How Assad’s war crimes bring far left and right together - under Putin's benevolent gaze

April 23, 2018



The Extreme left has joined the Facsistic right in supporting Assad and the brutal regimes that govern Russia, Iran and Gaza.

Above top: left-wing protesters in Manhattan last weekend. The second photo shows Serbian far right nationalists in Belgrade -- Tom Gross



[Note by Tom Gross]

I’m presently without a computer, as my previous old computer has finally collapsed. I have formulated this dispatch on my iPad, but it is difficult to do so.

For those interested in commentary about the Western airstrikes on Syrian chemical weapons facilities, I have posted a number of items that you may not have seen elsewhere, on my public (website’s) Facebook page in recent days, which should be accessible even to those without Facebook accounts, here:

Israeli intelligence has let it be known through Israeli media that in their view Friday night’s joint US-UK-French bombing of Syrian chemical weapons facilities failed to meet the mission’s goals, and that Assad and his Iranian controllers and Russian backers will perceive the weakness of the strikes as a greenlight to step up attacks.

An Israeli source was quoted in Yediot Ahronot dismissing President Trump’s boast of “mission accomplished”.

Israeli intelligence say that the several days between the time President Trump first threatened retaliation and the actual mission gave the Syrians and Iranians and Hezbollah time to successfully move many things of value from the three targets that were hit. In addition, the “Syrian air force was left virtually unscathed and ready to again drop chemical weapons when ordered to do so.”

Even more worryingly, the most powerful chemical agent, VX, is apparently being held in reserve by Assad for potential use as a “doomsday weapon,” should he feel his rule is threatened.

I attach a piece on some of the Western response below, from today’s Haaretz, followed by a report by Reuters on the recent air strike on one of the dozens of bases that the Iranian Islamic regime is setting up around Syria.

Since President Obama’s Iran deal released billions of dollars to the Iranian regime, it is estimated that Iran has spent tens of billions of dollars in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, Gaza and Iraq expanding its influence and setting up and arming proxy Shia and other militia in a number of Middle Eastern countries.

Dispatches will resume in a few days once my new computer arrives.

-- Tom Gross



How Assad's War Crimes Bring Far Left and Right Together - Under Putin's Benevolent Gaze

The 'anti-imperialist' left is now shilling for tyrants in Damascus and Moscow. And conspiracy theories are the toxic glue binding them to their fellow Assad and Putin apologists on the alt-right

By Alexander Reid Ross
April 17, 2018

Compare and contrast:

"We lost. War machine bombs syria. No evidence Assad did it. Sad warmongers hijacking our nation."

"Congratulations to all the war hawks and pundits and regime change propagandists who encouraged [Trump]. There is still no evidence that the [Syrian] government carried out last week’s alleged attack."

Little distinguishes these two tweets' content.

But the first is from conservative talk-radio host Michael Savage, and the second, from regular RT contributor and pro-Assad leftist Rania Khalek.

In recent months, the crossover between leftists and the far-right in defense of Syria's tyrant and Russian geopolitics has become increasingly obvious. Its implications are potentially disastrous for the course of the international left and political society in general.

Most of the stories in the media alleging that the Syrian regime's attacks on civilians are "fake news" have come from the conspiracist and InfoWars founder Alex Jones, and from Breitbart's London outfit, as well as the conspiracy-syncretic and far-right friendly Veterans Today, according to public scholar, Caroline O.

Interesting agreement beginning to form between the left and the right online about skepticism on the Syria story. Meanwhile, the establishment press as usual believes the Pentagon without question or evidence. The push for escalation on TV is overwhelming. #WarDrums
— Cenk Uygur (@cenkuygur) 9:04 AM - Apr 10, 2018

But left-wingers have joined the trend, finding common cause on the hard right with their blanket anti-war stance, leading Cenk Ugyur of The Young Turks to affirm the "interesting agreement" between right and left over Syria.

Others, like Caitlin Johnstone, have called for the left "to be absolutely shameless about collaborating with people on either side of the ideological divide" on Syria.

Leftists have found in Rupert Murdoch’s media empire a sanctuary to support Russia’s narratives. Just in terms of the past month, Glenn Greenwald joined Tucker Carlson to agree against intervention on FOX News. The Nation’s Stephen F. Cohen denied evidence in the Skripal case on a Sky News Australia program founded by far-right figure Mark Latham.

The pattern’s clear now: When the Syrian army advances or liberates cities from NATO/GCC backed insurgents, insurgents allege a chemical attack. Sources are invariably insurgent activists, NATO/GCC backed White Helmets, & SAMS. Independent confirmation is impossible. Bombs away!
— Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) 9:55 PM - Apr 8, 2018

Journalist Max Blumenthal went on the Rupert Murdoch-owned Australian network a week later to suggest that Syrian rebels are the most likely perpetrators of the Douma attacks.

In this situation of self-parody, it becomes difficult to tell satire apart from reality.

MSNBC invites on neocons to agree with them that Trump is bad, but few have the courage, like Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham, to invite me on to agree that it’s actually the liberal media, odious Dems and the Deep State who are bad.
— Glen Greenwald (@gggreenwald) 11:02 AM - Apr 12, 2018

Meanwhile, in the UK, the Labour Party is experiencing similar left-right controversies.

Watched Corbyn interview on #Marr again. Sorry to say my Party is led by a man who questions Russian responsibility for Salisbury, who rejects action to stop Assad use of chemical weapons, who opposes Humanitarian intervention and gives Russia a veto on UK action #NotInMyName
— Mike Gapes (@MikeGapes) 4:05 AM - Apr 16, 2018

Its leader Jeremy Corbyn’s controversial comments on the Skripal case brought widespread condemnations, Labour’s tepid response to the Douma attacks and Corbyn's rejection of any humanitarian grounds for military action led long-time fascist, Nick Griffin, to declare his intention to vote Labour.

IF he sticks to his guns then for 1st time in my life I will vote #Labour - right now NOTHING is more important than resisting the psychotic rush to #WW3 of Boris & the #neocons Corbyn refuses to blame Assad for chemical attack in #Syria via @MailOnline
— Nick Griffin (@NickGriffinBU) 10:49 AM - Apr 9, 2018 · North West, England

Now for some facts.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has confirmed the UK’s account of the Russian source of the poison used against the Skripals in the UK. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the Assad regime and its allies have butchered some 85% of the more than 500,000 lives taken over the course of the civil war. The regime indisputably uses chemical weapons - only one of their numerous techniques for crimes against humanity. The World Health Organization and France have presented compelling evidence regarding the Douma chemical attack.

Yet the Kremlin often relies on murky and unreliable sources linked to the "anti-interventionist" movement for far-fetched denials of war crimes - aided by mass trollfare.

Carlson and Greenwald Blast Media for Headlong Rush to War (Video) …
— Russia Insider (@RussiaInsider) 11:17 AM - Apr 11, 2018

Such widespread, and politically promiscuous, attempts at denial - of genocide and crimes against humanity - are as mystifying as they are unsettling.

Shortly after the Douma attacks, extreme-right activist Lyndon LaRouche blamed the UK for staging the chemical attack. Four days later, the Russia Federation’s spokesperson oddly echoed LaRouche’s charges that Britain had helped stage the attack. Regardless of whether LaRouche, who is known for his high-level Russian supporters, influenced or broadcasted the Kremlin’s narrative, the prevalence of such conspiracy theories on the left has an eerie historical resonance.

For many decades, the "preferred target of such theories was the Jews," notes Chip Berlet, veteran researcher of the far right, in an email, and there's a nice twist to the Kremlin's Britain-blaming: "Blaming England and Jews goes back to before WWII and conspiracy theories about the Rothschilds."

It would help if those contemporary "hoax" spinners on the left would recover even a modest historical perspective to the disastrous consequences of conspiracy thinking, and of embedding with the far right, not least in terms of modern anti-Semitism.

Some leftists still claim Bashar al-Assad is a champion of socialism and "national liberation." They appear to have conveniently forgotten how Gamal Nasser and Muammar Qaddafi, both one-time Arab world heroes of the hard left, drew support from the anti-Semitic hoax, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the embrace of Nazi war criminals by Nasser, Qaddafi, and Assad’s father, Hafez - not to mention the Soviets’ anti-Semitic campaigns and policies.

Serbian nationalists hold pictures of Syrian President Bashar Assad and the former Serbian leader and indicted war criminal Slobodan Milosevic to protest U.S. strikes on Syria. Belgrade, Serbia. April 15, 2018

If those horror stories of left-right syncretism are too far removed from the present, some of the same groups aligned with Assad and Putin will probably recall their own defense of Slobodan Milosevic last decade, well before Russian media gave left-wing groups a platform alongside the right to support Putin’s Russia.

Indeed, it is not merely those reports of alt-right members joining nominally leftist-organized anti-interventionist protests that should cause concern.

At the last Hands Off Syria rally organised in Vancouver by the Stop War Coalition, alt-right people showed up on the same side as the rally organisers, the latter of which who even gave an interview to alt-right media, where they discussed their shared support for Assad.
— Steven R. D. Henderson (@SRDHenderson) 3:15 PM - Apr 14, 2018

High-profile members of the anti-interventionist movement include infamous conspiracy theorist, Vanessa Beeley, who has described meeting Bashar Assad in Damascus in 2016 as her "proudest moment", and Navid Nasr, who uses alt-right (((echoes))) to identify Jews and boasted of his "Eurasianist" (read: far-right, pro-Russian hegemony) sympathies to a far-right activist.

How have hard left and right come to this moment of unison? Look to the appeal of fascism.

According to Israeli scholar Zeev Sternhell, fascism is composed of a syncretic agreement between the revolutionary left and ultranationalist far right to overthrow the liberal center.

Conspiracy theories, which are core to both hard right and left Syria and Kremlin apologists, can serve to mystify rational contradictions, making such agreement easier.

Whether or not one agrees entirely with Sternhell’s thesis, it is impossible to deny that a synthesis of conspiracy mongering amid collaboration between right and left has been showcased in recent months.

Increasingly, the left seems little more than a propaganda tool in a cynical, "East-versus-West" geopolitical game through which the most serious economic, political, and social contradictions are ignored or obscured. The problems most people face are more complex, and the principle of equality more universal, than is realizable by authoritarian sects or creeds.

The confluence of hard left authoritarians with what’s left of the alt-right around Syria and ultimately Russian geopolitics echoes a broader turn of Western political culture toward a toxic impasse that precludes the genuine solidarity that the left is supposed to champion, in its DNA.

The only hope for progress lies in organized efforts to expose and debunk conspiracy theories, while promoting individual freedom and salvaging ethics from the opportunistic delusions of what British Syrian writer and activist Leila al-Shami has quite rightly called, "the anti-imperialism of idiots."

(Alexander Reid Ross is a Lecturer in Geography at Portland State University)



Israel conducted April 9 strike on Syrian airbase: NYT quotes Israeli military source
April 16, 2018

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel maintained its official silence on Monday over its possible involvement in an April 9 air strike on a Syrian airbase after the New York Times quoted an unnamed Israeli military source as saying Israel had carried out the raid.

Syria and its main ally Russia blamed Israel for the attack, near the city of Homs, which followed reports of a poison gas attack by President Bashar al-Assad's forces on the rebel-held town of Douma.

Israel, which has often struck Syrian army locations during its neighbor's seven-year civil war, has neither confirmed nor denied mounting the raid. But Israeli officials said the Tiyas air base was being used by troops from Iran and that Israel would not accept such a presence in Syria of its arch foe.

Iran's Tansim news agency said seven Iranian military personnel had been killed in the attack, which contributed to a sharp escalation of tensions between the West and Russia.

"(The Tiyas strike) was the first time we attacked live Iranian targets — both facilities and people," New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman quoted the Israeli military source as saying.

Friedman described the seven Iranians killed as members of the Qods Force, a branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps that oversees operations abroad, and one of them as a commander of a drone unit.

Asked about the claim of Israeli responsibility cited in the New York Times article, which was published on Sunday, an Israeli military spokeswoman said: "There is no comment at this time.”

While acknowledging that it has carried out scores of strikes in Syria against suspect Iranian deployments or arms transfers to Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas, Israel generally does not comment on specific missions.

The attack on Tiyas came days before the United States, Britain and France launched 105 missiles targeting what Washington said were three chemical weapons facilities in Syria in retaliation for the suspected poison gas attack.
Assad has denied using chemical weapons.

Despite the Israeli source's comment to the New York Times that the killing of Iranians at Tiyas was unprecedented for Israeli missions in Syria, a 2015 air strike there that Hezbollah blamed on Israel killed an Iranian general along with several of the Lebanese guerrillas.


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