NATO: From Covert Sponsor to Artillery for Terrorists in Syria + Assange Rips the Matrix by Finian Cunningham

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Image by Michael Fleshman via Flickr

by Finian Cunningham
Writer, Dandelion Salad
East Africa
Crossposted from Strategic Culture Foundation
March 1, 2020

NATO member Turkey was recently caught out providing artillery support for terror groups in Syria’s Idlib province; now leader of the NATO alliance, the United States, is hinting at Russia and Syria holding dialogue with the terrorists to curb the upsurge in conflict.

As Syria’s endgame closes, the protagonists and their proxies are coming more clearly into focus. NATO’s covert shadowy connection with the jihadist insurgents it has sponsored for regime change is being flushed out as the Syrian army and its Russian ally home in on the last stand of the terror groups.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov this week ruled out any mediation with Tahrir Hayat al Sham (HTS), the main terrorist network holding out in Idlib in northwest Syria. Lavrov was referring to comments made earlier by US envoy James Jeffrey who suggested that HTS was “not a terrorist organization any more” and therefore might be included in negotiations for de-escalation.

The top Russian diplomat said the US envoy had previously dropped similar hints about rehabilitating HTS, formerly known as Nusra Front, an offshoot of the al Qaeda terror cartel, related to Islamic State (or ISIS). As Lavrov points out, these chameleonic groups are internationally proscribed terror organizations. They are not exempt from targeting under past de-escalation deals between Russia and Turkey.

It seems astounding that the US – which declares itself to be in a war against terrorism – is flagrantly acting as a mediator to spare these same terrorists from definitive military defeat.

The increasing violence in Syria over recent months is a result of jihadist militants continuing their attacks against civilians, as well as against the Syrian armed forces and their Russian allies in spite of several de-escalation attempts. The terrorists have used their areas of control in Idlib and Aleppo countryside to launch rocket attacks on government-controlled areas. Under the September 2018 deescalation agreement between Russia and Turkey, Ankara was obliged to facilitate a ceasefire by the jihadist groups which it is presumed to have influence over. But Turkey failed to implement its obligations.

Hence the Syrian government forces and their Russian ally were entitled to go after the culprits.

Turkey’s protests about the offensive serves to expose Ankara’s association with the terror groups. President Erdogan’s threats of deploying thousands of more troops in Syria’s north is in effect an admission of Turkey providing military support for the terrorists. It gives new meaning for the purpose of Turkish military observation posts along the border; more like command-and-assist posts.

Syria and Russia have previously accused Ankara of covertly supplying the terrorists with arms and cross-border logistics. What is quickly transpiring in the latest conflict phase is how Turkey’s state forces are openly participating with the illegally armed militants, as if the latter were a division of the Turkish army. Given Turkey’s NATO membership, the implication here is daunting: NATO, evidently, is in overt league with the terrorists waging war against Syria.

That collaboration was manifest last week on February 19 when Syrian army positions at Nayrab in Idlib came under attack from jihadist militants, believed to be HTS. The attack was supported by Turkish artillery and tank fire. Russian SU-24s were called in to repel the ground offensive. Two Turk troops were killed in the fighting.

Turkey’s Defense Minister HulusiAkar subsequently made an appeal to the US to supply Patriot air defense batteries. It is not clear if the US will actually take that step which would mark a dangerous escalation against Russian-backed Syrian forces.

The US and NATO envoys have, however, voiced renewed support for Turkey amid growing tensions with Syria and Russia.

It has long been suspected that the US and other NATO members have been arming the anti-government militants in Syria since the war erupted in 2011, including known terror groups, such as HTS and its myriad incarnations.

A recent auditing report by the Pentagon found that thousands of US weapons worth over $700 million have unaccountably gone missing from its military warehouses across the Middle East and in particular from arms depots in Kuwait and near the Jordanian-Syrian border. Militants in Syria have been documented as being armed with US-made shoulder-fired missiles (MANPADs) and anti-tank TOW rockets. The linkage to the Pentagon would therefore seem evident.

But what is emerging is the stark configuration of NATO troops alongside terror cadres on the battlefield.

The suggestion by US envoy James Jeffrey that Syria and Russia should talk terms with the terrorist HTS further demonstrates the allegiance between Washington, its NATO allies and the militants.

Syria, with the full support of Russia, has vowed to take back every inch of its territory from the foreign-backed insurgents who have done their utmost to destroy that state, committing unspeakable atrocities against the nation in the process.

International law mandates the Syrian government to take the battle to the end in order to crush and eradicate its enemies. No other state would tolerate anything less. We can only imagine the response by the US towards insurgents in its territory, and if Russia were to somehow call upon Washington to negotiate a truce.

Cornered in Idlib, the NATO powers are moving to salvage their terror proxies, by either giving them military cover or, as Washington is attempting to do, cut some slack through ceasefire negotiations.

Assange Rips the Matrix

by Finian Cunningham
Writer, Dandelion Salad
East Africa
Crossposted from Sputnik, Feb. 28, 2020
March 1, 2020

The persecution of Julian Assange is one of those breakthrough moments when suddenly people realise that almost everything they have been told to believe is not true.

This week the Australian-born journalist and publisher has been subjected to a show trial in a British court with the threat of extradition to the United States looming. If he is extradited, the 48-year old is facing 175 years – a death sentence – in prison on wholly contrived espionage charges.

Assange is being persecuted for the sole and simple reason that he exposed war crimes and systematic corruption by the US government and its Western allies. His years of arbitrary detention and the torture endured over the past year while in solitary confinement in a British dungeon are a grim warning to all citizens. The warning is that their supposed democratic rights are non-existent as far as the powers in Washington and London are concerned. If you dare speak truth to power, then this fate will also be yours.

Thus, when it gets down to it, the harsh reality is that there is no such thing as democracy in the US or Britain. Elections and media are but window-dressing to hide the brutal truth that fundamental, basic democratic rights of free speech and due legal process are not inalienable principles, but rather are dispensable privileges whenever the powers-that-be ordain so.

Julian Assange’s incarceration and pillorying is like an inquisition from medieval times happening in the year 2020. He dared expose the rampant, systematic crimes of so-called authorities through his Wikileaks site. His blasphemy was to expose the charlatans and mass-killers who masquerade as pious leaders.

Those revelations showed the public that the pretensions of democracy and rule of law by the American and British governments are nothing but hypocritical, empty posturing. Assange’s courageous publishing work demonstrated how those governments have waged criminal wars and committed genocidal crimes; how they have made a mockery of international law and democratic rights. And for that heroic service to public truth and empowerment with the truth, Assange is being pilloried like a rebellious serf by overlords posing as “governments” and “judges”.

Assange’s show trial is also powerfully revealing of the real nature of Western so-called news media. Not one of the major US or British news outlets have given any coverage, let alone comment, regarding his week-long extradition trial.

A journalist and publisher is being whipsawed in the court as if he is a dangerous terrorist. He is denied elementary due process by being confined to a glass-cage dock, not able to communicate with his defence lawyers, unable to even hear what his accusers are claiming.

His extradition, to be determined at a future court hearing, seems like a foregone conclusion, such is the bias and hostility towards Assange from the presiding British judge, Vanessa Baraitser.

Given the international outcry from hundreds of doctors and UN representatives over Assange’s torture endured while in British custody, and given the grotesque abuse of legal process by the American and British so-called authorities, the case should be thrown out immediately – if there were any modicum of justice.

The vendetta against Assange tells us what kind of societies citizens (or rather subjects) are living under in the US and Britain. These states are oligarchies where “democratic rights” are strictly conditional on subjects not stepping out of line, such as criticising war crimes or illegal global spying.

Julian Assange has torn through the largely invisible matrix of propaganda and power that people really live under. The saccharin myths of “democracy” and “free speech” are shown for the ugly, putrid reality that they are. And the Western corporate-controlled media in their silence about what is going on are also condemned for the lying servile machines that they are.

We must not accept the fate being prepared for Assange as if it is inevitable or as if we are powerless to overthrow it. The first step towards freedom is truth, and thanks to Julian Assange, we have the power to be free. We know the tyrannical nature of the governments that presume to rule over us in our names. There must be a popular uprising in defence of Assange. Because no-one is free until he is.

A final note by way of testimony: anyone who has been enlightened by Wikileaks’ revelations over the past decade will know that the current escalation of conflict in Syria’s Idlib is due to NATO powers illegally occupying that country. They will know that NATO powers have for years covertly sponsored terror groups to carry out a criminal regime-change war. By contrast, anyone who relies on Western governments and mainstream media for “information” will have no idea whatsoever about what is really going in Syria. A wider war could erupt any day and those who are brainwashed by Western regimes and their media are impotent to stop it. The empowerment of citizens by Julian Assange and Wikileaks over the years is the difference between ending wars or fueling them.

Finian Cunningham, is a columnist at the Strategic Culture Foundation, Sputnik, and a Writer on Dandelion Salad. He can be reached at

From the archives:

Chris Hedges and Joe Lauria: The Julian Assange Extradition Trial

Assange Hearing Day 1 by Craig Murray + USA v Julian Assange: Extradition Day 2 + The Assange Story: Wikileaks Founder’s Journey From Whistleblowing Hero To Exile

John Pilger: Julian Assange Must Be Freed, Not Betrayed + The Prosecution of Julian Assange

Chris Hedges: This Isn’t A Trial By Any Stretch Of The Imagination–It’s A Political Farce + Hedges: It’s Very Dangerous Because First It’s Julian Assange And Then It’s The Rest Of Us

Trump’s Syrian See-Saw: From Pullout to Pillage by Jim Kavanagh

Trump and NY Times Admit US Imperialist War in Syria by Finian Cunningham