US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

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Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

Postby American Dream » Fri Sep 28, 2018 7:44 am

NO! IDLIB IS NOT A 'TERRORIST ENCLAVE'

Image

by Sina Zekavat, Mangal Media

As Turkey and Russia step towards implementing a 15-20 kilometer "demilitarization zone" between Idlib and the surrounding regime-held areas of northern Syria, mainstream media and the forces of status quo are bent on portraying Idlib as a "terrorist enclave"—hile people inside Idlib are determined to break this false and dangerous image.

Days after the renewed aerial bombardment of Idlib by Russia and the Assad regime, the Democratic congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard called Idlib an "Al Qaeda stronghold" in a recorded video message published on her Twitter account. In the same tweet, she called Idlib an "Al-Qaeda controlled city." A week later, during a speech addressing members of the US Congress, she claimed that there are "20,000-40,000 al-Qaeda and other jihadists" in Idlib, a number that vastly exceeds those reported by the UN and even pro-regime propaganda platforms.

David Duke, the former leader of the Ku Klux Klan (and a vocal supporter of both Trump and Gabbard) has also been tweeting in support of Russian and Assad regime bombardment of Idlib. He claimed this was in order to "protect the real children of Idlib," presumably implying that those children who are targeted by the Assad-Putin aerial bombings are fake "crisis actors" and deserving of death, for the crime of misinforming the American public.

Vijay Prashad, a prominent academic in leftist circles, has joined the chorus by using dangerous and stereotypical portrayals of Idlib. In his latest article, Prashad writes that it's "intolerable to the government in Damascus to allow an enclave of al-Qaeda rebels inside the country—which is why the main battle is to be there, in Idlib." He calls the military campaign against Idlib by Assad and his allies "ugly" but "inevitable." Further normalizing this horrific scenario, Prashad ends his piece by advising everyone in Idlib to "cut a deal now before the terrible slaughter starts. This bombing is not the first salvo in the final battle but the last attempt at a negotiation."

Idlib as a space of struggle for safety and self-determination
Totally absent from the image of Idlib presented by Gabbard, Duke, Prashad and many others; is the presence of more than 3 million civilians (close to 1 million of them children according to UNICEF) trapped between Turkey's militarized border and the regime-held areas. Reportedly, 1.5 million of this population are forcefully displaced residents of Eastern Ghouta, Aleppo and other areas of Syria. These areas have been occupied by the Assad regime, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah through a barbaric campaign of aerial attack, settlement sieges, and forced displacement. But beyond this catastrophic humanitarian situation, Idlib province is also home to hundreds of resilient civil society organizations and local councils which were set up during the revolution. For the last eight years, this grassroots civil network has been at the forefront of challenging the sectarian, repressive and hegemonic politics of both the extremist Salafist groups as well as the Assad regime. As Leila Al Shami reports:

There are over 150 local councils in Idlib province, many of which have had their members democratically elected in the first such elections in over four decades of Assad rule...The existence of extremist militant groups in Idlib province is the justification given by the regime and its Russian ally for continuing their aerial assault. Yet these airstrikes, which usually target residential areas and vital civilian infrastructure, and which maim and kill men, women and children, create the chaos and despair in which extremist groups thrive.

The presence of such groups also provides the rationale for withdrawal of donor funding to civil society organizations over fears it may end up in the wrong hands. Yet the resistance to extremism comes most successfully from local communities that have strong civil society networks and, critically, where women whose rights are most under threat actively participate. A serious anti-extremism policy would require an end to the bombing of civilians and the continuation of funds and support for women’s civil society groups.


Far from an "al-Qaeda enclave," Idlib is currently the center of a complex network of competing political interests, with actors ranging from imperialist nation-states to reactionary militias and a fragile but resilient network of civil society organizations. In a recent collective statement signed by more than 20 local civil society organizations, Idlib was described as a potential "nucleus of a new Syria free from the face of tyranny and extremism."

Idlib's weekly popular anti-war rallies
Also absent from Gabbard, Duke and Prashad's image of Idlib is the popular and peaceful mass anti-war, anti-dictatorship and anti-extremism rallies that have been taking place every Friday for the past several weeks. Each rally has been organized under a specific popular slogan. The first rally on September 7 was held under the banner of #خيارنا_المقاومة ("Resistance is our choice"), the second on the 14th under the slogan ‎⁧‫#لا_بديل_عن_إسقاط_النظام‬⁩ ("No alternative to the fall of the regime"), and the last one on the 28th #نظام_الأسد_مصدر_الإرهاب ("The Assad regime is the source of all terrorism"). On two occasions the Salafist group Hay'et Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) has attacked the popular protests with firearms, attempting to end the rallies by dispersing the crowd—but people have remained united and responded with the slogan "This is Idlib! [Regime] thugs leave, leave, leave!"

Thousands of men and women from all ages have been joining these popular rallies with exceptionally beautiful and expressive handmade signs and banners. Many of the protest signs have been focusing on media's false portrayal of Idlib as a "terrorist enclave," the very irresponsible and reductionist image that majority of western experts and politicians from all political backgrounds have been perpetuating. "We want freedom, we are not terrorists," one signs read. "This is our land, we will not get out of it," says another. Letters of solidarity have also been exchanged between Idlib's rallies and Gaza's weekly March of Return.

Malcolm X, racialization and 'War on Terror'
It is ironic that Gabbard [1], Duke, Prashad and many others who seemingly oppose Israel's never-ending war on Palestinians (or America's never-ending wars across the MENA) cynically adopt and repeat Israel's dehumanizing and anti-Muslim discourse of "terrorist strongholds," "human shields," and the local regime's "right to self defense." These are the very terminologies which the Israeli regime has been promoting in the mainstream media to justify its own vicious bombing of schools, hospitals and markets in residential neighbourhoods of Gaza and the West Bank.

However, this lethal and weaponized media rhetoric predates Israel's systemic erasure of Palestinians. This terminology is an heirloom in the colonial arsenal. In his 1964 speech at the Oxford University Student Union, Malcolm X addressed this historic phenomenon:

[I]f you study back in history of different wars, whenever a country that's in power wants to step in unjustly and invade someone else's property, they use the press to make it appear that the area that they are about to invade is filled with savages, or filled with people who have gone berserk, or they are raping white women, molesting nuns, they use the same old tactic year in and year out... The powers that be use the press to give the devil an angelic image and give the image of the devil to the one who's really angelic. They make oppression and exploitation and war actually look like an act of humanitarianism… [T]his again comes through the manipulating of images. when they want you to think of a certain area or certain group as involved in actions of extremism, the first thing they do is project that person in the image of an extremist.


Through his anti-authoritarian observations and analysis, Malcolm X deconstructed the very mechanisms of representation that enable systematic terror and erasure against black and other communities of color, both inside and outside of the US. The "war on terror" discourse which the Assad regime and many other authoritarian states rely on today, is simply the continuation and globalization of America's mechanism of racialized representation.

The rhetorical erasure of local inhabitants and the portrayal of any geography, whether it's Idlib, Aleppo, Afrin, Gaza, Kashmir, Hodeida or Ferguson, as an "extremist enclave" (or "al-Qaeda's heartland," as Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton prefer) is the continuation of the centuries-long history of white supremacist, colonialist and imperialist representational violence. A form of violence that utilizes Islamophobia, stereotyping, racialization and homogenization in order to produce criminalized images of an entire territory and its inhabitants, in preparation for a total extermination. We can only resist such violent, reductionist and hateful images by echoing the voices of the resilient civilian communities who are struggling for collective safety, dignity and self-determination.



[1] Despite receiving funds from pro-Israel lobby groups and also endorsements from right wing pro-Israel religious figures like Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Gabbard has been trying to score extra “progressive” points by exploiting the Palestinian struggle.
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Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

Postby Sounder » Wed Oct 03, 2018 2:08 pm

AD is off topic with this emotive appeal for the people of Idlib, and yes actually, Idlib most assuredly is a terrorist enclave, given the 'reconciliation agreements' that sent them there. The topic is; US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion? The following is about that, you know US using proxy forces to kill Syrians so as to achieve their wet dream of having yet another recidivist Sunni state to counter Iran.


https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-10- ... on-empower

Authored by Whitney Webb via Mint Press News

A recently uncovered U.S. government document published by WikiLeaks has revealed that the U.S. directly advocated for undermining “democratic” elements of the so-called Syrian “revolution” of 2011 in order to ensure the dominance of authoritarian, sectarian Sunni groups within the Syrian opposition.

The document, written by the United States Marine Corps (USMC) Intelligence Department in late 2011, further asserts that empowering these radical Sunni groups over democratic and secular ones would be ideal for the United States and its regional partners, as ensuring the decline of the current Syrian government, and with it a secular Syria, would harm Iran’s regional clout.

In other words, the U.S. openly supported undermining democratic opposition forces in Syria in order to challenge Iranian influence and, with it, the influence of the Middle East’s “resistance axis” that obstructs the imperialistic agendas of the U.S. and its regional allies such as Saudi Arabia and Israel.

According to the document, which was buried in a previous WikiLeaks release and recently uncovered by journalist Dr. Nafeez Ahmed, U.S. military intelligence was well aware that the Syrian opposition movement in 2011 did not pose “a meaningful threat against the [Syrian] regime,” given that it was “extremely fractured” and “operating under enormous constraints.”

It also noted that “reports of protests [against the Syrian government] are overblown,” even though “the exiled [Syrian] opposition has been quite effecting (sic) in developing a narrative on the Syrian opposition to disseminate to major media agencies.”

That narrative — which was subsequently promoted by several foreign governments, including the U.S., the U.K., Turkey and France — falsely claimed that the protests were massive and involved largely peaceful protestors “rising up” against the “autocratic” government led by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

This document, as well as substantial evidence that has emerged over the last several years, shows that this narrative, of a “peaceful uprising” seeking to establish a secular and “democratic” Syria, has never been true, as even U.S. military intelligence knew that the reports regarding these “peaceful” protests were highly exaggerated.
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Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

Postby JackRiddler » Wed Oct 03, 2018 2:16 pm

.

No doubt it is true that the civilians are refugees. It can be that the majority are anti-extremist and revolutionary. In any case they are innocent and their lives are threatened by the hostilities.

Still, the question is begged:

Who are the armed forces occupying Idlib province?

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Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

Postby Elvis » Wed Oct 03, 2018 3:23 pm

Sounder wrote:https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-10- ... on-empower

Authored by Whitney Webb via Mint Press News


The original USMC paper is linked there, an interesting read. Thanks for bringing the USMC to our attention; here's Nafeez Ahmed's referenced article:

https://mondediplo.com/outside-in/syria ... -documents
Le Monde diplomatique

US military document reveals how the West opposed a democratic Syria
by Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed

US military documents from 2011 and 2016 reveal that although officials wanted a Syrian regime change in theory, they thought it was highly unlikely to actually happen — and hoped that if President Bashar al-Assad was overthrown, he would not be replaced by an opposition-led Syrian democracy but, rather, the same Alawite-Baathist ruling structure would continue. The end result was to be the decimation of the democratic opposition, the consolidation of Islamist forces and regime preservation.

‘The US has given up on the overthrow of Assad in Syria’, wrote Robert Fisk this summer. Indeed, as the Russian-backed Syrian army prepared to execute its final offensive on Idlib, western governments appeared to signal their acceptance of a bloody victory for Assad, despite the ritual denunciations.

But at the last minute, Russia and Turkey agreed a truce to ward off a Russian-led attack for at least a month, and establish a buffer zone to protect 3 million civilians. The deal will involve hashing out how to remove extremist rebels from the buffer zone, and Turkey has announced it will send more troops into Idlib.

As the Idlib offensive loomed, the West, curiously, did little of substance in any particular direction. According to two newly uncovered US military documents, western reticence might be because the US was never really committed to overthrowing Assad, due to a self-serving strategy that has been wildly misunderstood.

The documents suggest that both early on and toward the later phase of the conflict, senior US military officials had not given any credence to the democratic aspirations of Syrian protestors, but had merely sought to use them as a tool to sideline expanding Iranian influence. Toppling the regime was dismissed as a highly improbable scenario, with officials indicating they believed the survival of an authoritarian Baathist governing structure — with or without Assad — was inevitable.


Predicting opposition failure

According to a US secret draft military document obtained via the Wikileaks archive, as far back as August 2011 (six months after the Syrian uprising began) US military officials were highly ambivalent about ‘regime change’ in Syria, on the grounds that opposition forces would never win. Supporting the rebels, the officials hoped, might encourage forces within Assad’s regime to remove him while maintaining the Alawite-dominated authoritarian power structure. But military intervention was not on the cards.

The document, reported here for the first time, is the draft of an internal US Marine Corps’ (USMC) Intelligence Department forecasting paper, produced jointly by analysts at the private intelligence firm Stratfor and senior USMC officials (1).

‘The Syrian Alawite-Baathist regime led by President Bashar al Assad will weaken significantly over the next three years, but its break point is unlikely to be imminent’, it states. ‘Fractured opposition forces in Syria are unlikely to overcome the logistical constraints preventing them from cohering into a meaningful threat against the regime within this time frame.’

The document was meant to be an internal USMC intelligence assessment and was never formally released to the public by the agency. It saw regime change as desirable in theory, but unattainable in practice, warning that Syria would experience ‘a violent, protracted civil conflict, one that will enflame sectarian unrest... The potential for the regime to collapse cannot be ruled out, but the road to regime change will be a long and bloody one.’

While the document does not strictly rule out regime change, it marshals abundant evidence to argue that a regime change effort would be futile. In particular, the document concludes that opposition forces would be unable to overthrow Assad: ‘... the opposition in Syria does not yet have the numbers, organization or capabilities overall to overwhelm the regime forces. Syria’s opposition is extremely fractured and is operating under enormous constraints inside the country.’
Hoping the Alawite elite steps in

Instead, the USMC report states: ‘The more probable threat the regime will be facing will come from within’ — in the form of ‘an attempt by high-ranking military and business elite of the regime to mount a coup’ against Assad, prompted by fears of his weakness.

The document puts into context previously reported leaked Stratfor emails dated from December 2011 (four months after the USMC draft document), referring to a write-up of a meeting with US military intelligence officials. The write-up ruled out a major air campaign and noted the role of special operations teams on the ground in Syria ‘training opposition forces’ to ‘try to break the back of the Alawite forces, elicit collapse from within’.

Taken in context with the USMC Intelligence Department’s draft forecasting document from August 2011, it is clear that senior US defence strategists did not envisage a democratic victory for the opposition, but hoped to create sufficient pressure to usher in a collapse of the ‘Alawite forces ... from within’, by triggering an Alawite coup against Assad. In other words, the opposition was seen as a temporary tool, to be discarded once the goal of ensuring a more ‘friendly’ autocratic Baathist structure was in place.

The draft USMC intelligence document notes that despite a growing appetite among US allies for an alternative to Assad, no one wanted to actually get their hands dirty trying to topple him.

Conceding that ‘external support for a Syrian alternative to the al-Assad regime will grow with time,’ the document observes that ‘none of the major stakeholders in the region, including Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United States, appear interested in dealing with the destabilising effects of regime change in Syria in the region.’

Prepared in August 2011 as part of a series of USMC intelligence briefs drafted with Stratfor’s support, the document was buried amidst the massive corpus of Stratfor emails that were originally leaked and published by Wikileaks from 2012 to 2014.

Within the 5 million strong Stratfor corpus is a body of email correspondence in 2011 between Stratfor analysts and senior US Marine Corps officers. The emails show that the USMC Intelligence Department had commissioned Stratfor to work with USMC officials in drafting this intelligence forecasting paper, along with several other briefs. The USMC officials who established the Stratfor partnership included USMC chief of intelligence assessments Lieutenant Colonel Drew Cukor, Major William Osborne of USMC’s Future Assessments Branch, and USMC Director of Intelligence, Brigadier General Vincent Stewart.

Some caveats: the document is only a draft and we cannot tell what the final polished version looks like, although the USMC-Stratfor drafting process can actually be traced through the leaked correspondence — and this document looks to be a near final version. Also, the document is obviously not a direct reflection of US government policy, but rather gives us an insight into the internal assessment of senior US military intelligence officers. In that sense, while the document’s import should not be automatically conflated with White House policy, we ought not to dismiss its significance in granting insight into how US military planners appear to have viewed the conflict from early on.

While the document does not explicitly make direct policy recommendations, it sets out available options, preferences and scenarios. The USMC Intelligence Department, for which the forecasting assessment was drafted, is a highly influential agency which directly feeds into the execution of special operations. According to its mission statement: ‘The Intelligence Department is responsible for policy, plans, programming, budgets, and staff supervision of Intelligence and supporting activities within the Unites States Marine Corps. The Department supports the Commandant of the Marine Corps (CMC) in his role as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), represents the service in Joint and Intelligence Community matters, and exercises supervision over the Marine Corps Intelligence Activity (MCIA).’

This makes it all the more significant that the draft USMC intelligence assessment concluded that it was highly improbable that the regime would collapse.


Support for Sunni Islamists to undermine Shia Iran

US military officials’ biggest fear was the prospect of Iran expanding its geopolitical influence. The document advocated that the US work with its regional allies in supporting Islamist groups to counter this: ‘... Turkey, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and others have a common interest in trying to severely undermine Iran’s foothold in the Levant and dial back Hezbollah’s political and military influence in Lebanon. Turkey, in particular, is the country with the most leverage over Syria in the long term, and has an interest in seeing this territory return to Sunni rule.’

Despite acknowledging that opposition groups would probably fail to overthrow Assad, the document still assesses that they could be mobilised to counter Iranian encroachment. It was accepted that this would empower Islamist forces among the Syrian opposition, rather than democratic and secular forces: ‘Turkey does not have good options nor the capability to effect change in Syria any time soon, but it will gradually attempt to build up linkages with groups inside Syria, focusing in particular on the Islamist remnants of the Muslim Brotherhood in trying to fashion a viable Islamist political force in Syria that would operate under Ankara’s umbrella. This will take time to develop, but the geopolitical dynamic of the region points to a gradually [sic] weakening of the Alawite hold on power in Syria.’

The anti-democratic nature of the strategy was clear. Regardless of the democratic aspirations driving the Syrian uprising, US military officials were content with the idea of encouraging foreign powers to nurture Islamist forces in Syria who would operate under the ‘umbrella’ of those foreign powers: all to try and weaken Iran’s foothold.

The document also indicates that the US did not plan a military intervention for regime change at this time. The overall verdict was ‘better the devil you know’. ‘We do not anticipate the USMC militarily intervening in either Syria or Lebanon with a mission to stabilize the situation’, the document says: ‘The sectarian dynamics are far too complex for the United States to afford becoming embroiled in. Instead, this will be a regional crisis for Turkey to manage. Since Turkey is still early in its regional rise, it will need considerable backing and support from its allies, but even then, is unlikely to be able to effectively deal with such a crisis within the next three years.’


Breaking up Syria

The draft USMC assessment is largely corroborated by a little-known Joint Special Operations University (JSOU) study published five years later, unreported until now, which similarly provides a window into the thinking of US defence planners.

By 2016, the conflict had seemingly reached a grinding stalemate. The previous year, then Pentagon intelligence chief Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart expected Syria to eventually split into ‘two or three parts’. UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, similarly observed that Syria was experiencing a de facto partition that might need to be formally accepted by the international community. Russia and Iran were moving along the same lines. An international consensus had emerged that Assad would remain in power in an Alawite-run mini-state, leaving the rest of Syria in the hands of ISIS, other Islamist rebels, and the Kurds.

The JSOU study, titled The Collapse of Iraq and Syria: The End of the Colonial Construct in the Greater Levant, was authored by Dr Roby Barrett — a senior fellow at the JSOU where he has instructed US military officers in applied intelligence and advises the Pentagon, State Department and intelligence community. The JSOU is US Special Operations Command’s designated agency to educate and advise Special Operations officers, based at MacDill Air Force base in Florida.

Barrett’s basic message confirms: ‘The solution to the chaos cannot be found in regime change in Syria (although that might help)... The old colonial paradigm of artificial states has been replaced by a new structure that reflects a time that predates the Ottoman’s imperial control. Iraq and Syria no longer exist.’

This meant that US Special Forces (SOF) would need to accommodate a ‘new reality’: a shrunken Alawite regime in Syria, surrounded by a patchwork of opposition groups dominated by Islamist forces. While Barrett’s assessment cannot be taken as automatically reflective of US government policy, it appears broadly consistent with actual policy decisions at the time.

The document suggests that two years ago, US defence strategists were privately content to accept a status quo partition of Syria along ethnic and sectarian lines, with a continued role for both Assad and various Islamist forces: ‘There is already a de facto partition of the Greater Levant into a minority enclave still controlled by the Assad regime in Syria, the increasingly independent Kurdish regions, the emergence of a Sunnistan now dominated by ISIS [Islamic State or IS], and a Shi’a rump state from Baghdad to Basra.’

All this confirms that western goals in Syria were never about supporting the democratic uprising. The key reason the West avoided an all-out regime change strategy was fear of being unable to determine its consequences: ‘In short, the West and its allies wanted the Assads gone, but not the remaining government structure including the Alawite-dominated Syrian army and the security services.’

And Russia’s involvement has ‘at the absolute least assured the survival of an Alawite-rump state in the north and potentially from Damascus to Latakia’ — an observation that clearly underestimated the extent of Assad’s eventual victory.


Ruling out democracy

Barrett explains that the West’s strategy is to continue supporting undemocratic Islamist forces among the Syrian opposition, dismissing any chance of an opposition-based democracy: ‘A secular state run by a group devoted to democracy and western civil society is not going to emerge in Sunnistan. Policy needs to start discarding labels and decide which Islamist Salafi group or groups that it is going to back... to preserve US and Western interests it is going to be a search for the lesser evils.’

His comments reveal how distant US policy planners were from the aspirations of the original grassroots Syrian revolutionaries — exemplified in the Local Coordination Committees (LLCs). The LLCs are a trans-sectarian Syrian youth network which campaigned vigorously for highly participatory forms of direct democracy. But as noted by the Netherlands-based development group, Hivos, the LLCs had been ‘considerably weakened due to repression from both the regime and jihadi groups.’

Rather than support the LLCs, US policy appears to have wavered between weakening and tolerating Assad while largely supporting Islamist groups among the opposition — a strategy whose outcome was to escalate sectarian violence while extinguishing the democratic potential of the 2011 uprising.

To discuss the documents, I met with Professor Nader Hashemi, Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies; and Danny Postel, Assistant Director of Northwestern University’s Middle East and North African Studies Program.

‘With hundreds of agencies in the US government, we should of course be careful about interpreting any internal documents and how they reflect actual US government policy,’ Hashemi told me. ‘But these documents are completely consistent with the real track record of US policy not only in Syria but in the wider region, which has always held a deep and abiding anxiety about any form of democratisation, seeking instead to work with autocratic and authoritarian partners.’

According to Postel, this ambivalence meant that US strategy in Syria was never engaged in a serious effort to remove Assad: ‘If you look closely at what actual US policy in Syria consists of, you can clearly see that the US government has not only consistently avoided regime change, but has in effect pursued a policy of regime preservation.’

The documents confirm that the weakening of the LLCs was a direct consequence of a self-serving US strategy. The idea was to manipulate the opposition to achieve a new authoritarian status quo that would suit western interests, whether dominated by Baathists or Islamists.

Anand Gopal, who has reported from inside Syria, has previously argued that while the US hoped Assad would exit the scene, his continued rule was considered preferable to a democratic revolution. ‘Since the beginning, the US has sought to control the Syrian revolution and civil war to ensure that there would be no outcome directly opposed to American interests’, he said. ‘A successful revolution in Syria — especially one outside of American control — would have profound effects across the region, including in American client states. So although the US doesn’t like Assad and would like to see him step down, it prefers the continuation of Assad’s regime to any potential revolutionary alternative from below. It would like, in other words, a Yemen-type solution to the Syrian crisis.’

So the West’s current policy in Syria is no surprise. Trump’s decision to keep US troops in Syria until Iranian forces depart is consistent with the motivations that drove military officials under the previous Obama administration in Syria. That narrow-thinking led officials to greenlight Turkey’s support to Sunni Islamist groups back in 2011, regardless of the impact on the democratic core of Syria’s opposition; and the same narrow-thinking explains the decision to accommodate a fragmented, Assad-dominated Syria today, while still exerting pressure to sideline Iran’s influence.

No wonder, then, that as the Syrian army amassed its forces in preparation for the Idlib offensive, the West pretty much abandoned the opposition — Islamists, jihadists, beleaguered democrats and Syrian civilians — leaving Turkey to decide how it would clean up the mess.


Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed
Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed is an award-winning investigative journalist and complex systems theorist. He is founding editor of the crowdfunded media platform INSURGE intelligence, and writes for VICE’s Motherboard on global system transformation. He has written for many publications including The Guardian,Foreign Policy, New Statesman and has twice been featured in the Evening Standard’s list of the top 1,000 most influential Londoners.



P.S. - Sounder, imo, AD was not off-topic with the Idlib piece...

JackRiddler wrote:Still, the question is begged:

Who are the armed forces occupying Idlib province?
"Frankly, I don't think it's a good idea but the sums proposed are enormous."
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Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

Postby American Dream » Sat Oct 06, 2018 12:57 am

Reporting Against Brutal Occupiers

Image

Alhamza was studying biology at the University of Raqqa when his life and that of countless other Syrians changed forever. He was Muslim but not religious, as he puts it. Politics had never interested him. “We knew that Assad had spies everywhere and that anyone who criticized the regime would disappear,” he remembers, gesturing broadly as he talks. But when Assad’s thugs in Dera’a tortured schoolboys for anti-regime graffiti [in February 2011], demonstrations against the ruling clique spread across the country.

Alhamza and his brother decided to join the protests in their city. The students were soon uploading smartphone videos of the marches onto Facebook and, together with their friends, documenting (under pseudonyms) momentous political events in a country where independent journalism had long not been tolerated. “Suddenly we had something that we’d never had before: the freedom to say what we really think,” Alhamza says of what he calls the “best time of my life.”

But this freedom was short-lived. Assad’s security services soon clamped down violently. Alhamza was imprisoned three times, once for forty-five days. As with all arrested regime critics, he was tortured, with electroshocks and lashes. He endured days of solitary confinement. But the worst was yet to come.


https://antidotezine.com/2018/10/05/rep ... occupiers/
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Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

Postby American Dream » Tue Oct 16, 2018 12:19 pm

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Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

Postby Elvis » Mon Oct 22, 2018 10:53 pm

Rigorous, critical analysis doesn't get much better than this:


Smart Power & The Human Rights Industrial Complex
UK Column
March 15, 2016

by Patrick Henningsen

Human rights in the West: does the reality live up to the rhetoric? On the surface, the cultural narrative seems innocent enough: billionaire philanthropists, political luminaries and transnational corporations, along with legions of staff and volunteers – all working together in the name of social justice, forging a better, fairer and more accountable world.

The story reads well on paper, and well it should. After all, the 20th century saw a string of failures by various governments to curb and halt some of the most horrific exhibitions of genocide and crimes against humanity. The door has been opened for many charities and human rights organizations to play a bigger role in moderating international affairs. Upon more rigorous inspection, however, what emerges is one of the most unfortunate realities of 21st century geopolitics. Though many human rights charities still market themselves as ‘neutral’ and ‘nonpartisan’, the reality is something very different. With public skepticism at an all-time high, the danger is clear: if conflicts of interest are not addressed in a serious way, they threaten to undermine the credibility of the entire non-governmental organization (NGO) sector internationally.

One difficult aspect in analyzing this struggle for ‘perception management’ is that most human rights and aid organizations are staffed and run by good, hard-working and extremely well-educated individuals, many of whom carry out their roles with an altruistic heart and with the best of intentions. For the most part, many remain unaware or uninterested in who actually funds their organisations and what those financial strings mean in terms of the what a given organisation’s stance will be on any range of geopolitical issues or military conflicts. It’s certainly true that over the years, sincere and dedicated campaigning by organisations has helped to free individuals who where unjustly imprisoned and achieved due process and justice for the dispossessed. It’s also true that many of these same organizations have helped to raise awareness on many important social and environmental issues.

Due to increased funding from corporate interests and direct links to government and policy think tanks in recent years, these organisations have become even more politicised, and more closely connected with western ‘agents of influence.’ As a result, an argument can be made that, on many levels, these ‘human rights’ organisations may be contributing to the very problem they profess to be working to abate: causing more suffering, death and instability worldwide through their co-marketing of the foreign policy objectives of Washington, London, Paris and Brussels.

The problem is both systemic and institutional in nature. As a result, many of the western world’s leading human rights organizations based in North America and Europe have become mirror reflections of a western foreign policy agenda and have become virtual clearing houses for interventionist propaganda.

Writer Stephanie McMillan describes the new role of the non governmental organizations in the 21st century:

Along with military invasions and missionaries, NGOs help crack countries open like ripe nuts, paving the way for intensifying waves of exploitation and extraction.



Outsourcing Consensus Building

Shaping western public perception and opinion on major international issues is essential if major world powers are to realise their foreign policy goals. Not surprisingly, we can see that many of the public positions taken by NGOs are exactly aligned with western foreign policy. In the Balkans War of the 1990’s, human rights groups supported partitioning. In the Ukraine in 2014 and with both Syria and Yemen in 2016 they supported regime change. In each instance NGOs function as public relations extension to a United Nations western member Security Council bloc, namely the US, UK and France. This collusion is manifest throughout the upper echelons of these organizations whose streamlined agenda conforms through a lucrative revolving door which exists between a cartel of western NGOs, government and media.

As western governments find themselves more heavily involved in long-term conflicts around the globe, the need to outsource their ethics and morals to NGOs becomes more apparent. Continuity between these symbiotic entities is essential if governments are to successfully frame the geopolitical narratives on which international human rights organizations so often derive their own public relations and fundraising campaigns. Together, all of these things converge to form a highly efficient, functioning alliance which could be described as a type of ‘government-media-human rights’ industrial complex.

Nowhere is this complex more evident than with the United States-led foreign policy towards Syria. By framing the Syrian Conflict (2011 to present) as a “civil war”, both western media and human rights organizations did their part in propping-up an important western foreign policy narrative. Inaccurate and distorted, this narrative has helped shield the US-led clandestine proxy war which has been allowed to carry on almost unimpeded below the surface narrative of western public perception. For mainstream US audiences, if truly known, the reality of Syria might be too much to bear – a US-backed guerrilla war where Washington and Ankara, along with NATO and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) allies, flooding Turkey and Syria with weapons, cash, equipment, social media teams, military trainers and foreign fighters from as a far away as Pakistan. When analyzed from this wider perspective, very little is ‘civil’ about the Syrian Conflict.


The Human Rights Industry

What was once a 20th century adjunct to an emerging international progressive movement has since mushroomed into a 21st century multi-billion dollar, internationalised ‘third sector’ concern – underwritten by some of the world’s leading transnational corporations. This impressive labyrinth is led by organizations like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch (HRW), and the Worldwide Human Rights Movement (FIDH). Each of these organisations has well-developed links leading directly into central governments, and perhaps more surprisingly, links leading straight into the heart of the military industrial complex. Safely cloaked under the official guise of ‘charity organisation’, many of these entities push a political agenda and effectively serve as public relations outlets for US and NATO forward military planning.

Working behind the public-facing human rights industrial complex is another key component which helps set the geopolitical agenda. Leading western governmental efforts are the White House and the US State Department. Behind the political facade, however, is where the real work takes place; a myriad of think tanks which serve as an unofficial academic-like support structure for managing policy planning, rolling out grand strategies and other big ideas. Some recognisable names in this industry are the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Brookings Institute, Heritage Foundation, American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and Foreign Policy Initiative (the heir apparent to PNAC). These think tanks and foundations are also referred to as ‘policy mills’ because of their ability to churn-out volumes of policy ‘white papers’, surveys and strategic studies which are then disseminated through various industry journals and at functions, conferences and events in Washington DC and New York City. Certain think tanks, like the Committee for Peace and Security in the Gulf, were set-up in the 1990’s to push through specific foreign policy objectives – like kick-starting the war in Iraq. Where you find a war, you most certainly will find a think tank advocating behind it.


Follow the Money

To find the common thread between think tanks, foundations and human rights charities, one needs only to follow the money.

Many of these entities receive large portions of their funding from the same sources – transnational corporations. One large contributor of annual funding for human rights organisations, including HRW, is the controversial Wall Street billionaire George Soros, through his NGO the Open Society Institute. Other human rights organisations like FIDH which draw together some 178 organizations from 120 countries, receives funding from the US State Department by way of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). Here we have a direct financial link which forms a ring connecting western governments, NGOs and charities.

One can argue, and successfully, that this nexus ensures that the output, ideas and marketing messages of each leg of a human rights campaign conforms to western foreign policy language and objectives.


Washington’s HR Revolving Door

It’s no secret that a revolving door exists between the US State Department and many of the western world’s leading human rights organisations. That relationship can be gleaned from this CFR policy paper which states:

To advance from a nuanced dissent to a compelling vision, progressive policymakers should turn to the great mainstay of twentieth-century U.S. foreign policy: liberal internationalism, which posits that a global system of stable liberal democracies would be less prone to war … Washington, the theory goes, should thus offer assertive leadership – diplomatic, economic, and not least, military – to advance a broad array of goals: self-determination, human rights, free trade, the rule of law, economic development, and the quarantine and elimination of dictators and weapons of mass destruction (WMD).


That passage, taken in the context of the Syrian conflict, reveals a stark picture of how Washington really works. It was written by Suzanne Nossel, one of Washington’s most high-profile humanitarian advocates who managed to transition seamlessly from her position as Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Organisations at the US State Department – directly into an executive director position at Amnesty International USA in 2012. Prior to the State Dept., Nossel was also served as chief operating officer for Human Rights Watch, vice president of strategy and operations at the Wall Street Journal and a media and communications consultant to CFR founding corporate member, law firm McKinsey & Company.

Here we see a powerful public relations resumé, combined with established links to Washington’s foreign policy core, and at a time where multiple Middle Eastern nations states, like Libya and Syria, were being forced into submission under the yoke of US-led international pressure. Projecting Washington’s preferred narrative is paramount in this multilateral effort and Nossel would be a key bridge in helping to project US foreign policy messaging internationally through top tier NGO Amnesty.

Around this time, Amnesty USA launched a new PR campaign aimed at millennials and selling the following geopolitical narrative: “NO MORE EXCUSES: Russia has vetoed two UN Security Council resolutions while continually supplying arms, causing the violence to worsen.”

This digital and print campaign was also backed by rallies and other live events used to promote their anti-Russia and Anti-Syria PR effort. At one event in 2012, young school children in Nepal could be seen holding up signs that read, “Russia: Stop Arms Transfer to Syria!”.

When you consider its mirror reflection of foreign policy lines emanating from the US State Dept., it’s easy to see how this catchy slogan had little if anything to do with human rights, but but could easily be viewed as trying to isolate both the Russian and Syrian governments geopolitically.

In truth, Amnesty’s narrative was a complete inversion: while attempting to lay the blame on Russia as being responsible for the escalation and sustained violence in Syria, the country was being over-run by tens of thousands of foreign terrorist militants, illegally trafficked weapons, along with CIA and other foreign assets, as part of the wider US-led Coalition presently waging a proxy war in Syria.


Soft Power vs Smart Power

Despite its foreign policy aspirations, the West still needs public opinion backing for any military action. While the public are none the wiser, blinded by the fog of mass media coverage and bombarded with faux moral imperatives and ‘ticking bomb’ style scenarios demanding that, “we must act now to save innocent lives” – soft power agents have provided the crucial communication bridge for most interventions.

Both media and NGOs fall under the classification of ‘soft power’, and it is this soft power complex which provides the soft cushion upon which soft-sounding foreign policies like “humanitarian intervention” and the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) can comfortably rest on in western discourse. In reality, these foreign policies are anything but soft, and in the absence of declaring war between nation states – these policies now serve as the tip of an imperialist spear. If you surveyed any of the millions of Middle Eastern residents on the receiving end of the west’s recent humanitarian interventions they will tell you it was anything but soft – especially for the people living in Libya, Syria, Yemen, Yugoslavia and Iraq.

Inside Washington’s inner sanctum, ‘soft power’ has given way to Smart Power. Indeed, it was Susan Nossel who coined the term “Smart Power” while working alongside US humanitarian hawks like Hillary Clinton, Samantha Power and Susan Rice, and also with Washington’s lesser known Atrocity Prevention Board, all of whom worked to successfully implement this new range of intervention marketing concepts including humanitarian intervention and R2P.

In this age of professionally staged colour revolutions and ‘Arab Springs’, and wars fought by proxies and front organizations – vaunted human rights organisations should really acknowledge that there are nation-states and central governments who are not long for this world, and who are literally fighting for their survival. Governments who find themselves under the western hammer cannot always afford the luxury of settling internal disputes nicely, or putting down armed rebel factions and terrorists with all affordable due process. If these rebels or terrorists are western-backed, or GCC-backed, then this condition becomes more acute. Certainly, the United States and its NATO allies, or Israel for that matter, do not afford such civility for any of its victims of collateral damage’ or during a protracted ‘humanitarian intervention’.


‘Agents of Change’ & Emotive Appeals

By now, it’s also a well-documented fact that America’s CIA and Pentagon intelligence departments have used an array of charities, aid organisations, and even religious missionary organisations as fronts for conducting espionage overseas, and with the prime directive of to further foreign policy objectives.

In recent years, however, under the banner of ‘human rights’, the US has developed some new and innovative methods of intelligence gathering and achieving an increased military footprint in new countries.

To reach these objectives, western governments enlist ‘change agents’.

No story serves as a better example of how a human rights organisation can be applied as a sharp tool of foreign policy than Kony 2012, described by the Atlantic Magazine as a viral video campaign which “reinforces a dangerous, centuries-old idea that Africans are helpless and that idealistic Westerners must save them.”

As viral social media campaigns go, Kony 2012 set a new standard for speed and efficiency in penetrating the western youth market. This effort was not with out help from mainstream corporate media in the US, and also from the US government in Washington DC.

Here, soft power was applied in order to manufacture public consent through an emotive public appeal which was eventually exposed as a gross distortion of reality. In this case, the antagonist was the illusive warlord Joseph Kony, leader of the Lords Resistance Army. According to their campaign, if the president could send a military force to “find Kony”, then many children would be saved in the process. The only problem was that no one had actually seen Kony in over 6 years, with rumors abound that Kony may even have died years earlier. This did not deter the campaign though, as organisers pressed ahead, raising millions along the way. The human rights charity which fronted the project, Invisible Children, actually targeted their viral campaign and fundraising drive at under aged American school children, and even drafted primary school students to raise money on the charity’s behalf. In the end, the project collapsed, but the ultimate objective was achieved: culminating with a successful public relations event and photo opportunity at the White House, and under cover of the Kony 2012 media campaign – President Barack Obama publicly deployed US military assets to Uganda under an expansion of US AFRICOM operations in Africa.

Trapped inside their own ideological controlled environment where every decision is a virtual fait accompli, western media and government officials will routinely refer to the human rights industry in order to provide a necessary moral back-stop for any foreign policy objective. This same practice is also repeated by the United Nations too, which often cites the very same statistics and reports used by Washington to back-up its foreign policy moves.

Independent human rights activist Rick Sterling explains this all too familiar cycle in today’s international affairs:

There is a pattern of sensational but untrue reports that lead to public acceptance of US and Western military intervention in countries around the world: In Gulf War 1, there were reports of Iraqi troops stealing incubators from Kuwait, leaving babies to die on the cold floor. Relying on the testimony of a Red Crescent doctor, Amnesty International ‘verified’ the false claims. Ten years later, there were reports of ‘yellow cake uranium’ going to Iraq for development of weapons of mass destruction. One decade later, there were reports of Libyan soldiers ‘drugged on Viagra and raping women as they advanced.’ In 2012, NBC broadcaster Richard Engel was supposedly kidnapped by ‘pro-Assad Syrian militia’ but luckily freed by Syrian opposition fighters, the “Free Syrian Army”. All these reports were later confirmed to be fabrications and lies. They all had the goal of manipulating public opinion and they all succeeded in one way or another. Despite the consequences, which were often disastrous, none of the perpetrators were punished or paid any price.



Strange Bedfellows: NATO, Amnesty and HRW

It’s no coincidence that nearly every foreign policy front the US State Department has prioritised is mirrored by Amnesty International USA. The US State Department together with the Pentagon, will also utilise social justice issues in order to advance a foreign policy objective. The most potent of these has to be gender identity politics, seen through the western lens as “woman’s rights”. By projecting this issue on to a non-favoured’ nation, western war planners can quickly construct an important leg in foreign policy messaging.

In 2012, Amnesty International USA ran a national billboard campaign with images depicting Afghan women and girls, accompanied by the slogan: “NATO: Keep the Progress Going.” Not surprisingly, at this same moment, western media were referring to NATO’s military operation in Afghanistan as “the first feminist war.” In its totality, this is one example of near perfect streamlined marketing campaign which tied together all branches of the interventionist network – the US State Department, the Pentagon, the mainstream media and Amnesty International. This cynical attempt to manipulate public opinion by Amnesty International, on behalf of the Pentagon and Brussels, could be traced back to one Amnesty patron, former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who in the 1990’s, famously remarked, “We think the price is worth it,” referring to the death of a half million Iraqi children as a result of crippling US economic sanctions.

In early 2015, Ken Roth, Director of Human Rights Watch, tweeted out an aerial image purporting to be from Kobane, Syria, showing a neighborhood reduced to rubble which he described as, “a drone’s eye tour of what Assad’s barrel bombs have done to Aleppo.” It turned out that Roth’s tweet was a forgery. The image he used was actually taken from Gaza the previous summer, showing the destruction of Palestinian neighborhoods at the hands of Israel’s IDF. This was another example of slipshod propaganda disseminated by high profile human right organization – expressly designed to demonise a foreign government that Washington nation builders are seeking to overthrow. It’s no surprise then that HRW would also appoint CIA operative Miguel Diaz to serve on its advisory board, or that Javier Solana, former Secretary General of NATO and architect of the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia (a war which HRW itself condemned in 2000) also serves on HRW’s board of directors.

Beyond the slick marketing and celebrity endorsements, in all actuality HRW is nothing more than a Cold War era propaganda relic which has been retrofitted to serve a 21st century Atlanticist geopolitical agenda. According to Washington DC-based transparency advocate Keane Bhatt, “HRW was originally called Helsinki Watch. It was created in 1978 during the Cold War to scrutinize and criticize the crimes that were being committed by the USSR and its allies. That Cold War ideology has long played a role in the kinds of priorities and advocacy that HRW engages in”.


Syria’s NGO Kaleidoscope

One of the most egregious examples of a NGO being used to reinforce a US-led geopolitical narrative is the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), created in 2006. Beyond the grandiose name, this ‘organisation’ is basically a one-man show which until recently, was run out of a one bedroom apartment in Coventry, England. SOHR is run by a Syrian dissident named Osama Ali Suleiman, commonly known in the media as “Rahmi Abdul Rahman”. The SOHR has played the key role in developing the all-important “facts on the ground” story for the Washington-London-Paris Axis seeking to topple the government in Damascus through its stoic policy of ‘regime change’ in Syria. When it comes to ‘official’ death toll numbers out of Syria, almost every mainstream report in the US and Europe has cited the SOHR as its data source with hardly a passing thought as to either the accuracy or the credibility of its numbers, and under which category death tolls are counted.

Despite the fact that the SOHR is closely affiliated with the US and UK-backed Syrian opposition, its data sets will often include casualty figures of ‘rebel forces’ (which will often include known foreign terrorist fighters) within its civilian casualty figures. These dubious figures are also used by a number of UN agencies, as well as leading human right organisations. Similarly, US, UK and European officials will frequently attribute a figure of 250,000 ‘Syrian deaths’ to civilians killed by “the regime” embodied by President Bashar al Assad. One week, a western official will quote a number of 150,000, and the next week it will be 350,000. As a result, most mainstream reports of Syria’s casualty figures are rife with bias and methodological inconsistencies, and as a result no one really seems to know the real figure. The larger the number, the more passionate the plea for western military intervention. Even the Council of the Foreign Relations is on record stating that the numbers being cited by the likes of John McCain simply don’t add up. Micah Zenko and Amelia M. Wolf of the CFR admitted in 2014 that, “most of the reported deaths in Syria have not been committed by forces under Bashar al-Assad’s command.” Meanwhile, western media, politicians and human rights organisations routinely ignore the fact that over 100,000 deaths since 2011 have been Syrian Army and Security personnel killed by foreign-backed militants and terrorists. Zenko later added that, “the types of interventions that proponents have endorsed for Syria … have almost nothing to do with how Syrian non-combatants are actually being killed.”

While the Syrian Conflict is a messy and tragic affair, with brutality and violence affecting every side of the fighting, readers should note exactly how this subtle, yet relentless western campaign of disinformation feeds neatly into the western policy of regime change embodied in the rhetorical demand that “Assad must go.” John Glaser from Antiwar.com adds here:

A common policy proposal to mitigate the mass suffering in Syria is for the U.S. to help the rebels and undermine the Assad regime, a scheme that just becomes ludicrous after looking at the data.


It should also be noted that the SOHR receives its funding directly from the EU, and also enjoys substantial support from the British Foreign Office – both of whom are actively seeking to overthrow the government in Syria through guerrilla proxies. At the very least this could be described as a conflict of interest. The SOHR is hardly ‘non partisan’ and more likely to be used as a tool to manufacture consensus for humanitarian intervention in Syria.
Intervention Digital Marketing

They say that ‘the road to tyranny is paved with good intentions’. That old adage couldn’t be more true today, despite all of our seemingly wonderful internet tools and ‘activist’ platforms online.

A key set piece in any nation building or humanitarian intervention is the ‘No Fly Zone’. Made famous during NATO’s Balkans War in Yugoslavia, the US-led Gulf Wars for Iraq, and later with NATO Libya, securing a No Fly Zone is essential for dictating the terms and conditions of any interventionalist program. The term has since developed an elastic quality and has been subtly altered into what many now refer to a “Safe Zone”, the idea being that by securing the skies above with western air power, the people below will be ‘safe.’

However, it’s still become a hard-sell because of negative connotations associated with past unpopular operation that have been viewed western wars of aggression. New technology is needed in order to repackage and market this damaged brand.

The internet and social networking have provided just that, where a myriad of social networking online petition web portals have been launched in recent years, the most prominent of which is the online organization Avaaz.org was co-founded in 2007 by Res Publica and Moveon.org, and whose funding sources include the George Soros’ Open Society umbrella foundation network. Key founders and players include Tom Perriello, Ricken Patel, Tom Pravda, Jeremy Heimans, David Madden, Eli Pariser and Andrea Woodhouse, each of whom have working relationships with the UN and World Bank, and coordinate with US-controlled institutions like the UN Security Council and UN Human Rights Council.

According to the Avaaz website, their mission is to “organise citizens of all nations to close the gap between the world we have and the world most people everywhere want.”

Non-profit Avaaz works closely with its for-profit arm, New York City-based PR firm Purpose, which refers to itself as a “proud public benefit corporation.”

It is important to understand that by their own admission, these organizations are not meant to be purely altruistic, but rather are enterprise businesses. In her article entitled “The Rise of the Movement Entrepreneur and its Impact on Business”, writer Allison Goldberg explains the ‘big idea’ which is used a wrapping for their self-styled social license:

The rise of new technology has drastically lowered the barrier to movement creation while providing an alternative to established institutions, formerly seen as the route to reform. Instead of relying on government bodies or other established organizations often weighed down by bureaucracy, entrepreneurs are utilizing the power of social media to mobilize the masses in favor of large-scale change. As a result, organizations have arisen such as Avaaz.org, which defines itself as “the campaigning community bringing people-powered politics to decision-making worldwide.” Avaaz now boasts seven million members worldwide.


Together, Avaaz and Purpose create the language and the online consensus-building tools. While maintaining the illusion of grassroots activists advocating for human rights, the core function of their public relations campaigns are outcome-based, or to help herd public opinion in order to provide a pretext for multilateral institutions like the the IMF and NATO to implement programs like economic sanctions, or military intervention.

In 2012 and 2013, Avaaz campaigns featured a number of large online petitions which demanded that international bodies (like the UN) send “3,000 international monitors” into the country, and that Western military powers (like NATO) impose a ‘No-Fly Zone’ over the entire country in order to “save innocent lives.” One petion read as follows:

To the Arab League, European Union, United States, and Friends of Syria: As global citizens, we call on you to take immediate action to stop the deadly terror in Syria. Enough is enough. We ask you to immediately demand a ceasefire to stop the bloodshed so that parties can come to the negotiating table to agree on a way forward. Until a ceasefire is reached, we call on you to work together and with the international community to enforce a no fly zone to stop the bombardment of Syria’s civilians and ensure that humanitarian aid reaches those most in need.


Again, another NGO public relations messaging campaign mirroring foreign policy planks from the US State Department and Washington’s defense community.

On Avaaz’s website you can often find a number of sensational claims. During their No-Fly-Zone campaign cycle this statement appeared:

The Syrian air force just dropped chlorine gas bombs on children. Their little bodies gasped for air on hospital stretchers as medics held back tears, and watched as they suffocated to death.


Unfortunately [for Avaaz], the incident in question never actually happened.

Rick Sterling explains:

Many well-intentioned but naive members of the U.S. and international public are again being duped into signing an Avaaz petition based on fraud and misinformation. If the campaign succeeds in leading to a No Fly Zone in Syria, it will result in vastly increased war, mayhem and bloodshed.


The following illustration outlines to sequence of events that eventually lead to Avaaz calling for a ‘No Fly Zone’ in Syria.

Image


One organization championed in Avaaz marketing campaigns is a ‘neutral’ organization called the Syrian Civil Defense also known as the ‘White Helmets‘.

Writer Vanessa Beeley explains the all-too familiar funding sources for the White Helmets in her article entitled, Syria’s White Helmets: War by Way of Deception – Part I:

The White Helmets were established in March 2013, in Istanbul, Turkey, and is headed by James Le Mesurier, a British “security” specialist and ‘ex’-British military intelligence officer with an impressive track record in some of the most dubious NATO intervention theatres including Bosnia and Kosovo, as well as Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine. Le Mesurier is a product of Britain’s elite Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, and has also been placed in a series of high-profile pasts at the United Nations, European Union, and U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The origins of The White Helmet’s initial $300k seed funding is a little hazy, reports are contradictory but subsequent information leads us to conclude that the UK, US and the ‘Syrian opposition’ (or Syrian National Council, parallel government backed an funded by the US, UK and allies) are connected. Logistical support has been provided and given by Turkish elite natural disaster response team, AKUT. A further $13 million was poured into the White Helmet coffers during 2013 and this is where it gets interesting. Early reports suggest that these “donations” came from the US, UK and SNC with the previously explored connections to George Soros in the US. However, subsequent investigations reveal that USAID has been a major shareholder in the White Helmet organisation. The website for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) claims that, “our work supports long-term and equitable economic growth and advances U.S. foreign policy objectives by supporting: economic growth, agriculture and trade; global health; and, democracy, conflict prevention and humanitarian assistance.” In a USAID report update in July 2015 it is clearly stated that they have supplied over $ 16m in assistance to the White Helmets.


Regarding USAID, Beeley adds that:

The USAID track record as a primary US Government/CIA regime change facilitator is extensively documented. From South America to the Ukraine and in the Middle East, USAID serve a malevolent and ultimately destructive role in the dismantling of sovereign nations and their reduction to western hegemony vassal states, as always, all in the name of freedom and democracy.


Even more crucial in this case, is evidence that links the White Helmets to militant fighting groups in Syria, including al Nusra Front (al Qaeda in Syria). While this does not prove anything beyond association between members of both organizations, it’s significant when one considers that both organizations are receiving material and financial support from the same member nations of the US-led Coalition.


Geopolitically Correct

For all practical purposes, as a moral and ethical tenet, ‘human rights’ is an anomaly in any western military action.

How one frames a story determines its thesis. In the 21st century, the concept of human rights has been weaponised, pointed at nonaligned and independent nation-states who are seen as obstacles to American and European market-makers and nation builders. A number of target states not geopolitically aligned with the US, NATO or the GCC, are yet to be absorbed, seduced, conquered, or as in the case of Libya, completely collapsed, or in the case of Syria – completely dismembered. These include states listed by former US General and NATO Supreme Commander, Wesley Clark, in his Commonwealth Club speech in San Francisco in 2007. During the event, Clark intimated a conversation he had after a classified defense briefing where a Pentagon source had told him weeks after 9/11 of the Pentagon’s plan to attack Iraq, as well as a “coup” being plotted by Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz along with “a half dozen other collaborators from the Project for the New American Century”. According to Clark, his told him about seven countries which were slated for overthrow: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran.

It should also be noted that both Wesley Clark and George Soros serve on the board of trustees of The International Crisis Group.

For any of these unlucky states, a sustained US or ‘Coalition’ military campaign means that a nation can be under attack 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and yet, that nation and its residents are given no quarter by western human rights organizations, governments or media. A perfect example of this is Saudi Arabia’s highly illegal undeclared war of aggression against its neighbor Yemen which began in the spring of 2015.

It’s worth noting here, that despite its own hotly contested human rights record, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was somehow managed to get elected to the UN’s prestigious Human Rights Council (UNHRC). Evidence suggests that this appointment was facilitated in part by British officials as part of a larger quid pro quo arrangement. According to classified Saudi foreign ministry files that were passed to Wikileaks in June 2015, and translated by Geneva-based UN Watch and revealed how UK initiated the secret negotiations by asking Saudi Arabia for its support. Eventually, both countries were elected to the 47 member state UNHRC. The following passage from the leaked cables reveals how a clear deal was struck:

The ministry might find it an opportunity to exchange support with the United Kingdom, where the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would support the candidacy of the United Kingdom to the membership of the council for the period 2014-2015 in exchange for the support of the United Kingdom to the candidacy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.


According to The Guardian another cable revealed a Saudi Arabia transfer of $100,000 for “expenditures resulting from the campaign to nominate the Kingdom for membership of the human rights council for the period 2014-2016”. At the time of their report, no one knows how this money was spent.

In addition, it was later shown that Saudi Arabia pledged $1 million to UNHRC prior to winning the its seat. Then rather amazingly (or not), in the fall of 2015, the UN appointed Saudi as Chair of the UNHRC.

When pressed on the matter, a Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokeswoman said, “as is standard practice with all members, we never reveal our voting intentions or the way we vote.”

This was followed by a standard, throwaway PR platitude:

The British government strongly promotes human rights around the world and we raise our human rights concerns with the Saudi Arabian authorities.


While its commendable that Saudi officials would want to take a leading role in advocating for international human rights, one cannot ignore the political hypocrisy at play considering Riyadh’s own soiled laundry regarding this issue which includes, among other items, the sanctioning of more than a 150 beheadings in 2015 – a number believed to be even higher than Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS).

To make matters worse, the controversial Saudi appointment also took place amid the a new diplomatic row over a lucrative UK prison building contract in the Kingdom and the proposed execution of 17 year old Shia student activist, Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, who was sentenced to ‘death by crucifixion’ for joining an anti-government demonstration.

Consider the amount of political and media campaigning against the government of Syria over numerous and largely unfounded allegations, where an international network comprised of the US State Department, UK Foreign Office, the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) lobby, HRW and humanitarian interventionist luminaries are all backing a policy of regime change in Syria – and then contrast this with Saudi Arabia’s proven record on human rights and abuse of power. It’s impossible not to see the double standard.

As far as the Western political establishment are concerned, if there are any human rights violations or any local casualties mounting in one of its many dirty wars, geopolitical correctness dictates that these are either ignored or neatly filed away as an inconvenient consequence of America’s ‘national security’ or an unfortunate byproduct “collateral damage” along the road to international progress, peace and prosperity (democracy). Because it crosses swords with the US State Department, or NATO HQ, pubic pressure by humanitarian organizations like HRW and Amnesty USA is relatively nonexistent.

Outside of the theater of combat, the international community is also faced with the inconvenient dilemma of illegal detentions of supposed ‘enemy combatants’, ‘enhanced interrogation’ (torture) and ‘extrajudicial killings’ (assassinations). These are the politically correct terms for the age of western militarisation.

Again, because of “bad optics” in Washington DC very little attention or pressure is applied by marquee international human rights charities.

The human rights industry also has its own politically correct lexicon and identifiers like ‘defectors’, ‘detainees’, ‘activists’ and a new emerging category of ‘activist-journalists’. Sometimes these terms can be accurate, but in a war theater like Syria, they are often euphemisms for actors in full spectrum information warfare. In the case of Syria, this information warfare is designed to embolden a foreign-backed opposition, but more importantly, to apply sustained public relations pressure towards an end goal of regime change.


The WMD Ritual

Conjuring a ‘WMD’ subplot in order to trigger a humanitarian intervention has become commonplace in western foreign policy. After being exposed as a momentous lie in Iraq in 2003, this set-back did not stop Washington from aggressively pursuing the same narrative in Syria in 2013. Fortunately, the Syrian WMD narrative collapsed in the aftermath of a failed false flag Sarin gas attack that turned out to be orchestrated by US Coalition-backed ‘moderate’ rebels52. It was hardly a coincidence then to discover that HRW was the NGO tasked with providing the ‘smoking gun’ Washington and London needed to make their R2P case in August 2013.

Elizabeth Palmer reported for CBS News at the time, “on Tuesday, the group Human Rights Watch issued a report that said evidence strongly implies that Syrian government troops’ firing of rockets containing a nerve agent into a Damascus suburb on August 21 that the U.S. said killed over 1,400 people.” In the end, this turned out to be another epic lie.

While the US-led ‘Coalition’ is quick to seize upon spurious WMD narratives against its geopolitical targets, it will routinely ignore common Geneva Convention violations like Israel’s use of deadly white phosphorous in Gaza, the use of depleted uranium munitions by American military units in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabian cluster bombs being dropped on Yemeni civilians.


Western Institutionalised Bias

Wars, whether conventional or covert, are a dirty business.

One argument that the western human rights industry judicially avoids is that an armed opposition cannot rightly be classified as a ‘political opposition’, so long as it is armed. This could certainly be the case in Syria. Syrian president Assad explained this dilemma during his 2015 interview with CBS News anchor Charlie Rose, stating that “whenever you hold a gun, and kill people, and destroy public buildings, destroy private properties, that’s terrorism.”

Although most foreign policy officials in Washington DC would beg to differ, especially if the opposition in question is receiving weapons, cash or logistical support from the US or its allies. Assad futher clarifies the position and also exposes the fallacy in western rhetoric, explaining:

The word opposition, everywhere in the world, including your country, is a political opposition. Do you have military opposition in the United States? Would you accept it? You wouldn’t, and we wouldn’t. No-one accepts military opposition.


During his speech at Columbia University in 2006, Australian journalist and filmmaker John Pilger explained:

The oldest cliché is that truth is the first casualty of war. I disagree. Journalism is the first casualty. Not only that: it has become a weapon of war, a virulent censorship that goes unrecognized in the United States, Britain, and other democracies; censorship by omission, whose power is such that, in war, it can mean the difference between life and death for people in faraway countries.


Pilger’s reference can especially be applied to the institutional media bias that has underpinned the long running international war which the Middle East and Central Asia finds itself currently embroiled in. Some might argue that even if western human rights organisations could somehow be cured of their systemic bias towards Washington and CFR foreign policy narratives – their needs to be an overhaul in defining the concept and the context of what ‘human rights’ are in real terms. A fresh look needs to take into account a level of western subterfuge which maybe western politicians and media are not yet ready to acknowledge.


In Conclusion

Indeed, it was ‘human rights’ campaigning which led directly to the illegal bombing of Libya (NATO’s aggressive bombing campaign in Libya was not authorized in the UNSC Resolution 1973 which only called for a ‘No-Fly Zone’, and should therefore be considered illegal under international law), where the West’s sole intent was to topple the government of Muammar Gaddafi. Regrettably, thousands of innocent civilians died in the process and the nation state of Libya quickly collapsed, separating into sub-regional, tribal and lawless militant enclaves.

The lesson of Libya was stark. The world should have taken note, but unfortunately it did not. Instead, onlookers saw then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who, when asked during a CBS News interview about the removal of the Libyan president, could only cackle and laughingly joke, “we came, we saw, he died.”

Is this the new tone of humanitarianism?

Both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch regularly solicit support from Hollywood celebrities and international recording artists, and spend millions of dollars per year producing films which depict situations around the world through their own political lens. To date, they have yet to produce a film showing the other unsavory side of the ‘rebel insurgency’ in Syria. Is this because that might undermine the entire US and NATO member foreign policy?

The public and private sponsors of NGO’s like HRW and Amnesty have invested, not donated, hundreds of millions collectively into these organisations so that they can portray world events in such a way that will enable their own corporate aspirations to be met. No matter how idealistic the rhetoric might sound coming from leading human rights organisations, the money could stop flowing if they discontinued manufacturing consent for wars.

This also raises the question of whether or not a non-governmental organisation that champions the issue of human rights can remain apolitical – as many such organizations claim to be. What would happen should such an organisation dare to adopt a truly righteous geopolitical (not political) stance advocating opposition to destructive western imperialist policies? Would western governments move to withdraw their 501c3 or tax exempt status which allows these charities to maintain their viability as a nonprofit organisation?

Once again, if conflicts of interest and revolving doors between government and charities are not properly addressed, it could eventually undermine the integrity of the entire NGO sector internationally. Corruption at the top of the pyramid also threatens to damage countless other small to medium sized organisations who do not have access to the US State Department or Hollywood, but who are still performing important services and engaged in real civic aid projects.

For human right organisations to be in lock-step with the US State Department, or hiring military operatives as board members and chief executives, is simply inexcusable by any social standard.


If the international community is to advance beyond defunct neocolonialist paradigms, it will need to place compassion ahead of policy, and humanity ahead of profits. Only then can the reality live up to the rhetoric.



[Author Patrick Henningsen is founder and editor of the news and analysis website 21st Century Wire, and is an independent foreign and political affairs analyst for RT International. He is also the host of the SUNDAY WIRE radio program which airs live every Sunday on the Alternate Current Radio Network. Find out more at: http://www.patrickhenningsen.com]

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Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

Postby American Dream » Tue Nov 06, 2018 10:14 am

http://www.syriauk.org/2018/11/the-un-a ... egime.html

The UN aid convoy and the Assad regime torture chief

Image
Who is responsible for Rukban camp? Above: Jamil Hassan, head of Syrian Air Force Intelligence, wanted on criminal charges in Germany and France; Gavin Williamson, UK Defence Minister; Jim Mattis, US Secretary of Defense; Abdullah II, King of Jordan.

On Saturday, a UN aid convoy from Damascus reached Rukban Camp in the Tanf Deconfliction Zone, southern Syria.

On Monday, international arrest warrants issued by French judges against three high-ranking Syrian regime officials were made public.

These two stories are connected—here’s how:

French judges issued the international arrest warrants on 8 October 2018, but they were first made public on 5 November. The three Syrian regime officials named are Ali Mamlouk, Jamil Hassan, and Abdel Salam Mahmoud. They are charged with complicity to crimes against humanity and (for Mahmoud) war crimes, in connection with the disappearance, torture and death of dual Syrian-French nationals, Mazen and Patrick Dabbagh.

Jamil Hassan, head of Syrian Air Force Intelligence, is also subject to an international arrest warrant issued by Germany’s federal prosecutor in June of this year for his role in the deaths of ‘at least hundreds of people’ between 2011-2013 in Syrian prisons.

Jamil Hassan has been under EU and US sanctions since 2011.

Jamil Hassan personally signs the facilitation letters that permit UN agencies and NGOs to make aid deliveries inside Syria. No UN aid moves through Damascus without his signature. For years this meant that little or no UN aid was allowed to reach civilians under siege by the Assad regime.

Saturday’s UN aid convoy from Damascus was to Rukban, a camp of 50,000 or more civilians on the border with Jordan, outside of regime-controlled territory in the Tanf Deconfliction Zone, an area around the US-UK Coalition’s Tanf base. This UN convoy was the first aid delivered there since January, when aid was delivered across the Jordanian border by crane.

The government of Jordan (a UK ally and recipient of UK aid money) has been restricting cross-border aid to Rukban since 2016, while the Assad regime has been resisting calls to allow cross-line aid from Damascus.

Rukban camp is inside the Tanf Deconfliction Zone, an area militarily controlled by the US-UK Coalition. The zone is defended both against ISIS and against pro-Assad forces by the Royal Air Force and other Coalition forces. The zone is patrolled on the ground by Maghaweir al-Thowra (MaT) which is a local Syrian militia trained at Tanf base by UK and US forces, and equipped and paid by the US-UK Coalition.

Under Geneva Convention IV, the US and UK as occupying powers have duties to civilians in the Tanf zone, including the duty to bring in food and medical aid themselves when UN cross-border and cross-line aid deliveries fail.

Despite this, the US-UK Coalition has sought to evade responsibility for Rukban camp. On 20 October 2018, the Financial Times reported Colonel Sean Ryan, a spokesperson for the US-UK Calition, as saying that Rukban camp was a “humanitarian concern but not technically part of our military operation.”

Rather than take full direct responsibility for civilians in the US-UK area of military occupation, the US and UK have left the civilians in Rukban dependent on the signature of Jamil Hassan, Assad’s torture chief in Damascus, the same criminal who is now subject to international arrest warrants from both Germany and France. Survivors of Assad’s starvation sieges in Daraya, Madaya, Moadamiya and elsewhere can testify to the immorality of this policy.

Today we see small steps forward on accountability for Syrian regime crimes. The US-UK Coalition also need to be held legally accountable for their actions and inactions. The UK and its allies must now do their duty towards civilians in the Tanf zone.
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Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

Postby Elvis » Tue Nov 06, 2018 4:28 pm

American Dream wrote:http://www.syriauk.org/2018/11/the-un-a ... egime.html


syriauk has been amply and clearly shown to be a USUK/NATO propaganda mouthpiece, but you studiously ignore that dimension. It's a mystery to me why you sympathetically and uncritically flood this board with such underhanded neoliberal disinfo—again and again and again and again and again.

Whatever the reason, the effect is the same.
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Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

Postby JackRiddler » Sat Nov 10, 2018 2:15 pm

.

Continuing debate on Giovanni in NYRB and White Helmets.

https://mronline.org/2018/11/09/western ... e-helmets/


mronline.org
MR Online

Western media attacks critics of the White Helmets

Posted Nov 09, 2018 by Eds.
Originally published: True Publica
by Rick Sterling
(November 3, 2018)



The October 16 issue of NY Review of Books has an article by Janine di Giovani titled “Why Assad and Russia Target the White Helmets”. The article exemplifies how western media promotes the White Helmets uncritically and attacks those who challenge the myth.

Giovani’s article attacks several journalists by name. She singles out Vanessa Beeley and echoes the Guardian’s characterization of Beeley as the “high priestess of Syria propaganda”. She does this without challenging a single article or claim by the journalist. She might have acknowledged that Vanessa Beeley has some familiarity with the Middle East; she is the daughter of one of the foremost British Arabists and diplomats including British Ambassador to Egypt. Giovanni might have explored Beeley’s research in Syria that revealed the White Helmets founder (British military contractor James LeMesurier) assigned the name Syria Civil Defence despite the fact there is a real Syrian organization by that name that has existed since the 1950’s. For the past several years, Beeley has done many on-the-ground reports and investigations in Syria. None of these are challenged by Giovanni. Just days ago Beeley published a report on her visit to the White Helmets headquarters in Deraa.

Giovanni similarly dismisses another alternative journalist, Eva Bartlett. Again, Giovanni ignores the fact that Bartlett has substantial Middle East experience including having lived in Gaza for years. Instead of objectively evaluating the journalistic work of these independent journalists, Giovanni smears their work as “disinformation”. Presumably that is because their work is published at alternative sites such as 21st Century Wire and Russian media such as RT and Sputnik. Beeley and Bartlett surely would have been happy to have their reports published at the New York Review of Books, Newsweek or other mainstream outlets. But it’s evident that such reporting is not welcome there. Even Seymour Hersh had to go abroad to have his investigations on Syria published.

The New McCarthyism

Max Blumenthal is another journalist singled out by Giovanni. Blumenthal is the author of three books, including a NY Times bestseller and the highly acclaimed “Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel”. Giovanni describes his transition from “anti-Assad” to “pro-Assad” and suggests his change of perspective was due to Russian influence. She says, “Blumenthal went to Moscow on a junket to celebrate RT’s tenth anniversary. We don’t know what happened during that visit, but afterwards, Blumenthal’s views completely flipped.” Instead of examining the facts presented by Blumenthal in articles such as “Inside the Shadowy PR Firm that’s Lobyying for Regime Change in Syria”, Giovanni engages in fact-free McCarthyism. Blumenthal explained the transition in his thinking in a public interview. He also described the threats he experienced when he started to criticize the White Helmets and their public relations firm, but this is ignored by Giovanni.

Contrary to Giovanni’s assumptions, some western journalists and activists were exposing the White Helmets long before the story was publicized on Russian media. In spring 2015 the basic facts about the White Helmets including their origins, funding and role in the information war on Syria were exposed in my article “Seven Steps of Highly Effective Manipulators”. The article showed how the White Helmets were a key component in a campaign pushing for a “No Fly Zone” in Syria. It confirmed that the White Helmets is a political lobby force.

In spring 2016, Vanessa Beeley launched a petition “Do NOT give the Nobel Peace Prize to the White Helmets”. That petition garnered more support than a contrary petition urging the Nobel Prize committee to give the award to the White Helmets. Perhaps because of that, the petition was abruptly removed without explanation from the Change.org website. It was only at this time, with publicity around the heavily promoted nomination of the White Helmets for a Nobel Peace Prize that RT and other Russian media started to publicize and expose the White Helmets. That is one and a half years after they were first exposed in western alternative media.

White Helmets and Chemical Weapons Accusations

Giovanni ignores the investigations and conclusions of some of the most esteemed American journalists regarding the White Helmets and chemical weapons incidents in Syria.

The late Robert Parry published many articles exposing the White Helmets, for example, The White Helmets Controversy and Syria War Propaganda at the Oscars. Parry wrote and published numerous investigations of the August 2013 chemical weapons attack and concluded the attacks were carried out by an opposition faction with the goal of pressuring the U.S. to intervene militarily. Parry also challenged western conclusions regarding incidents such as April 4, 2017 at Khan Shaykhun. Giovanni breathlessly opens her article with this story while Parry revealed the impossibility of it being as described:

Buried deep inside a new U.N. report is evidence that could exonerate the Syrian government in the April 4 sarin atrocity and make President Trump look like an Al Qaeda dupe.

Legendary American journalist, Seymour Hersh, researched and refuted the assumptions of Giovanni and the media establishment regarding the August 2013 chemical weapons attacks near Damascus. Hersh’s investigation, titled The Red Line and Rat Line, provided evidence the atrocity was carried out by an armed opposition group with active support from Turkey. A Turkish member of parliament provided additional evidence. The fact that Hersh had to go across the Atlantic to have his investigation published suggests American not Russian disinformation and censorship.

In addition to ignoring the findings of widely esteemed journalists with proven track records, Giovanni plays loose with the truth. In her article she implies that a UN investigation blamed the Syrian government for the August 2013 attack. On the contrary, the head of the UN investigation team, Ake Sellstrom, said they did not determine who was responsible.

We do not have the evidence to say who did what….The conflict in Syria is surrounded by a lot of rumors and a lot of propaganda, particularly when comes to the sensitive issue of chemical weapons.

First Responders or Western Funded Propagandists?
Giovanni says, “But the White Helmets’ financial backing is not the real reason why the pro-Assad camp is so bent on defaming them. Since 2015, the year the Russians began fighting in Syria, the White Helmets have been filming attacks on opposition-held areas with GoPro cameras affixed to their helmets.”

In reality, the ‘White Helmets” have a sophisticated media production and distribution operation. They have much more than GoPro cameras. In many of their movie segments one can see numerous people with video and still cameras. Sometimes the same incident will be shown with one segment with an Al Qaeda logo blending into the same scene with a White Helmets logo.

Giovanni claims “The Assad regime and the Russians are trying to neutralize the White Helmets because they are potential witnesses to war crimes.” However the claims of White Helmet “witnesses” have little credibility. The White Helmet “volunteers” are paid three times as much as Syrian soldiers. They are trained, supplied and promoted by the same western states which have sought to regime change in Syria since 2011. An example of misleading and false claims by a White Helmets leader is exposed in Gareth Porter’s investigation titled “How a Syrian White Helmets Leader Played Western Media”. His conclusion could be directed to Giovanni and the New York Review of Books:

The uncritical reliance on claims by the White Helmets without any effort to investigate their credibility is yet another telling example of journalistic malpractice by media outlets with a long record of skewing coverage of conflicts toward an interventionist narrative.

When the militants (mostly Nusra / al Qaeda) were expelled from East Aleppo, civilians reported that the White Helmets were mostly concerned with saving their own and performing publicity stunts. For example the photo of the little boy in east Aleppo looking dazed and confused in the back of a brand new White Helmet ambulance was essentially a White Helmet media stunt eagerly promoted in the West. It was later revealed the boy was not injured, he was grabbed without his parent’s consent. Eva Bartlett interviewed and photographed the father and family for her story “Mintpress Meets the Father of Iconic Aleppo Boy and says Media Lied About his Son”.

A Brilliant Marketing Success

The media and political impact of the White Helmets shows what money and marketing can do. An organization that was founded by a military contractor with funding from a western governments was awarded the Rights Livelihood Award. The organization was seriously considered to received the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize just three years after its formation.

The Netflix infomercial “The White Helmets” is an example of the propaganda. The scripted propaganda piece, where the producers did not set foot in Syria, won the Oscar award for best short documentary. It’s clear that lots of money and professional marketing can fool a lot of people. At $30 million per year, the White Helmets budget for one year is more than a decade of funding for the real Syrian Civil Defence which covers all of Syria not just pockets controlled by armed insurgents.

Unsurprisingly, it has been announced that White Helmets will receive the 2019 “Elie Wiesel” award from the heavily politicized and pro-Israel Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. This, plus the recent “rescue” of White Helmets by the Israeli government, is more proof of the true colors of the White Helmets. Vanessa Beeley’s recent interview with a White Helmet leader in Deraa revealed that ISIS and Nusra terrorists were part of the group “rescued” through Israel.

The Collapsing White Helmets Fraud

Giovanni is outraged that some journalists have successfully challenged and put a big dent in the White Helmets aura. She complains, “The damage the bloggers do is immense.”

Giovanni and western propagandists are upset because the myth is deflating. Increasing numbers of people–from a famous rock musician to a former UK Ambassador–see and acknowledge the reality.

As described in Blumenthal’s article, “How the White Helmets Tried to Recruit Roger Waters with Saudi Money”, rock legend Roger Waters says,

If we were to listen to the propaganda of the White Helmets and others, we would encourage our governments to start dropping bombs on people in Syria. This would be a mistake of monumental proportions…

Peter Ford, the former UK Ambassador to Syria, sums it up like this:

The White Helmets are jihadi auxiliaries…They are not, as claimed by themselves and by their supporters…simple rescuers. They are not volunteers. They are paid professionals of disinformation.

Giovanni claims her article is a “forensic takedown of the Russian disinformation campaign to distort the truth in Syria.” In reality, Giovanni’s article is an example of western disinformation using subjective attacks on critics and evidence-free assertions aligned with the regime change goals of the West.

Rick Sterling is an investigative journalist. He can be contacted at rsterling1@gmail.com.

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Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

Postby Elvis » Sat Nov 10, 2018 7:07 pm

Rick Sterling wrote:Giovanni claims her article is a “forensic takedown of the Russian disinformation campaign to distort the truth in Syria.” In reality, Giovanni’s article is an example of western disinformation using subjective attacks on critics and evidence-free assertions aligned with the regime change goals of the West.


Thanks—one of the best summaries of Western media "coverage" of the White Helmets.

Have you seen Giovanni's PR headshot? I have seldom seen such a smug expression. As a journalist she is worse than useless. As a lying, sophistic propagandist she's fairly good.

As I pointed out before, just look at her affiliations—the usual neoliberal/fascist bodies.
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Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

Postby JackRiddler » Sat Nov 10, 2018 7:54 pm

Not sure which picture you mean, I find some of them sympatico.

[link wouldn't parse, just a google image search of her name]

But getting to less subjective matters, I guess you mean CFR?
https://www.janinedigiovanni.com/subscribe/

Biography And Field Experience

As of September 2017, Janine di Giovanni will be the Edward Murrow Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Affairs in New York researching minorities in the Middle East. She is the former Middle East editor of Newsweek and a recent Pakis Scholar at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, where she focused on Track 2 Diplomacy, International Law and International Security.

In 2016, she was awarded the Courage in Journalism Award for her distinguished work in war zones focusing on tracking war criminals over the past 25 years, most recently, Syria. She is a contributing editor to Vanity Fair.

Currently working in Syria and Iraq, she is focusing on ISIS and other insurgency groups in the Middle East, but her overall thesis is on talking to non-state actors to reduce conflict and providing political representation post-war to minorities.

Her most recent book, “The Morning They Came for Us: Dispatches from Syria” has been called “searing and necessary” by the New York Times and has won three awards a well as being named one of the best human rights books in 2016. It has been translated into 18 languages. It was shortlisted for the Helen Bernstein Award at the New York Public Library for Excellence in Journalism.

di Giovanni is also a skilled analyst, communicator and strategist, a non-resident International Security Fellow at the New America Foundation and an Associate Fellow at The Geneva Centre for Security Policy, where she moderated their geopolitical debate series. She is a former Ochberg Fellow at Columbia School of Journalism, given in recognition of her work with victims of trauma. She is a frequent moderator of high-level panels, an analyst on foreign policy at conferences and has worked for the World Economic Forum, the World Bank, the UN, Harvard’s Kennedy School; Princeton, the LSE, and many other institutions. In 2014, she also worked for the Center for Conflict, Negotiation and Recovery at Central European University with a focus on transitional justice in Aleppo.

Her TED talk on conflict resolution and transitional justice, filmed at the USIP, has reached 1 million viewers. She is a former adviser on the Syria conflict to the UNHCR, and has advised senior officials on policy for the EU, NATO and others. She was a delegate to William Hague’s conference on addressing sexual violence during conflict and has published extensively on the subject.

As a journalist, she has reported war, conflict and its aftermath for more than 25 years in the Middle East, the Balkans and Africa. She has witnessed the siege of Sarajevo, the fall of Grozny and the destruction of Srebrenica and Rwanda in 1994 as well as more than a dozen active conflicts where she was a front-line witness. Her documentation of war crimes has resulted in eight books and her work has been used to cite criminals in later Tribunals.

She has won nine awards, including the National Magazine Award (for her work in Vanity Fair on Kosovo war crimes) and “The Morning They Came for Us: Dispatches from Syria” and has been the subject of two long-format documentaries, including 7 Days in Syria.

Di Giovanni is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She lives in Paris and holds American, British and French nationalities.

She has worked extensively in the following war and conflict zones and during humanitarian crisis: Palestine/Israel; Bosnia; Serbia; Kosovo; Montenegro; Albania; East Timor; Zimbabwe; Somalia; Ivory Coast; Nigeria; Liberia; Sierra Leone; Burkina Faso; Burundi; Rwanda; South Africa; Egypt; Syria; Libya; Tunisia; Lebanon; Iraq; Iran; Afghanistan; Pakistan; India; Bahrain; UAE; Algeria; Turkey Greece; Vietnam and other countries.
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Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

Postby Elvis » Sun Nov 11, 2018 1:32 am

JackRiddler wrote:But getting to less subjective matters, I guess you mean CFR?


Yes, and I thought Atlantic Council too, but I don't find that affiliation after all, must have been someone else. Then there's World Bank, mideast editor at Newsweak, and Jackson Institute for Global Affairs.

An example of shoddy reporting, at Newsweak:

In a Newsweek article titled "The Fall of France" in 2014, di Giovanni wrote an extensive criticism of the French social and taxation systems. Following publication, a number of points she cited to support her argument were deemed inaccurate. "Les décodeurs", the fact-checking blog of the French newspaper Le Monde, reported nine mistakes.[14] These mistakes included "The top tax rate is 75 percent, and a great many pay in excess of 70 percent" when in actuality it is "companies not individuals who must pay this tax, which only applies to salaries over a million euros".[15] Additionally her claim of milk costing €3 a half liter in Paris and nappies being free to new mothers were inaccurate as, "the price of milk, which they pointed out, costs around €1.30 a litre, while neither creches nor nappies are free".[16] The article was also severely criticised by Pierre Moscovici, the French Minister of Economy.[17]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janine_di_Giovanni


Sure, some of her thinking is right enough (Palestine e.g.). But "Why Assad and Russia Target the White Helmets” speaks volumes; what else do we need to know? She's been flogging that article to a bloody pulp in her Twitter feedbag,.

Pertinent to topic, she also defends the amateur-hour propaganda-puker Bellingcat, whom I will shortly give a good thrashing here.
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Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

Postby JackRiddler » Tue Nov 13, 2018 11:49 pm

.

But the no-fly-zoners at Bellingcat did naively provide an incredible service to the case for why intervening in Syria is insane (somewhere far upthread at this point) with their meticulous breakdown of the 57 different armed factions there as of 2015ish. Which they thought was supposed to school the non-interventionists on how "complicated" it all is.

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Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

Postby Joe Hillshoist » Wed Nov 14, 2018 2:06 am

Elvis » 23 Oct 2018 12:53 wrote:Rigorous, critical analysis doesn't get much better than this:




Bloody hell I'd hope it would.

i found that article to be problematic and basically propaganda.

I'm not saying everything in it is bullshit - far from it but its no different to anything in the MSM, which it repeatedly criticises then uses for support.

Just little details like failing to mention that Amnesty International investigated its own report into the Iraq Kuwait incubator murders within a year and found them to be false. It then publicised this.

The article also mentions Madeline Albright's influence on some AI pro Aghanistan war billboards from 2012 or thereabout but provides nothing other than the assertion she was responsible and a quick reference to her shit comments from the 90s. Not an actual reference of the intellectual, or academic or even the kind wikipedia expects which is just something.

A no fly zone is a military term with clear military aims. Its got nothing to do with humanitarianism. the author even admits we all associate the term with western wars of aggression. FFS.

He then criticises a petition platform because anyone can use it to say anything, despite the fact that this is what those things are for. They are new media and just like old media they can be used for propaganda. I dunno if he put the bit about AVAAZ right after the no fly zone bit because he wanted to link them or is a shoddy writer but it comes across if he is trying to build a link. He is basically trying to make Jeremy Heimens out to be a NWO operative (and that may be true but he needs to build an argument that can stand up and that might not be that easy cos it may or may not be true).

Heimens founded GetUp! which Australian politician Eric Abetz (nephew of Brigadeführer Otto Abetz who was the "ambassador' to occupied France in ww2) claimed was a Soros front. Nothing awkward about that little shit fight i'm sure. Its hard to find anything wrong with GetUp! so whatever Soros' money has done on that front ...,. good on him.

I could go on and on.

AI is an international organisation and the appointment of Nossel and whatever she has done since really could do with more serious investigation - granted. (Maybe its been done I dunno. Its sus tho as is the association of Phillip Ruddock with AI (look him up).

RT is simply the MSM for the powerful interests in the world that don't support the US. CBS, the Guardian or RT - who cares, its all ruling class propaganda:

In this age of professionally staged colour revolutions and ‘Arab Springs’, and wars fought by proxies and front organizations – vaunted human rights organisations should really acknowledge that there are nation-states and central governments who are not long for this world, and who are literally fighting for their survival. Governments who find themselves under the western hammer cannot always afford the luxury of settling internal disputes nicely, or putting down armed rebel factions and terrorists with all affordable due process. If these rebels or terrorists are western-backed, or GCC-backed, then this condition becomes more acute. Certainly, the United States and its NATO allies, or Israel for that matter, do not afford such civility for any of its victims of collateral damage’ or during a protracted ‘humanitarian intervention’.


OK in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq there have been occasions where Australian and other military forces have refused to engage or become involved in operations because they deemed the risk to civillian populations in those countries unacceptable. And you know what?? - every time I saw something like that was in the MSM it was reported in a way that cast doubt on legitimacy of those actions to protect civillians, in Australian media anyway.

So that last sentence is not true (and this is no way a justification for any of those military interventions or Australian involvement - I oppose them all.)

Although technically I guess we're not part of NATO. I think the UK are tho and they have reportedly done it at some point. Dunno when tho. I rarely take notice of any of that stuff these days so it was pre 2015 sometime. (Back when I only had one kid. :oopssign: :D )

And that aside go back and re read that paragraph.

And substitute this bit:

Governments who find themselves under the Islamist hammer cannot always afford the luxury of settling internal disputes nicely, or putting down armed rebel factions and terrorists with all affordable due process. If these rebels or terrorists are Al Ciada backed, or ISIL-backed, then this condition becomes more acute.
Joe Hillshoist
 
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