Tag Archives: Robert Fisk

Isis was quick to understand a truth the West must now confront: that the national borders imposed by colonial powers 100 years ago are becoming meaningless, says Robert Fisk

Isis: In a borderless world, the days when we could fight foreign wars and be safe at home may be long gone

By Robert Fisk@indyvoices

Early in 2014, Isis released one of its first videos. Largely unseen in Europe, it had neither the slick, cutting-edge professionalism of its later execution tapes nor the haunting “nasheed” music that accompanies most of its propaganda. Instead, a hand-held camera showed a bulldozer pushing down a rampart of sand that had marked the border between Iraq and Syria. As the machine destroyed the dirt revetment, the camera panned down to a handwritten poster lying in the sand. “End of Sykes-Picot”, it said.

Like many hundreds of thousands of Arabs in the Middle East, for whom Sykes-Picot was an almost cancerous expression, I watched this early Isis video in Beirut. The bloody repercussions of the borders that the British and French diplomats, Mark Sykes and François Georges-Picot, drew in secret during the First World War – originally giving Syria, Mount Lebanon and northern Iraq to the French, and Palestine, Transjordan and the rest of Iraq to the British – are known to every Arab, Christian and Muslim and, indeed, every Jew in the region. They eviscerated the governorates of the old dying Ottoman empire and created artificial nations in which borders, watchtowers and hills of sand separated tribes, families and peoples. They were an Anglo-French colonial production.

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The ‘moderates’ have disappeared — there are no good guys and bad guys in the Syrian war

BY ROBERT FISK

The Russian air force in Syria has flown straight into the West’s fantasy air space. The Russians, we are now informed, are bombing the “moderates” in Syria – “moderates” whom even the Americans admitted two months ago, no longer existed.

It’s rather like the ISIS (the self-styled Islamic State) fighters who left Europe to fight for the “Caliphate”. Remember them? Scarcely two months ago, our political leaders – and leader writers – were warning us all of the enormous danger posed by “home-grown” Islamists who were leaving Britain and other European countries and America to fight for the monsters of ISIS.

Then the hundreds of thousands of Muslim refugees began trekking up the Balkans towards Europe after risking death in the Mediterranean – and we were all told by the same political leaders to be fearful that ISIS killers were among them.

It’s amazing how European Muslim fighters fly to Turkey to join Isis, and a few weeks later, they’re drowning in leaky boats or tramping back again and taking trains from Hungary to Germany. But if this nonsense was true, where did they get the time for all the terrorist training they need in order to attack us when they get back to Europe?

It is possible, of course, that this was mere story-telling. By contrast, the chorus of horror that has accompanied Russia’s cruel air strikes this past week has gone beyond sanity.

Let’s start with a reality check. The Russian military are killers who go for the jugular. They slaughtered the innocent of Chechnya to crush the Islamist uprising there, and they will cut down the innocent of Syria as they try to crush a new army of Islamists and save the ruthless regime of Bashar al-Assad.

The Syrian army, some of whose members are war criminals, have struggled ferociously to preserve the state – and used barrel bombs to do it. They have also fought to the death.

“American officials” – those creatures beloved of The New York Times – claim that the Syrian army does not fight Isis. If true, who on earth killed the 56,000 Syrian soldiers – the statistic an official secret, but nonetheless true – who have so far died in the Syrian war? The preposterous Free Syrian Army (FSA)?

This rubbish has reached its crescendo in the on-again off-again saga of the Syrian “moderates”. These men were originally military defectors to the FSA, which America and European countries regarded as a possible pro-Western force to be used against the Syrian government army. But the FSA fell to pieces, corrupted, and the “moderates” defected all over again, this time to the Islamist Nusrah Front or to Isis, selling their American-supplied weapons to the highest bidder or merely retiring quietly – and wisely – to the countryside where they maintained a few scattered checkpoints.

Washington admitted their disappearance, bemoaned their fate, concluded thatnew “moderates” were required, persuaded the CIA to arm and train 70 fighters, and this summer packed them off across the Turkish border to fight – whereupon all but 10 were captured by Nusrah and at least two of them were executed by their captors. Just two weeks ago, I heard in person one of the most senior ex-US officers in Iraq – David Petraeus’s former No. 2 in Baghdad – announce that the “moderates” had collapsed long ago. Now you see them – now you don’t.

But within hours of Russia’s air assaults last weekend, Washington, The New York Times, CNN, the poor old BBC and just about every newspaper in the Western world resurrected these ghosts and told us that the Ruskies werebombing the brave “moderates” fighting Bashar’s army in Syria – the very “moderates” who, according to the same storyline from the very same sources a few weeks earlier, no longer existed. Our finest commentators and experts –always a dodgy phrase – joined in the same chorus line.

So now a few harsh factoids. The Syrian army are drawing up the operational target lists for the Russian air force. But Vladimir Putin has his own enemies in Syria.

Continue reading The ‘moderates’ have disappeared — there are no good guys and bad guys in the Syrian war

Fisk on Syria: “Assad faces a well-armed & ruthless enemy whose Islamist supporters are receiving help from the West.”

Robert Fisk: The bloody truth about Syria’s uncivil war

Those trying to topple Assad have surprised the army with their firepower and brutal tactics

By: Robert Fisk

A few hours after the ferocious attack on Damascus by the Free Syrian Army began last month, the new Syrian minister of information, Omran Zouhbi, turned on journalists in the capital. “What are you doing here in Damascus?” he roared. “You should be out with our soldiers!” And within a day, tired images of a primly smiling President Bashar al-Assad and pictures of Syrian troops happily kissing children were replaced by raw – and real – newsreel footage of commandos fighting their way across Baghdad Street under fire from the rebel opponents of the regime, grimy-faced, running from street corners, shooting from the cover of walls and terraces. “We’ve cleaned up here,” one tired but very angry officer said. “So now we’re going to get the rest of those bastards.” Never before – not even in the 1973 war when the Syrian army stormed Observatory Ridge on the heights of the Golan – had the Syrian public witnessed anything as real as this on their television sets.

Continue reading Fisk on Syria: “Assad faces a well-armed & ruthless enemy whose Islamist supporters are receiving help from the West.”

Robert Fisk: Syrian war of lies and hypocrisy

The West’s real target here is not Assad’s brutal regime but his ally, Iran, and its nuclear weapons

Has there ever been a Middle Eastern war of such hypocrisy? A war of such cowardice and such mean morality, of such false rhetoric and such public humiliation? I’m not talking about the physical victims of the Syrian tragedy. I’m referring to the utter lies and mendacity of our masters and our own public opinion – eastern as well as western – in response to the slaughter, a vicious pantomime more worthy of Swiftian satire than Tolstoy or Shakespeare.

While Qatar and Saudi Arabia arm and fund the rebels of Syria to overthrow Bashar al-Assad’s Alawite/Shia-Baathist dictatorship, Washington mutters not a word of criticism against them. President Barack Obama and his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, say they want a democracy in Syria. But Qatar is an autocracy and Saudi Arabia is among the most pernicious of caliphate-kingly-dictatorships in the Arab world. Rulers of both states inherit power from their families – just as Bashar has done – and Saudi Arabia is an ally of the Salafist-Wahabi rebels in Syria, just as it was the most fervent supporter of the medieval Taliban during Afghanistan’s dark ages.

Continue reading Robert Fisk: Syrian war of lies and hypocrisy