Did Trump Shoot Himself in the Foot?

The sound of Tomahawk missiles slamming into a Syrian airbase shattered whatever optimism there was over the possibility of a rapprochement between Moscow and Washington, while causing a widespread spike in tensions on the global stage.

Caricature: Trump shooting himself in the foot

Just a few days earlier, the blast of another bombshell echoed through international newsrooms; the White House chief strategist Steve Bannon was removed from the US National Security Council [NSC].

Bannon’s removal was hardly surprising. As a matter of fact, it was inevitable in the context of the ongoing struggle between the Trump administration and the American political establishment.

It was equally predictable that Bannon’s departure would coincide with other dramatic events. But few could have forecast that it would be followed by a massive missile strike on Syria, in what marks the most heated episode of the new Cold War.

Meanwhile, Trump was eager to tell the world that last week’s strike was the product of his own decision-making process, which led him to ‘change his mind on Syria’ in 48 hours.

The US president’s change of heart during those 48 hours ran parallel with Bannon’s removal from the NSC.

Trump Betrays His Base

The depth of the Washington D.C. “swamp” that Trump promised to drain was on full display following an assault on a sovereign country and a blatant violation of international law.

The corporate media and western politicians, regardless of their party affiliations, were falling all over themselves to shower praise on Trump for his unilateral attack on Syria.

One of the more poetic examples was NBC’s Brian Williams, who called the launch of 59 Tomahawk missiles, which killed a number of Syrian children, “beautiful”.

“We see these beautiful pictures at night from the decks of these two US Navy vessels in the eastern Mediterranean,” Williams said. “I am tempted to quote the great Leonard Cohen: ‘I am guided by the beauty of our weapons.'”

“They are beautiful pictures of fearsome armaments making what is for them a brief flight over to this airfield,” he added. Then he asked his guest, “What did they hit?”

Hillary Clinton, who told New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, just hours before the attack that the US “should take out [Assad’s] airfields”, was not the only Trump critic to change her tune.

The former frontrunner in the race for the White House declared that the strike was an appropriate response to a purported chemical weapons attack in Idlib.

Republican Senator John McCain, who doesn’t make much of an effort to hide his relationship with terrorist groups in Syria, applauded Trump, saying he deserved the support of the American people.

He then used the opportunity to accuse Russia of war crimes.

“The United States should first tell Russia that this kind of a war crime is unacceptable in the world today,” McCain told a press conference in Belgrade on April 10.

But the argument that this rhetoric somehow translates into Trump becoming more appealing to the public, the media and his political rivals in the long run is inaccurate.

Instead, Trump’s decision to sign off on the strikes can best be described as a pyrrhic victory.

Praise from the global neoliberal and neoconservative establishment will be short-lived. These circles of power will hate Trump for the entirety of his presidential tenure. However, his U-turn on Syria has cost him the backing of his diehard supporters, including those sympathetic to Steve Bannon.

According to Russian geopolitical expert Alexander Dugin, Trump has managed to betray those who elected him by capitulating to neoconservative foreign policy interests.

Muscle Flexing

From a military standpoint, the strikes on the Shayrat air base were almost completely pointless. Only six out-of-service aircraft were reportedly destroyed, and the base was operational again within 24 hours.

A Russian defense ministry statement, read on state television shortly after the strikes, said the US attack had been “ineffective”.

On the diplomatic front, a renewed effort to push the Kremlin into a corner was equally impotent.

A G7 meeting in the Italian city of Lucca, which was preceded by a flurry of anti-Russian and anti-Syrian propaganda, failed to reach an agreement on a proposal by Britain for additional sanctions against Moscow.

Staying true to traditional values and honoring one’s host, Beijing waited for the Chinese President Xi Jinping to leave the US and return home, before offering their explanation of the strike on Syria.

China’s state-run news agency Xinhua called it an act of a weakened politician, who needed to flex his muscles and overcome accusations that he was “pro-Russia”.

The PR nature of the attack is further highlighted by the fact that the Russians were notified about the strike in advance, giving them and the Syrians ample time to evacuate the base.

Russia’s Response

Those who detest American imperialism and support the emerging bloc of countries led by Vladimir Putin immediately asked why Moscow didn’t do more to prevent this attack, and why advanced Russian missile-defense systems in Syria remained unused.

Aside from condemnations and warnings that such provocations must not be repeated, little else came out of the Kremlin. This has been interpreted by many in the west as a sign of weakness. The thinking is that the Americans are once again marching to their own tune and Moscow does not know how to respond.

Here, it is important to point out that out of the 59 missiles fired only 23 ended up reaching their target.

Unless the American military industrial complex has truly hit rock bottom, it is unlikely that more than 30 Tomahawks simply malfunctioned.

The more believable explanation involves Russia’s Krasuha-4 mobile electronic warfare system, which was first cited as being in use in Syria in late 2015.

The Krasuha-4 can affect the function of spy satellites, ground-based radars and airborne systems.

But its main function is to jam radar frequencies and other radio-emitting sources – vital for Tomahawk missile launches.

It is also important to note that the Russians had an agreement with the Americans over operations in Syria, which Moscow decided to honor. The agreement as well as the prior warning of the attack could explain Russia’s relatively low-key response.

Theories suggesting that the Kremlin does not know how to react also run counter to Putin’s recent maneuvers on the international stage, including his response to the shooting down of a Russian jet by Turkey.

Managing to avoid a direct military confrontation, which would have played into the hands of the ‘globalists’, Putin successfully broke through NATO’s southern rim, as the anti-Kremlin agenda in Ankara collapsed.

Over the last couple of years, Putin’s actions have been highly unpredictable. From Moscow’s response to the crisis in Ukraine and the seizure of Crimea, to Russia’s intervention in Syria, Putin has managed to leave the top echelons of western intelligence agencies lost for words.

Trump’s future actions are equally unpredictable, but for different reasons.

Reason and pragmatism have abandoned Washington’s halls of power many years ago, requiring a psychiatric evaluation of the policy-making process rather than a political one.

One conclusion that can be drawn from the recent escalation is that Trump, much like Erdogan over a year ago, is shooting himself in the foot. Those who hated Trump since the beginning will continue to hate him and those who supported him will begin to abandon him.

Source: Al-Ahed News

15-04-2017 | 09:31

Will the Lies Ever Stop?

An important point that needs to be made (hat tip Christiana ) is that the US invasion of Iraq and the removal of Saddam Hussein were advocated by members of the same cabal of Zionists who now are advocating war with Syria. And of course pulling the strings of their goyim politicians to achieve their ends.

In the video below from the year 2002 you will see Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu testifying before members of Congress about Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction. The Jewish man visible immediately behind Netanyahu’s left shoulder is Ron Dermer, the current Israeli ambassador to the US. In the video Netanyahu speaks of Iraq’s “portable manufacturing sites of mass death,” while also alleging that Saddam was being assisted in his nuclear weapons program by Russians. The United States, he asserts, “must destroy” Saddam’s “regime,” he tells the Congress members.

Netanyahu made those comments before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on September 12, 2002. We all know how the story turned out. The US invaded Iraq on March 20, 2003. No weapons of mass destruction were found. Saddam Hussein was captured and executed, and today the country is in chaos and Europe is flooded with refugees.

Now the Zionists are at it again, only this time with Syria in their cross hairs. Immediately beneath the video from 2002, you’ll see a series of tweets put out by Netanyahu earlier this week on Syria.

When I saw pictures of babies suffocating from a chemical attack in Syria, I was shocked and outraged >

When I saw pictures of babies suffocating from a chemical attack in Syria, I was shocked and outraged >

There’s no, none, no excuse whatsoever for the deliberate attacks on civilians and on children >

There’s no, none, no excuse whatsoever for the deliberate attacks on civilians and on children >

especially with cruel and outlawed chemical weapons. I call on the international community to fulfill its obligation from 2013 >

especially with cruel and outlawed chemical weapons. I call on the international community to fulfill its obligation from 2013 >

to fully and finally remove these horrible weapons from Syria.

 What we are seeing now is the destruction of one country after another, much as if the Oded Yinon plan is playing out right before our eyes. Oded Yinon is a former Israeli journalist and political analyst who published a paper in 1982 advocating the break up of Middle East countries into smaller, weaker statelets that could be more easily controlled.

In the paper, Yinon said that the world is headed into a “new epoch in human history,” one which would be characterized by “a breakdown of the rationalist, humanist outlook.” In this epoch, he said, people would lose the ability to “assess the simplest things, especially when they concern the simple question of what is Good and what is Evil.” In other words, Yinon predicted that good and evil would essentially become irrelevant concepts.

If you’ve not read my article, “The Blood Drippings of OY,” I strongly suggest you do so (although be advised, the article contains some graphic and disturbing images). The letters “OY” stand for “Oded Yinon.” The article contains the full text of Yinon’s paper as well as my analysis of it.


Update 1:

Tillerson says “steps are underway” to remove Syrian President Bashar Assad

Update 2:

Report: White House in Detailed Discussions on Military Options in Syria

RT

President Donald Trump is being briefed on the full range of military options in Syria, after the White House blamed the government in Damascus for the alleged chemical attack that killed dozens of civilians in Idlib province.

Among the options would be using cruise missiles to attack Syrian targets and “grounding” Syrian aircraft, an unnamed US official told Reuters on Thursday. The official did not say how likely US military action would be, however.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster have been discussing the matter, the official said. Mattis is due to meet with Trump later in the day at the president’s Mar-a-Lago retreat, where a summit meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping is underway.

Speaking with reporters aboard Air Force One, Trump said that “something should happen” with Assad after the chemical attack, calling what happened in Syria “a disgrace to humanity.”

“There is no doubt in our minds, and the information we have supports, that the Syrian regime under the leadership of Bashar al-Assad are responsible for this attack,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters in Florida on Thursday, adding that “there is no role for Assad” in Syria after this.

Tillerson also warned Russia that it should “consider carefully their support” for Assad.

Earlier on Thursday, Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) announced he would oppose any military action without a vote in Congress.

“The President, if he decides to do something in Syria, he would come to Congress and ask for a declaration of war. Short of Congress voting on it, I’m opposed to illegal and unconstitutional wars,” Paul told Fox News radio show ‘Kilmeade and Friends’.

Senators John McCain (R-Arizona) and Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), however, called for Trump to attack Syria.

“The United States should lead an international coalition to ground Assad’s air force,” they said in a joint statement Thursday. “This capability provides Assad a strategic advantage in his brutal slaughter of innocent civilians, both through the use of chemical weapons as well as barrel bombs, which kill far more men, women and children on a daily basis.”

Damascus has denied using chemical weapons, saying that its jets targeted an arms depot where chemical weapons stockpiles were stored by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and Al-Nusra Front militants. The Russian Ministry of Defense has confirmed that account of events.

The strike, which was launched midday Tuesday, targeted a major rebel ammunition depot east of the town of Khan Sheikhoun, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov said in a statement.

According to Konashenkov, the warehouse was used to both produce and store shells containing toxic gas. The shells were delivered to Iraq and repeatedly used there, said the spokesman, pointing out that both Iraq and international organizations have confirmed the use of such weapons by militants.


Update 3

‘False Flag’–Ron Paul Says Syrian Chemical Attack ‘Makes No Sense’

By Christian Datoc

Ron Paul claimed on Wednesday’s broadcast of “The Liberty Report” that all signs point toward Tuesday’s chemical attack in Syria being a false flag operation.

“Before this episode of possible gas exposure and who did what, things were going along reasonably well for the conditions,” the former Texas congressman stated. “Trump said let the Syrians decide who should run their country, and peace talks were making out, and Al Qaeda and ISIS were on the run.”

“It looks like, maybe, somebody didn’t like that so there had to be an episode, and the blame now is we can’t let that happen because it looks like it might benefit Assad.”

“It’s not so easy though is it? What happened four years ago in 2013, you know, this whole thing about crossing the red line?” he posed. “Ever since then, the neocons have been yelling and screaming, a part of the administration has been yelling and screaming about Assad using poison gas.”

“It was never proven in fact,” agreed Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity executive director Daniel McAdams. “U.N. official Carla Del Ponte said it was most likely done by the rebels.”

“It makes no sense, even if you were totally separate from this and take no sides of this and you were just an analyst, it doesn’t make sense for Assad under these conditions to all of the sudden use poison gasses,” Paul continued. “I think it’s zero chance that he would have done this deliberately.”

Swedish Medical Association: White Helmets Murdered Kids for Fake Gas Attack Videos

Local Editor

Swedish Doctors for Human Rights [swedhr.org] analyzed videos, the rescue after an alleged attack by Syrian government forces. The doctors found that the videos were counterfeit, where even Arabic stage directions were overheard, and that the alleged “Rescue” in actuality is a murder.

 

Swedish Medical Association: White Helmets Murdered Kids for Fake Gas Attack Videos


On first analysis, it looked as though the doctors working on the child assumed he was already dead.

However, after broader investigation, our team ascertained that the boy was unconscious from an overdose of opiates. The video shows the child receiving injections in his chest, perhaps in the area of the heart and was eventually killed while a clearly fake adrenaline injection was administered.

This was a murder.

The doctors determined in its analysis:

• The video should be life-saving measures after a chemical attack with chlorine gas [now claimed to be Sarin-not possible], including injection of adrenaline via syringe with a long needle into the heart of an infant. In no way were treatments correctly given for any potential chemical agent.

• The handling and treatment of the child was done in a manner that was careless, dangerous and likely to cause serious harm.

• Most telling is the fake repeated shots of adrenalin, supposedly into the heart. The medical personnel, and I think we can safely call them actors at this point, failed to push the plunger on the needle. Thus, the contents of the syringe were never injected as is clearly visible in the video itself.

• The visible diagnosis by a team of actual medical experts, based on what is observed in the video, indicates that the child was suffering from an injection of opiates and was likely dying of an overdose. There is no evidence of any other agent, chemical or otherwise.

• None of the children in the videos showed any sign of being a victim of a chemical attack. From an earlier video by the White Helmets:

• It was clear that the faked injection with the long needle administered through the stitches murdered the child in the video. This was a purposeful killing staged to appear as medical treatment.

• Behind the fake translation of the videos, the actual Arabic included stage directions for positioning the child for the video, not for medical treatment.

This was followed by more macabre discoveries in the videos not seen initially in the article White Helmets Movie: Updated Evidence from Swedish Doctors Confirm Fake Life Saving Practices Injure Children.

The collective findings of the Swedish doctors [swedhr] with regard to the propaganda and fakery by al-Qaeda in Syria: (Al Nusra) are in line with the findings of leading German and International Scientists for Syria War.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

08-04-2017 | 12:02

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Listen to the new message on the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs answering machine

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The Mosul Massacres: the Banality of Evil revisited.

The Mosul Massacres: the Banality of Evil revisited.

April 01, 2017

By Anwar Khan

What is the moral difference–if any– between the intentional shooting at fleeing civilians and using them as human shields on the one hand, and the flattening of entire neighborhoods, killing hundreds of innocent civilians, on the pretext of the presence of enemy fighters there-in, on the other? The answer is that there is no moral difference. Both are high crimes under any book, and it is being perpetrated on the people of Mosul as we speak. The first is done by ISIS– the Frankenstein that crept out of the Empire’s Research and Development labs, with the sole aim of destroying Muslim societies, disparaging the name of Islam, and advancing the march towards Full Spectrum Dominance— and the second is perpetrated by the Empire’s military might in broad day light, on the pretext of annihilating the very monster that it created. In between a most vicious massacre of innocent people is being perpetrated, with an almost complete media blackout.

(Side Note: Not that the knowledge of such crimes would bother much the moral nerves of the western world, who have come to accept scenes of dead Muslims as a phenomenon as normal as cloud formation. Between slavish work to pay for what they call life, celebrity worship, and the collective immolation of the soul that takes place in the dark temples we call cinemas— mirroring very much the darkness that encompasses the modern conscience—one wonders if idle time could be spared to show moral revulsion to such crimes. Yes, candles are lit and tears shed to the unfortunate victims at home, but the Muslim lands are simply too far, too unknown, and too “other” to cause any discomfort of the conscience)

While the Syrian and Russian offensive to retake Aleppo from the terrorists saw much crocodile tears from the Empire’s media, the Mosul offensive or Inherent Resolve—where Coalition air strikes have turned the city into a heap of rubble hiding a virtual urban graveyard inside its belly— is not even mentioned in passing. The amount of suffering that the people of Mosul have faced since the operation began is difficult to compare to anything in our times, including the Syrian war theatre which is as cruel as modern warfare can be. The scenes from Mosul Jadida(New Mosul) area are reminiscent of Dresden during the Second World War.

The Guardian reported Chris Woods, the director of monitoring group Airwars, to have said: “The Jadida incident alone is the worst toll of a single [airstrike] incident that I can recall in decades. The coalition’s argument that it doesn’t target noncombatants risks being devalued when so many civilians are being killed in west Mosul.” He is referring to a coalition airstrike that killed over 200 civilians mostly children, women and elderly seeking shelter in a building. The mounting human suffering and infrastructural destruction is of such a scale that the Iraqi Army, conducting the ground offensive, had to call off its advance fearing that the operation has slid into a catastrophe, thanks to the coalition’s Make America Great Again strategy.

(Side Note: You wonder where is Hollywood and George Clooney and their crocodile tears which they shed incessantly for the people of Sudan– who we were told were going through a “genocide”– eventually leading to imperial intervention and creation of South Sudan. How courageous of these celebrities to root for imperial causes and then hide in their holes when true courage is needed?)

Those who still harbor any doubts about the Empire being beyond redemption and salvation need to see its conduct in Mosul to realize how utterly indifferent it is to human suffering, or even to public opinion, which was of some concern, purely for PR reasons, not too long ago. But when the imperial hubris has reached such proportions that it cannot be even bothered to explain why shelters housing children and women are blown into oblivion for the sake of one ISIS fighter, you surely have entered what I call the Curse Stage, a particular stage in the stagnation of empires when there is not even a veneer of moral pretense behind its conduct. It is the homestretch of the unraveling. It cannot possibly be reversed.

“Once the Heavens cast the dice of fate, it shall not be reversed, even when a million supplication intersect its path”. Hafiz Shirazi

What is also there to be witnessed is that the same western world that always held Russia to be morally inferior to the ideals of the Enlightenment, part of “the primitive and cruel East”, have fared infinitely more inhumane and cruel in its conduct of warfare under very similar circumstances. The Russian method displayed in the Aleppo offensive was one that regarded avoidance of civilian suffering as the driving factor in its formation. Humanitarian corridors were formed with aid and shelter also being provided in some areas. It took months of meticulous planning and coordination with local partners, and even with the rebels to guarantee their and their families’ safe passage. It was a diplomatic and humanitarian master class of an act. Carpet-bombing of Aleppo would have been a rather easier choice. But the “primitive and cruel” Easterner had a soul after all.

The Coalition on the other hand, forbade the creation of any human corridors which would have allowed many inhabitants to leave the city. This was proposed by the Iraqi government but refused by the Coalition. Their rationale to the Iraqi government was that “they feared ISIS will trickle out of the city with the civilians”. They were told to have faith in the Coalition’s “precision strikes”. To the media they would say “well its ISIS that is not allowing civilians to leave, not us”, which actually is not entirely true. The fact is that they wanted to send a clear message to the world with the new administration’s military strategy in the Muslim lands, featuring Trump as Krishna: Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds. 

This article can go in many directions. I can begin with how Mosul fell in ISIS hands to begin with; the conduct of ISIS terrorists of systematic terror to “reform” its citizens; the role of Turkish, Gulf states and the Kurdish intelligence agencies with ISIS during its four year occupation (yes, even the “anti-ISIS” Kurdish leaders like Jalal Talabani and Masoud Barzani had intimate relationship with ISIS and often allowed them safe passages to conduct its operations. The ultimate Kurdish goal was to annex Mosul to Barzani and Talabani’s fiefdoms when the conditions were ripe). But today I have one concern only and that is the plight of the innocent civilians and the dead children under the rubble.

I am embedding a video here (with my edits and translation) that my Iraqi friends (whose families are still trapped in Mosul) sent me to watch, and help spread the word on the unspoken suffering that the people of Mosul have to persevere. I promised them to do my part, knowing well the fate of such writings when it meets the dead conscience of the modern media consumer. God forbid that the comrades here on this site have such a disposition. But the fact remains that in our times, no matter how deeply shocking an event comes to our knowledge, it does not stay long enough deep inside our conscience to bother the usual trajectory of our lives (this happens even to the most soft-hearted amongst us) But it has to be said nonetheless, whether it finds the desired place or not. That’s the least we owe to the dead children under the rubble–their little bodies still warm from the not too long ago association with life.

The Prophet of Islam is reported to have said “whosoever see an evil, let him stop it with his hand; if he is not able, then with his tongue, and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart— and that is the least of faith.” (The masculine pronoun is inclusive of the feminine, lest the more gender-sensitive raise an issue with that). I am doing the least of what the faith and humanity requires.

The video shows a government official inspecting the part of Mosul most affected by the coalition airstrikes, and gathering first-hand information on the nature of the offensive and plight of the people. Please do watch the entirety of it. I will leave you with one quote from her that sums up the Mosul offensive:

After meeting many people and hearing the reports from all sides, it has become abundantly clear to me, and I can swear to God on this, that there are no more than 6 or 5 ISIS fighters in the entire New Mosul area and they walk around freely in open streets and amazingly they are not targeted. Yet what is targeted are entire neighborhoods and houses containing shelter seeking civilians. And all this on the pretext of targeting these ISIS fighters. It is very clear that the idea is to just destroy Mosul and nothing else”. Basma Basem, President of Mosul Judiciary Council.

{From God we come and to Him shall we return}–Common Muslim statement on hearing the news of death.

Post Script: Since this article, which was first written on March 20th, there finally has been some media coverage. RT has been especially active and credit should go to them. But the scale of suffering is still far from being portrayed accurately.

Also, the subtitles could have been more viewer friendly, alas, that’s the extent of my video editing skills.

A Tale of Two Cities: How Fake News in the War Against ISIS Distorts Your Perspective

MARCH 28, 2017 BY

2 Fake News Syria Iraq
Martin Jay
21st Century Wire

How influenced do you think you are by western media and its biased reporting in the Middle East? Here’s a simple test. When you think of Aleppo in December being taken by Syria’s army, does the word “fallen” feature in your lexicon? Did Berlin also “fall” when in 1945 allied troops took its western flank in the last days of World War II? I’m sure, like most, you would think of Berlin being “liberated” as it was until that point controlled by an evil, fascist regime. So how did Aleppo “fall” for you? Are you also thinking about Mosul in Iraq being “liberated” soon by Iraqi forces with their US allies by their sides?

The gargantuan difference between how the two battles are reported on is not about military strategy or its battlefield logic, but media bias and in particular how western journalists of mainstream media are still stuck in a Cold War mindset when reporting on the Middle East. It’s as though Russia and its allies (Iran, Syria and Hezbollah) are on one side and the west the other and, if the situation is confusing, then falling back on the old east-west clichés will suffice for most readers who read all of the big titles who all used the word “fall” when Syrian regime forces kicked out extremists groups from the old city in December and restored public services and reconstruction.

Leading up to the old city being retaken by government forces last year, many western journalists were embedded with opposition groups in and around the old city. Typically many would cling to activist-type groups or with ‘moderate’ Syrian opposition fighters like the FSA. And it’s this ‘embedding’ which is at the heart of the malaise of poor journalism in Syria and Iraq and biased reporting. To really understand the embedding process and what its derivatives are though, you have to go back to the 60s.

In Vietnam, the US administration gave journalists an entirely free hand in the stories they wished to pursue and granted journalists the support of the military. There were no spin doctors or consultants hiding in the shadows and manipulating the fourth estate. Some of the bigger guns in the newsroom used to literally run out and jump into Huey helicopters and tell pilots where they wanted to go. The result was an unrivalled victory for reporting and serving the public’s needs for relevant information, holding the US government to account for its errors and more devious ploys often with civilians the main victims. But it was a cataclysmic disaster for the US administration which was losing the war on two fronts: both in the battlefield and also with hearts and minds of everyday folk back home.

Fast forward to Gulf War I in 1992 where ‘embedding’  US journalists on the front line of the ‘battle’ for Kuwait and we see a dichotomy of strategy which is to form the very basis of the unparalleled sloppy and entirely biased reporting from mainstream media today – which I would argue has fuelled citizen journalism via Twitter, which has taken from MSM much of their audience base. The first and second Gulf wars set a new precedent which was largely unchallenged by readers and viewers: that the biased ‘call centre journalism’ which you get from a journalist in a US military camp and who is being spoon fed so-called ‘facts’ could be overlooked for the sensational, ‘live’ reporting from the front line in a new, 24 hour news cycle.

But with the roll out of the internet, time has not been kind to this paradigm which is now feeding what we are now calling ‘fake news’.

In the second Gulf War in particular, the very early hard core Sunni extremists which were formed in cities in Iraq where Saddam Hussein had his loyalist base, learnt very quickly that US journalists were entirely biased and often wrote totally incorrect reports about the war in Iraq. A precedent was forged in their minds: the journalists are merely propaganda agents and not at all what Hollywood had portrayed them as. They never contact us to even get our comment or viewpoint on a given news subject and, as a consequence, are prone to making more and more innocuous errors, or even sometimes deliberate ones.

And the same precedent was set for autocratic governments who were happy to set up news websites which were entirely biased as a new generation of young journalists was emerging who knew no better anyway.

SYRIA
AFTERMATH: Large sections Aleppo were destroyed from 5 years of fighting (Photo: Vanessa Beeley @21WIRE)

In Aleppo most journalists are vexed by their proximity to opposition fighters and the fact that they know they are being led to breaking stories which portray the Assad regime and its allies as war criminals. They also know that some false information must be being fed their way and that more balanced stories about what those rebels are doing are not getting covered. But the opportunity to even give a ‘right to reply’ to the other side (the regime) is simply not there because of this polarization from the second Gulf War – and which I witnessed first hand in Afghanistan in 2008 where NATO spin doctors were distinctly unhelpful to me when I refused an ‘embed’ while reporting for Euronews.

The responsibility for any such ‘response’ from the Assad “regime” as western journalists can’t help calling it should be with the news desks in Beirut or Washington. But I don’t see that happening.

Consequently we are seeing a vastly misreported war against ISIS in Syria and Iraq. In Aleppo, many of the western journalists – by being with so-called rebels in the north and entering the region illegally are, by default, never going to enter the regime side officially as they are too afraid of being arrested and dying in a Syrian gaol. Subsequently, they have signed their pact with the devil and their copy reflects a deep bias. If a regime won’t even let me have a journalist visa to visit the capital one day, then all of the appalling things I am told about human rights violations and torture must be correct, is the mindset.

This mindset is apparent in the reporting. Journalists camped in Aleppo all used the word “fall” when the city was captured by Syrian army forces. And previous that moment, their reports were also tilted against Assad and his allies. An extraordinary amount of coverage was given to reports of civilian casualties from Russian bombing and the rescuing of victims trapped under rubble by the so-called White Helmets who even the most naive hack in Aleppo knows are opposition fighters on alternate days. Low hanging fruit? Possibly, as these stories write themselves. But the vocabulary is key and the Russians are always portrayed as an evil empire wishing to conquer humble, innocent people. But it is seldom reported that opposition groups in the region also had a lot of support from Aleppo residents, certainly at the beginning of the war back in 2011.

It’s an identical story in Mosul, but the boot is on the other foot.

With the battle to retake the city, western journalists seem reluctant to report on the civilian casualties leaving only the Russian network RT to do this.

Until just recently, when US bombing appear to have killed over 140 in one day in Mosul, journalists – American journalists in particular – seem to almost bypass the subject altogether while their colleagues in Aleppo were obsessed with it, when it was Russian planes dropping the bombs. What we are seeing in Aleppo is a slick American PR machine with the unwritten rules being quite rigorously applied and no one reporting on the real agenda Trump has there. Journalists are keen to write up the stories which paint the US operation as a liberation, almost a noble quest to save the world from the evil of ISIS. The constant accounts which are largely favourable to the ‘liberators’ win prizes for those hacks: special access to scoops.

But is the West getting all the information about the hideous brutality of the campaign with what could be the largest humanitarian disaster to date in the region? Unlikely. Journalists who feature this will be sidelined by US generals, just in exactly the same way I was in Afghanistan.

What we should be asking ourselves is in this environment of biased reporting, are we not encouraging a parallel of fake news to be fed into the system? The temptation from those peddling fake news is too great when they see how vulnerable journalists are to being manipulated. It’s a similar narrative with the celebrity bloggers who are given the bandwidth as bona fide journalists, like former British UK Louise Mensch who has set herself up as a conspiracy theorist recently claiming that President Putin was responsible for the murder of the Breibart founder – without a single shred of evidence to back up her assertions.

The push for Raqqa is expected to kick off in May. There will not be much reporting on civilian causalities or the atrocities expected to be carried out by the various groups who have been given their lottery tickets. Again, it will be one-sided reporting from embedded journalists who will be anxious to please their hosts and will be happy to be led to what they want them to see.

But it’s worse than that. In this atmosphere of cash strapped media giants who are scrambling to ‘break news’ many take short cuts with dire consequences. I have written about my comical experience in the past with CNN, where I was ordered by a loud mouthed producer to “sex up” a report (which I refused to do) and we all know of the incident where the US cable giant was stung in Syria by an activist paid by opposition groups to feed the US network with fake news.

But when you look at how many big guns in the news sector get their raw material you begin to wonder if anything we are reading from the Syrian battlefield has any resemblance to facts. Recently a bombing carried out by US forces in Idlib, Syria killed 42 civilians praying in a mosque and was reported by the giants of the MSM as from Russian planes. These agencies all cited an anti-Assad one man outfit based in the UK which is funded by the EU and has a very distinct agenda to report biased facts which please its masters in Brussels. After hours passed many corrected their initial reports but the incident is a good example which can he held up to demonstrate how sloppy and biased MSM is when most of its ‘facts’ are being reprinted verbatim from a propaganda outfit which is fed entirely by activists from the Syrian opposition.

You couldn’t make it up.

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Journalist Martin Jay recently won the U.N.’s prestigious Elizabeth Neuffer Memorial Prize (UNCA) in New York in 2016, for his journalism work in the Middle East. He is based in Beirut and can be followed at @MartinRJay.

READ MORE SYRIA NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire Syria Files

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