Black Is White, White Is Black, in the Washington Post

Black Is White, White Is Black, in the Washington Post

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org

The Washington Post presents a shockingly imaginary Syria, in which the U.S. Government has been the friend of the Syrian people by trying to eliminate in Syria simultaneously the jihadists and the Syrian Government that’s been fighting against the jihadists, and in which the Syrian war has not been between the Syrian Government and those tens of thousands of jihadists, many of whom have actually been armed by the U.S. Government and financed by the American Government’s allies, especially by the Saudi Government, and brought into Syria through America’s allies, first Turkey, and then more recently Jordan, and the jihadists tended medically by yet another U.S. ally, Israel. Obviously, the U.S. Government supports jihadists when doing so serves its higher goal, of overthrowing Syria’s President, Bashar al-Assad. But this fact is unmentionable in the ‘authoritative’ media. The reality hidden by the Western press is that, according to Western-sponsored polls of Syrians, 82% of Syrians blame the U.S. for the plague of ISIS in their country, and well over 50% want Bashar al-Assad to continue as Syria’s President.

Such extreme reality-denial in the Washington Post is ordinary for the U.S. newsmedia; but, nonetheless, as in this particular case, it reaches occasionally absurd proportions, which the entire world would instantly recognize as being the propaganda-media of a dictatorship, if only the entire world knew about it (rather than its being hidden from the public by and within all of the aristocracies that are allied with the U.S. aristocracy). To mention that the Emperor has no clothes would be a capital offense.

A recent example of this 1984-style ‘news’-coverage in today’s American ‘news’-reporting, is the Washington Post’s October 7th “Civilian casualties spiral in Syria as air raids target areas marked for cease-fire”. It opens by alleging: “Civilian casualties have spiraled across Syria in recent weeks as pro-government forces launch hundreds of bombing raids across areas marked for international protection. Groups monitoring the conflict have recorded hundreds of strikes since the end of a sixth round of peace talks among Russia, Iran and Turkey in mid-September. On Friday, the White Helmets rescue group reported that 80 percent of those attacks targeted civilian areas.”

Here is some of the background reality, which that propaganda-piece ignores and/or blatantly flouts:

First of all, the White Helmets is an Al Qaeda affiliate that’s heavily backed by UK’s MI6 and America’s CIA in order to stir hatred among Westerners against Syria’s Government and especially against its President, Bashar al-Assad (seen here in an interview) by both actually rescuing people in jihadist-controlled areas of Syria and also outright staging ‘rescues’ of children and other residents in those areas who have been alleged to have been hit by Syrian or Syrian-allied bombings of those areas. The best brief introduction to the White Helmets was given on 23 September 2016, “How US Propaganda Plays in Syrian War” by the great American investigative journalist Rick Sterling, which was based largely upon an exhaustive earlier account which had been given on 23 October 2015 by the great British investigative journalist Vanessa Beeley, “Syria’s White Helmets: War by Way of Deception”. Here’s an excerpt from Sterling’s article:

There were three contestants in the Syrian presidential election of June 2014. Turnout was 73 percent of the registered voters, with 88 percent voting for Assad. In Beirut, the streets were clogged with tens of thousands of Syrian refugees marching through the city to vote at the Syrian Embassy. Hundreds of Syrian citizens living in the U.S. and other Western countries flew to Syria to vote because Syrian Embassies in Washington and other Western capitals were shut down.

While Secretary of State John Kerry was condemning the Syrian election as a “farce” before it had even happened, a marketing company known as The Syria Campaign waged a campaign to block knowledge of the Syrian election. Along with demonizing President Assad, the company launched a campaign which led to Facebook censoring information about the Syrian election.

A heart-rending propaganda image designed to justify a “no-fly zone,” a major U.S. military operation inside Syria against the Syrian military

Incubating Propaganda

The Syria Campaign was created by a larger company named “Purpose,” which – according to its website – “incubated” The Syria Campaign. 

[ That should have been linked to: https://www.purpose.com/white-helmets-profiled-by-nicholas-kristof-in-new-york-times/ or better yet, to http://archive.is/phAjI ] The company’s website says, “Purpose creates new movements, brands and organizations from the ground up to address complex global challenges. We apply this experience as movement creators to our work with progressive companies, nonprofits and philanthropies, helping them to put purpose and participation at the heart of what they do.”

The “White Helmets” are marketed in the West as civilian volunteers doing rescue work. On Sept. 22, it was announced that the Right Livelihood Award, the so-called “Alternative Nobel Prize,” is being given to the U.S./U.K.-created White Helmets “for their outstanding bravery, compassion and humanitarian engagement in rescuing civilians from the destruction of the Syrian civil war.” The major achievement of The Syria Campaign has been the branding and promotion of the “White Helmets,” also known as “Syria Civil Defense,” which began with a British military contractor, James LeMesurier, giving some rescue training to Syrians in Turkey with funding provided by the U.S. and U.K. The group stole this name from the REAL Syria Civil Defense as documented in this recent report from Aleppo.

Both the Rick Sterling article, and the Vanessa Beeley series of articles, are recommended reading, for anyone who trusts the Washington Post and other U.S.-or-allied newsmedia, to report to them what is happening in the world and why it’s happening, and who is actually behind it, and for what reasons. Recommended, that is, in order to disprove the validity of that trust.

Beeley published, at 21st Century Wire on 11 March 2017, her extensive interview of Assad, and one of her questions to him was:

Question 12: Mr. President, as you may be fully aware that the “White Helmets” took an Oscar this year for the best documentary short, but folks are saying that the truth about this “White Helmets” is not like what Netflix has presented, so what is your take on this?

President Assad: First of all, we have to congratulate al-Nusra for having the first Oscar! This is an unprecedented event for the West to give Al Qaeda an Oscar; this is unbelievable, and this is another proof that the Oscars, Nobel, all these things are politicized certificates, that’s how I can look at it. The White Helmets story is very simple; it is a facelift of al-Nusra Front in Syria, just to change their ugly face into a more humanitarian face, that’s it. And you have many videos on the net and of course images broadcasted by the White Helmets that condemn the White Helmets as a terrorists group, where you can see the same person wearing the white helmet and celebrating over the dead bodies of Syrian soldiers. So, that’s what the Oscar went to, to those terrorists.

In fact, Al Nusra, which is Al Qaeda in Syria, was the main group that the Obama Administration relied upon to organize and train the other jihadist groups there.

But, of course, the U.S. regime itself knows the truth about this mater, as I had reported, on 4 August 2016, at Strategic Culture, headlining, “U.S. State Department Refused Entry to Jihadist It Employed for Overthrowing President Al-Assad”. The head of the White Helmets had been barred entry into the U.S. back in April, because the U.S. Government knew that the head of the White Helmets — which group also calls itself “Syria Civil Defense” in order to give itself an official, legitimate, and even government-sounding name — the Government knew that he was a jihadist, a “terrorist,” and President Obama simply wanted to avoid a possible terrorist incident on U.S. soil. The event — this man’s landing at Dulles International Airport only to be barred entry by the U.S. Government there — had occurred on April 20th of 2016, and here’s the way that the U.S. propaganda-media had dealt with the event, at that time: “A man who has helped save more than 40,000 lives in Syria was just denied entry into the US”. That report made his having been barred entry seem like it had been simply an error by unidentified U.S. Customs official(s) at the airport. That report was, basically, a lie. And the report that appeared in the New York Times about the event pretended that the man who had been denied a visa was leading a Syrian charity, and gave no indication whatsoever that he was on Al Qaeda’s side, helping their war to overthrow Syria’s Government. This was presented as a nonpartisan charity: “It was a stance of the unity of humanity.” It was ‘nonpartisan’ like Al Qaeda itself is.

Though you might not have been informed of that matter, perhaps you do remember having seen, during 18 August 2016, this staged ‘rescue’ by the White Helmets being shown on all mainstream U.S. ‘news’media including the networks and including the Washington Post, but not at all the reality, which the terrific independent reporter Brandon Turbeville described so well, in the following, 9 June 2017, as soon as the truth behind the matter became fully revealed (and the mainstream U.S. press ignored the truth altogether, because it was a very “inconvenient” truth):

Nearly a year ago, Western corporate media outlets paraded video of a young Syrian boy, injured in a blast and allegedly being saved by the White Helmets. That video was presented as evidence of “Assad’s cruelty” and his “indiscriminate bombing of civilians” as well as the heroism of the White Helmets.

The picture of the boy, seemingly injured in some type of bombing incident, sitting alone in an orange chair in the back of an ambulance, blood stains on his face and covered in dust from cracked concrete also comes in video form, footage that lasts for about two minutes, showing the boy being carried to a well-equipped ambulance (with English writing on some of the equipment). The boy’s story was also accompanied by “heart wrenching” stories from “activists” in east Aleppo alleging the crimes of the Syrian government and the horrific situation in the area.

It was rather clear that the child was being used as a stage prop. After being passed to the medical “attendants,” little Omran was placed in an orange chair facing the camera and immediately left alone. He was not treated, no one else was lifted into the ambulance, and no one was even in the vehicle with him. Instead, he was left to face the “activists” outside the vehicle and their cameras for what seems like too long a time to be anything other than a photo op for the “activists” videotaping him.

While the Western public was whipped into a fury of concern for one child, largely uninjured, they were able to completely ignore the thousands upon thousands of children murdered by the United States, NATO, and their proxies in the same country. Still, little Omran was paraded in front of Western audiences as an unfortunate little propaganda tool, part of a play where the other actors were the same people who behead children on camera and hang them from doorposts.

Turbeville then presented the interview with the boy’s father, telling the man’s outrage during the actual event, while the jihadists were staging and filming this propaganda-video, which had been broadcast to Western audiences uncritically as ‘news’. Until the Syrian Government rescued the residents of that area from Al Qaeda, in the liberation of eastern Aleppo, neither the boy nor his family were allowed to speak to the press.

Back again to the Washington Post’s October 7th “Civilian casualties spiral in Syria as air raids target areas marked for cease-fire”, that article’s attempt vaguely to convey the false impression that the “hundreds of strikes since the end of a sixth round of peace talks among Russia, Iran and Turkey in mid-September” were a result of some kind of failure of the current Russia-Iran-Turkey “Astana” peace-process for Syria, which process had replaced the previous U.S.-Saudi peace process, which had ended when U.S. President Barack Obama sabotaged his own Secretary of State John Kerry’s signed 9 September 2016 peace-agreement with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, when the U.S. unprovokedly bombed the Syrian Army at Deir Ezzor in Syria on September 17th of last year, is simply false. Whereas the prior, U.S.-Saudi ‘peace’-process demanded the immediate ouster of President Assad, the current peace-process does not, and is, in fact, making steady progress, despite continued efforts by the U.S, Israel, and Saud, regimes (and their ‘news’media such as the Washington Post), to discredit this peace-process, and so to help to make it fail.

On 1 March 2017, the BBC bannered “Lies, propaganda and fake news: A challenge for our age”, and presented a lengthy report on ‘fake news’ which itself constituted fake news, because it focused entirely upon non-mainstream ‘news’media as being the sole creators of ‘fake news’, and pretended as if media such as the BBC itself weren’t fake ‘news’media, perhaps even worse than some of the non-mainstream ones. That BBC report itself demonstrated — as propaganda for itself and for its friends (such as at the Washington Post, NYT, etc.) and against their desired victims, such as the Syrian people, who persist in wanting Bashar al-Assad to lead their nation — demonstrated that, despite all of the West’s lying, the similar deception of foreign publics wasn’t possible, and the deception of their own public was not sufficient. No ‘solution’ that the BBC’s article proposed urged that the system, which causes their ‘news’ to be distorted or even downright false, must be ended, but instead the proposals were all to distract the public, about what the problem itself is: For example, one solution “is an approach being attempted by a number of different groups around the world. Researchers at the University of Mississippi and Indiana University are both working on an automated fact-checking system.” But, when the aristocracy — who own, and whose corporations’ products and services are advertised in and thus fund, the ‘news’media — leave out of their ‘news’reports, the key facts that are essential in order to enable a true understanding to be conveyed of what’s happening and why; then, automating fact-checking (even if it can be done) ignores, instead of addresses, the real problem, which is institutional, and thus can’t possibly be solved merely by automation. In any case, “says Stephan Lewandowsky, a cognitive scientist at the University of Bristol in the UK, who studies the persistence and spread of misinformation, ‘Having a large number of people in a society who are misinformed and have their own set of facts is absolutely devastating and extremely difficult to cope with.’” But, why should people such as that, be consulted by a ‘news’medium as ‘experts’, on a matter such as this? They don’t know anything more about it than, say, Americans know about the Syrian war. No computer scientist, nor cognitive scientist, is an expert on, say, political corruption, and all the rest of the system that causes “misinformation” — that causes it to be very profitable, for ‘the right people’ — such as for the propagandists (including the executives, the decision-makers, at BBC).

That kind of excuse for failure (failure in the efforts by U.S. and allied regimes, against the government of Syria and of other countries whose governments ours want to overthrow) which alleges that “We’re a democracy, and their government isn’t,” or that “Their news-media lie to their public about the war in their country, and ‘ours’ tell our public the truth about that war,” can be believed by the publics in the U.S. and in its allied regimes (and, so, we invaded and destroyed Iraq, Libya, Syria, etc., just as the regime intended), but it’s not necessarily going to be believed by the publics in the intended victim-countries — and it really shouldn’t be believed by anybody anywhere. But, the sad fact is that, many countries, which claim to be ‘democratic’, are not. The ‘news’media are an important part of that problem, because they’re the way that their public ‘know’ their own country. And — obviously — very few Americans have any realistic idea about ‘our’ Government. Realistically, it’s not really “ours” at all. The system deceives us, because the people who control it want it to — and they fire and demote any of their employees or other agents who refuse to cooperate and do their job, for which they’re being paid. Deceiving the public, in the intended ways, is part of their job. They’re being paid to do it. And, “an automated fact-checking system” or etc., won’t affect that, at all. And, to the extent that such a proposal is imposed, it will be designed to rely instead upon mainstream sources as defining what is ‘true’, and what is ‘fake’. Automated censorship would be the real goal. Truth, and the public, would be even more victimized by the system, if such automated censorship becomes imposed.

For news-consumers, there is no short-cut. Buying a subscription to some mainstream ‘news’media won’t solve the problem, but will only cause to become less costly to the owners, their existing and very successful (at least domestically) system of deception and manipulation of the domestic public.

Nothing should be trusted; everything should be at least spot-checked, many times, and right down to its ultimate sources. Are all of the root-sources reliable? Not every newsmedium is fake, even if all of the mainstream newsmedia now are. But no newsmedium should be trusted. Only if they’re all distrusted, can the few honest ones become even so much as recognized, and — only then — worthy of perhaps donating to, after some free trial period. Because, only in this way, can a person intelligently decide, on one’s own, which those few worthy newsmedia actually are (worthy of being subscribed to). And, as regards ‘free’ newsmedia, nothing is actually free. Every newsmedium has an agenda; but, only if at the very top of that agenda is total honesty and never deceiving about anything, can a newsmedium reasonably be relied upon, as being purely honest news and opinion, never anything else than that — never propaganda.

After all: propaganda is produced and marketed so as to seem to be honest. Nothing should be trusted, unless one has long and carefully vetted it so as to have confirmed, in a strict and rigorous way, its thorough honesty. Because, in this world, to be trusting of ‘news’, or for a person not to know how to test the honesty of ‘news’, is to invite being deceived. There is no short-cut, to truth.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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The reason why U.S. wants Iran out of Syria & Iraq is to make life easier for terrorists

ISIL would have taken over region if not for Iran forces  

 

zarif
News ID: 4122146 –
 TEHRAN, Oct. 23 (MNA) – Reacting to Rex Tillerson’s remarks on asking Iranian forces to exit Iraq, FM Zarif stressed Tehran’s role in fighting terrorism, saying ISIL would have taken over Syria and Iraq if it were not for Iran’s efforts.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif made the remarks upon arrival in South African capital early Monday, adding “the policies of the Trump’s administration are isolated in the world. Even the closest allies to Washington have publicly taken a stand against Mr. Trump’s anti-JCPOA approaches.”

Zarif was reacting to the remarks made by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who called for new sanctions to be imposed on Iran during a press conference with his Saudi counterpart Adel al-Jubeir on Sunday in Riyadh.

Tillerson had also said it was time for Iranian forces fighting ISIL in Iraq to exit the war-torn country.

In a tweet late Monday, Zarif reacted to Tillerson’s remakes by censuring US foreign policy as shameful, saying “exactly what country is it that Iraqis who rose up to defend their homes against ISIS return to? Shameful US FP, dictated by petrodollars.”

Asked to comment about Tillerson’s Middle East tour, Zarif said “regrettably, the Americans are not willing to amend their views about Iran and realize that the country is the cause of peace and stability by fighting terrorism in the region.”

“If it were not for the sacrifices of our Holy Shrine Defenders [Iranian advisers and military personnel fighting ISIL in Syria and Iraq], today Damascus, Baghdad and Erbil would have been taken over by ISIL terrorists,” he added.

“The US allies who are bending to Washington’s will and allowing their petrodollars to be squandered are the cause of instability and crisis in the region, and as days go by, more people in the US and the world come to realize that the US has been the recipient of the majority of damage caused by its own wrong approach toward the region,” Zarif said.

The Iranian top diplomat further advised American politicians to correct their wrong policies as soon as possible and stop supporting Saudi Arabia in the massacre of children and the elderly in Yemen so as to prevent further damage to the Middle East region. 

U.S. lies about Syria Govt. using chemical weapons begin to dissipate

US Now Admits Syrian “Rebels” Have Used Chemical Weapons

Source: Zero Hedge

From the first moment chemical weapons were used on the Syrian battlefield, the American public was led to believe that only one side could possibly be responsible. The constant refrain in the echo chamber of US government officials and the mainstream media was that only the Assad government possessed chemical stockpiles and the technological capability of deploying such heinous weapons, therefore blame for each and every chemical attack from Ghouta to Khan Sheikhoun was laid at the feet of Assad and the Syrian military.

And yet last Wednesday, for the first time, the US State Department casually dropped an important admission into its official Syria travel warning for American citizens: that the core rebel group currently operating in northwest Syria not only possesses but has used chemical weapons – to the point that the State Department considers it a major enough threat to publicly warn citizens about.

The armed opposition group, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), is referenced early in the document: “Terrorist and other violent extremist groups including ISIS and Al-Qaeda linked Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham [dominated by Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat Al-Nusra, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization], operate in Syria.” HTS is the group now holding Idlib province, which it captured in 2015 as part of a coalition of armed groups given direct support from a US-led operations room in southern Turkey – this according to prominent pro-opposition analyst Charles Lister.

The new State Department travel warning has this to say about the tactics of HTS and other anti-Assad groups:

Tactics of ISIS, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, and other violent extremist groups include the use of suicide bombers, kidnapping, small and heavy arms, improvised explosive devices, and chemical weapons.

 

They have targeted major city centers, road checkpoints, border crossings, government buildings, shopping areas, and open spaces, in Damascus, Aleppo, Hamah, Dara, Homs, Idlib, and Dayr al-Zawr provinces.

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham along with other Salafi-Jihadi terror groups such as Ahrar al-Sham, were in control of the Idlib province town of Khan Sheikhoun when the group alleged that Syrian jets launched a massive Sarin gas attack on civilians last April. Relying chiefly on YouTube videos uploaded by “activists” associated with the al-Qaeda linked groups, media and government officials in the West immediately blamed Syria and Russia for the incident which possibly resulted in up to 74 civilian deaths. The White House’s own four page assessment released in the wake of the incident relied heavily on, in its words, “a wide body of open-source material” and “social media accounts” to find the Syrian government “guilty” – which means that essentially YouTube videos were used as justification for Trump’s subsequent punitive strike on Shayrat military airfield in Syria (a strike which turned out to be largely symbolic for the sake of “doing something”).

Meanwhile, HTS and their affiliates prevented any and all international monitoring groups from entering Idlib to access the site of the alleged attack – a reality which continues to this day. The OPCW Fact-Finding Mission (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons), for example, acknowledged that, “For security reasons, the FFM [Fact-Finding Mission] was unable to visit Khan Shaykhun.”

For this reason, while Western media accused the Syrian government of attacking civilians with Sarin a mere hours after the attack was said to have taken place, OPCW officials urged caution. One prominent official who publicly insisted that Western media cease prematurely blaming Assad for Khan Sheikhoun because they couldn’t possibly possess empirical data with objective chain of custody (as no observers had accessed the site) was Jerry Smith.

Smith was the lead field investigator for the UN-backed operation to remove Syria’s chemical weapons in 2013 after a US-Russia-Syria deal was struck to decommission Syria’s declared Sarin stockpiles. In two major UK media interviews, the former OPCW deputy head of Syria field operations said that he considered it entirely plausible that Assad was not responsible, even after the visibly surprised anchors attempted to pressure him into saying Assad did it.

Former OPCW head field investigator Jerry Smith to Sky News’ Sophy Ridge in the week after the Khan Sheikhoun attack: 

Ridge: “Is there any way that Assad might not have been responsible for those [chemical attacks]?”

 

Smith: “The fact of the matter is that there is… We need to listen to every story and then start to pick it apart. Some of the stories that come out are not true. And the stakeholders that are saying them are having a line because of their own narrative. If we start to pick this apart effectively their stories will fall away.”

 

A BBC article which initially quoted Smith’s expert analysis from the TV interviews subsequently deleted his comments as he expressed views which ran directly contrary to the mainstream media’s consensus. The narrative of the Syrian government’s guilt became entrenched so early, based so little “evidence” (primarily social media videos), that even contrary analysis by high level OPCW experts was censored. 

Similarly, this is further what currently has Russia angrily calling foul – the idea that the UN’s Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) appears bias toward finding the Syrian government responsible from afar based on assumptions concerning guilt which became entrenched in the West from the beginning. A fresh and contentious vote is expected at the UN on Monday as to whether or note the JIM mandate will be extended for another year.

And Russia is now pointing to the State Department’s updated Syria travel advisory as constituting a US intelligence admission that it is not only entirely plausible that al-Qaeda (HTS) committed the Khan Sheikhoun attack but even likely, considering HTS’ chief area of operation for the past year has been in Idlib province (the travel document purports to be an update of the last six months). On Friday, Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov issued a statement, saying:

I would like to point out that that the Department of State has for the first time officially acknowledged that terrorists from Jabhat al-Nusra not only have but also – I would like to stress that – use chemical weapons in this part of Syria in order to carry out terrorist attacks – a thing that we have many times many times warned against and talked about at various levels.

The State Department in a response given to the Washington Examiner over the weekend, accused the Russians of “cherry-picking language to suit their false narrative that they have been peddling for years about the use of chemical weapons in Syria and those responsible.”

However, the UN’s own extensive 2013 investigation into the first reported uses of chemical weapons in Syria support the consistently stated Russian position that the armed opposition in Syria have long possessed and have repeatedly used chemical weapons. When the UN undertook its first on the ground inquiry in Syria, it admitted in its 82-page December 2013 report (initiated after the August 2013 Ghouta attack), that it considered both sides of the war to be in possession of mass casualty producing chemical weapons. This is important, given that at the time the US position was that only the Syrian government could have possibly launched chemical attacks. According to the UN report:

The United Nations Mission remains deeply concerned that chemical weapons were used in the ongoing conflict between the parties in the Syrian Arabic Republic, which has added yet another dimension to the continued suffering of the Syrian people.

The report stated that chemical weapons were “probably used” at five sites in Syria during the conflict up to that point (2013). Most significant is that among the five sites the UN could not find a single instance where members of the armed rebels opposition were victims, but instead found that at two sites, the victims were Syrian government soldiers, and at a third, the victims were Syrian Army personnel and civilians.

While the purpose of the investigation was not to establish the culprit in each attack, the report identified the victims in three out of the five incidents as government soldiers. This was the first tacit UN admission that the rebels possess and have used chemical weapons – an admission made all the way back in 2013. And even the generally pro-rebel New York Times had to admit the following when the 2013 report came out:

Chemical weapons were used repeatedly in the Syria conflict this year, not only in a well-documented Aug. 21 attack near Damascus but also in four other instances, including two subsequent attacks that targeted soldiers, the United Nations said in a report released Thursday.

And concerning the first reported usage of chemical weapons in the entirety of the Syrian conflict, the NYT further admitted at the time that Syrian soldiers had been on the receiving end (though the NYT buried the information far away from the front page):

The report said the panel had corroborated “credible allegations” that chemical weapons were used in the first reported attack — a March 19 episode involving soldiers and civilians [as victims] in Khan al-Assal in the country’s north.

But even prior to the UN’s December 2013 findings, credible allegations of rebel chemical weapons were nothing new. In May of 2013, Carla Del Ponte, a top UN human rights investigator and former UN Chief Prosecutor and veteran International Criminal Court attorney – was the first to accuse the rebels of using Sarin gas against government forces and civilians (also see herehere, and here).

Del Ponte’s assertions, based upon her information gathering team on the ground, caused a row in Europe at the time, but the only major American outlet to cover the story when it happened was the LA Times. During a Swiss-Italian TV interview, she was convinced enough to be very blunt in her assessment, saying, “I was a little bit stupefied by the first indication of the use of nerve gas by the opposition.”

So in reality, a number of top experts (as well as documentation) have come forward over the past few years to offer analysis contrary to the West’s open and shut “Assad did it” narrative, yet the Western public has for the most part been carefully shielded from such voices (to say nothing of Seymour Hersh’s excellent investigative reporting, or MIT rocket scientist Theodore Postol’s analysis). With this latest US State Department admission that groups like HTS in Syria possess and have used chemical weapons, it appears that the US government could slowly and reluctantly be catching up to what other experts have long understood.

Video: Korean War: 600,000 Tons of American Bombs on the North. Every City was Destroyed

Video: Korean War: 600,000 Tons of American Bombs on the North. Every City was Destroyed

By mlovmo,

This episode details the UN bombing campaign over North Korea and the results for the people on the ground.

The majority of civilians killed in the Korean War were killed in North Korea by air attack. (This segment on the bombing of North Korea was censored from the US version of this documentary.).

Extensive war crimes committed by the United States. 

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Just following orders, Trump Trashes Iran Deal to Satisfy Netanyahu

Trump Trashes Iran Deal to Satisfy Netanyahu
by Gareth Porter

U.S-Iran policy is closer to Israel than it has been in years.

President Donald Trump’s new Iran policy clearly represents a dangerous rejection of diplomacy in favor of confrontation. But it’s more than that: It’s a major shift toward a much closer alignment of U.S. policy with that of the Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Whether explicitly or not, Trump’s vow to work with Congress to renegotiate the Iran nuclear agreement, and his explicit threat to withdraw from the deal if no renegotiation takes place, appear to be satisfying the hardline demands Netanyahu has made of Washington’s policy toward Tehran.

Specifically, Netanyahu has continued to demand that Trump either withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or make far-reaching changes that he knows are impossible to achieve. In his September 17 speech to the UN General Assembly, Netanyahu declared, “Israel’s policy toward the nuclear deal with Iran is very simple: Change it or cancel it.” And he made no secret of what that meant: If Trump doesn’t “cancel” the deal, he must get rid of its “sunset clause” and demand that Iran end its advanced centrifuges and long-range missile program, among other fundamentally unattainable objectives.

Trump’s statement last Friday managed to include both of the either/or choices that Netanyahu had given him. He warned that, if Congress and America’s European allies do not agree on a plan to revise the deal, “then the agreement will be terminated.” He added that the agreement “is under continuous review,” and our participation “can be canceled by me, as president at any time.”

One provision the administration wants Congress to put into amended legislation would allow sanctions to be imposed if Iran crosses certain “trigger points,” which would include not only nuclear issues but the Israeli demand that Iran stop its long-range missile program. Ballistic missiles were never included in the JCPOA negotiations for an obvious reason: Iran has the same right to develop ballistic missiles as any other independent state, and it firmly rejected pro forma demands by the Barack Obama administration to include the issue in negotiations.

Trump went a long way towards Netanyahu’s “cancel” option by refusing last week to certify that Iran was keeping up its end of the JPCOA. That move signaled his intention to scrap the central compromise on which the entire agreement rests.

Although the Middle East is very different today than during the George W. Bush administration, some parallels can be found in comparing Trump’s policy toward the JCPOA and Bush’s policy toward Iran during the early phase of its uranium enrichment program.

The key figures who had primary influence on both Trump’s and Bush’s Iran policies held views close to those of Israel’s right-wing Likud Party. The main conduit for the Likudist line in the Trump White House is Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, primary foreign policy advisor, and longtime friend and supporter of Netanyahu. Kushner’s parents are also long-time supporters of Israeli settlements on the occupied West Bank.

Another figure to whom the Trump White House has turned is John Bolton, undersecretary of state and a key policymaker on Iran in the Bush administration. Although Bolton was not appointed Trump’s secretary of state, as he’d hoped, he suddenly reemerged as a player on Iran policy thanks to his relationship with Kushner. Politico reports that Bolton met with Kushner a few days before the final policy statement was released and urged a complete withdrawal from the deal in favor of his own plan for containing Iran.

Bolton spoke with Trump by phone on Thursday about the paragraph in the deal that vowed it would be “terminated” if there was any renegotiation, according to Politico. He was calling Trump from Las Vegas, where he’d been meeting with casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, the third major figure behind Trump’s shift towards Israeli issues. Adelson is a Likud supporter who has long been a close friend of Netanyahu’s and has used his Israeli tabloid newspaper Israel Hayom to support Netanyahu’s campaigns. He was Trump’s main campaign contributor in 2016, donating $100 million. Adelson’s real interest has been in supporting Israel’s interests in Washington—especially with regard to Iran.

In a public appearance in Israel in 2013, when Adelson was asked about his view on negotiating with Tehran, he suggested dropping a nuclear weapon on a desert in Iran and then saying to the Iranians, “See! The next one is in the middle of Tehran. So, we mean business. You want to be wiped out? Go ahead and take a tough position and continue with your nuclear development….”

The Likud Party policy preferences on Iran dominated the Bush administration in large part because of the influence of David Wurmser, a Likudist who was a Middle East advisor first to Bolton and later to Vice President Dick Cheney. Wurmser was a co-author, with Richard Perle and Douglas Feith, of A Clean Break, the 1996 paper that advised Netanyahu to carry out military strikes against Syria and Iran and to remove the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq. Wurmser convinced Cheney that the administration should seek a pretext for attacking Iran.

But it was Bolton who worked with Israeli officials to plan a campaign to convince the world that Iran was secretly working on nuclear weapons. His goal was to sell key European nations on a UN Security Council resolution accusing Iran of developing a nuclear program. Bolton explains in his memoirs that the assumption of his strategy was that either the Security Council would strip Iran of its right to have a nuclear program or the United States would take unilateral military action.

In the summer of 2004, a large collection of documents allegedly from a covert Iranian nuclear weapons research program was suddenly obtained by Germany’s foreign intelligence agency. Those documents became the sole alleged evidence that such a program existed. But this writer found more than one telltale sign of fraud in the papers, and a former senior German foreign office official told me on the record in March 2013 that the source who passed on the documents was a member of the Mujihadeen e-Khalq (MEK), the armed Iranian opposition group. The MEK has allegedly worked with Israel’s Mossad for some time.

Neither the Bush administration nor the Trump administration viewed the alleged danger of nuclear proliferation by Iran as the priority problem per se; it was rather an issue to be exploited to weaken the Islamic regime and ultimately achieve regime change. Hilary Mann Leverett, the NSC coordinator in the Persian Gulf from 2001-03, told this writer in a 2013 interview that Wurmser and other Cheney advisors were convinced that the student protests of 1999 indicated that Iranians were ready to overthrow the Islamic Republic. In his statement last week, Trump blamed Obama for having lifted nuclear sanctions on Iran “just before what would have been the total collapse of the Iranian regime.”

After Netanyahu became Israeli prime minister in early 2009, his administration worked assiduously for four years to maneuver the Obama administration into giving Iran an ultimatum over its enrichment program. Obama rejected such a proposal, but Bolton has repeated his call for the United States to bomb Iran year after year.

Now the Trump administration is playing out a new chapter in the drama of the Likudists and their patrons in Washington. Their objective is nothing less than using U.S. power to weaken Iran through military means if possible and economic sanctions if necessary. The remarkable thing is that Trump is cooperating even more eagerly than did Bush.

Gareth Porter is an independent journalist and winner of the 2012 Gellhorn Prize for journalism. He is the author of numerous books, including Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare. Follow him on Twitter @GarethPorter

To Support ISIS Terrorists israel Says It Will Step Up Attacks Against Syria

Israel To Step Up Attacks Against Syria

Syria warns of grave consequences for continued strikes

Claiming more stray artillery fire landing inside the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, Israeli officials are promising to “step up” their strikes against Syrian military targets in response, including attacks over the weekend in southern Syria.

Throughout the Syrian War, Israel has repeatedly attacked Syrian military targets. Syria has insisted that cross-border stray shells weren’t fired by them in the first place, accusing Israel of “framing” them to justify the attacks.

 

Israel doesn’t appear to really deny that, saying they don’t bother to try to figure out who fired anything that crosses into their occupied territory, and that they consider the Syrian military responsible for everything. This works quite well, as Israeli politicians have been very public about preferring a rebel victory, even an ISIS victory, in Syria.

Syria’s Foreign Ministry has urged the UN to rebuke Israel over the attacks, saying they are violations of the UN Charter. They have further warned continued Israeli attacks would have “grave consequences.”

US Gets Increasingly Isolated Internationally

US Gets Increasingly Isolated Internationally

By Alex GORKA | Strategic Culture Foundation | 22.10.2017

Economic sanctions are an instrument of coercion used to make one state comply with another’s wishes. The United States is by far the largest implementer of economic sanctions in the world. It is virtually the only country that imposes unilateral sanctions, certainly the only one that does so with any regularity. The US has imposed more sanctions than the other countries/entities put together. Washington sees restrictions as a low-cost method to accomplish foreign policy goals, despite the fact that the measures affect common people. The policy damages international relations and backfires exacting a high price in terms of lost jobs and trade opportunities.

The US sanctions policy came under sharp criticism in the United Nations. Addressing the UN General Assembly on October 18, United Nations Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur Idriss Jazairy said “Damaging a country’s economy with sanctions usually leads to violations of the rights of ordinary people. Sanctions are disruptive for any State, and can have a particularly devastating impact on the citizens of developing countries when they impair the economy.” He expressed concern about sanctions which had an impact outside the territory being targeted. “It is well established that sanctions which apply to parties outside of the dispute are illegal, but sanctions which lead to human rights violations also create an obligation on the imposing state to take measures to repair the harm they have caused,” the expert noted.

Reporting on his visit to Russia in April, Jazairy said sanctions had not achieved the desired effect but had damaged others. “It appears that sanctions have not changed Russia’s position, but instead have caused economic losses for agricultural producers in both the EU and Russia,” he noted, adding “Serious, credible dialogue and negotiations are needed to resolve political issues, without creating additional harm for farmers.”

Jazairy urged the UN member states to adopt a Declaration on Unilateral Coercive Measures and the Rule of Law, which would set out shared principles on the use of sanctions and international law, renewing the call for a registry of sanctions, to bring greater transparency to the practice. “A registry would allow States, civil society and any other interested parties to know at all times what sanctions are in place, helping companies to conduct their businesses, and ensuring the sanctions meet human rights standards,” he said.

In his report (A/HRC/33/48) issued in September, the rapporteur urged the Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly, through a solemn Declaration, to reaffirm “the right of victims to an effective remedy, including appropriate and effective financial compensation, in all situations where their human rights are affected by unilateral coercive measures.” The report also highlighted the importance of setting up a consolidated central register within the UN system of all the international sanctions in force, adding that these findings should be made public. This mechanism, which would enhance transparency and accountability, could draw on the model of the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms set up in 1991.

A new research by the Austrian Institute of Economic Research (WIFO) suggests the EU’s economic sanctions against Russia introduced three years ago have cost European countries billions of euros. The survey, which was conducted at the request of the European Parliament, and published on October 6, showed that the EU has lost €30bn due to sanctions.

Unilateral sanctions are increasingly ineffective in a more globalized economy. The United States has imposed many different sanctions against Russia but there are many more nations ready to boost economic cooperation with Moscow. The US has got a reputation for imposing economic sanctions liberally making other nations reluctant to do business with it. European leaders and much of the rest of the world view economic sanctions as counterproductive and generally favor them only in extraordinary circumstances, such as war. In July, France’s foreign ministry said new US penalties against Iran and Russia appeared at odds with international law due to their extra-territorial reach.

From a legal point of view, only the UN Security Council has the right to impose sanctions against a state. Unilateral coercive measures violate the spirit and letter of the UN Charter, in particular its preamble and Articles 1 and 2. The organization rests on the principle of equality of all its member states. A state can resort to sanctions for self-defense purposes but Russia did not attack the United States. Thus, the United States is destroying the integrity of international organizations and agreements to which it is a party.

For instance, the policy of sanctions runs counter to the WTO fundamental principle of trade free of discrimination, which envisages respect for market principles and honest competition. Parties should maintain government restraints on the movement of goods at a minimum, and if changed, the restraints should be reduced, not increased. The conditions of trade, including the level of tariffs and other, must be discussed and agreed on within a multilateral framework.

In theory, a state complaint procedure of the UN Human Rights committee could be launched according to Article 41 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – that way the UN would have to deal with the matter. The US has recently announced its intent to drop out from the United Nations Human Rights Council. This month it left UNESCO. No surprise as the idea to leave the United Nations has been floating in the US for some time. In January, 2017, Alabama congressman Mike Rogers sponsored the American Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2017, referred to the House, which calls to leave the United Nations. Utah state representative Don Bush, has claimed that many programs by the supranational entity have violated the US Constitution, such as the implementation of the International Court of Justice and the Law of the Sea Treaty, both of which the United States does not currently endorse. Much has been said in the United States about Russia’s international isolation. In practice, the United States, not Russia, is getting increasingly isolated internationally.

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