Katherine Frisk editor’s note: Deidre May must be congratulated. For months now she has been researching the war in Syria and chasing up on media in South Africa asking one question repeatedly: “Why aren’t you telling the truth about Syria? ” On Thursday, 4th of May, the Daily News published her well researched and extensive article on Syria which we are proud to share with you here. Well done Deidre!
Escalating war in Syria: what are the actual drivers and why is there no resolution in sight?- Deidre May
In its seventh year, the Syrian conflict has largely been portrayed as a civil war that was initiated when anti-government protests turned violent, leading to an internal sectarian battle. So-called “opposition rebel groups” have been protecting the Syrian people and fighting against an oppressive dictatorship, which perpetrates violent attacks on its own civilians. Or so we have been told.
In contrast, independent media sources provide a counternarrative. Professor Marcello Ferrada de Noli gives this summary on Global Research: “The war in Syria started when the US and NATO states, in unholy alliance with Gulf State tyrannies, funded, trained and armed the ‘moderate’ extremist forces which have since invaded and terrorised the Syrian state and its people, who have steadfastly stood with their elected government against the tide of regime change propaganda and proxy military intervention.”
This covert war has led to the destruction of large parts of Syria, with an estimated half a million dead and millions more either displaced internally or facing an uncertain future as refugees in foreign countries. Recognising that Syria is a sovereign country that has been invaded illegally, Russia, together with Iran and Iraq, have provided support to President Bashar al-Assad’s government.
The war began in the southern city of Daraa in 2011, when a political protest turned violent due to the infiltration of Islamist militants, armed by Qatar and Saudi Arabia, in collaboration with the US and its NATO allies, Britain and France. Instigated within a demonstration meant that from the start the conflict could be deliberately misreported as sectarian violence, and this misrepresentation has continued through Gulf state media channels such as Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, as well as the Western mainstream media.
Professor Tim Anderson’s book, The Dirty War on Syria: Washington, Regime Change and Resistance, provides a detailed history of how the linkages between the US and its allies and the terrorist organizations drive the conflict which is being concealed behind the narrative that it is a civil war. Anderson comments that, “the dirty war on Syria has relied on a level of mass disinformation not seen in living memory.”
The perception is that Assad’s government is cold-bloodedly killing the civilian population through chemical attacks whilst trying to subdue the “moderate rebel groups,” who are portrayed as defenders of the people.
And yet the opposite is true. Throughout this long war, the civilian population has been brutalised by the militants: they have been bombed, held hostage, killed, tortured and starved, while their country is destroyed around them. In addition to the radicalised terrorist organisations, it is estimated that the paid mercenaries operating in Syria have been recruited from over 100 countries. It is a myth that any of these groups are moderate internal rebels. The Syrian Army has been waging a war against these terrorist groups and freeing the Syrian people from the areas they hold.
On December 9, a delegation of independent journalists and activists provided testimony of the actual situation, based on extensive visits to the most conflict-ridden parts of the country, where they spoke to many Syrians in Arabic. The testimony is online (https://goo.gl/7nO1is). Another source that provides testimonies from Syrians in the country is Mark Taliano’s recently published book, Voices from Syria.
To maintain the image of a monstrous regime, a succession of chemical attacks, targeting civilians, has been blamed on the government. By Global Research’s count, reports of chemical weapons’ attacks have reached over 600, though many have not been verified and others have been proven to be the work of the militant groups, which is not reported.
After a chemical attack is perpetrated, shocking images and videos are circulated and Assad’s regime is immediately blamed. As if on cue, a frenzied chorus of Western nations call for the removal of the Syrian government. Then seemingly independent inquiries by the UN and human rights groups lead to reports that allegedly prove the Syrian government’s culpability.
However, there is a vast number of articles that examine and debunk the analysis and conclusions of these reports by exposing the contradictions; proving that core technical details have been falsified or incorrectly assessed; showing that certain key aspects have been fabricated, even in images and video footage; and revealing sources as unreliable. These are, almost never, picked up by the mainstream media.
One of the first chemical attacks blamed on the government occurred in Ghouta, near the capital of Damascus, in August 2013, when hundreds of people died after Sarin rockets were fired.
In an article published on Global Research, Dr Theodore Postol, emeritus professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, points out that President Obama was “initially misinformed about supposed intelligence evidence that Syria was the perpetrator,” though the report containing this false information was later released and never corrected. Former CIA agent Philip Giraldi, in an interview on RT, also made the point that the information about this attack came from “rebels” who were in control of the area and in control of the news in terms of what got out and what was explained.
Despite the inconclusive evidence, and the Syrian government’s denial of any involvement, an agreement was drawn up for the Syrian stockpile of chemical weapons to be destroyed. This process was monitored by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
The Syrians were only able to give up the weapons at 10 of the 12 holding sites since two were located in areas controlled by militants. It is unclear what happened to the caches that were not retrieved but clearly it meant the militants had access to, and could have used, chemical weapons.
Global Research editor Professor Michel Chossudovsky writes that a 2013 UN report even acknowledged that the rebels could have used chemical weapons against government forces. “What the UN mission findings confirm is that the US sponsored opposition “rebels” largely composed of Al Qaeda affiliated groups, financed and supported by the Western military alliance were responsible for these 2013 chemical weapons attacks.”
There was even a May 2013 article in the UK’s Daily Mail quoting Carla del Ponte, a senior UN official, that the UN Commission investigating war crimes in Syria at that time had, “strong, concrete suspicions” that the militants had used the deadly nerve agent, Sarin gas on the Syrian Army”. After this admission the UN backpedalled by saying the evidence was not conclusive.
Fast forward to the present, after yet another chemical attack has been blamed on the Syrian government, and the US has retaliated with a missile strike on a Syrian airbase.
The gas attack on the village of Khan Shaykhun was on Tuesday April 4th and soon after alleged video evidence by the White Helmets surfaced. A member of this organisation told Al Jazeera the following day that up to 300 people had been injured and nearly 60 people killed. Almost immediately, the US blamed Assad’s regime, alleging that the weapon was dropped from an aircraft operating from the Shayrat airbase.
On Thursday morning, 6 April, the editor of Veterans Today, Gordon Duff, wrote that it was on the basis of the White Helmets video evidence that President Trump began to threaten to take America into a war against Syria. That evening, hardly more than two days after the attack, before any independent investigation and without receiving clearance from the UN Security Council, the US retaliated by firing 59 Tomahawk missiles upon the Shayrat airbase.
Since the attack doubt has been cast on the evidence provided by the White Helmets and the declassified White House Intelligence brief.
Commentators suspect the White Helmets are a fake humanitarian organisation composed of militants. They only operate in areas controlled by the militants and evacuate when the militants do. As in the Ghouta bombing and other attacks, right up to the most recent one, this organisation often has control of the information being dispersed from the sites of the alleged attacks. Far from being independent, they receive up to US$100 million from the CIA and the UK Foreign office.
Duff explains that when Human Rights Watch “published a ‘retrospective’ report on February 13th 2017, focusing on spurious accounts of chemical attacks on the recently liberated city of Aleppo, whilst recycling a previous report from April 2015 detailing an alleged chlorine gas attack in Sarmin, Idlib,” a video of the aftermath of this attack was provided by the White Helmets, and uploaded to YouTube on March 15th 2015.
On The Indicter, medical professor Dr de Noli exposes the contradictions in the testimony coming from this organisation. He also refers to the analysis by Swedish Doctors for Human Rights of video footage where the White Helmets are apparently providing emergency medical support to children.
They were aghast to find that not only did the procedures performed on the children not conform to medical standards but that there was even an instance where it was likely that a child was killed on camera through a procedure performed incorrectly. Yet when this macabre video was shown at a meeting of the UN Security Council, it helped to prompt the resurfacing of calls for a No-Fly Zone and is also being used to justify the continuation of crippling US-led sanctions against Syria.
In the week after the retaliatory missile attack on Syria, a White House Intelligence brief was released, purporting to provide clear-cut evidence that the Assad regime was to blame for the gas attack. Postol, in an article published on Global Research on April 13, analysed the brief and concluded that, “the document does not provide any evidence whatsoever that the US government has concrete knowledge that the government of Syria was the source of the chemical attack”. In an RT interview he went so far as to say that no intelligence expert would ever sign off on this report, which “indicates a willingness on the part of high-level people in the White House to distort – to use – intelligence claims that are false to make political points”.
Meanwhile, President Assad had approached the UN to send a team to investigate what happened but this was blocked by Western nations, as reported on 21 April, in an interview with him on Sputnik. Iran and Russia, supported by China, also presented a proposal to visit the site of the attack but this was rejected by the OPCW.
As reported on RT, despite no fact finding mission to the site, OPCW director-general Ahmet Üzümcü said there is, “incontrovertible evidence that the nerve gas Sarin or a Sarin-like substance was used”, though this was based only on samples sent out of the area by Al Qaeda’s Nusfra Front to laboratories in Turkey.
Middle East commentator, and former US Army Officer and private intelligence analyst, Patrick Lang, echoes other commentators when he writes: “Donald Trump’s decision to launch cruise missile strikes on a Syrian Air Force Base was based on a lie”.
Lang reasons that the attack was a completely unprovoked and unjustifiable violation of international law. And it appears to have been little more than cosmetic, since Syria and Russia had prior knowledge and were able to move most of the military assets. It was not cosmetic though for the civilians and military personnel who lost their lives, nor was the dent of US$100 million cosmetic to the US tax payers.
Since the “retaliatory” air strike, predictably the US has resumed its stance that regime change is needed in Syria. At this crisis point in the conflict, many analysts are cautioning that further agitation could result in a stand off between Russia and the US, with the terrifying possibility of a nuclear war.