Tag Archives: Bashar al-Assad

US upset about Iran-Iraq-Syria alliance-US meddling fuels violence in Syria

Hezbollah Secretary-General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah confirms the Lebanese resistance movement has sent a drone deep into the Israeli airspace evading radar systems.

The operation code-named Hussein Ayub saw Hezbollah’s drone fly hundreds of kilometers into the Israeli airspace and getting very close to Dimona nuclear plant without being detected by advanced Israeli and US radars, Nasrallah said during a televised speech late on Thursday.

“This is only part of our capabilities,” he stressed, adding that Israelis have admitted to their security failure despite being provided with the latest technologies by Western powers.

 

 

Hezbollah secretary-general stated that Hezbollah’s drones are made in Iran but assembled by the resistance movement.

Hezbollah plans to send more drones over Israel in the future, he added, adding that the operation shows the resistance movement is ready to defend Lebanon.

The resistance leader further dismissed Western accusations of Hezbollah's intervention in the Syrian unrest, describing the allegation as "sheer lie."

"Hezbollah has not fought alongside Syrian forces.... It is not true that Hezbollah is going to take some land from Syria," Nasrallah stated.

Hezbollah's leader also rejected allegations that Abu Abbas was the movement's commander in Syria, and condemned insurgents in Syria for threatening Lebanon.

"Threatening Hezbollah is of no use," he emphasized.

MRS/SS

Lebanon President Michel Sleiman says Hezbollah’s ability to send a drone over Israel shows the need for a new national defense strategy that uses the party’s strength in safeguarding the country.

“The process of dispatching a drone over Israeli enemy territory shows a dire need to approve a defense strategy that would look into the benefits of managing and making use of the resistance’s capabilities,” Sleiman said in a statement on Friday.

He added that Hezbollah’s potential should be used to “safeguard Lebanon and establish a mechanism for issuing a decision to use these capabilities exclusively and under any circumstances in line with national interests [of Lebanon] and the military's defense plans and needs.”

Sleiman’s comments came shortly after Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah confirmed that the Lebanese resistance movement has sent a drone deep into the Israeli airspace evading radar systems.

The operation code-named Hussein Ayub saw Hezbollah’s drone fly hundreds of kilometers into the Israeli airspace and getting very close to Dimona nuclear plant without being detected by advanced Israeli and US radars.

"This is only part of our capabilities," Nasrallah said on Thursday.

Sleiman noted that daily Israeli violations of Lebanese sovereignty was a matter “of continuous complaints” made by Lebanon to the UN Security Council.

Israel violates Lebanon's airspace on an almost daily basis, claiming the flights serve surveillance purposes.

Lebanon's government, the Hezbollah resistance movement, and the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, known as UNIFIL, have repeatedly condemned the overflights, saying they are in clear violation of UN Resolution 1701 and the country's sovereignty.

PG/JR/SS

A prominent military analyst says the United States is deeply concerned about the alliance among Iran, Iraq and Syria and their stand against Israel, Press TV reports.

“There are deep concerns within the US that a coalition between Iran, Iraq and Syria will stand against Israel and Turkey which frankly is their long-serving surrogate since Ottoman times,” Gordon Duff said in an interview with Press TV on Friday.

He further stressed that there needs to be a no-fly-zone over Turkey “since they seem to have difficulty following international convention.”

Turkey has beefed up military defenses on its border with Syria over the past weeks, stationing tanks, anti-aircraft missiles, and additional troops in the area.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned on October 9 that Turkey’s armed forces would not hesitate to strike back in response to any strike on Turkish soil after the Turkish parliament authorized cross-border military action against Syria “when deemed right” On October 4.

Tensions have been running high between Syria and Turkey, with Damascus accusing Turkey -- along with Saudi Arabia and Qatar -- of backing a deadly insurgency that has claimed the lives of many Syrians, including security and army personnel.

Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011.

Damascus says outlaws, saboteurs, and armed terrorists are the driving factors behind the unrest and deadly violence, but the opposition accuses the security forces of being behind the killings.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said in August that the country is engaged in a “crucial and heroic” battle that will determine the destiny of the nation.

TNP/JR

A prominent military analyst says the United States is deeply concerned about the alliance among Iran, Iraq and Syria and their stand against Israel, Press TV reports.

“There are deep concerns within the US that a coalition between Iran, Iraq and Syria will stand against Israel and Turkey which frankly is their long-serving surrogate since Ottoman times,” Gordon Duff said in an interview with Press TV on Friday.

He further stressed that there needs to be a no-fly-zone over Turkey “since they seem to have difficulty following international convention.”

Turkey has beefed up military defenses on its border with Syria over the past weeks, stationing tanks, anti-aircraft missiles, and additional troops in the area.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned on October 9 that Turkey’s armed forces would not hesitate to strike back in response to any strike on Turkish soil after the Turkish parliament authorized cross-border military action against Syria “when deemed right” On October 4.

 

Tensions have been running high between Syria and Turkey, with Damascus accusing Turkey -- along with Saudi Arabia and Qatar -- of backing a deadly insurgency that has claimed the lives of many Syrians, including security and army personnel.

Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011.

Damascus says outlaws, saboteurs, and armed terrorists are the driving factors behind the unrest and deadly violence, but the opposition accuses the security forces of being behind the killings.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said in August that the country is engaged in a “crucial and heroic” battle that will determine the destiny of the nation.

TNP/JR

Advertisements

Rights Group Maps Out Syrian Government’s ‘Archipelago Of Torture Centers’- pdf in russian-

 

With a growing civil war in Syria, Bashar al-Assad’s notorious police state only increases repression and human rights violations against its own people.

A new report from New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) demonstrates just how prolific these violations of basic human rights have become in Syria. The group interviewed more than 200 Syrians and used the information to identify at least 27 detention centers where torture is used. The “archipelago of torture centers,” said HRW, “clearly point to a state policy of torture and ill-treatment and therefore constitute a crime against humanity.”

Syria’s four intelligence agencies, known together as the mukhabarat, employed a variety of torture methods against civilians and anti-government actors. One 31-year-old described the methods used against him:

They forced me to undress. Then they started squeezing my fingers with pliers. They put staples in my fingers, chest and ears. I was only allowed to take them out if I spoke. The staples in the ears were the most painful. They used two wires hooked up to a car battery to give me electric shocks. They used electric stun-guns on my genitals twice.

HRW detailed the methods and published sketches depicting their use. The group also published diagrams showing that, based on the interviews, Syrian authorities were putting up to 70 people in cells that European standards for detention would limit to five occupants.

When two or more interviewees identified a detention center, HRW added the location to an interactive map. Here’s a screen capture of the map showing the ten detention centers HRW identified in the capital Damascus (click here for the full interactive map):

HRW Emergencies researcher Ole Solvang said in a release: “By publishing their locations, describing the torture methods, and identifying those in charge we are putting those responsible on notice that they will have to answer for these horrific crimes.”

The group said that because Syria is not party to the Rome Statute, International Criminal Court proceedings against officials ordering and carrying out the torture would need to be mandated by the U.N. Security Council. Russia and China have so far blocked such measures. Clearly aiming to pressure Russia — Assad’s top international backer — HRW published its findings and recommendations (PDF) in Russian.

 


Syria:Detainee says officers threatened to rape his family

A Human Rights Watch report issued on July 3, 2012, documents cases of torture used in Syrian detention centers since March 2011. The cases were ascertained through face-to-face interviews with the former detainees.

According to the report, a man named Fawzi was “detained for the second time on August 6 and spent about 70 days in detention, including about 40 days in Branch 291” in Damascus. He told HRW he was tortured and that detention officers threatened to rape his family members:

“After the first week they took me for questioning,” he said. “They read to me what they said I had confessed to while in the Military Intelligence branch in Aleppo. But the information was completely different [from what I told the interrogators there]. It said that I had confessed to carrying weapons, that I was part of gangs, that we communicated with other gangs and so on. I denied everything for three hours. Then they placed me facing a wall with my hands cuffed behind my back for seven or eight hours.

“The next day the interrogation continued. They started threatening me and my family. They said that if I don’t confess they would bring in my mother and siblings and rape and abuse them. He was going through my phone, asking about names.

“They beat me with batons and electric cables before they again made me stand for three, four hours before they brought me back to the cell. The same routine took place three, four days in a row.

“We could hear people from other cells being tortured, including women who were screaming when they slapped them.

“Some people were held standing against the wall deprived of sleep for up to seven days. They would just lose it and started confessing to everything without even being asked.”

Other cases from the HRW report can be found by searching “HRW” on our crowdmap.

The dates of the reported assaults and torture are unknown. Because Syrian government officials currently refuse to allow access to journalists, researchers, and aid workers, Women Under Siege cannot independently verify this report of sexualized violence in Syria.


Human Rights in Syria-Annual report 2011



SHRC Tenth Annual Report on Human Rights in Syria 2011

Contents

2.Preface
3.Death under Torture
4.Missing Persons in Sednaya Prison Massacre
5.Missing Persons in Sednaya Prison Massacre
6.Human Rights’ Activists and the Civil Society
7.The Forced Exiled and the Portfolio of Law 49/1980 … The Forced Exiled and Documentation .. Asylum to the West .
Documentation of Missing Persons … Arrests, Trials & Releases ….
8.Examples of the State’s Security Court’s Rulings for 2010

9.Examples on the State’s Military Tribunals’ Sentences for 2010

10.Kurds
11.The Portfolio of Arbitrary Arrest
12.Examples on those Released
13.Persons Prevented from Travelling
14.Violating the Rights of Students and Teachers at theMinistry of Education & Higher Education and PrivateSchools
15.The General Situation of Media in Syria – Status Quo
16.Syrian Human Rights Committee in Brief


Houla Massacre Update – The UN Report

In two alerts on May 31 and June 13, we noted how the UK corporate media system instantly found, not just the Syrian government, but its leader Bashar Assad, responsible for the May 25 massacre of 108 people, including 49 children, in Houla, Syria.

Numerous cartoons depicted Assad smeared with blood or bathing in blood. Just two days after the massacre, the Independent on Sunday’s front cover wanted to know what its readers were going to do about it:

‘There is, of course, supposed to be a ceasefire, which the brutal Assad regime simply ignores. And the international community? It just averts its gaze. Will you do the same? Or will the sickening fate of these innocent children make you very, very angry?’ (Independent on Sunday, May 27, 2012)

Quite what readers were supposed to do, other than gaze, was unclear. After all, one of the great triumphs of modern politics is the near-complete insulation of US-UK foreign policy against democratic pressures.

Inside the paper, David Randall wrote these bitter words:

‘He is the President; she is the First Lady; they are dead children. He governs but doesn’t protect; she shops and doesn’t care… And one hopes that those on the United Nations Security Council, when it reconvenes, will look into the staring eyes of these dead children and remember the hollow words of Assad’s wife when she simpered that she “comforts the families” of her country’s victims.’

This was standard for political commentary and media coverage right across politics and media. Houla was not reported as just one more ugly event in world news. It was sold to the British public as an historic ‘something must be done’ tipping point on a par with the contested Racak and hypothetical Benghazi massacres used to justify the West’s attacks on Serbia in 1999 and Libya in 2011, respectively.

US and UK politicians were clearly desperate to use Houla to stoke their regime-change agenda. Rehearsing the crude tactics of the Bush-Blair era, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and UK Foreign Secretary William Hague endlessly repeated their damning judgements: facts were irrelevant, propaganda stunts everything. No holds were barred. The media, as ever, were happy to go along for the ride.

If the US-UK alliance was to succeed in justifying externally-imposed regime change, then the Assad government had to be declared responsible – certainly, solely, unforgivably. And that indeed was the message supplied by the media.

However, as we explained in our June 13 alert, cracks in the story quickly began to emerge. It turned out that women and children had not had their throats cut, as had been universally asserted. Moreover, the BBC’s World News editor Jon Williams commented:

‘In Houla, and now in Qubair, the finger has been pointed at the shabiha, pro-government militia. But tragic death toll aside, the facts are few: it’s not clear who ordered the killings – or why.’

But these and a handful of other comments – and the sources informing them – were kept low-profile and did not become part of the media discussion. Inexplicably, the implications for earlier media claims went unexamined, undiscussed.

 

The UN – ‘Unable To Determine The Identity Of The Perpetrators At This Time’

Last week, on June 27, a UN Commission of Inquiry delivered its report on the massacre. In considering those responsible, the UN described the three most likely possibilities:

‘First, that the perpetrators were Shabbiha or other local militia from neighbouring villages, possibly operating together with, or with the acquiescence of, the Government security forces; second, that the perpetrators were anti-Government forces seeking to escalate the conflict while punishing those that failed to support – or who actively opposed – the rebellion; or third, foreign groups with unknown affiliation.’

The report’s assessment:

‘With the available evidence, the CoI [Commission of Inquiry] could not rule out any of these possibilities.’

The UN summarised:

‘The CoI is unable to determine the identity of the perpetrators at this time; nevertheless the CoI considers that forces loyal to the Government may have been responsible for many of the deaths. The investigation will continue until the end of the CoI mandate.’

A remarkably cautious conclusion, given that it was produced in the face of intense Western political and media pressure (no doubt also behind the scenes) to blame the Syrian government.

So how did the media react to this high-profile report starkly contradicting its consensus on Houla? An honest media would have headlined the UN’s doubt, alerting readers to the earlier baseless assertions and misreporting.

Instead, the LexisNexis media database search engine finds (July 5) just six articles mentioning the report in UK national newspapers and their websites, with only five of these mentioning Houla. An astonishingly low level of coverage given the massive media attention that preceded it. LexisNexis records 1,017 print and online articles mentioning Houla in all UK newspapers since the massacre on May 25.

The Independent, which, as discussed, initially led the field in Houla hype, described the UN findings thus:

‘Gunmen raided the headquarters of a pro-government Syrian TV station yesterday, killing seven employees, kidnapping others and demolishing buildings. The government described the killings as a “massacre,” just as the UN was blaming state forces for the Houla massacre.’

If this was a gross misrepresentation of the UN’s findings, it was rendered absurd by clicking an online link to ‘More’, which took readers to these words from Patrick Cockburn:

‘The UN report on last month’s massacre at Houla, near the northern city of Homs, does not name those responsible, saying only that forces loyal to the government “may have been responsible” for many of the deaths.

‘It does not name the Alawite militia – the Shabiha – as being responsible, as has been widely reported, but said they had easiest access to Houla.’

That indeed was the news – the UN report had starkly contradicted the ‘widely reported’ but false certainty.

In similar vein, a Guardian piece was titled: ‘Syrian government loyalists “may be responsible” for massacre – UN report.’

A separate Guardian headline bullet point read: ‘Assad forces may be to blame for many Houla deaths – UN.’

By contrast, more accurately, Alex Thomson of Channel 4 News tweeted:

‘UN Syria report: says al-Houla massacre of 108 could have been done by either pro or anti Assad militias’

We wrote to Thomson: ‘Interesting, the Guardian is reporting it thus: ‘Syrian government loyalists “may be responsible”‘ UN report.’

Thomson replied: ‘true but UN equally saying anti-govt militia could have done it. And I speak as someone interviewed by UN on this.’

The former Guardian and Observer journalist, Jonathan Cook, emailed us:

‘Yes, in fact, the Guardian’s headline stating that Syrian government loyalists “may have been responsible” for the Houla massacre is simply preposterous. The narrative already promoted by the Guardian (and everyone else) is that they *were* responsible. So it should be blindingly obvious to the editors that the only *news* in this UN report is that the government loyalists may *not* have been responsible. Jonathan’ (Email to Media Lens, June 27, 2012)

Just three days after the UN report was published, Martin Chulov wrote in the Guardian:

‘In the Syrian village of Qatma, not far from the Turkish border, a family from the town of Houla, where a massacre widely blamed on regime backers took place in late May, has taken refuge.’

In the article, which focused solely on the perspective of Syria’s armed opposition, Chulov made no mention of the UN report or the fact that it had challenged the ‘widely’ circulated claims. Instead, he concluded:

‘Where the UN and the international community may have been seen as ponderous in the Balkans, they are viewed in a worse light through a Syrian opposition lens – impotent.

‘”What they are talking about [in Geneva] is meaningless,” said Idris [a Syrian exile]. “It won’t change things.”’

Seen as ‘ponderous’ by whom? Presumably not the current Syrian opposition. And presumably not by those of us appalled by the mendacious propaganda used to justify Nato’s war on Serbia in 1999. Chulov meant, of course, right-thinking people. The comment recalled Chulov’s earlier response on Twitter:

‘Took a v long time to muster support for a response in Bosnia and Kosovo. Syria will be even more difficult.’

Even The Times did better than the Guardian:

‘The [UN] authors said that they were unable to determine who carried out a massacre of more than 100 people in Houla last month but added that forces loyal to Mr Assad may have been responsible for many of the killings.’ (Janine di Giovanni, ‘Assad and rebels think they have more to gain from violence, UN general says,’ The Times, June 28, 2012)

The BBC website initially commented:

‘UN investigator and author of the report Karen Abuzayd told the BBC that “there is the possibility of three different groups who may have done this”.

‘She said that government forces were responsible for the initial shelling in which some people died. But what she called the “massacre” afterwards in people’s homes was done either by militiamen from Alawite villages – known as shabiha – or possibly by armed opposition groups.’

As the News Sniffer website recorded, these words were quickly edited out. Similar comments were later restored.

Media response to the UN report on Houla is a striking example of how the corporate system has evolved to channel and boost government propaganda claims on demand. As ever, counter-evidence, even from highly-respected sources, struggles to make any headway against this ‘babbling brook of bullshit’.

One might think that the primary concern of editors and journalists would be to provide media consumers with accurate, comprehensible information, not least by correcting earlier high-profile errors. But not a single editorial or comment piece examining the implications of the UN report on Houla has sought to do this. Most readers and viewers will continue to believe that women and children had their throat cuts, certainly on the orders of the Syrian government. Others will be simply bewildered by an overwhelming consensus punctuated by odd, apparently credible, but unexplored contradictions.

Source


Al-Qaeda Inspired Group Claims Syria Attacks

An Al-Qaeda-inspired group has claimed responsibility for dozens of attacks across Syria, The Associated Press reported Wednesday.

The report cited the SITE monitoring group, which tracks jihadist chatter on the Internet and which said the Al-Nusra Front released statements on extremist websites in late June claiming the attacks were to avenge the killings of Syrians by the government.

One of the attacks targeted a pro-regime television station in the town of Drousha, south of Damascus, on June 27. Seven people were killed in the attack on Al-Ikhbariya TV.

Al-Nusra said, according to SITE, that the station is an arm of the regime and the attack sought to make the station “taste from the cup of torture” and force every member of the regime to wonder: “When will my turn come?”

The statement included photos of 11 men it said were kidnapped in the attack.

Al-Ikhbariya is privately owned but often acts as a regime mouthpiece.

Other attacks in the latest claim of responsibility include dozens of armed raids and bombings, including suicide bombings, in Syrian cities.

AP noted that Western intelligence officials say Al-Nusra could be a front for a branch of Al-Qaeda militants from Iraq operating in Syria. The group has claimed responsibility for a string of attacks in Syria in the past.

The Syrian regime has long blamed terrorists for the 16-month-old revolt in the country, but the opposition and the rebel Free Syrian Army deny having any links to terrorism, and say they do not have the desire or the capabilities to carry out massive suicide bombings and other Al-Qaeda-style attacks.

Last Saturday, major world powers approved a plan for a government transition which may allow President Bashar al-Assad to remain as leader of Syria.

The U.S., Russia, and officials of other governments met in Geneva to discuss the plan authored by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Under Annan’s plan, members of Assad’s current administration, as well as of his family, could remain in power under a new administration. It would be up to the Syrian people if they wanted Assad himself to remain in power.

However, Annan said after the meeting, “I will doubt that the Syrians who have fought to hard for their independence will select people with blood on their hands to lead them.”

Syrian opposition leaders have dismissed the agreement as being useless. The violence stemming from Assad’s brutal 16-month crackdown on a popular uprising cum civil war against his 11-year rule has resulted in at least 16,500 deaths, rights officials say.

Annan’s office said Tuesday that a real ceasefire is imperative in Syria. A ceasefire brokered by Annan was supposed to have gone into effect in April, but the violence has continued.Source


Syria : NATO's next "humanitarian" war

A report recently released by DEBKAfile, an Israeli military intelligence website, which is believed to have close links to Israeli intelligence sources, has shown that the UK is providing logistical support to armed terrorist groups in Syria.

Press TV has conducted an interview with Michel Chossudovsky, the director of the Centre for Research on Globalization in Montreal, Canada, to further discuss the issue.

The video offers the opinions of two additional guests: Sukant Chandan, a filmmaker and political commentator in London and Hisham Safiedding from Al Akhbar, a Lebanese daily published in Beirut.

The following is a rough transcription of the interview.

Press TV: Doesn’t this undermine the United Nations and its role, by the UK and Qatar, if this is true?

Chossudovsky: Well, I should disclose the fact that this news concerning British special forces is nothing new. There’s evidence of foreign interference in affairs of Syria, going back right to the beginning, when you know the… started in Dara’a, in southern Syria in March of 2011. We know, that these armed groups, which were recognized in fact in the Arab League report, are all supported by foreign powers, and they are operatives of those foreign powers on the ground inside Syria. We know that Turkey is involved, and we know that they are supporting those groups.

So in effect, what the report published by Debka, the intelligence news agency or related to the Israeli intelligence is suggesting is something we know already, that this insurrection, this armed insurrection, is supported by foreign powers. And in fact, we have previous reports to the fact that both NATO and Turkey are not only recruiting fighters to go in, mercenaries, but they are also training them…

Press TV: If they had been on a patch in terms of interference, their assistance and arming, was going to the UN then only a face-saving show for the world?

Chossudovsky: Well, it’s a face-saving show that had unexpected results. Because as you recall, the Arab League commissioned a mission to go into Syria, with a view of establishing the nature of this insurrection and the nature of the protest movement.

The assumption was that the Arab League would instruct its mission to toe the line of media disinformation and come up with a report saying, blaming the government for the civilian deaths, when in fact what they presented was a much more balanced report, where they said there is an armed entity, and that armed entity is committing crimes against the civilian population, killing people and involved in terrorists acts. And consequently it’s not an issue of blaming the Syrian authority, but one of acknowledging the existence of an armed insurrection.

And of course they didn’t mention who was behind it, but it ties in with other reports that we have that this armed insurrection is supported by foreign forces. I think that the issue of resolution between the government and the opposition is a red herring, because it can only proceed if these armed gangs are neutralized and that foreign forces withdraw from the country.

Source

There is an opposition within Syria, but what is at stake, in this insurrection is not an opposition, these are mercenary forces. These are trained paramilitary, they are equipped with heavy machine guns and so on, but they’re not protesters.

The “protests” did not emanate from internal political cleavages as described by the mainstream media. From the very outset, they were the result of a covert US-NATO intelligence operation geared towards triggering social chaos, with a view to eventually discrediting the Syrian government of Bashar Al Assad and destabilizing Syria as a Nation State.

Since the middle of March 2011, Islamist armed groups –covertly supported by Western and Israeli intelligence– have conducted terrorist attacks directed against government buildings including acts of arson. Amply documented, trained gunmen and snipers including mercenaries have targeted the police, armed forces as well as innocent civilians. There is ample evidence, as outlined in the Arab League Observer Mission report, that these armed groups of mercenaries are responsible for killing civilians.

While the Syrian government and military bear a heavy burden of responsibility. it is important to underscore the fact that these terrorist acts –including the indiscriminate killing of men, women and children– are part of a US-NATO-Israeli initiative, which consists is supporting, training and financing “an armed entity” operating inside Syria.

The evidence confirms that foreign intelligence operatives, according to reports, have integrated rebel ranks:

“As the unrest and killings escalate in the troubled Arab state, agents from MI6 and the CIA are already in Syria assessing the situation, a security official has revealed. Special forces are also talking to Syrian dissident soldiers. They want to know about weapons and communications kit rebel forces will need if the Government decides to help.

“MI6 and the CIA are in Syria to infiltrate and get at the truth,” said the well-placed source. “We have SAS and SBS not far away who want to know what is happening and are finding out what kit dissident soldiers need.” ” Syria will be bloodiest yet, Daily Star). (emphasis added)

The Free Syrian Army (FSA) is a creation of the US and NATO. The objective of this armed insurrection is to trigger the response of the police and armed forces, including the deployment of tanks and armored vehicles with a view to eventually justifying a military intervention, under NATO’s “responsibility to protect” mandate.

A NATO-led intervention is on the drawing board. It was drafted prior to the onset of the protest movement in March 2011. According to military and intelligence sources, NATO, Turkey and Saudi Arabia have been discussing “the form this intervention would take”.

US, British and Turkish operatives are supplying the rebels with weapons. Britain’s Ministry of Defence confirms that it “is drawing up secret plans for a NATO-sponsored no-fly zone [in coordination with its allies] “but first it needs backing from the United Nations Security Council.” (Syria will be bloodiest yet, Daily Star). According to these secret plans: “fighting in Syria could be bigger and bloodier than the battle against Gaddafi”.(Ibid ).

A “humanitarian” military intervention modeled on Libya is contemplated. NATO Special Forces from Britain, France, Qatar and Turkey are already on the ground inside Syria in blatant violation of international law. Reports from British military sources (November 2011) confirm that:

“British Special forces have met up with members of the Free Syrian Army (FSA)… The apparent goal of this initial contact was to establish the rebel forces’ strength and to pave the way for any future training operations. … More recent reports have stated that British and French Special Forces have been actively training members of the FSA, from a base in Turkey. Some reports indicate that training is also taking place in locations in Libya and Northern Lebanon. British MI6 operatives and UKSF (SAS/SBS) personnel have reportedly been training the rebels in urban warfare as well as supplying them with arms and equipment. US CIA operatives and special forces are believed to be providing communications assistance to the rebels.” Elite Forces UK, January 5, 2012 (emphasis added)

The Social and Political Context in Syria

There is certainly cause for social unrest and mass protest in Syria: unemployment has increased in recent years, social conditions have deteriorated, particularly since the adoption in 2006 of sweeping economic reforms under IMF guidance. The later include austerity measures, a freeze on wages, the deregulation of the financial system, trade reform and privatization. (See IMF Syrian Arab Republic — IMF Article IV Consultation Mission’s Concluding Statement, 2006).

Moreover, there are serious divisions within the government and the military. The populist policy framework of the Baath party has largely been eroded. A faction within the ruling political establishment has embraced the neoliberal agenda. In turn, the adoption of IMF “economic medicine” has served to enrich the ruling economic elite. Pro-US factions have also developed within the upper echelons of the Syrian military and intelligence.

But the “pro-democracy” movement integrated by Islamists and supported by NATO and the “international community” did not emanate from the mainstay of Syrian civil society.

The wave of violent protests represents a very small fraction of Syrian public opinion. They are terrorist acts of a sectarian nature. They do not in any way address the broader issues of social inequality, civil rights and unemployment.

The majority of Syria’s population (including the opponents of the Al Assad government) do not support the “protest movement” which is characterised by an armed insurgency. In fact quite the opposite.

Ironically, despite its authoritarian nature, there is considerable popular support for the government of President Bashar Al Assad, which is confirmed by the large pro-government rallies.

Syria constitutes the only (remaining) independent secular state in the Arab world. Its populist, anti-Imperialist and secular base is inherited from the dominant Baath party, which integrates Muslims, Christians and Druze. It supports the struggle of the Palestinian people.

The objective of the US-NATO alliance is to ultimately displace and destroy the Syrian secular State, displace or co-opt the national economic elites and eventually replace the Syrian government of Bashar Al Assad with an Arab sheikdom, a pro-US Islamic republic or a compliant pro-US “democracy”.

Pro-government rally, Damascus, March 2011

The Insurgency: The Libya Model

The insurgency in Syria has similar features to that of Libya: it is integrated by paramilitary brigades affiliated to Al Qaeda, which are directly supported by NATO and Turkey.

Reports confirm that NATO and Turkey’s High Command are providing the rebels with weapons and training: “NATO strategists are thinking more in terms of pouring large quantities of anti-tank and anti-air rockets, mortars and heavy machine guns into the protest centers for beating back the government armored forces.” (DEBKAfile, NATO to give rebels anti-tank weapons, August 14, 2011)

Military sources also confirm that Syrian rebels “have been training in the use of the new weapons with Turkish military officers at makeshift installations in Turkish bases near the Syrian border.” (DEBKAfile, Ibid). Recent reports confirm that British and Qatari Special forces are on the ground in the city of Homs, involved in training rebel forces as well as organizing the supply of weapons in liaison with the Turkish military.

As in the case of Libya, financial support is being channelled to the Syrian rebel forces by Saudi Arabia: “Ankara and Riyadh will provide the anti-Assad movements with large quantities of weapons and funds to be smuggled in from outside Syria” (Ibid). The deployment of Saudi and GCC troops is also contemplated in Southern Syria in coordination with Turkey (Ibid).

NATO’s activities are not limited to training and the delivery of weapons systems, the recruitment of thousands of “freedom fighters”` is also envisaged, reminiscent of the enlistment of Mujahideen to wage the CIA’s jihad (holy war) in the heyday of the Soviet-Afghan war:

This recruitment of Mujahideen was part of NATO`s strategy in Libya, where mercenary forces were dispatched to fight under the helm of “former” Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) Commander Abdel Hakim Belhadj.

The Libyan model of rebel forces integrated by “Islamic brigades” together with NATO special forces has been applied to Syria, where “Islamist fighters” supported by Western and Israeli intelligence are deployed. In this regard, Abdel Hakim`s LIFG brigade has now been dispatched to Syria, where it is involved in terrorist acts under the supervision of NATO Special Forces.

The Central Role of US Ambassador Robert S. Ford

US Ambassador Robert S. Ford was dispatched to Damascus in late January 2011 at the height of the protest movement in Egypt. (The author was in Damascus on January 27, 2011 when Washington’s Envoy presented his credentials to the Al Assad government).

At the outset of my visit to Syria in January 2011, I reflected on the significance of this diplomatic appointment and the role it might play in a covert process of political destabilization. I did not, however, foresee that this destabilization agenda would be implemented within less than two months following the instatement of Robert S. Ford as US Ambassador to Syria.

The reinstatement of a US ambassador in Damascus, but more specifically the choice of Robert S. Ford as US ambassador, bears a direct relationship to the onset of the protest movement in mid-March against the government of Bashar al Assad.

Robert S. Ford was the man for the job. As “Number Two” at the US embassy in Baghdad (2004-2005) under the helm of Ambassador John D. Negroponte, he played a key role in implementing the Pentagon’s “Iraq Salvador Option”. The latter consisted in supporting Iraqi death squadrons and paramilitary forces modelled on the experience of Central America.

It is worth noting that Obama’s newly appointed CIA head, General David Petraeus played a key role the organization of covert support to rebel forces and “freedom fighters”, the infiltration of Syrian intelligence and armed forces, etc. Petraeus led the Multi-National Security Transition Command (MNSTC) “Counterinsurgency” program in Baghdad in 2004 in coordination with John Negroponte and Robert S Ford at the US Embassy in Baghdad.

Ambassador Ford in Hama in July 2011

The Insidious Role of the Western media

The role of the US-NATO-Israel military alliance in triggering an armed insurrection is not addressed by the Western media. Moreover, several “progressive voices” have accepted the “NATO consensus” at face value. The role of CIA-MI6 covert intelligence operations in support of armed groups is simply not mentioned. Salafist paramilitary groups involved in terrorist acts, are, according to reports, supported covertly by Israeli intelligence (Mossad). The Muslim Brotherhood has been supported by Turkey, as well as by MI6, Britain’s Secret Service (SIS) since the 1950s

More generally, the Western media has misled public opinion on the nature of the Arab protest movement by failing to address the support provided by the US State Department as well as US foundations (including the National Endowment for Democracy (NED)) to selected pro-US opposition groups.

Known and documented, the U.S. State Department “has been been funding opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad, since 2006. (U.S. admits funding Syrian opposition – World – CBC News April 18, 2011).

The protest movement in Syria was upheld by the media as part of the “Arab Spring”, presented to public opinion as a pro-democracy protest movement which spread spontaneously from Egypt and the Maghreb to the Mashriq. There is reason to believe, however, that events in Syria, however, were planned well in advance in coordination with the process of regime change in other Arab countries including Egypt and Tunisia.

The outbreak of the protest movement in the southern border city of Daraa was carefully timed to follow the events in Tunisia and Egypt.

In chorus they have described recent events in Syria as a “peaceful protest movement” directed against the government of Bashar Al Assad, when the evidence amply confirms that Islamic paramilitary groups are involved in terrorist acts. These same Islamic groups have infiltrated the protest rallies.

Western media distortions abound. Large “pro-government” rallies (including photographs) are casually presented as “evidence” of a mass anti-government protest movement. The reports on casualties are based on unconfirmed “eye-witness reports” or on Syrian opposition sources in exile. The London based Syria Observatory for Human Rights are profusely quoted by the Western media as a “reliable source” with the usual disclaimers. Israeli news sources, while avoiding the issue of an armed insurgency, tacitly acknowledge that Syrian forces are being confronted by an organized professional paramilitary.

The absence of verifiable data, has not prevented the Western media from putting forth “authoritative figures” on the number of casualties. What are the sources of this data? Who is responsible for the casualties?

Dangerous Crossroads: Towards a Broader Middle East Central Asian War

Escalation is an integral part of the military agenda. Destabilization of sovereign states through “regime change” is closely coordinated with military planning. There is a military roadmap characterised by a sequence of US-NATO war theaters.

War preparations to attack Syria and Iran have been in “an advanced state of readiness” for several years.

US, NATO and Israeli military planners have outlined the contours of a “humanitarian” military campaign, in which Turkey (the second largest military force inside NATO) would play a central role.

We are at dangerous crossroads. Were a US-NATO military operation to be launched against Syria, the broader Middle East Central Asian region extending from North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border with China would be engulfed in the turmoil of an extended regional war.

There are at present four distinct war theaters: Afghanistan-Pakistan, Iraq, Palestine and Libya.

An attack on Syria would lead to the integration of these separate war theaters, eventually leading towards a broader Middle East-Central Asian war.

In Part I of the online interactive I-Book, an introductory essay is presented.

Part II examines the nature of the US-NATO-Israel sponsored insurgency, including the recruitment of terrorists and mercenaries. It also includes an examination of a 1957 Anglo-American covert intelligence plan to destabilize Syria and implement “regime change”. The 1957 plan envisaged the triggering of “internal disturbances as well as the mounting of “sabotage and coup de main (sic) incidents” by the CIA and MI6. What this essay suggests is continuity, i.e. today’s Intel. Ops, while more sophisticated than those of the Cold War era, belong to realm of DÉJÀ VU.

Part III examines the complicity of the “international community” focussing respectively on the role of non-governmental organizations, the dynamics within the United Nations Security Council and role of the Arab League, acting on behalf of Washington.

Part IV centers on the insidious role of the corporate media, which has carefully distorted the facts, providing systematically a biased understanding of the causes and consequences of the Syrian crisis.

Part V focusses on the broader military agenda and the process of military escalation in the Middle East.

The road to Tehran goes through Damascus. A US-NATO sponsored war on Iran would involve, as a first step, a destabilization campaign (“regime change”) including covert intelligence operations in support of rebel forces directed against the Syrian government.

A war on Syria could evolve towards a US-NATO military campaign directed against Iran, in which Turkey and Israel would be directly involved. It would also contribute to the ongoing destabilization of Lebanon.

It is crucial to spread the word and break the channels of media disinformation.

A critical and unbiased understanding of what is happening in Syria is of crucial importance in reversing the tide of military escalation towards a broader regional war Source