Noam Chomsky on ISIS and current Middle East Conflict

In late September Noam Chomsky spoke on issues that are central to Levant Report’s own coverage: the modern histories of Iraq and Syria, the rise of ISIS, and U.S. and NATO policy in the region.

The talk, given at Chomsky’s home campus of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, provides a broad primer for those wanting to understand the truth behind current chaos enveloping the region.

Some of the highlights of Chomsky’s talk include the following:

1) ISIS is a creation of western foreign policy: ISIS is a natural outcome of both the U.S. destruction of Iraq (starting in 2003) and the U.S./NATO attempt to bring about regime change in Syria (starting in 2011).

2) Saddam was a close U.S. ally throughout the 1980’s as the U.S. collaborated with Iraq on its chemical weapons program in an attempt to defeat the Iranian regime (1980-1988). Chomsky points out that Saddam was beloved of Bush Sr., and that as late as April 1990 a congressional delegation headed by Bob Dole visited Saddam. Chomsky says the delegation’s spirit was one of fawning over the dictator (Ambassador Joe Wilson wrote that the scene was one of “obsequious boot-licking”).

3) Iraq was non-sectarian prior to the U.S. “sledge hammer” that broke it apart. Iraqis under Ba’ath nationalism often didn’t even know whether their neighbors were Sunni or Shia as they lived in mixed neighborhoods and inter-marriage was frequent.

4) While the Kurds of Iraq have recently been championed by the West, they were formerly victims unworthy of media coverage or western government concern. While the U.S. was supportive of Saddam, it looked the other way while he gassed the Kurds of northern Iraq (the U.S. at the time blamed the Iranians). The U.S. supplied the Turkish government with 80% of its military hardware while it committed genocide against Kurds in Turkey throughout the 1990’s. Once Saddam became “evil villain” in American eyes, the Kurds of Iraq became victims worthy of western concern.

5) Chomsky says the only sovereign military effectively fighting ISIS is the Syrian Arab Army under Assad. Chomsky further notes that Iran is also an effective part of this Syrian anti-ISIS campaign.

6) “Manufacturing Consent” is active and influences the western public’s perceptions on conflict in the region. Most Americans are not exposed to basic facts or even the recent history of the region because the U.S. government/corporate media alliance seeks to manufacture the consent of the people in the direction of whatever current Washington policy goals dictate.

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Has America Lost its Proxy War on Syria? What Now?

by Dr. Ismail Salami, Global Research May 10, 2014

Thanks to the indefatigable efforts of Iran and Russia, Syria is gradually recuperating a callous crisis wrought by Washington and its regional Arab puppets.

According to an agreement brokered by the UN, Russia and Iran, foreign-backed militants left the Syrian city of Homs on Thursday and the city is now fully under the full control of government forces.

“Old Homs is totally clean of armed terrorist groups,” a banner on Syrian TV read.

“What has been achieved was a result of efforts that lasted for months starting through evacuating hundreds of civilians from the Old City and settling the cases of nearly 820 gunmen who have given up and handed over their weapons to authorities,” said the provincial governor, Talal al-Barazi.

A country hitherto reduced to desperation and dereliction, Syria has sustained wounds which will take years to heal. Barely is there now any hope whatsoever for removing President Bashar al-Assad from power and installing a US-friendly regime instead in the country.

That is a fact we can’t deny and nor can Washington.

The naked truth is that Washington has by now relinquished all hopes for putting this pernicious plot into a practical shape. In fact, the foreign-backed militants fighting in Syria will soon have to leave the country with their tails between their legs.

 Interestingly, there is a mounting fear that the homegrown brainwashed European Takfiris in Syria many of whom hailed from Britain and France may now return to their countries with their overblown ambitions for inspiring terror and atrocity in their own lands. In other words, there is a great angst that chickens come home to roost.

In an Op-ed for the New York Post, John Bolton, a former US ambassador to the UN, implicitly confessed to the manifest debacle of the West in handling the situation in Syria, their political ineptitude and gargantuan miscalculations on a systematic paradigm of regime change followed by Washington in different parts of the world.

An amusing character whose knowledge of events is chiefly culled from the figments of his imagination rather than from the realities on the ground, Bolton has blatantly accused Syria of trying to use chemical weapons for a second time.

 By now, the entire world knows that the use of chemical weapons by Damascus is a threadbare lie and even the UN report pointed with all force to the absurdity of this claim by the West. However, Mr. Bolton does not bother to read or watch news and relies instead on his truncated perceptions. Or maybe he prefers to turn a deaf ear or a blind eye to the realities like his American compeers.

 He states that

“chaos is growing, with increased fighting among the opposition groups … and fresh evidence that Bashar al-Assad is again using chemical weapons. But the chaos of US Syria policy is growing too, with the news that the administration is now supplying the rebels advanced weapons.”

 In the end, Bolton who has come to a similar conclusion concerning Syria, comes up with a genius idea: i.e. Washington should focus on “the real threats, neither minimizing nor dismissing them, and not be distracted by Syria’s conflict… Iran’s unrelenting pursuit of nuclear weapons may yet awaken our president from dreamland.”

The question is: when the West in cahoots with the Arab puppet regimes participated in a dangerous game in Syria, destroyed the infrastructure of the country, demolished the dreams of a nation, and caused the deaths of over 150,000 people including innocent women and children, were they fundamentally propelling a popular uprising in Syria?

It is now more than naïve to presume that Washington entertains humanitarian objectives in Syria. Basically, the country was viewed as a definitive road to Tehran and a subsequent empowerment of Tel Aviv in the region much to the chagrin of resistance movements such as Hezbollah.

As for Iran there is almost a general consensus that the country’s ‘nuclear weapons program’ is a lie invented by the US government to foment Iranophobia on the one hand and vindicate an eventual invasion of the country in the eyes of the international community on the other hand.

This farcical notion has been recently rejected even by the Israelis. In a recent interview with Israel’s Ynet, Israeli Brigadier General Uzi Eilam berated Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies on Iran, saying he and “other politicians have inspired terrible and unnecessary fear into the hearts of the Israeli public.”

Eilam who headed the Israel Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC) from 1976-1985 said, “The Iranian nuclear program will only be operational in another 10 years… Netanyahu is using the Iranian threat to achieve a variety of political objectives” and that he was pursuing his personal goals.

After all, Iran does not need an Israeli to prove that it is pursuing a civilian nuclear program and that it does not have the least intention of using the achieved nuclear technology to produce nuclear weapons as the idea runs counter to the very principles upon which the Islamic Republic has been built. Besides, it violates the binding fatwa issued by the Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei against the production and proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Any Syria-style conceived plot by Washington against Iran is sure to end in failure– a more mortifying debacle indeed.

In the final analysis, Iran is apparently seen as a geopolitical thorn in Washington’s side and any desperate attempt to remove this thorn will only intensify the pain. 

The Flawed Narrative on Iran

How Does Iran View the Syrian Conflict?

Sheldon Richman’s article, “The Ayatollah’s Overlooked Anti-WMD Fatwas,” written for the Future of Freedom Foundation, repeats some necessary truths about Iran that few Americans have been exposed to. The following information remains easily accessible for anyone desiring to dip deeper beyond the media’s standard soundbites, yet disinformation and lies still define the mainstream narrative on Iran:

“But even with the hopeful negotiations, the Obama administration refuses to talk straight about Iran’s nuclear intentions.

For example, in 2007 and 2011, America’s 16 intelligence agencies issued national-security estimates finding that any research the Iranians had been doing on nuclear weapons was terminated in 2003 — perhaps not coincidentally, the same year the U.S. military overthrew Iran’s archenemy, Saddam Hussein of Iraq.

President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, and the mainstream media never tell the American people this. Wouldn’t you think that’s a critical piece of information for evaluating the U.S.-Iran relationship?”

Sheldon further comments on Gareth Porter’s new book, Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare, which undoes so much of the illusory narrative that the American public has been sold on Iran over the past years:

“For example, did you know that Iran’s two supreme leaders since the revolution, Ayatollahs Ruhollah Khomeini and Ali Khamenei, each in his time issued fatwas against weapons of mass destruction? Khomeini specifically addressed chemical weapons, while Khamenei’s declaration was aimed at nuclear weapons.

The story behind Khomeini’s anti-chemical-weapons fatwa, which Porter relates, is worth knowing. In 1980 Iraqi President Saddam Hussein launched an attack and a brutal eight-year war against Iran. Among the weapons Saddam used against Iranian forces — with the help of American intelligence relevant to targeting and damage assessment — were chemical agents.

Yet Iran never responded in kind. It certainly could have. “Iran’s chemical sector was quite advanced and perfectly capable of producing the same range of chemical weapons that Iraq was using in the war,” Porter writes. He continues, “The real reason for Iran’s failure to use chemical weapons was not the inability to formulate the necessary mix of chemicals but the fact that Ayatollah Khomeini had forbidden it on the grounds of Islamic jurisprudence.” Porter notes that, according to a senior foreign-ministry officer, military leaders wanted to discuss a chemical retaliation against Iraq, “but Khomeini refused to allow it on the ground that it was forbidden by Islam.”

Levant Report’s own Erick Alvarez is currently working on a book project, The Roots of American-Iranian Animosity, which will give the necessary and easy-to-understand historical context to the current crisis in US-Iran relations. It is scheduled for publication in late Summer 2014.