Hillary has repeatedly said: “We should also work with the coalition and the neighbors to impose no-fly zones that will stop Assad from slaughtering civilians and the opposition from the air. Opposition forceson the ground, with material support from the coalition, could then help create safe areas where Syrians could remain in the country, rather than fleeing toward Europe.”
This would mean that U.S. fighter-jets and missiles would be shooting down the fighter-jets and missiles of the Syrian government over Syria, and would also be shooting down those of Russia. The Syrian government invited Russia in, as its protector; the U.S. is no protector but an invader against Syria’s legitimate government, the Ba’athist government, led by Bashar al-Assad. The CIA has been trying ever since 1949 to overthrow Syria’s Ba’athist government — the only remaining non-sectarian government in the Middle East other than the current Egyptian government. The U.S. supports Jihadists who demand Sharia law, and they are trying to overthrow and replace Syria’s institutionally secular government. For the U.S. to impose a no-fly zone anywhere in Syria would mean that the U.S. would be at war against Russia over Syria’s skies.
Whichever side loses that conventional air-war would then have to choose whether to surrender, or instead to use nuclear weapons against the other side’s homeland, in order for it to avoid surrendering. That’s nuclear war between Russia and the United States.
Would Putin surrender? Would Hillary? Would neither? If neither does, then nuclear war will be the result.
Here are the two most extensive occasions in which Hillary has stated her position on this:
We should also work with the coalition and the neighbors to impose no-fly zones that will stop Assad from slaughtering civilians and the opposition from the air. Opposition forces on the ground, with material support from the coalition, could then help create safe areas where Syrians could remain in the country, rather than fleeing toward Europe.
This combined approach would help enable the opposition to retake the remaining stretch of the Turkish border from ISIS, choking off its supply lines. It would also give us new leverage in the diplomatic process that Secretary Kerry is pursuing. …
QUESTION: When you were secretary of state, you tended to agree a great deal with the then-Secretary of Defense Bob Gates. Gates was opposed to a no-fly zone in Syria; thought it was an act of war that was risky and dangerous. This seems to me the major difference right now between what the president — what Obama’s administration is doing and what you’re proposing.
Do you not — why do you disagree with Bob Gates on this?
CLINTON: Well, I — I believe that the no-fly zone is merited and can be implemented, again, in a coalition, not an American-only no-fly zone. I fully respect Bob and his knowledge about the difficulties of implementing a no-fly zone. But if you look at where we are right now, we have to try to clear the air of the bombing attacks that are still being carried out to a limited extent by the Syrian military, now supplemented by the Russian air force.
And I think we have a chance to do that now. We have a no-fly zone over northern Iraq for years to protect the Kurds. And it proved to be successful, not easy — it never is — but I think now is the time for us to revisit those plans.
I also believe, as I said in the speech, that if we begin the conversation about a no-fly zone, something that, you know, Turkey discussed with me back when I was secretary of state in 2012, it will confront a lot of our partners in the region and beyond about what they’re going to do. And it can give us leverage in the discussions that Secretary Kerry is carrying on right now.
So I see it as both a strategic opportunity on the ground, and an opportunity for leverage in the peace negotiations. …
QUESTION: Jim Ziren (ph), Madam Secretary. Hi. Back to the no- fly zone. are you advocating a no-fly zone over the entire country or a partial no-fly zone over an enclave where refugees might find a safe haven? And in the event of either, do you foresee see you might be potentially provoking the Russians?
CLINTON: I am advocating the second, a no-fly zone principally over northern Syria close to the Turkish (ph) border, cutting off the supply lines, trying to provide some safe refuges for refugees so they don’t have to leave Syria, creating a safe space away from the barrel bombs and the other bombardments by the Syrians. And I would certainly expect to and hope to work with the Russians to be able to do that. [She expects Putin to join America’s bombing of Syria’s government and troops and shooting-down of Russia’s planes in Syria, but no question was raised about this.] …
To have a swath of territory that could be a safe zone … for Syrians so they wouldn’t have to leave but also for humanitarian relief, … would give us this extra leverage that I’m looking for in the diplomatic pursuits with Russia with respect to the political outcome in Syria.
Bernie Sanders’s response to that was: “I worry too much that Secretary Clinton is too much into regime change and a little bit too aggressive without knowing what the unintended consequences might be.” He didn’t mention nuclear war as one of them.
Hillary Clinton has never been asked “What would you do if Russia refuses to stop its flights in Syria?” Donald Trump has said nothing about the proposal for a no-fly zone (other than “I want to sit back and see what happens”), because most Americans support that idea, and he’s not bright enough to take her on about it and ask her that question. Probably, if he were supportive of it, he’d have said so — in which case it wouldn’t still be an issue in this election. Trump muffed his chance — which he has had on several occasions. But clearly he, unlike her, has not committed himself on this matter.
Hillary Clinton is obviously convinced that the U.S. would win a nuclear war against Russia. The question for voters is whether they’re willing to bet their lives that she is correct about that, and that even if the U.S. ‘wins’, only Russia and not also the U.S. (and the world) would be destroyed if the U.S. nuclear-attacks Russia.
Every other issue in this election pales by comparison to the no-fly-zone issue, which is virtually ignored, in favor of issues that are trivial by comparison. But a vote for Hillary Clinton is a vote for nuclear war against Russia, regardless of whether or not the voters know this. And a vote for Trump is a vote for the unknown. Could the unknown be even worse than Hillary Clinton? If so, would it be so only in relatively trivial ways?
This election should be about Hillary Clinton, not about Donald Trump.
This could be the biggest revelation yet from WikiLeaks already epic email trove. Will the US media cover this story?
Last night, in an RT Exclusive interview conducted by award-winning filmmaker John Pilger, WikiLeaks editor and founder Julian Assange described what he believes is “the most significant email in the whole collection.”
WikiLeaks reveals an early 2014 email where the outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was urging John Podesta, then advisor to President Barack Obama, to “bring pressure” on Gulf states Saudi Arabia and Qatar, “which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL [Islamic State, IS, ISIS] and other radical Sunni groups.”
This constitutes proof that the Clinton Foundation knowingly accepting millions of dollars in ‘charitable’ donations from the same Gulf states which both Secretary Clinton and President Obama knew were funding ISIS, Al Nusra Front (al Qaeda in Syria) and known takfiri terrorist fighting organizations.
In addition, the Clinton’s Foundation took money from a number of other gulf monarchies:
According to FOX News, FBI sources have said that ‘indictments are likely’ for the Clinton Foundation investigation. One only wonders how this latest Assange revelation will factor into the wider investigation – as it goes right to the heart of the national security and foreign policy – two things which Clinton trades heavily on in her campaigning.
Assange went on to explain the deep ramifications of this latest criminal allegation against Clinton and her family foundation:
“All serious analysts know, and even the US government has agreed, that some Saudi figures have been supporting ISIS and funding ISIS, but the dodge has always been that it is some “rogue” princes using their oil money to do whatever they like, but actually the government disapproves. But that email says that it is the government of Saudi Arabia, and the government of Qatar that have been funding ISIS.”
During their 25-minute interview filmed at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, Assange and Pilger discussed the obvious conflict of interest between Clinton as Secretary of State, the Clinton Foundation and Gulf monarchies who financed them. The following is an excerpt from the interview transcript:
John Pilger: The Saudis, the Qataris, the Moroccans, the Bahrainis, particularly the first two, are giving all this money to the Clinton Foundation, while Hillary Clinton is secretary of state, and the State Department is approving massive arms sales, particularly Saudi Arabia.
Julian Assange: Under Hillary Clinton – and the Clinton emails reveal a significant discussion of it – the biggest-ever arms deal in the world was made with Saudi Arabia: more than $80 billion. During her tenure, the total arms exports from the US doubled in dollar value.
JP: Of course, the consequence of that is that this notorious jihadist group, called ISIL or ISIS, is created largely with money from people who are giving money to the Clinton Foundation?
Russia’s Defense Ministry has warned the US-led coalition against carrying out airstrikes on Syrian army positions. The Russian Defense Ministry stated that “any missile or air strikes on the territory controlled by the Syrian government will create a clear threat to Russian servicemen,” during a press conference on Thursday.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson General Igor Konashenkov said that many members of the Russian Reconciliation Center in Syria are working “on the ground” to deliver aid and “communicating with a large number of communities in Syria,” in his statement.
The statement was also a confirmation that Russia has S-400 and S-300 air-defense systems deployed to protect its troops and assets stationed at the Tartus naval base and their Khmeimim airbase. General Konashenkov said the radius of the weapons may be “a surprise” to unidentified flying objects. He also noted that the Syrian military has S-200 and BUK missile systems, which have been upgraded over the past year.
The Russian Defense Ministry’s statement came in response to what it called “leaks” in the Western media hinting that the United States is considering launching airstrikes against Syrian government forces.
“Of particular concern is information that the initiators of such provocations are representatives of the CIA and the Pentagon, who in September reported to the [US] President on the alleged controllability of ‘opposition’ fighters, but today are lobbying for ‘kinetic’ scenarios in Syria,” Konashenkov said.
Konashenkov then cautioned US officials to conduct a “thorough calculation of the possible consequences of such plans,” as the American strikes would likely lead to a serious response by Russia.
The Russian statement is the latest escalation in a series of warnings by each side. United States Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley warned on Wednesday that the United States was ready to “destroy” its enemies, saying “we will beat you harder than you have ever been beaten before,” in comments that many people interpret to be directed at Russia.
The planned ceasefire to end the Syrian proxy war collapsed on Monday when the US State Department announced it was ending bilateral talks with Russian officials. US officials say they will still negotiate with Russia in international forums on the Syrian war.
The ceasefire agreed to on September 9 required a 7-day period of reduced violence before the US and Russia would begin military cooperation and intelligence sharing to target the Islamic State and the Al Nusra Front, which is recognized as the Syrian Al Qaeda affiliate.
It was claimed that Syrian moderate opposition groups violated the ceasefire immediately and consistently while US officials maintain that the Syrian government and Russian military support were the primary cause of the failed ceasefire. US-led coalition jets bombed positions of the Syrian government forces fighting the Islamic State on September 17, killing 83 troops and wounding more than 100 other people. US defense officials say the airstrike was a mistake; however, Syrian officials claimed the incident was a “blatant aggression” as the attack lasted almost one hour.
On September 19, someone attacked a convoy of trucks delivering aid to a rebel-held area of Aleppo. Anti-government activists were emphatic the helicopters [were] dropping barrel bombs, followed by fighter jet strikes, which also used cluster bombs and-or machine gunned the area, keeping rebel help at bay so more witnesses would bleed to death.
A video seems to be consistent with that (see below), but it’s really not clear at all. Images showed trucks damaged by small-scale shrapnel (and/or bullets?) and gutted by fire – analysis of imagery and reports is well underway at A Closer Look On Syria. We’re still far from a clear reading, but from minute one the US has been quite clear the activist version was about right. An unnamed official told the Washington Post:
“We know it was an airstrike and not one from the coalition. We don’t know if it was Russia or the regime,” the only others flying over Syria, a senior administration official said. “In either case, the Russians have a responsibility certainly to avoid doing it themselves, but also to keep restraint on the regime.”
We know this? It’s not explained how. It sounds like the model of aircraft isn’t known, nor whose they were, just that they were present, in the air, and not ours. But another unnamed official said “two Russian SU-24 attack aircraft were in the sky above the convoy at the precise moment it was hit in Urum al-Kubra.” (BBC) This sounds like a radar finding, but it could be just empty words also. The official also noted the strike “was too sophisticated to have been carried out by the Syrian army.” Is it really excess sophistication? Or just that they just want to blame Russia specifically at this time?
There will be no radar proof brought forth, probably because they were watching and saw no movements. Most likely, this is nothing but circular reasoning – there was an airstrike that must have been the Russians, and they would use SU-24 jets, as usual, operating in pairs. But it will be read as independent proof – what odds that a possible airstrike happened while Russian jets were overhead? Obvious, “Putin crime!”
The US says it’s very certain. Uh-huh. A couple days earlier they were just as clear their aircraft were massacring Islamic State fighters near Deir Ezzour – in an area they, and not the Syrian army, normally held. After killing and wounding nearly 200 Syrian soldiers manning a well-known army-held position (see right), they stopped over Russia’s protest. Now they’re now trying to become sure those were Assad prisoners turned into unwilling soldiers, and/or dressed up as ISIS and put in a crucial spot in the hopes the US would kill them and get embarrassed. But it never works. The US these days seems to be far above shame or embarrassment, as they and their minions team up to mint custom-made realities daily. (See ACLOS)
The point is – we can’t trust Washington’s unnamed officials when they say what they believe to be the case. They’re telling us to believe their mistake story, but they don’t swallow that poison themselves. So, are they lying here as well? Especially when that lie would come so soon after and helps distract from the above-mentioned incident?
Russia’s Side of the Story
Russian defense ministry said there were no Russian or Syrian flights at the time:
But Russia, which denied its aircraft or those of its Syrian government allies were involved, said on Tuesday it believed the convoy was not struck from the air at all but had caught fire because of some incident on the ground.
“There are no craters and the exterior of the vehicles do not have the kind of damage consistent with blasts caused by bombs dropped from the air,” a statement from the defence ministry said.
Russian MoD found rebel large caliber mortar on a pickup truck moving with the convoy
(simply a reminder of the kind of weaponry all over the place, which could in fact have been the ground-based murder weapons).
After Russia’s protests, the UN changed its wording of its statement:
After the Russian explanation, the U.N. put out a revised version of an earlier statement, removing wording on “air strikes” and replacing it with references to unspecified “attacks”.
UN humanitarian spokesman Jens Laerke said the references to air strikes in the original statement, attributed to the top UN humanitarian officials in the region and in Syria, were probably the result of a drafting error.
“We are not in a position to determine whether these were in fact air strikes. We are in a position to say that the convoy was attacked,” he said.
However, most media and western government sources insist airstrike is evidently true.
Tracked by the Russians – into Terrorist Turf
Some have noted as suspicious how Russia had a surveillance drone to monitor the cease-fire, that happened to pass over the convoy as it sat parked -Elizabeth Tsurkov tweeted how “Russian drones w cameras followed the convoy’s movements,” tracking to kill, but then they released the video proof of their plot. Moscow’s take:
“Around 13:40 Moscow time (10:40 GMT) the aid convoy successfully reached the destination. The Russian side did not monitor the convoy after this and its movements were only known by the militants who were in control of the area,” Konashenkov added.
(13:40 will be the same 1:40 pm in both Moscow and Damascus.) This is apparently information they received – as I’ll explain, the drone passed later, and gave them a second piece of information.
[Below is Russian drone footage from above the UN convoy, showing US-backed ‘rebel’ militants driving an off-road vehicle with a large-caliber mortar launcher alongside UN aid trucks:]
. The scene: the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) convoy of some 30 trucks set out from government-held west Aleppo, headed southwest into Islamist rebel held territory, which starts almost immediately past the city. (time: not sure yet). They passed through Khan al-Assal and Kafr Naha, and at least some of the trucks arrived at a warehouse about two kilometers further west, just east of Urm al-Kubra in the early afternoon. They remained parked there until nightfall, when the attack occurred. The map below shows where they were seen driving through Kafr Naha and where the attack happened.
The left-hand image shows the parking-attack site. The sunlight there is at an azimuth of about 225 degrees, which equates to a time of around 2:25 pm. About 40 minutes after the arrival time cited, they were clearly parked and not moving. various clues make in daylight images compared to satellite views make it clear this is the same spot the attack happened, referred to as a center of the Red crescent. So they-were still parked at 7:30 or so when the incident happened.
The destination known to the Russians at 1:40 was the same spot they would be attacked. So they didn’t “track” it with the one short span, but it didn’t move after last seen. So the Russians did know where it was, although they might not have known they knew it. Their jets could likely confirm this just before any attack. It’s not an issue. If the Russians were for brazenly murdering aid workers in a crime they could hardly deny, they could have easily found the target. It’s plain disturbing how that doesn’t register as an “if” to so many. “Of course Putin would do that, and obviously did!”
Who decided to keep the convoy there, only partly unloaded by nightfall? Local authorities, of course. About 12 were killed, they say 18 wounded, and probably a few unharmed in the attack. About 40 people, let’s say, seem to be present at the time. Workers, loaders, drivers for (18?) trucks, overseers, etc. This might be a small crew, making unloading slow.
Who kept them in a known spot until it was dark, when someone killed them, and videos can’t prove who as easily? Who didn’t send more help, letting the offloading drag on so late? Was it someone who wanted to world to see a lot of aid destroyed by Assad-Putin? Someone like this Muslim Brotherhod-looking guy picking up pieces of human flesh to wave at the camera as he explains the results of his own investigation? Are these really trustworthy people?
[What appears to be a staged photo, where ‘rebels’ appear to have draped a Red Crescent jacket over an old bombed-out car at another alleged ‘Russian/Syrian Army airstrike’ on a “humanitarian warehouse” location]
Foreign-supported, anti-government, Islamist rebels administered this whole area, and helped set up the circumstances. Did they and their allies set up the rest of it as well? The location would be known to that Russian drone, and to any Russians who mattered. But it would be even more surely known about by FSA-linked Islamist false-flag units, to every terrorist with a mortar or rocket launcher in the area.So, we’d better hope there’s finally some real proof it was something flying that did it.
[Al Nusra terrorist-linked, US-UK-EU-funded ‘NGO’ The White Helmets’ seem to be on the scene with their usual video crews filming to create a western narrative of events] .
The lauded “White Helmets” were involved and cited as one source convincing the US there was an “airstrike”. But they don’t seem to save anyone here, that we see. They have explanations why. The SARC, by the way, are non-Islamist “competitors” to the White helmets, and maintain relations with the Syrian government (to some, they’re “agents of the regime.”)
But the terrorists and their supporters were clear it was a jet/helicopter/both, from Russia or Syria or both/whatever/not us. Uh-huh. Hell, they could have just raided the place, robbed and executed the aid workers, torched the trucks, and lobbed a few shells on it afterwards. Hypothetically. We’re still waiting to hear survivor stories, from verified witnesses, allowed to speak (unlikely). And besides, all of them would pass through White Helmets hands first. Incriminating videos could be deleted from their phones, etc.
Order of attack seems to be: alleged ‘barrel bomb’ attack from helicopter -follow-up alleged attack by jets… .
Video sees fires already, two powerful blasts, preceded by a whooshing sound, followed by ambiguous cries of Allahu Akbar. That could be a jet sound, real or dubbed in, or a rocket sound, perhaps. I’m not expert enough to call that point yet. That’s evidence, but not proof, at least to me. Unlike video fakery, audio fakery is very easy. There’s still no video for the helicopter part that first got the trucks burning. That would be harder to fake.
[Photo above, from terrorist-linked, French-EU-funded ‘Aleppo Media Center’, shows a burned out truck parked on the side of a road in question]
Analysis of the scene and damage is not cited as a reason to blame an “airstrike.” It seems unneeded, with all the unexplained total proof they must have. But people are looking. As Russia’s MoD noted, and we at ACLOS so far agree, there doesn’t seem to be a single crater in the available images, from an alleged 2-4 barrel bombs plus jet missiles. The road seems unnaturally smooth, as well as wet. It’s seen being bulldozed a bit, and sprayed down with water for no clear reason. it seems filled-in and re-graded by morning, making it hard to read any craters for direction of fire, etc.
[Another photo from EU-funded ‘Aleppo Media Centre’ shows the contents of the truck in tact demonstrating clearly that this truck was in fact ransacked and not hit by an airstrike]
How They Really Know
In a statement issued late Monday, the State Department said, “The destination of this convoy was known to the Syrian regime and the Russian federation and yet these aid workers were killed in their attempt to provide relief to the Syrian people.” They don’t and can’t explain how Russia’s awareness was supposed to equate with total protection – they have no say over what the US-backed terrorists do or don’t do – this only works with a complete presumption that it was an airstrike. To me, so far, this seems to be a completely unfounded – and thus criminal – presumption.
The motive was revealed by another unnamed US official recently. In a candid comment to the Daily Beast, that person said the United States had “helped” the OPCW uncover “on its own” evidence for Syria’s alleged use of chlorine gas, which the agency then did. This was done, the intelligence official said, “to work through the slow UN process, get the Russians to a place where they’re cornered diplomatically,” into abandoning support for the Syrian government.
This latest move fits that profile splendidly. A convoy full of aid and aid workers is blown to bits. So long as we presume it came from the air, and it couldn’t possibly be anyone on the US side … Russia is held to account. If they did it, they’re to blame. The only other option … left as an option! Those were Syrian SU-24s, and Russia admits Damascus is bad, and abandons “Assad” militarily, and starts helping with the desired outcome of regime change. How’s that for an attempt at getting the Russian “cornered?”
At the end of July 2016 the US Peace Council delegation entered Syria to meet with members of the elected Syrian government and opposition party members living inside Syria as opposed to those who have lived outside Syria since the beginning of the US allied war against Syria that was being fomented long before 2011.
Upon their return the delegates reported on what they had seen and heard with powerful honesty and integrity. They emphasized the need to lift the economic sanctions being imposed upon the “Syrian Government” by the US and EU NATO member states. These sanctions were seen to be collectively punishing the Syrian people first and foremost across all sectors including the crucial health and education sectors.
They also focused on the cessation of the illegal US military intervention both direct and by proxy terrorist forces that are marauding across Syria and massacring the Syrian people in their tens of thousands at the behest of the US, NATO members, the Gulf States and of course Israel.
The delegates spoke openly and forcefully at the UN in New York, accompanied by Dr Bashar Al Jaafari, permanent Syrian representative to the UN. Watch:
Following this conference, the US Peace Council came under attack from various NATO Left and anti-war organisations who seem unable to appreciate objective, constructive analysis of the US role in the destruction of another sovereign nation. The usual lines of attack were followed, including the lame pro-Assad label for anyone who chooses to discuss or highlight the positive aspects of the Syrian government and Syria’s President Bashar Al Assad.
The confusion among the anti war movements has been brought into sharp relief by the pragmatism of this US Peace Council’s reporting from another imperialist war zone in which all Syrian people are suffering. What became clear is that the genuine Syrian opposition had no desire to either take up arms or to destroy Syria to improve Syria. The destruction of this noble country is being engineered exclusively by the neocons inside the US with the help of allies in Europe, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Israel.
An article written by Terry Burke in InTheseTimes attempted to discredit the US Peace Council and the evidence it presented to the UN and in various subsequent articles, interviews and public speaking events. Burke’s diatribe relied on the tired anti Assad propaganda and parroted much of the NATO narrative that has maintained the perpetual conflict not only in Syria but region-wide since first Iraq and then Libya were converted to failed states and terrorist infested vacuums in 2003 and 2011 by the very forces that are now seeking the same in Syria.
This article ends on a familiar note, suggesting that the so called civil movement in Syria needs support, ignoring the majority of Syrians who do defend their elected government or the fact that many of the original peaceful protestors have long since abandoned their protests and stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with the Syrian state and their Syrian National Army who are battling to cleanse their country of the terrorist entities unleashed upon them by the US, NATO member states and allies.
These terrorist entities are not fighting for any Syrian-centric ideology or for the benefit of the Syrian people, they fight for money and for some warped vision of an Islamic state instilled in their NATO drug fuelled minds by the Wahhabi regimes in Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
They are fighting on behalf of the US and allies to destroy a nation that is built upon secular and socialist-democratic principles contrary to the majority of the US and EU media interpretation that governs much of the anti-war movement perception of this “conflict”.
The US Peace Council responded to this article by Terry Burke with dignity and gravitas proving once more that those who are continuing to support the NATO narrative are doing so either from a woefully misinformed position or are doing so because they are controlled opposition with a vested interest in feeding the propaganda mill. Anyone genuinely seeking an end to hostilities in Syria cannot fail to see the logic and vision of the US PC statement.
Here is that response:
“Pentagon and State Department, or the People of Syria? The U.S. Peace Movement Has to Decide Which Side It Is On — And Soon
An “Anti-Regime-Change” Position on Syria is NOT the same as a “Pro-Assad” Position! That is for the Syrian People to Decide Free of Foreign Intervention!
“All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state….” ~ Article 2 of the UN Charter
“Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations….” ~ Article 52 of the UN Charter
And one does not need to be only an “anti-imperialist” to stand for the principles of the United Nations Charter.
It is a sad irony that a significant segment of the U.S. peace and anti-war movement has now fallen prey to the distortions and misrepresentations promoted by the U.S. State Department, blindly repeating, and even insisting on, the distortions and falsehoods fed to the public by the war-mongers and their corporate media.
A vivid example of this fact was the vicious attacks that started soon after the return the U.S. Peace Council’s fact-finding delegation to Syria on July 30th. Immediately after the delegation’s Press Conference at the United Nations on August 9th, an article subtitled “Syria Serves up the Kool-Aid for Sympathizers,” appeared on the so-called “Talk Media News” web site, which, instead of dealing with the substantive issues raised by the delegation members, blasted a barrage of baseless accusations and slanders against not just the delegation members but the U.S. Peace Council itself, calling it, in a McCarthyite style, a “formerly Soviet-backed council,” in the hope that reviving Cold-War fears in the minds of possible listeners would keep them from hearing the hard facts provided by our delegation.
But being the target of such attacks by “news” outfits like “Talk Media News” is one thing, hearing similar accusations from our friends in the peace movement, like the writers and contributors to In These Times, is quite another.
The August 15th issue of In These Times contained an article titled “U.S. Peace Activists Should Start Listening to Progressive Syrian Voices,” by Terry Burke, described in the footnote as “a long-time peace activist.” It was our hope that her “long-time” activism and experience would have brought her to see the true nature of what is going on not only in Syria, but in all other countries that have been, and still are being, victimized by the United States’ wars of aggression. It was very disappointing to see the opposite.
Implicitly claiming that she knows Syria much better than the rest of the peace movement, Terry Burke starts by saying that “many peace activists know little about Syria’s peaceful uprising,” and as a result, “major organizations in the peace movement,” are now supporting “a dictator accused of monstrous war crimes.”
She then goes on to lump together a whole number of diverse organizations with different views and political orientations in her newly invented “pro-dictator” camp. What is the evidence? In her own words: “The March 13 … UNAC anti-war protest” (clearly not “pro-Assad protest”) in which many “left-wing” organizations, including the “pro-Assad Syrian-American Forum,” participated. And what is the charge? Some “people” were “carrying the flag of brutal Assad regime” and “some even wearing T-shirts with Assad’s image….”!
First, it is ironic that people like Terry Burke, who are claiming to be “fighting for democracy” in Syria, have no stomach for it in the United States. Do some Syrians (who are by the way the majority) have the right to support their government and have their President’s image on their T-shirts? Or, from her point of view, they should not exist at all? Isn’t that what ISIS is trying to do?
Second, is the falsification (or lack of knowledge) of the facts despite the author’s claim to knowing Syria better than others in the peace movement: Ms. Burke, Syrian flag is not “the flag of brutal Assad regime.” This flag was adopted as the flag of Syria when Syria became a part of United Arab Republics in 1958, 13 years before Hafiz Al-Assad first became the President of Syria. It does not stand for the “brutal Assad regime,” but officially represents “Syria’s commitment to Arab unity”! Why are you trampling on Syria’s national honor just to score an invalid point?
Third, and more important, is the lumping together of all organizations that participated in the March 13 anti-war protest and using “guilt by association” as a means of accusing “major peace organizations” of the “crime” of being “pro-Assad.” In doing so, Terry Burke is shifting the debate from one about whether people are for or against the war of aggression on Syria to one about whether they are pro- or anti-Assad. And this is exactly what the State Department and the corporate media are trying to do: “you are either with us or with Assad.” And within the peace movement: “You are not a genuine peace organization if you don’t join the anti-Assad camp”!
But this pro- or anti-Assad dualism is a false one that only serves the State Department and its war and regime change policy. It is meant to split, confuse and disarm the peace movement: if you oppose the regime change policy, you must be pro-Assad, and that’s it! And it seems it has been a successful strategy so far in both confusing and splitting the peace movement. With this dualism at work, the only choice left for the peace movement is to either join the State Department or the Assad government—nothing else.
It is in the context of this false dualism that Terry Burke talks about the “progressive Syrian voices” and sets them up against those in the peace movement she mockingly calls “anti-imperialists.” However, she herself falls victim of the same dualism she has created and inevitably ends up on the side of the State Department. Let’s take a look:
First, throughout the whole article, all you constantly read about is the “crimes” of the “Assad regime” and not a single word about the savage crimes of mercenaries and terrorists like ISIS, or about the innocent civilians that have been killed by US bombs and Saudi weapons. This is only a natural outcome of her argument: with regard to Syria, you can only be on one side or the other. And for her, the safe side is the side of the State Department. Thus the absolute silence on crimes that the US government and its allies are committing in Syria.
Another fact that reveals her true position is the terminology she uses and the “progressive Syrian opposition” she identifies with. First, she (probably inadvertently) refers to the ISIS-occupied territory of Syria as “liberated areas”! Interesting. Now ISIS has become a “liberating” force for Syrians.
Then she goes on to talk about the “remarkable ongoing successes and organizing efforts of grassroots groups” in these “liberated areas.” Well, the scenario becomes complete: ISIS has “liberated” parts of the Syrian territory and has empowered the “progressive Syrians” to “organize” in these “liberated areas.”
Didn’t George Bush claim that he “liberated” women of Afghanistan and the freedom-loving people Iraq? Didn’t Obama “liberate” the Libyan people from the “criminal dictator” Qaddafi? Are we looking for the same kind of “liberation” in Syria with the help of ISIS and the “progressive Syrians” it is harboring in the “liberated areas”?
Could these “progressive Syrians” survive the wrath of ISIS if they demanded anything other than the toppling of Assad government? Have we not witnessed the beheadings that are going on in those “liberated areas”? Only “barrel bombs” are killing the Syrian people?
Anticipating objections from the peace movement that the same fate is awaiting all of the Syrian people, she simply claims that the case of Syria is different:
“The analysis that the United States was promoting regime change was correct in Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), Cuba (1960-2015), Afghanistan (2001), Iraq (2003). But Syria is not Iraq. It is not Afghanistan. Syria is Syria. It has its own unique history and culture—and its own Arab Spring of a genuine popular uprising against nearly five decades of the brutal Assad family dictatorship. This revolution is real, and beyond U.S. control.”
Indeed, a “real revolution” with the help of U.S. arms, Saudi and Qatari funds, Turkish logistical support and Israeli intelligence is under way. But it is certainly not the Syrian people’s revolution. In fact, such revolutions were planned by the Bush Administration for 7 countries including Iraq, Libya, Syria and Iran, as testified by Gen. Wesley Clark, former supreme commander of NATO. And one by one they are being implemented.
We certainly oppose this kind of “revolution” and “liberation.” For us, the choice is much more than what Terry Burke has put before us. The Syrian situation is more complicated than that. We are dealing with two levels of reality that should not be collapsed into one.
One level is the war imposed by the U.S. Government and its allies against the independent state of Syria. In this war, we are on the side of the Syrian Government and the U.N. Charter.
The second level is the relationship between the Syrian Government and the Syrian people. On this level, we are always on the side of the Syrian people. The Syrian people have the right to change their government if they want to. But it is solely their decision. And the only way they can express their will is when they are free of any foreign intervention.
Terry Burke goes so far as accusing all independent journalists and others in the peace movement — all those whom she repeatedly mocks as “anti-imperialists” — as racists who are “behaving like imperialists,” by not listening to the “progressive Syrian voices” and “imposing their point of view on poorer countries voices.”
But she is putting herself in the same “imperialist” boat by taking an anti-Assad position as an American — no American has any right to decide Syria’s future — and ignoring the voice of the majority of Syrian people.
The true progressive opposition forces are inside Syria, not in the ISIS-“liberated areas,” and our delegation has met with many of them.
They have many disagreements with the Assad government, but strongly believe that they should join with their government against foreign attack and invasion, like any patriot would. The “progressive Syrian voices” that Terry Burke is identifying with do not have the monopoly on truth. She would be well served if she listened to the other opposition forces within Syria as well.
It is one thing for the Syrian people to oppose their government if they choose to. It is another thing for the foreigners to take the position of “Assad must go!” The latter is a clear imperialist demand that violates the international law. Our support in this case, as in any other case, is for the international law, the U.N. Charter, and the people’s right to self-determination — and not for or against any particular government or leader.
We hope that this has become clear once and for all.”