Anti-Semites and white supremacists who are usually supportive of President Donald Trump have criticized him for his tough rhetoric against Russia and Syria following the deadly chemical attack that killed over 40 people in a rebel-held suburb of Damascus on Saturday.
Across Twitter and on Gab – a favored platform for Twitter refugees banned from the platform for violating its guidelines – the current situation in Syria is being portrayed as an effort by Israel, Jews, the “deep state” and other nefarious “globalist” forces to force Trump’s hand and keep the United States mired in a Mideast conflict.
Several alt-right figures are actively defending and glorifying the actions of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Richard Spencer championed the dictator in a Sunday night tweet as “a British-trained physician” who is “one of the most civilized leader(s) in the Middle East.”
Spencer, a leading proponent of a “white ethnostate” for the United States, is known for coining the term alt-right. He came to prominence through a viral video in which he celebrated Trump’s election victory in November 2016 by proclaiming “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!” and leading his followers in Nazi-style “Sieg Heil” salutes. He was also one of the leaders of the infamous Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally last August.
Criticism of the White House from Spencer and other white nationalists intensified Monday following an airstrike on a missile facility in Homs that Russia attributed to Israel, along with statements by U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis that the United States has not ruled out launching attacks against Syria.
In the conspiratorial far-right narrative, the chemical strike in Douma was a false flag operation, engineered in order to force Trump to backtrack on his surprise statement a week ago in which he indicated that U.S. involvement in Syria may soon be coming to an end.
At a press conference in the Baltic states, Trump stunned many when he declared he wanted to bring U.S. troops “back home” from Syria after they “were successful against ISIS” and had “almost completed the task” of eradicating them there.
The White House followed up on the president’s words with a statement that “the military mission to eradicate ISIS is coming to a rapid end, with ISIS being almost completely destroyed.”
Trump’s statement of intent was followed last week by a reportedly “tense” phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was concerned by the prospect of America abandoning Syria to Assad, Iran and its proxies.
But after the horrific pictures of suffocated children and families in Douma were released over the weekend, Trump has again seemingly changed tack on Syria. He declared in a tweet Sunday that “President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price to pay. Open area immediately for medical help and verification. Another humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever. SICK!”
Trump’s tone sparked widespread speculation that he would once more authorize U.S. military action against Assad – as he did last April after a similar chemical attack took place in Khan Shaykhun. The presence of a hawkish new national security adviser, John Bolton, has only encouraged such talk.
Last year, when the small-scale U.S. airstrike on a Syrian air base took place in response to the first chemical attack, Spencer and others on the alt-right turned against Trump, decrying the strike as a “betrayal” of his “America First” principles.
Now they are coming down harshly on him again, warning that they will not support any sign of increased intervention in a foreign conflict that would distract him from his pledge to “Make America Great Again.”
Both Spencer and white supremacist David Duke repeatedly posted tweets lionizing Assad and Putin as heroic figures who are protecting Christians and other Middle Eastern minorities from barbaric Muslim hordes.
Across the far-right media, conspiracy theorists contended that the chemical attack was “fake news,” displaying video and photographs that they said had been manipulated and doctored to provoke outrage.
Most prominent among them was InfoWars’ Alex Jones, who claimed in a video uploaded to his 2.3 million YouTube subscribers on Sunday that the Syrian attack had “every hallmark of a false flag” perpetrated by the “globalists [who] openly want to keep us there.”
Trump famously appeared on Jones’ internet talk show in 2015, telling the controversial host that “your reputation is amazing. I will not let you down.”
Jones has embraced Trump enthusiastically and acted as his cheerleader ever since, hosting his friends and aides, and bragging of ongoing contact with the administration as Trump became the Republican nominee and then president.
“Trump already bombed Syria once, bombed the Russian base, and it’s so obvious they are trying to suck us into a war,” intoned Jones in his typical freewheeling style as he paced across a golf course. “And many experts agree that it could quickly unravel into a greater regional war that could then start a war with Russia, which is exactly what the neocons and the globalists want.”
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