Syrian blame game: Russia demonized as terrorists get free pass

Catherine Shakdam
Catherine Shakdam is a political analyst, writer and commentator for the Middle East with a special focus on radical movements and Yemen. A regular pundit on RT and other networks her work has appeared in major publications: MintPress, the Foreign Policy Journal, Mehr News and many others.Director of Programs at the Shafaqna Institute for Middle Eastern Studies, Catherine is also the co-founder of Veritas Consulting. She is the author of Arabia’s Rising - Under The Banner Of The First Imam
People gather around the rubble of a hospital supported by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) near Maaret al-Numan, in Syria's northern province of Idlib, on February 15, 2016. © Ghaith Omran / Al-Maarra Today
How deliciously convenient that at the height of the Syrian Army’s advances against extremist groups in the north, Russia stands accused of foul play against Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF).

In the face of Western powers’ ineptitude to discern heads from tails in the Middle East, their complicit echo chambers – aka, the media - have been happily indulging in a healthy dose of fiction against the very forces that have managed to stem terror’s tide into Syria.

The forever righteous Fox News hit the ground running with a damning news story that condemns Moscow as a hardened criminal of war, a grand abuser of nations. It writes, “Russian warplanes are being blamed for carrying out what is being called a "deliberate attack" on two makeshift hospitals and a school in northern Syria Monday that killed nearly 50 people, according to the United Nations.”

Quoting Massimiliano Rebaudengo, MSF's mission chief Fox News then aimed to carry the coup de grace, driving home the idea that Russia should not be allowed to carry out such vengeful bloodletting against unsuspecting civilian populations.

"This appears to be a deliberate attack on a health structure, and we condemn this attack in the strongest possible terms … The destruction of the hospital leaves the local population of around 40,000 people without access to medical services in an active zone of conflict."

READ MORE: Syria hospital & school attacks kill dozens, ‘cast shadow’ on peace commitment – UN

Am I reading this right? How despicable and high on your own self-righteousness must one be to exploit civilian deaths and humanitarian tears as a political propaganda tool.

Or maybe it’s sheer desperation… Could it be that Western powers’ grand Middle Eastern military folly has hit a brick wall in the form of Syria’s resistance movement?

Could it be that Russia’s support and backing against terror outfits in the Levant is proving so effective that certain players are sitting uncomfortably as they watch their pawns… and financial interests melt under Arabia’s sun? That would be crazy, right?

As crazy, for example, as to allege that Turkish President Recep Erdogan has aided and abetted terror radicals to better award himself a neo-Ottoman Empire, while amassing a fortune worthy of a king. Funny how factual proofs of wrongdoings pale in comparison to fantasy allegations.

Funny again how swiftly and timely the United Nations proved to be in its moral smiting of Russia in comparison to the brutal silence Russia was offered in late 2015 when it demonstrated Turkey’s connections to terror's army.

Where was the corporate media outrage then? Where was Fox News’ shining armor then?

But Western powers’ selective grand-standing is only half of the problem here. Russia had absolutely nothing to do with this air strike, and no evidence has been put forward to the contrary. For all its accusations, the UN has not produced a single proof of Russia’s culpability. In the light of such animosity against Moscow, I’d like to think that if a line had been indeed crossed, Western politicians would be already waving that red flag with a vengeance.

In fact, it should be the US as opposed to Russia that should suffer Fox News’ ire.

In an interview to Rossiya 24 on Tuesday, Syrian Ambassador Riad Haddad noted: “Concerning the hospital which was destroyed, in actual fact it was destroyed by the American Air Force. The Russian Air Force has nothing to do with it.”

Naturally, some may argue that Syria is understandably covering for its main military ally, such thinking ignores cold, hard facts.

Turkey, in the person of its prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, has claimed that Russia fired a ballistic missile at the MSF medical facility in Idlib - north-western Syria.

However, Russia does not have ships in the Caspian Sea that can fire ballistic missiles. Those are not my words, but those of the Russian Ministry of Defense.

Kurdish people carry flags and flash victory signs as they take part in a protest in the city of al-Derbasiyah, on the Syrian-Turkish border, against what the protesters said were the operations launched in Turkey by government security forces against the Kurds, February 9, 2016. © Rodi Said

Certainly, Turkey, Fox News, and the whole Western propaganda complex know that. They know it very well indeed since they’re the ones who weaved this narrative in the first place. But why? This is where things get really interesting.

One answer would be so that you stay distracted while Ankara plays lets-carve-up-Syria-down-to-size game.

Remember the Kurds? Remember those Kurdish militias that proved so mightily potent and driven in their fight against Islamic State (IS or Daesh, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in both Syria and Iraq? Well, Turkey has been actively cutting them down to better offer the terrorists a chance to strike back – notwithstanding Ankara’s long standing ambition to “cleanse” its land from all and any Kurdish presence.

Idlib - the buffer zone President Erdogan has plotted over for the past years - represents too much of a geostrategic jewel for Ankara to just give it up to the Syrians. 

Losing Idlib would mean losing a precious gateway into northern Syria; losing Idlib would mean the likes of Islamic State and Al-Nusra would lose precious ground access to vital supplies – notwithstanding, of course, the loss the black-market industry would suffer with the closing of one of its arteries.

And then of course there is this little thing called Kurdistan, Turkish ambitions to destroy it, and to never see it rise again.

In July 2015, long before there ever was a strike against any MSF facility, Erdogan swore he would never “tolerate” the Kurds establishing a terror-free zone so close to his borders.

“We will never allow a state to be established in northern Syria and in the south of our country. No matter what the cost, we will continue our struggle in this regard,” he said.

Clearly, this is a massive act, a propaganda exercise, aimed at pulling yet another blanket over our eyes, while forcing Russia to waste both energy and resources washing itself from the sins of others.

Can we please go back to fighting the real criminals of this story? Or is that no longer part of the agenda


The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.