That the Free Syrian Army was in bed with al Qaeda and ISIS against the government of Syria has not stopped the US government from supporting it and lionizing its dead. From Caitlin Johnstone at caitlinjohnstone.com:
On Wednesday the alternative media outlet Southfrontpublished an article titled “New Video Throws Light On Jaysh Al-Izza High-Tolerance To Al-Qaeda Ideology” about newly discovered footage showing the leader of a “rebel” faction in Syria cozying up with a militant who was wearing a badge of the official flag of ISIS.
“The video shows Jaysh al-Izza General Commander Major Jamil al-Saleh congratulating a group of his fighters on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr in a underground bunker,” Southfront reports. “One of the fighters greeted by Saleh was wearing a batch of the Islamic Black Standard with the Seal of Muhammad. This is a well-known symbol of al-Qaeda and the official flag of ISIS.”
Today, mass media outlets are mourning the death of a well-known Jaysh al-Izza fighter named Abdel-Basset al-Sarout with grief-stricken beatifications not seen since the death of war criminal John McCain. An Associated Press report which has been published by major news outlets like The New York Times, The Guardian, PBS and Bloomberg commemorates Sarout as a “Syrian soccer goalkeeper” who “won international titles representing his country”, as “the singer of the revolution”, and as “an icon among Syria’s opposition”.
Remember Major Jamil al-Saleh from two paragraphs ago? AP features his glowing eulogy in its write-up on Sarout’s death:
“He was both a popular figure, guiding the rebellion, and a military commander,” said Maj. Jamil al-Saleh, leader of Jaish al-Izza rebel group, in which Sarout was a commander. “His martyrdom will give us a push to continue down the path he chose and to which he offered his soul and blood as sacrifice.”
Other mainstream outlets like BBC, The Daily Beast and Al Jazeera have contributed their own fawning hagiographies of the late Jaysh al-Izza commander.
When it comes to Syria, the corporate media has been 100 percent reliable in touting the US government line. From Jonathan Cook at antiwar.com:
The media are not a watchdog on power but the public relations arm of giant corporations pursuing their narrow interests in the Middle East
By any reckoning, the claim made this week by al-Qaeda-linked fighters that they were targeted with chemical weapons by the Syrian government in Idlib province – their final holdout in Syria – should have been treated by the western media with a high degree of skepticism.
That the US and other western governments enthusiastically picked up those claims should not have made them any more credible.
Skepticism was all the more warranted from the media given that no physical evidence has yet been produced to corroborate the jihadists’ claims. And the media should have been warier still given that the Syrian government was already poised to defeat these al-Qaeda groups without resort to chemical weapons – and without provoking the predictable ire (yet again) of the west.
But most of all skepticism was required because these latest claims arrive just as we have learnt that the last supposed major chemical attack – which took place in April 2018 and was, as ever, blamed by all western sources on Syria’s president, Bashar Assad – was very possibly staged, a false-flag operation by those very al-Qaeda groups now claiming the Syrian government has attacked them once again.
Addicted to incompetence
Most astounding in this week’s coverage of the claims made by al-Qaeda groups is the fact that the western media continues to refuse to learn any lessons, develop any critical distance from the sources it relies on, even as those sources are shown to have repeatedly deceived it.
This was true after the failure to find WMD in Iraq, and it has been confirmed after the the international community’s monitoring body on chemical weapons, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), was exposed this month as deeply dishonest.
Remember that terrible chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria, April of last year? The US immediately proclaimed Syria’s government responsible, which would have been a suicidally stupid move on the part of the Syrian government. As is so often the case, the facts don’t support the US “interpretation.” From Caitlin Johnstone at medium.com:
“It is hard to overstate the significance of this revelation,” tweets former British MP George Galloway of a new report by the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media (WGSPM). “The war-machine has now been caught red-handed in a staged chemical weapons attack for the purposes of deceiving our democracies into what could have turned into a full-scale war amongst the great-powers.”
“An important #Douma #Syria ‘Assad chemical weapon attack’ development and yet more evidence to suggest the ‘attack’ was staged, as it’s now revealed that @OPCW suppressed expert engineers report that found the cylinders were likely not dropped from the air,” tweets former Scotland Yard detective and counterterrorism intelligence officer Charles Shoebridge.
“The engineering assessment confirms our earlier conclusion,” the excellent Moon of Alabama blog writes. “The whole scene as depicted by ‘rebels’ and propaganda organs was staged. The more than 34 dead on the scene were murdered elsewhere under unknown circumstances.”
An important #Douma #Syria ‘Assad chemical weapon attack’ development and yet more evidence to suggest the ‘attack’ was staged, as it’s now revealed that @OPCWsuppressed expert engineers report that found the cylinders were likely not dropped from the air https://t.co/hZCP2Ujlbk
Before the US government considers intervening in Algeria or Sudan, it should contemplate its dismal record for Middle Eastern and North African interventions. From Danny Sjursen at antiwar.com:
American meddling has a way of making things worse, everywhere and all the time. So, as Algeria and Sudan now undergo coups and government transitions, here’s a thought for the U.S. empire: Leave well enough alone! It’s only been a couple weeks, but optimistic liberal interventionists have already dubbed the instability in Algeria and Sudan a “new” Arab Spring—a reference to the pro-democracy protests and attempted, or actual, government overthrows in 2011 and 2012 in Syria, Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, Libya and Yemen. Back then, boy, Washington, with its newly minted idealist President Barack Obama, was just sure that those revolts augured a fresh democratic wave in the notoriously autocratic Mideast. Some even averred that George W. Bush and company had been vindicated—were, in fact, right about the fertility of Arab soil for Jeffersonian democracy.
This wasn’t the case, of course. For a number of complex reasons—one of which was American interventionism—all but Tunisia collapsed into chaos, civil war or renewed dictatorship. That Tunisia held out may, at least in part, have to do with the relatively limited US influence and activity in that North African backwater. For his part, Obama didn’t know what to do with the Arab Spring. He’d campaigned on an (allegedly) anti-interventionist platform—except in Afghanistan, of course—but the truth is that he and his neoliberal Cabinet team, which included Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, could hardly contain its excitement. Obama didn’t want to be seen as being on the wrong side of history, but he also didn’t want a new American crusade in the region, so he hedged. The results were unhappy and, in many cases, disastrous.
Slowly but surely, countries in the Middle East are resisting US dictates and drifting away from the US orbit. The latest is Egypt. From Tom Luongo at strategic-culture.org:
Amidst all of the truly terrible things happening geopolitically around the globe I find it’s important to take that big step back and assess what’s really going on. It’s easy to get caught up (and depressed) by the deluge of bad news emanating from the Trump administration on foreign policy matters.
It seems sometimes that it’s pointless to even discuss them because any analysis of today will invariably be invalidated by the end of the week.
But that’s also why the big picture analysis is needed.
Resistance to the US empire’s edicts is rising daily. We see it and we see the counter-reactions to them from the useful idiots who make up Trump’s Triumvirate of Belligerence – John Bolton and Mikes Pompeo and Pence.
It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about sovereigntist movements across Europe threatening the apple cart of the wicked European Union or something as small as Syria granting Iran a port lease in Latakia.
The Trump administration has abandoned diplomacy to such an extent that only raw, naked aggression is evident. And it has finally reached the point where even the world’s most accomplished diplomats have dispensed with the niceties of their profession.
Neoconservatives condemn Russia intervention in Syria and Venezuela, at the same time advocating US intervention in Syria and Venezuela. From Jacob G. Hornberger at fff.org:
Last week a Wall Street Journal editorial revealed the incorrigible hypocrisy with which conservatives have long suffered. Conservatives, of course, have long suffered this malady with respect to domestic policy given their ardent devotion to Social Security, Medicare, foreign aid, and other welfare-state programs even while decrying the left’s devotion to socialism. But this particular WSJ editorial revealed the incorrigible conservative hypocrisy with respect to foreign policy.
The editorial was entitled “Putin Pulls a Syria in Venezuela.” The opening sentence is comical: “Vladimir Putin has made a career of intervening abroad and seeing if the world lets him get away with it.”
Why is that sentence funny? Because it also describes ever single U.S. president for the last 100 years! Every president from Woodrow Wilson through today has made a career of intervening abroad and seeing if the world lets him get away with it. Indeed, the central feature of the U.S. government for the last 100 years has been and continues to be empire and foreign interventionism.
In a controversial snub to international law, the United States signaled last week that it is moving to officially recognize the Golan Heights as part of Israeli territory. If the US does so, then it forfeits any moral authority to sanction Russia over allegations of “annexing Crimea”.
In its annual US State Department report, the section dealing with the Golan Heights reportedly refers to the contested area as “Israeli-controlled”, not “Israeli-occupied”. The change in wording deviates from United Nations resolutions and international norm which use the term “Israeli-occupied” to designate the land Israel annexed from Syria following the 1967 Six Day War.
Israel has occupied the western part of the Golan since 1967 as a spoil from that war. In 1981, Tel Aviv formally annexed the Syrian territory. However, the UN Security Council in 1981, including the US, unanimously condemned the annexation as illegal. The resolution mandates Israel to return the land to Syria which has historical claim to the entire Golan. The area of 1,800 square kilometers is a strategic elevation overlooking the northern Jordan Valley.
If Washington confirms its recent indications of recognizing the Golan as officially part of Israel, the development would mark an egregious flouting of international law.
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