Syrian President Bashar Assad says Moscow deterred the West from launching a devastating country-wide air strike last month, and believes that Damascus has nearly won the seven-year war, despite continued US ‘interference.’ Read more.
On Thursday 10 May 2018, an unprecedented exchange of strikes happened between Israel and Syria. The monopoly media, as well as some “alternative” media like Russia Today, were quick to relay the Israeli army version, according to which the Zionist entity “retaliated” to an “Iranian attack by Revolutionary Guards’ Al-Quds Force” consisting of “twenty rockets” fired at Israeli positions in the occupied Golan, four of which were “intercepted by the Iron Dome” and the others “crashed into Syrian territory”, no damage being recorded in Israel. Israel has reportedly responded to this unprecedented “act of aggression” by a “large-scale operation” that would have destroyed “the entire Iranian infrastructure in Syria”, in order to deter the Islamic Republic from any stray impulse of future strikes.
This narrative takes for granted the postulates, data and myths of the Zionist entity’s propaganda – which imposes permanent military censorship on the Israeli media, exposing any offender to a prison sentence; and reading the international media, one might get the idea that, like American economic sanctions, this censorship is extraterritorial – but none of them can withstand scrutiny.
The aggressor is undoubtedly Israel, who carried out more than a hundred strikes against Syria since the beginning of the conflict. After Duma’s chemical stage attacks, this aggresion intensified with attacks on the Syrian T-4 base on April 9, which killed 7 Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Following the US announcement of withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, new Israeli strikes targeted Syrian positions on Tuesday (May 8) in the southern suburbs of Damascus, and Wednesday (May 9) in Quneitra, in the south of the country. Undeniably, Syria has only responded to yet another aggression, with a firmness that has shaken Israel and forced it out of the muteness to which it usually confines itself.
The Syrian – and not Iranian – response consisted of more than fifty – and not twenty – rockets against four sensitive Israeli military bases in the occupied Golan, which caused material damage and even casualties according to Al-Manar, Hezbollah’s media. These were not reported by the Israeli press because of the draconian military censorship forbidding mentioning Israel’s initial aggression, more than twenty rockets fired on Israel, the identification of their targets and any hint to the damage inflicted, in order to reassure the population inside and allow the vassal Western capitals to shout their sickening refrain of the sacrosanct-right-of-Israel-to-defend-itself. The Lebanese channel Al-Mayadeen specifically identified the military posts struck: 1) a military technical and electronic reconnaissance center; 2) border security and intelligence station 9900; 3) a military center for electronic jamming; 4) a military spy center for wireless and wired networks; 5) a transmission station; 6) an observatory of precision weapons unit ; 7) a combat heliport; 8) the headquarters of the Regional Military Command of Brigade 810; 9) the command center of the military battalion at Hermon; 10) winter headquarters of a special alpine unit. And as this channel has reported, even Israeli journalists and analysts have expressed doubts about this unconvincing version according to which these massive strikes, unprecedented since 1974 and therefore unexpected, would have proved harmless. Moreover, as Norman Finkelstein pointed out, nothing has changed for Israel’s wars in Gaza from 2008 to 2014 despite the deployment of the “Iron Dome”, only 5% of the – largely primitive – Hamas rockets being intercepted during “Protective Edge”; and one of the best missile defense specialists, Theodore Postol of MIT, has already revealed the chronic deficiencies of this system. It is unlikely that it was able to cope better with the much more sophisticated Russian, Chinese, and Iranian rocket launchers that Syria has.
The success of the Israeli strikes, which, according to Israeli War Minister Avigdor Lieberman, almost destroyed “all of Iran’s infrastructure in Syria”, is largely exaggerated: Russian military officials, whose radars have followed this fight in real time, announced that more than half of the 60 missiles fired by 28 Israeli F-15s and F-16s – as well as 10 ground-to-ground missiles – were intercepted. The Syrian army records 3 dead and 2 wounded, a radar station and ammunition depot destroyed and material damage to Syrian anti-aircraft defense units. The latter have already demonstrated their effectiveness against strikes from Tel Aviv, Washington, London and Paris, unlike the mythical “Iron Dome” whose main role is to reassure the Israeli population.
The very presence of Iranian military bases and/or large Iranian contingents in Syria is a fable. Iran has only a modest presence (essentially composed of military advisers, indeed from the body of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards), unlike Hezbollah or Russia. Robert Fisk points out that “an Israeli statement that the Iranians had missiles in Syria was surely made in concert with the Trump administration”, that the Iranian forces in Syria are “far fewer than the West imagines” and that all Israeli statements should be reported with the utmost circumspection. Any objective reporting on these events should resemble that of Robert Fisk: “The latest overnight Israeli air strikes, supposedly at Iranian forces in Syria after a supposed Iranian rocket attack on Israeli forces in Golan – and it’s important to use the “supposed” and not take all this at face value – must have been known to the Americans in advance.” Indeed, these so-called unexpected attacks had been announced for days by the Israeli army, which had already conducted a so-called “preemptive strike” – rather a provocation – on May 8.
The “red line” that this alleged Iranian presence would pose to Israel is belied by the fact that Tel Aviv has, since the beginning of the conflict, been steadily slowing the progress of the Syrian Arab Army and, using various pretexts (delivery of arms to Hezbollah, response to actual or suspected gunfire from the Golan Heights, etc.), assisting armed terrorist groups in any way possible: weapons, intelligence, airstrikes coordinated with ground offensives, medical care, etc. Israel, the only country in the world that officially does not fear anything (and indeed has nothing to fear) from ISIS, Al-Qaeda and the like, has seen the situation in Syria turn from a dream – see a myriad of terrorist groups tear down the only anti-Israeli Arab regime, back of the Resistance Axis, and bleed Hezbollah – into a nightmare – to face Hezbollah, Syrian and Iran forces more battle-hardened and powerful than ever, and allied with the Palestinian Resistance, Iraq and Yemen, as well as Russia –, is only continuing its destabilizing work under new pretexts, and more directly: Hassan Nasrallah, the Secretary General of Hezbollah, had announced that after the defeat of proxies in Syria, their sponsors could either give up or intervene more and more openly.
Iran, whose opposition to the racist and colonialist project of Israel has been a principle and even a dogma since the triumph of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, is not easily provoked into an ill-thought reaction, and has always preferred to act with patience for long-term objectives – let us remember its restraint after the massacre of Iranian diplomats in Afghanistan in 1998. The goal of Iran is not to carry out a simple reprisal operation to avenge his officers and soldiers deliberately (or accidentally, as was the case in Quneitra in January 2015) killed by Israel, but to work for the complete liberation of Palestine by putting an end to the illegitimate “Zionist regime”, just like the Apartheid regime in South Africa, which, by the way, collapsed after its military defeat in Angola and Namibia against Cuban mulattoes, then viewed with as much racism as Israeli Jewish supremacism considers Arabushim. As Hassan Nasrallah pointed out, Israel’s direct aggression against Iranian forces in Syria is a major turning point in the history of the Israeli-Arab – or rather, Israeli-Arab-Persian – conflict, and Israel must now get ready to confront the Iranian forces directly – whether in Syria, occupied Palestine or even elsewhere. Moreover, when the Iranian missiles enter the scene, they are launched from the territory of the Islamic Republic and with undeniable success, as shown by the strikes against ISIS at Deir-Ez-Zor on June 18, 2017, in retaliation for terrorist attacks in Tehran.
As we can see, the reality cannot be more different from the fable that has been propagated by the majority of the media. “Journalists” who tamely take over Israel’s talking points turn into IDF propaganda outlets and mere agents of Netanyahu’s “diplomacy of lies”. Israel is indeed constantly lying to the world – and, increasingly, to its own people. And when its reckless actions have disastrous repercussions, it publishes hasty and contradictory communiqués in which it presents itself both as a victim and as a hawkish punisher, while also claiming, through Lieberman and via Russia, to have no intention of stepping into an escalation and hoping things will stop there – proclaiming the success of its retaliatory strikes is also a way to say it does not want/need to go any further. The international media contented itself with repeating these statements immediately after the first attacks, without any critical distance. Rational actors like Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah – or Russia – are not in such a hurry to speak out and confirm or deny other’s claims, leaving their opponents getting entangled in their lies, and trusting in the primacy of the battlefield that becomes more favorable to them day by day. Moreover, the fact that a bitter setback for Israel, which literally reverses the strategic situation, is transformed into a military success by Zionist and Atlanticist propaganda, and combined with Israeli protests of non-belligerency, can only confirm the Resistance Axis in its choices.
Yoav Kish, a member of the Knesset quoted by Al-Manar, stressed that regardless of the author of the strikes and their results – that censorship forbade from mentioning –, it was a major shift in the history of the wars of Israel, which is being attacked from Syria. Indeed, the Golan military installations are now directly targeted as a result of Israeli aggressions, and not just the Israeli air force, which has already seen its finest – the F-16 – be shot down on February 10, 2018. The journalists and Israeli analysts also pointed out the psychological and economic repercussions of this incident, with more than 20,000 Golan settlers having had to hastily find their way back to the shelters in the middle of the night (how much will they be at the next escalation?), and the beginning of the summer period having been ushered in by a wave of hotel reservation deletions due to fears of a war between Israel and Iran. The Zionist entity, which unabashedly inflicts the greatest loss and damage to the Palestinians and its neighbors, is severely shaken by the slightest losses, unbearable for Israeli society.
The accusation against Iran is explained by essential factors (the inherent racism of Israeli society and its Prime Minister, who more willingly believe in a dangerousness of Persian Iran than in that of Arab Syria) and circumstantial – a refusal to assume the consequences of the suicidal policy of the Netanyahu government, which led him to a direct confrontation with the entire Resistance Axis, not to mention with Russia. And most importantly, Israel wants to capitalize on Trump’s withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal to advance its main obsession, much older than the Syrian crisis, namely Tehran’s ballistic program, which it wants the West to end with, exploiting the perennial nuclear pretext – let us remind that the manufacture, possession and use of nuclear weapons are unlawful in Islam according to Imam Khomeini and Ali Khamenei, supreme authorities in Iran. Netanyahu has made it clear that a war with Iran is inevitable, and that it would be better to happen now than later. Since 2005, he vainly strives for the United States to launch it for him, but no negotiation, sanction or aggression will ever deter Iran from its course. And just as the Israeli strikes on April 9, which were supposed to encourage Washington, London and Paris to conduct severe strikes on Syria, ended in a bitter failure, Israel only worsened its own situation yet again and finds itself alone in the face of the disastrous consequences of its actions, to the extent of the blind arrogance that triggered them.
What about Russia? Netanyahu’s presence in Moscow for the commemoration of the 73rd anniversary of the USSR’s victory against Nazism, and reports that Russia would not deliver the S-300s to Syria, must not mislead us. Russia has invested far too much in Syria to allow anyone – be it Washington, Tel Aviv, Riyadh, or Ankara – to reduce its efforts to nothing. Moscow said it would no longer tolerate Western strikes against Syria in case of a new chemical weapons masquerade, and that it is ready to provide Damascus not necessarily with the S-300 anti-aircraft system, but, according to Sergei Lavrov, with “whatever is required to help the Syrian army to deter aggression.” The current Syrian defense systems have already proven their worth – including the Pantsir, which is much more suited to the needs of the Syrian army – and allow us to envision the day when Israel loses its only advantage, namely air supremacy. That already was to no avail in 2006 against Hezbollah or 2014 against Gaza, without which its supposedly “invincible” ragtag army would literally crumble. Israel’s use of ground-to-ground missiles for the first time, and the concentration of attacks on Syrian anti-aircraft defenses – IDF released the video of the destruction of a Pantsir S-1 system, probably inactive – proves that it is well aware of its limitations.
It is obvious that Israeli aggressions against Syria will be increasingly costly, both for the Israeli air force and for its internal military bases and population, because of the determination of Syria and its allies (Hezbollah and Iran) to respond to any aggression, of their experience and new capabilities, and of their successes on the ground. The Resistance Axis – of which Russia is not a part – is now able to face Israel directly on its own, with a united front and without fear of escalation. As for Israel, already overwhelmed by the peaceful demonstrations in Gaza that must culminate on May 15, it is not ready for war against a single member of the Resistance Axis, let alone against several of them simultaneously. The new equation imposed by the Syrian army on May 10 is more fearsome for Israel than the prospect of the loss of another F-16, as Damascus has shown its determination to wage war on enemy territory, and to strike the Zionist entity in its depth.
The Resistance Axis will soon have its eyes fixed on the occupied Golan, that Syria has never given up liberating by armed struggle – a right conferred by international law itself, this territory being recognized as Syrian by all the international community: any Syrian operation there is a legal and legitimate act of resistance against Israel’s 1967 aggression in and subsequent occupation, even without further provocation. As early as May 2013, Hassan Nasrallah announced Hezbollah’s participation in the opening of a new frontline in Golan. In March 2017, the Golan Liberation Brigade was formed by Iraqi Hezbollah, Harakat al-Nujaba, a movement backed by Iran and involved in the liberation of Iraq and Syria from ISIS. Today, Syrian strikes in the occupied Golan unquestionably open up a new chapter in the history of the Israeli-Arab wars, in which Israel will increasingly be forced into a defensive position. Are we going to see the IDF building a wall on the border of the occupied Golan to hinder any future invasion, as is already the case on the Lebanese-Israeli border to prevent Hezbollah’s promised incursion into the Galilee? Anyway, the next war against Israel will drastically change the map of the Middle East.
The “West” is competing against the “East” on the Syrian battle-field, in conflicting news and analysis, and now also in the cultural and film arena. A new full-length action movie, titled Damascus Time, gives an Iranian perspective on the battle against ISIS in Syria.
The movie comes from Iranian screenwriter and film director Ebrahim Hatamikia. Two award winning Iranian actors, Hadi Hejazifar and Babak Hamidian, play father and son pilots trying to rescue civilians besieged and attacked by ISIS forces in eastern Syria. The pilots have come to help the townspeople escape in an aging Ilyushin cargo plane.
Syrian and Iraqi actors play Syrian civilians and ISIS terrorists hell bent on blowing up the plane or using it on a suicide mission against Damascus.
The movie portrays sensational scenes from real ISIS atrocities with a backdrop showing the Syrian desert and famous ruins of Palmyra. The city where civilians are surrounded and besieged is similar to the Syrian city of Deir Ezzor which was in real life surrounded and attacked by ISIS for years. During that time, the townspeople and soldiers depended on air dropped food and ammunition to hold off the attackers, as shown in the movie.
Damascus Time starkly portrays the violence and nihilism of ISIS. The ISIS individuals are shown to have human feelings, but they are wrapped in sectarianism and hate-filled violence.
Life’s complexities are portrayed in the Iranian pilots where the younger pilot has left his pregnant wife to be alongside his father. The mother-in-law of the young pilot bitterly criticizes him for leaving his wife. He says this will be his last trip away.
While the story is fictional, the portrayed setting, human drama and conflict between forces of moderation versus extremism and violence is real. Hundreds of thousands of real Syrians and Iraqis have died due to the creation and promotion of the Frankenstein monster represented by ISIS.
One of the ironies of modern history is that Western politicians criticize Iran for being the “leading state sponsor of terrorism.” In reality Iran has a record opposing sectarianism and extremism. Different faiths are respected within Iran, and Iranian Jews are represented within parliament, in contrast with Israeli propaganda.
In reality, it is the US and UK who have sponsored terrorism for decades. As documented in Devil’s Game: How the US Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam, the US and UK promoted a violent and sectarian wing of the Muslim Brotherhood to undermine the nationalist and socialist policies of Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt. Starting in 1979, the US and Saudi Arabia promoted the founders of Al Qaeda to attack the socialist leaning government of Afghanistan.
This policy has continued to the present. In the summer of 2012, the US Defense Intelligence Agency outlined their strategy in a secret document: “THERE IS THE POSSIBILITY OF ESTABLISHING A DECLARED OR UNDECLARED SALAFIST PRINCIPALITY IN EASTERN SYRIA (HASAKA AND DER ZOR).” The US looked favorably on the creation of the Islamic State: “THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT THE SUPPORTING POWERS TO THE OPPOSITION WANT, IN ORDER TO ISOLATE THE SYRIAN REGIME…”.
The true “state sponsor of terrorism” is not Iran; it is the West and their allies. Thus it is appropriate that the first feature length movie depicting the battle against terrorism and ISIS in Syria comes from Iran.
Iran has come to the assistance of Syria by supplying militias plus technical and military advisers. Hundreds of Iranians have given their lives alongside their Syrian and Iraqi comrades. Damascus Time is not the product of Hollywood fantasy; it’s the product of actual human drama and conflict occurring in the Middle East today.
The Iranian Foreign Minister and head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard were reportedly moved by the movie. Damascus Time is fictional but based on a real conflict with actual blood, atrocities, tragedies and martyrs.
The movie is currently being shown at movie theaters throughout Iran. In recent weeks it was the second highest ranking movie. It should be available for viewing in the West in the near future, unless western sanctions and censorship are extended to culture and film.
On April 9, 2018 at least 14 people were killed during the murderous strike by the Israeli air force on the Syrian T-4 airfield at Homs.
Israeli F-15 fighter jets flew over Lebanese airspace, as they have done on many previous occasions, in total disregard of international law.
Both Israel and Lebanon are still technically at war, and the latest action could easily be considered as yet another shameless provocation. Apparently, whatever terror Western allies like Saudi Arabia and Israel decide to spread throughout the region, their actions will always go unpunished.
To add insult to injury, instead of condemning Israel, the Western mass media outlets began their predictable and embarrassing servile howling against the government in Damascus, some ‘correspondents’ even calling President al-Assad an “animal” (The Sun, 9th April, 2018).
This time, Lebanon, which in the past suffered from several brutal Israeli invasions, and where Israel is commonly referred to as ‘Palestine’, decided not to protest too loudly against the violation of its airspace. There were some statements made by individual Lebanese politicians, as well as a statement by the Lebanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which objected to the attack against Syria, claiming that Lebanon will file a complaint to the UNSC. Most of the statements, however, appeared only in the Arabic language. There was definitely no robust national response, as one would have expected.
Ms. Zeinab Al-Saffar, an Iraqi educator and television anchor based in Beirut, Lebanon, shared her thoughts on the subject:
It is not the first time that this is happening. Israeli forces have been violating the airspace of Lebanon, as well as the land and sea belonging to Lebanon. Violation of the territory of Lebanon [by Israel] became something ‘regular’. What happened recently is a flagrant intrusion which should not go unanswered, as they were using Lebanese air space in order to attack the Syrian land. I believe this is the right time for the U.N. to do something more than just to make the reports and write numbers. This is an extremely serious situation; to use the territory of a neighboring country in order to attack a third nation; it is a barefaced crime.
Why do Lebanon’s protests not resonate louder?
There are several reasons. One: the country recently ‘secured’ an enormous package of mostly loans from the West, at a ‘Paris conference’, amounting to more than 11 billion dollars.
Two: A great percentage of the ‘elites’ of Lebanon is accustomed to taking orders from the West. The West is where their villas are, where their relatives live, and their permanent residency cards issued.
A much greater war may be nearing; both the U.S. and Europe are now attacking Syria directly. In this decisive time, the Lebanese rulers are opportunistically showing where their allegiances lie: not with the people of the devastated Middle East, but with Paris, London, Riyadh and Washington.
But back to the first point – to money. As reported by Reuters on April 6, 2018:
“The pledges include $10.2 billion in loans and $860 million in grants, France’s ambassador to Lebanon Bruno Foucher said on Twitter…”
Donors in turn want to see Lebanon commit to long-stalled reforms. In a nod to those demands, Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri pledged to reduce the deficit of the budget as a percentage of GDP by 5 percent in the coming five years.
Macron told Hariri in a news conference the aid aimed to give Lebanon a fresh start, adding that it put “an unprecedented responsibility” on authorities there to carry out reforms and preserve peace in the country.
“It is important to continue reforms in the coming months,” Macron said, adding: “We’ll be by your side.” …
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told the conference: “… Lebanon needs major reforms of its economy, structural and sectoral.””
‘Structural reforms’ is a key term. This shameful package of loans which will further tie the hands of Lebanon could insure the complacency of the country: both economic and political obedience at the time when the West is ready to unleash a new wave of its military onslaught in the region.
There is hardly any transparency in Lebanon, and therefore almost no guarantee that the loans will be used to improve the standard of living of the suffering population. Corruption in Lebanon is endemic – it is institutionalized – to the point that it is often not even called ‘corruption’ anymore.
Social services are almost non-existent. Here, the contrasts are truly appalling. Ferraris and Lamborghinis, as well as outrageously expensive sailing boats, co-exist side-by-side with absolute misery and lack of social services, such as, at least periodically, garbage collection.
Hezbollah, a movement which is on the so-called terrorist list of many Western countries, is often the only reliable source of social services in the country.
The West will now demand more and more neo-liberal ‘reforms’. Almost nothing social will be built. Funds will disappear into the deep pockets of the shameless Lebanese ‘elites’ and ‘leaders’. It will be the poor, who will be expected to service the loans, as the rich in Lebanon hardly pay taxes.
In exchange for their booty, many Lebanese politicians will be further obliged to follow the Western line towards the region, including the neo-liberal and increasingly neo-colonialist policy of Washington and France (Lebanon’s former colonial master) towards Syria and the rest of the region.
And across the border line, the war is still raging. Washington and London fulfilled their shameful promises to perform ‘punitive actions’; to ‘chastise Syria’ for something that was clearly invented/manufactured just in order to justify an invasion, destabilization and in the end, the destruction, of this small but strong and proud nation.
A Syrian intellectual, who lives in both Beirut and Damascus, offered his analyses for this article. However, he requested not to be identified by his name, afraid of repercussions from both Lebanon and the West:
The Israeli attack comes at a time when the Syrian army is winning its fight against terrorist groups in Damascus suburbs, and it could be read as an indirect answer to these wins. It is also a dangerous move since the T4 airbase is heavily involved in the fight against the remaining of ISIS in Syria. This attack is unacceptable aggression against a sovereign nation and it is a violation of international laws. It also shows that Israel is helping directly and indirectly various terrorists groups operating on the Syrian territory.
However, the commentaries that are being spread by the Western mainstream press are increasingly defying all logic. They are progressively turning out to be racist, supremacist. Well, actually now they are what they have always been earlier, throughout the centuries of European and then North American colonialism.
Just read The Guardian article from April 9th, 2018- “Israel has launched countless strikes in Syria. What’s new is Russia’s response”:
Israel has launched many previous strikes into Syria, mainly to protect its borders from a buildup of Iranian-backed Hezbollah forces and armaments on the Golan Heights. Israel, has not, as a rule, attacked al-Qaida or Islamic State positions in Syria.
On all previous occasions, Russia – which has controlled Syrian air space since it sent troops to defend the regime of Bashar al-Assad in 2015 – has turned a blind eye. There had been an understanding that Israeli interests in Syria would be preserved by Russia, primarily by limiting the presence of Iranian-backed troops in Syria’s south-west. The Israeli fear is that access to the Syrian side of the Golan Heights allows Hezbollah to launch attacks into Israel.
At least The Guardian does not pretend that it believes in the Western fabrications that President Assad is poisoning his own people…
But the article is clearly trying to justify and find logic behind the Israeli terrorist attacks against the independent nation.
‘Poor Israel – it is worried about ‘Hezbollah forces and armaments on the Golan Heights.’
But the Golan Heights is by international law an inseparable part of Syria. I repeat: by all international norms! Including, the United Nations Security Council UN Resolution 497. Golan Heights had been attacked, occupied and forcefully (and it looks like indefinitely) annexed by Israel, during the so-called ‘Six-Day War’ in 1981.
I visited the Golan Heights. I worked there, for several days, clandestinely, some 5 days ago. What I encountered there was true horror: ancient villages were totally destroyed, most of the original population deported from their land, Israeli-paid spies and provocateurs approaching and scrutinizing random visitors. All around – scattered rich Israeli agricultural enterprises protected by barbed wire and tall concrete walls. It all felt like working in Angola or Namibia, during the South African apartheid, or perhaps even worse; divided communities, stolen land, electric wire, and omnipresent fear and oppression.
But it is Israel which now has the right to ‘worry’ and to murder people in the name of its ‘security’. That is precisely what the tone of the Western mainstream periodicals clearly suggests.
Israel had stolen more than a thousand kilometers square of the Syrian territory in 1981, and now it is mercilessly bombing its victim; from Lebanese territory, in order to assure its ‘safety and security’. It is doing so from the territory of Lebanon, a country which was invaded by the Israeli military, on several occasions.
And the West is cheering.
Of course, Israel is acting with total impunity, because it enjoys both the support and encouragement from its allies: The United States, the U.K. and Macron’s France.
Lebanon is panicking. Its’ ‘elites’ are trying to both survive, and not to anger the West.
Syrians have, it often appears, nerves of steel.
They worry but are determined not to give one single inch of their land to the invaders.
My friend in Damascus wrote to me, just a few hours before I submitted this report:
People are worried and they constantly follow up the news. My brother asked us to go to Safita for one month, as it is safer there. I’m not sure if we do it, but we are closely monitoring the situation.
My colleagues and comrades on the ground in Syria are angry, very angry. They can clearly see through the lies, which are being spread by the West.
Israel is repeatedly bombing heroic Syria.
On April 29, 2018, the Israeli attacks killed 26 Syrians and Iranians, just before Midnight, near Hama and Aleppo.
The U.S. and Europe are bombing and threatening to cause even more damage.
But this is 2018, not those dark years when the West could murder and rape without any consequences. If these attacks continue, there will be a counterpunch: fully justified, determined and powerful.
Then even the tiny Lebanon would have to decide where it stands.
• First published by New Eastern Outlook – NEO
• Photos by Andre Vltchek
The Plot to Attack Iran gives a readable and well-referenced look at Western — especially US — abuse of Iran. The author and human rights lawyer Dan Kovalik presents a concise overview of US imperial conduct since World War II. The book is a reminder, which we need from time to time, of the outrageous hypocrisy and deceit of the US government and the corporate media. Kovalik also drives home that Washington’s foreign policy operations are not just a threat to other countries, but threaten the basic safety of the US people.
The US strove to crush any Iranian attempts to create their own development path for their country, particularly as oil became an important resource. The US has continuously sought to overthrow the government since the 1979 revolution. The book reviews the US-British coup against Iranian democracy in 1953 which installed the brutal Shah, who established the SAVAK torture network. The double standard of Jimmy “Human Rights” Carter, the struggle against the Shah’s murderous regime, the rise of Ayatollah Khomeini, the background to Iran-Contra, the US playing both sides against each other during Iraq’s war on Iran, the US relations with the Taliban, and the US-Saudi war on Yemen are all covered.
One aspect that could be added to the book is a summary of the social gains made by the Iranian people in the Islamic Republic, particularly under President Ahmadinejad (2005-2013), who instituted many anti-neoliberal programs which helped the poor. For instance, poverty had been reduced to one-eighth of what it was under the Shah, while health care is free for those who can’t pay.
Kovalik does note that in 1970 only 25% of Iranian women could read and write. By 2007 it was 80.3%, compared to 88.7% for men, and 90% percent of women are enrolled in school, free for all even through university. While about one-third of university students were women before 1979, now women make up 65 to 70% of the students. Women are legally entitled to ninety days maternity leave at two-thirds pay, have an entitlement to employer-provided child care centers, both gains which are denied women in the US. Iran has an equal pay for equal work requirement, also denied women here.
1953: US Overthrows Iranian Democracy
That Iran has an Islamic government which the United States and Israel abhor, is a direct result of the US coup against Prime Minister Mossadegh in 1953. The US’ subsequent support of the Shah made popular revolt inevitable, and when it broke out the US directly supported Islamists in Iran over the secular left.
Mossadegh had taken action to nationalize Iranian oil, then mostly under British control. Britain proceeded to sabotage Iran’s oil production and export, wrecking its economy. Mossadegh actually appealed to President Eisenhower to mediate and resolve the issue in a way Eisenhower saw fit. The US reply came in the form of a coup, which showed many of the tactics we have seen in recent color revolutions and regime change interventions, one of the most current being in Venezuela.
CIA agents bought off secular politicians, religious leaders and key military officers, newspaper editors, hired thugs to run rampant through the street, sometimes pretending to be Mossadegh supporters, sometimes calling for his overthrow, anything to create a chaotic political situation. Thousands of demonstrators, unwittingly under CIA manipulation, surged through the streets, looting shops, destroying pictures of the Shah, and ransacking the offices of royalist groups. The impression was that Iran was sliding towards anarchy.
The Shah then took power and for a quarter century established one of the most barbarous regimes in the world.
US Trains Shah’s Military and SAVAK Torturers
The CIA helped train the Iranian security services in torture techniques—techniques borrowed, as in the case of Pinochet’s Chile, from the experienced experts, the Nazis. Every year 350 SAVAK agents were taken to CIA training facilities in Virginia, where they learned interrogation and torture. Top SAVAK brass were trained through the US Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Public Safety Program. SAVAK created torture prisons that outdid Dante’s Hell. The CIA filmed techniques it had taught SAVAK to use and made them available to torture centers in other countries.
The most common SAVAK instrument was an electrically heated table called the ‘frying pan,’ on which the victim was tied down by his hands and feet. Many died on these tables. Often, the accused was already raving by the time he entered the torture chamber—few people could bear the screams they heard while they waited, nor the smell of burning flesh.
This “Made in the USA” product makes it clear why Iran calls the US “The Great Satan.”
Amnesty International stated in 1974, 20 years after the US-backed coup and US training of repressive forces, that no country had a worse human rights record than Iran under the Shah. Yet Jimmie Carter maintained weapons supplies to Iran, and the human rights situation got even worse.
In 1978, anti-Shah street protests in Tehran drew more than a million strong. The Shah’s army, trained by the US, killed 4,000 demonstrators in Tehran’s Jaleh Square on September 8 alone. Kovalik notes that if such a thing happened in Venezuela or Cuba, or in Iran in 2018, this would be cause for the United States to invade. There was an explosion of corporate media condemnation against China during the Tiananmen Square protests ten years later, where probably one-tenth the number were killed. But who knows of this Jaleh Square massacre – not the only one – outside of Iran? Yet Washington approved of it, continuing to back the Shah and his methods for another half year.
1980s: US Provides Iraq with Chemical Weapons for their War on Iran
Kovalik notes the flagrant hypocrisy of the West’s noise about chemical weapon attacks in Syria, repeatedly and without evidence blaming the Assad government. Not only did the West arm Saddam Hussein’s Iraq with chemical weapons, but it downplayed their massive use against Iranian troops and civilians. Kovalik reminds us of the US’ widespread and criminal use of chemical weapons in Korea, Vietnam, and more recently in Iraq in Fallujah and Mosul.
The US Department of Commerce and even the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) exported to Iraq items used for chemical weapons and nuclear weapons development. The US government approved 771 different export licenses of dual-use technology to Iraq. The CDC sent Iraq 14 separate agents “with biological warfare significance.” The CDC was not involved in controlling disease, but in spreading it.
For its part, Iran itself refused to use chemical weapons against Iraq, and also pronounced a fatwa in 2005 against developing nuclear weapons. The UN International Atomic Energy Agency determined in 2003 and 2007 that Iran did not intend to build a nuclear weapon. This was confirmed by sixteen US intelligence agencies.
The US armed Iran the same time it aided Iraq in its war on Iran and used $18 million from the $30 million in weapons sales to illegally fund the Nicaragua contra terrorists after Congress had cut off their aid. This became known as the Iran-Contra Scandal. Israel, with US consent, also sold Iran hundreds of millions of dollars of US-manufactured weapons during the Iraqi war on Iran. Later Washington funded the contras by directing them to import crack cocaine into the US, fueling a drug addiction epidemic.
Kovalik notes that “the United States is continuing this cruel policy of playing both sides against each other today by supporting, but also trying to contain, ISIS forces in order to molest and undermine both Syria and Iran.”
Incredibly the US without shame justified its 2003 war on Iraq with the claim that Saddam Hussein possessed “weapons of mass destruction,” in particular, banned chemical weapons, which the West had previously sold him. That was, as is said now, “fake news” because Hussein’s chemical weapons had been destroyed under UN supervision years before.
To heighten the hypocrisy, the US itself used chemical weapons (white phosphorus and depleted uranium) in its war on Iraq in 2003, causing spikes in cancer rates and birth defects in areas like Fallujah.
US Trains Taliban in Afghanistan
During this whole period the US had been increasingly intervening in Afganistan. It was instrumental in ousting the progressive secular government in Afghanistan by supporting Islamic extremist forces, the Mujahideen, which included Osama bin Laden. The US later aided the Taliban taking power, and backed them until 2001. Al Qaeda then turned on the United States and, among other things, carried out the 9/11 attacks against the United States.
Osama bin Laden was himself a Saudi, and, as we now know, Al Qaida has received much support over the years from Saudi Arabia, the United States’ long-time partner in crime in the Middle East and mortal enemy of Iran. Yet, while Iran cooperated with the US in fighting Al Qaeda and the Taliban after 9/11, and while Saudi Arabia financed the 9/11 attack more than any other country, the US has remained closely allied with Saudi Arabia against Iran.
In early 2001, the US pledged $124 million in aid to the Taliban. But when negotiations between the two worsened over an oil pipeline project, the US threatened to carpet bomb and invade Afghanistan — even prior to the September 11 attacks. Jane’s Defense Newsletter reported that in March 2001 Washington was planning an invasion.
Kovalik notes that in 2006 the FBI listed bin Laden on its “Most Wanted List,” but it did not include the 9/11 attacks as a basis for this listing. The FBI chief of investigative publicity stated, “The reason why 9/11 is not mentioned on Osama bin Laden’s Most Wanted page is because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting bin Laden to 9/11.”
While ruling Afghanistan, the Taliban had basically eradicated opium production (from which heroin is made). Then just four years after the US invaded and allied with the drug lords there, 90% of the world’s heroin came from that country. We now have what Trump admits is a “national health emergency” due to opiate addiction, yet it was US policy that contributed to that epidemic.
This shows how Washington’s foreign policy threatens the US people: contributing to the present opiate epidemic; creating the previous crack epidemic and the ongoing cocaine epidemic (which comes from US ally Colombia); financing and supporting the Taliban allies who attacked the US on 9/11. The US aided the rise of ISIS with arms and funding and is closely allied to Saudi Arabia, the country more than any other responsible for 9/11, ISIS, and Al Qaeda affiliated groups. The US has sought to destroy secular left movements in the Middle East, in Egypt, in Iraq by putting Saddam Hussein in power, in Iran by working with the Shah to murder it off and bringing in Khomeini as the lesser evil, in Afghanistan by using the Mujahideen and Taliban to eliminate the previous progressive government. In sum, the US has helped to empower Islamic extremists.
US War on Iraq
After invading Afghanistan, the US invaded Iraq, though it had nothing to do with 9/11. Saddam Hussein, like the leadership of Iran, had been a mortal enemy of Al Qaeda. “Iran watched in 2003 as its neighbor Iraq was invaded by the United States and its coalition partners, suffering the worst destruction it ever had since the Mongol invasion of 1258 led by Genghis Khan. And Iranians are painfully aware that the United States is intent on doing the very same to their country.”
When the US overthrew Saddam Hussein, whose base was among Iraqi Sunnis, Iraqi Shiites came to power, who then allied themselves with Shiite Iran. Then Washington sought to weaken Iran, which it had just strengthened through the Iraqi invasion.
Washington turned to aiding the very forces who attacked on 9/11 as a tool to contain Iran. The US aided Sunni extremists in Libya and Syria to try to overthrow Gaddafi and Assad. The US supported the opposition in Syria from the beginning and has spent $12 billion funding it just from 2014-2017. Now Iran is lawfully in Syria (and Iraq) to fight ISIS and Al Qaeda at the invitation of the Syrian government. In contrast, the US intervention in Syria is in violation of international law. Trump has announced the US will stay in Syria, not to fight ISIS, but to counter Iran, which has become a regional power due to US miscalculations in its interventions in the Middle East.
Present Day Threats against Iran
The US under both Obama and Trump has been arming and aiding Saudi Arabia in bombing and blockading Yemen (dependent on imports for 90% of its food), alleging the Houthis are “proxies for Iran,” and creating starvation and slaughter of Yemeni civilians. In Yemen, 22.2 million people need humanitarian assistance, 17.8 million are food insecure, and 8.4 million people are severely food insecure at risk of starvation.
The Iran nuclear deal, which Trump wants to scuttle, did not serve to significantly alleviate the economic problems the Iranian people faced. Sanctions on Iran have cost the country $160 billion since 2012, and Trump has increased these sanctions.
The 2017 protests in Iran were sparked by cuts to social benefits, a consequence of sanctions and US-Saudi engineered fall in oil prices. Washington spent over $1 million trying to convert the protests into a push for regime change, and another $20 million on Voice of America’s Persian Service seeking to turn Iranians against the government.
This brutal anti-democratic US conduct against Iran is similar to what it has also inflicted on Greece, El Salvador, Argentina, Chile, Guatemala, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, etc. – if the US did not resort to massive invasion, killing millions as in the Philippines, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq.
We can see the brutal present world the US has created when we compare what humanitarian Third World leaders it overthrew or sought to, compared to the US-backed leader: Arbenz and the Guatemalan dictators, Sukarno and Suharto, Lumumba and Mobutu, the Sandinistas and Somoza, Goulart and the Brazilian generals, Allende and Pinochet, Mandela and apartheid, Mossadegh and the Shah, Chavez and the Venezuelan putschists, Fidel and Batista, Aristide and the Haitian generals, Juan Bosch and Balaguer, and so on. These are great losses to creating a more humane world.
Now the US blames Iran and Russia for the problems confronting the Middle East, and the US government wants us to believe that regime change in Iran will help fix the problem. This ignores the fact that none of the other regime changes the United States has been involved in have done anything but make matters worse. Millions have been killed, modern countries destroyed, and the US national debt has skyrocketed.
The Plot to Attack Iran gives us a well-referenced summary to the US war against Iranian democracy and the complex situation in the Middle East. The US has been backing groups it is also at times fighting, groups that still engage in terrorist attacks against the US, France, and Britain.
Kovalik’s book is a useful resource for our anti-imperialist movement. We get a taste of what liberal-lefts will say and do as the US advances its regime change strategy in Iran by looking at how they responded to the US attack on Libya and on Syria. The Plot to Attack Iran will aid us when we confront the same expected capitulation by much of this “left” when the US pushes ahead with its war plans on Iran.
Your head chopper heros are apparently not what Syrians have in mind when they think of democratic revolution.
Mehdi Hasan (MH) can hardly be blamed for the ignorance that he displays in his Intercept article, “Dear Bashar al-Assad Apologists: Your Hero Is a War Criminal Even If He Didn’t Gas Syrians.” He has apparently never been to Syria, doesn’t often do research on Syria, and gets his information from proponents of a single point of view, representing a bunch of idealists that want to usher in their idea of a liberal democracy in Syria, without benefit of electoral niceties until their power is already ironclad. What’s wrong with this picture?
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start by deconstructing the absurdities and the language in the MH article.
Thankfully, MH has spared us the need to deconstruct the absurd accusation that the Syrian armed forces have used chemical weapons. He apparently accepts that they don’t need to, that there is no benefit in using them, so why would they? OK, then who did? Cui bono? Easy answer. The motive of the promoters of destruction in Syria is to create a pretext for the US and its partners to bomb, invade and establish a no-fly zone; i.e., to directly take on the Syrian government and its allies. These war criminals include the neoconservative cabal in the US, the Zionist and Israeli proponents of using the US to fight Israel’s perceived enemies, and the Saudi and Qatari adventurists backing the Project for a New Salafist Paradise. These are the same players who brought us Iraq I and II, Libya, Afghanistan forever, Somalia and Yemen. What more could we wish for?
So let us move on to the MH complaint about barrel bombs. What is the complaint, exactly? Are they more horrible than other types of bombs? Is it OK to use bombs manufactured in western munitions factories for delivery by jet airplanes but not ones manufactured in Syria and delivered by helicopter? Never mind. It’s a great opportunity for MH to use the hyped term “BARREL BOMB” in order to enrage and terrify an undiscerning readership.
But what about all the civilian casualties, and isn’t the Syrian army to blame? Well, no, ISIS and the pseudonymous al-Qaeda affiliates are quite happy to post videos of their stonings, beheadings, crucifixions and immolations, so we know the army can’t be the only ones. In fact, given the summary executions of non-Muslims in territories “liberated” from the government, is there any reason to think that the forces fighting the Syrian government are responsible for fewer civilian deaths? I myself met refugees who had fled up to 70 km over the mountains in the dead of winter to Latakia in March, 2013 with no more than the clothes on their back. No one knows how many children and old people died.
Aircraft? The anti-government fighters don’t have them, do they? No, but they seem to be quite resourceful in eliminating innocent human lives nonetheless. An example is the at least 10,000 civilians that have lost their lives in Damascus due to mortars and “hell cannons” (which also use “barrel bombs”) since the start of the hostilities. Other examples include the withering four-year siege of the Shiite towns of Foua and Kafraya near Idlib and the unrelenting bombardment via “hell cannon” of the city of Aleppo from the enclave of East Aleppo until it was finally recovered by government forces in late 2016.
On the other hand, for those (unlike MH and the mainstream media), who consider evidence to be relevant, there is a plethora available to show that the Syrian army has been unusually respectful of civilian life. The claim is that Syria and its Russian allies have obliterated entire neighborhoods, raining bombs on the civilian population. The facts are somewhat at odds with this description.
First, there are the civilian casualties themselves. The UN stopped keeping casualty statistics in early 2016, but even the anti-government Syrian Observatory for Human Rights concedes that less that 1/3 of all casualties are civilians. No other war on record has had such a low ratio. By comparison, 2/3 were civilian casualties in Vietnam, WWII and most other wars.
Second, the Syrian army liberation of Homs, Aleppo and other areas has followed a typical progression that is quite the opposite of “just kill them all”. First, the army surrounds the area and lays siege. At this point, if the army wants to flatten the area and bring an end to the resistance there, it has the perfect means to do so. But it does not. Instead, it positions relief supplies at the perimeter and makes them available without prejudice to the inhabitants. It also offers sanctuary to all who wish to leave. Amazingly, this includes even the fighters. Syrian fighters willing to lay down their arms are offered amnesty. But many are not initially willing to accept amnesty, and many are not Syrian. To these, the government offers safe passage to other parts of Syria under opposition control, even permitting the fighters to keep their small arms.
If they refuse, the siege and the fighting continue, often for more than a year, and bombing is often a part of the campaign, especially toward the end, after multiple unilateral ceasefires from the government side, to try to conclude a peaceful end, as in Aleppo. The bombing is typically in the least inhabited areas, in order to remove cover for fighters, so that the army will incur fewer casualties when it goes in. The strategy doesn’t always work, but the low ratio of civilian casualties is a testimony to its relative success.
Why does the Syrian government do this? Wouldn’t it be easier to just level the entire area, civilians and all, and be rid of the fighters once and for all?
Not really. The government is aware that families are split, with some fighting on one side and some on another. One of the reasons so many Syrians remain loyal to the government is that it is seeking to protect all Syrians on all sides, with the intention of regaining their allegiance. The government also recognizes that many of the opposition fighters are, in effect, mercenaries, for whom fighting is a way to put food on the table when there are no other sources of income. Such fighters are not really enemies, just desperate people. Given an opportunity, they will easily return to the government side.
Then there are the hyped bombing casualty statistics. As I pointed out in 2015, even if we accept the statistics of the highly biased anti-government Human Rights Watch, the number of casualties per bomb is only two, including combatants. If we apply the ratio of civilian deaths, that is less than one civilian casualty per bomb, a clear indication that the Syrian air force is being far more respectful of civilians than the US was, for example, in its bombing of Raqqah, where twice as many civilians as fighters were killed.
But MH is slamming a position that nobody holds. The number of “leftists” that consider Bashar al-Assad a hero infinitesimal. There may be many Syrians who do, but that is not who MH is referring to. MH is misinterpreting the actions of some journalists (including “leftists”) to correct distortions and false information as defense of Assad. Perhaps the distinction is too subtle for him, but an aversion to disinformation and lynch mob mentality is not the same as being pro-Assad. It’s not very helpful to say, on the one hand, that you oppose intervention in Syria, and then take all your (false) information from pro-intervention sources. In that case the interventionists will applaud your non-intervention stance.
Those of us whom MH accuses of being pro-Assad are nothing of the sort. We believe that Syrian sovereignty and territory should be fully respected (as MH also claims to believe), but we think it is important to counter the fake news and propaganda that are being used to justify the invasion of Syria. MH is in love with fake news. He prefers not to mention the killing of police in the uprisings that he describes as “peaceful demonstrations”. He prefers to cherry-pick the opinions of Syrian refugees in Germany rather than the views of the vast majority of refugees (displaced persons) who evacuated to government areas without leaving Syria. He produces the Human Rights Watch report on 50,000 morgue photos but not the deconstruction by investigator Rick Sterling. And he repeats the al-Qaeda claim and false film footage that Madaya was starving and in need when it was, in fact, sitting on a mountain of aid supplies being denied by the fighters themselves to the population.
If MH can’t see the difference between being pro-Assad and not falling for interventionist propaganda, that’s his problem. What’s astonishing is the number of “leftists” that rail against interventionism but base their views on the drivel purveyed by the interventionists themselves in the mainstream media, and that originates from propaganda mills like the White Helmets, the Aleppo/Ghouta Media Center and other lavishly funded set designers for warmongers. If MH is not an interventionist, he’s nevertheless making their case for them.
It feels as if world events are in overdrive, and sometimes it’s hard to escape the thought that there is no longer much point in trying to analyse, or make sense of, a trajectory increasingly out of control.
I see little evidence that those of us in the segment of the world political spectrum likely to read these words need much persuasion — nor that those who consider us dupes of the Evil Vladimir, or apologists for what was once called the “Yellow Peril”, could ever have any inclination to even glance at the arguments and sentiments of those they consider so utterly deluded.
In fact, the plethora of information (both truth and lies), and the amazing communicative possibilities most of us now have at our disposal, have brought with them a world in which no one is very often persuaded of anything: for every fact we present, they have access to an official or cleverly crafted lie with convincing-looking documentation that demonstrates our ostensible mendacity and subversion.
What pre-internet thinker – is it possible that bygone age ended only 20 years ago for most of us? — would have ever thought that a technological world in which every voice can be heard worldwide would solidify, rather than threaten, the role of propaganda in public life? Or that near-universal access to technology enabling impressively thorough research at incredible speed would be one of the major factors in eliminating political consensus and rendering nearly obsolete the recognition of facts as such?
Well, perhaps there are brilliant minds out there who foresaw it all. But consider me dumbfounded. While there is a range of similarities between our world today and those described by Orwell and Huxley in their famous novels of future horror, there are other aspects that render this a different universe altogether, and one that continues to shock me.
Assuming that it WERE, in fact, possible to persuade people who accept their governments’ colossal lies and distortions that those same lies are, in fact, exactly that – lies — one would be required to acquaint most of them with the most basic facts of recent history. For remarkably, almost unbelievably, in a world where all of us have limitless information and history at our fingertips, most people know nothing about recent history – and the vast majority is not even curious about it.
Pointless though it may be, I continue to attempt to jog the memory of these amnesiacs. It seems somehow therapeutic to my own shaken sensibilities as well to see this recent history on paper or on the screen from time to time. Perhaps it is an act of self-defense against the fear that soon I, too, will be unable to remember what really happened. And so, repeatedly, I write about the real face behind the moral masks worn by the empire’s minions.
“Enemies” Custom Made to Order While You Wait
While I am not a Muslim, nor a Russian — as a matter of fact, I am American with no religion whatsoever — I feel it only fair to point out the following to those who view US-NATO-Israeli-Saudi propaganda as credible:
1. In 1953, American President Dwight Eisenhower used the CIA (which has admitted this) to overthrow Iran’s democratically-elected leader Mossadegh, who wanted to nationalize the oil companies. The CIA and its allies put Shah Reza Pahlavi on the throne. The Shah murdered and tortured opponents and/or imagined opponents via his secret police SAVAK. He was eventually overthrown by Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini and the mullahs who transformed the nation into the Islamic Republic of Iran. Everyone in Iran knows all about this, but most Americans and many Europeans do not. Obviously, the USA had a major role in shaping modern Iran, whatever one thinks of Iran’s policies (I for one consider most of what the USA and Israel and Saudi Arabia say about Iran to be utter bollocks, largely in support of Israeli angst and Saudi Wahhabi-Sunni hostility to Shi’ism).
2. ISIS evolved out of the terror group “Al-Qaeda in Iraq”, which emerged AFTER the US invasion of Iraq and was led by former officers in Saddam Hussein’s army, an army that was disbanded and left to its own devices by the American forces in Iraq. Some of these officers developed the newer ISIS model while they were held in the infamous American torture prison in Iraq, Abu Ghraib. Obviously, the USA bears major responsibility for the creation of ISIS, WHETHER OR NOT it is true that the US and Israel continue to work with ISIS consciously for strategic purposes. US ally Saudi Arabia is also known to have put much funding into ISIS through private channels, as Hillary Clinton and others have publicly admitted.
3. The original Al-Qaeda, like much else which is dangerous in today’s world, developed directly out of American — and interestingly, also Polish — hostility to the Soviet Union and Russia. US National Security Adviser to the President, Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Polish-American and passionate Russia-hater, persuaded US President Jimmy Carter to attack the Soviet-supported communist government of Afghanistan in the 1970s by arming and funding Osama bin Laden and other jihadis (sound familiar?). Later, bin Laden turned against America because (in his own words) the US stationed troops in Islam’s Holy Land of Saudi Arabia, and Al-Qaeda was born. A huge percentage of modern Islamist terror evolved from this seed, not only in the Hindu Kush and Middle East but now in Africa as well. Obviously American catastrophic imperial foreign and military policy are responsible, both directly and indirectly, for much of the unrest and violence in the Islamic world and exported out of it, not to mention the colossal refugee crisis associated with that violence and the American wars there.
Red Alert: Unfiltered Truth on MSNBC
I posted a video of it in social media twice because I consider it so significant: famous economist Jeffrey Sachs stated emphatically on national American TV this week (“Good Morning Joe”, MSNBC) that the US and President Barack Obama started the war in Syria via the CIA. I have a feeling that they would never have allowed him on the show if they had known he was going to say that. TABOO BROKEN … imperialist media twits sit stunned with egg on faces, military man stutters incoherent bullshit in response … Sachs is not exactly a radical, and he is too renowned and respected to simply be told he is full of it by such habitual sycophants. Too bad he didn’t go even further and tell the show’s co-host Mika Brzezinski that her father put into action the policies that resulted in the existence of Al-Qaeda and ISIS, and have left half of the Middle East and Hindu Kush in ruins and/or at war, millions dead, and created a horrific refugee crisis. But I am grateful for what he did say.
On the Value of Human Lives Outside of the USA and the EU
I should be used to it by now, but I continue to be stupefied by the following dynamic: As John Steppling, in his recent article “The Sleep of Civilization” wrote:
Most White Americans, as a general statement, think they are better than the rest of the world. And most Americans have scant knowledge about the rest of the world. So the belief in cultural (and moral) superiority is based on what? The answer is not simple, but as a general sort of response, this trust in “our” superiority is built on violence. On an ability to be effectively violent. Most British, too, think they are superior to those “wogs” south of their emerald isle. But since the setting of the sun on Empire, “officially”, the British hold to both a sense of superiority and a deep panic-inducing sense of inferiority — at least to their American cousins. They are still better than those fucking cheese eating frogs or the krauts or whoever, but they accept that the U.S. is the sort of heavyweight champ of the moment. Meanwhile, the tragic and criminal fire at Grenfell Towers in London elicited a public discourse that perfectly reflected the class inequality of the UK, but also reflected, again, the colonialist mentality of the ruling party and their constituency … But that is exactly it. The colonial template is one etched in acid in the collective imagination of the West. At least the English-speaking West. Expendable natives…which is what Jim Mattis sees everywhere that he dumps depleted uranium and Willy Pete. It is what Madeleine Albright saw in Iraq or Hillary Clinton in Libya or Barack Obama in Sudan, Yemen, and…well… four or five other countries. It is what most U.S. police departments see in neighborhoods ravaged by poverty. As in those old Tarzan films, when the sound of drums is heard, the pith helmeted white man notes…”the natives are restless tonight”. When one discusses Syria, the most acute topic this week, remember that for Mad Dog and Boss Trump, or for the loopy John Bolton, these are just natives in need of pacification. Giving money to ISIS or Daesh, or whoever, as a cynical expression of colonial realpolitik, is nothing out of the ordinary. It is what the UK and US have done for a long while. It’s Ramar of the Jungle handing out beads to the *natives*.
Although every indicator and every new disaster outside of US-EU-NATO countries confirms once again, clearly and unmistakeably, that most citizens of the United States and Europe consider the lives of those in other parts of the world to be worth far less than their own … astoundingly (at least to me), it nonetheless continues to be possible for the US and European governments to build public support for military strikes in those parts of the world by feigning horror over civilian casualties in wars in such places – casualties occurring in many cases, as now in Syria, in wars for which the United States itself is responsible, wars which the USA encouraged quite deliberately with arms and money and CIA involvement.
But in this new presstitute House of Mirrors media world, no large media entities call the insane Nikki Haley to account when she stands in the United Nations Security Council holding up pictures of dead children in Syria – whether real (and there certainly are plenty of dead civilians there) or once again faked by Western-supported jihadis and their associates – and blames Russia for their deaths in a war organized and kept going by the US and Saudi Arabia. Recently Haley closed one such nauseating and vulgar mountebank performance by stating, “But pictures of dead children mean nothing to countries like Russia.” I’m sure that would come as news to the parents and families of the vast numbers of Russian children who died during World War II while the USSR was defeating Hitler, during most of which time America sat back and waited, hoping Hitler would conquer the Soviet Union. It is now estimated that 26 million Russians died before their time in that war, known euphemistically in the USA as “The Good War” and widely thought to have been won by the American military.
Ms Haley’s Dead Children Show contains no mention of Yemen where, according to the NGO Save The Children, 50,000 children are believed to have died from disease and starvation in 2017 alone as a result of the genocide against the Houthi people carried out by Saudi Arabia with massive support from allies including the USA, the UK, France, and Germany. But those who wear the Moral Mask are shameless and highly selective.
Naomi Shihab Nye is a poet and professor of Creative Writing at Texas State. Her father was Palestinian and a refugee journalist. In one of her poems after 9/11, entitled “Blood,” she writes:
I call my father, we talk around the news.
It is too much for him,
neither of his two languages can reach it.
I drive into the country to find sheep, cows,
to plead with the air:
Who calls anyone civilized?
Where can the crying heart graze?
What does a true Arab do now?
I myself tried to write something for the 15 year “commemoration” of the US war against Iraq, but wasn’t able to complete it. It was too much for me. A couple of months ago I was invited to go to the Northwest to speak about “Fifteen Years After the War.” It was too much for me emotionally, and somewhat shamefully I had to decline.
As I write, I have the phone next to me. I am texting a young Iraqi boy who is alone in Turkey. About ten months ago he was kidnapped in Iraq. Through a chain of events, he ended up in Syria. About two months ago his father was contacted and was able to get his son smuggled across the border into Turkey. Last month his son turned 18 years of age and was eligible to register as a refugee with UNHCR. But he will not get an interview for many months to come.
Traumatized, missing family and without friends, he tells his family he wants to come home. But it is much too dangerous for him to return. Trying to draw him out of his boredom, I ask him to tell me how his day was. What did he eat? Did he get outside? What is the weather like? I ask him what words he has learned in Turkish. I tell him what I ate, about the soup I cooked or the rainy weather. By the length of time between our messages, I suspect that he is looking up some of the English words. Sometimes we speak by phone and get to see each other.
For some reason I find our simple conversation today so tender. His family in Baghdad is grateful that we are in contact. They have another son who was also kidnapped. They do not know whether he is alive or not. The boys were separated after the kidnapping. The grief of this family seems to have no end. And this is just one family.
I was in Iraq for the month of October last year. One of the hardest things for me on that trip was the feeling I heard expressed that the country has become invisible. A doctor friend in Baghdad, his hurt palpable, told me he felt as though Iraq has been completely forgotten by the global community.
A friend from Baghdad sent me photos a couple of weeks ago, photos that he took from a bus window of the destruction in Mosel, and it was the side of the city that had suffered only “minimally.”
That same week Hunar Ahmed, writing for Kurdish media network “Rudaw News,” reported (“Bodies of Mosul Civilians Contaminate Water and Threaten Epidemic,” 3/17/18):
Heaps of bodies are being uncovered amongst the rubble of Mosul and in its river, threatening contamination and a public health emergency. Human remains are almost indistinguishable from the debris of ruined buildings.
More than 2 million Iraqis have been displaced by the war against the Islamic State. According to a February, 2018 Reuters report about interviews with refugee aid groups:
Iraqi authorities are forcing thousands of displaced people to return to their home areas too soon despite the risks….In two of the five camps the aid groups collectively oversee, 84 percent of displaced Iraqis said they felt safer in the camp than in their area of origin. More than half said their houses were damaged or totally destroyed and only 1 percent said they knew for sure their houses were available for return.
War rages on in Iraq. Naomi Shihab Nye’s words should help bring us back to ourselves, fifteen years after the onset of the 2003 US-led war against Iraq. “Who calls anyone civilized?”
Never forget the Dodgy Dossier. That was the supposed evidence claiming in 2003 that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction that could be used against Britain within forty minutes. The Dodgy Dossier was presented in Britain’s House of Parliament as the truth – and was unchallenged by the mainstream media. It was included in the case for war presented to the UN by the United States, and became the given reason for Britain then joining forces with the US in the illegal war that followed, a war which, in addition to costing almost two hundred British lives, killed tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis and ruined the lives of millions more. The Dodgy Dossier turned out to be pure bunkum.
Fifteen years later a brand new dodgy dossier appears to be in the making, which once again is being unchallenged by the mainstream media. We are now supposed to believe that the Russian government is behind an alleged chemical attack on an ex-spy. Once again, the hard evidence for the allegation is nowhere to be seen. All that passes for evidence are stories about a chemical that was supposedly invented in Russia forty years ago (but almost certainly could easily be reproduced a few miles away from Salisbury at Porton Down – or by the CIA), and Oscar-winning performances of righteous rage in parliament by British politicians – not unlike the pantomime we saw in the same theatre a mere fifteen years ago.
Another possibility for the sourcing of Russian chemical weapons might be Syria. When Isis (who were actively assisted by western special forces) were enjoying their early successes in that tortured country, they overran some Syrian military bases which could have been storing chemical weapons. Russia has supplied Syria with military equipment in the past, and could have perhaps supplied chemical weapons too. All this happened before Assad destroyed his remaining stockpiles, and may have accounted for why he did so. So Isis could have obtained these chemicals at that time, and they could then have found their way into the hands of the west to be used in exactly the kind of scenario we’re seeing played out now in Salisbury.
Shortly after the Salisbury incident, Britain announced it was going to impose trade sanctions on Russia. I bet that had the Kremlin shaking in their boots. Imagine, a country that has almost no natural resources and is incapable of manufacturing anything that Russia can’t make for itself is going to stop trading with the country who supplies it with much of its natural gas. That’s sensible, isn’t it? About the only service that Britain provides in exchange for essential energy supplies is offshore banking – and even that is a service that’s probably used more by Russian gangsters than by the state. Russia is a country that grew up with trade sanctions and for most of the last hundred years has had to go it alone. If there’s anywhere on earth that’s pretty impervious to trade sanctions, it’s Russia.
It’s difficult to say for sure why the west has decided in recent years to renew the cold war with Russia. After all, given that Russia is no longer a communist country, that excuse no longer exists, so what other existential threat does Russia present? A likely explanation is that Russia has started to kick back against western assaults in Russian spheres of interest. The first major incident was over Ukraine, once part of the USSR, and a country where the US openly admitted spending $5 billion in a coup to overthrow the lawful Russian-friendly government. Russia openly supports Eastern Ukraine, who wanted no part of the coup, and especially Crimea where a referendum overwhelmingly backed a desire to formally merge with Russia – all of which resulted in something of a defeat for the western warmongers.
But possibly the most unacceptable intervention was Russia’s support for the Syrian government which, as a consequence of yet another terrible western-sponsored war, was on the brink of defeat. But when Russia was asked by the lawful Syrian government to help out, the made-in-the-west attempted coup was soon crushed, once again defeating the western warmongers.
Unlike the western warmongers, however, Russia has done nothing wrong, and has only supported the people who wanted and asked for its support and invited their military interventions. But that fact will not carry any weight in London or Washington – quite the reverse. It will be seen as a humiliating defeat, and recognition that Russia’s credibility as a force to be reckoned with once again will not pass unnoticed around the world. It’s just like what happens when someone stands up to a common gangster: if the gangster doesn’t strike back hard when he thinks his authority is being undermined he knows he’s going to be seen as weak.
Watching Britain’s Foreign Minister Boris Johnson in action over the last couple of weeks has been physically painful. This is someone who was almost unknown until he started appearing a few years ago on a popular news quiz on TV, in his capacity as a journalist. He was popular on the show because he appeared to be a likeable buffoon, someone else who had been educated in one of Britain’s most elite schools and yet who appeared to be as thick as two short planks. No one could take him seriously, yet somehow he has now obtained for himself one of the most important and powerful political positions in the country. Whether he’s insulting Europe, China or Russia with his “laddish humour” or his even more worrying attempts at being serious, watching Johnson at work these days is a bit like watching a bumbling clown playing around with matches at a petrol station – whilst you’re trying to top up your car with fuel.
As well as Johnson’s evidence-less ranting and personal attacks on Vladimir Putin, he then affects incredulous anger that Russia is stockpiling deadly nerve agents. Given that Britain’s own Porton Down laboratories, just walking distance away from the Salisbury incident, has been a world leader in this field for many decades, Johnson’s remark is simply breathtaking in its sheer brazen hypocrisy.
One of the cornerstones of Britain’s ludicrous “unwritten constitution” is the concept of a “free press” – the notion that our news providers should not be censored. The real purpose of this is supposed to be that those news providers will then fearlessly challenge our great trusted leaders and hold them to account whenever necessary. This almost never happens, as the outrageous and illegal Iraq War of 2003 proved. Then, the great trusted leaders never once had their feet held to the fire by the media; and afterwards, when some of the war crimes were revealed, there were no demands by the media for accountability – for heads to roll – possibly because the media were as complicit as the politicians. In short, our main news providers cannot be trusted, and the theoretically invaluable concept of a free press is nothing but a cynical joke.
It could be that Russia is indeed behind the events in Salisbury, even though everything about that possibility defies logic. Why would Russia kill-off an old and washed-up ex-spy in Britain by using an illegal weapon saying “made in Russia” all over it, an ex-spy who they had plenty of time and opportunity to dispatch if they wanted to whilst he was in Russia? Knowing full well the furore such an attack on British soil would provoke, how does that benefit Russia?
The anti-Russia hysteria that’s currently being whipped-up by politicians and the mainstream media is ridiculous, a dangerous bid to renew a cold war that benefited no one except the west’s military-industrial-intelligence complex. Before this situation gets out of hand we need hard evidence that Russia is responsible for the Salisbury attack, and we need reasonably independent UN weapons inspectors to examine it – not the same people who produced the dodgy dossier in 2003, nor the same people who provided dodgy evidence to wrongfully convict the “Birmingham Six” and the “Guildford Four” of terrorism, as well as who knows how many other dodgy political convictions in the past. Hysterical politicians grandstanding in parliament and on TV is not evidence. Never forget the Dodgy Dossier.
This week, following the recent announcement of a new National Defense Strategy that focuses on conflicts with great powers and a new arms race, the Pentagon announced an escalation of nuclear weapons development. The United States’ military is spread across the world, including several dangerous conflict areas that could develop into an all-out war, possibly in conflict with China or Russia. This comes at a time when US empire is fading, something the Pentagon also recognizes and the US is falling behind China economically. This is not unexpected considering that one year ago President Trump sought an inaugural parade that put tanks and missiles on display.
The new National Defense Strategy announced last week moves from the ‘war on terror’ toward conflict with great powers. Michael Whitney, writing about the conflict in Syria, puts it in context:
Washington’s biggest problem is the absence of a coherent policy. While the recently released National Defense Strategy articulated a change in the way the imperial strategy would be implemented, (by jettisoning the ‘war on terror’ pretext to a ‘great power’ confrontation) the changes amount to nothing more than a tweaking of the public relations ‘messaging’. Washington’s global ambitions remain the same albeit with more emphasis on raw military power.
The move from military conflict against non-state actors; i.e., ‘terrorists’, to great power conflict means more military hardware, massive spending on weapons and a new arms race. Andrew Bacevich writes in American Conservative that war profiteers are popping open the champagne.
Bacevich writes the ‘new’ strategy is placed in the false claim that the US is “emerging from a period of strategic atrophy.” The claim is laughable as the US has been in never ending war with massive military spending throughout the century:
Under Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and now Donald Trump, U.S. forces have been constantly on the go. I’m prepared to argue that no nation in recorded history has ever deployed its troops to more places than has the United States since 2001. American bombs and missiles have rained down on a remarkable array of countries. We’ve killed an astonishing number of people.
The new strategy means more spending on weapons to prepare for conflict with Russia and China. Not bothering with reality, Secretary of Defense JimMattis claimed: “Our competitive edge has eroded in every domain of warfare—air, land, sea, space, and cyberspace. And it is continually eroding.” He described the Pentagon’s plans for ‘procurement and modernization’; i.e. the arms race that includes nuclear, space and traditional weapons, cyber defense and more surveillance.
The Pentagon announced its Nuclear Posture Review on February 2, 2018. The review calls for updating and expanding the nuclear arsenal in order to respond to perceived threats, in particular by “great powers,” e.g. Russia and China, as well North Korea and others. Peace Action described a review written by Dr. Strangeglove, adding: “The expansion of our nuclear arsenal called for in the Nuclear Posture Review would cost the American taxpayers an estimated $1.7 trillion adjusted for inflation over the next three decades.”
Bachevich concludes “Who will celebrate the National Defense Strategy? Only weapons manufacturers, defense contractors, lobbyists, and other fat cat beneficiaries of the military-industrial complex.” To further the glee of weapons makers, Trump is urging the State Department to spend more time selling US weapons.
In his first year as president, Donald Trump handed over decision-making power to “his generals” and as expected, this resulted in more “warfare, bombing and deaths” in his first year than the Obama era. There has been “an almost 50 percent increase of airstrikes in Iraq and Syria during Trump’s first year in office, leading to a rise in civilian deaths by more than 200 percent compared with the year before.” Trump has also broken the record for special forces, now deployed in 149 countries or 75 percent of the globe. So much for ‘America First.’
Many areas risk escalation to full-scale war, including conflict with Russia and China:
Syria: The seven-year war in Syria, which has killed 400,000 people, began during Obama’s presidency under the guise of destroying ISIS. The real goal was removal of President Assad. This January, Secretary of State Tillerson made the goal clear, saying that even after the defeat of ISIS the US would stay in Syria until Assad was removed from office. The US is moving to Plan B, the creation of a de facto autonomous Kurdish state for almost one-third of Syria defended by a proxy military of 30,000 troops, mainly Kurds. Marcello Ferrada de Noli describes that in response, Syria aided by Russia, Iran and Hezbollah “continues victorious and unabated in its pursuit to retake the full sovereignty of its nation’s territory.” Turkey is moving to ensure no Kurdish territory is created by the US.
North Korea: The latest dangerous idea coming from the Trump military is giving North Korea a “bloody nose.” This schoolyard bully talk risks a US first strike that could create war with China and Russia. China has said if the US attacked first it would defend North Korea. This aggressive talk comes when North and South Korea seek peace and are cooperating during the Olympics. The Trump era has continued massive military exercises, practicing attacks on North Korea that include nuclear attacks and assassination of their leadership. The US did take a step back and agree not to hold such war games during the Olympics.
Iran: The US has sought regime change since the 1979 Islamic Revolution removed the US’s Shah of Iran. The current debate over the future of the nuclear weapons agreement and economic sanctions are focal points of conflict. While observers find Iran has lived up to the agreement, the Trump administration continues to claim violations. In addition, the US, through USAID, the National Endowment for Democracy and other agencies, is spending millions annually to build opposition to the government and foment regime change, as seen in recent protests. In addition, the US (along with Israel and Saudi Arabia) is engaged in conflict with Iran in other areas, e.g. Syria and Yemen. There is regular propaganda demonizing Iran and threatening war with Iran, which is six times the size of Iraq and has a much stronger military. The US has been isolated in the UN over its belligerence toward Iran.
Afghanistan: The longest war in US history continues after 16 years. The US has been hiding what is happening in Afghanistan because the Taliban has an active presence in about 70 percent of the country and ISIS has gained more territory than ever before resulting in the Inspector General for Afghanistan criticizing DoD for refusing to release data. The long war included Trump dropping the largest non-nuclear bomb in history and resulted in allegations of US war crimes that the International Criminal Court seeks to investigate. The US has caused devastation throughout the country.
Ukraine: The US supported coup in the Ukraine continues to cause conflicts on the Russian border. The US spent billions on the coup, but documents outlining the Obama administration’s involvement have not been released. The coup was complete with Vice President Biden’s son and John Kerry’s long term financial ally being put on the board of the Ukraine’s largest private energy company. A former State Department employee became Ukraine’s finance minister. The US continues to claim Russia is the aggressor because it protected its Navy base in Crimea from the US coup. Now, the Trump administration is providing arms to Kiev and stoking a civil war with Kiev and western Ukraine against eastern Ukraine.
These are not the only areas where the US is creating regime change or seeking domination. In another strange statement, Secretary of State Tillerson warned Venezuela may face a military coup while winking that the US does not support regime change (even though it has been seeking regime change to control Venezuelan oil since Hugo Chavez came to power). Tillerson’s comment came as Venezuela negotiated a settlement with the opposition. Regime change is the mode of operation for the US in Latin America. The US supported recent questionable elections in Honduras, to keep the coup government Obama supported in power. In Brazil, the US is assisting the prosecution of Lula, who seeks to run for president, in a crisis that threatens its fragile democracy protecting a coup government.
In Africa, the US has military in 53 of 54 countries and is in competition with China, which is using economic power rather than military power. The US is laying the groundwork for military domination of the continent with little congressional oversight — to dominate the land, resources and people of Africa.
The anti-war movement, which atrophied under President Obama, is coming back to life.
World Beyond War is working to abolish war as an instrument of foreign policy. Black Alliance for Peace is working to revitalize opposition to war by blacks, historically some of the strongest opponents of war. Peace groups are uniting around the No US Foreign Military Bases campaign that is seeking to close 800 US military bases in 80 countries.
Peace advocates are organizing actions. The campaign to divest from the war machine kicks off from February 5 to 11 highlighting the economic cost of war. A global day of action against the US occupation of Guantanamo Bay is being planned for February 23, the anniversary of the US seizing Guantanamo Bay from Cuba through a “perpetual lease” beginning in 1903. A national day of action against US wars at home and abroad is being planned for April. And Cindy Sheehan is organizing a Women’s March on the Pentagon.
There are many opportunities to oppose war in this new era of “Great Power” conflict. We urge you to get involved as you are able to show that the people say “No” to war.