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ALEPPO: The Terrorist Cheerleaders Promoted as “Activists” by Corporate Media

SOTT.Net

January 4, 2017

by Paul Mansfield

 

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Lina Shamy Twitter page.

The “activists” were out in full force during the last days of the final liberation of Aleppo, decrying what they saw as the fall of the city and transmitting their “last” messages as they awaited death or abduction by the “evil Assad regime” forces. They made quite an impact in social media and some were picked up for 15 minutes of fame in the regime-change-shilling Western media. Meanwhile foreign independent and Syrian journalists continue to present a narrative which is anathema to the mainstream, hence their exclusion from any coverage.

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Lina Shamy has been a real hit on regime-change-cheerleading media such as Al Jazeera. She solemnly tells us people are living through an Assad genocide, many having lain under the rubble of bombed Aleppo buildings, with what she calls the civil defence, or more accurately, the ‘White Helmets’, unable to rescue them. Incidentally, the White Helmets are not the real Syrian Civil Defence. They have been set up as a shadow state institution, colonizing and subverting the provision of emergency response in this war-torn country.

There is a real Syrian Civil Defence, naturally enough performing under the mandate of the legitimate, internationally recognised Syrian government. It comes as no surprise then that it is the certified civil fire and rescue organisation according to the International Civil Defence Organisation (ICDO). Shamy is quite careless with her interpretation of who the civil defence is, and the carelessness doesn’t end there.

Shamy, interviewed on Al Jazeera, said she had to flee her house in Aleppo with nothing but her clothes. Yet those hanging on her every video report will be pleased to know she still managed to bring her electronic devices, so she can continue to tell the world about the genocide being committed by the regime. How fortuitous is that.

Shamy is one of the sources of the accusations that Syrian soldiers and militias walked the streets of Aleppo, executing entire families and burning 60 people to death hiding in a basement. She claimed if the Syrian soldiers think there is the remotest connection to the rebel groups they will execute civilians. She is a rather vague source however, not having witnessed any of this herself.

She is in actual fact a secondary source, recounting what “activists” have said about alleged atrocities. Once the reality behind the horrific headlines is unpacked however, the credibility of the accusations starts to crumble away. It is difficult to know if the allegations are true or if they are plucked from thin air. Thankfully she can rely on propagandist bullhorns such as Al Jazeera to promote her claims.

Shamy is famous, along with other activists, for posting her “last video.” It all seems very well coordinated in a chaotic war environment. If it was conceived and coordinated from public relations operatives from abroad we could understand how slick and attention grabbing the “last this, last that” theme is. But I am sure we are not as cynical as to believe we are being duped, are we?

If Shamy’s allegations of widespread executions are true, we may be entitled to question how she, as an activist in the so-called firing line, managed to leave Aleppo unscathed. Her fans must be grateful that she is now in Idlib, tweeting that the “flag of the revolution is fluttering high. ” Undoubtedly she is honing her media performances to tell us of future Assad “atrocities” in Idlib.

Bilal Abdul Kareem is another ‘activist’ who has been advocating for direct western intervention in Syria since at least 2013, while simultaneously opposing attacking Islamist groups. In other words, wage war on the people of Syria and give ISIS and Al-Nusra a free pass. This scenario could only lead to another Libya, with ISIS and al-Qaeda struggling for control of the country and its gas and oil reserves. Speaking to Channel 4 News just after the Ghouta chemical attack on 21 August 2013 Kareem said, “There needs to be more dialog with these Islamic fighters because what they’re fighting for and what the west actually wants, really isn’t so incompatible. And I’ve said this before.” When asked about why radical Islamists should be supported he responded with the glib, “I don’t think there’s anything radical about wanting to save lives.”

He said the west would find a ‘compatible partner” in the Islamist fighters.

Kareem, in an interview in 2015, gave a platform for former Al-Nusra spokesman Abu Firas to justify the forceful imposition of an Islamic state on secular Syria and the bloodshed necessary to achieve this goal. He also interviewed Abdullah Muhaysini, the Saudi Jihadist ideologue who says all able-bodied Sunni Muslims are obliged to travel to Syria to wage Jihad. He says Syrians today are standing strong against the Shia coming at them from more than ten countries, obliging Sunni from abroad to fight for their Sunni brothers.

Apparently he’s fine with the idea of Muslims killing Muslims. He calls the Alawites enemies who also must be wiped out. Muhaysini claims to be an independent sharia scholar, but is believed to be a senior Al-Nusra (now Jabhat Fatah al-Sham) leader. He was added to the US government’s list of designated terrorists in November 2016.

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Terrorist supporter and darling of Western media, Bilal Abdul Kareem

Kareem also got on the “last video” bandwagon saying, “This might be close to, if not the last communication.” He clearly saw this as the fall, not the liberation of Aleppo, and was determined to spread a gloomy perspective that has not been shared by thousands of Syrians relieved and thankful to be liberated in East Aleppo.

Political analyst Andrew Korybko points out how this “shadowy figure” who has been “actively spinning the Orwellian narrative that the ‘rebellious locals’ are under ‘deadly oppression’ by the SAA” has been touted and feted by the mainstream media as an “independent journalist” who can provide reliable, on-the-ground information. With his Islamist leanings, it is more accurate to say Kareem is “infamously contributing to the epidemic of fake news,” while fakerstan media such as CNN and Al Jazeera are infamously promoting the cause of violent jihadism in Syria.

In contrast, Korybko points out that the work of the outstanding independent journalist, Vanessa Beeley, who has been on the ground in Aleppo conducting interviews, taking videos, providing photographic evidence of the large scale humanitarian operation and the feelings of relief and joy among liberated Syrians, is ignored by the western mainstream media. When you actually give the people of Syria an unfiltered voice not shaped and redefined through the ministry of truth you become persona non grata in fakerstan medialand.

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Bana Alabed. (Photo: Twitter

Bana Alabed, the seven-year-old girl who has become a Twitter sensation and until recently lived in East Aleppo, always seemed to be able to tweet in Wifi-less Aleppo. But if you have an account you could tweet from anywhere. Bana accumulated followers at a staggering pace at the same time the Syrian army and its allies were repelling counteroffensives by the opposition and preparing for the final push to liberate Aleppo.

Her tweets were faithfully retweeted by the Syrian opposition and figures from the mainstream Western media, and she even gained a fan in J. K. Rowling, who sent a Harry Potter book – in English of course – to the little girl who can only recite rote-learned short sentences in English. Whoever is writing the tweets, it is clearly not Bana (it’s probably her mother, who can be seen whispering answers to her in post-liberation interviews).

This child is clearly a prop being used to cynically manipulate us to believe in Russian and Syrian war crimes and that the “civilised” world must urgently intervene to stop the murderous rampage.

Bana constantly tweeted about her house being bombed, of the terror she and the family feel, that the Syrian army will target them because of the tweeting, that death could be imminent, of nearby bombings killing numerous civilians, and appealed for help to western leaders including Barack Obama to rescue them from the clearly evil regime deliberately targeting her and other innocent children.

There is an overwhelming and pervasive emotional tugging at the heart strings here, with the dual message that the “regime” is bombing and killing civilians and, you, the western public must demand your leaders intervene to save them. The no-fly zone is already pre-destined as the form of intervention, so this is what “Bana” is really asking for.

Very sophisticated for a 7-year-old girl.

In reality this is an extremely cynical use of an innocent child to promote a now failed regime change project. A project that has cost thousands of lives, forced people to flee their homes, and in some cases their country, has left Syria in ruins and a people heartbroken. Heartbroken; but resilient, brave, and determined to defeat the NATO/GCC backed terrorists and rebuild Syria.

Bana was recently photographed with Recep Erdogan. So after all the tweets fearing death at the hands of the Syrian Army, she, along with her family (not to mention thousands of terrorist fighters) were safely evacuated. She may be disappointed if she thinks Erdogan is going to be Al-Nusra’s saviour, as he seems to have joined the Russia/Syria/Iran alliance which has taken upon itself the task of resolving the Syrian war.

There were others posting similar “last tweets”, “last videos”, goodbyes, etc. who, if they really were in East Aleppo, had a genuine fear for their lives in a war zone. However what is objectionable is the attribution of blame solely to Syrian and Russian forces and the lack of acknowledgement of the atrocities carried out by the opposition, whom it must be remembered held government controlled areas of Aleppo under siege for over three years. One such person was Abdulkafi Alhamdo, a teacher and activist who in one of the worst pieces of acting you will see, complete with regular sighs for dramatic effect, claimed Russia and Syria did not want to see them leave alive, they wanted them dead and that he expected coming massacres.

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Abdulkafi Alhamdo together with fellow Twitter star Bana Alabed.

It is a very small leap of faith for those who accept this at face value to believe the massacres did happen as reported.

Article after article in the Western mainstream media condemns Russia and Syria for alleged war crimes spun by the above mentioned activists. Kirill Koktysh, Russian political scientist, associate professor of International Politics at Moscow-based MGIMO University, speaking to Sputnik News summed up the value for Washington in this misleading narrative:

Commenting on a recent article in the US media decrying once again Syria and Russia for their “atrocities” in Aleppo, with, of course, no proof whatsoever of the “crimes against humanity” proffered other than some jihadist propaganda, a Russian political scientist explained to Sputnik that Washington relies on articles like this to “save its face.”

The singular theme of these testimonies (in contrast to testimonies of reporters like Vanessa Beeley and Eva Bartlett) is how unconvincing they are. They feared for their lives in East Aleppo, and if it was because of Russia bombs or the Syrian army, then blaming Russia or Syria is myopic in the extreme. The Syrian army, aided by Russia, literally liberated East Aleppo from years of occupation by Western-sponsored terror groups.

Not once did they deliberately attack civilians. Why would they? On the other hand, the brutalisation of civilians in the four years of terrorist group rule was intentional and designed to strike fear in the hearts of people, to ensure they were too scared to rise up or resist. The murder of 27 East Aleppo civilians who had the temerity to protest their captivity was intentional. The torture, execution and dismemberment of civilians found in mass graves was intentional, gruesome and sadistic, as too was the execution by terrorists of 100 soldiers in defiance of the withdrawal agreement. Syria News reported on the discovery of a mass grave of civilians shown on Syria TV:

“Syrian TV showed another horrible massacre in the eastern part of Aleppo, the part which was controlled by the “rebels.” The recent report was of a mass grave of 23 victims in al Kallas district, which was a terrorist headquarter. It was found after those terrorists were transported to Idlib. The video shows the bodies of mostly massacred women and children, shot at close range. Many of the victims also had their legs and hands amputated.

This is what the West-backed “moderate monsters” left behind. What’s more, they were planning to use those victims to attribute their crimes to our government, as they are used to doing. This propaganda is always being supported by mainstream media like CNN, the English speaking Qatari Al-Jazeera etc.”

The terrorists seem to have little time for any notion of international or humanitarian law, something unlikely to be reflected on by US/NATO/ Gulf States, even as they squirm with embarrassment at these gruesome revelations. The irony of the squawking hysteria by western leaders and fakerstan media of unproven Russian/Syrian/Iranian atrocities compared to the firm evidence of these horrific executions is quite prophetic.

We are constantly assailed with the truism that Russian media is state controlled, and therefore is nothing more than state propaganda. The mention of RT comes with the mandatory adjunct of “Kremlin controlled.” And, as Russia is the root of all evil, and is to blame for everything, obviously its media can be nothing more than a pack of lying newshounds.

On the subject of the war in Syria, or the war on Syria, depending on where you stand, those who dissent from the regime change party line are dismissed as Russian trolls, Kremlin puppets, or Putin’s useful idiots. This includes well respected and credentialed journalists, activists and even ordinary people expressing their views via social media. We have all been willingly or unwillingly duped to follow the Kremlin line, to our eternal condemnation and to the never ending suffering of Syrians at the hands of the barbaric dictator Bashar Al-Assad and the Russian bully boy, Vladimir Putin.

So while Western governments would have us believe that Russian media lies all the time, somehow this total control of media output does not apply to the Western mainstream media or our politicians when it comes to their reports from the ground in “rebel” held areas of Syria, most notably in Aleppo.

The terrorists – let’s be frank here, that is what they are – who controlled Aleppo are not exactly shining examples of press freedom or independent reporting. If they were included in the World Press Freedom Index, they would languish at rock bottom.

Take Lina Shamy for example who filmed with terrorists walking along in the background carrying their guns. That’s real independent media right there. She no doubt had the freedom to walk alongside armed terrorists and brazenly report a narrative not approved by their leadership.

Or consider Bilal Abdul Kareem (mentioned above) interview of a spokesman for John Kerry’s favorite terrorist group ‘al-Nusra’. Kareem is a long-time confidante and proxy spokesperson for the terrorists. He even interviewed a terrorist supposedly evacuating Aleppo with an explosive vest. How far would Kareem be able to go if he departed from the Nusra line? Are we ever likely to hear those in fakerstan media call him a “Nusra troll,” or will he remain a respected “independent journalist.”

The icing on the cake when it comes to disseminating propaganda though has to be The White Helmets. Formed in 2013 by former British special forces soldier, John Le Mesurier, it was a UK Foreign Office/ State Department operation from the very beginning. There was no agonizingly-slow growth of a grass roots movement struggling to even stump up the cash for office pens here. It is a slick intelligence operation pivotal to the psyops war which has been funded to the tune of $100 million and counting. It has now been funded by many countries all keen to show they are committed to the Atlanticists and the dictators in the Gulf States.

The ‘White Helmets’ as humanitarian outfit is the stuff of Hollywood. The aura surrounding them is that of adored movie stars. They have been pumped up with claims of having rescued over 78,000 people in Syria, been nominated for the Nobel peace prize, complete with an intense lobbying effort, which if successful would have been the biggest insult to peace since Barack Obama’s shameful award. The White Helmets have stained democracy by being feted at the French parliament, been gushingly praised by the sycophantic Boris Johnson, applauded without due scrutiny by the western media, been the subject of a slick documentary which continues the theme of carefully crafted public relations serving the purposes of further demonizing Bashar al-Assad, deflecting criticism from the sponsorship of terrorism by NATO/Gulf States and helped build the case for direct intervention by openly calling for a no fly zone. To top it all off, we now have literally one of the biggest names in Hollywood, George Clooney planning a film on the White Helmets, thus elevating them to the status of some sort of Hollywood deity.

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Image by Cory Morningstar of Wrong Kind of Green

The synopsis of The White Helmets documentary on the IMDB website propagates the myth of the heroic first responders:

“As daily airstrikes pound civilian targets in Syria, a group of indomitable first responders risk their lives to rescue victims from the rubble.”

This synopsis of the movie reinforces the idea of the fearless volunteers risking life and limb to rescue their fellow Syrians, while, without directly naming them, demonizing the governments of Bashar al-Assad and Russia, as they of course are the ones delivering the airstrikes. No mention here of the alternative view that the White Helmets stage manage their “rescues” are affiliated with terrorist groups, or that Russia and Syria are targeting terrorist groups and not civilians.

Clooney appears to have missed the fact that the White Helmets have been caught out time and again posing with terrorist groups, brandishing guns, accompanying terrorist groups as they abduct and kill Syrian soldiers and calling Syrian soldiers “Shabiha” whose dead bodies are to be thrown in the trash.There is an abundance of video and photo evidence out there in social media, easy to track down if you are inclined to do so. So-called diligent corporate media journalists could not fail to uncover this material, yet they see nothing, report nothing.

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White Helmets stand on the bodies of Syrian Arab Army soldiers and flick the victory sign.

On the contrary, the fakerstan media has made it their duty to target and vilify alternative media journalists who are prepared to look beyond the hype and glamour to uncover the murky underbelly of the White Helmets beast.

Eva Bartlett, who gave a monumental performance at a recent United Nations panel discussion on Syria, finds herself being set up to be discredited, vilified, humiliated, and ultimately silenced. First she was questioned as to whether she was at the panel on the behest of the Syrian government. No, she was there as an independent journalist of high repute, which she has been for a very long time.

Vanessa Beeley is routinely accused of being a “paid propagandist” a “shill for Assad.” Baseless claims are made that she is only allowed in Aleppo because the Syrian government like what she has got to say. Beeley, like other western journalists who have been able to freely travel into Aleppo, is protected by the Syrian Army in war zones, which is exactly what you would expect. Their opinions make no difference to the Syrian Army who have a duty to protect all those under their care.

The real problem is that Beeley is providing an abundance of evidence of the liberation of Aleppo and how happy people are that they have finally been liberated. This is what the media and so called activists can’t stand, that she is letting the people speak for themselves, and their message is:

“We are free, we are liberated, and we hated the terrorists who controlled East Aleppo.”

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Liberation of East Aleppo: Hanano (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

Beeley has told of how, among all the people she spoke to in East Aleppo, not one knew who the White Helmets were. When pressed they would say:

” Ah yes, the Nusra Front civil defence that only worked with the terrorists and did not help civilians“.

Beeley spoke to people who said the Al-Nusra dominated groups ruled through “fear, torture, humiliation, starvation and brutality.” She mixed with groups of children able to finally raise a smile. She gathered the testimonies of residents who recounted the living hell they had experienced. Beeley says:

“The testimonies we filmed testified to starvation, wholesale deprivation of humanitarian aid, summary executions, torture and the use of civilians as human shields.”

Beeley has been in Aleppo where the warehouses full of humanitarian aid denied to civilians by the terrorist groups were revealed. She was there when the horrifying report broke of the discovery of mass graves of civilians, with many women and children shot at close range. She was also there when the discovery was made of the 100 Syrian soldiers executed by the terrorists prior to being given safe passage to Idlib where they can resume hostilities and possibly perpetrate future atrocities on civilians and government fighters.

The stories of Syrian army and militia massacres were nowhere to be seen. Nor were the accusations that Assad is entirely to blame for their suffering. Beeley also was there as the peaceful evacuation took place, contrary to reports which claimed otherwise, including the claims that hundreds of men went missing from East Aleppo.

This reporting is consistent with what the Bolivian actress and filmmaker Carla Ortiz found. Telesur reports on her time spent in Syria and the film she is about to release titled “Voice of Syria,” in which “she documents the peaceful evacuation process from Eastern Aleppo, effectively debunking mainstream media narratives claiming the opposite.”

During a recent interview with Fox 11 News, Ortiz said:

“I was right there in six different front lines, and I talked to the people when they were getting in the buses…at the shelters, and actually the evacuation wasn’t burning, there was not mass shooting anywhere on the streets.”

So the caravan of media and activist propaganda rolls on. Their next stop is Idlib; the last remaining stronghold of the non ISIS dominated terrorist factions. Undoubtedly it is all going to be barrel bombs, White Helmet heroics, deliberate bombing of schools and hospitals, and valiant resistance from “rebel” groups.

That the presence of a hard line, mass murdering group such as Al-Nusra (Jabhat Fatah al-Sham) is hidden beneath the moderate rebel tag is an absolute scandal and will continue to obfuscate the truth of the dirty US/NATO/Gulf State/Israel war on Syria.

Independent Journalists Vanessa Beeley & Eva Bartlett Puncture the Establishment’s Media Bubble on Syria

Morning Star

January 7, 2017

 

“The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.” — Malcolm X

Today’s Morning Star daily newspaper in Great Britain features the cartoon below by freelance illustrator Robert Amos. Amos’s work depicts independent journalists Vanessa Beeley and Eva Bartlett puncturing the establishment media’s bubble on Syria.

Beeley and Bartlett fought and fought against the mainstream media’s lies and liars until people had no choice but to pay attention. Thanks to both Vanessa and Eva, all other truth-tellers, and those that are courageous enough to share and spread the truth, bucking conformity.

Power to ethical journalism, power to truth and power to women!

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“If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”— Malcolm X

 

WATCH: White Helmets – The Mask of Terror ( with English subtitles)

Anna News

January 6, 2017

 

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In liberated Aleppo the ANNA-News crew was able to uncover evidence that sheds light on the true activity of the so-called rescue workers in Syria. This terrorist group, the White Helmets, is a project of the New York public relations firm Purpose (sister org. of Avaaz).

“In interviews he is nearly always credited with setting up GetUp and Avaaz, and this is constructed as the natural evolution for setting up his current corporate consultancy and campaigning organisation, Purpose, in 2009. As outlined earlier in the chapter Purpose is a “social business that helps build movements”, it works on building large-scale issue campaigns, as well as working with corporate actors to use storytelling and brand relations techniques to create mass supporter movements. On its website it lists 23 organisations that it has worked for, most are well known non-profits such as Oxfam, Habitat for Humanity, ACLU and the Services Employee International Union, but also includes for-profit companies such as Ben and Jerrys, Audi and Google. Seven organisations are listed as Incubators, which means that Purpose has started them as campaigns and built them, these include: AllOut working on GLBTQI rights internationally, the controversial Syria Campaign that started White Helmets, and Foodstand that tries to build an informed community about good food.” [Source: Vromen, Digital Citizenship and Political Engagement, DOI 10.1057/978-1-137-48865-7_6]

VIDEO CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES, VIOLENCE AND POSSIBLE WAR CRIMES.

 

Further reading:

WHO ARE SYRIA’S WHITE HELMETS?

SYRIA: Avaaz, Purpose & the Art of Selling Hate for Empire

How We Were Misled About Syria: the role of Médicins Sans Frontières (MSF)

Tim Hayword Blog

December 30, 2016

by Tim Hayword

 

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I have unbounded admiration for the doctors who volunteer for the invaluable and often dangerous work of Médicins Sans Frontières (MSF). The question concerns MSF’s policy of ‘bearing witness’. MSF will speak out – even against governments – when it thinks a humanitarian situation could and should be dealt with differently by those it holds responsible.[1] It has done so in Syria.

But if none of MSF’s international doctors have been on the ground in Syria’s war zones since 2015,[2] how can MSF claim to bear witness for what is happening there?

MSF has relayed reports from the rebel-held areas to which, exclusively, its supplies and support have been dispatched. The reports – including allegations of government attacks on hospitals and civilians – come from people working with the permission and protection of such groups as Al Nusra, Isis and other foreign jihadis and mercenaries. These anti-government forces are known to exercise a rule of terror and to be not overly concerned about ordinary citizens’ access to medical attention. That is precisely why the MSF doctors withdrew from the areas under their control.[3] So there is scope to ask who the medics on the ground were, and who they were treating. russi-plus-asad

My question, though, simply concerns the reliability of uncorroborated witness statements coming from potentially compromised sources. For while press statements have been issued from various MSF offices around the world, it appears MSF had no independent access to verifiable information from Syria.

In fact, the public unavailability of detailed or verified information is a matter of record: even John Kirby of the US State Department could only assert that ‘relief agencies that we find credible are levelling these accusations’.[4]

The most prominent relief agency, and visible in all video footage linked to the alleged bombings, is the White Helmets.  It is a matter of record that the White Helmets are funded by the NATO and Gulf states whose avowed aim is regime change in Syria; or-38096it is generally believed that they work closely with terrorist organisations (how else could the Netflix documentary have shown them roaming so freely in a zone where MSF and Western journalists dared not set foot?[5]). Their independence and integrity are widely questioned.[6]

So while MSF has often been cited as an independent source of support for White Helmet testimony, its press statements have in fact merely repeated White Helmet claims![7]

Whether intending it or not, MSF thereby became complicit in purveying a particular narrative that suffused the Western media during the period from 22 September to 22 December 2016.[8] Before September, the media had been perfectly clear that the citizens of eastern Aleppo were being held captive, effectively as human shields, by forces dominated by jihadist terrorists.[9] That changed following the uncompromising statement by Samantha Power to the UN Security Council, in which she invoked the White Helmets as victims and witnesses of Russian and Syrian aggression.[10]

Western governments and media re-designated the terrorist groups as ‘moderate rebels’.[11] Concurrently, anti-government activists like Lina Shamy started tweeting in English, the celebrated twitter account in the name of the child Bana was created, and there followed a flow of ‘famous last webcams’ from purported ordinary civilians voicing fears of impending massacre by the Syrian government.

Those of us in the West who were uncertain about the authenticity of all this social media activity in a zone lacking basic infrastructure, let alone wifi,[12] were coaxed to accept the mainstream narrative because a respected organisation like MSF apparently bore witness to it.[13] Few of us realised that MSF was merely repeating White Helmet testimony, not independently verifying it.

The consistent testimony now coming from the people who have been liberated in eastern Aleppo suggests a quite different story from the one that Netflix and our media have promoted.[14] The Helmets themselves appear to have melted away with the departure from Aleppo of the jihadists and mercenaries. If there were any genuinely independent doctors working with them in Aleppo, they too have yet to be heard from. But most telling, in view of White Helmet claims to have saved some 70,000 lives (or whatever exact number we are invited to believe), is that not a single person interviewed in liberated Aleppo has thanked them.

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Photocredit: Jan Oberg

So, in seeking to bear witness against the Syrian government, MSF has made claims on a basis that is uncertain and contested.[15]  By so publicly associating itself with the White Helmets and their narrative it may have risked compromising the reputation it relies on to attract international doctors.

Those of us who deeply appreciate the service to humankind of MSF’s international doctors are left to hope the organisation coordinating their work can be more sure to avoid bearing false witness.[16]

The problem with the false narrative is no trivial one, for it perpetuates a fundamental misrecognition of the causes of the war – and thus of all the casualities the doctors have to deal with.  A false narrative not only gives impunity to the guilty but it supports them in moving ever onwards with their murderous designs. It distracts from the ethical truth, too, that the jihadis and the states supplying them with arms and opportunity are in fundamental breach of the law and morality of just warfare.

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Photocredit: Jan Oberg

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Photocredit: Jan Oberg

[1] The background for this founding principle – of témoignage (‘bearing witness’) – is cited on their website: ‘Hundreds of thousands of people died in the Biafran war because of a deliberate government policy. On their return from the region, a group of young French doctors were frustrated and outraged by the inability of the Red Cross to say publicly what had happened.’ https://www.msf.org.uk/advocacy-and-temoignage

[2] MSF Voice from the Field in Syria: Dr. Nathalie Roberts https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61cmnPLk6uE

[3] Dr Nathalie Roberts has described how in the earlier days of the war in Syria, MSF had followed its usual working procedures in opposition-held areas but with the arrival of Islamic State group that became impossible: “they were not allowing all the patients to access the hospital”, they then started appropriating MSF supplies and even kidnapping MSF staff. They could not continue to work in a place where the occupying groups would not allow the doctors to do their medical job. (Dr Roberts interviewed on 13 March 2015) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4oQVUssxK-U

[4] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/us-spokesperson-loses-temper-with-rt-journalist-over-syria-bombing-questions-a7423146.html

[5] I personally first became curious about the White Helmets from viewing the Netflix documentary (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wj4ncIEDxw), and the question I mention in the text here is the one I simply could not get past. I was therefore not surprised to find that others had already offered powerful critiques of the organisation.

I also had trouble imagining how people working in such desperate conditions would have the leisure to keep up with the latest Western craze of the Mannequin Challenge, and also the insensitivity to do a facsimile rescue for the purpose. The video of this PR own goal was quickly removed by the White Helmets’ promoters but remains available elsewhere at time of writing, e.g.:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zgl271A6LgQ

A discussion of it is here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8bIupYSZeU

[6] The critical sources now on the internet are far too numerous to mention, but indicative examples include:
https://www.rt.com/op-edge/361957-syria-white-helmets-un/
http://21stcenturywire.com/2016/12/10/exclusive-president-raed-salehs-terrorist-connections-within-white-helmet-leadership/
https://janoberg.exposure.co/humans-in-liberated-aleppo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmFFvu5H4f4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_bObdZhqyE
http://21stcenturywire.com/2016/09/23/exclusive-the-real-syria-civil-defence-expose-natos-white-helmets-as-terrorist-linked-imposters/

[7] The spokespersons bearing MSF witness to the public are quite numerous and remote from Syria. They seldom make explicit the source of their information, but when they do we find it is the White Helmets.

Sam Taylor, for instance, who is Syria communications coordinator for MSF and is based in Jordan, uncritically reproduced White Helmets material: ‘The civil defense, also known as the White Helmets, said the hospital and adjacent buildings were struck in four consecutive airstrikes.’ ‘Video posted by the White Helmets showed lifeless bodies, including children, being pulled from a building and loaded into ambulances amid screams and wailing. Distraught rescue workers tried to keep away onlookers, apparently fearing more bombs.’ http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/airstikes-aleppo-hospital-1.3556632

Taylor does mention another authority: ‘Shortly after midday Thursday, new airstrikes in rebel-held areas killed at least 20 people in two neighbourhoods, the Syrian Civil Defense and the Observatory said.’ By ‘Observatory’, he presumably means the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Although this sounds like an independent organisation, it is in fact a single individual named Rami Abdulrahman (sometimes referred to as Rami Abdul Rahman) living in Coventry in the UK; and he is presumably as independent as one can expect from an opposition exile whose small network of informants in Syria consists largely of anti-government activists. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/10/world/middleeast/the-man-behind-the-casualty-figures-in-syria.html Certainly, he is no more directly a witness than is MSF’s spokesperson. Needless to say, the Observatory’s credibility and independence is disputed: http://russia-insider.com/en/media-criticism/man-behind-vaunted-syrian-observatory-human-rights-shown-all-his-full-absurdity; http://landdestroyer.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/syrian-ngos-working-directly-with.html; http://journal-neo.org/2015/12/12/the-syrian-observatory-for-human-rights-is-a-tool-of-western-propaganda/
Despite this lack of verified independent evidence, Taylor was prepared to state on behalf of MSF that a hospital attack ‘was deliberate’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ebrpj689Ib8. While the basis for the accusation is not given, the cumulative effect of this sort of public statement is evident. Pablo Marco Blanco, MSF’s Operations Manager for the Middle East in Barcelona, effectively endorsed the accusation, while admitting that the basis of the information was unconfirmed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XI5KMAvfYDU. Similar communications came from Muskilda Zancada, ‘MSF head of mission in Syria’ in Barcelona. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4s9uEp6Ujs). Zancada also stated that ‘civilians are targeted’ http://www.msf.org/en/article/syria-update-airstrike-al-quds-hospital. Paul McPhun, Executive Director MSF Australia, speaking from Australia (10 October 2016) likewise makes categorial statements about targeted bombings in Aleppo, but without indicating the source of his knowledge.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iHyPtcG5a6M
It is even possible that the accusations are true. Yet it is also possible that they are not. The fallibility of MSF sources has been illustrated by how Teresa Sancristoval, Head of MSF’s Emergency Unit for Aleppo, was clearly being fed her information in Barcelona from people with an oppositional stance towards the Syrian Government because they were ‘afraid of the retaliations they can suffer’ http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/article/east-aleppo-ceasefire-fails-shelling-resumes-and-hope-fades (see note 7).

While I have no doubt that all MSF statements are made from a standpoint of agonised human sympathy, and in good faith, they take on a life of their own when picked up by the media and disseminated for further purposes.

In the end it is clear that what matters from the humanitarian point of view is that the bombing should stop. When MSF call for all sides to stop, they can claim to speak for humankind. When they complain of ‘targeted and indiscriminate bombing by the Syrian and Russian armed forces’ (http://www.msf.org/en/article/syria-crisis-update-28-november-2016) they create unnecessary controversy: if bombing both targeted and indiscriminate is to stop on the government side, that is as much as to say – from the government’s perspective – that it should simply allow the ISIS and Al Nusra terrorists free rein over the people and sovereign territory that it has a duty to defend. MSF do not want to say exactly this, I assume, but my point is that the organisation seems not to have a firm enough grip on its communications policy or a sufficiently coherent approach to defining its extra-medical mission.

[8] MSF statements from Syria condemning the Syrian and Russian governments have been demonstrably lacking in certainty or detail. For instance, in relaying reports of attacks on hospitals around Aleppo in May they note that ‘one was the MSF-supported al Sakhour hospital in Aleppo city, which was forced to suspend activities after being bombed at least twice on consecutive days.’ (https://www.msf.org.uk/country/syria) An inexact statement like this – being equivocal as to whether the number of bombings was two, three, or some other number – may or may not be true; it cannot claim to have been properly verified, since a verification would make clear whether or not a third or further bombings had occurred.

MSF uncritically accepted the veracity of the ‘famous last webcams’ coming out of besieged eastern Aleppo. As late as 14 December 2014 MSF wrote on their own website: ‘Whatever hope remained is rapidly dissipating. People are terrified, almost certain that their own deaths are near. Messages in which they say goodbye to their love ones are proliferating.’ http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/article/east-aleppo-ceasefire-fails-shelling-resumes-and-hope-fades ]

MSF do not appear to have known as much as one might hope or expect about the doctors they supported in terrorist-held Aleppo and whose words they relay to the public. The doctors communicating from terrorist-held Aleppo whose testimony the MSF publicly cited just prior to the liberation of Aleppo were apparently not looking forward to the end of the siege, and MSF even believed that their forebodings were shared by the ordinary people of Aleppo: ‘Like the rest of the population, “doctors are terrified and losing hope,” says Teresa Sancristoval, Head of MSF’s Emergency Unit for Aleppo. “They are afraid of the retaliations they can suffer. For the last two days, our exchanges have been more about goodbye messages and requests for evacuation than anything else. They feel abandoned to their fate and with no way out.”’ http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/article/east-aleppo-ceasefire-fails-shelling-resumes-and-hope-fades
[9] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/02/us-syria-policy-tatters-moderate-rebels-disband
[10] As Stephen Cohen has pointed out, the sea change came with the breakdown of negotiations between Obama and Putin. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPp8eKBjcyA&t=974s
The view was then forcefully asserted against Obama by Samantha Power.
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/sep/22/syria-obama-us-president-putin-russia
In her speech to UN Security Council she singled out the White Helmets as victims and witnesses of Russian and Syrian attacks. She declared: ‘This is not the day, this is not the time to blame all sides, to draw false equivalencies. It is not the time to say that “airstrikes took place,” or “civilians were killed.” It is time to say who is carrying out those airstrikes, and who is killing civilians.’ https://usun.state.gov/remarks/7453
[11] Some insights into the unreliability of the mainstream narrative have occasionally been heard from within mainstream media outlets. For instance:
http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/syria-aleppo-iraq-mosul-isis-middle-east-conflict-assad-war-everything-youve-read-could-be-wrong-a7451656.html
http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2016/12/time-judge-assads-aleppo-campaign-standards-set-mosul/
http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/aleppo-falls-to-syrian-regime-bashar-al-assad-rebels-uk-government-more-than-one-story-robert-fisk-a7471576.html
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1B2xFqfEgY (‘Tulsi Gabbard tells the truth about Syria’ on CNN)
Carla Ortiz Speaks about her Experience in Aleppo and The Little Syrian Girl
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAE3WawgOX0&feature=share
Criticisms have of course been extensive in the Russian media. Since promoters of the Western narrative do not regard the Russia Today (RT) channel as a reliable source, I mention just a couple of interviews that they might concede have some credibility – one from a Church of England clergyman and one from a former UK ambassador to Syria:
‘Consistent stories of brutality at the hands of the Syrian rebels’ – Rev. Andrew Ashdown
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8iM_eY2viQ
US effectively siding with Al-Qaeda in desire to get rid of Assad – former UK ambassador to Syria
https://www.rt.com/news/345636-us-siding-al-qaeda-ford/
[12] Common sense scepticism on this point is supported by the first hand testimony of Carla Ortiz about trying to get internet connections in Aleppo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=il7I1FTRSwY.

[13] I have seen MSF cited as a source to discredit the account of Syria given to the UN by Canadian journalist Eva Bartlett   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uap0GwBYdBA
In fact, I was first prompted to do the research that led to writing this blog because a respected and well-informed friend on Facebook invoked MSF as a refutation of Bartlett’s claims. I believe it has since become clear that events have entirely vindicated Bartlett.

[14] Some examples of interviews with newly liberated citizens in Aleppo:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjPpREHEF1Y
https://www.facebook.com/vanessa.beeley/posts/10155907018683868
https://www.sott.net/article/337545-East-Aleppo-Diaries-Testimony-from-Hanano-Shatters-Corporate-Fake-News
https://janoberg.exposure.co/humans-in-liberated-aleppo
https://www.sott.net/article/338019-Bolivian-actress-Carla-Ortiz-exposes-what-went-wrong-with-Western-media-coverage-of-Syrian-conflict

[15] Stronger criticism of MSF than I am making is found in Miri Wood’s ‘Guide to Understanding How ‘Unhospitals’ Cannot Be Bombed’ http://www.syrianews.cc/guide-understanding-unhospitals-cannot-bombed/ ; MSF’s relationship with the Syrian Government is known to be an uneasy one: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/12161437/Medecins-Sans-Frontieres-run-by-French-intelligence-says-Assad-regime.html

[16] MSF takes a certain pride in fostering debate and allowing some plurality of political views to be aired within the organisation: it does not attempt, as ICRC does, to hold a single public line. (Rony Brauman, ‘Médecins Sans Frontières and the ICRC: matters of principle’, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 888, 31 December 2012: https://www.icrc.org/eng/resources/documents/article/review-2012/irrc-888-brauman.htm)

Yet the public hears MSF-branded messages and thinks they represent the honest and considered position of a respected organisation. They are encouraged to do so by the fact that press releases and comments are issued by the organisation and not as independent opinions of particular members.

While it is not my place to tell MSF how to conduct its affairs, I would say that their internal plurality of opinion is not necessarily a virtue: if they cannot agree on certain matters of principle about bearing witness, then the wise option might be simply to refrain, as ICRC do. At any rate, some of their internal philosophical debate strikes this reader as unhelpfully verbose and analytically unclear. More specifically relating to Syria, it is reasonable to believe that the geopolitics of the region and the machinations of its various protagonists are as complex and challenging, in their way, as are the medical emergencies in a war zone. Even the most judicious political analyst would not be much use in dealing with the latter. The people in MSF offices might reflect on whether the converse does not also apply.

We are not in a position to know if Syria or Russia should answer any charges in respect of the conduct of war.  We do know that their enemies must, and, more crucially, that they face the more fundamental charge of having attacked Syria and its people without just cause.

I find a rather bitter irony in the MSF position that they distinguish themselves from the ICRC in not being willing to patch up victims simply in order to make possible further harm to them; for that could be said to be what they are doing by wishing that a sovereign people should not use full lethal force against merciless invaders on its soil.

The Art of War: Shadow Governments, Duplicate Organizations & Institutions Named after the Authentic

Preparing for War Against the Caliphate

Jamahiriya News Agency

May 19, 2016

By Meena Sovjani

 

Foreword: Recently on the WKOG podcast, Vanessa Beeley, Cory Morningstar and Forrest Palmer discussed Syria serving as a template for coming interventions. Here it must be noted that Libya was the template for the Syrian intervention (invasion). The imperial “experiment” in Syria is still underway. The same process of establishing a shadow government and duplicate organizations and institutions named after the authentic, to obfuscate and confuse, was part of the Libyan war.  Today the struggle continues as the Libyan people’s voices are literally being drowned out by those of foreign nations, the UN and NATO. There is a foreign-appointed and instated regime in Tripoli which, while unrecognized in Libya, has the backing of the UN, NATO nations and many other countries that approved the Vienna Communique (including Russia).

 

libya-kerry

The formation of the “Presidential Guard” was announced May 9, 2016. Fayez al-Sarraj (L) meets with US Secretary of State John Kerry. AFP: Leonhard Foeger

Today, the United States placed da’esh affiliates in Libya, Saudi Arabia and Yemen on a terrorist black list, however, this maneuver is profoundly deceptive. The US is not interested in fighting terrorism.

The US is the most notorious creator and purveyor of terrorism in the world. Any threat to their agenda is given the “terrorist” designation. As with their abuse of “R2P” and “humanitarian intervention”, labeling an organization “terrorist” is the first step towards manufacturing consent for aggression against that group or nation. The US conflates terrorists with legitimate resistance movements which actively fight terrorism and imperial occupation. Their juxtaposition of terrorists (counter-revolutionaries) and legitimate revolutionaries creates tremendous confusion. Numerous Stratfor-sourced reports on Libya have erroneously claimed that the Green Resistance aligned with da’esh, when the truth is that the Green Resistance have always, without exception, opposed all factions of political Islam and have consistently fought against them, regardless of their name, because they understand that they all represent the same threat to Libyan security and sovereignty.

With the US supplying arms to Libya’s foreign-created, foreign-imposed “unity government” and their Libya Dawn “Presidential guard”, they are in fact arming terrorists and depriving the legitimate Libyan National Army of the support necessary to successfully defeat terrorism in Libya.

As in Syria, the US continues its policy of arming extremists while overthrowing legitimate governments.

The US-Saudi coalition have murdered tens of thousands of civilians in the name of liberating Yemen from al Qaeda, while destroying democracy and attempting to crush the legitimate Houthi resistance to Saudi aggression.

Yemen – US are fighting against democracy, not against Al-Qaeda

In Libya, the US and its allies demonstrated the depths of hypocrisy through the instatement of the “unity government” and the creation of the “Presidential guard”, effectively placing terrorists in power and then arming and funding terrorist proxies to protect them.

The following commentary succinctly summarizes and exposes the machinations behind the imperialist plot.

Arabs of London state,

Quote:

We refer back to the meeting held in Istanbul under the auspices of Turkish intelligence, attended by a number of [terrorist] militia leaders, including Abdul Rauf “attribution battalion”, Abdul Ghani Alkkla, “junta chief Abu Salim” and Khaled al-Sharif,” the Libyan Islamic fighting group, “and other military leaders from Ahalboss battalion, brigade-Mahjoub internalized within the dawn of Libya militias in the capital Tripoli.

Khaled al-Sharif introduced this project [creation of the Presidential Guard] during that meeting, pointing out that the “National (Presidential) Guard” will consist initially of 10 thousand members from extremist militias, [terrorists] assigned to secure the capital and its suburbs in order to facilitate the work of the…government headed by Fayez. Those militias have been under the protection of the Presidential Council since their arrival at the Tripoli naval base at the end of March.

Although this decision [to create the Presidential Guard] was allegedly based on the political agreement signed in the Moroccan city of Skhirat on December 17, 2015, […] the decision violates the Skhirat Convention, which explicitly refers to the dismantling of militias [terrorist militias] and their removal from Tripoli and other Libyan cities…the OS abused this agreement to serve their own agenda and the interests and schemes of the Qatari Turkish axis. The Libyan National Army is a stumbling block to the fulfillment of their agenda…It is [the] Muslim Brotherhood strategy to form a national guard in alliance with Turkey and Qatar, effectively replacing the legitimate Libyan National Army.

Another plan drawn by the leaders of these militias, synchronized with the destruction of the Libyan army command, was to carry out a campaign of assassinations, targeting officers in Tripoli.

End Quote.

Prior to the above-mentioned meeting, Martin Kobler met with al Qaeda commander Abdel Hakim Belhaj and other extremist leaders in Istanbul on March 30.

The Presidential Guard is a Terrorist Organization that Must Not be Legitimized or Armed

From this it is evident that both the United States and the United Nations have colluded to –

*usurp Libyan sovereignty,

*complete a coup d’etat that began five years ago with their brutal murder of beloved leader Muammar al Qaddafi,

*place the Muslim Brotherhood in power as the official government,

*assign terrorists the task of guarding them.

A government no one in Libya wants. A government that will make Libya a far more dangerous country. A government that will pose a greater threat to neighboring nations.

This treacherous act is no different than if the Islamic caliphate itself had raised its black flag over Tripoli while the United Nations and leaders of over 20 countries meeting in Vienna bowed down before it and all the horror it represents!!!

 

Further Reading:

The REAL Syria Civil Defence Exposes Fake ‘White Helmets’ as Terrorist-Linked Imposters


 

Militias Find Immunity for War Crimes, Crimes Against Humanity, Under UN’s Government of Accord
Presidential Council Militias Conducting Assassination Campaign Against Libyan Army Officers in Tripoli
‘Presidential Guard’ Place Extremist Militias in Power to Destroy the Libyan National Army
Details of the Presidential Council’s Assassination Campaign Against Libyan Army Officers in Tripoli
On the Presidential Council’s Elite Guard

PODCAST: Deconstructing the Non-profit Industrial Complex [Episode 2]

NGOs as a Force for Good? Get the Fuck Outta Here [Episode 2]

11/15/2016

THE PURPOSE OF AVAAZ: CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY

The Destructive Energy of Avaaz

Digital remix by: Luke Orsborne for Wrong Kind of Green

October 17, 2016

avaaz-nfz-propaganda

This remix of artist James Jean’s poster for the Avaaz People’s Climate March retains Jean’s focus on a girl holding a pinwheel, which now bears a shattered peace symbol, cut by bolt of destructive energy from above. In this revision, the pinwheel alludes to the way in which the false promises of “green” energy touted by non profits like Avaaz, are overshadowed by the global system that they ultimately support, a system which continues to exploit people and the planet in the name of economic growth and warfare backed profit. The light behind the girl symbolizes the explosion of bombs falling on the people of Libya, Syria, and other sites of US aggression, and those that may yet fall with increasing intensity in the event of the imposition of a no-fly zone in Syria, for which Avaaz is advocating. The precipice the girl is standing upon, a thin line between survival and total destruction, is the bombed out Libyan capital of Tripoli, which embodies the bitter reality of a world that is more interested in maintaining comfortable illusions than confronting difficult truths. Ironically, James Jean’s original poster design for the 2014 ad campaign was a winning entry in a contest initiated by Avaaz and co-produced by a group known as Art Not War.

 

 

How the US Manipulates Humanitarianism for Imperialism

Reports from Underground

October 6, 2016

by Steven Chovanec

 

conformity-is-unity-3

Image courtesy of Mark Gould

The United States is manipulating humanitarian concern in an effort to protect its proxy militias and its imperial regime-change project in Syria.  The media and intellectual classes are dutifully falling in line, promoting a narrative of military aggression under the cover of “protecting civilians.”  These same “responsibility to protect” arguments led to the invasions of Iraq and Libya, exponentially increasing the massacres, chaos, and proliferation of violent extremism within those countries.  They are hypocritical, designed to further interests of conquest and domination, and will lead to more death and destruction in Syria as well.

The United States has no stake in the wellbeing of Syrian civilians, despite their condemnations of Russia’s offensive in Aleppo.  This is clearly shown in the fact that the people they are supporting are guilty of the same crimes they accuse Russia and Syria of: indiscriminate attacks, targeting of civilians, destruction of schools, hospitals, etc.  Furthermore, the offensive in Aleppo is really no different from what the US did in Manbij, where they are said to have incorporated a “scorched earth policy” while they liberated the city from ISIS, whereby the civilian population was treated “as if they were terrorists or ISIS supporters.”  Arguably their conduct was even worse, as they there earned the distinction of launching the deadliest single airstrike on civilians out of the entire 5-year conflict, massacring at least 73 where no ISIS fighters were present.  The Manbij operation elicited no moral outcry from the media and punditry, understandably since these were “unworthy victims” given that they were our victims and not those of our enemies.  The same can be said about the US operations in Kobani and Fallujah, whereby the entire towns were essentially reduced to rubble without any uproar.

Saudi Arabia as well has no concern for Syrian civilians, as they have been ruthlessly besieging and bombing Yemen, with the support and help of the United States, for two years without any concern for civilian lives.  Their assault has led to a humanitarian situation even more dire than in Syria, leaving at least 19 million in need of humanitarian assistance; in Syria it is estimated that a total of 18 million are in need of aid.

Turkey as well is not concerned, as is evidenced by their conduct towards their Kurdish population, yet the recent quiet by Erdogan over the fate of Aleppo is indicative of an understanding reached between him with President Putin, whereby Turkey establishes a presence in northern Syria and blocks the advance of the Kurds, and in return limits its support to the rebels and the insurgents in Aleppo.

The real reason the US is decrying the Russian operation is the fact that they are staring aghast at the near-term possibility that their proxy insurgency in Aleppo will be defeated.  Not only will this mark the decisive turning point in the war, the rebels all-but being fully overcome with the Syrian government in control of all the populated city centers except Idlib, but others have argued that it could as well mark the end of US hegemony over the entire Middle Eastern region in general.  In other words, the US is trying to turn global public opinion against the Russian effort in an attempt to halt the advance and protect their rebel proxies trapped in Aleppo.

So, who are these rebels?

In short, they are an array of US-supported groups in alliance with and dominated by al-Qaeda.  During the past ceasefire agreement these rebels refused to break ties with al-Qaeda and instead reasserted their commitment to their alliances with the group.  The UN’s special envoy for Syria recently explained that over half of the fighters in eastern Aleppo are al-Nusra (al-Qaeda’s Syria affiliate), while according to the US Department of Defense, it is “primarily Nusra who holds Aleppo.”

Expert analysis concurs, as Fabrice Balanche of the Washington Institute details how these rebel alliances indicate “that the al-Nusra Front dominates more different rebel factions, including those considered ‘moderate.’”  He explains that al-Qaeda’s “grip on East Aleppo has only increased since the spring of 2016.”

It is these fighters, al-Qaeda and their affiliates, that the US is trying to protect from the Russians, and as well other US intelligence operatives that are likely embedded with them.  The narrative that Russia is committing a humanitarian catastrophe is intended to hide this fact, as well as to shift the blame for the suffering in Aleppo off of the US’ shoulders.  Yet it was the US support to the rebels that is primarily responsible for the suffering.

To illustrate this, the people of eastern Aleppo never supported the rebels nor welcomed them.  The rebels nonetheless “brought the revolution to them” and conquered the people against their will all the same.  Of the few reporters who actually went to the city, they describe how Aleppo has been overrun by violent militants through a wave of repression, and that the people only “saw glimmers of hope” as the Syrian army was driving them from the area.  The people decried this “malicious revolution” and characterized the rebel’s rule as a “scourge of terrorism.”  This, of course, was of no concern to the US at the time, who now proclaims to be the “protectors” of the civilians in Aleppo.

Around 200-600,000 of the original population fled and relocated in the government-held western part of the city.  Of the civilians who remain, they are primarily the families of the fighters, who themselves are paid to stay and fight.  The official numbers for those remaining are 200,000, yet the actual number is likely much lower, around 40-50,000.

Nonetheless, the remaining civilians who were trapped within this warzone were prevented from leaving.

During the first ceasefire, humanitarian corridors were opened and the civilians were encouraged by the Syrian army to leave, yet the rebels stopped them, with reports saying they went as far as to shoot at those who tried.  The attempt to evacuate the civilians was condemned by the US, who argued that the innocent people “should be able to stay in their homes.”  The radical groups were using the civilian population as human shields in order to protect themselves, and the US was supporting it.  Further corroborating this is the special UN envoy Steffan de Mistura, who quotes reports indicating that the rebels have been utilizing “intentional placement of firing positions close to social infrastructure, aside and inside civilian quarters.” This is because it has always been the policy of the Syrian government to separate civilians from insurgents, as it is simply much more militarily effective to fight against an enemy that is not ensconced within a civilian population.  Likewise, it has always been US and rebel policy to prevent this separation.

According to a knowledgeable individual with contacts with high level Syrian officials, the US and EU always rejected the Syrian governments proposals to separate civilians from the fighters, as they explained, “because doing so will be helping you win.”  This makes sense, given that if all of the civilians from eastern Aleppo were evacuated there would then be nothing stopping the Syrian army from crushing the remaining fighters, and there as well would be no international outcry over them doing so.  The source explains: “Syria’s war is an urban war theater.  [The] only way for insurgents to compete is to use residential areas to hide and operate out of.  This is in direct contrast to [the] Syrian army who would like to fight a theater totally void of civilians.”

Those claiming to be protecting Aleppo’s civilians from the Russian and Syrian onslaught are in actuality using them as a means to protect their success on the battlefield.

Given this, the strategy of the Syrian government has been to bomb sporadically in order to scare the civilians and force them to flee from areas controlled by the militants.  This is also why the Syrian army just recently halted their advance in order to allow civilians to evacuate; they wanted the civilians out of the picture so they could militarily defeat the rebels more quickly and easily.

If one actually were concerned about saving the civilians in eastern Aleppo it is pretty straight forward that one would try to evacuate the civilians from the area, and that the backers of the rebel groups would put pressure on them to allow this to happen.  From there it would follow that all sides abide by the UN Security Council resolutions of which they agreed to, which call for the suppression of financing, fighters, and support to al-Qaeda, for the suppression of al-Qaeda “and all other entities associated” with them, and “to eradicate the safe haven they have established over significant parts of Syria,” of which Aleppo is one of the largest.

Unfortunately, it is only Syria and Russia who are following through on these commitments, while the US and its allies are consciously blocking them.  The media and intellectual opinion are as well falling in line,obscuring from the narrative all of these inconvenient truths that do not support the interests of the policy planners in Washington.  In this way, the media are shown to be completely subservient to state power, drumming up support for another aggressive war based on falsities and half-truths in the exact same way that led to the continuing catastrophes in Libya and Iraq.  When the US was driving ISIS from Manbij, just as Syria is now driving al-Qaeda from Aleppo, killing hundreds of civilians at a time, there was not so much as a debate about it, much less an international outcry.

Yet now there are countless calling to “save” Syrians by bombing them and flooding the warzone with more weapons and fighters, ironically using “humanitarian” concern to call for policies that will lead to even more death and misery.  The rebels are dominated by jihadi extremists, and any further support to them will further strengthen the radicals engaged in a project of ethnic cleansing, conquest, and reactionary theocratic governance.  Bombing would only help to further descend Syria into chaos and death, just as it did in Iraq and Libya.

This is an international proxy war and humanitarian concerns are being manipulated unscrupulously in support of interests having nothing to do with concern for innocent lives.  Don’t fall for this faux humanitarianism from which more war, imperialism, and thus more death and destruction will result.

 

[Steven Chovanec is a  freelance journalist and independent geopolitical analyst based in Chicago. Bachelors in International Relations with a minor in Sociology at Roosevelt University. Independent, open-source research & analysis into geopolitics and social policy. Follow on Twitter @stevechovanec – Facebook facebook.com/stevechovanec – Tsu http://www.tsu.co/stevechovanec – e-mail: schovanec@mail.roosevelt.eduhttp://undergroundreports.blogspot.com]

The Left in Denial over Canadian Imperialism

Yves Engler

August 12, 2016

by Yves Engler

 

canadian-imperialism

Above: From the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives: “Unprepared for Peace?: The decline of Canadian peacekeeping training (and what to do about it)(February, 2016)

As hard as it is to admit for a former junior hockey player who spends many hours writing at the neighbourhood Tim Hortons, some things are better in the USA.

For example, comparing Green Party leader Elizabeth May to her American counterpart Jill Stein on foreign-policy issues puts Canada to shame. While Stein has articulated forthright criticism on various international issues, May spouts nationalist platitudes as often as she challenges unjust policies.

Recently, Stein endorsed the Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel, called for Washington and Moscow to work together and said, “US pursuit of regime change in Libya, Iraq, and Syria created the chaos that promotes power grabs by extremist militias. Many of the weapons we are sending into Syria to arm anti-government militias are winding up in the hands of ISIS. This isn’t a clever foreign policy — it’s disastrous militarism.”

canada-in-africa

For her part, May spent last weekend undermining her party’s internal democracy to protect the explicitly racist Jewish National Fund and Israel from censure. At their convention in Ottawa May and most of the Green leadership succeeded in eliminating any mention of the JNF in a resolution, which was rewritten from targeting that institution to call on the Canada Revenue Agency to revoke the status of all charities engaged in international human rights violations. Fortunately, the party leadership failed to block a resolution endorsing BDS in what is probably the single most significant pro-Palestinian victory in Canadian history.

While the Green members who bucked the party leadership to support the JNF and BDS resolutions deserve to be congratulated, the anti-Palestinian, right-wing Israeli nationalist groups who terrorized May in the lead-up to the convention raised an important, if disingenuous, point: Why were there only two resolutions dealing with foreign-policy at the convention? Why didn’t the Greens debate Canadian mining companies’ abuses abroad, special forces in Iraq/Syria, international tar sands promotion, troops on the Russian border, among numerous other important international issues?

The Green’s 2015 federal election foreign-policy platform paper was peppered with nationalist platitudes. It said “Canada is fundamentally a peaceful country” and “defender of human rights.” In laying out the party’s 2015 election position in Esprit de Corps magazine May wrote, “the world needs more Canada” and argued, “we should also support the United Nations’ ‘responsibility to protect’ (R2P) doctrine”, which was used to justify bombing Libya in 2011 and ousting Haiti’s elected government in 2004.

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May backed the Conservative government’s National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy, a $30-$40 billion effort to expand the combat fleet over three decades. But the naval upgrade will strengthen Canadian officials’ capacity to bully weaker countries. The 2000 book Canadian Gunboat Diplomacy details the navy’s extensive history of flexing its muscles, including dozens of interventions in the Caribbean and pressuring Costa Rica to repay money the Royal Bank loaned to an unpopular dictator. And it’s not just history; over the past 25 years the Canadian Navy has played an increasing pro-imperial role in the Middle East and off parts of Africa.

May and Green Party policy statements have also mythologized Canadian foreign policy, citing Lester Pearson as some sort of hero. May claimed “a Green Party approach to international issues will return Canada to the values of Lester B. Pearson.” But, as I detail in Lester Pearson’s Peacekeeping: The Truth May Hurt, the former external minister and prime minister was an ardent cold warrior, who played a part in dispossessing Palestinians, creating NATO and helping the US wage war in Vietnam and Korea.

Of course, the problem runs deeper than May or the Green Party. Much of the Canadian ‘left’ is highly nationalistic, wedded to both the idea this country is a US “dependency” and international “peacekeeper”.

While far from what’s needed, internationalist minded Americans have helped expose US imperialism. Progressive people in this country have largely failed to do the same with Canadian imperialism. In fact, left-wing Canadian academics have probably written more books and articles criticizing US foreign policy than Canada’s.

Certainly the US left has built more of an infrastructure/culture willing to genuinely challenge US foreign policy. A number of prominent academics are highly critical of US foreign policy and left-wing US media outlets such as CounterPunch, Z, Dissident Voice, Common Dreams, etc. shun foreign-policy apologetics.

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In Canada the most prominent ‘left-wing’ foreign-policy think tank is led by Peggy Mason who was a key adviser to Conservative foreign minister Joe Clark in the late 1980s and has held numerous diplomatic postings and UN positions since. During a 2012 National Defence Committee parliamentary meeting on NATO the head of the Rideau Institute noted, “I’m talking as someone who has spent the better part of the last 10 years working with NATO.” Mason trained NATO commanders for peace and crisis stabilization operations and boasted she trained the general Charles Bouchard, who led the 2011 NATO bombing of Libya, which the Rideau Institute head described as a “very important mission.”

The Rideau Institute’s lead collaborator/advisor is an employee of the Canadian Forces who aggressively supported Canada’s worst foreign-policy crime of the first decade of the 21st century (the coup in Haiti). Walter Dorn’s Rideau Institute reports are usually co-published by Canada’s leading left think tank, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. While the CCPA Monitor publishes some articles critical of Canadian foreign policy, its international affairs reports, which receive the bulk of resources, do not offer serious criticism. A number of recent reports have called for adjustments to military priorities while accepting the broad outlines of Canadian militarism. In February they co-published Unprepared for Peace?: The decline of Canadian peacekeeping training (and what to do about it). On the cover of the report a white Canadian soldier, with a massive M-16 strapped around his shoulder, is bent over to hold the hand of a young black boy. In the background are Canadian and UN colours. A call for the Canadian Forces to offer its members more peacekeeping training, Unprepared for peace? is premised on the erroneous notion that UN missions are by definition socially useful and it repeatedly implies that Canada’s most significant recent contribution to a UN mission — the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) — was an operation we should be proud of.

Last year the CCPA and Rideau Institute co-published Smart Defence: A Plan for Rebuilding Canada’s Military, which introduces the issue this way: “When the Harper government came to power in 2006, it pledged to rebuild Canada’s military. But for nine long years, it has failed to deliver on most of its promises, from new armoured trucks and supply ships to fighter jets and search-and-rescue planes.” Author Michael Byers peppers the report with various militarist claims. Canada “faces challenges at home and abroad that require a well-equipped and capable military,” he writes. At another point he says “the Canadian Army cannot deploy large numbers of troops overseas because of a shortage of armoured trucks.” In other words, let’s improve Canada’s military capacity.

While mostly providing a counterpoint to the dominant media, Rabble also publishes some blatantly establishment foreign-policy pieces. It regularly runs Gerald Caplan’s apologetics for the US–Britain–Canada backed Paul Kagame, Africa’s most bloodstained dictator. In late 2015 Rabble ran interviews by CCPA research affiliate Christopher Majka of Libyan, Syrian and Russian invitees to the Halifax International Security Forum, which is sponsored by NATO, the Department of National Defence and various arms firms.

Last week Rabble published a blog by Penney Kome, former editor of the now defunct left website Straight Goods, claiming Donald Trump is soft on Russia. She wrote: “Three of Trump’s top aids have extensive Russian connections, (Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, and Carter Page) and Trump’s policies — such as they are — are strongly pro-Russian. It’s only fair to wonder what his Russophillia means for NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and for former Soviet Union countries that Vladimir Putin may still want to annex, such as Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.” Kome’s piece comes a few weeks after Ottawa announced it would send 450 troops and armoured vehicles to Latvia to be permanently stationed on Russia’s border.

During his campaign to win the Democratic Party nomination Bernie Sanders, who largely avoided foreign-policy before endorsing a hawk for president, at least criticized Washington’s role in overthrowing Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala, Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran, Salvador Allende in Chile as well as the US war in Indochina. It made me wonder if a leading Canadian politician had ever criticized a past foreign policy.

It’s hard to imagine an NDP leader saying, “we shouldn’t blindly follow Washington’s war aims since that led Lester Pearson’s government to deliver US bombing threats to North Vietnam in violation of international law.” Or, “as we evaluate our support for this UN mission let’s not forget the blow Canadian peacekeepers delivered to central Africa when they helped undermine Congolese independence leader Patrice Lumumba.”

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Further reading: Canada’s Role in the Assassination of Patrice Lumumba

It’s as if there’s a sign hanging in Parliament that says: “foreign policy mythologizers only.” A maxim Elizabeth May seems to have embraced, to the shame of all Canadians who really do want this country to be a force for good in the world.

Why Is Environmental Damage Of War Considered A Taboo Subject?

Activist Post

September 22, 2016

By Diane Mantzaris

 

“What the imperialist warlords don’t understand is that no one nation or elite class can survive the climate catastrophe without saving the planet as a whole, given the multitude of interconnectedness of the earth’s eco- and geophysical/chemical/climate systems. In fact, allowing massive suffering in ‘unimportant’ regions will logically lead to further decimation of ecosystems and the transfer of their biomass carbon into the atmosphere, as people will be driven to seeking out the last of water and sustenance amid crop failures, droughts and wildfires… We are literally one people, sharing one fate. Human rights is not only a moral issue, it has very sound physical and existential basis.” – Maggie Zhou [Source]

 

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While Australia’s so called progressive left has been hollering about the environmental damage caused to our planet and lamenting the impact of climate change, they still find it “too difficult” to make a call for an end to Australia’s participation in the US/allied dirty war on Syria.

This resistance to speak out occurs even after the RAAF bombing massacre of a few days ago.

Those who remain silent continue to use the excuse of war complexities and “regime change” propaganda in the disinformation spread that travels from the US/UK to Australia – the disinformation shoved under our noses every day.

At least Ann Wright of Consortium News has the courage to ask these questions. As Wright reports in her article, “Greenwashing Wars And The U.S. Military,

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has come in for criticism due to its lack of attention to the detrimental effects of wars and military operations on nature. Considering the degree of harm to the environment coming from these human activities, one would think that the organization might have set aside some time at its World Conservation Congress this past week in Hawaii to specifically address these concerns.

Yet, of the more than 1,300 workshops crammed into the six-day marathon environmental meeting in Honolulu, followed by four days of discussion about internal resolutions, nothing specifically addressed the destruction of the environment by military operations and wars.

At a presentation at the USA Pavilion during the conference, senior representatives of the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy regaled the IUCN audience of conservationists with tales about caring for the environment, including protecting endangered species, on hundreds of U.S. military bases in the United States.The heavy funding the IUCN gets from governments is undoubtedly the rationale for not addressing this “elephant in the room” at a conference for the protection of the endangered planet – a tragic commentary on a powerful organization that should acknowledge all anti-environmental pressures.The presenters did not mention what is done on the over 800 U.S. military bases outside of the United States. In the one-hour military style briefing, the speakers failed to mention the incredible amounts of fossil fuels used by military aircraft, ships and land vehicles that leave mammoth carbon footprints around the world. Also not mentioned were wars that kill humans, animals and plants; military exercise bombing of entire islands and large swaths of land; and the harmful effects of the burn pits which have incinerated the debris of war in Afghanistan and Iraq.Each military service representative focused on the need for training areas to prepare the U.S. military to “keep peace in the world.” Of course, no mention was made of “keeping the peace” through wars of choice that have killed hundreds of thousands of persons, animals and plants, and the bombing of the cultural heritage in many areas around the world including Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia.

Such terrible human suffering and genocide is inflicted upon Syrians by an Australia purporting to be at war with ISIS.

I can only respond in this manner: I swear most people do not have a pulse.

Did it ever occur to you that war, climate change and the refugee crisis are linked?

It is thus very highly ironic that it is too taboo to discuss the ongoing displacement of people caused by war while being so concerned about refugees at the same time.

And yes it was the Australian Greens (Christine Milne) that pushed through cruel sanctions on Syria during Labour’s term in Australia: the same party purporting to care for refugees and the environment today.

Apparently it is also taboo to discuss the massive environmental devastation caused by war and imperialism.

 

[Diane Mantzaris is an Australian artist known for her pioneering application of digital imaging to printmaking and for her unconventional approach to image making, which is often both personal and political in content. Mantzaris pioneered the use of computers as a printmaking and art-making tool in the early to mid-1980s, exhibiting widely, nationally and throughout Asia in touring exhibitions, to considerable acclaim. Her practice now crosses into several fields associated with the visual arts, printmaking, drawing, photography, sculpture, performance and public art. She is represented in most state and public collections throughout Australia and significant private collections throughout Asia and Europe. She was was drawn into action over Syria while watching the events unfold with colleagues in Aleppo.]

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Diane Mantzaris ©
‘Garden of Eve: the Ages of Inhumanity’ 2012 
206cm (Height) x 120cm (Width) 
C-Type Photograph