President Assad visits Our Lady of Damascus Church near Syria’s Front-Line

President Assad and his wife Asma visited the Our Lady of Damascus Church last night – a mile away from the rebel-held Jubar district – where they watched a choir rehearsal and took photos with the public.

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In related news, the results are in from my 24 hour Twitter poll:

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No comment.

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

YPG Arrest White Helmets Director

I don’t know any of the details yet, but the Syrian Kurdish YPG has arrested the director of the White Helmets/Syria Civil Defence and closed their offices in Afrin.

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The men of Kafranbel are very upset.

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I wonder what Philip Hammond thinks of this – the head of a British-backed ‘humanitarian’ group bring arrested by another group the UK apparently supports?

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There have been other reports recently regarding fighting between the YPG and Western-backed factions in Aleppo; It is difficult to see how Syria can ever return to a sense of normality with so many different groups fighting among one another.

I suppose for the chief instigators – US, UK, France and Israel – a permanent state of warfare is not an undesirable outcome.

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 

Iraqi AF drop leaflets on Mosul; US coalition stalls

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The Iraqi Air Force has dropped flyers over the city of Mosul that was taken by Daesh just over one year ago. Dropping leaflets was the most advantageous way for the Iraqi government and military to get its message to citizens living under occupation.

The above flyer was acquired by Baghdad Invest, which has also provided a translation for non-Arabic speakers:

In the name of God, the most Gracious, the most Merciful,

To the people of Nainawa, the patient and the ones standing alone so far,

Every step the government is taking towards Mosul, your great city, is putting into account your future, your sacrifices and your holy and utmost precious freedom in its calculation to free you from ISIL, which profane your city a year ago. Your relief now has come to light, and we are in a position where liberation is so close to reality. Your Military forces are getting close, cooperate with them and stay away from ISIL militants with whatever you see fit, to put down in your records that you are the liberators and you are the ones who will role the city and plan its destiny, and you are capable of it.

And all victory is by Allah

P.s. – We advise every citizen of the city to carry a radio on you constantly. Soon Al Mosul FM will start broadcasting to fill you up with important instructions necessary to your safety and to contribute towards your liberation.

ISF – Province of Nainawa
Iraqi Department of Defence

However it is unknown when the Iraqi army and supporting Hashd volunteers will begin their attempt to retake Mosul, as they still haven’t conquered Baiji. They have also suffered a number of setbacks due to constant stalling by the US, who decides to send a new batch of trainers every few months, thus impeding their progress. Former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki revealed in an interview yesterday that the Iraqi government had been asking for US assistance for a year prior to the airstrikes that commenced in August 2014.

Al Maliki: The West ‘remained bystanders’ against Al Qaeda

Of course, due to the recently acquired DIA documents by US lobby group Judicial Watch, it is now known that the current catastrophe in Iraq was predicted by the Americans right from the start of the war in Syria. These stated:

“IF THE SITUATION UNRAVELS THERE IS THE POSSIBILITY OF ESTABLISHING A DECLARED OR UNDECLARED SALAFIST PRINCIPALITY IN EASTERN SYRIA AND THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT THE SUPPORTING POWERS TO THE OPPOSITION WANT, IN ORDER TO ISOLATE THE SYRIAN REGIME WHICH IS CONSIDERED THE STRATEGIC DEPTH OF THE SHIA EXPANSION (IRAQ AND IRAN). THE DETERIORATION OF THE SITUATION HAS DIRE CONSEQUENCES ON THE IRAQI SITUATION…… THIS CREATES THE IDEAL ATMOSPHERE FOR AQI TO RETURN TO ITS OLD POCKETS IN MOSUL AND RAMADI, AND WILL PROVIDE A RENEWED MOMENTUM UNDER THE PRESUMPTION OF UNIFYING THE JIHAD AMONG SUNNI IRAQ AND SYRIA AND THE REST OF THE SUNNIS IN THE ARAB WORLD AGAINST WHAT IT CONSIDERS ONE ENEMY, THE DISSENTERS. ISI COULD ALSO DECLARE AN ISLAMIC STATE THROUGH ITS UNION WITH OTHER TERRORIST ORGANIZATIONS IN IRAQ AND SYRIA, WHICH WILL CREATE GRAVE DANGER IN REGARDS TO UNIFYING IRAQ AND THE PROTECTION OF ITS TERRITORY.”

Therefore it is impossible to view this intervention by America and its ’60 state anti-ISIS coalition’ as anything other than a cynical attempt to look like it’s fighting ISIS, whilst in reality it appears to be partitioning both Iraq and Syria into separate states along ethnic and religious lines – Sunni, Shia and Kurdish – thus breaking the so-called Shia crescent.

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‘Future’ map floated by State Dept propaganda tool ‘Radio Free Europe’

How utterly sickening it is to watch this from afar, it is impossible to imagine what life is like for Iraqis, having suffered war and sanctions for decades.

Mosul in a State of Panic after Iraqi Air Force drops Leaflets
http://www.baghdadinvest.com/mosul-panic-iraqi-drops-leaflets/

Judicial Watch: Defense, State Department Documents Reveal Obama Administration Knew that al Qaeda Terrorists Had Planned Benghazi Attack 10 Days in Advance
http://www.judicialwatch.org/press-room/press-releases/judicial-watch-defense-state-department-documents-reveal-obama-administration-knew-that-al-qaeda-terrorists-had-planned-benghazi-attack-10-days-in-advance/

Iraq And Syria: Past, Present, And (Hypothetical) Future Maps
http://www.rferl.org/content/iraq-syria-religious-ethnic-divides-history-future-maps/25232404.html

SaudiLeaks: ‘Syrian regime must be overthrown to avoid revenge for what we’ve done to them’

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A new cable released by Wikileaks says that the ‘Syrian regime must be overthrown to avoid revenge for what we’ve done to them’.

Notably the Saudileaks have received next to no media attention, likely because they reveal the extent to which the medieval Kingdom bribes journalists in order to receive positive coverage and suppress negative stories.  This could also account for the media blackout on the Saudi-led siege of Yemen.

Realistically, it seems that continuing the destruction and bloodshed is what is most likely to result in harm to Saudi Arabia itself; it already having experienced two suicide bombings within a week of each other in May. Overthrowing “the regime” in Syria is not going to save the country from attacks now that the takfiri genie is well and truly out of the bottle.

The Saudi Cables
Over half a million cables and other documents from the Saudi Foreign Ministry
https://www.wikileaks.org/saudi-cables/doc110212.html