By contrast, Saudi Arabia, our dear friend in the region, is the embodiment of everything we claim we are against. There is absolutely no religious freedom in Saudi Arabia whereas both Iran and Syria allow citizens to worship according to their own beliefs. Outside of Israel, the largest population of Jews lives in Iran. And, in Syria, Jews are allowed to practice their religion without interference.
And this is only the start of a discussion of freedoms in the region. Freedom barely exists at all in Saudi Arabia while it is fairly well advanced in both Syria and Iran... freedoms of various types and on various levels.
The truth is that these two countries have attempted to maintain their own identity and have rejected submission to the United States. Our 'client states' in the region have capitulated to what is dictated from the Washington DC.
Our 'client states' are repressive and backward in western terms while our 'enemies' in the area are much more progressive, more responsive to the needs and desires of the populations, and have better records in terms of 'democracy' and human rights.
If one looks at what we say we are doing in the world... spreading freedom and democracy, and if one looks at what we are actually doing in the world... regime change and empire building, we must appear to be psychologically deranged. And that seems to be an adequate description of our foreign policy... 'psychologically deranged' !!! And, it is this mental impairment, this intellectual disability that explains why we consider Iran to be our enemy in spite of all evidence to the contrary; and, why we are in Syria against all common sense.
Here's another question waiting for some kind of reasonable explanation... "why are we at war in Yemen?" According to Micah Zenko of Foreign Policy, it is "A military operation that lacks clear courses of action, coherent objectives, or an intended end state is, nothing more than the random, purposeless application of force against some enemy."
Immoral behavioral disorder is really the only diagnosis that fits the circumstances surrounding our chosen path in relating to other nations of the world !!!
The Truth About Syria: A MANUFACTURED WAR Against An INDEPENDENT COUNTRY
from Mint Press
The people of the world should ask Western leaders and their allies: Why are you prolonging this war? Why do you continue funding and enabling the terrorists? Isn’t five years of civil war enough? Is overthrowing the Syrian government really worth so much suffering and death?
In late April, President Barack Obama announced that 250 U.S. special operations troops are being deployed to Syria. Unlike the Russian and Iranian forces aiding anti-terrorism efforts in the country, the U.S. military personnel have entered Syria against the wishes of the internationally recognized government.
In terms of international law, the United States has invaded Syria, a sovereign country and United Nations member state. This is the not the first time, though — Arizona Sen. John Mccain crossed into Syria without a visa to meet with anti-government fighters in 2013.
While the new U.S. boots on the ground have officially been dispatched for the purpose of fighting Daesh (an Arabic acronym for the organization known in the West as ISIS or ISIL), they will most likely be working to achieve one of the Pentagon’s longstanding foreign policy goals: violently overthrowing the Syrian government.
As the terrorism of Daesh and other extremists grows more intense, and as millions of Syrians have become refugees, the heavy costs of the U.S. government’s “regime change” operation in Syria should come into question.
Education, health care and national rebirth
The independent nationalist Syrian government, now being targeted by Western foreign policy, was born in the struggle against colonialism. It took decades of great sacrifice from the people of Syria to break the country free from foreign domination — first by the French empire and later from puppet leaders. For the last several decades, Syria has been a strong, self-reliant country in the oil-rich Middle East region. It has also been relatively peaceful.
Since winning its independence, Syria’s Baathist leadership has done a great deal to improve the living standards of the population. Between 1970 and 2009, the life expectancy in Syria increased by 17 years. During this time period infant mortality dropped dramatically from 132 deaths per 1,000 live births to only 17.9.
According to an article published by the Avicenna Journal of Medicine, these notable changes in access to public health came as a result of the Syrian government’s efforts to bring medical care to the country’s rural areas.
A 1987 country study of Syria, published by the U.S. Library of Congress, describes huge achievements in the field of education. During the 1980s, for the first time in Syria’s history, the country achieved “full primary school enrollment of males” with 85 percent of females also enrolled in primary school.
In 1981, 42 percent of Syria’s adult population was illiterate. By 1991, illiteracy in Syria had been wiped out by a mass literacy campaign led by the government.
The name of the main political party in Syria is the “Baath Arab Socialist Party.” The Arabic word “Baath” literally translates to “Rebirth” or “Resurrection.” In terms of living standards, the Baathist Party has lived up to its name, forging an entirely new country with an independent, tightly planned and regulated economy.
The Library of Congress’ Country Study described the vast construction in Syria during the 1980s: “Massive expenditures for development of irrigation, electricity, water, road building projects, and the expansion of health services and education to rural areas contributed to prosperity.”
Compared to Saudi-dominated Yemen, many parts of Africa, and other corners of the globe that have never established economic and political independence, the achievements of the Syrian Arab Republic look very attractive.
Despite over half a century of investment from Shell Oil and other Western corporations, the CIA World Factbook reports that about 60 percent of Nigerians are literate, and access to housing and medical care is very limited. In U.S.-dominated Guatemala, roughly 18 percent of the population is illiterate, and poverty is rampant across the countryside, according to the CIA World Factbook.
What the Western colonizers failed to achieve during centuries of domination, the independent Syrian government achieved rapidly with help from the Soviet Union and other anti-imperialist countries.
The Soviet Union provided Syria with a $100 million loan to build the Tabqa dam on the Euphrates River, which was “considered to be the backbone of all economic and social development in Syria.” Nine-hundred Soviet technicians worked on the infrastructure project which brought electricity to many parts of the country. The dam also enabled irrigation throughout the Syrian countryside.
More recently, China has set up many joint ventures with Syrian energy corporations. According to a report from the Jamestown Foundation, in 2007 China had already invested “hundreds of millions of dollars” in Syria in efforts to “modernize the country’s aging oil and gas infrastructure.”
These huge gains for the Syrian population should not be dismissed and written off, as Western commentators routinely do when repeating their narrative of “Assad the Dictator.” For people who have always had access to education and medical care, it is to trivialize such achievements.
But for the millions of Syrians, especially in rural areas, who lived in extreme poverty just a few decades ago, things like access to running water, education, electricity, medical care, and university education represent a huge change for the better.
Like almost every other regime in the crosshairs of U.S. foreign policy, Syria has a strong, domestically-controlled economy. Syria is not a “client state” like the Gulf state autocracies surrounding it, and it has often functioned in defiance of the U.S. and Israel. It is this, not altruistic concerns about human rights, that motivate Western attacks on the country.
Syria needs reform, not terrorism.
In 2012, Syria ratified a new constitution in response to the protests during the Arab Spring. In compliance with the new constitution, Syria held a contested election in 2014, with international observers from 14 countries.
One thing that distinguishes Syria from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, and various other U.S.-aligned regimes throughout the region is religious freedom. In Syria, Sunnis, Christians, Alawites, Druze, Jews, and other religious groups are permitted to practice their religious faith freely.
The government is secular, and respects the rights of the Sunni Muslim majority as well as religious minorities.
In addition to religious freedom, Syria openly tolerates the existence of two strong Marxist-Leninist parties. The Syrian Communist Party and the Syrian Communist Party (Bakdash) openly operate as part of the anti-imperialist coalition supporting the Baath Arab Socialist Party. Communists lead trade unions and community organizations in Damascus and other parts of the country.
Though Syrian President Bashar Assad is an Alawite, his wife, Asma, is Sunni like the majority of the country.
Why Is Iran Our Enemy?
It’s a repressive theocracy, but Iran is no threat to the United States and is a staunch opponent of jihadi groups like ISIL and al-Qaeda.
By Jeff Faux / The Nation
“Where are you from?” the elderly man asked politely, as my wife and I strolled through his small Iranian village in early May.
“America,” I answered.
“Wonderful,” he said, grabbing my shoulders and giving me the traditional three kisses on my cheeks. “I am so glad you are here.”
Then he asked, “But why does your government hate us so much?”
I am not shy about criticizing U.S. government policies—when I’m home in America. But, when I’m abroad, I tend to get defensive about my country. So, I muttered something about the importance of people of different nations getting to know each other independent of their politicians, and turned our conversation to the history of his ancient town.
But his question—asked of us by many other ordinary Iranians happy to meet American visitors—deserves a better response. Not so much to explain our foreign policy to Iranians, but to ourselves.
Demonization of Iran runs wide and deep in our mainstream politics. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump tell us that Iran is the world’s chief sponsor of terrorism, aimed at taking over the whole Middle East, if not the world (this echoes the State Department, which in its recently released annual report calls Iran the world’s greatest state sponsor of terrorism). Both have declared themselves ready and eager to “strike” and “obliterate” Iran.
Republican Senator Ted Cruz says flatly that Iran intends to launch a nuclear attack against the United States. Mike Huckabee and Benjamin Netanyahu, who must be considered an American as well as an Israeli politician, say that Iran is preparing the ovens for another holocaust of the Jews.
In 2013, when there was no evidence that Iran was building a nuclear bomb, Vice President Joe Biden announced that—just in case—“all options, including military force, are on the table.”
Following their leaders, most Americans have strongly negative opinions of Iran.
Polls report that they see the country as only slightly less dangerous than nuclear-armed North Korea. Despite the public’s support for non-proliferation, a majority opposed Barack Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran. To protect that agreement, Obama is piling on to the already massive U.S. military assistance to Saudi Arabia and Israel, with the curious rationale that Iran, now that it has forsworn nuclear weapons, is somehow more of a menace to them than it was before.
The animosity, of course, is mutual. Since 1979, Iran has been ruled by Islamic theocrats who use the Quran to justify the suppression of domestic political freedom and the denial of civil and human rights. With materialist goals subordinate to religious values, and hobbled by U.S.-led global sanctions, the economy consistently sputters. The sanctions allow the ruling mullahs to divert discontent by blaming outsiders for the nation’s troubles—in particular, the “Great Satan,” America, and its ally Israel.
To American ears this language sounds shrill and paranoid. It recalls images of the angry mobs that in 1979 stormed into the U.S. embassy in Tehran and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days. But to Iranians it is rooted in historical experience.
After all, the United States engineered the 1953 coup against their democratically elected secular government and imposed a ruthless monarchy on the country for 25 years. The organization of the Shah’s murderous and torture-addicted secret police was a joint venture of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and Israel’s Mossad.
When the Iranians finally revolted and deposed the Shah, the U.S. backed the 1980 attack on Iran by Iraq under Saddam Hussein. The eight-year war cost Iran an estimated million casualties, including at least 300,000 soldiers killed and tens of thousands still suffering the effects of the chemical weapons used by the Iraqi army, with the collaboration of the United States.
Today, enter almost any urban neighborhood or rural village in Iran and you will see prominently displayed photos of the local men—and a few women—who were killed in that war.
During that war, a U.S. missile cruiser entered Iranian waters and shot down an Iranian civilian airliner, killing some 290 passengers. We never apologized, and the trigger-happy U.S. naval commander was later decorated for “exceptionally meritorious conduct.”
U.S. warships continue to violate Iranian sovereignty in the Persian Gulf.
The accumulated distrust of American intentions extends to the U.S.-engineered economic boycott over Iran’s nuclear program. Our expressions of angst over nuclear proliferation seem less than honest, given that America tolerated the development of nuclear weapons in both Israel and Pakistan—both of whom have refused, unlike Iran, to sign the non-proliferation treaty.
Today, many Iranians doubt the United States will actually deliver on the commitments it has made to loosen financial restrictions on investment and trade.
Still, despite the inflammatory rhetoric of its leaders, Iran is by no stretch of the imagination a serious threat to the United States, Europe, its Arab neighbors, or Israel. At best, it is a third-rate military power with a dysfunctional economy who’s entire GDP is only a little over 60 percent of the U.S. military budget.
The supposedly terrified Israel has somewhere between 80 and 200 missiles with nuclear warheads that could send Iran back to the Stone Age in minutes. There is no evidence to suggest that even the most fanatical elements in the Iranian government are suicidal.
Pakistan, on Iran’s border, is similarly armed. The two other major powers in the region, Turkey and Egypt, are militarily superior to Iran. Even Saudi Arabia, with one-third of Iran’s population, has a bigger and better air force.
Beyond its military weakness, Iran’s “soft power” appeal in the region is also limited. Neither its people nor their language is Arabic. And in a part of the world where religious sectarianism is taken very seriously, Iran’s brand of Islam is Shia, which represents less than 15 percent of the Muslims in the Middle East and North Africa.
Like all sovereign states, Iran tries to influence events in its neighborhood. Given the lingering trauma of the war with Iraq, the Saudi/Sunni rivalry and the hostility of the U.S. superpower, Tehran’s primary objective is stability on its western border. This means friendly governments in Iraq, which has a Shia majority, and in Syria, where despite a Sunni majority, the ruling class is Alawite, an offshoot of Shiism.
Like all Islamic states, Iran supports the Palestinian cause against Israel. Here again, a sub-context is rivalry with Saudi Arabia. Iran was a major supporter of Hamas until recently, when the wealthier Saudis elbowed them out. It also remains the primary outside backer of Lebanon’s Hezbollah, although in recent years Iran’s economic troubles led to cutbacks in its financial support.
In any event, there has been no significant fighting between Hezbollah and Israel in ten years,
Historically, the biggest opponents of the Syrian government have been supporters of the Muslim brotherhood, with a bloody episode taking place in 1982.
save for a few skirmishes when one or another’s soldiers get too close to the border.
Coming from the U.S. foreign-policy hawks whose Middle East interventions
Hoping to heal the longstanding tension, President Assad has made many gestures of solidarity toward the Sunni community in recent years. He has made a point of engaging in religious practices not commonly done by Alawites, such as praying in mosques and studying the Quran.
Shortly after fighting began in 2011, the Syrian government granted autonomy to Kurdish regions and transferred political authority to leftist Kurdish nationalist organizations.
Syria’s political system is certainly in need of reform and modernization, and representatives of the Syrian government such as U.N. Ambassador Bashar Al-Jaafari readily admit this. However, the civil war which has raged across Syria for the last five years, is not about reform, democratization or modernization.
The BBC published a “guide to Syrian rebels” in 2013. Among them are not only the infamous “Islamic State” organization, which now horrifies the world, but also the Nusra Front, previously known as Al-Qaida in Syria. Other organizations with names like the “Islamic Front,” the “Islamic Liberation Front,” and the “Ahfad al-Rasoul Brigades” are also listed.
While Western media presents the Syrian civil war as a “battle for democracy” led by “revolutionaries,” the primary goal of almost every insurgent organization is creating a Sunni caliphate — one that does not actually suit Sunnis though, but rather a perverted politicized version of Sunnism created by Saudi Arabia to ideologically control that region.
The unifying religious perspective of the Syrian “rebels” is the interpretation of Sunni Islam practiced and promoted by Saudi Arabia, known as Wahhabism.
A large number of the insurgents are not Syrian. Impoverished people from throughout the Middle East have been recruited to fight against the Syrian government. Facilities in Bahrain train recruits to kill, and send them to Syria.
Terrorist training facilities exist in many other U.S.-aligned Gulf states. Foreign fighters from as far away as Malaysia and the Philippines have been found among the ranks of the foreign Wahhabi insurgents that are trying to depose the Syrian government.
The flow of violent insurgents into Syria is not accidental. It has been directly facilitated by the U.S. and its allies. The CIA has spent billions of dollars on training camps in Jordan for anti-government fighters.
The U.S.-aligned regimes of Turkey and Saudi Arabia are openly supporting the Nusra Front, the Al-Qaida-linked organization that has already killed tens of thousands of innocent people in Syria. Gen. David Petraeus has called for the U.S. to join these efforts and begin sending arms directly to the Nusra Front.
The Israeli government has made a point of aiding the Wahhabi extremists by providing them medical care in the occupied Golan Heights. Israel has also made a point of targeting allies of the Syrian government with airstrikes.
While Western media has highlighted allegations that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons, Carla Del Ponte from the United Nations confirmed that the foreign-backed insurgents have long been been using sarin nerve gas and other chemical weapons.
As the insurgents make life unlivable in Syria, kidnapping for ransom, bombing schools and hospitals, beheading people, torturing people, they do it with thousands of child soldiers among their ranks. Impoverished children from across the Arab world have been recruited to work toward violently overthrowing the Syrian government, according to UNICEF.
Between 50 and 72 percent of the population lives in areas controlled by the Syrian government. Meanwhile, even USAID confirmed that the turnout in Syria’s 2014 elections was more than 70 percent.
While the barrage of foreign fighters and extremists, aligned with a minority of the population and armed by Western powers and their allies, is committed to bringing down the Syrian government, the Syrian people clearly disagree.
The fact that the Syrian government remains strongly intact after a five-year onslaught shows that the country is dedicated to preserving its independence. Time magazine and other mainstream media outlets have even been forced to admit that President Assad is unlikely to be deposed.
How can the war end? As foreign fighters have flowed into Syria, hundreds of thousands of people have died over the last five years, and Western media continues to blame the Syrian government for the conflict. However, the war would have been a very short one if not for the foreign support given to the extremists.
As an independent country with a centrally planned economy, Syria has serves as an example to the world. It has proven that without neoliberalism and Western economic domination, it is possible to improve living conditions and develop independently.
The Syrian government has made huge sacrifices to aid the Palestinian people and their resistance against Israel, and this has been a contributing factor to Syria’s inclusion on the State Department’s State Sponsors of Terrorism list. Syria has close economic relations with Russia and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The war in Syria is not a domestic conflict. This is a war imposed on Syria by Israel, the U.S., and other Western capitalist powers. The primary promoter of Wahhabi extremism around the world has been the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a U.S. client state. Turkey and Jordan, U.S.-aligned countries bordering Syria, keep their borders open so that weapons, supplies and money can continue to flow into the hands of Daesh and other anti-government terrorists.
At least 470,000 people are dead, and millions of others have been forced to become refugees, but Western leaders and their allies do not end their campaign. The insane chorus of “Assad Must Go” has transformed a small, domestic episode of unrest into a full-scale humanitarian crisis. The war has nothing to do with the calls for democratic reform and the peaceful protests of 2011.
As Daesh now threatens the entire world, the consequences of the Wall Street regime change operation, promoted with “human rights” propaganda, are becoming far more extreme. The Syrian government rallies a coalition of Christians, Communists, Islamic Revolutionaries, and other forces who are fighting to maintain stability and defeat Takfiri terrorism. (The term “Takfiri” refers to groups of Sunni Muslims who refer to other Muslims as apostates and seek to establish a caliphate by means of violence.)
lit the fuse of civil war, religious fanaticism, and barbarism, the charge that Iran is the source of regional instability is absurd.
It becomes more so when you consider that Iran is arguably the Middle Eastern country that is most unequivocally opposed to ISIL, al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and other militant Sunnis. Indeed, Iranian support for the Iraqi army and the affiliated Shia militias is now crucial to U.S. success against ISIL, including the plan to recapture Mosul. As Vali Nasr, former adviser to Barack Obama and now dean of the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, told The New York Times, “The only way in which the Obama administration can credibly stick with its strategy is by implicitly assuming that the Iranians will carry most of the weight and win the battles on the ground.”
Moreover, while our supposed allies, the Saudis, were busy covering up their links to the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks, the Iranians granted the United States permission to fly to Afghanistan over their territory, agreed to help rescue downed American pilots, and provided assistance to the Northern Alliance—America’s military ally in the U.S. invasion. All of which American officials have acknowledged.
In return, George W. Bush, in his 2002 State of the Union speech, attacked Iran as part of an international “Axis of Evil,” helping to undermine those within Iran calling for a softening of relations.
As Michael Axworthy, a former head of the Iran desk at the British Foreign Office, notes, “It reinforced the hardliners’ position on the U.S. and the West—that they could not be trusted.”
This fear of the West is enormously useful to the Islamic reactionaries in their ongoing struggle to keep control of Iran’s future. The conservative Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, rules for life and commands the loyalty of the armed forces.
But there is a sizable and growing popular movement in Iran for more liberal foreign—as well as domestic—policies, including more contact with the United States. Despite the obstacles to democracy, in 2013 the people elected a progressive reformer, Hassan Rouhani, as president, who, after a two-year struggle, led Khamenei to accept the nuclear agreement.
Evidence of growing Westernization is widespread in Iran—in the shops and shopping malls, the billboards advertising appliances and cars, the cellphones and selfies, and especially in the visible pushback by women against the strict Islamic dress code. Social life is nowhere near as repressive as in the U.S.-supported theocracies of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Oman, or Turkmenistan. Women in Iran drive cars, manage businesses, and are elected to public office.
Between 20,000 and 30,000 Jews live in Iran—the largest Jewish population in the Middle East outside of Israel. There are some 60 synagogues, a Jewish Member of Parliament, and a memorial in Tehran to Jewish soldiers who served in the war with Iraq. Jews, like Christians and Zoroastrians, are allowed to practice their religion, but not to proselytize. It’s no liberal democracy, but hardly Nazi Germany—or Saudi Arabia.
So, as the Iranian villager asked, why does our government hate them so much?
The only answer that makes sense is that it reflects the subordination of U.S. policy in the Middle East to the interests of 1) the despotic dynasties that rule Saudi Arabia and the gulf sheikdoms; 2) the Israeli government, especially under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; and 3) the American politicians, pundits, lobbyists, and national-security bureaucrats whose careers and bank accounts are enhanced by both.
It is in the interests of all three to divert attention from the catastrophic consequences of our intervention in the region.
How else can you explain the Bush and Obama administrations’ reluctance to confront the ruling classes of the gulf sheikdoms for their nurturing of ISIL and other terrorists groups inspired by the Saudis’ own Wahhabi fundamentalism? Only when ISIL threatened the Saudis themselves did their support for the Islamic State cease, although it continues to flow to the principal al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria.
And how else can we explain the U.S. supply of weapons (including cluster bombs) and aerial intelligence to the Gulf States’ intervention against the Houthi Shias in Yemen, while letting them go AWOL in the war against the Sunni ISIL?
For Netanyahu, Iran provides the monster needed to rationalize and divert attention from his own disastrous and brutal policies in the West Bank and Gaza. During the 1980s, the monster was Iraq under Saddam Hussein. After Saddam’s regime was destroyed and Iraq was occupied by the United States, an alleged genocidal and irrational Iran became the principal horror narrative of the Israeli right wing, a line promptly echoed by the U.S. policy class.
To Barack Obama’s credit, he was willing to push through the snake pit of divided Washington loyalties to achieve the nuclear deal—far more important to our national security than isolating Iran. To complete the deal he must also make sure that the United States lives up to its promise that it will not punish international bankers who provide capital for urgently needed economic development projects in Iran.
A growing economy should in turn reinforce the still fragile shoots of liberal democracy sprouting in that ancient land. It will of course take time to erode the mutual mistrust between the governing classes of the two countries.
But for ordinary Americans, understanding that Iran is not our existential enemy should help us to answer the larger question of exactly what we are doing in the Middle East.
Jeff Faux is the founder and former president of the Economic Policy Institute and the author of the new book, The Servant Economy: Where America's Elite is Sending the Middle Class.
As U.S. media bemoans the humanitarian crisis, somehow blaming on the Syrian government and its president, and the U.S. directly sends its military forces into the country, the people of the world should ask Western leaders and their allies: Why are you prolonging this war? Why can’t you just leave Syria alone? Why do you continue funding and enabling the terrorists? Isn’t five years of civil war enough? Is overthrowing the Syrian government really worth so much suffering and death?
Caleb Maupin is a MintPress journalist and political analyst who resides in New York City focusing his coverage on US foreign policy and the global system of monopoly capitalism and imperialism.