World Teeters on Brink of War

Russia responded to recent Israeli attacks on Syria by accusing Israel of responsibility for the loss of 15 Russian servicemen. Philip Giraldi cautions, “The downing of the Russian plane through Israeli contrivance created a situation that could easily have escalated into a war involving Moscow and Washington.”

By John Friend

The Russian Ministry of Defense has publicly accused Israel of being culpable for the downing of a Russian military aircraft in Syria on the evening of Monday, Sept. 17, resulting in the death of 15 Russian service members. The tragic international incident has received scant media coverage in the West but has many serious observers of Middle Eastern affairs wondering if Israel—blindly supported and financed by the United States—is on the verge of provoking WWIII with its blatant military aggression, utter disdain for international law, and outrageous arrogance.

The downed Russian aircraft, a Soviet-era Ilyushin IL-20 surveillance and control plane, was on a reconnaissance mission near the Idlib de-escalation zone in Syria on the evening of Sept. 17, when four Israeli F-16 fighter jets—compliments of the Pentagon—left Israeli airspace and flew over the Mediterranean Sea to carry out an unprovoked attack on various Syrian targets, essentially using the larger Russian aircraft as cover for their assault.

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In yet another blatant and criminal act of military aggression against her neighbors in the region, the Israeli F-16s launched several precision-guided missiles at a number of industrial and military targets in the western Syrian province of Latakia, warning their Russian counterparts less than one minute prior to launching the illegal and extremely risky attack. Russian military commanders immediately ordered the IL-20 back to the Khmeimim air base, but Syrian air defense systems mistakenly targeted the Russian aircraft and its 15 crew members, which the Russians have argued the Israelis were using as cover for their attack on Syrian targets.

“The Israeli jets saw the Russian Ilyushin IL-20 and used it as a shield against the anti-aircraft missiles, while they carried on maneuvering in the region,” Major General Igor Konashenkov, a spokesman for the Russian Ministry of Defense, stated in the aftermath of the incident.

“We believe that the blame for the Russian IL-20 aircraft tragedy lies entirely with the Israeli Air Force,” Konashenkov continued. “The military leadership of Israel either has no appreciation for the level of relations with Russia or has no control over individual commands or commanding officers who understood that their actions would lead to tragedy.”

Ultimately the “misleading information” provided just moments before the attack on Syrian targets by the Israeli F-16s “did not allow the Russian IL-20 airplane to move timely to a safe area,” the Russians concluded.

“This is an extremely ungrateful response to all that has been done by the Russian Federation for Israel and the Israeli people recently,” Konashenkov lamented.

The incident has soured relations between Israel and Russia and has prompted the Russian government to provide upgrades to the Syrian air defense system, further strengthening military and political ties between the embattled Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad, a major nemesis in the eyes of the Israelis and their sympathizers in Washington, D.C., and Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

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Earlier this week, Russia announced it had transferred new anti-aircraft missiles to Syria, including four S-300 launchers, a sophisticated anti-aircraft missile system that will “significantly increase the Syrian army’s capabilities,” according to the Russian military. In a telephone conversation late last month with Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, Russian President Vladimir Putin emphasized that “the actions of the Israeli Air Force were the main cause” of the downing of the Russian aircraft, and that “Russia’s decisions to bolster the combat capabilities of Syrian air defenses are appropriate at this juncture and primarily intended to thwart any potential threat to the lives of the Russian military service members fulfilling the tasks of combating international terrorism,” the Kremlin stated.

In the wake of the tragic incident, many are concerned about a potential escalation of conflict in the region and the possibility of a broader war involving major superpowers—Russia and the United States—breaking out due to the risky and criminal actions of the Israelis.

“Israel does risky things like attacking its neighbors because it knows it will pay no price due to Washington’s support,” Philip Giraldi, executive director of the Council for the National Interest, recently argued in an op-ed released just after the tragedy. “The downing of the Russian plane through Israeli contrivance created a situation that could easily have escalated into a war involving Moscow and Washington.”

John Friend is a freelance author based in California.




Why Are We Siding With al Qaeda?

We’re siding with al Qaeda, who attacked us, to “regime-change” Iran, who didn’t attack us. Ron Paul points out this entire strategy makes no sense.

By Dr. Ron Paul

In my last column, I urged the Secretary of State and National Security Advisor to stop protecting al Qaeda in Syria by demanding that the Syrian government leave Idlib under al Qaeda control. While it may seem hard to believe that the U.S. government is helping al Qaeda in Syria, it’s not as strange as it may seem: Our interventionist foreign policy increasingly requires Washington to partner up with “bad guys” in pursuit of its dangerous and aggressive foreign policy goals.

Does the Trump Administration actually support al Qaeda and ISIS? Of course not. But the “experts” who run Trump’s foreign policy have determined that a de facto alliance with these two extremist groups is for the time being necessary to facilitate the more long-term goals in the Middle East. And what are those goals? Regime change for Iran.

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Let’s have a look at the areas where the U.S. is turning a blind eye to al Qaeda and ISIS.

First, Idlib. As I mentioned in my last column, President Trump’s own Special Envoy to fight ISIS said just last year that “Idlib Province is the largest al Qaeda safe-haven since 9/11.” So why do so many U.S. officials—including President Trump himself—keep warning the Syrian government not to re-take its own territory from al Qaeda control? Wouldn’t they be doing us a favor by ridding the area of al Qaeda? Well, if Idlib is re-taken by Assad, it all but ends the neocon (and Saudi and Israeli) dream of “regime change” for Syria and a black eye to Syria’s ally, Iran.

Second, one of the last groups of ISIS fighters in Syria are around the Al-Tanf U.S. military base which has operated illegally in northeastern Syria for the past two years. Last week, according to press reports, the Russians warned the U.S. military in the region that it was about to launch an assault on ISIS fighters around the U.S. base. The U.S. responded by sending in 100 more U.S. Marines and conducting a live-fire exercise as a warning. President Trump recently reversed himself (again) and announced that the U.S. would remain at Al-Tanf “indefinitely.” Why? It is considered a strategic point from which to attack Iran. The U.S. means to stay there even if it means turning a blind eye to ISIS in the neighborhood.

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Finally, in Yemen, the U.S./Saudi coalition fighting the Houthis has been found by AP and other mainstream media outlets to be directly benefiting al Qaeda. Why help al Qaeda in Yemen? Because the real U.S. goal is regime change in Iran, and Yemen is considered one of the fronts in the battle against Iranian influence in the Middle East. So we are aiding al Qaeda, which did attack us, because we want to “regime change” Iran, which hasn’t attacked us. How does that make sense?

We all remember the old saying, attributed to Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanack, that “if you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas.” The “experts” would like us to think they are pursuing a brilliant foreign policy that will provide a great victory for America at the end of the day. But as usual, the “experts” have got it wrong. It’s really not that complicated: When “winning” means you’re allied with al Qaeda and ISIS, you’re doing something wrong. Let’s start doing foreign policy right: Let’s leave the rest of the world alone!

Ron Paul, a former U.S. representative from Texas and medical doctor, continues to write his weekly column for the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, online at www.ronpaulinstitute.org.
© 2018 Ron Paul Institute



Is Trump Going Neocon in Syria?

Should the U.S. “engage Russian and Syrian forces militarily and force them to back off” of Idlib province? And has “the Assad-Putin-Rouhani coalition decided to accept the risk of a clash with the Americans in order to bring an end to the rebellion”? President Trump’s recent comments seem to indicate he really is willing to follow through with his threats despite what he promised as Candidate Trump—and without congressional authorization.

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Is President Donald Trump about to intervene militarily in the Syrian civil war? For that is what he and his advisers seem to be signaling.

Last week, Trump said of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s campaign to recapture the last stronghold of the rebellion, Idlib province: “If it’s a slaughter, the world is going to get very, very angry. And the United States is going to get very angry, too.”

In a front-page story Monday, “Assad is Planning Chlorine Attack, U.S. Says,” The Wall Street Journal reports that, during a recent meeting, “President Trump threatened to conduct a massive attack against Mr. Assad if he carries out a massacre in Idlib.”

Idlib contains three million civilians and refugees and 70,000 rebels, 10,000 of whom are al Qaeda.

Friday, The Washington Post reported that Trump is changing U.S. policy. America will not be leaving Syria any time soon.

The 2,200 U.S. troops in Syria will remain until we see “the exit of all Iranian military and proxy forces and the establishment of a stable, non-threatening government acceptable to all Syrians.”

“We are not in a hurry to go,” said James Jeffrey, the retired Foreign Service officer brought back to handle the Syria account. “The new policy is we’re no longer pulling out by the end of the year.”

President Obama had a red line against Syria’s use of poison gas, which Trump enforced with bombing runs. Now we have a new red line. Said Jeffrey, the U.S. “will not tolerate an attack. Period.”

In an editorial Friday, the Post goaded Trump, calling his response to Assad’s ruthless recapture of his country “pathetically weak.” To stand by and let the Syrian army annihilate the rebels in Idlib, said the Post, would be “another damaging abdication of U.S. leadership.”

What Trump seems to be signaling, the Post demanding, and Jeffrey suggesting is that, rather than allow a bloody battle for the recapture of Idlib province to play out, the United States should engage Russian and Syrian forces militarily and force them to back off.

On Friday, near the U.S. garrison at Tanf in southern Syria, close to Iraq, U.S. Marines conducted a live-fire exercise. Purpose: Warn Russian forces to stay away. The Americans have declared a 35-mile zone around Tanf off-limits. The Marine exercise followed a Russian notification, and U.S. rejection, of a plan to enter the zone in pursuit of “terrorists.”

Is Trump ready to order U.S. action against Russian and Syrian forces if Assad gives his army the green light to take Idlib? For the bombing of Idlib has already begun.

What makes this more than an academic exercise is that Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, at a meeting in Tehran last Friday, told President Erdogan of Turkey that the reconquest of Idlib is going forward.

Erdogan fears that the Syrian army’s recapture of Idlib would send hundreds of thousands more refugees streaming to his border.

Turkey already hosts millions of refugees from Syria’s civil war.

Yet the massing of the Syrian army near Idlib and the Russian and Syrian bombing now begun suggest that the Assad-Putin-Rouhani coalition has decided to accept the risk of a clash with the Americans in order to bring an end to the rebellion. If so, this puts the ball in America’s court.

Words and warnings aside, is Trump prepared to take us into the Syrian civil war against the forces who, absent our intervention, will have won the war? When did Congress authorize a new war?

What vital U.S. interest is imperiled in Idlib, or in ensuring that all Iranian forces and Shiite allies are removed, or that a “non-threatening government acceptable to all Syrians and the international community” is established in Damascus?

With these conditions required before our departure, we could be there for eternity.

The Syrian civil war is arguably the worst humanitarian disaster of the decade. The sooner it is ended the better. But Assad, Russia, and Iran did not start this war. Nor have Syria, Russia or Iran sought a clash with U.S. forces whose mission, we were repeatedly assured, was to crush ISIS and go home.

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Trump has struck Syria twice for its use of poison gas, and U.S. officials told the Journal that Assad has now approved the use of chlorine on the rebels in Idlib. Moscow, however, is charging that a false-flag operation to unleash chlorine on civilians in Idlib is being prepared to trigger and justify U.S. intervention.

Many in this Russophobic city would welcome a confrontation with Putin’s Russia, even more a U.S. war on Iran. But that is the opposite of what candidate Trump promised.

It would represent a triumph of the never-Trumpers and President Trump’s relinquishing of his foreign policy to the interventionists and neoconservatives.

Pat Buchanan is a writer, political commentator and presidential candidate. He is the author of Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever and previous titles including The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority, Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025? and Churchill, Hitler and the Unnecessary War, all available from the AFP Online Store.

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False-Flag Chemical Attack Is Coming in Syria, Warns Russia

Russia’s foreign minister has submitted documentation based on “concrete facts” to the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons warning of a potential false-flag chemical weapons operation coming in Syria’s Idlib province. Will the warning be enough to stop the warmongers and psychopaths?

By John Friend

The Russian government has openly warned the UN and wider international community of a potential false-flag operation that could be carried out in Syria designed to frame and discredit embattled Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s government, it has been reported.

According to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, there is “no doubt” that Islamic militants with ties to Western intelligence agencies that are hostile to Assad’s regime are planning a false-flag chemical weapons attack in Idlib province, the scene of fierce fighting between forces loyal to the Syrian regime and terrorist groups opposed to it.

The accusations are familiar to readers of this newspaper, as the Russian government has long accused the West and radical terrorist groups in the region of plotting false-flag-style attacks in Syria that are designed to frame Assad and the Syrian government for war crimes.

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Lavrov noted that Moscow has submitted documentation for these allegations to both the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), RT.com recently reported.

“We have presented concrete facts obtained from various sources both to the UN and to The Hague, where the OPCW headquarters is located,” Lavrov stated. “There is no doubt that such provocations are being prepared,” he added, noting that terrorist groups operating in Syria are on the defensive and are getting desperate, as the Syrian government’s mission to combat and defeat the terrorist threat continues to make progress. Russia has openly backed the Syrian government’s efforts to combat the various terrorist groups operating in its territory, many of which are funded, financed, and supported by Western intelligence agencies in their not-so-covert war against Assad.

“We have no plans to conceal what we do to back the Syrian government, which is liberating its land from terrorists to [allow] the Syrian citizens to return to . . . normal life as soon as possible,” Lavrov explained in a recent news conference.

Previously, the Russian Ministry of Defense had accused the U.S. government of planning a new round of airstrikes on Syria, using the false-flag attack allegedly being coordinated by terrorist groups on the ground in Syria as a pretext and justification. British forces are working with some of the terrorist groups to set up the false-flag provocation, the Russian Ministry of Defense has alleged.

“The implementation of this provocation, which is being conducted with the assistance of the British intelligence services, is meant to serve as the latest pretext for the U.S., Britain and France to deliver a missile strike against state and economic facilities in Syria,” General Igor Konashenkov, a spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, recently stated.

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The powerful allegations come at a time when President Donald Trump and officials in his administration continue to warn Assad of potential consequences for using chemical weapons or otherwise attacking forces openly at war with his regime. Earlier this week, Trump took to Twitter to lecture not only Assad but also the Russian and Iranian governments about their actions in the region.

“President Bashar al-Assad of Syria must not recklessly attack Idlib Province,” Trump tweeted. “The Russians and Iranians would be making a grave humanitarian mistake to take part in this potential human tragedy. Hundreds of thousands of people could be killed. Don’t let that happen!”

Will Russia’s open warning about a potential false flag be enough to stave off the warmongers and psychopaths from provoking yet another military conflict?

John Friend is a freelance author based in California.




Can’t We Just Leave Syria Alone?

Good question. With Assad back in control of Idlib, hundreds of thousands of people have voluntarily returned to the city and are apparently enjoying peace and relative liberty. Clearly, Assad is not trying to gas them all and the U.S. and its coalition does not need to “liberate” them. As Dr. Paul asks, can’t we just leave them alone?

By Dr. Ron Paul

Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad was supposed to be gone already. President Barack Obama thought it would be just another “regime change” operation and perhaps Assad would end up like Saddam Hussein or Ukraine’s Viktor Yanukovych. Or maybe even Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi. But he was supposed to be gone. The U.S. spent billions to get rid of him and even provided weapons and training to the kinds of radicals that attacked the United States on 9/11. But with the help of his allies, Assad has nearly defeated this foreign-sponsored insurgency.

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The U.S. fought him every step of the way. Each time the Syrian military approached another occupied city or province, Washington and its obedient allies issued the usual warnings that Assad was not liberating territory but was actually seeking to kill more of his own people. Remember Aleppo, where the U.S. claimed Assad was planning mass slaughter once he regained control? As usual, the neocons and the media were completely wrong. Even the UN has admitted that with Aleppo back in the hands of the Syrian government hundreds of thousands of Syrians have actually moved back. We are supposed to believe they willingly returned so that Assad could kill them?

The truth is Aleppo is being rebuilt. Christians celebrated Easter there this spring for the first time in years. There has been no slaughter once al Qaeda and ISIS’s hold was broken. Believe me, if there was a slaughter we would have heard about it in the media.

So now, with the Syrian military and its allies prepared to liberate the final Syrian province of Idlib, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo again warns the Syrian government against re-taking its own territory. He tweeted on Aug. 31: “The three million Syrians, who have already been forced out of their homes and are now in Idlib, will suffer from this aggression. Not good. The world is watching.”

Trump’s National Security Advisor, John Bolton, has also warned the Syrian government that the U.S. will attack if it uses gas in Idlib. Of course, that warning serves as an open invitation to rebels currently holding Idlib to set off another false flag and enjoy U.S. air support. Bolton and Pompeo are painting Idlib as a peaceful province resisting the violence of an Assad who they claim just enjoys killing his own people. But who controls Idlib province?

Trump’s own special envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS, Brett McGurk, said in Washington just last year that, “Idlib province is the largest al Qaeda safe-haven since 9/11, tied directly to Ayman al Zawahiri. This is a huge problem.”

Could someone please remind Pompeo and Bolton that al Qaeda are the bad guys? After six years of a foreign-backed regime-change operation in Syria, where hundreds of thousands have been killed and the country nearly fell into the hands of ISIS and al Qaeda, the Syrian government is on the verge of victory.

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Assad is hardly a saint, but does anyone really think al Qaeda and ISIS are preferable? After all, how many Syrians fled the country when Assad was in charge versus when the US-backed “rebels” started taking over?

Americans should be outraged that Pompeo and Bolton are defending al Qaeda in Idlib. It’s time for the neocons to admit they lost. It is time to give Syria back to the Syrians. It is time to pull the U.S. troops from Syria. It is time to just leave Syria alone!

Ron Paul, a former U.S. representative from Texas and medical doctor, continues to write his weekly column for the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, online at www.ronpaulinstitute.org.

© 2018 Ron Paul Institute



Israel’s Military Strategy a Failure

The Zionist state refuses to abandon its dream of gobbling up the territory of neighbors in its never-ending pursuit of Greater Israel.  

By Richard Walker

The failure of the coordinated efforts of the West, its Arab allies, and Israel to redraw the map of the Middle East by forcing regime change in Syria has exposed Israel’s declining power across the region.

Russia’s intervention in the Syrian war on the side of Syria’s government turned the tide against ISIS, al Qaeda, and the al-Nusra Front who received arms, intelligence, and training from the West and its allies, especially Britain, France, Turkey, Jordan, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. It also placed a spotlight on a regime change policy that had all the hallmarks of a neoconservative agenda that risked helping Israel find an excuse to go to war with Hezbollah in Lebanon and provoke a major confrontation with Iran that would drag in Western powers.

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Israel has been advocating for regime change in Syria from the days of the Bush-Cheney administration. It convinced Vice President Dick Cheney that Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Iran were ripe for a campaign to overthrow their leaders. Cheney saw to it that Syria was at the top of a regime hit list drawn up in the Pentagon and in the smoke-filled rooms of big corporate donors in Washington.

The reason Syria featured so prominently was because of Israel’s undue influence in Washington politics and its determination to hold on to the Golan Heights, which it illegally seized and has continued to hold since the 1967 Six-Day War. The Golan Heights was and, according to international law, remains Syrian territory that Israel is exploiting for military and financial gains.

From the time it seized the Golan Heights, Israel has been determined not to lose it. To that end, it has plotted to weaken Bashar al-Assad’s government and to advocate in Washington for a plot to put in place a pro-Western Syrian government that would never question Israel’s Golan occupation.

During this latest regime change war in Syria, Israel secretly aided the al-Nusra Front and illegally bombed Syria. It has continued to do this as the war winds down. Israel has also made every effort to drag Hezbollah and Iran into a shooting war, but they have not taken the bait.

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Israel’s aim has been to widen the Syrian conflict so that Syria would be one of the dominoes to fall should the West be encouraged to join a wider war. The West, too, has no longer taken the bait and has decided that the regime-change effort was a disaster. Turkey was one of the first NATO nations to see the writing on the wall and moved closer to Russia, thereby ending its own efforts to unseat Assad.

In the past three years, as Israel has contemplated the possibility of the Assad government remaining in power, it has feared that Syria will eventually relaunch its rightful claim to the Golan Heights, with backing from Russia and China. This reality encouraged devious warmongers in the Israeli government like Benjamin Netanyahu and Naftali Bennett to plot ways to ensure the Golan Heights can never be returned to Syria. Bennett wants to resettle over 100,000 Jews, many from Eastern Europe, in the Golan Heights, enabling Israel to eventually argue before the UN that it could not hand over an area populated by Jews to a non-Jewish regime.

Another strategy is the building of expanded military fortifications in the Golan Heights. An intelligence source in Moscow who spoke to American Free Press off the record warned that Israel may have put missiles with a nuclear capability in the Golan Heights.

“But you have no hope getting that confirmed,” the source added.

Netanyahu has long believed if Washington can be persuaded to publicly declare the Golan Heights Israeli territory the sovereignty issue will be over. He believes he has found a way to do that, knowing oil and gas provide a route map to Washington decision makers’ bank accounts and influence. When he learned that the Golan Heights held massive quantities of oil and gas, he made an unknown American company, Genie Energy in New Jersey, a partner to sharing in those riches, giving it the rights to explore 135 square miles of the Golan Heights. It was, of course, no ordinary little company. Its board membership tells you how powerful it could be in ensuring Israel gets what it seeks while Genie gets the energy riches. The board includes Dick Cheney, Lord Jacob Rothschild, Rupert Murdoch, former CIA director James Woolsey, and Larry Summers, the treasury secretary under Barack Obama.

It must, therefore, have come as a shock to Israel when Russia suddenly announced that it was entering the Golan controversy. On Aug. 2, Russia dispatched its military police to patrol the Golan Heights where it meets the border with Syria. The tactic was designed to stop Israel exploiting Islamist activity in the area to continue bombing the Syrian military.

Russia said its military police would operate eight command posts under a UN mandate to monitor the Golan Heights.

UN forces withdrew from the border area in 2012 fearing they were vulnerable. The Russian military appears to have no such fear. In a move sure to anger Netanyahu, Russia said it would transfer control of the command posts to the Syrian military when tensions eased.

Richard Walker is the pen name of a former N.Y. news producer.




No Evidence of Chemical Attack

Evidence and eyewitness testimony presented to the International Criminal Court demonstrates the alleged chemical attack in Douma, Syria, blamed on al-Assad, never happened. Didn’t hear that on U.S. mainstream media? That’s why you’re reading American Free Press.

By John Friend

More evidence and eyewitness testimony has been presented regarding the alleged “chemical attack” purportedly carried out by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government in early April demonstrating that the entire narrative—concocted largely by the Syrian “White Helmets” and other forces hostile to the Syrian government—was and remains fake news designed to justify Western military intervention in the region.

In late April, eyewitnesses and survivors of the events that unfolded in Douma, a suburb of Damascus in the Eastern Ghouta region that has been the scene of a power struggle between armed terrorist groups attempting to overthrow Assad—many of which are backed by Western military and intelligence agencies—and the Syrian military, presented testimony at The Hague that undermined the narrative blindly disseminated by the Western media and political establishment.

“We were at the basement and we heard people shouting that we needed to go to a hospital,” Hassan Diab, an 11-year-old resident of Douma who was present during the purported “chemical attack,” explained to reporters at The Hague. “We went through a tunnel. At the hospital they started pouring cold water on me.”

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Douma and the entire Eastern Ghouta region are known for their extensive underground tunnel systems, which are used to transport goods, people, and weapons in the ongoing Syrian civil war. Following an extensive bombing campaign carried out by the Syrian military on rebel and terrorist-held areas in Douma, many local residents experienced respiratory problems including smoke inhalation. Syrian “White Helmets” insisted a chemical attack had taken place and began filming the residents who were seeking medical treatment at the hospital. The “White Helmets”—anti-Assad so-called medical aid workers backed by the West—began shouting that a chemical attack had taken place and began spraying residents at the hospital with water hoses, causing chaos and panic and implanting a false narrative that a chemical attack had indeed taken place.

“There were people unknown to us who were filming the emergency care. They were filming the chaos taking place inside, and were filming people being doused with water,” Ahmad Kashoi, an administrator at a medical emergency center in Douma that treated local residents, explained to reporters at The Hague. “The instruments they used to douse them with water were originally used to clean the floors actually. That happened for about an hour. We provided help to them and sent them home. No one has died. No one suffered from chemical exposure.”

The traumatic footage that emerged from Douma, captured and released exclusively by the “White Helmets” and other groups hostile to the Syrian regime, was presented uncritically by the Western press and blindly accepted by virtually the entire Western political establishment, including President Donald Trump’s administration, resulting in U.S.-led airstrikes on Syrian targets.

Halil al-Jaish and Muwaffak Nasrim, medical workers in Douma, also testified at The Hague, insisting that none of the patients they assisted showed any legitimate signs of exposure to chemical weapons. All of the patients, the medical workers explained, showed signs of respiratory problems, including smoke inhalation and dust asphyxiation, as a direct result of the Syrian military strikes in the area targeting rebel forces.

Russian Col. Gen. Sergey Rudskoy, the chief of the main operational directorate of the Russian General Staff, announced that the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons found no evidence that chemical weapons were stored or manufactured at the Barzeh research center in Damascus, which was targeted by airstrikes in the aftermath of the alleged “chemical attack” in Douma.

“Immediately after the attacks, many people who worked at these destroyed facilities and just bystanders without any protective equipment visited them,” Rudskoy explained. “None of them got poisoned with toxic agents.” Had chemical weapons actually been stored or manufactured at this research facility, those who worked there and lived in the area would surely have been exposed to toxic chemical agents.

Rudskoy also stated that the Syrian air defense systems, which were sold to the Syrian regime by the Russians, performed spectacularly, destroying 46 of the cruise missiles launched by the U.S., the UK, and France during the recent airstrikes.

Meanwhile, in recent testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Secretary of Defense James Mattis stated that the U.S. will expand its role in Syria, leading to conflicting policies espoused by the Trump administration. Trump has often indicated he wishes to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria, stating recently U.S. forces would be “coming home relatively soon,” but that America would leave a “strong and lasting footprint” in the embattled country.

“Right now we are not withdrawing,” Mattis told Congress. “We are continuing the fight. We are going to expand it and bring in more regional support. This is the biggest shift we’re making right now.”

John Friend is a freelance writer who lives in California.




Trump’s Foreign Policy Scorecard

While President Trump’s “strategy of tension,” as described by French President Emmanuel Macron, appears to be effective with North Korea, though calling it a strategy at all, says Phil Giraldi, is questionable given the administration dysfunction. On other fronts, including Iran, Syria and Afghanistan, Trump is failing miserably on his foreign policy scorecard.

By Philip Giraldi

As Donald Trump is currently embarking on a 90-day agenda that has major foreign policy implications for the Koreas and Iran in particular, it is perhaps a good time to reflect on what has been accomplished, or otherwise, in his first 15 months in office.

French President Emmanuel Macron, having recently completed a state visit to Washington, reportedly has described the Trump program as “a strategy of tension,” which seeks to make adversaries uncertain of what the next step by the United States will be in an effort to obtain concessions that might not otherwise be likely.

It might be argued that the “strategy of tension” has worked with regard to North Korea, which might be considering détente with Seoul as an alternative to an attack by the United States. And Trump might even be right when he declares that previous U.S. presidents failed in their duty to strike a deal with Pyongyang. North Korea has long sought an end to the Korean War, which is still in armistice status, but its “unacceptable” condition has been that it should include a pledge of non-aggression from Washington, which successive administrations have refused to agree to lest their hands be tied if the North were to again become aggressive. And it would be conditional on the U.S. withdrawing its forces from the peninsula, knowing that once they are gone they will never return, so some might regard the North Korean overtures as little more than a trick to force the United States to depart before resuming business as usual by the hardline communist state.

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Even giving Trump credit for positive developments in Korea, however, it is far from clear that it was part of some kind of strategy, as the White House team has been largely dysfunctional while the president’s grasp of the niceties of international interrelations appears to be minimal.

Iran is another clear case where “tension” is being applied to compel the Iranians to give up their ballistic missile developments to supplement their participation in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to downgrade their nuclear energy program. The decision on whether the United States will withdraw from the agreement will likely be made in the next 10 days [this article was originally published in last week’s AFP Issue 19 & 20, before Trump’s decision on Iran was announced–Ed.], and the signs coming out of White House meetings with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Macron are unfavorable regarding continued U.S. participation. Iran will likely dig in its heels, and there is a real possibility that it will consider a nuclear weapons program plus a functional delivery system to defend itself against the U.S. and nuclear armed Israel. There will be no coercion of Iran, which will actually fight hard using all its resources to resist an American effort at regime change.

And then there are Afghanistan and Syria. Afghanistan consists of doubling down on the mistakes made in that country since 2001, in the unfortunate belief that they can be corrected. Afghanistan will require some kind of settlement with the Taliban, which currently de facto controls more than half of the country, and which will have to become a partner in government like it or not. As the country is not a vital interest to the United States, extrication of U.S. forces after arranging for some kind of governing formula is the appropriate solution. Taking whatever steps are necessary to escape from a quagmire is acceptable.

Syria is Trump’s reversion to the same bad policies that resulted in Iraq, leading to the creation of ISIS among other consequences, not to mention a cost estimated to be $5 trillion. Syria, like Iraq, is a neocon exercise in delusion. Israel wanted Iraq to become a weakened state divided into ethnic and religious groups, a situation that still prevails in a country that is Shi’a dominated yet contains powerful Sunni and Kurdish regions that challenge the reinstatement of a national identity. Israel also wants the same for Syria, and the United States is complying by trying to create separate security zones that will not only include a large part of the country to the east along the Euphrates River and also to the north, but will also incorporate Syria’s oil production region, sharply diminishing the central government’s income. The formula will not work even though Israel and many in Washington are pushing hard for it.

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The fundamental problem is that the United States under Trump persists in believing, as did the former Clinton Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, that the U.S. is the “essential nation” that is able to “see far” and provide leadership for the rest of the world. This kind of thinking is bollocks, as the British are accustomed to saying. The United States foreign policy is driven by special interests, the most prominent of which is Israel and its supporters, in its attempt to remake the Middle East. Can anyone doubt at this point that the world, as well as the United States itself, would be far better off now if it had not invaded in Afghanistan and decided to stay there to fix it, if the U.S. had not invaded Iraq in 2003, and if the Bush and Obama administrations had not been driven by hubris to continue the process in Syria, a drama without any end in sight?

So on balance, Trump might actually deserve an “A” on North Korea, if it turns out that his form of intervention actually brought about some kind of resolution to a problem that has been festering for 65 years. But he deserves a “D” on Afghanistan, which is a classic case of democracy-building gone crazy and an “F” for both Syria and Iran, which are reflective of Israeli desires rather than actual American interests.

There is still time to fix what is going wrong, but it depends on an understanding of what “America first” should actually mean, which is that the demands of hegemonistic foreign clients should no longer guide U.S. policy. Israel should be told that if it wants to attack Iran it should go right ahead, but it should not expect the United States of America to be joining in the effort.

Philip Giraldi is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer and a columnist and television commentator. He is also the executive director of the Council for the National Interest. Other articles by Giraldi can be found on the website of the Unz Review.




U.S. Attack on Syria Illegal, Immoral

“Make no mistake,” says Phil Giraldi, “there are certain things that every American should know about the Syrian conflict.” First of all, it’s illegal and a war crime.

By Philip Giraldi

Here we go again. The lesson not learned from Afghanistan, or from Iraq, or from Libya will now be also not learned from Syria. This is the second time that President Donald Trump has used volleys of cruise missiles against a country that in no way threatens the United States or its interests. It also comes on top of Secretary of State designate Mike Pompeo positively boasting over the U.S. military having killed hundreds of Russians in Syria in what was clearly a trap designed to do just that.

Make no mistake; there are certain things that every American should know about the Syrian conflict. First of all, the United States and its allies, who are occupying nearly one-quarter of the country, though in a region that is generally sparsely populated, are in Syria illegally. Under international law, attacking and occupying a country that is not directly threatening you without any justifying United Nations Security Council resolution is illegal. It is also a war crime as defined by the Nuremberg trials that followed after the Second World War, which ruled that a war of aggression is the “ultimate war crime,” as it inevitably leads to many other crimes. So the United States is undeniably a war criminal.

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That the United States has not been brought to justice for its crimes is largely due to its political and military power, which few nations choose to challenge, but also because it is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and is able to veto resolutions criticizing it. There have been numerous motions condemning American behavior, but none of them have made it out of the Security Council. This is not a confirmation of U.S. innocence but rather a result of the politics that operate at the United Nations.

The United States is also in violation of international law because it remains in Syria without the permission of the recognized and legitimate Syrian government. Iranian forces and those of Russia are present on the invitation of Damascus. The United States is not. The United States has also been working to overthrow the legitimate Syrian government acting in collusion with groups of so-called rebels, some of whom are drawn from internationally recognized terrorist groups.

Concerning the assertion being made by the Trump administration that there is responsibility to intervene militarily in Syria to prevent attacks on civilians, there is no such obligation. No country has any right to intervene in the internal workings of any other country without a UN Security Council resolution. If there were such an obligation, the United Nations and the United States would have already intervened in Israel/Palestine, as Israel has been the subject of more resolutions than any other country, nearly all of which have been blocked by the use of the U.S. veto.

If there were actually what the Barack Obama administration used to refer to as a “responsibility to protect” or “R2P,” it would certainly apply to Israel’s current systematic murdering of unarmed demonstrators protesting its occupation of Palestine. Israeli snipers have shot more than 2,000 Gazans who were demonstrating on their own side of the border between Gaza and Israel, targeting in particular individuals who appeared to be leading the protests and also journalists. What Israel is doing to Gaza currently, as well as what it did in 2014, is orders of magnitude worse than what Syria is allegedly doing to rebels on its own territory.

The claim being made by the White House that Syria is a serial user of chemical weapons does not bear scrutiny in any event. Most of the evidence comes from hostile sources, meaning from the rebels themselves, who are not shy about staging atrocities and blaming them on the government in Damascus. Last year’s cruise missile assault on Shayrat Airbase was triggered by assertions that Syria had carried out a chemical weapons attack at Khan Sheikhoun, claims that were dubious at the time and have been challenged repeatedly. Recently, Secretary of Defense James Mattis admitted that there was no actual evidence that the Syrian government had carried out the attack. In the current case, in the Damascus suburb of Douma, the “evidence” for a gassing comes from rebel sources, who controlled the area at the time of the attack, and also from media sources sympathetic to their cause.

A team of investigators from the relatively impartial Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) arrived in Damascus on the day of the U.S. attack and were to be given access to the site of the alleged gassing by the Syrian government, which now controls the area, but they had not even begun their work. The U.S., Britain, and France attacked without even allowing the process to play out to determine who had done what, a presumption of guilt based on dubious or no evidence, which is in itself suspicious. It was as if they knew that they must act quickly while nearly everyone was accepting the questionable narrative that Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad had done it.

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And then there is motive. The Syrian government had no good reason to use chemical weapons on a pocket of rebels that was rapidly being reduced and was ready to fall. To use such weapons would guarantee international outrage and even military reprisals, such as occurred on Friday. The rebels, on the contrary, who are losing to the Syrian army, had every reason to fake an incident precisely to invite foreign intervention.

And finally, there are the practical and constitutional arguments, which start with an appreciation that previous U.S. interventions in Asia and Africa have all failed to make the United States and the American people any safer; quite the contrary. They have cost trillions of dollars better spent at home as well as thousands of American and millions of foreign lives. And the Syrian cruise missile attack staged last week is also unconstitutional. There was no imminent threat and, lacking that, the president has no authority to use lethal force to compel anyone to do anything. Per Article 1, Section 8, the Constitution requires a congressional authorization to go to war.

Bombing Syria is illegal, immoral, ineffective, and dishonest. It is time for the United States to pull out its troops and leave the Syrians alone. Americans killing Syrians just to stop Syrians from killing each other is a recipe for disaster.

Philip Giraldi is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer and a columnist and television commentator. He is also the executive director of the Council for the National Interest. Other articles by Giraldi can be found on the website of the Unz Review.




Poison Gas Attack Is Fake News False Flag

In the front page story of AFP’s Issue 17 & 18, just mailed, John Friend looks into the continuing fake news surrounding Syria. He reports doctors and eyewitnesses say the alleged “poison gas attack” in Douma—in response to which the U.S. fired 105 Tomahawk missiles on three Syrian targets—never happened. The real question: Who benefits from drawing the U.S. into yet another no-win war?

By John Friend

Testimony from Syrian civilians and one doctor, along with other reports on the ground, have cast doubt on claims by the West that the Syrian military used chemical weapons on its own people in early April. Despite this uncertainty, Western warmongers still used the allegation to justify launching missiles at alleged key military sites in the Middle Eastern country.

On April 8, major international media outlets reported that the Syrian government, led by the much maligned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, had launched a ruthless chemical attack the previous night on the city of Douma, a suburb just east of Damascus, the Syrian capital. The city largely had been controlled by radical Islamic rebels engaged in a brutal conflict with the Syrian government. Rebel groups affiliated with radical Islamic terrorist organizations, many of them funded and supported by Western intelligence agencies and governments, have been waging war against Assad for years in an attempt to overthrow the stable Syrian government, a key goal of the neocon warmongers holding sway in Washington and other major Western capitals.

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Rebel groups hostile to the Assad regime had controlled Douma and other towns east of Damascus, known collectively as Eastern Ghouta, using it as a base of operations since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war. The Syrian government, backed by Russia and Iran, was engaged in a months-long campaign to retake the territory and expel the rebels, establishing sovereignty and the rule of law in the area once again. The towns, under the control of rebel forces close to radical Islamic terrorist organizations, had been subjected to heavy bombardment by Syrian military forces, who were on the verge of recapturing the territory.

Then news broke of the alleged chemical attack, prompting a harsh response from President Donald Trump and other Western leaders, who were quick to demonize not only Assad, but also his government’s primary allies, Russia and Iran.

“Many dead, including women and children, in mindless chemical attack in Syria,” Trump tweeted in the early morning hours following the alleged chemical attack. “Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world. President Putin, Russia, and Iran are responsible for backing animal Assad.”

The Syrian government immediately insisted that the alleged chemical attack was a fabrication perpetrated by the Western media working in conjunction with local forces on the ground in Syria hostile to the Assad regime. Assad was interviewed by Sky News, a mainstream British news channel, and described the alleged chemical attack as a “100% fabrication.”

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Syria’s representative at the UN, Bashar Jaafari, described the situation in Douma as a “Hollywood scene,” before accusing Western governments and their allies in the Mideast of supporting terrorist groups operating in Syria attempting to overthrow al-Assad.

“Today we directly accuse Washington, Paris, London, Riyadh, Doha, Ankara of providing ISIS, al-Nusra Front, Jaish al-Islam, Faylaq al-Rahman and dozens of affiliated terrorist groups with toxic chemical substances to be used against Syrian civilians,” Jaafari told the UN Security Council shortly after the alleged attack was reported by Western media outlets. “We accuse them of starting those massacres, of fabricating evidence to falsely blame the Syrian government of toxic chemical substances to prepare the ground for an aggression against my country, just as the United States and the United Kingdom did in Iraq in 2003.”

The Russian government also questioned the alleged chemical weapons attack, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stating the attack was staged by foreign agents working in collaboration with terrorist groups in Syria supported by the West. During a press briefing shortly after the purported attack, Lavrov told reporters his government had “irrefutable evidence” the attack was a fabrication perpetrated by forces hostile to both the Syrian regime and the Russian government and was part of a broader “Russophobic campaign” led by one country in particular that he did not name. Russian Gen. Igor Konashenkov, a spokesman for the Russian defense ministry, specifically criticized the United Kingdom, stating, “We have . . . evidence that proves Britain was directly involved in organizing this provocation,” the BBC reported.

The Western press and virtually the entire Western political establishment insisted the alleged attack was carried out by the Syrian military, citing two extremely questionable organizations operating on the ground in Syria: the Syria Civil Defense, known more commonly as the “White Helmets,” and the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS). The White Helmets and SAMS have been operating on the ground in Syria for years and are openly hostile to the Syrian government.

In a joint press release on April 8, the White Helmets and SAMS alleged that there were more than 500 cases of local residents—almost all women and young children—experiencing “symptoms indicative of exposure to a chemical agent,” the press release stated. “Patients have shown signs of respiratory distress, central cyanosis, excessive oral foaming, corneal burns, and the emission of chlorine-like odor.”

Despite the allegations, little hard evidence was presented to demonstrate the Assad government in fact carried out a chemical weapons attack. Traumatic photographs and videos, which originated with the White Helmets and SAMS, were presented in the Western press as proof of a chemical weapons attack, but international investigators were prevented from verifying the details or investigating the scene.

Interviews with local residents cast doubt on the official narrative being disseminated by the Western press and major political figures. Dr. Assim Rahaibani, a doctor operating in Douma, and others explained that the picture painted by the Western media was a deliberate deception fabricated by the White Helmets and SAMS yet was parroted by the Western press in an effort to demonize Assad and justify a military strike.

“There was a lot of shelling [by government forces] and aircraft were always over Douma at night—but on this night, there was wind and huge dust clouds began to come into the basements and cellars where people lived,” Rahaibani explained, describing the night of the alleged attack. “People began to arrive here suffering from hypoxia, oxygen loss. Then someone at the door, a ‘White Helmet,’ shouted ‘Gas!’ and a panic began. People started throwing water over each other. Yes, the video was filmed here, it is genuine, but what you see are people suffering from hypoxia—not gas poisoning.”

Marwan Jaber, a Syrian medical student who was in Douma on the night of the alleged chemical weapons attack, told a similar story.

“Some of [the victims] suffered from asthma and pulmonary inflammation,” Jaber told reporters. “They received routine treatment, and some were even sent home. They showed no symptoms of a chemical attack. But some foreigners entered while we were in a state of chaos and sprinkled people with water, and some of them were even filming it.”

It has become more and more obvious that the purported chemical attack allegedly carried out by Assad’s regime was a deliberate deception perpetrated by the White Helmets, SAMS, and others operating in Syria with ties to Western intelligence, working in collaboration with the mainstream news media.

John Friend is a writer based in California.




Has the War Party Hooked Trump?

Following reports of an alleged gas attack on civilians in Syria, President Trump threatened Bashar Assad, via Twitter, with paying a “big price.” This in spite of just recently announcing the U.S. would be withdrawing troops from Syria. Is he bluffing? Or did he just further extend U.S. involvement in this foreign civil war.

By Patrick J. Buchanan

With his Sunday tweet that Bashar Assad, “Animal Assad,” ordered a gas attack on Syrian civilians, and Vladimir Putin was morally complicit in the atrocity, President Donald Trump just painted himself and us into a corner.

“Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria,” tweeted Trump, “President Putin, Russia, and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price . . . to pay.”

“Big price . . . to pay,” said the president.

Now, either Trump launches an attack that could drag us deeper into a seven-year civil war from which he promised to extricate us last week, or Trump is mocked as being a man of bluster and bluff.

For Trump Sunday accused Barack Obama of being a weakling for failing to strike Syria after an earlier chemical attack.

“If President Obama had crossed his stated Red Line In The Sand,” Trump tweeted, “the Syrian disaster would have ended long ago! Animal Assad would have been history!”

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Trump’s credibility is now on the line and he is being goaded by the war hawks to man up. Sunday, John McCain implied that Trump’s comments about leaving Syria “very soon” actually “emboldened” Assad:

“President Trump last week signaled to the world that the United States would prematurely withdraw from Syria. Bashar Assad and his Russian and Iranian backers have heard him, and emboldened by American inaction, Assad has reportedly launched another chemical attack against innocent men, women and children, this time in Douma.”

Pronouncing Assad a “war criminal,” Lindsey Graham said Sunday the entire Syrian air force should be destroyed.

So massive an attack would be an act of war against a nation that has not attacked us and does not threaten us. Hence, Congress, prior to such an attack, should pass a resolution authorizing a U.S. war on Syria.

And, as Congress does, it can debate our objectives in this new war, and how many men, casualties, and years will be required to defeat the coalition of Syria, Russia, Hezbollah, Iran, and the allied Shiite militias from the Near East.

On John Bolton’s first day as national security adviser, Trump is being pushed to embrace a policy of Cold War confrontation with Russia and a U.S. war with Syria. Yet candidate Trump campaigned against both.

The War Party that was repudiated in 2016 appears to be back in the saddle. But before he makes good on that threat of a “big price . . . to pay,” Trump should ask his advisers what comes after the attack on Syria.

Lest we forget, there was a reason Obama did not strike Syria for a previous gas attack. Americans rose up as one and said we do not want another Middle East war.

When John Kerry went to Capitol Hill for authorization, Congress, sensing the national mood, declined to support any such attack.

Trump’s strike, a year ago, with 59 cruise missiles, on the air base that allegedly launched a sarin gas attack, was supported only because Trump was new in office and the strike was not seen as the beginning of a longer and deeper involvement in a war Americans did not want to fight.

Does Trump believe that his political base is more up for a major U.S. war in Syria today than it was then?

The folks who cheered Trump a week ago when he said we were getting out of Syria, will they cheer him if he announces that we are going deeper in?

Before any U.S. attack, Trump should make sure there is more hard evidence that Assad launched this poison gas attack than there is that Russia launched that poison gas attack in Salisbury, England.

One month after that attack, which Prime Minister Theresa May ascribed to Russia and Foreign Minister Boris Johnson laid at the feet of Putin himself, questions have arisen:

If the nerve agent used, Novichok, was of a military variety so deadly it could kill any who came near, why is no one dead from it?

Both the target, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter Yulia are recovering.

If the deadly poison was, as reported, put on the doorknob of Skripal’s home, how did he and Yulia manage to go to a restaurant after being contaminated, with neither undergoing a seizure until later on a park bench?

If Russia did it, why are the British scientists at Porton Down now admitting that they have not yet determined the source of the poison?

Why would Putin, with the prestige of hosting the World Cup in June on the line, perpetrate an atrocity that might have killed hundreds and caused nations not only to pull out of the games, but to break diplomatic relations with Russia?

U.S. foreign policy elites claim Putin wanted Trump to win the 2016 election. But if Putin indeed wanted to deal with Trump, why abort all such prospects with a poison gas murder of a has-been KGB agent in Britain, America’s foremost ally?

The sole beneficiaries of the gas attacks in Salisbury and Syria appear to be the War Party.

Pat Buchanan is a writer, political commentator and presidential candidate. He is the author of Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Foreverand previous titles including The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority. Both are available from the AFP Online Store.

COPYRIGHT 2017 CREATORS.COM



Syrian Showdown: Trump vs. the Generals

Yet again, President Trump’s appointees are disagreeing with him, this time on his desire to bring U.S. troops back home from the Middle East. “It’s time,” he says. Centcom commander Gen. Joseph Votel and Defense Secretary James Mattis insist we must stay the course in Syria. Buchanan asks, “What gains have we reaped from 17 years of Middle East wars—from Afghanistan to Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Yemen—to justify all the bloodshed and the treasure lost?” Indeed.

By Patrick J. Buchanan

With ISIS on the run in Syria, President Trump this week declared that he intends to make good on his promise to bring the troops home.

“I want to get out. I want to bring our troops back home,” said the president. We’ve gotten “nothing out of the $7 trillion (spent) in the Middle East in the last 17 years. . . . So, it’s time.”

Not so fast, Mr. President.

For even as Trump was speaking he was being contradicted by his Centcom commander Gen. Joseph Votel. “A lot of good progress has been made” in Syria, Votel conceded, “but the hard part . . . is in front of us.”

Moreover, added Votel, when we defeat ISIS, we must stabilize Syria and see to its reconstruction.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had been even more specific:

“It is crucial to our national defense to maintain a military and diplomatic presence in Syria, to help bring an end to that conflict, as they chart a course to achieve a new political future.”

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But has not Syria’s “political future” already been charted?

Bashar Assad, backed by Iran and Russia, has won his seven-year civil war. He has retaken the rebel stronghold of Eastern Ghouta near Damascus. He now controls most of the country that we and the Kurds do not.

According to The Washington Post, Defense Secretary James Mattis is also not on board with Trump and “has repeatedly said . . . that U.S. troops would be staying in Syria for the foreseeable future to guarantee stability and political resolution to the civil war.”

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, who fears a “Shiite corridor” from Tehran to Baghdad, Damascus and Beirut, also opposes Trump. “If you take those (U.S.) troops out from east Syria,” the prince told Time, “you will lose that checkpoint. . . . American troops should stay (in Syria) at least for the mid-term, if not the long-term.”

Bibi Netanyahu also wants us to stay in Syria.

Wednesday, Trump acceded to his generals. He agreed to leave our troops in Syria until ISIS is finished. However, as the 2,000 U.S. troops there are not now engaging ISIS—many of our Kurd allies are going back north to defend border towns threatened by Turkey—this could take a while.

Yet a showdown is coming. And, stated starkly, the divide is this:

Trump sees al Qaeda and ISIS as the real enemy and is prepared to pull all U.S. forces out of Syria as soon as the caliphate is eradicated. And if Assad is in power then, backed by Russia and Iran, so be it.

Trump does not see an Assad-ruled Syria, which has existed since the Nixon presidency, as a great threat to the United States. He is unwilling to spill more American blood to overturn the outcome of a war that Syria, Iran, and Russia have already won. Nor is he prepared to foot the bill for the reconstruction of Syria, or for any long-term occupation of that quadrant of Syria that we and our allies now hold.

Once ISIS is defeated, Trump wants out of the war and out of Syria.

The Israelis, Saudis, and most of our foreign policy elite, however, vehemently disagree. They want the U.S. to hold onto that slice of Syria east of the Euphrates that we now occupy, and to use the leverage of our troops on Syrian soil to effect the removal of President Assad and the expulsion of the Iranians.

The War Party does not concede Syria is lost. It sees the real battle as dead ahead. It is eager to confront and, if need be, fight Syrians, Iranians and Shiite militias should they cross to the east bank of the Euphrates, as they did weeks ago, when U.S. artillery and air power slaughtered them in the hundreds, Russians included.

If U.S. troops do remain in Syria, the probability is high that Trump, like Presidents Bush and Obama before him, will be ensnared indefinitely in the Forever War of the Middle East.

President Erdogan of Turkey, who has seized Afrin from the Syrian Kurds, is threatening to move on Manbij, where Kurdish troops are backed by U.S. troops. If Erdogan does not back away from his threat, NATO allies could start shooting at one another.

As the 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria are both uninvited and unwelcome, a triumphant Assad is likely soon to demand that we remove them from his country.

Will we defy President Assad then, with the possibility U.S. planes and troops could be engaging Syrians, Russians, Iranians, and Shiite militias, in a country where we have no right to be?

Trump is being denounced as an isolationist. But what gains have we reaped from 17 years of Middle East wars—from Afghanistan to Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Yemen—to justify all the bloodshed and the treasure lost?

And how has our great rival China suffered from not having fought in any of these wars?

Pat Buchanan is a writer, political commentator and presidential candidate. He is the author of Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Foreverand previous titles including The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority. Both are available from the AFP Online Store.

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Is U.S. Being Sucked Into Syria’s War?

Israel conducted a massive attack on Syria after one of its fighter jets was shot down, an act not surprisingly blamed on Iran. But, asks Pat Buchanan, “Why would Iran, which, with Assad, Russia, and Hezbollah is among the victors in Syria’s six-year civil war, wish to reignite the bloodletting and bring Israeli and U.S. firepower in on the other side? Naturally, Israel expects the U.S. to jump to assist. Will President Trump respond as expected by our Middle Eastern “ally”? Buchanan suggests what’s needed now is “active diplomacy, not military action.” 
By Patrick J. Buchanan

Candidate Donald Trump may have promised to extricate us from Middle East wars, once ISIS and al Qaeda were routed, yet events and people seem to be conspiring to keep us endlessly enmeshed.

Friday night [Feb. 9], a drone, apparently modeled on a U.S. drone that fell into Iran’s hands, intruded briefly into Israeli airspace over the Golan Heights, and was shot down by an Apache helicopter.

Israel seized upon this to send F-16s to strike the airfield whence the drone originated. Returning home, an F-16 was hit and crashed, unleashing the most devastating Israeli attack in decades on Syria. Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu says a dozen Syrian and Iranian bases and antiaircraft positions were struck.

Monday’s headline on The Wall Street Journal op-ed page blared:

“The Iran-Israel War Flares Up: The fight is over a Qods Force presence on the Syria-Israeli border. How will the U.S. respond?”

Op-ed writers Tony Badran and Jonathan Schanzer, both from the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, closed thus:

“The Pentagon and State Department have already condemned Iran and thrown their support behind Israel. The question now is whether the Trump administration will go further. . . . Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (has) affirmed that the U.S. seeks not only to ensure its allies’ security but to deny Iran its ‘dreams of a northern arch’ from Tehran to Beirut. A good way to achieve both objectives would be back Israel’s response to Iran’s aggression—now and in the future.”

The FDD is an annex of the Israeli lobby and a charter member of the War Party.

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Chagai Tzuriel, who heads the Israeli Ministry of Intelligence, echoed the FDD: “If you (Americans) are committed to countering Iran in the region, then you must do so in Syria—first.”

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Iran has dismissed as “lies” and “ridiculous” the charge that it sent the drone into Israeli airspace.

If Tehran did, it would be an act of monumental stupidity. Not only did the drone bring devastating Israeli reprisals against Syria and embarrass Iran’s ally Russia, it brought attacks on Russian-provided and possibly Russian-manned air defenses.

Moreover, in recent months Iranian policy—suspending patrol boat harassment of U.S. warships—appears crafted to ease tensions and provide no new causes for Trump to abandon the nuclear deal Prime Minister Hassan Rouhani regards as his legacy.

Indeed, why would Iran, which, with Assad, Russia, and Hezbollah is among the victors in Syria’s six-year civil war, wish to reignite the bloodletting and bring Israeli and U.S. firepower in on the other side?

In Syria’s southeast, another incident a week ago may portend an indefinite U.S. stay in that broken and bleeding country.

To recapture oil fields lost in the war, forces backed by Assad crossed the Euphrates into territory taken from ISIS by the U.S. and our Kurd allies. The U.S. response was a barrage of air and artillery strikes that killed 100 soldiers.

What this signals is that, though ISIS has been all but evicted from Syria, the U.S. intends to retain that fourth of Syria as a bargaining chip in negotiations.

In the northwest, Turkey has sent its Syrian allies to attack Afrin and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened Manbij, 80 miles to the east, where U.S. troops commingle with the Kurd defenders and U.S. generals were visible last week.

Midweek, Erdogan exploded: “(The Americans) tell us, ‘Don’t come to Manbij.’ We will come to Manbij to hand over these territories to their rightful owners.”

The U.S. and Turkey, allies for six decades, with the largest armies in NATO, may soon be staring down each other’s gun barrels.

Has President Trump thought through where we are going with this deepening commitment in Syria, where we have only 2,000 troops and no allies but the Kurds, while on the other side is the Syrian army, Hezbollah, Russia, and Iran, and Shiite militias from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan?

Clearly, we have an obligation not to abandon the Kurds, who took most of the casualties in liberating eastern Syria from ISIS. And we have a strategic interest in not losing Turkey as an ally.

But this calls for active diplomacy, not military action.

And now that the rebels have been defeated and the civil war is almost over, what would be the cost, and what would be the prospects of fighting a new and wider war? What would victory look like?

Bibi and the FDD want to see U.S. power deployed alongside that of Israel, against Iran, Assad, and Hezbollah. But while Israel’s interests are clear, what would be the U.S. vital interest?

What outcome would justify another U.S. war in a region where all the previous wars in this century have left us bleeding, bankrupt, divided, and disillusioned?

When he was running, Donald Trump seemed to understand this.

Pat Buchanan is a writer, political commentator and presidential candidate. He is the author of a new book, Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever and previous titles including The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority. Both are available from the AFP Online Store.

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Deception Inside Deception: The Alleged Sarin Gas Attack

American Free Press has repeatedly questioned the allegations that the Syrian government and military used chemical weapon on their own people. Now, respected journalist Seymour Hersh confirms this with a new report detailing his extensive interviews with U.S. officials. The problem for Hersh, though is that his account seems odd when one considers the military-industrial complex’s efforts to oust Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. Could Hersh have fallen victim to a planned disinformation campaign?

By Paul Craig Roberts

Seymour Hersh, America’s most famous investigative reporter, has become persona non grata in the American Propaganda Ministry that poses as a news media but only serves to protect the U.S. government’s war lies. Among his many triumphs, Hersh exposed the American My Lai massacre in Vietnam and the Abu Ghraib torture prison run by the Americans in Iraq. Today his investigative reports have to be published in the London Review of Books or in the German media.

From Hersh’s latest investigative report, we learn that President Trump makes war decisions by watching staged propaganda on TV. The White Helmets, a propaganda organization for jihadists and the “Syrian opposition,” found a gullible reception from the Western media for photographs and videos of alleged victims of a Syrian Army sarin gas attack on civilians in Khan Sheikhoun. Trump saw the photos on TV and, despite being assured by U.S. intelligence that there was no Syrian sarin gas attack, ordered the U.S. military to strike a Syrian base with Tomahawk missiles. Under international law this strike was a war crime, and it was the first direct aggression against Syria by the U.S., which previously committed aggression via proxies called “the Syrian opposition.”

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Reporting on his sources, Hersh writes: “In a series of interviews, I learned of the total disconnect between the president and many of his military advisers and intelligence officials, as well as officers on the ground in the region who had an entirely different understanding of the nature of Syria’s attack on Khan Sheikhoun. I was provided with evidence of that disconnect, in the form of transcripts of real-time communications, immediately following the Syrian attack on April 4.”

The belief that sarin gas was involved in the attack comes from what appears to be a gas cloud. Hersh was informed by U.S. military experts that sarin is odorless and invisible and makes no cloud. What appears to have happened is that the explosion from the air attack on ISIS caused a series of secondary explosions that produced a toxic cloud formed by fertilizers and chlorine disinfectants that were stored in the building that was hit.

U.S. officials spoke with Hersh, because they are disturbed that Trump based a war decision on TV propaganda and refused to listen to the detailed counter-assessments of his intelligence and military services. A national security source told Hersh: “Everyone close to him knows his proclivity for acting precipitously when he does not know the facts. He doesn’t read anything and has no real historical knowledge. He wants verbal briefings and photographs. He’s a risk-taker. He can accept the consequences of a bad decision in the business world; he will just lose money. But in our world, lives will be lost and there will be long-term damage to our national security if he guesses wrong. He was told we did not have evidence of Syrian involvement and yet Trump says, ‘Do it.’ ”

Concerns about Trump’s purely emotional reaction to TV propaganda persist. Hersh reports that a senior national security adviser told him: “The Salafists and jihadists got everything they wanted out of their hyped-up Syrian nerve gas ploy” (the flare-up of tensions between Syria, Russia and America). The issue is, what if there’s another false-flag sarin attack credited to hated Syria? Trump has upped the ante and painted himself into a corner with his decision to bomb. And do not think these guys are not planning the next faked attack. Trump will have no choice but to bomb again, and harder. He’s incapable of saying he made a mistake.”

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As we know, the White House has already released a statement predicting that Assad is preparing another chemical attack, for which, the White House promises, he will “pay a heavy price.” Clearly, a false-flag attack is on the way.

By all means, read Hersh’s report. It reveals a president who makes precipitious decisions likely to cause a war with Russia.

I do not doubt Sy Hersh’s integrity. I accept that he has accurately reported what he was told by U.S. officials. My suspicions about this story do not have to do with Hersh. They have to do with what Hersh was told.

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Hersh’s report puts Trump in a very bad light, and it puts the military/security complex, which we know has been trying to destroy Trump, in a very good light. Moreover, the story strikes me as inconsistent with the subsequent attack on the Syrian fighter-bomber by the U.S. military. If the Tomahawk attack on the Syrian base was unjustified, what justified downing a Syrian war plane? Did Trump order this attack as well? If not, who did? Why?

If national security advisers gave Trump such excellent information about the alleged sarin gas attack, completely disproving any such attack, why was he given such bad advice about shooting down a Syrian war plane, or was it done outside of channels? The effect of the shootdown is to raise the chance of a confrontation with Russia, because Russia’s response apparently has been to declare a no-fly zone over the area of Russian and Syrian operations.

How do we know that what Hersh was told was true? What if Trump was encouraged to order the Tomahawk strike as a way of interjecting the U.S. directly into the conflict? Both the U.S. and Israel have powerful reasons for wanting to overthrow Assad. However, ISIS, sent to do the job, has been defeated by Russia and Syria. Unless Washington can somehow get directly involved, the war is over. 

The story Hersh was given also serves to damn Trump while absolving the intelligence services. Trump takes the hit for injecting the U.S. directly into the conflict.

Hersh’s story reads well, but it easily could be a false story planted on him. I am not saying that the story is false, but unless we learn more, it could be.

What we do know is that the story given to Hersh by national security officials is inconsistent with the June 26 White House announcement that the U.S. has “identified potential preparations for another chemical attack by the Assad regime.” The White House does not have the capability to conduct its own foreign intelligence gathering. The White House is informed by the national security and intelligence agencies.

In the story given to Hersh, these officials are emphatic that not only were chemical weapons removed from Syria, but also that Assad would not use them or be permitted by the Russians to use them even if he had them. Moreover, Hersh reports that he was told that Russia fully informed the U.S. of the Syrian attack on ISIS in advance. The weapon was a guided bomb that Russia had supplied to Syria. Therefore, it could not have been a chemical weapon.

As U.S. national security officials made it clear to Hersh that they do not believe Syria did or would use any chemical weapons, what is the source for the White House’s announcement that preparations for another chemical attack by the Assad regime have been identified?

Who lined up UN ambassador Nikki Haley and the UK Defense Minister Michael Fallon to be ready with statements in support of the White House announcement? Haley says: “Any further attacks done to the people of Syria will be blamed on Assad, but also on Russia and Iran who support him killing his own people.” Fallon says: “We will support” future U.S. action in response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

How clear does an orchestration have to be before people are capable of recognizing the orchestration?

The intelligence agencies put out the story via Hersh that there were no chemical attacks, so what attacks is Nikki Haley speaking about?

A reasonable conclusion is that Washington’s plan to use ISIS to overthrow Syria and then start on Iran was derailed by Russian and Syrian military success against ISIS. The U.S. then tried to partition Syria by occupying part of it, but were out-manuevered by the Russians and Syrians. This left direct U.S. involvement as the only alternative to defeat. This direct U.S. military involvement began with the U.S. attack on the Syrian military base and was followed by shooting down a Syrian war plane. The next stage will be a U.S.-staged false-flag chemical attack or alleged chemical attack, and this false flag, as has already been announced, will be the excuse for larger scale U.S. military action against Syria, which, unless the Russians abandon Syria, means conflict with Russia, Iran, and perhaps China.

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury under President Ronald Reagan and was associate editor and columnist at The Wall Street Journal. He has been a professor of economics in six universities, and is the author of numerous books available from the AmericanFreePress bookstore.




U.S. Picks a Fight in Syria

Not content to allow the Syrian war to wind down, the Pentagon and the CIA continue to escalate tension. Now, they’ve shot down a Syrian army jet bound for radical Islamic targets, which Russia declared an “act of war,” in the warmongers’ latest efforts to protect their creation, ISIS. 

By Matthew Raphael Johnson

The United States has shot down a Syrian army jet on a mission to hit radical Islamic targets near Raqqa. To say that the U.S. is waging war against ISIS would be willful dishonesty. In truth, ISIS was the creation of U.S. and Israeli intelligence.

Russia’s deputy foreign minister rightly called the shooting down of the jet not only an “act of war” but also “support for terrorists.” This is something the Russian government has known for some time. As Russia makes plans to dump the dollar and as the present depression continues to wrack the U.S., the elite are demanding war.

The Russian Foreign Ministry warned that any planes interfering with the war on ISIS will be “intercepted“ by the Russian Air Force. This is the escalation the American ruling class wanted.

“In areas where Russian aviation is conducting combat missions in the Syrian skies, any flying objects, including jets and unmanned aerial vehicles of the international coalition discovered west of the Euphrates River will be followed by Russian air and ground defenses as air targets,” the Russian Defense Ministry announced.

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There is a telephone line, a channel established between Russia and the U.S. in the case of any intensification of tension. Russia claims that this was not used prior to the incident. The U.S. denies this claim.

Ironically, the U.S. stated: “The Coalition’s mission is to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria. . . . The Coalition does not seek to fight the Syrian regime, Russia, or pro-regime forces partnered with them, but will not hesitate to defend Coalition or partner forces from any threat.”

No one can possibly believe this. The purpose of the attack was to defend ISIS, not defeat it. Whenever the Syrian Army liberates a town from ISIS, they find tons of Israeli and American weapons.

The U.S. military claims that the Syrian army plane was sent to attack the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a “moderate” group whose founding purpose was to make war on the Syrian government. Damascus claims the jet was headed toward an ISIS camp, one that the SDF was protecting.

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The SDF allegedly seeks a “stable, secular” Syria, which is precisely what Syria was prior to the creation of this present war. American sponsorship of this Kurdish group deeply alienates Turkey, showing the continued disaster of U.S. Mideast policy.

It’s worth mentioning that most prisoners of war taken in this conflict by Russian or Syrian forces are not Syrians.

The SDF admitted its use of the banned white phosphorus shells in its operations against Damascus. The Russian military states that the purpose of the SDF is to act as a buffer between ISIS and the Syrian government, hindering Russian and Syrian forces.

In a recent interview with Le Figaro, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated about the U.S.: “Presidents come and go, but policy remains the same. Do you know why that is? Because the bureaucracy has too much power. A president is elected with new ideas. Then men in dark suits come and visit him. They tell him what to do.” This is the foundation of this reckless attack on Syria. Other, non-elected, forces have control over foreign policy.

On May 20 of this year, presidential spokesman Brett McGurk stated, “There is no government in Syria and we will never cooperate with the Assad regime.” Since the U.S. considers Assad illegitimate, any violation of Syrian sovereignty is warranted; anything goes. This is in contradiction to the military’s position stated above, because factions backed by the CIA are fighting factions backed by the Pentagon. The SDF is the Pentagon’s creation, called “our troops” by U.S. generals, while al Qaeda’s various offshoots are backed by the CIA. The larger question as to why the U.S. has authority to back any side in this war is a question few in the halls of power are asking.

This is why “self-defense” is the justification for the attack on the Syrian jet. Since these troops are essentially proxies of the Pentagon, it is considered no differently than if the warplane were going to attack Fort Leavenworth.

Recently, the Assad government was winding down this war, which in its seventh year has claimed more than 450,000 lives. Dissatisfied, however, both the CIA and Pentagon poured more money into these factions, making sure they had the resources to keep the war going.

Matthew Raphael Johnson, Ph.D. is originally from Union County, N.J. He completed his Ph.D. at the University of Nebraska, writing his dissertation on Michael Oakeshott’s critique of modernity. His first job out of college was working with The Barnes Review. He is a former professor of history at Mt. St. Mary’s University in Emmetsville, Md. Matt resides in Franklin County, Pa., where he teaches and writes on Russian history and politics. Matt’s latest books Russian Populist: The Political Thought of Vladimir Putin and The Third Rome: Holy Russia, Tsarism and Orthodoxy are available from TBR Book Club. Send payment with request to TBR. 16000 Trade Zone Avenue, Unit 406, Upper Marlboro, MD 20774. Order online at www.BarnesReview.com or call 1-877-773-9077 toll free to charge.