Tag Archives: Syria

The progressive civil war over Syria and Assad exposes an astonishing lack of intellectual curiosity by some on the American Left, by Scott Ritter

The left has accepted without question the government’s narrative on Syria and Assad, notwithstanding it’s gaping holes and contradictions. From Scott Ritter at rt.com:

The progressive civil war over Syria and Assad exposes an astonishing lack of intellectual curiosity by some on the American Left
Truth and politics are often mutually exclusive concepts when dealing with the progressive American Left. This unfortunate fact is being driven home in spades in an ongoing spat between two lefty online personalities.

Anyone following Aaron Maté (149K followers on Twitter); The Young Turks (TYT, with 440K followers as an institution, and as many followers each tracking the activity of co-hosts Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian); the comedian Jimmy Dore (274K followers); or any number of other Twitter personalities whose online paths have crossed with any of the above; knows these left-leaning social media stars have been engaged in a vicious feud. Full disclosure, I have appeared on both Maté’s podcast, Pushback, as well as The Young Turks radio show. At issue is Syria and, more pointedly, the contention by both Uygur and Kasparian that Maté is shilling for President Bashar Assad.

A tale of two narratives

The sheer drama and vitriol which has emerged as a result of this feud has been entertaining for those who get a kick out of leftwing internecine warfare. Maté’s use of Jimmy Dore’s popular online program The Jimmy Dore Show as a platform for promoting his arguments has torn the scab off old wounds created when Dore left The Young Turks and struck out on his own, appears to underpin at least some of Uygur and Kasparian’s anti-Maté invective. However, more interesting is the fact that, as Maté pointed out in a recent interview with The Hill, the progressive wing of the American Left has hit a brick wall over the issue of Syria. Criticism of Assad has run up against the lies used to sustain US military hegemony in the Middle East.

“I think,” Maté noted, “that that meltdown reflects just like a general hostility they [The Young Turks] have towards people who are upholding actual progressive values and upholding actual journalism standards.” While the smear campaign waged by Uygur and Kasparian has been as unconscionable as it has been factually wrong, the fact that there is controversy among the progressive wing of the American political Left should not surprise anyone.As Maté observed, “[t]he reason why they slandered me at that time is because I was in Syria and Syria is a, you know, touchy subject for many people on the Left. It has been divisive.”

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Pressed for answers on Syria cover-up, OPCW chief offers new lies and excuses, by Aaron Maté

Anybody who has paid attention to this case knows the OPCW has lied through its teeth. Fortunately for the OPCW, very few people are paying attention. From Aaron Maté at thegrayzone.com:

Facing growing outcry, OPCW Director General Fernando Arias went before the UN and told new falsehoods about his organization’s Syria cover-up scandal — along with more disingenuous excuses to avoid addressing it.

In the two years since the censorship of a Syria chemical weapons investigation was exposed, the head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Fernando Arias, has vigorously resisted accountability.

Arias has refused to investigate or explain the extensive manipulation of the OPCW’s probe of an alleged April 2018 chlorine attack in Douma. Rather than answer calls to meet with the veteran inspectors who protested the deception, Arias has disparaged them. The OPCW Director General (DG) has even resorted to feigning ignorance about the scandal, recently claiming that “I don’t know why” the organization’s final report on Douma “was contested.”

Facing growing pressure to address the cover-up – most prominently in a “Statement of Concern” from 28 notable signatories, including five former senior OPCW officials – Arias came before the United Nations Security Council on June 3rd to answer questions in open session for the first time.

In a nod to the public outcry, Arias backtracked from a previous statement that the Douma controversy could not be revisited. But while appearing to suggest that the investigation could be reopened, Arias offered more falsehoods about the scandal, and new disingenuous excuses to avoid addressing it.

This two-part report summarizes Arias’ latest evasions and distortions, which include the following:

• Rejecting proposals for resolving the Douma controvery, Arias invoked restrictions that do not appear to exist. Arias falsely claimed that the OPCW’s Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) has “no authority” to examine the suppressed Douma evidence. Arias also claimed that he personally has “no authority whatsoever to reopen this investigation,” even though the OPCW’s regulations contain no such limits.

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Manufactured Mission: The Iraq & Syria Forever War-Factories, by Danny Sjursen

The US government has perfected the art of never-ending wars conducted for the benefit of the defense industry and the government’s defense bureaucracies. From Danny Sjursen at antiwar.com:

It is by now a near cliché in defense-watcher circles to talk about the common peril of “mission creep” in military interventions. Naturally, that’s not translated to America avoiding this tendency – of gradually shifting objectives during the course military missions, until stuck in unplanned long-term quagmires – very much at all. Nevertheless, as if it wasn’t ridiculously obvious enough, the Biden Administration’s Sunday night bombings of allegedly Iranian-backed militia sites in Syria and Iraq illustrate that what’s been unfolding on those adventures is more mission-manufacture than creep.

Almost all mainstream media articles or reports describe the latest strikes as retaliatory responses to rocket or drone strikes on US military bases in one or both countries, and refer to the alleged Iraqi or Syrian culprits as “Iranian-backed.” Seriously, like every time. In so doing, the establishment press uncritically – and one suspects, in many cases, willfully – accepts the US Government’s line and denies any agency (and legitimacy, grievances, or outright identity) to the numerous, diverse, and complex Iraqi and Syrian resistance groups actually doing the shooting. Most reporting on such bombings also offers the impression that these missions – if not the world – began yesterday, omitting almost all backstory, context, or nuance.

The absence of these three critical elements of any effective analysis is, of course, rather convenient for a Washington establishment which would otherwise have its initial illegalities, dissembling justifications, senseless strategies, and inherent indecencies in two wars they’ve championed comprehensively exposed. Overall, it’s the utter ignorance – willful or otherwise – currently characterizing America’s Iraq and Syria policies that’s truly striking. More troubling, though, is the public apathy enabling the nefarious pundit-politician nexus to continue the killing – this, perhaps befitting a nation finally gone mad on the narcotic of responsibility-free forever wars.

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US Again Bombs Nations On Other Side Of The World In “Self-Defense”, by Caitlin Johnstone

The US government and military would at least cut down on the well-earned contempt directed towards them if they just did what they were going to do without offering any bullshit explanations or justifications. You earn no respect when you treat people like idiots. From Caitlin Johnstone at caitlinjohnstone.com:

The US is again illegally bombing nations on the other side of the planet which it has invaded and occupied and branded this murderous aggression as “defensive”.

“At President Biden’s direction, U.S. military forces earlier this evening conducted defensive precision airstrikes against facilities used by Iran-backed militia groups in the Iraq-Syria border region,” reads a statement by Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby. “The targets were selected because these facilities are utilized by Iran-backed militias that are engaged in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) attacks against U.S. personnel and facilities in Iraq. Specifically, the U.S. strikes targeted operational and weapons storage facilities at two locations in Syria and one location in Iraq, both of which lie close to the border between those countries.”

Even more absurd than the fact that we’re all still pretending this clearly dementia-addled president is “directing” anything is the claim that these actions were “defensive” in nature. It is not possible for occupying invaders to be acting defensively in the nations they are occupying an invading; US troops are only in Iraq by way of an illegal 2003 invasion, a bogus 2014 re-entry, and a refusal to leave at the Iraqi government’s request last year, and they are in Syria illegally and without the permission of the Syrian government. They can therefore only ever be aggressors; they cannot be acting defensively.

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Biden’s Lawless Bombing of Iraq and Syria Only Serves the Weapons Industry Funding Both Parties, by Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald challenges the most sacred of sacred Washington cows—endless wars and humongous military budgets. From Greenwald at greenwald.substack.com:

U.S. citizens derive no benefit, but instead suffer great loss, from endless war in the Middle East. But their interests are irrelevant to decisions of bipartisan Washington.

US President Joe Biden salutes along with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin before delivering an address at the 153rd National Memorial Day Observance at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day in Arlington, Virginia on May 31, 2021. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

For the second time in the five months since he was inaugurated, President Joe Biden on Sunday ordered a U.S. bombing raid on Syria, and for the first time, he also bombed Iraq. The rationale offered was the same as Biden’s first air attack in February: the U.S., in the words of Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, “conducted defensive precision airstrikes against facilities used by Iran-backed militia groups in the Iraq-Syria border region.” He added that “the United States acted pursuant to its right of self-defense.”

Embedded in this formulaic Pentagon statement is so much propaganda and so many euphemisms that, by itself, it reveals the fraudulent nature of what was done. To begin with, how can U.S. airstrikes carried out in Iraq and Syria be “defensive” in nature? How can they be an act of “self-defense”? Nobody suggests that the targets of the bombing campaign have the intent or the capability to strike the U.S. “homeland” itself. Neither Syria nor Iraq is a U.S. colony or American property, nor does the U.S. have any legal right to be fighting wars in either country, rendering the claim that its airstrikes were “defensive” and an “act of self-defense” to be inherently deceitful.

The Pentagon’s description of the people bombed by the U.S. — “Iran-backed militias groups” — is intended to obscure the reality. Biden did not bomb Iran or order Iranians to be bombed or killed. The targets of U.S. aggression were Iraqis in their own country, and Syrians in their own country. Only the U.S. war machine and its subservient media could possibly take seriously the Biden administration’s claim that the bombs they dropped on people in their own countries were “defensive” in nature. Invocation of Iran has no purpose other than to stimulate the emotional opposition to the government of that country among many Americans in the hope that visceral dislike of Iranian leaders will override the rational faculties that would immediately recognize the deceit and illegality embedded in the Pentagon’s arguments.

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US Threatens Sanctions On Gulf Allies If They Normalize Relations With Assad, by Tyler Durden

After ten years of abject failure, the US government is still bent on regime change in Syria. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

For the past couple months there’s been persisting reports and rumors that Saudi Arabia is preparing to restore diplomatic ties and normalized relations with the Syrian government under Bashar al-Assad, coming off a decade of war in which the Saudis spearheaded efforts alongside the US and other allies to topple him.

As we detailed in early May the first major step toward detente came when Saudi Arabia’s powerful intelligence chief, Gen Khalid Humaidan, traveled to Damascus to meet with his Syrian counterpart. The two sides broke off relations since near the start of the war in 2011, especially as it became clear the Saudis were a key part of the Western allied push for regime change, through covert support to anti-Assad insurgents and jihadists which included regular weapons shipments.

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, left, and Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus on Oct. 7, 2009, via AP.

Starting in 2018, other Arab capitals had begun seeking to mend relations with Assad, especially after the United Arab Emirates reopened its long shuttered embassy in the Syrian capital at the end of that year. There’s even been talk of late of Assad being invited back into the Arab League.

Essentially America’s Gulf allies are fast coming to the conclusion that Assad is here to stay, and that pragmatism means opening up relations; however, Washington doesn’t see it that way – as its prior long-running covert war has turned to an economic war of economic strangulation and choking off national resources by occupying the oil and gas rich northeast.

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Assad Move by KSA and UAE Is All About Investing in Russia as a Guarantor for Elites to Remain in Power, by Martin Jay

A number of Middle Eastern Arab countries are cozying up to Syria’s Bashar al-Assad because of Syria’s big brother—Russia. From Martin Jay at strategic-culture.org:

America may “be back” for most of the world, but for the Middle East the only thing it is “back” to, is Obama’s “soft power” touch in the region.

GCC countries have so much to learn from Assad on how to survive an uprising and how to stay in power. But what he can really teach them is how to handle Moscow

In early June, the world was rocked by news from the Middle East that Gulf Arab leaders are now moving even further to becoming a full-on ally of Syrian leader Bashir al-Assad. Now, all countries have their embassies re-opened in Damascus with Saudi Arabia being the last to jump on the bandwagon and the new position of these GCC states is to go beyond merely bringing him in from the cold but to embrace him. Soon, we will see Syria reinstated in the Arab League, an institution largely known around the world as an Arab elite talk shop which only makes the headlines when its members have a very good lunch and often nod off in the afternoon during the speeches.

On the face of it, the move is pragmatic, even erudite. Assad is the ultimate survivor who has fought and won a counterrevolution against the very people – the Muslim Brotherhood – which most (not all) GCC states hate vehemently.

Yet there is some irony now with those same Gulf Arab countries using their influence in Washington to try and convince Joe Biden’s administration that it is time to lift sanctions against Syria. Indeed, it is the Biden touch which has pushed Saudi Arabia, UAE and others towards this extreme measure of “if you can’t beat them, join them.” America may “be back” for most of the world, but for the Middle East the only thing it is “back” to, is Obama’s “soft power” touch in the region.

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Were the Wars Wise? Were They Worth It? by Patrick J. Buchanan

Very little about US warmaking since World War II can be considered wise or worthwhile. From Patrick J. Buchanan at lewrockwell.com:

Through the long Memorial Day weekend, anyone who read the newspapers or watched television could not miss or be unmoved by it: Story after story after story of the fallen, of those who had given the “last full measure of devotion” to their country.

Heart-rending is an apt description of those stories; and searing are the videos of those who survived and returned home without arms or legs.

But the stories could not help but bring questions to mind.

While the service and sacrifice were always honorable and often heroic, never to be forgotten, were the wars these soldiers were sent to fight and die in wise? Were they necessary?

What became of the causes for which these Americans were sent to fight in the new century, with thousands to die and tens of thousands to come home with permanent wounds?

And what became of the causes for which they were sent to fight?

The longest war of this new century, the longest in our history, the defining “endless war” or “forever war” was Afghanistan.

In 2001, we sent an army halfway around the world to exact retribution on al-Qaida for 9/11, an attack that rivaled Pearl Harbor in the numbers of dead and wounded Americans.

Because al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden had been given sanctuary by the Taliban in Kabul, who refused to give him up, we invaded, overthrew that Islamist regime and cleansed Tora Bora of al-Qaida.

Mission accomplished. But then the mission changed.

In control of a land that had seen off British and Soviet imperialists, we hubristically set about establishing a democracy and sent hundreds of thousands of Americans to hold off the rebel resistance for two decades while we went about nation-building.

We did not succeed. All U.S. troops are to be gone by the 20th anniversary of 9/11. And the Taliban we ousted has never been closer to recapturing power in Kabul.

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Biden and His Aides Pushed America Into Syria’s Civil War a Decade Ago, by Doug Bandow

Can you teach an old regime-changer new tricks? From Doug Bandow at antiwar.com:

The United States tore itself apart with extraordinary violence 160 years ago. Around 750,000 Americans died in the Civil War, which would be about eight million dead today. It is an experience no American should want to go through again.

Yet U.S. policymakers seem drawn to foreign conflicts like moths to light. Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton unaccountably made brutal battles in Lebanon, Somalia, and the Balkans Washington’s own. George W. Bush turned Iraq into a civil war and joined Afghanistan’s long-running conflict. Barack Obama escalated in Afghanistan, returned to Iraq after leaving, and racked up involvement in three additional bitter conflicts: Libya, Syria, and Yemen. Donald Trump kept the US fighting in all of them, though he launched a last-minute bid to withdraw from the longest one, Afghanistan.

So tired of enduring “endless wars” was the American public that even candidate Joe Biden promised to halt them. But will he? Or will this pledge, like the promises of so many other presidents, end up down the fabled memory hole?

A decade ago the “Arab Spring” swept the Middle East. Protests in Tunisia upended the dictator and led to a democracy which survives against the odds. In Egypt the autocrat also was ousted and a democratic election for president was held. However, the Saudis and Emiratis underwrote the generals, who retook control, creating an even more brutal tyranny that killed hundreds and imprisoned tens of thousands. The Gulf monarchies generally recognized the threat and opened their treasuries to dampen revolutionary sentiments. Bahrain invited Emirati and Saudi troops to back a vicious crackdown on protesters and guarantee the authoritarian Sunni monarchy’s survival, along with its rule over a majority Shia population.

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Joe Biden Is Following a Blueprint for Forever War, by Danny Sjursen

Going bigger in Syria and backing up the power-mad idiot in Saudi Arabia just gets the US more stuck on the Middle Eastern tar baby. From Danny Sjursen at inthesetimes.com:

Bombing Syria and excusing the crimes of the Saudi crown prince won’t bring us any closer to a withdrawal from the Middle East.

Last week, the U.S. military bombed a site near al-Hurri, along the Iraqi border inside Syria, where Iranian-backed Iraqi militias were allegedly stationed. Although the U.S. launched its missiles across an international border (and without the approval of Congress), White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki framed the strike as a ​defensive” response to a series of rocket attacks that have killed one and wounded several Americans over the past two weeks. The American bombing left up to a handful dead,” according to one U.S. official who spoke with CNN, and Tehran condemned the assault as ​illegal and a violation of Syria’s sovereignty” — a perception gap certain to complicate President Joe Biden’s pronounced plans to reverse Donald Trump’s antagonistic Iran policies and rejoin the nuclear deal.

The campaign will do little to further the United States’ objectives in the Middle East (in as much as they can even be articulated at this point), but it heralds something more dispiriting still: That nearly two decades into a regional war, Washington (perhaps willfully) does not understand the Syria-Iraq-Iran nexus, and that the Biden administration is following a failed blueprint in the Middle East — a reality that was thrown into even sharper relief when the U.S. elected not to punish Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) after the release of a declassified intelligence report that found he was directly responsible for the murder of the Washington Post’s Jamal Khashoggi.

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