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Thursday, May 25, 2017

How Tarqi Ali helped elect Trump

Formerly titled "Help me, Tarqi Ali"

Tarqi Ali is a well known "anti-imperialist"  British political commentator. Although Tarqi Ali is not a United States citizen, that didn't stop him from campaigning in the 2016 US presidential election, and because he is well known, and in certain quarters, well regarded, his campaigning was very beneficial to Donald Trump. In the runup to the US presidential election, Tarqi Ali argued that American voters should vote for Jill Stein or not vote at all. He even argued that with regards to US foreign military aggression, Trump was the lesser evil of the two contenders. Since this was a message directed at progressives, not Trump supporters, it had the effect of suppressing the vote for Hillary Clinton. As we have shown earlier, the vote for Jill Stein in just three states made the difference between President Trump and President Clinton. This headline, which Google finds about 147 times, meaning the piece was widely republished, makes his basic argument:
Tariq Ali considers the US election campaign and asks, is Trump is any worse than Clinton? Is this a case of electing the lesser of two evils, or is there another option?
Tarqi Ali - US 2016: Trump or Hillary? | 12 Oct 2016

Below are some excerpts I have transcribed in chronological order from this 12th of October pre-election performance, together with my comments:
People in different parts of the world increasingly feel that it will make no difference who is elected president of the United States as far as the world is concerned.
Unfortunately, it already appears that it is going to make a great deal of difference to people in many parts of the world that Donald Trump has been elected president of the US, and far from being indifferent to America's choice, they are scratching their heads in horror at it, a choice Ali encouraged.
What is annoying about the campaign is the way Trump has been completely demonized, 
This is rich! Remember the emails? Classified material on a private server! Oh the horror! Somehow, that and getting an early look at the debate questions seems like small potatoes now.
There were certainly strong undertones of racism from the Clintons when Obama was running for the presidency
While Tarqi Ali did acknowledge that Trump is "bigoted" towards Latinos, the way Nixon was towards African Americans (implying Trump isn't??), he never mentions the worldwide alt-right white nationalist movement that Trump is a part of, as is Putin and Le Pen, or his ties to Breitbart and the white supremacist leaders that he has since brought into the White House.
Politicians assume that the people have lost their memories. They think people no longer remember what was done.
This one is choice, given the context, because I certainly haven't lost mine. The whole point of this post is to remind everyone how Tarqi Ali shilled for Trump before 8 November, now that he has a new act and has brought it to Democracy Now.

Finally we get to his pitch of Trump as the lesser evil:
On the two key issues, NAFTA and war, whether we like it or not, Trump has got a slightly different position. On NAFTA, he says that under him they're going to get rid of it, and on wars he is saying he is less of a warmonger than Hillary is, and he's attacked the American military establishment, not by name but by saying these military maneuvers carried out on the Russia borders is a provocation. Well, that is something these days when the entire western media is screaming that the rogue in Eastern Europe and the periphery is Putin.
Facts are stubborn things, Tarqi. Putin is the rogue in Eastern Europe, Ukraine, and also Syria. That is why the entire non-Putin press says so. As for Trump's alleged strong points, NAFTA and war, we are still in the adolescence of his presidency and we can already see how wrong Ali was. Trump has announced that NAFTA can stay "for now." As for war, we already have a lot more war, with increased activity, and new troop deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, and the use of new and more powerful weapons; With the promise of a lot more to come, with Trump's saber rattling and posturing all over the globe, especially with regards to Iran and North Korea. Clearly he wants war badly, and needs the diversion given his domestic troubles, and I'm afraid we shall soon have it. This recent piece from Military.com is a sign of the times:
New Details on Surprise Deployment as More Soldiers Head to War

U.S. soldiers board a U.S. Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter in Hamam al-Alil, Iraq, Feb. 22, 2017. (U.S. Army photo/Jason Hull)
29 Mar 2017
by Matthew Cox

Amid additional announcements of Army troop deployments, the Pentagon on Wednesday released new details behind the recent surprise deployment of about 200 paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division to Iraq. More...
And now back to Ali:
If Hillary Clinton is elected it will be business as usual...If Trump is elected, well, we don't know what he's going to do, whether he will pull back American troops from different parts of the world, as he has promised, whether he will break the NAFTA agreements with neighboring countries. He could easily carry on in the same old way.
Or he could be much worst. That was foremost in the minds of those who voted for the lesser evil. Most knew Hillary Clinton meant "business as usual." They weren't stupid. They thought that would be better than Trump, and they were right. Right now "business as usual," meaning the past eight years, doesn't seem that bad, and I fear we ain't seen nothing yet, because it's going to prove very difficult to get these fools out of power now. The tragedy is that Trump almost certainly could have been defeated had the "Left" led by people like Ali et al, made defeating him a priority, which they didn't.
Every time there is an election in the United States the argument comes up who is the lesser evil? It's the politics of lesser-evilism that dominate American politics. I understand that in a way because people don't want the worst candidate to win, but they always forget that in voting for the candidate that you think the lesser evil doesn't quite workout that way. 
People don't want the worst candidate to win. There is good reason for that. They don't just throw away their vote because their perfect candidate isn't running, or can't win. Smart people, I'd say. Most people, anyway.
The lesser evil is actually not that different from the other evil, the worst evil, and it's exactly the same in the current situation. There is no way in which Hillary [Clinton] could be defined as being better or more progressive than Trump, on most fundamental issues. I mean Obama himself started deporting illegal migrants from the United States, more than Bush had done. Hillary would have probably carried on that way.
I agree, Clinton (Does Ali refer to her mainly by her first name because she is a woman?) would have been as bad as Obama on illegal immigration, but Trump is much, much worst. For someone that doesn't even live in the United States, Trump's immigration policies might appear "not that different," but for millions of Dreamers and other law abiding undocumented workers in the US that now feel threatened with summary deportation at any moment, it makes a world of difference. Tarqi Ali's concern for the plight of these people is not that different from his concern for the Syrian people, which is slight.
I'm opposed to the lesser evil argument. I think if you don't agree with either candidate, you don't vote for them. If there's someone in the election, one of the minority candidates, you vote for them if you agree with them, otherwise how are things to move forward? I, myself, if I were I an American citizen, would be voting for Jill Stein.
Tarqi Ali thought that progressives should vote in a "principled" way that made them feel good, if only until the election results came in, and leave the decision as to who would actually serve as Commander-in-Chief to more backwards voters. This is the result.
You keep coming back to the question: Are either of these two candidates safe? In my opinion they're not, so better to vote for the candidate you agree with, or not bother to vote at all.
The Trump presidency is barely past the hundred day mark and already it is clear that it is the most dangerous presidency in living memory. No doubt, Hillary Clinton was the safest choice, but as we have seen, just enough progressives followed Tarqi Ali's advice to make the Trump presidency something the world must now survive, because, across the board, this white nationalist regime is putting it in greater jeopardy.

This data is from Politico [updated 22 Nov. 2016 - PA updated 2 Dec from http://www.electionreturns.pa.gov/ ]  shows how Jill Stein voters made the difference:

Candidate Count % Michigan [16] Wisconsin [10] Pennsylvania [20]
Donald Trump 61,201,031 47% 2,279,805 1,409,467 2,955,671
Hillary Clinton 62,523,126 48% 2,268,193 1,382,210 2,906,128
Difference 11,612 27,257 49,543
Jill Stein 802,119 0.7% 50,700 30,980 49,678

A week after Trump won, Tarqi Ali proclaimed "The End of Manufactured Consent," saying:
One moment of truth in all those enraged people who vote for Trump is that they nonetheless saw clearly that this traditional machine of manufacturing consent no longer works. To put it in slightly bombastic and exaggerated Marxist terms, the ruling ideology uses, mobilizes certain machinery to keep people in check. To control the excesses and so on. That machinery no longer works.
If the Trump victory showed anything it was that the racial delusions that bind many a European American worker to the most reactionary elements of the bourgeoisie still work quite well. Ignoring that, he heralded the death of the party that now effectively controls all three branches of the US government:
Trump nonetheless, if you are a leftist you should admire him sincerely, he almost singlehandedly destroyed the Republican party.
It's not destroyed yet, and under Trump's leadership it is becoming more reactionary than it ever was.

Tarqi Ali was on Democracy Now on Wednesday. Probably the first time since the election, which didn't mean we were going to hear anything self-critical of his earlier position. As with most of those in the "Never Hillary" camp, he isn't interested in looking back and learning anything, or openly celebrating his victory, so after Amy Goodman plays a clip of Trump in Bethlehem, they said:
AMY GOODMAN: That’s President Trump. Tariq Ali, your response?

Well, the response is fairly straightforward, Amy, that innocents are being killed by United States policies in different parts of the world. There are seven wars going on at the moment. Trump had promised to change course, as we all know, and everyone was a bit surprised, but he’s now returned to the normal behavior of an American president. He bombed Syria. He has made friends with Saudi Arabia. It was very entertaining to see Steve Bannon, one of his advisers, you know, trapped in a collection of Arab princes and Arab diplomats in Saudi Arabia. So, it’s business as usual.
Wrong Tarqi. It's not business as usual! That's what you rejected with Hillary Clinton. She was the lesser of the two evils. This is much worst! Some of us saw this coming, and opposed Trump's power grab before the election.  Everyone wasn't a bit surprised that Trump has turned out to be a bigger warmonger and a much greater evil than Barack Obama was, or Hillary Clinton would have been. Were you being naive or disingenuous in expecting The Donald to fulfill his promises? Also some of us don't find it at all entertaining to see a well known white nationalist like Steve Bannon inside the White House and so close to the president that he goes on foreign trips with him. Nor are we entertained by the presences of Stephen Miller, the white supremacist that wrote both Trump's Muslim ban and his Saudi speech, or the whole Putin connected white nationalist cabal that you helped to win state power.

But since you were such a strong Jill Stein supporter, perhaps you can help us answer this enduring mystery: Looking at the picture below, we see two Americans dining with Russian President Vladimir Putin and friends. Both of these Americans represented US presidential candidates Putin supported. One had absolutely no chance of winning. That was Jill Stein and she represented herself. Although she had no chance of winning, Putin supported her candidacy strongly through RT.com and other media outlets he has control or influence over like Democracy Now, because she would take away votes from the candidate Putin was backing to win. Like Julian Assange, who played frontman for the Russian hacks, and made a video appearance at this event, Donald Trump couldn't make a personal appearance either. Instead we have Mike Flynn, who was there representing the Trump campaign. We now know that one of these Americans was paid big bucks to sit at this table. That was Mike Flynn. Tarqi Ali, since you were such an active Jill Stein supporter, I'm hoping you can help us find out if she was paid, and if so how much? You see, I'm wondering if I can add a charge of sexual discrimination in the payment of foreign agents to the long list of crimes I already demonize Putin for.

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

Click here for my posts on the 2016 US Election
Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria
Click here for a list of my other blogs on Libya

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Dubious Friends of Donald Trump - Zembla & vara.nl

I first watched this incredibly important documentary on Donald Trump's connections to Vladimir Putin and the Russian mob last night. I was undecided about putting out a blog post about it, thinking it would receive enough attention from other outlets with greater resources, until I heard KPFK Pacifica Radio in Los Angeles promoting it in exchange for a $150.00 pledge this morning. Since they were advertising that it was available exclusively from them on DVD, I figured the best funded progressive outlet in LA would not be too interested in letting people know they could watch it for free on YouTube.

I think it is important that this documentary receive the widest possible distribution. Especially now that Robert Mueller has been appointed Special Counsel for Russian Investigation, because they will likely put an end to public hearings by Comey and others as the Justice Department takes the official investigation behind closed door. This makes it all the more important that we do our own investigation and exposure.


We can only wish that KPFK had shown half the enthusiasm for criticizing Trump before the election as they have since. They spent last year doing everything they could to see that Hillary Clinton was defeated. That means they were really supporting the outcome they are railing against now. Even now, knowing of this critically important film from the Netherlands, they chose to use it for fundraising.

I just want you to see it:
The Dubious Friends of Donald Trump

Published on May 10, 2017
Dutch documentation/investigative journalism about the ties of Donald Trump to the Russian mobsters.

The original is located here https://vara.nl/media/372765
Here are some backup links: Part 1, Part 2

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

Click here for my posts on the 2016 US Election
Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria
Click here for a list of my other blogs on Libya

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Since Khan Sheikhoun: Murders holocaust enablers don't argue about

Thousands of Syrian civilians have been murdered by the Assad Regime since the sarin attack that killed 92 in Khan Sheikhoun on 4 April 2017. While a debate has raged in the West over the responsibility for those sarin murders on that particular day, the regime and its Russian masters have continued their grisly work of suppressing the freedom struggle of the Syrian people through the application of maximum violence.

Linux Beach has been very involved in this debate around the responsibility for those 92 deaths. Even today we are introducing a new page, Linux Beach Goes Postol, to bring together our most recent posts on that subject. But also today, we would like to take a step back from the technical discussions surrounding the facts of what happened on the morning of 4 April 2017 in Khan Sheikhoun, to take in the broader picture and better explain why we call those on the other side of this debate holocaust enablers.

Leading Veterans for Peace member Ray McGovern is one such holocaust enabler. My his own account he has "been working with Russia for the past 55 years." Through the good times and bad, you might say. He also heads a group called Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity [VIPS] which has generally been quiet on Syrian atrocities, but did come out strongly questioning Assad's responsibility for the sarin murders in Ghouta on 21 August 2013, and again for the sarin murders of 4 April 2017. Both now and then they have relied on Postol's proofs in their defense of Assad.

Before I started writing in support of the Syrian Revolution, I produced and directed a documentary film, Vietnam: American Holocaust. I even got Martin Sheen involved with the project. I got a lot of flack for calling it a holocaust. So did he. It came from those that would recognize only one holocaust, and they capitalize [on] it. I called it a holocaust because more than three million people were brutally slaughtered. With a half-million dead and counting, I call the Syrian conflict a holocaust in the making for the same reason.

I didn't call it "South Vietnamese holocaust" because I didn't buy the US government mythology that they were just helping the government of a small third world country besieged by powerful outside forces at that lawful government's invitation. I knew damn well it was America that was calling the shots, and responsible for the bulk of the killing. Moscow claimed to have all of Syria's chemical weapons under control in December 2012. For years now, they have been the most powerful military force operating in Syria, and have had command and control of all pro-Assad forces. This is Putin's holocaust. It is extremely unlikely that this most recent sarin attack, and even the ones that took place in 2013, took place without his authorization.

In the "It's a Small World Afterall" Department, below we have Ray McGovern questioning ex-General Mike Flynn in Moscow about the Ghouta attack of 21 August 2013:

VFP member Ray McGovern questions Mike Flynn in Moscow about Ghouta Attack

Published on Apr 16, 2017
Gen. Michael Flynn answering a question about Syria in December, 2015 prior to joining the Trump team.
Although this wasn't published until after the Khan Sheikhoun sarin attack, this discussion took place in December 2015. It must have been at the gala RT.com 10th Anniversary event to which saw so many connected to Putin and last years US election make an appearance. In addition to those at the table with him, apparently Ray McGovern was there. Julian Assange even made a video appearance. The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was getting Jill Stein to run for president.

One of the things I find most interesting about Ray McGovern's and Mike Flynn's discussion is how they just referred to it as "the Ghouta attack" when they are referring exclusively to the sarin attack of 21 August 2013, as if the Damascus opposition suburb wasn't bombed before that, or since. This is central to their role as holocaust enablers. By focusing on Assad's guilt or innocence in the case of a few chemical attacks, they obscure the day-to-day barrel bombing that is doing much more of the killing, and for which Putin is decidedly responsible, or the bodies being cremated in Assad's death camps. Because if they were to speak accurately about "the Ghouta attack" as a singularity, they could only be referring to the state of siege that community has been under since 2012, and continues to this day, as the videos below makes clear, even while we continue to argue about who was responsible for the 92 deaths on 4 April by sarin:

These air strikes on Ghouta two weeks after the latest sarin massacre have not been the subject of debate with regards to causality in the US. This is the way it goes for the day to day killing carried on by the regime and Russia. Since no one in the West cares about barrel bombs, the holocaust enablers don't need to try to peddle stories about rebels setting off barrel-bombs in the street just when helicopters fly by.

Airstrikes on Harasta in Eastern Ghouta, Damascus a month ago

Published on Apr 18, 2017
bombardamenti dell'esercito siriano ai danni dei ribelli a Damasco
As this video makes clear, this community has been under siege since 2012. Many thousands have died and still the people refuse to submit to the regime:

Eastern Ghouta Under Siege الغوطة حصار الموت

Published on Apr 29, 2017
Eastern Ghouta left to die
A month after the latest sarin attack, the people attacked with sarin in 2013, are still under siege and their situation is desperate. Did those who defended Assad in the case of that chemical weapons attack, and then went silent with regards to his hundreds of conventional attacks on the same community, contribute to this slaughter?

Residents of besieged Ghouta fear it is time to flee

Published on May 4, 2017
The humanitarian situation on the outskirts of the Syrian capital is worsening. The opposition stronghold of Ghouta has been repeatedly targeted by government forces, and residents now fear they may be forced to leave. Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbara reports from Gaziantep, on the Turkey-Syrian border.

The Syrian revolutionaries in Ghouta have had to fight a war on two fronts for years now. Here they are demonstrating against the jihadists, even while the Assad regime and its western contributors claim there are no revolutionaries, only jihadists:

Large scale protests against Hayyat Tahrir al Sham in Ghouta

Published on May 8, 2017
Al-Nusra and al-Qaeda in the Levant have come among us and are intruding into the Syrian Revolution.

And like the Regime, the jihadists attack the Syrian Revolution with armed violence:

Protesters shot at during demonstration in Ghouta, Syria

Published on Apr 30, 2017
Eastern Ghouta, Syria. Jaish al-Islam did the shooting according to sources. Demonstrators were protesting recent infighting between Tahrir al-Sham and Jaish al-Islam. Uploaded from Liveleak.

One problem with the Syrian Revolution has always been that although it has been a true people's revolution, there has been no central leadership. Both fighting and civil organizations have developed at the local level and the struggle for unity has been a constant one.

Homs: Syrian Opposition Calls To End The Conflict In Damascus's Ghouta

Published on May 5, 2017
Syrian opposition forces in Homs countryside read a statement and called the Syrian opposition forces in Eastern Ghouta area, Rif Dimashq province to halt the fight among its groups and unite against the Syrian regime forces
Here are a couple more blog posts we have published about the brave people of Ghouta:
01/27/2015 With Left support, Assad continues to kill in East Ghouta
10/07/2013 The Courage of Ghouta in a Craven World

Sadly, the situations under Assad's control is looking more like a holocaust everyday. The Washington Post reported yesterday:
U.S. says Syria built crematorium to handle mass prisoner killings

Karen DeYoung
15 May 2017
The Syrian government has constructed and is using a crematorium at its notorious Sednaya military prison near Damascus to clandestinely dispose of the bodies of prisoners it continues to execute inside the facility, the State Department said Monday.

Thousands of executed detainees have been dumped in mass graves in recent years, said acting assistant secretary of state Stuart Jones. “What we’re assessing is that if you have that level of production of mass murder, then ­using the crematorium would . . . allow the regime to manage that number of corpses . . . without evidence.”

“We believe that the building of a crematorium is an effort to cover up the extent of mass murders taking place in Sednaya prison,” he said in a briefing for reporters. More...

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

Click here for my posts on the 2016 US Election
Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria
Click here for a list of my other blogs on Libya

Monday, May 15, 2017

Did Trump help ISIS with classified info leak to Russians?

Man Oh! I turn off the TV long enough to pen a blog post and turn it on to a completely new BREAKING NEWS! story:

President Donald Trump has revealed classified information about US intelligence on ISIS to the Russians in the Oval Office.

We can only imagine what a newly awakened Austin Powers would have said if he saw Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak in the Oval Office listening to President Trump brag about his ISIS intelligence:

Austin Powers: Russian Intelligence? Are you mad?

Basil Exposition: A lot's happened since you were frozen.
The cold war's over.

Austin Powers: Well, finally, those capitalist pigs will pay for their crimes, eh?
Eh, comrades, eh?

Basil Exposition: Austin, we won.

Austin Powers: Oh. Groovy. Smashing. Yay, capitalism.
I hope that made you laugh because this is serious shit, so now let's connect some dots.

Donald Trump is in way over his head. And what is more, he is a traitor in the fight against ISIS. He thinks Russian President Vladimir Putin and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are our allies in the fight against ISIS terrorism, but he is mistaken because they both helped to create ISIS, continue to benefit from its existence, and even collaborate with it to their mutual benefits. For example this would be a good time to again raise the question that became the title of an article on Russia-ISIS collaboration by Ceren Kenar and Ragip Soylu in Foreign Policy, 9 February 2016 "Why Are Russian Engineers Working at an Islamic State-Controlled Gas Plant in Syria?" They reported:
Officially, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government and his Russian allies are at war against the Islamic State. But a gas facility in northern Syria under the control of the jihadi group is evidence that business links between the Syrian regime and the Islamic State persist. According to Turkish officials and Syrian rebels, it is also the site of cooperation between the Islamic State and a Russian energy company with ties to President Vladimir Putin.

The Tuweinan gas facility, which is located roughly 60 miles southwest of the Islamic State’s de facto capital of Raqqa, is the largest such facility in Syria. It was built by Russian construction company Stroytransgaz, which is owned by billionaire Gennady Timchenko, a close associate of Putin. More...
There is another important direct connection between the Russian state and ISIS. Putin's government has had a policy of exporting its jihadist problem to Syria. There are reports of jihadists being released from Russian custody on condition that they moved to Syria, others have been helped in getting to Syria to make jihad there. For more on this see also:

Russia's Double Game with Islamic Terror, Michael Weiss, 23 Aug 2015, Daily Beast
How Russia allowed homegrown radicals to go and fight in Syria, Maria Tsvetkova, 13 May 2016, Reuters
Vladimir Putin’s Newest Export: Terrorists, Katie Zavadski, Michael Weiss, 04 Jan 2017 Daily Beast

To complete this latest Trump story in a way you are not likely to see anywhere else, let me remind you that I have recently published a number of blog posts that highlights the fact that it is Russian President Vladimir Putin that is really in the driver's seat when it comes to the Syrian military, meaning the Syrian state:

05/05/2017 Who runs Syria? Why are more sarin attacks coming?
04/24/2017 A valuable admission: Russia controls Syria & Putin runs the war

And for many years now we have been detailing the relationship between the Assad regime and the jihadist groups they pretend to be at war with:

05/06/2016 Leaked docs reveal: Assad & ISIS played us on Palmyra
12/01/2015 Assad buys oil from Daesh for cash while he sells himself as their worst foe
09/09/2014 Are ISIS and Assad enemies in Syria?
07/09/2014 Today's example of Assad's support for Islamic State
02/27/2014 ISIS & the Assad Regime: From Marriage of Convenience to Partnership
02/10/2014 Man behind the Curtain for al-Qaeda in Syria is Assad
01/27/2014 How Assad runs terrorist on "both sides" in Syria
01/20/2014 Bashar al-Jihad: How Assad finances terrorists with oil
01/05/2014 Bashar al-Jihad: Is ISIS a child of the regime?

The bottom line is that whatever Trump let on to the Russians about ISIS may actually help the terror group.

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!
Click here for my posts on the 2016 US Election
Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria
Click here for a list of my other blogs on Libya

Friday, May 12, 2017

Dr. Ted Postol misreads the HRW Report on Khan Sheikhoun

On the heels of the French Report on the sarin massacre at Khan Sheikhoun on 4 April 2016, Human Rights Watch came out with their own report on May Day, Death by Chemicals: The Syrian Government’s Widespread and Systematic Use of Chemical Weapons. While the HRW report agrees with the basic findings of the White House Report, the French Report, and Syrians on the ground at Khan Sheikhoun, that in the early morning hours of 4 April 2016, a single Syrian air force Su-22 bomber dropped a chemical bomb in a civilian area and a lot of people died, it went further because it documented a pattern of chemical weapons use by the regime that involved at least four chemical attacks in the last six months.

The HRW Report does go into detail about the Khan Sheikhoun attack, and provides some important new information. In summary it says:
Human Rights Watch interviewed 60 people with first-hand knowledge of the chemical attacks and their immediate aftermath, and reviewed dozens of photos and videos of impact sites and victims that were posted online and provided directly by local residents, but was unable to conduct ground investigations of the attack sites.

Information from local residents in Khan Sheikhoun indicates that a warplane flew over the town twice around 6:45 a.m. on April 4, 2017. One resident said he saw the plane drop a bomb near the town’s central bakery in the northern neighborhood during the first fly-over. Several people, including the person who saw the bomb falling, said they heard no explosion but saw smoke and dust rising from the area, consistent with the relatively small explosive charge in a chemical bomb. Several people also confirmed that they saw people injured or heard reports of injuries immediately after the first fly-over. A few minutes later, they said, a warplane dropped three or four high-explosive bombs on the town.

Human Rights Watch identified 92 people, including 30 children, whom local residents and activists said died due to chemical exposure from this attack. Medical personnel said the attack injured hundreds more.

Human Rights Watch reviewed dozens of photos and videos provided by residents of a crater from the impact of the first bomb. Local residents believed this site was the source of the chemical exposure because those who died lived nearby and people who came near it, including first responders, exhibited the strongest symptoms of chemical exposure. One of the first photos of the crater, taken by first responders, shows what appears to be liquid on the asphalt. That would be consistent with the use of a bomb containing sarin, which is in liquid form at room temperature.
Doctor Theodore A. Postol, Professor Emeritus of Science, Technology, and National Security Policy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology believes these local residents don't know what they are talking about, or worst, they are part of a deep state conspiracy that involves obviously the White House, as usual, the French, a couple of guys in England, and now apparently also Human Rights Watch.  In spite of those odds, his Syrian Sister can rest assured that Dr. Ted is as yet undaunted in his defense of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. He maintains staunchly that Assad wouldn't hurt a fly, at least not with chemicals, so fresh on the heels of his attack on the French Report, which I critiqued here, he has penned a new attack on the HRW report dated 8 May 2017 and titled The HRW Evidence Disaffirms Its Own Conclusions in Its Report of May 1, 2017

In the best journalistic and humanistic traditions, HRW takes upon itself the task of comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable. Now, Dr. Ted can't say that, because when he writes about human rights atrocities it is to comfort the afflicter. He earlier made a name for himself for his pseudo-scientific defense of Assad in the case of the 21 August 2013 sarin murders. In the present case, he is attempting to get Assad off the hook for the sarin murders of 4 April 2017. I believe this is his sixth attempt. There were those first three attacks on the easiest target, the White House Report, the first pdf, the addendum, and the Truthdig article, all that claimed the evidence pointed to terrorists setting off a sarin pipe bomb in the street, and not an air strike. Then there was the second Truthdig article that said the Russians might be right about bombing a terrorists arms depot that stored chemical weapons. Then there was the attack on the French Report, and now this attack on the HRW Report. That makes six. If we were to include the Scott Horton show in which Postol attacks Bellingcat, Elliot Higgins, and Dan Kaszeta, that would make seven.

In examining Dr. Postol's critique in some of these earlier works, I noted that they seem to come from issues the good doctor has with reading comprehension. As we shall see, that is also at the heart of his problem with the HRW report. His reading error with the HRW Report is similar to the one he made with the French Report. In that case he read "a sign of" as meaning "a unique indicator," and then he used his confusion to "prove" the French Report didn't prove what he thought it said. With the HRW Report he misreads it as saying a certain model of Soviet era weapon was definitely used, and then bases his critique on that, whereas it only referenced it as an example, and not the weapon that was definitely used to the exclusion of all others, that is Postol's mis-reading.

In his critique, Dr. Ted speaks as though the HRW Report had identified the specific weapon used [my emphasis]:
The KhAB-250 and KhAB-500 airdropped munitions identified by HRW are designed to dispense sarin by bursting at low altitude in the air, creating an aerosol cloud of nerve agent-droplets that are carried downwind as they fall from the point of the airburst (see diagrams and photos on page 5 of 13 pages). A properly functioning “250” or “500” munition would not create the crater that is the focus of the HRW analytical conclusion that there is evidence that this munition was used

In addition his misreading of the weapons type, his whole critique discounts any of the eye-witness reports or sarin tests done by multiple agencies. It is almost entirely based on his view that the HRW report is talking about this weapon. But does the HRW Report say that? [again my emphasis]:
The photos and videos of the crater show two remnants from the chemical weapon used: a twisted thin metal fragment with green paint and a smaller circular metal object. Green coloring is widely used on factory-produced weapons to signify that they are chemical weapons. The KhAB-250, for example, one of two Soviet-produced bombs specifically designed to deploy sarin from a warplane, has two green bands. The circular object seen in photos of the crater appears similar to the cap covering the filling hole on the KhAB-250.

These remnants, combined with witness observations, the victims’ symptoms, and the identification of sarin as the chemical used in the attack by the French[1] and Turkish[2] governments and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons,[3] suggest that the Syrian warplane dropped a factory-made sarin bomb. According to open source material, the only Soviet-produced bombs designed specifically to deliver sarin are the KhAB-250 bomb, and its bigger version, the KhAB-500.
You will notice that HRW never says that a KhAB-250 or KhAB-500 was dropped on Khan Sheikhoun. They did use those for purpose of comparison, "similar" - their word, because both have the green markings for chemical weapons, but not the same, because the green markings are different. They definitely say that the available evidence "suggest that the Syrian warplane dropped a factory-made sarin bomb," and they do point to KhAB-250 and KhAB-500 as publicly known examples of such weapons from this very secret world. Of course we have no way of knowing what variants of these old designs, or even completely new designs for "a factory-made sarin bomb," the Assad regime may have come up with. The North Vietnamese became famous for re-engineering the Soviet and Chinese anti-aircraft rockets to get more range out of them than anyone thought possible. That is something else Postol should consider when he is promoting his 2km limit as the reason Assad couldn't possibly have done the people in Ghouta with sarin in 2013. 

Reading comprehension is thus the core problem with Postol's critique of the HRW report. He says:
The HRW claim that their analysis shows that this “standard” Russian munition was the source of the sarin release is therefore unsupported by the observed evidence they put forward. Put in other words, the HRW report does not contain any basic forensic evidence to support its claim that a standard Russian munition was the source of a sarin release at the crater.
But the HRW Report does not claim that "a standard Russian munition" was used. It only cites those as examples. The HRW report did conclude "a factory-made sarin bomb," was used. Since the focus of Postol's critique is that HRW never proved claims it never made, all his charts and diagrams miss the point. He could have better spent his time improving his reading skills.

There is one place where he tries to clean up a bent position that I must address, however. In a number of his previous defense briefs on the Khan Sheikhoun sarin massacre, Dr. Postol referenced a video that show workers taking samples from the crater some 30 hrs. after the attack, and said that if it was really sarin, they would be dead. A number of his critics, including me, pointed out that sarin was a low persistence nerve agent. It would be gone in 60 minutes or less. His obvious ignorance on this point must have been an embarrassment to him, so in this latest piece he tries to clean that up a bit. In this new piece he says:
Since the evaporation rate from the saturated soil would be slow relative to sarin deposited on the flat surrounding road surface, the area in and around the crater could have easily been highly toxic for 5 to 10 or more hours after the impact. During this period it would have not been possible for “White Hats” without hazmat protective equipment to dig inside the crater or linger in the immediate area around the crater, as observed in videos.
Since he had previously identified the videos as being taken 30 hrs. after the attack, there is little point in arguing his thesis that soil under the road surface could have "easily been highly toxic for 5 or 10 or more hours" to people that "linger in the immediate area." Although he had previously correctly identified the sample collectors in the video as being from the Idlib Health Directorate, now he calls them "White Hats." This smells like an attempt to get extra strokes out of the tar brush that has been used against a different group, the White Helmets. Denigrating anyone who comes to the aid of the victims is central to the work of the holocaust enabler.

While Postol demands exacting evidence that meets his high standards from those he is criticizing, he offers wild statements without anything like a shred of evidence as the premise for his conclusions. For example he says:
Given that there is substantial evidence that groups other than the Syrian government possess sarin precursors, indications of sarin poisoning do not alone indicate that the Syrian government was the source of the sarin, assuming the observed medical effects were from sarin.
Yes, assuming the French, the Turkish and the OPCW, weren't all conspiring together to "independently" find that samples tested positively for sarin, what proof is there that groups other than the Syrian government has sarin precursors beyond rubbing alcohol, or that even if in possession of all the necessary precursors, could formulate sarin? None is offered. Afterall, I can get plenty of coal but I can't make diamonds.

Postol offers this assertion about the widespread possession of sarin precursors, again without proof in this "Summary and Conclusions," and it is there that we find out what he really thinks. He starts out by acknowledging that whatever happened was a crime against humanity, and then immediately jumps into what I would call the "who didn't do it mode," in which you work to exonerate the most obvious killer. This is another thing that shows Postol and others of his ilk act like defense council for Assad rather than prosecutors for the people. If they were representing the people, and believed Assad didn't do it, they still should have pursued the "case of 2013" until the "real killer" was convicted or at least identified. That is how prosecutors prevent crimes from recurring. Defense counsels don't worry about that. After their guy gets off, they go home. Recurring crime is only their problem if their guy is being charged again.

This is why we are again hearing Postol et al speak out in Assad's defense. Bear in mind that Assad is most certainly a mass murderer many times over even if he can be acquitted in this particular case: 
There can be no doubt that using any form of murderous weapon, chemicals or otherwise, against innocent civilians and children constitute crimes against humanity.

It is also clear that there are multiple groups in Syria who have, or who have had access to the precursor chemicals needed to produce sarin. There is substantial evidence that the nerve agent attack of August 21, 2017 in Damascus might not have been executed by the Syrian government.
The future date of "August 21, 2017" is obviously a mistake, but it is Postol's mistake. Maybe Dr. Ted has problems with proofreading comprehension as well? He means 2013. Even after the United Nations said the sarin used in Damascus on 21 August 2013 came from "the chemical weapons stockpile of the Syrian military," he is still arguing Assad's innocent. His thesis would mean that opposition groups possess sarin and have used it twice against their own civilians, in 2013 and now in 2017, but never once used it in battle against Assad's forces.

In the case of the 2013 attack, Assad and most of his supporters, including Postol, argued that the opposition had a motive for gassing its own people. They said that because Obama had made this "red-line" pledge to intervene militarily if CW was used; they faked this attack so that he would intervene. It wasn't a very good "motive" then. Now it is a terrible one, but that doesn't stop Dr. Ted from raising it:
Human Rights Watch should have considered the possibility that at least some of these attacks could be perpetrated by groups who are interested in manipulating the United States into taking military actions that would support their political and military objectives against the Syrian government.
Really? Most of those attacks were done by aircrafts and those groups don't have them. Does HRW have a duty to entertain Dr. Ted's fantasies? Because if that was a thin thread in 2013, it is a gossamer one in 2017. Why would anyone stage a false flag attack that killed less than a hundred in the hopes of getting Trump to intervene against Assad right after he has announced a new more pro-Assad US policy, when the sarin deaths of over a thousand didn't prompt Obama to enforce his own red-line four years ago?

The French Report actually had a section on "the presence of armed groups in Hama and of their capabilities," but Dr. Ted chose to ignore it. He said the French Report didn't have any "details" like this:
Neither do the French services assess that the theory of a staged attack or manipulation by the opposition is credible, particularly because of the massive influx in a very limited time towards hospitals in Syria and Turkey, and the simultaneous, massive uploading of videos showing symptoms of the use of neurotoxic agents. 
Postol accuses HRW of encouraging groups to continue murdering innocent civilians and children in pursuit of US military intervention:
If this is the case, Human Rights Watch could be inadvertently encouraging these groups to continue murdering innocent civilians and children in pursuit of this objective.
I appreciate his logic, because even if Assad were somehow innocent of one or more chemical attacks, he clearly is guilty of the majority of the carnage in Syria. So what should we call those who come out to defend Assad whenever his mass murders get media attention, but holocaust enablers?

The next paragraph gives us his bottom line on the Syrian conflict. There is no just and moral side. There is no people's side in Syria. They are all bad people committing atrocities. No reason to single out the Assad Regime:
It is not foreseeable that when multiple groups are all engaged in routine wartime atrocities that one of the groups will suddenly transform itself into a moral and just winner while all the others would surely continue their monstrous behavior.

Clearly, he knows nothing of the history of Syria, its people, or this revolution. One of the groups is still the millions of Syrians that started this upheaval in 2011 by demanding an end to the fascist 40+ year old Assad dictatorship, and refusing to take "no" for an answer. They are still refusing to take "no" for an answer. That is the reason Assad is dropping sarin bombs on them. Those that still argue, as they did in 2013, that "Assad has almost won," don't understand the fight, because after all this carnage, Assad has still not forced them to accept his "no" for an answer. They didn't have to suddenly transform themselves into a moral and just cause, they have been that all along. Dr. Postol just can't see that from his perch on the other side. He probably can't read these banners either, so let me simplify them for him:

The People Demand an End to the Regime!

Bonus Feature...
Scott Lucas on sarin gas attack disinformation

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Are Scott Horton & Ted Postol holocaust enablers?

There are forces, some on the Right and some on the Left, that speak out on questions related to Syria only when the slaughter that has been raging for the past five years rises to a level that floods it into the mainstream media. Then they jump into action to defend those that have unquestionably been responsible for the overwhelming proportion of murders in Syria by arguing that it can't be proven that these particular murders were committed by regime forces. These people are what I call


Scott Horton and Dr. Ted Postol are but two examples. Scott Horton is an alternative Left radio personality that generally peddles a variety of conspiracy theories for the entertainment of his listeners on Pacifica radio station KPFK and other outlets. Dr. Ted Postol is a MIT rocket scientist that moonlights over Alabama as an "Assad didn't do it" SME. More on them later.

Syria is becoming the first holocaust of the 21st Century. Over a half million Syrians have been killed already. Most have been killed by Assad, and now Russia. The girl in the pictures above on the left had her head blown off by Assad's artillery in 2012 before the chemical massacres started, and the people in the picture on the right were starved and tortured to death in Assad's prisons. They were among the two hundred thousand disappeared into state custody. Like the vast majority of Assad's victims, they did not die of chemical poison. What is more important is that these deaths did not make the news, so the Assad defenders could remain silent.

Although we didn't hear from many of these holocaust enablers when the Assad regime first began using mass murder as a political tool, or even when it started killing with sarin in December of 2012, we did as soon as a military response was threatened in response to the unprecedented sarin murder of more than a thousand near Damascus in August 2013. They then swelled the ranks of the Assad defenders until the danger passed. Not the danger of chemical murders mind you! The danger that effective action would be taken to stop them. And so the chemical murders continued, with little fanfare, as most of the holocaust enablers forgot about Syria and put themselves on reserve status.

Now when the regime and its allies are stepping up the killing, including by using chemical weapons, in the hopes that they can finally crush the rebellion for once and forever, people like Scott and Dr, Ted come out of the swamp to add their intellectual attacks on the Syrian people. They can prattle on about a single chemical attack without ever acknowledging the victims or suggesting what needs to be done to stop it, as they did here:

Woman looks for her child after 2013 Ghouta sarin massacre
Scott Horton begins by mentioning the only Syrian they refer to in the YouTube clip, which is Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. They don't want to talk about the gruesome sarin deaths of 92 other Syrians, the chemical wounding of hundreds more, and the chemical terror of thousands, so they don't. Without ever first honoring this massacre with a noun, they instead first refer to "it" with a pronoun. That is how far removed they want to be from the real subject matter of their discussion. They don't want to acknowledge other Syrian voices, so instead they target Bellingcat, which in addition to contributing its own valuable insights, has done a first-rate job of gathering those Syrian voices and making them accessible in English on the web.

Half a million people are dead in six years, more than two thousand have died illegal chemical deaths, and Scott Horton has the arrogance to brag that he hasn't given the matter a fair hearing:
I admit I have not gone and tried to give a fair hearing to the Bellingcat version of all of this which I'm sure is that Assad did it.
And Dr.Theodore A. Postol, Professor Emeritus of Science, Technology, and National Security Policy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology thinks it is a laughing matter:
your only comment [is] laughter?
Dr. Postol thinks he can press science into the service of acquitting Assad of his crimes, but his application is always corrupt. For example, he draws maps with precise times and wind directions to show that people couldn't have possibly died from chemicals the way they died, but his maps always show winds blowing in a straight line and that is not what winds do at ground level in built up areas. In the case of the 2013 Ghouta sarin attack, Postol thought he could prove Assad's rockets couldn't reach that far. Even after all his fancy math, he had no way to prove Assad's forces couldn't get that close, so he just declared "rebel controlled areas," as indicated on his map, as impenetrable, so he accused them of:
inventing the information that there were Syrian troops really operating in with within the rebel controlled areas
That was pretty much the extent of it for reasoned arguments such as they are. The rest was ad hominem:
I could have done better with a rather young child relative to what they seemed to be able to understand
basically these guys are frauds
less than a bunch of amateurs
they're really a bunch of frauds
I'm very disturbed by the press continuing to use them
these guys have been shown in detail to be frauds

They apparently see no need to look at what happen in terms of the victims. We get the sense that they really don't care about them. They aren't trying to solve a crime. They aren't trying to stop it from happening again. This was also true in 2013. The two of them, and many others, fought hard then to sow seeds of doubt about the responsibility of the Assad regime for those murders. They never pursued the matter beyond that. They never tried to prosecute those who they thought were the real culprits and they never tried to stop it from happening again.

Now that it has happened again, they have again arose from the swamp to again play their role as holocaust enablers.

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

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Sunday, May 7, 2017

The Syrian Cause and Anti-Imperialism

Yassin al-Haj Saleh (born in Raqqa in 1961) is a Syrian writer and political dissident. He writes on political, social and cultural subjects relating to Syria and the Arab world.

From 1980 until 1996 he spent time in prison in Syria for his membership in the left-wing opposition group Syrian Communist Party (Political Bureau), which he calls a "communist pro-democracy group". Al-Jumhuria has published a selection from a book about Syria soon to be published in Italian:
The Syrian Cause and Anti-Imperialism

Yassin al-Haj Saleh
Translated by: Yaaser ElZayyar
5 May 2017

In memory of Michel Seurat, our martyr.

I was in Istanbul for about ten days when I met a Turkish communist who explained to me that what was going on in Syria was nothing but an imperialist conspiracy against a progressive, anti-imperialist regime. The Turkish comrade’s talk contained no novel information or analytical spark that could suggest something useful about my country, and everything I tried to say seemed utterly useless. I was the Syrian who left his country for the first time at the age of fifty-two, only to be lectured about what was really happening there from someone who has probably only visited Syria a few times, if at all.

Incidents like this are repeated over and over in both the real and virtual worlds: a German, a Brit, or an American activist would argue with a Syrian over what is really happening in Syria. It looks like they know more about the cause than Syrians themselves. We are denied “epistemological agency,” that is, our competence in providing the most informed facts and nuanced analysis about our country. Either there is no value to what we say, or we are confined to lesser domains of knowledge, turned into mere sources for quotations that a Western journalist or scholar can add to the knowledge he produces. They may accept us as sources of some basic information, and may refer to something we, natives, said in order to sound authentic, but rarely do they draw on our analysis. This hierarchy of knowledge is very widespread and remains under-criticized in the West.

There are articles, research papers, and books written by Westerner academics and journalists about Syria that do not refer to a single Syrian source–especially one that is opposed to the Assad regime. Syria seems to be an open book of a country; anyone with a passing interest knows the truth about it. They particularly know more than dissidents, whom they often call into question, practically continuing the negation of their existence which is already their fate in their homeland. Consequently, we are denied political agency in such a way that builds on the work of the Assad regime, which has, for two entire generations, stripped usof any political or intellectual merit in our own country. We are no longer relevant for our own cause. This standpoint applies to the global anti-imperialist left, to mainstream western-centrists, and of course to the right-wing.

The Western mainstream approaches Syria (and the Middle East) through one of three discourses: a geopolitical discourse, which focuses on Israeli security and prioritizes stability; a culturalist or civilizationalist discourse, which basically revolves around Islam, Islamists, Islamic terrorism and minority rights; and a human-rights discourse, which addresses Syrians as mere victims (detainees, torture victims, refugees, food needs, health services, etc.), entirely overlooking the political and social dimensions of our struggles. These three discourses have one thing in common: they are depopulated (Kelly Grotke), devoid of people, individuals, or groups. They are devoid of a sense of social life, of what people live and dream.

The first two discourses, the geopolitical and the culturalist, are shared by the Western right as well.

But what about the left? The central element in the definition of the anti-imperial left is imperialism and, of course, combatting it. Imperialist power is thought of as something that exists in large amounts in America and Europe. Elsewhere it is either nonexistent or present only in small amounts. In internationalist struggles, the most important cause is fighting against western imperialism. Secondary conflicts, negligible cause and vague local struggles should not be a source of distraction. This depopulated discourse, which has nothing to do with people’s lived experiences, and which demonstrates no need for knowledge about Syrians, has considered it unimportant to know more about the history of their local struggles.  More...
Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

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Chomsky and the Syria revisionists: Regime whitewashing

Muhammad Idrees Ahmad recently published this important two part critique of Noam Chomsky. Idrees Ahmad is a lecturer in digital journalism at the University of Stirling. He is the author of The Road to Iraq: The Making of a Neoconservative War, and is currently writing a book on the war of narratives over Syria. The New Arab just published:
Chomsky and the Syria revisionists: Regime whitewashing

Muhammad Idrees Ahmad
5 May 2017

This is Part I of a two-part article examining Chomsky and the Left's relationship with Syria. Read part II here.

Early on the morning of Tuesday 4 April when General Mohammed Hasouri of Syria's Air Force Brigade 50 prepared his Sukhoi Su-22 for take-off, he may not have known that in the age of satellites and smartphones, crucial details of his flight would be recorded.

The jet's communications were intercepted by Syria Sentry spotters when, using the call-sign "Quds-1", it lifted off from al-Shayrat airbase at 6:26 am local time; CentCom recorded its flight path on its bombing run over the Idlib countryside; and, 12 minutes later, when it delivered its lethal payload on the town of Khan Sheikhoun, multiple witnesses reported the strike, posting videos online (which have since been verified and geo-located.)

A comprehensive Human Rights Watch report has since confirmed that the regime was responsible for this and at least three other chemical attacks since December as "part of a broader pattern of Syrian government forces' use of chemical weapons".
The attack killed 92 people and injured many more. The World Health Organisation (WHO) and Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) found the symptoms consistent with exposure to a nerve agent; the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) found "incontrovertible" evidence that the agent used was sarin; and, after testing samples of the chemical agent, the French government concluded that the attack was perpetrated by the "Syrian armed forces and security services". More...
Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

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