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Program Information
Takes on the World
Robert Fisk, Independent of London, dean of ME correspondents
 Jeff Blankfort  Contact Contributor
June 13, 2018, 1:44 p.m.

In a wide ranging interview, beginning with his correcting my introduction as his having quit the Times of London after it had been purchased my Rupert Murdoch—he quit and went to the Independent when the Times refused to publish his report on the US Navy shooting down of an Iranian passenger plane in 1988 with 288 civilians on board—Fisk declares as “rubbish” the Western media's portrayal of Iran as “the leading state sponsor of terrorism” and that it now controls both Syria and Lebanon as well as vastly overstating the number of Iranian soldiers in Syria. Traveling all over the country, he speculates there are no more than 3,000.

In fact, he suggests readers should be skeptical about all the numbers of casualties coming from that war as well as the videos supplied by the White Helmets, funded by the British Foreign Office, he notes, who embedded with “rebels” such as al-Nusra (al-Qaeda), who have their permits stamped by al-Nusra, and have been inaccessible to foreign media while limiting its communications to social media (of which Fisk does not seem to hold in much regard).
He speaks of an Al-Jazeera review of scores of the White Helmet’s videos which revealed that many were taken at different locations and not even in the same year. He does not say that all are fraudulent but like the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which, he points out, is one man based in Coventry, UK, everything they put out should be taken with a grain of salt.

Initially, in reply to my suggestion that the Trump-Kim Jong-Un summit may be a sideshow to overlook plans to attack Iran, Fisk acknowledges that a colleague had the same thought.

Fisk notes that as Trump is considered “crackers” in the region, Putin, “a man for all seasons,” has become the most important figure and has established good relationships with every country in the region, including some who are t arch enemies of one another. In Syria, Russians are everywhere as are portraits of Putin and the Russians have even put out a newspaper for both Russian and Syrian armies with the Syrians learning Russian. Many Russian soldiers there speak Arabic says Fisk.

He notes that Putin is seriously concerned about the threat to Russia of Islamic extremist groups, pointing out that Damascus is due south of Chechnya where Putin earlier waged a brutal war against Muslim rebels.

In recounting his visit to Dhouma where he found no one affirming the alleged gas attack by Syria and spoke with a doctor who offered a very different source for the deaths there, he mentions how earlier in the war, Turkey allowed Daesh (ISIS) to bring chemical weapons into Syria and that the two reporters who wrote about that are still in Erdogan’s prison. He doesn’t say that Syria may not have used chemical weapons in the war because it did have them, but, for example, he says, the alleged chemical weapons research center in Damascus which was destroyed by US cruise missiles whose ruins he visited revealed no evidence of anything but research on projects designed to benefit the Syrian public.

What he stresses in the interview is to always ask, “Is there another side to the story?”

Interviewed by Jeff Blankfort

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00:24:20 1 June 13, 2018
KZYX Studios Philo CA
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