Australia's foreign policy on Syria goes hand in hand with Uncle Sam's as its population is sold the same package of lies as it was before the invasion of Iraq
A few weeks ago Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop raised the spectre of an ISIS with Chemical Weapons, following ‘intelligence reports’ the terrorist group had used them in Iraq. In the context of its recent alarming expansion in both Iraq and Syria, this spectre looked a bit like the latest move to soften us up to accept a stepped up campaign against ISIS, widening to include Syria.
When Australia moved to join the US ‘coalition against ISIS/Da’esh’ it did so without seeking parliamentary approval. But it did seek approval and ‘invitation’ from the Baghdad government, so that Australian personnel on the ground in Iraq would be legal – but operate only in conjunction with the Iraqi government and associated Shiite militia.
This rather bizarrely aligns Australia with Iran and against the Sunni states opposed to the Baghdad government, and drew some ridiculous criticism from the right wing press here – ridiculous because Australia has been one of the staunchest supporters of the ‘Friends of Syria’/’Enemies of Assad’ since its beginning.
Following the ‘false flag’ Sarin attack on Ghouta, Damascus in August 2013, the Australian government and media played a useful support role to the Western cheer squad for a ‘punitive strike’ on Syria, ignoring the common sense view expressed by Vladimir Putin on the culprits.
In saying that the idea the Syrian government would launch a chemical weapons attack of no military use under the nose of UN investigators was ‘utter nonsense’, Putin displayed the ordinary sense that used to be a mark of ‘ordinary Australians’- we even have an expression: ‘blind Freddie could see it’- for something that is so blindingly obvious.
When Seymour Hersh published ‘Whose Sarin’ a few months later, and long after the US plans to attack Syria had been stymied by Russian diplomacy, it was impossible to even get his claims aired in Australia.
The same applied to his even more damaging revelations in a second article detailing Turkish and CIA involvement in the ‘rat line’ of weapons and fighters from Libya into Syria.
When faced with the ‘free and fair’ re-election of President Assad by a large majority of the Syrian population, the Australian government simply parroted the baseless US claims the election had no legitimacy. Repeated requests to Australian ministers to justify their stand against democracy in Syria have met with the same inane response – ‘Australia considers the Syrian National Coalition to be the legitimate representatives of the Syrian people’. (One might assume this recognition also extends to the SNC’s ‘military wing’ of ‘moderate’ terrorists, responsible for some horrific massacres as well as the deaths of over 100,000 Syrian defence force personnel.)
But to return to the current situation and developing threats to ‘bomb Syria’ (notionally against Da’esh/ISIS), it is hard to escape from the feeling that we are being softened up with the - now slightly repackaged – ‘chemical weapons pretext’ which will justify attacks on the Syrian government forces as well.
How else to explain that the ‘intelligence’ about possession of CW by terrorist groups, including Jabhat al Nusra and AQI (forerunner to ISIS) was already known by Seymour Hersh’s contacts over two years ago? And since recently obtained US Defence Department documents from 2012 also detail and confirm Hersh’s story about the ‘rat line’ from Benghazi, we might conclude that Australian officials didn’t even need ‘common sense’ to see the truth in President Putin’s simple observation – they already knew that ‘Assad didn’t do it’.
While this conclusion hardly gives us confidence in our governments’ honest intentions, we should recognise something far worse – that without the campaign of vilification based on those false and fabricated ‘WMD’ claims, waged against the Syrian government by the whole apparatus of the Empire, - which shamefully included major NGOs as well as ‘independent’ media, the entire course of the Syrian conflict would have been different and tens of thousands of innocent lives would have been saved.