Finian Cunningham -
Originally from Belfast, Ireland, Finian Cunningham (born 1963) is a prominent expert in international affairs. The author and media commentator was expelled from Bahrain in June 2011 for his critical journalism in which he highlighted human rights violations by the Western-backed regime. He is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in journalism. He is also a musician and songwriter. For many years, he worked as an editor and writer in the mainstream news media, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. He is now based in East Africa where he is writing a book on Bahrain and the Arab Spring.He co-hosts a weekly current affairs programme, Sunday at 3pm GMT on Bandung Radio. Finian Cunningham is a frequent contributor to international media, including PRESS TV and nsnbc, where he began contributing in 2012.
Finian Cunningham (SCF) : Less than five months after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered military intervention in Syria, the five-year war has been completely transformed. Peace is far from certain as a tentative truce this week will attest. The conflict may even escalate. But what Russia’s intervention has certainly achieved is to squeeze out into the open the poisonous forces of regime change that have brought Syria to its dire condition.
Not only is the Syrian state pulled back from the brink of collapse into a terrorist-run failed entity, as befell «NATO liberated» Libya, but the Russian air strikes like a surgical operation have lanced the noxious inflammation festering in Syria. All sorts of poisons are now oozing and being exposed, primarily the nefarious roles played by Western powers, their regional allies, and the toxic lies propounded by the Western news media to cover for crimes against peace.
If it were not for the gravity of human suffering, the situation could be seen as almost comical, owing to the Western contortions to hide reality. Western governments and their servile media are falling over themselves with ever-changing stories and spin, accusing Russian military operations of all sorts of crimes: killing civilians, hitting hospitals, exacerbating the refugee crisis, targeting «moderate rebels», or «propping up a dictator».
This week, the Western media rushed to implicate Russia or the allied Syrian army in striking hospitals and schools in Azaz and Maarat al-Numan near the Turkish border. Some 11 people were killed at the latter facility, which is supported by the French medical group Doctors Without Borders (DWB). No evidence was presented to support the high-flown claims in the Western media accusing Russia. Russia denied any involvement, while the Syrian government said that the US-led forces carried out the attacks. Meanwhile, all week Turkish military were launching hundreds of artillery volleys across the border into the very area around Azaz where the hospitals were hit. But Western media did not question Turkey about its violation of Syrian sovereignty or the possibility that the errant strikes could have been inflicted by Turkish forces, perhaps even as a false flag to impute Russia.
Last week, the US military spokesman Colonel Steve Warren blamed Russia for air strikes on two hospitals in Aleppo City. Russian defense ministry spokesman General Igor Konashenkov responded by saying that Russian aircraft were not active in the city that day, Wednesday, and that Russian surveillance data in fact showed that two US warplanes had bombed Aleppo.
It is not clear who did strike the DWB-supported hospital in this week. But one established relevant fact is that it was the Americans who bombed a DWB hospital in Afghanistan last October, killing some 30 staff and patients. Also, in Yemen, the US-backed Saudi bombing coalition striking that country have routinely hit DWB and other hospitals on numerous dates over recent months, as even confirmed by DWB.
One other feat of narrative-contortion was given by US envoy to Syria Brett McGurk, who told Congressional lawmakers last week that Russia was «directly helping Islamic State terrorists» from its military intervention in Syria. Another warped spiel was that of US government-owned outlet Voice of America which claimed that Russia’s air strikes were pushing moderate rebels to join the ranks of extremist militia.
Any and all narratives are hastily churned out, it seems, to avoid the obvious, real story: Russia has saved Syria from a covert war of aggression waged by foreign powers who have been using terrorist proxies for the objective of regime change.
That’s it in a nutshell. Russia should be commended, if objective analysis were to prevail. But objective analysis must not prevail in Western media narratives because that would expose the toxic role of their governments and their own criminal complicity in distorting the conflict in Syria.
In a recent «backgrounder» on the Syrian war, here is how the British state-owned BBC «explained» what’s happening: «More than 250,000 Syrians have lost their lives in four-and-a-half years of armed conflict, which began with anti-government protests before escalating into a full-scale civil war. More than 11 million others have been forced from their homes as forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and those opposed to his rule battle each other – as well as jihadist militants from so-called Islamic State».
The BBC tells it like a guileless fairytale, which in its simplistic telling is itself guileful. Note how in the BBC narrative the «jihadist militants» appear from nowhere as if they are an accidental walk-on sideshow; and how, as if by magic, «anti-government protests escalated into a full-scale civil war».
This is the kind of toxic nonsense that Western governments and their evidently dutiful news media have been pumping into the consciousness of their public’s minds for the past five years. But now that Russia has entered the fray, the poison is oozing out from the Syrian wound.
The Turkish state of Recep Tayyip Erdogan this week is shelling Syrian territory in what any fair-minded person would describe as an act of aggression towards a sovereign country. Ankara is claiming it is attacking «terrorist» Syrian Kurdish militia, the YPG. Not unrelated is the fact that the YPG last week inflicted heavy losses on the jihadist mercenaries that Ankara has been supporting, when the Kurds took over Menagh airbase.
NATO member Turkey has reportedly hit Kurdish villages in Aleppo Province causing civilian casualties, as well as Syrian army positions and Russia’s airbase in Latakia, whom the Kurdish YPG have been liaising with.
Saudi Arabia is sending fighter jets to the NATO airbase at Incirlik in Turkey’s Adana Province, allegedly to begin combat operations against the Islamic State terror group in Syria. Turkey and Saudi Arabia are readying a ground invasion of Syria, with the approval of the Pentagon.
If we step back from the commotion, it is patent that what is unfolding here is flagrant aggression, which the Syrian government has protested to the United Nations Security Council. But with the US, Britain and France – executive powers in the regime-change war on Syria – the UNSC will simply bury the legitimate protests from Damascus.
The unavoidable conclusion is that NATO – the US-led military alliance supposedly maintaining global security – has openly become a belligerent in the Syrian war. The obvious factor is that Russia’s intervention has cut off the Turkish-Saudi-NATO channels to the regime-change terrorist brigades inside Syria. Turkey’s murderous shoot-down of a Russian bomber jet last November – with apologetics from Washington and other NATO members – was the initial, desperate response to Russian success in thwarting the covert war.
The severance of the NATO mercenaries in Aleppo from their lifeline in Turkey is further evidence of Russia’s deep incision into the poison. Turkey and Saudi Arabia’s war mobilization and their tortuous pretexts is straining credulity and straining Western media efforts at trying to sanitize what is going on.
US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter may have publicly endorsed the plan for Saudi and Turkish military intervention in Syria under the laughable guise of «fighting terrorism». But it is also clear that Washington has become unnerved by the runaway train wreck it is riding with these two rogue states. France and Germany are also calling for Turkey to cease its cross-border shelling of Syria.
US Vice President Joe Biden, who only weeks ago was in Ankara chumming it up with the Erdogan regime, reportedly phoned Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu last weekend urging him to call off the artillery fire into Syria.
Voice of America reported: «US officials say there is little to be done to counter militarily the Russian-backed Assad offensive and they argue the vicious five-year-long Syrian civil war that has left upwards of 250,000 dead won’t be resolved by the clash of arms but through a negotiated political settlement».
US Secretary of State John Kerry desperately wants «peace talks» in Geneva because he knows the covert war is on a losing streak. Peace talk is just a cover for political wrangling for regime change. But the Russians are having none of it. Moscow is going to wipe out the foreign-backed mercenaries and stick to the principle of Syrian sovereignty for mapping the country’s political future. The US State Department is in a bind. It has backed a loser, but the impetuous, irrational Erdogan and Saudi clients are not giving up on their regime change fantasies.
Washington is being ensnared in its own toxic contradictions. It has led the criminal scheme for regime change in Syria, instrumented by Turkey and Saudi Arabia in weaponizing radical jihadist mercenaries. As the New York Times recently admitted: «The Russians have cut off may of the pathways the CIA has been using for a not-very-secret effort to arm rebel [that is, terrorist] groups».
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev told the Munich Security Conference last weekend that Syria was in danger of escalating into all-out international war. His warnings were scoffed by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir as being alarmist – this from an advocate of foreign aggression on Syria!
Medvedev’s warnings are not at all alarmist. They are realist. Frighteningly realist. Russia’s intervention in Syria is demonstrating the complete lawlessness of Washington and its NATO and regional allies. Syria is not in the grip of a «civil war» as the Western media fabricate. Syria is in the crosshairs of foreign powers and their criminal project to destroy a country for their twisted geopolitical ambitions.
Before Russia’s operation, Syria was a shackled patient being amputated upon, injected with all kinds of poisons and generally being violated. The Western media were the orderlies who pulled a screen across this obscenity so that the public would not know. This vile charade can no longer be concealed. The US-led NATO, Arab, terrorist covert war on Syria is there for all to see, and it is largely down to Russia for exposing the despicable crime. The truth is no guarantee of peace. But in order to eventually arrive at a peace, we at least need to learn of truth.