Category: Syria
The US Plans Endless Occupation and the Partition of Syria
| February 19, 2018 | 8:17 am | Syria, US Peace Council | No comments
The US Plans Endless Occupation and the Partition of Syria

U.S. Peace Council February 15, 2018

Since the liberation of Aleppo in December 2016, report after report of military victories by the Syrian government and its allies over the foreign jihadist mercenaries led some in the Western media to suppose that the war was all but over.
For a time, the Syrian war, which had claimed more than 400,000 lives and made refugees of millions of Syrians, moved out of the headlines. Some in the U.S. antiwar movement may have also allowed themselves to hope the war in Syria was winding down.
Unfortunately, the war in Syria is back in the headlines. Events are now moving fast.

  • The US-led coalition fighting ISIS in Syria conducted air and artillery strikes against the Syrian Army recently, killing an estimated 100 “pro-regime fighters,” according to a coalition statement. Some were Russians according to reports. Thus, two nuclear-armed great powers are in direct conflict now in Syria.
  • Syrian jihadist “rebels” shot down a Russian warplane for the first time on February 3rd, and Russia’s defense ministry said the pilot was killed as he resisted capture by jihadists.
  • A third nuclear-armed state, Israel, is now fully in the war, primarily, it would seem, for anti-Iran reasons. On February 10, an Israeli F-16 warplane returning from a bombing raid on Iran-backed positions in Syria was shot down over central Syria by anti-aircraft fire. Israel is boasting its raids took out half the Syrian government’s air defenses.
  • The ideological offensive against Syria has resumed. Fresh “reports” from dubious sources such as “The White Helmets” and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights — observing from England! — on the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government appear in the U.S. corporate media and some “alternative” media. Such slanders can spread across the world in a heartbeat, while it takes months to disprove them — as they all have been disproved.[1]

During his campaign and in the early days of his Administration, Trump seemingly narrowed the US goal to the defeat of one terrorist group, ISIS (or ISIL), which since 2014 had won substantial territory in Syria and Iraq. He downplayed the goal of “regime change.” But the failure of the U.S., its NATO allies, and their proxies for seven years to overthrow the Syrian government forced Trump to switch from Obama’s direct attempts to oust the current Syrian government to Plan B, i.e., Trump administration’s attempt to adopt an indirect way to force a regime change in Syria.   The Obama Administration policy was clear enough: “regime-change,” i.e. ousting Syrian President Assad by means of proxies, the so-called “moderate rebels” — actually well-paid terrorist mercenaries recruited by means of social media from all over the Muslim world and bankrolled by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Their terrorism against the Syrian people was aided by Israel, Jordan and Turkey, with overall military coordination of the war by the U.S.   However, at his Stanford University speech on January 17, 2018, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced the main points of Trump Administration’s new version of U.S. policy toward Syria:

  1. Long-term presence of U.S. military forces engaged in combat operations;
  2. Expansion of the military mission from defeat of ISIS to also preventing Iranian influence in the post-ISIS Syria;
  3. “Stabilization” (that is, provision of humanitarian, economic, and political assistance) to areas under rebels’ control;
  4. National elections under United Nations supervision; and
  5. “[Rallying] the Syrian people and individuals within the regime to compel Assad to step down.”

In less convoluted terms, the Trump Administration’s Plan B seeks to achieve the U.S. goal of forced regime change through the following three consecutive steps:

  1. Step One: Partitioning of Syria and establishing permanent U.S. military bases in northern Syria, where the oil is;
  2. Step Two: Arming and training the rebel forces in the secured Kurdish areas; and,
  3. Step Three: Using the captured territories and the trained rebel forces under the command of Syria-based U.S. forces to impose a regime change in Damascus.

These are important facts about the new U.S. plan for Syria and the Middle East:

  • The U.S. is now directly engaged in illegally occupying Syrian territory, claiming rights to Syrian oil and attacking the Syrian army in the name of “self-defense.”
  • Officially, U.S. forces inside Syria number at least 2,000. The real count may be far higher. There are also many thousands of U.S. forces on ships in the Mediterranean or in nearby countries.
  • The 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria are arming and organizing the 30,000-strong the so-called “Syrian Democratic Forces,” a mix of Kurdish and Arab fighters who have been the primarily fighting on the U.S. side in Syria.
  • Turkey has recently invaded northern Syria to attack the Syrian Kurds who live in northern border areas contiguous to Turkey. The Turkish government fears its own large, Kurdish minority’s rightful aspirations for national self-determination. Turkey fears that Syria’s north can become a staging area for a liberation struggle inside Turkey.
  • Normally, subservient Turkey was the conduit for most of the foreign mercenaries entering Syria. Now, the Turkish invasion, wholly illegal and unjustified, complicates U.S. occupation plans, which are also wholly illegal and unjustified.
  • The invasion has created an intra-NATO problem. Turkey is in NATO but has been drifting away from the U.S.-dominated war alliance with its recent major arms purchases from Russia.
  • Trump has done everything possible to strengthen the U.S.-Israel-Saudi axis, which since 2011 has been the core support of the terrorist mercenaries in Syria.
  • In nearby Afghanistan, it is clear the U.S. has not won the 17-year war against the Taliban insurgency, so Trump is sending more U.S. troops to shore up the government in Kabul and forestall a humiliating U.S. defeat.

Trump’s overall military budget in 2018 will come to $716 billion. Under Trump, there is no turning away from interventionist wars that begun or continued by his predecessors, despite his campaign rhetoric to the contrary.     Tom Paine once wrote “Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered.…” Neither is US imperialism easily conquered, even though its power is waning.   Urgent action by U.S. peace movement is needed. We must urgently re-energize the work of the whole U.S. peace movement on Syria. At the upcoming, long overdue national antiwar actions for April 2018, the demand “Hands off Syria!” must be front and center.   _______________ [1] See, “Now Mattis Admits There Was No Evidence Assad Used Poison Gas on His People,” Newsweek:

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Military Conflict Between East and West Has Never Been Closer
| February 14, 2018 | 8:07 pm | Analysis, Israel, John Wight, Middle East, Russia, Syria, Turkey, USSR | No comments
Israeli soldiers stand guard near the Israeli Syrian border next to the town of Majdal Shams in the Israeli-occupied sector of the Golan Heights

Military Conflict Between East and West Has Never Been Closer


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John Wight

Recent events in Syria serve to illustrate the dire consequences of a unipolar world. They also provide further confirmation that international law now belongs to the realm of fiction when it comes to Washington and its allies, for whom exceptionalism is the natural order of things.

There is compelling evidence to speculate that what is now being attempted by the US in Syria, with its occupation of a large swathe of territory in the north west of the country, is a re-run of the Balkanisation of Yugoslavia in the 1990s — a sovereign state broken up and dismembered after the collapse of the Soviet Union in service to the unipolar world that had just come into being as a result.

The break-up of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, a state born out of the carnage of the Second World War, was stark evidence that for hawks within the US political and military establishment the Cold War had not ended it had been won – won by dint of America’s divinely chosen position as the “indispensable nation”, a credo first articulated by US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright during an NBC interview in 1998.

READ MORE: Syria of Discord: Iran, US Clash Over Military Presence on Ground

Thus triumphalism abounded within the corridors of power in the land of the free, which cheered on by its willing vassals — such as Tony Blair’s UK government, and various eastern European satellites harbouring unresolved anti-Russian animus — produced an intoxication with overwhelming military power and strength, encapsulated in the eastward expansion of NATO.

The unending wars and military interventions that have been embarked by the US and its allies since the 1990s, rather than push the frontiers of democracy, have produced nothing but human misery, chaos, and instability. And on a scale hitherto absent.Syria is only the latest country and society to experience the tender mercies of Washington’s self-ordained role as the world’s policeman. It does so not with the objective of maintaining the world as a safe place or democracy or human rights, as tirelessly claimed, but so that global corporations are able to function and prosper and exploit the world’s human and natural resources unimpeded. They call it free market economics. A much more accurate name is’ disruptive unfettered capitalism’, an economic model which is no respecter of borders or cultures, no respecter of even the concept of the nation state.

The presence of US military forces in Syria is illegal. This is a fact that no amount of obfuscation or dissembling can elide. It poses a threat to the security and stability not only of Syria but the entire region. The idea that the presence of US military forces in the country, or anywhere else in the Middle East for that matter, is necessary to bolster security and stability, this is an exercise in peddling fiction. Just ask the people of Iraq or Libya, two countries laid waste by Washington and its allies, if you do not believe me.

READ MORE: Drone Captures Syrian Kurdish Militants Hit by Airstrike in Afrin (VIDEO)

Adding to the pot of instability and US-inspired mayhem in the Middle East is the news that the gargantuan US military budget for 2019 is to include $300 million for the training and equipping of the SDF, Washington’s proxy ground force in Syria, in addition to $250 million to fund the ‘border security force’ in the country that’s been mooted. By way of a reminder, as with the SDF the planned border security force will largely comprise Syrian Kurds attached to the YPG. All this, it’s worth recalling, is being undertaken in clear violation of Syria’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity. It is the very epitome of might is right, redolent of that which sustained the Roman Empire.

The seeming willingness of the Trump administration to rupture its alliance and relationship with fellow NATO member, Turkey, with its commitment to arming and training the Kurds across Ankara’s southern border is remarkable, not to mention inexplicable. President Erdogan’s government has made no bones about the fact it considers it a threat to Turkey’s security, and has pledged to act accordingly. Indeed with its Operation Olive Branch military campaign against the YPG in Afrin, northern Syria, currently underway, involving ground forces deploying across the border in the process, the Erdogan government is making good on this pledge.

The fact is that along with Israel, Turkey is now exploiting the crisis and conflict in Syria to violate its sovereignty with wilful abandon.

It requires neither an abiding love or Russia nor a burning hatred of America to understand the necessity of a world in which no one nation is able or inclined to arrogate to itself the right to exercise global hegemony. Empires are doomed by virtue of the very premise upon which they exist, which is that nations and peoples can be dominated and subjugated by other nations. They cannot. Or at least they cannot over a sustained period.

If history teaches us anything it is that those who seek to dominate only succeed in sowing dragon’s teeth, inviting blowback and backlash. The monster that is Salafi-jihadism and the ensuing spate of terrorist attacks across the world in recent years leaves no doubt of it.

The need to check the untrammelled power of Washington is self-evident. Since the Soviet Union was consigned to history in the early 1990s, the US has rampaged across the world like an out of control juggernaut of death and destruction. It has done so regardless of the administration or president occupying the White House.In Donald Trump, a man for whom subtlety is an alien concept, we have ourselves a US president who cannot seem to make up his mind whether he is a recurring character in the Sopranos or the elected leader of the world largest economy and nuclear power.

With his presidency, the sheer reckless, aggressive and capricious character of it, the time has come to pose the question: Who will save us from America?

The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

Hands Off Syria! TKP and Turkey’s Peace Committee condemn Erdogan’s Afrin operation in Syria

Monday, January 22, 2018

Hands Off Syria! TKP and Turkey’s Peace Committee condemn Erdogan’s Afrin operation in Syria
In a statement published on January 21st, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Turkey (TKP) condemns the military operation of Erdogan’s government against Syria. Noting that Syria has long been turned into an arena for the bloody games of the imperialist powers, and that the AKP government of Turkey has sought ways to integrate in these imperialist projects, TKP underlined that the Turkish AKP government’s recent military operation in Syria has “nothing to do with any national interest or security issue of Turkey.”
TKP reminded that Turkey is an allied NATO member and pointed to the hypocrisy of the AKP government for not “questioning the military existence of NATO in Turkey, but arguing about a threat in Syria.”
Saying that AKP’s operation serves imperialist plans aiming to divide Syria, TKP underlined that the people of Turkey “cannot be deceived with heroism or nationalist demagogy. Syria must be cleared of imperialist projects, interest conflicts between big powers and the fundamentalist powers of the region. It is the Syrian people who will do this.”
Baris Dernegi: No to foreign intervention in Syria!
From her side, the Peace Committee of Turkey (Baris Dernegi) has issued a statement condemning the so-called Afrin operation of the Turkish military forces in Syria:
The Afrin operation of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) has nothing to do with our country’s national interests. This operation is a new link of Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) interventions against the sovereignty of Syria.
Attacks of imperialist-sponsored reactionary forces have turned the country into a bloodbath and displaced millions of Syrian people since 2011. Although the jihadist gangs were largely repelled, the recent developments prove that all powers are the enemies of stability and peace in Syria.
Liquidation of the Islamic State is not enough; it is apparent that peace will not be achieved until the Syrian people take full control of the country and all foreign powers withdraw.
Turkey’s attack with the consent of the U.S.A. and Russia is illegitimate, reinforcing the partition of Syria in the service of imperialism. AKP’s anti-American discourse is completely demagogic.
Escalating nationalism and chauvinism go along with TSK’s intervention, while warmongering is rising and war is attempted to be legitimatised through a religious discourse. It is necessary to reject this policy that functions as divisive not only in Syria but also in Turkey.
Various entities supported by the U.S.A. are pointed out as a threat. All U.S. attempts are extremely serious threats for all peoples of the region, particularly for Syria and Turkey. All policies paving the way for imperialism are anti-people.
It is necessary to put an end to all foreign interventions in Syria immediately and unconditionally. Imperialism and all big powers should leave Syria alone, and the people should determine their future themselves.
We call on all neighbouring and peace-loving people to unite against imperialism and reaction.
US Trying to Use Syria as a Garrison for Operations in Middle East, Scholar Says
| January 21, 2018 | 6:09 pm | Syria, Turkey | No comments

People walk near a Syrian national flag at the President bridge in Damascus, Syria March 14, 2016

US Trying to Use Syria as a Garrison for Operations in Middle East, Scholar Says

© REUTERS/ Omar Sanadiki

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While Turkey has begun an operation against the Kurds in the Syrian city of Afrin and the US recently announced plans to continue its military commitment in the Middle Eastern country, Radio Sputnik discussed the developments with Prof. Dr. Bora Bayraktar from Kultuk University in Istanbul.

Sputnik: Turkey is saying that the operation is within the boundaries of a right to self-defense and also within the framework of international law. Do you agree with that?

Prof. Dr. Bora Bayraktar: Of course, I agree with that because, you know, in the city I live, in Istanbul, there were many terrorist attacks last in 2016. And we know that this organization [the PKK] was behind it. Turkey needs to protect its borders, and also Turkey didn’t get diplomatic support from allies and, you know, we can also call Russia an ally for Turkey, especially in Syria. So, this is a big problem, and Turkey has to deal with this issue. And it seems that Afrin would be one of the reasons why Turkey considers that it’s facing terrorist attacks. Afrin is one of the bases of the PYD/PKK, so from the Turkish point of view, this is legitimate.

Sputnik: The US and Turkey have had extremely strained relations for the past few years. How is that going to play into this situation?

Prof. Dr. Bora Bayraktar: In none of the major issues Turkey and the United States are on the same page, especially for the last decade, we can say. The situation in Iraq, the Kurdish issue, the coup attempt in Turkey — Turkey believes that the person behind it is in the United States and they have affiliation with US intelligence — also the Jerusalem issue, Syria, in many issues and major problems Turkey, and Russia, and the US don’t have common goals. They are rivals actually, we can say this easily. But they are both [Turkey and the US] NATO partners, Turkey was part of the Western security system for decades. So this is a big issue. And when it comes to Syria, Turkey is trying to keep the territorial integrity of Syria, trying to keep its borders safe, while the US (and this is my personal opinion) is looking for a garrison state in the eastern part of the Euphrates River. They are trying to build a statelet to use it as a garrison for further operations in the Middle East against Iran, Turkey, Syria, Iraq. This is an important foothold, so I think in this case, again, Turkey and the US have problems, and they will have more problems if the US keeps supporting the PYD and other groups that Turkey considers terrorist organizations.

Sputnik: What can be done to resolve the situation between Turkey, the US and Russia in Syria?

Prof. Dr. Bora Bayraktar: It’s a very difficult task. I think right now, for geopolitical and strategic reasons Turkey and Russia are getting closer because, you know, they feel the same threat from the United States, especially when it comes to the Middle East and the territorial integrity of the countries like Syria and Iraq.

Sputnik: Russia’s top diplomat Sergei Lavrov said that the US is not interested in keeping Syria’s territorial integrity. What’s your take on that?

Prof. Dr. Bora Bayraktar: I totally agree with Mr. Lavrov, because what the United States did last week, you know, they declared that there will be a 30,000 man force that will protect the borders of Syria which is the violation of Syrian territorial integrity, violation of Syrian sovereignty. And as I told you, they are looking for a garrison state in Syria, and this is not acceptable for any country in the region. And I think Mr. Lavrov has a reason for saying that. Although the US Secretary of State Tillerson and a spokesman from Pentagon denied this claim, they said “ok, we are not looking for an extra army.” But when we look at the actions, not the words, we see that the United States is trying to cut a piece of Syria for their use, and this is not acceptable.

The views and opinions expressed in the article are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

The Sultan and the Fascists: MHP Party to support Tayyip Erdogan in 2019 presidential elections
| January 10, 2018 | 7:49 pm | Analysis, Iraq, political struggle, Syria, Turkey | No comments

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Sultan and the Fascists: MHP Party to support Tayyip Erdogan in 2019 presidential elections
Devlet Bahceli, leader of MHP, gestures during
an election campaign.
* MHP (Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi), the Nationalist Movement Party is an anticommunist, neo-fascist nationalist party, founded in 1969. Its paramilitary wing, known as “Grey Wolves” is a fascist terrorist organization, known for participating in numerous massacres, bombings and assassination attempts. 
The following article is from sOL international: Turkey’s fascist Nationalist Movement Party leader Devlet Bahçeli overtly supports President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for the presidential election in 2019. Not surprisingly, he has lent a help to Erdoğan since the foundation of the AKP party, rallying to rescue the government whenever it has faced political challenges.
Founded in 1969 in the Cold War era as an anti-communist fascist party, Turkey’s Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and its leader Devlet Bahçeli have become a hot topic recently as the party lends an overt support to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP).
As some claim that the failed coup in July 2016 became a breaking point for the fascist MHP party’s apparent support to Erdoğan and AKP government, Turkey’s recent political history shows that the fascist party and its leader Bahçeli have always backed Erdoğan’s manoeuvres whenever he faced political challenges.
By the time Erdoğan founded the AKP party in August 2001, Turkey had been governed by the coalition government of then-Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit’s Democratic Left Party, Bahçeli’s MHP party and Mesut Yılmaz’s Motherland Party.
However, the coalition partner MHP called for early elections scheduled to be held in November 2002, culminating in the victory of Erdoğan’s newly-born AKP party while all the three coalition parties could not pass the 10% electoral threshold. Bahçeli’s fascist party played a key role in paving the way for Erdoğan’s longstanding rule in Turkey.
The Turkish parliament rejected a proposal in March 2003 that would enable the U.S. to use the country as a launch pad for the invasion of Iraq as tens of thousands of protesters chanted slogans, “No to war!”, near the parliament building.
Bahçeli and Erdoğan became unpleased with the parliamentary voting results. “The parliament predominated by the AKP in 2003 could not agree on the memorandum, weakening Turkey in Iraq,” Bahçeli said regretfully although his party was out of the parliament.
As Turkey witnessed the mass Republic Protests in 2007, just before the start of the presidential election process, to prevent the victory of an Islamist candidate from the AKP party, the constitutional court decided that a quorum of two-thirds of the parliamentary seats was necessary, which was impossible without opposition support against the ruling AKP party.
As Erdoğan’s governing party nominated Abdullah Gül for the presidency, Bahçeli declared his decision not to boycott the elections in favour of the AKP party, eventually leading to the presidency of Islamist Gül, Erdoğan’s predecessor.  
When Turkey’s Constitutional Court launched a closure trial of AKP in 2008 for becoming ‘a centre for anti-secular activities’, Bahçeli and his MHP party backed the ruling party on the grounds that “the closure trial would lead to deeper political impacts.”
The fascist MHP party has unconditionally supported Erdoğan and his party in the government’s Islamic and misogynist attacks particularly in the field of education and cultural life until today.
Furthermore, the MHP party has always advocated the government when anti-worker laws and regulations were passed in the parliament. Thus, the AKP could easily privatize all the public entities of the country.
Bahçeli’s anti-labour and pro-market stance has remained at the forefront all the time. His party also supported the government during all the parliamentary memorandums to attack Turkey’s neighbours Syria and Iraq.
The biggest support of MHP to Erdoğan’s government came in 2016 following the failed coup. As the AKP government was planning for a presidential system in Turkey in the aftermath of the coup attempt amid state of emergency, Bahçeli said, “If the AKP brings its plans to parliament … I believe a reasonable outcome will be achieved,” hinting that his party would back the project. 
As Erdoğan’s party decided to hold a constitutional referendum in April 2017, Bahçeli became the leading megaphone of Erdoğan’s ‘yes’ campaign in order to change Turkey’s parliamentary system to a presidential system that brings grip on executive power.    
In this process, the Bahçeli leadership expelled all the dissident party members, who declared to participate in the ‘no’ campaign, from the MHP party. This led to the birth of the ‘Good Party’ under the lead of Meral Akşener, yet another ultra-nationalist figure and an ex-interior minister.
Having announced in April 2014 that “Erdoğan could not be a president”, Devlet Bahçeli totally reversed his tone and has become the feverish sycophant of Erdoğan. So much so that he supports the AKP-led state of emergency and unlawful decrees more than the AKP seniors do.
Even if Erdoğan himself has not declared his candidacy for the presidential election scheduled to be held in 2019, Bahçeli has already announced that his MHP party will support Erdoğan and his government.
Having left his mark on the Turkish political history as a man who paved the way for Erdoğan’s longstanding AKP rule, the President’s yes-man Devlet Bahçeli and his fascist MHP party seem to give Erdoğan a blank check on the road to a presidential system in the country.
Greek workers on the streets: Action and strike on January 12th against the new antipeople measures
| January 8, 2018 | 9:02 pm | Greece, PAME, Syria | No comments

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Greek workers on the streets: Action and strike on January 12th against the new antipeople measures

The All-Workers Militant Front (PAME) calls workers, youth, pensioners, the unemployed, farmers, the self-employed, all the people to massive, militant action. The government brings a new series of anti-workers measures. They must receive a dynamic response.

The SYRIZA-ANEL Government are imposing the demands of big capital, bringing a new round of measures of “fiscal adjustment” and of suppression of workers’-people’s struggles, with number one goal to ban our right to strike, and also to expand auctioning off of workers houses, so as to protect the profitability of business groups.
Tomorrow we walk the streets of struggle. We take part in the militant initiatives of the Trade Unions, Federations, Regional Trade Union Centers and other associations of the movement, till the day they bring the new measures to be voted in the parliament.
PAME also calls the trade unions to support the call of the National Workers’ Federations and Regional Trade Union Centers for National General Strike and to increase participation decisions for Friday, January 12th, the day when the new measures will be brought in the Parliament.
Program of Actions
Tuesday 9/1
In the afternoon PAME will organize rallies in Athens and other cities.
All day to be day of mass campaign to inform the workers in the factories, the industries, the offices, every workplace.
Wednesday 10/1
Continue the mass campaign to inform the workers and hold meetings and general assemblies in the work places.
In the afternoon massive protest demonstration at the Courts, which forward the auctions of people’s homes.
Thursday, 11/1
Day of preparation for the Strike. We use every way for the call of the strike to reach every worker, in every workplace.
“Hands off Strike: It is a workers’
right”. Banner by PAME.


We call all workers to take part in the Strike decided by the workers’ National Federations, Regional Trade Union Centers and Trade Unions. 12:00 noon at Omonoia Square in Athens and at the Venizelos’ statue in Thessaloniki.
Saturday and Sunday 13-14/1
The Unions to organize massive campaign of information of the workers in the neighborhoods and the workplace
Monday 15/1
On Monday 15/1 day that the measures will be voted in the Parliament, PAME calls workers, unemployed, retired, youth in a big rally demonstration in Athens at 6:00 pm. 
The Guardian’s Attempt to Save the White Helmets
| December 20, 2017 | 8:11 pm | Analysis, John Wight, Syria | No comments

Members of the Syrian Civil Defence, known as the White Helmets, take a selfie with their certificates after taking part in a training session in the rebel-held eastern Ghouta area, east of the capital Damascus, on November 22, 2016

The Guardian’s Attempt to Save the White Helmets



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John Wight

Joseph Goebbels, whose name is synonymous with the ‘art’ of propaganda, once opined, “It would not be impossible to prove with sufficient repetition and a psychological understanding of the people concerned that a square is in fact a circle.”

Propaganda – the spreading of false or misleading information in order to further a political or ideological cause – is by definition only effective to the extent that its recipients are willing to suspend disbelief. The challenge for those engaged in disseminating propaganda is not to make the mistake of crossing the line between the plausible and implausible, the possible and impossible. Do so and like a vampire being exposed to daylight, the façade of verisimilitude required to provide the message you are trying to impart with enough credence to pass muster is stripped away to reveal its half-truths, untruths, and willful distortions.

A recent article carried by UK’s liberal newspaper of record, the Guardian, titled ‘How Syria’s White Helmets became victims of an online propaganda machine’, purports to expose three prominent dissenting voices of the West’s official narrative of the conflict in Syria, lampooning their criticisms of the White Helmets, a western-funded and supported civil defence organization, impugning said journalists’ motives and credentials.

The White Helmets are an organization elevated to near-mythical status by Western journalists and politicians in recent years. When you consider that it is difficult to be seen to be lending support to people and groups with a penchant for hacking off people’s heads for the crime of daring to pray in a certain way, throwing others off tall buildings for daring to be gay, or raping women because they can, this makes sense. In other words, embracing the White Helmets as a surrogate for a Syrian opposition dominated by Islamists and Salafi-jihadis allows the group’s supporters in the West a moral safety valve when it comes to sustaining their position of regime change at all cost.

Olivia Solon kicks off her Guardian article thus: “The Syrian volunteer rescue workers known as the White Helmets have become the target of an extraordinary disinformation campaign that positions them as an al-Qaida linked terrorist organisation.”

READ MORE: White Helmets Volunteer Caught With Rebels Dumping Beheaded Bodies

Though I certainly would not describe the White Helmets as a ‘terrorist organisation’, it is undeniable the group operates in those parts of Syria controlled by the al-Qaeda affiliate Nusra Front (renamed Jabhat Fateh al-Sham in 2016) and other Salafi-jihadi groups, and has done since established in 2013 by retired British army officer James Le Mesurier. Are we expected to believe that such groups allow the White Helmets to operate freely and independently?

In a wide-ranging 2016 article, former US marine and UN weapons inspector, Scott Ritter, described Le Mesurier as a man who “had experience in the murky world of private security companies and the shadowy confluence between national security and intelligence operations and international organizations.” Meanwhile, of the White Helmets themselves, Ritter writes: “There is a symbiotic, hand-in-glove relationship between the anti-Assad rhetoric of the ostensibly “neutral and impartial” White Helmets and the policy objectives of their funders, a relationship that embodies the notion of a quid pro quo relationship between the two. With their training, equipment and logistical sustainment underwritten exclusively by donations from Western governments (primarily the U.S. and U.K.), the White Helmets serve as a virtual echo chamber for American and British politicians and officials.”

In her Guardian article, Ms Solon contradicts her own claim, mentioned earlier, that an “extraordinary disinformation campaign” is being waged against the White Helmets, when she reveals that “one former White Helmet was fired after he was filmed assisting armed militants in disposing of the mutilated corpses of pro-Assad fighters, and others have been photographed with guns despite marketing themselves as unarmed. There is also footage of White Helmets taking a body away from an execution carried out by rebel militants, which critics claim shows they are “assisting” executions.”

Ms Solon seasons her piece with a liberal sprinkling of accusations of Russian propaganda, attacking RT and Sputnik News in the accustomed manner. But what no one can deny is that neither she nor any other Western journalist would dare set foot in any part of Syria that is still under the control of so-called rebel groups to watch the White Helmets at work for themselves. They know that as soon as they did they would likely be abducted, tortured, and brutally murdered.The clincher in the article is provided by one of Ms Solon’s sources, Sam Woolley, whom we are informed: “studies computational propaganda at the University of Oxford.” Mr Woolley argues, “It’s all part of an effort to delegitimise western efforts to stabilise (my emphasis) Syria.” One can only surmise that Mr Woolley was mistaken or temporarily confused and meant to say, “western efforts to destabilise Syria.”

But then one person’s idea of destabilization is another person’s idea of stabilization. Indeed there are those who believe that “destroying the village in order to save it” is an entirely rational concept, justifying thereby the destruction of Iraq and Libya in recent years. After all, such people do actually exist. The vast network of neocon think tanks operating in Washington and across the West is stuffed full of them.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.  

Check out John’s Sputnik radio show, Hard Facts.