Sino/Russian COVID-19 Disinformation Campaign?

By Stephen Lendman

Source

Virtually anything is a convenient pretext for the US, its imperial partners, and press agent media to bash Russia and China.

Credible evidence is absent like always before. Most people believe almost anything repeated enough by establishment media.

Last month, a so-called European External Action Service report accused Russia of waging a COVID-19 disinformation campaign “to aggravate the public health crisis in Western countries…in line with the Kremlin’s broader strategy of attempting to subvert European societies (sic).”

No supportive evidence was presented because none exists. The report followed Russia’s response to Italy’s request for help in dealing with large-scale COVID-19 outbreaks in the country.

Russia sent planeloads of medicines, medical equipment and supplies, hazmat protective gear, and mobile sanitizing devices, along with virologists and epidemiologists to help.

Italian officials expressed gratitude. Foreign Minister Luigi di Maio personally welcomed the first Russian aircraft’s arrival. 

Health Ministry undersecretary Sandra Zampa, Governor of Lombardy Attilio Fontana, and a number of local officials expressed gratitude. 

So did ordinary Italian citizens on social media.

In response to the fake news EU report, Vladimir Putin debunked it, stressing :

“If there was even a single concrete example, I could comment on it, but once again they are just unfounded accusations.”

The NYT never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity to bash Russia and China, falsely saying:

Both countries “seized on (COVID-19) to wage disinformation campaigns that seek to sow doubts about the United States’ handling of the crisis and deflect attention from their own struggles with the pandemic,” citing unnamed US “intelligence officials and diplomats,” whoever they are lacking credibility.

The US intelligence community and political class are notorious liars. Virtually nothing they say can be believed.

The same goes for Times reports about sovereign nations on the US target list for regime change.

According to the self-styled newspaper of record, Russia and especially China are “traffick(ing)  in conspiracy theories to spread fear in Europe and political division in the United States (sic),” adding:

Beijing “used a network of government-linked social media accounts to spread discredited, and sometimes contradictory, theories (sic).” 

“China has adopted Russia’s playbook for more covert operations, mimicking Kremlin disinformation campaigns and even using and amplifying some of the same conspiracy sites (sic).”

As always when these type accusations are made, not a shred of credible evidence supports them because none exists.

Times bashing didn’t stop with Russia and China. Iran’s truth-telling was slammed for truth-telling remarks like the following by anthropologist/political analyst Dennis Etler on Press TV, saying:

The same goes for Times reports about sovereign nations on the US target list for regime change.

According to the self-styled newspaper of record, Russia and especially China are “traffick(ing)  in conspiracy theories to spread fear in Europe and political division in the United States (sic),” adding:

Nor mine Press TV published in its view point section, slamming healthcare know-nothings Mike Pence and Jared Kushner in charge of steering the Trump regime’s COVID-19 task force on the rocks — when competence, caring, and medical expertise are badly needed.

When countless millions of Americans are in dire need of federal leadership and help, Trump cares only about getting reelected, serving monied interests, and his own welfare exclusively — the rights, needs, and well-being of ordinary Americans dismissed.

The Times conspicuously quotes advocates of privileged interests over the general welfare that time and again demonize nations on the US target list for regime change.

State Department official/former US intelligence operative Lea Gabrielle was quoted, saying:

COVID-19 is “an opportunity for malign actors to exploit the information space for harmful purposes (sic).”

Beijing “used a network of government-linked social media accounts to spread discredited, and sometimes contradictory, theories (sic).” 

“China has adopted Russia’s playbook for more covert operations, mimicking Kremlin disinformation campaigns and even using and amplifying some of the same conspiracy sites (sic).”

As always when these type accusations are made, not a shred of credible evidence supports them because none exists.

Times bashing didn’t stop with Russia and China. Iran’s truth-telling was slammed for truth-telling remarks like the following by anthropologist/political analyst Dennis Etler on Press TV, saying:

What she, other Trump regime officials, and congressional members falsely attribute to Russia, China, Iran, and other US invented enemies applies to Washington under both right wings of its war party, not nations targeted for regime change.

According to the Times, China’s successful containment of COVID-19 and citing the US as its origin is “part of (its) information war,” ignoring its truth-telling.

Michel Chossudovsky’s Global Research.ca was falsely accused of “traffic(ing) in conspiracy theories, many of them pro-Russian and anti-American (sic).”

As a frequent Times basher and contributor to Global Research, the broadsheet likely slams me for the same phony reasons.

Anything diverging from the official falsified narrative is considered disinformation and conspiracy theory proliferation by the Times.

Like other establishment media, it’s a longtime mouthpiece for privileged interests at the expense of truth and full disclosure on issues mattering most.

COVID-19 is a global human health and welfare issue. 

What she, other Trump regime officials, and congressional members falsely attribute to Russia, China, Iran, and other US invented enemies applies to Washington under both right wings of its war party, not nations targeted for regime change.

According to the Times, China’s successful containment of COVID-19 and citing the US as its origin is “part of (its) information war,” ignoring its truth-telling.

Michel Chossudovsky’s Global Research.ca was falsely accused of “traffic(ing) in conspiracy theories, many of them pro-Russian and anti-American (sic).”

As a frequent Times basher and contributor to Global Research, the broadsheet likely slams me for the same phony reasons.

Anything diverging from the official falsified narrative is considered disinformation and conspiracy theory proliferation by the Times.

Like other establishment media, it’s a longtime mouthpiece for privileged interests at the expense of truth and full disclosure on issues mattering most.

COVID-19 is a global human health and welfare issue. 

For Sama – The Denial of the Real Victims of War on Syria

By Vanessa Beeley

Source

For Sama Aleppo 1e799

Oscar-nominated ‘For Sama’ is a gritty, well-produced “documentary” claiming to present the reality of the five-year siege of the Syrian city of Aleppo. Just how deceptive is this portrayal?

The 90-minute video directed by UK Channel 4’s Waad Al-Kateab and English filmmaker Edward Watts has been unanimously praised in the mainstream media and tonight it might win this year’s Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. But does the film present a truly unbiased picture of the Syrian conflict or, rather, just the side of the story that fits the Western narrative about the war?

The armed-group occupation of East Aleppo portrayed as “freedom”

East Aleppo was the armed group hinterland of the city of Aleppo for five years. During this time the shape-shifting militant cadres mingled and confronted each other in mafia-style gang warfare over territory, status, financing and control over the civilians living through their occupation. Ultimately the dominant force was Al-Qaeda or Nusra Front in Syria.

Very few journalists could safely enter this barren and desolate zone reigned over by brutal, extremist groups. Channel 4 teamed up with Syrian “revolution” sympathizer and camera-woman, Waad Al-Kateab, and her alleged “doctor” husband who goes by the pseudonym of Hamza Al Kateab (real name Zahed Katurji) to produce “citizen journalist” reportage that would effectively choreograph the events in Aleppo for an unsuspecting public in the West.

Inside Aleppo consisted of a series of video reports produced by Waad, for Channel4, that claimed to record the daily life inside the extremist group-controlled districts of East Aleppo. Channel 4 accepted and republished these reports without any apparent independent verification or investigation.

Aleppo was Channel 4’s perceived “Guernica,” their reporting was consistently one-sided and partisan towards the “moderate rebels” who, according to the British TV network, were being “disproportionately” targeted by the “dictator Assad” and the Syrian Arab Army. The reality for journalists, like myself, who spent time in Syrian-government secured West Aleppo, sheltering 1.5 million civilians including an estimated 500,000 who had fled East Aleppo when it was invaded by armed militants in 2012, was diametrically different from the narrative being marketed by Channel 4 and the majority of state-aligned media in the West. Aleppo, according to residents, was opposed to the “revolution” from day one.

Channel 4 normalizing terrorism and extremism

Channel 4’s reporting in Aleppo and Syria has almost invariably presented the child-beheading, ethnic-cleansing sectarian groups as “rebels with a cause.” In a 2016 report, ‘Aleppo: up close with the rebels’, Krishnan Guru Murthy follows none other than members of formerly US-funded Nour Al Din Zinki, responsible for the horrific public torture and decapitation of 12-year-old Palestinian child, Abdullah, in July 2016.

In the same report, Murthy appears to legitimize the armed group strategy of mass suicide bombing as an act of “defense” without mentioning that many of these suicide bombers were targeting civilian and residential areas. Channel 4 removed this report after their lack of recognition of the war crimes committed by its protagonists was exposed.

Walid@walid970721

 ·

Photo 2: Hamza with child beheader Maayouf Abu Bahr
Photo 3: Hamza again with Maayouf
Photo 4: Maayouf & Friends before they beheaded 12 yr old Abdallah Issa

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

 

 

Walid@walid970721
 

Hamza’s friend Maayouf of the Zinki US backed “rebel” group & his friends taunting the boy before they beheaded him. Maayouf says: “the Quds division ran out of men so they sent us a child”. Another says: “these are your dogs, Bashar”. (no graphic violence) See prev. tweet

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Dedicated to Waad’s daughter, the documentary can only be described as a grotesque misrepresentation of life in East Aleppo under the tyranny of sectarian armed groups. Anyone watching this movie will assume that East Aleppo was the “free country” as described by Waad, besieged and preyed upon by the Syrian government. The film literally airbrushes Nusra Front from the scenario. Groups like Nour al-Din al-Zenki are not referred to, their crimes go unmentioned.

The role of Hamza Al-Kateab affiliated with the armed groups in East Aleppo

Many journalists have pointed out the dangers of working in areas occupied by the militant factions. Waad and her husband have no apparent issues living side by side with groups renowned for their brutal violence against anyone who would challenge their rule. In fact, a number of videos and social media interactions demonstrate the close relationship that Hamza had with members of these groups – in particular with the aforementioned Nour al-Din al-Zenki.

Walid@walid970721

Photo 2: Hamza with child beheader Maayouf Abu Bahr
Photo 3: Hamza again with Maayouf
Photo 4: Maayouf & Friends before they beheaded 12 yr old Abdallah Issa

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

 
 
While corporate media and ‘For Sama’ portray Hamza as a compassionate “doctor,” we must ask how deceptive that image is. Many interactions have been deleted from Hamza’s social media accounts but are still available as screenshots. In these interactions, Hamza is involved in military strategy discussions with extremist groups. Hamza is clearly aware of the violence and abuse meted out against civilians by the occupying forces but he never condemned it to the media outlets who relied heavily upon his testimony to file their Aleppo reports.

vanessa beeley@VanessaBeeley

Not the first time .@jonsnowC4 has reproduced propaganda without any independent verification, reliant upon terrorist-linked https://21stcenturywire.com/2017/09/01/white-helmets-the-jib-al-qubeh-war-crime-in-aleppo-denied-by-channel-4/ 

WHITE HELMETS: The Jib-Al-Qubeh War Crime in Aleppo, Denied by Channel 4

Vanessa Beeley | Another White Helmet propaganda heist exposed by Syrian civilians in Aleppo.

21stcenturywire.com

Carmen Renieri@RenieriArts

Wondering what Mr. Snow has to say about this vid, showing Al-Qaeda linked Sarout holding while surrounded by armed terrorists, while daddy Hamza dances to the tunes of Sarout´s chants: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=10&v=63s1FTwvCTA&feature=emb_logo 

 
 
When the terrorists were evacuated from the last district of East Aleppo, Al Sukare, where Al Quds hospital was located, they left behind a deadly trail of mines and booby traps designed to kill civilians returning to their homes. I was, myself, witness to one of these explosions, after a booby trap left in a washing machine was detonated – murdering and injuring civilians on Christmas Eve 2016.

According to social media conversations, Hamza was aware of this heinous practice. He and Waad evacuated at the same time as the armed groups. Therefore, it can be assumed that they knew about the dangers that awaited civilians, yet they apparently did nothing to warn them.

Much of ‘For Sama’ footage is located in the Al Quds hospital which was, itself, the center of controversy in East Aleppo when Doctors without Borders (MSF) declared it “destroyed” by a Russian airstrike in May 2016. Various independent researchers and journalists exposed this narrative as misleading and unsubstantiated.

‘For Sama’ omits the reality that hospitals in East Aleppo were taken over by the armed groups, often converted into military headquarters. The vast complex of the Children and Eye hospital was transformed into a torture and detainment center for civilians who did not comply with the armed group ideology or those perceived to be Syrian government-loyalists. After the liberation of East Aleppo, civilians testified that they did not receive medical treatment in the remaining hospitals which were effectively militant triage centers. I spoke with children and teenagers whose injured limbs had been amputated by the so-called medical staff who preferred such cruel expediency over long-term treatment. Why does ‘For Sama’ not cover any of these inconvenient truths?

The children I interviewed in East Aleppo who were forced to witness public executions and crucifixions, by the extremist groups, are ignored by Channel 4 and ‘For Sama’. Journalists like Theo Padnos and Matthew Schrier, who were imprisoned and tortured by the armed groups in the Eye Hospital compound are not referred to.

The mortars fired daily into West Aleppo by the militants that Waad does not refer to were responsible for thousands of civilian deaths and the maiming of countless more who lost limbs in the rain of lethal “Hell-cannon” gas canister missiles or were sniped in the streets that bordered the Nusra Front-dominated enclaves.

The 2013 Queiq River narrative explained

The 2013 River Queiq massacre is portrayed, in the film, as a Syrian government crime, the gory scenes exploited to further criminalize the SAA. If Channel 4 had conducted any kind of investigation into this event, they might have fulfilled their duty to provide context and evidence that would have better informed their audiences in the West. Channel 4 must be considered grossly negligent in their distorted representation of the Syrian conflict.

vanessa beeley@VanessaBeeley

“For Sama” Oscar-nominated propaganda movie misrepresents 2013 Queiq River massacre – civilians & soldiers massacred by armed grps, dumped in river – blamed on Syrian govt. .@jonsnowC4 shld investigate narratives he promotes to avoid reputation as war PR agent.

Embedded video

Aleppo-based journalist, Khaled Iskef, did exactly this investigation over a period of years before Al Mayadeen channel published his findings based upon forensic DNA reports and witness testimony. ‘For Sama’ glosses over fact in favor of propaganda and denies justice for the victims of extremist violence & brutality. According to Iskef’s evidence, River Queiq was a convenient dumping ground for these armed groups to dispose of evidence, Waad and Channel 4 have apparently provided cover for the crimes they committed.

Channel 4, media architects of war

It is no surprise that Channel 4 has been instrumental in the production of ‘For Sama’. I have extensively documented the channel’s role in the behind-the-scenes management of other such revisionist projects on Syria. The White Helmets, another terrorist-linked entity operating in East Aleppo, produced an award-winning, Oscar-nominated movie, ‘Last Men in Aleppo’, which also eradicated the presence of extremist fighters and terrorist groups from the conflict landscape – reducing the narrative down to “bad Assad” and “good rebels.”

vanessa beeley@VanessaBeeley

“For Sama” omits presence of Riyadh-trained fanatic Sheikh Abdullah Muhaysini in east 2016 “blessing” suicide bombers before they are released to murder Syrian civilians & soldiers. For Sama is little more than a war crime cover-up promoted by .@jonsnowC4

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Channel 4 were among the hidden architects of this production and were also at the forefront of support for the White Helmets Nobel Peace Prize nomination while this UK/US funded group stands accused of all manner of war crimes by the Syrian people who lived under militant-group-occupation across Syria.

‘For Sama’ is an exploitative and well packaged instrument of injustice. It is an attempt by governments and media in the West to rewrite history, to erase their shameful role in maintaining a nine-year conflict, in Syria, based on lies and obfuscation of fact.

If you were to speak to the Syrian people in Aleppo who lived through the period covered by ‘For Sama’, they would tell you that this film does not represent their suffering or abuse at the hands of the armed gangs. They would tell you that ‘For Sama’ effectively defends those who tortured, imprisoned and subjected them to all manner of horror and bloodshed. They would tell you that ‘For Sama’ is just another insult from the billionaire-funded PR industry for war that has denied the real Syrian victims a voice for nine years while those who help perpetuate the crimes against them will, once again, be on Hollywood’s red carpet.

Iran keeps openly blaming itself, yet there is a Ukraine Air cover-up?

Source

Monday, 13 January 2020 3:40 PM  [ Last Update: Monday, 13 January 2020 4:16 PM ]

Iranian mourners gather around a vehicle carrying the coffin of slain top general Qasem Soleimani during the final stage of funeral processions, in his hometown Kerman on January 7, 2020. (Photo by AFP)

By Ramin Mazaheri

Many people have been quite shocked by Iran’s response to the tragic, mistaken downing of a Ukraine International Airlines flight.

Iran’s President Rouhani said, “I will never apologize for Iran – I don’t care what the facts are.” Tehran plans to never apologize, admit wrongdoing nor to accept responsibility.

All of the Iranian soldiers involved were awarded Combat Action Ribbons, the air-warfare coordinator received a Commendation Medal and the commanding officer was awarded the Legion of Merit for “exceptionally meritorious conduct.”

No one in the Iranian armed forces will ever be punished.

Many believe Iran shot down the plane purposely in order to instigate war.

No intention to cover up cause of Ukrainian plane crash: Shamkhani
The secretary of Iran

Obviously, all four of these paragraphs are totally false… but only when applied to Iran and not the US. The shocking belligerence, shamelessness and inhumanity I just recounted was the very real response from Washington after they shot down civilian Iran Air Flight 655 in 1988, killing 290 people. Anyone who has been following the recent tragic events is aware that Iran’s official response has been the complete opposite of how Washington handled a very similar tragedy.

But firstly: I find it incredible that some accuse Iran of a cover-up?

While, of course, the Western Mainstream Media will commit any lying exaggeration to further their billionaire masters’ instructions to topple Iran’s popular revolution, I lay the blame primarily at the unreasonable demands modern society puts on government servants via the 24/7 news cycle.

Iran admitted it was their missile which felled the airplane just three days afterwards, and – crucially – in conjunction with prepared apologies, self-recriminations and promises of punishing the negligent and/or fatally erroneous.

Iran’s reaction to Trump’s tweet: Don’t dishonor our language Iran has called President Donald Trump

However, three days was too long for some. I really wonder at the naiveté of such, often well-meaning, people.

Is no delay acceptable? No verifications needed at all?

In such a situation doesn’t everyone know there is a protocol to be followed? We are talking about the armed forces – does not everyone understand (as every nation has an army) that they have a chain of command, rules and a bureaucratic hierarchy which must be followed? The more important something is – especially for a horrific admission such as this – the longer the verification process necessarily takes. If the soldier who had pressed the “fire” button had rushed out of the base and declared to all who would listen, “It was my fault!”, he would be treated as a dangerous madman in any nation. However, it is as if some people expected this type of an instantaneous confirmation in the Ukraine Airlines tragedy?

I suggest such impatience – from those who want to get it “now” instead of getting it “right” – has been fostered by a 24/7 news cycle which does not want to hear about the need for interviewing those involved, testing and calibrating equipment, reviewing all the data, etc. Three days… well, I just find it hard to believe that anyone would find that unacceptable? Some people – due to their quite understandable grief over this tragedy – are being unreasonable, but many Western media and politicians do not have such sincere motivations for such a complaint.

A verification process like I have described would have been an acceptable delay – at least to me – under normal circumstances. Here, of course, the Western Mainstream Media is doing all they can to sweep under the rug the fact that Iran was in a state of high military alert provoked entirely by the recent assassination of Iran’s top general, a top Iraqi general and retaliatory missile strikes which had been fired by Iran just hours before the plane’s downing.

Iran’s retaliation for the appalling assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani was nowhere near as severe as US aggression merited. Washington tapped CNN to produce a propaganda report entirely designed to give the impression that the missile attack was not significant, but the point was not proportional revenge: the Leader of the Iranian Islamic Revolution Seyyed Ali Khamenei said it was merely to give a “slap in the face”. Therefore, nobody can say that Iran overreacted. However, the assassination proves to many in Iran that Washington is hell-bent on fomenting war with Iran. “High alert” is no exaggeration of the tensions at the time of the take-off of the Ukrainian airliner.

US troops knew Al-Asad air base would be attacked and sheltered in bunkers, exclusive tour reveals United States troops at the Al-Asad air base in Iraq were aware that an Iranian attack was imminent, allowing them to take shelter two-and-a-half-hours before missiles struck on Wednesday, CNN has been told during an exclusive tour of the devastated site.

Therefore, it is incredible that Iran is somehow being portrayed as being wholly responsible for the tragedy of the Ukraine plane downing? The bulk of the condemnation for the tragedy must obviously be aimed at Washington for creating this atmosphere which produced the tragedy, if anyone truly cares about justice.

Unfortunately, I am reminded of the old saying: “Everybody talks about peace, nobody talks about justice.” The incident is being used as the latest plank in the 40-year Iranophobia campaign, sadly.

Is the alleged ‘cover-up’ occurring in between the public lamentations and self-criticisms?

Soleimani’s assassination may trigger end of US military presence in Iraq: Paper General Soleimani’s assassination may trigger the ultimate objective of ending the US military presence in Iraq, a British paper says.

 The Ukrainian airliner downing shattered the peace of many families, but what we can say with total certainty today is that nobody in Iran wanted the destruction of a civilian airliner.

It was US President George Bush who famously refused to apologize, not Rouhani, but there are too many obviously sincere apologies from every level of Iran’s government. What cover-up? The commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards testified to Parliament, “I swear to almighty God that I wished I were in that plane and had crashed with them….” Two days earlier the chief aerospace commander told a press conference, “I wish I was dead and such an incident hadn’t happened….”

Where is the defiance, deflection and distraction of this alleged “cover-up”?

Trump warns US has 52 Iranian targets to hit if Iran launches attacks Trump posts tweets warning that US would respond to Iranian retaliation for general’s assassination.

There is obviously – at all levels of the Iranian government and military – sadness, regret and complete acceptance of responsibility. I feel sorry for those Iranian soldiers involved because they express such feelings of culpability – if you feel sorry for George Bush, or the soldiers he decorated, I don’t know what basis you have for such feelings because they were never uttered?

The 1988 IranAir flight was downed in the final month of the Iran-Iraq War. The US shot down the Iranian plane as an expression of their frustration that their proxy war with their ally-dictator-mass murderer Saddam Hussein had failed. It was a message that Washington would still act with murderous impunity, and that their war was not finished – they have stayed true to this murderous posture all these decades hence. Compare that with the situation in 2020.

Despite the illegal, inhuman slaying of Soleimani Iran is not about to be baited into war, which was Washington’s true intention. Tehran is not going to put all of Iran – and the region – at risk over the decision of an idiot/assassin, who is trying to distract from his impeachment trial (as well as from the indictment trial of his ally in Tel Aviv) and who may be back on reality television in 11 months.

Zarif: Iran missile strikes legitimate self-defense against US terrorism Foreign Minister Zarif says Iran’s retaliatory missile attack on American bases in Iraq was an act of “legitimate self-defense” against “legitimate targets” in response to US terrorist act.

The Ukraine Airlines flight was – unlike for Washington in 1988 – undoubtedly not a provocation, nor an incitement to continued conflict, assassination and war.

This is the reality which the West cannot see, as they are blinded by Islamophobia and Iranophobia: the Iranian government showed the humane response which one would expect of a truly progressive government, which they are. They did not respond with belligerence, defiance and a Washington-style cover-up. But the Iranian government gets no credit in the West ever – it’s their editorial policy.

Frankly, while this is obviously a tragedy, I want more information as to how it happened: I find it extremely coincidental that the plane came from Ukraine, which has undoubtedly been the site of (yet another) far-right coup/civil war supported by Washington. I am not disparaging all Ukraine, of course, but it’s fair to assume that the Pentagon has unlimited access to Ukrainian planes as well as a history of using cyber warfare and sabotage against Iran.

And we know they have already shot down civilian airliners in Iran with zero expressions of regret.

Try as they might, this tragedy cannot overshadow the Soleimani assassinations

The assassination of Soleimani and the tragedy of Ukraine Airlines must not be mixed: the former is an illegal, inhuman slaying of an anti-terror hero which must remain in the spotlight until Washington – the boasting perpetrator! – conforms with international justice; the latter is a tragedy, and Iran has made it crystal-clear that they will work openly with countries like Ukraine, France and Canada to find the root cause.

No one in Iran is pleased, openly or secretly, about the Ukraine Airlines tragedy, but the boasting murderers in Washington are no doubt glad the spotlight is now off their actions. Their assassination laid bare their aggression to Iran and their view that Iraq is a powerless US colony.

That is injustice on a grand scale, and it cannot stand.

Nasrallah says Iran missile strikes showed all US bases in West Asia within range“Look at the faces of the US leaders… Do they look like victorious faces?” Nasrallah asked.

There were protests in Iran after the Ukraine Airlines downing, and it is natural: many students were aboard the airplane, therefore many Iranian students had personal connections with the departed. This is why students led protests.

However, as is the case so often in Iran, counter-revolutionary groups stepped in to dangerously hijack the protests. That is proven by the video circulating of a “protester” dressed like Black Bloc member stomping on and pulling down a picture of Soleimani, a man who just days earlier had inspired millions to publicly attend his funeral.

The orders-of-magnitude support in Iran for the government as opposed to those who want to topple is revealed by the orders-of-magnitude larger turnout for Soleimani compared with the initially sincere, student-led grief protests. This is a simple, factual reality, but – as is the case with every protest in Iran – the Western MSM tries to pervert everything in Iran to topple the popular democratic revolution of 1979.

Of course, they are in overdrive now because they are being told to distract from the Soleimani slaying. That must not last.

Sadness in the world and Iran over the Ukraine Airlines tragedy will continue, especially for the bereaved families.

But if we are judging by responses to accidentally shooting down civilian airliners, one would think people would be clamoring for the fall of the American system and not the Iranian one?

Ayatollah Khamenei: Iran’s retaliation against US only ‘a slap’ Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has said Iran’s early morning retaliation against US assassination of Gen. Qassem Soleimani was just “a slap”.

Finally, I’d like to point out that due to Western sanctions airplane tragedies in Iran are woefully common. If the West really wants to make Iranian air travel more safe they could – as any humane person would – allow the sale of replacement parts for these machines which carry so many lives between their wings.

Another way the West could avoid such tragedies? End the hot, cold and assassinating war against Iran.

Iran has accepted responsibility for the mistake – assuming further investigations do not reveal new facts – but the West needs to accept overall responsibility for the Ukraine Airlines tragedy as they fabricated such a dangerous, anti-democratic, inhumane climate of war.

(Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the upcoming ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism.’)

(The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV.)

Promoting War, Opposing Peace, How Establishment Media Operate

By Stephen Lendman

Source

Establishment media never met a US war of aggression against a nonbelligerent/nonthreatening state they didn’t wholeheartedly cheerlead.

When the US goes to war or in their run-up, they operate as virtual Pentagon press agents — complicit in US high crimes of war and against humanity by their actions.

Since Iranians ended a generation of US-imposed fascist dictatorship in 1979, establishment media have been militantly hostile toward Tehran.

They joined the anti-Iran chorus in support of the Trump regime’s war by other means on the country, targeting its economy, harming its ordinary people most — reporting US disinformation, Big Lies and fake news about the country.

Not a shred of credible evidence suggests Iran seeks nuclear weapons, a nation at peace with its neighbors that never attacked another country preemptively, threatening none now, fostering cooperative relations worldwide.

No evidence suggests Iran had anything to do with striking key Saudi oil facilities on September 14 — what Yemeni Houthis claimed responsibility for.

The NYT is militantly hostile toward nonbelligerent Iran. In one article, it contradicted itself about the week ago attack on Saudi oil facilities, saying:

The “attack (came) from an unknown source, evidently using missiles and drones…Trump…blames Iran,” adding:

“The Iranian government ordered it because it views Trump as a weak negotiator who is afraid of war.”

More meaningless mumbo jumbo rubbish followed, including nonsense that “Iran may be betting that Trump will back down (by) escalating the situation…”

It’s hard believing editors allow the above rubbish to be published, not remotely reflecting reality.

Separately, the Times slammed Trump for not retaliating after Iran downed its spy drone last June — failing to explain it entered Iranian airspace illegally, didn’t respond to multiple demands to leave, before IRGC forces acted in self-defense, the legal right of all nations to hostile actions.

Attacking Iran earlier or any time preemptively is naked aggression under international law, ignored by the Times in its piece.

The Times: “Three months later, some of Mr. Trump’s own allies fear the failure to follow through was taken by Iran as a sign of weakness, emboldening it to attack oil facilities in Saudi Arabia this month (sic).”

Instead of stressing there’s no evidence supporting the claim, the Times also failed to ask obvious questions:

What was a US spy drone doing in Iranian airspace illegally? Why did it ignore repeated Iranian demands to leave? The incident was a hostile US action the Times and other establishment media failed to explain.

The Times quoted far-right official of the undemocratic Foundation for Defense of Democracies Reuel Gerecht, saying Trump’s “repeated failure to militarily respond to Iranian actions has been a serious mistake.”

Anything advancing peace over war warrants high praise, a notion rejected by the Times and other hawkish US media. 

Trump’s reluctance to strike Iran militarily hasn’t deterred his aggression in multiple theaters. Nor did it soften his all-out war on Tehran by other means — the same high crimes committed against Venezuelan social democracy, the real thing absent in the West.

CNN, the most distrusted name in television propaganda masquerading as news, slammed nonexistent Iranian “malign activity (not) thinning out,” claiming what doesn’t exist is “expanding.”

The Wall Street Journal falsely claimed Yemeni Houthis “warned foreign diplomats that Iran is preparing a follow-up strike to the missile and drone attack that crippled Saudi Arabia’s oil industry a week ago” —  citing unnamed sources that lied or don’t exist.

On Saturday, Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdul Salam debunked the Journal’s Big Lie. Another followed, saying:

“In recent days, (so-called) people familiar with the matter said Iran let Houthi fighters know that they wanted their support in carrying out more attacks across the region (sic).”

The London Guardian accused Trump of “dithering over Iran,” saying it “makes America look weak and foolish” — promoting war like other Western chickhawk media instead of denouncing aggression.

Anti-Iran propaganda war wages. Without establishment media support, it would fall flat.

Unexplained is why nonbelligerent Iran at peace with its neighbors would change policy.

What possible strategic aim could it achieve by becoming an aggressor, giving the US a pretext for possible war?

Iran would have much to lose and nothing to gain by attacking the Saudis or another regional country.

What’s obvious goes unreported by establishment media, falsely blaming Iran instead about what no evidence suggests it had anything to do with.

Sky News and the Western Press Have Once Again Failed Syria

By Vanessa Beeley
Source

Recent storylines from the Western press on the “Idlib” narrative, particularly the extraordinary spate of “on-the-ground” reports from Sky News reporter Alex Crawford, have failed to paint an accurate picture of the reality faced by Syrian civilians.

Brett McGurk – the U.S. government’s Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL — described Idlib as “the largest Al Qaeda safe haven since 9/11,” adding that the presence of Al Qaeda in Idlib was a “huge problem” and had been so “for some time.” Mint Press journalist Whitney Webb covered McGurk’s statements and U.S. policy in Idlib in late 2018.

McGurk’s statement seems to have been forgotten by both corporate media and “human rights” commentators alike since the Syrian Army’s military campaign to liberate areas of Idlib began in earnest a few weeks ago. In fact, there seems to be an ongoing campaign by the Western press to normalize militant groups affiliated with Al Qaeda.

On May 27, 2019 a headline in a Reuters article read “Idlib government chief urges defense against Assad attack” (emphasis added). The “head” of the Idlib “Salvation Government,” Fawaz Hilal, was calling upon Turkey to intervene on their behalf to protect them from SAA military advances.

While Reuters openly admits that the Salvation Government is heavily backed by Hayat Tahrir Al Sham (HTS)/Al Qaeda, there is minimal reference to the daily war crimes committed by armed groups against civilians in Syrian government-secured territory as a valid reason for the uptick in Syrian military operations to liberate areas of Idlib province.

The reader is ultimately left with the impression that the Salvation Government is legitimate Syrian “opposition” rather than an Al Qaeda construct established with the involvement of the notorious Abu Mohammed Al-Jolani.

Idlib Syria Media

Even the partisan Crisis Group, which tends to lean heavily in favor of the U.S. Coalition, described the Salvation Government’s clear Al Qaeda affiliations and its role in securing financing for the violent, extremist organization. A January 2019 Crisis Group report concluded:

The centrepiece of HTS’s project is the ‘Salvation Government,’ formed in November 2017 … For HTS, the Salvation Government seems to be both a political project and a money-making tool.”

Supposed to be a safe place

Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and former European director of Human Rights Watch, told the BBC:

Idlib was supposed to be a safe place. Where war should not be, so it has to end. We cannot have war take place in what is essentially a refugee camp.”

Egeland “disappeared” the estimated 120,000 terrorist fighters controlling the majority of Idlib province and pockets of northern Hama. Aleppo MP and head of the Aleppo Chamber of Commerce, Fares Shehabi, told the BBC in September 2018 that 100,000 extremist fighters were controlling Idlib, 40,000 of whom were “hard-core radicals.”

Shehabi has since told me that he believes the numbers to have increased to 120,000 extremist fighters, with up to 50,000 hard-core radicals that Shehabi says includes large numbers of foreign mercenaries, hardline soldiers from around the world. While these numbers may be on the high side, it is clear that the size of the Al Qaeda-dominated force in Idlib is alarming.

Idlib Syria Media

Considerable numbers of “hard-core” extremists were bused to Idlib after the liberation of East Aleppo, Homs, Eastern Ghouta and southern provinces of Syria from December 2016 through July/August 2018 as part of Syrian government amnesty and reconciliation deals.

By whitewashing the role of the Idlib mercenaries and extremist groups — which include Jaish Al Islam, who ruled Douma with a regime of torture, execution, slave labor and imprisonment — the Western press has acted as de facto protection racketeers for the very forces exploiting civilians as human shields in Idlib and preventing their exodus via the Russian/Syrian-established humanitarian corridors.

Embedded video

This is a familiar pattern that was seen previously during the liberation of East Aleppo and Eastern Ghouta, when extremist groups would shell or snipe fleeing civilians, often blaming the crimes on advancing SAA forces.

A narrow escape?

Sky News’ Alex Crawford first produced a story from inside Idlib, claiming her team had been “deliberately” targeted by Syrian government forces. Crawford and her team said a Syrian drone had zeroed in on them, relaying their location to the SAA.

Crawford Idlib

Syria: Sky News witnesses horrors of Syria’s last rebel outpost

Sky’s Alex Crawford says the crew was attacked with tank shells, as an activist they were travelling with was hit by shrapnel.

news.sky.com

Crawford most likely entered Idlib via the Turkish border and was being escorted by the HTS fighters on motorbikes, which were visible in a longer video published by Sky News. Under these circumstances and in the midst of an ongoing military campaign, traveling with a known extremist group through their enclave while they were actively engaged in combat with the Syrian Army would indicate that the SAA was not targeting journalists, but instead the extremists with whom they traveled.

The military drones — which Crawford alleges were used to “pinpoint” her team’s location prior to a “deliberate” attack — were never shown in the video produced by Sky News, nor is there any sound of drone activity in the video. This reporter has heard drones in action in Gaza during the 2012 Israeli offensive and their sound is very audible, particularly when they descend to attack or close-surveillance altitude.

Idlib Syria Media Sky News

Crawford and the Sky News team also don’t appear to be wearing “Press” tabards or helmets in their video report, although it is difficult to distinguish much at all in the report, save a lot of confusion and expletives from Crawford.

Idlib Syria Media Sky News

Crawford’s Sky News report carried the headline: “Syria: Sky News witnesses horrors of Syria’s last rebel outpost” (emphasis added), reducing HTS — an established terror group — to simply “rebels.”

The “civilian activist” described by Crawford  in her report is none other than Nusra Front acolyte Bilal Abdul Kareem, who is (by his own admission) on the U.S terrorist “kill list.” In a July 2018 Rolling Stone article, Kareem claimed that he was tipped off by a Turkish source that “he had been put on a list of targets at Incirlik Air base, a launching pad for American drones.

Bilal Abdul Kareem | Syria

Crawford’s working with Kareem, while wearing a “long black abaya” without any press identification in HTS-held territory, was not only a foolhardy enterprise, but a very risky endeavor in a time of war.

Sky News is not the first media outlet to collaborate with Kareem. In a July, 2017 article for Mint Press News, journalist Whitney Webb delved into Kareem’s working relationship with CNN when Kareem assisted in the making of the Clarissa Ward award winning documentary, “Undercover in Syria”.

Kareem was responsible for organising access to the extremist-held territory for the CNN team. In the article, Webb highlights the armed group members who were interviewed by journalist Max Blumenthal – who “confirmed that Kareem was a well-known member of al-Nusra and was commonly referred to as the “American mujahid.”

Was Crawford unaware of Kareem’s ties to Al Qaeda when the Sky News team chose him as their “activist” escort and fixer?

According to its report, Sky News retreated to the town of Khan Sheikhoun, another Nusra Front/HTS stronghold in Idlib. The ease of movement with which Sky News was able to traverse Idlib territory, which is amongst the most densely populated by Al Qaeda offshoots and extremist underling groups, without threat of kidnap or worse is perplexing. Journalists are regularly targeted or kidnapped by terrorist groups operating in Syria.

The last “last hospital”

When challenged on the veracity of her maiden report from Idlib, Crawford resorted to a tried and tested rallying cry for Western journalists still clamoring to paint Syria’s opposition forces as legitimate anti-government resistance – the last hospital.

Crawford expressed outrage at the alleged targeting of “hospitals” by the Syrian government and its allies. The “last hospital” narrative, previously used heavily in East Aleppo, comprised repeatedly recycled sensationalist headlines that the Syrian government and its allies were deliberately targeting the last remaining hospital in a given area during the final stages of liberation from armed groups — a narrative discredited by independent journalists reporting on the ground in Aleppo during the final stages of the military campaign to liberate East Aleppo from the grip of international terrorism.

Idlib Syria Media

I covered the “last hospital” narrative in a separate article for MintPress, where I highlight how this narrative is deployed by many in the Western press as a distraction from the reality in Syria. It was previously brought into play — as the SAA were sweeping East Aleppo and Eastern Ghouta clean of the occupying sectarian gangs — in order to effectively protect the extremist militants who had ruled these areas for more than five years, inflicting their brutal, violent ideology upon captive civilians. The narratives served to effectively delay the release from occupation for these civilians, who were desperate to escape to the safety of government-held areas.

Idlib reality succinctly described

Peter Ford, former U.K. ambassador to Syria, explained the current operations in Idlib very succinctly:

In brief, what is happening at the moment is not a full-scale assault by Syrian government forces aimed at liberating the whole of Idlib. Rather it is a limited operation, the main goal of which is to chip away at the southern fringes of what is effectively the Al Qaeda caliphate.”

The reporting from the likes of Alex Crawford and Sky News does not convey this reality nor does it reveal the existence of the Al Qaeda caliphate described by Ford. Crawford has entirely disappeared the extremist group’s aggression against the border towns and villages which has been ongoing since the establishment of the “deconfliction zones” in September 2018 and which entirely validates the Syrian military response to defend civilians against further bloodshed to halt those violations.

It must also not be forgotten that another of the Sochi agreement terms was the freeing up of the M5 highway that links Idlib to the rest of Syria and ultimately serves as the main trade route from Turkey to Syria and on into Jordan, whose trade borders with Syria have been successfully reopened after liberation of the south of Syria from the armed-group’s occupation.

Idlib Syria Media

The HTS control of significant areas of the M5 route has prevented this agreed-upon development and is another reason for the recent intensification of Syrian allied military activity in Idlib — again ignored completely by the majority of the Western press, whose selective coverage plays into the hands of these extremist groups.

Were Sky News to adhere to true journalism ethics, it would identify Turkey, a member of NATO, as the cause of the recent military confrontation that is threatening civilian lives on both sides of the Idlib/Hama border. As Peter Ford states:

The jihadis have been bolstered with arms supplied by Turkey (including tanks and deadly U.S.-made TOW anti-tank weapons) and paid for by Qatar, which also pays salaries. As long as Turkey continues to prop up the jihadis and Qatar to fund them, fighting is likely to continue, with the [Syrian] government continuing to put its faith in softening up with aerial bombing and artillery shelling rather than risk its sparse ground forces.”

Ford even offers a pragmatic solution in Idlib, never presented or even examined by the Western press:

The only way realistically to limit the fighting is for Turkey to withdraw its support for the jihadis and let them melt back into the Turkish border zone where they could affiliate with the Turkish-controlled militias there. This would still leave a problem for later but Idlib could breathe.”

A deliberate attempt to mislead

There is no nuance to the Sky News reports, no analysis of complexity, no diverging opinions or context. Therefore, in my opinion, this is not journalism; it is a deliberate intent to mislead a gullible public fed a media diet of “war on terror” fear and insecurity for years. It is information bias and cynical misdirection of narratives designed to support U.S. military adventurism in Syria and the region.

After Crawford was taken to task by educated Twitter accounts, she put out a Tweet stating:

Sometimes, just sometimes, twitter and some on it, make me want to explode with frustration at the unregulated untruths and constant misrepresentation of facts without check.”

No, Ms. Crawford, what is happening is that people who inform themselves no longer accept unregulated untruths and constant misrepresentation of facts without check from media channels whose public trust has been irreparably eroded by years of falsification and obfuscation of “facts” in relation to the U.S. Coalition war waged against Syria since 2011.

The recently published documentary, The Veto, a collaboration between Syrian journalist Rafiq Lutf and this correspondent, exposes the depth of media complicity in sustaining the Syrian conflict and the level of fabrication by CNN and other mainstream channels that have heavily influenced public opinion against the Syrian government since the early days of the campaign to topple President Bashar Al Assad from power and to destabilize the country.

The true frustration explosion is the public response to the conversion of their media into a fifth column for power and the resulting mayhem, bloodshed and misery it brings to the peoples of countries targeted for regime change or resource plundering by the U.S. and allied globalist nations — powers that have zero regard for “human rights” when it comes to achieving their aims and no qualms about usurping any government or population that stands in their way.

We live in an unprecedented age of media and state deceit and the expression of frustration is a natural reaction when we wake up to this gaslighting abuse. Crawford and other establishment journalists who have effectively served the abusers — the state mind-controllers — need to be aware that the long-time victims are finally turning against them. They have two choices: to continue serving power or finally becoming agents of the people. Which will it be?

BBC’s Business of Strategic Information Warfare

See Behind The Veil

Well, well, well.  There goes the British Broadcasting Corporation again!

BBC’s news story titled “Uncovering Pakistan’s secret human rights abuses” was published on June 2, 2019 by the Corporation’s native correspondent in Islamabad M. Ilyas Khan – a “proud Edwardian chasing stories among a resilient people in a sorry dominion”.  And subsequently raised a reasonably livid response from the Pakistan’s military.

Interestingly one keen look at the webpage carrying the story reveals how artfully the norm of providing links to related articles has been utilized to further the impact of the new endeavor.  Nothing unusual on the face of it – yet once you look at related links you cannot help realize the deliberation of design.  ‘A protest Pakistan wants to hide from the world’ (February 7, 2019), ‘The young tribesman rattling Pakistan’s Army’ (April 23, 2018), ‘Pakistan’s undeclared war’(September 10, 2004) and ‘Will Pakistan mends its…

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Robert Stuart vs the BBC: One Man’s Quest to Expose a Fake BBC Video about Syria

By Rick Sterling
Source

Robert Stuart BBC eb2f5

It’s a David vs Goliath story. A former local newspaper reporter, Robert Stuart, is taking on the British Broadcasting Corporation. Stuart believes that a sensational video story about an alleged atrocity in Syria “was largely, if not entirely, staged.”  The BBC would like it all to just go away. But like David, Stuart will not back down or let it go.  It has been proposed that the BBC could settle the issue by releasing the raw footage from the event, but they refuse to do this. Why?

The Controversial Video

The video report in controversy is ‘Saving Syria’s Children‘. Scenes from it were first broadcast as a BBC news report on August 29, 2013 and again as a BBC Panorama special in September. ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ was produced by BBC reporter Ian Pannell with Darren Conway as camera operator and director.

The news report footage was taken in a town north of Aleppo city in a region controlled by the armed opposition. It purports to show the aftermath of a Syrian aerial attack using incendiary weapons, perhaps napalm, killing and burning dozens of youth.  The video shows the youth arriving and being treated at a nearby hospital where the BBC film team was coincidentally filming two British medical volunteers from a British medical relief organization.

The video had a strong impact. The incident was on August 26. The video was shown on the BBCthree days later as the British Parliament was debating whether to support military action by the US against Syria.  As it turned out, British parliament voted against supporting military action. But the video was effective in demonizing the Syrian government. After all, what kind of government attacks school children with napalm-like bombs?

The Context

‘Saving Syria’s Children’ was produced at a critical moment in the Syrian conflict. Just days before, on August 21,  there had been an alleged sarin gas attack against an opposition held area on the outskirts of Damascus. Western media was inundated with videos showing dead Syrian children amidst accusations the Syrian government had attacked civilians, killing up to 1400.  The Syrian government was assumed to be responsible and the attack said to be a clear violation of President Obama’s “red line” against chemical weapons.

This incident had the effect of increasing pressure for Western states or NATO to attack Syria. It would be for humanitarian reasons, rationalized by the “responsibility to protect”.

The assumption that ‘the regime’ did it has been challenged. Highly regarded American journalists including the late Robert Parry and Seymour Hersh investigated and contradicted the mainstream media. They pointed to the crimes being committed by the armed opposition for political goals.  A report by two experts including a UN weapons inspector and Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity also came to the conclusion that the Syrian government was not responsible and the attack was actually by an armed opposition group with the goal of forcing NATO intervention.

Why the Controversial Video is Suspicious

After seeing skeptical comments about ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ on an online discussion board, Robert Stuart looked at the video for himself. Like others, he thought the hospital sequences looked artificial, almost like scenes from a badly acted horror movie.

But unlike others, he decided to find out. Thus began his quest to ascertain the truth. Was the video real or was it staged?  Was it authentic or contrived propaganda?

Over almost six years his research has revealed many curious elements about the video including:

* Youth in the hospital video appear to act on cue.

* There is a six hour discrepancy in reports about when the incident occurred.

* One of the supposed victims, shown writhing in pain on a stretcher, is seen earlier walking unaided into the ambulance.

* The incident happened in an area controlled by a terror group associated with ISIS.

* One of the British medics is a former UK soldier involved in simulated injury training.

* The other British medic is daughter of a prominent figure in the Syrian opposition.

* In 2016 a local rebel commander testified that the alleged attack never happened.

Support for Robert Stuart

Robert Stuart’s formal complaints to the BBC have been rebuffed. His challenges to those involved in the production have been ignored or stifled.  Yet his quest has won support from some major journalistic and political figures.

Former Guardian columnist Jonathan Cook has written several articles on the story. He says,  “Stuart’s sustained research and questioning of the BBC, and the state broadcaster’s increasing evasions, have given rise to ever greater concerns about the footage. It looks suspiciously like one scene in particular, of people with horrific burns, was staged.”

Former UK Ambassador Craig Murray has compared scenes in ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ with his own harrowing experience with burn victims. He says, “The alleged footage of burn victims in hospital following a napalm attack bears no resemblance whatsoever to how victims, doctors and relatives actually behave in these circumstances.”

Film-maker Victor Lewis-Smith has done numerous projects for the BBC. When learning about Stuart’s research he asked for some explanations and suggested they could resolve the issue by releasing the raw video footage of the events. When they refused to do this, he publicly tore up his BBC contract.

Why it Matters

The BBC has a reputation for objectivity. If BBC management was deceived by the video, along with the public, they should have a strong interest in uncovering and correcting this.  If there was an error, they should want to clarify, correct and ensure it is not repeated.

The BBC could go a long way toward resolving this issue by releasing raw footage of the scenes in ‘Saving Syria’s Children’.  Why have they refused to do this? In addition, they have actively removed youtube copies of ‘Saving Syria’s Children’. If they are proud of that production, why are they removing public copies of it?

Has the BBC produced and broadcast contrived or fake video reports in support of British government foreign policy of aggression against Syria? It is important that this question be answered to either restore public trust (if the videos are authentic) or to expose and correct misdeeds (if the videos are largely or entirely staged).

The issue at stake is not only the BBC; it is the manipulation of media to deceive the public into supporting elite-driven foreign policy. ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ is an important case study.

The Future

Robert Stuart is not quitting.  He hopes the next step will be a documentary film dramatically showing what he has discovered and further investigating important yet unexplored angles.

The highly experienced film producer Victor Lewis-Smith, who tore up his BBC contract, has stepped forward to help make this happen.

But to produce a high quality documentary including some travel takes funding. After devoting almost six years to this effort, Robert Stuart’s resources are exhausted. The project needs support from concerned members of the public.

If you support Robert Stuart’s efforts, go to this crowdfunding website.  There you can learn more and contribute to this important effort to reveal whether the BBC video ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ showed true or staged events. Was the alleged “napalm” attack real or was it staged propaganda?  The project needs a large number of small donors and a few substantial ones to meet the June 7 deadline.

As actor and producer Keith Allen says,” Please help us to reach the target so that we can discover the facts, examine the evidence, and present the truth about ‘Saving Syria’s Children’. I think it’s really important.”

Liberate Syria’s Idlib, precisely for the civilians that America fakes concern over — In Gaza

May 25, 2019, RT.com -Eva Bartlett Western media and politicians are crying for Al-Qaeda in Syria again. It doesn’t get much more absurd than this! After years of brutal occupation by terrorists from various groups and now overwhelmingly Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (aka Al-Nusra, aka Al-Qaeda in Syria), Idlib governorate will eventually, by political or military means, be liberated. […]

via Liberate Syria’s Idlib, precisely for the civilians that America fakes concern over — In Gaza

New Zealand mosque attacks: Politicians and media have blood on their hands

By Siema Iqbal

ICH

March 15, 2019 “Information Clearing House” –  We woke to news of at least 49 Muslims murdered in New Zealand by far-right fanatics.

We watched – or consciously avoided watching – in horror the live-streamed footage of Muslims being gunned down while praying. How depraved has society become when social media is used to lionise massacres?

I had to tell my children about the attack. I told them not to watch the videos or to be afraid of being who they are: Muslims.

Spreading hatred

Today, the media and politicians like American president Donald Trump and former British foreign secretary Boris Johnson, have condemned the attacks. The same media and the same politicians have helped spread hatred against Muslims and Islam. They have blood on their hands.

This terrible mass murder was committed on the other side of the world supposedly in the name of “Europe”. There are lessons for us here in Britain, just as there are across the world.

This hatred is institutional. We knew Islamophobia was endemic in the Conservative party, but we turned a blind eye. Not anymore.

Siema Iqbal@siemaiqbal

This senator is Australian.

He has blood on his hands .

Call out the bigotry and hold people responsible.

Enough is enough.

Do not dare say that Islamophobia does not exist. The media and politicians must be held to account.

If we allow fanatics to turn up outside mosques with their banners of hate, and give airtime and social media platforms to the likes of Tommy Robinson and Katie Hopkins, this is what happens.

If we continue to allow “think-tanks” to provide ammunition to parliamentarians and far-right leaders under the guise of “credible reports”, this is what happens.

Worldwide bigotry

This type of hatred is not confined to any country, but is widespread across the world.

Muslims are imprisoned in China; there are attacks on Muslims by Hindu nationalists in India; Rohingya Muslims are being ethnically cleansed in Myanmar. All of this is done in the name of tackling “extremism”, while ignoring the bigotry all around us.

Politicians might speak of their concern for the victims and families, but on a daily basis, many people are targeted by the far-right, as politicians have enabled a destructive discourse.

It’s time to admit that the UK’s Prevent strategy is not working. The “war on terror” has only fuelled hatred of Muslims in the general population, and distrust of the state among Muslim communities.

In 2013, the UK nearly suffered a similar attack against multiple mosques. Mosque security should be a major priority going forward.

Standing strong

Although Facebook was quick to remove a graphic video of the Christchurch attack, why was no action taken in response to previous posts threatening violence against Muslims?

How many more innocent people have to die before governments take a long, hard look at their role in creating this mess?

While many far-right extremists are celebrating the New Zealand attack, as a Muslim, I can promise you this: The more you attack us, the stronger and more united Muslims will become.

Today, the mosques will be packed – more than ever before – as prayers are offered for those killed. Muslims will never be afraid of bowing down to Allah, and nothing will stop us from doing so.

Siema Iqbal is a mother, a doctor and a British Muslim opinion writer based in Manchester. She is currently a partner and trainer at a North Manchester GP practice. She enjoys writing and can often be found public speaking and raising money and awareness for charities both in the UK and abroad.

This article was originally published by MEE” –

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Lies America’s News-Media Tell

By Eric Zuesse
Source

Here are America’s recent targets for regime-change (against which have been used economic sanctions, invasion, and enormous destruction) — and all of them are nations that never invaded nor threatened to invade America:

Iraq 2003, Libya 2011, Syria 2011-2018, Yemen 2015-now, Ukraine 2014, and Venezuela 2017-now.

Because all of these were and are aggressive wars by the US against nations that never invaded nor threatened to invade the US, they all ought to be subject to mega-criminal prosecutions as was done by the US, Britain, and USSR, against Germany at the Nuremberg Tribunals after World War II. That was merely victors’ ‘justice’, applied by the US, Britain and USSR, but this would instead be actual international justice, the first instance of such in all of world history. It’s desperately needed — especially now.

America’s Government and news-media were and are remarkably unanimous in saying that these invasions and coups are and were done in order to advance democracy and human rights in the given target-nation. However, what it actually brings and has brought, in each and every case, is, instead, massive bloodshed, death, poverty, destruction, and outpourings of refugees — and an increasingly dangerous world, the current world.

Is this lying, by the US and its allies, and their ‘news’-media, mere hypocrisy, or is it something even worse — far worse? In any case, only a fair and international juridical tribunal that’s controlled by no nation and by no alliance of nations can possibly deliver a credible verdict on this. And, so, such international criminal trials must be organized and carried out, or else even worse can be expected to occur. Impunity is desirable only by and for gangsters, and no land where it exists can reasonably be called “democratic.”

America’s news-media — especially the mainstream ones — not only cover-up important truths, but they routinely lie. Both the Democratic Party’s media and the Republican Party’s media report the same lies, which are the Government’s lies, on these international matters. These are lies on which there is bipartisan unity by the nation’s press (and by both political Parties), in order to deceive the public, into support for invading and occupying, or overthrowing via a coup or otherwise, some foreign government. Their target is always a government which America’s billionaires who control international corporations want to replace, and so the US regime unanimously lies against that targeted government, as being dangerous and evil, even though the given takeover-target has never invaded, nor threatened to invade, the United States — is no real national-security threat to the American people. Only on the basis of lies can that succeed. This is the main function of the press, in such countries: deceit, on those international matters.

In other words: the US Government is fascist, like the Axis powers were in World War II. This is worse than, for example, merely wasting billions of dollars on building a border-wall against Mexico in order to protect Americans, but it receives far less press-attention (perhaps because the press is so unanimous in endorsing and supporting these atrocities — and that’s yet further evidence of the American regime’s fascism). The press is owned by, and funded by ads, and donations from, America’s billionaires, the very same people who fund our politicians and who also own controlling interests in the weapons-firms such as Lockheed Martin, which can’t survive without these weapons-sales, and which therefore demand constant conquests, in order to create new markets for their wares, new “allied nations.”

So, naturally, America’s military is mainly the enforcement-arm of the billionaires who control US-based international corporations (especially the weapons-firms and the extractive firms such as mining and fuels, which corporations crave to control foreign natural resources), and those people also control America’s Government and press, and this produces the unanimity for these regime-change operations — which likewise fits the fascist model.

The US is clearly the world’s leading fascist nation, and there is no close second (and none of the nations that the US regime is trying to conquer is fascist at all). What Germany was under Hitler, the US is and has been at least since the time of US President Ronald Reagan. The US has been a dictatorship since at least 1981.

Coup or invasion (either form of aggression) is an international war-crime, but the deceit against America’s public usually succeeds, because the public trust especially the billionaire-controlled mainstream press, which is always leading these lies-for-conquest.

Furthermore, almost all of the ‘alternative news’ media are likewise owned by (and funded by ads or donations from) wealthy interests that participate in and benefit from this mass-deceit — from the stenographic ‘news’ reporting, the Government’s accusations against the particular target-nation that’s about to be (or has been) regime-changed.

For example, all of America’s ’news’-media were stenographically reporting the US Government’s many lies about ‘Saddam Hussein’s WMD’, in order to ‘justify’ America’s kicking out the UN’s weapons-inspectors and simply bombing Iraq and invading and militarily occupying, and basically destroying, that country (which had never invaded ours) in 2003. All of America’s ‘news’ media did the same, but especially all of the mainstream ones did, of both the right and the left, all the way from Fox News to the New York Times. They all were hiding the truth and lying to support an illegal invasion — an international war-crime under international law, and violation of the UN’s Charter. Did Americans stop buying those ‘news’papers and watching those ’news’ channels, and buying those ’news’ magazines, after the truth became reluctantly exposed (during 2002-2005) that those ‘WMD’ didn’t exist and no longer had existed after 1998? No, those same ‘news’-media still are successful. (They all ought to be long-since out-of-business, but such accountability doesn’t exist in the news-business. Not only does a major ‘news’-medium hide its own corruption and lying but it hides that of all other major ‘news’-media, because otherwise the entire ‘democratic’ system of control by the nation’s billionaires would simply collapse.)

America’s ‘news’-media report just as much false ‘news’ (not merely what they call “fake news,” but actually false ‘news’) today, as they did back then, because America’s ‘news’-media cover-up not only for themselves, but also for each other, since they all lie so routinely in order to ‘justify’ their Government’s aggressions, coups, military invasions, foreign mass-murders, etc., and those invasions and coups are part of the unspoken business-plan of them all, for growth or expansion of their global control.

These atrocities are all done for ‘national security’ reasons, and in order to ‘spread democracy’, and in order to ‘protect human rights around the world’ — and Americans continue to believe it, and to believe the regime, and to subscribe to those same mainstream (and hangers-on) ’news’-media. Accountability against lying doesn’t exist in a hyper-aggressive ‘democracy’, a would-be all-encompassing global empire, which America has certainly become.

Today, these ’news’-media hide that they’ve been lying when they report that Russia ‘hacked’ Hillary Clinton’s email and John Podesta’s computer. Just click onto that, right there, and you will immediately see the latest documentation that it’s all mere lies against Russia, which is the only nation that does actually possess the military wherewithal to stand up against the US regime (since it inherited the arsenal of the former Soviet Union when the Cold War ended in 1991 on their side — though that war secretly continued and still is continuing on the American side).

These fabrications could have many reasons, but perhaps the likeliest is in order to increase weapons-sales by Lockheed Martin and other US weapons-makers, all of which are 100% dependent upon their sales to the US Government and to its allied governments. (There are consequently interlocking directorates between the ‘news’-businesses and the armaments-firms, and the Wall Street banks, and the think tanks, etc.; and all of this is intensified by the revolving door between Government officials and the private sector, such as generals becoming directors of ‘defense’ firms.) But this fraud that ‘Russia hacked the election’ has been exposed before, though not with the same thoroughness as it is in that latest news-report, which comes from the “Sic Semper Tyrannus” blog. You might happen to think that it must be ‘fake news’, because it’s from a non-mainstream site? It comes from Bill Binney, who is the NSA whistleblower who was the NSA’s top signals-intelligence analyst before he quit in disgust at the Government’s lying. Of course, he had tried all the mainstream ‘news’-media as prospective outlets for this news-report, but they’re not interested in exposing the truth — because that would expose themselves to be liars. Once a major lie is told, and told repeatedly, by a major ‘news’-medium, exposing that lie would be exposing itself — and none do that.

They also hide that they’ve been lying to report that America was justified to bomb Syria on 11 April 2018, justified to do it in order to punish Syria’s Government for having perpetrated a chemical weapons attack on 7 April 2018 in the town of Douma — a chemical weapons attack that was actually fabricated by the US and its allies, and which US Government lie is still being protected (hidden from the public) by the US regime’s ’news’ media, which media, for example, fail to report that the OPCW did not find any such attack to have occurred:

“OPCW Issues Fact-Finding Mission Reports on Chemical Weapons Use Allegations in Douma, Syria in 2018 and in Al-Hamadaniya and Karm Al-Tarrab in 2016”

Friday, 06 July 2018

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — 6 July 2018 — The Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), issued an interim report on the FFM’s investigation to date regarding the allegations of chemical weapons use in Douma, Syria on 7 April 2018.

The FFM’s activities in Douma included on-site visits to collect environmental samples, interviews with witnesses, data collection. In a neighbouring country, the FFM team gathered or received biological and environmental samples, and conducted witness interviews.

OPCW designated labs conducted analysis of prioritised samples. The results show that no organophosphorous nerve agents or their degradation products were detected in the environmental samples or in the plasma samples taken from alleged casualties. Along with explosive residues, various chlorinated organic chemicals were found in samples from two sites, for which there is full chain of custody. Work by the team to establish the significance of these results is on-going. The FFM team will continue its work to draw final conclusions.

If those “final conclusions” are ever made public by OPCW, will you trust your ’news’-media to report them honestly? And, if the conclusions never are published, will you think that the US regime and its ’news’-media are war-criminals there, just as they were in Iraq, and Syria, and Yemen, and Ukraine, and so many other countries?

According to Russian Television, or “RT” — which all major ’news’-media in the US and its allied regimes say is ‘untrustworthy’ — “Real ‘obscene masquerade’: How BBC depicted staged hospital scenes as proof of Douma chemical attack”. That op-ed by the great British investigative journalist Vanessa Beeley, who specializes in Syria, isn’t published by the BBC, or by ABC, NBC, CBS, NPR, PBS, Fox, MSNBC, CNN, New York Times, Guardian, or Washington Post. It’s too honest, for that. Could this be part of the reason that they call RT ‘fake news’? If so, maybe RT should replace them, at least for international reporting.

And, before that, there was the claimed 21 August 2013 sarin gas attack in the town of Ghouta by Syria’s Government, which was actually done by the US Government’s allies who were trying to overthrow and replace Syria’s Government — it’s what’s called a “false flag attack” — one that’s designed to be blamed against the other side, in order to serve as an ‘excuse’ to invade. The American Government and its ‘news’-media keep making suckers out of the American public this way, and yet the American public continue to subscribe to them — to pay their good money, for such evil propaganda. Apparently, nobody is even embarassed. It simply keeps happening, again and again.

Another recent example is the ‘democratic revolution’ in Ukraine in February 2014, which was actually a US coup that destroyed that country.

And the latest example is the US-and-Canada-led effort to impose a fascist regime in Venezuela.

Furthermore, as one of the perceptive reader-commenters to that latest Binney article on ‘Russiagate’ noted: “Craig Murray, in a very revealing but neglected interview with Scott Horton, said: ‘I should be plain that the Podesta emails and the DNC emails of course are two separate things and you shouldn’t conclude that both have the same source. But in both cases, we’re talking of a leak not a hack, in that the person who was responsible for getting the information out had legal access to that information.’” Murray, a whistleblower and former UK Ambassador, had been personally involved in that, by transferring a thumb-drive from the DNC whistleblower to Julian Assange, and he also said there, “If you are looking to the source of all this, you have to look to Americans,” and not at all to any Russians or other foreigners.

The comprehensiveness of the deceit by the US regime is beyond what the vast majority of Americans can even imagine to be the case. It is simply beyond the comprehension of most people. And that false ‘news’-reporting then becomes basic to, and enshrined in, false but best-selling ‘history’-books, so as to deepen, yet further, the deception of the public.

On Sunday, February 24th, the “Zero Hedge” independent news-site headlined “WaPo Quietly Deletes Branson’s Venezuela Concert From Article After ‘Fake’ Attendance Figures Exposed” and reported (and documented) that the British billionaire Richard Branson’s free pop-concert on Friday February 22 at the Venezuela-Colombia border in support of Washington’s attempted coup to overthrow Venezuela’s democratically elected President had drawn less than 20,000 fans instead of what had been reported in the US regime’s Washington Post, which had reported that 200,000 attended, and that as soon as the US regime’s fraud was publicly exposed — which was done by means of a photo of the crowd which had been taken by Dan Cohen of Russia’s RT, plus careful independent calculations by the “Moon of Alabama” blogger — the US regime’s ‘news’paper retroactively removed their ‘news’-report’s crowd-size-estimate from the online version of their ‘news’-report. Of course, the ‘error’ had already been physically printed in that trashy ‘news’paper, which might (at its discretion) subsequently publish a printed correction, saying that they’d only been trying to fool their subscribers in order to assist propaganda supporting the US regime’s grab for control over Venezuela.

The problem isn’t ‘fake news’ from RT or from small online sites (such as all of the major media claim to be the case), but false ‘news’ from mainstream US (and allied) ‘news’ (propaganda) media. They’ve all got millions of victims’ blood on their hands, and they’re not even a bit ashamed of any of it — and of shifting the blame for it to the targeted nations.

PS: Max Blumenthal is an investigative journalist who formerly believed the lies from the (think tanks and other agencies of the) billionaires who finance the Democratic Party. He was the star journalist at one of the Democratic Party’s leading ‘alt-news’ propaganda-sites, AlterNet, until he lost his employment there after starting to expose the rot that he had previously been fooled into supporting. He increasingly moved away from liberalism to progressivism; and the Democratic National Committee doesn’t want any of that, except as window-dressing — and Blumenthal decided he could no longer do that. He became unemployed for a while and then established, along with another former AlterNet reporter “The GrayZone Project,” in order to continue being employed. Blumenthal recently issued a YouTube video in which he interviewed star Democratic Party Presidential aspirant Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other members of Congress “Is the US Meddling in Venezuela? Max Blumenthal Asks US Congress Members.” As you can see there, all of them are either mildly or very supportive of Trump’s coup-attempt in Venezuela. Unfortunately, Blumenthal didn’t interview Tulsi Gabbard, who might possibly be an exception to the depressing rule that corruption reigns, and who recently announced her candidacy for the US Presidency. Nor did he interview Bernie Sanders, nor Sherrod Brown, nor Elizabeth Warren, all of whom likewise are competing for the progressives’ votes in the upcoming Democratic Party Presidential primaries. As for the other Democratic contenders, they’re competing to become instead the new Hillary Clinton — the American billionaires’ favorite. Instead, with Trump, we got in the 2016 Presidentials their second choice.

On February 18th, Blumenthal and a colleague, Alexander Rubinstein, headlined at one of the few sincere and honest US-based international-news sites, “Mint Press,” “Pierre Omidyar’s Funding of Pro-Regime-Change Networks and Partnerships with CIA Cutouts”, and they exposed Omidyar, the owner of a famous ‘news’ site that’s targeted at naive progressives, “The Intercept.” Whereas Mint Press is called ‘fake news’ by America’s billionaires’ ‘news’-media, The Intercept (which isn’t nearly as honest as Mint Press is) is not. The dictatorship’s aim is to crush the truth, and (like The Intercept does) they let in just enough of truth so as to keep hidden what’s most important to them to keep hidden from the public — things such as what Blumenthal and Rubinstein are now disclosing.

Everybody except America’s 585 billionaires should be reading sites such as the ones that publish Blumenthal and Rubinstein, and other honest investigative journalists (which are banned at all of the mainstream sites). Propaganda that poses as ‘news’ has to be crushed, in order for truth itself not to be crushed. But can their exposé of Omidyar win a top national journalism award without thereby bringing down the entire rotten and corrupt superstructure of lies? And that would also bring down the enormous international crimes this superstructure has supported and continues to support, such as Iraq 2003, Libya 2011, Syria 2011-2018, Yemen 2015-now, Ukraine 2014, and Venezuela 2017-now.

If such news-reports cannot win top journalism prizes, then what hope is there, realistically, that things will ever be able to improve?

Only by removing the blinders from the public, can the public see the light and the actual truth, about the world in which they are living. That’s what is needed in order for democracy to be able to exist. What now exists is, instead, dictatorship. That’s the current reality. It includes the European Council, which is the unelected government of the EU, which clearly is a dictatorship (and this is true even if Brexit is wrong), and it also includes every other ally of the US regime. The EU was created by the US and its allies after WW II. It “always was a CIA project.” FDR was dead, and maybe whatever there had been of US democracy died along with him. The UN that exists is not the one that he had intended and so carefully planned. We’ve been living in a charade. It didn’t start in 1981. There is this, and there also is this. It’s FDR’s vision turned upside-down and inside-out. That’s the actual world of today. It’s based on lies.

The Unreported Realities of Marie Colvin’s Last Assignment

By Jeremy Salt
Source

Marie Colvin 38d62

Familiar with Muslim culture, the American journalist Marie Colvin always took off her shoes when entering a Muslim household. On February 20, 2012, she traveled from Beirut to the Syrian border, where she and photographer Paul Conroy were taken to the outskirts of Homs by minders from the Free Syrian Army. From there they were led into the Baba Amr district through a stormwater drain.

Guided into a ‘rebel’ media center Colvin took off her shoes. Two days later she and Conroy awoke to the sound of intense shelling.  They were led outside with other foreign journalists and told when to run to safety across the street.  According to media reports, Colvin was running back to retrieve her shoes after one explosion when there was a second, killing her and French photographer Remi Ochlik.

Beginning in May 2011, Homs had been infiltrated by armed groups. Towards the end of the year, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) was able to tighten its hold on the Baba Amr district. No quarter was given to captured soldiers or civilians identified as supporting the government.  In December 2011, FSA fighters stood 11 Syrians they accused of being shabiha (pro-government paramilitary fighters) against a wall and shot them dead.

The army intensified its operations but it was only after the killing of 10 soldiers at a government checkpoint on February 2, 2012, that it decided to do what was necessary to drive the ‘rebels’ out of Baba Amr. The bombardment of the district was scaled up. Colvin was killed on February 22 and 10 days later the FSA abandoned Baba Amr.

On January 31, 2019, a federal district court in Washington ruled that the Syrian government was responsible for Colvin’s death and should pay $302.5 million compensation to her family.

The plaintiffs were Marie Colvin’s sister Cathleen and a nephew and niece. The defendant, the summons served through the Czech embassy in Damascus, was the Syrian government; It did not respond and was not represented in court. The judge, Amy Berman Jackson, ruled that the plaintiffs’ brief was so comprehensive that an evidentiary hearing, in which a judge hears testimony and documentary evidence from both sides can be reviewed, was not necessary.

The plaintiffs’ evidence included a declaration by ‘Ulysses’, the pseudonym of someone claiming to be a defector from the Syrian government’s intelligence services; a statement by David Kaye, a former adviser to the US State Department and now a rapporteur with the UN; and an affidavit by Robert Ford, the former ambassador to Syria who in 2011 broke diplomatic protocol – and a Syrian government ban on diplomats leaving Damascus – by visiting the centres of street protests.  Accused of incitement by the Syrian government, he was withdrawn in October.

Ruling that the Syrian army had fired the artillery shell that had killed Colvin, Judge Jackson concluded that her death had been a ‘targeted murder.’  She did not mention that Colvin and Conroy had entered Syria illegally but she did note that the US government had designated Syria as a state sponsor of terrorism on December 29, 1979, following its support for the Iranian revolution. Given government and media hostility to Syria since that time, the outcome of the Colvin court action was never likely to be anything other than a finding for the plaintiffs.

Colvin was an experienced war correspondent. She had lost an eye while reporting the Sri Lankan civil conflict from the side of the Tamil Tigers. She had reported from East Timor, Chechnya, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, amongst other theatres of war, before going to Syria. As correspondents do, she had witnessed terrible things. The death of civilians, especially children, affected her deeply.

These accumulated experiences took a heavy personal toll. She began to drink heavily, she was having nightmares and she had been treated at a clinic for PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) before heading off to Syria. Once in Homs, her employer, the London Sunday Times, ordered her to leave but she refused. The paper later came under criticism for letting her go in the first place, given the fragile state of her mental health.

These aspects of her life were depicted in the recently released biopic, A Private War, woven around an account of her life written for Vanity Fair by Marie Brenner (‘Marie Colvin’s Private War,’ August 2012).

On the day of Colvin’s death, she was described in an online article for Vanity Fair as having ‘died as a martyr …. a martyr for truth and the standards of civilization … she died because she wanted the world to know the full extent of the barbarism practiced by President Bashar al Assad’s forces against his own people.’ (Henry Porter and Annabel Davidson, ‘Remembering War Correspondent Marie Colvin: 1957-2012,’ Vanity Fair, February 22, 2012).

Truth, of course, is the first casualty of war. The Greek dramatist Aeschylus apparently first coined the phrase, which has been repeated many times by many people over the centuries. As for civilization, it has been used to justify every war of aggression launched in the Middle East by the US and European powers for the past 200 years.

In this region, the standards of civilization, as we imagine them to be, consisting of civilized behaviour, justice, fairness, respect for human life and respect for the law, have not been upheld but violated in brutal and inhumane fashion by the very governments that repeatedly invoke them as justification for the crimes they are committing.

No doubt Marie Colvin was reporting the truth as she saw it but how much could she see of anything in the space of two days, effectively trapped in a war-scarred building under heavy bombardment by the Syrian army?

In her final despatch for the Sunday Times, she talked to women in what she called the ‘widows’ basement’ and she watched (apparently on a video feed from a clinic, contrary to the impression she gave that she was actually there) a baby dying from a shrapnel wound. Asked on CNN why she thought showing the image of the dead baby was important Colvin replied: ‘That baby will move more people to think ‘What is going on and why is no one stopping this murder in Homs that is happening every day.’

Colvin said 300 women were in the basement, a figure which, from other reports, seems to have been wildly exaggerated.  Who these women were was not clarified, but seeing that that Baba Amr was controlled by the FSA, many of the dead husbands were probably fighting men.

When Colvin said that 28,000 civilians were trapped in Baba Amr she had to be repeating what she had been told by her FSA minders.  She had no way of knowing how many civilians remained trapped in Baba Amr and the figure seems to have been a gross overestimate, aimed no doubt at further dramatizing the plight of civilians trapped in what the media was misleadingly calling the ‘siege of Homs.’

Colvin and Conroy first entered Syria on February 13. They were taken to Baba Amr on February 15. The next day Colvin was able to visit a makeshift field hospital set up in an apartment building as well as civilians sheltering in a basement storage depot but on hearing rumors of an impending army offensive and a ‘possible gas attack’ (as claimed by Judge Berman, without any such credible claim having been made at the time) they fled in the evening.  This was all Colvin was able to see for herself outside the ‘rebel’ media center during her two visits to Baba Amr.

Baba Amr constituted about 15 percent of the city and had a pre-war population of about 100,000. Most civilians in the district fled to the 80-85 percent of the city controlled by the government once the armed groups launched their assault on Baba Amr.

Colvin said Homs was being bombed by ‘a murderous dictator.’  Talking to CNN from Baba Amr she said ‘there are no military targets here. There is the FSA, heavily outnumbered and outgunned – they have only Kalashnikovs and rocket-propelled grenades. But they don’t have a base. There are more young men being killed, we see a lot of teenaged young men but they are going out just to try to get the wounded to some kind of medical treatment. It’s a complete and utter lie that they’re only going after terrorists.’

What Colvin actually saw was true. A baby did die and the women in the basement were suffering but by 2012 Syria was a land of suffering women and dead babies, killed not by the ‘murderous dictator’ but by ‘rebels’ supported with money and arms by outside governments.

It was not true, however, there were no military targets in Baba Amr. Colvin’s definition of a valid target seems to have been an actual military base. There was not one, of course, but the armed groups who had infiltrated Baba Amr and killed many Syrian soldiers and civilians in the process were no less an equally valid military target.

The FSA was certainly outgunned, as any insurgent force must be when challenging a regular army, but already early in 2012, outside governments were stepping up supplies to reduce the gap.

In March 2013, the New York Times reported that several governments, with help from the CIA, had begun airlifting weapons to the ‘rebels’ in early January 2012.  Over a year more than 160 cargo flights had taken an estimated 3500 tons of weapons to Ankara airport and other airports in Turkey and Jordan for delivery to ‘rebels’ across the border.  As the ‘rebel’ group of choice, the bulk of these weapons would have gone to the FSA, even if they eventually ended up in other hands.

Colvin’s reference to young men running into the streets to rescue the wounded and not fight is not something she could have known. In fact, young men were the backbone of all armed groups as they were of the Syrian army.

The Syrian army was not shelling ‘Homs’ but only part of a city which had been taken over by armed groups.  The government in Damascus – Syria’s legitimate government and the representative of the country’s interests at the UN – had the constitutional responsibility of driving them out.

The civilians trapped in Baba Amr were certainly at risk but what Colvin was seeing – or reporting rather than actually seeing for herself – was only a small corner of a very large picture of human suffering.  The general civilian death toll was beginning to rise sharply in 2012 as the armed groups – including the group sheltering Colvin and Conroy – launched attacks across the country.

Many of these attacks were completely indiscriminate, as for example when mortars were fired into the middle of Damascus or a rigged car was exploded outside a government ministry.

As civilians are always going to die in war, the critical question is one of responsibility.  Whatever the failings of the Syrian government, it was support by outside governments for these armed groups that brought Syria to its knees and not the attempts by the Syrian government to prevent the country from being bled to death.

The publicity given to the death of Marie Colvin has now been revived by the publicity given to the film of her life and to the court ruling against the Syrian government. The film returns Colvin and the ‘murderous dictator’ to a news cycle which had largely lost interest in Syria since the defeat of the armed groups it had been supporting as ‘rebels’ until Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of US troops.

At the same time, the publicity is an opportunity to examine Colvin’s role in the context of a media which uniformly misreported the war in Syria as it had only recently misreported the war in Libya and before that the invasion of Iraq in 2004.  The canons of responsible journalism were all junked.  There was no balance, no reporting of the Syrian government’s version of events except for nominal references to its denial of atrocities in such a way that the reader was invited to disbelieve them.

The narrative was entirely built around the claims of ‘rebels’ and activists and sources far from the scene, such as the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights.  Whatever they cared to say, no matter how wild and improbable, would be reported without any attempt being made by the media to uncover the truth.

Anything that would damage the Syrian government was regarded as fit to print, anything that would support its claims would be suppressed, or as far as possible turned against the government. Knowing this, the activists developed an industry based on lies and deceit to serve the corporate media’s needs.

This is the media environment in which Marie Colvin operated. Perhaps she had private doubts, but from what she said in her few reports from Syria she had swallowed whole the mainstream media narrative of rebels standing against a brutal dictator who was killing his own people.

All critical elements were missing from the news cycle. In March 2011, during ‘peaceful’ protests in Dara’a, the media headlined the alleged arrest and beating of children for scrawling graffiti on walls, while ignoring the evidence of arms stockpiled in a mosque and the slaughter of soldiers and police by bands of armed men.

Gunmen shooting into crowds from rooftops were part of what was clearly a well-planned revolt.  While the media insinuated that they were Syrian state agents, the far greater likelihood is that they were agents-provocateurs but nowhere in the media mainstream was there any follow-up. Only the accusation, not the proof, was important, an approach which was to characterize the media narrative.

Similarly, June 2011, the massacre of about 120 Syrian soldiers and civilians in the northern town of Jisr al Shughur was presented as a civilian response to government oppression and torture rather than what it was, a carefully planned attack on government offices by well-armed takfiri groups.   Video clips – never shown in the media mainstream – showed bodies being taken in a pickup truck to a high bridge over the Assi (Orontes) river and being pitched into the water over the railing to cries of ‘Allahu akbar.’  Later, mass graves were also uncovered.

Colvin’s role must begin with who brought her into Syria. She was not the only ‘western’ journalist funneled into Baba Amr from the Lebanese border.  A pipeline had been set up, with the online activist network Avaaz liaising with FSA ‘rebels’ to smuggle western journalists into the city.

Avaaz had also been supplying the ‘rebels’ with medical supplies, satellite modems and cell phones with cameras.  With the help of an ‘activist’ called Wael Fayez al Omar (a source for the plaintiffs in the court case against the Syrian government), it organized the transport of Colvin and her photographer, Paul Conroy, to the Syrian border.  The FSA then took over and moved them to Baba Amr, first on February 13 and again when they decided to return on February 20.

Formally established in July 2011, the FSA quickly won the support of Turkey, which provided it with a camp from which it was soon organizing attacks across the Syrian border.  Turkey also backed the FSA’s political arm, the Syrian National Council, an exile body which had no known support inside Syria, providing it with money and offices in Istanbul.  The FSA itself was never a proper army but rather a brand name for a ‘rebel’ collective involving numerous armed groups who responded to their own leaders, rather than the injunctions of the FSA leadership in Turkey.

The early actions for which the FSA claimed responsibility included the explosion inside the Syrian national security headquarters in July 2011, which killed several senior military and government personnel, including the defense minister and two of his deputies.

By this time the FSA was already launching attacks in many parts of Syria. Insofar as Homs was concerned, ‘rebel’ groups, including the FSA, penetrated the city in May, 2011, and succeeded in taking control of the Baba Amr district by the end of the year after overrunning military checkpoints.

By 2012 the FSA was operating at peak strength across Syria. It was killing soldiers, police and civilians and sabotaging oil pipelines and other infrastructure. In May, several months after the FSA had been driven from Homs, the Houla district, about 30 kms northwest of Homs and largely under the control of the FSA, was the site of the massacre of 108 men, women and children.

While the Syrian government was automatically blamed by ‘western’ governments and the corporate media, accounts pieced together later by journalists on the scene indicated that villages in the Houla region had been attacked by a joint force of about 700 takfiris, including a contingent of about 250 FSA fighters.

Their targets were Sunni Muslims who supported the government or, reportedly, had converted to Shia Islam.  The victims’ houses were hit by rocket-propelled grenades but most of the killing seems to have been done with small arms and knives.

In November, 2012, a mass grave of soldiers and civilians killed by FSA fighters was found at Ras al Ayn, just over the Turkish border.  In August, 2013, an attack was launched on Alawi villages in Latakia province by the FSA, Jabhat al Nusra, Ahrar al Sham, the Islamic State and other takfiri groups.  The FSA commander Salim Idris said the FSA had participated in the assault ‘to a great extent.’

Hundreds of those who took part in the assault were foreigners.  This was a sectarian assault aimed at cleaning the landscape of the despised Alawis. Up to 190 men, women and children were killed and hundreds more women and children kidnapped.  There are unconfirmed reports that some of the children were taken to Damascus to be used as props in the chemical weapons attack of August 21, 2013, blamed on the Syrian government but carried out by ‘rebels’ working in conjunction with foreign governments, with the aim of pushing Barack Obama across his self-declared chemical weapons ‘red line’ so that he would order an air attack on Syria.

On other occasions, the officially-sanctioned FSA ‘rebels’ cooperated with the officially-designated ‘terrorists’ in attacks on government positions.  In October, 2014, the FSA joined forces with the Islamic State, and Jabhat al Nusra in an attack on Idlib city in which 70 Syrian army soldiers, including senior officers, were beheaded.

Many other FSA atrocities can be added to these episodes.  Most of them had not happened when Marie Colvin was in Homs but FSA brutality had clearly been demonstrated in the year before she arrived.

The minders who moved Colvin and photographer Paul Conroy to Homs from the Lebanese border were not just FSA but armed members of one of its most brutal units, the Faruq Brigade.  It had captured Baba Amr and held it in a ruthless grip.

The takfiri element was already strong in the ranks of the Faruq Brigade and only strengthened after its ejection from Homs.  Interviewed by the French journalist Mani in September, 2012, members of the brigade spoke of relatives in Homs who they alleged were being butchered by Alawis and Shia.  They were determined to take their revenge. As one of them remarked, ‘It’s not about the army any more or toppling the regime. It’s a sectarian conflict now.’

Clearly unknown to Colvin and Conroy, the brigade was taking its captives to a burial ground at night and cutting their throats.  According to one of its members interviewed by a Der Spiegel reporter in March, 2012, nearly 150 men had been executed in this fashion since the previous summer.  This period covered the two occasions Colvin was in Baba Amr.

One of the Faruq Brigade commanders in Baba Amr was Khalid al Hamad, nom de guerre Abu Saqqar.  After fleeing Baba Amr, Abu Saqqar set up his own fighting force, the Omar al Faruq Brigade.

Variously described as a street vendor from Homs and a bedu with ‘a wild stare’ (Paul Wood of the BBC), Abu Saqqar was shown in a video released in May, 2013, but apparently filmed in March, calling on ‘the heroes of Baba Amr’ to slaughter the Alawis, remove their hearts and eat them.

He himself proceeded to cut open the body of a dead Syrian soldier, who he claimed had a mobile phone in his pocket showing the soldier raping a woman and her daughters.   Abu Saqqar removed various organs before lifting the heart to his mouth and appearing to bite off a piece.  Later joining Jabhat al Nusra, he was ambushed and killed in 2016 by members of a rival Takfiri group, reportedly Ahrar al Sham.

In conclusion, did Marie Colvin die as a ‘martyr to truth’ or did she die not just because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time but because she was keeping the wrong company? She was a well-known journalist for a leading British newspaper and therefore a prize catch for the ‘rebels.’  They were only going to tell her what they wanted her to believe, and feed into the corporate media news cycle.  Trapped in a bombed-out building, she would not have the opportunity to investigate the truth for herself, especially in the two days she had before she was killed.

Colvin called for intervention to save the trapped civilians of Baba Amr. ‘Why is no-one stopping the murder in Homs?’, she asked. In fact, the US and its allies had already been laying the groundwork for military intervention.

An Arab League resolution tabled at the UN Security Council on February 4 called on the Syrian army to withdraw from the towns and cities it was defending from attack by armed groups.  Russia and China supported the Syrian view that the resolution constituted a gross infringement of Syria’s sovereignty and vetoed it.  Had the resolution been passed, non-fulfilment of the conditions laid down could have opened the way to military intervention, probably an air campaign far more devastating than the seven-month assault that destroyed Libya.

Thwarted at the UN, the US and its allies then formed a collective calling itself the ‘Friends of the Syrian People.’  Their intervention in the form of support for armed groups led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and almost destroyed Syria.

The point of this article is not to denigrate Marie Colvin.  She has been described as foolhardy because of the risks she took but she was a person of great courage.  She was deeply affected by the death of civilians, especially children.  Her insistence that the media show the images of the baby killed by shrapnel was justified but it was not just the alleged victims of the ‘murderous dictator’ her readers and television viewers needed to see but the victims of the armed groups.

They were being slaughtered across the country, soldiers who were fighting for their country (not the ‘regime’) and civilians who supported their government, but as any telling of their fate or the suffering of their families would have disrupted a narrative based on the crimes of the dictator and his ‘regime’ and perhaps prompted people to ask ‘what is going on? Why is no-one stopping this murder?’, as Colvin had asked in Baba Amr, their voices had to be suppressed.

The Syrian government accused Colvin of working with terrorists.  Its own definition of the word would include not just the armed men but the ‘activists’ and ‘media centers’ that were their propaganda extensions.  It was with these people that Marie Colvin was sheltering when she was killed.

There has never been any evidence that any of the armed groups commanded anything more than miniscule support in Syria, including genuine support from civilians who lived in fear under their rule.  When the takfiris were driven out of Homs and Aleppo and the two cities were whole again, their citizens celebrated in the streets, not that corporate media consumers were likely to have seen such scenes.

Support for Bashar al Assad was strong at the start of the war and would be stronger now.  Every election held in the past few years – held fairly and under the watch of outside observers – proves the point.

The renewed attention to Marie Colvin’s death is an occasion to cast an eye over the state of the corporate media.  When Seymour Hersh cannot get published in his own country it is clear that journalism, as we knew it until it was fully corporatized, is in a parlous state.  Far from defending the right of the citizen to know, the media has been complicit in enabling governments to deceive.  Syria is only the latest in a chain of misreported wars, with the assault on Venezuela shaping up as the next one.

The corporate media had already made up its mind about Syria in 2011.  Marie Colvin did not have the time to develop her own narrative about Baba Amr and what was happening in Syria generally but no-one ever gets everything right.   Her role model, Martha Gellhorn, was good on Spain and Vietnam but terrible on the Middle East. In her article ‘The Arabs of Palestine’ (The Atlantic, October 1961) she extolled Israel and its kibbutzim, racist institutions by any measure, and put the Palestinians down in a manner that was itself bordering on racist.

In a better state of mental health and with more time to get behind the propaganda passed off as news about Syria, Marie Colvin might have seen through the deceits and exposed them.  The bleak reality, however, is that she spent her last assignment under the protection of a violent armed group which despised the personal freedom and the values she was sure to have cherished.

WHY WESTERN CLICHÉS ABOUT THE PAKISTANI ARMY ARE MISLEADING

By Brian  Cloughley
Source

No matter what happens in Afghanistan, a most important factor in the region will continue to be the army of Pakistan which has had to move large numbers of troops to the border in order to counter terrorist groups. In the event of civil war in Afghanistan, Pakistan’s security will be subject to even more threat from over its western frontier and it is therefore relevant to examine the Pakistan army, which conducts operations to counter terrorism.

On February 1 Russia announced that Moscow is “closely cooperating” with Islamabad in the fight against terrorism and that “Great contribution is being made by all the countries bordering Afghanistan, and Russia is a reliable partner of those countries in every effort to ensure the security of the borders.” But although Russia acknowledges Pakistan’s vital role in the region, most western governments and media outlets claim that much of the shambles in war-torn Afghanistan is the fault of Pakistan. Not only that, but the UK’s Economist claimed in January that “Pakistan’s army is to blame for the poverty of the country’s 208m citizens — it has fostered the paranoia and extremism that hold the country back.”

This is the army which, along with para-military forces, has had 7,057 soldiers killed in operations against paranoid extremists from January 2002 to January 27, 2019. Since the US invasion of Afghanistan and subsequent expansion of Islamic terrorist groups, Pakistan has suffered 468 suicide bombing attacks, in which 7,230 citizens were killed. Before the US offensive in 2001 there was one such attack, in 1995 by a crazy Egyptian who drove a bomb-laden lorry into the Egyptian Embassy’s gates. Last year 369 Pakistani civilians died in terrorist attacks and 165 soldiers were killed in fighting against terrorists, killing 157 of them.

The Pakistan army has mounted countless operations against terrorists, and has been able to restore peace. As the BBC reported, “For over a decade the inaccessible and mountainous tribal area of North Waziristan [on the Afghan border] was home to a swirling array of violent jihadists. The Pakistan and Afghan Taliban movements, al-Qaeda and less well-known militant outfits such as the Haqqani Network used the area to hold hostages, train militants, store weapons and deploy suicide bombers to attack targets in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Today the militants have gone. Virtually the whole of North Waziristan is in Pakistani army hands.” At the cost of hundreds of dead and wounded Pakistan army soldiers.

This is the army that The Economist alleges “promotes a doctrine of persecution and paranoia”. The journal states, without any evidence, that “it helped cast out the previous prime minister, Nawaz Sharif” but doesn’t mention that Sharif was totally corrupt. It is not surprising that Sharif resigned in 2017 after the Supreme Court disqualified him from office following revelations of his family’s corruption. As reported by Al Jazeera, “In 2016, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists leaked 11.5 million documents from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, dubbed the Panama Papers. Several documents included in the leak showed three of Sharif’s children — Hussain, Hasan and Maryam — owned at least three off-shore companies registered in the British Virgin Islands. The documents showed that these companies had engaged in deals worth $25m. Crucially, one of the documents also revealed that the companies had been involved in a $13.2m mortgage involving the London properties as collateral, the first time the Sharif family’s ownership of the apartments was proven on paper.”

The whole thing stank, and it was eventually made public that Nawaz Sharif was corrupt to the eyeballs — as everyone in Pakistan had known for decades.

The Pakistan Army cannot not be held to blame for that, any more than it can be for the majestic corruption of former President Asif Zardari (Mr Ten Percent), the husband of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. In 1998 the Pulitzer Prize winner John Burns wrote in an eight page exposé in the New York Times that “In 1995, a leading French military contractor, Dassault Aviation, agreed to pay Mr. Zardari and a Pakistani partner $200 million for a $4 billion jet fighter deal that fell apart only when Ms. Bhutto’s Government was dismissed. In another deal, a leading Swiss company hired to curb customs fraud in Pakistan paid millions of dollars between 1994 and 1996 to offshore companies controlled by Mr. Zardari and Ms. Bhutto’s widowed mother, Nusrat.”

The Bhutto government was also corrupt to the earlobes. As Burns recounted, “In the largest single payment investigators have discovered, a gold bullion dealer in the Middle East was shown to have deposited at least $10 million into an account controlled by Mr. Zardari after the Bhutto Government gave him a monopoly on gold imports that sustained Pakistan’s jewellery industry. The money was deposited into a Citibank account in the United Arab Emirate of Dubai, one of several Citibank accounts for companies owned by Mr. Zardari. Together, the documents provided an extraordinarily detailed look at high-level corruption in Pakistan, a nation so poor that perhaps 70 percent of its 130 million people are illiterate, and millions have no proper shelter, no schools, no hospitals, not even safe drinking water. During Ms. Bhutto’s five years in power, the economy became so enfeebled that she spent much of her time negotiating new foreign loans to stave off default on $62 billion in public debt.”

So it might be asked of The Economist exactly what the Pakistan army had to do with impoverishment of citizens during the regimes of Benazir Bhutto, then her husband, the crooked Asif Zardari, then the almost equally corrupt Nawaz Sharif. The country has had civilian government since 2008, and might reasonably be expected to have improved its economic situation, but in some weird way, according to The Economist, the fact that it has failed to do so must be the fault of the army, which has been trying to protect the country against the massive terrorist effort to destroy democracy and establish Islamic rule.

The Economist states that the army “at last” moved against the terrorists in 2014 “following an appalling school massacre.” As described above, it did indeed mount a massive operation in Waziristan in 2014, but to assert that this was belated action is totally misleading. The Economist ignores the fact that in May 2009, for example, “Pakistan’s army declared a ‘full-scale’ offensive against Taliban insurgents holed up in the Swat valley… The fighting was concentrated in the main town, Mingora, where the bulk of an estimated 4,000 Taliban fighters across Swat are heavily dug in. Artillery and helicopter gunships battered militant-held buildings, while the Taliban planted mines across the city in expectation of a major ground offensive.” In this army operation 228 officers and men were killed and 757 wounded. Fazlullah, the leader of the insurgent group known as the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) escaped to Afghanistan, where he was killed by a US drone strike in 2018.

It is all very well for clever commentators who have never experienced a military operation or heard a shot fired in anger to declare that Pakistan’s armed forces “commandeer resources” as if this is a crime. They have no idea of the enormous cost of logistics in anti-terrorist operations in “the inaccessible and mountainous tribal area of North Waziristan.” They have no idea of the human and financial implications of casualty evacuation in such awful terrain, or of the enormous cost of establishing forward bases and transporting ammunition and rations over hundreds of miles of rugged tracks. Yet they say they believe that “the army’s pre-eminence is precisely what lies at the heart of Pakistan’s troubles.”

Tell that to the people of Swat and North Waziristan who suffered from the atrocities of the Taliban who have now been ejected — by the army — from the regions where, for example, “decapitated bodies were found on the roadside, hung from electric poles and trees.” Now, as the BBC notes, “The army is building infrastructure to tempt people to return. As well as new roads, there are brand new schools with facilities that rival anything on offer elsewhere in Pakistan.” That might seem to most people, if not The Economist, a reasonable use of “resources”.

In preparing for even greater instability in Afghanistan and its likely spill-over to Pakistan, the army will require more resources, and it is likely these will be forthcoming, as will cooperation by at least some other nations, notably Russia whose special envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov, said in Islamabad on January 29 that Moscow “greatly appreciated Pakistan’s role as a facilitator in the Afghan peace process.” Nobody knows how that process will pan out, but it is certain there will continue to be regional instability, and that in Pakistan it will be essential that the army continues in its role as protector of democracy.

Was 9/11 Planned In Israel? New Insight That They Don’t Want You To See — Rebel Voice

The old adage when investigating a crime is to follow the money. Perhaps this also applies to 9/11? This article presents one possibility as to why 9/11 took place with the resultant loss of 2996 innocent lives.

via Was 9/11 Planned In Israel? New Insight That They Don’t Want You To See — Rebel Voice

Pentagon Big Lies About Civilian Casualties in Iraq and Syria

By Stephen Lendman
Source

Nothing Pentagon reports say about civilian and other casualties in US war theaters is credible. 

Big Lies substitute for hard truths, suppressed by Western media, complicit by supporting what demands condemnation.

Pentagon operations comprise about 95% of so-called “coalition” terror-bombings in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, Britain and France responsible for most of the rest, partnering in US high crimes.

On December 30, the Pentagon lied, claiming it’s been combating ISIS in Iraq and Syria along with its partners since 2014 – suppressing Washington’s responsibility for creating and supporting its scourge, along with al-Qaeda, its al-Nusra offshoot, and likeminded jihadists, using them as proxy forces.

The Pentagon lied saying “nearly 8 million Iraqis and Syrians (were) liberat(ed) from ISIS’s brutal rule” – perhaps from their lives, no other way.

It lied claiming “(w)e continue to employ thorough and deliberate targeting and strike processes to minimize the impact of our operations on civilian populations and infrastructure.”

Fact: The US, NATO, Israel, Turkey, the Saudis, UAE, and their partners deliberately target and massacre civilians. Israel openly considers them legitimate targets, including young children, infants, the elderly and infirm.

The US and its imperial allies wage war without mercy, flagrantly breaching international, constitutional and US statute laws.

According to Gideon Polya’s global body count on “avoidable deaths, deaths that should not have happened, excess mortality, and avoidable mortality,” US-led Western states (NATO) and its partners are responsible for “over 30 million Muslim deaths from violence or deprivation (including starvation and untreated diseases) in (their) War (OF) Terror – aka” Pentagon-led war on Muslims in the Middle East, Central Asia, North Africa and elsewhere, adding:

“Fundamentalist jihadi non-state terrorists have been a major asset of US imperialism. (E)very jihadi atrocity has been used an as excuse to support further massive violence against Muslims by the US and its anti-Arab, anti-Semitic, and Islamophobic allies.” 

“Jihadi non-state terrorists were (and continue to be) backed by the US to overthrow secular rule” in one country after another – smashing them, massacring their people, civilians comprising the vast majority of casualties.

What’s going on since US-initiated Security Council genocidal sanctions on Iraq (August 1990 – May 2003) and 1991 Gulf War followed by endless aggression still ongoing are some of history’s greatest crimes without punishment for responsible parties, Washington guilty most of all. 

Its planned, orchestrated, and implemented horrors continue with no end of them in prospect. When Soviet Russia dissolved in December 1991, Muslims became the convenient US enemy of choice – to unjustifiably justify endless wars of aggression against invented enemies.

No real ones exist, not then or now. The Pentagon’s latest civilian casualty count in Iraq and Syria alone is an affront to the millions who’ve perished from US imperial wars of aggression for over generation since begun by Bush I, continued by the Clintons, Bush II and Cheney, Obama, and now Trump.

The official Pentagon body count from Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq and Syria, pretending to be combating the scourge of ISIS the US supports is 1,139 civilians “unintentionally” killed by the US and its imperial partners – a colossal Big Lie.

The rape and destruction of Mosul, Iraq (October 2016 – July 2017) and Raqqa, Syria (June – October 2017) turning both cities to rubble, were responsible for tens of thousands of civilians massacred in each city.

Since the Gulf War and over a dozen years of genocidal sanctions on Iraq, millions of its civilians perished – 5,000 children under age-5 monthly from sanctions-caused starvation and untreated diseases.

Millions more perished in Afghanistan from over 17 years of US aggression, countless numbers more in Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and elsewhere, the body count mounting exponentially daily.

For over a generation, under five US regimes, Washington has been waging genocidal wars against Muslim countries – no end of them in prospect as far ahead as anyone dare imagine, forever wars that won’t end in our lifetime.

Operation Inherent Resolve and all other US wars of aggression are the highest of high crimes of war, against humanity and genocide, accountability not forthcoming.

George Soros Person of the Year?

By Stephen Lendman
Source

The London-based Financial Times (FT) calls itself “the world’s leading global business publication.”

Around the time of its 19th century founding, it described itself as the friend of “The Honest Financier, the Bona Fide Investor, the Respectable Broker, the Genuine Director, and the Legitimate Speculator” when its readership was largely comprised of London’s financial community.

Today its reach is global, publishing business, economic, financial and geopolitical news – polar opposite journalism the way it’s supposed to be.

It supports what demands condemnation, operating like other Western media, using journalism as advocacy for powerful interests, hostile to world peace and the public welfare.

James Petras slammed the way the FT operates, backing US-led NATO wars, endorsing illegal sanctions, supporting powerful political and monied interests.

Petras cited a “journalist who was close to the (FT’s) editors suggest(ing) it should be called the ‘Military Times’ – the voice of a declining empire.”

Annually it chooses a Person of the Year. Earlier ones included Trump, Angela Merkel, ECB president Mario Draghi, Goldman Sach CEO Lloyd (just a banker “doing God’s work,” the money god, of course) Blankfein, Obama, Bush II, Alan Greenspan, Tony Blair, Rupert Murdock, Saudi king Faisal, Margaret Thatcher, Henry Kissinger – you get the picture, a virtual rogue’s gallery of warlords, imperialists, crooks, and other scoundrels.

This year it named neoliberal globalist/international con man George “(As a market participant, I don’t need to be concerned with the consequences of my actions”) Soros. 

The award should have been for the international con man person of the year, glorifying market manipulation, grand theft, economic and political chaos, along with endless imperial wars.

Soros made billions of dollars the old-fashioned way, by all sorts of dirty tricks – including notoriously sabotaging European monetary policy by attacking the European Rate Mechanism (ERM) through a highly leveraged speculative assault on the British pound, forcing its devaluation and ERM breakup, making a billion dollars in short order on this scheme alone.

He made billions more from the 1997 East Asian currency crash, profiting from global turmoil. 

Backing Hillary in 2016, he financed anti-Trump protests, including hooligans disrupting some of his campaign events, using violence and other dirty tricks to turn voters against him – unsuccessfully as things turned out.

All the money and mischief he aimed at Trump failed to put Hillary in the White House where he wanted her, easily bought to serve his interests.

Moscow’s Prosecutor General earlier called his Open Society Institute and Open Society Institute Assistance Foundations “threat(s) to Russian national security and constitutional order.”

MoveOn.org is a Soros front group, involved with other dubious NGOs, their activities serving his interests.

In 1998, he called for a “comprehensive political and military strategy for bring down Saddam Hussein.” Five years later, Bush/Cheney’s aggression obliged him.

He supports global wars for huge profits. He takes credit for “Americaniz(ing) eastern Europe” by exploiting its wealth and people.

He believes “America should be replaced by a world government with a global currency under UN rule.”

He wants national sovereignty replaced by centralized control over money, populations, resources and markets – an undemocratic ruler-serf global society unfit to live in except for rulers and profiteers.

He once said “(w)e need a global sheriff.” Maybe he had himself in mind. He’s one of the world’s worst, profiting from the misery of others.

Naming him person of the year was another black mark on the FT and what it notoriously stands for.

Israel Is Bad for America

By Philip Giraldi
Source

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American journalism has become in its mainstream exponents a compendium of half-truths and out-and-out lies. The public, though poorly informed on most issues as a result, has generally figured out that it is being hoodwinked and trust in the Fourth Estate has plummeted over the past twenty years. The skepticism about what is being reported has enabled President Donald Trump and other politicians to evade serious questions about policy by claiming that what is being reported is little more than “fake news.”

No news is more fake than the reporting in the U.S. media that relates to the state of Israel. Former Illinois congressman Paul Findley in his seminal book They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel’s Lobby observed that nearly all the foreign press correspondents working out of Israel are Jewish while most of the editors that they report to at news desks are also Jews, guaranteeing that the articles that eventually surface in the newspapers will be carefully constructed to minimize any criticism of the Jewish state. The same goes for television news, particularly on cable news stations like CNN.

A particularly galling aspect of the sanitization of news reports regarding Israel is the underlying assumption that Israelis share American values and interests, to include freedom and democracy. This leads to the perception that Israelis are just like Americans with Israel’s enemies being America’s enemies. Given that, it is natural to believe that the United States and Israel are permanent allies and friends and that it is in the U.S. interest to do whatever is necessary to support Israel, including providing billions of dollars in aid to a country that is already wealthy as well as unlimited political cover in international bodies like the United Nations.

That bogus but nevertheless seemingly eternal bond is essentially the point from which a December 26th op-ed in The New York Times departs. The piece is by one of the Times’ resident opinion writers Bret Stephens and is entitled Donald Trump is Bad for Israel.

Stephens gets to the point rather quickly, claiming that “The president has abruptly undermined Israel’s security following a phone call with an Islamist strongman in Turkey. So much for the idea, common on the right, that this is the most pro-Israel administration ever. I write this as someone who supported Trump moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and who praised his decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal as courageous and correct. I also would have opposed the president’s decision to remove U.S. forces from Syria under nearly any circumstances. Contrary to the invidious myth that neoconservatives always put Israel first, the reasons for staying in Syria have everything to do with core U.S. interests. Among them: Keeping ISIS beaten, keeping faith with the Kurds, maintaining leverage in Syria and preventing Russia and Iran from consolidating their grip on the Levant.”

The beauty of Stephens overwrought prose is that the careful reader might realize from the git-go that the argument being promoted makes no sense. Bret has a big heart for the Kurds but the Palestinians are invisible in his piece while his knowledge of other developments in the Middle East is superficial. First of all, the phone call with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had nothing to do with “undermining Israel’s security.” It concerned the northern border of Syria, which Turkey shares, and arrangements for working with the Kurds, which is a vital interest for both Ankara and Washington. And it might be added that from a U.S. national security point of view Turkey is an essential partner for the United States in the region while Israel is not, no matter what it pretends to be.

Stephens then goes on to demonstrate what he claims to be a libel, that for him and other neocons Israel always comes first, an odd assertion given the fact that he spends 80% of his article discussing what is or isn’t good for Israel. He supports the U.S. Embassy move to Jerusalem, the end of the nuclear agreement with Iran, both of which were applauded in Israel but which are extremely damaging to American interests. He attacks the planned withdrawal from Syria because it is a “core interest” for the U.S., which is complete nonsense.

Contrary to Stephens’ no evidence assertion, Russia and Iran have neither the resources nor the desire to “consolidate[e] their grip on the Levant” while it is the United States has no right and no real interest to “maintain leverage” on Syria by invading and occupying the country. But, of course, invading and occupying are practices that Israel is good at, so Stephens’ brain fart on the issue can perhaps be attributed to confusion over whose bad policies he was defending. Stephens also demonstrate confusion over his insistence that the U.S. must “resist foreign aggressors…the Russians and Iranians in Syria in this decade,” suggesting that he is unaware that both nations are providing assistance at the request of the legitimate government in Damascus. It is the U.S. and Israel that are the aggressors in Syria.

Stephens then looks at the situation from the “Israeli standpoint,” which is presumably is easy for him to do as that is how he looks at everything given the fact that he is far more concerned about Israel’s interests than those of the United States. Indeed, all of his opinions are based on the assumption that U.S. policy should be supportive of a rightwing Israeli government, that of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who has recently been indicted for corruption and has called for an early election to subvert the process.

Bret finally comes to the point, writing that “What Israel most needs from the U.S. today is what it needed at its birth in 1948: an America committed to defending the liberal-international order against totalitarian enemies, as opposed to one that conducts a purely transactional foreign policy based on the needs of the moment or the whims of a president.”

Stephens then expands on what it means to be liberal-international: “It means we should oppose militant religious fundamentalism, whether it is Wahhabis in Riyadh or Khomeinists in Tehran or Muslim Brothers in Cairo and Ankara. It means we should advocate human rights, civil liberties, and democratic institutions, in that order.”

Bret also throws America’s two most recent presidents under the bus in his jeremiad, saying “During the eight years of the Obama presidency, I thought U.S. policy toward Israel — the hectoringthe incompetent diplomatic interventionsthe moral equivocationsthe Iran dealthe backstabbing at the U.N. — couldn’t get worse. As with so much else, Donald Trump succeeds in making his predecessors look good.” He then asks “Is any of this good for Israel?” and he answers “no.”

Bret Stephens in his complaining reveals himself to be undeniably all about Israel, but consider what he is actually saying. He claims to be against “militant religious fundamentalism,” but isn’t that what Israeli Zionism is all about, with more than a dash of racism and fanaticism thrown in for good measure? One Israeli Chief Rabbi has called black people “monkeys” while another has declared that gentiles cannot live in Israel. Right-wing religious fundamentalist parties currently are in power with Netanyahu and are policy making for the Israeli Government: Shas, Jewish Home, and United Torah Judaism. None of them could be regarded as a moderating influence on their thuggish serial financial lawbreaker Prime Minister.

And isn’t Israel’s record on human rights and civil liberties among the worst in the world? Here is the Human Rights Watch’s assessment of Israel:

“Israel maintains entrenched discriminatory systems that treat Palestinians unequally. Its 50-year occupation of the West Bank and Gaza involves systematic rights abuses, including collective punishment, routine use of excessive lethal force, and prolonged administrative detention without charge or trial for hundreds. It builds and supports illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, expropriating Palestinian land and imposing burdens on Palestinians but not on settlers, restricting their access to basic services and making it nearly impossible for them to build in much of the West Bank without risking demolition. Israel’s decade-long closure of Gaza, supported by Egypt, severely restricts the movement of people and goods, with devastating humanitarian impact.”

Israel, if one is considering the entire population under its rule, is among the most undemocratic states that chooses to call itself democratic. Much of the population living in lands that Israel claims cannot vote, they have no freedom of movement in their homeland, and they have no right of return to homes that they were forced to abandon. Israeli army snipers blithely shoot unarmed demonstrators while Netanyahu’s government kills, beats and imprisons children. And the Jewish state does not even operate very democratically even inside Israel itself, with special rights for Jewish citizens and areas and whole towns where Muslims or Christians are not allowed to buy property or reside.

It is time for American Jews like Bret Stephens to come to the realization that not everything that is good for Israel is good for the U.S. The strategic interests of the two countries, if they were openly discussed in either the media or in congress, would be seen to be often in direct conflict. Somehow in Stephens’ twisted mind the 1948 theft of Palestinian lands and the imposition of an apartheid system to control the people is in some way representative of a liberal world order.

If one were to suggest that Stephens should move to Israel since his primary loyalty clearly lies there, there would be accusations of anti-Semitism, but in a sense, it is far better to have him stick around blathering from the pulpit of The New York Times. When he writes so ineptly about how Donald Trump Is Bad for Israel the real message that comes through loud and clear is how bad Israel is for America.

 

2018 – The Year of Lying Dangerously

By David Macilwain
Source

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Amongst the many things that may be said about 2018 in the echo-chambers of Western media, you can be sure that an admission of the lies that were told will not be one of them. Yet of all the things that characterize this year of fracture and dissonance, the litany of lies told by Western leaders and media stands out – a veritable juggernaut of mendacity about almost every aspect of the political and strategic battles fought against internal and external enemies over the last year.

These lies, from casual half-truths to carefully constructed false narratives, have been mostly told to and used against Western states’ own populations, to create popular support or submission to policies and actions chosen by those wielding power. But they have also been told extensively to deceive and manipulate foreign antagonists in current conflict zones – Palestine, Yemen, Syria, Ukraine, Iraq, Afghanistan.

Most disturbingly perhaps, lies have also been told to militaries and security forces by their own government leaders and intelligence agencies, and to a degree that is only now becoming apparent. The possibility that the most recent revelations on disinformation networks in Europe and the US could crack open the West’s “bodyguard of lies” makes 2018 what we might call the “Year of Lying Dangerously”.

Perhaps it’s a little personal tunnel vision that makes me focus on two of the most notable “lies” of 2018 – the Salisbury poisoning and the “Chemical attack” on Douma in Syria. But in one way or another, both of these –intimately connected – events have been central to so much else that has happened this year.

Whether it’s the “Iranian connection” – between the Iranian nuclear deal, Iran’s support for Syria against foreign-backed terrorists, joint Saudi-US-Israeli propaganda warfare over Yemen and Hezbollah – or the “Russian connection” – conflict over oil and gas markets, pipelines to Turkey and Germany, political and military support for Syria, information warfare with the US over Trump and the UK over “Novichok” – or simply the Tweets of Trump, – the Chemical Weapon disinformation war has been central to 2018.

It’s hard for those of us not seduced by the West’s Orwellian news machine to understand just how pervasively effective its mind-bending disinformation operations have become. The individuals and organizations leading these campaigns have evidently also been seduced by their own power to mislead millions, effected with a few mouse clicks or a single video clip.

And in their absolute disdain for their audience, they may be caught out pushing too far. Such was the case with the memorable “Mannequin Challenge” performed live on set by a couple of White Helmet actors. They got away with that crass self-promotion amongst social media followers, but for their opponents and victims seeing these NATO “heroes” playing at rescue-selfies was the last straw.

In fact, this over-honest self-revelation to their supporters became the start of efforts to expose the White Helmets as a criminal enterprise of the UK and US governments, whose members we now know to have been closely involved in some of the worst atrocities carried out by the foreign-backed terrorist groups with whom they worked.

The dreadful truth about the “Oscar-nominated” White Helmets began to emerge seriously in December 2016 following the liberation of East Aleppo, when independent journalists – Pierre le Corf, Vanessa Beeley and RT’s Lizzie Phelan and Murad Gazdiev amongst others – were able to see just where these “civil defense volunteers” had been operating; cheek by jowl with the chief terrorist groups holding the east of the city under siege.

Those researches have clearly continued in the two years since, establishing more solid incriminating evidence against the group, but this effort has evidently intensified in recent months following the joint UN-Israeli rescue operation of White Helmets and terrorist leaders from the Golan Heights in July, and their effective disbanding in most areas of Syria.

The results of these researches were presented by the director of the Foundation for the Study of Democracy, Maxim Grigoriev, at a special meeting at the UN HQ in New York just before Christmas. Grigoriev presented videos of interviews he himself conducted with former White Helmets members in Aleppo and Ghouta, along with the extensive findings on the true nature of the White Helmets’ activities, as revealed by Syrian citizens from “rebel-occupied” areas.

The UN meeting, made to a collection of journalists, included personal testimony from Vanessa Beeley, as well as direct and demanding presentations from Syria’s UN rep Bashar al Jaafari, and Russian envoy Vassily Nebenzia. Independent journalist Eva Bartlett, who has also played a lead role in researching and exposing the White Helmets operation, has written already on the meeting, and particularly noting the complete failure of the Western corporate media to report it or attempt to answer the criticisms and claims made against the group.

Despite the presence of a CBS reporter, who asked a question about the threat from foreign extremists following the “US withdrawal from Syria”, media support for the White Helmets continues without a hiccup, with this horrific contribution from the Guardian’s Kareem Shaheen.

What Grigoriev presented was truly shocking, and categorical evidence that the White Helmets is a criminal organization and should be on the UN’s list of designated terrorist organizations – as stated clearly by Vassily Nebenzia. The video presentation lasts over an hour, but is really essential viewing; the atrocities carried out by the many members of the White Helmets, with the full knowledge and support of the UK and US governments, make their continued feting and lionizing by Western governments and media a crime against humanity.

Quite simply, these men are guilty of the most brutal and barbaric crimes against innocent people – women and children in particular – that we can possibly imagine. Unlike so many dreadful atrocities committed in the past – the Crusaders’ slaughter of Jerusalem’s population might spring to mind – these modern-day barbarians acted in cold blood, calculated and sadistic; even in their fake rescue operations –

A former White Helmet interviewed in Aleppo by Grigoriev describes how, in the filming of one such “rescue” following an alleged Syrian airstrike, bodies were brought from the morgue and wounded people brought from a nearby hospital just for the propaganda video. Children were also often used in these stunt-videos, as well as dummies, confirming the long-held suspicions of impartial analysts.

As has been observed before, including by myself, the treatment of children by White Helmets members in their propaganda videos actually constitutes serious child abuse or even torture – their filming of “treatment for gas exposure” in Douma hospital, or simple brutalisation – as with the use of Omran Daqneesh, turns instantly from humanitarian act to inhuman one when seen in its true light.

Omran Daqneesh, and Hassan Diab – the White Helmets’ Douma victim who went to the Hague to testify, were however reunited with their parents physically intact; they were the lucky ones. As Omar al Mustafa testified when interviewed by Maxim Grigoriev –

 “People evacuated by the White Helmets often did not come back alive. For example, a person receives a minor injury, is rescued, evacuated, and then brought back with their stomach cut open and with their internal organs missing. I heard that a little girl was injured. They took her to Turkey and brought her back in three days, dead and with no internal organs.”

Grigoriev heard similar stories from a great many people including White Helmets members, leading him to state that:

A large body of evidence allows for a clear conclusion that the White Helmets centres were a key element in the system of forced removal of human organs.

We need to just let that sink in a bit. The forced removal of human organs; from children “rescued” by our own countries’ mercenaries. And even if the likes of the Guardian and the NYT and CBS prefer to put this reality in the too hard basket, have no doubt that the White Helmets’ backup teams will be taking Russia’s evidence very seriously.

Seriously enough to consider cutting and running even? As Nebenzia says – “the sponsors share responsibility for their crimes.” And their liars’ luck might be about to run out; we can only hope!

Firestorm Over Trump’s Announcement on Syria

By Stephen Lendman
Source

On Wednesday, Trump tweeted: “We have defeated ISIS in Syria, the only reason for being there during the Trump presidency.”

“After historic victories against ISIS, it’s time to bring our great young people home!”

A same-day article discusses his announcement. Earlier ones explained that US forces came to Syria to stay – notably continuation of Pentagon aerial operations, conducted from bases in the country and elsewhere regionally.

Obama launched war on Syria for regime change. Trump escalated what he began. Washington’s involvement in the country won’t end as long as Bashar al-Assad remains in power. 

US-led operations have nothing to do with combating ISIS. Republicans and undemocratic Dems support the scourge they pretend to oppose. The same goes for NATO, Israel, the Saudis UAE, and Turkey.

US involvement in Syria and everywhere else is all about advancing its imperium regionally and globally. 

A same-day article said it’s unclear what will follow Trump’s Wednesday announcement. It’s very clear that Washington’s rage for regional and global dominance remains unchanged. 

There’s no ambiguity about it. Endless US wars of aggression and other global hostile actions speak for themselves.

Trump’s announcement on Syria ignited a firestorm against it by Republicans, Dems, and major media – cheerleaders for all US wars of aggression and others planned.

NYT editors notoriously deplore world peace, equity, and justice for all. They’re on the wrong side of major issues mattering most, notably geopolitical ones, in lockstep with US belligerence instead of responsibly denouncing it.

They called Trump’s announcement on Syria “alarming.” They lied claiming US forces in Syria are all about “defeating the Islamic State.”

They failed to explain that Washington created and supports the terrorist group, as well as others regionally, using them as proxy troops, aided by US-led terror-bombing, massacring countless tens of thousands of civilians, destroying vital infrastructure in Syria, the same thing going on in all US war theaters.

Times editors also falsely claimed US operations aim to “ensur(e) that Iranian forces leave the country” – failing to explain only military advisers, invited by Damascus, are there, no combat troops as the Times implied.

Instead of denouncing US aggression in Syria and other war theaters, Times editors called Trump’s announcement “abrupt and dangerous…detached from any broader strategic context or any public rationale.”

It “sow(s) new uncertainty about America’s commitment to the Middle East, its willingness to be a global leader and Mr. Trump’s role as commander in chief,” adding:

Trump’s announced move “not only hampers morale and undermines allied forces like the Syrian Kurds, it could also risk getting American soldiers killed or wounded for objectives their commanders had already abandoned.”

Fact: US forces in Syria are uninvited. They’re hostile invaders, flagrantly breaching international, constitutional and US statute laws. 

They’re waging aggressive war on sovereign Syria and its legitimate government, the highest of high crimes the Times and other major media never explain – the same thing ongoing in other US war theaters.

If US troops weren’t illegally deployed to wage naked aggression against other nations, no threats to their safety, welfare and lives would exist. 

By supporting US imperial wars, the Times and other major media share blame for what’s going on – accessories in naked aggression.

US Legal defines an accessory as anyone involved in the commission of criminal offenses – even when not directly involved, yet is “aware that the crime is going to be committed or has been committed.”

The Times and other major media endorse, cheerlead, and help promote US wars of aggression. They’re guilty as accessories before, during, and after the fact.

The Times: Trump’s announcement is “a gift to Vladimir Putin…who has been working hard to supplant American influence in the region, as well as to Iran, which has also expanded its regional footprint.” 

“It would certainly make it harder for (the US) to implement its policy of ratcheting up what it calls ‘maximum pressure’ on Iran.”

Russia and Iran are peacemakers, not belligerent warrior states like America, its NATO partners and Israel. US sanctions and other hostile actions against both countries are flagrantly illegal.

The Times lied about what it falsely called “Iran’s robust military presence in Syria and Jordan” – true about the US and its imperial partners, not the Islamic Republic.

Major Western media suppress what’s most important to report, the Times a notorious offender. Its reports are polar opposite what journalism the way it’s supposed to be is all about, notably on geopolitical issues.

Its editors disgracefully claimed Trump’s announcement betrays his responsibility as “commander in chief sworn to protect the nation and to honor the men and women who serve in uniform.”

First and foremost, the responsibility of all leaders is to serve all his or her people equitably, wage peace, not war, and pursue cooperative relations with all other nations.

America’s agenda is polar opposite all of the above. US media consistently endorse high crimes of war and against humanity committed by Washington at home and abroad – an agenda risking humanity-destroying nuclear war.

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Fanning the Flames of Dissent: The Ruling Class Is Having Trouble with Its Israel-Palestine Narrative

By Jason Hirthlet
Source

Hanukkah_2dc7c.jpg

Recently, the White House hosed two Hanukkah celebrations attended by the president, first lady, and vice president. One can imagine the general bonhomie as the Trumps rubbed elbows with fellow billionaire Sheldon Adelson and other luminaries of the ‘special relationship’. Trump was cheered for his provocative move of the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, something many observers call a sea change in U.S. foreign policy. Of course, almost every recent president has publicly stated that Jerusalem is Israel’s proper capital. Trump was simply the first president to actually follow through on the implications of that position.

In its coverage of the events, Trump was assailed by the Times of Israel for telling American Jews that Israel was “your country”, as if they were not American citizens. The paper noted that if Barack Obama had made such a rhetorical misstep, he would’ve been savaged by conservative media. As it was, Trump’s language was generally passed over in silence in the mainstream press. Despite that, the president and his coterie of Zionist comrades are likely becoming an ever more isolated pack of wolves on the American scene, their inflexible ideology and its brutal manifestations alienating them from popular opinion in the U.S.

The Scourge of Self-Deception

In his excellent book The Folly of Fools, evolutionary biologist Robert Trivers expounded his theory of deceit and self-deception among humans, including his concept of false historical narratives. A false historical narrative is essentially when a nation or tribe or people collectively believe a false version of their history. Trivers’ particular example? Israel. The author unpacks the country’s long-standing denial of Palestinian agency in its zealous Zionist pursuit of Greater Israel as a form of collective self-delusion. One that has had considerable influence in the United States where AIPAC wields outsized influence on Capitol Hill.

One wonders if false historical narratives are more likely to befall colonial settler nations. After all, the United States itself is beholden to any number of false historical narratives: the belief that America promotes and defends freedom around the world; the belief that it won World War Two; the lack of acknowledgement of the Native American genocide in its historical narrative; and that it has served as an impartial mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

This latter belief has been lately exploded by several excellent books, among them Rashid Khalidi’s Brokers of Deceit. Thanks in large part to such works, the rise of social media, and the militancy and visibility of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, the general tenor of debate in the United States, at least, has changed. This is deeply troubling for Tel Aviv and Washington, who have long depended on a tightly controlled, topdown narrative to manage opinion on Palestinian issues, a storyline dutifully disseminated by sycophantic corporate media. But a false narrative cannot survive or thrive amid a digital space of unbridled debate, much of it agitated unmediated wrangling with a tendency to devolve into ad hominem attacks, but also a space with plenty of powerful non-mainstream journalism bringing fresh perspectives to the topic.

Damming the Flood

Only heavy-handed censorship can hope to stem the tide of dissident voices. Left unaddressed, they will chop the legs out from beneath the mainstream fairy tale of Israeli rectitude and Arab savagery. And that is, of course, precisely what is happening in the social space.

Facebook has purged some 400 pro-Palestinian voices from its platform for violating “community standards,” an ironic phrase given that real community standards would necessarily have to be created by the community, rather than its ‘owner’, presently being advised by the neoliberal, neocon Atlantic Council. Facebook labeled the banned commentary as “hate speech”, a term unsupported by the Supreme Court but happily flung about by the Israeli lobby–alongside the stalwart ‘anti-Semitism’–in efforts to shutter dissent. Twitter, too, has fallen in line with the pro-Israel position of both the government and its mainstream media lapdogs. It has shutteredattempts to out IDF commando unit soldiers who raided Gaza last month. The censorship aligns with Israeli military censors in Tel Aviv.

CNN wasted no time firing Marc Lamont Hill after a fairly normal speech at the United Nations during its commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. Board members at Temple University, where he teaches, rumbled about punitive measures. The treatment of Hill falls in line with a long history of attacks on African-Americans who disagree with American foreign policy, from Paul Robeson during the McCarthy era to the many victims of the FBI’s COINTELPRO effort to destroy black solidarity movements. Even Andrew Young, serving as Jimmy Carter’s UN Ambassador, was forced to resign when he took the bold step of actually talking to the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). An alliance of oppressed peoples across national borders is a true existential nightmare for imperialists, explaining in part why so many African-American leftists have been swiftly and energetically besieged by establishment agencies.

A Leaky Vessel

But it may be too little too late. Holes are being ripped in the Zionist false narrative, and it is leaking hard truths like a sieve. At last, Americans are beginning to recognize the cruelty of the Israeli occupation. For years the international community has angrily brandished UN resolutions against the occupation, about the right of return, and others declaring Zionism as a form of racism. To little avail. Some sixty resolutions have been widely ignored in the west. With this occupation more than any other conflict in the geopolitical arena, it is as if international law does not exist.

John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt punctured a gaping hole in the side of stealthy Zionist influence with their landmark work The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. But the social media response to the brutal Israeli siege of Gaza in 2014 was likely the watershed moment. Progressives like Max Blumenthal assiduously documented the assault, while the glib Obama administration’s willingness to sell arms to Israel in the midst of its crushing attack struck many Americans as almost unconscionably blasé. So too the international response to the recently passed Basic Law, in which Israel is confirmed as a Jewish-ethnic state, with all mention of democracy stripped from the language. In one recent step by a major company, Airbnb recused itself from doing business in occupied territories, a move lauded by Palestinian supporters and naturally deplored by Zionists.

The perceptual gap between the views of the American populace and the Israeli citizenry appears to be widening. A recent polling result in Israel uncovered widespread racism targeting Arabs and Palestinians. Israelis were uncomfortable in large numbers to a variety of hypothetical interactions with Palestinians: if their children made friends with Palestinian children, if their neighbors were Palestinian, if people near them spoke in Arabic, and so on. Likewise, many said they’d be unlikely to rent to Palestinians and felt Israelis deserved job placement consideration over Arabs. As a comparison with a comparable European poll showed, Israeli discomfort with Arabs was more widespread than European discomfort with Jews, undermining the MSM discussion of rising anti-Semitism, a phenomenon that Foreign Policy argued was not tied to rising criticism of Israel.

A University of Maryland poll of Americans showed growing support for a one-state solution, as more observers have come to believe that rampant Israeli settlement-building in occupied territory have made a two-state solution completely unrealistic. That is, apart from some construction that posited a Palestinian state composed of tiny isolated cantons vigilantly policed by the IDF on the least arable land available (the rest having been annexed by entitled settlers).

A one-state solution is an anathema to Zionists. Israel has long harbored a fear of one day being outnumbered by Arabs in its own ‘homeland’. One hears the occasional trumpeting of a demographic ‘time bomb’ (and sometimes arguments that give lie to the concept). Israelis havecited the ‘security situation’ as an incentive to reproduce. In any event, settlements continue apace. It is instructive to note that inside Israel, there is vigorous debate on this issue: not about the validity of settlements, but the pace at which they are constructed.

Americans also increasingly support sanctions on Israel for its continued settlement activity. This undoubtedly partly owing the aforementioned thaw in commentary, particularly of the non-professional variety, but also perhaps has to do with the fact that Washington has leveled sanctions against so many perceived foes in recent years: Venezuela, Nicaragua, Russia, China, Syria, Iran, and on and on. Why, the public must wonder, is Israel left out of this seemingly indiscriminate use of economic leverage?

Zionists have mounted vigorous resistance to BDS, and have persuaded Congress to put forward the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, which would criminalize any kind of voluntary boycotting of Israel and its settlements. This last argument reflects the threadbare smear that pro-Israeli hawks like Alan Dershowtiz and other informally appointed paladins of the cause have long used to defend criticism of Israel: that any criticism of Israel or Zionism is a de facto attack on Jews and therefore anti-Semitic. This attempt to conflate Israel with all Jewry is not unlike the facile use of the “hate speech” to encompass all varieties of criticism.

The Race to Narrative Hegemony

Yet dire reports surface almost daily, as Israel clamors to bar and ban and liquidate resistance. Among the recent stories that must have Israeli PR groups a furor: the expelling of Human Rights Watch officials from the country, the shooting of unarmed protestors during the ‘Great March of Return’ border protests, remorseless extrajudicial killings, the expansion of “admissions committees” to restrict Palestinian access to housing, the rationing of electricity and medicines to desperate Gazans, the forcible exile of Bedouins from historic villages. The list is interminable.

Perhaps for these reasons rather in spite of them, some 38 percent of Americans, including 37 percent of Jewish Americans polled, think Israel has too much influence in the American political system. Democrats in particular are increasingly favorable to actually neutral policies toward Israelis and Palestinians, not least because of Obama’s chilly relationship with Tel Aviv, and Benjamin Netanyahu’s undermining of the former president’s JCPOA with Iran.

It is critical to note the yawning abyss between the corporate state and corporate media positions on Israeli-Palestinian issues and those of the American public. While the MSM continues its pro-Israel stance, the ideological ground beneath it is shifting like sand, as Americans have engaged in online debates that have in some cases broadened their perspectives and in others deepened their partisanship. It is forever ironic that efforts to suppress a particular viewpoint tend to exacerbate it. As the mainstream become ever more strident in their response to heterodox opinions, the objections only grow louder. As one might expect, the historical narrative around Israel is now freighted with heretical objections, its propositions subject to relentless dissection in the digital sphere.

It is no surprise then, that Trump’s friends at those White House Hanukkah parties have grown shrill and heavy-handed in their attempts to shout down a rising chorus of resistance to the party line. The question is, can they push Washington and America’s social media giants hard enough to foreclose the numberless avenues of dissent fast enough to salvage what’s left of a tawdry argument for apartheid.

 

Time’s Person of the Year Hypocrisy

By Stephen Lendman
Source

On Tuesday, Time magazine announced its annual Person of the Year Award, honoring what it called “Guardians…who have taken great risks in pursuit of greater truths.”

Time’s editors ignored the most highly deserving investigative, muckraking, truth-telling journalists of our time, focusing on major issues mattering most – polar opposite establishment reporting Time and other major Western media feature exclusively, suppressing what’s most important to report.

The late William Blum was excluded from consideration. His books, Empire Report, and other writings documented US high crimes throughout the post WW II period – hard truths Time and other establishment media suppress. 

Nor was WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange a candidate for person of the year. He’s a virtual prisoner inside Ecuador’s London embassy, unable to leave its confines for over six years, fearing arrest and extradition to the US for the crime of truth-telling journalism the way it’s supposed to be, taking an enormous risk “in pursuit of greater truths,” not risk enough for Time’s editors.

Two Reuters journalists were honored for running afoul of Myanmar’s despotic regime, sentenced to seven years imprisonment for allegedly revealing state secrets.

The suburban Washington-based Gazette Journal was honored for the killing of five of its staffers in a mass shooting last June. 

Former CNN bureau chief Maria Ressa was an honoree over her struggle to prevent Philippine President Duterte from shuttering her online Rappler news website.

Jamal Khashoggi was a posthumous honoree, a longtime Saudi insider/turned critic, a neocon/CIA-connected Washington Post columnist – recognized solely for the international turmoil over his murder, not for journalism the way it’s supposed to be.

In announcing this year’s award, Time’s editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal said “(a)s we looked at the choices, it became clear that the manipulation and abuse of truth is really the common thread in so many of this year’s major stories ― from Russia to Riyadh to Silicon Valley.”

War on truth-telling journalism begins at home. Time magazine, along with other major print and electronic media, are part of the problem, operating as press agents for wealth, power and privilege.

Digital democracy is largely all that remains of journalism the way it’s supposed to be. Free and open societies are threatened. State-sponsored censorship is the new normal.

Fiction substitutes for vital facts in the mainstream, news carefully filtered, dissent marginalized. Supporting powerful interests substitutes for full and accurate reporting on issues mattering most.

Wars of aggression are called liberating ones. Social justice, human and civil rights are eroding for our own good. Patriotism means going along with government lawlessness – internally and abroad.

Journalist/author AJ Liebling once said “(t)he press is free only to those who one one.” Before the age of television, he warned that “(p)eople everywhere confuse what they read in newspapers (and magazines like Time) with news.”

Establishment print and electronic media support what demands condemnation – notably endless US-led wars of aggression, neoliberal harshness, and police state laws against nonbelievers.

Trump was Time’s runner-up for this year’s Person of the Year award. Russiagate witch hunt special council Robert Mueller was third.

Person of the Year, Nobel prizes, US Presidential Medal of Freedom awards, and other establishment ones most often honor the least deserving – ignoring the most worthy in societies worldwide.

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