Foreign Terrorists Wage War on Syria

Syria's conflict is Washington's war. There's nothing civil about it. Foreign terrorist proxies wage it.

by Stephen Lendman

Syria is Washington's war. It was planned years ago. America wants pro-Western puppet leadership replacing Assad.

All independent governments are targeted for regime change. Imperial rogue states operate that way.

Strategy used is longstanding. On January 4, Michel Chossudovsky discussed it. Current US proxy wars employ earlier tactics. Western-recruited death squads are used.

Using them "go(es) back to the Vietnam war."

"Terror brigades (commit) targeted assassinations (and) countless atrocities."

Since Syria's conflict erupted in March 2011, Washington, key NATO allies, Israel, and other regional allies recruited, armed, trained, and directed death squads.

They're still doing it. They're imported from abroad. More on that below.

Washington prioritizes the "Salvador Option." Rules of engagement proliferated massacres, torture, and gruesome atrocities in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.

In Vietnam, Operation Phoenix (OP) did the same things earlier. It became a template for future counterterrorism operations.

From 1968 - 1973, CIA operatives, Special Forces, and Military Assistance Command Vietnam-Special Operations Group (MACV-SOG) conducted covert missions.

Their mandate was to crush National Liberation Front (Viet Cong) resistance. Strategy was to terrorize people into submission.

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Russian Naval Maneuvers off the Syrian Coast

MOSCOW,(ST)_ The  Russian Defense Ministry announced on Friday  that Russian warships will conduct naval exercises off the Syrian coast.

In  a statement quoted by  Moscow News agency, the Ministry explained that  Russian naval units of the Black Sea Fleet will carry out  the  maneuver  exercises near the Syrian coast, within the course of  arrangements to implement  a large training project in the Mediterranean Sea with the participation of units from other Russian fleets.

The Russian ministry added  that a tactical set of units of the Black Sea Fleet led by the cruiser "Moscow" will carry out maneuver exercises in the eastern Mediterranean.

The vessels participating in the training were fueled by tanker fuel Ivan Bobnov .


In the same context, a source at the Russian Army General Command announced that warships of several Russian fleets will carry joint exercises in the eastern Mediterranean.

"Landing a few units of marines and paratroopers, sailors from the warships of the Baltic and the Black Sea Fleets is considered one of the central tasks in these exercises." Interfax said.

Earlier, the Russian Defense Ministry revealed arrangements by the  Russian Navy to carry out  unprecedented  maneuvers in both the Mediterranean and Black sea at the end of January of 2013, according to a Russian armed forces  training plan , with the  participation  of units of four  Russian fleets in order to train on  forming  forces outside Russia's borders , to draw and carry out its work plan  and enhance  fighting skills of the Russian Naval forces.

Russia's Defense Ministry is being careful with its comments about sending the warships to the Mediterranean Sea. Thus, the press-service of the ministry announced that "the group of the ships of the Northern and Baltic fleets will conduct a training combat mission in the Mediterranean and in the Black Seas, in collaboration with a group of Black Sea Fleet - large landing warships "Nikolay Filchenkov, " "Caesar Kunikov "and escort ship "Smetliviy." The officials also explained that the group included Northern Fleet ships "Admiral Chabanenko", "Aleksandr Otrakovsky," "George the Victorious" and "Kondopoga", as well as support vessels "Nicholai Chiker" and "Sergey Osipov". Later, the Baltic Fleet patrol ship "Yaroslav Mudry" and "Lena" tanker joined them.


T. Fateh

Ottoman Empire: dreams of Turkey over Iraq, Syria

 

 

 

Some Iranian MPs stressed that the present Turkish rulers are dreaming of having an Ottoman empire in Iraq and Syria though the time will certainly not going back and said,” The US, having spent millions of dollars in Iraq, have not achieved its objectives in Iraq and that is the very reason it has led its international objectives in the conduit of the present regional changes and in cooperation with Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan and some countries has developed wide range of plans for Iraq including disintegration of the country.

According to Taqrib News Agency (TNA) wide demonstrations of the people in Salah ad Din, Anbar and Mosul Provinces against Nouri al Maliki government proves that a new plot is being hatched by the alliance of some domestic, regional and international agents in the form of Shia-Sunni disagreements.

Last week the State of Law Coalition led by Iraqi Premier Nouri al Maliki announced,” Turkey and Qatar, leading the demonstrations in Anbar Province, are the agents that fan the sectarian disagreements among Iraqi nationals and waging chaos in the country.

Kamal al Saedi, a representative of the State of Law Coalition announced,” We have informed sources that Turkey is behind the recent chaos in Iraq.”

The important point on the recent changes in Iraq is the role that Turkey is playing in cooperation with Qatar and Saudi Arabia as the factors behind the recent unrest in Iraq, particularly in relation with the sectarian clashes.

Some members of the National Security Council and Foreign Policy Commission of the Parliament in an exclusive interview with Taqrib News Agency (TNA) explained their views on the reason for intervention of some regional countries in the domestic affairs of Iraq and the interests they are following amid the crisis in Syria and Iraq.

Turkey is dreaming of achieving an Ottoman Empire in Iraq, Syria.

Ebrahim Agha Mohammadi, member of the National Security Council and Foreign Policy in Iran Parliament noted the hopes of the west for a destabilized Iraq following Saddam Hussein and said,” Iraqi nationals maintained their unity though the alien forces kept on hatching plots in this country.” And added,” An example for that is penetration of the Zionist regime in Kurdistan and the struggles of the petrified Arabs for undermining stability and breach of unity in Iraq.”

He referred to the role of Islam in topple of Saddam Hussein, former Iraqi dictator and also ruling of the people in the country saying,” Arab petrified states try to prevent Islamic Awakening to enter countries like Qatar and Saudi Arabia and in this line they spend their funds for hiring and deployment of mercenaries to Syria and Iraq.”

Iranian MP also noted the critical health situation of Jalal Talibani, Iraqi President and said,” The situation of Jalal Talibani is not known yet and the western and Arab countries are making the best of the situation to fan sectarian discussions in line with breaching Iraqi groups and disunite the people; therefore, whenever Iraqi President may pass away, under the pretext of appointing a substitute, they would discuss the topic of integration of Iraq on top of their agenda.”

Ebrahim Agha Mohammadi, criticized anti-Iraq measures taken by Turkey in alliance with Qatar and Saudi Arabia and stressed,” Present rulers in Turkey are dreaming of an Ottoman empire in Iraq, while it is certain that the time will never go back and Turkish officials will know their flaw.”

He added,” At the moment Turkish officials are following ways for a full adoption of the destabilized countries and intervene in the domestic affairs of Iraq under the same pretext.”

Member of Iran’s Parliament urged Iraqi nation to stay vigil against this Arab-western plot and said,” Iraqi people have to be aware that some countries, in a bid to prevent the spread of Islamic Awakening into their countries, are trying to destabilize other countries like Iraq.”

US, puppeteer of Iraq scenario

Mahdi Sanaee, another Member of the National Security Commission and Foreign Policy in Iran Parliament slammed the moves for hatching plots in Iraq and said,” Iraq has turned into a land for regional and international races.”

He added,” The present Iraqi nation is a democratic one though some countries have their political interpretations from the domestic changes of the country turning that into an excuse to penetrate into Iraq.”

Iranian MP also said,” On the other hand the US, having spent millions of dollars in Iraq, feels that it has not achieved its objectives in this country; therefore, it has led its international objectives in the conduit of the regional changes and in alliance with Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Jordan, have set wide plans for Iraq, including disintegration of the country, on top of its agenda.

Mahdi Sanayee highlighted the importance of vigilance of the Iraqi authorities saying,” Iraqi officials have to beware lest that some do not make the best of religious disagreements because the crisis would turn into an untamable fire.”

This Iranian official underscored economic growth of Iraq, relative stability and also domestic unity as the most important issues to be maintained by Iraqi authorities.

He rebuked Turkey for pursuing ways to hijack the changes in Arab countries and weakening of resistance and said,” Turkish officials think that past decade changes in the region and international arena have not been to their benefit while Turkey has always been following the ideal of neo-Ottomanism in the Middle East.

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Analysis: Study shows rise of al Qaeda affiliate in Syria

By Nic Robertson and Paul Cruickshank

A jihadist group with links to al Qaeda has become the most effective of the different factions fighting the regime, according to a new analysis, and now has some 5,000 fighters.

The group is Jabhat al-Nusra, which was designated an al Qaeda affiliate by the United States government last month. It is led by veterans of the Iraqi insurgency "and has shown itself to be the principal force against Assad and the Shabiha," according to the study.

CNN obtained an advance copy of the analysis, set to be released Tuesday by the Quilliam Foundation, a counterterrorism policy institute based in London.

"The civil war in Syria is a gift from the sky for al-Nusra; they are coasting off its energy," the lead author of the report, Noman Benotman, told CNN.

Benotman, a former prominent Libyan Jihadist who was personally acquainted with al Qaeda's top leaders including Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, consulted Western and regional intelligence officials as well as jihadists in Syria, including "al-Nusra sources."

And at a time of optimism that the global threat from al Qaeda terrorism has crested, the study will fuel anxiety in Western capitals that a powerful al Qaeda affiliate may become entrenched in the heart of the Arab world, creating deep challenges in any post- al-Assad Syria, and a new threat to international security.

Al-Nusra, according to the report, is a Syrian offshoot of al Qaeda in Iraq, aka AQI, the terror outfit founded by the Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

AQI was rebranded the "Islamic State of Iraq" after al-Zarqawi was killed by a U.S. missile strike in 2006. Since the pull-out of U.S. troops from Iraq, ISI has regained strength, feeding off the continued political and sectarian turbulence in Iraq.

When designating al-Nusra a terrorist group in December, the U.S State Department cast the group as "an attempt by AQI to hijack the struggles of the Syrian people for its own malign purposes."

"AQI emir Abu Du'a is in control of both AQI and al-Nusra. Du'a also issues strategic guidance to al-Nusra's emir, Abu Muhammad al-Jawlani, and tasked him to begin operations in Syria," the State Department said.

Benotman says that while Abu Du'a still has significant influence over al-Nusra, the key player in the group is al-Jawlani, a veteran Syrian jihadist who he says appears to have almost certainly been a former close associate of al-Zarqawi.

Al-Jawlani's "leadership is uncontested because of his experience in Iraq," the Quilliam Foundation report found. According to Benotman, al-Jawlani has taken painstaking measures not to reveal his real identity - including wearing a mask to meetings with some of al-Nusra's senior operatives. He was also masked when al-Nusra released a video in January 2012 to announce its formation.

AQI had built up an infrastructure in Syria, establishing safe-houses in Syria from which thousands of volunteers - including many Syrians - traveled to fight in Iraq. Al-Zarqawi's Syrian commanders were also the key channel for financial contributions from the Saudi and Gulf region.

Nada Bakos, a former CIA agent who for several years was the chief targeting officer tracking al-Zarqawi, told CNN that from the early days Syrians were amongst the inner circle of his network. "Some of these commanders are probably now part of al-Nusra," she said.

One Syrian among the inner circle of AQI was Sulayman Khalid Darwish. He's been reported killed in Iraq, but intelligence sources tell CNN his fate remains uncertain, raising the possibility he may now be playing a leadership role in al-Nusra.

According to Benotman, the ultimate aim of al-Nusra is the creation of an Islamic State in Syria and the Levant. To begin with, it set about recruiting fighters and training them, collecting weapons and creating safe havens.

The group suffered a severe setback in April 2012 after the arrest of an operative led to a significant number of members being detained in Damascus, but the group subsequently rebuilt its operations, placing greater emphasis on operational security, Benotman told CNN.

One precaution al-Nusra has taken is communicating through messengers rather than electronically, according to Benotman. "Their operational security is some of the best I've ever seen," he told CNN.

In addition, al-Nusra is "very selective about initiating new members, requiring "tezkiyya," or personal assurance, from two commanders on the front line stating that the recruit has the necessary skills, religious commitment and attitude to join the group," the Quilliam study says.

According to the U.S State Department, al-Nusra has claimed responsibility for nearly 600 attacks - "ranging from more than 40 suicide attacks to small arms and improvised explosive device operations - in major city centers including Damascus, Aleppo, Hama, Dara, Homs, Idlib, and Dayr al-Zawr."

Benotman says the group has also carried out executions of media professionals and assassinations of military officers and members of the pro-al-Assad Shabiha militia.

Al-Nusra also focuses on taking control of towns near major highways to control movement; it controls the highway between Aleppo and Hasakah, an important route to Iraq, according to the Quilliam report.

So far the group has only claimed one attack on Syrian government planes and helicopters which "would seem to demonstrate a lack of man-portable air-defence systems (MANPADs), consistent with the international effort to keep these weapons out of jihadist hands," according to the report.

Last month al-Nusra launched two of its most ambitious operations to date. On December 10, the group occupied parts of a military base near Aleppo and two days later claimed responsibility for a coordinated suicide and car bomb attack on the heavily guarded Interior Ministry in the capital.

Al-Nusra's signature tactic, like that of AQI, is using large car and truck bombs driven by suicide bombers. The group has launched several such attacks against security installations in Damascus and Aleppo, sometimes as part of a coordinated assault involving gunmen.

Benotman says that last Summer al-Nusra launched a recruitment drive for suicide bombers and began stockpiling trucks and explosives. He says that weapons shortages among rebel groups means that al-Nusra's campaign of suicide bombings has allowed it to punch above its weight.

Last week al-Nusra demonstrated the lethality of a new tactic - driverless car bombs operated by remote control, Benotman told CNN. He says the technology was used to destroy a gate at an airbase in Idlib and will raise fears that it could one day be used in an attack in the West.

If al-Nusra's fighting strength is some 5,000 members, as the Quilliam report estimates, that would be comparable to U.S. government estimates of AQI at the peak of the Iraq insurgency. But rebel commanders say that the group makes up less than 10% of the brigades fighting the regime.

While al-Nusra is mainly made up of Syrians, it includes a significant number of fighters from other Arab countries. In recent months a growing number have arrived from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, but Iraqis and Jordanians constitute the majority of foreign fighters.

In recent months, videos featuring "rebels" fighting in Syria have increasingly featured joint-operations between al-Nusra and other rebel groups.

According to the Quilliam Foundation report, al-Nusra often cooperates with other jihadist and Islamist groups such as Sukour al-Sham, which has several thousand fighters, and even with the"" Free Syrian Army"", in a number of strategic battles, though joint operations between these two groups have not been widespread.

According to Benotman, a significant number of Jihadists fighting with other "rebel"  outfits are wary of al Qaeda's hard-line ideology, but al-Nusra has sought to allay concerns by keeping its brand separate from al Qaeda, avoiding targeting civilians, and refraining from spelling out its true agenda.

"Preserving good relations with the other groups and treating them well and turning a blind eye to their mistakes is the foundation in dealing with the other groups, as long as they don't change," al-Nusra leader Mohammed al-Jawlani said in a December audio tape, according to a translation by the SITE Intelligence Group.

Al-Nusra and nine other local Jihadist brigades announced last month they were forming a regional unified command structure called the Mujahideen Shura Council in Deir el-Zour.

Yet according to Benotman's report, al-Nusra has not yet formed any such coalitions with larger Islamist rebel outfits such as Ansar al-Islam, Ahrar al-Sham, and the Deir Ezzor Revolutionary Council, three groups which previously joined together to form the "Liberation Front."

According to the Quilliam study, "the designation (by the U.S.) of al-Nusra as a terrorist organization has only served to reinforce jihadist support for the group.

Nada Bakos, the former CIA agent agreed, telling CNN the designation may elevate al-Nusra's status amongst Jihadists worldwide, increasing funding and recruitment for the group.

Benotman's study describes relations between al-Nusra and the FSA as mixed, with both realizing they need each other in the short term to topple al-Assad.

"Some FSA brigades threaten to work with al-Nusra if the West does not provide enough weapons while others see al-Nusra as trying to exploit the revolution for their own ends, instead of working for the good of the country. Jabhat al-Nusra and the" Free Syrian Army" are wary of one another, as they are already vying for popularity amongst the population," Quilliam says.

Bakos, the former CIA official says AQI and al-Nusra are likely replicating the flexible, decentralized, and resilient external operations networks established by al-Zarqawi in the region, and that makes them a force to be reckoned with. Benotman says the al-Zarqawi networks never really went away.

Analysts believe al-Nusra's hostility to the West could create an "over-the-horizon" threat to the United States and its allies if the group is able to secure a foothold in Syria and across the Levant.

In such a scenario al Qaeda aligned groups would be operating within touching distance of borders of Israel, improving their potential to launch a direct attack against the country, long a key proclaimed objective of the terrorist network's leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.

The Quilliam Foundation report is sobering reading at a time when increasing sectarian tension and regime brutality in Syria are playing into al-Nusra's hands.

Benotman believes al-Nusra doesn't want a quick end to the al-Assad regime.

"The longer the conflict goes on, the stronger they will get," he told CNN.

 

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Voltaire: Mossad along with al-Qaeda attacked Yarmouk Camp

The clashes started on December 9 in the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp (south of Damascus) have revealed new alliances, the French Voltaire network has reported.

It sees that the strategic objective of the attack was to involve Palestinians in the crisis in Syria, mobilizing them on a sectarian basis. But the refugees did not allow themselves to be manipulated.

"Elements of Hamas loyal to Meshaal allowed fighters of the Al-Nousra Front (Levantine branch of Al-Qaeda) to enter the camp where they mainly clashed with men of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine ", the network said.

It now appears that the al-Qaeda fighters were not only made up of Muslim extremists, but also included Israeli Mossad agents.

They had specific plans to corner the leaders of other Palestinian factions and eliminate them. Not finding them, they allowed the other members of Al-Qaida to systematically loot the empty apartments of these leaders, according to the network.

After a week of heavy fighting, elements of al-Qaida, Mossad-included, retreated and the camp was declared a "neutral zone."

Around 120 000 inhabitants, out of 180000, had fled the camp at the request of the Syrian authorities that offered them temporary sheltersin Damascus hotels, schools and gyms.

Most are now backing home, While some proffered to go to Lebanon.

Countdown has begun

In a relevant context related to the crisis in Syria, Thiery Meyssan, the network's Editor-in-Chief, has said: "The countdown has begun. As soon as the new Obama administration will be confirmed by the Senate, it will present a peace plan for Syria to the Security Council."

While the French press persists in announcing the "imminent fall" of Syria," the reality on the ground has turned around completely.

As expected, General David Petraeus, the architect of the war on Syria, fell into the trap that had been set up for him and was forced to resign, Meyssan said.

In strategic terms, Meyssan sees the war is already over, asserting that the so-called Free Syrian Army has lost and has no chance of achieving victory.

Meanwhile, in Washington, the National Intelligence Council cynically announced that "international jihadism" will soon disappear. Other allies of the United States should now ask themselves whether this new equation does not imply that they too will be sacrificed.

Compiled by: B.Q

More than 100 Australians are Fighting in Syria: Bob Carr

Australia has admitted that more than 100 Australians are fighting alongside the armed terrorist groups in Syria.

AFP quoted the Australian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Bob Carr as saying on Friday that the government was aware of reports that more than 100 Australians had joined the fighting in Syria since 2011 but he had no evidence of any citizens currently involved.

Carr warned that Australians who take part in the fighting in Syria face up to 20 years in jail, reminding of the Crimes Act 1978 which states that “A person shall not enter a foreign state with intent to engage in a hostile activity.”

“Any Australian who recruits someone to fight overseas faces seven years’ imprisonment,” the spokesman said.

The Australian Foreign Ministry announced in a statement on January 2nd it was probing into an incident in which an Australian citizen who was killed while fighting alongside the terrorists in Syria.

Western officials and media have admitted to thousands of foreign salafis and takfiris who streamed into Syria to join the armed terrorist groups in the fighting, the majority of which are infiltrating through the Turkish borders.

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Forget what you have seen! A farewell yo Al Jazeera

By Aktham Suliman

The news channel Al Jazeera was committed to the truth. Now the truth is being twisted. It is about politics, not about journalism. For reporters this means: it’s time to go.

Aleppo, December 2012: An al-Jazeera correspondent had images relating to Syria that didn’t suit the station’s headquarters and which were not broadcast. This is no isolated incident.

“What do you regard as a terrorist attack and what as an act of legitimate resistance?” Nabil Khoury, the Lebanese-born spokesman for the U.S. State Department in Iraq, asked me one autumn day in Baghdad. His gaze was reproachful. At the time, Al Jazeera stood accused of supporting the violence in Iraq under occupation, in the eyes of American politicians and the media. “The matter is simple, Mr. Khoury,” I replied. “Actions that target U.S. military installations are resistance. Killing Iraqi civilians is terrorism.”

“Name an example!” he demanded. “Well yesterday, rockets were fired at the Al-Rashid Hotel, which houses the U.S. joint chief of staffs. That is resistance.” -  “Aktham! I was at the hotel. The explosions were so close that I was thrown out of my bed. Some friends and colleagues of mine were injured.”

With all due sympathy for Mr Khoury, I could not change the definition. Resistance to occupation is an internationally recognized right, irrespective of sympathies. It was the time of – at least relative – clarity and self-confidence at Al Jazeera. One felt committed to the truth and principles of independent journalism, no matter what the cost. Criticism of the channel from the outside and especially in front of rolling cameras was seen as confirmation, as welcome promotional material that was spliced together and repeatedly rebroadcast on our station.

The declining station

Arab viewers will certainly recall the juxtaposition of US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the Iraqi Information Minister Mohammad Said Al-Sahhaaf in one of these episodes. Both delivered the message that Al-Jazeera was not telling the truth. Al Jazeera at the time acted according to the motto: If both parties to the conflict are saying so, then it is confirmation of the accuracy of our reporting. For extended periods, politicians, parties and governments were furious with Al Jazeera; spectators and staff, by contrast, were happy. The decline from 2004 to 2011 was sneaky, subtle and very slow, but with a catastrophic end.

“Ali! It’s me, your colleague from Berlin. Have you seen the alleged e-mail correspondence between you and Rola circulating on the Internet?” I asked Ali Hashem,  the Al-Jazeera correspondent in Lebanon, on the phone earlier this year. I had just stumbled upon the alleged email communications between Al Jazeera staff published by the so-called “Syrian Electronic Army,” a Syrian pro-government hacker group. In one of the emails, the correspondent Ali Hashem had  told Syrian TV presenter Rola Ibrahim, who was working at the network’s headquarters in Qatar, that he had seen and filmed armed Syrian revolutionaries on the border with Lebanon in 2011.

The channel didn’t broadcast the images because they showed an armed deployment, which did not fit the desired narrative of a peaceful uprising. “My bosses told me: forget what you have seen!” Hashem wrote to Rola, as published. She is said to have replied that she was faring no better. She had been “massively humiliated, just because I embarrassed Zuhair Salem, the spokesman for the opposition Muslim Brotherhood in Syria, with my questions during a news broadcast. They threatened to exclude me from interviews relating to Syria and to restrict me to presenting the late night news, under the pretext that I was jeopardizing the station’s balance.”

Mistakes become the routine

“Desirable” and less desirable images? Penalties for interviews that are “too critical”? At Al Jazeera? Here it must be said that in the online propaganda war between supporters and opponents of the Syrian regime, anything is possible, including lies and deception, as the months since the outbreak of the uprising in mid-March 2011 have shown. Regime supporters wanted to show that the rebellion is solely waged by “armed gangs.” Regime opponents wanted to show that the Syrian army is the only [party] committing [acts of] violence.

That’s why I asked Ali Hashem whether the story was true. His answer was devastating: “Yes, it’s true. Those are really my emails with Rola. I do not know what to do now.”

Several days later, he knew the answer. Ali Hashem left.

Leaving is the only option that remains when these mistakes – altogether common in the fast-paced news industry – become the routine and are no longer recognized, treated or penalized as mistakes.

“There must be consequences. What do we do if the supervisor who told Ali that he should forget what he had seen, tells us one day: Forget that a hand has five fingers! Does a hand have more or fewer fingers based on the whims and needs of our superiors?” I remarked on Al Jazeera’s Talkback, an internal platform for employees.

No reaction. Internal discussions were no longer fashionable at Al Jazeera.

This process did not remain an isolated case. On the contrary: it became a lesson. It quickly became clear to employees: this is about politics, not about journalism. More precisely: about Qatari foreign policy, which had subtly started to employ Al Jazeera as a tool to praise friends and attack enemies.

A hostage becomes a turncoat

It was not the first incident. When Al Jazeera’s Japan correspondent, Fadi Salameh, came to Doha at the end of 2011 to help out for a month at the channel’s headquarters, colleagues asked him how he – as a Syrian – assessed or felt about their Syria coverage. He responded evasively with something like: So-so. And why was that? He said: well, the issue of accuracy is no longer taken as seriously as it ought to be, and mentioned the story of his cousin, who  had been depicted as a deserter from the Syrian military only a few days earlier in a video broadcast on the channel. He was said to have defected to the Free Syrian army in a short recording placed online by the rebels.

But that could well be true, replied a colleague. “Not at all.” Fadi replied. “That was a hostage video. The fear apparent on my cousin’s face, having just been captured by the rebels, was unmistakable.”

Later Fadi went on to say that al-Jazeera now presumes to know better than one’s own family members what is happening to someone in Syria. “Only when I said that my cousin had disappeared two days before his wedding, were some people willing to reconsider,” Fadi said. “Thank God no one got the idea that the groom was trying to escape a forced marriage.” He doesn’t muster a laugh. His cousin never returned and is presumed dead. When the story was leaked to a Lebanese newspaper, this was the response from a person in charge at al-Jazeera: “Oh, those [damn] yellow papers…”

“This is an office of the Muslim Brotherhood”

Al-Jazeera has become the mother of invention: Those who have protested to the editorial board or turned their backs on the station are “supporters of the Syrian regime,” as  Yaser al-Zaatra, the Jordanian author affiliated with the Islamist camp, wrote this spring in a guest article published on –  it almost defies belief –  al-Jazeera’s very own website.

The attacks against its employees [waged] on its own website are meant to obscure the fact that Syria is not the core issue in this internal conflict, but rather the station’s lack of professionalism. Cairo’s al-Jazeera correspondent Samir Omer moved to Sky News earlier this year not because of Syria, but rather, as he told his colleagues: “Because I could not stand it anymore. This is no longer an Al-Jazeera office. This is an office of the Muslim Brotherhood” – in other words, the very group that is supported by Qatar in all Arab countries, and is heralded as the winner of the “Arab Spring.”

Ministers are made into prophets

The Paris bureau chief Ziad Tarrouch was Tunisian, not Syrian. He left in silence last summer, shortly after the presidential elections in France. Unsurprisingly, after weeks of continuous suffering and following repeated subpoenas from the French authorities, because Al Jazeera’s regular guest, Sheikh Yusef Al Qaradawi, had appeared on the station and called for the killing of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. This had invited a lawsuit against the station in France for “incitement to murder.”

 ”Damn it, I’m a journalist!” Ziad had mumbled to himself during his last days at the station. When the Russia correspondent Mohammad al-Hasan also left later that summer, he replied to media queries about his departure by saying that he was expected to deliver incendiary reporting on Russia. In response, the fanciful minds in al-Jazeera’s editorial department sought salvation in the claim that al-Hasan was leaving to open a kabab shop in Moscow.

It is difficult to gauge what the now retired former U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and former Iraqi Information Minister Mohammad Said Al-Sahhaaf are up to these days. But al-Jazeera would have granted them cause for belated delight. Both will go down in history as prophets for having declared that “al-Jazeera does not tell the truth.”

Now, almost ten years later, the statement has unfortunately come true.

And so it has finally come to this. Even for me, this means I must bid my farewell. Since October, al-Jazeera’s Germany correspondent can no longer be found “on the air.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

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