David Graeber’s Homage to Rojava.

The imperialists and the ever-faithful Western “Lefts”, led by chronic NATO-cheerleading “Academic Anarchist” David Graeber and the effervescent celebrity-left cling-on Charles Davis, are attempting to appropriate the Syrian Kurds and engineer a situation in Syria very similar to events that occurred during the Spanish Civil War – both from the perceived propaganda angle with regard to the “Lefts”, and the concrete with regard to the imperialists. As a result of this ongoing deception, those who support Syria against imperial aggression are to be portrayed as obstructing an ostensibly “thriving democratic Kurdish autonomy”, or “Kurdish self-determination” in its supposed battle to create a libertarian anarchist eco-utopia in Northern Syria, and break free from the clutches of the “evil Assad regime”, or, as is otherwise known to adults still able to converse outside the lexicon of Orientalist bourgeois propaganda: the Syrian State and nation at large.

Contrary to the mythical fantasies of Graeber & Co., most Communists are fully aware that this supposed “autonomy” gained via the US military will never be achieved under the aegis of imperialism. It will only be usurped and used to further the reactionary goals of empire in dividing Syria and to further exacerbate the consequences of this reaction and impending subordination of the entire region.

Just as the opportunists and anarchists misunderstood the historico-material international characteristics of the civil war in Spain, followed their own utopias and chose to break with the united front and the republic against Franco’s fascism–they choose to oppose the right of nations – the Syrian nation and all its people regardless of their ethnicity – to self-determination by supporting the inevitable imperial domination and division of Syria such imperial “aid” to the Kurds will engender. In their shortsighted compartmentalized support of a “just cause”, the Western “Left” opportunists and poorly disguised social chauvinists once again support the road to reaction.

People may well “empathize” with oppressed actors seeking to acquire “impure assistance” [from US empire] but it is a Communists duty to expose that “impure assistance” as reactionary to the core, that it is antithetical to the material aims both of the oppressed actor forced into a condition of seeking to attain it and to the working classes and oppressed peoples of the wider region. US empire has never aided even the slightest progressive movement without it being in the US empire’s larger interests, which in turn are nothing but reactionary all along the line.

The “Lefts” could arguably sing: the Kurdish cause in Syria is a “just cause” based on the historical persecution they have undoubtedly received at the hands of the Syrian Arab ruling class, and therefore the Kurds “desiring impure US assistance” must be supported to achieve an assumed utopian future, but this is the argument of a one-sided simpleton. Would a Communist have ever advocated the oppressed Irish take the military or political “aid” – and equally therefore the domination – of the German Nazi’s to break the yoke of the British ruling class, to jump from the frying pan into the fires of hell?

The PYD will have no political authority over the “assistance” they are given by empire, as a result of receiving such aid they must become empire’s subordinates, in line with the Kurdistan Regional Govt in Iraq ruled by the NATO/Israeli clients of the Barzani clan. Again, the US will only aid the PYD and its military wing the YPG if that course of action furthers US imperial interests (hence the rabid support from the imperialist “Left” David Graeber), interests which are fundamentally opposed to the interests of the vast majority of the entire region, not least the vast majority of the Kurdish population. US goals in Syria are the break up of the Syrian State into antagonistic ethno-sectarian “mini-states” incapable of obstructing imperial (Western/Israeli) domination. This is not the road to the emancipation of the Kurdish working class, much less the working classes of Syria and the region. Yet it may well prove to be the road to “freedom” (imperial patronage) for a small minority of bourgeois Kurdish elements – as it has proven to be for the Barzani clan in Iraq – at the price of the enslavement of the majority of the population. The argument could well be made that life “under the regime”, would be no better, but this is an ahistorical blind assumption contrary to all the facts. Life for Syria’s Kurdish minority “under the regime” may well have been oppressive, but it was by no means the worst in the region, and nothing like the oppression minorities receive under US client regimes.

So, our dear “Lefts” end up once again appropriating the sections of the Kurdish Syrian community that mistakenly seek alliances with and aid from fascist US imperialism, by focusing on intermittent flare-ups with the Syrian army and anti-Assad elements from within the PYD, and those who aim to influence it in this direction from without, as the sole expression of the entire Syrian Kurdish community. (As it must also be noted here that the PYD is itself divided on its future path and fluctuating alliances, even as it engages in sporadic clashes with the Syrian army and localised militia of the National Defense Forces, and releasing bellicose denunciations of “Assad’s fascist forces”, there are nonetheless concrete local alliances on the ground elsewhere, not to mention the historic ties between the Syrian Ba’ath and the PKK/PYD leadership) Graeber & Co. are deceptively promoting the partition and weakening of the Syrian nation currently under vast imperial aggression and the imminent threat of reaction from all sides. They are further advocating the Kurds submit to US empire, to become its patsies in a war of aggression, its proxy enforcer against the Syrian army and State; they advocate the PYD succumb to an empire that has played a lead role in the persecution of the Kurdish community for decades upon decades.

It is important to stress that the US empire is not attempting to simply aid the Syrian Kurds’ quest for political autonomy; throughout the insurgency the US and its partners have used “ISIS” & Co. as a tool of coercion against the PYD in attempts to cause further cleavage between them and the Syrian State and to act as a conduit for US/Turkish contras. It is these “rebel” contras that viciously assaulted Kurdish communities ever since the PYD became detached from the puppets of imperialism in the “SNC” and refused to become part of the project against the Syrian State in 2012 – coincidentally, of course, when David Graeber & Co. were no doubt singing the praises of the very same “moderate” chauvinist Takfiris utterly opposed to any form of Kurdish self-rule. The US and Turkey have been very clear that any aid to the PYD would be subject to strict conditions, the principal condition being to abandon their neutral stance – by extension any possibility of Bookchin’s libertarian anarchist eco-utopia – and join these “rebels” against the Syrian army.

While the “Left” imperialists pretend the US is willing to “aid” the Syrian Kurds’ quest for this metaphysical “democratic libertarian autonomy” (or pretend that this is even a practical possibility under current conditions), empires’ Kurdish compradors attempt to usurp and coerce the PYD into an alliance with imperialism, with the ultimate objective of using them as a tool to irrevocably divide and disintegrate the Syrian nation, thus further weakening the entire region and its peoples ability to combat Western-Israeli imperial fascism.

The Western “Lefts” who advocate the Syrian Kurds subordination to the fascist American empire are not supporting Kurdish progression or “self-determination”, they are supporting imperialist reaction under the guise of Kurdish progression. And it is an unfortunate but necessary responsibility that falls upon Communists to remind the Kurds themselves who have been lured by this course of action and these reactionary alliances that they are mistaken in their choices, just as Barzani was mistaken in helping to create the cleavages that now form the puppet Kurdish petro-state of US and Israeli imperialism in Iraq.

It is a Communists duty (a Communist of any nation as we are internationalist in outlook, not philistine chauvinists who make concessions to our own imperial bourgeoisie under guise of supporting “their own chosen natives”) to warn the PYD and its supporters that seeking such “aid” from empire is a reactionary and dangerous policy and will lead to the further immiseration and oppression of the Syrian people, including the oppressed Kurds. Communists should just as surely recognise the historical roots of this antagonism and while lending support to the necessity for a unified Syrian front against imperial fascism to not become accustomed to forgetting to criticise and oppose the chauvinist elements within the Arab ruling classes and their oppression of the Kurdish population. It is about separating the two trends and determining a principled position on them both that forwards the objectives of the global working classes and oppressed people, from within the totality of the class struggle under the modes of production during the current epoch of imperial fascism.

Orientalism and the ISIS spectacle.

The Guardian’s resident “Marxist” Richard Seymour has provided us an opportunity to briefly expand upon the prevalent Orientalist narrative oozing throughout the vast majority of modern Western commentary on the Arab and Muslim world.(1)

To frame his latest feebly ambiguous opposition to NATO-bombs on Iraq, Seymour invokes a typically obfuscating perspective from “muted parts of the Left”. In these unspecified sectors of wrongheadedness, according to Seymour, “Leftists” are apparently in reluctant agreement with the recently commenced American airstrikes in Iraq – likely to extend into Syria –  ostensibly aimed at the fundamentalist insurgency, morphed into an existential threat now known as the Islamic State.

Precisely who these “Lefts” are, and what exactly constitutes their political persuasions within an ever-growing and ever-politically abstract demographic of Western “Lefts” remains a mystery. Are these “Lefts” Marxists, Social Democrats, Liberals, anti-imperialists? Or perhaps imperial core petty bourgeois Trotskyite opportunists such as the “socialist” cheerleader for NATO’s destruction of Libya Gilbert Achcar? Who knows, but the desired effect of endowing these pro-NATO characters so terrified in their suburban dwellings of the ISIS monster – “under their skin, infesting them” – with the abstract title of “Left” allows Seymour to portray them, and their pro-imperialist, pro-war, white supremacist “fear” of the Other Barbarian, their irrational and wholly uninformed “reason” for supporting the civilising mission, as something sensible, something to be quietly debated over a frappaccino slouched on a corduroy Starbucks sofa – as opposed to being vehemently rejected.

Of course Seymour’s pro-war “Lefts” are entirely fictional and built to provide him the opportunity to give his petty bourgeois white western liberal readership the luxury of self-identifying as the all-encompassing benevolent “Left”, while massaging their culturally racist affection for the fantasy of the Noble White Crusader destroying the Evil Arab Savage.

The principle that domination is indeed the ultimate motive of imperialism isn’t really touched upon, no totality of analysis is even attempted. Seymour may perhaps believe, as appears do his “Left” subjects, that US imperialism perceives ISIS – a paramilitary organisation the US itself played the principle role in creating and empowering(2)- as an imminent threat, rather than the reality of a strategic boon(3), and is intent on pursuing its God Given altruistic mission of Vanquishing Evil for the good of all mankind – humanitarian intervention(R2P). But surely no serious Marxist would entertain such subjectivist nonsense. Nevertheless, rather than expose this Orientalist spectacle and the civilising mission pretext it now affords imperialism, Seymour instead opts to furnish it, and proceeds to form his reductive analysis and “explanations” for the Islamic State with idealistic twaddle and Western media’s false premises.

The explanation then, for this somewhat rationalised “Left fear” and consequent support for American imperialism are the “monsters” of ISIS, and by offering this explanation all Seymour achieves is to justify the racist ideology underlying his Western “Lefts” agitprop-incited fear of ISIS and the false altruism masking Western imperial machinations. Of course as any serious analysis shows, the West has no real intention of destroying its Frankenstein ISIS, but merely corralling and manipulating it toward meeting strategic objectives.(4)

But how has this organisation of “monsters” come to be? And how has it been able to engender this supposedly justifiable fear within Seymour’s “muted Western Left”? First and foremost, according to Seymour, is the organisations apparent “widespread support within much of the population it seeks to rule”, support “gained on the basis of vicious sectarianism”.

“..whereas the jihadi ultras of the “war on terror” era were an unpopular, marginalised minority within the Iraqi resistance, always fought and opposed by the mainstream of the Sunni Arab insurgency, Isis succeeds because of the support it enjoys within much of the population it seeks to rule. And this support, be it noted, is gained on the basis of vicious sectarianism.”

And the alleged reason for Seymour’s assertion of widespread support is nothing but a regurgitation of US State Department propaganda, “President [sic] al-Maliki’s repression of Sunni Arabs is now driving an insurgency against his rule, from which Isis is gaining” says Seymour, and this one-sided repression is quite literally all that is offered as explanation for the rise of ISIS.

For at least 8 years, the US, and its Gulf Cooperation Council clients – primarily Saudi Arabia – have led a policy of bolstering “Sunni”(5) militants in the region to incite sectarian aggression against the perception of an expanding “Shia crescent” consisting of Iran, Syria and Hezbollah.(6) No account or even acknowledgement of this – the crucial context for the US’ latest bombing campaign and wider imperial strategy – appears in Seymour’s article. Not a single mention of the three-year NATO/GCC sponsored Wahhabi insurgency across the border in Syria, nor any word on tens of thousands of foreign fighters, thousands of tons of arms and billions of dollars thrown at ISIS and its intermittent “moderate rebel” allies and competitors.(7) Through this sweeping omission of vital historical context, Seymour’s analysis erases the concrete reality of the policy it purports to examine and instead relies on the rhetoric and propaganda of the spectacle being used to further it.

American or British bombs seem to offer a tempting short cut. This is what has always given “humanitarian intervention” its compelling ideological power: while we as citizens watch in horror, we know that there are powerful people in the world who could stop this without breaking a sweat.

Seymour thus successfully reduces the antagonism into an ahistorical idealist binary of a Sunni-Shia divide in Iraq, through which alleged Shia repression of the Sunni community has resulted in the “natural expression” of the Other: the Savage ISIS. Yet this crass assertion isn’t backed up by a single piece of evidence, it is undoubtedly based on the wretched reporting of Western media and the fantasies promoted to obscure ISIS’ material causes and real sources of influence, those being externally supplied money, fighters and weapons. ISIS and Co. rule the areas they invade through coercion and violence, not through the ridiculous idea of a “tech-savvy popular base”.

This false perception is further exposed by the fact a large contingent of ISIS fighters are not even Iraqi in origin, or Syrian for that matter. A recent report by the CIA(8) revealed that there are approximately 15,000 foreign fighters in ISIS ranks – a figure that has been consistently undercounted by the “experts” to maintain the fantasy of an indigenous uprising in Syria. This coincides with the Syrian Observatory’s latest death toll – often cited by western media & NGO’s – which tallied up to 15,000 foreign fighters killed in action in Syria. Put another way, that’s roughly 1000 foreign fighters for every month since the Syrian insurgency began. Are we supposed to believe all these fanatics took it upon themselves to travel to Iraq & Syria due to Maliki & Assad’s “sectarian policies”?

Contrary to the one-sided idealistic tales of Seymour and John Kerry, the simplistic portrayal of ISIS & Co. earning “grassroots support” simply through the Sunni community’s alleged persecution is entirely false and built to conflate foreign-sponsored militants and their collaborators with the whole Iraqi Sunni population, while shifting the blame for the massive expansion in militant fundamentalism into a reaction against the alleged oppression of “Shia regimes” and away from its chief protagonists: the Wahhabi clients of NATO imperialism.

Peddling sectarian narratives serve several purposes for the Western commentariat, a consistent example of which is provided by the Independent’s highly regarded Patrick Cockburn, who recently went as far as to suggest that “Sunni’s of Syria in areas under ISIS control prefer it to the Government”, an utterly wrongheaded and misleading sentiment that has been repeatedly debunked in the face of ceaseless propagation on behalf of Western and Gulf media for over three years. Yet these narratives persist as they are the primary ideological camouflage to hide external material causes.

In Syria for example, the oft-repeated refrain of a supposedly sectarian “Alawite regime” is largely made up of a Sunni merchant class. The “Alawite army’s” ranks are dominated by Sunni conscripts, along with Christians, Shia, and Druze. But the Assad government has been ceaselessly portrayed as a “sectarian regime” intent on suppressing the Sunni majority. The reality of course is the precise opposite, militant forces of the opposition are of a majority Salafi/Wahhabi fundamentalists, and this has been the case since the very beginning of the Syrian uprising(9) – if you are looking to blame anyone for the rise in sectarianism in Syria then you need look no further than the reactionary Wahhabi clients of Western imperialism.

Equally, blaming the “sectarian policies” of the Maliki government is just as hollow a narrative in the Iraq context(10); the US is responsible for installing the sectarian political system in Iraq in its attempts to divide nationalist resistance to its occupation and ongoing exploitation, a system in which the Maliki government was by no means an innocent bystander.

But the historical record shows that Maliki’s more recent attempts to reverse this destructive process, along with a multitude of other policies which upset US strategic ambitions, including his refusal to allow the permanent installation of US military bases; his governments close alliance with neighbouring independent Iran; their efforts to aid the Syrian government against the NATO-sponsored Wahhabi insurgency; and not least attempts to remove the vassals of the GCC from Iraqi politics–formed the real motives behind the US-Saudi-led campaign to incite Wahhabi fundamentalists against Maliki’s Shia dominated government. Maliki’s “sectarian policies” no doubt existed to an extent in reaction to the circumstances imposed upon it by the dominant aspect driving the antagonism; such policies came about as a result of both the historical legacy of the US occupation and the ongoing US-Saudi-led sectarian incitement and subversion, which in fact forms the historical “social base” for ISIS & Co.(11)

Cockburn and many others within the corporate media circus have continued to peddle these sectarian myths as a useful tool in idealizing the spectacle and extricating wider politics, more specifically culpable external actors. Although rightly regarded as one of the more sensible and rigorous journalists covering the Middle East, Cockburn is nonetheless just as susceptible to selling ahistorical reductive tales in what appear to be attempts at whitewashing or mitigating the role of Western imperialism; often putting repeatedly destructive Western policy down to “mistakes” in lieu of explanation for ceaseless aggression and decades of empowering reactionaries – supposed enemies of “Western Democracy”. The flip side being of course the compassionate West must now attempt to fix its mistakes by means of further intervention, and on and on it goes.

Such narratives are largely premised upon the white supremacist ideal that the Western imperial bourgeoisie inherently seek “progress”, or perhaps even “democracy” within foreign nations, as opposed to the fundamental characteristic of imperialism seeking political reaction all along the line(12). Contrary to Cockburn’s perception of benevolent imperialism, the US does not seek even “stability” within nations unwilling to submit to exploitative Western capital–it seeks their destruction, as has been historically proven time and time again. Yet this concept of “bumbling benevolent imperialist” persists and is drawn from an inability to see past the Noble Western Empire’s altruistic mythology and grasp the reality of a rapacious class destroying its competition.

Imperialism intentionally bolstered ISIS, its predecessors and intermittent Wahhabi allies, in the aim of setting them against Shia dominated political actors and states in the region opposed to US domination. It is now using the ISIS “threat” and spectacle as the moral pretext to both re-invade and divide Iraq, and reinvigorate its regime change and destructive agenda in neighboring Syria.

Instead of attempting to expose these policies in an international totality, Seymour & Co. aim to bolster the white supremacist mythology underlying the imperial civilising mission; on the one hand Seymour Others the Sunni population of Iraq as sympathisers of the ISIS Savage, a racist caricature dutifully embellished in all avenues of Western corporate media. On the other, by portraying “oppressive sectarian (Shia) regimes” as an even worse option than ISIS the entire region and its peoples are painted into a dystopian landscape of Savages and brutal sectarianism; accordingly, Noble Western Empire must save them from their own barbarity.

Moreover, by blaming Iraqis for the barbarism imposed on them externally, Seymour & Co. successfully extricate imperialism from its principal culpability in fomenting and sustaining sectarian antagonism in the Middle East. It therefore needs repeating that ISIS in Iraq is but a continuation of the imperialist-sponsored insurgency in neighboring Syria and the longstanding support to militant fundamentalism preceding it. The states acting under the autonomy of US imperialism responsible for arming and funding said insurgency hold the same principal objectives in Iraq as those pursued in Syria for the last three years, namely: the destruction of state sovereignty; weakening the allies of an independent Iran; the permanent division of Iraq and Syria along sectarian lines establishing antagonistic “mini-states” incapable of forming a unified front against US/Israeli imperial domination.

 

Notes:

1.) Bombs wont solve the ISIS problem – Richard Seymour: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/15/bombs-isis-beheadings-iraq

2.) How the West created the Islamic State – Nafeez Ahmed: https://medium.com/@NafeezAhmed/how-the-west-created-the-islamic-state-dbfa6f83bc1f

3.) ISIS: an expression of imperialism in Iraq: https://notthemsmdotcom.wordpress.com/2014/06/18/isis-an-expression-of-imperialism-in-iraq/

4.) US Intervention Is Not Humanitarian and Will Not Protect the People of Iraq – Sami Ramadani: http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2014/ramadani080814.html

5.) While consistently referred to as “Sunni” within Western and Gulf media it should be stressed that the ultra-conservative strains of Islam practiced by the majority of both “moderate rebels” in Syria and their overtly fundamentalist counterparts within ISIS, Al Qaeda, Jabhat al Nusra et al, are of the Wahhabi/Salafi doctrine and largely rejected by the majority of practicing Sunni muslims outside of the reactionary Gulf Kingdoms where such doctrine is enforced. By applying the Sunni label, authors such as Seymour enable the crude conflation of ISIS & Co. with the indigenous population, furthering Orientalist dehumanization and false sectarian narratives.

6.) The Redirection – Seymour Hersh: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2007/03/05/the-redirection?currentPage=all

7.) How Saudi Arabia helped ISIS take over the North of Iraq – Patrick Cockburn: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/iraq-crisis-how-saudi-arabia-helped-isis-take-over-the-north-of-the-country-9602312.html

8.) CIA says ISIS numbers under-estimated: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/09/cia-triples-number-islamic-state-fighters-201491232912623733.html

9.) The Reactionary Essence of the Syrian Insurgency: https://notthemsmdotcom.wordpress.com/2014/01/07/the-reactionary-essence-of-the-syrian-insurgency/

10.) Nouri al-Maliki: the scapegoat in Iraq -Ali Raza: http://lubpak.com/archives/315192

11.) The strange case of Nouri al-Maliki – Eric Draitser: http://journal-neo.org/2014/07/03/the-strange-case-of-nouri-al-maliki/

12.) Imperialism and the Split in Socilaism – V.I. Lenin: https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1916/oct/x01.htm

Western left-opportunism, and “denying agency” in Syria.

Having last week expounded upon the duplicity of the western “liberal lefts” position on the imperialist-sponsored fascist coup in Ukraine, a particularly egregious example of the same petty bourgeois sophism so pervasive within western civilised dissent has once again reared its ugly head. In what can only be described as emo agitprop, the western petty bourgeoisie’s flagship of misinformation and imperialist propaganda recently published an article on Syria by self-proclaimed “leftist Artist” Molly Crabapple.

The article covers a demonstration organised by an anti-government Syrian activist, who has chosen to read the names of 100,000 victims of the Syrian war standing outside the White House for 72 hours. The intended symbolism of such a demonstration is quite difficult to ascertain, particularly considering a sound historical analysis shows that western imperialism – ergo: the White House – bears huge responsibility for the deaths of those very people now being used to “guilt” the western public into supporting some form of further “action” against the Syrian state – meaning, (overt) US military intervention, NATO freedom-bombs, etc. Moreover, it seems that both Crabapple and her subject have forgotten, or are intentionally omitting the fact that over half of those victims met their deaths at the hands of the western/Israeli/wahhabi monarch-sponsored fundamentalist dominated militia; the very same militia Crabapple is now lionizing as “revolutionaries”.

Naturally for the Guardian, the narrative fulfills the many western falsehoods propagated on behalf of the reactionary insurgency since it began, by doing so, it provides an opportunity to expand upon and expose the role that western left-opportunism has played in buttressing said falsehood throughout the Syrian crisis. Further still, it provides a chance to counter the twisted theories and phrasing being used to attack anti-imperialists and anti-revisionists from within the western petty bourgeois “celebrity-left” camp, through which Crabapple and Co. postulate the absurd notion that westerners with the tendency to focus on the role of western imperialism represent “perverse Orientalists”.

Barring the usual “40 year dictatorship” slogans so typical of the deluded and self-righteous cheerleaders of western bourgeois “democracy”, the historical context for Crabapple’s Syrian “revolution” is built via the rosy portrayal of a wave of protests that “swept the world”. In Syria, a “police state and neoliberal reforms” are the central material factors used to explain the crisis.

These puerile simplifications are employed to distort and minimise the primary role of western predatory imperialism, either that, or simply through blind stupidity and laziness. In such a decontextualised analysis, there is no space available to document the years of western-led economic sanctions and subversion; nor is any space permitted to analyse the sociopolitical effects of the five-year drought that had decimated Syria’s agricultural industry prior to 2011 – causing widespread impoverishment to the disaffected rural sections of society. There is no economic analysis whatsoever. More importantly, there is no space afforded to document the decades of western support and collusion with Saudi Arabia’s sponsorship of ,ilitant fundamentalist ideologues, with the direct aim of unleashing them and their sectarian hatred upon Syria (or any other target in the region, see: Libya, Hezbollah, Iraq, etc) when political needs required; no space is given for the direct sponsorship of western imperialism toward the ex-pat “SNC” puppet administrators travelling between hotel suites in Ankara, Doha and Riyadh, or the thousands of US State Department-trained “activists” and NGO workers flooding media and commentary with false or bias accounts, staged photos and misinformation. Any critique of the western corporate media, and its complimentary “tailored analysis” industrys disgraceful servitude to western government narratives is completely omitted – regardless of the fact that both form essential components of modern “soft” imperialism.

To suggest western imperialism has invested in any of these individuals, policies or organisations with any sort of altruistic intention is comparable to suggesting over sixty years of historical evidence to the contrary is worthless; negating any value in historical materialism and dialectics. Omission of context and crude historical revisionism are entirely deliberate and further prohibit the prospect of reaching a sound political or moral examination of events and their evolving processes. Dialectics, logic, critical distance and contradictory evidence are replaced with emotionally driven narrow-framed discourse to remove the wider context – therefore western culpability – and form the false depiction of a “popular peaceful uprising versus despotic regime”.

Crabapple informs us that “it took four months for Syria’s protests to become an armed insurgency”. This blatant lie is a most crucial one in upholding western Imperialisms false narrative on Syria. Yet, as we shall see, while the celebrity-lefts continue to blindly recycle the lie, it has long been refuted, in even the most loyal organs of western imperialism itself.

Once the underlying causes of the crisis have been distorted beyond any semblance of reality, whitewashing the “rebels” and their imperialist sponsors’ role as the instigators and primary actors responsible for excacerbating the crisis, Crabapple then attempts to bolster the false distinctions between the supposedly moderate and extremist rebel groups with the double fabrication that Al Qaeda took six months to enter the fray, and that Saudi Arabia took twenty months to “officially” start supplying arms; thereby portraying the fundamentalists emergence at around February to March 2012.

This is quite the perversion, and once again can only be interpreted as pure stupidity, or outright disingenuity in the aim of furnishing the imaginary “secular moderate freedom fighters” with unwarranted moral platform.

Contrary to such crude and uninformed analysis, and long known by anyone paying attention, the dominant proto-Salafi militia, such as Ahrar-al Sham – who form the vanguard of the insurgency throughout, and are inextricably linked to both overt Al Qaeda elements and ostensible “moderates” in thrall to Imperialism – openly admit to planning a violent insurgency before any protests in Syria began. These militia, sharing much in common with their overtly extreme counterparts, were most certainly active in the first weeks of the crisis, as evidenced by the oppositions own death-toll accounts: the one hundred-plus Syrian soldiers and police killed during March-April 2011 alone belies the fantasy that the violence erupted simply through state oppression of peaceful protesters.

Further contradicting the “peaceful protester-moderate rebel” narrative, corresponding incidents of organised violence against state security became widespread by the middle of 2011 (see: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here), the massacre of 120 soldiers in Jisr al Shugour (20 miles from the Turkish border) in June 2011, provides but one prominent example. Either Crabapple is oblivious to all this, or is deliberately omitting it for the same reasons listed above. In attempting to skirt the issue, Crabapple regurgitates the evidence-free conspiracy theory that the soldiers were executed by their own superiors for refusing to fire on protesters, further dehumanizing the Syrian army.

Another critical falsehood follows, and one that has been endlessly spewed to form unwarranted moral platform in the face of compelling contradictory evidence. Crabapple claims that “crimes are committed on all sides. But only the Assad regime, with its superiority of force … could kill on the scale and with the consistency that turned war crimes into a tactic of war.” Again, this is a blatant lie and distortion of the facts. The theory that the Syrian airforce’s bombardment of rebel encampments in civilian zones equates to a larger percentage of the death toll is complete logical fallacy void of any material evidence. The opposite is in fact true: according to the US Chief of Staff, 90% of deaths in Syria have been incurred by gunshot or ground-to-ground artillery; weapons which the rebels have had, and used in abundance since the early stages. It has been amply documented that every stage of western, Turkish or Gulf initiated military support to the rebels has resulted in a huge increase in both the death-toll, and civilian displacement – most notably in the period between late 2011, when Russia and China made it clear they would block any Libya-style No Fly Zone attempts, and July 2012, when the CIA and Gulf states dramatically increased the arms shipments to rebels.

Death tolls provided by anti-government activists such as the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) – used as a principal source for western media, the UN, and western humanitarian “NGO’s”, no less – show it is the fundamentalist rebels that are likely responsible for the majority of killing. In its latest tally, the SOHR claims that 55,000 Syrian army and national defence force personnel have been killed during the conflict, accounting for almost 40% of total deaths, whereas rebel deaths – including 10,000 foreign fighters – amount to 33,000, accounting for almost 25% of the total, leaving roughly 50,000 civilian deaths, or 35% of the total.

Using these figures; if one were to equally divide the civilian deaths between government and opposition forces, then the “revolutionaries” would be responsible for close to 80,000 people killed, or around 55% of the total – unless of course one were to posit the absurd theory that thousands of disparate fundamentalist militia have the ability to kill twice as many professional soldiers than they lose, while avoiding a considerable toll on civilians within the urban zones they invade and militarize.

The equally false portrayal that a majority of Syrians oppose the government is omnipresent throughout such commentary, and of course, this is another blatant lie. An example of just how far-removed from reality this perception is was exposed way back in January 2012 – at the height of domestic anti-government sentiment and western agitprop – when a Qatari-funded YouGov poll found that 55% of Syrians,  a massive majority considering the political conditions, still supported the government. This majority has undoubtedly continued to rise as the conflict has dragged on, primarily as a result of the barbaric practices employed by the rebels in civilian areas they encamp, ethnically cleanse, militarize, and generally terrorize the remaining inhabitants of – a sentiment further intensified through the prolonged incompetence of the ex-pat puppets in five-star hotels, elevated to the lofty position of “the sole representatives of the Syrian people” by virtue of imperialism alone. Needless to say, the poll and its results were completely whitewashed from the western media narrative and was most observantly ignored by the western petty bourgeois opportunists, who find themselves parodying William Hague when claiming to speak on behalf of the “Syrian people”.

Based on the fact a majority of Syrians support the government, and would therefore face the wrath of the fundamentalist rebels rather than the army they see as protecting them, a fact which is further evidenced by the vast majority of internally displaced people fleeing “rebel liberation” for the refuge of government safe-zones; then the wilful misrepresentation of the death toll becomes evermore deplorable. It can only be explained by Crabapple and the opportunists being so indoctrinated by their own narrow parameters and dehumanizing terminology; they simply don’t see the tens of thousands of dead Syrian soldiers, their families, and the majority of Syrian civilians who support the government as people worth accounting for. Crabapple and the pseudo-lefts in turn defile the victims of the wahhabi mercenaries and imperialism in Syria by attempting to blame their fate on the very actors protecting them, effectively turning the victim into the oppressor. The only other explanation is, once again, blind stupidity.

Over and above, it has long been known that western special forces, alongside Gulf, Jordanian, Lebanese factions allied to Saudi Arabia, and their Turkish and Israeli counterparts, have been actively conspiring with, and militarily supporting, what are essentially fundamentalist militia – to the tune of billions of dollars and thousands of tonnes of arms. It is these actors accountable for setting in motion a violent insurgency via the fundamentalist proxies they had been fomenting since at least 2006, and now continue to do so without even the pretense of plausible deniability.

The argument the pseudo-lefts are now attempting to throw at western anti-imperialists is one of utter opportunism and deception. Crabapple mimics Zizek (and other servants of bourgeois intelligentsia), and asserts that the emphasis on predatory western imperialism’s role when analysing conflicts and crises abroad – the emphasis espoused by westerners no less! – is in fact a “perverse kind of Orientalism” that removes and belittles the “agency” (another delightful abstraction implanted into petty bourgeois leftist discourse) of indigenous people.

How damning one might say, but where does this “logic” end? For instance, if one opposed the imperialist rape of Iraq, then did one oppose the “agency” of Ahmed Chalabi and all the other reactionary cretins who allied with western imperialism? Did they who opposed the imperialist destruction of Libya – whose position has now been fully vindicated, despite the grotesque doublespeak of Bernhard Henri Levy and his acolytes – “deny the agency” of Al Qaeda, Salafi warlords and the criminals now running riot and destroying the remnants NATO left behind?

The glaring contradiction is lay bare with the aid of a further simple example that may especially perplex the western opportunists who feign support for Palestinian Resistance: if one opposes the occupation and ethnic cleansing of Palestine, is one opposing Zionist “agency”?

Applying this “logic” to the Syrian question, if western anti-imperialists “deny the agency” of Syrians by opposing a fundamentalist-led insurgency sponsored by imperialism, then what exactly do the opportunists deny when ignoring the majority of Syrians that oppose the wahhabi revolutionaries!? In the western liberal-left equation, this majority of Syrians simply don’t exist, they have no “agency” worth even considering, let alone their right to self-determination. The opportunists are in fact misrepresenting said “agency” they hold in such high esteem by falsely portraying a minority of localised dissent, alongside a fundamentalist insurgency orchestrated and sponsored by western imperialism, as representative of the entire Syrian population. The opportunists accuse us anti-imperialists of Orientalism and “denying agency” while committing the very act! A case of pure cognitive dissonance, or simply a feeble attempt at creating confusion.

Such fallacious arguments and semantic trickery is employed in the vain attempt to shut down critical analysis that does not abide by western bourgeois political ideology and partisan agenda. In reality, it is the western pseudo-lefts who act as the agents of western imperialism, betraying self-determination and the foundations of internationalist socialism. To engage in such pointless obfuscation and theorizing is to deliberately obstruct simple material fact, historical dialectics, a “ruthless criticism of all that exists” and the correct examinations and conclusions to be drawn in the international sense.

Lenin was forced to spend great energy in combatting the same strands of left-opportunism one hundred years ago, rightly describing it as “the principle enemy within the working class movement”. The modern celebrity-lefts’ distortions and twisted theories represent nothing more than the vile opportunism witnessed within the socialist parties during the outbreak of WWI, when the so-called Marxists chose to side with their national bourgeoisie against the bourgeoisie and the working classes of hostile nations. The European opportunists who chose to employ the catchphrases of social chauvinism and act as the agents of their own bourgeoisie in “defending the fatherland” are today reflected by the western petty bourgeois “socialists” and “leftists” that endlessly obscure the international characteristics of modern capitalism and its inevitable antagonism, in turn diminishing the pre-eminent role, and therefore culpability, of western imperialism.

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?

Syria: The Army of Islam; Saudi Arabia’s finest export.

Recent developments regarding “rebel” groups inside Syria have shed further light on the ideologies and political aims of the militants waging war upon the Syrian state.

On the 24th September, under the moniker of the “Islamist Alliance”, 11 of the largest and most recognisable rebel brigades – a mix of supposed “moderate Islamists” such as Liwa al-Tawhid, the largest “FSA”-branded brigade in Aleppo, alongside more hardline Salafi/Jihadi brigades such as Ahrar al-Sham, and Al Qaeda ideologues Jahbat al-Nusra – released a joint statement denouncing the western-backed expatriates of the “National Coalition” (NC), along with its equally impotent military arm, the “Supreme Military Council” (SMC). Following this statement of intent, on the 29th of September, up to 50 rebel groups operating primarily in the area of Damascus merged to form Jaish al-Islam (Army of Islam). The Damascus merger also included a wide-ranging demographic of militant groups, from the supposed “moderate”, to overt Salafist hardliners. Jaish al-Islam is dominated by Liwa al-Islam, a large rebel group formerly of “FSA” branding, and led by Saudi-backed Zahran Alloush. Liwa al-Islam were also a signatory to the aforementioned statement of denunciation toward the western-backed political opposition.

These announcements have effectively put-to-bed the western propagated myth that was the “Free Syrian Army”. Militant groups the west ostensibly touted as “secular moderates” yearning for “freedom and democracy” from a tyrannical regime; have now openly declared their Salafi/Jihadi fundamentalist ideology, with the ultimate aim of creating a Syrian state ruled by Islamic law.

Already, these announcements are being portrayed as an attempt by Saudi Arabia – yes, ever tolerant and inclusive Wahhabi-preaching Saudi Arabia – and other leading Salafi factions supporting the insurgency to steer “vetted, or moderate Salafi” rebels away from the Al Qaeda aligned groups; particularly the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), who are now portrayed as simply “foreign jihadists” and have become the leading fall-guy in Western and Gulf media for every atrocity committed by the rebels. This false perception has been built as a result of a Western and Gulf initiated public relations campaign to “moderate” the image of the Salafi/Jihadi fundamentalists (aswell as those more inclined to basic criminality, killing, and destruction) who may be more willing to meet the requirements of their Gulf donors and the United States. Yet, contrary to this divisive narrative, the same “moderate” Salafi’s who are now supposedly being encouraged to  disassociate from their Al Qaeda affiliates have happily fought alongside – more often than not as a junior partner – the West’s supposed “number one enemy” (AQ) since the insurgency began in 2011.

In further contrast to the aforementioned “Awakening” narrative, Jabhat al-Nusra (JaN) – the Syrian branch of Al Qaeda ideologues – are still very much in the mix. Although various pundits and analysts have made efforts to publicise tensions between ISIS and JaN, the two groups still share a similar Jihadist ideology and cooperate in key areas, particularly on paramilitary operations; as do the hardline Salafi groups such as Ahrar Al-Sham, who in turn fully cooperate with the western friendly “moderates” forming the backbone of Jaish al-Islam. In the recent ISIS takeover of the “FSA” held town of Azaz from the western-friendly Northern Storm brigade (of John McCain fame), Liwa al-Tahwid quickly offered to broker a ceasefire and acted as interlocutor between the two warring factions. ISIS in turn, rejected any “FSA” authority and have since taken control of the town – not that Liwa al-Tahwid could have stopped them anyway. These events directly contradict the notion that the new “Army of Islam” is in any rush to disassociate, let alone be able to wage war upon the ISIS or its extremist affiliates. Moreover, the leader of Jaish al-Islam, Zahran Alloush, publicly disowned his own “captain” after he warned ISIS there would be open conflict if they “continued this chaos”. The leader claimed that the comments were “dangerous” and designed to “cause strife between muslims”.

Furthermore, in a recent interview with Al Jazeera, Alloush, free of his “moderate” chains, lets loose on his ideals for a future Syria, in which he aspires to resurrect the Umayyad Empire (2nd Islamic Caliphate with Syria at its core and Damascus as its capital), and “cleanse” Damascus of “Majous” (pejorative Arabic term for Iranians) “Rafideh” (Shi’ites) and “Nusayris” (Alawites). Rebel leaders openly espousing sectarian rhetoric has been a running theme throughout the conflict; in line with this trend, Alloush’s statement can be taken as a clear indication that his new “Jaish al-Islam” is not in the least bit concerned with abiding by a western-friendly moderate image. Alloush, like the majority of rebel leaders, is a fundamentalist Salafist, who looks on at the minorities of Syria as kafir (unbelievers) who must submit to his interpretation of Salafi Islam or be killed.

The western/Gulf media narrative surrounding this new “Islamist Alliance” is a re-hash of failed PR campaigns of the past, which attempted to mitigate the inherent fundamentalist ideologies of the insurgents waging war upon the Syrian state. In stark contrast to the Caliphate-inspired visions held by the majority of rebel leaders, Syria has been a pluralistic secular society for decades, the majority of its Sunni muslim population are conservative and have coexisted peacefully alongside the many other religions and ethnic minorities that make up Syria’s diverse society, history, and culture. The people of Syria do not aspire to a Saudi sponsored Salafi/Wahhabi leadership or doctrine of law. Contrary to the popular narrative emerging in western and Gulf media that this new force will represent an indigenous “moderate Islamist” coalition capable of taking on the foreign elements and Al Qaeda, the majority of Syrians will be repelled by the sectarian language and ideologies of Zohran Alloush; his groups overt affiliations and pandering to Al Qaeda ideologues; and his “Army of Islam”.

Considering the above context, the narrative of home-grown Salafis somehow being more amenable to the Syrian population than their ISIS/JaN fundamentalist colleagues becomes even less tenable. Alloush’s formation of Jaish al-Islam, alongside the “Islamist Alliance” denunciation of the western-backed political opposition, show a marked shift of the insurgency further toward the Al Qaeda ideologues fighting the Syrian regime, not further away from them.

Syria: Controversy surrounding MintPress Ghouta report.

On Friday 20th September, the corporate media’s favourite “YouTube Syria analyst” and self-proclaimed “weapons expert” Eliot Higgins – aka “Brown Moses” – released a statement on his blog from the now infamous Associated Press correspondent Dale Gavlak; in response to his queries regarding the equally infamous MintPress article that included her byline. The MintPress article, published on 29th August, through interviews with rebels, family members, and villagers in Eastern Ghouta, alleges that elements within the opposition were responsible for the alleged chemical weapons attack on 21st August, and that those chemical munitions had been supplied through Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan.

Below is the statement as published on Higgins’ blog in full: (emphasis added)

Mint Press News incorrectly used my byline for an article it published on August 29, 2013 alleging chemical weapons usage by Syrian rebels. Despite my repeated requests, made directly and through legal counsel, they have not been willing to issue a retraction stating that I was not the author. Yahya Ababneh is the sole reporter and author of the Mint Press News piece.   To date, Mint Press News has refused to act professionally or honestly in regards to disclosing the actual authorship and sources for this story.

I did not travel to Syria, have any discussions with Syrian rebels, or do any other reporting on which the article is based.  The article is not based on my personal observations and should not be given credence based on my journalistic reputation. Also, it is false and misleading to attribute comments made in the story as if they were my own statements.

Following the release of this statement a flurry of questions arose, and Gavlak’s lawyer proceeded to send a second statement to Higgins’ blog to clarify Gavlak’s position and answer his queries: (emphasis added)

Dale Gavlak has sought to make a public statement from the beginning of this incident and now is able to do so.  Email correspondence between Ms. Gavlak and Mint Press News that began on August 29 and ended on September 2 clearly show that from the beginning Ms. Gavlak identified the author of the story as Yahya Ababneh, a Jordanian journalist. She also made clear that only his name should appear on the byline and the story was submitted only in his name. She served as an editor of Ababneh’s material in English as he normally writes in Arabic. She did not travel to Syria and could not corroborate his account.

Dale Gavlak specifically stated in an email dated August 29 “Pls find the Syria story I mentioned uploaded on Google Docs. This should go under Yahya Ababneh’s byline. I helped him write up his story but he should get all the credit for this.” Ms. Gavlak supplied the requested bio information on Mr. Ababneh later that day and had further communications with Mint Press News’ Mnar Muhawesh about the author’s background. There was no communication by Mint Press News to Ms. Gavlak that it intended to use her byline.  Ms. Muhawesh took this action unilaterally and without Ms. Gavlak’s permission.   After seeing that her name was attached to the article, Dale Gavlak demanded her name be removed. However, Ms. Muhawesh stated: “We will not be removing your name from the byline as this is an existential issue for MintPress and an issue of credibility as this will appear as though we are lying.” Mint Press News rejected further demands by Dale Gavlak and her legal counsel to have her name removed. Her public statement explains her position.

Following this statement, even more questions and contradictions arose, as it had previously been inferred Gavlak had little to no involvement in the article by Higgins’ and several of his corporate media colleagues. Gavlaks’ line had now changed to include in her statement that she “helped write-up” Ababneh’s story. Not only this, but Gavlak was responsible for pitching the story to MintPress News under her own volition. Gavlak received the report from her colleague, Yahya Ababneh, whom she has worked with before. Gavlak then proceeded to translate, edit, add background research, and crucially: pitch the story to MintPress News. Following MintPress receipt of the report, Gavlak then made further communications to verify her colleague Yahya Ababneh and to vouch for his reporting. MintPress news published the report on the same day, and it almost instantly went viral.

Since the reports release, much speculation has been focused on the veracity of the reporters involved and the substance of the report itself, yet it has taken Gavlak three weeks to publicly respond – at which point she chose Higgins’ blog to release the statement while adding comments under several other blogs that carried the story. Following Gavlak’s statement release, and after several attempts by myself and many others to contact MintPress News, MintPress editor Mnar Muhawesh in turn released a lengthy statement that defines their position in no uncertain terms: (emphasis added)

Thank you for reaching out to me in regards to statements made by Dale Gavlak alleging MintPress for incorrectly attributing our exclusive report titled: “Syrians in Goutha claim Saudi-supplied rebels behind chemical attacks.” Gavlak pitched this story to MintPress on August 28th and informed her editors and myself that her colleague Yahya Ababneh was on the ground in Syria. She said Ababneh conducted interviews with rebels, their family members, Ghouta residents and doctors that informed him through various interviews that the Saudis had supplied the rebels with chemical weapons and that rebel fighters handled the weapons improperly setting off the explosions.  

When Yahya had returned and shared the information with her, she stated that she confirmed with several colleagues and Jordanian government officials that the Saudis have been supplying rebels with chemical weapons, but as her email states, she says they refused to go on the record.

Gavlak wrote the article in it’s entirety as well as conducted the research. She filed her article on August 29th and was published on the same day.

Dale is under mounting pressure for writing this article by third parties. She notified MintPress editors and myself on August 30th and 31st via email and phone call, that third parties were placing immense amounts of pressure on her over the article and were threatening to end her career over it. She went on to tell us that she believes this third party was under pressure from the head of the Saudi Intelligence Prince Bandar himself, who is alleged in the article of supplying the rebels with chemical weapons.

On August 30th, Dale asked MintPress to remove her name completely from the byline because she stated that her career and reputation was at risk. She continued to say that these third parties were demanding her to disassociate herself from the article or these parties would end her career. On August 31st, I notified Dale through email that I would add a clarification that she was the writer and researcher for the article and that Yahya was the reporter on the ground, but did let Gavlak know that we would not remove her name as this would violate the ethics of journalism.

We are aware of the tremendous pressure that Dale and some of our other journalists are facing as a result of this story, and we are under the same pressure as a result to discredit the story. We are unwilling to succumb to those pressures for MintPress holds itself to the highest journalistic ethics and reporting standards. Yahya has recently notified me that the Saudi embassy contacted him and threatened to end his career if he did a follow up story on who carried out the most recent chemical weapons attack and demanded that he stop doing media interviews in regards to the subject.

We hold Dale Gavlak in the highest esteem and sympathize with her for the pressure she is receiving, but removing her name from the story would not be honest journalism and therefore, as stated before, we are not willing to remove her name from the article. We are prepared and may release all emails and communications made between MintPress and Dale Gavlak, and even Yahya to provide further evidence of what was provided to you in this statement.

At the time of writing, Gavlak, or her lawyer, have not responded to the above statement.

Several key questions regarding this affair still remain, and will hopefully be answered in due course if and when MintPress release the emails between Gavlak and themselves, or, if Gavlak releases a clear and specific statement regarding her actual input into the report and her vouching for Ababneh. Regardless of whether those emails are released, a key indicator as to the credibility of Gavlaks disassociation attempts will come from her and her lawyers next course of action. If the alleged emails prove MintPress’ case that Gavlak did indeed author and vouch for the report, then it seems anathema for the supposed “third parties” pressuring Gavlak to want these emails out in the open – further exposing Gavlak’s attempts to disassociate under duress.

The major questions that remain unanswered:

1) MintPress claim that Gavlak did not merely translate Ababneh’s article, but also edited; “wrote up” in its entirety; researched; and then pitched the article to Mintpress. Not only this, MintPress also claim that Gavlak had “further communications” with them post-pitch regarding Ababneh’s bio – in essence, to vouch for his credibility. Considering this; why has Gavlak waited three weeks to make a statement on the issue, and in effect discredit the story, if she ever thought it was dubious?  Surely Gavlaks’ alleged statement to MintPress that she had confirmed the story with “colleagues and several Jordanian government officials” belies any claim to her now trying to distance herself from it.

2) Where is Yahya Ababneh? From the above MintPress statement it becomes clear why both Ababneh and Gavlak may have kept out of the spotllight until now. And also why Gavlak seems to be communicating through a lawyer and only to corporate-media-friendly sources.  Yahya Ababneh has apparently been contacted since the reports release by journalists who have in turn claimed that a) he exists, b) he stands by the substance of the story, the claim that Gavlak wrote it and contributed to it, and c) has confirmed that he has recieved threats via actors attempting to force him to abandon the report and any follow ups or interviews regarding its substance. But Ababneh is yet to release a public statement regarding the issue. Considering the alleged threats coming directly from the House of Saud, and supposed “third parties”, Ababneh’s absence from the spotlight is hardly surprising.

3) Who are the “Third Parties” that are allegedly pressuring Gavlak to disassociate herself from the article? One can readily assume that these people are her employers at the Associated Press, who have apparently now suspended Gavlak “indefinitely”. If this is the case, there are again several scenarios as to why the AP is pressuring her. It may be a simple case of AP not wanting a reference to them on such a controversial – and as yet unproven – report. But it may be something entirely more sinister, the actions against Ms. Gavlak seem to suggest the latter, and that there is a considerable amount of top-level pressure being applied to her, if the report is merely bogus propaganda; why is so much effort being put into discrediting it?

4) Considering Gavlaks’ tacit admission that she “wrote up” Ababneh’s report in her second statement; MintPress are well within their rights to uphold the byline they added. Gavlak pitched the story to MintPress presumably knowing the editors valued her credibility and experience. So the question remains: why would Gavlak willingly translate and edit; then attempt to pitch the report but keep her name off it; then vouch for the report and its author through “further communications”; if she knew it was dubious or would bring scorn from her other employers? Why take that risk with a small independent outlet?

5) Why the haphazard attempt to disassociate from the story now, three weeks later? It has only given the report an added impotus – highlighted by the fact that a plethora of establishment media pundits and commentators (who originally dismissed and subverted the report) are now going to great lengths to discredit it. There is almost an air of desperation coming from several pundits, going as far as to insinuate that MintPress holds a bias simply because the editors father in-law happens to be a Shi’ite muslim. The NYT lede blog even ran a story on the issue late last night – totally omitting any reference to the crucial pieces of information relayed in the MintPress statement. This is even more perplexing when you consider the fact that outlets such as the New York Times completely ignored recent revelations that the Washington Post’s new Jerusalem correspondent is the wife of a Zionist PR tycoon that regularly lobbies for the Jewish state.

Regardless of the veracity of the original report from Ghouta, and the allegations against the Saud regime held within; MintPress News are undoubtedly within their rights to uphold the Gavlak byline and in turn deem her accountable for its credibility.

If one were to offer a hypothetical, it seems likely that Gavlak has received this report from a trusted colleague (Ababneh) and wanted to run it through a smaller outlet anonymously to avoid possible recriminations from her corporate media employers; at which point MintPress have realised the controversial nature of the report and added Gavlak’s byline to bolster its credibility (which is well within their rights). As Gavlak rightly forsaw, she is now being pressured to retract her name from the story and subsequently discredit it. Whether the report itself is true or not is an entirely different matter, which will hopefully be explored as more details emerge. The current furore, and alleged efforts made by powerful interests to discredit and supress it, suggests that this report is percieved by those powerful interests as more damaging than a mere piece of unverifiable propaganda.

Syria: Has Obama forsaken the insurgency?

Current events surrounding the Syrian conflict appear to be on the brink of a partial agreement toward peace. Brokered by the United States and Russia, the new quick-fire round of talks in Geneva between US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov have been promoted as a bilateral effort to disarm Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile and move forward with talks to help end the crisis (Geneva II). Yet parallel to the alleged chemical weapons attack in eastern Ghouta – which subsequently led to the diplomatic breakthrough between Washington and Moscow – a chain of events largely ignored may provide equally justifiable explanations as to why the United States chose to renege on its threats of overt military intervention, and towards public diplomacy and reconciliation.

Analysing the sequence of events leading up to, and surrounding the alleged chemical weapons attack in Ghouta shows that Syria, and its ally Russia, have thwarted a determined attempt by the United States to overtly attack the Syrian Army, in what was a last-ditch effort to save the crumbling insurgency and avoid a regime victory.

The failure of the “Re-branded” insurgency.

Several reports leading up to the alleged chemical attack claim that the United States – in line with its covert policy of over two years – had prepared and deployed a “rebranded”, moderate, non-jihadist battalion of rebel fighters into Syria with the desired objective of creating a buffer-zone in the southern province of Da’raa (birthplace of the insurgency); from which the rebels would regroup and replenish supplies lost in consecutive defeats in preparation for a “Storm on Damascus”: a carbon-copy of the CIA’s strategy during the overthrow of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi – minus the crucial NATO airforce.

An article from August the 22nd, authored by Yossef Bodansky, an Israeli-American political scientist who served as Director of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare of the US House of Representatives from 1988 to 2004 claims:

Starting Aug. 17 and 18, nominally Free Syrian Army (FSA) units — in reality a separate Syrian and Arab army trained and equipped by the CIA as well as Jordanian and other intelligence services — attempted to penetrate southern Syria from northern Jordan and start a march on Damascus. Two units, one 250-strong and one 300-strong, crossed into Syria and began advancing parallel to the Golan Heights border. Their aim was to break east and reach Daraa quickly in order to prepare the ground for the declaration of Daraa as the capital of a “Free Syria”. However, the CIA’s FSA forces met fierce resistance by the unlikely coalition of the Syrian Army, local jihadist forces (mainly the locally-raised Yarmuk Brigades), and even tribal units who fear the encroachment by outside forces on their domain. By Aug. 19 and 20, the FSA units were surrounded in three villages not far from the Israeli border.

Bodansky’s article is corroborated by a report published on the 22nd of August in French daily Le Figaro, which also alleges that a similar sized US-trained force, accompanied by Israeli, Jordanian and US commandos, had infiltrated Syria’s borders on the 17th of August from Jordan with the objective of creating a buffer-zone in Da’raa. The Figaro report does not state the new commando-escorted units encountered any resistance along the way, the report also fails to explain their whereabouts or justify their now obvious lack of success. In contrast to Bodansky’s version of events; Le Figaro purports that the Assad regime may have resorted to the use of chemical weapons due to an increased threat the new rebel units posed on Damascus. Analysis of the previous months of fighting in the Ghouta region, and the continuous gains made by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) suggest there was zero threat to the Assad regime’s seat of power coming from eastern Ghouta – or Da’raa for that matter. The precise opposite was in fact occurring, the SAA had been engaged in a concerted offensive in the Damascus suburbs and countryside for months; leaving rebel units in eastern Ghouta completely surrounded and increasingly desperate for supplies and ammunition. Moreover, the situation for the rebels was similarly desperate in almost the entirety of Da’raa, which had been stalemated for months with no significant gains for either side; the SAA had consolidated and fortified the areas it held in Da’raa whilst opposition rebel commanders repeatedly expressed their dismay at the lack of supplies and ammunition reaching them from Jordan.

The alleged chemical weapons attack.

There is already a plethora of literature and credible analysis that debunks Washington’s allegations surrounding the alleged chemical weapons attack, the claims are most importantly coming from a lead belligerent and architect of the conflict, yet even if one were to wrongly judge Washington as a neutral actor, they are still unverified, circumstantial, questionably sourced (to say the least), and in the words of top CIA officials “no slam dunk”, which makes them even-less credible than what turned out to be outright lies emanating from US intelligence sources in the lead up to Iraq. Washington’s claims simply don’t stand up to any serious scrutiny. Yet contrary to the many outstanding, and growing, contradictions and scepticism of the allegations; many analysts have pushed the theory that the regimes motive to use chemical weapons lay in its desperation to avoid defeat at the hands of the rebels. Incidentally, this supposed regime motive formed the “analysis” propagated by recently outed fraud “Liz O’Bagy” – a rebel lobbyist paid by the State Department and neocon think-tank the Institute for the study of war; to provide “tailored analysis” in a months-long propaganda campaign to portray the extremist dominated rebels as “moderate” western-friendly secularists. Yet when viewed with the above context, the supposed motive of a Götterdämmerung act by a regime in its final moments becomes even-less credible than it first appeared. The regime was arguably in the strongest position it has been since it lost vast swathes of land during the height of the insurgency, not to mention the growing amount of anti-rebel sentiment within public opinion working in the regimes’ favour – both inside and outside of Syria.

Conversely, the rebels on the ground in Syria were becoming increasingly desperate, losing battles with the SAA consecutively for months on end, and increasingly turning to fighting between themselves over the spoils of war, or simply through ethnic intolerance, extremism and fundamentalism. The regime had long been planning a large military offensive in Ghouta to consolidate the gains it had made in recent months and secure its hold on the Damascus countryside. The few remaining pockets of rebel encampments were largely surrounded from all angles; reports from multiple outlets, including staunchly pro-rebel, spoke of a “siege” in Ghouta and rebels repeatedly being ambushed by the SAA trying to escape.  A Reuters report from August 7th read: “Adra.. in the Eastern Ghouta region,… has been besieged by the army for months.” Accordingly, the situation on the ground prior to the alleged chemical weapons attack was in no way a threat to Assad’s seat of power in Damascus, if any actor had the motive for a last-ditch attempt at saving their cause it was indeed the rebels, or their regional backers intent on exacerbating and continuing the conflict. 

Regardless of who actually committed the attack that occurred on August 21st in Ghouta, its desired outcome from Washington’s perspective (a casus belli – intentional or otherwise – to garner western intervention), did not play out how the administration would have hoped.

UK Parliament set the tone for Congress.

A major blow to Washington’s war-plans came at the hands of the UK general public and Parliament. Unfortunately for David Cameron, earlier this year UK MP’s forced the government to agree to a vote in the commons to determine any future military intervention in Syria. Now, with Cameron threatening immediate military “action” against Syria he recalled Parliament in an attempt to rush through the vote and kickstart the war alongside the United States. Cameron, in typical establishment arrogance presumed the massive public sentiment against military intervention would go unnoticed by the publics representatives and ministers would vote in favour of war. Cameron was sorely mistaken, the “shadow of Iraq” provided a platform for a resurgence of anti-war sentiment and low-level activism. MP’s were bombarded with mail and phone-calls from angry constituents demanding a no vote. Crucially, the immediate scepticism of US “intelligence” was brought out into the public realm in real-time and exposed as reminiscent of the fabrications that led to Iraq. Accordingly, on the 29th of August, Cameron lost his vote.

The Obama administration was deeply concerned by the result of the UK vote, their most loyal ally and partner in militarism would no longer be at their side, years of war-plans and covert logistics had fallen apart, and the illusion of the United States “leading the International Community from behind” was crumbling even quicker. Obama’s surprise decision to gain the approval of Congress for military intervention in Syria came just two days after Cameron’s equally surprising defeat. Yet alongside Obama’s apparent willingness to “have a debate” in Congress and hold a vote to authorise intervention; Obama and a number of his senior aides reiterated their intention to attack Syria with or without a successful result.

Following Cameron’s defeat in Parliament, and facing what looked to be a certain defeat in Congress, Obama’s proposed war on Syria was arguably more unpopular than any before it. Polls on both sides of the Atlantic regularly showed massive disapproval ratings for any intervention, with numbers only slightly higher even if the White House allegations were proven to be true. Alongside the usual uncritical repetition of US “intelligence assessments” and government stenography emanating from the majority of corporate media; the ever-growing alternative and independent outlets allowed the public to express their massive scepticism, and more importantly share independent and credible alternatives of information to a wider audience. Obama was facing a humiliating defeat, and was arguably by this point already searching for a way out of his self-imposed ultimatums. Yet factions within the US alliance have a very different agenda, there are several actors that would prefer the Syrian war to remain “hot” indefinitely. The hawks within Israel are the most obvious candidates to be upset by this turn of events, as has been evidenced by what the IDF have termed their “optimal scenario” of endless civil war and partition. No doubt Israel will continue to pursue this overarching policy of subversion and destabilization. There are other US clients that will undoubtedly be equally as miffed if the US has indeed reneged on its regime change policy (for now at least) in return for Assad’s CW stockpile. Saudi Arabia and Qatar have much invested in the “Syrian file”, but Washington calls the ultimate shots when it comes to matters of global affairs, if a deal has been brokered between Putin and Obama, “Prince Bandar Ibn Israel” will be put back to rest and the King will reluctantly oblige. Turkey, likewise, will also be unhappy at Obama’s apparent change of policy, but Erdogan may be under too much pressure of his own domestically to afford any serious solo effort at subverting Assad.

Last throw of the Dice: missiles in the Med.

On September the 3rd, two days prior to the G20 summit in St Petersburg, the world awoke to reports that Russia’s defensive radar systems had detected two ballistic “objects” launched from the central Mediterranean on a flight path toward Syria’s eastern coast, where Russian navy ships currently reside; the missiles post-launch had apparently “fell into the sea”. At the time the finger was immediately pointed to Israel – who have attacked Syria at least three times with impunity in the past year alone – or possibly the United States, whose large Naval presence in the Med seemed the obvious primary suspect. Curiously, both Israel and the United States denied responsibility when the Russian reports were first released, then, only a few hours later Israel claimed responsibility for an apparent joint “test” launch with the Pentagon of a defensive missile system. The sheer recklessness of such an act – even if the innocent explanation were true – is hard to explain in such a circumstance. The US eventually confirmed the Israeli line that it was indeed a “test” missile launch with US assistance; after having first denied any knowledge of the incident.

The most likely explanation is Israel or the US were attempting to test Syria’s coastal defenses prior to any possible attack, but to do this without giving any notice to Russia in such a tense scenario seems reckless to say the least. Russian diplomats have repeatedly hinted that Russia would “help” Syria militarily in the event of a missile strike. It is quite possible that this incident was indeed an Israeli/US provocation in an attempt to garner a response from Syria, and in turn instigate a wider campaign. A report from Lebanese daily As Safir takes it one step further:

A well-informed diplomatic source told As-Safir newspaper that “the US war on Syria had started and ended the moment those two ballistic missiles were fired,… The source further told the Lebanese daily that “the US forces fired these two rockets from a NATO base in Spain, and were instantly detected by the Russian radars and confronted by the Russian defense systems, so one of them exploded in the airspace and the second one diverted towards the sea.” In this context, the source pointed out that “the statement issued by the Russian Defense Ministry, which stated the detection of two ballistic missiles fired towards the Middle East, intended to neglect two points: the first was the location from which the two rockets were fired, and the second was their downing. Why? Because the moment the full military operation was launched, Head of the Russian Intelligence Service contacted the US intelligence and informed it that “hitting Damascus means hitting Moscow, and we have removed the term “downed the two missiles” from the statement to preserve the bilateral relations and to avoid escalation. Therefore, you must immediately reconsider your policies, approaches and intentions on the Syrian crisis, as you must be certain that you cannot eliminate our presence in the Mediterranean.”

Whether this account of events holds true or not, at the very least the missile launch appears to be an intentional provocation by either Israel or Washington, in a last-ditch attempt to incite retaliation and salvage the now broken strategy against Assad. Either way, Russia’s decision to quickly publicise the detection and subsequent flip-flop of denial and acceptance from Israel bolsters the theory in the As Safir report: why would Israel accept responsibility for this provocative “test”, yet deny responsibility for every other act of aggression they commit unimpeded? Could it have been to save the face of another defeated attempt to continue the war? It was following this incident, that Obama and Putin were due to meet at the G20 conference. With both leaders eager to go into any negotiations on Syria from a position of power at such a crucial stage, it also adds to the theory that Obama was in a rush to commence the war before opposition became too overbearing; as indeed it now evidently has.

Contrary to Obama’s plans, he entered the G20 summit from a position of weakness, both globally and domestically, opposition to a unilateral US war on another Arab state was only ever-increasing. Obama – or US foreign policy in general – has long-lost the vote of confidence within the UK population, and the Parliamentary vote may indeed yet herald a new era of UK foreign policy. Obama was losing the confidence vote in Congress; his domestic population; and within world leaders at the G20 – the majority of which started to make clear their desire to move towards Russia’s longstanding position based on the Geneva communique. Despite the mass effort western media put into spinning support for Obama, he came out of the G20 further weakened, it is likely by that point Obama had already made his decision that lead to Kerry’s supposed “gaffe”.

John Kerry’s “gaffe” and the bargain.

In the two days following the G20, the US upheld its intransigent rhetoric in its attempts to rally support for war. John Kerry was scheduled to fly around Europe to pimp war on radio shows and TV interviews as any self-respecting humanitarian does – of course Willy Hague was more than eager to stand alongside Kerry to drum up support for a war the UK population has just stated clearly it wanted no part in. It was during this visit that Kerry made his now infamous “gaffe”, in which he flippantly offered Syria a way of avoiding imminent attack by giving up its chemical weapons stockpiles to international inspectors, Kerry said: “if Assad were to turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week,” there would be no US attack. It is indicative that once Russia had pounced on the deal the US chose to immediately play it down – for all of around two hours. The narrative then quickly shifted to what the US is now sticking to: the “deal” on CW was only implemented through the threat of US force. Yet the key point that both media and diplomats are avoiding is this: if the chemical weapons disarmament is due to run until “mid-2014” under the Assad regime and the Syrian Army’s cooperation, and is likely to run into considerable setbacks and require a concerted logistical and cooperative effort from the government; then that is surely a tacit admission from Washington that Assad will remain in power until at least the proposed operation is over.

In a revealing interview  on Sunday, Obama gave further sign of a shift in US policy and refused to be drawn on the future of Assad. Obama effectively announced the US intention of giving up on the insurgency, and said the “United States can’t get in the middle of somebody else’s civil war.” and reiterated previous statements that “We can’t enforce– militarily, a settlement there.” Has a deal to halt the US-led insurgency been done? Will the US stop arming jihadists now? Is Russia urging Syria to destroy its CW stockpile the carrot necessary to appease the angry donkey and the 800 pound gorilla (aka: the US military industrial complex & Israel)? In the remote scenario of a solid reconciliation between Russia and the US and a move toward peace; are Washington still able to control their autocratic clients in the Middle East? Will the White House apply the required amounts of pressure on Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Kuwait, to halt arms supplies and funding to the rebels? Can Obama rein in the apartheid Israeli regime, and its determination to incite and prolong conflict between its Arab neighbours? And will the Obama administration attempt to replicate the Iraq scenario, by infiltrating, obstructing, and subverting the mission of the UN inspectors or the OPCW to engineer a pretext to attack Syria at a later date?

These are questions only time can answer. Regardless of future events and subsequent geopolitical dynamics, there are still thousands of extremists, mercenaries, and outright criminals currently waging war upon Syria and its people. To regain any semblance of stability and peace it is the United States that ultimately holds the levers to end the arms flow and state-sponsorship of the rebels. Tellingly, in a recent interview President Assad revealed a critical precondition of his own on any future CW disarmament deal:

“It is a bilateral process aimed principally at making the US cease pursuing its policy of aggression against Syria and proceed in compliance with the Russian initiative. When we see the US genuinely working towards stability in the region and stop threatening, striving to attack, and delivering arms to terrorists then we will believe that the necessary processes can be finalised.”

Syria: John Kerry’s “Big Lie” syndrome.

“Political language… is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidarity to pure wind.” – George Orwell.

US secretary of state John Kerry has just delivered what may turn out to be his most shameful moment in history. Kerry has been handed the baton of sabre-rattler-in-Chief by a President that has much vested interest in upholding his facade of “reluctant warmonger”. Since President Obama declared his now infamous “red-line” over the use of chemical weapons in Syria; it has invariably been White House underlings and members of the State Department who are given the task of misleading the public – Kerry is not doing a very good job of it.

In his most recent outing, Kerry reiterated – 22 times no-less – that the US administration – through its ever trustworthy “intelligence community” – “knows” with “high confidence” that Bashar al-Assad’s regime carried out chemical weapons attacks upon opposition areas in the suburbs of Ghouta, Damascus, on the morning of the 21st August. Kerry adamantly repeats what US intelligence “knows”, without actually providing any solid evidence to bolster his ever-increasing, outlandish claims – Kerry is on the path to Colin Powell stardom, one suspects this speech will be remembered for a long-time to come, and for all the wrong reasons.

Kerry frames his speech in a typically Orwellian fashion. Immediately discarding any semblance of honesty Kerry tells the world that his decades in Congress have taught him the valued lesson that the US must “ask the tough questions” prior to engaging in military attacks upon a sovereign nation, and in turn “get the tough answers before taking action, not just afterward”. It would take only a cursory glance at the United States’ foreign policy record form the last 2-3 years to realise that this opening gambit of attempting to portray American virtue and patience is an outright lie and the total reverse of decades-long aggressive US foreign policy. For example: did the United States “ask the tough questions” before it dropped nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki – killing hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians? Or did the United States “ask the tough questions” before it manufactured a casus belli to engage in an illegal war in Vietnam – again resulting in the murder of hundreds of thousands of innocents through the indiscriminate carpet bombing of civilian areas and chemical/biological weapons? How about Iraq? Did Kerry “ask the tough questions” prior to that particular murderous, genocidal rampage? One wonders if Kerry asked himself “the tough questions” before he made the decision to support the US’ illegal invasion and subsequent destruction of Iraq in 2002? Or even if he attempted to gain the “tough answers” after the decision had been taken. It seems even 18 months after the invasion of Iraq, at a time when the country was rapidly spiralling out of control, Kerry adamantly stood by his decision to support the war with the sole justification that he “would have done things very differently to Bush” – knowing full well by this point that Saddam Hussein’s alleged “WMD” and links to Al Qaeda were a figment of Dick Cheney and the US “intelligence community’s” imagination. The list of reckless US aggression is quite literally endless, these are but a few prominent examples.

Ostensibly touted as an opportunity for the US to show the world its supposed “intelligence” to prove chemical weapons had been used by the Assad regime; Kerry made clear from the outset that his audience would not be privy to any information that may empirically prove the allegation. Instead, the administration chose to repeat unsubstantiated allegations and “intelligence assessments” that must remain confidential to protect “methods and sources”. Relying on slogans such as “NGO” and “Syrian officials” Kerry attempts to mask the fact that the vast majority of the allegations originate from a primary belligerent in the Syrian conflict; namely, the Syrian “opposition”; the “rebels” themselves; and the plethora of State Department-trained “activist” networks responsible for the reams of misinformation and propaganda repeated uncritically in western corporate-media. Kerry goes on to say that the release of the governments “estimate” is so important because its findings are as “clear as they are compelling”. How does one make a clear and compelling estimate? Surely an estimate would infer that there is a degree of doubt, how can one “know” anything from an “estimate”?

Kerry urges his audience to: “read for yourselves the evidence from thousands of sources, evidence that is already publicly available.” Yet neither Kerry, nor the “intelligence summary” provide any of these alleged “thousands” of sources that are “publicly available”. The US intelligence “assessment” does not hold a single link to any secondary or primary source material, or any empirical/scientific data, there is nothing in it other than a summary of previous allegations. So what is Kerry referring to? One can only assume Kerry, in his half-arsed attempt to bolster what is an evidence-free allegation is now relying on YouTube videos – and urging the world to take them as hard evidence to determine war-crimes and culpability.

In true authoritarian manner, Kerry moves swiftly into the “trust us” narrative, imploring his audience to read the administrations verdict – no longer a pretense of independent evidence to prove guilt; merely a self-appointed verdict. Of course, at every opportunity Kerry reminds his audience exactly what that verdict is: the Assad regime is responsible, our verdict is your evidence, nothing more, nothing less, “these are facts, this is evidence”.

In an effort to impersonate Donald Rumsfeld’s infamous “unknown unknowns”, Kerry tells us: “in order to protect sources and methods, some of what we know will only be released to members of Congress, the representatives of the American people. That means that some things we do know, we can’t talk about publicly. So, what do we really know that we can talk about?” Well, considering he has just told his audience he cannot disclose even the “estimated” information that forms what his intelligence community “knows”, it seems we can’t talk about very much; other than repeated unsubstantiated allegations we have now heard for over a week – but surely that is the administrations intention. It is reminiscent of a certain theory of an English political ploy that the leaders of the Nazi regime admired – and no doubt employed upon their own population. Goebbels wrote in 1941: “The essential English leadership secret does not depend on particular intelligence. Rather, it depends on a remarkably stupid thick-headedness. The English follow the principle that when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous.” Of course, Goebbels and Hitler were equally, if not more so, proponents of the “Big Lie”. It can only be reasonable to expect the empire of the age to adapt and expand such duplicitous policy to hoodwink its own citizens into yet more hegemonic militarism.

Repeatedly punctuating the word “know” so as to implant it in every vapid mind available, Kerry then starts to reel-off exactly what the administration “knows”: “Well, we know that the Assad regime has the largest chemical weapons programs in the entire Middle East. We know that the regime has used those weapons multiple times this year, and has used them on a smaller scale but still it has used them against its own people, including not very far from where last Wednesday’s attack happened.” Already, Kerry is telling some revealing porkies. Syria has by no means the largest chemical stockpile in the Middle East, that honour lies with the US’ number one ally in the region: Israel. As former US deputy assistant secretary of defense responsible for chemical and biological defense, Bill Richardson, said in 1998 “I have no doubt that Israel has worked on both chemical and biological offensive things for a long time… There’s no doubt they’ve had stuff for years.” Not to mention the fact Israel have a huge, illegal, nuclear warheads stockpile – the biggest obstacle to a nuclear-free middle east. Kerry says the administration “knows” the Assad regime has used chemical weapons on “multiple occasions” of a smaller scale in the past. Yet again, the United States, nor its allies and the Syrian opposition have provided any empirical, or objective, independent scientific evidence to back up these claims. It should be reiterated that in May this year, UN investigator Carla Del Ponte pointed the finger at the “rebels” for the use of chemical weapons, a fact that has been thoroughly whitewashed in both western media and from the duplicitous mouths of western diplomats such as John Kerry – who still claim that “rebels” don’t have the capability to launch such munitions. Contrary to western diplomats hollow claims; in late May militant cells with links to Jabhat al Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham were found in both Iraq and Turkey with sarin and other chemical weapons materiel in their possession – another fact that received only light attention in western media, and has been virtually ignored in any western diplomats talking points.

Furthermore, recent interviews with Doctors, Ghouta residents, “rebel” fighters and their families carried out by long-standing Associated Press contributor, Dale Ghavlak, allege that it was in fact extremist elements within the “rebels” that were directly responsible for the chemical attack; even alleging the chemical weapons were supplied by Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan:

“… from numerous interviews with doctors, Ghouta residents, rebel fighters and their families, a different picture emerges. Many believe that certain rebels received chemical weapons via the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and were responsible for carrying out the dealing gas attack… My son came to me two weeks ago asking what I thought the weapons were that he had been asked to carry,” said Abu Abdel-Moneim, the father of a rebel fighting to unseat Assad, who lives in Ghouta… Abdel-Moneim said his son and 12 other rebels were killed inside of a tunnel used to store weapons provided by a Saudi militant, known as Abu Ayesha, who was leading a fighting battalion. The father described the weapons as having a “tube-like structure” while others were like a “huge gas bottle.”

Are these interviews, and this report included within the administrations “high confidence” assessment that the regime carried out this alleged attack?

Again, omitting any specific evidence to bolster his clams Kerry has asserted that the administration “knows” that the Assad regime was preparing for chemical attacks with vague reference to the regime utilising gas masks, making precautions associated with chemical weapons, and “specific instructions”. Such specific instructions that Kerry is once again unable to produce any evidence of. How this speculation is supposed to determine what happened in Ghouta – let alone culpability – is left to the audiences’ imagination. Kerry states that the US “know” where and when the ordnance was launched from, but again the audience is left with words and zero physical evidence to back this up.

In what can only be described as a desperate attempt to bolster a weaker case for war than the lies and fabrications that justified the US’ invasion of Iraq, Kerry then turns to social media to outline what the administration “knows”. He clams that US intelligence has over 100 videos that show the symptoms of a chemical weapons attack. Moreover, the US does not believe that such an amount of videos could possibly be fabricated, or manipulated in any way, why would the fluffy “rebels” – that have been busy with ethnic cleansing; systematically killing religious clerics; indiscriminately targeting and killing civilians; and chopping off heads – bother to stage such an atrocity? Kerry forgets that for over two years social media has been the primary vehicle for “rebel” agitprop and fabrication. The “rebels” have been caught numerous times fabricating videos to further their agenda, but the “intelligence community knows”, in this case, that all of the videos surrounding Ghouta must be true. Kerry says the world has seen thousands of reports – yet not one of those “reports” is either independent nor verified by any independent agency. There is no elaboration or further evidence provided as to why YouTube videos, unverified “reports”, and social media should receive such credence, let-alone be used as a justification for war, only that they bolster the verdict the United States has already drawn.

The “evidence” supposedly weaned from YouTube is morphed into emotional agitprop. Kerry recalls images of dead women and children: “not a scratch, not a shrapnel wound, not a cut, not a gunshot sound. We saw rows of dead lined up in burial shrouds, the white linen unstained by a single drop of blood.” Yet Kerry has absolutely no way of determining how those people were killed, does Kerry assume that once a body is dead and covered in a burial shroud it will carry on bleeding? Such contradictions to the administrations simple narrative are gradually marginalised from the uncritical media and replaced with verbatim stenography; yet in the margins even US intelligence officials are purposefully leaking doubts. It should be noted that Kerry’s description is quite accurate, there was indeed no sign of trauma on the vast majority of victims present in videos on YouTube. But crucially; there is also no evidence within those videos that can scientifically determine how they died – let alone who killed them.

According to John Kerry, the United States also “knows” exactly how many people were killed in this alleged attack. Kerry puts the death toll at 1,429 people, including 426 children. A figure that has outstretched even the most inflated estimations, which have ranged from the “dozens” to up to 1,300. Yet contrary to the US figure, Doctors Without Borders, and the much-touted Syrian Observatory have put the death toll from the alleged Ghouta attack at 355 people. It is all the more perplexing that the United States has suddenly developed the ability to accrue such accurate death tolls and information in a country it supposedly has no personnel operating within; yet after ten years the United States still cannot – and will not – determine the amount of innocent Iraqis or Afghanis it has murdered during its illegal aggression upon each of those countries. The US can barely acknowledge – let alone tally – the thousands of innocents it has killed as a result of its extra-legal drone assassination program; we are supposed to now believe the US has developed the capability to count victims of atrocities in foreign countries? Moreover, Doctors Without Borders (DWB) represent the “credible medical” source that Washington allude to with regard to Ghouta, due to the fact they supplied field hospitals in the area. Astonishingly, and again cannily omitted by Kerry, Doctors Without Borders did not have a single member of their own personnel in the region, or at any field hospitals within Damascus; the medics that relayed information to Doctors Without Borders were “rebels” and people working directly with the Syrian opposition. The administration is attempting to lay credence to their allegations through the flimsy connection of Doctors Without Borders with opposition elements in the area, while simultaneously contradicting the death toll DWB provided.

In another attempt to lay credence to unfounded accusations, Kerry claims the Syrian regime attempted to block the UN inspectors from visiting the site in Ghouta by bombarding the area in unprecedented levels for four days straight. Again, the physical evidence to prove this accusation is omitted. It may just have slipped Kerry’s attention but the Syrian army has been on a concerted offensive in the suburbs of Damascus for months – and was indeed, winning its chosen battles. More importantly, the US made the accusation in attempts to portray the regime as unwilling to meet the demands of the UN because it “had something to hide”. Washington immediately backtracked this false narrative when it became apparent that it was the UN itself blocking any investigation and had not requested permission to visit the area until the following Saturday. It took the Syrian government a total of 24 hours to permit the UN’s request. When this became public knowledge, the administration changed its talking points; now alleging that the regime purposefully bombarded the area to “systematically destroy evidence”. The UN, alongside several chemical weapons experts have since debunked this theory, noting it can take months for Sarin and other military-grade CW to disperse, and assured that it was still possible for the team of experts to gather necessary evidence despite the time elapsed since the alleged attack.

Despite the numerous contradictions, and massive lack of physical evidence, Kerry again urges his audience to trust the intelligence community’s high confidence: “In all of these things that I have listed, in all of these things that we know — all of them — the American intelligence community has high confidence, high confidence. This is common sense. This is evidence. These are facts.” One can easily recall supposed “facts” the US intelligence community has had a “high confidence” of in the not-too-distant past, yet the popular refrain being bandied around establishment and corporate media circles to deter scepticism of such claims are the very same refrains that were thrown at sceptics ten years ago. “The shadow of Iraq” is being used as a rhetorical tool to attack sceptics of these allegations, yet in reality, the scepticism surrounding these renewed WMD allegations are of exactly the same nature and equally as justified as they were during the build-up to Iraq. Moreover, in a reference to the then-CIA Directors false claims of Iraqi WMD being a “slam dunk”, several US intelligence officials leaked to various media that White House allegations are anything but a “slam dunk”; rendering Kerry’s claims even-less credible than the outright lies that lead to the invasion of Iraq.

It is indicative of the glaring lack of physical evidence that the remainder of Kerry’s speech is spent avowing lofty claims of “US credibility”, and that countries must believe the United States when it says (threatens) something. What Kerry is actually saying is that the US cannot back down from its own reckless hubris without losing face, and the United States relies on that militaristic hubris – and will rely on it ever more so in the future – to uphold its own geopolitical and economic “interests”. Obama’s reckless “red-line” moment effectively backed the United States into a position itself and its allies knew they could engineer toward an overt intervention. That overt western intervention is now needed more than ever as the Syrian Army move toward a de-facto military victory.

In the remainder of the speech, and equally as vapid in the “intelligence assessment”, the secretary of state warns of various other “enemy” nations and political factions on the wrong side of Imperialism taking heed from a supposed lack of US “action”. Attempting to evoke fear and trepidation the Empire’s “boogeyemen” are rolled out one by one, from North Korea to Hezbollah. Kerry attempts to evoke the oft-repeated sentiment that the United States speaks for the entire world, he hastily casts aside the international allies of Syria. Yet, the populations of the western world itself are increasingly against the US-led drive to attack Syria. In the UK – before and after the recent defeat for David Cameron’s motion for UK involvement in a possible attack on Syria – up to 90% of the UK population were against any military intervention. That stance has only hardened as the conflict has dragged on. For once, and much to David Cameron’s dismay, this public sentiment was reflected in the vote, and the UK will not be taking part in any military action. The figures against intervention are reflected across the Atlantic; the American public, despite the massive propaganda campaign, and overt lies streaming from their supposed “diplomats” do not support US military intervention. But the lies and propaganda will continue unabated, and an uncritical corporate media will slavishly repeat and embellish on cue.

Kerry ended his speech with the doublethink-laden quote: “…the world’s most heinous weapons must never again be used against the world’s most vulnerable people.” This is a fact, but a fact that evidently does not apply to the millions of vulnerable people the United States murders unabated – with every kind of weapon known to man.

Syria: Obama’s pretext for war?

It seems many have forgotten the last two and a half years of western sabre-rattling and covert military aggression against the Syrian state. It is worth reiterating that without the vast amount of military, financial, and diplomatic largesse the west and their regional clients have thrown at the “revolutionary rebels” in Syria – who have now beyond doubt been exposed as sectarian extremists, lead and dominated by Al Qaeda ideologues – the violent insurgency in Syria would have been defeated long ago by the Syrian army.

These extremist-dominated “rebels” were armed and funded by Syria’s enemies – with the tacit approval and coordination of the west – from an early stage in the supposed “Syrian uprising” (read: local protests), to wage a sectarian insurgency upon the Syrian state and its security apparatus on behalf of the US and its various allies. The US-led military and intelligence alliance comprises of: the United States, Israel, United Kingdom, France, Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, aswell as numerous Lebanese political and paramilitary factions under the influence of Saudi Arabia. Although individual relationships and objectives have been in flux between this group, elements within all their respective establishments; governments; intelligence agencies; wealthy private donors and military contractors have worked to facilitate the transfer of arms and militants into Syria since the onset of the insurgency in March/April 2011. Although their individual desired outcomes and long-term objectives may differ; this alliance has held one common objective throughout: the destruction of an independent Syrian state.

The pathetic attempt at media “debate” surrounding Obama’s imminent plan to bomb Syria in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack – which morphed from a couple of hours of feigning scepticism straight into accepting unsubstantiated western allegations as fact, and then repeating them verbatim – all have one common theme: that of a reluctant Obama, unwilling to sacrifice “boots on the ground” and desperate to avert wider regional conflict in another endless war in the Middle East. Yet, upon analysing the conflict from a realistic perspective – which was from the onset, a sectarian, foreign-funded insurgency – as opposed to the corporate-media, and western politician’s manufactured fantasy-narrative of a “democratic grass-roots uprising”; it becomes clear that the reluctant facade of Obama has also been manufactured from false media narratives, propagated by the government “sources” that shape them. In contrast to Obama’s apparent reluctance to exacerbate the Syrian crisis; at every periodic occasion that the Syrian opposition have had setbacks – be it on the battlefield; diplomatic theatre; or within public opinion – the US has stepped up its covert militarism with its partners operating on Syria’s borders. For example, we now know that when the much-desired No Fly Zone was blocked by China and Russia in the UNSC the White House made efforts to step up its covert support to the “rebels” through the CIA and Qatar, transitting the shipments through the Turkish/Syrian border. Accordingly, with the increase of militarism; came the increase of death-toll and displacement.

With regard to the early demands for a sovereign states’ President to “step aside”; westerners must first ask ourselves: do any world leaders demand Obama, Cameron, Bush, Blair, or any other variety of western diplomatic mass-murderer “step aside” for killing possibly millions of innocent civilians of countless nations? Or does the “International Community” only frown upon dictators allegedly “killing their own people” with “Weapons of Mass Destruction”? Is this the moral bar for western society as a whole? “Our leaders” can be proven to kill vast numbers in illegal wars anywhere on earth with impunity, but those “our leaders” deem enemies cannot defend allegations, let alone defend their nation from a foreign-funded insurgency?

Even if one finds this repugnant, hypocritical state of affairs as agreeable; how do Obama and Cameron explain their lack of condemnation toward Egypt’s coup-leaders; killing up to a thousand people from mainly peaceful protests in the space of a few days? One suspects any real condemnation of the military coup and subsequent crackdown (justified or not) will only come from the “moral” leaders of the west when and if Sisi and his feloul cohorts decide to cut-off the US’ vital “interests” in Egypt; those “interests” being primarily the protection of Israel; unfettered access (control) of the Suez Canal, and a continuation of the long-standing US-dominant military relationship and billion-dollar contracts. Those US “interests” do not include the lives, much less the “freedom” or “democracy” of the Egyptian people.

Furthermore, how do Obama and Cameron explain their silence or complete lack of “action” regarding their close ally the Al-Khalifa monarchys’ brutal crackdown of protesters and dissidents in Bahrain over the last two years? Of course, the United States does not need regime change from a compliant monarchy in Bahrain that dutifully host its fifth-fleet in one of the world’s most strategic locations. Further still, where is the “moral outrage” regarding Saudi Arabia’s brutal regime and its decades-long sponsorship of terrorism? The Saudi type of terrorism is often purported in the west as in “our interest”. Saudi-sponsored terrorism comes only in the name of supporting “freedom fighters” who at the time may just so happen to be enemies of our enemies, who are then dutifully facilitated, fomented and sponsored by the west; inevitably resulting in small instances of blowback that provide the western security establishment further pretext to encroach upon civil liberties with draconian and over-expansive “anti-terror” laws – a win-win for the National Security State and the Military Industrial Complex.

The west’s proxy-forces in Syria are, in reality, close to defeat. Against the odds, and a considerable multi-national effort to destroy an army and divide a nation; Assad has solidified his core base and territories. In the last few months the Syrian army has made considerable gains on the battlefield, recapturing strategic choke-points along the rebel supply route and utilising its bolstered numbers from the National Defense Forces to protect regained territory. Assad has also maintained his own critical supply lines, both of a military and diplomatic nature and has upheld his side of whatever bargains he has made with international allies. Russia has remained steadfast in its support of Assad up to the point of writing, but this may yet change in the face of a possible world-war-III scenario. Russia’s military supplies have been critical to the Syrian army’s success on the battlefield, and its diplomatic efforts in the UN have stalled what has been a determined effort by the west to gain a pretext for military intervention. Moreover, anti-rebel sentiment has been on the rise in Syria for months. An example lies in the border town of Tal Kalakh, which was recently peacefully transferred to army control; not out of any particular love for Assad I must add, but simply due to the fact the extremists had moved on and the locals were more inclined to keep their livelihood and live in peace than face death or imprisonment. In a recent interview Assad also highlighted an increase in defections from the rebels back to the army as a result of government amnesty’s This, and an and added impetus from the Hezbollah-aided victory of Qusair had set the army on a trajectory that would be difficult to stop without massive foreign intervention.

On the other hand, the disparate factions of Bin-Ladenite “rebels” have been bogged down with infighting and internal conflict, which has resulted in a further increase of their brutality toward the civilian population. Just this week the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) executed three Alawite truck drivers on video for the crime of forgetting prayer ritual. A prominent Alawite cleric was also recently executed by “rebels”, the latest in a long line of clerics and religious officials that have been targeted by the extremists. The cleric was kidnapped during the ISIS/JaN sectarian onslaught in Latakia; the mass graves that were found as a result of this particular sectarian assault on a civilian area didn’t merit much attention in the western press. Moreover, recent rebel attacks – predominantly ISIS and jabhat al Nusra – on the Kurdish community in the north have taken on a broader and intractable dimension; resulting in the mass exodus of 30,000 Kurds over the border to Iraqi Kurdistan. In relation to the north of Syria where jihadist groups are most dominant; ISIS recently released a message to all international aid organisations to leave the region or be killed. Accordingly, the “rebels” public appeal is arguably at an all-time low. Several defining events throughout the course of the conflict have been imprinted on the minds of millions of people across the globe. From children being forced to behead prisoners; to rebels – from the supposed “moderate western-backed” militants no less – eating the organs of slain Syrian soldiers.

There is little sympathy in the west for the militants western governments support. A recent Reuters poll showed only 9 percent of Americans support any form of US military intervention in Syria. Even if the Assad government were found to be guilty of using chemical weapons that figure only rose to 25% percent. With a resounding 60% percent against. These figures are almost mirrored in the UK and have reflected such opinion throughout the Syrian conflict. Yet if military intervention was to occur, it would undoubtedly be the UK and the US at the forefront of the attacks: that is western “democracy”.

President Assad and the Syrian establishment have long known that they have been on the US’ target list. Indeed, it was public knowledge in the west that during the post-9/11 Bush administration Syria was placed under “the axis of Evil”. During that decade several prominent reports highlighted covert policies the US and its allies were directing at Syria. These covert policies ran parallel to USAID “democracy” programs that the US had implemented in Syria in order to bolster opposition elements and leverage the Assad government – as is the protocol for US subversion. Many of these same initiatives have formed a part of the US State Department-trained anti-Assad “activists”, so prevalent on social media and often touted as objective sources in the western corporate press. More importantly, Assad has also known for a long time that any use of chemical weapons would undoubtedly result in the west – at the very least – abandoning any pretense of negotiations and reverting to type: the military option. Why would Assad choose now to entice a western military intervention? What can he possibly gain from his own certain downfall? At a time when it was becoming more and more likely that the Assad government would hold on to some sort of power in Syria and the “rebels” and their international alliance were looking increasingly likely to fall apart, why would Assad choose to use chemical weapons? Furthermore, we must also remember that the UN team is in Damascus at the Syrian governments request, it simply defies logic that Assad would willingly commit such a grave act right under the nose of the UN, particularly when the trajectory of the war was firmly in his favour.

Conversely, there are multiple logical scenarios in which the “rebels” would benefit from staging a chemical weapons attack. This is plain objective common sense. Since Obama declared his famous “red-line” it has been a casus belli waiting to happen. The “rebels”, and their many international backers, intelligence agencies and private contractors are all in the knowledge that a chemical weapons attack will incur a western military response, resulting in their desired objective: the removal of Assad. There is already a strong case being made that the “rebels” have deployed a form of sarin in a home-made shell fired on government forces in Khan al-Assal. Russia has provided the UN with evidence to this effect and Khan al-Assal was one of the sites on the list to be visited by the UN inspection team. Moreover, in May this year UN investigator Carla Del Ponte pointed the finger at the “rebels” for the use of chemical weapons, a fact that has been thoroughly whitewashed in both western media and from the duplicitous mouths of western diplomats – who still claim that “rebels” don’t have the capability to launch chemical weapons. Contrary to western diplomats hollow claims; in late May militant cells with links to Jabhat al Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham were found in both Iraq and Turkey with sarin and other chemical weapons materiel in their possession – another fact that received only light attention in western media, and has been virtually ignored in any western diplomats talking points.

Framed in the above context, and with the “evidence” – or glaring lack of it – to date to prove the US’ assertions; it cannot be logically, or honestly implied that the Syrian military has used chemical weapons – or has any intention to, knowing it would be certain suicide. Thus, one can only logically draw the assumption that this latest alleged CW attack is a repeat of previous attempts to incite western intervention, but on a much larger and deadlier scale. It could have any number of culprits, but the Syrian government is possibly the least likely. Yet the United States (arbiter of the world) has dismissed such notions on the premise that the “rebels” don’t have the capability: the United States is quite literally overruling UN investigators in order to carry out regime change to meet its own geopolitical objectives (again).

The clearest signal of this intention came when several members of the Obama administration intentionally mislead reporters and stated several times that the Syrian government blocked an immediate investigation into the recent alleged CW attack in Ghouta. This was a blatant lie and the US knew it; it was in fact the UN that held up the investigation through fear for their own safety in a what was a contested area. The Syrian government gave its immediate blessing for an investigation and escorted the UN team to the site for a short time; at which point it was fired upon by unknown snipers and retreated to the safety of an army checkpoint. Another clear indicator of Obama’s aggressive intention is the blatant double-standard being applied; the UN team is inside Syria to specifically investigate alleged CW attacks that occurred 5 months ago, and presumably the US would have accepted its findings. Not only this, but the UN team does not have a mandate to determine the source of chemical weapons use – only to determine whether they have been used or not. Yet the UN team has been granted access to an alleged CW attack site by the Syrian government only 5 days after the event, and the Obama administration is claiming that any results from the investigation are now “too late to be credible”?

Now why would the Obama administration lie? I thought they were reluctant for war?

CIA gun-running: Qatar-Libya-Syria.

A report from CNN’s Jake Tapper has reintroduced “Benghazi-Gate” to the US media spotlight. The report claims that “dozens” of CIA operatives were on the ground in Benghazi on the night of the attack, and the CIA is going to great lengths to suppress details of them and their whereabouts being released. The report alleges that the CIA is engaged in “unprecedented” attempts to stifle employee leaks, and “intimidation” to keep the secrets of Benghazi hidden, allegedly going as far as changing the names of CIA operatives and “dispersing” them around the country.

One suspects this has a single and defined purpose – to hide the CIA’s culpability in supplying arms to known extremists in Libya and Syria. Moreover, the CNN report alludes to the CIA supplying “surface-to-air missiles” from Benghazi to rebels in Syria, but this may only be the tip of the iceberg. The report goes on to state: (my emphasis)

Sources now tell CNN dozens of people working for the CIA were on the ground that night, and that the agency is going to great lengths to make sure whatever it was doing, remains a secret. CNN has learned the CIA is involved in what one source calls an unprecedented attempt to keep the spy agency’s Benghazi secrets from ever leaking out.

Since January, some CIA operatives involved in the agency’s missions in Libya, have been subjected to frequent, even monthly polygraph examinations, according to a source with deep inside knowledge of the agency’s workings. The goal of the questioning, according to sources, is to find out if anyone is talking to the media or Congress. It is being described as pure intimidation, with the threat that any unauthorized CIA employee who leaks information could face the end of his or her career.

Speculation on Capitol Hill has included the possibility the U.S. agencies operating in Benghazi were secretly helping to move surface-to-air missiles out of Libya, through Turkey, and into the hands of Syrian rebels.

Although Saudi Arabia have recently been kindly given “the Syrian card” by the United States – with Prince Bandar once again becoming “Prince of the Jihad”; it has become common knowledge that since the onset of the Syrian crisis, it was Qatar at the forefront of supplying arms and funds to both the political and militant elements of the so-called “opposition”. This has undoubtedly included tacit support of the dominant radical elements among the plethora of brigades on the ground in Syria; with Jabhat al Nusra being the most obvious beneficiary of Qatari largesse. Earlier this year it was reported that the CIA had been in direct “consultation” with the Qatari Monarchys’ network of arms smugglers – run primarily from the Emir’s palace in Doha. Accordingly, it seems certain that both the CIA and Qatari intelligence were involved in an operation to ship arms stockpiles from “rebels” in Libya; to the “rebels” in Syria: both varieties of which are inextricably linked to Al Qaeda affiliates and radical Salafi-Jihadi militants.

A New York Times report from 30th March 2011 reveals that the CIA had been active in Libya “for weeks”, to “gather information for [NATO] airstrikes, and to contact and ‘vet’ the rebels battling “Gaddafi’s forces”. The New York Times report also states that Obama had signed a presidential finding in the weeks previous, which gave authority to the CIA to arm and fund the rebels. Furthermore, the Independent revealed in March 2011 that Obama had requested Saudi Arabia supply arms to the Libyan militants. Obama had also given his blessing for Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to ship arms into Benghazi, urging them to supply non-US manufactured arms to avert suspicion – in violation of the No-Fly Zone and arms embargo he helped to enforce, and all in total violation of the US Constitution and International Law.

The current Libyan authorities have made little effort to disassociate themselves from reports of large-scale arms shipments bound for Syria, leaving from the port of Benghazi. As stated in a UN Security Council report; the sheer size, monetary and logistical requirement to organise such delivery would almost certainly require at least some local government knowledge and assistance, one Libyan congress-member has openly admitted as such. Moreover, in a Telegraph report from November 2011, it is noted that the post-Gaddafi Libyan military commander Abdel Hakim Belhadj – widely regarded as the former leader of Al Qaeda affiliate: the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) and a lead figure in the militant uprising against Gaddafi – visited members of the Syrian opposition “Free Syrian Army” (FSA) in Turkey to discuss sending “money and weapons”, and also discussed “Libyan fighters to train troops”.

In a Fox News report from December 2012  an “International Cargo-Shipper” candidly revealed that arms shipments from Libya to Syria commenced “almost immediately after the fall of Muammar Qaddafi” (Oct 2011) and had continued on a weekly basis from multiple ports including Misrata and Benghazi. Some of the “sources” shipments were reported to be in excess of 600 tons. The report goes on to quote anonymous “sources” on the ground in Benghazi as alleging that: “Weapons and fighters were absolutely going to Syria, and the U.S. absolutely knew all about it – though most shipments have stopped since the attack on the American Consulate,”

Furthermore, an extensive UN report from the Security Council group of experts, from April 2013, also highlights the rife lawless proliferation of arms throughout Libya, and seeping beyond its borders. The report states that arms are fueling conflicts from Syria to Mali, and spreading from Libya at an “alarming rate”. Qatar and the United Arab Emirates were singled out in the UN report for blatant violations of the arms embargo during the 2011 “uprising” against Gaddafi; the report revealed that multiple Qatari arms shipments had been allowed to flow into Libya with the full knowledge and acquiescence of NATO – in much the same way they have been allowed to flow into Turkey from Qatar, with Syria being the final destination.

Elements of the Libyan “military” leadership undoubtedly have strong links to former Al Qaeda affiliates, and were brought to power via Qatari largesse and special forces, CIA coordination, and a NATO airforce. Considering this, it is not hard to imagine the same actors would be willing to at least “turn a blind eye” to what has become an overt and unabated Libyan arms-smuggling route into Syria, as is once again demonstrated in this June 18th 2013 report from Reuters, titled: “The adventures of a Libyan weapons dealer in Syria:

Abdul Basit Haroun (former comander of “February 17th brigade”) says he is behind some of the biggest shipments of weapons from Libya to Syria, which he delivers on chartered flights to neighboring countries and then smuggles over the border….  A Reuters reporter was taken to an undisclosed location in Benghazi to see a container of weapons being prepared for delivery to Syria. It was stacked with boxes of ammunition, rocket launchers and various types of light and medium weapons.

Haroun says he can collect weapons from around the country and arrange for them to be delivered to the Syrian rebels because of his contacts in Libya and abroad. “They know we are sending guns to Syria,” Haroun said. “Everyone knows.” His weapon dealing activities appear to be well-known, at least in Libya’s east. Senior officials in Libya’s army and government told Reuters they backed supplying weapons to the Syrian opposition, while a member of Libya’s congress said Haroun was doing a great job of helping the Syrian rebels.

Furthermore, according to a recent New York Times report from June 29th 2013, Qatar have been carrying out arms shipments to “rebels” in Syria from Libya, since at least the same time they “stepped up efforts” to oust Colonel Gaddafi. Consequently, this can only be interpreted as Qatar commencing shipments of arms to Syria – from Benghazi – before Gaddafi had been killed, which means before October 2011.

It is highly plausible that Benghazi was indeed a CIA-run arms “buy-back” program – with the further “possible” intent of forwarding those arms to Syria. As the State Department has confirmed, it allocated $40 million dollars for the purchase and “collection” of arms used during the conflict in Libya, including a “missing” stockpile of up to 20,000 MANPADS – which at least 15,000 are still unaccounted for. A report written by former US special forces operatives who served in Libya titled “Benghazi: the definitive report”, alleges that the “consulate” and weapons stockpile program was entirely run by John Brennan – Obama’s National Security Advisor at the time and now Director of the CIA – and outside the usual CIA chain of command; with the sole purpose of “moving the stockpiled weapons to the another conflict – possibly Syria”. Furthermore, it should also be noted that several prominent US government figures (Clinton, Brennan, Patreaus, et al) were openly lobbying for that precise policy; this adds the possiblity that certain players within the government or the many factions of the Military Industrial Complex may have been acting outside of the Obama administrations specific consent – or building the logistics to fulfill such policy in the future. Thus, a possible explanation of the attack on the “consulate” – which we can now assume was a CIA operated arms cache – was the Obama administrations’ public reluctance to supply MANPADS or other specific heavy weaponry to the rebels fighting in Syria. Moreover, the authors of “Benghazi: the definitive report” claim that John Brennnan was targetting hardline Islamist militia in Libya via drone strikes and special operations, which may provide another pretext for the attack. Certain rebel factions, their regional donors, or their Libyan affiliates may have felt aggrieved and decided to act against the CIA and attempt to seize the weapons under their own volition.

The Libyan weapons route to Syria has quite possibly been ongoing since Qatari (and Western) special forces and their Libyan Al Qaeda affiliated proxies took a hold of Benghazi. In turn the shipments to Syria have gradually increased as Gaddafi’s stockpiles became available and the lawless possibilities inside Libya expanded. These developments could also explain fighters of Libyan origin representing a large percentage of foreign fighters within the oppositions ranks; with a recent study finding Libyan fighters making up over twenty percent of foreign fatalities in Syria. If Qatar were indeed coordinating arms shipments from Libya to Syria during the early stages of the Syrian crisis in 2011, and the CIA have also been “consulting” the Qatari shipments and their follow-on transit points through Turkey; then the simplistic mainstream narrative and timeline of the conflict in Syria merely erupting from the suppression of peaceful protesters, and in turn spiralling into full-blown civil-war, is again brought into doubt.

Uncovering the chain of events that led to the attack on the US “consulate”, and the variety of militia the US and its allies were arming in Libya; could in turn reveal the full extent of the Obama administrations’ support of extremist proxy-forces in Syria. Which may help to explain the administrations’ zealous attempts to stifle any debate or serious questioning of the events that surround Benghazi.