Israel and Saudi Arabia’s priorities in Syria.

Current developments both inside and outside of Syria have shown that the primary sponsors of the extremist-dominated insurgency – namely, the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Israel and Turkey – aren’t quite ready to throw in the towel.

One may be forgiven for thinking the Obama administration had decided to abandon the policy of regime change following the failed attempt to incite intervention, through the chemical weapons casus belli in August. But the harsh reality remains that the above mentioned alliance is indeed continuing its covert military support of the insurgency, in one form or another, in the full knowledge the vast majority of rebels are religious fundamentalists with a sectarian agenda, and vehemently opposed to any form of democracy or political pluralism.

Primarily, the continued support is a product of the American Empires’ overarching strategy of Full Spectrum Dominance over resource-rich and strategically placed regions of the globe, via subversion, economic and military aggression; a policy imposed to varying degrees upon any state unwilling to accept full US subordination. This aggressive US stance is by no means exclusive to periods of heightened tension or crises; it is a permanent one, brought forward to its violent climax purely through Machiavellian opportunism. In Syria’s case, the Arab uprisings provided the United States and its allies the perfect opening to set in motion the subversive plans they had been working on since at least 2006. The possibility of removing an opposing government that refuses to abide by American/Israeli diktat was simply too good a chance to be missed. Accordingly, and from a very early stage, the US made attempts to facilitate and support the violent elements in Syria, while its media arms were busy conflating them with localised legitimate protesters.

Since the US took the typically reckless decision to support, widen and exacerbate the militant elements, the policy has been an abject failure. Clearly, from the tone espoused by Western diplomats and propagandists, and the oft-repeated slogan of “Assads days are numbered”, they expected swift regime change. These desires were largely based on American hubris and the hope that the Libya No Fly Zone scenario would gain traction in the UN security council.

Contrary to such desires, Russia and China’s anger regarding NATO’s destruction of Libya and Gaddafi’s assassination, meant that any similar resolutions put forward on Syria would face immediate veto. In turn this has proven to be a turning point in the modern relationship between the permanent members of the security council, the full ramifications of which are yet to materialise. Moreover, it proved to be a turning point in the Syrian crisis itself; knowing Russia and China would block any attempts to give NATO its second outing as Al Qaeda’s airforce, the US once again chose the policy of further covert militarism, drastically increasing funds and weapons deliveries to the rebels – parallel to the sectarian incitement campaigns espoused by Salafi-Wahhabi clerics across the Gulf – in the hope they could overturn the Syrian army through terrorism and a brutal sectarian war of attrition.

As a consequence of the failure to remove Assad or destroy the Syrian government and its apparatus, the Obama administration, reluctant and politically incapable of engaging in overt acts of aggression, is employing a realpolitik strategy; using primarily covert militarism to appease the desires of NeoConservative hawks in Congress, and its more zealous regional influences emanating from Riyadh and Tel Aviv, while avoiding the possibility of being dragged into another overt military intervention.

In turn, this double-edged strategy feeds the false public perception of the American Empire, which the pseudo-pragmatists and neoliberal propagandists are so eager to uphold and is so fundamental to US Empire-building; that of an inherently altruistic force, acting as global arbiter, grudgingly subverting, invading, bombing, and intervening in sovereign nations affairs for the good of all mankind. As long as this false perception is upheld, the sharp-edge to the grotesque charade of US realpolitik – that of covert militarism and state-sponsored terrorism – continues unabated. Clearly, the US Empire is in no rush to end the bloodshed in Syria, its priorities, as they have been since the start of 2011, are to remove, or at least severely disable and weaken the Syrian government and state, regardless of the consequences to the civilian population.

By using its control of state-funding, the arms flow, and therefore the strength and capabilities of the insurgency as a whole, the Obama administration has employed futile carrot and stick tactics in attempts to pressure the Syrian government during the current negotiations phase into acceding to US demands and giving up its sovereignty – with both the US-led alliance, and Syria and its international allies, primarily Russia and Iran, in the full knowledge the rebels lack both the domestic support, and manpower necessary, to oust Assad or defeat the Syrian army alone. Reports allude to the stick of US Democracy having its most recent outing in the form of “new”  and improved weapons supplies to the rebels, allegedly including MANPADS. This comes immediately off the back of the designed-to-fail Geneva “peace” talks and can be interpreted as a direct result of Washington’s failure to enforce their objectives: the stick is an endless supply of state-sponsored terrorism, the carrot is turning off the tap.

Whether the “new” arms shipments actually increase the rebels ability to inflict damage on the Syrian government remains to be seen, and is highly improbable at this stage as the Syrian army moves into the Qalamoun mountains to liberate the rebel-held town of Yabroud, in turn securing vital transit and logistical routes from Lebanon. The likely outcome of an increased arms flow to the rebels in the south, as evidenced at every interval of US-instigated militarization, will be a repeat of the same devastating results: more civilian displacement, adding to the already critical refugee crisis; more rebel destruction of civilian infrastructure, adding to further food and utility shortages; and many more lives lost.

“Lebanonization” a substitute for regime change?

As is proving to be the case, if the United States and its allies are incapable of removing the Syrian government via proxy forces without an increasingly unpopular Western military intervention, and Assad’s position and domestic support remain steadfast, then a Lebanonization strategy may well be the substitute “optimal scenario” the US and its allies are now working toward.

Encouraging, exacerbating, and inciting division between Arabs has been the long-term strategy for the Zionist establishment since the colonialists first usurped Palestinian land in 1948 – with specific effort made toward fomenting conflict along sectarian lines. The strategy of division is directed toward any Arab state or government that refuses to abide by Zionist demands. Israeli strategist Oded Yinon’s now infamous “A strategy for Israel in the 1980’s” – dubbed the Yinon Plan – provides perhaps the clearest account of Israel’s intentions toward its Arab neighbours:

The total disintegration of Lebanon into five regional local governments is the precedent for the entire Arab world … The dissolution of Syria, and later Iraq, into districts of ethnic and religious minorities following the example of Lebanon is Israel’s main long-range objective on the Eastern front. The present military weakening of these states is the short-range objective. Syria will disintegrate into several states along the lines of its ethnic and religious structure … As a result, there will be a Shi’ite Alawi state, the district of Aleppo will be a Sunni state, and the district of Damascus another state which is hostile to the northern one. The Druze – even those of the Golan – should forma state in Hauran and in northern Jordan … the oil-rich but very divided and internally strife-ridden Iraq is certainly a candidate to fill Israel’s goals … Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation … will hasten the achievement of the supreme goal, namely breaking up Iraq into elements like Syria and Lebanon.

When viewed in this context, it can be no coincidence that US Secretary of State John Kerry is desperately pursuing a fait accompli with the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Contrary to the sickening media portrayal of the US as impartial peacebroker, Kerry’s eagerness to pursue a “deal” at this moment in time is a direct result of the Syrian conflict, and the divisions within the resistance camp it has created. The US and Israel are now attempting to force through an Israeli-oriented “peace deal” with the corrupt PA that will inevitably be both a failure, and against the Palestinians interests. Staunch allies of Palestinian resistance, currently bogged down fighting Al Qaeda ideologues in Syria and defusing car-bombs bound for Dahiyeh, are in no position to support the Palestinians against Israel in their hour of need, the US and Israel fully grasp the importance of isolating genuine Palestinian resistance from the few Arab states and actors it receives support. In his latest speech, Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah reminded his listeners of this very crucial issue:

“the US Administration is seeking, along with the Zionist Administration to put an end to the Palestinian cause, and it considers that this is the best time for that because the Arab and Islamic worlds are absent today, and every country is occupied with its own problems.”

In a similar fashion, the US has used the Syrian conflict as a lever against Iran in the nuclear negotiations, Washington’s longstanding attempts to pacify and subordinate an independent Iran has undoubtedly played a major role in US policy on Syria – perhaps the defining role. Consequently, both the Palestinian and Iranian conflicts with Israel and the United States are now, as they have always been intended to some extent in US calculations, inextricably linked to resolving the Syrian crisis.

True to form, Israel’s evident glee at the destruction in Syria and overt preference for the removal of Assad and the Syrian government, with the devastation that would entail, has proven at times hard for them to conceal. Furthering the point, just one of many examples of Israeli-rebel collusion came in a recent report from the National (falsely portraying the rebels Israel is “reaching out” to as ostensibly “moderate”) which relayed that hundreds of rebels have received treatment in Israeli hospitals and been sent back into Syria with up to a $1000 in cash. Israel have made further efforts to consolidate contacts with the rebels in the south, regardless of the level of fundamentalism, and cooperated with rebel factions during the Israeli bombings on Latakia and Damascus.

In a feeble attempt to whitewash this collusion, Israeli propagandists are busily spreading the misinformation that Israel is facilitating the Druze community in the south of Syria; yet the Druze community are firmly allied with the Syrian government. In reality, Israeli attempts to cultivate relations with the communities and rebels in the south should be correctly viewed as attempts to create enforced “safe-zones” around the occupied Golan Heights, in furtherance of the Zionists land-grabbing expansionist aspirations. Accordingly, Israel’s fraudulent neutrality is completely exposed by their collusion with the rebels to meet their own interests, and overt acts of aggression against the Syrian army.

There are many other indications that allude to prominent factions of the US alliance being preferable of, and encouraging an outcome of division, most notably Israel, but simple logic determines that Saudi Arabia, Israel’s most vital strategic partner in the region, and the actor from within the US alliance that possesses the most material influence and political will to support fundamentalists and terrorism, would also approve of the disintegration of the Syrian state, primarily viewing it as a blow to “Shi’a expansion”. The Saudi and Gulf fixation on sectarian themes, to mask what are essentially politically oriented conflicts, is also intentionally built to intensify the strategy of division in multi-ethnic, religiously plural societies – as evidenced in virtually every country fundamentalist Gulf proxies have been unleashed upon, most recently in Libya.

Yet even the Saudi’s have limits to their own capabilities and decisions, ultimately they rely on the military largesse and protection of the United States, and will therefore reign in the terrorist networks if push comes to shove. Hence, the recent Saudi attempts to dissociate from Al Qaeda and the various extremists fighting in Syria can be seen as largely cosmetic and for public consumption. In reality, the Saudi leadership see Al Qaeda and its extremist confrères as malleable proxies of no real threat to themselves, while constituting a critical component of Saudi foreign policy and covert aggression.

Of far higher importance to both Israel and Saudi Arabia’s confluent interests in the region, which in turn play a critical role in US calculations, are the very actors and states the fundamentalist proxies are currently being sponsored to wage war upon; namely, Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah. The disintegration of the resistance axis is the utmost priority for the states that drive US policy in the Middle East, the supposed “threat” faced by militant fundamentalist ideologues, originally created, and intermittently sponsored by the US and its allies, is merely an afterthought.

The US Empire, in its efforts to contain, and therefore dominate and control such a strategic and resource-rich region, is more than content to allow its reactionary and sectarian clients to incite the conflict necessary to subvert, fracture and divide the inevitable power a unified Middle East could claim: if only their progressive aspirations and unity were not repeatedly “set back” by Zionist occupation and manufactured antagonism.

The reactionary essence of the Syrian insurgency.

Western corporate media, its Oil and Gas counterparts (GCC), and the various acolytes and paid-propagandists in the “tailored analysis” industry, are once again attempting to bolster and rebrand the public image of the fundamentalist rebels in Syria.

In the space of a week, two new formations of armed rebels mysteriously appeared across the mass-media lexicon and declared war on the dominant extremists through the usual “activist” social media accounts. The new brigades have virtually no historical record in the conflict, and appear to be largely a creation of the impotent exile opposition and its western sponsors. An abundance of reports relay stories of the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS) simply abandoning their posts and being turned over by this supposedly “moderate” new force. Yet, in reality, the most predominant militia in Syria – those of a Salafi-Wahhabi fundamentalist bent, who now fight under the umbrella of the Islamic Front (IF), and are led by Hassan Abboud of Ahrar al-Sham, and Zahran Alloush of Liwa al-Islam – have made a concerted effort to avoid sowing discord between themselves and the overt Al Qaeda affiliates of ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra (JaN).

The new narrative emerging draws heavily from the Sahwa (Awakening) in Iraq, in which Sunni tribes from the western province of Anbar took up arms against, and eventually defeated, the Al Qaeda insurgency that followed the US invasion and occupation of that country. Western and Gulf media are now attempting to reinvigorate the rebels’ public image by concocting a portrayal of brave “moderates” taking on the extremists within ISIS. Yet contrary to the Syria-Sahwa narrative, the vast majority of opposition forces, as much as one can generalise, have in fact been shown to share far more in common with their extremist equivalents than they have differences, particularly in regards to their reciprocal – and sectarian-laden – religiopolitical ideologies.

According to Western and Gulf propagandists, Jabhat al-Nusra ostensibly represent the “homegrown” Syrian Al Qaeda branch, whereas in actual fact, the claim is entirely false; JaN’s militia hold a distinct foreign contingent and many of its commanders have been found to be of foreign descent – particularly Iraqi. Jabhat al-Nusra, therefore, should be correctly viewed as a semi-Syrian militia at most, built and sustained by ISIS under its former incarnation: the Islamic State of Iraq, (ISI) also formerly known as Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI).

The ideologically aligned Salafi-Jihadists of Ahrar al-Sham, Jabhat al-Nusra, and more recently ISIS, have formed the spearhead of the insurgency throughout the entire Syrian crisis, leading offensives against Syrian army installations, whilst also having enough manpower, funds & materiel to attack, encamp and militarily fortify civilian areas across the country. Most notably in Raqqah, which has become a virtual Al Qaeda statelet under the control of either Jabhat al-Nusra or ISIS.

Examples of the dominant role fundamentalists have played in the insurgency are abundant, during an interview with TIME magazine, Ahrar al-Sham fighters – who, as we have seen through a plethora of evidence, are inextricably linked to Jabhat al-Nusra – freely admit they were planning a violent insurgency in Syria well before any peaceful protests occurred in 2011, and that recruits with underlying sectarian agendas made efforts to sanitize and mask their true Jihadist cause during the earlier phases of the conflict in order to win over the Syrian population. Whats more, a recent report in the National relayed much the same admissions from supposed “FSA” rebels operating in the south of Syria around Dar’aa. The rebels interviewed admitted that “They [JaN] offer their services and cooperate with us, they are better armed than we are, they have suicide bombers and know how to make car bombs,” rebel sources went on to say that “the FSA and Al Nusra join together for operations but they have an agreement to let the FSA lead for public reasons, because they don’t want to frighten Jordan or the West,”. During the interview rebels further elaborate on the efforts made to boost the public image of the western-backed imaginary moderates saying that “operations that were really carried out by Al Nusra are publicly presented by the FSA as their own,” and that supposed moderate FSA fighters “say that Al Nusra fighters are really from the FSA to enable them to move more easily across borders,”. The reports bolster earlier analyses that contradict the dominant narrative, often dismissed as “conspiracy theory”, which indicated such actions were being undertaken, and that the armed groups responsible for the initial violence in March-April 2011 were indeed religious fundamentalists, not the secular “freedom fighters” endlessly lionized by the lackeys of western governments and media.

Such candid rebel admissions once again expose the falsehoods that liberal opportunists rely on when blindly repeating the Imperialist narrative of a peaceful protest movement simply morphing into an Al Qaeda-led insurgency. In reality, the generally small and legitimate protests calling for reform were used as a fig leaf by Syria’s various internal and external enemies to hide the extremist-led militant insurgency they were orchestrating and colluding with.

As evidenced in numerous interviews and statements from Abboud and Alloush, the Islamic Front is not by any stretch of the imagination a “moderate” force opposed to JaN, ISIS, or Al Qaeda ideology in general (unless one utilises the doublespeak of the US State Department when describing their “moderate” Wahhabi-Salafi monarchical clients in the Gulf). Ahrar al-Sham, Liwa a-Islam and other various proto-Salafi militia operating under the umbrella of the Islamic Front have repeatedly fought alongside Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS, and taken part in offensives that have targeted towns and villages on the specific criteria of the sect of the civilian inhabitants. The massacres committed upon the civilian residents of Latakia provide just one recent example of such sectarian barbarity – committed not only by the extreme elements, but with the full cooperation and participation of supposed moderate “FSA” militia. A more recent example of the Islamic Front cooperating with its Al Qaeda-affiliates came in December, when the IF took part in the attack and ensuing massacre of civilians in the workers district of Adra, Damascus – another rebel war-crime almost totally omitted from western media, regardless of the fact the BBC’s chief foreign correspondent was a mere 20 miles away while the massacres were occurring.

When framed in the correct context, it becomes clear that the vast majority of rebels in Syria are in fact ideologically allied to the very Al Qaeda affiliates the media is trying to portray them as opposed to. A recent communique from the political head of the IF, and leader of Ahrar al-Sham, Hassan Abboud, was disingenuously portrayed as a Islamic Front “warning” to ISIS. Opposition-friendly media outlets and analysts are in effect conflating the Islamic Front with imaginary “moderates” and in turn attempting to portray them as ideological opponents to their more extreme Al Qaeda counterparts. This narrative is turning reality on its head, as Abboud’s recent statement is actually a “warning” against discord with ISIS. Abboud encourages the Syrian population to treat the Muhajirin (foreign jihadists busy murdering Syrians) “kindly”, and further encourages ISIS to emulate the “more healthy” manner of their supposed “home-grown” incarnation Jabhat al-Nusra. Accordingly, one can safely conclude that Abboud, Ahrar al-Sham, Liwa al-Islam, and the various Salafi militia operating under the umbrella of the Islamic Front – the largest militant force of the opposition – have close to zero ideological disparity with ISIS or JaN.

Even if what seem to be inflated reports of discord and infighting between the Islamic Front and the supremacist ideologues in ISIS were to result in a considerable loss for the latter, it would simply be replaced at the top of the fundamentalist food-chain by the next militia willing to impose its barbarity and coercion in the most effective way. This is ultimately the inherent nature of fundamentalist militant insurgencies, they are designed, indoctrinated, equipped, and funded to impose upon states and peoples through murder, coercion and fear, not through the appeal of a popular political doctrine and the mass support of the people. The simple facts that the insurgency as a whole is under no central hierarchy, and holds little to-no support inside Syria and is therefore susceptible to becoming subordinate to its foreign patrons, are clear indications that it will not be cohesive, regardless of the varying shades of fundamentalism the dominant groups have attempted to enforce.

The historical record of Western-GCC-backed insurgencies in the Arab and Muslim world provides copious amounts of evidence to show that invariably the United States and its Saudi partners have always utilised, fomented, and sponsored reactionary forces to meet geopolitical ends, particularly when subverting or attacking nationalist governments that refuse to abide by the Anglo-American capitalist order – with disastrous consequences for the countries in which the fundamentalist proxies are set upon. One needs only to glance at the very recent history of Libya to negate the establishment falsehood that if the Syrian government had been overthrown quickly the fundamentalists would not have gained in strength. Again, this is turning the historical record on its head, as the joint NATO-Al Qaeda war on Libya has once again shown; the swift overthrow of a state’s government and leadership inevitably results in reactionary fundamentalists taking advantage of the power vacuum left behind. The US-Saudi-backed insurgency in Afghanistan during the 1980’s, which fought against the Soviet-backed Communist government, provides perhaps the definitive example of the type of proxies the United States and Saudi Arabia choose to employ to destroy target states. As with Syria and Libya, the original “Afghan Arab” insurgency – which helped to create and empower Al Qaeda, Bin Laden, Hekmatyar, the Haqqani network and a host of other fundamentalist militancy – was wrought with infighting, extremism, warlordism, and reaction, this trend has continued in virtually every state the US and its GCC partners have targeted for “liberation” via jihadist proxies.

Perpetual infighting evidenced throughout the Syrian insurgency is in fact a result of the long-standing fragmentation of the various opposition forces, their varying degrees of fundamentalism, and the battle to win influence, arms, and funds through foreign donors and exploitation.

The evidence-free narratives of supposed existential disparity between what actually represent ideological allies, the patterns of ever-changing nomenclature and rebel rebranding, and the efforts to scapegoat the most overtly extreme elements for the systematic crimes of the opposition as a whole, are nothing more than public relations exercises, designed to whitewash the massive crimes of the “rebels”, whilst extricating the Western NATO states and their GCC partners from the criminal act of sponsoring extremists for geopolitical ends.

Brown Moses and “new media”; same as the old media.

A glaring example of one of the major pitfalls emerging in supposed “new media” has arisen during the conflict in Syria. Most notably in the form of YouTube blogger, and self-proclaimed weapons expert Eliot Higgins, aka “Brown Moses”. The clique of highly ideological analysts, think-tankers and journalists Higgins’ regularly works with and consults – alongside the dubiously funded western NGO’s he receives payment from – provide a stark indication as to the factions within the corporate media circus this supposedly independent blogger is operating in unison with.

Higgins has provided the western corporate media apparatus the opportunity to present its war-propaganda as having a “new media” facade of impartial legitimacy. Yet it is the same capitalistic “old media” apparatus endlessly promoting his work – consisting of scouring Jihadist war-porn and agitprop on YouTube for tidbits that may bolster corporate media narratives – as an invaluable tool in tracking human rights abuses, arms trafficking, and risk-free coverage of fast evolving conflicts. Yet contrary to the innocuous portrayal of an unemployed YouTube addict in Leicester becoming a credible analyst of a conflict in the Middle East; Higgins’ blog has been thrust into the foreground not through the benefit of impartiality or public appraisals, but through corporate “benefactors” with vested interest operating alongside the same “old media” organisations and stenographers.

Bloggers such as Higgins promoting themselves as working from an impartial standpoint are actually nothing of the sort and work in complete unison with mainstream journalists and western NGO’s – both in a practical capacity, and an ideological one. As noted at the Land Destroyer blog and others; Higgins was initially pushed into the limelight by the Guardians’ former Middle East editor Brian Whitaker, a “journalist” with the honour of being a lead proponent of almost every smear campaign and piece of western propaganda directed at the Syrian government, while wholeheartedly promoting the Bin Ladenite “rebels” as secular feminist freedom fighters and repeatedly spouting the liberal opportunist mantra of western military “action”, which realistically means Imperialist military intervention. Whitaker and Higgins played a lead role in bolstering corporate media’s fantasy narratives throughout the joint NATO-Al Qaeda insurgency in Libya during 2011, with many of the anti-Gaddafi claims they propagated subsequently proven to be speculative at best, outright propaganda at worst.

Furthermore, Whitaker’s promotion of “The Gay Girl in Damascus” is but one embarrassing anecdote within the litany of completely fabricated narratives both he and the Guardian have made efforts to advance, while making equal effort to marginalize and discredit journalism and opinion that contradict western-desired narratives. It was during Whitaker’s period of running the Guardian’s “Middle East Live blog” – providing daily scripted coverage of the “Arab Spring” in a pseudo-liberal “new media” format – that he and other Guardian journalists first began to promote Higgins’ YouTube findings as credible evidence. Regular readers commenting on the Guardian blog quickly recognised the duplicity and close relationship between Higgins and the Guardian staff, resulting in his propagandistic comments being scrutinised, debunked, and ridiculed on an almost daily basis. Curiously, Whitaker has since left the Guardian and the “MELive” blog has been cancelled due to “staffing shortages” and the ridiculous excuse of a lull in worthwhile coverage. Yet the Guardians skewed standpoint on Syria, along with Whitaker and Higgins relationship, have remained steadfast.

The working relationship between Higgins and the corporate media became almost uniform during the course of the Syrian conflict; an unsubstantiated anti-Assad, or pro-rebel narrative would predictably form in the corporate media (cluster bombs, chemical weapons, unsolved massacres,) at which point Higgins would jump to the fore with his YouTube analysis in order to bolster mainstream discourse whilst offering the air of impartiality and the crucial “open source” faux-legitimacy. It has become blatantly evident that the “rebels” in both Syria and Libya have made a concerted effort in fabricating YouTube videos in order to incriminate and demonize their opponents while glorifying themselves in a sanitized image. Western media invariably lapped-up such fabrications without question and subsequently built narratives around them – regardless of contradictory evidence or opinion. Yet such media, and more importantly, the specific actors propagating it fraudulently to bolster the flimsiest of western narratives has continued unabated – primarily as a result of the aforementioned “old media” organs endlessly promoting it.

Following award-winning journalist Seymour Hersh’s groundbreaking essay in the London Review of Books, which exposes the Obama administrations intelligence surrounding the alleged chemical attacks in Ghouta as reminiscent of the Bush administrations outright lies and fabrications leading to the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, Higgins took it upon himself to rush through a rebuttal, published by the establishment media outlet Foreign Policy magazine – a predictable response as Higgins represents the principal source for the “Assad did it” media crowd. Accordingly, the “old media” stenographers that originally promoted Higgins became the vanguard force pushing his speculative Ghouta theories above Hersh’s – to hilarious effect.

A particularly revealing example of Higgins’ unwillingness to depart from mainstream discourse came shortly after the alleged Ghouta attacks. The findings of a considerable open-source collaborative effort at the WhoGhouta blog were repeatedly dismissed as ridiculous or unverifiable by Higgins. The bloggers at WhoGhouta drew more or less the same logical, and somewhat scientific conclusions outlined in the Hersh piece, but in much greater detail. Yet Higgins chose to ignore WhoGhouta’s findings and instead rely on his own set of assumptions, dubious videos, and an unqualified ex-US soldier that seems determined to defy both logical and scientific reality. The estimated range of the rockets allegedly used in the attack, with the alleged azimuth that pointed to Syrian army launch points breathlessly promoted by Higgins and his patrons at Human Rights Watch (HRW), and of course corporate media, were convincingly debunked mere weeks after the attack at the WhoGhouta blog, yet Higgins chose to stick to his orchestrated narrative until the bitter end, only revising his wild speculation on rocket range once the obvious became too hard to conceal.

As Higgins is a self-declared advocate of “open source investigative journalism”, it is perplexing that he attempted to marginalize and dismiss the many findings from independent observers and instead concentrated on bolstering the dubious narratives of the US government and western corporate media. Unless of course, he is tied to a particular narrative and desperate to conceal anything that contradicts it.

Predictably, Higgins now claims the Syrian army are indeed capable of firing the alleged rockets from anywhere in the region of Ghouta, no longer is the alleged launch-zone exclusive to the Syrian army’s Republican Guards base; effectively nullifying the original fabrications he relied on to build his earlier accusation alongside HRW.

It is no longer necessary to address the ins and outs of the Ghouta debate, as a comprehensive review by others has already highlighted the strawman nature of Higgins’ feeble refutation of Hersh, (see here,) not to mention the plethora of literature that has effectively demolished the US governments “intelligence” summary and the much-politicised UN report that Higgins originally built his fantasies from. Rather, the focus of this article is the pernicious nature of the “new media” model currently being promoted by Higgins et al, as a credible alternative to the corporate “old media” model. If the corrupt acolytes of “old media” are promoting their own versions of “new media” to the public, then the public aren’t really getting anything “new” apart from a YouTube generation of ill-informed and gullible recruits to the same old systems.

Prominent members of “new media” have invariably been pushed to the foreground of mainstream coverage by the very same corporate media institutions and establishment journalists that the public has rightly become exceedingly sceptical of. It is becoming an accepted normality for the lackeys of “old media” to determine what now represent the figureheads and platforms of “new media”, with large corporate organisations and their Jurassic minions making concerted efforts to raise the profile of, and offer incentives to bloggers who invariably say or write exactly whats required to bolster the “old media’s” still-dominant narratives.

The complete lack of historical materialism, geopolitical insight, critical distance, logical reasoning and dialectics, and crucially, an open political position, afforded by simplistically narrow-framed blogs such as Higgins’ gives the corporate media class a malleable tool it can easily manipulate to bolster its propaganda.

The Ghouta debate again provides an example of the way in which narrow frames of reference are manipulated by corporate media to subvert logical reasoning and the lack of solid evidence. Higgins’ simplistic narrative conveniently dismisses the fundamental argument that the Syrian government – winning its fight against an internationally orchestrated and funded terrorist insurgency – had nothing to gain from using chemical weapons, and everything to lose, while the rebels in Ghouta found themselves in the exact opposite conundrum. Motive generally tends to be a sticking point in a court of law, but not even an afterthought in the puerile “courts” of the corporate media and its underlings. Higgins’ argument also dismisses the fact that prior to the August 21st attack, it was the Syrian government that invited the UN inspection team to investigate the use of chemical weapons, and then supposedly launched a massive chemical weapons attack a mere 15 miles from the UN teams base. Such logical reasoning is afforded no space in the conspiracy theories of Higgins and the corporate media, instead the discourse is filled with obfuscation, misleading tangents and speculation.

Supposedly independent minded bloggers and writers being co-opted by corporate media is by no means a rare occurrance, as the self-proclaimed “leftist” Owen Jones can happily attest to. Since Jones’ rise to fame and employment with the corporate-owned establishment newspaper the Independent, he has become the archetypal Fabian opportunist, preaching a reform-based bourgeois social democracy, while duplicitously portraying himself as some sort of socialist Marxist. Jones now deems it reasonable, no doubt civilised, that he should “no-platform” speakers at western anti-War events in order to marginalize anyone accused of having an unacceptable opinion to that of the dominant media class of corporate vultures. Jones has become a caricature of himself, more eager to spend his time promoting the UK Labour party on war-mongering podiums of the BBC (for a fee of course) and appease the corporate stenographers and celebrities he is surrounded by, than to hear – or, heaven forbid, sit beside – a nun from a war-zone in the Middle East that disagrees with western prescriptions and corporate propaganda.

To avoid the pitfalls outlined above, a totally new model of journalism is required, a model that is not designed, or even accepted, by the current dominant corporate media class. A model in which writers and journalists have the space and freedom to express their opinions in an open and forthright manner – discarding the charade of objectivity. A model in which publicly oriented media is free from the chains of corporate power, advertising, celebrity subversions, and, more importantly, monetary incentive.

Thus, the question remains: in a capitalist incentive-driven world, is journalistic freedom and honesty even attainable? Or is the omnipotent corporate-media-system and its inherent corruption an inevitable side-effect of the sickness that is Capitalism?

New Mint Press statement reveals Saudi pressure on reporter.

Following AP reporter Dale Gavlak’s attempt to disassociate from the Mint Press News report: “Syrians In Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack”  (see previous article for background here) Mint Press Editor in Chief Mnar Muhawesh published a statement in response reiterating her support for, and the credentials of, the two journalists involved, along with the substance of the report they had produced. The report in question included statements from residents and relatives of rebel fighters in Eastern Ghouta, who alleged that Saudi Intelligence Chief, Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, had supplied extremist elements in the  region with chemical weapons.

The Muhawesh statement went largely unnoticed in mainstream media, instead, the usual actors produced a variety of baseless lurid smears and conspiracy theories directed at Mint Press and Yahya Ababneh, the reporter on the ground in Ghouta, in transparent efforts to discredit them and the substance of the report.

One particularly vulgar conspiracy crafted by the BuzzFeed “journalist” Rosie Gray – reminiscent of crass attempts to play on orientalist stereotypes of “Iranian deception” abundant in civilised US media and diplomacy-speak – attempted to portray the Mint Press as bias fabricators, on the grounds of the Editors father-in-law being a Shi’a Muslim. In effect casting him and Mint Press as Iranian stooges intent on subverting the western-promoted falsehood that the Assad government ordered the alleged chemical attacks.

In recent weeks, corporate media has largely gone quiet on the whole affair. With the Russian-brokered deal to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles thwarting a determined effort by US hawks,  Likudniks, and Gulf monarchs to escalate the Syrian war; the push for overt US intervention has subsided, and along with it the incessant parroting of fantasy narratives and dubious “evidence” attempting to blame the Assad government for the alleged chemical attacks on August 21st.

Muhawesh, fearing for the safety of Dale Gavlak and Yahya Ababneh, has remained silent on the issue since the release of the aforementioned communication, but has now released a full statement outlining a timeline of events surrounding the report, which is reprinted in its entirety below, I urge all to read in full:

Dear readers,

I wanted to personally express my appreciation for your continued support and readership following our newsroom’s August 29, 2013 exclusive report titled: “Syrians in Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack.”

I’ve been silent until today out of concern for the safety of the journalists, Dale Gavlak and Yahya Ababneh, while we worked to bring clarity to their findings and ensuing events.  I’m relieved to now be able to share happenings of the past 60 days as Human Rights Watch addresses ongoing threats to co-author Yahya by Jordanian and Saudi actors in Amman, Jordan.

To be clear, my MintPress colleagues and I continue to stand by Dale and Yahya and their reporting. The tragic incident in Ghouta on August 21—and the Syria conflict as a whole—is complex and, as the article stated, some information could not be independently verified.  While efforts to discredit the story and our organization have disappointed us, we have been most concerned by the tremendous pressure placed on Dale by the Associated Press and more serious threats faced by Yahya.

Since the article was published, I’ve been in almost daily contact with co-author Yahya in Amman, Jordan.  He has related ongoing threats of imprisonment by the Jordanian police for his travel to Syria if he were to continue to report on this story or grant further press interviews.  Yahya has also described increasing pressure from Saudi actors to retract his story and the specific allegation by Ghouta residents of a rebel link to Prince Bandar.

In line with Dale’s description of Yahya as “a reputable journalist” to the New York Times, she distanced herself from the article only after stating in emails to MintPress that the Associated Press demanded her name be removed from the byline nearly two days after the article published.  She has not informed MintPress of the AP’s reason for this request—nor why they and National Public Radio (NPR), subsequently, suspended her.  For background on the situation, here is the timeline of events:


  • Feb 8: Freelance journalist Dale Gavlak—an Associated Press stringer for nearly a decade—joins MintPress News (MPN) as Middle East Correspondent and files her first of 26 weekly articles on regional news and politics.
  • Aug 28: Dale pitches the Ghouta story to her MPN editors.  She then conducts research, fact checks with colleagues and Jordanian government officials and writes up article based on interviews her reporter colleague, Yahya Ababneh, conducted a few days prior while on a delegation to Ghouta, Syria.  Dale files the story to MPN.
  • Aug 29: Dale emails with readers about the report after it is published at MintPressNews.com with the byline note: “This is a collaborative report by Dale Gavlak and Yahya Ababneh.”
  • Aug 30: Dale notifies MPN by email that editors at the Associated Press are demanding her name be removed from the article byline by end of day.
  • Aug 31: MPN cites editorial transparency for not removing Dale from byline and, instead, adds clarification of her exact role that now appears at top of article.
  • Sept 1: MPN receives letter from Dale’s attorney demanding it remove her name from byline completely.
  • Sept 3: Dale accepts payment from MPN for her role in the article.
  • Sept 12: Yahya informs MPN via Skype of first visit by Saudi actors.
  • Sept 13: Through legal counsel, MPN offers to remove Dale and Yahya’s names both completely from the byline and replace with the statement: “MintPress, in order to protect the authors of this story from any retribution or outside pressure, has removed the authors’ names from this story.  MintPress believes in the journalistic efforts produced by all of the parties involved in this story but does not want to see any harm come to any of the parties.”
  • Sept 20: Dale claims MPN “incorrectly used my byline” in a statement to bloggerBrown Moses.
  • Sept 21: Dale shares Aug 29 email to MPN on NY Times “Lede Blog”: “Pls find the Syria story I mentioned uploaded on Google Docs. This should go under Yahya Ababneh’s byline. I helped him write up this story but he should get all the credit for this.”  MPN’s Mnar Muhawesh makes her only public statement on the situation.
  • Sept 26: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov cites allegations in MPN report as evidence in talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry and in press interviews at the UN General Assembly.
  • Oct 7: Yahya notifies MPN that the United Nations commissioned him to present his witnesses for the UN Report on the Alleged Use of Chemical Weapons in the Ghouta Area of Damascus on 21 August 2013.
  • Oct 14: Yahya informs MPN via email of visit by Jordanian police: “i am ok, and they find two Saudi arabia one of them his name [REDACTED], he is a Salafi, I know him before, he try to find me and give me to KSA police in Saudi, they know an old police man (he retired) they still fellow, they ask me to make a statement which say opisit of the report about Bender”.
  • Oct 28: Yahya describes conversation with Saudi actors in email to MPN: “any way, they ask me to go to Saudi and say sorry, and talk to Saud TV live to tell them that i was under pressure when i was in Syria. they (my tribe) have a pressure too in Suad, they ask them in the borders and airport about me.”

We deeply sympathize with Dale and Yahya as they continue to endure pressures from interests seeking to silence their reporting.  Their courage, and that of many reporters before them, has emboldened MintPress to expose these threats to investigative journalism and has served to strengthen our commitment to in-depth reporting on social justice and human rights issues.

As an independent journalism startup that found itself embroiled in an international crisis, we’re grateful for the advice and assistance provided by experts at The Poynter Institute and Knight Foundation as well as International Federation of Journalists and Human Rights Watch.

Again, I appreciate your support and truly value your readership.  I welcome any questions about the report, ensuing events and our ongoing coverage of the Syrian conflict.

Best regards,

Mnar A. Muhawesh.

Editor in Chief, MintPress News.

It becomes immediately clear from the above statement that the fantastical conspiracies posited by BuzzFeeds’ Rosie Gray and former Guardian Editor Brian Whitaker, to name but two, were clearly based on nothing more than wild speculation in a vain and somewhat organised attempt to discredit the report; it is no coincidence Gavlaks’ disassociation statement was initially handed to Brian Whitakers eager protegé “Brown Moses”, aka Eliot Higgins, to promote right alongside his lead effort in touting dubious “evidence” pointing the finger at the Syrian army as responsible for Ghouta, much of which has now been thoroughly debunked.

The immediate questions then remain: why so much effort from establishment media players to discredit and smear? Why are elements of Jordanian and Saudi security services threatening Yahya Ababneh and his family, and attempting to force him to retract the statements he gathered in Ghouta if they are merely falsehood, or baseless planted rumour? And why did the AP and NPR suspend Gavlak even though she made (futile) attempts to disassociate from the report to save her career and her colleagues safety?

The logical answer is that those reflected negatively in Yahya Ababneh and Dale Gavlaks’ Ghouta report have something to hide, and are going to great lengths to keep it hidden.

Owen Jones & Mother Agnes. A lesson on conciliatory “leftists”.

Following the news that Mother Agnes Miriam, a nun who heads the Musalaha (reconciliation) initiative in Syria, was due to speak at the Stop The War conference in London, two journalists also due to speak at the event, Jeremy Scahill and Owen Jones, decided to withdraw participation unless Mother Agnes was removed from the speaking list. At the time of writing, neither “journalist” has offered to explain their act of public censure and decision to bolster Zionist-led smear campaigns; aside from a few tweets expressing their “concern” over sharing a platform with an evil Assad-supporting nun. It seems baseless conspiracy theories are more than acceptable in the higher echelons of “professional” journalism, as long as the target of said conspiracy is a supporter of an enemy state of the west and Israel.

The justification for this blatant act of censorship came in the form of a crass campaign of smear and character assassination. One primarily led by outright Israeli/Neo-Conservative propagandist-extraordinaire Michael D. Weiss, a former Director of a now defunct Zionist pressure group called Just Journalism, whose stated goals included focusing on “how Israel and Middle East issues are reported in the UK media.” Weiss, also a former fellow at the Neo-Conservative war-lobby “think-tank” the Henry Jackson Society, is now a lead rebel advocate pimping his “expertise” at Saudi Arabia/Hariri propaganda outlet NOW Lebanon – all whilst writing up US military intervention proposals for the Syrian opposition. It is also no coincidence that Mr. Weiss was a lead proponent of the fairy-tale narratives of one Liz OBagy, an utter fraud sanitizing the image of the rebels on behalf of a US State Department funded rebel lobbying group and the equally hawkish Neo-Conservative PR outlet The Institute for the Study of War. Needless to say, Weiss, and his cabal of pro-rebel Hariri propagandists and Zionist apologists are more than pleased at Jones and Scahill’s somewhat orchestrated decision to pressure Stop the War into dropping Mother Agnes.

Mother Agnes, according to the plethora of pro-rebel US and Zionist media accounts, is an evil “Assad apologist”. As a result of Agnes’ support of the Syrian government and calls for peaceful reconciliation, the Al Qaeda apologists rife within western and Israeli media took it upon themselves to instigate a campaign of hatred-filled smear and baseless accusation.

Since the onset of the Syrian conflict, Mother Agnes has made efforts to combat the skewed narratives emerging from corrupt western, Israeli, and Gulf Oil and Gas media – not least regarding the controversial issue of the alleged chemical weapons attacks in Ghouta, Damascus. Contrary to the smears, Agnes doesn’t deny people died during the incident, nor offer a complete alternative narrative. Her questions surrounding the event are entirely focused on the many inconsistencies and inaccuracies within the “official narrative” and the dubious YouTube videos touted as impartial evidence. It seems the CIA were also less than convinced of the US governments “assessment”; so much so that a mass resignation was threatened if their name was attached to John Kerry’s dodgy dossier. Furthermore, a considerable open source collaborative effort to determine the perpetrator of the alleged chemical weapons attack has drawn the logical, and somewhat scientific conclusion that only the rebels could have been responsible. In addition, the much politicised UN report that attempted to point the finger at the Syrian army has also come under much scrutiny from highly qualified avenues for its poor methodologies and misleading conclusions. Regardless of all the  above, the fact Mother Agnes actually resides in Syria, is the head of an organisation that has mediated between warring factions and enabled the safe evacuation of civilians, and consistently calls for peaceful reconciliation and dialogue, doesn’t count for much in the eyes of rabid western pundits eager to demonize anyone that dare question, or offer a counter narrative to their fabrication-laden fantasies on Syria.

The self-described “leftist” UK political commentator Owen Jones has written virtually nothing on the Syrian conflict. His understanding of events is largely based on the dominant narratives portrayed in western media. No doubt, like any self-respecting petty bourgeois leftist of London, Jones gets his information from the wests supposed liberal establishment newspapers, who in recent years have stood proudly alongside right-wing media in cheerleading for disastrous western-led wars of aggression. The conflict in Syria has been no exception, the Guardian’s totally skewed coverage,  that lends more from Whitehall/CIA/Mossad talking points than it does reality, has been well documented and debunked. Accordingly, Jones’ ideas on Syria fall in line with this narrative: yes, the “Islamist rebels” are BAD guys (meaning there are some GOOD moderate guys that nobody can find yet, or, in Owen’s case even name), but Assad is a dictator, a war criminal, “barbarous”, “he needs to go”. Any reflection on cause and effect; the long and relevant historical context of US-led subversion and instigation of terrorist insurgencies in the name of “revolution”; or the underlying geopolitical dynamics that helped to create and exacerbate the extremist-led insurgency is far too much nuance for Jones’ simplistic binary narratives: Assad is BAD, and anyone that supports the Syrian government or refuses to support its ouster through coercion or violence is also BAD, by definition. What then, do Jones’ simplistic definitions mean for the millions of Syrians that still support their President and government? Well, like the nun, they are obviously evil and severely misguided. I mean, what would they know, Living in Syria and all? This stance of vulgar superiority is indicative of the vast undercurrent of western bourgeois Orientalism which still oozes from the pores of western media and its decrepit “journalists” when their stance on “others” threatens to detriment their self-imposed “credibility”.

The informative blog “Interventions Watch”, explores Jones’ apparent moral confusion further:

Jones is a member and supporter of the Labour party, and thinks other lefties should be as well. As is hardly a secret, Labour is a party that plays host to plenty of major war criminals and apologists for those war criminals, but that apparently isn’t enough for him to want to part ways with them. Indeed, he has in the past quite happily appeared on platforms with John Prescott, who was deputy Prime Minister at the time of the aggression against Iraq – not just an apologist for war crimes then, but an active participant in them.

Yet this predicament seems completely lost on Jones. In one instance, he is a paid-up member of a UK political party that played a lead role in no less than genocide; in an act of military and economic aggression on Iraq totally against International Law, not to mention morality. He sits beside these politicians and pleads with leftist thinkers to join them and “change them from within”. A million or so Iraqi lives can be forgotten, there’s a few good eggs in this elitist manifestation of conciliatory Mensheviks, join us! But when it comes to possibly sharing a stage with a nun from Syria who happens to support her government and army in its fight against a foreign-funded, foreign instigated, foreign-led, and extremist dominated terrorist insurgency, Jones wont be part of it.

This bourgeois trait of selective free-speech through groupthink coercion is indicative of just how corrupt the western media system truly is. Supposed “leftist” anti-war commentators now feel they are an authority to dictate and pressure who should be able to participate in public events, and wilfully swallow the smears of Zionist propagandists rather than do their own research, or, heaven forbid, judge people on the content of what they are actually saying.

Evidently, Jones’ moral outrage is selective at best, one could convincingly argue its nothing more than careerist popularism – with a dash of orientalist superiority for good measure. Sure, sit next to war-criminals of “our” variety, you wont get smeared with the dreaded “apologist” brush in the elitist media you participate and benefit from – hell, most of their “barbarous” crimes are long forgotten, so not much to worry about. But sit next to a nun that supports a current enemy of the west? Forget it.

Stop the War have just released a statement confirming that Mother Agnes has “withdrawn” from the conference. Cheers to Zionist apologists of the apartheid state, propagandists of an Al Qaeda insurgency in Syria, and Owen Jones.

Syria analysts, impartial? Not likely.

As is evident with the vast majority of coverage on the MIddle East, the analysis used to bolster media narratives on Syria is predominantly derived from paid “think-tank” commentators posing as objective scholars. To the discerning reader, this dynamic of the mass media relying on dubiously attached “analysts” is in itself nothing new.

In an op-ed titled “The Sham Terrorist Expert Industry”  journalist Glenn Greenwald offers a compelling in-depth critique of the dominant clique of highly ideological “analysts” pervasive within the realm of US national security and foreign policy media. This “clique” – whose primary objectives are to propagate policies of the states or corporations that created the institutions they work for – has extended into the majority of western “analysis” on the Middle East, not least in regard to the Syrian conflict. Indeed, in many cases the analysts and supposed experts covering Syria are employed by the very same dominant institutions (WINEP, et al), and sit in the very same offices, as the frauds in Greenwald’s aforementioned article. The common talking points provided by this band of charlatans generally fall in line with the current of demonizing Muslim nations in general, in order to “other” the primary targets of western aggression; overblowing the threat of “Islamic terror” in the west to bolster the governing class’ “need” for oppressive National Security laws, solely designed to encroach upon the publics civil liberties and curtail the possibility of domestic dissent to the ruling systems; while advancing whatever bolsters US/Israeli geopolitical interests at any given time.

Yet, during the course of the Syrian conflict, this corporate analysis industry has exhibited an about-turn of discourse, and in stark contrast to the usually anti-Islamic propaganda utilised to bolster fabricated domestic “threats”; the “tailored analysis” of militia in Syria has been in the majority of a favourable approach. More often than not, such favourable analyses regarding opposition militants has been proven to be entirely false. What’s more, in some instances, it has become blatantly obvious that said think-tanks have gone to great lengths to mitigate the fundamentalist ideologies rife within the ranks and leadership of Syrian “rebel” forces.

The much publicised fraud Liz O’Bagy, offers perhaps the prime example of the war-lobby’s propaganda apparatus and its pervasive attempts to build support for the Syrian insurgency under patently absurd “secular freedom fighter” narratives. O’Bagy was formerly employed by the Neo-Conservative lobbying group posing as an objective conflict-analysis center called The Institute for the Study of War. A think-tank whose board of directors reads like a whos-who of past and present US military establishment. Moreover, the ISW’s main donors and “clients”, ie: those that ultimately determine the organisations output, are the biggest military contractors on Earth. It is these same “interests” that represent the direct financial beneficiaries of a possible US-led (overt) war on Syria. Regardless of the ISW’s ties to the military industry, O’Bagy was regularly paraded in western media as an impartial expert on Syria. Only once her fraudulent doctorate claims were exposed was any scrutiny placed upon OBagy or the outfit she worked for. Since then, the ISW continues to be portrayed as an objective source of analysis whilst O’Bagy has become the scapegoat for the whole sordid affair. Any serious investigation of the mendacious agenda at the ISW, and the State Department funded rebel-lobbying group the “Syrian Emergency Task Force” (SETF) has conveniently been forgotten.

In relation, and as evidenced in a detailed report by the Public Accountability Initiative, the military and corporate ties held by prominent commentators pushing for war on Syria became particularly blatant during the immediate aftermath of the alleged chemical weapons attacks. One such commentator, Stephen Hadley, a former national security adviser to George W. Bush, made a series of high-profile media appearances advocating US military strikes on Syria. On almost every occasion, the fact Hadley served as a director of Raytheon Corp. – the producer of the tomahawk missiles being prepared for use in a “strike” on Syria – and would therefore financially benefit from the imminent use of such weaponry, was totally omitted; giving the viewer the false impression of Hadley as an objective and experienced “National Security” expert.

Regularly quoted analysts providing sound-bites and “insight” regarding the Syrian insurgency in western media have invariably been employees of “think-tanks” with dubious ties to the military and corporate establishments of the west and Israel. This vested interest within analysis ostensibly portrayed as objective is not only prevalent in the higher echelons of the commentariat, nor is it explicit to coverage of critical junctures during the conflict. Rather, it is endemic throughout such analysis and feeds down to lesser-known beneficiaries: manipulable low-level employees and young interns keen to “get ahead” in the realm of “National Security” agitprop. In turn, think-tanks providing analyses that lend credibility to a desired corporate media narrative are promoted and given exposure, regardless of how many times such analysis is proven wrong – or worse still, proven as intentionally misleading.

The Washington institute for Near East Policy (WINEP, founded by AIPAC members including Martin Indyk, now of the monolithic US think-tank the Brookings institution) is arguably the most prominent example of the organised propaganda ubiquitous in western media coverage of the Middle East. Its board of directors exhibits a long history of US establishment Neo-Conservatives and Zionists alike. Described by Columbia University’s Professor of Arab studies Rashid Khalidi as the “most important Zionist propaganda tool in the United States”; WINEP employs a plethora of devout Zionists, US establishment figures, and promoters of the apartheid state with the specific intention of flooding US foreign policy discourse with a pro-Israeli bias. Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimers’ book: “The Israel Lobby and US foreign policy” gives a detailed account of WINEP’s methodology: “Although WINEP plays down its links to Israel and claims that it provides a ‘balanced and realistic’ perspective on Middle East issues, this is not the case. In fact, WINEP is funded and run by individuals who are deeply committed to advancing Israel’s agenda … Many of its personnel are genuine scholars or experienced former officials, but they are hardly neutral observers on most Middle East issues and there is little diversity of views within WINEP’s ranks.”

Accordingly, WINEP has been at the forefront of providing biased and skewed analysis that forms much of western media’s talking points on Syria. The self-described “Hezbollah expert” Matt Levitt (who has incidentally never spoken to a member of Hezbollah), lacking any credible evidence, has consistently exaggerated Hezbollah’s participation in the Syrian conflict. In similar vein, WINEP analyst Andrew J. Tabler has been published in western media relentlessly and has consistently advocated further US military intervention. It becomes once again evident that, in the context of Syria, WINEP’s general “analysis” has been built in order to bolster governing narratives required to undertake US/Israeli objectives, whether that analysis is sound, or not, is entirely irrelevant.

The oft-referenced Syria analyst Charles Lister, of IHS Janes’ “Terrorism and Insurgency Center” provides one such example of the corporate end of the spectrum. Lister is prominently touted in western media as an objective, informed source of analysis on rebel groups in Syria. Indeed, his twitter feed and sporadic articles give the impression he spends much of his time studying “rebel” groups in Syria for a benevolent and impartial “terrorism center”. However, contrary to this perception, Lister’s employer, IHS, describes itself as a “global information company… shaping todays business landscape” and promotes itself as “one of the leading global providers of critical technical information, decision support tools and related services to customers in the energy, defense, aerospace, construction and automotive industries,”. Again, and in accordance with the ISW’s military roll-call of directors; IHS Janes board of directors and investors reads like a who’s-who of western corporate special interest of past and present – from Goldman Sachs to Citigroup. To give this elite public relations company, its employees, and its offspring of “tailored information” the credence of objectivity is tantamount to blind stupidity. In line with the uniform analysis, Lister was a leading proponent of the “secular, democratic revolutionary” narrative, which he still upholds to this day. Although his analysis has become less anachronistic and he acknowledges the extremist ideologies and dominance within the rebels; Lister still refuses to abandon the fantasy of a “nationalist” uprising. This disingenuous western-promoted line of a nationalist and democratic militant insurgency morphing into an extremist-led war simply doesn’t stand up to serious scrutiny.

An example of the manipulable intern is provided by the analyst Aymenn AJ Tamimi, who has become a prominent source for media on the extreme factions in Syria. Concentrating on coverage of Da’wah and civilian “outreach” that Al Qaeda operatives Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) so kindly provide for the people of Syria, Tamimi primarily writes lengthy reports detailing ISIS’ efforts to learn from their mistakes in Iraq, and how ISIS are now determined to win “hearts and minds” through social programs and so forth. His analysis has consistently highlighted the small instances of ISIS success at avoiding alienating the Syrian communities which they invade and dominate. While providing a knowledgable, and what seems well-sourced overview of ISIS et al, from a supposed objective point of view, there is a distinct aversion to the many well publicised and brutal crimes the ISIS commit. For example; it seems odd that Tamimi, an oft-quoted expert on ISIS no-less, made no effort to analyse the Latakia massacres and mass-kidnappings that occurred in early August 2013. Indeed, any negative reflection of this whole event – led by ISIS no less – is almost entirely omitted from Tamimi’s analysis and impressive body of work. In comparison to his coverage of ISIS Da’wah, or “outreach” as he labels it, his coverage of ISIS crimes and atrocities is minimal. Moreover, Tamimi has relied on anonymous “ISIS sources” to form the backbone of much of his work; often resulting in a favourable or bias interpretation of events.

Tamimi is listed as “Shillman Ginsburg fellow” at the Middle East Forum (MEF), which for all intents and purposes is an outright Zionist/Neo-Conservative think-tank with a stated mission of “promot[ing] American interests in the Middle East and protect[ing] Western values from Middle Eastern threats.” In addition, the MEF outlines those “American interests” as being: “fighting radical Islam; working for Palestinian acceptance of Israel; robustly asserting U.S. interests vis-à-vis Saudi Arabia; developing strategies to deal with Iraq and contain Iran; and monitoring the advance of Islamism in Turkey. Domestically, the Forum combats lawful Islamism; protects the freedom of public speech of anti-Islamist authors, activists, and publishers; and works to improve Middle East studies in North America.” (emphasis added)

Upon reading the MEF’s mission statement, it again seems counterproductive for an overtly Islamophobic propaganda outlet allowing its fellowship interns enough freedom to portray ISIS and their affiliates in a favourable fashion. The MEF is affiliated to none other than raging Zionist/NeoCon Daniel Pipes, who has consistently called for heavier US military involvement in Syria. In April 2013 upon (falsely) assuming the “rebels” were winning the fight, Pipes demanded that an about turn was necessary and the US should actively support Bashar al-Assad in order to “guide enemies to stalemate by helping whichever side is losing, so as to prolong their conflict.” Pipes’ proposal, coincidentally of course, precisely reflects the “optimal scenario” of the Israeli military establishment. Again, it strikes as odd then, that an analyst who spends the majority of his time studying radical Islamic groups in Syria in such a favourable light gains fellowship at an institution headed by Zionist/Neoconservative Islamophobes.

These are but a few examples of a vast and sophisticated propaganda apparatus; built and paid for by global military and corporate institutions to consume the media discourse with preferential analysis and commentary. The “tailored analysis” to sanitize the image of the “rebels” in Syria has required the western/Israeli think-tank industry to engage in a lengthy period of cognitive dissonance.

There is a simple explanation for Zionists and NeoCons promoting and sanitizing Islamic extremists in Syria: the paymasters of Western/Israeli dominated think-tanks promoted in mass media hold a similar objective to that of the paymasters of the brainwashed extremists and criminals engaged in an insurgency being portrayed as a struggle for democracy; that common objective being the overthrow of the Syrian government and the subsequent destruction of the Syrian state. It has become an almost mainstream fact that Israel and Saudi Arabia – the latter being by far the largest supporter of the Salafi/Jihadi militia in Syria, nay, on earth – share many common objectives in the region; their mutual conflict and hostility toward the Resistance bloc, led by Iran, providing the fundamental platform for the increasingly close relationship between Riyadh and Tel Aviv.

The “Redirectional” policies of the United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia – designed to mitigate opposition to their regional dominance and bolster radical Sunni fundamentalist ideologues in order to attack their mutual enemy: the Resistance bloc of Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah – erroneously labelled “the Shi’ite crescent” – has made unlikely analytical bedfellows. Quite literally, apologists and propagandists of Zionists, Neo-Conservatives, liberal interventionists, and Al Qaeda no less, have all found common ground on Syria. Accordingly, this alliance has manifested itself in the uniform commentary provided by corporate public relations firms that dominate analysis within mass media.

The Guardian’s MIddle East Editor does Israel’s dirty work.

In a report titled “Hezbollah shows strain of Syria war”, The Guardian’s Middle East Editor Ian Black, explains to the reader that Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah “sounds more troubled than defiant when he talks about the Syrian war these days”. Black doesn’t offer the reader a link to Nasrallah’s latest speech to check, nor any translation off this supposed “troubled” tone, nor indeed a single quote. Instead Black offers the reader his own insight into the Hezbollah leaders mindset, bolstered by none other than Zionist agitprop extraordinaire: Matt Levitt. The Guardian also fail to disclose Mr. Levitts’ correct bio, or the fact he is employed by the propaganda arm of the Israel lobby (AIPAC), otherwise known as the Washington institute for Near East Policy, (WINEP).

It comes across as immediately contradictory, then, that Black follows this baseless assertion with a reminder that Nasrallah “lambasted” Saudi Arabia for trying to block a political solution in Syria. It’s almost as if Black is disappointed that his subject isn’t calling for further bloodshed. Not only did Nasrallah “lambast” Saudi Arabia, he pointed the finger at the Saud monarchy for the continuing violence, alluding to the Saudis proxy in Lebanon (March 14/Hariri), Nasrallah said: “All the events in Syria are tied to the events in Lebanon because there is a certain party that has linked everything in Lebanon to what is happening in Syria. They are disrupting political life as they wait for the result of the events in Syria to impose their own conditions.”

Further, in a more direct attack on the Saudis, Nasrallah states: “Saudi Arabia is angry with the way things are going in Syria and is seeking to disrupt and postpone the Geneva II Conference. Disrupting the political solution in Syria means more destruction, more victims, more killing.” Troubled, maybe, but a lack of defiance?

The Guardian report goes on to state that “Thousands of [Hezbollah] men have been deployed in Damascus, Deraa, Homs and Aleppo. Casualty figures are estimated at around 200 killed.” The vague number of “thousands” is a rather broad term, is it two thousand, or ten thousand? Mr. Black, nor the Guardian, have the faintest idea, but “thousands” sounds about right; the Israeli’s favourite American propagandist Matt Levitt told them no doubt. Black’s report claims the organisation is “fatigued and overstretched”, again, he doesn’t provide any evidence for this description, nor a name for the quote itself, it’s just an anonymous breath of fresh air that Black expects his reader to lap-up without question, the author is quite literally placing unattributable, baseless, fabrications to fit his desired narrative.

Black tells the reader that “blowback” has come to Lebanon, as a result of Hezbollah’s incursion into Syria, he again fails to add the relevant context that Lebanese/Syrian border towns had been attacked by extremist Syrian “rebels” for months prior to Hezbollah taking any action. Moreover, Black omits that Al Qaeda ideologues and extremists have used Lebanon’s porous border with Syria as a staging ground and logistics hub to launch the Syrian insurgency since virtually the first week of the crisis; feeding fighters and arms through sympathetic parties – including members of the March 14th alliance MP Okab Sakr and the assassinated former intelligence Chief Wissam a-Hassan to name but two. “Blowback” was indeed inevitable, whether Hezbollah made attempts to curtail this Saudi/Hariri arms pipeline to Al Qaeda in Syria, or not.

Without a single mention of the complete illegality of such aggression, Black then goes on to describe how Israel’s latest extra-judicial murder through air-strike is a “set-back” for Hezbollah, the sixth “raid” in the last few months no less! Aren’t those Israeli’s just great guys? Of course, the target – and we all know how well Israel hit their targets – were supposed SAM’s being transferred from Syria to Hezbollah. Again, not a scrap of evidence has been provided for this claim, or the airstrike itself, other than vague reports from opposition belligerents and eager-to-leak anonymous US “officials”. Equally disconcerting, Black fails to mention that even if such deliveries were being made to Hezbollah, the Israeli “raids” are still a total violation of International Law. Not only this, a surface to air missile system is zero “threat” to his beloved Israel, these systems serve one purpose: shooting things out of the sky. It is primarily a defensive weapon ostensibly used against attacking aircraft; you know, the Israeli aircraft that flaunt international law and bomb Arab countries and murder their civilians with impunity. In the Guardian and Ian Blacks’ eyes, such deterrence is a no-go, indeed, Black points out with glee the new possibilities the Syria conflict has provided the Israeli airforce: “The lesson is that the war in Syria, now in its third bloody year, makes it much easier for the Israelis to strike at Hezbollah without provoking a response. Nasrallah and Assad already have quite enough on their plates.” Blacks’ disguised pleasure in Israel’s new-found ease to bomb Arabs with impunity seems hard for him to conceal.

An equally fact-free assumption follows when Black states that: “Iran’s support for Assad [is] probably far more significant than assistance to the rebels from the Gulf states”. There are a multitude of things wrong with this vapid sentence. Does an editor often include “probably” when discussing such issues? Does Mr. Black provide any evidence that his assumption may be held in fact and not fantasy? And does Mr. Black realise, after three years of having the opportunity, that the Syrian Army and Government is a state-actor perfectly entitled to receive any support it requires from its allies? On the other hand, the “rebels” are a plethora of non-state extremist and criminal militia waging a terrorist insurgency upon a state and its infrastructure. Yet, for some strange reason, Mr. Black continues to place these two belligerents on some sort of moral and legal equal footing. Black attempts to bolster this blatant duplicity with a link to the recently released footage of Iranian revolutionary guards operating in Syria: This dubious “evidence” of “far more significant” Iranian assistance – even if proven – pales in comparison to the tonnes of footage of foreign fighters, and reems of reports on the foreign actors arming and funding the opposition to the tune of billions of dollars. It is virtually the first time in almost three years that IRGC personnel have allegedly been seen in Syria.

Black ends his Israeli propaganda fluff-piece by pitching “terrorist expert” Mathew Levitt’s latest book of fabrications and baseless speculation. Alluding to the marine barracks bombing of October 1983, Black tells us that the “US intercepted” a message (yes, you guessed it, the ever-trustworthy Middle East SIGINT of the US, aka: Israel) from the Iranian intelligence ministry to their Damascus ambassador: “It instructed Iran’s ambassador in Damascus, Ali Akbar Mohtashemi, to contact Hussein al-Musawi, the leader of Islamic Amal (a precursor to Hezbollah) and to direct him to “take spectacular action” against the Americans. The warning did not prevent the attack, which killed 241 US and 58 French personnel.” Contrary to this “precursor” narrative, and in spite of decades of strenuous Israeli/American efforts to tie Hezbollah directly to the marine barracks attack; there is zero evidence to suggest that Hezbollah as a formal group participated in the bombing. Black is once again playing loose with the facts. Musawi was indeed a founding member of Islamic Amal, a splinter group of the Shi’a Amal movement (an intermittent foe of Hezbollah) formed during the Lebanese civil war, and indeed, his group did pledge allegiance to Iran. Musawi himself later joined Hezbollah and served on the consultative council – before Israel assassinated him. Accordingly, there were several such Shi’a groups operating at the time of the civil war, most of which became part of Hezbollah prior to its official formation in 1985 – two years after the marine barracks bombing. Whether Musawi and others participated in the bombing and subsequently became members of Hezbollah is far too nuanced a point to include in this pathetic attempt to demonize Israel’s enemy.

Black’s article provides yet another example of how western Middle East Editors, when discussing the Arab world, invariably parrot Israeli propaganda with scant regard for relevant context or the facts.