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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

UPDATED: VIPS to rescue as Dissenting Diplomats oppose Obama's courtship of Assad

Monday The Times reported:
Russia ‘using phosphorous bombs’ to break Aleppo

10 days of intense bombing by Russian & Syrian bombers have caused large fires to break out across the cityAP
Tom Coghlan, Beirut
June 27 2016, 12:01am
The last rebel lifeline to Aleppo has been battered by some of the heaviest airstrikes of the war, amid growing concerns that Russia is using phosphorous and cluster bombs against the city.

Russian and Syrian jets have mounted ten days of intense bombing as government troops attack areas north of the city in an attempt to complete the siege.

“What’s been happening in Aleppo in the last two days is surely unprecedented,” said Bibars Mishal, a civil defence volunteer in the city. “The warplanes never leave the skies of Aleppo and its countryside, it’s crazy and terrifying.” More...

It is recognized that these are tumultuous times for the British media and The Times is to be congratulated for publishing this story in spite all the other demands for its ink the week after Brexit. It is an important story although it is one on which both the western media and the world's politicians would rather pretend doesn't exist. Aleppo isn't just burning. This isn't a forest fire or some other natural disaster. Aleppo is being fire bombed by Russian and Syrian war planes. Like the US campaign in Vietnam that killed 3 million, they claim to be taking out only "bad guys," when they are in fact targeting the whole civilian population. Like the US campaign in Vietnam that killed 3 million, they are using incendiary weapons and cluster bombs to commit mass murder.

Of course Russia and Syria deny that this is what they are doing, but facts keep stubbornly bubbling to the surface, as in this Telegraph report from last week:
Russia 'caught out' using incendiary weapons
in Syria by its own channel Russia Today
A screengrab of the video showing a pilot next to the incendiary bombs, known as RBK-500 ZAB-2.5SM munitions Credit: RT
By Josie Ensor, Beirut
22 June 2016 • 4:34pm
Russia has been caught using incendiary weapons in Syria by its own TV channel Russia Today, which later tried to edit the footage out of its broadcast.

The Kremlin has previously denied that its warplanes were carrying these bombs, which are restricted by an international convention.

The English-language news station, which is funded by Moscow, broadcast footage of Sergei Shoigu, the defence minister, visiting Hmeymim airbase in the Syrian province of Latakia last Saturday.

A pilot can be seen next to a plane loaded with munitions marked with identifying numbers.

Experts from Human Rights Watch, and Conflict Intelligence Team, an open-source intelligence group based in Russia, concluded that it showed incendiary weapons mounted on a Su-34 ground attack aircraft – specifically RBK-500 ZAB-2.5SM bombs.

They said they believed the weapons contained a metal powder fuel known as thermite that ignites while falling, which has led witnesses of attacks to describe them as “fireballs.” It is the hottest burning man-made substance in the world. More...
Aleppo was once Syria's largest city. For many years now, much of it, nearly half, has been cleared of government control, liberated, in the terms of the Syrian revolution. In spite of the years of attacks, they still hang on, organized in the local coordinating committees [LCCs], White Helmet volunteer rescuers, community organizations looking after the day to day needs in the neighborhoods, and Free Syrian Army fighters looking after their defense.

Now the Assad regime and its allies are waging a campaign of carnage unprecedented, even in the Syrian conflict, to destroy liberated Aleppo with fire while hundreds of thousands of civilians still live there. Although Europe and the United States may see fit to ignore what is happening in Aleppo, they can't ignore the consequences. They can fail to mention this mass murder of Arabs, now being done largely by Russians, on US TV, and they can refuse to do anything to stop it.
Aleppo today
However these air attacks are forcing many more to flee Aleppo and Syria altogether. They too will join the refugee stream coming out of the world's conflict zones, and that they can't stop. They can refuse to stop the bombing and they can refuse to talk about what the Syrian refugees are running from but they can't stop them from trying to run. In the US presidential campaign everybody talks about the Syrian refugees but few talk about why they are refugees. America's response to Syrians fleeing the first holocaust of the 21th century makes their disregard for the Jews fleeing the Nazis before World War II look almost humane.

How Obama's "No MANPADS for you!" policy backfired

Ever since the beginning of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's brutal response to popular demands for an end to his family's 40 year dictatorship, politicians of all stripes in the West, on both the Left and the Right, thought it safe to ignore what was going on and the rising death toll that was being caused by what Assad's supporters excuse as his "over reaction." They thought what was happening in Syria would stay in Syria. Now one has to wonder if the FSA had been allowed MANPADS [ man portable anti-aircraft systems] when they asked for them in 2012, or if any effective measures had been taken to stop the Assad regime from simply clearing liberated areas from the air, would we in 2016 still be looking at the Brexit vote and the Donald Truman presidential campaign? The twin reactions behind them both are the refugees and the ISIS terrorists. Both have strong roots in the Syrian conflict. The Syrian refugees are fleeing that cesspool of war that has also allowed Daesh to breed, particularly in the Raqqa safe haven granted to them by President Assad.

One of the reasons Assad has been able to get away with murder for so long is that western governments have always supported rule by fear and violence, "free world" rhetoric to the contrary. Also President Barack Obama has always been a closet supporter of Bashar al-Assad, in spite of his numerous and obligatory calls for Assad to "step down." I detailed many of the reasons for this almost four years ago in Barack Obama's Courtship of Bashar al-Assad. So while the United States government may have made loud protests to the ongoing slaughter through diplomatic channels and even sprinkled a little money around for some military hardware and training, under Obama's leadership, it also made sure the Syrian's being bombed got no effective anti-aircraft weapons while those doing the bombing enjoyed a free fly zone. That's what the CIA was doing in Benghazi. One thing we can be certain of, they weren't helping the Syrian opposition get Gaddafi's MANPADS because we've seen only a few in rebel hands. Obama may have played "Good Cop" to his opposition, but as the person that was suppose to be leading international opposition to the Syrian regime's bloodletting, Barack Obama was just what the Doctor ordered.

US diplomat's "dissent channel" airs new grievances 

President Obama's policy of toothless action and benign neglect towards the Syrian people, as their body count rose from a few hundred to half a million and the conflict morphed into the first holocaust of the 21st century, has not been without opposition, even from within his own State Department. Ten days ago the New York Times published a draft version of a State Department memo that was very critical of Obama's Syria policy. The memo was signed by 51 diplomats and was sent through a "dissent channel" that was established to air internal opposition during the Vietnam War. Most controversially, the memo calls for,
the use of military force as an option to enforce the Cessation of Hostilities (CoH) and compel the Syrian regime to abide by its terms
It calls for an enforced no-fly zone to stop the bombing, saying
Assad’s systemic violations against the Syrian people are the root cause of the instability that continues to grip Syria and the broader region.
They call on the International Syrian Support Group (ISSG) to,
end the daily mass killing of civilians and egregious violations of human rights, cajole the warring parties to make necessary compromises at the negotiating table, bolster moderate rebel groups’ role in defeating Da’esh, and help bring an end to the broader instability the conflict generates.
They argue that allowing this carnage to continue is bad:
With over 400,000 people dead, hundreds of thousands still at risk from regime sieges, and 12 million people from a population of 23 million displaced from their homes, we believe the moral rationale for taking steps to end the deaths and suffering in Syria, after five years of brutal war, is evident and unquestionable. The regime’s actions directly result in broader instability and undermine the international system responsible for protection of civilians, prevention of mass atrocities, and accountability for grave violations.
Then they lay out what they expect can be achieved with this more interventionist policy in Syria:
5. (SBU) First, with the regime deploying tactics that overwhelmingly target civilians (barrel bombs and air strikes in cities) to achieve battlefield objectives and undermine support for the moderate opposition, impeding or ending such atrocities will not only save lives but further our political objectives.

6. (SBU) Secondly, a more assertive U.S. role to protect and preserve opposition-held communities, by defending them from Asad’s air force and artillery, presents the best chance for defeating Da’esh in Syria. The prospects for rolling back Da’esh’s hold on territory are bleak without the Sunni Arabs, who the regime continues to bomb and starve.

7. (SBU) Third, putting additional constraints on the regime’s ability to bomb and shell both fighting forces and the unambiguously civilian targets would have a direct, mitigating impact on the refugee and IDP crisis. This crisis has deeply affected Syria’s neighbors for years and is now impacting our European partners in far-reaching ways that may ultimately jeopardize their very character as open, unified, and democratic societies. Even in the United States, the crisis in Syria has lent credence to prejudiced ideologies that we thought had been discredited years ago.
That last bit is obviously a nod to the rise of Donald Trump, who is not a supporter of Obama but is a fan of Putin. Needless to say, supporters of President Obama's current policy, as well as supporters of the Assad regime, have been very critical of this memo.

VIPS to the rescue!

Into this fray has jumped the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. You may remember them from their defense of Assad after he was accused of killing more than 1400 people, including hundreds of children, with sarin on 21 August 2013 in East Ghouta and other Damascus suburbs.

At that time they came out to back claims that Assad was innocent of this sarin attack. They said that "US-backed rebels" had murdered their own people. They didn't address the many conventional attacks by the Assad regime on East Ghouta or the many other chemical weapons attack he has conduct in many locations in Syria before and since. They didn't address the findings of the Syrian activists in East Ghouta, the doctors who treated the victims or the local Free Syrian Army. They treated the matter as if only the US govt was making the charge that Assad had used sarin and they responded to the claims only from that doubtful source.

The statement they signed and claimed to have written was actually plagiarized from one written by an Assad family insider and published on the pro-Putin Global Research five days earlier. This is a very serious charge of intellectual dishonesty so please allow me to provide links as well as a brief example.  This is an excerpt from "Did the White House Help Plan the Syrian Chemical Attack?" written by Yossef Bodansky and published by Global Research on 01 September 2013:
On August 13-14, 2013, Western-sponsored opposition forces in Turkey started advance preparations for a major and irregular military surge. Initial meetings between senior opposition military commanders and representatives of Qatari, Turkish, and US Intelligence [“Mukhabarat Amriki”] took place at the converted Turkish military garrison in Antakya, Hatay Province, used as the command center and headquarters of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and their foreign sponsors.
This is from the VIPS memo: Is Syria a Trap? published on 06 September 2013:
on August 13-14, 2013, Western-sponsored opposition forces in Turkey started advance preparations for a major, irregular military surge. Initial meetings between senior opposition military commanders and Qatari, Turkish and U.S. intelligence officials took place at the converted Turkish military garrison in Antakya, Hatay Province, now used as the command center and headquarters of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and their foreign sponsors.
Do you see the same violation of copyright laws that I see? Sure they removed the tattletale Syrian security service term for US intelligence, but other than that, the wording is almost exactly the same. That is no accident! And there's a lot more where that came from. I didn't want to bore you but do check it for yourself.

How VIPS helped fuel the rise of Daesh

The combination of Obama's promise of 20 August 2012 that if Assad ever did use "a whole bunch of chemical weapons" it would cross a "red-line" that would trigger a US military response and his reneging on that promise when Assad did exactly that precisely a year later, did much to dishearten Assad's opposition, boaster the regime and fill the ranks of Daesh with demoralized fighters from the Free Syrian Army and other more democratic forces.

VIPS and its chief spokesman, Ray McGovern, did everything they could to discourage any military response to Assad's continuing carnage back then when the body count was less than 150K and they have prevailed. They stuck by their claim that Assad was innocent and his opposition had attacked its own people with sarin in a "false flag" grab for headlines.

Then proof positive emerged that Assad did it

One of the few good things to come out of this episode was that Assad was forced to give up some of his chemical weapons stockpiles. After he had done that, in 2014, and the UN had those sarin stockpiles to compare to the samples taken in the attack, they where able to make this extremely important observation:
In Al-Ghouta, significant quantities of sarin were used in a well-planned indiscriminate attack targeting civilian-inhabited areas, causing mass casualties. The evidence available concerning the nature, quality and quantity of the agents used on 21 August indicated that the perpetrators likely had access to the chemical weapons stockpile of the Syrian military, as well as the expertise and equipment necessary to manipulate safely large amount of chemical agents.
In other words, not the imaginary "homemade" sarin VIPS talks about.

I've added the bold because the UN was actually prohibited by the Russian veto from naming a perpetrator but this is pretty damn close. Still this finding is ignored by VIPS, Veterans for Peace and many others on the Left that have converted the conspiracy theory that it was a false flag attack carried out by anybody but Assad into an article of faith. When I learned that Ray McGovern would be speaking at the Veterans for Peace National convention in August 2015, I commission a large banner to challenge him on this very point.

You can see the UN quote in the upper left corner and the charge of plagiarism in the lower left. Ray McGovern walked by this banner many times during the convention but he never addressed these issues. Then in December 22, 2015 VIPS published A Call for Proof on Syria-Sarin Attack in which they claimed again that there was no evidence linking the Assad regime to that attack but again they failed to address or even mention this determinate report from the UN's Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic. That means the title of their piece is a lie.

Now VIPS has come out again. This time its to attack these 51 State Department dissents that are opposed to US government policy on Syria. Neither Assad nor Putin has been terribly troubled by Obama's policy on Syria, and they don't want to see it become more interventionist. VIPs also doesn't want to see this change, so on Saturday they published Intel Vets Call ‘Dissent Memo’ on Syria ‘Reckless’

Whether you agree with the dissenting diplomats call for a no-fly zone or other forms of US military action in Syria, it is clear that they are concerned about the plight of the Syrian civilians that are being slaughtered. VIPS can't say that, at least not based on the content of their memo. They never mention this aspect of the problem, choosing instead to paint the dissent diplomats as bullies, saying:
that 51 “State Department Diplomats” signed a dissent letter advocating direct U.S. bombing as a tool to force Syria into submission to our government’s dictates.
They add:
Unfortunately the dissent signers are calling for America to threaten, and if our bluff is called, commit acts of overt, aggressive war against the forces of a sovereign nation on its own territory.
Even if it is committing genocide on its own territory? Genocide or not, the hundreds of thousands of dead Syrian get no mention from VIPS, instead they say:
The line of thought — that it is America’s right and duty to employ large-scale death to enforce its leaders’ will on other peoples.
They refuse to mention the Syrians dying or already dead because Assad and Putin think they have a right to employ large-scale death to enforce their will. Instead they talk about hypothetical deaths that might be caused by any attempt to halt this carnage, because if stopping Assad's barrel bombs from falling is merely an exercise in American Power for these diplomats, then there is really no need for VIPS to dwell on "the government’s barrel bombing of civilians."

From the VIPS point of view, what is being done to and by ordinary Syrians is of little concern. While the memo they are critiquing speaks of the death and destruction suffered by these people, the VIPS memo does not. They don't see a Syrian freedom movement worth defending and they don't dwell on the regime's civilian causalities. To them any honest Syrians in Assad's opposition are the dupes in a great game being orchestrated by foreign powers:
It’s true that the initial phase of the Syrian Spring seems to have been largely spontaneous. Facts show, however, that outside interveners — primarily the United States, the United Kingdom, Turkey, Israel and Saudi Arabia — cooperated in lighting the match that brought the inferno of civil war. Covert funding and provision of weapons and other material support to opposition groups for strikes against the Syrian Government provoked a military reaction by Assad...
This also happens to be the Baathist and Russian view of what happened but it is not what happened.

There are other important differences between VIPS and the diplomats on the terrorist threat. While the dissenting diplomats refer to jihadi terrorists that have emerged from Assad's prisons to threaten the whole world as Daesh, the name given to them by the Syrian opposition and most who oppose it, VIPS honors it with its propaganda name, ISIS, although it is neither Islamic nor a state.

Since the beginning to the civil war, Assad has claimed that the only opposition that he faced was from terrorists. Putin has echoed him. VIPS also promotes this view, but they base it on,
Pentagon claims that the opposition and Nusra are one in the same.
Then they go on to say,
We are astonished. After 15 years of strident rhetoric about waging a war on Al Qaeda, we have now come full circle to witness the CIA and a vocal bloc within the State Department advocate to arm and train an Al Qaeda affiliated group.
They sum up Obama's history on Syria,
the President appeared to support the overthrow of Assad but then backed away from the precipice of militarily taking him out.
That's what the Good Cop does every time. Only a fool or supporter of his Good Cop deception would continue to argue that he ever really supported the overthrow of the Assad regime.


Matthew Heimbach, wearing red hat and pushing black woman out of Trump rally.
On Sunday, fights broke out in Sacramento, CA between members of a white supremacist neo-Nazi group and anti-racists protesters. The head of the white supremacist group is Matthew Heimbach, who earlier this year gained notoriety as the Trump supporter seen bating and pushing a black women out of a Trump rally. Like many fascists and "Leftists", this one is also an Assad supporter. This is what he wrote about the conflict on his facebook page:
"While President Obama says he is fighting terrorism, he is actively supporting it by continuing to flood money, training and arms to Syrian rebels. President Obama also says that he is working to topple Assad, the only force in Syria stopping the advance of the Islamic State."
It must be a real embarrassment to VIPS, Veterans for Peace and other "anti-imperialists" to find that with regards to Syria, they are on the same team as scum like that.

UPDATE 3 July 2016 {Closing the Circle}

Click to enlarge
I had ended this post by showing how the VIPS views on Syria reflect those of a neo-Nazi Trump supporter and already I can report how at least one VIPS signer is warming up to Donald Trump. Coleen Rowley, ex-FBI agent and VIPS Steering Group member, seems to be promoting Trump as the lesser evil in this facebook post:
Coleen Rowley I agree it [Sander's nomination] is a longshot but it is the best option. And what would be the alternative? More war and chaos via Killary? Or taking a longshot on Trump, who may well be the lesser evil as he's publicly states he's against war on Russia, but still a huge gamble?
Over time we can expect to see growing support for Trump from those on the "Left" that currently support Gaddafi, Assad and Putin. This should surprise no one.

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria


  1. Russia was called out for using White Phosphorus bombs in Syria, over 6 months ago! IF only photos of horrifically burned victims had been widely publicized. It could be the Crimes are so horrible they cannot be reported on on TV without making the audience retch.
    Of course TV "reporters" would never dare call out exactly which forces dropped the bombs, could be anyone up there flying a modern jet with BANNED weapons after all.
    December 2015 images of Incendiary bombs falling:

    Even earlier Assad condemned for placing White Phosphorus inside those horrible Barrel Bombs. August 2015.

  2. Thank you for posting this. I added "Russia has been using white phosphorus in Syria for six months now, and we never hear about it." to One hour from Istanbul: The bombs you don't hear about as a result.