A Documentary You’ll Likely Never See

A Documentary You’ll Likely Never See
EDITOR’S CHOICE | 16.02.2017

A Documentary You’ll Likely Never See

James DiEUGENIO

It is not very often that a documentary film can set a new paradigm about a recent event, let alone, one that is still in progress. But the new film Ukraine on Fire has the potential to do so – assuming that many people get to see it.

Usually, documentaries — even good ones — repackage familiar information in a different aesthetic form. If that form is skillfully done, then the information can move us in a different way than just reading about it.

A good example of this would be Peter Davis’s powerful documentary about U.S. involvement in Vietnam, Hearts and Minds. By 1974, most Americans understood just how bad the Vietnam War was, but through the combination of sounds and images, which could only have been done through film, that documentary created a sensation, which removed the last obstacles to America leaving Indochina.

Ukraine on Fire has the same potential and could make a contribution that even goes beyond what the Davis film did because there was very little new information in Hearts and Minds. Especially for American and Western European audiences, Ukraine on Fire could be revelatory in that it offers a historical explanation for the deep divisions within Ukraine and presents information about the current crisis that challenges the mainstream media’s paradigm, which blames the conflict almost exclusively on Russia.

Key people in the film’s production are director Igor Lopatonok, editor Alex Chavez, and writer Vanessa Dean, whose screenplay contains a large amount of historical as well as current material exploring how Ukraine became such a cauldron of violence and hate. Oliver Stone served as executive producer and conducted some high-profile interviews with Russian President Vladimir Putin and ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

The film begins with gripping images of the violence that ripped through the capital city of Kiev during both the 2004 Orange Revolution and the 2014 removal of Yanukovich. It then travels back in time to provide a perspective that has been missing from mainstream versions of these events and even in many alternative media renditions.

A Longtime Pawn

Historically, Ukraine has been treated as a pawn since the late Seventeenth Century. In 1918, Ukraine was made a German protectorate by the Treaty of Brest Litovsk. Ukraine was also a part of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 1939 signed between Germany and Russia, but violated by Adolf Hitler when the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union in the summer of 1941.

German dictator Adolf Hitler

The reaction of many in Ukraine to Hitler’s aggression was not the same as it was in the rest of the Soviet Union. Some Ukrainians welcomed the Nazis. The most significant Ukrainian nationalist group, Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), had been established in 1929. Many of its members cooperated with the Nazis, some even enlisted in the Waffen SS and Ukrainian nationalists participated in the massacre of more than 33,000 Jews at Babi Yar ravine in Kiev in September 1941. According to scholar Pers Anders Rudling, the number of Ukrainian nationalists involved in the slaughter outnumbered the Germans by a factor of 4 to 1.

But it wasn’t just the Jews that the Ukrainian nationalists slaughtered. They also participated in massacres of Poles in the western Ukrainian region of Galicia from March 1943 until the end of 1944. Again, the main perpetrators were not Germans, but Ukrainians.

According to author Ryazard Szawlowksi, the Ukrainian nationalists first lulled the Poles into thinking they were their friends, then turned on them with a barbarity and ferocity that not even the Nazis could match, torturing their victims with saws and axes. The documentary places the number of dead at 36,750, but Szawlowski estimates it may be two or three times higher.

OUN members participated in these slaughters for the purpose of ethnic cleansing, wanting Ukraine to be preserved for what OUN regarded as native Ukrainians. They also expected Ukraine to be independent by the end of the war, free from both German and Russian domination. The two main leaders in OUN who participated in the Nazi collaboration were Stepan Bandera and Mykola Lebed. Bandera was a virulent anti-Semite, and Lebed was rabidly against the Poles, participating in their slaughter.

After the war, both Bandera and Lebed were protected by American intelligence, which spared them from the Nuremburg tribunals. The immediate antecedent of the CIA, Central Intelligence Group, wanted to use both men for information gathering and operations against the Soviet Union. England’s MI6 used Bandera even more than the CIA did, but the KGB eventually hunted down Bandera and assassinated him in Munich in 1959. Lebed was brought to America and addressed anti-communist Ukrainian organizations in the U.S. and Canada. The CIA protected him from immigration authorities who might otherwise have deported him as a war criminal.

The history of the Cold War was never too far in the background of Ukrainian politics, including within the diaspora that fled to the West after the Red Army defeated the Nazis and many of their Ukrainian collaborators emigrated to the United States and Canada. In the West, they formed a fierce anti-communist lobby that gained greater influence after Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980.

Important History

This history is an important part of Dean’s prologue to the main body of Ukraine on Fire and is essential for anyone trying to understand what has happened there since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. For instance, the U.S.-backed candidate for president of Ukraine in 2004 — Viktor Yushchenko — decreed both Bandera and Lebed to be Ukrainian national heroes.

Stepan Bandera, a Ukrainian ultra-nationalist and Nazi collaborator

Bandera, in particular, has become an icon for post-World War II Ukrainian nationalists. One of his followers was Dmytro Dontsov, who called for the birth of a “new man” who would mercilessly destroy Ukraine’s ethnic enemies.

Bandera’s movement was also kept alive by Yaroslav Stetsko, Bandera’s premier in exile. Stetsko fully endorsed Bandera’s anti-Semitism and also the Nazi attempt to exterminate the Jews of Europe. Stetsko, too, was used by the CIA during the Cold War and was honored by Yushchenko, who placed a plaque in his honor at the home where he died in Munich in 1986. Stetsko’s wife, Slava, returned to Ukraine in 1991 and ran for parliament in 2002 on the slate of Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine party.

Stetsko’s book, entitled Two Revolutions, has become the ideological cornerstone for the modern Ukrainian political party Svoboda, founded by Oleh Tyahnybok, who is pictured in the film calling Jews “kikes” in public, which is one reason the Simon Wiesenthal Center has ranked him as one of the most dangerous anti-Semites in the world.

Another follower of Bandera is Dymytro Yarosh, who reputedly leads the paramilitary arm of an even more powerful political organization in Ukraine called Right Sektor. Yarosh once said he controls a paramilitary force of about 7,000 men who were reportedly used in both the overthrow of Yanukovych in Kiev in February 2014 and the suppression of the rebellion in Odessa a few months later, which are both fully depicted in the film.

This historical prelude and its merging with the current civil war is eye-opening background that has been largely hidden by the mainstream Western media, which has downplayed or ignored the troubling links between these racist Ukrainian nationalists and the U.S.-backed political forces that vied for power after Ukraine became independent in 1991.

The Rise of a Violent Right

That same year, Tyahnybok formed Svoboda. Three years later, Yarosh founded Trident, an offshoot of Svoboda that eventually evolved into Right Sektor. In other words, the followers of Bandera and Lebed began organizing themselves immediately after the Soviet collapse.

The neo-Nazi Wolfsangel symbol on a banner in Ukraine

In this time period, Ukraine had two Russian-oriented leaders who were elected in 1991 and 1994, Leonid Kravchuk, and Leonid Kuchma. But the hasty transition to a “free-market” economy didn’t go well for most Ukrainians or Russians as well-connected oligarchs seized much of the wealth and came to dominate the political process through massive corruption and purchase of news media outlets. However, for average citizens, living standards went down drastically, opening the door for the far-right parties and for foreign meddling.

In 2004, Viktor Yanukovych, whose political base was strongest among ethnic Russians in the east and south, won the presidential election by three percentage points over the U.S.-favored Viktor Yushchenko, whose base was mostly in the country’s west where the Ukrainian nationalists are strongest.

Immediately, Yushchenko’s backers claimed fraud citing exit polls that had been organized by a group of eight Western nations and four non-governmental organizations or NGOs, including the Renaissance Foundation founded by billionaire financial speculator George Soros. Dick Morris, former President Bill Clinton’s political adviser, clandestinely met with Yushchenko’s team and advised them that the exit polls would not just help in accusations of fraud, but would bring protesters out into the streets. (Cambridge Review of InternationalAffairs, Vol. 19, Number 1, p. 26)

Freedom House, another prominent NGO that receives substantial financing from the U.S.-government-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED), provided training to young activists who then rallied protesters in what became known as the Orange Revolution, one of the so-called “color revolutions” that the West’s mainstream media fell in love with. It forced an election rerun that Yushchenko won.

But Yushchenko’s presidency failed to do much to improve the lot of the Ukrainian people and he grew increasingly unpopular. In 2010, Yushchenko failed to make it out of the first round of balloting and his rival Yanukovych was elected president in balloting that outside observers judged free and fair.

Big-Power Games

If this all had occurred due to indigenous factors within Ukraine, it could have been glossed over as a young nation going through some painful growing pains. But as the film points out, this was not the case. Ukraine continued to be a pawn in big-power games with many Western officials hoping to draw the country away from Russian influence and into the orbit of NATO and the European Union.

Ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych

In one of the interviews in Ukraine on Fire, journalist and author Robert Parry explains how the National Endowment for Democracy and many subsidized political NGOs emerged in the 1980s to replace or supplement what the CIA had traditionally done in terms of influencing the direction of targeted countries.

During the investigations of the Church Committee in the 1970s, the CIA’s “political action” apparatus for removing foreign leaders was exposed. So, to disguise these efforts, CIA Director William Casey, Reagan’s White House and allies in Congress created the NED to finance an array of political and media NGOs.

As Parry noted in the documentary, many traditional NGOs do valuable work in helping impoverished and developing countries, but this activist/propaganda breed of NGOs promoted U.S. geopolitical objectives abroad – and NED funded scores of such projects inside Ukraine in the run-up to the 2014 crisis.

Ukraine on Fire goes into high gear when it chronicles the events that occurred in 2014, resulting in the violent overthrow of President Yanukovych and sparking the civil war that still rages. In the 2010 election, when Yushchenko couldn’t even tally in the double-digits, Yanukovych faced off against and defeated Yulia Tymoshenko, a wealthy oligarch who had served as Yushchenko’s prime minister.

After his election, Yanukovych repealed Bandera’s title as a national hero. However, because of festering economic problems, the new president began to search for an economic partner who could provide a large loan. He first negotiated with the European Union, but these negotiations bogged down due to the usual draconian demands made by the International Monetary Fund.

So, in November 2013, Yanukovych began to negotiate with Russian President Putin who offered more generous terms. But Yanukovych’s decision to delay the association agreement with the E.U. provoked street protests in Kiev especially from the people of western Ukraine.

As Ukraine on Fire points out, other unusual occurrences also occurred, including the emergence of three new TV channels – Spilno TV, Espreso TV, and Hromadske TV – going on the air between Nov. 21 and 24, with partial funding from the U.S. Embassy and George Soros.

Nazi symbols on helmets worn by members of Ukraine’s Azov battalion. (As filmed by a Norwegian film crew and shown on German TV)

Pro-E.U. protests in the Maidan square in central Kiev also grew more violent as ultra-nationalist street fighters from Lviv and other western areas began to pour in and engage in provocations, many of which were sponsored by Yarosh’s Right Sektor. The attacks escalated from torch marches similar to Nazi days to hurling Molotov cocktails at police to driving large tractors into police lines – all visually depicted in the film. As Yanukovich tells Stone, when this escalation happened, it made it impossible for him to negotiate with the Maidan crowd.

One of the film’s most interesting interviews is with Vitaliy Zakharchenko, who was Minister of the Interior at the time responsible for law enforcement and the conduct of the police. He traces the escalation of the attacks from Nov. 24 to 30, culminating with a clash between police and protesters over the transport of a giant Christmas tree into the Maidan. Zakharchenko said he now believes this confrontation was secretly approved by Serhiy Lyovochkin, a close friend of U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt, as a pretext to escalate the violence.

At this point, the film addresses the direct involvement of U.S. politicians and diplomats. Throughout the crisis, American politicians visited Maidan, as both Republicans and Democrats, such as Senators John McCain, R-Arizona, and Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut. stirred up the crowds. Yanukovych also said he was in phone contact with Vice President Joe Biden, who he claims was misleading him about how to handle the crisis.

The film points out that the real center of American influence in the Kiev demonstrations was with Ambassador Pyatt and Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland. As Parry points out, although Nuland was serving under President Obama, her allegiances were really with the neoconservative movement, most associated with the Republican Party.

Her husband is Robert Kagan, who worked as a State Department propagandist on the Central American wars in the 1980s and was the co-founder of the Project for the New American Century in the 1990s, the group that organized political and media pressure for the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. Kagan also was McCain’s foreign policy adviser in the 2008 presidential election (although he threw his support behind Hillary Clinton in the 2016 race).

Adept Manipulators

As Parry explained, the neoconservatives have become quite adept at disguising their true aims and have powerful allies in the mainstream press. This combination has allowed them to push the foreign policy debate to such extremes that, when anyone objects, they can be branded a Putin or Yanukovych “apologist.”

Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland during a press conference at the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, Ukraine, on Feb. 7, 2014. (U.S. State Department photo)

Thus, Pyatt’s frequent meetings with the demonstrators in the embassy and Nuland’s handing out cookies to protesters in the Maidan were not criticized as American interference in a sovereign state, but were praised as “promoting democracy” abroad. However, as the Maidan crisis escalated, Ukrainian ultra-nationalists moved to the front, intensifying their attacks on police. Many of these extremists were disciples of Bandera and Lebed. By February 2014, they were armed with shotguns and rapid-fire handguns.

On Feb. 20, 2014, a mysterious sniper, apparently firing from a building controlled by the Right Sektor, shot both police and protesters, touching off a day of violence that left about 14 police and some 70 protesters dead.

With Kiev slipping out of control, Yanukovich was forced to negotiate with representatives from France, Poland and Germany. On Feb. 21, he agreed to schedule early elections and to accept reduced powers. At the urging of Vice President Biden, Yanukovych also pulled back the police.

But the agreement – though guaranteed by the European nations – was quickly negated by renewed attacks from the Right Sektor and its street fighters who seized government buildings. Russian intelligence services got word that an assassination plot was in the works against Yanukovych, who fled for his life.

On Feb. 24, Yanukovych asked permission to enter Russia for his safety and the Ukrainian parliament (or Rada), effectively under the control of the armed extremists, voted to remove Yanukovych from office in an unconstitutional manner because the courts were not involved and the vote to impeach him did not reach the mandatory threshold. Despite these irregularities, the U.S. and its European allies quickly recognized the new government as “legitimate.”

Calling a Coup a Coup

But the ouster of Yanukovych had all the earmarks of a coup. An intercepted phone call, apparently in early February, between Nuland and Pyatt revealed that they were directly involved in displacing Yanukovych and choosing his successor. The pair reviewed the field of candidates with Nuland favoring Arseniy Yatsenyuk, declaring “Yats is the guy” and discussing with Pyatt how to “glue this thing.” Pyatt wondered about how to “midwife this thing.” They sounded like Gilded Age millionaires in New York deciding who should become the next U.S. president. On Feb. 27, Yatsenyuk became Prime Minister of Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko shakes hands with U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin in Kyiv, Ukraine, on July 7, 2016.[State Department Photo)

Not everyone in Ukraine agreed with the new regime, however. Crimea, which had voted heavily for Yanukovych, decided to hold a referendum on whether to split from Ukraine and become a part of Russia. The results of the referendum were overwhelming. Some 96 percent of Crimeans voted to unite with Russia. Russian troops – previously stationed in Crimea under the Sevastopol naval base agreement – provided security against Right Sektor and other Ukrainian forces moving against the Crimean secession, but there was no evidence of Russian troops intimidating voters or controlling the elections. The Russian government then accepted the reunification with Crimea, which had historically been part of Russia dating back hundreds of years.

Two eastern provinces, Donetsk and Lugansk, also wanted to split off from Ukraine and also conducted a referendum in support of that move. But Putin would not agree to the request from the two provinces, which instead declared their own independence, a move that the new government in Kiev denounced as illegal. The Kiev regime also deemed the insurgents “terrorists” and launched an “anti-terrorism operation” to crush the resistance. Ultra-nationalist and even neo-Nazi militias, such as the Azov Battalion, took the lead in the bloody fighting.

Anti-coup demonstrations also broke out in the city of Odessa to the south. Ukrainian nationalist leader Andrei Parubiy went to Odessa, and two days later, on May 2, 2014, his street fighters attacked the demonstrators, driving them into the Trade Union building, which was then set on fire. Forty-two people were killed, some of whom jumped to their deaths.

‘Other Side of the Story’

If the film just got across this “other side of the story,” it would provide a valuable contribution since most of this information has been ignored or distorted by the West’s mainstream media, which simply blames the Ukraine crisis on Vladimir Putin. But in addition to the fine work by scenarist Vanessa Dean, the direction by Igor Lopatonok and the editing by Alexis Chavez are extraordinarily skillful and supple.

Screen shot of the fatal fire in Odessa, Ukraine, on May 2, 2014. (From RT video)

The 15-minute prologue, where the information about the Nazi collaboration by Bandera and Lebed is introduced, is an exceptional piece of filmmaking. It moves at a quick pace, utilizing rapid cutting and also split screens to depict photographs and statistics simultaneously. Lopatonok also uses interactive graphics throughout to transmit information in a visual and demonstrative manner.

Stone’s interviews with Putin and Yanukovych are also quite newsworthy, presenting a side of these demonized foreign leaders that has been absent in the propagandistic Western media.

Though about two hours long, the picture has a headlong tempo to it. If anything, it needed to slow down at points since such a large amount of information is being communicated. On the other hand, it’s a pleasure to watch a documentary that is so intelligently written, and yet so remarkably well made.

When the film ends, the enduring message is similar to those posed by the American interventions in Vietnam and Iraq. How could the State Department know so little about what it was about to unleash, given Ukraine’s deep historical divisions and the risk of an escalating conflict with nuclear-armed Russia?

In Vietnam, Americans knew little about the country’s decades-long struggle of the peasantry to be free from French and Japanese colonialism. Somehow, America was going to win their hearts and minds and create a Western-style “democracy” when many Vietnamese simply saw the extension of foreign imperialism.

In Iraq, President George W. Bush and his coterie of neocons was going to oust Saddam Hussein and create a Western-style democracy in the Middle East, except that Bush didn’t know the difference between Sunni and Shiite Moslems and how Iraq was likely to split over sectarian rivalries and screw up his expectations.

Similarly, the message of Ukraine on Fire is that short-sighted, ambitious and ideological officials – unchecked by their superiors – created something even worse than what existed. While high-level corruption persists today in Ukraine and may be even worse than before, the conditions of average Ukrainians have deteriorated.

And, the Ukraine conflict has reignited the Cold War by moving Western geopolitical forces onto Russia’s most sensitive frontier, which, as scholar Joshua Shifrinson has noted, violates a pledge made by Secretary of State James Baker in February 1990 as the Soviet Union peacefully accepted the collapse of its military influence in East Germany and eastern Europe. (Los Angeles Times, 5/30/ 2016)

This film also reminds us that what happened in Ukraine was a bipartisan effort. It was begun under George W. Bush and completed under Barack Obama. As Oliver Stone noted in the discussion that followed the film’s premiere in Los Angeles, the U.S. painfully needs some new leadership reminiscent of Franklin Roosevelt and John Kennedy, people who understand how America’s geopolitical ambitions must be tempered by on-the-ground realities and the broader needs of humanity to be freed from the dangers of all-out war.

The CIA’s Blueprint for Syrian Regime Collapse: New Declassified CIA Memo

Global Research, February 16, 2017
The Libertarian Institute 14 February 2017
CIA

A newly declassified CIA document explored multiple scenarios of Syrian regime collapse at a time when Hafez al-Assad’s government was embroiled in a covert “dirty war” with Israel and the West, and in the midst of a diplomatic crisis which marked an unprecedented level of isolation for Syria.

The 24-page formerly classified memo entitled Syria: Scenarios of Dramatic Political Change was produced in July 1986, and had high level distribution within the Reagan administration and to agency directors, including presidential advisers, the National Security Council, and the US ambassador to Syria.

The memo appears in the CIA’s latest CREST release (CIA Records Search Tool) of over 900,000 recently declassified documents.

A “severely restricted” report

The memo’s cover letter, drafted by the CIA’s Director of Global Issues (the report itself was prepared by the division’s Foreign Subversion and Instability Center), introduces the purpose of presenting “a number of possible scenarios that could lead to the ouster of President Assad or other dramatic change in Syria.”

It further curiously warns that, “Because the analysis out of context is susceptible to misunderstanding, external distribution has been severely restricted.” The report’s narrowed distribution list (sent to specific named national security heads, not entire agencies) indicates that it was considered at the highest levels of the Reagan administration.

The coming sectarian war for Syria

The intelligence report’s contents contain some striking passages which seem remarkably consistent with events as they unfolded decades later at the start of the Syrian war in 2011:

Although we judge that fear of reprisals and organizational problems make a second Sunni challenge unlikely, an excessive government reaction to minor outbreaks of Sunni dissidence might trigger large-scale unrest. In most instances the regime would have the resources to crush a Sunni opposition movement, but we believe widespread violence among the populace could stimulate large numbers of Sunni officers and conscripts to desert or munity, setting the stage for civil war. [pg.2]

The “second Sunni challenge” is a reference to the Syrian government’s prior long running war against a Muslim Brotherhood insurgency which culminated in the 1982 Hama Massacre. While downplaying the nationalist and pluralistic composition of the ruling Ba’ath party, the report envisions a renewal and exploitation of sectarian fault lines pitting Syria’s Sunni population against its Alawite leadership:

Sunnis make up 60 percent of the Syrian officer corps but are concentrated in junior officer ranks; enlisted men are predominantly Sunni conscripts. We believe that a renewal of communal violence between Alawis and Sunnis could inspire Sunnis in the military to turn against the regime. [pg.12]

Regime change and the Muslim Brotherhood

The possibility of the Muslim Brotherhood spearheading another future armed insurgency leading to regime change is given extensive focus. While the document’s tone suggests this as a long term future scenario (especially considering the Brotherhood suffered overwhelming defeat and went completely underground in Syria by the mid-1980’s), it is considered one of the top three “most likely” drivers of regime change (the other scenarios include “Succession Power Struggle” and “Military Reverses Spark a Coup”).

The potential for revival of the Muslim Brotherhood’s “militant faction” is introduced in the following:

Although the Muslim Brotherhood’s suppression drastically reduced armed dissidence, we judge a significant potential still exists for another Sunni opposition movement. In part the Brotherhood’s role was to exploit and orchestrate opposition activity by other organized groups… These groups still exist, and under proper leadership they could coalesce into a large movement… …young professionals who formed the base of support for the militant faction of the Muslim Brotherhood; and remnants of the Brotherhood itself who could become leaders in a new Sunni opposition movement… [pp.13-14]

The Brotherhood’s role is seen as escalating the potential for initially small Sunni protest movements to morph into violent sectarian civil war:

Sunni dissidence has been minimal since Assad crushed the Muslim Brotherhood in the early 1980s, but deep-seated tensions remain–keeping alive the potential for minor incidents to grow into major flareups of communal violence… Excessive government force in quelling such disturbances might be seen by Sunnis as evidence of a government vendetta against all Sunnis, precipitating even larger protests by other Sunni groups…

Mistaking the new protests as a resurgence of the Muslim Brotherhood, the government would step up its use of force and launch violent attacks on a broad spectrum of Sunni community leaders as well as on those engaged in protests. Regime efforts to restore order would founder if government violence against protestors inspired broad-based communal violence between Alawis and Sunnis. [pp.19-20]

The CIA report describes the final phase of an evolving sectarian war which witnesses the influx of fighters and weapons from neighboring countries. Consistent with a 1983 secret report that called for a US covert operation to utilize then US-allied Iraq as a base of attack on Syria, the 1986 analysis says, “Iraq might supply them with sufficient weapons to launch a civil war”:

A general campaign of Alawi violence against Sunnis might push even moderate Sunnis to join the opposition. Remnants of the Muslim Brotherhood–some returning from exile in Iraq–could provide a core of leadership for the movement. Although the regime has the resources to crush such a venture, we believe brutal attacks on Sunni civilians might prompt large numbers of Sunni officers and conscripts to desert or stage mutinies in support of dissidents, and Iraq might supply them with sufficient weapons to launch a civil war. [pp.20-21]

A Sunni regime serving Western economic interests

While the document is primarily a theoretical exploration projecting scenarios of Syrian regime weakening and collapse (its purpose is analysis and not necessarily policy), the authors admit of its “purposefully provocative” nature (see PREFACE) and closes with a list desired outcomes. One provocative outcome describes a pliant “Sunni regime” serving US economic interests:

In our view, US interests would be best served by a Sunni regime controlled by business-oriented moderates. Business moderates would see a strong need for Western aid and investment to build Syria’s private economy, thus opening the way for stronger ties to Western governments. [pg. 24]

Ironically, the Syrian government would accuse the United States and its allies of covert subversion within Syria after a string of domestic bombings created diplomatic tensions during the mid-1980’s.

Dirty tricks and diplomacy in the 1980’s

According to Patrick Seale’s landmark book, Asad of Syria: The Struggle for the Middle East, 1986 was a year that marked Syria’s greatest isolation among world powers as multiple diplomatic crises and terror events put Syria more and more out in the cold.

The year included “the Hindawi affair”a Syrian intelligence sponsored attempt to hijack and bomb an El Al flight to Tel Avivand may or may not have involved Nezar Hindawi working as a double agent on behalf of Israel. The foiled plot brought down international condemnation on Syria and lives on as one of the more famous and bizarre terror conspiracies in history. Not only were Syria and Israel once again generally on the brink of war in 1986, but a string of “dirty tricks” tactics were being utilized by Syria and its regional enemies to shape diplomatic outcomes primarily in Lebanon and Jordan.

In March and April of 1986 (months prior to the distribution of the CIA memo), a string of still largely unexplained car bombs rocked Damascus and at least 5 towns throughout Syria, leaving over 200 civilians dead in the most significant wave of attacks since the earlier ’79-’82 war with the Muslim Brotherhood (also see BBC News recount the attacks).

Patrick Seale’s book speculates of the bombings that, “It may not have been unconnected that in late 1985 the NSC’s Colonel Oliver North and Amiram Nir, Peres’s counter-terrorism expert, set up a dirty tricks outfit to strike back at the alleged sponsors of Middle East terrorism.”*

Consistency with future WikiLeaks files

The casual reader of Syria: Scenarios of Dramatic Political Change will immediately recognize a strategic thinking on Syria that looks much the same as what is revealed in national security memos produced decades later in the run up to the current war in Syria.

When US cables or intelligence papers talk regime change in Syria they usually strategize in terms of exploiting sectarian fault lines. In a sense, this is the US national security bureaucracy’s fall-back approach to Syria.

One well-known example is contained in a December 2006 State Dept. cable sent from the US embassy in Syria (subsequently released by WikiLeaks). The cable’s stated purpose is to explore Syrian regime vulnerabilities and weaknesses to exploit (in similar fashion to the 1986 CIA memo):

PLAY ON SUNNI FEARS OF IRANIAN INFLUENCE: There are fears in Syria that the Iranians are active in both Shia proselytizing and conversion of, mostly poor, Sunnis. Though often exaggerated, such fears reflect an element of the Sunni community in Syria that is increasingly upset by and focused on the spread of Iranian influence in their country through activities ranging from mosque construction to business.

Another section of the 2006 cable explains precisely the same scenario laid out in the 1986 memo in describing the increased “possibility of a self-defeating over-reaction” on the part of the regime.:

ENCOURAGE RUMORS AND SIGNALS OF EXTERNAL PLOTTING: The regime is intensely sensitive to rumors about coup-plotting and restlessness in the security services and military. Regional allies like Egypt and Saudi Arabia should be encouraged to meet with figures like [former Vice President Abdul Halim] Khaddam and [younger brother of Hafez] Rif’at Asad as a way of sending such signals, with appropriate leaking of the meetings afterwards. This again touches on this insular regime’s paranoia and increases the possibility of a self-defeating over-reaction.

And ironically, Rif’at Asad and Khaddam are both mentioned extensively in the 1986 memo as key players during a speculative future “Succession Power Struggle.” [p.15]

An Islamic State in Damascus?

While the 1986 CIA report makes a case in its concluding paragraph for “a Sunni regime controlled by business-oriented moderates” in Syria, the authors acknowledge that the collapse of the Ba’ath state could actually usher in the worst of all possible outcomes for Washington and the region: “religious zealots” might seek to establish “an Islamic Republic”. The words take on a new and special importance now, after the rise of ISIS:

Although Syria’s secular traditions would make it extremely difficult for religious zealots to establish an Islamic Republic, should they succeed they would likely deepen hostilities with Israel and provide support and sanctuary to terrorists groups. [pg.24]

What continues to unfold in Syria has apparently surpassed even the worst case scenarios of intelligence planners in the 1980’s. Tinkering with regime change has proven itself to be the most dangerous of all games.

*Seale, Patrick. Asad of Syria : the struggle for the Middle East (Berkeley, CA : University of California Press, 1989)p.474.

US Betrays Iran Deal as Predicted – Edges Closer to War

February 2, 2016 (Tony Cartalucci – LD) – As the world remains mesmerized by the antics of US President Donald Trump, his national security adviser Michael Flynn brazenly linked Iran to Yemeni fighters who attacked a Saudi warship, as well as cited an Iranian missile test as grounds to reverse course on US rapprochement with Tehran, concluding that Iran was “put on notice.”

Flynn would state:

In these and other similar activities, Iran continues to threaten US friends and allies in the region.

Flynn, who was head of the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) when a memo was published acknowledging the West, Turkey, and the Persian Gulf monarchs sought the rise of what was at the time called a “Salafist principality” in eastern Syria – precisely where the Islamic [Salafist] State [principality] now occupies, is surely aware that America’s “friends and allies in the region” include state sponsors of terrorism, including the state sponsors of the Islamic State itself.

As Flynn furiously flipped through the pages of his statement, he was signifying the predictable betrayal of the so-called “Iran deal,” meant before it was even introduced the public – as early as 2009 – to serve as a pretext not for peace, but for war with Iran.

US corporate-financier funded think tank, the Brookings Institution, in a 2009 policy paper titled, “Which Path to Persia? Options for a New American Strategy Toward Iran” (.pdf) would lay out in detail various means of provoking war and regime change against Iran.

In it, Brookings explicitly revealed how a “superb offer” would be given to Iran, only to be intentionally revoked in a manner portraying Iran as ungrateful:

...any military operation against Iran will likely be very unpopular around the world and require the proper international context—both to ensure the logistical support the operation would require and to minimize the blowback from it. The best way to minimize international opprobrium and maximize support (however, grudging or covert) is to strike only when there is a widespread conviction that the Iranians were given but then rejected a superb offer—one so good that only a regime determined to acquire nuclear weapons and acquire them for the wrong reasons would turn it down. Under those circumstances, the United States (or Israel) could portray its operations as taken in sorrow, not anger, and at least some in the international community would conclude that the Iranians “brought it on themselves” by refusing a very good deal.

The so-called “Iran deal,” introduced during the administration of US President Barack Obama, represents precisely this “superb offer,” with Flynn’s accusations serving as the “turn down” ahead of the “sorrowful” war and attempted regime change the US had always planned to target Tehran with.

In fact, Flynn would seemingly draw almost verbatim from the ploy described by Brookings in 2009, by stating:

Instead of being thankful to the United States for these agreements, Iran is now feeling emboldened … As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice.

Flynn’s statement is particularly surreal – considering Yemeni fighters are only targeting Saudi warships because Saudi Arabia is currently waging full-scale war on Yemen. Accused on all sides of war crimes, and with the US itself even restricting weapon sales to Riyadh – if only symbolically – in response to Saudi Arabia’s aggression – Flynn still claims that the attack on Saudi Arabia’s warship constitutes justification for putting Iran “on notice.”

Claiming that Iran is “sponsoring terrorism” throughout the region, when it is currently a major member of the coalition fighting the DIA’s “Salafist principality” in both Iraq and Syria is also surreal.

Another prerequisite mentioned in the 2009 Brookings document was the need to move Syria out of the way. It appears that the US’ attempts at regime change in Syria have reached their final conclusion, failing overall, but weakening Syria significantly in the process. War on Iran – a nation taxed greatly in fighting US, European, and Persian Gulf-backed terrorist organization in Syria – may be perceived now as more preferable than before the 2011 conflict began.

Meanwhile, the political climate in the West has been so expertly manipulated that the public is either so distracted with identity politics that they are unaware and unconcerned with the prospect of war with Iran, or so hysterical over “Islam” that any nation perceived as being Muslim is seen as justifiably a target of US military aggression – regardless of how divergent any of these alternate realities are from actual reality.

Flynn’s statement encapsulates a documented conspiracy drafted under President Bush, implemented under President Obama, and finally coming into full fruition under President Trump, once again illustrating the continuity of agenda that transcends party politics, presidencies, and political rhetoric – driven by immense corporate-financier special interests, not the will of the American public.

Double Standards: Where Were the Liberal Protestors During Obama’s Wars?

Source

Mike Whitney — CounterPunch Jan 26, 2017

President Obama addresses a press conference on August 1, over the abduction of Israeli 2nd Lt. Hadar Goldin by Hamas

President Obama addresses a press conference on August 1, 2001. Click to enlarge

The election of Donald Trump has sent millions of people pouring out onto the streets to protest a man  they think is a racist, misogynist, xenophobic bully who will destroy US democracy in his quest to establish himself as supreme fascist ruler of the country.

Maybe they’re right. Maybe Trump is a fascist who will destroy America. But where were these people when Obama was bombing wedding parties in Kandahar, or training jihadist militants to fight in Syria, or abetting NATO’s destructive onslaught on Libya, or plunging Ukraine into fratricidal warfare, or collecting the phone records of innocent Americans, or deporting hundreds of thousands of undocumented workers, or force-feeding prisoners at Gitmo, or providing bombs and aircraft to the Saudis to continue their genocidal war against Yemen?

Where were they?

They were asleep, weren’t they? Because liberals always sleep when their man is in office,  particularly if their man is a smooth-talking cosmopolitan snake-charmer like Obama who croons about personal freedom and democracy while unleashing the most unspeakable violence on civilians across the Middle East and Central Asia.

The United States has been at war for eight straight years under Obama, and during that time, there hasn’t been one sizable antiwar march, demonstration or protest. Nothing. No one seems to care when an articulate bi-racial mandarin kills mostly people of color, but when a brash and outspoken real estate magnate takes over the reigns of power, then ‘watch out’ because here come the protestors, all three million of them!

Can we agree that there is at least the appearance of hypocrisy here?

Indeed. Analyst Jon Reynolds summed it up perfectly over at the Black Agenda Report. He said:

“If Hillary had won, the drone strikes would have continued. The wars would have continued. The spying would continue. Whistleblowers would continue being prosecuted and hunted down. And minorities would continue bearing the brunt of these policies, both in the US and across the world. The difference is that in such a scenario, Democrats, if the last eight years are any indication, would remain silent — as they did under Obama — offering bare minimum concern and vilifying anyone attacking their beloved president as some sort of hater. Cities across the US would remain free of protests, and for another 4-8 years, Democrats would continue doing absolutely nothing to end the same horrifying policies now promoted by a Republican.” (“Delusions Shattered“, Jon Reynolds, The Black Agenda Report)

He’s right, isn’t he? How many of the 800,000 protesters who marched on Sunday would have flown to Washington to express their contempt for would-be President Hillary Clinton?

Zero, I’d wager, and yet it’s Hillary who wanted to implement the no-fly zones in Syria that would have put Washington in direct confrontation with Moscow, just like it was Hillary who wanted to teach Putin a-thing-or-two in Ukraine.  But is that what the people want? Would people prefer to be led into World War 3 by a bonefide champion of liberal values than concede the post to a brassy billionaire who wants to find common ground on fighting ISIS with his Russian counterpart?

It seems like a no-brainer to me. And it’s not like we don’t know who is responsible for the killing in Syria either. We do.

Barack Obama and his coterie of bloodthirsty friends in the political establishment are entirely responsible. These are the people who funded, armed and trained the Salafist maniacs that have decimated the country and created millions of refugees that are now tearing apart the EU. That’s right, the spillover from America’s not-so-covert operation is ripping the EU to shreds. It’s just another unfortunate side-effect of Obama’s bloody Syrian debacle.  As journalist Margaret Kimberly says in a recent post at The Black Agenda Report: “All of the casualties, the sieges, the hunger and the frantic search for refuge can be placed at America’s feet.”

Amen, to that.  All the violence can be traced back to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, home of Barack Hussein Obama, Nobel peace prize winner. What a joke. Here’s how analyst Solomon Comissiong sums it up in another article at the BAR:

“Supporters of Barack Obama, and liberals in general, are disingenuous frauds. They had no issues protesting the likes of the amoral warmongering George W. Bush or the racist xenophobe, Donald J. Trump, however when it comes to Barack Obama they can find no reason to protest his mass murdering escapades. Obama supporters were recently nostalgic and teary eyed after he gave his last major speech as president of the United States, yet can find little reason to shed tears over the masses of civilians who were destroyed directly as a result of Obama’s policies. Where were the emotions and tears when men, women and children were getting blown to bits by USA drone attacks, indiscriminate air strikes and bombs?…Those who protested the racist and xenophobic Trump, but not Obama or Clinton, are nothing more that disingenuous frauds and amoral cowards.”  (As Obama Exits the White House, Never Forget His Destructive Imperialist Legacy“, Solomon Comissiong, Black Agenda Report)

Let’s be honest, Obama got a pass from his supporters strictly because of appearances; because he looked and sounded like a thoroughly reasonable bloke who only acted on the loftiest of principles. Obama was hailed as a moral giant, a political rock star, a leader among leaders. But it was all fake, all make-up and glitz behind which operated the vicious national security state extending its tentacles around the world, toppling regimes wherever it went, and leaving anarchy and destruction in its wake. Isn’t this Obama’s real legacy when you strip away the sweeping hand gestures and pompous rhetoric?

Of course it is. But Trump won’t have that advantage, will he? Trump is not a public relations invention upon which heartsick liberals pin their highest hopes. Trump is Trump warts and all, the proverbial bull in the china shop. That’s not to say Trump won’t be a lousy president. Judging by the Wall Street cutthroats and hard-edged military men he’s surrounded himself with,  he probably will be. But the American people are no longer asleep, so there’s going to be limits to what he can hope to achieve.

So the question is: How should one approach the Trump presidency?  Should we denounce him as a fascist before he ever sets foot in the Oval Office?  Should we deny his “legitimacy” even though he was elected via a process we have honored for over 200 years?  Should we launch impeachment proceedings before he’s done anything that would warrant his removal from office?

Veteran journalist Robert Parry answers this question in a recent piece at Consortium News. Here’s what he said:

“The current danger for Democrats and progressives is that – by bashing everything that Trump says and does – they will further alienate the white working-class voters who became his base and will push away anti-war activists.

There is a risk that the Left will trade places with the Right on the question of war and peace, with Democrats and progressives associating themselves with Hillary Clinton’s support for “endless war” in the Middle East, the political machinations of the CIA, and a New Cold War with Russia, essentially moving into an alliance with the Military (and Intelligence) Industrial Complex.

Many populists already view the national Democrats as elitists disdainful of the working class, promoters of harmful “free trade” deals, and internationalists represented by the billionaires at the glitzy annual confab in Davos, Switzerland.

If — in a rush to demonize and impeach President Trump — Democrats and progressives solidify support for wars of choice in the Middle East, a New Cold War with Russia and a Davos-style elitism, they could further alienate many people who might otherwise be their allies.

In other words, selectivity in opposing and criticizing Trump – where he rightly deserves it – rather than opportunism in rejecting everything that Trump says might make more sense. A movement built entirely on destroying Trump could drop Democrats and progressives into some politically destructive traps.” (“Selectivity in Trashing Trump“, Robert Parry, Consortium News)

Right on, Bob. A very reasonable approach to a very thorny situation.

Bravo!

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com

Source

Trump’s agreement with Saudi dictatorship on “safe zones” in Syria indicates a “no change” foreign policy

Trump and Saudi King Agree to Safe Zones in Syria and Yemen


President Donald Trump, left, accompanied by National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, right, and Senior Advisor to the President Jared Kushner, speaks on the phone with King of Saudi Arabia Salman bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

After much speculation during the past week, President Donald Trump spoke with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman by phone on Sunday, and they have agreed to support safe zones in both Syria and Yemen, according to the White House.

Strengthened military cooperation between the US and Saudi Arabia will have immediate repercussions in a region where the US government has been at war since 2001.

Trump was joined during the call by National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, chief of staff Reince Priebus, and chief strategist Stephen Bannon.

“The president requested and the King agreed to support safe zones in Syria and Yemen, as well as supporting other ideas to help the many refugees who are displaced by the ongoing conflicts,” the White House statement said.

A source from the Saudi Press Agency said Saudi Arabia would “enhance its participation in the U.S.-led coalition fighting to oust Islamic State from its strongholds in Iraq and Syria.”

The White House statement also said Trump and Salman agreed to address and confront “Iran’s destabilizing regional activities.”

Details are lacking at this time as to what actions will be taken under the agreement between the US and Saudi Arabia, although the administration and the Saudis have previously suggested any involvement would be for humanitarian reasons. However, this reasoning is highly suspect, and any developing military partnership between the new administration and the Saudis is deeply troubling.

An alliance between the US and Saudi Arabia against Syria, Yemen, and Iran will have dire consequences for the civilians in those countries, as we have witnessed as recently as this morning. But this development also raises the question of the direction of US foreign policy in the region, considering Trump has both cautioned against continued intervention and called for more of it.

The US government is not a benevolent global hegemon. It would serve libertarians to remind the public of that fact as the Trump administration’s foreign policy takes shape and unfortunately continues the interventionist policies of its predecessors.

 

The Trump-Putin Phone Call: New US-Russia Partnership? Hold the Cheers!

Global Research, January 29, 2017
Trump and Putin

Except for cooperating during WW II to defeat Nazism, America has been largely adversarial toward Russia for the past century.

On Saturday, Trump and Putin spoke by phone. Discussion lasted nearly an hour. Both leaders agreed to continue “regular personal contacts.”

They’ll meet later in the year for face-to-face talks on an unspecified date at a mutually acceptable venue. A White House statement said the following:

The positive call was a significant start to improving the relationship between the United States and Russia that is in need of repair.

Both President Trump and President Putin are hopeful that after today’s call the two sides can move quickly to tackle terrorism and other important issues of mutual concern.

A more detailed Kremlim press service statement said “(t)he pressing international problems, including tackling terrorism, the developments in the Middle East, the Arab-Israeli conflict, the strategic stability and non-proliferation area, the situation around Iran’s nuclear program and the Korean Peninsula were discussed in detail.”

The key aspects of the Ukrainian crisis have been touched upon as well. It has been agreed to establish partner-type cooperation in those and other areas.

The presidents spoke in favor of creating real coordination of Russian and American actions with a purpose to defeat the ISIL and other terrorist groups in Syria.

Both sides demonstrated their will to take joint steps to stabilize and expand the cooperation between Russia and the United States, on a constructive, equal and mutually beneficial basis.

It was stressed that it is important to restore the mutually advantageous trade and economic ties between business circles of the two countries, which could further enhance a gradual and sustainable development of bilateral relations.

Saturday’s conversation was the first one between both leaders since Trump’s inauguration. One phone call doesn’t erase a century of US-instigated hostility, its longstanding plans for regime change, thousands of US-led heavily armed NATO forces positioned on Russia’s borders, and virtually the entire Congress opposed to normalized relations.

Putin reportedly told Trump he sees Washington as Russia’s most important partner in fighting the scourge of terrorism.

After his deceptive reset outreach, Obama hugely soured bilateral relations. Stepping back from the brink won’t be easy, warm relations likely impossible after adversarial ones for so long.

Bipartisan congressional consensus irresponsibly considers Putin public enemy number one. America’s intelligence community and major media challenged Trump’s legitimacy.

Congress may block lifting sanctions on Russia by executive order. Trump said he’s open to doing it “if we can make some good (bilateral) deals…”

He tweeted and publicly said having good relations with Russia is a good thing. He warned only “fools” believe otherwise.

Moscow is no stranger to US duplicity, its practice of saying one thing and doing another. Putin will proceed cautiously in relations with Trump.

He’ll welcome anything positive, knowing things can change unacceptably any time for any reason. It happened so many times before.

Last week, addressing Russia’s lower house State Duma, Sergey Lavrov said “(w)e have no illusions that there will be a new reset with the United States. We have no naive expectations.”

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

 

Syria: «There are No Moderates», Tulsi Gabbard’s Reports from Syria

Syria: «There are No Moderates», Tulsi Gabbard’s Reports from Syria

EDITOR’S CHOICE | 27.01.2017

Syria: «There are No Moderates», Tulsi Gabbard’s Reports from Syria

Vanessa BEELEY

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has recently returned from an “under-wraps” fact finding mission to Syria where she met with Syrian people across a wide spectrum of Syrian society, including those recently liberated from Nusra Front-led terrorist occupation in East Aleppo. What she found, confirmed that the corporate media, NATO-aligned NGOs and the US interventionist coalition have been misrepresenting the facts on the ground in Syria for the last six years, funding terrorism and fanfaring an illegal regime-change programme. The globalists are not happy! 

Gabbard had already caused major shock-waves in Congress with her “Stop Arming Terrorists” bill that exposed Washington’s violation of anti terrorism laws by providing money, weapons and intelligence to terrorist organisations working on their behalf inside Syria to topple the Syrian government.

This is the interview with Jake Tapper of CNN who starts the programme rolling with the familiar corporate media child exploitation tactics, introducing us to Bana Alabed, a child who has been co-opted into the war effort.. Watch ~

Tulsi Gabbard’s Report from Syria ~ The Syrian People Desperately Want Peace

As much of Washington prepared for the inauguration of President Donald Trump, I spent last week on a fact-finding mission in Syria and Lebanon to see and hear directly from the Syrian people. Their lives have been consumed by a horrific war that has killed hundreds of thousands of Syrians and forced millions to flee their homeland in search of peace.

It is clear now more than ever: this regime change war does not serve America’s interest, and it certainly isn’t in the interest of the Syrian people.

Hanano, East Aleppo, 48 hours after liberation from Nusra Front led occupation, by SAA and allies (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

I traveled throughout Damascus and Aleppo, listening to Syrians from different parts of the country. I met with displaced families from the eastern part of Aleppo, Raqqah, Zabadani, Latakia, and the outskirts of Damascus. I met Syrian opposition leaders who led protests in 2011, widows and children of men fighting for the government and widows of those fighting against the government. I met Lebanon’s newly-elected President Aoun and Prime Minister Hariri, U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard, Syrian President Assad, Grand Mufti Hassoun, Archbishop Denys Antoine Chahda of Syrian Catholic Church of Aleppo, Muslim and Christian religious leaders, humanitarian workers, academics, college students, small business owners, and more.

Their message to the American people was powerful and consistent: There is no difference between “moderate” rebels and al-Qaeda (al-Nusra) or ISIS — they are all the same. This is a war between terrorists under the command of groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda and the Syrian government. They cry out for the U.S. and other countries to stop supporting those who are destroying Syria and her people.

I heard this message over and over again from those who have suffered and survived unspeakable horrors. They asked that I share their voice with the world; frustrated voices which have not been heard due to the false, one-sided biased reports pushing a narrative that supports this regime change war at the expense of Syrian lives.

I heard testimony about how peaceful protests against the government that began in 2011 were quickly overtaken by Wahhabi jihadist groups like al-Qaeda (al-Nusra) who were funded and supported by Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, the United States, and others. They exploited the peaceful protesters, occupied their communities, and killed and tortured Syrians who would not cooperate with them in their fight to overthrow the government.

I met a Muslim girl from Zabadani who was kidnapped, beaten repeatedly, and raped in 2012, when she was just 14 years old, by “rebel groups” who were angry that her father, a sheep herder, would not give them his money. She watched in horror as masked men murdered her father in their living room, emptying their entire magazine of bullets into him.

I met a boy who was kidnapped while walking down the street to buy bread for his family. He was tortured, waterboarded, electrocuted, placed on a cross and whipped, all because he refused to help the “rebels” — he told them he just wanted to go to school. This is how the “rebels” are treating the Syrian people who do not cooperate with them, or whose religion is not acceptable to them.

Although opposed to the Assad government, the political opposition spoke strongly about their adamant rejection of the use of violence to bring about reforms. They argue that if the Wahhabi jihadists, fueled by foreign governments, are successful in overthrowing the Syrian state, it would destroy Syria and its long history of a secular, pluralist society where people of all religions have lived peacefully side by side. Although this political opposition continues to seek reforms, they are adamant that as long as foreign governments wage a proxy regime change war against Syria using jihadist terrorist groups, they will stand with the Syrian state as they work peacefully toward a stronger Syria for all Syrians.

Originally, I had no intention of meeting with Assad, but when given the opportunity, I felt it was important to take it. I think we should be ready to meet with anyone if there’s a chance it can help bring about an end to this war, which is causing the Syrian people so much suffering.

I return to Washington, DC with even greater resolve to end our illegal war to overthrow the Syrian government. From Iraq to Libya and now in Syria, the U.S. has waged wars of regime change, each resulting in unimaginable suffering, devastating loss of life, and the strengthening of groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS.

I call upon Congress and the new Administration to answer the pleas of the Syrian people immediately and support the Stop Arming Terrorists Act. We must stop directly and indirectly supporting terrorists — directly by providing weapons, training and logistical support to rebel groups affiliated with al-Qaeda and ISIS; and indirectly through Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, and Turkey, who, in turn, support these terrorist groups. We must end our war to overthrow the Syrian government and focus our attention on defeating al-Qaeda and ISIS.

The U.S. must stop supporting terrorists who are destroying Syria and her people. The U.S. and other countries fueling this war must stop immediately. We must allow the Syrian people to try to recover from this terrible war.

Thank you,

Tulsi

Tulsi Gabbard’s Video Depicting Life in Aleppo and Across Syria

“The U.S. must stop supporting terrorists who are destroying Syria and her people. The U.S. and other countries fueling this war must stop immediately. We must allow the Syrian people to try to recover from this terrible war.” ~ Tulsi Gabbard on Facebook

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Returns From Syria with Renewed Calls: End Regime Change War in Syria Now

“With my feet I walk, with my eyes I see, with my ears I listen, with my senses seek truth, my duty to speak out. A light more worthy than all the mobs demonstrating, both she (Tulsi Gabbard) and the other women who have supported the Syrian children and truth, great credit to you all.” ~ Patrick LeslieFacebook

“Forget about Trump for a moment, forget about the sides we take and don’t take in politics and read this testimony from Tulsi Gabbard who went to Syria to witness the testimony from Syrians about what really happened in this dirty war.

There’s a certain character to the writings of the people who have taken it upon themselves to visit Syria with only the desire for truth. These writings, if approached with an open heart, will change you.” ~ Michael Swifte on Facebook

21stcenturywire.com

%d bloggers like this: