Who is responsible for sectarianism in Syria?

Western politicians, and their Gulf counterparts, are engaged in a concerted campaign to portray Hezbollah’s recent involvement in Syria as a main cause of the overt sectarian nature of the Syrian ‘opposition’, and are using Hezbollah to subvert the opposition’s sectarian origins and inherent ideologies. Several underlying factors need to be addressed as to why this campaign is being pushed forward, and why it is important for Western and Gulf nations to exacerbate the demonization towards Hezbollah in the Middle East. This campaign can be construed as part of the US/KSA/Israeli agreed policy of “choking the resistance”. That resistance being: Iran, Syria and Hezbollah, otherwise falsely labelled as the “Shi’ite crescent”.

When one views the Syrian conflict in its true geopolitical reality – which is a multi-national US-led regime change effort designed to weaken Iran’s staunch ally – it becomes clear as to why Hezbollah’s inevitable involvement was a desired outcome of the concerted destabilization efforts from US allies. These allies, namely: Qatar and Saudi Arabia, (by extension the Hariri/Future Movement camp in Lebanon) have engaged in a strict policy to foment and enable a Salafist dominated sectarian insurgency to take hold in Syria. It is beyond ridiculous to suggest either the KSA or Qatar, are attempting to spread ‘democracy’, ‘freedom’ or even pluralism in a secular Arab country; while espousing intolerant Salafi/Wahhabi incarnations of Islam within their own lands. Put simply, both the KSA and Qatar have actively encouraged and fomented extremist militants and Islamic radicals to wage war in Syria because they are the type of ideologues that are closest to their own oppressive domestic doctrines.

Moreover, once the falsehood that the Syrian war simply erupted from oppression of ‘peaceful protesters’ is removed, and the harsh realities of the sectarian make-up of the Syrian ‘opposition’ is acknowledged; it becomes clear why Shi’a towns and villages along the Syrian/Lebanese border have been targeted and attacked by Salafist militants since virtually the onset of the conflict. Western and Gulf leaders denounce Hezbollah’s intervention and accuse the resistance group of exacerbating sectarian tensions; willingly ignoring that for the past two years, the vast majority of ‘opposition’ militants have espoused a hardline sectarian Salafi ideology, and have indeed, poured through Lebanons borders with arms and funds in tow.

A prominent example of this wilful ignorance arises in the much talked about town of Qusair. Many a Western politician portrayed the sectarian ramifications of Hezbollah’s assault on the rebel-held town; but the same Western politicians (and lackey media) totally ignored, and then subverted the fact that when the rebels ‘liberated’ the town of Qusair from Government control in 2012, they quickly took it upon themselves to ethnically cleanse all Christians from the area. Obviously, this has no bearing on the sectarian dynamic in Western politician’s eyes. A multitude of hardline Sunni sheikhs have given veiled fatwas against Shi’a and Alawite seen as Government supporters, throughout the two-year conflict; culminating with prominent cleric Yusuf Qaradawi declaring through Qatari media that all young Sunni men should take up the fight against Hezbollah “the Shi’a party of Satan” and the minority Alawite Government of Assad in Syria.

During the course of the conflict, several revealing reports have shed light on just how large a role certain factions within Lebanese Government (Hariri/March 14/Future Movement) have taken it upon themselves to become conduits for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s policy of destabilization in Syria. Saad Hariri’s camp in Lebanon is inextricably tied to Saudi Arabia and the US’ paranoid and hegemonic plans for the Levant, in attempts to curb Iraninan expansion and assert Saudi, ergo: Western dominance. In turn Saudi Arabia is acting in favour of its major global allies, those of a western variety, predominantly being the US and the UK in the decades long “special relationship”. Again, these important dynamics have been thoroughly subverted and hidden from the Western public, yet every attempt is made to highlight Hezbollah’s role in supporting the Assad government. Again, the fact Hezbollah has been defending Shi’ites, Christians and Sunni alike from Jihaddi/Salafists hell-bent on “cleansing” them from Syria and Lebanon’s border region’s goes unmentioned.

Acknowledging the geopolitical dynamic’s of these “relationships”, and the effects their joint campaigns are having on Syria and its surroundings; are key to understanding the sectarian quagmire that is in danger of engulfing the entire region. The US, along with its Gulf allies have been engaged for years in a concerted destabilization and subversion campaign against Syria in order to weaken Iran. These plans were specifically designed to also subvert Hezbollah, remove a bulwark to Israeli oppression and expansion, and ultimately determine a new political force in South Lebanon; one that is compliant to Western demands and subservient to Israel. The chosen policy in which this campaign was to be implemented was through the explicit fomentation and enablement of radical sectarian forces and societal division, evidently resulting in the sectarian nature of the conflict spreading throughout the region today.

In turn, the dominance of radical Sunni ideologues that espouse a hatred for Shi’a has not gone unnoticed inside Lebanon and Hezbollah’s ranks, and is having the adverse effect that Saudi Arabia and their allies have long desired. Sectarian influenced attacks on Shi’ite towns and villages in the border regions have been commonplace. With the constant actual, and rhetorical threat to minorities and Shi’a coming from opposition Salafi elements, and the swathes of militants using Lebanon’s borders and towns as staging grounds to attack Syria; Hezbollah has been backed into a corner with no way out other than to fight for its existence and vital supply lines. Hezbollah being reliant on the Assad Government is not through any sectarian affiliation, (which Western politicians and media like to portray, disregarding that many Shi’a view Alawites as heretics, and the Baathist ideology is strictly secular) but through a political and strategic relationship. The resistance in Lebanon cannot survive under current threats without the support of the Assad government, and vital land and logistic routes to Iran. Completing the “resistance axis”.

The West and specifically the GCC are now portraying Hezbollah as the sectarian antagonist, claiming it is solely a Shi’a militant group fighting on behalf of the Assad government for its Shi’a connections to the Alawites of Syria, and Shi’a of Iran. Again, these simplistic attributions to Hezbollah bear no reality to its pluralistic nature. Its militant wing is currently fighting alongside Shi’a and Christians, in an army that is dominated by Sunni conscripts. (yes the SAA is majority Sunni believe it or not) In Lebanon, Hezbollah provide for, and peacefully live alongside Shi’a, Sunni and Christian alike. Yet the dominant narrative coming from the West and the Gulf is that Hezbollah is responsible for increasing sectarianism. This is turning culpability for the sectarian dynamic of the Syrian conflict completely on its head; in order to subvert the violent, intolerant monster that the US, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and others have created to wage war on their behalf.

In another disturbing and recent example of the Syrian rebels sectarian ideology, from the village of Hatla, in Deir Ezzor; an estimated 60 Shi’a residents of the town were killed, apparently for the crime of being Government supporters (described as ‘militia’ in western media even though victims include women and children). Elements of Jabhat al Nusra, the prominent ‘opposition’ fighting force in Syria posted videos of the attack in which they state: “We have raised the banner ‘There is no God but God’ above the houses of the apostate rejectionists, the Shia,” The language used by the ‘rebels’ on camera is again, explicitly sectarian, and commonplace among the many videos openly touted online by such radical groups: “This is the Shia, this is the Shia carcass, this is their end,” the cameraman declares as a victim is revealed lying dead on the floor. Widespread sectarian killings are not anomalies inside Syria. During protests in 2011, the chants for reform and democracy were quickly usurped by sectarian slogans such as “Christians to Beirut, Alawites to the grave”.

With recent death toll estimates from leading pro-opposition group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (one man in Coventry but widely touted in Western media) suggesting that at least 43% of the dead are Syrian army members or Government militia; it raises the immediate question of how false the one-dimensional narrative of “Assad killing his own people” must actually be? Unless we are supposed to believe that over the course of two year’s the Syrian Army has killed ten’s of thousands of its own soldiers, it becomes difficult to envision this conflict as anything other than a foreign-funded war against the Syrian state. A war that from the beginning has been led by client states of the US, that espouse brutal, violent and intolerant versions of Islam, and have a proven history of furthering their covert policies by fomenting, arming and funding radical ‘shock troops’ to undertake sectarian warfare and societal division to meet their geopolitical objectives.

There are predominantly two parties to blame for the sectarianism rife in Syria and spreading beyond its borders, they are: Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Sitting behind these states, and driving their destructive policy is, as always, the Empire of the era. Those who gain the most from destabilizing whole resource-rich regions for their own benefit. For the last 60 years, that Empire has been the United States of America.

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.