Tag: al qaeda

Putin calls Obama’s bluff

By Daniel Margrain

On the October 7 edition of Channel 4 News, anchor Jon Snow said of Russia’s firing of 26 cruise missiles on eleven targets in Syria from ships in the Caspian sea, as “a significant escalation in the Syrian crisis”. The reporter Jonathan Rugman belittled Putin’s attempt at cooperating with the American’s despite the fact that it was president Obama who denied the former the coordinates with which to target ISIS. Instead, Russia has reportedly attacked CIA backed rebels with the apparent aim of scuppering their hopes of toppling the Assad regime.

The context in which Russia has entered the conflict comes on the back of 3,731 coalition air strikes on Syria since August 2014, the deaths of an estimated 200,000 people in the four and a half years of the “civil war” and, as the Washington Post quoting US officials reported in June, the CIA have trained and equipped nearly 10,000 “rebel” terrorist fighters. According to Patrick Cockburn, half of the 22 million Syrians have been either displaced inside the country or are external refugees. Syria represents one of the last bastions of resistance to US power and its gateway to Iran.

The illegal US-led invasion and overthrow of the Saddam regime was the catalyst for the current wave of chaos from which Al-Qaeda and then ISIS emerged which, according to a recently declassified US intelligence report, written in August 2012, was a development the United States government welcomed.

The report also indicates that the US effectively welcomed the prospect of a “Salafist principality” in eastern Syria and an Al-Qaida-controlled Islamic state in Syria and Iraq. In stark contrast to western claims at the time, the Defense Intelligence Agency document identifies Al-Qaida in Iraq and fellow Salafists as the “major forces driving the insurgency in Syria” – and states that “western countries, the Gulf states and Turkey” were supporting the opposition’s efforts to take control of eastern Syria. Raising the “possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality”,

The Pentagon report continues, “this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran)”. This is consistent with the charge that the initial violence in March 2011 (on the back of the Arab Spring) in the border city of Dara’a involved covert support to Islamic terrorists by Mossad and/or Western intelligence in which radical Salafist groups (supported by Israel) played a part. 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.”

This is not to say the US created Al-Qaeda- ISIS, but it has certainly exploited its existence against other forces in the region as part of a wider drive to maintain western hegemony. Moreover, the Gulf states are backing other groups in the Syrian war, such as the Nusra Front. These are the groups Russia is reportedly requesting coordinates for, but which the US is refusing. The US also supports Saudi Arabia’s military campaign against Iranian-backed Houthi forces in Yemen which over the last few days have killed hundreds of civilians.

Obama’s policy is as weak and muddled as Putin’s is strong and clear. Syrian’s understand that ISIS and it’s affiliates won’t be defeated by the same powers that brought them to Iraq which is why they want Russia to intervene to help regain some kind of control over a situation that long ago spun out of control. They understand that prior to Iraq there was relative stability in the region and therefore prefer Assad remaining in power than the chaos the west has brought.

Peace cannot return to Syria and Iraq until ISIS is defeated which, for it’s own narrow geopolitical and strategic interests, America has no intention of letting happen. Regardless, Putin seems intent on forcing the hand of his imperialist adversary.

At his news conference on Friday, Obama said, “in my discussions with President Putin, I was very clear that the only way to solve the problem in Syria is to have a political transition that is inclusive — that keeps the state intact, that keeps the military intact, that maintains cohesion, but that is inclusive — and the only way to accomplish that is for Mr. Assad to transition [out], because you cannot rehabilitate him in the eyes of Syrians. This is not a judgment I’m making; it is a judgment that the overwhelming majority of Syrians make.”

But Obama did not explain how he knew what “the overwhelming majority of Syrians” want. Many Syrians – especially the Christians, Alawites, Shiites and secular Sunnis – appear to see Assad and his military as their protectors, the last bulwark against the horror of a victory by the Islamic State or Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front, which is a major player in the so-called “Army of Conquest,” as both groups make major gains across Syria.

Obama’s inaction against the terrorists he effectively supports as part of what is now widely accepted as a policy of regime change in Syria, has been exposed by Putin for what it is. Obama adopted a similar approach toward Libya which is now a failed state. Putin’s decisive intervention in Syria is the third time he has wrong-footed Obama – the first when he called him out over the veto with regards to UN resolution 1973 in relation to Libya, and the second was his overstepping of Obama’s ‘red line’ in respect to the unproven Assad-chemical weapons allegations.

Liberal Democratic Drone Assassins

Channel 4s Jonathan Rugman Sets The Tone For More War

Sirte-destroyed-1

It would appear that the failed Western interventions predicated on packs of lies that have resulted in widespread chaos and hundreds of thousands of deaths in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya with many more displaced and turning up on the shores of Europe, is not enough for harbingers of democracy and freedom and their media echo chambers’.

Since Nato’s illegal “humanitarian intervention” which resulted in the overthrow of Muammar Gaddaffi, thousands of prisoners have been held without trial in government jails, and torture and brutality have become rife. In fact, torture, bombings and assassinations are now par for the course in Libya, as described here.

Similarly, In Iraq, where prior to the allied invasion and occupation, Al Qaeda had no presence, the country is currently awash with the medieval savages known as ISIS and where sectarian violence is commonplace. In a single day in 2013, thirteen bombs were detonated in Baghdad killing at least 47 people. This is the context in which thousands of academics have been forced to leave the country.

Despite all of this carnage and human misery, the Pew Research Journalism Project finds that ‘the No. 1 message’ on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News, and Al Jazeera, was “that the U S government should get involved in the conflict” in Syria. No surprise, then, that much of UK journalism had decided that the current Official Enemy was responsible for the chemical attacks in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta almost two years to the day.

This was long before the UN published the evidence in its report on “the alleged use of chemical weapons in the Ghouta area” on September 16 of that year. The UN did not blame the Syrian president, Assad, for the attack, but in truth expressed “grave doubts”, despite pre-emptied media claims to the contrary.

Just one day after the attacks, for example, 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”. The media’s response to the May 2012 massacre in Houla, similarly blamed it on Assad.

By not sticking to the script, Reuters was one of the few outlets who actually relayed the truth. On September 7, 2013 it reported:

“No direct link to President Bashar al-Assad or his inner circle has been publicly demonstrated, and some U.S. sources say intelligence experts are not sure whether the Syrian leader knew of the attack before it was launched or was only informed about it afterward.

“While U.S. officials say Assad is responsible for the chemical weapons strike even if he did not directly order it, they have not been able to fully describe a chain of command for the August 21 attack in the Ghouta area east of the Syrian capital.”

The lack of evidence of Assad’s culpability didn’t prevent US president Obama from regurgitating the media line by unequivocally pinning the blame on Assad for the chemical attack. Following Obama’s earlier warnings that any use of chemical weapons would cross a “red line”, he then declared on September 10, 2013:

“Assad’s government gassed to death over a thousand people …We know the Assad regime was responsible … And that is why, after careful deliberation, I determined that it is in the national security interests of the United States to respond to the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons through a targeted military strike.”

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Seymour Hersh saw through the lies and accused Obama of deceiving the world in making a cynical case for war. In response to pressure from an informed public who also saw through the deceptions, British MPs voted in parliament against war and Obama subsequently backed down.

Award-winning investigative journalist Gareth Porter shows that:

[T]he Syria chemical warfare intelligence summary released by the Barack Obama administration August 30 did not represent an intelligence community assessment, [but appears to be] more politicised than the flawed 2002 Iraq WMD estimate that the George W Bush administration cited as part of the justification for the invasion of Iraq.

Two years down the line and the unsubstantiated media claims keep coming. A Channel 4 News report (August 26) by foreign affairs correspondent, Jonathan Rugman, showed what appeared to be the aftermath of what he described as “air attacks by the Assad government….that have killed scores of people” allegedly committed on August 23, once again, in Ghouta. Amid scenes of widespread destruction and panic, civilians were filmed carrying blood soaked dead or injured bodies from the rubble.

It’s my view that the public are once again being softened up for yet more military intervention in another sovereign nation, this time, Syria which UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon pointed out, would clearly be illegal. What people appear to be questioning in ever increasing numbers, since the Iraq debacle, is the nature of war and the role the imperialist powers like Britain and America play in these wars.

These debates have taken on a new sense of rigorous critique since Iraq resulting, for example, in the rejection by the British parliament of Obama’s red line. In America, congressional voting has unleashed a swarm of debates such as why should the US be the world’s policeman and what exactly are “US interests” in another country’s sectarian civil war?

People are increasingly beginning to understand that foreign military interventions in places like Syria and Iraq exacerbate ethnic and tribal sectarian based conflicts and that the only feasible option in resolving what has in effect become an international conflict, is discussion and diplomacy. People are less likely to believe their governments’ and their media echo chambers’ when they make unsubstantiated claims about reasons for a war.