The United States and United Kingdom suspended aid to rebels in north Syria after Islamist radicals seized a base and weapons warehouse from Western-backed forces near the Turkish border.
Meanwhile, the prominent investigative reporter Seymour Hersh and Syria-based Catholic Mother Superior Agnes-Mariam, the latter touring the United States, criticized Western officials, whom they say cherry-pick intelligence and media commentary to favor rebels.
The suspension of non-lethal aid “underlines a crisis” for the Free Syrian Army (FSA) leadership, Reuters reported, because the FSA needs international backing “to reinforce its credibility and to stop its fighters joining powerful al Qaida-backed Islamist militants who now dominate the war” against Syrian leader Bashar Al-Assad.
More generally, Hersh, at left, a New Yorker columnist writing for the London Review of Books, said President Obama “cherry-picked” U.S. intelligence to create a case that Assad’s government killed innocent civilians with a gas attack last August 21.
The Obama administration’s push to bomb Syria in September was halted only at the last moment by a last-minute deal brokered by Russia. Our Justice Integrity Project had reported problems with the administration narrative in a series of columns such as that Aug. 28 Show Proof To the Public on Syria and, the next month, Why Puppet Masters Need Presidents.
In a talk I attended Dec. 10 at the National Press Club, the Catholic mother superior, right, echoed Hersh’s criticism and reiterated her longstanding calls for foreign powers to stop encouraging war in Syria, thereby causing devastating harm to the populace.
“You put the American people into becoming a part of war crimes,” she said of her message, “not just one or two or three times, but in ongoing war crimes.” The abbess was based at the Monastery of St. James the Mutilated in Qara, which she fled in 2012 to a monastery in Damascus. Now 61, she was born in Lebanon, but has lived in Syria for 19 years.
Such critics of Western news coverage are rare following a coordinated push led by the United States, Britain, France, Turkey and the Gulf Arab monarchies to topple Assad, whose family has presided over a largely secular (non-religious), election-validated dictatorship for more than three decades. Hersh’s column this week was rejected, for example, by his New Yorker and the Washington Post.
However, the battlefield advances by Gulf-backed radical Muslims — including at the expense of the so-called moderates at FSA backed by the United States and Europeans — has led to increasing scrutiny in the West of both the Aug. 21 fatal gas attack in a rebel-held suburb of Damascus, and of the overall civil war.
At the same time, the Obama administration and its intelligence services are receiving criticism because of their global scandal over privacy violations by the National Security Agency and questions regarding the CIA’s secret military activities.
Those activities include the administration’s drone killings in the Mideast of civilians and what some allege is complicity in smuggling radical fighters and weapons into Syria, including from Benghazi. My new book, Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters, describes that illicit arms smuggling via Benghazi, which is almost never reported by the establishment media even thought it has has been a theme of Frank Wolf, a senior Republican congressman from Virginia largely ignored by both parties in Washington.