Headlines

Middle East

The Americas?

Politics


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.


The Iraqi troops were not being driven out of Kuwait by US troops as the Bush administration maintains. They were not retreating in order to regroup and fight again. In fact, they were withdrawing, they were going home, responding to orders issued by Baghdad, announcing that it was complying with Resolution 660 and leaving Kuwait. At 5:35 p.m. (Eastern standard Time) Baghdad radio announced that Iraq’s Foreign Minister had accepted the Soviet cease-fire proposal and had issued the order for all Iraqi troops to withdraw to postions held before August 2, 1990 in compliance with UN Resolution 660. President Bush responded immediately from the White House saying (through spokesman Marlin Fitzwater) that “there was no evidence to suggest the Iraqi army is withdrawing. In fact, Iraqi units are continuing to fight. . . We continue to prosecute the war.” On the next day, February 26, 1991, Saddam Hussein announced on Baghdad radio that Iraqi troops had, indeed, begun to withdraw from Kuwait and that the withdrawal would be complete that day. Again, Bush reacted, calling Hussein’s announcement “an outrage” and “a cruel hoax.”

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

The French colonial green, white, and black banner of Syria adapted by the West’s proxy “Free Syrian Army” (FSA) had long been forgotten in the sea of black banners held aloft by Washington and Riyadh’s more extreme ploy to gain leverage upon and more direct access to the battlefield.

However, as Syrian forces backed by its regional allies and Russian airpower overwhelm these forces while building alliances with other factions, including the Kurds, the West’s entire regime change enterprise faces ignominious collapse.

It appears that – having exhausted all other options – the West has decided to change as many of those black banners back to the “rebel” green, white, and black as possible, before the conflict draws to a close, giving the West the most favorable position achievable ahead of “peace talks.”

The West’s Shape-Shifting Proxies 

For years, just looking at maps – including those produced by Washington-based think tanks themselves – revealed the true nature of Syria’s ongoing conflict. Forces could be seen flowing into the country as one would expect amid an invasion, not a “civil war.” While the West’s military campaigns over and upon Syrian soil claimed to be taking on the so-called “Islamic State” (ISIS), it was clear that nothing was being done about cutting off the obvious supply corridors sustaining ISIS’ fighting capacity.

In other words, the US and its “coalition’s” war on ISIS was feigned. No genuine military campaign would ever be fought on the front lines while neglecting the enemy’s logistical lifelines – especially when those lifelines led from NATO territory.

It wasn’t until Russia’s intervention on behalf of the Syrian government, that these corridors were targeted and disrupted – thus fully exposing the gambit for all the world to see.
Not surprisingly, as soon as this began, it had an immediate effect on the West’s proxy forces across the country. Since then, Russian-backed Syrian forces have incrementally begun sealing off Syria’s borders, isolating stranded terrorist factions within the interior of the country, and retaking territory as these forces atrophy and dissipate.

For years it has been asked why the West has done nothing about cutting these obvious supply corridors leading into Syria and sustaining terrorist factions like ISIS, Al Nusra, and their allies – groups which now clearly constitute the vast majority of militants fighting the Syrian government – even by the US government’s own admission.

As the global public becomes increasingly aware of this glaring point of logic, it appears that the West is now attempting to cynically leverage it, while simultaneously rescuing thousands of trapped terrorist mercenaries facing encirclement and eradication in the closing phases of the Syrian conflict.
Just last week, the “New Syrian Army,” a monkier for the discredited FSA, suddenly appeared on the Iraqi-Syrian border, “cutting off” ISIS supply lines leading back and forth between the two countries.
Reuters in their article, “Syrian rebels seize Iraq border crossing from Islamic State: monitor,” would claim:
Syrian rebel fighters seized a border crossing with Iraq from Islamic State on Friday, Britain-based war monitor the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Islamic State had controlled the al-Tanf border crossing, which is also near the Syrian-Jordanian border, since May last year after seizing it from Syrian government forces. It had been the last border crossing with Iraq that was under the control of the Syrian government.
The only “source” is the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is in fact a single man living in England who regularly coordinates with the British Foreign Ministry.

One could ask why such border interdiction operations haven’t been done before, and in fact, why these “rebels” who are admittedly harbored, trained, funded, and armed in Jordan and Turkey to begin with, didn’t first begin by securing Syria’s borders to prevent ISIS from entering the country in precisely the same areas “rebels” are supposedly operating?

The answer is simple. The West had no intention of stopping ISIS. In fact, ISIS is the “rebels” and the “rebels” are ISIS. Their “taking” of the Syrian-Iraqi border is superficial at best. The weapons, cash, and fighters will still flow, just as they do past NATO forces along the Turkish-Syrian border. The only difference is that now these terrorists will be flying the “FSA” flag, lending them protection amid a ceasefire agreed to in good faith by the Syrian government and its allies.

Rebels are Not Prevailing – ISIS is Just Flying a New Flag 

The ceasefire has, at least temporarily, bought time for terrorists groups Syria and Russia have – perhaps mistakenly – recognized as militant groups to be negotiated with. Taking full advantage of this, the “FSA” is now suddenly appearing as if rising from the dead, everywhere ISIS and Al Qaeda have dominated for years.

The New York Times published its own desperate bid to convince the global public that once again “pro-democracy protesters” were climbing out of the rubble in Idlib and Aleppo – two cities admittedly overrun by Al Qaeda and ISIS long ago – and flying the “FSA” flag.
The article titled, “Syrian Protesters Take to Streets as Airstrikes Ease,” claims that:

Street protests erupted across insurgent-held areas of Syria on Friday, as demonstrators took advantage of the relative lull in airstrikes during a partial truce, coming out in the largest numbers in years to declare that even after five punishing years of war they still wanted political change. 

Under the slogan “The Revolution Continues,” demonstrators waved the green, white and black pre-Baathist flag adopted during the early, largely peaceful stages of the revolt, before the proliferation of armed Islamist factions with black jihadist banners.
Five years on from the so-called “Arab Spring,” the fully engineered nature of the original protests in 2011 have been so thoroughly exposed and understood by the public, that few if anyone believes these protests now are anything but a desperately staged public-relations campaign to prove that there are people elsewhere besides Washington, Langley, London, and Brussels, that still seeks regime change in Syria.

The West’s terrorist proxies are changing from a war-footing – having lost the war – to a last-ditch posture of claiming legitimate opposition in hopes of salvaging what’s left of the political networks and terrorist fronts that collaborated with the West in this highly destructive conspiracy.

“Uprising” in Al Raqqa

Finally, in the very heart of the West’s proxy terrorist forces, Al Raqqa – the defacto capital of ISIS – there are suddenly reports of “uprisings” by the local population. This happens conveniently as the Syrian Arab Army approaches from the west and Kurds descend upon the city from the northeast.
Leading up to this “uprising” was a story in the London Telegraph titled, “Islamic State ‘hit by cash crisis in its capital Raqqa‘,” which claims:

Faced with a cash shortage in its self-declared caliphate, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has slashed salaries, asked Raqqa residents to pay utility bills in black market American dollars, and is now releasing detainees for a price of $500 a person.
While the Telegraph credits “coalition airstrikes” for this turn of fortune, it is quite obvious that Syrian and Russian airstrikes along the Turkish border destroying entire convoys bound for ISIS territory has led to a reduction in ISIS’ fighting capacity as well as its ability to administer seized territory.
Image: If Major Yaser Abdulrahim looks like he’s
never wore his FSA uniform out into the field,
that’s because he hasn’t. He is not a member of
the FSA at all, and is instead a commander of
the Fatah Halab, an umbrella group for Al Qaeda
affiliates armed and funded by both the US and
Saudi Arabia.

With a terrorist force the West has spent 5 years and untold billions creating facing complete encirclement and eradication, what options are left? An “uprising” where suddenly the entire city is flying “FSA” flags, thus negating the need for Syrian or Kurdish forces to move in and retake the city?

That appears to be the narrative the West is already preparing – in Raqqa and elsewhere across Syria – as a component amid the so-called “ceasefire” and “peace talks.”

The BBC had dressed up a terrorist commander in FSA regalia for an interview – but included footage of the commander in the field operating under clearly terrorist banners. It was but an individual example of what it appears the West is doing now on a much larger scale – playing dress-up to save its immense but now stranded terrorist hordes.

During early victories against the West’s proxy forces, Al Qaeda and ISIS militants would dress as women to flee the battlefield. Now, they are dressing up as the otherwise nonexistent “FSA.”

Will the West expect Syria and its allies to negotiate with this phantom army operating under a fictional banner? For Syria and its allies, what the West is doing is a clear violation of the spirit of the ceasefire and of upcoming peace talks. It is also a reaffirmation of the West’s disingenuous commitment to fighting terrorism – clearly using it as a tool to fight its battles for it,  to serve as a pretext for intervening when terrorism alone cannot achieve an objective, and then, when all else fails, covering up entire legions of terrorists so that they can live to fight another day.

Kennedy: Daesh is a By-Product of Washington's Drive for Qatari Gas

Washington military planners decided to remove Bashar al-Assad from power using seasoned jihadist fighters because the Syrian president refused to back the Qatari project to build a gas pipeline through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Turkey, radio host, attorney and nephew of US President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. asserted.

The $10 billion pipeline project first surfaced in 2000. Nine years later Bashar al-Assad announced that he would not support the initiative that would have granted Qatar direct access to European energy markets via terminals in Turkey.

Soon after that “the CIA began funding opposition groups in Syria,” Kennedy wrote for Politico. The CIA went ahead with this plan months before the Arab Spring uprising in Syria took place, which clearly indicates that the Syrian conflict is in fact a violent foreign-sponsored insurgency aimed at bringing a pipeline project to life, not a civil war for greater rights or representation.

Moreover, “US intelligence planners knew from the outset that their pipeline proxies were radical jihadists who would probably carve themselves a brand new Islamic caliphate from the Sunni regions of Syria and Iraq,” Kennedy observed.

FILE – In this photo taken Monday, June 23, 2014, fighters from the Islamic State group parade in a commandeered Iraqi security forces armored vehicle down a main road at the northern city of Mosul, Iraq
 
This is what happened when Daesh fighters launched a blitz offensive on the second largest Iraqi city of Mosul from their Syrian stronghold of Raqqa in June 2014. They later declared an Islamic caliphate on the territories under Daesh control, shocking the world with their brutality, financial resources and military capabilities.

“Not coincidentally, the regions of Syria occupied by the Islamic State exactly encompass the proposed route of the Qatari pipeline,” the expert added.

If completed, the project would have had major geopolitical implications. Ankara would have profited from “rich transit fees.” The project would have also given “the Sunni kingdoms of the Persian Gulf decisive domination of world natural gas markets and strengthen Qatar, America’s closest ally in the Arab world,” the expert noted.

In addition, the pipeline would have also strengthened Saudi Arabia by giving the oil kingdom additional leverage against Iran, whom Riyadh sees as its archenemy.
Left to right: flags of Ahrar al-Sham, Free Syrian Army, and Jabhat al-Nusra.
Left to right: flags of Ahrar al-Sham, Free Syrian Army, and Jabhat al-Nusra.

Originally reported in the Turkish Newspaper Yurt, sofar unconfirmed by Western media sources.

ANKARA.  The so-called Free Syrian Army is trafficking the body organs of Syrian civilians and army soldiers after kidnapping and murdering them, media reports said.

Pull Their Organs And Bring Them To Saudi Arabia And Turkey.

The FSA rebels in Syria trade the body organs of the Syrian martyrs whom they abduct and kill. Then, they sell the stolen body organs to organ traffickers at expensive prices, Turkish newspaper Yurt wrote.

The newspaper’s correspondent in Syria has shed the light on heinous events and violations regarding the organ trafficking by FSA terrorists.

“Most of the Syrians abducted by the armed groups are killed, and then gunmen trade in their corpses through removing their kidneys, eyes and liver,” the daily quoted a Syrian citizen as saying.

It added that the Syrian citizen underlined that “unknown persons contacted him and offered 300,000 Syrian Pounds in return for handing them the body of his brother who was martyred at the hands of terrorists”.

Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011 with organized attacks by well-armed gangs against Syrian police forces and border guards being reported across the country.

Hundreds of people, including members of the security forces, have been killed, when some protest rallies turned into armed clashes.

The government blames outlaws, saboteurs, and armed terrorist groups for the deaths, stressing that the unrest is being orchestrated from abroad.

Syrian children trafficking for Turkey based organ trade
In October 2011, calm was eventually restored in the Arab state after President Assad started a reform initiative in the country, but Israel, the US and its Arab allies are seeking hard to bring the country into chaos through any possible means. Tel Aviv, Washington and some Arab capitals have been staging various plots in the hope of increasing unrests in Syria.

The US daily, Washington Post, reported in May that the Syrian rebels and terrorist groups battling the President Bashar al-Assad’s government have received significantly more and better weapons in recent weeks, a crime paid for by the Persian Gulf Arab states and coordinated by the United States.

The newspaper, quoting opposition activists and US and foreign officials, reported that Obama administration officials emphasized the administration has expanded contacts with opposition military forces to provide the Persian Gulf nations with assessments of rebel credibility and command-and-control infrastructure.

Source: Global Research

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.” [4] 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:

● Terrorism.

● WMD.

● Economic reform.

These headings translate into:

● Support for Palestinian and Lebanese resistance groups.

● Self-defense.

● 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
US Secretary of State Colin Powell travelled to Damascus on May 3, 2003 to personally issue a demand to the Syrian government that it sever its connections with militant organizations pursuing Palestinian self-determination and to stop providing them a base in Damascus from which to operate. In “testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on February 12, 2004, Powel complained that ‘Syria has not done what we demanded of it with respect to closing permanently of these offices and getting these individuals out of Damascus’.”

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
U.S.-trained rebels in Syria hand over weapons to al Qaeda affiliate
As to the substance of Bolton’s assertion that Syria had a wide range of WMD programs, the CIA was unable to produce any evidence to corroborate his claim. Alfred Prados, author of a 2005 Congressional Research Service report titled “Syria: U.S. Relations and Bilateral Issues,” listed CIA assessments of Syrian nuclear and BW programs but none of the assessments contained any concrete evidence that Syria actually had such programs. For example, the CIA noted that it was “monitoring Syrian nuclear intentions with concern” but offered nothing beyond “intentions” to show that Damascus was working to acquire a nuclear weapons capability. Prados also noted that Syria had “probably also continued to develop a BW capability,” this based on the fact that Damascus had “signed, but not ratified, the Biological Weapons Convention.” Prados conceded that “Little information is available on Syrian biological programs.”

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
Bolton, it will be recalled, was among the velociraptors of the Bush administration to infamously and falsely accuse Saddam Hussein’s Iraq of holding on to WMD that the UN Security Council had demanded it dismantle. In effect, Iraq was ordered to disarm itself, and when it did, was falsely accused by the United States of still being armed as a pretext for US forces to invade the now defenceless country. Bolton may have chosen to play the same WMD card against Syria for the same reason: to manufacture consent for an invasion. But as Congress’s researchers pointed out, “Although some officials…advocated a ‘regime change strategy’ in Syria” through military means, “military operations in Iraq…forced US policy makers to explore additional options,” rendering Bolton’s false accusations academic.

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)

In connection with Syria impeding the achievement of US goals in the Middle East, the Congressional Research Service made the following points in 2005 about the Syrian economy: It is “largely state-controlled;” it is “dominated by…(the) public sector, which employs 73% of the labour force;” and it is “still based largely on Soviet models.” These departures from the preferred Wall Street paradigm of free markets and free enterprise appear, from the perspective of Congress’s researchers, to be valid reasons for the US government to attempt to bring about “reform” in Syria. Indeed, no one should be under the illusion that the US government is prepared to allow foreign governments to exercise sovereignty in setting their own direction economically. That this is the case is evidenced by the existence of a raft of US sanctions legislation against “non-market states.” (See the Congressional Research Service 2016 report, “North Korea: Economic Sanctions,” for a detailed list of sanctions imposed on North Korea for having a “Marxist-Leninist” economy.)

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?

Whatever its failings, the Assad government has unambiguously adopted positions that have traditionally been understood to be concerns of the political left: support for self-determination; public ownership and planning of the economy; opposition to wars of aggression; and anti-imperialism. This is not to say that on a spectrum from right to left that the Assad government occupies a position near the left extreme; far from it. But from Washington’s point of view, Damascus is far enough to the left to be unacceptable. Indeed, it is the Syrian government’s embrace of traditional leftist positions that accounts for why it is in the cross-hairs of the world’s major champion of reactionary causes, the United States, even if it isn’t the kind of government that is acceptable to Trotskyists and anarchists.

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. [16] 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,” [28] 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
KAFRAYA & FOUA

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.

KAFRAYA & FOUAThe 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.
KAFRAYA & FOUARecent 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.


KAFRAYA & FOUA

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.

KAFRAYA & FOUA
 The people of Kafarya and Foua maintain their valiant struggle against the forces that bear down upon them and they resist in silence, an externally imposed silence.  Like so many of the Syrian people they know only too well who is the enemy in their midst and it is not the Syrian Arab Army.  Their Army is the Syrian people, as Mother Agnes Mariam de la Croix expressed so eloquently.  They know their enemy are the NATO  US proxy thugs camped among them bringing pestilence and death.  These preying locusts will be driven out of Syria by the peoples Army and their allies and the children of Kafarya and Foua will be liberated from the pall of terror that has been hanging over them for almost 5 years.

KAFRAYA & FOUA
KAFRAYA & FOUA

KAFRAYA & FOUA

“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

The Associated Press, Ankara Monday, 8 February 2016

Turkey’s president lashed out at the United States a week after President Barack Obama’s envoy visited a northern Syrian town that is under the control of Syrian Kurdish forces, which Ankara considers terrorists.

In comments published Sunday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Washington should choose between Turkey and the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, or PYD, as its partner.

That came after envoy Brett McGurk’s visit to Kobani, where the PYD’s military wing, aided by U.S.-led airstrikes, drove back ISIS militants a year ago. Turkey considers the PYD a terrorist group because of its affiliation with Turkey’s outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK.

Erdogan said: “How can we trust you? Is it me that is your partner or is it the terrorists in Kobani?”
In Washington, a State Department spokesman reiterated the longstanding U.S. policy that considers the PKK “to be a terrorist organization.”

“We continue to call on the PKK to immediately cease its campaign of violence. A resumed political process offers the best hope for greater civil rights, security, and prosperity for all the citizens of Turkey,” said Noel Clay of the State Department.