Break the sieges? What about the economic siege on Syria?

By Jay Tharappel | 28.09.2016

Syrian religious leaders representing the republic’s three largest churches (Greek Orthodox, Melkite Catholic, and Syrian Orthodox) recently issued a statement calling for an end to the economic sanctions on Syria, which they blamed for impoverishing the Syrian people.

That the west predictably ignored these calls is symptomatic of their abject refusal to address the most important truth about the war, which is that the militias waging war on the Syrian state are infinitely more dependent on an external predatory alliance of nations for constant flows of foreign mercenaries, funding, weapons, training, and even direct assistance on the battlefield than they are on any internal discontent with the Syrian government.

Those predatory nations include NATO states such as the United States, Britain, France and Turkey, and their regional allies, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and Israel, as well as other governments that fall in the ‘western sphere’ such as Canada and Australia, both of whom have co-signed the objectives of the proxy-war on Syria.

Those who live in these predatory nations, especially so-called ‘westerners’, are ironically encouraged to imagine themselves as the probable saviours of those living under siege IN Syria while being mostly oblivious to the fact that their governments have imposed an economic siege ON Syria.

Lifting the economic siege ON Syria would be a lot easier, but it would require westerners to come to terms with the reality that their governments are the problem, not the solution.

Targeted sanctions?

The notion that the sanctions on Syria are ‘targeted’ in the sense that they only affect ‘regime officials’ is the oldest lie used to justify economic aggression – this same lie was used to justify the sanctions on Iraq after the first gulf war.

When Madeleine Albright (then US Ambassador to the UN) was asked whether she believed the colossal death-toll of Iraqi children caused by these sanctions was worth it, she famously replied in the affirmative, saying ‘we think the price is worth it’.

In terms of achieving US foreign policy objectives she was correct since healthy children are potential Iraqi soldiers capable of defending their country against US aggression, so it’s much more effective to bring the country to its knees first, even if it means killing children.

Today Syria is being ‘softened up’ by sanctions that are just as ‘comprehensive’ as those imposed on Iraq.

Visa, Mastercard and Paypal all suspended services to Syria in August 2011 after the announcement of Executive Order 13582 by the US Treasury, prohibiting US persons (corporate entities included) from providing any services to Syria, which is a severe blow given that global financial transactions are dominated not just by these corporations but by corporations based in countries that impose financial sanctions on Syria in general.

This means that even people living in countries that never went along with the sanctions are unable to send money to Syria using these three services on the grounds that these three corporations are technically US persons and thus subject to US laws.

It also blocks the ability of many among the Syrian diaspora to send remittances back to their families, which is particularly cruel given that remittances are one source of revenue that would logically increase during a war, due to greater efforts made by the diaspora to support their relatives back home, and also because of the money that Syrians made refugees by the war would wish to send back, assuming they find sources of income abroad.

Of the $1.6b (current USD) that Syria earned in remittances in 2010 (which is the last year for which accurate World Bank figures are publicly available), 75% came from countries that now impose financial sanctions on Syria (see Figure 1).


In the case of the GCC states, which contributed 37% of Syria’s pre-war remittance revenues, the move to block remittances was a defensive move by Damascus itself because of the colossal financial support that Saudi Arabia and Qatar in particular have offered the Islamist proxies. As for the other 38% (which in addition to the previous 37% equals the 75% figure quoted earlier), this is made up of Jordan (16%), Turkey (14%), the EU (5%) and the Anglosphere bloc of the US, Canada, Australia and the UK (3%), all of which impose financial sanctions to varying degrees.

While it’s unclear what Syria’s remittance earnings actually are at present (especially given the cash-in-hand transfers that go unaccounted for and other informal methods) there’s no doubt that Germany in particular will host a sizable Syrian diaspora community in the near future and therefore may feel compelled to accommodate growing demands for financial sanctions to be lifted.

The exhaustive nature of the sanctions helps explain the pattern of corporations ‘over-complying’, that is refusing to do business with Syrian persons or entities altogether to avoid heavy penalties.

In March 2015 Paypal was ordered to pay $7.7m to the US Treasury for facilitating transactions worth a measly $44,000 between Cuba, Sudan and Iran that were in violations of US sanctions – that’s a $7.7m penalty for transferring up to $44,000, of which Paypal would have early taken only a small fraction in operating revenues.

With penalties that are orders of magnitude higher than the amounts violating the sanctions, why wouldn’t Paypal (and others) ‘over-comply’ with the sanctions just to play it safe?

Sanctions on Syrian oil exports only apply to the government (not ISIS)

A currency depreciates when a country imports more than it exports, which is why the rising demand for heating fuels to keep Syrians warm in the coming winter months predictably led to Syria’s Central Bank announcing a 6% devaluation of the Syrian pound, which now officially trades at 517.4 against the US dollar.

Although Syria was an importer of petroleum products even prior to the conflict, this import bill was at least offset by export earnings from the sale of crude oil.

In the eleven years prior to the conflict (from 2000 to 2010 inclusively) 53.1% of Syria’s total export earnings of $81.9b (current USD) came from the sale of crude oil, however this percentage fell dramatically to around the 6.5% mark from 2012 onwards (see Figure 2).


The reason? In September 2011 the EU imposed sanctions which banned the importation of Syrian oil – a major blow given that in 2010 (the year prior to the conflict) the EU bloc was Syria’s single largest export-destination, earning 41.4% of total export revenues (exports in 2010 were $12.2b in current USD.

These sanctions were later lifted in May 2013, but only after the al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al Nusra (now known as Jabhat Fateh al Sham) had seized control of Syria’s oil fields in the north-east of the country.

A month later in April 2013 a split within the ranks of al Nusra produced ISIS which has been selling stolen Syrian ever since, largely thanks to the EU’s willingness to be their customers.

At the time, the EU’s decision (to begin funding al Qaeda via the theft of Syria’s natural resources) was promoted by the Guardian as a way ‘to help the moderate opposition’ despite their report also acknowledging that ‘al-Qaida and other extreme Islamist groups control the majority of the oil wells in Deir Ezzor province’.

To the extent that ISIS has developed a Frankenstein-like independence from its original backers, it’s because they can sell this stolen oil, meaning that they don’t rely on their sponsors as much as their so-called ‘moderate’ rivals.

Should oil prices rise again to above $100/barrel thereby making it viable for Syria to resume oil exports (that is if Saudi Arabia stops driving down prices) Europe will have to make a choice – either lift the sanctions and buy from the government, or continue funding ISIS.

Sanctions are destroying Syria’s healthcare system

The sanctions, by helping to demolish the value of the Syrian pound by a factor of twelve (it’s pre-war value was 45 pounds per USD in 2010), has raised the price of imports by roughly the same factor, meaning that sanctions needn’t even formally prohibit the sale of medicines to Syria to make them unaffordable and scarce.

Maintaining the perception in the west that President Assad is almost solely to blame for the deterioration in public health is perhaps why the perspectives of Syrian doctors, who are in the best position to comment on the relationship between sanctions and healthcare, are routinely ignored.

Just as the sanctions on Iraq resulted in the deterioration of the water treatment systems by blocking the importation of the spare parts needed to fix them, Syria’s medical staff are experiencing similar difficulties when it comes to fixing their equipment.

Describing the bureaucratic hurdles in sourcing parts, “I wanted to replace one part of a piece of medical equipment. Normally this would take one week, it took a year and a half to get hold of the part because we couldn’t import it from Japan as it was a multi-national company”, Dr Antaki said.

When I visited Syria in July 2015 as part of a delegation we met with Syria’s Health Minister Dr. Nizar Yazigi who pointed out that of the 70 pharmaceutical factories Syria once had, now only 20 remain.

These factories are what enabled Syria to achieve remarkable levels of self-sufficiency in the production of medicines prior to the war. According to the Syrian Economic Forum (which is critical of the government), 91% of the medicines consumed in Syria a year prior to the war (2010) were produced domestically.

The decimation of Syrian industrial capacity is not just a symptom of the generally destructive nature of war, but also because proxy-armies have looted industrial areas.

This is why after Sheikh Najjar’s industrial complex was taken back by the Syrian government in July 2014 (from Al Nusra, Ahrar al Sham and other smaller FSA militias) Aleppo’s industrialists, represented by the ‘Aleppo Chamber of Industry and Commerce’, began proceedings to take the Turkish government to The Hague (International Court of Justice) for their complicity in the plundering of ‘more than 300 factories’ including those used to produce medicines.

The combined strategy of plundering Syria’s productive capacity and then imposing sanctions on Syria to hinder the process of reconstruction looks like an attempt to shift the dependence of the Syrian public away from the government and towards to the forces seeking to topple the government.

This would also explain why the emphasis in the west is on directing charity towards organisations based outside Syria’s borders mainly in neighbouring countries, like Turkey, Lebanon or Jordan, on the pretext that it’s needed to help Syrian refugees, who, ironically, left Syria due to the policies of these countries (except Lebanon) in the first place.

By contrast, charities that operate in government-held Syria (where the vast majority of Syrians live), such as the Syrian Trust for Development, are often starved of donations from wealthier nations because those same nations either enforce the sanctions, or have online payment systems that are dominated by corporations that enforce the sanctions.

Other ‘charities’ however, like the Islamic Humanitarian Relief Foundation based in Turkeyand the Qatari Red Crescent, that have been caught smuggling weapons to the proxy-armies inside Syria, experience no such online blockades.

If the key concern was Syrian welfare then it would be far more effective to stop strangling the healthcare system that already exist, which Syrians spent decades building, and which serves the vast majority of the Syrian public.

Decades of progress in human development, wiped out

To those unfamiliar with the region, Syria today epitomises nothing but war, which is why it may surprise them to know that prior to the conflict, Syria was actually something of a post-colonial success story, a feat largely achieved by a decades-long legacy of free healthcare, free education and a strong public sector.

Crunching the numbers (available from the World Bank and IMF databanks) gives one the impression that Syria ‘punched above its weight’ in terms of human development.

In the year prior to the war (2010), countries that were wealthier than Syria did only marginally better in terms of life expectancy on average, while countries with lower life expectancies than Syria did so on much higher incomes on average (weighted by population).

If China is excluded from the sample of nations wealthier than Syria, and if Peru is included to keep the sample at twenty nations, then Syria does better on life expectancy by 2.3 years than the revised sample average of 70 (see Figure 3).


As for the sample of nations with lower life expectancies than Syria (again, a sample of twenty nations) their average income works out at $11,385 (current international dollars) which is $5,010 higher than Syria – in other words, Syria did more for its people relative to its income than nations in the same proverbial ballpark (see Figure 4).


Punching above its weight, Syria’s achievements on the eve of the war are only diminished by the inclusion of China – nothing to be ashamed of given China’s remarkable achievements in human development.

End the sanctions

To those living in the so-called ‘west’, regardless of what you may think of the manner in which the Syrian government conducts itself militarily, this is not something you have much control over, however you do have some agency in opposing your own government's policies that are fuelling this war.

Whether those policies include arming the death-squads that the Syrian government is predictably resisting, or imposing the cruel sanctions that are killing Syrians quietly, either through artificially inflated food prices and medicine shortages or by preventing them from receiving remittances from abroad, these are the actions you have some agency to oppose.

Westerners, if you want to ‘break the sieges’ (a reference to the PR slogan promoted by the ‘moderate’ mercenaries who for years have demanded NATO intervention on their behalf) you should start with the economic sieges imposed by YOUR governments against Syria.

[Jay Tharappel is a Sydney-based political commentator, and active member of the organisation Hands Off Syria.]


Todenhöfer: Interview With Al-Nusra Commander "The Americans stand on our side"

September 26, 2016

This interview by Jürgen Todenhöfer was first published in German on September 26 2016 by the Kölner Stadtanzeiger, the major newspaper in the Cologne region. (The interview was copied and translated to English by Bernhard for educational and academic purposes.)

Interview with al-Nusra commander "The Americans stand on our side"| By Jürgen Todenhöfer

It was the seventh trip by my son Frederic and me to the civil war country Syria. We were there for 13 days. Words can only barely describe the extent of damage and suffering on both sides.

We conducted the interview ten days ago with a commander of the al-Qaeda branch "Jabhat al-Nusra". Abu al-Ezz reported quite openly about his financiers Saudi-Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait. We were able to exactly research the identity of the man and know practically everything about him.

Interview in the stone quarry in Aleppo

The interview was arranged by a rebel from Aleppo. I have had contacts to Syrian rebels for years. It was conducted outside of Aleppo in a quarry in direct sight- and shooting-distance of Jabhat al-Nusra and could only be reached safely by a member of al-Nusra.

His fighters were partially not masked, i.e. easily identifiable. Part of his statements were nearly verbally confirmed shortly thereafter by a mufti in Aleppo. Other assertions about the lack of interest of rebels towards a ceasefire and an international aid-convoy also bore out. Just like his predictions about planned military activities in several cities of Syria.

Abu al-Ezz, commander, says about Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Qaeda): "We are one part of al-Qaeda. Our principles are: Fighting vice, pureness and security. Our affairs and our way have changed. Israel, for example, is now supporting us, because Israel is at war with Syria and with Hizbullah.

America also changed its opinion about us. Originally "IS" and us were one group. But "IS" was used in the interests of big states like America, for political reasons, and was steered away from our principles. It became clear to us that most of their leaders work with secret security services. We, Jabhat al-Nusra, have our own way. In the past they with us, they were our supporters.

Our aim is the downfall of the dictatorial regime, the tyrannical regime, the regime of the apostate. Our aim is the conduct of conquests, like [the great Arab general] Khaled ibn al-Walid made them. First in the Arab world and then in Europe."

Part 2 - The Interview by Jürgen Todenhöfer with the rebel commander Abu al-Ezz

Jürgen Todenhöfer: How is the relation between you and the United States? Does the U.S. support the rebels?

Abu al-Ezz: Yes, the U.S. support the opposition, but not directly. They support the countries which support us. But we are not yet satisfied with this support. They should support us with highly developed weapons. We have won battles thanks to the "TOW" missiles. We reached a balance with the regime through these missiles. We received the tanks from Libya through Turkey. Also the "BMs" - multiple rocket launchers. The regime excels us only with their fighter jets, missiles and missile launchers. We captured a share of its missile launchers and a large share came from abroad. But it is through the American "TOW" that we have the situation in some regions under control.

To whom did the U.S. hand those missiles before they were brought to you? Were those missiles first given to the Free Syrian Army by the U.S. and from there to you?

No, the missiles were give directly to us. They were delivered to a certain group. When the "road" was closed and we were besieged we had officers here from Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United States.

What did those officers do?

Experts! Experts for the use of satellites, missiles, reconnaissance work, thermal surveillance cameras ...

Were there also American experts?

Yes, experts from several countries.

Including Americans?

Yes. The Americans are on our side, but not as it should be. For example we were told: We must capture and conquer "Battalion 47". Saudi Arabia gave us 500 million Syrian pounds. For taking the "al-Muslimiya" infantry school years ago we received from Kuwait 1.5 million Kuwaiti dinar and from Saudi Arabia 5 million U.S. dollars.

From the governments or from private persons?

From the governments.

The fight is difficult, the regime is strong and it has support from Russia ...?

We will fight until the downfall of the regime. We will fight Russia and the West because the West does not stand on our side. The West only sends us mujahedin, it facilitates the way of those fighters. Why doesn't the West support us properly? We have many fighters from Germany, France, Great Britain, America, from all western countries.

You have many fighters from Europe in Aleppo with the "al-Nusra front"?

Many, many, many!

How many?


What do you think about the ceasefire?

We do not recognize the ceasefire. We will reposition our groups. We will undertake in the next, in a few days an overwhelming attack against the regime. We have rearranged all our armed forces in all provinces, in Homs, Aleppo, Idlib and Hama.

You do not want those 40 trucks with aid supplies to bring those into the eastern part of Aleppo?

We have demands. As longs as the regime is positioned along Castello road, in al-Malah and in the northern areas we will not let those trucks pass. The regime must retreat from all areas in order for us to let the trucks pass. If a truck comes in despite that, we will arrest the driver.

Why did a few of your groups pull back a kilometer or 500 meters from the Castello road?

The regime used highly developed weapons against us. We received a backlash. That is why we silently retreated, to recover and to attack the regime anew. But this attack must lead to the downfall of the regime.

So that was a trick, a military tactic?

Yes, it was a military tactic.

Was the aim of this tactic to receive food or the reallocation of fighters?

We did not agree to the ceasefire.

Does that hold only for the al-Nusra Front or for all other groups, the rest of your allies?

The applies to all our integrated groups, who are our allies.

Islamic Front, Islamic Army?

They are all with us. We are all the al-Nusra Front. A groups is created and calls itself "Islamic Army", or "Fateh al-Sham". Each group has its own name but their believe is homogeneous. The general name is al-Nusra Front. One person has, for example, 2,000 fighters. Then he creates from these a new group and calls it "Ahrar al-Sham". Brothers, who's believe, thoughts and aims are identical to those of al-Nusra Front.

Is that your own opinion or also the opinion of higher management levels?

That is the general opinion. But if someone comes to you and makes you a 'moderate fighter' and offers you to eat and to drink, will you accept that or not?

450,000 people were killed in this war. I have been to Aleppo and Homs. Many parts are destroyed. If the war continues the whole country will be destroyed. Millions will die. ... In Germany we once had the 'Thirty Years' War' ...

We are now only 5 years at war, that is comparatively short!

Would you accept someone from the Assad-regime within a transitional government?

We accept no one from the Assad-regime or from the Free Syrian Army, which is called moderate. Our aim is the downfall of the regime and the founding of an Islamic state according to the Islamic sharia.

The people of Aloush, who traveled to Geneva for negotiations, accepted a transitional government.

There are Syrian mercenaries. Aloush fights with the al-Nusra Front. The groups Turkey houses and from which the Free Syrian Army was created have earlier been with al-Nusra Front. These people are weak people, they received a lot of money, they sold themselves. They must follow the orders of their sponsors.

The "Islamic Army and the "ISlamic Front" negotiate in Geneva

Because their leaders were produced in the West. They are counseled and paid by western secret services and the secret services of the Gulf states to fulfill the aims of those countries.

We are here at the most forward observation point of the Sheik Said area. This are is under our control. Behind those houses and al-Majbal are regime soldiers. Our armed forces are 200 meters from here.


[ You can read the original German version of the interview at the Kölner Stadtanzeiger ]


Also see |
‘Americans are on our side’: Al-Nusra commander says US arming jihadists via 3rd countries

VIDEO below is RT's interview with the German Journalist Jurgen Todenhofer

‘US knows weapons sent to Syrian rebels end up with terrorists’ – German journo to RT..

West still arming Al-Nusra in Syria, peace almost impossible – Russia’s UN envoy

25 Sep, 2016

Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin addresses the United Nations Security Council during a high level meeting on Syria at the United Nations in Manhattan, New York, U.S., September 25, 2016.

The Al-Nusra Front in Aleppo keeps receiving tanks and heavy weapons shipped by their Western backers as the US turns a blind eye, Russia’s envoy to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, told the Security Council. He added that securing peace "is almost an impossible task now."

Al-Nusra Front is currently the most powerful group fighting against the government in Aleppo, with 2,000 out of 3,500 militants in the city the group’s members.

“They are armed by tanks, APCs, field artillery, multiple rocket launchers… dozens and dozens of units, including heavy weaponry… Of course, they couldn’t have made this equipment themselves. All of this has been received by them and is still being shipped to them by generous Western backers, with the US, presumably, turning a blind eye,” Churkin said.

According to the Russian envoy, the Al-Nusra Front militants use the civilian population of Aleppo as human shields while indiscriminately attacking residential areas in the city controlled by the Syrian government.

“Over 200,000 residents of Aleppo are hostages of the Al-Nusra Front and groups allied with it,” Churkin said.

The terrorists are the main reason why attempts to deliver humanitarian aid to Aleppo have failed, contradicting accusations by the US, which blames Russia and Damascus, he said.

Moscow’s experience of giving concessions to the Syrian rebels following requests from the US, in the hope of it culminating in a ceasefire has not worked, Churkin told the Security Council adding that Moscow will no longer be following these steps.

Vitaly Churkin said that Russia has pressured Damascus on several occasions to meet the demands of its opponents, in the hope that this would lead to a ceasefire. However, this has not had the desired result and has seen constant violations by some rebel groups despite Washington's promise to keep them under control.
“The American side de facto signed that it was unable to influence the groups it sponsors and to deliver on the deal as it promised. First of all, to separate those groups from terrorists and mark their positions on the ground accordingly,” he said.

He added that the actions of the US-led coalition, which killed 62 Syrian government soldiers in a miscalculated airstrike near Deir ez-Zor and exposed them to an offensive by the terrorist group Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) damaged relations with Damascus.

He dismissed criticism of the Syrian army, expressed at the Security Council meeting by the US, France and the UK, over the latest offensive in eastern Aleppo.

Churkin also turned down statements made by his US counterpart Samantha Power, who said Russia had to prove that it genuinely has intentions of bringing peace to Syria, saying the other parties also have to prove they are willing to take steps towards achieving a ceasefire.

“The ceasefire can only be salvaged now on a collective basis. It's not us that have to prove something to somebody unilaterally. We have to see proof that there is a genuine desire to separate US-allied rebel groups from the Al-Nusra Front, then destroy the Al-Nusra Front and bring the opposition into a political process. Otherwise our suspicions that this was only meant to shield the Al-Nusra Front would only grow stronger.”

The UN Security Council meeting was convened at the request of the US, the UK and France to discuss the escalation of violence in Syria, after a ceasefire agreement, which was negotiated by Russia and the US had expired. The three countries accused Russia and Syria of causing civilian suffering in Aleppo, but did not mention the role played by armed groups opposing Damascus, which control large portions of the city.

China took a neutral stance and called on the revival of the ceasefire and facilitation of humanitarian aid to Aleppo, without accusing any party for the violence. The Chinese envoy stressed that counter-terrorism effort is an essential part for resolving the Syrian conflict.

The Syrian envoy said Damascus was determined to take the whole of Aleppo under its control and dismissed accusations of indiscriminate attacks against civilians and the use of incendiary weapons, which the US voiced against the Syrian army.

UN's special envoy for Syria reported to the Council that the conditions in the contested city are deteriorating and that it needs relief as soon as possible.

After the UN Security Council meeting, Churkin was asked by the press if the Syrian peace talks between Moscow and Washington were “dead” after recent developments.

“I don’t think so,” he replied, but added: “The situation is very difficult.”

“We made our position clear. We need a serious process without trickery, without people changing their demands every two days. We had an agreement and the only thing required was fulfilling it without changing stances,” the envoy said.

If Washington “continues acting in the same manner, it will be difficult to have a serious peace process,” he warned. 

The US and its allies aren’t paying enough attention to the violations by the Syrian opposition because in that case “we would find that there aren’t really any moderates” among them, former US diplomat Jim Jatras told RT.

“You have group like al-Zenki that cut the head of a Palestinian kid two weeks ago and was accused of using chlorine gas; Ahrar al-Sham, which is another jihadist group that chased the Americans out of northern Syria,” he said.

According to Jatras, Washington is failing to keep its promise to persuade the opposition to obide with the ceasefire because “frankly, I don’t think [the US] have that much influence.”

“It’s part of a problem that the US has had in repeated wars where we have supported Wahhabist terrorist groups,” including Libya and Afghanistan, where previously backed militants eventually turned against the Americans, Jatras said.

One of the key problems that makes the current situation in Syria particularly difficult is the fact that there are actually no moderate opposition groups, as various rebel groups are in fact controlled by several powerful terrorist organizations, Willy van Damme, a Belgian journalist who has closely followed the Syrian crisis, told RT.

“The problem is that Al Qaeda controls the rebels together with some other terrorist groups. As long as it continues, it is useless to talk about the ceasefire, it is useless to talk about a political solution – it will not happen,” van Damme said.

He also added that even “Col. Steve Warren, the spokesman for the US Army fighting Islamic State in Baghdad, said on April 26 that the eastern part of Aleppo is controlled by Al Qaeda.” At the same time, van Damme stressed that “Western governments and western media do not pay any attention in reality to what the so called rebels… do.”

Al-Moallem delivers Syria’s speech at UN General Assembly’s 71 session

25 September، 2016

Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign and Expatriates Minister Walid al-Moallem on Saturday, 24th September 2016 addressed the 71 session of the United Nations General Assembly held in New York.

Below is the full text of the speech:

President of the seventy-first session of the General Assembly of the United Nations,

I would like to congratulate you and your friendly country, Fiji, on your election as President of the present session of the United Nations’ General Assembly, I wish you all success during presidency, which you have promised would be one “for the whole house.” Such a promise, if kept, would strengthen the neutral role of the President of the General Assembly and shed a bright light on the facts that some are trying to conceal.

Mr. President,
Ladies and gentlemen,

As we meet once again, our world is going through a grave and dangerous period. Terrorism, which we have cautioned against repeatedly from this very rostrum, has continued to grow and gain ground, claiming the lives of more innocent people and causing death and destruction as it rages unabated across the world. The blood of Syrians was not enough to quench its thirst. It had to go after the citizens of many other countries, including those that have supported and sponsored it. These innocent people are now paying for the mistakes of their governments, which have ignored the interests of their people and adopted shortsighted policies.

For more than five years, the Syrian people, no matter their affiliations, have paid dearly for the crimes of terrorists who have shed the blood of Syrians and undermined their security, stability, and livelihoods. Terrorism has spared no one, targeting even schools, universities, hospitals, places of worship and infrastructure.

Everyone knows full well that terrorism would not have spread through my country if it hadn’t been for the external support of well-known countries. It is no longer a secret that Qatar and Saudi Arabia have played a part in this, promoting their Wahhabist Takfirist ideology and their death fatwas that have nothing to do with Islam. They have bragged about supporting terrorism in every way, sending into Syria thousands of mercenaries, equipped with the most sophisticated weapons. Meanwhile, Turkey has opened its border to let in tens of thousands of terrorists from all around the world and has provided them with logistical support and training camps under the supervision of Turkish and Western intelligence. It has even supplied these terrorists with direct military support, as was the case in Idlib, Aleppo, and rural Lattakia.

I would like to refer you to a study published seven months ago by a German institute, the Firil Center for Studies. According to the study, more than 360,000 foreign terrorists from 83 countries have entered Syria since April 2011. By the end of 2015, the Syrian Army was able to kill 95,000 of those, while 120,000 returned home or travelled to other countries.

We, in Syria, are combating terrorism on behalf of the whole of the world. Every time the Syrian Army kills another foreign terrorist, it spears the lives of many innocent people who could have died in a terrorist act carried out by the same terrorist upon returning to his country. Anyone who seeks to distort this fact must be held responsible for the spread of terrorism and the increasing numbers of victims. Our valiant Army deserves to be commended and supported. It must never be the target of schemes and lies.

Mr. President,
Ladies and gentlemen,

The terrorist campaign against my country is taking place in full view of a polarized world; There are those who have chosen to support international law and the principles of the Charter, while others have decided to turn a blind eye to the truth and to support, finance and arm terrorists, under false pretexts that depart from logic and reason. They choose, for example, to refer to these terrorists as “moderate armed opposition,” even though there is irrefutable evidence that these groups have committed against Syrians crimes and massacres that are no less barbaric than those of ISIL or Al-Qaida. Some consider people who take up arms against the state and its citizens “illegitimate opposition” as long as they are in Syria, while the exact same people, on any other day and in another country, would be considered terrorists, or at least outlaws.

Despite all of this, all Syrians; the people, the army and the government, will not relent in their fight against terrorism. They are determined, more than ever before, to eliminate terrorism wherever it exists in their country and to rebuild a better Syria, because they are well aware that their homeland will cease to exist if the terrorists and their backers emerge victorious.
Our belief in victory is even greater now that the Syrian Arab Army is making great strides in its war against terrorism, with the support of the true friends of the Syrian people, notable the Russian Federation, Iran, and the Lebanese national resistance. Such support has helped strengthen the resilience of Syrians and alleviate their suffering. We truly hope that other countries will wake up and realize, before it is too late, the danger that threatens us all.

We have always welcomed all the international efforts to counter terrorism in Syria, but we stress once again the need to coordinate such efforts with the government of the Syrian Arab Republic and the Syrian Arab Army that has been combating terrorism on the ground for more than five years. Without such coordination, any action would be considered a breach of sovereignty, a flagrant interference, and a violation of the principles and purposes of the Charter. Without such coordination, any action will fall short of achieving real results and will even make matters worse.

In this regard, the Syrian government condemns in the strongest possible terms the attack launched by American warplanes on a Syrian Army site in the vicinity of the Deir Ezzor Airport on 17 September, which allowed ISIL to gain control of the site. The Syrian government holds the United States fully responsible for this aggression, because facts show that it was an intentional attack, and not an error, even if the United States claims otherwise. This cowardly aggression clearly proves that the US and its allies are complicit with ISIL and other terrorist armed organizations.

We also reiterate our condemnation of Turkish incursion into Syrian territories under the pretext of countering terrorism. This is a flagrant aggression and must be stopped immediately. Terrorism cannot be fought by replacing one terrorist organization with another. One cannot but wonder: how can a state that has been the main point of entry for terrorists and weapons into Syria claim to be fighting terrorism?! How can there be genuine and effective international counter-terrorism cooperation while relevant Security Council resolutions remain dead letter?

Mr. President,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Since the onset of the crisis in 2011, the Syrian government has declared that any solution must follow two parallel tacks; counter-terrorism track and a political track through an intra-Syrian dialogue that allows Syrians to determine the future of their country without foreign interference. All solutions dictated from the outside are categorically rejected by the Syrian people. Likewise, any political solution will not succeed in the absence of the necessary foundations and conditions for its implementation, including intensified counter-terrorism efforts and progress in the national reconciliation process, which has proven successful in a number of areas around Syria.
Despite all the hurdles created by regional and western states that decide on behalf of the self-proclaimed “Syrian opposition” we have always been open to a political track that would stem the bloodshed and end the prolonged suffering of the Syrians. We reiterate our commitment to move forward with the Geneva track under the auspices of the United Nations.
We recall our constructive position regarding the political solution. Such a solution must be based on respect for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Syria and the unity of its people. It should begin by establishing a government of a national unity comprising representatives from the government and the opposition, in all its factions, and tasked with creating a constitution drafting committee. Once the new constitution is approved by Syrians through a referendum, parliamentary elections would follow and a new government would be formed under the new constitution.
Mr. President,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is truly regrettable that some are exploiting the humanitarian tragedy and suffering of Syrians, especially in terrorist-held areas, and politicizing such suffering to achieve certain goals that have nothing to do with humanitarian principles or the interest of Syrians themselves. Some countries continue to shed crocodile tears over the situation of Syrians in some areas, accusing the Syrian government of employing a policy of sieges and starvation. All the while, these same countries continue to support and arm the terrorists that besiege civilians in these areas from the inside and use them as human shields and prevent the delivery of humanitarian aid or confiscate it.

Ladies and gentlemen, make no mistake: no one is more committed than the Syrian government to ending the suffering of the Syrians and providing them with a life of dignity wherever they may be end without exception. This is a duty and not a favor. We will spare no effort to that end, including cooperation with the United Nations, despite all the difficulties we face as a result of the systematic destruction by externally-supported terrorist organizations, and despite the unilateral coercive economic and financial measures imposed on the Syrian people by the same parties that falsely claim to have the interests of Syrians in mind. Such unilateral measures have adversely affected many vital sectors, including health, education and energy.

Mrs. President,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Syria is confronting mercenary terrorists on its territory today, but it has long confronted a different kind of terrorism; the terrorism of Israel that has occupied a precious part of our land in the Syrian Golan since 4 June 1967. Our Syria Arab people in the Occupied Golan continue to suffer as a result of Israel’s oppressive and aggressive practices. These practices are no longer confined to the Occupied Golan, and are currently affecting the security and life of Syrians in the southern part of the country. Israel is intervening militarily to assist in every way the terrorist organizations operating in that area.
Syria calls on the international community to put an effective end to all these practices and to compel Israel to implement relevant United Nations resolutions, particularly resolution 497 on the Occupied Syrian Golan. It should also compel Israel to allow the Palestinian people to enjoy their inalienable rights, including the establishment of their independent state, with Jerusalem as its capital, and the return of Palestine refugees to their land, in accordance with internationally-recognized resolutions.

Syria reaffirms that Israel’s that Israel’s aggressive policies don not only threaten Syria but the whole region, especially given Israel’s nuclear arsenal. We have stressed time and again the need to compel Israel to join the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and other treaties on WMDs, and to subject its nuclear installations to the oversight of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Syria stresses the right of states to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. We have always called for creating a WMD-free zone in the Middle East. In fact, we have efficiently and responsibly eliminated all chemical weapons in Syria, in cooperation with the Joint Mission of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the United Nations. In this regard, Syria reiterates its readiness to continue its cooperation with the Joint Investigation Mechanism (JIM), as well as to continue the Syrian relevant investigation.
Mr. President,
We can congratulate Cuba and Iran reaching agreements to lift the embargo imposed on them and we look forward to their implementation. We renew our call for removing the illegal economic measures imposed on the Syrian people and on other independent peoples in the world, notably the peoples of the DPRK, Venezuela and Belarus.

In closing, we wish you and your people lasting security and prosperity. We hope that our organization will be able to regain the trust of the people, by upholding the provisions of the Charter, which calls for respecting the sovereignty and independence of member states and ensuring non-interference in their internal affairs. This principle, if implemented, would lay the foundations for genuine and fair relations among nations, after the greed and arrogance of some have shaken them to their core.

US massacre of Syrian anti-ISIS soldiers

By Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey | 19 September 2016

Bullseye! Precision massacre of anti-ISIS troops!!

The United States of America has admitted that it killed Syrian troops when targeting Islamic State. Let us be honest: the United States of America has massacred around 80 Syrian troops and injured 100 more, as they were conducting a successful anti-terrorist operation against ISIS and only stopped because Russia informed the military command.

"We halted the attack when we were informed by Russia that it was possible that we were striking Syrian regime military personnel and vehicles." These are the words of US Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, who gave a lesson in insolence, arrogance and shitfaced stupidity today as she admitted that her country had perpetrated the massacre.

Washington's stubborn refusal to cooperate against terrorists

Moscow refers to the USA's "stubborn refusal" to cooperate in coordinated attacks against Islamic State. Not surprising, is it? After all, who invaded Iraq? Under whose nose and on whose watch did Islamic State appear and spread out across Iraq and Syria? And Libya? Libya? You know, the country with the highest Human Development Index in Africa which the USA sent back to the stone age, and which is now crawling with terrorists. Who has used unmarked aircraft to drop supplies and munitions to Islamic State whenever it found itself up against stiff resistance against the Kurds or the Syrian Arab Armed Forces? Moscow labelled the massacre as being on the "boundary between criminal negligence and direct connivance with Islamic State terrorists", while Syria denounces the "serious and blatant attack on Syria and its military" which is "firm proof of the US support of Daesh and other terrorist groups".

"We halted the attack when we were informed by Russia that it was possible that we were striking Syrian regime military personnel and vehicles." Translation: The United States of America either does not know what it is doing, or else has no control whatsoever over its precision weaponry, or else was targeting the Syrian forces on purpose, because they were threatening to wipe out the Islamic State terrorists. Under its own admission, it stops massacring troops fighting terrorists when Russia tells it to, rather like it uses Russian rockets to get its astronauts to the International Space Station.

A classic US precision massacre

The precision massacre by the USA, which claims it only uses precision weaponry, was carried out by cowards flying two A-10s and two F-16s, in a base in Deir el Zour, eastern Syria. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has quoted the figure as 80 plus soldiers murdered and 100 plus wounded. The result of the strike is that Islamic State fighters, instead of being annihilated, were able to reinforce their positions.

The reaction from the White House? Why, to launch broadsides at Russia of course. The USA has expressed its "regret" but has not come forward with promises to compensate the families of the soldiers it massacred in its illegal attack. The claim that "We halted the attack when we were informed by Russia that it was possible that we were striking Syrian regime military personnel and vehicles" is proof that US intelligence sucks, that the US military sucks or worse, that the US military and intelligence are a bunch of murderers who are openly siding with Islamist terrorists because their "moderate terrorists" got their butts handed to them by the Syrian police and security forces. It seems the regime in Washington has no respect at all for the security or emergency services.

Samantha Power's shitfaced insolence

Worse, the reaction of Samantha Power. It is inconceivable that a country with 300 million citizens can appoint someone with such a high degree of shitfaced arrogance to such a high position. In fact, with a spokesperson like Samantha Power, it is hardly surprising why the USA is hated universally and that so many US citizens lie about being Canadians when they venture abroad. In a display of sheer, pigfaced insolence, she accused Russia of "grandstaging": "Russia really needs to stop the cheap point scoring and the grandstanding and the stunts and focus on what matters, which is implementation of something we negotiated in good faith with them." What matters is targeting terrorists and not supporting them by targeting the Syrian Armed Forces. If point scoring is pointing out that the USA has massacred soldiers fighting terrorists, then maybe Ms. Power should present herself, and her mother, to the terrorist forces her country supports in Syria and then complain when she and hers receive the same treatment innocent Syrian women and girls have received at the hands of her little darlings.

And now the cherry on the cake: "That said, even by Russia's standards, tonight's stunt, a stunt replete with moralism and grandstanding is uniquely cynical and hypocritical." Even by Russia's standards? Which standards are these, did Russia invade Iraq? Did Russia commit a twin atomic terrorist strike against cities full of innocent civilians? Did Russia strafe civilian structures with military hardware in Iraq, in Libya? Did Russia drop Napalm on screaming kids fleeing their homes? Maybe we can say even by Washington's standards, Samantha Power is the worst type of parasite to disgrace the United Nations Organization with her unwanted and disgusting presence.

Conclusion: Samantha Power is not a diplomat. She is a pig-headed, cheap, rude, uneducated wannabe, a guttersnipe, an upstart and an insult to the term Diplomacy. She is not an Ambassador. She is a creepy, ignorant and extremely insolent apology for a diplomat, the kudos of which she will never achieve in a million years. She, like the external policy of the country she represents, is akin to a disgusting, stinking, sniveling creature crawling out of a sewer and spreading slime wherever it slithers. The bawling of a desperate, crack-starved slut outside a whore house makes more sense than the juvenile lightweight diatribes of a failed diplomat like Power. Who does she represent? Obama? Figures, figures...

In this case, Samantha Power is covering up for... murder. The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? The United States of America has massacred or injured one hundred plus soldiers as they went about their jobs fighting terrorists. How do the military personnel of the USA feel about that? How does the international diplomatic community feel about Samantha Power?



Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey


Twitter: @TimothyBHinchey


Keep on truckin': Turkey and Al Qaeda in Syria

By Dr Can Erimtan | Published: 31 Jan, 2014 

Smoke ascends after a Syrian military helicopter allegedly dropped one of two barrel bombs over the city of Daraya, southwest of the capital Damascus on January 31, 2014 (AFP Photo / Fadi Dirani) / AFP

In view of Turkey’s possible meddling in the “civil” war in neighboring Syria, news about a Turkish truck headed for the Syrian border appears rather uncomfortable for the ruling government in Ankara, already in the throes of a corruption scandal.

In the first days of the new year, Turkish media reported that a truck carrying aid for Syria that had been collected by the by-now notorious Humanitarian Aid Foundation, or IHH, had been stopped by the local gendarmerie of the Turkish province of Hatay bordering Syria.

IHH garnered a lot of public attention in 2010, as a result of Israel’s violent attack on the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara delivering humanitarian aid to Gaza. Now, with war raging in Syria, it seemed that IHH again appeared willing to aid fellow-Muslims under threat, supplying humanitarian aid to those in need. But some days later, the journalist Fevzi Kızılkoyun revealed in the popular daily Hürriyet that the truck had allegedly been carrying weapons and ammunition, bulletproof jackets and electronic devices, in addition to a number of survival goods.

When the gendarmerie moved the truck to their headquarters, a total of three individuals were detained – two Turkish and one Syrian national. IHH disowned the truck, and subsequently it was revealed that the truck in question actually belonged to Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MIT) and that the detained individuals were to be freed on account of their special status as intelligence officers. The MIT operatives then revealed that the truck and its cargo had been part of an operation classified as a “state secret.”

In this context, Turkish President Abdullah Gül entered the fray to declare that “[certain] very extreme groupings have emerged in parts of Syria close to the Turkish border. There exists a Turcoman entity that is being crushed in the middle of these very hard conditions. It is [Turkey’s] duty to offer aid to Syria’s Turcoman [community]. They stated that this affair to do with this truck was [about] a vehicle delivering aid to the Turcoman [community] in Syria. I asked them about this truck [and] that is what I was told as well.”

The fact that Turkey’s notorious intelligence organization MIT appeared directly involved led to the application of the 26th article of the law regarding the National Intelligence Organization (Law No. 2937, adopted in 1983), which specifically prohibits criminal proceedings against MIT members and hence the real contents of the truck have not been made public. Thus the allegations of the presence of “weapons and ammunition, bulletproof jackets and electronic devices” could not be substantiated. The Interior Ministry instead intervened directly and allowed the truck to continue on its journey.

The government intervention apparently aimed at thwarting a serious investigation into the affair ensured that the opposition eagerly grabbed hold of the truck and its alleged contents to attack the Prime Minster Tayyip Erdoğan and his government. This truck affair appeared on Turkey’s political scene in the middle of a huge corruption scandal that has also been marred by government intervention. The leader of the opposition CHP (Republican People’s Party), Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, for example, immediately made the pronouncement that Turkey was supplying weapons to Syria’s armed opposition, elaborating that “[b]y means of sending weapons to the Syrian opposition Turkey is saying as much as go kill your neighbor.”

Abdüllatif Şener, a co-founder of the AKP in 2001, who left the party in 2007 and has since joined the ranks of those critical of Turkey’s current government, appeared on the opposition television channel Halk TV claiming that Erdoğan himself is personally responsible for Turkey’s current policy on Syria. He posited that the Free Syrian Army (FSA) was no longer active on the ground in Syria as is had been defeated by Islamist groupings, Şener calls “Al-Qaeda” and literally stated that “there is a [direct] link between Turkey and [Al-] Qaeda elements.” Şener even went on to say that the truck in question had been carrying “weapons for Al-Qaeda, [and that it was going into] a region controlled by Al Qaeda.”

In this way, one can see how the US war on terror, originally launched by George W. Bush in 2001, has now even entered the political discourse in Turkey as a sure means to slander Tayyip Erdoğan and his Muslim-democrat party, the AKP or Justice and Development Party. The war in Syria harbors a great many factions, some of which have clear Islamist leanings, with the Al-Nusra Front (ANF) being the most prominent and notorious one till recently. The West easily call this group an“Al-Qaeda associate” active in Syria. Another name that also seems to have dominated the airwaves recently is the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), referred to as an “al-Qaeda splinter group.” In this way, the current war in Syria is presented as another part of the supposedly never-ending war against the enemies of civilization, centered around a mysterious organization known only as Al-Qaeda.

The main armed opposition in Syria initially was formed by the Free Syrian Army (FSA), heavily supported by the US and Turkey. But the fighting over the past years has now led to a remarkably different landscape, where Islamist and Jihadist groupings are now calling the shots. Just like the FSA, these latter factions are also heavily dependent upon outside support, notably from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, apparently funneling millions of dollars to these “rebels” (or should they be classified as “terrorists” instead, giving their clear anti-Western and Islamist credentials?) on a monthly basis.

In fact, this material support apparently went even a lot further in some case. For instance, in the course of 2012, video footage emerged of auctions held in Saudi Arabia where fathers offered their sons up as would-be suicide bombers in exchange for substantial compensation offered by the highest bidder. It needs to be stressed, though, that this footage was originally aired by the Hezbollah-backed al-Manar TV, a source that cannot be seen as a neutral party in the Syrian conflict. In the end, however, the serious support received by these Islamist groupings has now led to a shift in the focus of the fighting – violence that has now led to more than 120,000 dead on the ground.

The armed opposition has now become mired in serious infighting, a violent power struggle that is currently pitting the FSA against ISIL. Already some three years ago I wrote that, in this context, a phrase that “Al-Qaeda remains a catch-all ghost entity” appears very helpful. At the time I wrote that “the name Al-Qaeda is used by the US to suggest the presence of a threat that is then employed to justify [possible US] military intervention. The flipside of that stance is now that terrorists and like-minded individuals opposing US dominance and interventionism equally cite the name Al-Qaeda to gain credibility, notoriety and media exposure.”

Even today, the media persist in using the name Al-Qaeda to hint at the existence of a “global network” of Islamist fighters. In Syria, this seems abundantly clear as well, as Al-Nusra’s current leader Abu Mohammad al-Golani even proclaimed his allegiance to Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, conspicuously absent from the news over the past years. And now, the Turkish opposition also seems to have seized upon this opportunity by using the name Al-Qaeda to insinuate the AKP’s supposedly nefarious goals in Syria (and possibly Turkey).

The story surrounding the seizure of the truck headed for Syria has in this way become another opposition argument against Tayyip Erdoğan and his government, an argument that directly links the AKP with the name Al-Qaeda, hinting at the existence of certain affinities and sympathies that are clearly meant to create a wedge between the Turkish public and their openly pious prime minister. In contrast, the government has countered such reasoning by inserting the Turcoman community living in Syria into the narrative as an obvious appeal to Turkish nationalist sentiment, arguably to deflect attention from possible links to “Islamist groupings and/or Al-Qaeda affiliates.”

As such, some members of the Turcoman minority in Syria opposed to Assad have already sought refuge in Turkey and even founded their own political organization last year, called the Syrian Turcoman Assembly, led by Semir Hafız. At the time, Hafız even declared his intention to set up a number of Turcoman brigades to join the fight against the Assad regime, as the Turcoman community was caught in the middle of competing factions – Kurdish and Islamist, to be precise.

Given all the external meddling, the conflict in Syria has become incredibly convoluted, and now that the Assad regime appears to be gaining ground against the opposition, the media tend to focus on the “Islamist groupings and/or Al-Qaeda affiliates” active in Syria. In the end, one cannot but wonder whether the Turkish truck destined for Syria was carrying“weapons and ammunition” for so-called Al-Qaeda affiliates, or logistical aid for the beleaguered Turcomans of Syria.

A few weeks have now passed, and on January 19 a grand total of seven more trucks headed for Syria were stopped near the Turkish city of Adana – trucks also supposedly carrying humanitarian aid for the suffering people of Syria. But again, mortar-shells, rockets and various other pieces of ammunition were also found inside those vehicles.

In response to these additional trucks being investigated, the government has not revived its earlier-employed Turcoman argument in defense. The fact that these trucks are being stopped now, as Turkey is mired in a corruption scandal that has led the prime minister to declare that his government is being attacked by a "parallel structure," does appear to be significant.

In other words, Tayyip Erdoğan is now claiming that the allegation that Turkey is in the process of smuggling weapons into Syria is nothing but part of an organized smear campaign aimed at discrediting Turkey's AKP government. As it is, ever since the outbreak of violence in Syria, Turkey has spent about $200 million sending aid into Syria in hundreds of trucks. Iran's Fars News Agency nevertheless reports that the apprehended trucks' drivers “confessed that the terrorist groups are handed the weapons in a border area they describe it as 'a buffer zone' . . . The Turkish drivers stressed that they deliver not only weapons and ammunition to what they described as “the opposition,” but all sorts of goods with the knowledge of all Turkey’s officials."

Turkey's prime minister visited Brussels some days ago, and in addition to having talks with the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, he also took time to talk at a summit organized by the Turkish business organization TÜMSİAD. Addressing these businessmen, Erdoğan managed to voice his opinion on the apprehended trucks and Turkey's relationship with Syria's opposition: "Now, with the help of the ‘parallel structure' there are some attempts to show that Turkey as a country is supporting terrorism [in Syria]. Turkey's efforts to transfer humanitarian aid [to Syria] have been prevented. While Turkey has been struggling with the [Kurdish terrorist groups, the] PKK and the PYD, while it is struggling with the DHKP/C [Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front], al-Qaeda and al-Nusra, there are some efforts to show that Turkey is arm-in-arm with terrorism [in Syria]."

Were these trucks carrying humanitarian aid or were they ferrying weapons to the Syrian opposition? The answer to this question may be a key to understanding whether Turkey's government is being unfairly targeted by a nefarious cabal bent on disrupting the democratic process in Turkey or, conversely, these trucks constitute a definite proof of Turkey's complicity in the ongoing war in Syria.

Dr. Can Erimtan is an independent scholar residing in İstanbul, with a wide interest in the politics, history and culture of the Balkans and the Greater Middle East. He attended the VUB in Brussels and did his graduate work at the universities of Essex and Oxford. In Oxford, Erimtan was a member of Lady Margaret Hall and he obtained his doctorate in Modern History in 2002. His publications include the book “Ottomans Looking West?” as well as numerous scholarly articles. In the period 2010-11, he wrote op-eds for Today’s Zaman and in the further course of 2011 he also published a number of pieces in Hürriyet Daily News. In 2013, he was the Turkey Editor of the İstanbul Gazette. He is on Twitter at @theerimtanangle


Demonize and Distract: Sanitizing Syria for the Masses


Summoning the Humanitarian Pretext

The arch pragmatist Machiavelli once wrote that, “If you watch the ways of men, you will see that those who obtain great wealth and power do so either by force or fraud, and having got them they conceal under some honest name the foulness of their deeds.” You couldn’t pen a better description of the relationship between the imperial corporate state and its supplicant media. Once the coffers of vulnerable nations are ransacked by American wars of aggression, it is the media that sweeps the crimes of state beneath a carpet of piety. The truth may come out in due time, although it is always ex post facto. Thanks to the the coordination between the corporate sector, the state, and the media, the American doctrinal system is largely a self-contained narrative. It comes complete with a smooth internal logic. Corporations set priorities, the state produces a storyline that rationalizes the pursuit of those priorities, and the media distributes and reifies the storyline until it is gospel. This is no surprise, since the corporations own the politicians and the presses. Yet one way to examine the functioning of this kind of systemic propaganda is by looking at some of the keywords on which the stories hinge.

The foul deeds Machiavelli mentioned now principally occur in the Middle East, where vast resources lie and where power may be usefully projected deep into Eurasia. The Syrian proxy war between forces east and west is a nice example of how the dissimulations initiated in Washington are disseminated through the MSM. For instance, The New York Times, and its deputies in the vast clearinghouses of state propaganda, would have us believe that the White House is supporting freedom-loving rebels in Syria who are politically moderate and fighting for their lives in a civil war against a despotic regime led by an evil optometrist, Bashar al-Assad.

But we know that the entire Syrian fiasco was engineered by the CIA with cash, guns, and training, and unceasing support from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) at our behest. It is a long-standing neoconservative plan to break the so-called Shia Crescent that runs from Lebanon through Syria to Iran. These are, of course, the independent-minded states that have thus far refused to accept either Israeli colonization of Palestinian land or permit Western-backed energy projects to take shape on their territory. Hence the need to dismember them into tiny, feckless statelets that pose no challenge to either Tel Aviv or Washington.

But this is hidden behind the fog of war and a domestic haze of media nuance. This entire conflict could reasonably be said to hinge on a single phrase: “moderate rebels.” The words “moderate” and “rebel” make all the difference in the telling of this fable. The truth is that we have hijacked Arab Spring discontent and festooned it with brigades of terrorist mercenaries procured from around the Middle East and Asia, all with the singular mandate to take down the Assad government. Tens of thousands of jihadists have been injected by NATO into a multi-confessional state governed by an elected leader who won a larger percentage of the electorate than our liberal messiah Barack Obama.

But this more truthful interpretation of events is unacceptable. To concede that the White House is now backing al-Qaeda terrorists in an effort to capsize a Middle Eastern democracy would implode the religion of American exceptionalism on which elite power depends. Thus the media cannot point out that the Pentagon’s recent admission of having troops in Syria violates the Nuremberg Principles on wars of aggression as well as the United Nations Charter. Omissions of this kind are what prevent average Americans from a) knowing what we’re really doing; and b) resisting it.

Demonize and Distract

But it isn’t enough to simply cloak our own crimes in the holy cloth of exceptionalism. We must defame our enemies. We must plant false flags in their soil now so that we can bury bombs in them later. It happens the same way every time. ‘Shocking’ discoveries are made about one of our most reviled enemies, usually provided by a defector with a farcical alias (think “Curveball”). Instantaneous mainstream reports issue a coordinated condemnation of the country in question. Each media outlet chooses a particular keyword to drive home the horror. Popular terms include “crimes against humanity”, “war crimes”, the words “industrial scale” in front of any noun or verb, the word “mass” in front of any noun or verb, “brutal crackdown”, “regime”, and so on. Grisly images are plastered across the front pages of the MSM. Often the images are fakes or are from unrelated incidents.

Once the reader has been stupefied, at least one columnist or politician will draw a deep breath, and then ‘draw comparisons’ to either Hitler and Auschwitz or Slobodan Milosevic and mass graves. (Recently Milosevic was declared innocent of all genocidal charges by the International Criminal Tribunal on Yugoslavia, albeit years after he died in prison after being denied medical treatment by his civilized captors. This process of posthumous exoneration is now practiced on an “industrial scale” by Obama’s drone assassination when various innocents are discovered to have been innocent after they’ve been “terminated”.)

Not only is the supposedly noble Syrian uprising a fraud, but so is our equally principled goal of wiping ISIS from the face of the earth, if the facts on the ground are of any import. Washington has gone after ISIS in a strangely half-hearted way. Why hasn’t it provided air cover for Syrian Arab Army when its helicopters were rendered useless by terrorist TOW missiles? Missiles sold by the United States to Saudi Arabia, likely for the express purpose of funneling them to al Nusrah and other rogue bandits in Syria. Why did the U.S. not immediately attack ISIS-controlled oil wells and oil trading routes–ISIS’ chief source of funding–as Russia did on its entry into the conflict? Why did the Obama administration produce a record-setting arms deal with the Saudis, the leading proselytizer of Wahhabism in the world? Why do we refuse to work with Moscow or the SAA or Iran? Why do we not share grids and intelligence and join their joint operations room in Baghdad?

Isn’t it obvious? We have different goals. We want Assad out and a daft, pliant puppet in charge, presiding over a vast arsenal of domestic police, ready to crush resistance on contact. Of course, any such resisters would be legitimate freedom fighters, as are the Palestinians. But the media takes care to call Palestinians “terrorists” and called citizens resisting the Iraqi occupation “insurgents”. Words matter. They shade the story and bring neutral readers over to the side of empire. They blame the victim for the violence that victimized them.

The dissimulation becomes even clearer when you realize that ISISemerged from an American interrogation camp in Iraq, in a way that suggests CentCom was more than happy to release radicalized Islamists into the wild. To what purpose? The failed state in Libya and the collapsing scenery of the Syrian state provide plenty of fodder for speculation.

The Wages of Propaganda

Thanks to years of conditioning by the media, the population will do little to resist the escalation to come. Eventually the Syrian “regime” to be eventually overthrown by relentless American-backed violence. Hillary Clinton will win the election and gain control of the Oval Office. As Glen Ford wrote at Black Agenda Report, Clinton will “…ride into the White House on a warhorse”. She is the thinking man’s neocon, unlike President Bush, who represented the anti-intellectual strain of the American character, and Barack Obama, whose reluctance to pour troops into Arab prairie fires was widely predictably condemned as a sign of weakness.

Hillary is neither stupid nor soft. She will doubtless find a useful pretext by which to declare a no-fly zone in Syria, which would inhibit the efficacy of Russia’s campaign against various terrorist clans. (A House resolution is already afoot to lay the groundwork.) She will move more troops into the polder of northern Syria, violating all kinds of charters and conventions and declarations with an icy mixture of contempt and indifference. (See the UN Charter, Geneva Conventions, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for the bootless scraps of paper she will trample.) Perhaps most importantly, she will green light the transport of more arms, ammunition, and psychopaths into Syria to make a push for Damascus in the hopes of repeating the Libyan calamity.

Should that project succeed, Hillary will quite possibly ‘discover’ that Iran has been violating its bogus nuclear agreement with the P5 +1. Anonymous administration sources will be “troubled” by the development. This isn’t idle speculation. For lack of a better title, the long-term strategy for the “new world order,” as George H.W. Bush put it, is contingent on splitting the Shia Crescent, removing Iran as a regional antagonist, then moving farther into Eurasia to control Sino-Russian development. And we know how a confrontation with Tehran would play out. With rabid spittle cresting his white beard, Wolf Blitzer will escort numberless brigadier generals through The Situation Room to reassure Americans that the bearded mullahs in Qom are indeed a fearsome clan. Hillary will threaten, and perhaps use, tactical nuclear weapons (B-61s) on Iranian nuclear sites, backed by either a UN Security Council resolution of dubious authority or a coalition of the bullied, bought, and willing. As the mushroom cloud envelops the region in radioactive waste, Israel will be seen fastidiously colonizing more West Bank land, Benjamin Netanyahu rubbing his hands in frenzied anticipation, a dogeared copy of the Yinon plan stuffed in his jacket pocket. Saudi Arabia’s Deputy and Crown Princes will celebrate the fall of their hated rivals. Laconic onlookers in Washington and Europe will shrug and say nothing. CIA plants in D.C. will fastidiously distance Hillary’s bombs from Hiroshima’s, and Tel Aviv will move against Hezbollah in a final confrontation, since the Shia Crescent will by then be nothing more than a few shards of Mesopotamian culture atop a flaming midden.

With the Middle East finally brought “to heel,” as Hillary once proposed doing to young black boys, the ground will have been cleared for the pulse-racing showdown with Russia itself, the greatest thorn in Washington’s side. With Assad out of the way and Tehran chastened, the Kremlinologists and conspiracy theorists can be set loose to harrow the public into a state of high anxiety about the “expansionist” state to the East. NATO will inch closer to Russian borders and shout that Russia is moving closer to NATO. Destabilization will proceed apace. It will be called “democracy promotion” and will be paid for by fronts called “endowments”. Sanctions will tighten the economic screws. Verbal salvos will hit targets on either side of the water. New proxy wars will be touched off. Only a giant peace movement or stray asteroid could prevent something like this from happening. Perhaps the BRICS will halt the spread of empire with a collective stance, but Washington is agile if not artful at executing its core strategy to destabilize, divide, and rule its rivals. Until then, if you want to know what contempt looks like, look at this picture of Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin meeting at the G20 in China last week. The tenor of tomorrow is written all over their faces.


Jason Hirthler is a veteran of the communications industry and author of The Sins of Empire: Unmasking American Imperialism
He lives in New York City and can be reached at

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