Syria: gas attacks, air-strikes and hypocrisy —again

Just over a year after Trump’s air-strikes on an Assad regime airbase in response to the Khan Sheikhoun chemical attack, we’ve witnessed a repeat of this episode—although this time the air-strikes were on wider targets, and carried out in conjunction with British and French forces. In response to last week’s chemical attack on Douma in Syria’s besieged Eastern Ghouta enclave, missiles and warplanes from the USS Donald Cook in the eastern Mediterranean carried out the first Western strikes on targets around the Damascus area. The following targets are reported to have been hit: the Damascus Scientific Research Center, said to be linked to production of chemical and biological weapons; another purported chemical weapons lab in Barzeh; a chemical weapons storage facility west of Homs; and headquarters of various elite military units. Iranian forces were apparently also targeted, with a base used by the Republican Guard struck. However, this military action looks like it will be no more sustained than that of last April. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis called it a “single shot,” and is believed to have put the brakes on the scope “to keep this from escalating.” He told reporters after the initial sorties: “Right now we have no additional attacks planned.” There are no reports of any deaths in the air-strikes, and the few known casualties are all military personnel. (American Military News, Middle East EyeReuters, NYT, CNBC, BBC News)

Brace yourself now for yet another effluence of “anti-war” hypocrisy. In the weeks and months before last year’s air-strikes in response to the Khan Sheikhoun attack, the US had been intensively bombing the ISIS strongholds of Raqqa and Mosul. The civilian toll of this air war jumped dramatically under Trump; Raqqa was nearly reduced to rubble, with use of prohibited weapons such as white phosphorus reported. All this went on to utter silence from the “anti-war” hypocrites. I can state with certainty that not a single street protest was held over this in New York City, where I live. But after Trump bombed the airbase—claiming no civilian lives, but destroying a few regime warplanes—suddenly multiple protests were held. It’s obvious what maters to the “anti-war” hypocrites. Not Syrian lives. Assad regime warplanes that are used to bomb civilians. (Of course they were equally silent during the Assad-Putin destruction of Aleppo—when not actually cheering on the carnage.)

We are now about to witness a replay of this shameful episode. When Assad used poisonous gas at Douma last week, the most principled response of the “anti-war” hypocrites was (again) utter silence. Probably more common was all the ugly kneejerk malarky about how the attack was a “false flag,” or how the victims deserved it for being CIA-jihadists (even the children, apparently). Those who kept silent on the Douma attack—or activelty abetted it by echoing regime propaganda—have zero credibility to now protest Trump’s air-strikes.

And don’t forget: the same UN investigation that determined Assad was responsible for the Khan Sheikhoun attack also documented 33 chemical attacks in Syria since the start of the war. There have been several since then. Assad has had a blank check to carry out serial acts of genocide. To either silence or active support from “anti-war” hypocrites in the West.

Now, if you want to make a valid case against the air-strikes, go ahead. It is certainly a tragic reality that the fascistic Trump  has won the good will of many Syrians by humbling the dictator who has been destroying their country and slaughtering its inhabitants for the past five years. The air-strikes on regime targets invite a Russian response, and certainly heighten the risks of escalation—potentially to the unthinkable. But unless you also vigorously oppose Assad’s use of WMD and general war of extermination, opposing Trump’s air-strikes for fear of escalation comes down to the depraved, cowardly and ultimately racist notion that the Syrians should submit to genocide as the price of world peace.

For a single-standard anti-war protest, join the Weekly Peace Vigil for Syria, every Friday at 6 PM in New York’s Union Square, until the horror ends. See you there.

Image: Syria Solidarity NYC

  1. Red-Brown convergence around Bashar Assad

    Alexander Reid Ross has a piece in Haaretz, "How Assad's War Crimes Bring Far Left and Right Together—Under Putin's Benevolent Gaze," noting how the pro-Assad/Putin convergence is bringing together figures we have repeatedly called out, inlcuding Glenn Greenwald, Max Blumenthal, Jeremy CorbynTucker Carlson and Nick Griffin. They are often cross-promoting each other, forming a cozy mutual admiration society. But we don't call this the "far left." We call it the Idiot Left, and Red-Brown Politics.

  2. Blumenthal bashes Goodman

    Well, this is perversely ironic. We've repeatedly had to call out the deplorable Amy Goodman for her shameless shilling for Bashar Assad. But every once in a rare while she attempts to atone for this relentless tsunami of bullshit by deigning to allow a pro-democracy Syrian voice on Democracy Now! She has just done so, running an interview with Ramah Kudaimi of the Syrian Solidarity Collective. For this, of course, she is dissed by Max Blumenthal for "hosting of one of the most relentlessly toxic regime change activists to trash anti-war organizers and clamor for more US strikes on Syria…"

    1. Ex-Gitmo detainee calls for Syria no-fly zone

      Former Gitmo detainee Moazzam Begg appears on Democracy Now to call for a no-fly zone for the last remaining rebel-held province of Syria. Very surprised Amy Goodman aired this. Maybe she is getting better. Maybe the horror of the Douma attack rekindled some humanity in her soul.

      But don't read the comments. A tsunami of mean-spirited bullshit. Once again: That's what you get after cultivating such an ugly and wilfully ignorant audience with years of serial Assad-shilling.

    1. Jimmy Dore ‘debunks’ Douma gas attack

      He says, it is "very easy to debunk" the Douma gas attack. He starts by dredging up the decontextualized Carla del Ponte quote from 2013 in which she speculated that one out of the 35 chemical attacks in Syria may have been carried out by the rebels—a propaganda subterfuge we called out long ago. Watch this vile crap on YouTube, if you have the stomach for it.

      1. The Progressive maintains a glimmer of conscience, at least

        The Progressive runs an egregious piece of kneejerk denialist malarky by one Reese Erlich, dutilfully regurgitating the bogus claims of regime shill Robert Fisk. Later, they add an addendum: "After this article was published, we became aware of criticism of Robert Fisk’s reporting that should have been acknowledged. We subsequently published a follow-up piece, which appears here."

        OK, that's something.

  3. Neo-Nazi joins ANSWER ‘anti-war’ (sic) march

    Linux Beach blog notes that the notorious Southern California neo-Nazi Baked Alaska joined the ANSWER anti-war march in Los Angeles over the weekend, and live-blogged it.

    As we've noted, this is hardly the first instance of ANSWER covergence with white supremacists.

  4. Assad-Putin online propaganda: house of mirrors

    Dig how far down the rabbit hole we are… Snopes notes the viral propaganda video claiming the White Helmets or rebels "staged" the Douma chemical attack, coaching the kids to act at suffocating. It turns out the footage originates in a (fictional) film commissioned by the Assad regime about a journalist staging a chemical attack. The footage was then posted to Facebook by Assad's useful idiots as evidence that the Douma chemical attack was staged…. So this was actually a staging being staged… And fools believed it. Apparently.

    1. BBC takes on Assad-Putin online propaganda machine

      The BBC News runs a feature, "Syria war: The online activists pushing conspiracy theories." They inevitably take on the vile Vanessa Beeley: "The network of activists includes people like Vanessa Beeley. She has more than 30,000 Twitter followers and writes for a news outlet that the website Media Bias/Fact Check calls a "conspiracy and conjecture site" that has "an extreme right bias." Yet she is constantly being cited, posted and re-tweeted by people who consider themselves to be on the "left."

    2. Assad-Putin online propaganda: house of mirrors (redux)

      A piece in The Intercept provides further details of the subterfuge that Russian state media resorted to in attempting to make a case that the Douma chemical attack was "staged"—with video footage manipulated and taken out of context. But half my Facebook "friends" fall for this obvious propaganda, stateside "leftists" happily sell out to the Kremlin state media that peddles these lies, and the now morally bankrupt Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (sic!!!) bashes any criticism of it as "McCarthysim" (blind to the irony).  I never would have dreamed things could get this bad. 

    3. Assad-Putin online propaganda: house of mirrors (redux)

      So, how many of you shared the video "Syrian White Helmets: the Mask of Terror"? Amnesty International provides an analysis of this "sinister video." Not only is it propaganda to legitimize right abuses, but rights abuses were evidently involved in its actual production—the coercion of a "confession" from an abducted White Helmet. Note that the video is being distributed by the "Hands Off Syria" group, which is closely allied with ANSWER and has actually held protests against the White Helmets.

    4. Assad-Putin online propaganda: house of mirrors (redux)

      The Intercept now reports that 11-year-old Hassan Diab was among 17 Syrians flown by Russia to The Hague to testify that the Douma chemical attack never happened. As the above-cited Intercept story detailed, Diab had initially appeared in a video from the aftermath of the attack, sjown being treated for chemical exposure. He has since fallen into Russian hands, and is saying he'd been bribed the candy to appear in the video. But the interview with RT in which he said this apparently took place not in Douma, as was presented, but at a regime military base in Damascus.

      Considered in light of the reported intimidation of medical workers in Douma by regime thugs, it is pretty clear what is going on here. Making it even clearer is the haunted, traumatized look in Diab's eyes in the RT interview.

  5. Russia told US where not to bomb

    From Sky News:

    Russia has revealed it warned the US about "red lines" it should not cross before it launched airstrikes on Syria.

    Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov is reported to have said that officials in Washington were contacted before last weekend's strikes by the US, UK and France.

    Mr Lavrov said: "There were military leadership contacts, between generals, between our representatives and the coalition leadership.

    "They were informed about where our red lines are, including red lines on the ground, geographically. And the results show that they did not cross these red lines."

    Some 105 missiles were launched in response to a suspected chemical attack in the Syrian city of Douma on 7 April that killed more than 40 people.

    The Kremlin had threatened retaliatory action if strikes were launched – but it now appears there was at least some level of cooperation.

    That's why they call it a Great Game.

  6. ‘Anti-war’ fools still on the wrong side in Syria

    Note that the Orwellianly named "World Beyond War" (sic!), vehicle of the problematic David Swanson, is hosting a confab in Toronto with the openly pro-Assad, pro-fascist, pro-war "Syria Solidarity Movement" (sic!) Sick as it gets. Disgracefully, Code Pink and Women's International League for Peace & Freedom have apparently seen fit to sign on to this exercise in genocide apologism.

  7. New chemical attack in Syria: ‘false flags’ and propaganda

    This is almost funny, in a pitch-black kind of way. A US intelligence assessment claims "credible information that pro-regime forces" were behind an apparent chlorine attack Nov. 24 that caused some 100 people to be hospitalized in regime-held northern Aleppo governorate. The assessment says pro-regime elements are "blaming the attack on opposition and extremist groups to undermine confidence in the ceasefire in Idlib." (SOHR)

    In other words, a "false flag" attack. Yet the very people who incessantly trade in "false flag" theories about the rebels gassing their own territory as a provocation will be the first to disbelieve this one…

  8. Jimmy Dore paid by Assad lobby
    BellingCat on Sept. 30 ran an exposé on the Association for Investment in Popular Action Committees (note the acronym; cute huh?) which runs a Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism (seemingly named for a reporter for Iran’s Press TV who was killed while covering Syria). It has lavished many thousands of dollars on “journalists” who toe the pro-Assad line.

    Among those winners is Jimmy Dore, a comedian turned political commentator who was employed by The Young Turks, a progressive video outlet, until April 2019. According to an IRS filing, however, Dore actually began receiving money from the association behind the Serena Shim Award in 2017, receiving $2,500 for what the latter described as “human rights media.”

    That same year, Dore would argue that a chemical weapons attack on the opposition-held town of Khan Sheikhun was likely a “false flag,” the bodies of dead children having been planted, perhaps, by extremists (the United Nations has confirmed that the Syrian government, the only party to the conflict known to possess the Sarin and an air force, was responsible).

    Reporter Actually In S-Y-R-I-A Exposes Media Lies About Everything” was the name of another 2017 conspiracy-theory segment, that one featuring Eva Bartlett, a founding member of the Syria Solidarity Movement and the first winner of the Serena Shim prize.

    And these are the first ones to portray the “corporate media” as compromised. Pathetic.

    This “AIPAC” also gave money to Mint Press, not surprisingly.

  9. Jimmy Dore gives Trump advice

    Here he is on the Tucker Carlson show a couple days ago telling Trump that whatever Pelosi offers for a stimulus package, Trump should double it! Trump is turning the US into a fascist state and Dore is giving him advice to get re-elected. This is the guy who calls himself the “Aggressive Progressive”?