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Syrian Army Uncovers Massive Haul of Western-Made Weapons for Rebels

© Sputnik / Michael Alaeddin
Sputnik | July 4, 2018

The Syrian Army has gotten its hands on another huge cache of weapons and ammunition, including US-made TOW anti-tank missile systems, chemical warfare, minesweeping and communications equipment and even armored vehicles. Some of the supplies appear to be brand new, as if militants did not get the chance to use them against government forces.

The weapons and equipment were surrendered to Syrian troops by militants in Daraa, southwest Syria, who handed over the haul in accordance with a recently signed reconciliation agreement.

The Syrian Arab News Agency posted a video report of the find, with footage showing everything from tanks and armored personnel carriers to RPG launchers, shells, gasmasks, minesweepers, mortars, heavy machinegun emplacements and TOW launchers, along with boxes which appear to be supplies for Free Syrian Army militants from the United States.

Over two dozen towns and villages in southwestern Syria accepted a surrender deal with Damascus following days of negotiations brokered by the Russian military. The deal saw militants from the Free Syrian Army giving up their fight against the government and siding with the army in their operation to mop up the remnants of Nusra Front and Daesh forces in the region. The Syrian military launched an offensive in southern Syria in recent weeks amid constant militant shelling of the cities of Daraa and As-Suwayda.

The Israeli military reportedly drew “red lines” on Sunday amid the fighting, demanding that Damascus stick to a 1974 disengagement agreement which provides for a buffer zone between the two countries. Israel has beefed up its presence near the Golan Heights with tanks and artillery, but promised to stick to a policy of non-intervention in the Syrian conflict.

July 4, 2018 Posted by | Video, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

US Choppers Reportedly Transport Daesh Terrorists to Syrian Training Camp

Sputnik – February 26, 2018

A new report by Syrian media about the evacuation of Daesh militants adds to the growing evidence that the US is using its aviation to assist terrorists.

According to the Syrian state-run news agency SANA, the US has evacuated Daesh leaders from the Al-Shaddadah area in the northeastern al-Hasakah Governorate using its helicopters.

The extremists have been transported to Sabah al-Khair, a base located 20 km south of the city of al-Hasakah, which US forces use to train militants, the civilian sources said as cited by SANA.

The sources added that the helicopters dropped off four senior Daesh terrorists, including one holding Belgian nationality.

They also noted that the evacuation occurred amid reports on social media accounts held by terrorists that the militant called “Abu Qasim al-Iraqi” had disappeared along with his wife and a bodyguard as well as a large amount of money.

The reports of US collusion with extremists emerge on a regular basis. On February 21, an anonymous source from al-Hasakah told Sputnik that local residents had witnessed US helicopters landing on the territory of a local prison and then leaving; the source explained that the flights were for the evacuation of radicals.Earlier in November 2017, reports had emerged saying that “US military aviation” was used to take Daesh commanders from the town of al-Mayadin just before it was recaptured by the Syrian army.

The Russian Defense Ministry has said that the US-led coalition was engaged in the training of  former Daesh and Nusra Front terrorists on a base near al-Hasakah in order to create the new militant formation called the “New Syrian Army.”

February 26, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | 2 Comments

Syria Approves Qalamoun Ceasefire Agreement between Hezbollah and ISIL Terrorist Group

Al-Manar | August 27, 2017

Syrian authorities approved the ceasefire agreement between Hezbollah and ISIL terrorist group in western Qalamoun in order to evacuate the rest of the takfiri militants from the area, a Syrian military source said.

The source added that preserving the souls of the Syrian army soldiers and allies was behind Syria’s approval.

ISIL Terrorists in Lebanon-Syria Border Outskirts Surrender

After an intensive military campaign launched by the Lebanese and Syrian armies and Hezbollah against ISIL terrorists in Lebanon-Syria border outskirts, a ceasefire was concluded and took into effect on Sunday at 7 a.m. (Local Time).

The takfiri militants of ISIL surrendered and agreed to leave the area after turning in the corpses of two of Hezbollah martyrs and disclosing the fate of the Lebanese Kidnapped servicemen.

The Lebanese Army Guidance declared Sunday morning a cease of fire against ISIL terrorists for more negotiations to reveal the fate of the kidnapped soldiers, according to a communiqué issued by the Army Guidance Directorate Department.

Nine Lebanese servicemen were kidnapped by ISIL terrorists, as well as Nusra Front militants, in 2014 when the takfiri group invaded the northeastern town of Arsal.

August 27, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Ceasefire takes effect on Lebanese-Syrian border: Reports

Press TV – July 27, 2017

A ceasefire has reportedly taken effect on the Lebanese side of the border with Syria near the town of Arsal, where Hezbollah resistance fighters have been combating Takfiri militants over the past week.

Lebanon-based al-Manar television network and the Lebanese National News Agency (NNA) reported on Thursday that the ceasefire in the Juroud Arsal area came into force at 0300 GMT and halted fighting on all fronts.

The NNA said the truce was part of a deal brokered by Lebanon’s general security agency chief, Major General Abbas Ibrahim.

Under the agreement, the report said, the remaining al-Nusra terrorists would withdraw from the region to Syria’s Idlib Province, parts of which are controlled by Takfiri militants.

It added that Ibrahim was expected to release a statement on the deal later on Thursday.

Hezbollah launched a major push last Friday to clear both sides of Lebanon’s border with Syria from “armed terrorists.” Lebanon’s army has not formally declared its role in the operation, but has shelled terrorist positions in the area.

On Tuesday, the resistance group’s media bureau announced in a statement that its battle to eliminate members of the Takfiri Jabhat Fatah al-Sham – previously known as the Nusra Front – militant group from the Syria-Lebanon border is 85 percent complete.

Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah also said Wednesday that the operation to recapture the border area from Nusra was almost complete, and that nearly 100 percent of the territories that used to be controlled by the Takfiri terrorists were now liberated.

In August 2014, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and Daesh terrorist groups overran Arsal, killing a number of Lebanese forces. They took 30 soldiers hostage, most of whom have been released.

Since then, Hezbollah and the Lebanese military have been defending Lebanon on the country’s northeastern frontier against foreign-backed terrorist groups operating in neighboring Syria.

Hezbollah fighters have fended off several Daesh attacks inside Lebanon. They have also been providing assistance to Syrian army forces to counter the ongoing foreign-sponsored militancy.

The movement has accused Israel of supporting Takfiri terrorists operating in the Middle East.

Israel, which continues to occupy Lebanon’s Shebaa Farms and Syria’s Golan Heights, is widely reported to be offering medical help to Takfiri terrorists injured in Syria. In December 2015, British newspaper the Daily Mail said Israel had saved the lives of more than 2,000 Takfiri militants since 2013.

July 27, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , | 1 Comment

Another Kerry Rush to Judgment on Syria

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | September 24, 2016

Secretary of State John Kerry has engaged in another rush to judgment blaming the Russians for an attack on a United Nations relief convoy in Syria before any thorough investigation could be conducted and thus prejudicing whatever might follow, as he did with the Syrian sarin case in 2013 and the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in 2014.

Eager to go on the propaganda offensive – especially after a U.S. military airstrike last Saturday killed scores of Syrian soldiers who were battling the Islamic State in eastern Syria – Kerry pounced on an initial report that the attack on the convoy on Monday was an airstrike and then insisted that the Russians must have been responsible because one of their jets was supposedly in the area.

But the United Nations – and I’m told CIA analysts – have not ruled out the possibility that the convoy was instead hit by a surface-to-surface missile. On Friday, a source briefed by U.S. intelligence said one fear is that the jihadist group, Ahrar al-Sham, which has fought alongside Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front but is deemed to be part of the “moderate” opposition, may have used a U.S.-supplied TOW missile in the attack.

Ahrar al-Sham, like some other jihadist groups seeking to overthrow the Syrian government, has objected to limited cease-fires arranged by the Russians and the Americans, which still allowed attacks on its ally, the recently rebranded Nusra Front. Ahrar al-Sham thus had a motive for destroying the aid convoy, an act which indeed has upended efforts to negotiate an end to the five-year-old conflict and led to bloody new attacks inside the embattled city of Aleppo on Friday.

Another possibility was that a Syrian government warplane was targeting a rebel artillery piece traveling alongside the convoy and struck the convoy by accident. But the assignment of blame required additional investigation, as other international officials acknowledged.

On Tuesday, a day before Kerry’s outburst, the U.N. revised its initial statement citing an airstrike, with Jens Laerke, a humanitarian affairs representative for the U.N., saying: “We are not in a position to determine whether these were in fact airstrikes. We are in a position to say that the convoy was attacked.” He called the earlier reference to an airstrike a drafting error.

Nevertheless, on Wednesday, Kerry made his high-profile denunciation of the Russians at the U.N. Security Council, the same venue where Secretary of State Colin Powell in 2003 presented a false case against Iraq for possessing hidden stockpiles of WMD. In fiery comments, Kerry accused Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov of living “in a parallel universe” in denying Russian responsibility.

“The eyewitnesses will tell you what happened,” Kerry said. “The place turned into hell and fighter jets were in the sky.”

Yet, the two points don’t necessarily connect. Just because there are jets in the sky doesn’t mean they fired the rocket that struck the convoy. They might have, but to determine that – and if so, who was flying the jet that fired the missile – requires more thorough study.

Kerry also sought to excuse the U.S. airstrike near Deir ez-Zor last Saturday that killed some 62 Syrian soldiers, saying: We did it, a terrible accident. And within moments of it happening, we acknowledged it. … But I got to tell you, people running around with guns on the ground, from the air, is a very different thing from trucks in a convoy with big U.N. markings all over them.”

But what Kerry ignored was the fact that the United States has no legal authority to be conducting military operations inside Syria, attacks supposedly targeting the terrorist Islamic State but lacking the approval of the Syrian government. In other words, under international law, any such U.S. attacks are acts of aggression and thus war crimes.

The mainstream U.S. news media, however, has little regard for international law, at least when the U.S. government is violating it, nor particular care for factual details. Despite the U.N.’s uncertainty about what struck the convoy, The New York Times continued to report the airstrike as a flat fact.

On Thursday, the Times wrote, “a convoy of trucks taking aid to the besieged of Aleppo was destroyed in a deadly airstrike.” Strangely, later in the article, the Times does note that “the United Nations has not confirmed what struck its trucks.”

A History of Prejudgment

Kerry also has a history of jumping ahead of a story and then going silent when further information is developed.

On Aug. 30, 2013, Kerry gave a thunderous speech virtually declaring war on Syria for supposedly launching a sarin gas attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013, that killed hundreds of people. On Aug. 31, however, President Obama pulled the rug out from under Kerry by shelving plans for a retaliatory bombing campaign, in part, because U.S. and British intelligence analysts expressed doubts that the Syrian government was responsible.

Later, evidence built up supporting a counter thesis that the sarin attack was launched by Syrian rebels trying to draw the U.S. military into the conflict on their side. In other words, Kerry almost put the U.S. government in position of aiding Al Qaeda or the Islamic State overrunning Damascus under dubious if not false pretenses. [See Consortiunews.com’sThe Collapsing Syria Sarin Case.”]

But U.N. investigators have remained under intense pressure to give the U.S. government something so it can keep alive the theme of Syria’s government using chemical weapons, even after Syria agreed to surrender all its chemical weapons in 2013. The U.N. did so in late August in blaming the Syrian government for two thinly evidenced cases of jerry-rigged chlorine bombs, after brushing aside witness testimony that rebels were staging such attacks for propaganda purposes.

Regarding the sarin case, the U.S. government never formally recanted Kerry’s rush to judgment allowing the conventional wisdom inside Official Washington (and its compliant mainstream media) to remain that Obama failed to enforce his “red line” against use of chemical weapons.

Kerry was at it again just three days after Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, insisting that the U.S. government had radar and other conclusive evidence showing exactly where the missile was fired and making clear that Russian-backed rebels were responsible with the Russians also at fault for giving the rebels the anti-aircraft weapon.

However, after CIA and other Western intelligence analysts had more time to review what actually happened – and found that only Ukrainian government forces had anti-aircraft missiles in the area capable of shooting down a plane at 33,000 feet – the U.S. government went silent, refusing to make public its evidence but keeping alive the impression that the Russians were at fault.

With the U.S. government keeping its key evidence secret, the Dutch-led investigations into the crash have floundered. Last October, the Dutch Safety Board could only put the likely missile firing position within a 320-square-kilometer area including land held by both the rebels and the government. [See Consortiumnews.com’sThe Ever Curiouser MH-17 Case.”]

On Sept. 28, a Dutch-led-but-Ukrainian-dominated Joint Investigation Committee (JIT) is scheduled to release a report that is supposed to finally say where the missile was fired, more than two years after the tragedy. Given the influence of Ukraine’s SBU intelligence service over JIT, the likelihood is that the report will try to keep alive the impression that the ethnic Russian rebels were responsible.

A source who’s been following the investigation said the Dutch have resisted the outright falsification of the findings because many of the 298 victims were Dutch citizens and the victims’ families have been pressing for all sides – the United States, Ukraine and Russia – to supply whatever evidence they can. But the Western demands for propaganda to support the New Cold War with Russia are strong.

Syria has become another battlefield in that information war with tragic events being used as propaganda clubs by the various sides to beat one another, rather than moments for careful review of the evidence and assessment of accountability.

Part of this propaganda overload results from the U.S. government and various Western non-governmental organizations funding and training activists in the art of using social media for propaganda purposes. While these activists report on some real events, they also slant their coverage to advance their agenda of “regime change” in Syria.

The problem is compounded because the Western mainstream media has taken up Syrian “regime change” as a beloved cause rather than a topic for objective reporting. The New York Times and other major news outlets rely credulously on anti-government activists, such as the White Helmets and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, for information about what’s happening on the ground with statements from the Syrian or Russian governments treated with open disdain.

The larger tragedy of exploiting these human tragedies for propaganda purposes – whether the sarin attack, the MH-17 shoot-down or now the convoy bombing – is that these deaths of innocents become just excuses to inflict more deaths and ultimately to push the world closer to a new world war.

September 25, 2016 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Russian Foreign Ministry: White House ‘Defending the Islamic State’ Terrorists

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© Sputnik/ Alexei Druzhinin
Sputnik – 17.09.2016

Russia says that the situation in Syria is worsening finding that the rebels have intensified their attacks since the ceasefire came into force on September 12 and laying the blame at the feet of Washington for failing to crackdown on jihadists.

The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a scathing response to the Obama administration after a US Central Command statement suggested that the US-led coalition had warned Russia prior to the airstrikes against Syrian Army positions at Deir Ez-Zor that left some 62 Assad regime soldiers dead.

The statement by the Foreign ministry comes in the wake of accusations by Russia that the United States has not been dealing in good faith in the ceasefire agreement with Russian General Vladimir Savchenko saying that “the situation is worsening” with rebel forces escalating their attacks since the agreement went into force on September 12.

“Russia is exerting all possible effort to restrain Government troops from returning fire,” Senior Army General Viktor Poznikhir said.

The harsh response by Russia comes not only after the United States attempted to flip the blame on Moscow for the attack that killed 80 forces according to the SANA news agency, but also after reports that Daesh terrorists engaged in a major offensive right after the American airstrike crippled the Assad regime’s forces.

Speaking on Rossiya 24 Television the Rusisan Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova said: “If earlier we had suspicions that the Nusra Front is protected this way, now, after today’s airstrikes on the Syrian army we come to a really terrifying conclusion for the entire world: the White House is defending IS [Islamic State or Daesh).”

September 17, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , , , , | 2 Comments

How Media Distorted Syrian Ceasefire’s Breakdown

By Gareth Porter | FAIR | August 11, 2016

Coverage of the breakdown of the partial ceasefire in Syria illustrated the main way corporate news media distort public understanding of a major foreign policy story. The problem is not that the key events in the story are entirely unreported, but that they were downplayed and quickly forgotten in the media’s embrace of themes with which they were more comfortable.

In this case, the one key event was the major offensive launched in early April by Al Nusra Front — the Al Qaeda franchise in Syria — alongside U.S.-backed armed opposition groups. This offensive was mentioned in at least two “quality” U.S. newspapers. Their readers, however, would not have read that it was that offensive that broke the back of the partial ceasefire.

On the contrary, they would have gotten the clear impression from following the major newspapers’ coverage that systematic violations by the Assad government doomed the ceasefire from the beginning.

Corporate media heralded the ceasefire agreement when it was negotiated by the United States and Russia in February, with the Los Angeles Times (2/3/16) calling it “the most determined diplomatic push to date aimed at ending the nation’s almost five-year conflict.” The “partial cessation of hostilities” was to apply between the Syrian regime and the non-jihadist forces, but not to the regime’s war with Nusra and with ISIS.

The clear implication was that the U.S.-supported non-jihadist opposition forces would have to separate themselves from Nusra, or else they would be legitimate targets for airstrikes.

But the relationship between the CIA-backed armed opposition to Assad and the jihadist Nusra Front was an issue that major U.S. newspapers had already found very difficult to cover (FAIR.org3/21/16).

U.S. Syria policy has been dependent on the military potential of the Nusra Front (and its close ally, Ahrar al Sham) for leverage on the Syrian regime, since the “moderate” opposition was unable to operate in northwest Syria without jihadist support. This central element in U.S. Syria policy, which both the government and the media were unwilling to acknowledge, was a central obstacle to accurate coverage of what happened to the Syrian ceasefire.

Shaping the Story

This problem began shaping the story as soon as the ceasefire agreement was announced. On Feb. 23, New York Times correspondent Neil MacFarquhar wrote a news analysis on the wider tensions between the Obama administration and Russia that pointed to “a gaping loophole” in the Syria ceasefire agreement: the fact that “it permits attacks against the Islamic State and the Nusra Front, an Al Qaeda affiliate, to continue.”

MacFarquhar asserted that exempting Nusra from the ceasefire “could work in Moscow’s favor, since many of the anti-Assad groups aligned with the United States fight alongside the Nusra Front.” That meant that Russia could “continue to strike United States-backed rebel groups without fear … of Washington’s doing anything to stop them,” he wrote.

On the same day, Adam Entous of the Wall Street Journal reported that Obama’s “top military and intelligence advisers don’t believe Russia will abide by a just-announced ceasefire in Syria and want to ready plans to increase pressure on Moscow by expanding covert support to rebels fighting the Russia-backed Assad regime.”

For two of the country’s most prominent newspapers, it was thus clear that the primary context of the Syria ceasefire was not its impact on Syria’s population, but how it affected the rivalry between powerful national security officials and Russia.

Contrary to those dark suspicions of Russian intentions to take advantage of the agreement to hit U.S.-supported Syrian opposition groups, however, as soon as the partial ceasefire agreement took effect on Feb. 27, Russia released a map that designated “green zones” where its air forces would not strike.

The green zones, according to the Russian Ministry of Defense, corresponded with Syrian opposition groups that had signed on to the ceasefire. Furthermore, Russia stopped bombing the Nusra-controlled areas of northwest Syria, instead focusing on ISIS targets, as Pentagon spokesperson Jeff Davis confirmed on March 14.

Breaking the Ceasefire

But instead of separating themselves from Nusra Front, the U.S.-supported armed opposition joined with Nusra and its jihadist allies in a major offensive aimed at destroying the ceasefire.

Charles Lister, a leading British specialist on the jihadists in Syria, has recounted being told by the commander of a U.S.-backed armed group that around March 20, Nusra officials began a round of meetings with non-jihadist opposition groups from Hama, Latakia and southern Aleppo — including those supported by the United States — to persuade them to participate in a major offensive against the Assad regime, rather than in a ceasefire and political negotiations.

News media did not ignore the offensive launched on April 3 by Nusra Front and its “moderate” allies. The Los Angeles Times (4/4/16) described a “punishing attack” by Nusra and several “so-called moderate rebel factions” on the town of Al Eis, southwest of Aleppo, “overlooking the M5 highway, a vital artery connecting the Syrian capital, Damascus, in the southwest of the country, with the government-held city of Homs, in west-central Syria, and Aleppo in the north.”

Associated Press (4/3/16) reported that Nusra Front’s closest ally, Ahrar al Sham, together with U.S.-supported factions had simultaneously “seized government positions in heavy fighting in northwestern Latakia province.” The story quoted Zakariya Qaytaz of the U.S.-supported Division 13 brigade as telling the agency through Twitter: “The truce is considered over. This battle is a notice to the regime.”

The Nusra-led offensive was a decisive violation of the ceasefire, which effectively frustrated the intention of isolating the jihadists. It led to continued high levels of fighting in the three areas where it had taken place, and Russian planes returned to Nusra Front-controlled territory for the first time in nearly six weeks. Yet after the first reports on the offensive, its very existence vanished from media coverage of Syria.

Disappearing Key Facts

No U.S. newspaper followed up over the next two weeks to analyze its significance in terms of U.S. policy, especially in light of the role of “legitimate” armed opposition groups in trashing the ceasefire.

Wall Street Journal correspondent Sam Dagher (4/4/16)  suggested in his initial report on the offensive that it was a response to a Syrian air force airstrike in an opposition-controlled suburb of Damascus two days earlier, which activists said killed 30 civilians. But the offensive was so complex and well-organized that it had obviously been prepared well in advance of that strike.

None of the other papers sought to portray the offensive as the result of a pattern of increasing military pressure on the Nusra Front or its allies. In fact, after the initial reports, all four major newspapers — the New York Times, LA Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post — simply ignored the fact that the offensive had been carried out.

On April 19, three separate articles presented three variants of what became the broad media approach to explaining the fate of the ceasefire agreement. The Journal’s Nour Malas and Sam Dagher wrote: “A limited truce in Syria, brokered by the US and Russia in late February, has unraveled in recent weeks, with government forces escalating attacks on several fronts and rebels relaunching operations around the northern city of Aleppo.”

That formulation clearly suggested that either the regime had moved first, or that government and rebels had somehow both taken the offensive at the same moment; the former interpretation was encouraged by the headline, “Syrian Government Steps Up Airstrikes.”

On the same day, New York Times Beirut correspondent Anne Barnard wrote a piece focused mainly on regime airstrikes in two Idlib towns, Maarat al Numan and Kafr Nable, that had killed many as 40 civilians.

Barnard’s piece was headlined, “Ceasefire Crumbles as Bombings Kill Dozens” — suggesting that the airstrikes had somehow led to the “crumbling.” Barnard did refer to an otherwise unidentified “insurgent offensive” that preceded the strikes, but did not draw any causal relationship between it and the bombing.

The article cited the opposition claim that the government had repeatedly violated the partial ceasefire, but didn’t cite a single concrete instance of such a violation. And it appears to contradict that argument by observing that the Idlib airstrikes had ended “the relative respite from airstrikes that had lasted nearly two months” – i.e., from the time the ceasefire had gone into effect.

Yet a third article to appear that day, published by Reuters, explicitly asserted that the regime airstrike on a crowded market by Syrian planes to which Barnard referred was the cause of the failure of the partial ceasefire.

“Syrian peace talks appeared all but doomed on Tuesday,” it said, “after airstrikes killed about 40 people in a crowded vegetable market in rebel territory, with the opposition saying a truce was finished and it would keep out of negotiations indefinitely.”

Wrapping Up the Distortions

Finally, on April 27, Karen DeYoung, associate editor of the Washington Post, wrote a news analysis piece looking back on what happened to the ceasefire. The piece never mentioned the major Nusra Front offensive in which U.S.-supported armed groups had played a key role, passing on instead the distorted explanation of the fate of the ceasefire offered by national security bureaucrats.

“Some Defense Department and intelligence officials,” she wrote, “think Russia and its Syrian government client are clearly violating the ceasefire and provoking the opposition into doing the same.”

Like the three April 19 articles, DeYoung focused entirely on military moves taken by the regime more than two weeks after the joint Nusra/opposition April offensive. She cited the Syrian government bombing of Kafr Nabl and Maarat al Numan the previous week, asserting that the towns were “heavily bombed by Assad after rebel forces threw out Nusra occupiers and civilians took to the streets in anti-Assad demonstrations.”

But that characterization of the situation in the two towns, clearly aimed to support the notion that they were free of Nusra control, was false. In fact, Kafr Nabl had formerly been the home of the U.S.-backed Division 13, but far from having been thrown out, Nusra Front had reasserted its direct control over the towns in mid-March, kicking Division 13 out of its base and seizing its U.S.-supplied weapons after a fight over the larger town Maarat al Numan.

DeYoung went so far as to embrace the CIA/Pentagon bureaucrats’ argument that the United States should not have agreed to allow any attacks on Nusra Front in the ceasefire agreement.

“The Nusra ceasefire exception had already left a hole big enough for the Syrian government and Russia to barrel through,” she wrote, “and they have not hesitated to do so in pursuit of regaining the initiative on the ground for Assad.”

The implication of the argument is that the United States should do nothing to interfere with Nusra’s capacity to strike at the Assad regime. Thus DeYoung quoted an analyst for the Institute for the Study of War, which favors a more belligerent U.S. policy in Syria, dismissing the military collaboration by U.S.-supported groups with Nusra Front as not really significant, because it is only “tactical,” and that Nusra merely offers to help those allies “retaliate” against regime attacks, rather than seeking a military solution to the conflict.

Such arguments are merely shallow rationalizations, however, for the preference of hardliners in Washington for pitting Al Qaeda’s military power against Russia and its Syrian client, enhancing the power position of the U.S. national security state in Syria.

A Simplistic Summary

As more time passes, the media version of why the partial ceasefire failed has become even more simplistic and distorted. On July 12, DeYoung revisited the issue in the context of the Obama administration’s negotiations with Russia on military cooperation against Nusra Front. This time she portrayed the ceasefire quite starkly as the victim of Syrian and Russian bombing:

“Despite a ceasefire ostensibly in effect since February, Syrian planes have kept up a steady bombardment of both civilian and opposition sites — where they have argued that Al Nusra forces, exempt from the truce, are mixed with rebel groups covered by the accord. After observing the early weeks of the ceasefire, Russian planes joined the Syrian forces, including in an offensive last weekend that took over the only remaining supply route for both rebels and civilians hunkered down in the northern city of Aleppo.”

Playing the role of ultimate media arbiter of how the attentive public is to understand the pivotal issue of why the ceasefire failed, DeYoung has deleted from memory the essential facts. In her narrative, there was no Nusra Front plan to destroy the ceasefire, and no April Nusra offensive to seize strategic territory south of Aleppo with the full participation of U.S.-supported opposition groups.

The lesson of the Syrian ceasefire episode is clear: The most influential news media have virtually complete freedom to shape the narrative surrounding a given issue simply by erasing inconvenient facts from the story line. They can do that even when the events or facts have been reported by one or more of those very news media.

In the world of personal access and power inhabited by those who determine what will be published and what won’t, even the most obviously central facts are disposable in the service of a narrative that maintains necessary relationships.

August 13, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Saudi Arabia providing banned chemical munitions to Nusra Front’

Press TV – May 19, 2016

A senior European official says Saudi Arabia is providing members of the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front with internationally-banned chemical weapons.

Secretary General of the European Department for Security and Information (DESI) Haitham Abu Said the terrorists regularly use the munitions in their attacks against Syrian civilians.

Abu Said said Wednesday that the ammunition are being supplied to the extremists monthly under a plan drawn up in Bulgaria, and sneaked into Syria through militant-held areas on the border with Jordan.

Abu Said further noted that Nusra Front terrorists have on a number of occasions used weapons containing chemical agents against Syrians, most recently in the strategic northwestern province of Aleppo.

He added that international organizations have recorded several such incidents in the past.

The remarks come as the Russian Defense Ministry said that several trucks, carrying improvised chemical weapons, have been transported to Aleppo from neighboring Idlib.

“The arms are said to contain chlorine-based toxins,” the ministry said in a statement.

On May 3, Director General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Ahmet Uzumcu said that the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group might have already used chemical weapons both in Iraq and Syria.

Uzumcu said fact-finding teams from The Hague-based watchdog had discovered evidence that suggest the use of sulfur mustard in attacks in the two crisis-hit Arab countries.

“Although they could not attribute this to Daesh… there are strong suspicions that they may have used” chemical weapons, Uzumcu said.

On April 7, 23 people were killed and over 100 others injured in a chemical attack by Daesh terrorists against members of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the city of Aleppo.

Videos posted online purportedly show yellow gas rising over Sheikh Maqsood neighborhood in Aleppo, some 355 kilometers (220 miles) north of Damascus.

The development came only three days after al-Ikhbariyah Syria satellite television network reported that Daesh had fired a barrage of rockets, carrying mustard gas, at a Syrian military airport in the eastern city of Dayr al-Zawr.

According to a report by the Syrian-American Medical Society, Daesh has carried out more than 160 attacks involving “poisonous or asphyxiating agents, such as sarin, chlorine, and mustard gas” since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011.

At least 1,491 people have been killed in the chemical attacks.

In August 2013, hundreds of people were also killed in a chemical attack in the Ghouta suburb of Damascus. According to reports, the rockets used in the assault were handmade and contained sarin.

May 19, 2016 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

US Role as State Sponsor of Terrorism Implied in US Congressional Research Service Report on Syria Conflict

By Stephen Gowans | what’s left | January 10, 2016

The implication of a report written for the US Congress is that the United States is a state sponsor of terrorism in Syria. At the same time, the report challenges widely held beliefs about the conflict, including the idea that the opposition has grass-roots support and that the conflict is a sectarian war between Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s Alawite sect and the majority Sunnis.

Written in October 2015, the report was prepared by the Congressional Research Service, an arm of the United States Library of Congress. The Congressional Research Service provides policy and legal analysis to committees and members of the US House and Senate.

Titled “Armed Conflict in Syria: Overview and US Response,” the report reveals that:

1. The Syrian conflict is between Islamists and secularists, not Sunnis and Alawites.

Media reports often emphasize the dominant Sunni character of the rebels who have taken up arms against the Syrian government, while depicting the Syrian government as Alawite-led. What is almost invariably overlooked is that the largest Sunni fighting force in Syria is the country’s army. Yes, the rebels are predominantly Sunni, but so too are the Syrian soldiers they’re fighting. As Congress’s researchers point out, “most rank and file military personnel have been drawn from the majority Sunni Arab population and other (non-Alawite) minority groups” (p. 7). Also: “Sunni conscripts continue to fight for Assad” (p. 12). Rather than being a battle between two different sects, the conflict is a struggle, on the one hand, between Sunni fundamentalists who want to impose their version of Islam on Syrian politics and society, and on the other hand, Syrians, including Sunnis, who embrace a vision of a secular, non-sectarian government.

2. The Syrian Opposition Coalition is dominated by Islamists and is allied with foreign enemies of Syria.

According to the report, the Syrian National Council (whose largest member is the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood) is the “largest constituent group” of the Syrian Opposition Coalition (SOC). The SOC is based “in Turkey and considered to be close to foreign opponents of Assad.” (p. 14) The Muslim Brotherhood seeks to base political rule on the Quran, which it sees as divinely inspired, rather than on a secular constitution.

3. “Political opposition coalitions appear to lack…grass roots support” (p. 27).

This is consistent with the findings of a public opinion poll taken last summer by a research firm that is working with the US and British governments. That poll found that Assad has more support than the forces arrayed against him.

Syrians rally for Assad,  October, 2011.

Syrians rally for Assad, October, 2011.

The survey, conducted by ORB International, a company which specializes in public opinion research in fragile and conflict environments, found that 47 percent of Syrians believe that Assad has a positive influence in Syria, compared to only 35 percent for the Free Syrian Army and 26 percent for the SOC. [1]An in-country face-to-face ORB poll conducted in May 2014 arrived at similar conclusions. That poll found that more Syrians believed the Assad government best represented their interests and aspirations than believed the same about any of the opposition groups. [2]

According to the poll, only six percent believed that the “genuine” rebels represented their interests and aspirations, while the ‘National Coalition/transitional government,” a reference to the SOC, drew even less support, at only three percent.

Assad has repeatedly challenged the notion that he lacks popular support, pointing to his government surviving nearly five years of war against forces backed by the most powerful states on the planet. It’s impossible to realistically conceive of his government’s survival under these challenging circumstances, he argues, without its having the support of a sizeable part of its population. [3]

4. A moderate opposition doesn’t exist. The United States is trying to build one to act as its partner.

The report refers to US efforts to create partners in Syria, a euphemism for puppets who can be relied upon to promote US interests.

“Secretary of Defense Carter described the ‘best’ scenario for the Syrian people as one that would entail an agreed or managed removal of Assad and the coalescence of opposition forces with elements of the remaining Syrian state apparatus as U.S. partners ….” (emphasis added, pp. 15-16).

Also: The Pentagon “sought to…groom and support reliable leaders to serve as U.S partners…” (emphasis added, p. 23).

To create partners, the United States is engaged in the project of building a “moderate” opposition. According to the report:

“On June 18, Secretary of Defense Carter said, ‘…the best way for the Syrian people for this to go would be for him to remove himself from the scene and there to be created, difficult as it will be, a new government of Syria based on the moderate opposition that we have been trying to build…” (emphasis added, footnote, p. 16).

In the report summary the researchers write that US strategy seeks to avoid “inadvertently strengthening Assad, the Islamic State, or other anti-U.S. armed Islamist groups” (emphasis added.) What’s left unsaid is that armed Islamist groups that are not immediately anti-U.S. may be looked upon favorably by US strategy. However, that “political opposition coalitions…appear to lack grass-roots support,” and that Washington can’t rely on an already-formed moderate opposition but needs to build one, shows that the set of rebels on which the US can rely to act as US partners who will rule with elements of the existing Syrian state in a post-Assad Syria is virtually empty. The conclusion is substantiated by the failure of a now-abandoned Pentagon program to train and equip vetted rebel groups. Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, the top American commander in the Middle East, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that despite the Pentagon spending $500 million training and equipping “moderate” rebels, only “four or five” were “in the fight.” [4] As the Wall Street Journal observed in late December, moderate rebels don’t exist. They’ve either been absorbed into Jabhat al-Nusra, Ahrah al-Sham and ISIS—the extremist terrorist groups which dominate the opposition—or were Islamist militants all along. [5]

5. The United States is arming sectarian terrorists indirectly and possibly directly and covertly.

The report points out that not only has the Pentagon openly trained and equipped rebels, but that the United States has also covertly armed them. According to the Congress’s researchers:

“Then Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said in a September 2013 hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the Administration was taking steps to provide arms to some Syrian rebels under covert action authorities” (p. 23).

Also:

“Secretary Hagel said, ‘it was June of this year that the president made the decision to support lethal assistance to the opposition….we, the Department of Defense, have not been involved in this. This is, as you know, a covert action’” (footnote, p.23).

If the United States was prepared to overtly arm some rebel groups, why is it covertly arming others? A not unreasonable hypothesis is that it is arming some rebel groups covertly because they have been designated as terrorist organizations. To be sure, a number of press reports have revealed that rebels who have received training and arms from the United States are operating with terrorist groups in Syria. According to the Wall Street Journal, “insurgents who have been trained covertly by the Central Intelligence Agency…are enmeshed with or fighting alongside more hard-line Islamist groups, including the Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s Syria affiliate” [6]. Another report from the same newspaper notes that “al-Nusra has fought alongside rebel units which the U.S. and its regional allies have backed” [7]. A third report refers to collaboration between “CIA-backed Free Syrian army factions and extremist elements such as Nusra Front and Ahrar al Sham” [8]. Let’s be clear. Anyone who is enmeshed with and fighting alongside Al-Qaeda is a terrorist.

terroristAccording to Congress’s researchers, weapons the US furnished to selected groups have made their way to jihadists. “Some Syrian opposition groups that have received U.S. equipment and weaponry to date have surrendered or lost these items to other groups, including to extremist groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra” (p. 23).

When you consider that, as The Washington Post reported, “the CIA has trained and equipped nearly 10,000 fighters sent into Syria over the past several years” [9] and that, at best, there are 700, and more likely only 70 “moderate” rebels in Syria [10], then the bulk of the large rebel force the CIA has trained and equipped is very likely made up of Islamist extremists. Concealing this shameful reality from the US public is probably the principal reason the program is covert.

6. Washington wants to contain ISIS, but not eliminate it, in order to maintain military pressure on the Syrian government.

Based on the US coalition’s less than vigorous air campaign against ISIS, many observers have questioned whether the United States is at all serious about eliminating ISIS just yet, and is simply trying to contain it, to keep pressure on the Syrian government. For example, veteran Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk says: “I don’t think the U.S. is serious. Very occasionally, you can hear the rumble of American bombs. But they’re certainly not having much effect.” [11]

One day, soon after Russia began air operations in Syria, journalist Patrick Cockburn noted that “Russian planes carried out 71 sorties and 118 air strikes against Islamic fighters in Syria over the past two days compared to just one air strike by the US-led coalition – and this single strike, against a mortar position, was the first for four days.” [12] After ISIS captured Palmyra, and pushed into Aleppo, the US coalition did nothing to push back the ISIS advance, leading even rebels to question “the U.S.’s commitment to containing the group.” [13] Assad too has expressed scepticism about whether the United States is serious about destroying ISIS, pointing to the terrorist organization’s continued successes in Syria, despite the US coalition’s presumed war against it. “Since this coalition started to operate,” observed the Syrian president, “ISIS has been expanding. In other words, the coalition has failed and it has no real impact on the ground.” [14]

A tepid approach to fighting ISIS in Syria would fit with US president Barack Obama’s stated goal of degrading the Al-Qaeda offspring organization. Destroying it may be an ultimate goal, to be achieved after ISIS has served the purpose of weakening the Syrian government. But for now, the United States appears to be willing to allow ISIS to continue to make gains in Syria. The Congressional Research Service report concurs with this view: It concludes that “U.S. officials may be concerned that a more aggressive campaign against the Islamic State may take military pressure off the” Syrian government (p. 19).

By contrast, Moscow has pursued a more vigorous war against ISIS, and for an obvious reason. Unlike Washington, it seeks to prop up its Syrian ally, not give ISIS room to weaken it. It should be additionally noted that Russia’s military operations in Syria are legal, carried out with the permission of the Syrian government. By contrast, the US coalition has brazenly flouted international law to enter Syrian airspace without Damascus’s assent. It has, in effect, undertaken an illegal invasion and committed a crime of aggression, compounded by its training and arming of terrorists.

Conclusion

The report says that in the absence of grass-roots support for political opposition coalitions in Syria, the United States is relying on a number of tactics to pressure the current government in Syria to step down, including:

• Keeping ISIS alive as a tool to sustain military pressure on Damascus.
• Arming jihadist groups indirectly and (we can assume) directly (albeit covertly) to pressure Assad.
• Seeking to create a moderate opposition that will act as a US partner.
• Trying to co-opt parts of the existing Syrian state to take a partnership role in governing a post-Assad Syria.

The implication of points 1 and 2 is that the United States—as the trainer of, and supplier of arms, to rebels who are enmeshed with and fighting alongside Al-Qaeda in Syria, and in keeping ISIS alive, in order to use these terrorist organizations to achieve its political goal of installing a US-partner government in Syria—is a state sponsor of terrorism.

1. http://www.opinion.co.uk/perch/resources/syriadata.pdf

2. http://www.opinion.co.uk/perch/resources/syriadatatablesjuly2014.pdf

3. “President al-Assad: Russia’s policy towards Syria is based on values and interests, the West is not serious in fighting terrorists,” Syrian Arab News Agency, December 11, 2015, http://sana.sy/en/?p=63857

4. Philip Shishkin, “U.S. weighs talks with Russia on military activity in Syria,” The Wall Street Journal, September 16, 2015.

5. Stuart Rollo,“Turkey’s dangerous game in Syria,” The Wall Street Journal, December 28, 2015.

6. Anne Barnard and Michael R. Gordon, “Goals diverge and perils remain as U.S. and Turkey take on ISIS,” The New York Times, July 27, 2015.

7. Farnaz Fassihi, “U.N. Security Council unanimously votes to adopt France’s counterterrorism resolution,” The Wall Street Journal, November 20, 2015.

8. Sam Dagher, “Syria’s Bashar al-Assad Tries to Force the West to Choose Between Regime, Islamic State,” The Wall Street Journal, October 9, 2015.

9. Greg Miller and Karen DeYoung, “Secret CIA effort in Syria faces large funding cut,” The Washington Post, June 12, 2015.

10. Robert Fisk, “Is David Cameron planning to include al-Qaeda’s Jabhat al-Nusra in his group of 70,000 moderates?”, The Independent, December 1, 2015.

11. Thomas Walkom, “Journalist Robert Fisk explains why Canada should abandon ISIS war,” The Toronto Star, September 25, 2015.

12. Patrick Cockburn, “Russia in Syria: Air strikes pose twin threat to Turkey by keeping Assad in power and strengthening Kurdish threat,” The Independent, October 28, 2015.

13. Raja Abdulrahim, “Islamic State advances further into Syria’s Aleppo province,” The Wall Street Journal, June 1, 2015.

14. “President Assad’s interview with Russian media outlets, Syrian Arab News Agency, September 16, 2015 http://sana.sy/en/?p=54857

January 21, 2016 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

US/Israeli/Saudi ‘Behavior’ Problems

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | July 15, 2015

There is a madness in how the mainstream U.S. media presents the world to the American people, a delusional perspective that arguably creates an existential threat to humanity’s survival. We have seen this pattern in the biased depiction of the Ukraine crisis and now in how Official Washington is framing the debate over the Iranian nuclear agreement.

In this American land of make-believe, Iran is assailed as the chief instigator of instability in the Middle East. Yet, any sane and informed person would dispute that assessment, noting the far greater contributions made by Israel, Saudi Arabia and, indeed, the United States.

Israel’s belligerence, including frequently attacking its Arab neighbors and brutally repressing the Palestinians, has roiled the region for almost 70 years. Not to mention that Israel is a rogue nuclear state that has been hiding a sophisticated atomic-bomb arsenal.

An objective observer also would note that Saudi Arabia has been investing its oil wealth for generations to advance the fundamentalist Wahhabi sect of Sunni Islam, which has inspired terrorist groups from Al Qaeda to the Islamic State. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were identified as Saudis and the U.S. government is still concealing those 28 pages of the congressional 9/11 inquiry regarding Saudi financing of Al Qaeda terrorists.

The Saudis also have participated directly and indirectly in regional wars, including encouragement of Iraq’s invasion of Iran in 1980, support for Al Qaeda-affiliate Nusra Front’s subversion of Syria, and the current Saudi bombardment of Yemen, killing hundreds of civilians, touching off a humanitarian crisis and helping Al Qaeda’s Yemeni affiliate expand its territory.

U.S. Meddling

Then there’s the United States, which has been meddling in the Middle East overtly and covertly for a very long time, including one of the CIA’s first covert operations, the overthrow of Iran’s elected government in 1953, and one of U.S. foreign policy’s biggest overt blunders, President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The Iran coup engendered a deep-seated hatred and suspicion of the U.S. government among Iranians that extends to the present day. And, the Iraq invasion not only spread death and destruction across Iraq but has spilled over into Syria, where U.S. “allies” – Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Israel – have been seeking another “regime change” that is being spearheaded by Sunni terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and the Islamic State.

The U.S. government has further aided in the destabilization of the region by flooding U.S. “allies” with powerful military equipment, including aircraft that both Israel and Saudi Arabia have used to bomb neighboring countries.

Yet, in the fantasy land that is Official Washington, the politicians and pundits decry “Iranian aggression,” parroting the propaganda theme dictated by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he spoke before an adoring audience of senators and congressmen at a joint session of Congress on March 3.

This Iranian “bad behavior” includes helping the Iraqi government withstand brutal attacks by the Islamic State and assisting the Syrian government in blocking a major victory for Islamic terrorism that would follow the fall of Damascus. Iran is also being blamed for the Houthi uprising in Yemen although most informed observers believe the Iranian influence and assistance are minimal.

In other words, the neoconservatives who dominate Official Washington’s “group think” may detest Iran’s regional activities since they are not in line with Israeli (and Saudi) desires, but less ideological analysts might conclude that – on balance – Iran is contributing to the stability of the region or at least helping to avert the worst outcomes.

A Lost Mind

The question becomes: Has Official Washington so lost its collective mind that it actually favors Al Qaeda or the Islamic State raising the black flag of Islamic terrorism over Damascus and even Baghdad? Is Iranian assistance in averting such a calamity such a terrible thing?

Apparently yes. Here’s how The Washington Post’s foreign affairs honcho David Ignatius – in a column entitled “Will Tehran Behave?” – describes the geopolitical situation following Tuesday’s signing of a deal to tightly constrain Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for lifting sanctions:

“The problem isn’t the agreement but Iran itself. Its behavior remains defiantly belligerent, even as it signs an accord pledging to be peaceful. Its operatives subvert neighboring regimes, even as their front companies are about to be removed from the sanctions lists. The agreement welcomes Iran to the community of nations, even though its leader proclaims that Iran is a revolutionary cause.

“Obama argues that dealing with a menacing Iran will be easier if the nuclear issue is off the table for the next 10 years. He’s probably right, but the Iran problem won’t vanish with this accord. Iranian behavior in the region becomes the core issue. Having played the dealmaker, Obama must now press Iran to become a more responsible neighbor.”

By the way, I always thought that the United States proclaimed itself “a revolutionary cause.” But here is Ignatius, who is regarded as a “big thinker,” setting the parameters of the acceptable debate about the Iran nuclear deal. It’s all about Iran’s “behavior.”

Ignatius even quotes Netanyahu decrying the danger that, after 10 years, the agreement will give Iran “a sure path to nuclear weapons.” Of course, Ignatius doesn’t bother to note that Israel already has taken its own path to nuclear weapons. That context is almost never mentioned.

Nor does Ignatius admit how he and many of his fellow pundits supported Bush’s invasion of Iraq, which in a normal, parallel universe would disqualify Ignatius and his friends from lecturing anyone about how to “behave.” But in today’s Official Washington, a pre-war endorsement of the Iraq disaster is not a disqualifier but a prerequisite for being taken seriously.

Similarly, The Washington Post’s editorial page, which in 2002-03 eagerly backed Bush’s invasion and routinely asserted as flat fact that Iraq possessed hidden WMD stockpiles, now says the real risk in the Iran deal is, you guessed it, “Iranian behavior.”

The Post says the deal could unleash “a dangerous threshold nuclear state that poses a major threat to the United States and its allies.” And, the Post warns that Iran’s “leaders will probably use” the money from the sanctions relief “to finance wars and terrorist groups in Iraq, Syria, the Gaza Strip, Yemen and elsewhere.”

Step into Crazy Land

Again, to appreciate the Post’s thinking, you have to step into crazy land. In the real Iraq and the real Syria, the Iranians are supporting internationally recognized governments battling against terrorist groups, Al Qaeda’s affiliate and the Islamic State.

In Yemen, Iranian involvement is probably minor at most. Plus, the Houthis are not a terrorist group, but rather an indigenous popular movement that has been fighting Al Qaeda’s terrorist affiliate in Yemen.

While it’s not clear what the Post thinks that Iran is doing in the Gaza Strip, which is under a tight Israeli military blockade, only fully committed neocons would think that the long-suffering people of the Gaza Strip don’t deserve some outside help.

Still, the larger issue for the American people is what to do with this insane political-media system that dominates Official Washington. Either these powers-that-be are detached from reality or they are deceitful propagandists who think they can manipulate us with lies and distortions.

Yet, by creating a false reality, whether from madness or cynicism, this system guides the nation into terrible decision-making. And, given the immense military power of the United States, this long national detour into a dark psychosis of delusion must be addressed or the future of humankind will be put into serious jeopardy.

~

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

July 16, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The World Rebukes Netanyahu

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | July 14, 2015

In a rare rebuke to his bullying, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to stop the United States and five other world powers from reaching an agreement to constrain but not eliminate Iran’s nuclear program. Yet, Netanyahu still is dominating how the U.S. public and congressional debate is being framed, with Iran accused of regional “aggression” in four countries.

On Tuesday, a recurring theme on U.S. news broadcasts, such as Andrea Mitchell’s MSNBC program, was that any lifting of economic sanctions against Iran will give it more money to engage in trouble-making in the Middle East with references to four nations – Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen – a central theme in Netanyahu’s speech on March 3 to a joint session of the U.S. Congress.

To repeated standing ovations from U.S. senators and congressmen, Netanyahu declared: “In the Middle East, Iran now dominates four Arab capitals, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sanaa. And if Iran’s aggression is left unchecked, more will surely follow. So, at a time when many hope that Iran will join the community of nations, Iran is busy gobbling up the nations. We must all stand together to stop Iran’s march of conquest, subjugation and terror.”

Netanyahu’s reference to “Iran’s aggression,” which is now becoming a conventional-wisdom talking point in Official Washington, was curious since Iran has not invaded another country for centuries. In 1980, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq – at the urging of Saudi Arabia – invaded Iran. But Iran has not invaded any of the four countries that Netanyahu cited.

One of Netanyahu’s citations of Arab cities supposedly conquered by Iran was particularly strange: Baghdad, which is the capital of Iraq where the U.S. military invaded in 2003 to overthrow Saddam Hussein and his Sunni-dominated government, on Netanyahu’s recommendation. In other words, Iraq was conquered not by Iranian “aggression” but by U.S. aggression with the support of Israel.

After the Iraq invasion, President George W. Bush installed a Shiite-dominated government which then developed friendly ties to Iran’s Shiite government. So, whatever influence Iran has in Baghdad is the result of a U.S. invasion that Netanyahu personally encouraged.

More recently, Iran has helped the embattled Iraqi government in its struggle against the murderous Islamic State militants who seized large swaths of Iraqi territory last summer. Indeed, Iraqi officials have credited Iran with playing a crucial role in blunting the Islamic State, the terrorists whom President Barack Obama has identified as one of the top security threats facing the United States.

So, in the current Iraqi fight against the head-chopping Islamic State, Iran and the United States are on the same side. Yet, Netanyahu calls Iran’s help “aggression” – and American talking heads repeat that refrain.

Netanyahu also cited Damascus, where Iran has aided the Syrian government in its struggle against the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front. That means that Iran is assisting the internationally recognized government of Syria hold off two major terrorist organizations. By contrast, Israel and Saudi Arabia have provided direct and indirect help at least to Nusra. [See Consortiumnews.com’sDid Money Seal Israel-Saudi Alliance?”]

The Israeli prime minister also mentioned Beirut, Lebanon, and Sanaa, Yemen, but those were rather bizarre references, too, since Lebanon is governed by a multi-ethnic arrangement that includes a number of religious and political factions. Hezbollah is one and it has close ties to Iran, but it is stretching the truth to say that Iran “dominates” Beirut or Lebanon.

Similarly, in Sanaa, the Houthis, a Shiite-related sect, have taken control of Yemen’s capital and have reportedly received some help from Iran, but the Houthis deny those reports and are clearly far from under Iranian control. The Houthis also have vowed to work with the Americans to carry on the fight against Yemen’s Al-Qaeda affiliate, which has benefitted from a brutal Saudi bombing campaign against Houthi targets, an act of real aggression that has killed hundreds of civilians and provoked a humanitarian crisis.

Indeed, Iran and these various Shiite-linked movements have been among the most effective in battling Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, while Israel’s Saudi friends have been repeatedly linked to funding and supporting these Sunni terrorist organizations.

So, there is little truth and much exaggeration to Netanyahu’s depiction of what is going on in the Middle East. Yet, the U.S. mainstream media mindlessly reprises Netanyahu’s falsehood about Iran “gobbling up” nations.

~

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

July 14, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 5 Comments