Aleppo, Syria Under Fire…It Can’t Fall

Dear Friends. I will be away but this is a crucial time for the war of terror against Syria. Perhaps the most crucial and pivitol time of all. My friend Riham Eliass will attempt to cry out to the world for help.I’m hopeful that my friend Dr. Rick Staggenborg will assist.

 

 
Riham…Please wrire more. Eva, Vanessa Gammel, Agnan…Dr. Rick Stagennborg. Plese. Update us more. I am agret and disappointed there have been no updates.Not mad. Not upset. Just frustrated. I am hewre to help. Janice Kampcort…all of you. I’m at meslerjohn@yahoo.com PHONe is 908-403-8860 Thans. We MUST prevail and emotiom, truth and passion will always walk alongside us.http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-aleppo-hospital-smokescreen-covering-up-al-qaeda-massacres-in-syria-once-again/5524250

Iraq Since 1991

 

In the years since the first invasion of Iraq in 1991, millions of Iraqis have died due to US sanctions and military actions, the violence of their own government and allied militias, and attacks by outside jihadists who would never have dared to enter Iraq had Saddam remained in power. Despite the US role in devastating Iraqi society and infrastructure, most Iraqis I know have no trouble distinguishing between our government and Americans as a people. I believe that if Americans can learn to appreciate the individual struggles of average Iraqis, they can come to understand that the actions of their government should not blind us to their humanity. It is my hope that readers of this blog will leave questions and comments to which my Iraqi friends can respond directly. It is this dialogue that can help create personal relationships that allow us to recognize that our government’s actions affect people we care about.

By now, most people are pretty much aware of what transpired between the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the time the US departed in 2011, but things have gotten worse since then. In the following stories you’ll meet three friends of mine and through their eyes and their stories I will try to get the reader interested in what has transpired and why Iraq now so desperately needs our help. You’ll be meeting Arkan (pronounced R-Kon..accent on the Kon) from Fallujah. He is a 34 year old man who fights against ISIS every day from across the river to that city. Then there’s Waleed, a 23 year old man from recently liberated Ramadi, a city to the west of Fallujah. Finally, there is my friend S, a 24 year old female dental school graduate in Baghdad.

Before we can begin to appreciate the events in the daily lives of these three friends, a brief history is necessary. The US installed Nouri Maliki as Iraq’s Prime minister in 2006. Maliki is an Iraqi who at that time had been living in exile for some 24 years, mostly in Iran. For those of you unfamiliar with Middle East history, Iran and Iraq were engaged in a very hostile war for eight years in the 1980’s. Unlike Saddam Hussein, most Iraqis are members of the Shi’ite sect of Islam that is the official state religion in Iran.  Therefore, although Iraq had become a secular society under Hussein, a substantial proportion of Iraqi Shia felt more connected to Iran than their own government. It was predictable that Iran would gain influence in Iraq should sectarianism divide Iraqis from one another, as happened during the US occupation.

Under these circumstances, as a Shia even Maliki himself was stunned at being selected to lead the newly “liberated” Iraq.  The US couldn’t have chosen a more sectarian leader. He quickly began inserting Iranian friends into Iraq’s government and showed favor to Shia Iraqis right from the beginning. In 2010, Iraqis elected Aled Allawi, but the US insisted Maliki remain in charge. Many Iraqis were furious. When the US pulled out in 2011, Maliki cracked down even harder on the Sunni population. The Shia-dominated military was ordered to do intrusive searches of Sunni areas night and day. The persecution was relentless. In 2015, Obama made Maliki step down and put current Prime Minister Heider Ibadi in charge. But the damage was done. When ISIS marched into Iraqi’s northern Sunni city of Mosul in June of 2015, the poverty-ridden and persecuted Sunni population welcomed them. Life had to be better under ISIS, didn’t it?  When someone is deprived of everything, promises become the foundation that hopes and dream are built upon.

When I first met Waleed, ISIS hadn’t yet grown in popularity or numbers. Al-Baghdadi was still in prison in Iraq, where some say he began to organize his network. It was 2013, and Waleed was living in his family home in Ramadi. There was a movement to the west of Baghdad to end the sectarian leadership of Maliki. Waleed was doing what he could with the local police to make Iraq a more inclusive, secular society. All that changed when in late 2014, ISIS had bombed his family house. He moved in with his uncle and has been fighting ISIS ever since. In the past few months, he has lost friends and family almost on a weekly basis. All Iraqis continue to lose friends and family. By early 2015, Ramadi had been totally overrun by ISIS. It wasn’t until February of 2016 that what remains of Ramadi had been liberated by joint US and Iraqi efforts. Now the rebuilding needs to be done. Everything…mosques, buildings, pipelines and all the bridges over the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers have been ruined. To make matters even worse, Iraq’s economy has hit bottom. We’ll come back and do updates and interviews with Waleed shortly. I want you to get to know him as I have come to know him.

S. and I met in June of 2014. We chat on Facebook on a daily basis . Now that she has completed her dental training, she is working for the government. S. has become much more than a Facebook friend. In many ways, she has become my best friend. She lives in Baghdad. Her strong work ethic and level of education is not unusual among Iraqis and Syrians. She tells me a lot about her everyday life and Iraq itself; its history, food and customs.

I often think of her and the Ameriya Shelter that was bombed by a US bunker buster in 1991. She was born shortly afterward, but she could have been one of the many young moms and babies killed in the shelter that day. One thing S. would never complain about is the fact that like most Iraqis, she can’t leave Iraq and travel as easily as we can here in the US. Until recently, she has been unable to even leave Baghdad because of the unsafe situation. She was virtually stranded on an island, unable even to visit loved ones in other parts of the country. She’s an extraordinary woman who speaks perfect English. She has a sense of humor I find irresistible. You’ll be hearing more from her regarding life in Baghdad in future posts.

Finally, we meet Arkan. Many Iraqis who live in the open areas reside within traditional tribes, with their extended families. This means that every life lost to the senseless violence is a loss to the whole community. That is the case with both Waleed and Arkan. Arkan grew up in the areas north of Fallujah, where he herded cattle as they grazed. He has eight brothers and sisters and looks after his ailing mother. He also battles ISIS every single day. Just two weeks before this was written, he lost two cousins and a best friend. One of his cousins was kidnapped by ISIS. Those taken are rarely heard from again unless their bodies are found floating downstream in the river. Although Arkan has never witnessed it himself, he has been told by others he trusts that US helicopters have dropped supplies off for ISIS fighters from time to time. It’s important to remember that all three of these friends welcome what help the US offers. Of these three friends, it is Arkan who is currently on the front lines fighting ISIS every day now.

I will update the situations as often as I can buy most importantlty I invite any western reader to feel free . Ask anything you want.Lets build the bridge we all want.

Contact me at    meslerjohn@yahoo.com

I thank Dr, Rick Staggenborg and Vanessa Beeley

March 1st, 2016 update

Life In Baghdad is dangerous. More so then in Damascus, a city I visited just last April, 2015 as part of a peace and reconcilliation delegation . Last month 3 Americans were kidnapped . They say they were in a house of ill repute . Its unclear if they were journalists or not but they haven’t been heard from since . Shortly before that my friend lost one of her drivers to an ambush . That may have been related to a marital dispute, but we’ll never know for sure . His body was found in a garbage dumpster the following day. The day before Valentines Day there were posters all over Baghdad warning people that they’d be killed if they were discovered celebrating . Just a few weeks ago a nephew of an Iraqi refugee living in Munich lost her nephew and his wife. Militia’s stormed his house and killed them both in Baghdad.

Soon afterwards  her other nephew was in need of help. He had been kidnapped from his home  and taken by the same gang that killed his brother and sister-in-law . Thankfully, the US army was able to find him and somehow negotiate his freedom. He and his wife had to escape to Turkey, where they are in hiding to this day . His mother made it clear to me that if he or his wife return to Baghdad they will surely be killed . We don’t know who these killers are. Iranian militia? ISIS? He may never know . Since we are at the very least partially responsible for this situation shouldn’t we be there helping on a bigger scale?  Even if just for security purposes in Baghdad and fighting ISIS where ever they are?

Arkan and his family and tribe are located just on the other side of the Tigris River from Fallujah . Not more than 700 meters (about the length of 7 football fields) away . The bridge has been destroyed . He and the others he fights with don’t receive much help from the Iraqi army. The government forces sent two helicopters last week and both were shot down by ISIS . The pilot escaped, but he was so badly wounded that he died a few days later.  The help from the Iraqi army seems to be inconsistent at best and the US not much better . ISIS gets stronger all the time. Their mortars are bigger this week than in previous times and have the capability to reach the area where Arkan is fighting.

It’s probably as good a time as ever to explain why Iraq’s army is weak. The first mistake the US made was disbanding the entire Iraqi army and police. They were strong. 500,000 strong and comprised of both Shia and Sunni. During normal times it is very common in both Iraq and Syria for a shia and sunni to wed. The parents “to be” hardly ever ask “from which sect is he/she from” . But because the sectarian Prime Minister Maliki had close ties to Iran and hated Saddam Hussein he was sure to see that the army was made up of mostly shia . When ISIS marched into Mosul in June of 2014 the army left their weapons behind and ran. Weapons we sold to them. We have sold Saudi Arabia over $100 BILLION in weapons recently.  We know damn well THOSE weapons are going to terror groups trying to topple President Bashar al-Assad in Syria and unfortunately, some are going to ISIS. We make more money when we sell to both sides. The Iraqi military has a long way to go still. We owe it to Iraq to go in and help.

MARCH 11th, 2016 update

It has been a relatively successful past 10 days in Fallujah but I’d be remiss not to take time to re-visit Fallujah and what happened there in 2004 . Mohamad Tariq al-Darraji served on the city council in Fallujah from January until June of 2004 . He has since become a doctor who specializes in the malformations of infants. The US and UK brutally attacked the city in June and again in November of that year and both used depleted uranium and white phosphorus (WP) .The “coalition of the willing” blocked the bridge over the Euphrates River so the injured could not get the much needed help they needed at the hospital and the dead were denied burial in the cemetary across the river. The surviving family members had to bury their dead in the yards of their homes.

Today, 14.7 percent of Fallujah’s babies are born with a birth defect, 14 times the documented rate in Hiroshima and Nagasaki . Fallujah’s babies have also experienced heart defects 13 times the European rate and nervous system defects 33 times that of Europe. That comes on top of a 12-fold rise in childhood cancer rates since 2004. Furthermore, the male-to-female birth ratio is now 86 boys for every 100 girls, indicating genetic damage that affects males more than females.For more information on this please visit David Swanson’s “WAR IS A LIE” or Google “DISPATCHES from the UNDERCLASS” by Rania Khalek (March 20th, 2013). Or contact Dr. Muhamad T.al-Darajji himself. In addition to the deformaties, one out of every three babies born in the Fallujah area suffers from some type of malignancy . There are two “must see” award winning documentarys. On the topic of what has happened since WP and DU were used in Fallujah is “The Doctor, the Depleted Uranium and the Dying Children.” Then there’s Jeremy Scahill’s academy award nominated documentary, “Dirty Wars.” I don’t tell you about these things to make you uncomfortable or to feel guilty if you’re from the West. As I’ve said many times in the past, the media have become exceptionally good at keeping these truths from us. But I do hope and trust that once you do discover these truths that some of you you will be like me and begin making up for lost time. I refuse to believe it’s too late to correct our collective course.

Whereas there would be daily mortar attacks of Arkan’s village just across the river before this past week, there were only three in the last 7 or 8 days. He sent me photos of something I’ve seen before from Syria. When ISIS are on the run they shave their beards and run. Arkan sent me a photo of a pile of hair.  They take what’s happened in Syria and in the northern outskirts of Aleppo one step further. They wear women’s clothing. Even burkas! That is the reason there are more “refugees” leaving Syria now than in the past 4 years put together.Another is the very poor economy and the fact that there are no jobs. I’ll never understand why Russia agreed to a cease fire in Syria, but I do know why the US and other western powers asked for one. We don’t mention that in just the past 4 months, Russia only needed 3 squadroms to run ISIS into the ground. Other groups of terrorists (the ones we refer to as “moderate rebels”) like Jaish al Islam, Ahrar al Sham in the north near Latakia, Syria  and Alwayat Al  mothananna (near Daraa in the south western part of Syria) now have time to re-group. To the north of Aleppo, Soltan Morad and Ahrak Alsham never respected the cease fire. They bomb Aleppo still. On March 5th, the Al-Zahra neighborhood in Homs was bombed by terrorists but the Syrian Arab Army never retaliated.Many fear that even Russia is working with the US to slice Syria into 3 seperaste states. I hope not. ISIS did try to breach the town that Arkan is living in twice this past week by using car bombs but each attempt was thwarted. But there is little hope that Fallujah will be liberated anytime soon.And now many are calling for the resignation of Iraqi’s finance minister. As terrible as things have been things continue to get worse.

The latest news (April) is that Ramadi has been liberated by US air hits and Iraqi ground forces. However the fighting remains to the nortyh and northeast of Ramadi.

Please feel free to ask Arkan, Waleed and/or “S” any questions you have no matter how silly or simple they may sound to you.After all, its not like any of us has been educated by the Mainstrsam Media. Thank you!     meslerjohn@yahoo.com

 

The media are misleading the public on Syria

New recruits trained to fight alongside opposition in Aleppo, Syria.

COVERAGE OF the Syrian war will be remembered as one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the American press. Reporting about carnage in the ancient city of Aleppo is the latest reason why.

For three years, violent militants have run Aleppo. Their rule began with a wave of repression. They posted notices warning residents: “Don’t send your children to school. If you do, we will get the backpack and you will get the coffin.” Then they destroyed factories, hoping that unemployed workers would have no recourse other than to become fighters. They trucked looted machinery to Turkey and sold it.

This month, people in Aleppo have finally seen glimmers of hope. The Syrian army and its allies have been pushing militants out of the city. Last week they reclaimed the main power plant. Regular electricity may soon be restored. The militants’ hold on the city could be ending.

Militants, true to form, are wreaking havoc as they are pushed out of the city by Russian and Syrian Army forces. “Turkish-Saudi backed ‘moderate rebels’ showered the residential neighborhoods of Aleppo with unguided rockets and gas jars,” one Aleppo resident wrote on social media. The Beirut-based analyst Marwa Osma asked, “The Syrian Arab Army, which is led by President Bashar Assad, is the only force on the ground, along with their allies, who are fighting ISIS — so you want to weaken the only system that is fighting ISIS?”

This does not fit with Washington’s narrative. As a result, much of the American press is reporting the opposite of what is actually happening. Many news reports suggest that Aleppo has been a “liberated zone” for three years but is now being pulled back into misery.

Americans are being told that the virtuous course in Syria is to fight the Assad regime and its Russian and Iranian partners. We are supposed to hope that a righteous coalition of Americans, Turks, Saudis, Kurds, and the “moderate opposition” will win.

This is convoluted nonsense, but Americans cannot be blamed for believing it. We have almost no real information about the combatants, their goals, or their tactics. Much blame for this lies with our media.

Under intense financial pressure, most American newspapers, magazines, and broadcast networks have drastically reduced their corps of foreign correspondents. Much important news about the world now comes from reporters based in Washington. In that environment, access and credibility depend on acceptance of official paradigms. Reporters who cover Syria check with the Pentagon, the State Department, the White House, and think tank “experts.” After a spin on that soiled carousel, they feel they have covered all sides of the story. This form of stenography produces the pabulum that passes for news about Syria.

Astonishingly brave correspondents in the war zone, including Americans, seek to counteract Washington-based reporting. At great risk to their own safety, these reporters are pushing to find the truth about the Syrian war. Their reporting often illuminates the darkness of groupthink. Yet for many consumers of news, their voices are lost in the cacophony. Reporting from the ground is often overwhelmed by the Washington consensus.

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.

Politicians may be forgiven for distorting their past actions. Governments may also be excused for promoting whatever narrative they believe best suits them. Journalism, however, is supposed to remain apart from the power elite and its inbred mendacity. In this crisis it has failed miserably.

Americans are said to be ignorant of the world. We are, but so are people in other countries. If people in Bhutan or Bolivia misunderstand Syria, however, that has no real effect. Our ignorance is more dangerous, because we act on it. The United States has the power to decree the death of nations. It can do so with popular support because many Americans — and many journalists — are content with the official story. In Syria, it is: “Fight Assad, Russia, and Iran! Join with our Turkish, Saudi, and Kurdish friends to support peace!” This is appallingly distant from reality. It is also likely to prolong the war and condemn more Syrians to suffering and death.

This is convoluted nonsense, but Americans cannot be blamed for believing it. We have almost no real information about the combatants, their goals, or their tactics. Much blame for this lies with our media.

Under intense financial pressure, most American newspapers, magazines, and broadcast networks have drastically reduced their corps of foreign correspondents. Much important news about the world now comes from reporters based in Washington. In that environment, access and credibility depend on acceptance of official paradigms. Reporters who cover Syria check with the Pentagon, the State Department, the White House, and think tank “experts.” After a spin on that soiled carousel, they feel they have covered all sides of the story. This form of stenography produces the pabulum that passes for news about Syria.

Astonishingly brave correspondents in the war zone, including Americans, seek to counteract Washington-based reporting. At great risk to their own safety, these reporters are pushing to find the truth about the Syrian war. Their reporting often illuminates the darkness of groupthink. Yet for many consumers of news, their voices are lost in the cacophony. Reporting from the ground is often overwhelmed by the Washington consensus.

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.

Politicians may be forgiven for distorting their past actions. Governments may also be excused for promoting whatever narrative they believe best suits them. Journalism, however, is supposed to remain apart from the power elite and its inbred mendacity. In this crisis it has failed miserably.

Americans are said to be ignorant of the world. We are, but so are people in other countries. If people in Bhutan or Bolivia misunderstand Syria, however, that has no real effect. Our ignorance is more dangerous, because we act on it. The United States has the power to decree the death of nations. It can do so with popular support because many Americans — and many journalists — are content with the official story. In Syria, it is: “Fight Assad, Russia, and Iran! Join with our Turkish, Saudi, and Kurdish friends to support peace!” This is appallingly distant from reality. It is also likely to prolong the war and condemn more Syrians to suffering and death.

Stephen Kinzer is a senior fellow at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University. Follow him on Twitter@stephenkinzer.