When is a terrorist group not a terrorist group? Apparently when US foreign policy requires it not to be. This is precisely the case regarding Al Qaeda’s Syrian branch – Hayat Tahrir al Sham (HTS) – the most recent rebrand of Jabhat Al Nusra – which currently occupies the northern Syrian governorate of Idlib.
The US corporate media has recently attempted to generate public sympathy for HTS – as well as animosity toward Syrian, Russian, and Iranian forces seeking to liberate the supposedly one million people trapped under the terrorist organization’s rule.
Another factor behind US media support for HTS is the necessity to explain why NATO member Turkey is providing direct military and material support for a US-designated terrorist organization, and why the US itself is in turn providing Turkey support to do so.
Articles have appeared in Newsweek – for example – framing Russian opposition to negotiations with HTS as negative – and echoing US State Department efforts to support the terrorist organization despite it appearing on Washington’s official Foreign Terrorist Organization designation list.
The article titled, “Russia Warns Against Any U.S. Talks with Militant Group It’s Bombing in Syria,” is actually referring to Al Qaeda’s HTS front when it refers to the “militant group” Russia is bombing in Syria.
Newsweek places Russian statements regarding the US designation of HTS as a terrorist organization in quotes as if to question the veracity of the claim.
However, a visit to the US State Department’s own website reveals a 2018 statement titled, “Amendments to the Terrorist Designations of al-Nusrah Front,” which openly admits:
The Department of State has amended the designation of al-Nusrah Front – an al-Qa’ida affiliate in Syria – to include Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and other aliases. These aliases have been added to al-Nusrah Front’s designations as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) under Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) under Executive Order 13224.
In January 2017, al-Nusrah Front launched the creation of HTS as a vehicle to advance its position in the Syrian uprising and to further its own goals as an al-Qa’ida affiliate. Since January 2017, the group has continued to operate through HTS in pursuit of these objectives.
Thus – according to all sides of the Syrian conflict including Washington – HTS is without doubt – unequivocally a terrorist organization.
And eventually – 5 paragraphs in – Newsweek also admits HTS is a US-designated terrorist organization – and even includes quotes from US military leaders admitting that Idlib is overrun by extremists. Yet the US-based publication still attempts to frame Syrian and Russian efforts to liberate Idlib from these extremists negatively.
Newsweek is just one example of the US corporate media obliquely defending terrorism. The New York Times would provide a much more robust defense.
New York Times Does PR for Al Qaeda in Idlib
To illustrate just how far the US corporate media is willing to go to bolster Al Qaeda’s HTS and its Turkish and US backers, the New York Times claims its staff actually accompanied HTS terrorists in Idlib in order to write their emotionally manipulative article, “‘The Only Choice Is to Wait for Death’.”
The article’s author – Carlotta Gall – claims:
I made a rare visit into Idlib with a photographer and interpreter on Wednesday, crossing the border from Turkey. We were accompanied by relief workers of a Syrian charity and members of a jihadist rebel group, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which controls the province.
While the identity or organization these “relief workers” are affiliated with is never mentioned in the article – they are almost certainly from the so-called “White Helmets” and their presence alongside Al Qaeda HTS militants would only further confirm that they themselves are nothing more than Al Qaeda auxiliaries.
The article contains weepy anecdotes devoid of any actual evidence, playing on the familiar “humanitarian” concerns the US and its media often use to demonize its adversaries and justify its own – very real – aggression and abuse globally.
In this case – the aggression and abuse the US and its media are attempting to justify is the continued existence of Al Qaeda’s HTS in northern Syria and its rule over an alleged population of “one million” civilians.
The article describes Syrian and Russian security operations to liberate Idlib from Al Qaeda with paragraphs like:
There has been no letup for the people of Idlib Province as the forces of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, backed by Russian air power, have smashed their way forward, demolishing towns and villages in the south and east of the province with punishing airstrikes.
Only until twenty-five paragraphs into the New York Times’ article, does author Carlotta Gall finally admit HTS is a US-designated terrorist organization, claiming:
Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, or HTS, has been designated a terrorist group by the United Nations but recently allowed Western journalists into Idlib in cooperation with Turkey, which has wanted to build international pressure against Russia and Syria.
In other words – Al Qaeda and its Turkish backers want to build pressure against Russia and Syria who are attempting to liquidate the terrorist organization and restore order to Idlib – and the New York Times is willingly – even eagerly – aiding Al Qaeda and Turkey in doing so.
The US Has Flattened Cities and Nations in Pursuit of “Terrorists”
Cities held by terrorist organizations – or even entire nations for that matter – have served as a pretext for the United States and its allies to carry out brutal military operations. For example – the alleged presence of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan served as the pretext for the now 19 year war the US has waged there since 2001.
In 2004 – citing the presence of extremists in the Iraqi city of Fallujah – the US military would flatten the urban center not once – but twice.
One might imagine that the US military and its allies would be eager to move against the northern governorate of Idlib in Syria – admittedly held by the terrorist HTS front.
Yet here the truth about America’s so-called “War on Terrorism” is revealed.
While extremists may have been based in Afghanistan in 2001 or active in the Iraqi city of Fallujah in 2004 – that is not why the United States moved against them. The US had overarching geopolitical plans that required the long-term occupation of Afghanistan – with the presence of extremists serving merely as a pretext to pursue these plans.
In Fallujah it was not the militants or their extremism that bothered the United States – as Washington had previously armed and backed many of the groups there in proxy conflicts for decades beforehand and for nearly two decades since – it was their resistance to the US occupation that triggered the two battles for the city.
Al Qaeda in northern Syria serves US interests – the fact that it appears on the US State Department’s own terrorist designation list is merely a political inconvenience at the moment – one the above-mentioned Newsweek article even admits US diplomats are trying to work around.
James Jeffrey, the U.S. special representative on Syria and special envoy to the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State militant group (ISIS), told a press briefing earlier this month he had not seen Hayat Tahrir al-Sham “planning or carrying out international terrorism attacks.” He made similar comments days earlier.
The obvious implications of Jeffery’s comment is that – at the moment and despite HTS’ status as a US-designated terrorist organization – the US does not see it as one. And not because HTS isn’t a terrorist organization – but simply because at the moment – such a designation is not politically convenient for US objectives in northern Syria.
So while the US has flattened entire cities in pursuit of “terrorists,” it currently seeks to complicate and draw out the Syrian conflict – placing the lives of “one million” civilians in the balance – in defense of terrorists.
The malignant nature of US foreign policy is fully illustrated by Washington and the US media’s stance regarding Al Qaeda’s HTS in northern Syria – amid circumstances where unequivocal terrorists threatening the lives of what the US itself claims are “one million” civilians have attracted the attention and support of American journalists and diplomats.
The coordinated nature of this support – spanning the corporate media and the US government itself – indicate just how deep the rot is within US foreign policymaking and helps explain why – no matter who sits in the White House – this agenda continues forward, unabated and unfazed no matter how much the light of truth is shone upon it.
The fact that large amounts of resources are still being invested by Washington and the US corporate media indicates that US efforts to destabilize and destroy Syria are still very much in play – and now more than ever those seeking to restore order in Syria must guard against complacency.
Covid-19: The Panic is Worse Than the Pathogen
Posted: 26 Mar 2020 12:28 AM PDT
March 26, 2020 (Tony Cartalucci – LD) – The Corona Virus Disease 2019 or “Covid-19” is a coronavirus similar to the virus that causes the common cold. Just like the common cold or the flu, Covid-19 is a danger to at-risk groups including the elderly and the chronically ill.
If you are not elderly and if you are in good health you have virtually no chance of dying from it.
For the vast majority of the population, Covid-19 is no more dangerous than the common cold. This is backed up by statistics already being reported across Western publications and based on information derived from China’s outbreak where the virus first appeared.
Compared to cancer, heart disease, substance abuse, or car accidents – Covid-19 is relatively harmless. But it has been put in the spotlight by deliberately dishonest, selective reporting that focuses on generating hysteria by presenting out-of-context information to an ignorant and easily panicked public.
If there is no global concern or massive mobilization over cancer and heart disease – conditions that claim far more lives than any virus – why the sudden hysteria and “concern” over what is essentially a cold?
Context is King
According to StatNews.com in their article, “Lower death rate estimates for coronavirus, especially for non-elderly, provide glimmer of hope:”
The chance of someone with symptomatic Covid-19 dying varied by age, confirming other studies. For those aged 15 to 44, the fatality rate was 0.5%, though it might have been as low as 0.1% or as high as 1.3%. For people 45 to 64, the fatality rate was also 0.5%, with a possible low of 0.2% and a possible high of 1.1%. For those over 64, it was 2.7%, with a low and high estimate of 1.5% and 4.7%.
The chance of serious illness from coronavirus infection in younger people was so low, the scientists estimate a fatality rate of zero.
Healthline.com would report in their article, “Here’s How COVID-19 Compares to Past Outbreaks,” that the most affected groups are:
…adults over 65 with underlying health conditions; children seem to be spared and are experiencing milder symptoms (in China, children account for just 2.4 percent of cases)
If that isn’t convincing enough, simply scrutinize content you’re already reading – especially regarding Covid-19 deaths – and see how old and in what health those are in reportedly dying from Covid-19. Many paragraphs down – far from the hysteria-generating headlines – you will find that those dying are already chronically ill, advanced in age, and/or already at risk whether it was Covid-19 or the common cold.
When deaths are reported without context they easily create panic.
When the number of Covid-19 deaths are put into perspective in relation to past outbreaks – or even side-by-side with the annual common cold or flu – we see just how unwarranted the current wave of hysteria is and how overreactions from governments are aimed more at saving face and assuaging public panic than preserving public health.
In Thailand where up to four deaths have been reported at the time of writing this article – the first case involved a man who already had Dengue fever – a serious, life-threatening tropical illness spread by mosquitoes.
The other 3 cases involved a 70 year old with pre-existing tuberculosis, a 79 year old with multiple pre-existing chronic illnesses, and a 45 year old suffering from obesity and chronic diabetes.
All four individuals would be considered “at-risk” and should have been isolated from those potentially carrying not only Covid-19 – but any communicable disease at all including the common cold or flu.
Do these deaths warrant paralyzing an entire nation of 70 million people? Or closing entire businesses and costing billions in commerce? The damage measures made in reaction to hysteria will cause more damage to many more people and for a much longer duration than Covid-19 ever could on its own.
Common Sense Measures
Measures should be put into place and resources invested into educating the public on how to isolate and protect at-risk individuals – efforts should be made to help those at risk isolate themselves and provisions – including investments in critical care equipment such as ventilators – made to handle the influx of at-risk patients who end up with Covid-19 regardless.
What should not be done – is the spread of panic, hysteria, and the imposition of draconian measures simply to assuage panic and hysteria – measures that will also gut the economy, impact millions of workers, and disrupt the lives of millions more who depend on the day-to-day functioning of society and who face little or no health risk upon contracting the virus.
These measures – ironically – are in turn fueling additional panic including hording and social tensions that are only compounding the damage “Covid-19 hysteria” is already having on society.
Who is Fueling Hysteria and Why?
There is the vastly corrupt mass media who depends on public panic and hysteria at times like this to boost clicks and sell newspapers. They also seek to advance their agenda and that of their wealthy sponsors and enhance their grip over the public’s attention. The media is determined to spread hysteria to keep people fixated on their reportage, completely indifferent to the damage they are causing.
There are also political groups – partnered with the media – attempting to leverage and amplify the appearance of Covid-19 into an unprecedented crisis despite a lack of evidence to justify doing so. Their interest is not in ensuring the safety of the public or maintaining oversight of government efforts – but instead leveraging the resulting hysteria to chip away at ruling governments they seek to destabilize and replace.
Aiding them are US and European-funded fronts posing as “human rights” advocates and “independent media” outlets. Groups like “Human Rights Watch” have attacked governments for not taking decisive enough action – then complained when decisive action was taken as being too draconian and violating “human rights.”
These are interest groups that are never satisfied with the government’s response to Covid-19 because they are interest groups completely unconcerned with Covid-19 itself and its impact on public health – and instead – concerned only with how they can generate and leverage public hysteria to advance their entirely unrelated and self-serving political agenda. Again, this is done with complete indifference to the damage being done to society by doing so.
What has resulted is governments around the globe taking measures in reaction to public panic – not to fight the actual pathogen. While draconian efforts to isolate the entire population may work in slowing the spread of Covid-19 – is it worth paralyzing entire economies, costing billions in economic damage, disrupting the lives of hundreds of millions of people who – if contracting Covid-19 – will have what is essentially a cold for a week?
The answer should be an obvious “no.”
Now and in the Future
The answer also isn’t “doing nothing.”
Again, at-risk groups can and should be protected. State resources should be mobilized to protect and isolate them from the general population and treat them in the worst case scenario should they contract the virus anyway. Public information campaigns should be mounted to encourage basic hygiene especially for those who may come in contact with at-risk individuals – something that should be done year-round and regardless of whatever strain of the cold or flu is prevalent at the time.
And just in case a genuinely deadly pathogen appears on the horizon, nations should invest in economic infrastructure that can thrive regardless – just in case nationwide containment ever truly is necessary. This includes investing in online commerce, delivery services, decentralized manufacturing, and localized food, water, and energy security measures – all measures that would make for a more resilient society regardless of the threats that may or may not appear in the future.
Panic has proven a greater enemy than the Covid-19 pathogen. That society can be crippled by politicians, political groups, and a corrupt mass media over what is essentially a slightly more virulent form of the common cold, says a lot about how the world currently works and what needs dire attention to fix.
From those driving needless hysteria to those caving into it at the cost of economic stability and the disruption of millions of ordinary lives – it’s clear that we face a precedent being set – one that will ensure virtually any excuse in the future can be used to cripple civilization on a global scale. It seems obvious this cannot be allowed to stand, but what is less clear is what can be done to ensure it does not.
It can be hoped that governments around the globe pressured by hysteria this time around will set up measures in the future to avoid caving in again.
For the average individual – knowing that virtually everything you read in the media is likely promoting an agenda and thus being misrepresented – gives you the ability to look for context and truth yourself and applying critical thinking skills – reducing your suseptibility to panic and hysteria – and innoculating us all against the real virus infecting society – a political and social virus.