American Herald Tribune | 25 Jan 2016
As is often the case, you have to read between the lines to parse the truth about Syria –or indeed many other issues –as reported in the Western mainstream media. With a discerning eye the truth can be found. But that’s why it is played down, sanitized, half-told or frosted with banality. Because the truth is pretty shocking.
This week, UN-backed political talks were scheduled to begin in the Swiss city of Geneva between the Assad government and various so-called opposition groups. The talks did not take place as planned on Monday, January 25, and it is unclear if they will even go-ahead this week.
The stumbling block is finding agreement on which opposition groups are to be admitted to the negotiations. The Western news media won’t spell it out. But the main problem resides with the United States and Saudi Arabia both insisting that two militant groups should be part of the opposition to the Syrian government. Those groups are Jaish al-Islam (Army of Islam) and Ahrar al-Shams (Nation of Syria).
Both are connected logistically and ideologically with Al Qaeda terror groups, including the so-called Islamic State. They are bankrolled by the like-minded Wahhabi regime in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab dictatorships, and supplied with weapons and training by the American CIA.
The delay in the Geneva talks getting underway is because the Syrian government and its foreign ally, Russia, stipulate that neither Jaish al-Islam nor Ahrar al-Islam are allowed at the negotiating table. Because they are terrorist organizations.
That’s an objective definition for these groups. Their Wahhabi ideology has “justified”brutal violations of Syria’s civilian population, whether Muslim, Christian or Druze, simply on the basis of being labelled as “infidels”. Beheadings, crucifixions, kidnappings, rape are standard means of terror for the militants that Washington and its Saudi ally want at the negotiating table.
The purpose for their inclusion is to expedite Washington’s agenda of regime change in Syria, and has nothing to do with finding a genuinely peaceful settlement.
Jaish al-Islam is linked to the East Ghouta chemical weapons atrocity carried out in August 2013, in which several hundred civilians were killed in a district outside the Syrian capital Damascus. The atrocity was wrongly blamed on the Syrian army and nearly served as a pretext for American military intervention in the Syria conflict. But it was a false flag event aimed at prompting US intervention.
East Ghouta remains under control of Jaish al-Islam although it is undergoing evacuation in a siege-breaking deal with government forces, as are several other locations under the control of militants. On December 25, a Russian air strike on East Ghouta killed the militants’commander –Zahran Alloush.
Alloush had previously called for the “extermination”of those whom he considered infidels. He personally carried out executions during the Adra massacre in December 2013 against Alawites and Druze.
On December 29, four days after the Russian air strike on East Ghouta, the Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir publicly criticized Russia for the assassination of terror commander Alloush.
The other group mentioned above, Ahrar al-Shams, has an equally repugnant track record of violations. It is currently involved in holding the northern Syrian towns of Foua and Kefraya under siege in a reign of terror, where the civilian population are kept as human shields to prevent the Syrian army from liberating the locations.
Steffan de Mistura, the UN envoy to Syria who is convening the talks process, last week briefed the Security Council on why the negotiations were being delayed. The envoy said it was the Saudis who were trying to sabotage the process by insisting on which groups would comprise the opposition. Drawing up negotiating parties is De Mistura’s official mandate, but the Saudis are undermining him, according to a report in Foreign Policy.
None of the Western media outlets will tell you any of this in plain language. For instance, Voice of America reported on the talks impasse thus: “There is widespread disagreement over which opposition groups should take part in the UN talks, and officials say the meetings [this] week cannot proceed until there is a mutually acceptable list of which anti-Assad factions will take part.”
Note how VOA is careful to not specify who the problematic “opposition groups”are and who their backers are. Meaning is sterilized, as in all Western mainstream media outlets.
What the media should be saying is that the political talks on Syria are being held to ransom by the insistence of including terrorist groups in the negotiations. And the people insisting on the terror groups partaking are Washington and its regional Arab allies.
That truth is far too grim to admit to public knowledge and discussion. For such truth would indict Washington as a terror sponsor, answerable to international law. And so the Western media fulfill their assigned function –of concealing damning truth and keeping the public oblivious. That makes them equally complicit in the criminality of their government.
Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. For over 20 years, he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organisations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent.