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Why Everything You've Read About Syria and Iraq Could be Wrong
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The Iraqi army, backed by US-led airstrikes, is trying to capture east Mosul at the same time as the Syrian army and its Shia paramilitary allies are fighting their way into east Aleppo. An estimated 300 civilians have been killed in Aleppo by government artillery and bombing in the last fortnight, and in Mosul there are reportedly some 600 civilian dead over a month.

Despite these similarities, the reporting by the international media of these two sieges is radically different.

In Mosul, civilian loss of life is blamed on Isis, with its indiscriminate use of mortars and suicide bombers, while the Iraqi army and their air support are largely given a free pass. Isis is accused of preventing civilians from leaving the city so they can be used as human shields.

Contrast this with Western media descriptions of the inhuman savagery of President Assad’s forces indiscriminately slaughtering civilians regardless of whether they stay or try to flee. The UN chief of humanitarian affairs, Stephen O’Brien, suggested this week that the rebels in east Aleppo were stopping civilians departing – but unlike Mosul, the issue gets little coverage.

One factor making the sieges of east Aleppo and east Mosul so similar, and different, from past sieges in the Middle East, such as the Israeli siege of Beirut in 1982 or of Gaza in 2014, is that there are no independent foreign journalists present. They are not there for the very good reason that Isis imprisons and beheads foreigners while Jabhat al-Nusra, until recently the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, is only a shade less bloodthirsty and generally holds them for ransom.

These are the two groups that dominate the armed opposition in Syria as a whole. In Aleppo, though only about 20 per cent of the 10,000 fighters are Nusra, it is they – along with their allies in Ahrar al-Sham – who are leading the resistance.

Unsurprisingly, foreign journalists covering developments in east Aleppo and rebel-held areas of Syria overwhelmingly do so from Lebanon or Turkey. A number of intrepid correspondents who tried to do eyewitness reporting from rebel-held areas swiftly found themselves tipped into the boots of cars or otherwise incarcerated.

Experience shows that foreign reporters are quite right not to trust their lives even to the most moderate of the armed opposition inside Syria. But, strangely enough, the same media organisations continue to put their trust in the veracity of information coming out of areas under the control of these same potential kidnappers and hostage takers. They would probably defend themselves by saying they rely on non-partisan activists, but all the evidence is that these can only operate in east Aleppo under license from the al-Qaeda-type groups.

It is inevitable that an opposition movement fighting for its life in wartime will only produce, or allow to be produced by others, information that is essentially propaganda for its own side. The fault lies not with them but a media that allows itself to be spoon-fed with dubious or one-sided stories.

For instance, the film coming out of east Aleppo in recent weeks focuses almost exclusively on heartrending scenes of human tragedy such as the death or maiming of civilians. One seldom sees shots of the 10,000 fighters, whether they are wounded or alive and well.

None of this is new. The present wars in the Middle East started with the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 which was justified by the supposed threat from Saddam Hussein’s possession of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Western journalists largely went along with this thesis, happily citing evidence from the Iraqi opposition who predictably confirmed the existence of WMD.

Some of those who produced these stories later had the gall to criticise the Iraqi opposition for misleading them, as if they had any right to expect unbiased information from people who had dedicated their lives to overthrowing Saddam Hussein or, in this particular case, getting the Americans to do so for them.

Much the same self-serving media credulity was evident in Libya during the 2011 Nato-backed uprising against Muammar Gaddafi.

Atrocity stories emanating from the Libyan opposition, many of which were subsequently proved to be baseless by human rights organisations, were rapidly promoted to lead the news, however partial the source.

The Syrian war is especially difficult to report because Isis and various al-Qaeda clones made it too dangerous to report from within opposition-held areas. There is a tremendous hunger for news from just such places, so the temptation is for the media give credence to information they get second hand from people who could in practice only operate if they belong to or are in sympathy with the dominant jihadi opposition groups.

It is always a weakness of journalists that they pretend to excavate the truth when in fact they are the conduit rather than the originator of information produced by others in their own interests. Reporters learn early that people tell them things because they are promoting some cause which might be their own career or related to bureaucratic infighting or, just possibly, hatred of lies and injustice.

A word here in defence of the humble reporter in the field: usually, it is not he or she, but the home office or media herd instinct, that decides the story of the day. Those closest to the action may be dubious about some juicy tale which is heading the news, but there is not much they can do about it.

Thus, in 2002 and 2003, several New York Times journalists wrote stories casting doubt on WMD only to find them buried deep inside the newspaper which was led by articles proving that Saddam had WMD and was a threat to the world.

ORDER IT NOW

Journalists and public alike should regard all information about Syria and Iraq with reasoned scepticism. They should keep in mind the words of Lakhdar Brahimi, the former UN and Arab League Special Envoy to Syria. Speaking after he had resigned in frustration in 2014, he said that “everybody had their agenda and the interests of the Syrian people came second, third or not at all”.

The quote comes from The Battle for Syria: International Rivalry in the New Middle East by Christopher Phillips, which is one of the best informed and non-partisan accounts of the Syrian tragedy yet published. He judiciously weighs the evidence for rival explanations for what happened and why. He understands the degree to which the agenda and pace events in Syria were determined externally by the intervention of foreign powers pursuing their own interests.

Overall, government experts did better than journalists, who bought into simple-minded explanations of developments, convinced that Assad was always on the verge of being overthrown.

Phillips records that at a high point of the popular uprising in July 2011, when the media was assuming that Assad was finished, that the long-serving British ambassador in Damascus, Simon Collis, wrote that “Assad can still probably count on the support of 30-40 per cent of the population.”

The French ambassador Eric Chevallier was similarly cautious, only to receive a classic rebuke from his masters in Paris who said: “Your information does not interest us. Bashar al-Assad must fall and will fall.”

(Republished from The Independent by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: American Media, Iraq, Syria 
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  1. The Syrian war is especially difficult to report because Isis and various al-Qaeda clones made it too dangerous to report from within opposition-held areas.

    You seem to believe (or pretend to believe) that the media still have some integrity, and so if credible reports from within opposition-held areas were available it would make a difference in reporting…

    How could anyone still believe it? It’s pure Orwellian Ministry of Truth; War Is Peace, Ignorance Is Strength.

    • Replies: @Avery
    , @Che Guava
  2. Andrei Martyanov [AKA "SmoothieX12"] says: • Website

    Overall, government experts did better than journalists, who bought into simple-minded explanations of developments, convinced that Assad was always on the verge of being overthrown.

    It all depends on definition of “better”, if the bottom line is a main-stream so called “journalism” then, yes, getting your head slightly above the surface of fecal matter is somewhat of an improvement. The larger issue, however, is the fact that even professional analytical or intelligence “experts” in US are really not that well aware about the dynamics of the events and time after time it was demonstrated with really dramatic results: be it Syria, Ukraine, Russia what have you. Somebody was making all those decisions, somebody was briefing echelons of power top-bottom. It is not funny anymore, it is down right dangerous because disoriented superpower can become literally a loose cannon. We are not out the woods yet, even with Trump being a President-elect. As per US MSM–they are dead by means of becoming a laughing stock of the world. That, BTW, has a massive geostrategic implications.

  3. unit472 says:

    Why Assad ‘must go’ has never been clear, at least as to why the US and Europe need him gone. He may not be particularly popular in Syria but he isn’t a member of the EU who requires democratic legitimacy to rule. OTOH there were plenty of good reasons to topple Saddam Hussein. The whole WMD was always a bit dubious as we were talking about chemical weapons which any nation could cobble together in a pinch. Effective biological agents require a lot more expertise to develop and to imagine Iraq could weaponize something Great Powers had never been able to do was absurd.

    Iraq was in violation of the 1991 ceasefire. What more was needed?

  4. Avery says:
    @Mao Cheng Ji

    Well said.

    Cockburn is a member of the disinformation corps, aka MSM.
    The title {Why Everything You’ve Read About Syria and Iraq Could be Wrong} is indeed straight from Orwellian Ministry of Truth.

    They are either too stupid or too arrogant to see that the jig is up: fewer and fewer people in US are believing their manufactured lies.

  5. Everything you have read about Syria and Iraq in columns by Patrick Cockburn is wrong–that is certainly on target.

  6. Diogenes says:

    For a while now I have noticed cynical dispersions about the credibility of Patrick Cockburn on this opinion platform. I have seen him interviewed many times on the Real News.com and found no reason to suspect his credibility on matters related to the Middle East. He is held in high regard in journalist circles and thus finds himself reproduced on this website.

  7. utu says:
    @Diogenes

    “noticed cynical dispersions” – Are all well deserved. He earned them. What was he writing about Syria 2, 6, 12, 24 months ago? He did not know then that we were subjected to massive propaganda and disinformation campaign by MSM about Syria?

    • Replies: @David
    , @Randal
  8. @unit472

    What do you know of Syria, or Syrians? Refugees I know, to a man, decry the fact that they were forced to leave their homes “by gunmen” who took over and replaced the government. They aren’t talking about Assad and the government forces, but the ‘rebels’ we organized, armed and paid to foment a sectarian war – whether that unseats Assad or not.

    Those Syrians I have met seem almost taken aback to find that we, in the civilized west, blame Assad for their misfortunes. I think you’ll find that the anti-Assad Syrians have been safely resident in the west long before the ‘balloon went up’ there four years ago.

    • Replies: @RadicalCenter
  9. Saddam invaded Iran and Kuwait and massacred both Kurds and Shiites. Who was going to believe him? Assad’s father slaughtered tens of thousands of Sunni Arabs in Hama and Bashar went after unarmed demonstrators. His credibility was shot. Like it or not, murderous dictators tend to get the short end of the stick, credibility-wise, and for good reasons.

  10. Dan Hayes says:
    @Diogenes

    Diogenes:

    SECONDED!

    I share your views in no uncertain terms. I have been puzzled by all the recent carping on this site about Cockburn’s credibility. These criticisms somehow reminds me of vendettas exercised against some opera singers by their partisan critics. These criticisms are way over the top!

  11. I find it hilarious whenever a major network based in New York goes to their overseas reporter to tell us what happened that day in Iraq or Syria. The reporter is often in London! Hey, it’s closer!

    Some info from my blog:

    Jan 31, 2016 – Why Must Assad Go?

    For the past several years, the Obama administration repeatedly proclaimed that the internationally recognized leader of Syria must step down. Why? There has been no US Congressional declaration. There have been no UN resolutions. The only one in Congress who openly asked why “Assad must go” is the bold and brilliant Tulsi Gabbard, a Democratic Congressman from Hawaii.

    Assad is who we want in charge (pictured with his wife). He is a progressive Arab and protects minorities, including two million Christians. He was studying in London to become an eye doctor when his brother was killed in an accident, so he went home to prepare to assume control when his ailing father died. His dad had joined President Bush’s coalition and sent troops to fight with the allies in the 1991 Gulf War. The Assads maintained an orderly and peaceful nation and threatened no one.

    For unknown reasons, our CIA began working with the Saudis, Turks, and Israel to overthrow Assad by sending billions of dollars in weapons and assorted terrorists to Syria, just like they had done in Libya and Kosovo. They promoted a strange story that Assad was evil because he once used chemical weapons against their terrorist/rebels. A UN investigation determined that dangerous industrial chlorine gas was used in the incident, but that is not an official chemical weapon. Moreover, it came from Turkey and was used by the rebels shortly after Obama announced that the use of chemical weapons by Assad would cross a line and prompt American intervention.

    Assad assumed that if he cooperated with the Americans they would leave him alone, so he agreed to turn over all his chemical weapon stockpiles, which Syria safely maintained for decades as a deterrent to an Israeli attack. The USA sent a special team and ship that disposed of all Syrian chemical weapons. But the hostile rhetoric along with weapons and foreign fighters continued to flow to Syria, and the Obama team resumed chanting: “Assad Must Go! Meanwhile, thousands of Syrians died and millions were displaced while Assad was blamed for using his Army to protect Syria from these foreign funded Islamic fighters.

    Why did Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama cause massive death and destruction trying to oust Assad, and think that a loose collection of Islamic “moderates” could rule Syria? Every group of armed moderates our CIA sent into Syria immediately joined a larger Islamic terror group. The effort was a disastrous failure, yet continues. Why not help Assad restore order so that millions of Syrian refugees can return home?

    Luckily, Russia intervened to save Assad, but the USA was angry! Why? If NATO was truly interested in defending Europe, it would send troops to help Assad restore peace so Europe could ship their million unwanted Syrian refugees back home. Trump is the only presidential candidate who says Assad must stay. Bill O’Reilly asked why, and Trump responded: “Because I don’t’ want to run Syria, do you?”

  12. @Carlton Meyer

    Carlton Meyer

    For unknown reasons, our CIA began working with the Saudis, Turks, and Israel to overthrow Assad by sending billions of dollars in weapons and assorted terrorists to Syria, just like they had done in Libya and Kosovo.

    Perhaps a start would be to look to the discovery of a major oil find in the Golan Heights. The developing firm seems mainly American and Israeli with the delightful Larry Summers on the board of Directors.

    http://robertmagill.wordpress.com

  13. Greg Bacon says: • Website

    The war in Iraq was conceived by 25 neoconservative intellectuals, most of them Jewish, who are pushing President Bush to change the course of history. Two of them, journalists William Kristol and Charles Krauthammer, say it’s possible.

    This is a war of an elite. [Tom] Friedman laughs: I could give you the names of 25 people (all of whom are at this moment within a five-block radius of this office) who, if you had exiled them to a desert island a year and a half ago, the Iraq war would not have happened.

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/features/white-man-s-burden-1.14110

    All one has to do is to change Iraq with Libya, then Syria and this news story stays current.

    Yes Tommie, war is soooo funny.

  14. @Diogenes

    I think the trouble is that when he makes en-passant references to “Trump’s racism” or the ‘demonisation and collective punishment of Muslims’ after 9/11 it undermines his credibility here. You think – if he’s so wrong about something I know about, what else is he wrong on?

    But you have to remember that at the Independent, who I presume are paying him, Trump’s racism is so obvious as to be a truism.

    “Didn’t he say Mexicans were rapists? And don’t we all know about the waves of toxic Islamophobia sweeping the West?”

    If this stuff is the sugar which coats the pill of an unpalatable message (i.e. “our” media is lying to us about Syria), then if Indie readers start to doubt one thing they’re told, who knows what else they may ask questions about? My eyes were opened when years after the event I discovered the truth about the evil Iraqis stealing all the incubators and leaving the babies to die in 1993, a story which at the time outraged me.

    Two links, one about the current PR campaign on Syria

    http://www.alternet.org/world/inside-shadowy-pr-firm-thats-driving-western-opinion-towards-regime-change-syria

    and an old PR campaign in Iraq (caveat emptor in that Soros helps fund the site)

    https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/2016/10/02/fake-news-and-false-flags-how-the-pentagon-paid-a-british-pr-firm-500m-for-top-secret-iraq-propaganda/

    • Replies: @Randal
  15. @Carlton Meyer

    Why did Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama cause massive death and destruction trying to oust Assad, and think that a loose collection of Islamic “moderates” could rule Syria?

    Why, they want to break the so-called Shia Crescent, that represents, in the aftermath of the Iraq war, growing Iranian influence in the middle-east. Iran being, since the 1979 revolution, one of the centers of anti-imperialist resistance in the world.

    And in order to break the Shia Crescent and weaken Iranian influence, they’re trying to create a militant-sectarian Sunni (ISIS/Al Qaeda-like) entity (preferably sponsored/controlled by Saudi Arabia) right in the middle of this crescent: in eastern Syria – western Iraq.

  16. utu says:
    @Carlton Meyer

    Your Question: “For unknown reasons, our CIA began working with the Saudis, Turks, and Israel to overthrow Assad”

    And this is Your Answer: “He is a progressive Arab and protects minorities, including two million Christians. “

  17. Randal says:
    @Diogenes

    Assuming you meant to write aspersions, I agree.

    I’ve followed the Syrian war from before the beginning, and as far as I can recall Cockburn has always been one of the better mainstream media journalists on the topic (indeed I’ve found him to be good on past wars as well). I don’t always agree with him, and for sure he has the biases that all humans have, but I’ve always found him to be a good journalist.

  18. Randal says:
    @Johann Ricke

    I don’t recall any big opposition to Saddam’s invasion of Iran by the US regime – quite the contrary. Of course, his invading Kuwait, a US protectorate, was a wholly different kettle of fish – an outrage and a shocking breach of universal principles that must be defended at all costs.

    As for “murderous dictators tend to get the short end of the stick, credibility-wise”, this is laughably naïve. How much credibility a murderous dictator is awarded in the US political establishment generally depends upon whether or not the murderous dictator in question is “our SOB” or not, and how useful he is.

  19. Che Guava says:
    @Mao Cheng Ji

    Mr. Cockburn has written from Syria, I didn’t always agree (when he had much to say optimistic re. the US-Saudi-UK-Gulf state supported terrorists). He has much more experience of reality there than any posters on this comments thread, and seems to concede that the ‘opposition’ are a pack of lunatics.

    • Replies: @Mao Cheng Ji
  20. CK says:

    ” There is a tremendous hunger for news from just such places, …”
    Not really. That is the egotism of the chattering class masquerading as consumer demand.

  21. nsa says:

    There are lots of ways to lie….this dishonest article is a good example of lying by omission. Any mention of the overwhelming role of the jooies in the destruction of israel’s enemies in the ME?

  22. Randal says:
    @Anonymous Nephew

    But you have to remember that at the Independent, who I presume are paying him, Trump’s racism is so obvious as to be a truism.

    Exactly so.

    Cockburn is a man of the old British (broadly speaking) political left and he’s not immune to the biases of that grouping. As with any journalist or commentator, one learns to recognise when these kinds of biases are operating, and the lies about Trump are pretty much universal in such circles. But he’s not an interventionist propagandist as most establishment journalists are, and as Che Guava notes above, he’s a man with real on the ground experience that is not to be underestimated.

  23. @Che Guava

    Yeah, I saw other comments to the same effect. I have nothing against Mr. Cockburn, but when I read the piece I felt that it severely underestimates the extent of MSM corruption.

    Perhaps Mr. Cockburn and The Independent can be excluded, I don’t know, don’t read them that much. But many other British media – The Guardian, for example – often feel even worse, slimier, more wicked somehow, than their US counterparts. I don’t think there are any excuses (like: not enough reporters on the ground); what they print is just plain disinformation… Same as vis-a-vis Iraq in 2003, as I remember…

    • Replies: @Randal
    , @Che Guava
    , @Che Guava
  24. @Randal

    Why Everything You’ve Read About Syria and Iraq Could be Wrong

    Unless you’ve read MoonofAlabama
    http://www.moonofalabama.org/2013/09/a-short-history-of-the-war-on-syria-2006-2014.html

    or

    SicSemperTyrannis
    http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/syria/

    Both have gotten Syria “right” for years.

    —-

    The present wars in the Middle East started with the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003

    Wrong again.
    The present wars — meaning the wars of the post-Cold War era — in the Middle East started in 1990 – 1991, with George H W Bush’s war on Iraq.

    And no, Randle, G H W B’s assault on Iraq had very little to do with “outrage” over Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait; that was as much a mendacious pretext as the infants dumped from their incubators PR stunt. Check out Jeffrey Engel’s conclusions after examining the G H W Bush archives on the Bush 41 team’s decision-making — https://www.amazon.com/Into-Desert-Reflections-Gulf-War/dp/0199796289/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1460212931&sr=8-1&keywords=into+the+desert

    Just the other day whistleblower John Kiriakou, the CIA analyst who was imprisoned for speaking out against torture, told several members of the audience at the People’s Tribunal on the Iraq War, that he was on the scene and part of the conversation on the day after the initial assault in Iraq when a U S military leader was asked how military operations were progressing.
    “Just great,” he responded; “We should be in Tehran” in very short order.”

    ooops

    • Replies: @Randal
    , @george Archers
  25. Randal says:
    @Mao Cheng Ji

    Perhaps Mr. Cockburn and The Independent can be excluded

    No, the Independent is absolutely part of the corrupt social liberal/globalist propaganda operation that constitutes most of the mainstream media in the countries of the US sphere.

    Cockburn is just of sufficient journalistic stature that they publish him anyway despite his sometimes politically incorrect opinions.

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  26. Che Guava says:
    @Carlton Meyer

    Small correction, Russia did or supervised most of the disposal work under that agreement.

    I have no doubt that it was conducted conscientiously on the part of both them and the Syrian government, yet we still have periodic claims that they are responsible for gas attacks, but anyone that reads knows that the weapons for the worst came through Turkey (and I don’t think they have a binary chemical weapons stockpile, so likely from the US or UK).

    Perhaps some captured weapons, at times.

    The chlorine gas for the recent attacks may well have been home-made by the terrorists. That is not difficult.

    … but always reported by the lying Western press as if Syrian govt. forces must be responsible.

    Very bad.

    Meanwhile, Israel maintains the world’s third or fourth biggest nuclear arsenal (including very enhanced fall-out weapons, that I is the only way I can read ‘Samson option’), and God only knows what in the way of biological agents.

  27. Randal says:
    @SolontoCroesus

    And no, Randle, G H W B’s assault on Iraq had very little to do with “outrage” over Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait

    I think you’ve missed the sarcasm in the comment to which your reply is addressed.

    • Replies: @SolontoCroesus
  28. Che Guava says:
    @Mao Cheng Ji

    Hello Cheng Ji.

    The Independent has a little more balance on the Mid-East and commentary in general. The Guardian, as you say, truly outdoes the NYT, for example, as pure slime, particularly with their 360° SJW bullshit and bright lineup of articles for distraction.

    OTOH, I never read the NYT anymore, wall-to-wall Zionist propaganda.

    Cockburn is very knowledgeable about his topics in general, particularly Iraq and Syria, suppose that is why Mr. Unz reprints his articles at times.

  29. Che Guava says:
    @Mao Cheng Ji

    You shouldn’t view the Graun (gaining that nickname for an ancient braindead typo ‘Grauniad’, which went to press) as only an English or Brit paper.

    It has US and Aus. editions now (at least), seems to be very popular and influential with feminists in particular, and with generation dummy-sucker safe-space types and the loony English-speaking left in general.

  30. @unit472

    What more was needed for us to justify intervening in Iraq and killing hundreds of thousands of people, displacing millions, borrowing more than ONE TRILLION DOLLARS (plus interest) on the backs of our taxpayers, and bringing home Americans’ sons in coffins or missing limbs or mentally ill? A LOT fucking more was needed.

    How about a genuine, credible threat to the lives or freedom of American people in America or in its waters? Hussein didn’t pose one based on info available then, or based on info available now years later.

    STOP THE DAMN WARS ALREADY. Let the savages kill and torture each other based on their Sunni versus Shia idiocy, based on tribalism, whatever they want to do, over there. Keep our troops and drones and sanctions out of their affairs, and keep them out of our countries.

    • Agree: John Jeremiah Smith
  31. @Diogenes

    Please explain why we should care what journalists think of cockburn or anything else.

    What evidence is there of these journalists’ integrity, objectivity, and sound judgment?

    What evidence is there that journalists typically share our love and concern for the historic American nation, the historic European nations, and their survival, safety, prosperity, independence, liberty, and culture?

    To Hell with “journalists” and their sick beliefs and ulterior agendas.

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  32. @Baldur Dasche

    You are right.

    Our family has Christian friends in NJ who fled Syria, and they wholeheartedly support Assad given the likely alternatives. Anyone calling for the overthrow of Assad should talk to people who fled Syria and find out what they actually think. Same with the Christian Syrian acquaintance I have here in California.

    Thank God the Russians’ interests, e.g. In keeping that naval base, have led them to fight so hard against the islamist animals trying to overthrow Assad. If it weren’t for Russia, “our” government’s supplying weapons and funds to ISIS, al-Nusra, and their ilk would have led to imposition of the most brutal anti-Christian, anti-woman, Gay-murdering, joy-killing, impoverishing, mind-deadening, stultifying sharia out to the Mediterranean.

    • Agree: Dan Hayes
  33. Biff says:
    @unit472

    Why Assad must go?

    Clearly in the way of a greater Israel – as was Saddam.

    • Replies: @annamaria
  34. David says:
    @utu

    Yeah, what was he writing months ago?

  35. Why write this piece, because, once you have read it, logically it must be wrong ?

  36. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    {Overall, government experts did better than journalists, who bought into simple-minded explanations of developments, convinced that Assad was always on the verge of being overthrown.}

    You are either dumb or playing it dumb. How many times you should be told that intervention in Syria was planted to partition regional states for the interest of the west and ‘greater Israel’. You are involved in this plot by promoting the terrorist kurds who are closely terrorizing and grabbing lands, like the criminal Zionist jews. Stop acting like a ignorant person to hide your cooperation with the criminal west.

    Everyone in the Middle East knows who are criminals. The western media are part of the criminal plot and should be destroyed.
    Long live Assad and death to enemies of Assad and Syrian people with their stooges ‘journalists’ as propagandists.

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  37. Randal says:
    @utu

    What was he writing about Syria 2, 6, 12, 24 months ago? He did not know then that we were subjected to massive propaganda and disinformation campaign by MSM about Syria?

    Cockburn has always been an independent voice on these issues. He hasn’t always gone as far as I’d like on many of them – he’s not a non-interventionist, but he’s always been quite a long way out on a limb (in the right direction) in relation to the bulk of the msm, especially pointing out the idiocy of establishment interventionism.

    Here he is back in the period (mid-2013) running up to the crucial rejection of the elite’s proposal to “Libya” Syria:

    The Media and Syria

    “Every time I come to Syria I am struck by how different the situation is on the ground from the way it is pictured in the outside world. The foreign media reporting of the Syrian conflict is surely as inaccurate and misleading as anything we have seen since the start of the First World War. I can’t think of any other war or crisis I have covered in which propagandistic, biased or second-hand sources have been so readily accepted by journalists as providers of objective facts.

    A result of these distortions is that politicians and casual newspaper or television viewers alike have never had a clear idea over the last two years of what is happening inside Syria. Worse, long-term plans are based on these misconceptions. A report on Syria published last week by the Brussels-based International Crisis Group says that “once confident of swift victory, the opposition’s foreign allies shifted to a paradigm dangerously divorced from reality”.

    Slogans replace policies: the rebels are pictured as white hats and the government supporters as black hats; given more weapons, the opposition can supposedly win a decisive victory; put under enough military pressure, President Bashar al-Assad will agree to negotiations for which a pre-condition is capitulation by his side in the conflict. One of the many drawbacks of the demonising rhetoric indulged in by the incoming US National Security Adviser Susan Rice, and William Hague, is that it rules out serious negotiations and compromise with the powers-that-be in Damascus. And since Assad controls most of Syria, Rice and Hague have devised a recipe for endless war while pretending humanitarian concern for the Syrian people.”

    • Replies: @utu
  38. annamaria says:
    @Biff

    The truth is coming out – literally: “TERRORISTS ESCAPE EAST ALEPPO IN STATE OF ANARCHY; LEADERSHIP COLLAPSES AND WHITE HELMETS TAKE OFF WITH THE RATS! http://syrianperspective.com/2016/12/terrorists-escape-east-aleppo-in-state-of-anarchy-leadership-collapses-and-white-helmets-take-off-with-the-rats-al-tal-liberated-abu-muhammad-al-jawlaani-to-be-assassinated.html#UIwXSu14gqWcArGE.99
    “The population has started to return and pick up the pieces after the plague of Zionist-supported and Saudi-funded terrorism…” The terrorism was enabled by the US. Sigh.

  39. Not content with merely turning Iraq, Libya and Syria into hell holes, the madmen of the West, now in the name of “compassion”appear hell-bent on weaponizing the resulting refugees. All under the nose of a supposedly independent news media.

    I don’t fear middle eastern tyrants half as much as I do the politicians that we in West keep on electing.

  40. annamaria says:
    @Johann Ricke

    “Saddam invaded Iran and Kuwait and massacred both Kurds and Shiites…”
    Here is a story of Rumsfeld, the US sec. of defense (and “politician and businessman”), cooperating with Saddam and providing him with real WMD: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-153210/Rumsfeld-helped-Iraq-chemical-weapons.html
    http://www.counterpunch.org/2004/06/17/how-reagan-armed-saddam-with-chemical-weapons/
    Please take a notice, that the information on the US-Saddam cooperation has been widely available on the Internet.
    “According to Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward, in a December 15, 1986 article, the CIA began to secretly supply Iraq with intelligence in 1984 that was used to “calibrate” mustard gas attacks on Iranian troops. Beginning in early 1985, the CIA provided Iraq with “data from sensitive US satellite reconnaissance photography … A 1994 US Senate report revealed that US companies were licenced by the commerce department to export a “witch’s brew” of biological and chemical materials, including bacillus anthracis (which causes anthrax) and clostridium botulinum (the source of botulism). The American Type Culture Collection made 70 shipments of the anthrax bug and other pathogenic agents.”
    Going back to credibility: Are you also aware that the current US administration has been cooperating with “moderate” jihadis in Syria and with neo-nazis in Ukraine? This cooperation has brought death and destruction on a massive scale to both Syria and Ukraine.

  41. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    {Some of those who produced these stories later had the gall to criticise the Iraqi opposition for misleading them, as if they had any right to expect unbiased information from people who had dedicated their lives to overthrowing Saddam Hussein or, in this particular case, getting the Americans to do so for them.}

    This kind of fake news and propaganda was done by the traitor kurds then and now, and the propaganda about Iran by the traitor kurds is getting around by the criminal ‘journalist’. You were one of the propagandist to paint the kurds as victim, like Zionist jews, where infarct many groups especially Iranians and the Shiite were killed by Saddam and the criminal western media only emphasized on their servants, informants and terrorists, the kurds.

    Today, everyone knows why these massacre are taking place by the criminal West – Israel – and their servants, the media and embedded ‘journalist’. The rest is history.

    Fuck off from the middle east now. We don’t need your lies.

  42. utu says:
    @Randal

    It is not good enough. By the pretense of being objective he really was on the wrong side. After Libya he knew how regime changes via rebels are performed. He knew what was going on but his only complaint was that the MSM were portraying things in terms of white and black hats. No question where did the rebels come from, who funded them, why MSM support them. I have no use for him.

    • Replies: @Randal
  43. Sean says:

    If he could have ever counted on 30% of the population, Assad would have won already and easily. He started with a professional army, heavy weapons and an air force against opponents who still lack any real anti aircraft capability.

    His problem is that few of those who are not against him (maybe 30%) are willing to fight for him, but his opponents are willing to die; an unequal struggle of Syrian men against Russian machines, but Assad will drown in the rising tide of blood nonetheless.

    • Replies: @Randal
    , @annamaria
  44. Wally says: • Website
    @unit472

    Because Jewish supremacists / Zionists say Assad must go.

    These are the same nutters which have been marketing the ‘6,000,000’ lie since at least 1869?

  45. Randal says:
    @Sean

    If he could have ever counted on 30% of the population, Assad would have won already and easily. He started with a professional army, heavy weapons and an air force against opponents who still lack any real anti aircraft capability.

    Nope, at any rate not if what you mean by “counted on” is what it means when used above, rather than some absurdly implausible usage to mean expecting them to fight like highly motivated 1st world professionals, or fanatics, for him.

    Politically, Assad has always had the support of a substantial proportion of the population, which has climbed as the war has gone on and become more openly sectarian on the part of the rebels. Militarily your characterisation of the situation is ridiculous. Assad had a mostly conscript, not professional, army which was furthermore an Arab, C20th in equipment and organisation, army. In 2011 few expected the Assad government to survive, and as a result few were willing to die for a losing cause, even if they preferred the government to the rebels.

    As I noted above, it’s extremely difficult to put down an armed rebellion that has significant popular support, if it has external support and cross-border sources of reinforcement, recuperation, rearmament and resupply, as the rebels did from the beginning.

    His problem is that few of those who are not against him (maybe 30%) are willing to fight for him, but his opponents are willing to die; an unequal struggle of Syrian men against Russian machines, but Assad will drown in the rising tide of blood nonetheless.

    In truth, the survival and likely now military victory of the Syrian government has been little short of miraculous, and while it has relied on substantial support from its allies Hezbollah, Iran and Russia to survive, that external support was only required because of the external backing for the armed rebellion. Most likely, had it not been for the US green-lighting its regional allies and protectorates to back the rebels, the Bashar Assad government would have suppressed this rebellion much as his father did a similar one a few decades ago – at far less cost to Syria and to the world than has been necessitated by the regime change attempt by the US and its proxies.

    • Replies: @Sean
  46. Randal says:
    @utu

    Clearly, we differ on this.

  47. Richard Engel is one of America’s lead propagandist in the Middle East. He is a rich Jewish American from NYC who traveled in the Arab world with his own money until he lined up “reporter” jobs for the big networks to report whatever he was told to report.

    One of his best ruses was when the Obama administration was under pressure to withdraw all American troops from Iraq, something Obama had promised. This had been delayed and delayed so they decided to just tell the American people it happened, even though 50,000 American soldiers remained in Iraq, to include five combat brigades that were renamed advisory brigades.

    But would a reporter act out such a bold lie, and participate in a Pentagon stunt showing the last combat troops leaving Iraq? NBC’s Richard Engel stepped up!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21pBMltJ1XE

    • Replies: @Anon
  48. annamaria says:
    @Sean

    “…an unequal struggle of Syrian men against Russian machines…”

    The “Russian machines” have arrived to Syria on the invitation of Syrian government years after the regime change, ISIS, and “moderate” jihadis (affiliated with Al Qaeda) have began making havoc in Syria. It is profitable for Israeli propagandists to insist that Assad confronts “Syrian men,” but the facts on the ground show that the sizable number of “rebels” are the uninvited guests that are supported either by Persian Gulf kingdoms (sending money, arms, and wahhaby fanatics), or Israel (providing medical help to ISIS and trading oil with ISIS), or Turkey and the US (http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-33997408).
    The attitude of Israel’s brass that prefers openly ISIS to a sovereign and functioning Syria under Assad, is a damning evidence for Israel’s malicious role in Syrian conflict:(http://www.timesofisrael.com/yaalon-i-would-prefer-islamic-state-to-iran-in-syria/). Any attempts at qualifying this naming of Israel’s malicious role in Syria as antisemitism meet irrefutable facts of the involvement of Israel and Israel-firsters’ in initiation and encouragement of interventions in Iraq, Libya, and Syria. The interventions resulted in mass slaughter (some 4 million human beings) and ruined cities and villages. The wars in the Middle East have exposed ziocons (the Lobby) as unprincipled bloody supremacists parasitizing on the US’ resources. Of course there can be no justification for the US/EU war profiteers of various kind, whose interests converged with the supremacist dreams of Israel and hegemonic dreams of US & vassals.

    • Replies: @Sean
  49. Anon • Disclaimer says:
    @Johann Ricke

    The recently released 1982 DIA assessment of the Muslim Brothers’ defeat at Hama estimates that 2000 people lost their lives – not the 20,000-plus of Zionist lore. I would assume that the US DIA had a pretty accurate read of how the CIA ‘s proxies had fared.

  50. @Randal

    Are you aware that The Independent is owned by Alexander Lebedev and his son Evgeny?

    • Replies: @Randal
    , @Boris N
  51. Anon • Disclaimer says:
    @Carlton Meyer

    Another Richard Engel classic story was his fake kidnapping a few years ago in Syria by people he identified as “regime” supporters. It turned out that the actors were associates of his own FSA minders. His NBC colleagues were very concerned about him, but the story did not gain much purchase among the american public, maybe they were smart enough to know that government supporters were probably too civilized to hack his head off.

    Since then, Engel has as much credibility to report on Syria as that fat, hairy guy from Atlanta who invented the Gay Girl in Damascus blog.

  52. @RadicalCenter

    Perhaps we should care because they reach many more people than you or I as blog commenters. The only reason anyone should care what you or I think or how reliable we are is if, after reading a lot that we have written, it seems to be internally consistent and consonant with what the readers know or reasonably believe to be the facts. The same for MSM journalists who have additional incentives to meet the tests – including their real names being known.

  53. @Anonymous

    The style and imperfect literacy is that of the Rehmat syndicate but the Shia bias is a bit puzzling. What might be the name behind this “Anonymous”?

  54. @Randal

    Recall that Saddam Hussein was sponsored and installed in Iraq by the CIA.

    Recall also that in the end the United States essentially allied with Iraq against Iran, providing the former with material aid.

    Recall also that Saddam Hussein asked permission to attack Kuwait, partly for side-drilling in Iraqi territory, and that United States ambassador April Glaspie gave him permission in effect, saying it was not a US concern.

    Recall that the elder Bush was initially indifferent to the Iraqi attack on Kuwait until after he met with Margaret Thatcher at Aspen.

    Of course if you were never acquainted with these well documented facts in the first place, you certianly will have trouble recalling them.

    • Replies: @utu
    , @Randal
    , @Anon
  55. tumi says:
    @unit472

    Iraq was in violation of the 1991 ceasefire. What more was needed?”–

    Can you show where the violation and when the violation took place ? Can you provide the information who decided it was the violation of the very nature and the magnitude that justified military action or continued sanctions before 2003? Can you tell me why the initial war aim of removing Saddam from Kuwait was allowed to turn into removal of Saddam’s WMD , BW and later to removal of Saddam ?
    Can you tell me how the continued death -seeking sanction on common people of Iraq by twisted definition , distorted wording and manufacturing of neologism,by eavesdropping on and arm twisting of the UN members on different occasions from 1991 to 2003 could allow UK US to have any legal power on any segment of Iraq in any form or shape, let alone claim of the authority to wage war against Iraq?

    The mandate to get Iraq out of Kuwait was changed ,re framed,twisted,reinterpreted through brute power arrogance and bribes.War was demanded as the only allowed solution in 1990 .
    The diplomacy to get to the peaceful resolution of the problem was made illegal by US and UK – that by itself is a crime and will remain so.

    • Replies: @RobinG
  56. utu says:
    @E. A. Costa

    “Recall that the elder Bush was initially indifferent to the Iraqi attack on Kuwait until after he met with Margaret Thatcher at Aspen.” – Good point. I remember it. London was calling shots no for the first time.

    Then after the war with 90% approval rating Bush tried to say no to Yitzhak Shamir on settlements and under pressure backed off and that was the end of him. He apparently was not trustworthy enough for the deep state.

  57. Randal says:
    @E. A. Costa

    Again, as with SolontoCroesus, I think you’ve missed the sarcasm in my comment. That is, admittedly, a common problem with online comments.

    • Replies: @E. A. Costa
  58. Randal says:
    @Wizard of Oz

    I recall hoping when that news originally came out that it might mean a change in the Independent’s editorial lines, which although opposing the Iraq war had become ever more collaborationist since that high point, and which had always been aggressively socially liberal and supportive of mass immigration. But that hope was largely dashed. I remember the final straw for me was when a couple of years back they published a series of apparently unconnected and childishly propagandist articles promoting normalisation of homosexual activity with insulting trivia (“This gay man was insulted by a hater. Read his crushing rebuff!”, kind of stuff.)

    I don’t know much about Lebedev, but what little I have read suggests it was no real surprise that he was allowed to buy a British newspaper.

  59. Dick100 says:

    Has Patrick Coburn banged his head or been struck by an attack on conscience ?

    This article is about 500 % more accurate than his normal contributions.

    He is a “liberal” journalist used by the British government to present propaganda in a liberal way to influence and deceive liberals.

    However he appears to want town up, probably appalled by where these policies have lead.

    In particular revealing hoe Western journalists are actually reporting.

    But he fails to reveal the “White Helmets” are a major British Foreign Office operation and not “impartial” “activists”

  60. Dick100 says:
    @Carlton Meyer

    The answer is simple.

    It has been long-standing American policy to overthrow the Syrian government and replace it with something more palatable.

    This is because it upholds Pan-Arabism and shock, horror ! – socialism.

    Although this is more of the British Clem Atlee and Harold Wilson kind.

    But both are absolutely unacceptable to Washington.

    Even worse Syria refused to adopt Neo-Classical economic policies, despite 8 visits by Kerry.

    See the articles by the ultimate whistleblower, Robert F Kennedy II and by Steven Gowans.

    it is thus a War of Aggression, even if a covert one.

    Oh and Obama signed the two Findings personally needed for Covert Operations – the one for the Color Revolution in March 2011 and the second to order in the Jihadists in the full Covert Op. in August 2011 as his signature is mandatory to authorise Covert Operations.

  61. RobinG says:
    @tumi

    Of course he can’t. He’s absolutely clueless that it had nothing to do with Iraq. He’s just a unit, after all.

    Not sure I buy Lemire’s assertion that Trump’s election was rigged by US elites, though his reasoning is persuasive that they are pleased. But are the neocons entirely dead? They need stakes through their hearts and dancing on their graves.

    http://katehon.com/article/election-wasnt
    “In terms of physical resources and power potential, the American Empire died in 1975 when US forces fled Southeast Asia. The nation had already peaked in energy production, steel production and per capita wages. The future would only bring further decline and debt. Even as this death was dawning upon the power structures of the United States, however, the petrodollar system was expanding and invading trade, finance, and market appropriation. A group of policy advocates already known amongst themselves as the Neoconservatives recognised the potential for renewed imperialism inherent in the petrodollar system, and so pitched to America’s owners another drive (financed by this “free money” machine and wielding all that had been learned about Cold War practices) toward global American hegemony.”

  62. @Johann Ricke

    As if USA presidents have been saints over 300 years and counting.
    Include England and France in the mix. listen U fool, Kuwait was a part of Iraq now go back and read up why the attack took place and what the Americans did when Iraq military decided to leave in peace. Go see the after effects of the USA bombings and killings.
    Prior to invasion, USA gave the go a head.

  63. @SolontoCroesus

    Demand Memos to Bill Clinton 1996 1999
    & middle East countries need to be destroyed for security of Israel . Then We need a New pearl harbor Event to get it in motion. Bingo! 911 Attacks.
    Why hasn’t this been exposed by the major media?

  64. This otherwise excellent article by someone who so flippantly dismissed and attacked the 9/11 Truth Movement and ignores a mountain of evidence in tension with the ‘official story’, and who swallows hook line and sinker the 9/11 Commission Report.

    It’s really easy to understand how the public can so easily swallow lies when otherwise very smart people like Coburn can de so dense.

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  65. Sean says:
    @Randal

    Assad is getting more help and troops from abroad than the rebels. He started with an army with professional officers and heavy weapons, but he was up against most of the country not one helpless city this time. Fanatics without an air force or anti aircraft weapons or modern artillery can not hold fixed territory because they are inexorably blasted out of their positions. US air-power could have overthrown Assad with a flick of their eyebrow ( some justification could have been manufactured if the US foreign policy establishment really wanted to) but they decided against it.

    • Replies: @Randal
  66. @Randal

    Fair enough.

    Unfortunately, as marks of media and politicos, the vast majority of Unitedstatesians, still have no idea what went down in Iraq and how.

    Even Congressman Dick Armey chronicled in public how Señor Cheney had fed him mistruth after mistruth in a private conversation to get his vote for the Iraq war:

    http://warisacrime.org/node/36045

    As one recalls, Armey’s accusations made one quick appearance in the mainstream media and were forgot.

    Obviously with a will, Cheney could have and should have been prosecuted. But the well groomed CIA plant, Señor Obama, like Señora Pelosi and a horde of others, nicely enough had no interest or will.

  67. Randal says:
    @Sean

    Assad is getting more help and troops from abroad than the rebels.

    Not sure what metric you think would be appropriate there, but afaic it’s irrelevant anyway. Assad only needed external support at all because external support for the rebels made it impossible for him to win without his own external support. As I noted, having cross border refuges, rearmament, resupply, training and recruitment sources, together with deep pocketed external backers, forever beyond the reach of the target government, is a game changer for any armed rebellion, and the rebels had that from the start, even if the actual money and guns were slow to start flowing (transfers from Libya enabled by Qatar and others aside) because the regime changers, like everyone else, wrongly assumed the Syrian government would be quickly overthrown. Few then made the error you are making here, of thinking heavy weapons and an Arab air force would be enough on their own – it was all about the forthcoming inevitable triumph of the “Arab Spring” in western establishment circles.

    What saved the Syrian government was that, over and above their possession of heavy weapons and an air force, they never ceased to be able to count on the support of a significant proportion of the population, including of the sunnis who always made up the majority of the conscripts on the front lines (even if early on they weren’t very enthusiastic about dying for a seemingly lost cause).

    He started with an army with professional officers and heavy weapons, but he was up against most of the country not one helpless city this time. Fanatics without an air force or anti aircraft weapons or modern artillery can not hold fixed territory because they are inexorably blasted out of their positions.

    Which of course is no use if you don’t have the manpower to take and hold the ground yourself. And the government has throughout held on to the majority of the populated areas and almost all the governorate capitals.

    Assad’s father, by the way, wasn’t up against “one helpless city”. He faced a similar national uprising to the one in 2011, fronted sometimes by west-struck fools in the cities but powered by the sunni masses and the Muslim Brotherhood, just like the 2011 rebellion. What it lacked was financial and propaganda backing from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the US.

    US air-power could have overthrown Assad with a flick of their eyebrow ( some justification could have been manufactured if the US foreign policy establishment really wanted to) but they decided against it.

    Yes, this is certainly true, and doing so would have been even more disastrous in Syria than it was in Libya. That is one reason why in 2013 the UK and US regimes failed to manufacture the political consent they wanted for it, to cover them against a backlash if it went wrong (something both Cameron and Obama were very much aware of post-Iraq).

    I still am not sure whether Obama wanted to “do a Libya” in Syria but bottled it when he couldn’t swing the political cover for the attack, or whether he wanted not to do it but needed the vote failure to give him the pretext he required. One for the historians, that one.

    The Russian intervention in 2013 finally put to bed any realistic possibility of a direct US intervention (and indeed fears that a Clinton regime might actually be stupid enough to do so played a part in her defeat). That, imo, was a major part of the Russian motivation for the intervention.

    • Replies: @Sean
  68. Sean says:
    @annamaria

    Assad’s army does not do the heavy lifting and has not conducted a single effective offensive. Russian and Iranian infantry and Russian machines are killing Syrians in Syria . Assad has far more effective foreign backing than the rebels.

    • Replies: @anonymous
    , @annamaria
  69. Anon • Disclaimer says:
    @E. A. Costa

    The stories of the CIA’s recruitment of Saddam during the period of the attempted assassination of General Qassim and his flight to Egypt were greatly exaggerated by the 1991-2003 demonization campaign against him on all fronts and under any pretext. Saddam acted in his own interests, even when they happened to coincide with imperial interests. All dictators and politicians do this. Few were as opportunistic, cynical and self-defeating as Saddam.

    In July, 1979 Saddam installed himself in power in order to prevent the unification of Syria and Iraq that had been in the works for several years. Barely one year later he invaded Iran as the hostage crisis continued and the US election loomed. Undoubtedly the first act pleased the CIA leadership. The second act pleased those in the Agency who were loyal to Pres. Carter, but worried CIA “Team B” that came to power with Reagan. Under Reagan the US and allies supported both sides in the Iran-Iraq War, in fact supplying vastly greater amounts of military supplies through Israel to Iran than were sold to Iraq. Operation Staunch put a slight damper on Washington’s involvement with the Israelis on the project, but that lasted maybe a year before Oliver North and Michael Ledeen each had arms-running networks operating out of Reagan’s NSC. It was Reagan’s fear of being caught in an impeachment trap of his own making called Iran-Contra that finally made him shift to Iraq…and the war finally ended.

    The purpose of the Desert Shield/Desert Storm War was, to quote Bush I, “to whip the Vietnam syndrome once and for all”. The correspondent Milton Viorst reported at the time the efforts of Iraq and Jordan to negotiate with Kuwait on three issues of critical importance to Iraq; the need for a deep water seaport, loan relief and the slant-drilling. Viorst revealed that General Norman Schwartzkopf, head of US Persian Gulf forces, lobbied and pressured Kuwait and all the Gulf monarchies to stiff Iraq on all issues. As the Cold War receded, Shwarzy wanted his Gulf command to become the center of continued military spending.

    • Replies: @E. A. Costa
  70. Sean says:

    Assad is fighting with infantry from Lebanon, Iraq, Iran and Russia, but still would be losing if it wasn’t for Russian heavy weapons and air force. Syrians only fight well against Assad never for him . So remember, the only brave men in Syria are by definition fanatical jihadists .

  71. Sean says:
    @Randal

    Syria is a dump and the civil, war there is of no direct strategic significance for Israel beyond the southern front where the radical Sunnis might destablise Jordan (which Assad is trying to help along by why of retaliating against the Hashemite state’s fostering of the Syrian rebelion. Obama and Clinton have said want a new Palestinian state, and that requires the west bank Arabs to stay where they are (The US is spending a billion on a wall to keep ISIS. out of Jordan). Israel and Assad’s interests converge in Jordan. Israels want Assad to win in the north and drive the rebels against Jordan. Then there will be a genral war and uprising that will see the West Bank Arabs swept into the existing Palestinian state on the east bank

    • Replies: @Randal
  72. anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Sean

    Please tell us you’ll be moving over to Razib’s new site, white helmet in tow.

    • Replies: @Sean
  73. annamaria says:
    @Sean

    “Assad has far more effective foreign backing than the rebels.”

    You have avoided the main point of my post: the mass slaughter of Syrians by anti-Assad forces has started years before the government of sovereign Syria asked for Russian help. The Israelis’ desire to annex the Golan Heights has led to creation of a paradoxical coalition that includes Saudi wahhabis, ISIS, Israel, Turkey, the opportunistic vassals of NATO, and US-sponsored “moderate” jihadis (as if the 9/11 hysterics re fanatical Islam has suddenly evaporated under pressure from ziocons).
    Israel used to present itself as a paragon of moral superiority, because of Jewish sufferings during the WWII and because of other tragedies suffered by Jewish people throughout history. The ziocons have effectively eliminated any basis for such thinking. Moreover, the barbarism of ziocons brought to focus certain nefarious activities of Jewish people in the past, such as the role of Jews in slave trade, a conspicuous presence of Jewish revolutionaries in the first bolshevik government and secret police, the successful attempts at covering the criminal bombing of USSLiberty, the heavy involvement of ziocons in unleashing the horrors of the ongoing wars in the Middle East… The problem is not the Judaism and cultural practices. The problem is the banality of evil that the Lobby has been displaying for the whole world to observe.

    • Replies: @Sean
  74. Sean says:
    @anonymous

    His move has probably something to do with Trump’s win. I wanted him to win. Anyway, I have spent literally hundreds, maybe approaching a thousand, hours on comments that Razib (and G.Cochran) rejected.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  75. Sean says:
    @annamaria

    Ehud Barak offered to return the Golan to Syria. The Arabs and Iran are not a serious threat to Israel, it’s the West bank Arabs, and if Trump gives Israel the courage that problem is not insoluble.

    • Replies: @annamaria
    , @annamaria
  76. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Sean

    Why do you think his move has something to do with Trump’s win?

    Why does Cochran reject your comments? I’ve seen your comments being rejected by Razib, but I didn’t Cochran did as well. Do you know why Cochran does?

    • Replies: @Sean
  77. annamaria says:
    @Sean

    “Ehud Barak offered to return the Golan to Syria. The Arabs and Iran are not a serious threat to Israel…”
    And how would Netanyahu take this idea of return the Golan Heights to Syria?
    “Israel will never return Golan Heights to Syria, says Netanyahu:” http://www.wsj.com/articles/israel-will-never-return-golan-heights-to-syria-says-netanyahu-1460900220
    Here is a repost of Ya’alon understanding of what constituted a threat to Israel; this understanding does not agree with yours: “In Syria, if the choice is between Iran and the Islamic State, I choose the Islamic State. They don’t have the capabilities that Iran has,” Ya’alon told a conference held by the Institute of National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.” http://www.timesofisrael.com/yaalon-i-would-prefer-islamic-state-to-iran-in-syria/
    Moshe Ya’alon served as Israel’s Defense Minister from 2013 until his resignation on May 20, 2016.

    • Replies: @Sean
    , @tumi
  78. Randal says:
    @Sean

    Syria is a dump and the civil, war there is of no direct strategic significance for Israel

    This is presumably an outright lie on your part, since even if you weren’t originally aware of Israel’s commitment to the overthrow of the Syrian government, I have drawn the clear evidence for it to your attention before now.

    We know that when there was a chance of using the US superpower’s air force to destroy the Syrian government just as the Libyan government had previously been destroyed, Israel’s tools in the US went “all out” to push for the US to destroy their regional rival for them.

    AIPAC to go all-out on Syria

    And we know that the Israeli regime are worried about the possibility of the Syrian government surviving.

    Israeli Intel Chief: We Don’t Want ISIS Defeated in Syria

    And we know that Israel ha been actively helping the armed rebels in Syria, while trying to keep it deniable.

    UN reports Israeli support for Syria rebels

    And any fool with the slightest real knowledge of the strategic situation in the ME knows that the Israeli establishment is even more delusionally obsessed with both Iran and Hezbollah than the US establishment is, and is desperate to destroy the vital link between Hezbollah and Iran that is the Assad government.

    Why do you even bother trying to pretend otherwise, any more? Have you no self respect?

    • Replies: @tumi
  79. annamaria says:
    @Sean

    “…if Trump gives Israel the courage that problem is not insoluble.”
    You mean more US-taxpayers money/weaponry/blood for Israel?
    Here is a paper on the parasitoid’s displeasure with a mere pronouncement of an idea that Israel has been using the US as an ATM machine: https://theintercept.com/2016/12/04/the-smear-campaign-against-keith-ellison-is-repugnant-but-reveals-much-about-washington/

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  80. @Anon

    “The stories of the CIA’s recruitment of Saddam during the period of the attempted assassination of General Qassim and his flight to Egypt were greatly exaggerated by the 1991-2003 demonization campaign against him on all fronts and under any pretext. Saddam acted in his own interests, even when they happened to coincide with imperial interests. All dictators and politicians do this. Few were as opportunistic, cynical and self-defeating as Saddam.”

    Very droll–“happened to coincide with imperial interests”–meaning just what one said above, Saddam Husssein was recruited by the CIA.

    Your misdirection is transparent. It was just a matter of coinciding, almost coincidence, jeje.

    One is reminded of the old German story about the fellow who dropped a dog or a child, etc. into a well and described it later as, “There was a falling into the well.”

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  81. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    Well, think about it this way…does ISIS act sometimes in concert with US interests in the Middle East, like when they moved out of Iraq and into Syria? Let’s say the answer is yes. Does that mean that Abu Bakr al Baghdadi was recruited, sponsored and directed by the CIA? Not necessarily, although he was certainly available for recruitment while in a US prison in Iraq. But when ISIS soon moved back into Iraq, was called the JV team by Obama, and then took Mosul, it sort of dispels that notion, even when the US Air Force attacks the Syrian Army in Deir al Zor in direct aid of an ISIS offensive. That just shows how f*cked-up US policies are in the Arab world. The same with Saddam. US policies have been that f*cked-up for a long time, particularly in regard to Syria and Iraq.

  82. Sean says:
    @Anonymous

    Trump’s win is a a watershed and lots of people here might consider a fallow period at such a juncture. Any geneticist using their own name here and wanting to be considered for employment might well disassociate from anything connected with the the alt right fringe now, because it is becoming too notorious. Both Razib and Cochran probably think I go off the point and on monomaniacally.

  83. Sean says:
    @annamaria

    As a direct military threat Iran (like Iraq was ) is a pretend threat to Israel that no one takes seriously, because it would be destroyed if it really threatened Israel, the US wouldn’t even have to nuke Iran, they could take it out with a massive air strike in a couple of days. Israel has a big enough air force to do it themselves, and nukes galore in the last resort if the the US refused.

    Iraq was and Iran still is are giving courage to the Palestinians to sit tight. That is why they rejected Ehud Barak’s final settlement offer at Camp David: they knew they could get more in the long term. Netenyahu would never have dreamt of offering what Barak did, but that probably means he is simply less of a long term thinker than Barak.

    What the US is doing in the Middle East is not dissimilar to the stabilising effort of the Iranians. Both are in effect long term enemies of Israel’s future as a Jewish state. It needs a fluid situation whereby population transfer is possible: Netanyahu sees Trump as the man to let the situation develop to Israel’s advantage.

    • Replies: @annamaria
    , @Wizard of Oz
  84. annamaria says:
    @Sean

    Could you be more specific about your statement, “It needs a fluid situation whereby population transfer is possible” ?

  85. Boris N says:
    @Wizard of Oz

    The man was a Party member right up to 1991, studied in MGIMO, the most elite and kosher university in the USSR, then studied in KGB school, then worked in the Soviet embassy in London. Only this his Soviet career makes him very phoney, not to mention the fraudulent ways he’s suddenly become an oligarch. And at the very same time he owns (with Gorbachev!) “Novaya Gazeta”, one of the “liberal” pro-Western media flagships of the anti-Putin forces. The man is one of the best examples of phoney conspirators and double/triple agents of the global establishment. Though all the Russian oligarchs are practically of that very kind.

  86. Thanks. I accept your authority. The “Boris” is good-enough

  87. @Sean

    A lot of the only moderate and reasoned objection to Israel on UR still seems to me to oversimplify some things which I would, simply on general reasoning, regard as likely to be more complex.

    Let me just touch on a point prompted by your post. What if reasonable people in Cabinet believed/accepted that there was a 10 to 30 per cent chance of the rulers of Iran being mad enough to do a Samson by using nukes to wipe out the Jewish state regardless of what might happen to Iran? OK the retired Mossad officers say “10 per cent at most” but, even so, doesn’t it actually make some kind of sense to behave as Israel does?

    And why limit oneself to the views of “reasonable” people? Let’s remember at least those whose paranoia is covered by a genial reminder that “some paranoid people do have enemies”.

  88. @E. A. Costa

    This “Anon” in what you reply to (and with much detail new to me) sounds as though he knows what he’s writing about and is playing it straight – if that isn’t too naive for UR.

    Your comment seems to make a merely trivial verbal point that the connections Saddam made with some Americans could be aptly described as “recruitment”.

    Of course that recruitment was nothing like the achievement of the western allies “recruiting” the Red Army to do the heavy dying against Hitler by massive supplies of tanks, guns and aircraft…….

    You need more to take on this Anon I suggest.

  89. @GeorgyOrwell

    I don’t “swallow….the 9/11 Commission Report” – like most people I have anyway only read snippets and purported summaries and paraphrases. However I am not impressed by any of the positive or negative truther cases that I have sampled in quite time consuming quantities.

    But you prompt the question: what difference would it make to my world view or just anałytical starting points if some – but which? – of the truther points were established?

    Saudi involvement (as long as not the King or chief minister) and Israeli foreknowledge? Well, well, haven’t our supposed allies been naughty?

    At least flying into the Twin Towers (with or without demolition) and Pentagon a CIA plot with or without White House involvement? Now that would make me change or at least review some important premises for understanding the world. Still, suppose that Guy Fawkes plot had in fact been a setup by the successor to Sir Francis Walsingham to consolidate Protestantism in England what would that now change about one’s wordview? OK it would make one more inclined to believe that the truth of great crimes like the plotting of 9/11 could be concealed. So, help me, what precedent is there for such concealment in the past that might make one more willing to accept a CIA conspiracy explanation of 9/11?

  90. “None of this is new. The present wars in the Middle East started with the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 which was justified by the supposed threat from Saddam Hussein’s possession of weapons of mass destruction (WMD)”

    Yes we know this.
    It was very very unpopular to espouse this view.The news all day broadcast that the threat that was Saddam was very real! The commercials if I recall were of drones spraying American cities. And Atom bombs exploding in America.
    I too, was frightened to speak out.
    The flesh is strong but the mind is weak.

    The MATRIX is real. In a metaphysical way, not like in the movie of course.

    Even if Saddam was that evil He was our guy in the middle east until the NEOCONS destroyed him.He did love the good life.

    • Replies: @RobinG
  91. annamaria says:

    “The NATO campaign against freedom of expression,” by Thierry Meyssan http://www.voltairenet.org/article194344.html
    “The attacks of 11 September 2001 were followed by a permanent state of emergency and a series of wars. As I wrote at the time, the theory that they were directed by a group of jihadists from a cave in Afghanistan does not stand up to analysis. On the contrary, everything points to the conclusion that the attack were organised by a faction of the military-industrial complex. If this analysis is correct, the course of events could only lead to repression in the United States and the Allied states..”
    The Meyssan article mentions some vicious war-mongering opportunists like Anne Applebaum, Peter Pomerantsev, and Michael Weiss, who happened to be the presstituting darlings of the Lobby.
    https://pando.com/2015/05/17/neocons-2-0-the-problem-with-peter-pomerantsev/
    http://russia-insider.com/en/military/professional-neocon-russia-basher-advances-saudi-sectarian-agenda/ri5035

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  92. tumi says:
    @Randal

    John Kerry offered yet another tough-love talk to Israel at the pro-Israel Saban Forum yesterday. The United States gives Israel more than half of the aid that we give “to the entire world,” and Israel simply ignores us when we warn it about new settlements. – See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2016/12/entire-israel-ignores/#sthash.iKWUMUkq.dpuf

    same Israel that Americans don’t have any leverage on – that what the Israel says to US and US believes because it wants to agree in case ….

  93. tumi says:
    @annamaria

    The deep state killed Rubin for making too many offers on too many tracks- ie one in West Bank and one over Golan . Now the genius comes and tells that Israel made generous offer !!!!!!!!!!!!

  94. @annamaria

    I read your first link with interest. Another of your Russia linked URLs and, I note, a couple of classes above the Rehmat syndicate’s Pakistan oriented waffle and wandering piffle. Still it made me wonder where the superior English writing came from. I couldn’t find that Thierry Meysann had been at school or university in an Anglophone country. Perhaps it was the kind of polish you would expect of a ghost writer with superior KGB training. He seems to regard the military-industrial complex rather than the CIA as the progenitor’s of the 9/11 affair. That strikes me as undermining whatever credibility he has because one really needs a very elaborate story to describe a plausible scenario based on financial self-interest that doesn’t get exposed in 15 years, quite apart from his specifics like no aircraft hitting the Pentagon.

  95. @annamaria

    That link introduced me to a commentator who seems worth knowing about if one wants to read knowledgeable balanced criticism of Israel’s lobbying.

    • Replies: @Talha
  96. RobinG says:
    @europeasant

    “….wars in the Middle East started with the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003…”

    WRONG. Try 1990. See S2C’s comment #25.

    • Replies: @Randal
  97. Randal says:
    @RobinG

    “….wars in the Middle East started with the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003…”

    WRONG. Try 1990. See S2C’s comment #25.

    You excluded a key word from Cockburn’s piece when you quoted him – he wrote that the present wars in the Middle East started with the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

    And he was absolutely correct. One can always go back to a previous cause – human history doesn’t have absolute beginnings – but the 1990 war did not set the scene for the destruction of legacy Baathist governments and the enabling of sunni jihadists in the heart of the ME, nor for the advance of Iranian influence to Baghdad and the consequent escalation of Israeli and Gulf sunni despot determination to recover some ground against Iran and Hezbollah by destroying the Syria government, and the escalation of propaganda pushing sunni-shia sectarian conflict throughout the region. It did none of those things because it left Saddam’s government in power.

    The attack on Iraq in 2003 was a clear decision point. It did not have to happen, it was a deliberate act perpetrated by a few politicians in the US and UK – a crime and a blunder. And on the face of it everything subsequently in the region would most likely have been different if it had not been done. The same underlying forces would have been present, but they would have played out in radically different circumstances. Different currents might have been more emphasized. Perhaps we would have ended up with something similar, perhaps not.

    But the 2003 war was intended to change the region radically, and it certainly did so. Just not necessarily in the ways some of the perpetrators intended. For sure, though, the 2003 war was the clear starting point for the present wars in the region.

    • Replies: @Mao Cheng Ji
    , @RobinG
  98. @Randal

    It did not have to happen, it was a deliberate act perpetrated by a few politicians in the US and UK – a crime and a blunder.

    Not just a crime, but the supreme crime, as defined at the Nuremberg trials.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supreme_crime

    • Replies: @Randal
  99. Randal says:
    @Mao Cheng Ji

    Absolutely so.

    Oddly enough, despite convicting Germans for that crime at that tribunal, with much moral grandstanding and pontificating about the rule of law, the British and American elites seem to have somehow overlooked incorporating it into their own statute books afterwards, with the result that Blair could not even be prosecuted (setting aside the merits or otherwise of the particular case) for the crime of aggression because waging a war of aggression is not a crime in English law.

    Remarkable oversight, eh?

  100. Talha says:
    @Wizard of Oz

    Hey WoO,

    Mr. Greewald is solid on this subject as well as that of civil liberties; highly recommended.

    Peace.

  101. RobinG says:
    @Randal

    Meh… I beg to differ. “Set the scene” is exactly what ’90-’91 did. The PNAC plan to remake the ME was hatched in the mid nineties. With harsh sanctions and no-fly zones, the whole decade was a continuous war on Iraq.

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