How Her Visit to War-Torn Syria Led a Dutch Socialist Reporter to Lose Her Faith in the West
By Sonja van den EndeGlobal Research, September 21, 2021
CovertAction Magazine 20 September 2021
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The picture below is a frame from a smug Western documentary on the Syrian War. I wrote the caption in 2020, after viewing the documentary, which was a piece of propaganda filled with lies—a romanticized fairy tale about heroes in a self-made field hospital run by groups that the documentary, and most of Western media, benignly referred to as “the opposition” or sometimes “the democratic opposition,” but most often “the freedom fighters.”
I would more accurately call them paid mercenaries—some of them passionate Muslim fundamentalists, but many just there for the money, which is generously doled out by the CIA and its sister intelligence services in various other Western nations. They fight is to overthrow the government of Assad, who in 2014 won the Presidency by a landslide victory (which the two losing candidates claim was “manipulated”). They claim to want to liberate and democratize the Syrian people but are paid by Western countries to divide and conquer, as we saw happen in Afghanistan.
The Taliban has many similarities with Al-Qaeda, Al-Nusra, Hayat-Tahrir-al-Sham or as Arab people call all of these groups DAESH.
Taliban on the march. [Source: cfr.org]
The U.S. and its proxies have devastated large parts of the Arab world, leaving many thousands dead and displaced.
Now they are doing the same in Afghanistan, which may have suffered even more than Syria.
In August 2015, I visited Syria at the height of the war.
Syria was losing and DAESH was close to taking over government-controlled western Damascus; they were, so to speak, at the door of the gate!
I was there, with a Dutch and Belgian delegation consisting of writers, journalists and politicians, to visit Syrian government members, delegates and hospitals.
At that time, I was a member of the Dutch Socialist Party (SP) and full of aspirations and hope about modern-day socialism.
Unfortunately, I came to see that the SP does not promote socialism anymore, but turned out to be another part of the social-democratic system, or in many EU countries even liberals, with the same agenda as the neo-cons.
Our first shock was, and I dare to say made us, the delegation members’ “friends” for life, was the visit to a hospital in Harasta, a suburb of Damascus, which I knew very well.
The author visiting hospital in Harasta, a suburb of Damascus, filled with war victims. [Source: sana.sy]
I have visited Syria many times before the war and even stayed in Harasta for a few months.
Harasta was, before the war, a stronghold of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Many natives of Harasta later joined DAESH (ISIS) together with natives of Hama, also a Muslim Brotherhood stronghold, who were crushed during their uprising in 1982 by Bashar al-Assad’s father, the late Hafez al-Assad.
Western media and politicians still support the Muslim Brotherhood and do not see the facts (or don’t want to see), that they are an Islamist group that has infiltrated many Western governments.
Many of the Hama insurgents received asylum in Europe, like the Islamists from Algeria and Tunisia, in the 1990s, who became more and more radical as time passed.
The hospital that I visited in Harasta was full of young Syrian Arab Army (SAA) soldiers, men aged 18 to 25. They were injured by the jihadist, without legs, arms, eyes and their heads ripped apart, their future, destroyed by the war games of the Western-sponsored mercenaries.
Since that day, I have lost my hopes, beliefs, and faith in Western society as a whole!
Author in Harasta hospital with a wounded soldier. [Source: sana.sy]
During my stay in Syria, I also visited a refugee camp, not a Western (UN) one but a center for war and homeless refugees.
It housed many government members, like the now-deceased Minister of Information, Omran al-Zoubi, who gave us all the information, names and places of deaths or births, for the foreign jihadists, who joined ISIS.
The majority of ISIS volunteers from Europe were from Moroccan, Turkish, Tunisian, or Algerian descent, the generation—or offspring—of the asylum seekers from the nineties.
They were the ones who went through Turkey to Syria to fight for the Caliphate, for which many lost their lives.
Currently many former jihadists, their wives and children are detained in al-Hawl camp, which is situated in northern Syria and controlled by the Kurds.
A potential hotspot for future jihadists, the al-Hawl camp is a mini-state inside Syria.
The jihadists ought to be tried under Syrian law, but the occupation of northern Syria by the Kurds makes this impossible because the Kurds are a Western-sponsored minority.
The Syrian government is seen, by the West, as an illegitimate government, even after ten years of bloody war and carnage, with Assad being considered a dictator who killed his own people.
Syrian Minister of Information Omran-al-Zoubi, in the middle. [Photo courtesy of Sonja Van den Ende]
While staying in the (empty) hotel, overlooking the city of Damascus, I could see people rushing over the streets, the jihadists attacking with rockets from the suburbs of eastern Ghouta and Douma, killing many innocent people who just went out to buy food or medicine or to visit a doctor or hospital.
This was awful to watch. The MIGs (Russian fighter aircraft) dropped bombs or fired on the jihadists.
The shooting of the jihadists was in the news in many Western countries under the headline: “Assad is killing his own people.”
But what I observed was the jihadists—and not Assad’s forces—killing civilians in cold blood as they walked down the street.
During my visit to Syria, my group paid a visit to the Grand Mufti of Syria, Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun, who tragically lost a son in the war after he was shot by a Western-sponsored jihadist.
While we were visiting the mufti, two rockets hit the neighboring building.
For a moment, we thought it was all over—that we would not survive the day. Some men started praying, the lights went out and we smelled dust and smoke everywhere.
Luckily, no one was injured and we were able to get out and return to the hotel.
Along the way we saw many cars with bullet holes, destroyed buildings, injured people and Syrian civilians with a haunted look in their eyes—after all, every minute could be their last.
The experience we had was life-shaping for many of us, and will remain with us forever. There is a saying, or a song, in Dutch with the text: “Although you are out of war, will the war ever go out of you?” That’s exactly what people experienced who were in the war zone.
The delegation, visiting a TV station. [Photo courtesy of Sonja van den Ende]
Going home was easy, the journey was easy, but leaving the people behind was difficult, knowing that many of them would not survive and that many more young men would be killed in the war.
But after a few days at home and trying to live a normal life again, it turned out to be even more difficult than expected.
This is because I was now seen by many in the Socialist Party as a pariah, a deranged woman who went to visit the “child murderer” Assad.
Suddenly, I was considered to be a right-wing radical and anti-semite.
I went around the country with the SP’s spokesman for Foreign Affairs and held information evenings about what was actually going on in Syria. This did not go down well with the party leadership. The spokesperson had to radically change his views, and stop giving these information evenings.
Logo of Dutch Socialist Party, whose leadership did not welcome anti-war views on Syria. [Source: wikipedia.org]
He was also forced to support the White Helmets—a “humanitarian” relief organization that provided a cover for propaganda and intelligence operations—and I had to step down.
The Socialist Party dramatically changed its course and now supported the White Helmets, which had their (financial) headquarters in Amsterdam.
That is until their leader, James LeMesurier, was found dead in Istanbul, Turkey, probably murdered by MI6 (British Secret Service).
His services were no longer needed, now that the West had lost the war in Syria.
Russia at the time became the new target to be demonized. After all, it had helped those stubborn Syrians defeat the jihadists and defend their country.
After Russia was blamed for the crash of a Malaysian jet over the Ukraine, a so-called citizen platform of journalists was created, called Bellingcat, which was actually a source of anti-Russian propaganda.
When I came home, I also had to report to the local police station and talk to totally ignorant police officers who asked me what I had been doing there in Syria and if I had carried out any terrorist activities!
Even my children were assigned a psychologist because they could suffer from their mother’s visit with a “child murderer.”
Naturally, I was myself monitored by the Dutch intelligence service; after all, I was now the enemy and the jihadists the friends of the kingdom!
Together with the (small) Communist Party and a large group of Christian Syrians, whose representatives were also with us on the trip to Syria, we still tried to draw attention to the matter, but life was made very difficult for us and we were practically ordered to keep silent.
Many of us were afraid for our jobs or families because, by that time in 2015, many “Syrian refugees” had already entered Germany and the Netherlands.
This is called a “refugee crisis” which could mean the downfall of the West, especially now that a Covid-19 crisis has arrived.
Most of the so-called refugees were radicalized ex-Muslim brothers from Harasta, Ghouta, Hama and eastern Aleppo.
As I wrote the above, the native jihadists lived in this region and also in Homs, the Baba Amr district. There, on my next trip to Syria in 2018, I saw the offer from the UN refugee office, written on the walls, to apply for asylum in Europe.
They came to Europe in large numbers—at least two million—the offer of “Mutti” Merkel eagerly accepted.
Many of the refugees have come illegally and not just from Syria, but also from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Quite a few are former ISIS (DAESH) fighters with their families.
When we drove through the neighborhoods of Harasta in August 2015, in armored cars accompanied by soldiers, these neighborhoods were already completely empty, most of the civilians having already accepted the offer of the UN in 2015 and “fleeing” to Europe.
The jihadists had taken over these neighborhoods, native and ISIS.
Together they killed the Syrians who lived in the then government-controlled area, doing their daily shopping.
Some native families were still present (not many) in the above-mentioned neighborhoods, because they were probably too poor to flee or had joined the jihadists first. Many of them were later used as human shields.
A shock went through the Western media when it became known that many Alawite women in Ghouta and Aleppo had been held captive and put in cages and thus displayed by the jihadists as apostate Muslims.
But the images were old news, from 2014; I had forwarded these images a long time ago, but politicians and news outlets never responded.
Now, five years later and after many more deaths, it came as a news flash!
From everything I have witnessed, the main narrative promoted in the West about the Syrian war is a lie. Politicians and the media lie, and even the Socialist Party has been caught in the war fever and has used smear tactics to marginalize anti-war voices.
The only positive in the whole story is that Syria has stood up for itself and will not be destroyed by Western powers. Russia and China will not let it happen and, moreover, the Syrians themselves will not let it happen.
The Syrian people have learned their lesson, a terrible lesson, with the loss of many lives and the partial destruction of their Motherland.
They will not be friends anymore with their invaders, too much has happened and too many deaths have occurred.
The West has gambled, but this time it went wrong for them as it underestimated the resolve of the Syrian people—much like that of the Vietnamese a generation earlier.
One thing I have learned from my experience is that the Syrians are not to be messed with.
They are tough—much more so than any European—they love their country, family and people above anything in this world and after ten years of destruction, it is clear that they are still united and will defeat any would-be foreign conqueror.
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Sonja is a freelance journalist from the Netherlands who has written about Syria, the Middle East, and Russia among other topics. Sonja can be reached at: email@example.com.
Featured image: [Cartoon courtesy of Steve Brown]
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11 November 2017The original source of this article is CovertAction Magazine