On Ben Norton’s career-changing metamorphosis

Ben Norton was once a highly respected left-wing critic, often critical of the positions of many of the left (such as Stalinists and pro-USSR types) on things like the Syrian revolution, Ukraine and others.

However, since getting a job at Salon.com a few months ago, he has underwent the most remarkable of transformations, something that could be attested to by his tweets. From a supporter of the Syrian revolution, he has turned into another of the faux-left’s, neocon, equivalising (both sides are as bad as the other, why don’t we talk about the so-called “rebels”/Hamas, etc.), Islamophobic-verging (its all the Islamists blah blah) and genocide-denying Galloway-type shills. Ironically though, like Galloway, he seems to have a blind spot to certain types of Western intervention, instead preferring to shed the light on the morose joke of “support” the Syrian revolution has received from the US. Support which has included backing the enemies of the rebels, bombing the rebels, coordinating intelligence, airstrikes and on occasion ground offensives with the regime, and instituting 5-years arms blockades in direct facilitation of a regime breaking the record of any government using an airforce for this long inside its own borders (I aim to post a full and extended article on this soon. In the meantime this was a statement by the UK-based Syria Solidarity Campaign on the issue).

First a tid-bit – here’s Galloway admitting that he supports current Western airstrikes in Iraq, and would support them too in Syria if they aimed to back Assad advances. When confronted on this, he explained that “ISIS was the biggest threat since World War Two” – bigger than what the US did in Iraq, Vietnam, Pol Pot, Pinochet, Stalin etc etc, without mentioning Assad of course – and when he was labelled a “left wing War on Terror fanatic” who was supporting the US-Iranian alliance which has emerged in the wake of the Arab Spring (and in opposition to it), he said, “I want every member of Al-Qaeda and ISIS dead (i.e. many of whom were part of the Iraqi resistance to the Americans he  supported when he was trying to get British Muslims to vote for him a few years before that) – if that makes me a War on Terror fanatic then yes I am”.

 

Norton, who once heavily criticised the likes of Galloway (perhaps it didn’t get him much career-wise, who knows), and even stated that “the Western left is absolute reactionary trash when it comes to Syria”, and being part of a “”red”-brown alliance with fascists” (see below), has unfortunately seemingly become another one to provide a Western platform to the anti-Arab uprisings propaganda narratives of the Mubaraks, Salehs and Assads (of a Western conspiracy against them once people started coming out on the streets, in no small part because of their selling out to the West/Israel).

I’ve refrained from publishing this until recently, hoping that Ben Norton’s going through a phase and that he might snap out of it. I can do so no longer, as he is defaming my brothers and sisters in Syria. This is the story of Ben Norton, pre-metamorphosis.

(Dialogue attached in full, for transparency – Ben added Omar, though Omar first messaged Ben)

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[“Asa” being referred to here is Asa Winstanley, another Galloway type and Assad apologist. Ben was commenting on an angry response-comment to Asa by Omar]

Ben Norton: “Awesome posts. Asa is so fucking oblivious (and condescending) as hell, in spite of his ignorance) on Syria.”

Omar Sabbour: “Cheers, tend to be a bit angry but I don’t have the tolerance nowadays as I once did”

Ben Norton [quoting]: “”Cheers, tend to be a bit angry but I don’t have the tolerance nowadays tbh as I once did”

You have every right to be. The Western left is absolute reactionary trash when it comes to Syria. They are in a “red”-brown alliance with fascists.”

It should be noted, finally, that Norton’s repetition of Assad’s claims of a Western conspiracy against him (Assad’s family of course having a very rich history of collaboration with the West which goes back 70 years, whilst today Assad himself literally declares that the US supports him in private and condemns him in public, as well as the small matter of calling “millions” of his population “terrorists or terrorist sympathisers”, paying put to the myth espoused by his propagandists that he has little or no internal opposition – indeed Assad’s supporters and apologists are literally often more pro-Assad than Assad himself) is all the more ironic for his ignoring of the actual and the main Western intervention in the conflict.

He unfortunately has come to reflect the (morosely) hilarious attitudes of the Western left to the Arab Spring (from the “US was supporting the Muslim Brotherhood” in Egypt to peddling the narrative that the US is supporting the Syrian revolution whilst the entire revolution saying – since 2014 – that the “US is attacking us”)

Ben, if you’re reading this, subscribe to a Syrian activist facebook page, go watch the videos they release daily of the regime’s *appeased* (in the exact sense of the word – similar to how the West approached Hitler and Franco during the 30s) genocide, and keep in mind that this is not a game, or a competition of narratives in which you think you can now gain an “edge”, but real people.

Oh, and keep in mind that you sound like a Zionist when you ignore the party killing 95% of the casualties and say “why don’t we talk about the other guys [with beards and Islamic slogans]”.


UPDATE: All hail Ned Borton

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And Ben’s descent reached a new low

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Manbij siege by US-led International Coalition and SDF becoming a humanitarian catastrophe

Statement issued from the Political Committee in the City of Manbij
“No to the killing of civilians in Manbij”

With the continuation of battles between the sides of the conflict (Syrian Democratic Forces and the Daesh organisation) in the city of Manbij, and which started from 31-5-2016, the suffering of the civilian population increases day after day, whereby talking about the essential necessities for the population from food and medicine is no longer enough to balance against the ghost of death that has come to threaten the old and the women and the children who have been besieged and indeed taken by the Daesh organisation as human shields, and that as a consequence of the siege which has been imposed by the [International] Coalition forces cordoning off the city from its four directions. The Syrian Democratic Forces were able to enter to a number of the city’s neighbourhoods, the matter which has transformed the battle to street fighting which has made the civilians easy prey to all forms of death (Coalition planes – Predating snipers on roofs and inside houses – the mines that were planted by the Daesh organisation in the streets and the paths and the public places), and in the midst of this tragic reality most citizens have now become unable to find a safe haven that prevents from them [i.e. shields them from] the shells and missiles of death which they don’t know at which moment can fall above their heads, to add to that the city has [already] witnessed many cases where no one was able to recover and remove the bodies of the dead from the streets due to the fear of being abruptly killed.

The Political Committee in Manbij has already previously implored – and from the start of fighting – all sides and at their head the United States of America, and the rest of the Coalition countries, and affirmed to everyone that the strategy that has been taken up in fighting Daesh would have disastrous results on the civilian population, and at the time that the committee has affirmed its welcome in fighting Daesh and expelling it from the city except that it has pointed out repeatedly that the Coalition’s insistence on fighting in this way gives the world the impression that what approaches 200,000 individual inhabitants who are civilians are all from the Daesh organisation, and it is worth mentioning in this context that this is not the only time that heavily populated cities are liberated from the authorities of the Assad regime or Daesh but [this happens] without these disasters which do not indicate anything other than not caring about the lives of civilians and a clear indifference towards the lives of Syrians.

The political committee in the city of Manbij whilst expressing more of its sadness and concern regarding the cases of death which are reaping the civilian innocents, it at the same time calls vigorously on the international community in its entirety, and the coalition countries especially, affirming to them the duty of the entire international community to shoulder its moral and humanitarian responsibilities regarding a war imposed on isolated civilians [who are] powerless and defenceless, and almost have nothing in terms of life necessities, as well as them having no option which can enable them to eschew the death which is threatening their life. Noting that the insistence of the coalition states to ignore the humanitarian situation in the city of Manbij cannot be explained except as disregard for the totality of human values which have been guaranteed by all the canons and laws to preserve the sanctity of blood and protection of the human entity.

The Political Committee in the city of Manbij
13-7-2016


يان صادر عن الهيئة السياسية في مدينة منبج
(لا لقتل المدنيين في منبج)

مع استمرار المعارك بين طرفي النزاع ( قوات سورية الديمقراطية وتنظيم داعش)في مدينة منبج، والتي بدأت منذ 31 – 5 – 2016 ،تزداد معاناة السكان المدنيين يوما بعد يوم، إذ لم يعد الحديث عن الاحتياجات الضرورية للسكان من غذاء ودواء كافياً في موازاة شبح الموت الذي بات يهدد الشيوخ والنساء والأطفال الذين حوصروا بل اتخذهم تنظيم داعش دروعاً بشرياً وذلك نتيجة للحصار الذي فرضته قوات التحالف وطوّقت المدينة من جهاتها الأربع. لقد تمكّنت قوات سورية الديمقراطية من الدخول إلى عدد من أحياء المدينة، الأمر الذي حوّل المعركة إلى قتال شوارع مما جعل المدنيين عرضة سهلة لكافة أشكال الموت( طائرات التحالف – قناصات المتربصين على الأسطحة وداخل البيوت – الألغام التي زرعها تنظيم داعش في الشوارع والطرقات والاماكن العامة)،وفي ظل هذا الواقع المأسوي بات معظم المواطنين لا يجدون مأوى آمناً يقيهم قذائف الموت الذي لا يعرفون أية لحظة يمكن أن يحلّ فوق رؤوسهم،إضافة إلى أن المدينة شهدت حالات عديدة لم يتمكن فيها أحد من انتشال جثث الموتى من الشوارع بسبب الخوف من القتل المباغت. لقد سبق وناشدت الهيئة السياسية في منبج – ومنذ بدء القتال – كافة الأطراف وعلى رأسها الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية وباقي دول التحالف، وأكدت للجميع بأن الاستراتيجية التي تم اعتمادها في قتال داعش سوف تكون لها نتائج كارثية على السكان المدنيين،وفي الوقت الذي أكدت فيه الهيئة بترحيبها بقتال تنظيم داعش وطرده من المدينة إلا أنها نوّهت مراراً على أن إصرار قوات التحالف على القتال بهذه الطريقة يوحي للعالم بأن ما يقارب ( 200000 ) نسمة من المدنيين وكأنهم جميعا من تنظيم داعش،ومن الجدير ذكره في هذا السياق أنه ليست هذه هي المرة الوحيدة التي تتحرر فيها مدنٌ آهلة بالسكان من سلطات نظام الأسد أو داعش لكن بدون هذه الكوارث التي لا تدل سوى على عدم اكتراث بحياة المدنيين ولامبالاة واضحة تجاه حياة السوريين. إن الهيئة السياسية في مدينة منبج إذ تبدي مزيد حزنها وقلقها حيال حالات الموت التي تحصد المدنيين الأبرياء، فإنها في الوقت ذاته تطالب بشدّة المجتمع الدولي كافة ، ودول التحالف على وجه الخصوص، مؤكّدة على وجوب تحمّل المجتمع الدولي كافة مسؤولياته الأخلاقية والإنسانية حيال حرب مفروضة على مدنيين عُزّل لا حول لهم ولا قوة، وقد باتوا لا يملكون من مقوّمات الحياة شيئاً، فضلاً عن عدم امتلاكهم لأي خيار يمكّنهم من تحاشي الموت الذي يهدد حياتهم. علماً أن إصرار دول التحالف على تجاهل الحالة الإنسانية في مدينة منبج لا يمكن تفسيره إلا كونه تجاهلاً لمجمل القيم الإنسانية التي كفلتها كل الشرائع والقوانين للحفاظ على حرمة استباحة الدم وحماية الكائن البشري.

الهيئة السياسية في مدينة منبج
13
– 7 – 2016

SDF and US-led Coalition siege tightens on Manbij – Humanitarian disaster warned

[Committee Logo]
Syrian Arab Republic
The General Political Committee for the City of Manbij and its Countryside

Statement issued from the Political Committee in the City of Manbij and its Countryside

“Save the rest from the siege”

Since late May 2016 the city of Manbij has been subject to a hateful siege as a result of the occurring confrontation between the Democratic Union Party PYD represented in its military wing “People’s Protection Units” backed by the forces of the International Coalition, and the “Daesh” organisation which occupies the city of Manbij since the beginning of the year of 2014, whereby the People’s Protection Units is besieging the city from its four directions [sides], whilst the Daesh organisation is not allowing civilians to leave the city, the matter which has increased in the suffering of the civilian population whose numbers reach approximately 250,000 individuals, as well as the prevailing atmosphere of fear of death which is threatening them from everywhere as a result of the mines and [planted] bombs and the snipers and the plane shells [all of] which reach them from every direction, and so their suffering becomes multiplied in light of the loss of most of the causes of life from the city, whereby to add to the severe scarcity of water and electricity most of the other life staples are almost completely absent such as baby milk and medicine and other nutritional supplies and vegetables and combustibles [fuels], the matter that forewarns of a humanitarian disaster which is on the verge of ravaging the lives of thousands of citizens.

As we also direct [a call] to all the Human Rights and Humanitarian bodies and organisations and scream to every live conscience in the world to contribute to the lifting of the death and the suffering from this city which has been afflicted by an assembled siege [put together] whose scope is the increase of suffering day after day.

The Political Committee in the city of Manbij and its countryside directs [a call] to all the governmental agencies in the international community and in particular the governments participating in the Coalition forces and asserts to them that your interests which you seek to achieve in this war has victims and these are the deaths of defenceless civilian citizens and not terrorists, and at the time which you proclaim fighting the terrorism of Daesh you are in this method and with these followed [adopted] mechanisms only participating in terrorism towards the rights of the citizens which is not any less insulting to human dignity than the terrorism of Daesh.

We are calling everyone to immediate action and to work for the entry of the necessary substances for citizens such as food and medicine and fuel, as we also call call upon everyone to take every form of pressure on the combating sides to neutralise [safeguard] the civilians from the ghost of death which they face.

The Political Committee in the city of Manbij and its Countryside
2/7/2016

 

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John Kerry blames the Syrian rebellion for Assad’s airstrikes

2 months ago John Kerry came out with his ‘admissions’ of long established on the ground US policy in Syria, a gluttony of statements clarifying the 4-year long so-called “muddled” US position (I never believed it has been) sending a signal that the US was essentially declaring “fun’s over, time to wrap up”. Saying that the regime was not the target of “regime-change” (this reality was well-known of course long before Kerry’s statements for those who were not Assad apologists and who closely followed the Syrian conflict, as US actions on the ground spoke for themselves), rebels should fight alongside the fascist colonial Syrian Army against ISIS, declaring that all sides had “bad guys” and there were “good guys” on the Syrian regime’s side as well, and ‘coincidentally’ “revealing for the first time” that he had obtained a signature from (the dove) Assad in 2010 promising normalisation of ties with Israel before all the trouble broke out.

In a recent Syria donors conference held in London, Kerry continued to reveal his true colours:

“US Secretary of State John Kerry told Syrian aid workers, hours after the Geneva peace talks fell apart, that the country should expect another three months of bombing that would “decimate” the opposition.

During a conversation on the sidelines of this week’s Syria donor conference in London, sources say Kerry blamed the Syrian opposition for leaving the talks and paving the way for a joint offensive by the Syrian government and Russia on Aleppo.

“‘He said, ‘Don’t blame me – go and blame your opposition,’” one of the aid workers, who asked to remain anonymous to protect her organisation, told Middle East Eye.

 

The report goes on to state

“A third MEE source who claims to have served as a liaison between the Syrian and American governments over the past six months said Kerry had passed the message on to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in October that the US did not want him to be removed.

Instead, the source claims, Kerry insisted that Assad should stop using barrel bombs, which terrify civilian populations.

The source claimed that Kerry said if Assad stopped the barrel bombs, Kerry could “sell the story” to the public, the source said.”

[Note: the report went on to make mention of the well-known US “Train and Equip” programme /Division 30 “fiasco”. So much has been written on this and yet such a simple fact is so shockingly absent from all reporting about the programme, including by outlets you’d expect better from like Al-Jazeera: the programme stipulated that recruits sign a declaration not to fight Assad and only to fight ISIS – which was why so few recruits joined it, not because of the ridiculous, orientalist and frankly racist notion that all Syrians who don’t represent Assad’s core fighting minorities are “Islamic extremists” (though Tony Blair is the latest to add his voice to the chorus of those who’d have you think so, in a study perhaps as arbitrary and ridiculous (if not more) than his WMD dossier – in which he notably echoed George Galloway in calling the Assad regime a “castle” standing out against dangerous Jihadis, in more and more evidence of the Red-Brown (Left-Right) Western Assadist agreement on Syria – Blair should probably apply for membership of Stop the War Coalition now)]

 

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[From Right to left: “Political control for Russia – The Golan for Israel – The chemicals for America (though apparently there is evidence that the US did not remove all of Assad’s stockpile: in December Sarin was used for the first time since 2013 a week after John Kerry’s statements, and the Obama administration has reportedly blocked FOI requests into the subject) – Military control for Iran – We are a sovereign nationalist country!!”]

 

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[Caricature playing on the marching slogan of Shia miltias -banner reads “O Hussain”, whilst Barack “Hussein” Obama flies overhead stating: “Labaik! [At your service – Arabic phrase responding to an invocation] With you is Hussein Obama from the Family of the White House!?”  (play on Ahl-ul Bayt – Family of the Prophet’s House). Arrow points towards Fallujah]

 

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[US policy in one very painful to read meme]

 

A brief and quick debunking of Assad’s eloquent defence

Assad always asks “how could I still be in power if people didn’t want me?”, when the question he should ask is how could he have lost control of 3/4 of his country if the people did not want him? He will state that this was due to a foreign terrorist invasion, yet why would that foreign invasion be so effective against an army whose Russian backing, the Syrian media routinely makes clear, matches anything the US could offer in quantity and quality and beyond? (not to mention an army of course which possesses unchallenged aerial superiority, a reality the regime has never disputed).
And if this was a foreign invasion, why would he think that the displacement of half of his population and loss of 75% of his territory is anything other than a monumental failure to defend the country against this foreign attack? And if he did not care about power as he claims, why does he not resign and give someone else “a shot” considering a reality which only a madman could consider a “success”?
And if the population in these areas were loyalists, why are there no local insurgencies against these invaders in those areas (for example in the same  form of besieged pockets of armed resistance the rebels have throughout Syria – the only two examples which exist for the regime’s side are Fua’a and Kafraya, two Shia villages in the middle of rebel territory), with instead the only loyalist opposition coming from the army and its allies advancing from other areas?
(Note: Of course therein lies the answer to what has often been pointed out, as to why the regime never brags about the sheer scale of the humanitarian disaster (refugees etc) inflicted by the “foreign invasion” and instead tries always to keep it under the surface (unlike Saddam’s Iraq under embargo for example) – because if they did brag about it this would prove the regime’s utter failure to defend the country despite being militarily unimpeded (unlike Saddam who had No-Fly Zones over his head) at best and of course, the truth at worst.)

This does not mean that any of these claims should be treated seriously, nor even that we should be paying too much attention to the person of Assad as people often make the mistake of doing. But it is to note that Assad’s own statements regularly betray the vacuousness of his narrative, as when he admits his reliance on the thousands of foreign troops fighting for him (stating that “Syria is for those who defend it”), a shameless admission incidentally for a “nationalist” leader who had spent the past 5 years stating that his enemies were all foreign extremists (even during the days of peaceful protests, the lie of course repeated by every other Middle Eastern regime, but credit to Assad’s loyal military he survived long enough to allow his mukhabarat to turn the fantasy of a “foreign jihadi” invasion into something on the ground) – or when stating  that millions within his population are providing “refuge” to the “terrorist plot” (blaming it on a society-wide “ethical breakdown” –  which presuming that was the case has been a society ruled over by his family for 40 years).

However, ultimately Assad’s a puppet and a figurehead. When Assad denies the use of barrel bombs (though he doesn’t deny the use of an airforce on urban centres inside his own country, saying “casualties are expected in war”) he may be a psychotic liar or he may not even know the full extent of what’s happening in his country. That’s not to excuse him, he is a person who would have used the same counter-insurgency 100 times even if he knew what the results would be down the line, but to state that he is not the central issue in the Syrian conflict [as the US has incidentally been trying to make out over the past 5 years, in order to limit the scope of the rebellion and potential change to a state with which it has had a stable, 40-year old collaborative relationship (yet a state with a resolutely radical and anti-colonial society, stemming from a century old Arabist tradition), which is why incidentally that Syrian civil society has since 2012 rejected the US’s “diplomatic/political solutions”, and their “there is no military solution for the rebels” bullshit, which seek to maintain the regime and sacrifice the figurehead, a la Egypt]. But it is to note that it is not Assad himself who has been willing to torture, rape, drop bombs from the sky on a 4-year daily basis and kill hundreds of thousands of people in his country, it is an entire set of state intelligence, hateful sectarian loyalists and security apparatuses. They can keep Assad if they think they’ll keep those as well.

The most important thing you will do this year

If you never come to this blog again and ignore anything else I ever post, watch this. I cannot overstate how important it is, I would quote things from it but this would be a mammoth post. Just take an hour of your time whenever that may be and watch this, I guarantee you will not regret it.

 

Endgame: Both US and Russian forces in Syria

Loads of news as Syria’s endgame approaches.

Roundup: both US and Russian (‘advisory’) forces in Syria

1) Russian envoy at the UN states: the US does not want regime to fall http://in.rbth.com/news/2015/09/16/us-does-not-want-asad-regime-in-syria-to-fall-rusian-envoy-at-un_397119

2) US Defence spokesman: US special op forces enter Syria, to advise YPG, whilst Russian forces enter to advise regime

(Presumably, they will now be aptly described, by the Western left’s scab opponents of the Syrian revolution, as “proxies”)

3) US newspaper: Ground invasion needed to fight ISIS
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/21066-us-newspaper-destroying-daesh-requires-ground-troops

4) Pictured: Russian armoured tanks in Syria
http://www.souriat.com/2015/09/9360.html

5) Revolutionary forces launch missile attacks on Russian positions
http://www.mojahedin.org/newsen/37742/Syria-rebels-launch-missile-attack-on-Russian-military-positions-near-Jibla-airport#.Vfftnz7Vumk.facebook

Only difference between US and Russian policy on Syria – US wanted to prolong the conflict and to weaken (but maintain) the regime, Russia wanted regime’s stability.

It is tempting to state that this (de facto) inter-imperialist alliance is unprecedented, but the fact is that such alliances have occurred with relative regularity between imperialist competitors throughout history. This is just the most substantial one to yet happen in the post-CW era, where the conflict in this case between the US and Russia is not ideological (or even a pretense of ideology), but pure geopolitical competition.

5 years of lies, coming to an end. Pity about those who allowed Western powers to bluff their way full circle.