Chronique Hebdo: The Truth about Syria

An independent Canadian journalist and rights activist, Eva Bartlett; Sara Flounders, co-founder of ‘International Action against Capitalism’ (IAC)

and a woman lawyer present a report to a United Nations commission on how corporate media have supported the United States and European governments and spread lies and misconceptions on the Syrian issue.

Right from the outset, the protagonists have spent long periods in Syria and interacted with both government officials, figureheads of local associations, NGOs and the different groups that Syria is composed of. Ground experience of the country, the people and the conflicts that have plunged the country into destruction and chaos prompt the activists to deliver their first-hand reports to the United Nations with a view to presenting the other side of the story, and informing the world about the strategy of the US and its allies to win world public opinion on their side by distorting truth through international media agencies.

A skewed picture of the Syrian president, Bashir-al-Assad as a heartless bloodthirsty dictator who has no mercy on his own people was the first step taken by the western allies in the vilification campaign of the Syrian leader. In actual fact, what angers the US, Britain, France and their Middle-Eastern allies, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey in the first years of conflict is the resistance put up by President Assad, his army and the people against rebels: many of them were foreigners in Syria who were armed by the external powers, including Israel, to topple the President of a sovereign country. Then, what is called world media took care to depict the refugee migrant crisis on television and in the press as an inevitable outcome of Assad’s reckless bombardment of the cities. Obviously, countries across the world never get the opportunity to hear the President’s point of view aired on television, or that of the army and civilians from all ethnic groups who joined the army to protect their country.

Sara Flounders denounces the hypocrisy of western allies about the sufferings of civilians. The only international body that has been around lately is a UK-US funded agency which brings aid only to rebels sponsored by them to oust the President. Otherwise, it is the Syrian government which provides food to people, keep schools and universities open by all means, ensure day-care service for younger children, organize programs for women to learn skills and give psychological support. She is impressed by what a government under sanctions can still provide to its people in terms of aid, education and equipment in hospitals, which the US, the richest country in the world does not give to its people. The primary cause of economic hardships, she states, is the sanctions imposed by the US on Syria since 1998. The negative fallout of sanctions is that people become so desperate that they do desperate things.

Syria is by and large a secular country with different groups, Sunni majority, Shias and Alawites supporting the secular system. Extremist forces from other countries have been unleashed in Syria to create division and draw secular rebels into radical organisations. Syrians are a united people and they are fully aware of the divisive forces from abroad presenting them as rival groups and the whole situation as a pro and against President Assad issue. Though the Arab Spring sparked some hope for political change, the present chaos is not what Syrians wanted.

On the eve of the evacuation of Aleppo, Israel was still dropping bombs on Syrian government forces. While the army was liberating Aleppo, the allied forces created diversion by making the rebels attack Palmyra. Throughout the conflict allied forces have not only received military equipment from foreign powers but also high-tech communication facilities to fully coordinate the war against the political leadership.

As an anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist organisation, IAC lays bare all the machinery set up after the collapse of the Soviet Union to fill the vacuum with American hegemonic global leadership. It started with US foreign policy under Bush administration. The objective is an absolute domination of the globe, making it impossible for other rivals to emerge on the scene, trying to partition any country which has enough strength to resist. Saddam Hussein and General Gaddafi were strong leaders of sovereign countries who had to be eliminated for the grand imperialist plan to succeed.

The Obama administration is perceived as having no other choice than implement the same general policy with the support of the media. We beg to differ on this point, however. It seems that Obama deliberately let Russia have a free hand in the Syrian conflict, in an attempt to normalize relations without any official statement, before presidential candidate Trump aired his views on the topic. Similarly, Obama brought Iran to the negotiating table on the nuclear deal.

Demonisation of leaders in countries targeted by the US bears testimony to the greater role of the media in the imperialist project. French President and the media constantly refer to the Syrian President as ‘the butcher of Damas’, in an attempt to influence public opinion on the urgency of a regime change.

Right now, no western media are broadcasting President Assad’s offer of amnesty to Syrian rebels inviting them to reconciliation and appeasement.

The BBC, the Guardian, the New York Times and other media gave little coverage to the war in Yemen at the beginning, and when they did, they talked about Saudi Arabian planes bombarding Shia Houthis. Saudi Arabia has no independent air force, all the operation was planned and carried out by the American military based in Saudi Arabia. A point which mainstream international media had rather not shout on rooftops.

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Gas Pipelines and Geopolitics

The defeat of the rebel forces highlights the determination of the Syrian President to save his country with the help of Russia, Iranian soldiers on the battlefields, military equipment from Iran and the Hezbollah from Lebanon.

Why was Syria the target of the US? Only because it was second on the “axis of evil” devised by Bush, the hawks around him and the right-wing Christian fundamentalists who fully supported him ? The Arab Spring gave the opportunity to the US and its allies to foment trouble and arm protesters in Syria. Why?

President Assad is another strong leader who is thwarting the western imperialist plan and the interests of Saudi Arabia and Qatar. In 2000 Qatar proposed to build a 1000 km pipeline for ten billion dollars, which would pass through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Turkey to bring natural gas to Europe. President Assad would not let them. Hence, the plan to use rebels and terrorists to topple the Alawi-led regime of Assad and turn Syria into a Sunni Wahhabi Islamic State. In Putin’s point of view, the Qatar pipeline is a NATO plot to change the status quo, deprive Russia of its only foothold in the Middle-East, strangle the Russian economy and end Russia’s leverage in the European energy market. Russia sells 70% of its gas export to Europe. The Qatar-Turkey pipeline is viewed as an existential threat to Russia.

Why is NATO, spearheaded by Germany and France, so nervous about every move of the Russian President to step out of his boundary and assert his presence in other territories? Putin wants Europe to be prosperous for trade purposes but he also wants a disunited Europe which would carry less weight in undermining Russia’s geopolitical and economic plan. A disunited Europe is a nightmare to Germany and France.

Saudi Arabia’s political status quo is a key component of US interests: energy needs (though decreasingly now), global leadership, the security of Israel, the containment of Russia’s implicit agenda. Saudi Arabian nationalism is a threat to US plan, and it is coming from leftist socialist movements. The toppling of the Saudi royal family will bring a radical change in the kingdom and the Middle-East. There have been attempts to take Prince Salman’s life by religious extremists. The regime sent about 45 socialist activists to the gallows this year. It is likely, though there is no evidence, that the leftist secular movement is supported by International Action against Capitalism which is also viewed as anti-Zionist, and WWP, Workers World Party of which Sara Flounders is also a member. With Russia’s backing?

It came as no surprise that soon after Syrian President came out as the winner of the war, western powers lost no time in demanding the dismantling of Syria through corporate western media. With Assad still at the helm of political leadership, the “axis of evil” plan comes to a halt, and it is unlikely that Iran, the third target on the list, will be directly drawn into a military conflict. A paradigm shift in Middle-East geopolitics is on the roadmap, with Syria, Russia, Iran, and now, Turkey since Erdogan’s fright of the coup against him led him to warm up with Russia.

At least, US President-elect Trump calls a spade a spade. He is more of a businessman than a politician. In the pre-election campaign, he denounced the failure of the warmongering policy of the US disastrous foreign policy in the Middle-East. It only brought destruction and chaos, gulping down two trillion dollars from public funds in Syria only. China, he said, is getting oil from the Middle-East without spending a single dollar in the conflicts. Trump wants America to have its share of oil. And how he is going to collect funds from the Gulf countries to rebuild Syria, as he declared, remains to be seen. The other question is: Does Syria need the very forces that helped to destroy it for its reconstruction?

Nita Chicooree-Mercier

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