A friend who has spent many years in the Middle East, reporting, researching and writing, sends this report. It is his view, not Bandicoot’s, but Bandicoot endorses it.
The propaganda war over Iraq seemed unsurpassable. More than a quarter of a million people died, about three million were displaced, inside their own country or in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, and yet not one “weapon of mass destruction” was discovered.
This war was a second bite at Iraq. It followed the aerial onslaught of 1991 and the sanctions from 1990-2003, which killed or displaced millions and were described by UN officials as genocidal. Saddam brought the first war on his country (by invading Kuwait), but not the second. Only too late, for the Iraqi people certainly, did we the people realize we had been sucker-punched by the false claims being made by the American, British and Australian governments.
Then came Libya; more propaganda followed by the destruction of the most developed country in Africa during a seven-month aerial onslaught by American, French and British planes. This campaign ended in the hideous murder of Muammar al Qadhafi. “We came, we saw, he died,” cackled Hillary Clinton. Libya was destroyed and turned into another home base for the Islamic State.
Now we have Syria, where 300,000 people are estimated to have died since 2011 and half the country’s population of 22 million people have been displaced internally or externally, fleeing to Turkey, Jordan or Lebanon, and beyond.
This is not a civil war but a campaign launched by the US and its “western” and regional allies to destroy another Arab government. You were told violence only followed months of oppression, when in fact the armed groups were ready to go and killed scores of police and soldiers in the first week of the “uprising” in 2011.
You were told this war was about “transition to democracy”. What the US and its friends could not possibly admit was that Syria was already transitioning to democracy. In 2012 the people voted in a constitutional referendum to remove the privileged position of the Ba’ath party and turn the country into a multiparty democracy. Fifty-seven per cent of registered voters were able to make it to the polling booths, despite the troubled conditions of the country, and 89 per cent voted in favour of these changes.
In the 2014 presidential elections, observed by monitors from 30 countries, 89 per cent of registered voters (out of a turnout of 73.4 per cent) voted for President Assad. In the 2016 parliamentary elections, held in April this year, the National Progressive Front alliance, led by the Ba’ath party, won 80 per cent of the vote (200 out of 250 seats) with a voter turnout of 57 per cent. A significant number of Christians, including women, won seats.
Bearing in mind that Syria has been gripped by a terrible conflict for almost six years, the comparison with US voter turnout is interesting:
Of the 35 OECD (Organization of Cooperation and Development) members, the US ranks 31st when it comes to elections and voter turnout. Even without a war within their own borders, 40-50 per cent of Americans can’t be bothered to vote. Voting is not compulsory in the US or Syria but a greater number of citizens turn out to vote in Syria. They seem to take their democracy and their elections more seriously than do Americans.
If the US was concerned about democracy it wouldn’t be selling weapons to Saudi Arabia, now making war on Yemen and killing thousands of civilians in air attacks. It would have built on the positive moves being made by the Syrian government instead of trying to overthrow it. And why did it want to do that? Because it wanted to destroy Iran’s main ally in the Middle East and, in the process, fatally weaken the strategic alliance between Iran, Syria and Hizbullah in Lebanon. A second motive was oil, and the need for a Qatari pipeline to cross Syria, not one from Iran.
Failing to secure UN Security Council support for another aerial onslaught, on the Iraqi and Libyan models, the US, Britain, France, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar threw their financial and armed support behind the takfiri groups who have devastated Syria.
The word “takfiri” is more accurate than the commonly used “jihadist”. It describes people who regard everyone who does not agree with them – including Muslims – as non-believers ripe for the slaughter. All the fighting groups are takfiri. There are no “moderates” being backed against “extremists”, as even the US Vice President, Joe Biden, finally had to admit. They all operate from the same ideological base.
Since late last year the Syrian army, backed by Russian air power, has been steadily rolling back these groups. Late last year Russia intervened with the permission of the Syrian government. All other governments taking part in military action inside Syria are operating in serious standing violation of international law. They include Australia, which was involved in the recent US-led air near the eastern city of Deir al Zor. Scores of Syrian soldiers were killed and many more wounded. Australia apologized for the bombing, calling it a mistake, which the best evidence suggests that it was not, and that was the end of it.
The present epicentre of the war is Aleppo, so here are some more facts, which the media is not passing on to you. Aleppo is Syria’s biggest city. It is multi-ethnic, with a large Christian population, and managed to keep out of this conflict until it was infiltrated by takfiri groups in 2012. Their victims included two Orthodox bishops kidnapped by Chechens in 2013. There are reports they are still alive, or that one is alive, and also reports they have been murdered. (Click on map to enlarge it.)
The kidnapping of these men is part of a general assault on Christians and Christian churches in Syria, against all the teachings of Islam. The armed men who commit such deeds cannot be called Muslims.
The takfiris do not hold all of the city, only some districts in the east. Many civilians fled when they arrived but 200,000-250,000 are still there, effectively trapped and held hostage. The most powerful armed group in Aleppo is Jabhat al Nusra, the Al Qaida franchise in Syria, which recently rebranded itself as Jabhat Fath al Sham (Front for the Conquest of Syria) in an attempt to distance itself in the public mind from its origins and its ideology while remaining the same bloodthirsty group it always was.
The Syrian army has now encircled Aleppo and is trying to drive these people out. This is an army, by the way, and not the “Assad loyalists” or the “regime forces” to which the media regularly refers. It is fighting for the country, for a multi-ethnic, multi-confessional secular republic, against attempts to replace it with a regime that would make the Taliban or the Saudis look like softies. While the media is concentrating on Russian or Syrian attacks, it completely ignores the shelling of the government-held quarters by the “rebels” virtually every day. While the media focus on the alleged victims of the Russian or Syrian attacks it shows none of the victims of mortar shells or “hell bombs” – gas cylinders filled with metal fragments, glass and other deadly material – fired by the “rebels” into the government-held suburbs.
For all the attention given by the media to the bombing of hospitals, it ignores the destruction of Aleppo’s biggest hospital, Al Kindi, by these armed groups. They drove a truck packed with explosives into the main entrance, blew it up then took over the hospital and set it up as a military post. It has now been regained by the Syrian army, but is nothing but rubble.
Many of the videos and photographs coming out of the “rebel”-held quarters of city are staged. Fabrications through photo manipulating or staged events have been integral to the propaganda war. Those with the time to look can find plenty of examples on the internet. This is not to say civilians are not being killed. This is a war, after all, and civilians are being killed – but on both sides. You the media consumer would hardly know that.
Readers will have seen the photo of the bewildered, blood-smeared five-year-old boy sitting in an ambulance in Aleppo. It flashed around the world, dominating news pages and TV screens. This seems to have been another setup. No paramedic would leave a small child alone in the back of an ambulance without even wiping off the blood to check the wound. Further, the “activist” who recorded this scene was linked to one of the most murderous takfiri contingents, the Nur al Din Zinki Brigade, which had only recently beheaded a 12 or 13-year-old Palestinian boy in the back of a pickup truck.
The “white helmets” are another part of the propaganda war. They are regularly seen carrying children (and only children) from the rubble of destroyed buildings. This “aid” group, nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize but thankfully not receiving it, is embedded with the takfiri groups. It operates only in the areas held by these groups and is not independent, as it claims, but is funded by outside governments, including the US, the UK and the Dutch. It has a particularly close relationship with the British Foreign Office. It has no standing whatsoever with the International Civil Defence Organization (ICDO), not even that of an affiliated member.
Many of its “volunteer” members flaunt their admiration for the Islamic State or other takfiri groups on their Facebook pages. Many have been photographed standing with the armed groups, holding weapons and giving the single finger “takbir” (God is great) jihadist salute. Syria has had an authentic civil defence society since the 1950s. Our media tell us nothing of its work in rescuing civilians, rushing to the site of suicide bombings and the sites of other atrocities committed by takfiri groups supported by outside governments.
(Bandicoot strongly urges you to watch https://www.rt.com/shows/crosstalk/361887-white-helmets-aid-pr/ for more information on the “white helmets”. It will shock you. Western media, including Australia’s, are far from properly informed, or informative, on the Syrian conflict. For another revealing discussion, go to /362204-syria-russia-us-relations/)
The recent bombing of an aid convoy outside Aleppo was blamed on Russia by the US and its allies. There is not a jot of evidence for this. There is no evidence even that it was an air attack. It seems to have been a provocation launched by the “rebels”, partly to take the heat off the Americans after their attack on the Syrian army position. In taking these events at face value, without asking the questions that need to be asked, the media are acting again (after Iraq and Libya) as propagandist stenographers: more dangerously, they are playing their part in priming people for war.
There is a mountain of inconvenient facts and alternative interpretations that the media are not passing on to you, in favour of perpetuating a distorted narrative about a civil war and the “moderates” these outside governments are said to be supporting. In fact they are the groups (or their clones) against which we were supposed to be aligned in the “war on terror”. In any case this is no longer just a Syrian war but an existential contest between the US and Russia. The US is losing but is determined to win. Vladimir Putin, having committed Russian forces, cannot back off, either.
So be on your guard. Whether here or in the US or the UK, the mainstream media are parroting the government line. Look for alternative sources on the net and come to your own conclusions. For your sake, for the sake of Syria and its people, and for the sake of avoiding what Putin has described as America’s “irreversible course” towards war – a war that could be nuclear – do not allow yourselves to be played for fools again.