France | Syria | Myanmar

Mehdi Hasan: Marine Le Pen is what happens when you try to meet racism in the middle (Intercept)

The rise of Marine Le Pen in France is due to the failure of mainstream political parties to confront the racism of the National Front. Instead, they tried to co-opt it…
The conventional wisdom says that mainstream French politicians allowed the far right to win votes by letting them monopolize the issue of immigration. The reverse is, in fact, the case: Over the past four decades, both the center-right Republicans and center-left Socialists went out of their way to try and co-opt the xenophobic rhetoric and policies of the Le Pens, which only emboldened — and normalized — both father and daughter.

Patrick Wintour: Russian and western dispute over Syria chemical attack further muddies truth (Guardian)

An increasingly bitter dispute between Russia and the west over an inquiry into the recent chemical weapons attack that killed about 80 people in Syria has revealed the extent to which the two sides are unable to agree on basic facts – or even agree a process to ascertain the truth.
The row has also brought into questions of future international support for the Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the internationally respected multilateral body responsible for overseeing control of chemical weapons…
At the meeting in the Hague the OPCW executive rejected a Russian-led plan for an OPCW investigation to be restarted, prompting Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov to claim that the west was not interested in the truth of the incident – only in finding excuses to oust President Bashar al-Assad from power…
Lavrov again called for the OPCW to send its experts to Khan Sheikhoun and the Shayrat airfield to look into the alleged chemical incident.
The Russian move was rejected by 21 to 6 with 13 abstentions, …

Rick Sterling: How Media Bias Fuels Syrian Escalation (Consortium News)

The mainstream U.S. media now reports as “flat-fact” the Syrian government’s guilt in the April 4 chemical weapons incident, but the real facts are less clear and some point in the opposite direction.

Robert Parry: Did Al Qaeda Fool the White House Again? (Consortium News)

Despite evidence that Al Qaeda and its allies have staged fake chemical attacks in Syria before, Official Washington asserts with “high confidence” that it’s not being fooled again…
In Official Washington, words rarely mean what they say. For instance, if a U.S. government official voices “high confidence” in a supposed “intelligence assessment,” that usually means “we don’t have any real evidence, but we figure that if we say ‘high confidence’ enough then no one will dare challenge us.”

Philip Giraldi says IC-Military Doubt Assad Gas Narrative (Scott Horton)

Philip Giraldi, former CIA officer and Director of the Council for the National Interest, says that “military and intelligence personnel,” “intimately familiar” with the intelligence, say that the narrative that Assad or Russia did it is a “sham,” instead endorsing the Russian narrative that Assad’s forces had bombed a storage facility. Giraldi’s intelligence sources are “astonished” about the government and media narrative and are considering going public out of concern over the danger of worse war there. Giraldi also observes that the Assad regime had no motive to do such a thing at this time.

Theodore A. Postol: Assessment of White House Intelligence Report About Nerve Agent Attack in Khan Shaykhun, Syria (Global Research)

The only undisputable facts stated in the White House report is the claim that a chemical attack using nerve agent occurred in Khan Shaykhun, Syria on that morning. Although the White House statement repeats this point in many places within its report, the report contains absolutely no evidence that this attack was the result of a munition being dropped from an aircraft. In fact, the report contains absolutely no evidence that would indicate who was the perpetrator of this atrocity…
The data cited by the White House is more consistent with the possibility that the munition was placed on the ground rather than dropped from a plane.

Theodore A. Postol: With Error Fixed, Evidence Against ‘Sarin Attack’ Remains Convincing (Truthdig)
James Carden: The Chemical-Weapons Attack In Syria: Is There a Place for Skepticism? (Nation)

The American media has excluded dissenting expert opinions in its rush to embrace Trump’s war on Syria…
Former British ambassador to Syria Peter Ford told the BBC last week that he seriously doubted that Assad was the culprit. “Assad,” said Ford, “may be cruel, brutal but he’s not mad. It defies belief that he would bring this all on his head for no military advantage.” Ford said he believes the accusations against Syria are “simply not plausible.”
On April 11, the White House released a declassified four-page report meant to prove its case against Assad and serve as a belated justification for the Tomahawk attack on Syria’s Shayrat air base.
The report, which was authored not by US intelligence agencies but by the White House under the supervision of national-security adviser H.R. McMaster, says that “The United States is confident that the Syrian regime conducted a chemical weapons attack, using the nerve agent sarin, against its own people in the town of Khan Shaykhun in southern Idlib Province on April 4, 2017.”…
Yet the administration’s report has come under withering scrutiny from Dr. Theodore Postol, a professor emeritus of science, technology, and national-security policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who once served as a scientific adviser to the chief of naval operations at the Pentagon…
The Nation spoke to Postol over the weekend.
“What I think is now crystal clear,” he said, “is that the White House report was fabricated and it certainly did not follow the procedures it claimed to employ.”

False Flag Attack: Ex-CIA Officer Unravels Idlib Chemical Incident (Sputnik)

While US Defense Secretary James Mattis is pushing ahead with the claim that the Assad government still has chemical weapons, former CIA officer Robert David Steele told Radio Sputnik that the claim bears no relation to reality and added that evidence mounts that the Idlib incident was a false flag operation.

Patrick Martin: US claims of Syria nerve gas attack: The anatomy of a lie (World Socialist Web Site)

The claims by the US government that the Syrian government carried out a chemical weapons attack on the town of Khan Sheikhun, in southern Idlib province on April 4, have been backed by a week of nonstop media propaganda, as well as uncritical support, across the official political spectrum, for the missile strike ordered by President Trump against a Syrian base.
The charges against the Syrian government are absurd and unbelievable. The campaign mounted by the Trump administration, the intelligence agencies, the Pentagon and the Democratic Party demonstrates complete contempt for the intelligence of the people, and a belief that they can lie with impunity, because nothing they say will be challenged by the servile American media.

Mehdi Hasan: Burmese Nobel Prize Winner Aung San Suu Kyi Has Turned Into an Apologist for Genocide Against Muslims (Intercept)

For the past year, Aung San Suu Kyi has been State Counselor, or de facto head of government, in Myanmar, where members of the Rohingya Muslim minority in the northern Rakhine state have been shot, stabbed, starved, robbed, raped and driven from their homes in the hundreds of thousands. In December, while the world focused on the fall of Aleppo, more than a dozen Nobel Laureates published an open letter warning of a tragedy in Rakhine “amounting to ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.”…
And the response of Aung San Suu Kyi? This once-proud campaigner against wartime rape and human rights abuses by the Burmese military has opted to borrow from the Donald Trump playbook of denial and deflection. Her office accused Rohingya women of fabricating stories of sexual violence and put the words “fake rape” — in the form of a banner headline, no less — on its official website. A spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry — also controlled directly by Aung San Suu Kyi — dismissed “made-up stories, blown out of proportion.” In February, the State Counselor herself reportedly told the Archbishop of Yangon, Charles Bo, that the international community is exaggerating the Rohingya issue.

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