In a world of lies, the ability to discover the truth is outstripped by the capacity to manifest deceit. All wars are an abomination and within these abominations, without fail, there are litanies of lies to further pollute the air, to turn people against people. It is a beastliness that for generations to come will not end, if ever.
In 2013, after a chemical attack in Ghouta, Bashar Al Assad gave an interview to CBS, “There has been no evidence that I used chemical weapons against my own people.” He spoke to the world with an evident confidence. The credible German press, Bild Am Sonntag cited a German surveillance source in reporting that Assad had nothing to do with the gas attack. The Russians and Americans knew that Assad’s mob was innocent, although the CIA tried to cast aspersion by speculating that ‘rogue’ elements within Assad’s ‘regime’ could have been responsible.
Let us state now what will be stated by many in say a decade; the chemical attacks – 2013 and 2017 – were not Assad’s work. Many of today’s detractors will be tomorrow’s ‘revisionists’, in particular those who will be distanced from their political offices of today.
Since the April 4 chemical attack in Idlib, we have been deluged with the insulting by a barrage of ‘commentators’ ‘explaining’ why Assad would take this “crazy step” after all the diplomacy building in the last year. ‘Commentators’ are stating that Assad was ‘testing’ the political landscape to see how much he could get away with. This outrageous argument is in fact testing us. It’s as if the propagandists and their stooges feel they have secured a ‘comfort zone’ and don’t even have to try.
The media and commentators are carrying on as if American missiles have hit Syria for the first time, as if the tragic score of casualties to US missiles and bombs are a recent first. There have been tens of thousands of casualties to ‘coalition’ strikes – most of these casualties are to American bombs. There’d be no Syrian war without the unnatural hand of external ‘powers’. WikiLeaks released cables warning of the hand of foreign powers – mostly of US influence to corrupt into reality Syrian instability and war. Nothing changes – let us not forget the abominations in the Middle East that have led to the catastrophes of today – of the 1953 Iranian coup d’etat (28 Mordad coup – کودتای ۲۸ مرداد – in Farsi) where the democratically elected Prime Minister, Mohammad Mosaddegh was overthrown by a joint plot by the UK secret service (Operation ‘Boot’) and the CIA (Operation Ajax). It was all about oil, the stealing from Iran of their sovereign right to their oil.
Democracy in the Middle East was smashed by the UK and the USA. In a nutshell, the nationalisation of petroleum resources by Iran for the benefit of their people’s development was smashed horrifically by the UK and the USA so a UK mob could own the petroleum – British Petroleum (BP). The coup strengthened the powers of the puppet monarch, ‘Shah’ Reza Pahlavi. In 1979, the Ayatollah Khomeini and his lot overthrew the puppets and setback Iran. Many Iranians wonder where the nation and the Middle East would be today had Iran been left to its own in 1953. The Middle East of today has always been made by the ‘west’ of yesterday – and of ‘today’. Millions have died and suffered because of the ‘west’. Nothing will change for the better till there is an end to the abominable acts such as plotted by the CIA and the UK in 1953. No-one is holding their breath.
The April 4 missile barrage on Al-Shayrat was nothing new. It was more of the same. The London based independent agency Airwars monitors civilian casualties from international airstrikes in Iraq, Syria and Libya. Airwars has logged 7,912 ‘coalition’ strikes in Syria in three years. In nearly 1,000 days of strikes in Syria and Iraq, nearly 73,000 bombs and missiles have been dropped with at least 3,000 civilians killed.
I do not believe that Bashar Al Assad had anything to do with the chemical attacks (including Ghouta, in eastern Damascus – 2013). The tragedy of Syria, the warring, the terror continues, abominably. I don’t believe there is any immediate solution with ways forward long ago obliterated. The west’s imperialists have to be held to account – that would be a way forward but there is no international instrument that would do so.
In the 1960s and 1970s most of the Middle East and Central Asia were ‘as safe as’ – favourite drive-through routes for tourists and adventurers from the ‘west’. They used to drive cheaply bought second-hand Kombis and VWs through India to Nepal to Kabul to Tehran, some to Baghdad and to Damascus, and onward through Turkey. From Istanbul they’d sojourn in Europe. This relative safe stretch in time would be put to an end by the unnatural hand – external influences that did their ‘dirty’ work throughout Central Asia and the Middle East. Yes, the ‘USSR’ too – with its 1980s insurgence into Afghanistan.
Anyway, not for a moment do I believe that Assad’s Alawites are responsible for the chemical attacks. They had nothing to gain and everything and everyone to lose. The propaganda is in overdrive over these missile strikes by the USA, as if to suggest that America has sat idly by, patient in the hope that there may ‘arise’ peace by some other means. The US-led ‘coalition’ which includes Australia has been killing Syrian civilians for years. It was reported that in March there were more civilian deaths across Syria from US airstrikes than by ISIS. But hey that’s not headline news.
According to SNHR (Syrian Network for Human Rights) March figures, ISIS killed 119 civilians in Syria – including 19 children and 7 women. Russian offensives are reported to have killed 224 Syrian civilians in March – 51 children, 42 women. The US-led coalition forces killed 260 civilians – 70 children, 34 women. The Syrian forces are reported in the March figures as killing 417 civilians – 61 children, 46 women.
According to Airwars, in March, US airstrikes led to 1,472 casualties. The 59 Tomahawk missiles spewed onto Al-Shayrat yesterday by the US are nothing new – are not a first-up assault. Airwars estimates that the USA is responsible for 68 per cent of airstrikes against Syria. (The 32 per cent is comprised by the rest of the coalition, predominately the United Kingdom).
In reference to the civilian deaths in March, Airwars stated, “Almost 1,000 civilian non-combatant deaths have already been alleged from coalition actions across Iraq and Syria in March – a record claim.”
There are 600 American soldiers deployed in Syria – a reminder of the small number of special military personnel and units deployed in South Vietnam during the early 1960s – but soon escalated to the catastrophe where America would lose more than 50,000 lives in Vietnam and where one million Viet Cong were killed – and of the destabilising of southeast Asia, with the Khmer Rouge atrocities subsequent in Cambodia.
The civilian deaths from airstrikes have been relentless – month after month. Some will argue it’s a no-win situation in fighting ISIS – that civilian casualties are inevitable in any war. In September, one US airstrike on the village of Manbig killed 73 civilians – 35 children and 20 women. The month prior airstrikes hit the village of Tokkhar. Nearly 200 civilians had huddled in a section of the village away from their homes in the hope they’d survive. The majority were killed.
Hundreds of thousands are dead from the warring in Syria, more than a million Iraqis dead since the ill-fated decision to first invade – both nations in ruins, narratives of human misery and suffering splayed not just in the region but in the arduous journeys of millions of refugees.
For want of a more precise definition of those who lit the fire or brewed the cesspool, and continue to stir, well the ‘imperialists’ started it all.
The colonialists and their grubby greed have never left the Middle East and Central Asia, just as they have never left Africa and Latin America. The Syrian region appeared to free itself from France in 1946. Syrian autonomy began to build a democracy and there was an onus on social reforms – pushed along by the Peasant Uprising in 1950. In 1955, a tripartite Syrian Government was formed with the Ba’ath, Arab Socialist and Communist parties. The Ba’ath party was always a problem – ruled by the military classes – and it was against the class struggle. In 1958, the Ba’ath lot ensured Syria joined Gamal Abdel Nasser’s Egypt in the United Arab Republic. There were welfare reforms and ownership of land but the state controlled the institutions. In 1963, the Ba’ath knocked over the tripartite government by coup. The Ba’ath junta drove an industrialisation agenda but there was repression.
In 1970, a coup was led by Hafez Al Assad and from there onward to his death three decades later he led Syria. Though the Sunnis were 65 per cent of the population, Hafez purged them from the ruling elite and replaced them with Alawites – who were 13 per cent of the total population. Syria was also 12 per cent Christian and the rest were Druze and Shia. However he forged strong partnerships – financial mostly – with the Sunni in particular to keep the nation relatively united and stable. Syria struggled economically but the people got by despite claims otherwise. In the three decades since the dictator Hafez Al Assad the nation was increasingly literate and educated.
At the turn of the century, Bashar Al Assad ‘inherited’ the dictatorship. There were hopes by the increasing educated Syrian classes – young and older – that the educated Dr Bashar Al Assad – an ophthalmologist – would nurture social reforms. If he was prone to social reforms, and he initiated one economic program after another, he never had a chance. However that’s no excuse and he should have stood for so much more. When many in Syria saw an opportunity under his leadership to take to the streets in 2000 and 2001 for social reforms, the Syrian Government pulled out the repression bit – not dissimilar to 8000 Occupy protesters arrested in the United States when all of a sudden it looked possible that a movement for change was being borne. Do not forget the hundreds of Occupy protesters arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge. The ‘American Spring’ was repressed before it could blossom but barely a whimper in the media. The ‘Arab Spring’ which has layered in ruins North Africa and Syria and Yemen was supported by the west’s press.
In December, 2016, The Wire’s editor Patrick Henningsen interviewed MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) research affiliate, Subrata Ghoshroy about his report, Analysis of the UN Report on Syria’s Chemical Weapons Incident in 2013 .
Ghoshroy is a former US Congressional staffer. Ghoshroy argued that ‘unqualified’ individuals declaring themselves as ‘experts’ provided bogus evidence to the United Nations at the time. He argued that the UN Report, which he examined, was flawed and its conclusions were therefore wrong but the conclusions were used as justification by the USA and the ‘coalition’ to bomb Syria. Ghoshroy said to Henningsen the gathering of information from a war zone is mired in misinformation which is used to brief the western media.
Social justice may never come, because by definition it requires universality, it needs humanity. Our world is brutalised by acts of inhumanity on a daily basis – such as the CIA’s overthrow of the Mossadegh Government. If humanity has any hope it needs nations to promote human rights and social justice by the daily lived experience and to understand that we – humanity – will not cross the line at the same time, that we must be patient and that we must not undermine. I can be criticised as naïve by whomever but the world we live in is not one of civilities and truths – is not one where nations want the best for each other, is not one where governments can govern transnational imperialists but it is one of a constancy of exploitation, wrong-doing, evil and bloodshed. The ability to discover the truth is outstripped by the capacity to manifest deceit. The majority of humanity knows who undermined the Middle East and Central Asia and North Africa but its media and ‘statured’ stooges insist on insulting us all on a daily basis with lie after lie.
The Syrian Government was just as corrupt as the governments of the ‘west’ – Bashar Al Assad’s second cousin, Rami Makhlouf had business interests that controlled more than half of the Syrian economy. Since Hafez’s coup in 1970 till the war that his son has presided over these last seven years, thousands were murdered within the Assad regimes but the bloodiest hands of the orchestrators and connivers in the ‘west’ and of ‘transnationals’ are the culprits responsible for millions of deaths – and for the majority of the traumatised there is no recovery.
Humanity is not just limited to the fact of its imperfection. Human beings are capable of the barbarous, of evil and lying comes easier to them than truth. The investing of power in the few, in elites has been a relentlessly dangerous undoing and power corrupts. We should trust no-one and if we fully, readily understand this maybe we can flicker a hope that we can unfold a social justice journey where generations unborn can thrive in a transparent world instead of languishing in a clandestine one.
· Gerry Georgatos is a suicide prevention and prison reform researcher and advocate with the Institute of Social Justice and Human Rights. He is a member of national projects to further develop suicide prevention and prisoner wellbeing and education programs. He is a prolific writer in understanding racism and on the ways forward from racism. He has written extensively in the understanding of trauma and trauma recovery. He has also campaigned for more than three decades for the right to asylum for refugees. Gerry was also a Senate Candidate for the WikiLeaks Party in 2013 and missed being elected to the Australian Senate by thereabouts 2,000 votes. He has had a long association with the charity Wheelchairs for Kids which manufactures rough-terrain children’s wheelchairs – to date, 37,000 children’s wheelchairs have been donated to 73 countries. In early 2013, with the help of Lebanese born NSW parliamentarian Shaoquett Moselmane, Gerry shipped 340 rough terrain wheelchairs to the children of Latakia, in northern Syria.