News Release

Syria War Fueled by Outside Forces and Propaganda

Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 4.06.55 PMJENNIFER LOEWENSTEIN, amadea311 at earthlink.net
Loewenstein is a human rights activist and faculty associate in Middle East Studies at Penn State University. A piece of hers will be published in the print edition of Counterpunch.org that draws parallels between today and the situation at the end of World War I. Writes Loewenstein: “After the First World War, from January to June 1919, the victorious allies met over 100 times to determine the fates of their vanquished foes. … In virtually all cases what mattered least in terms of the governance and policies of a nation was public opinion.” Loewenstein’s past pieces include “Heading Toward a Collision: Syria, Saudi Arabia and Regional Proxy Wars.”

STEPHEN KINZER, kinzer.stephen at gmail.com, @stephenkinzer
Kinzer is a senior fellow at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University. He recently wrote the piece “The media are misleading the public on Syria,” which states: “Washington-based reporters tell us that one potent force in Syria, al-Nusra, is made up of ‘rebels’ or ‘moderates,’ not that it is the local al-Qaeda franchise. Saudi Arabia is portrayed as aiding freedom fighters when in fact it is a prime sponsor of ISIS. Turkey has for years been running a ‘rat line’ for foreign fighters wanting to join terror groups in Syria, but because the United States wants to stay on Turkey’s good side, we hear little about it. Nor are we often reminded that although we want to support the secular and battle-hardened Kurds, Turkey wants to kill them. Everything Russia and Iran do in Syria is described as negative and destabilizing, simply because it is they who are doing it — and because that is the official line in Washington.

“Inevitably, this kind of disinformation has bled into the American presidential campaign. At the recent debate in Milwaukee, Hillary Clinton claimed that United Nations peace efforts in Syria were based on ‘an agreement I negotiated in June of 2012 in Geneva.’ The precise opposite is true. In 2012 Secretary of State Clinton joined Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Israel in a successful effort to kill Kofi Annan’s UN peace plan because it would have accommodated Iran and kept Assad in power, at least temporarily. No one on the Milwaukee stage knew enough to challenge her.”

Background: See new Patrick Cockburn interview on The Real News: “The thing to bear in mind about this ceasefire is that people aren’t actually going to cease firing, because on one hand, you have the Syrian government with the Syrian army, and on the other you have the Syrian opposition, which is very divided, and the largest part of it consists of the Islamic State, or ISIS, or ISIL, whatever you want to call them, or the al-Nusra Front, which is the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria. And the ceasefire doesn’t cover them. …

“One of the problems is that some of these sort of smaller groups might sound neutral or they might pretend to be moderate because they want to get weapons and money, and so forth. But they only operate under license from al-Nusra and the al-Qaeda type organizations. So it’s a bit misleading to think if they really are a serious force on the ground.”