Archives

The International Campaign to Destabilize Syria

The White Helmets Campaign for War not Peace – RLA and Nobel Peace Prize Nomination Should be Retracted

21st Century Wire

October 2, 2016

By Vanessa Beeley

 

george-bernard-shaw-56-67-26

 

‘A “prize for the champions of peace, meaning Suttner, IPB and the movement for peace throughout cooperation on a disarmed brotherhood of nations” – as promoted by the peace congresses.  Nobel’s letters to  Suttner leave no doubt that this was his intention and the, for eternity, legally binding, purpose of the prize.’ ~ Nobel Peace Prize Watch. 

The awakened world is still reeling in shock from the Right Livelihood Award being given to the US and NATO state construct, the White Helmets.  The White Helmets have been proven to be no more than a support network for Al Nusra Front and associated extremist terrorist groups.  In many documented instances, the White Helmets are more than a support group and have been accused of carrying out criminal acts alongside the recognised US coalition armed and funded terrorist factions.  Ultimately, the White Helmets contravene all international laws regulating the behaviour of a proclaimed humanitarian NGO.

In the following statement that will be presented to the board of the Right Livelihood Award, I lay out very clear evidence to support my argument that the RLA should be retracted and that the White Helmet’s Nobel Peace prize nomination is a travesty of what this prize should represent.

STATEMENT REQUESTING THE RETRACTION OF THE RIGHT LIVELIHOOD AWARD, GIVEN TO THE WHITE HELMETS.

My name is Vanessa Beeley.  I am an independent investigative journalist, writer and photographer based in France. I contribute regularly to various independent media sites such as 21st Century Wire, the Ron Paul Institute, Globalresearch, Mint Press. I have recently returned from a four week stay in Syria from 24 July until 26th August.  The first week, I went as a member of the US Peace Council delegation, and the subsequent three weeks I travelled independently to as many governorates as possible, including Aleppo, in order to continue my own investigation into the organisation known as the White Helmets.

My conclusion, after my eighteen-month long analysis and research into this organisation is that they are a US and UK Foreign Office construct, funded and equipped by nations that have a proven vested interest in their stated policy of regime change in Syria & a clear geopolitical agenda in the region.

The White Helmets claim to be neutral and ‘non-aligned,’ yet they actively promote and lobby for US/NATO state intervention, including a ‘No Fly Zone’ which violates Syrian sovereignty. The majority of legal scholars agree that enforcing a No Fly Zone is construed as an act of war.  This is in direct violation of the fundamental principles which underpin authentic humanitarian work and certainly not deserving of the Rights Livelihood Award.

I respectfully request that the members of the Rights Livelihood Award committee review their award of this prestigious award to the organisation known as the White Helmets.

I believe strongly that this award has been given in error, perhaps because not enough evidence was presented to the committee. I ask the committee to consider the following, documented, and supported evidence:

The White Helmets claim to be a “neutral, impartial, humanitarian NGO, with no official affiliation to any political or military actor and a commitment to render services to any in need regardless of sect or political affiliation.” I will now present evidence that should demonstrate the illegitimacy of these claims:

1: The White Helmets receive funding from UK ($65m via UK Foreign Office), US (US State Dept via USAID $ 23m), Holland ($ 4.5m), Germany ($ 7.87m) and Japan (undisclosed sum from the Intl Cooperation Agency), Denmark (undisclosed sum) – via the Mayday Rescue “foundation” that was set up by the British ex-military trainer of the White Helmets in order to transfer funding to the White Helmets. The White Helmets also receive equipment and supplies from various EU member states. This funding is concealed behind the generic heading of “Emergency Health and Relief Support to the Population Affected by the Crisis in Syria”, through the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG-ECHO), formerly known as the European Community Humanitarian Aid Office.

2:  The White Helmets were established in Gaziantep, Turkey, not in Syria.  They are largely trained in Turkey and Jordan, not inside Syria.

3: The White Helmets are embedded exclusively in areas of Syria occupied by listed terrorist organisations including Nusra Front and ISIS, along with various associated ‘moderate rebels’ such as Ahrar al Sham and Nour Al Din Zinki.  All these groups are responsible for carrying out ethnic cleansing operations and mass executions of the Syrian people. Nour Al Din Zinki was recently videoed beheading 12 year-old Palestinian child, Abdullah Issa. Like the White Helmets, all of these terrorist factions receive funding, training, equipment and support from the United States and its Coalition partners. A fact that is extensively documented.

4:  During the situation in Madaya, Syria in January 2016, the White Helmets in Idlib were photographed attending demonstrations & carrying banners that were calling for the “burning and destruction” of the towns of Kafarya and Foua. These are two Idlib villages under full siege by Ahrar Al Sham & Nusra Front (Al Qaeda in Syria) since March 2015, partial siege since 2012.  The siege ensures the starvation of villagers and daily shelling and sniping by Ahrar Al Sham and Nusra Front has killed over 1750 civilians during this time.

5: There is video and photographic evidence available that clearly shows the White Helmets participating in Nusra Front operations in the areas occupied or taken over by this organisation. There is one particularly damning video taken during the Nusra Front violent and brutal attack on Idlib City in March 2015. In this video White Helmet operatives are seen clearly beating a Syrian civilian prisoner of Nusra Front and circling the prisoner, mingling with heavily armed and hostile Nusra Front militia. Please watch:

6:  The White Helmets have been filmed “clearing up” after a Nusra Front execution of a civilian prisoner in Northern Aleppo.  Although the official statement from the White Helmets claims they arrived after the execution, the speed with which they appear (in video) immediately after the prisoner has been shot in the head, demonstrates clearly that they were on the scene and did nothing to prevent it.

7: Various other White Helmet operatives have posted videos of the torture and execution of Syrian Arab Army prisoners to their social media pages with celebratory comments.  One such operative, Muawiya Hassan Agha, is alleged to have been “sacked” for his participation in such executions.  However, despite various demands, an official statement has never been issued by the White Helmets to this effect. Neither have they publicly condemned the torture and execution of prisoners of war, an act that contravenes the Geneva Convention.  Warning graphic footage: 

8: The leader of the White Helmets, Raed Saleh, was deported from Dulles Airport in the US, April 2016.  No real explanation was ever given for this decision.  Mark Toner of the US State Department fielded questions from media but did (i) Admit to funding the group with $ 23m and (ii) suggest that Raed Saleh might have “extremist connections”.  Raed Saleh has recently been allowed back into the US in September 2016 and spoke at the UN New York with the Dutch Mission.  However, no explanation has been given for this reversal of the previous decision to deport Saleh.

9: The White Helmets are also referred to as the ‘Syria Civil Defence.’ However, there is an existing Syria Civil Defence. The REAL Syria Civil Defence was established in Syria in 1953.  I met with crews in Aleppo, Lattakia, Tartous and Damascus during my four weeks in Syria.  The REAL Syria Civil Defence were founder members of the ICDO [International Civil Defence Organisation] which is affiliated with the UN, WHO, OCHA, Red Cross, Red Crescent.  The REAL Syria Civil Defence are still paying annual subscriptions to the ICDO of 20,000 Swiss Francs.  The REAL Syria Civil Defence do operate in both terrorist and government held areas, they operate with equipment that has been decimated by the war & sanctions and they do not receive up to $150 m in funding from the US, UK and EU states. The Real Syria Civil Defence are recruited and trained inside Syria.

10: During interviews with the REAL Syria Civil Defence, they informed me that the Nusra Front and associated ‘moderate rebels’ who invaded areas such as East Aleppo, Raqqa, Deir Ezzor, Idlib, massacred crew members of the REAL Syria Civil Defence and stole the majority of their equipment in those areas, including fire engines and ambulances. Many of these armed groups then became White Helmet operatives. Testimony from the REAL Syria Civil Defence suggests that the White Helmets are acting as support for Nusra Front, ISIS and other heavily armed militia described as “moderate rebels”.

11: On multiple occasions, the White Helmets have been exposed staging rescue scenes for both photo and video, recycling images of children and incidents from the conflict in Syria, to support their narrative, editing video which misrepresents the scene in question, using images from a previous incident or even fake images altogether. There are many documented instances of this.

12: The White Helmets have been filmed describing Syrian Arab Army bodies as “trash” and one particular video shows them standing on top of a pile of SAA soldier’s bodies, whose boots have been removed or stolen.  The White Helmets talk about the bodies in pejorative terms and they flick a victory V sign as the truck drives off.

13: There are many images documented, that reveal the White Helmet operatives carrying arms or posing with arms alongside the various armed militia including Nusra Front.  There is also further footage from Idlib showing White Helmet operatives celebrating alongside Nusra Front militia after the massacre of Syrian Arab Army forces and Syrian civilians during this attack.

14: Adulatory publicity about the White Helmets is the result of a multimillion dollar sustained commercial marketing and social media promotional campaign via a network that is funded by George Soros and various US, UK and Middle Eastern enterprises. The PR network is as follows: Avaaz – Purpose – Syria Campaign – White Helmets.  The funding connects back to these organisations and US State-funded entities who have a vested interest in events in Syria. This is also extensively documented.

15: Analysts have observed, the White Helmets achieve on average 4 or 5 videos per day, depicting their heroic rescue efforts. The REAL Syria Civil Defence have evaluated these videos and cast doubt as to the White Helmets being true first responders or USAR (Urban Search and Rescue) experts.  They pinpointed various anomalies (i) the equipment used is too heavyweight for the delicate operation of finding bodies beneath collapsed buildings (ii) the treatment of injured bodies is dangerous, they are flung onto stretchers with no back support or neck brace, for example.  Many of the paramedic procedures shown on film are also deemed questionable. The White Helmets rarely travel without a sizeable camera team or crew of mobile phone cameramen. The REAL Syria Civil Defence do not.

16: While in Aleppo, I conducted a short video interview with Dr Bassem Hayak of the Aleppo Medical Association, based in West Aleppo. Dr Hayak still has family trapped in East Aleppo.  Dr Hayak told me that his family and the majority of civilians in East Aleppo (occupied by Nusra Front and an estimated 22 brigades of armed militants) do not know who the White Helmets are which begs the question, where are they conducting their much promoted humanitarian work? Dr Hayak also said that UN agencies in East Aleppo who work with the Aleppo Medical Association are not aware of the White Helmets.

In summary, this evidence points to the White Helmets being a US, UK, EU creation established in 2013, and not an independent NGO.  It is a multi-million dollar US Coalition funded organisation. It is funded by governments involved & invested in the Syrian conflict. No one can rightly call this a grass-roots Syrian organisation.

There is an existing Syria Civil Defence that is being ignored by western media.  Running parallel there is a vast fund raising network constructed to collect money which is funnelled into the pseudo White Helmets designed to replace the authentic Syria Civil Defence in the minds of the western public. The REAL Syria Civil Defence is crippled by US and EU sanctions, the White Helmets have never been affected by these sanctions, their supply chain via Turkey is unbroken.

Conservative estimates put White Helmets funding at over $150 million thus far, which is far more than any real NGO would ever require in a decade, much less 3 years. Tax payers in funding countries have a right to know precisely what their money is funding.

The evidence demonstrates that the White Helmets are sectarian not impartial. They are in many instances, armed not unarmed. The promotional material produced for the White Helmets such as the recent Netflix documentary film, is often produced outside of Syria, usually in Turkey, and with any field footage supplied by the White Helmets. Who has verified the authenticity of this footage, or photographs?

The White Helmets are feeding images of “humanitarian disaster” and “war crimes” to the very same western nations who are funding them, and to politicians and media outlets who are using these visual narratives, with the explicit purpose of lobbying for a US, UK Foreign Office proposed, “Safe Zone” or “No Fly Zone” in Syria. Recent history teaches us, this No Fly Zone policy carries with it the threat of reducing Syria to a Libya-style “failed state.”

Effectively, this organisation campaigns for an escalation of war in Syria.

Many of their ‘campaigns’ have since been discredited as “war fiction”, and yet they are being used by the US Coalition as justification for continuing and increased economic and diplomatic sanctions, sanctions which are a collective punishment on the Syrian people, while the US coalition persists with equipping and arming the various militia on the ground in Syria, including Nusra Front (al Qaeda in Syria).

This only serves to ensure even more suffering and bloodshed inside Syria.

The presentation of the Right Livelihood Award to the White Helmets will ultimately discredit the Right Livelihood Foundation. More crucially, the awarding of this prize to a suspect and fraudulent organisation serves to perpetuate a western-sponsored conflict in Syria which has only delayed the possibility of any real peaceful resolution.

We call on the leaders of the Right Livelihood Foundation to investigate the evidence presented in this statement and to retract the RLA award, if this evidence is proven sufficient to disqualify the White Helmets.

Thank you for your consideration of this very important matter.

Vanessa Beeley

US Peace Council member (part of recent US Peace Council delegation to Syria July 2016)

1-White-Helmets-Syria
UK Column infographic depicting the US and NATO deep state connections of the White Helmets

All related links:

White Helmets and Mayday Rescue:
The Syrian Civil Defence: Wikipedia

21st Century Wire article on the White Helmets:  
Syria’s White Helmets: War by Way of Deception ~ the “Moderate” Executioners

21st Century Wire compilation of most important articles and talks on the White Helmets:
Who are the Syria White Helmets

Original investigative report: 
The REAL Syria Civil Defence Exposes Fake White Helmets as Terrorist-Linked Imposters

Cory Morningstar report:
Investigation into the funding sources of the White Helmets, including Avaaz, Purpose, The Syria Campaign

Open letter to Canadian MPs from Stop the War Hamilton (Canada):
Letter from the Hamilton Coalition to Stop War to the New Democratic Party in Canada ref the White Helmet nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize:

Open letter to Canada’s NDP Leader on Nobel Prize:
Letter to NDP from Prof. John Ryan protesting White Helmet nomination for RLA and Nobel Peace Prize.

Rick Sterling report:
White Helmets Deceive Right Livelihood and Code Pink

nobel-death

“White Helmet” “Save Aleppo” Protest Proves How Easy it is to Dress Up Actors as “War Victims”

Land Destroyer Report

October 3, 2016

by Tony Cartalucci

 

Recent protests held across North America and Europe staged by supporters of armed militants in Syria have staged scenes in Western streets eerily similar to those featured in the photos and videos of the US-European funded “Syrian Civil Defence” also known as the “White Helmets.”

Image: This is not Aleppo, Syria, but rather the streets of Europe where a recent “save Aleppo” protest was staged. Actors posing in fake dust and blood proved just how easy it is for anyone to create “war victims” anytime, anywhere. 
Saudi state media, Al Arabiya English would report in an October 1, 2016 article titled, “Worldwide protest against Assad, Russia to ‘save Aleppo’,” that:

The stalling talks between international powers on Syria – with Russia ramping up its air raid campaign – has ignited worldwide protests calling for an end to the horror in Aleppo.

Protestors in Turkey, France, Netherlands, America and Canada took to the streets opposing Bashar al-Assad’s and Russia’s crimes in Aleppo, carrying posters that read “Stop bombing Aleppo” and “Save Aleppo”.

Al Arabiya’s ironic hand-wringing over Syria as Riyadh devastates Yemen with its own aerial bombardment and ground incursion, attempts to portray eastern Aleppo as a horrific cauldron where“where more than 250,000 civilians are trapped without food or clean water.”


And while undoubtedly war is raging in eastern Aleppo, it should be noted that the vast majority of Aleppo’s population – 1.75 million in fact – live in the government-controlled majority of Aleppo.  But despite this reality, the West and its allies – including Saudi Arabia – have attempted to use their sway over international public opinion to exaggerate Syrian security operations and fabricate a “humanitarian catastrophe” to serve as yet another pretext for wider Western intervention.

Central to this appeal to public opinion has been the so-called “White Helmets,” also referred to as the “Syrian Civil Defence” despite the nation of Syria already having a legitimate, professional civil defense force.

Posing as an impartial rescue force, the “White Helmets” are transparently auxiliaries serving exclusively side-by-side armed militants including US State Department, UN, and EU designated foreign terrorist organizations. Their primary function is not “rescuing” anyone, but to manage a public relations campaign aimed at swaying public and political opinion, leveraging “humanitarian” sympathy worldwide.

Their primary means of doing this is publishing photos and videos of their members – wearing elaborate, matching uniforms and driving brand new ambulances – pulling dust and blood covered victims from rubble allegedly brought down upon them by Syrian and Russian airstrikes.

 
The veracity of their photos, videos, and many claims have never been independently verified, and in many cases, evidence suggests that much of what they present to the public across their extensive, well-funded social media presence has been fabricated.

The recent coordinated “save Aleppo” protests held across Europe and North America, perhaps revealed just how transparently fabricated and fictional the “White Helmet’s” work really is. During one protest, photos retweeted by the official “White Helmet’s” Twitter account showed actors dressed up as “war victims,” covered in fake dust and blood, appearing almost indistinguishable from the alleged “victims” the “White Helmets” regularly “save” in Syria.

The protest, staged in European streets far from the Syrian conflict, even included children – likewise covered in fake dust and blood – cradled in the arms of adults, posing with despondent looks upon their faces.  Also part of the staged scene were actors dressed like the “White Helmets” themselves.

Image: The only difference between admittedly staged scenes in European streets during a recent “save Aleppo” protest, and the daily output of the Western created and funded “White Helmets” acting  troupe in Syria is that in Syria, the devastation of war provides a much more convincing “set” for the actors to perform on. 

 

While the acting troupe that organized this protest may have thought they were cleverly “bringing the conflict to the streets of Europe” to invoke global sympathy for their cause, what they really proved was just how easy it really is for the “White Helmets” to create “war victims” anytime, anywhere.

In Syria, where years of US-backed violence has left many parts of the country devastated, such staged scenes playing out with the devastation of war as a backdrop become all the much more convincing. With “White Helmet” videos heavily edited before reaching the public, they are able to create tragic scenes of war, anytime, anywhere – even in the streets of Europe thousands of miles away from where Syrian and Russian warplanes are operating.

Their primary goal and that of the special interests funding them tens of millions of dollars, is to manipulate the hearts and minds of the global public in support of Western-backed armed militants – not “save lives” nor bring peace to Syria.

AVAAZ: Washington’s Merchant of War Peddles the No Fly Zone in Syria, Calls for Another Libya

21st Century Wire

October 3, 2016

avaaz-nfz

Presently, the Syrian Arab Army and allies are advancing inexorably towards the liberation of Aleppo from the hordes of US coalition-funded terrorist brigades, headed up by Al Nusra Front aka Al Qaeda, and Washington’s foreign policy is in turmoil.  Despite its best efforts, the US coalition ‘intervention’ in Syria has been an unmitigated disaster, having hit the brick wall of President Bashar Al Assad’s popularity and also the fortitude of the Syrian people in withstanding everything the US coalition has flung at it, militarily and on the multimillion dollar propaganda front. Now an increasingly frustrated US coalition has pulled what they believe to be the Ace in their pack of public-perception-altering cards. 

Once again, the activist website Avaaz has been deployed, the flagship of the fleet of media and propaganda vessels all pouring forth the narrative that supports the US coalition demands  for a “we-fly-you-dont-zone”.  This week, Avaaz launched their No Fly Zone petition.  The infamous No Fly Zone petition that heralded the destruction of Libya in 2011, has now been tailored and dressed up, to be used against Syria. The language is clear: this petition calls for war.

Emotively labeled the “Protect Aleppo’s Children Now!” campaign, Avaaz has pulled out all the stops:

“There are no good options to end the war in Syria. But inaction is the worst one. A no-fly zone will mean that an international coalition can threaten to down planes that try to bomb Northern Syria. Almost 70% of Avaaz members support it. 8% oppose. Hesitation to use force to protect people is understandable and wise. But imagine it was our kids being bombed, what would we want the world to do? ”

This is a call to arms, and Avaaz is beating the drums of war once more.  Where the US administration has failed to garner support for a military escalation, Avaaz has taken on the mantle of chief warmonger and its not the first time.

obamaperriello
In Welcome to the Brave New World, Morningstar examines  Avaaz director, Perriello’s career and relationship with war criminals like Obama and his former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. (Both Avaaz and 350 board members supported the attack on Syria.) Avaaz, says Morningstar, is arguably “the world’s most powerful NGO.” (Photo: WKOG)

This article by Cory Morningstar was first published in 2013 at Wrong Kind of Green, but is eerily relevant today as the war drums echo across the US and Europe.

AVAAZ: SYRIA & LIBYA ~ THE ART OF WAR

“The Western Left had no such excuse in 2011, when Libya was being attacked. Here we had a small nation, of only six million people, under attack from the most devastating military power ever put together. 120 Cruise missiles fired in the first few days, and then over 26,000 sorties by NATO military aircraft, over an eight month period. To put that into perspective, its adds up to 150 bombing raids per day on a population the size of Ireland’s – every single day – for eight months. And all through, the Western Left cheered on the smashing of the Socialist state infrastructure and cheered on the racist lynch mobs…

 

…this same Left would have become the cheerleaders for a genocidal, racist, campaign against a Socialist state, with one of the highest standards of living in the Developing World, and with a human rights record that was gaining widespread praise in the UN? Not to mention an advanced system of Direct Democracy…

 

Without having any real idea of who or what these “rebels” were, the Western Left became complicit. They were sucked in. Joyfully sucked in. They filled out the missing spaces with their fantasies of democratic protestors, valiantly standing up to the Viagra drugged soldiers of a hated dictator. That a million Libyans came out and filled Green Square, under the threat of NATO bombing, to show their support for Muammar al-Gaddafi was easily overlooked. A seduced person, a person who is loving the thrill of being seduced, no longer has any use for truth or facts. And so, even after the brutal murder of Muammar al-Gaddafi, by drone and fighter jet attack, and then by a crazed mob, the madness of the Western Left continued…” —Donnchadh Mac an Ghoill, The “Arab Spring” and the Seduction of the Western Left

As Avaaz continues to beat the drums of war, it is critical to reflect upon the vital role Avaaz served in framing the attack on Libya as not only palatable, but righteous and moral. The No Fly Zone placed upon Libya, which Avaaz relentlessly campaigned for, facilitated the complete annihilation of Libya and the slaughter of tens of thousands of her citizens.

Today, Libya is absolutely destroyed and in deep turmoil. Yet, two years later, Avaaz continues to push for the same in Syria: a no fly zone and the implementation of the Responsibility to Protect doctrine by the United Nations. Few would be surprised, if only they knew, that a key founder of Avaaz is none other than pro-war Tom Perriello, a former U.S. Representative (represented the 5th District of Virginia from 2008 to 2010) and a founding member of the House Majority Leader’s National Security Working Group. Perriello’s curriculum vitae, built upon privilege within elite circles, is extensive.

The following is an excerpt from Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II, Section I, written by Cory Morningstar, published on Sept 24, 2012.

“The call for a no-fly zone originated from Libyans – including the provisional opposition government, Libya’s (defected) ambassador to the UN, protesters, and youth organizations.”

Today Avaaz claims 13,649,421 members, 70,432,165 “actions” (taken since January 2007) and 194 countries with Avaaz members according to the information provided by Avaaz, retrieved on 2 March 2012. During the typing of this single paragraph, the Avaaz membership rose by 30 people to 13,649,451. [Avaaz Facts]

The members are primarily citizens residing within Imperialist or wealthy states. Consider the following three examples: (Stats retrieved from the Avaaz global “membership” virtual map.)

Avaaz members situated in United States: 923,968

Avaaz members situated in Canada: 667,592

Avaaz members situated in Libya: 3,167

On 10 March 2010, John Hilary challenged Avaaz in a Guardian article titled “Internet activists should be careful what they wish for in Libya. Calls for a no-fly zone over Libya ignore the perils of intervention. Long-term solutions aren’t as simple as the click of a mouse.”

Hilary writes:

“A no-fly zone would almost certainly draw Nato countries into further military involvement in Libya, replacing the agency of the Libyan people with the control of those governments who have shown scant regard for their welfare. As long as the oil kept flowing, western governments have been happy to prop up dictators who kept a heavy boot on their people’s freedom. Libyans are unlikely to be grateful to be bombed by those same western governments attempting to enforce a no-fly zone. Indeed such action would help Muammar Gaddafi by justifying his rhetoric about foreign intervention, not to mention stopping fledgling revolutions across the region in their tracks.

 

Clearly a no-fly zone makes foreign intervention sound rather humanitarian – putting the emphasis on stopping bombing, even though it could well lead to an escalation of violence.

 

No wonder, too, that it is rapidly becoming a key call of hawks on both sides of the Atlantic. The military hierarchy, with their budgets threatened by government cuts, surely cannot believe their luck – those who usually oppose wars are openly campaigning for more military involvement.”

Although Hilary knowingly or otherwise dismisses the very real foreign intervention as “rhetoric” while not divulging the fact that the “fledgling revolutions” he speaks of were instigated/infiltrated/financed by foreign interests, Hilary ends with a prophetic note:

“Calling for military intervention is a huge step – the life and death of hundreds of thousands of people might hang in the balance. The difference between the ease of the action and the impact of the consequence is vast.

 

In the Spanish civil war many brave people felt so strongly that they sacrificed their own lives to support the struggle against fascism in that country. How incredible it would have seemed to them, less than a hundred years later, that people would be using a click of their mouse to send armies to fight battles that might end in the death of so many others.”

Avaaz’s campaign director, Ben Wikler, posted a comment in response to Hilary’s article [in red]. Bold emphasis have been added.

“Dear John,

“Thanks for this piece. Sorry that you felt we got this wrong. We’re doing our best and of course, people of good will with similar values can sometimes disagree. Here’s a bit more background and explanation for you on our decision on the no-fly zone –

Avaaz is people-powered. Our member community makes the calls. We use polls to gauge members’ views; 84% of members supported this campaign, while 9% opposed it. Since launching it, we’ve found intense support for the campaign from around the world.

Our staff also play a key role in consulting with leading experts around the world (and most of our staff have policy as well as advocacy backgrounds) on each of the campaigns we run, and Libya was no exception.

In some ways, we work a lot like journalists like you do, talking to people and weighing the facts before we form conclusions. However, our staff’s personal conclusions also have to pass the test of our membership being strongly supportive of any position we take.

We’re acutely aware of your and some others’ objections to this campaign. Here are the main issues that people have raised, and where we’re coming from regarding them:

Would imposing a no-fly zone really be a Western military intervention motivated by oil?

If Western powers use the no-fly zone as a pretext for self-interested military action, Avaaz would be among the first groups to campaign against it – just as Avaaz has campaigned to end the Iraq conflict and ensure that Iraq’s oil rights are reserved for the Iraqi people.

The call for a no-fly zone originated from Libyans – including the provisional opposition government, Libya’s (defected) ambassador to the UN, protesters, and youth organizations.

The same Libyan groups have strongly opposed any western military presence on Libyan soil. They clearly feel that a no-fly zone is not equivalent to or a step towards invasion.Avaaz staff are in close and constant contact with activists inside Libya and have been repeatedly asked to move forward on this campaign.

Meanwhile, among governments, Gulf States have demanded the no-fly zone, and the U.S. government, far from itching to move ahead, appears deeply divided on the idea.

Furthermore, our advocacy has been for the UN Security Council to authorize a no-fly zone, not any coalition of western nations. You can bet that China and Russia will not sign off on a no-fly zone if they think it’s a cover for a Western oil grab.

Would imposing a no-fly zone lead to a full-blown international war?

No-fly zones can mean a range of different things. Some analysts and military figures have argued that it would require a pre-emptive attack on Libya’s anti-aircraft weapons. Others, however, contend that merely flying fighter planes over the rebel-controlled areas would ensure that Qaddafi wouldn’t use his jets to attack eastern Libya, because he knows his air force is weaker than that of Egypt or NATO states. The best solution is the one that reduces civilian deaths the most with the least violence. Things might not turn out as expected, but while there are potential dangers to an international war, there are certain dangers to civilians if things continue without a no-fly zone.

Is Qaddafi really killing civilians with this air force?

Based on reports from our partners on the ground, from the Red Cross, and from a variety of local and international news reports, we believe Qaddafi’s bombing runs are indeed killing civilians. Qaddafi’s air power is a key advantage over those fighting to remove him: as long as he has control of the air, attacks seem likely to continue for months or even longer, with disastrous consequences for civilians.

Wouldn’t a UN resolution for a no-fly zone violate national sovereignty?

We believe that the international community has a responsibility to protect civilians when national governments threaten their fundamental human rights.

National sovereignty should not be a legitimate barrier to international action when crimes against humanity are being committed. If you strongly disagree, then you may find yourself at odds with other Avaaz campaigns as well.

All told, this was a difficult judgment call.

Calling for any sort of military response always is. Avaaz members have been advocating for weeks for a full set of non-military options as well, including an asset freeze, targeted sanctions, and prosecutions of officials involved in the violent crackdown on demonstrators.

But although those measures are moving forward, the death toll is rising. Again, thoughtful people can disagree – but in the Avaaz community’s case, only 9% of our thoughtful people opposed this position – somewhat surprising given that we have virtually always advocated for peaceful methods to resolve conflict in the past. We think it was the best position to take given the balance of expert opinion, popular support, and most of all, the rights and clearly expressed desire of the Libyan people.

Respectfully,

Ben Wikler

Let’s break this down. In the Avaaz rebuttal Wikler states:

“Avaaz is people-powered. Our member community makes the calls. We use polls to gauge members’ views; 84% of members supported this campaign, while 9% opposed it. Since launching it, we’ve found intense support for the campaign from around the world.”

The question must be asked – why does “intense support of the campaign from around the world” from an organization co-founded by MoveOn that, as stated in 2002, caters to members comprised of “mostly white, highly educated, computer savvy … and willing to give dough” supersede the rights of a sovereign nation and her citizens against foreign interference?

How would unleashing a military operation in Libya affect Avaaz constituents attending Harvard? In fact, the Avaaz demographic is one that is being trained to not think – just click. Indeed, critical thinking is a detriment and a very real threat to the entire Avaaz phenomenon. Surely, the “wish” for foreign intervention and no-fly zones (more commonly known as war and bombs) should only be considered by those who will be affected directly by such a military campaign.

As Avaaz states, their Libyan membership is a mere 3,167 people – one must ask how Avaaz considers the 3,167 Libyan Avaaz “members” as representative of “the Libyan people” in a country with (prior to the invasion) a population of almost 6 million citizens.

“This world exists simply to satisfy the needs—including, importantly, the sentimental needs—of white people and Oprah.” — Teju Cole

The fact is that the Libyan people as a society had no representation in the Avaaz campaign calling for foreign military intervention to be inflicted upon the Libyan tribal society. In spite of Wikler’s ridiculous rhetoric, the fact is Libyan citizens were considered by Avaaz to hold little significance.

Avaaz, iconic symbol of the white ivory towers of justice, followed in the path of other international NGOs in the racist ideology that the belief system upheld by the “educated” “middleclass” in the wealthy states is far superior to any contrary beliefs and ideologies of tribal/civil societies in African and Arab nations. It is only the people from within these privileged classes whose opinions matter, hence the victorious proclamation of the 84% support.

The Avaaz position is even more problematic when you consider the following.

What constitutes becoming an Avaaz “member”? As with the other “online activism” NGOS, Avaaz’s actual membership is open to interpretation. For example, Avaaz affiliate GetUp states, “Join the movement of 589,261 Australians. Become a member now.”

However, this figure is derived from the entire database of signed GetUp petitions, whereby each signatory is automatically enlisted as “a member.” [6] As Avaaz is modeled after GetUp and MoveOn, and considering the membership increases rapidly within a 60 second time-frame, one can assume with certainty that an Avaaz “membership” is instantly granted to each and every individual signing a petition. This ruse serves as a brilliant method of disguising where the majority of their largesse (i.e., investment) originated from (i.e., the corporate state) while further reinforcing the false impression that their funding originated from grassroots sources.

(The latest feel-good consumer NGO (first media mention 29 November 2011, first “tweet” on 4 November 2011), yet another thinking person’s nightmare named SumOfUs, already boasts 262,950 members worldwide. Where did these members come from? Affiliated NGO membership lists?)

If one signed an Avaaz petition in 2007, long before realizing whose interests this organization truly represents, is this same individual still considered a member in 2012? If 3,167 Libyan Avaaz members signed an Avaaz petition in 2008 to save elephants in Africa, this does not constitute a Libyan majority demanding military interference in 2011.

Wikler states:

“Our staff also play a key role in consulting with leading experts around the world (and most of our staff have policy as well as advocacy backgrounds) on each of the campaigns we run, and Libya was no exception.”

The question is, just exactly who are these experts Avaaz continues to refer to? Nowhere does Avaaz disclose these “experts” nor their affiliations. And which institutions and societies shaped their policy and advocacy backgrounds?

 Wikler states:

“If Western powers use the no-fly zone as a pretext for self-interested military action, Avaaz would be among the first groups to campaign against it.”

Yet, there has been a massive amount of evidence demonstrating, unequivocally, that this was exactly what the pretext was. “Self-interested military action” is exactly what happened, which begs the question – what happened to Avaaz claiming they “would be among the first groups to campaign against it”?

Not only does Avaaz contradict this statement, but this organization has done NOTHING to inform the public of any evidence of the deliberate destruction of Libya under the guise of a “humanitarian war.” To this day, not only is there NO EVIDENCE to support this invasion (made possible by the collaboration of yet another 77 NGOs), rather, there is a massive amount of evidence to the contrary.

This was a well-planned, deliberate destabilization project that unleashed hell on a sovereign country – a country that had neither attacked nor invaded another nation. Avaaz has never released any material criticizing the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by NATO and the rebel militias that Avaaz was supporting. Nor has Avaaz shared with their supporters the horrific, racist rebel crimes and ethnic cleansing that NATO turned a blind eye to, and that were thoroughly documented throughout the invasion upon Libya. On the shocking racial atrocities filmed and documented in Tawergha, the white ivory towers remain silent. Aside from the evidence, prior to the invasion of Libya, and after, one would think that the “experts” of Avaaz would have vast knowledge of how destabilization campaigns are strategically planned and carried out by Imperialist states as documented in past and recent history. And of course, when one looks at the background of the founders who comprise Avaaz, we can understand they knew full well.

Wikler states:

“The call for a no-fly zone originated from Libyans – including the provisional opposition government, Libya’s (defected) ambassador to the UN, protesters, and youth organizations.”

As for Libya’s (defected) ambassador to the UN: “Just a few days after the street protests began, on February 21, the very quick to defect Libyan deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Ibrahim Dabbashi, stated: ‘We are expecting a real genocide in Tripoli. The airplanes are still bringing mercenaries to the airports.’ This is excellent: a myth that is composed of myths. With that statement he linked three key myths together – the role of airports (hence the need for that gateway drug of military intervention: the no-fly zone), the role of “mercenaries” (meaning, simply, black people), and the threat of ‘genocide‘ (geared toward the language of the UN’s doctrine of the Responsibility to Protect). As ham-fisted and wholly unsubstantiated as the assertion was, he was clever in cobbling together three ugly myths, one of them grounded in racist discourse and practice that endures to the present, with newer atrocities reported against black Libyan and African migrants on a daily basis. He was not alone in making these assertions.” [Source: TOP TEN MYTHS IN NATO’S WAR AGAINST LIBYA]

It is an outrageous statement to claim it was the wish of the Libyan people to impose a military zone upon their own country. Further, the defected ambassador was clearly carrying out duties for the Imperialist states. Who were these protestors and youth organizations Avaaz speaks of? Are these the Libyans that comprise the 3,167 Libyan Avaaz members? Are they the youth groups set up by Avaaz funder and partner, the Soros Open Society Institute? Are they connected with the U.S.-funded Otpor or funded by another NGO fed by the U.S. administration? Nowhere is this information disclosed. Further, do the 3,167 Libyan Avaaz members actually live in Libya? Did all 3,167 Libyan Avaaz members sign the Avaaz petition, essentially demanding that their country become a war zone?

Wikler states:

“The same Libyan groups have strongly opposed any western military presence on Libyan soil. They clearly feel that a no-fly zone is not equivalent to or a step towards invasion. Avaaz staff are in close and constant contact with activists inside Libya and have been repeatedly asked to move forward on this campaign.”

It is beyond obvious that a no-fly zone in an oil rich country would open the door to Imperialist vultures. Who told these so-called “Libyan Groups” (whoever they are we do not know) such a ridiculous thing, “that a no-fly zone is not equivalent to or a step towards invasion”? One must assume this information was conveyed to the “Libyan Groups” by the Avaaz “experts” since the Avaaz staff claim they were “in close and constant contact with activists inside Libya.” Further, in response to the proposed no-fly zone, Wikler goes on to say “there are potential dangers to an international war…” One must question why Wikler is aware of the potential of international war in response to a no-fly zone while the “Libyan Groups” believe (according to Avaaz) that “a no-fly zone is not equivalent to or a step towards invasion.”

Wikler states:

“Meanwhile, among governments, Gulf States have demanded the no-fly zone, and the U.S. government, far from itching to move ahead, appears deeply divided on the idea.”

Yet, as Wikler convinced and assured the Guardian readership that the U.S. was hesitant to “intervene” in Libya, the reality was that two U.S. destroyers and a number of missile-launching submarines were in fact already deployed and headed for the Libyan coast. These destroyers decisively delivered 110 Tomahawk missiles 9 days later on 19 March 2011 as part of the military operation titled “Operation Odyssey Dawn.”

“The Royal Navy bought 65 Tomahawks in 1995 at a cost of $1 million (£650,000) each from U.S. defence firm Raytheon Systems. Two American destroyers, the U.S.S Barry and Stout, have been deployed. According to a Pentagon source, each carries up to 96 Tomahawk missiles.” [Source]

19 March 2011: “Cruise missiles from U.S. submarines and frigates began the attack on the anti-aircraft system. A senior defense official speaking on background said the attacks will ‘open up the environment so we could enforce the no-fly zone from east to west throughout Libya.’” [Source]

Wikler states:

“[T]here are certain dangers to civilians if things continue without a no-fly zone.”

Perhaps Wikler was speaking to certain dangers to American and European civilians if Gaddafi were to have succeeded in replacing the U.S. dollar and the Euro with an African Dinar, backed by gold, to build unity and autonomy throughout African nations. Perhaps he was referring to civilians who are living under an economic system that is dependent upon the continued exploitation and stealing of other nations’ vast resources. As Libya was a nation with no debt, interest-free loans, free education, free healthcare, and a state-of-the-art water system and a country that held the highest standard of living in Africa, it is difficult to imagine what exactly Libyans would have been fearing aside from a pending invasion by Imperialist states.

Wikler states:

“Based on reports from our partners on the ground, from the Red Cross, and from a variety of local and international news reports, we believe Qaddafi’s bombing runs are indeed killing civilians.”

Wikler is purposely vague. What reports exactly are they referring to? What partners?

March 1st Pentagon Briefing:

Q: Do you see any evidence that [Gaddafi] actually has fired on his own people from the air?  There were reports of it, but do you have independent confirmation? If so, to what extent? Secretary of Defence – ROBERT GATES:

A: “We’ve seen the press reports, but we have no confirmation of that,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs – Admiral MICHAEL MULLEN

A: “That’s correct. We’ve seen no confirmation whatsoever.”

In the following video, General Wesley Clark explains the Libyan invasion, Syria and Somalia, all planned years in advance: 

Wikler states:

“We believe that the international community has a responsibility to protect civilians when national governments threaten their fundamental human rights.”

Here Wikler echoes the current dogma being repeated incessantly by the U.S. administration and their corporate media lackeys. If Avaaz truly had any “experts” on civilian interests trumping those of corporate interests, Avaaz would tell us that this is merely language designed to facilitate societal acceptance of war by presenting it as “humanitarian intervention” and “responsibility to protect” (R2P). Prior to this lovely terminology, it was formerly known as “the Right to Intervene.”

Wikler states:

“Again, thoughtful people can disagree – but in the Avaaz community’s case, only 9% of our thoughtful people opposed this position – somewhat surprising given that we have virtually always advocated for peaceful methods to resolve conflict in the past. We think it was the best position to take given the balance of expert opinion, popular support, and most of all, the rights and clearly expressed desire of the Libyan people.”

This highlights a very dangerous experiment, and now precedent, set by Avaaz. Wikler openly expresses that they were surprised to find only 9% of their “membership” (based upon their polls) opposed a no-fly zone. Wikler stating that this position was “somewhat surprising given that we have virtually always advocated for peaceful methods to resolve conflict in the past” is, by his own admission, acknowledging that this new direction is one that is not peaceful. One should note that all NGOs use polls and marketing executives to create and lay out most all campaigns and campaign strategies. Avaaz is no exception; rather, Avaaz should be considered the rule.

Avaaz’s integration into militarism can be seen in their continual polling that outlines, in essence, what citizens are responsive to, and what they are willing to tolerate. In the 13 January 2010 global Avaaz poll, participants were asked to rate 6 priorities in order of importance. The stated priorities from which one could choose included human rights, torture and genocide (#2), democracy movements and tyrannical regimes (#3) war, peace and security (#4) and corruption and abuse of power (#5). Incidentally number 1 was climate change, however after the failed Copenhagen climate talks, this issue was no longer considered a hot commodity for NGO branding purposes and thus the campaign on climate was, for the most part, abandoned altogether. All other proposed “choices” are key elements/issues associated with militarism.

How Wikler and his Avaaz cohorts sleep at night, knowing the Avaaz campaign contributed to the annihilation of as many as 100,000 Libyan civilians and unleashed a racial war, is anyone’s guess. Although it certainly must help when one is surrounded by like-minded people who all reinforce your distorted world views while reassuring each other that each is more brilliant than the other and the end justifies the means.

This is the beauty and the power of neo-liberalism activism conformity. It allows one to behave like an asshole, while those indoctrinated into the same belief system, including corporate and so-called “progressive” media, portray you as a celebrity. The oligarchy’s willingness to ensure the egos remain plump and well-nourished is strategic. This ensures that the narcissist’s delusions are reinforced while simultaneously ensuring any doubt is cast far away.

No one wishes to be ostracized from the champagne circuit. Wikler recently left Avaaz to become Executive Vice President at Change.org, another Soros (for-profit) NGO, while thousands upon thousands of Libyans paid the ultimate price for his campaign, which can be found on the Avaaz website under recent “victories.” Ben Wikler’s compensation as Avaaz Campaign Director in 2010 was a reported $111,384 (990 Form).

Not everyone was so gullible. One reader (“derazed”) comments beneath the Guardian article:

“Up until its latest, I had appreciated Avaaz – even gave some money in the direction of providing Arab activists telecommunications equipment. When the no-fly email arrived, I created my own “no fly” zone – by terminating my email relationship with Avaaz. The internet and real-life events have taught me something about warmongers in virtual clothing.”

[28 March 2011: Fortune-500 funded Brookings Institution’s “Libya’s Test of the New International Order” is reported on – exposing the war as not one of a “humanitarian” nature, but one aimed explicitly at establishing an international order and the primacy of international law.]

***

 

FURTHER READING:

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

FURTHER READING:

WHO ARE SYRIA’S WHITE HELMETS (terrorist linked)?

VIDEO: Netflix and The White Helmets, ‘Hand in Hand with Al Qaeda’

21st Century Wire

September 15, 2016

by Vanessa Beeley

 

motto-2

Has Netflix revealed itself to be another deep state conscript? The recent Syria White Helmet promotional movie has caused uproar among people awakened to the US, UK state and intelligence agency involvement in this pseudo ‘first responder’ faux NGO outfit that has infiltrated Syria on behalf of its funders and donors based in the US and NATO neocolonialist “regime change” command centres.

Funded to the tune of over $60 million by the US, UK and EU member states, these mercenaries in beige clothing have a base of operations in Turkey, but appear to operate exclusively in terrorist-held zones in Syria, and can also be seen running ‘mop-up’ operations for Al Nusra Front and other terrorist fighting groups.

For a further reading on the White Helmets and their role in the Dirty War on Syria read 21st Century Wire’s comprehensive compilation of the most important investigations into NATO’s latest fifth column creation: Who are the Syria White Helmets

The ‘White Helmets’ documentary premiered today at the Toronto International Film Festival, and on Netflix streaming website.

The following are a few examples of the comments being left on the Netflix trailer for their White Helmets “documentary”:

“Dear Netflix: STOP SUPPORTING TERRORISTS. The so called White Helmets are a transparent construct of NATO to take over Syria by stealth in the guise of “do gooders”. NO serious journalists who have been to Syria believe they are doing what this film suggests. Only journalists too lazy to think for themselves believe this. NO locals in Syria have seen these white Helmets in their white helmets – except when their very expensive cameras turn up to film them for propaganda.

And shame on any news outlet who has bought any of that footage and bought their story hook line and sinker without investigating their known connections to Al Nusra and Al Qaeda.Syrian men trying to really save children are hindered from doing so by inhumane sanctions and by the White Helmets blocking roads and villages. Local heroes have no supplies, they do not have a 90 million pound budget to get food, and first aid or digging equipment, yet nobody makes a film about these people… the real Syrian people.

Local people say these are mercenaries who wear ordinary clothes, are not Syrian, and are committing atrocities and keeping food and supplies from reaching cities and villages. Paid terrorists loaded with weapons and supplies and a 90 million pound budget from EU and NATO countries who have an obsession with illegally deposing an honestly elected president of a nation state. It is another way to take over a regime…  without using bombs..  by stealth, this is a Trojan Horse and these men are not heroes at all but murderers and thieves. ASK THE PEOPLE OF SYRIA. GO TO SYRIA and see for yourself. Do not just use footage made by terrorists and spread it all over the world when it is the opposite of the truth.”

netflix-final
Image creation: Cory Morningstar of Wrong Kind of Green

“Soros production, pure propaganda.”

“In Aleppo, the most important thing to remember is that all life is precious”. So precious that the White Helmets are ready to take the dead bodies away after Al-Qaeda executes them, while the camera is still rolling!!”

“When the saint go marching in”, White Helmets are not saints, they are terrorists. When not in front of a camera, they take off their white helmets and strap on their guns.”

“The white helmets are a media blitz project created by the US & UK in which they received monies from the state department & billionaires who made their fortune in the oil and gas industry.”

21WIRE will be bringing you more detailed reports on the Soros funding of the Netflix operation and of course further information on the REAL Syria Civil Defence that journalist Vanessa Beeley has recently met with and interviewed in Syria – in Aleppo, Lattakia, Tartous and the Head Quarters in Damascus.

Here is an excellent alternative to the Netflix official trailer made by Steve Ezzeddine for Hands Off Syria, Sydney. Watch:

 

[Vanessa Beeley is a contributor to 21WIRE, and since 2011, she has spent most of her time in the Middle East reporting on events there – as a independent researcher, writer, photographer and peace activist. She is also a member of the Steering Committee of the Syria Solidarity Movement, and a volunteer with the Global Campaign to Return to Palestine. See more of her work at her blog The Wall Will Fall.]

WATCH: Netflix White Helmets Documentary is Pure Propaganda (Tyranny Unmasked, Trailer Remake)

Tyranny Unmasked

Video published September 7, 2016

(2:21)

The Behavioral Economics of Hatred

“Within George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, the purpose of the Two Minutes Hate is to “satisfy the citizens’ subdued feelings of angst and hatred from leading such a wretched, controlled existence. By re-directing these subconscious feelings away from the Oceanian government and toward external enemies (which likely do not even exist), the Party minimizes subversive thought and behavior.” Orwell did not invent the term “two minutes hate” however; it was already in use/utilized in the First World War by British writers to satirize German propaganda.

In a somewhat similar fashion, an economist’s definition of hatred is the willingness to pay a price to inflict harm on others, according to Edward Glaeser, Princeton-educated economist and professor at Harvard.

In an article published in Harvard Magazine titled “The Marketplace of Perceptions,” author Craig Lambert writes:

“The psychological literature, [Edward Glaeser] found, defines hatred as an emotional response we have to threats to our survival or reproduction. ‘It’s related to the belief that the object of hatred has been guilty of atrocities in the past and will be guilty of them in the future,’ he says. ‘Economists have nothing to tell psychologists about why individuals hate. But group-level hatred has its own logic that always involves stories about atrocities. These stories are frequently false. As [Nazi propagandist Joseph] Goebbels said, hatred requires repetition, not truth, to be effective.’”

 

“‘You have to investigate the supply of hatred,’ Glaeser continues. ‘Who has the incentive and the ability to induce group hatred? This pushes us toward the crux of the model: politicians or anyone else will supply hatred when hatred is a complement to their policies.’” [AVAAZ: IMPERIALIST PIMPS OF MILITARISM, PROTECTORS OF THE OLIGARCHY, TRUSTED FACILITATORS OF WAR | PART V]

Further reading: Who Are the White Helmets?


White Helmets Netflix Final

WATCH: The Real Syrian Civil Defence | The Real White Helmets

UK Column

September 8th, 2016

 

UK Column’s Mike Robinson interviews Vanessa Beeley to deconstruct the origins, funding and “Purpose” of the White Helmets.

“For clarification, the White Helmets are literal terrorists who masquerade as humanitarians for press releases and propaganda : these people are guilty of actual war crimes and atrocities, as is evidenced by testimony from the ground in Syria.”

 

‘Activism’ and Its Consequences: Syrian Refugees Are Not Subjects for a Social Media Gallery

Counterpunch

The Italian ‘activist’ was keen on that photo, as if her social media activism career was dependent on it. As if the misery of the poor Syrian child was not palpable enough in his dejected face and his rash-infested skin, she wanted to define a point of absolute misery for a perfect Instagram photo.

So she handed him a bucket filled with rocks collected from the arid Jordanian desert, not far away from the Syria border. He carried the heavy rocks and posed for the photo.

The boy, along with his family, and many others lived in tents in the middle of nowhere. The refugee camp was deemed ‘informal’. It received no water, electricity and not even regular supplies of food, however meagre. The refugees subsisted on what drivers racing at ridiculous speed on a nearby highway would toss their way.

But malnutrition was not the only enemy. No water also meant no washing, and skin diseases is something the Syrian refugees in the informal refugee camp all had in common.

To keep the tents in their intended location, the refugees had positioned buckets filled with rocks atop the wooden poles, thus keeping the tattered tents in place, especially during the gusts of violent sandstorms.

The ‘activists’ took their fill of photos with no particular purpose, aside from exhibiting their peculiar brand of solidarity, which often finds its way to social media platforms, accompanied with seemingly fitting emoticons and generalized, empty truisms: “Please do something,” followed by the emoticon that denotes feelings of anger or, “the children need us,” followed by the emoticon conveying tears, and so on.

Expectedly, their social media friends validate the empty gestures by exalting the courage, heroism and greatness of the person who took the photo. In reality, however, the ‘activists’ have done nothing but aggrandized their false sense of valor, injured the dignity of the proud refugees, while selling them plenty of false hope as they continue to await salvation in the desert.

The baffled Syrian boy, who must have participated in that charade in the hope of getting a sandwich or even a piece of chocolate, carried the bucket of rocks so that the Italian ‘activist’ would produce a photo that was the personification of despair. And it was picture perfect, indeed, followed by a fun-filled trip to the Dead Sea and other Jordanian attractions.

When a friend of mine, who was enraged by the dehumanizing display, conveyed the scene on to me, I was equally distressed, but not entirely surprised. I am all too familiar with that kind of ‘activism’. I was assaulted by it as a child in Palestinian refugee camps, was repulsed by it as a young reporter in Iraq and Lebanon and warned against it as a writer in later years.

This scene happened only a few days ago but, actually, it is a recurring reality, where ‘activists’ – westerners, especially – seek in the Middle East (and all over the world) a respite from their consumerism-driven, often uneventful world. They view their relationships with humanitarian crises as saviors, carrying the ‘White Man’s burden’ wherever they go, yet always aware, if not proud, of their privilege and their sense of superiority.

While there, indeed, exist true humanitarians with a clear purpose and an unmistakable sense of mission and little self-promotion, there are many others who have no identifiable purpose, aside from a fleeting interest, a sense of adventure, and an opportunity to unburden themselves from the nagging guilt.

They know well that the roots of conflict in the Middle East stems from 19th and 20th century colonialism. More recently, they know that the US war on Iraq has destroyed that country and destabilized the whole region for decades to come. They are fully aware of the horrendous implications of western interventionism – including those sold as ‘humanitarian’ interventions – on Libya and Syria and other countries in recent years. The ongoing tragedy in Yemen, which is advertised in the media as a solely internal Arab conflict, is also rooted in the American so-called ‘war on terror’, which shattered the country to pieces and undermined its internal cohesion.

But, for many, this is too messy, too complicated, and ‘too political.’ It is far easier to declare oneself an ‘activist’ and snap a thousand photos which parade victims of war in total isolation from one’s own moral responsibility.

Personal and collective ‘moral responsibility’ is a risky notion, for it invites more than ambiguous feelings of ‘guilt’ that misleadingly spread responsibility for war equally among all; instead, it propels a moral stance, mobilization, political pressure and direct action.

Many have given ‘activism’ such a bad name that the word itself has now become devoid of meaning.

Some use ‘activism’ as a platform to serve pre-existing political and ideological notions, unable to truly grow out of the limited confines of ideas which are mostly governed by groupthink, but never by true experience.

For them, the self-bestowed title ‘activist’, is self-validating and is often used to shut out those who dare to have opposing views.

Others position themselves as saviors – for example, saving the children of the Middle East – but would shy away from ever articulating a bold political stance against their own governments and their own culpabilities in ongoing wars and tragedies.

Although they might not be constantly aware of it, such ‘activists’ hold on to the legacy of Rudyard Kipling’s poem ‘The White Man’s Burden’:

“Take up the White Man’s burden, Send forth the best ye breed

Go bind your sons to exile, to serve your captives’ need.”

They are utterly blind to their own transgressions and perceive their victims in an apolitical vacuum, or as victims of their own wrong-doing.

Humanitarianism is not a photo op: it is not an adventure; it is not a vacation; it is not a stress or guilt reliever; it should not be an expression of cultural hegemony or driven by a sense of superiority, and must refrain from selling false hope.

A true humanitarian activist is one who is able to make a tangible difference in the lives of others – focused, sensitive to cultural sensibilities, compelled by a tug of moral responsibility, able to read political contexts and daring enough to hold accountable those responsible for war and other collective tragedies.

Chances are the Syrian child with the bucket full of rocks had his photo exhibited to the delight of many other social media ‘activists’.

Yet chances are, he is still hungry and waiting.

(Italian writer Roman Rubeo contributed to this article.)

 

 

[Dr. Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London). His website is: ramzybaroud.net]

SYRIA: ‘Hand in Hand’ with Al Qaeda, the Ongoing Exposure of the NGO Complex

21st Century Wire

July 19, 2016

by Robert Stuart, BBCPanoramaSavingSyriasChildren

 

hand-in-hand-for syria

The charity Hand in Hand for Syria has claimed that photographs of an employee of its former “flagship medical facility” posing with weapons including an anti-aircraft gun and a shoulder-launched surface-to-air missile were taken when the man was no longer working for the organisation.

Slide show: Hand in Hand for Syria hospital employee Iessa Obied posing with weapons in photographs posted to his Facebook account between November 2012 and October 2013.

A spokeswoman for Hand in Hand for Syria [1] made the claim in an article published by leading UK voluntary sector journal Third Sector in the wake of a Charity Commission finding, in response to a formal complaint, that the images “do not raise sufficient regulatory concern” to warrant action.

The worker in question, Iessa Obied, had posted the pictures on his Facebook account.

Iessa Obied is the younger brother of the hospital’s Medical DirectorAbdulrahman Obied, who was filmed alongside Hand in Hand for Syria executiveDr Rola Hallam in the 2013 BBC Panorama special Saving Syria’s Children. All but one of the images featuring Iessa Obied posing with weapons are now no longer publicly visible on his Facebook pages.

with rola

Abdulrahman Obied, who has described himself as Atareb Hospital’s Medical Director, was filmed alongside Hand in Hand for Syria executive Dr Rola Hallam in the 2013 Panorama programme ‘Saving Syria’s Children’. Abdulrahman is the older brother of Iessa Obied who posted numerous images of himself posing with an array of weapons on Facebook.

The dates on which the relevant photos of Iessa Obied were posted on Facebook – which can be ascertained from the screengrabs available at the second link below each image in the complaint – would not appear to back up Hand in Hand’s claim that he was no longer working for them at the time they were taken.

Most of the weapons images referenced in the complaint were posted between 26 November 2012 and 24 August 2013.

The images in which Obied is wearing a Hand in Hand for Syria tunic were posted commencing just nine days later, spanning from 2 September 2013 to 23 November 2013. Therefore, if anything, it might be argued that Obied began working for the charity after the weapons images were taken rather than, as the spokeswoman implies, having worked for them before.

RS4

Note however that this image, in which Obied is astride an anti-aircraft gun and giving what is commonly understood as the ISIS salute, was posted on 18 October 2013, i.e. during the period in which he was also posting images of himself wearing Hand in Hand for Syria clothing.

Indeed, in this picture – the only one featuring Obied and weaponry currently still viewable on his Facebook page – it’s possible that the blue garment he is wearing under his jacket is in fact a Hand in Hand for Syria tunic. Certainly in this image posted only a day later (and which is now deleted or hidden) Obied is clearly sporting the Hand in Hand logo.

Uploaded on 18th October 2013, over a month after he had begun posting images of himself wearing a Hand in Hand for Syria tunic, Iessa Obeid poses astride an anti-aircraft gun, possibly wearing a blue Hand in Hand tunic:

rs 22

In the second image, posted one day after the first on 19th October 2013, Obeid can be clearly seen wearing a Hand in Hand tunic.

rs 23

Moreover, Iessa Obied’s Facebook account states that he has worked at the hospital in question, Atareb Hospital, Aleppo, from “2011 to present”.

According to Hand in Hand for Syria co-founder and chairman Faddy Sahloul, Atareb was set up by the organisation “as a small community hospital early in 2013.”

It is unclear from the Third Sector article’s reference to the “now-closed Atareb Hospital” whether Atareb is no longer in operation (although it continues to maintain its Facebook page) or merely that it is no longer funded by Hand in Hand for Syria. It is, however, plain that Iessa Obied is claiming to have worked there throughout Hand in Hand for Syria’s tenure.

obied2011tonow

Iessa Obied states that he has worked at Atareb Hospital, Aleppo from “2011 to present”. Hand in Hand for Syria says they set up the hospital “early in 2013”.

Also noteworthy in regard to Iessa Obied’s status within Hand in Hand for Syria is his participation in a “battle first aid training course in Antakia, Turkey” for Atareb hospital staff on Monday 26 August 2013 [2]. A post on Atareb’s Facebook page from that day shows Abdulrahman Obied and other Atareb staff posing for a photo which may well have been taken by Iessa.

Abdulrahman Obied posted images both of himself and of his brother Iessa[3] taking in the sights of Antakia on the same day and Iessa posted an image of himself participating in the training a few days later (possibly the training took place over several days).

So the timeline of Iessa Obied’s various streams of images, including those in which he is photographed with weapons and those in which he is wearing the uniform of an alleged humanitarian organization, appears to be something like the following: from 26 November 2012 up to 24 August 2013 Obied is pictured posing with weapons, some of which are capable of downing aircraft.

Two days later, on 26 August 2013, he took part in a battle first aid training course for the staff of Hand in Hand for Syria’s “flagship medical facility“, Atareb Hospital.

Seven days after that, on 2 September 2013, he is photographed wearing a Hand in Hand for Syria tunic. In two subsequent images he is pictured giving what is commonly understood as an ISIS gesture, firstly in a photo posted on 4 October 2013, while wearing a Hand in Hand tunic, and then again in an image posted on 18 October 2013, in which he is astride an anti-aircraft gun.

Although the most recent image submitted to the Charity Commission in which he sports the Hand in Hand logo was posted on 23 November 2013, in his current Facebook information Obied claims to have been employed by Atareb Hospital from 2011 up to the present day.

 

Notes

[1] Hand in Hand for Syria has recently rebranded itself as Hand in Hand for Aid and Development.

[2] The same day as the alleged incendiary bomb attack which featured in the September 2013 BBC Panorama programme Saving Syria’s Children (see from 30 minutes 38 seconds). As noted here, the absence of several regular Atareb staff on the day of these dramatic alleged events potentially raises a question mark over the identities of the medics and other staff members filmed at the hospital by the BBC. The peculiar demeanour of one of the medics whilst being interviewed the following day does nothing to allay grave suspicions.

[3] These twoimages from Abdulrahman Obied’s Facebook account have recently been deleted, along with majority of his other photos.

***

[Follow Robert Stuart’s remarkable investigation into BBC Panorama fake footage of alleged Syrian chemical attacks at his blog bbcpanoramasavingsyriaschildren.]

WATCH: The White Helmets – Al Qaeda With a Facelift

Hands off Syria

“‘The White Helmets’, fake ‘Syrian humanitarian group, exposed as an al Qaeda support group headed by a British military man and funded by the US Government. Short documentary by Steve Ezzedine, drawing on research by Vanessa Beeley.”[Video published April 29, 2016]

Press Conference: Bashar Ja’afari (Syria) and US Peace Council Representatives on Syria

UN Web TV

9 Aug 2016 – Press briefing sponsored by the Permanent Representative of the Syrian Arab Republic

Speakers:

H.E. Bashar Ja’afari, Permanent Representative of the Syrian Arab Republic
Alfred Marder, President of the US Peace Council
Mary Compton, Member of the Executive Board of the US Peace Council
Henry Lowendorf, Member of the Executive Board of the US Peace Council, Head of the Syria Delegation
Joe Jamison, Member of the Executive Board of the US Peace Council, Member of the Syria Delegation
Madelyn Hoffman, Executive Director of New Jersey Peace Action, Member of the Syria Delegation
Donna Nassor, Professor and Lawyer also part of US Peace Council

Syrian TV interviews U.S. Peace Council Delegation members, Henry Lowendorf and Vanessa Beeley, about their impressions of their trip to Syria on July 23 – 30, 2016.