Nine years ago, the award-winning investigative journalist warned that U.S. support for extremists in Syria would lead to destabilization and civil war in the region.
MINNEAPOLIS — The Syrian civil war has created chaos throughout the Middle East, given rise to an unprecedented refugee crisis, and helped fuel terrorism internationally.
Award-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh predicted many of these events nine years ago in a detailed report for The New Yorker and warned that the United States and its allies in Israel and Saudi Arabia were helping to foment the unrest. Hersh began:
“In the past few months, as the situation in Iraq has deteriorated, the Bush Administration, in both its public diplomacy and its covert operations, has significantly shifted its Middle East strategy. The ‘redirection,’ as some inside the White House have called the new strategy, has brought the United States closer to an open confrontation with Iran and, in parts of the region, propelled it into a widening sectarian conflict between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.”
During the final days of the George W. Bush administration, Hersh reported that the Pentagon increasingly blamed Iran and Hezbollah, a Lebanese resistance force supported by Iran, for the destabilization in Iraq caused by the U.S.-led invasion and war.
“To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East,” Hersh continued.
He reported that the U.S. and its allies in Saudi Arabia began supporting Sunni-led extremist forces in Syria, despite the fact that these rebel groups had ties to al-Qaida, the terrorist network responsible for attacks elsewhere in the region and the 9/11 attacks in the U.S. Hersh wrote:
“The Saudi royal family has been, by turns, both a sponsor and a target of Sunni extremists, who object to the corruption and decadence among the family’s myriad princes. The princes are gambling that they will not be overthrown as long as they continue to support religious schools and charities linked to the extremists. The Administration’s new strategy is heavily dependent on this bargain.”
The Bush administration’s Middle East maneuvering also brought another key ally into closer diplomatic relations with the Gulf kingdom:
“The policy shift has brought Saudi Arabia and Israel into a new strategic embrace, largely because both countries see Iran as an existential threat. They have been involved in direct talks, and the Saudis, who believe that greater stability in Israel and Palestine will give Iran less leverage in the region, have become more involved in Arab-Israeli negotiations.”
WikiLeaks’ archive of diplomatic cables confirms much of Hersh’s reporting, including Saudi Arabia’s function as a key source of funding for Sunni terrorists and Israeli and U.S. plans for regime change in Syria through support of extremist rebels, which date back to at least 2006.
The alliance between the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and Israel has more to do with attempts to control the region’s vast energy resources than religious differences or any perceived threat posed by Iran or Syria, according to a September analysis by Mnar Muhawesh, founder and editor-in-chief of MintPress News. Muhawesh wrote:
“The true agenda to hijack Syria’s revolt quickly became evident, with talking heads inserting Syria’s alliance with Iran as a threat to the security and interests of the United States and its allies in the region. It’s no secret that Syria’s government is a major arms, oil and gas, and weapons ally of Iran and Lebanon’s resistance political group Hezbollah.”
President Barack Obama has largely continued Bush’s agenda in the region.
In his 2007 report, Hersh interviewed Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary general of Hezbollah, who suggested the United States’ true goal was to radically change the balance of power in the Middle East. What Nasrallah said nearly a decade ago offers a remarkably accurate description of the state of the region today:
“Nasrallah said he believed that President Bush’s goal was ‘the drawing of a new map for the region. They want the partition of Iraq. Iraq is not on the edge of a civil war—there is a civil war. There is ethnic and sectarian cleansing. The daily killing and displacement which is taking place in Iraq aims at achieving three Iraqi parts, which will be sectarian and ethnically pure as a prelude to the partition of Iraq. Within one or two years at the most, there will be total Sunni areas, total Shiite areas, and total Kurdish areas. Even in Baghdad, there is a fear that it might be divided into two areas, one Sunni and one Shiite.’”
Although Hersh won the Pulitzer Prize in 1969 for his reporting on the 1968 My Lai Massacre, in which American soldiers murdered hundreds of of Vietnamese civilians, his more recent work — including accusations that American soldiers raped boys in front of their mothers in Iraq and an investigation into the real circumstances of Osama bin Laden’s death — often draws criticism from the mainstream media.
Hersh, in turn, has criticized the mainstream media for trading “their integrity for access” to government officials.
“I still read the newspapers and scream every morning,” he told Jared Malsin, of the Columbia Journalism Review, last year. “I screamed at The New York Times this morning.”
Watch “Full Show 4/26/16: Seymour Hersh Exposes the Truth About Obama’s War on Terror” from The Big Picture RT: