Transcript by Rawan Mahmasa
Richard: Thanks for joining me for coming on the programme, and your joining me from Damascus, right!
Tim: that’s right yeah!
Richard: that’s wonderful. Well, thank you for your time Professor it’s really really lovely to have you on.
Richard: The first thing I wanted to talk about is the normalization of ties with Syria. What do you think is behind this change in attitude? What has changed the equation here? Is it the President, the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, or perhaps the advance of Yemeni forces as the Houthis are part of the resistance axis. Why exactly are we seeing so many Arab countries change their position in regards to Syria?
Tim: Yes, it’s related to the whole region. You’re right in that respect. And of course, the US has always seen the whole region as its project, not individual wars. There’s been at least eight wars, arguably nine, if we include Bahrain in the last 20 years. And that’s part of a project that was given a name, the New Middle East 15 years ago by Condoleezza Rice when she was in Jerusalem just before the Israelis invaded Lebanon again. So what’s been happening is they’ve been losing several wars. As you mentioned, they withdrew from Afghanistan. They have a schedule to withdraw what they call combat troops from Iraq. That may be weasel words there. They are certainly in discussions at the moment to withdraw troops from Syria. And as you pointed out, that the Saudis are in trouble in Yemen, and they’ve been suing for peace for the last couple of years. But they haven’t proposed any decent sort of terms. So I think in that context, and also in the context of the contradictions of the economic blockade, let’s not call them sanctions, the economic block aid against most of the independent countries here and the Peoples of the region here. The Biden administration, let’s say, has had to start to make some adjustments. It made some adjustments for Lebanon when the country was on the verge of starving and not having any fuel. There was pressure from the Emiratis who actually went and normalized with Damascus three years ago, and then Trump, of course, used that against them to force them to normalize with Israel. And he blackmailed him on that one. But nevertheless, the Emiratis wanted to get back and having lost the war of all the proxy armies they sent into Syria, some of those countries, really, for their own reasons of investment and trade and whatever wanted to re-establish ties with Syria, not be completely excluded. And so Jordan was the other one. Jordan, probably the weakest of all of the Arab countries, totally dependent on its relationship with the US, also did some sort of normalization recently. So I think you’re seeing them the UAE to at a certain extent, certainly Jordan and Lebanon getting permission from the US to reopen ties to a certain degree against what the very strong third party economic blockade measures that Trump put in place called the Caesar sanctions. So the Biden administration has not removed those laws, but it’s been making exceptions more or less while maintaining the framework of a large number of laws that constitute this blockade.
Richard: That’s a very interesting point, because I wanted to ask you about that. Do you think they’re acting of their own accord, or they had to get an okay from the United States and Israel? Because it is a contradiction in how the United States views Syria and how they view Syria now.
Tim: the US certainly gave permission to Jordan, and I believe, also to the Emiratis. Their foreign Minister was here recently. It was a big deal. It was a diplomatic coup for Syria in a way, it was also a type of a green light for the Emiratis to proceed with investment project, which they’ve been looking at. And they have some in training. But they’ve been holding back for the last three years. But I believe that’s now going ahead. So I think they needed permission from the US, of course. Remember, all of these collaborating States are very vulnerable to the US. And Trump proved that when he forced the Emiratis and Bahrain, wasn’t it to recognize Israel, the so called. What was it, some other record, some agreement with ..
Richard: Abraham accords?
Tim: That’s right. Yeah.
Richard: When Lincoln the Secretary of state, he says that the United States opposes any attempts to rehabilitate or normalize ties with Syria. Is he just puffing his chest?
Tim: Well, that’s happening to a certain degree. I mean, it is bluster, but it’s also they know they’ve been fighting and losing war in Syria and Iraq for a number of years now. They don’t mind making exceptions for certain people and by which they still hold the power to prevent things from happening. Basically. But of course, it appears that there are big contradictions because the Lebanese are coming in. The Jordanians are coming in, the Emirates are coming in. The Saudis have been talking to Damascus also, that’s not really out in the open yet, but nevertheless, the US is maintaining its posture that of a bad loser. I mean, they’re always bad losers. I recall Vietnam. They fought for at least seven years knowing that they were losing in Vietnam. Then they imposed so called sanctions blockade in Vietnam for a number of years, too, which persisted into the 80s. That’s why I wouldn’t be surprised to see the occupation US occupation. Remember there’s three occupations of Syria now the two largest NATO armies, Turkey and the US are occupying large parts of Syria. And of course, Israel has been occupying the Southern part for 50 years. So the US occupation is all along the border, the critical borders of Syria, on the Eastern borders with Iraq and also with Jordan. Except for one point where Albagus is. So one of the key points of the US occupation, I believe, is to prevent the links strengthening between Iran, Iraq and Syria. That’s really quite a critical part of the classical divide and rule strategy.
Richard: We’ll be right back after this short break.
You mentioned the massacre, which was unearthed by The New York Times recently.
This article talks about a US air strike inside Syria in a town called the Hoos on March 18, 2019. American forces killed upwards of 60 Syrian civilians. Let me just read you a few lines from the article. A US military drone circled high overhead, hunting for military targets, but it saw only a large crowd of women and children huddled against a riverbank. Without warning, an American F 15 E attacked jet, streaked across the drone’s highdefinition field of vision and dropped a 500 pound bomb on the crowd, swallowing it in a shuddering blast.
As the smoke cleared, a few people stumbled away in search of cover. Then a jet tracking them dropped one 2000 pound bomb, then another killing most of the survivors. They go on to say in the article that the assessments of the air strike were carried out by the same unit, which called in the air strike. This is a unit called Task Force Nine.
So it’s basically like the police Department investigating itself for police brutality. And of course, this unit rarely found problems with its own work. No conflict of interest there, I’m sure. After this investigation, The New York Times sent its findings to US central command.
This is the response that it got. The command acknowledged the strikes for the first time, saying 80 people were killed, but the air strikes were justified. It said the bombs killed 16 fighters and four civilians. As for the other 60 people, the statement said it was not clear that they were civilians, in part because because women and children in the Islamic State sometimes took up arms. Right. So according to the statement, they just assume that the other 60 people they murdered were maybe combatants because sometimes women and children under Daesh took up arms.
Well, it turns out this was also a lie because in the article, people who saw the drone footage say there weren’t 16 men at all. It was two or three men who were just walking around. They weren’t even in combat. This American unit, task force nine, was just going around Syria, murdering civilians and then claiming it was self defense. They see a car driving. They just claim it looks threatening, and then they call in an air strike. Oh, we saw someone with a gun call in an air strike.
They would lie and make up all sorts of things, anything to pretend that they were acting in self defense. They actually did this so much that about 80% of Ulstra airstrikes called in by this unit were claimed in self defense. And you can guess, of course, what that leads to thousands and thousands of civilians killed in the article. They say that, quote, a number of Syrian towns, including the regional capital Raqqa, were reduced to little more than rubble. Human rights organizations reported that the coalition caused thousands of civilian deaths during the war.
Hundreds of military assessment reports examined by the Times show the task force was implicated in nearly one in five coalition civilian casualty incidents in the region. This task force line was killing so many people that even the Central Intelligence Agency, the CIA that has killed God knows how many people in assassinations, wars and coups around the world grew alarmed. CIA officers alleged that in about ten incidents, the secretive task force hit targets, knowing civilians would be killed. And then the rest of the article, they go into detail of how people like Colonel Corsack and Mr.
Tate tried raising the alarm that a war crime had been committed only to be ignored in Stonewall. At one point, they even fired Tate from the Inspector General’s office and escorted him out of the building with high security because he wouldn’t stop raising the issue of this massacre.
Tim: Yes, I think you’re right to say that it’s one of the massacres. But this particular one, which came out in the New York Times, is of a village which is right on the border of Syria and Iraq at the Euphrates, just below, which is normally spoken of as the major town near the border there. And it’s been a hot point. Now. The US claims now that this was part of their final operations against ISIS. But this is a facade because we know really they have been backing covertly ISIS for many years.
Joe Biden admitted that seven years ago, he admitted it indirectly that his close Arab allies were financed and the head of the US military at that time, General Martin Dempsey admitted that his close Arab allies were financing ISIS. And I myself went to a site in Derrizur four years ago, where the year before the US and the Australians had bombed the Syrian Army to allow ISIS to take over the mountain behind the airport at Derrizur. Now the one we’re talking about now, Albagu’s village is on the Euphrates.
It was March 2019. So, in other words, more than a year after all of the major operations were finished against ISIS, that ISIS was driven out of all of the major towns and cities of Iraq and Syria. And that was announced by General Hassan Sulaimany. You might remember who was the leader of that project and also, by the way, the leader who decided to go from after the liberation of Derrizu city from Daesh in October 2017. It was Sulaimany that decided to go on immediately straight away, down through Al Mayadeen and down to AlbuqaMal and take control of the border there and that border site around this village where we’re talking about now, where the massacre took place, where the US admits the massacre took place is where Iran has set up some facilities, some security facilities, which has been attacked many, many times by unknown forces.
But presumably Israelis and US there’s been missile strikes many, many times on the Iraqi and Syrian side of that border, the border crossing, which, of course, is the one border crossing that Syria and Iraq are still controlling, but it’s under heavy fire now. It just so happens. Albagooz is right at that point. So really, there certainly are bands of ISIS still around Eastern Syria, but they’ve been effectively sheltered by the US occupation in Eastern Syria area. And to some extent, I was told this in Hasakeh that the Qasad SDF groups, which have a lot of ISIS prisoners, let groups out from time to time to go down for operations down near Derizzure and down in southeastern Syria. In fact, there was a petition by prisoners in one of the jails there. There was a type of insurrection, and they were demanding to go down to our top base, US base on the border of Syria, Jordan and Iraq, because they thought the conditions were better down there. And the US was going to allow them to participate in some other sort of operations there.
Richard: The United States claims that they’re fighting ISIS during this time. They claim the same thing in Iraq. And we can see what happened to Mosul, to Raqqa. Also, they flattened these cities, really. And they’ve committed atrocities, war crimes. But they seem to get away with it, right. And there’s this sort of hypocrisy here where when Syria is fighting terrorists, they say that Syria is indiscriminately killing civilians. But we don’t hear that about the United States, right? It’s as if there’s always a good enough reason for them to do that.
Do you feel there’s a double standard there in how this is treated by the media and the politicians?
Tim: Well, certainly, as regards the Western media, I mean, because they’re very deeply embedded with the Western States, aren’t they? Effectively, it’s not permissible in Western countries to contradict fundamentally the narrative that the US has re-entered Iraq, for example, to fight ISIS. That has been a pretext, of course, from time to time, they bomb people. They kill people also in Idlib, to some extent, every now and then they say they’ve killed an Al Qaeda leader there. But we know that NATO as a whole has been funnelling aid and arms into the other side of Northern Syria.
Just make one other point about the Bakoos, this village. As I said, Sulaimany and the Syrian forces took control of that area and that border crossing in late 2017, just as the major occupation of ISIS was defeated. Now, that is the area that has been attacked many, many times. So ask yourself, 15, 16 months after that, when the Iranians, the Syrians, the Iraqi resistance, were embedded in that area, why would there be any ISIS target there for the US to bomb? They wouldn’t be a large aggregation of ISIS in that area anyway, because it’s an area controlled specifically by the three powers Iran, Iraq, Syria.
And of course, the incident that I documented a few years earlier around Derrizur was similar in a way, it shed some light on this. It was a case where the US and Australians and I think the Dane, some others went in, bombed the mountain behind Derrizu, which was controlled by the Syrian Army, killed over 120 Syrian soldiers, claimed it was a mistake. It was a well planned operation. But that operation allowed ISIS to take over the mountain to get strategic advantage at a time when there’s still a battle going on for the city.
This is in September 2016. Now, the US didn’t come back and bomb ISIS on that mountain. They were very happy to leave ISIS there. And of course, as it turns out, they failed. They couldn’t take over Derizzur city. So all of those operations in that part of Syria have been really clouded by this false pretext that the US was there fighting ISIS. I spoke to a senior general in Derizzur four years ago, General Shahada, and I said to him after he was explaining how this was reported in the Iraqi and Iranian media a great deal.
But of course not in the Western media that there were these constant observations of collaboration between the US occupation and ISIS. At that time. There was one other incident. And that was he said, that a group of Syrian soldiers were attacked and killed in the desert on one occasion there in 2017, and it was not possible that they could have detected them without satellite intelligence. So they believed that the US are providing satellite intelligence to ISIS too. And so I asked him if he thought he was fighting a US commander.
And he said 100% that the US was directing ISIS operations at that time. That’s what the Syrians think.
Richard: It’s absolutely incredible. All these examples, it’s almost too hard to believe, but this is effectively what’s going on, professor? Just perhaps, is the last question. I don’t want to take up too much of your time. But in Afghanistan, just when the US was withdrawing from Kabul, they drone strike to the Ahmadi family and claimed it was an accident.
After investigating themselves. And then here again.
The United States military investigates itself and finds no wrongdoing.
No, of course not. But this is what they do, isn’t it? They will always do it. You may recall George Bush, I said after they shot down an Iranian civil airline, I’ll never apologize for anything the US does. In Vietnam. We had the same experience, basically, even though they spoke of destroying a village to save it and those sorts of things. Nevertheless, that level of cynicism has been there for a very long time, through very many wars.
So much for America’s checks and balances. Right? So not only did the soldiers cover up their own crimes, but the commanders covered up their crimes, the bureaucracy covered up their crimes, even the grave itself was covered up, literally. They covered it up using bulldozers. They raised the site and buried all the bodies so no one would find out. And of course, no one is held accountable for this. Not one person. You can invade the land of Arabs and Muslims, murder them for no reason and just get away with it.
And then they talk about democracy and human rights, and they pretend that they are the civilized ones, and they will come teach us how things are done. The only thing being taught here is violence. The only lesson being drawn from this is that the United States will kill civilians with impunity on the other side of the globe and then cover it up from the soldiers all the way up the chain of command to the commanders and bureaucrats in DC. Look how long it took before we even found out about this.
Two years. They almost got away with it, too. Can you imagine what else they are hiding? This is just the tip of the iceberg. They did this in Vietnam. They did this in Afghanistan. Just look. A few months ago, in August, while they were withdrawing, the US murdered an entire family in Kabul with a drone strike. And for weeks, they lied and pretended they had killed ISIS fighters. They had killed Dash K. You think they would have admitted to the murder if the media hadn’t brought it up like they did now with Syria?
Never. The whole war on terror is a lie. Fighting Daesh also a lie. The whole war on Syria based on lies. Look at the normalization and the lessons from that. One day they call Al Assad a dictator. The next they say he’s an Arab brother. This shows you how politics is all theater. From 1 second to the next, they flip like that. Nothing changed except their interests and whether their Masters in Washington, D. C. Gave them the okay and these strikes, these massacres. No civilized person can accept this barbarism.
No one can tolerate this foreign aggression in violence. Nobody. There’s nothing Democratic or humane about these bombs. There is no such thing as precision or limited strikes. These are massacres blood baths. And anyone saying otherwise is either a fool or a liar. Thanks for tuning in. I’m. Richard Medhurst and this is the Communique.