DEBUNKED: Syrian rebels admit to AP reporter they mishandled the chemical weapons given by Saudi Arabia

3 Sep

EDIT (on 21/09/2013) : We recieved from Dale Gavlak the following statement:

Mint Press News incorrectly used my byline for an article it published on August 29, 2013 alleging chemical weapons usage by Syrian rebels referenced in your story. Despite my repeated requests, made directly and through legal counsel, they have not been willing to issue a retraction stating that I was not the author. Yahya Ababneh is the sole reporter and author of the Mint Press News piece. To date, Mint Press News has refused to act professionally or honestly in regards to disclosing the actual authorship and sources for this story.

I did not travel to Syria, have any discussions with Syrian rebels, or do any other reporting on which the article is based. The article is not based on my personal observations and should not be given credence based on my journalistic reputation. Also, it is false and misleading to attribute comments made in the story as if they were my own statements.

I would appreciate your removing all references to me from your story.

Dale Gavlak

We asked Dale to give us more information about the story behind this article and why MintPress used Gavlak’s name. Here is the article as it was firstly published on september 3 2013

The Case :

Rebels admit to AP reporter they used chemical weapon. These weapons where given to them by Saudi Intelligence Chief Bandar bin Sultan. Rebels did not knew how to use them and they mishandled them, this is what happened in Ghouta.
Here is the original MintPress article

The Lie :

First the obvious lie : Dale Gavlak is not AP correspondant. Gavlak has been on a few stories (here is the list : these are much less controversial) but in this case, Gavlak works for Mintpress, a young info website close to Occupy Wall Street movement.

Gavlak has, via twitter, tried to specified that the article was not an AP Story. But of course, it was the AP initials that interested conspirationists and pro-Assad websites : Infowars called AP and asked them if Dale Gavlak had worked for them. AP said yes and now Infowars can say it is confirmed Dale Gavlak works for AP.

Gavlak also works for the Time of Israel. Although it is not a crime, Gavlak is a « time of Israel » reporter as much as an AP reporter but somehow, that part of Gavlak’s CV does not appear on infowars or other conspirationists and anti-imperiaists websites.

The second obvious lie is the disclaimer in the very end of the article that reads :

Some information in this article could not be independently verified. Mint Press News will continue to provide further information and updates.

At the very least, this one should be the first paragraph of the article. It is also impossible in the article to know which information has not been verified and which one is confirmed.

Mintpress has, after a day of controversy over its article, added another disclaimer, in the beginning of the article:

Clarification: Dale Gavlak assisted in the research and writing process of this article, but was not on the ground in Syria. Reporter Yahya Ababneh, with whom the report was written in collaboration, was the correspondent on the ground in Ghouta who spoke directly with the rebels, their family members, victims of the chemical weapons attacks and local residents. Gavlak is a MintPress News Middle East correspondent who has been freelancing for the AP as a Amman, Jordan correspondent for nearly a decade. This report is not an Associated Press article; rather it is exclusive to MintPress News.

This second disclaimer makes the article weaker than the original version. The heart of the story (rebels claiming to mishandle chemical weapons) has not been brought by Gavlak (with the trusted AP credentials) but by Yahya Ababneh who was no one before this big scoop.

Weak testimonies and sources :

The info itself relies on a few very weak testimonies, here is the full list :

- Abu Abdel-Moneim, the father of a rebel fighting to unseat Assad, who lives in Ghouta.
- Ghouta townspeople said
- A female fighter named ‘K.’
- A well-known rebel leader in Ghouta named ‘J’
- More than a dozen rebels interviewed (who reported that their salaries came from the Saudi government.)
- Rebels interviewed

In the article, it is specified that interviews were conducted « with people in Damascus and Ghouta ». Please know you can not access Damascus without a visa from the regime. Someone claiming to have interviewed people from « Damascus and Ghouta » has a good chance to have been in contact with propaganda agents from the regime, probably going in Ghouta in a guided tour, « randomly » meeting « rebels » who would rush into journalists to explain how they are paid by Saudi and how they work for Al Quaeda. In any case, it is not specified how Yahya accessed Ghouta : from Damascus with a regime visa or from a rebel zone, hiding among them for several month ? The « interview with people in Damascus » hints toward the first solution.

Apart from the testimonies, the article relies on other articles to strengthen the idea of a Saudi involvement.

First, an article from business insiders written by Geoffrey Ingersoll. Please note that Ingersoll is a Operation Iraqi Freedom combat veteran and writes things like “The UK Was Totally Justified Detaining Greenwald’s Partner
Ingersoll article for its part relies on a daily telegraph article which relies entirely on an As Safir article (Lebanese 8 march – pro-Assad – newspaper). As Safir details a secret meeting between Putin and Bin Sultan (Saudi Intelligence Chief). On this occasion, Bin Sultan would have threaten Putin of Chechen terrorist attacks if Russia refuses to comply to Saudi demands on Syria.

As Safir is usually not a bad newspaper but here, they appear to be too good (here is the article): they are somehow able to get the exact quotes from a top secret meeting between Bandar Bin Sultan, chief of Saudi Intelligence and Russian President Wladimir Putin. The info in itself, Bandar Bin Sultan manipulating Chechen terrorists is surprising. It is the first time such a claim appears. More likely, and more well documented : the Russian secret services are infiltrating and manipulating Chechen terrorists since 30 years now.

Still, quoting Ingersoll, Gavlak puts in the article the exact quotes of a top secret meeting between the two most secretive person on the planet, obtained by a pro-Assad Lebanese newspaper and confirming a Saudi plot to manipulate Chechen terrorists in Russia…

The second piece Mintpress article is using is a WSJ piece about Bandar Bin Sultan (here is the WSJ article). The WSJ piece counts for almost 20% of the Mintpress article (1537 signs out of 7533) However, Dale Gavlak and Yahya forgot one quote from the WSJ article

The Saudi plan is to steadily strengthen carefully selected groups of rebel fighters not in the radical Islamist camp, with the goal of someday seeing them in control in Damascus

This quote is important because it completely destroys all the argument in mintpress article saying Saudi gave Chemical Weapons to Al Quaeda.

Already debunked :

For the rest of Dale Gavlak article, Brown Moses (who runs an extremely well documented blog about weapons used in Syria) already tried to debunk the info. He asks 4 experts to examine the claims made by mintpress. Here are the conclusions he found. To sum up :
Saudis (who does not have any known CW program) would not be stupid enough to get caught with chemical weapon trying to give them to rebels
If they were stupid enough to do it they would at least have trained the rebels properly to use them.
Even if all the above were true the scale of the attack is too large to have been carried out by rebels.

There is another hint in the article that leads toward a Syrian Mukhabarat propaganda. Syrian Mukhabarat are obsessed with prince Bandar Bin Sultan. In the end of March 2011, Syrian regime newspapers ran out a story about the « Bin Sultan plan to destabilise Syria and create Chaos inside the country ». The title itself is a bit too much but regime newpapers simply copy pasted the « plan » which looks so perfectly detailed that it becomes impossible to believe. (Here is the Bin Sultan plan)

In the Mintpress article, references to Bin Sultan are overwhelming. 15 times his name is mentioned. The case could be credible if it had stayed on a geopolitical level, simply saying « Saudi Arabia » as vague geopolitical enemy who plots against Syria. But the Bin Sultan obsession goes too far to be credible. One of the last sentence of the article is

Rebels interviewed said Prince Bandar is referred to as “al-Habib” or ‘the lover’ by al-Qaida militants fighting in Syria.

Gavlak is supposed to have been co-writer to the article. Gavlak is also deeply obsessed with Al Quaeda (here is an article from Gavlak where Al Quaeda is linked to everything that happens in the Middle-East). Anyone claiming to have the slightest knowledge of the middle east would know no Al Quaeda militant would ever refer to the chief of saudi intelligence as « Al Habib ».

Eventually, the article concludes on a weakness, quoting Peter Osborne from the Daily Telegraph.
Osborne argument relies on Del Ponte « conclusions » that the rebels were responsible for last may chemical attack. We debunked this story on a previous post and Gavlak AP should have done the very same.

The Truth :

The « info » went viral on conspirationists and pro-Assad websites and also on antiwar websites which are the reading target of mintpress.
Mintpress is a small website with a good focus on Middle East. After posting this article their website went down because of too much traffic.

DEBUNKED: the UN says syrian rebels are responsible for sarin gas attack

2 Sep

This post is the 2nd of our series where we will try to debunk lies and propaganda found on the Internet and the media in recent days. Many are coming from pro-Assad, extreme right and conspirationist networks and they found their ways into honest or naive anti-war activists. We are paying a severe price of Bush’s and Blair lies about Irak and pro-Assad propaganda is using that to infiltrate media and social networks with false rumors and half truth arguments. We will try to debunk them the best we can.

The case :

The UN says that the rebels are responsible for sarin gas attack.

The Lie :

No UN body or commission ever came to that conclusion. The propaganda is using an interview Carla del Ponte, member of the International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic (which is not the special UN body sent to investigate chemical attacks) made last may.

Del Ponte’s comments are used without date so as to induce that del Ponte is commenting last august chemical attack that happened in damascus suburbs, Ghouta. The idea is that no one is going to read the article (and check the date) but the title and the link will go viral under the title « UN says rebels are responsible for chemical attack ». In the end, it will lead people to believe rebels are responsible for Al Ghouta chemical attack that happened in august.

Anyone who reads the date or the article can see this allegation relies on the comments Del Ponte had last may.

Here is an article that went viral on social networks. It is serious article but it was usually posted without the date so if you do not follow the link and read the article you may end up thinking it is a recent news about al Ghouta chemical attack.

Here is another article written on august 27 but also entirely relying on the comments del Ponte had last may. Again if no one reads it, it appears as if del Ponte’s comments were made last week.

Eventually, for French readers, here is a op-ed from Nicolas Dupont-Aignan (who ran for presidential elections) who also relies on del Ponte’s comments. Dupont-Aignant is a moderate center right political leader

The conclusions of the UN investigators that were officialised last may by Carla del Ponte revealed that Syrian opposition did use chemical weapons on Khan al-Aassal.

The Truth :

Del Ponte made a personal comment during an interview to RSI on may 6 2013. (here the story on BBC)

She said “According to their report of last week, which I have seen, there are strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof of the use of sarin gas, from the way the victims were treated.”

Although she is a member of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic (which is not specifically investigating Chemical Weapons) her comments were not an official conclusion. The official reaction to Del Ponte comments from the commission can be found here

The statement reads :

Geneva, 6 May 2013 — The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic wishes to clarify that it has not reached conclusive findings as to the use of chemical weapons in Syria by any parties to the conflict. As a result, the Commission is not in a position to further comment on the allegations at this time.

The UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic did issue a report with its findings and conclusions. The report can be found here (in pdf) 

The official conclusion (supported by del Ponte) is :

« There are reasonable grounds to believe that chemical agents have been used as weapons. The precise agents, delivery systems or perpetrators could not be identified. »

The report also says, on the matter of chemical weapons, that

Conclusive findings – particularly in the absence of a large-scale attack – may be reached only after testing samples taken directly from victims or the site of the alleged attack. It is, therefore, of utmost importance that the Panel of Experts, led by Professor Sellström and assembled under the Secretary General’s Mechanism for Investigation of Alleged Use of Chemical and Biological Weapons, is granted full access to Syria.

This official recommendation, issued by the very commission where del Ponte is a member, was made on june 4 2013, two and a half month before Assad agrees to let Sellström into Syria.

DEBUNKED: John Kerry using a 2003 Iraq picture to promote intervention in Syria

1 Sep

This post will be the first of a new series where we will try to debunk lies and propaganda found on the Internet and the media in recent days. Many are coming from pro-Assad, extreme right and conspirationist networks and they found their ways into honest or naive anti-war activists. We are paying a severe price of Bush’s and Blair lies about Irak and pro-Assad propaganda is using that to infiltrate media and social networks with false rumors and half truth arguments. We wil try to debunk them the best we can.

The Case:

This picture went viral on social networks copy-pasted with the following text :

Marco di Lauro 2003 Iraq photograph

IMPORTANT TO KNOW !

So, Secretary of State John Kerry referenced this photograph when making his speech today, trying to drive home how awful the Syrian chemical attack was as he tried to convince us why we should go to war. One problem. The picture isn’t even from Syria. It’s from Iraq in 2003. The photographer, Marco di Lauro, said he nearly “fell off his chair” when he saw it was being used to promote a war in Syria. It’s getting pretty disturbing to see how far our politicians, both Republican and Democrat, are willing to go to drum up support for a war nobody wants.

The Lie :

John Kerry never mentioned this photograph or used it or showed it in his speech. Here are the transcripts of his speech. The only approaching comment could be this one :

We saw rows of dead lined up in burial shrouds, the white linen unstained by a single drop of blood. Instead of being tucked safely in their beds at home, we saw rows of children lying side by side, sprawled on a hospital floor, all of them dead from Assad’s gas and surrounded by parents and grandparents who had suffered the same fate.

This does not specifically refers to this photograph and could refer to any picture that has circulated on the social networks.

You can also watch the speech on Youtube and see he does not show the video.

The truth :

This picture was used by the BBC to illustrate a story about Al Houla massacre in 2012 with the title “Syria massacre in Houla condemned as outrage grows”. On this occasion, the Telegraph ran a story and interviewed Marco di Lauro who said he « nearly fell of his chair » when he saw his picture on the BBC website. Di Lauro comments were made in may 2012, about 16 month before John Kerry speech.

Here is the Telegraph article

The BBC acknowledged the mistake and apologised for it in May 2012, here is the Social Media Editor’s blogpost

The Grey Ideology: BBC Paul Danahar on Syria

10 May

Paul Danahar is a good journalist. He is the responsible for the BBC middle east bureau and the BBC is a very good media. He goes on the field, talk to people and check his facts. So why is that he produces some desperate meaningless pessimistic cliché about Syrian Crisis ?

Syria’s protracted conflict shows no sign of abating

The reason is one word : ideology.
The problem is that this word can mean plenty of things and it is also quite impossible to identify what ideology we re speaking about because this ideology never really had any name.

Orientalism (oh please, not again)

The closest we got is Edward Said’s Orientalism. Orientalism plays a great part but it is not the only one. Orientalism allows one to take a fact and make it a generality about the middle east.

This one is a good example :

All across the country, every day, there are brutal events, none of which in itself is big enough to warrant the attention of international or local media, but each of which breaks another strand of this country’s fragile weave of sects and religions.

Orientalism also helps one to loose absolutely every sense of history. Middle-East, Arabs, Islam, they all become unbreakable rocks, intellectual fortress impossible to conquer or to understand. It is there, always have been and it explains things. No history, no evolution, no dates, only a « thing » that has always been there and will ever be and that the « western » mind will never be able to grasp.

Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia hates Shia Iran, so it is using the war in Syria to try and weaken it.
The Saudi interest in the conflict dates back 1,300 years to the split within Islam. That is where its ambitions over the outcome of the civil war begin and end.

What is more likely ? That Paul Danahar does not know Saudi Arabia was not created 1300 years ago or that his orientalism let him think Sunni-Shia divide always has been and always will be the best possible explanation to understand the Arab mind?

Orientalism creates an Arab mind outside of the “western” mind that we can not understand so why bother? We just have to use the prepared set of orientalist clichés that can explain anything: sectarian war, religion, Islam, terrorism, bad treatment of women, geopolitical game about oil and “imperialism”, shia vs sunnis. It does not make any sense but it looks like it does and this is good enough.

To Danahar’s defence, making sense is not that easy against Orientalism and one has to break Orientalism before even starting to think of making sense. We can not get angry over Danahar for falling into Orientalism as it is a cultural hegemony and it is not Danahar’s job to break this particular monster.

The grey ideology

But there is another ideology that runs deeply in Danahar’s piece and this one is much more dangerous : it is the grey ideology. Danahar thinks that in Syria there is no black and white but « Things are grey » and that explains what’s what. And this is the kind of non sense you get with the grey ideology:

The situation in Syria is complicated. If you are not confused by what is going on there, then you do not understand it.

Get confused so you will understand…

The grey ideology is probably the most subversive we got in our days. It runs deeply in some journalists, not all of them but some. Danahar is not the only one but he pushes it so far that it is possible for us to analyse it (and this is why we chose Danahar’s work to analyse and comment)

Grey is (and can only be) a mix of black and white. There is no good, which helps the pessimists, but there is also no evil which drives the mind to loose sense of everything. Human mind has to understand things with this prism. You can go for Yin and Yang but Yin and Yang is not grey. Grey itself, the very perfect grey mixing the exact same amount of black and white, does not exist.

Human actions and reactions have a meaning. They are ethical and any human being has a sense of right and wrong, even Assad perfectly knows the difference so why is that Danahar’s reader is denied this basic right? Things are never grey because grey does not make any sense.

Arabs fighting Arabs, Shia versus Sunnis, massacres by « both sides », innocent children dying : saying that is not reporting, it is not journalism. Journalism has to make sense, journalism is telling people the facts and the “telling” is maybe even more important than the “facts”. In Danahr’s piece, there is no sense. No story, and, for that reason, no real facts. Who ? When ? Where ? All that disappears in vague and grey sentences.

The climax is reached with the use of the expression MWG or Men With Guns to describe what other calls the « rebels ».

Firstly, the FSA – that you have been hearing so much about – does not exist.
A better title would be MWG, or men with guns, because having guns and firing them in the same direction is the only thing that unites them.

The expression is so meaningless that Danahar can even reduce it to an acronym : three letters placed together we do not really know why.

And why would be a good question to ask and a good answer for Danahar’s journalism to find? Why do people unite to fire in the same direction? Is there no meaning here? Love, one say, is when two people look together in the same direction so what is MWG firing in the same direction? Is there no sense? No goal at all? Danahar is getting here exactly what is happening in Syria: people united in a common goal, firing in the same direction: this explains everything and it is one of the most accurate description of what a violent revolution is about. Still, Danahar chooses to render this explanation totally meaningless by using MWG.

When the meaning has been so completely obliterated, the only choice is to ask God for an answer :

When will the Syria crisis end? God knows.
God knows because this crisis is increasingly not about freedom but about religion.

Anyone sees where is the journalism here? please raise your hands.

And who is Danahar to oppose freedom and religion? If you are ready to go back to thousands years ago you can see Jesus destroyed the Roman empire with non-violence, Moses freed his people from slavery, Muhammad rebelled against Mekka aristocracy and his “rebellion” became a civilisation. And the very “sunni/shia” divide that seems so essential today began as a revolution against Ummayyad empire.

Freedom and religion can not be placed on the same level or opposed to one another. Freedom makes sense, religion does not.  It is freedom that can explain why people unite to fire in the same direction, religion can’t and I dare you to tell me you have to read the Kuran to understand Al Quaeda.

Totalitarian propaganda

Danahar is also confused on another thing and this is why he thinks Syrian “crisis” is very complex and why he wants us to understand that we can not understand Syria.

Danahar addresses the regime propaganda thinking in terms of “self fulfilling prophecy” and that “some of what the government says is true”. This is why he can get so confused and ends up thinking like this:

So I think we could have probably said in the beginning most of what the government said wasn’t true and most of what the opposition said was true. And now I think we have to say most of what the government says may not be true but some of it now probably is, and most of what the opposition said in the past was true, but some of it now probably isn’t.

Danahar interviewed by Bob Garfield: The evolving propaganda war in Syria

The key here is that Syrian “government” is a totalitarian regime and what he says is totalitarian propaganda. Here, to understand what totalitarian propaganda is, we have to read Hannah Arendt and we wish Danahar is going to read it again soon.

Totalitarian propaganda is not a simple lie and actually, it is not a lie at all: everything Assad says is true. Not just some, everything. Totalitarianism has the power to change reality according to what its propaganda says. When we listen to Assad’s speeches or read SANA news agency, it is simply wrong to try to see what is true and what is lie. What Assad says, what SANA reads is not reality as we know, it is the reality they plan to create. Arendt uses the image of a potential murderer to explain: it is absurd to ask a potential murderer if his next victim is dead or not. He just have to go there, kill his victim and bring you back the proof that his victim is dead.

Assad propaganda is the same thing. When he says he is fighting terrorism it means he is planning to create terrorism. When he says he is fighting salafis he is planning to release all salafis from his prisons. When he says the insurrection is Al Quaeda it means all the jihadis he helped sending in Iraq will cross back the border helped by the Mukhabarat. When he says this is Sunnis against Shias he plans to send Shia militias to massacre Sunni villages. And when he says he is protecting minorities he plans not sending militias in minority areas and will not fire a single shot against a demonstration in a Christian or Druze area. “Syria crisis could destabilise the whole region” = I am going to destabilise the whole region and shelling on Lebanese and Turkish border. “Syrian crisis is spreading to Lebanon” = I am going to blow up the chief of Lebanese intelligence in the middle of Beirut.

Everything Assad says is true. Read it like that and it become much less complicated to understand.

Very old standards

The second key thing is that, if the rebels are also fighting a propaganda war. And there is a big difference: rebels are not a totalitarian state and they do not have the power to change reality according to the propaganda. This means you can not apply the same rule or fact checking to “both sides”: one is going to always give you absolute proof, the other will not.

The problem that we’ve got is in the beginning, because we saw the conflict completely in black and white, good guy/bad guy terms. We’re having to do a bit of a hand brake turn and say, hang on, we, we tend to be a little bit more – sophisticated and maybe cynical when it comes to information that we get from people that are not people that we know. And we’re just reapplying the old standard we should have always applied on all the information we get out of Syria now.

Danahar interviewed by Bob Garfield: The evolving propaganda war in Syria

Go on and apply the “old standards” on the information you got from the rebels it will always be half lie at best. Then, apply the exact same old standards on the information you get from the regime it will always be complete and absolute truth, verified and with ground proofs.

The very idea of applying the “old standard” is completely wrong. Revolution will not be televised (sorry BBC, sorry Al Jazeera), Twitter, bloggers and Google and Youtube have learned how to bypass the old standard as for any totalitarian propaganda who knows exactly what to do and how to manipulate the “old standard”.

Reality in Syria is what you want to see. If you want to see a Revolution, there is a revolution, if you want to see terrorism, there is terrorism, if you want to see black and white there is black and white, if you want to see a big geopolitical game that supersedes human being then you got it. And if you want to see grey, then it will be grey. This is what revolution is about: shaping the reality according to a dream and this is why it opposes totalitarianism that is shaping reality according to propaganda.

In Syria, things are that simple. And this is where Paul Danahar is lost and thinks grey will help him. But grey is not journalism. Things are black or white and objectivity has to pick a side. This is not a European election campaign where you give 5 minutes to the left and five minutes to the right. Revolution will not let you in the grey because it will force you to think and to make sense. Now more than ever, the very job of journalism in Syria is to make sense of what is happening.

A couple of things that do not change in the Middle East

7 May

Because these last couple of days we heard a lot of big brilliant generalities about the Middle East, we wanted to add some of our own.

  • There is no « regional war »

Politicians and leaders in the Middle East are extremely brave in their speeches but really not in their actions. When there is a conflict or a tension or a war, everyone wants to take advantage of it but no one wants to be hit. So what happens is that : leaders and powers agree to fix their problems or tensions on a specific location. They will help this country to become the putrid point and will fill it with every shit they got so the problem don’t backfire. You can try them and spread two world wars in the Middle East, it will still hardly become regional.

Palestinian « problem » never spilled over the whole region. It was “fixed” in Jordan then in Lebanon. Lebanese civil war never spilled out to the whole region, rather the whole region spilled in the Lebanese civil war. Syria and Israel carefully fed the Lebanese civil war for a decade. Iran Islamic revolution never spilled out neither. It was carefully fixed on the Iran-Iraq border and also carefully nourished by everyone for eight years. When the US invaded Iraq, they were not met with Arabic hordes but rather by a civil war everyone around was happy to help. When Israel attacked Lebanon in 2006 to destroy Hezbollah, Iran or Syria (the indestructible and holly “shia axis”) barely blinked. Currently, all the « problems » of the Middle East are being fixed in Syria. Every neighboring country will fill Syria with its own shit and power game. But the key here is that Syria « crisis » will never become regional “crisis”. It is the regional crisis that wants to overthrow the revolution in Syria. Everyone will do whatever they can so Syria becomes a horrible nightmare for the next decade but this nightmare will stay located in Syria and killing only Syrians. Did you ever wonder why civil wars are called civil wars? Basically it is because they stay in one country. No one wants to fight a regional war but the whole region is dying to use Syria as a battlefield.

This rule is to help journalists dealing with the myth “Syrian crisis could extend to Lebanon”. It will not. What happens is that Lebanon shitty sectarian politics is extending to Syria. Syria “crisis” will not harm the “fragile sectarian balance” of Lebanon because this balance does not exist. What exists in Lebanon is the rule of the rich against the poor, the mafia against the people and never-dying nepotistic leaders hiding their interests behind sectarian rhetoric.
The number of Syrian refugees is a problem not because the country is small but because the society is deeply racist and eager to blame refugees or “foreign influence” for all problems. Crime is rising but this may be related to the lack of government and security (or any basic social service) in the country.

Truth is, when there is indeed a regional movement like the Arab Revolution, everyone agrees it has to be stopped, countered, killed, butchered, and divided into shia-sunni.

  • Israel leaders have no strategic thinking

Israel leaders have no strategic thinking and never really had any. At first, they were thinking that they were a foreign corpse in a hostile Arab region and, because Arabs only understand the stick, they would have to use the stick. So every time they are afraid, they hit an Arab something with a big stick, just so the other Arabs learn the lesson : Israel does not like to be afraid. After the time, the use of the stick extended. It was not when leaders were afraid anymore but also when they were lost, bothered, bored, running an election campaign or did not know what else to do.

Syria is Israel neighboring country. Syria experiences a revolution and a counter-revolution at a scale no one predicted. Israel leaders are incapable of picturing themselves with the very concept of freedom in an Arab country. All they can think of is Assad dictator (bad) or Islamic theocracy (worse) and they have no idea what to do. But they know they have to do something. If they do not hit an Arab agitation with a big stick, Israeli citizens are going to ask for their own right: housing, education, health and public services, complain about corruption. They may even ask for peace… If Israeli leaders stop feeding the people with existential threats and “right to security” they may face the horrible prospect of actually building a country. A dire prospect indeed. And this is why they hit. Why they draw red lines that where not there before, why they prepare for war and why they keep themselves and their people afraid.

What they think now is hard to tell for that reason. Do not be surprise if the next air strike happens to be against the rebellion so the stick has some sort of balance. When two kids are fighting you punish them both…

  • Assad does not retaliate against Israel

Assad (father or son) never has and Assad probably never will. He will do a lot of barking though. Information minister immediately said that Israeli attack “opens up to all possibilities”, including of course, the possibility of not doing anything at all.
Truth is, Assad is currently too busy with his ethnic cleansing to retaliate against an enemy he never dared to attack before. Assad does not care about Israel, he wants to wipe Syria out of the globe because he knows he is lost and he would not tolerate that Syria survives after him. Assad will massacre some children, call them terrorist and explain these terrorists are supported by Israel so here was the retaliation.

  • No matter how hard they tried, no one ever managed to create a sectarian state in the Middle East

And God knows they tried. They all got somehow convinced that harmonious sectarian zones had to be the best for the Middle East. So the French tried (and failed) to create an Alawi state. They also tried and failed to create a Druze state. They tried (and succeeded) in creating Lebanon, a Maronite state that later became the most multisectarian state in the middle east. That of course, after the inevitable civil war. British thought it would be a good idea to allow a Jewish state in Palestine. This is now called Israel and people there start to realise a “Jewish state” means apartheid with barbed-wires, nukes, and homophobic ultra-orthodox zealots demanding theocracy. And this is not to mention the Kurdistan, French and British always promised but were never able to deliver.

So the rule in the middle east is that no sectarian state has ever been or will ever be possible. But the other rule pertaining to the first one is that no matter how obvious is the predicted failure, analysts will always keep thinking harmonious sectarian zones are the best solution for the Middle East. When the US invaded Iraq they created three sectarian zones. It ended up in a bloody sectarian civil war. It was a proof that these people can’t live together and Middle East needs more harmonious sectarian zones.

Now analysts and commentators are pretty sure Assad is planning to (re)create an Alawi state on Syrian coast in case he looses his capital city. The recent massacre in Banyas indicates Assad is following this idea with a good head-start on the ethnic cleansing. Thank you all experts and analyst who helped fill Assad’s head with the idea that an Alawi state might work. What that proves is also that Assad is the rightful heir of colonialism.

Assad’s best quotes

3 Mar

President Bachar al Assad gave an interview to Sunday Times sunday 3rd march 2013. One can try to read the full transcript released on SANA website, the official Syrian news agency. We selected the best quotes so the genius of the man can appear in its fullness

You cannot make a plan that is based on dialogue with somebody who does not believe in dialogue.

A normal life

The other aspect of the dialogue is that it opens the door for militants to surrender their weapons and we have granted many amnesties to facilitate this. (…) some have surrendered their weapons and they live now their normal life.

If you want to talk about the opposition, there is another misconception in the West. They put all the entities even if they are not homogeneous in one basket – as if everything against the government is opposition.

This one is a bit hard to understand without the context of Assad’s policy. See, Assad has at his disposal some “opposition” who are ready to dialogue with him and to keep him in power. He also released djihadists from his prison so they can infiltrate the opposition together with Mukhabarat and Shabihas and make them look like genuine terrorists. This is how Assad can actually implies that everyone against the government are not opposition and every “opposition” is not necessarily against the government.

We can engage in dialogue with the opposition but we cannot engage in dialogue with terrorists

Opposition groups should be loyal and patriotic to Syria

It’s called democracy

The events of 11th of September were not committed by lethal aids. It was the application of non-lethal technology and training which caused the atrocities.

Clearly Assad is not aware that 9/11 was an elaborated plan created by the CIA to invade Iraq (although US invaded Afghanistan instead)

What is beyond hypocrisy is when you talk about freedom of expression and ban Syrian TV channels from the European broadcasting satellites;

Would they broadcast “Homeland”?

Beyond hypocrisy is when you talk about democracy and your closest allies are the worst autocratic regimes in the world that belong to the medieval centuries. This is hypocrisy!

(Or speaking about secular Syria when you are allied with Islamic Iran and Hizbullah party of God)

Having legitimate needs does not make your weapons legitimate.

Hopefully Assad is not going to say that in a meeting with Hizbullah leaders.

As with any other sovereign state, we will not negotiate with terrorists.

(Sarkozy may have said that… or was it Bruce Willis?)

Sunday Times: Critics say real and genuine negotiations may be the cause of your downfall and that of your government or regime, and that you know this, hence you offer practically impossible scenarios for dialogue and negotiations?

President Assad: Actually, I don’t know this, I know the opposite. To be logical and realistic, if this is the case, then these foes, adversaries or opponents should push for the dialogue because in their view it will bring my downfall.

One has to admit this one is pretty good. Some killers do have logic

Friendship:

We have friends and we discuss our issues with friends, we listen to their advice but at the end it is our decision as Syrians to think or to make what’s good for our country.

Only Syrian people can tell the President: stay or leave, come or go. I am just saying this clearly in order not to waste the time of others to know where to focus.

The problem with this government is that their shallow and immature rhetoric only highlight this tradition of bullying and hegemony. (…) This government is acting in a naïve, confused and unrealistic manner. If they want to play a role, they have to change this; they have to act in a more reasonable and responsible way, till then we do not expect from an arsonist to be a firefighter!

(Assad was here speaking about the British government)

Since day one in this crisis nearly two years ago, we have said we are ready for dialogue; nothing has changed. We have a very consistent position towards the dialogue.

Actually this is kind of true: Assad is calling for dialogue since 2001, looking for someone to dialogue with since that date

When you have a product that fails in the market, they withdraw the product, change the name, change the packing and they rerelease it again – but it is still faulty.

Assad is giving a lecture to 1st year business school students (or he is drafting a new constitution)

When you talk about thousands of victims, we see thousands of families who have lost loved ones and who unfortunately will grieve for many years to come. Nobody can feel this pain more than us.

We cannot talk about the numbers without their names. People who are killed have names.

And people who have names are killed (Mukhabarat laughing)

Milk Shake

President Assad: why did they die? Where and how were they killed? Who killed them? Armed gangs, terrorist groups, criminals, kidnappers, the army, who?

Sunday Times: It is a mix.

I’m not in the blame business

Terrorists are.

I have a constitutional responsibility to keep Syria and her people safe from terrorists and radical groups

Actually, he does not as no such thing appear in the 2012 Syrian constitution.

You have to worry about the Middle East because we are the last bastion of secularism in the region.

Lol

We were the first in the region to deal with such terrorists who have been assuming the mantle of Islam. We have consistently been warning of this, especially in the last decade during the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq. The West is only reacting to the situation not acting. We need to act by dealing with the ideology first. A war on terror without dealing with the ideology will lead you nowhere and will only make things worse.

Assad tried to warn but Bush would not listen

I am sure they know what I mean

Sunday Times: What is your message to Israel following its air strikes on Syria? Will you retaliate? How will you respond to any future attacks by Israel especially that Israel has said that we will do it again if it has to?

President Assad: Every time Syria did retaliate, but in its own way, not tit for tat. We retaliated in our own way and only the Israelis know what we mean.

Sunday Times: Can you expand?

President Assad: Yes. Retaliation does not mean missile for missile or bullet for bullet. Our own way does not have to be announced; only the Israelis will know what I mean.

Sunday Times: Can you tell us how?

President Assad: We do not announce that.

Maybe I know him

Sunday Times: I met a seven year old boy in Jordan.

President Assad: A Syrian boy? 

Sunday Times: A Syrian boy who had lost an arm and a leg to a missile strike in Herak. Five children in his family had been killed in that explosion. As a father, what can you say to that little boy? Why have so many innocent civilians died in air strikes, army shelling and sometimes, I quote, ‘Shabiha shootings?’

President Assad: What is his name?

Sunday Times: I have his name…I will bring it to you later.

As a father of young children, I know the meaning of having a child harmed by something very simple.

Assad clearely cares for his children, just like his father

Whenever you have conflicts, you have these painful stories that affect any society.

War is such a horrible thing

So instead of worrying about yourself and your family, you should be worried about every citizen and every family in your country. So it’s a mutual relationship.

It’s a relationship, it’s mutual… it’s a mutual relationship!

We have never, and will never, discuss our armaments with anyone. What the world should worry about is chemical materials reaching the hands of terrorists. Video material has already been broadcast showing toxic material being tried on animals with threats to the Syrian people that they will die in the same way. We have shared this material with other countries.

Israeli style

Sunday Times: I know you are not saying whether [the chemical weapons] are safe or not. There is concern if they are safe or no one can get to them.

President Assad: This is constructive ambiguity.

Political answering

Do not expect a politician to only say yes or no in the absolute meaning.

The man with a plan

We have a plan and whoever wants to deal with us, can deal with us through our plan. This is very clear in order not to waste time.

Decision making

In Syria, we took two decisions. The first is to make dialogue; the second is to fight terrorism.

Placing the Nation above the family

Sunday Times: How shaken you were you by the bomb that killed some of your most senior generals last summer, including your brother-in-law?

President Assad: You mentioned my brother-in-law but it is not a family affair. When high-ranking officials are being assassinated it is a national affair.

President Assad: There was the case of the British journalist who managed to escape.

Sunday Times: Alex Thompson?

President Assad: Yes. He was lead into a death trap by the terrorists in order to accuse the Syrian Army of his death.

Thanks Alex for the propaganda material. (Alex is already familiar with this blog as we analysed his story before: Alex Thomson claims he was trapped by Syrian rebels: an ideology that is named negationism)

That’s why it is important to enter countries legally, to have a visa. This was not the case for Marie Colvin. We don’t know why and it’s not clear.

Informed sources say she did not like the visa colour

The 10 step guide on how to convince yourself Syria is doomed

26 Feb

If, like myself, you are a die hard optimist, you believe in the Revolution, you think unknown and undefined freedom can only be better than a genocidal dictator, then you might be at awe with all the comments, beliefs, and analysis that state Syria, after Assad, is going to be worse. Here is a 10 step guide to help you convince yourself that Syria is doomed.

  • 1 – Revolution is a bad thing

At the very heart of the idea that “Syria is doomed”, there is a belief. It is a deep belief that Revolution is a bad thing for humanity. You will have to rewrite History accordingly, making all revolutions look bad. You do not have to go in depth into praising the old regimes for their achievement. That may come counter productive as you will appear as a supporter of the old regime. For instance, in Libya you could see hostility against the revolution divided in two separate trends:

- One insisted that Kadhafi was very kind to his people (Libyans had education, Oil was redistributed, he resisted bravely to imperialism, the great river project was something great etc.) This trend did not have that much success.

- The second trend insists that now Libya is a mess. Islamists are taking over, no central government, militias and bandits are ruling the country etc. This second trend is much more efficient as it will engage many more people.

So the idea is not to praise the old regime but to blame the revolution that put an end to it.
There is a long and furnished literature on how to blame the past revolutions, especially in French language. Because this country has a particular revolutionary past, anti-revolution forces had to develop a tradition of blaming the revolutions. This material will help you to pick another revolution in history and remind yourself how it always ends badly (always is the key word here). Here are some instance developed by the French tradition:

- 1789 French revolution ended up in decapitations, a period called “the terror” and the emergence of a new emperor that devastated Europe with his wars.

- May 68 revolution ended up in kids being abused and the end of authority of the masters in the schools. We can now admire the consequences such as the growing numbers of homosexual kids, growth of hip-hop music, joblessness, kids who can’t read, violent video-games and anti-racist movements that let Arabs invade our suburbs.

- 1917 Russian revolution ended up in communism that made 85 million dead.

  • 2 – Judge History

History does not judge. But thanks to gods, you can! In History, every event has a million or more different causes and creates a million or more different consequences. Hard to judge that. The trick is to make it simplistic enough so you can judge it. Try like that: every event is coming from one same cause and/or will lead to one same consequence. A bit lost? Here is how to apply the trick to the current Revolution in the Arab World.

The Arab Revolution is a historical event consequence of colonialism, of how independences were achieved in a cold war context, taking place in the beginning of the XXIst century in the midst of an economic crisis of globalised capitalism and communication revolution. It will have, (already has) huge and unthinkable consequences as it will see the emergence of new political forces in countries as different as Syria, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrein etc. Hard to judge that so here is how you can read it to make it judgable:

- Revolutions are a western plot from the US and Israel to create war in the middle east and this will end badly because war is always bad and US and Israel are evil.

- Revolution were started by young westernised people who liked Facebook but are now confiscated by islamists who will impose Sharia law because they are better organised and Sharia is what Muslim people want.

- “Arab spring” turned violent and now it is a war (here you can also found instances of how things usually turn into war in the middle east). War is bad.

- Muslims throughout history have always been divided between Shiites and Sunnis; What is happening is part of this war between Shiites and Sunnis and it will become worse.

  • 3 – Arabs are different

Arabs are different than the rest of us. If you are an Arab and you read this post, that means you speak English so you are “westernised” enough to be different from the other Arabs. Arabs do not feel like us, they do not understand politics like us, they do not want what a normal human being wants.

Machiavelli had us explained some of the basics of politics: power is divided between those who want to oppress and those who do not want to be oppressed. You can do anything to a man, he wont mind unless you go after his house and/or family. These are basics for all humans but not for Arabs. Arabs like to be oppressed. You can seize their home and torture their families, they will love you as long as you blame “the West” and Zionists. Arabs are Muslims so what they want is Islam.

As a consequence, if you remove the secular dictator from an Arab country, there will be an islamic theocracy, like in Iran. Iranians are not Arabs but they are Muslims too so that makes them the same. Kind of… Also 1979 may be a bit outdated (10 years before the end of the cold war, 20 years before 9/11, 30 years before the Revolution) but it still works because Arabs do not understand History.

  • 4 – Become a geopolitical expert

It is not that complicated to become an expert in geopolitics. Here is what you need to do:

- Do not take into account the existence of individuals, human beings or free will. Consider that all humans are part of a bigger entity and only act to strengthen this entity: all Shiites think alike and want what is good for a greater Shia force. All Sunnis think alike and want what is good for greater Sunni force. All people in “the west” will act accordingly to “the west” interest. Take a map, draw big stains on it in different colours and forget that you just denied free will and free opinions to the millions of people living under the stains you drew.

- Take the name of a country or a big entity and add an action verb next to it (Russia IS; Syria WANTS, Iran HAS, United States of America NEEDS TO, China DOES, Saudi Arabia THINKS…)

- Try to think these countries are individuals, always and only driven by primary instincts of survival, expansion, gathering of resources or self interest: Russia IS trying to recreate the old USSR empire; Iran HAS oil; USA NEEDS TO get oil; Saudi Arabia THINKS Shiites are a threat; China DOES have a huge economic growth; Syria WANTS TO survive between surrounding forces, Shiites WORK for the expansion of Iran influence, Sunnis WANT Saudi Arabia TO HELP them against Shiites etc.

- Now picture the middle east as a big chess game (or Risk) and play with the pieces: countries, minorities and big entities.

- You can also draw yourself a map. Maps play a big role in geopolitics, so do not hesitate. Use nice colours and little icons. If you have computer or coding skills use them! That will give you the right to call your map an “infographics” and this title is much appreciated.

geopolitical map middle east and legend

If you have to debate with another geopolitical expert, do not panic. You will use the “yes of course but there is also the issue of” trick. See, geopolitics can only have one reading at a time that supersedes others. For instance, if it is about oil, it is not about Shia influence. If it is about Russia against the US, it supersedes Iran against Israel. This means that, in a geopolitical debate, you can always find a new issue that supersedes the one your opponent had chosen to explain everything. Remember to always agree with your opponent first as geopolitics is not a science and, therefore, can never be wrong. Here is how to do it:

1st geopolitician: US needs the oil in the middle east, this is the reason why they are allied with Saudi Arabia and invaded Iraq.

2nd geopolitician: of course, oil is the basic of US economy but one has not to forget the growing influence of Iran through Shiites. This influence is of great danger to Israel and Israel is prime US Ally in the middle east.

1st geopolitician: this is very true and one has also to keep in mind the nuclear issue. Iran wants to become nuclear and this is a great danger to Israel as well.

2nd geopolitician: Precisely! Nuclear Iran could pass nuclear bombs through the Shia crescent (Iran + Iraq + Syria + Hezbollah) and this would threaten directly the west interests.

1st geopolitician: Indeed! This is why the west will certainly try to ally with the new Sunni islamist government that took power after the Arab spring with the help of the west. In Syria, the west is helping Sunni rebellion, in Libya NATO overthrow Kadhafi and helped put Sharia, in Egypt they pushed Moubarak out: this means the west seeks to secure its interests by helping Sunni islamist to take over and ally themselves to these movements through Saudi Arabia which is allied to the west as well.

2nd geopolitician: surely but one has to distinguish between Sunni Salafi djihadis and Sunni Wahabbis, their interest may antagonise at some point in the future.

1st geopolitician: but the same distinction applies with Shiites. The Alawis that currently rule Syria are an offshoot sect of Shia that was long discriminated by sunnis. This is why they established a secular Baath party to stabilise Syria.

2nd Geopolitician: yes but one must not forget that Christians also helped to create the Baath party. Also in Iraq, Saddam Hussein was from the same village than Saladin, who was Kurdish…

If you are willing to write a geopolitical analysis, use the same trick as if you were debating with yourself. Add enough layers (Kurds, oil, Iran, nuclear, Israel, “the West”, islamists, al Quaeda etc.) so your analysis looks very complicated but examine each layer as if it was the one idea that could explain everything.

Becoming a geopolitics expert comes with huge advantages. You will experience this nice feeling of knowing how the world turns. You will also be able to initiate others and to gather disciples as you reveal to them the secrets that rule the world. People will look at you asking for your answers to their questions and this will give you a feeling of power and domination. Geopolitics is about great powers and entities struggling against each other so war is always the conclusion. You will thus predict that war is going to happen. If it is already happening you will predict that war is going to be worse. This gives you an enviable social position similar to those predicting apocalypse in the ancient times. Also you will always be right as it will be easy to find a war in the middle east that you can read according to your analysis.
Of course, once you are a geopolitical expert, there is no chance for you to believe that Arab Revolution can bring anything else than war, destruction and further struggle between great powers.

  • 5 – Arabs are all the same and have always been

This very fact allows you to use an Arab country to predict the sad developments of another Arab country. Syria, for instance, is going to be like Iraq or Lebanon where bloody civil wars ravaged the country for years. Now this may be hard as, of course, Iraq is not Syria and 2003 is not 2012 or 1975 Lebanon.

In Iraq, for instance, George Bush and neoconservatives invaded the country, divided it into three sectarian zones, dismantled the state and occupied the country for nearly 10 years. In Lebanon, Syria and Israel invaded the country and played proxy war through militias for 10 years. This, of course, has nothing comparable with Syria’s 2013 context. So the trick is to erase any context or history from the comparison by only mentioning the name of the country: “it is going to be like Iraq; it is going to be like Libya, it is going to be like Lebanon”. The key is to rely on what we saw on TV about these countries. Years of TV images of war and destruction happening every day have shaped the mind so when you say “Iraq” or “Lebanon” it triggers these images of Arabs killing themselves out of context.
The finest of all is reached when you used these countries as adjectives: Lebanisation, iraquisation, afghanisation (they are muslims too)… This will help you to see a never ending civil war looming in Syria.

  • 6 – Do not forget the sectarian thing

In the Middle-East, especially in Syria, there is plenty of different sects and minorities. Druze, Alawis, Shias, Sunnis, Christians, Armenians, Orthodox, Kurds.

The Assads, father and sons, were great at playing these against one another. They were Alawis but that sect became part of Shia after Hafez al Assad have asked Imam Musa Sadr a special fatwa on the subject. It now gives them in the media the title “offshoot of Shia sect”. They are ruling with the secular baath party but allied with Iran Theocracy and Hizbullah, the party of god. They were the centre of the Shia axis but helped and hosted the Hamas Sunni movement and sent Sunni djihadis in Iraq against the US. They were fighting Muslim Brotherhood and preventing Sunnis to establish theocracy in Syria but allied with Turkey and its moderate Sunni islamist AKP party. They were fighting Israel with words but refrained from any retaliation when Israel bombed a Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007, killed unarmed Palestinians at the border in 2011 or destroyed a military facility in 2013.

Now if Assad is removed, it is only logical that things will degenerate and sectarian civil war will happen. Sunnis think like Sunnis and they will want to establish a Sunni country in Syria. Alawis think like Alawis, a long time oppressed minority that will try to keep Assad in power because he is an Alawi too. Druze and Christians will be caught in the middle and will have to fight back. Kurds will try to establish a Kurdistan, a thing Turkey will not let happen. Iran and Hezbollah will have to back Assad cause he is an Alawi and Alawis are Shiites. Saudi Arabia will back the Sunnis because they are Sunnis too…
Seeing Syria through sectarian eyes will help you see the logical sectarian civil war.

  • 7 – It is all about islamists

Now Muslims like Islam. Islamists want to bring more Islam. So Muslims are going to vote for islamists. Since the last 10 years and thanks to George W Bush “war on terror”, islamists have been the biggest threat against “the west” since… well since communism! A huge industry of private and public intelligence is dedicated to the islamist threat. Hundreds of thousands of intelligence agencies, think tanks, scholars, analysts, political advisers, specialised revues have, during the last 12 years, dedicated all their time and money to study, analyse, predict, assess or understand the islamist threat. Networks have been established, methodology has been developed, brains have been trained, money has been allowed, decisions (hard decisions like backing “secular dictators”) have been made and ears of the decision makers have been used to listen a certain music. Now what do you think this industry is going to produce when it focuses on Syria?

If you are fool enough to not speak about “the rise of the djihadi threat in Syria” you will be laughed at, no one will listen to you, you’ll get no funding, you will deny yourself access to 90% of any material produced about the middle-east during the last 10 years, and you will be crushed by any expert working in the islamist terror threat industry. Kind of stupid right? So let’s think and write about how the islamist djihadi thing is growing in Syria and how it has to be the main point of everything that is happening and will happen.

  • 8 – Switch for anti-imperialist… but not pro-regime!

If you have no opinion about Syria, you can choose to be pro-regime.

Syria is a secular country resisting to imperialist invasion launched by Zionist US backing Saudi Arabia and Qatar throwing wave of terrorists against the regime because they are zionist Sunni western bastards who want to destroy independent anti-imperialist anti-zionist secular Shia Syria. There is purposely no comma in the sentence you just read so you can chose to put some where you want to make sense of it. Sadly enough, the proud anti-imperialist regime is kind of shaking right now.

So becoming pro-regime is tricky: if you are too much into that kind of propaganda, you may read things like “Syria is resisting the imperialist plot; Syrian army cleared 2967 terrorist zones today, terrorists are loosing control, Assad launches new reform program that will solve everything etc.” If Assad saves Syria from terrorism, Syria is no longer doomed right? On the other hand, if you assume that secular anti-imperialist regime that protected minorities in Syria is about to end, you may be at awe with your pro-regime beliefs. The solution is to be anti-imperialist without being too much pro-regime. This will help you to see how bad is the US-Zionist plot and read on the internet about the horrible destruction and death the “imperialists” are causing, while avoiding the pro-regime material that says Assad is winning and Syria will become “stable” again soon. Syria is doomed, the US zionist plot will destabilise the region forever before starting a nuclear war against Iran for oil.

  • 9 – Be neutral and objective

It is quite simple to be objective about Syria, you just have to be neutral. Neutrality will lead to objectivity, it is a mathematical equation.

So take the “opposition” and give them five minutes to talk and state their point of view. Then take some pro-regime and give same the exact same amount of minutes to talk and state their point of view. The image you will get from that is objectivity.

As a collateral damage you will also get from that the impression that “Regime” and “Opposition” are two equal forces with both their reasons to fight each other. Because you are neutral, these reasons will appear to you completely irrelevant. Simply they just want to kill each other and they have to because they are two opposing forces.

Because you have to maintain strict neutrality, you will never be able to see a side better than the other. You will have to equate the war crimes, equate the military gain and losses, equate the amount of time given to one propaganda or the other. In the end, you will have the picture of two perfectly equal sides unable to win over the other: the very perfect everlasting middle east war you always dreamed about!

In war (and in history) usually, both sides are not equals and eventually you get a winner and a looser and war ends. There is an oppressor and an oppressed, a killer and a victim, one that make a genocide and one that is the victim of this genocide, one who attacks and one who defends, a conqueror against one who fights for his freedom, a master and a slave… It can be sometimes hard to recognise who is who so neutrality is the best solution. Ultimately you will have to mix black and white enough to achieve the perfect grey. To do that you may choose to make the oppressor look nicer but you risk falling into becoming pro-regime (beware number 8).

The other method is to make both sides look really bad. This is the best method as you can paint everything in black without caring too much for the perfect grey. Grey may be depressive but all in black is always better. So the Assad regime is really bad, it kills, genocides, tortures and commits mass massacres etc. but the “opposition” is also bad, commits massacres, kills, tortures. So both sides are equals (objectivity is maintained) and they are both equally horrible. This method is also perfect because you will have to insist on the human rights violations committed by the “rebels”. Depicting revolutionaries as a bunch of incapable militias plundering innocents civilians caught in the middle is also very interesting.

While engaging into this, you will launch a crusade against “Arab spring optimists” or “idealists”: any people who does not think Syria is doomed. There are not so many of them left but you can invent them with sentences like “everyone was very enthusiastic about the Arab spring at the beginning but now we clearly see that things are not turning well”. The sad and depressive future you insist on depicting is thus directly fighting optimism, your worst enemy. Even better, it is “realistic” because it will oppose to people you will name “idealists”. It will help shape your mind in thinking that your sad view is real, because you call it realistic and any positive view is idealist (thus unreal).

  • 10 – Abolishing time

What is happening now happened before and will happen again. It will end badly as it ended badly before and will end badly tomorrow. People should be happy with what they have, trying to reach imaginary goal or “freedom” is unrealistic. And you have to be realistic because we live in the reality and the reality is realistic. You know what you had yesterday, but you do not know what tomorrow will be made of. Syria was not such a bad place, they had food, electricity, water and they wont have it tomorrow because they are changing things today. Things were good in the past, at least not so bad. Because it was the past we knew what it looked like. But we do not know the future so it can only be worse. There is a chance things will not be worse but this is a very very small chance, ridiculous…

The key thing here is to predict future will be worse than the past. Or future will be as worse as the past was. Do not, in no case, allow dates or precise events into your mind. Future is future, present is what is happening, past is what happened. Never say for instance: “November 1st 1954 in Algeria…” say “Algeria war”. Do not distinguish between 1905 Russian revolution, February 1917 and October 1917 Russian revolutions, Lenin, Stalin, Krushtchov etc. Say: “Russian revolution that brought communism in Russia”.

Now applied to the middle-east, this trick is of huge benefits. You can in one sentence connect old Umayyad califate with today’s Syria. You can explain behaviors of Arabs today by instances that go back as far as Muhammad’s times! You can erase whole centuries, making colonisation vanish from memories, predict future of civil war in Syria for three or four generation without thinking that two years ago you were sure Assad would last for ever.

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