Video: On the Ground in Syria with Vanessa Beeley

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The Search for Truth in the Rubble of Douma

Robert Fisk

This is the story of a town called Douma, a ravaged, stinking place of smashed apartment blocks – and of an underground clinic whose images of suffering allowed three of the Western world’s most powerful nations to bomb Syria last week. There’s even a friendly doctor in a green coat who, when I track him down in the very same clinic, cheerfully tells me that the “gas” videotape which horrified the world – despite all the doubters – is perfectly genuine.


War stories, however, have a habit of growing darker. For the same 58-year old senior Syrian doctor then adds something profoundly uncomfortable: the patients, he says, were overcome not by gas but by oxygen starvation in the rubbish-filled tunnels and basements in which they lived, on a night of wind and heavy shelling that stirred up a dust storm.

As Dr Assim Rahaibani announces this extraordinary conclusion, it is worth observing that he is by his own admission not an eyewitness himself and, as he speaks good English, he refers twice to the “jihadi” gunmen of Jaish el-Islam [the Army of Islam] in Douma as “terrorists” – the regime’s word for their enemies, and a term used by many people across Syria. Am I hearing this right? Which version of events are we to believe?

By bad luck, too, the doctors who were on duty that night on 7 April were all in Damascus giving evidence to a chemical weapons enquiry, which will be attempting to provide a definitive answer to that question in the coming weeks.

France, meanwhile, has said it has “proof” chemical weapons were used, and US media have quoted sources saying urine and blood tests showed this too. The WHO has said its partners on the ground treated 500 patients “exhibiting signs and symptoms consistent with exposure to toxic chemicals”.

At the same time, inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) are currently blocked from coming here to the site of the alleged gas attack themselves, ostensibly because they lacked the correct UN permits.

Before we go any further, readers should be aware that this is not the only story in Douma. There are the many people I talked to amid the ruins of the town who said they had “never believed in” gas stories – which were usually put about, they claimed, by the armed groups. These particular “jihadis” survived under a blizzard of shellfire by living in other’s people’s homes and in vast, wide tunnels with underground roads carved through the living rock by prisoners with pick-axes on three levels beneath the town. I walked through three of them yesterday, vast corridors of living rock which still contained Russian – yes, Russian – rockets and burned-out cars.

So the story of Douma is thus not just a story of gas – or no gas, as the case may be. It’s about thousands of people who did not opt for evacuation from Douma on buses that left last week, alongside the gunmen with whom they had to live like troglodytes for months in order to survive. I walked across this town quite freely yesterday without soldier, policeman or minder to haunt my footsteps, just two Syrian friends, a camera and a notebook. I sometimes had to clamber across 20-foot-high ramparts, up and down almost sheer walls of earth. Happy to see foreigners among them, happier still that the siege is finally over, they are mostly smiling; those whose faces you can see, of course, because a surprising number of Douma’s women wear full-length black hijab.

I first drove into Douma as part of an escorted convoy of journalists. But once a boring general had announced outside a wrecked council house “I have no information” – that most helpful rubbish-dump of Arab officialdom – I just walked away. Several other reporters, mostly Syrian, did the same. Even a group of Russian journalists – all in military attire – drifted off.

It was a short walk to Dr Rahaibani. From the door of his subterranean clinic – “Point 200”, it is called, in the weird geology of this partly-underground city – is a corridor leading downhill where he showed me his lowly hospital and the few beds where a small girl was crying as nurses treated a cut above her eye.

“I was with my family in the basement of my home three hundred meters from here on the night but all the doctors know what happened. There was a lot of shelling [by government forces] and aircraft were always over Douma at night – but on this night, there was wind and huge dust clouds began to come into the basements and cellars where people lived. People began to arrive here suffering from hypoxia, oxygen loss. Then someone at the door, a “White Helmet”, shouted “Gas!”, and a panic began. People started throwing water over each other. Yes, the video was filmed here, it is genuine, but what you see are people suffering from hypoxia – not gas poisoning.”

Oddly, after chatting to more than 20 people, I couldn’t find one who showed the slightest interest in Douma’s role in bringing about the Western air attacks. Two actually told me they didn’t know about the connection.

But it was a strange world I walked into. Two men, Hussam and Nazir Abu Aishe, said they were unaware how many people had been killed in Douma, although the latter admitted he had a cousin “executed by Jaish el-Islam [the Army of Islam] for allegedly being ‘close to the regime'”. They shrugged when I asked about the 43 people said to have died in the infamous Douma attack.

The White Helmets – the medical first responders already legendary in the West but with some interesting corners to their own story – played a familiar role during the battles. They are partly funded by the Foreign Office and most of the local offices were staffed by Douma men. I found their wrecked offices not far from Dr. Rahaibani’s clinic. A gas mask had been left outside a food container with one eye-piece pierced and a pile of dirty military camouflage uniforms lay inside one room. Planted, I asked myself? I doubt it. The place was heaped with capsules, broken medical equipment and files, bedding and mattresses.

Of course we must hear their side of the story, but it will not happen here: a woman told us that every member of the White Helmets in Douma abandoned their main headquarters and chose to take the government-organized and Russian-protected buses to the province of Idlib with the armed groups when the final truce was agreed.

There were food stalls open and a patrol of Russian military policemen – a now optional extra for every Syrian ceasefire – and no-one had even bothered to storm into the forbidding prison near Martyr’s Square where victims were supposedly beheaded in the basements. The town’s complement of Syrian interior ministry civilian police – who eerily wear military clothes – are watched over by the Russians who may or may not be watched by the civilians. Again, my earnest questions about gas were met with what seemed genuine perplexity.

How could it be that Douma refugees who had reached camps in Turkey were already describing a gas attack which no-one in Douma today seemed to recall? It did occur to me, once I was walking for more than a mile through these wretched prisoner-groined tunnels, that the citizens of Douma lived so isolated from each other for so long that “news” in our sense of the word simply had no meaning to them. Syria doesn’t cut it as Jeffersonian democracy – as I cynically like to tell my Arab colleagues – and it is indeed a ruthless dictatorship, but that couldn’t cow these people, happy to see foreigners among them, from reacting with a few words of truth. So what were they telling me?

They talked about the “Islamists” under whom they had lived. They talked about how the armed groups had stolen civilian homes to avoid the Syrian government and Russian bombing. The Jaish el-Islam had burned their offices before they left, but the massive buildings inside the security zones they created had almost all been sandwiched to the ground by air strikes. A Syrian colonel I came across behind one of these buildings asked if I wanted to see how deep the tunnels were. I stopped after well over a mile when he cryptically observed that “this tunnel might reach as far as Britain”. Ah yes, Ms May, I remembered, whose air strikes had been so intimately connected to this place of tunnels and dust. And gas?

Source: The Independent, Edited by website team

فيسك: ما تعرض له السكان في دوما يوم الهجوم الكيميائي المزعوم كان نقصا حادا في الأوكسجين

أكد الكاتب الصحفي البريطاني روبرت فيسك أن حملة الأكاذيب التي أثارتها عدد من الدول الغربية بشأن هجوم كيميائي مزعوم في مدينة دوما بالغوطة الشرقية لم تجد من يدعمها في المدينة مع تأكيد طبيب من سكان المدينة نفسها أن الضحايا المزعومين للهجوم كانوا يعانون من نقص حاد في الأوكسجين نتيجة عاصفة غبارية وليس التسمم بالغاز “الكيميائي”.

وقال فيسك في مقال نشره في صحيفة الاندبندنت البريطانية تحت عنوان “البحث عن الحقيقة بين أنقاض دوما”:إنه وخلال لقاء أجراه مع طبيب يدعى عاصم رحيباني من سكان دوما كشف الأخير أن الأشخاص الذين ظهروا كمرضى في أشرطة الفيديو التي صورت الهجوم المزعوم وتم الترويج من خلالها لإصابتهم بأعراض التسمم بغاز كيميائي كانوا في حقيقة الأمر يعانون “من نقص الأوكسجين نتيجة عاصفة غبارية”.

وينقل فيسك عن الطبيب رحيباني قوله في تلك الليلة: “لقد كنت مع عائلتي في المنزل على بعد 300 متر من المشفى لكن كل الأطباء يعلمون ما جرى.. في تلك الليلة كانت هناك اشتباكات وهبت رياح قوية مصحوبة بغيوم ضخمة من الغبار بدأت تتسلل إلى الأقبية والسراديب حيث يقطن الناس وبدأ الناس يصلون إلى المشفى وهم يعانون من نقص الأوكسجين وفجأة صرخ رجل في باب المشفى وهو من (الخوذ البيضاء).. غاز.. وحصل هلع بين الناس وبدأ الناس يرشون الماء على بعضهم البعض.. نعم لقد حصل تسجيل الفيديو هنا ولكن الناس كانوا يعانون من نقص في الأوكسجين وليس من التسمم (بالغاز) “.

وتابع فيسك إنه “ينبغي على القراء أن يدركوا أن رواية الطبيب ليست الوحيدة بهذا المضمون حيث أكد الكثير من الاشخاص الذين التقيتهم في دوما أنهم لا يثقون بروايات الغاز” التي روج لها الإرهابيون.

ولفت فيسك إلى أن ما يسمى “الخوذ البيضاء” التي تتلقى الدعم والتمويل من وزارة الخارجية البريطانية كان لها دور كبير في عمليات المجموعات الإرهابية لافتا إلى أنه اطلع على مكاتب هذه المجموعة في دوما ورأى داخلها اقنعة للغاز ولباسا عسكريا إضافة إلى كبسولات ومعدات طبية مكسورة وملفات.

بدوره انضم “بيرسون شارب” مراسل قناة “ون أميركا نيوز نيتوورك” الأميركية إلى فيسك في تفنيده لرواية الهجوم الكيميائي المزعوم في دوما مؤكدا أنه لم يعثر على أي آثار لمثل هذا الهجوم وقال: إن “السكان المحليين الذين التقاهم هناك لم يروا أو يسمعوا شيئا عن هذا الحادث”.
وأشار شارب إلى أن أحد الأطباء الذي وجد في مستشفى المدينة في يوم الهجوم المزعوم أخبره أن مجموعة من الأشخاص المجهولين اقتحمت المستشفى في السابع من نيسان الماضي زاعمة وقوع هجوم كيميائي وعمد هؤلاء إلى صب الماء على أشخاص أحضروهم إلى المستشفى مصورين كل شيء بواسطة آلة التصوير ثم غادروا المستشفى.

وكانت العديد من الوثائق التي عثر عليها الجيش العربي السوري في المناطق التي حررها من الإرهاب حيث تعمل جماعة “الخوذ البيضاء” كشفت ارتباطها العضوي بالتنظيمات الإرهابية ودعمها لها وخصوصا “جبهة النصرة” بالترويج لاستخدام الأسلحة الكيميائية ضد المدنيين وهذا ما حدث في الغوطة الشرقية بريف دمشق عدة مرات وفي مناطق بحلب لاتهام الجيش العربي السوري.

بينما أكد الكاتب الأميركي كارتا لوتشي أن جماعة “الخوذ البيضاء” ليست إلا “واحدة من المسرحيات الأميركية المضللة للرأي العام وهي منظمة مشبوهة”.

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The War in Syria was a US Intervention Since “Day 1”

April 15, 2018 (Tony Cartalucci – NEO) – In the aftermath of US-led missile strikes on Syria, the Western media has attempted to continue building the case for “US intervention.”

However, before the first agitators took to the streets in Syria in 2011, the US was already involved.

The New York Times in its 2011 article, “U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings,” would admit (emphasis added):

A number of the groups and individuals directly involved in the revolts and reforms sweeping the region, including the April 6 Youth Movement in Egypt, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and grass-roots activists like Entsar Qadhi, a youth leader in Yemen, received training and financing from groups like the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House, a nonprofit human rights organization based in Washington, according to interviews in recent weeks and American diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks. 

The work of these groups often provoked tensions between the United States and many Middle Eastern leaders, who frequently complained that their leadership was being undermined, according to the cables. 

The financing of agitators from across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) before the so-called “Arab Spring” was meant to stampede targeted governments from power – paving the way for US client states to form. Nations that resisted faced – first, US-backed militants – and failing that, direct US military intervention – as seen in Libya in 2011.

After the US funded initial unrest in 2011 – the US has armed and funded militants fighting in Syria ever since.

The same NYT would publish a 2013 article titled, “Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With Aid From C.I.A.,” admitting (emphasis added):

With help from the C.I.A., Arab governments and Turkey have sharply increased their military aid to Syria’s opposition fighters in recent months, expanding a secret airlift of arms and equipment for the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, according to air traffic data, interviews with officials in several countries and the accounts of rebel commanders. 

The airlift, which began on a small scale in early 2012 and continued intermittently through last fall, expanded into a steady and much heavier flow late last year, the data shows. It has grown to include more than 160 military cargo flights by Jordanian, Saudi and Qatari military-style cargo planes landing at Esenboga Airport near Ankara, and, to a lesser degree, at other Turkish and Jordanian airports.

As the proxy war the US waged against Damascus began to fail, multiple attempts were made to justify direct US military intervention in Syria as the US and its allies did in 2011 against the Libyan government.

This includes repeated attempts to enforce the “responsibility to protect” doctrine, multiple false-flag chemical attacks beginning with the Ghouta incident in 2013 and the emergence of the so-called “Islamic State” (ISIS) which helped the US justify the deployment of ground troops now currently occupying eastern Syria.

The notion of the US currently “contemplating intervention” in Syria attempts to sidestep the fact that the Syrian conflict itself – from its inception – has been a US intervention.

Long Before “Day 1” 

Even before the most recent attempt at US-led regime change in Syria, the US has pursued campaigns of violent subversion aimed at Syria and its allies.

In 2007, veteran journalist Seymour Hersh would write in his article, “The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefitting our enemies in the war on terrorism?,” that (emphasis added):

To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.

Hersh’s words would become prophetic when, in 2011, the US would begin arming and backing militants – many with overt affiliations to Al Qaeda – in a bid to destabilize Syria and overthrow the government in Damascus.

The article would also lay out preparations that – even in 2007 – were clearly aimed at organizing  for and executing a wider conflict.

Yet, published CIA documents drawn from the US National Archives illustrate how this singular agenda seeking to overthrow the government of Syria stretches back even earlier – by decades.

A 1983 document signed by former CIA officer Graham Fuller titled, “Bringing Real Muscle to Bear Against Syria” (PDF), states (their emphasis):

Syria at present has a hammerlock on US interests both in Lebanon and in the Gulf — through closure of Iraq’s pipeline thereby threatening Iraqi internationalization of the [Iran-Iraq] war. The US should consider sharply escalating the pressures against Assad [Sr.] through covertly orchestrating simultaneous military threats against Syria from three border states hostile to Syria: Iraq, Israel and Turkey. 

The report also states:

If Israel were to increase tensions against Syria simultaneously with an Iraqi initiative, the pressures on Assad would escalate rapidly. A Turkish move would psychologically press him further. 

The document exposes both then and now, the amount of influence the US exerts across the Middle East and North Africa. It also undermines the perceived agency of states including Israel and NATO-member Turkey, revealing their subordination to US interests and that actions taken by these states are often done on behalf of Wall Street and Washington rather than on behalf of their own national interests.

Also mentioned in the document are a variety of manufactured pretexts listed to justify a unilateral military strike on northern Syria by Turkey. The  document explains:

Turkey has considered undertaking a unilateral military strike against terrorist camps in northern Syria and would not hesitate from using menacing diplomatic language against Syria on these issues.

Comparing this signed and dated 1983 US CIA document to more recent US policy papers and revelations of US funding of so-called activists prior to 2011,  reveals not only continuity of agenda – but that attempts to portray the 2011 “uprising” as spontaneous and as merely exploited by the US are disingenuous.

Breaking the Cycle 

The current stalemate in Syria is owed to Russia’s involvement in the conflict. This began in 2013 when Moscow brokered a political deal preventing US military intervention then – and again in 2015 when the Russian military – upon Damascus’ request – built up a presence within the nation. Today, it is the threat of Russian retaliation that has hemmed in US options and plunged American special interests into increasing depths of desperation.

The recent missile strikes by the US and its tentative holdings in eastern Syria reflect geopolitical atrophy amid a conflict that was initially aimed at quickly stampeding the Syrian government from power back in 2011.

Washington’s inability to achieve its objectives leave it in an increasingly desperate position – attempting to reassert itself in the region or face the irreversible decline of its so-called “international order.” However, a desperate hegemon in decline is still dangerous.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook”.

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صراخ إسرائيل: احموني أو أمسكوني!

 الثلاثاء 10 نيسان 2018

ابراهيم الأمين

تكفي مراجعة خارطة الجمهورية العربية السورية وتوزّع مناطق السيطرة والنفوذ على مختلف مناطقها، حتى يتيقّن المراقب بأن استعادة دمشق سيطرتها على أراضيها تقدمت بطريقة مذهلة خلال العامين الماضيين. في هذه الحال، يمكن فهم حال الذعر التي تسود القوى والدول المعادية لسوريا وحلفائها. إذ يمكن، خلال أسابيع قليلة، الحديث عن وجهة تقود إلى عنوان واحد: فشل مشروع السيطرة الأميركية ــــ الأوروبية ــــ الإسرائيلية ــــ الخليجية على سوريا، مقابل تعاظم نفوذ الدولة السورية، وإلى جانبها حليفاها المركزيان: إيران وحزب الله. فكيف في ظل استدارة روسية كبيرة تمثلت في توفير موسكو أضخم مظلة عسكرية للمعركة المفتوحة في وجه الارهاب؟

منذ أواخر الصيف الماضي تنشغل إسرائيل، مع الولايات المتحدة وعواصم أوروبية وخليجية، في كيفية احتواء الهجوم المضاد الذي تشنّه دمشق وحلفاؤها. الهاجس المركزي لم يعد في دعم المجموعات المسلحة، بل في جعل الساحة السورية غير قابلة للحياة، لا للدولة ولا للناس ولا للآخرين. ما يهم إسرائيل، هنا، يفوق بكثير ما يهم العواصم الأخرى. ذلك أن ما يسمى بالأمن القومي بات في دائرة الخطر الحقيقي، وبالتالي انتقلت تل أبيب إلى مرحلة البحث عن آليات عملانية تضمن أمنها، سواء من خلال التوجه إلى روسيا أو من خلال حثّ العواصم العربية المعادية لدمشق على إطالة أمد الحرب عبر تعزيز المجموعات المسلحة، أو عبر استغلال الوجود العسكري الأميركي المستجد لفرض توازنات تمنع تعرض إسرائيل للخطر.

عملياً، كل المحاولات الإسرائيلية باءت بالفشل، ما جعل قادة العدو يدركون أنّ تحقيق المصالح يتطلب المبادرة من دون الاتكال على أحد. هذه القناعة تعززت مع فشل الغرب في تحصيل ضمانات روسية، ومع فشل محاولات تعويم المجموعات المسلحة. وفي كل مرة عمد فيها العدو إلى الاعتداء على سوريا كانت الأمور تتعقد أكثر، إذ لا نتيجة سياسية لذلك. فلا روسيا قبلت التعهد بتوفير ضمانات لإسرائيل، ولا إيران اعتبرت نفسها معنية بالرسائل الإسرائيلية، بينما ذهبت دمشق ــــ بالتعاون مع حزب الله ــــ إلى تعزيز الواقع الميداني بما يسمح بالرد المباشر على تل أبيب متى أتيحت الفرصة. اتضّح ذلك، مثلاً، في العاشر من شباط الماضي، عندما أُسقطت طائرة إسرائيلية ما فرض على العدو تحدياً جديداً، بينما كانت الوقائع الميدانية تفرز المزيد من النجاحات للجيش السوري وحلفائه، بما في ذلك منع العدو من القيام بأي خطوة ذات فائدة في الجنوب السوري.

الهاجس المركزي أصبح في جعل الساحة السورية غير قابلة للحياة لا للدولة ولا للناس

اليوم، تشعر إسرائيل بأن الأمور قد تتخذ منحى خطيراً بالنسبة لها. فهي غير قادرة على البتّ في قرار شنّ حرب شاملة ضد الجبهة الشمالية التي تشمل سوريا ولبنان وحتى إيران. كما أنها لا تضمن مشاركة أميركية ــــ أوروبية ــــ عربية في مثل هذه الحرب. وبالتالي، تجد نفسها مضطرة للعمل بمفردها.

قبل أسابيع، يوم انطلقت معركة تحرير الغوطة الشرقية، راهنت تل أبيب على تحرك غربي من نوع مختلف. حينها حاول الأميركيون، بالتعاون مع الأوروبيين، «القيام بشيء ما»، وصدرت تهديدات كبيرة مترافقة مع استنفار عسكري غير مسبوق للقوات الأميركية في المنطقة. لكن الوقائع لم تقد إلى تحقيق الهدف الإسرائيلي بشن الحرب المعاكسة، بل خرج دونالد ترامب ليتحدث عن رغبته بسحب قواته من سوريا بصورة نهائية. وهي الخطوة غير الواقعية، بحسب المعادلات، لأنها تحمل في طياتها اعلان هزيمة كبرى لها في سوريا، وترك المنطقة أمام نفوذ مختلف نوعاً وكمّاً لخصوم إسرائيل.

ما الذي حصل؟

كان الجميع يتوقع أن يبادر الغرب إلى خطوة ما مستغلاً مسرحية السلاح الكيميائي في الغوطة. إلا أن الأمر كان سيبقى في إطار محدود. بمعنى أن أي ضربة أميركية ـــ أوروبية في سوريا لن تتخذ طابع الضربة الاستراتيجية التي تهدد النظام في دمشق، فموسكو أولاً لا تقبل بذلك، ما يعني احتمال حصول صدام أميركي ــــ روسي فوق سوريا، وهو أمر ليس مطروحاً على جدول أعمال البلدين. بالتالي، كان الجميع، حتى ساعة متقدمة من ليل أول من أمس، لا يستبعد حصول ضربة أميركية، لكن على نحو مشابه (ولو أكبر بقليل) لضربة الشعيرات التي تلت مسرحية «كيميائي خان شيخون». لكن، فجأة، خرجت طائرات العدو لتنفذ هجوماً مدروساً ومقرراً ضد قاعدة «شاهد» الإيرانية التي تشتمل على منظومة عمل الطائرات المسيرة في مطار «تي فور». إذاً، قالت إسرائيل إنها اختارت لحظة مناسبة، لتجاوز نتيجة ما حصل في 10 شباط الماضي ولدفع جميع اللاعبين على الساحة السورية، إلى طرق أبوابها بحثاً عن حلّ. وهي خطوة تستهدف تحقيق مجموعة من الأهداف.

عملياً، ينتظر الجميع الردّ على الغارة الإسرائيلية، وهناك ترقب للموقف الإيراني، مع العلم أن الجميع لا يزال ينتظر القرار الأميركي ــــ الأوروبي النهائي بشأن توجيه ضربة جديدة ضد الدولة السورية.

المنطقة أمام أيام حساسة للغاية. صحيح أن الجميع لا يريد الدخول في مواجهة شاملة. لكن مرور العدوان الإسرائيلي من دون نتائج سياسية مناسبة للعدو يدفع تل أبيب إلى تكرار الخطوة، وفي هذه الحال نكون أمام مزعج يطرق الباب مراراً وتكراراً… ما يوجب في لحظة ما أن يخرج من يردّ عليه!

من ملف : سوريا: من يرسم المعادلة الأخيرة؟

If I Were MBS, I’d Be Cynical About This Visit

Robert Fisk

08-03-2018 | 10:52

Thank heavens Theresa May is giving a warm welcome today to the illustrious Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, His Royal Majesty Mohammad bin Salman. For it is meet and right that she should do so. His Royal Highness is a courageous Arab reformer, keen to drag his wealthy nation into the 21st century in a raft of promises – women’s rights, massive economic restructuring, moderate Islam, further intelligence gathering on behalf of the West and an even more vital alliance in the “War on Terror”.


Thank God, however, that Theresa May – in her infinite wisdom – is not going to waste her time greeting a head-chopping and aggressive Arab Crown Prince whose outrageous war in Yemen is costing thousands of lives and tainting the United Kingdom with his shame by purchasing millions of dollars in weapons from May to use against the people of Yemen, who is trying to destroy his wealthy Arab brothers in Qatar and doing his best to persuade the US, Britain and sundry other Westerners to join the Saudi war against the Shias of the Middle East.

You see the problem? When it comes to money, guns and power, we will cuddle up to any Arab autocrat, especially if our masters in Washington, however insane, feel the same way about him – and it will always be a “him”, won’t it? And we will wash our hands with them if or when they have ceased to be of use, or no longer buy our weapons or run out of cash or simply get overthrown. Thus I can feel some sympathy for young Mohammad.

I have to add – simply in terms of human rights – that anyone who has to listen to Theresa “Let’s Get On With It” May for more than a few minutes has my profound sympathy. The Saudi foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, a very intelligent Richelieu, must surely feel the same impatience when he listens to the patently dishonest ramblings of his opposite number. Boris Johnson’s contempt and then love for the Balfour Declaration in the space of less than 12 months is recognized in the Arab world as the cynical charade that it is.

Human rights groups, Amnesty and the rest are angrily calling Crown Prince Mohammad to account this week. So are the inevitable protesters. Any constable who raises a baton to keep order will be “doing the Saudis’ work”, we can be sure. But I fear that the Crown Prince should be far more concerned by the Government which is now groveling to his leadership. For he is dealing with a Western power, in this case the Brits. And the only advice he should be given in such circumstances is: mind your back.

A walk, now, down memory lane. When Gaddafi overthrew King Idris, the Foreign Office smiled upon him. A fresh face, a safe pair of hands with an oil-bearing nation whose wealth we might consume, we thought Gaddafi might be our man. The Americans even tipped him off about a counter-coup, just as we much later helped Gaddafi round up his opponents for torture. Then Gaddafi decided to be an anti-colonial nationalist and eventually got mixed up with the IRA and a bomb in a West Berlin nightclub – and bingo, he became a super-terrorist. Yet come the “War on Terror” and the invasion of Iraq, Gaddafi was kissed by the Venerable Blair and became a super-statesman again. Until the 2011 revolution, at which point he had to become a super-terrorist once more, bombed by NATO and murdered by his own people.

Talking of Iraq, Saddam had a similar experience. At first we rather liked the chap and the Americans even tipped him off on the location of his communist opponents. He was a head-chopper, to be sure, but as long as he invaded the right county, he was a super-statesman. Hence we helped him in his invasion of Iran in 1980 but declared him a super-terrorist in 1990 when he invaded the wrong country: Kuwait. And he ended up, like Gaddafi, killed by his own people, albeit that the Americans set up the court which decided to top him.

Yasser Arafat – not that we even think of him these days – was a Palestinian super-terrorist in Beirut. He was the center of World Terror until he shook hands with Yitzhak Rabin and Bill Clinton, at which point he became a super-statesman. But the moment he refused to deviate from the Oslo agreement and accept “Israeli” hegemony over the West Bank – he was never offered “90 per cent” of it, as the American media claimed – he was on the way to super-terrorism again. Surrounded and bombarded in his Ramallah hovel, he was airlifted to a Paris military hospital where he conveniently died. The “Israelis” had already dubbed him “our bin Laden”, a title they later tried to confer on Arafat’s luckless successor Mahmoud Abbas – who was neither a super-terrorist nor a super-statesman but something worse: a failure.

It should not be necessary to run through the other Arab transmogrifications from evil to good to evil again. Nasser, who helped to overthrow the corrupt King Farouk, quickly became a super-terrorist when he nationalised the Suez Canal and was called the “Mussolini of the Nile” by Eden – a slightly measly comparison when you remember that Saddam became the “Hitler of the Tigris” in 1990. [His eminence Imam] Khomeini was a potential super-statesman in his Paris exile when the Shah was overthrown. Then he became a super-terrorist-in-chief once he established the Islamic Republic. The French Jacobins thought that Hafez al-Assad was a potential super-statesman but decided he was a super-terrorist when Bashar al-Assad – lionized in France after his father’s death – went to war on his opponents, thus becoming a super-terrorist himself. The Brits quickly shrugged off their loyalties to Omani and Qatari emirs when their sons staged coups against them.

Thus Mohammad bin Salman, may his name be praised, might be reminded by Adel al-Jubeir as he settles down in London: “Memento homo”, the gladiator’s reminder to every emperor that he is only “a man”. What if the Yemen war is even bloodier, what if the Saudi military become increasingly disenchanted with the war – which is almost certainly why the Crown Prince staged a putsch among his commanders last month – and what if his Vision2030 proves a Saudi South Sea Bubble? What if the humiliated and vexatious princes and billionaires he humbled in the Riyadh Ritz Hotel come to take their revenge? What if – dare one speak his name? – a future British prime minister reopened the Special Branch enquiry into the Al-Yamamah arms contract? And, while we’re on the subject, what if someone discovers the routes by which US weapons reached Isis and their chums after 2014?

Or a real war breaks out with Iran? Please note, no mention here of the Sunni-Shia struggle, the 2016 butchery of Shia opponents in Saudi Arabia – most described as “terrorists”, most of them decapitated – and absolutely no reference to the fact that Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabist doctrines are the very inspiration of Isis and al-Qaeda and all the other ‘jihadi” mumbo-jumbo cults that have devastated the Middle East.

Nope. The truth is, you can’t just tell who your friends are these days.

Wasn’t it the Brits who double-crossed the Saudi monarchy’s predecessors in Arabia by promising them an Arab empire but grabbing Palestine and Transjordan and Iraq for themselves?

Wasn’t it the Brits who published the Balfour Declaration and then tried to betray the Jews to whom they’d promised a homeland and the Arabs whose lands they had promised to protect?

Wasn’t it – since we are talking autocrats – the Brits who gave Ceaucescu an honorary knighthood and then took it back when he was deposed? We gave Mugabe the same gong and then took it back. Incredibly, we gave one to Mussolini too. Yes, we took it back in 1940.

So have a care, Crown Prince Mohammad. Don’t trust perfidious Albion. Watch your back at home, but also abroad. Thanks for all the arms purchases. And thanks for all the intelligence bumph to help us keep track of the lads who are brainwashed with the Wahabi faith. But don’t – whatever you do – be tempted by an honorary knighthood.

Source: The Independent, Edited by website team

الوقاحة القطرية

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هو نفسه، الأمير السابق لقطر حمد بن خليفة آل ثاني، روى كيف أنه قصد ووزير خارجيته حمد بن جاسم الولايات المتحدة الأميركية، ساعياً إلى الحصول على اعتراف كامل بحكمه من واشنطن. قال الرجل إن الأمر لا يحتاج إلى كثير شرح، حتى نفهم نحن العرب أن الغطاء الأميركي هو الوحيد الذي يكفل استمرار حكمك، فكيف إذا كانت السعودية تريد رأسك؟

رواية «الأمير الوالد»، كما يُطلق عليه اليوم بعد تركه منصبه لنجله تميم، لا تتوقف عند السعي إلى مباركة أميركية لانقلابه على والده. بل يستمر في الكلام، قائلاً إن موظفاً أميركياً رفيع المستوى زاره في مقر إقامته في أميركا، وقال له: 

الأمر بسيط، عليك التوجه من هنا إلى فندق آخر حيث يقيم شمعون بيريز. اجلس وتفاهم معه، وعندما تعود، أُبلغك بموعدك في البيت الأبيض.

مرّت سنوات طويلة على هذه الحادثة وحصلت تطورات كثيرة، لكن القاعدة النظرية لضمان حماية النظام القطري لا تزال هي نفسها. وعندما قررت السعودية والإمارات ومصر عزل قطر قبل مدة، سارعت الدوحة إلى العنوان المناسب: الولايات المتحدة وإسرائيل!
التوتر القطري الناجم عن الحصار المفروض عليها من قبل دول خليجية وعربية، دفعها إلى القيام بخطوات سياسية كثيرة، من بينها العمل على تطوير العلاقات مع روسيا وإيران وتركيا، وإعادة الحرارة إلى هواتف توصلها بحكومات وقوى وشخصيات متنوعة في العالم العربي، مبدية استعدادها لفتح صفحة جديدة مقابل الحصول على دعم هذه الجهات في مواجهتها الحصار.
تتمسّك الدوحة بسياسة إرضاء إسرائيل لأجل كسب حماية أميركا على حساب الفلسطينيين
وفي هذا السياق أبدى القطريون الاستعداد للقيام بتغيير العديد من سياساتهم في المنطقة، بما في ذلك، وتحديداً، في ملفات سوريا والعراق واليمن، وأن يلعبوا دوراً سمّته الدبلوماسية القطرية «احتواء الإخوان المسلمين».
عملياً ما الذي حصل؟
في الملف العراقي، اكتشف القطريون أنّ السعودية لا تترك مجالاً لأحد، وأن تورط الولايات المتحدة الاميركية في إرسال جنودها من جديد إلى هناك لا يوسع هامش المناورة أمام الدوحة. وجاءت قصة احتجاز أفراد من العائلة الحاكمة إلى جانب قطريين آخرين في العراق، والتسوية التي قضت بإطلاقهم، لتخفّفا من دعم المجموعات الارهابية المقاتلة للدولة العراقية. لكن الأمر لم ينسحب على الدعم الاعلامي والسياسي المستمرين، بما في ذلك دعم أنصار النظام العراقي السابق، وبعض القيادات الاسلامية القريبة من تنظيم «القاعدة».
في سوريا، تعرضت المجموعات المدعومة من قطر لضربات كبيرة في الميدان. والمجموعات السياسية الخاضعة لسلطة قطر، تعرّضت بدورها لحصار نتيجة عدم فعاليتها، بينما تولّت السعودية سحب قسم منها باتجاهها. لكن قطر ظلت، وبإشراف تركي، تقدم الدعم المالي للمجموعات الارهابية، وخصوصاً في الشمال السوري، ولا سيما منها «جبهة النصرة»، والتي لا تزال حتى اليوم تملك نفوذا كبيراً داخل قياداتها الدينية والميدانية، رغم أنّ الدوحة أبلغت الجميع أنها في صدد وقف الاتصالات مع هذا التنظيم، وأنها لن تشارك في أي وساطات جديدة، بما في ذلك «اعتذارها» عن المساهمة في الوساطات التي قامت على إثر الضربات التي وجهت إلى «جبهة النصرة» على الحدود اللبنانية ــ السورية، علماً بأن قطر لم توقف دعمها الاعلامي والسياسي للمجموعات المسلحة السورية، وهي لا تزال تقود أوسع حملة بالتعاون مع الاميركيين والفرنسيين لمنع أي تواصل مع الحكومة السورية.
في اليمن، تصرفت قطر على أنها «تحررت» من الورطة السعودية. لكن موقفها الفعلي لم يكن ــ وليس هو الآن ــ ضد العدوان وضد الجرائم اليومية بحق الشعب اليمني، وكل ما في الأمر أنّ الدوحة تريد منافسة الرياض وأبو ظبي على النفوذ في البلد المنكوب، ولديها جماعاتها هناك، ولا سيما المجموعات المتصلة بالإخوان المسلمين (حزب الإصلاح) وبعض القيادات القومية العربية ومجموعات سلفية. وهي عندما ترفع الصوت ــ إعلامياً ــ لا تُقدم على أي خطوة عملية في اتجاه وقف حمام الدم في اليمن. بل حتى عندما يتطرق الأمر إلى مفاوضات جانبية، تظهر قطر التزاماً كاملاً بالتوجّهين الأميركي والبريطاني في ما خصّ المفاوضات مع «أنصار الله» حول مستقبل اليمن.
لكن كل ما سبق ليس إلا ذرة مقابل ما تقوم به في الملف الفلسطيني. وهنا بيت القصيد، حيث تعود الدوحة إلى «القاعدة الذهبية» التي تقول إن الحصول على دعم غربي في مواجهة ضغوط السعودية والإمارات ومصر، يتطلب رضى أميركياً صريحاً. ولهذا الرضى مداخل عدة، أبرزها رضى إسرائيل،

وهذا ما يتضح أن قطر تقوم به، سواء من خلال برامج التعاون القائمة بواسطة موفدها إلى غزة السفير محمد العمادي، الذي يفاخر بعلاقاته الإسرائيلية وبلياليه الحمراء في تل أبيب ولقاءاته المفتوحة مع القيادات السياسية والأمنية الإسرائيلية، أو من خلال ممارسة أبشع عملية ابتزاز بحق الفلسطينيين في قطاع غزة، لجهة المحاولات المستمرة لمقايضة برنامج الدعم للإعمار بالحصول من الجانب الفلسطيني على تنازلات تخصّ ملف الصراع مع إسرائيل. مع التذكير بأنّ قطر روّجت، ولا تزال، لفكرة تقول إن فشل مساعي التسوية السياسية يرافقه فشل في برنامج المقاومة. وهي فكرة تستهدف الدخول إلى العقل الجمعي للفلسطينيين وتثبيت أن الأكل والشرب أولوية لا تسبقها أيّ أولوية، بما في ذلك معركة الاستقلال.

Hamas Joke: Al-quds waiting for “men”, the half-men fighting Syria

ما يصل من غزة، وبقية فلسطين، عمّا تقوم به قطر، من خلال مندوبها، لا يبشّر بالخير، ويؤكد مرة جديدة أن كل ما تقوم به «فقاعة الغاز» لا يعدو كونه منافسة للإمارات والسعودية على كسب ودّ الولايات المتحدة وإسرائيل.
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والمشكلة هنا ليست مع قطر نفسها، بل مع من لا يزال من الفلسطينيين أو العرب يثق بأنها تقف فعلياً إلى جانب الحق العربي في التحرر من الاحتلال ومن التبعية للغرب الاستعماري… إنه زمن الوقاحة القطرية!


What US News Reports on Syria’s War Hide

What US News Reports on Syria’s War Hide

EDITOR’S CHOICE | 11.02.2018


What’s being hidden from the public by the U.S. news-media’s reports on Syria’s war is that, ever since 2012, the U.S. Government has been trying to overthrow Syria’s Government by supporting, training and arming, in Syria, the many jihadist groups who were being led by Al Qaeda in Syria — jihadist groups which unanimously accept Al Qaeda’s leadership there. Without Al Qaeda in Syria, the U.S. effort to overthrow the government of Bashar al-Assad (who was elected in 2014 to a new Presidential term in an internationally monitored democratic election, winning 89% of the vote) wouldn’t have come anywhere close to succeeding; but, with Al Qaeda’s help, it almost did succeed. America, even as late as late 2016, was demanding Russia to stop its bombing of Al Qaeda and of their allied jihadist groups in Syria, but Russia refused; this was a major hang-up in the years-long Kerry-Lavrov (U.S.-Russia) negotiations for a ceasefire in Syria. Kerry couldn’t get President Obama to go along with Russia’s (Putin’s) insistence upon continued bombing both of ISIS and of Al Qaeda; Obama insisted: No bombing of Al Qaeda.

More recently, after the effort to overthrow Syria’s Government failed during 2016, the U.S. goal (since nearly the very end of Obama’s Administration) has become assisting Kurds in Syria’s northeast who want to establish there a Kurdistan, which would be beholden to Washington and would cooperate with U.S. oil companies and their contractors such as Halliburton to extract Syria’s oil and to construct pipelines for both oil and gas from mainly three U.S. allies — Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Qatar — into the world’s largest energy-market, the EU, to enable the U.S. and those fundamentalist-Sunni allies to displace Russia from that market, where Russia currently is the largest energy-supplier.

This hiding, which is done in order to block the public’s understanding of what’s going on, is well-exemplified in the slick February 9th front-page New York Times headline news-report, titled “It’s Hard to Believe, but Syria’s War Is Getting Even Worse,” which is headlined online as instead “Far From Winding Down, Syria’s War Escalates on Multiple Fronts”. This half-fictional potboiler opens like any war-potbiler generally does, not by explaining anything, but instead with the typical slick-journalism device, of an anecdote (the bloodier and more-obviously outrageous, the better, in order to whip-up the interest and attention of the gullible mass of readers), “Half a dozen newborns, blinking and arching their backs, were carried from a burning hospital hit by airstrikes. A bombed apartment house collapsed, burying families.” Anyone will, of course, have sympathy for babies, and their families, in a hospital that gets hit by a bomb in a war. Everything that follows this slick opening is designed to anger readers against Syria’s Government — that being the propagandistic objective of virtually all U.S. ‘news’-coverage of this war.

The article leaves the reader totally confused as to why what is happening is happening. But it’s accompanied by yet another article, “Why Is the Syrian War Still Raging?” That piece says, “Each of the major conflicts has its own underlying logic that sustains the fighting” and then it goes on to consider, in turn, what it identifies as “the major conflicts,” which it alleges to be the following three (as being answers to consider, for the article’s title-question, “Why Is the Syrian War Still Raging?” — which means why the war is still raging, even after ISIS in Syria has been defeated and when the task that everyone had been expecting to remain now would be to kill the few ISIS and the other jihadists who still are there, and then to restore the country fully to peace without any jihadists):

“1. Assad versus rebels”

“2. The battle against ISIS”

“3. Turkey versus the Kurds”

They ignore altogether the actual reason “Why Is the Syrian War Still Raging?”:

“4. U.S. versus Syria”

That’s what the Times leaves out — hides.

The U.S. went into Syria lying to say that its main goal was to eliminate ISIS there, but didn’t do anything to ISIS in Syria, until after Russia was invited into the war on 30 September 2015 and promptly started to bomb the oil-tanker-trucks that were carrying Syrian oil from ISIS-controlled areas into Turkey for export and income to ISIS (and Turkey). America had been committed ever since 2012 to overthrow Syria’s Government, but now (under Trump) it’s trying to break up Syria and to steal its oil and at least enough of its territory, so as to destroy Syria even further, and to cripple Russia in its main foreign market.

However, this isn’t a criticism of the New York Times especially, but of all ‘news’reporting in the U.S. and its allied countries. For example, the BBC did a one-year retrospective on the first anniversary of Russia’s 30 September 2015 start of its bombing of what the U.S. regime calls ‘the rebels’ in Syria, and, under the headline “Syria war: How Moscow’s bombing campaign has paid off for Putin” quoted a supposed reliable authority as saying, “Moscow had sought to steadily destroy the moderate Syrian opposition on the battlefield, leaving only jihadist forces in play, and lock the US into a political framework of negotiations that would serve beyond the shelf-life of this administration.” This is basically upside-down: The myth that there had been any substantial non-jihadist or “moderate” Syrian opposition, and that Washington’s operation in Syria relies upon such “moderates,” is an essential lie, in which all of the mainstream, and well over 90% of the “alternative news” media, must participate, if they’re to be allowed to continue. Billionaires have lots of clout. There’s talk about “manufactured consent,” and this is the way it is “manufactured.” It is manufactured by incessant lying, not only by the Government, but by the press.

A good rule is to distrust everything you read, and to click onto at least a sampling  of its sources and examine them yourself to see whether they support the allegations that they allegedly support; and to evaluate whether those sources are themselves trustworthy — and to ignore any ‘news’medium that doesn’t link to its sources (doesn’t conveniently let you check out its truth or falsehood), which includes especially TV, radio, and print media. Only online news can even qualify to be considered by an intelligent reader; but if it’s online print, like for example the New York Times, then it can be taken only on trust, which certainly isn’t earned by any record of carefulness to report the truth and only the truth. This is why I always link to my sources, either directly, or via articles that do link directly to them but that additionally place them into their essential context so that they can be accurately understood.

No news-report can be any more reliable than its sources are. Most ‘news’ is sourced to propagandists. The key thing for any educational system is to teach people how to be intelligently skeptical of everything; but no regime wants such an educational system. Honest news-coverage is therefore rare. Any assumption that it’s not rare is blatantly false.

As George Monbiot, the Guardian columnist, said in an extraordinary burst of honesty:

“I work in a profoundly corrupt industry, and I hate it. … There are some really great journalists out there, but they live in a country under occupation — that’s how it feels. The industry is a really hostile place for good journalism, for journalism which seeks to hold power to account, which in my view is what journalism is all about — that’s the point of it. .. [But the reality of journalism is] it’s about actually reinforcing the messages of power … persuading people that what the billionaires want is what the rest of us should want”

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