Various semi-official sources expressed the conviction that both the alleged gas attack in Ghouta, Syria and the intensely publicised ‘Skripal poisoning’ in Britain were faked by certain Special Operatives from the broader Atlantic Alliance in order to force Europe into a Cold War mode and revamp a collapsing coalition against the Syrian-Iranian-Russian compact.
During two weeks spent in Europe this April, I found confirmation for my impression gained in the summer of 2017 that the Anglo-Franco-US alliance spawned by the 1914-1918 war was being revived. The main enemy is Russia, but another, unofficially acknowledged target is Germany under economic attack from the United States. The European Union may be about to split into two blocs as desired by the British and American governments, who wish to reduce Germany’s continental primacy. Additionally, Berlin’s deep economic involvement with Russia (not only about gas imports and industrial cooperation) and extensive business relations with China are seen as threatening the already eroded Atlantic supremacy. The state visit of Emmanuel Macron to Washington DC in late April, after the trilateral bombing of Syria against Germany’s (and Italy’s) wishes are also explained by that rivalry.
Various semi-official sources, speaking off the record, expressed the conviction that both the alleged latest gas attack in Ghouta, Syria and the intensely publicised “Skripal poisoning” incident in Britain were faked by certain Special Operatives from the broader Atlantic Alliance in order to force Europe into a Cold War mode and revamp a collapsing coalition against the Syrian-Iranian-Russian compact. Other European capitals were and remain highly sceptical, if not dismissive of Anglo-French allegations, against which they had been warned in advance in official statements by the Russian Foreign Ministry. However, in order to maintain a minimum of cohesion and comply with the intense British-American pressure, most states reluctantly agreed to expel a token number of Russian diplomats. In the US, a cheerleader for the “Kick The Ruskies Out” initiative was, it seems National Security Adviser H.R. MacMaster who was fired by Donald Trump right afterwards.
The illegal and illogical bombing of Syria, decided upon without UN Security Council approval, without taking a vote in the respective legislative assemblies and absent any independent confirmation of the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government was, apparently, a tactical move to reassert the West’s role in Syria and the region and a symbol wanted by both President Macron and Prime Minister Theresa May to refurbish their military partnership with the US in order to intimidate Iran, Turkey, Russia and China as the main players “on the other side”.
The “bombing powers” had no interest in getting the facts checked by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and only reluctantly let it send an investigating team in Syria on Russia’s requirement. The latest reports indicate that the Syrian bombing of Ghouta did not involve chemical weapons, which is why western media are doing their best to ignore the testimonies of local witnesses contradicting Anglo-French claims.
In the event the western strikes on Syria were restricted in scope by US Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who, after stating he had seen no evidence for the chemical attack, insisted on checking every intended target with the Russians, thereby informing Damascus in advance.
Mattis was not alone in the awareness that a hit on any Russian facility or personnel would lead to retaliation from Moscow, which might quickly escalate the conflict. As a result of that prior consultation, the Syrian Air Defense was able to shoot down a high number of missiles, while Russian submarines played a game of cat and mouse with the vessels of the new “Triple Entente” to interfere with their launches. It seems that the French did not fire any missile, whether that was by presidential decision—Macron wanted noise and fury but not a real shooting match—or due to the inaction of French Navy commanders, sceptical about the justification for this attack. As the Russians pointed out, if there were chemical weapons in the designated targets, destroying them with explosive ordinance would only create a catastrophe in civilian areas. The missiles that actually landed, destroyed a few scientific research labs, university buildings and air force facilities. Allegations against the Bashar Assad regime had come as usual from the Hollywoodesque White Helmets, known to be playing a PR role on behalf of the western and Saudi-supported Jaish al Islam and other radical militias and were relayed by the London based and western financed Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Those two among many “opposition activists” have tried for years to trigger a full scale invasion of Syria by western powers to overthrow the Assad government.
Donald Trump’s attitude in this scenario was puzzling and yet predictable. Under intense pressure at home and constantly accused of being Vladimir Putin’s pawn, he chose to use some ammunition from the overstocked US arsenal as a way to show some pugnacity against Moscow’s Syrian ally, hoping to gain support from his domestic constituency, while humouring the Saudis, Israelis and other promoters of deeper US military engagement in the region, but it was soon known that the Alliance’s bombing raid had more bark than bite and Trump has had to keep his remaining supporters on board by reiterating his obdurate resolve to get out of the JCPOA (“the Iran nuclear deal”).
This seemingly irrational fixation can best be explained by the President’s imperative not to cross the Israeli lobby in the US and abroad. If he only had to take the Saudi Iranophobia into account, he would merely offer the Kingdom newer and more powerful weapons to stave off the “Persian threat”, to the benefit of the American military industry.
The US government and, even more so, Trump treat the Arab states in a cavalier manner (Trump pointedly reminded the Gulf monarchies, rightly or wrongly that they exist by the good grace of Washington), but the Zionist establishment cannot be toyed with and cancelling the Iranian deal has always been the sine qua non requirement of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli right wing. It is perhaps significant that, when faced with the very embarrassing Stormy Daniels issue, Donald Trump reportedly sought the advice and support of one of his main donors, the casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, said to be worth 40 billion dollars.
This was confirmed by Trump’s disgraced adviser Steve Bannon, who paid both men a double-edged compliment in that snide comment.
Adelson, close to Netanyahu personally and politically, told a shaken President that he would help him to weather the porn actress’ accusations with the right legal strategy. Coming from someone with such experience and power in the business of gambling and associated activities, that assurance was worth a lot, but the price was “no compromise with Iran”, which also implies not letting Syria settle down and rebuild under the rule of Assad, Tehran’s ally. Israel has shown that it is not averse to striking even Russian military equipment in Syria as part of its ongoing strategy to conduct bombing raids over the strife torn country and target Iranian personnel, while covertly supporting some of the Islamist rebel groups. Tel Aviv’s policy may well drag Washington and western allies into a direct confrontation with Moscow.
The US government’s intent to tear up the Iran deal is bad news for European countries that invested a lot of effort and credibility in working it out and hoped to reap the reward through business with the Islamic Republic. Macron’s visit to Washington was partly intended to mollycoddle Trump enough to make him renounce his intempestive pledge. Beneath the surface warmth there was tension and the truculent American President, true to style, treated the younger French head of state as a gruffly affectionate father would a well meaning but inexperienced boy who needs to learn the ways of the world.
Macron (who had, when coming to power intended to visit Iran soon and act as a mediator) took his revenge for the humiliation by stating later in the visit that flip-flopping on signed agreements with foreign nations was “very insane”, but Trump, holding to the American customary position that “what is mine is mine and what is yours is to be discussed”, kept his options open.
On the other hand, Macron apparently got Trump to keep his “boots on the ground” in Syria for now, on the condition that “the Arabs” pay for them and eventually provide troops.
France and Britain are determined to play a key role in the reorganisation of the region, which seems to require a de facto division of Syria, since the western alliance refuses to work with the Syrian government and wants to “rebuild” the country, after helping destroy it, only in areas that are under rebel control or (illegal) US military occupation, essentially the semi-desertic East and the embattled Kurdish North.
Macron’s proposal to expand and supplement the Iran deal (which the US has not fully complied with anyway) is equally unrealistic, as it would force Tehran to close down its missile development programme and practically disarm to the satisfaction of its regional enemies and of the notoriously unreliable US. Unsurprisingly, Tehran, Moscow and Beijing have reiterated that the UN endorsed agreement is not open to renegotiation.
Western Europe is coming closer to the current American belligerent mindset and one effect is the rise of insidious censorship in the news and in social media in the guise of “combating fake news”, a leitmotiv in official speech, which often implies banning or discrediting reporting and opinions unfavourable to the Atlantic positions as being disloyal or even treasonous.
The first casualty of war is truth and all nations should remember that mobilising to fight real or alleged enemies eventually implies curtailing freedom of expression. As a result, much mainstream news coverage in the self-styled “free world” is now clumsy or subtle propaganda.