday, targeted a major rebel ammunition depot east of the town of Khan Sheikhoun, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov said in a statement.
The warehouse was used to both produce and store shells containing toxic gas, Konashenkov said. The shells were delivered to Iraq and repeatedly used there, he added, pointing out that both Iraq and international organizations have confirmed the use of such weapons by militants.
The same chemical munitions were used by militants in Aleppo, where Russian military experts took samples in late 2016, Konashenkov said.
The Defense Ministry has confirmed this information as “fully objective and verified,” Konashenkov added.
According to the statement, Khan Sheikhoun civilians, who recently suffered a chemical attack, displayed identical symptoms to those of Aleppo chemical attack victims.
Hasan Haj Ali, commander of the Free Idlib Army rebel group, rejected Russia’s version of the incident, saying the rebels had no military positions in the area.
“Everyone saw the plane while it was bombing with gas,” he told Reuters.
“Likewise, all the civilians in the area know that there are no military positions there, or places for the manufacture [of weapons]. The various factions of the opposition are not capable of producing these substances,” he added.
At least 58 people, including 11 children, reportedly died and scores were injured after a hospital in Khan Sheikhoun was targeted in a suspected gas attack on Tuesday morning, Reuters reported, citing medics and rebel activists. Soon after a missile allegedly hit the facility, people started showing symptoms of chemical poisoning, such as choking and fainting.
The victims were reportedly also seen with foam coming out of their mouths. While the major Syrian opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition, and other pro-rebel groups put the blame on the attack onto President Bashar Assad’s government, the Syrian military dismissed all allegations as propaganda by the rebels.
"We deny completely the use of any chemical or toxic material in Khan Sheikhoun town today and the army has not used nor will use in any place or time, neither in past or in future," the Syrian army said in a statement.
The Russian military stated it did not carry out any airstrike in the area either.
However, EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini, commenting on the incident, was quick to point to the Syrian government as a culprit, saying that it bears responsibility for the “awful” attack.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson echoed Mogherini, accusing the Syrian government of perpetrating the attack calling it “brutal, unabashed barbarism.” He argued, that besides the Syrian authorities, Iran and Russia should also bear “moral responsibility” for it.
Interviews with Syrians in Aleppo regarding how they perceive the defeat of the 'rebels', whom they call terrorists. They feel they have been liberated and they consider that France and its allies (US-NATO) were keeping them imprisoned by supporting the terrorists. Arabic, French and English, with French and English subtitles. A number of christian church officials are interviewed.
Good News: Washington Frozen Out of Syria Peace Plan
"As the US mainstream media obsessed last week about Russia's supposed “hacking” of the US elections and President Obama’s final round of Russia sanctions in response, something very important was taking place under the media radar. As a result of a meeting between foreign ministers of Russia, Iran, and Turkey last month, a ceasefire in Syria has been worked out and is being implemented. So far it appears to be holding, and after nearly six years of horrible warfare the people of Syria are finally facing the possibility of rebuilding their lives." [...]
"The fact is, it is often US involvement in “solving” these crises that actually perpetuates them. Consider the 60-plus year state of war between North and South Korea. Has US intervention done anything to solve the problem? How about our decades of meddling in the Israel-Palestine dispute? Are we any closer to peace between the Israelis and Palestinians despite the billions we have spent bribing and interfering?" Ron Paul. Read more here: Good News: Washington Frozen Out of Syria Peace Plan
This morning, hardly taking breath over the US election, again there is much talk in the MSM about the situation in Aleppo, while the situation in Mosul has been quite ignored, although the fight by various forces including US-NATO against ISIS there and refugee diaspora all continue.
There were multiple takes from Mr. Jan Egeland, Special Advisor to the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria's statement about the urgency of getting aid into East Aleppo, all incorporating various aspects of the whole false narrative, about who is there, and about the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and Russian efforts to liberate the whole city.
Aspects of the false narrative were also presented by the Australian ABC’s M/E correspondent Matt Brown, who seems to be a single-minded supporter of the opposition forces and a purveyor of misinformation on their behalf. In this report his source was ‘Abu Laith’ – ‘Aleppo resident and member of the White Helmets’. Brown discussed the presence of the Russian aircraft carrier with Abu Laith, who threw off the threat and vowed to continue to support the people. See http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2016/s4572965.htm
Egeland, who is also completely partial, claimed in his report that ‘some families had not received food rations for three weeks, and prices had risen sharply', and that ‘neither side wants to see a quarter of a million people starve’. Brown said the UN had done a survey of people in East Aleppo and found that 40% of them wanted to leave, but in portraying the recent efforts of the Syrian and Russian governments to get civilians out of the terrorist-occupied East, said that these had been unsuccessful because the ‘rebels oppose people leaving the city’. However he fails to say that the 'rebels' shoot people who try to leave.
The fact is that the UN should have cooperated with the Russian and Syrian government when there was the ceasefire to get people out. They should have put pressure on the rebel leaders, and the US-NATO by telling the media the real situation, which is that East Aleppo is being held under seige, not by the Syrian Gov, but by the 'rebels' who are using the East Aleppan citizens as human shields.
In another short news bulletin this morning, with different extracts from Egeland, it was suggested that the people could starve or bleed to death, [if we don’t act].
Emphasising the pervasive misinformation and disinformation coming from our corrupted media, the ABC also interviewed Australia’s defence minister, Maurice Payne, this morning. This might seem unsurprising if one didn’t know that neither the ABC nor the Australian government has shown the slightest interest in discussing Australia’s involvement, either in Iraq or Syria, for the last few months since the ‘Aleppo crisis’ has been dominating the narrative.
Even when Australian forces were allegedly involved in the US coalition attack on the SAA in Deir al Zour that ended the ‘ceasefire’, there was minimal discussion following the shockingly cursory apology.
That Australia was ‘involved’ in that strike, that supported IS terrorists directly, (though it has been suggested the fighter jets were only US ones, and that we were asked to share the responsibility), indicates that Australia’s strategic role as a primary partner in the US’ war on Syria is highly significant, as it is also highly significant in our region in the defence, not of Australian interests, but of US imperial interests against China.
This is what Australia’s defence minister, Marise Payne had to say this morning about our role in the ‘fight against ISIS’:
MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: "In the Middle East in particular, Trump's been positive about Russia's role in Syria. We certainly haven't been positive in that way. He's talked also about a more robust military response to ISIS. Do you expect a change?"
MARISE PAYNE: "Well, we will always deal with those discussions as they're presented to us. Overwhelmingly, our response in Iraq and in Syria is dictated by conditions on the ground: by the operational environment in which we find ourselves.
As you know, we've trained almost 14,000 soldiers who are engaging in the fight against Daesh in the Iraqi defence force. We have a special operations task group which is working side-by-side, not just with the Iraqis but members of the international coalition, which is led by the United States. We have changed, even in the last year, our contribution to both of those activities. We have worked as the operational environment has changed as well..."
Most significant here is that the ‘Iraqis’ – meaning Baghdad – are not on the same side as the US coalition if it includes Turkey. That is something that needs clarifying right now. Whether the ABC has any idea about the importance of this issue remains unknown. They don’t ask, and they aren’t told.
What's happening in Syria has been going on for over five years and it's not a civil war.
U.S. imperialism has been exporting disaster around the world for over a century now, but not since the "Cuban" missile crisis in 1962, has the U.S. put the world on the brink of such a disaster as we are witnessing today.
What's happening in Syria has been going on for over five years and it's not a civil war. The conflict began as a U.S.-funded effort to depose President Bashar Assad and install a puppet government in Damascus friendly to U.S. interests. I am sure there are some legitimate forces in Syria who oppose the government of Assad, but the U.S. does not care about democracy -- after-all, Assad was elected by his people.
Also in Syria, approximately one dozen militias are not only trying to overthrow the Assad government but they are also fighting among themselves. The ranking Democrat on the U.S. Congressional House Intelligence Committee, uber-Zionist Adam Schiff of California, said of the phenomena of CIA-funded militias fighting in places like Aleppo, "It's part of the three-dimensional chess game." This chess game, played by empires for millennia, profit the wealthy and as always, the people pay the heavy price.
Today we learned that China is contemplating joining Russia and Syria in their alliance to protect the sovereignty of Syria and for stabilization in the Middle East.
The U.S. has long invaded and provoked weaker countries like Afghanistan and Iraq which have little hope of retaliating but nonetheless use what resources they have to fight off U.S. imperialism. However, provoking Russia in places like Syria and Ukraine seems to be the height of arrogance and stupidity on the part of the U.S.
For many years, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been the rational actor in this insane U.S. provocation, but Russia is getting ready to fight back -- reportedly holding civil defense drills, warning Russians abroad, and even testing nuclear missiles.
Even though Russia has been invited into Syria by the government -- as rational people who are filled with apprehension over the reality of this danger -- we should be calling on all world leaders to pause in their rush to war. Some of us see no hope for the mis-leaders here in the U.S. to provide some sanity in its foreign policy. In the last U.S. presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the war criminal Clinton reaffirmed her hardcore stance to go to war with Russia, through Syria, if necessary. Clinton also declared her support for a "no fly zone" over Syria, which the chair of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford said would require 70,000 U.S. troops to maintain and would definitely mean war with Russia.
But the only thing that can really stop imperialist carnage is an international working-class force, refusing to be used as cannon-fodder for capitalism, and instead fighting for socialism.
Our very survival as a species depends on international solidarity.
Article by Cindy Sheehan.
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.
[Candobetter.net Ed: This article foreshadows the imminent release of the new war-faction novel, Beyond all recognition by Kenneth Eade, some of whose other strong political and legal novels we have already featured.]
One of our most distinguished and highest ranking military men, Major General Smedley Butler said, “War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.”
Since the protests of the Vietnam War, it has been “business as usual” under every government since the Reagan administration. Besides the war in Iraq, which was based on one of the most massive deceptions in recent history for which nobody has been held accountable, and which can be said to be a self-fulfilling prophecy (we now have ISIS in Iraq and Al Qaeda in Iraq thriving where it did not exist before) we are seeing this business rear its ugly head in the conflicts in Syria and the buildup of NATO in Eastern Europe and military advice to the Ukraine, to fight the non-existent threat and fantasy of Russian aggression.
“Perception Management” was pioneered in the 1980’s under the Reagan administration in order to avoid the public opposition to future wars that was seen during the Vietnam War. The United States Department of Defense defines perception management as: “Actions to convey and/or deny selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, and objective reasoning as well as to intelligence systems and leaders at all to influence official estimates, ultimately resulting in foreign behaviors and official actions favorable to the originator's objectives. In various ways, perception management combines truth projection, operations, security, cover and deception, and psychological operations.”
At the onset of the Iraq war in 2003, journalists were embedded with US troops as combat cameramen. The reason for this was not to show what was happening in the war, but to present the American view of it. Perception management was used to promote the belief that weapons of mass destruction were being manufactured in Iraq to promote its military invention, even though the real purpose behind the war was regime change. 
Alvin and Heidi Toffler cite the following as tools for perception management in their book, War and Anti-War:1) accusations of atrocities, 2) hyperbolic inflations, 3) demonization and dehumanization, 4) polarization, 5) claim of divine sanction, and 5) Meta-propaganda.
In 2001, the Rendon Group, headed by John Rendon, was secretly granted a $16 million contract to target Iraq with propaganda.  Rendon, who had been hired by the CIA to help create conditions to removal Sadaam Hussein from power, is a leader in “perception management”. Two months later, in December 2001, a clandestine operation performed by the CIA and the Pentagon produced false polygraph testimony of an alleged Iraqi civil engineer, who testified that he had helped Sadaam Hussein and his men hide tons of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons.  Of course, we now know that there were no weapons of mass destruction hidden in Iraq.
A study by Professor Phil Taylor reveals the differences between the US and global media over the coverage of the war to be: 1) Pro-war coverage in the US made US media “cheerleaders” in the eyes of a watchful, more scrutinous global media; 2) Issues about the war were debated more in countries not directly affected by the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks; 3) The non-US media could not see the link between the “war on terror” and the “axis of evil”, and 4) The US media became part of the information operations campaign, which weakened their credibility in the eyes of global media.
President Bush himself admitted in a televised interview with Katie Couric on the CBS Evening News that, “One of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror.” Vice President Dick Cheney stated on Meet the Press, “If we’re successful in Iraq…we will have struck a major blow right at the heart of the base, if you will, the geographic base of the terrorists who have had us under assault for many years, but most especially on 9/11.”
Prior to 2002, the CIA was the Bush Administration’s main provider of intelligence on Iraq. In order to establish the connection between Iraq and terrorists, in 2002, the Pentagon established the “Office of Special Plans” which was, in reality, in charge of war planning against Iraq, and designated by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to be the provider of intelligence on Iraq to the Bush Administration. Its head, the Undersecretary of Defense, Douglas J. Feith, appointed a small team to review the existing intelligence on terrorist networks, in order to reveal their sponsorship states, among other things. In 2002, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz wrote a memo to Feith entitled, “Iraq Connections to Al-Qaida”, which stated that they were “not making much progress pulling together intelligence on links between Iraq and Al-Qaida.” Peter W. Rodman, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security, established a “Policy counter Terror Evaluation Group” (PCTEG) which produced an analysis of the links between Al-Qaida and Iraq, with suggestions on “how to exploit the connections.” 
“In February 2003, when former Secretary of State Colin Powell addressed the U.N., he described “a sinister nexus between Iraq and the Al-Qaeda network,” stating that “Iraq today harbors a deadly network headed by Zarqawi’s forces, an associate and collaborator of Osama bin Laden,” and that Zarqawi had set up his operations, including bioweapons training, with the approval of the Sadaam Hussein regime. This has since been discredited as false. However, in October 2004, due to the fact that the Iraqi insurgency was catching on as a cause in jihadist circles, Zarqawi pledged his allegiance to Al-Qaeda. This was after his group had exploded a massive bomb outside a Shiite mosque in August 2003, killing one of Iraq’s top Shiite clerics and sparking warfare between the Shiite and Sunni communities. The tipping point toward a full-blown civil war was the February 2006 attack on the Golden Mosque in Samarra, which is credited to Haythem Sabah al-Badri, a former member of Sadaam Hussein’s Republican Guard, who joined Al-Qaeda after the U.S. invasion. This gave birth to the AQI, Al-Qaeda in Iraq 
General Wesley Clark, the former NATO Allied Commander and Joint Chiefs of Staff Director of Strategy and Policy, stated in his book, Winning Modern Wars, “As I went back through the Pentagon in November 2001, one of the senior military staff officers had time for a chat. Yes, we were still on track for going against Iraq, he said. But there was more. This was being discussed as part of a five-year campaign plan, he said, and there were a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan.”
In 2004, John Negroponte, who had served as ambassador to Honduras from 1981 to 1985, was appointed as ambassador to Iraq with the specific mandate of implementing the “Salvador Option”, a terrorist model of mass killings by US sponsored death squads. 
In 2004, Donald Rumsfeld sent Colonel James Steele to serve as a civilian advisor to Iraqi Paramilitary special police commandos known as the “Wolf Brigade”. Steele was a counter-insurgency specialist who was a member of a group of US Special Forces advisors to the Salvadorian Army and trained counter-insurgency commandos in south America, who carried out extreme abuses of human rights.  The Wolf Brigade was created and established by the United States and enabled the re-deployment of Sadaam Hussein’s Republican Guard. The Brigade was later accused by a UN official of torture, murder and the implementation of death squads.  The techniques used by these counter-insurgency squads were described as “fighting terror with terror”, which was previously done in other theaters, such as Vietnam and El Salvador. 
The use of death squads began in 2004 and continued until the winding down of combat operations in 2008. In addition to the death squads, regular military units were often ordered to “kill all military age males” during certain operations; “dead-checking” or killing wounded resistance fighters; to call in air strikes on civilian areas; and 360 degree rotational fire on busy streets. These extreme measures were justified to troops in Iraq by propaganda linking the people to terrorism. 
Colonel Steele, with the help of Col. James Hoffman, set up torture centers, dispatching Shia militias to torture Sunni soldiers to learn the details of the insurgency This has been attributed as a major cause of the civil war which led to the formation of ISIS. 
The operation of death squads as counter-insurgency measures was also common knowledge at the time. 
Private contractors, such as Steele, were often subject to different rules than the military forces they served and, in some cases, served with. As of 2008, an estimated 155,286 private contractors were employed by the US on the ground in Iraq, compared to 152,275 troops. The estimated annual cost for such contractors ballooned to $5 billion per year by 2010. 
In August 2006, four American soldiers from a combat unit in Iraq testified in an Article 32 hearing that they had been given orders by their commanding officer, Colonel Michael C. Steele, to “kill all military age males”. 
The “targeted killing” program that has been developed under President Obama’s watch is being hailed as the most effective tool against fighting terrorism.  Unfortunately, no mention is made in the mainstream media of the innocent victims (collateral damage) caused by this assassination program, nor its lack of authority under international law.  According to the journalist Glen Greenwald, all military age males in strike zones of the latest drone aircraft strike programs are considered militants unless it can be proved otherwise. Some say that this has resulted in more civilian casualties than has been reported by the government. 
Kenneth Eade is a political novelist and author of “A Patriot’s Act” and “Beyond All Recognition”, both of which are available in bookstores and Amazon.com.
 Parry, Robert (December 28, 2014) “The Victory of Perception Management” Consortium News
 Brigadier BM Kappor (2016) The Art of Perception Management in Information Warfare Today, USI of India
 Bamford, James (November 18, 2004) The Man Who Sold the War, Rolling Stone
 Brigadier BM Kappor (2016) The Art of Perception Management in Information Warfare Today, USI of India 2016
 Richelson, Jeffrey (February 20, 2014) U.S. Special Plans: A History of Deception and Perception Management, Global Research
 Cruickshank, Peter and Paul (October 31, 2007) Al-Qaeda in Iraq: A Self-fulfilling Prophecy, Mother Jones
 Chossudovsky, Michel (November 17, 2013) “The Salvador Option for Syria: US-NATO Sponsored Death Squads Integrate ‘Opposition Forces’” Global Research
 Mass, Peter (May 1, 2004) “The Way of the Commandos” New York Times
 Buncombe, Andrew (February 26, 2006) “Iraq’s Death Squads: On the Brink of Civil War” The Independent. Spencer, Richard (October 25, 2010) “WikiLeaks War Logs: Who are the Wolf Brigade?” The Daily Telegraph. Leigh, David (October 24, 2010) “The War Logs: Americans handed over captives to Iraq torture squads” The Guardian.
 Snodgrass Godoy, Angelina (2006) Popular Injustice: Violence, Community and Law in Latin America, Stanford University Press, pp. 175-180.
 Davies, Nicolas J. (November 20, 2014) Why Iraqis may see ISIL as Lesser Evil Compared to U.S. Backed Death Squads, AlterNet
 Freeman, Colin (June 29, 2014) “Death Squads, ISIS and a new generation of fighters – Why Iraq is facing break-up”
 Cerny, Jakub (June 2006) “Death Squad Operations in Iraq, Defence Academy of the United Kingdom
 Dunigan, Molly (March 19, 2013) “A Lesson From Iraq War: how to outsource war to private contractors”, The Guardian
 Von Zielbauer, Paul (August 3, 2006) GI’s Say Officers Ordered Killing of Young Iraqi Men, New York Times
 Jaffe, Greg, “How Obama went from reluctant warrior to drone champion”, Washington Post, July 1, 2016
 ACLU, U.S. Releases Casualty Numbers and New Executive Order on Targeted Killing, ACLU Press Release July 1, 2016
 Greenwald, Glenn (May 29, 2012) Militants: Media Propaganda, Salon.com
 Obama’s Kill List –All males near strike zone are terrorists (May 30, 2012) RT America.
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.