A quick scan of today’s major press outlets in the US, Britain and Israel reveals the Empire’s continuing attempt to conceal the full depth and extent of its culpability for the last three years of bloodshed and destruction in Syria.
To begin with today’s Guardian, which carries an article on Syria that still claims “Officially, Russia has staunchly backed Assad through the four-and-half-year Syrian war, insisting that his removal cannot be part of any peace settlement.“ The major news purveyed in the article are the details of a 2012 plan Russia had proposed to avoid the escalation of violence in Syria, which had by that point taken some 7,000 lives — a proposal rejected by the US, Britain, and the rest of the self-declared”Friends of Syria” group of countries.
Relying on the Guardian, today’s Washington Post also cites Martti Ahtisaari, Finnish diplomat and Nobel laureate, and his revelation that “in February 2012, when the conflict had claimed under 10,000 lives, Russia’s envoy to the United Nations outlined a peace plan that could have led to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s exit from power.”
Reporting the same news, Isreal’s Haaretz similarly claims that “Russia supposedly proposed President Bashar Assad step down in 2012 as part of a larger Syrian peace deal, but was ignored by the West that thought opposition forces would oust the embattled dictator first”[emphasis mine].
Note the hedging and the rhetoric of doubt and uncertainty evident in the phrasing above. In reality, there is, as I will show, nothing of a mere supposition about it.
As early as June 6, 2012, in fact, Bloomberg had reported that “Russia is signaling that it no longer views President Bashar al-Assad’s position as tenable and is working with the U.S. to seek an orderly transition.” As Bloomberg also pointed out over 3 years ago, on June 1, 2012, speaking to the international press, Putin himself had indicated Russia’s commitment to finding a solution which would avert the possibility of a full-scale war in Syria. That solution, as he hinted, could involve Assad’s stepping down:
“We aren’t for Assad or for his opponents. We want to achieve a situation in which violence ends and a full-scale civil war is avoided.”
It is highly improbable that literally everyone at the Guardian’s, Washington Post’s, and Haaretz’s newsdesks suffers from such enormous memory deficits as to have forgotten the original reports on Russia’s flexibility regarding Assad from 2012. It seems much more likely, in fact, that Matti Ahtisaari’s statements are now being offered to the public as breaking news because the UK and the US administrations, in particular, are facing serious international embarrassment — and opprobrium at home — for having unnecessarily prolonged bloodshed in Syria and, by refusing Russia’s 2012 offer, both financially and practically facilitated the death of over 200,000 Syrians in the proxy-war they’ve been supporting there. Not incidentally, this also makes them directly responsible for the greatest refugee crisis of the last 50 years, now threatening stability and security in Europe.
The official Western narrative, pushed by the Anglo-American and EU mainstream media since 2011, has almost invariably claimed Russian intransigence on the issue of Assad. That narrative is now in tatters. The Guardian, Washington Post and Haaretz articles of the last 24 hours demonstrate that what now needs to be air-brushed from our view is the fact that it was always only a narrative – an anti-Russian, pro-war propaganda story the Western press knowingly imposed on the public.
There were always chinks in that story, of course. In June 2012, the Guardian itself had carried an item headlined “Russia backs Assad’s departure ‘if that is what Syrians want’,” with the subheading:
Foreign minister’s comments suggest that Moscow’s backing for Syrian president is weakening
The article opened with
Russia has indicated that it will no longer stand in the way of the departure of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad if that is what Syrians want.
and went on to quote Lavrov saying that “If the Syrians agree [on Assad’s departure] between each other, we will only be happy to support such a solution.”
The current attempt to re-write history – all Ahtisaari has now revealed are some of the actual details of the Russian plan the US and EU rejected in 2012, not the fact that Moscow clearly signalled its flexibility on Assad long ago — stands as just another starkly pointed instance of bad faith on the part of the Western press.
Cover photograph: Douma rubble. Copyright, Mohammed Badra/Reuters, 2012.