Syria: What we are not being told

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by Neil Godfrey

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Asia Times has a thoroughly documented article, A Mistaken Case for Syrian Regime Change, by Beirut based Aisling Byrne, a Projects Co-ordinator with Conflicts Forum. It is depressingly predictable reading.

In the last some weeks or more I have been only half-listening to any news of Syria I hear on the mainstream media for the simple reason that I have grown tired of hearing vague reports, unsubstantiated and contradictory reports, especially noticeable after I ever chanced to hear interviews in documentary type radio news programs, even on Al Jazeera, that all I have been sure of is that we are not being informed about what is happening there.

And Aisling Byrne’s article shows us why the news has been so unclear and incoherent. Except for the headlines that continually bombard us with the singular theme of genocidal tyrannical regime massacring its own people. I try to listen beyond the headlines and pick up some sourced facts and that’s where the headlines begin to turn into knotted strings beyond hope of unravelling. That leaves me suspicious that the headlines are a smokescreen for something. I eventually gave up listening because the detail was never there or never confirmed.

Read Aisling Byrne. It’s the same story as we experienced with the massaging of the Western publics to support the invasion of Iraq and then the humanitarian bombing of Libya. (Aisling has a little to say about that, too.)

Our mainstream Western media has for too many years now been the main cheerleaders for warmongering ventures of our governments acting on behalf of “our national interests”. (Translation of “national interest”: those specific interests within a nation that have the money and the power.)

Bush did it all wrong. He provoked ten million protestors to come out into the streets worldwide to try to stop a war. Ten million protestors don’t represent “national interests” so it would not do to make that mistake again. Libya showed a better way that became possible through exploitation of the Arab uprisings. Select target states (Libya and Syria) quickly found their peaceful civilian demonstrator replaced by armed gangs soliciting western military support. Curiously the same did not happen in states where popular protests threatened Western interests (e.g. Bahrain). Coincidence, of course.

Aisling Byrne’s article begins with the evidence that what is happening in Syria is the first chapter of a war on Iran, or at least regime change in Iran. This is confirmed by Under Secretary of State for the Near East Jeffrey Feltman and other sources.

What we are seeing in Syria is a deliberate and calculated campaign to bring down the Assad government so as to replace it with a regime “more compatible” with US interests in the region.

Remember that infamous Project for a New American Century? Well some of the same people behind that have been busy with a new document, Which Path to Persia? This is the “blueprint” for regime change in Iran produced by the neo-con Brookings Institute. A more recent appendix to this book is Towards a Post-Assad Syria produced by two neo-con think-tanks. It illustrates

how developments in Syria have been shaped according to the step-by-step approach detailed in the “Paths to Persia” report with the same objective: regime change.

Two of its authors are former senior neo-conservative officials within the Bush/Cheney administration. As we have come to expect, it includes plans for close alliances with Islamic extremists, including some with links to al-Qaeda.

Arguably, the most important component in this struggle for the “strategic prize” has been the deliberate construction of a largely false narrative that pits unarmed democracy demonstrators being killed in their hundreds and thousands as they protest peacefully against an oppressive, violent regime, a “killing machine” [7] led by the “monster” [8] Assad.

The numbers are online source references accessible from the online article itself. Following this Aisling discusses something of Libya but I won’t repeat that here.

But here is the now all too familiar betrayal of our mainstream media:

In Syria, we see the exact opposite [from how the propaganda was waged over Libya]: the majority of Western mainstream media outlets, along with the media of the US’s allies in the region, particularly al-Jazeera and the Saudi-owned al-Arabiya TV channels, are effectively collaborating with the “regime change” narrative and agenda with a near-complete lack of questioning or investigation of statistics and information put out by organizations and media outlets that are either funded or owned by the US/European/Gulf alliance – the very same countries instigating the regime change project in the first place.

Claims of “massacres”, “campaigns of rape targeting women and girls in predominantly Sunni towns” [10] “torture” and even “child-rape” [11] are reported by the international press based largely on two sources – the British-based Syrian Observatory of Human Rights and the Local Co-ordination Committees (LCCs) – with minimal additional checking or verification.

Hiding behind the rubric – “we are not able to verify these statistics” – the lack of integrity in reporting by the Western mainstream media has been starkly apparent since the onset of events in Syria. A decade after the Iraq war, it would seem that no lessons from 2003 – from the demonization of Saddam Hussein and his purported weapons of mass destruction – have been learnt.

There are three main sources for all the news we hear from Syria.

  1. The Syrian Observatory of Human Rights
  2. Local Co-ordination Committees (LCCs)
  3. al-Jazeera

I will leave it to anyone interested to read the background to each of these, who they are and what their particular interest is that motivates them to be involved the way they are.

Qatar has “foreign policy aspirations” that involve Syria (and Qatar is the funder of al-Jazeera) and hopefully conducted a survey to garner supporting data for those aspirations. Unfortunately their efforts backfired and their findings never made it to the mainstream.

A YouGov poll commissioned by the Qatar Foundation [20] showed last week that 55% of Syrians do not want Assad to resign and 68% of Syrians disapprove of the Arab League sanctions imposed on their country.

According to the poll, Assad’s support has effectively increased since the onset of current events – 46% of Syrians felt Assad was a “good” president for Syria prior to current events in the country – something that certainly doesn’t fit with the false narrative being peddled. . . . . 

Unsurprisingly, not a single mainstream major newspaper or news outlet reported the YouGov poll results – it doesn’t fit their narrative.

Aisling Byrne then cites other news sources, particularly from blogs and defectors (remember those Iraqi defectors who claimed to be eyewitnesses to all those weapons of mass destruction?), and demonstrates — with U.S. official support for her conclusions — that what we are being fed by the media are false reports and gross exaggerations.

The Paths to Persia book documents the steps a western government needs to apply to bring about regime change and each one is being followed to the letter.

All this is not to say that there isn’t a genuine popular demand for change in Syria against the repressive security-dominated infrastructure that dominates every aspect of people’s lives, nor that gross human-rights violations have not been committed, both by the Syrian security forces, armed opposition insurgents, as well as mysterious third force characters operating since the onset of the crisis in Syria, including insurgents, [51] mostly jihadis from neighboring Iraq and Lebanon, as well as more recently Libya, among others. . . .

But what may have began (sic) as popular protests, initially focused on local issues and incidents (including the case of the torture of young boys in Dera’a by security forces) were rapidly hijacked by this wider strategic project for regime change. Five years ago, I worked in northern Syria with the United Nations managing a large community development project.

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Neil Godfrey

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9 thoughts on “Syria: What we are not being told”

  1. A clandestine route to regime change in Iran? It’s hard not to approve of such a final result, no matter by what the means–if it worked out the way we wanted it. Unfortunately, Iraq has shown that it rarely if ever does and new problem situations are only created.

    Perhaps this behind the scenes alternative is what is keeping Israel from going on a bombing campaign in Iran.

    Isn’t it great to live in interesting times?

    1. Earl, Indeed! These are interesting times.

      Nothing brings out the skeptic in me like those sketchy reports from mainstream media of late. I find myself asking the TV (Tele) questions they themselves should have asked (and no I don’t answer myself!). Only, as of this date I have yet to form an opinion based on such sketchy information. Except! that it is obvious that our media is in the opinion manipulation configuration, and in agreement with Neil, most notably regarding Syria.

      Does anyone think the “green bands” of 2009-10 were attempts to bring Iran under a popular uprising? I was leaning toward organic and domestic, as opposed to manipulated, originally.

      Well, I’m off to read the original article.

      Oh, and thanks Neil!

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