More Guardian propaganda

This is a lovely piece of Guardian propaganda on Syria.

The author is delusional. It is however a nice example of how the Western media builds its propaganda. A few quotes – from Anti-Assad groups and the UN (to give it a sense of objectivity) are picked out and strung together to build the narrative. Of course; this is just how delusions are developed by psychotics – a few points which are true establish the narrative which itself is delusional. The author no doubt believes his “analysis” and probably thinks he is saving humanity.

Before commenting on a few specific points it is worth noting that the author gets through his whole piece about an upcoming “murderous onslaught” in Syria’s Idlib province without once mentioning who the target of the military campaign is – Al-Nusra, or Al Qaeda in Syria – and affiliated groups. This, Al-Nusra / Al-Qaeda, is the same group who murdered more than 3000 Americans in the Twin Towers attacks in 2001. This group is not mentioned once in the article! That alone tells us we are in the realm of extraordinary propaganda.

A few points:

The author cites something called “The Syria Campaign” as evidence of human rights atrocities committed by Assad/Russia (he doesn’t specify which). A quick glance at the website of “The Syria Campaign” with its banner “We are a human rights advocacy group supporting Syria’s heroes in the struggle for freedom and democracy” tells us clearly which side of the civil war this group is on. As we know “truth is the first casualty of war”. Citing a partisan group for information in the context of a war is reasonable reporting; however to present it as some kind of source of neutral facts is babyish. You shouldn’t even pass the first year of an undergraduate course in journalism if you can’t show that you are assessing your sources for likely bias.

The author describes as “disinformation” and “fake news” recent Russian claims that the militants are planning a chemical weapons “false-flag” operation. He then backs up this claim by referencing “documented evidence” by a group called the Syrian Archive that the Syrian government has committed chemical weapons attacks in the past. (Therefore it is false to say that the militants are planning a false flag attack). Again we are supposed to believe that the Syrian Archive is some kind of neutral objective group. But even one second’s research shows that it is not. The director of this group is linked to the notorious Belllingcat operation – a single person who is linked to Nato’s Atlantic Council [1] and who produces shoddily researched papers based largely on “social media analysis” backing Western positions on various matters (usually Russia bad). (We have analysed his ‘work’ on MH17 here – it is demonstrably technically flawed). What we see here is a nexus of organisations who present themselves as “human rights advocates” and so on but who, in reality, are part of an organised network of groups producing pro-Western narratives. Furthemore; if the Assad regime has on occasion used chemical weapons it does not follow from that that every incident can be taken at face value. It is possible for it both to be true that Assad’s forces have used chemical weapons and militants have staged false flag attacks. In reality this is what happens in the fog of war. On both points then – objectivity of sources and general understanding of how to report on wars author Simon Tisdall’s piece fails elementary tests of journalism. He simply fails to show that Russian claims about an upcoming chemical weapons false flag operation by militants are “fake news”.

Then we have this:

The Russian and Syrian regimes claimed to be solely concerned with fighting terrorism when defending their previous, indiscriminate missile, barrel bomb and artillery attacks on civilian residential areas, hospitals and schools, notably in Aleppo and Eastern Ghouta, which caused mass casualties.

One wonders if Mr Tisdall has any evidence for his claim that Russia has used “barrel bombs” and “indiscriminate missile attacks” in Syria? Probably not. He’s probably just making it up.

The underlying thread here is basically that when Russia is involved in a military operation it is a “murderous onslaught on civilians” but when the West or Israel is it is usually a “targeted campaign aimed to minimise civilian casualties”. To be fair to Mr Tisdall he was one of a few voices questioning the propaganda the public was fed in the run-up to the Iraq war. It seems strange that he appears to have lost his ability to question what the Western corporate-state is telling him on Syria.

Notes

1. http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/about/experts/list/eliot-higgins

Advertisements

Information correction on US war-games in Syria

The US has shot down a Syrian fighter jet in Syria.

The Independent reports the statement by the US military as saying that they:

The Coalition’s mission is to defeat Isis in Iraq and Syria. The Coalition does not seek to fight Syrian regime, Russian, or pro-regime forces partnered with them, but will not hesitate to defend Coalition or partner forces from any threat.

The Coalition presence in Syria addresses the imminent threat Isis in Syria poses globally. The demonstrated hostile intent and actions of pro-regime forces toward Coalition and partner forces in Syria conducting legitimate counter-ISIS operations will not be tolerated.

The Coalition calls on all parties to focus their efforts on the defeat of Isis, which is our common enemy and the greatest threat to regional and worldwide peace and security

This is a blatant lie. An extraordinary piece of double-speak even by the Empire’s usual standards. The CIA has a programme to arm ‘moderate rebels’ in the South of Syria. The aim of this operation is to build a force to fight President Assad. [1] (This link also includes the chilling admission attributed by the Washington Post to a ‘US Official’ that the aim of US policy in Syria is to “prolong the war”).

The above blatant lie is now the currency of the day and reported without question by the Western press.

 

Notes

1. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/plans-to-send-heavier-weapons-to-cia-backed-rebels-in-syria-stall-amid-white-house-skepticism/2016/10/23/f166ddac-96ee-11e6-bb29-bf2701dbe0a3_story.html?utm_term=.3609e47d2e56
See also: http://www.stopwar.org.uk/index.php/news-comment/1490-how-the-uk-is-secretly-helping-to-stoke-the-flames-of-war-in-syria

Something fishy about claims about Syrian use of chemical weapons

Firstly; let’s avoid getting drawn into the narrative that the Western war strategists want us to be drawn into.

Chemical weapons are nasty. They kill people in nasty ways. Dying from chlorine poisoning or Sarin is probably not massive fun. Then again; dying from a sophisticated and modern fuel air explosive device is probably not a bundle of fun either. Dying from burns caused by incendiary bombs is probably no great joy. And, for that matter being killed by flying fragments of any kind is probably not all that nice. The narrative about how chemical weapons are so terrible is entirely false. It is used by people who don’t use chemical weapons – not because they are more moral, but because they have more lethal and effective ways to kill people.

The US and the UK make a continual noise about how they “never deliberately target civilians”. Maybe. Maybe. But they certainly drop bombs all over the place, not in self-defence, but in wars of aggression undertaken to maintain their strategic political and economic dominance, in the full knowledge that they will be killing civilians by the tens of thousands. The public are fed (via the compliant media) images of targeted airstrikes on military vehicles and buildings. Meanwhile the strikes rain down on “dual-use” facilities such as power stations, substations, local telephone exchanges etc. and on other locations designated as command and control centres. Often in populated areas.

So. The fuss about 80 dead civilians in Khan Sheikhoun is entirely made up.

There is something fishy about the claims in the West that this was an attack carried out by Assad’s forces. The town of Khan Sheikhoun is in a rebel held area in Idlib province. Firstly; 3 days after the attack there is no definite analysis of the chemical used. This town is in rebel held territory. Why have US or UK special forces, known to be operating in the region, not flown in and collected samples? If this is so important and they are so sure it is Assad why not do this and start to build an evidenced case against him? Secondly; if they care so much about the civilians in Khan Sheikhoun why have they not flown in medical teams? They can do that in 1-2 days in the case of an earthquake far further away from the UK (say) than Syria is. If the answer to either of these questions is that the town of Khan Sheikhoun is held by Al Nusra (the Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria) – which it may be based on this map and this article in Deutsche Welle – then that does not explain the lack of action. Surely the rebels of Al Nusra would be willing to provide samples, even to a neutral party, if they thought it would lead to Assad being bombed? And medical aid can be air-dropped in. But – nothing. And if this town is held by Al Nusra aren’t these the same rebels whom the US claimed were innocent victims when Russia was bombing Aleppo? Surely the US can’t be saying they are too scared to go among them?

It seems entirely irrational for Assad’s forces to be using chemical weapons since the result achieved has been so predictable. The US has joined the war against them – directly (rather than just by arming proxies).

Neither the fishiness of the US/UK position nor the fact that were Assad to have done this it would have been irrational mean that the attack was not carried out by Assad’s forces. But it does mean that any clear-sighted observer should be wary of making assumptions here.

 

 

 

First you must learn to smile as you kill

The UK hidden state fronted by people like Mr Boris Johnson and Michael Fallon may not be directly arming people who commit outright terrorist atrocities like this one in Syria.

But by supporting – diplomatically and militarily (the UK is running a secret military intelligence op. out of Jordan) – forces who are trying to bring down the Syrian state at the time when the Syrian state needs all its resources to fight terrorism these people make themselves bloodily complicit in these murders.

Mr Johnson can – like a criminal trying to lie his way out of a tricky matter in court by passing the blame – try to say it is all the Russian’s fault for backing Assad. But this is spurious. In international law Russia is in the right. It is Mr Johnson who is the wrong side of the law. And, even more to the point, with a visible track-record of the results of Western backed regime change operations all too visible in the failed states of Libya and Iraq a claim which accuses Russia for trying to block a third regime change operation looks threadbare.

How these people continue to do the round of dinners, political engagements and sleep while all around them washes the blood of the innocents who are paying the price for just being in the way of their rapacious and reckless actions is completely beyond this writer.

 

The other narrative on Aleppo

Some balance.

If you only read the Guardian and listen to the US State Department and the British political establishment you could be forgiven for thinking that for the last few months Russia has been bombing nothing but hospitals in Eastern Aleppo and doing nothing but killing civilians and making orphans.

This piece (below) which appears to be a deliberate balancing act by RT gives the other story. Orphans created by terrorists who are allied to groups backed by the West. Children helped by militias linked to Iran. This narrative is absolutely true for those who are effected. No doubt there is an element of truth in the narrative about Russia – or the Syrian air-force – having killed civilians in Eastern Aleppo. But the narrative that that is what they’ve been doing for the last few months doesn’t stand up; if they hadn’t being targeting the ‘militants’ how would they now have been able to break through?

So. Since the West has weaponised civilian casualties lets fire a shot back:

 

 

 

 

With war crimes it all depends on who is doing the killing.

The UK calls for war crimes trials against Saudi Arabia in connection with the striking of hospitals and schools in Yemen and the large-scale loss of civilian life. No. Just kidding. Actually Boris Johnson, the UK’s Foreign Secretary, has been calling for war crimes trials for Russia based on its bombing campaign in Aleppo. The Western media is focusing on Aleppo. Let’s turn our attention to Yemen.

In Yemen the UN reports large-scale civilian casualties caused by planes of the Saudi/US coalition.  Hospitals and schools are frequently hit. There have been “massive civilian casualties and zero accountability for those responsible”. [1] Only this week a funeral was bombed causing massive loss of life. The strike appears to have been carried out by the Saudi coalition. (The funeral in Yemen was a gathering of Houti leaders so one can hazard a guess that it was bombed deliberately). The strike appears to have used a double-tap strike (according to the BBC). [2] Only last week the UK’s Foreign Secretary explained that the alleged Russian use of the ‘double-tap’ method in Syria is “unquestionably a war crime”. [3]

The US arms Saudi Arabia. According to the Independent ‘thousands’ of civilians have been killed in the Saudi bombing of the Yemeni capital Sanaa so far. [4] The US was warned last year by its own lawyers about possible complicity in war crimes due to its involvement with the Saudi bombing campaign. [4] The UK is engaged in giving military training support to the Saudi bombing operation in Yemen. [5] The UK also sells weapons to Saudi Arabia. Following the bombing of the funeral Downing Street issued a curt statement that they are waiting for the results of the Saudi ‘investigation’ (an in-house investigation) but noted that Saudi Arabia is a “close and important ally for Britain”. [6]

That Boris Johnson, the British Foreign Secretary, can stand up in the House of Commons and call for war crimes trials against Russian leaders based on their campaign against acknowledged terrorists in Eastern Aleppo in Syria while Downing Street issues a blunt statement about “close and important ally” when Saudi Arabia is directly identified by the UN as hitting schools and hospitals in Yemen says something about Boris Johnson’s capacity for mental compartmentalization. One reason he can do this is because the fully on-board UK press will, in the main, play along. For example today both the Guardian and the Telegraph carry stories about Mr Johnson’s call for war crimes trials against Russia but nothing about Yemen, despite the recent massacre at the funeral. The Guardian also carries an emotive story about claimed civilian casualties from air-strikes (Russian or Syrian) in eastern Aleppo. [7] The article is crafted so as to intersperse the process of the debate in parliament with an alleged account of civilian injuries from Russian/Syrian bombing in Aleppo.  This is a purely emotional tactic – a piece of theatre which does a disservice to the people in the story. (The story does mention 7 deaths but, tellingly, these are not described as the deaths of ‘old men, children, women’, leaving open the possibility that these were fighters). The main source for the story is a member of a Western funded NGO ‘White Helmets’ who is misleadingly described as “civil defence staff”. Injuries in war are sad. Injuries to innocent children are especially harrowing. But when we see stories like this, long on emotion and short on facts, we should realise that someone is trying to manipulate us. And, if they are trying to get a result by manipulating peoples’ emotions that is perhaps a sign that they could not get a result by reason. The result they are seeking is clear; they want the West to bomb Assad. One is reminded of stories about babies being stolen from incubators (an entirely false story that was used to whip up fever for the first Gulf war).

The attentive reader will notice some connections here. The UK is a major funder of the ‘White Helmets’. [8] The ‘White Helmets’ liaise with the Guardian to produce stories about the horrors of Assad’s or Russian bombing. Boris Johnson stands up in the House and accuses Russia of war crimes. A combined front generating a case for a military intervention.

Business as usual then. ‘Human rights’ and ‘war crimes’ are being deployed with complete cynicism for what the terms actually mean, as a tactic of war and domination. While our intelligence is insulted with this twisting of terms which should have some meaning our emotions are assailed with powerful imagery of shell-shocked children – always it seems the ones whose suffering is caused by the other side. Who knows; perhaps there is something especially horrible about being bombed with a Russian bomb rather than an American bomb? After all aren’t American bombs nice and clean and the bringers of freedom and democracy? Don’t they usher in a world where we can all sit in cafés and read the Guardian in a Utopian liberal democracy?

Notes

1. UN. January 2016. Civilian casualties in Yemen

October 2016. RT reports comments by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

UN site. October 2016. Quotes by UN Commissioner for Human Rights

2. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-37613440 – BBC reporting that Saudi Arabia has admitted to being involved in the strike on a funeral. The strike included a “double-tap” follow-up attack.

3. https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/1887484/vladimir-putin-is-slaughtering-innocent-civilians-in-syria-on-purpose-claims-boris-johnson/ – the Sun reports that Boris Johnston claimed that the Russians are using “double-tap” strikes in Aleppo and this is “unquestionably a war crime”.

4. Independent. October 2016 – US was warned by its own lawyers that its arms sales to Saudi Arabia could implicate it in war crimes

5. Guardian April 2016. UK providing training to Saudi Arabia

6. ITV. October 2016. UK to continue selling arms to Saudi Arabia after funeral strike (pending the results of the in-house ‘investigation’)

7. Guardian. October 2016

8. RT. October 2016. Reports on UK financial support for ‘White Helmets’

Over the edge in Syria?

The Western line on Syria is that Russia is committing ‘war-crimes’ in its bombing campaign in Eastern Aleppo. And that Russia is ‘prolonging’ the civil war in Syria. This narrative line is coordinated between the capitals (Washington, London, Paris).

Even by the usual Western standards of narrative building this is so detached from the facts on the ground as to be quite surprising. The ‘facts on the ground’ don’t require conspiracy theory or even recourse to the ‘propaganda bull-horn’ of RT (though RT’s fact checking is of a high standard). The facts on the ground are well-known and acknowledged in individual reports in Western media as the attentive reader can note in the links at the foot of this article. Here are a few salient points:

1. From the start of the Syrian civil war the West has been saying that “Assad must go”. This has obviously emboldened the opposition – currently represented loosely by the Saudi backed ‘High Negotiating Committee’ – to refuse to negotiate on this point. Since Assad, understandably, doesn’t want to go this has created a situation of political stalemate. This, more than anything, has prolonged the civil war.

2. The UK has been sending ‘non-lethal’ military aid to assorted ‘Syrian rebels’. The UK is involved in military intelligence operations run out of Jordan designed to undermine the government of Syria. [1]

3. The US has two separate programmes to arm ‘moderate rebels’. One is a covert operation supplying arms and training to rebels in the South of Syria. This is  connected to the intelligence operation run out of Jordan. The other was a failed programme to arm ‘moderate rebels’ in the North of Syria. This failed because they couldn’t find any ‘moderate’ rebels. [2]

4. It is very right-wing Islamist groups not ‘moderate rebels’ who are taking the fight to Assad. [3]

5. The West may sponsor ‘moderate rebels’ but the West’s allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar are much less fussy. They have been sending arms to right-wing Islamist groups. Some of these groups on occasion collaborate with Al-Qaeda. Even the West’s ‘moderate rebels’ cannot be separated from Al-Qaeda – as the US State Department admits. [4]

It follows from the above that the West (the UK, France and Britain) are engaged in a political, military and diplomatic campaign to unseat the government of Syria. While being careful to try to avoid directly aiding Al-Qaeda it is clear that through their alliances the West is indeed aligned with the objectives of Al-Qaeda in Syria. By a) continuing to insist that ‘Assad must go’ and b) continuing to send in weapons and support to groups fighting Assad the West continues to pour fuel onto the conflict. In basic terms; if there are two sides in a fight it could be said of either that by continuing to fight they are ‘prolonging the conflict’. When the West accuses Russia of ‘prolonging the conflict’ this is only ‘true’ if we reveal the sub-text; a military victory for the Islamist groups against Assad. Which is worse? A unified Syrian state led, at least for a time, by Assad or a military victory by Al-Qaeda and affiliated right-wing Islamist groups? A stable path to a political settlement in Syria is more likely to be possible if there is a functioning state of some kind. We have seen what happens when the state is destroyed – witness Iraq and Libya. In both cases the result has been incessant fighting between various factions and ongoing chaos and enormous human suffering. The most striking aspect of Western policy on Syria is quite how petulant and short-sighted it is. It seems that now all they care about is ‘winning’ or, at least, not ‘losing’ to Russia. With childish brinkmanship of this kind, by leaders of powerful armed states, the world is indeed in a dangerous place.

The level of the West’s accusations against Russia (‘war crimes’, ‘prolonging the civil war’) are probably in proportion to their uneasy conscience about being in the same boat as Al-Qaeda.

Notes

1. UK sends military assistance to ‘moderate rebels’

Independent 2013 – Britain sends ‘non-lethal’ battlefield military support to ‘moderate rebels’

Stop the War campaign group in 2014: MI6 working with CIA on its weapons supply programmes based on journalist Seymour Hersh’s reporting

 

2. US is arming ‘moderate rebels’  to overthrow Assad

New York Times 2012: CIA facilitating weapons transfer to Syrian rebels

New York Times 2016; Timber Sycamore – CIA programme to arm ‘moderate rebels’ to topple Assad

Guardian 2015: US could only find 5 moderate rebels in the north of Syria. CIA programme in South continues

 

3. It is right-wing Islamist groups who are leading the fight against Assad

IB Times 2015: Al-Qaeda now one of the most popular ‘rebel’ groups in Syria

Guardian 2013: growing strength of Islamist groups in Syria

 

4. The West’s Gulf Allies are supporting right-wing Islamist groups who co-operate with Al-Qaeda. ‘Moderate rebels’ are intemingled with these groups 

IB Times 2015: Ahrar al-Sham co-operates with Al-Qaeda and the FSA

WikiPedia: various media references linking Ahrar al-Sham to Qatar, Turkey and Saudi Arabia

Stanford University: Saudi Arabia funds Ahrar al-Sham. Ahrar al-Sham cooperates with Al-Qaeda

New York Times 2012: most arms shipped by Saudi Arabia and Qatar go to ‘hardline Islamists’

New Obs 2016: US State Department admits it cannot separate ‘moderates’ from Al-Qaeda.