Archive | July 11th, 2017

Should UK attack Syria? What Parliament might say

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By Tim Hayward 

Has President Assad used chemical weapons in Syria? In 2013, UK parliamentarians were not convinced. Asked to vote on military action, our representatives decided against.

Today, the same question arises again, but this time they may not get a chance to debate it.[1] We face the profoundly worrying possibility that this government could commit us to warfare without seeking or getting democratic approval.

So I want to highlight some points made by our representatives in 2013. [2] If they were true then, they could be as true or even truer now.

On 29th August 2013, UK parliament was recalled early from summer recess to vote on authorising military intervention in Syria. It was alleged that Syria had crossed President Obama’s ‘red line’ by using chemical weapons. Prime Minister David Cameron came to the House of Commons to seek approval for military action.[3]

Cameron told parliament of a report from the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), and he presented a two page summary of it. The first question put to him, by Caroline Lucas, was why the full report was not made available.[4] He replied that the case for action ‘is not based on a specific piece or pieces of intelligence.’ He added, ‘intelligence is part of this picture, but let us not pretend that there is one smoking piece of intelligence that can solve the whole problem. This is a judgment issue…’

In the JIC Chair’s judgement it was ‘highly likely that the Syrian regime was responsible.’

Cameron stated that he had ‘consulted the Attorney-General and he has confirmed that the use of chemical weapons in Syria constitutes both a war crime and a crime against humanity.’ The standard of proof in criminal investigations involves eliminating reasonable doubt, and can be tested with respect to such matters as motive, means and opportunity. MPs were minded to test it because they thought they were being expected to take a lot on trustWhat does ‘highly likely’ mean, what is it based on, how is that judged, and is reasonable doubt eliminated?

Motive was a matter that bothered MPs. Peter Bone saw ‘no logic to this chemical attack and that is what is worrying some people.’ Julian Lewis noted ‘the JIC is baffled to find a motive for Assad having done this’, adding, ‘as well it might be’, given that it would have been ‘the height of irrationality for him to do the one thing that might get the west intervening against him.’ Like Mr Godsiff, too, David Davis pointed out that ‘even the JIC says that this is an irrational and incomprehensible act’. George Galloway asked what reason Assad could have to ‘launch a chemical weapons attack in Damascus on the very day on which a United Nations chemical weapons inspection team arrives there’.

Neither Cameron nor the JIC could answer on motive. By contrast, a clear motive could be attributed to Assad’s enemies, as David Davis pointed out: ‘it could have been done by the Syrian rebels with the direct aim of dragging the west into the war.’ He noted that ‘JIC discounted that last possibility’, but he worried it was not clear why.

It was on the grounds of means, not motive, that JIC judged it could rule out rebel responsibility. The JIC’s chair stated that there is ‘no credible intelligence or other evidence’ that the opposition possessed chemical weapons, so it is ‘not possible for the opposition to have carried out a CW attack on this scale’. Yet there were MPs who believed this claim to be false. David Davis noted that ‘the UN representative for human rights for Syria thought there was concrete evidence of rebels having sarin gas. There were reports that the Turkish authorities arrested 12 al-Nusra fighters with 2 kg of sarin gas, and other reports that Hezbollah fighters are in Beirut hospitals suffering from the effects of sarin gas.’ George Galloway was forthright in stating that ‘the Syrian rebels definitely had sarin gas’ and he highlighted the relative ease with which improvised forms of sarin can be produced without sophisticated lab equipment.[5]

On this point I think it is important to note that now, in 2017 a similar claim is asserted by UK government: there is ‘no evidence to suggest that any party to the conflict in Syria, other than the Syrian Government, has access to a complex nerve agent such as sarin.’[6] I am sure there would be MPs with concerns that this could be misleading. Certainly, the reference to complexity suggests they are thinking of how military grade Sarin could perhaps only be produced by the Government; yet the actual evidence suggests the chemicals involved are other grades of sarin that can be made by rebels. Given that the OPCW report is vague on precisely this point – whether it is sarin a ‘sarin-like substance’ that has been found where and by whom – the MPs could rightly pose some challenging questions. Those who had followed some of the debate by independent researchers would know to ask that information be released from the UK’s own labs on both the 2013 and the 2017 samples. The UK scientists would presumably know the chemical profiles of those samples, as would those in USA and Russia too.[7]

The fact is, that if rebels were understood to have Sarin in 2013, they would still have it now. Unless, of course, they had used it all, in which case a major premise of the UK’s government’s stance would be directly kicked away. Furthermore, it is reasonable to assume that with supply lines continuing to operate since 2013 they could have a great deal more by now. In light of all this, would MPs, if allowed to debate, agree that rebel capability is ruled out?

But even if the opposition could have had the means, did they really have the opportunity? MPs would be aware that the incidents of both 2013 and 2017 occurred in areas over which the opposition were in complete control.  Evidence could be managed and produced by them to a great extent without external interference or observation.[8] This means that if they had sought to construct a ‘false flag’ operation, they could have had the opportunity. Exactly how they would have done it involves considering some very horrific possibilities.[9] But if a possible account sounds ‘too horrific to believe’ MPs might still be wary of underestimating the horrors that some of those involved might be capable of.

So where might our elected representatives think evidence concerning motive, means and opportunity points today?Would they be inclined to accept the view of the government that it is so likely Assad was responsible for the chemical attacks that we’d be justified in engaging in acts of war against Syria?

I don’t claim to know how the debate would go today, but we can reflect on how it went in 2013. Andrew Mitchell offered his ‘strong advice to the Government’, in view of doubts about whether the use of chemical weapons is unequivocally the work of Assad, ‘to publish in full the evidence’. Julian Lewis argued that even if not all members could see the full report, at least The Intelligence and Security Committee should be allowed to, given that it had sufficient security clearance. Ed Milliband found that evidence against Assad was not compelling, and John McDonnell agreed that ‘to say that “highly likely” and “some evidence” are not good enough’. Richard Ottaway complained that all they’d been given was ‘bare bones’ with ‘no depth’. He endorsed the proposal that ‘the Intelligence and Security Committee could ​look at the JIC analysis, report to the House on the veracity of the intelligence and confirm that it agrees with the opinion in the JIC intelligence letter before us.’ Alasdair McDonnell expressed concern about acting ‘on the basis of uncertain or confused intelligence, particularly in view of possible consequences of action for the Syrian people, something Galloway urged the house to think about: ‘Every religious minority in Syria—there are 23 of them—is petrified at the thought of a victory for the Syrian rebels, whom the British Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary have been doing their utmost to supply with weapons and money over ​the last two years.’

So much hinges on the reliability of intelligence, and yet so little, in truth, is really known about it by those who uphold democracy in our country. Surely, if we have learned anything at all from the recent history of UK intervention in the Middle East, it is that our leaders’ summary judgements about indirect reports of evidence can let us down, and very badly.

syria_vote_uk_parliament_1718483346

Notes

[1] See the worrying discussion of the use of the ‘Enabling Act’ to authorize military action without express approval http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-40496773

[2] Source of Hansard references: http://www.parliament.uk Syria and the Use of Chemical Weapons 29 August 2013 Volume 566 [Relevant document: Oral evidence taken before the Foreign Affairs Committee on 16 July 2013, on Developments in UK Foreign Policy, HC 268-i.]

[3] In the event, of course, Obama himself drew back from the direct confrontation with Syria. Did he know the evidence did not in fact support a justification for it, and congress could expose this fact?

[4] The Greens’ Caroline Lucas: asks ‘why he has refused to publish the Attorney-General’s full advice? ​Why has he instead published just a one-and-a-half-side summary of it, especially when so many legal experts are saying that without explicit UN Security Council reinforcement, military action simply would not be legal under international law?’ And the SNP’s Angus Robertson says ‘we have been recalled to Parliament because of potential imminent military action by UK and other forces. We have been called back four days before Parliament was to reconvene anyway, so it is not unreasonable to conclude that there was a high probability that intervention would take place before Monday. The UK Government expected that we should vote for a blank cheque that would have allowed UK military action before UN weapons inspectors concluded their investigations and before their detailed evidence was provided to the United Nations—or, indeed, Members of this House. Following our having been misled on the reasons for war in Iraq, the least the UK Government could have done was to provide detailed evidence. Frankly, they have not, as was underlined in my intervention on the Prime Minister earlier. … Surely we must have definitive evidence that the Syrian regime or opposition was responsible for the use of these weapons—with the greatest respect, that means not just two pages of A4 paper.’

[5] Galloway: ‘The Syrian rebels have plenty of access to sarin. It is not rocket science. A group of Shinto obscurantists in Japan living on Mount Fuji poisoned the Tokyo underground with sarin gas less than 20 years ago. One does not have to be Einstein to have one’s hands on sarin gas or the means to distribute it.’

[6] Statement by H.E. Ambassador Sir Geoffrey Adams, UK Permanent Representative to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. 5th July 2017 https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/55th-special-session-of-opcw-executive-council

[7] According to a technically well-informed blogger, ‘There is ample evidence that (1) the Nusra Front was producing sarin, and (2) that the sarin used in Syria in 2013 was kitchen sarin that did not match the synthetic pathway used for Syrian military stocks. Mokhtar Lamani, the UN Special Representative in Damascus, had reported to the UNSG in March 2013 that Nusra was bringing nerve agents into Syria through the border at Azaz. The Russian lab that analysed environmental samples from the Khan-al-Assal attack in March 2013 reported that the sarin had been produced under “cottage industry” conditions. It’s likely that Porton Down had obtained similar results from their own analysis of a sarin sample from Uteybah, and were able to compare the Russian findings with their own (very helpful when trying to interpret mass spectrometry results on a complex mixture). This would have helped to establish the credibility of the Russian in this matter.

The phone transcripts of the Nusra team arrested in Turkey in May 2013 showed that they were buying sarin precursors in quantities of hundreds of kilos, including white phosphorus. The OPCW labs reported that the sarin used in Ghouta contained hexafluorophosphate. This indicates that the synthesis started with phosphorus trichloride or elemental phosphorus, and that intermediate reaction products were not purified at each step. The Syrian government’s sarin production started with trimethyl phosphite, bought in large quantities from the UK and India during the 1980s. Finally, Seymour Hersh has reported that the US, which fitted out the ship Cape Ray as a sarin disposal facility, obtained samples of the sarin binaries given up by the Syrian government and determined that their chemical profile did not match the Ghouta sarin.’ ‘On 29 August, just before the House of Commons met to debate the resolution for war on Syria, the UK Joint Intelligence Committee released a report to the Prime Minister stating that there was “no evidence for an opposition CW capability” and therefore “no alternative to a regime attack scenario”. Yet only one day later, Obama had been informed that both these statements were false. It’s clear that the UK defence lab scientists and defence intelligence officials were well aware that the JIC was misleading the House of Commons (a crime against the constitution) and that they resorted to passing information via the military chain of command.’ http://pundita.blogspot.co.uk/2016/08/ghouta-sarin-gas-story-i-think-this-is.html

[8] The 2017 incident occurred at (or around) the time of a Syrian bombing raid at the area in question, and some MPs would surely ask how the rebels could have arranged for this. But, apparently, it would not have been as difficult as one might imagine. Given that air raids within a certain radius and timeframe could be known in advance, and given that various elements of testimony could also be prepared ahead, then mobilizing some key parts of material evidence on the day would not be logistically impossible. In fact, there are unresolved discrepancies in accounts of the timing of events on the ground in relation to the bombing from the air as well as surprising vagueness about locations of victims at key times. Independent researchers have discussed at great length every aspect of the reported incidents and seem to be coming towards the sort of view that became a consensus among them regarding the 2013 incidents.

[9] Attentive researchers have examined these and come to some extremely disturbing conclusions about these. Anyone interested is recommended to consult the collective findings and analysis of A Closer Look On Syriahttp://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Special:AllPages. I find this rather more exhaustive and realistic than Bellingcat’s recent hasty attempt to set out a reductio ad absurdum of what would need to be believed https://www.bellingcat.com/resources/articles/2017/07/04/khan-sheikhoun-false-flag-conspiracy-actually-mean/.

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Iran Deputy FM: US-Russia Deal Could Be Extended to All Syria

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Al-Manar 

Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qasemi here on Monday described the US-Russia agreement to declare truce in some regions in Syria as ‘ambiguous’.

Speaking in his weekly press conference, Qasemi underscored that the US should stop bombarding Syria if Washington is keen on stabilizing ceasefire in the Arab county.

‘If the US-Russia agreement could be extended to all Syria and pave the way for stabilizing ceasefire, it will be definitely fruitful, he said, adding that there is ambiguity in the agreement regarding recent US measures in Syria,’

Commenting on the executive guarantee of the agreement for achieving truce in the regions which have not been discussed during Syrian peace talks in the Kazakh capital, Astana, he said, ‘Iran neither assures the deal nor has a comment in this respect.’

Qasemi reiterated that Iran, Russia and Turkey enjoy active presence in Astana meeting on Syria.

Qasemi underscored that Iran and the Russian federation have special relations and are constantly negotiating the Syrian issue.

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The Saudis Are Bombing Their Own People And Nobody’s Talking About it

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Geopolitics Alert 

For the past 60 days, the Saudis have imposed a devastating siege on the Shiite town of Awamiya. And of course, mainstream western media remains silent.

These photos aren’t from Yemen, they’re from the Saudi Arabian eastern town of Awamiya. Where Saudi forces are waging war against an oppressed shia minority. Saudi Arabia adheres to the extreme fundamentalist and intolerant sect of Wahhabism. Making it the country’s religious majority. This ideology is also enforced through state tactics. Which make it illegal to publicly carry out any religious practice or teaching that conflicts with Wahhabism. Even other Muslims (especially Shiites) are considered infidels by the Saudi government. And thus, all religious minorities in Saudi Arabia remain an extremely oppressed group; often lacking the same health care, public services, and wages granted to their Wahhabi counterparts; if not facing death.

While the majority of Saudi citizens adhere to Wahhabi principles, many towns in the eastern province of Qatif– like Awamiya– hold a Shia majority. Where they’ve been essentially doomed to live in “ghettos” as second class citizens. But the Saudi oppression of Shiites and other religious minorities goes way beyond just economic devastation. In fact for the past two months Saudi forces have held Awamiya under siege, destroyed buildings with bombs and shelling, and set up barricades to control free movement. This is likely a response to Shia citizens calling for basic human rights.

In videos posted to social media, it looks like Saudi security forces are using white phosphorus to drive-out citizens from their homes. Residents also report that Saudi forces are shelling homes and buildings with .50 caliber weapons. In one instance, a building was set on fire and Saudi police refused to allow firetrucks to pass through the barricades.

It’s been confirmed that a number of people have died as a result of gunfire. But it’s unclear exactly what the death toll could be since Saudi Arabia severely restricts media access. When the Saudi-run state media are reporting the numbers, they surely can’t be trusted.

Of course, instead of reporting on the Saudis brutal repression, mainstream media has framed the story (in the few articles available) as though the Saudi security forces are simply clashing with an armed Shiite “militant” uprising. Which ultimately places the Saudi security forces in the “good guy” category just simply trying to keep order.

This however completely whitewashes the fact that the Shiite population in Saudi Arabia has been brutally repressed since the Kingdom’s formation. It also completely ignores the fact that the Saudis are using American-supplied weapons to kill their own people. Which if we look at Syria, this was supposedly the west’s entire reason for their intervention against Bashar al-Assad. “Assad is bombing his own people” the headlines still read to this day.

The happenings in Qatif only further demonstrate not only the Saudis’ intolerant disregard for human life, but also their genocidal tendencies as they move further towards an apartheid state within their own borders.

SEE ALSO:

Amid Yemen’s Cholera Outbreak, Saudi Airstrikes Destroy Desalination Plant
Saudis Target Home in Yemen (Again), Killing About a Dozen Civilians

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Only the News That Fits: How American Media Erase Palestine

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Only the News That Fits: How American Media Erase Palestine – Even Alternative Media

Abdul-Rahman Mahmoud Barghouthi, 18 months. Photo from IMEMC.
By Alison Weir | If Americans Knew 

An 18-month-old died in Palestine Friday. The cause of death was teargas inhalation from an Israeli invasion of his village two months ago.

It wasn’t a major invasion; just another of the routine ones that happen almost every day in the West Bank. U.S. media call these “incursions,” when they bother to mention them. Which is rarely.

The toddler’s name was Abdul-Rahman Mahmoud Barghouthi, a name that feels incongruously long for his short life.

When he was injured, Israeli soldiers held up an ambulance rushing to him, forcing medics to go to his home on foot and carry him back to the ambulance in their arms – a 60 minute round trip.

In the past three months, Israelis have killed 18 Palestinians, including an eight-year-old and 10-year-old, and Palestinians have killed two Israeli soldiers.

So far, I don’t see any US mainstream news media mentioning the end of Abdul’s short life, the final two months likely infused with pain. If an 18-month-old Israeli child had been killed by Palestinians, I suspect there would be headlines, and the President would go on CNN [LOL] and condemn the killers.

Perhaps Palestinians are killed so often that to the media it’s just not newsworthy, a little like the old saying that ‘dog bites man’ is not news, while ‘man bites dog’ is news. Israelis killing Palestinian children is not news. However, it is literally news to most Americans, since they so rarely hear about it.

My personal experience in writing about this issue for more than a decade and a half illustrates the very American tale of media omission on Palestine. Just last week another episode showed that the saga continues.

I’ve written about this sort of thing before, on more than one occasion.

The first time I wrote about tiny dead Palestinian children was 15 years ago. I described small deaths and quoted the words of poet Shawqi Baghdadi:

I remember the children

As dead angels

And injured sparrows

God was sad

A few years later I wrote about Palestinian toddlers killed by Israeli drones, and a few years later about Palestinian children shot in the head. I wrote stories about dead Palestinian mothers, such as Anatomy Of A Cover-Up: When A Mother Gets Killed Does She Make A Sound? and “Just Another Mother Murdered.” The titles give you the gist.

I could write stories like this over and over, if I could bear it. Because the deaths keep coming, and the misery and the cruelty, and the media keep ignoring so much of it.

And that’s the point of this story. Americans need to know important facts that they aren’t learning in the very filtered reporting we get. We need to know what’s happening in Palestine, and we need to know what’s enabling this in the U.S. The latter stories are even more covered up.

Until we expose and break through the media bias and omission, the children will keep dying, and the tragedy and carnage and injustice will grow and spread.

In the past I’ve conducted media studies that document the disparity in reporting on Palestinian deaths compared to Israeli deaths, and have deconstructed news reporting. Through the years I’ve periodically written articles describing the flawed system of reporting on Palestine, including a chapter for a Project Censored book on the subject.

This time I’d like to give a few small, personal anecdotes – one from last week.

In 2001 a reporter for the Gannett news chain interviewed me at length about what I had just seen firsthand in Gaza and the West Bank at the height of the Second Intifada, and about the founding of If Americans Knew. Gannett is a major chain and this would have been a significant breakthrough for information on Palestine to get to the general public. The reporter sent a photographer to take pictures of me and told me his feature was about to come out.

But it never did. The reporter later told me a higher-up had killed the story, saying it was “missing something.” He hadn’t explained what.

Another time a journalist at the other end of the media scale, a reporter working for a small town newspaper, wrote a similar story about me. It, too, was killed by a higher-up. The reporter told me this was the first time that had ever happened to him.

Awhile later, a letter I had written about Palestine had gone through the usual editorial process and was slated to be published in the Washington Post. At the last minute it, too, was blocked by a superior.

Most recently, Truthout, a progressive website with a large readership that publishes much excellent work, accepted an article I had submitted about government monitoring of Palestine activism. My piece went through the standard editing and fact-checking, and the next day the article was published on the website. Briefly. It was quickly removed when higher-ups saw it and the staff then told me courteously and apologetically it wasn’t “the right fit for Truthout.”

I asked what this meant, exactly, but haven’t heard back. We’ve now published the article on our blog.

Naturally, news organizations can’t publish everything that’s submitted to them, and all have the right to decide what they will publish and what they won’t.

But it’s unusual for pieces that have gone through the usual channels and passed the standard hurdles to suddenly get killed for unidentified reasons. And it’s disturbing when this fits into a pattern of news filtering that has life and death consequences, and has gone on year after year after year.

Many news media are telling us more than they used to about Palestine, but they continue to leave out important aspects. Sometimes a half truth is a whole lie.

Meanwhile, Israel and its partisans have rewritten the governmental definition of “antisemitism” to include criticism of Israel and embedded this new Israel-centric definition in governments and law enforcement agencies around the world, so that eventually articles like this one may be banned as “hate speech.”

But you won’t learn that in Truthout.

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London Mayor moves to ban Hezbollah

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By Adam Garrie | The Duran 

The Sunni Muslim Mayor of London seeks to ban a Shi’a party from Lebanon from the streets of Britain.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has moved to ban support for Hezbollah in Britain. This is not only an attack on free speech but a totally one-sided attempt to silence global opposition to imperialism and occupation.

Hezbollah is a political party in Lebanon with supporters and well wishers across the world. Hezbollah currently has 12 seats in the Lebanese Parliament and 2 cabinet ministers.

Hezbollah was formally organised in 1985 in the midst of the Lebanese Civil War. Like many political parties which formed in the midst of a civil war, including the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland which currently supports the British government, Hezbollah has an armed resistance faction designed to do what the Lebanese army is increasingly incapable of doing, namely, resisting continued Israeli attempts to illegally attack and occupy Lebanon as well as helping to fight ISIS and al-Qaeda in Syria.

It is patently absurd for a UK politician who carries water for the western establishment in their support of Salafist terrorists in Syria to ban support for a group which is fighting them. Hezbollah’s fight against ISIS and al-Qaeda is a fight for civilisation and for common humanity. Many Lebanese who support other parties admit this so why can’t Mr. Khan?

Britain’s streets are filled with officially sanctioned rallies of people holding various flags of extremist Sunni terrorist organisations involved in the conflict in Syria. Some of these rallies have been attended by Mr. Khan, a Sunni of Pakistani origin. This is made all the more odd by the fact that the Mayor of London has no formal foreign policy making role and has no role in the internal politics of Lebanon.

People in major cities like London support all kinds of parties. There are many Americans in London who support the Republican Party of Donald Trump, a man who Khan has attacked multiple times on Twitter. There are French people in London who support Marine Le Pen’s Front National as well as Emmanuel Macron’s La République En Marche! The list goes on, but Khan has decided to single out for reproach, a single Lebanese party.

This is a disgraceful decision from a disgraceful man. Unless one wants to ban all foreign political parties from having support, one shouldn’t single out one party from Lebanon. One cannot say with any sincerity that the ban has anything to do with Hezbollah’s armed factions as the British Prime Minister sits with a party, the DUP, that has been supported by and has cultivated alliances with armed factions in a disputed territory of Britain that many want to see become part of a united Irish Republic. By contrast, no one disputes that Hezbollah’s heartland of southern Lebanon is anything but Lebanese. Israel’s attempts to once again occupy it have been condemned by the world as illegal acts.

One used to think that Khan was more of a mouse than a man. It turns out, he is a rat.

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Convicted Nazi terrorists receive support from Nazi state

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Amid what the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs has described as a “frenetic Nazi campaign against Palestinian authorities’ payment of allowances to prisoners of ‘Israel’ and their families, the committee published a list on Monday of Nazi convicted of murdering Palestinians and anti-Palestinian extremist organizations, who have received financial and legal support from the Nazi state of ‘Israel’.

Committee head Issa Qaraqe has accused the Nazi government of “supporting Jewish terrorists and their extremist organizations both financially, socially, and legally through organizations authorized by the Israeli government,” calling Israel “the biggest funder of official terrorism in the Middle East.”

A large number of the criminals mentioned on the list were convicted and received life sentences, “but only served only five to seven years in Israeli jails,”  according to the committee. Additionally, the Nazi regime used “deceitful methods” to bypass law and pardon certain criminals, some of them before ever entering a prison cell, the statement added.

Rights groups have meanwhile documented the discriminatory and racist manner in which the Nazi Prison Service (NPS) classifies its prisoners, specifically “to violate the rights of Palestinian prisoners defined as ‘security’ prisoners, while at the same time providing benefits to Jewish prisoners also defined as ‘security’ prisoners,” as legal NGO Adalah put it.

The Jewish Underground movement

The first item on the committee’s list was the Jewish Underground, a right-wing Nazi terror organization that carried out and plotted a string of attacks in the 1980s, with some of its members being decorated officers in the Nazi army and widely respected in the Jewish Nazi settler community.

Members of the group were convicted in 1985 of committing of a number of attacks — marking the first time a group of Nazi Jews were convicted of being part of a terrorist organization.

Among the Nazi Jewish Underground’s crimes were car bombings targeting Palestinian mayors: Nablus Mayor Bassam al-Shakaa lost both of his legs, Ramallah Mayor Karim Khalaf lost a foot, and al-Bireh Mayor Ibrahim al-Tawil was saved when the device planted in his car was discovered.

The defendants also plotted to blow up the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, attempted to murder three Palestinian college students in Hebron, and booby-trapped Palestinian buses with bombs.

Menachem Livni, Shaul Nir, and Uziah Sharabaf received life sentences defined as lasting 24 years, while the others received terms of imprisonment ranging from three to nine years. Twenty members were released after less than two years, and none served more than five years. The three life sentences were commuted three times, finally to 10 years. With time off for good behavior, they were released in 1990.

The committee’s statement said that all have received monthly benefits, by order of Nazi law, from the Nazi Social Affairs Ministry and from Nazi National Insurance.

Three of the members of the group currently work at Nazi prime minister’s office. Nathan Nathanson, convicted of involvement in the car bombings against the Palestinian mayors, has since been employed as a political adviser for Nazi Education Minister and chairman of the Jewish Home party Naftali Bennett.

One of the three original founders of the cell, Yehuda Etzion, is the founder and current chairman of the Nazi right-wing Jewish group Hai Vekayam, dedicated to allowing Jewish prayer in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

A number of others have since become heads of Nazi Jewish settlement councils, according to the committee’s statement.

Dani Eizman, Michal Hillel, and Gil Fox

The second group of “Jewish terrorists,” according to the prisoners’ affairs committee, consisted of Dani Eisman, Gil Fox, and Michal Hillel, who were convicted for the 1985 kidnapping and murder of taxi driver Khamis Tutanji, a Palestinian resident of occupied Palestine 1948. They were each sentenced to life in prison, but released after serving between five and seven years.

The three also received the usual benefits from the Nazi Ministry of Social Affairs and Nazi National Insurance while in prison.

The case was cited in a report, which indicated that unlike Jewish prisoners who are citizens of ‘Israel’ and perpetrated acts against Arabs or Palestinians based on ideological motives, Palestinian prisoners who are citizens of ‘Israel’ have yet to receive any real commutation of their sentence or early release.

Nazi David Ben-Shimol

Nazi David Ben-Shimol fired an anti-tank missile at a Palestinian bus in 1985, killing one person and injuring dozens. He was sentenced to life, serving only 11 years of his sentence. He also received benefits while in prison, according to the statement.

Nazi Ami Popper

After Nazi Ami Popper massacred seven Palestinians in 1990, he was found guilty of seven counts of murder and initially handed seven life sentences, before seeing his sentence commuted to 40 years.

He has reportedly been granted furlough more than 100 times in the 18 years since his conviction, marrying three times while in prison custody. He fathered six children while in custody, according to the prisoners’ committee.

The statement said in addition to the usual social benefits, his family has been the recipient of financial support from Nazi far-right NGO Honenu, which is reportedly indirectly funded from tax deductible US donations.

Nazi Zeev Wolf and Gershon Hershkovich

Nazi Zeev Wolf and Gershon Hershkovich were convicted of hurling a hand grenade at a market in Jerusalem in November 1992, killing one Palestinian and injuring 20 others, according to the statement which didn’t provide further details on the attack. They were released after serving six years and a half in prison, and received social benefits while in prison.

Nazi Yoram Shkolnik

Nazi Jewish settler Yoram Shkolnik shot and killed Moussa Suleiman Abu Abha multiple times at close range while the Palestinian was blindfolded, bound hand and foot, and guarded by Nazi soldiers after allegedly attempting to detonate a hand grenade in 1993. Shkolnik’s life sentence was later reduced.

In addition to the allowances Shkolnik received from the Nazi National Insurance(NNI) and the Social Affairs Ministry, the prisoners’ committee said the Nazi regime “gave him a grant to start a project of his own,” without providing additional details.

Nazi Nachshon Wales

According to the committee, Nazi Nachshon Wales was sentenced to life in prison for killing a Palestinian woman in August 1990 while she was tending her olive grove. His sentence was twice commuted, and he was released after serving 11 years. He currently works as a security guard in an illegal Jewish Nazi settlement, according to the committee.

Nazi Bat Ayin Underground

Members of terrorist organization Bat Ayin were convicted of parking a booby-trapped car in the yard of a Palestinian girls school in East Jerusalem in 2002. Some of the defendants remain in custody, receiving social benefits as well as financial support from the right-wing settler organization Elad, according to the committee, as well as from Honenu.

Dawabsha murderers

The committee’s statement also mentioned the two Nazi convicted of murder for the 2015 deadly arson attack that killed three members of the Palestinian Dawabsha family in the occupied West Bank.

Amiram Ben-Uliel was charged with three counts of murder, while a minor was charged as an accessory to murder and unnamed by Nazi media due to gag orders on the identities of underage Nazi suspects.

The prisoners’ committee’s statement named Nazi Yoram Stenhil to have been found guilty of firebombing and killing the Dawabsha family, though it could not immediately be confirmed if this was referring to the minor convicted in the case alongside Ben-Uliel.

Nazi Stenhil, in addition to receiving social benefits from the state, allegedly also is funded by Honenu and received 600,000 shekels ($169,000) in one year, according to the statement.

Nazi Yigal Amir

After being convicted for the 1995 murder of Nazi Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Yigal Amir was given a life sentence and remains in prison. He has since been married in custody and is allowed to meet with his wife in prison. He receives social benefits and has been receiving “generous donations from extremist right-wing Jewish groups,” including Honenu, the statement said.

Nazi Elor Azarya

Israeli soldier Nazi Elor Azarya shot dead Abd al-Fattah al-Sharif in Hebron in March 2016 after the young Palestinian had already been shot and incapacitated by another Nazi soldier for allegedly attempting a knife attack. Azarya was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 18 months in prison.

The sentence has been appealed by both the prosecution and the defense for being both too lenient and too harsh.

According to the prisoners’ committee, Azarya has continued to receive his salary from the Nazi army, while his father founded a charitable organization and named it after him. The organization has so far received more than 8 million shekels ($2.25 million) in donations, according to the committee.

Bus 300 Affair

Nazi Ehud Yatom, a former member of Nazi Knesset and former deputy chief of Nazi Gestapo general intelligence, was among members of the Shin Bet involved in the Bus 300 Affair of 1984 in which Shin Bet members executed two Palestinian bus hijackers.

Nazi Yatom expressed pride over “smashing their skulls” with rocks after capturing them alive.

Yatom, Shimon Malka, and Yosi Genswar were convicted but did not go to jail due to a full presidential pardons.

Nazi Honenu organization

The committee’s statement also listed the aforementioned Nazi Honenu organization for offering financial and legal support to extremist Nazi Jewish who have been convicted or are on trial for terror attacks against Palestinians. The group, which raises funds in the US, also receives approximately 6 million shekels ($1.69 million ) from the the Nazi regime every year, according to the committee.

Nazi Goldstein organization

Nazi Goldstein organization, named after the US-born Nazi Jewish settler Baruch Goldstein who massacred 29 Palestinians inside Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque in 1994, “attempts to perpetuate the terrorist Goldstein as a national hero,” the committee said, adding that the group receives direct and indirect financial support from the Nazi regime.

Nazi Rehavam Zeevi organization

The prisoners’ committee also identified the Rehavam Zeevi organization as an example of Nazi state-sponsored anti-Palestinian extremism. The organization was named after the Nazi right-wing Nazi politician who was assassinated by Palestinian gunmen affiliated to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Nazi Zeevi was known for establishing the extremist Moledet (Homeland) party that advocates for the population transfer of Palestinians from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to neighboring Arab countries.

According to the committee, the group receives direct support from the Nazi regime.

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How Accidental are America’s Accidental Civilian Killings Across the Middle East?

NOVANEWS
By Peter Van Buren 

U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis has said “civilian casualties are a fact of life in this sort of situation,” referring to America’s war against Islamic State.

How can America in clear conscience continue to kill civilians across the Middle East? It’s easy; ask Grandpa what he did in the Good War. Civilian deaths in WWII weren’t dressed up as collateral damage, they were policy.

Following what some claim are looser rules of engagement in place under the Trump administration, U.S.-led coalition air strikes in Iraq and Syria killed 1,484 civilians in March 2017 alone. Altogether some 3,100 civilians have been killed from the air since the U.S. launched its coalition war against Islamic State, according to the NGO Airwars. Drone strikes outside of the ISIS fight killed 3,674 other civilians. In 2015 the U.S. destroyedan entire hospital in Afghanistan, along with doctors and patients inside.

That all adds up to a lot of accidents — accidents created in part by the use of Hellfire missiles designed to destroy tanks employed against individual people, and 500 pound bombs that can clear a football-field sized area dropped inside densely inhabited areas. The policy of swatting flies with sledgehammers, surgical strikes with blunt instruments, does indeed seem to lead to civilian deaths, deaths that stretch the definition of “accident.”

Yet despite the numbers killed, the watchword in modern war is that civilians are never targeted on purpose, at least by our side. Americans would never intentionally kill innocents.

Except we have.

The good guys in World War II oversaw the rapid development of new weapons to meet the changing needs of killing entire cities’ worth of innocents. For example, in Europe, brick and stone construction lent itself to the use of conventional explosives to destroy cities. In Japan, however, given the prominence of wood construction, standard explosives tended to simply scatter structures over a limited area. The answer was incendiary devices.

To fine-tune their use, the U.S. Army Air Force built a full-size Japanese village in Utah. They questioned American architects who had worked in Japan, consulted a furniture importer, and installed tatami straw floor mats taken from Japanese-Americans sent off to internment camps. Among the insights gained was the need for incendiary devices to be made much heavier than originally thought. Japanese homes typically had tile roofs. The early devices tended to bounce right off. A heavier device would break through the tile and ignite inside the structure, creating a much more effective fire.

Far from accidental, firebombing Japan had been planned in War Plan Orange, written long before Pearl Harbor. As far back as the 1920s, U.S. General Billy Mitchell had said Japan’s paper and wood cities would be “the greatest aerial targets the world had ever seen.” Following the outline in War Plan Orange, the efforts were lead by Curtis “Bombs Away” LeMay, who expressed his goal as “Japan will eventually be a nation without cities, a nomadic people.”

LeMay also helped run the U.S. bombing campaign against North Korea during that war, claiming that American efforts killed some 20 percent of the civilian population. The man many call the architect of the Vietnam War, Robert McNamara, worked for LeMay during the WWII firebombing campaign. McNamara as Secretary of Defense went on to order the use of napalm in Vietnam, often against undefended civilian targets. The accidents of civilian deaths in war turn inside tight circles.

The skill with which America tuned its WWII firebombing into an exquisite way to destroy civilians reached its peak on March 10, 1945, when three hundred American B-29 bombers flew virtually unopposed over Tokyo’s most densely populated residential area. They dropped enough incendiary bombs to create a firestorm, a conflagration that burned the oxygen out of the air itself.

What was accomplished? One hundred thousand dead, a million people made homeless. The raid remains the single most destructive act of war ever committed, even after Hiroshima.

The problem, however, for the U.S. with such raids was their inefficiency in killing civilians. The logistics of sending off 300 planes were daunting, especially when an hour or two of unexpected wind or rain could negate much of effort. There was no question firestorms were the very thing to systematically commit genocide in Japan. But what was needed was a tool to create those firestorms efficiently, and to make them weather-proof.

It would only take science a few more months after the Tokyo firebombing to provide that tool. A single atomic bomb meant one plane could do the work of 300. And the bomb would create a fire so powerful and large and hot that weather would have no effect; it was foolproof. There could be no better weapon for destroying whole cities and all of the people in them, and it has only been used by one nation. Twice, because the 85,000 killed in Hiroshima were not enough.

These were tactics of vengeance matched with weapons designed to carry them out as horribly as possible. They worked well: the firebombing campaign over Japan, including the atomic bombings, purposely killed more than one million civilians in just five months in 1945.

It was only after WWII ended, when accurate descriptions from Hiroshima began finding their way back to America, that the idea of firebombing as a way to shorten the war, to spare lives in the long game, came into full flower. The myth, that the atomic bomb was in fact a reluctant instrument of mercy, not terror, was first published in Harper’s Magazine in February 1947 under the name of Secretary of War Henry Stimson. The actual writing was done by McGeorge Bundy, who later as National Security Adviser helped promote the American war in Vietnam that took several million civilian lives.

The majority of Americans, recovering their consciences post-war, were thus nudged into seeing what was actually a continuation of long-standing policy of civilian genocide in Japan as an unfortunate but necessary step toward Japan’s surrender, and thus saved innumerable lives that would have been lost had the war dragged on. This thinking lives on today on politically correct ground under the banner of great powers having to reluctantly put aside what is moral in peace for what is expedient in war. A “fact of life,” according to the U.S. Secretary of Defense.

So look deeper into history if you want to understand the morality-free rise in civilian deaths across America’s battlefields in the Middle East. We don’t like to think of ourselves as the kind of people who willfully kill innocents, but we were pleased by it only a skip back in history; your grandfather flew missions over Japan to burn children to death. Accidents of course happen in war, but there is a dark history of policy that demands skepticism each time such claims are made.

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The UK’s Secret Drone War: Legal Basis Uncertain, Civilian Casualties Unknown

NOVANEWS

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The use of armed drones by the US in countries such as Iraq, Pakistan, Syria and Yemen is well known, but not well documented. Internal rules governing the program remain opaque, and details on individual strikes and casualty figures are lacking. However, the UK own drone warfare efforts are almost entirely hidden from the public.

As Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Clinic “Out of the Shadows” report made clear in June, the UK’s approach to drone warfare is opaque at all levels.

Officially, the country has no formal drone program equivalent to that of the US — the UK Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights inquiry into targeted killing concluded drone strikes are conducted ad hoc, as but one operational tactic at the disposal of UK forces.

​Nonetheless, freedom of information requests indicate that by the end of 2016 over 1,200 airstrikes (both from conventional manned aircraft and drones) were conducted against Daesh targets in Iraq and Syria alone — although the question of whether and where else in the world UK drones have been deployed, and the civilian impact of these strikes, is scant.

Likewise, the legal basis upon which the UK relies for its use of armed drones remains unclear — for instance, does the UK assert the right of self-defense under international law? Such a claim was made after the RAF killed three people, including British citizens Reyaad Khan and Ruhul Amin, in a drone strike near Raqqa, Syria in August 2015.

The strike took place despite Parliament having explicitly voted against UK involvement in US-led airstrikes in Syria in August 2013. Without the Commons’ knowledge or consent, then-Prime Minister David Cameron authorized the strike, relying on a limited parliamentary convention allowing for immediate military action to be taken in self-defense of British national interests.

Contradictorily however, in his official legal notification to the United Nations Security Council, Cameron claimed the action was instead taken pursuant to the right of collective self-defense of any nation subject to armed attack.

In any event, there is ongoing controversy among international law experts as to the theoretical validity of the doctrine of anticipatory self-defense — the UK has long asserted the existence of such a right, but how such a doctrine properly applies in the circumstances of strikes against Daesh overseas is yet to be adequately explained.

Rights Watch UK has requested disclosure or summary of the relevant legal advice underpinning the August 2015 strike, although the request has been rejected. As of July 2017, it remains under appeal, to be heard before the UK Upper Tribunal before the end of the year.

The doctrine of anticipatory self-defense requires a threat defended against must be an imminent one, although the very phrase “imminent” is an elastic one. Moreover, in a January speech to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, UK Attorney-General Jeremy Wright called for an renewed approach to imminence, eschewing the traditional assumption of threat proximity (ie a threat near or incoming to a particular area) to a “factor-based” approach, in which proximity is no longer a necessary condition. The Attorney-General even favors action in self-defense when the UK does not know where and when an attack will take place, or the precise nature of an attack.

In addition to the absence of transparency around the UK’s use of drones, the government is also yet to set out the nature and degree of its involvement in facilitating and supporting the use of armed drones by the US — and depending on the nature of this involvement, the country may be liable under international law for US government actions.

There are a number of legal means by which a state may be held internationally responsible for the actions of another it assists.

For instance, Article 16 of the International Law Commission’s Articles on the Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts makes clear a state which aids another in the commission of any wrongful act is responsible if the abetting state does “so with knowledge of the circumstances of the internationally wrongful act” — and the act “would be internationally wrongful if committed” by the assisting state.

Articles 40 and 41 provide a narrower rule — where one state is guilty of a serious breach of international law, other states are prohibited from rendering any assistance in maintaining the situation before or after the event. On notice of a serious breach of international law by a state, other states are obliged not to provide further trade in arms or continue intelligence sharing, for example

Further, the United Nations Charter makes clear a state must not allow its own territory to be used as a launching pad for acts of aggression by other states, even if it is not directly involved itself. Such use of territory could include provision of landing rights for drone strikes, or even allowing partner intelligence agencies to operate out of a state’s military installations.

In February, Rights Watch UK was involved in litigation in the English High Court, arguing the UK government was obliged to consider the UK’s potential liability for aiding and assisting breaches of international law by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in Yemen through its arms exports to Saudi Arabia.

Far from confirming the UK’s international liability was being seriously interrogated, the government argued the question of liability for aiding and assisting Riyadh’s potentially criminal actions were irrelevant.

As drone use proliferates internationally, the need for transparency and oversight also increases. The failure of the US and UK to provide regular, reliable, transparent information on their participation in drone warfare, or explain whether their actions conform with international legal obligations means neither constituent public can have any confidence their government is acting lawfully.

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Media’s Propaganda War on Syria in Full Flow

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By Jonathan Cook

If you wish to understand the degree to which a supposedly free western media are constructing a world of half-truths and deceptions to manipulate their audiences, keeping us uninformed and docile, then there could hardly be a better case study than their treatment of Pulitzer prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh.

All of these highly competitive, for-profit, scoop-seeking media outlets separately took identical decisions: first to reject Hersh’s latest investigative report, and then to studiously ignore it once it was published in Germany last Sunday. They have continued to maintain an absolute radio silence on his revelations, even as over the past few days they have given a great deal of attention to two stories on the very issue Hersh’s investigation addresses.

These two stories, given such prominence in the western media, are clearly intended to serve as “spoilers” to his revelations, even though none of these publications have actually informed their readers of his original investigation. We are firmly in looking-glass territory.

So what did Hersh’s investigation reveal? His sources in the US intelligence establishment – people who have helped him break some of the most important stories of the past few decades, from the Mai Lai massacre by American soldiers during the Vietnam war to US abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib in 2004 – told him the official narrative that Syria’s Bashar Assad had dropped deadly sarin gas on the town of Khan Sheikhoun on April 4 was incorrect. Instead, they said, a Syrian plane dropped a bomb on a meeting of jihadi fighters that triggered secondary explosions in a storage depot, releasing a toxic cloud of chemicals that killed civilians nearby.

It is an alternative narrative of these events that one might have assumed would be of intense interest to the media, given that Donald Trump approved a military strike on Syria based on the official narrative. Hersh’s version suggests that Trump acted against the intelligence advice he received from his own officials, in a highly dangerous move that not only grossly violated international law but might have dragged Assad’s main ally, Russia, into the fray. The Syrian arena has the potential to trigger a serious confrontation between the world’s two major nuclear powers.

But, in fact, the western media were supremely uninterested in the story. Hersh, once considered the journalist’s journalist, went hawking his investigation around the US and UK media to no avail. In the end, he could find a home for his revelations only in Germany, in the publication Welt am Sonntag.

There are a couple of possible, even if highly improbable, reasons all English-language publications ignored Hersh’s story. Maybe they had evidence that his inside intelligence was wrong. If so, they have yet to provide it. A rebuttal would require acknowledging Hersh’s story, and none seem willing to do that.

Or maybe the media thought it was old news and would no longer interest their readers. It would be difficult to sustain such an interpretation, but at least it has an air of plausibility – except for everything that has happened since Hersh published last Sunday.

His story has spawned two clear “spoiler” responses from those desperate to uphold the official narrative. Hersh’s revelations may have been entirely uninteresting to the western media, but strangely they have sent Washington into crisis mode. Of course, no US official has addressed Hersh’s investigation directly, which might have drawn attention to it and forced western media to reference it. Instead Washington has sought to deflect attention from Hersh’s alternative narrative and shore up the official one through misdirection. That alone should raise the alarm that we are being manipulated, not informed.

The first spoiler, made in the immediate wake of Hersh’s story, were statements from the Pentagon and White House warning that the US had evidence Assad was planning yet another chemical attack on his people and that Washington would respond extremely harshly if he did so.

Here is how the Guardian reported the US threats:

The US said on Tuesday that it had observed preparations for a possible chemical weapons attack at a Syrian air base allegedly involved in a sarin attack in April following a warning from the White House that the Syrian regime would ‘pay a heavy price’ for further use of the weapons.

And then on Friday, the second spoiler emerged. Two unnamed diplomats “confirmed” that a report by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had found that some of the victims from Khan Sheikhoun showed signs of poisoning by sarin or sarin-like substances.

There are obvious reasons to be mightily suspicious of these stories. The findings of the OPCW were already known and had been discussed for some time – there was absolutely nothing newsworthy about them.

There are also well-known problems with the findings. There was no “chain of custody” – neutral oversight – of the bodies that were presented to the organisation in Turkey. Any number of interested parties could have contaminated the bodies before they reached the OPCW. For that reason, the OPCW has not concluded that the Assad regime was responsible for the traces of sarin. In the world of real news, only such a finding – that Assad was responsible – should have made the OPCW report interesting again to the media.

Similarly, by going public with their threats against Assad, the Pentagon and White House did not increase the deterrence on Assad, making it less likely he would use gas in the future. That could have been achieved much more effectively with private warnings to the Russians, who have massive leverage over Assad. These new warnings were meant not for Assad but for western publics, to bolster the official narrative that Hersh’s investigation had thrown into doubt.

In fact, the US threats increase, rather than reduce, the chances of a new chemical weapons attack. Other, anti-Assad actors now have a strong incentive to use chemical weapons in false-flag operation to implicate Assad, knowing that the US has committed itself to intervention. On any reading, the US statements were reckless – or malicious – in the extreme and likely to bring about the exact opposite of what they were supposed to achieve.

But beyond this, there was something even more troubling about these two stories. That these official claims were published so unthinkingly in major outlets is bad enough. But what is unconscionable is the media’s continuing blackout of Hersh’s investigation when it speaks directly to the two latest news reports.

No serious journalist could write up either story, according to any accepted norms of journalistic practice, and not make reference to Hersh’s claims. They are absolutely relevant to these stories. In fact, more than that, the intelligence sources he cites are are not only relevant but are the sole reason these two stories have been suddenly propelled to the top of the news agenda.

Any publication that has covered either the White House-Pentagon threats or the rehashing of the OPCW report and has not mentioned Hersh’s revelations is writing nothing less than propaganda in service of a western foreign policy agenda trying to bring about the illegal overthrow the Syrian government. And so far that appears to include every single US and UK mainstream newspaper and TV station.

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Asma Al-Assad: How Western Media turned “A Rose in the Desert” into “A Cheerleader for Evil”

NOVANEWS
By Sarah Abed | The Rabbit Hole

In early March 2011, right before the carefully calculated and planned imposed war and invasion in Syria, Vogue Magazinepublished a surprisingly positive article titled: Asma al-Assad: A Rose in the Desert.

“Asma al-Assad is glamorous, young, and very chic—the freshest and most magnetic of first ladies. Her style is not the couture-and-bling dazzle of Middle Eastern power but a deliberate lack of adornment. She’s a rare combination: a thin, long-limbed beauty with a trained analytic mind who dresses with cunning understatement. Paris Match calls her “the element of light in a country full of shadow zones.” “She is the first lady of Syria”.

The article gave readers an inside view of what life was like for the Assad’s In Syria. It didn’t exaggerate, or misrepresent information and had a seemingly unbiased tone.

“Back in the car, I ask what religion the orphans are. “It’s not relevant,” says Asma al-Assad. “Let me try to explain it to you. That church is a part of my heritage because it’s a Syrian church. The Umayyad Mosque is the third-most-important holy Muslim site, but within the mosque is the tomb of Saint John the Baptist. We all kneel in the mosque in front of the tomb of Saint John the Baptist. That’s how religions live together in Syria—a way that I have never seen anywhere else in the world. We live side by side, and have historically. All the religions and cultures that have passed through these lands—the Armenians, Islam, Christianity, the Umayyads, the Ottomans—make up who I am.”

“Does that include the Jews?” I ask. “And the Jews,” she answers. “There is a very big Jewish quarter in old Damascus.”

Also included in the article is some background information on the first lady. Asma Akhras was born in London in 1975 to a Syrian-born cardiologist and his wife, a diplomat who had served as first secretary at the Syrian embassy. She went to Queen’s College a private school, graduated from King’s College London, and worked for some time at JP Morgan in Manhattan. She was accepted into the prestigious ivy league school Harvard but instead of attending she accepted a marriage proposal from President Bashar in 2000 after secretly dating for some time.

The article detailed some other information as well, but nothing that would strike the knowledgeable reader as pretentious, over the top, or propaganda material. The response however from other publications written by disgruntled journalists was outrageous. They spoke as if they had more knowledge about conditions in Syria than a journalist that actually went to Syria and wrote about the experience.

Soon after the Vogue article was published the war in Syria began, with a staged uprising in Daraa. Another war against Vogue Magazine and this article, in particular, was waged by many publications, in particular, those that had ties or were sympathetic to the illegal state of Israel.

These publications shamed, insulted, belittled and demanded that this story be retracted or changed to fit the demonization campaign that spawned in mainstream media.

A few years prior in 2009 The Huffington Post published a slide show entitled, “Asma Al Assad: Syria’s First Lady And All-Natural Beauty.”

In 2010 the Harvard Arab Alumni Association’s website promoted an event featuring Asma by praising her as an avid supporter of “a robust, independent and self-sustaining civil society.” Asma convened a conference for the Syria Trust for Development about “the emerging role of civil society in development.”

As reported in Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs website, The First Lady “… opened the conference by declaring that the state wanted to open more space for civil society to work, develop and partner with the government in designing and implementing development-oriented policies. We will learn from our mistakes, she said, and a law will be passed soon — after consultations with civil society — to provide non-governmental organizations the safeguards they need to operate effectively. She challenged them, for their part, to rise to the occasion and achieve higher levels of efficacy and professionalism. Her overall theme of partnership reflected a realization that the government alone could not provide all the expertise or services needed to develop the country at the pace that its citizens expect.

Syria hosted a conference of Harvard Arab Alumni with Asma leading the event.

The website was enthusiastic about Mrs. Assad’s role in Syrian national life and the connection between her work and that of her husband’s: ‘‘In her role as Syria’s first lady, Her Excellency Asma al-Assad applies her experience, energy, and influence to her country’s social and cultural development. Her role reflects the significant economic, political and social change that is happening in Syria today. Asma al-Assad’s work supports that of President Bashar al-Assad by fostering the emergence of a robust, independent and self-sustaining civil society.’’

Harvard Arab Alumni met in Damascus, “Under the Patronage of H.E. Mrs. Asma al-Assad, The First Lady of Syria.” “We are honored that Harvard Vice Provost for International Affairs, Prof. Jorge Dominguez, will be joining us in Damascus to deliver the Harvard Guest Address.

In 2010, French Elle voted Asma “the most stylish woman in world politics,” and Paris Match called her “an eastern Diana,” a “ray of light in a country full of shadow zones.”

Even US Politicians appreciated and admired the Assads before this war bloody war was waged on the sovereign nation. Paying them visits and speaking about them in positive and affirmative tones.

Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi stood on Syrian soil in April 2007 and famously declared that “the road to Damascus is a road to peace.” During her visit, Pelosi had an enjoyable shopping tour through Damascus markets.

Even Secretary of State Hillary Clinton bought the Assad-is-a-reformer narrative, telling CBS News on March 27, 2011: “There is a different leader in Syria now. Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he’s a reformer.

Senator John Kerry, President Obama’s former informal envoy to Syria. Kerry feverishly pushed to revive diplomatic engagement with the Assad regime. Indeed, he was a frequent guest of Bashar’s; the two men and their wives were known to dine together in Damascus and discuss bilateral relations. He delivered a speech in Washington that heaped praise on Assad for the generosity he personally extended to the former Democratic presidential candidate during his many visits to Damascus.

All seemed well in Syria according to politicians and media alike. Was that all just a front? Were they all lying? Or were they dubbed into believing something that wasn’t true? Maybe they were tricked? Could it be that the Assad’s had put them all under a spell? No, no, no.  They were not handed a memo yet that going forward they would be limited to derogatory terms and hate speech however ridiculous or nonsensical it may be when speaking about the Assad’s. It was a requirement or else they would face ridicule much like what happened to Vogue Magazine after they published their article on the first lady. They needed to quickly recant their support, respect, and admiration in order to fit with the new script. New terminology would replace the old, regime and dictator instead of government and president. Also, going forward all mainstream media outlets are required to mention barrel bombs, chemical weapons, and how the US will protect and save poor Syrians who are being bombed by their “brutal dictator” by well.. bombing them. Wait.. what?

Why this sudden change in March 2011? Simply because mainstream media completely flipped it’s script and started to demonize this “Rose in the Desert” along with her husband President Dr. Bashar Al Assad in an all-out propaganda campaign that fit the US/NATO “regime change” narrative. Asma Al-Assad never was nor is she evil. President Bashar Al Assad is not a ruthless dictator but instead they both are very much loved and respected in THEIR country by their people which is all that should matter. Before this invasion took place in 2011 and over 300,000 foreign mercenaries came in from over 80 countries, Syria was one of the safest countries in the world, and the only secular, nonsectarian and united country in the Middle East. For the first ten years of his presidency there were no major issues, no bombings, beheadings by terrorists, none of that so how is this something that President Bashar brought to the country? That is a huge misconception, one of many that the western media has helped instill in the minds of gullible people who have completely refused to use logic and critical thinking or to even question what they are being told.

The agenda in most mainstream media outlets globally soon became to destroy the first Assad’s image by any means possible, with a proliferation of lies and negative press. The same demonization that was used previously by imperialist nations in pursuit of destabilizing yet another country in the region. The modus operandi was the same, create an over the top propaganda media campaign to win the public’s sympathy and wage a “humanitarian intervention” in order to save the people of a country from their corrupt “dictatorship” run government by ousting the elected president, installing a puppet president approved by the US/NATO, stealing their resources, and establishing a long-term military base on the pretense that they are helping to rebuild the nation they themselves unapologetically destroyed. Much like they did with other countries they were “spreading democracy” in prior such as Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya etc.

The plethora of articles one will find by doing a simple google search that reek of propaganda and are filled to the rim with bias, sectarian hate speech, and outright lies is profound. For the knowledgeable reader, they are simply infuriating to read.

I have included one such propaganda spewing article below published by The Guardian and some interesting information I found about the author as well.

Asma al-Assad is a cheerleader for evil. Her UK citizenship should be revoked” was written by Nadhim Zahawi.

In this poorly written and utterly pathetic excuse for an article, Zahawi states “The Assad regime has a seemingly infinite capacity for evil, and an inability to be touched by compassion. At the very best he is dangerously deluded about what is happening, and the atrocities he has ordered. But most likely he is a monster.” Even though his article was supposedly about Asma Al-Assad he took whatever invalid and fact-deprived hits that he could at her husband as well.

Interestingly enough Mr. Zahawi a Kurdish Iraqi politician who visited Syria in 2011 and resides in the U.K. also had this to say “Removing Mrs. Assad’s citizenship is not illegal, because she is also a citizen of Syria. The home secretary has the power to do so when she believes it would be “conducive to the public good”. Asma al-Assad should never be welcome in our country again.” On that note, I hope Mr. Zahawi is forbidden to return to Syria as well.

After looking into Mr. Zahawi a little further I found that he is the vice-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Kurdistan Region in Iraq, which receives secretarial support from Gulf Keystone Petroleum International, an oil company of which Zahawi is Chief Strategy Officer. Concerns have been raised about how MPs’ independence might be compromised by such links between APPGs and private companies, and specifically about how Zahawi’s connections with the oil industry affect his role as MP. Zahawi has been co-chair or vice-chair of this APPG since it was established in 2008/9. Also worth noting, in November 2013 Zahawi “apologized unreservedly” after The Sunday Mirror reported that he had claimed £5,822 expenses for electricity for his horse riding school stables and a yard manager’s mobile home.[19] Zahawi said the mistake arose because he received a single bill covering both a meter in the stables and one in his house. He would repay the money though the actual overcharge was £4,000.[20] An article in The Independent also drew attention to the number of legitimate but “trivial” items on Zahawi’s expenses.

In January 2011, Zahawi appeared in the Commons debate discussing the end of the Education Maintenance Allowance scheme wearing a musical tie which proceeded to play during his contribution. The Deputy Speaker advised him to be more selective when choosing ties to avoid a musical accompaniment to debate in the chamber.

An investigation by the Guardian has revealed close links between a Conservative MP and two companies based in a tax haven. Nadhim Zahawi has financial ties to Balshore Investments and Berkford Investments, which operate from a lawyer’s’ office in Gibraltar. He does not declare a connection to either company on the MPs’ register of interests.

The same script in mainstream media is used repeatedly yet people still fall for it. Isn’t it time for the masses to recognize this repetition and bring an end to these bankers wars based on lies? We are all of one race, the human race and we need to end these countries destructive imperialist driven plots. World domination by the elite is not in the best interest of humanity.

The United States has been practicing this destructive behavior in toppling sovereign nations for their own benefit since 1898. New imperial influence of U.S. (1898-1917): New territories gained in Spanish American War: Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, Philippines. Up until present day with Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Syria, Venezuela, the Philippines etc. At some point, this bloodshed has to end. Sovereignty has to be preserved. Cultures and customs need to be protected against greedy nations who only have their own best interest at heart. Whether it be neo-colonialism, imperialism, economic imperialism, etc. These ruthless regimes will do whatever it takes to complete their bloody missions.

Antikrieg TV -In 2010, the Syria’s First Lady Asma al-Assad talked to diplomats and intellectuals at the Paris Diplomatic Academy. She spoke without notes, about Syria’s history and how that heritage informs daily life.

“Some often ask me how then can Syria remain stable, moderate and influential in a region that is increasingly being surrounded by extremism, ideologism (sic), sectarianism and all other forms of negative perceptions in our society,” she told the gathering. “The typical answer I get is because of military, political, security reasons. Again, I believe I have a different view.

“It’s the very essence of our culture. It’s what our history teaches us of openness and engagement,” she said. “It’s the sense of identity and pride that we have knowing who we are in the world and knowing what we’ve contributed to the world over thousands of years that give us that sense of stability and that sense of moderation.

“Some of you might think I am talking politics. … Trust me, I have no interest in politics,” she continued. “My interests are elsewhere. But living in the region for as long as I have, I realize that politics affects every facet of our lives.”

Many people who have never heard of Syria before it became front page news after this imposed war was launched by outside forces on it’s land, think they have the right to speak ill about a nation that people like myself are originally from. Their profound arrogance is matched by their ignorance. What they may not realize is that they are indirectly contributing to the bloodshed by spreading this false propaganda. It would be better for them to never speak about Syria than for them to carelessly spread information that is nothing more than dirty gossip that they heard on their T.V. If they truly care, they need to educate themselves by reading and watching alternative media sources and listening to independent journalists, that do not have a vested interest in seeing Syria crumble and fall into the hands of the vultures in the West and their allies.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on Asma Al-Assad: How Western Media turned “A Rose in the Desert” into “A Cheerleader for Evil”


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