Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, he is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. For over 20 years he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organizations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. Now a freelance journalist based in East Africa, his columns appear on RT, Sputnik, Strategic Culture Foundation and Press TV.
2015 was the year Russia exposed the barbaric nature of Western powers, from their criminal conspiracy for regime change in Syria, to aggression against Yemen, Iran, Russia, China and any country that does not toe the line.
It is a thread we can find in many other stories, many of which were covered by Western media. The difference is the latter media omit or lose the all-important thread of how Western powers have created or exacerbated major, pressing international problems.
Crisis made by the EU
Take the European Union’s immigration crisis. Up to one million refugees have been recorded entering EU borders this year, according to the United Nations. Thousands perished while crossing the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas on rickety boats to reach the shores of Italy or Greece. EU nations held several top-level summits on the emergency, but no collective response was forthcoming, leading to much recrimination between the 28-member states. Countries such as Britain and France were accused of not doing enough to take in refugees, while “front line” states Greece, Hungary, Croatia and Slovenia complain they are being overwhelmed by the influx.
Internal EU tensions have threatened to unravel the founding principles of the bloc, such as the free movement of citizens under the Schengen Agreement. Germany, under Chancellor Angela Merkel, has emerged as the most generous of EU states, taking in the largest numbers of asylum seekers. However, Merkel’s ruling Christian Democrat party has incurred a backlash from anti-immigrant groups. Elsewhere Europe has seen the rise of right-wing, anti-immigrant and anti-EU political parties, from the National Front in France to the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) in Britain. Similar gains for ultra-nationalists have been made in Denmark, the Netherlands and Belgium.
The bitter irony of the EU immigration crisis and its pressure on the foundations of the bloc is that most of the would-be immigrants have come from war-torn Syria. As astute observers – published by RT and other alternative media, but censored out of the Western media – have noted, the conflict in Syria precipitating the refugee crisis has come about from unlawful interference in the Arab country by the EU. Britain and France have given military support to an insurgency against the elected government of President Bashar al-Assad, along with support from the US and its regional allies, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Heresy of truth: Terrorist blowback
Most of the insurgent groups in Syria are in fact comprised of foreign mercenaries espousing radical Islamist ideologies, associated with internationally designated terrorist groups, such as Al-Qaeda and the so-called Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL). The latter claimed the massacre in Paris on November 13, when some 130 people were killed in gun and bomb attacks. But to say “blowback” in the Western media is tantamount to outrageous thought-crime. It is verboten.
The EU has previously sanctioned the Syrian government, saying it is responsible for the violence in the country. In 2014, Brussels aided the insurgency by lifting an embargo on oil exports from Syrian areas under the control of anti-government militants, whose dominant faction is the IS terror group. Thus, in a very real way, the EU has fueled the conflict in Syria by aiding and abetting illegally armed militants, which has boomeranged into the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War – a crisis that is straining the very existence of the EU.
Russia’s game changer
Russia’s military intervention in the Syrian conflict in support of its long-time ally beginning on September 30 has transformed the dynamic. Russia’s intervention, along with that of Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement, is the only lawful foreign contingency in the five-year-old war, because it has been requested and approved by the Syrian government.
All other foreign interventions in Syria from the United States and EU members, Britain, France and Germany, are in violation of international law. Russia’s intense aerial bombardment against all illegally armed militants, including the IS and Al Nusra Front, is not encumbered with the false dichotomy articulated by the US-led military coalition, which disingenuously divides militants into extremists and moderates. In three months of Russian aerial operations, the losses suffered by anti-government militants in Syria have been much greater than during 16 months of bombing by the US-led coalition. That is because Russia is working in close liaison with the Syrian Arab Army, which is now making sweeping ground advances. Also, the US and its allies are accused of not being fully committed to combating terrorist groups in Syria, because these militants are at the same time being used by Washington and its partners as proxy forces to illegally achieve regime change in Syria.
The US, Britain and France have reportedly supplied weapons to so-called “moderate rebels” only for these weapons and indeed fighters to end up with the known extremist brigades of IS and Al Nusra. Saudi Arabia and Qatar have also funded Islamist networks, such as Jaish al Fatah and Ahrar al Shams, which are known to be involved with IS and Al Nusra.
Oil smugglers are us
Russia’s dramatic intervention in Syria has exposed what can only be described as a charade in which the US, European powers and their regional allies have been involved in trying to destroy a sovereign country through covertly supporting an array of illegally armed mercenary networks.
A central part of the charade is how NATO member and EU aspirant Turkey has been involved in smuggling oil and weapons across the Syrian border. Russia’s concerted airstrikes have exposed the Turkish connection to the Western-backed illegal regime-change operation in Syria, and no doubt that was a factor in why Turkish fighter jets shot down a Russian warplane on November 24.
Trump and the American descent into fascism
There were several other significant developments this year. The emergence of billionaire property magnate Donald Trump as US presidential contender marks the full outward degeneration of American politics, whereby demagoguery, racism and fascism have entered into mainstream public discourse. This is while US police violence against African-Americans and other minorities reaches epidemic proportions; and federal state powers of surveillance and arrest continued to erode civil rights.
US-backed aggression in Yemen
A foreign war of aggression on Yemen by a US-backed military coalition of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states demonstrated a descent into lawlessness, where the United Nations appears more impotent than ever to uphold international law. Thousands of Yemeni civilians have been slaughtered by US-supported bombardment on residential areas lasting nine months and counting, yet Western media have largely overlooked those crimes, focusing instead on allegations of violations against civilians by Russian warplanes in Syria.
Nuclear deal with Iran… based on fake allegations
The conclusion in July of the P5+1 nuclear deal between Iran and the world powers was hailed as a triumph of diplomacy by US President Barack Obama. Of lesser note in the Western media was the decision by the UN nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, to terminate its 10-year investigation into alleged Iranian nuclear weapons development. The IAEA said it had concluded there was no evidence of any Iranian activity to build a nuclear bomb. That means 10 years of Western claims against Iran have been trumped-up and the rationale for crippling Western-imposed economic sanctions on Iran is likewise null and void. So when are Washington and its European allies going to compensate Iran with billions of dollars for damage inflicted for no legal reason on its economy and nation’s health?
US provocation towards China
With so much apparently going in the news, the tensions between the US and China have probably not received the attention deserved. Nevertheless, these tensions are truly alarming. The US has made several provocative military intrusions on China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, the latest one being a B-52 bomber that “accidentally” made a flyover. It is noteworthy that the US aggression came only weeks and months after China’s President Xi Jinping made his first-ever state visit to the US earlier this year. President Obama may say the US welcomes “the peaceful rise of China”. But all the indications are that the US is doing everything to antagonize Beijing and to thwart its perceived global power status.
This year, the US Pentagon nominated China and Russia as primary “national security threats”. This is while the US ratchets up gratuitous tensions with both countries in the South China Sea and through NATO expansion around Russian territory. NATO’s enlisting of former Soviet country Montenegro in the Balkans as its newest member is further testimony to the relentless expansion of the US-led military alliance since the end of the Cold War nearly 25 years ago – in flagrant contradiction of past agreements with Moscow not to let NATO encroach on Russian interests.
Putin speaks truth to power
Yet the year ends with the US and its European allies slapping more economic sanctions on Russia over alleged infringements in Ukraine, when conflict in the latter country is clearly, and provably, a result of the kind of Western interference that Putin highlighted at the UN.
Putin made a seminal speech at the UN General Assembly in September when he clearly called out rogue powers who have trashed international law with illegal military, political and economic interventions overseas. The deterioration of legal standards, sovereignty and explosion of conflicts and terrorism in many parts of the world can be directly attributed to the machinations of the United States and its European partners. “Do you see now what you have done?” asked Putin before the UN.
70 years on, Russia still leads the battle against barbarism
The year 2015 marked the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, when Nazism and European fascism was defeated mainly through the military might and sacrifices of the Soviet Union. Notably – and appropriately in a profoundly true sense – the commemorations held in Moscow to mark that epic victory against fascism were not attended by the political leaders from the US, Britain, France and other European countries, owing to their alleged disputes with Russia over Ukraine.