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PODCAST: Brazil and the US Left’s Imperial Blindspot

Brasil Wire

December 28, 2018

Interview with Brian Mier

 

 

In an interview on the WNUR Chicago radio show This is Hell, which aired on Saturday, December 22, 2018, Brasil Wire co-editor Brian Mier explained what Jacobin and the Western / Northern left media at large got wrong about politics in pre-coup Brazil – focusing attacks on the country’s leading left PT party and ignoring both voices from the PT itself, and the broader threat of US imperialism as the right set the stage for a takeover. The following are the transcripts, edited for readability:

Chuck Mertz: The US Left, hell all the western and global north left, abandoned Brazil’s left when they were needed most during a fascists coup that overthrew their democratically elected leader. Here to hopefully figure out why this happened and how to make certain it doesn’t happen again is our correspondent in São Paulo, Brazil, Brian Mier, co-author of the article How the US Left Failed Brazil: Why did the US left media bash a successful democratic socialist party during a right wing coup?Brian wrote that article with Sean T. Mitchell and Bryan Pitts.

Welcome back to This is Hell Brian. You write that after an electoral defeat to the far right Jair Bolsonaro fueled largely by fake news and blatantly partisan judicial measures against the PT, the Workers Party, Brazil’s largest leftist party, is now often extolled on the US left for its democratic socialist successes. Yet it is easy to forget what a transformation this was for north American leftist outlets. Before we get to their criticisms, the left’s criticisms of the PT and Jacobin Magazine’s criticisms of the PT, what explains, to you, why it took these leftist magazines and organizations so long to not recognize how unfair the impeachment of Dilma was, how unfair the charges against Lula were, how far right the alternative to Dilma and Lula and the PT was and now is in the form of Jair Bolsonaro and his new government that includes other former members of the military junta? PT aside, Brian, why didn’t the leftist publications you researched realize how justice was corrupted in a strategy by the far right to unfairly put those behind the dictatorship back in control of Brazil?

Brian MierI think that there was some mention – a little bit – that what was going on against Dilma Rousseff was unfair but I think that Brazil is just a very big and confusing country that is not that easy to understand and the media in general, journalism, tends to deal with these kinds of mind stopping cliches to try to break down issues into binary things like, ‘either they are left or they are right’, or ‘either they are good or they are bad’. There is always one simple cause for everything in most of what you read in journalism and that just didn’t work to explain what was happening against Dilma Rousseff. I really don’t know why, I just know that it happened. You’ve been listening to me talking about this for years. When the coup was launching against Dilma Rousseff I remember a listener wrote in and said “why is Brian defending someone like Dilma Rousseff?” I guess the way things have played out it’s pretty obvious now. But I just know what happened – I can’t really explain why. I have different theories which I can get into in more depth as this conversation progresses.

CM: We’ve had conversations where you’re ripped on the New York Times’ coverage of Brazil. Last week we had Cole Stangler on the show, live from Paris, about how we get the yellow vest movement wrong and Cole and I talked about recent New York Times coverage of the yellow vests, framing it as being those who support fighting climate change against those who want lower taxes, which the person who started the movement, on social media, explicitly said the movement was not about in the very beginning in his very first announcement online. As Cole pointed out in Jacobin and the Nation, the yellow vest movement is about the wealthy getting tax cuts while the rest of France has to pay higher taxes, it’s about fiscal fairness, it’s about class. So I asked Cole if that is why the Times gets the yellow vests wrong, because reporting on issues of class is, at the very least, challenging to the Times. How much in what you see wrong in the reporting of the mainstream news media, again before we get to the left, of the paper of record, the New York Times, when it comes to Brazil is the problem because Brazil is a story of class? Is the problem that the Times has problems with reporting on class whether it is in France or Brazil or anywhere for that matter?

BM: No, not at all. The problem with the Times and the Guardian and the Washington Post is that they are just voices for the expanded US State, in the Gramscian, Marcusian sense of the term, which includes the corporations, the government, the political parties and the media which supports all of this mess. So what you are getting in the New York Times is straight up corporate and government propaganda in favor of the coup. The New York Times rarely strays from the State Department line in any country in Latin America and you see that with their reporting on Venezuela and Nicaragua. There is no investigative work being done whatsoever – it’s all just PR favoring corporate interests and the US government and state department interests.

September 30, 2018: “Women in Brazil marches against far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro. Meanwhile, social organizations demonstrate in support of the Workers’ Party candidate Fernando Haddad.” [TeleSUR]

CM: So for you it’s not an inability or an unwillingness to talk about class, it’s a willingness to promote US interests?

BM: Well if you look, they just hired Juliana Barbassa as their Latin America desk editor and she came straight from this Rockefeller founded corporate think tank named AS/COA (Americas Society/Council of the Americas), which was directly involved in the Chilean coup – at one point they offered half a million dollars to Chilean senators in 1970 to block Salvador Allende from taking power, and they’ve been involved in almost every coup in Latin America and they are funded by all the big oil companies, by Boeing, by Microsoft, and they have this corporate PR publication called Americas Quarterly which has a revolving door with the New York Times, so Juliana Barbassa was the assistant managing editor of Americas Quarterly, and now she is the New York Times Latin America desk editor. So what does that mean? It means that the New York Times is simply parroting corporate PR about Latin America in general. I wouldn’t say it’s a failure – I would say they understand what the class issues are, but they have poor intentions. They are not actually doing journalism they are doing PR.

CM: You write that you focus mostly on Jacobin Magazine because it is the publication perhaps most associated with the rise of electorally competitive democratic socialism in the United States and because it so clearly exemplifies the broader trend we identify, so Jacobin, the publication that is the best example of the rise of democratic socialism in the US, is too highly critical of the Brazilian left, and here you are as a member of the Brazilian left being critical of Jacobin. Why is there this kind of disconnect between the US left and the rest of the left or maybe more accurately Brian, it’s the left of the global north and the left of the global south. What explains their disconnect and can there actually ever be international unity or are those two different kinds of leftists existing in two different kinds of environments so the chances of unity are very small?

BM: I think there are all kinds of chances for solidarity and unity in the international left. The whole point of the First International was to foster this, right? I think it´s possible. And I think that in the 1980s, before the internet, we had these publications like NACLA and Covert Action Quarterly which was founded by Phillip Agee, the CIA Diaries author, and there were some really interesting magazines and zines which you could buy in these cool bookstores and the subject number 1 in writing about the leftist struggle in Latin America was always US imperialism. I think it is outrageous that the American left stopped talking about US imperialism in Brazil and in other countries in Latin America. Me and my colleagues Sean and Bryan did a systematic reading of all 38 articles that Jacobin published between 2014 and the end of 2017 about Brazil and none of them mentioned US imperialism. None of them mentioned American petroleum companies. What is the point about even writing about Latin America as an American, or presenting articles by others as an American publication, if you are not going to talk about the elephant in the room which is the fact that the US held 44 successful coups in Latin America over a 100 year period. Hilary Clinton admitted to supporting the 2009 coup in Honduras in her own autobiography last year, and obviously, after Brazil discovered huge amounts of petroleum and developed new technology for deep water drilling that no one else had, obviously the US would be interested in the petroleum, so why would you run 38 consecutive articles that don’t mention US imperialism? Because when you fail to mention US imperialism, all that is left for you really is to just talk about what kind of mistakes the Brazilian left made. “Look, they failed”… This is why the article is ironically called the Failure of the US Left, you know, because you can’t talk about failure of the PT party or the Brazilian left without talking about who they were fighting and what the power differential was. You are talking about a political party that controlled 22% of Congress, never controlled the military, never controlled Congress or the Senate, or the Judiciary, fully, going up against the petroleum interests of the most powerful imperialist nation in the World. So you have to look at who they were fighting if you are going to talk about what they failed to do. But even so, wouldn’t it be better to start by listening to them talk about what they think they did right and what they think they did wrong? Because in all 38 of these articles they didn’t talk to anyone from the PT party once, or the CUT, the largest labor union federation in Brazil which has 7 million members and is the flesh and blood of the PT party really, the base that has been supporting it all along – that Lula came out of. Or even the Landless Peasants Movement [Landless Rural Workers Movement/MST] which is, by far, the largest and most important social movement in Brazil. The one time they ran an interview with someone from the MST, it was a 7 year old interview from a year in which the MST was supporting a candidate from a different political party, PSOL, in the Presidential elections. But in 2017, they were fully behind the PT party. So why would they run a 7 year old interview at that point? Just to build this narrative that the PT is no longer left, the PT is a neoliberal party, it´s failure, its sellout is what caused the coup- all of this kind of line of thinking that permeates all 38 of these articles. And what is ironic is the entire U-Turn that they did in 2018, which I attribute to Bhaskar (Sunkara) visiting Brazil and actually seeing what was going on down here and saying, ‘hey, slow down, we’ve got to give some solidarity to the PT party.’ They are the most powerful left political party in Latin America. They had 47 million votes this year even though they lost, and the party that Jacobin was pumping up as the future of the Brazilian left, which is the PSOL, got 500,000 votes. They were less electorally significant than the American Green Party.

CM: And you mention the difference between the two parties. One is that the PT has had a lot of success and that the other party hasn’t had a lot of success, but also PSOL, they kind of embrace the academic purity of the left, while the PT embraces the more populist left. Is that the delineation that we might be seeing when it comes to the US left criticism of left movements overseas, that they side with the more academic purist left and don’t like the populist left. Is that the big division that is happening within the left more generally, that it is academic left vs populist left?

BM: You know, Chuck, I can’t really talk authoritatively about the rest of the world’s left. What I do know a lot about is Brazil and so I will limit my comments to this and you can generalize accordingly. It is true that the PSOL party is dominated by academic leftists. And you would think that that would naturally appeal to American academic leftists and some of these publications like the Nation and Jacobin and whatever – I don’t know what they pay but they get writers who are grad students who are kind of academically orientated. But the PT party also has a huge and rich intellectual and academic tradition. Paulo Freire was one of the founders of the PT, and if you look at their presidential candidate this year, Fernando Haddad, he is a [Political Science] professor at the best university in Brazil [USP], and they have a lot of congressmen and senators who came out of academia because they were teachers union leaders, like Margarida Salomão, who is a Congresswoman from the PT [Minas Gerais], who has a doctorate and a post-doctorate in linguistics from UC Berkeley and was a teachers union leader, so just saying that it is because they sided with academia against the working class on this left divide in Brazil is not really that accurate. And I think they also missed a lot of nuance which is that the PSOL is a faithful ally of the PT in Brazil. They provide a lot of really needed and good criticism of the PT but when push comes to shove, in Congress, they vote together in over 90% of the issues. After the first round of elections was over this year, the PSOL supported Fernando Haddad in the second round. But if you read these 38 Jacobin articles, that nuance is kind of lost as well.

CM: So, Brian, just a few more questions for you. Does the PT simply not reflect the left that Jacobin supports? What’s wrong with applying ideological purity? Why shouldn’t our allegiance and concert be toward and about ideology first above and beyond everything else including the amazing outcomes that PT has had? Why shouldn’t we focus on ideology and ideological purity first?

BM: Well,first of all, Jacobin has been supporting the PT for the last year- they have done a 180 on the PT. But ideological purity is needed. It’s like how Gramsci said these small political parties serve educational and moralist purposes. I think that they are important for pulling the bigger parties farther to the left. Just as in the US we have these parties like the Libertarians who never get any votes but they pull the Republicans farther to the right, these small parties have an important role. But when you are not from that country, when you are from the country that just caused the coup, whose corporations are benefiting from the coup, for example through the [USD] $300 Billion tax cut that was made after the 2016 coup to US petroleum companies operating in Brazil, you know, then it begins to look like taking this pure left posture is actually just a very non-threatening thing to do that doesn’t threaten State Department objectives or capitalist institutions. In fact, it performs a validating role so that the conservatives can say, “we have a democracy in Brazil because we have these guys”, you know, who never threaten power. So I think it is a complex issue but I don’t think that, in the middle of a coup, adopting a far left ideological posture to attack the one party that has the base and the size and strength to try to counter fascism in a country is very helpful. In fact its like one of the leaders of the MST told me, sometimes this vanguard left posture is not revolutionary, it’s anti-revolutionary. Because if the main reason that the PT didn’t win the election this year was several years of anti-PTism in the media coming from the right, why would anti-PTism on the left help anything? If anything it just feeds farther into the conservative narrative. And you see talking points from Jacobin and from other left American publications being used in corporate media like the Guardian and the New York Times now, saying things like, “the PT has to be more humble. It has to publicly apologize for its mistakes.” And things like that. I believe that issue originated in Jacobin.

CMAnother thing that you point out is the Landless Workers Movement, the MST, another key actor in the Brazilian organized left. It was influential in the legalization of homesteading on unproductive or stolen land and despite constant media opposition and agribusiness violence, has obtained deeds for around 400,000 small farms since the 1980s. When we began This is Hell in 1996, this was the first aspect of Brazilian life that really grabbed my interest, the MST, and I know we had several interviews in the 1990s with members of Friends of the MST and other groups. You say that in contrast to their disdain for CUT, the Labor Union Federation that works, kind of, with the PT (but they are totally two different organizations), Jacobin authors seldom directly criticize what David Harvey, in a personal conversation with one of the authors, called, “the most perfect social movement in the world.” Rather they generally ignore the MST. In your opinion what doesn’t attract the US left in the form of Jacobin or anyone, to the most perfect social movement in the World, the MST.

BM: Well, first of all I worked with the MST for five years and they are much farther left in practice than anyone I’ve ever met from Jacobin. Because they actually squat on land that’s been stolen by ranchers and loggers and start farming on it, and resist, sometimes at gunpoint, to hold on to this land. And they are socialists, they have deep connections with the world left and the Cuban government, they developed a critical adult literacy methodology with direct help from Paulo Freire and they are real leftists who actually practice what they preach and they support the PT. So this puts these ideological purity measurers in an very uncomfortable position when they have to explain that the MST has been supporting the PT all these years.

CM: Just one last question for you Brian. You write that to their credit US left media have unequivocally condemned Bolsonaro and Jacobin is helping lead a solidarity campaign for the PT and Brazilian left, but what if the US left had moderated its criticism earlier to defend the PT against the developing coup. “Would there have been greater solidarity with Dilma Rousseff? Greater resistance to the Temer government’s attack on the working class? An earlier recognition of the threat of Bolsonaro? There is no way to know but perhaps it’s time for the US left to turn its critical gaze back on to itself.” What do you hope the US left would see when it reexamines itself following the way in which it reacted to the rise of Brazil’s right and to what happened to Brazil’s left?

BM: First of all I want to say that we took Jacobin as an example and gave it a high level of scrutiny. And I know Jacobin publishes a lot of good stuff in the US. But regarding your question, I think that these people on the American left who write about Latin America and other places should reflect about what the role of an American leftist really should be in this situation. Does it help to go and tell people in other countries that they are wrong? Or should they be looking at what their country is doing and how its actions are affecting these other countries, especially in the 3rd World. Because if you are just going to be bad mouthing people in another country because their left isn’t pure enough, what is the point? Why not talk about what your country is doing? It takes a little bit more courage to do that. But I think that is what the American left should be asking in terms of how it deals with issues in Latin America. What’s happened since the 1980s when left publications have just stopped talking about US imperialism? Is it because of grant funding? Is it due to all these foundations like the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation who are funding magazines that used to be really hard left like NACLA? I just don’t understand what is going on. What is even the point of doing it if you are not talking about what your country is doing to screw everybody over in the rest of the world? The US is the biggest imperialist country in the World. It’s stealing everybody’s oil, it’s killing people all over the place. And instead of talking about what it’s doing in Nicaragua or Venezuela or Brazil, you are just going to write about the mistakes that Brazilians or the Nicaraguans made? I think that is the question they should be asking themselves. Why aren’t we talking about our own country?

Listen to the interview here:

[Brian Mier is an editor at Brasil Wire and a freelance writer and producer.]

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

21st Century Wire

September 23, 2016

by Vanessa Beeley

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“I am a director not only of a Syrian Civil Defence Unit, but of brave human beings, volunteers who risk their lives, despite the terrorism that is invading Syria, to maintain security for Syria. I give thanks from my heart for the courage of my men who have lost their comrades in terrorist attacks but they keep working despite the risks. They are true soldiers, their equipment and their spirit are their only weapons”
~ Director of Tartous’ REAL Syria Civil Defence

Did I hear a pin drop?  The real Syria Civil Defence? Are the west’s iconized ‘White Helmets’ not the only emergency first-responders inside Syria?

For the REAL Syria Civil Defence you call 113 inside Syria.  There is no public number for the White Helmets.  Why not? Why does this multi-million dollar US & NATO state-funded first repsonder ‘NGO,’ with state of the art equipment supplied by the US and the EU via Turkey, have no central number for civilians to call when the “bombs fall”?

Before we introduce the real Syria Civil Defence, who are Syria’s real ICDO certified civil fire and rescue organisation, let’s first take a closer look at the imposters; terrorists in white hats, and agents of war – NATO’s pseudo ‘NGO’ construct, embedded exclusively in terrorist-held parts of Syria…

We’re told that the White Helmets routinely scale the walls of collapsed buildings and scrambling over smouldering rubble of bombed out buildings to dig a child out with their bare hands. Of course, never without a sizeable camera crew and mobile phone carrying entourage in tow.

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Screenshot from one of the multitude of NATO’s White Helmets promotional videos, as per usual – with fans and camera crew in attendance.

So who, and what exactly are the White Helmets?

“Founded in 2013, the White Helmets, officially called the Syria Civil Defense, are often the only emergency first-responders available in rebel-held areas of Syria and claim to have saved more than 58,000 lives.” ~ The Slate

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White Helmets ‘Team’ Photo: Screenshot from recent Soros funded, Netflix promotional documentary.

The western media mythology goes as follows:

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British Military officer James Le Mesurier

They are made up of former bakers, builders, taxi drivers, students, teachers, pretty much anything apart from rescue workers,” according to the much repeated phrase used by their British ex-military, USAR (Urban Search & Rescue) trainer, James Le Mesurier who specialises in outsourcing warfare – the kind of private security operations exemplified by the likes of Blackwater (now known as Academi) and DynCorp, and other well-known global suppliers of mercenaries and CIA outreach assassination experts.

“Running operations through Blackwater gave the CIA the power to have people abducted, or killed, with no one in the government being exactly responsible.” ~ The Atlantic, 2012

White Helmets founder Le Mesurier, who graduated from Britain’s elite Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, is said to be an ‘ex’ British military intelligence officer involved in a number of other NATO ‘humanitarian intervention’ theatres of war, including Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq, as well as postings in Lebanon and Palestine. He also boasts a series of high-profile posts at the UN, EU, and UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Not to mention his connections back to the infamous Blackwater (Academi).


The White Helmet network showing primary funding sources and James Le Mesurier connections back to deep state  (Image: UK Column)

The streaming giant, Netflix, recently launched the documentary meant to elevate the White Helmets to a Hollywood level of Madison Avenue-styled demagoguery. As an interesting aside: a major shareholder in Netflix just happens to be the Capital Research Global Investors who hosts a number luminaries of the military industrial complex on its books including Lockheed Martin and Boeing. In 2015, George Soros, billionaire, criminal hedge-fund manager, bought up 317,534 shares in Netflix said to be worth $32.79m.  Curiously in 2016 Soros, dissolved those shares.

For further information on the George Soros role as the anti-Syria NGO impresario read 21WIRE article: George Soros: Anti-Syria Campaign Impresario

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Variation on the Netflix promotional poster for the NATO White Helmet documentary. Poster by: Cory Morningstar of WrongKindofGreen.

Later, in Part III of this article, we will go into depth concerning the recent awards, including an objectionable nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize, that have been bestowed upon this group of US, UK, EU backed fifth columnists, or as they would have you believe, “first-responders.”

With over $60 million in their back pocket courtesy of USAID, the UK Foreign Office and various EU nations like the Netherlands, this group is possibly one of the most feted and funded entities within the west’s anti-Syrian NGO complex, a pivotal part of the clandestine shadow state building enterprise inside of Syria.

Like many other ‘NGOs’, the White Helmets have been deployed by the west to derail the Syrian state, first  by undermining existing civic structures and by disseminating staged PR to facilitate regime change propaganda, through western and Gulf state media outlets. Despite the fact that they were started, and are still generously funded by NATO members states, particularly from the US and UK, the White Helmets’ official statement still claims categorically that they are somehow “fiercely independent” and “have accepted no money from governments, corporations or anyone directly involved in the Syrian conflict“. This is both farcical and deeply misleading.

RELATED: ‘Aleppo Media Centre’ Funded By French Foreign Office, EU and US

They claim they are not “tied to any political group in Syria, or anywhere else”, yet they are embedded with Al Nusra Front, ISIS and affiliated with the majority of US allied terrorist brigades infesting Syria.  In fact during my recent trip to Syria, I was once again struck by the response from the majority of Syrians when asked if they knew who the White Helmets were.  The majority had never heard of them, others who follow western media noted that they are a “NATO construct being used to infiltrate Syria as a major player in the terrorist support network.”

For further details on the White Helmets and their role in supporting US & NATO state-sponsored terrorism in Syria please refer to the compilation of articles contained in the 21WIRE article: WHO ARE SYRIA’S WHITE HELMETS?

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The REAL Syria Civil Defence

Let us now focus upon the very real heroes inside Syria, the real Syria Civil Defence that have been usurped by the NATO mountebank White Helmets who also call themselves the “Syria Civil Defence” – a mere simulacra of the REAL Syria Civil Defence who have been saving lives in Syria, and further afield for decades.

The REAL Syria Civil Defence was established as an organisation, in 1953, some 63 years before the White Helmets were a glimmer in the eyes of CIA and MI6 operatives.

The REAL Syria Civil Defence is a founding member of the ICDO (International Civil Defence Organisation). Other ICDO partners include the UN Department of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Secretarian of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG), World Health Organisation (WHO), United Nations of Geneva (UNOG), Red Cross and the Red Crescent.

To our knowledge and according to the Head Quarters of the REAL Syria Civil Defence in Damascus, the White Helmets are NOT a member of the ICDO. The REAL Syria Civil Defence have received awards for their participation in the training of other member states in USAR (Urban Search and Rescue) and for their contributions to the Civil Defence community, prior to the NATO dirty war on Syria that began in earnest, in 2011.

Later in Part II, we will go into further detail regarding this affiliation with the ICDO and the role the REAL Syria Civil Defence has played in global civil defence developments for the last 63 years – which is tremendous, and something the White Helmets could never lay claim to in reality, despite all the superficial accolades being rained down upon them by the US and NATO fueled organisations, foundations and cosmetic award bodies.

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This is an introduction to the unsung heroes who, unlike the counterfeit White Helmets, do truly risk their lives every day, working not only in government controlled areas, but forging deep into terrorist strongholds to rescue civilians living under the brutal US-NATO-backed terrorist siege and occupation that engulfs all of Syria.

When Syrian civilians are at risk, injured, or buried under the rubble of homes, schools and hospitals destroyed by terrorist mortar showers, it’s not Le Mesurier’s White Helmets who rush to their aid – it’s the REAL Syria Civil Defence, a real civic organization who, up until the publication of this article, have never been mentioned by any western media outlets.

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The REAL Syria Civil Defence, stationed in Syrian government held West Aleppo (Photo: Vanessa Beeley August 15, 2016)

The REAL Syria Civil Defence: Aleppo

My first stop on my investigation to discover the REAL Syria Civil Defence units in as many Syrian governorates as I could during my time in Syria, was Aleppo. I focused on those units that were in closest proximity to the terrorist held areas of Syria, particularly, Aleppo and Idlib. Damascus which is the home and headquarters of the REAL Syrian Civil Defence was my last port of call, and is surrounded on two sides by Jaish Al Islam, another US-NATO protected terrorist clique.

Because of the the encroachment of the US Coalition terrorist entities, Aleppo city has been carved into two cities with the major occupier of the eastern portion being the universally feared Al Nusra Front. Spurious attempts by the US to rebrand this organisation as a lesser evil in an attempt to separate them from their Al Qaeda affiliation, have failed. People in Syria from all walks of life refuse to accept any differentiation between the titles accorded the terrorist brigades, insisting there is no difference in the way they all kill, maim, torture, rape, behead and destroy at the behest of their paymasters and controllers in the US, NATO states, Turkey, Gulf States and yes, Israel.

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Decimated areas of Sheikh Maqsoud, the northernmost, Kurdish held, entry point into the government held West Aleppo (Photo: Vanessa Beeley August 14, 2016)

For further information about the real situation in Aleppo, my journey to this terrorist besieged city and the debunking of the fictional US-NATO narrative, please read Part I of my article published at Mint Press: Journey to Aleppo: Exposing the Truth Buried under NATO Propaganda.

On the 15th of August, I entered the work yard of Aleppo’s REAL Syria Civil Defence and was greeted by an exhausted team of about fifteen crew-members.  That morning from 11am until around 3 pm, just before our visit, they had been fighting a fire in a cement and plastics factory which had been ignited by Al Nusra Front mortar fire.

They were understandably wary, but they still gathered around us (my colleague and independent journalist, Eva Bartlett and our translator) in the searing arid summer heat. Over the course of this 5 years and 6 months of this dirty war against Syria, not one western media journalist had ever asked to speak to them.

This extraordinary omission and failure to follow the most rudimentary journalist text book rules by the western media is staggering, but hardly surprising considering the level of spin and propaganda employed daily by the likes of the BBC, CNN, FOX News, The Guardian, New York Times, and Washington Post. Sadly, western media lap dogs end up simply wagging their tails to their masters voice and turning somersaults with the truth to merit reward.

Unfortunately for the Syrian people, western pundits have only reported on crucial and pivotal events in the war on Syria based largely on ‘evidence’ supplied by the US-UK-NATO construct, the White Helmets, who are ensconsed only in Al Nusra Front aka Al Qaeda and ISIS held areas.

As a result of western media outlets not bothering to make contact with the volunteer Syrians in the REAL Syria Civil Defence, western audiences never received a balanced view of the situation. Instead, western media only disseminates what amounts to a biased, one-sided view which mirrors anti-Syrian state and Syrian Arab Army rhetoric issued by the US State Dept and British Foreign Office.

I explained in detail, why I had come to talk with them, that my objective was to find out who were the real heroes inside Syria, the multi million NATO funded White Helmets created in 2013 or the Syrian Syria Civil Defence established in 1953.

Aleppo’s REAL Syria Civil Defence informed us there are 150 volunteers working across all units in Aleppo, the headquarters are in the Hamadaniya area which is one of the most severely targeted civilian areas, by Al Nusra Front Hell Cannon mortar fire and explosive bullets. The volunteers ages range between 25-45 years old, and the minimum age for training is 18.

All members of the crew were genuine volunteers. They spoke proudly of the intensive training process they undergo before they can be accepted into the unit. They are fully trained in urban search and rescue techniques (USAR).  They are also fully qualified paramedics.

A glance around their yard revealed that their equipment is tired and worn. The fire trucks were gleaming in the sun but showed signs of heavy use. Tattered jackets hung from the fenders and wing mirrors of the trucks and a Syrian flag had been draped across the radiator of one truck, perhaps in honour of our visit.

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West Aleppo REAL Syria Civil Defence unit (Photo: Vanessa Beeley August 15, 2016)

I was told immediately, that I would not be able to photograph the crew themselves or to use their names. Aleppo is a city under siege, not by “Assad and his army“, as the western media would have you believe, but by an assortment of up to 22 different terror brigades many of whom are armed, funded, and trained by the US, UK, France, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, to name only a few of the west’s ‘coalition.’ The REAL Syria Civil Defence crew-members are under constant threat of being targeted by any one of these terrorist brigades – including the White Helmets, as they later explained to us.

Chemical Attacks

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MODERATE WEAPONS: ‘Rebel’ Terrorists in East Aleppo shell civilians indiscriminately with their crude munitions, and then blame it on “The Regime” via misleading social media imagery. 

The crew told us about a call out they had responded to on the 2nd August. There had been a terrorist Hell Cannon attack on the Old City of Aleppo, which lies right on the border with the Al Nusra front lines and is a regular target for their indiscriminate attacks. Terrorist Hell Cannons use an assortment of containers – gas canisters, water heater tanks packed full of explosives, glass, metal and any other limb-shredding materials.

As the crew entered the area, they said there was a pungent smell in the air that suggested the use of a toxic gas by Nusra Front, possibly chlorine. The concentrations were so high that they immediately experienced breathing difficulties and their flimsy paper oxygen masks were not sufficient to prevent the devastating effects of inhalation.

One of the crew, 36 year old Mohammed Ahmed Eibbish, succumbed to the fumes and eventually died while trying to rescue one of the 25 affected civilians. Both civilians and crew suffered with dizziness, nausea, burns on their body, spasms and respiratory difficulties. Four civilians died that day too, all women. This attack and many others like it, are being intentionally ignored by the western media agencies, politicians and partisan UN officials, desperate to attribute any such attacks to the Syrian government and its national army.

A very salient fact so often mislaid in the stampede to produce lies, is that the only chemical factory in Aleppo (producing chlorine among other substances) was actually captured by the Al Nusra Front coalition in 2012. It is located about 10km east of Aleppo’s airport on the road towards Raqqa.

“The chemicals factory was taken over by Nusra Front and allies three years ago, they emptied everything out of it including potential ingredients for use in chemical weapon attacks. Part of the facility was shipped to Iraq.  They destroyed the factory completely.” ~ Voice from Aleppo

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Painful skin blisters caused by an ISIS chemical weapon attack in Northern Aleppo 17/9/2016 (Photo: Press TV article)

The crew told us that the worst injuries they have ever witnessed, are children who have been hit by the terrorist Hell Cannon mortars. Their little bodies are eviscerated and literally torn apart. At least 54 children had been killed and many others maimed by the Hell Cannon attacks in a two-week period alone, between the July 31st and August 14th. These figures were provided by the Aleppo Medical Association during our time in West Aleppo. In total, 143 civilians, 23 women, 54 children and 66 men, were killed by US-backed “rebels” occupying East Aleppo.

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Aleppo REAL Syria Civil Defence Fire Engine parked in their yard (Photo: Vanessa Beeley August 15, 2016)

The West Aleppo crew is forced to attend missions without the standard issue equipment and to deal with situations like chemical weapons attacks with only the ineffectual paper breathing masks.  This is another result of the EU-US sanctions being enforced against Syria, and effectively against the Syrian people. The REAL Syria Civil Defence is unable to replace equipment or replenish supplies, unlike the NATO White Helmets who enjoy an endless stream of kit and replacement materials via the Turkey supply chain that has remained unbroken for much of the four years that Aleppo has been under terrorist siege.

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US EQUIPPED: White Helmets showing off their brand new equipment in Idlib (on borders with Turkey) supplied by US Equipment company, Bobcat (Photo: screenshot from White Helmet promotional video)

The White Helmets: Criminals, Kidnappers and Killers

When we got on to the subject of NATO’s White Helmets, the West Aleppo REAL Syrian Civil Defence crew became animated.  One of them, stepped forward and began to talk excitedly to our translator. He had been stationed in East Aleppo at a REAL Syrian Civil Defence unit based in an area that has since been overrun by Al Nusra Front and their associate terrorist gangs.

Again, we are unable, as we have said, to provide names of the men we spoke with. They are prime targets for the Al Nusra Front and company in East Aleppo. This crew member, lets call him ‘Khaled,’ described what happened when the terrorists (western media still call them “opposition” or “moderate rebels”) started to invade East Aleppo in 2012.

“They came in and they drove us out of our homes and they came to the Syria Civil Defence yard and they killed some of my comrades, they kidnapped others.  They wanted to force me to work with them.  I escaped at night.  I was forced to leave my teenage sons behind. They burned my house to the ground and they put my name on all the terrorist checkpoints so if I go back, they will kill me.”

Khaled went on to explain how those men who later became the White Helmets were among this first wave of terrorists:

“They are terrorists, not rescuers.  They stole our ambulances and three of our fire engines. They don’t do any rescue work.  They drive round with guns in the back of their car like any other terrorist.  Some are from East Aleppo, some are from Syria but not from Aleppo and some are even coming in from abroad.”

Granted, this might come as a shock to anyone who has already bought into the public relations image of the group that’s already been developed over three years by various agencies in New York, Washington DC and London, but these are the real accounts regarding what one might say is the true unmasked nature of the west’s White Helmets.

At this point other crew members interjected and told me that they had watched the White Helmet “rescue” videos.

“They are fake.  They don’t carry out any correct procedures, either as paramedics or as search and rescue experts.”

They described how the White Helmets use a heavy-duty power drill to dig down for civilians buried under the rubble of homes allegedly targeted by “Syrian or Russian airstrikes.”

“It’s the wrong equipment to use.  It is not sensitive enough and because it vibrates powerfully,  it can displace the rubble which is dangerous if anyone is genuinely buried beneath it.”

They went on to describe other aspects of the White Helmet videos that they believe contravene all standard procedures that are followed by genuine search and rescue experts, paramedics and first responders.

In the following very recent video made by a White Helmet camera crew, men pretending to be genuine rescuers attack an area of rubble where they seem to know where a body buried. They start with a mint condition JCB digger, which attacks the heap of rubble with gusto.  Then, alarmingly, they begin to pound the rubble with a heavy duty mallet without employing any devices to actually determine where the body is located, under the impenetrable concrete blocks. Finally, the JCB digger returns to the mound of rubble and enters the teeth of its bucket into the rubble without any hesitation, surely not standard procedure if there is a chance of a body being under the debris.

Miraculously, as with all White Helmet videos, they seem to find exactly where the bodies are, despite having displaced the majority of the rubble in the process. They also, miraculously, avoided staving in the first body’s head with the mallet. There is no intention to downplay or belittle the deaths that have obviously occurred but we do ask the questions:

1.  How did the White Helmets know the bodies would be exactly where they found them?

2.  Where is this rescue being filmed?

3.  “Activists”, “citizen journalists”, the White Helmets and western media would have us believe that East Aleppo is under almost constant Russian or Syrian aerial attack yet the White Helmets make, on average, 4 or 5 films per day and we never see or hear any sign of an attack, only the “aftermath”. 

4. Where do these bodies come from? Are they victims of air strikes as we are told by these NATO funded “activists” and “first responders” or are they taken from among the thousands of “disappeared” that have been kidnapped by Nusra Front and other terrorist gangs in East Aleppo? Are they gruesome props being used inhumanely, to polish the image of this faux NGO embedded in East Aleppo, HQ for Al Nusra Front.

I would not ask these questions without good cause and that cause was given to me by the crew members of the REAL Syria Civil Defence, in West Aleppo, some of whom were driven from their homes in East Aleppo and whose families, left behind, remain under threat, while they are unable to return, for fear of being assassinated by the Al Nusra terrorists and their associates the White Helmets.

A further cause for this question is the previous proven use of props and crisis actors by the BBC (just one example) in one of their most dubious reports on Syria, Panorama’s piece entitled, “Saving Syria’s Children”.  Robert Stuart’s quite brilliant investigation into this chilling charade revealed some very disturbing evidence of the lengths to which, the mainstream media are prepared to go, to produce the propaganda required to execute yet another war on false pretenses. Propaganda that best serves the NATO and US intelligence agencies who continue toiling away to facilitate regime change and a ‘No Fly Zone.’

“Why do you do it?” I asked an obvious question of the REAL Syria Civil Defence, essentially, volunteers who survive on a paltry government salary or public donations, who work with dilapidated equipment, under terrorist, indiscriminate, shell, mortar and explosive bullet fire, and with no recognition for the heroic work they do from western media or ‘humanitarian’ NGOs.

“It is humanitarian work for our country. We were there in the good times, and we are here when the times are bad and we are needed most. It’s our duty”

No emotive, Manhattan based PR agency #hashtag headlines for these firefighters and life savers. Instead, we get simple words to convey a simple message.  They told me they often work 24 hour shifts, without sleep. One man sat on the wall behind me told me he had broken both legs falling from a collapsing building after terrorists had shelled the area. Another showed me that he had lost an eye in a Hell Cannon mortar attack. In the background, their uniforms billowed on the washing line ready for the next shout.

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The badge of honour, the REAL Syria Civil Defence badge sewn on to the sleeves of the uniforms in West Aleppo (Photo: Vanessa Beeley August 15, 2016)

My final question to the REAL Syria Civil Defence in West Aleppo,  was to ask them for their message to the outside world.  The world that is unaware they even exist, many of whom are blinded by the propaganda glare that surrounds the White Helmet media circus. They responded thus:

1. Please lift the sanctions so we can keep working and saving lives.

2. Stop the terrorists from entering Syria, and stop funding and arming them.

3. If terrorists keep entering Syria, eventually it will affect the world, not just Syria. There has been enough bloodshed. It needs to stop now.

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The staple equipment of fire crews and first responders. Visit to the West Aleppo REAL Syria Civil Defence (Photo: Vanessa Beeley August 15, 2016)

The REAL Aleppo Medical Association

One of the other meetings we had during our time in Aleppo, was with the Aleppo Medical Association.  We met with the Director, Dr Zahar Buttal and Dr Bassem Hayak, who is in charge of the medical teams assessing refugees from East Aleppo who fled to West Aleppo via the Russian and Syrian state humanitarian corridors, created on the 29th July, which have allowed over 2000 people to escape the terrorist strongholds to safety, food and medical care in government-protected West Aleppo. These figures were given to us by the Aleppo Medical Association on the 15th August 2016.

One of the questions I asked Dr Hayak, who spoke good English, was what he knew of the White Helmets.  His response was concise and without preamble.  His family is still in East Aleppo and although he has not been able to get back into East Aleppo for the last year, his family have told him that the White Helmets are not known in East Aleppo.  I asked again to be sure, and was told again, people, civilians do not know of the White Helmets in East Aleppo. Any actual first response work is carried out by foreign workers from various countries, Pakistan and the Gulf region among them. These foreigners work with Syrian people who are not properly trained in first response. They might only receive 2 or 3 months training before being allowed to work.

Dr Hayak says, “Even with our relationship with WHO (World Health Organisation) and the UN, we still didn’t hear about the White Helmets.”

Are the White Helmets, NATO ghosts?

Dr Hayak also states quite clearly, he has a cousin, working as a surgeon in East Aleppo. ISIS and other terrorist factions have forced her to stay in East Aleppo by threatening to kill her family, should she leave for West Aleppo.

Dr Hayak also said that the majority of civilians in East Aleppo are “hostages”of the NATO/US allied terrorists.

In East Aleppo, civilians living under Al Nusra Front occupation, do not know the White Helmets. Watch:

It is not unreasonable to speculate that the White Helmets are not first responders at all, except when required to don the white hats for a staged photo or promotional video, or to produce western news propaganda for the likes of CNN or the BBC, courtesy of their ever-present film and media crew.

It is not unreasonable, based upon the statements given by eminent members of the Aleppo medical fraternity and crew members of the REAL Syria Civil Defence in Aleppo, to draw the conclusion that the White Helmets are nothing more than common terrorists, being paid to present themselves as respectable first responders when the need arises for “reports from inside Aleppo” or elsewhere in Syria.

Later, in Part II of this story, we will travel to the northwest Syria regions of Lattakia and Tartous and speak to REAL Syria Civil Defence units there, before finally visiting the Syria Civil Defence Headquarters in Damascus, right in the heart of Jaish Al Islam, terrorist strongholds in Jobar and the surrounding suburbs of Damascus.

Every one of these units has a tale to tell about NATO’s White Helmets and each tale is a further nail in the coffin of the west’s multi-million dollar White Helmet mythology – nails which can’t be extracted by any number of NATO sponsored prizes, awards or accolades.

In the end, the REAL Syria Civil Defence will be recognised as extraordinary “ordinary” human beings who deserve the title “Hero” and whose service to their people and their country will be applauded by all those who are not taken in by the by the obscene parody of terrorists dressed-up as saviours and saints.

The REAL “saints” do indeed come marching in….

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The REAL Syria Civil Defence, Lattakia, next stop on the tour of the true heroes inside Syria. Photo: Lattakia Fire Brigade FB page

 

[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.]

 

Seven Steps of Highly Effective Manipulators | White Helmets, Avaaz, Nicholas Kristof & Syria No Fly Zone

Dissident Voice

April 9, 2015

You might think that after seeing the consequences of their campaign for “freedom and democracy” in Libya, journalists like Nicholas Kristof and “humanitarian campaigners” like Avaaz would have some qualms.

Unfortunately they have learned nothing. They have generally not been held to account, with a few nice exceptions such as this Greenwald/Hussain article. And now they are at it again. Many well-intentioned but naive members of the U.S. and international public are again being duped into signing an Avaaz petition based on fraud and misinformation. If the campaign succeeds in leading to a No Fly Zone in Syria, it will result in vastly increased war, mayhem and bloodshed.

The following illustration shows the sequence and trail of deceit leading to Avaaz’s call for a No Fly Zone in Syria.

unnamedFollowing is a brief description documenting the flow of misinformation and deceit, beginning at the Source and ending with Avaaz’s campaign for NATO/US attack on Syria.

Source

The “Source” is unknown at this time. It might be some US agency with or without the approval of the Obama administration. Or it might be another foreign government which seeks, in plain violation of international law,  the overthrow the Syrian government.  In addition to the U.S., Turkey, Saudi Arabia, France, Britain and Qatar have each spent hundreds of millions and even billions in heavy weaponry plus 3,000 tons of weapons via Croatia plus arming, training, supplying and paying the salaries of thousands of domestic and international mercenaries sowing mayhem and destruction in Syria.

At this point we do not know but there is a REWARD:  $100 finders fee to the first person who can provide credible evidence identifying the SOURCE.

PURPOSE Inc.

This is an international PR firm. CEO is Jeremy Heimans, a co-founder of Avaaz.

President is Kevin Steinberg, previous CEO of World Economic Forum USA (antithesis of World Social Forum).  Their website describes their goal:

“Purpose builds and accelerates movements to tackle the world’s biggest problems.”

In this case the “problem” is reluctance to take over Syrian skies and land.

For a hefty fee, “Purpose” will dupe the public and break down that reluctance.

Toward that end,  Purpose created “The Syria Campaign”.

The Syria Campaign 

The Syria Campaign began in spring 2014. One of their first efforts was to work to prevent publicity and information about the Syrian Presidential Election of June 2014. Accordingly, “The Syria Campaign” pressured Facebook to remove advertisements or publicity about the Syrian election.  Since then Syria Campaign has engineered huge media exposure and mythology about their baby, the “White Helmets” using all sorts of social and traditional media. The campaigns are largely fact free. For example, the Syrian election was dismissed out of hand by them and John Kerry but taken seriously by many millions of Syrians.

The Syria Campaign is managed by Anna Nolan,  who grew up in northern Ireland and has very likely never been to Syria. In addition to promoting the White Helmets,  Syria Campaign promotes a new social media campaign called “Planet Syria”. It features emotional pleas for the world to take notice of Syria in another thinly veiled effort pushing for foreign intervention and war.

According to their website, The Syria Campaign received start-up funding from the foundation of Ayman Asfari, a billionaire who made his money in the oil and gas services industry.

White Helmets

White Helmets is the newly minted name for “Syrian Civil Defence”. Despite the name, Syria Civil Defence was not created by Syrians nor does it serve Syria.  Rather it was created by the UK and USA in 2013. Civilians from rebel controlled territory were paid to go to Turkey to receive some training in rescue operations. The program was managed by James Le Mesurier, a former British soldier and private contractor whose company is based in Dubai.

The trainees are said to be ‘nonpartisan’ but only work in rebel-controlled areas of Idlib (now controlled by Nusra/Al Queda) and Aleppo. There are widely divergent claims regarding the number of people trained by the White Helmets and the number of people rescued.  The numbers are probably highly exaggerated especially since rebel-controlled territories have few civilians. A doctor who recently served in a rebel-controlled area of Aleppo described it as a ghost town. The White Helmets work primarily with the rebel group Jabat al Nusra (Al Queda in Syria). Video of the recent alleged chlorine gas attacks starts with the White Helmet logo and continues with the logo of Nusra. In reality, White Helmets is a small rescue team for Nusra/Al Queda.

But White Helmets primary function is propaganda. White Helmets demonizes the Assad government and encourages direct foreign intervention.  A White Helmet leader wrote a recent Washington Post editorial.  White Helmets are also very active on social media with presence on Twitter, Facebook etc.  According to their website, to contact White Helmets email The Syria Campaign which underscores the relationship.

Nicholas Kristof/New York Times

The “White Helmets” campaign has been highly successful because of uncritical media promotion.  Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times was an advocate of the NATO/US attack on Libya. According to him, villagers who had been shot, injured and their homes destroyed were not bitter, they were thankful! . “Hugs from Libyans” is how he viewed it.  It was, of course, nonsense, helping to pave the way in the invasion and destruction of the country.

Now Kristof is uncritically promoting the White Helmets, aiding and abetting their political and propaganda message seeking foreign intervention in Syria.

Avaaz

Avaaz is an online lobby organization founded in 2007 by Jeremy Heimans (now CEO of Purpose) and others. Start-up funding was provided by George Soros’ foundation.  While Avaaz has promoted some worthy causes, they have been prominent in promoting neoliberal foreign policies in keeping with the U.S. State Department. Accordingly, they had a major disinformation campaign against Venezuela last year.

Avaaz very actively promoted a No Fly Zone in Libya. They are now very actively promoting the same for Syria.

In-depth research and exposure of Avaaz can be found here. The titles give some indication: “Faking It: Charity Communications in the Firing Line”, “Syria: Avaaz, Purpose & the Art of Selling Hate for Empire”, “Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps for Militarism”.

Avaaz justifies its call for No Fly Zone in part on White Helmets. Given the close interconnections between Avaaz and Purpose, they are surely aware that White Helmets is a media creation. This calls into question their sincerity.

Conclusion

The manipulators rely on emotional images and messages, not facts. They depend on willing partners in the mainstream media who amplify the easy and glib characterizations of who and what is good and bad.  The manipulators depend on their audience not asking questions or investigating on their own. In these times of rapid spread of visual and text information via social media, the potential for deceit is huge.

Snapshots

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Avaaz Petition for Libya No Fly Zone — 2011

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Avaaz Petition for Syria No Fly Zone — 2015 (Syria Campaign Posting)

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Kristoff/New York Times/2011

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Kristoff/New York Times/2015

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The Real White Helmet Purpose:  Propaganda

[Rick Sterling is active with the Syria Solidarity Movement and Mt Diablo Peace and Justice Center. He can be emailed at: rsterling1@gmail.com.]