Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, Mark Taliano, Leslie Robinson, Jeremy Brind April 8, 2021

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Welcome back to Gorilla Radio’s Home Edition, recorded April 5th, 2021

March marks the 10th anniversary of the regime-change war against Syria. Following the well-worn pattern, sanctions preceded military action, as animus against the country was stoked through the usual acceptable media sources. The script parroted by those press outlets changed little from Afghanistan and Iraq, to Libya then Syria; the destruction of these societies was all for peace and betterment of the people. But where those others fell, Syria remained standing. And so, the war goes on.

Mark Taliano is a retired teacher whose next career as researcher and investigative reporter led him to travel to Syria to discover for himself the truth behind the brutal war against the population there. The result of his 2016 dispatches from the country is the book, Voices from Syria, recently revised and reissued in a second edition.

Mark Taliano in the first half.

Transcript by Rawan Mahmasa:

Welcome back to Gorilla Radio’s Home Edition, recorded April 5th, 2021. Well, March marks the 10th anniversary of the regime change war against Syria. Following the well-worn pattern, sanctions preceded military action as animus against the country was stoked through the usual acceptable media sources. The script, parroted by these press outlets changed a little from Afghanistan and Iraq to Libya, then Syria. The destruction of these societies was all for peace and betterment of the people. But where those others fell, Syria remained standing. 

And so the war goes on. Mark Taliano is a retired teacher whose next career as researcher and investigative reporter led him to travel to Syria to discover for himself the truth behind the brutal war against the population there. The results of his 2016 dispatches from the country as the book Voices from Syria, recently revised and reissued in a second edition. Mark Taliano in the first half. And terror isn’t always borne of bombs falling from the sky. There is to the existential fear of losing one’s home due to a dysfunctional economic system. 

Call it a war on the poor. Leslie Robinson and Jeremy Brind are volunteer tenant organizers with V-Tech, the Victoria Tenants Action Group, a quote, membership based organization committed to transforming the housing system and ensuring access to housing for all. Leslie Robinson and Jeremy Brind and tenant issues from the municipal, provincial and federal levels in the second half. But first, Mark Taliano  refuting the persisting mainstream media narrative on embattled Syria. 

C.C: Welcome back to the program, Mark. 

Hi, Chris. Nice to be talking to you again.

C.C: Well, it’s nice to talk to you. And it’s been quite a while, almost five years since the last time we talked about your books, first edition before marketing to the updated and revised version. What’s the latest news you’re getting from your friends and contacts in Syria? 

Well, the latest news is James Jeffrey, former U.S. ambassador to Syria. He has admitted that al- Joulani , who is the top al-Qaeda boss in Syria, are our allies. OK, but there’s nothing new about this except that the Mainstream Everything denies it. But he’s admitted that. And we know we know this from earlier disclosures, from open-source Western sources. So Idlib is al-Qaeda Central. And that’s where the aid from Canada goes ….

And most of the aid goes directly to al-Qaeda because al-Qaeda in Syria, they’re called Jabhat Al Nusra the same thing. And in addition to that, we have been been supporting al-Qaeda and ISIS throughout the war and ISIS are also Western assets. Also, we are waging criminal economic warfare against every single Syrian citizen, man, woman, child, boy, girl. The sanctions do not have U.N. Security Council approval and are criminal. And they are destroying their economy and destroying their currency as well, which is all by design. 

And Western officials have admitted to this as well. And it’s nothing new about this. So they basically have no fuel or very little. They have huge lines to get fuel and they cannot rebuild… Canadian politicians, pretend they’re concerned about humanitarian concerns, they’re not concerned at all for a number of reasons, notwithstanding the fact that we support al-Qaeda and ISIS. But the criminal economic embargo, which is collective punishment against every Syrian, prevents rebuilding or impedes rebuilding. 

And it prevents Syrians from getting on with their life and prevents refugees from returning to Syria and so on. And of course, that is the plan. The whole war was well planned and preordained and the plan is to destroy the country. One of the biggest myths, and I don’t know how many people still believe it, is this notion of humanitarian warfare while supporting al-Qaeda, ISIS and destroying a country as they destroyed Libya. 

Yes, they supported al-Qaeda there. They call them Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. There’s different branches and different names. They destroyed Libya the same way. The empire does not wage humanitarian wars. These are anti humanitarian by any measure. Empire claims it wants a rules based order, but the rules are empire’s rules. So it’s like a criminal saying, Well, you’re going to be following my rules. Meanwhile, International Law is there, and the coalition, which includes Canada waging war against Syria, is committing Supreme International War Crimes. 

The Nuremberg Principles and International Law were established after World War One to prevent needless wars of aggression and to prevent the mass murder and genocide of human beings, the notion that Washington wants a rules based order according to its own desires and wants and wishes flies in the face of international law. So that’s all negative.

The positive part at this point, although it’s really it’s really hard for Syrians right now because of the imposed poverty, the imposed chaos. That being said, the war militarily has mostly been won mostly. 

But Washington is occupying 90 percent of the oil fields, which, in addition to the criminal economic embargo, you have a criminal occupation and a criminal theft of all resources, Trump admitted it. At least he was honest. He admitted, Yeah, we’re still going to take the oil. And that’s what they’re doing. And the oil goes straight to al-Qaeda and they’re also burning wheat fields and they’re shipping wheat out of the country. This is a country that has been starved by the embargo. 

They’re shipping Syrian wheat out of the country to various locales like to Iraq, for example. So it’s inhumane. It’s it’s just really not great. It’s really disappointing that so many people still believe the lies, despite the admissions from Western sources, such as, most recently, Jeffrey’s admission that, Yeah,   Al Joulani is on the same side. 

C.C: Well, yeah, I’m interested in what your take on that is. Mark, what is it with James Jeffrey? Why would he as you said before, it’s pretty obvious to anybody who’s been watching what’s going on in Syria and what happened in Libya to 10 years on. But what’s the significance of Jeffrey making such an admission now? 

 Well they’re just … it’s the stories within stories. 

The CIA are experts at this. What is the significance? … But I mean … maybe intelligence agencies are thinking, OK, people have figured out that Idlib is western-occupied, Idlib is al-Qaeda Central. So let’s admit to that. But pretend we’re fighting ISIS. I think that’s the new story, the fake story. But that’s the story that they appear to be going with. 

I mean, if I read from this article here, it says in an interview, this is Press TV, but it’s … there’s a Frontline correspondent, Martin Smith. In an interview with Frontline correspondent Martin Smith, Jeffrey said that Idlib  was one of the crucial locations in the Mideast conflict. Well, guess what? Nobody invited you guys into Syria to destroy the country. And he says this. He says they are the least bad option. The various options on Idlib and Idlib is one of the most important places in Syria and so on. 

On the other hand, you’ve got Senator Black who, like myself, has been to Syria. I went two times after after my first visit and the first book. I mean, he’s on the front lines there and he’s explaining that al Joulani is a bad guy. The terrorists are al-Qaeda and they’ve got to be destroyed. And he’s right. And Syria is the one to destroy al Qaeda, Syria and its allies. But it’s not only Senator Black who is telling the truth, so is Tulsi Gabbard. 

And I’ve got numerous examples in articles where Tulsi Gabbard tells the truth. It’s a Regime Change war. It was planned well in advance and we are supporting al-Qaeda. She said this and one of her last in a recording, she said, “I’m glad to hear that some of my former colleagues in Congress are speaking out against the recent unconstitutional airstrikes in Syria. But they’re ignoring the bigger issue there…” And this is this is what Tulsi Gabbard is saying. And kudos to her. 

She’s saying “the regime change war the United States continues to wage in Syria, using al-Qaeda Jabhat Al Nusra as our proxy ground force and now and who now occupy and control the city of Idlib, imposing Sharia law and cleansing the area of most Christians and religious minorities.” “The Biden administration continues to use our military,” continues, Tulsi Gabbard, “to occupy northeast Syria to, quote, take the oil, as Trump so crassly, but honestly put it, violating international law,” Again, Tulsi is correct. “A modern day siege,” she continues, “a draconian embargo and sanctions similar to what the Saudi/US allies employ in Yemen is causing death and suffering for millions of innocent Syrians, depriving them of things like food, medicine, clean water, energy, warm, and making it impossible for the Syrian people to try to begin to rebuild their war torn country.” 

So kudos to Tulsi Gabbard. She has a huge audience and she’s a Congresswoman and she saw the truth. 

C.C:  If you just … listening to Gorilla Radio, I’m speaking today to Mark Taliano. Mark’s, a retired schoolteacher whose next career was as a researcher and investigative reporter that led him to Syria to discover the true to the true situation going on during the brutal war there, the war that’s continued since 2011. Mark, you were there in two thousand and sixteen and then you returned again in 2018. But the dispatches you sent back were the basis of your book, Voices from Syria, that you co-wrote with with a Syrian journalist there named Basma Qaddour. She worked with you as well on on the the the revision, is that right? 

 Yes. So I went there two other times in September 2016 and April 2018 (and also in 2019). I had the misfortune of being there in April when cruise missiles came over. But yeah, let’s get back to Basma. She’s in Syria and she is a Senior Reporter for Syria Times. 

And she couldn’t make it. And the reason she couldn’t make it for this show and the reason is because they have about two hours of electricity per day. So imagine if we had two hours of electricity per day because due to criminal economic sanctions waged against us, how would we freeze our food? We couldn’t. OK, I mean, is it’s impossible, actually, unless we’re there, we can’t even imagine this, I can’t imagine because I’m not there, but two hours a day of electricity in a modern country, civilized country, the most democratic country in the Middle East, a country that has a Constitution unlike, for example, Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf monarchies, who, along with the West, are waging war and been having waging war against Syria. 

OK, this is a country that prior to the war and still is a democratic, President, Assad was elected democratically, overwhelmingly popular. And this is what we’re doing. And they’re fighting all of these terrorists. So back to back from here, she couldn’t make it to this interview, unfortunately, but she did write me a few words about what Syrians are experiencing right now, and I’ll just read it. I think … as well read it. That’s what the book is about. 

Voices from Syria. It says here, she says she explains, “the US administration and its Western allies are punishing the Syrian people who want to decide the future of their country far away from foreign intervention. US occupation forces are still stealing Syria’s fuel and wheat and preventing Syrian people from getting them. For this reason, the Syrians are waiting for hours at public bakeries and bus stations to go to and to return from their work or school or universities. Few busses could be run because of a shortage of fuel. 

Please tell US  and Western officials to stop politicizing humanitarian issues. The only good thing they can do is to withdraw their occupation forces from Syria. We do not want them on our territories. They are thieves and criminals.”

Well, guess what? Basma is correct correct. Not only are they like you said, you have this economic embargo, which is criminal. It does not have U.N. Security Council approval. Not only are they occupying prime land, resource rich land in Syria, which is criminal because the Washington-led coalition was not invited into Syria. 

So these are Supreme International crimes against a sovereign country, not only that, but they are doing everything within their power to prevent oil from even making it to Syria from Iran and other places. 

C.C:  in this New York Times article. They say, quote, “Since 2019, Israel has been attacking ships carrying Iranian oil and weapons through the eastern Mediterranean and Red Seas, opening a new maritime front in a regional shadow war that had previously played out by land and in the air.” 

So this is a further deprivation of the Syrian people. 

Yeah, and I mean, Syria or Israel bombed Syria criminally, illegally… I think about 20 times last year. But then again this year already they’ve done it numerous times. Each time they do that, that’s an infraction against the international law. These are war crimes. And mainstream media does not say that, but that’s what’s happening. So, I mean, they are the aggressors. Syria is not a threat to us. 

Syria wants nothing more than to trade with us and to enhance the economies of both countries. They have no interest in violating international law and attacking Western countries. It’s the Western countries who are the aggressors. And that is often hidden in the mainstream messaging. 

C. C : Well, what we hear in the West is that the president of Syria, Assad, is a torturer, a monster of all dimensions. We’ve heard this about other leaders that were targeted by the West in the past. But even among liberal observers, they even if they disagree with what’s going on and the war being waged and the sanctions being levied against the country, always distancing themselves from Assad, saying that he is a brutal tyrant. Oddly enough, they are having elections. 

Presidential elections are scheduled to come up within the next month or so in Syria. Assad won the last election by huge numbers which were called illegitimate by the Western press. What was your sense when you were in Syria on those two occasions in 2016 and eighteen. What was your sense, Mark, of how the people felt about the president?  

M. T: Yeah, 2016 and 2018, and 2019.

OK, so two thousand I’d jump to 2018. Let’s talk about this. OK, so the West has this narrative humanitarian warfare, we’re going to even though if you break it down, it makes no sense, we’re going to attack and bomb a country for humanitarian reasons. It’s ridiculous. So they invent these pretexts. So and so was a brutal dictator. OK, so they invent Caesar photos, which are commissioned by Qatar, which waging war against Syria. 

They invent atrocity stories. They do this for every single country that they invaded. They did it for Libya. They do it for Afghanistan. They do it for Iraq. They do it. And and every time they do it, eventually the truth comes out. OK, so in 2018 when I was there, it was very early in the morning and I and I had a feeling for what Syrians have to feel almost every day in 2016 in Damascus there, the terrorists from Douma and the suburbs were launching these bombs, at Damascus map, OK, that but the Syrians were so accustomed to it that they almost it’s like they don’t exist, but they massacre people with those bombs, those rigged bombs, thousands of civilians, boys, girls, women, children being killed with these bombs. 

And that was scary. I think maybe 11,000 were murdered by the jihadis murdered 11,000 in Damascus, maybe 14000 in Aleppo. OK, so that was all scary. Now, on 2018, I was awakened early in the morning by huge, huge sounds and it was terrifying. OK, and then it OK, so the idea, the foundational emotion is terror, but then that turned to anger, because I felt as if I were a Syrian in that case because it’s a total violation of their country and all of them as people. 

And so the next morning we got up and we talked to people and they were entirely supportive of President Assad and his efforts and they condemn the airstrikes. And some people went and protested in favor of President Assad because the the overwhelming feeling is that he and Syria and it’s not just Assad. It’s all this all of Syria. The Syrian Arab army consists of Syrians, the boys and brothers and sisters and uncles and aunts and fathers. The consensus is that they are protecting the Syrian people from these terrorists. 

And that’s exactly what they’re doing and that’s why they support President Assad. 

C.C: Mark, is that the only reason? I mean, we could see that it’s pretty obvious that when people are under attack, they rally around the leader. But what about this this portrait of Assad as being a dictator and being a cruel overlord? If there was no war, if peace came back to Syria with the people there still support him? 

M. T: Well, I can say categorically he is not an overlord. I met him. (Mark met President Assad on his third trip to Syria.)He’s he he’s actually a medical doctor, eye doctor. And he presents himself in such a fashion that he’s very gentle and he exudes a gentleness. He just he totally defies any characterization of a warlord. The warlords are the terrorists that we support, al-Qaeda, ISIS. And he defies this. He he he is a modern man and his wife is overwhelmingly supported. And the mainstream media supported him before the war as well, ironically. 

C.C : Well, Mark, we don’t have too much time left out. You were talking about Senator Dick Black. Yes. Who firstly, who is he?  

M.T: Senator Dick Black is from Virginia. And he went to Syria on numerous occasions and he went to the front lines and he he is lobbying for truth about this war…I put up his video with a transcript. So, I’ll I read from this transcript, I just read some of the parts that I put in both. 

Now, this gets back to the rules based order. “What rules and the rules based order allow us to dictate the trade of sovereign nations? The American market conquest spans the globe. We invade sovereign nations like Syria, Yemen, Syria, leaving them all in smoldering ruins. Does a rules based order not prohibit wars of aggression? Did we not prosecute Nazis at Nuremberg for such actions? What rules make wars of aggression crimes for Nazis, but not for us? 

We’re told that we’re fighting a war on terror, but we’re not.” And he continues, “We’re closely allied with terrorists like al-Qaeda in an endless quest to destroy Arab civilizations throughout the Middle East. And a constitution drafted under President Assad guarantees equal rights for women. And importantly, it guarantees religious freedom. In three different parts of the text I read it here is a model for other Arab states, especially ones like Saudi Arabia, which have no constitution at all. 

We call Syria’s President a dictator, but in twenty fourteen, he was overwhelmingly elected by the people of Syria in a fair and free election. He was very heavily monitored.” And I will continue. I’m just reading excerpts but important excerpts from excerpts which have all been verified and documented. He continues. “In 2001, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld ordered the Pentagon to draft plans to overthrow seven countries in the Middle East, beginning with Iraq and Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and finishing off with Iran. 

Not one of them had harmed the United States. Two thousand six the US embassy in Damascus drew up detailed plans to destabilize and overthrow Syria.” Now he’s talking about how all this was preplanned. It was never a civil war. It was always preplanned. Wars don’t just happen. Senator Dick Black continues, “in 2011, also during the Arab Spring, the highly secretive Central Intelligence Agency agency, Special Activity Center sent paramilitary teams into the sovereign territory of Syria to identify, train, equip and lead terrorists to overthrow the Syrian government. 

NATO and the United States have maintained an intense propaganda campaign against Syria from the outset. Sarin gas attacks that killed civilians were blamed on President Assad. But not one reporter ever asked why Assad would use gas against children but not against armies of terrorists bearing down on the capital of Damascus. The reason is obvious. There is no answer.” 

So getting back to when I was there, for example, the day after the cruise missiles were sent in, we sent someone to Douma where there is an alleged chemical weapons attack. 

Now, bear in mind, the OPCW, the missiles came before the OPCW even had a chance to investigate. And the OPCW has been completely discredited by whistleblowers now, especially in terms of Douma.  

C. C: This is the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. And it is the whistleblowers were from within that organization that said their reports were doctored by higher ups.

Yes. And so we sent Pearson Sharp in there and he interviewed a whole lot, all sorts of people, including doctors. 

And they all testified that, no, there was no sarin gas attack. And by the way, the sarin gas originally came from the originally came from Turkey. OK, but these accusations, all of these gassing his own people, killing his own people, all of these are false accusations. They are not based on evidence. And then Secretary of Defense James Mattis admitted as much. I mean, think about it. Why would Assad gas his own ⁷people knowing full well that the coalition would exploit that to destroy Syria further? 


And this and this. Sorry to cut in, Mark, but we’re fast running out of time here. And the chemical attack narrative is contentious and has been discredited broadly, although the press in this country, the mainstream press and the state press won’t mention that. But you mentioned on your site, Marktaliano.net, that you are defined by what you do and you define yourself as a supporter of civilization, a supporter of Islam, Christianity and Judaism, and a supporter of the right to choose, a supporter of a secular government and democracy like that that is led by President Assad and is opposed by the people our government support, those being al-Qaeda and ISIS and their affiliates.

Mark, thanks a lot for coming on and telling us a little bit about your new book. And again, Mark’s book is Voices from Syria. Quickly, Mark, how can people get their hands on it? 

M.T: OK, well, so this second, they can contact that Global Research, Global Research sells the original book, the hardcover or the print version. And Global Research will be selling the PDF of the second edition. Currently, it’s only on Kindle, but it is on Kindle. So you can go to Kindle to buy that. And soon the   Global research will be selling the PDF as well. 

C. C: Well, Mark Taliano, thanks a lot again. And thanks for keeping a focus on a very important issue that has fallen off of the front pages, but is still as dire as ever for the people that are suffering under it. Thanks a lot, Mark, for coming.

Thank you very much. 

C. C:  Well, my great pleasure. And also, I want you guys to stay tuned. Lesley Robinson and Jeremy Brandt will be right up from VITAC. And we’re going to talk about the housing crisis in this city and across the country. 

Thanks again, Mark.