conflict zones, latest, Syria
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NEWS: Syria & Russia Accuse U.S. Coalition, ‘White Helmets’, of Preparing Chemical Weapons Attacks in Idlib

Eric Zuesse

The Governments of Syria and Russia claim to have proofs that the U.S. coalition that has invaded and now occupies Syria has prepared chlorine and sarin gas attacks for Idlib and other areas where Syria and Russia are trying to destroy all jihadists — prepared attacks designed to be blamed against Syria’s Government.

Headlining on Friday, September 7th, “New details surface about terrorists’ preparations to stage chemical attack in Idleb and Hama”, the official Syrian Arab News Agency reports from its sources in both Idlib and Hama in Syria, that:

The White Helmets have picked three new locations for carrying out the attacks after information was leaked about the previously-planned locations, and the three locations are: al-Najia town in Jisr al-Shughour countryside, al-Hamawsh town in the northwestern countryside of Hama, and Kafr Nubbul town in Idleb countryside.

The sources affirmed that sarin gas and chlorine gas shipments have been transported to these three areas, and that dozens of children ages two to ten who had been abducted recently from a camp near Salqin now were transported from Jisr al-Shughour to an unknown location.

The sources suggest that it’s likely that the White Helmets and the armed groups will carry out a real massacre this time to avoid the inconsistencies that surfaced in the staged chemical incident in Douma.

The next day, SANA reported that Russian intelligence had confirmed that there was:

full readiness of participants in such provocations, the play [or set-up] would be completed by Thursday evening September 13th, stressing that terrorists “are waiting for a special order from foreign contacts as a signal to start the practical phase.”…

Terrorist organizations in cooperation with the so called “White Helmets” acting as an arm of the terrorists, “Jan” in Syria, have shipments of chlorine gas and sarin gas to several regions of idleb and Hama countryside, to move dozens of children from addicted hospital In the middle of nowhere who were kidnapped recently from a camp near the city of salqin aged between two and ten years in order to prepare for chemical play scenario in these areas to accuse the Syrian Arab Army…

[And there are also] preparations for armed terrorist groups in Latakia and Aleppo, Idlib and surrounds, to use toxic chemicals against civilians and widely in order to disrupt the military operation against terrorism In those areas.

On Saturday, September 8th, bannered “Nine Civilians Killed as UN Warns Syria Not to Fight Terrorists” and reported:

Nine civilians were murdered in Mhardeh today as UNSC President Nikki Haley warned Syria against fighting terrorism and terrorists in Syria.”

The source for that allegation regarding Nikki Haley was unfortunately not linked-to but was this from the current President of the United Nations Security Council, America’s Ambassador, Nikki Haley, speaking on September 7th:

The Assad regime and its enablers, Russia and Iran, have a playbook for this war. First, they surround a civilian area. Next, they make the preposterous claim that everyone in the area is a terrorist, so every man, woman, and child becomes a target. Then comes the ‘starve and surrender’ campaign, where they keep attacking until the people no longer have food, clean water, or shelter. It’s a playbook of death. The Assad regime has spent the last seven years refining it with Russia and Iran’s help.”

Polling by a British pollster, Orb International, which has been done annually throughout Syria since 2014, has shown that Idlib province is by far the most pro-jihadist region of Syria, and that over 90% of the residents there support Al Qaeda and/or ISIS. Collateral damage is routinely accepted in war; and, when, in 1945, the U.S. and Britain firebombed Dresden, and the U.S. nuked both Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the slaughter of civilians wasn’t “collateral damage” but was actually the purpose.

But now, the U.S. and its allies warn Syria and Russia not to bomb the only region of Syria that is overwhelmingly supportive of the very same “Radical Islamic Terrorism” that Donald Trump had railed against while running for the U.S. Presidency. Syria’s Government has been bussing all surrendered jihadists to Idlib, and so the percentage of jihadists there has increased even more, presumably to well over 90%. But U.S. President Donald Trump is threatening war against Russia, World War III, if Russia supports its ally, Syria’s, efforts to exterminate all jihadists in Syria. The United States Government cites ‘humanitarian concerns’ as the reason for threatening WW III.

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.


  1. @ Admin:

    <a href=”>Somewhere in the thread below, you wrote:

    “And a follow up. Where did you find the data on Assad’s record of brutality? We have been looking for a good source on this.”

    Here is a link to material published by an online periodical managed by Raymond Hinnebusch (that both of us, or anyone else, including Eric, might turn to account): Syrian Studies

    You can read the issues online, in .pdf format, in your browser or as downloads.

    The periodical, as it appears online, seems to have gone dormant.The volumes and dates currently posted range from Vol 1 No 1 (2008) to Vol 9 No 2 (2017).

  2. Forever Young says

    I was always puzzled as to why so many ‘Jihadi Terrorists’ were allowed to leave in buses at the end of previous battles by the Syrian army…

    • Jen says

      They were allowed to leave the areas where they’d been defeated by the SAA and its allies … but the buses all took them to Idlib province.

      There, they could fight (and even kill) one another to their hearts’ content. Making the job easier for Syria when eventually the Army has to mop them all up in Idlib.

      • JudyJ says


        What you say is, of course, correct but, just reading your explanation as if I didn’t know the background, I think it’s just worth clarifying that when the terrorists agreed to be ‘bussed out’ with their families they were fully aware their destination would be Idlib, already recognised as a (if not THE) major last terrorist stronghold, leaving just a few small pockets elsewhere (coincidentally (??) largely where the US forces have stationed themselves).

  3. “Polling by a British pollster, Orb International, which has been done annually throughout Syria since 2014, has shown that Idlib province is by far the most pro-jihadist region of Syria, and that over 90% of the residents there support Al Qaeda and/or ISIS.”

    90%, eh? What is the estimated population currently in Idlib? I’ve read from a number of different sources that the UN estimate is around 3 million. But some claim as “few” as 1.5 million. But regardless of which of the population estimates is closest to the truth, if the estimate of the percentage of Idlib residents who support Al Qaeda and/or ISIS is accurate, that is a lot of people unfriendly to the Syrian government.

    I suppose, then, that it is reasonable to expect widespread resistance to the liberation of Idlib, and that many will have to die or leave, and judging from the tenor of the comments I’ve read here, rightly so.

    After all, if a poll by Orb International — “allied with the US instead of with Syria” — says that most everyone in Idlib is an Al Qaeda and/or ISIS supporter, it must be true, and by implication, who could blame the Russians and Assad’s forces if they end up razing the entire province, eh?

    I wonder if Orb put a its questionnaire to each and every resident of Idlib, or whether they had to rely on a ‘sample,’ and if the latter, whether that ‘sample’ was truly representative of the opinions and sentiments of the majority of Syrians currently hunkered down in Idlib?

    But may the most righteous and humanitarian bombs prevail in Idlib. Especially so if the target is a province where 90% of the population are supporters of Al Qaeda and/or ISIS . . .

    • bevin says

      So, Norman, what is your prescription?
      Should Idlib be left to the wahhabis ? Or the US? or the Turks? Should they be requested kindly not to use the place as a base for carrying out massacres in Latakia?
      You hinted earlier that the carnage in Mosul was attributable to Iraq and Iran rather than the USAF, so do you think that perhaps the US should be given the job of ‘liberating’ Idlib and installing a proletarian dictatorship there?

      • “You hinted earlier that the carnage in Mosul was attributable to Iraq and Iran rather than the USAF, so do you think that perhaps the US should be given the job of ‘liberating’ Idlib and installing a proletarian dictatorship there?”

        Please show me where I hinted that the carnage in Mosul was “rather more” the responsibility of Iraq and Iran than the USAF? Quote me to me. I want to read that hint.

        As for my prescription, I have none. The situation is beyond tragic, and whatever chance the people of Syria may have had to extricate themselves out from under the governance of the current Syrian patrimonial system of rule, it has by now completely evaporated .

        What I’m seeing is ordinary people whose lives had become so intolerable that they rose up in discontent, and for daring to stand up for themselves, are now being drowned in blood.

        All I can do is to acknowledge the ‘reality’ as I see it: colluding capitalist regimes quelling the last vestiges of a popular uprising.

        Is this what you want me to cheer?

        • bevin says

          “What I’m seeing is ordinary people whose lives had become so intolerable that they rose up in discontent, and for daring to stand up for themselves, are now being drowned in blood. ”

          No. What you are seeing, and have been since 2011, is a carefully choreographed propaganda offensive designed to give a “Human Rights” and R2P gloss to a massive invasion designed to neutralise the last state in the region not to have surrendered to the Zionist programme. You have seen nothing, just read the claims being made. It is very clear from the obviously authentic reactions of people in Ghoutta and Aleppo that, on balance, the SAA is very much welcomed after their western sponsored opponents have been defeated.

          “All I can do is to acknowledge the ‘reality’ as I see it: colluding capitalist regimes quelling the last vestiges of a popular uprising.”

          Be fair, Norman: the US government are going to considerable lengths to protect this “popular uprising” against a capitalist government. While the Turkish government, together with their Gulf allies, went to great lengths to rush to the support (with men and munitions, medicines and money) of the ‘uprising’.
          Surprisingly even Saudi Arabia, rarely seen as a bastion of support for the anti- capitalist cause, was to the fore in its defence of the revolution!
          Thank you by the way for refraining from characterising the state actors merely as ‘capitalist’ ; the nonsense of ‘competing Empires’ is too much to deal with on a pleasant Sunday morning.

          • “You have seen nothing, just read the claims being made.”

            And you yourself have seen . . . what?

            Like me, you read claims (and viewed videos of claims being made) that both run counter to the claims that I now find more credible and that I, too, have read and to which for a good long time I adhered, just as you still do.

            Then it struck me that the claim that there had never been anything like an uprising or peaceful protests in Syria was actually a rather baseless claim, that there was scant evidence being offered up for it and, furthermore and perhaps more importantly, that it flew in the face of what other very reliable sources had to say on that particular issue.

            Samir Amin, for one, who is an Egyptian and a Middle East scholar, had written something that just didn’t square with the “no peaceful or popular protests” thesis of people like Vanessa Beeley, Eva Bartlett, Prof. Tim Anderson, or Stephen Gowans:

            Quote begins:

            You see, the US establishment — and behind the US establishment its allies, the Europeans and others, Turkey as a member of NATO — derived their lesson from their having been surprised in Tunisia and Egypt: prevent similar movements elsewhere in the Arab countries, preempt them by taking the initiative of, initiating, the movements. They have tested their experience in Libya, and they have tested it in Libya with success, in the sense that, in Libya, at the start we had no [broad popular] movement . . . against Gaddafi. We had small armed groups, and one has to question immediately . . . where those arms were coming from. They were — we know it — from the beginning, from the Gulf, with the support of Western powers, and the US. And attacking the army, police, and so on. And the same day, not even the next day, those very people who qualified themselves as “liberation forces,” “democratic liberation forces,” called upon NATO — the French and then NATO — to come to the rescue, and that allowed for the intervention. That intervention has succeeded in the sense that it destroyed the regime of Gaddafi. But what is the result of the success? Is it democratic Libya? Well, one should laugh at that when one knows that the president of the new regime is nobody else than the very judge who condemned to death the Bulgarian nurses. What a curious democracy it is! But it has also led to the dislocation of the country on a Somalian pattern: that is, local powers — all of them in the name of so-called “Islam,” but local warlords — with the destruction of the country. One can raise the question: was this the target of the intervention — that is, the destruction of the country?

            I’ll come back to this main question, because they tried to implement the same strategy immediately afterward on Syria — that is, introducing armed groups from the very beginning. From the north through Turkey, Hatay particularly. The so-called “refugee camps” in Hatay are not refugee camps — there are very few refugees — they are camps for training mercenaries to intervene in Syria. This is well documented by our Turkish friends. And Turkey as a NATO power is part of the conspiracy in that case. And similarly with Jordan, introducing from the south, with the support — not only neutrality but, I think, active support — of Israel, through Daraa, southern armed groups.

            Facing that in Syria we have objectively a situation similar to the one of Egypt: that is, a regime which a long, long time ago had legitimacy, for the same reasons, when it was a national-popular regime but lost it in the time of Hafez Assad already — it moved to align itself with neoliberalism, privatization, etc., leading to the same social disaster. So, there is an objective ground for a wide, popular, social-oriented uprising. But by preempting this movement, through the military intervention of armed groups, the Western imperialist powers have created a situation where the popular democratic movement is . . . hesitating. They don’t want to join the so-called “resistance” against Bashar Assad; but they don’t want to support the regime of Bashar Assad either. That has allowed Bashar Assad to successfully put an end, or limits, to external intervention, in Homs and on the boundary of Turkey in the north. But opposing state terror to the real terrorism of armed groups supported by foreign powers is not the answer to the question. The answer to the question is really changing the system to the benefit of, through negotiations with, the real popular democratic movement. This is the challenge. [Norm’s emphasis] And this is the question which is raised. We don’t know, I don’t know, I think nobody knows how things will move on: whether the regime, or people within the regime, will understand that and move towards real reform by opening, more than negotiations, a re-distribution of the power system with the popular democratic movement, or will stick to the way of meeting explosions just brutally as they have done until today. If they continue in that direction, finally they will be defeated, but they will be defeated to the benefit of imperialist powers.

            Quote ends.

            So, you see, whereas Amin asserted in 2012 that there had been a broad based or popular movement of Syrians arrayed against the Assad government, and that the Assad government had had a long history and was in the habit of meeting manifestations of popular dissent or unrest “just brutally,” the likes of Beeley, Bartlett, Anderson and Gowans denied it.

            That was a problem for me.

            Who to believe? Amin, the Middle East Egyptian scholar, or the ‘Western’ self-styled critical thinking alternative activist journalists?

            Then there was this bit of video in which Putin makes claims very consonant with those of Amin (the relevant bit is from the very beginning to 8 minutes and 16 seconds):

            Finally, in a footnote to something Prof. Tim Hayward had posted (i.e. titled: “Syria’s Moderate Opposition: beyond the doublethink”), I came upon a reference to Raymond Hinnebusch, which I highly recommend to anyone who might be interested in digging a bit more deeply into the history of the social and political imperatives proper to Syria and that resulted in the Syrian upheavals of 2011: this piece (i.e., ‘Syria: from ‘authoritarian upgrading’ to revolution?’ International Affairs, 88(1) 2012: p.113) was the piece that finally convinced me that the story as I had come to accept didn’t accurately reflect the reality of things as they actually were and are in Syria.

            So, yeah, you are quite correct: I have seen nothing, just read and viewed claims being made.

            And you? Have you seen anything more than I have?

            Do you see that perhaps, just maybe, I might have “reasonable grounds” for seeing things as they pertain to Syria as I now see them?

        • vexarb says

          Norman, you seem quite a nice fellow but — forgive me — you sound like a Trot. There was a Leftwing lady (called Marsinah?) BTL The Indie around 2010 who sounded quite reasonable until NATZO invaded Syria; and then one realized that she had swallowed the “rebel’ line hook and sinker, and that she and her Trotskyist comrades were the enemies of Arab Socialist countries such as Libya, Syria and Iran. Thank goodness for clear sighted socialist voices such as Ramin Mazaheri in the Saker.

          Re prescription for Idlib: apply same remedy as cured the well paid NATZO so-called ‘rebels’ in Aleppo and 95% of NATZO’s well-paid, well armed so-called ‘ISIS caliphate’. Prescription of Dr.Assad, MD: negotiation, reconciliation, clemency — and integrity, both personal integrity and integrity of multi-ethnic Syria.

          • Vexarb,

            I sound like a Trot. You don’t like Trots. I guess that means there is a black mark against my name. I’m sorry you feel that way. If it makes you feel any better, I assure you that I’m not sectarian – at least I don’t think that I am — even if I happen to agree (and also disagree) with a lot of what many avowed Trots profess.

            On the other hand, I’m also not much for ingratiating myself to anyone if doing so means compromising on what I believe to the truth about a point of disagreement. Bad manners on my part, I know. But none of us are perfect.

            This is the second time that you recommend Ramin Mazaheri to me. I followed up on Mazaherie the first time you recommended him. Unfortunately, you may have missed my original reply to you pertaining to him. You can read it HERE.

            The upshot is that in my opinion Mazaheri, despite believing himself to be a socialist, is so deeply wedded to neoliberalism that he doesn’t even recognize his own commitment in this direction.

    • Admin says

      May we ask Norman – as another commenter has already – what do you think should happen in Syria?

      Is upholding international law not appropriate? Does the concept of lesser evil not apply?

      And a follow up. Where did you find the data on Assad’s record of brutality? We have been looking for a good source on this.

      • “May we ask Norman – as another commenter has already – what do you think should happen in Syria?”

        See my reply to the other commenter . . .

        “Is upholding international law not appropriate? Does the concept of lesser evil not apply?”

        International law? Whose ‘international law?’ The ‘international law’ as written by ruling bourgeoisies? Or the ‘international law’ that does not as yet exist, and cannot yet exist, because the currently existing international congress of nations is not a congress of ‘democratic nations,’ but of plundering and murderous elites.

        “Where did you find the data on Assad’s record of brutality? We have been looking for a good source on this.”

        Did I find ‘data,’ or did I come across the disquisitions of scholars who attest to the ‘tyranical’ and ‘repressive’ nature of the Syrian regime? Samir Amin and Raymond Hinnebusch, for example, come to mind. And what about the persoanal testimonies of people like Robin Yassin-Kassab or Yassin al-Haj Saleh, oh, and Joseph Daher?

        But I’m on my way out the door. When I have time, I’ll return with a short bibliography for you, references that should point you into a multiplicity of other directions . . .

        Until later this evening or tomorrow, then.

        • But you do acknowledge that IF this bourgeois international law had been observed by all sides there would currently be no war in Syria, no US/Turkish/Israeli occupation. And many people now dead would be alive?

          International law forbids the prosecution of aggressive war. It may not be perfect but it offers more chance of peace and security than the imperialist free-for-all favoured by the US. Surely this alone is a reason for supporting those who support international law? And right now that is Russia and its allies. Even if they do so for self-interested reasons that still makes them the least worst option.

          Purist notions that refuse to differentiate or recognise nuance have little value beyond academic essays. Sitting back and sadly shaking ones head at human folly may feel good but won’t help save lives. Getting behind the least bad resolution in Syria and supporting demands for renewed respect for the law against aggressive war just might.

          PS – thanks in advance for any links and sources

          • “But you do acknowledge that IF this bourgeois international law had been observed by all sides there would currently be no war in Syria, no US/Turkish/Israeli occupation. And many people now dead would be alive?”

            No. Because as Putin himself acknowledged (see the video in my reply to Bevin starting @ “2 minutes 40 sec” to “2 minutes 55 sec”), given the manner in which the Syrian government resisted the general population’s call for change (read: democratization), the subsequent militarization of that confrontation became inevitable.The responsibility for the ensuing war lies at the feet of Assad and Co.exactly where Putin lays it, as does Amin, Hinnebusch, and many others.

            As for international law: it is a restraint only on those countries that can be brought to heel by greater powers. Those that can’t be defied, will not be defied; and those that can defy, will defy. International law operates in no other fashion. Period.

            “Purist notions that refuse to differentiate or recognise nuance have little value beyond academic essays. ”

            Exactly. Though rational minds will disagree about which stances are to be considered those of academic purists and which are those of realists.

            In my opinion, the academic purists believe that the most powerful elites on the planet can be brought to heel through ceaseless appeals to the categorical imperative of international law; the realist, on the other hand, recognizes the fact of ‘naked institutional force’ behind all of the civilized pretenses of the ruling classes and unmasks it for all to see, so that people may learn to make real distinctions between their real enemies and their real allies, so that one day they may join together and act accordingly.

            Otherwise, through their lack of discrimination, people remain complicit in both their own collective enslavement and, all too often, their own and ultimate destruction.

            (to be followed up with ‘sources’)

            • Putin does not say the subsequent militarisation became inevitable. He says that Assad should have initiated reforms before the protests began. Putin would scarcely say what you attribute to him since he has condemned the illegal foreign invasion of Syria at every turn.

              But regardless of what Putin says, and regardless of whether Assad was or wasn’t a tyrant, the simple fact is that if international law was being observed in Syria there would currently be no foreign invasion and no mercenary armies on Syrian soil, no chemical attacks, no civil war, and thousands now dead would be alive.

              This fact is NOT open to debate.

              • The simple fact is that if you could compel the most powerful nations to abide by international law, sure, a lot of what did and is happening in Syria would not have happened. But you can’t compel the most powerful to behave in ways that they deem run counter to their “national” interests, can you? I mean, regardless of what any international law proscribes or prescribes, right? So . . . your point is what, exactly?

                Now there are a few items that you shoehorn into the fact that is NOT, according to you, open to debate that are in fact debatable.

                For instance, that there would not have been a civil war.

                In fact, getting people to acknowledge the longstanding and ongoing brutality of the Syrian government’s method of governance (i.e., the question of whether or not Assad was or wasn’t a tyrant) is half of the admission that its intransigence in the face of mounting public pressure to reform was precisely the trigger for the civil war. The other half, of course, pertains to whether or not there was anything like either a popular uprising or incipient revolution in 2011.

                Thus I’m of the opinion that there are circumstances pertaining to Syria, which if in reality are also conditioned by the geopolitical context and thus inseparable from it, can nevertheless be, for the sake of clarifying one’s comprehension of the overall ‘situation,’ abstracted from that context.

                There are some things about Syria that pertain only to its ‘national’ context and that carry elements of inevitability or determination of their own.

                Thus the “fact,” as you construe it, is indeed very debatable.

                What if, for instance, Assad had not been a tyrant? What if Syria had transitioned in a more socialist direction since the time of Assad’s ascension to the Syrian presidency in 2000, rather than in the draconian neoliberal direction into which it ended up going, would the civil war have then happened and thereby have created an opening for foreign intervention?

                You raise a hypothetical. I raise another.

                The hypothetical “fact” that you raise and that is NOT debatable is, it turns out, eminently debatable, no?

                • Jen says

                  Had Syria transitioned in a more socialist or social democratic direction after Bashar al Assad became President in 2000, there may still have been a move towards regime change with the result of “civil war” and an “opening” for foreign intervention.

                  If you doubt, you may ask the current Venezuelan President (Nicolas Maduro) or a former Brazilian President (Dilma Rousseff) as to whether their countries’ attempts to move towards becoming socialist or social democratic made them less attractive as targets for regime change.

                  • Actually, yes and no (and good repartee, btw 😉 ).

                    If the general population is with you, it’s a lot harder for you to be overthrown by foreign meddlers.

                    If in doubt, ask the current Venezuelan President, the preceding one, or the guys still hanging on in Cuba.

                    On the other hand, I think Trotsky had it about right when he suggested that socialism in one country wasn’t really something that could happen or be sustained, that is to say, in the long run.

                    That’s why people have to become internationalists in their thinking, to see all of the capitalist ruling classes everywhere as the one and only enemy, and all of the working classes everywhere as the one and only true working class.

                    At the moment, we are a long ways away from that, aren’t we?

                    What with the Russians and Iranians and Americans and Sunnis and Shiites and Canadian French, and Anglo Canadians, and on, and on, ad nauseam.

                    • Admin says

                      A good case can be made for Trotsky being a tool of the west whose main aim was to distract and divide support among the Left for communist Russia. His followers certainly have a history of performing the same function to this day.

                      They propose idealist absolutes that can’t be achieved in the real world and use this to frame inaction into a form of purism from which they feel able to condemn all sides.

                      But inaction always favours those in power. Trotsky effectively paralysed future generations of his adherents from engaging in any meaningful attempts at changing the system – because if you can’t change it completely you might as well not bother.

                      Trotsky, let’s not forget, lived a cosy bourgeois life of plenty before he encountered the ice pick. His plans for worldwide revolution remained reassuringly theoretical, while he took every opportunity to attack Russia in the media – much to western gratification.

                      He subsequently spawned a whole class of political adolescents whom we still have with us today, sulking on the sidelines, dynamically passive, telling everyone doing anything that they’re doing it wrong.

                      Not hard to see who that benefits

                    • I suppose that we can now derail this thread into a discussion of Trotsky’s merits or demerits.

                      I thought I was discussing Syria, in what light to regard the Syrian governement, and whether there had been an uprising in Syria in 2011. For these things bear directly on how one should regard the impending military operations to be visited upon the people in Idlib.

                      “They propose idealist absolutes that can’t be achieved in the real world and use this to frame inaction into a form of purism from which they feel able to condemn all sides.”

                      And what action do you propose? That we get behind the precepts of international law? That we ally with those ‘nations’ insisting that the law be respected, right? In other words, that we permit ourselves to be coopted by those ‘administrations’ into following their lead.

                      And what is their lead? Do they act in the interest of ordinary people, or do they act in the interest of who they are as their own separate and distinct class of rent seeking elites?

                      I contend that the latter is the case, and have provided you with references that I think make the case. And if you accept that case, you will reject the leadership role of those establishments every bit as much as that of the so-called imperialising West.

                    • Admin says

                      Kinda making my point for me aren’t you. But you’re correct, this isn’t the place for a discussion of Trotsky. It was wrong of me to derail. Consider this particular thread closed

                    • “Kinda making my point for me aren’t you.”

                      If I can be of assistance, I’m always glad to help. 😉

                      If I’m slow to reply over the course of the rest of this day, my apologies. Appointments and errands.

                      (And please don’t take my obdurate stance on Syria as being in any way an indictment of Off-G. I love you guys. But you already knew that. (Ooops. And it’s happened again . . . Sorry for derailing the discussion in yet another irrelevant channel.))

                    • Jen says

                      The issue with being “internationalist” in order to oppose the capitalist elite is that in order to appeal to working classes everywhere the concept needs to be all-encompassing in its values and ideology to the point where it either becomes so abstract and idealistic that it means nothing at all and cannot inspire people to action, or it starts to drown in its own contradictions.

                      On the other hand, capitalist ruling classes are already “internationalist” in a negative sense, in that in respecting only their own short-term self-interests, living in the present, they find meaningless and bothersome abstractions such as the notion of a sovereign state with defined borders and territories worth defending by a people with their own collective identity and set of values.

                      Do we want or need to end up like that bunch of “internationalists”?

                      The Russians, the Chinese and others have a point in arguing for a multi-polar world rather than a uni-polar world under the (American-dominated) New World Order, a bi-polar world similar to what existed from 1945 to 1991 or a new bi-polar world in which one set of “internationalists” is pitted against another set of “internationalists” who each define themselves in opposition to the other. Surely living in a multi-polar world where each major collective entity is defined by values and principles unique to it, is preferable to living in a world of two opposed camps that depend on conflict and war to justify their existence.

                      I’d have thought that having a large Francophone community in its midst actually helped define Canadian identity and distance it from the United States psychologically.

                    • “The issue with being “internationalist” in order to oppose the capitalist elite is that in order to appeal to working classes everywhere the concept needs to be all-encompassing in its values and ideology to the point where it either becomes so abstract and idealistic that it means nothing at all and cannot inspire people to action, or it starts to drown in its own contradictions.”

                      I have to disagree.

                      An example, for me, of a meaningless abstract concept is that of “the nation.” There are plenty of others, but lets stay with only this one for the sake of brevity and clarity.

                      For “the nation,” as that expression is commonly used, designates a purportedly homogeneous and unified group, that is to say, homogeneous and unified in socio-political terms.

                      Unfortunately, the truth is that we live in class divided “nations:” there are the property owners and oligarchies, and then there’s the rest of us.

                      But the idea of an international working class refers to a manifestly demonstrable concrete reality: there are people everywhere being oppressed and exploited by what are essentially the same socio-structural imperatives.

                      In other words, the international working class is a reality as “a class in-itself” — to put it in Marxist lingo.

                      The problem is that that class it is unaware of the concrete reality of its own existence. It has yet to become “a class for-itself,” that is to say, that working class schmucks have yet to develop a true internationalist awareness of themselves as belonging to the single and unified group that is continuously targeted for exploitation (and repression) by capital.

                      The ‘international working class’ exists. It is not a figment of the imagination or of categorical thinking.

                      The ‘nation,’ on the other hand, which strikes indoctrinated populations as being a more concrete reality than the “international working class,” is a fiction, the fiction that people need to come to recognize as such if they are ever to free themselves from their bondage to “their” so-called “national elites” and, of course, their divisive “national identities.”

                      (As for being a French Canadian, it is for me personally an “imposed designation.’ I speak French. I’m told that I’m French Canadian. But I don’t “feel” French, whatever that may mean, and I certainly do not identify as “Canadian,” though my passport insists upon it. But I do know a lot of “Canadians,” that is to say, people who, as you put it, distance themselves psychologically from so-called Americans. 😉 )

                      Gotta go . . .

                    • Eric Zuesse says

                      Re. Norm Pilon’s “If the general population is with you, it’s a lot harder for you to be overthrown by foreign meddlers.”:

                      That is stunningly naive. For example, just consider this (and there’s a lot more on similar lines I have in my files):
                      “Most Syrians back President Assad, but you’d never know from western media”
                      Jonathan Steele, 17 January 2012

                      As I’ve shown, Obama entered office in 2009 hoping to overthrow Assad. He put policies in place for that purpose. The CIA has been trying to conquer Syria since 1949. Are you ignorant of this history?

                    • Have you read Raymond Hinnebusch, Eric?

                      How ignorant of the situation in Syria as it has evolved from 1963 to 2011 might you be, Eric?

                    • Oh, and by the way Eric, if after reading all of my comments you still have the impression that I’m just not twigging to the imperialist designs of the U.S. of f***king A as such, it’s obvious to me that you didn’t really read them, except perhaps at a gallop . . .

                      On the other hand, you refer me to something by Jonathan Steele published in ‘The Guardian.’

                      This in itself does not invalidate Steele’s contentions, but you know every bit as well as I do that ‘The Guardian’ is an establishment tool, and that ‘truth,’ every bit as much as outright ‘fabrication,’ can be enlisted in the work of confounding the masses about the ‘intentions’ or ‘designs’ of the Empire, so that what may appear to be the latest in a longstanding series of unbroken and ongoing attempt to ‘conquer’ or ‘overthrow,’ may be a cover for a change in actual strategy, given a change in circumstances, to actually ‘shore up’ so as to break a more worrisome and widespread popular resistance.

                      Question: Given the choice between working with an ostensibly difficult ‘regime’ or completely loosing control over rebelling masses, what in your opinion would the American establishment opt for?

                      Michael Karadjis, however one may applaud or condemn his acute anti-Assad bias, does put forth an intriguing analysis.

                      If I may make so bold, then, in the spirit of our mutual interest in the truth, and nothing but the truth, a thesis that may be worthy of a dispassionate historian’s consideration:

                      The Trump-Putin coalition for Assad lays waste to Syria: Imperial agreement and carve-up behind the noisy rhetoric — Michael Karadjis | Syrian Revolution Commentary and Analysis

                • Admin says

                  The ‘point’ is you claimed ‘bourgeois’ international law had no value. And now you admit that is not true, which is progress.

                  Creating a climate in which the law is applied and respected is perhaps the only hope for preventing future Syrias, Iraqs and Libyas. The fact this is unlikely to be achieved during this time of US empire doesn’t make it less true.

                  Therefore it behooves us all to support those who support international law, since they represent, in most cases, the lesser evil.

                  In this instance, that involves supporting Russia in its bid to end the mercenary occupation of Syria.

                  Putin, whom you (mis) quoted has always distinguished between the foreign invaders and any domestic problems Syria has. He has said repeatedly that first the invasion/occupation needs to end and only then can the domestic issues be dealt with.

                  Presumably you would agree with that?

                  • “The ‘point’ is you claimed ‘bourgeois’ international law had no value. And now you admit that is not true, which is progress.”

                    Question: what is the point of a law that cannot be enforced, or that is always only selectively enforced?

                    “Putin, whom you (mis) quoted has always distinguished between the foreign invaders and any domestic problems Syria has.”

                    Did I mis-quote Putin, or did I, according to you, mis-interpret what he said? You read him one way, I read him another. My point is that the likes of Beeley, Bartlett, Anderson and Gowans deny that Syrians ever had cause to ‘reble’ against the Syrian regime, but here you have Putin strongly suggesting that there was — what? — widespread dissent to which Assad should have accomodated himself rather than ‘react’ as he did. If I am mis-interpreting Putin, you clearly mis-interpret my purports. Against Beeley, Bartlett, Anderson and Gowans, I quote Amin, and then post a video that I claim is consonant with Amin’s contention that in 2011 there was widespread Syrian discontent that errupted into something like, if not outright, rebellion.

                    • Admin says

                      Are you seriously asking what the point is of a law that is not 100% enforceable?

                      The point is to enforce it as much as possible! And one way to do that is to support those who are trying to enforce it. Which is why we should give informed approval to Russia in Syria.

                      Regarding Assad. OffG has never offered unqualified endorsement. What we do insist on, however, is that claims of his brutality are properly sourced.

                      Given that he’s currently in the cross hairs of the empire and we are inundated with propaganda aimed at making him seem monstrous, you will agree it’s essential we filter this propaganda and deal only with solidly sourced data, no?

                    • “Given that he’s currently in the cross hairs of the empire and we are inundated with propaganda aimed at making him seem monstrous, you will agree it’s essential we filter this propaganda and deal only with solidly sourced data, no?”

                      Filter away, as you see fit. I’m interested in the truth. Is the Syrian regime anti-imperialist? Yes or no? Is it socialist? Yes or no? Does it mis-treat its captive populaltion? Yes or no? Did the people os Syria rise up in righteous anger in 2011? Yes or no? Did the Syrian regime meet that anger with brutality? Yes or no?

                      As for solidly sourced material, am I not sourcing my claims? Amin? Hinnebusch? To name only two sources that in my estimation are by far and away more solid than Beeley, Bartlett, Anderson or Gowans.

                      Of course, we are in complete agreement that here, under Western rule, as Pinter put it, we are surrounded by a tapestry of lies upon which we feed. We are right to expose these lies. But does that mean that we should then delude ourselves about the nature of the government of Syria, which is every bit as much intent upon spinning its own tapestry of lies and oppressing and exploiting ordinary people.

                      The truth. That’s what I’m interested in. The same thing, apparently, that you are also interested in. I’m certainly not interested in being partisan in a confrontation between, yes, monsters.

                    • “Regarding Assad. OffG has never offered unqualified endorsement. What we do insist on, however, is that claims of his brutality are properly sourced.”

                      Two paragraphs, attesting to the brutality and repressive nature of the Syrian government, properly sourced:

                      Quote begins:

                      The regime’s initial response to the revolt was to mix massive repression with traditional attempts at appeasement and cooptation: giving pay increases to public employees, ceasing to enforce regulations, granting privileges to tribal, religious or communal notables. Promises of limited political reform remained largely on paper: for example, the regime ended the emergency law but allowed the security forces to continue to use violence with impunity.27 Concessions to the Kurds over citizenship and identity, together with links to Iraqi Kurdish leaders and Turkey’s opposition to Asad, kept the Kurds ambivalent. But the regime refused to concede democratization as a legitimate way out of the crisis or to accept the opposition as a legitimate partner; instead, it continued with its unilateral top-down constitutional changes, which won it little credit.

                      Although at first the regime did restrain the amount of violence it used against protesters, the uprising empowered hard-liners such as Maher al-Asad and many of the retired security barons, such as Ali Duba, who returned to power. Their belief that any tolerance of dissent would encourage more, and that sufficient repression could defeat it, as it had in the 1980s, was reflected in an increasing over-reaction. Operations against small towns and suburbs were intended to deter the spread of the uprising to the main cities and to prevent a Libya-like scenario where parts of the country fell into opposition hands, providing an opening for foreign intervention. However, killings only inflamed the opposition, as relatives and friends were alienated and funerals became the occasion for further protests. In contrast to the 1980s, the availability of mobile phones with cameras, the internet and satellite TV rapidly made known the use of violence against unarmed protesters, costing the regime its legitimacy and escalating demands for its overthrow.

                      Quote ends.

                      Source: Syria: from ‘authoritarian upgrading’ to revolution? — Raymond Hinnebusch (11/01/2012) | International Affairs

                    • Admin says

                      This article is troubling. It itemises the government efforts at concession but NOT the instances of brutality. When it addresses them it suddenly becomes non-specific and allusive.

                      How many funerals? How were the people killed? By whom? Is this known or disputed? Do we have film of violent police repression? Data for number of arrests/disappearances/killings?

                      We have been trying to get details on questions like these for some time, but the sources rarely if ever seem to provide any, which is very frustrating.

                      Given the enormity of the propaganda assault on Assad we do need hard data before buying the narrative, don’t we? And this kind of vagueness should make us wary. It’s reminiscent of the claims made about the Maidan and alleged police brutality, which have been shown to be in many cases reversals of reality.

                      Not saying Assad was not repressive, just noting the difficulty in finding solid data to show he was. If he was, it must be provable, no?

                    • How do we know anything at all to be “true” when what we have to rely on are “claims” or “counter-claims” being made (in print or other media) by anyone, eh? How can we believe our own first hand perceptions when we know that they often lead us astray?

                      You can always doubt whatever it is you find is”troubling” to you, no matter how vague or specific the claims may be.

                      That’s just the nature of “things alleged” by others, let alone the difficulty of sorting out for yourself “events” or “circumstances” to which you yourself are a firsthand witness.

                      You say that these claims are “reminiscent of the claims made about the Maidan and alleged police brutality, which have been “shown to be in many cases reversals of reality.”

                      Okay, according to you, the claims about the Maidan massacre and alleged police brutality were “shown to be in many cases reversals of reality.”

                      That’s a pretty vague claim, right there, isn’t it: “shown to be in many cases reversals of reality.”

                      Can you be more specific? Why weren’t you more specific in the first place? Why the utterly vague and non-specific “shown to be in many cases?”

                      And even when doctors, who claim to have had a firsthand look at the wounds of those who were shot on the Maidan, and attest that all of the wounds examined suggest a single caliber, possibly even the same weapon, and, therefore, by implication that “. . . the Maidan massacre of the protesters was a false flag operation . . .”, why should I believe them?

                      I haven’t been able to “see” the original pathology reports.

                      And even if I had had access to those original reports, how do I know that those reports are faithful to the facts, to what the medical examiners actually saw and found?

                      I mean, it’s not as if the conclusions of medical examiners, of pathologists, haven’t ” been shown to be in many cases reversals of reality.”

                      So why would anyone accept that the many “cases” to which you only vaguely refer have in fact shown anything at all to be reversals of reality?

                      Hinnebusch is a scholar. He has a track record. His specialty is the Middle East. If you read the piece to which I have linked, you will find references. Even Prof. Tim Hayward, who defends the purported legitimacy of the Assad government, quotes Hinnebusch on behalf of his own position, raising absolutely no concerns whatever about either Hinnebusch’s integrity or the substance of the piece to which I have provided a link and from which Hayward approvingly quotes.

                      But Hinnebusch’s claims are “troubling.” So lets dismiss them out of hand. Despite another scholar like Amin, whose specialty is also the Middle East, making the same sorts of vague claims about a Syrian government that has a well-established track record of brutality and oppression.

                      But what about the personal testimony of Yassin al-Haj Saleh? Would that, too, be too troubling on account of its vagueness and non-specificity? Google “Revolution, counterrevolution, and imperialism in Syria: Interview with Yassin al-Haj Saleh — Ashley Smith (October 2017)|International Socialist Review” for his vague and non-specific allegations.

                    • Admin says

                      Calm down. there’s really no need to get hysterical and defensive about the impossibility of ultimate proof. I’m not asking for ultimate proof – just a few details and sources.

                      Do you not notice he provides absolutely none?

                      If this brutality is real there will be more than Person X’s ‘testimony’. There will be names of the dead or missing, dates, video footage, blood in the streets. Hard evidence of the kind we saw at the Maidan or in Odessa or wherever real atrocity and oppression occurs.

                      Perhaps he provides this in other work?

                    • Am I hysterical? Am I defensive about the impossibility of ultimate proof?

                      Or am I not, rather, holding up a mirror for you to observe your own rhetorical strategy in action?

                      You had no trouble adducing a vaguely stated claim as ‘evidence’ that the Maidan massacres were the result of a false flag operation. Why? Because you knew that I was more or less already familiar with the file, so to speak, and between us, no more was needed as a statement of “fact.” A word to the wise, eh, that being all that is required for people who already know.

                      In a like manner, Hinnebusch’s piece provides more than sufficient details to anyone who doesn’t live under a rock to prove the historical and presently repressive nature of the government of Syria, and at precisely the same level of generality that you are more than happy to embrace when he ‘itemizes’ the Syrain government’s efforts at conciliation. In those instances, you grant him high marks, and Hinnebusch becomes a credible witness. But why? Is it really that his piece is uneven in the specificity and evidentiary ground of its claims? Or is it rather not a matter of what you like and don’t like about the implications of purported statements of fact? Probably it’s the latter, eh? The statements you like are specific and incontrovertible and sufficiently accounted for; the statements you don’t like, however, fail to meet a more rigorous if vaguely stated standard of proof.

                      You write:

                      “If this brutality is real there will be more than Person X’s ‘testimony’. There will be names of the dead or missing, dates, video footage, blood in the streets. “

                      Right. So the names of the dead or missing, specifically those who are murdered and disappeared by criminal regimes are always provided by – whom? – the very regimes who murder and disappear the victims? But what if, like Tommy Frank put it, they “don’t do body counts?” What if testimony of the crimes is provided only by the victims, but the victims are labelled members of the “opposition,” or even worse, supporters of Al Qaeda and/or ISIS? Does their testimony then count? If you want videos that claim abuses, you can find plenty on the internet. But are they “staged?” Is the content really what the posters of the videos allege they are? Maybe they are propaganda videos? And maybe they are! However shall we sort our way through it all, eh? For every “fact” adduced, there is a “counter-fact.”

                      For some reason, but probably because it’s fresh in my mind, I’m reminded of this exchange related by Harold Pinter:

                      Quote begins

                      I was a member of a delegation speaking on behalf of Nicaragua but the most important member of this delegation was a Father John Metcalf. The leader of the US body was Raymond Seitz (then number two to the ambassador, later ambassador himself). Father Metcalf said: ‘Sir, I am in charge of a parish in the north of Nicaragua. My parishioners built a school, a health centre, a cultural centre. We have lived in peace. A few months ago a Contra force attacked the parish. They destroyed everything: the school, the health centre, the cultural centre. They raped nurses and teachers, slaughtered doctors, in the most brutal manner. They behaved like savages. Please demand that the US government withdraw its support from this shocking terrorist activity.’

                      Raymond Seitz had a very good reputation as a rational, responsible and highly sophisticated man. He was greatly respected in diplomatic circles. He listened, paused and then spoke with some gravity. ‘Father,’ he said, ‘let me tell you something. In war, innocent people always suffer.’ There was a frozen silence. We stared at him. He did not flinch.

                      Innocent people, indeed, always suffer.

                      Finally somebody said: ‘But in this case “innocent people” were the victims of a gruesome atrocity subsidised by your government, one among many. If Congress allows the Contras more money further atrocities of this kind will take place. Is this not the case? Is your government not therefore guilty of supporting acts of murder and destruction upon the citizens of a sovereign state?’

                      Seitz was imperturbable. ‘I don’t agree that the facts as presented support your assertions,’ he said.

                      Quote ends.

                      “I don’t agree that the facts as presented support your assertions.”

                      And that, in a nutshell, is the crux of the problem, isn’t it?

                    • Admin says

                      Please stop the confrontational attitude. I’m not disagreeing with you. I’m not claiming there was no repression in Syria. I’m just asking how much data there is. This is a serious question. I’m not pretending I don’t know as you very oddly seem to assume.

                      In contrast to the Maidan where a civilian death toll is well documented, it’s hard to find the same solid info for Syria. How much of a peaceful uprising was there? How many unarmed civilians are documented to have been injured/killed? How many people were under political arrest prior to the protests? How many were disappeared or otherwise badly treated?

                      Do you know? If you don’t can you just say so please?

                    • Admin says

                      There’s no solid data there. Not even a link to official casualty estimates from a source as reliably pro-imperialist as Amnesty, let alone anything impartial.

                      Did the alleged deaths occur due to brutal repression of unarmed civilians or during conflict between police/security forces and armed rebels? How many police were killed, if any? And, crucially, what was Assad’s record of repression like before the conflict began?

                      We need to ask these questions because Syria has been subjected to the same regime change plan inflicted on Ukraine, and in the latter case we know how an initially peaceful protest was deliberately infiltrated in order to create a climate of violence, and how that violence was then used to demonise the government.

                      In this regard, I do notice even these very hostile commenters acknowledge that efforts at conciliation were initially made by Assad’s government. They also refer to claims that armed groups were trying to up the ante and attack both sides in order to escalate tensions. This is very reminiscent of the whole Ukraine/Yanukovych story, in which his actually pretty moderate attempts to curb the violence were completely misrepresented in the media, and in which NATO-sponsored cells were almost certainly involved in shooting at protesters and police in order to increase tensions. It makes me wonder if there may be a similar story of misrepresentation in Syria?

                      Before you kick off again, I’m not saying Assad was definitely innocent or demanding impossibly esoteric levels of proof, I’m just asking for the same level of data I’ve seen for the Maidan. Without which the claims of Assad’s brutality can’t be evaluated.

                    • “There’s no solid data there.”

                      Why am I not surprised at your ‘reaction.’

                      As I wrote to you last night, pertaining to your reaction to Hinnebusch’s piece:

                      Quote begins:

                      You write: “Please stop the confrontational attitude”

                      In what possible sense am I being “confrontational?”

                      You dismissed a reference I made as providing insufficient grounds for establishing the repressive nature of the Syrian government.

                      I disagreed with your assessment, and “explained” my disagreement.

                      Apparently, my “explanation” was a full-on display of hysteria. Your reading, not mine.

                      So I also disagreed with that assessment and stated my disagreement, and then concluded my reply by expressing the sentiment that I believe you are strongly committed to a point of view, regardless of what the actual facts of the matter may be.

                      On the latter score, I may be wrong, and, therefore, retract that judgement.

                      Nevertheless, it simply remains beyond me how anyone can read Hinnebusch and not come to the forceful realization that the Syrian government is seriously misrepresented by the claims that it is socialist, anti-imperialist, popular, and anything but repressive.

                      But you want evidence of repression.

                      Of course, that evidence cannot but be sourced from among the purported victims of the Syrian government, which ipso facto situates them among the ‘opposition,’ and thus at a geopolitical level of analysis, as being, by default, proxies of the Imperializing West, and, therefore, on account of that presumed alignment — a guilt by association, really — unreliable witnesses.

                      Nevertheless, in spite of that inescapable and prejudicial prejudgment, if a list of purported specifics is what you want, a perusal of only Joseph Daher’s website provides an abundance of evidence of the repressive — nay, the murderous — overreaction of the Syrian government in the face of popular explosions of dissent.

                      A handful of items, then, to which you can add your own by further perusing Daher’s site, and by possibly even getting in touch with him:

                      Quote ends.

                      I then referenced you to a list of items posted in articles written by Daher.

                      Apparently, “Joseph Daher completed a PhD in Development Studies at SOAS, University of London (2015), and a PhD in Political Science at Lausanne University (2018), Switzerland. He currently teaches at Lausanne University. ” May I propose, then, that you get directly in touch with him about the apparent fact that his claims appear to be unsubstantiated. Presumably, he will either blush with shame and promise never again to make such unsubstantiated claims about the goings on in Syria or he will address your concerns. Do let me know how he responds to your concerns and queries (you have me email address). From what I can tell, the man is very approachable and will not “go off on you” in the manner that I have.

                    • Admin says

                      Look, Norman, I have no idea if this man can substantiate his claims or not, all I know is YOU haven’t produced any such substantiation.

                      To repeat, given the level of propaganda directed against Assad we need to be sure this narrative isn’t as skewed and dishonest as the one that depicts Yanukovych as a tyrannical monster when he was no such thing.

                      To which end we need to know a few things, viz – How objective is this source? Do other sources say different? How well documented are the deaths? Were they provably killed by govt forces? Were they peaceful protesters or armed insurgents? Syrians or foreigners?

                      If your source answers these points, why not just post those answers here, minus all the rather laboured attitudinising that really doesn’t help and feels mildly offensive.

                    • “Look, Norman, I have no idea if this man can substantiate his claims or not, all I know is YOU haven’t produced any such substantiation.”

                      Oh, but I have, see. I’ve provided plenty of substantiation. You just keep pushing it away and dismissing it out of hand.

                      You raise pertinent question. But they are YOUR questions, NOT mine. I’ve already done my homework and have established to my satisfaction that Daher is a solid source of information.

                      YOU claim his work is without substance. Prove to us that Daher is not to be trusted. Show us a pattern of errors or lies in his claims and analyses, that is to say, to substantiate YOUR claim that “there’s no solid data” in his work.

                      I say his work is solid. And I provided you with corroborating statements by two other Middle East scholars.

                      Is Amin solid? Yes. Is Hinnebusch solid. Yes.

                      On Syria, in both geopolitical and national terms, both of those scholars offer what is a substantially identical assessment. Furthermore, their geopolitical analysis is identical to your own. But there is this difference: they claim the Syrian regime to be odiously repressive, and that ordinary Syrians did rise up all on their own, in reaction to both intolerable living conditions and the odious repression.

                      What about Daher’s assessment? It’s substantially the same. So if these three independent researchers, all of whom are scholars, are saying essentially the same thing about Syria, why would I distrust Daher while trusting the other two?

                      All of their claims and analylses overlap and are substantive corroborations of one another.

                      You doubt their claims. Why? Because ALL claims can be doubted? Or because you have found errors or outright elements of deceit in their claims? So which is it? You haven’t yet demonstrated the latter. So it must be the former, rigtht? Or am I being hysterical once again?

                    • Admin says

                      You acknowledge I raise pertinent questions, acknowledge you don’t know the answers – but for some reason you don’t want to find out. You trust this author to tell you the truth and feel no need to fact check.

                      Ok. That’s your call. But under these circumstances you can’t expect others to pretend you’ve proved a case when you haven’t.

                      Once again, I don’t claim this guy’s version is wrong, wholly or in part. Just because Assad is a victim of western propaganda doesn’t make him automatically Snow White. But I do expect the allegations to be detailed and to answer those ‘pertinent’ questions. You acknowledge they don’t. The discussion stalls here.

                    • “You acknowledge I raise pertinent questions, acknowledge you don’t know the answers – but for some reason you don’t want to find out. ”

                      Your doubts about Daher, Amin and Hinnebusch are not my doubts.

                      They are YOUR doubts.

                      I can’t resolve YOUR doubts for you.

                      That’s something for YOU to do.

                      You raise pertinent questions, but from my perspective, if I take on YOUR questions as my OWN questions, they are adequately resolved, see.

                      When you say that I acknowledge that I don’t know the answers to your questions, you are projecting your own lack of answers onto me. I acknowledge no such thing. That should be clear from everything that I’ve written.

                      Establishing Daher’s credibility in your own mind is your problem. That isn’t anything that I can do for you. He’s already credible in mine.

                      And as you yourself have acknowledge, maybe Daher is a reliable witness.

                      You have questions about his claims, and that is as it should be. You can address your questions directly to him, no? Or alternatively, you can familiarize yourself with his work, familiarize yourself with Amin’s and Hinnebusch’s work, also, and compare and contrast their works against each other as well as against other corpuses with which you are already familiar.

                      Only then, I’d say, would you be in a position to “judge” whether or not “there is any evidentiary data” in Daher’s, Amin’s, or Hinnebusch’s work.

                      Oh, I know, a lot of work and a lot of time.

                      But there it is: either you get off your ass and make the effort, or you can take the easy and lazy way out, recognize that in any case, there isn’t a claim under the sun that anyone can make that isn’t in some respect doubtful, and just let, as you put it, the discussion stall right here.

                      By the way, did you ever get a chance to read this?

                      Revolution and Counter Revolution in Syria

                      I highly recommend it. You really ought to make an effort and have a go of it.

                    • Admin says

                      This author says categorically

                      1) the West is NOT pursuing regime change in Syria

                      2) the West is trying to defeat ISIS.

                      The first is disavowed by the US regime’s numerous avowals that Assad must go, and prosecution of a war that almost destroyed him, the second by their documented support for ISIS.

                      This author is bending the truth and maybe even outright lying, presumably to push an agenda. He’s not a reliable source.

                    • Did you even read the article?

                      Daher clearly states HIS reasons as to why HE believes ‘regime change’ is not what the U.S. was after:

                      At the beginning of the uprising in March 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton characterized Assad as a “reformer” and added that many members of Congress who have gone to Syria in recent months also believed that he’s a reformer.

                      The absence of any kind of organized and decisive military assistance from the US or Western states to the democratic components of the Free Syrian Army are further proof of this lack of will for any radical change in Syria. In addition, the United States has also opposed the supply of anti-aircraft missiles to various FSA forces.

                      In 2014, Barack Obama’s $500 million plan (which was approved by Congress) to arm and equip 5,000-10,000 Syrian rebels, was never implemented and not aimed at overthrowing the Assad regime. The text of the resolution makes that clear.

                      In October 2015, even Senator Lindsey Graham challenged Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair General Joseph Dunford on the US strategy in Syria. He asked about the possibility of overthrowing Assad, saying, “this is a half-assed strategy at best”. On December 15, 2015, Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters in the Russian capital after meeting President Vladimir Putin: “The United States and our partners are not seeking so-called regime change.”

                      If Daher is lying, then none or most of the reasons, that is to say, the data points, he adduces for his belief are “fabrications” or “distortions.”

                      Now you go through the four paragraphs adducing his “evidence” as the grounds for believing what he does, and SHOW me where there IS either FABRICATION or DISTORTION, that some or none of what he claims to have been the case was never the case, and, therefore, that he has no grounds to INTERPRET those “facts” as he does.

                      I must say that I’m more than just a bit disillusioned with the quality of the intellectual acumen — or rather, the almost complete absence of it — that you are bringing to bear on this conversation.

                      How sad that you apparently can’t distinguish between a series of adduced “facts” and the need for “interpreting” them theoretically, that you apparently don’t understand that a series or array of adduced “facts” must be “interpreted” so as to be invested with “meaning.”

                      So according to you, now, when someone holds to a different “interpretation” of the significance of uncontroversial data points, the person is “lying” or “pushing an agenda.”

                      Okay, let’s go with that. Do tell: what “agenda” is Daher pushing?

                    • Admin says

                      This is too weird, Norman. Let’s call it a day

                    • Yes, well, I can see the weirdness in my reply, to which you allude. I know what I wanted to say, but it came out all garbled. Oh well, if you haven’t slept and English isn’t your mother tongue, it sometimes gets away from you.

                      My point is that you claim Daher is lying or has an agenda. But the “facts” he adduces for his belief that the U.S. never really intended to topple Assad are solid (see the four paragraphs I quote). So if there is a difference between you and him, it’s in your interpretation of those facts, about what one may infer from those facts about the intents of the U.S. as pertains to their actual interventions in Syria.

                      I hope this dispels the weirdness in my former reply.

                    • For people who only understand English, Raymond Hinnebusch’s short presentation in the featured and first video begins at the 3 minute mark and ends at the 24 minute and 20 second mark. The second related video is in English only. Also highly pertinent to all of this content, you might actually want to read what to my mind is a highly informative piece of analysis by Hinnebusch, titled, “Syria: from ‘authoritarian upgrading’ to revolution?,” and to which I’ve already provided a link (multiple times, I think).

                    • Just so other readers can go and judge for themselves, while keeping in mind that Joseph Daher, PhD, is a Syrian expat and thus presumably sources his information through a network of contacts in Syria, some items of interest from only a handful of articles he wrote and posted on his blog (for ease of posting, I’m providing no links, but instead provide the title and date of the of Daher’s post in which the item of interest appears, so that people can go and read the articles themselves):


                      On Tuesday 22nd of February, 14 people were also arrested and several people beaten by uniformed and plainclothes police after about 200 staged a peaceful sit-in outside the Libyan embassy to show support for Libya’s protesters.

                      Civil rights campaigners have suffered intimidation tactics these past few weeks, including visits from agents of the intelligence services and close monitoring of internet and telephone conversations. Some activists have been warned not to leave the country. These repressive measures are of course familiar from the old regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, when faced with mass popular revolt, and elsewhere in the Arab region.

                      Source: “Syria protests: breaking the wall of fear!” posted: May 20, 2012 (an article originally published elsewhere on March 18 2011) Website: Syria Freedom Forever – سوريا الحرية للأبد


                      The uprisings were triggered by the arrest of 15 children in Deraa, who were writing freedom slogans on school walls inspired by the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt.

                      The regime promised, through the voice of presidential adviser Bouthaina Shaaban, political reforms and the end of the state of emergency, but without fixing a date. It was a clear attempt to placate protesters.

                      [. . .]

                      According to Amnesty International at least 93 people had been arrested this month, some for their online activities, in the cities of Damascus, Aleppo, Banias, Daraa, Hama, Homs, and others. More than 100 people have been shot dead by security forces since the beginning of the movement of protests in Syria ten days ago.

                      [. . .]

                      In the northern city of Latakia, Syria deployed military forces on Sunday, after popular protests erupted against the regime demanding more freedom and reforms. The repression by security forces and the police left at least 12 people dead and more than 150 injured amid calls for reform and freedom.

                      [. . .]

                      The demonstrators have been very successful in spreading information and videos of protests on the internet. The cutting of telephone networks in Deraa was unable to prevent the demonstrators to use those of Jordan, not far away.

                      Source: “Syria: the people will not step down” posted: May 20, 2012 (an article originally published elsewhere on March 28 2011) Website: Syria Freedom Forever – سوريا الحرية للأبد


                      Syrian security forces have killed at least 27 demonstrators in the southern city of Daraa, amid fresh protests against the rule of Bashar al-Assad, while human rights group stated around 37 protesters were killed across the country on Friday alone. Security forces also prevented ambulances from reaching the wounded, and shot at protesters who tried to help. The announcement of the deaths of protesters radicalized the movement of protest throughout the country, noticeable by the slogans which progressively changed during the days from demands for freedom to the people wants to overthrow the regime. Amnesty International has reported 171 deaths since the beginning of the protests.

                      [. . .]

                      During the weekend clashes continued between protesters and security forces or thugs from the regime in different towns such as in the town of Banias, which is on strike now, where several people were killed and the army has been deployed around and in the city. On Tuesday 11th of April, the Syrian security forces attacked the villages of al-Bayda and Beit Janed close to Banias, targeting especially young men and activists. According to different sources, several soldiers were shot dead by security forces or officers after refusing to open fire in demonstrators in Banias.

                      A student demonstration also happened today Monday 11th of April in Damascus University of Sciences. The demonstration turned violent when security forces beat up and arrested several protesters who were shouting for freedom and unity.
                      These events follow last week killing of 8 protesters in a crackdown by Syrian security forces in the town of Douma, a suburb north of Damascus. Thousands of protesters poured into the streets for the massive funeral.

                      [. . .]

                      A video was also released last week of a lawmaker from the region of Deraa, called Youssef Abou Roumiyé, issuing in parliament a scathing indictment against security forces, accusing them of opening fire without mercy and criticizing the head of state for not offering his condolences. He also accused the security forces to prevent injured protesters to be transported to hospitals. This video dated from the 27th of March, before the speech of the President.

                      [. . .]

                      The Syrian President also announced the creation of investigative committees to look into the deaths of protesters, including the 1962 census in east Syria, which resulted in around 300 000 Kurds being denied nationality.

                      Source: “Syria, the popular Intifada!” posted: May 20, 2012 (an article originally published elsewhere on April 13 2011) Website: Syria Freedom Forever – سوريا الحرية للأبد

                      Item(s): April 21 2011

                      At the same time, the security forces and thugs of the regime continued their repression against protesters in different areas. On Tuesday, the interior minister issued a stern warning to protesters to back down or face the consequences. The security forces have also arrested leftist opposition figure Mahmuod Issa in Homs, while more detentions followed protests in different universities such as in Aleppo and Damascus.

                      [. . .]

                      Since March 18, an estimated two hundred civilians have been killed and thousands wounded, while more than a thousand protesters have been arrested. The only violence to condemn is from the regime and its security forces, as well as “shabiha”, thugs, who killed many protesters. On Sunday night, security forces killed 25 protesters and wounded more than 50 in the cities of Homs and Tasbieh, while in Latakia 11 protesters were killed on the same day. On Monday, around 50 000 protesters demonstrated in Homs following the funerals of the martyrs. In the evening protesters started to raise some tents in the al Saa Square. They said they had renamed the Square ‘Tahrir Square’, a reference to the focal point of the uprising in Egypt. But after midnight, security forces had opened fire on protesters, killing a minimum of five people and wounding many more. Homs was shut down by the army, with three rings of checkpoints surrounding the city. Like in other towns following demonstrations, many injured people were forbidden or prevented to go to hospitals to be treated.

                      Source: “Syria: The revolution will go on” posted: May 20, 2012 (an article originally published elsewhere on April 21 2011) Website: Syria Freedom Forever – سوريا الحرية للأبد


                      The popular uprising in Syria has entered its 10th week, despite the harsh repression against the protesters and their relatives. More than 1000 civilians’ deaths have occurred according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights based in London, while more than 9000 people have been arrested and detained over the past weeks.

                      Source: “Syria : the permanent popular uprising!” posted: May 20, 2012 (date of the article originally published elsewhere uncertain) Website: Syria Freedom Forever – سوريا الحرية للأبد


                      The Syrian uprising has exceeded 100 days. Despite harsh repression, the protest movement is continuing and increasing. Since 15 March more than 1,500 civilians have been killed, including around 70 children, and about 10,000 people arrested, according to Syrian human rights groups.

                      [. . .]

                      Demonstrations are still being repressed by security forces, thugs of the regime and a section of the army, despite various declarations of the regime that they will not shoot on protesters if they demonstrate peacefully.

                      In Jisr al-Shughour and other towns such as Homs, military forces used helicopters and tanks to shoot at protesters. Some 15,000 troops and 40 tanks have reportedly been deployed to the city and surrounding region.

                      The protest movement is nevertheless growing, with demonstrations nearly on a daily basis in various cities in Syria, while on the “Friday of Tribes”, 10 June, protests were reportedly held in 138 cities and towns across the country. Similar demonstrations happened on Friday 17 and Friday 24 June.
                      On Thursday 23 June a successful general strike marked 100 days of the revolution and was upheld in the governorates of Homs, Hama, Deraa, markets of Deir Zor, the city of Lattakia Banyas, Douma and the majority of Rif Damascus. Universities, especially in Damascus and Aleppo, have witnessed demonstrations from students against the regime.

                      [. . .]

                      President Assad acknowledged that a certain segment of the protest movement might have some legitimate demands and wished to participate in democracy, but claimed immediately after this short statement that as many as 64,000 “outlaws” are leading the havoc in Syria and that, alongside this “army” of criminals, the uprising in Syria is also being stirred by radical and blasphemous intellectuals, trying to infiltrate into Syria wreaking havoc in the name of religion.

                      The Syrian media, all controlled by the State directly or indirectly, have been portraying all protesters as terrorists controlled by foreign powers.

                      [. . .]

                      The regime is using sectarian issues to scare one community against the other and divide people. It built the army according to sectarian criteria to maintain loyalty. While the majority of the conscript soldiers are Sunni according to their population share, the officers’ corps is predominately Allawi and fidels of Assad’s family.

                      The sieges and military intervention against the rebellious towns were nearly all by the 4th brigade led by Maher al Assad and special units in which most of the soldiers are Allawi. President Assad does not dare to use normal soldiers as he fears mutinies. There have only been some individual defections so far.

                      Source: “Syria: One hundred days of struggle!” posted: May 20, 2012 (an article originally published elsewhere on June 25 2011) Website: Syria Freedom Forever – سوريا الحرية للأبد


                      It has been five months since the Syrian uprising began. Despite harsh repression, the movement is growing, and Syrians are now organising inside and outside of the country.

                      According to Syrian human rights groups, nearly 2,000 civilians have been killed, over 3,000 disappeared and 12,000 arrested. The army offensive on various towns continues, despite Bashar al-Assad’s announcement that all military and police operations against protesters in Syria have stopped.

                      Security forces continue their assaults on the eastern city of Deir ez-Zor and in areas of the coastal city of Latakia, despite state media reports of troop withdrawals. Meanwhile, security forces in Damascus raided different neighbourhoods and arrested many activists. Nine protesters were killed and dozens injured in Homs, while security forces also opened fire in Aleppo and Hama.

                      For nearly a week, Latakia has suffered several casualties from the army offensive against the city. Last Sunday at least 26 people, including two Palestinians from al-Ramel refugee camp, have been killed and many others injured after Syrian warships and tanks opened fire. Three gunboats also took part in the offensive against the port city.

                      The offensive on Latakia began on Saturday, when tanks and armoured personnel carriers rolled into al-Ramel amid intense gunfire. Five people were reportedly killed. The refugee camp was targeted because, according to the security services, refugees were participating in protests against the regime. Palestinians in various refugee camps in Syria are joining the movement in increasing numbers. Many Palestinian families from al-Ramel fled due to shelling.

                      [. . .]

                      Last Friday, during protests called “we will not kneel except to God” at least 17 people were killed. In the first week of Ramadan, the army launched an attack on Hama, causing the death of more than 300 civilians in five days, reminding every Syrian of the massacre in 1982 when 20-40,000 people were crushed in the same city by the forces of the regime.

                      At the same time, the regime has announced ‘free and fair elections’ for the end of the year. Despite the attacks and the siege imposed on different cities and neighbourhoods, protesters are still demanding the overthrow of the regime.

                      Source: “Syria and the long road to democracy” posted: May 20, 2012 (an article originally published elsewhere on August 2011) Website: Syria Freedom Forever – سوريا الحرية للأبد


                      After several months of struggle against the Assad regime, the death toll in Syria is now over 2600 people, while the fate of more than 3000 protesters is unknown. 473 protesters were killed during the holy month of Ramadan.

                      Syrian security forces have arrested more than 70,000 people in their crackdown since mid-March and reportedly 15,000 remain in detention. Schools and football stadiums have been transformed into detention and torture centers.

                      Source: “Syria: is this a sectarian conflict?” posted: May 20, 2012 (an article originally published elsewhere on September 2011) Website: Syria Freedom Forever – سوريا الحرية للأبد

                      And so it goes . . .

                      You can, of course, and probably will continue your own browsing of Daher’s website. But you should, by now, begin to get a sense that scholars, like Daher, who have, so to speak, a firsthand familiarity with this litany of details, eventually come to accept the pattern of their reality as a “given,” that the ‘regime,’ in light of this documented evidence, is obviously guilty of having committed heinous and unwarranted acts of repression, that true to its historical form, it was and is repressive in the extreme . . . and, therefore, that Hinnebusch knows all too well of what he writes.

                    • Jen says

                      “Just so other readers can go and judge for themselves, while keeping in mind that Joseph Daher, PhD, is a Syrian expat and thus presumably sources his information through a network of contacts in Syria …”

                      So Norman, you admit you haven’t asked Joseph Daher where he’s sourcing his information from in Syria before pasting a deluge of posts he’s written on the protests in Dar’aa in 2011?

                      A case I think of putting the cart before the horse.

                    • Clearly, Jen, Daher just makes the stuff up as he goes along. Hence the level of detail in his fiction. And if his made up claims just happen to find corroboration in the claims of other independent scholars whose specialty is the Middle East, well that’s because they’re all just making it all up together, or simply getting their information from the wrong sources.

                      Didn’t I mention something or other about how people fixated at a certain level of analysis will tend to discredit sources because of a presumed, albeit entirely spurious, association? I think I did. See one of my replies to Admin not too far back up the thread.

                      But speaking about putting the horse before the cart, what about this: without contacting Daher about his presumed evidence free purports, without following up on his claims, concluding that “[t]here’s no solid data there.” So everyone, let’s all just move along, because there is nothing at all to see here, eh?

                      As for having to ask Daher to substantiate his claims, is it possible that I have read enough – to my satisfaction if not to anyone else’s — from an array of independent but corroborating sources to be able to get a rough measure, if only in my fallible estimation, of the accuracy of his statements, and that I have therefore come to trust him as a solid source of information?

                      Isn’t that how information gathering works? At first you read someone with a bit of skepticism, but eventually if both logic and cross-referencing seem to consistently bear out the person’s claims, the time eventually comes when you “trust” that person as a solid source of information and analyses.

                      Did I put the cart before the horse? No. I read. Some say I read a lot. I read broadly from different sources, from different and even contradictory perspectives. And I compared Daher’s purports with the purports of others I already presumed to be solid, that I had trusted long before ever having read anything by Daher. In other words, I did my homework to my satisfaction. Perhaps you should do your own? Before concluding that “there’s no solid data there?”

                      Is Daher an unreliable or reliable source? That’s for you and you alone to answer, and it will, unfortunately, require some effort on your part. I already know what my answer is.

                • Thomas Peterson says

                  Posting paragraphs of waffle from ‘scholars’ isn’t accepted as evidence by most here, I think.

                  • Jen says

                    I have been trying to find some more information from or about Michael Karadjis of whom Matt the Venezuelan … erm, sorry, I mean Norman P has spoken with some admiration, and I discovered he is truly is a headbanger.

                    Ben Norton, “Michael Karadjis whitewashes Syrian Al-Qaeda as “decent revolutionaries” ”

                    Patrick O’Connor, “Australian pseudo-lefts complicit in US war drive against Syria”

                    Wow, some “scholar” Karadjis turns out to be.

                    • Ooops, I think my reply to you ended up directed at Thomas Peterson.

                      It reads:

                      @ Jen,

                      You discredit yourself, I’m afraid.

                      The two pieces you link to are out and out slanders and mischaracterizations of Karadjis’s purports.

                      But other than to tell you to go and read Karadjis yourself, what can I say, eh?

                    • By they way,

                      In this thread, I referenced one piece by Karadjis, a piece that I think merits some thought. Karadjis makes an interesting argument, backed up by “evidence,” that foreign intervention in Syria, be it from the East or West, isn’t and never was about overthrowing Assad, but about quelling a popular rebellion. That’s the extent of my “esteem” for the man. I don’t hold him in the same regard that I hold Daher, Amin, and Hinnebusch. I’ve read some of his pieces and found some of his observations to be either intriguing and sometimes even on point. I’m not, so to speak, wedded to him.

                    • I’m not going to waste too much of my time defending anything that Karadjis has to say, but let’s make only one comparison between what Norton claims Karadjis is saying and what Karadjis actually is saying:

                      Ben Norton writes:

                      “Karadjis, who has declared that Syrian al-Qaeda shooting down Russian planes would be “a victory for all humanity,” is part of a small yet obsessive crew of so-called leftists who viciously attack anti-war socialists.

                      Source: see the link you provided.

                      Michael Karadjis actually writes, and I quote somewhat at length to contextualize the upshot of Karadjis’ remark:

                      The other main issue often arising in discussion is that of which rebel groups control the various parts of Aleppo now under attack.

                      For many Rojava-Firsters, this is a good excuse to support this counterrevolutionary action: “Oh, but that area is controlled by Nusra, so it’s good that the “democratic” forces are ejecting them” (even if with Russian air power – let me try that: Oh, but Iraq is run by Saddam Hussein, who is an extremely brutal tyrant, so of course we need to fight on the side of the US Blitzkrieg to unseat him, etc etc).

                      A particularly disgusting (and disappointing in the extreme, given the source) example of this was a tweet sent by the head of the leftist/Kurdish-based HDP in Turkey, Selahattin Demirtaş: “Davutoğlu says #Azez won’t fall. Who’s in Azez? Al Nusra and Ahrar ash-Sham. Rapists & people who sell women”.

                      Now the level of outright racism and dehumanisation in this tweet is unbelievable (so ordinary Arabic people don’t live there? Were the babies killed by Russian bombing of the maternity hospital there also rapists?); and of course it is also a lie that either Nusra or Ahrar al-Sham engage in a policy of rape (that would be the Assad regime) or sell women (ISIS), regardless of their other sins. But as we will see, it is also a lie about who is actually in control of Azaz.
                      First, however, I disagree with the premise in any case. It is up to the local peoples to choose their political/military leaderships in revolutionary situations (in the same way as the PYD/YPG is in control of Kurdish regions), and to change them; and even if we dislike some of them, it is not up to an outside force; still less one operating with Russian air support, to forcefully eject them; and the ethnic factor in a military attack cannot be ignored, even if the SDF may theoretically be very good on the multi-ethnic issue.

                      And even in the case of Nusra, a group I detest, it is a new development in left-wing thinking that it is OK to be on the side of an invading imperialist power bombing the country to bits against even a reactionary local militia; in the conditions of this genocide from the sky, if even Nusra got its hands on good anti-aircraft missiles and shot dozens of Russian warplanes out of the sky it would be a victory forall humanity (and anyone wanted to now express outrage, kindly express it to children ripped to bits by Russian bombs in Aleppo).

                      Source: The Kurdish PYD’s alliance with Russia against Free Aleppo: Evidence and analysis of a disaster (I’ve excluded links that appear in the source)

                      So is Karadjis actually advocating for Nusra (or Al Qaeda), “a group I detest,” as Norton would like you to believe, or is he rather not expressing a deeply felt sense of outrage at the slaughter of innocents?

                      Of course, you are entirely at liberty to interpret Karadjis’s message through the misreadings of a Mr. Ben Norton. But then your understanding of Karadjis will most likely be a misunderstanding, and whatever “wow(s)” thereby end up escapeing you will be so much sound really signifying nothing at all.

                  • @ Jen,

                    You discredit yourself, I’m afraid.

                    The two pieces you link to are out and out slanders and mischaracterizations of Karadjis’s purports.

                    But other than to tell you to go and read Karadjis yourself, what can I say, eh?

  4. Portonchok says

    The Empire is crumbling and it’s death throes it’s lashing out in all directions, commiting despicable crimes against humanity. Under-reported is that a couple of weeks ago China and Mongolia joined Russian a huge military exercise, clearly they are collaborating and will do whatever is necessary to swat the Neocon threat. It’s time that far more decent people in the US and here in the UK woke up to what is happening before it’s too late.

    • Portonchok says

      What do you really expect? The BBC is a State-funded broadcaster, just like RT. Both put out their governmental propaganda.
      I watch both, sometimes it is truly comical, especially on RT with their new style animations and creepy music, it’s really appalling propaganda. The BBC does it in a different way but it’s equally effective propaganda.
      Thankfully there are lots of independent British and Russian and other sources and independent journalists where we can get much nearer to the truth!

      • RT was very quick to debunk the timestamp images that Craig Murray and Moon of Alabama called identical, stating that they were from adjacent corridors.
        I agree all major media outlets are full of blatant propaganda. However RT is championing journalists that do have integrity, like Afshan Ratansi and Lee Camp and universally journo and guests are given absolute freedom in what they produce and say. This is not the case in western MSM outlets. So comparing them like for like is unfair and disrespectful to the integrity of RTs honest journalists and the guests they invite to speak.

        • Portonchok says

          The actual shows and documentaries and journalists are good, if not excellent. I’m thinking more of the hourly 00-29 news output in my criticism. The crass frequent propaganda in that news segment impacts the credibility of the excellent work being done by Keiser, Ratansi, Galloway and Lavelle and some others. Having said that, the RT UK evening news is probably the highest quality output of any in the UK.

      • JudyJ says

        Whilst they may not be to everyone’s taste in terms of presentation, surely “animations and creepy music” are not in themselves propaganda. It is the message that they are conveying that needs to be judged as to whether or not it is propaganda. Propaganda (“information of a biased or misleading nature…”) is from my observations far more to the fore, and consciously so, on the BBC than RT. In fact, if anything, RT go to the opposite end of the spectrum in order not to be accused of promoting propaganda. When interviewing people about the Skripal case, for example, I have noticed that Bill Dod (one of their English news presenters) states the UK position as fact to his independent interviewee (without so much as a wink and a nod) and asks them for their thoughts, allowing them to help the viewer to decide for themselves what they wish to believe. Likewise, if reporting on the ‘evidence’ given by HMG, RT reporters maintain their objectivity by avoiding words like ‘allegedly’ or ‘so-called’. For example they will say “Two Russians from the GRU have been identified by the UK Government as responsible for the attack on the Skripals” or “The suspected would-be assassins used the nerve agent Novichok in the attack”. Now from the official Russian point of view there is plenty to be challenged in those statements alone but, as objective news presenters, they refrain from doing so. They will, as you would expect, then normally add “The Russian Government maintains that they had nothing to do with the attack”. Is that really propaganda? I don’t think so. Granted, there are discussion programmes where both points of view are usually expressed but again that is healthy debate, not propaganda.

        Even when RT do present information from the Russian Government’s viewpoint that doesn’t automatically render it ‘propaganda’ as seems to be the interpretation of it by many in the West who refuse to acknowledge that maybe, just maybe, the Russians could be right…God forbid that any of us should ever think that.

        I note that RT have featured over the past couple of days the thoughts of West Virginian Senator Richard Black on the Syrian situation. Crosstalk also had Sami Hamdi (geopolitical risk consultant) as one of the two guests on Friday discussing Syria for half an hour and he patently follows and promotes extremist anti-Assad views. Was that programme evidence of Russian propaganda? Needless to say, Richard Black’s honourable verdict on what is happening in Syria naturally hasn’t warranted any coverage in the UK’s MSM.

        • Portonchok says

          I don’t disagree with much of what you say and as i said the individual shows are often excellent, but the lampoonish animations hark back to the days of Cold War propaganda.

          Also the headlines are often not major stories but rather an opportunity for RT editors to have a dig at the UK or US. It’s often deserved but the placement is inappropriate.

          RT remains one of my info sources but they are going to lose a lot of credibility and fall into the hands of OFCOM again and unnecessarily so.

          Anyway, no state funded media is impartial, at least not in its overall mission, and that’s my main point.

          • No privately owned part of the UK MSM is impartial: it is overwhelmingly neoconservative propaganda funded bt tax avoiding billionaires who often live offshore.

  5. Kaiama says

    Andrew Marr and the Mekon are in full anti Russian mode on the BBC.

    • George says

      So I just noticed. I love the way that Javid so authoritatively announces with calm assurance that it is the Russkies that are doing it.

      • The reason is that he is never required to put up collateral against lies.

        Say this to him: ‘if you knew that putting a bullet through your spine was the consequence for telling anything other than the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, would you wish to modify your statement?’

        These politicians happily make orders/supinely follow such orders to murder millions half way around the world, but kill fifty in London and it is ‘outrage, outrage!’

        But never is the propagandist like Marr required to hold public representatives to meaningful account….

        It is not killing anyone asking this question, it is removing any legal defence for a politician choosing to continuing to lie….

        And with habitual liars/script readers, it is really the only way to put the fear of god into them….

  6. SyrPer analyst Canthama recommends:

    “This is a very good article by the excellent Joaquin Flores. I see him as good as Bernhard of MoonofAlabama on their understanding of broader geopolitics with a laser eye approach in what it really matters. Worth reading it.”

    Canthama also suggests that there is still a chance for diplomacy and dignity to prevail at the UNSC (despite the presence of ambassadors from F UK U$A) because the Syrian ambassador is raising the tone of the debate before the guns begin to fire in earnest:


    “It is always a pleasure to hear Dr. Bashar Al-Jaafari, Syria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, a person who has shown a tremendous sense of dignity and love for his country over the years, and has been a beacon of light inside the rotten UNSC.

    One of Jaafari’s best moments, in the recent meeting at UNSC, was when he said on minute 6:10… “those who facilitated the entry of foreign terrorist fighters into my country, especially the Turkish government, still have a chance to remove them from Idlib province.”

    As a side bonus, watch Nikki “the disgraceful” Haley face when calling Syria’s Jaafari to speak on second 0:18. Priceless.”

  7. Gary Weglarz says

    Just when one thinks this theatre of the absurd can’t get any more, well, absurd – here we go again. I used to think that the West’s global colonial genocide evidenced the very lowest dregs the human psyche is capable of. However, it is hard to argue against or dismiss the complete amorality and psychopathic inhumanity of our current generation of Western leaders, their MSM cheerleaders, and Western publics that simply can’t be bothered to “know” about the murder and mayhem they are party to daily.

  8. Now is the time to consider how we will counter the West’s false claims, when the WH actors are wearing gloves and gas masks, supplied by Avon Protective systems, and the children are actually showing signs of acute Sarin exposure. They might also aim to make some “Women of Idlib” – in WH gear, victims of real Sarin, and victims of their own commanders.
    Since Mattis, oddly, came out and said that “the terrorists don’t have the ability to use nerve gases” on Friday, this whole story looks very probable.
    But perhaps we can’t actually counter the propaganda, given we failed with Douma and Ghouta and Khan Shaikoun; the focus will have to be on supporting Russia and Syria, and attacking other weak points, like the Novichok story. But something might be planned for that too….

  9. JudyJ says

    Saw on the BBC news tonight footage of a “makeshift hospital in Idlib seriously damaged by SAA barrel bombs” And so it begins… “Fortunately nobody was injured”, meaning western intelligence organisations haven’t yet given the signal to role out casualties; they clearly just wanted to warm up gullible Westerners and MSM gently.

  10. Citizens asleep says

    This week, The US military is conducting air-assault drills on Syrian soil.

    News like this, becoming routine and yet … NO mainstream media criticized or challenged these flagrant violations of international laws.
    And no American citizens protested this continued US aggression on foreign soils.

    Let’s hope other armies, the Syrian or Vietnamese army for example, be conducting Military drills on US soil very soon, and the media and US citizens will see nothing wrong with this. Wish them well!

    • JudyJ says

      Seems to be a man of honesty and integrity – rare qualities in positions of authority in the West. Interesting that he specifically – as the Russians have done previously incurring May’s ‘holier than thou’ affronted reaction – names and shames British intelligence as being primarily involved.

    • A Cook you were a Masterchef says

      They don’t give a shit about serial adulterers, in Hillingdon, Nr London apparently, as their MP.

      I think they should be asked asap if that is the case.

      Time to get back to basics i say.

      I’m sure John would agree.

      Not ‘sir john’ but John!

      Oh TMS how you have foresaken Me…Et TU Brute?!

      And the Met Police too. Urrgghh.
      I nearly turned off and missed some great crikit.

      • Really mate, most constituencies around where I live (my MP Nick Hurd, OE MP) weigh the Conservative majority. As long as the MP is shagging adults, not children, sex is not enough to change voting patterns.

        I personally consider rather more weighty matters than the wandering nature of MPs todgers.

        You know, things like:

        1) Views on Brexit;
        2) Views on Western warmongering;
        3) Views on local issues (e.g. Heathrow Runway III)
        4) Views on housing;
        5) Views on eduction;
        6) Views on climate change and green issues;

        Etc etc.

        Do you find that monogamy really affects MP performance? Was Brown better than Major? Clinton more evil than Daddy Bush?

  11. N.ikki Haley, what can one say.

    She delivers her words with the panache of an automotan wind up doll from an agreed scripted agenda.

    Why mainstream media seem to drool over ever utterance is beyond me but there again her audience and her words are not directed towards me but to another group entirely.

  12. Watching United Nations Security Council meetings is highly instructive in that the ambassadors of the United States, United Kingdom, France, Sweden, the Netherlands seem to find nothing bad to say about their paid mercenary terrorist mass-murderers. These ambassadors might come across to the uninformed as having absolutely no clue that murderous terrorists EVEN EXIST!

    Why do they never criticize – or even as much as acknowledge – terrorists? Of course, they are fully aware of the real terrorists in Syria. These ambassadors’ clear hands-off-terrorists stance and total silence is absolute evidence of war crimes guilt.

  13. vexarb says

    Casablanca Moon posted this self explanatory diagram of Russian air cover over Syria and environs. Note the position of Great Britain’s AkroTir military airport from which St.Theresa (supported by JC) threaten to rain the wrath of God on those wicked Russkies and the bloodstained regime of Dr.Bashar Assad, MD. Not shown are the fleet of very big and very expensive U$ AirCraft Carriers and the solitary French ACC which are in the area c,vered by that map — or are they?

  14. vexarb says

    News? That’s just verbal sparring before the big match. Real news starts next week. BTL SyrPer and Saker Vineyard, Idlib finals kick off Mon10th or Tue11th. Probable formations:

    Syrian Army vs ISIS, boots on the ground.

    Russia, air cover to prevent invasion of the pitch (link).

    NATZO, boos and bottle throwing (possible bottles of sarin, chlorine or Novijoke).

    But with a Putin game plan, one can expect to see some skilful play and an exciting surprise.

    • Vava voom. says

      The offensive has started on schedule. 6 hours in, at 1.30 GMT. No NATO response yet. I’m having a pleasant nightcap. Hope there is a tomorrow.

      • Yarkob says

        the NATO response is to ban all official state syrian channels from youtube this morning. i expect PressTV and any other iranian channels will be next. false flag incoming in time for breakfast news tomorrow, or for the numbers lovers, the 11thon tuesday

    • jonny says

      Here’s a thought, how convenient would it be if the staged gas attack is done with ‘eau de novichok?’ The opcw will come out and say (and rightly so) that the samples are identical to the Skripal samples. They are highly likely to be the same as its my belief the novichok originated from porton down.

  15. Haley is a professional liar and she cannot be believed. Her job depends on how well she can lie and she is very, very good at it. Meanwhile the White Helmets have been caught with their pants down on several occasions where mass killings have taken place. They weren’t there to help but to initiate the murders. They also can’t be trusted. The US will do everything within its power to maintain its slipping control of the Middle East and the deaths of thousands of people doesn’t even register on its foreign policy Richter scale!

    • Haley is a prolific liar, though I don’t agree that she’s good at it. Being a good liar takes intelligence, which is not her forte.

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