Modern imperialism goes on trial, and is found guilty

3 Feb, 2018

ARCHIVE: Benghazi, Libya, February 28, 2016. © Esam Omran Al-Fetori / Reuters

Imperialism – which today is usually referred to by the euphemism ‘liberal interventionism’ – went on Trial at the Waterside Theatre in Derry, Northern Ireland this week.

Five passionate and well-informed speakers, who included the former British Ambassador to Syria Peter Ford, detailed the carnage and chaos that has been unleashed around the globe by the aggressive, warmongering policies of the US and its closest allies.

The event could have been called ‘War on Trial.’ It might have been called ‘Regime Change on Trial.’ Or ‘Economic Sanctions on Trial.’ But it was – thanks to organizer Gregory Sharkey – called ‘Imperialism on Trial’ and, as the first speaker, the writer and broadcaster John Wight declared, that in itself was highly significant.

For the truth is the ‘I’ word is the elephant in the room in contemporary discourse. We’re not supposed to acknowledge its existence. Imperialism, according to the dominant Establishment narrative, ended when the European empires gave their colonies independence in the 1950s and 60s. In fact, the ‘old’ imperialism was only replaced by a new variant which is even more destructive, and certainly more dishonest. At least the British Empire admitted it was an empire.

Today’s US-led neoliberal empire, which has Britain as its junior partner, does no such thing. Entire countries have been destroyed, with millions killed, and it’s been done under a ‘progressive’ banner trumpeting concern for ‘human rights’ and ‘enhancing freedoms.’

In an electrifying address, Wight lambasted the pro-imperial propaganda to which we are relentlessly subjected to in the West. How absurd is it, he asked, that NATO troops are on Russia’s borders, while Russian troops have been fighting in Syria the same ISIS/Al-Qaeda terrorist groups who have been killing British citizens back home? Citing Marx, Wight reminded the audience of how the ideas of the ruling class become the dominant ideas, and the demonization of Russia is a classic example of this. Ordinary Britons don’t regard Putin as a ‘threat’ as they go about their daily business, but they do – rightly – regard the terrorist groups that Russia has been fighting as a danger to them. But the ruling class hate Russia because it has thwarted its imperial ambitions.

Wight said that opponents of imperialism should never go on the back foot when confronted by supporters of criminal wars of aggression, such as the Iraq War – which has led to the deaths of around 1 million people and the rise of ISIS. He mentioned that these people hate the fact that there are now alternative media channels such as RT which challenge the dominant neocon/neoliberal narrative.

“Alternative media and those who go on it are under attack because they have the temerity to ask the most subversive question in the English language which is: Why? Why did we go to war in Iraq? Why are there sanctions on Cuba? Why are we going after Iran but are close friends with the Saudis? This question is so powerful. We are attacked because we ask the question, why? I am reminded of the African proverb that until lions have their own historians, tales of the hunt will always glorify the hunter. Now with the alternative media, the lions have their historians. We can put the case for the Syrian people; we can put the case for the Venezuelan people; we can put the case why Russia should not be our enemy.”

Speaking next, Peter Ford, the former British Ambassador to Syria and Bahrain, drew on his firsthand experience of many years as a diplomat and UN official based in the Middle East, to explain the current geopolitical situation.

“People who are not regular readers of the Morning Star might be forgiven for thinking that imperialism ended when the colonies became free. Nothing could be further from the truth. We now have a new more insidious but more powerful form of imperialism – one which hides behinds words in order to extend its hegemony. Expressions like ‘protecting our allies,’ ‘countering weapons of mass destruction’ or ‘defending human rights’ – and this one applies as much to the left as the right.”

“We on the left have to be particularly alert to ‘liberal interventionism’: this is actually the new version of ‘carrying the white man’s burden,” Ford continued. “In each case we are intervening in less developed parts of the world which are generally not able to strike back. Consider the appalling war in Yemen – one of the poorest and weakest countries in the world. It used to be a British colony but independence has not made it free. When the Yemenis dared to get rid of their pro-Saudi government, the Saudis, with British and American backing, started bombing and blockading Yemen. Conditions under siege and bombardment have led to a terrible epidemic of cholera.”

Any genuine humanitarians would be greatly concerned with the dire situation in Yemen, but guess what? The ‘liberal interventionists’ who egged on ‘humanitarian interventions’ elsewhere have been silent.

Looking at the global picture, Ford described how the US Empire operates.

“The Americans have nearly 800 bases around the world, spread over about 70 countries and territories. You show me a country with an American base and I’ll show you a de facto colony or vassal state. It’s almost mediaeval: You have to pay homage to the sovereign – America. That is our (the British) condition today. We are equivalent to a vassal state,” he said.


In my address, I stressed how important it was to see the US-led attacks, interventions and destabilization campaigns against sovereign states of the past 20 years as part of the same war, one waged for total global domination. Independent, resource-rich countries usually with socialist/socialistic governments and economies which weren’t controlled by global corporations, have been targeted, one-by-one. In each case, the leaders of the countries concerned were relentlessly demonized. They were called dictators, even though in the case of Hugo Chavez and Slobodan Milosevic they had won numerous democratic elections and operated in countries where opposition parties freely operated.

The ‘target states’ were subject to draconian sanctions which created economic hardship and a ‘pressure cooker’environment, which usually resulted in street protests against the government, egged on by the US. The governments were then told ‘the world is watching you’ and ordered not to respond, even when violence was used by protestors. The same strategy was deployed in Yugoslavia in 2000, Ukraine in 2014, and Venezuela in 2017. In Afghanistan and Iraq, we had a full-scale invasion (based on the ‘fake news’ that Saddam possessed WMDs) and in Libya (and Yugoslavia) a NATO bombing campaign.

There has been endless war for the past twenty years and it won’t end until we understand what’s been going on and demand a new foreign policy in place of the current racist one which holds that the US and its closest allies have the right to say who should or shouldn’t be in charge of other countries, but denies the same rights to the ‘inferior’ countries targeted.

Intrepid journalist Eva Bartlett, who had travelled all the way from Canada, came next and began by describing her experiences in the DPRK, another country that’s under threat of attack from the US.

“Many people believe that what is happening in North Korea is about a madman with a bad haircut and an itchy finger on the nuclear button. But no, it’s not about Trump,” she said to laughter from the hall.

Bartlett told how we’re encouraged to see North Korea as a threat but no context is usually given, nor is there mention of the utter devastation caused by US bombing back in the 1950s. Down the decades, there have been regular threats from leading US figures to obliterate North Korea.

“What the North Koreans are doing is defending themselves,” Bartlett said.

Having seen what has happened to Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, and other countries targeted by the US in recent years, who can possibly blame them?

In addition to visiting the DPRK in 2017, Bartlett has also been to Syria seven times since the conflict started there in 2011. She described her experiences in the country and explained how the situation on the ground was often very different from the dominant imperialist narrative which holds the Syrian government and President Assad responsible for every evil. She gave as an example the liberation of eastern Aleppo from terrorists in December 2016, which was portrayed as a terrible thing by much of the Western media and the political establishment.

“Corporate media described Aleppo as falling, while Syrians were celebrating the full liberation of the city and Christians were able to celebrate Christmas for the first time in years,” she said.

The final speaker of the evening was the legendary George Galloway who dazzled us with his oratory, humor, and sheer bloody brilliance. Galloway quoted Dr. Samuel Johnson, saying that “the grimmest dictatorship of them all is the dictatorship of the prevailing orthodoxy. And that’s the dictatorship under which we live. We can argue about the color of the paint on the walls of Westminster, but on the things that really matter the parameters are very narrow. Neoliberal economics and neoconservative imperialist politics abroad – that’s the prevailing orthodoxy. So anyone who challenges it must by definition be portrayed as – and turned into – an outlaw. Isn’t that the world in which we live?”

Reminding people on the pivotal role the Soviet Red Army had played in the defeat of the Nazis, he declared “we live in an era where we’re encouraged to hate and fear Russia. But I will never, ever hate Russia and remain silent while others generate hate against her.”

At time of writing the video of Imperialism on Trial on the RTUK Facebook page has had 35K views. The event was such a success that a ‘Roadshow’ is already being planned. The ‘I word’ needs to be openly discussed. Because if we don’t speak out forcefully and fearlessly against modern imperialism, and call it out for what it is, we could well be heading for Armageddon.

Neil Clark is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and blogger. He has written for many newspapers and magazines in the UK and other countries including The Guardian, Morning Star, Daily and Sunday Express, Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman, The Spectator, The Week, and The American Conservative. He is a regular pundit on RT and has also appeared on BBC TV and radio, Sky News, Press TV and the Voice of Russia. He is the co-founder of the Campaign For Public Ownership @PublicOwnership. His award winning blog can be found at He tweets on politics and world affairs @NeilClark66
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President al-Assad to Army heroes in Ghouta: Syrian people are proud of field victories you achieve to restore security to Homeland

Damascus, SANA- President Bashar al-Assad on Sunday toured the front lines in Eastern Ghouta and met a number of Syrian Arab Army heroes positioned in a number of sites, congratulating them on the victories they achieve to end the suffering of Ghouta families and rescue them from the terrorists who were besieging them as human shields.
President al-Assad affirmed to army’s heroes that the Syrian people are pride of every soldier who has carried the gun to defend his homeland and pride of the field achievements being gained to restore security and stability, as well, to rescue the Syrian citizens from the claws of terrorism and its supporters.
“Every soldier, combatant or pilot who was carrying out the mission to whom he was charged, he changed the political map and the world balances with each village or city he has contributed to its liberation,” President al-Assad said.
During the tour, President al-Assad also met a number of families who have got out of regions where terrorists are still seizing, affirming that all state institutions work to secure needs of the families who were able to escape from terrorists and leave the areas where they still control.
“The state is responsible for protecting Ghouta families and liberate them from the terrorists’ grip and restoring security and stability to them and to the region,” the President said.
Later, the President visited one of the operations’ rooms working in the region where he was briefed on the track of the battles and the upcoming plans set for continuing the military operation and expelling the terrorists from the whole area.
President al-Assad stressed the necessity of going ahead in the fight against terrorism, but, at the same time, giving utmost interest to civilians if they were inside those areas, particularly as the people’s embracement to the Syrian army is one of the basic reasons of the coming victories, adding that the people’s support to army is based on the army’s protection of the citizens.


Syria War: What the mainstream media isn’t telling you about Eastern Ghouta

5 March 2018  | - by Rania Khalek

As Syrian government forces battle Jaysh al-Islam to retake Eastern Ghouta, Western media outlets have totally ignored the atrocities of the insurgents, preferring to blame all the violence on the "regime."

They're at it again, howling about a town in Syria that’s being retaken by the government. This time it’s Eastern Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus and one of the last remaining strongholds of the Islamist insurgency that has torn the country apart over the last seven years.

Before Eastern Ghouta it was Aleppo and before Aleppo it was Madaya and before Madaya it was Homs, and so on. All of these places were framed as though there were no armed insurgents present, and the Syrian authorities were just mercilessly massacring civilians out of cartoonishly villainous bloodlust. If the insurgents were mentioned, they were usually (and still are) presented by the western press as moderate rebels and freedom fighters.

So if your only understanding of Eastern Ghouta comes from the mainstream media, then you’re left with the impression that there’s a one-sided conflict taking place between the Syrian government and its civilians. But this war isn’t so simple.

Jihadist leaders

The "rebels" in charge of Eastern Ghouta are a collection of jihadist groups, the strongest of which is Jaysh al-Islam, or the Army of Islam, a Salafi-Jihadist group backed by Saudi Arabia that seeks to replace the Syrian government with an Islamic State. Jaysh al-Islam is extremely sectarian and just as nasty in its rhetoric, tactics and goals as IS (ISIS). It engages in public executions and has publicly bragged about parading caged civilians from the minority Alawite sect in the streets as human shields. The group’s founder, the late Zahran Alloush, openly called for the ethnic cleansing of religious minorities from Damascus.

The second largest group is Faylaq al-Rahman, which is allied with Hayet Tahrir al-Sham, or HTS, the latest name for Syria’s Al-Qaeda affiliate. HTS also has a small presence in Eastern Ghouta as well as Ahar al-Sham and Nour al-Din al-Zenki, former recipients of US weapons whose fighters videotaped themselves beheading a teenage boy.

Information war

Most recently, civilians fleeing Eastern Ghouta have described being fired on by militants seeking to prevent them from escaping to the safety of government-controlled territory, another fact that Western media outlets refuse to report. Reports that insurgents were withholding food and humanitarian aid from civilians have similarly been ignored by the mainstream.

Syria is perhaps the most heavily propagandized civil (sic) war in history. Tens of millions of dollars have been spent by Western governments and their regional allies building a media apparatus that sanitizes the insurgency, blames all of the violence on the government and agitates for more forceful Western military intervention against Syrian president Bashar Assad. And Western media outlets have come to rely on these propaganda sources for information about the conflict.

The most famous is the White Helmets, a rescue group heavily funded by the US and UK governments. Marketed by a top PR firm, the White Helmets openly advocate for regime change while working alongside Al-Qaeda-linked rebels in opposition areas. Some of its members have participated in atrocities on video, a fact almost entirely ignored by Western media, which is enamored with the group.

The other go-to source for Western media outlets is the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring organization that is run by one man working from his house in Britain who is openly biased towards the opposition.

Western media also frequently relies on self-described “media activists” in areas of Syria controlled by militant groups. But these groups don’t tolerate activism or journalism. In fact, they are known to jail, torture and summarily execute activists, lawyers, humanitarian workers, journalists and minorities. That’s why Western journalists can’t travel to insurgent-held areas of Syria: because they’ll likely be kidnapped, ransomed or killed.

This should raise serious questions about anyone purporting to be an independent source of information from inside insurgent-held Syria because it’s impossible for people to put out information without the permission of the jihadist authorities who have an interest in promoting a narrative that provokes outrage and spurs intervention. This is especially true in Eastern Ghouta, where insurgents are currently losing ground. The only thing that can save Jaysh al-Islam from defeat is outside intervention.

Of course, information coming from government areas should also be treated with skepticism. Because, after all, governments also lie. But in the case of Syria, the western press already treats media reports out of Syrian government areas as if they’re all made-up, while unquestioningly regurgitating whatever the insurgents say as fact. Meanwhile, the media totally ignores victims in government areas.

Al-Qaeda death squads

For years, insurgents in Eastern Ghouta have terrorized and killed thousands of civilians living in Damascus, which you almost never hear about in the West. Instead, mainstream outlets are busy crying out for the west to do something.

And that brings us to one of the Western media’s most pernicious lies, how Western inaction allowed the bloodshed in Syria to continue with impunity. But the west has intervened in Syria and by doing so it prolonged the slaughter and empowered Al-Qaeda.

Despite being warned as early as November 2011 that the armed opposition was dominated by violent sectarian extremists, the Obama administration spent $1 billion a year training and funneling weapons to an insurgency they knew was linked to Al-Qaeda in order to overthrow the Syrian government. Al-Qaeda has built its largest affiliate in history as a direct result of this reckless US regime change policy.

In other words, the US government outsourced its war on Syria to Al-Qaeda death squads and Americans have no idea because Western media continue to promote lies about the West’s so-called inaction.

This is not about glorifying the Syrian government, which is indeed authoritarian and extremely flawed. It’s about what would have replaced the government had it collapsed. The alternative was unacceptable to most Syrians. That is why the vast majority of Syrians – at least 75 percent as of 2016, a number that is certainly higher today as the government has recaptured vast swathes of territory from insurgents – live in government-controlled areas. In fact, millions fled to the safety of government controlled cities after insurgents violently captured their areas to escape the criminal behavior of the armed insurgents. Others fled because they feared the government bombing that the extremist groups invited when they entered.

To really understand the severity of what the US did in Syria, let’s put it in the American context. It would be the equivalent of America’s adversaries funding and arming the KKK to invade and occupy cities in the US and the media then describing the KKK militias as “moderate rebels” and “freedom fighters” as they kill minorities and shell civilians in Washington, New York and Los Angeles. Imagine how Washington might react in such a scenario. Well actually you don’t have to imagine. Look no further than their global killing spree after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, which ironically enough created the Al-Qaeda threat in the Middle East to begin with.

Double standards

And then there’s the massive double standard at play.

After IS captured large swathes of territory in Iraq, the Iraqi government, with American air support, launched a series of operations to retake cities like Mosul and Fallujah and Tikrit, which the Western press almost always celebrated as liberation.

Meanwhile in Syria, the Syrian government, with Russian air support, has used many of the same military tactics to retake cities like Aleppo and Eastern Ghouta from groups no different than IS, yet the media has framed those operations as heinous acts that amount to genocide.

The conflict in Syria might be a confusing and complicated mess. But as the howls from the mainstream press for the West to do something grow louder, it’s important to stay mindful of the fact that there is an agenda behind their one-sided version of reality.

By Rania Khalek
Rania Khalek is an American journalist, writer and political commentator based in the Middle East.

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Western & Saudi backed terrorists continue killing Damascus civilians
with shells & missiles they throw from E. Ghouta.
Also see |
Ben Swan's Reality Check: Proof That Those "Moderate Rebels" in #Syria are Really Jihadists.


What is happening in Eastern Ghouta?

With the Syrian army's new operation towards Eastern Ghouta, supported by Russia, another media campaign has been launched, a similar of which was employed for Aleppo before. Images and "information" obtained from "activists" who move in concert with around 10 thousand militants from different groups in Eastern Ghouta are being utilised in international media to make an impression that the war is "between the people of Eastern Ghouta and the Assad regime." The aim of the intended international pressure is to cause the militarily powerful Damascus administration to step back.

soL News | 28 February 2018

The current operation of the Syrian army on the Eastern Ghouta suburb of Damascus, launched with the full support of Russia, is being attempted to be stopped through a large media campaign because the military situation is against the armed groups which are backed by the countries engaged in a proxy war towards Syria in order for a regime shift in the country. Sustained by the claims of the al-Qaeda or Muslim Brothers-associated “activists” being taken outright as truth and the images provided by those circles, the campaign represents the story as the Syrian army’s war against civilians rather than around ten thousand militants carrying out missile and mortar attacks to the capital Damascus from Eastern Ghouta. As for the panic in the countries advocating a regime shift in Syria, led by the USA, it is connected with the fact that Eastern Ghouta is the third big milestone to designate the future of the country after the battle of al-Qusayr in the Lebanese border in Spring 2013 and the battle of Aleppo in 2016.


Because of its nearness to the capital Damascus, Eastern Ghouta has been amongst the most important fronts in the proxy war against Syria, which was started in 2011. According to a report by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, approximately ten thousand militants are estimated to be situated in Eastern Ghouta, besieged since 2013, which is a 100 square km area accommodating around 250 thousand civilians according to the UN. Connecting Damascus to Homs and Aleppo and leading to the Jordanian border in the south, the M5 highway runs through Eastern Ghouta, and it has been blocked since 2012. Eastern Ghouta is also located on the main roads linking Damascus to Deir ez-Zor via Palmyra, in other words, leading to the Iraqi border. If the Syrian army declares its victory against the militants in Eastern Ghouta, in addition to these roads being opened, the Syrian war will gain a "rural" appearance again as in early 2012, with the presence of the armed groups in Damascus being substantially eliminated.

This means Damascus and Moscow growing their hands stronger in the negotiations on the future of Syria. Besides, as the Syrian army gave the sign that it will head towards the southern border through the downing of an Israeli F-16 fighter jet at the beginning of February, taking back of Eastern Ghouta will both mean the security threat towards Damascus behind the front to be removed and ensure the best troops of the Syrian army which have been stuck in this front for five years to break free.

Therefore, the operation on Eastern Ghouta, which is a candidate third front of the Syrian war, has created an air of panic in the countries participating in the anti-Assad coalition, led by the USA. While the operation is attempted to be stopped through a media campaign, France, Britain and the US forces the Damascus administration to turn a blind eye to the presence of armed groups. However, how successful this scenario, which was also tried in Aleppo, will be is a complete mystery. Although the UN Security Council took a decision on Saturday to declare a 30-day ceasefire throughout Syria with the pressure of the US, France, and Britain, it is significant that the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), was excluded from the scope of the agreement. The known presence of this group in Eastern Ghouta’s neighbourhoods facing the central Damascus can enable the operation to continue without violating the ceasefire decision at least technically.


Groups that are predominantly supported by Saudi Arabia and Qatar are present in Eastern Ghouta.

Army of Islam: The centre of the Army of Islam, which is the largest group in the region thanks to the help of Saudi Arabia, is Douma, which is also referred to as the "capital of Eastern Ghouta." Information that were reflected in the US intelligence documents ,such as the Saudis providing this group with 120 tonnes of explosive "with the occasion of the second year of the Revolution" and the Syrian capital being bombarded with missiles and mortars that day with the Saudi instruction to "set fire to Damascus," reveals the control of the al-Saud dynasty over the group.

In July 2012, five senior officials, including the defence and interior ministers of Syria, lost their lives in the Syrian National Security Meeting, targeted by the bombing attack of the Army of Islam. Even though the group is categorised as "moderate," its leader Zahran Alloush, who was killed in an airstrike of the Syrian airforce in 2015, said that they considered democracy as blasphemy, and described their aim as "to establish an Umayyad state to crush the heads of Shias and Alevis." In 2013, the Army of Islam leaked in Adra, located opposite to Douma, to murder around 40 civilians, and then "exhibited" the people they kidnapped from here in the streets of Eastern Ghouta, putting them in cages.

Al-Rahman Corps: The second largest group of Eastern Ghouta is known for its affinity to Qatar. Frequently engaging in combat with the Army of Islam due to the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, al-Rahman Corps demolished the Marj Al-Sultan Radar Base, the eye of Damascus monitoring Israel, in November 2012. Two months after this incident, Israel organised its first air attack on Syria, and Abdul al-Nasr Shamir, the leader of al-Rahman Corps, admitted that that received three million dollars from Qatar to destroy the radar base.

Ahrar al-Sham: Founded by Abu Khalid al-Suri, the Damascus representative of the al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, the organisation controls the Harasta region of Eastern Ghouta, facing the central Damascus. Also called the "favourite of Turkey," Ahrar al-Sham carried out an attack on the Armoured Vehicle Base in Harasta in November to stop the army operations in the Idlib front. The ceasefire in Eastern Ghouta ended with this attack.

Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham: Having become the largest armed around Syria after the defeat of the ISIS, the HTS, formerly known as al-Nusra Front, has a lower profile in Eastern Ghouta. This is because the vast majority of the militants in the rural Damascus obeyed the ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in the ISIS-al-Nusra collision took place in 2013. Leaking from Eastern Ghouta, the HTS militants performed bombing attacks in the central Damascus many times before. As a result of last two major attacks in July and October, which were allegedly organised by the HTS, 37 civilians lost their lives.


Eastern Ghouta, near the capital Damascus, is amongst the places in Syria where the armed groups are strongest. The main reason for this is that Eastern Ghouta was one of the biggest victims of Syria’s adventure of neo-liberalisation. Having obtained a relatively modern watering opportunity with the technical support of the Soviet Union, Eastern Gouta was the food store of the capital Damascus. However, the neoliberal policies implemented with Bashar al-Assad taking the office in 2000 dealt a big blow to the agriculture of Eastern Ghouta.

Besides, Eastern Ghouta, which hosted leather and shoe workshops before the war, was a worker basin for Damascus at the same time. These workshops went bankrupt because of failing to compete with the Turkish products crowding into Syria owing to the rapprochement in the bilateral relations with Turkey, which continued until 2011. The region where unemployment skyrocketed was also volatile before 2011. What complicated the situation were the activities of the Islamist groups in Eastern Ghouta, which was in the grip of unemployment and poverty. Organising aid campaigns with the donations from the Gulf countries, these groups have reached a wide social segment in Eastern Ghouta by 2011. Thus, Douma, or the "capital" of Eastern Ghouta, was one of the first cities to join in the demonstrations started in 2011 in Syria.

Between 2012 and 2013, thousands of militants in Eastern Ghouta attempted an offensive towards the central Damascus with the weapons transported via Jordan but they failed. In the meantime, the conflicts were making the news in the western media with the humane tragedy they caused being completely disguised, and were disclosed with headlines such as "Rebels advancing towards Assad's heart" or "Conflicts can be heard from Assad’s palace on Mount Qasioun." However, around 600 thousand people in Damascus became refugees, abandoning their homes as a result of the conflicts. After the Syrian army took back the strategic Otaybah village in the east of Eastern Ghouta in 2013, the region’s connection to Jordan was cut, and the armed groups there were besieged. Today, however, the militants can still transport the arms aid provided by Jordan to Eastern Ghouta through smugglers and tunnel networks.


While the Syrian army turned the tables on itself in the field, the armed groups in Eastern Ghoutah lost blood in bloody internal conflicts. The bloodiest of these conflicts occurred in Spring 2017 between the Army of Islam and al-Rahman Corps, which took support from Ahrar al-Sham and the HTS. More than 400 people, predominantly militant, incidentally civilian, died during the one-month conflicts.

Although the conflicts were generally over the control of the checkpoints opening to Damascus, which were transformed into an important income channel, they were, in fact, a reflection of the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Qatar in Eastern Ghouta, which is one of the most important fronts in Syria, in the background. The biggest victim of these conflicts of the armed groups is civilians. Today, Eastern Ghouta is divided into two between the Army of Islam and al-Rahman Corps, and both groups are being accused of kidnapping, torturing, and even killing civilians from the cities under the control of the counterparty.


When it came to Damascus, the Syrian army deployed its best-equipped troops in there. And it surpassed the militants, which are devoid of coordination, over time with strategic steps such as the taking back of Otaybah. However, the negotiations conducted by the "national dialogue committee" in the Aleppo front, which near the end today with Eastern Ghouta, was also effective in the today's scene to develop. For instance, the militants in Yalda and Qaboun, which link Eastern and Western Ghoutas to each other, preferred a ceasefire with the Damascus administration, handing over their heavy weapons to the army. As for Darayya, which is the most important front of Western Ghouta, militants accepted to be sent to Idlib by busses.

When it came to 2017, the armed groups in the Damascus front became quite isolated in Eastern Ghouta. The Syrian army fairly shrank the Eastern Ghouta pocket by taking back critical villages such as Marj Al-Sultan, al-Malihah, and Deir al-Asafir. This also dealt a big blow to the weapon shipment of militants in tunnels. However, paying attention to Aleppo first and then the ISIS, the army preferred a ceasefire in Eastern Ghouta. The last of these ceasefires ended in last November with the attack of armed groups towards the Armoured Vehicle Base in Harasta.


The only topic that the militant troops in Eastern Ghouta converge on is the missile and mortar attacks towards Damascus targeting civilian settlements. According to Syria’s claim, the number of the civilians who died in militant attacks in five years reaches to ten thousand. A total of 25 civilians died in attacks on Damascus in the last three days only. Amongst the places shot by militants are schools and hospitals, along with the Russian Embassy and a point where the Russian army disperses humanitarian aid. Militants also rejected Russia’s offer of a "secure passage to Idlib or Daraa." The only group to accept the secure evacuation was the HTS. Conditioning that their militants which were taken prisoner by the Army of Islam during their conflicts with this group will be released, the HTS stayed in Eastern Ghouta following the Army of Islam’s unfavourable reply.

On the other hand, the biggest assurance of militants is a total population of 250 thousand civilians in Eastern Ghouta. Even though the maps of the secure exit points in the Eastern Ghouta region are being airdropped by Syrian planes, no large civilian exists have occurred to date. A report by the UN-affiliated REACH states that militants prevent civilians from leaving Ghouta by force. In a period when the Syrian army is planning to head to the Israeli border, it is no longer possible for the Damascus administration to ignore the militants in Eastern Ghouta, which pose a threat to the capital and create a big security risk. Again according to the claims, at the first stage, the Syrian army aims at the region where al-Rahman Corps is located and which is Eastern Ghouta’s border to the central Damascus. As for Douma, held by the Army of Islam, to be brought under control through negotiation, it is stated that Russia’s process to persuade Saudi Arabia continues.


Sources of the news in the western media on Eastern Ghouta are generally the "activists" who move in concert with militants in the field. Western media take the claims of these anonymous activists as truth outright, and uses the images again provided by them. Other sources than "anonymous activists" are the White Helmets and the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS). White Helmets is a "humanitarian aid foundation" that receives 90 billion dollars of help from Britain and the USA ], which push for a regime shift in Syria. Frequently made the news with its "close relations" with jihadist groups, the White Helmets argued these claims to be a "smear campaign of the Assad regime;" however, they saw no harm in accepting the award given by the HTS. In an uploaded video of the prize ceremony, the HTS leader at the time, Abu Jaber, thanks to the White Helmets, which he dubs as "the hidden soldiers of our revolution."

As for the SAMS, it is the main source of the news that "Assad bombs the last hospital" in Eastern Ghouta after Aleppo. Most recently, the group claimed that the 13 hospitals it runs in Eastern Ghouta had been bombed by fighter jets. However, due to the organic bonds of the SAMS with the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood which it doesn’t feel the need to hide, the statements of the SAMS-linked doctors are mostly being used in the western media anonymously. Indeed, making sectarian statements such as "We will turn Syria into an Alevi graveyard," the group engages in lobbying for the US to intervene in Syria.


The fact that "opponents" are being used as a news source for Eastern Ghouta stories has transformed the western media into a tool for the political aims of these groups. The determination so strong that shortly after the White Helmets' statement that "Eastern Ghouta is another Srebrenica," comparing Eastern Ghouta with Srebrenica has become an epidemic amongst the western newspapers and televisions, the British Guardian being the first.

The news based on the claims of the "opponents" and the images they provided make the impression that the war is fundamentally occurring between the civilians that are stuck in Eastern Ghouta and the Syrian army. Meanwhile, the presence of militants who possess tanks, rockets, mortars, and even missiles in Eastern Ghouta, right beside the central Damascus, is being concealed.

This brings about the opportunity for mortar and rocket attacks of militants to the central Damascus to be hidden or be squeezed between the lines at best. Images regarding the moments of terror during the attacks of militants in Eastern Ghouta can occasionally be released to the market as images of the Syrian army’s attack towards Eastern Ghouta.

For instance, the footage of a mortar fired from Eastern Ghouta hitting a primary school was claimed by Fox TV to be shot in a school in Eastern Ghouta during the attack of the Syrian army. As the Syrian administration accepts the civilian casualties in its operation on Eastern Ghouta, it denies the claims that it deliberately targeted civilians during the offensive. Stressing the thesis that no countries will tolerate the presence of armed groups in its capital, the Damascus administration reminds that the militants rejected the suggestions for a secured passage and the evacuation of civilians.


Western media often draw an analogy between Eastern Ghouta and Aleppo. However, the unreminded truth was that only 34 thousand, including militants and their families, out of a total of 300 thousand Syrians who were reportedly living in the east of Aleppo which was under control of armed groups had chosen to go to Idlib with militants. According to the UN figures, the number of refugees who returned to Aleppo after the Syrian army taking control of the city is 400 thousand.

Aleppo also became an important experiment on to what extend the images of killed or wounded civilians represent all aspects of the war. As it can be remembered, little Omran Daqneesh, publicised as the "Aleppo boy," was made the "symbol of the Assad atrocity" following an airstrike of Syrian fighter jets; however, it was revealed then that the Omran's family was a supporter of Assad. Having rejected the interview offers of militants, worth of thousands of dollars, when Eastern Aleppo was under control of armed groups, as well as refused to leave the city with militants after their defeat, the father Daqneesh accused the rebels of exploiting his son in order to defame the Syrian government.


Attitudes of the countries leading the Eastern Ghouta campaigns are in a striking contradiction with their stance on Yemen, which has been destroyed through the severe blockade and intense airstrikes of Saudi Arabia. Amongst the most active countries regarding Eastern Ghouta, France, Britain, and the US give military support to the Saudis. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who accuses Assad of performing a massacre in Eastern Ghouta, also offered military support to the Saudis with respect to Yemen.

However, the contradiction doesn’t only belong to these countries. For instance, the Human Rights Watch named the missile strike of Yemeni Houthis on a major Saudi airport as a "war crime." Also having launched a campaign to stop the Eastern Ghouta operation, the Amnesty International published a report alleging that the most important reason for the civilian casualties in Sana'a, the capital of Yemen, is the use of anti-craft weapons against Saudi fighter jets.

As for the Turkish state-run Anadolu Agency, which leads the campaign in Turkey, it did what even the Saudi state television Al Arabiya didn’t, describing the shooting of a Saudi warship by the Houthis as a "terror attack."

British Diplomatic Cable Unveils US Plots to Disintegrate Syria

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24 Feb 2018

The Arabic-language al-Akhbar newspaper ( wrote on Saturday that the US officials along with their western allies have decided to implement a detailed plan to disintegrate Syria and prolonge the war in the country by continued deployment on the Eastern banks of the Euphrates.

In a somewhat familiar but precise English, Benjamin Norman - a diplomat in charge of the Middle East at the British Embassy in Washington - reports in a confidential diplomatic telegram of the first meeting of the "Small American Group on Syria" (United States, Great Britain, France, Saudi Arabia and Jordan), held in Washington on January 11, 2018.

In this five-page TD, he reveals the details of the "Western strategy" in Syria: partition of the country, sabotage of Sochi, framing of Turkey and instructions to the UN Special Representative Staffan de Mistura who leads the negotiations of Geneva. A Non Paper (8 pages) accompanies this TD in anticipation of the second meeting of the "Small Group". It was held in Paris on January 23, mainly devoted to the use of chemical weapons and the "instructions" sent by the "Small American Group" to Staffan de Mistura.

Hugh Cleary (Head of the Near and Middle East Department of the Foreign Office ), Jérôme Bonnafont (Director ANMO / North Africa and Middle East at the Quai d'Orsay), David Satterfield (US Assistant Secretary of State for the Middle East) and Jordanian Nawaf Tell and Saudi Jamal al-Aqeel attended the January 11 meeting in Washington. The American opened the meeting, stating that a second meeting would be held in Paris on January 23.

David Satterfield confirmed that President Trump has decided to maintain a large US military presence in Syria, despite the victory over the "Islamic State Organization" (Daesh); the cost of this maintenance being set at $ 4 billion annually. He said that this US military presence should prevent any resurgence of Daesh but, above all, to prevent the Iranians from what he called as settling permanently and imposing themselves in the search for a political solution". Thirdly, he insisted that the first meeting of the "Small Group" should also provide "material and political support for Staffan de Mistura to" consolidate the Geneva process ".

All the participants welcomed this development very positively in order to "make substantial progress in Syria during the year 2018" and "respond to the propaganda of a Russian victory". Then, the participants insisted on the "Russian desire to achieve a political solution" that was to be used to make the "Small Group" objectives "more operational".

The United States noted that they would no longer participate in the Astana meetings, having reduced "their participation to a very low level, to emphasize their commitment to Geneva"; in definitive terms, it was decided to "draw a conceptual line on Astana to return to Geneva". They then felt that so far "Geneva remained a failure, despite the efforts of Staffan de Mistura". They were very cautious about including the ceasefire in the Geneva talks: "the truth is that we just do not have the ability to prevent the regime from nibbling the pockets of the opposition. remaining in Idlib and East of Ghouta ".

TD reports great progress "made by the opposition over the last few months," pointing out that "it will still need to be more flexible to ensure that the Regime does not leave Geneva (...) while the Americans do not support the assumption of a transitional government as provided for in UN Security Council Resolution 2254 ".

The text adds that "it would still be useful for the opposition to stop agitating this assumption all the time ...". It was also agreed that "the opposition had to be more flexible and stop agitating the bogeyman of a transitional government without changing the final goal of partitioning Syria and leaving Bashar al-Assad.

The French representative - Jérôme Bonnafont - posed the problem of a possible participation of Bashar al-Assad in future elections. David Satterfield responded that "the goal was to create conditions and institutions that would allow elections that Assad could not win."

Satterfield added that "there is no flagrant reason" to prevent Assad from being a candidate. Under these conditions, it was mainly a question of testing Russia's intentions, especially so that it could "get the regime to discuss a new constitution, free elections under the control of the United Nations, and the creation of an environment likely to favor these two processes".

Unrestricted agreement of all members of the "Small Group" meeting to "no longer be satisfied with Lavrov's honeyed words, in order to put Moscow under pressure". For Satterfield, it is about getting the Russians to let Assad go, "through meetings of the Security Council and a broad public communication campaign," believing that the announced re-election of Vladimir Putin positively undermined the Russian position.

One of the conclusions of this first meeting of the "Small Group" is perfectly clear: "to reinvigorate Geneva so that Sochi becomes irrelevant"; France demanding more "transparency on the Russian position". But it is still not to oppose "frontally" in Sochi "with the advantage of gathering a significant share of the Syrian civil society", to bring back the "most positive contributions to Geneva, to renew and relaunch this format of Geneva.

The Saudis warned of a "risk of fragmentation of the different opposition groups and asked for help to maintain the cohesion of the opposition." Satterfield replied that their representatives should "be more involved in finding a political solution rather than enjoy great salaries and long stays in pleasant hotels." France supported this remark by emphasizing "communication". In this regard, the British TD makes the following comment: "Unfortunately, the Fifth French Republic is not intended to finance this effort," British representatives recalling "that the communication of the opposition was funded in the first place by ... the United Kingdom ".

David Satterfield then explained that the Turkish opposition to the "Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG)" prevented the Kurds from participating in Geneva. While understanding Ankara's position, he stressed that "we could not ignore a group that controlled a third of Syria (SIC) and took the largest part in the fight against Daesh ".

He explained that "Americans were seeking to establish multi-ethnic leadership in northeastern Syria to dilute the hegemony of the YPG." On the other hand, it was necessary to impose the SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces, mainly Kurdish and under American control) in the process of Geneva.

Comment from the TD author: "I understand that the United States will appoint William (Bill) Roebuck, their former ambassador to Bahrain, as the SDF Special Representative. I will follow, but it is worth remembering - according to the separate discussions we had, for example with Fiona Hill - that relations between the United States and Turkey are already bad and unlikely to improve. As a result, Americans are not in the best position to do - solo - the big job with SDF and Ankara.

The objective is clearly defined: "to get Staffan de Mistura to accept in Geneva a tripartite structure incorporating the opposition, Assad and the SDF".

Moreover, the Deputy Secretary of State indicates that a "Non-Paper - Reviving the Syrian Political Track in Geneva - will be communicated to Staffan de Mistura before the meeting of January 23 in Paris," in order to put the Russians at the foot of the Wall ". This document includes: "a political road map, the elements of a constitutional reform, the UN election supervision structure and guidelines for the establishment of a peaceful environment".

For their part, the Jordanians called the session "Small Group" of "meeting publique most secret of all time." And the author of the TD concludes: "For the moment, we must keep a group consisting only of the United States, Great Britain, France, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. The next to be invited should be Egypt and Germany (for whom we have pleaded). Turkey should also join the group, but the discussion with it may be poisoned by the Kurds, which will make it more difficult to neutralize Astana. It is therefore not urgent to integrate these last three countries."

The concluding comments of this TD speak volumes about the future of Western strategy in Syria. The three key conclusions underscore "a real reaffirmation of US leadership behind the scenes ...". The second perspective is to "keep the pressure on Russia, even if Russia can not convince Moscow to let go of the regime as we had hoped." In this regard, "we must continue - what we are already doing - to denounce the horrible humanitarian situation as well as the Russian complicity in the campaign of bombing civilian targets." Finally, concludes the author of TD, "the Americans told me how much they appreciated our contribution and our support in recent months as they were finalizing their strategy."

This does not augur a forthcoming crisis in Syria in a context marked by four major developments of the most worrying. 1) The United States has decided to strengthen and diversify their nuclear posture. The Pentagon has announced that it will develop miniaturized tactical nuclear weapons "to adapt to new international threats". Iranian President Hassan Rohani responded: "How can anyone speak of world peace and at the same time announce that he is developing new nuclear weapons for his main enemies?"

2) NATO Defense Ministers agreed on 14 and 15 February in Brussels on the outline of a new overhaul of the Atlantic Alliance command structures. This "adaptation - the largest since the end of the Cold War", according to Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, is proposed by the US military. It aims to make the Alliance more effective in a high-intensity crisis. Clearly, it is "better to deter and respond to new threats from certain states, first and foremost Russia."

3) In the aftermath of the destruction of an Israeli fighter in Syrian airspace, and while Israeli police demand the indictment of Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu for corruption, Tel-Aviv accuses Iran of establishing itself in Syria and threatens to multiply its military operations. This is not the first time that the Israeli prime minister - who refuses to resign - is using the resurgence of regional tension to consolidate his personal power and his alliance with the extreme right of the country.

4) Finally, Washington's military support for the Kurds in Syria continues to provoke the Ankara era. The crisis of confidence is consumed and the Turkish-American axis is on the brink of rupture. Second NATO contingent, the Turkish army had to accompany the conservative and anti-Western turn after the failed coup of July 2016. Mission has been given to a general with conservative and Islamist tendencies to restructure the derailed Turkish army by the purges. [Description: [IMG]]

Ultimately, the British TD perfectly reflects the Western strategy in Syria: to sabotage the Sochi peace efforts, to add two new wars to the Syrian crisis: that of the Turks against the Kurds and those of the Israelis against Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah. "The Americans have never admitted their military defeat in Syria and do not want to let go and especially their main strategic objective," said a senior French diplomat, "that of a dismantling of Syria, the type of one who has been driven to Iraq and Libya. Their desire is to arm the Kurds to control the oil areas of eastern Syria in order to influence the political and economic reconstruction of the country. Peace is not for tomorrow.

24 Feb 2018