By Daniel Margrain
In a previous post, I highlighted how, after the chaos of Iraq and Libya, the mass media began softening the public up for illegal military intervention in another sovereign state – Syria. The chaos unleashed by the West has resulted in one of the greatest refugee crisis in decades, that culminated in the discovery of a small Syrian boy pictured washed-up dead on a beach in Bodrum, Turkey.
Contemptuously, UK politicians and their media mouthpieces began exploiting the image of the dead child for political propaganda purposes. The clear intention of the political-media class was to pin the blame for the refugee crisis on Syrian president Bashar-al Assad. This process was, whether intentionally or not, augmented by individuals like the former archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, who argued for:
“renewed military and diplomatic efforts to crush the twin menaces of Islamic State and al-Qaeda once and for all.” “Make no mistake”, Carey exclaimed, “this may mean air strikes and other British military assistance to create secure and safe enclaves in Syria”.
Rupert Murdoch, who has a direct financial interest in regime change in Syria (see Israel & energy independence below) subsequently oversaw some of the more overt forms of anti-Syrian propaganda as the two graphics above show.
As significant as the September, 2015 image of the dead boy was to the hawks in Whitehall and Washington, the underlying propaganda campaign against the government of President Bashar al-Assad emerged almost five years earlier in late January, 2011 which preceded Rania Abouzeid’s reporting of the announcement of a “Day of Rage” on March 4 and 5.
The propaganda didn’t work. The planned action ended up a complete failure. The Time correspondent conceded that the inability of the protest organizers to draw significant support for the “Day of Rage” was a reflection of the Syrian people’s support for their government and its policies. Abouzeid reported that unlike “the ousted pro-American leaders of Tunisia and Egypt, Assad’s hostile foreign policy toward Israel, strident support for Palestinians and the militant groups Hamas and Hezbollah are in line with popular Syrian sentiment.”
Assad, in other words, had legitimacy. However, Abouzeid’s perspective was not a view that was expressed throughout the media. On the contrary, the small minority of Syrian’s who opposed Assad’s rule were portrayed as oppressed freedom fighters akin to those who participated in the legitimate revolutions that had spread throughout vast swaths of the Arab world in the months that preceded the “Day of Rage.”
This false narrative came to head following the outbreak of violent protests in the Syrian-Jordanian town of Daraa on March 17, 2011, less than two weeks after the failed March 4 and 5 protest. Portrayed in the media, as a legitimate spontaneous revolution against a brutal dictator, the reality that underpinned the unfolding of events implied a rather different story. Professor of Economics, Michel Chossudovsky noted that the violence:
“had all the appearances of a staged event involving, in all likelihood, covert support to Islamic terrorists by Mossad and/or Western intelligence. Government sources point to the role of radical Salafist groups (supported by Israel). Other reports have pointed to the role of Saudi Arabia in financing the protest movement.”
Jeremy Salt, associate professor in Middle Eastern History and Politics at Bilkent University, Ankara, wrote:
“The armed groups are well armed and well organised. Large shipments of weapons have been smuggled into Syria from Lebanon and Turkey. They include pump action shotguns, machine guns, Kalashnikovs, RPG launchers, Israeli-made hand grenades and numerous other explosives. It is not clear who is providing these weapons but someone is, and someone is paying for them.”
Reports (suppressed in the Western media) indicating that the number of policemen killed at Daraa (seven) was more than the number of demonstrators killed (four), is hardly indicative of the brutal actions of a government intent on oppressing its own people.
Twelve days after the Western fomented violence at Daraa, tens of thousands of Syrians gathered at central bank square in Damascus in support of their president. The pro-government rally, which can be viewed here was wrongly portrayed in the Western media as an anti-government demonstration. The Guardian, for instance, reported the rally as a “military crackdown against civilians”. This kind of misinformation prompted Russia and China to veto a European-backed UN security council resolution threatening sanctions against the Syrian regime “if it did not immediately halt its military crackdown against civilians”.
It’s clear that the Western mainstream media narrative does not stand up to a moments scrutiny. Also lacking credibility is the claim that subsequent Western bombing raids into Syria were motivated by the need to destroy ISIS. These kinds of qualifications have been absent throughout the mass media. Instead, all evidence that contradicts the pro-Western narrative has been ignored and shunned.
Regime change/Ghouta & Houla
Members of the US Peace Council inferred that the key motivations underpinning the foreign policy objectives of Washington and its allies in relation to Syria, have nothing to do with protecting civilians, nor with democracy. Rather, the aim is to create sectarian divisions, ethnic strife and thus political instability as the prelude to initiating regime change in the country. Former French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas confirmed in 2013 that Britain had been planning the war on Syria “two years before the Arab spring” which was to involve the organizing of an invasion of rebels into the country. “This operation goes way back. It was prepared, preconceived and planned”, he said.
It comes as no surprise that much of UK journalism had decided that the Wests current official enemy was responsible for the chemical attacks in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta in 2013, the year Dumas made his announcement. On September 16 of that year, the UN published the evidence in its report on “the alleged use of chemical weapons in the Ghouta area”. The UN did not blame the Syrian president, Assad, for the attack, but instead expressed “grave doubts” that the Syrian government was responsible.
Just one day after the attacks, a Guardian leader claimed there was not “much doubt” who was to blame, as it simultaneously assailed its readers with commentary on the West’s “responsibility to protect” (see below). The media’s response to the May 2012 massacre in Houla, similarly reported the Assad government as having been mainly responsible for the deaths.
On June 27, 2012, a UN Commission of Inquiry delivered its report on the Houla massacre by concluding that they were unable to determine the identity of the perpetrators. However, the gruesome nature of many of the deaths pointed to the kinds of atrocities typical of Al Qaida and their affiliates in the Anbar province of Iraq. Nevertheless, the clear intention of the media was to attempt to cast Syria into the ‘civil war’ of the Wests making. The propaganda offensive continued two months later when Barack Obama announced his “red line.”
On cue, on April, 2013, the White House claimed that US intelligence assessed “with varying degrees of confidence” that “the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria, specifically the chemical agent sarin”. This was flatly contradicted by former Swiss attorney-general Carla Del Ponte on May 6, 2013. Speaking for the United Nations independent commission of inquiry on Syria, Del Ponte said, “We have no indication at all that the Syrian government have used chemical weapons.”
September 16, 2013 UN report
Seemingly undeterred, Washington continued with the accusations following the chemical attacks in Ghouta over three months later, long before the UN published the conclusions in its September 16, 2013 report. The reports findings were cautious in terms of blaming the Assad regime for the attack. Nevertheless, as far as the U.S administration was concerned, Assad had crossed the ‘red line’ and was pronounced ‘guilty’. As a result, the U.S president announced on television that he was going to respond with a ‘targeted’ military strike on Syria, despite widespread public opposition to any such attack.
In response to the opposition to mission creep and war, the BBC produced the now infamous documentary, Saving Syria’s Children, arguably the most overt propaganda piece of any British broadcaster ever made. Sequences from the documentary were initially broadcast on the BBCs News at Ten flagship bulletin. The subsequent documentary programme was broadcast in full on the day the House of Commons were due to vote for military action in Syria and was clearly intended to influence the vote which the Cameron government ultimately lost. Robert Stuart’s brilliant and meticulous analytical demolition of the documentary can be viewed here.
Qatari government report
Yet another cynical piece of anti-Assad propaganda that passed the corporate mainstream media class by, was the BBCs distorted interpretation of a report commissioned by the Qatari government which claimed that the Syrian government had “systematically tortured and executed about 11,000 detainees since the start of the uprising”. Former UK diplomat to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, described the BBCs presentation of the report as “a disgrace” that again, was clearly intended to influence public opinion in favour of war. The media war-drive was averted after Obama agreed to a Russian proposal at the UN to dismantle Syria’s capability for making chemical weapons after having been exposed for his deceptions.
Based on interviews with US intelligence and military insiders, Seymour Hersh, the journalist who revealed the role the United States played in the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, was unequivocal in his assertion that Obama deceived the world in making a cynical case for war. This assertion was supported in April, 2016, by former CIA analyst, Ray McGovern, who argued that the Turkish government, at the behest of Washington, engineered the chemical attacks in Ghouta in order to draw the United States into Syria. McGovern stressed that one of the Turkish journalists who exposed Turkey’s involvement in the alleged false flag attack has (as part of president Erdogan’s crackdown on independent journalism), been imprisoned and charged with treason.
Brief historical context
Failed planned coup attempts by successive Anglo-American administrations in Syria go back to the late 1940s. These attempts became increasingly difficult to achieve as the result of the growth of a wave of Arab nationalism during the 1950s. By March 1956, the British stepped-up their attempts at regime change with the aid of the Muslim Brotherhood that involved a series of false flag incidents and the funding of anti-left groups – the aim of which was to stymie the development of a union between Egypt and Syria and to ensure the latter became part of the Iraqi state at a later date.
The plans were foiled by the Syrian authorities in October 1956, but were resumed with the initiation of a new strategy the following September, which again, involved planned provocations by the Muslim Brotherhood in conjunction with the intelligence services of Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq. The Anglo–American plan also involved Prime Minister Harold Macmillan who authorized the assassination of key Syrian officials. Having failed, the plan was ditched in early October, 1957 in favour of a strategy of ‘containment plus’, which involved enlisting pro-Western Arab states and exiled opposition groups to maintain pressure against Syria (Source).
Arms company profits
The prospect of a lengthy war against Syria provides a boost to the profits of the arms and weapons companies while simultaneously reining in Russian and Iranian influence in the region. According to Charles Glass, in order to help achieve this, U.S tax payers’ money “has been used to fund terrorist groups from the very beginning.” The author, journalist and film-maker proffered the U.S rationale for this course of action:
“Iran is president Assad’s only ally in the region, and Assad is the only client state of Russia in the entire Arab war. Remember, there are only twenty-two members of the Arab League, twenty-one of whom are client American states, and Russia wasn’t going to give the one that remains [ie Syria] up. So from the point of view of the U.S, they want to have all twenty-two.”
“Moreover, they want the Syrian army to be U.S trained, and they want a Qatari pipeline to go through Syria. They want to dominate the whole region and Syria is the missing piece. In addition to which, because Syria supported Hezzbollah in Lebanon, which the Israeli’s have never forgiven them for, they wanted to break the bridge with Tehran. For the outside powers, it’s never been about human rights and democracy inside Syria. That’s not the issue. The issue has always been about Assad’s relationship with Iran.”
Glass’s assertions, which are supported by former UK ambassador, Craig Murray, have been corroborated by Wikileak cables. But regime change that invokes the imposition of an anti-Russian leader within the power structures of the Syrian state, cannot be achieved without the aid of ISIS on the ground who have gained access to weapons exported by the UK to the Middle East in the wake of the 2003 US-led Iraq invasion.
However, gaining access to weapons is not possible without access to money to purchase them. The main source of ISIS funds is from the sale of oil from nearly a dozen oil fields in northern Iraq and Syria’s Raqqa province. It then passes through Turkey and Iraq’s Kurdistan region. In September 2014, in a briefing to the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee, EU Ambassador to Iraq, Jana Hybaskova, conceded that some European countries have purchased crude from ISIS from the areas in northern Iraq and Syria they have captured. This is all part of the West’s strategy to wreck the relatively secular and stable nature of Syrian civic society.
Black market oil/Arab allies funding ISIS
In 2012, a Pentagon document obtained by Judicial Watch spelled out the fact that the Wests supported terrorist opposition – who have burned down churches and massacred the world’s oldest Christian communities – “are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria.” Two years later (2014), David Cohen, US Treasury under-secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, claimed that middlemen from Turkey and Iraq’s Kurdistan region buy black market oil from ISIS that earns the terror group some $1 million a day.
If Western governments were serious about obliterating the existential threat they claim ISIS represents, they would not be aligning themselves with 70,000 unidentified ‘moderates’ who, as Patrick Cockburn contends “are weak or barely exist”. On the contrary, they would be aligning themselves with the forces on the ground that are resisting ISIS most effectively. These groups are the Syrian Kurds, the Syrian National Army, Hezzbollah and Iran – all of whom were, and to some extent still are, being backed by Russian air power.
Nafeez Ahmed notes that in his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee in September 2014, General Martin Dempsey, then chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, was asked by Senator Lindsay Graham whether he knew of “any major Arab ally that embraces ISIL”? Dempsey replied: “I know major Arab allies who fund them.” In other words, the most senior US military official at the time had confirmed that ISIS were being funded by the very same “major Arab allies” that had just joined the US-led anti-ISIS coalition. Dempsey’s testimony is consistent with information contained within a leaked US State Department memo, dated 17 August 2014, which states that:
“We need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to Isis and other radical groups in the region.”
The ‘Responsibility to Protect’ Doctrine
The following year (September 28, 2015), in a speech to the U.N General Assembly in New York, President Obama alluded to the ‘responsibility to protect’ (R2P) doctrine as the justification for Assad’s overthrow and, in the name of democracy, the bombing of the Syrian people to death. Earlier that day at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton, the neocon fanatic, Hilary Benn, was more explicit by actually citing the R2P doctrine by name as the justification to attack Syria.
Formulated at the 2005 UN World Summit, the version of R2P currently in vogue and proposed by the [Gareth] Evans Commission, authorises “regional or sub-regional organisations” such as NATO to determine their “area of jurisdiction” and to act in cases where “the Security Council rejects a proposal or fails to deal with it in a reasonable time”.
Often described as an “emerging norm” in international affairs, but in reality has “long been considered a norm”, R2P has – with the accompaniment of lofty rhetoric about the solemn responsibility to protect suffering populations – been used to illegally overthrow a series of sovereign states, most recently in Libya. The version of the R2P doctrine formulated at the UN World Summit will almost certainly be used to justify the illegal dismembering of Syria.
From the Iraq debacle onward, there has been an attempt by the Western powers to circumvent the consensus view of what constitutes illegality among the world’s leading international lawyers. The individual who has been instrumental in the interpretative reconfiguration of international law for the benefit of Western interests, is the international lawyer, Daniel Bethlehem.
The Caroline Principle
Bethlehem had represented Israel before the Mitchell Inquiry into violence against the people of Gaza, arguing that it was all legitimate self-defense. He had also supplied the Government of Israel with a Legal Opinion that the vast Wall they were building in illegally occupied land, surrounding and isolating all the major Palestinian communities and turning them into large prisons, was also legal. Daniel Bethlehem is an extreme Zionist militarist of the most aggressive kind, and close to Mark Regev, Israel’s new Ambassador to the UK.
In contrast to the consensus view of the world’s leading international lawyers, Daniel Bethlehem’s marginal and extremist position is outlined in a memorandum where he ‘develops’ the Caroline Principle. It is this legal conceptual re-evaluation of international law that has come to dominate Western political discourse. A key part of the memorandum states:
“It must be right that states are able to act in self-defence in circumstances where there is evidence of further imminent attacks by terrorist groups, even if there is no specific evidence of where such an attack will take place or of the precise nature of the attack.”
It is this minority extremist legal ‘opinion’ that formed the basis for the Iraq invasion predicated on the Bush Doctrine – as one administration official put it – of “pre-emptive retaliation.”
Israel & energy independence
Daniel Bethlehem’s development of the Caroline Principle, therefore, will almost certainly play a part in the broader strategy to dismember Syria that involves the granting of oil exploration rights inside Syria, by Israel, in the occupied Golan Heights, to the multinational corporation, Genie Energy.
Major shareholders of the company – which also has interests in shale gas in the United States and shale oil in Israel – include Rupert Murdoch and Lord Jacob Rothschild. Other players involved include the Israeli subsidiary, Afek Oil and Gas, American Shale, French Total and BP. Thus, there exists a broad and powerful nexus of US, British, French and Israeli interests at the forefront of pushing for the break-up of Syria and the control of what is believed to be potentially vast untapped oil and gas resources in the country.
Against this are the competing agendas of the various belligerent gas-exporting foreign factions, that according to Orstein and Romer, have interests in one of the two gas pipeline projects that seek to cross Syrian territory to deliver either Qatari or Iranian gas to Europe. As Orenstein explained:
“In 2009, Qatar proposed to build a pipeline to send its gas northwest via Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Syria to Turkey… However, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad refused to sign the plan; Russia, which did not want to see its position in European gas markets undermined, put him under intense pressure not to”.
Russia’s Gazprom sells 80 per cent of its gas to Europe. So in 2010, Russia put its weight behind “an alternative Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline that would pump Iranian gas from the same field out via Syrian ports such as Latakia and under the Mediterranean.” The project would allow Moscow “to control gas imports to Europe from Iran, the Caspian Sea region, and Central Asia.”
Up to this point, US policy toward Assad had been ambivalent – the intention being that “jaw-jaw” rather than “war-war” would more likely pry him away from Iran, thus opening up the Syrian economy to US investors, and aligning the Assad government with US-Israeli regional designs. But the signing in July, 2011, of a $10 billion Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline deal put an end to the U.S ‘softly-softly’ approach.
The rebel-terrorist factions whose violence had been fomented by the Western imperial axis at Daraa in March 2011 had, by the end of that year, seen their levels of covert assistance increase substantially. The purpose of this increase in support, was to elicit the “collapse” of the Assad government. This kind of ‘war of attrition’strategy of supporting Islamist terrorists, was intended to draw Russia into Syria in the same way the Carter government in 1979 had supported the mujahideen in Afghanistan in order to draw the Soviet Union, as it was then, into that country as the prelude to its collapse.
Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, major defense contractors Raytheon, Oshkosh, and Lockheed Martin assured investors that they stand to gain from the escalating conflicts in the Middle East. Lockheed Martin Executive Vice President Bruce Tanner said his company will see “indirect benefits” from the war in Syria. In addition, a deal that authorized $607 billion in defense spending brokered by the U.S Congress, was described as a “treat” for the industry. What better way to benefit from this ‘treat’ than for the major powers to secure the hydrocarbon potential of Syria’s offshore resources with the aim of reducing European dependence on Russian gas and boosting the potential for energy independence.
Media pushing hard for war
None of the above would have been possible without one of the most concerted media propaganda offensives since the Iraq invasion. At the forefront of this offensive is the Murdoch printed press which is pushing hard for war for the reasons outlined, with the rest of the pack not far behind. According to the Pew Research Journalism Project, “the No. 1 message” on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and Al Jazeera, is that “the U.S. should “get involved” in the conflict in Syria”. But involvement requires a semblance of public consent and this is often achieved as the result of a singularly defining propaganda image or event.
In terms of the first Gulf conflict, the event in question was the infamous nurse Nayirah affair. In relation to the 2003 Iraq invasion, it was the WMD debacle, and in Libya in 2011 it was the false claims of rape said to have been committed by Libyan government troops. In relation to Syria, the media – without evidence – blamed Russia for the deadly attack on an aid convoy in the north of the country and have used the image of the small boy, Omran Daqneesh, photographed covered in dust sitting on a chair in their attempts at getting the public ‘onside’.
From the fakery of the BBCs ‘Saving Syria’s Children’, the media’s use of the term “barrel bombs”, the glorification of White Helmets (who have been exposed as terrorist-enabler’s) – through to the ‘weaponizing’ of the concern for innocents exemplified by the exploitation of seven year old Bana Alabed by an individual whose on-line activities suggest complicity in a criminal disinformation campaign – the propaganda during this latest conflict has arguably been more sophisticated and far-reaching than at any time in the past.
Also implicit in the media’s use of anti-Syrian government propaganda have been Channel 4 News, BBC Newsnight and Al Jazeera, all of whom have uncritically relayed reports from those sympathetic to the regime change narrative in Syria. Both Channel 4 News and BBC Newsnight, for example, have featured uncritical interviews with Ishmael Alabdullah from the White Helmets, while Al-Jazeera produced what was clearly a piece of absurd theatre – reminiscent of CNNs interview with the fake “Danny”- in which the news presenter struggled not to laugh out loud live on air.
All of this forms part of a broader media agenda of lies, deceptions and misinformation. Independent investigative journalist, Eva Bartlett, who has spent time on the ground in Aleppo provided an invaluable alternative narrative to the mantra peddled by the corporate media. Commenting at a UN press conference in December, 2016, Bartlett said:
“The corporate media interviews people that might be representatives of Syria, living abroad who haven’t been to Syria for years, or people they claim are in eastern Aleppo, until recently (now eastern Aleppo is liberated).
But they don’t [talk to civilians on the streets]… I mean how many western journalists have gone to Aleppo? And, you can. I’ve applied for visas and I’ve waited well over a month for my journalist visa. It’s not impossible, and other western journalists have gone to Syria and gone to Aleppo.
But they largely do not bother to talk to the Syrian people there, and ask how has life been for you these past years in Aleppo? If they had, they would find out that people have fled from eastern Aleppo. Something like 600,000 people over the years have fled from eastern areas of Aleppo which the terrorists’ factions occupied, to government-secured greater Aleppo. They did so for their own safety and they were given shelter by the government in university housing and in other shelters.
But this is never talked about in the corporate media. They would never talk about the fact that water and electricity have been cut off, since the terrorists took over these areas, of eastern and outskirts of Aleppo. They wouldn’t talk about the bombings that I’ve mentioned. They wouldn’t talk about the period of prolonged sieges, when terrorist factions cut off the only road that was leading into Aleppo. And these prolonged sieges meant that people weren’t getting food and medicine, etc. from outside.”
Asked what advice she would give to US officials, Bartlett said:
“Stop arming the terrorists, stop whitewashing their crimes. Stop allowing Turkey to keep its borders open and terrorists to flood in and out through Turkey’s borders. Stop supporting the regimes of Saudi Arabia, which are in turn arming terrorists, which are brainwashing terrorists. Stop interfering in a sovereign nation.
The U.S. was not invited, nor was Canada, nor were any of the groups that are in the U.S. coalition that is supposedly fighting ISIS in Syria. And yet, out of, something like 15,000 sorties, as of a couple of months ago, they’ve done very little in terms of actually fighting ISIS. On the contrary, they’ve repeatedly attacked Syrian infrastructure, including bridges in eastern Syria, in Deir ez-Zor. They attacked a Syrian military position in September killing at least 83 Syrian soldiers. And only have finally owned up to this in an attack that lasted nearly one hour that enabled ISIS to take over the position.
So, you know, if U.S. officials, with all their crocodile tears, actually care about human rights in Syria, they should stop supporting the terrorists who are destroying the country.”
In terms of the likely implications for the Syrian people resulting from the implementation of no fly zones, Bartlett proffered the following nugget of wisdom:
“If there was a no-fly zone, above all, it would not mean human rights and it would not mean peace for Syrians, and that’s the whole pretext of the no-fly zone. Because the U.S. administration, and their lackey corporate media, whitewash the crimes of the terrorists. They vilify the government. And nobody is saying the government is perfect. Because no government is perfect.
But the point is, this is a war on Syria, with terrorists from over 100 nations, waging their wicked and distorted version of Jihad in Syria, or just acting as paid and drugged out mercenaries. If the U.S. was to compose a no-fly zone, there are various allies of Syria that are not going to stand for it.
If people don’t actually care about human rights in Syria think about it from a U.S. perspective–you are actually putting yourself at war with Russia. Russia is an ally of Syria. It was invited by Syria. And it does have its own interest in Syria. And clearly it’s not going to stand for the U.S. destroying Syria as it did Libya.”
In contrast to Bartlett’s first-hand account, Channel 4 News, which markets itself as an high grade news broadcaster, is in reality, little more than a font for government propaganda. The October 4, 2016 edition of the programme ranks as one of the most biased and distorted pieces of reportage ever seen on British television. Reporter Krishnan Guru-Murthy, for example, described a rebel (Jihadist terrorist) “victory” in east Aleppo as “rebels fighting back against the forces of President Assad”. Guru-Murthy reported the battle from the narrow perspective of al-Qaida and it was clear from his general tone to whom he intended the viewers sympathies to be aligned with.
Guru-Murthy’s embedded report also failed to mention that – as evidenced by White Helmets logo clearly displayed on a jacket of one of the rebels – that the self-proclaimed ‘humanitarians’ are inculcated with Salafist beheaders. In other words, Guru-Murthy failed to inform his viewers that the “moderate rebels” he was describing were in fact Harakat al-Nour al-Zenki, one of 22 brigades that operate in and around Aleppo that comprise one of many U.S. State Department-funded terrorist fighters.
Finally, the Channel 4 reporter omitted to mention that a video had surfaced shortly before the broadcast of the report in which Harakat al-Nour al-Zenki members were shown abusing and beheading a child, Abdullah Issa, from a Palestinian refugee camp in northern Aleppo. Compare and contrast the lack of media coverage of this repugnant act, to the saturated coverage given to the small boy, Omran Daqneesh, photographed sitting upright on a chair after having allegedly been rescued from the rubble of Aleppo which brought a CNN newscaster to tears.
The false propaganda underscored the fact that by late November, 2016 the Western and Gulf-state backed head-chopping Salafist terrorist “rebels” had been trounced by joint Kurdish-Syrian government forces who had liberated vast swaths of territory in east Aleppo including the Sakhour, Haydariya and Sheikh Fares neighbourhoods. In the wake of the liberation, at least 120 British MPs backed a petition calling for the UK Government to carry out “life-saving aid drops” over eastern Aleppo.
Among those MPs demanding what is a euphemism for the implementation of a no fly zone, was Labour’s Emily Thornberry, who in the House of Commons cited the White Helmets, as the justification for advocating this course of action. On the November 28, 2016 edition of Sky News, journalist Sam Kiley described the re-capture of a third of east Aleppo, not as a liberation but a “so-called liberation.”
The persistent Bana myth
Kiley’s source for this illogical narrative was Fatemah Alabed, mother of seven year old, Bana Alabed. Bana, in whose name a twitter account was set up in September, 2016, allegedly in an “unknown east Aleppo neighbourhood” – and whose tweets have consistently focused on anti-Assad and anti-Russian themes and the need to be saved from bombing – has been uncritically endorsed throughout the corporate media. Bana has garnered celebrity status, her most notable fan being the author, J K Rowling.
Bana’s mastering of English idiomatic expressions on twitter is indicative of somebody who is fluent in the language, but her prompted robotic responses to questions by Sky News presenter, Alex Crawford, among others, clearly suggests otherwise. In addition, the various inconsistencies in Bana’s twitter feed narrative reinforce the notion that the seven year old’s account – given the number of tweets – is being run by others out of Aleppo for nefarious purposes. As Barbara McKenzie puts it:
“There can be no doubt that the Bana project is a scam, like… the White Helmets. The tweets are not the thoughts of a little Syrian girl wanting the world to save her from Russian bombs. Rather, they are the product of a sophisticated and well-planned operation designed to shape public perception of the Syrian and Russian operations, in order to justify Western intervention in Syria and facilitate regime change.”
The graphic below emerged on twitter on December 6, 2016, and clearly shows seven year-old Bana with child-beheading Zenki terrorists (Thanks to Lamees)
Tormenting the liberated
On the November 28, 2016 edition of Sky News, journalist Sam Kiley claimed that the secular Syrian population who had been liberated from their head-chopping Salafist oppressors’s, “fled into the arms of their tormentors – the Syrian regime”.
The narrative of Syrian government and Russian forces “tormenting” the civilians they are liberating is a common one. It’s an inversion of truth that was evident as part of a BBC Radio 4 news bulletin, in which the Syrian army were reported as having “recaptured key areas of rebel held east Aleppo.” Thousands of civilians were said to have “been forced to flee as besieged parts of the city came under intense attack by government troops.”
This kind of deliberate inversion of the truth is intended to demonize the Syrian’s and Russian’s and thus give new meaning to the unfolding of events. In the BBCs version, the liberation of 18,000 civilians in east Aleppo by Syrian and Russian forces from their Islamist fundamentalist captors, is translated as civilians being “forced” to “flee” east Aleppo due to this part of the city being “besieged” by government troops.
Jon Snow – an apologist for Salafist beheader’s
The perpetuation of this kind of inversion of reality, was also clearly the intention of the liberal-left’s favourite ‘pinko’ Channel 4 News journalist, Jon Snow. “Interviewing” Aleppo MP, Fares Shehabi on the November 30, 2016 edition of Channel 4 News, Snow introduced Shehabi as a “regime MP” and proceeded to announce to his viewers with apparent authority and certainty, that Syrian and Russian government forces were responsible for “bombing civilians from the air with barrel bombs”, killing forty-five of them as they attempted to flee to safety.
Snow’s evidence for this was that the Al-Qaida-Al-Nusra Front propagandists, the White Helmets, who are embedded in terrorist-held eastern Aleppo, filmed what was purported to be the aftermath of the attack. Snow’s stenography underscored his subsequent independently unverified assertion that the Syrian civilian population “do not wish to live under Mr Assad, they do not wish to live under your [Assad’s] regime“ (note how Snow repeats the propaganda ‘trigger term’, “regime”). Shehabi responded to Snow’s unfounded claims by stating that Syria is not a regime “but a legitimate government fighting international terrorism.”
For a population that supposedly doesn’t want to live under a president who Snow claimed was responsible for bombing them, the reaction among the 18,000 civilians who have been liberated from terrorist controlled areas, belies that claim. The US State Department Spokesman who was filmed smirking as he blatantly lied about the situation in Aleppo as the video switches back and forth between these lies and the reaction of the people escaping the eastern part of the city has not, to my knowledge, been shown on any Western corporate news outlet. If the general public were to be made aware of the reactions of the Syrian people in the aftermath of their liberation, it would immediately bring the false propaganda perpetuated by the likes of Snow crashing down in flames.
Snow won’t settle
A snarling Snow, who is clearly either ignorant of these facts, or refuses to believe them, looked on incredulously at his opposite number, the MP for Aleppo, and continuing, in no uncertain terms with his unsubstantiated allegations, stated: “Your own constituents, your own friends, have been killed by the government, flying planes, dropping barrel bombs.”
It’s inconceivable that somebody like Snow would direct a similar line of aggressive questioning to, say, a French parliamentarian for speaking out against the terrorist threat posed by ISIS on the streets of Paris. But this was precisely the terrorist-apologist approach Snow undertook in relation to Mr Shehabi. It is also unlikely that an establishment-embedded journalist like Snow would entertain the possibility that terrorists and Western-backed mercenaries, rather than Syrian government forces, could have killed forty-five civilians as part of a credible false flag attack.
In response to Snow’s independently unverified claim, an increasingly frustrated Shehabi, who clearly recognized that he had been set up, effectively accused Snow of being an apologist for the head-chopping Salafist terrorists: “Look, if you are going to legitimize and beautify the existence of terrorist activity inside my city, you will not get any approval from me or any citizen in Aleppo.”
It clearly hadn’t occurred to Snow that the rational explanation was that civilians were far more likely to have been killed by terrorists as they approached the safe haven corridor controlled by the Syrian army, than they were by Syrian “barrel bombs”. Seemingly undeterred, Snow continued to repeat similar soundbites to Shehabi as though the public at home watching needed to be reminded of the false propaganda one more time:
“You are the MP for Aleppo”, exclaimed Snow. “Your own constituents are dying from your own air force, and you don’t do anything about it.” He added: “You don’t seem to care a damn about your own constituents.”
Looking and sounding increasingly exasperated with Snow’s blatant one-sided line of aggressive questioning and baseless assertions, Shehabi, responded angrily: “Listen, this is absolutely false”, he retorted. “Our own civilians were being taken hostage, in the largest hostage-taking situation in the world by terrorists on the UN terrorist list.”
At this point Snow interrupted Shehabi while in full flow, clearly realizing that such utterances of truth that have the potential of swaying public opinion towards the Syrian government position, cannot be tolerated by a British mainstream broadcaster. So Snow shifted the discussion towards another propaganda ‘trigger point’ – Aleppo hospitals.
Oblivious to the fact that the mainstream printed media have reported Russia’s alleged bombing of hospitals in eastern Aleppo on at least twenty separate occasions since 10 June, 2016, and that these hospitals have been turned into terrorist command centres and sniper towers, Snow snapped back at Shehabi, “Why do you bomb the hospitals in which your own constituents, your own civilians, are seeking aid to help them repair their wounds that your air force has inflicted?”, he remarked.
Aleppo’s terrorist doctors
Evidence uncovered by Professor Tim Anderson, points to the likelihood that the Aleppo hospital claims are part and parcel of an imperialist smokescreen used to cover-up yet more terrorist massacres in Syria. Dr. Hamza al-Khatib, who is regularly interviewed, uncritically, on Channel 4 News, seemingly after almost every alleged attack on an Aleppo hospital, was last credited with filming “new pictures inside [Aleppo]” for the news broadcaster.
One of the images al-Khatib filmed was of Cardiologist, Dr. Abo Zaid.
Independent investigative journalist, John Delacour, uncovered information from the Revolutionary Forces of Syria Media Office (RFS) which revealed that Zaid, as well as being a Cardiologist, is also a legal adviser to the Syrian government opposition, the FSA. Neither this, nor the obvious conflict of interest issues that arose from images produced by al-Khatib, were explained during the Channel 4 report. When Delacour asked Channel 4 News Chief Correspondent, Alex Thompson on twitter, the reason why viewers were presented with a deliberately under-exposed, darkened image, of Zaid, Thompson’s “reply” was to block him.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness. Many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.” Mark Twain.
A much needed corrective to the kinds of false propaganda outlined above, was provided by members of the US Peace Council (USPC), a delegation of U.S citizens who had travelled throughout Syria during the summer of 2016 on a fact finding mission. The delegation, who paid their own way and were allowed to meet whomever they wanted, met with Syrian Government Officials including, President Assad, Union Leaders, Government Opposition Members as well as Civil and Business Leaders, NGO’s, Charities and Universities.
USPC delegate, Joe Jamison stated in the groups press conference: “Our delegation came to Syria with political views and assumptions, but we were determined to be sceptics and to follow the facts wherever they led us”, he said. “I concluded that the motive of the US war is to destroy an independent, Arab, secular state. It’s the last of this kind of state standing.”
Jamison continued, “By contrast to the medieval Wahhabist ideology, Syria promotes a socially inclusive and pluralistic form of Islam. We met these people. They are humane and democratically minded…. “The [Syrian] government is popular and recognized as being legitimate by the UN”, said Jamison. “It contests and wins elections which are monitored. There’s a parliament which contains opposition parties – we met them. There is a significant non-violent opposition which is trying to work constructively for its own social vision.”
Countering the claim that what is happening in Syria is a “civil war”, another USPC delegate, Madeleyn Hoffman exclaimed, “It’s not Assad against his own people. It is President Assad and the Syrian people all together – in unity – against outside mercenary forces and terror organisations.” This contention is consistent with the analysis of Stephen Gowans who recalls that in early 2011, reporters from Time magazine and the New York Times conceded that Assad commanded broad support, was popular, and that Syrians exhibited little interest in protest. According to Barbara McKenzie, “the concept of the ‘civil war’ has been long debunked – instead the war has been seen for what it is, a proxy war initiated and fuelled from without.”
The numbers below indicate support for this thesis:
Thanks to Maytham
Dr Declan Hayes, who has experience on the ground in Syria, offers additional insights:
“If this were a genuine revolution or revolt against a tyrannical regime, the sort of despots one gets in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait or Turkey, one would expect most Syrian moderates to support it. Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, to take one pertinent example, famously had the support of the shopkeepers, hawkers and students of Tehran who ended up sending the Shah, his secret police and their toadies scuttling for American-supplied bolt holes overseas.
Whatever its rights or wrongs, Iran’s Islamic Revolution had widespread support, as do Bahrain’s moderate protesters, who brave the henchmen of Saudi Arabia every time they protest against that truly autocratic regime. Moderate Alawites, Shias or Christians cannot support the Syrian insurgents as all the rebels are agreed that the Alawites and Shias must be exterminated and the Christians driven into exile, if they are not first also exterminated. All of Syria’s Christian leaders support, implicitly at least, the government of the Syrian Arab Republic, not least because, a few token rebels apart, there is no area in rebel-held Syria where they can openly practice their religion or live without perpetual fear.
Nor is there anywhere the moderate rebels control that Christians and other minorities can be safe from kidnapping by these same moderates, who will then sell them on to their more violent partners in crime, in much the same way the moderate rebels sold on the Ma’lulah nuns and the two American journalists who were recently beheaded. There is, in short, no way Syria’s Christians, Shias or Alawites, who do not have a death wish, can support the moderate rebels.”
The British government support the mercenary forces and terror organisations of the kind outlined by Dr Hayes to the tune of £2.3 billion – a sum that is channeled into propaganda campaigns. Conservative estimates suggest that many countries and regions have handed over at least £100m to the terrorist-enablers, the White Helmets alone.
Evidence points to the existence of a complex interwoven web that connects the various government departments, NGOs, opposition groups and activists with the corporate media who facilitate and amplify the propaganda in order to help achieve the ultimate objective of regime change in Syria. This evidence, as outlined by Barbara McKenzie is compelling:
“The role played by the British Foreign Office and other government departments in the unremitting propaganda against the Syrian government is unquestionable. The British government is determinedly pursuing its policy of regime change in Syria, and sees gaining public acceptance of that policy through propaganda that demonises the Syrian government and glorifies the armed opposition as essential to achieving that goal.”
The propaganda effort was stepped-up after the government failed to persuade parliament to support military action against the Assad government. In the autumn of 2013, the UK embarked on behind-the-scenes work to influence the course of the war by shaping perceptions of opposition fighters. It was during this time that the media narrative in which Islamist extremist beheaders were described as ‘Jihadists’ and ‘terrorists’ began to shift to the more benign terms, ‘rebels’ and ‘Syrian opposition’.
Barbara McKenzie notes that the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), working with the Ministry of Defence, the Home Office and the Prime Minister’s Office formed contracts companies for the express purpose of creating ‘targeted information’ in relation to the war on Syrian. In effect the British government is funding a comprehensive top of the range advertising campaign to promote sectarian extremists in Syria who function as units of al Qaeda and ISIS. This involves the production of videos, photos, military reports, radio broadcasts, print products and social media posts branded with the logos of fighting groups by contractors hired out by the Foreign Office and overseen by the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
More broadly, in terms of US funding, the so-called ‘black budget’ for its intelligence agencies is said to be over $50 billion with the bulk of that ($14 billion) going to the CIA. There are vested interests at play. The various agencies have to justify the resources they receive from central government because if they couldn’t there would be cuts and people would lose their jobs. In other words, there is a transmission belt between the various think-tanks, NGOs, lobbyists and central government. The organisations involved include:
The online lobby organization was founded in 2007 by Jeremy Heimans (now CEO of Purpose) and others. The company which actively promoted regime change in Libya, is now actively engaged in promoting the same for Syria. The role played by Avaaz in what Jay Taber describes as being part of the “non-profit industrial complex”, and its “totalitarian control of social media, and the mobilization of progressives in support of neoliberal fascism.”[citation from: Seven Steps of Highly Effective Manipulators White Helmets, Avaaz, Nicholas Kristof and Syria No Fly Zone]
Human Rights Watch
This organization has played a critical role in Libya and Syria in propagandizing the western public against the governments of those countries, thereby justifying the imperialist assault on them. More than simply “collecting the facts,” HRW cobbled together a completely distorted, and in many cases utterly dishonest and factually wrong, narrative which has buttressed the case for “intervention” in Syria, as it did in Libya.
Within a few months of the outbreak of violence in Syria, HRW positioned itself as a leading international voice condemning the “crimes” of the Syrian government led by President Bashar al-Assad, and calling for international action to stop it. In its ostensibly “comprehensive” report ‘We’ve Never Seen Such Horror’: Crimes Against Humanity in Daraa, and the accompanying press release, HRW combined unsubstantiated allegations with significant leaps in logic to paint a portrait of one-sided massacres against innocent protesters being conducted by the Syrian security forces.[citation from: Seven Steps of Highly Effective Manipulators White Helmets, Avaaz, Nicholas Kristof and Syria No Fly Zone]
Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, has been vocal in his support for a full scale war on Syria in the name of humanitarianism. Roth has repeatedly called for intervention against the legal government of Syria, having tweeted statements such as “Like Sarajevo, could Douma market slaughter finally force Assad to stop targeting civilians?” (@KenRoth, Aug 16). The implication of the statement is quite clear: there should be military intervention, such as the US-NATO war on Yugoslavia and later Serbia, in order to stop the “slaughter” of civilians. It should be noted that this tweet was posted within hours of the news of the incident in Douma long before any investigation
Roth, and by extension Human Rights Watch, further discredits whatever vestiges of impartiality he and HRW might have had with inane tweets such as “Douma market killings show how Assad chooses to fight this war: deliberately against civilians,” (@KenRoth, Aug 16), an obviously biased, and utterly unsubstantiated allegation. Roth could have absolutely no knowledge of either the identities of the dead, or the Syrian government’s motives, when he released the tweet the same day as the attack. He reveals himself here to be little more than a lackey for imperialism, a war hawk masquerading as a human rights defender.” [citation from: The Douma Market Attack: a Fabricated Pretext for Intervention?]
Hand in Hand for Syria:
The UK Charity Commission’s website states that Hand in Hand for Syria exists for “the advancement of health or saving lives”. Until July 2014 the Facebook banner of Hand in Hand’s co-founder and chairman Faddy Sahloul read “WE WILL BRING ASSAD TO JUSTICE; NO MATTER WHAT LIVES IT TAKES, NO MATTER HOW MUCH CATASTROPHE IT MAKES”. The image was removed shortly after it was commented on publicly. Also on Hand in Hand’s executive team is Dr Rola Hallam, one of the two medics featured in ‘Saving Syria’s Children’.
On 30 August 2013, the day after the BBC’s initial report on the alleged Aleppo incendiary bomb attack, Dr Hallam appeared on BBC’s Newsnight programme expressing her profound disappointment at parliament’s rejection of a military strike against Syria. Dr Hallam’s father is Dr. Mousa al-Kurdi. According to a 2013 article by Dr Saleyha Ahsan – the other Hand in Hand for Syria volunteer medic featured in ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ – Dr al-Kurdi is “involved politically with the Syrian National Council”.” [citation from: UK Charity Which Shares Syrian Opposition “Aims and Objectives” Benefits from Alan Kurdi Tragedy]
“The Syria Campaign”:
The Syria Campaign, begun in spring 2014, is managed by Anna Nolan, who grew up in northern Ireland and has very likely never been to Syria. In addition to promoting the White Helmets, Syria Campaign promotes a new social media campaign called “Planet Syria”. It features emotional pleas for the world to take notice of Syria in another thinly veiled effort pushing for foreign intervention and war. According to their website, The Syria Campaign received start-up funding from the foundation of Ayman Asfari, a billionaire who made his money in the oil and gas services industry. …One of their first efforts was to work to prevent publicity and information about the Syrian Presidential Election of June 2014.
Accordingly, “The Syria Campaign” pressured Facebook to remove advertisements or publicity about the Syrian election. Since then Syria Campaign has engineered huge media exposure and mythology about their baby, the “White Helmets” using all sorts of social and traditional media. The campaigns are largely fact free. For example, the Syrian election was dismissed out of hand by them and John Kerry but taken seriously by many millions of Syrians.” [citation from: Seven Steps of Highly Effective Manipulators White Helmets, Avaaz, Nicholas Kristof and Syria No Fly Zone]
White Helmets/”Syrian Civil Defence
This organization is highly publicized as civilian rescue workers in Syria but in reality is a project created by the UK and USA. Training of civilians in Turkey has been overseen by former British military officer and current contractor, James Le Mesurier. Promotion of the programme is done by “The Syria Campaign”supported by the foundation of billionaire Ayman Asfari. The White Helmets is clearly a public relations project…who work in areas of Aleppo and Idlib controlled by Nusra (al-Qaida). White Helmets primary function is propaganda. Their role is to demonize the Assad government and encourages direct foreign intervention.
A White Helmet leader wrote a Washington Post editorial and are also very active on social media with presence on Twitter, Facebook etc. According to their website, contact to the group is made by email through The Syria Campaign which underscores the relationship. [citations from: About Those Chlorine Gas Attacks in Syria & Seven Steps of Highly Effective Manipulators White Helmets, Avaaz, Nicholas Kristof and Syria No Fly Zone]. Also see: Who are the White Helmets and what is their role in Syria?
At the present time Mayday’s sole responsibility appears to be management of the ‘Syrian Civil Defense’ or White Helmets, a supposed first responder organisation staffed by ordinary Syrians, which are in fact an extension of the terrorist groups in Aleppo and Idlib. Their function is to cooperate with the Aleppo Media Center (AMC) in the production of material which shows the White Helmets both as heroes and legitimate authorities on the Syrian conflict on the ground, and the Syrian and Russian governments as war criminals, deliberately targeting hospitals, schools, bakeries, animal shelters etc.
To that end, Mayday is generously funded by the UK, US and other governments, with offices in Amsterdam, Turkey, Jordan and Dubai. As at March 2016 its operational headquarters in Istanbul employs 30 staff, located in the operational centres of Istanbul, South-East Turkey, and has an annual operating budget of US$35,000,000.
Founder James le Mesurier, according to Mayday, “has spent 20 years working in fragile states as a United Nations staff member, a consultant for private companies and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and as a British Army Officer…Since 2012, James has been working on the Syria crisis where he started the Syrian White Helmets programme in March 2013. In 2014, he founded Mayday Rescue.” (Citation: Barbara McKenzie).
Incostrat was founded by Paul Tilley, who has a similar background to le Mesurier, with experience of both the army and the Foreign Office. His CV on LinkedIn reveals the following:
“2011-12 Director of Strategic Communication (STRATCOM) in the Ministry of Defence for the Middle East and North Africa.
2012-current. Developed and Project managed several multi-million dollar media and communications projects that are at the leading edge of UK and US foreign and security policy objectives in the Middle East.”
Both Incostrat and Mayday Rescue were formally founded in November 2014, according to the LinkedIn profiles of their respective founders, but le Mesurier and Tilley were doing development work 2013 or earlier. The White Helmets first officially appeared on the scene in April 2014, when the BBC assisted in the launching of the brand by producing a documentary on ‘Civil Defence’ in Aleppo, which coincided with the White Helmets appearance on social media.
Incostrat is described by Thierry Meyssen as “a communications company in the service of the jihadist groups. It designed logos, made video clips by portable telephone, and printed brochures for a hundred of these groups, thus giving the impression of a popular uprising against the Republic.”
“Together with the SAS, [Incostrat] made a spectacle of the most important group, Jaysh al-Islam (Army of Islam). Saudi Arabia supplied the tanks which were delivered from Jordan. Uniforms were made in Spain and distributed to the jihadists for an officer promotion ceremony. All this was choreographed and filmed by professionals in order to give the impression that the army was organised like regular forces and was capable of rivaling with the Syrian Arab Army. The idea was planted that this really was a civil war, and yet the images only showed a few hundred extras, most of whom were foreigners.”(Citation: Barbara McKenzie).
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights
Founded in 2011, SOHR is a UK-based organisation that provides information on the Syrian conflicts to the world’s media. The “Observatory” is run from a terraced house in Coventry, England by Rami Abdulrahman, a three-term convicted criminal in Syria who left that country more than 10 years before the war started, and is openly opposed to the Syrian government.
The Observatory is almost certainly the brainchild of the Foreign Office:
“His funding comes from the European Union and “an unnamed European state,” most likely the UK as he has direct access to former Foreign Minister William Hague, who he has been documented meeting in person on multiple occasions at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London. […] it was the British government that first relocated Abdul Rahman to Coventry, England after he fled Syria over a decade ago because of his anti-government activities.” Beau Christensen, Propaganda spin cycle: ‘Syrian Observatory for Human Rights’ is funded by US and UK governments
Although the Observatory is manifestly biased, only showing the conflict from the perspective of the insurgents, and consistently showing the Syrian government in a bad light, the information provided is considered by the corporate media, the United Nations and trusted non-government organisations to be authoritative, and is widely quoted.
Clearly for real journalists, Abdulrahman is a useless, utterly compromised source of information who has every reason to twist reality to suit his admittedly politically-motivated agenda of overthrowing the Syrian government. However, for a propagandist, he is a goldmine. That is why despite the overt conflict of interests, the lack of credibility, the obvious disadvantage of being nearly 3,000 miles away from the alleged subject of his “observations,” the Western media still eagerly laps up his constant torrent of disinformation. (Tony Cartalucci, West’s Syrian Narrative Based on “Guy in British Apartment”) (Citation: Barbara McKenzie).
Integrated within the almost seamless relationship that exists between the executive of government and the kinds of players outlined above, is an increasingly consolidated corporate media who share with the military and political establishments’ mutual economic interests which war helps facilitate. As author Ed Jones points out, it’s the billionaires who own the press that set the agenda:
“Who owns the media shapes what stories are covered and how they are written about”, he said, adding that, “the UK media has a very concentrated ownership structure, with six billionaires owning and/or having a majority of voting shares in most of the national newspapers.”
|UK national paper(s)||Effective owner(s)||Info on owner||Newspaper’s political support
|Weekly readership (print & online combined, removing duplicates)|
|Daily Mail &
Mail on Sunday
|Lord Rothermere||Billionaire. Lives in France. Tax avoider.||Conservative||11,374,000|
|Metro||Lord Rothermere||See above.||No endorsement, but Conservatively aligned.||7,727,000|
|The Sun &
Sun on Sunday
|Rupert Murdoch||Billionaire. Lives in US. Tax avoider.||Conservative except in Scotland where SNP||9,550,000|
|The Times & Sunday Times||Rupert Murdoch||See above.||Conservative||3,810,000|
|Express & Sunday Express||Richard Desmond||Billionaire. Lives in UK. Tax avoider.||UKIP||3,521,000|
|Daily Star & Daily Star Sunday||Richard Desmond||See above.||No endorsement||2,405,000|
|Telegraph & Sunday Telegraph||David & Frederick Barclay||Billionaires. Live on private island under the jurisdiction of the tax haven Sark.||Conservative||5,142,000|
|London Evening Standard||Alexander & Evgeny Lebedev||Alexander is a billionaire or close to it, ex-KGB and lives in Russia. His son, Evgeny lives in UK.||Conservative||4,179,000|
|See above.||Conservative /Lib-Dem||1,710,000|
|Financial Times||Nikkei Inc.||Public Limited company.||Conservative / LibDem||2,200,000|
|Mirror & Sunday Mirror||Trinity Mirror plc||Public Limited Company.||Labour||6,216,000|
|Guardian & Observer||Scott Trust Ltd||Limited Company.||Labour||5,618,000|
|Daily Record & Sunday Mail||Trinity Mirror plc||Public limited company.||Labour||1,363,000|
|Table adapted from blog by Tom London. Figures from data released by the National Readership Survey (NRS) in Nov 2016, based on data from October 2015 – September 2016. Financial Times data from their website is PwC assured from November 2011 and is based on daily readership as weekly figures not public nor recorded by the NRS.|
Jones points to other related factors – the impact of corporate advertising, the domination of privately-educated white men, the politicisation of sources and the manipulation of the press by the intelligence services – that contribute towards the consolidation of these mutual interests.
Propaganda model and the inherent bias of the BBC
These factors are an implicit feature underlying Chomsky and Herman’s Propaganda Model which is comprised of five ‘filters’ or classes through which news media passes. These are: Ownership of the medium, Medium’s funding sources, Sourcing, Flak, Anti-communism and fear ideology. The theory posits that the way in which news is structured (through advertising,concentration of media ownership, government sourcing) creates an inherent conflict of interest which acts as propaganda for undemocratic forces.
The UKs national publicly-funded state broadcaster, the BBC, is an example of how claims of impartiality which are embedded in it’s Royal Charter – as illustrated by the Propaganda Model – are inherently compromised. According to the relevant section of the Charter (section 6), the public purpose of the BBC is to provide:
“impartial news and information to help people understand and engage with the world around them: the BBC should provide duly accurate and impartial news, current affairs and factual programming to build people’s understanding of all parts of the United Kingdom and of the wider world. Its content should be provided to the highest editorial standards. It should offer a range and depth of analysis and content not widely available from other United Kingdom news providers, using the highest calibre presenters and journalists, and championing freedom of expression, so that all audiences can engage fully with major local, regional, national, United Kingdom and global issues and participate in the democratic process, at all levels, as active and informed citizens.”
It’s the role of the BBC Trust “to deliver duly impartial news by the Royal Charter and Agreement and to treat controversial subjects with due impartiality.” However, even without examining the corporations published material, it’s clear that the state broadcaster’s claims of impartiality are compromised. This can be seen in relation to both the nature of their senior management appointments which are made by the government of the day, and by acts of cronyism of which there is clear evidence.
For instance, at the time of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, both the BBC chairman, Gavyn Davies and his director-general, Gregg Dyke, were supporters of, and donors to, Blair’s New Labour government. Davies’s wife ran Gordon Brown’s office; his children served as pageboy and bridesmaid at the Brown wedding. Tony Blair has stayed at Davies’s holiday home.
Consider too, the establishment links of the members of the BBC Trust. The Vice-Chair of the BBC Trust, Sir Roger Carr, is also Chairman of BAE Systems, one of the biggest suppliers of weapons of mass destruction that wreck countries like Syria. If any members of the general public, on ethical grounds, refuse to contribute to Carr’s huge salary via the BBC license fee, which they are compelled by law to pay, they risk a prison sentence.
Are the general public seriously expected to believe that the unrepresentative demographic composition of the trustees, as reflected in their relatively narrow educational and professional backgrounds, are independent of the government that appointed them and of the elite corporate and other vested interests which they are deeply embedded?
Meanwhile, the U.S spends hundreds of millions annually on outfits like RFE/RL in order to spread American values to the rest of the world in much the same way the BBC does in relation to its spreading of British values to a global market. Apparently propaganda is only ‘evil’ when the broadcaster of the official enemy engages in promoting it, even though the impact of such propaganda is far less destructive than the propaganda emanating from the BBC.
The default position of the British state broadcaster appears to be that the nature of the liberal-democratic state in which they are embedded is such it confers them with certain entitlements – one of which is an unwritten rule allowing them to be selective in terms of their reportage. Thus, ignoring ‘our’ criminality is deemed to be acceptable based on the premise that elected politicians serve the people, and that it is the task of journalism to support, not undermine democracy.
However, democracy is dependent on a fair and impartial media to keep it in check. The realization that corporate lobbying money is becoming increasingly concentrated within the executive arm of the state, results in the subversion of democracy and a lack of honest media scrutiny of its actions. This explains why the mainstream’s demonization of official enemies like Russia and Syria is a given. As Media Lens put it:
“As a rule of thumb, we can be sure that the demonization of official enemies is a key requirement of all [mainstream] journalists in [influential positions]….It is simply understood.”
This structural bias also explains why Barack Obama, for example, continues to be depicted by the BBC as an almost saintly figure, while in truth his record of bombing seven countries is indicative of a warmongering psychopath. In Britain, the notion that the BBC is a propaganda organ of the British state that promotes imperialist war, is widely regarded as being outside the boundaries of acceptable discourse. Lord Reith, founder of the BBC, however, was far more honest in his assessment of the corporation and its relationship to the establishment: “They know they can trust us not to be really impartial”, he said.
Robert Stuart’s meticulous work exposing the role correspondent Ian Pannell and cameraman, Darren Conway played in the fake BBC documentary Saving Syria’s Children, highlights the extent to which the corporation is prepared to go in order to vindicate Reith. Arguably, never before in the history of the BBC, has the production of ‘fake news’ as the prelude to attempting regime change, been more transparent.
The Saving Syria’s Children production team were assisted in the hoax by a willing cast of actors among whom was Dr Saleyha Ahsan, executive with Syrian ‘charity’ Hand in Hand – a propaganda front for the Syrian opposition (see above). Robert Stuart revealed that Ahsan, who claims to be an humanitarian, is in fact closely connected to ‘revolutionary’ elements opposed to president Assad’s rule.
Ahsan, who was the first female Muslim commissioned in the British army and whose previous role was to provide arms and logistics assistance to the Libyan rebels while based in Benghazi, removed photos from her Facebook page, in which she was shown smiling alongside anti-Assad armed Jihadist groups, after Stuart raised the issue in his twitter page articles.
The TV presenter and doctor has, according to Moeen Raoof, trained al-Qaida affiliates in the UK in the use of arms, battlefield first aid and running of British Islamist Jihadists travelling out to Syria in road convoys involving second-hand British ambulances. Prior to assisting and training these Islamist terrorists, Raoof claims Ahsan met in London with one of the lead negotiators on Libya in the UN Security Council, Reza Afshar, who contributed to the passing of UNSCR-1973 that led to NATO action during 2011. Afshar is also head of UK FCO with responsibility for Syria Policy.
Shortly after the meeting, Ahsan is said to have proceeded to Turkey where it is alleged she received several containers from Kenya. These containers, ostensibly medical equipment, operating theatre equipment, medicines and other related equipment, were packed with weapons. Once cleared, the containers were shipped out to the Turkey-Syria Border town of Gazientep and handed-over to rebels who used the weapons to hold on to towns, cities and regions.
The organizers of the much hyped “People’s Convoy”, led by Ahsan, which set off for the Turkish-Syrian border a week before Christmas, 2016, has been less than transparent about the convoy. On December 23, 2016 the Telegraph revealed the conviction of a terrorist sympathizer who had allegedly infiltrated another “aid convoy” in order to funnel cash to al-Qaida members.
One would think that the highly dubious credentials of Ahsan that both Raoof and Stuart exposed – which include her gun-running and Jihadist activities – would be cause for concern for not only the state broadcaster that prides itself on its supposed impartiality, but would also ring alarm bells for the security services. On the contrary, the former were only too willing to give publicity to the “People’s Convoy to Syria” that Ahsan partly led.
To his credit, Robert Stuart on March 29, 2014, filed a report to the Metropolitan Police regarding the activities of Ahsan in relation to Saving Syria’s Children and other contentious issues, but the authorities have so far failed to follow up on the report. It would appear that the establishment is content on arresting and convicting relatively small-fry Islamist terrorist instigators in order to divert the public’s attention away from the far more significant players.
Meanwhile, the deaths of innocent people that result from these actions by way of blow back is presumably a price the establishment regard as worth paying in order to ensure that their broader geopolitical objectives are achieved. A key part of the establishments modus operandi is to not only defend the human assets on their payroll, but to discredit their opponents.
BBCs demonization of RT and Russia
A crucial aspect of the propaganda system in relation to Syria is the media’s demonization of its key regional ally, Russia. One way the media manages to achieve this is by instilling fear in the UK population. For instance, on the same day the head of Britain’s M15, Andrew Parker, was interviewed in the Guardian about the Russian “threat” – subsequently reported uncritically on the BBC – the CIA-financed Henry Jackson Society unveiled their new Manual of Russophobia.
Having been exposed for their complicity for crimes committed by al-Qaida/Isis and their affiliates in Syria, the UK-US governments’ and their corporate media mouthpieces, in November, 2016, began to turn their attention towards targeting the messenger. This culminated in the approval on November 23 of a draft EU parliament resolution which equated the countering of both the Sputnik news agency and the RT TV channel with resistance to Isis/al-Qaida propaganda.
This transparent attempt at projecting the crimes of the perpetrator on to the messenger was, however, undermined less than three weeks later, after the Washington Post newspaper conceded that the information they released was unverified and that the attempt by the UN to implicate the Russian-based news networks regarding their supposed role in spreading fake news across the internet, lacked credibility.
Concomitant to the ‘reds under the bed’ scaremongering is the part played by the BBC. The corporations attempts at discrediting the broadcaster, RT (also known as Russia Today) is exemplified by the treatment meted out by one of the corporations leading political commentators, Andrew Neil. Post-satirist Victor Lewis-Smith remarked that Neil hosts three political programmes on the station, while acting as chairman of the company that runs the Spectator and Telegraph. It was Neil’s demonization of RT on the Daily Politics programme which ranks as one of the most overtly crude pieces of anti-Russian propaganda witnessed on British television.
Launched in October, 2014, the RT channel is accused by its critics as essentially being a Putin propaganda mouthpiece. However, writer Glenn Greenwald proffers a far more nuanced (and accurate) evaluation. Writing about an anti-RT campaign in March, 2015, Greenwald said:
“The most vocal among the anti-RT crowd – on the ground that it spreads lies and propaganda — such as Nick Cohen and Oliver Kamm — were also the most aggressive peddlers of the pro-U.K.-government conspiracy theories and lies that led to the Iraq War. That people like this, with their histories of pro-government propaganda, are the ones demanding punishment of RT for ‘bias’, tells you all you need to know about what is really at play here”.
It’s also worth noting that another of the prominent liberal ‘leftist’ anti-Russia-RT brigade is David “those [Iraqi] weapons had better be there” Aaranovitch of the Times whose role for decades on the BBC appears to be to support just about every opportunity to wage war.
Journalists and broadcasters like Aaranovitch, Kamm and Cohen who are critical of RT, nevertheless tend to overstate the channel’s influence. The reality is RT’s global reach is far less than the BBCs, whose World Service is essentially funded by the organization who founded it – the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Wag the dog: you provide the story and I’ll provide the war
The likelihood of defeat for the West in Syria has prompted rhetorical flourishes from mainstream reporters that have shifted from the surreal to the absurd. Sky News’ Dominic Waghorn, for instance, on December 13, 2016 referred to the defeated Western-Saudi backed Salafist head-chopper’s in Aleppo who began flooding into Syria in 2011-12, as a “popular uprising against the Assad regime.”
On the same day (December 13), commentator Brian Becker pointed out by quoting the UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC), a New York Times headline which described the liberation as “A Complete Meltdown of Humanity.”
The paper continued:
“Pro-government forces have re-taken the eastern neighborhood of the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo and have killed at least 82 civilians. On Monday the United Nations estimated what one officer called it a complete meltdown of humanity.”
That’s how the lead paragraph of one of the most famous newspapers in the world described the driving out by Syrian forces of Al-Qaida and their affiliates from eastern Aleppo.
With regards to the allegations, the UN Genera Secretary Ban-Ki Moon, had previously said the claims in the reports upon which they were made, were unverified. Nevertheless, the New York Times went ahead and published them anyway. It would, therefore, appear they were motivated to do so because the regime change objectives of their paymasters had, at the very least, been put on hold. As one commentator put it:
“Articles like that in the New York Times, express the frustrations and anger of those in Washington and elsewhere who are angry with the failure of the regime change agenda.”
In the second paragraph of the article, the paper quoted the UN Commissioner for Human Rights, a Jordanian Prince and US proxy. The Royal overseer of human rights violations in his own country, effectively stated – in Orwellian terms – that the liberation of Aleppo must not be allowed to succeed in the ISIS stronghold and capital of the Caliphate, Raqqa. The heading of this UN body by such a person, as Alexander Mercouris infers, clearly brings the legitimacy and credibility of the UNHRC into question:
“The UNHRC, as well as the elements of the UN Secretariat have over the last couple of years, aligned themselves very closely with the US regime change policy. This policy has been supported consistently, not just by the Western powers, but by other influential Arab middle eastern countries – specifically, Saudi Arabia and its friends. That influence has managed to tilt the impartiality of these bodies…and has made them side with a particular group of states as they have pursued this regime change agenda in the middle east. The corporate newspaper headlines are an expression of that…We are basically looking at a propaganda campaign. It is very sad to see these UN agencies supporting it.”
This propaganda campaign was a dealt a blow on December 20, 2016 after it was reported that the Egyptian police arrested five people for fabricating images in a factory in Cairo (likely to be replicated throughout the middle east) that would be passed off as scenes of suffering in Aleppo in order to mold public opinion. The suspects revealed that they had shot numerous scenes in Cairo that were intended to be spread on social media as if they were filmed from Aleppo.
The substantive issue of controversy is not that the fake images and the staging of suffering are being produced typical of the fog of war, but the fact that there is demand for them within the corridors of imperial power and their proxies whose shared vested interests are regime change.
Patrick Cockburn makes the point that many of the pictures and films allegedly coming out of Aleppo never show armed groups, even though a war zone is what is supposedly depicted. He points out that there is a lack of knowledge about the provenance of these images and that there is every chance they have been manipulated and are the work of professional PR companies and opposition media specialists funded by foreign governments.
Cockburn relates how a journalist of partly Syrian extraction in Beirut told him how he had been offered $17,000 a month to work for just such an opposition media PR project backed by the British government.
Such suspicions are not restricted to commentators on the left of the political spectrum. Peter Hitchens, on December 18, 2016, for example, wrote:
“In the past few days we have been bombarded with colourful reports of events in eastern Aleppo, written or transmitted by people in Beirut (180 miles away and in another country), or even London (2,105 miles away and in another world). There have, we are told, been massacres of women and children, people have been burned alive.
The sources for these reports are so-called ‘activists’. Who are they? As far as I know, there was not one single staff reporter for any Western news organisation in eastern Aleppo last week. Not one.
This is for the very good reason that they would have been kidnapped and probably murdered. The zone was ruled without mercy by heavily armed Osama Bin Laden sympathisers, who were bombarding the west of the city with powerful artillery (they frequently killed innocent civilians and struck hospitals, since you ask). That is why you never see pictures of armed males in eastern Aleppo, just beautifully composed photographs of handsome young unarmed men lifting wounded children from the rubble, with the light just right.
The women are all but invisible, segregated and shrouded in black, just as in the IS areas, as we saw when they let them out.
For reasons that I find it increasingly hard to understand or excuse, much of the British media refer to these Al Qaeda types coyly as ‘rebels’ (David Cameron used to call them ‘moderates’). But if they were in any other place in the world, including Birmingham or Belmarsh, they would call them extremists, jihadis, terrorists and fanatics. One of them, Abu Sakkar, famously cut out and sank his teeth into the heart of a fallen enemy, while his comrades cheered. This is a checked and verified fact, by the way.”
The main problem is not that these fake narratives and images are viewed on social media, but that they are promoted in the corporate mainstream media who garner them with an air of legitimacy. This is because the latter is the medium that is the most dominant in society. It is this issue of scale which is the overriding factor in determining public discourse.
Extraordinarily, German journalist Dr. Ulfkotte brought the lies of the mainstream out into the open by confessing live on public television that he was forced to publish the works of intelligence agents under his own name, adding that noncompliance with these orders would result in him losing his job. Sharing this information in front of millions of people (reminiscent of the film ‘Network’), Ulfkotte said:
“I’ve been a journalist for about 25 years, and I was educated to lie, to betray, and not to tell the truth to the public. But seeing right now within the last months how the German and American media tries to bring war to the people in Europe, to bring war to Russia — this is a point of no return and I’m going to stand up and say it is not right what I have done in the past, to manipulate people, to make propaganda against Russia, and it is not right what my colleagues do and have done in the past because they are bribed to betray the people, not only in Germany, all over Europe.”
From Vietnam onward, the masses have been led to war based on lies that have emanated, not from a marginal-based but dominant narrative shaped by the corporate media in order to ensure that the control and dissemination of information it abuses be protected. Television pictures of burning Vietnamese villages had to be censored so that in future wars journalists produced exactly the kind of material that was required by the state. The fake news mantra is a continuation of this process, emblematic of the way the elites vilify alternative narratives.
The potential dangers of fake news, in other words, stem from the increasing symbiotic relationship that exists between corporate media agencies and the nefarious actions of governments’, not from obvious conspiracy theory type websites. All Western mainstream journalists reporting on Syria – virtually without exception – have, according to former UK diplomat Craig Murray, been filing stories about what’s happening in East Aleppo sitting in hotel rooms in Dubai. This is because “the side they are supporting would regard them as infidels and kill them if they were to report an alternative, pro-Assad, narrative.”
Political-media elites express disappointment at the defeat of Al-Qaida
With the ancient city of Palmyra seemingly once again in the control of ISIS (as of December 14, 2016) following their earlier retreat – a move which the Russian Foreign Minister claimed was “orchestrated by the United States” – the warmongering elite expressed delight at the unfolding of events following their initial disappointment at the news of the liberation of Aleppo. In relation to the latter, for example, Labour’s Ben Bradshaw described events in Aleppo not as a liberation but as its fall which he exclaimed was a “tragedy”. Journalist Neil Clark on twitter highlights the dichotomy the defeat of terrorism in Syria represents for those who favour regime change:
“For years we were told Al-Qaeda was our No1 enemy. Now that AQ are defeated in Aleppo same pple are telling us its a disaster. How revealing.”
The dichotomy outlined by Clark’s tweet is expressed in the contradictory and hypocritical way the media has reported the comparable situation unfolding in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. In line with professor Stephen Cohen’s aphorism,”one person’s war crime is another person’s liberation”, the media described the situation in Mosul, not as an a slaughter of innocent civilians, but as a liberation by allied forces. Conversely, the barbarism of al-Qaida elements in Aleppo is depicted by the media as a latter day version of the French resistance.
Cohen describes the fog of war thus:
“Either we have witnessed the liberation of Aleppo, and then we would say this is a good thing, or we’re witnessing war crimes by the Russians and the Syrians in Aleppo, which is a bad thing. So, in the absence of Russian actions in Aleppo what was the alternative to setting the people of Aleppo free?.
“There are verifiable reports that jihadists in Mosul are fleeing, because of the Iraqi-American war there…Where are they going? They’re going to Syria. The United States has bombers in that area. They could stop these people from going to Syria. They’re headed, I would guess, toward Palmyra. Why is the United States allowing these jihadists, these terrorists, to go to Syria? Because, possibly, they want them to take back Palmyra from the Russians and the Syrians. The American role is highly suspect.”
“Putin said we have a choice: Who do we want in Damascus, the capital of Syria? Do we want Assad, the president of Syria, or do we want the Islamic State in Damascus? This was the key policy difference between the United States and Russia. The Obama administration had pursued, in fact, a policy of overthrowing Assad. Dealing with terrorists in Syria, some of whom we’ve funded because they claimed to be anti-Assad, meant that, in fact, as we pursued the war against Assad, the Islamic State turned—took more and more territory.”
In another moment of rare truth-telling, Cohen added:
“Russia decided it had had enough, because it believed Syria was vital to its national security, and it intervened, and the war has been turned around. The United States has been on the wrong side of history from the beginning of this. The United States has made its contribution, since Vietnam, at least, to the destruction of hospitals and civilian facilities, most recently in Afghanistan.”
This contradictions outlined by Cohen were clearly highlighted when, on December 5, 2016, the so-called Syrian opposition attacked a Russian mobile military hospital in Aleppo that killed two Russian military medics and wounded one other.
Commentator John Wight made the point that:
“History will not be kind to those who have propagated the lie that something approximating to a democratic revolution has been underway in Syria. On the contrary, the country and its people have suffered the depredations of an Islamic Khmer Rouge, intent on ‘purifying’ a multicultural and multi-religious society of minority communities that are able to trace their existence in this part of the world back over a millennia and more.”
“The vast majority of Syrians, without whose support the government would have collapsed long before now, utterly reject the ideology of these extremists — thousands of non-Syrians who’ve descended on the country from across the Muslim world and beyond like a plague of locusts, have taken advantage of the destabilization of the region wrought by Washington and its allies in recent years.”
As was the case in Vietnam, it’s clear that the United States government is losing the propaganda war in Syria. This has been exacerbated by the revelation on December 16 that among the fighting forces captured by the Syrian Arab Army have been at least 14 members of NATO. If this allegation turns out to be true, it will almost certainly weaken the U.S negotiating position when Trump takes over the reigns.
The emergence of alternative narratives
As the liberation of Aleppo begins to spread throughout the country, so the media narrative will start to shift. As the regime change narrative of the corporate media has begun to recede in light of the failure of Al-Qaida in Aleppo, it has become noticeable that the fake Jihadist narrative regularly heard on daily news bulletins has increasingly started to give way to the hitherto untold voices of the mass of Syrians who are loyal to their president.
Previously, used as a propaganda weapon of war, the alternative stories, in particular of the children who have been silenced, are finally beginning to emerge from fog of war. In fact, the enthusiasm of the children to relay their version of events to journalists – despite the freezing temperatures and ruined buildings – has been palpable. One of the children, Fatima, a resident of the al-Shiar district, formerly controlled by militants, told Sputnik, that more than anything, she wished “for the suffering to end.”
Before the city was engulfed in battle, Fatima attended school with her friends, and dreamt of the future. But with the arrival of the terrorists, her dreams collapsed, her school turned into a pile of rubble. Sputnik also met Mahmud, a frail boy with hungry eyes, in another part of the city. Another boy, Fuad, 10 years old, told Sputnik’s correspondent that he has seen things impossible to imagine in a horror movie. During the occupation, militants forbade him and his classmates from going to the local school, which they turned into their headquarters.
They told Fuad and friends that their studies were pointless and that they would be better off joining the militants to free Syria. Fuad snickered at the word ‘free’ because the fighters did not allow people to leave their homes, where they slowly died from hunger. Sputnik also reported on 11 year old, Yushia. A bomb killed his father, and the family’s home was destroyed. He lives together with his mother and several other families in one of the ruined houses in his district, and roams the streets with his pet cat.
These and other stories reported in the Sputnik article which have for far too long been suppressed, will surely supplant the Bana narrative as the liberation in Syria proceeds. However, the path to complete freedom for the Syrian people is almost certainly going to be an uneven one in the coming weeks and months. Much will depend on whether president-elect Trump will live up to the conciliatory overtures that were a feature of what was often a contradictory election campaign.
Whatever the outcome, the Syrian resistance would be wise not to underestimate the extent to which those intent on pushing for regime change will go in their demonizing of the Syrian president and his allies by repeating the media’s lies by continuing to align themselves with the Islamic extremists. This was articulated to great affect by the Syrian ambassador at the UN:
(Thanks to John Delacour)
“The old world is dying and the new world struggles to be born; now is the time of monsters.” – Antonio Gramsci
With the Syrian-Arab Army (as of December 12, 2016) controlling 93 per cent of Aleppo, the full liberation of the east of the city has effectively been achieved. At the time of writing, a reported 78,000 civilians have already been evacuated, the liberation of vast swaths of Syria continues apace. This is the backdrop against which the Obama administration decided to lift restrictions on arming Syrian opposition groups on the provisions of the US Arms Export Control Act.
Publicly, the mantra emerging from the Obama camp in relation to the US strategy going forward, is an apparent intention to arm the Kurds ostensibly in order to rid Al-Qaida/ISIS from their stronghold in Raqqa. But the risk with this strategy is that the weapons will fall into the hands of the head-choppers. Nevertheless, the overriding objective of Washington’s rush for Raqqa is centred on the post-conflict scenario. The liberation of Raqqa by the coalition forces, in other words, will give the Americans a stake in Damascus.
To most rational observers it might appear strange that 4,000 ISIS fighters who re-took a large part of Palmyra were not picked up by US surveillance as the terrorists made their way across the desert. The obvious conclusion to be drawn, is that the Americans wanted them to take the city which fits into line with their regime change objectives. Indeed, this contradictory strategy, as Craig Murray pointed out is consistent to that adopted in relation to US policy in Afghanistan during the 1980s:
“The support for ISIS, Al-Nusra, Al-Qaida and other related groups is largely funded from Saudi Arabia but also from Qatar and Bahrain and other Gulf states – aided and abetted by the CIA and with British, American and Israeli arms supplies….It’s really quite extraordinary the mess the West has got itself into where it’s precisely the same mistakes they made with Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan where they were financing and training Islamic extremists as a proxy to fight against the Russians. We are doing exactly the same in Syria. But we know for certain that they will turn round and continue to attack us by way of blow back…The unverified stuff that’s been put out by the mainstream media is pure propaganda.”
With the Assad government controlling over 90 per cent of the populated areas of Syria, it stands a good chance of being able to mop up the remaining areas provided there is not too much terrorist interference and that arms supposedly being supplied to the Kurds isn’t another US deception. It is American wishful thinking that the Assad government will not be able to re-assert control of the country. But that is clearly not the imperialists aim in any case. Obama’s claim that the arms will be directed to the Kurds instead of the Jihadi terrorists will almost certainly be proven to be one lie among many the British and American people have been fed. This is certainly the view of the former UK ambassador to Syria, Peter Ford:
“From the outset, the big lie was that Assad’s demise was imminent. Then they were told he was going to be gone by Christmas, 2016….Then there was the big lie about the so-called moderates. Now we have the big lie about Assad not being able to control the country…It must also be remembered that former Conservative MP, Stephen O’Brien, who was parachuted into a top position in the US, was saying only days ago that the people of Aleppo faced possible extermination.”
War is not meant to be won, it is meant to be continuous
The lies represent part of a broader illusion indicative of which is the notion the Wests motives are benign and that what is sought in the region is a genuine peace. For example, in relation to Iraq, the duplicitous role the NATO alliance played with regards to doing everything they could to obstruct a peaceful resolution in the country is overwhelming.
The same can be said of Libya. According to the text of UNSCR 1973 the aim was to facilitate dialogue to “lead to the political reforms necessary to find a peaceful and sustainable solution” It also excluded a “foreign occupation force of any form.” However, the notion that UNSCR 1973 was used to assist in “facilitating dialogue” was rendered absurd by the subsequent rejection by the West of proposals put forward by the African Union (AU).
Seumas Milne observed:
“If stopping the killing had been the real aim, NATO states would have backed a ceasefire and a negotiated settlement, rather than repeatedly vetoing both.”
As in Iraq, a negotiated settlement – peace that could have averted a bloodbath – was an obstacle to be avoided, not a goal. Why? While the UN mandate referred specifically to the protection of civilians under threat of attack, the Guardian’s Richard Norton-Taylor commented, “it was quite clear from the start that regime change was the objective.”
Former UK ambassador, Craig Murray, commented: “NATO action in Libya went way beyond what the Security Council had actually authorised, which was a no fly zone to protect civilians, a ceasefire, and negotiations between the parties.”
It was NATO’s political support for violent resistance in Libya, its air campaign in support of anti-Gaddafi forces, its flat rejection of all ceasefire and peace proposals, and its demand that Gaddafi “step down”, that created the conditions for civil war and, as planned, regime change.
The same powers are pursuing the same strategy and result in Syria. This became evident the moment the imperial powers rejected the six-point Annan peace plan that was accepted on 27 March, 2012 by Bashar-al-Assad.
Following the breaking by the US of the September, 2016 ceasefire, in addition to the numerous acts of barbarity that have been filmed or photographed and then published on you tube by the Western-backed head chopping Salafist fanatics, the danger that the Syrian people face the possibility of mass murder remains. The only moderates involved in the conflict are the non-sectarian Syrian Arab Army who are protecting homes, families and communities from what is tantamount to a ‘year zero’ policy of their adversaries.
The conflict is about sectarian psychopaths fighting non-sectarian government forces for control of Syrian territory and the legitimacy of the latter to fight back in order to defend the ability of the Assad government to maintain its status as a pluralistic state by protecting the rights of its population under international law. This includes the right of its minority communities to be able to continue to live under a non-sectarian umbrella and to ensure the civil liberties of these people are upheld and protected.
Final imperialist spasm
The actions and mentality of those within the Western corridors of power who are attempting to undermine these protected rights, is what Peter Ford described as being illustrative of “a final imperialist spasm”. Ford said that “independent regimes like the Syrian regime stick in the craw of these imperialists who masquerade as liberals.”
The Telegraph headline below is indicative of this kind of collective imperialist mindset that exists within the corporate media bubble. As commentator Ben Norton put it: “Western elites still talk about the Middle East as they did in the 19th century – as their property, over which they and only they should rule.”
With the lame-duck president Obama sidelined during the negotiations of the latest evacuation phase of civilians (as of December 19, 2016), the mainstream media – aided by social media propagandists – have turned towards demonizing Iran by suggesting, without evidence, that the country’s militia’s have been involved in the logistics and fighting. In addition, Russia’s alleged hacking of e mails that are not only preposterous but also illogical are, in reality, linked to the ceasefire negotiations brokered without the US that came into force on December 29, 2016. The media subsequently reported Obama’s expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats as if his decision to do so was based on this unsubstantiated and preposterous claim.
What both incidences highlight are the oppositions desperate attempts to salvage Syria for the empire before they hit the buffers. Whether the imperial powers, in light of their abject failure to demonize Russia in the eyes of the public, decide to invoke the R2P doctrine, outlined above, by going to the UN General Assembly in one final attempt to achieve their goal of regime change, remains to be seen.
What is certain, is that the subtle, and no so subtle, examples of media propaganda described, as well as the numerous illustrations of censorship by omission and US-UK deceptions and lies, highlight the systematic corruption at the heart of the elite media and political establishment, and their consolidated attempts at securing yet another middle east resource grab. As Mark Doran on Twitter put it: “Our corrupt politics, our international crime, and our ‘free media’ form a seamless whole.” The defeat of the US-UK empire in Syria will represent the end of their hegemony in the region as a whole.