by James Corbett
30 August, 2012
From unconfirmed reports of the Syrian army indiscriminately shelling its own civilians to allegations of outright slaughter of innocent families in Houla, the so-called “Friends of Syria” and their faithful servants in the corporate-controlled and foundation-funded media have attempted to present the case for outright military intervention against the Assad government in Damascus. Now, with the violence and bloodshed continuing apace in the terrorist-torn nation, President Obama has outlined a new “red line” that he says would justify an immediate response from the international community
Although the use of chemical weapons in Syria is undoubtedly a worrying possibility, the recent panic over their possible deployment omits key details showing that the greatest threat comes not from the Assad government, which has absolutely nothing to gain by deploying these weapons against its own citizens, but by the foreign-funded opposition, which has not only the motive but also the means to carry out such an attack.
Last year, as the Gaddafi government in Tripoli finally collapsed, the very politicians and members of the press that had been such cheerleaders for the wholesale destruction of Libya and the decimation of its civilian population under NATO’s illegal bombing campaign suddenly began to wonder about the consequences of toppling the Libyan government. Finally forced to admit that the Libyan opposition had not been a spontaneous democratic uprising of everyday citizens, as they had been portrayed in almost every media report since the beginning of the conflict, but in fact were a ragtag band of sectarian terrorists and foreign jihadists, the prospect of the Libyan government’s chemical weapons stockpiles falling into terrorist hands finally began to gain coverage in the Western press. After an initial flurry of reports worrying that Libya’s chemical weapons were about to be seized by the same Islamic extremists and self-described Al Qaeda agents that NATO had been openly backing in the conflict, the issue disappeared from the headlines as abruptly as it had arrived.
Then, in June of this year, reports began to emerge that those chemical weapons had in fact been acquired by the foreign-funded and supplied jihadis in Syria opposing the Assad government. The reports indicated that the Syrian “rebels” had secured some of the Libyan chemical weapons stockpile and were receiving training in how to use them at the Turkish military bases that have recently been exposed as operational headquarters for the so-called Free Syrian Army. The plan, according to the reports, is to use the weapons against civilians in Syria and to blame the attacks on Syrian government forces in order to convince the UN Security Council or NATO to back military intervention in the country.
In effect, according to these reports the foreign-backed terrorist groups fighting the Assad government in Syria are planning a false flag chemical weapons attack against Syria’s civilian population to blame on the Syrian government. If such an attack were to be perpetrated in such a way as to suggest that it had come from the Assad government, Obama’s recent remarks suggest that the response from the US and allied countries would be swift and brutal.
Certainly, further reporting on this issue will be needed to verify these allegations. But placed in the context of the conflict as it has played out so far, these latest reports seem to fit into a well-established pattern of hoaxes, lies, and exaggerations by the Syrian terrorists to turn international opinion against the Assad government.
Numerous examples of blatant media-perpetrated lies being used to demonize the Assad government have surfaced over the past eighteen months.
In August of last year, reports began circulating that government forces had deliberately destroyed the electricity generators in Hama hospitals, leading to the deaths of dozens of premature incubator babies. The sensational story was immediately picked up on social media outlets and even CNN and AP picked up the story. The reports were later exposed as fabrications, including the use of pictures that were later identified as coming not from the hospital in Hama, or even from Syria at all, but from an overcrowded maternity ward in Alexandria, Egypt. But the damage had already been done, and exactly as the completely fabricated reports of Saddam Hussein’s troops throwing Kuwaiti babies out of incubators had galvanized public opinion in support of the first Gulf War, so too were many left with the impression that the Assad government was similarly deranged and attempting to kill the babies of its own population.
One of the most infamous examples of a supposed government-sponsored atrocity in the Syrian conflict occurred earlier this year in Houla, a cluster of villages in the western part of the country. According to initial, unverified reports, that were immediately trumpeted in the international media without question, 108 people, including 34 women and 49 children, had been killed in the village on May 25th of this year, some from what appeared to be artillery and tank rounds. The story was immediately used as a basis for a unanimous condemnation of the Syrian government by the UN Security Council and a further condemnation from the UN Human Rights Council.
In the following weeks, however, details of the incident began to emerge that contradicted these initial reports. An investigation by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung maintained that the victims had not been Sunni rebels, as reported elsewhere, but part of the Shiite minority that make up the Assad government. Michel Chossudovsky, director of the Centre for Research on Globalization, appeared on Press TV in June to talk about the incident.
Another incident occurred in June, when Syrian air defences shot down a Turkish fighter jet. Although mainstream media reports on the event were quick to portray it as a baffling and completely unprovoked act of aggression against a routine patrol flight that was taking place in international airspace, it was subsequently confirmed that the plane had in fact illegally crossed into Syrian airspace, an internationally-recognized act of war provocation.
In late June of this year, I had the chance to talk to Eric Draitser of StopImperialism.com about the incident and how it was once again used to demonize the Syrian government.
Time and again, the media has reported on atrocities and war crimes alleged to have been committed by Assad against his own population only for the facts to subsequently turn the allegations on their head. Still, every time a new incident pops up it is still reported with the same sense of outrage over the latest provocation and no analysis whatsoever devoted to the question of why the embattled Assad, already under the gaze of the international community and under the threat of military invasion by foreign forces,would commit blatant acts of genocide against his own people that serve no strategic purpose in ending the ongoing rebellion.
If there is any positive side to this pattern of hoaxes and exaggerations, however, it is that an increasingly skeptical public is growing wary of these reports and is much less susceptible to these blatant attempts at manipulation. Such is the case with this latest hysteria over the supposed potential for Assad to attack his own population with chemical weapons.
Although intended to whip the public into a panic over the possibility of widespread slaughter in Syria, Obama’s warning has so far had almost the exact opposite effect. Immediately, people from across the political spectrum began comparing the announcement to the Bush administrations accusations of Saddam’s Weapons of Mass Destruction in the lead up to the Iraq War of 2003. One can only hope that if a chemical weapons attack were to occur in Syria, that same public which was fooled into supporting an illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq on the basis of fabricated and fictitious WMDs would at least question the possibility that the attack had in fact come from the Syrian rebels who have already been caught staging atrocities to blame on the Syrian government.