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The Six Most Common Middle East Conspiracy Theories


The Six Most Common Middle East Conspiracy Theories

Reese Erlich

I speak about the Middle East to people of various political persuasions around the US, from leftist college students to conservatives on AM radio talk shows. Most Americans are wary of further US military intervention in the region and ask intelligent questions about this very complicated topic. But I inevitably run into people advocating conspiracy theories—from both the left and right.

Conspiracy theories, although seemingly quite radical and anti-government, actually divert attention from the very real evils that exist in the region.


While some of the authors statements may have some ring of truth to them, Reese Erlich Loses All Credibility when he references the laughably unscientific analysis performed by Popular Mechanics Magazine about 9/11. That self-serving hit job was discredited by real scientists and engineers long ago. Citing that magazine as a source puts in question everything else he has said.


1. The US created the Islamic State

Agreed. But, the US's actions created the conditions, the mindset, the turmoil which brought about the Islamic State. It needs to own up to this. Of course, it won't.

4. Iran is the number one state sponsor of terrorism in the world.

Yeah, whenever I hear this, I alternate between laughing and cursing the pols saying this, who so obviously lie to the public. Does anyone really believe this?

Many people around the world would/could say that the USA is the biggest sponsor, instigator, and cause of terror(-ism) in the world. The last century bears this out.

Effort by Mr. Erlich would be better used by trying to convince the US government to stop screwing around with other peoples' democratic desires and decisions. Yes, one can always dream, eh.


Why not add to this piece.

The US was behind the Coup of the democratically elected President of iran in 1953.

The US was behind the Coup of Allende in Chile.

The US was behind the Coup of Arbenz in Guatamala ,

List those as "conspiracy theories" in the same vien and claim they never happened.

This puerile crap is in the same vien.


Can't forget Honduras.


Unfortunately if I listed those examples n their totality I would go over the word limit several times over :slight_smile:

  1. The Syria uprising was not a popular movement but instead was instigated by the US in order to remove the anti-imperialist Assad.

This myth may not be invalid in relation to Ukraine's EuroMaidan Square coup but in regards to Syria, the origins of the resistance was definitely a popular, albeit by no means a unanimous opposition to the Assad regime which always had a strong core of support

The situation in Syria began with peaceful demonstrations for democratic reform. Even Syria now admits that the revolution began with legitimate, non-violent demands for much-needed reforms. But the struggle devolved into a violence that brought the country to a full-blown civil war.

The non-violent movements that gathered momentum early on became side-lined by the Free Syrian Army. The Syrian regime's bloody crackdown on dissent pushed many Syrian protesters into an armed uprising and call for foreign military intervention. The FSA began as a collection of soldiers who refused to fire on peacefully protesting civilians, who then left the army and began to form militias aimed at protecting these demonstrators. Soon, this purely defensive function gave way to raids and ambushes of government troops, thereby fuelling the regime's claims that protesters are not peaceful, and that they cannot be dealt with peacefully. The armed opposition helped Assad gain the upper hand by justifying the government's battle against so-called terrorists. Unfortunately, developments did lead to the formation of self-appointed leaders from various exile organisations setting up a Syrian National Council, seeking support from such outside parties as "the Friends of Syria" (whose promotion of “regime change” is done solely for strategic and economic reasons and has nothing to do with democracy whatsoever.) We witnessed the birth of the Free Syrian Army, financed, armed and trained by Saudi Arabia and Qatar as well as various Western powers, including Britain and France who have no recriminations whatsoever about there earlier instigation of civil war in Libya.

There was then a growth in the Muslim Brotherhood influence, creating a religious sectarianism division within Syria. Now the ranks of the FSA are full of Islamic Jihadists and paid mercenaries of Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

We witnessed how the militarisation of the Syrian protests lessened the democratic nature of the opposition by placing the power into the hands of the armed exile groups who have ended up serving the interests of rival nations because it is they who arms them, rather than expressing the genuine will of the Syrian people.


I think it worth pointing out just exactly how the USA uses these peaceful protests to advance their own agenda, a point which Mr Erlich skirts around in order to advance this disingenuous piece.

In Iran, In Chile, In Greece, In Venezuela in Indonesia there were legitimate protests against the Governments. All countries have protests against their Governments. Staring with Kermit Roosevelt in Iran , the CIA used these protests to infiltrate their own more violent agents so as to promote regime change.

They used this template in country after country after that to promote coups and regime change.

To Libya a Parliamentary Committee in the UK concluded that as soon as those first Libyan protests occurred, the French, British and US Intelligence agencies were in on the ground to infiltrate the same with more violent actors. They were providing these people with arms and training.

That there numbers of these protestors with legitimate grievances and that were not aware of the role of those foreign intelligence agencies hardly means that the US was not using them and fueling them to force regime change.


I am reminded of the little propaganda comic books that the John Birch Society used to circulate and we would all laugh at. I wish now that I had kept some of those.
They depicted the student protestors as dupes of Communist agents who would take over once the students reached their aim of stopping the Vietnam War.
It is ironic that the comics have a basis in truth - only that instead of Soviet Communist Agents supporting the protestors it is the US Capitalist CIA Agents who are calling the shots and encouraging the overthrow of foreign leaders.


Also worth noting how some popular democratic protests is ignored by the US/UK when it threatens their interests such as in Bahrain where the repression by the Bahrain government took place with the assistance of Saudi Arabian tanks is approved due to the presences of important navy bases in Bahrain.

Also neglected is the US/UK armed Saudi and Gulf States attack on Yemen which is taking on the appearance of another proxy war between Saudi and Iran.


silly me. I was under the impression that the civil war in Syria had something to do with a pipeline that the Americans, Saudis, and Qataris wanted to run through Syria but to which the Assad government said NO. Such audacity from the Syrian government to say no to the oil interests. I was also under the impression that the war in Syria had something to do with the Russians having a military base in Syria and the observation that for the past decade civil war and turmoil mostly occurred in countries allied with Russia. Coincidence? But perhaps Reese Erlich is correct and the Syrian Civil War was just an innocent popular uprising. Fine. That does not mean that the Americans, Saudis and Qatar did not take the opportunity to escalate and prolong the war because they want to eliminate the Assad government that is stopping their pipeline, and for various other reasons. And it does not mean that the Americans are not taking advantage of an opportunity to remove the Assad regime and with it the Russian base on the Mediterranean Sea.

In other words I think that Reese Erlich is being disingenuous here, and is making a technically correct statement which is designed to be tricky and misleading. He states the conspiracy theory as: "The Syria uprising was not a popular movement but instead was instigated by the US in order to remove the anti-imperialist Assad ." Erlich then knocks down his straw man statement. I state that "The Syria uprising was a popular movement that was deliberately aggravated, intensified, co-opted and prolonged by the US and its allies in order to remove the anti-imperialist Assad because he said no to an oil pipeline and because he was allowing the Russians to have a base on the Mediterranean at a time when the neoCons were attempting to weaken Russia and eventually break it up into smaller nations."


Erlich might bother to refute his supposed "myths" rather than just inveigh against weak versions of the arguments with bland assertions, as follows:

1) For the US creation of ISIS, see John Pilger's interview with Julian Assange, apparently in 10/16, and if you still doubt, go back to the documents. See also Robert Fisk's reporting of funding through the Saud family early on.

2) US behind "Arab Spring." This idea is new to me. What I have heard and what might better merit Erlich's attention is that the Obama Administration, when it could not support its puppets in Egypt, posed as a friend to revolution while it made moves to have the torture chief installed in office, thereby usurping and subverting the revolution and ending it.

3) The Syria uprising was not a popular movement, but was instigated by the US. These are not mutually conflicting: the US can instigate where there is sentiment against the government, and this leads to very different results. This is indeed the situation; again, someone has probably made an oversimple claim somewhere, but Erlich might better direct arguments against the more realistic opposition: the Syrian rebels were and are far from altogether a popular movement, but the betrayal of those who were authentic by their US and Saudi "help" is a part of the story that this denial hides.

4) Iran is the #1 sponsor of terrorism. Well, OK, point taken, that's ridiculous.

5) The US intentionally creates failed states. Erlich must be familiar for the standard term for this: it is called "destabilization" or "regime change." Clinton and others discuss it at length in the now-released emails. The point of stopping Libya from shipping was to gain control of what supplies did go elsewhere. That accomplished, the empire can or at least could have access to Libyan oil more or less when it wishes.

To the best of my knowledge, this argument was first articulated by Pepe Escobar for Asia Times. It explains quite a lot. Escobar is usually a worthy read, concise and simple.

6) 9/11. Debunking one theory of a false flag event does not debunk all, and of course Popular Mechanics addressed a few items of the mechanics as it found them, little else, and by some accounts badly.

I myself know little of the physics involved, but long accepted Noam Chomsky's assertion that it could not have been a false flag event because it would have been too hard to hide. However, the Saudi government was just recently sufficiently motivated as to make huge and expensive threats to see to it that the matter was not examined. And analyses and speculation over the now almost certainly CIA-related assassination of JFK makes it fairly obvious how such things are hidden, and it is embarrassingly simple: you just hire them to be done out of house. For 9/11 to be a false flag event, all you would need would be private and off-the-record communication between someone high in the US administration (who might order someone or something to stand down) and someone with administrative power and reach within Saudi Arabia.

That's not in itself a proof, but it is hardly a refutation in Popular Mechanics, of all things.

In general, this idea that there is something intrinsically wrong with a theory that involves conspiracy ought to die a quick and painless death or, that failing, quick and painful. Outside of polemical flourish, the word conspiracy involves several ideas: 1) a plan 2) secrecy 3) respect for in-group and not general interest.

If anyone has a theory that any major political events whatsoever take place without the involvement of some sort of conspiracy, he or she should attempt to support at least one of the following:

1) The event was not planned nor foreseen and aspects of response planned
2) The planning was not secret
3) The planning and execution was done with respect for the needs and opinions of those to be impacted rather than uniquely or principally for the planners.

Frankly, I think it would be a little difficult to find much of anything that can qualify as a non-conspiracy.


I too have read of the motive being the pipeline. A very similar case is made for the continuing war in Afghanistan which also has a proposed future pipeline going through the country.

Various countries have different agendas and sometimes they coalesce into a coalition of sorts if their purpose does not conflict. How crucial is the pipeline to the reasons for the foreign interventions is up for debate when wider geo-political issues are brought in. The problem is we sometimes over-simplify and not take into account that intentions go astray and a plan can fall apart or isn't particularly well-thought out. The backlash because of the Iraq war chaos went against direct intervention with the Parliamentary rejection of the then PM David Cameron is an example of when things go awry.

We can get into a type of Illuminati conspiracy if we believe there is some sort of shadow government pulling the strings when many individual countries determine their own policies such as Turkey. Some would argue that the Egyptian Arab Spring failed, not because of the coup but because the Muslim Brotherhood out-manouvred the secularist liberals and then the military could take advantage of the division. Would Morsi have been more aggressive in backing the Muslim Brotherhood of Syria? Who knows, for certain?

I often remind people that Syria was at one-time ally of the US-led forces based in Saudi Arabia to expel Iraq from Kuwait ...How easy people forget and how easy allies can switch sides.

What i do find extremely disturbing is the media coverage which has been abysmal and blatant propaganda that simply couldn't be trusted and was no different from the Iraq WMD pro-war campaign - all those who said the media learned their mistakes must now study whether there was any intention of presenting a balanced and honest reporting when it comes to international events. And the Left has been just as poor in trying to reflect the situation.


Yes, the US backed the most right-wing mujahedeen in Afghanistan in the 1980s. But those reactionaries, some of whom later formed al-Qaeda, always had their own agenda. They took money and arms from the US while planning to attack the US and its allies at a later time.

How did this article make it on here. To label the Moujahedeen only as right-wing and reactionaries is not only an insult to the reader, but more importantly an insult to their victims. From https://williamblum.org/chapters/killing-hope/afghanistan

A “favorite tactic” of the Afghan freedom fighters was “to torture victims [often Russians] by first cutting off their noses, ears, and genitals, then removing one slice of skin after another”, producing “a slow, very painful death”.

Stating that the United States funded these savages but is not responsible for their creation is the very definition of cognitive dissonance. I won't bother with the rest of the article. I doubt CNN would even post this garbage.


"Yes, the US backed the most right-wing mujahedeen in Afghanistan in the 1980s"

This backing of the muhajideen by the USA began not "in the 1980s" , a rather indeterminate date for an article that purports accuracy, but in 1979 by the Carter administration when internal strife in secular Afghanistan was threatening to be won by the Communist Party. Both the USA and Russia were very active in Afghanistan at the time, with aid and advisors playing the Great Game of Futility that had engaged the British and Russians for around 100 years.


Could we please miss the point any more spectacularly than this article does? Let's see if I can manage it.

Myth: the CIA will deceive and manipulate, engineer destruction at certain scales, and do nasty things to good people if they feel it is in their interests.

Reality: the CIA combats the greatest threats imaginable to the country and to humanity. Naturally, difficult situations will result in difficult recourses, but CIA agents are trained to face problems in the most peaceful and humane way possible. CIA agents are chosen from among the most noble and honorable of all boy scouts; they each have voices which make angels weep, refined tastes, and cocks which are girthy yet civilized.

Myth: Donald Trump exploited people's ignorance, racism, and xenophobia to pander and insult his way to the presidency.

Reality: Donald Trump is the president that America wanted, as proven by the uncontroversially legitimate and fully democratic US elections of November 8th, 2016.

Myth: the media consistently distorts the news to push agendas which are handed to it by big businesses, political leaders, the military, and the like.

Reality: Journalists are paid professionals with a responsibility to curate the truth. In America, journalists additionally have the benefit of freedom, which means that unlike all news originating in other countries, they are immune to the influence of misleading information.