Saturday, 1 October 2016

Request for Senate Inquiry into Syrian War Coverage on the Australian Public Broadcaster - A Letter


Dear Senator Xenophon,

There is something seriously wrong with our media (the ABC) when it comes to coverage of conflict which involves the USA. So serious is the misreporting that I ask you to hold a senate inquiry into the public broadcaster on this matter.

Public money has been spent on what are essentially propagandised accounts of the fighting in the Middle East, namely in Syria, and elsewhere. Heavily biased reporting, actual misrepresentation of fact, is a direct violation of the ABC's Code of Practice.

I write to you because repeated emails I've sent to the ABC, with corrections to the record, seem to have fallen on deaf ears and I no longer receive any replies. People are being killed and conflicts sustained thanks to our participation in pushing war facilitating propaganda.

In specific reference to Syria and the current Battle of Aleppo, the media frames what is happening as a fight between 'rebels' and 'activists' against a brutal regime intent on indiscriminately killing civilians and bombing hospitals. This characterisation is demonstrably false - which begs the question; how can professional journalists get this so wrong?

For starters, if one consults the Wikipedia page on the Battle of Aleppo, a source not prone to pushing 'conspiratorial narratives', you can see that the main opposition belligerents are listed as The Free Syrian Army (FSA) followed by extremist jihadi groups all of which fire into Government occupied areas killing civilians and soldiers alike. The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) is fighting these groups.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Aleppo_(2012%E2%80%93present)#Combatants

Moreover, the FSA is actively co-operating with fundamentalist forces and is itself non-secular. It is also no longer a leading fighting group, but more accurately a conduit for arms into the war zone (see the recent interview featuring the Al Nusra commander later in this letter, and the Robert Fisk interviews toward the end). Wikipedia also supports the contention that the FSA is not a leading fighting group: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_Syrian_Army

The big problem with the mainstream media (including the ABC) is that it obfuscates what is really happening on the ground.

When independent journalists and Western peace activists visit the war zone they report that the Syrian Government is in a fight against extremists, pointing out that a majority of the population fled because of radical terrorist groups, and that they fled into Government controlled areas - and that President Assad is not simply attacking civilians.

In 2013 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Mairead Maguire, as part of a fact finding tour, discovered from interviews with refugees within Syria, and also in Lebanon, that the people had not been terrorised by the Government, but by armed gangs:

Syria: Nobel Peace Laureate Tells Her Account of What She Witnessed
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=msA35ATXol8&t=2s

There are a multitude of independent reports saying the same thing.

Recently, in 2016, US Peace Council representatives reported the same circumstance at the United Nations but underlined the fact that the West was supporting an insurgency in what they said was a proxy war:

US Peace Council Representatives CONFRONT a hostile American press after visiting Syria
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8JppJyVxYU&t=4s

The groups that are reporting the opposite, that this is simply a civil war, are the opposition-linked (and untrustworthy) Syrian Observatory for Human Rights based in London, the mainstream press(!), and (admittedly) some sections of the Sunni population of Syria who have sided with the extremists. However, in relation to this last point, the majority moderate Sunnis actually support the Syrian Government and the core of the Syrian Arab Army is actually comprised mostly of Sunnis, including senior commanders:

Why Assad's Army Has Not Defected
http://nationalinterest.org/feature/why-assads-army-has-not-defected-15190

Despite the fact that the war in Syria is clearly a fight between secular forces and foreign supported extremists, and that this is an open secret, the US and its allies shamelessly continue to pour weapons into the opposition side.

An interview conducted by German journalist Jürgen Todenhöfer with an Al Nusra (Al Qaeda) commander operating in the Aleppo area revealed that they were well aware that arms, including anti-tank weapons and actual tanks, were being fuelled to their groups via moderate 'fronts'. Most alarmingly was the claim that these extremists had direct training from the US, the Saudis and Israelis:

'Americans know their weapons will end up in hands of terrorists' - Al-Nusra commander interviewer
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWNgYNHAmis

In the interview Todenhöfer brings up the fact that the US and its allies have been actively supporting extremist groups in Syria since at least August 2012, where he cites a famous (at least within the independent media) declassified US Defence Intelligence Agency document.

The DIA document states that the "The West, Gulf Countries, and Turkey" were supporting the Syrian opposition whose leading groups comprised of 'Salafists, the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI [Al Qaeda in Iraq]' with the intention of creating a blocking force to stop Syrian, Iraqi and Iranian cooperation in the region:

2012 Defense Intelligence Agency document: West will facilitate rise of Islamic State “in order to isolate the Syrian regime”
https://levantreport.com/2015/05/19/2012-defense-intelligence-agency-document-west-will-facilitate-rise-of-islamic-state-in-order-to-isolate-the-syrian-regime/

It is very important to note that there is further evidence to suggest that outside involvement in the Syrian (proxy) War goes back to the very beginning of the conflict and even before fighting broke out - another point overlooked in the mainstream media account of this conflict.

Australian academic, Professor Tim Anderson wrote a book, The Dirty War on Syria, that fully explained the initial fighting, where outside involvement and violence was directed against the Syrian Government and police, beginning in 2011. He addresses the media limits put on reporting of the conflict and how the liberal left is largely absent when it comes to addressing what is happening. The following interview with Professor Anderson covers a lot of ground on what he, like many other independent observers, describes as proxy war:

The Dirty War on Syria - Dr. Tim Anderson on GRTV
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5CDJm0Edh8
(Senator Xenophon, you should contact Dr Anderson. Why is he not interviewed on Australian TV?)

Also take on board what journalist Seymour Hersh wrote in his famous 2007 article 'The Redirection', appearing in The New Yorker, where he stated that "The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda."
http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2007/03/05/the-redirection

In 2013 the former French Foreign Minister, Roland Dumas, appearing on national television, confirmed such a strategy when he stated that he was approached by British officials for his co-operation in organising a rebel intervention in Syria two years before violence erupted in the country:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kz-s2AAh06I

Many years before this General Wesley Clark, speaking in 2003, said that Syria was on a target list of seven countries destined for regime change, according to plans devised in late 2001:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9RC1Mepk_Sw

General Clark further stated in a Fox News interview in 2015 that "We use radical Islamists for foreign policy objectives", which echoes the strategy outlined by Seymour Hersh and the declassified DIA document:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-id_x6Fh3c

While it is true that very occasional interviews on the ABC confirm the fact the extremists are the leading fighting groups in the country, and that regional powers and the West heavily support them (including ISIS), this information is seemingly consigned to oblivion. For example, veteran Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk twice on the Lateline program explained what was occurring and yet we saw no overall change in ABC's war reporting narrative:

Fisk: Syrian soldiers are fighting for their lives as well as their country (Broadcast: 10/11/2014)
http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2014/s4125600.htm

Interview: Robert Fisk, the Independent newspaper's Middle East correspondent based in Beirut (Broadcast: 09/09/2015)
http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2015/s4309517.htm

My issue with the mainstream media (including the ABC) is that rather consistently report on what really is happening, in order to hold our Governments and allies to account, they, for the most part, participate in spreading lies about the war.

Furthermore, it is hard to believe that PROFESSIONAL JOURNALISTS are making an unconscious choice here when considering the obvious nature of this extremist infested proxy war. How is it that we always hear about the alleged atrocities of the Syrian Government, and ISIS, but seldom anything about the other radical groups that are labelled as 'rebels and activists'? We are told that there are 'moderate' groups but actual research reveals this to be untrue. They are only moderate in the sense that they are less extreme.

Even more disturbing is the fact that there are blatant examples of the media concocting war escalating propaganda that promotes overt Western intervention against the secular Syrian Government - thereby assisting the US regime change strategy mentioned earlier by General Clark.

Perhaps the worst such example of war propaganda is the BBC's fake chemical weapons story from 2013, revealed in the following video, where they actually dubbed in fake audio so that the word "napalm" was replaced with "chemical weapon" at a time following the Ghouta chemical attack:

Media Lies While Syrians Die: Media Disinformation and the Syrian War
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KFpaU9PC8o

The other notable example of deliberate lying comes from the CNN 'Danny from Syria' news reports, that pushed the idea that the Syrian Government was indiscriminately attacking civilians:

Caught: Staged CNN Syria Interviews Faked By Activist Danny
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lWB5ssifTg

Despite all these past exposés the ABC still airs reports that push the erroneous narrative that the Syrian Government is hell bent on targeting civilians. They are simply following US State Department talking points which are falsities. ABC journalists like Matt Brown, who have uncritically followed this line, even when they have direct access to what is happening on the ground, should know better.

Please hold the ABC to account for their phoney foreign affairs reporting when it comes to this matter. By allowing the false narrative to prevail, little pressure is placed on the West to cease their support for the extremist forces.

Sincerely

XXXXXXXXXXXXXX

ps. The following is one of many previous letters I sent to the ABC, addressing the propaganda stories pushed about the War - addressing various massacres and chemical attacks that independent journalists (German) and UN investigators, found were conducted by opposition forces, plus other issues:


Correcting the Syrian War Narrative Aired on the Question and Answer Program: A Letter to Fact Check (ABC News Australia) - October 2015

Hello Fact Check,

Tony Jones on QandA said for viewers to send corrections or observations to your site in relation to his guests' comments regarding the War in Syria. Having already provided information challenging the mainstream narrative of this war in the past, I will do so again, this time addressing specific points of propaganda repeated by QandA guests along with (my usual) links to evidence that clearly shows the conflict in Syria is, and always has been, a Proxy War.

A few key assumptions aired on QandA need to be addressed (deconstructed).

QandA guests wrongly painted a picture of President Assad as being responsible for the conflict - that he was essentially a butcher of civilians whose only crime was wanting democratic reforms. This is a lie. The Assad Government, from the very beginning, faced a series of violent actions sponsored by regional powers including NATO (details appear below). And although many protesters were arrested, this crackdown was relatively weak. Violence coming amidst the protest movement, on the other hand, was, and is, overlooked - at least in the western media narrative.

The majority of protesters, in early 2011, wanted speeded-up democratic reforms as a result of the Arab Spring. The problem for the Assad Government was that these protests were hijacked at a very early stage by violent elements. The Syrian Government was actually trying to placate the situation, offering concessions that included ending the Emergency Law and offering municipal elections, efforts that were undermined by unidentified snipers who fired on both protesters AND police.

We were never shown evidence to prove who these gunmen were - it has only been assumed (via propagandistic claims) that they were part of the Syrian security services. However, years later, during the Maidan protests in Ukraine, third party snipers shot at both police and protesters, facilitating the ousting of the Yanukovych Government. In both instances these actions looked designed to foment conflict, fostering division, rather than simply oppressing the aspirations of one side.

The biggest overlooked issue from early 2011 is the fact that "armed gangs" really did hijack the democracy movement, killing police and soldiers in various incidents. A recent article appearing at Global Research provided a history of various incidents showing that what occurred did not simply constitute the suppression of peaceful protesters:

“Moderate Terrorists”. Deconstructing the NATO Narrative on Syria. “Leftists” Keep the Myth Alive: http://www.globalresearch.ca/moderate-terrorists-deconstructing-the-nato-narrative-on-syria-leftists-keep-the-myth-alive/5481513

Another fact is that the NATO base at Incirlik, a military facility, was confirmed as being an 'organising area' for opposition forces in Syria from at least May 2011 http://www.boilingfrogspost.com/2011/11/21/bfp-exclusive-syria-secret-us-nato-training-support-camp-to-oust-current-syrian-president/

Juxtapose this with claims from people like General Wesley Clark, who stated in 2003, that Syria was on a target list of seven countries destined for regime change, according to plans devised in late 2001.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9RC1Mepk_Sw

The journalist Seymour Hersh, in his famous 2007 article 'The Redirection', appearing in The New Yorker, confirmed what General Clark stated earlier writing that "The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda."
http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2007/03/05/the-redirection

Then in 2013, the former French Foreign Minister, Roland Dumas, appearing on national television, stated that he was approached by British officials for his co-operation in organising a rebel intervention in Syria two years before violence erupted in the country.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kz-s2AAh06I

In 2015 there appeared the declassified US Defence Intelligence Agency documents from Aug 2012, that admitted "the West, Gulf Countries and Turkey" were supporting 'Salafists, the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda in Iraq' (ISIS) in the war in Syria - following the same policy Hersh had outlined in his 2007 article.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imb_Q3-0EqA

The fact of the matter is that the Assad Government was fighting against external forces who were supporting violent elements intent on overthrowing the Government. There was nothing democratic about such the actions of these proxy-force sponsoring countries.

Returning to specific claims of the Syrian Government conducting massacres against civilians, notably in locations such as Homs and Houla. These incidents proved to be the work of the extremists, who had been committing all manner of atrocities during the early years of the conflict.

For instance, the Houla massacre of 2012 was shown, by the conservative German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, to be the work of the Free Syrian Army, where the civilian victims, who supported the Government, had been knifed to death.
http://www.michaelsherlock.org/forum/general-atrocities/syria-atrocities/

In later massacres conducted in 2013 we again find that the rebels were responsible. The article 'Media Disinformation and Coverup of Atrocities Committed by US Sponsored Syria Rebels' goes into some detail -  http://rinf.com/alt-news/breaking-news/media-disinformation-and-coverup-of-atrocities-committed-by-us-sponsored-syria-rebels/70750/

In 2014 there appeared a story claiming that Assad had been conducting a 'Holocaust-like' program from 2011 to at least 2013. The source and analysis of the photographic evidence was sponsored by the Government of Qatar, a backer of extremist forces in the proxy war, and the photos do not conclusively prove the involvement of the Syrian Government.
http://www.activistpost.com/2014/10/7-reasons-to-doubt-latest-holocaust.html

On the other hand it can be proved that the rebel (extremist) side, for the most part, was terrorising people, and displacing them from their homes. Numerous reports from the victims back up this account. This narrative is confirmed by Irish Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire who told of what she witnessed during a fact finding tour of refugee camps.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=msA35ATXol8 A further review of the available online evidence reinforces this narrative.

It is only the western mainstream media, and our political leaders, via selective reporting and unsubstantiated claims, that are pushing the idea that the majority of people left because of the 'tyrannical Syrian Government'. What we find missing from numerous western TV stories that deal with Syrian refugees is the question: "what caused you to leave?" Such questions, are almost nowhere to be found, and the replies often buried under a mountain of 'anti-Assad' propaganda. 

Another critical point that must be remembered is that the Western media has a history of pushing gross misrepresentations (knowingly or otherwise) when it comes to war. Just consider the WMD fiasco in the lead up to the 2003 Iraq War.

In relation to deliberate media misrepresentations, concerning 'Assad's forces deliberately targeting civilians', we find the case of 'Danny from Syria' who was caught lying about various bombardments and the conditions in the country during 2012. (see Caught: Staged CNN Syria Interviews Faked By Activist Danny) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lWB5ssifTg

This incident, and the other distortions already covered so far, proves that the western media narrative concerning this conflict is a false one has probably never been corrected in the minds of many Syrian War observers, which would include the QandA guests.

Perhaps the biggest unaddressed albatross, when it comes to the vilification of the Syrian Government, is the claim that Assad used chemical weapons on his own people. Again, this is another lie. It is a transparent lie when we consider actual analysis of the various chemical weapons incidents, coming from the UN and other sources.

We know from the early chemical weapons attacks, before the August 2013 sarin incident in Ghouta, that the UN, via statements made by Carla Del Ponte, considered that the rebels had used chemical weapons in the war. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-22424188

The telegraph reported in 2013 on the Khan al Assal chemical attacks in which Syrian soldiers were victims.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/9950036/Syria-chemical-weapons-finger-pointed-at-jihadists.html

In relation to the infamous August 21st chemical attack on Ghouta we find - summarised in the article
'New Data Raise Further Doubt on Official View of August 21 Gas Attack in Syria'  - that the poison gas shell was fired from rebel held areas.
http://rinf.com/alt-news/breaking-news/new-data-raise-doubt-official-view-august-21-gas-attack-syria/

A later 2013 United Nations Syrian chemical weapons report pointed out that four previous sarin gas attacks targeted Syrian soldiers and civilians and not rebels thereby exposing the Washington rhetoric that 'Assad's forces' had been responsible.  http://rinf.com/alt-news/breaking-news/un-syrian-chemical-weapons-report-exposes-washingtons-lies/

Taking into account these false chemical weapons accusations, and the lies being pushed about various civilian massacres, one must also reconsider often repeated claims made about 'barrel bombing civilians'.

Nothing much is said when the US causes 'collateral damage' whilst it is engaged in bombing suspected terrorists. The same thing is occurring with barrel munitions used by the Syrian Army. There is no evidence to show they are deliberately targeting civilians any more that the United States does. Using large bombs to hit extremists that are holed up under cover in urban areas is a logical strategy. Simply bombing civilians does not make any sense.
http://www.globalresearch.ca/obamas-ludicrous-barrel-bomb-theme-singling-out-assad/5478928

Fact Check, the information I have relayed here is easily found. Journalists and researchers covering the war should be made aware of this material and the argument appearing in this essay.

Tony Jones, and other media presenters need to be adequately informed, so they can challenge their guests, to correct them when they are mistaken. Other guests, that are more knowledgeable about the true nature of the Proxy War - as opposed to the ill-informed parade of commentators that regularly appear - should appear on QandA in the interests of balance (at the very least!).

Didn't anyone at ABC understand the significance of journalist Robert Fisk statements (he was interviewed on Lateline) when he reported there were no significant moderate forces in the Syria, and that Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the US were aiding the extremists? He was talking about the proxy nature of the war. Here are links to the Lateline interviews: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RmAO6G4781c and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIyg7xaLGTY

Here are some further points of evidence to consider that highlight the foreign, Nation State, involvement in the War and related propaganda:

1. General Wesley Clark: "We use radical Islamists for foreign policy objectives"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-id_x6Fh3c

2. ISIS was given training in anti-tank weapons use by US, UK and French advisers according to Der Spiegel and The Guardian newspapers in early 2013.
http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/10/us-syria-crisis-rebels-usa-idUSBRE9290FI20130310

3. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is London based propaganda https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxIZNscLHnc

4. German TV Report: How Turkey Arms and Sends Wahhabi Jihadists into Syria
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pdvbinNLH8

5. German TV report on Trucks and Jihadist fighters crossing unhindered over the Turkish border
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPE_7y4zw64

Here are two concise Summary videos concerning the war from leading alternative news sources:

Media Lies While Syrians Die: Media Disinformation and the Syrian War - video summary of various events and how the media has manipulated the public's perceptions
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KFpaU9PC8o

The Covert Origins of ISIS - another summary of the proxy war
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMjXbuj7BPI

Fact Check, please note that I have sent many letters to the ABC, over a number of years, highlighting evidence showing that the war is a proxy conflict, that the Syrian Government has been fighting proxy forces from the very beginning, and that this situation would likely not exist if not for outside intervention. Implicit in my letters is the problem with your overall 'Assad the tyrant' narrative. This time I have spelled out the exact issues with various points of 'evidence' (propaganda) that supports the assumption that 'Assad is killing his own people'.

As a mainstream media source you have the power to influence events. Please remember that by not reporting the truth about the conflict in Syria you help facilitate the ongoing proxy war. Change the narrative.

[Posted at the SpookyWeather blog, October 1st, 2016.]

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