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Conspiracy vultures descend on Paris

Well, we knew it was inevitable. And sure enough, the baseless and irreposnsible "false flag" theorizing about the Paris attacks is upon us. Sadly, the first entry is from the official Palestinian Authority  daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida. This of course affords the Times of Israel and the right-wing Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) plenty of opportunity for gloating. The op-ed makes all the predictable noises: "The wise and correct thing is to look for who benefits... They need to search the last place reached by the octopus arms of the Mossad... It is clear that its 'Mossad' will burn Beirut and Paris in order to achieve Netanyahu's goals..." No evidence is offered, and the only stab at a motive is the fact that Europe is now moving to impose sanctions on "Israeli" imports in fact produced in the occupied West Bank. For good measure, it also blames "Israeli security services" for the bombing of a Russian airliner over the Sinai last month. 

CAMERA states that "the world should be outraged" over this op-ed, and rhetorically asks: "Where's the coverage?" Unforunately, they have a point. We'll say it again: Unless progressives who stand in solidarity with the Palestinians vocally reject this conspiracy-mongering, we cede the issue to the likes of CAMERA and the Times of Israel to exploit. Which is a very bad tactical error, if nothing else.

And unfortunately, some conspiranoia is also coming from an unexpected direction. The Linux Beach blog has doggedly covered the Syrian war from a refreshing presepctive of support for the pro-democratic forces, and relentlessly called out the disgusting pseudo-left apologias for the Bashar Assad regime. We have favorably cited it again and again and again. But now we fear that Linux Beach blogger Clay Claiborne may have shot himself in the foot. His latest commentary is dubbed "Qui profite? Who benefits from the Paris attacks?" This perfectly echoes the baseless conspiranoia from Ramallah—except that for Claiborne, the hidden hand at work here is not Israel but Assad.

He does make some good points. He calls out once again the unlikely pro-Assad alliance that is emerging between the paleocons and elements of the "left"—in this case, the oft-problemtic Vijay Prashad:

This morning both former CIA deputy director Micheal Morrell, representing US imperialism on CBS This Morning and Vijay Prashad, representing the Imperial Left on Democracy Now, used the Paris attacks to argue that the US should support and work with the Assad regime to defeat Daesh [ISIS]. This is also an argument being advanced by the Russians and Assad himself.

Claiborne goes on to make the point that the Assad regime has directly abetted the rise of ISIS by buying their oil, and notes the speculation within Syria that the regime has carried out "false-flag attacks" to discredit the rebels as bloodthirsty jihadists. There may be something to that theory, but clearly ISIS is not a mere regime charade: it is all too real. Even if, as Claiborne asserts, Assad-ISIS collaboration continues, this thesis undercuts his own hypothesis for an Assad motive in the attack: to rally Western forces against ISIS.

Claiborne does conclude: 

So there you have it. It would seem that Bashar al-Assad had both the motive, means and opportunity to be behind the Paris terror attacks. I'm not saying that Assad did it. I haven't seem anything like direct evidence of his complicity. I'm just saying that he should be a suspect and I have yet to hear him mentioned as one, so I thought I'd write this blog post.

Sorry, Clay. The presmued motive doesn't quite add up, and in the absense of "direct evidence," this is baseless conspiranoia—ironically, of precisely the kind that Claiborne himselfastutely called out when pseudo-left conspiracy-mongers tried to pin the blame for the Ghouta chemical attack on the rebels.

Deal with it, folks. All evidence suggests that Assad was behind the Ghouta attack, and ISIS was behind the Paris attack. And Israel (which certainly does not lack for atrocious crimes to answer for) was behind neither.