Noam Chomsky on the Middle East


This video from the USA says about itself:

Chomsky: Saudi Arabia is the “Center of Radical Islamic Extremism” Now Spreading Among Sunni Muslims

17 May 2016

As Saudi Arabia continues to fund fighting in Syria and Yemen, Noam Chomsky says it is “the center of radical Islamic extremism.” Chomsky adds that the U.S. ally is “a source of not only funding for extremist radical Islam and the jihadi outgrowths of it, but also, doctrinally, mosques, clerics and so on, schools, you know, madrassas, where you study just Qur’an, is spreading all over the huge Sunni areas from Saudi influence.”

This video from the USA says about itself:

Noam Chomsky on Syria Conflict: Cut Off the Flow of Arms & Stop Bombing to Stem the Atrocities

17 May 2016

Today, the U.S. and Russia co-chair a meeting of the 17-nation International Syria Support Group aimed at easing the five-year conflict with a death toll that has reached close to half a million people. Just last month, President Obama announced the deployment of 250 more Special Operations troops to Syria in a move that nearly doubles the official U.S. presence in the country.

Syria is only one of a number of ongoing deadly conflicts in the Middle East. Last year, a record 60 million people around the world were forced to flee their homes, becoming refugees. For more on these conflicts and the rise of ISIS, we continue our conversation with internationally renowned political dissident, linguist and author, Noam Chomsky.

The U.S. invasion of Iraq was a major reason in the development, a primary reason in the incitement of sectarian conflicts, which have now exploded into these monstrosities,” says Chomsky. He has written over 100 books, most recently, “Who Rules the World?” Chomsky is institute professor emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he’s taught for more than 50 years.

Syria, Iraq, war 1916-2016


This video says about itself:

The Disastrous Legacy of Sykes-Picot

16 May 2016

In 1916, the United Kingdom and France signed an agreement to divide the Middle East between themselves. One hundred years later, many of the region’s ongoing problems can be dated to the Sykes-Picot treaty.

Turkish regime kills Syrian refugees again


This video says about itself:

Turkey: Syrians Shot, Beaten, and Killed at Border

9 May 2016

Turkish border guards are shooting and beating Syrian asylum seekers … resulting in deaths and serious injuries, Human Rights Watch said today. The Turkish authorities should end their pushbacks of Syrian asylum seekers at the border and investigate all use of excessive force by border guards, including all cases of killing and injuring Syrians trying to cross.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

‘Turkish border guards shoot Syrian refugees dead’

Today, 10:53

Turkish border guards shoot at refugees from Syria to prevent them from entering Turkey. Human rights organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) reports this. Five people were killed and fourteen wounded. Refugees are also said to be beaten.

HRW investigated seven incidents, dating back to March and April. The organization spoke with victims, witnesses and Syrians from the border area with Turkey. Three refugees – a man, a woman and a boy of 15 – and a smuggler were shot, another smuggler was beaten to death. Eight refugees got shot wounds, including three children aged 3, 5 and 9 years. Six refugees were severely mistreated.

Bodies

Eyewitnesses have claimed that border guards also shot at people who wanted to take away the bodies from the border wall. This was recorded. Six of the seven incidents were at the border crossing Khurbat al-Juz Güveççi, the seventh took place in the Syrian border town of al-Duriya. The refugees had not long before fled from Aleppo and surrounding area.

The organization calls on Turkey to immediately put an end to the shooting of refugees and to investigate the incidents. Again HRW calls on the government to open the border to people fleeing the violence in Syria.

HRW says on May 4 to have sent a letter to the Turkish Minister of the Interior. There is still no response known from the Ministry.

Previously the British newspaper The Independent reported that eight Syrian refugees were shot dead at the border when they tried to reach Turkey.

Sent back

Human Rights Watch also spoke with 28 Syrian refugees who were intercepted by Turkish border guards when they tried crossing the border with the help of smugglers. They were detained and interrogated for a day and then sent back to Syria. That happened with dozens and sometimes hundreds at a time, the refugees told. Similar reports came in April from Amnesty International and NOS correspondent Lucas Waagmeester.

Turkish government sending refugees to war in Syria


This video from the USA says about itself:

Turkey Abuses Refugees, Sends Them Back to War Zones

17 December 2015

Turkey has been accused by Amnesty International of sending hundreds of Syrian refugees to detention centers where they are abused and mistreated and deporting them back to war zones in Iraq and Syria…. We look at the alleged human rights violations on the Lip News with Elliot Hill and Mark Sovel.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

“Turkey illegally sends refugees back to Syria

Today, 21:19

Christel Voorn, national affairs editor

Turkey has, since mid-January, sent several thousand Syrian refugees illegally back to Syria. That says Amnesty International on the basis of new research in South Turkey.

PvdA leader Diederik Samsom calls this act in a reaction to Nieuwsuur TV show a reason to suspend the EU deal with Turkey. “This is contrary to everything we stand for.”

Diederik Samsom, of the social democrat PvdA, the junior partner in the coalition government often says progressive sounding things; which he then fails to practice, as a faithful ally of the right-wing VVD coalition partner.

Samsom might have expected this, when he helped to make the deal sending refugees back from Europe to Erdogan’s Turkey. Already before January 2016, the Turkish government used to send refugees back to war in Syria or Iraq.

Amnesty International has for three days recorded testimony by refugees in southern Turkey. The human rights organization says the findings confirm an open secret in the region. …

Samson: Turkey must stop

According to Labour leader Samsom this illegal refoulement may scupper the refugee deal between the European Union and Turkey. “The European Commission should agree immediately with the Turkish authorities that this should stop, otherwise the agreement between the EU and Turkey is just not on.”

In a desperate attempt to close the borders to asylum seekers EU leaders deliberately ignored the facts, says John Dahlhuisen, Europe Director at Amnesty International. “Turkey is not a safe country for Syrian refugees and it is getting more insecure day by day.”

From next Monday on the first refugees stranded in Greece will be returned to Turkey, as agreed in the deal between Turkey and the EU.

Undocumented

Many of the people who are sent back from Turkey to Syria are refugees without papers, says Amnesty. Syrians who want to stay in Turkey, should, according to the Turkish authorities, have certain documents.

According to Amnesty, these documents often don’t exist or is it impossible for refugees to register. Refugees who are arrested by the police and do not have such documents, are deported.

Borderline situations

“The EU came up with a solution. Turkey was within a few weeks transformed into a ‘safe country’, so refugees could soon go there. It’s wishful thinking elevated to pseudo-reality. It is ignoring the borderline situations that exist especially in Turkey, the country that previously sent refugees back to Syria”, writes Eduard Nazarski of Amnesty in the Netherlands today in a column.

CIA-armed, Pentagon-armed paramilitaries fight each other in Syria


This video from the USA says about itself:

The Pentagon & CIA Are Arming Different Sides Of The Syrian War

28 March 2016

Syrian militias armed by different parts of the U.S. war machine have begun to fight each other on the plains between the besieged city of Aleppo and the Turkish border, highlighting how little control U.S. intelligence officers and military planners have over the groups they have financed and trained in the bitter five-year-old civil war…

Read more here and here and here.

ISIS destruction of Palmyra, Syria not total


This Associated Press video says about itself:

Raw: Drone Footage Captures Palmyra Ruins, City

27 March 2016

Russian state television footage from Palmyra on Sunday, as well as drone video obtained from the Syrian Military Media Centre, showed aerials of what remained of the ancient city after the Islamic State group (IS) was forced from the area.

From Associated Press:

By Albert Aji and Philip Issa

DAMASCUS, Syria — Mar 28, 2016, 1:25 AM ET

The recapture of the ancient city of Palmyra by Syrian government forces scores an important victory over Islamic State fighters who waged a 10-month reign of terror there and marks the first major defeat for the extremist group since an international agreement to battle terrorism in the fractured nation took effect last year.

The city known to Syrians as the “Bride of the Desert” is famous for its 2,000-year-old ruins that once drew tens of thousands of visitors each year before the Islamic State group destroyed many of the monuments.

The extent of the destruction remained unclear after government troops took the town in central Syria on Sunday. Initial footage on Syrian state TV showed widespread rubble and shattered statues. But Palmyra’s grand colonnades appeared to be in relatively good condition. …

International airstrikes have pounded IS territory, killing two top leaders in recent weeks, according to the Pentagon. Those strikes have also inflicted dozens of civilian casualties. …

IS drove government forces from Palmyra in a matter of days last May and later demolished some of its best-known monuments, including two large temples dating back more than 1,800 years and a Roman triumphal archway.

State TV showed the rubble left over from the destruction of the Temple of Bel as well as the damaged archway, the supports of which were still standing. It said a statue of Zenobia, the third century queen who ruled an independent state from Palmyra and figures strongly in Syrian lore, was missing.

Artifacts inside the city’s museum also appeared heavily damaged on state TV. A sculpture of the Greek goddess Athena was decapitated, and the museum’s basement appeared to have been dynamited, the hall littered with broken statues.

Still, state media reported that a lion statue dating back to the second century, previously thought to have been destroyed by IS militants, was found in a damaged but recoverable condition.

Extremists beheaded the archaeological site’s 81-year-old director, Riad al-Asaad, in August after he reportedly refused to divulge where authorities had hidden some of the treasures before the group swept in. IS militants view the ruins as monuments to idolatry. …

Maamoun Abdulkarim, director of the museums and antiquities department in Damascus, said Palmyra’s Great Colonnade had suffered only minor damage. “We will rebuild what you have destroyed,” he said, addressing IS.

USA: Kerry sought to ‘send a message’ to Assad via cruise missile strikes against Syrian government positions but Obama refused proposal: here.

Russia is withdrawing from Syria – and the U.S. should follow suit: here.

Benghazi, Hollywood propaganda and Syrian war reality


This (audio) video says about itself:

Matthew Alford on Military Media Manipulation (1/6)

4 August 2011

Matthew Alford has taught at the Universities of Bath and Bristol and is now an independent scholar working on issues of American cinema, power and politics.

Author of “Reel Power: Hollywood Cinema and American Supremacy

And these five videos are the sequels.

By Ian Sinclair in Britain:

Benghazi: The real story

Monday 21st March 2016

HOLLYWOOD, as lecturer Matthew Alford explains in his 2010 book Reel Power, “routinely promotes the dubious notion that the United States is a benevolent force in world affairs.”

Thus Michael Bay’s $50 million recent film 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi tells the story of the September 11 2012 attack on the US consulate in Libya, which killed the US ambassador and three of his colleagues.

As with movies such as Black Hawk Down (2001) and Lone Survivor (2013) the audience watches as a small band of brave US servicemen heroically fight back against hundreds of faceless Arabs, with no apparent motive other than a hatred of Westerners.

13 Hours is clear about the benevolent intent of the US in Libya, with the initial credits explaining the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had an annex close to the US consulate, where operatives gathered intelligence to try their best to get weapons taken off the black market.

In an extensive February 2016 investigation into the US intervention in Libya, the New York Times repeats this official narrative, explaining the US “struggled against weapons proliferation” after Libyan leader Muammar Gadaffi had been overthrown and killed.

However, a number of reports show there is far more to the story than the US government, 13 Hours and the New York Times would have us believe.

In August 2013 CNN reported that dozens of CIA operatives had been on the ground in Benghazi and that “the agency is going to great lengths to make sure whatever it was doing remains a secret.”

According to one source quoted by CNN, the CIA has been involved in an unprecedented attempt to keep the spy agency’s Benghazi secrets from ever leaking out. All of which begs an obvious question: if the CIA were simply attempting to stop weapons proliferation in Libya, why would this need to be covered up?

Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh’s reporting on US actions in Libya may provide the answer. According to an article he published in the London Review of Books in April 2014, the CIA, with the assistance of Britain’s MI6, set up a “rat line” to funnel weapons and ammunition from Libya to Syria via southern Turkey. “The consulate’s only mission was to provide cover for the moving of arms,” says a former intelligence official quoted by Hersh.

Citing a classified annex to a US Senate intelligence committee report, Hersh notes the funding for the weapons transfers came from US allies Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

A formerly classified October 2012 US Defence Intelligence Agency report echoes Hersh’s discovery, noting that “during the immediate aftermath of … the downfall of the [Gadaffi] regime in October 2011 … weapons from the former Libyan military stockpiles located in Benghazi, Libya, were shipped” to Syria. Importantly, the report explains the shipments ended in early September 2012 — the date the US consulate was attacked and when Hersh also says the shipments ended.

Michael Morrell, the former deputy director of the CIA, confirmed the existence of the weapons shipments in testimony to the US House intelligence committee in November 2012. However, the part of the transcript showing Morrell’s response to a question asking whether the CIA was involved in co-ordinating the weapons transfers is redacted. “Long story short: the CIA was watching closely as our allies transferred weapons to Syrian rebels,” explained the independent journalist Marcy Wheeler, summarising Morrell’s testimony and the CIA report.

So, while many of the details are fuzzy, it seems clear the US was transferring weapons from Libya to Syria or, at the very least, was fully aware its allies were doing this and did nothing. Weapons, it should be noted, that a plethora of experts and observers — from former Nato secretary-generals to the United Nations — have warned will only escalate and deepen the war in Syria.

In addition to contradicting the Establishment-promoted image of US-British power as benevolent and positive, the real story of Benghazi fatally undermines the dominant narrative that, as BBC Today programme presenter Nick Robinson recently noted, the Obama administration has had a “deep unwillingness to get engaged in” the Syrian war. Or, as well-respected think-tanker Shadi Hamid argues, US policy in Syria has been one of “defensive minimalism.” Furthermore, the Libyan-Syrian “rat line” story also highlights another inconvenient truth: Hersh notes that “many of those in Syria who ultimately received the weapons were jihadists, some of them affiliated with al-Qaida.”

If, as the independent media icon Amy Goodman has said, “the role of journalism is to go where the silences are,” then the CIA and MI6 role in Benghazi should be the first port of call for anyone looking to shine a light on the nefarious machinations of the Western powers in the Middle East.

Ian Sinclair is the author of The March That Shook Blair: An Oral History of February 15 2003, published by Peace News Press. He tweets @IanJSinclair

In Syria, militias armed by the Pentagon fight those armed by the CIA.” (Nabih Bulos , W.J. Hennigan and Brian Bennett, Los Angeles Times)