Monday, 20 June 2016
War Crime: Syrian Soldiers Attacked with Chemical Weapons; Western Media Silent
[ Ed. note – This chemical attack, which took place Thursday in the Damascus suburb of East Ghouta, has gone almost totally unremarked upon by Western media. The only report I could find on it was a Reuters story, which includes a claim by one of the presumably “moderate” terrorists that the attack never happened, as well as a declaration from the discredited Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that it had “no information” about it. That’s it. That’s the only Western coverage I could find on it.
When I was in Syria in 2014, we saw Syrian soldiers guarding the streets in central Damascus. A good many of them were not much older than kids. These people have gallantly and heroically defended their country, and a chemical attack upon them is a war crime. Where do you suppose the terrorists got their chemical weapons? For many of us that’s not terribly hard to imagine. Below you’ll find a report from Press TV on the chemical attack, followed by some information on a new book on the Syrian conflict, “The Dirty War on Syria,” by Professor Tim Anderson. ]
‘Militants Use Poisonous Weapons Against Syria Soldiers’
Syria’s official news agency says foreign-backed militants have used “poisonous” weapons to attack government soldiers in a suburb of the country’s capital.
“Terrorist organizations yesterday attacked a Syrian Army position in Eastern Ghouta, in the Damascus countryside, using poisonous substances,” the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported.
The materials “had effects on the nervous system which harmed a number of the troops by suffocation and respiratory problems,” it added.
Television footage, meanwhile, showed troops struggling to breathe, with one soldier saying those affected had experienced “a feeling of almost paralysis and an increase in saliva in the mouth.”
Another soldier, interviewed in hospital, said a “smoke bomb” landed and then he started to feel the symptoms.
Damascus surrendered its stockpiles of chemical weapons to a joint mission led by the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) following an attack in Ghouta two years ago.
UN investigators established that sarin gas was used in Eastern Ghouta in the 2013 attack which allegedly killed 1,429 people, including at least 426 children.
The chemical attack came amid a red line set by the US to attack the Syrian government if it used chemical weapons in fighting foreign-backed militants.
The US government then came under pressure to mount airstrikes on Syria but Washington reportedly found no hard evidence of a government involvement to make a case for an offensive.
According to reports, the rockets used in the assault were handmade and contained sarin.
Last December, Ahmed al-Gaddafi al-Qahsi, a cousin of former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, alleged that the chemical weapons used in Ghouta were stolen from Libya and later smuggled into Syria via Turkey.
The United Nations has confirmed that both mustard and chlorine gas have been used possibly by Daesh and other militants in attacks during the war in Syria and Iraq.
‘Playing game’ with Nusra Front
On Thursday, Russia’s foreign minister said he believes the US may hope to use al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria to unseat Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government.
Sergei Lavrov said in St. Petersburg that the reluctance of US-backed opposition groups to distance themselves from the Nusra Front has been a major reason behind continuing fighting.
The US could be “playing some kind of game here, and they may want to keep al-Nusra in some form and use it to topple the regime,” Lavrov said.
Lavrov added that he raised the issue in a recent phone conversation with US Secretary of State John Kerry who denied any such plans.
“But why then the Americans with all their potential can’t force the units they have been working with to leave the territories controlled by bandits and terrorists,” Lavrov said.
Russia at some point issued an ultimatum for opposition units to leave Nusra-controlled areas or face airstrikes, but later agreed to give more time for them to pull out.
Spared the Russian strikes, Nusra has used the moment to replenish its supplies and receive reinforcements, Lavrov said.
A senior US defense official said Thursday that Russian aircraft conducted a series of airstrikes in Syria against US-backed forces.
“The Dirty War on Syria”: A Systematic Critique of Western Fabrications, by Tim Anderson
Global Research Publishers has launched the print version of Professor Tim Anderson’s essential book on Syria.
Tim Anderson has written the best systematic critique of western fabrications justifying the war against the Assad government.
No other text brings together all the major accusations and their effective refutation.
This text is essential reading for all peace and justice activists. -James Petras, Author and Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York, Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.
Tim Anderson’s important new book, titled “The Dirty War on Syria” discusses US naked aggression – “rely(ing) on a level of mass disinformation not seen in living memory,” he explains.
ISIS is the pretext for endless war without mercy, Assad the target, regime change the objective, wanting pro-Western puppet governance replacing Syrian sovereign independence.
There’s nothing civil about war in Syria, raped by US imperialism, partnered with rogue allies. Anderson’s book is essential reading to understand what’s going on. –Stephen Lendman, Distinguished Author and Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), Host of the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
Professor Anderson demonstrates unequivocally through carefully documented research that America’s “Moderate Opposition” are bona fide Al Qaeda affiliated terrorists created and protected by the US and its allies, recruited and trained by Saudi Arabia, Turkey, in liaison with Washington and Brussels.
Through careful analysis, professor Anderson reveals the “unspoken truth”: the “war on terrorism” is fake, the United States is a “State sponsor of terrorism” involved in a criminal undertaking. Michel Chossudovsky, Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization, Professor of Economics (Emeritus), University of Ottawa.
The Dirty War on Syria has relied on a level of mass disinformation not seen in living memory. In seeking ‘regime change’ the big powers sought to hide their hand, using proxy armies of ‘Islamists’, demonising the Syrian Government and constantly accusing it of atrocities. In this way Syrian President Bashar al Assad, a mild-mannered eye doctor, became the new evil in the world.
The popular myths of this dirty war – that it is a ‘civil war’, a ‘popular revolt’ or a sectarian conflict – hide a murderous spree of ‘regime change’ across the region. The attack on Syria was a necessary consequence of Washington’s ambition, stated openly in 2006, to create a ‘New Middle East’. After the destruction of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, Syria was next in line.
Five years into this war the evidence is quite clear and must be set out in detail. The terrible massacres were mostly committed by the western backed jihadists, then blamed on the Syrian Army. The western media and many western NGOs parroted the official line. Their sources were almost invariably those allied to the ‘jihadists’. Contrary to the myth that the big powers now have their own ‘war on terror’, those same powers have backed every single anti-government armed group in Syria, ‘terrorists’ in any other context, adding thousands of ‘jihadis’ from dozens of countries.
Yet in Syria this dirty war has confronted a disciplined national army which did not disintegrate along sectarian lines. Despite terrible destruction and loss of life, Syria has survived, deepening its alliance with Russia, Iran, the Lebanese Resistance, the secular Palestinians and, more recently, with Iraq. The tide has turned against Washington, and that will have implications beyond Syria.
As western peoples we have been particularly deceived by this dirty war, reverting to our worst traditions of intervention, racial prejudice and poor reflection on our own histories. This book tries to tell its story while rescuing some of the better western traditions: the use of reason, ethical principle and the search for independent evidence.
Here is a brief overview of the chapters:
Chapter 1, ‘Syria and Washington’s ‘New Middle East’’ puts Syria in context of the US plans for a ‘New Middle East’, the latest chapter in a longer history of US attempts to dominate the region.
Chapter 2, ‘Barrel Bombs, Partisan Sources and War Propaganda’addresses the problem of reporting and reading the Syrian crisis. Media channels have shown a hyper-reliance on partisan sources, committed to the war and denigrating the Syrian Army. This is the key barrier to understanding the controversies around chemical weapons, civilian massacres and the levels of support for or opposition to President Assad.
Chapter 3, ‘Daraa 2011: Another Islamist Insurrection’ reconstructs, from a range of sources, the Saudi-backed Islamist insurrection in Daraa in March 2011. Those armed attacks were quite distinct from the political reform rallies, which the Islamists soon drove off the streets.
Chapter 4, ‘Bashar al Assad and Political Reform’ explains the political reform movement from the time Bashar assumed the presidency in the year 2000 to the beginning of the crisis in 2011. From this we can see that most opposition groups were committed to reform within a Syrian context, with virtually all opposing attacks on the Syrian state. The chapter then reviews the role of Bashar as a reformer, and the evidence on his popularity.
Chapter 5, ‘The Empire’s Jihadis’ looks at the collaboration between Salafist political Islam and the imperial powers in the Middle East. Distinct from the anti-imperial Islamic currents in Iran and south Lebanon, Salafist political Islam has become a sectarian force competing with Arab nationalism across Egypt, Palestine and Syria, and drawing on long standing collaborative relations with the big powers. This history provides important background to the character of Syria’s Islamist ‘revolution’, and its various slogans.
Chapter 6, ‘Embedded Media, Embedded Watchdogs’ identifies the propaganda techniques of media channels and the network of ‘human rights’ bodies (Human Rights Watch, Avaaz, etc) which function as megaphones and ‘moderators’ for the Washington agenda. Many have become fierce advocates for ‘humanitarian war’. A number of newer western NGOs (e.g. The Syria Campaign, The White Helmets) have been created by Wall Street agencies specifically for the dirty war on Syria. A number of their fabrications are documented here.
Chapter 7, ‘The Houla Massacre Revisited’ considers in detail the evidence from the first major massacre designed (following success of the technique over Libya) to influence UN Security Council consideration of military intervention. While the first UN inquiry group, actually in Syria, found contradictory evidence on this massacre, a second UN group outside Syria and co-chaired by a US diplomat, tried to blame the Syrian Government. Yet more than a dozen witnesses blamed Farouq FSA Islamists, who killed pro-government villagers and took over the area, holding it for some months. Several other ‘false flag’ massacres are noted.
Chapter 8, ‘Chemical Fabrications: The East Ghouta Incident’ details the second major ‘false flag’ incident of international significance. This incident in August 2013, which nearly sparked a major escalation involving US missile attacks on Syria, was used to accuse the Syrian Government of killing hundreds of civilians, including children, with chemical weapons. Within a fairly short time multiple sources of independent evidence (including North American evidence) disproved these accusations. Nevertheless, Syria’s opponents have repeated the false accusations, to this day, as though they were fact.
Chapter 9 , ‘The Responsibility to Protect’ and the Double Game’ addresses a recent political doctrine, a subset of ‘humanitarian intervention’ popularised to add to the imperial toolkit. The application of this doctrine in Libya was disastrous for that little country. Fortunately the attempts to use it in Syria failed.
Chapter 10, ‘Health and Sanctions’ documents the NATObacked Islamist attacks on Syria’s health system, linked to the impact of western economic sanctions. These twin currents have caused great damage to Syrian public health. Such attacks carry no plausible motive of seeking local popular support, so we must interpret them as part of an overall strategy to degrade the Syrian state, rendering it more vulnerable to outside intervention.
Chapter 11 ‘Washington, Terrorism and The Islamic State (ISIS)’, documents the links between the big powers and the latest peak terrorist group they claim to be fighting. Only evidence can help develop informed opinion on this contentious matter, but the evidence is overwhelming. There is little ideological difference between the various Salafi-Islamist groups, and Washington and its allies have financed and armed every one of them.
Chapter 12, ‘Western Intervention and the Colonial Mind’ discusses the western cultural mindset that underlies persistent violations of the rights of other peoples.
Chapter 13 ‘Towards an Independent Middle East’, considers the end-game in the Syrian crisis, and its implications for the Middle East region. At tremendous cost the Syrian Arab Republic, its army and its people, have successfully resisted aggression from a variety of powerful enemies. Syria’s survival is due to its resilience and internal unity, bolstered by support from some strong allies. The introduction of Russian air power in late September 2015 was important. So too were the coordinated ground forces from Iran, Iraq and Lebanon, in support of an independent Syria.
When the attacks on Syria abate the Middle East seems set to be transformed, with greater political will and military preparedness on the part of an expanded Axis of Resistance. That will signal the beginning of the end for Washington’s 15 year spree of bloodshed and ‘regime change’ across the entire region.