No need for conspiracy: US seeks ‘regime preservation’ in Syria

by Charles Davis
The problem I have with Seymour Hersh’s latest thinly and anonymously sourced conspiracy theory about Syria is not that I find it implausible that the U.S. government would conspire to preserve the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad — by, in part, passing it intelligence on “jihadists” through a third party — but that we already know this is the case and need not rely on the word of a chatty “former adviser” to the Pentagon who happens to be friends with a famous journalist.

The real problem for Hersh and others like him these days is that ever since the Arab Spring came to Syria in 2011 they have cast in terms of conspiracy, abandoning class analysis to suggest it was, from the start, or damn near close it, a U.S-Israeli plot to effect regime change, not the predictable and indeed predicted result of authoritarian neoliberalism, poverty and the closing off of any means for Syrians to achieve meaningful reform through politics or pacifism.

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Raging with the Machine: Robert Fisk, Seymour Hersh and Syria

Yassin al-Haj Saleh is a Syrian writer who spent 16 years in the regime’s prisons. In this exclusive for PULSE, Saleh, who has been described as the “conscience of Syria“, discusses the distorted lens through which most people are viewing the conflict.

In the West, Robert Fisk and Seymour Hersh are considered critical journalists. They occupy dissident positions in the English-speaking press. Among Syrians, however, they are viewed very differently.

The problem with their writings on Syria is that it is deeply centered on the West. The purported focus of their analysis – Syria, its people and the current conflict – serves only as backdrop to their commentary where ordinary Syrians are often invisible. For Fisk and Hersh the struggle in Syria is about ancient sects engaged in primordial battle. What really matters for them are the geopolitics of the conflict, specifically where the US fits into this picture.

On the topic of chemical weapons, Fisk and Hersh, completely ignore the antecedents of last summer’s attack on Ghouta .

A reader who relies exclusively on Fisk/Hersh for their understanding of Syria would never know that the Assad regime had used chemical weapons several times before the August 21, 2013 massacre in Ghouta. I was there at the time. I saw victims of sarin gas on two occasions in Eastern Ghouta and I met doctors treating them. The victims were from Jobar, which was hit with chemical weapons in April 2013 and from Harasta, which was hit in May 2013.

It is shocking that investigative journalists such as Fisk and Hersh know nothing about these attacks. They write as if Ghouta was the first time chemical weapons were used in Syria. Their credibility and objectivity is compromised by these omissions.

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‘Iran got no nukes and US knows that’

Lucy Kafanov of RT interviews legendary journalist Seymour Hersh about his most recent article on Iran and the Obama administration’s attempts to discredit him.

Washington is ignoring its own intelligence because it is hell-bent on finding nuclear weapons that do not exist, Pulitzer-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh told RT.

Syria Calling

Iran is a crucial factor motivating renewed Israeli-Syrian negotiations.
Iran is a crucial factor motivating renewed Israeli-Syrian negotiations.

The Obama Administration’s chance to engage in a Middle East peace. Seymour Hersh’s articles are always an event. In his latest he reveals among other things that Obama put pressure on Israel to stop its assault on Gaza for which Dick Cheney disparaged him as…well, ‘pro-Palestinian’. As usual, there is very little actual analysis in the report. Most of it is quotes from different high placed individuals, and Hersh very rarely alerts readers to the Israel lobby connections of most of his American interviewees. Over at MondoWeiss Jeff Blankfort observes that he is ‘no less sure than [he] was before that Israel does not want to negotiate a deal with Syria, only give the appearance of wanting to do so for global PR reasons. One of the reasons Erdogan was so furious at Peres is that two or three days before the attack on Gaza, Olmert had been meeting with Erdogan and that a deal between Syria and Israel had, according to him, been agreed upon and Olmert never said a word to Erdogan about the forthcoming attack even though he obviously knew about it and knew that it would be a deal breaker which was Israel’s intent and I believe one of the reasons for the attack on Gaza at that time. Assad knows all this and that is why he is so publicly willing to re-open the negotiations and to put the onus on Israel when it starts backing off. Assad is not about to turn its back on either Hezbollah or Hamas whatever happens because his support for both groups is the source of his prestige in the Arab world beyond the palaces of the Sheikhs. As far as Obama’s pressure on Israel to pull back before the inauguration, I’m not buying that as anything but an effort by the Repubs to damage him in the eyes of the lobby. Israel obviously intended to get the job over with quickly and before he took office and that he has still not pressured Israel to open its borders or hold back arms shipments tells me he is still in thrall to the lobby in keeping with the Democratic Party tradition.’

When the Israelis’ controversial twenty-two-day military campaign in Gaza ended, on January 18th, it also seemed to end the promising peace talks between Israel and Syria. The two countries had been engaged for almost a year in negotiations through intermediaries in Istanbul. Many complicated technical matters had been resolved, and there were agreements in principle on the normalization of diplomatic relations. The consensus, as an ambassador now serving in Tel Aviv put it, was that the two sides had been “a lot closer than you might think.”

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