RUSSIA’S MOTIVES IN SYRIA: Another Side of the Story

Moscow's 30-year struggle against encroachment into its sphere of influence by militant Islam

By Joe Lauria

motivesRussia's unyielding support for Damascus throughout the 16 months of Syria's escalating crisis has earned Moscow strong condemnation from Washington and other Western governments, but the reasons for Russia's implacable position have never been fully explained by Moscow or its critics. 

Washington's latest tension with Russia over Syria came last week in a face-to-face meeting between President Obama and President Putin. The week before U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Russia's assertion that it sold only defensive weapons to Damascus “patently untrue.” That was after Clinton had accused Russia of shipping attack helicopters to Syria to crush the rebellion, a charge denied by Moscow.  The New York Times then reported that Russia was only returning repaired helicopters sold to Syria decades ago.

In February, Susan Rice, the top U.S. diplomat at the U.N., used undiplomatically strong language to say the U.S. was “disgusted” by Russia's veto of a Security Council resolution that would have condemned the Syrian crackdown. The tough talk appears designed to embarrass Russia, especially after the recent upsurge in fighting and a string of grisly massacres blamed on Moscow's client.

But until now Russia's motives for defending Damascus have remained largely a subject of speculation, with the U.S. media seemingly disinterested in exploring it.

Russian officials say their position is based on an adamant opposition to regime change, particularly if it is led by Western military intervention, as in Libya. Moscow's support for the Syrian regime has not changed though it has recently inched away from President Bashar Al-Assad leading it. [Read more...]

Additional Omitted Points in CIA-Gulen coverage & A Note from ‘The Insider’

Crucial Details Missing in the MSM Coverage of the Recent Intel Chief’s Exposé

gulenLast week I wrote about the Washington Post’s incomplete and one-sided coverage of the recently published memoir by former Turkish Intelligence Chief Osman Nuri Gundes exposing CIA Operations via an Islamic Group in Central Asia. Since then I have gone over the same book’s review and coverage by the Turkish mainstream media, and I have interviewed reporters and sources in Turkey who have read the book, followed the coverage, and or are intimately familiar with the topic. With that I now have several additional points on this exposé which further illustrate the journalistically mind-boggling piece marketed by the Post. Writing my previous piece cost me an associate whom I like and respect. It shouldn’t have. I still believe this was a case of institution-Government-editors vs. the journalist, with the former winning. I am not going to weigh my writing, modify my facts, alter the truth, tweak, and censor based on worries of losing a source, or a friend, or even readership. With that said I’ll briefly list my points gathered from documented facts and interviews, and sources familiar with Gundes’ recent book and Gulen.
 
Extensive Coverage in the Turkish Mainstream Media

As one might expect, the Turkish mainstream media (all major newspapers, magazines, radio & TV channels) extensively (and very intensely) covered the recent publication of Gundes’ book. The following are the main points on former Turkish Intel Chief Gundes’ CIA-Gulen allegations which were documented and reported by every single media outlet in Turkey (since mid December), including this one written by one of the most prominent journalists at Milliyet:
 
1-     In Central Asia, within Gulen’s Islamic schools, the CIA operatives worked under the guise of ‘American Teachers teaching English.’

Okay, the Washington Post article, going through the exact same publications/articles forgot to add these crucial details, which would have paved the way for journalistic investigation(s) leading to either confirmation or denial. The following is the only detail the article provided:

In the 1990s, Gundes alleges, the movement "sheltered 130 CIA agents" at its schools in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan alone

In this case, as others had done already, the existence of mysterious American teachers teaching English in Gulen’s schools in Central Asia has already been confirmed.

2-     The American Teachers working at Gulen’s Islamic Schools in Central Asia possessed US Diplomatic Passports.

I contacted my source, formerly with the State Department, and he confirmed issuing diplomatic status for at least 50 Americans to teach in former Soviet republics. When I asked him whether they were employed by the State Department, he said: ‘Not officially.’ I asked him whether they were connected to the CIA, and he responded, ‘I wouldn’t know.’ I inquired about the direct foreign employer(s) of these American teachers, and this was his response: ‘Private Turkish companies in education fields and several NGOs in Turkey.’ This particular source was retired in 2004. [Read more...]