Below you will find a long political essay by a friend of mine. Due to the nature of her job, she wants to be known online as “Fran800”. Her views are provocative and challenge the positions of our official politicians and the mainstream media:
Many have recommended that Canada should keep our jets in Syria, and continue with the U.S.-led mission against the Islamic State. But there are serious reasons to believe that withdrawing from the U.S.-led mission would be the better course, although not any reasons articulated by newly-elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The war in Syria started in 2011 to depose the government of Bashar al-Assad, which was described as “brutal”, but hardly ever what it really was, namely secular and one of the most liberal in the Middle East, particularly noted for its protection of minorities, especially Christians, as well as Assad’s own minority, the peaceable and Westernized Alawites.
Syria is the latest in the U.S.-led regime change projects, which started with the American invasion of Iraq to depose Saddam Hussein, and has continued with more devious support of destabilization and insurrection by means of the “Arab Spring” movement, all to promote democracy in the Middle East.
The Arab Spring began in Tunisia, one of the most stable, tourist-friendly nations of the Muslim world, when a vegetable seller immolated himself in December, 2010. Mass protests followed against the 30-year rule of secular President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, leading to his ouster and flight to Saudi Arabia less than a month later. Instead of the dawn of democracy, however, Tunisia sank into five years of instability, power vacuum, violence, unemployment, economic decline and increasing Islamization. In October, 2011, 4,000 Tunisian refugees landed in the Italian island of Lampedusa, beginning the agony of that unfortunate island, still continuing to this day. The year 2015 began with an Islamist attack at a museum and a beach slaughter of British tourists by Islamist fanatics. It ended with the Tunisian “Quartet” receiving the Nobel Peace prize for returning stable government. The Quartet consists of four civil rights organizations of trade unions, civil rights activists and lawyers. Although their award smacks of the kind of encouragement that gave Barack Obama his premature Nobel Peace prize in 2009, still it might help bring an end to instability.
The Arab Spring spread in 2011 to Libya when rebels calling themselves the National Transitional Council attacked long-term whacko President Ghaddafi. In spite of the fact that Ghaddafi had abandoned his nuclear ambitions and released his hostages, the Bulgarian nurses, NATO intervened on the side of the rebels with thrilling air strikes. Thanks to their help, Ghaddafi was captured by the rebels, sodomized and murdered in October, 2011, after which Libya descended in the usual abyss. In September, 2012, American Ambassador Christopher Stevens was murdered in Benghazi by Libyan militiamen in suspicious circumstances that seemed to be part of a weapons trafficking operation to supply the rebels in Syria. Torn by factional violence, Libya has become a den of people smugglers and the launching pad for illegal migrants mainly from sub-Saharan Africa to the tormented island of Lampedusa. In 2015, ISIS made its appearance in Libya. Who can forget the gruesome sight of their black-clothed operatives marching doomed Egyptian Copts onto a Libyan beach, ritually slitting their throats, and letting the blood flow into the Mediterranean as a warning to Europe?
The Arab Spring came to Egypt, the most populous Arab country, in January, 2011. Although the 30-year rule of Mubarak had been relatively peaceful, massive protests broke out in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. The whole world went wild with Tahrir fever. Mubarak’s main opposition, the Muslim Brotherhood, was proclaimed by U.S. Intelligence director James Clapper in February to be “largely secular,” so why worry? Enthusiasts in Canada asked why we couldn’t have our own Tahrir Square – it seemed such fun. Remember Michael Ignatieff in April calling for Canadians to “rise up, rise up” against Stephen Harper? By the end of the year, Occupy movements had sprung up from New York and Toronto to hundreds of cities across the world, inspired by the Arab Spring. It’s sort of like Trotskyism. You know, Permanent Revolution for the spread of purple-finger Democracy instead of the Proletariat of the People.
In Egypt, Mubarak resigned and was prosecuted for corruption for years, an aged, ill figure in a cage in a Cairo courtroom. Elections held in June, 2012 were won by Mohammed Morsi, leader of the Freedom and Justice Party, a front for the Muslim Brotherhood. The fact that the first democratically elected president in Egypt’s history was an Islamist was unsettling to many, especially the Israelis, the Americans, and the Coptic Christians (nearly 10% of the population). Morsi promised to rule for all Egyptians, but many Muslims were inspired by the Islamist government to attack Christians on a free-lance basis. Morsi established Sharia law in Egypt, proclaimed solidarity with Hamas, called Jews “sons of pigs and monkeys” (later he said this was taken out of context), and supported the Sunni “opposition” in Syria (i.e. the rebels), calling Assad and his supporters “Infidels”. Egyptian clerics declared jihad against the government of Assad. Morsi criticized the U.S., casting doubt on the causes of the Twin Tower collapse on 9/11, and he had nasty words for Israel. Everyone was on edge.
New protests came to Tahrir Square and there was an army coup led by General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Morsi was deposed in July, 2013. In 2014, after outlawing the Muslim Brotherhood, Sisi was elected president with 96% of the vote. Muslim Brotherhood supporters expressed their anger with violent attacks across the country and things again got worse for the Copts. Civic order was strained after years of instability. Sisi cracked down and his courtrooms filled up with Muslim Brotherhood activists in cages and hundreds were condemned to death, including Morsi for murder of protesters and for breaking out of jail during the first Arab Spring in 2011. He and Mubarak both remain in jail. But many around the world breathed easier. Sisi expressed his horror that the world should live in fear of “the religion that we love.” (I took that to mean that he was horrified too). In spite of his increased authoritarianism, he has been more tolerant and fair to minorities, and more respectful on the world stage – a bit of an embarrassment for the democracy advocates.
The American regime change policy has been applied also in non-Muslim countries, notably former Yugoslavia in the 1990’s, where the U.S. bombing campaigns planted two new Islamist countries, Bosnia and Kosovo, in the heart of Europe where none had been before. Turkey funnelled Muslims into the Balkans, altering the demographic composition of the region. The Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) had been labelled a terrorist organization until 1998, when the Americans suddenly allied with them against the Serbian government. Muslim Albanians led by the KLA were suddenly portrayed in the media as helpless victims of Serbs, who were demonized as virtual Nazis. KLA rebel fighters were trained by the Americans and the Brits in a secret camp in the mountains.
James Woolsey, former head of the CIA at the time and current chair of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, boasted recently in Toronto of bombing the Serbs for 88 days, pounding them with up to a hundred sorties a day in order to establish the independent state of Kosovo. But retired General Lewis MacKenzie, head of the NATO mission there, can be found on You Tube saying sadly, “We bombed the wrong side.” James Bissett, former Canadian ambassador to Yugoslavia, has been a voice on behalf of the despised Serbs ever since. In northern Kosovo, hundreds of 12th century Serbian churches have been vandalized and destroyed by Muslim Albanians, and the Serbian inhabitants often killed or driven away.
The coup d’état in Kiev, Ukraine of February, 2014 is another example of an American-backed insurrection. The president of Ukraine, Victor Yanukovych of the pro-Russian Party of the Regions, was elected in 2010 in an election that Canada had monitored and pronounced fair. In the years that followed, the U.S. spent $500 billion on a P.R. campaign to lure Ukrainians away from their pro-Russian orientation, often working through NGO’s such as George Soros’ Open Society Institute. They pressured Yanukovich to reject an upcoming treaty with Putin’s Russia in favour of closer relations with the EU, dangling the glittering promise of future EU membership. Yanukovich prevaricated, then chose the pro-Russian option. All hell broke loose! In the course of the 2013/4 insurrection (oops, I mean peaceful protest that lasted four months), the American Under-Secretary of State for Europe, Victoria Nuland, was recorded speaking from the Maidan Square to the American Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt on her cell phone, arranging the post-coup government of Ukraine. “Yats the guy”, she said, referring to now Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk, who indeed came to power. There are fifteen million ethnic Russians in Ukraine, about a third of the population, concentrated in Crimea, and the south and the east (Donbas). They had voted for Yanukovych and supported his policies and have been effectively disenfranchised by the putsch in Kiev.
Crimea has been Russian for as long as the United States has existed as a country. When Britain and France fought the Crimean War in the 1850’s (foolishly on the side of the Turks in my opinion), it was Russians not Ukrainians that we fought against. Crimea was transferred to Ukraine in 1954 by Nikita Khrushchev, a native of Ukraine, with no grassroots input whatsoever – the Soviet Union was a top-down dictatorship at the time. At the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Crimea was weirdly included in Ukraine with no referendum, mainly due to the weakness and poverty of Russia. Weak, feckless President Boris Yeltsin, in reality an American puppet, allowed Russia to be robbed blind by oligarchs, abetted by a cabal of American bankers and economists, including Soros and Lawrence Summers (more recently an advisor of Justin Trudeau) until it went bankrupt horribly in 1998. Since Vladimir Putin took over, there has been steady economic improvement and a resurgence of the Orthodox religion.
Russia maintained her Black Sea naval base in Crimea, paying rent to Ukraine for what had formerly been hers. With the February, 2014 pro-EU, anti-Russian coup in Kiev, it was clear that the plan was for Ukraine to eventually join the EU and, presto, Crimea would become a NATO base instead. However, Russian military, already stationed there, took over the peninsula peacefully, helped by the defection of many of the Ukrainian military, who were also there. A hasty referendum was arranged and the overwhelmingly ethnic Russian population joyously voted to return to Russia, to howls of protest from Kiev and the West. The predominantly ethnic Russian Donbas in the East also rebelled against Kiev, and the situation there has remained in a state of low-key warfare ever since.
The denouement of these events in Ukraine is well-known. Putin became the world’s pariah with Western politicians calling him a thug and a bully. They instituted crippling sanctions against Russia, and demanded that Putin give back “Ukraine’s Crimea” and get his army out of Donbas. Putin has denied that the Russian army ever invaded Donbas and there is no solid evidence that it did. Rather, the shambolic Ukrainian army has been shelling its own citizens there for almost two years with over 9,000 people killed. The world has been led to believe that, if not for their heroic resistance, Russia would have invaded the Baltic states, Poland, Czech Republic, whatever. (The recent performance of the Russian military in Syria has surely made this claim improbable, for, if the Russians really had invaded Ukraine, they would surely have conquered it in no time.)
A pattern emerges. The Arab countries subjected to “regime change” had all been secular non-Islamist countries, allies of the former Soviet Union (as had former Yugoslavia). Syria is the latest of these. Their leaders have been described as “brutal thugs”– rather like Putin himself. Regime change for them all!
Strangely, no regime change for the truly brutal medievalist Gulf state of Saudi Arabia, where accused adulterous women are stoned and public beheadings take place every Friday after prayers. Nor yet for Turkey, which remains a NATO ally and candidate for EU membership in spite of the little dust-up in Cyprus in 1974 when the Turkish army invaded the north of the island, expelled the 80% Greek population, and re-populated it with Turks from the mainland. One could understand the differential treatment of these two classes of “brutal thugs” during the Cold War when we had to stick up for “our brutal thugs”. But the new policy of widespread regime change started in relative peace time under the Clinton presidency; the goal was to spread democracy around the world because everyone really wants to share our freedoms. But why pick on all the relatively secular states?
Some may remember Syria as the most liberal of all Muslim counties. But according to Western reports, President Assad has murdered hundreds of thousands of his own people. He’s the “butcher of Damascus”. He drops “barrel bombs” apparently for no particular reason on populated areas with massive collateral damage. He unleashes chemical attacks on his own people. So the U.S. and other democratic countries have funded the “moderate” opposition to form the Free Syrian Army (FSA) to fight for democracy. The FSA has even been trained in the old KLA training camp in the mountains of Kosovo. When the really horrific Islamic State (or ISIS) appeared in Syria and Iraq, they were so much worse than anything else that the allied coalition had to take on the additional task of fighting them. But U.S. spokespersons still insisted, “We must defeat Assad,” or “Assad must go” as their primary goal.
Saddam Hussein, Ben Ali, Ghaddafi and Mubarak all went pretty quickly – followed by chaos. Yanukovich, democratically elected though he was, was dispatched even faster. Somehow Assad has hung on for over four years. The rhetoric against him grew increasingly hysterical – he had to be even more brutal and thuggish than ISIS. There are reports that he dropped his barrel bombs on minorities and on “innocent children”, as if in the middle of fighting a war against the U.S. and their proxy warriors – about as desperate a situation as anyone could be in – he would continue with his demonic attacks on his own defenseless people, including the most vulnerable amongst them. What a monster! Worse than ISIS! Just as soon as we “contain” ISIS (not really defeat it because it’s too powerful), then we can finish off the real enemy, Assad.
What are barrel bombs? Well, they are primitive home-made bombs that are unguided. They just fall straight down. And they have to be dropped by helicopters or low-flying airplanes, which is more dangerous for the pilots. Why would Assad use these primitive weapons? Why doesn’t he use rocket-propelled bombs guided from a distance by supersonic jets the way the Americans and their allies do? Well, probably because that’s all he’s got. Assad knows the fate of Saddam and Ghaddafi; the Syrian Arab Army (defenders of the Alawite-led regime), know what’s in store for them if the radical Salafist ISIS wins. And if Assad goes, it will be the most fanatic of the Islamist groups who will inevitably take over, not the hopeless U.S.-supported Free Syrian Army (FSA), which keeps melting into the al-Nusra Front or even ISIS itself.
Who are our local allies in this fight? Within Syria, that would be the Kurds and the FSA. Maybe also some “moderate elements” of al-Qaeda, as suggested recently by retired General and former Intelligence Director David Petraeus (actually, al-Nusra is renamed al-Qaeda). Neighbouring states on our side would be Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar.
Saudi Arabia is probably the world’s leading human rights abuser, head chopper to the world, where women are kept in seclusion and not allowed to drive, and foreign workers cannot receive Christmas cards. The Saudis have been bombing the Shiite rebel Houthis in Yemen, recently knocking out a whole wedding party without anybody really noticing. The shocker is that Saudi Arabia, our ally, has been funding and supplying weapons to ISIS.
And Turkey? Well, they have been bombing our other allies, the Syrian Kurds. The Americans have arranged joint use of the Turkish Incirlik Air Base. American planes fly out of it to bomb ISIS to provide air cover for the Syrian Kurds, while Turkish planes fly out of it to bomb the Syrian Kurds. The Turks have also bombed Kurdish separatist villages within Turkey – bombing their own people, as it were. And Turkey continues to act as the main conduit for Western wannabe jihadis crossing its eastern border into Syria.
Turkey has also been flushing migrants into Europe across its western border for years. Until recently, most of the migrants, while yearning for the rich countries of Western Europe, ended up stuck in Greece because Greece does not have a land border with another EU country. The migrants were mainly from Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia – hardly any from Syria. “Greek society has reached its limits in taking in illegal immigrants,” stated a government official in 2011 as up to 100 a day poured in across the land border from Turkey. The Greeks finished building a land border fence in December, 2012, and the migrants switched to arriving by boat to the Greek islands. The government of Turkey, although one of the most heavily policed and militarized countries on earth, turns a blind eye to people smuggling and even facilitates it. Where do all these boats come from? In Greece, civic deterioration caused by the migrant infestation was one of the main reasons for the growth of the Golden Dawn party, which drove the European elites to heights of hysteria. Although Greece was bankrupt and suffered youth unemployment rates that rose eventually to over 70%, asylum-seekers complained that Greeks “want to keep the jobs for themselves.” By 2013, Greece was paying them to go home.
In summer of 2015, the flood of refugees increased dramatically. Thousands poured across to the Greek islands in inflatable boats, and in September the body of little Aylan Kurdi was found drowned on a Turkish beach. With that, the dam broke. Now, with the help of Frontex (the EU agency that is supposed to control the outer borders of the EU but actually just ushers illegal immigrants in), the migrants/refugees are recorded, shunted by ferry to Athens, then to the border of Macedonia and beyond, while one European country after another throws up fences and tries to keep them out. It’s estimated that 70% are non-Syrians, and mostly males of military age, and their preferred destination is Germany.
In mid-September, Russia started massive military build-up of its base in Latakia, Syria. Russia and Syria have a mutual defense treaty, and Russia, unlike the NATO forces, is there by invitation of the Syrian government, which, while much weakened and vulnerable, has survived the civil war for almost five years. On September 28, Putin spoke at the United Nations, an epochal speech in which he analyzed the entire regime change policy of the American establishment, and he urged united action against ALL terrorists, not just ISIS. His speech climaxed as follows:
“Aggressive intervention has led to the fact that instead of reform, public institutions, and way of life were just unceremoniously destroyed. Instead of triumph of democracy and progress – the violence, poverty, social disaster, and human rights, including the right to life, get lost in the shuffle. I’d like to ask those who created this situation – do you understand now, what you have done?” (emphasis added)
From October, Russia commenced air strikes – but instead of targeting ISIS initially, they struck the “moderate Syrian rebels” and al-Nusra, our anti-Assad allies! Consternation, fear and loathing erupted from John Kerry and others in the West! Next the Russians bombed convoys of oil trucks carrying oil from Iraq stolen by ISIS and on their way to Turkey. Turkey, in fact the family of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan himself, had been running oil out of Syria with the help of local Turkomen and selling it abroad for big bucks. Screams of outrage came from the Islamist president of Turkey. Then a Turkish plane shot down a Russian plane that might have violated Turkey’s air space for 17 seconds. As Erdogan blustered, the Greeks pointed out that Turkey had violated its air space thousands of times in the previous year. Then while the world was paying attention, a Turkish plane violated Greek air space again and Greek jets scrambled to escort it out. That must have been a sweet moment for them.
Since 2014, Nigel Farage of the UK Independence Party has been urging the West to join with Putin and Assad to fight ISIS – about Ukraine, he says “If you poke the Russian Bear with a stick he will respond”. In the U.S., Donald Trump says he supports Putin as a leader, and he’d even be open to supporting Assad. The world has the vapours. But times just might be a-changing.
Last January, a year ago, when things were very dark for Syria before Russia stepped in, Foreign Affairs Magazine interviewed Assad and asked what message he would have liked to deliver to President Obama. This was his answer:
“I think the normal thing that you ask any official in the world is to work for the interests of his people. And the question I would ask any American is, what do you get from supporting terrorists in our country, in our region? What did you get from supporting the Muslim Brotherhood a few years ago in Egypt and other countries? What did you get from supporting someone like Erdogan?”
All very good questions. Is it a good idea for Canada to continue supporting the U.S.-led coalition? The Americans seem determined to isolate and in fact destroy Russia, at least until it takes place in the regime-change program against the “thug” Putin. NATO forces are moving into positions in various countries on the border of Russia, while at the same time crying havoc if Russia masses a few troops along its own border. It looks like a re-igniting of the Cold War in a hot phase, or the beginning of World War III. At the same time, we are “allies” with Turkey led by a genuine thug, Erdogan, who really is shelling his own people (Kurds), supplying ISIS, and funding it through an illegal oil pipeline from which they also profit. This is our NATO ally?! And our other ally, the comic opera Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which is openly funding ISIS as well as conducting a largely ignored war against Shias in Yemen, causing mass starvation of children amongst other atrocities. In the Middle Eastern theatre, it might be more accurate to say we have been part of a Sunni Islamist -led coalition against the moderate, secularized (but loosely Shia) government of Syria backed by Iran and Russia.
Until about a year ago, the war in Syria was all about defeating the monster Assad. But even the U.S. could not ignore the rise of ISIS, even though they were indirectly supplying it through our “allies”. The entry of Russia into the war and Putin’s determination to attack all terrorists has led to some embarrassment and re-alignment. Perhaps Canada should decide if it is terrorism we want to fight, or do we want to be patsies in the U.S. wars of “democratization” (really anarchy) directed against Putin and Assad.
© 2016 Fran800