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'The Terrorists R Us.' The Islamic State 'Big Lie'


Michel Chossudovsky
Under the auspices of the UN Security Council, with president Obama chairing the session, the US has called upon the international community to adopt strong measures, at national and international levels, to curtail the recruitment of IS fighters.

What is not mentioned in the media reports is that the heads of State and heads of government who have endorsed America’s campaign against the Islamic State, advised by their respective secret services, are fully aware that US intelligence is the unspoken architect of the Islamic State, which is part of a vast network of US supported “jihadist” terrorist entities. Countries are either coerced into supporting the US sponsored resolution or they are complicit in the US terror agenda.

Lest we forget, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, have been financing and training the ISIL terrorists on behalf of the United States. Israel is harboring the Islamic State (ISIL) in the Golan Heights, NATO in liaison with the Turkish high command has since March 2011 been involved in coordinating the recruitment of the jihadist fighters dispatched to Syria. Moreover, the ISIL brigades in both Syria and Iraq are integrated by Western special forces and military advisers.

All this is known and documented, yet not a single head of state or head of government has had the courage to point to the absurdity of the US sponsored United Nations Security Council resolution, which was adopted unanimously on September 24.

“Absurdity” is an understatement. What we are witnessing is a criminal undertaking under UN auspices.

While international diplomacy is often based on deception, US foreign policy lies are no longer credible. What we are witnessing is a total breakdown of established diplomatic practice. The “Forbidden Truth” is that the Islamic State is an instrument of Washington, a US ” intelligence asset”. ISIL is not an independent entity, nor is it an “outside enemy” which threatens global security, as conveyed by the Western media.

While everybody knows this, the big lie prevails. The Lie becomes the Truth.

The United Nations Security Council resolution calls upon member states to “suppress the recruiting, organizing, transporting, equipping and financing of foreign terrorist fighters,” Specifically, the resolution points to the “the particular and urgent need to implement this resolution with respect to those foreign terrorist fighters who are associated with ISIL [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant], ANF [Al-Nusrah Front] and other cells, affiliates, splinter groups or derivatives of Al-Qaida…” But are these not precisely the “opposition freedom fighters” trained and recruited by the Western military alliance in their quest to unseat the government of Bashar Al Assad?

The ISIL are the foot soldiers of the Western military alliance. Their unspoken mandate is to wreck havoc and destruction in Syria and Iraq, acting on behalf of their US sponsors. The endgame is to transform countries into territories.

Political leaders present at the UN Security Council session applauded the US counter-terrorism initiative. France’s President Francois Hollande pointed to the fact that “terrorism has taken on another dimension, and it wants to conquer territory now.”

Several US allies including Jordan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar which are currently involved in supporting ISIL and Al Nusrah are now involved in the US sponsored air raids allegedly targeted against the ISIL inside Syria.

Turkey and Jordan have borders with Syria. Saudi Arabia and Turkey have borders with Iraq. The direct military involvement of these countries points to a scenario of escalation and sectarian warfare extending from the Mediterranean to Central Asia.

In this regard, Turkey has already announced that it will be involved in ground operations inside Syria and Iraq. The newly-elected Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu announced (a day prior to the UN Security Council meeting) that his government will be seeking the endorsement of the Turkish Parliament to intervene militarily in both Iraq and Syria.

What is at stake is a so-called “no fly zone” in disguise, a justification to bomb Iraq and Syria under a counter-terrorism mandate, largely targeting economic infrastructure as well as the civilian population. The political architects of the Islamic State including president Obama, prime minister Cameron and their counterparts in France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, et al, are now waging a military campaign against the Islamic State, which they themselves created. Boots on the ground are also contemplated. According to Iraqi government sources, the US will sending some 13000 troops to Iraq.


Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron (Andrew Burton / Getty Images North America / AFP)

The leaders of western countries are either utterly ignorant and stupid, or totally corrupt and complicit? “The Terrorists R US.” Moreover, they seem totally unaware of the broad implications of their actions.

War propaganda is a criminal act under Nuremberg: Crime against the Peace. By upholding the lies and fabrications of US foreign policy, the mainstream media is complicit in war crimes.

Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron is to bring the matter to the British parliament. The revocation of citizenship is contemplated in Britain as well as in Canada for those suspected of supporting the jihadist movement. While Britain’s Prime minister has called upon Her Majesty’s government “to restrict or rescind the passports of British jihadists … Home Secretary Theresa May has threatened to deprive those Britons already fighting with the Islamic State of their citizenship.”

Ironically, Prime Minister Cameron is complicit in facilitating and organizing within the UK the recruitment of British jihadists. And indeed one might suggest, pending the formulation of criminal charges, that his passport should be revoked for “supporting the jihadist movement”.

George W. Bush stated in 2001, “you are either with us or with the terrorists.” The forbidden truth is that the US is involved in a diabolical undertaking: it has created an Islamic terror network with a view to destroying sovereign countries and now it is waging a war against its own terror network. Without media propaganda, this military agenda under the guise of counter-terrorism would fall flat, collapse like a deck of cards.

The US president and his indefectible British ally “R the Terrorists”, they are the “state sponsors of terrorism”, with a view to waging a war of conquest. The United Nations is complicit in this undertaking.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Michel Chossudovsky is an award-winning author, professor of economics, founder and director of the Centre for Research on Globalization, Montreal and editor of the globalresearch.ca website.
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Why Syrians support Bashar al Assad

By Tim Anderson


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The sudden reversion of Washington to a 'war on terror' pretext for intervention in Syria has confused western audiences. For three years they watched 'humanitarian intervention' stories, which poured contempt on the Syrian President's assertion that he was fighting foreign backed terrorists. Now the US claims to be leading the fight against those same terrorists.

But what do Syrians think, and why do they continue to support a man the western powers have claimed is constantly attacking and terrorising 'his own people'? To understand this we must consider the huge gap between the western caricature of Bashar al Assad the 'brutal dictator' and the popular and urbane figure within Syria.

If we believed most western media reports we would think President Assad has launched repeated and indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas, including the gassing of children. We might also think he heads an 'Alawi regime', where a 12% minority represses a Sunni Muslim majority, crushing a popular 'revolution' which, only recently, has been 'hijacked' by extremists.

The central problem with these portrayals is Bashar's great popularity at home. The fact that there is popular dissatisfaction with corruption and cronyism, and that an authoritarian state maintains a type of personality cult, does not negate the man's genuine popularity. His strong win in Syria's first multi-candidate elections in June dismayed his regional enemies, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey; but it did not stop their aggression.

Syrians saw things differently. Bashar was thought to maintain his father's pluralist and nationalist tradition, while modernising and holding out the promise of political reform. Opinion polls in Syria had shown major dissatisfaction with corruption and political cronyism, mixed views on the economy but strong satisfaction with stability, women's rights and the country's independent foreign policy. The political reform rallies of 2011 - countered by pro-government rallies and quickly overshadowed by violent insurrection - were not necessarily anti Bashar.

The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood and other sectarian Islamist groups did hate him, along with the secular state. Yet even these enemies, in their better moments, recognised the man's popularity. In late 2011 a Doha Debates poll (created by the Qatari monarchy, a major backer of the Muslim Brotherhood) showed 55% of Syrians wanted Assad to stay.

Armed Islamists went further. In 2012 Reuters, the UK Guardian and Time magazine reported three 'Free Syrian Army' (FSA) leaders in Aleppo saying the Syrian President had about '70 percent' support; or that the local people, 'all of them, are loyal to the criminal Bashar, they inform on us'; or that they are 'all informers ... they hate us. They blame us for the destruction'. Unpopularity, of course, is fatal to a revolution; to a religious fanatic it is merely inconvenient. All three FSA groups were Islamists on good terms with al Qaeda.

None of these revelations changed the western media reliance on Muslim Brotherhood-aligned sources, 'activists' or 'moderate rebels'. They relied, in particular, on the UK-based Rami Abdul Rahman, who calls himself the 'Syrian Observatory of Human Rights'. Such sources kept 'Bashar the Monster' alive, outside Syria.

Central to the Bashar myth are two closely related stories: that of the 'moderate rebel' and the story that conjures 'Assad loyalists' or 'regime forces' in place of a large, dedicated national army, with broad popular support. To understand the Bashar myth we have to consider the Syrian Arab Army.

At over half a million, the Army is so large that most Syrian communities have strong family links, including with those fallen in the war. There are regular ceremonies for families of these 'martyrs', with thousands proudly displaying photos of their loved ones. Further, most of the several million Syrians, displaced by the conflict, have not left the country but rather have moved to other parts under Army protection. This is not really explicable if the Army were indeed engaged in 'indiscriminate' attacks on civilians. A repressive army invokes fear and loathing in a population, yet in Damascus one can see that people do not cower as they pass through the many army road blocks, set up to protect against 'rebel' car bombs.

Syrians know there were abuses against demonstrators in early 2011; they also know that the President dismissed the Governor of Dara for this. They know that the armed insurrection was not a consequence of the protests but rather a sectarian insurrection that took cover under those rallies. Saudi official Anwar el-Eshki admitted to the BBC that his country had provided weapons to Islamists in Dara, and their rooftop sniping closely resembled the Muslim Brotherhood's failed insurrection in Hama, back in 1982. Hafez al Assad crushed that revolt in a few weeks. Of the incident US intelligence said total casualties were probably 'about 2,000' including '300 to 400' members of the Muslim Brotherhood's elite militia. The Brotherhood and many western sources have since inflated those numbers, calling it a 'massacre'. Armed Islamists posing as civilian victims have a long history in Syria.

Quite a number of Syrians have criticised President Assad to me, but not in the manner of the western media. They say they wanted him to be as firm as his father. Many in Syria regard him as too soft, leading to the name 'Mr Soft Heart'. Soldiers in Damascus told me there is an Army order to make special efforts to capture alive any Syrian combatant. This is controversial, as many regard them as traitors, no less guilty than foreign terrorists.

What of the 'moderate rebels'? Before the rise of ISIS, back in late 2011, the largest FSA brigade, Farouk, the original 'poster boys' of the 'Syrian Revolution', took over parts of Homs city. One US report called them 'legitimate nationalists ... pious rather than Islamists and not motivated by sectarianism'. The International Crisis Group suggested that Farouk might be 'pious' rather than Islamist. The Wall Street Journal also called them 'pious Sunnis' rather than Islamists. The BBC called them 'moderately Islamist'.

All this was quite false. Syrians in Homs said Farouk went into the city with the genocidal slogan: 'Alawis to the grave, Christians to Beirut'. Shouting 'God is Great' they blew up Homs hospital, because it had been treating soldiers. The churches blamed Farouk for the ethnic cleansing of more than 50,000 Christians from the city, and for the imposition of an Islamist tax. Journalist Radwan Mortada says most Farouk members were sectarian Salafis, armed and funded by Saudi Arabia. They later happily worked with the various al Qaeda groups, and were first to blame their own atrocities on the Army.

Let's consider some key accusations against the Syrian Arab Army. In May 2012, days before a UN Security Council meeting set to debate possible intervention in Syria, there was a terrible massacre of over 100 villagers at Houla. Western governments immediately blamed the Syrian Government, which in turn accused the foreign-backed terrorists. Western officials at first blamed Army shelling, changing their story when it was found most had died from close quarter injuries. One UN report (UNSMIS) was shelved while another (CoI), co-chaired by US diplomat Karen Koning AbuZayd, blamed un-named pro-government 'thugs'. No motive was given.

Although the Houla massacre did not result in a Libyan-styled intervention, because of opposition at the UN from Russia and China, controversy raged over the authors of this atrocity. German and Russian journalists, along with the Mother Superior of a Monastery, managed to interview survivors who said that a large Farouk battalion, led by Abdul Razzaq Tlass, had overwhelmed five small army posts and slaughtered the villagers. The gang had sought out pro-government and Alawi families, along with some Sunni families who had taken part in recent elections.

One year later a detailed, independent report (by Correggia, Embid, Hauben and Larson) documented how the second UN Houla investigation (the CoI) was tainted. Rather than visiting Syria they had relied on Farouk leaders and associates to link them to witnesses. They ignored another dozen direct witnesses who contradicted the 'rebel' story. In short, they tried to bury a real crime with identified perpetrators and a clear motive. As Adam Larson later wrote, the 'official' Houla massacre story was shown to be 'extremely ambiguous at best and at worst a fairly obvious crime of the US-supported Contras'.

Houla set the tone for a series of similar 'false flag' massacre claims. When 245 people were murdered in Daraya (August 2012), media reports citing 'opposition' activists' said that 'Assad's army has committed a massacre'. This was contradicted by British journalist Robert Fisk, who wrote that the FSA had slaughtered kidnapped civilian and off-duty soldier hostages, after a failed attempt to swap them for prisoners held by the army. Similarly, when 120 villagers were slaughtered at Aqrab (December 2013) the New York Times headline read 'Members of Assad's Sect Blamed in Syria Killings'. In fact, as British journalist Alex Thompson discovered, it was the victims who were from the President's Alawi community. Five hundred Alawis had been held by FSA groups for nine days before the fleeing gangs murdered a quarter of them. Yet, without close examination, each accusation seemed to add to the crimes of the Syrian Army, at least to those outside Syria.

Another line of attack was that there had been 'indiscriminate' bombing of rebel held areas, resulting in civilian casualties. The relevant question was, how did they dislodge armed groups from urban centres? Those interested can see some detail of this in the liberation of Qusayr, a town near the Lebanese border which had been occupied by Farouk and other salafi groups, including foreigners. The Army carried out 'surgical attacks' but, in May 2013, after the failure of negotiations, decided on all-out assault. They dropped leaflets from planes, calling on civilians to evacuate. Anti-government groups were said to have stopped many from leaving, while an 'activist' spokesman claimed there was 'no safe exit for civilians'. In opportunistic criticism, the US State Department expressed 'deep concern' over the leafleting, claiming that 'ordering the displacement of the civilian population' showed 'the regime's ongoing brutality'.

As it happened, on June 5 the Army backed by Hezbollah, liberated Qusayr, driving the remnants of Farouk FSA and their al Qaeda partners into Lebanon. This operation, in principle at least, was what one would have expected of any army facing terrorist groups embedded in civilian areas. At this point the war began turning decisively in Syria's favour.

Accusations of 'indiscriminate bombing' recur. In opportunist questioning, more than a year later, British journalist John Snow demanded of Syrian Presidential adviser Dr Bouthaina Shaaban why the Syrian Army had not driven ISIS from Aleppo? A few questions later he attacked the Army for its 'indiscriminate' bombing of that same city. The fact is, most urban fighting in Syria is by troops on the ground.

The most highly politicised atrocity was the chemical attack of August 2013, in the Eastern Ghouta region, just outside Damascus. The Syrian Government had for months been complaining about terrorist gas attacks and had invited UN inspectors to Damascus. As these inspectors arrived 'rebel' groups, posted videos on dead children online, blaming the Syrian Government for a new massacre. The US government and the Washington based Human Rights Watch group were quick to agree. The UN investigation of Islamist chemical attacks was shelved and attention moved to the gassed children. The western media demanded military intervention. A major escalation of the war was only defused by Russian intervention and a proposal that Syria hand over its chemical weapons stockpile; a stockpile it maintained had never been used.

Saturation reporting of the East Ghouta incident led many western journalists to believe that the charges against the Syrian Government were proven. To the contrary, those claims were systematically demolished by a series of independent reports. Very soon after, a Jordan-based journalist reported that residents in the East Ghouta area blamed 'Saudi Prince Bandar ... of providing chemical weapons to an al-Qaeda linked rebel group'. Next, a Syrian group, led by Mother Agnes Mariam, provided a detailed examination of the video evidence, saying the massacre videos preceded the attack and used 'staged' and 'fake' images. Detailed reports also came from outside Syria. Veteran US journalist Seymour Hersh wrote that US intelligence evidence had been fabricated and 'cherry picked ... to justify a strike against Assad'. A Turkish lawyers and writers group said 'most of the crimes' against Syrian civilians, including the East Ghouta attack, were committed by 'armed rebel forces in Syria'. The Saudi backed FSA group Liwa al Islam was most likely responsible for the chemical attack on Ghouta. A subsequent UN report did not allocate blame but confirmed that chemical weapons had been used on at least five occasions in Syria. On three occasions they were used 'against soldiers and civilians'. The clear implication was that these were anti-government attacks by rebels. MIT investigators Lloyd and Postol concluded that the Sarin gas 'could not possibly have been fired ... from Syrian Government controlled area'.

Despite the definitive nature of these reports, combined, neither the US Government nor Human Rights Watch have retracted or apologised for their false accusations. Indeed, western government and media reports repeat the claims as though they were fact, even falsely enlisting UN reports, at times, as corroboration.


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When I met President Assad, with a group of Australians, his manner was entirely consistent with the pre-2011 image of the mild-mannered eye doctor. He expressed deep concern with the impact on children of witnessing terrorist atrocities while fanatics shout 'God is Great'. The man is certainly no brute, in the manner of Saddam Hussein or George W. Bush.

The key factor in Syria's survival has been the cohesion, dedication and popular support for the Army. Syrians know that their Army represents pluralist Syria and has been fighting sectarian, foreign backed terrorism. This Army did not fracture on sectarian lines, as the Takfiris had hoped, and defections have been small, certainly less than 2%.

Has the Army committed abuses? Probably, but mainly against the armed groups. There is some evidence of execution of foreign terrorists. That is certainly a crime, but probably has a fair degree of popular support in Syria, at the moment. The main constraint on such abuses seems to be the army order from 'Mr Soft Heart', to save the lives of Syrian rebels.

However, despite the repeated claims by sectarian Islamists and their western backers, there is no convincing evidence that the Syrian Army has deliberately bombed and gassed civilians. Nor would there be a motive for it. Nor does the behaviour of people on the streets support it. Most Syrians do not blame their army for the horrendous violence of this war, but rather the foreign backed terrorists.

These are the same terrorists backed by the governments of the USA, Britain and France, hiding behind the fig-leaf of the mythical 'moderate rebel' while reciting their catalogue of fabricated accusations.

The high participation rate (73%) in June's presidential elections, despite the war, was at least as significant as the strong vote (88%) Bashar received. Even the BBC could not hide the large crowds that came out to vote, especially those that mobbed the Syrian Embassy in Beirut.

Participation rates are nowhere as near in the US; indeed no western leader can claim such a strong democratic mandate as this 'dictator'. The size of Bashar's win underlines a stark reality: there never was a popular uprising against this man; and his popularity has grown.


30.09.2014
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About the Author
Tim Anderson is a Senior Lecturer in Political Economy at the University of Sydney. He has researched the Syrian conflict since 2011 and visited Syria in December 2013.
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The Real Reason We Are Bombing Syria

23 Sep 2014 - Dennis J. Kucinich [Former 16-year member of the U.S. Congress and two-time U.S. presidential candidate]

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The administration's response to the conjunction of this weekend's People's Climate March and the International Day of Peace?

1) Bomb Syria the following day, to wrest control of the oil from ISIS which gained its foothold directly in the region through the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Jordan funding and arming ISIS' predecessors in Syria.

2) Send the president to UN General Assembly, where he will inevitably give a rousing speech about climate and peace, while the destruction of the environment and the shattering of world peace is on full display 5,000 miles away.

Nothing better illustrates the bankruptcy of the Obama administration's foreign policy than funding groups that turn on the U.S. again and again, a neo-con fueled cycle of profits for war makers and destruction of ever-shifting "enemies."

The fact can't be refuted: ISIS was born of Western intervention in Iraq and covert action in Syria.

This Frankenstein-like experiment of arming the alleged freedom-seeking Syrian opposition created the monster that roams the region. ISIS and the U.S. have a curious relationship -- mortal enemies that, at the same time, benefit from some of the same events:

a) Ousting former Iraqi President Nouri al Maliki for his refusal to consent to the continued presence of U.S. troops in his country.

b) Regime change in Syria.

c) Arming the Kurds so they can separate from Iraq, a preliminary move to partitioning Iraq.

What a coincidence for war-profiteering neo-cons and the war industry, which has seen its stock rise since last week's congressional vote to fund the rapid expansion of war. We have met the enemy and he isn't only ISIS, he is us.

Phase two of the war against Syria is the introduction of 5,000 "moderate" mercenaries (as opposed to immoderate ones), who were trained in Saudi Arabia, the hotbed of Wahhabism, at an initial installment cost of $15 billion. These new "moderates" will replace the old "moderates," who became ISIS, just in time for Halloween.

The administration, in the belief that you can buy, rent, or lease friends where they otherwise do not exist, labor under the vain assumption that our newfound comrades-in-arms will remain in place during their three-year employment period, ignoring the inevitability that those "friends" you hire today could be firing at you tomorrow.

One wonders if Saudi training of these moderate mercenaries will include methods of beheading which were popularized by the Saudi government long before their ISIS progeny took up the grisly practice.

The U.S. is being played.

Qatar and Saudi Arabia can now overtly join with the U.S. in striking Syria, after they have been covertly attempting for years to take down the last secular state in the region. We are now advancing the agenda of the actual Islamic States -- Saudi Arabia and Qatar -- to fight the ersatz Islamic State of ISIS.

Now U.S. bombs and missiles might inadvertently "make the world safe" for theocracy rather than democracy. Today we read reports that Israel has shot down a Syrian warplane, indicating the terrible possibility of a wider regional conflict.

What does this have to do with the security of the 50 States United? Nothing!

Last week Congress acted prematurely in funding a war without following the proscriptions of Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. (The day of the vote, I urged Congress to resist this dangerous and misguided legislation.) But even while the funding was given, the explicit authorization to go to war was not. To authorize a war, Congress must vote for war. It has not done that yet.

To sell its case, the administration is borrowing from the fear mongering tactics of the Bush administration. ISIS poses no direct, immediate threat to the United States --The White House even said so yesterday, just hours before bombing commenced - yet we are being sold make-believe about ISIS sleeper cells.

This attack on Syria, under the guise of striking ISIS, is by definition, a war of aggression. It is a violation of international law. It could lead to crimes against humanity and the deaths of untold numbers of innocent civilians. No amount of public relations or smooth talking can change that.

And yes, members of this Democratic administration, including the president who executed this policy, must be held accountable by the International Criminal Court and by the American people, who he serves.

But as we know, war is a powerful and cynical PR tactic. I expect the bombing of Syria will momentarily boost the White House's popularity with self-serving heroic accounts of damage inflicted upon ISIS (and the U.S. equipment they use). Stuffing the November ballot box with bombs and missiles may even help the Democratic Party retain the Senate.

But after the election the voters will discover that the president played into the hands of extremists, hurt civilians, and embroiled our country deep into another conflict in the Middle East.

There were alternatives. The U.S. and the international community could have contained and shrunk ISIS by cutting off its funds and its revenue from sale of oil on the black market. We could have looked to strike a deal with Syria and Iran.

In foreign policy, the administration has failed. Congress has failed. Both the Democratic and Republican Parties have passed the national checkbook to their patrons in the war contracting business. And passed the bill to future generations.

The American people, who in 2008 searched for something redemptive after years of George W. Bush's war, realize in 2014 that hope and change was but a clever slogan. It was used to gain power and to keep it through promoting fear, war, the growth of the National Security state, and an autumnal bonfire of countless billions of tax dollars which fall like leaves from money trees on the banks of the Potomac.

Follow Dennis J. Kucinich on Twitter:www.twitter.com/Dennis_Kucinich

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Libya 2.0? US Says 'No-Fly Zone' Over Syria A Possibility

Saturday, September 27, 2014
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By Brandon Turbeville | Activist Post

In what is more proof that the NATO operation against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is merely Libya 2.0, the Obama administration is now stating that it is open to the possibility of establishing a “no-fly zone” over Syria.

The statements, made by both Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and General Martin E. Dempsey, are supposed to hinge upon an agreement with Turkey, that is itself calling for a “buffer zone,” one of the wishes of NATO since the very beginning of the Syrian crisis.

According to the New York Times , Hagel stated that “We’ve discussed all these possibilities and will continue to talk about what the Turks believe they will require.”

Dempsey added that “a buffer zone might at some point become a possibility” although he also stated that it should not be considered imminent.

A “buffer zone” and/or a “no-fly zone,” of course, is tantamount to war and an open military assault against the sovereign secular government of Syria since the implementation of such a zone would require airstrikes against Assad’s air defense systems.

Turkey is now whining and groaning over an influx of Syrian refugees as a result of a humanitarian crisis that it helped create with its support and facilitation of Islamic fundamentalist death squad forces funded by the West and allowed to travel into Syria through Turkey’s borders. The most recent influx of refugees came from the city of Kobani, where ISIS fighters were herded by American airstrikes for the purposes of reinforcing the fighters already battling Kurdish and Syrian forces there.

Keep in mind that with the terrorists evacuating Deir al-Zor, cities and towns such as Kobani (Ayn El Arab) have seen a dramatic rise in the presence of IS fighters. In short, IS may have reduced the amount of fighters in Deir al-Zor but it reinforced its positions at Ayn El Arab, a smaller town but one located on the Turkish border. Significantly, the Turkish border has facilitated tens of thousands of death squad fighters in their access to Syria over the last four years making it a main artery for the influx of Western-backed foreign jihadis into Syria.

The Huffington Post reported the situation in Ayn El Arab by recording the statement of a Syrian Kurd who had fled into Turkey with his family to escape IS. The report is revealing as to how the situation in Ayn El Arab disintegrated after the bombing of Deir al-Zor and the “escape” of terrorists from that city and region. The article reads, 

"Because of the bombing in Raqqa, Islamic State has taken all of their weapons and brought them here. There are more and more Islamic State fighters in the last two days, they have brought all their forces here," said Ahmed Hassan, 60, a Syrian Kurd who fled to Turkey with his family.
"They have heavy weapons. We are running away from them. YPG haven't got heavy weapons. That's why we need help," he said, referring to the main Kurdish armed group.Thus, the new assault on Ayn El Arab might very well be an attempt to re-secure and reopen the Turkish/Syrian border so as to allow even greater numbers of IS fighters and military equipment to flood into Syria. 

In order for NATO forces to effectively remove Assad, who has proven a major hurdle for the Anglo-American establishment in its efforts to overthrow him and further their geopolitical goals of weakening Russia’s strategic position and influence , NATO forces absolutely must eliminate his air defenses. However, even the United States has admitted that doing so is risky business.

For that reason, the West used its ISIS proxy forces to destroy the Taqba air base in eastern Syria so as to open up half of the country to US military assault.

For those who may not see the pattern – while the United States and NATO deliberated engaging in targeted airstrikes in Syria and the Syrian government subsequently states its opposition to those attacks and its intentions to shoot down the planes delivering those strikes if they did not coordinate with the Syrian government, death squad have effectively eliminated the air defense capability of the Syrian government in the east of the country.

After all, the Pentagon even stated that one of the biggest threats to an airstrike operation in Syria is the Syrian government’s air defenses. Thanks to ISIS, those air defenses no longer exist in the east of Syria.

This was the end game of the ISIS battle to take over Taqba from the start – eliminate air defenses so that the NATO powers can launch airstrikes against the Syrian military and thus freeing up a launching pad for the terrorists to conduct attacks even deeper into Syria.

Even the airstrikes taking place currently under the guise of eliminating ISIS have a much darker motive. Although it is true that ISIS/ “moderate death squads” had seized control over the oil refineries in Eastern Syria and were using them for their own strategic purposes ( with the help of NATO command ), it is also true that, in a large portion of these areas, the SAA (Syrian Arab Army) was poised to retake control. 

This is particularly the case in Dayr el Zor, where the SAA had recently launched a major offensive against the death squads causing ISIS fighters trapped by aerial bombardment and escape routes cut off by the SAA . In other words, the death squads were trapped in Dayr el Zor, the city was weeks away from being liberated, and the surrounding areas were set to be reconquered by the SAA. This, of course, would have led directly to the retaking of the oil refineries by the Syrian government. Unfortunately, that opportunity has now been lost as a result of the U.S. airstrikes which destroyed the refinery infrastructure. 

It should also be remembered that most of the death squads fled these areas after being given forewarning of a series of imminent American airstrikes, thus causing the civilian casualties to be higher in number than those of the ISIS fighters the strikes were allegedly targeting. Indeed, many of these fighters have appeared in Northern Syria on the Syria/Turkey border reinforcing other death squad battalions in efforts to reopen supply lines from Turkey. 

Similar situations are found in the other locations mentioned as targets of U.S. airstrikes such as al-Hasakah where the SAA had made significant gains alongside Kurdish forces. 

Thus, as SAA forces moved in to retake control of the oil refineries managed by terrorists funded by Western powers, the United States initiated airstrikes just in the nick of time to deprive SAA forces of the opportunity to seize some of the oil refinery infrastructure it desperately needs. 

It is also important to note that virtually none of the infrastructure being destroyed by the United States airstrikes was built by ISIS. It was built by the Syrian government. The reality of the bombing campaign is that the United States and its allies are destroying important regions of Syria and leaving nothing of real value for the Syrian military to retake after its long-fought battles against ISIS. 

Thus, headlines across the world should more accurately read “US Bombs Syrian Oil Refineries To Prevent Assad From Retaking Them.” 

Still, one should keep in mind that it is not only the oil refineries which are being targeted but
whole neighborhoods filled with civilians . One such neighborhood was the town of Kfar Daryan. 

It also goes some distance in aiding the future creation of a “buffer zone,” in Northern Syria, a wish of NATO since the beginning of the Syrian crisis.With the establishment of this “buffer zone,” a new staging ground will be opened that allows terrorists such as ISIS and others the ability to conduct attacks even deeper inside Syria.

Working together with its NATO/GCC allies as well as the ever-present provocateur Israel, the United States is helping to create a buffer zone in the North and East of Syria while continuing to facilitate the opening of a "third front" on the Syrian border with Israel. 

Such a strategy was discussed in 2012 by the Brookings Institution in its publication " Assessing Options For Regime Change ," where it stated

An alternative is for diplomatic efforts to focus first on how to end the violence and how to gain humanitarian access, as is being done under Annan’s leadership. This may lead to the creation of safe-havens and humanitarian corridors, which would have to be backed by limited military power. This would, of course, fall short of U.S. goals for Syria and could preserve Asad in power. From that starting point, however, it is possible that a broad coalition with the appropriate international mandate could add further coercive action to its efforts.
[...]
In addition, Israel’s intelligence services have a strong knowledge of Syria, as well as assets within the Syrian regime that could be used to subvert the regime’s power base and press for Asad’s removal. Israel could posture forces on or near the Golan Heights and, in so doing, might divert regime forces from suppressing the opposition. This posture may conjure fears in the Asad regime of a multi-front war, particularly if Turkey is willing to do the same on its border and if the Syrian opposition is being fed a steady diet of arms and training. Such a mobilization could perhaps persuade Syria’s military leadership to oust Asad in order to preserve itself. Advocates argue this additional pressure could tip the balance against Asad inside Syria, if other forces were aligned properly.

At the end of the day, it is important to remember that the U.S. airstrikes and its attempts to create a “buffer zone” inside Syria are nothing more than a farce. The death squads running amok in Syria are themselves entirely creatures of NATO and they remain under NATO’s command. The true enemy of ISIS, Khorasan, and the cannibals of the Levant has always been and continues to be Bashar al-Assad.

For those of us who have tried to warn of and prevent a direct military intervention in Syria, we must now continue to keep the Syrian people in our thoughts and prayers.

But we must also keep the United States in those thoughts and prayers. Like in Libya, for what is being done in our name, we are earning some terrible karmic consequences.

The United States has sown some very bitter seeds in recent years. Unfortunately, there will be a day when we all are forced to reap the bitter harvest.


Syria: The hidden massacre


Sharmine Narwani is a commentator and analyst of Middle East geopolitics. She tweets @snarwani










(First Published : May 07, 2014 at the Source stated below)

A picture shows courthouse that was torched a day earlier by angry protesters in the southern town of Daraa, 100 kms (60 miles) south of Damascus, on March 21, 2011 following a demonstration demanding "freedom" and an end to 48 years of emergency laws in Syria under President Bashar al-Assad and his father Hafez. (AFP Photo / Louai Beshara)

The attack took place shortly after the first stirrings of trouble in the southern Syrian city of Daraa in March 2011.

Several old Russian-made military trucks packed with Syrian security forces rolled onto a hard slope on a valley road between Daraa al-Mahata and Daraa al-Balad. Unbeknown to the passengers, the sloping road was slick with oil poured by gunmen waiting to ambush the troops.

Brakes were pumped as the trucks slid into each other, but the shooting started even before the vehicles managed to roll to a stop. According to several different opposition sources, up to 60 Syrian security forces were killed that day in a massacre that has been hidden by both the Syrian government and residents of Daraa.

One Daraa native explains: “At that time, the government did not want to show they are weak and the opposition did not want to show they are armed.”

Beyond that, the details are sketchy. Nizar Nayouf, a longtime Syria dissident and blogger who wrote about the killings, says the massacre took place in the final week of March 2011.

A source who was in Daraa at the time, places the attack before the second week of April.

Rami Abdul Rahman, an anti-government activist who heads up the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), the most quoted Western media source on Syrian casualties, tells me: “It was on the first of April and about 18 or 19 security forces – or “mukhabarat” – were killed.”

Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Dr. Faisal Mekdad is a rare government official familiar with the incident. Mekdad studied in Daraa, is from a town 35 kilometers to the east called Ghasson, and made several official visits to Daraa during the early days of the crisis. The version he tells me is similar, down to the details of where the ambush took place – and how. Mekdad, however, believes that around 24 Syrian army soldiers were shot that day.

Why would the Syrian government hide this information, when it would bolster their narrative of events – namely that “armed groups” were targeting authorities from the start, and that the uprising was not all “peaceful”?

In Mekdad’s view, “this incident was hidden by the government and by the security for reasons I can interpret as an attempt not to antagonize or not to raise emotions and to calm things down – not to encourage any attempt to inflame emotions which may lead to escalation of the situation – which at that time was not the policy.”

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A picture taken by a mobile phone shows Syrian anti-government protesters taking part in a demonstration in Banias in northeastern Syria on April 22, 2011 as calls were launched for nationwide "Good Friday" rallies, a day after President Bashar al-Assad scrapped decades of draconian emergency rule. (AFP Photo)

April 2011: The killing of soldiers

What we do know for certain is that on April 25, 2011, nineteen Syrian soldiers were gunned down in Daraa by unknown assailants. The names, ages, dates of birth and death, place of birth and death and marital/parental status of these 19 soldiers are documented in a list of military casualties obtained from Syria’s Defense Ministry.

The list was corroborated by another document – given to me by a non-government acquaintance involved in peace efforts – that details 2011 security casualties. All 19 names were verified by this second list.

Were these the soldiers of the “Daraa massacre?” April 25 is later than the dates suggested by multiple sources – and these 19 deaths were not exactly “hidden.”

But even more startling than actually finding the 19 Daraa soldiers on a list, was the discovery that in April 2011, eighty-eight soldiers were killed by unknown shooters in different areas across Syria.

Keep in mind that the Syrian army was mostly not in the field that early on in the conflict. Other security forces like police and intelligence groups were on the front lines then – and they are not included in this death toll.

The first Syrian soldiers to be killed in the conflict, Sa’er Yahya Merhej and Habeel Anis Dayoub, were killed on March 23 in Daraa.

Two days after those first military casualties, Ala’a Nafez Salman was gunned down in Latakia.

On April 9, Ayham Mohammad Ghazali was shot dead in Douma, south of Damascus. The first soldier killing in Homs Province – in Teldo – was on April 10 when Eissa Shaaban Fayyad was shot.

April 10 was also the day when we learned of the first massacre of Syrian soldiers – in Banyas, Tartous – when nine troops were ambushed and gunned down on a passing bus. The BBC, Al Jazeera and the Guardian all initially quoted witnesses claiming the dead soldiers were “defectors” shot by the Syrian army for refusing to fire on civilians.



A protester in the flahspoint central Syrian city of Homs throws a tear gas bomb back towards security forces, on December 27, 2011. (AFP photo)

That narrative was debunked later, but the story that soldiers were being killed by their own commanders stuck hard throughout 2011 – and gave the media an excuse to ignore stories that security forces were being targeted by armed groups.

The SOHR’s Rami Abdul Rahman says of the “defector” storyline: “This game of saying the army is killing defectors for leaving – I never accepted this because it is propaganda.” It is likely that this narrative was used early on by opposition activists to encourage divisions and defections among the armed forces. If military commanders were shooting their own men, you can be certain the Syrian army would not have remained intact and united three years on.

After the Banyas slayings, soldier deaths in April continued to pop up in different parts of the country – Moadamiyah, Idlib, Harasta, al-Masmiyah (near Suweida), Talkalakh and the suburbs of Damascus.

But on April 23, seven soldiers were slaughtered in Nawa, a town near Daraa. Those killings did not make the headlines like the one in Banyas. Notably, the incident took place right after the Syrian government tried to defuse tensions by abolishing the state security courts, lifting the state of emergency, granting general amnesties and recognizing the right to peaceful protest.

Two days later, on April 25 – Easter Monday – Syrian troops finally moved into Daraa. In what became the scene of the second mass slaying of soldiers since the weekend, 19 soldiers were shot dead that day.

This information also never made it to the headlines.

Instead, all we ever heard was about the mass killing of civilians by security forces: “The dictator slaughtering his own people.” But three years into the Syrian crisis, can we say that things may have taken a different turn if we had access to more information? Or if media had simply provided equal air-time to the different, contesting testimonies that were available to us?

Facts versus fiction

A report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) relies entirely on 50 unnamed activists, witnesses and“defected soldiers” to set the scene for what was taking place in Daraa around that time.

HRW witnesses provided accounts of “security forces using lethal force against protesters during demonstrations” and “funeral processions.” In some cases, says HRW, “security forces first used teargas or fired in the air, but when the protesters refused to disperse, they fired live ammunition from automatic weapons into the crowds…From the end of March witnesses consistently reported the presence of snipers on government buildings near the protests who targeted and killed many of the protesters.”

The HRW report also states: “Syrian authorities repeatedly claimed that the violence in Daraa was perpetrated by armed terrorist gangs, incited and sponsored from abroad.”

Today we know that this statement is fairly representative of a large segment of Islamist militants inside Syria, but was it true in Daraa in early 2011 as well?

There are some things we know as fact. For instance, we have visual evidence of armed men crossing the Lebanese border into Syria during April and May 2011, according to video footage and testimony from former Al Jazeera reporter Ali Hashem, whose video was censored by his network.



Lebanese army troops deploy in Wadi Khaled on Lebanon's northern border with Syria on May 20, 2011. (AFP Photo / Joseph Eid)

There are other things we are still only now discovering. For instance, the HRW report also claims that Syrian security forces in Daraa “desecrated (mosques) by scrawling graffiti on the walls” such as “Your god is Bashar, there is no god but Bashar” – in reference to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Just recently a Tunisian jihadist who goes by the name Abu Qusay, told Tunisian television that his“task” in Syria was to destroy and desecrate mosques with Sunni names (Abu Bakr mosque, Othman mosque, etc) in false-flag sectarian attacks to encourage defection by Syrian soldiers, the majority of whom are Sunni. One of the things he did was scrawling pro-government and blasphemous slogans on mosque walls like “Only God, Syria and Bashar.” It was a “tactic” he says, to get the soldiers to “come on our side” so that the army “can become weak.”

Had the Syrian government been overthrown quickly – as in Tunisia and Egypt – perhaps we would not have learned about these acts of duplicity. But three years into this conflict, it is time to establish facts versus fiction.

A member of the large Hariri family in Daraa, who was there in March and April 2011, says people are confused and that many “loyalties have changed two or three times from March 2011 till now. They were originally all with the government. Then suddenly changed against the government – but now I think maybe 50% or more came back to the Syrian regime.”

The province was largely pro-government before things kicked off. According to the UAE paper The National, “Daraa had long had a reputation as being solidly pro-Assad, with many regime figures recruited from the area.”

But as Hariri explains it, “there were two opinions” in Daraa. “One was that the regime is shooting more people to stop them and warn them to finish their protests and stop gathering. The other opinion was that hidden militias want this to continue, because if there are no funerals, there is no reason for people to gather.”

“At the beginning 99.9 percent of them were saying all shooting is by the government. But slowly, slowly this idea began to change in their mind – there are some hidden parties, but they don’t know what,” says Hariri, whose parents remain in Daraa.

HRW admits “that protesters had killed members of security forces” but caveats it by saying they “only used violence against the security forces and destroyed government property in response to killings by the security forces or…to secure the release of wounded demonstrators captured by the security forces and believed to be at risk of further harm.”

We know that this is not true – the April 10 shootings of the nine soldiers on a bus in Banyas was an unprovoked ambush. So, for instance, was the killing of General Abdo Khodr al-Tallawi, killed alongside his two sons and a nephew in Homs on April 17. That same day in the pro-government al-Zahra neighborhood in Homs, off-duty Syrian army commander Iyad Kamel Harfoush was gunned down when he went outside his home to investigate gunshots. Two days later, Hama-born off-duty Colonel Mohammad Abdo Khadour was killed in his car. And all of this only in the first month of unrest.

In 2012, HRW’s Syria researcher Ole Solvag told me that he had documented violence “against captured soldiers and civilians” and that “there were sometimes weapons in the crowds and some demonstrators opened fire against government forces.”

But was it because the protestors were genuinely aggrieved with violence directed at them by security forces? Or were they “armed gangs” as the Syrian government claims? Or – were there provocateurs shooting at one or both sides?

Provocateurs in “Revolutions”

Syrian-based Father Frans van der Lugt was the Dutch priest murdered by a gunman in Homs just a few weeks ago. His involvement in reconciliation and peace activities never stopped him from lobbing criticisms at both sides in this conflict. But in the first year of the crisis, he penned some remarkable observations about the violence – this one in January 2012:

“From the start the protest movements were not purely peaceful. From the start I saw armed demonstrators marching along in the protests, who began to shoot at the police first. Very often the violence of the security forces has been a reaction to the brutal violence of the armed rebels.”

In September 2011 he wrote: “From the start there has been the problem of the armed groups, which are also part of the opposition…The opposition of the street is much stronger than any other opposition. And this opposition is armed and frequently employs brutality and violence, only in order then to blame the government.”

Certainly, by June 5, there was no longer any ability for opposition groups to pretend otherwise. In a coordinated attack in Jisr Shughur in Idlib, armed groups killed 149 members of the security forces, according to the SOHR.

But in March and April, when violence and casualties were still new to the country, the question remains: Why would the Syrian government – against all logic – kill vulnerable civilian populations in“hot” areas, while simultaneously taking reform steps to quell tensions?

Who would gain from killing “women and children” in those circumstances? Not the government, surely?



Syrian security men react after a security base was targeted by a suicide attack in Damascus on December 23, 2011. (AFP Photo / Louai Beshara)

Discussion about the role of provocateurs in stirring up conflict has made some headlines since Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet’sleaked phone conversation with the EU’s Catherine Ashton disclosed suspicions that pro-west snipers had killed both Ukranian security forces and civilians during the Euromaidan protests.

Says Paet: “All the evidence shows that people who were killed by snipers from both sides, among policemen and people from the streets, that they were the same snipers killing people from both sides…and it’s really disturbing that now the new (pro-western) coalition, they don’t want to investigate what exactly happened.”

A recent German TV investigation the sniper shootings confirms much about these allegations, and has opened the door to contesting versions of events in Ukraine that did not exist for most of the Syrian conflict – at least not in the media or in international forums.

Instead of writing these things off as “conspiracy theories,” the role of provocateurs against targeted governments suddenly appears to have emerged in the mainstream discourse. Whether it is the US’s leaked plan to create a “Cuban twitter” to stir unrest in the island nation – or – the emergence of“instructional”leaflets in protests from Egypt to Syria to Libya to Ukraine, the convergence of just one-too-many “lookalike” mass protest movements that turn violent has people asking questions and digging deeper today.

Since early 2011 alone, we have heard allegations of “unknown” snipers targeting crowds and security forces in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria and Ukraine. What could be more effective at turning populations against authority than the unprovoked killing of unarmed innocents? By the same token, what could better ensure a reaction from the security forces of any nation than the gunning down of one or more of their own?

By early 2012, the UN claimed there were over 5,000 casualties in Syria – without specifying whether these were civilians, rebel fighters or government security forces. According to government lists presented to and published by the UN’s Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, in the first year of conflict, the death toll for Syrian police forces was 478, and 2,091 for military and security force casualties.

Those numbers suggest a remarkable parity in deaths between both sides in the conflict, right from the start. It also suggests that at least part of the Syrian “opposition” was from the earliest days, armed, organized, and targeting security forces as a matter of strategy – in all likelihood, to elicit a response that would ensure continued escalation.

Today, although Syrian military sources strongly refute these numbers, the SOHR claims there are more than 60,000 casualties from the country’s security forces and pro-government militias. These are men who come from all parts of the nation, from all religions and denominations and from all communities. Their deaths have left no family untouched and explain a great deal about the Syrian government’s actions and responses throughout this crisis.

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Obama's speech in UN assembly: a scandal!




Christoph Hörstel  -  25 September 2014


The US president and premature Nobel peace prize laureate Barack Obama, threatens to turn into an unguided missile these days.

Shortly after starting an undeclared war on the territory of two nations, Iraq and Syria, against a multiethnic foreign-sponsored terror group named IS, ISIL or ISIS, which the US themselves had inaugurated two years ago, Obama has envisioned a new priority list of dangers for the world:

1. Ebola
2. Russia
3. IS, ISIL, ISIS
... in this order.

The problem is not only, that Obama knows best, who started the aggression in Europe against Russia, misusing Ukraine, staging two coups d'détat within ten years in that mismanaged, downtrodden country - if we just do not look further back to the Balkans and what happened with Kosovo.

The problem is not, that the aggression continues to this day and is now endangering the region by way of misfeeding US-made nuclear material, which provenly does not fit, into Ukrainian nuclear reactors.

The problem is, that the UN general assembly seems to be inclined by a vast majority, to grant the US administration a kind of aftermath indirect approval to this adventurous foreign policy stunt in Iraq and Syria - adding to this unhappy feat by not informing large parts of their populations about the dangerous implications of what Obama's speech hints at:

That the US and yet another coalition of "coerced willing" could use the Middle East precedence to start military trouble in the Crimea: since Russia was named the second biggest danger - and the accusation went through largely undisputed in the general assembly.

The anxious question comes up: What has Obama planned for - or better: against Russia? Answer: nothing good and constructive for the well-being of all involved people.

What makes things even worse: In Germany and France only part of the big corporate and public media reported on Obama's foreign policy "false flag accusation". Many of these mishap citizens do not get to know at all, to what extent the US president is preparing military adventures and spoiling the European community's peaceful and constructive co-existence for them: Spiegel online and Süddeutsche Zeitung failed to mention Obama's verbal attack against Russia this morning at all.
Next question being: Who stops Obama and the US from disturbing Europe's still largely intact peace? Single correct answer: nobody but the target itself: Russia.

All five legs of US aggressive policy-shaping: secret service action, media propaganda, civil organizations/NGOs, military moves and official policy are already moving in the new direction to make Europe and Russia the next big target. The global corporate financial mafia AND the global corporate energy mafia are already gearing up for the struggle for the next multiple nugget on the agenda: Russia.

Third question: Who would then be their cannon fodder, should the true power holders push Obama to proceed? Clearcut answer: the European "allies".
Already now our European economic well-being in trade and energy supply security are being severely challenged.

It is certainly good and helpful, that Russia prepares itself militarily to face the worst. But it would serve the endangered case of peace and co-operation in Europe and elsewhere even better, if Russia could NOW start building stronger civilian and media options for the actual stage BEFORE military logics take over.

And the above-mentioned challenge of the five-legged, smoothly humming machine of US "full spectrum dominance" is still awaiting a multinational answer, not only from BRICS and SCO, but ALBA and OAU as well.

Meanwhile I may softly propose a different, single-point  eorder for the dangers facing this world, in just three letters: U-S-A.

SOURCE | Christoph Hörstel 

Clashing Goals in Syria Strikes Bedevil Obama

By BEN HUBBARD and ANNE BARNARD | SEPT. 25, 2014

BEIRUT, Lebanon — President Obama said the American-led airstrikes in Syria were intended to punish the terror organizations that threatened the United States — but would do nothing to aid President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, who is at war with the same groups.

But on the third day of strikes, it was increasingly uncertain whether the United States could maintain that delicate balance.

A Syrian diplomat crowed to a pro-government newspaper that “the U.S. military leadership is now fighting in the same trenches with the Syrian generals, in a war on terrorism inside Syria.” And in New York, the new Iraqi prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, said in an interview that he had delivered a private message to Mr. Assad on behalf of Washington, reassuring him that the Syrian government was not the target of American-led airstrikes.

The confident statements by Syrian leaders and their allies showed how difficult it already is for Mr. Obama to go after terrorists operating out of Syria without getting dragged more deeply into that nation’s three-and-a-half-year-old civil war. Indeed, the American strikes have provided some political cover for Mr. Assad, as pro-government Syrians have become increasingly, even publicly, angry at his inability to defeat the militants.
On the other side, Mr. Obama’s Persian Gulf allies, whom he has pointed to as crucial to the credibility of the air campaign, have expressed displeasure with the United States’ reluctance to go after Mr. Assad directly. For years, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have pressed Washington to join the fight to oust the Syrian president.

And for years, the United States has demurred.

“We need to create an army to fight the terrorists, but we also have to fight the regime,” Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, emir of Qatar, said Thursday in an interview with New York Times editors. “We have to do both.”

Mr. Obama told the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday that the United States would work with its allies to roll back the Islamic State through military action and support for moderate rebels. But he added, “The only lasting solution to Syria’s civil war is political: an inclusive political transition that responds to the legitimate aspirations of all Syrian citizens, regardless of ethnicity, regardless of creed.”

Yet as the Syrian conflict transformed from peaceful, popular calls for change to a bloody unraveling of the nation, it also became a proxy battlefield for regional and global interests. Iran and Russia sided with Mr. Assad. Arab Gulf nations sided with the rebels, though not always with the same rebels. The United States called for Mr. Assad to go, but never fully engaged.

The rise of the Islamic State militant group, also known as ISIS, prompted Mr. Obama to jump in, but under the auspices of an antiterrorism campaign. The United States was not taking sides in the civil war, or at least it did not intend to. But the minute it entered the battlefield, it inevitably muddled its standing in Syria and across the Middle East, analysts and experts in the region said.

When American attacks, for example, killed militants with the Nusra Front, a group linked to Al Qaeda, it angered some of the same Syrian insurgents who Mr. Obama has said will help make up a ground force against the Islamic State.

Some of the groups that had said they would support the United States’ mission have now issued statements condemning the American strikes on the Qaeda-linked militants. Those groups have also expressed concern that by making the Islamic State its priority, the United States has acknowledged that it does not seek to unseat Mr. Assad.

Conversely, supporters of the Syrian government say hitting the Nusra Front is proof that the United States has switched sides.

“Of course coordination exists,” said a pro-government Syrian journalist speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, who had criticized the prospect of the strikes but turned practically jubilant once they began. “How else do you explain the strikes on Nusra?”

But the battle lines are not so clear-cut, as both sides try to spin the American involvement to their advantage, pressing Washington to shift even as Mr. Obama remains determined to stay his course. The Arab allies have, to Washington’s delight, made no effort to hide their involvement in the bombing raids. They have, in fact, even boasted of their roles.

Saudi Arabia has released “Top Gun”-style photos of its pilots posing with their jets, and the United Arab Emirates has bragged that one of its pilots is a woman. But the delight has as much to do with the countries’ hope that the United States will eventually come around to helping oust Mr. Assad as it does with aiding the United States in a fight against extremism, analysts said.

“The key gulf states agreed to the American request in a large part to try to steer America’s Syria policy after years of frustration,” said Emile Hokayem, a Middle East analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. “They believed that if they had said no to the Americans, the hope for a shift in U.S. policy toward Syria would be nil.”

Other commentators said gulf nations frustrated with Mr. Obama’s hesitancy had gladly joined in when his tone changed.

“Once there is a determined America and a determined President Obama, he will find a receptive ally in the region to work with him,” said Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a political analyst in the United Arab Emirates.

At the same time, these Arab partners see that the United States is once again depending on regional strongmen and monarchs with absolute authority to pursue its interests in the region.

For a time, it appeared that Washington was moving away from that decades-old model toward supporting popular movements that sought to bring democracy and greater rights to the region. That infuriated Saudi Arabia and the other monarchies, but with the collapse of the Arab Spring and the rise of the Islamic State, the old alliances have been reinvigorated.

“We are back to the future,” said Salman Shaikh, the director of the Brookings Doha Center, a Qatar-based branch of the Brookings Institution. “After the rush of the Arab Spring, there is a realization that they are our real friends and allies in the region and in this fight.”

American officials have called the participation of five Arab countries — Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — in the Syria campaign essential to combating the perception that the United States is waging war on Muslims.

All five are hereditary monarchies that limit political participation and often face criticism from human rights groups for cracking down on dissidents.

Saudi Arabia, a Sunni powerhouse, has wielded its vast oil wealth to support the Egyptian military in its fight against the Muslim Brotherhood, funded rebels in Syria and deployed troops in 2011 to help the Sunni rulers of Bahrain put down a political uprising led by that nation’s Shiite majority.

The United Arab Emirates has also contributed to the regional battle against Islamists, most recently by teaming up with Egypt to bomb them in Libya. At home, it has rounded up Islamist activists and limited free speech.

Qatar, too, has bankrolled rebels in Syria, and in 2012 it sentenced a poet to life in prison for reciting a verse deemed insulting to the country’s ruler. Jordan also criminalizes criticism of the king and limits press freedoms.

Rights activists fear that these countries’ partnership with the United States will make it harder for the West to press them to make reforms.

“These are states with very problematic human rights records,” said Nicholas McGeehan, a Gulf researcher at Human Rights Watch. “This bonding together against a common enemy is understandable, but there will be implications for the human rights in these countries.”

The Arab allies worked to bolster their own global standing at the United Nations General Assembly this week, exposing the disagreements that have often kept them from acting together.

The king of Jordan cast himself as a staunch American ally and said Jordan would propose a Security Council resolution to make attacks on religious communities a crime against humanity.

Bahrain highlighted the problem of illicit financing for extremist groups from the region, in a clear dig at its neighbor Qatar.

But most of these countries stand together in supporting a leadership change in Syria, which the United States says is not its goal. And that stance from the United States has delighted pro-government Syrians.

“The Syrian Army will certainly benefit from the American airstrikes,” the unnamed diplomat told the pro-government Syrian newspaper Al Watan.

Reporting was contributed by Hwaida Saad and Mohammed Ghannam from Beirut, and Somini Sengupta and Michael R. Gordon from the United Nations.
A version of this article appears in print on September 26, 2014, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Clashing Goals in Syria Strikes Bedevil Obam
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SOURCE | http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/26/world/middleeast/clashing-goals-in-syria-strikes-put-us-in-fix.html

Neocons Revive Syria ‘Regime Change’ Plan



September 11, 2014

Exclusive: President Obama plans to violate international law by launching airstrikes inside Syria without that government’s consent, even though Syria might well give it. Is Obama playing into neocon hands by providing a new argument for “regime change” in Damascus, asks Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

Official Washington’s ever-influential neoconservatives and their “liberal interventionist” allies see President Barack Obama’s decision to extend U.S. airstrikes against Islamic State terrorists into Syria as a new chance to achieve the long-treasured neocon goal of “regime change” in Damascus.


On the surface, Obama’s extraordinary plan to ignore Syrian sovereignty and attack across the border has been viewed as a unilateral U.S. action to strike at the terrorist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), but it could easily evolve into a renewed effort to overthrow Bashar al-Assad’s government, ironically one of ISIS’s principal goals.

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden meet with members of the National Security Council in the Situation Room of the White House, Sept. 10, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

ISIS began as part of the Sunni resistance to George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq which had elevated Iraq’s Shiite majority to power. Then known as “al-Qaeda in Iraq,” the terrorist group stoked a sectarian war by slaughtering Shiites and bombing their mosques.

Changing its name to ISIS, the group shifted to Syria where it joined with U.S.-backed rebels seeking to overthrow Assad’s regime which was dominated by Alawites, a branch of Shiite Islam. Then, this summer, ISIS returned to Iraq where it routed Iraqi government forces in a series of battles and conducted public executions, including beheading two U.S. journalists.

In his national address Wednesday, Obama said he will order U.S. air attacks across Syria’s border without any coordination with the Syrian government, a proposition that Damascus has denounced as a violation of its sovereignty. Thus, the argument will surely soon be heard in Washington that Assad’s government must be removed as a military prerequisite so the attacks on ISIS can proceed. Otherwise, there could be a threat to U.S. aircraft from Syria’s air defenses.

That would get the neocons back on their original track of forcing “regime change” in countries seen as hostile to Israel. The first target was Iraq with Syria and Iran to follow. The goal was to deprive Israel’s close-in enemies, Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Palestine’s Hamas, of crucial support. The neocon vision got knocked off track when Bush’s Iraq War derailed and the American people balked at the idea of extending the conflict to Syria and Iran.

But the neocons never gave up on their vision. They simply kept at it, clinging to key positions inside Official Washington and recruiting “liberal interventionists” to the “regime change” cause. The neocons remained focused on Syria and Iran with hopes of getting U.S. bombing campaigns going against both countries. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Dangerous Neocon-R2P Alliance.”]

The neocons’ new hope has now arrived with the public outrage over ISIS’s atrocities. Yet, while pushing to get this new war going, the neocons have downplayed their “regime change” agenda, getting Obama to agree only to extend his anti-ISIS bombing campaign from Iraq into Syria. But “regime change” in Damascus has remained a top neocon priority.

In a New York Times op-ed on Aug. 29, neocon Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham avoided the “r-c” phrase couching their words about Syria’s civil war in the vague language of resolving the conflict, but clearly meaning that Assad must go.

The hawkish pair wrote that thwarting ISIS “requires an end to the [civil] conflict in Syria, and a political transition there, because the regime of President Bashar al-Assad will never be a reliable partner against ISIS; in fact, it has abetted the rise of ISIS, just as it facilitated the terrorism of ISIS’ predecessor, Al Qaeda in Iraq.”

Though the McCain-Graham depiction of Assad’s relationship to ISIS and al-Qaeda is a distortion at best – in fact, Assad’s army has been the most effective force in pushing back against the Sunni terrorist groups that have come to dominate the Western-backed rebel movement – the op-ed’s underlying point is obvious: an initial step in the U.S. military operation against ISIS must be “regime change” in Damascus.

Neocon Sleight-of-Hand

The neocons are also back to their old sleight-of-hand conflating the terrorists fighting the Assad government with the Assad government. In the op-ed, McCain and Graham cite Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson supposedly calling “Syria ‘a matter of homeland security’” – when he actually said in the linked speech from last February:

“We are very focused on foreign fighters heading to Syria. Based on our work and the work of our international partners, we know individuals from the U.S., Canada and Europe are traveling to Syria to fight in the conflict. At the same time, extremists are actively trying to recruit Westerners, indoctrinate them, and see them return to their home countries with an extremist mission.”

In other words, “Syria” was not the problem cited by Johnson but rather the “foreign fighters heading to Syria” and the possibility that they might “return to their home countries with an extremist mission.” The distinction is important, but McCain and Graham want to blur the threat to confuse Americans into seeing “Syria” as the problem, not the extremists.

A similar approach was taken by Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, one of the Obama administration’s top liberal war hawks. On Sept. 4, she sought to conflate recent allegations that Assad may not have surrendered all his chemical weapons with the possibility that any remaining weapons might fall into the hands of ISIS terrorists.

“Certainly if there are chemical weapons left in Syria, there will be a risk” that they could end up in the hands of ISIS, Power said. “And we can only imagine what a group like that would do if in possession of such a weapon.”

If any of these rhetorical tactics are ringing a bell, it’s because they are reminiscent of how the neocons frightened the American people into supporting the Iraq War in 2002-03. Back then, Bush administration officials blended unsubstantiated claims about Iraq’s WMDs with the prospect of them being shared with al-Qaeda.

In both cases – Iraq then and Syria now – the existence of those dangerous chemical weapons was in serious doubt and, even if they did exist, the two governments – of Saddam Hussein then and Bashar al-Assad now – were hostile to the Sunni fundamentalists in al-Qaeda and now its spinoff, ISIS.

Yet, this effort to confuse the American public – by manipulating their lack of knowledge about the power relationships in the Middle East – might work once more, by putting “black hats” on both Assad and ISIS and blurring the fact that they are bitter enemies.

In the weeks ahead, Assad also will surely be portrayed as obstructing the U.S. attacks on ISIS. He likely will be blamed for a lack of cooperation with the airstrikes even though it was the Obama administration that refused to coordinate with Assad’s government.

ISIL or ISIS?


Among anti-neocon “realists” inside the U.S. intelligence community, the concern about how these airstrikes into Syria might lead to dangerous mission creep is so great that I’m told that some senior analysts are even suspicious of President Obama’s repeated use of the acronym “ISIL” – for the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant – instead of the more common “ISIS,” referring only to Iraq and Syria.

The concern is that “the Levant” suggests a larger area including all “Mediterranean lands east of Italy,” that theoretically could include everything from Turkey to Palestine and Jordan to parts of Egypt. One source said inclusion of the phrase “ISIL,” instead of “ISIS,” in any “use of force” resolution could be significant by creating a possibility of a much wider war.

In his speech to the nation on Wednesday, Obama continued to use the acronym “ISIL” but his references to U.S. military operations were limited to Iraq and Syria.

The most controversial part of Obama’s speech was his open declaration to conduct cross-border attacks into Syria in clear violation of international law. He also vowed to increase military support for rebels fighting to overthrow the Assad government.

Obama declared that “we have ramped up our military assistance to the Syrian opposition” and he requested additional resources from Congress. He added: “We must strengthen the opposition as the best counterweight to extremists like ISIL, while pursuing the political solution necessary to solve Syria’s crisis once and for all,” a further suggestion that “regime change” is again in play.

Exactly what Obama thinks he can get from the Syrian opposition is a mystery, since he himself stated in an interview just last month that the notion that arming the supposedly “moderate” rebels would have made a difference in Syria has “always been a fantasy.”

He told the New York Times’ Thomas L. Friedman: “This idea that we could provide some light arms or even more sophisticated arms to what was essentially an opposition made up of former doctors, farmers, pharmacists and so forth, and that they were going to be able to battle not only a well-armed state but also a well-armed state backed by Russia, backed by Iran, a battle-hardened Hezbollah, that was never in the cards.”

Nevertheless, Obama has now trotted out that old “fantasy” in connection with his plan to extend the war against ISIS into Syria. Obama also knows that many of the previous Syrian “moderates” who received U.S. weapons later unveiled themselves to be Islamists who repudiated the U.S.-backed opposition and allied themselves with al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, al-Nusra Front. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Syrian Rebels Embrace Al-Qaeda.”]

What’s Up?


Given that record – and Obama’s knowledge of it – what is one to make of the deceptive formulation that he presented to the American people on Wednesday night?

One explanation could be that Obama plans a more direct – albeit secretive – U.S. role in removing Assad and putting a new regime into power in Damascus. Or Obama might be simply pandering to the neocons and liberal hawks who would have gone berserk if he had acknowledged the obvious, that the smart play is to work quietly with Assad to defeat ISIS and al-Nusra Front.

The other smart play might be for Obama to resume his behind-the-scenes cooperation with Russian President Vladimir Putin who helped engineer Syria’s agreement to surrender its chemical weapons arsenal last year and who could presumably broker a quiet agreement between Obama and Assad to allow the U.S. airstrikes now.

Though the U.S. neocons and “liberal interventionists” exploited the Ukraine crisis to drive a wedge between the two leaders, Obama might want to reconsider that estrangement and accept the help of Russia – as well as Iran – in achieving a goal that they all agree on: defeating ISIS and other Sunni terrorist groups. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “What Neocons Want from Ukraine Crisis.”]

Yet, in Wednesday’s speech, Obama seemed to go out of his way to insult Putin by decrying “Russian aggression” in Ukraine where the U.S. government has accused Moscow of violating Ukraine’s sovereignty by crossing the border into eastern Ukraine and aiding ethnic Russian rebels.Obama claimed that Washington’s own intervention in Ukraine was “in support of the Ukrainian peoples’ right to determine their own destiny.”

Yet the realities in Kiev, whose government is backed by the U.S., and in Damascus, whose government is despised by Washington, have eerie parallels. In Syria, Assad, a longtime dictator, won a recent election that was truncated by civil strife. In Ukraine, the current government was established by a February coup d’etat that overthrew an elected president and is now headed by a president elected by only a portion of the population, excluding much of the rebellious east.

Yet, in one country – Ukraine – the United States says outside intervention even by a neighbor to protect a population under military assault is illegal “aggression,” while in the other country – Syria – it is entirely okay for the United States to send its military halfway around the world, cross Syria’s borders to carry out bombing raids while also arming militants to overthrow the internationally recognized government.

Typically, neither Obama nor the U.S. mainstream press made note of the hypocrisy. But the bigger question now is will the neocons hijack Obama’s bombing campaign against ISIS in Syria to achieve one of their most beloved goals, regime change in Damascus.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). For a limited time, you also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.
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SOURCE |
http://consortiumnews.com/2014/09/11/neocons-revive-syria-regime-change-plan/