Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

April 28, 2018

The shifting sands of Assadist propaganda

Filed under: Syria — louisproyect @ 7:08 pm

Two days ago, RT.com published an article based on the testimony of 17 Syrians that no chemical attack took place in Douma. Basically, they are defending the position of Robert Fisk:

The hospital received people who suffered from smoke and dust asphyxiation on the day of the alleged attack, Muwaffak Nasrim, a paramedic who was working in emergency care, said. The panic seen in footage provided by the White Helmets was caused mainly by people shouting about the alleged use of chemical weapons, Nasrim, who witnessed the chaotic scenes, added. No patients, however, displayed symptoms of chemical weapons exposure, he said.

If that story doesn’t have the desired result of fingering the White Helmets for a “false flag”, RT.com offers an alternative version so you have multiple choices like between brown rice or white rice at your favorite Chinese restaurant.

Just two days prior to the article cited above, RT.com offered up an article titled “‘Whole story was staged’: Germany’s ZDF reporter says Douma incident was false flag attack”. Well, it might have been staged but the script had a different plot line entirely:

The scene of the attack, which allegedly took place on April 7, was in fact the “command post” of a local Islamist group, the reporter said, citing the witnesses he was able to speak to at the refugee camp.

He went on to say that, according to the locals, the militants brought canisters containing chlorine to the area and “actually waited for the Syrian Air Force to bomb the place, which was of particular interest for them.”

As the Syrian forces eventually struck the place, which was apparently a high-priority military target, the chlorine canisters exploded. The locals also told Gack that it is not the first such provocation in Douma that was staged by the militants.

You get a Douma resident named Khaled Mahmoud Nuseir backing up ZDF’s reporting on this AP video. He states that his wife and children were killed by chlorine gas but blamed the jihadis. I should hasten to add that the interviewee was being watched by the Syrian military as he spoke to AP but why should that matter? They would never threaten anybody with dire consequences, even the 11-year old boy they interrogated in military headquarters and who has become noted for his claim that nothing happened in Douma except being splashed with water in a hospital. Why would he ever feel intimidated? Everybody knows how scrupulous the regime is about respecting the right of peaceful dissent.

So, which is it? Chlorine canisters exploding or a dust storm? In warning about the perfidy of the mainstream media, Max Blumenthal found both Fisk and Khaled Mahmoud Nuseir convincing even though their stories clashed. Par for the course, I suppose.

There’s nothing new about this. Every time there has been a major story developing about a chemical attack in Syria, Putin and Assad’s propaganda brigade has put out multiple and contradictory accounts, all hinging on the false flag narrative.

On August 21, 2013, East Ghouta was subjected to a sarin gas attack that left hundreds killed. One of the first defenders of the regime was Mint Press, an online newspaper based in Minneapolis edited by Mnar Muhawesh, an Iranian-American. She published an article under the byline of Dale Gavlak and Yahya Ababneh that claimed that local rebels had mishandled sarin gas supplies—maybe like the Three Stooges or Laurel and Hardy. Sarin leaked out of broken bottles and killed a bunch of rebel supporters. This was not a “false flag” story but good enough to be picked up by all the usual suspects and spun that way, including Consortium News.

Among those giving credit to the Mint Press account was Jim Naureckas of FAIR, a leftist media watchdog that has disgraced itself through its servile transmission of Assadist propaganda. Not long after Naureckas’s piece appeared, FAIR had to issue a correction since Dale Gavrak, a long-time and respected member of the press, issued a statement that the article had nothing to do with her. Her name had been attached to it without her permission.

Eventually, the Assadist left lined up with the version put forward by Theodore Postol and Richard Lloyd. They did not specifically identify what happened as a false flag but concluded that the villages that suffered the attack were out of range from regime rocket launchers. So, draw your own conclusion even if this involves a failure to account for the failure of these nihilistic, medieval-minded terrorists to ever turn their guns around–to use the Leninist formulation–and aim them at the Syrian military. Evidently, they prefer to kill their own children.

Postol would figure once again in a chemical attack incident that garnered front page attention. As it happens, people like Postol, Blumenthal, et al generally don’t pay attention to chemical attacks that are beneath the media radar. For example, there were 3 chlorine gas attacks in Douma prior to the one that got Trump’s attention but our Assadists did not bother to mount a “false flag” propaganda campaign.

On April 4, 2017, Khan Sheikhoun suffered a sarin gas attack that led Trump to launch a missile attack, which like the latest one killed not a single Syrian and also prompted an advance phone call to the Kremlin.

Postol offered clashing versions of what took place in Khan Sheikhoun, with each one superseding the previous one and lapped up eagerly by the Assadist left. In his final report, he refers to a French intelligence report that supposedly falsifies the White House allegation that it was a fixed-wing jet that dropped a sarin-laden bomb. The French named a helicopter as the culprit. Subsequently, it was discovered that Postol had confused a French report from 2013  rather than the one about Khan Sheikhoun 4 years later that took place on April 29th rather than April 4th. Well, I guess we can be thankful that Theodore Postol has not gone near hazardous substances in MIT’s labs given his failing intellectual powers. The prestigious university might have gone up in smoke ages ago.

There were also clashing versions over what caused the fatalities. Some like Postol made the case for rebels detonating a ground-level bomb that sprayed sarin gas while others like Gareth Porter argued that it was the accidental bombing of a warehouse that contained phosphine-producing smoke munitions. This accident produced a toxic cloud that killed a bunch of locals supposedly. Seymour Hersh, addled as ever, theorized that the toxic cloud probably came from a bomb dropped on organophosphate-based fertilizer used by local farmers or chlorine used to clean corpses prior to Islamic burial (they use soap and water instead.) He likely meant to say pesticides rather than fertilizers, as other “experts” claimed, since this is generally where you will find organophosphates in a farm belt. That bombing fertilizer is incapable of generating toxic fumes hardly mattered to Hersh, whose investigations of such incidents is as preposterous as Postol’s. Additionally, even when pesticides explode, you don’t find such a lethal outcome as I pointed out here.

None of this mattered to the Assadist left. Google “Gareth Porter” and “Khan Sheikhoun” and you will end up with 8,700 results. Ironically, for at least one Assadist, his analysis is a bridge too far. When Tim Hayward wrote a massive article accusing the rebels of being responsible for all of these chemical attacks, a commenter named Adrian, who trolled my blog a week ago, reminded him of Porter’s phosphine speculations. This led Hayward’s fellow conspiracy theorist Paul McKeigue to offer his own comment to Adrian warning against taking Porter seriously: “Unfortunately the article by Gareth Porter that you link to contains serious scientific errors. Porter appears to think that positive results in lab tests for sarin exposure could be caused by phosphine.” Well, of course. Anybody who read my post on this would have understood this. As googling “Louis Proyect” and “Khan Sheikhoun” only returns 342 results, naturally Porter’s propaganda has the inside track.

Most of the time, however, atrocities in Syria do not involve chemical weapons and thus do not require pseudo-scientific conjectures from the likes of Postol and Porter. Dropping barrel bombs can hardly avoid being recorded on an iPhone, after all. A search for “barrel bombs” on Youtube will turn up 89,300 results.

But, no worry. The democratically elected president of Syria, who enjoyed 98 percent of the vote in 2007, denied that a single barrel bomb had ever been dropped in an February 10, 2015 BBC interview:

Q: What about barrel bombs, you don’t deny that your forces use them?

A: I know about the army, they use bullets, missiles, and bombs. I haven’t heard of the army using barrels, or maybe, cooking pots.

Q: Large barrels full of explosives and projectiles which are dropped from helicopters and explode with devastating effect. There’s been a lot of testimony about these things.

A: They’re called bombs. We have bombs, missiles and bullets… There is [are] no barrel bombs, we don’t have barrels.

If Assad can get away with such brazen lies, what makes you think that he wouldn’t dragoon 17 pour souls from Douma, including an 11-year old boy, into backing him up on the Douma chemical attack?


This was a comment on the post by Greg Gelembluk, a FB friend:

There’s remarkable similarity between the disinformation tactics used by the Assad regime/Russia and that used by Franco’s Nationalists/Germany during the Spanish Civil War.

After the infamous bombing of Guernica, the Nationalists/Germany:

1. Made false flag claims (asserted that they hadn’t bombed the town – that, instead, Republican forces set the town on fire to generate international sympathy/intervention).

2. Trotted a group of Nationalist-accredited journalists through Guernica (e.g. William Carney, Georges Botto, and James Holburn), to generate articles absolving the Nationalists – directly analogous to Assad regime/Russian tactics with Robert Fisk, Pearson Sharp, etc.

3. Offered “witnesses” (prisoners taken by the Nationalists) to testify that Republican forces set the town on fire.

4. Franco set up a fake commission to determine the cause of the destruction of Guernica.

5. Claimed that other nations were ignoring Hitler’s sincere humanitarian diplomatic efforts.

It’s all incredibly analogous to what we’re seeing now in Syria.

Here are several news articles that were a product of the Nationalists/Germany disinformation offensive:



  1. For years I have been reading here not only what an Asses the supporters of the Assads of Syrian are I have also been reading that the interest that Iran and Russia show in the fate of Syria is driven not by any geo strategic considerations but by simple imperialistic calculations. Up until now I have always thought that these charges were absurd. Yes I did think that Putin and Khamenei were overestemating the importance of Syria in defending their own countries against atacks by the UKSA and its NATO partners. But I did not by the they are only there to meet their own imperialistic desires charge because I thought that Syria could not ever hope to really be any sort of a decent colony for even Iran let alone Russia.
    After all what is Syria? It is esssentially a provence of a bigger Nation. It has a mere 15 million people and I is not exactly blessed like Russia or Iran with vast treasures of natrual resources. Or so I thought.
    Well as the links below will show I now understand the true reason why Iran and Russia are are spending such large amounts of money to maintain influence in Syria. Louis often complains that I do not provide enough links to my assertions so I will make sure that I provide lots of entertaining reading for who are not working on a hot Sunday afternoon.
    So this finally explains why Iran and Russia prop up a government that is hated by my estmation at least 65% of its native population. The leadership of these two leading imperialist countries hop to rob Syria of its sand and to be able to use this valuable Syrian ground resource to be able to manipulate world concrete and glass markets and to use that money to build winter palaces in Yazd and summer palaces in Vladivostalk.
    Of course these countries are working with the UKSA and their NATO allies like a hand with in a glove because it should be obviously clear the USA was far more interested in ensuring that a no government comes to power in Syria that will actually raise the quality of life for most Syrians. What ever words the leadership of the USA might have uttered under the Obama administration Louis has demonstrated quite clearly that the USA has stabbed in the back all sides that they claim that they were supporting in Syria, except for the Israelis of course.
    If the United States had wanted to it could have swept both Russian and Iranian forces out of Syria in 15 minutes. Do I need to document that in terms of military capablities comparing Russia and the USA is like comparing a misquito and an elephant. Do I need to document that comparing the military capabilities of the UKSA and Iran is like comparing a deer tick with an elephant. Deer ticks are the really tiny kind about the size of the period at the end of this sentence as compared to a dog tick which is brown and black and about the size of a child’s finger nail.
    Of course I am not about to complain that the USA did not use that immense power to help topple Assad. I do not give a shit if he was unpopular. in every country on this planet between 78% and 98% of the population are complete idiots, politically speaking. It is not the job of the USA, even if I were running it, to give these idiots what they want. And of the remaining 22% to 2% in every country, many of them are not interested in building a sustainable just society. Large numbers of them simply want to take advantage of the vulnerable part(s) of the population.
    It is up to the unique minority in each country to set its nation in order. To the extent that Assads henchmen have engaged in crimes against his people, such as torture, revenge should be achieved by the Syrian victims. To the extent that the UKSA has hindered this process I do complain. But more importantly let the cases of Syria, and Vietnam, and Korea, and Germany, and Japan, and Spain serve as a warning making the USA or the UK or France an ally of attempt to free your nation from oppression or imperialism.
    The Russian and the Iranian Governments each promised me 100 shares in a joint sand corperation that will operate in Syria starting in the near future for writing this op/ed which extols the virtues of vocations or even health treatment in Yazd and Vladivostalk respectively.

    Comment by Curt Kastens — April 29, 2018 @ 4:37 pm

  2. in shortening up my comments abouve I made a small error in editing. I wrote that “I did not by the they are there (supporting Assad in Syria) only to meet their artisitc desires”, it is probably not clear that what I meant to say was that I did not buy the CLAIM that they supported Assad for imperialistic motives.

    Comment by Curt Kastens — April 29, 2018 @ 4:48 pm

  3. I just saw Louis`s comments on the Petrified Assadism strand. Did you know that the word petrified can mean turned to stone or it can mean to be very frightened. I myself am very frightened right now.
    It could be said that my charge that the population of every country consits of 78% to 98% idiots, politcially speaking is a stupid thing to say because it mocks a sacred cow, that being that legitimate power comes from the consent of the governed. It would have been possible to create a society in which the masses had been developed enough to see through the disinfomation that they are daily saturated with, if it had been done before global warming had melted the artic ice cap.
    Sadly we live in a world in which important context of our history is competely unkown, outside of a few expets. For example how many people can deduce from facts which are not in despute that the USA and UK did not fight WW 2 against Germany but used Germany to wage war on the USSR? Virturally no one can make such deductions because virtually no one knows what the facts are that I am refering to. How many people are aware what the capacities of a government are to build a social safety net for their people. Virtually no one because there is a virtual black out on reporting the findings of those economists at the University of Missouri, Kansas City and elsewhere, who have developed Modern Monetary Theory. Who knows that Eisenhower was an As(sadist). Virtually no one because he is not connected with the overthrow of governments around the world which were led by people who only wanted what the people in the USA had, a government run social safety net.
    In a correctly run society the people in the press are supposed to challange authority. In a correctly run society if the people in the press do not challenge authority they would be repalced by those who do. But in our world those who own the press can print what ever it darn well wants to. So in our world we have a choice of the corprate press trying to manipulate our (spending and voting) behavior and the blogs of the masses including those written by university professors who really are clueless non authorities impersonating experts.

    Now for a commercial brake from Hershey’s chocolate, which has offered me a ride on the roller coaster for pointing this out.

    For years there have been articles in the press and on the internet promoting the virtutes of dark chocolate. But hey milk chocolate does not count according to these reports. Yet if it really is the cocca that is good for you a person could eat twice as much milk chocolate. Yes one would consume more sugar with the milk chocolate but we are talking about small amounts in either case. So is something fisshy about these reports or do I have brain damage from eating to much milk chocolate?

    Comment by Curt Kastens — April 29, 2018 @ 6:42 pm

  4. “Q: Large barrels full of explosives and projectiles which are dropped from helicopters and explode with devastating effect. There’s been a lot of testimony about these things.

    A: They’re called bombs. We have bombs, missiles and bullets… There is [are] no barrel bombs, we don’t have barrels.”

    Give Bashar some credit. He’s right. They ARE called bombs. Just like nuclear bombs are called bombs.

    It is only some in the western left who have become numb to the use of conventional aerial bombs and think nothing of them, as thousands upon thousands of these bombs are dropped on civilians, schools and hospitals without discrimination. These numbed and indifferent ‘leftists’ can only jump to action when a few bombs are lobbed by the U.S. on non-civilian, non-hospital, non-educational targets meant to sent Assad a signal to just stick to things that “are called bombs” and refrain from using chemicals.

    Comment by Reza — April 29, 2018 @ 6:55 pm

  5. There is a very obvious reason why some on the left only jump in to action and only should jump in to action when the US drops bombs on military targets in Syria. It should not matter if these targets are ISIS military forces or Assads military forces. That is because the US is on the other side of the planet. If the some Syrians want to murder women and children in Syria to keep their grip on power or murder women and children because they see these women and children as being part of the structure that keeps those who have power in power we a half world away are not in a position to pass judgement on whether or not such an action was a neccessary evil.
    This principle of nearness to the conflict can also be applied to Turkey, Iran, Russia, and Saudi Arabia. and technically Israel. Though I would say that since Israel is in reality the 51st state and since Saudi Arabia is a provencial provence of Israel it does not really apply to them. Therefore we in USA or its allied countries are not allowed to judge what the leadership in nearby countries do in Syria because they are affected by the outcome of that conflict far more than what we are.

    Comment by Curt Kastens — April 29, 2018 @ 8:35 pm

  6. Really, Curt? Proximity to atrocities determines whether or not a moral principle applies? Is that what you are saying?

    Comment by Reza — April 29, 2018 @ 8:41 pm

  7. Curt says, “It should not matter if these targets are ISIS military forces or Assads military forces.”

    However, the western idiots, who jump into action ONLY when the U.S. attacks non-human targets, refuse to jump into action when the same U.S. forces bomb civilians who happen to be trapped in areas controlled by ISIS or forces in opposition to Assad. So, clearly these idiots are not protesting U.S. bombings in general, only when the bombs fall (symbolically) on targets that are Assad regime’s military sites, without, again, killing a single person. You don’t make any sense at all, man.

    Your “logic” is SOOOOO twisted, one has to wonder if you are a human being or a robot programmed with a very anti-humanistic algorithm, designed to come up with long-winded comments to bait people with thin skin like me.

    Comment by Reza — April 29, 2018 @ 8:55 pm

  8. Reza,
    # 6.Yes that is exactly what I am saying, and I am qualified to say that.
    #7 Well sorry to disapoint you but your failure to consider the motivations of the actors involved in Syria is a dispointment to me. When one considers what motivates the actors in Syria a person will arrive at different conclusions about who one should condemn with the most venom. I am more interested in WHY people do what they do than what they end up doing. Of course the what matters but it is the Why that matters most and that should never be forgotten. But of course if you do not give a shit WHY people do what they do all I can say is that this is a decision that people have argued about for 35,000 years.

    Comment by Curt Kastens — April 29, 2018 @ 9:55 pm

  9. Curt,

    So you ARE saying that moral principles can only be espoused depending on if you’re in the proximity. Then, you should not be talking about Syria, or anything outside your geographic area (say, within a 100 miles radius), no? Or, are you exempt from your own rule?

    I DO give a damn about the WHY. I know that people in the Middle East, just like anywhere else, rise up against tyranny because humans (no matter how stupid YOU may deem them) yearn for the same basic universals, like dignity, freedom, justice and economic security. That’s the WHY that YOU ignore, and think that everything is just decided by powerful states. People don’t even exist, except as fools and manipulated stooges, in somebody’s geopolitical calculations; somebody like yourself, full of arrogance and disdain for ordinary humans. You remind me of Kissinger-types, and I am sure you find that a compliment.

    The fact that powerful actors from ‘the other side of the globe’ or from the same neighborhood descend upon any muddy water to fish for their own benefit is also a universal fact of our age, that’s why people SHOULD have an opinion about things happening on the other side of the globe.

    Finally … For anybody to say that “I don’t give a damn about this or that, because 98% of people are stupid” invites the question: Are you not part of the 98%?

    Comment by Reza — April 29, 2018 @ 10:34 pm

  10. Reza,
    #9 I am not talking about Syria. I am talking about those leftist who are talking about Syria and talking to those leftists who do not like what other leftists are saying about Syria. And Furthermore Yes I can be exempt from my own rules it is a previlage that I enjoy and make full use of that comes from having studied ethics and world religions for over 40 years. I no damned good and well that there are no absolutes in ethics. I also know damned good and well that every side in the Syrian conflict sees themselves as the oppressed side, or the side that would be oppressed. That is why I have not condemned anyone for what they have done in Syria nor will I. That is something that a person can understand from 2000 miles away. I will condemn ISIS for what their stated goal are (were) though. I can praise the Kurdish forces for what their stated goals are. I can read about these two visions from 2000 miles away and there is no dispute about what thier stated visions of a society are. One is a vision that I do not agree with, the other I do. But even though I do not agree with the ISIS vision I have more respect for them that I do for corprate lackeys who fight to make the world safe for corprate profits. They are at least fighting for an ideology rather than for a profit.

    And yes 99.8% of the people would consider me a complete idiot which demonstrates my point, that the general population has no business deciding who their leaders should be or what policies they should follow. I can say this with complete confidence because 99% of Americans and large numbers of people around the world think that F. Roosevelt and D. Eisenhower are examples of GREAT Leaders when niether of these men gave the order to occupy Sweden in 1942. Yet not a single person on the planet seems troubled by that except me. Well maybe one or two people here and there are troubled by now. after I have pointed it out to them. So based on such clear massive historical stupidity I would have to be a real idiot not to recognize that I am exceptionally gifted, politcally speaking, compared to 99.8% of humanity. It is also clear that 99.8% of the population are incapable of ever recognizing that.

    Comment by Curt Kastens — April 30, 2018 @ 8:35 am

  11. @10
    “And of course, Henry the horse dances the waltz,” as the good poets say.
    As in, whatever. My bad to engage with nonsense.
    That’ll learn me.

    Comment by Reza — April 30, 2018 @ 2:46 pm

  12. Anyways a brilliant person would have recognized my brilliant observation and main point was that Putin and Khamenji are supporting Assad not because they are making Syria the front lines in a conflict that they believe defends their countries against the continual aggression of the UKSA but because Putin and Khamenji hope to partner with Assad in raking in billions through providing sand to the world. In the past I had wondered do Putin and Khamenji have some information that I do not have that would justify making Syria the front lines in this contiual conflict. Now I know that the answer is no. And furthermore that we should cheer the attempts of anyone else other than Assad to gain control of this sand reguardless of whether or not we agree with how they would run Syria because they would exploit Syria’s sand resources much more humanely than Assad and his partners would.

    Comment by Curt Kastens — April 30, 2018 @ 6:01 pm

  13. Playing it all the way to the wall, I see.
    You’re one of a kind, for sure, Curt.

    Comment by Reza — April 30, 2018 @ 7:43 pm

  14. […] Robert Fisk est passé du statut de journaliste primé et d’expert respecté de la région à celui « d’assadiste », de « théoricien du complot », de « larbin », […]

    Pingback by Douma, Assange, Skripal : charge des libéraux contre les dissidents — May 21, 2019 @ 9:01 pm

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