ISIS and the Media

Where do all these matching outfits come from?
Where do all these matching outfits come from?

The corporate media are constantly referring to ISIS’s ‘slick and far-reaching propaganda capabilities’ and so on, but if it wasn’t for their own dissemination of ISIS-produced propaganda then the group would just be another actor in the Middle East. It is likely due to the mass amount of media coverage they have received in the West that has encouraged other Takfiri groups to align themselves with ISIS, and for Western citizens (like the couple in San Bernadino) to carry out attacks that ISIS supposedly then claim responsibility for. After various terror attacks in the West we are informed by the media that ISIS has claimed responsibility, but this is the same media that has told lie after lie about Syria and acts on behalf of those who would prefer that ISIS rules in Damascus rather than the current state that is an opponent of US imperialism.

I was just re-reading the interview that the German journalist Jürgen Todenhöfer gave to RT about the time he spent with ISIS, and the safety precautions it was necessary for him to take:

Jürgen Todenhöfer: I know Syria very well. I love Syria, I’ve been there dozen times, and I like Iraq, I’ve spent a lot of time before the war and during the war, and after the war; and, for example, in Syria, I spoke to all the groups: Al-Qaeda, Jabhat al-Nusra, the FSA, I spoke several times to president Bashar al-Assad, and, suddenly IS became very strong and I wanted to get the information – who are these terrorists? What is making them so strong? Why so many German jihadists go to the so-called Islamic State? So, together with my son, we wrote on Facebook letters to about 80 German jihadists. We got 15 answers, and out of these 15, in the end we had a guy from another, not that known terrorist group, and a guy from IS, and then this IS guy told us he was not allowed to speak with me anymore – I would be called by somebody else who is named by the leadership, and I had somebody from propaganda department, from media department, and so I had the connections – every normal journalist could have done the same.

Sophie Shevardnadze (interviewer): Okay, but, this is really playing with fire – who was that person who actually gave you the safe passage? Because journalists, you know, they get beheaded by ISIS all the time – we see it on YouTube, almost like weekly, so…
JD: I know. Even a friend of mine.
SS: Yes. So why were you sure that they wouldn’t change their mind and just take you hostage? I mean, the safe passage papers were just papers…how could you be sure that they weren’t fake, or they would protect you?
JD: I discussed via Skype with this guy from the media department, sometimes it took 2 hours, 3 hours, about the possibilities, about the guarantees and everything. To be sure, because my son, for example, always said “It’s a trick, they will behead you, they need German hostage!”, I had the impression that they gave the invitation as the Islamic State, as a state, and they wanted to show that if they give a guarantee by the state, they will stick to this guarantee. They have published it, I asked them to publish this guarantee on Twitter, I’ve been waiting some days to see if the real leadership would deny this invitation, they did not deny anything, and so I took the risk. For me, these 6 months when I was thinking “will I com back alive? Will I survive?” were harder than the 10 days in the Islamic State, because there I was sure…

SS: Are you saying that if journalists have actually followed your example and negotiated an official invitation from Islamic State, they would have spared their lives?
JD: Not everybody. Specialists – yes, because we are known as specialists for the Arab world, for the Muslim world, we have written books about it, we have our books translated into Arabic – and they have the feeling that we don’t go to such a country for show, but we try to find out the truth, and that we want to tell the truth. What I think they wanted to show to me…I always had to think – “what do they want?” – they wanted to show that they are really a state.

I remember Todenhöfer being touted as the first journalist to interview the Islamic State; quite a big deal was made about his trip. But then what about the five part documentary that Vice News filmed? Did their journalists, film crew etc have to seek the same assurances? It is almost as if the narrative regarding the group – that they are so scary it is almost impossible to get an interview with them – has been created by the mainstream media in order to drum up support for more military intervention in Syria. The Vice News reporter spent ten days embedded with the group in 2014, and this seems to have been met with little fanfare. An article in the Huffington Post, How Vice News Got Unprecedented Access To The Islamic State, merely says that the journalist Medyan Dairieh used his contacts within Syria to gain access.

There is abundant evidence of ISIS’s awful crimes against the people of Syria and Iraq, but the ‘state’ didn’t appear out of nowhere and are not capable of sustaining themselves. Frequently the media tells us that they make all their millions from selling oil, but never delve into how and who they are selling the oil to (although recently there has been an attempt to pin it all on Bashar al Assad).

Today an article in the Washington Times has said that the US does not target ISIS’s media centres in air strikes due to the civilian casualties it might cause. This is quite obviously nonsense, because the US and allies has bombed buildings belonging to local media in everywhere it has waged war, such as Serbia, Iraq and Libya. In the past the US/NATO has claimed that such buildings were legitimate targets due to the propaganda they produced.

The ISIS entity is almost entirely a creation of the imperialist media. They choose what to show us and what to hide.

 

US refuses to bomb Islamic State’s ‘media centers’ over possible civilian casualties

The White Helmets Redefine the Meaning of ‘Neutral’

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The British Foreign Office has spent at least £2.5 million on what it calls ‘search and rescue’ in Syria, stating in a public document on non-humanitarian aid to the country:

To date, twelve 25-man civil defence teams from towns in Idlib
province have received UK-funded training and equipment to carry
out fire-fighting and search & rescue to help save lives. Over the
next six months, additional teams across Northern Syria will be
trained thanks to UK support.

These ‘civil defence teams’ are the White Helmets, which as I have previously written function alongside takfiri groups such as Jahbat al-Nusra; appearing in their propaganda videos and helping them carry out executions. The group are presented as being a completely neutral actor, with their website proclaiming:

The volunteers save people on all sides of the conflict – pledging commitment to the principles of “Humanity, Solidarity, Impartiality” as outlined by the International Civil Defence Organisation. This pledge guides every response, every action, every life saved – so that in a time of destruction, all Syrians have the hope of a lifeline.

The White Helmets mostly deal with the aftermath of government air attacks. Yet they have risked sniper fire to rescue bodies of regime soldiers to give them a proper burial.

Evidence of a supposed regime massacre of civilians - note the bodies are all in military clothing.
Evidence of a supposed regime massacre of civilians – note the bodies are all in military clothing.

However, a recent article in The Telegraph – Assad can stay in power ‘three months or longer’, says Hammond – casually refers to the White Helmets as being composed of regime defectors:

Russian involvement has galvanised rebels from across the ideological spectrum, accelerating defections to Jabhat al Nusra, and sending ripples of anger through the rebel opposition.

On Saturday, the strikes appeared to hit a rescue team in the northwestern province of Idlib. 29 year old Issam al-Saleh was killed in a follow-up air strike as his team searched for survivors from the first.

After defecting from the regime along with his six brothers, Mr Saleh had spent 18 months working with the White Helmets, a team of first responders that has been described as among the bravest in the world.

“Russian and Assad officers will be accounted in the ICC for their crimes against humanity,” said Mr Saleh’s cousin and the leader of the White Helmets, Raed al Saleh.

It is unclear how such people can claim impartiality, and it seems that the Foreign Office has little concern with making such assertions, having tweeted last week:

syriacivildef

Therefore publicly establishing that the White Helmets work on behalf of the British government and the so-called ‘moderate opposition’ (with the opposition really being nothing more than Western intelligence assets to begin with). As one of the main participants working tirelessly to militarily overthrow the Syrian state for the last several years, neither the UK nor the groups it sponsors can in any way be considered as impartial actors in the conflict.

Raed al Saleh, noted in The Telegraph as the group’s leader, has given numerous speeches to the UN, US Congress etc agitating for a no-fly zone to stop ‘the regime’. You can read examples by Googling his name.

The real purpose of the White Helmets project is to provide a constant stream of ‘barrel bomb’ propaganda to Western audiences (sometimes with added chlorine), thus providing a myth which – similar to the myth of the ‘African mercenary’ in Libya 2011 – can be invoked to justify ‘humanitarian intervention’.

Then, in several years time, despite what was once the Syrian Arab Republic remaining engulfed in war and poverty, Western governments can justify – even boast – about attacking the country because they stopped the regime from committing genocide via barrel bomb; with no one pausing to question which particular group the Syrian government and their armed forces were trying to exterminate.

Supposed ‘human rights activists’ are constantly shrieking that there is a genocide taking place in Syria. I once read that we shouldn’t be concerned about a possible future genocide of Alawites when there is currently a genocide of Sunnis going on right now. Yet a majority of the Syrian army is Sunni, and importantly, are actually Syrians; whereas a large majority of the opposition are not Syrian at all. Therefore the reality of the war is in fact the opposite of what the media has been making it out to be for years: of the Syrian people fighting a dictator; that Assad is ‘killing his own people’.

Noam Chomsky once noted:

As for the term ‘genocide,’ perhaps the most honorable course would be to expunge it from the vocabulary until the day, if it ever comes, when honesty and integrity can become an ’emerging norm.’

And so the same can be said of the word ‘neutral’, where now those very same nations who have been investing billions of dollars in destroying Syria seem to think that they can be viewed as honest peace brokers, and groups such as the White Helmets, who are so clearly working on behalf of the opposition, are able to claim that they are not supporting either side.

The US and its poodle the UK are in need of a good dose of reality: perhaps Russia’s intervention in Syria can bring them back down to earth, as this exceptionalist propaganda isn’t fooling anyone anymore.

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/371647/Syria_UK_Non-Humanitarian_Support_-_Public_document__3_Apr___3_.pdf

The West’s Fetishisation of the Kurds

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In every Western mainstream media article on ‘what must be done’ about Daesh, one of the usual answers is to give as much support to ‘the Kurds’ as possible, essentially so they will fight our battles for us (I write ‘the Kurds’ in quotation marks as this the media refers to them as a unified people, rather than consisting of various factions). This is also a frequent sentiment in the comments sections of said articles. The implication of this being that Kurds are superior to Arabs and are more reliable partners. An example of this would be The Telegraph’s article ‘Britain must give the Kurds the tools to lead Iraq out of this mess’. Author John McTernan states:

A few years ago, in a dusty backstreet in Irbil – capital of the Kurdish region of Iraq – I had the privilege to visit an Assyrian church. There have been few more sombre moments in my life than hearing first-hand about the persecution of Iraq’s Christian minority. And even fewer more moving and uplifting than being told that the Kurdish government gave a welcome and a haven to Christians because they believed it was the right thing to do – that such values of tolerance and plurality were part of the reason they had fought hard themselves for autonomy and democracy.

Britain must give the Kurds the tools to lead Iraq out of this mess

While Iraqi Kurdistan is recognised as more tolerant of religious minorities than elsewhere in the country, it is propaganda to claim that all Iraqi Arabs are prejudiced towards Christians and those of other religions. There are plenty of examples of inter-faith bonding and mutual respect in both Iraq and Syria (excluding ISIS and other takfiri groups of course). Obviously what the MSM aren’t saying is that ISIS is completely a construct of foreign powers, and that in this great game to remap the Middle East, the Kurds are being promoted as the ‘good guys’, while Shia Iraqis are demonised – mainly due to the relationship between Shia Islam and our favourite bogeyman Iran. The Western invasion of Iraq led to a mass-exodus of Christians, mainly to Syria, and now they are being driven out of that country as well. However while McTernan says: ‘What is it about the Kurds? Why can they bring wisdom and maturity to political decision-making?’, they still, culturally, have much more in common with their Arab counterparts than what would be considered ‘British values’.

Arab Shia militia member Abu Azrael attending a church service
Arab Shia militia member Abu Azrael attending a church service
In 2007 a Yazidi teenager – Dua Khalil – was stoned to death by a crowd of young men due to suspicions she was having a romantic relationship with a Sunni Muslim boy. Security officers standing by filmed the brutal murder on their phones, and the ‘action’ was available to watch on international news channels such as CNN. It was evident that this footage was captured not due to the horror of the bystanders, but as a method of commemoration; to share it with others.  I make reference to this because ‘we’ in the West tend to associate honour killings with Arabs, Muslims and Sharia law – many Kurds are Muslims (Khalil was Yazidi) – however the practice is more cultural than religious . Dua Khalil was murdered in 2007, but these so-called ‘honor killings’ are still rife in Kurdistan. Johanna Higgs writes:

In Kurdistan, the UN estimates that the number of honor killings might be as high as 50 each month, and that most of the deaths go unreported. One reason that they continue to be a leading cause of death for women may be the increasingly oppressed position of women in Iraqi society. An Iraqi Kurdish writer, Berivan Dosky, wrote in The Guardian that conditions for women in post-war Iraq are a disaster, including in Kurdistan. Dreams of equality and peace that emerged among women after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime (and complicated by the United States’ invasion) have diminished, as many women still bear the burden of their families’ honor.

In Kurdistan and Beyond, Honor Killings Remind Women they are Worthless

This contrasts wildly with the image we are given in the West, of a Kurdish egalitarian oasis, surrounded by savage Arabs (similar to the depiction we are presented with of Israel). It is important to note however that the Kurds are not one homogeneous group – Iraqi Kurds are not the same as Syrian, Iranian and Turkish Kurds, and within each country there are multiple factions that don’t all get along with one another. Therefore while Kurdish women in Syria may be more equal to their male counterparts, there is huge gender inequality in Iraq.

Gender rights for all Iraqi women regressed by decades as a result of the US-led invasion. To read a first-hand account of a young (Arab) woman living through the occupation, visit Baghdad Burning (start from the bottom of the page and read upwards). The author’s story of no longer being able to leave the house without a male relative and her head uncovered, plus losing her job due to her gender, is heartbreaking.

To return to the Kurds: female genital mutilation is also widespread. Wikipedia states:

Human Rights Watch reported that female genital cutting is practiced mainly by Kurds in Iraqi Kurdistan, reportedly 60% percent of Kurdish women population have undergone this procedure, although the KRG claimed that the figures are exaggerated. Girls and women receive conflicting and inaccurate messages from public officials on its consequences. The Kurdistan parliament in 2008 passed a draft law outlawing the practice, but the ministerial decree necessary to implement it, expected in February 2009, was cancelled. As reported to the Centre for Islamic Pluralism by the non-governmental organization Stop FGM in Kurdistan, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq, on 25 November, officially admitted the wide prevalence in the territory of female genital mutilation (FGM). Recognition by the KRG of the frequency of this custom among Kurds came during a conference program commemorating the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. On 27 November 2010, the Kurdish government officially admitted to violence against women in Kurdistan and began taking serious measures. 21 June 2011 The Family Violence Bill was approved by the Kurdistan Parliament, it includes several provisions criminalizing the practice.

Human rights in Iraqi Kurdistan

Additionally, it is not just females that suffer oppression from cruel laws and practices. In a current ongoing case, a young man – Yousef Muhammad Ali – is on trial for criticising Islam. The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) write:

BACKGROUND

Yousef Muhammad Ali who spent many years studying Islam and Sharia law made a presentation in school on the Big Bang Theory. Islamists in his class instigated a fatwa against him. Also he faced threats when he criticised Islam on Facebook. Upon receiving a number of death threats, he contacted the police and filed a grievance against a perpetrator. His case was sent to a public tribunal in Darbandikhan, which rather than address the threats to Yousef Muhammad Ali’s life, had him arrested. He was then transferred to Sulaymaniyah jail. On 15th December 2014, his sentence was renewed until the 22nd December 2014. After campaigning by rights activists and journalists in Kurdistan and abroad he was released on bail on 17 December 2014. His hearing date is on 13 July 2015.

CEMB are asking the public to support Yousef by writing to the Kurdish authorities; addresses can be found here: Yousef Muhammad Ali faces trial on 13 July for criticising Islam.

* His trial date has since been moved to the 14th of September. To read a letter from Yousef discussing his situation, please visit: Yousef Muhammad Ali trial date set for 14 September.

Yousef’s case is the kind of story we would expect to hear in relation to Saudi Arabia, but in reality the Western public know little about the Kurds that we profess so much support for. The above examples are by no means an attempt to bash the Kurds, but only serve to highlight that they are hardly the Westernised partners they’re made out to be.

It seems like every time you hear a British or American politician on TV giving their opinion on defeating ISIS, their answer is sending more weapons to the Kurds. In reality, to the US, both the YPG and the Peshmerga are nothing more than their proxy force on the ground enabling the carving up of Syria and Iraq. It is evident that serious airstrikes against Daesh only take place to aid Kurdish forces, such as in Kobani, Tal Abyad and Erbil. No doubt the Americans will create a Kurdistan homeland for their allies against ISIS, but only because doing so is a step towards remaking the Middle East into a number of ethnically and religiously homogeneous statelets in the service of America and Israeli imperialism and for easier control of oil reserves, rather than a genuine desire to help their long-oppressed pawns.

A 'hypothetical future' Iraq and Syria, as conjured up by the State Dept. funded Radio Free Europe
A ‘hypothetical future’ Iraq and Syria, as conjured up by the State Dept. funded Radio Free Europe
The Kurds must also be warned that accepting aid from America/NATO comes at a price, therefore they will likely have to give up some form of their sovereignty in return for independence. Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, is essentially an American outpost in Iraq. An oil town, it is home to an American consulate, and is filled with thousands of American workers and five star hotels, while the 

The White Helmets: not so ‘unarmed and neutral’

The White Helmets, or ‘Syrian Civil Defence’, claim to be a private non-profit company registered in the UK.

They call themselves:

A global advocacy group standing in solidarity with non-violent Syrians and their struggle for a peaceful and dignified future.

They began their campaign 3 years into the Syrian insurgency…just when the Syrian army’s luck seemed to be on the upside…

We started on the 3rd anniversary of the uprising at a time when Syria was slipping off the media and political agendas of countries around the world. The violence has never been as fierce as it is now or the humanitarian needs as great. Now more than ever the world needs to engage on Syria.

about-the-bombs

helmets-logo


helmets-yet-again unarmed-neutral

They only seem to operate in areas controlled by the al-Nusra Front (al-Qaeda) such as Idlib…

and can be seen here cleaning up after a Nusra execution in Aleppo…

They were standing right off-camera with a body-bag at the ready.

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…notice the logo?

Watch the video for yourself… (graphic)

https://vid.me/e/uHCh

Here’s the post-execution statement they released:

whitehelmets

However the images below highlight the complicity between the so-called ‘NGO’ and Nusra.

They have huge media access and are behind most claims of ‘Assad’s chlorine barrel bombs’…

From the Guardian:

guardian

Assad regime accused of 35 chlorine attacks since mid-March

Here they can be seen jubilantly waving the Nusra black flag…

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white-helmets-again-2

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and here (minus a White Helmet uniform) holding a weapon:
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This time in uniform and armed:

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Who are they?

The Syria Campaign’s four listed ‘campaigners’ have worked for companies such as the BBC and Avaaz – both known for their rabid anti-Syria propaganda. The BBC disgraced itself with its ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ episode of Panorama (see Fabrication in BBC Panorama’s ‘Saving Syria’s Children for more details), as well as numerous other outright lies on the conflict,

This image was actually taken by photographer Marco di Lauro in Iraq, 2003.
This image was actually taken by photographer Marco di Lauro in Iraq, 2003.

and Avaaz for its countless petitions calling for a no-fly zone.

avaaz

Basically they are what is now par for the course in these imperialistic proxy interventions: a shadowy non-governmental organisation funded by governments and their corporate cronies, and passing themselves off as being motivated solely by altruism. It was a letter signed by dozens of NGOs such as Human Rights Watch that resulted in the UN Security Council voting to implement a no-fly zone over Libya in 2011, based on wild claims which all turned out to be false. We know how that turned out; unleashing a similar hell on the whole of Syria would be far worse.

https://thesyriacampaign.org/about/

 http://voiceproject.org/

Hillary Clinton is not a Feminist

Hillary-Clinton-Israel

Hillary Clinton says she’s a feminist, and claimed, astonishingly, while promoting her book “Hard Choices” last year:

“Women and girls … [are] central to our foreign policy,” saying that countries that value the rights of women are “less likely to breed extremism.”

However this statement is completely at odds with her actions as Secretary of State, such as with Libya – of which it has been said was her own project rather than Obama’s – where she put her own vile agenda ahead of the rights of women in Libya, which were light-years ahead of most other Middle Eastern countries. Since the death of Gaddafi, the rights of Libyan women have been rolled back by decades, with them now having to leave the house covering their heads, if not also their faces. It should be noted that the leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) – Abdelhakim Belhadj – whose group was backed by NATO air strikes and who afterwards had his photograph taken with leading Washington warmongers John McCain and Lindsey Graham, is now said to be leading ISIS in Libya.

Clinton was also central to the “Friends of Syria” group, an ironic name if ever there was one, which advocates for the violent overthrow of the country’s President Bashar al-Assad. Syria is also one of the few countries in the Middle East where women are treated as human beings. In November, Al Arabiya reported that nightlife has returned to the besieged ancient city of Aleppo. In the government-held half citizens dance the night away underneath the lasers, even on weeknights…whilst in the rebel-held half of the city, cafes and restaurants are divided into men only and family sections, and women do not leave the house without their husbands.

On the Israeli-Palestinian issue she has staunchly defended Israel’s massacres in Gaza, and has said that if she were the Israeli Prime Minister, she would not give up “security” in the West Bank, suggesting that she does not support a two-state solution.

Therefore, Hillary proclaiming herself a feminist, and her claim that women’s rights are important to the Obama administration’s foreign policy is crude and absurd. As Kelley Vlahos wrote in The American Conservative last year:

Hillary Clinton just may prove to be what the defense establishment has been waiting for, and more. Superior to all in money, name recognition, and influence, she is poised to compete aggressively for the Democratic nomination for president. She might just win the Oval Office. And by most measures she would be the most formidable hawk this country has seen in a generation.

“It is clear that she is behind the use of force in anything that has gone on in this cabinet. She is a Democratic hawk and that is her track record. That’s the flag she’s planted,” said Gordon Adams, a national security budget expert who was an associate director in President Bill Clinton’s Office of Management and Budget.

Karen Kwiatkowski, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who has spent her post-service days protesting the war policies in Iraq and Afghanistan, is more blunt. “Interventionism is a business and it has a constituency and she is tapping into it,” she tells TAC. “She is for the military industrial complex, and she is for the neoconservatives.”

Clinton in a state of ecstasy when asked about the brutal death of Gaddafi:

References:

Hillary Clinton Wants You to Call Her a Feminist
http://time.com/2864425/hillary-clinton-hard-choices-feminist/

Washington’s Al Qaeda Ally Now Leading ISIS in Libya
http://landdestroyer.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/washingtons-al-qaeda-ally-now-leading.html

The Military-Industrial Candidate
http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/the-military-industrial-candidate/

Sliver of Aleppo’s once thriving nightlife returns
http://english.alarabiya.net/en/perspective/features/2014/11/23/Echoes-of-a-once-famed-nightlife-of-Aleppo.html

The Ominous Symbolism of Libya & Syria’s Rebel Flags

There is something slightly ominous about the reemergence of a number of colonial-era flags in the twenty-first century.

Libya
In 2011 rebel militias in Libya took the old flag of the Kingdom of Libya as their standard, and this is now used as the official Libyan flag in the post-Gaddafi era.

Flag of the Kingdom of Libya under King Idris (1951-1969), and the current Libyan flag since 2011.

Although this symbol – red, black and green with a white star and crescent in the centre – was used in the African nation following its independence in 1951, ordinary Libyans continued to be treated like second-class citizens during this period, as the country was home to several British and American military installations. The bloodless coup that brought Colonel Muammar Gaddafi  to power took place in 1961. In 1977 he renamed the state the “Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya” –  “Jamahiriya” roughly translating to “state of the masses” – and the country’s flag was reborn as a plain green field.

Flag of the “Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya,” from 1977-2011.

Despite the simplicity of this insignia-free flag, it was a powerful representation of Libya’s national identity, with the green symbolising both Gaddafi’s Green Book, and green being the traditional colour of Islam.

Syria
As with Libya, the armed groups currently attempting to overthrow the government of Syria – led by President Bashar al Assad – have raised the banner that first came into being as the country struggled to win its independence from France in the 1930s.

Flag of the Syrian Republic, from 1930-1958, and current standard used by the SNC and FSA.

However, despite the creation of a treaty of independence to end official French rule in 1936, the French government refused to accept this agreement. Due to the outbreak of WWII and the fall of France in 1940, Syrian independence was deferred until after the war.

Khaled Kamal, an official of the Syrian National Council, has commented: “We are using the old flag because it symbolises independence. It’s a symbol of independence and the end of the Bashar regime.”

Flag of Syria, 1980-present.

 The Financial Times says that the return to such earlier flags in Libya and Syria is an attempt by the opposition to distance themselves ideologically from both country’s periods of Arab nationalism. Despite the Western-backed SNC’s insistence that the old flag represents independence, it can alternatively be considered as an emblem of dependence; dependence on the old colonial powers – and the new American superpower – for survival. This is certainly true when considering that the SNC consists of Western-educated elites that haven’t set foot in Syria for years – possibly decades.

In reality war is being waged on Syria for refusing to give up its sovereignty to the forces of globalisation, just as Libya was destroyed by NATO for it’s self-determination. Syria is one of the world’s remaining nations to have a state-run banking system and gold reserves which fall outside of the global private central banking syndicate; Iran is another, and Libya was pre-2011. The use of these twentieth century flags by the proxy armies are a sinister symbol of the fate that awaits those nations whom attempt to follow an independent path.

Iran be warned.

References:

Syrian rebels raise a flag from the past
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/6c332676-32f4-11e1-8e0d-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3UFIkUyFD

Response from my MP regarding the government’s plan to send military “advisers” to Ukraine

Below is the response I received to the email I sent to my MP – David Hamilton, Labour –  regarding David Cameron’s decision to send 75 military “advisers” to Ukraine, despite a new ceasefire having just been negotiated in the Normandy Four format (ie. between France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine). The text from my email can be found here. I have heard that France has distanced itself from Cameron’s plan, and that Hollande’s administration is still committed to reaching a diplomatic settlement. Yesterday President Putin met with Gérard Larcher – the President of the French Senate – in Moscow, further highlighting the conciliatory tone between the two nations. Read details from their meeting here.

 

Dear Ms Stephenson

Thank you for your email with your concerns on David Cameron’s position on Ukraine.

I am aware that David Cameron announced that UK military trainers are to be deployed to help Ukraine forces stave off further Russian backed incursions into its sovereign territory.

This decision has been under consideration by the UK national security council since late last year and it would be the first deployment of British troops to the country since the near civil war in eastern Ukraine began more than a year ago.

This is part of a training mission providing advice on medical training, logistics, intelligence analysis and infantry training.  I understand that this is an action meant to alert the Russians that Britain does not approve of further large scale occupations of towns in Ukraine

David Cameron has also argued for tougher sanctions against Moscow if Russia backed militias in eastern Ukraine and failed to observe the provisions of a ceasefire agreement.

This is indeed a worrying situation and it may of course fuel Russia’s wrath with the EU and needs to be handled delicately.

I like you, agree it is not as black and white as it seems.  We need to take a more even handed approach to what is happening.  I was extremely disappointed that we were not there along with the Germans and the French at the summit that was held with Russia and the Ukraine.

I am also deeply concerned about the state of the other countries in the region.  However for my part and my Party  I will be keeping a very close eye on the situation.

Thank you for sharing your views.

Regards

DAVID HAMILTON MP
Member of Parliament for Midlothian

 

I was disappointed that Hamilton did not address my concerns regarding the contradiction between sending British soldiers and supporting the Minsk agreement, which requires all foreign troops to leave the country. It is also discouraging to see references to ‘Russian backed incursions’ and ‘Russia’s wrath with the EU’, but no mention of the will of the people of Eastern Ukraine, who have been living under constant shelling for almost a year now. It seems like there is little difference between Hamilton’s view of the situation and that of the PM. However, another member of the Labour Party – I’ve forgotten who – said in an interview to RT this week that there was a great deal of disapproval to Cameron’s maneuver in Parliament. This was due to its inflammatory nature, and because the announcement was made having only been decided by a few members of  Cameron’s Cabinet – rather than following a debate in the House of Commons and with widespread support.

While John Kerry and Joe Biden insist that there’s been no split within the US/EU/NATO countries on how to approach the situation and ‘deal with’ Russia, it seems like this honeymoon phase of the coalition may truly be at an end now. While most of Europe seems to favour a rapprochement with Russia; the US, UK, Canada, Poland and the Baltic states are clamoring for more sanctions and won’t rule out sending weapons. Since Cameron’s announcement, Poland has declared that it will now send 100 trainers, with Canada likely to follow. At this rate Putin doesn’t need to do anything in retaliation, he can merely sit back and watch as the EU caves in on itself once and for all.

Scrapping the South Stream: A Win for Obama and Merkel?

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This week President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia would no longer be building its South Stream natural gas pipeline. The scrapping of the pipeline was hailed as a victory for the EU and America, who have been at odds with Russia over its annexation of Crimea and the Ukrainian civil war since March. The South Stream was planned to bypass Ukraine, instead travelling through Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary and Austria. Following Putin’s cancellation, an alternative route through Turkey is in the process of being devised. The BBC have framed this announcement as positive news for those who are now missing out:

Russia’s critics have long argued that, parallel to nuclear expansion, gas pipelines constitute “the long fingers of the Kremlin”, opening the way for political as well as economic influence. So this decision is a dramatic change of direction.

“It may be a bluff,” said Martin Vladimirov, an energy specialist at the Centre for the Study of Democracy in Sofia, “to pressurise the Bulgarian, Serbian, Hungarian and Austrian governments to unite behind accelerating the project, and make a better case for it to the European Commission”.

However, he favours a second explanation, that South Stream is “simply too big a burden” amid the difficult financial situation facing Russia’s state-owned giant Gazprom.

However, the article then goes on to state that the loss has come as a setback to these nations, particularly Hungary and Serbia, both of whom are among Russia’s strongest allies in Europe.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said that his country would have to find alternative gas supplies, as a result of the Russian decision.

But in Ukraine the response to President Putin’s announcement was one of relief.

“The cancellation of South Stream was made for economic reasons, disguised behind a political explanation,” said Andrii Tiurin of Ukrainian nuclear company Energoatom.

“Why spend so much money creating alternative routes to supply the same gas? At a time of low and falling oil prices, why spend so much on a project which is unnecessary for Europe?”

The project may have been deemed unnecessary by Ukraine and others in Washington’s sphere of influence, but this was certainly not the case with Bulgaria, who was set to benefit from the jobs it would create. Putin has since proposed that Bulgaria request compensation for loss of profit from the European Commission. He also made clear that Russia would refocus its gaze to the East:

The pipeline, along with the North Stream pipeline that carries gas to Germany through the Baltic Sea, was meant to bypass Ukraine. Mikhail Krutikhin, a Russian energy analyst, said: “From the beginning this was a political project, and the goal was to punish Ukraine and cut it off from gas flows. It was never economical to spend so much on this pipeline.”

However, Moscow will boost gas supplies to Turkey and Putin said that instead of South Stream, a new hub could be built on the Turkish-Greek border to supply Europe with gas. He also issued a thinly veiled threat to Europe, hinting that since concluding a massive, long-term gas deal with China earlier this year, the European market was no longer that important for Russia, after a year during which the Kremlin has been targeted by western capitals for its role in Ukraine.

“We will re-concentrate our energy resources on other regions of the world,” said Putin. “We will work with other markets and Europe will not receive this gas, at least not from Russia.

“We think this is against Europe’s economic interests and is causing damage to our cooperation.”

The Guardian claims this maneuver is a “threat”; in reality it is a truthful assessment of the current relations between Russia and Europe. Today the US Congress passed a resolution condemning Russia. In addition to calling for an assessment of the “readiness of US and NATO armed forces”, the resolution:

Calls on Ukraine, the European Union (EU), and other European countries to support energy diversification initiatives to reduce the Russian Federation’s ability to use energy supplies as a means of applying political and economic pressure on other countries.

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With this in mind, Russia’s cancellation of the South Stream is in fact one step ahead of Washington’s aims.

Now we get to the interesting part.

As already mentioned, the gas pipeline will now be diverted through Turkey; this was confirmed during a trip by Putin to meet Erdogan in Ankara on Monday. The two leaders also announced that Russia will build Turkey’s first nuclear power plant, as well as a new goal to increase their two-way volume of trade from £21bn to £64bn by 2020. This strengthening of economic ties follow a string of announcements regarding cooperation between Russia and Asia, such as two large gas deals with China,  plans to build several nuclear power stations for Iran, and the future reconstruction of post-war Syria.

It is here that Washington’s plan to isolate Russia falls apart. Mike Whitney states:

The wars in Ukraine and Syria are not really separate conflicts at all. They’re both part of the same global resource war the US has been prosecuting for the last decade and a half. The US plans to cut off the flow of Russian gas and replace it with gas from Qatar which will flow through Syria and onto the EU market after Assad is toppled.

Here’s what’s going on: Syria’s troubles began shortly after it announced that it was going to be part of an “Islamic pipeline” that would transfer natural gas from the South Pars gas field off the coast of Iran across Iraq and Syria, eventually connecting to Greece and the lucrative EU market. According to author Dmitri Minin:

“A gas pipeline from Iran would be highly profitable for Syria. Europe would gain from it as well, but clearly someone in the West didn’t like it. The West’s gas-supplying allies in the Persian Gulf weren’t happy with it either, nor was would-be no. 1 gas transporter Turkey, as it would then be out of the game.” (The Geopolitics of Gas and the Syrian Crisis: Syrian “Opposition” Armed to Thwart Construction of Iran-Iraq-Syria Gas Pipeline, Dmitri Minin, Global Research)

Two months after Assad signed the deal with Iraq and Iran, the rebellion broke out in Syria. That’s quite a coincidence, don’t you think? Funny how frequently those kinds of things happen when foreign leaders don’t march to Washington’s tune.

With Russia’s announcement to reroute its gas through Turkey, the US has been undermined on two fronts: both on Ukraine/Europe and on Syria. Already hampering Obama’s attempts to topple President Assad, the Turkey deal may provide Putin with some additional leverage. It currently seems that the State Department has no strategy when it comes to either conflicts, but is merely bumbling along, reacting to problems as they emerge. Even if Erdogan continues to insist that ‘Assad must go’, Putin’s visit has certainly schooled Obama in terms of diplomacy – highlighting that heads of state can overcome disagreements and find compromises in other areas. This stands in stark contrast to Obama’s disinterested manner – unwilling to so much as talk to those he can’t see eye to eye with.

What is clear is that rather than isolating Russia, the West’s current posturing has actually strengthened its relations with the East – particularly China. As is already evident, if Europe continues to put Washington’s interests before its own, this will only inflict damage on itself in the long-run.

Was Russia’s South Stream too big a ‘burden’ to bear?
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-30289412

Putin blames EU as Russia abandons plans for South Stream gas pipeline
http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/dec/01/russia-blames-eu-as-it-abandons-plans-for-south-stream-gas-pipeline

H.Res.758 – Strongly condemning the actions of the Russian Federation, under President Vladimir Putin, which has carried out a policy of aggression against neighboring countries aimed at political and economic domination.
https://www.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-resolution/758

Defending Dollar Imperialism
http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/12/01/defending-dollar-imperialism/

German Media Reveals ISIS Supply Routes

Germany’s international broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) have released a report containing concrete evidence that supplies for the Islamic State are entering Syria via its Turkish border. Hundreds of trucks containing billions of dollars worth of supplies such as food, weapons, and cement are allowed to pass freely through checkpoints. One driver tells DW that his vehicle is bound for Raqqa – ISIS’s self-appointed capital. Militants are also allowed to cross the border freely, while the Turkish army has used tear gas, water cannon, and even shot dead Turkish Kurds attempting to make their way to Kobani.

Much of the British public has been shocked by the clear display of cooperation between Ankara and ISIS, saying that they should be chucked out of NATO. However NATO teamed up with Islamic militants in its war on Libya in 2011, so Turkey’s attitude is not that different – both the wars on Syria and Libya were fought to remove secular dictators. The ‘coalition’ to fight ISIS had already proved itself to be an utter farce, as the Americans and their Arab ‘partner nations’ have refused to include any of the actors who are actually on the ground fighting the jihadists: the Syrian Arab Army, Hezbollah, and Iran’s Quds Force, preferring instead to ally themselves with all those complicit in the creation of ISIS.

Their campaign to ‘degrade and ultimately destroy’ ISIS has so far failed to do the group any damage, and the US State Department actually released a statement a few days ago condemning the Syrian Air Force’s own strikes on ISIS. This does have to make you wonder what the Americans are trying to achieve here. Other rebel groups are complaining that the US has secretly allied itself with Assad, but with training camps currently being hosted in Qatar and Turkey, and another one planned to operate in Saudi Arabia, it looks like regime change for Syria is still on the menu.