Israel, Syria, airstrikes and “game changers”.

Israeli military officials today confirmed IAF warplanes targeted a supposed shipment of “game changing” weapons inside Syria, allegedly destined for Hezbollah. These “game changing advanced missiles”, (if they exist) have been reported to have been “advanced ground to ground missiles”

Whats interesting, is the similar modus operandi of another recent IAF airstrike on Syria in January, which was also claimed to be targeting a “weapons convoy”. Indeed, the convoy that was targeted may well have been carrying weapons/Manpad’s, but that was not Israel’s primary target. In this case the target, and result of the strike was the death of Iranian IRCG General Hassan Shateri: a major coup for Israel’s continuing aggression and shadow war against Iran. The Times of London reported in February that an Israeli military source revealed Israeli assets spotted Shateri in Damascus, trailed him as he boarded the “convoy” headed for Lebanon, after which the airstrike option was “utilized”. This shows that Israel’s military planners are willing to take huge risk in their opportunistic “targeted killings” of IRGC and Hezbollah commanders, and fully exploit the current conflict in Syria as a means to eradicate and weaken its enemies.

In the run-up to the Shateri assassination, there was also a heavy and blatant increase in IAF airspace violations over Lebanon, these were ultimately recon flights and strike simulations. This strategy appears to be the case in the recent strike on Syrian soil, at the moment of typing, it appears Israeli missiles were fired from jets in Lebanese airspace across the border into Syria.

With the Syrian Government and armed forces facing a full on insurgency; it is hard to believe they would choose to ship large consignments of sophisticated weapons out of the country, during a period it is facing an increased threat of western/GCC military action against it. Further still, Hezbollah is currently engaged in the war against western/GCC proxies in Syria, it poses no offensive threat to Israel at this moment in time. Another major issue going against this “game changing missiles” narrative is the fact that similar range missiles will already be in the arsenal of both the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), and, to some extent Hezbollah.

Although more of these weapons would prove a major obstacle to any future Israeli aggression on Lebanon, it’s certainly not a “game changing” dynamic. Israel’s huge military apparatus and air supremacy bare no comparison to the small arsenal’s inside Lebanon. Indeed, after the Shateri strike an IDF official was quoted in the Times article as saying: “a weapons convoy to Lebanon is not on its own a good enough reason for Israel to risk its pilots in an attack through a heavily protected air defense zone.” Although striking from the oft-violated Lebanese airspace puts paid to these Israeli concerns, it still seems an awfully risky manouvre for the sake of a few missiles.

Speaking on Friday Lebanon’s President Michel Sleiman accused Israel of:  “trying to destabilise the country” and, called continuing IAF airspace violations: ” Israel’s policy of intimidation”. So who or what was the real target? On the face of it, Israeli airstrikes against Syrian Army/Hezbollah are only going to bolster radical Sunni militia affiliated with Al Qaeda? Oh sorry i forgot, they’re on the same side in this proxy-war. The west’s (ergo Israel’s) strategic moral expediency in plain sight.

Western media and the War Machine.

It is now well over two years since the Syrian conflict began. I for one, will no longer give credibility to the falsehood that this brutal conflict simply aroused itself from the Syrian Government’s oppression of peaceful protest. There were many peaceful protests in Syria, there was, and still is a widespread call for reform and change within the Syrian government. No doubt, there was also brutal oppression. But the critical element that has been dutifully removed from the narrative by our subservient western media, is the fact that radical militia – some affiliated with “the west’s biggest enemy” Al Qaeda no less – were attacking the Syrian Arab Army from day one. Those attacks greatly intensified; as US/Gulf propagated “opposition” elements conflated the two separate dynamics for their own political benefit.

Since over 100 Syrian Army troops (Named in state media, unmentioned in western press) were killed in April 2011 alone it begs the question; who was killing them at this early stage? Once one delves a little deeper, and beyond the usual outlet it is easy to find evidence of armed gangs attacking checkpoints, militry convoys and installations throughout the early stages of the conflict. Long ago many analysts (not attached to dubious Washington or London-based “NGO’s”) and a few politicians were warning of the ramifications of allowing Wahhabi propagating theocracy the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with the archaic, oppressive, misogynistic, and outright autocratic promoters of the Muslim Brotherhood, Qatar, the prominent role in supporting the so-called “rebels” in and outside of Syria.

These states (US clients), alongside NATO member Turkey – who have mainly facilitated the distribution of arms and funds, whilst harbouring said “rebels” and providing training camps on Syria’s border – were given “the green light” by the US to arm and determine who waged war in Syria in a supposed fight for “freedom and democracy”. A supposed future democracy which neither of these US clients has ever practiced themselves, or plan to in the future. Many knew this would only lead to a dramatic increase in the conflict and in turn spur the sectarian tensions within Syria. Why would western media deem it necessary, or in the publics interest to omit these vital facts? Simply because the vast majority of western “news” media is subservient to its corporate financiers, ergo: government. In the realm of Foreign Policy and ‘National Security’, to give western media any more credence than state media within the ‘axis of evil’; (constantly ridiculed in western media) is to omit, or conveniently forget, the barefaced, constant falsehoods that have plagued our so-called ‘independent media’, and in turn led us into wars of aggression. When in reality, these wars are about nothing other than hegemony and resource: not human rights and democracy.

The same few public voices that raised these concerns at the time were dutifully whitewashed from the public sphere. Media plays an ever more vital role in promoting the west’s wars of aggression. As governments and corporations start to fear mass unrest and upheaval within their own societies; alongside the huge rise in public communication and media sharing thanks to the internet, which currently every “developed” western government is trying to obliterate. It is becoming ever harder for Governments to dupe populations into overt aggressive, hegemonic military operations against sovereign nations. This is not to say the publics opinion will dissuade western powers to enter such wars. On the contrary, several polls in the UK have shown that in the majority, the public are against arming “rebels” or intervening in Syria. A recent binational YouGov-Cambridge poll showed that only 16% of both US and UK voters were in favour of supplying munitions to the opposition. This is not a consideration with either Whitehall, or the Guardian’s editorial team.

With ever-expanding covert armies, unaccountable private military contractors and paramilitary intelligence agencies that western nations are building, and continue expanding. Alongside the growing encroachment into what becomes public knowledge: under “National Security” grounds. Western governments are adapting their subversion and have added small-scale insurgencies as a pertinent strategy, which now primarily fall under the doublespeak auspices of “the Right to Protect” or “Humanitarian Intervention.” These small-scale insurgencies are referred to in the western media as “rebels”, “revolutionaries”, “freedom fighters” etc when attacking a Government and its apparatus our leaders would like removed. Yet when these same “freedom fighters” turn their western/GCC provided arsenal’s on western friendly targets: they are immediately labelled as “terrorists”. Indeed, there are many recent examples of this.

A prominent example arises in Libya. The same radical Islamic groups western powers armed and funded to illegally and brutally overthrow Gaddafi’s government; (Along with a six month 9,000+ NATO air strike campaign.) have since turned on their main donors not only once, but three times. These predominantly extremist forces first attacked the British Ambassador; then attacked the US “consulate” in Benghazi: killing the US Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stephens in a supposed CIA “safe house”. ( widely believed to have been stockpiling arms in Libya to send to the next “revolution” in Syria) and, recently attacking the French embassy. This western moral expediency is but a continuation of our governments recklessness, and the continual use of primarily Gulf propagated, fomented and funded radical Islamic forces to subvert, leverage, and ideally remove Governments within the middle east that are outside, or; unwilling to become part of the west’s economic influence.

The western media apparatus is currently engulfed in a coordinated campaign, to use what is highly circumstantial and dubious ‘evidence’ (the crucial parts we the public are not privy to) that the Assad government has deployed chemical weapons: “on its own people” as a pretext for further intervention against the Syrian government. Yes, we have been here before, and over a million Iraqi civilians at least half of them children; (that is a conservative estimate of total deaths due to US/UK led war, economic or otherwise against Iraq.) alongside thousands of British and US military personnel: paid the ultimate price for our Governments and their compliant media’s malfeasance.

When we scrutinise these “reports” for the “evidence” our diplomats and politicians speak of, it is hard to find anything other than speculation. But the speculation will persist, evolve and grow tenfold. The language will become stark, the images shocking, and within a couple of weeks (…days?) the majority of uninformed readers and headline watchers will ultimately believe the claim without the necessary evidence. This is the role western media and its apparatus plays in the middle east. It is not designed to inform the western public; it is certainly not designed to bring about any understanding. The media is a mere tool within the western Military Industrial Complex to further the “legitimacy”, or, more appropriately: the public apathy towards the rapacious, illegal, aggressive and outright imperialistic military ventures undertaken by our governments throughout the region.

One wonders why this media campaign has taken a dramatic increase in the last week or so? Indeed, it was only a few weeks ago that the Syrian Government itself was calling on the UN to investigate alleged opposition use of Chemical Weapons, in response to an alleged “terrorist” attack on Government forces in Aleppo. The UN reluctantly obliged, but under pressure from Washington the UN decided it would only investigate all claims of chemical weapons use across the whole of Syria; including the rebel claims of Government use. Considering the CIA’s habit (and UN complicity) of infiltrating supposed UN investigations for the benefit of the US military and Administration, while also considering the US (CIA) is a prime belligerent in this conflict: I don’t think its hard to fathom the Syrian government may be suspicious of these attempts to send UN investigators all over the war-torn country.

Why would the UN choose not to investigate what was readily available and choose instead to add invasive pre-conditions? In relation to the timing of this current media campaign, it is obvious. The Syrian Arab Army is currently on a nationwide offensive, and it is succeeding. In areas all across the country the SAA has retaken vital towns, villages and checkpoints. The Army is also currently opening up the once restricted supply routes and highways to Government strongholds in Damascus, and the coastal enclave of Latakia and Tartous. In Homs and the town of Qusair close to the Lebanese border, fighting has greatly intensified and is in danger of spreading to Lebanon. Indeed just this week, two prominent Lebanese Salafi Sheikhs declared Jihad upon the Syrian Government. This was supposedly in response to Hezbollah’s ongoing support of the regime. Again, what is omitted in this simplistic western narrative: is that Salafi fighters have used Lebanon as a key route into Syria; they have indeed attacked Shiite villages and inhabitants in the region for months. These attacks were the initial reasoning given by Hezbollah for its limited involvement.

Of course, this does not sit kindly with the narrative of “rebels” good guys, Hezbollah/Assad Regime bad guys: so it must be spun. All to the benefit of the greatest military threat to Lebanon, and if we are to believe polls; the greatest threat to the whole region: The US and Israel.

Media hypocrisy on Israel.

Having read the recents reports on the bogus nature of the recent IAEA “intelligence” leaked to the Associated Press and subsequently reported in exclusive and “big story” nature regarding Irans nuclear program, it is becoming quite apparent that the source of the now ridiculed piece of “intelligence”, the now infamous nuclear graph is not being scrutinised.

Diplomatic Editor Julian Borgers recent report in the Guardian titled- “Israel suspected over Iran nuclear programme inquiry leaks”  is a fine example, and this coming from our supposed left-wing press, the header Screen-shot-2012-11-30-at-11.57.04-AM1insinuates there may be some information as to exactly how or why Israel is leaking such information, but, as with the vast majority of western media it does nothing of the sort and uses the report as another outlet to misinform and subvert the major issues at hand. Instead of enlightening the reader as to what Israel would be doing with a part of a confidential IAEA report we are fed the usual “unamed western diplomat” quotes and falsehoods, from the report…

There is widespread belief among western governments, Russia, China and most independent experts that evidence is substantial for an Iranian nuclear weapons programme until 2003. There is far less consensus on what activities, if any, have been carried out since. The IAEA inquiry has so far not found a “smoking gun”.

Of course anyone with a basic understanding of the IAEA and Iran will know this is a completely false statement, in both the 2007 and 2011 IAEA reports there was no sufficient evidence found to suggest Iran are developing nuclear weapons, why Borger decides to include consensus from before 2003 is anybodys guess, and is most likely used as another irrelevant bit of propaganda8, again skewing the facts and evidence to support the western narrative. Both the CIA and Mossad have both come to the same conclusion-that Iran is not attempting to develop nuclear weapons.

Yet Borger (and the majority of the western press) decides to concentrate his article on what the IAEA havent  found, as opposed to the international intelligence communities’ consensus (minus Congress and Knesset hawks) that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons. Let alone addressing the issue the headline suggests. This tells a story of its own, but some important questions arise from the aftermath of the bogus graph, mainly, the negligence from western media in scrutinising and questioning the motives of its source.

1.) Why do Israel have access to IAEA report files? The report being confidential and Israel not being a part of the IAEA or NPT should make any discerning reporter ask this question.

2.) Why is western media so quick to use unverified pieces of intelligence from what are obviously biased sources with an agenda? Especially considering the west’s track record with trumpeting false intelligence that leads us into illegal war’s. Are’nt huge media corporations such as AP supposed to be objective?

3.) Why does our supposed left-wing press spout the same inflammatory falsehoods as Fox News et al with regard to Irans nuclear program?

4.) Why, after opening up their reactors to inspection and co-operating with the IAEA is Iran still under such scrutiny? Particularly from western media. When Israel’s nuclear program-now a foregone conclusion is not even up for debate.

5.) Why does Israel have the right to dictate to neighboring states when it continues to hide its own nuclear weapons and refuses to sign the NPT or join the Arab nations in the (MENWFZ)? Not to mention its continued oppression and occupation of the people of Palestine, multiple invasions in the region and continuing aggressive threats to several neighbouring states.

6.) Why do western people consider Iran as hostile? It hasnt invaded another state for over 200 years, lets not get into invasion comparisons. The west and its allies dont come close.

The answer to the last question can mainly be found in the article i refer to, but Borger and many other media outlets have failed to address any of the other pertinent questions. The continual mis-information on Iran’s nuclear program and IAEA reports is becoming more and more apparent to those of us that scrutinise our press. In the corporate MSM it has been so for quite some time, but i feel a distinct ratcheting up of the rhetoric and corresponding “news” here in the UK and a complete lack of attempt at objectivity even within our left-wing newspapers. Continual mainstream support for Israel in the recent Gaza crisis-regardless of evidence and civilian suffering. Lack of any criticism for its nuclear program-completely hidden from the world and the IAEA, censorship of dissidence and protest at Israels actions is all proof of the lobbying and inter-governmental power they hold not only in the US but within UK establishment, its media lackeys be they left or right are only happy to oblige in its continuing parrotting of “unnamed diplomatic sources”, unverified leaked intelligence a.k.a. propaganda and demonisation of Iran.

Nobel Peace Sanctions?

The continuing rhetoric and relentless warmongering from western diplomats continues, amidst the barrage of talk and media propaganda of an imminent “crisis” comes one critical element for the civilian population of Iran. US led sanctions have undoubtedly led to the downfall of the Iranian economy, and as recent history has proven it will be the civilian population that bears the brunt. Western diplomats predict Iran’s foreign exchange reserves will run dry in six months to a year, making it impossible for the country to import or export goods and run its public services. Today it was reported in the Guardian that the head of the charity Foundation for Special Diseases has warned of a serious shortage of vital medicines, for diseases such as haemophilia, multiple sclerosis and cancer. Earlier this month Ban Ki Moon the UN secretary-general had warned in a report that “The sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic of Iran have had significant effects on the general population, including an escalation in inflation, a rise in commodities and energy costs, an increase in the rate of unemployment and a shortage of necessary items, including medicine,”. The EU, fresh from winning the Nobel Peace Prize last week don’t appear to be listening with British Foreign Secretary William Hague announcing further escalation to the crippling sanctions.

The aim of the increasingly harsh sanctions are supposedly to curb the Iranian regimes attempts to enrich uranium for the purpose of nuclear warheads. The IAEA in its reports and findings from its inspections at nuclear facilities in Iran have not found any strong evidence to suggest the regime is trying to develop nuclear warheads, the vast majority of any circumstantial evidence has been provided by the US and vehemently denied by Iran. It must also be noted that Iran is a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, of which its nuclear armed US ally neighbour Israel is not, whilst openly admitting they have hundreds of nuclear warheads, again with the tacit approval of the US administration.

Both CIA and Mossad officials have stated their belief that Iran is yet to make a decision on building a nuclear weapon and have considerably scaled back enrichment since 2003, yet three of the four non signatory nuclear armed states, India, Pakistan and Israel  have been unimpeded in developing nuclear arms with the financial and logistical backing of the US.

An example of the human suffering sanctions can cause is not hard to find, the statistics on the sanctions imposed on Iraq prior to the US led Iraq war bear grim reading. In a report by Christian Aid on the Iraq sanctions in 1998 read –“The policy of sanctions has also been used to pursue political goals — for example, the removal of the Iraqi regime — beyond the overt scope of Resolution 687, which contained no prescriptions regarding Iraq’s form of government or the conduct of domestic policy. The Iraqi population’s economic and social rights have been seriously infringed by the impact of a prolonged embargo. In an authoritarian state which continued to hold most of the levers of control, much of the burden caused by the embargo fell on the civilian population.” the report went on to state-“The longer-term damage to the fabric of society has yet to be assessed but economic disruption has already led to heightened levels of crime, corruption and violence.” During the period of sanctions from 1991 to 1998 it is estimated by UNICEF that up to a million people died during the period as a direct result of the sanctions, half of them being children.

Estimates of deaths due to sanctions

Estimates of excess deaths during sanctions vary depending on the source. The estimates vary due to differences in methodologies, and specific time-frames covered. A short listing of estimates follows:

  • Unicef: 500,000 children (including sanctions, collateral effects of war). “[As of 1999] [c]hildren under 5 years of age are dying at more than twice the rate they were ten years ago.”
  • Former U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq Denis Halliday: “Two hundred thirty-nine thousand children 5 years old and under” as of 1998.
  • “probably … 170,000 children”, Project on Defense Alternatives, “The Wages of War”, 20. October 2003
  • 350,000 excess deaths among children “even using conservative estimates”, Slate Explainer, “Are 1 Million Children Dying in Iraq?”, 9. October 2001.
  • Economist Michael Spagat: “very likely to be [less than] than half a million children” because estimation efforts are unable to isolate the effects of sanctions alone due to the lack of “anything resembling a controlled experiment”, and “one potential explanation” for the statistics showing a decline in child mortality was that “they were not real, but rather results of manipulations by the Iraqi government.”
  • Richard Garfield, a Columbia University nursing professor … cited the figures 345,000-530,000 for the entire 1990-2002 period” for sanctions-related excess deaths.
  • Zaidi, S. and Fawzi, M. C. S., (1995) The Lancet British medical journal: 567,000 children. A co-author (Zaidi) did a follow-up study in 1996, finding “much lower … mortality rates … for unknown reasons.”
  • Iraq expert Amatzia Baram compared the country’s population growth rates over several censuses and found there to be almost no difference in the rate of Iraq’s population growth between 1977 and 1987 (35.8 percent), and between 1987 and 1997 (35.1 percent), suggesting a much lower total.

The effect of sanctions on civilian populations is quite obviously catastrophic, and many believe this is the ultimate outcome in the hope that civilian suffering will foresee a regime change. It has been proven to have the opposite effect, whatever money remains in a sanctioned state will still be held by the regime, the public will just see less of it, as is being seen now in Iran. The sanctions have also increased anti-US sentiment among the civilian population who feel they are the ones being punished for the regimes alleged crimes. The outcome will be a much weaker Iran, which is no doubt the aim whatever the consequence to civilian life. A weaker Iran will principally be an easier target for the US/Israel to attack in the future, and then the civilian population will have even less of a chance of survival, once again civilian life is used as a pawn in the race to control natural resources in the middle east.