The Daily Star Of Lebanon is alleging that during Senator John McCain’s recent visit with Syrian rebels in the country he was greeted by sectarian kidnappers of 11 Lebanese Shiite pilgrims who have yet to be released, and even posed for photographs with them:
Members of the group, the Asifat al-Shamal Brigade, or Northern Storm Brigade, is reported to be the militia group responsible for facilitating border crossings into Syria from Turkey, under the umbrella of the “Free Syrian Army,”and is also the group Lebanese reports claim were responsible for the kidnappings at the border last year.
But in the fog of a regional war, wars by proxy, civil and sectarian war– the competing propaganda, like knowing which militants we should be arming indiscriminately, can be confusing.
For instance, The Daily Beast is basically reporting that The Daily Star is lying because they are sympathetic to Hezbollah, and that The Daily Star falsely identified the men in question, asserting:
Northern Storm has been implicated in the alleged kidnapping of 11 Lebanese Shia men who were traveling through Syria on the way back from Iran. Relatives of the abducted men were said to have identified the two as the kidnappers from a photo of the McCain visit. Yet they identified the man in the photo as Abu Ibrahim, who has been listed as missing and presumed dead.
Actually, what The Daily Star reported was:
Two of the hostages were released in August and September but intense negotiations are still underway for the remaining nine, believed to be in the custody of the “Northern Storm” brigade, headed at the time by rebel commander Ammar Al-Dadikhi, aka Abu Ibrahim. Dadikhi was widely believed killed in fighting with Syrian regime forces several months ago.
The Daily Star isn’t claiming that one of the men in the photo is Abu Ibrahim.
This is important because The Daily Beast, in their “debunking” article, bragged about their exclusive coverage of John McCain’s visit with Syrian rebels like the too-cool-for-you crowd in the school lunch room, insinuating some bias, for sure, but to produce an article with such an obvious flaw in defense of John McCain palling around with alleged sectarian kidnappers is, to put it kindly, lazy reporting at best– especially considering this is coming up at a time when John McCain was in Syria trying find some rebels to arm with heavy weaponry and U.S. air support.
The UN just voted to lift the embargo on arms to Syrian rebels. And the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs just voted 15-3 to provide weapons to Syrian rebels fighting in the region.
Needless to say, arming Syrian rebels would be a huge step in U.S. foreign policy under the Obama administration, which, contrary to right wing conspiracy theorists, was not funneling weapons to Syria through Benghazi, and there is considerable pressure for the Obama administration to act. The Obama administration has asserted throughout that we don’t know enough about the many factions of Syrian rebels to start arming them to the teeth with heavy weaponry, and, apparently, neither does John McCain.
But that’s not a debunking by The Beast. That’s bullshit reporting, bordering on pro-war propaganda.
We’re on the verge of making some serious decisions in foreign policy, and arming rebels and freedom fighters is something Republicans have done very well, but with botched results and criminal implications over the past 33 years. In 2008, John McCain declared that we, Americans– “We’re all Georgians today!” and wanted to start a proxy war with Russia to prove it. Republicans have armed everyone from Bin Laden and the Mujihadeen to the Contras in Nicaragua to Saddam Hussein against Iran to right wing Americans fighting the tyranny of a lost election here at home– all with terrible results. This is an area where John McCain should have stayed out, and you have to wonder if the Obama administration seen something like this coming. “Please proceed, Senator.”
Sen. McCain’s spokesman Brian Rogers said of the “crossing of paths”:
“A number of the Syrians who greeted Sen. McCain upon his arrival in Syria asked to take pictures with him, and as always, the senator complied. If the individual photographed with Sen. McCain is in fact Mohamed Nour, that is regrettable,” said spokesman Brian Rogers in an email.
“But it would be ludicrous to suggest that the senator in any way condones the kidnapping of Lebanese Shia pilgrims or has any communication with those responsible. Sen. McCain condemns such heinous actions in the strongest possible terms.”
Yes, that would be ludicrous to suggest a U.S. Senator posing with sectarian kidnappers anyway condones kidnapping. And yeah, it would be regrettable if they actually cared.
John McCain said after his visit, ”I’m confident that they could get the weapons into the right hands and there’s no doubt that they need some kind of capability to reverse the battlefield situation, which right now is in favor of Assad.”
On CNN with Anderson Cooper, Sen. John McCain, ever the expert on good character, stated, ”We can identify who these people are. We can help the right people.”
This assessment is coming from the guy who thought Sarah Palin would make a fine Vice President of The Free World.
Beware the propaganda. The pressure to carpet bomb Syrian targets and to start funneling weapons to militants is being led by warmongering politicians and their friendlies in the U.S. media who don’t seem to know, or care, whether or not we get it right.