America siding with ‘terrorists’ like al-Nusra? It’s not a conspiracy theory – Robert Fisk/The Independent
No apologies for returning today to the strange case of the “moderate” Jabhat al-Nusra rebels, the throat-cutters and executioners who are playing the anti-Isis card to woo the US.
Their leader, you may recall, told Qatar’s Al Jazeera channel that his al-Qaeda affiliated warriors will oppose both Isis and Bashar al-Assad – and even protect Syria’s Christian and Alawite minorities. The usual American nomenklatura are telling the world this is tosh. It’s the “conspiracy theorists” who are to blame, they say, for suggesting that the US might send barrel-loads of new weapons to such men. No. The US would never deal with those who are on its infamous, though pointless, “terrorist list”. Besides, Qatar would never promote these killers as moderates – would they?
Well, first, let’s take another look at all these conspiracy theorists. By chance, that inestimable French journal Le Monde Diplomatique this month carries a wodge of articles under the title “Did you say conspiracy?”, painfully dissecting how many false-flag stories turned out to be true. There’s the Mukden incident, for example, a 1931 Chinese attack on imperial Japan which turned out to be a Japanese attack on China and led to the Japanese invasion of Manchuria, the Rape of Nanking, et al.
Then there’s the 1933 burning of the Reichstag which might have been started by the Nazis rather than the communists; the successful – and real – CIA-MI5 plot to overthrow Iran’s elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh, in which bombs were supposedly planted by (yet again) communists; Israel’s 1954 “Operation Susannah” in which Israeli-organised attacks on UK and US buildings in Cairo were blamed on Egyptian nationalists; and the 1964 Tonkin incident, when America reported totally imaginary North Vietnamese attacks on a US warship, which led to the very real launching of the Vietnam War. Interestingly, Latin America provides even more proof of real US plots: Guatemala, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Nicaragua, Cuba, you name it.
The French monthly also carries a very fair critique of those who believe George W and his chums engineered the 9/11 attacks – as if a US president who screwed up everything he ever did in the Middle East was capable of bringing down the World Trade Centre – and of the Arab world’s obsession with Western conspiracies that allow dictators and nations to duck their own responsibility for terrible events.
Thus, the lie that a female Israeli official had sex with Arab leaders to blackmail them into supporting pro-Israeli policies; the perpetrator of this nonsense, the Egyptian newspaper Al Masry Al Youm, later apologised – but, courtesy of the internet, the lie is still repeated.
Western powers, Arabs are told, conspired to create the 2011 Middle East revolutions to produce instability and civil war in the Arab world. The Americans planned the insurgency against Assad and the coup against Mubarak – the former to rid Israel of its most powerful neighbour, the latter intended to bring the Muslim Brotherhood to power and “diminish the greatness of Egypt”. Egyptian activists protesting the brutality of the coup’s winners – the army – are accused of taking money from Western intelligence agencies to further their cause. Even Brigadier-General-President al-Sisi believes this stuff. Algerians still claim that the French Deuxième Bureau (an institution that ceased to exist in 1940) is today the puppeteer behind all Algerian political movements.
So I join, I think, the average reader of The Independent in responding to this tomfoolery with a great English expression: what a load of old cobblers! But wait.
When I was in Syria a few days ago, I heard several times that the Iranians, who have lost their own men defending the Assad regime, are stingy when it comes to economic assistance. One source in Damascus told me that they demand guarantees of real estate on any expenditure for the Syrian military. I don’t know if this is true, but just take a look at the latest estimates of the extremely undistinguished UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura who now announces that Iran spends, as much as £4bn a year on the Syrian regime – excluding, by the way, the cost of Iranian military personnel, the Hezbollah and Iraqi Shias fighting for Syria – a figure only outdone by a gentleman at the “US Institute of Peace” who puts the amount close to £13bn.
And all this money supposedly comes from a country whose economy has been broken by sanctions? It doesn’t take a pea-brain to work out that if Iran still intends to manufacture nuclear weapons – the Israeli line – and has so much money to splurge on its allies, then it remains a far greater threat to Israel and Sunni states than al-Nusra or Isis or any other crackpot Islamists in the region. And thus the Qataris are today officially joining the campaign to “clean” the al-Qaeda killers of al-Nusra. A conspiracy theory, of course.
Think again. Read the words of the Qatari Foreign Minister, Khaled al-Attiyah, in an interview with Le Monde last month. “We are clearly against all extremism,” he stated, “but, apart from Daesh [Isis], all [sic] these groups are fighting to overthrow the [Assad] regime. The moderates cannot say to the Nusra Front … ‘We won’t work with you’. You have to look at the situation and be realistic.”
In other words, al-Nusra’s sole aim is to destroy the Assad regime and, ergo, it is on the same side as the “moderates” and worthy of the same military assistance. If the “moderates” can’t say to al-Nusra, “We won’t work with you”, then how could the US?
Intelligence reports to the French government have been recording US air strikes against Isis that have avoided endangering positions held by al-Nusra. When Isis arrived in its thousands to assault Palmyra last month – for the most part, in broad daylight – not one US plane appeared in Syrian skies. And all this when US pilots have been returning from almost 75 per cent of their missions against Isis with bombs still on board because they couldn’t find targets.
You don’t have to be a reporter, let alone a conspiracy theorist, to see the warning lights around the “war on terror” story in Syria. Because some of the terrorists are soon going to be our terrorists – as long as they fight the even more horrible terrorists and the Assad terrorists at the same time. All they need is more cash and more weapons. And I bet you they’ll get them, courtesy of the ol’ US of A. Just don’t mention the word conspiracy.