Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Syria: Propaganda, Prognosis and Prospects

A few days ago, the NATO/Al Qaeda Alliance[1] (hereinafter referred to as NAQA for reasons of convenience) launched what it declared would be a knock-out blow against the government of Syria.

It began with a suicide attack which killed four of the Syrian government’s top officials, and was followed up by something called Operation Damascus Volcano, in which the Al Qaeda portion of NAQA launched an “assault” on the Syrian capital, and allegedly overran huge parts of it. If one was to believe the breathless reports in the “international” media, the “hated” “regime” of President Bashar al-Assad was about to fall. Assad himself, as the tale went, had already fled to the port of Latakia.

It was all propaganda, of course, as rapidly became clear over the next few days, as the Syrian military annihilated some of the NAQA gangs and drove the rest out, rapidly regaining control over the city. The gangs which had been forced out went on to attack the largest Syrian city, Aleppo to the north, and as of this writing are being destroyed there in turn, to the fury of the Empire[2]

Syrian Army soldiers put up their national flag after driving out NAQA.

 These battles have a significance out of all proportion to their actual military impact, and that is what we’ll talk about in the course of this article.

Even though the Syrian government has apparently successfully survived this round, it would be naive to think that it’s out of the woods. The Empire will keep on trying to overthrow Assad, by using the Al Qaeda component of NAQA above all else. Since these Islamic Holy Warriors are basically jihadist cannon fodder, they can be easily replaced - kill a thousand and another thousand will come, as they are coming from all over; Britain[3] to Bangladesh, Chechnya to Pakistan. There’s an inexhaustible supply of jihadists available, and as long as they are fighting the common enemy, the Empire is more than happy to have them on its side.

NAQA terrorists of the "Free Syrian Army"

 Therefore, at first sight, even if it wins a succession of military victories, however overwhelming, in the long term Assad's government is unlikely to survive. It’s, after all, not easy to arm, train, clothe and feed a regular army in the middle of a major civil war/terrorist campaign (however you want to term it) in order to replace losses and maintain sufficient superiority over enemy numbers in order to keep winning victories. However, as always, first sight impressions don’t necessarily tell the whole tale. Assad still has several cards to play.  

One important factor is the role of Russia and China. It’s more than obvious that if it weren’t for the principled stand taken by these two countries, Syria would have been under round the clock Libya-style NAQA air bombing right now (though with somewhat more trepidation than in Libya, as we’ll discuss).  Russia and China, however, need to go beyond words and step up real economic and military support, with weapons and logistics. Just blocking the NATO air forces isn’t going to do the job if NAQA continues to arm, train and finance the Al Qaeda gangs on the ground.

If, though, there's adequate Russian and Chinese military and economic (not just political and diplomatic) support, Assad can continue to hold on to the major power centres and the non Sunni areas. Despite the impression given by the usual Imperial propaganda, Assad is far from being “universally hated.”[4] The Syrian minorities – the Christians, Alawites, Druze, and Shiites are on his side along with a large section of the Sunni Arabs as well. Even the Kurds have declined to join in against him, and after he gave them autonomy, it’s the Empire’s NATO tool, Turkey, which is threatening them with invasion[5].

Therefore, despite all the recent talk of an “endgame” in Syria, it’s far from over.

The second factor is exploiting the way the Empire conducts wars these days. In order, in fact, to understand the current course of events in Syria, it’s vital to comprehend the modern Imperial way of waging war.

Ever since Kosovo, (with one exception) this is how the Empire does war: it begins by selecting a country for “regime change.” It then picks out a "rebel" group, promotes it as "freedom fighters", arms and trains it, and then uses it to launch attacks on the government of the target nation - attacks the government has no choice but to counter with armed force. These attacks are typically carried out inside cities, which are now the preferred guerrilla battleground, just as the forests once used to be. The idea is to compel the government to strike back in these urban jungles of concrete, with inevitable civilian casualties. 

NAQA urban guerrillas

 And in case there are no civilian casualties, massacres or “impending massacres” are invented and/or arranged and blamed on the government forces. We saw this in Kosovo, we saw this in Libya (remember the tales of massacres about to happen in Benghazi unless NATO stepped in). We’ve seen it in Syria, for example in Houla, where NAQA carried out a massacre[6] and blamed it on the government; and at Tremseh, where terrorist gangs were destroyed by the army[7] but it was passed off as a “civilian massacre” until the truth reluctantly leaked out.  

Once these government counter-assaults take place, they are then cited by the Empire's propaganda-mongers as a "humanitarian crisis" which requires armed intervention. This armed intervention means relatively risk-free massed air attacks against the government forces, which have been drawn into action by the tame terrorists and are therefore concentrated into easily bombarded target areas. If these government forces stay in concentration against the terrorists, they can be destroyed from the air; if they disperse, they can be overwhelmed by the terrorists. Either way, the terrorists then have a free run into the capital.

This has been the technique used in Kosovo in 1999, in Afghanistan in 2001, in Somalia in 2006-7, in Libya last year and it’s now planned for Syria. The only time it wasn't used was against Iraq in 2003. There were two reasons: first, the only "rebels" the Empire could procure were Ahmed Chalabi's ragtag faction, which was so pathetic that it had no presence in Iraq at all and had to be flown in after the invasion. More importantly, the Bush regime had no intention of sharing the glory of being the "liberators" of Iraq with anybody.

This is also the technique planned for Iran, as it happens - that's why the Empire is backing the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, a terrorist group which even the Empire itself calls a terror group. It openly hosted them in camps in Iraq, its leaders are feted in Washington, and top members of the Imperial government are trying hard[8] to have it declared a non-terrorist group.

You'll note that the neo-imperial way of combat has some requirements:

1. There has to be a reasonably powerful terrorist group on the ground. If one can't be found, it has to be created, by creative recruitment and throwing money around to trigger defections. If one can't be created, one has to be imported, if necessary under a new name. Al Qaeda, as I said, is a ready resource for this.

2. The second requirement is that the targeted nation's armed forces (especially air defence) can't be too strong; if they are, then aerial intervention becomes too costly and after Iraq the Empire is no longer very keen to be seen carrying out imperial aggressions alone, without the participation of its European vassals. Therefore, an important part of the technique is to try and choke off military supplies, like NATO is attempting to do to Syria. You'll notice that NATO gets hysterical at the notion of air defence equipment being sent to Syria from Russia, even though these can't be used to "attack civilians". If one is to take NATO’s concern for civilians seriously, one can’t find a reasonable explanation for this reaction.

3. A dedicated propaganda campaign. This is very important, but easy to arrange, such imperial organs as the BBC and CNN are ready to hand. This propaganda isn’t aimed at the right wing, who are in any case either reflexively happy to go to war or in favour of allowing the foreigners to fight it out amongst themselves; it’s aimed at  the centre and the so-called “left”, which in most lexicons ought to be called centre-right (what I call the faux-liberal class).

In these propaganda endeavours, Al Jazeera will play a propaganda role on the Empire’s side. This channel is now stamped PROPERTY OF THE EMIR OF QATAR, and Qatar is the primary Imperial tool in the Arab world today; it was Qatar which armed the terrorists in Libya and is arming them in Syria now, with the Empire’s blessings. But most people only remember the Al Jazeera of 2003, and think it’s the same courageous channel of the Iraq invasion days, so it has a credibility it ceased to deserve years ago.

The propaganda campaign can get almost absurdly crude at times, as in this photoshopped image from an Austrian paper[9].

Under headlines saying (in German), ASSAD’S ARMY ROLLS WITH TANKS TO “MOTHER OF ALL BATTLES” and US WARNS OF REGIME MASSACRE IN ALEPPO, it shows a couple with a child walking past ruined buildings. Even from the proportions, the photo looks more than a little unconvincing; and, of course, it’s simply copied and pasted from a far less warlike scene, as the original picture below it shows. (Actually, it wasn’t even Aleppo in the background of the picture; those ruins are from Homs) [10].

Alternatively, like the BBC did, decade-old photos from elsewhere can be passed off as coming out of Syria, today[11]. This is the latest in a long line of convenient “mistakes” by the BBC, which should rename itself the British Bullshit Corporation.


Other propaganda is directed towards putting a spin on real news. One typical way is to keep reporting battles which ended (in a government victory) days ago as though they are going on right at the moment. This is why, days after the Al Qaeda terrorist gangs had been cleared out of Damascus, you still kept coming across news items which claimed fighting was going on right at the moment, citing unnamed “activists”, of course. Another is, when the truth can’t be hidden any longer, to carefully tilt the way it’s to be exposed. For instance, this is what I had to say elsewhere on the internet about an article in the British Telegraph titled Assad Regime Retakes Control of Damascus Suburbs:[12]

“What I love about this article is that it's such a perfect illustration of the NATO lie machine in action when it has to reluctantly admit facts. Since it can no longer pretend that the legitimate government of Syria is about to roll over and surrender, and it has to admit the terrorists are on the run, it complains that the Syrian army is "brutally" crushing the "rebels". Yeah, if you attack the capital of a sovereign state and it blows you away, you're the "good guys" and they're the "brutal evildoers" - if you're on the right side of the neo-neocon Western imperialist machine.
    “Just read over the article, about how the poor "rebels" (Al Qaeda terrorists) armed only with AK47s and a few rockets are being blown away with tank shells, and you can almost see the subtext: arm the poor defenceless rebels, send troops and planes to their aid! Even the reluctantly admitted fact that they "executed" (murdered) five captured soldiers was virtually because they were "forced" to.
   “The propaganda extends even to the title, which is, you'll notice, "Assad Regime Retakes Control of Damascus Suburbs", not "Syrian Government Forces Retake Control..." You're being told right at the outset whom you should take the "bad guys" to be.
   “I'd thought the British lie machine was more subtle, but I guess American influence in propaganda is rubbing off on them.”

Even otherwise respected journalists like Robert Fisk [13] have been co-opted into this campaign. Fisk, once a courageous reporter of the Zionist oppression of Palestinians, falls into the trap of condemning the Syrian and Russian governments by repeating the unproven claims of civilian massacres, which are, of course, based on the accounts of those same unnamed “activists” who – when unmasked – have invariably turned out to be NAQA tools [14][15] originating from the Imperial colony of Britain.

You’ll have noticed that these propaganda sources are invariably European. There’s a reason for that: the Empire wants the European vassals to take the lead in attacking Syria. The Nobel Peace Prizident has little appetite for unilateral action a la his predecessor.

4. Then there's the need for a friendly vassal nation on the border of the target country, to host bases for arming and training terrorists and airports close enough to launch air raids. Against Kosovo, Albania was the base; against Afghanistan, Pakistan was; Tunisia, Egypt etc served the purpose against Libya and Turkey is doing the job against Syria. Against Iran, Iraq was planned as the base of operations until the Maliki government began cosying up to Tehran; and now that Iraq’s refused to join the anti-Syrian coalition, Al Qaeda immediately began carrying out full scale attacks in Baghdad and elsewhere. Wonder why?

Keeping in mind the Imperial way of war, then, what are Assad’s options?

He has to try and disrupt the enemy’s plans as much as possible by messing up the four requirements I mentioned. These four require different strategies, and all can’t be managed at the same level.

First, Assad’s not got a hope in the propaganda war, since NAQA will simply claim whatever he says is a lie, and it controls the “international media”. Even so, as a general rule, the Empire’s terrified of the truth leaking out. This is why it attacked TV stations in Belgrade and Tripoli. This is why it keeps blocking the Syrian news agency website, SANA.  This is why its Al Qaeda allies also attacked a private TV station in Syria which was pro-Assad, without a peep of protest from the countries of NATO. But, on a whole, only those people who have functioning brains will remain unconvinced by NAQA propaganda; and how many of them are there?

Then, in the murky little episode in June[16] where a Turkish RF4E jet was downed, Assad would seem to have already proved his air defences are strong enough to make it costly for NATO murdermongers to attack. It’s not a coincidence that immediately afterwards, the Empire’s focus switched from “no fly zones” to openly providing training and material support to the Al Qaeda units on the ground. NAQA seems to have decided that at least at this stage of the war a Libya style aerial campaign would not be a great idea.

Therefore, Assad has to concentrate on knocking out the Empire’s proxies on the ground, by which, of course, I mean the Al Qaeda component of NAQA. The other gangs exist but are mostly irrelevant; in these situations it’s always the jihadists who do the actual fighting. And from recent events, it would seem that this is what he’s decided to do.

Now, to the militarily illiterate people who form the chattering classes whose opinion’s targeted by the propagandists I mentioned earlier, Assad is on the ropes[17]. The way Damascus Volcano was projected, it seemed as though the NAQA ground forces took Damascus by storm like a conquering army, but of course it wasn’t like that. Damascus and Aleppo were infiltrated [18] by small terrorist groups, which gathered until a critical mass was concentrated, and once the suicide bombing (significantly, the western lie-media stopped calling it a “suicide bombing” almost immediately and started calling it an “explosion” as though it was some kind of accident) took place, the terrorist gangs launched attacks on police stations and small, isolated army units. In street-fighting terms, it’s called a “sucker punch” – a blow landed when the opponent isn’t looking.

The problem with such “sucker punches”, of course, is that even if they knock the opponent down, they are only effective if the opponent stays down. If he gets right back up, then one’s in trouble unless one has a big brother standing by to help. And, because of Russia and China in the UN and the shooting down of the Turkish plane, there was no NATO big brother standing by to help. And once the Syrian government struck back, the NAQA gangs were out in the open, marked down for speedy destruction.

 There’s an analogy: the Tet Offensive in Vietnam in 1968[19], when Viet Cong guerrillas infiltrated and attacked multiple towns, capturing Hue and entering the compound of the US embassy in Saigon. That turned out to be another failed knock out blow, and cost the Viet Cong so badly that the rest of the war was essentially carried on by regular North Vietnamese People’s Army units, not guerrillas. Like the Damascus Volcano, once the other side reacted, the actual military result of the Tet Offensive was to bring lightly armed guerrillas into the open, where they could be speedily destroyed by regular forces whose firepower they were incapable of matching.

Therefore, Assad’s best option is to allow Al Qaeda gangs to make massed attacks, draw them into kill boxes like Aleppo, and destroy them as completely as possible. These attacks can actually be used as a way of winning defensive victories. Assad can’t win offensive victories since he can’t carry the war into Turkey or Al Qaeda controlled western Iraq, and if he assaults Al Qaeda gangs in the Syrian countryside they’ll just disperse and regroup to attack his stretched out forces. So his best strategy consists of concentrating around major cities, and waiting for NAQA to launch these massed attacks, and destroy them as they come.

This won’t allow him to win the war, but it will serve to prolong the conflict as long as possible. Now, as we’ve seen in Libya, even before the terrorist/NATO alliance captured Tripoli, the terrorists were already fighting among themselves. If Assad can keep fighting long enough, the various terrorist factions will inevitably disintegrate into mutually warring groups. At that time, Assad can try to win some of them over to his side. The Russians used this to great effect in Chechnya, where during the 1999 war, many of the militias which had opposed them in 1995 now fought on their side. Even if Assad fails to actually persuade any groups to come over, the suspicion that some of their number will defect will raise divisions and infighting between the terrorist gangs.

Also, let’s remember that the Empire and NAQA don’t have endless time; they’re operating on political and economic compulsions of their own, such as the need to run pipelines across northern Syria from Kurdish areas of Iraq[20]. Turkey can’t keep hosting Al Qaeda gangs endlessly either without imploding into violence itself, and its own Kurdish rebels are again getting active already. And it may well be that the Zionist entity may finally decide to invade Syria, which will immediately force the terror gangs to unite against them. They can’t wait for Assad to lose a grinding battle of attrition, which means they will have to push things too, and there will be more Damascus Volcano-like attempts which will allow the Syrian government to exterminate more massed groups of terrorists. NAQA is getting more desperate by the day.[21]   

I predict another major attempt to create a “knock out blow” soon, while the world’s attention is diverted to the Olympics being held in the Empire’s British colony. The most likely will be an attempt to assassinate Assad himself, or his family, as Imperial War Minister Leon Panetta has threatened[22] . It will probably not succeed, because after the suicide bombing, Assad’s security will be much more stringent.

But that doesn’t mean NAQA won’t try.

"Defeated" Syrian Army troops in Damascus after defeating NAQA



  1. thanks Bill, great analysis
    wish had your talents, alas am better at researching ;)
    sharing far and wide

  2. Another outstanding analysis by Bill. Word by word accurate.

  3. Good analysis Bill. I'd add the thought were it empire in Assad's shoes, NAQA would be accusing the guerillas in Aleppo of using the civilian populace as human shields, which in a sense they are. By forcing Assad into urban warfare, the inevitable rising civilian toll will be lambasted by the shrill western press as human rights atrocities by the regime while overlooking it was the offensive tactics of the so-called 'free syrian army' which brought hell onto the lives of the innocents. And of course any 'democracy' resulting from the overthrow of Assad will be governance by armed gangs in a nation regional of shards

    One thing where I might disagree is the 'suicide' nature of the bombing that took out the Syrian ministers, too many open questions on the nature of that assassination

  4. good call Bill

    New rift hits Syrian opposition


  5. I'm sorry what does the empire benefit from here w.r.t downing Syrian govt?

    1. I've provided a link to the planned pipelines from Iraqi Kurd areas to the sea. That's one. More can be found in my previous articles on this issue, like this one:


      You're welcome.

  6. OK. For a bunch of pipelines they will induce a civil war and overthrow a government and incessantly pressure china and Russia


    1. Do you even know the importance of pipelines.


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