I was doing my regular trawl of news, and happened upon the latest accusation against Iran. According to the intelligence community in several countries, Iran has been supplying weapons to the Syrian government, to use in its violent “crackdown” on the “peaceful” protestor-rebels.
I have no in-depth insider knowledge of arms trafficking, so I couldn’t say for certain whether this claim was accurate – but when I found that David Cameron had called out Bashar al-Assad, the President of Syria, as a “wretched tyrant”, I knew I was looking at war propaganda.
“David Cameron accuses Iran of supplying Syria weapons : David Cameron accused the Iranian regime of supplying weapons for the Syrian onslaught on democracy protests yesterday as Russia’s foreign minister warned that the West was set on a path to war with Tehran : By Damien McElroy, Foreign Affairs Correspondent : 18 January 2012 : The Prime Minister revealed that British officials had been told that weapons shipments from Iran to Syria had been intercepted by Turkey and that intelligence reports confirmed that Hizbollah, the Iranian-backed Lebanese movement, was actively involved in the slaughter of Syria. “There is now growing evidence that Iran is providing a huge amount of support,” he told the House of Commons. “There have been interceptions of some shipments by Turkey which are particularly interesting. People should also know that Hizbollah is an organisation standing up and supporting this wretched tyrant who is killing so many of his own people.” Mounting frustration in Whitehall over the role of foreign support for the Syrian regime to suppress the uprising has seen the Government, along with other Western powers, switch tactics in recent days. After deferring to an Arab League initiative to send in monitoring teams to defuse violence, diplomats now want a UN Security Council resolution condemning the regime…”
Damien McElroy. Hasn’t he been awarded tassels and gongs for his replication of the narratives of State in the past ? Has he just re-gurgitated something emailed to him, or off the telly, or has he checked his facts about the flow of armaments in the Middle East ?
He’s not the only one to mirror the Establishment narrative, however :-
“18 January 2012…Meanwhile, the UK has accused Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement of helping the Syrian government suppress dissent…”People should also know that Hezbollah is an organisation standing up and supporting this wretched tyrant who is killing so many of his own people,” he added, referring to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad…”
“18th January 2012 : David Cameron branded President Bashar al-Assad a ‘wretched tyrant’ as he told Parliament that Britain should play a leading role in urging the international community to step up sanctions against Syria. The Prime Minister claimed there was growing evidence that both Iran and militant group Hezbollah were helping to prop up the Syrian leader. He said: ‘Britain needs to lead the way in making sure we tighten the sanctions, the travel bans, the asset freezes, on Syria. ‘In terms of who is actually helping the Syrian government to oppress their people, there is now growing evidence that Iran is providing a huge amount of support. ‘People should also know that Hezbollah is also an organisation that is standing up and supporting this wretched tyrant who is killing so many of his own people.’ ”
Who started this rumour ? Why, the Americans of course :-
“Iran supplying weapons to Syria crackdown: US officials : By Stephen Collinson : Sat, Jan 14, 2012 : The United States believes Iran is supplying munitions to aid Syria’s bloody protest crackdown in an initiative spearheaded by Tehran’s revolutionary guard supremo, according to senior US officials. Qasem Soleimani, head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps elite Quds force, was in the Syrian capital this month, one official said on Friday, in what Washington sees as the most concrete sign yet that Iranian aid to Syria includes military hardware. “We are confident that he was received at the highest levels of the Syrian government, including by President Assad,” the official said on condition of anonymity. We think this relates to Iranian support for the Syrian government’s attempts to suppress its people.” The official said Washington has reason to believe that Iran is supplying security-related equipment “including munitions” to Syrian forces. “The US government believes Iran has supplied Syria with munitions” for use in the military crackdown, he said. The United States has long suspected that Iran has been aiding Syria’s purge against protesters as Assad tries to cling to power and avoid the fate of other Arab dictators felled by the Arab Spring uprisings…”
What has Iran to say of this slur ?
“17 January 2012 : Iran on Tuesday denied an allegation from France that it was sending weapons to its ally Syria in violation of a U.N. embargo. “The declarations from French officials are incorrect,” Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters in a regular weekly briefing. “Unfortunately we often see political positions by officials from some European countries, this time by France, that are baseless and not backed by proof,” he said. France’s foreign ministry said on Monday that Iran has repeatedly violated a U.N. arms embargo by exporting weapons to Syria, which is roiled by internal strife. French foreign ministry spokesman Romain Nadal said a U.N. panel of experts had informed the U.N. Security Council of “illegal and deeply shocking” violations of the embargo by Iran. “We condemn these violations and call on Iran and Syria to comply with Security Council resolutions,” Nadal said…”
Well, whether or not there’s any truth in this latest anti-Iran meme, nobody has accused anybody in Russia of being wretched or tyrannical in supplying arms to Syria :-
“01/12/2011 : MOSCOW, December 1 (RIA Novosti) : EU sanctions against Syria do not prohibit Russian arms supplies to the Arab country, First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said on Thursday. Asked whether Russia would supply weapons to Syria despite EU sanctions, he said: “Are they banned or what?” “Russia will do whatever is not prohibited by any regulations, rules or agreements,” he said. Moscow is against an arms embargo on Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday. The United States and European Union have already banned arms supplies to Damascus, and the Arab League proposed to follow suit during its meeting on Syria on Sunday. Russia is Syria’s major arms supplier, with contracts worth at least $4 billion as of 2011. International pressure on the regime of President Bashar al-Assad has mounted in the past few weeks over his intensified crackdown on dissent.”
“Russia Rejects U.S. Criticism Over Munitions Delivery to Syria : January 18, 2012 : Russia rejected U.S. criticism over a Russian arms shipment to Syria, saying it’s not acting illegally by supplying weapons to the Middle Eastern country. “We don’t consider it necessary to explain or justify ourselves because we aren’t breaking any international agreements or UN Security Council resolutions,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters in Moscow today. Russia accuses western countries of seeking to overthrow Assad and has blocked sanctions against Syria at the Security Council. The U.S. and European Union have both imposed an arms embargo against Syria, where more than 5,000 people have died in a crackdown on unrest that began in March, according to the United Nations. The U.S. has “very grave concern” about arms reaching Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, said yesterday after news reports that a Russian shipment of ammunition arrived in Syria. Chariot, a Russian-owned ship carrying bullets, was detained by Cypriot authorities last week and allowed to proceed after agreeing to change its destination to Turkey. The ship stopped transmitting its automatic-recognition signal and went to the Syrian port of Tartus instead, the Cypriot national broadcaster CyBC reported, without saying where it got the information. : ‘Overdue’ Embargo : “Unfortunately there is not an arms embargo against Syria, which we certainly think is overdue, in part because as you well know some members of the council including Russia have indicated opposition to any form of sanctions,” Rice said in New York yesterday. Russia has weapons contracts with Syria of at least $3 billion, according to the Moscow-based Center for the Analysis of Strategies and Technologies. The orders include Yakhont anti- ship cruise missiles, MiG-29 fighter jets and Pantsir short- range air-defense systems. The port of Tartus is the only Russian base outside the former Soviet republics. Lavrov said Russia only trades with Syria what is legal under international law. “Unilateral sanctions imposed by the U.S. and EU and some other countries can’t be regarded as legitimate as far as Russia’s actions are concerned,” he said.
“Thawing The Cold War: Russia Found To Be Supplying Syria With Weapons, US Not Amused : Submitted by Tyler Durden on 01/13/2012 13:47 : Remember the cold war: evil Empire, 5 year plans, Lada cars, etc? It may very well be back, this time over the simple matter of a few million barrels of crude per day, after Russia was found to be quietly supplying an embargoed Syria with ammunition, in violation of a weapons embargo. Reuters reports: “A Russian-operated ship carrying a cargo of ammunition has reached conflict-torn Syria after being temporarily halted during a refuelling stop in Cyprus, sources in Russia and Cyprus said on Friday. A source in Cyprus, where the ship made an unscheduled stop for refuelling late on Tuesday, said the ship had given written assurances to authorities its destination would not be Syria but Turkey. It was allowed to sail a day later, whereupon it dropped off conventional tracking systems, switched course and reached Syria on Thursday. “It had bullets. There were four containers on board,” a Cypriot official told Reuters.” And here the plot thickens: we now have some war mongering deepthroat somewhere in Leningrad, pardon, St. Petersburg: “The ship was carrying a dangerous cargo,” the source at St. Petersburg-based Westberg Ltd. said by telephone on condition of anonymity. “It reached Syria on Jan. 11th.” Needless to say, the US is not very happy that Russia is doing precisely what it warned a few months ago it would do: namely protect its sphere of influence especially in light of the ever-encroaching NATO aspirations (yes, provocations go both ways as Ron Paul has long been warning): “The United States said on Friday it had raised concerns with Moscow over a Russian-operated ship that has arrived in Syria and which sources said contained a cargo of bullets. “With regard to the ship we have raised our concerns about this both with Russia and with Cyprus, which was the last port of call for the ship, and we are continuing to seek clarification as to what went down here,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.” Looks like the escalation in the Straits of Hormuz is about to shift to the backburner as we finally go back to where the real tension is and always has been: between West and East…”
This is a bit rich, you would have thought, for Russia to be arming the Syrian regime when it is also playing the “no foreign military interference” card :-
“Russia vows to block Western intervention in Syria : By ZEINA KARAM, Associated Press – 18 January 2012 : BEIRUT (AP) — Syria’s powerful allies in Russia vowed Wednesday to block any Western attempts to intervene militarily in Syria as Damascus fights off an increasingly chaotic 10-month-old revolt against President Bashar Assad. The support came as Assad was showing fresh confidence that he can ride out the uprising with the help of a small — but influential — set of friends in Russia, China and Iran. Iran also gave Syria another boost Wednesday. According to Iran’s semi-official ISNA news agency, with the commander of Iran’s Quds Force, Brig. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, said Assad’s government enjoys public support and won’t collapse…”
And Iran is also condemning foreign interference :-
“17 January 2012 : Iran condemned what it called foreign interference in the affairs of its closest Arab ally, Syria, and praised reforms President Assad has promised as “problem-solving”. “We are fundamentally against interfering in the affairs of other countries. We think it does not solve the problems but will only make them more complicated,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told a news conference. Assad, while proffering reform, has vowed to crush his opponents with an “iron fist”, but Syrians braving bullets and torture chambers appear equally determined to add him to the list of the past year’s toppled Arab leaders…”
And then, there’s the delicate question of who’s arming the Syrian rebels ?
“25 November 2011 : Libya’s new rulers offer weapons to Syrian rebels : Syrian rebels held secret talks with Libya’s new authorities on Friday, aiming to secure weapons and money for their insurgency against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, The Daily Telegraph has learned. By Ruth Sherlock, in Misurata GMT 25 Nov 2011 : At the meeting, which was held in Istanbul and included Turkish officials, the Syrians requested “assistance” from the Libyan representatives and were offered arms, and potentially volunteers. “There is something being planned to send weapons and even Libyan fighters to Syria,” said a Libyan source, speaking on condition of anonymity. “There is a military intervention on the way. Within a few weeks you will see.” The Telegraph has also learned that preliminary discussions about arms supplies took place when members of the Syrian National Council [SNC] – the country’s main opposition movement – visited Libya earlier this month. “The Libyans are offering money, training and weapons to the Syrian National Council,” added Wisam Taris, a human rights campaigner with links to the SNC…”
“Syria accuses Qatar of arming rebels : AFP : Last updated: January 18, 2012 : Syria’s state-owned media on Wednesday accused Qatar of arming and financing opponents of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Qatar’s call to send Arab troops to the country “falls within the framework of the negative role played by Qatar since the start of this crisis… through the financing of armed groups,” the Tishrin newspaper charged. The Gulf state “can help Syria get out of its crisis… by stopping its financing of armed (groups) and the trafficking of weapons” to insurgents, wrote the daily. Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Hamad Ben Khalifa al-Thani, said in an interview aired at the weekend that he backs sending Arab troops to Syria, where the regime has been trying to crush a democracy protest movement with brutal force for the past 10 months. Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi said the idea could come up for discussion at the next meeting of the pan-Arab body at its Cairo headquarters on Saturday and Sunday. The Arab bloc is expected to discuss the future of its widely criticised observer mission to Syria, where the United Nations says the regime’s crackdown on protests has cost more than 5,400 lives since March…”
“Hezbollah, Amal, Baath members are arming Syrian rebels, report : JANUARY 11, 2012 : Lebanese security sources have confirmed that “dozens of members of Shiite Hezbollah and Amal movement are involved in smuggling arms across the Syrian border to the Syrian rebels.” These elements buy the weapons in Lebanon and Libya and smuggle them to the “Free Syrian Army”, mainly to Damascus countryside and Homs. The sources pointed out that “the leaders of Hezbollah in the southern suburbs of Beirut and the Bekaa, arrested a number of these cadres and seized some of the arms shipments.” According to the sources, the smugglers use the same illegal border crossings used by Hezbollah for the past 10 years to smuggle Iranian arms from the Syrian regime. The sources noted that officers of the regime’s Syrian army have been facilitating the entry of the smuggled arms to the rebels in return bribes by the Hezbollah smugglers. Lebanese security sources revealed also that “military units loyal to the Syrian government killed over the recent period a number of smugglers trying to deliver arms to the rebels in the town of Zabadani, close to the Syrian Lebanese border. In one case near Lebanon’s northern border, a number of Hezbollah members were arrested and a truck loaded with weapons was seized. In addition, Syrian forces arrested several Syrian officers, including one colonel, who were involved in the operation.
Then there’s the report of a well-informed eye-witness :-
“Inside Syria: the rebel call for arms and ammunition : Exclusive: With Syrian rebels desperate for arms, Ghaith Abdul-Ahad finds smugglers doing a roaring trade selling guns and bullets : In his second exclusive report, Ghaith Abdul-Ahad crosses the border with the smugglers supplying weapons to Syria’s fighters : guardian.co.uk, Sunday 11 December 2011 15.11 GMT : The route across the Syrian border was marked by a single shining piece of string. It stretched from the road on the Turkish side for a few hundred metres to the steel and razor-wire fence that ran along the boundary. The smugglers followed it silently and quickly, jumping from one stone to another in the moonlight. Each man carried a thick, plastic-wrapped load on his back. The plastic bundles rattled and clinked as they ran along. Beyond the fence the shadows of men and animals moved. “Do you have money?” asked a Turkish voice. “Next shipment,” the Syrian replied. A man with a scarf wrapped around his face held the coils of barbed wire flat while the cargo was passed across and loaded on to the backs of the waiting mules. Then the men hurried the animals away from the border and up into the mountains of northern Syria. The smugglers paused on a cliff to examine the cargo. Inside the plastic packages were small boxes filled with pistols and bullets of different calibres. One of the men broke off to answer his mobile phone. It was one of several lookouts keeping watch for Syrian security forces. There was a government patrol on the mountain: the men had to split up and move quickly. “Grab the mule’s reins and run along next to it,” a smuggler hissed. In this fashion we climbed further into the mountains, playing cat and mouse with the Syrian patrol. At the edge of a small village we lay in a ditch and waited. A man whistled and a white truck appeared. It had come to collect the cargo. After eight months of vicious crackdowns by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s revolution is sliding towards civil war. Many in the opposition who have seen their friends and family members disappeared, tortured or shot by the Syrian security forces are looking for ways to fight back. The smugglers, sensing a business opportunity, have been quick to respond. In the south the weapons come from Lebanon. Here in the north, they are flowing in from Turkey and Iraq. “We used to smuggle cigarettes coming from Lebanon via Syria,” a portly man told me the night before in Turkey as he channel-hopped between Egyptian chatshows. Since the Syrian uprising began new business opportunities had opened up. “Now we only do weapons,” he said. “Three shipments per day.”
The group Stratfor claims that the United States of America has been arming the Syrian rebels :-
“21 December 2011 : Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, a former Reagan administration official, told RT he believes Washington is doing more than simply backing the rebels diplomatically. “The United States is bold in stirring up the opposition and in arming it. They used the cover of the Arab Spring and Arab protests as they did in Libya,” he said. “These are not spontaneous protests, and certainly in an authoritarian state like Syria you wouldn’t find people in opposition able to readily supply themselves with arms, with military weapons.”…”
What seems most likely is that several groups and countries outside Syria are arming both/all sides in the country’s conflict.
So why is David Cameron singling out Iran ?
Maybe it has to do with the reputation of countries, carefully constructed in the media for us over the course of decades. Russia is a superpower. The United States of America is a superpoewr. Iran is just an undeveloped minnow. Yet we have been taught to fear Iran. And Iran is under propaganda onslaught currently. So it’s Iran that becomes the “lupus in fabulam” – the wolf in the story.
The tension between Iran and the Western Axis of Arrogance may be deflating a little – but you will see the pressure growing on the United Nations Security Council to declare that the Opthalmologist from Neasden is virtually the Devil incarnate, and that Syria needs some kind of violent aggression from NATO, or something.