|New Eastern Outlook | May 24, 2017|
For the duration of the Syrian proxy war, Israel has been a key player in the destabilization of the Syrian state. From providing medical support to directly arming the rebels, Israel’s dirty role in supporting the opposition has been clear for all to see for years now. Despite these efforts to force regime change in Damascus however, the Syrian government still stands, with the Syrian army increasingly gaining the advantage in the conflict. Considering this, it comes as no surprise that many in Israel (and in other parts of the world) are getting more and more desperate with the lack of regime change, and are now advocating for more radical steps to be taken.
One such individual who is pushing for a more hawkish approach is the Israeli Housing and Construction Minister (who also happens to be a retired IDF general), Yoav Galant, who recently called for the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, to be assassinated. Speaking at an event in Jerusalem on the 16th of May, Galant said that “the time has come to assassinate Assad,” with his remarks coming a day after the US State Department accused the Syrian government of torturing and killing detainees on mass, then using a crematorium to burn the remains. As the Times of Israel reported in an article titled, Israeli minister: ‘The time has come’ to kill Bashar Assad:
‘“The reality of the situation in Syria is that they are executing people, using directed chemical attacks against them, and the latest extreme — burning their corpses, something we haven’t seen in 70 years,” Galant said, in a reference to the Holocaust. The minister said Assad’s actions in Syria amount to nothing less than a “genocide,” with “hundreds of thousands killed.”
“In my view, we are crossing a red line. And in my view, the time has come to assassinate Assad. It’s as simple as that,” said Galant, who previously served as the head of the IDF’s Southern Command. Galant likened the assassination of Assad to cutting off the “tail of the snake.” After that, he said, “we can focus on the head, which is in Tehran.”’
As noted above, Galant’s call for violence came a day after the US State Department tried to equate the Syrian government to the Nazi regime. On the 15th of May, Stuart Jones, the Acting Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs, gave a special briefing to reporters. After going through the usual State Department talking points – the Syrian ‘regime’ using “barrel bombs” etc. – Jones moves on to accuse the Syrian government of “extrajudicial killings” and then trying to hide the extent of the carnage by burning the victims’ bodies:
“Moreover, the regime has also authorized the extrajudicial killings of thousands of detainees using mass hangings at the Saydnaya military prison. Saydnaya is a 45-minute drive outside of Damascus and is one of Syria’s largest and most secure prison complexes… The regime holds as many as 70 prisoners in Saydnaya in cells that have a five-person capacity. And according to multiple sources, the regime is responsible for killing as many as 50 detainees per day at Saydnaya. Credible sources have believed that many of the bodies have been disposed in mass graves.”
“We now believe that the Syrian regime has installed a crematorium in the Saydnaya prison complex which could dispose of detainees’ remains with little evidence. Beginning in 2013, the Syrian regime modified a building within the Saydnaya complex to support what we believe is a crematorium, as shown in the photos that we have distributed to you. Although the regime’s many atrocities are well documented, we believe that the building of a crematorium is an effort to cover up the extent of mass murders taking place in Saydnaya prison.”
The language Jones uses clearly evokes the horrors of the holocaust and is an attempt to draw parallels between Hitler and Assad, as Jones uses terms such as “mass graves” and claims that the Syrian government is burning bodies. Victims of the genocidal Nazi regime were inhumanely dumped in mass graves, with the Nazis also building crematoriums at concentration camps – including at Auschwitz – to burn the bodies of victims. The use of mass graves and the burning of bodies was part of a clandestine Nazi operation to cover up the extent of the mass killings they had engaged in, with the operation known as Sonderaktion 1005 or Aktion 1005.
A revealing indication as to the credibility of Jones’ grand accusations can be ascertained if we once again look at the language that he uses. Note that Jones repeatedly uses the word “believe” when accusing the Syrian authorities of mass killings: “we believe” this,“we believe” that. He does not say “we know,” or “we have confirmed,” or “we have irrefutable proof.” This use of indefinite language can be seen in the supporting ‘evidence’ that the US released and which was promulgated by the mainstream media, as Tony Cartalucci notes in his article titled: US Revives Discredited Syria “Slaughterhouse” Story.
In an article by the Washington Post, the paper reports that the State Department released a few satellite photos of the prison complex, with one showing an L-shaped building labelled “probable crematorium.” Again, “probable” is hardly definitive language, with the satellite images merely showing a few buildings, revealing nothing concrete at all. The only other ‘evidence’ the State Department uses to try and prop-up this weak narrative is a few reports from the London-based Amnesty International concerning human rights abuses at the prison.
Considering the amount of disinformation and propaganda emanating from the West and its regional allies about the Syrian ‘regime,’ the latest accusation of mass killings and the burning of corpses appears to be just the latest installment of deceptive nonsense. Syria has denied these allegations, with an official from the Syrian Foreign and Expatriates Ministry telling the Syrian Arab News Agency that the US accusations were “a new Hollywood story” that is dissociated from reality and “fundamentally untrue.” For years, we have heard tales of the abhorrent atrocities committed by Assad’s forces, yet concrete evidence is often elusive or contradictory.
In April 2013 for instance, Israel accused the Syrian government of repeatedly using chemical weapons the previous month, including in a district of Aleppo on the 19th of March. Also in April 2013, the UK accused the Syrian government of using chemical weapons in previous months, with the British Prime Minister at the time, David Cameron, claiming that there was “limited but growing evidence” that Syrian troops used sarin, adding that “this is a war crime.”
Yet in May 2013, the Commissioner of the UN’s Independent International Commission of Inquiry for Syria (which was set up in 2011 to investigate human rights abuses in the Syrian proxy war, and which had been investigating the use of chemical weapons in 2013), Carla Del Ponte, said in an interview that there was evidence which suggested that the rebels, not the Syrian army, used chemical weapons:
“During our investigation for crimes against humanity and war crimes, we collected some witness testimony that [appeared to confirm] that some chemical weapons were used – in particular nerve gas. What appeared to our investigation was that it was used by the opponents, the rebels, and we have no indication at all that the Syrian government have used chemical weapons. Of course, now, the special commission will investigate and tell us what it is exactly. But I was a little stupefied that the first indication we got [was] about the use of nerve gas by the opposition.”
So, despite the UK and Israel pushing the narrative that the Syrian government was responsible for war crimes in 2013, the UN’s investigation completely contradicted the accusations made by Israel and Britain.
Undoubtedly there are casualties in any war, and the Syrian government has been fighting against foreign-backed extremists for years now. However, the perennial list of genocidal and demonic atrocities that the Syrian government has been accused of is nothing more than regime change propaganda created by the enemies of Syria, with this latest accusation appearing to be the most recent example of this.
Galant seized on the State Department’s accusations to call for Assad’s assassination, a scenario that would only embolden ISIS and other terrorist forces. Galant should spend more time reading history books than making belligerent and stupid comments, as the assassination of a prominent political figure in 1914 sparked a war that caused devastation on a scale previously unseen before in the history of the human race.
Steven MacMillan is an independent writer, researcher, geopolitical analyst and editor of The Analyst Report, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.