[Paradigm Shift 4zzz fm 102.1 friday 4 Mar 2016].

Andy: Welcome to the Paradigm Shift on 4ZZZ 102.1 where we challenge the assumptions of our current society, to resist oppression and investigate alternative ways of living for a world based on justice, solidarity and sustainability.

(Music …) Yes, welcome to the Paradigm Shift on 4ZZZ 102.1 FM. We do acknowledge the traditional owners of the land to which we are broadcasting. And today on the Paradigm Shift we are going to be talking Syria.

Click to enlarge (Syria is in the north-west of the map near Turkey)

Ian: Yes, people who have been following the news would know that a really big section of the northern hemisphere has been on tenterhooks in the last couple of weeks because there’s a very difficult conflict playing out there between a number of heavily armed states around Syria including Israel, the United States, Russia and Turkey. And last week, just on the eve of the ceasefire that was called by both the US and Russia, I had this interesting interview with David McIlwain which we will be playing today. He comes from a Syrian-Australian group that is asking for reconciliation in Syria so (it’s called) Australians for Reconciliation in Syria. David can explain that and we will have a bit of a chat about the consequences of that as we go through the hour. Andy: The consequences of course go far beyond Syria and its immediate neighbours when  you consider the nations that involved in this. You already mentioned also in that region Saudi Arabia, Iran, these very powerful countries all have some stake in Syria in some ways, it’s the crux of a global conflict at the moment.

Ian: That’s right, and I think that thankfully the ceasefire has held since the interview I did on Friday morning, We are 7 days away and that’s good, for the large part anyway, that the ceasefire has held and it shows that the Syrian people are exhausted by 5 years of war. It does suggest that Russia at least is looking for political settlement and the question is whether the other players will come to the party and stop all the warmongering in that area.  Andy: So let’s have a listen to David McIlwain and what he has to say.

Ian: Could you please introduce yourself.

David: Yes, my name’s David McIlwain. I am a resident of Victoria and I became involved with some local Syrian community near the beginning of the Syrian war in 2011, and then became involved with a movement called (AMRIS) Australians for Reconciliation in Syria which has been set up by Syrians to encourage reconciliation between people and the taking up of amnesties – that’s the basis of it.

Ian: What sort of work does Australians for Reconciliation in Syria do?

David: Well, in Australia we make submissions to the government, we act locally by attending meetings. (We don’t …) There’s not very many of us, we have support from the Syrian community, but there’s also the organisation Hands Off Syria which is based in Sydney, which does take part in protest rallies at times. But we are  really in connection with the movement in Syria which is about this reconciliation and trying to heal communities that have been split by sectarian divisions. And also, back in September when Australia decided to extend its commitment into Syria we put out a  press release stating the position on what we believe is the Syrian reality and what Australia should be doing.

Ian: When did Australia first become involved in the humanitarian disaster that the Syrian war has become?

David: Well, if you are cynical, you could say that Australia was involved in creating the humanitarian disaster by supporting these exiled opposition groups and supporting the US and other allies who basically created this war on Syria in pursuit of their own interests, so it’s deteriorated into the terrible situation it is now because of the ongoing support of the West, and Australia is still involved in the same way.

Ian: Why did Australia commit to support and arm those opposition groups?

David: Well we couldn’t say that Australia directly supported and armed them. That’s been really the role of America, the CIA, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar. But Australia has contributed politically quite significantly by supporting the so-called Friends of Syria, which is a group of all the people who aren’t actually friends of Syria, who are friends with Muslim Brotherhood, with other exiled Syrian people, and Gulf states who have a desire for a regime change in Syria basically.

Ian: When Australia decided to increase its commitment how much public debate was there and where did that occur? In the parliament? In the media?

David: There was practically none really. What happened initially back in September 2014 under Tony Abbot, when the US went in there (IRAQ) notionally with the pretext of saving the Yazidis (in Iraq), a minority who were being threatened by Islamic State, that was their pretext, and we followed quite shortly with Tony Abbot’s talk about “the Death Cult” and the threat to the world, and it wasn’t until a year later in fact that we extended our commitment into some airstrikes into Syria.

Ian: Oh, so Australian warplanes actually began bombing Syrian towns?

David: Not Syrian towns, well bombing… The pretext on which Australia went into Syria was quite different from the US one which isn’t widely appreciated. Australia operated at the bequest of the government of Baghdad, and our pretext was that we were protecting Iraqis from cross-border attacks launched by Islamic State from Syria, and that we had therefore the right to go across this desert border and target Islamic State militants in Syria. Whereas the US operates really independently of Baghdad in accord with the Kurdistan Regional Government in Erbil in the north of Iraq, and (not really …) it’s a strange division really because Baghdad is not really very supportive of the US actions. So our actions are quite separate.

Ian: Who was supposed to be making cross-border attacks from Syria into Iraq?

David: Well, Islamic State in fact did have a convoy of vehicles that came from presumably around Raqqa in Syria across the border and into Ramadi, and took over Ramadi, which has only quite recently been taken back from them. This was quite controversial in fact because this convoy went across hundreds of kilometres of open desert in full view of satellite monitoring and with no interference from US forces. And the same thing applied to movements of Islamic State into the Syrian ancient city of Palmyra This has been pointed out why did the US not strike these convoys of IS vehicles and this is one of the paradoxes, if you like.

(Music …) Part 2

Andy: On 4ZZZ community radio that track there was Spindles out of Sydney with Revolution a new song from her. And we have been talking Syria with David McIlwain from the Australian-Syrian reconciliation group.

Ian: Yes, Australians for Reconciliation in Syria, and they have linked up with a number of other groups both in Australia and in Syria as well. In the next part we talk about the connection between the debacle that was the Iraq War and the regime change that was effected there against Saddam Hussein in 2003 by the Coalition of the Willing. But a different story came this time where there was an attempt by the United States and its allies including Australia trying to effect regime change in Syria against the Assad government and they failed and it looks like they are just going to have to get used to the fact that Assad is not going.

Ian: How many Australian personnel are involved in Syria?

David: Well, there’s about 800 (Australians) involved in the specifically Iraqi Syrian deployment. There are 6 Super-Hornet fighter aircraft and a couple of support aircraft which engage in bombing runs into Iraq and Syria. So the two things cannot really be separated because it operates really under the control of Baghdad and supposedly with this pretext of protecting Iraqi people from Islamic State. And there’s about 300 ground troops near Baghdad who are training Iraqi soldiers to fight Islamic State in Iraq on the ground. But in fact to my mind, and other Syrians I would say, the object of the deployment to Iraq was always about Syria. It’s the war in Syria which is the focus of Western attention and the reason that the US went back into Iraq. It’s not really about Iraq which itself is a terrible mess. It’s hard to explain the intricacies of the power relationships there.

Ian: So what you’re saying is that rather than attacking Islamic State the Australian government on the request of Baghdad began operations against the Assad government. Is that what you’re saying?

David: No, no, no, no, I’m not saying that. I’m saying that the operations that the Australian air force has done has been against Islamic State targets, small vehicles or militant groups, and never far from Iraq, only in that north-east area of Syria which is mainly controlled by Islamic State, and it’s mostly desert. No, Australia’s military involvement definitely is not in any way involved, as far as I know, in the west of Syria where most of the people live, and where all the other terrorist groups operate along with Islamic State, where the Russian army and Syrian army are currently fighting them. So Australia’s involvement in Syria is really political and you’d have to say, through propaganda.

Ian: So is it a continuation of the debacle that was Australia’s commitment to the Iraq War?

David: Well it is in a sense. The Iraq War is seen as a debacle and also widely seen as being something launched on a false pretext of weapons of mass destruction, and perhaps in recognition that they couldn’t pull that one across us again; that the pretext for going into Syria has been about humanitarian intervention. You know, we have to go in there because there’s massacres and any number of things have been staged or contrived by opposition forces: claims of massacres by the Syrian government, including the chemical weapons attack which was a classic false flag operation designed to frame Syria as a pretext for military intervention. And I think now including Islamic State, which … um, US military figures have come out, and other information has come out showing Islamic State is being supported by the US like they supported al-Qaeda in Afghanistan against the Soviets. So the resolution to fight Islamic State is really a pretext to go in there and then target the Assad government, and as it happened now they have to target Russia as well which has complicated things no end.

Ian: Is it true to say that out of the Arab Spring a number of oppositional movements began and government regimes in the region began to topple? I’m talking here about Mubarak in Egypt, Gaddafi in Libya, and other places as well – in Tunis. So NATO, the US and Australia supported regime change but for some reason the desired regime change in Syria didn’t occur. So the wishes of the West were not realised. And now the US and Russia have called a ceasefire to commence later today. Does that mean that the US and Australia have given up on their objective of regime change in Syria.

David: Well you might think that they would have done by now! Because as you say the regime change operation in Syria has failed, and the main reason it has failed is because the Syrian people want their president. They re-elected him in 2014 by a huge majority and the UN certified it a free and fair election even, but we don’t accept that here. Australia doesn’t accept that the Assad government is legitimate. And the arguments that have gone with this Geneva talk and with Russia – Russia will not budge from its position that it’s up to Syrians to decide who their government will be, and Syrians have already chosen Assad, and given the chance they would choose him again. And Assad is only the president and he leads the Syrian army which is universally supported by Syrians in Syria. And it’s the Syrian army that is protecting them against these foreign mercenaries and terrorists who have done so much damage and killed so many Syrian soldiers. 60-70 thousand Syrian soldiers have died as the result of attacks by various terrorist groups. So the West should accept that their project of supporting these groups by one way or another, covertly through the Gulf states, has failed. They have come to this agreement with Russia a couple of days ago about the ceasefire, but already John Kerry has got up on television and said that if the ceasefire fails then we’ll go for Plan B which means that Assad will have to go. Well, Assad is not going. The Russians have got to the point where they can’t communicate sensibly with the West any longer because the West is persistent in its desire to get rid of Assad and replace him with chaos really. They’re not offering anything except that they want Syria, they want to split Hizballah and Lebanon from Iran, they want influence and control, they want a gas pipeline for Qatar to run through Syria, they want safety for Israel, all these other reasons, but Russia is standing in the way and will continue to. So the terms of the ceasefire, and the Geneva agreement which they have signed up to, say this: that the Syrian people have to decide. Syrians are getting very tired of this and look to Russia to save them. So we hope that maybe, maybe, this ceasefire will succeed if the West will keep to the terms of it. I take it Turkey hasn’t abandoned its plans, it is currently in Syria supporting Al-Nusra Front but also supporting ISIS/Islamic State which it has been supporting by taking thousands of truckloads of oil a day out through Turkey, selling them and providing the arms back to ISIS over the border, And Turkey is a bit of a wild card, Turkey is not agreeing with the ceasefire and hasn’t even been really mentioned!

(Music …) Part 3

Andy: On the Paradigm Shift on 4ZZZ. It’s just after half past 12. That song was Borders by MIA. And we have been talking about the conflict in Syria and the possibilities of ceasefire, of peace in Syria. We are talking with David McIlwain from Australians for Reconciliation in Syria. Shall we just go to Part 3? Yeah!

Andy: On the Paradigm Shift on 4ZZZ. It’s just after half past 12. That song was Borders by MIA. And we have been talking about the conflict in Syria and the possibilities of ceasefire, of peace in Syria. We are talking with David McIlwain from Australians for Reconciliation in Syria. Shall we just go to Part 3? Ian: Yeah!

Ian: Can you describe the connection between Australia and what is happening in Yemen? How is it connected to our operations in Iraq and the current engagement in Syria?

David: Yes, well the connection is not an official connection. But what has happened when Australia pulled out of Iraq in 2009 was that we moved our base to the UAE to a base called al-Minad south of Dubai under a status forces agreement with the Emirates, which means that our troops can’t be prosecuted in the event of some dispute, as an agreement that we also have with Baghdad, which is why we operate from Baghdad. And the Major General Mike Hindmarsh, who was head of the contingent in Iraq at the time of the move, became associated with the UAE’s own Presidential Guard, and became a leader of a group. And apparently during this engagement in Yemen of the Saudi Arabian coalition, of which UAE is a big part, Mike Hindmarsh was in Yemen assisting UAE forces against the Houthi rebel uprising in Yemen.

Ian: So what you’re saying is that at the end of the engagement in Iraq Australia left Baghdad but remained in the region under the auspices of the Emirates of Dubai.

David: Well, yes, it was based on their territory under this agreement, so it’s not a form of cooperation with the Emirates, but nevertheless it is because of the way that this happened. And this Mike Hindmarsh is no longer an Australian employee, he’s working as a private soldier for the Emirates. But the involvement of the Emirates with Saudi Arabia in Yemen but also in Syria is most  significant because Saudi Arabia is the chief backer of numbers of terrorist groups fighting the Syrian army and being targeted by Russia at the moment, and the supporter of the Syrian opposition groups in Geneva. So this link I see puts Australia very much on the side of Saudi Arabia and the opposition against Syria.

Ian: So the opposition groups in Syria they have a formal representation at the UN in Geneva, is that right?

David: Yes, well, Saudi Arabia hosted numbers of representatives of the exiled opposition but also representatives of what Syria refers to as terrorist groups in Syria such as Jaish al-Islam, Islamic Army, and other groups as well like al-Nusra Front, Ahrar ash-Sham, which are loosely classified really by the UN as terrorist groups, but Saudi Arabia is persisting in saying that they are not and sending their representatives to Geneva. So there’s a bit of a disjunction between these two sides there. Saudi Arabia has played a very central role in supporting the rebels in Syria in conjunction with Turkey.

Ian: So the Coalition of the Willing, of which Australia was a part, they managed to effect regime change in Iraq, they got rid of Saddam Hussein. There was a change of government I believe, that Saudi Arabia managed to put in a puppet government in Yemen, but now the deposed government of Yemen and the Houthis are fighting back and being successful in their opposition to the Saudi troops.

David: Yes, that’s the essence of it. That the government of Abd-Rabbu Mansur-Hadi, that the Saudis  support and which they say is the internationally recognised government, is not recognised by very many Yemenis. And the Saudis launched this attack on Yemen on the basis it was against these Houthi rebels who are backed by Iran, but in fact they are just a part of the whole resistance forces. Most Yemenis don’t support Saudi Arabia, they don’t want to be Saudi Arabia’s country, they want independence. And there’s a government called Ansarullah of which the Houthis are a part. And so the Houthis probably with popular support are having successes against Saudi coalition troops who don’t have many actual forces fighting on the ground.

Ian: But they have been bombing the capital of Yemen, Sana’a. They have been bombing it, is that right?

David: Well, they have, yes. They’ve bombed all over the country, and bombing indiscriminately, and hitting wedding parties and schools, hospitals, houses; maybe sometimes hitting Houthi militia forces, but most of the deaths have been civilians and with huge injuries. As well, along with the bombing there has been a  blockade which is the cause of the humanitarian crisis which we periodically hear about – you know, Saudi enforced blockade! Saudi enforced, but also with the assistance of France and other Western nations. And all this has been happening with the full cooperation of UK and US, both supplying arms, providing drone reconnaissance, airstrikes, and selling arms too. In fact the EU has just passed  a motion against the selling of arms to Saudi Arabia today, which Saudi Arabia is protesting about, because of what’s been happening in Yemen.

(Music …)

Part 4

Ian: Is there anything you would like to add, and particularly are there any ways in which our listeners can find out about what is happening and what the activities of Australians for Reconciliation in Syria are?

David: Well, Australians for Reconciliation in Syria has a website which has got a lot of reports from over the past 4 years and some new ones. I would advise Australians to start listening to what mostly Russian media is saying. RT Russia Today, which actually broadcasts on SBS at 0300 o’clock in the morning every Tuesday morning, gives you an hour of news which gives an entirely different perspective, They have got reporters on the ground in Syria who are with the Syrian Army. And Russian media generally. Personally I write for a site called Russian Insider which is publishing a lot of articles with an alternative viewpoint. But the problem for Australians is that the reality is just so far from what we have been told for the last 4 years that even with friends I know they can’t accept it. So it’s very exasperating trying to put the right information out there into people’s minds.

Ian: Well thank you very much David. We will hope to, on this radio station at least, try to cover the areas that you have alerted us to and try to interview other people who are involved and on the ground, particularly so we can look at the human rights of Syrian people and see what can be done by just ordinary Australians, since there is no debate in the parliament or in the media about it, maybe we can start up a debate elsewhere.

David: Thank you so much for letting me express my opinions and share the views of what I believe are those of most Syrians on the matter.


At the close of the show Andy and Ian discussed the situation. At one point religious came up and this was Ian’s off-the-cuff response:

“… Bringing in religion, Saudi Arabia is really a Caliphate where there has been a reconciliation between the Wahabis and the actual military, the state. And that reconciliation goes back 300 years. The United States says that it opposes Islamic State who want to set up a Caliphate in Iraq and Syria, but they support a Caliphate in Saudi Arabia effectively which has got all of those fundamentalist beliefs behind it.

And so there can’t be any solution by on the one hand supporting this Caliphate and on the other hand saying this other Caliphate is reprehensible and they behead people. You’ve got to think about why does this Islamic State exist? I don’t know whether people know for sure, but it seems to me that ordinary people do get drawn to those ideologies if they are poor, if they have no future and they have nowhere to look, and there’s no-one proposing a more meaningful human existence. And it seems to me that a lot of the people that start supporting the more extreme groups are the people who have come out of very poor backgrounds and have very little education.

And that’s where the solution has got to come. It’s got to be more equality for people and not to be just led by a sophisticate who is bourgeois like Assad (is). It’s got to come from the people, and there’s not a lot of that happening.

In Lebanon there was civil war for 30 years (actually it was from 1975 to 1990). There was invasion by Israel into southern Lebanon. The people became totally exhausted by that war. They were invaded by Syria as well, by the way. A group developed the military discipline to drive Israel out and to prevent any further incursions into their borders, that group was Hezbollah [Israel were pushed out from Lebanon on May 24, 2000]. And they (the Lebanese people) had 5 years of peace. And the economy started to get going again. Then you’ve got the CIA, all these people want to interfere, start manipulating right there on the border (of Lebanon & Syria), and so on.”

Spindles – Revolution
M.I.A. – Borders
Combat Wombat – Asylum
Arafura – Decolonise


8 thoughts on “Syria”

  1. 1) why did the Australian government send troops to Syria after their debacle in Iraq?

    (in a word – US request, but following the beating up of the domestic threat from IS – Tony Abbott’s ‘death cult’. … while everyone knows about the WMD in Iraq lies, there was minimal resistance from the A parliament to this re-entry into Iraq, even though it was always actually about regime change in Damascus)
    First deployment in sept 2014

    2) how many military personnel and support staff does Australia have in the Middle East at the present time?

    (at least 2000, including all three forces and support staff at Al Minhad air base 25 kms south of Dubai in the UAE. About 800 of these are involved in Operation Okra in Iraq)
    Al Minhad was set up, with a Status of Forces Agreement with the UAE, when A troops pulled out of Iraq – under Maj Gen Mike Hindmarsh.

    3) where are australian military personnel deployed and what are they doing?

    Six super hornets and two support aircraft are involved in flights over Iraq and into Syria, but in a token effort only. Ground forces work with the Iraqi army out of Baghdad and under their command, not that of the US.

    Operations: from JTF 633 HQ: Al Minhad airbase UAE. 800 personnel in 2014

    Okra: 780 troops total; 400 Air task group, 80 Special operations TG, 300 TB Taji ground force.

    Accordion: 400 ADF forces support operations in the region out of Al Minhad base.

    Manitou: Maritime group currently HMAS Darwin, deployed to the MER to work with the ‘Combined Maritime Forces’ on counter terrorism, smuggling and protecting Arabian Gulf, since 1990.
    Highroad: Afghanistan 250 personnel

    ( Maj General Mike Hindmarsh, JTF leader 3.08 – 1 09, now UAE presidential guard in Abu Dhabi, for Abu Zaid al Nayan responsible for moving JTF HQ to Al Minhad, while in the ADF. Former SAS head. Reportedly commander of UAE battalion in Yemen, w other Aus mercenaries. (AHT article Dec 16th 2015)

    4) who are australians fighting for and who are they opposing?

    Deployment initially on the basis of protecting Iraq from Da’esh, “Humanitarian intervention.. Yazidis…” But the move into Syria last September – a year later, was ‘to stop it launching attacks into Iraq from Syria’.

    This is nonsense, but is the only pretext that Australia could find to justify bombing runs in Syria without subjecting our forces to possible pursuit at the ICC. But our air force operates under the command of the US, which is pursuing a far more aggressive agenda in Syria and operating to assist the Kurdish regional government and its Oil interests in Northern Iraq – Erbil.

    Meanwhile Australian troops on the ground in Baghdad are assisting the Iraqi Army to fight IS and its supporters, which include Turkey. Turkish forces are present in Mosul, despite protests from Baghdad to the UN.

    5) after 5 years war in syria involving the US, turkey, israel, jordan, saudi arabia, iran, russia, britain, france, and hezbollah from lebanon; the US and the Russian Federation have agreed to a ceasefire commencing today (26 feb 2016).
    who will cease fire and who will not?

    – Kerry’s ‘Plan B’ statement – Russian reaction.

    Essential points:

    Australia supports the Syrian Opposition as the ‘legitimate reps of the Syrian people’, while rejecting the vote of those people for Bashar al Assad and the Syrian Army.

    The war on Syria is not a Syrian creation. From the start it has been an insurgency supported and pursued by the US and NATO, Gulf States and Turkey to drive a wedge into the Resistance countries.

    Australia’s military contribution to fighting Da’esh in Syria is at the pleasure of the Baghdad government.

    Da’esh/Islamic State is a contrivance, created by the West as something that will threaten Western countries – the only basis on which the public will support further intervention, following the failure of the Chem Weapons trick. The US coalition has done almost nothing to attack IS in Iraq or Syria, allowing convoys to invade Ramadi and Palmyra, and not targeting the Oil pipeline and Arms delivery through Turkey. Russia exposed this – Putin at the Paris conference.

    AMRIS –
    ABC on Al Minhad Sept 2014:'s-base-of-operations-in-the-middle-east/5744620
    IS in Mosul, June 2014:


  2. Following the Paris bombings last November, Iran’s Supreme Leader Sayyid Ali Khamenei posted an open letter on his website, addressed to ‘the Youth of the West’. Titled ‘Today terrorism is our common worry’, this letter was an urgent appeal to that youth, in whom Khamenei sees the hope for a different future from the one promised by the West’s current policies. Sympathising with the pain felt by all those affected by the terrorist attack in Paris, he nevertheless puts it in perspective with that suffered for so long by the people in the Middle East, as a result of Western intrusion and attacks.

    While Sayyid Ali Khamenei’s letter is addressed to ‘Western youth’ – which is predominantly non-Muslim – its advice and viewpoint are clearly aimed also at Muslim communities in France and elsewhere. It is however obviously also targeted at Western powers and the whole range of commentators and institutions who share responsibility for the West’s aggressive policies towards the Islamic world.

    It would be hard to improve on Khamenei’s actual words of wisdom, so this is a good start:

    “It is correct that today terrorism is our common worry. However, it is necessary for you to know that the insecurity and strain that you experienced during the recent events, differ from the pain that the people of Iraq, Yemen, Syria and Afghanistan have been experiencing for many years, in two significant ways. First, the Islamic world has been the victim of terror and brutality to a larger extent territorially, to greater amount quantitatively and for a longer period in terms of time. Second, that unfortunately this violence has been supported by certain great powers through various methods and effective means.

    Today, there are very few people who are uninformed about the role of the United States of America in creating, nurturing and arming al-Qaeda, the Taliban and their inauspicious successors. Besides this direct support, the overt and well-known supporters of takfiri terrorism- despite having the most backward political systems- are standing arrayed as allies of the west while the most pioneering, brightest and most dynamic democrats in the region are suppressed mercilessly.”

    But it’s important to first put the whole subject into context so that these words won’t once again fall on deaf ears. That ‘context’ is in the history of Iran’s relationship with the West over the last 65 years, though it must suffice to consider the most recent changes around the so-called Nuclear Deal.

    ‘So-called’ – because this was never really about Iran’s nuclear program, and certainly not about its non-existent nuclear weapons program, even though this was constantly presented in the West as a significant threat. Even the IAEA and US bodies monitoring Iran’s nuclear activities had concluded that some preliminary moves towards a weapons program had been abandoned in 2003, since when Iran’s stated aims to enrich Uranium for reactor fuel and supply medical and industrial isotopes had evidently been genuine.

    What is more, Ayatollah Khamenei had repeatedly called for the banning of nuclear weapons, and declared that such devices go entirely against the principles of Islam and the aspirations of everyone for a safe and peaceful world.

    While it may be hard to accept that the whole circus of the last ten years around ‘Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Program’ was entirely contrived, and driven by the remorseless hostility of certain states toward Iran, this is the reality, and we can consequently pass judgement on the legitimacy of those states and their right to participate in international affairs.

    We need hardly mince words about which ‘states’ we are referring to – Khamenei himself certainly doesn’t hesitate to identify Israel and Israel’s key backer the United States as the prime source of aggression and destabilisation toward Iran and other countries in the region. While Iran’s previous President, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad never tired of haranguing the West and Israel over the persecution of Palestinians, Western leaders and their puppet media did a great hatchet job on this man who wouldn’t wear a tie, or shut up. Even though he got to have his say in the very public forum of the UNGA, where it provoked a traditional walk-out from Israel’s many allies, what he actually said rarely got any attention.

    Thanks to the power of the US media – which in this case we can rightly call ‘the Western Zionist media’, most people in the West believed not just that Iran wanted to ‘wipe Israel off the map’, but was actually planning to do so, with a single nuclear tipped missile. President Ahmedinejad didn’t actually ever say this of course, but rather presented the distinctly unpalatable idea that Israel wanted to wipe Palestine off the map, and was busy doing so. This idea wasn’t just unpalatable, but the truth of it was hard to conceal – except perhaps by distraction; we could look at the claims about Iran’s nuclear weapons program in this light, and see just how effective they have been.

    We can go further though – and consider that the essential reason for Israel’s persistent belligerence towards Iran is primarily because of Iran’s unshakeable support for Palestinian rights. While Iran is clearly antagonistic to the Zionist state and its US ally, as illegitimate invaders of the Islamic world, it also sees the ongoing persecution of the Palestinians as an affront to humanity, and the prime cause of destabilisation of the whole region. This is an argument difficult to counter, and with many unheeded UN resolutions behind it might also be impossible for Israel to win in a fair court of opinion.

    Sayyid Ali Khamenei is a much respected, even venerated figure in Iran today, and for good reason. Western media mutter darkly about ‘the mullahs’ who suppress the little fires of dissent and clamp down on ‘democratic reformers’ – as indeed they are muttering at the moment with new Iranian parliamentary elections taking place. But those media rarely criticise Ayatollah Khamenei directly, despite his expressing equally ‘controversial’ views to those of Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. Rather they just ignore him, though not necessarily simply because he is Iranian; Pope Francis has expressed very similar views to Khamenei on Palestine as well as on the degeneration of morality and values in Western capitalist societies.

    In Khamenei’s view, it is this ‘moral degeneration’ in Western culture which is the breeding ground for the delinquent terrorism now plaguing the world. He writes:

    “Dear youth! I have the hope that you- now or in the future- can change this mentality corrupted by duplicity, a mentality whose highest skill is hiding long-term goals and adorning malevolent objectives. In my opinion, the first step in creating security and peace is reforming this violence-breeding mentality. As long as double-standards dominate western policies, as long as terrorism- in the view of its powerful supporters- is divided into “good” and “bad” types, and as long as governmental interests are given precedence over human values and ethics, the roots of violence should not be searched for in other places.”

    These views, about the West’s hypocrisy and double standards on who counts as a terrorist or as a ‘freedom fighter’ are barely controversial, at least to Westerners sceptical of their governments’ honesty. But the mention of ‘moral degeneration’ is more problematic for a culture that sees itself as ‘liberated’ and ‘progressive’. Khamenei continues in this vein:

    “Unfortunately, these roots have taken hold in the depths of western cultural policies over the course of many years and they have caused a soft and silent invasion. Many countries of the world take pride in their local and national cultures, cultures which through development and regeneration have soundly nurtured human societies for centuries. The Islamic world is not an exception to this. However in the current era, the western world with the use of advanced tools is insisting on the cloning and replication of its culture on a global scale. I consider the imposition of western culture upon other peoples and the trivialization of independent cultures as a form of silent violence and extreme harmfulness.”

    And on this threatening Western culture –

    “Humiliating rich cultures and insulting the most honoured parts of these, is occurring while the alternative culture being offered in no way has any qualification for being a replacement. For example, the two elements of “aggression” and “moral promiscuity” which unfortunately have become the main elements of western culture, have even degraded the position and acceptability of its source region.

    So now the question is: are we “sinners” for not wanting an aggressive, vulgar and fatuous culture? Are we to be blamed for blocking the flood of impropriety that is directed towards our youth..?”

    In Khamenei’s view, the blending of this aggressive and degenerate Western culture with the cultures of the Islamic world lies at the root of barbaric terrorist movements like Da’esh.

    For so many in the West, long immersed in a culture increasingly dominated by America, Khamenei’s viewpoint looks ‘reactionary’ or repressive. But consider this – why have the apocalyptic propaganda videos of Da’esh been described as ‘looking like Hollywood productions’? Is it not that they also seem to share ‘Hollywood values’?

    Hollywood may just be a film fantasy world, but what is wrong with a culture that sees such horrific fantasies – which strive to be ultra-realistic and appeal emotively to the most primitive instincts – as the pinnacle of their ‘artistic’ achievement, as well as a great money earner?

    How long can we also maintain that the consumption of such a diet of ‘war-porn’ has no effect on our youth, and bears no relation to the endless violence and mass-shootings that plague American society? Is this not what Khamenei fears may infect the young minds to which he appeals?

    David MacIlwain

    Khamenei’s full letter can be read at this link.


  3. Ray wrote about Caliphates:

    (I started to research this as a response to what a friend had written: “I like the idea that Saudi Arabia is already ‘the Caliphate’, because it’s hard to see in what ways it isn’t exactly that!” I felt that needed a strong refutation!)

    According to the most respected Arab historian Ibn Khaldun, a caliphate differs from a royal dynasty in that “royal rulers tend to be self-serving and corrupt and hold all the power of the land within their own family generation after generation, whereas a Caliph is elected by the leaders of the tribes and nations of the caliphate to take on the Messenger of Allah’s responsibility of looking after the people’s wellbeing.” … “Royal authority, however, requires superiority and force, which express the wrathfulness and animality of human nature.” [ Ibn Khaldun, Muqaddimah, Chapter III Section 23, The Meaning of Caliphate and Imamate. Translated by Franz Rosenthal, pp. 256-257.]

    Ibn Khaldun would have been comparing the principle of Khilafet (Caliphate) vis-a-vis royalty, and not its actual practice. In practice only the immediate successors of Muhammad, called “The Righteous Caliphs” (ie Abu Baker, Omar, Uthman and Ali), were chosen. On the other hand, the Umayyad and Abbasid empires were legacies; father to son. So the idealism described by Ibn Khaldun lasted only a few decades. While Turkish authorities ruled over many tribes and nations over centuries including Turks, Kurds, Alevis, Armenians, Assyrians and other tribes of Islamic, Christian, Jewish, Zoroastrian and other faiths, their leaders, including those dubbed as Caliphs, generally neglected the responsibility of looking after the people’s welfare, especially for those tribes of Kurds, Armenians and Assyrians who suffered genocide under their rule.

    More self-serving and corrupt than both the Saudi royal family and the Muslim Brotherhood rulers of Turkey, who provide arms to terrorists to destabilize the neighboring countries of Syria and Iraq and steal oil from these countries by buying it from the terrorists they support, is the self-proclaimed Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his band of head-chopping terrorists, who show even less respect to the people’s welfare than the Saudi and Turkish leaders do. The people ran away from the terror of this self-proclaimed caliphate in their hundreds of thousands! Al-Baghdadi may claim to be caliph but only the head-choppers are prepared to go along with him in that – and only because their own heads will be chopped off if they disagree!

    By Ibn Khaldun’s definition Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Islamic State cannot be Caliphates, firstly because their control “requires superiority and force, which express the wrathfulness and animality of human nature”, and secondly, their leaders have NOT been “elected by the leaders of the tribes and nations of the caliphate” and thirdly they have NOT taken on “the Messenger of Allah’s responsibility of looking after the people’s well-being

    Iman Safi replied:

    Hi Ray, your friend has got many numbers muddled up but never mind.

    He is including many observations and rightfully so. But, he is missing the main point; the recruitment drive for ISIS is literally the fear of God as understood by all Muslims without any exception and as formally and practically endorsed by the Wahabbis.

    This fear surpasses all financial and stature barriers. You are therefore right in saying that not only the poor and under-educated are lured in.

    And this is perhaps the stark difference between the Saudi Royals and a caliphate. Even though both are based on the same doctrine in many ways (and Ian is correct to say that), a true Caliphate, i.e. as per ISIS, is expansive in nature and aims to rule the world.

    The Saudi regime however, does not have those aspirations even though the Saudi royals are clearly trying to put themselves at the head of the Muslim world. But they are not physically engaged in expanding their territory.

    Furthermore, the Saudi royals would not and can not claim to the Muslim world that they are a Caliphate.
    They know that they will not be taken seriously.

    As far as the non Muslim and Muslim worlds are concerned therefore, apart from the ideologies and the succession issue mentioned in the previous message, Saudi Arabia is a state with known borders that runs on Wahabbi Islam. On the other hand, ISIS is a self -proclaimed state with ambitious borders that also runs on Wahabbi Islam.

    Though the differences are subtle, they can possibly explain, but not justify, why the US finds itself able to support one and not the other.

    Ray added:

    Thanks very much for that clarification, I’m passing that on to Ian who wrote that “Saudi Arabia is a Caliphate” paragraph. From the distinction you make about being self-proclaimed with ambitious borders it also suggests why Erdogan would be seen as a greater renegade to the US than the Saudis.

    While he hasn’t proclaimed his intention to be an emperor, the psychological signs of someone wanting to expand Turkey and Turkism under his own leadership does give him the appearance of a wannabe Caliph.

    The Saudis on the other hand, apart from their aggression in Yemen, want to buy the world, and the Yankees would be pleased to sell them bridges and skyscrapers while enmeshing them in strangling red-tape.


  4. Hands Off Syria – Brisbane have called an organising meeting at 1pm till 3pm on Saturday 24th September 2016 at Kurilpa Hall, 174 Boundary Street, West End (next to the library).

    All who oppose the war on Syria, and who would like to build a campaign to educate the public of the harm caused by the continuing US-UK-Australia war of proxy terror groups and bombing against Syria are welcome.

    The Australian air force’s involvement last weekend in the slaughter and injury of hundreds of Syrian soldiers defending their country against ISIS and other terrorists arises directly from Australia’s endless participation in war after war in other people’s countries at the behest of US imperialism.

    Australia from the start has supported the criminal US enterprise in Syria – of targeting and destroying a sovereign nation to advance US imperial interests in the Middle East.

    While the USA and “allies” such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have recruited and unleashed jihadi death squads on Syria, to terrorise and slaughter its people, to destroy the country and to bring about “regime change”, the Australian government has aided the effort by enforcing US-imposed sanctions on Syria that above all hurt the Syrian people.

    Australian military aircraft have been carrying out airstrikes in Syria, under US direction at least since 2015.

    Australian Special Forces have been training the ‘rebels’ that are intended to carry out ‘regime change’ in Syria, as part of the US coalition to topple the Assad government, but using the ISIS threat as a cover.

    It was inevitable that such involvement, criminal in its very nature, would lead to Australian military forces’ involvement in such a ‘mistake’ as the air strikes on Deir al-Zor.

    That this ‘mistake’ was accidental defies belief – this area has always been held by the Syrian Army, despite a long term siege of the town by jihadi forces. For the last two years only two parties have been fighting each other in this part of Syria: the Syrian army and ISIS.

    There are no forces present in the Deir al-Zor area that the USA can claim to be US allies. However there is an airbase and the United States wants the Syrian Air Force grounded – to be brought under a ‘No Fly’ zone. Letting ISIS take it over is a way to do this.

    This is also the second time that the USA has ‘accidentally’ struck Syrian troops defending the Deir al-Zor airbase from ISIS mercenaries, this time enabling ISIS to capture a defence line near the base.

    The Deir al-Zor incident shows that the US line that it is supporting ‘moderate’ anti-Assad forces while also prosecuting a war against ISIS is a sham. The USA is now exposed as openly backing ISIS against Syrian forces to bring about its goal of regime change.

    Australia is part of a criminal war. Its involvement with the slaughter at Deir al-Zor means it is now directly responsible for a war crime.
    It has become a rogue nation, part of a predatory coalition willing to use jihadi terrorists, including Al Qaeda and ISIS, to overthrow a legitimate government.



  5. The ‘cease-fire’ in Syria announced in March 2016 is over.

    Michael Bruill writing in the New Matilda says:

    “The way to end the war is to de-escalate it. The first step to letting Syrians reclaim their own destiny is to wind-down foreign involvement. If we want the war to end, we should end our involvement in it, and we should pressure our allies to end the war and flow of arms as well.”



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