Category Archives: Promoting destabilization and aggression

Interview with President Bashar al-Assad with TASS News Agency, March 2015

http://www.sana.sy/en/?p=33642

President al-Assad: The West has not changed policy, intervention in terrorists’ favor must stop for a solution to succeed

27/03/2015

Damascus, SANA – President Bashar al-Assad gave an interview to Russian media in which he hailed the Russian initiative for inter-Syrian dialogue as positive and denied any direct dialogue between Syria and the US, stressing that there has been no real change in the American or Western policies on Syria so far.

The following is the full text of the interview:

Question 1: Thank you, Mr. President. I am Gregory from TASS News Agency. What is you assessment of the next round of Syrian-Syrian talks scheduled to be held in Moscow next April, and who will represent Syrian in these talks? In your opinion, what is the essential factor to ensure the success of Syrian-Syrian dialogue?

President Assad: Our assessment of this new round of talks, and of the Russian initiative in general, is very positive, because the initiative is important; and I can say that it is necessary. As you know the West, or a number of Western countries, have tried, during the Syrian crisis, to push towards a military war in Syria and the region sometimes under the title of fighting terrorism, and at other times under the title of supporting people who rose for freedom, and other lies which have been circulating in Western media.

The Russian initiative was positive because it emphasized the political solution, and consequently preempted the attempts of warmongers in the West, particularly in the United States, France, and Britain, as they have done in the Ukraine. You know that warmongers have been pushing towards arming different parties in Ukraine in order to change regimes, first in Ukraine, then in Russia. That’s why the principle behind this initiative is good and important. We have always believed and spoke publicly that every problem, however big, should have a political solution. This is in principle. However, its success depends very much on the substance genuinely reflecting the title which you have spoken about. The title is: a Syrian-Syrian dialogue. In order for this dialogue to succeed, it should be purely Syrian. In other words, there shouldn’t be any outside influence on the participants in this dialogue. The problem is that a number of the participants in the dialogue are supported by foreign Western and regional countries which influence their decisions. As you know, only a few days ago, one of these parties announced that they will not participate in the dialogue. They didn’t participate in the first round.

So, for this dialogue to succeed, the Syrian parties taking part in it should be independent and should express what the Syrian people, with all their political affiliations want. Then, the dialogue will succeed. That’s why the success of this initiative requires that other countries not interfere, as Moscow proposed in the first round; for the dialogue to be among the Syrians with the Russians facilitating the dialogue among the Syrians without imposing any ideas on them. If things happen this way, I believe this dialogue will achieve positive results for stability in Syria.

Question 2: Abu Taleb al-Buhayya from RTV Arabic. Mr. President, within the framework of the steps taken to achieve a political solution, there is an initiative proposed by the UN Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura concerning a fighting freeze in Aleppo. After a number of meetings and trips, and there is information that some of de Mistura’s staff in Damascus went to Aleppo, but in the end, there were statements made by some outside opposition factions which rejected this initiative. Nevertheless, there are safe neighborhoods in Aleppo which have come in recent days under a fierce attack and mortar shelling on safe neighborhoods. In general terms, Mr. President, how do you see the prospects of this initiative proposed by de Mistura and is it going to succeed in the coming days?

President Assad: Since the first meeting with Mr. de Mistura, we supported his ideas. And when we agreed with him on the basic elements of the initiative, which he announced later, Mr. de Mistura’s team started working in Syria in order to implement this initiative. We continued our support and continued our discussions with him about the details of this initiative. In principle, the initiative is good because it deals with reality on the ground. It is similar to the reconciliation deals which have been achieved in Syria. The objective is to alleviate pressure and avert the dangers facing civilians specifically in the city of Aleppo, as a first stage for his mission. But de Mistura’s initiative depends on more than one party. Obviously, it depends on the Syrian state’s cooperation, as a major party to this initiative, including the state’s institutions. But, on the other hand, it depends on the response of the terrorists or the armed groups who operate in different neighborhoods in Aleppo.

Another problem is similar to that concerning the Syrian-Syrian dialogue. Some of these armed groups are controlled by other countries. In the city of Aleppo in particular, all the armed groups or terrorist forces are supported directly by Turkey. That’s why these forces, and from the beginning of de Mistura’s initiative, declared that they refuse to cooperate with him and rejected the initiative altogether. They confirmed their rejection of the initiative about a week ago, and enforced their rejection by shelling civilians in the city of Aleppo and a large number of martyrs fell as a result. De Mistura’s initiative is important in substance, and we believe that it is very realistic, and it has significant prospects of success if Turkey and the other countries supporting and funding the armed groups stop their interference. One of the most important factors of its success is that most Syrians want to get rid of the terrorists. Some of these terrorists will return to their normal lives or leave the neighborhoods in which civilians live, so that civilians can come back to these neighborhoods.

Question 3: Mr. President, on the political solution, the Syrian government took significant steps which have been applauded by Syria’s friends and allies concerning national reconciliation attempts. These attempts have been successful, from what we hear from the Syrian population, and from our coverage in Damascus and other Syrian governorates. In general, Mr. President, what is your vision for the prospects of these national reconciliation attempts, whether in Damascus Countryside or in other governorates, particularly that we have been informed that the Syrian government released, a few days ago, over 600 prisoners, in order to ensure the success of national reconciliation?

President Assad: We started the national reconciliation endeavors over a year ago, or maybe two years ago. It is a parallel track to the political solution. As I said, every problem has a political solution. But the political solution is usually long, and might be slow, and there might be obstacles which hinder the process or push it towards failure, although this failure might be temporary. But every day innocent people die in Syria, and we cannot wait for the political solution to materialize in order to protect people’s lives. So, we have to move on other tracks. Of course, there is the track of fighting terrorists and eliminating them. But there has been a third track which consists of national reconciliation attempts. They include returning people to their neighborhoods, and for armed men leaving these neighborhoods, or remaining without their weapons in order for them to return to their normal lives.

In this case, the state offers amnesty to those and brings them back to their normal lives. Part of this process is releasing a number of prisoners. So, this is part of national reconciliation. What happened yesterday is part of this endeavor which has proved so far that it is the most important track. The truth is that national reconciliation in Syria has achieved great results, and led to the improvement of security conditions for many Syrian people in different parts of the country. So, what happened yesterday comes within this framework, and we will continue this policy which has proved successful until progress is achieved on the political track which we hope will be achieved in this consultative meeting in Moscow next April.

Question 4: Yevgeny Reshetnev from Russia 24. In the context of the civil war and armed conflict, some politicians made statements to the effect that your days as president were numbered, and some expected that you will no longer be there in a few months’ time. But you have stood fast for a long time, and here we are sitting and talking with you. There are European politicians who say that the peaceful political solution in Syria will be without President Bashar al-Assad. In your opinion, how will it be possible to establish peace in Syria and to achieve reconciliation among the Syrians?

President Assad: The statements we have been hearing since the beginning of the crisis reflect the Western mentality, which is colonialist by nature. The West does not accept partners. If they don’t like a certain state, they try to change it, or replace its president. When they use this reasoning, they do not see the people. As far as they’re concerned, there is no people. They don’t like the president, so they replace him. But when they made these statements, they based them on wrong assumptions. This way of thinking might have suited the past, but is not fit for this age. Today, people do not accept for their future or destiny or rulers to be decided by the outside world.

The same thing is happening now in Ukraine. And this is what they aim for in Russia. They don’t like President Putin, so they demonize him. The same applies everywhere. However, I would like to stress that what determines these things in the end is the Syrian people. All the statements made by Western countries or their allies in the region about this issue did not concern us in the least. We do not care if they say the president will fall or remain in power, nor do we care whether they say that the president is legitimate or illegitimate. We derive our legitimacy from the people, and if there is any reason for the state’s steadfastness in Syria, it is popular support. We shouldn’t waste our time with European statements, because they are prepared to make statements which contradict each other from day to day.

The Syrian crisis can be solved. It’s not impossible. If the Syrians sit and talk to each other, we will achieve results. We talked about national reconciliation, which is the most difficult thing: when two parties which used to carry guns and fight each other sit down and talk. This is much more difficult than sitting with those who are involved in political action. In the first case there is blood, there is killing; nevertheless, we succeeded in this endeavor. We succeeded when we conducted these reconciliation attempts without foreign interference.

I say that for the Syrians to succeed, foreign intervention should stop. Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and some European countries should stop arming the terrorists. This was actually acknowledged publically by the French and by the British. They said they have been sending weapons to the terrorists. They should stop funding the terrorists, particularly Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Then, the political solution will be easy, and reconciliation with the armed groups will be easy, because the Syrian society supports reconciliation now and supports all these solutions. The Syrian society has not disintegrated as they expected. What is happening in Syria is not a civil war; in a civil war there should be lines separating the parties, either on ethnic, religious, or sectarian grounds. This doesn’t exist in Syria. People still live with each other, but most people escape from the areas in which the terrorists operate to the safe areas controlled by the state. This is what we believe to be the foundation for reaching this solution. This is in addition to initiatives made by our friends like the consultative meeting which will be held in Moscow next month.

Question 5: Mr. President, in every state, in general, a pretext can be found to create sectarian or ethnic conflict, and Syria and the Ukraine are examples of that. How can we stop this?

President Assad: If you have in the beginning a sectarian problem which creates a division in society, it will be easy for other countries to manipulate this division and lead to unrest. You know that this is one of the things which some foreign countries have tried to manipulate, even in Russia, by supporting extremist groups which are conducting terrorist acts. Their objective is not to kill some innocent people. They rather aim at creating a division in Russian society which leads to weakening the country and the state and maybe dividing Russia itself. This is what they had in mind for Russia and this is what they had in mind for Syria. This is why I think there are many similarities.

So it has to be based on the state’s performance before the crisis: preserving the unity of the homeland, religious freedom, freedom of belief. No group in any country should feel they are forbidden to exercise their religious rituals and hold their beliefs. This is the case in Syria; and this is one of the most important factors behind the steadfastness of Syrian society in facing this attack.

Nevertheless, the titles used at the beginning of the Syrian crisis by foreign media or by the terrorists called for dividing Syria, particularly along sectarian lines. Some people in Syria believed this propaganda in the beginning. But through the dialogue we conducted in the state, and by using different forms of awareness raising, particularly through the religious establishment, we were able to overcome this. People discovered quickly that this has nothing to do with sects or religions. They concluded that the problem is a form of terrorism supported by foreign countries. Here we succeeded and were able to overcome this very dangerous problem which you have suggested in your question.

Question 6: Mohammad Maarouf from Sputnik news agency. In the beginning, Mr. President, allow me on behalf of my colleagues at Sputnik news agency and Rossiya Segodnya to thank Your Excellency for availing us of this opportunity to meet you. Mr. President, you indicated previously that had you accepted what was offered to you before the crisis, you would have been the most favored and most democratic president in the region. Could you please explain to us what you were offered at the time, and what is required by the West of Syria, for the West to stop arming the Syrian opposition and start the political solution?

President Assad: Let me go back to the Western mentality, which I described as colonialist. The West does not accept partners. It only wants satellite states. The United States does not even accept partners in the West. It wants Europe to follow the United States. They didn’t accept Russia, although it was a superpower. They didn’t accept it as a partner. Russian officials talk all the time about partnership with the West, and talk positively about the West. In return, the West does not accept Russia as a great power and as a partner on a global level. So, how could they accept a smaller state like Syria which could say no to them? When anything contradicts Syrian interests, we say no. And this is something they do not accept in the West. They asked us for a number of things in the past.

They used to put pressure on us to abandon our rights in our land occupied by Israel. They wanted us not to support the resistance in Lebanon or Palestine which defends the rights of the Palestinian people. At a later stage, a few years before the crisis, they put pressure on Syria to distance itself from Iran. In another case, some of them wanted to use Syria’s relationship with Iran to influence the nuclear file. We have never been a part of this issue, but they wanted us to convince Iran to take steps against its national interests. We refused to do that. There were other similar things.

That’s why they wanted in the end to make the Syrian state a satellite state which implements Western agendas in this region. We refused. Had we done these things, we would have become, as I said, a good, moderate, and democratic state. Now, they describe our state as being anti-democratic, while they have the best relations with the Saudi state which has nothing to do with democracy or elections and deprives women of their rights, in addition to many other things well known to the world. This is Western hypocrisy.

Question 7: So, what does the West require of Syria today in order to stop arming the Syrian opposition and start the political solution?

President Assad: Simply, to be a puppet. And I’m not convinced that the West has a political solution. They do not want a political solution. When I say the West, I mean a number of countries like the United States, France, and Britain. The other countries play a secondary role. For them, the political solution is changing the state, bringing the state down and replacing it with a client state, exactly like what happened in Ukraine. As far as they are concerned, what happened in Ukraine was a political solution. But, had the former president, who was elected by the people, remained, they would have said that this president is bad, dictatorial, and kills his people. It is the same propaganda. So, the West is not interested in a political solution. They want war, and they want to change states everywhere in the world.

Question 8: Mr. President, you are confirming that there were no American under-the-table requests from you?

President Assad: No, there has been nothing under the table.

Question 9: Konstantin Volkov from Rossiyskaya Gazeta. Mr. President, a few days ago, the U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, said in an interview with CNN television, I believe, that he is prepared to negotiate with the Syrian authorities. But other officials at the State Department contradicted these statements. Concerning U.S attempts to initiate negotiations with you, have there been any such attempts, and if so, what does Washington want?

President Assad: As for the American statements, or statements made by American officials, I think the world has become used to American officials saying something today, and saying the opposite the next day. We see this happening all the time. But there is another phenomenon which is for one official to say something and another official, in the same administration, saying the exact opposite. This is an expression of conflicts inside the American administration and also within the lobby groups working in the United States. These lobbies have different perceptions of different issues. We can say that the most important conflict today for Syria and Ukraine is between two camps: one which wants war and direct military intervention in Syria and Iraq. They might also talk about sending armies to Ukraine, through NATO, or sending arms to the subversive party within Ukraine. There is another camp which opposes intervention because it learned the lessons of previous wars.

As you know, from the Vietnam war to the Iraq war, the United States has never succeeded in any war. It succeeded in one thing, which is destroying the country. But in the end, it always came out defeated after having destroyed the country. But it seems that these groups are still in the minority. In any case, and despite these statements, so far we haven’t seen any real change in American policies and it seems that the hardliners still define the direction of American policies in most parts of the world. As far as we in Syria are concerned, the policy is still going on. There is no direct dialogue between us and the Americans. There are ideas sent through third parties but they do not constitute a serious dialogue and we cannot take them seriously. We have to wait until we see a change in the American policy on the ground. Then we can say that there is a policy shift and clear demands. So far, the U.S. demands are what I described earlier concerning their wish to bring down the Syrian state and replace it with a client state which does their bidding.

Question 10: I am from Rossiya Segodnya. My question will be on the same subject and the same context. There are certain ideas which are being discussed in the West these days like having a peacekeeping force or a military force deployed on Syrian territories to fight ISIS. A number of ‘hawks’ in the U.S., whom you talked about suggested this. This might be just an idea, but today we see that there are airstrikes against ISIS. What is your opinion and assessment of the effectiveness of these airstrikes? And I would like to point out that these airstrikes may not only target ISIS, but positions of the Syrian Arab Army. Thank you.

President Assad: When you follow media reports on daily or weekly basis, you see that the rate of the airstrikes conducted by what they call a coalition against terrorism is sometimes less than ten strikes a day or a little more, in Syria or in Iraq, or in both Syria and Iraq. We are talking about a coalition which includes 60 countries, some of which are rich and advanced. On the other hand, the Syrian air force, which is very small in comparison to this coalition, conducts in a single day many times the number of the airstrikes conducted by a coalition which includes 60 countries.

Although you are not a military man, it is self evident that this doesn’t make sense. This shows the lack of seriousness. Maybe some of these countries do not want ISIS to grow larger than it has become in Syria and Iraq, but at the same time they don’t want to get rid of ISIS completely. They want to retain this terrorist force to be used as a threat to blackmail different countries. That’s why we say simply that there is no serious effort to fight terrorism, and what is being achieved by the Syrian forces on the ground equals in one day what is being achieved by these states in weeks. Once again, this shows that these countries are not serious, not only militarily, but politically speaking. An anti-terrorist coalition cannot consist of countries which are themselves supporters of terrorism. So, there is a political side and a military side, and the two are linked to each other. The result is the same: ISIS still exists. It is struck in one place but expands in another.

Question 11: I would like to check again about the positions of the Syrian Arab Army. Have they incurred any damage? And also about the peacekeeping force or a military presence in the area on your territories.

President Assad: No. No positions of the Syrian Army have been bombarded. What has been bombarded is infrastructure belonging to the Syrian people, and the results have been bad for us as a people and a state. But, as to deploying peacekeeping forces, such forces are usually deployed between warring states. So, when they talk about deploying peacekeeping forces in the fight against ISIS, this means that they recognize ISIS as a state, which is unacceptable and dangerous, particularly that terrorists, whether ISIS or al-Nusra, are terrorist organizations linked to al-Qaeda. These organizations infiltrate communities. Most of the communities and the areas are against these extremist and terrorist ideas. So, there is no state on the other side in order to deploy peacekeeping forces between two parties. This doesn’t make sense.

Question 12: Igor Lutzman from Sputnik radio. Mr. President, when I talked to the Press Secretary of the President of the Chechen Republic, Alvi Karimov, he said that Mr. Ramzan Kadyrov shares your interpretation of the Quran, the basics of Islam, culture, and traditions. He tells young people that terrorists do not belong to any race or any religion. He warns Chechens that if they turn into terrorists and join the ranks of ISIS or other terrorist organizations, they will never be allowed to go back to the Chechen Republic. Can you please tell us how you deal with young people and how you explain to them that Islam is a religion of peace, as Mr. Kadyrov does?

President Assad: What is being done from a systematic perspective is correct and accurate. The problem is ideological in the first place. Some states deal with terrorism as if it were a gang operating somewhere and should be eliminated. This is a final solution. However, the real solution for terrorism is an intellectual and ideological one, and consequently the involvement of those responsible directly is essential and I support it.

Of course, this is not the first time we confront this ideology. We started confronting it since the early 1960s through our confrontation with the Muslim Brotherhood who were the real predecessors of al-Qaeda in the Muslim world. The apex of these confrontations happened in the 1980s. At that time, we conducted an educational campaign and fought the Muslim Brotherhood ideologically by promoting the true Islam. But today, the situation is different, because in those days there was no internet, no social media, and no satellite TV stations. It was easy to control the cultural aspect of the problem. What we face today and what you face in your country, and most Muslim countries and the other countries which have Muslim communities, is the problem of extremist satellite TV stations which promote Wahhabi ideology and are funded by Wahhabi institutions and the Saudi state, which is allied to the Wahhabi establishment.

The same applies to the social media on the internet. That’s why the danger we are facing now is tremendous and that’s why we in Syria focused first of all on religious institutions which have played an important role by developing religious curricula and produced religious leaders who promote the real Islamic thought which is moderate and enlightened. We worked on satellite TV stations and established one which promotes moderate Islam and addresses not only the Muslim public but Muslim scholars as well. Religious leaders in Syria have also conducted different activities in the mosques and in their classes by communicating with people and explaining the reality of what is happening.

Terrorism has nothing to do with religion. Whether we call it Islamic terrorism or give it any other name, it has nothing to do with religion. Terrorism is terrorism wherever it is; and Islam is a peaceful religion like any other heavenly religion. But unfortunately, we see many cases in Syria where some children or young people shift very quickly from a state of moderation to a state of extremism and terrorism. The reason is that moderate religion hasn’t been enshrined in the families and the communities in which these young people live. That’s why I believe this work is essential anywhere there is a Muslim community because they are targeted by Wahhabism and Wahhabi institutions.

Question 13: Fedor Ivanitsa from Izvestia newspaper. Mr. President, I would like to ask you about Syrian-Russian relations. Despite the difficult situation and the conflict in Syria, the supply and maintenance site for the Russian navy in Tartous is still functioning. Is there any idea to turn this site in the future into a full-fledged Russian naval military base? Have you received such a proposal, and if so are you studying it, and have there been new military contracts signed between Moscow and Damascus during the crisis?

President Assad: Concerning Russian presence in different parts of the world, including the Eastern Mediterranean and the Tartous port, it is necessary to create a sort of balance which the world lost after the disintegration of the Soviet Union more than 20 years ago. Part of this existence, as you said, is in Tartous port. As far as we are concerned, the stronger this presence is in our region, the better it is for the region’s stability, because the Russian role is important for the stability of the world.

Of course, in this context I can say that we certainly welcome any expansion of the Russian presence in the Eastern Mediterranean and specifically on the Syrian shores and in Syrian ports for the same objectives I mentioned. But this of course depends on Russian political and military plans for the deployment of their forces in different regions and different seas and their plans for the expansion of these forces. If the Russian leadership intends to expand Russian presence in the Eastern Mediterranean and in Syria, we certainly welcome such expansion.

As to contracts and military cooperation between Syria and Russia, as you know, it is quite old and has been going on for more than six decades, and nothing will change, as far as this cooperation is concerned, in this crisis. There were Russian contracts with Syria signed before the crisis and which started to be implemented after the beginning of the crisis. There are also other new contracts on weapons and military cooperation signed during the crisis and their implementation is ongoing. The nature of these contracts has of course changed given the nature of the battles conducted by the Syrian armed forces in facing the terrorists. But in essence the nature of these relations has not changed and has continued as before.

Question 14: Mr. President, I have another question. I would like to touch on the disastrous humanitarian situation in Syria during the crisis. We watch on the news, and we ourselves write about this, that ethnic and religious minorities in Syria have been targeted or been subject to violations by the terrorist organization. Does the Syrian government have plans to move these minorities to other areas, to provide a new environment for these displaced people where they can live? There are larger numbers of people belonging to minorities running away from ISIS. What is the number of those who became displaced in and outside Syria fleeing from ISIS and other organizations?

President Assad: As for the first part of the question, as I said earlier, the terrorists and the propaganda which helped them used divisive, sectarian, and ethnic language. The objective was to push components of the Syrian society to emigrate and to realize the terrorist plan in making Syria an undiverse country. Whenever there’s no diversity, there is always extremism.

In fact, the terrorists have not attacked minorities. They attack everybody in Syria, and the minorities have not been singled out in themselves, but this language has been necessary for them to create divisions within Syrian society. Now, if we do this, i.e. protect what are called minorities, it means that we are doing what the terrorists want. The Syrian state must be a state for all Syrian citizens, taking care of all, and defending all. This is what the Syrian Arab Army should do. That’s why I believe there should be only one plan which is protecting the homeland and protecting the Syrian people. When you protect the people, it is no longer important whether there are minorities or majorities in the Syrian people, because the people are one unit and all of them are targeted.

On the number of the displaced, there are no accurate statistics, and the figure changes every day. There are many people who leave certain areas and move to other areas where they have relatives. These people are not registered as displaced people. Of course the number inside and outside Syria is several millions, but it is greatly exaggerated in foreign media to be used to justify military intervention under a humanitarian slogan. What’s more important is that the Syrian state is providing care to all those who do not have a home. There are shelters for these displaced people, they are provided with medical care, food, and education for their children. Of course these things cannot be at the same level that they were used to in their lives before, but this is a temporary stage until their areas are freed from terrorists and they’re returned to their areas.

Question 15: Mr. President, how do you see Syrian-Arab relations when there are indications of closer Syrian-Egyptian relations and general coordination between Syria and Iraq? What is your position towards the Arab Summit being held without Syria’s participation?

President Assad: Arab Summits, at least since I attended the first one, have not achieved anything in the Arab world. This has to do with inter-Arab relations, because the Arab League consists of Arab states, some of which implement the Western agenda and hinder any progress in the work of the Arab League. Other countries do not play any role. They are neutral. A small number of these countries try to play a role. For example, when there was a vote in the Arab League to ask the Security Council to facilitate or conduct military action in Libya, Syria was the only country which objected. This was before the crisis, and was one of the reasons which made other Arab countries, which are in the Western sphere of influence, start an incitement campaign against Syria and push the problems, or the crisis, in this direction from the very beginning. That’s why inter-Arab relations are now subject to the desires of inter-Western relations. They are not independent. They are non-existent on the inter-Arab level and equally non-existent on the Syrian-Arab level.

As to our relation with Egypt, Egypt suffered from the same terrorism from which Syria suffered, but in a different way. It suffered from the attempts of Arab countries to interfere and fund terrorist forces, but of course to a much lesser degree than what happened in Syria. But there is a great degree of awareness in Egypt in general, on the level of the Egyptian state and people, of what happened in Syria recently. There is a relation but in a very limited framework between the two states, practically on the level of the security services. But we do not talk about real relations or about having closer ties unless there is a direct meeting between the concerned political institutions in the two countries. This hasn’t happened so far, and we hope to see a closer Syrian-Egyptian relation soon because of the importance of Syrian-Egyptian relations for the Arab condition in general. Relations with Iraq are good of course, and we coordinate with Iraq because we have the same terrorist arena.

Question 16: Mr. President, in a number of reports for RT, we said that after things settled down in Damascus, this year will be a year of great changes. After a number of foreign parliamentary and political delegations visited Syria, what is your reading of the near future, politically and militarily, particularly after your meetings with these delegations?

President Assad: The delegations which visited Syria recently, some publically and others secretly, express two things: first, they show the lack of credibility of the media campaign in the West towards what is happening in the region. Repeating the same lies for four years cannot continue because it is no longer convincing. Realities on the ground are changing, and there are things which we in Syria used to say from the beginning of the crisis which have proved to Western people to be true.

When we used to talk about the spread of terrorism, they used to say there was no terrorism. The delegations which visit Syria include journalists, civil society organizations, and parliamentarians. They wanted to come to Syria in order to know what is going on. On the other hand, there is something related to the states. More than one Western official we met told us that Western officials climbed the tree and are no longer capable of coming down. We have to help them come down through these meetings. They have lied a great deal to us for four years, and now they are saying the exact opposite. It won’t be possible for these politicians to say the opposite and say the truth, because they will end politically. That’s why they send delegations, and when the delegations return, they attack them, saying that they were private visits and have nothing to do with the state.

Despite the fact that these delegations include parliamentarians, but they include people who represent the executive authority, whether in the intelligence services, the ministries of defense, or the like. This shows that the Western countries still persist in their lies but they want a way out and do not know how to get out of the dilemma they have got themselves into.

Question 17: Once again, Mr. President, it’s Rossiyskaya Gazeta. The Syrian crisis has been going on for four years. I believe it has been a difficult experience for you as a leader of this state in order to help the state itself survive. Could you please tell me about this new experience you have acquired during this difficult period. What are the things you concluded concerning foreign relations, for instance? What are the principles you adopt in leading the state?

President Assad: It is self evident that the role of any state is to work for the interests of the people and the interests of the country. It is only normal that its role should be to act in order to achieve these interests. The conflict for the past decades, including this crisis, is actually linked to what is happening in Ukraine, first because Syria and Ukraine concern Russia, and second because the objective is clear: weakening Russia. The objective is to create client states. When the task of the state or the official is to work for the interests of the people, it is self evident that this should be the guiding principle in managing domestic and foreign policies. This requires continued dialogue between officials and the population, all the officials and all the population. It’s normal to have different viewpoints in every country, but ultimately there should be one general line which identifies the public policy of the state. In that case, even if there were mistakes, and even if there was some deviation, the people will support you in such crises because your intentions are good and because you do not implement the policies of other countries. You implement the policies of this people, a little better, a little worse, this is the nature of things.

This is why I say that what we have succeeded in doing during these four years is that we haven’t paid attention to the Western campaign, haven’t cared about Western statements. We have cared a great deal about what the different sections of the Syrian people think, particularly when there was an intellectual polarization in Syria, between those who support the state, those who oppose it, and those in the middle.

Many people now support the state after they discovered the truth, not because they support the state politically – they might have great differences with the state in terms of political, economic, cultural, and foreign policies – but they are convinced that this is a patriotic state which acts in the best interest of the people, and that if they want to change these policies, it should happen through constitutional and legal ways. This is what we have succeeded in doing, and this is what has protected our country. Had we gone in any other direction, we would have failed from the early months of the crisis, and what they proposed in terms of the state and the president would fall, would have been true, because they believed that we would move away from people and follow our own way, and this is what we haven’t done.

Question 18: With your permission, I have another question from Russia 24 TV channel. You talked about foreign attempts to change regimes in a number of countries, and there are moves and acts on the part of Western or foreign intelligence agencies to overthrow certain regimes. Did they try something like this with you before the crisis?

President Assad: Of course, and for decades. At least these attempts have not stopped for the past five decades. They used to have two trends: sometimes changing the state, and when these attempts fail, and they always do, they used to move in another direction which is weakening the state from within, and sometimes from the outside, through sanctions, in the same way they are behaving towards Russia now.

The sanctions against Russia aim at weakening Russia from the inside. We also have been subject to sanctions for decades, like Cuba, and they also failed. There have been other attempts through people inside the country, people who belong in their minds and aspirations to the West, not to the country. They admire the West and have an inferiority complex towards it, and that’s why they implement its agendas.

There was another method used through the Muslim Brotherhood, for instance. The organization was created in Egypt at the beginning of the last century with British support, not Egyptian support. The British created it in order to make it one of the tools used to destroy Egypt when Britain needs it. Of course, the organization spread to other Arab countries, including Syria. These methods will not stop as long as the West continues to think in a colonialist manner, and as long as there are states which speak the national language and do not accept foreign intervention. These countries include Russia, Syria, Iran, and many other countries in the world. They will continue to try, and I think they will not stop, because that is the logic of history: there are countries which want to dominate and control other countries, if not through war, then through the economy, and if not through the economy, then through creating problems and blackmail.

Journalists: Thank you, Mr. President.

President Assad: Thank you very much for visiting us in these circumstances, and I hope that this discussion has been useful to you and to your Russian audiences. When we talk to the Russians, we know that they know exactly what is happening in Syria, because what is happening in Syria and Russia is similar. And of course there are historical relations and Syrian-Russian families. I hope to see again you under different circumstances. Thank you.

ISIS 101: What’s really terrifying about this threat

ISIS 101: What’s really terrifying about this threat

Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/intifada-palestine/yTiY/~3/bOcCbLwMw8M/? utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email

By John Chuckman, 01 Mar 2015

“The truly terrifying aspect of ISIS and other forces fighting with it in Syria is that the United States and Israel have approved and supported such wanton destruction in so beautiful and formerly-peaceful a place as Syria. Millions of lives destroyed and countless historic places damaged as though they were all nothing more than a few pieces moved on a geopolitical chessboard. I think it fair to describe that as the work of psychopaths.

ISIS certainly is not what a great many people think that it is, if you judge what they think by what our corporate press proclaims incessantly.

Judging by what ISIS actually does and whom its acts benefit, its clandestine associates, and the testimony of some witnesses, ISIS is a complex intelligence operation. Its complexity reflects at least in part the fact that it serves the interests of several countries and that it has more than one objective. Its complexity reflects also the large effort to reinforce a false image with disinformation and staged events such as a video of a beheading which could not have been a beheading unless they’ve discovered a bloodless method until now unknown to science.

The subject of ISIS is not without brief glimmers of humor. The image of bands of men, swathed in Arabic robes and bumping their way around the desert in Japanese pick-up trucks with Kalashnikovs raised in the air for every picture has elements of Monty Python. The idea of modern, trained and well-armed military units turning and running from them resembles a war scene in a Laurel and Hardy comedy such as the one with Hardy stuck upside down in a WWI tank turret kicking his legs the whole time Laurel drives towards the German positions managing accidentally to round-up a whole trench-full of prisoners with some wire fencing that becomes snagged on the tank.

Despite the tiresome stupidities we see and hear about it, ISIS unquestionably does kill people and destroy things, that being its purpose, and there is no humor in that.

ISIS appears to have served several tasks so far. First, it frightened Iraq’s Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, out of office in Iraq, a man America and Israel grew very much to dislike owing simply to his good relations with Iran, one of the unintended consequences of America’s invasion of Iraq being expanded Iranian influence in the region. No doubt al-Maliki was terrified not so much by ISIS approaching in their pick-up trucks as he was by his own military’s tendency, as if on cue, to turn and run from ISIS, often leaving weapons behind. The message was clear: you won’t be protected.

Second, America’s highly selective “air war” against ISIS somehow manages to attack infrastructure targets/ inside/ Syria with the feeble excuse that they are facilities helping ISIS. We’ve seen what American bombing can do when it’s undertaken seriously, and somehow I have a hard time imaging the men in Japanese pick-ups lasting long when faced with what hit the Taleban in Afghanistan or Gadhafi’s forces in Libya. The air strikes are partly a show for the world – after all, how can America be seen not to be fighting such extremely well-advertised, super-violent terrorists, guys putting out videos regularly from a studio trailer they must haul around with one of their pick-up trucks? The air strikes’ main purpose appears to be a way of hurting Assad and assisting those fighting Syria’s army without coming into conflict with Russia, as they would with a large, direct campaign. They likely also punish elements of ISIS which have exceeded their brief and serve as a reminder to the rest of what could happen to them if they stray too far from their subsidized purpose once the war comes to an end.

Three, in some of the ground fighting in Iraq where we’ve read of Iraqi units fighting ISIS, the units are often Kurdish, and sometimes the press uses expressions like “Iraqi and Kurdish troops. ” But the Kurdish region is still part of Iraq legally, although it has been given a good deal of autonomy by the central government. The Kurdish region of Iraq is the country’s prime oil-producing area, and in the estimation of many observers, an area both the United States and Israel would very much like to see severed from Iraq in the way Kosovo was severed from Serbia after America’s devastating air war there. This would not only permanently assure Iraq’s weakness, it would create a rather grateful and more willing oil supplier.

Where does ISIS get its technical equipment and the know-how to produce videos and run Internet sites? These are not qualities commonly found among fanatical fundamentalists anywhere; indeed most true radical fundamentalists tend to eschew technology. A supply of advice, technical assistance, and equipment comes from somewhere. Where does ISIS get the money for food, gasoline, clothes, ammunition, and Japanese pick-up trucks? And I wonder, did one of those wild-looking jihadi types just show up one day at an Iraqi car dealership and order a fleet of Japanese pick-ups? Were they delivered out on the desert or did a gang of jihadists march in, waving their Kalashnikovs, to drive them away?

The effort to destroy the Syrian government, whether by means of ISIS or anyone else, is warmly and generously supported by Saudi Arabia and its buddy Qatar – another oil-rich, absolute monarchy where political parties are banned – both these counties’ primary interest being the defence of their immensely privileged situations against creeping threats of all progressive developments such as equal human rights or democracy or indeed against revolt led by external forces. The payments we now know the Saudi royal family long made to Osama bin Laden before 9/11 were simply bribes to keep him and his anti-establishment work out of the country. They really didn’t care a lot about what the money bought elsewhere, but since 9/11 and its many Saudi connections – 15 of the perpetrators plus the past financing plus the many members of the royal family and bin Laden family secretly flown out by American officials at the time – the Saudi authorities were genuinely fearful of how America might respond and have become far more responsive to what America wants in the Middle East and now apply their money to such projects. What America wants in the Middle East is, invariably, what Israel wants, so there is now extensive, secret cooperation where once there was complete official hostility.

We have reports from plane-spotters in the region of daily flights of mysterious planes from Israel to Qatar. We have several eye-witness reports and photographs of supply bundles dropped from unknown planes into ISIS territory. Maybe ISIS has its own air force now? We know Turkey has served both as an entry point for countless terrorists into Syria and as a place of retreat and refuge when fighting with the Syrian army becomes too hot for them, the volumes of such activity having been too great to keep secret. We have reports of Turkish supply flights. A Jordanian official recently told a reporter that ISIS members were trained in 2012 by American instructors working at a secret base in Jordan.

If ISIS is what our corporate news pretends that it is – a fanatical Muslim extremist group that sprang suddenly from the desert sands much like Jack’s bean stalk – one blindingly obvious question is, why does it not attack Israel or Israeli interest? Isn’t that what one would expect from such a cast of characters? But it has not done so, undoubtedly because Israel is an important covert benefactor and supplier.

We might equally ask why ISIS has not attacked Saudi Arabia or its interests, for although the Saudi royal family officially professes a strict and conservative form of Islam, Wahhabism, in fact many of them are very worldly people who spend a good deal of time and money at the world’s great pleasure palaces. Perhaps even more damning for a genuine fanatical fundamentalist, the Saudis now often secretly cooperate and make plans with Israel where mutual interests exist.

No, there is something highly suspicious about Islamic fundamentalist terrorists who avoid such interests while managing to brutally kill poor Syrian soldiers just doing their jobs along with the odd foreign journalist or aid worker who may just have seen something they shouldn’t have seen. Of course, we have Edward Snowden himself having described ISIS as an operation intended to protect Israel. Despite the fact that some news sources have said the interview in which this was revealed never took place, my instincts tell me it likely did. Snowden has never refuted it, and the news sources saying it did not are highly suspect on such a subject.

The way ISIS serves Israeli and American interests is by providing a focus point for extremists, attracting them from various parts of the world so that they can be recorded and kept track of. Also the tracks back to the various countries from which they come provide security services with leads to places where there might be some festering problems. In the meantime, ISIS serves the interest of helping to bring down President Assad, a goal dear to the hearts of Israelis. Please remember that black operations, even the ones about which we know, show little consideration for lives or property. Just think of Israel’s attack on an American spy ship in the Mediterranean during the Six Day War, its pilots knowingly shooting up and bombing for two hours the well-marked ship of its ally and benefactor, no explanation worth hearing ever having been offered.

Just read conservative mainline sources (pretty much a redundant pair of adjectives) about the harm Snowden has done: claims of everything from his revelations about American intelligence having served to help ISIS avoid detection (!) to his revelations having set up the United States for another 9/11! You might think intelligent people would be ashamed of making such asinine public statements, but, no, there are almost no limits to trying to discredit those revealing murderous, dark operations.

We’ve had many reports of officials in various countries, including Canada as I write, concerned about the odd individual or small group running off to join ISIS. Now why should that be a concern? A few flaky people going abroad just removes them from your country, something I should have thought was a complete gain from a security point of view. Even if they were ever to return in future, you would know exactly who they are. Where is the basis for serious concern? But the psychological advantages of noise and hype to scare people about obscure dangers and “lone wolves” and “home-grown terrorists” outweigh completely good sense and intelligence.

Finally, there are numerous reports that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (a /nom de guerre/, not his real name), the leader of ISIS, is a Western intelligence asset. What little we can learn about him makes that entirely plausible. The Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, has said that the man is a Mossad agent, a claim supported supposedly by documents revealed by Edward Snowden. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is by all accounts a secretive man who speaks directly with few people, and even his birth place, given as Samarra, Iraq, is not sure. Records of his past, as those from his period of American captivity (always a great opportunity to “turn” someone to serving two interests), are not available. He was once reported killed but is still alive. He is said to have received intensive training from Mossad and the CIA, and some sources give his real name as Simon Elliot (or, Elliot Shimon), but few details can ever be certain in such dark operations.

The truly terrifying aspect of ISIS and other forces fighting with it in Syria is that the United States and Israel have approved and supported such wanton destruction in so beautiful and formerly-peaceful a place as Syria. Millions of lives destroyed and countless historic places damaged as though they were all nothing more than a few pieces moved on a geopolitical chessboard. I think it fair to describe that as the work of psychopaths.

The Reckless Lies of War Mongers: Why the Rise of Fascism is Again the Issue

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/02/27/why-the-rise-of-fascism-is-again-the-issue/

Weekend Edition Feb 27-Mar 01, 2015

The Reckless Lies of War Mongers: Why the Rise of Fascism is Again the Issue

by JOHN PILGER

The recent 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz was a reminder of the great crime of fascism, whose Nazi iconography is embedded in our consciousness. Fascism is preserved as history, as flickering footage of goose-stepping blackshirts, their criminality terrible and clear. Yet in the same liberal societies, whose war-making elites urge us never to forget, the accelerating danger of a modern kind of fascism is suppressed; for it is their fascism.

“To initiate a war of aggression…,” said the Nuremberg Tribunal judges in 1946, “is not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

Had the Nazis not invaded Europe, Auschwitz and the Holocaust would not have happened.  Had the United States and its satellites not initiated their war of aggression in Iraq in 2003, almost a million people would be alive today; and Islamic State, or ISIS, would not have us in thrall to its savagery.  They are the progeny of modern fascism, weaned by the bombs, bloodbaths and lies that are the surreal theatre known as news.

Like the fascism of the 1930s and 1940s, big lies are delivered with the precision of a metronome: thanks to an omnipresent, repetitive media and its virulent censorship by omission. Take the catastrophe in Libya.

In 2011, Nato launched 9,700 “strike sorties” against Libya, of which more than a third were aimed at civilian targets. Uranium warheads were used; the cities of Misurata and Sirte were carpet-bombed. The Red Cross identified mass graves, and Unicef reported that “most [of the children killed] were under the age of ten”.

The public sodomising of the Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi with a “rebel” bayonet was greeted by the then US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, with the words: “We came, we saw, he died.”  His murder, like the destruction of his country, was justified with a familiar big lie; he was planning “genocide” against his own people. “We knew … that if we waited one more day,” said President Obama, “Benghazi, a city the size of Charlotte, could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.”

This was the fabrication of Islamist militias facing defeat by Libyan government forces. They told Reuters there would be “a real bloodbath, a massacre like we saw in Rwanda”. Reported on March 14, 2011, the lie provided the first spark for Nato’s inferno, described by David Cameron as a “humanitarian intervention”.

Secretly supplied and trained by Britain’s SAS, many of the “rebels” would become ISIS, whose latest video offering shows the beheading of 21 Coptic Christian workers seized in Sirte, the city destroyed on their behalf by Nato bombers.

For Obama, Cameron and Hollande, Gaddafi’s true crime was Libya’s economic independence and his declared intention to stop selling Africa’s greatest oil reserves in US dollars. The petrodollar is a pillar of American imperial power. Gaddafi audaciously planned to underwrite a common African currency backed by gold, establish an all-Africa bank and promote economic union among poor countries with prized resources. Whether or not this would happen, the very notion was intolerable to the US as it prepared to “enter” Africa and bribe African governments with military “partnerships”.

Following Nato’s attack under cover of a Security Council resolution, Obama, wrote Garikai Chengu, “confiscated $30 billion from Libya’s Central Bank, which Gaddafi had earmarked for the establishment of an African Central Bank and the African gold backed dinar currency”.

The “humanitarian war” against Libya drew on a model close to western liberal hearts, especially in the media. In 1999, Bill Clinton and Tony Blair sent Nato to bomb Serbia, because, they lied, the Serbs were committing “genocide” against ethnic Albanians in the secessionist province of Kosovo. David Scheffer, US ambassador-at-large for war crimes [sic], claimed that as many as “225,000 ethnic Albanian men aged between 14 and 59″ might have been murdered. Both Clinton and Blair evoked the Holocaust and “the spirit of the Second World War”. The West’s heroic allies were the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), whose criminal record was set aside. The British Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, told them to call him any time on his mobile phone.

With the Nato bombing over, and much of Serbia’s infrastructure in ruins, along with schools, hospitals, monasteries and the national TV station, international forensic teams descended upon Kosovo to exhume evidence of the “holocaust”. The FBI failed to find a single mass grave and went home. The Spanish forensic team did the same, its leader angrily denouncing “a semantic pirouette by the war propaganda machines”. A year later, a United Nations tribunal on Yugoslavia announced the final count of the dead in Kosovo: 2,788. This included combatants on both sides and Serbs and Roma murdered by the KLA. There was no genocide. The “holocaust” was a lie. The Nato attack had been fraudulent.

Behind the lie, there was serious purpose. Yugoslavia was a uniquely independent, multi-ethnic federation that had stood as a political and economic bridge in the Cold War. Most of its utilities and major manufacturing was publicly owned. This was not acceptable to the expanding European Community, especially newly united Germany, which had begun a drive east to capture its “natural market” in the Yugoslav provinces of Croatia and Slovenia. By the time the Europeans met at Maastricht in 1991 to lay their plans for the disastrous eurozone, a secret deal had been struck; Germany would recognise Croatia. Yugoslavia was doomed.

In Washington, the US saw that the struggling Yugoslav economy was denied World Bank loans.  Nato, then an almost defunct Cold War relic, was reinvented as imperial enforcer. At a 1999 Kosovo “peace” conference in Rambouillet, in France, the Serbs were subjected to the enforcer’s duplicitous tactics. The Rambouillet accord included a secret Annex B, which the US delegation inserted on the last day. This demanded the military occupation of the whole of Yugoslavia — a country with bitter memories of the Nazi occupation — and the implementation of a “free-market economy” and the privatisation of all government assets. No sovereign state could sign this. Punishment followed swiftly; Nato bombs fell on a defenceless country. It was the precursor to the catastrophes in Afghanistan and Iraq, Syria and Libya, and Ukraine.

Since 1945, more than a third of the membership of the United Nations – 69 countries – have suffered some or all of the following at the hands of America’s modern fascism. They have been invaded, their governments overthrown, their popular movements suppressed, their elections subverted, their people bombed and their economies stripped of all protection, their societies subjected to a crippling siege known as “sanctions”. The British historian Mark Curtis estimates the death toll in the millions. In every case, a big lie was deployed.

“Tonight, for the first time since 9/11, our combat mission in Afghanistan is over.” These were opening words of Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address. In fact, some 10,000 troops and 20,000 military contractors (mercenaries) remain in Afghanistan on indefinite assignment.  “The longest war in American history is coming to a responsible conclusion,” said Obama. In fact, more civilians were killed in Afghanistan in 2014 than in any year since the UN took records.  The majority have been killed — civilians and soldiers — during Obama’s time as president.

The tragedy of Afghanistan rivals the epic crime in Indochina.  In his lauded and much quoted book, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the godfather of US policies from Afghanistan to the present day, writes that if America is to control Eurasia and dominate the world, it cannot sustain a popular democracy, because “the pursuit of power is not a goal that commands popular passion . . . Democracy is inimical to imperial mobilisation.”  He is right. As WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden have revealed, a surveillance and police state is usurping democracy. In 1976, Brzezinski, then President Carter’s National Security Advisor, demonstrated his point by dealing a death blow to Afghanistan’s first and only democracy. Who knows this vital history?

In the 1960s, a popular revolution swept Afghanistan, the poorest country on earth, eventually overthrowing the vestiges of the aristocratic regime in 1978. The People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) formed a government and declared a reform programme that included the abolition of feudalism, freedom for all religions, equal rights for women and social justice for the ethnic minorities. More than 13,000 political prisoners were freed and police files publicly burned.

The new government introduced free medical care for the poorest; peonage was abolished, a mass literacy programme was launched. For women, the gains were unheard of. By the late 1980s, half the university students were women, and women made up almost half of Afghanistan’s doctors, a third of civil servants and the majority of teachers. “Every girl,” recalled Saira Noorani, a female surgeon, “could go to high school and university. We could go where we wanted and wear what we liked. We used to go to cafes and the cinema to see the latest Indian film on a Friday and listen to the latest music. It all started to go wrong when the mujaheddin started winning. They used to kill teachers and burn schools. We were terrified. It was funny and sad to think these were the people the West supported.”

The PDPA government was backed by the Soviet Union, even though, as former Secretary of State Cyrus Vance later admitted, “there was no evidence of any Soviet complicity [in the revolution]“. Alarmed by the growing confidence of liberation movements throughout the world, Brzezinski decided that if Afghanistan was to succeed under the PDPA, its independence and progress would offer the “threat of a promising example”.

On July 3, 1979, the White House secretly authorized support for tribal “fundamentalist” groups known as the mujaheddin, a program that grew to over $500 million a year in U.S. arms and other assistance. The aim was the overthrow of Afghanistan’s first secular, reformist government. In August 1979, the US embassy in Kabul reported that “the United States’ larger interests … would be served by the demise of [the PDPA government], despite whatever setbacks this might mean for future social and economic reforms in Afghanistan.” The italics are mine.

The mujaheddin were the forebears of al-Qaeda and Islamic State. They included Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who received tens of millions of dollars in cash from the CIA. Hekmatyar’s specialty was trafficking in opium and throwing acid in the faces of women who refused to wear the veil. Invited to London, he was lauded by Prime Minister Thatcher as a “freedom fighter”.

Such fanatics might have remained in their tribal world had Brzezinski not launched an international movement to promote Islamic fundamentalism in Central Asia and so undermine secular political liberation and “destabilise” the Soviet Union, creating, as he wrote in his autobiography, “a few stirred up Muslims”.  His grand plan coincided with the ambitions of  the Pakistani dictator, General Zia ul-Haq, to dominate the region. In 1986, the CIA and Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI, began to recruit people from around the world to join the Afghan jihad. The Saudi multi-millionaire Osama bin Laden was one of them. Operatives who would eventually join the Taliban and al-Qaeda, were recruited at an Islamic college in Brooklyn, New York, and given paramilitary training at a CIA camp in Virginia. This was called “Operation Cyclone”. Its success was celebrated in 1996 when the last PDPA president of Afghanistan, Mohammed Najibullah — who had gone before the UN General Assembly to plead for help — was hanged from a streetlight by the Taliban.

The “blowback” of Operation Cyclone and its “few stirred up Muslims” was September 11, 2001. Operation Cyclone became the “war on terror”, in which countless men, women and children would lose their lives across the Muslim world, from Afghanistan to Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Syria. The enforcer’s message was and remains: “You are with us or against us.”

The common thread in fascism, past and present, is mass murder. The American invasion of Vietnam had its “free fire zones”, “body counts” and “collatoral damage”. In the province of Quang Ngai, where I reported from, many thousands of civilians (“gooks”) were murdered by the US; yet only one massacre, at My Lai, is remembered. In Laos and Cambodia, the greatest aerial bombardment in history produced an epoch of terror marked today by the spectacle of joined-up bomb craters which, from the air, resemble monstrous necklaces. The bombing gave Cambodia its own ISIS, led by Pol Pot.

Today, the world’s greatest single campaign of terror entails the execution of entire families, guests at weddings, mourners at funerals. These are Obama’s victims. According to the New York Times, Obama makes his selection from a CIA “kill list” presented to him every Tuesday in the White House Situation Room. He then decides, without a shred of legal justification, who will live and who will die. His execution weapon is the Hellfire missile carried by a pilotless aircraft known as a drone; these roast their victims and festoon the area with their remains.  Each “hit” is registered on a faraway console screen as a “bugsplat”.

“For goose-steppers,” wrote the historian Norman Pollock, “substitute the seemingly more innocuous militarisation of the total culture. And for the bombastic leader, we have the reformer manque, blithely at work, planning and executing assassination, smiling all the while.”

Uniting fascism old and new is the cult of superiority. “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fibre of my being,” said Obama, evoking declarations of national fetishism from the 1930s. As the historian Alfred W. McCoy has pointed out, it was the Hitler devotee, Carl Schmitt, who said, “The sovereign is he who decides the exception.” This sums up Americanism, the world’s dominant ideology. That it remains unrecognised as a predatory ideology is the achievement of an equally unrecognised brainwashing.  Insidious, undeclared, presented wittily as enlightenment on the march, its conceit insinuates western culture. I grew up on a cinematic diet of American glory, almost all of it a distortion. I had no idea that it was the Red Army that had destroyed most of the Nazi war machine, at a cost of as many as 13 million soldiers. By contrast, US losses, including in the Pacific, were 400,000. Hollywood reversed this.

The difference now is that cinema audiences are invited to wring their hands at the “tragedy” of American psychopaths having to kill people in distant places — just as the President himself kills them. The embodiment of Hollywood’s violence, the actor and director Clint Eastwood, was nominated for an Oscar this year for his movie, American Sniper, which is about a licensed murderer and nutcase. The New York Times described it as a “patriotic, pro-family picture which broke all attendance records in its opening days”.

There are no heroic movies about America’s embrace of fascism. During the Second World War, America (and Britain) went to war against Greeks who had fought heroically against Nazism and were resisting the rise of Greek fascism. In 1967, the CIA helped bring to power a fascist military junta in Athens — as it did in Brazil and most of Latin America. Germans and east Europeans who had colluded with Nazi aggression and crimes against humanity were given safe haven in the US; many were pampered and their talents rewarded. Wernher von Braun was the “father” of both the Nazi V-2 terror bomb and the US space programme.

In the 1990s, as former Soviet republics, eastern Europe and the Balkans became military outposts of Nato, the heirs to a Nazi movement in Ukraine were given their opportunity. Responsible for the deaths of thousands of Jews, Poles and Russians during the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, Ukrainian fascism was rehabilitated and its “new wave” hailed by the enforcer as “nationalists”.

This reached its apogee in 2014 when the Obama administration splashed out $5 billion on a coup against the elected government.  The shock troops were neo-Nazis known as the Right Sector and Svoboda. Their leaders include  Oleh Tyahnybok, who has called for a purge of the “Moscow-Jewish mafia” and “other scum”, including gays, feminists and those on the political left.

These fascists are now integrated into the Kiev coup government. The first deputy speaker of the Ukrainian parliament, Andriy Parubiy, a leader of the governing party, is co-founder of Svoboda. On February 14, Parubiy announced he was flying to Washington get “the USA to give us highly precise modern weaponry”. If he succeeds, it will be seen as an act of war by Russia.

No western leader has spoken up about the revival of fascism in the heart of Europe — with the exception of Vladimir Putin, whose people lost 22 million to a Nazi invasion that came through the borderland of Ukraine. At the recent Munich Security Conference, Obama’s Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland, ranted abuse about European leaders for opposing the US arming of the Kiev regime. She referred to the German Defence Minister as “the minister for defeatism”. It was Nuland who masterminded the coup in Kiev. The wife of Robert D. Kagan, a leading “neo-con” luminary and co-founder of the extreme right wing Project for a New American Century, she was foreign policy advisor to Dick Cheney.

Nuland’s coup did not go to plan. Nato was prevented from seizing Russia’s historic, legitimate, warm-water naval base in Crimea. The mostly Russian population of Crimea — illegally annexed to Ukraine by Nikita Krushchev in 1954 — voted overwhelmingly to return to Russia, as they had done in the 1990s.  The referendum was voluntary, popular and internationally observed. There was no invasion.

At the same time, the Kiev regime turned on the ethnic Russian population in the east with the ferocity of ethnic cleaning. Deploying neo-Nazi militias in the manner of the Waffen-SS, they bombed and laid to siege cities and towns. They used mass starvation as a weapon, cutting off electricity, freezing bank accounts, stopping social security and pensions. More than a million refugees fled across the border into Russia. In the western media, they became unpeople escaping “the violence” caused by the “Russian invasion”. The Nato commander, General Breedlove — whose name and actions might have been inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove — announced that 40,000 Russian troops were “massing”. In the age of forensic satellite evidence, he offered none.

These Russian-speaking and bilingual people of Ukraine – a third of the population – have long sought a federation that reflects the country’s ethnic diversity and is both autonomous and independent of Moscow. Most are not “separatists” but citizens who want to live securely in their homeland and oppose the power grab in Kiev. Their revolt and establishment of autonomous “states” are a reaction to Kiev’s attacks on them. Little of this has been explained to western audiences.

On May 2, 2014, in Odessa, 41 ethnic Russians were burned alive in the trade union headquarters with police standing by.  The Right Sector leader Dmytro Yarosh hailed the massacre as “another bright day in our national history”. In the American and British media, this was reported as a “murky tragedy” resulting from “clashes” between “nationalists” (neo-Nazis) and “separatists” (people collecting signatures for a referendum on a federal Ukraine).

The New York Times buried the story, having dismissed as Russian propaganda warnings about the fascist and anti-Semitic policies of Washington’s new clients. The Wall Street Journal damned the victims – “Deadly Ukraine Fire Likely Sparked by Rebels, Government Says”. Obama congratulated the junta for its “restraint”.

If Putin can be provoked into coming to their aid, his pre-ordained “pariah” role in the West will justify the lie that Russia is invading Ukraine. On January 29, Ukraine’s top military commander, General Viktor Muzhemko, almost inadvertently dismissed the very basis for US and EU sanctions on Russia when he told a news conference emphatically: “The Ukrainian army is not fighting with the regular units of the Russian Army”.  There were “individual citizens” who were members of “illegal armed groups”, but there was no Russian invasion.  This was not news. Vadym Prystaiko, Kiev’s Deputy Foreign Minister, has called for “full scale war” with nuclear-armed Russia.

On February 21, US Senator James Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma, introduced a bill that would authorise American arms for the Kiev regime.  In his Senate presentation, Inhofe used photographs he claimed were of Russian troops crossing into Ukraine, which have long been exposed as fakes. It was reminiscent of Ronald Reagan’s fake pictures of a Soviet installation in Nicaragua, and Colin Powell’s fake evidence to the UN of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

The intensity of the smear campaign against Russia and the portrayal of its president as a pantomime villain is unlike anything I have known as a reporter. Robert Parry, one of America’s most distinguished investigative journalists, who revealed the Iran-Contra scandal, wrote recently, “No European government, since Adolf Hitler’s Germany, has seen fit to dispatch Nazi storm troopers to wage war on a domestic population, but the Kiev regime has and has done so knowingly. Yet across the West’s media/political spectrum, there has been a studious effort to cover up this reality even to the point of ignoring facts that have been well established ….If you wonder how the world could stumble into world war three – much as it did into world war one a century ago – all you need to do is look at the madness over Ukraine that has proved impervious to facts or reason.”

In 1946, the Nuremberg Tribunal prosecutor said of the German media: “The use made by Nazi conspirators of psychological warfare is well known. Before each major aggression, with some few exceptions based on expediency, they initiated a press campaign calculated to weaken their victims and to prepare the German people psychologically for the attack …. In the propaganda system of the Hitler State it was the daily press and the radio that were the most important weapons.”

In the Guardian on February 2, Timothy Garton-Ash called, in effect, for a world war. “Putin must be stopped,” said the headline. “And sometimes only guns can stop guns.” He conceded that the threat of war might “nourish a Russian paranoia of encirclement”; but that was fine. He name-checked the military equipment needed for the job and advised his readers that “America has the best kit”.

In 2003, Garton-Ash, an Oxford professor, repeated the propaganda that led to the slaughter in Iraq. Saddam Hussein, he wrote, “has, as [Colin] Powell documented, stockpiled large quantities of horrifying chemical and biological weapons, and is hiding what remains of them. He is still trying to get nuclear ones.” He lauded Blair as a “Gladstonian, Christian liberal interventionist”.  In 2006, he wrote, “Now we face the next big test of the West after Iraq: Iran.”

The outbursts — or as Garton-Ash prefers, his “tortured liberal ambivalence” — are not untypical of those in the transatlantic liberal elite who have struck a Faustian deal. The war criminal Blair is their lost leader. The Guardian, in which Garton-Ash’s piece appeared, published a full-page advertisement for an American Stealth bomber. On a menacing image of the Lockheed Martin monster were the words: “The F-35. GREAT For Britain”. This American “kit” will cost British taxpayers £1.3 billion, its F-model predecessors having slaughtered across the world.  In tune with its advertiser, a Guardian editorial has demanded an increase in military spending.

Once again, there is serious purpose. The rulers of the world want Ukraine not only as a missile base; they want its economy. Kiev’s new Finance Minister, Nataliwe Jaresko, is a former senior US State Department official in charge of US overseas “investment”. She was hurriedly given Ukrainian citizenship.

They want Ukraine for its abundant gas; Vice President Joe Biden’s son is on the board of Ukraine’s biggest oil, gas and fracking company. The manufacturers of GM seeds, companies such as the infamous Monsanto, want Ukraine’s rich farming soil.

Above all, they want Ukraine’s mighty neighbour, Russia. They want to Balkanise or dismember Russia and exploit the greatest source of natural gas on earth. As the Arctic ice melts, they want control of the Arctic Ocean and its energy riches, and Russia’s long Arctic land border. Their man in Moscow used to be Boris Yeltsin, a drunk, who handed his country’s economy to the West. His successor, Putin, has re-established Russia as a sovereign nation; that is his crime.

The responsibility of the rest of us is clear. It is to identify and expose the reckless lies of warmongers and never to collude with them. It is to re-awaken the great popular movements that brought a fragile civilisation to modern imperial states. Most important, it is to prevent the conquest of ourselves: our minds, our humanity, our self respect. If we remain silent, victory over us is assured, and a holocaust beckons.

John Pilger can be reached through his website: www.johnpilger.com

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-02-20/cia-s-nuclear-bomb-sting-said-to-spur-review-in-iran-arms-case?utm_content=buffer6fa82&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

CIA’s Nuclear-Bomb Sting Said to Spur Review in Iran Arms Case

by Jonathan Tirone, February 20, 2015   
 
 
(Bloomberg) — Details of a 15-year-old Central Intelligence Agency sting emerging from a court case in the U.S. may prompt United Nations monitors to reassess some evidence related to Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons work, two western diplomats said.

International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors in Vienna will probably review intelligence they received about Iran as a result of the revelations, said the two diplomats who are familiar with the IAEA’s Iran file and asked not to be named because the details are confidential. The CIA passed doctored blueprints for nuclear-weapon components to Iran in February 2000, trial documents have shown.

“This story suggests a possibility that hostile intelligence agencies could decide to plant a ‘smoking gun’ in Iran for the IAEA to find,” said Peter Jenkins, the U.K.’s former envoy to the Vienna-based agency. “That looks like a big problem.”

The UN agency is charged with deciding whether the Iranian government has been trying to develop nuclear weapons and its ruling may determine whether international sanctions against the country are lifted. While Iranian officials have consistently accused the IAEA of basing its case on forged documents, the agency has never acknowledged receiving tampered evidence.

CIA Whistle-Blower

A spokesman for the IAEA said the agency carries out a thorough assessment of the information it receives. The CIA didn’t immediately respond to e-mail and telephone requests for comment.

The CIA documents were filed as evidence to an Alexandria, Virginia court on Jan. 14 for the trial of Jeffrey Sterling, who was convicted of leaking classified information about operations against Iran. Sterling worked on a CIA project aimed at misleading Iranian scientists by feeding modified designs for nuclear-weapons components to the country’s IAEA mission in Austria.

“The goal is to plant this substantial piece of deception information on the Iranian nuclear-weapons program, sending them down blind alleys, wasting their time and money,” according to a May 1997 cable submitted to the court.
The project remains relevant because elements of the IAEA’s suspicions about Iran rest on older information provided by intelligence agencies.

Monitoring Iran

IAEA inspectors don’t only rely on spy data, according to one of the diplomats, who pointed to the agency’s assessment of Iran’s Parchin Military complex, where the country is alleged to have tested high explosives. Satellite imagery analysis and open-source data also play roles, the person said.

Iran probably stopped pursuing a nuclear bomb in 2003, according to the most recently published U.S. National Intelligence Estimate, the consensus of 16 intelligence agencies including the CIA. Still, suspicions linger. The IAEA reported Thursday that its 12-year probe of Iran has stalled.

“While the Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material” inspectors cannot “conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities,” the IAEA said in its quarterly report.

The CIA sting shows the kind of tactics that the U.S. and its allies have used against Iran, according to Dan Joyner, a law professor at the University of Alabama.

“The falsification of nuclear-related documents is a very real part of such states’ efforts to frustrate Iran’s nuclear program,” said Joyner, who has written extensively on nuclear proliferation risks. “This revelation highlights the dangers of reliance by the IAEA upon evidence concerning Iran provided to it by third party states whose political agendas are antithetical to Iran.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan Tirone in Vienna at jtirone@bloomberg.net
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Alan Crawford at acrawford6@bloomberg.net Ben Sills, Tony Czuczka

Is Boko Haram a CIA Covert Op to Divide and Conquer Africa?

Is Boko Haram a CIA Covert Op to Divide and Conquer Africa?

by Julie Lévesque, Global Research, February 14, 2015

http://www.globalresearch.ca/is-boko-haram-a-cia-covert-op-to-divide-and-conquer-africa/5431177

The objectives of the US military presence in Africa are well documented: counter Chinese influence and control strategic locations and natural resources including oil reserves. This was confirmed more than 8 years ago by the US State Department:

In 2007, US State Department advisor Dr. J. Peter Pham commented on AFRICOM’s strategic objectives of “protecting access to hydrocarbons and other strategic resources which Africa has in abundance, a task which includes ensuring against the vulnerability of those natural riches and ensuring that no other interested third parties, such as China, India, Japan, or Russia, obtain monopolies or preferential treatment.” (Nile Bowie, CIA Covert Ops in Nigeria: Fertile Ground for US Sponsored Balkanization Global Research, 11 April 2012)

At the beginning of February,  AFRICOM’s “head General David Rodriguez called for a large-scale US-led ‘counterinsurgency’ campaign against groups in West Africa during remarks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC:

In similar remarks at a the US Army West Point academy last week, US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) chief General Joseph Votel said that US commando teams must prepare for new deployments against Boko Haram and the Islamic State. ” (Thomas Gaist, US AFRICOM Commander Calls for “Huge” Military Campaign in West Africa, World Socialist Web Site, February 02, 2015)

Mark P. Fancher highlighted the hypocrisy and the “imperialist arrogance” of western countries, which “notwithstanding the universal condemnation of colonialism”, are evermore willing “to publicly declare (without apologies) their plans to expand and coordinate their military presence in Africa.” (Mark P. Fancher, Arrogant Western Military Coordination and the New/Old Threat to Africa, Black Agenda Report, 4 February 2015)

Now more troops from Benin, Cameroon, Niger, Nigeria and Chad are being sent to fight against Boko Haram.

This new war on yet another shadowy terrorist entity in Africa is reminiscent of the failed Kony 2012 propaganda campaign cloaked in humanitarian ideals. It is used as a smoke screen to avoid addressing the issue of the victims of the war on terror, the real causes of terrorism and to justify another military invasion. It is true that Boko Haram makes victims, however the goal of Western intervention in Africa is not to come to their rescue.

The deadliest conflict in the world since the Second World War and still raging is happening in Congo and the Western elite and its media couldn’t care less. That alone shows that military interventions are not intended to save lives.

To understand why the media focuses on Boko Haram, we need to know what it is and who is behind it.  What is the underlying context, what interests are being served?

Is Boko Haram another US clandestine operation?

Boko Haram is based in northeast Nigeria, the most populated country and largest economy in Africa. Nigeria is the largest oil producer of the continent with 3.4% of the World’s  reserves of crude oil.

In May 2014, African Renaissance News published an in-depth report on Boko Haram, wondering whether it could be another CIA covert operation to take control of Nigeria:

[T]he greatest prize for AFRICOM and its goal to plant a PAX AMERICANA in Africa would be when it succeeds in the most strategic African country, NIGERIA. This is where the raging issue of BOKO HARAM and the widely reported prediction by the United States Intelligence Council on the disintegration of Nigeria by 2015 comes into perspective…(Atheling P Reginald Mavengira, “Humanitarian Intervention” in Nigeria: Is the Boko Haram Insurgency Another CIA Covert Operation? Wikileaks, African Renaissance News, May 08, 2014)

In the 70′s an 80′s Nigeria assisted several African countries “in clear opposition and defiance to the interests of the United States and its western allies which resulted in a setback for Western initiatives in Africa at the time.” (Ibid.)

Nigeria exerted its influence in the region through the leadership of the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG, right), an army consisting of soldiers from various African countries and set up by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and which intervened in the Liberian civil war in the 90′s. Liberia was founded in 1821 by the US and led by American-Liberians for over a century.

The Western powers, first and foremost the US, are obviously not willing to let Africans have a multinational army in which they have no leading role. ACRI, which later became Africom, was formed in 2000 to contain Nigeria’s influence and counter ECOMOG, thus avoiding the emergence of an African military force led by Africans.

According to Wikileaks reports mentioned in Mavengira’s article above, the US embassy in Nigeria serves as an

operating base for wide and far reaching acts of subversion against Nigeriawhich include but [are] not limited to eavesdropping on Nigerian government communication, financial espionage on leading Nigerians, support and funding of subversive groups and insurgents, sponsoring of divisive propaganda among the disparate groups of Nigeria and the use of visa blackmail to induce and coerce high ranking Nigerians into acting in favour of US interests.” (Mavengira, op., cit., emphasis added)

Mavengira is part of the GREENWHITE Coalition, “a citizen’s volunteer watchdog made up of Nigerians of all ethnic groups and religious persuasions.” He writes that the ultimate goal of the American clandestine operations in his country is “to eliminate Nigeria as a potential strategic rival to the US in the African continent.” (Ibid.)

An investigation into Boko Haram by the Greenwhite Coalition revealed that the “Boko Haram campaign is a covert operation organized by the American Central Intelligence Agency, CIA and coordinated by the American Embassy in Nigeria.” The U.S has used its embassy for covert operations before. The one in Benghazi was proven to be a base for a covert gun-running operation to arm the mercenaries fighting against Bashar Al-Assad in Syria. As for the embassy in Ukraine, a video from November 2013 emerged recently showing a Ukrainian parliamentarian exposing it as the central point of yet another clandestine operation designed to foment civil unrest and overthrow the democratically-elected government.

The Greenwhite Coalition report on Boko Haram reveals a three stage plan of the National Intelligence Council of the United States to “Pakistanize” Nigeria, internationalize the crisis and divide the country under a UN mandate and occupying force. The plan “predicts” Nigeria’s disintegration for 2015. It is worth quoting at length:

The whole [National Intelligence Council] report actually is a coded statement of intentions on how [by] using destabilization plots the US plans to eventually dismember Nigeria […]

Stage 1: Pakistanizing Nigeria

With the scourge of Boko Haram as an existential reality, in the coming months the spate of bombings and attacks on public buildings are likely to escalate.

The goal is to exacerbate tension and mutual suspicion among adherents of the two faiths in Nigeria and leading to sectarian violence […]

Stage 2: Internationalizing the Crisis

[T]here will be calls from the United States, European Union and United Nations for a halt to the violence. […] For effect, there will be carpet bombing coverage by the International media on the Nigerian crisis with so-called experts discussing all the ramifications who will strive to create the impression that only benevolent foreign intervention could resolve the crisis.

Stage 3: The Great Carve out under UN Mandate

There will be proposals first for an international peace keeping force to intervene and separate the warring groups and or for a UN mandate for various parts of Nigeria to come under mandated occupying powers. Of course behind the scenes the US and its allies would have secretly worked out which areas of Nigeria to occupy guided as it were by naked economic interests […] (Ibid., emphasis added)

In 2012, Nile Bowie wrote:

The Nigerian Tribune has reported that Boko Haram receives funding from different groups from Saudi Arabia and the UK, specifically from the Al-Muntada Trust Fund, headquartered in the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia’s Islamic World Society [8]. During an interview conducted by Al-Jazeera with Abu Mousab Abdel Wadoud, the AQIM leader states that Algeria-based organizations have provided arms to Nigeria’s Boko Haram movement “to defend Muslims in Nigeria and stop the advance of a minority of Crusaders” [9].

It remains highly documented that members of Al-Qaeda (AQIM) and the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) who fought among the Libyan rebels directly received arms [10] and logistical support [11] from NATO bloc countries during the Libyan conflict in 2011[…]

Image: Abdelhakim Belhadj, rebel leader during the 2011 war in Libya and former commander of the Al-Qaeda-linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.

As covertly supporting terrorist organizations to achieve foreign policy aims appears to be the commanding prerequisite of foreign policy operations under the Obama Administration, Boko Haram exists as a separate arm of the US destabilization apparatus, aimed at shattering Africa’s most populous nation and biggest potential market. (Nile Bowie, CIA Covert Ops in Nigeria: Fertile Ground for US Sponsored Balkanization Global Research, 11 April 2012)

Reports also indicate that some Nigerian commanders may be involved in fuelling the insurgency.

According to the report, a Nigerian soldier in Borno state confirmed that Boko Haram attacked Gamboru Ngala in their presence but their commander asked them not to repel the attack. The soldier told BBC Hausa Service that choppers hovered in the air while the attacks were ongoing. 300 people were killed, houses and a market burnt while soldiers watched and were ordered not to render assistance to those being attacked.  The soldier said that the Boko Haram insurgency will end when superior officers in the army cease to fuel it.

At the abductions of Chibok girls, one soldier in an interview told SaharaReporters,

“…we were ordered to arrest vehicles carrying the girls but just as we started the mission, another order was issued that we should pull back. I can assure you, nobody gave us any directives to look for anybody.”

Some soldiers suspect  that their commanders reveal military operations to the Boko Haram sect. (Audu Liberty Oseni, Who is Protecting Boko Haram. Is the Nigerian Government involved in a Conspiracy?, africanexecutive.com, May 28, 2014)

Could it be that these commanders have been coerced by elements in the U.S. embassy, as suggested by the aforementioned Greewhite Coalition investigation?

Boko Haram: The next chapter in the fraudulent, costly, destructive and murderous war on terror?

It has been clearly demonstrated that the so-called war on terror has increased terrorism. As Nick Turse explained:

[Ten] years after Washington began pouring taxpayer dollars into counterterrorism and stability efforts across Africa and its forces first began operating from Camp Lemonnier [Djibouti], the continent has experienced profound changes, just not those the U.S. sought. The University of Birmingham’s Berny Sèbe ticks off post-revolutionary Libya, the collapse of Mali, the rise of Boko Haram in Nigeria, the coup in the Central African Republic, and violence in Africa’s Great Lakes region as evidence of increasing volatility. “The continent is certainly more unstable today than it was in the early 2000s, when the U.S. started to intervene more directly,” he told me. (Nick Turse, The Terror Diaspora: The U.S. Military and Obama’s Scramble for Africa, Tom Dispatch, June 18, 2013)

What exactly does the U.S. seek in Africa?

When it comes to overseas interventions, decades of history have shown that the stated intents of the U.S. Army are never its real intents. The real intent is never to save humans, but always to save profits and power. US-NATO interventions do not save. They kill.

US-led interventions since the beginning of the century have killed hundreds of thousands, if not over a million innocent people. It’s hard to tell because NATO does not really want to know how many civilians it kills. As The Guardian noted in August 2011, except for a brief period, there was “no high-profile international project dedicated to recording deaths in the Libya conflict”.

In February 2014, “at least 21,000 civilians [were] estimated to have died violent deaths as a result of the war” in Afghanistan according to Cost of War. As for Iraq, by May 2014 “at least 133,000 civilians [were] killed by direct violence since the invasion.”

As for Libya, the mainstream media first lied about the fact that Gaddafi initiated the violence by attacking peaceful protesters, a false narrative intended to demonize Gaddafi and galvanize public opinion in favour of yet another military intervention. As the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs reported, “violence was actually initiated by the protesters.”

It stated further:

The government responded to the rebels militarily but never intentionally targeted civilians or resorted to “indiscriminate” force, as Western media claimed […]

The biggest misconception about NATO’s intervention is that it saved lives and benefited Libya and its neighbors. In reality, when NATO intervened in mid-March 2011, Qaddafi already had regained control of most of Libya, while the rebels were retreating rapidly toward Egypt. Thus, the conflict was about to end, barely six weeks after it started, at a toll of about 1,000 dead, including soldiers, rebels, and civilians caught in the crossfire. By intervening, NATO enabled the rebels to resume their attack, which prolonged the war for another seven months and caused at least 7,000 more deaths. (Alan Kuperman, Lessons from Libya: How Not to Intervene, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, September 2013)

Despite these figures, the media will once again try to convince us that what the world needs most at the moment is to get rid of the terrorist group Boko Haram and that a military intervention is the only solution, even though the so-called war on terror has actually increased terrorism globally. As Washington’s Blog pointed out in 2013, “global terrorism had been falling from 1992 until 2004… but has been skyrocketing since 2004.”

The Guardian reported back in November 2014:

The Global Terrorism Index recorded almost 18,000 deaths last year, a jump of about 60% over the previous year. Four groups were responsible for most of them: Islamic State (Isis) in Iraq and Syria; Boko Haram in Nigeria; the Taliban in Afghanistan; and al-Qaida in various parts of the world. (Ewen MacAskill, Fivefold increase in terrorism fatalities since 9/11, says report, The Guardian, November, 18, 2014)

What the Guardian fails to mention is that all these groups, including Boko Haram and the Islamic State, have been, in one way or another, armed, trained and financed by the US-NATO alliance and their allies in the Middle East.

Thanks to the covert support of Western countries, arms dealers and bankers profiting from killing and destruction, the war on terror is alive and well. The West advocates for endless military interventions, pretending to ignore the real causes of terrorism and the reason why it expands, hiding its role in it and thereby clearly showing its real intent: fuelling terrorism to destabilize and destroy nations, thus justifying military invasion and achieving their conquest of the African continent’s richest lands under the pretext of saving the world from terror.


Selected articles on Boko Haram

Audu Liberty Oseni, Who is Protecting Boko Haram. Is the Nigerian Government involved in a Conspiracy?, africanexecutive.com, May 28, 2014

Kurt Nimmo, U.S. and France Target Boko Haram and Focus on Africa’s Strategic Minerals, Infowars, January 14, 2015

Emile Schepers, Boko Haram: An Extremism Firmly Rooted in Nigeria’s Colonial Past, Morning Star, May 17, 2014

Ajamu Baraka, The Destabilization of Africa and the Role of “Shadowy Islamists”. From Benghazi to Boko Haram, Black Agenda Report 14 May 2014

Glen Ford, Coming Soon: A U.S. Death Squad Program for West Africa Black Agenda Report, May 28, 2014

Adeyinka Makinde, Nigeria: Candidate for Political Destabilization and “Regime Change”?, adeyinkamakinde.blogspot.co.uk, June 15, 2013

Kurt Nimmo, Is Boko Haram An “Intelligence Asset”? Terror Attack in Nigeria Opens Door to Africom, Infowars.com, May 10, 2014

Prof. Horace Campbell, Boko Haram: “Economic Fundamentalism” and Impoverishment Send Unemployed Youths Into Religious Militias, Pambazuka News 4 June 2014

Abayomi Azikiwe, The Militarization of the African Continent: AFRICOM Expands Operations in Cooperation With Europe, Global Research, April 22, 2014

US-UK planned fake border incidents in Middle East in 1957

Macmillan backed Syria assassination plot

Documents show White House and No 10 conspired over oil-fuelled invasion plan

57 Years Ago: U.S. and Britain Approved Use of Islamic Extremists to Topple Syrian Government

Have the U.S. and Its Allies Intentionally Balkanized Syria Into Smaller Regions?

BBC reports that – in 1957 – the British and American leaders approved the use of Islamic extremists and false flag attacks to topple the Syrian government:

Nearly 50 years before the war in Iraq, Britain and America sought a secretive “regime change” in another Arab country… by planning the invasion of Syria and the assassination of leading figures.

Newly discovered documents show how in 1957 [former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom] Harold Macmillan and President Dwight Eisenhower approved a CIA-MI6 plan to stage fake border incidents as an excuse for an invasion by Syria’s pro-western neighbours, and then to “eliminate” the most influential triumvirate in Damascus.

***

Although historians know that intelligence services had sought to topple the Syrian regime in the autumn of 1957, this is the first time any document has been found showing that the assassination of three leading figures was at the heart of the scheme. In the document drawn up by a top secret and high-level working group that met in Washington in September 1957, Mr Macmillan and President Eisenhower were left in no doubt about the need to assassinate the top men in Damascus.

***

Mr Macmillan ordered the plan withheld even from British chiefs of staff, because of their tendency “to chatter”.

***

Driving the call for action was the CIA’s Middle East chief Kermit Roosevelt, grandson of former president Theodore Roosevelt.

Kermit Roosevelt had a proven track record in this sort of thing.  According to the New York Times, he was the leader of the CIA’s coup in Iran in 1953, which – as subsequently admitted by the CIA – used false flag terror to topple the democratically elected leader or Iran.

BBC continues:

More importantly, Syria also had control of one of the main oil arteries of the Middle East, the pipeline which connected pro-western Iraq’s oilfields to Turkey.

***

The report said that once the necessary degree of fear had been created, frontier incidents and border clashes would be staged to provide a pretext for Iraqi and Jordanian military intervention. Syria had to be “made to appear as the sponsor of plots, sabotage and violence directed against neighbouring governments,” the report says. “CIA and SIS should use their capabilities in both the psychological and action fields to augment tension.”

***

The plan called for funding of a “Free Syria Committee” [hmmm … sounds vaguely familiar], and the arming of “political factions with paramilitary or other actionist capabilities” within Syria. The CIA and MI6 would instigate internal uprisings, for instance by the Druze [a Shia Muslim sect] in the south, help to free political prisoners held in the Mezze prison, and stir up the Muslim Brotherhood in Damascus.

Is it purely coincidence that the U.S. has heavily armed Al Qaeda Muslim extremists in Syria (and see this), and trained the jihadis who later became ISIS?

Regime change in Syria was not a once-off plan.   Neoconservatives also planned regime change in Syria more than 20 years ago … in 1991.

The West Has Been Arbitrarily Breaking Up Middle Eastern Countries for 100 Years

The Western powers agreed 100 years ago to arbitrarily divvy up the Middle East, without regard for historical boundries.

Neooconservatives in the U.S. and Israel have long advocated for the balkanization of Syria into smaller regions based on ethnicity and religion.

The goal was to break up the country, and to do away with the sovereignty of Syria as a separate nation. (The same goal has long applied to Iraq and other Arab states as well.)

In 1982, a prominent Israeli journalist formerly attached to the Israeli Foreign Ministry allegedly wrote a book expressly calling for the break up of Syria:

All the Arab states should be broken down, by Israel, into small units ….

Dissolution of Syria and Iraq later on into ethnically or religiously unique areas such as in Lebanon, is Israel’s primary target on the Eastern front in the long run.

In any event, it is well-documented that – in 1996 – U.S. and Israeli Neocons advocated:

Weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria ….

Michel Chossudovsky pointed out last month:

Destabilization and political fragmentation in Syria is also contemplated: Washington’s intent is no longer to pursue the narrow objective of “regime change” in Damascus. What is contemplated is the break up of both Iraq and Syria along sectarian-ethnic lines.

And the following map prepared by Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph Peters (retired colonel of the U.S. National War Academy) in the Armed Forces Journal in June 2006 shows a balkanized Syria and Middle East:

In summary, we don’t have conclusive proof that the U.S., Israeli or their allies have intentionally broken up Syria.

But in light of such claims – and the 57-year old American-British plan to stir up Muslim Brotherhood and other religious extremists  in Syria – maps showing the Islamic jihadi group ISIS’ carving up of Syria (and Iraq) into “the Islamic State” are interesting, indeed:

http://heavyeditorial.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/territorial_control_of_the_isis-svg.png?w=640&h=489

Seymour Hersh: “US intelligence believes Turkey supplied sarin gas to Syrian rebels”

Sy Hersh Reveals Potential Turkish Role in Syria Chemical Strike That Almost Sparked U.S. Bombing

http://www.democracynow.org/2014/4/7/sy_hersh_reveals_potential_turkish_role

Interview with Seymour Hersh on Democracy Now, April 7, 2014

Was Turkey behind last year’s Syrian chemical weapons attack? That is the question raised in a new exposé by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh on the intelligence debate over the deaths of hundreds of Syrians in Ghouta last year. The United States, and much of the international community, blamed forces loyal to the Assad government, almost leading to a U.S. attack on Syria. But Hersh reveals the U.S. intelligence community feared Turkey was supplying sarin gas to Syrian rebels in the months before the attack took place — information never made public as President Obama made the case for launching a strike. Hersh joins us to discuss his findings.

 

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: As Syria continues to remove its chemical weapons arsenal under the monitoring of the United Nations, a new article by the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh questions what happened last year in the Syrian city of Ghouta, when hundreds of Syrians died in a chemical weapons attack. The United States and much of the international community blamed forces loyal to the Assad government, and the incident almost led the U.S. to attack Syria. But according to Hersh, while President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry were making the case for U.S. strikes, analysts inside the U.S. military and intelligence community were privately questioning the administration’s central claim about who was behind the chemical weapons attack.

According to Hersh, the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency issued a highly classified five-page “talking points” briefing on June 19th which stated the Syrian rebel group al-Nusra maintained a sarin production cell. According to the DIA, it was, quote, “the most advanced sarin plot since al-Qaida’s pre-9/11 effort.” The DIA document went on to state, quote, “Turkey and Saudi-based chemical facilitators were attempting to obtain sarin precursors in bulk, tens of kilograms, likely for the anticipated large scale production effort in Syria.” A month before the DIA briefing was written, more than ten members of al-Nusra were arrested in southern Turkey with what local police told the press were two kilograms of sarin.

Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh now joins us from Washington, D.C. His latest piece is headlined “The Red Line and the Rat Line.” It was just published in the London Review of Books.

Sy Hersh, welcome back to Democracy Now! Lay out what you have found.

SEYMOUR HERSH: Well, you just laid out part of it. I think the most important thing about the document is that—as you know, I was on this show, and the London Review did a piece that I wrote, months ago, questioning just the whole issue of “Whose Sarin?”—was the title. It wasn’t clear. This doesn’t mean we know exactly what happened in eastern Ghouta. What we do know—I’m talking about the military, the Pentagon and the analysts—is that the sarin that was recovered wasn’t the kind of sarin that exists in the Syrian arsenal. It just raises a grave question about one of the basic elements of the president’s argument for planning to go to war. The real point of the Shedd document, and the reason I wrote so much about it, is because when I did that piece months ago, the White House said they know of no such document, and there’s no—they have no information about sarin being in the hands of al-Nusra or other radical groups or jihadist groups inside Syria.

Here’s what’s scary about it. What’s scary about it is the military community—I know that the Southern Command, etc., were very worried about this possibility. The war is going badly for some of these jihadist groups. They obviously—more than al-Nusra, other groups obviously have the capacity now to manufacture sarin, with the help of Turkey, and the fear is that as the war goes bad, some of this sarin—you can call it a strategic weapon, perhaps; when used right, it can kill an awful lot of people very quickly—is going to be shipped to their various units outside of Syria. In other words, they’re going to farm out the chemicals they have, who knows where—northern Africa, the Middle East, other places—and then you have a different situation that we are confronting in terms of the war on terror. That’s the reality.

Meanwhile, the White House’s position, again, with this article, once again, even though we—this document they claim no longer existed, we ran a big chunk of it. Clearly, I have access to it. They are still insisting, “We know of no such document.” This head-in-the-sand approach really has to do with something I write about in the article. I quote people as saying, once the president makes a decision, it’s almost impossible to change—to get it changed. The president decided that the Syrians did it, and we’re justified in thinking that and continuing to think that, no other option exists. And so, he’s predicated a foreign policy which is a head-in-the-sand policy, because, meanwhile, we have a serious problem with these kind of weapons, particularly as Syria gets rid of the weapons. The only people inside Syria with those weapons are the wackos. And so, there we are.

AMY GOODMAN: What is the rat line?

SEYMOUR HERSH: The rat line is an informal designation of a—the CIA is—there’s a lot of very competent people in the CIA. I give it a hard time, but you’ve got to acknowledge a very—a lot of very bright people still work there, and they know what they’re doing. During the Iranian war, when—during when Cheney and Bush were deeply involved in trying to find out whether there was a secret underground nuclear facility inside Iran—they absolutely believed it—we would send in Joint Special Operation Command teams undercover from Pakistan, from wherever, through routes that the CIA had known for smuggling and moving cash. They would use those rat lines to go in.

And the rat line in this case is, very early in 2012, when this—I don’t know why, but maybe because of the hubris over what—the victory we thought we had in Libya ousting Gaddafi, which is a mess of its own, we set up a covert, a very secret operation inside Libya to funnel arms through Turkey into the Syrian opposition, including all sides—those who were secular, those who had legitimate grievances against the Assad government, and the other groups sponsored by the Saudis and Qataris, who are really trying to create a Wahhabi or Salafist government in Syria, take it over. And this was a very secret operation. It went for a long time. It only ended when the consulate in Benghazi was overrun. And it was done without—as I write, without telling Congress. And the reason we even know about it, there was a recent Senate Intelligence Committee report on Benghazi that was published a few months back raising questions about security, etc., the same issues Republicans constantly talk about, but there was a secret annex to the report that described this process of funneling stuff. And it was done with money, actually, from the Turks, from the Saudis and the Qataris. We sort of used their money, and we funneled—to use it to buy weapons and funnel it. The CIA was deeply involved in this.

In effect, you could almost say that, in his own way, Obama—you can call it shrewd or brilliant. He was almost channeling Saudi Arabia and Qatari and the Turks to get something done we wanted done, which was to have the opposition defeat Bashar al-Assad. And that’s what it was. It was a long-running operation. It only ended—and, by the way, when it ended with the—when we shut it down after Benghazi was overrun, we suddenly saw all kinds of crazy weapons be showing up, including MANPADS, the shoulder-held anti-aircraft missiles. We showed—they were suddenly showing up inside—inside Syria in the hands of various jihadist groups. So, clearly, the rat line we set up after we shut it down had a life of its own, which is often that happens in these kind of operations.

AMY GOODMAN: After the Syria talks concluded earlier this year, Secretary of State John Kerry renewed his backing of the departure of Bashar al-Assad and said the United States is prepared to increase support for the rebel opposition.

SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY: No one has done more to make Syria a magnet for terrorists than Bashar al-Assad. He is the single greatest magnet for terrorism that there is in the region. And he has long since, because of his choice of weapons, because of what he has done, lost any legitimacy. … I will just say to you that lots of different avenues will be pursued, including continued support to the opposition and augmented support to the opposition.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Secretary of State John Kerry. Sy Hersh, your response?

SEYMOUR HERSH: Well, by this time, they knew from the Joint Chiefs of Staff—they knew that the British had come to us with sarin that had been analyzed at their laboratory and that—we share a laboratory on chemical and biological warfare issues with Britain, place called Porton Down. It’s their chemical warfare facility. And we, Americans, share that in terms of analyzing international problems when it comes to chemical and biological warfare. So it’s a lot of—we have a lot of confidence in the British competence. And so, the Brits came to us with samples of sarin, and they were very clear there was a real problem with these samples, because they did not reflect what the Brits know and we know, the Russians knew, everybody knew, is inside the Syrian arsenal. They have—professionals armies have additives to sarin that make it more persistent, easier to use. The amateur stuff, they call it kitchen sarin, sort of a cold phrase. You can make sarin very easily with a couple of inert chemicals, but the sarin you make isn’t very—isn’t as lethal as a professional military-grade sarin and doesn’t have certain additives. So, you can actually calibrate what’s in it. They came to us, very early, within six, eight days, 10 days, of the August 21, last year’s terrible incident inside—near Damascus, when hundreds were killed. And it was overwhelming evidence.

And so, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, led by its chairman, Martin Dempsey, an Army officer of many years of experience—he was commander of the Central Command, covered the Middle East—they did go to the president, and they raised questions. They let him know the problems. And they also talked about the fact that the military was, I can say, unhappy. Military people tend to be—when you give them an assignment, they’ll do it, but often they see the risk more than civilian leaders. The first—the president wanted a wave of bombing, and the military came up with a list of a number of targets—I think 21, 31, something like that, targets—runways and other stuff. And they were told by the White House—I don’t know who—that they wanted something that would create more pain for Bashar. So then, the next thing you know, they’re coming back with a massive bombing attack, two air wings of B-52 bombers dropping 2,000-pound bombs, hitting power nodes, electricity nodes, etc., the kind of attack that would cause an awful lot of damage to civilian infrastructure. And that was an awful lot for the Joint Chiefs, and they really raised that question with the president.

And as I write, I don’t think there’s any other issue that would have forced him to stop as he did. The notion of we’re going to suddenly go back and sign a chemical disarmament treaty with the Syrians, that the Russians had been talking about, that had been raised a year earlier, and we didn’t bite them. He clearly jumped on it then. And he—look, you’ve got to give the president credit. As much as he wanted to and as much as he talked about it, when faced with reality, he backed down. He didn’t say why. But, you know, we don’t expect—we have learned not to expect very much credibility on foreign policy issues. Unfortunately, the fact that we don’t get straight talk from the top means that the bureaucracy can’t do straight talk. If you’re inside the bureaucracy, you can’t really tell the White House something they don’t want to know.

AMY GOODMAN: Uh—

SEYMOUR HERSH: That’s—yes, go ahead.

AMY GOODMAN: Sy, I want to talk Turkey for a minute.

SEYMOUR HERSH: Sure.

AMY GOODMAN: In your piece, you mention the leaked video of a discussion between the Turkish prime minister, Erdogan, and senior officials of a false flag operation that would justify Turkish military intervention in Syria. This is Erdogan’s response to the leaked recording.

PRIME MINISTER RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: [translated] Today they posted a video on YouTube. There was a meeting at the Turkish Foreign Ministry on Syria, on the tomb of Suleyman Shah. And they even leaked this on YouTube. This is villainous. This is dishonesty.

AMY GOODMAN: Turkey briefly imposed a ban on YouTube following the leaked recording. Sy Hersh, could you explain what the Erdogan administration’s support for the rebels, the Turkish support for the rebels, has consisted of and where the U.S. now stands on this?

SEYMOUR HERSH: Well, where we stand on it now is that there’s not much we can do about it, because—well, let me just tell you what we know. What we do know, that Turkey is—that al-Nusra groups have been inside Turkey buying equipment. There’s also reports that they’ve also received some training from the Turkish intelligence services, which is very—is headed by a man named Fidan, who is very known. There’s reports, wonderful report in The Wall Street Journal recently about Fidan’s closeness not only to Erdogan, the prime minister and the leader of Turkey, but also to the most radical units. And so is Erdogan. They’re all supporting—if they have a choice, they’re supporting the more fundamental groups inside Syria. And so, we know they supply training. We know also there’s a—there’s, I guess you could call it, another rat line. There’s a flow—if you’re going to send the chemicals that, when mixed together, meddled together, make sarin, they flow—that flow comes from inside Turkey. A sort of a paramilitary unit known as the gendarmy—Gendarmerie and the MIT [Milli Istihbarat Teskilati] both are responsible for funneling these things into radical groups. There’s actually a flow of trucks that brings the stuff in. And so, Turkish involvement is intense.

And I can tell you, and as I wrote in this article, the conclusion of many in the intelligence community—I can’t say it’s a report, because they didn’t write a report about it—the conclusion was, based on intercepts we have, particularly after the event, was that there were elements of the Turkish government that took credit for what happened in eastern Ghouta, with the point being that this sarin attack crossed Obama’s famous red line. If you know, Obama had said in the summer of 2012, there’s a red line that, if they cross in terms of using chemicals or doing too much, the opposition, he will bomb to stop Bashar. And so, Turkey was dying, trying, repeatedly in the spring—there’s a lot of evidence there were some attacks in the spring. The U.N. knows this, although they don’t say it. I write about that, too, in the article. And also, the American community knew. That’s the reason why that secret report I wrote about, the talking paper, was written. We knew that the radicals were—had used—the jihadist groups had access to nerve agent and had used it against Syrian soldiers in March and April. Those incidents that were always described by our government as being the responsibility of the rebels, with high confidence, it’s just not so. And the report makes it clear. We have had a huge problem before the August attack in—near Damascus. We knew about this potential for months before. We just—it’s the kind of information, for some reason, it doesn’t fit with what the administration wanted to hear, so it just never got out. And that—

AMY GOODMAN: On—

SEYMOUR HERSH: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: Sy, on Sunday, the website EA WorldView published a piece headlined “There is No Chemical Weapons Conspiracy—Dissecting Hersh’s ‘Exclusive’ on Insurgents Once More.” The author, Scott Lucas, questioned the claim that rebels could have been responsible for the chemical weapons attack last August, given the range and scale of the operation. He wrote, quote, “Reports on the day and subsequently indicated that 7-12 sites were attacked with chemical agents at the same time. In other words, whoever was responsible for the attacks launched multiple surface-to-surface rockets with chemical payloads against opposition-held towns in East Ghouta and one town in West Ghouta, near Damascus. [The chemical] attacks were … followed by … heavy conventional attacks.” The author, Scott Lucas, says that you fail to ask questions about whether anyone, apart from the regime, would have the ability to carry out such an extensive operation. Sy?

SEYMOUR HERSH: [inaudible] first article on—we’re past that. We now know. Actually, The New York Times even ran a retraction, of sorts. You had a—it was like reading Pravda. But if you read the article carefully, The New York Times had run a series of articles after the event saying that the warheads in question that did the damage came from a Syrian army base, something like nine kilometers, six miles, away. And at that time, there were a number of analysts, a group from MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology], led by Ted Postol, who used to be a science adviser to the CNO, the chief of naval operations, clearly somebody with a great deal of background and no bias. He did a series of studies with his team that concluded that the warheads probably didn’t go more than one or two, at most, kilometers—two kilometers, 1.2 miles. And we now know from the U.N. report—a man named Ake Sellstrom, who ran the U.N. investigation, he’s concluded the same thing: These missiles that were fired were fired no more than a mile.

They were—one looks—just from the footage one saw, they were homemade. They didn’t fit any of the nomenclature of the known weapons. And don’t think we don’t have a very good picture of what the Syrians have in terms of warheads. They have a series of warheads that can deliver chemical weapons, and we know the dimensions of all of them. And none of these weapons fit that. And so, you have a U.N. report. You have this independent report saying they were—went no more than one or two kilometers. And so, I don’t know why we’re talking about multiple-launch rockets. These are homemade weapons. And it seems very clear to most observers—as I say, even to the U.N. team that did the final report—the U.N., because of whatever rules they have, wasn’t able to say that—who fired what. They could just say—they just could describe the weapons and never make a judgment. But I can tell you, I quote somebody from inside that investigation unit who was very clear that the weapons fired were homemade and were not Syrian army. This is asked and answered; these are arguments that go on. This is—I assume it’s a blog. I don’t know the—I don’t know the blog.

AMY GOODMAN: And—

SEYMOUR HERSH: But this has been going—yes?

AMY GOODMAN: And Turkey’s interest, if it were the case, in pushing the red line and supporting an attack that would be attributed to Assad—their interest in getting the U.S. to attack Syria?

SEYMOUR HERSH: Oh, my god, totally of great interest, because Erdogan has put—the prime minister of Turkey has put an enormous amount of effort and funds and others, including his intelligence service, in the disposable in the—he and Bashar are like, you know, at loggerheads. He wants to see him go. And he’s been on the attack constantly, supporting the most radical factions there. And also, I must say he’s also supporting the secular factions, the people who seriously want to overthrow Bashar and don’t want to see a jihadist regime; they just want to see a government that’s not controlled by one family, you know? But there’s no question Turkey has a deep investment in this. And it’s going badly. It’s very clear now that the Syrian army has the upper hand and is essentially—the war is essentially over. I know, I don’t like to—in terms of getting rid of Bashar, that’s no longer a done deal. There’s going to be some outpost, perhaps, in areas near Turkey where there will be various factions. They’ll be under pressure from the Syrian army all the way. But, essentially, this is a losing card we have. We don’t like to admit it, but that’s it. Bashar has held on. And whatever that means—

AMY GOODMAN: Seymour Hersh, I want to thank you very much for being with us, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist, Washington, [D.C.]. We will have a link to your latest piece in the London Review of Books, headlined “The Red Line and the Rat Line.” This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. When we come back, 20 years ago today, the genocide in Rwanda began. We’ll go to Kigali. Stay with us.

Prince Bandar said Saudi Arabia “controls” Chechen rebels

Saudis offer Russia secret oil deal if it drops Syria

Saudi Arabia has secretly offered Russia a sweeping deal to control the global oil market and safeguard Russia’s gas contracts, if the Kremlin backs away from the Assad regime in Syria.

The Telegraph (UK), By , August 27, 2013

The revelations come amid high tension in the Middle East, with US, British, and French warship poised for missile strikes in Syria. Iran has threatened to retaliate.

The strategic jitters pushed Brent crude prices to a five-month high of $112 a barrel. “We are only one incident away from a serious oil spike. The market is a lot tighter than people think,” said Chris Skrebowski, editor of Petroleum Review.

Leaked transcripts of a closed-door meeting between Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan shed an extraordinary light on the hard-nosed Realpolitik of the two sides.

Prince Bandar, head of Saudi intelligence, allegedly confronted the Kremlin with a mix of inducements and threats in a bid to break the deadlock over Syria. “Let us examine how to put together a unified Russian-Saudi strategy on the subject of oil. The aim is to agree on the price of oil and production quantities that keep the price stable in global oil markets,” he said at the four-hour meeting with Mr Putin. They met at Mr Putin’s dacha outside Moscow three weeks ago.

“We understand Russia’s great interest in the oil and gas in the Mediterranean from Israel to Cyprus. And we understand the importance of the Russian gas pipeline to Europe. We are not interested in competing with that. We can cooperate in this area,” he said, purporting to speak with the full backing of the US.

The talks appear to offer an alliance between the OPEC cartel and Russia, which together produce over 40m barrels a day of oil, 45pc of global output. Such a move would alter the strategic landscape.

The details of the talks were first leaked to the Russian press. A more detailed version has since appeared in the Lebanese newspaper As-Safir, which has Hezbollah links and is hostile to the Saudis.

As-Safir said Prince Bandar pledged to safeguard Russia’s naval base in Syria if the Assad regime is toppled, but he also hinted at Chechen terrorist attacks on Russia’s Winter Olympics in Sochi if there is no accord. “I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us,” he allegedly said.

Prince Bandar went on to say that Chechens operating in Syria were a pressure tool that could be switched on an off. “These groups do not scare us. We use them in the face of the Syrian regime but they will have no role in Syria’s political future.”

President Putin has long been pushing for a global gas cartel, issuing the `Moscow Declaration’ last to month “defend suppliers and resist unfair pressure”. This would entail beefing up the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF), a talking shop.

Mr Skrebowski said it is unclear what the Saudis can really offer the Russians on gas, beyond using leverage over Qatar and others to cut output of liquefied natural gas (LGN). “The Qataris are not going to obey Saudi orders,” he said.

Saudi Arabia could help boost oil prices by restricting its own supply. This would be a shot in the arm for Russia, which is near recession and relies on an oil price near $100 to fund the budget.

But it would be a dangerous strategy for the Saudis if it pushed prices to levels that endangered the world’s fragile economic recovery. Crude oil stocks in the US have already fallen sharply this year. Goldman Sachs said the “surplus cushion” in global stocks built up since 2008 has been completely eliminated.

Mr Skrebowski said trouble is brewing in a string of key supply states. “Libya is reverting to war lordism. Nigerian is drifting into a bandit state with steady loss of output. And Iraq is going back to the sort of Sunni-Shia civil war we saw in 2006-2007,” he said.

The Putin-Bandar meeting was stormy, replete with warnings of a “dramatic turn” in Syria. Mr Putin was unmoved by the Saudi offer, though western pressure has escalated since then. “Our stance on Assad will never change. We believe that the Syrian regime is the best speaker on behalf of the Syrian people, and not those liver eaters,” he said, referring to footage showing a Jihadist rebel eating the heart and liver of a Syrian soldier.

Prince Bandar in turn warned that there can be “no escape from the military option” if Russia declines the olive branch. Events are unfolding exactly as he foretold.

Who profits from killing Charlie?

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/World/WOR-01-080115.html

THE ROVING EYE
Who profits from killing Charlie?
By Pepe Escobar

Putin did it. Sorry, he didn’t. In the end, it was not Russia “aggression” that attacked the heart of Europe. It was a pro-style jihadi commando. Cui bono?

Careful planning and preparation; Kalashnikovs; rocket-propelled grenade launcher; balaclavas; sand-colored ammunition vest stuffed with spare magazines; army boots; piece of cake escape in a black Citroen. And the icing on the lethal cake; faultless Paris-based logistical support to pull that off. A former top French military commander, Frederic Gallois, has stressed the perfect application of “urban guerrilla technique” (where are those notorious Western counter-terrorism “experts” when one needs them?)

They might have spoken perfect French; others said it was broken

French. Anyway, what matters is that they uttered the magic word; “We’re al-Qaeda.” Better yet; they told a man in the street, “Tell the media that this is al-Qaeda in Yemen”, which means, in American terror terminology, al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP), which had Charlie Hebdo’s editor/cartoonist Stephane Charbonnier (“Charb”) on a hit list duly promoted by AQAP’s glossy magazine Inspire. Accusation: “Insulting the Prophet Mohammed.”

And just to make sure everyone had the perpetrators implanted on their brain, the killers also said, “Allahu Akbar”; “We have killed Charlie Hebdo”; and “We have avenged the Prophet.”

Case closed? Well, it took only a few hours for French police to identify the (usual?) suspects; French-Algerian brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi. The third man – the driver of the black Citroen, 18-year-old Hamyd Mourad – then turned himself in with an ironclad alibi. So the third man remains a cipher.

They all wore balaclavas. The Kouachi brothers have not been captured. But the police seem to know very well who they are. Because they found an abandoned ID in the black Citroen (oh, the troubles of being a command in a rush …) How come they didn’t know anything before the carnage?

Right on cue, Cherif Kouachi’s bio was splattered all over. He was on a global watch list. Along with six others, he was sentenced in May 2008 to 3 years in prison for “terrorism”; in fact unloading a dozen young Frenchmen via madrassas in Egypt and Syria to none other than Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the killed-by-an-American-missile former head of Al-Qaeda in Iraq and the spiritual father of Daesh/ISIS/ISIL.

Also right on clue, a full narrative was ready for mass consumption. The key point; French police privileges the hypothesis of “Islamic terrorism”. According to their “experts”, this could be an attack “ordered from abroad and executed by jihadis coming back from Syria that have escaped us”, or it could be “suburban idiots that radicalized themselves and concocted this military attack in the name of al-Qaeda.”

Scrap option two, please; this was a pro job. And staying with option one, this points right at – what else – blowback. Yes, they could be Daesh/ISIS/ISIL mercenaries trained by NATO (crucially, France included) in Turkey and/or Jordan. But it might get even false-flag nastier. They could also be former or current French special forces.

Blast Islam, will travel
Predictably, Islamofascism peddlers are already having a field day/week/month/year. For simpletons/trolls/hordes exhibiting an IQ worthy of sub-zoology, when in doubt, demonize Islam. It’s so convenient to forget that untold millions from Pakistan’s tribal areas to street markets across Iraq continue to feel pain devastating their hearts and lives as they are expendable victims of the jihadi mindset – or “Kalashnikov culture”, as it is known in Pakistan – profiting the “West”, directly or indirectly, for decades now. Think ritual droning of Pakistani, Yemeni, Syrian, Iraqi or Libyan civilians. Think Sadr City witnessing carnages over 10 times worse than Paris.

What French President Francois Hollande defined as “an act of exceptional barbarism” – and it is – does not apply when the “West”, France in the front line, from King Sarko to General Hollande himself, weaponizes, trains and remote-controls assorted mercenaries/beheaders from Libya to Syria. Oh yeah; killing civilians in Tripoli or Aleppo is perfectly all right. But don’t do that in Paris.

So this, in the heart of Europe, is what blowback feels like. This is what people feel in the Waziristans when a wedding party is incinerated by a Hellfire missile. In parallel, it’s absolutely impossible that the oh so sophisticated Western intel network had not seen blowback coming – and was impotent to prevent it (how come the scapegoats du jour, the Kouachi brothers, were not in the gallows?)

Of course the ultra-elaborate Western counter-terrorism expert network – so proficient at strip-teasing us all at every airport – saw it coming; but in shadow warland, portmanteau “al-Qaeda” and its myriad declinations, including “renegade” Daesh/ISIS/ISIL, are used as much as a mercenary army as a convenient domestic threat “against our freedoms”.

Who profits?
US Think Tankland, also predictably, is busy spinning the drama of an “intra-Muslim” split which provides jihadis a lot of geopolitical space to exploit – all this sucking the Western world into a Muslim civil war. This is absolutely ridiculous. The Empire of Chaos, already during the 70s, was busy cultivating jihadi/Kalashnikov culture to fight anything from the USSR to nationalist movements all across the Global South. Divide and Rule has always been used to fan the flames “intra-Islam”, from the Clinton administration getting cozy with the Taliban to the Cheney regime – helped by Persian Gulf vassals – advancing the sectarian Sunni/Shi’ite schism.

Cui bono, then, with killing Charlie? Only those whose agenda is to demonize Islam. Not even a bunch of brainwashed fanatics would pull off the Charlie carnage to show people who accuse them of being barbarians that they are, in fact, barbarians. French intel at least has concluded that this is no underwear bomber stunt. This is a pro job. That happens to take place just a few days after France recognizes Palestinian statehood. And just a few days after General Hollande demanded the lifting of sanctions against the Russian “threat”.

The Masters of the Universe who pull the real levers of the Empire of Chaos are freaking out with the systemic chaos in the racket they so far had the illusion of controlling. Make no mistake – the Empire of Chaos will do what it can to exploit the post-Charlie environment – be it blowback or false flag.

The Obama administration is already mobilizing the UN Security Council. The FBI is “helping” with the French investigation. And as an Italian analyst memorably put it, jihadis don’t attack a vulture hedge fund; they attack a satirical rag. This is not religion; this is hardcore geopolitics. Reminds me of David Bowie: “This is not rock’n roll. This is suicide.”

The Obama administration is already mobilized to offer “protection” – Mob-style – to a Western Europe that is just, only just, starting to be diffident of the pre-fabricated Russian “threat”. And just as it happens, when the Empire of Chaos mostly needs it, evil “terra” once again rears its ugly head.

And yes, I am Charlie. Not only because they made us laugh; but because they were sacrificial lambs in a much nastier, gruesome, never-ending shadowplay.

Pepe Escobar’s latest book is Empire of Chaos. Follow him on Facebook. He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com.

War by media and the triumph of propaganda

 
http://johnpilger.com/articles/war-by-media-and-the-triumph-of-propaganda

War by media and the triumph of propaganda
John Pilger, 5 December 2014

Why has so much journalism succumbed to propaganda? Why are censorship and distortion standard practice? Why is the BBC so often a mouthpiece of rapacious power? Why do the New York Times and the Washington Post deceive their readers?
 
Why are young journalists not taught to understand media agendas and to challenge the high claims and low purpose of fake objectivity? And why are they not taught that the essence of so much of what’s called the mainstream media is not information, but power?
 
These are urgent questions. The world is facing the prospect of major war, perhaps nuclear war – with the United States clearly determined to isolate and provoke Russia and eventually China. This truth is being turned upside down and inside out by journalists, including those who promoted the lies that led to the bloodbath in Iraq in 2003.
 
The times we live in are so dangerous and so distorted in public perception that propaganda is no longer, as Edward Bernays called it, an “invisible government”. It is the government. It rules directly without fear of contradiction and its principal aim is the conquest of us: our sense of the world, our ability to separate truth from lies.
 
The information age is actually a media age. We have war by media; censorship by media; demonology by media; retribution by media; diversion by media – a surreal assembly line of obedient clichés and false assumptions.
 
This power to create a new “reality” has been building for a long time. Forty-five years ago, a book entitled The Greening of America caused a sensation. On the cover were these words: “There is a revolution coming. It will not be like revolutions of the past. It will originate with the individual.”
 
I was a correspondent in the United States at the time and recall the overnight elevation to guru status of the author, a young Yale academic, Charles Reich. His message was that truth-telling and political action had failed and only “culture” and introspection could change the world.
 
Within a few years, driven by the forces of profit, the cult of “me-ism” had all but overwhelmed our sense of acting together, our sense of social justice and internationalism. Class, gender and race were separated. The personal was the political, and the media was the message.
 
In the wake of the cold war, the fabrication of new “threats” completed the political disorientation of those who, 20 years earlier, would have formed a vehement opposition.
 
In 2003, I filmed an interview in Washington with Charles Lewis, the distinguished American investigative journalist. We discussed the invasion of Iraq a few months earlier. I asked him, “What if the freest media in the world had seriously challenged George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld and investigated their claims, instead of channeling what turned out to be crude propaganda?”
 
He replied that if we journalists had done our job “there is a very, very good chance we would have not gone to war in Iraq.”
 
That’s a shocking statement, and one supported by other famous journalists to whom I put the same question. Dan Rather, formerly of CBS, gave me the same answer.  David Rose of the Observer and senior journalists and producers in the BBC, who wished to remain anonymous, gave me the same answer.
 
In other words, had journalists done their job, had they questioned and investigated the propaganda instead of amplifying it, hundreds of thousands of men, women and children might be alive today; and millions might not have fled their homes; the sectarian war between Sunni and Shia might not have ignited, and the infamous Islamic State might not now exist.
 
Even now, despite the millions who took to the streets in protest, most of the public in western countries have little idea of the sheer scale of the crime committed by our governments in Iraq. Even fewer are aware that, in the 12 years before the invasion, the US and British governments set in motion a holocaust by denying the civilian population of Iraq a means to live.
 
Those are the words of the senior British official responsible for sanctions on Iraq in the 1990s – a medieval siege that caused the deaths of half a million children under the age of five, reported Unicef. The official’s name is Carne Ross. In the Foreign Office in London, he was known as “Mr. Iraq”. Today, he is a truth-teller of how governments deceive and how journalists willingly spread the deception. “We would feed journalists factoids of sanitised intelligence,” he told me, “or we’d freeze them out.”
 
The main whistleblower during this terrible, silent period was Denis Halliday. Then Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations and the senior UN official in Iraq, Halliday resigned rather than implement policies he described as genocidal.  He estimates that sanctions killed more than a million Iraqis.
 
What then happened to Halliday was instructive. He was airbrushed. Or he was vilified. On the BBC’s Newsnight programme, the presenter Jeremy Paxman shouted at him: “Aren’t you just an apologist for Saddam Hussein?” The Guardian recently described this as one of Paxman’s “memorable moments”. Last week, Paxman signed a £1 million book deal.
 
The handmaidens of suppression have done their job well. Consider the effects. In 2013, a ComRes poll found that a majority of the British public believed the casualty toll in Iraq was less than 10,000 – a tiny fraction of the truth. A trail of blood that goes from Iraq to London has been scrubbed almost clean.
 
Rupert Murdoch is said to be the godfather of the media mob, and no one should doubt the augmented power of his newspapers – all 127 of them, with a combined circulation of 40 million, and his Fox network. But the influence of Murdoch’s empire is no greater than its reflection of the wider media.
 
The most effective propaganda is found not in the Sun or on Fox News – but beneath a liberal halo. When the New York Times published claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, its fake evidence was believed, because it wasn’t Fox News; it was the New York Times.
 
The same is true of the Washington Post and the Guardian, both of which have played a critical role in conditioning their readers to accept a new and dangerous cold war. All three liberal newspapers have misrepresented events in Ukraine as a malign act by Russia – when, in fact, the fascist led coup in Ukraine was the work of the United States, aided by Germany and Nato.
 
This inversion of reality is so pervasive that Washington’s military encirclement and intimidation of Russia is not contentious. It’s not even news, but suppressed behind a smear and scare campaign of the kind I grew up with during the first cold war.
 
Once again, the evil empire is coming to get us, led by another Stalin or, perversely, a new Hitler. Name your demon and let rip.
 
The suppression of the truth about Ukraine is one of the most complete news blackouts I can remember. The biggest Western military build-up in the Caucasus and eastern Europe since world war two is blacked out. Washington’s secret aid to Kiev and its neo-Nazi brigades responsible for war crimes against the population of eastern Ukraine is blacked out. Evidence that contradicts propaganda that Russia was responsible for the shooting down of a Malaysian airliner is blacked out.
 
And again, supposedly liberal media are the censors. Citing no facts, no evidence, one journalist identified a pro-Russian leader in Ukraine as the man who shot down the airliner. This man, he wrote, was known as The Demon. He was a scary man who frightened the journalist. That was the evidence.
 
Many in the western media haves worked hard to present the ethnic Russian population of Ukraine as outsiders in their own country, almost never as Ukrainians seeking a federation within Ukraine and as Ukrainian citizens resisting a foreign-orchestrated coup against their elected government.
 
What the Russian president has to say is of no consequence; he is a pantomime villain who can be abused with impunity. An American general who heads Nato and is straight out of Dr. Strangelove – one General Breedlove – routinely claims Russian invasions without a shred of visual evidence. His impersonation of Stanley Kubrick’s General Jack D. Ripper is pitch perfect.
 
Forty thousand Ruskies were massing on the border, according to Breedlove. That was good enough for the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Observer – the latter having previously distinguished itself with lies and fabrications that backed Blair’s invasion of Iraq, as its former reporter, David Rose, revealed.
 
There is almost the joi d’esprit of a class reunion. The drum-beaters of the Washington Post are the very same editorial writers who declared the existence of Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction to be “hard facts”.
 
“If you wonder,” wrote Robert Parry, “how the world could stumble into world war three – much as it did into world war one a century ago – all you need to do is look at the madness that has enveloped virtually the entire US political/media structure over Ukraine where a false narrative of white hats versus black hats took hold early and has proved impervious to facts or reason.”
 
Parry, the journalist who revealed Iran-Contra, is one of the few who investigate the central role of the media in this “game of chicken”, as the Russian foreign minister called it. But is it a game? As I write this, the US Congress votes on Resolution 758 which, in a nutshell, says: “Let’s get ready for war with Russia.”
In the 19th century, the writer Alexander Herzen described secular liberalism as “the final religion, though its church is not of the other world but of this”. Today, this divine right is far more violent and dangerous than anything the Muslim world throws up, though perhaps its greatest triumph is the illusion of free and open information.
 
In the news, whole countries are made to disappear. Saudi Arabia, the source of extremism  and western-backed terror, is not a story, except when it drives down the price of oil. Yemen has endured twelve years of American drone attacks. Who knows? Who cares?
 
In 2009, the University of the West of England published the results of a ten-year study of the BBC’s coverage of Venezuela. Of 304 broadcast reports, only three mentioned any of the positive policies introduced by the government of Hugo Chavez. The greatest literacy programme in human history received barely a passing reference.
 
In Europe and the United States, millions of readers and viewers know next to nothing about the remarkable, life-giving changes implemented in Latin America, many of them inspired by Chavez. Like the BBC, the reports of the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Guardian and the rest of the respectable western media were notoriously in bad faith. Chavez was mocked even on his deathbed. How is this explained, I wonder, in schools of journalism?
 
Why are millions of people in Britain are persuaded that a collective punishment called “austerity” is necessary?
 
Following the economic crash in 2008, a rotten system was exposed. For a split second the banks were lined up as crooks with obligations to the public they had betrayed.
 
But within a few months – apart from a few stones lobbed over excessive corporate “bonuses” – the message changed. The mugshots of guilty bankers vanished from the tabloids and something called “austerity” became the burden of millions of ordinary people. Was there ever a sleight of hand as brazen?
 
Today, many of the premises of civilised life in Britain are being dismantled in order to pay back a fraudulent debt – the debt of crooks. The “austerity” cuts are said to be £83 billion. That’s almost exactly the amount of tax avoided by the same banks and by corporations like Amazon and Murdoch’s News UK. Moreover, the crooked banks are given an annual subsidy of £100bn in free insurance and guarantees – a figure that would fund the entire National Health Service.
 
The economic crisis is pure propaganda. Extreme policies now rule Britain, the United States, much of Europe, Canada and Australia. Who is standing up for the majority? Who is telling their story? Who’s keeping record straight? Isn’t that what journalists are meant to do?
 
In 1977, Carl Bernstein, of Watergate fame, revealed that more than 400 journalists and news executives worked for the CIA. They included journalists from the New York Times, Time and the TV networks. In 1991, Richard Norton Taylor of the Guardian revealed something similar in this country.
 
None of this is necessary today. I doubt that anyone paid the Washington Post and many other media outlets to accuse Edward Snowden of aiding terrorism. I doubt that anyone pays those who  routinely smear Julian Assange – though other rewards can be plentiful.
 
It’s clear to me that the main reason Assange has attracted such venom, spite and jealously is that WikiLeaks tore down the facade of a corrupt political elite held aloft by journalists. In heralding an extraordinary era of disclosure, Assange made enemies by illuminating and shaming the media’s gatekeepers, not least on the newspaper that published and appropriated his great scoop. He became not only a target, but a golden goose.
 
Lucrative book and Hollywood movie deals were struck and media careers launched or kick-started on the back of WikiLeaks and its founder. People have made big money, while WikiLeaks has struggled to survive.
 
None of this was mentioned in Stockholm on 1 December when the editor of the Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, shared with Edward Snowden the Right Livelihood Award, known as the alternative Nobel Peace Prize. What was shocking about this event was that Assange and WikiLeaks were airbrushed. They didn’t exist. They were unpeople. No one spoke up for the man who pioneered digital whistleblowing and handed the Guardian one of the greatest scoops in history. Moreover, it was Assange and his WikiLeaks team who effectively – and brilliantly – rescued Edward Snowden in Hong Kong and sped him to safety. Not a word.
 
What made this censorship by omission so ironic and poignant and disgraceful was that the ceremony was held in the Swedish parliament – whose craven silence on the Assange case has colluded with a grotesque miscarriage of justice in Stockholm.
 
“When the truth is replaced by silence,” said the Soviet dissident Yevtushenko, “the silence is a lie.”
 
It’s this kind of silence we journalists need to break. We need to look in the mirror. We need to call to account an unaccountable media that services power and a psychosis that threatens world war.
 
In the 18th century, Edmund Burke described the role of the press as a Fourth Estate checking the powerful. Was that ever true? It certainly doesn’t wash any more. What we need is a Fifth Estate: a journalism that monitors, deconstructs and counters propaganda and teaches the young to be agents of people, not power. We need what the Russians called perestroika – an insurrection of subjugated knowledge. I would call it real journalism.
 
It’s 100 years since the First World War. Reporters then were rewarded and knighted for their silence and collusion. At the height of the slaughter, British prime minister David Lloyd George confided in C.P. Scott, editor of the Manchester Guardian: “If people really knew [the truth] the war would be stopped tomorrow, but of course they don’t know and can’t know.”
 
It’s time they knew.
 
Follow John Pilger on twitter @johnpilger
 

How the Israel Lobby Protected Ukrainian Neo-Nazis

http://www.alternet.org/world/how-israel-lobby-protected-ukrainian-neo-nazis

How the Israel Lobby Protected Ukrainian Neo-Nazis

Rep. John Conyers wanted to block U.S. funding to neo-Nazis in Ukraine. But the ADL and Simon Wiesenthal Center refused to help.

AlterNet has learned that an amendment to the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would have forbidden US assistance, training and weapons to neo-Nazis and other extremists in Ukraine was kept out of the final bill by the Republican-led House Rules Committee. Introduced by Democratic Representative John Conyers, the amendment was intended to help tamp down on violent confrontations between Ukrainian forces and Russian separatists. (Full text of the amendment embedded at the end of this article).

A USA Today/Pew poll conducted in April while the NDAA was being debated found that Americans opposed by more than 2 to 1 providing the Ukrainian government with arms or other forms of military assistance.

If passed, Conyers’ amendment would have explicitly barred those found to have offered “praise or glorification of Nazism or its collaborators, including through the use of white supremacist, neo-Nazi, or other similar symbols” from receiving any form of support from the US Department of Defense.

The amendment was presented by congressional staffers to lobbyists from Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, two of the country’s largest established Jewish pressure groups. Despite their stated mission to combat anti-Semitism and violent extremism, the ADL and Wiesenthal Center refused to support Jeffries and Conyers’ proposal.

According to Democratic sources in Congress, staffers from the ADL’s Washington office and the Simon Wiesenthal Center rejected the amendment on the grounds that right-wing Ukrainian parties like Svoboda with documented records of racist extremism had “moderated their rhetoric.” An ADL lobbyist insisted that “the focus should be on Russia,” while the Wiesenthal Center pointed to meetings between far-right political leaders in Ukraine and the Israeli embassy as evidence that groups like Svoboda and Right Sector had shed their extremism.

The ADL’s Washington office and the Simon Wiesenthal Center did not respond to numerous requests by email and telephone for comment.

Earlier this year, the ADL’s outgoing National Director Abraham Foxman noted Svoboda’s “history of anti-Semitism and platform of ethnic nationalism” in a press release demanding the party renounce its past glorification of Stepan Bandera, a World War Two-era Nazi collaborator who has become a symbol of Ukrainian nationalism.

When the Ukrainian parliament failed to pass a bill this October honoring Bandera’s Ukrainian Rebel Army, about 8000 supporters of Svoboda and the extremist Right Sector marched on the building, attacking riot police with homemade weapons while waving Banderist flags and Svoboda banners. The violent backlash was a reminder that the legend of Bandera would not die any time soon, and that Foxman’s admonitions had fallen on deaf ears.

Svobodoa’s leader, Oleh Tyahnybok, once called for the liberation of his country from the “Muscovite-Jewish mafia.” In 2010, following the conviction of the Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk for his supporting role in the death of nearly 30,000 people at the Sobibor camp, Tyahnybok flew to Germany to praise him as a hero who was “fighting for truth.”

Since the Euromaidan revolution, however, Svoboda has fought to rehabilitate its image. This has meant meeting with Israeli Ambassador to Ukraine Reuven Din El and appealing to shared national values. “I would like to ask Israelis to also respect our patriotic feelings,” Tyahnybok has remarked. “Probably each party in the [Israeli] Knesset is nationalist. With God’s help, let it be this way for us too.”

Right Sector, the radical right-wing movement that battled riot police during the latter stages of the Euromaidan uprising, earned plaudits from the ADL’s Foxman when its leader arranged his own meeting with Din El. “[Right Sector leader] Dmitry Yarosh stressed that Right Sector will oppose all [racist] phenomena, especially anti-Semitism, with all legitimate means,” the Israeli embassy declared.

The results of this month’s Ukrainian parliamentary elections were widely portrayed as a setback for the ultra-nationalist right-wing, with Svoboda taking around 6 percent of the vote while Yarosh’s Right Sector failed to qualify for seats. The outcome cheered the American Jewish Committee, which declared that “Jews in most of Ukraine are heartened by the election results and even optimistic about the country’s future.”

But the dismal showing by the traditional ultra-nationalist parties was hardly evidence of a diminished right-wing. With President Petro Poroshenko leading the nationalists’ dream war in the East, Svoboda and Right Sector lost the protest vote they had commanded during the heady years of insurrection. As Anton Shekhovtsov, an expert on Europe’s radical right, explained, “in 2012, Svoboda was also considered almost the only ‘patriotic’ party, but now all democratic parties are patriotic, so Svoboda has lost its ‘monopoly’ on patriotism.”

During the national election campaign, Ukraine’s leading party, the People’s Front of neoliberal Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, was honeycombed with far-right militants. Andrei Parubiy, the co-founder of the neo-Nazi-inspired Social National Party and former chief of the Maidan defense committees, was among the extremists who won seats on the People’s Front ticket.

Besides Parubiy, the People’s Front included Andriy Biletsky, leader of the Azov militia, an overtly neo-Nazi fighting force that has been on the front lines of the battle against Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. Azov deputy commander Vadym Troyan joined him on the party’s electoral list, rounding out a peculiar mix of khaki shirt clad fascists and buttoned-down neo-liberals.

Unlike Svoboda, these figures do not even feign moderation. “The historic mission of our nation in this critical moment is to lead the White Races of the world in a final crusade for their survival,” Biletsky recently wrote. “A crusade against the Semite-led Untermenschen.”

Azov fighters are united by their nostalgia for Nazi Germany and embrace of open fascism. Sporting swastika tattoos, the battalion “flies a neo-Nazi symbol resembling a Swastika as its flag,” the New York Times’ Andrew Kramer recently reported.

With the government in a state of flux, Azov is filling the void in the East. As Ukrainian parliamentarian Gregory Nemira complained to reporter Anna Nemtsova in September, “The president still has not appointed a chief of staff for the armed forces. He has not admitted we are in a state of war, preferring to throw the battalions like Azov into the most dangerous combat zones, where authorities would not have the courage to send regular troops.”

Azov is precisely the sort of neo-Nazi organization that Conyers’ NDAA amendment would have deprived of US assistance. But when the congressman sought help from the ADL and the Wiesenthal Center in moving the proposal forward, he was rebuked. The amendment died a quiet death and Azov’s American supply line remains intact.

November 18, 2014  

 

Rwanda’s massacres preceded by a false-flag operation covered-up by the UN

Evidence of Kagame’s Crimes Suppressed by Chief Rwanda Prosecutor Louise Arbour – Affidavit of Michael Andrew Hourigan

http://www.globalresearch.ca/evidence-of-kagames-crimes-suppressed-by-chief-rwanda-prosecutor-louise-arbour-testimony-of-michael-andrew-hourigan/5377200

COMPLETE DOCUMENT

Date of document:                                          27 November 2006

Filed on behalf of the Plaintiff by:            

Michael Hourigan

Carrington House

61-63 Carrington Street

Adelaide South Austrlia 5000

AUSTRALIA

Ph: (08) 8237 0584

Mobile: 0415 668 732

Fax: (08) 8237 0555

Email: mikehourigan@gmail.com                                                                    

Date and time of filing or transmission:    27 November 2006

AFFIDAVIT

I, MICHAEL ANDREW HOURIGAN Lawyer of 61-63 Carrington Street Adelaide 5000 in the State of South Australia Solicitor MAKE OATH AND SAY as follows:

1                    I am a qualified legal practitioner in the State of South Australia. I was also a former police detective before completing a law degree in 1995 after which time I took up a post as a Crown Prosecutor with the Director of Public Prosecutions (D.P.P. Adelaide).

2                    In April, 1996 I left the D.P.P. in Adelaide and took up a position as an investigator with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

3                    Soon after my arrival in Rwanda I was put made a team leader in charge of a team consisting of about 20 members and the team was to be known as ‘the National Team’.

4                    I was directed by Judge Richard Goldstone (the then Chief Prosecutor) and Judge Honoré Rakotomana (the then ICTR Prosecutor) and Mr. Alphonse Breau (the then Director of Investigations) to focus my teams investigations on the following matters:-

4.1.            investigate the criminal conduct of Colonel Theoneste Bagosora and then locate and arrest him;

4.2.            investigate the criminal conduct of Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva and then locate and arrest him;

4.3.            Investigate the murder of thousands of Rwandan elite in the first days of the genocide by the Rwandan Presidential.

4.4.            identify the person(s) responsible for the fatal rocket attack on 6 April 1994 killing President Habyarimana and all others on board;

5                    Together with my investigators we conducted investigations into these matters throughout the next year. During the course of 1996 I was called upon to brief Judge Goldstone and then his replacement Judge Louise Arbour and other senior prosecutors on the progress of our investigations into Bagosora, Nsengiyumva, the Presidential Guard and the rocket attack upon President Habyarimana’s aircraft.

6                    At no time did Judge Goldstone, Judge Arbour or any other member of the ICTR ever indicate to me that our investigations into the downing of the President Habyrimana’s aircraft were outside the ICTR mandate. On the contrary, it was made clear to me that our investigations into the rocket attack upon the President’s aircraft was an act of international terrorism which clearly fell within the ICTR statute Article 4 Violations of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions:-

Article 4: Violations of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions and of Additional Protocol II

The International Tribunal for Rwanda shall have the power to prosecute persons committing or ordering to be committed serious violations of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 for the Protection of War Victims, and of Additional Protocol II thereto of 8 June 1977. These violations shall include, but shall not be limited to:

a) Violence to life, health and physical or mental well-being of persons, in particular murder as well as cruel treatment such as torture, mutilation or any form of corporal punishment;

b)

c)

d) Acts of terrorism;

e)

f)

g)

h)

7                    I am pleased to say that the National Team was successful and we achieved the following results:-

7.1.            Located, arrested and charged Colonel Theoneste Bagosora with Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity;

7.2.            Located, arrested and charged Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity;

7.3.            Gathered evidence against senior members of the Presidential Guard in relation to the killing of key Rwandan citizens, including but not limited to, UNAMIR-protected VIPS  Justice Joseph Kavaruganda, (President of the Constitutional Court) and Vice President  Lando Ndasingwa (the head of the Parti liberal);

7.4.            In late January or early February 1997 members of the National Team were approached by three (3) informants (either former or serving member of the R.P.F.) claiming direct involvement in the 1994 fatal rocket attack upon the President’s aircraft. Their evidence specifically implicated the direct involvement of President Paul Kagame, members of his administration and military. The informants also advised that the Kagame administration was actively involved in covert operations aimed at murdering high profile expatriate Rwandans – once such murder was the death of Seth Sedashonga in Nairobi.

8                    With respect to the highly sensitive information from the three informants regarding the plane crash I immediately informed my Commander Jim Lyons. My Director Mr. Alphonse Breau was out of the country and I arranged for him to be told by telephone.

9                    The information from the sources was very detailed and seemed very credible. I was very concerned about the sensitivity of the information and arranged for an urgent ‘secure’ telephone call to Judge Arbour.

10                Commander Jim Lyons and I attended at the US Embassy in Kigali and I made a call to Judge Arbour at the US Embassy in the Hague using an encrypted (‘secure’) STU III telephone. I informed Judge Arbour in considerable detail about the information implicating President Kagame. She was excited by the break through and advised me that the information corroborated some other information she had just learnt from Alison Des Forge the week before. At no time did she suggest that our investigations were improper. On the contrary, I would describe her mood as upbeat and excited that at last we were making significant progress into the events surrounding the plane crash.

11                Judge Arbour was concerned about the safety of the informants and my men. I advised her that the informants’ identities had been kept secure and if she so directed me I would arrange for my investigators involved in the plane crash to leave Rwanda. She directed that my investigators should leave and I agreed to have them travel from the country on suitable inquiries inNairobi. As for me I declined to leave Rwanda and advised her that I wanted to stay with my team and assist them complete other important investigations. She consented to this  but asked me to keep in touch with her while she considered what to do with this sensitive information.

12                During the next week I was directed by senior members of the UN in Kigali that I was required to travel to the ICTY in the Hague in order to meet with Judge Arbour and brief on her on our investigations in the rocket attack upon President Habyarimana’s aircraft.

13                Some days later I was approached at the ICTR headquarters in Kigali by Mr. Michael Hall, UN Deputy Security (NY). He advised me that I would be flying to Arusha the next day on the ICTR aircraft and from there board an international KLM flight to Amsterdam. Mr. Hall asked me to give him any information that I had on air crash and he would convey it to the airport in a UN diplomatic pouch. I then gave Mr. Hall a single floppy disc containing a memorandum I had prepared for Judge Arbour.

14                The next day Mr. Hall conveyed me to the Kigali airport where I checked in for the UN flight. There Mr. Hall and I were told that the flight was overbooked and that I could not to Arusha. Mr. Hall became agitated and told the UN flight officer that the UN Secretary General Mr. Kofi Annan had personally ordered my attendance in Arusha for an international connection the next day. As a consequence I was given a seat on the UN flight and flew to Arusha.

15                The next day I flew to the Hague and over-knighted in a hotel near the ICTY.

16                The following morning I met with Mr. Al Breau and briefed him on the information concerning the plane crash. Together we discussed forming a special ICTR investigations unit based outside of Kigali to investigate the plane crash.

17                Following breakfast Mr. Breau and I attended at the ICTY and met with Judge Arbour. Also present was Mr. Mohammed Othman, Acting ICTR Prosecutor.

18                I briefed Judge Arbour on the informants and their information regarding the involvement of President Kagame and members of the RPF in the downing of President Habyrimana’s aircraft.

19                I presented her with a copy of a memo I had prepared entitled ‘Secret National Team Inquiry – Internal Memorandum’ and this document which is undated is attached to this statement. This document detailed the information provided by the three informants.

20                To my surprise Judge Arbour was aggressive and questioned me about the source of the information regarding the informants and the quality and potential reliability of their information. I advised her that the information was given to me by members from my team – the National Team. Those members were Amadou Deme and Peter Dnistriansky. I advised her that I held both investigators in the highest regard. I did say that I was not able to provide any advice as to the reliability of their information as it had not been tested. However, I did suggest that it was very detailed and this is itself meant that it could be subjected to considerable forensic examination.

21                Mr. Al Breau also expressed his strong view that both Amadou Deme and Peter Dnistrianksy were highly effective and reliable men.

22                Judge Arbour then advised me that the National Team investigation was at an end because in her view it was not in our mandate. She suggested that the ICTR’s mandate only extended to events within the genocide, which in her view began ‘after’ the plane crash.

23                I was astounded at this statement. I pointed to the temporal mandate of the ICTR being 1 January 1994 until 31 December 1994 and this clearly covered the time of the plane crash. I also addressed the ‘terrorism’ and ‘murder’ provisions of the ICTR statute.

24                More particularly I also told her that this was the first time she had ever suggested that this was outside the ICTR mandate. I reminded her that I had personally briefed her before about our investigations  into the plane crash and that she had never ever expressed a view that this matter should be part of an ICTR inquiry.

25                I expressed my strong view to her that these Rwandan informants were courageous and were deserving of our protection. I cautioned her that the UN had a history of abandoning informants in Rwanda and I specifically reminded her of the UN’s abandonment of Jean Pierre Turatsinze in 1994.

26                Judge then became hostile and asked me if I was challenging her authority to direct to end our investigations into the plane crash.

27                I told her that I was not questioning her authority only her judgement. I informed her that I was her servant and I would obey her direction.

28                Judge Arbour then asked me if the memo that I had prepared for her was the only copy. I told her that it was and she said she was pleased to hear that and placed in her office filing cabinet.

29                She then asked me to leave the room.

30                I was extremely concerned at Judge Arbour’s decision and felt that it was wrong both in law and policy.

31                I returned to Kigali and a short time later resigned from the ICTR.

32                After my resignation from the ICTR I was offered a position as an investigator with the UN’s Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) in New York. Soon after taking up my appointment I was asked to provide OIOS  investigators investigating corruption within the ICTR with a statement re my service in Rwanda for the ICTR.

33                On 1 August 1997 I prepared an internal memorandum detailing various issues which I felt lay behind some of the difficulties with the ICTR. A copy of this memorandum is attached here.

34                The OIOS leadership were not at all interested in the memorandum and they expressed their concern at some of the contents of the document implicating the Secretary General in some of the serious events inRwandain1994.

35                I completed six months with OIOS and resigned.

36                I feel that unknown persons from within the UN leadership and possibly elsewhere pressured Judge Arbour to end the National Team’s investigations into the shooting down of President Habyarimana.

37                Following my resignation my National Team was dismembered – the National Team investigations into the plane crash were brought to an end.

38                I have suffered at the hands of Judge Arbour and the UN because my career with the ICTR was brought to an untimely and ignominious end. I was proud of serving with the ICTR but I felt that I could not work for Judge Arbour when, in my view, she acted for personal reasons against the interests of the ICTR, the UN and world community which we served.

39                I know the facts deposed to herein to be true of my own knowledge, information and belief except where otherwise plainly appears.

Is media just another word for control?

http://johnpilger.com/articles/is-media-just-another-word-for-control

Is media just another word for control?

by John Pilger, 2 January 2014
 
A recent poll asked people in Britain how many Iraqis had been killed as a result of the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The answers they gave were shocking. A majority said that fewer than 10,000 had been killed. Scientific studies report that up to a million Iraqi men, women and children died in an inferno lit by the British government and its ally in Washington. That’s the equivalent of the genocide in Rwanda. And the carnage goes on. Relentlessly.
 
What this reveals is how we in Britain have been misled by those whose job is to keep the record straight. The American writer and academic Edward Herman calls this ‘normalising the unthinkable’. He describes two types of victims in the world of news: ‘worthy victims’ and ‘unworthy victims’. ‘Worthy victims’ are those who suffer at the hands of our enemies: the likes of Assad, Qadaffi, Saddam Hussein. ‘Worthy victims’ qualify for what we call ‘humanitarian intervention’. ‘Unworthy victims’ are those who get in the way of our punitive might and that of the ‘good dictators’ we employ. Saddam Hussein was once a ‘good dictator’ but he got uppity and disobedient and was relegated to ‘bad dictator’.
 
In Indonesia, General Suharto was a ‘good dictator’, regardless of his slaughter of perhaps a million people, aided by the governments of Britain and America. He also wiped out a third of the population of East Timor with the help of British fighter aircraft and British machine guns. Suharto was even welcomed to London by the Queen and when he died peacefully in his bed, he was lauded as enlightened, a moderniser, one of us. Unlike Saddam Hussein, he never got uppity.
 
When I travelled in Iraq in the 1990s, the two principal Moslem groups, the Shia and Sunni, had their differences but they lived side by side, even intermarried and regarded themselves with pride as Iraqis. There was no Al Qaida, there were no jihadists. We blew all that to bits in 2003 with ‘shock and awe’. And today Sunni and Shia are fighting each other right across the Middle East. This mass murder is being funded by the regime in Saudi Arabia which beheads people and discriminates against women. Most of the 9/11 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia. In 2010, Wikileaks released a cable sent to US embassies by the Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. She wrote this: “Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support for Al Qaeda, the Taliban, al Nusra and other terrorist groups… worldwide”. And yet the Saudis are our valued allies. They’re good dictators. The British royals visit them often. We sell them all the weapons they want.
 
I use the first person ‘we’ and ‘our’ in line with newsreaders and commentators who often say ‘we’, preferring not to distinguish between the criminal power of our governments and us, the public. We are all assumed to be part of a consensus: Tory and Labour, Obama’s White House too. When Nelson Mandela died, the BBC went straight to David Cameron, then to Obama. Cameron who went to South Africa during Mandela’s 25th year of imprisonment on a trip that was tantamount to support for the apartheid regime, and Obama who recently shed a tear in Mandela’s cell on Robben Island – he who presides over the cages of Guantanamo.
 
What were they really mourning about Mandela? Clearly not his extraordinary will to resist an oppressive system whose depravity the US and British governments backed year after year. Rather they were grateful for the crucial role Mandela had played in quelling an uprising in black South Africa against the injustice of white political and economic power. This was surely the only reason he was released. Today the same ruthless economic power is apartheid in another form, making South Africa the most unequal society on earth. Some call this “reconciliation”.
 
We all live in an information age – or so we tell each other as we caress our smart phones like rosary beads, heads down, checking, monitoring, tweeting. We’re wired; we’re on message; and the dominant theme of the message is ourselves. Identity is the zeitgeist. A lifetime ago in ‘Brave New World’, Aldous Huxley predicted this as the ultimate means of social control because it was voluntary, addictive and shrouded in illusions of personal freedom. Perhaps the truth is that we live not in an information age but a media age. Like the memory of Mandela, the media’s wondrous technology has been hijacked. From the BBC to CNN, the echo chamber is vast.
 
In his acceptance of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005, Harold Pinter spoke about a “manipulation of power worldwide, while masquerading as a force for universal good, a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.” But, said Pinter, “it never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest.”
 
Pinter was referring to the systematic crimes of the United States and to an undeclared censorship by omission – that is, leaving out crucial information that might help us make sense of the world.
 
Today liberal democracy is being replaced by a system in which people are accountable to a corporate state – not the other way round as it should be. In Britain, the parliamentary parties are devoted to the same doctrine of care for the rich and struggle for the poor. This denial of real democracy is an historic shift. It’s why the courage of Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange is such a threat to the powerful and unaccountable. And it’s an object lesson for those of us who are meant to keep the record straight. The great reporter Claud Cockburn put it well: “Never believe anything until it’s officially denied”.
 
Imagine if the lies of governments had been properly challenged and exposed as they secretly prepared to invade Iraq – perhaps a million people would be alive today.
 
This is a transcript of John Pilger’s contribution to a special edition of  BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme, on 2 January 2014, guest-edited by the artist and musician Polly Harvey. You can listen to the above transcript here
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18spvWk1qko

Maidan snipers: who did or did not know? Everybody knew!

http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.no/2014/03/maidan-snipers-who-did-or-did-not-know.html
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 5, 2014

Maidan snipers: who did or did not know? Everybody knew!

So this morning we have a “revelation” EU officials are discussing the reports that the Maidan snipers were not sent by Yanukovich but that they were insurgents firing on both sides.

Immense surprise everywhere!

Well, a few “minor fringe proponents of conspiracy theories” did mention something like that, but for the “proper and rational people” (the folks who watch TV and read the corporate media) this is a big surprise.

Might make you wonder who really did know about this.

I can tell you.  I have seen it happening many years ago, in the wars in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo.  Here is how this works:

How does intelligence work?

One good model of how intelligence works are the “three As”: Acquisition, Analysis and Acceptance.  Let’s look at them one by one:

Acquisition: this is the collection or raw data which includes translations of the world and, importantly, local press, and all other types of “open sources” such as blogs, magazines, press conferences and releases, official news bulletins etc.  The next level is are the proprietary but not formally classified sources.  Think tank reports, banking documents, commercial documents, corporate memoranda, etc.  Then comes the level in which sources, methods and means must be protected and concealed from public view: informal conversations with officials, radio intercepts, conversations with bankers, with transportation officials (trucks, trains, airlines, shipping), reports from political and military attaches and exchanges with other intelligence services.  Actual “spying” or HUMINT also contributes to this level.  All these multi-level sources provide simultaneous provide raw data which is then analyzed on the next level:

Analysis: first, the data is usually classified by some source of system which gives a rating on a) the source itself (reliable? trustworthy?) and then b) on the information received (corroborated? credible?).  The information is then passed on to the next level analyst who will process it and make a synthesis of his/her main finding for his/her department head (by regions or specialization). These guys then go over the findings and present typically present them in an inter-departmental meeting which then is submitted to the next level.

Acceptance: this is a crucial level because the folks getting the processed information from the analytical section are already not intelligence specialists, but generals (this is a political rank, really), politicians, government officials, etc.  They make the key judgment call as to what to do with the info they get.  They also get to express their satisfaction, or lack thereof, with the intelligence they get and that, in turn, has a direct career impact upon the senior department heads in charge of analysis.  In pain English this means that the top analysts take a big risk if they pass on “politically incorrect” or, rather, “politically unwanted” information up the chain of command.  They, in turn, will whether consciously or unconsciously promote those analysts to do not put them in this difficult situation.

This system works pretty well when dealing with low-visibility or politically neutral or minor issues.  But when a government places its full weight behind “theory A” this system often breaks down and begins sending up the chain of command information which will not result in career loss.  “Theory B” rapidly disappears.

The example of Bosnia:

I can personally attest to the fact that the vast majority of sources did report that the so-called “UN Safe Areas” in Bosnia, which were supposed to be entirely demilitarized, were chock full of Bosnian-Muslim forces and that most of them actually hosted a full Army Corps.  Likewise, everybody knew that the US and Turkey were flying in weapons and dropping them in huge amounts in the Bosnian-Muslim controlled areas.  Furthermore, most analysts were also aware the the bombings of the Markale Market were not committed by Serb, but by unknown individuals shooting from Bosnian-Muslim areas.  In my experience this information was, however, usually simply ignored at the level of department heads.  It was not denied, mind you, and in private conversations all the department heads knew about it, but that is where it stopped.  The pretext?  Always the same one: “it’s a rumor and a detail, not really relevant for the overall picture”.  Nevermind that it came in from all sources, including high rated ones, and nevermind that this info was corroborated many times over.  And nevermind that it paints a totally different picture of a false flag operation which resulted in the US and NATO getting militarily involved.

Then, those who organized the false flag operation in the first place will use their contacts in the corporate media to leak the info. At this point of the big and “reputable” media outlets will quote each other and literally bounce that story off each other, sometimes add a few “details” (aka complete fabrications) or pure speculations (really spins) to the story.  At which point all the politicians are presented with a mass media which literally screams “the world is flat!  the world is flat!” and a few highly classified reports which, at best, report that “some sources claim the world is round”.  Guess with whom the politicians will go?

Back to the Maidan snipers intercept

Now listen carefully to Ashton’s reaction to  news about the insurgent snipers:

“I think that they do want to investigate, gosh!”

What?!  Is she seriously suggesting that the new regime, which came to power courtesy of these snipers, will actually investigate itself?  Is she that dumb?  Of course not!  But she is annoyed by this topic so she just tosses in a simple cop-out which basically means “I am not interested, let the Ukies handle it” (knowing full well that they won’t).

Paet, by the way, immediately get the message and gives a new spin to his previous remark: he mentioned this info not because he is outraged, no, only because if this story takes on its own life this “will discredit the new coalition”. Oh how nice of him, he worries that if the truth comes out the Eurofascists will be embarrassed.  Next time, he won’t even bring it up.  Those central European politicians sure learn fast from their western masters.

But Ashton is not even happy with that, she wants to change the topic, and begins making general pious statements about how it is important that the Rada work well.

End of topic, turn the page, next!

This is how it’s done.  I know. I lost my career over something like that.

As for the media, it is even worse.

There are two types of reporters in a conflict zone:

Type A: never leaves his fortified bunker/hotel and only attends the briefing of whichever side he is with.  Then he sends reports back home claiming that these reports come “from the battle zone”.  He could get the same reports by videoconference sitting at home, but nevermind.

Type B: that is the true frontline reporter.  He does run around under bullets, he interviews local commanders, often on both sides, he spends nights drinking cheap booze with local mafia men or mercenaries and he is often very, very well informed.  In fact, his reports are often used by intelligence services (whether by agreement or by other methods).

Type A just parrots whatever he hears.  The problem with type B is that while he is typically very well informed, he also is typically highly partisan to one side or the other.  If he “turns local” and begins to have sympathies with the ‘bad guys’ he soon as to find new employers,  usually smaller magazines and newspapers, or his career ends.  But if he is on the side of the “good guys” (Empire puppets) then he often sees his role as a participant in the war.  He hates the other side and will use his audience to trash it as much as can be.  Bottom line: even if some reporters are very well informed, the system is such that their reports usually get buried in the small or local media.

There is one exception to this rule: specialized magazines.  During the war in Bosnia you could get far better information from magazines like the US Army’s Parameters, the USN Proceedings or the Reports of the US Military Studies Office or the Occasional Papers of the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, than from the Washington Post or the Wall Street Journal.  This applies to non-English speaking countries too: France, Belgium, Russia, Brazil – they all have their specialized magazines which often are far better informed that the big press.

What does this all mean for you?

What this all means is that the information you are getting from your politicians or the corporate media is at best useless, and typically deliberate fabrications.  There is only one thing you can do about it: throw away your TV, throw away your radio, don’t ever read the papers and basically cut off your brain form the sewage flow.  The next step is to get your info only on the Internet, preferably from “non-major” sources including: local media websites (by local I mean “local to the conflict area”), blogs, discussion groups, specialized and professional websites.

True, there is a lot of garbage on the Internet, so you need to do the same thing as analysts do: begin by rating your sources and then reply mostly on those you trust.  Likewise, you can also begin by rating the information itself.  Language can be a problem, but then built for yourself a list of sources which you trust and which know the local language.

And did you know that it is estimated that 80% of all the information used by a government is “open source” – available to the general public.  As for the 20% of it, it is mostly boring technical stuff of stuff which will become public after a while and but which is critical now.  Not stuff you are ever going to need.

This is not as hard as it seems and most of us doing something similar instinctively.  With a little time and effort cutting yourself totally away from the corporate media and switching to an Internet based selection of sources you trust will give you a totally different view of the world.  If you are then later exposed to the corporate media you will be amazed by the nonsense you hear and you will wonder what the hell they are talking about on the Idiot Tube.  It’s quite fun, really.  Or very discouraging.  Or both.

The exception:

There is one exception to this rule: the new big media which has appeared in recent years to present an anti-CNN option for the world.  First, al-Jazeera, the Russia Today, Telemundo, Press TV, etc.  They have vested interest in debunking the Imperial lies and in presenting the true facts.  However, the example of al-Jazeera which almost suddenly became a propaganda tool during the war on Libya should make us cautious and careful and always keep a eye on whether any of these Internet TV are becoming yet another propaganda tool.

Conclusion:

This sniper business is going nowhere.  Everybody knows about it, and nobody cares.  Just like everybody knows that the Right Sector and Svoboda are neo-Nazi parties, just like everybody knows that the new regime is illegal, illegitimate and that it came to power by deceit and by violence.  Everybody knows and nobody cares as long as “our SOBs win”.  So use this opportunity to “retaliate” against the plutocracy which controls the entire informational space except the Internet and reject their sources.  All of them.

Kind regards and many thanks,

The Saker

Why Thailand is looking like the next Ukraine

Why Thailand is looking like the next Ukraine

By David Pilling

Financial Times, February 27, 2014

<http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/de3cde60-9e4f-11e3-b429-00144feab7de.html#axzz2v1TVNx5r>

The battle lines are drawn in a conflict that is testing the unity of the nation

Something potentially nasty is brewing in Thailand. In recent weeks the world’s attention has understandably been on Ukraine. But the political stand-off in southeast Asia’s second-largest economy is just as intractable. The chances of more serious violence spilling on to the streets is real. For the first time in decades, there have even been murmurings about the possibility of the country splitting into two, with the poorer northeast ceding from a generally richer and more urban south centred on Bangkok.

Of course, it need not come to that. Thailand’s political crisis has, after all, been simmering for years. Somehow the country has managed to carry on – and even to attract bucketloads of foreign investment and large numbers of tourists – in spite of military coups, annulled elections and occasional bloodshed.

Yet the two main sides in the dispute are now more entrenched than ever. If violence is not to boil over with truly frightening consequences, one or both will have to back down. For months, there have been protests on the streets against the government of Yingluck Shinawatra, sister of Thaksin Shinawatra, the self-exiled former prime minister. Protesters say the government is a mere front for Mr Thaksin, who was ousted in a 2006 coup and subsequently sentenced for abuse of state power for corruption. (Mr Thaksin’s lawyers say the trial was politically motivated.) Protests were triggered by a cynical attempt to pass a bill that would have given Mr Thaksin an amnesty.

Ms Yingluck sought to head off the crisis by holding snap elections in February. It did not work. The opposition, which has not mustered an electoral victory in 20 years, boycotted the poll and blockaded polling centres. Turnout was patchy. Although Ms Yingluck’s party won, it was a pyrrhic victory. She must wait for by-elections in uncontested constituencies before she can form a legal government. In the meantime, she heads a caretaker administration devoid of power. Her ministers meet furtively or communicate by email.

Protesters are literally walling off Ms Yingluck’s office. A judicial noose is tightening around her neck. She faces possible impeachment after an anti-corruption body said it would charge her for mismanagement of a rice subsidy scheme.

Ms Yingluck’s days as prime minister are surely numbered. Yet the opposition’s proposals for what comes next are barely credible. It is proposing a non-elected council of the great and the good to bring in unspecified “reforms” and to manage the transition to new elections. So long as universal suffrage is maintained, however, it seems likely that some proxy of Mr Thaksin will win again – as it has in every contested poll since 2001. There is little middle ground. Suthep Thaugsuban, former deputy prime minister and protest leader, has said his movement will win or lose but never compromise.

Lack of faith in national institutions is crippling. The army has mounted 11 successful coups since the end of absolute monarchy in 1932. The government it installed after 2006 was a farce. Mercifully, this time it has stayed on the sidelines. “Judicial coups” have been almost as rife. The courts have dissolved several of Mr Thaksin’s proxy governments. Thais are left with no one to trust.

The monarchy is the one institution that still commands some respect. But King Bhumibol Adulyadej, 86 and in frail health, has withdrawn from the scene, residing outside the capital. When he dies, there is every prospect of a succession crisis. Some even argue that recent street battles are a kind of proxy monarchical struggle with supporters of the Crown Prince and Crown Princess lining up on opposite sides.

The truth is more complex. It is plausible, however, that when the restraining figure of the king is gone, long-suppressed antagonisms will burst to the surface with unpredictable results.

Even if the king were at the height of his powers, it is not clear how he could resolve what is essentially a struggle for power. Broadly, this pits Thailand’s establishment against the previously disenfranchised masses. The establishment thinks the masses have been duped by Mr Thaksin. It does not believe the majority has what it takes to choose wisely. Therein lies the impasse.

The struggle has recently turned more violent. Several people have been killed, including a five-year-old girl. Cities have echoed to the sound of grenade attacks and firefights. The public is revolted by the turn of events.

That could, says Chris Baker, an expert on Thailand, persuade the two sides to pull back from the brink. If both Mr Suthep and Ms Yingluck withdrew, it is just possible, he says, that some kind of compromise could be hammered out. More political autonomy for the northeast could be part of the solution.

Things, though, could just as easily go the other way. If Ms Yingluck is forced to stand down, her supporters may conclude that, no matter how they vote, the establishment will not accept the result. If that is their verdict, trouble lies ahead.

david.pilling@ft.com

Covering Syria: The information war

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/NG12Ak01.html

Covering Syria: The information war
By Aisling Byrne

The narrative that has been constructed by the Western mainstream media on Syria may seem to be self-evident from the scenes presented on television, but it is a narrative duplicitously promoted and coordinated so as to conceal and facilitate the regime-change project that is part of the war on Iran.

What we are seeing is a new stage of information war intentionally constructed and cast as a simplistic narrative of a struggle for human rights and democracy so as deliberately to exclude other interpretations and any geo-strategic motivation.

The narrative, as CNN puts it, is in essence this: “The vast majority of reports from the ground indicate that government forces are killing citizens in an attempt to wipe out civilians seeking [President Bashar] al-Assad’s ouster” – the aim being

precisely to elicit a heart-wrenching emotional response in Western audiences that trumps all other considerations and makes the call for Western/Gulf intervention to effect regime change.

But it is a narrative based on distortion, manipulation, lies and videotape.

In the first months, the narrative was of unarmed protesters being shot by Syrian forces. This then evolved into one of armed insurgents reluctantly “being provoked into taking up arms”, as US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton explained, to defend peaceful protesters.

It was also a narrative that from the outset, according to a recent report in Time magazine, that the US has facilitated by providing training, support and equipment to Syrian opposition “cyber-warriors”.

Reports confirmed by leading Syrian opposition leaders in April 2011 reveal that in addition to cyber-training, weapons and money from Syrian exiles, as well as from a “major Arab Gulf country” and a Lebanese political party, were being distributed to “young demonstrators”. The former head of Russian intelligence, Yevgeny Primakov, similarly noted that the Syrian conflict “started with armed revolts against the authorities, not peaceful demonstrations”.

Ironically, one of the most accurate descriptions of the sectarian conflict we are witnessing in Syria comes from an assessment by the neoconservative Brookings Institute in its March 2012 report “Assessing Options for Regime Change in Syria”, one option being for “the United States [to] fight a “clean” war … and leave the dirty work on the ground to the FSA [Free Syrian Army], perhaps even obviating a massive commitment to Iraq-style nation-building”.

“Let the Arabs do it,” echoed Israeli President Shimon Peres. “Do it yourself and the UN will support you.” This point was not lost on one leading Turkish commentator, who noted that US Senator John McCain “said that there would be no American boots on the ground in Syria. That means we Turks will have to spill our precious blood to get what McCain and others want in the States.”

In the wake of the failures at state-building in Afghanistan and Iraq, direct intervention, with all the responsibilities this would entail, would not go down well in cash-strapped Western nations. Better to get others to do the “dirty work” – pursue “regime change by civil war”.

“The United States, Europe and the Gulf states … are starving the regime in Damascus and feeding the opposition. They have sanctioned Syria … and are busy shoveling money and helping arms supplied by the Gulf get to the rebels,” Joshua Landis, director of the Center of Middle Eastern Studies, wrote in Foreign Policy in June.

With regional allies prepared to do the “dirty work” of providing increasingly sophisticated weapons clearly geared for purposes other than “self-defense”, and the FSA and its jihadist allies doing the “dirty work” within Syria (their salaries paid by Saudi Arabia), the US and European nations can proffer their clean hands by limiting support to communications equipment, intelligence and humanitarian aid, and of course to providing the moral posturing required to topple the Syrian system and implant a regime hostile to Iran and friendly to Israel. Having “clean hands” enables the US, France and Britain to pose as abiding by UN standards, while at the same time flouting the UN Charter by promoting an attack on a member state.

Time magazine reported last month that the administration of US President Barack Obama “has tiptoed across an invisible line. [It] said it will not actively support the Syrian opposition in its bid to oust Assad … [but] as US officials have revealed, the administration has been providing media-technology training and support to Syrian dissidents by way of small non-profits like the Institute for War & Peace Reporting and Freedom House.

“Viral videos of alleged atrocities,” noted Time, “have made Assad one of the most reviled men on the planet, helping turn the Arab League against him and embarrassing his few remaining allies almost daily.”

It is a position that reeks of hypocrisy: as US columnist Barbara Slavin notes, “Without a UN Security Council mandate, the prospects for US military intervention in Syria are minimal … the provision of communications gear frees up others to provide weapons.”

A US official quoted by Associated Press was more frank: Washington’s equipment and medical supplies to the opposition “can now be easily augmented with weapons from other donors. Smuggling lines are smuggling lines. We use the same donkeys,” he said, pointing out that routes are in essence the same for bandages as they are for bullets.

And while various Western governments are helping “document crimes” committed by Syrian forces, these same governments have refused to investigate their own killings of civilians in attacks by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Libya. NATO “created its own definition for ‘confirmed’ deaths: only a death that NATO itself investigated and corroborated could be called confirmed”, enabling the alliance to conclude: “We have no confirmed reports of civilian casualties.”

Britain was the only country involved in the bombings to conduct its own inquiry. Its report accepted “that coalition forces did their best to prevent and minimize civilian casualties … We commend them for this approach.”

For every tragic story like journalist Marie Colvin’s final dispatch before she was killed while embedded for British media with the FSA (“In Babr Amr. Sickening. Cannot understand how the world can stand by. Watched a baby die today. Shrapnel: doctors could do nothing. His little tummy just heaved and heaved until he stopped. Feeling Helpless”), there are other similar tragedies, committed by the insurgents, that are rarely reported in the mainstream Western press.

You won’t read in the mainstream press of foreign jihadists increasingly pouring into Syria to fight their holy war; you won’t read that some ultraconservative Salafi sheikhs in Saudi Arabia are running their own military network inside Syria; you won’t read how Assad’s support during the 14-month crisis has if anything increased in light of the insecurity gripping the country; you won’t read comments like those of the Lebanese Christian Maronite patriarch who said that while “Syria, like other countries, needs reforms which the people are demanding … the closest thing to democracy [in the Arab world] is Syria”.

You won’t read how the head of the opposition in Turkey, a former ambassador to Washington, Faruk Logoglu, has said that what Turkey is doing hosting armed FSA fighters and allowing them to carry out attacks in Syria is “is against all international norms; against all neighborly relations … It is a basic rule that countries must respect the sovereignty of others.”

You won’t read how armed insurgents used the Arab League observer mission’s ceasefire to “reinforce themselves and bring supplies from Lebanon, knowing the regime would be limited in its ability to obstruct them at that time”, or how they have used the Kofi Annan plan to prepare for larger attacks.

While we have seen extensive demonization of Assad, his wife and family, with the president depicted recently in the British press bathing in blood, you won’t read articles demonizing the Saudi or Qatari regimes, or highlighting the hundreds of millions of dollars they have poured into political parties and groups, particularly Salafists, across the region in their “counter-revolution” against change; or the recent declaration by the official Saudi Mufti for all churches in the Arabian Peninsula to be demolished (which was not covered by a single Western mainstream news outlet); or as a senior Sunni political figure told me recently, the more than 23,000 detainees in Saudi prisons, a majority of whom (a recent report notes 90%) have degrees (to be fair, Chatham House did comment on this in a recent report that this “is indicative of the prevalence of a university education”).

You won’t read how Saudi Arabia and Qatar have bullied satellite hosting channels in the region to stop broadcasting “pro-regime” public and private Syrian television channels; or that the Syrian opposition has set up 10 satellite channels, all with an Islamist orientation and which take a strong sectarian line – calling on the FSA to “kill Iran’s mice” and “the rats of the Lebanese devil’s party” (Hezbollah); or how Russia has been attempting to facilitate a political process of reconciliation with the internal opposition since the onset of the crisis.

There is clear duplicity in the deliberate unwillingness of the Western mainstream media to acknowledge the nature of those who are the West’s allies in the regime-change project – particularly Saudi Arabia and Qatar – and the danger they pose in the region through their arming and firing up of jihadist Salafist groups in Syria and across the region. Rare are articles in the mainstream Western press that highlight this hypocrisy.

A critical piece in the British press by Peter Oborne, The Daily Telegraph’s chief political correspondent, was an exception: “Washington never ceases to complain about the connection between the Pakistani intelligence services and the Taliban. But we never hear a whisper of concern about the connection between Saudi intelligence and Salafi movements across the Middle East, of which al-Qaeda is the best-known offshoot.”

The essential components of what we do see daily in the Western press have changed little during the conflict: in effect, all violence and terror are apportioned to one side only – the Syrian government and its purported “ghostly shadowy” shabiha forces.

Any violence committed by the “peaceful protesters” and the Free Syrian Army is purely for defensive purposes – all of which comes straight out of the color-revolution/regime-change text book; daily figures for those killed are based almost exclusively on “reports by activists and YouTube footage” (unverifiable, it is claimed, because the Syrian government does not allow free movement of journalists) and are described simply as “people” – dead insurgents do not appear; Al-Qaeda-type jihadist groups are played down (reports in leading media outlets like The Guardian continue to question whether they exist at all); and any weapons or equipment supplied to the “opposition” is, according to Saudi leaders, to help Syrians “defend themselves”.

Embedding journalists on their side is an asset that the FSA, activists and their Western and regional partners have clearly learned from the experience of the US Army in the wake of its attacks on Fallujah in 2004. A US Army intelligence analysis leaked by WikiLeaks revealed that “in the military’s opinion, the Western press are part of the US’s propaganda operation. This process was facilitated by the embedding of Western reporters in US military units”. In their second attack on Fallujah in November 2004, the US Army “got many reporters … to embed with US troops, so that they could act, as the intelligence report calls for, as the propaganda arm of US forces”.

The fundamental pillar of this Western narrative relies almost exclusively on claims and “evidence” provided by “activists” and opposition-affiliated groups, particularly the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Are we seriously to believe that this outfit, reportedly run from Coventry by a man who, according to Reuters, part-time runs a clothes shop with his wife, then “sits with a laptop and phones and pieces together accounts of conflict and rights abuses before uploading news to the Internet”, is the primary source of daily casualty statistics on the 14-month Syrian conflict – the key geo-strategic conflict of the time?

It is clearly the front office of a large-scale (dis)information project – when Russian diplomats asked to meet with the organization, they were refused. Senior political figures in the region have told me, as other reports indicate, that the Observatory is in fact funded from a Dubai-based slush fund and is a key component of the regime-change project.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov noted that it was in the opposition’s interest “to provoke a humanitarian catastrophe, to get a pretext to demand external interference”, so it is not surprising that analysis of the Observatory’s figures, including claims of “massacres”, consistently show a significant inflation in numbers of casualties, sometimes wildly so.

As Al-Jazeera journalist Nir Rosen, who spent some months embedded with the Free Syria Army, explained: “Every day the opposition gives a death toll, usually without any explanation of the cause of the deaths. Many … reported killed are in fact dead opposition fighters, but the cause of their death is hidden and they are described … as innocent civilians killed by security forces, as if they were all merely protesting or sitting in their homes.”

Analysis I did of what was reported to be the “deadliest day of the nine-month uprising” (December 20, 2011), with the “organized massacre” of a “mass defection” of army deserters widely reported by the international press, and opposition Syrian National Council claims of areas “exposed to large-scale genocide”, showed that figures differed so significantly (between 10 and 163 armed insurgents, nine to 111 unarmed civilians and zero to 97 government forces), that the “truth” was impossible to establish. Similarly, analysis of The Guardian’s data blog on casualties as of December 2011, based solely on press reports largely from opposition sources, contained basic inaccuracies and made no reference to any killings of armed insurgents during the entire 10-month period.

So the Observatory and “activists” provide doctored figures, the Western media report these figures uncritically, and the UN provides reports on the basis of opposition and activist sources alone. The December 2011 UN Human Rights Commissioner’s report was based solely on interviews with 233 alleged “army defectors”; similarly, the first UN report to accuse the Syrian government of crimes against humanity was based on 369 interviews with “victims and witnesses”. The spokesman for the UN Office of the High Commission for Human Rights explained that while “getting evidence from victims and defectors – some who corroborated specific names”, the UN “is not in a position to cross-check names and will never be in a position to do that … The lists are clear – the question is whether we can fully endorse their accuracy.”

British public-service broadcaster Channel 4 has championed the cause of Syrian “video journalists” who it claims are leading a “Syrian media revolution”. The channel’s foreign-affairs correspondent Jonathan Miller wrote: “Each report is datelined; exact location and date, [which] doesn’t in itself necessarily authenticate the report, but combined with other reports from other districts of the same attack filmed from a different location, the reports have the effect of corroborating each other.” The channel even made a documentary of activists exaggerating the “truth” – “even if it means embellishing events”.

During the early months of the Syrian conflict, activists like the now-notorious Danny and Khaled Abou Salah were regularly interviewed in the Western media – that is until footage found by the Syrian army in Homs after the attack on insurgents showed them, among other things, preparing child “victims” for interviews and until their “witness statements” lost all credibility. The New York Times’ Neil MacFarquhar, reporting from Beirut, almost exclusively bases his reports on “activists speaking by Skype” and “video posted on YouTube”.

Described as “the most horrific video” yet by Britain’s Daily Mail, a YouTube clip of an opposition member being “buried alive” was found most likely to be fake. Perhaps more telling than the use of the actual photo by the British Broadcasting Corp of hundreds of body bags from Iraq in 2003 that was used for the story of the al-Houla massacre three weeks ago was the caption beneath the photo: “Photo from Activist. This image – which cannot be independently verified – is believed to show bodies of children in Houla awaiting funeral.”

Nevertheless, activist-supplied videos and statements continue to provide the basis for unquestioned reports in the mainstream press: in the wake of the Houla massacre, for example, The Guardian ran a front-page story – “among the most important of the testimonies” from an army defector reportedly on leave at the time. From his house 300 meters away, the man saw and heard the massacre, despite there being persistent shelling at the time. He claimed to have seen men “he knew to be shabiha “riding into Taldous village in cars, motorbikes and army trucks, shouting: ‘Shabiha forever, for your eyes, Assad.'”

This is not to argue that Syrian security forces and some supporters of the Syrian government have not committed abuses and killings; they have admitted this to be the case. “Don’t put me in a position of defending brutality and knifing people,” former US national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski said about Syria recently. “Frankly that is not the issue. We do know these things happened, and they are horrible. They also happened on a much larger scale in many other countries in which we have not intervened.”

What we are witnessing is a new generation of warfare – an information war where, by using what is in effect propaganda, the aim is to construct a consensual consciousness to provide overwhelming public support for regime change.

Not to be outdone by Senator McCain (described by a leading US foreign-policy magazine as one of the “three amigos … who have rarely found a country they didn’t want to bomb or invade”), The Guardian itself noted in March: “If you think Guardian readers are a peace-loving bunch, think again. In an online poll, more than 83% [13,200 votes] have so far backed John McCain’s call to launch air strikes against Syria.”

While The Guardian describes the so-called shabihain what appears to be a piece of pure propaganda – “according to demonstrators” it interviewed – as “large lines of plain-clothed or khaki-clad men and boys armed with submachine-guns” who appear “awaiting an excuse to intervene” and who fire on protesters, a senior European diplomat based in the region told me that it is not in fact clear who the shabiha are, or whether they actually exist.

The diplomat told me of an instance when the UN monitors were filmed by activists as they were inspecting an insurgent-blocked subsidiary road; they later saw footage of themselves at the same ditch on the international news spliced in such a way as to make it appear that there had been bodies in an excavated area and that the UN monitors were watching bodies being removed, whereas in fact it was no more than a ditch across a road that they had been filming.

Human rights are a fundamental component of this information war that is a cover for regime change. By in effect taking a one-sided approach to events in Syria, leading human-rights groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are, willingly or unwillingly, being used as an integral part of this information war on Syria.

Despite publishing the odd report on abuses, torture and killings perpetrated by the insurgents, they cast the conflict in Syria as a simple one-sided case of aggressors and victims, lamenting, along the lines of John Bolton and McCain, “Why is the world doing nothing?” Amnesty International’s Eyes on Syria site, for example, exclusively documents “the scale of torture and ill-treatment by security forces, army and pro-government armed gangs”, harassment of “pro-reform” Syrians, and deaths in government custody.

A notable exception has been the International Committee of the Red Cross, which has continually criticized the militarization of humanitarian assistance. When former French president Nicolas Sarkozy and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for the creation of “humanitarian corridors”, the ICRC publicly criticized a move that would inevitably involve the deployment of armed forces to enforce the zones.

The use of propaganda as a tool in war is an old one. During World War I, in the wake of British propaganda of “babies [with] their hands cut off … impaled on bayonets … loudly spoken of in buses and public places … paraded, not as an isolated instance of an atrocity, but as … a common practice”, a member of Parliament wrote: “In Parliament there was the usual evasion … the only evidence given was ‘seen by witnesses’.”

What we see now in coverage of Syria has echoes of 2003 – Western governments and the Western media accept at face value the claims of exiles living in the West. Paul Pillar, a former official of the US Central Intelligence Agency now at Georgetown University in Washington, notes that the neocon case for arming the Syrian opposition “is a continuation of the same patterns of neoconservative thinking that led to [president George W] Bush’s war [on Iraq]. There is the same wishful thinking substituting for careful analysis about consequences.”

Charged with defining the future of warfare, the US deputy chief of staff for intelligence in 1997 defined this “conflict between information masters and information victims … We are already masters of information warfare … we write the script,” he wrote. “Societies that … cannot manage the flow of information simply will not be competitive … Emotions, rather than strategy, will set the terms of struggles.” Against such an onslaught, there is little the Syrian government can do to defend itself – Assad has already said that Syria cannot win the media war with the West.

As Syria tips into the next more violent stage of sectarian war, with the SNC/FSA and their foreign backers increasing the ante with possible supplies if heavy weapons by the US, leading to more violent attacks, and the Syrian government (with its Republican Guard and the Syrian Army’s powerful 4th Division still held in reserve) cracking down on “all armed groups”, we should expect to see the “crusaders” in the mainstream media follow suit with their onslaught on Syrian government “atrocities” – massacres, use of children as human shields, claims of the imminent collapse of the Syrian government, etc.

But we would do well to acknowledge that there are two competing narratives out there. The BBC acknowledged recently that while “video filed by the opposition … may provide some insight into the story on the ground … stories are never black and white – [they are] often shades of grey”, and Channel 4’s Alex Thomson’s near escape after being set up by the Free Syria Army prompted him to say: “Do not for one moment believe that my experience with the rebels in al-Qusair was a one-off.” It makes you wonder, he wrote, “who else has had this experience when attempting to find out what is going on in rebel-held Syria”. The narrative, however, complete with myths, has established a virtual reality that is now set in stone.

Sixteen months into the conflict, it is too little, too late to acknowledge that there are “shades of grey” at play in the Syrian context: for 16 months, The Guardian, Channel 4, the BBC and others have presented the conflict, using largely spurious “evidence”, in exactly the black-and-white terms that increasingly people are now questioning. Peter Oborne, writing some months ago in The Daily Telegraph, warned that by presenting the conflict as a struggle between the regime and “the people”, British Prime Minister David Cameron is either “poorly briefed or he is coming dangerously close to a calculated deception of the British public”.
The Takfiri jihadists and their backers have been allowed to define and dominate the crisis. The crisis is now symbolized by car bombings, assassinations, mutilations and atrocities. This empowering of the extreme end of the opposition spectrum – albeit a minority – has in effect silenced and pushed to the sidelines the middle ground – that is, most of the internal opposition. One key internal opposition leader recently told Conflicts Forum that, like other leaders, he has had close relatives assassinated by the Salafists. The internal opposition has acknowledged the stark choice between two undesirables – either a dialogue that currently is not realizable, or the downfall of Syria, as Al-Akhbar, one of the leading independent newspapers in the region, recently reported.

With weapons of war, words and ideology, the self-appointed “Friends of Syria” have done everything they can to tiptoe around the UNSC and to undercut all attempts at an intra-Syrian political dialogue and a negotiated end to the conflict, of which the Annan mission is the latest attempt. The West/Saudi/Qatari “dirty war” on Syria applies as much to its (dis)information campaign as it does to getting others to fight and kill for them.

As was no doubt the intention, Clinton’s “spin” that Russia was supplying attack helicopters to Syria went a long way – the US Congress, the British government and the mainstream media all fell into line calling for action. A member of the Senate Armed Services Committee wrote to the US defense secretary calling the Russian state arms firm “an enabler of mass murder in Syria”, and Cobra, the British government’s emergency security committee, met several times.

It turned out, however, that what the New York Times described as “the Obama administration’s sharpest criticism yet of Russia’s support for the Syrian government” was, according to a senior Defense Department official, “a little spin” put on the story by Clinton so as “to put the Russians in a difficult position”. It was three helicopters of “marginal use militarily”, explained the Times, returning from routine servicing in Russia.

For their part, the mainstream media bear some responsibility for the slide toward sectarian war in Syria, the victims of which, as always, are civilians. The media’s conceptualization of victims and oppressors has in effect eliminated the space for negotiation. Lavrov has warned: “Either we gather everyone with influence at the negotiating table or once again we depart into ideology, where it is declared shamelessly that everything is the fault of the regime, while everyone else are angels and therefore the regime should be changed.

“The way the Syrian crisis is resolved”, he advised, “will play an important role in the world tomorrow; whether the world will be based on the UN Charter, or a place where might makes right.”

Aisling Byrne is projects coordinator with Conflicts Forum and is based in Beirut.

(Copyright 2012 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

Covering Syria: The information war

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/NG12Ak01.html

Covering Syria: The information war
By Aisling Byrne

The narrative that has been constructed by the Western mainstream media on Syria may seem to be self-evident from the scenes presented on television, but it is a narrative duplicitously promoted and coordinated so as to conceal and facilitate the regime-change project that is part of the war on Iran.

What we are seeing is a new stage of information war intentionally constructed and cast as a simplistic narrative of a struggle for human rights and democracy so as deliberately to exclude other interpretations and any geo-strategic motivation.

The narrative, as CNN puts it, is in essence this: “The vast majority of reports from the ground indicate that government forces are killing citizens in an attempt to wipe out civilians seeking [President Bashar] al-Assad’s ouster” – the aim being

precisely to elicit a heart-wrenching emotional response in Western audiences that trumps all other considerations and makes the call for Western/Gulf intervention to effect regime change.

But it is a narrative based on distortion, manipulation, lies and videotape.

In the first months, the narrative was of unarmed protesters being shot by Syrian forces. This then evolved into one of armed insurgents reluctantly “being provoked into taking up arms”, as US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton explained, to defend peaceful protesters.

It was also a narrative that from the outset, according to a recent report in Time magazine, that the US has facilitated by providing training, support and equipment to Syrian opposition “cyber-warriors”.

Reports confirmed by leading Syrian opposition leaders in April 2011 reveal that in addition to cyber-training, weapons and money from Syrian exiles, as well as from a “major Arab Gulf country” and a Lebanese political party, were being distributed to “young demonstrators”. The former head of Russian intelligence, Yevgeny Primakov, similarly noted that the Syrian conflict “started with armed revolts against the authorities, not peaceful demonstrations”.

Ironically, one of the most accurate descriptions of the sectarian conflict we are witnessing in Syria comes from an assessment by the neoconservative Brookings Institute in its March 2012 report “Assessing Options for Regime Change in Syria”, one option being for “the United States [to] fight a “clean” war … and leave the dirty work on the ground to the FSA [Free Syrian Army], perhaps even obviating a massive commitment to Iraq-style nation-building”.

“Let the Arabs do it,” echoed Israeli President Shimon Peres. “Do it yourself and the UN will support you.” This point was not lost on one leading Turkish commentator, who noted that US Senator John McCain “said that there would be no American boots on the ground in Syria. That means we Turks will have to spill our precious blood to get what McCain and others want in the States.”

In the wake of the failures at state-building in Afghanistan and Iraq, direct intervention, with all the responsibilities this would entail, would not go down well in cash-strapped Western nations. Better to get others to do the “dirty work” – pursue “regime change by civil war”.

“The United States, Europe and the Gulf states … are starving the regime in Damascus and feeding the opposition. They have sanctioned Syria … and are busy shoveling money and helping arms supplied by the Gulf get to the rebels,” Joshua Landis, director of the Center of Middle Eastern Studies, wrote in Foreign Policy in June.

With regional allies prepared to do the “dirty work” of providing increasingly sophisticated weapons clearly geared for purposes other than “self-defense”, and the FSA and its jihadist allies doing the “dirty work” within Syria (their salaries paid by Saudi Arabia), the US and European nations can proffer their clean hands by limiting support to communications equipment, intelligence and humanitarian aid, and of course to providing the moral posturing required to topple the Syrian system and implant a regime hostile to Iran and friendly to Israel. Having “clean hands” enables the US, France and Britain to pose as abiding by UN standards, while at the same time flouting the UN Charter by promoting an attack on a member state.

Time magazine reported last month that the administration of US President Barack Obama “has tiptoed across an invisible line. [It] said it will not actively support the Syrian opposition in its bid to oust Assad … [but] as US officials have revealed, the administration has been providing media-technology training and support to Syrian dissidents by way of small non-profits like the Institute for War & Peace Reporting and Freedom House.

“Viral videos of alleged atrocities,” noted Time, “have made Assad one of the most reviled men on the planet, helping turn the Arab League against him and embarrassing his few remaining allies almost daily.”

It is a position that reeks of hypocrisy: as US columnist Barbara Slavin notes, “Without a UN Security Council mandate, the prospects for US military intervention in Syria are minimal … the provision of communications gear frees up others to provide weapons.”

A US official quoted by Associated Press was more frank: Washington’s equipment and medical supplies to the opposition “can now be easily augmented with weapons from other donors. Smuggling lines are smuggling lines. We use the same donkeys,” he said, pointing out that routes are in essence the same for bandages as they are for bullets.

And while various Western governments are helping “document crimes” committed by Syrian forces, these same governments have refused to investigate their own killings of civilians in attacks by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Libya. NATO “created its own definition for ‘confirmed’ deaths: only a death that NATO itself investigated and corroborated could be called confirmed”, enabling the alliance to conclude: “We have no confirmed reports of civilian casualties.”

Britain was the only country involved in the bombings to conduct its own inquiry. Its report accepted “that coalition forces did their best to prevent and minimize civilian casualties … We commend them for this approach.”

For every tragic story like journalist Marie Colvin’s final dispatch before she was killed while embedded for British media with the FSA (“In Babr Amr. Sickening. Cannot understand how the world can stand by. Watched a baby die today. Shrapnel: doctors could do nothing. His little tummy just heaved and heaved until he stopped. Feeling Helpless”), there are other similar tragedies, committed by the insurgents, that are rarely reported in the mainstream Western press.

You won’t read in the mainstream press of foreign jihadists increasingly pouring into Syria to fight their holy war; you won’t read that some ultraconservative Salafi sheikhs in Saudi Arabia are running their own military network inside Syria; you won’t read how Assad’s support during the 14-month crisis has if anything increased in light of the insecurity gripping the country; you won’t read comments like those of the Lebanese Christian Maronite patriarch who said that while “Syria, like other countries, needs reforms which the people are demanding … the closest thing to democracy [in the Arab world] is Syria”.

You won’t read how the head of the opposition in Turkey, a former ambassador to Washington, Faruk Logoglu, has said that what Turkey is doing hosting armed FSA fighters and allowing them to carry out attacks in Syria is “is against all international norms; against all neighborly relations … It is a basic rule that countries must respect the sovereignty of others.”

You won’t read how armed insurgents used the Arab League observer mission’s ceasefire to “reinforce themselves and bring supplies from Lebanon, knowing the regime would be limited in its ability to obstruct them at that time”, or how they have used the Kofi Annan plan to prepare for larger attacks.

While we have seen extensive demonization of Assad, his wife and family, with the president depicted recently in the British press bathing in blood, you won’t read articles demonizing the Saudi or Qatari regimes, or highlighting the hundreds of millions of dollars they have poured into political parties and groups, particularly Salafists, across the region in their “counter-revolution” against change; or the recent declaration by the official Saudi Mufti for all churches in the Arabian Peninsula to be demolished (which was not covered by a single Western mainstream news outlet); or as a senior Sunni political figure told me recently, the more than 23,000 detainees in Saudi prisons, a majority of whom (a recent report notes 90%) have degrees (to be fair, Chatham House did comment on this in a recent report that this “is indicative of the prevalence of a university education”).

You won’t read how Saudi Arabia and Qatar have bullied satellite hosting channels in the region to stop broadcasting “pro-regime” public and private Syrian television channels; or that the Syrian opposition has set up 10 satellite channels, all with an Islamist orientation and which take a strong sectarian line – calling on the FSA to “kill Iran’s mice” and “the rats of the Lebanese devil’s party” (Hezbollah); or how Russia has been attempting to facilitate a political process of reconciliation with the internal opposition since the onset of the crisis.

There is clear duplicity in the deliberate unwillingness of the Western mainstream media to acknowledge the nature of those who are the West’s allies in the regime-change project – particularly Saudi Arabia and Qatar – and the danger they pose in the region through their arming and firing up of jihadist Salafist groups in Syria and across the region. Rare are articles in the mainstream Western press that highlight this hypocrisy.

A critical piece in the British press by Peter Oborne, The Daily Telegraph’s chief political correspondent, was an exception: “Washington never ceases to complain about the connection between the Pakistani intelligence services and the Taliban. But we never hear a whisper of concern about the connection between Saudi intelligence and Salafi movements across the Middle East, of which al-Qaeda is the best-known offshoot.”

The essential components of what we do see daily in the Western press have changed little during the conflict: in effect, all violence and terror are apportioned to one side only – the Syrian government and its purported “ghostly shadowy” shabiha forces.

Any violence committed by the “peaceful protesters” and the Free Syrian Army is purely for defensive purposes – all of which comes straight out of the color-revolution/regime-change text book; daily figures for those killed are based almost exclusively on “reports by activists and YouTube footage” (unverifiable, it is claimed, because the Syrian government does not allow free movement of journalists) and are described simply as “people” – dead insurgents do not appear; Al-Qaeda-type jihadist groups are played down (reports in leading media outlets like The Guardian continue to question whether they exist at all); and any weapons or equipment supplied to the “opposition” is, according to Saudi leaders, to help Syrians “defend themselves”.

Embedding journalists on their side is an asset that the FSA, activists and their Western and regional partners have clearly learned from the experience of the US Army in the wake of its attacks on Fallujah in 2004. A US Army intelligence analysis leaked by WikiLeaks revealed that “in the military’s opinion, the Western press are part of the US’s propaganda operation. This process was facilitated by the embedding of Western reporters in US military units”. In their second attack on Fallujah in November 2004, the US Army “got many reporters … to embed with US troops, so that they could act, as the intelligence report calls for, as the propaganda arm of US forces”.

The fundamental pillar of this Western narrative relies almost exclusively on claims and “evidence” provided by “activists” and opposition-affiliated groups, particularly the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Are we seriously to believe that this outfit, reportedly run from Coventry by a man who, according to Reuters, part-time runs a clothes shop with his wife, then “sits with a laptop and phones and pieces together accounts of conflict and rights abuses before uploading news to the Internet”, is the primary source of daily casualty statistics on the 14-month Syrian conflict – the key geo-strategic conflict of the time?

It is clearly the front office of a large-scale (dis)information project – when Russian diplomats asked to meet with the organization, they were refused. Senior political figures in the region have told me, as other reports indicate, that the Observatory is in fact funded from a Dubai-based slush fund and is a key component of the regime-change project.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov noted that it was in the opposition’s interest “to provoke a humanitarian catastrophe, to get a pretext to demand external interference”, so it is not surprising that analysis of the Observatory’s figures, including claims of “massacres”, consistently show a significant inflation in numbers of casualties, sometimes wildly so.

As Al-Jazeera journalist Nir Rosen, who spent some months embedded with the Free Syria Army, explained: “Every day the opposition gives a death toll, usually without any explanation of the cause of the deaths. Many … reported killed are in fact dead opposition fighters, but the cause of their death is hidden and they are described … as innocent civilians killed by security forces, as if they were all merely protesting or sitting in their homes.”

Analysis I did of what was reported to be the “deadliest day of the nine-month uprising” (December 20, 2011), with the “organized massacre” of a “mass defection” of army deserters widely reported by the international press, and opposition Syrian National Council claims of areas “exposed to large-scale genocide”, showed that figures differed so significantly (between 10 and 163 armed insurgents, nine to 111 unarmed civilians and zero to 97 government forces), that the “truth” was impossible to establish. Similarly, analysis of The Guardian’s data blog on casualties as of December 2011, based solely on press reports largely from opposition sources, contained basic inaccuracies and made no reference to any killings of armed insurgents during the entire 10-month period.

So the Observatory and “activists” provide doctored figures, the Western media report these figures uncritically, and the UN provides reports on the basis of opposition and activist sources alone. The December 2011 UN Human Rights Commissioner’s report was based solely on interviews with 233 alleged “army defectors”; similarly, the first UN report to accuse the Syrian government of crimes against humanity was based on 369 interviews with “victims and witnesses”. The spokesman for the UN Office of the High Commission for Human Rights explained that while “getting evidence from victims and defectors – some who corroborated specific names”, the UN “is not in a position to cross-check names and will never be in a position to do that … The lists are clear – the question is whether we can fully endorse their accuracy.”

British public-service broadcaster Channel 4 has championed the cause of Syrian “video journalists” who it claims are leading a “Syrian media revolution”. The channel’s foreign-affairs correspondent Jonathan Miller wrote: “Each report is datelined; exact location and date, [which] doesn’t in itself necessarily authenticate the report, but combined with other reports from other districts of the same attack filmed from a different location, the reports have the effect of corroborating each other.” The channel even made a documentary of activists exaggerating the “truth” – “even if it means embellishing events”.

During the early months of the Syrian conflict, activists like the now-notorious Danny and Khaled Abou Salah were regularly interviewed in the Western media – that is until footage found by the Syrian army in Homs after the attack on insurgents showed them, among other things, preparing child “victims” for interviews and until their “witness statements” lost all credibility. The New York Times’ Neil MacFarquhar, reporting from Beirut, almost exclusively bases his reports on “activists speaking by Skype” and “video posted on YouTube”.

Described as “the most horrific video” yet by Britain’s Daily Mail, a YouTube clip of an opposition member being “buried alive” was found most likely to be fake. Perhaps more telling than the use of the actual photo by the British Broadcasting Corp of hundreds of body bags from Iraq in 2003 that was used for the story of the al-Houla massacre three weeks ago was the caption beneath the photo: “Photo from Activist. This image – which cannot be independently verified – is believed to show bodies of children in Houla awaiting funeral.”

Nevertheless, activist-supplied videos and statements continue to provide the basis for unquestioned reports in the mainstream press: in the wake of the Houla massacre, for example, The Guardian ran a front-page story – “among the most important of the testimonies” from an army defector reportedly on leave at the time. From his house 300 meters away, the man saw and heard the massacre, despite there being persistent shelling at the time. He claimed to have seen men “he knew to be shabiha “riding into Taldous village in cars, motorbikes and army trucks, shouting: ‘Shabiha forever, for your eyes, Assad.'”

This is not to argue that Syrian security forces and some supporters of the Syrian government have not committed abuses and killings; they have admitted this to be the case. “Don’t put me in a position of defending brutality and knifing people,” former US national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski said about Syria recently. “Frankly that is not the issue. We do know these things happened, and they are horrible. They also happened on a much larger scale in many other countries in which we have not intervened.”

What we are witnessing is a new generation of warfare – an information war where, by using what is in effect propaganda, the aim is to construct a consensual consciousness to provide overwhelming public support for regime change.

Not to be outdone by Senator McCain (described by a leading US foreign-policy magazine as one of the “three amigos … who have rarely found a country they didn’t want to bomb or invade”), The Guardian itself noted in March: “If you think Guardian readers are a peace-loving bunch, think again. In an online poll, more than 83% [13,200 votes] have so far backed John McCain’s call to launch air strikes against Syria.”

While The Guardian describes the so-called shabihain what appears to be a piece of pure propaganda – “according to demonstrators” it interviewed – as “large lines of plain-clothed or khaki-clad men and boys armed with submachine-guns” who appear “awaiting an excuse to intervene” and who fire on protesters, a senior European diplomat based in the region told me that it is not in fact clear who the shabiha are, or whether they actually exist.

The diplomat told me of an instance when the UN monitors were filmed by activists as they were inspecting an insurgent-blocked subsidiary road; they later saw footage of themselves at the same ditch on the international news spliced in such a way as to make it appear that there had been bodies in an excavated area and that the UN monitors were watching bodies being removed, whereas in fact it was no more than a ditch across a road that they had been filming.

Human rights are a fundamental component of this information war that is a cover for regime change. By in effect taking a one-sided approach to events in Syria, leading human-rights groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are, willingly or unwillingly, being used as an integral part of this information war on Syria.

Despite publishing the odd report on abuses, torture and killings perpetrated by the insurgents, they cast the conflict in Syria as a simple one-sided case of aggressors and victims, lamenting, along the lines of John Bolton and McCain, “Why is the world doing nothing?” Amnesty International’s Eyes on Syria site, for example, exclusively documents “the scale of torture and ill-treatment by security forces, army and pro-government armed gangs”, harassment of “pro-reform” Syrians, and deaths in government custody.

A notable exception has been the International Committee of the Red Cross, which has continually criticized the militarization of humanitarian assistance. When former French president Nicolas Sarkozy and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for the creation of “humanitarian corridors”, the ICRC publicly criticized a move that would inevitably involve the deployment of armed forces to enforce the zones.

The use of propaganda as a tool in war is an old one. During World War I, in the wake of British propaganda of “babies [with] their hands cut off … impaled on bayonets … loudly spoken of in buses and public places … paraded, not as an isolated instance of an atrocity, but as … a common practice”, a member of Parliament wrote: “In Parliament there was the usual evasion … the only evidence given was ‘seen by witnesses’.”

What we see now in coverage of Syria has echoes of 2003 – Western governments and the Western media accept at face value the claims of exiles living in the West. Paul Pillar, a former official of the US Central Intelligence Agency now at Georgetown University in Washington, notes that the neocon case for arming the Syrian opposition “is a continuation of the same patterns of neoconservative thinking that led to [president George W] Bush’s war [on Iraq]. There is the same wishful thinking substituting for careful analysis about consequences.”

Charged with defining the future of warfare, the US deputy chief of staff for intelligence in 1997 defined this “conflict between information masters and information victims … We are already masters of information warfare … we write the script,” he wrote. “Societies that … cannot manage the flow of information simply will not be competitive … Emotions, rather than strategy, will set the terms of struggles.” Against such an onslaught, there is little the Syrian government can do to defend itself – Assad has already said that Syria cannot win the media war with the West.

As Syria tips into the next more violent stage of sectarian war, with the SNC/FSA and their foreign backers increasing the ante with possible supplies if heavy weapons by the US, leading to more violent attacks, and the Syrian government (with its Republican Guard and the Syrian Army’s powerful 4th Division still held in reserve) cracking down on “all armed groups”, we should expect to see the “crusaders” in the mainstream media follow suit with their onslaught on Syrian government “atrocities” – massacres, use of children as human shields, claims of the imminent collapse of the Syrian government, etc.

But we would do well to acknowledge that there are two competing narratives out there. The BBC acknowledged recently that while “video filed by the opposition … may provide some insight into the story on the ground … stories are never black and white – [they are] often shades of grey”, and Channel 4’s Alex Thomson’s near escape after being set up by the Free Syria Army prompted him to say: “Do not for one moment believe that my experience with the rebels in al-Qusair was a one-off.” It makes you wonder, he wrote, “who else has had this experience when attempting to find out what is going on in rebel-held Syria”. The narrative, however, complete with myths, has established a virtual reality that is now set in stone.

Sixteen months into the conflict, it is too little, too late to acknowledge that there are “shades of grey” at play in the Syrian context: for 16 months, The Guardian, Channel 4, the BBC and others have presented the conflict, using largely spurious “evidence”, in exactly the black-and-white terms that increasingly people are now questioning. Peter Oborne, writing some months ago in The Daily Telegraph, warned that by presenting the conflict as a struggle between the regime and “the people”, British Prime Minister David Cameron is either “poorly briefed or he is coming dangerously close to a calculated deception of the British public”.
The Takfiri jihadists and their backers have been allowed to define and dominate the crisis. The crisis is now symbolized by car bombings, assassinations, mutilations and atrocities. This empowering of the extreme end of the opposition spectrum – albeit a minority – has in effect silenced and pushed to the sidelines the middle ground – that is, most of the internal opposition. One key internal opposition leader recently told Conflicts Forum that, like other leaders, he has had close relatives assassinated by the Salafists. The internal opposition has acknowledged the stark choice between two undesirables – either a dialogue that currently is not realizable, or the downfall of Syria, as Al-Akhbar, one of the leading independent newspapers in the region, recently reported.

With weapons of war, words and ideology, the self-appointed “Friends of Syria” have done everything they can to tiptoe around the UNSC and to undercut all attempts at an intra-Syrian political dialogue and a negotiated end to the conflict, of which the Annan mission is the latest attempt. The West/Saudi/Qatari “dirty war” on Syria applies as much to its (dis)information campaign as it does to getting others to fight and kill for them.

As was no doubt the intention, Clinton’s “spin” that Russia was supplying attack helicopters to Syria went a long way – the US Congress, the British government and the mainstream media all fell into line calling for action. A member of the Senate Armed Services Committee wrote to the US defense secretary calling the Russian state arms firm “an enabler of mass murder in Syria”, and Cobra, the British government’s emergency security committee, met several times.

It turned out, however, that what the New York Times described as “the Obama administration’s sharpest criticism yet of Russia’s support for the Syrian government” was, according to a senior Defense Department official, “a little spin” put on the story by Clinton so as “to put the Russians in a difficult position”. It was three helicopters of “marginal use militarily”, explained the Times, returning from routine servicing in Russia.

For their part, the mainstream media bear some responsibility for the slide toward sectarian war in Syria, the victims of which, as always, are civilians. The media’s conceptualization of victims and oppressors has in effect eliminated the space for negotiation. Lavrov has warned: “Either we gather everyone with influence at the negotiating table or once again we depart into ideology, where it is declared shamelessly that everything is the fault of the regime, while everyone else are angels and therefore the regime should be changed.

“The way the Syrian crisis is resolved”, he advised, “will play an important role in the world tomorrow; whether the world will be based on the UN Charter, or a place where might makes right.”

Aisling Byrne is projects coordinator with Conflicts Forum and is based in Beirut.

(Copyright 2012 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

US Journalists & War-Crime Guilt

US Journalists & War-Crime Guilt
Written by Peter Dyer
Thursday, 16 October 2008
Editor’s Note: This year, the U.S. news media cheered the opening of the $450 million Newseum in Washington, a self-congratulatory celebration of American journalism.

 

However, rather than giving themselves that expensive pat on the back, the major U.S. media organizations might have done something to show remorse for their complicity in the Bush administration’s propaganda that justified the invasion of Iraq.

As freelance journalist Peter Dyer notes, prosecutors at the Nuremberg Tribunals deemed such journalistic support for war crimes to be a capital offense:

October 16 is an anniversary that should hold considerable interest for American journalists who have written in support of “Operation Iraqi Freedom” – the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Sixty-two years ago, on Oct. 16, 1946, Julius Streicher was hanged.

Streicher was one of a group of 10 Germans executed that day following the judgment of the first Nuremberg Trial – a 40-week trial of 22 of the most prominent Nazis.

Each was tried for two or more of the four crimes defined in the Nuremberg Charter: crimes against peace (aggression), war crimes, crimes against humanity, and conspiracy.

All who were sentenced to death were major German government officials or military leaders. Except for Streicher.

Julius Streicher was a journalist.

Editor of the vehemently anti-Semitic newspaper Der Stürmer, Streicher was convicted of, in the words of the judgment, “incitement to murder and extermination at the time when Jews in the East were being killed under the most horrible conditions clearly constitut(ing) … a crime against humanity.”

Presenting the case against Streicher, British prosecutor Lieutenant Colonel M.C. Griffith-Jones said: “My Lord, it may be that this defendant is less directly involved in the physical commission of the crimes against Jews. … The submission of the Prosecution is that his crime is no less the worse … that he made these things possible – made these crimes possible which could never have happened had it not been for him and for those like him. He led the propaganda and the education of the German people in those ways.”

The critical role of propaganda was affirmed at Nuremberg not only by the prosecution and in the judgment but also in the testimony of the most prominent Nazi defendant, Reichsmarshall Hermann Goering:

“Modern and total war develops, as I see it, along three lines: the war of weapons on land, at sea and in the air; economic war, which has become an integral part of every modern war; and, third, propaganda war, which is also an essential part of this warfare.”

Two months after the Nuremberg hangings, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 59(I), declaring:

“Freedom of information requires as an indispensable element the willingness and capacity to employ its privileges without abuse. It requires as a basic discipline the moral obligation to seek the facts without prejudice and to spread knowledge without malicious intent.”

The next year another General Assembly Resolution was adopted: Res. 110 which “condemns all forms of propaganda, in whatsoever country conducted, which is either designed or likely to provoke or encourage any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression.”

Although UN General Assembly Resolutions are not legally binding, Resolutions 59 and 110 carry considerable moral weight. This is because, like the United Nations itself, they are an expression of the catastrophic brutality and suffering of two world wars and the universal desire to avoid future slaughter.

Propaganda Crimes

Most jurisdictions have yet to recognize propaganda for war as a crime. However several journalists have recently been convicted of incitement to genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

Because there is stiff resistance, especially from the United States, the effort to criminalize war propaganda faces an uphill battle.

However in legal terms it seems relatively straightforward: if incitement to genocide is a crime, then incitement to aggression, another Nuremberg crime, could and should be as well.

After all, aggression – starting an unprovoked war – is “the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole,” in the words of the judgment at Nuremberg.

Criminal or not, much of the world now sees incitement to war as morally indefensible.

In this light and in light of Goering’s three-part recipe for war (weapons, economic war and propaganda) it is instructive to look at the role which American journalists and war propagandists have recently played in bringing about and sustaining war.

The Bush administration began to sell the invasion of Iraq to the American public soon after 9/11.

In order to coordinate this effort President Bush’s chief of staff, Andrew Card, established the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) in the summer of 2002 expressly for the purpose of marketing the invasion of Iraq.

Among the members of WHIG were media figures/propagandists Karen Hughes and Mary Matalin.

WHIG was remarkable not only for its recklessness with the truth but for the candor with which it acknowledged it was running an advertising campaign. A Sept. 7, 2002, New York Times article entitled TRACES OF TERROR: THE STRATEGY; Bush Aides Set Strategy to Sell Policy on Iraq reported:

“White House officials said today that the administration was following a meticulously planned strategy to persuade the public, the Congress and the allies of the need to confront the threat from Saddam Hussein….

” ‘From a marketing point of view,’ said Andrew H. Card Jr., the White House chief of staff who is coordinating the effort, ‘you don’t introduce new products in August.’ ”

It was as if the “product” – the unprovoked invasion of a sovereign state – was a consumer good, like a car or a TV show. The sales pitch was the manufactured “imminent threat” of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

In other words, the business of WHIG was incitement to aggressive war primarily through the propaganda of fear.

Along those lines WHIG’s most prominent member, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, invoked the specter of an Iraqi-generated nuclear holocaust in a Sept. 8, 2002, CNN interview with Wolf Blitzer:

“We do know that there have been shipments going into Iran, for instance – into Iraq, for instance, of aluminum tubes that really are only suited to – high-quality aluminum tools that are only really suited for nuclear weapons programs, centrifuge programs. … The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”

The smoking gun/mushroom cloud images were among the most memorable of all the White House war propaganda. They were generated just a few days earlier in a WHIG meeting by speechwriter Michael Gerson.

The existence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction was central to the Bush administration’s campaign for war. Other important elements were Saddam Hussein’s ties with Al Qaeda and the strongly implied association of Iraq with the tragedies of 9/11.

All were false. In propaganda, though, selling the product trumps truth.

Unquestioning Submission

The role played by American mainstream media during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq was marked by widespread unquestioning submission to the Bush administration and abandonment of the most fundamental journalistic responsibility to the public.

This responsibility is embodied not only in Resolution 59 but in the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics as well, which states: “Journalists should test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error.”

The failure of influential American journalists, such as the New York Times’ Judith Miller, to test the accuracy of information played a critical role in the Bush administration’s successful effort to incite the American public to attack a country which was not threatening us.

Though she was far from alone in selling the case for war, Miller — through her seemingly uncritical reliance on dodgy informants — was probably responsible to a larger degree than any other American journalist for spreading the fear of nonexistent Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

As such she and other influential journalists who failed in this way bear a share of moral, if not legal, responsibility for hundreds of thousands of deaths, millions of refugees and all the other carnage, devastation and human suffering of “Operation Iraqi Freedom.”

Some prominent American media figures, however, went considerably further than simple failure to check sources. Some actively and passionately encouraged Americans to commit and/or approve of war crimes, before and during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Prominent among these was Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly who – regarding both Afghanistan and Iraq – advocated such crimes forbidden by the Geneva Convention as collective punishment of civilians (Gen. Con. IV, Art. 33); attacking civilian targets (Protocol I, Art. 51); destroying water supplies (Protocol I Art. 54 Sec. 2) and even starvation (Protocol I, Art. 54 Sec. 1).

Sept. 17, 2001: “The U.S. should bomb the Afghan infrastructure to rubble: the airport, the power plants, their water facilities, and the roads” in the event of a refusal to hand over Osama bin Laden to the U.S.

Later, he added: “This is a very primitive country. And taking out their ability to exist day to day will not be hard.  … We should not target civilians. But if they don’t rise up against this criminal government, they starve, period.”

On March 26, 2003, a few days after the invasion of Iraq began, O’Reilly said: “There is a school of thought that says we should have given the citizens of Baghdad 48 hours to get out of Dodge by dropping leaflets and going with the AM radios and all that. Forty-eight hours, you’ve got to get out of there, and flatten the place.” [See Peter Hart’s “O’Reilly’s War: Any rationale—or none—will do” Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting, May/June 2003]

Collective Punishment

Another tremendously influential journalist, Pulitzer Prize winner and former executive editor of the New York Times, the late A.M. Rosenthal, also advocated attacking civilian targets and collective punishment in regard to waging war against Muslim nations in the Middle East.

In a Sept. 14, 2001, column, “How the U.S. Can Win the War”, Rosenthal wrote that the U.S. should give Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria and Sudan three days to consider an ultimatum demanding they turn over documents and information related to weapons of mass destruction and terrorist organizations.

During these three days, “the residents of the countries would be urged 24 hours a day by the U.S. to flee the capital and major cities, because they would be bombed to the ground beginning the fourth day.”

Right-wing media figure Ann Coulter, on the Sean Hannity Show on July 21, 2006, called for another war and more punishment of civilians, this time in Iran:

“Well, I keep hearing people say we can’t find the nuclear material, and you can bury it in caves. How about we just, you know, carpet-bomb them so they can’t build a transistor radio? And then it doesn’t matter if they have the nuclear material.”

This pattern of the major U.S. news figures advocating aggressive wars even predated 9/11. Three-time Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas Friedman published a strident call for war crimes including collective punishment of Serbs and the destruction of their water supplies over the Kosovo crisis:

“But if NATO’s only strength is that it can bomb forever, then it has to get every ounce out of that. Let’s at least have a real air war. The idea that people are still holding rock concerts in Belgrade, or going out for Sunday merry-go-round rides, while their fellow Serbs are ‘cleansing’ Kosovo, is outrageous. It should be lights out in Belgrade: every power grid, water pipe, bridge, road and war-related factory has to be targeted.

“Like it or not, we are at war with the Serbian nation (the Serbs certainly think so), and the stakes have to be very clear: Every week you ravage Kosovo is another decade we will set your country back by pulverizing you. You want 1950? We can do 1950. You want 1389? We can do 1389 too.” [New York Times, April 23, 1999]

These casual — even joking — comments about inflicting war on relatively weak countries came from American journalists and media figures at the very top of their profession. Each was addressing an audience of millions. It is difficult to overstate their influence.

Over the past decade alone, the massive destruction and carnage wreaked by American pursuit of “the supreme international crime” of aggression has been enabled by negligent, reckless and/or malicious use of this influence.

Sadly, the words of Nuremberg Prosecutor Griffith-Jones concerning the propaganda of German journalist Julius Streicher hold considerable meaning today for some of the most prominent journalists in the country which, 60 years ago, provided the guiding light at Nuremberg:

Streicher “made these things possible – made these crimes possible which could never have happened had it not been for him and for those like him.”

In 1947, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 127 in which “the General Assembly … invites the Governments of States Members … to study such measures as might with advantage, be taken on the national plane to combat, within the limits of constitutional procedures, the diffusion of false or distorted reports likely to injure friendly relations between States.”

Unfortunately, 60 years later, little progress has been made. War propaganda is still legal and very much alive – flourishing, in fact, as demonstrated by periodic calls for one more invasion of a country which has never threatened the U.S.: Iran.

As matters stand today, with the United States still the world’s preeminent military power, the American propagandists who enabled Operation Iraqi Freedom and other wars of aggression have little need not worry about their legal responsibilities under the Nuremberg principles.

A strong case can be made, though, that they have blood on their hands.

Buying Venezuela’s Press With U.S. Tax Dollars

Buying Venezuela’s Press With U.S. Tax Dollars

July 15, 2010
Jeremy Bigwood

The U.S. State Department is secretly funneling millions of dollars to Latin American journalists, according to documents obtained in June under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The 20 documents released to this author—including grant proposals, awards, and quarterly reports—show that between 2007 and 2009, the State Department’s little-known Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor channeled at least $4 million to journalists in Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Venezuela through the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), a Washington-based grant maker that has worked in Latin America since 1962. Thus far, only documents pertaining to Venezuela have been released. They reveal that the PADF, collaborating with Venezuelan NGOs associated with the country’s political opposition, has been supplied with at least $700,000 to give out journalism grants and sponsor journalism education programs.

Until now, the State Department has hidden its role in funding the Venezuelan news media, one of the opposition’s most powerful weapons against President Hugo Chávez and his Bolivarian movement. The PADF, serving as an intermediary, effectively removed the government’s fingerprints from the money. Yet, as noted in a State Department document titled “Bureau/Program Specific Requirements,” the State Department’s own policies require that “all publications” funded by the department “acknowledge the support.” But the provision was simply waived for the PADF. “For the purposes of this award,” the requirements document adds, “ . . . the recipient is not required to publicly acknowledge the support of the U.S. Department of State.”

Before 2007, the largest funder of U.S. “democracy promotion” activities in Venezuela was not the State Department but the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), together with the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). But in 2005, these organizations’ underhanded funding was exposed by Venezuelan American attorney Eva Golinger in a series of articles, books, and lectures (disclosure: This author obtained many of the documents). After the USAID and NED covers were blown wide open—forcing USAID’s main intermediary, Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI), a Maryland–based contractor, to close its office in Caracas—the U.S. government apparently sought new funding channels, one of which the PADF appears to have provided.

Although the $700,000 allocated to the PADF, which is noted in the State Department’s requirements document, may not seem like a lot of money, the funds have been strategically used to buy off the best of Venezuela’s news media and recruit young journalists. This has been achieved by collaborating with opposition NGOs, many of which have a strong media focus. The requirements document is the only document that names any of these organizations—which was probably an oversight on the State Department’s part, since the recipients’ names and a lot of other information are excised in the rest of the documents. The requirements document names Espacio Público and Instituto Prensa y Sociedad, two leading organizations linked to the Venezuelan opposition, as recipients of “subgrants.”

Neither organization makes clear its connection to the State Department. Espacio Público, according to its website, is a “non-profit, non-governmental civil association that is independent and autonomous of political parties, religious institutions, international organizations or any government” (emphasis added). Two of three images on the homepage are from anti-Chávez demonstrations. The other “subgrantee,” the Venezuelan chapter of Instituto Prensa y Sociedad (IPyS-Ve), is a Peru-based journalism organization that was started with funding from USAID, and that has continued to receive USAID money while launching a series of attacks on Chávez. It has explicitly opposed Chávez since 2000, when it falsely accused him of harboring Peruvian dictator Alberto Fujimori’s fugitive spymaster, Vladimiro Montesinos (Chávez’s own authorities later arrested Montesinos and extradited him to Peru).

The documents detail a series of grants doled out to unnamed individual journalists. These include two kinds of grants “for innovative reporting and investigative reporting,” with the winning content disseminated online “and to selected independent media audiences.” While we don’t know who won these grants, we know that they were substantial. One of them consisted of 10 one-year grants of $25,000 each. For many journalists, especially in Latin America, $25,000 for a year is a high salary. The PADF also holds “2 competitions, one per year, for a total of $20,000 in funding awarded to at least 6 entries.”

The PADF’s Venezuela program also supports journalism education, which is undertaken to produce investigative work “via innovative media technologies,” according to an “Action Memorandum” for a fiscal year 2007 grant. This grant includes “a series of trainings for local journalists focused on the basic and advanced skills of Internet-based reporting and investigative reporting,” according to the requirements document. The education program engages “a wide range of Venezuelan media organizations and news outlets, including 4 university partners,” where it aims “to establish one course per school on investigative reporting.” PADF proposes targeting not only universities in the capital city of Caracas, but also regional ones in “the Andes, Center East, Zulia and the Western region of the country.” In each region, “the local partners will sign agreements with academic institutions that teach social communications.”

The revelations of U.S. funding of Venezuelan journalism comes on the heels of a report released in May by the center-right European think tank FRIDE, which found that since 2002 the United States has spent an estimated $3 million to $6 million every year “on small projects with political parties and NGOs” in Venezuela, with funds distributed through an alphabet soup of shifting and intertwined channels. (The report was removed from FRIDE’s website soon after it was publicized.) The PADF journalism program thus appears to be part of a much larger project of propping up the Venezuelan opposition.

The Venezuelan journalists and students who benefited from the grants and education may not have known of the State Department funding. Nonetheless, foreign state support for ostensibly independent journalism violates basic principles of the profession’s integrity.

Look for an expanded version of this article in the September/October edition of NACLA Report on the Americas.


Jeremy Bigwood is an investigative reporter whose work has appeared in American Journalism Review, The Village Voice, and several other publications. He covered Latin American conflicts from 1984 to 1994 as a photojournalist.