Tuesday, September 18, 2018

American Politicians and Syria - What if Washington's Narrative is Wrong?

Recently, two American politicians have made it quite clear that they do not believe Washington's narrative on its actions in Syria.

Let's start by looking at a recent commentary by Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D -HI-02) from a speech she that gave on the House floor:

Two days ago, President Trump and Vice President Pence delivered solemn speeches about the attacks on 9/11, talking about how much they care about the victims of al-Qaeda’s attack on our country. But, they are now standing up to protect the 20,000 to 40,000 al-Qaeda and other jihadist forces in Syria, and threatening Russia, Syria, and Iran, with military force if they dare attack these terrorists.

“This is a betrayal of the American people, especially the victims of al-Qaeda’s attack on 9/11 and their families, first responders, and my brothers and sisters in uniform who have been killed or wounded in action and their families. For the President, who is Commander in Chief, to act as the protective big brother of al-Qaeda and other jihadists must be condemned by every Member of Congress.”

You can see her speech here:

Ms. Gabbard actually went on a fact-finding trip to Syria in January 2017 and actually met with Bashar al-Assad.

Believe it or not, Ms. Gabbard is not the only American politician that has been to Syria and met with President Assad.  Richard Black, a Republican Senator in the Virginia State Senate has recently returned from his second visit to Syria and had a three hour-long meeting with Bashar al-Assad.  Thanks to Sputnik News (one of those dreaded Russian media outlets) and Al Mayadeen, a Beirut-based television channel, he has shared his experiences with the world.  He last visited Syria in April of 2016 and, should you be interested in his observations from that visit, here is the entire interview with Jeffrey Steinberg of Executive Intelligence Review:

Now, let's look at Senator Black's most recent trip to Syria.  Here is a recent video of Richard Black during his visit in Syria, commenting on terrorist links in Syria and how the Syrian Army is trained to destroy terrorists while on the front lines of the civil war:

Here's a quote:

"This is their final stand (al Nusra/al Qaeda).  This is their last place in Idlib province where they have been cornered and trapped.  This should be a time when people in the United States, everyone who's concerned about terrorism would be ecstatic.  This is a wonderful time for us because we need revenge for what happened on 9/11.  We have fought a War of Terror for ...17 years and nothing to show and yet here the Syrian Army and their allies have cornered all of the terrorists in one place and of course there are many civilians that have been trapped.  They are used as human shields by the terrorists so we have to liberate them.  The Syrian Army is very careful to limit civilian casualties.  I've looked at the figures; civilian casualties are remarkably low considering the fact that we're in urban combat....it's a very brutal type of combat...We have tens of thousands of terrorists who hold this last refuge, this last place and they have to be destroyed.  It's for the Syrian Army to destroy them and at the same time to try to protect the civilians as much as possible.  They're trying to get the civilians out through humanitarian corridors, actually thousands of them have already gotten out.  I'm sure many more want to get out."

What if Senator Black is right and the anti-Assad Washington-based narrative is wrong?

According to an interview on Al Mayadeen which has been overdubbed into Arabic,  Senator Black claims that Britain's MI6 intelligence service is planning a chemical attack on Syria's civilian population in the Idlib region which would then be blamed on Assad.

Now, let's take a quick look at what Senator White had to say in his interview with Sputnik.  Here's what he had to say about President Assad when asked about the accuracy of how the Western media represents him:

“People in Syria know that he is a very humble individual. There is almost a touch of shyness about him. Incredibly intelligent and very devoted to his people.

He doesn't have an imperial presidency like we have and many Western countries have. When he suddenly goes to a religious ceremony, whether it's for the Muslims or the Christians, he drives himself, in his own SUV. He doesn't have an escort and people love him for this…

I do not know any other politician in any country who enjoys the level of popularity of President Assad. I ran into this in the countryside when I talked to shepherds. They would say: "We love our president; you need to let people in the West know how much we are devoted to President Assad."

Let's look at a recent ORB International opinion poll that was taken in Syria.  In the most recent poll taken in March 2018 , over half of Syrians (52 percent) believed that Assad will win the conflict, up from 42 percent in the prior year.   According to Global Research, in 2014 Bashar al-Assad's popularity was baffling, with many Syrians regarding his leadership as not firm enough (unlike his father's), leading to the nickname "Mr. Soft Heart".  Here is a quote from the paper by Tim Anderson who met the President in 2013:

"When I met President Assad, with a group of Australians, his manner was entirely consistent with the pre-2011 image of the mild-mannered eye doctor. He expressed deep concern with the impact on children of witnessing terrorist atrocities while fanatics shout ‘God is Great’. The man is certainly no brute, in the manner of Saddam Hussein or George W. Bush.

The key factor in Syria’s survival has been the cohesion, dedication and popular support for the Army. Syrians know that their Army represents pluralist Syria and has been fighting sectarian, foreign backed terrorism. This Army did not fracture on sectarian lines, as the Takfiris had hoped, and defections have been small, certainly less than 2%.

Has the Army committed abuses? Probably, but mainly against the armed groups. There is some evidence of execution of foreign terrorists. That is certainly a crime, but probably has a fair degree of popular support in Syria, at the moment. The main constraint on such abuses seems to be the army order from ‘Mr Soft Heart’, to save the lives of Syrian rebels.

However, despite the repeated claims by sectarian Islamists and their western backers, there is no convincing evidence that the Syrian Army has deliberately bombed and gassed civilians. Nor would there be a motive for it.  Nor does the behaviour of people on the streets support it. Most Syrians do not blame their army for the horrendous violence of this war, but rather the foreign backed terrorists.

These are the same terrorists backed by the governments of the USA, Britain and France, hiding behind the fig-leaf of the mythical ‘moderate rebel’ while reciting their catalogue of fabricated accusations.

The high participation rate (73%) in June’s presidential elections, despite the war, was at least as significant as the strong vote (88%) Bashar received. Even the BBC could not hide the large crowds that came out to vote, especially those that mobbed the Syrian Embassy in Beirut.

Participation rates are nowhere as near in the US; indeed no western leader can claim such a strong democratic mandate as this ‘dictator’. The size of Bashar’s win underlines a stark reality: there never was a popular uprising against this man; and his popularity has grown."

Going back to Senator Black's interview, here are his comments on what President Assad said about the upcoming battle in Idlib:

“…we discussed the upcoming battle in Idlib. You know that the Syrian army has recaptured almost all Syria and there is a pocket of ultra-extreme radicals in Idlib. The people in Idlib live under a domination of these very vicious jihadists...

If the US were to intervene on the side of the rebels in Idlib, we would be fighting shoulder to shoulder, alongside al-Qaeda, the same group that attacked the Twin Towers and the Pentagon on 9/11. So we did talk about Idlib, we talked about the prospects for the fighting and of course the president's desire to limit the bloodshed as much as he possibly can.

This has always been his policy throughout the war, unlike when we attacked Mosul and Raqqa and just carpet bombed and indiscriminately killed everyone who was in those cities. 

...President Assad made it quite clear: he wants all of the Syrians to return to Syria. The main power is the power of a nation. The Syrians are very intelligent, very hard-working. He wants them back.

I believe that is enough for this posting.  When you read reports about the situation in the Western mainstream media you have to ask yourself one simple question: "Has the person that wrote this report spent any time on the ground in Syria?".   At least in the case of Senator Black and Representative Gabbard, they have spent some time on the ground in Syria trying to gain a better understanding of the seven year-long civil war in person.  While both politicians are vilified by many in Washington, at least they are trying to decipher an extremely complex conflict that America has invited itself to attend.  Additionally, when it comes to war and Syria, who are you going to believe; a Major in the United States Army (Ms. Gabbard) and a decorated career military officer and Colonel who served in Vietnam (Richard Black) or this man who has never served a single second in battle but who seems to love war:

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