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I want to give testimony on what are called the “highways of death.”
These are the two Kuwaiti roadways, littered with remains of 2,000 mangled Iraqi military vehicles, and the charred and dismembered bodies of tens of thousands of Iraqi soldiers, who were withdrawing from Kuwait on February 26th and 27th 1991 in compliance with UN resolutions.
US planes trapped the long convoys by disabling vehicles in the front, and at the rear, and then pounded the resulting traffic jams for hours. “It was like shooting fish in a barrel,” said one US pilot. The horror is still there to see.
On the inland highway to Basra is mile after mile of burned, smashed, shattered vehicles of every description – tanks, armored cars, trucks, autos, fire trucks, according to the March 18, 1991, Time magazine. On the sixty miles of coastal highway, Iraqi military units sit in gruesome repose, scorched skeletons of vehicles and men alike, black and awful under the sun, says the Los Angeles Times of March 11, 1991. While 450 people survived the inland road bombing to surrender, this was not the case with the 60 miles of the coastal road. There for 60 miles every vehicle was strafed or bombed, every windshield is shattered, every tank is burned, every truck is riddled with shell fragments. No survivors are known or likely. The cabs of trucks were bombed so much that they were pushed into the ground, and it’s impossible to see if they contain drivers or not. Windshields were melted away, and huge tanks were reduced to shrapnel.
“Even in Vietnam I didn’t see anything like this. It’s pathetic,” said Major Bob Nugent, an Army intelligence officer. This one-sided carnage, this racist mass murder of Arab people, occurred while White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater promised that the US and its coalition partners would not attack Iraqi forces leaving Kuwait. This is surely one of the most heinous war crimes in contemporary history.
Eyewitness Kuwaitis attest that the withdrawal began the afternoon of February 26, 1991 and Baghdad radio announced at 2:00 AM (local time) that morning that the government had ordered all troops to withdraw.
The massacre of withdrawing Iraqi soldiers violates the Geneva Conventions of 1949, Common Article III, which outlaws the killing of soldiers who are out of combat. The point of contention involves the Bush administration’s claim that the Iraqi troops were retreating to regroup and fight again. Such a claim is the only way that the massacre which occurred could be considered legal under international law. But in fact the claim is false and obviously so. The troops were withdrawing and removing themselves from combat under direct orders from Baghdad that the war was over and that Iraq had quit and would fully comply with UN resolutions. To attack the soldiers returning home under these circumstances is a war crime.
Iraq accepted UN Resolution 660 and offered to withdraw from Kuwait through Soviet mediation on February 21, 1991. A statement made by George Bush on February 27, 1991, that no quarter would be given to remaining Iraqi soldiers violates even the US Field Manual of 1956. The 1907 Hague Convention governing land warfare also makes it illegal to declare that no quarter will be given to withdrawing soldiers. On February 26,199 I, the following dispatch was filed from the deck of the USS. Ranger, under the byline of Randall Richard of the Providence Journal:
“Air strikes against Iraqi troops retreating from Kuwait were being launched so feverishly from this carrier today that pilots said they took whatever bombs happened to be closest to the flight deck. The crews, working to the strains of the Lone Ranger theme, often passed up the projectile of choice . . . because it took too long to load.”
New York Times reporter Maureen Dowd wrote, “With the Iraqi leader facing military defeat, Mr. Bush decided that he would rather gamble on a violent and potentially unpopular ground war than risk the alternative: an imperfect settlement hammered out by the Soviets and Iraqis that world opinion might accept as tolerable.”
In short, rather than accept the offer of Iraq to surrender and leave the field of battle, Bush and the US military strategists decided simply to kill as many Iraqis as they possibly could while the chance lasted…
Continue this story at ROAR Magazine
While America and Europe changes their social media profile pictures to show solidarity with victims of one European country, then another, victims of terrorism in non-European and American countries are receiving virtual no attention – let alone sympathy – when they receive even higher death tolls from ISIS.
After the horrific attack on Brussels, it’s worth noting how the major attacks that have recently been carried out by ISIS, or ISIS-sympathizing groups, have been reported in the media – and subsequently how they have been received on social media:
March 20, 2015, Yemen, 137 killed – no headline
April 18, 2015, Afghanistan, 33 killed – no headline
June 26, 2015, Tunisia, 38 killed – no headline
June 29, 2015, Yemen, 35 killed – no headline
October 10, 2015, Ankara, Turkey, 97 killed – no headline
October 31, 2015, Russian plan, 224 killed – HEADLINE NEWS
November 21, 2015, Beirut, 43 killed – no headline
November 13, 2015, Paris, 130 killed – HEADLINE NEWS
December 2, 2015, San Bernardino, 14 killed – HEADLINE NEWS
January 8, 2016 Libya, 50 killed – no headline
March 6, 2016 (only two weeks ago), Baghdad, 47 killed – no headline
March 13, 2016 (last week), Grand-Bassam, 22 killed – no headline
March 15, 2016 (last week), Ankara, Turkey, 35 killed – no headline
ISIS is killing more Muslims and Africans than any other group. Yet for some reason Western media is only highlighting when Europeans and Americans get killed.
This feeds into a “Muslims are against us” mentality, when in fact what we are facing is an imperialist terrorist cult, that targets Muslims more than any other group of people.
Just last week, Grand-Bassam’s beaches were filled people enjoying the Sunday afternoon.
With temperatures on the rise, many across Ivory Coast came to the city’s oceanfront resorts to enjoy the ocean.
Six figures all in black appeared on the beach, wearing balaclavas and carrying guns. Before anyone could process what was going on, the terrorists opened fire.
They had AK-47 Kalashnikov rifles and hand grenades, which they used on anyone within sight.
When security forces arrived, the terrorist gunmen killed two of them as well.
“They killed a child, despite him kneeling down and begging,” one witness told the BBC. “They shot a woman in the chest. I swear, I heard them shouting ‘Allahu Akbar.’ They’ve killed innocent people.”
But aside from sources like the BBC and NPR, this story was simply not covered in the mainstream Western media.
The phrase “a Pig War” used in the title of this article has been mentioned in a number of previously published articles. Today, in view of another episode of escalation of inter-Korean relations, this phenomenon will be explained in detail. First, let us look at the causes of the new wave of antagonism. If we focus on the role of mutual demonization and agitation, we will notice that a few factors heavily contribute to the transformation of a misunderstanding into a hostility.
First, demonization drastically reduces the chances for the resumption of the inter-Korean dialogue. And there is a certain logic behind that, “How can we engage in negotiations, or maintain “hot lines,” or the system of mutual awareness with them, a true embodiment of evil?” Consequently, the tools that are normally employed in the settlement of misunderstanding
Secondly, demonization is the root cause of distorted reality that manifests itself in several ways. First, any activity of the other party will be (incorrectly) interpreted as harmful based on the assumption that the other party is a bunch of “bloodthirsty ill-wishers.” Accordingly, any activity will be viewed as a preparation for a provocation or as a provocation in progress.
At the same time, analysis and expert examinations are twisted to play the role of yet another cog in the propaganda machine. Naturally, in the situation of mutual resentment, those trying to voice the true state of affairs will be silenced and those “greasing the wheel of propaganda machine” will be in trend. What does the world see as a result? A phenomenon where people first invent a propaganda construct and then uphold it as the ultimate truth. And it is nearly impossible to convince them to abandon their delusion.
Demonization also leads to a mutual agitation manifested in two ways. First, both parties act on the principle of an asymmetrical response, i.e., they harshly retaliate for any minor provocation. In other words, when a country is on the “red alert,” the shoot-and-kill tactic is applied each time something seems to be suspicious.
Second, mutual agitation creates a stressful environment for the parties to the conflict. The lower strata of the society experiences the most severe pressure. That, in turn, increases the chances of an inadequate reaction to some strange or unusual events.
As a result, the likelihood of a conflict triggered by an insignificant or engineered cause increases tremendously and is often referred to as “the Pig War.”
Here is a hypothetical situation. Let us speculate how things will develop in it. A pig is rustling in the bushes of a demilitarized zone. There are military personnel on either side of the zone. They have long been on the verge of a nervous break and have been subconsciously waiting for an enemy provocation. They are ready to leap into action to settle accounts with the scoundrels from the other side of the demilitarization zone.
One of the parties (it does not matter which one) loses the nerve and, having decided that it is not a pig in the bushes, but creeping saboteurs, opens fire. Having heard shots coming from the other side, the other party returns fire. It also reports to its leadership that it has (in compliance with the instructions) harshly retaliated for a provocation.
The party that started shooting at the pig and received a return fire also retaliates severely, while reporting to its commanders that it has been attacked without a declaration of war. In the aftermath, each party actively blames the other party for being attacked for no apparent reason. Then zealous military steps in: “Won’t you finally give us a chance to teach these scoundrels a lesson!” Then politicians join the choir: “This time we must not soften the issue and let them get away with it! We cannot afford to act as some weaklings. We must keep up our country’s prestige in the eyes of the public!” But situation is such as there is no way to determine what triggered this turmoil. On the other hand, nobody really cares to find out either. Because those who were wishing for a turmoil are now rubbing their hands.
Another point is that in these circumstances the overall picture of the political situation and military power of the opponent’s country can be significantly distorted. Ideological “blinders” can grant tremendous assistance as well. As a result, the parties might find themselves in a very unpleasant situation. For example, the South might believe that the “senseless bloody regime” of the North is about to collapse and that it really makes plans to attack the defenseless South. The South might also believe that there is a strong Christian opposition in the country and that mass protests are about to erupt. Basing their assumptions on these imaginary believes, they would expect that intervention of South Korean or American military aiming at the elimination of nuclear sites or the top country officials would gain support of the country’s population, or would, at least, resemble the plot of a Korean action movie. The North, in its turn, might believe that fancy reports about South Korean indestructible might are just reports, that the change of the puppet regime is inevitable and that the highly praised warriors of the US Army are cowards unable to fight without high-tech bathrooms and a 24-hour supply of ice cream. As a result, both parties would be preparing for an armed conflict not with the real North or South, but with some fictitious characters from the distorted “cartoon/propaga
That seems like quite a realistic scenario for the initiation of a conflict. And it would be very difficult to discern where the fiction ends and the reality begins. Because at some point the damage suffered by each party would be so significant that nobody would be able to walk away by just saying “oh, we are sorry, it was just a misunderstanding
without losing their face. And that means that it would not matter
anymore who initiated the fire. The winner’s version would go down in
the history books.
The readers could notice that the topic of risk of “irrational factors” and the role of an accident, which is much more serious than it might seem, has been brought up in our articles on numerous occasions. It was zoomed in to show that despite majority of people think of politics as of something orderly, planned in advance and targeting long-term political goals, in reality things sometimes happen chaotically. And if ordinary people cannot understand something, they immediately classify the situation as an intricate combination of moves devised by some cunning politicians. In this context even “the Pig War” described above could be interpreted as a crafty design developed by the top officials. And this is why the irrational factor is so serious and so dangerous. And this is why the readers are reminded of it whenever it is appropriate to bring this subject up.
written by : Konsantin Asmolov [Konstantin Asmolov, Ph.D, Chief Research Fellow of the Center for Korean Studies, Institute of Far Eastern Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”]
The survey of electoral preferences, conducted on the site On the eve in the period from February 24 to March 1, revealed a curious section of opinions. Against the backdrop of the deteriorating socio-economic situation in the vast majority of "virtual vote" KPRF received.
The survey, which was only one question: "Who would you vote for in the elections to the Duma?", The site was attended by 2 thousand 487 respondents - it is even more than in the standard opinion polls, which are conducted by VTsIOM, but naturally. it does not take into account the sociological sample.
On the leading place was the Communist Party, which received 44.4% of the votes polled.Remained in second place, "United Russia" won only 8%, while the other parties have failed to overcome the 5% barrier. 4.7% received "Falcons Zhirinovsky" further ahead "Socialist", located "Homeland" with 3.9%. Same result - by 3.6% scored "Fair Russia" and "RPR-Parnas", 0.1% of them are behind "The Communists of Russia".
As for the other parties with an opportunity to participate in the elections to the State Duma without collecting signatures, the "Apple" has collected 1.8% of the vote, "party of pensioners" - 1.1%, "Patriots of Russia" - 1%. "Just Cause", "Civic Platform", "Green" and "Civil Force" were the result of lower than 1%.
Seeing the government in Damascus as too far to the left, Washington has been trying to orchestrate a regime change in Syria since at least 2003
Documents prepared by US Congress researchers as early as 2005 revealed that the US government was actively weighing regime change in Syria long before the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011, challenging the view that US support for the Syrian rebels is based on allegiance to a “democratic uprising” and showing that it is simply an extension of a long-standing policy of seeking to topple the government in Damascus. Indeed, the researchers made clear that the US government’s motivation to overthrow the government of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad is unrelated to democracy promotion in the Middle East. In point of fact, they noted that Washington’s preference is for secular dictatorships (Egypt) and monarchies (Jordan and Saudi Arabia.). The impetus for pursuing regime change, according to the researchers, was a desire to sweep away an impediment to the achievement of US goals in the Middle East related to strengthening Israel, consolidating US domination of Iraq, and fostering free-market, free enterprise economies. Democracy was never a consideration.
The researchers revealed further that an invasion of Syria by US forces was contemplated following the US-led aggression against Iraq in 2003, but that the unanticipated heavy burden of pacifying Iraq militated against an additional expenditure of blood and treasure in Syria. As an alternative to direct military intervention to topple the Syrian government, the United States chose to pressure Damascus through sanctions and support for the internal Syrian opposition.
The documents also revealed that nearly a decade before the rise of Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra that the US government recognized that Islamic fundamentalists were the main opposition to the secular Assad government and worried about the re-emergence of an Islamist insurgency that could lead Sunni fundamentalists to power in Damascus. A more recent document from the Congress’s researchers describes a US strategy that seeks to eclipse an Islamist take-over by forcing a negotiated settlement to the conflict in Syria in which the policing, military, judicial and administrative functions of the Syrian state are preserved, while Assad and his fellow Arab nationalists are forced to leave office. The likelihood is that if this scenario plays out that Assad and his colleagues will be replaced by biddable US surrogates willing to facilitate the achievement of US goals.
In 2005, Congress’s researchers reported that a consensus had developed in Washington that change in Syria needed to be brought about, but that there remained divisions on the means by which change could be effected. “Some call for a process of internal reform in Syria or alternatively for the replacement of the current Syrian regime,” the report said. Whichever course Washington would settle on, it was clear that the US government was determined to shift the policy framework in Damascus.
The document described the Assad government as an impediment “to the achievement of US goals in the region.”  These goals were listed as: resolving “the Arab-Israeli conflict;” fighting “international terrorism;” reducing “weapons proliferation;” inaugurating “a peaceful, democratic and prosperous Iraqi state;” and fostering market-based, free enterprise economies.
Stripped of their elegant words, the US objectives for the Middle East amounted to a demand that Damascus capitulate to the military hegemony of Israel and the economic hegemony of Wall Street. To be clear, what this meant was that in order to remove itself as an impediment to the achievement of US goals—and hence as an object of US hostility—Syria would have to:
● Accept Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state on territory seized from Palestinians, and quite possibly also Syrians and Lebanese, possibly within borders that include the Golan Heights, annexed from Syria by Israel in 1987 and occupied by Israel since 1967.
● End its support for militant groups seeking Palestinian self-determination and sever its connections with the resistance organization Hezbollah, the main bulwark against Israeli expansion into Lebanon.
● Leave itself effectively defenceless against the aggressions of the United States and its Middle East allies, including Israel, by abandoning even the capability of producing weapons of mass destruction (while conceding a right to Israel and the United States to maintain vast arsenals of WMD.)
● Terminate its opposition to US domination of neighboring Iraq.
● Transform what the US Congress’s researchers called Syria’s mainly publicly-owned economy, “still based largely on Soviet models,” into a sphere of exploitation for US corporations and investors.
US government objections to Syrian policy, then, can be organized under three US-defined headings:
● Economic reform.
These headings translate into:
● Support for Palestinian and Lebanese resistance groups.
● Economic sovereignty.
Terrorism (support for Palestinian and Lebanese resistance groups)The researchers noted that while Syria had “not been implicated directly in an act of terrorism since 1986” that “Syria has continued to provide support and safe haven for Palestinian groups” seeking self-determination, allowing “them to maintain offices in Damascus.” This was enough for the US government to label Syria a state sponsor of terrorism. The researchers went on to note that on top of supporting Palestinian “terrorists” that Damascus also supported Lebanese “terrorists” by permitting “Iranian resupply via Damascus of the Lebanese Shiite Muslim militia Hezbollah in Lebanon.”
|Hezbollah supporters wave Hezbollah and Palestinian flags|
during a demonstration against the Israeli offensive in Gaza
The Syrian government rejected the characterization of Hezbollah and Palestinian militants as “terrorists,” noting that the actions of these groups represented legitimate resistance. Clearly, Washington had attempted to discredit the pursuit of Palestinian self-determination and Lebanese sovereignty by labelling the champions of these causes as terrorists.
WMD (self-defense)“In a speech to the Heritage Foundation on May 6, 2002, then US Under Secretary (of State John) Bolton grouped Syria with Libya and Cuba as rogue states that…are pursuing the development of WMD.” Later that year, Bolton echoed his earlier accusation, telling the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the Bush administration was very concerned about Syrian nuclear and missile programs. By September 2003, Bolton was warning of a “range of Syrian WMD programs.”
Syria clearly had chemical weapons (now destroyed), though hardly in the same quantities as the much larger arsenals of the United States, Russia and (likely) its regional nemesis, Israel. Citing the Washington Post, Congress’s researchers noted that Syria had “sought to build up its CW and missile capabilities as a ‘force equalizer’ to counter Israeli nuclear capabilities.” It should be noted, however, that the idea that chemical weapons can act as a force equalizer to nuclear weapons is not only untenable, but risible. In WWI it took 70,000 tons of gas to produce as many fatalities as were produced at Hiroshima by a single US atom bomb. To have any meaning at all, the concept of WMD must include weapons that kill massive numbers of people (nuclear weapons) and exclude those that don’t (chemical weapons.) Otherwise, it is a propaganda term used to magnify the non-threat posed by countries seeking independence outside the US orbit which have CW and biological weapons, but which weapons are no match for the United States’ nuclear weapons and are dwarfed by the Pentagon’s own CW and BW arsenals. Deceptively labelling these weapons as WMD, makes a non-threat a large threat that must be dealt with through military intervention and thereby provides a public relations rationale for a war of aggression.
|U.S.-trained rebels in Syria hand over weapons to al Qaeda affiliate|
US president George H.W. Bush is responsible for rendering the concept of WMD meaningless by expanding it to include chemical agents. Before Bush, WMD was a term to denote nuclear weapons or weapons of similar destructive capacity that might be developed in the future. Bush debased the definition in order to go to war with Iraq. He needed to transform the oil-rich Arab country from being seen accurately as a comparatively weak country militarily to being seen inaccurately as a significant threat because it possessed weapons now dishonestly rebranded as being capable of producing mass destruction. It was an exercise in war propaganda.
In 1989, Bush pledged to eliminate the United States’ chemical weapons by 1999. Seventeen years later, the Pentagon is still sitting on the world’s largest stockpile of militarized chemical agents. US allies Israel and Egypt also have chemical weapons. In 2003, Syria proposed to the United Nations Security Council that the Middle East become a chemical weapons-free zone. The proposal was blocked by the United States, likely in order to shelter Israel from having to give up its store of chemical arms. Numerous calls to declare the Middle East a nuclear weapons-free zone have also been blocked by Washington to shelter Israel from having to give up its nuclear arsenal.
|Pro-Assad forces are not anti-war, they are for the Assad regime's war|
on all opposition forces -- secular, Islamist, and Christian alike
Since the only legitimate WMD are nuclear weapons, and since there is no evidence that Syria has even the untapped capability of producing them, much less possesses them, Syria has never been a WMD-state or a threat to the US goal of reducing WMD proliferation. What’s more, the claim that Washington holds this as a genuine goal is contestable, since it has blocked efforts to make the Middle East a chemical- and nuclear-weapons-free zone, in order to spare its protégé, Israel. It would be more accurate to say that the United States has a goal of reducing weapons proliferation among countries it may one day invade, in order to make the invasion easier. Moreover, there’s an egregious US double-standard here. Washington maintains the world’s largest arsenals of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, but demands that countries it opposes should abandon their own, or foreswear their development. This is obviously self-serving and has nothing whatever to do with fostering peace and everything to do with promoting US world domination. One US grievance with Assad’s Syria, then, is that it refused to accept the international dictatorship of the United States.
Economic reform (economic sovereignty)
To recapitulate the respective positions of Syria and the United States on issues of bilateral concern to the two countries:
On Israel. To accept Israel’s right to exist as a settler state on land illegitimately acquired through violence and military conquest from Palestinians, Lebanese (the Shebaa Farms) and Syrians (Golan), would be to collude in the denial of the fundamental right of self-determination. Damascus has refused to collude in the negation of this right. Washington demands it.
On Hezbollah. Hezbollah is the principal deterrent against Israeli territorial expansion into Lebanon and Israeli aspirations to turn the country into a client state. Damascus’s support for the Lebanese resistance organization, and Washington’s opposition to it, places the Assad government on the right side of the principle of self-determination and successive US governments on the wrong side.
On WMD. Syria has a right to self-defense through means of its own choosing and the demand that it abandon its right is not worthy of discussion. The right to self-defense is a principle the United States and its allies accept as self-evident and non-negotiable. It is not a principle that is valid only for the United States and its satellites.
On opposition to the US invasion of Iraq. The 2003 US-led aggression against Iraq was an international crime on a colossal scale, based on an illegitimate casus belli, and a fabricated one at that, and which engendered massive destruction and loss of life. It was the supreme international crimes by the standards of the Nuremberg trials. Applying the Nuremberg principles, the perpetrators would be hanged. US aggression against Iraq, including the deployment of “sanctions of mass destruction” through the 1990s, which led to hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths, and was blithely accepted by then US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright as “worth it,” was undertaken despite the absence of any threat to the United States. The deliberate creation of humanitarian calamities in the absence of a threat, as a matter of choice and not necessity, in pursuit of economic gain, is an iniquity on a signal scale. What, then, are we to think of a government in Damascus that opposed this iniquity, and a government in Washington that demands that Damascus reverse its opposition and accept the crime as legitimate?
In 2003, the Bush administration listed Syria as part of a junior varsity axis of evil, along with Cuba and Libya, citing support in Damascus for Hezbollah and groups engaged in armed struggle to achieve Palestinian self-determination.  An invasion of Syria following the US take-over of Iraq in 2003 was contemplated, but was called off after the Pentagon discovered its hands were full quelling resistance to its occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. As an alternative to direct military intervention to topple the Syrian government, the United States chose to pressure Assad through sanctions and by strengthening the opposition in Syria, hoping either to force Assad to accept Israel’s territorial gains, end support for Hezbollah and Palestinian militant groups, and to remake the economy—or to yield power. However, as Congress’s researchers reveal, there were concerns in Washington that if efforts to bolster the opposition went too far, Assad would fall to “a successor regime (which) could be led by Islamic fundamentalists who might adopt policies even more inimical to the United States.”
On December 12, 2003, US president George W. Bush signed the Syria Accountability Act, which imposed sanctions on Syria unless, among other things, Damascus halted its support for Hezbollah and Palestinian resistance groups and ceased “development of weapons of mass destruction.” The sanctions included bans on exports of military equipment and civilian goods that could be used for military purposes (in other words, practically anything.) This was reinforced with an additional (and largely superfluous) ban on US exports to Syria other than food and medicine, as well as a prohibition against Syrian aircraft landing in or overflying the United States.
On top of these sanctions, Bush imposed two more. Under the USA PATRIOT Act, the US Treasury Department ordered US financial institutions to sever connections with the Commercial Bank of Syria.
And under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, the US president froze the assets of Syrians involved in supporting policies hostile to the United States, which is to say, supporting Hezbollah and groups fighting for Palestinian self-determination, refusing to accept as valid territorial gains which Israel had made through wars of aggression, and operating a largely publicly-owned, state-planned economy, based on Soviet models.
In order to strengthen internal opposition to the Syrian government, Bush signed the Foreign Operations Appropriation Act. This act required that a minimum of $6.6 million “be made available for programs supporting democracy in Syria…as well as unspecified amounts of additional funds (emphasis added).”
By 2006, Time was reporting that the Bush administration had “been quietly nurturing individuals and parties opposed to the Syrian government in an effort to undermine the regime of President Bashar Assad.” Part of the effort was being run through the National Salvation Front. The Front included “the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist organization that for decades supported the violent overthrow of the Syrian government.” Front representatives “were accorded at least two meetings” at the White House in 2006. Hence, the US government, at its highest level, was colluding with Islamists to bring down the Syrian government at least five years before the eruption of protests in 2011. This is a development that seems to have escaped the notice of some who believe that violent Islamist organizations emerged only after March 2011. In point of fact, the major internal opposition to secular Syrian governments, both before and after March 2011, were and are militant Sunni Islamists. Syria expert Joshua Landis told Time that White House support for the Syrian opposition was “apparently an effort to gin up the Syrian opposition under the rubric of ‘democracy promotion’ and ‘election monitoring,’ but it’s really just an attempt to pressure the Syrian government into doing what the United States wants.”
The US Congress researchers noted that despite “US calls for democracy in the Middle East, historically speaking, US policymakers” have tended to favor “secular Arab republics (Egypt) and Arab monarchies (Jordan and Saudi Arabia.)” They noted too that since “the rise of political Islam as an opposition vehicle in the Middle East decades ago, culminating in the 1979 overthrow of the Shah of Iran, US policymakers have been concerned that secular Arab dictatorships like Syria would face rising opposition from Islamist groups seeking their overthrow.” “The religiously fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood,” which the Bush administration enlisted to pressure the Assad government, had long been at odds with the secular Syrian government, the researchers noted.
Today, Islamic State operates as one of the largest, if not the largest, rebel groups in Syria. A 2015 Congressional Research Service report cited an “unnamed senior State Department official” who observed:
We’ve never seen something like this. We’ve never seen a terrorist organization with 22,000 foreign fighters from a hundred countries all around the world. To put it in context—again, the numbers are fuzzy—but it’s about double of what went into Afghanistan over 10 years in the war against the Soviet Union. Those Jihadi fighters were from a handful of countries.”Islamic State differs from other militant Islamist opponents of the Syrian government in seeking to control territory, not only in Syria, but in Iraq and beyond. As such, it constitutes a threat to US domination of Iraq and influence throughout the Middle East and north Africa. In contrast, ideologically similar groups, such as Jabhat al-Nusra, limit the scope of their operations to Syria. They, therefore, constitute a threat to the Syrian government alone, and have proved, as a consequence, to be more acceptable to Washington.
|Assad demonstration held in Jerusalem against US intervention|
The US government has publicly drawn a distinction between Islamic State and the confined-to-Syria-therefore-acceptable rebels, seeking to portray the former as terrorists and the latter as moderates, regardless of the methods they use and their views on Islam and democracy. The deception is echoed by the US mass media, which often complain that when Russian warplanes target non-Islamic State rebels that they’re striking “moderates,” as if all rebels apart from Islamic State are moderates, by definition. US Director of Intelligence James Clapper acknowledged that “moderate” means little more than “not Islamic State.” He told the Council on Foreign Relations that “Moderate these days is increasingly becoming anyone who’s not affiliated with” Islamic State.
The rebels are useful to the US government. By putting military pressure on Damascus to exhaust the Syrian army, they facilitate the achievement of the immediate US goal of “forcing a negotiated settlement to the conflict that will see President Assad and some his supporters leave office while preserving the institutions and security structures of the Syrian state,”  as Congress’s researchers summarize US strategy. Hence, Islamic State exists both as a useful instrument of US policy, and as a threat to US domination and control of Iraq and the broader Middle East. To Washington, the terrorist organization is a double-edged sword, and is treated accordingly. US airstrikes on Islamic State appear calculated to weaken the terrorist group enough that it doesn’t gain more territory in Iraq, but not so much that pressure is taken off Damascus. A tepid approach to fighting the hyper-sectarian terrorist group fits with US president Barack Obama’s stated goal of degrading and ultimately destroying Islamic State, which appears to mean destroying it only after it has served its purpose of exhausting the Syrian army. In the meantime, the anti-Shiite cut-throats are given enough latitude to maintain pressure on Syrian loyalists.
Congress’s researchers concur with this view. They conclude that “US officials may be concerned that a more aggressive campaign against the Islamic State may take military pressure off the” Syrian government. This means that the US president is moderating efforts to destroy Islamic State to allow a group he decries as “simply a network of killers who are brutalizing local populations” continue their work of brutalizing local populations. If he truly believed Islamic State was a scourge that needed to be destroyed, the US president would work with the Syrian government to expunge it. Instead, he has chosen to wield Islamic State as a weapon to expunge the Syrian government, in the service of building up Israel and fostering free market and free enterprise economies in the Middle East to accommodate US foreign investment and exports on behalf of his Wall Street sponsors.
By Stephen Gowans
While the sun seems to never set on the Madaya propaganda, Kafarya and Foua remains in the media shade. Still barely mentioned in mainstream media, the residents of Kafarya and Foua continue their daily struggles of a life under NATO backed terrorist siege.
The precarious ceasefire that has been broken many times since it was first implemented in August 2015, is still shattered by regular shelling of civilian homes in these two Idlib villages. I was speaking with one resident last week when he had to cut the conversation short as a house nearby had been hit by the terrorist shelling.
Anyone attempting to enter or leave the villages is liable to be shot by terrorist snipers positioned in the surrounding countryside. The UN still claims insurmountable difficulties and an inability to bypass the Ahrar al Sham checkpoints along the road into Kafarya & Foua.
Recent air drops by the Syrian Arab Air Force have succeeded in breaking the siege and supplying minimal medicines & food but the fuel situation is still desperate. The only delivery made back in January of a meagre 10,000 litres, is rapidly running out leaving hospitals unable to provide emergency treatment and ongoing chronic illness care.
One of the most heartbreaking images sent through to me is of a family member struggling to keep their relative alive by manual artificial respiration. There is no electricity to run the machinery that would normally keep them alive. Family members take it in turns to maintain the vital supply of oxygen or else this patient will die. Life hangs in the balance wherever you look in Kafarya and Foua. A malevolent, hostile force camped on their doorstep and villagers starving, cold and eking a miserable existence among the remains of their homes inside these decimated villages.
Barely any medical supplies remaining.
A few days ago tiny baby Zahraa relinquished her hold on life, succumbed to the starvation that had wracked her body from the moment she was born. She was not mentioned by the Guardian or the New York Times. She is irrelevant to the propagandists, life is meaningless to them unless it serves their purpose to demonize the Syrian Government and Army.
“Humanism is the only – I would go so far as saying the final- resistance we have against the inhuman practices and injustices that disfigure human history.” ~ Edward Said.
Auther: The wall will fall
Aleppo is the center piece of a new propaganda war, and Russia is tired of it.
On Wednesday US aircraft hit nine facilities in the Syrian city of Aleppo, then on the same day accused Russia of bombing two hospitals in city.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said,
“Yesterday, at 13:55 Moscow time (10:55 GMT), two American A-10 assault aircraft entered Syrian airspace from Turkey, flew right to the city of Aleppo and bombed targets there,”
Konashenkov referenced Pentagon spokesman Steve Warren who had claimed that, “with the destruction of the two main hospitals in Aleppo by Russian and regime attacks, over 50,000 Syrians are now without any access to live-saving assistance.”
Yet, Warren did not provide the hospitals’ coordinates, the time of the airstrikes, or the source of the information. Konashenkov said he provided “absolutely nothing.”
And, continuing he presented the central problem for the US claim:
“No Russian warplanes carried out airstrikes in Aleppo city area yesterday. The nearest target engaged was over 20km away from the city.”
Moreover, he said the Russians “did not have enough time to clarify what exactly those nine objects bombed out by US planes in Aleppo yesterday were,” meaning that it very well could have been the US planes that destroyed the hospitals.
The Russians are apparently tired of US propaganda and Konashenko bluntly stated the following:
“What they do first is make unfounded accusations against us – to deflect blame away from themselves. If it goes on like this, we’re going to make two media briefings: one for ourselves, another for those coalition guys,”
“Now they criticize us, saying we fly wrong way and bomb wrong places. Should we send them more maps?”
“If you look at how Western media presents information, it looks like the cities not controlled by the Syrian government are full of peaceful opposition and human rights activists,”
“They know for sure that neither the Russian Air Force nor the Syrian government troops ever deliver strikes on non-combatants.”
Aleppo has become the center piece of a new propaganda war against both the legal Syrian government and Russians operating in Syria legally. As Konashenkov insinuates, Aleppo is absolutely not filled with ‘peace opposition and human rights activists’, but armed groups of what can only be classified as terrorists.
Indeed, the Syrian army and the Russians are not attacking Aleppo, but defending it from foreign invaders.
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