The reaction to Max Blumenthal’s two-part report into a few of the players behind the campaign for a U.S./NATO war on Syria has been remarkable to watch. A few observations are in order. First, there was absolutely nothing new in the report. The information Blumenthal detailed in English has been well-known to the Syrian intelligence community and widely reported in Syrian media. Second, had any or all of the factual assertions in Blumenthal’s report been made by a Syrian reporter, journalist or activist (and they have) they would have been, at best, disregarded. A Syrian reporting the same information is attacked or dismissed as an “Assad shill” or “shabih” (Blumenthal has spent the last five years doing exactly that), but when reported by a white guy in America it becomes investigative journalism.
Amal Clooney’s latest foray into the public spotlight has been her stated desire and “delight” to prosecute Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for alleged war crimes in the Syrian civil war. On the surface, her self-aggrandizing statement would not be so untoward were it not for her abysmal record in the field of human rights itself.
Building on an over five-year, almost entirely fictional narrative about a popular uprising in Syria, recent developments on the ground in Aleppo have triggered a new propaganda blitz complete with a new set of provable lies. The following are ten facts about Aleppo that must be accepted by any objective, informed and rational observer regardless of one’s political views and opinions regarding Syria.
The Syrian-American Council (SAC) is a front group for a minute fraction of Muslim Brotherhood (MB) supporters within the Syrian-American community founded by wealthy Syrian-American businessmen that either chose to leave or were forced to leave Syria in the early 1980s as one of the previous MB campaigns of wide scale violence was quelled by the Syrian Army. For the past five years SAC has presented itself as the Syrian-American voice of the “revolution.” Every March this handful of Syrian-Americans leave their comfortable, suburban American homes for a short vacation in Washington, DC to commemorate the anniversary of the Syrian “revolution.” This year’s all-inclusive package included meetings with the most anti-Syrian, pro-Israel fanatics in Congress to urge them to support a US war on Syria, an evening of music and fine dining at a luxury hotel, an opportunity to listen to a leading propagandist of the Saudi-Wahhabi regime (and a former fighters with Usama Bin-Laden in Afghanistan) that sponsors the Syrian “revolution”, and a couple of hours of waving the French mandate flag in front of the Lincoln Memorial.
After meeting with White House officials to once again urge the Obama administration to launch a war on Syria, American Islamists led by the Ikhras Shoe-Of-The-Month Award-winning Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) held yet another of their Syria-related press conferences. This latest one was staged in front of the Russian embassy in Washington D.C. to condemn Russian military assistance to Syria. Last week Russia began an air campaign directed at Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, and other terrorist organizations. The joint Russian-Syrian operation was undertaken after an official request from the legitimate Syrian government and months of planning by the Russian and Syrian military leaderships. Nevertheless, CAIR and the usual cast of U.S. Islamists, which included the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) and Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), decided to condemn Russia’s military operation in Syria, as if these impudent charlatans are entitled to offer an unsolicited opinion about, let alone a condemnation of, a bilateral relationship between two independent sovereign states. Clearly, they have adopted the same paternalistic, condescending and colonial mentality of the U.S political class in front of which they made a career out of groveling.
Four years after the launch of an imperialist proxy war on Syria a tiny group within the Syrian-American community calling itself the Syrian-American Council (SAC) organized a fourth anniversary celebration for what it calls the Syrian revolution. SAC is a front group for a minute fraction of Muslim Brotherhood (MB) supporters within the Syrian-American community founded by a handful of wealthy Syrian-American businessmen that either chose to leave or were forced to leave Syria in the early 1980s as one of the previous MB campaigns of wide scale violence was quelled by the Syrian Army. SAC describes itself “as the largest and oldest grassroots organization of Syrian-Americans… devoted to community organizing, awareness-raising, youth empowerment, media outreach, advocacy, and support for Syrians seeking to build a free, democratic, and pluralistic Syria”, a description anyone remotely familiar with the history of the MB in Syria would find laughable. SAC was established not uncoincidentally back in 2005, two years after the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq and as the US regime was escalating its anti-Syrian rhetoric and bellicosity in the wake of the assassination of the late Lebanese premier and billionaire Rafiq al-Hariri. With a lack of understanding of the inner workings of the US political system and its foreign policy and with an unrealistic belief in their ability to make themselves relevant to both, the opportunistic and ideologically-driven clique behind SAC hoped to leverage US military might against a government they viewed, perhaps justifiably from their perspective, with an irrational hatred.
“For whatever reason”
Whether on his twitter feed or in his never ending churning out of repugnant opinion pieces in the guise of objective analysis, ever since Russia stepped up to play a central role in blocking US imperialist designs on Syria, including a potential Libya-type bombing campaign, the empire’s most dedicated Arab-American Shabih Hussein Ibish has been regularly bashing the government of President Vladimir Putin. Writing in the Hariri family-funded website NOW Lebanon, Ibish begins his latest anti-Russia rant (Russia is no ally for the Arabs) by dismissing those Arabs calling for closer ties with Russia “who are, for whatever reason, fed up with United States.” For the Senior Fellow at the American Task Force On Palestine (ATFP), which functions as a two-man, Arab-wing of the pro-Israel lobby, it always begins with the assumption of a virtuous US government, unlike all other governments, in its pursuit of an altruistic foreign policy. This assumption is not to be questioned or challenged lest you be dismissed as “anti-American”, “extremist”, or, at best, “unreasonable” and “ill-informed.” But for the unreasonably reasonable, politically astute Anglophile on the Potomac it’s simply unfathomable why Arabs may be fed up with US foreign policy. After all, US “interventions”, bombings, and invasions are always carried out in the best interest and for the well-being of Arabs.
Los Angeles, CA – A special town hall-style meeting Friday night brought together a large crowd of Syrian and Arab-Americans from Southern California and across the country. The atmosphere was slightly tense as the attendees lined up immediately outside the ballroom of the West LA hotel to go through tight security. The special guest that evening was Syria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Dr. Bashar Jaafari. Dr. Jaafari was warmly welcomed by the crowd as he entered the room and took his seat on the stage. He was also joined via video-conference from Damascus by the Grand Mufti of Syria Sheikh Ahmad Badr Al-Din Hassoun and Archbishop Luka Khoury of the Eastern Orthodox Church.
Mufti Hassoun began the evening with an address that emphasized the common history and civilization that’s shared by Syrians of all faiths. Pointing out Syrian history predates Christianity and Islam by thousands of years, he stressed the historic unity of the Syrian people and the essential strengthening role it’s played in countering the current onslaught on Syrian society. “Never throughout the entire history of Syria has a Syrian killed another Syrian on account of his faith”, he told the crowd. During the address a member of the audience shouted out his condolences to the Mufti for the death of his son. The Mufti’s son was shot and killed in an ambush near Ibla University in October of 2011. In response Mufti Hassoun told the crowd “all the Syrians that were martyred are my children” and called for peace and an end to violence. The Mufti concluded on a positive note expressing his confidence that the “dark cloud” that now hangs over Syria will pass and all Syrians will come together in a Syria once again at peace. Following Mufti Hassoun Archbishop Khoury also addressed the crowd and stressed the same themes, the historic unity of the Syrian people and the need for an immediate end to violence in the country. The Archbishop also made clear that what is happening in Syria is not a civil war among Syrians, but a war on Syrian society by outside forces.
Arab students at the University of Pennsylvania have joined with pro-Israel campus advocacy groups to invite a token Syrian from the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) to speak on the their campus. Undoubtedly this Syrian will come to University of Pennsylvania to speak on behalf of the neoconservative and Zionist agenda in Syria.
The event is being sponsored by, among others, the Pennsylvania Arab Student Society (PASS), Penn Friends of Israel, and StandWithUs. Penn Friends of Israel “is a student initiative-led and student-run Israel advocacy group on Penn’s campus” which “acts as an open and supportive forum for Israel advocacy.” StandWithUS is a pro-Israel campus advocacy group that is proudly “supporting Israel around the world.” It is dedicated to spreading Zionist lies and propaganda with a special focus on whitewashing the crimes of the Israeli terrorist army and seeking out token Arabs willing to work with them.
[Ikhras Note: After publishing our list of 10 alternative names our readers and tweeps have sent us their suggestions. We’re happy to add to the list]
The following are ten alternatives for the sarcastically named “Friends of Syria” conference which would be a more honest and accurate description of the American organized, Arab oil-Sheiks funded spectacle in Tunisia.
1. Friends of Israel Conference
2. Balkanization of Syria Conference
3. Colonial Nostalgia Conference
4. Enemies of Syria Conference
5. Iraq: The Sequel Conference
6. Puppets of the Empire Conference
7. Destroy Hizballah Pre-Conference-Conference
8. We All Got Screwed By Russia Conference
9. Join-Us-For-Free- America’s-Barking-Arab Sheiks-Will-Pay-Conference
10. Kofi Annan’s Cameo Comeback Conference.
11. America Al-Qaeda Reconciliation Conference
12. Libya Chaos 2.0 Conference
[Ikhras Note: Whether it’s Arab rulers, opponents of Arab regimes, so called human rights and democracy activists, members of the mythical Arab-American lobby, or talentless comedians on the margins of American pop culture, the standard by which Arabs are judged worthy of acceptance remains the same. As the US and its Arab client regimes in the Gulf attempt to hijack the 2011 Arab uprising and set their sights on Syria a clique of Syrians scattered across western capitals have found a new role for themselves in the service of US imperial machinations. In this special guest submission Ikhras friend Tammy Obeidallah takes a look at the sinister activities of Ribal Al-Assad.]
By Tammy Obeidallah*
Most House Arabs are motivated by a desire for personal wealth, fame, acceptance from the West or perhaps all three. They are despicable sell-outs who undermine the struggles against Zionist occupation and broader Western imperialism. However, there are House Arabs with even more sinister intentions than simple self-indulgence.
Enter Ribal Al-Assad, cousin of Bashar Al-Assad and son of Rifaat—notorious for his role in the regime in the early 1980’s—currently living in Mayfair, England and enjoying the support of the Saudi royal family.
US State Department tool Radwan Ziadeh today called for a war on Syria. Speaking on Aljazeera’s prime-time, evening newscast “daily harvest”, Washington’s favorite Syrian “human rights activist” did not actually utter the word “war”, but that word is rarely used even by the powers that wage the war. Instead he opted for the agreed upon euphemism of “international protection.” He went on to explain “international protection” would be justified under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter. Like the minute fraction of Arabs (they are always a minute fraction) that previously supported Western wars on Iraq and Libya, Ziadeh and a handful of like-minded friends are quick to cite Chapter 7 as a “legal basis” for their self-serving collaboration and a fig leaf for their treason. This is not the first time Ziadeh has expressed his support for a potential war on Syria, but he’s never been as clear as he was today.
Short of the American military invasion and occupation of Syria which Ziadeh is hoping for, at which time he can fly into Damascus on a US Air Force C-17 like Ahmad Chalabi arrived in Iraq, he is unlikely to ever return to the country where he would certainly be arrested and put on trial for treason regardless if the current regime remains in power or not. Ziadeh, who has appeared before anti-Syrian, Zionist groups, has also expressed his willingness, in the event he becomes part of a Western-installed regime in Damascus, to recognize the Zionist entity and continues his silence on Israel’s occupation of the Syrian Golan Heights.
In a recent Huffington Post article titled “Support Syria’s People”, James Zogby declared the Syrian regime has lost its legitimacy and called on the league of Arab states to “suspend” Syria’s membership in the organization.
“The Arab League should make it clear that the Assad regime has lost whatever legitimacy it once claimed in the Arab World and promptly suspend its membership in the organization, declaring that the regime has forfeited the right to play a role in Syria’s and the region’s future.”
That the self-appointed spokesperson of the Arab-American community is continuing his decades-long pattern of self-serving pandering to U.S. officials comes as no surprise to anyone. Zogby’s shameless behavior is so well known and established by now that Arab-Americans have been mostly ignoring the omnipresent careerist and his hijacking of the collective community name. As long as Zogby is organizing galas and promoting ignorant, oil-sheiks Arab-Americans can continue ignoring his social calendar, but the community must not ignore his self-promoting activities when they include the cynical manipulation of the 2011 Arab uprising and the political and human rights of the Arab people.
On a Web site called Ikhras — “shut up” in Arabic — he is described as an American-approved “democracy and human rights advocate” who does not represent the Syrian people or their aspirations. The writers rail at him for addressing the American Jewish Committee and mock his reedy voice and uninspiring speeches.
Without identifying the American Jewish Committee as a component of the pro-Israel lobby, which we did in our piece on Ziadeh, the reader is left with the impression that Ikhras was criticizing Ziadeh for meeting with a Jewish group, subtly raising the anti-Semitic charge routinely hurled at anyone who criticizes the Zionist state. Here is what we wrote in the context of raising questions about Ziadeh’s relationship with anti-Syrian, pro-Israel organizations in Washington DC:
Ziadeh also recently appeared before the rabidly anti-Syrian, racist Zionist group TheAmerican Jewish Committee (AJC). The AJC is one component of the Pro-Israel Lobby in Washington. The group which has been described as the “foreign policy wing of the Israel lobby” has taken its activities abroad to promote and defend the Zionist entity. The group has also campaigned for defining any criticism of Israel, a hostile entity in a state of war with Syria that occupies the Golan Heights and remains committed to the destruction of Palestine, as anti-Semitic. The obvious questions are why was Ziadeh invited to share the stage with Zionist fanatics like Gary Bauer, Elliot Abrams, and Jeffrey Goldberg. What was it about Ziadeh that won him the approval of this pro-Israel organization and earned him an invitation to speak at their event? And why would any Syrian “Human Rights advocate” take his case to this group? These are but a few of the questions swirling around the activities of Washington’s favorite Syrian.