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Fri, 26 Aug 2016
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Washington's Sunni myth and the Middle East undone

Comment: Mahboubian offers a detailed and fairly insightful analysis of what's going on in Syria and Iraq. However, he hasn't quite escaped from the lies of the Western propaganda machine. Even then, his analysis shows that even if you accept much of the West's propaganda narrative, it is not enough to rationally justify any of the U.S.'s policy choices when it comes to Syria. The narrative is self-defeating. Of course, it's that way on purpose, because their real goals are diametrically opposed to their professed goals. But if enough people saw this, it would at least be a bit more of a challenge for the U.S. to destroy Syria like it did to Libya and countless other countries over the past couple generations. See part 1 here: The Syrian and Iraqi wars: Washington's myth of Sunni/Shia sectarianism

A Westerner with extensive on-the-ground experience in Syria and Iraq tackles conventional Western views of the civil wars in Iraq and Syria and proposes a dramatic rethinking of the region.

Editor's Note: This is the second of two articles on this topic, the
first of which was published last week. There has been some controversy over my decision to allow this author to write under a pen name. I know the author's identity and while his arguments are surely controversial, I am confident in his sourcing and subject matter expertise. I carefully considered his request to use a pen name. I decided that this case reasonably meets the standards for such protection published on our site. The author, in my view, can reasonably and seriously fear for his professional employment and safety publishing under his real name. -RE

I was not surprised to see my first article greeted with so much outrage by those who adhere to the conventional Western narrative of the civil wars in Iraq and Syria as well as the larger tumult of the Middle East. In truth, these conflicts are not so easily defined by the easy sectarian narrative offered in the Western press. I argued that Western elites were surrendering to and even embracing the Saudi definition of what Sunni identity should mean. And I provided accounts of the conflicts in Syria and Iraq that do not comport with what you likely have been reading in the newspapers.


The Ankara-Tehran-Moscow (ATM) coalition

© Umit Bektas/Reuters
Turkish soldiers on an armoured vehicle are seen in Karkamis on the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern Gaziantep province, Turkey, August 25, 2016.
So Turkish President, a.k.a. Sultan Recep Tayyip Erdogan is about to make a high-profile visit to Tehran - the date has not yet been set - to essentially kick start the ATM (Ankara-Tehran-Moscow) coalition in Syria.

Anyone as much as hinting at such a massive geopolitical tectonic shift a few weeks ago would be branded a madman. So how did the impossible happen?

A major strategic game-changer- Russia using an airfield in Iran to send bombers against jihadis in Syria - had already taken place, with its aftermath spectacularly misreported by the usual, clueless US corporate media suspects.

Then, there's what Turkey's Prime Minister, Binali Yildirim, said last Saturday in Istanbul: "The most important priority for us is to stop the bloodshed [in Syria] as soon as possible." The rest are irrelevant "details."

Yildirim added Ankara now agrees with Moscow that Bashar al-Assad "could" - and that's the operative word - stay in power during a political transition (although that's still highly debatable). Ankara's drive to normalize relations with Moscow had an 'important share' in this 'policy shift'.

The 'policy shift' is a direct consequence of the failed military coup in Turkey. Russian cyber-surveillance aces - in action 24/7 after the downing of the Su-24 last November - reportedly informedTurkish intelligence a few hours before the fact. NATO, as the record shows, was mum.

Even minimalist optics suggests 'Sultan' Erdogan was extremely upset that Washington was not exactly displeased with the coup. He knows how vast swathes of the Beltway despise him - blaming him for not being serious in the fight against ISIS and for bombing the YPG Kurds - Pentagon allies - in Syria. The record does show Erdogan has mostly ignored ISIS - allowing non-stop free border crossing for ISIS goons as well as letting Turkish business interests (if not his own family) profit from ISIS' stolen Syrian oil.

Compared to Washington's attitude Moscow, on the other hand, warning Erdogan about serious, concrete facts on the ground in the nick of time. And for Erdogan, that was highly personal; the putschists reportedly sent a commando to kill him when he was still in Marmaris.

Fast forward to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif's surprise visit two weeks ago to Ankara. Zarif and his counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu did discuss serious options by which the budding ATM coalition could come up with a viable exit strategy in Syria. One week later Cavusoglu went to Tehran and talked again to Zarif for five hours.

It's an uphill battle - but doable. Tehran knows very well IRGC officers as well as Hezbollah, Iraqi and Afghan fighters were killed in the Syrian war theater, and that shall not be in vain. Ankara for its part knows it cannot afford to remain forever trapped in an ideological dead end.


French General: Syrian government unlikely to be behind 2013 Ghouta chemical weapon attack

© REUTERS/ Yaseen Al-Bushy
Syrian government forces are unlikely to be behind the 2013 Ghouta chemical attack, Francois Delattre, a French Army general and an analyst with the Institute of International and Strategic Relations (IRIS), told Sputnik on Wednesday.

Debates over the Ghouta attack incident resurfaced earlier in the day after Syria's Permanent Representative to the United Nations Bashar Jaafari said in an interview that the attack was organized by French intelligence in an effort to divert UN inspectors' attention from another incident caused by the opposition.

"I would prefer not to think that French special forces were involved in the chemical weapons operation, and even about them stating that [Syrian President] Bashar Assad used them in Ghouta. According to the information available, the weapons were inspected by UN experts and it was found that they were deployed in areas which Assad's forces could not have accessed by definition," Delattre said.

The international community has struggled to establish the side responsible for the attack, with the UN Security Council's Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), set up in 2015, due to publish its findings by the end of August. Despite the lack of conclusive evidence, a number of governments, including France, the United Kingdom and the United States, were quick to blame the Syrian government for the incident.

Comment: Another French General, Dominique Trinquand, hints that the Syrian opposition could have been behind the attack:
"There really were chemical weapons. The question is, what happened to these chemical weapons: whether they were completely destroyed, or the rebels were able to capture them and use them. And in this case the Syrian government would be primarily responsible for that because it had failed to keep it. And secondly, the responsibility, of course, also lies on those who had used chemical weapons, namely the opposition, if it was them who'd done it," he said.
But, the question then becomes, how did the Syrian opposition get access to chemical weapons. Gen. Trinquand seems to think the weapons would have been stolen from the Syrian government, but there isn't any proof of that. It could easily be claimed that the opposition was given chemical weapons by sources from the West and then used to attack and demonize Syria. The Syrian representative to the UN, Dr. Bashar al-Jaafari, has accused French Intelligence of being behind the attack:
"The use of chemical weapons in the Damascus area was meant to prevent Dr. Åke Sellström [the head of the weapons inspectors] from going to Aleppo because [France] knew who had used chemical weapons in Aleppo."
He elaborated on his accusations in an exclusive interview with Sputnik:
"The case with chemical weapons was initially fabricated to exert pressure on the Syrian government. After the first chemical gas attack on Khan al-Asal in Aleppo, I went to the Secretary-General (UN approx.) to request assistance to the Syrian government in investigation for answering if there actually was a chemical attack and who was behind it?"

"Three hours later after consultation with the countries of the UN Security Council, he came back to me and said, 'Tell your government that I will assist and sent a delegation of experts who will be engaged in investigating the chemical attack in Khan al-Asal.'"

However, according to Jaafrey, the Secretary-General added that he will not be able to assist in determining the party behind the attack.

"From that moment, it became clear that the UN Security Council members are interested in keeping the party behind the attacks unnamed due to certain political circumstances," Jaafrey said.
The purpose of the Huta attack was to distract from Khan al-Asal, to create obstacles to keep Selstrum from traveling there, as well as to focus everyone's attention on Damascus. The plan was a success, as Dr. Selstrum has not yet visited Khan al-Asal, according to Jaafrey.

"According to the French sources and according to the book 'Road to Damascus'the famous French journalists Georges Malbruno and Christian Shesno have documented evidence to prove the involvement of the former French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, in the Eastern Guta tragedy near Damascus," Jaafrey told Sputnik.

"At the moment, we have sent hundreds of letters to the UN Security Council, the Commission of Inquiry under 1540 and to the mission of fact-finding and joint investigation. All of them were created after the incident in Khan al-Asal in the Eastern Guta and near Damascus. In our letters there was transparent information," the representative said.

However, the UN Security Council member states either ignored the data, or accused it of being unreliable. They did not pass the data to the media, nor did they mention it in their statements. "This was due to the fact that the party behind these chemical attacks has the support of these countries," Jaafrey said.
As we can see now, the chemical weapons attack in 2013 that was used by the West as a prime example to remove Assad from power was another false flag set up to further US imperial designs. There is no proof that Assad gassed his own people, while it's likely that the proxy army created by the West are the ones responsible.

See also:


Outright lying by UK govt: We know about Iraq, but what about Syria?

British wars abroad have two enemies. First, the official enemy, portrayed as a monster whom we always battle with noble intentions. But second is the enemy within - us, the public. The danger posed by the public is that we may stop elites doing what they want, hence we are subject to state 'information operations' to convey messages and obscure facts, usually via compliant media organisations. Current British policy in Syria, which is having the effect of prolonging the terrible war by supporting forces fighting the regime, involves outright lying by ministers at a level similar to that over Iraq in 2002-3.

The British government is waging 'information warfare' by funding media operations for some Syrian rebel groups. The Ministry of Defence is hiring contractors to produce videos, photos, radio broadcasts and social media posts branded with the logos of rebel groups, to 'effectively run a press office for opposition fighters'. Materials are being circulated in the Arabic broadcast media and posted online with no indication of British government involvement.

Comment: Is it not possible these contractors might be spreading disinformation about Assad and his "attacks on civilians"??

But a key strand of government propaganda over Syria is often simply lying to parliament and the public. In July 2015, Defence Minister Earl Howe told Parliament that the government 'would seek further Parliamentary approval before UK aircraft conducted air strikes in Syria'. This was untrue - British aircraft were already secretly striking Islamic State targets in Syria as was revealed by human rights organisation Reprieve six days after Howe's statement. These air strikes, conducted by pilots embedded with US and Canadian forces, began months before Parliament voted in favour of them in December 2015.

Microscope 2

The day before Deraa: How the West brought civil war to Syria

Setting the stage: 'protests' in Deraa in March 2011, instigated and organized by Western intelligence-trained agents provocateurs
The day before September 11, 2001 was like any normal day in New York City. September 10, 2001 was unaware of the earthshaking events which would happen the next day.

Similarly, one might think the day before the violence broke out in Deraa, Syria, in March 2011, would have been an uneventful day, unaware of the uprising about to begin.

But that was not the case. Deraa was teaming with activity and foreign visitors to Syria well before the staged uprising began its opening act.

The Omari Mosque was the scene of backstage preparations, costume changes and rehearsals. The Libyan terrorists, fresh from the battlefield of the US-NATO regime change attack on Libya, were in Deraa well ahead of the March 2011 uprising violence. The cleric of the Omari Mosque was Sheikh Ahmad al Sayasneh. He was an older man with a severe eye problem, which caused him to wear special dark glasses, and severely hampered his vision. He was not only visually impaired, but light sensitive as well, which caused him to be indoors as much as possible and often isolated. He was accustomed to judging the people he talked with by their accent and voice. The Deraa accent is distinctive. All of the men attending the Omari Mosque were local men, all with the common Deraa accent.

Better Earth

The new Russia-China-Iran coalition changes everything

Over the span of just a few days, the situation in the Middle East in general and Syria in particular has undergone radical changes. What's more, these are good changes which we can be proud of, ones which many in the Pentagon are losing sleep over. Putin is taking full advantage of the institutional paralysis which is engulfing the United States during election campaigns and is, literally in front of dumbfounded Americans' eyes, redistributing spheres of influence in one of the key regions of the world.

Let's start with the reports that Russia has just set up its own air force base in Iran. Honestly speaking, this isn't the case. This is not our base. Iran has "loaned" it to us for some time in order for bombing ISIS terrorists and their friends in Syria to be easier. The context of these reports is key. In general, it is no secret to many that Iran has long since closely cooperated with Russia in Syria and opened its airspace for the passage of Russian Caliber rockets, just like its airfields were already being used last year by our transport and bombers for refueling.

But there is a nuance. Iran and Russia have tried not to advertise this, apparently so as to not create additional tension during the process of Syria negotiations, and so that Iran can still continue the tedious and difficult work of defrosting their Western assets since sanctions have been lifted. But the situation has radically changed now.

Comment: For SOTT's take on the latest moves in Iran, Turkey, and Syria, listen to our latest episode of Behind the Headlines: Yemen resists, Turkey rebels, and the weather goes wild


The Syrian and Iraqi wars: Washington's myth of Sunni/Shia sectarianism

In the first of two articles, a Westerner with extensive on-the-ground experience in Syria and Iraq explains how the West's understanding of sectarian identity in the Middle East is fatally flawed. He reveals new information on these civil wars and their participants.
Editor's Note: This author is writing under a pen name. I know the author's identity and while his arguments are surely controversial, I am confident in his sourcing and subject matter expertise. I have decided to allow him to write under a pen name because he can reasonably fear for his safety and professional employment. -RE (Update 8/17 - We have made an important factual correction explained at the bottom of the article).

In Iraq, the senior Shia leaders of the Popular Mobilization Forces (P.M.F.) recently gathered for a meeting. Among them was a leading Sunni P.M.F. commander, who later recounted this story to me. When the men broke for prayer, a Shia leader noticed they were not being joined by their Sunni comrade, who remained seated. The Shia leader asked, "Why don't you join us?"

Comment: Though we think Mahboubian mischaracterizes the Syrian government and military's approach, and we are skeptical that the poor policy choices of the U.S. are the result of a faulty narrative (rather, the faulty narrative seems willfully designed in order to create suboptimal conditions), the rest of the article is a fair, detailed, and insightful look at the un-reality of Sunni-Shia sectarianism in Syria and Iraq. Readers will be forgiven if 'divide and conquer' comes to mind... We have the U.S. to blame for that, and their 'Sunni vs. Shia' fiction continues to prevent Syria and Iraq from regaining their stability and sovereignty they so desperately need.


Westerners suddenly realize children get killed in airstrikes, cry crocodile tears over 'boy in Aleppo ambulance'

This image is shocking the Western world, which has no clue that it caused the subject's pain.
Harrowing images of an ash-covered boy who survived an air strike in Syria has quickly spread across the internet, shocking and disturbing social media users.

While there are many horrifying images from Syria, this, like the image of drowned Syrian refugee Aylan Kurdi, managed to capture the world's attention.

Comment: It later turned out that Kurdi's father - who was on the same boat as his son - was one of the people smugglers the Western media blamed for the refugee crisis (before it later switched to blaming Russia).

Comment: For more on this latest bout of global emotional manipulation, see here:

The boy in the ambulance: US State Dept-funded groups behind latest 'iconic image' designed to demonize Russia and encourage further bloodshed in Syria

Bad Guys

Soros leak shows his foundation viewed refugee crisis as opportunity to be exploited

© Luke MacGregor / Reuters
Billionaire George Soros

Comment: This is probably as close as we'll get to proof of what everyone (should) already knows: Soros and fellow Western billionaires are working the crises they created (whether accidentally or deliberately) to manipulate Western governments and keep them in line with the US, and as far away from cooperating with Russia and China as possible.

A leaked memo from left-wing financier George Soros's Open Society Foundations argues that Europe's refugee crisis should be accepted as a "new normal," and that the refugee crisis means "new opportunities" for Soros' organization to influence immigration policies on a global scale.

OSF program officer Anna Crowley and program specialist Katin Rosin co-authored the May 12 memo, titled "Migration Governance and Enforcement Portfolio Review." The memo focuses on an OSF program called the International Migration Initiative, which aims to influence immigration policy.

The nine-page review makes three key points: OSF — which doles out millions to left-wing causes — has been successful at influencing global immigration policy; Europe's refugee crisis presents "new opportunities" for the organization to influence global immigration policy; and the refugee crisis is the "new normal."

Comment: Further reading:

Eye 2

Clinton body count increases: 5 dead in just 6 weeks (VIDEO)

Hillary will stop at nothing to claw her way into the White House; unfortunately, people are dropping dead left and right in her path and, in the case of the last two found dead earlier this week, the mainstream media is pretending not to even notice they are gone...