Tag: War is not meant to be won

How the West set out to destroy Syria

By Daniel Margrain

Pro-Assad demonstration

Largely unreported in the corporate media is that Bashar-al-Assad’s secular government won the first contested presidential election in Ba’athist Syria’s history on July 16, 2014. The election was regarded by international observers as open, fair and transparent. American Peace Council delegate, Joe Jamison, who was allowed unhindered travel throughout Syria, stated:

“By contrast to the medieval Wahhabist ideology, Syria promotes a socially inclusive and pluralistic form of Islam. We [the USPC] met these people. They are humane and democratically minded…. “The [Syrian] government is popular and recognized as being legitimate by the UN. 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.”

Jamison added:

“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. 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.”

Analyst Stephen Gowans outlined that in early 2011, reporters from Time and the New York Times acknowledged that Assad commanded broad popular support and that the Syrian people exhibited little interest in protest.

Time’s Rania Abouzeid, for example, contended:

“Even critics concede that Assad is popular and considered close to the country’s huge youth cohort, both emotionally, ideologically and, of course, chronologically. 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, has legitimacy. The Time correspondent added that Assad’s “driving himself to the Umayyad Mosque in February to take part in prayers to mark the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, and strolling through the crowded Souq Al-Hamidiyah marketplace with a low security profile” had “helped to endear him, personally, to the public.”

This wouldn’t be possible if Assad was regarded by the Syrian people to be a dictator.

Overthrowing Assad by violent means

The notion that the United States government, its allies and proxies, want to see Syria’s pluralistic state under Assad destroyed, is not a secret. Indeed, the claim by Israel’s defence minister, Avigdor Lieberman, that Assad’s removal is the empires “ultimate goal”, is consistent with the notion that the aim of the U.S government is to stymie the non-violent opposition inside Syria.

Washington has been engaged in this latest phase of its long-standing strategy to depose Assad since early 2012 after it helped scupper Kofi Annan’s six point peace plan. Contrary to Western media propaganda, president Assad’s battle is not with his own people, but against outside mercenary forces and terror organisations who have, as commentator Dan Glazebrook noted, funded the Free Syrian Army and bribed government forces to defect.

Professor Jeffrey Sachs from the University of Columbia said:

“The CIA and Saudi Arabia together in covert operations tried to overthrow Assad….We started a [covert proxy] war (Operation Timber Sycamore) – a major war effort shrouded in secrecy [that was] never debated in Congress and never explained to the American people, signed by president Obama.”

Commentator John Wight added:

“Thousands of non-Syrians… descended on the country from across the Muslim world and beyond like a plague of locusts. [They took] advantage of the destabilization of the region wrought by Washington and its allies….”

The numbers highlighted below support this thesis:

Source Maytham

Dr Declan Hayes, who for many years has been living 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.

Hayes continued:

“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.”

Independent journalist, Vanessa Beeley, who spoke with civilians on the ground in east Aleppo as it was being liberated from Western-supported jihadist ‘rebels’, emphasized what she described as the universal “sheer jubilation and celebration at their liberation by the Syrian-Arab Army and the Syrian government.”

These kinds of testimonies have been totally absent from the corporate media and contradict the “Assad is a tyrant” narrative.

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 roots of Syria’s destruction

There is disagreement among academics as to the cause of Syria’s destabilization. However, there is general agreement that on 17 March, 2011, rioting occurred at the Syria-Jordan border town of Daraa involving hundreds of people. The rioting was guided by a largely Islamist agenda. It wasn’t a mass uprising typical of the Arab Spring.

A review of press reports in the weeks immediately preceding and following the riots, offers no indication that Syria was in the grip of a revolutionary struggle – a narrative consistent with the indifference shown to the “Day of Rage” on February 4 and 5, 2011 that preceded it. The ‘protests’ “fizzled,” said Time.

The magazine reported that two jihadist groups which would later play leading roles in the insurgency, Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham, were already in operation on the eve of the riots, while three months earlier, leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood voiced their hope for a civil revolt in Syria.

The Muslim Brothers, who decades earlier declared a blood feud with Syria’s ruling Ba’athist Party and objected violently to the party’s secularism, had been embroiled in a life and death struggle with secular Arab nationalists since the 1960s, and had engaged in street battles with Ba’athist partisans from the late 1940s.

In response to the violent attacks by hundreds of jihadists against police officers and the setting alight of government buildings, president Assad conceded to many of the Islamists demands. This included releasing their comrades from state prisons. The U.S State Department had acknowledged that political Islam was the main opposition in Syria and that jihadists made up the principal section of opposition groups likely to be incarcerated.

Stephen Gowans drew comparisons with the West:

“Clerics demanding that Damascus release all political prisoners was equal in effect to the Islamic State demanding that Washington, Paris, and London release all Islamists detained in US, French and British prisons on terrorism charges.

Crucially, Gowans added:

“This wasn’t a demand for jobs and greater democracy, but a demand for the release from prison of activists inspired by the goal of bringing about an Islamic state in Syria. The call to lift the emergency law, similarly, appeared to have little to do with fostering democracy and more to do with expanding the room for jihadists and their collaborators to organize opposition to the secular state.”

Writing shortly after the events at Daraa, professor Michel Chossudovsky noted that the violence and burning of government buildings by jihadists:

“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.”

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.

Assad’s mass support

Clearly, the outbreak of violence in Daraa, undertaken by less than a thousand jihadists in support of their imprisoned comrades, was not representative of the will of the mass of the Syrian people. Indeed, the subsequent pro-government rally in the capital twelve days after the Western fomented violence in Daraa which can be viewed here, is indicative of widespread support for Assad. The rally far exceeded in number the hundreds of protesters who turned out in the Syria-Jordan border town to burn buildings and cars and clash with police.

Despite this, the rally was portrayed in the Western corporate 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”.

That the major forces driving the insurgency in the country were Islamist factions backed by the U.S, Britain, Saudi Arabia, France, Israel and others, was quietly dropped. In 2012, a Pentagon document obtained by Judicial Watch confirmed that jihadist terrorist groups that include ISIS – who burned down churches and massacred the world’s oldest Christian communities – were the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria.

Break-up of Syria

The rationale that lay behind the insurgency, is 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 backdrop 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.

Boost to profits

The prospect of a lengthy war against Syria provides a boost to the profits of the arms and weapons companies. Major U.S 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.

Author, journalist and film-maker, Charles Glass, contended that in order 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, U.S tax payers’ money had been “used to fund terrorist groups from the very beginning.”

Corroborated by Wikileak cables, Glass continued:

“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.”

War is not meant to be won, it is meant to be continuous

The openly stated positions of the imperial powers in resource-rich parts of the world completely refutes the notion that the actions of these powers are benign. It is clear that continuous war that boosts the profits of arms companies is preferred to a genuine and lasting peace.

Western powers and their regional middle east allies view the suffering of innocent people at the hands of Islamist fundamentalists and other proxies, who they arm and fund, as a price worth paying in order that their geopolitical and economic regime change goals are maintained.

The right of Syria’s minority communities to be able to continue to live under a non-sectarian umbrella, protected under international law, and to ensure their civil liberties are upheld and protected, is not a priority for the imperial powers.

Many of my articles can be seen in Renegade Inc.

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Are the ‘liberal’ media betraying the people of the middle east?

By Daniel Margrain

 

Fake images about Aleppo circulate on social media

In this article I will argue that the corporate mainstream media uncritically promulgate regime change narratives in the middle east that coincide with the interests of Western imperial power whose latest goal is the removal of president Bashar- al-Assad from power. As with Iraq, this goal preceded the stated justifications which were retrofitted to an act of aggression.

In 2011, Time reporter, Rania Abouzeid, announced the March 4 and 5, “Day of Rage” against the Syrian president, which was intended as an invocation to the masses in Syria to rise up against their “brutal dictator”. However,  the planned action ended up a complete failure.

At this stage, the empire pinned its hopes on the fact that the culmination of eight years of crippling U.S-led economic sanctions would be sufficient enough a catalyst for mass protests against the Assad government. However, the said sanctions had the reverse affect. On the March 29, 2011, tens of thousands of Syrians gathered at Central Bank Square in Damascus in support of their president.

Nevertheless, the pro-government rally was inaccurately portrayed in the Western media as an anti-government demonstration. The Guardian, for instance, reported the rally, not as a celebration, but as a “military crackdown [by the state] against civilians.”

A year later, on March 27, 2012, president Assad accepted in good faith the six-point Annan peace plan which was ostensibly intended to secure a diplomatic solution to end the growing violence in the country that escalated on March 17, 2011 in the Syrian-Jordanian town of Daraa.

The mainstream media collectively failed in their duty to report the fact the imperial powers reneged on their obligations. To my knowledge, not a single prominent journalist brought to the public’s attention that the U.S and its allies broke their “crystal-cut commitment” to stop aiding rebel fighters which was an integral part of the agreement between the respective parties.

The jihadists continued to rain shells down on the cities of Hama and Homs despite Syria’s commitment that it would abide by the terms of the ceasefire on the condition that the West stop arming the rebels.

That the Western imperial powers have shown no intention of reaching a genuine peaceful outcome to the regional mess they instigated, has never been the preferred media narrative. In Iraq, for example, the evidence that NATO did everything they could to obstruct a peaceful resolution in the country is overwhelming but, to my knowledge, has not been reported as such.

The same can be said of Libya. According to the text of UNSCR 1973, the aim was to facilitate dialogue between the various factions in the country. But this was rendered absurd by the subsequent rejection by the West of proposals put forward by the African Union.

So why wasn’t this reported?

A rare voice of dissent was Seumas Milne who 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.”

This is not a theoretical point. NATO flatly rejected all ceasefire and peace proposals in Libya and demanded that Gaddafi “step down” in much the same way they demanded it of Assad in Syria. The motives of the imperial powers and their proxies in the middle east are characterized as benign. But this is an illusion.

The fomenting of war and chaos in Iraq and Libya by the U.S and its allies, from which spawned al-Qaida and ISIS, are the same forces that are tearing Syria and, at the time of writing, Iran apart. Recent reports of widespread protests throughout the latter are the consequence of U.S economic sanctions of the kind used against Iraq and Syria. As journalist Nafeez Ahmed reported, the said protests were fomented by the U.S State Department.

Iran is being punished for fighting Western-backed jihadists and standing in the way of US-Israeli hegemony in the region. But it’s unlikely the public would be able to reach this conclusion by reading the so-called progressive liberal press.

The BBC Panorama documentary, Saving Syria’s Children, Channel 4 News, Up Close With the Rebels and The Caesar Torture Photos represent far more overt attempts at disorientating the public. The former, in particular, is arguably the greatest single piece of state-sanctioned propaganda to have been produced anywhere in the world.

By repeating the propaganda of Western governments, the media have consistently acted as stenographers. Examples include the Telegraph’s reaction to the Houla massacre of May 25, 2012 which cast Syria into the ‘civil war’ of the Wests making, and the widespread misrepresentation of the UN report into the Ghouta chemical attack of August 21, 2013.

One day after the attack, a Guardian editorial claimed there was not “much doubt” who was to blame for the incident, as it simultaneously assailed its readers with commentary on the West’s “responsibility to protect”.

Journalist Jonathan Freedland’s reaction in the Guardian to the alleged chemical attack on April 4, 2017 in the Syrian town of Khan Seikhoun, was a virtual carbon copy of the papers reaction to Ghouta almost four years previously.

Freedland wrote a day after the incident:

“We almost certainly know who did it. Every sign points to the regime of Bashar al-Assad.”

What these ‘signs’ are were not specified in the article.

Freedland’s rush to judgement, was similarly adopted by George Monbiot. On Twitter (April 7, 2017) the writer claimed:

“We can be 99% sure the chemical weapons attack came from Syrian govt.”

Three days later, media analysts Media Lens challenged Monbiot by citing the views of two former UN weapons inspectors, both of whom contradicted Monbiot’s assertion. “What do you know that Hans Blix and Scott Ritter don’t know?”, inquired the analysts. Monbiot failed to reply.

Conclusion

Corporate mainstream journalism is predicated on sustaining the illusion that ‘progressive’ writers fundamentally challenge the status quo. The reality is, if journalists in highly influential positions really posed a threat to established power, they wouldn’t be in the positions they are in.

As Upton Sinclair famously remarked:

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

Thus, highly paid corporate journalists are akin to gatekeepers. Their role is to manipulate public opinion in the service of power rather than to fundamentally challenge it.

One of the key signs of a healthy democracy is the extent to which both the state and corporate media encourage a genuine diversity of opinions and the conditions for alternative narratives to flourish. On both counts, the mainstream corporate media have failed not only the Syrian’s but the people of Iraq, Libya and Iran.

The inability of corporate journalists to report truthfully, is indicative of a structural and systematic media bias. Its highly concentrated nature has resulted in a sustained narrative of misinformation, deceptions and outright lies.

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