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Resistance Groups Likely to Start Imminent Missile Attack on US Positions in Region

FARS News Agency | January 10, 2020

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Islamic resistance groups are standing on alert for likely imminent attacks on the US military positions in the region after Thursday attacks on Eastern Syria.

Sources close to the Resistance Front said the resistance groups are preparing for pending response to last night’s attack on Syria and other terrorist actions of the US government.

The local media reported on Thursday night that a strong explosion occurred near Iraq’s border with Syria in the town of al-Qaem. Reports said the blast came after the recent US airstrikes on Syria.

On Wednesday, the IRGC Aerospace Force launched heavy ballistic missile attacks on US Ein Al-Assad airbase in Southwestern Iraq near the border with Syria and a US operated airbase in Erbil in retaliation for the assassination of General Soleimani.

Ein Al-Assad is an airbase with a 4km runway at 188m altitude above sea level, which is the main and the largest US airbase in Iraq. Early reports said the radar systems and missile defense shields in Ein Al-Assad had failed to operate and intercept the Iranian missiles. Unofficial reports said the US army’s central radar systems at Ein Al-Assad had been jammed by electronic warfare.

Some 80 US army personnel were killed and nearly 200 more wounded in Iran’s Wednesday missile attacks, informed sources said.

The second IRGC reprisal attack targeted a US military base near Erbil airport in Iraqi Kurdistan Region in the second leg of “Martyr Soleimani” reprisal operation.

All flights were cancelled at Erbil airport.

Iraq said the attacks had not taken any toll from its army men stationed at these two bases. The US army had blocked entrance into Ein Al-Assad to everyone, including the Iraqi army.

IRGC officials said none of the missiles had been intercepted.

Following the attack, the IRGC issued a statement immediately after the attacks, declaring that it had fired tens of ground-to-ground missiles at “the airbase occupied by the terrorist and aggressive army of the United States known as Ein Al-Assad” in reprisal for the martyrdom of IRGC Qods Force Commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani.

The IRGC warned the US to avoid retaliating the Wednesday attack or else “it will face a more painful and crushing response”.

The IRGC Statement also warned “all the US allied states where the terrorist army has a base, any territory that becomes the origin of any hostile and aggressive action against the Islamic Republic of Iran in any way will be targeted”.

“We believe that the Zionist regime by no means stands aside from the criminal US regime in these crimes.”

The IRGC also called on the American nation to pressure the White House to pull their troops out of the region to avoid further damage and not allow the US rulers to endanger the lives of their military men through increasing hatred.

All Iranian underground missile towns were on alert.

The missile attack came hours before the body of General Soleimani was laid to rest.

January 10, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , | 2 Comments

The Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act: Why Washington Is Both Corrupt and Ignorant

By Philip Giraldi | Strategic Culture Foundation | January 2, 2020

The creatures that lurk through the corridors of power in Washington DC have refined corruption to the point where almost anything goes and almost no one is ever held accountable. Traditionally, Congressmen reward their various constituencies by inserting riders into larger pieces of legislation that grant money, exemptions or favors to certain groups or individuals. It is sometimes referred to as “pork.” The recent bloated omnibus spending bills totaling $1.4 trillion, which passed through Congress and were signed off on by President Donald Trump, were for the shameless denizens of Capitol Hill a gold mine. The process was so corrupt that even some Senators like Ted Cruz joked that “Christmas came early in Washington. While you were with your family, while you were shopping for Christmas, the lobbyists were spending and spending. I present to you, the massive omnibus bill that Congress is voting on.”

And no one is more corrupt in Congress than some of those at the top of the food chain, where the Speaker and the Minority leader in the House and the Majority and Minority leaders in the Senate have the final say on what gets cut and what remains. The lugubrious Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is one of the most adept at milking the system to buy his continued reelection in a state where he is actually not very popular, with an approval rating of only 37%. Within the current spending bill he has managed to include more than $1 billion worth of federal spending and tax breaks for some choice constituencies among the Kentucky voters. A tax break for the state’s whisky distillers alone came to a projected $426 million for 2020 and there were also breaks for the state’s thoroughbred horse industry as well as hundreds of millions of dollars more for new federal construction.

One can only wish that politicians would actually commit themselves to doing good for the American people, but the sad reality is that they spend so much time raising and distributing money that they only respond to constituents with the deepest pockets or those who make the most noise. Rarely does anyone actually read the bills that are being voted on. Part of the omnibus spending bills was the $738 billion dollar defense policy component, and, as in the case of the larger amounts intended to keep the federal government funded, the devil is frequently found in the details.

One part of the defense spending is called the “Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act,” which is intended to punish Syria and its President Bashar al-Assad with sanctions for alleged crimes committed during the country’s eight year civil war. The Caesar Act is named after a Syrian military photographer who reportedly took and then smuggled tens of thousands of photographs out of the country that provided evidence for claims that war crimes had been carried out by the Syrian government. “Caesar” eventually wound up in Washington where he briefed sympathetic lawmakers on the regime’s alleged crimes.

The Caesar Act will impose new sanctions on Syrian leaders and also on companies, states and even individuals that support the Assad government militarily, financially or technically. It will include placing new sanctions on Russia and Iran. Enab Baladi, a website run by opponents of the al-Assad government praised the move, writing that “[The bill] imposes sanctions on military contractors and mercenaries who are fighting for the Syrian government, Russia, Iran, or any of the parties against which sanctions have been previously imposed.” It also observes that the act would be a “deterrent” for anyone seeking to work with or help the al-Assad regime. The US, for its part, has pledged to support international prosecution of criminals in the Syrian government.

The use of sanctions is reminiscent of recent US action directed against Iran, Russia and Venezuela. Both Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the White House have been boasting of how Iran’s economy is being destroyed through economic warfare and it is clear that the intention is to do the same to Syria. The United States has been destabilizing Syria since the passage of the Syria Accountability Act in 2004. It imposed sanctions on the country even before the 2011 Arab Spring uprising, and they were regularly expanded by the Obama administration prior to the 2016 election.

Treasury Department sanctions have frozen assets of the Syrian government and also of hundreds of companies and individuals. They also ban most interactions with Syria by any US person, which means that anyone traveling to Syria and returning to report favorably on the al-Assad government can be plausibly prosecuted for providing a service to the regime.

To be sure no one is completely blameless amidst the turmoil that has engulfed Syria since 2011. Respectable organizations including Human Rights Watch have been able to identify some of the victims in the Caesar photos and have verified tales of torture and abuse, though it must be observed that fake photos and false testimony are easy to obtain.

But the Syrian regime response to the uprising against its authority is only part of the story, as the violence was fomented largely by Saudi Arabia, and Gulf States and the United States. And by far the worst atrocities against civilians have been committed by the groups actively or tacitly supported by the US, Turkey, the Gulf States and the Saudis, many of which have cooperated openly with the genuine terrorist groups that have been operating in Syria.

There also has to be some question raised about the general credibility of attacks directed against the al-Assad government. It has recently been revealed that both the United Nations Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the US media were pressured to cover-up the fact that Syria did not use chemical weapons against its own civilians in terrorist infested areas. A Newsweek reporter even resigned when he wrote a story seeking to expose the scandal. The magazine had refused to print the piece.

The US sponsored Syrian National Council has been most active in spreading reports about regime activity, much of which has been proven to be little more than propaganda. Caesar’s trip to Washington in 2015 to show his photos was, in fact, sponsored by the SNC and there is a whole series of fabrications spread by a number of groups supported by those who desire regime change in Damascus.

Consider for a moment the Oscar Award winning White Helmets, “the story of real-life heroes and impossible hope.” The group, which cooperates with the terrorist groups operating in its area, travels to bombing sites with its film crews trailing behind it. Once at the sites, with no independent observers, they are able to arrange or even stage what is filmed to conform to their selected narrative. Exploiting their access to the western media, the White Helmets thereby de facto became a major source of “eyewitness” news regarding what was then going on in those many parts of Syria where European and American journalists were quite rightly afraid to go, all part of a broader largely successful “rebel” effort to manufacture fake news that depicts the Damascus government as engaging in war crimes directed against civilians

The mainstream media is a major part of the problem as it generally only reports stories, like the White Helmets, that denigrate the Syrian government and its allies. Watching the recent BBC reporting of the Syrian Army’s push into Idlib province one learns that “Russian backed Syrian groups are attacking Idlib and creating a humanitarian crisis with 230,000 civilians fleeing the fighting.” The only problem with the coverage is that it does not really make clear that Idlib is terrorist occupied territory. Nor does it say where the civilians are fleeing to – nearly all have headed for the safety of Syrian government held areas.

And particularly for those strivers in Congress who are out hustling for money rather than finding out what is really going on in the world, it might be wise to recollect how gullible the Solons on the Potomac have been in the past. Going back to Ahmed Chalabi, who more than any single individual led the US government to believe that the invasion of Iraq would be a cakewalk, there has been a series of disastrous policy choices made after swallowing whole cloth lies and fabrications made by interested parties. Chalabi provided false intelligence on weapons of mass destruction and alleged ties of the Iraqi government to al-Qaeda. It turned out that he was working for several of the sides in the conflict that ensued, including the Iranian government.

And then there is the Magnitsky Act, sponsored by Russia-phobic Zionist Senator Ben Cardin and signed by President Barack Obama in 2012, which continues to be expanded and exploited by virtue of 2016’s Global Magnitsky Act to intervene in countries that are alleged to be human rights violators. In its original iteration, the Magnitsky Act, sanctioned individual Kremlin officials for their treatment of alleged whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky, arrested and imprisoned in Russia. Billionaire Bill Browder has sold a contrived narrative which basically says that he and his “lawyer” Sergei Magnitsky uncovered massive tax fraud and, when they attempted to report it, were punished by a corrupt police force and magistracy, which had actually stolen the money. Magnitsky was arrested and died in prison, allegedly murdered by the police to silence him.

Browder and his apologists portray him as an honest and honorable Western businessman attempting to operate in a corrupt Russian business world. Nevertheless, the loans-for-shares scheme that made him his initial fortune has been correctly characterized as the epitome of corruption by all parties involved, an arrangement whereby foreign investors worked with local oligarchs to strip the former Soviet economy of its assets paying pennies on each dollar of value. Along the way, Browder was reportedly involved in money laundering, making false representations on official documents and bribery.

Browder, who renounced his US citizenship in 1997 reportedly to avoid taxes, has been a frequent visitor to Capitol Hill where he tells congressional committees all about the corrupt and evil President Vladimir Putin. He is also a darling of the completely corrupted mainstream press because he is saying what they want to hear.

So, is the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act just another bit of nonsense, like Chalabi and Magnitsky? Probably, and all it will do is punish the Syrian people by trying to wreck the country’s economy while also limiting the ability of Americans to go independently to the region and see for themselves what is actually going on. It will prolong the pain being experienced by all involved while the legitimate government in Damascus seeks to restore its pre-war borders. It is, unfortunately, a prime example of the United States government in action.

January 2, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Pompeo Holds Talks with Netanyahu, MBS, MBZ on Iraq Strikes

Al-Manar | December 31, 2019

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he had discussions with the UN General Secretary, Israeli Prime Minister, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince over strikes that killed and injured dozens of Iraq’s Hashd Shaabi fighters.

Pompeo tweeted early on Tuesday (December 31) saying he had made clear to the UN General Secretary Antonio Guterres that the US airstrikes on Kata’ib Hezbollah facilities on Sunday were a “defensive action aimed at deterring Iran and protecting American lives”.

The United States launched a series of air attacks Sunday on targets both in Iraq and Syria killing at least 25 Kata’ib Hezbollah fighters and injuring 50 others. Washington claims that the strikes came after rocket attacks on facilities housing US military personnel in the Arab country.

Pompeo also discussed “the attacks on coalition forces” with Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Zayed Al Nahyan, later tweeting that the US “will continue to work together to counter Iran’s destabilizing behavior”.

He told Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, “The US and Saudi Arabia will continue to work together to counter Iran’s malign behavior.”

Pompeo also had a “productive” call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, later tweeting, “We discussed US defensive strikes in Iraq and Syria to counter Iran’s threats. The U.S will take decisive action to defend its citizens and interests.”

December 31, 2019 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | 15 Comments

The OPCW Scandal is Now a Bona fide Cover-up

21st Century Wire | December 30, 2019

Last Friday night saw the fourth round of internally leaked documents found on WikiLeaks from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), showing once again how the organisation’s official report on an alleged 2018 ‘chemical attack’ attack in Douma, Syria – was in fact doctored by the chemical watchdog’s executives in order to justify a three-way attack by the US, UK and France against the Syrian government.

RT International’s Murad Gazdiev reviews the key takeaway points of this latest round of leaks:

December 31, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Video | , | Leave a comment

Narrative Managers Claim White Helmets Founder Was Driven To Suicide By Syria Skeptics

By Caitlin Johnstone | American Herald Tribune | December 29, 2019

Imperialist spinmeisters are trial-ballooning a new Syria narrative that is so breathtakingly stupid it needs its own article solely for the purpose of mockery.

On Christmas Eve PBS aired a bizarre segment on the death of James Le Mesurier, the former military intelligence officer who founded the extremely shady propaganda construct known as the White Helmets. The segment makes relentless, ham-fisted appeals to emotion, even attempting to associate the White Helmets with Armistice Day using wistful camera pans over poppy flowers and misty war memorial art exhibits, but by far the most yogurt-brained part is its repeated suggestions that Le Mesurier killed himself because people had been accusing him of being a propagandist.

“And now a story of a humanitarian trying to help Syria: the suspicious death in Turkey last month of James Le Mesurier, the co-founder of the White Helmets rescue organization in Syria,” opens PBS News Hour‘s Judy Woodruff. “Friends and colleagues fear that he may have been murdered or driven to suicide by a campaign of character assassination.”

“Whatever the cause, Le Mesurier was a victim of a very modern war,” the special’s narrator solemnly intones. “There is no hiding place in cyberspace. Le Mesurier was at the epicenter of a propaganda war, and his friends are appalled at what they regard as a campaign of character assassination.”

“The amount of abuse, the amount of ill-placed propaganda, disinformation that’s on social media and the Internet coming out of Russian bots and Syria, Syrian regime, and others was unbearable,” Col. Hamish de Bretton-Gordon mourns.

This ridiculous narrative was picked up and run with by Syria narrative managers on Twitter.

“On lethal disinformation— a thread,” tweeted virulent Syria narrative manager Idrees Ahmad. “This is a disturbing report by Malcolm Brabant on the lethal consequences of conspiracism. It shows how slander and disinformation may have pushed James Le Mesurier, one of the finest humanitarians, to his death. The report highlights the pernicious lies issuing from the self-described ‘Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media’, which is a small group of academics, none specialising in Syria or the Middle East, in alliance with a group of pro-Kremlin trolls like Vanessa Beeley et al.”

It is true that both Beeley and the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media have accused Le Mesurier of running a propaganda operation on behalf of western governments using western government funding. But if Ahmad truly believed that accusing people of conducting propaganda caused them to kill themselves, he should turn himself in for attempted murder, because he accuses people of being propagandists constantly.

Here’s a link to Ahmad calling journalist Max Blumenthal a “propagandist for Maduro”. Here’s a link to Ahmad calling Beeley a “pro-regime propagandist”. Here’s a link to Ahmad calling award-winning journalist Jonathan Steele “a fabricator and a propagandist”. Here’s a link to Ahmad calling CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou “a propagandist for Putin”.

Talk about “lethal disinformation”, Idrees.

But of course, no one really believes that accusations of conducting propaganda actually drive people to suicide. If they did, people like me would have thrown ourselves off a building years ago.

I am accused of being a propagandist nearly every day. At the height of Russiagate hysteria it happened many times a day in my blog post comments and social media notifications. Depending on what’s in the news and how I’ve responded to it I’ve been accused of writing paid propaganda for the Kremlin, Assad, the Iranian government, Palestinians, Pyongyang, Beijing, Maduro, the alt-right, George Soros, and WikiLeaks, just off the top of my head.

Every anti-imperialist, anti-interventionist, and antiwar activist with any kind of platform has had this experience. Ever since the new McCarthyism of establishment-driven Russia hysteria took off, accusing people who question imperialist narratives of conducting psyops for foreign governments has become the norm in political discourse. It’s created an extremely hostile and vitriolic environment in which productive conversations are vanishingly rare.

Where’s our PBS special? Does anyone care? Is there any compassion from these hand-wringing establishment loyalists for the fact that Vanessa Beeley and the members of the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media are hounded day in and day out by establishment narrative managers and their brainwashed followers with accusations of spreading propaganda, supporting genocide, and embracing war crimes? I know I’ve never had a garment-rending Idrees Ahmad thread written about concerns for my psychological well being, and I’ve been targeted by multiple online harassment campaigns over the years.

The amount of hateful vitriol that gets leveled at people for simply opposing imperialism, for wanting peace, is truly astonishing. Just for saying “Hey here are some reasons we should maybe reconsider toppling yet another government in yet another Middle Eastern nation” will bring in complete strangers calling you all sorts of names, calling you disgusting, calling you evil, calling you a monster. For supporting peace.

There are all kinds of people in the world who are very deserving of harsh words. Powerful exploiters, oppressors and manipulators. People who destroy the environment for profit. People who get rich selling weapons of war while paying politicians and think tanks to advance the cause of war. War criminals who’ve never faced justice. With all those people in the world who we can all agree are terrible, you wouldn’t think peace activists should feature anywhere near the top of anyone’s list. But they do. Because war propaganda is just that influential.

And, of course, nobody cares. None of these narrative managers care about what psychological burden they might be placing on people by assuring their audiences that it’s perfectly sane and normal to hound and harass anyone who questions imperialist propaganda. Their concern is not and has never been about anyone’s psychological health. Their concern is in managing narratives in a way that favors the US-centralized empire that they serve.

I do not know what caused Le Mesurier’s death; to be in any way confident that a known spook committed suicide at all, or was murdered by Russians, is absurd. Maybe he killed himself because he failed to listen to the adage “Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.”

What I absolutely do know, with absolute certainty, is that only idiots believe that skepticism about western regime change agendas in the Middle East kills people.

December 29, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 1 Comment

Senior OPCW official ordered deletion of ‘all traces’ of dissenting report on ‘Douma chemical attack’ – WikiLeaks’ new leak

RT | December 27, 2019

The leadership of the chemical weapons watchdog took efforts to remove the paper trail of a dissenting report from Douma, Syria which pointed to a possible false flag operation there, leaked documents indicate.

In an internal email published by the transparency website WikiLeaks on Friday, a senior official from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) ordered that the document be removed from the organization’s Documents Registry Archive and to “remove all traces, if any, of its delivery/storage/whatever.”

The document in question is a technical assessment written by inspector Ian Henderson after a fact-finding mission to Douma, a suburb of Damascus, in the wake of an alleged chlorine gas attack. Western politicians and media said at the time that the government forces had dropped two gas cylinders as part of an offensive against jihadist forces, killing scores of civilians.

The OPCW inspector said evidence on the ground contradicted the airdropping scenario and that the cylinders could have been placed by hand. Considering that the area was under the control of anti-government forces, the memo lends credence to the theory that the jihadists had staged the scene to prompt Western nations to attack their opponents.

The final report of the watchdog all but confirmed that Damascus was behind the incident, but in the past months an increasing number of leaked documents and whistleblower testimonies have emerged, pointing to a possible fabrication. The OPCW leadership stands accused of withholding opinions contravening the West-favored narrative and using misleading language to report what the inspectors found on the ground.

The alleged email was written by Sebastien Braha, Chief of Cabinet at the OPCW. Its authenticity is yet to be confirmed, but the organization never said any of the previously leaked documents were not real.

Another document published on Friday outlines a meeting with several toxicology experts and their opinions on whether symptoms shown and reported in alleged victims of the attack were consistent with a chlorine gas poisoning. “The experts were conclusive in their statements that there was no correlation between symptoms and chlorine exposure,” the document said, adding that the chief expert suggested that the event could have been “a propaganda exercise.”

The Douma incident in April 2018 spurred Western governments into action, with the US, the UK and France delivering a barrage of missiles at what was dubbed chemical weapons sites in Syria days after. This didn’t prevent the government from seizing control over the neighborhood, but put the reputations of the three governments at stake. The OPCW report gave credence to the Western show of force.

December 27, 2019 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Nobody Is Touching US-Occupied Syrian Oil With a 6 Foot Pole — Saudi Aramco Denies Sending Experts

By Marko Marjanović | Checkpoint Asia | December 26, 2019

Claims emerged last week that Saudi Aramco was looking to get US-occupied oil fields in eastern Syria back to capacity:

 

  

 

 

 

December 26, 2019 Posted by | Deception | , | 2 Comments

US uses ISIS as ‘scarecrow’ to intimidate others, while secretly backing them, Syrian FM tells RT

RT | December 25, 2019

Despite claiming to fight jihadists in Syria, the Americans are gladly using them to further anti-Damascus policies and occasionally giving them a helping hand, the Syrian foreign minister told RT.

“The Americans are using ISIS as a scarecrow,” Minister Walid Muallem said in an interview with RT Arabic. “At the same time they are feeding ISIS, [they] encourage them, protect ISIS leaders and help them move from one area to another.”

“The US policy is aimed at investing into terrorism.”

The Syrian government has long accused the US of fueling groups of foreign Islamist fighters, even those bragging of committing atrocities in Syria, as long as they were willing to fight against the forces loyal to Damascus. Washington claimed its illegal deployment of troops in Syria was aimed at destroying IS, but even after the group was declared defeated the American boots remain on the ground.

The latest public justification coming from the US is that oil in northeastern Syria needs to be “secured” from the defeated jihadists. In practice, the US denies the internationally recognized government of Syria of using the country’s national resources.

Muallem also said the US continues its attempts to topple the government he serves with various measures, including by targeting Damascus with economic sanctions. A new round of those is expected after the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) earlier this month.

Part of the NDAA orders punishment of companies who would help the Syrian government in rebuilding infrastructure and the energy sector – which presumably should not be allowed to happen while President Bashar Assad remains in power.

“All nations that were victimized by this system need to join forces and resist those sanctions,” the Syrian official said.

December 25, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , | 5 Comments

Chemical Weapons Watchdog Is Just an American Lap Dog

By Scott Ritter | TruthDig | December 18, 2019

A spate of leaks from within the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the international inspectorate created for the purpose of implementing the Chemical Weapons Convention, has raised serious questions about the institution’s integrity, objectivity and credibility. The leaks address issues pertaining to the OPCW investigation into allegations that the Syrian government used chemical weapons to attack civilians in the Damascus suburb of Douma on April 7, 2018. These allegations, which originated from such anti-Assad organizations as the Syrian Civil Defense (the so-called White Helmets) and the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), were immediately embraced as credible by the OPCW, and were used by the United States, France and the United Kingdom to justify punitive military strikes against facilities inside Syria assessed by these nations as having been involved in chemical weapons-related activities before the OPCW initiated any on-site investigation.

The Douma incident was initially described by the White Helmets, SAMS and the U.S., U.K. and French governments as involving both sarin nerve agent and chlorine gas. However, this narrative was altered when OPCW inspectors released, on July 6, 2018, interim findings of their investigation that found no evidence of the use of sarin. The focus of the investigation quickly shifted to a pair of chlorine cylinders claimed by the White Helmets to have been dropped onto apartment buildings in Douma by the Syrian Air Force, resulting in the release of a cloud of chlorine gas that killed dozens of Syrian civilians. In March, the OPCW released its final report on the Douma incident, noting that it had “reasonable grounds” to believe “that the use of a toxic chemical as a weapon has taken place on 7 April 2018,” that “this toxic chemical contained reactive chlorine” and that “the toxic chemical was likely molecular chlorine.”

Much has been written about the OPCW inspection process in Syria, and particularly the methodology used by the Fact-Finding Mission (FFM), an inspection body created by the OPCW in 2014 “to establish facts surrounding allegations of the use of toxic chemicals, reportedly chlorine, for hostile purposes in the Syrian Arab Republic.” The FFM was created under the direction of Ahmet Üzümcü, a career Turkish diplomat with extensive experience in multinational organizations, including service as Turkey’s ambassador to NATO. Üzümcü was the OPCW’s third director general, having been selected from a field of seven candidates by its executive council to replace Argentine diplomat Rogelio Pfirter. Pfirter had held the position since being nominated to replace the OPCW’s first director general, José Maurício Bustani. Bustani’s tenure was marred by controversy that saw the OPCW transition away from its intended role as an independent implementor of the Chemical Weapons Convention to that of a tool of unilateral U.S. policy, a role that continues to mar the OPCW’s work in Syria today, especially when it comes to its investigation of the alleged use by the Syrian government of chemical weapons against civilians in Douma in April 2018.

Bustani was removed from his position in 2002, following an unprecedented campaign led by John Bolton, who at the time was serving as the undersecretary of state for Arms Control and International Security Affairs in the U.S. State Department. What was Bustani’s crime? In 2001, he had dared to enter negotiations with the government of Iraq to secure that nation’s entry into the OPCW, thereby setting the stage for OPCW inspectors to visit Iraq and bring its chemical weapons capability under OPCW control. As director general, there was nothing untoward about Bustani’s action. But Iraq circa 2001 was not a typical recruitment target. In the aftermath of the Gulf War in 1991, the U.N. Security Council had passed a resolution under Chapter VII requiring Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD), including its chemical weapons capability, to be “removed, destroyed or rendered harmless” under the supervision of inspectors working on behalf of the United Nations Special Commission, or UNSCOM.

The pursuit of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction led to a series of confrontations with Iraq that culminated in inspectors being ordered out of the country by the U.S. in 1998, prior to a 72-hour aerial attack—Operation Desert Fox. Iraq refused to allow UNSCOM inspectors to return, rightfully claiming that the U.S. had infiltrated the ranks of the inspectors and was using the inspection process to spy on Iraqi leadership for the purposes of facilitating regime change. The lack of inspectors in Iraq allowed the U.S. and others to engage in wild speculation regarding Iraqi rearmament activities, including in the field of chemical weapons. This speculation was used to fuel a call for military action against Iraq, citing the threat of a reconstituted WMD capability as the justification. Bustani sought to defuse this situation by bringing Iraq into the OPCW, an act that, if completed, would have derailed the U.S. case for military intervention in Iraq. Bolton’s intervention included threats to Bustani and his family, as well as threats to withhold U.S. dues to the OPCW accounting for some 22% of that organization’s budget; had the latter threat been implemented, it would have resulted in OPCW’s disbandment.

Bustani’s departure marked the end of the OPCW as an independent organization. Pfirter, Bolton’s hand-picked replacement, vowed to keep the OPCW out of Iraq. In an interview with U.S. media shortly after his appointment, Pfirter noted that while all nations should be encouraged to join the OPCW, “We should be very aware that there are United Nations resolutions in effect” that precluded Iraqi membership “at the expense” of its obligations to the Security Council. Under the threat of military action, Iraq allowed UNMOVIC inspectors to return in 2002; by February 2003, no WMD had been found, a result that did not meet with U.S. satisfaction. In March 2003, UNMOVIC inspectors were withdrawn from Iraq under orders of the U.S., paving the way for the subsequent invasion and occupation of that nation that same month (the CIA later concluded that Iraq had been disarmed of its weapons of mass destruction by the summer of 1991).

Under Pfirter’s leadership, the OPCW became a compliant tool of U.S. foreign policy objectives. By completely subordinating OPCW operations through the constant threat of fiscal ruin, the U.S. engaged in a continuous quid pro quo arrangement, trading the financial solvency of an ostensible multilateral organization for complicity in operating as a de facto extension of American unilateral policy. Bolton’s actions in 2002 put the OPCW and its employees on notice: Cross the U.S., and you will pay a terminal price.

When Üzümcü took over the OPCW’s reins in 2010, the organization was very much the model of multinational consensus, which, in the case of any multilateral organization in which the U.S. plays a critical role, meant that nothing transpired without the express approval of the U.S. and its European NATO allies, in particular the United Kingdom and France. Shortly after he took office, Üzümcü was joined by Robert Fairweather, a career British diplomat who served as Üzümcü’s chief of Cabinet. (While Üzümcü was the ostensible head of the OPCW, the daily task of managing the functioning of the OPCW was that of the chief of Cabinet. In short, nothing transpired within the OPCW without Fairweather’s knowledge and concurrence.)

Üzümcü and Fairweather’s tenure at the OPCW was dominated by Syria, where, since 2011, the government of President Bashar Assad had been engaged in a full-scale conflict with a foreign-funded and -equipped insurgency whose purpose was regime change. By 2013, allegations emerged from both the Syrian government and rebel forces concerning the use of chemical weapons by the other side. In August 2013, the OPCW dispatched an inspection team into Syria as part of a U.N.-led effort, which included specialists from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.N. itself, to investigate allegations that sarin had been used in attack on civilians in the town of Ghouta. While the mission found conclusive evidence that sarin nerve agent had been used, it did not assign blame for the attack.

Despite the lack of causality, the U.S. and its NATO allies quickly assigned blame for the sarin attacks on the Syrian government. To forestall U.S. military action against Syria, the Russian government helped broker a deal whereby the U.S. agreed to refrain from undertaking military action if the Syrian government joined the OPCW and subjected the totality of its chemical weapons stockpile to elimination. In October 2013, the OPCW-U.N. Joint Mission, created under the authority of U.N. Security Council resolution 2118 (2103), began the process of identifying, cataloging, removing and destroying Syria’s chemical weapons. This process was completed in September 2014 (in December 2013, the OPCW was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its disarmament work in Syria).

If the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons was an example of the OPCW at its best, what followed was a case study of just the opposite. In May 2014, the OPCW created the Fact-Finding Mission, or FFM, charged with establishing “facts surrounding allegations of the use of toxic chemicals, reportedly chlorine, for hostile purposes in the Syrian Arab Republic.” The FFM was headed by Malik Ellahi, who served as head of the OPCW’s government relations and political affairs branch. The appointment of someone lacking both technical and operational experience suggests that Ellahi’s primary role was political. Under his leadership, the FFM established a close working relationship with the anti-Assad Syrian opposition, including the White Helmets and SAMS.

In 2015, responsibility for coordinating the work of the FFM with the anti-Assad opposition was transferred to a British inspector named Len Phillips (another element of the FFM, led by a different inspector, was responsible for coordinating with the Syrian government). Phillips developed a close working relationship with the White Helmets and SAMS and played a key role in OPCW’s investigation of the April 2017 chemical incident in Khan Shaykhun. By April 2018, the FFM had undergone a leadership transition, with Phillips replaced by a Tunisian inspector named Sami Barrek. It was Barrek who led the FFM into Syria in April 2018 to investigate allegations of chemical weapons use at Douma. Like Phillips, Barrek maintained a close working relationship with the White Helmets and SAMS.

Once the FFM wrapped up its investigation in Douma, however, it became apparent to Fairweather that it had a problem. There were serious questions about whether chlorine had, in fact, been used as a weapon. The solution, brokered by Fairweather, was to release an interim report that ruled out sarin altogether, but left the door open regarding chlorine. This report was released on July 6, 2018. Later that month, both Üzümcü and Fairweather were gone, replaced by a Spaniard named Fernando Arias and a French diplomat named Sébastien Braha. It would be up to them to clean up the Douma situation.

The situation Braha inherited from Fairweather was unenviable. According to an unnamed OPCW official who spoke with the media after the fact, two days prior to the publication of the interim report, on July 4, 2018, Fairweather had been paid a visit by a trio of U.S. officials, who indicated to Fairweather and the members of the FFM responsible for writing the report that it was the U.S. position that the chlorine cannisters in question had been used to dispense chlorine gas at Douma, an assertion that could not be backed up by the evidence. Despite this, the message that Fairweather left with the OPCW personnel was that there had to be a “smoking gun.” It was now Braha’s job to manufacture one.

Braha did this by dispatching OPCW inspectors to Turkey in September 2018 to interview new witnesses identified by the White Helmets, and by commissioning new engineering studies that better explained the presence of the two chlorine cannisters found in Douma. By March, Braha had assembled enough information to enable the technical directorate to issue its final report. Almost immediately, dissent appeared in the ranks of the OPCW. An engineering report that contradicted the findings published by Braha was leaked, setting off a firestorm of controversy derived from its conclusion that the chlorine cannisters found in Douma had most likely been staged by the White Helmets.

The OPCW, while eventually acknowledging that the leaked report was genuine, explained its exclusion from the final report on the grounds that it attributed blame, something the FFM was not mandated to do. According to the OPCW, the engineering report in question had been submitted to the investigation and identification team, a newly created body within the OPCW mandated to make such determinations. Moreover, Director General Arias stood by the report’s conclusion that it had “reasonable grounds” to believe “that the use of a toxic chemical as a weapon has taken place on 7 April 2018.”

Arias’ explanation came under attack in November, when WikiLeaks published an email sent by a member of the FFM team that had participated in the Douma investigation. In this email, which was sent on June 22, 2018, and addressed to Robert Fairweather, the author noted that, when it came to the Douma incident, “[p]urposely singling out chlorine gas as one of the possibilities is disingenuous.” The author of the email, who had participated in drafting the original interim report, noted that the original text had emphasized that there was insufficient evidence to support this conclusion, and that the new text represented “a major deviation from the original report.” Moreover, the author took umbrage at the new report’s conclusions, which claimed to be “based on the high levels of various chlorinated organic derivatives detected in environmental samples.” According to email’s author “They were, in most cases, present only in parts per billion range, as low as 1-2 ppb, which is essentially trace quantities.” In short, the OPCW had cooked the books, manufacturing evidence from thin air that it then used to draw conclusions that sustained the U.S. position that chlorine gas had been used by the Syrian government at Douma.

Arias, while not addressing the specifics of the allegations set forth in the leaked email, recently declared that it is “the nature of any thorough inquiry for individuals in a team to express subjective views,” noting that “I stand by the independent, professional conclusion” presented by the OPCW about the Douma incident. This explanation, however, does not fly in the face of the evidence. The OPCW’s credibility as an investigative body has been brought into question through these leaks, as has its independent character. If an organization like the OPCW can be used at will by the U.S., the United Kingdom and France to trigger military attacks intended to support regime-change activities in member states, then it no longer serves a useful purpose to the international community it ostensibly serves. To survive as a credible entity, the OPCW must open itself to a full-scale audit of its activities in Syria by an independent authority with inspector general-like investigatory powers. Anything short of this leaves the OPCW, an organization that was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its contributions to world peace, permanently stained by the reality that it is little more than a lap dog of the United States, used to promote the very conflicts it was designed to prevent.

December 23, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Media ignores explosives revelations about chemical weapons in Syria

By Yves Engler · December 22, 2019

The Canadian media gets a failing grade when it comes to its coverage of chemical weapons in Syria.

Among the basic principles of reporting, as taught in every journalism school, are: Constantly strive for the truth; Give voice to all sides of a story; When new information comes to light about a story you reported, a correction must be issued or a follow-up produced.

But the Canadian media has ignored explosives revelations from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. It’s a stark example of their complicity with belligerent Canadian foreign policy in Syria.

In May 2019 a member of the OPCW Fact Finding Mission in Syria, Ian Henderson, released a document claiming the management of the organization misled the public about the purported chemical attack in Douma in April 2018. It showed that the organization suppressed an assessment that contradicted the claim that a gas cylinder fell from the air. In November another OPCW whistleblower added to the Henderson revelations, saying that his conclusion that the incident was “a non chemical-related event” was twisted to imply the opposite. Last week WikiLeaks released a series of internal documents demonstrating that the team who wrote the OPCW’s report on Douma didn’t go to Syria. One memo noted that 20 OPCW inspectors felt the report released “did not reflect the views of the team members that deployed to [Syria].”

I couldn’t find a single report about the whistleblowers/leaks in any major Canadian media outlet. They also ignored explicit suppression of the leaks.

Journalist Tareq Haddad resigned from Newsweek after my attempts to publish newsworthy revelations about the leaked OPCW letter were refused for no valid reason.” Haddad wrote a long article explaining his resignation, which detailed how an editor who previously worked at the European Council on Foreign Relations blocked it.

There is an important Canadian angle to this story. Twenty-four hours after the alleged April 7, 2018, chemical attack foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland put out a statement claiming, “it is clear to Canada that chemical weapons were used and that they were used by the Assad regime.” Five days later Prime Minister Justin Trudeau supported cruise missile strikes on a Syrian military base stating, “Canada supports the decision by the United States, the United Kingdom, and France to take action to degrade the Assad regime’s ability to launch chemical weapons attacks against its own people.”

Canadian officials have pushed for the organization to blame Bashar al-Assad’s government for chemical attacks since Syria joined the OPCW and had its declared chemical weapon stockpile destroyed in 2013–14. Canada’s special envoy to the OPCW, Sabine Nolke, has repeatedly accused Assad’s forces of employing chemical weapons. Instead of expressing concern over political manipulation of evidence, Nolke criticized the leak.In a statement after Henderson’s position was made public she noted, “Canada remains steadfast in its confidence in the professionalism and integrity of the FFM [Fact-Finding Mission] and its methods. However, Mr. Chair, we are unsettled with the leak of official confidential documents from the Technical Secretariat.”

Amidst efforts to blame the Syrian government for chemical weapons use, Canadian officials lauded the OPCW and plowed tens of millions of dollars into the organization. A June 2017 Global Affairs release boasted that “Canada and the United States are the largest national contributors to the JIM [OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism for Attributing Responsibility for Chemical Weapons Attacks in Syria].” The statement added that Canada “is the largest voluntary cash contributor to the organization, having provided nearly $25 million since 2012 to help destroy chemical weapons in Libya and Syria and to support special missions and contingency operations related to chemical weapons use, investigation, verification and monitoring in Syria.” Two months after the Douma incident Freeland announced a $7.5 million contribution to the OPCW in a statement heavily focused on Syria.In August Governor General Julie Payette even traveled to The Hague to push OPCW Director-General, Fernando Arias, on Syria. After a “meeting focused on OPCW activities in Syria”, Payette highlighted Canada’s “$23 million in voluntary funds for Syria-related activities.”

Ottawa backed the group that produced the (probably staged) video purporting to show chemical weapons use in Douma. The Liberals backed the White Helmets diplomatically and financially. In a release about the purported attack in Douma Freeland expressed Canada’s “admiration for … the White Helmets”, later calling them “heroes.” Representatives of the White Helmet repeatedly came to Ottawa to meet government officials and Canadian officials helped members of the group escape Syria via Israel in July 2018. Alongside tens of millions of dollars from the US, British, Dutch, German and French governments, Global Affairs announced “$12  million for groups in Syria, such as the White Helmets, that are saving lives by providing communities with emergency response services and removing explosives.”

Credited with rescuing people from bombed out buildings, the White Helmets fostered opposition to Assad and promoted western intervention. Founded by former British army officer James Le Mesurier, the White Helmets operated almost entirely in areas of Syria occupied by the Saudi Arabia–Washington backed Al Nusra/Al Qaeda insurgents and other rebels. They criticized the Syrian government and disseminated images of its purported violence while largely ignoring civilians targeted by the opposition. Their members were repeatedly photographed with Al Qaeda-linked Jihadists and reportedly enabled their executions.

The White Helmets helped establish an early warning system for airstrikes that benefited opposition insurgents. Framed as a way to save civilians, the ‘Sentry’ system tracked and validated information about potential airstrikes.

Canada funded the Hala Systems’ air warning, which was set up by former Syria focused US diplomat John Jaeger. It’s unclear how much Canadian money was put into the initiative but in September 2018 Global Affairs boasted that “Canada is the largest contributor to the ‘Sentry’ project.”

Ottawa is dedicated to a particular depiction of the Syrian war and clearly so is the dominant media. Committed to a highly simplistic account of a messy and multilayered conflict, they’ve suppressed evidence suggesting that an important international organization has doctored evidence to align with a narrative used to justify military strikes.

Journalists are supposed to seek the truth, not simply what their government says. In fact, according to what is taught in J-school, journalists have a special responsibility to question what their government claims to be true.

No journalism program in Canada teaches that governments should always be believed, especially on military and foreign affairs. But that is how the dominant media has acted in the case of Syrian chemical weapons.

December 22, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 1 Comment

How the Pro-War “Left” Fell for the Kurds in Syria

By Max Parry • Unz Review • December 22, 2019

The October decision by U.S. President Donald Trump to withdraw American troops from northeastern Syria did not only precipitate the Turkish offensive, codenamed ‘Operation Peace Spring’, into Kurdish-held territory which followed. It also sparked an outcry of hysteria from much of the so-called “left” that has been deeply divided during the 8-year long conflict over its Kurdish question. Despite the fact that the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) were objectively a U.S. proxy army before they were “abandoned” by Washington to face an assault by its NATO ally, the ostensibly “progressive” politics of the mostly-Kurdish militants duped many self-identified people on the left into supporting them as the best option between terrorists and a “regime.” Apparently, everyone on earth except for the Kurds and their ‘humanitarian interventionist’ supporters saw this “betrayal” coming, which speaks to the essential naiveté of such amateurish politics. However, there is a historical basis to this political tendency that should be interrogated if a lesson is to be learned by those misguided by it.

Turkey initially went all-in with the West, Israel, and Gulf states in a joint effort to depose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad by stoking the flames of the country’s Arab Spring in 2011 into a full blown uprising. With Istanbul serving as the base for the opposition, Kurdish nationalists hoping to participate were not at all pleased that the alliance had based its government-in-exile in Turkey and naturally considered Ankara’s role to be detrimental to their own interests in establishing an autonomous ethnonationalist state. Likewise, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan did not bargain on the conflict facilitating such a scenario, with the forty year war with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in southeastern Turkey still ongoing. When the PKK-linked People’s Protection Units (YPG) militias took control of northern Syrian towns and established a self-governing territory after boycotting the opposition, it was done only after negotiations between Damascus and Kurdish leaders. The Syrian government willingly and peacefully ceded the territory to them, just as we were told that the Baathists were among their oppressors.

The Rojava front opened up when the Kurds came under attack from the most radical jihadist militants in the opposition, some of which would later merge with the Islamist insurgency in western Iraq to form ISIS. Yet we now know for a fact that the rise of Islamic State was something actually desired by the U.S.-led coalition in the hopes of bringing down Assad, as revealed in a declassified 2012 Defense Intelligence Agency report. Shortly after clarifying that the opposition is “backed by the West, Gulf countries and Turkey”, the memo states:

“If the situation unravels there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).”

Meanwhile, it was the Kurds themselves who divulged Ankara’s support for Daesh, frequently retrieving Turkish-issued passports from captured ISIS fighters. Even Emmanuel Macron said as much at the recent NATO summit in London, prompting a row between France and Turkey that took a backseat to the more ‘newsworthy’ Trump tantrum over a hot mic exchange between the French President and his Canadian and British counterparts. Then there was the disclosure that the late Senator John McCain had crossed the border from Turkey into Syria in mid-2013 to meet with leaders of the short-lived Free Syrian Army (FSA), dubbed as “moderate rebels”, which just a short time later would decline after its members joined better armed, more radical groups and the ISIS caliphate was proclaimed. One of the rebel leaders pictured with McCain in his visit is widely suspected to be the eventual chosen leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was allegedly killed in a U.S. raid in Idlib this October. Ironically, many of the Turkish-backed FSA militias are now assisting Ankara in its assault on the Kurds while those who supported arming them feign outrage over the US troop removal.

Henry Kissinger reportedly once remarked, “America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests.” Given that the U.S. was at the very least still using Daesh as a strategic asset, it seems inexplicable that the Kurdish leadership could trust Washington. The SDF had only a few skirmishes with the Syrian army during the entire war— if they wanted to defeat ISIS, why not partner with Damascus and Moscow? To say nothing of the U.S.’s long history of backing their oppression, from its support of Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s to the arming of Turkey’s brutal crackdown against the PKK which ended with the capture of its cultish leader, Abdullah Öcalan, in 1999. Did they really think after enlisting them for its cosmetic ‘fight’ against ISIS that the U.S. would continue to side with them against Ankara? Even so, Kurdish gains against Daesh would pale in comparison to those by the Syrian army with Russian air support. More perplexing is why anyone on the left would choose to back a group being used as a cat’s paw for imperialism, regardless of whatever ideals they claim to hold.

Perhaps the U.S. would not have reneged on its implicit pledge to help with the foundation of a Kurdish state had their “Assad must go” policy been successful, but the U.S. pullout appears to be the final nail in the coffin for both Washington’s regime change plans in Syria and an independent Kurdistan. The YPG’s makeover as the SDF was done at the behest of the U.S. but this did nothing to to diminish the objections of Ankara (or many ‘leftists’ from supporting them), who insisted the YPG was already an extension and rebranding of the PKK, a group Washington itself designates as a terrorist organization. Any effort to create a buffer state in the enclave was never going to be tolerated by Turkey but it nonetheless enabled the U.S. to illegally occupy northern Syria and facilitate the ongoing looting of its oil. Unfortunately for Washington, the consequence was that it eventually pushed Ankara closer toward the Kremlin, as Turkey went from shooting down Russian jets one year to purchasing the S-400 weapon system from Moscow the next. After backing a botched coup d’etat attempt against Erdoğan in 2016, any hope of Washington bringing Turkey back into its fold would be to discard the Kurds as soon as their usefulness ran out, if it wasn’t too late to repair the damage already.

Why would the U.S. risk losing its geo-strategic alliance with Turkey? To put it simply, it’s ‘special relationship’ with Israel took greater precedence. Any way you slice it, Washington’s foray into the region has been as much about Zionism as imperialism and its backing of the Kurds is no exception. Despite the blowback, the invasion of Iraq and destruction of Libya took two enormous sources of support for the Palestinian resistance off the chessboard. It may have strengthened Iran in the process, but that is all the more reason for the U.S. to sell a regime change attempt in Tehran in the future. Regrettably for Washington, when it tried to do the same in Syria, Russia intervened and emerged as the new peace broker in the Middle East. It comes as no surprise that following the Turkish invasion of northern Syria amid the U.S. withdrawal, the Kurds have finally struck a deal with Damascus and Moscow, a welcome and inevitable development that should have occurred years ago.

One of the main reasons for the Kurds joining the SDF so willingly has the same explanation as to why Washington was prepared to put its relationship with Ankara in jeopardy by supporting them: Israel. The cozy relationship between the Zionist state and the various Kurdish groups centered at the intersection of Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria goes back as far as the 1960s, as Jerusalem has consistently used them to undermine its enemies. It is not by chance that their respective interests overlap to a near tee, between the founding of a Kurdish protectorate and the Zionist plan for a ‘Greater Israel’ in the Middle East which includes a balkanization of Syria. Mossad has openly provided the Kurds with training and they have learned much in the ways of the ethnic cleansing of Arabs from the Jewish state in order to carve out a Syrian Kurdistan. One can certainly have sympathy for the Kurds as the largest ethnic group in the world at 40 million people without a state, but the Israel connection runs much deeper than geopolitical interests to the very ideological basis of their militancy which calls all of their stated ideals into question.

The ties between the YPG and the PKK are undeniable, as both groups follow jailed leader Abdullah Öcalan’s teachings which merge Kurdish nationalism with the theories of ‘democratic confederalism’ from the influential Jewish-American anarchist philosopher, Murray Bookchin. While the PKK may have been initially founded as a ‘Marxist-Leninist’ organization in the early 70s, a widespread misconception is that it still follows that aim when its ideology long-ago shifted to that of a self-professed and contradictory ‘libertarian socialism’ theorized by Bookchin who was actually a zealous anti-communist. Not coincidentally, the Western anarchist icon was also an avowed Zionist who often defended Israel’s war crimes and genocide of Palestinians while demonizing its Arab state opponents as the aggressors, including Syria. Scratch an anarchist and a neo-conservative will bleed, every time.

Many on the pseudo-left who have pledged solidarity with the Kurds have attempted to base their reasoning on a historically inaccurate analogy comparing the Syrian conflict with the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s. You would think ISIS would be the obvious first choice for the fascists in the Syrian war, but journalist Robert Mackey of popular “progressive” news site The Intercept even tried to cast the Syrian government as Francisco Franco’s Nationalists in an article comparing the 1937 bombing of Guernica by the Condor Legion to the 2018 chemical attack in Douma which remains in dispute regarding its perpetrator. One wonders if Mackey will retract his absurd comparison now that dozens of inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have dissented in emails published by WikiLeaks showing that the OPCW engaged in a cover-up with the Trump administration to pin blame for the attacks on the Syrian government instead of the opposition, but don’t hold your breath.

In this retelling of the Spanish Civil War, the Kurds are generally seen in the role of the Trotskyite Workers’ Party of Marxist Unification (POUM) and the anarchist trade union National Confederation of Labour (CNT). In the midst of the conflict between the Nazi-supported Nationalists and Soviet-backed Republicans that was a prelude to World War II, the mobilization effort of all anti-fascist forces into a unified Popular Front was obstructed by the ultra-left and intransigent POUM and CNT who were then expelled from the coalition for their sectarianism. While the government was still fighting the Francoists, the POUM and CNT then attacked the Republicans but were put down in a failed insurrection. Although this revolt did not directly cause the loyalist defeat, it nevertheless sapped the strength from the Popular Front and smoothed the path for the generalissimo’s victory.

In the years since, Trotskyists have attempted to rewrite history by alleging that a primary historical text documenting the POUM’s sabotage of the Republicans — a 1938 pamphlet by journalist Georges Soria, the Spanish correspondent for the French Communist Party newspaper L’Humanite — is a forgery. On the Marxists Internet Archive website, an ‘editor’s note’ is provided as a preface to the text citing a single quote from Soria with the claim he admitted the work in its entirety was “no more than a fabrication”, but his words are selectively cropped to give that impression. While the author did admit accusations that the POUM‘s leadership were literal agents of Franco were a sensationalized exaggeration, the source of the full quote states the following:

“On the one hand, the charge that the leaders of POUM, among them Andrés Nin, ‘were agents of the Gestapo and Franco’, was no more than a fabrication because it was impossible to adduce the slightest evidence. On the other hand, although the leaders of POUM were neither agents of Franco or agents of the Gestapo, it is true that their relentless struggle against the Popular Front played the game nolens volens (like it or not/willingly or unwillingly) of the Caudillo (General Franco).”

In other words, Soria did not say the whole work was counterfeit like the editor’s note misleadingly suggests and reiterated that the POUM’s subversion helped Franco. (The Marxists Internet Archive does not hide its pro-Trotsky bias in its FAQ section.)

Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm summarized the inherent contradictions of the Spanish Civil War and the role ultra-leftism played in the demise of the Republic in one of his later essays:

“Of course, the posthumous polemics about the Spanish war are legitimate, and indeed essential — but only if we separate out debate on real issues from the parti pris of political sectarianism, cold-war propaganda and pure ignorance of a forgotten past. The major question at issue in the Spanish civil war was, and remains, how social revolution and war were related on the republican side. The Spanish civil war was, or began as, both. It was a war born of the resistance of a legitimate government, with the help of a popular mobilisation, against a partially successful military coup; and, in important parts of Spain, the spontaneous transformation of the mobilisation into a social revolution. A serious war conducted by a government requires structure, discipline and a degree of centralisation. What characterises social revolutions like that of 1936 is local initiative, spontaneity, independence of, or even resistance to, higher authority — this was especially so given the unique strength of anarchism in Spain.”

Murray Bookchin also wrote at length about the Spanish Civil War but celebrated the decentralized anarchist tactics which incapacitated the Popular Front. The anarcho-syndicalist theorist championed the ‘civil war within the civil war’ as a successful example of his antithetical vision of ‘libertarian socialism’, while his emphasis on the individualist aspects of the former half of his oxymoronic and anti-statist theory often bears a striking resemblance to neoliberal talking points about self-regulating free markets. This would explain why he actually regarded right-wing libertarians to be his natural allies over the the socialist left, whom he considered ‘totalitarian’ as he told the libertarian publication Reason magazine in an interview in 1979. His reactionary demonization of the Soviet Union and dismissal of the accomplishments of all other socialist revolutions was recalled by Michael Parenti in Blackshirts and Reds:

“Left anticommunists remained studiously unimpressed by the dramatic gains won by masses of previously impoverished people under communism. Some were even scornful of such accomplishments. I recall how in Burlington Vermont, in 1971, the noted anticommunist anarchist, Murray Bookchin, derisively referred to my concern for “the poor little children who got fed under communism” (his words).”

Like the International Brigades consisting of foreign volunteers to assist the Spanish Republic in the 1930s, there is an ‘International Freedom Battalion’ currently fighting with the Kurds in Syria. Unfortunately, its live-action role playing ‘leftist’ mercenaries missed the part about the original International Brigades having been backed by the Comintern, not the U.S. military.

Meanwhile, Western media usually hostile to any semblance of radical politics have heavily promoted the Rojava federation as a feminist ‘direct democracy’ utopia, particularly giving excessive attention to the all-female Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) militia while ignoring the female regiments fighting for the secular Syrian government. As a result of the media’s exoticized portrayal of the Kurds and their endorsement by prominent misleaders on the left, from Slavoj Žižek to Noam Chomsky, many have been fooled into supporting them.

If the Spanish Civil War was a dress rehearsal for WWII, it remains to be seen if Syria proves to be a run-through for another global conflict. Then again, what has emerged from its climax is an increasingly multipolar world with the resurgence of Moscow as a deterrent to the mutually assured destruction between the U.S. and China.

Leftists today wishing to continue the legacy of those who fought for the Spanish Republic should have thrown their support behind the Syrian patriots bravely defending their country from terrorism and imperialism, not left opportunism. Thankfully, this time the good guys have prevailed while the Kurds have paid the price for betraying their fellow countrymen. Liberals shedding crocodile tears about Rojava should take comfort in the fact that they can always play the latest Call of Duty: Modern Warfare video game featuring the YPG fighting alongside the U.S. military if they need to fulfill their imperial fantasies.

Yes, that’s right, the latest installment of the popular first-person shooter franchise features a storyline inspired by the SDF. It’s too bad for them that in real life all of Syria will be returned to where it rightfully belongs under the Syrian Arab Republic.

Max Parry is an independent journalist and geopolitical analyst. His writing has appeared widely in alternative media. Max may be reached at maxrparry@live.com

December 22, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Western leaders, screw your ‘Sanctions Target the Regime’ blather: Sanctions KILL PEOPLE

Children with cancer couldn’t get adequate treatment due to sanctions (photo Aleppo 2016)
By Eva Bartlett | RT | December 16, 2019

The US has a favourite tool for bullying non-compliant nations: sanctions. Sanctions inflict considerable suffering, even death, on ordinary people in targeted nations. Yet those defiant nations persist and resist.

A recent opinion piece in the Washington Post proposing a new oil-for-food scheme, this time in Venezuela, surprisingly acknowledges that sanctions “can also end up harming the people that they intend to protect.”

Okay, first off, we know there is no intention of “protecting” civilians in any of the countless countries targeted by Western sanctions. Do Western talking heads really think we’ve forgotten the half-a-million dead Iraqi children, thanks to US sanctions?

Yet, ask a Western leader about crippling sanctions placed on nations which don’t bow to Imperial demands and you’ll be met with some nonsensical explanation that sanctions only target ‘regimes’ and ‘terrorists,’ not the people.

I’ve lived in, spent considerable time in, or visited areas under sanctions and siege, and I’ve seen first hand how sanctions are a form of terrorism, choking civilians, depriving them of basic and urgent medical care, food, employment, and travel entitlements that many of us in Western nations take for granted.

When I was in Syria last October, a man told me his wife had been diagnosed with breast cancer, but because of the sanctions he couldn’t get her the conventional treatments most in the West would avail of.

In 2016, in Aleppo, before it was liberated of al-Qaeda and co, Dr. Nabil Antaki told me how –because of the sanctions– it had taken him well over a year to get a simple part for his gastroenterology practise.

In 2015, visiting Damascus’ University Hospital, where bed after bed was occupied by a child maimed by terrorists’ shelling (from Ghouta), a nurse told me:

“We have so many difficulties to ensure that we have antibiotics, specialized medicines, maintenance of the equipment… Because of the sanctions, many parts are not available, we have difficulties obtaining them.”

Visiting a prosthetic limbs factory in Damascus in 2016, I was told that, due to the sanctions, smart technology and 3D scanners –used to determine the exact location where a limb should be fixed– were not available. Considering the over eight years of war and terrorism in Syria, there are untold numbers of civilians and soldiers in need of this technology to simply get a prosthetic limb fixed so they can get on with their lives. But no, America’s concern for the Syrian people means that this, too, is near impossible.

In 2018, Syria’s minister of health told me Syria had formerly been dubbed by the World Health Organization a “pioneer state” in providing health care.

“Syria had 60 pharmaceutical factories and was exporting medicine to 58 countries. Now, 16 of these factories are out of service. Terrorists partially or fully destroyed 46 hospitals and 620 medical centres.”

I asked the minister about the complex in Barzeh, targeted with missile strikes by the US and allies in April 2018. Turns out it was part of the Ministry of Health, and manufactured cancer treatment medications, as well as antidotes for snake or scorpion bites/stings, the antidote also serving as a basic material in the manufacture of many medicines.

Last year, Syrian-American doctor Hussam al-Samman told me about his efforts to send to Syria chemotherapy medications for cancer patients in remission. He jumped through various hoops of America’s unforgiving bureaucracy, to no avail. It was never possible in the first place.

“We managed to get a meeting in the White House. We met Rob Malley, a top-notch assistant or adviser of Obama at that time. I asked them: ‘How in the world could your heart let you block chemotherapy from going to people with cancer in Syria?’

They said: ‘We will not allow Bashar al-Assad to have anything that will make people love him. We will not support anything that will help Bashar al-Assad look good’.”

Fast forward to the present: in spite of the sanctions, or precisely because of the sanctions, Syria recently opened its first anti-cancer drugs factory. President Assad is, again, looking rather good to Syrians.

UN expert: Sanctions on Venezuela “a form of terrorism”

Alfred de Zayas, the human rights lawyer and former UN official, aptly calls sanctions a form of terrorism, “because they invariably impact, directly or indirectly, the poor and vulnerable.”

Earlier this year, The Center for Economic and Policy Research estimated 40,000 deaths had occurred due to sanctions in 2017-2018.

While in Venezuela in March this year, I spoke with people from poor communities about the effects of sanctions. Most I met were very well aware of the US economic war against their country, and rallied alongside their government.

One woman told me:

“If you don’t have water, don’t have electricity, the basics, how would you feel, as a mother? This makes some of the population, that doesn’t understand about the sanctions, blame the government.”

Venezuela’s Foreign Minister, Jorge Arreaza, said during that visit:

“We told [American diplomat and Trump envoy] Mr Elliott Abrams, ‘the coup has failed, so now what are you going to do?’ He kind-of nodded and said, ‘Well, this is going to be a long-term action, then, and we are looking forward to the collapse of your economy.’”

Indeed, that collapse would come about precisely due to the immoral US sanctions against the Venezuelan people.

North Korean Youth: Sanction the USA

After visiting Korea’s north in August 2017, in a photo essay I noted: “The criminal sanctions against the North, enforced since 1950, making even more difficult the efforts to rebuild following decimation. The sanctions are against the people, affecting all sectors of life.”

And although most I met there were proud of their country’s achievements in spite of the sanctions, they were also vocal about the injustice of being bombed to near decimation and then sanctioned.

In a Pyongyang Middle School, to my questions about the sanctions, a girl replied:

“The sanctions are not fair, our people have done nothing wrong to the USA.”

Another boy spoke of the silence around America’s use of nuclear bombs on civilians: “Why do people all over the world give us sanctions? Why can’t we put sanctions on the US?”

At the Okryu Children’s Hospital, Doctor Kim Un-Song said: “As a mother, I feel extremely angry at the sanctions against the DPRK, even blocking medicine and instruments for children. This is inhumane and against human rights.”

As with Syria, sanctions on the DPRK prevent further entry to Korea of hospital machinery, as well as replacement parts.

Defying the sanctions

In spite of draconian sanctions, Syria, the DPRK and Venezuela continue to resist. After fighting international terrorism since 2011, Syria is rebuilding in liberated areas. That process could proceed more quickly were sanctions lifted, making it easier for companies outside of Syria to invest.

But Syria is managing, with its allies’ support, including that of North Korea, and due to the steadfastness of the heroic Syrian people, and its leadership.

Likewise, Venezuela and North Korea, facing America’s economic war and endless propagandistic rhetoric, continue to resist.

In each of these countries, I’ve met well-informed people who are fighting the sadism of the sanctions, and who are determined to remain free of US tyranny.

Eva Bartlett is a Canadian independent journalist and activist. She has spent years on the ground covering conflict zones in the Middle East, especially in Syria and Palestine (where she lived for nearly four years).

December 16, 2019 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment