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AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: Humanitarian Spin Merchants & Propaganda Peddlers

21st Century Wire

February 8, 2017

 

travesty-intl

 

Amnesty International has released a report entitled, Syria: Human Slaughterhouse: Mass Hangings and Extermination at Sadnaya Prison. It is the follow up to a slick video produced by Amnesty International back in August 2016. The timing of this report is crucial, as is the fact that Amnesty International has, for years, been exposed as a US State Department soft power tool and propaganda producer.

The report is produced at a critical juncture in the dirty war that has been waged against Syria for the last six years by the US, NATO and Gulf states, Jordan and Israel – all driving their geopolitical objectives in the region, primarily regime change and the weakening of the Syrian state. Amnesty International to the rescue with its formulaic damning report containing the now, familiar, absence of credible evidence or divergent views.

The following real events should be considered when evaluating the timing of Amnesty International’s propaganda release this week: 

1. The liberation of Aleppo and Syrian Army military progress against NATO and Gulf State funded terrorists across Syria.

2. The Astana Peace Talks.

3. Russian-Turkish brokered ceasefire. Partially successful.

4. Tulsi Gabbard trip to Syria and her very successful “Stop Arming Terrorists” bill.

5. Uncertain Trump policy on Syria, threatening to undermine US coalition, regime change objectives.

6. Syria’s pivot towards Russia and China [BRICS New Development Bank] for reconstruction of Syria, thus depriving NATO states of their usual mop-up profit and private sector benefits.

7. “Criminal” investigation will be largely sponsored by UK who are the deep state masterminds in the dirty war against Syria.

8. Two weeks before Geneva Peace talks are scheduled to begin, between Syrian government and the NATO/Gulf state funded opposition factions.

In so many ways, the defamatory tactics being deployed against Syria by western media, governments and NGOs like Amnesty International – are identical to the criminal operation which was carried out against the nation state of Libya in 2011. 

The following report was made by Syriana Analysis, an independent research and analysis media outlet, based in Damascus.

As many as 13,000 people have been executed at Saydnaya prison, north of the capital Damascus, a report by Amnesty International claims. Syriana Analysis addresses the shortcomings of Amnesty report and reveals its poor methodology that does not even meet the lowest mark of scientific or legal veracity.”Watch ~

Compilation of Articles Exposing Amnesty International as an Integral part of the NATO State ‘Smart’ Power Industrial Complex & the “Human Slaughterhouse” Report as a Hoax

Amnesty International Admits Syrian “Saydnaya” Report Fabricated Entirely in UK, by Tony Cartalucci:

“However, there is another aspect of the report that remains unexplored – the fact that Amnesty International itself has openly admitted that the summation of the report was fabricated in the United Kingdom at Amnesty International’s office, using a process they call “forensic architecture,” in which the lack of actual, physical, photographic, and video evidence, is replaced by 3D animations and sound effects created by designers hired by Amnesty International.”

VIDEO: Amnesty International Fake News: Sadnaya Prison for Al Qaeda:


Amnesty International “Human Slaughterhouse” Report Lacks Evidence, Credibility, Reeks Of State Department Propaganda,
by Brandon Turbeville

“The Amnesty International report is, at best, a faulty and poorly produced distortion of some disturbing reports from dubious sources, exaggerated for the purposes of demonizing Assad and the Syrian government. It simply cannot be believed and has no credibility whatsoever. The lack of understanding of Syrian culture, the straws being grasped when it comes to the satellite photos, dubious NGO influence, terrorist-linked sources, and lack of credible “witnesses” as well as the fact that virtually “evidence” being produced rests on these incredible “witnesses” all serve the purpose of destroying AI’s own propaganda before it can even get off the ground. Amnesty International may now officially join the ranks of Human Rights Watch in the running for which NGO and “human rights” organization can produce the most ridiculous yet effective propaganda against the Syrian government. Indeed, Amnesty International has long been known as a State Department propaganda organ designed to attack fake and even sometimes real human rights abuses of target governments. This new report has virtually no evidence to back up its claims and, until it can produce real verifiable evidence, the report itself must be disregarded.”

The Amnesty International Report – Response from Former Syrian Dissident, by the Angry Arab Blogspot:

“This is about the Amnesty International report on Syria.  Western human rights organizations–specifically Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch–don’t have any credibility among most Arabs about human rights. Their reputation has sunk far lower ever since the Arab uprisings in 2011, where they have been rightly perceived as propaganda arms of Western governments.

Nizar Nayouf (Syrian Dissident):

“The white prison is the one on the shape of Mercedes. It is the main building (the old and big). As for the red prison, it is the new and small [structure], and contrary to what is contained in the report–which it seems does not distinguish between the two. The first was inaugurated in 1988 while the second was not inaugurated until 2001. As for the main White building, it is quite impossible for it to accommodate 10,000 prisoners. We know it inch by inch, and know how much it can accommodate, at maximum, and assuming you put 30 prisoners in a cell like pickles (or Syrian style pickles, makdus), it can’t accommodate more than 4500 prisoners (in fact it was designed for 3000 prisoners). The red building is much smaller and is exclusive to public defendants among the military members (traffic, desertion, various criminal offenses, etc), and can’t accommodate more than 1800 prisoners, and even if you put 3 on top of one another…READ ON.”

Amnesty International Report Hearsay, by Moon of Alabama:

“A new Amnesty International report claims that the Syrian government hanged between 5,000 and 13,000 prisoners in a military prison in Syria. The evidence for that claim is flimsy, based on hearsay of anonymous people outside of Syria. The numbers themselves are extrapolations that no scientist or court would ever accept. It is tabloid reporting and fiction style writing from its title “Human Slaughterhouse” down to the last paragraph…”

The Farce that is Amnesty International’s “Human Slaughterhouse Study”: Quite Literally Fake News Goes Viral, by Scott Creighton:

“All day yesterday, Amnesty International was trending on Twitter. Thousands of people left comments reflecting their outrage at Assad “the monster” and various news organizations published the baseless comments as news. It was a megaphone project that worked perfectly… for a little while. You’ll notice the story has been relegated to the back pages today and some publications  have actually pulled their articles on it. There’s a reason for that. The AI report is complete and total bunk. It’s baseless, technically flawed and as they accurately reported over at Moon of Alabama, it wouldn’t stand up in even the most rigged kangaroo court on the planet. Do you want to know many of those 13,000 victims of “torture, hanging and extermination” that AI has actual evidence of?

Zero.”

How we were Misled about Syria: Amnesty International, by Tim Hayward:

“Since it is not just the strength of the condemnation that is noteworthy, but the swiftness of its delivery – in ‘real-time’ – a question that Amnesty International supporters might consider is how the organisation can provide instantaneous coverage of events while also fully investigating and verifying the evidence.”

Amnesty International is US State Department Propaganda, by Tony Cartalucci:

“Amnesty does indeed cover issues that are critical of US foreign policy, toward the bottom of their websites and at the back of their reports. Likewise, the corporate-media selectively reports issues that coincide with their interests while other issues are either under-reported or not reported at all. And it is precisely because Amnesty covers all issues, but selectively emphasizes those that are conducive to the interests of immense corporate-financiers that makes Amnesty one of the greatest impediments to genuine human rights advocacy on Earth.”

Tim
Infograph by Prof Tim Anderson, author of The Dirty War on Syria.

Amnesty International, Imperialist Tool, by Prof Francis Boyle:

“Once it became clear that there never were any dead babies in Kuwait as alleged by Amnesty International, AI/London proceeded to engage in a massive coverup of the truth. For all I know, the same people at AI/London who waged this Dead-Babies Disinformation Campaign against Iraq are still at AI/London producing more disinformation against Arab/Muslim states in the Middle East in order to further the political and economic interests of the United States, Britain, and Israel. Because of its Dead-Babies Disinformation Campaign against Iraq and its ensuing coverup, Amnesty International will never have any credibility in the Middle East!”

Amnesty International Whitewashing Another Massacre, by Paul de Rooij

“Amnesty urges Palestinians to address their grievances via the ICC. It is curious that while international law provides the Palestinians no protection whatsoever, AI is urging Palestinians to jump through international legal hoops. It is also questionable to suggest a legal framework meant for interstate conflict when dealing with a non-state dispossessed native population. And of course, AI fails to mention that Israel has avoided and ignored international law with the complicity and aid of the United States.”

Eight Problems with Amnesty’s Report on Aleppo, by Rick Sterling:

“There is little or no evidence provided regarding most of the alleged victims. Photographs and video evidence is provided for a small minority of the cases. The spokesman and advocacy director for VDC is Bassam al Ahmad.  He is based in Istanbul and closely connected to the United States as shown in his recent participation in a “Leadership Conference” as shown in photograph #4 below. In short, Amnesty’s report and conclusions are based on dubious data from a biased source closely aligned with foreign powers actively seeking “regime change” in Damascus.”

George Soros Anti-Syria Campaign Impresario, by Vanessa Beeley:

“In some countries, local NGOs also have been funded to mount “people power” campaigns. As in the recent “color revolutions,” these campaigns are aimed at opening up political regimes to opposition parties and ousting leaders who were holding onto power through irregular methods. Viewed more broadly, all these programs supporting NGO activities and capacity-building are seen as ways to foster the progressive emergence of a broad civil society, one that both supplements the state in providing for public needs and makes governments more responsive to their populations.”  The gloves appear to be off.  Here, the Wilson Centre is blithely exposing the NGO’s trojan horse policy with regards to its role as outreach agents for Imperialism in any resource rich or strategically important, prey nation. It explains perfectly the funding of the people power, time for change campaigns that run in synch with any regional or national schisms that are then piggybacked by imported or locally fostered opposition movements to propel the Imperialist friendly movements towards regime change.”

Soros Plays Both Ends Against the Middle, by William Engdahl:

Another Soros-financed NGO active demonizing the Assad government as cause of all atrocities in Syria and helping build publc support for a war in Syria from the US and EU is Amnesty International. Suzanne Nossel, until 2013 the Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, came to the job from the US State Department where she was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, not exactly an unbiased agency in regard to Syria” 

Amnesty International, Infamous Tools of Conspiracies,  by Wrong Kind of Green Files:

“Nayirah’s fairy tale is one of the many deceiving act of drama orchestrated by such organizations like “Amnesty International” designed to serve Washington’s political, security and military objectives of the US. Dr. Francis Boyle, one former Board Member of “Amnesty International”, disclosed that at the time the Security Council was voting in favor of the invasion of Iraq, and as they confessed later, was based on the false report by “Amnesty International”.

Amnesty International, War Propaganda and Human Rights Terrorism, by Gearoid O’Colmain:

“We must document crimes such as the massacre of Jaramana and  expose those who attempt to cover for their perpetrators, not because they are violations of human rights but because they are violations of humanity and the social networks that sustain meaningful human relations. We must stand up for the human being and consign human rights to the dustbin of history.”

Smart Power and the Human Rights Industrial Complex, by Patrick Henningsen:

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

Human Rights Front Groups Warring on Syria, by Eva Bartlett:

“Amnesty does take money from both governments and corporate-financier interests, one of the most notorious of which, Open Society, is headed by convicted financial criminal George Soros (whose Open Society also funds Human Rights Watch and a myriad of other “human rights” advocates). Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, for instance was drawn directly from the US State Department …Amnesty International’s website specifically mentions Nossel’s role behind US State Department-backed UN resolutions regarding Iran, Syria, Libya, and Cote d’Ivoire… Nossel’s “contributions” then are simply to dress up naked military aggression and the pursuit of global corporate-financier hegemony with the pretense of “human rights” advocacy.” [citation from: Amnesty International is US State Department Propaganda]

Suzanne Nossel Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, by Human Rights Investigations:

“Given that Suzanne Nossel is an advocate for war, particularly against Israel’s enemies, and a firm believer in NATO and US power, what has this meant for Amnesty in the last few months? Well not surprisingly Nossel has used her platform as Executive Director to focus on the State Department’s current main concerns which are Syria and Iran as well as China and Russia, who through their membership of the UN Security Council and insistence on the principles of national sovereignty and non-aggression towards other member states constitute obstacles to US foreign policy.”

VIDEO: LIBYA: Amnesty International Confessing:

Human Rights, Geopolitics and the Union for the Mediterranean, by Centre for Study of Interventionism

“The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies is a key NGO within the Network and it is also a member of the International Federation of Human Rights.  It was founded in 1993 by Bahey El Din Hassan who was elected member of the Executive Committee of the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network at its second meeting in 1997.  In December 2011, he participated in a meeting of the Atlantic Council co-organised by the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East dealing with Egypt which is his country or origin. (7)  That meeting discussed the arrest of members of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the National Endowment for Democracy who were accused of interference in Egyptian internal affairs.

 

The Revolutionary Distemper in Syria That Wasn’t

What’s Left

October 22, 2016

By Stephen Gowans

 

“Apparently, the US Left has yet to figure out that Washington doesn’t try to overthrow neoliberals. If Syrian President Bashar al-Assad were a devotee of the Washington Consensus–as Counterpunch’s Eric Draitser seems to believe–the United States government wouldn’t have been calling since 2003 for Assad to step down. Nor would it be overseeing the Islamist guerilla war against his government; it would be protecting him.”

 

There is a shibboleth in some circles that, as Eric Draitser put it in a recent Counterpunch article, the uprising in Syria “began as a response to the Syrian government’s neoliberal policies and brutality,” and that “the revolutionary content of the rebel side in Syria has been sidelined by a hodgepodge of Saudi and Qatari-financed jihadists.” This theory appears, as far as I can tell, to be based on argument by assertion, not evidence.

Forthcoming April 2017 from Baraka Books.

Forthcoming April 2017 from Baraka Books.

A review of press reports in the weeks immediately preceding and following the mid-March 2011 outbreak of riots in Daraa—usually recognized as the beginning of the uprising—offers no indication that Syria was in the grips of a revolutionary distemper, whether anti-neo-liberal or otherwise. On the contrary, reporters representing Time magazine and the New York Times referred to the government as having broad support, of critics conceding that Assad was popular, and of Syrians exhibiting little interest in protest. At the same time, they described the unrest as a series of riots involving hundreds, and not thousands or tens of thousands of people, guided by a largely Islamist agenda and exhibiting a violent character.

Time magazine reported that two jihadist groups that would later play lead roles in the insurgency, Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham, were already in operation on the eve of the riots, while a mere three months earlier, leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood voiced “their hope for a civil revolt in Syria.” The Muslim Brothers, who had decades earlier declared a blood feud with Syria’s ruling Ba’athist Party, objecting violently to the party’s secularism, had been embroiled in a life and death struggle with secular Arab nationalists since the 1960s, and had engaged in street battles with Ba’athist partisans from the late 1940s. (In one such battle, Hafez al-Assad, the current president’s father, who himself would serve as president from 1970 to 2000, was knifed by a Muslim Brother adversary.) The Brotherhood’s leaders, beginning in 2007, met frequently with the US State Department and the US National Security Council, as well as with the US government-funded Middle East Partnership Initiative, which had taken on the overt role of funding overseas overthrow organizations—a task the CIA had previously done covertly.

Washington had conspired to purge Arab nationalist influence from Syria as early as the mid-1950s, when Kermit Roosevelt, who engineered the overthrow of Iran’s prime minister Mohammad Mossadegh for nationalizing his country’s oil industry, plotted with British intelligence to stir up the Muslim Brothers to overthrow a triumvirate of Arab nationalist and communist leaders in Damascus who Washington and London perceived as threatening Western economic interests in the Middle East.

Washington funnelled arms to Brotherhood mujahedeen in the 1980s to wage urban guerrilla warfare against Hafez al-Assad, who hardliners in Washington called an “Arab communist.” His son, Bashar, continued the Arab nationalists’ commitment to unity (of the Arab nation), independence, and (Arab) socialism. These goals guided the Syrian state—as they had done the Arab nationalist states of Libya under Muammar Gaddafi and Iraq under Saddam. All three states were targeted by Washington for the same reason: their Arab nationalist commitments clashed fundamentally with the US imperialist agenda of US global leadership.

Bashar al-Assad’s refusal to renounce Arab nationalist ideology dismayed Washington, which complained about his socialism, the third part of the Ba’athists’ holy trinity of values. Plans to oust Assad—based in part on his failure to embrace Washington’s neo-liberalism—were already in preparation in Washington by 2003, if not earlier. If Assad was championing neo-liberalism, as Draitser and others contend, it somehow escaped the notice of Washington and Wall Street, which complained about “socialist” Syria and the country’s decidedly anti-neoliberal economic policies.

A Death Feud Heats Up With US Assistance

In late January 2011, a page was created on Facebook called The Syrian Revolution 2011. It announced that a “Day of Rage” would be held on February 4 and 5. [1] The protests “fizzled,” reported Time. The Day of Rage amounted to a Day of Indifference. Moreover, the connection to Syria was tenuous. Most of the chants shouted by the few protesters who attended were about Libya, demanding that Muammar Gaddafi—whose government was under siege by Islamist insurrectionists—step down. Plans were set for new protests on March 4 and March 5, but they too garnered little support. [2]

Time’s correspondent Rania Abouzeid attributed the failure of the protest organizers to draw significant support to the fact that most Syrians were not opposed to their government. Assad had a favorable reputation, especially among the two-thirds of the population under 30 years of age, and his government’s policies were widely supported. “Even critics concede that Assad is popular and considered close to the country’s huge youth cohort, both emotionally, ideologically and, of course, chronologically,” Abouzeid reported, adding that unlike “the ousted pro-American leaders of Tunisia and Egypt, Assad’s hostile foreign policy toward Israel, strident support for Palestinians and the militant groups Hamas and Hezbollah are in line with popular Syrian sentiment.” Assad, in other words, had legitimacy. The Time correspondent added that Assad’s “driving himself to the Umayyad Mosque in February to take part in prayers to mark the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, and strolling through the crowded Souq Al-Hamidiyah marketplace with a low security profile” had “helped to endear him, personally, to the public.” [3]

This depiction of the Syrian president—a leader endeared to the public, ideologically in sync with popular Syrian sentiment—clashed starkly with the discourse that would emerge shortly after the eruption of violent protests in the Syrian town of Daraa less than two weeks later, and would become implanted in the discourse of US leftists, including Draitser. But on the eve of the signal Daraa events, Syria was being remarked upon for its quietude. No one “expects mass uprisings in Syria,” Abouzeid reported, “and, despite a show of dissent every now and then, very few want to participate.” [4] A Syrian youth told Time: “There is a lot of government help for the youth. They give us free books, free schools, free universities.” (Hardly the picture of the neo-liberal state Draitser paints.) She continued: “Why should there be a revolution? There’s maybe a one percent chance.” [5] The New York Times shared this view. Syria, the newspaper reported, “seemed immune to the wave of uprisings sweeping the Arab world.” [6] Syria was distemper-free.

But on March 17, there was a violent uprising in Daraa. There are conflicting accounts of who or what sparked it. Time reported that the “rebellion in Daraa was provoked by the arrest of a handful of youths for daubing a wall with anti-regime graffiti.” [7] The Independent’s Robert Fisk offered a slightly different version. He reported that “government intelligence officers beat and killed several boys who had scrawled anti-government graffiti on the walls of the city.” [8] Another account holds that the factor that sparked the uprising in Daraa that day was extreme and disproportionate use of force by Syrian security forces in response to demonstrations against the boys’ arrest. There “were some youngsters printing some graffiti on the wall, and they were imprisoned, and as their parents wanted them back, the security forces really struck back very, very tough.” [9] Another account, from the Syrian government, denies that any of this happened. Five years after the event, Assad told an interviewer that it “didn’t happen. It was only propaganda. I mean, we heard about them, we never saw those children that have been taken to prison that time. So, it was only a fallacious narrative.”[10]

But if there was disagreement about what sparked the uprising, there was little disagreement that the uprising was violent. The New York Times reported that “Protesters set fire to the ruling Ba’ath Party’s headquarters and other government buildings…and clashed with police….In addition to the party headquarters, protesters burned the town’s main courthouse and a branch of the SyriaTel phone company.” [11] Time added that protesters set fire to the governor’s office, as well as to a branch office of a second cellphone company. [12] The Syrian government’s news agency, SANA, posted photographs of burning vehicles on its Web site. [13] Clearly, this wasn’t a peaceful demonstration, as it would be later depicted. Nor was it a mass uprising. Time reported that the demonstrators numbered in the hundreds, not thousands or tens of thousands. [14]

Assad reacted immediately to the Daraa ructions, announcing “a series of reforms, including a salary increase for public workers, greater freedom for the news media and political parties, and a reconsideration of the emergency rule,” [15] a war-time restriction on political and civil liberties, invoked because Syria was officially at war with Israel. Before the end of April, the government would rescind “the country’s 48-year-old emergency law” and abolish “the Supreme State Security Court.” [16]

Why did the government make these concessions? Because that’s what the Daraa protesters demanded. Protesters “gathered in and around Omari mosque in Daraa, chanting their demands: the release of all political prisoners…the abolition of Syria’s 48-year emergency law; more freedoms; and an end to pervasive corruption.” [17] These demands were consistent with the call, articulated in early February on The Syrian Revolution 2011 Facebook page “to end the state of emergency in Syria and end corruption.” [18] A demand to release all political prisoners was also made in a letter signed by clerics posted on Facebook. The clerics’ demands included lifting the “state of emergency law, releasing all political detainees, halting harassment by the security forces and combating corruption.” [19] Releasing political detainees would amount to releasing jihadists, or, to use a designation current in the West, “terrorists.” The State Department had acknowledged that political Islam was the main opposition in Syria [20]; jihadists made up the principal section of oppositionists likely to be incarcerated. Clerics demanding that Damascus release all political prisoners was equal in effect to the Islamic State demanding that Washington, Paris, and London release all Islamists detained in US, French and British prisons on terrorism charges. This wasn’t a demand for jobs and greater democracy, but a demand for the release from prison of activists inspired by the goal of bringing about an Islamic state in Syria. The call to lift the emergency law, similarly, appeared to have little to do with fostering democracy and more to do with expanding the room for jihadists and their collaborators to organize opposition to the secular state.

A week after the outbreak of violence in Daraa, Time’s Rania Abouzeid reported that “there do not appear to be widespread calls for the fall of the regime or the removal of the relatively popular President.” [21] Indeed, the demands issued by the protesters and clerics had not included calls for Assad to step down. And Syrians were rallying to Assad. “There were counterdemonstrations in the capital in support of the President,” [22] reportedly far exceeding in number the hundreds of protesters who turned out in Daraa to burn buildings and cars and clash with police. [23]

By April 9—less than a month after the Daraa events—Time reported that a string of protests had broken out and that Islam was playing a prominent role in them. For anyone who was conversant with the decades-long succession of strikes, demonstrations, riots, and insurrections the Muslim Brotherhood had organized against what it deemed the “infidel” Ba’athist government, this looked like history repeating itself. The protests weren‘t reaching a critical mass. On the contrary, the government continued to enjoy “the loyalty” of “a large part of the population,” reported Time. [24]

Islamists played a lead role in drafting the Damascus Declaration in the mid-2000s, which demanded regime change. [25] In 2007, the Muslim Brothers, the archetypal Sunni political Islamist movement, which inspired Al-Qaeda and its progeny, Jabhat al Nusra and Islamic State, teamed up with a former Syrian vice-president to found the National Salvation Front. The front met frequently with the US State Department and the US National Security Council, as well as with the US government-funded Middle East Partnership Initiative, [26] which did openly what the CIA once did covertly, namely, funnel money and expertise to fifth columnists in countries whose governments Washington opposed.

By 2009, just two years before the eruption of unrest throughout the Arab world, the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood denounced the Arab nationalist government of Bashar al-Assad as a foreign and hostile element in Syrian society which needed to be eliminated. According to the group’s thinking, the Alawite community, to which Assad belonged, and which the Brothers regarded as heretics, used secular Arab nationalism as a cover to furtively advance a sectarian agenda to destroy Syria from within by oppressing “true” (i.e., Sunni) Muslims. In the name of Islam, the heretical regime would have to be overthrown. [27]

A mere three months before the 2011 outbreak of violence in Syria, scholar Liad Porat wrote a brief for the Crown Center for Middle East Studies, based at Brandeis University. “The movement’s leaders,” the scholar concluded, “continue to voice their hope for a civil revolt in Syria, wherein ‘the Syrian people will perform its duty and liberate Syria from the tyrannical and corrupt regime.’” The Brotherhood stressed that it was engaged in a fight to the death with the secular Arab nationalist government of Bashar al-Assad. A political accommodation with the government was impossible because its leaders were not part of the Sunni Muslim Syrian nation. Membership in the Syrian nation was limited to true Muslims, the Brothers contended, and not Alawite heretics who embraced such foreign un-Islamic creeds as secular Arab nationalism. [28]

That the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood played a key role in the uprising that erupted three months later was confirmed in 2012 by the US Defense Intelligence Agency. A leaked report from the agency said that the insurgency was sectarian and led by the Muslim Brotherhood and Al-Qaeda in Iraq, the forerunner of Islamic State. The report went on to say that the insurgents were supported by the West, Arab Gulf oil monarchies and Turkey. The analysis correctly predicted the establishment of a “Salafist principality,” an Islamic state, in Eastern Syria, noting that this was desired by the insurgency’s foreign backers, who wanted to see the secular Arab nationalists isolated and cut-off from Iran. [29]

Documents prepared by US Congress researchers in 2005 revealed that the US government was actively weighing regime change in Syria long before the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011, challenging the view that US support for the Syrian rebels was based on allegiance to a “democratic uprising” and showing that it was simply an extension of a long-standing policy of seeking to topple the government in Damascus. Indeed, the researchers acknowledged that the US government’s motivation to overthrow the secular Arab nationalist government in Damascus was unrelated to democracy promotion in the Middle East. In point of fact, they noted that Washington’s preference was for secular dictatorships (Egypt) and monarchies (Jordan and Saudi Arabia.) The impetus for pursuing regime change, according to the researchers, was a desire to sweep away an impediment to the achievement of US goals in the Middle East related to strengthening Israel, consolidating US domination of Iraq, and fostering open market, free enterprise economies. Democracy was never a consideration. [30] If Assad was promoting neo-liberal policies in Syria, as Draitser contends, it’s difficult to understand why Washington cited Syria’s refusal to embrace the US agenda of open markets and free enterprise as a reason to change Syria’s government.

To underscore the point that the protests lacked broad popular support, on April 22, more than a month after the Daraa riot, the New York Times’ Anthony Shadid reported that “the protests, so far, seemed to fall short of the popular upheaval of revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia.” In other words, more than a month after only hundreds—and not thousands or tens of thousands—of protesters rioted in Daraa, there was no sign in Syria of a popular Arab Spring upheaval. The uprising remained a limited, prominently, Islamist affair. By contrast, there had been huge demonstrations in Damascus in support of—not against—the government, Assad remained popular, and, according to Shadid, the government commanded the loyalty of “Christian and heterodox Muslim sects.” [31] Shadid wasn’t the only Western journalist who reported that Alawites, Ismailis, Druze and Christians were strongly backing the government. Times’ Rania Abouzeid observed that the Ba’athists “could claim the backing of Syria’s substantial minority groups.” [32]

The reality that the Syrian government commanded the loyalty of Christian and heterodox Muslim sects, as the New York Times’ Shadid reported, suggested that Syria’s religious minorities recognized something about the uprising that the Western press under-reported (and revolutionary socialists in the United States missed), namely, that it was driven by a sectarian Sunni Islamist agenda which, if brought to fruition, would have unpleasant consequences for anyone who wasn’t considered a “true” Muslim. For this reason, Alawites, Ismailis, Druze and Christians lined up with the Ba’athists who sought to bridge sectarian divisions as part of their programmatic commitment to fostering Arab unity. The slogan “Alawis to the grave and Christians to Beirut!” chanted during demonstrations in those early days” [33] only confirmed the point that the uprising was a continuation of the death feud that Sunni political Islam had vowed to wage against the secular Arab nationalist government, and was not a mass upheaval for democracy or against neo-liberalism. If indeed it was any of these things, how would we explain that a thirst for democracy and opposition to neo-liberalism were present only in the Sunni community and absent in those of religious minorities? Surely, a democratic deficit and neoliberal tyranny, if they were present at all and acted as triggers of a revolutionary upsurge, would have crossed religious lines. That Alawites, Ismailis, Druze and Christians didn’t demonstrate, and that riots were Sunni-based with Islamist content, points strongly to the insurrection, from the very beginning, representing the recrudescence of the long running Sunni jihadist campaign against Ba’athist secularism.

“From the very beginning the Assad government said it was engaged in a fight with militant Islamists.” [34] The long history of Islamist uprisings against Ba’athism prior to 2011 certainly suggested this was very likely the case, and the way in which the uprising subsequently unfolded, as an Islamist-led war against the secular state, only strengthened the view. Other evidence, both positive and negative, corroborated Assad’s contention that the Syrian state was under attack by jihadists (just as it had been many other times in the past.) The negative evidence, that the uprising wasn’t a popular upheaval against an unpopular government, was inhered in Western media reports which showed that Syria’s Arab nationalist government was popular and commanded the loyalty of the population.

By contrast, anti-government demonstrations, riots and protests were small-scale, attracting far fewer people than did a mass demonstration in Damascus in support of the government, and certainly not on the order of the popular upheavals in Egypt and Tunisia. What’s more, the protesters’ demands centered on the release of political prisoners (mainly jihadists) and the lifting of war-time restrictions on the expression of political dissent, not calls for Assad to step down or change the government’s economic policies. The positive evidence came from Western news media accounts which showed that Islam played a prominent role in the riots. Also, while it was widely believed that armed Islamist groups only entered the fray subsequent to the initial spring 2011 riots—and in doing so “hijacked” a “popular uprising”— in point of fact, two jihadist groups which played a prominent role in the post-2011 armed revolt against secular Arab nationalism, Ahrar- al-Sham and Jabhat al-Nusra, were both active at the beginning of 2011. Ahrar al-Sham “started working on forming brigades…well before mid-March, 2011, when the” Daraa riot occurred, according to Time. [35] Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, “was unknown until late January 2012, when it announced its formation… [but] it was active for months before then.” [36]

Another piece of evidence that is consistent with the view that militant Islam played a role in the uprisings very early on—or, at the very least, that the protests were violent from the beginning—is that `”there were signs from the very start that armed groups were involved.” The journalist and author Robert Fisk recalled seeing a tape from “the very early days of the ‘rising’ showing men with pistols and Kalashnikovs in a Daraa demonstration.” He recalls another event, in May 2011, when “an Al Jazeera crew filmed armed men shooting at Syrian troops a few hundred metres from the northern border with Lebanon but the channel declined to air the footage.” [37] Even US officials, who were hostile to the Syrian government and might be expected to challenge Damascus’s view that it was embroiled in a fight with armed rebels “acknowledged that the demonstrations weren’t peaceful and that some protesters were armed.” [38] By September, Syrian authorities were reporting that they had lost more than 500 police officers and soldiers, killed by guerillas. [39] By late October, the number had more than doubled. [40] In less than a year, the uprising had gone from the burning of Ba’ath Party buildings and government officers and clashes with police, to guerrilla warfare, involving methods that would be labeled “terrorism” were they undertaken against Western targets.

Assad would later complain that:

“Everything we said in Syria at the beginning of the crisis they say later. They said it’s peaceful, we said it’s not peaceful, they’re killing – these demonstrators, that they called them peaceful demonstrators – have killed policemen. Then it became militants. They said yes, it’s militants. We said it’s militants, it’s terrorism. They said no, it’s not terrorism. Then when they say it’s terrorism, we say it’s Al Qaeda, they say no, it’s not Al Qaeda. So, whatever we said, they say later.” [41]

The “Syrian uprising,” wrote the Middle East specialist Patrick Seale, “should be seen as only the latest, if by far the most violent, episode in the long war between Islamists and Ba’athists, which dates back to the founding of the secular Ba‘ath Party in the 1940s. The struggle between them is by now little short of a death-feud.” [42] “It is striking,” Seale continued, citing Aron Lund, who had written a report for the Swedish Institute of International Affairs on Syrian Jihadism, “that virtually all the members of the various armed insurgent groups are Sunni Arabs; that the fighting has been largely restricted to Sunni Arab areas only, whereas areas inhabited by Alawis, Druze or Christians have remained passive or supportive of the regime; that defections from the regime are nearly 100 per cent Sunni; that money, arms and volunteers are pouring in from Islamic states or from pro-Islamic organisations and individuals; and that religion is the insurgent movement’s most important common denominator.” [43]

Brutality as a Trigger?

Is it reasonable to believe that the use of force by the Syrian state sparked the guerrilla war which broke out soon after?

It strains belief that an over-reaction by security forces to a challenge to government authority in the Syrian town of Daraa (if indeed an over-reaction occurred) could spark a major war, involving scores of states, and mobilizing jihadists from scores of countries. A slew of discordant facts would have to be ignored to begin to give this theory even a soupcon of credibility.

First, we would have to overlook the reality that the Assad government was popular and viewed as legitimate. A case might be made that an overbearing response by a highly unpopular government to a trivial challenge to its authority might have provided the spark that was needed to ignite a popular insurrection, but notwithstanding US president Barack Obama’s insistence that Assad lacked legitimacy, there’s no evidence that Syria, in March 2011, was a powder keg of popular anti-government resentment ready to explode. As Time’s Rania Abouzeid reported on the eve of the Daraa riot, “Even critics concede that Assad is popular” [44] and “no one expects mass uprisings in Syria and, despite a show of dissent every now and then, very few want to participate.” [45]

Second, we would have to discount the fact that the Daraa riot involved only hundreds of participants, hardly a mass uprising, and the protests that followed similarly failed to garner a critical mass, as Time’s Nicholas Blanford reported.[46] Similarly, the New York Times’ Anthony Shadid found no evidence that there was a popular upheaval in Syria, even more than a month after the Daraa riot.[47] What was going on, contrary to Washington-propagated rhetoric about the Arab Spring breaking out in Syria, was that jihadists were engaged in a campaign of guerilla warfare against Syrian security forces, and had, by October, taken the lives of more than a thousand police officers and soldiers.

Third, we would have to close our eyes to the fact that the US government, with its British ally, had drawn up plans in 1956 to provoke a war in Syria by enlisting the Muslim Brotherhood to instigate internal uprisings. [48] The Daraa riot and subsequent armed clashes with police and soldiers resembled the plan which regime change specialist Kermit Roosevelt had prepared. That’s not to say that the CIA dusted off Roosevelt’s proposal and recycled it for use in 2011; only that the plot showed that Washington and London were capable of planning a destabilization operation involving a Muslim Brotherhood-led insurrection to bring about regime change in Syria.

We would also have to ignore the events of February 1982, when the Muslim Brothers seized control of Hama, Syria’s fourth largest city. Hama was the epicenter of Sunni fundamentalism in Syria, and a major base of operations for the jihadist fighters. Galvanized by a false report that Assad had been overthrown, Muslim Brothers went on a gleeful blood-soaked rampage throughout the city, attacking police stations and murdering Ba’ath Party leaders and their families, along with government officials and soldiers. In some cases, victims were decapitated [49] a practice which would be resurrected decades later by Islamic State fighters. Every Ba’athist official in Hama was murdered. [50]

The Hama events of 1982 are usually remembered in the West (if they’re remembered at all), not for the atrocities carried out by the Islamists, but for the Syrian army’s response, which, as would be expected of any army, involved the use of force to restore sovereign control over the territory seized by the insurrectionists. Thousands of troops were dispatched to take Hama back from the Muslim Brothers. Former US State Department official William R. Polk described the aftermath of the Syrian army assault on Hama as resembling that of the US assault on the Iraqi city of Fallujah in 2004, [51] (the difference, of course, being that the Syrian army was acting legitimately within its own sovereign territory while the US military was acting illegitimately as an occupying force to quell opposition to its occupation.) How many died in the Hama assault, however, remains a matter of dispute. The figures vary. “An early report in Time said that 1,000 were killed. Most observers estimated that 5,000 people died. Israeli sources and the Muslim Brotherhood”—sworn enemies of the secular Arab nationalists who therefore had an interest in exaggerating the casualty toll—“both charged that the death toll passed 20,000.” [52] Robert Dreyfus, who has written on the West’s collaboration with political Islam, argues that Western sources deliberately exaggerated the death toll in order to demonize the Ba’athists as ruthless killers, and that the Ba’athists went along with the deception in order to intimidate the Muslim Brotherhood. [53]

As the Syrian army sorted through the rubble of Hama in the aftermath of the assault, evidence was found that foreign governments had provided Hama’s insurrectionists with money, arms, and communications equipment. Polk writes that:

“Assad saw foreign troublemakers at work among his people. This, after all, was the emotional and political legacy of colonial rule—a legacy painfully evident in most of the post-colonial world, but one that is almost unnoticed in the Western world. And the legacy is not a myth. It is a reality that, often years after events occur, we can verify with official papers. Hafez al-Assad did not need to wait for leaks of documents: his intelligence services and international journalists turned up dozens of attempts by conservative, oil-rich Arab countries, the United States, and Israel to subvert his government. Most engaged in ‘dirty tricks,’ propaganda, or infusions of money, but it was noteworthy that in the 1982 Hama uprising, more than 15,000 foreign-supplied machine guns were captured, along with prisoners including Jordanian- and CIA-trained paramilitary forces (much like the jihadists who appear so much in media accounts of 2013 Syria). And what he saw in Syria was confirmed by what he learned about Western regime-changing elsewhere. He certainly knew of the CIA attempt to murder President Nasser of Egypt and the Anglo-American overthrow of the government of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh.” [54]

In his book From Beirut to Jerusalem, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman wrote that “the Hama massacre could be understood as, ‘The natural reaction of a modernizing politician in a relatively new nation state trying to stave off retrogressive—in this case, Islamic fundamentalists—elements aiming to undermine everything he has achieved in the way of building Syria into a 20th century secular republic. That is also why,” continued Friedman, that “if someone had been able to take an objective opinion poll in Syria after the Hama massacre, Assad’s treatment of the rebellion probably would have won substantial approval, even among Sunni Muslims.” [55]

The outbreak of a Sunni Islamist jihad against the Syrian government in the 1980s challenges the view that militant Sunni Islam in the Levant is an outcome of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq and the pro-Shi’a sectarian policies of the US occupation authorities. This view is historically myopic, blind to the decades-long existence of Sunni political Islam as a significant force in Levantine politics. From the moment Syria achieved formal independence from France after World War II, through the decades that followed in the 20th century, and into the next century, the main contending forces in Syria were secular Arab nationalism and political Islam. As journalist Patrick Cockburn wrote in 2016, “the Syrian armed opposition is dominated by Isis, al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham.” The “only alternative to (secular Arab nationalist) rule is the Islamists.” [56] This has long been the case.

Finally, we would also have to ignore the fact that US strategists had planned since 2003, and possibly as early as 2001, to force Assad and his secular Arab nationalist ideology from power, and was funding the Syrian opposition, including Muslim Brotherhood-linked groups, from 2005. Accordingly, Washington had been driving toward the overthrow of the Assad government with the goal of de-Ba’athifying Syria. An Islamist-led guerilla struggle against Syria’s secular Arab nationalists would have unfolded, regardless of whether the Syrian government’s response at Daraa was excessive or not. The game was already in play, and a pretext was being sought. Daraa provided it. Thus, the idea that the arrest of two boys in Daraa for painting anti-government graffiti on a wall could provoke a major conflict is as believable as the notion that WWI was caused by nothing more than the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

Socialist Syria

Socialism can be defined in many ways, but if it is defined as public-ownership of the commanding heights of the economy accompanied by economic planning, then Syria under its 1973 and 2012 constitutions clearly meets the definition of socialism. However, the Syrian Arab Republic had never been a working-class socialist state, of the category Marxists would recognize. It was, instead, an Arab socialist state inspired by the goal of achieving Arab political independence and overcoming the legacy of the Arab nation’s underdevelopment. The framers of the constitution saw socialism as a means to achieve national liberation and economic development. “The march toward the establishment of a socialist order,” the 1973 constitution’s framers wrote, is a “fundamental necessity for mobilizing the potentialities of the Arab masses in their battle with Zionism and imperialism.” Marxist socialism concerned itself with the struggle between an exploiting owning class and exploited working class, while Arab socialism addressed the struggle between exploiting and exploited nations. While these two different socialisms operated at different levels of exploitation, the distinctions were of no moment for Westerns banks, corporations and major investors as they cast their gaze across the globe in pursuit of profit. Socialism was against the profit-making interests of US industrial and financial capital, whether it was aimed at ending the exploitation of the working class or overcoming the imperialist oppression of national groups.

Ba’ath socialism had long irritated Washington. The Ba’athist state had exercised considerable influence over the Syrian economy, through ownership of enterprises, subsidies to privately-owned domestic firms, limits on foreign investment, and restrictions on imports. The Ba’athists regarded these measures as necessary economic tools of a post-colonial state trying to wrest its economic life from the grips of former colonial powers and to chart a course of development free from the domination of foreign interests.

Washington’s goals, however, were obviously antithetical. It didn’t want Syria to nurture its industry and zealously guard its independence, but to serve the interests of the bankers and major investors who truly mattered in the United States, by opening Syrian labor to exploitation and Syria’s land and natural resources to foreign ownership. Our agenda, the Obama Administration had declared in 2015, “is focused on lowering tariffs on American products, breaking down barriers to our goods and services, and setting higher standards to level the playing field for American…firms.”[57] This was hardly a new agenda, but had been the agenda of US foreign policy for decades. Damascus wasn’t falling into line behind a Washington that insisted that it could and would “lead the global economy.”[58]

Hardliners in Washington had considered Hafez al-Assad an Arab communist, [59] and US officials considered his son, Bashar, an ideologue who couldn’t bring himself to abandon the third pillar of the Ba’ath Arab Socialist Party’s program: socialism. The US State Department complained that Syria had “failed to join an increasingly interconnected global economy,” which is to say, had failed to turn over its state-owned enterprises to private investors, among them Wall Street financial interests. The US State Department also expressed dissatisfaction that “ideological reasons” had prevented Assad from liberalizing Syria’s economy, that “privatization of government enterprises was still not widespread,” and that the economy “remains highly controlled by the government.” [60] Clearly, Assad hadn’t learned what Washington had dubbed the “lessons of history,” namely, that “market economies, not command-and-control economies with the heavy hand of government, are the best.” [61] By drafting a constitution that mandated that the government maintain a role in guiding the economy on behalf of Syrian interests, and that the Syrian government would not make Syrians work for the interests of Western banks, corporations, and investors, Assad was asserting Syrian independence against Washington’s agenda of “opening markets and leveling the playing field for American….businesses abroad.” [62]

On top of this, Assad underscored his allegiance to socialist values against what Washington had once called the “moral imperative” of “economic freedom,” [63] by writing social rights into the constitution: security against sickness, disability and old age; access to health care; and free education at all levels. These rights would continue to be placed beyond the easy reach of legislators and politicians who could sacrifice them on the altar of creating a low-tax, foreign-investment-friendly business climate. As a further affront against Washington’s pro-business orthodoxy, the constitution committed the state to progressive taxation.

Finally, the Ba’athist leader included in his updated constitution a provision that had been introduced by his father in 1973, a step toward real, genuine democracy—a provision which decision-makers in Washington, with their myriad connections to the banking and corporate worlds, could hardly tolerate. The constitution would require that at minimum half the members of the People’s Assembly be drawn from the ranks of peasants and workers.

If Assad was a neo-liberal, he certainly was one of the world’s oddest devotees of the ideology.

Drought?

A final point on the origins of the violent uprising in 2011: Some social scientists and analysts have drawn on a study published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences to suggest that “drought played a role in the Syrian unrest.” According to this view, drought “caused crop failures that led to the migration of as many as 1.5 million people from rural to urban areas.” This, in combination with an influx of refugees from Iraq, intensified competition for scarce jobs in urban areas, making Syria a cauldron of social and economic tension ready to boil over. [64] The argument sounds reasonable, even “scientific,” but the phenomenon it seeks to explain—mass upheaval in Syria—never happened. As we’ve seen, a review of Western press coverage found no reference to mass upheaval. On the contrary, reporters who expected to find a mass upheaval were surprised that they didn’t find one. Instead, Western journalists found Syria to be surprisingly quiet. Demonstrations called by organizers of the Syrian Revolution 2011 Facebook page fizzled. Critics conceded that Assad was popular. Reporters could find no one who believed a revolt was imminent. Even a month after the Daraa incident—which involved only hundreds of protesters, dwarfed by the tens of thousands of Syrians who demonstrated in Damascus in support of the government—the New York Times reporter on the ground, Anthony Shadid, could find no sign in Syria of the mass upheavals of Tunisia and Egypt. In early February 2011, “Omar Nashabe, a long-time Syria watcher and correspondent for the Beirut-based Arabic daily Al-Ahkbar” told Time that “Syrians may be afflicted by poverty that stalks 14% of its population combined with an estimated 20% unemployment rate, but Assad still has his credibility.” [65]

That the government commanded popular support was affirmed when the British survey firm YouGov published a poll in late 2011 showing that 55 percent of Syrians wanted Assad to stay. The poll received almost no mention in the Western media, prompting the British journalist Jonathan Steele to ask: “Suppose a respectable opinion poll found that most Syrians are in favor of Bashar al-Assad remaining as president, would that not be major news?” Steele described the poll findings as “inconvenient facts” which were” suppressed “because Western media coverage of the events in Syria had ceased “to be fair” and had turned into “a propaganda weapon.”[66]

Sloganeering in Lieu of Politics and Analysis

Draitser can be faulted, not only for propagating an argument made by assertion, based on no evidence, but for substituting slogans for politics and analysis. In his October 20 Counterpunch article, Syria and the Left: Time to Break the Silence, he argues that the defining goals of Leftism ought to be the pursuit of peace and justice, as if these are two inseparable qualities, which are never in opposition. That peace and justice may, at times, be antithetical, is illustrated in the following conversation between Australian journalist Richard Carleton and Ghassan Kanafani, a Palestinian writer, novelist and revolutionary. [67]

C: ‘Why won’t your organization engage in peace talks with the Israelis?’

K: ‘You don’t mean exactly “peace talks”. You mean capitulation. Surrendering.

C: ‘Why not just talk?’

K: ‘Talk to whom?’

C: ‘Talk to the Israeli leaders.’

K: ‘That is kind of a conversation between the sword and the neck, you mean?’

C: ‘Well, if there are no swords and no guns in the room, you could still talk.’

K: ‘No. I have never seen any talk between a colonialist and a national liberation movement.’

C: ‘But despite this, why not talk?’

K: ‘Talk about what?’

C: ‘Talk about the possibility of not fighting.’

K: ‘Not fighting for what?’

C: ‘No fighting at all. No matter what for.’

K: ‘People usually fight for something. And they stop fighting for something. So you can’t even tell me why we should speak about what. Why should we talk about stopping to fight?’

C: ‘Talk to stop fighting to stop the death and the misery, the destruction and the pain.’

K: ‘The misery and the destruction the pain and the death of whom?’

C: ‘Of Palestinians. Of Israelis. Of Arabs.’

K: ‘Of the Palestinian people who are uprooted, thrown in the camps, living in starvation, killed for twenty years and forbidden to use even the name “Palestinians”?’

C: ‘They are better that way than dead though.’

K: ‘Maybe to you. But to us, it’s not. To us, to liberate our country, to have dignity, to have respect, to have our mere human rights is something as essential as life itself.

To which values the US Left should devote itself when peace and justice are in conflict, Draitser doesn’t say. His invocation of the slogan “peace and justice” as the desired defining mission of the US Left seems to be nothing more than an invitation for Leftists to abandon politics in favor of embarking on a mission of becoming beautiful souls, above the sordid conflicts which plague humanity—never taking a side, except that of the angels. His assertion that “no state or group has the best interests of Syrians at heart” is almost too silly to warrant comment. How would he know? One can’t help but get the impression that he believes that he, and the US Left, alone among the groups and states of the world, know what’s best for the “Syrian people.” Which may be why he opines that the responsibility of the US Left, “is to the people of Syria,” as if the people of Syria are an undifferentiated mass with uniform interests and agendas. Syrians en masse include both secularists and political Islamists, who have irreconcilable views of how the state ought to be organized, who have been locked in a death feud for more than half a century—one helped along, on the Islamist side, by his own government. Syrians en masse include those who favor integration into the US Empire, and those who are against it; those who collaborate with US imperialists and those who refuse to. In this perspective, what does it mean, to say the US Left has a responsibility to the people of Syria? Which people of Syria?

I would have thought that the responsibility of the US Left is to working people of the United States, not the people of Syria. And I would have imagined, as well, that the US Left would regard its responsibilities to include disseminating a rigorous, evidence-based political analysis of how the US economic elite uses the apparatus of the US state to advance its interests at the expense of both domestic and foreign populations. How does Washington’s long war on Syria affect the working people of America? That’s what Draitser ought to be talking about.

My book Washington’s Long War on Syria is forthcoming April 2017.

NOTES

1 Aryn Baker, “Syria is not Egypt, but might it one day be Tunisia?,” Time, February 4, 2011

2 Rania Abouzeid, “The Syrian style of repression: Thugs and lectures,” Time, February 27, 2011

3 Rania Abouzeid, “Sitting pretty in Syria: Why few go backing Bashar,” Time, March 6, 2011

4 Rania Abouzeid, “The youth of Syria: the rebels are on pause,” Time, March 6, 2011.

5 Rania Abouzeid, “The youth of Syria: the rebels are on pause,” Time, March 6, 2011

6 “Officers fire on crowd as Syrian protests grow,” The New York Times, March 20, 2011

7 Nicholas Blanford, “Can the Syrian regime divide and conquer its opposition?,” Time, April 9, 2011

8 Robert Fisk, “Welcome to Dera’a, Syria’s graveyard of terrorists,” The Independent, July 6. 2016

9 President Assad to ARD TV: Terrorists breached cessation of hostilities agreement from the very first hour, Syrian Army refrained from retaliating,” SANA, March 1, 2016

10 Ibid

11 “Officers fire on crowd as Syrian protests grow,” The New York Times, March 20, 2011

12 Rania Abouzeid, “Arab Spring: Is a revolution starting up in Syria?” Time, March 20, 2011; Rania Abouzeid, “Syria’s revolt: How graffiti stirred an uprising,” Time, March 22, 2011

13 “Officers fire on crowd as Syrian protests grow,” The New York Times, March 20, 2011

14 Rania Abouzeid, “Arab Spring: Is a revolution starting up in Syria?,” Time, March 20, 2011

15 “Thousands march to protest Syria killings”, The New York Times, March 24, 2011

16 Rania Abouzeid, “Assad and reform: Damned if he does, doomed if he doesn’t,” Time, April 22, 2011

17 “Officers fire on crowd as Syrian protests grow,” The New York Times, March 20, 2011

18 Aryn Baker, “Syria is not Egypt, but might it one day be Tunisia?,” Time, February 4, 2011

19 Nicholas Blanford, “Can the Syrian regime divide and conquer its opposition?” Time, April 9, 2011.

20 Alfred B. Prados and Jeremy M. Sharp, “Syria: Political Conditions and Relations with the United States After the Iraq War,” Congressional Research Service, February 28, 2005

21 Rania Abouzeid, “Syria’s Friday of dignity becomes a day of death,” Time, March 25, 2011

22 Rania Abouzeid, “Syria’s Friday of dignity becomes a day of death,” Time, March 25, 2011

23 “Syrie: un autre eclarage du conflict qui dure depuis 5 ans, BeCuriousTV , » May 23, 2016, http://www.globalresearch.ca/syria-aleppo-doctor-demolishes-imperialist-propaganda-and-media-warmongering/5531157

24 Nicholas Blanford, “Can the Syrian regime divide and conquer its opposition?” Time, April 9, 2011

25 Jay Solomon, “To check Syria, U.S. explores bond with Muslim Brothers,” The Wall Street Journal, July 25, 2007

26 Ibid

27 Liad Porat, “The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood and the Asad Regime,” Crown Center for Middle East Studies, Brandeis University, December 2010, No. 47

28 Ibid

29 http://www.judicialwatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Pg.-291-Pgs.-287-293-JW-v-DOD-and-State-14-812-DOD-Release-2015-04-10-final-version11.pdf

30 Alfred B. Prados and Jeremy M. Sharp, “Syria: Political Conditions and Relations with the United States After the Iraq War,” Congressional Research Service, February 28, 2005.

31 Anthony Shadid, “Security forces kill dozens in uprisings around Syria”, The New York Times, April 22, 2011

32 Rania Abouzeid, “Syria’s Friday of dignity becomes a day of death,” Time, March 25, 2011

33 Fabrice Balanche, “The Alawi Community and the Syria Crisis Middle East Institute, May 14, 2015

34 Anthony Shadid, “Syria broadens deadly crackdown on protesters”, The New York Times, May 8, 2011

35 Rania Abouzeid, “Meet the Islamist militants fighting alongside Syria’s rebels,” Time, July 26, 2012

36 Rania Abouzeid, “Interview with official of Jabhat al-Nusra, Syria’s Islamist militia group,” Time, Dec 25, 2015

37 Robert Fisk, “Syrian civil war: West failed to factor in Bashar al-Assad’s Iranian backers as the conflict developed,” The Independent, March 13, 2016

38 Anthony Shadid, “Syria broadens deadly crackdown on protesters”, The New York Times, May 8, 2011

39 Nada Bakri, “Syria allows Red Cross officials to visit prison”, The New York Times, September 5, 2011

40 Nada Bakri, “Syrian opposition calls for protection from crackdown”, The New York Times, October 25, 2011

41 President al-Assad to Portuguese State TV: International system failed to accomplish its duty… Western officials have no desire to combat terrorism, SANA, March 5, 2015

42 Patrick Seale, “Syria’s long war,” Middle East Online, September 26, 2012

43 Ibid

44 Rania Abouzeid, “Sitting pretty in Syria: Why few go backing Bashar,” Time, March 6, 2011

45 Rania Abouzeid, “The youth of Syria: the rebels are on pause,” Time, March 6, 2011

46 “Can the Syrian regime divide and conquer its opposition?” Time, April 9, 2011

47 Anthony Shadid, “Security forces kill dozens in uprisings around Syria”, The New York Times, April 22, 2011

48 Ben Fenton, “Macmillan backed Syria assassination plot,” The Guardian, September 27, 2003

49 Robert Fisk, “Conspiracy of silence in the Arab world,” The Independent, February 9, 2007

50 Robert Dreyfus, Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Fundamentalist Islam, Holt, 2005, p. 205

51 William R. Polk, “Understanding Syria: From pre-civil war to post-Assad,” The Atlantic, December 10, 2013

52 Dreyfus

53 Dreyfus

54 William R. Polk, “Understanding Syria: From pre-civil war to post-Assad,” The Atlantic, December 10, 2013

55 Quoted in Nikolas Van Dam, The Struggle for Power in Syria: Politics and Society under Asad and the Ba’ath Party, I.B. Taurus, 2011

56 Patrick Cockburn, “Confused about the US response to Isis in Syria? Look to the CIA’s relationship with Saudi Arabia,” The Independent, June 17, 2016

57 National Security Strategy, February 2015

58 Ibid

59 Robert Baer, Sleeping with the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude, Three Rivers Press, 2003, p. 123

60 US State Department website. http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/3580.htm#econ. Accessed February 8, 2012

61 The National Security Strategy of the United States of America, September 2002

62 National Security Strategy, February 2015

63 The National Security Strategy of the United States of America, March 2006

64 Henry Fountain, “Researchers link Syrian conflict to drought made worse by climate change,” The New York Times, March 2, 2015

65 Aryn Baker, “Syria is not Egypt, but might it one day be Tunisia?,” Time, February 4, 2011

66 Jonathan Steele, “Most Syrians back President Assad, but you’d never know from western media,” The Guardian, January 17, 2012

67 “Full transcript: Classic video interview with Comrade Ghassan Kanafani re-surfaces,” PFLP, October 17, 2016, http://pflp.ps/english/2016/10/17/full-transcript-classic-video-interview-with-comrade-ghassan-kanafani-re-surfaces/

 

[Stephen Gowans is a Canadian writer and political activist based in Ottawa, Canada.]

 

FLASHBACK: George Clooney Paid by War Profiteers

Counterpunch

July 24, 2015

by David Swanson

 

obama-clooney

May 19, 2012: “Political pals: Clooney and President Obama have met on a number of occasions, like this Darfur event in April”

George Clooney is being paid by the world’s top two war profiteers, Lockheed-Martin and Boeing, to oppose war profiteering by Africans disloyal to the U.S. government’s agenda.

Way back yonder before World War II, war profiteering was widely frowned on in the United States. Those of us trying to bring back that attitude, and working for barely-funded peace organizations, ought to be thrilled when a wealthy celebrity like George Clooney decides to take on war profiteering, and the corporate media laps it up.

“Real leverage for peace and human rights will come when the people who benefit from war will pay a price for the damage they cause,” said Clooney — without encountering anything like the blowback Donald Trump received when he criticized John McCain.

Really, is that all it takes to give peace a chance, a celebrity? Will the media now cover the matter of who funds opponents of the Iran deal, and who funds supporters of the wars in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, etc.?

Well, no, not really.

It turns out Clooney opposes, not war profiteering in general, but war profiteering while African. In fact, Clooney’s concern is limited, at least thus far, to five African nations: Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, though these are not the only nations in Africa or the world with serious wars underway.

Of the top 100 weapons makers in the world, not a single one is based in Africa. Only 1 is in South or Central America. Fifteen are in Western allies and protectorates in Asia (and China is not included in the list). Three are in Israel, one in Ukraine, and 13 in Russia. Sixty-six are in the United States, Western Europe, and Canada. Forty are in the U.S. alone. Seventeen of the top 30 are in the U.S. Six of the top 10 mega-profiteers are in the U.S. The other four in the top 10 are in Western Europe.

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Hillary Clinton, Rob and Alisa Bair, Amal and George Clooney. Photo credit: Adam Schultz. | Clooney called Clinton the ‘one consistent voice’ in the 2016 election. He hosted a lavish fundraiser (that took in 15 million) for Clinton that Bernie Sanders observed as “obscene”.

Clooney’s new organization, “The Sentry,” is part of The Enough Project, which is part of the Center for American Progress, which is a leading backer of “humanitarian” wars, and various other wars for that matter — and which is funded by the world’s top war profiteer, Lockheed Martin, and by number-two Boeing, among other war profiteers.

According to the Congressional Research Service, in the most recent edition of an annual report that it has now discontinued, 79% of all weapons transfers to poor nations are from the United States. That doesn’t include U.S. weapons in the hands of the U.S. military, which has now moved into nearly every nation in Africa. When drugs flow north the United States focuses on the supply end of the exchange as an excuse for wars. When weapons flow south, George Clooney announces that we’ll stop backward violence at the demand side by exposing African corruption.

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“United States actor George Clooney (R) embraces former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright at a Leaders Summit for Refugees during the United Nations 71st session of the General Debate at the United Nations General Assembly at United Nations headquarters in New York, New York, USA, 20 September 2016.”

The spreading of the U.S. empire through militarism is most often justified by the example of Rwanda as a place where the opportunity for a humanitarian war, to prevent the Rwanda Genocide, was supposedly missed. But the United States backed an invasion of Rwanda in 1990 by a Ugandan army led by U.S.-trained killers, and supported their attacks for three-and-a-half years, applying more pressure through the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), and USAID. U.S.-backed and U.S.-trained war-maker Paul Kagame — now president of Rwanda — is the leading suspect behind the shooting down of a plane carrying the then-presidents of Rwanda and Burundi on April 6, 1994. As chaos followed, the U.N. might have sent in peacekeepers (not the same thing, be it noted, as dropping bombs) but Washington was opposed. President Bill Clinton wanted Kagame in power, and Kagame has now taken the war into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), with U.S. aid and weapons, where 6 million have been killed. And yet nobody ever says “We must prevent another Congo!”

What does George Clooney’s new organization say about the DRC? A very different story from that told by Friends of the Congo. According to Clooney’s group the killing in the Congo happens “despite years of international attention,” not because of it. Clooney’s organization also promotes this argument for more U.S. warmaking in the DRC from Kathryn Bigelow, best known for producing the CIA propaganda film Zero Dark Thirty.

On Sudan as well, there’s no blame for U.S. interference; instead Clooney’s crew has produced a brief for regime change.

On South Sudan, there’s no acknowledgement of U.S. warmongering in Ethiopia and Kenya, but a plea for more U.S. involvement.

The Central African Republic gets the same diagnosis as the others: local ahistorical spontaneous corruption and backwardness leading to war.

Clooney’s co-founder of the Sentry (dictionary definition of “Sentry” is “A guard, especially a soldier posted at a given spot to prevent the passage of unauthorized persons”) is John Prendergast, former Africa director for the National Security Council. Watch Prendergast find himself awkwardly in a debate with an informed person here.

Clooney’s wife, incidentally, works for U.S.-friendly dictators and brutal killers in places like Bahrain and Libya.

More nations could soon be spotted by The Sentry. The President of Nigeria was at the U.S. Institute of “Peace” this week pleading for weapons. U.S. troops are in Cameroon this week training fighters.

If the peace organization I work for had 0.0001% the financial support of The Sentry, perhaps the debate would change. So, one thing you can do is support the right antiwar efforts.

Another is to let The Sentry know what it’s missing. It asks for anonymous tips when you spot war profiteering. Have you ever turned on C-Span? If you see something, say something. Let The Sentry know about the Pentagon.

 

 

 

Further Reading:

Enough of CIA’s ‘Enough Project’ in Africa! [Avaaz, International Crisis Group, Center for American Progress]

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

SOTT.Net

January 4, 2017

by Paul Mansfield

 

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Lina Shamy Twitter page.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Terrorist supporter and darling of Western media, Bilal Abdul Kareem

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

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

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

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Bana Alabed. (Photo: Twitter

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

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

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

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

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

Very sophisticated for a 7-year-old girl.

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

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

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

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Abdulkafi Alhamdo together with fellow Twitter star Bana Alabed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Image by Cory Morningstar of Wrong Kind of Green

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Morning Star

January 7, 2017

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Anna News

January 6, 2017

 

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

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

VIDEO CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES, VIOLENCE AND POSSIBLE WAR CRIMES.

 

Further reading:

WHO ARE SYRIA’S WHITE HELMETS?

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

Standing Rock: Profusion, Collusion & Big Money Profits [Part 2]

Wrong Kind of Green

December 6, 2016

by Cory Morningstar with Forrest Palmer

Part two.

 

“In crushing detail and shining a floodlight on the history of the co-optation of Indigenous struggles since the pivotal year of 2010, Cory Morningstar has put together this series to give deep context to the events at and around Standing Rock. Most vitally, this series contrasts the tiny amounts of money spent at the grassroots against the vast sums spent at the ‘business’ end of the non-profit industrial complex where personal data helps behavior-change B-corporation executives exercise the will of corporate philanthropists, corporations, and imperialist governments.

In this “age of peak spectacle” Morningstar and Forrest Palmer present the invisiblization of crude-via-rail and the manipulations of Warren Buffett and his BNSF empire while showing that not all water is treated as precious, not all pipelines get scrutiny, and not all Indigenous land needs to be treated as sacred if it doesn’t serve the interests of the non-profit industrial complex and those brands that maximize profits through Dave Matthews concerts. You will find stunning passages of clarity in each of part of this series which includes indispensable details of political context and networked hegemony for any true fireball activist.” — Activist Michael Swifte

 

Religion Meets Extinction (“Last Chance”) Tourism 

Last Chance Green Road Sign Over Clouds and Sky.

Last Chance Green Road Sign Over Clouds and Sky

 

October 24, 2016, from the article Planning to Travel to Standing Rock? Now Is The Time published on the Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale:

 “‘The entire training experience was so insightful, not just as I looked into myself, but also tried to understand things from the eyes of the oppressor,’ Lopez said… Thanks to this training, I realized that when engaging in non-violent direct action, I can go straight to prayer. This reminded me of who I am, and what I am here for. I remembered that prayer, peace, and love can take us farther than anything.”

November 25, 2016 from the article People are treating the DAPL protest like Burning Man, Standing Rock has reportedly been overrun with white demonstrators trying to soak up the ‘cultural experience’:

“The concerns have been raised by protestors in a series of tweets and Facebook posts. According to them, people have turned up to the Standing Rock demonstration to soak up the ‘cultural experience’, and are treating the camp like it is ‘Burning Man’ festival or ‘The Rainbow Gathering’….  ‘I even witnessed several wandering in and out of camps comparing it to festivals. Waiting with big smiles expectantly for us to give them a necklace or an ‘indian’ name while our camp leader was speaking… The situation has reportedly got so bad that an open letter detailing the camp’s ground rules has started trending on Twitter. Responding to the new influx of support, it reminds demonstrators that the camp is ‘not a vacation.'”

The Saviours: 350.org

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350.org website

“The international environmental movement soon took notice, including, 350.org, an environmentalist group that helped defeat the Keystone XL pipeline. In July, the group sent a delegation to the Sacred Stone Camp to see how they could help. In many ways, the Dakota Access pipeline drew its inspiration from the fight to stop the Keystone XL pipeline, according to organizers from 350 and other environmental groups. ‘We didn’t have to totally reinvent the wheel,’ said Josh Nelson of Credo, a progressive advocacy group.” — From prairie to the White House: Inside a Tribe’s quest to stop a pipeline, September 26, 2016

On cue, standing in the shadows until the campaign becomes so colossal it is somewhat safe from accusations of co-optation, 350 corrals Standing Rock supporters to bring the various individuals and groups back into the fold of the NPIC.  Sign the petition: Tell President Obama to stop the Dakota Access pipeline – sign the petition now. (At the time of this writing their live petition progress was: 105,336 signatures.)  Few (if any) stop and question who exactly benefits from personal information divulged to NGOs for their many campaigns. This information is shared with “allies” such as Unilever, Ceres, The B Team, Avaaz, Purpose, etc. etc.:

“We may share your name and/or email address with trusted organizations that share our mission to solve the climate crisis. These organizations include the 350.org Action Fund (350.org’s affiliate organization) and partner organizations that may be organizing climate action events in your area. We will not share your information with any individual or organization who is not engaged in furthering the success of 350.org… In an ongoing effort to accomplish our mission and understand Web Site visitors better, 350.org may conduct research on its visitor’s demographics and interests based on the Personal Information and other information provided to us. This research may be compiled and analyzed on an aggregate basis, and 350.org may share this aggregate information with its affiliates and allies. 350.org may also disclose aggregated visitor statistics in order to describe the size, scope, and demographics of its network.”

To be clear, 350.org and its partner NGOs are STRONG ALLIES of corporations that have redefined their goals to fall under the faux banner of “sustainable capitalism” and behavioural change agents such as Avaaz and Purpose. This data is of tremendous value to those whose expertise is behavioural change – the modification of whole societies to conform to the wishes and desires of the elite classes.

“We’ve been talking in a broader way about the future of consumer activism, of organizing people not as citizens but as consumers.” — Jeremy Heimans, Avaaz/Purpose, 2011

The Continued DeKlein of the Postmodern Imperial-Liberal Left

Lending credence to George Orwell’s “doublespeak”: “first they steal the words, then they steal the meaning” doublespeak today functions in tandem with ever evolving holistic linguistics crafted by 21st century Euro-American anthropocentrists amidst a thriving networked hegemony. The word “radical”, Latin meaning radix “root”, going to the origin, has been turned on its head. Radical has been made into a word equated with terrorists. Radical has been employed by McKibben to describe Exxon CEOs and their ilk.

Marketed and branded opposition to capitalism by 350’s Naomi Klein et al is not opposition to dismantle capitalism in its entirety as is required (a concept unapologetically outlined by the unwavering Stephanie MacMillan), rather, the “opposition” is limited to specific forms of capitalism identified and categorized by our 21st century thought-leaders. “Crony capitalism” , “corporate capitalism” and “the excesses of capitalism” (terms used by Avi Lewis for Klein’s NGO campaign, “The Leap Manifesto”) comprise the framework for capitalism as a whole in an attempt to make it wholly acceptable. Simultaneously, the national and global “clean energy” campaigns thrust into the public domain by these same institutions and individuals who claim to oppose “corporate capitalism” in reality guarantee the expansion of capitalism. Critical discussion on imperialism has been wholly replaced with “extractivism”. Anti-capitalist expression has become hollowed rhetoric made vogue for social media metrics dispersed by those of privilege by elite foundations via their pet NGOs.

“… the higher up the media chain where Naomi Klein speaks, the farther she detaches herself from any critique of capitalism as being the root cause of the global warming emergency. In fact, notwithstanding the subtitle — “Capitalism Vs. The Climate” — of her 2014 best-selling book, there is very little hard, anti-capitalist critique in her writings and speeches. That is also true of the many uncritical published reviews of the book and of the [Leap]manifesto itself. — Taking forward the political vision that inspires the Leap Manifesto, October 14, 2016

In similar fashion, Avi Lewis (Klein’s husband and son of pro-interventionist Stephen Lewis), submits that “the heart of the problem with capitalism is the variant he calls ‘extractivism’. Lewis considers ‘extractivism’ to be a distinct phase and element of the capitalist system, explaining that capitalism and extractivism emerged in parallel at the outset of the industrial revolution. He calls the surge of human economic pillaging emanating from Europe in the early stages of mercantile expansion ‘extractivism’ and ‘colonialism'” and explains that “these were then “turbocharged” by “industrialism.” [Source]

Black revolutionary Omali Yeshitela succinctly explains how capitalism is in fact imperialism developed to its highest stage. Yeshitela explains capitalism as a product of imperialism – not vice-versa. Both Lewis and Klein avoid making any connection between imperialism and capitalism. Consider the word imperialism receives one mention in Klein’s 505 page book about climate change and capitalism.[1]  This must be considered a creative re-framing of history by our “thought leaders” thus it is worth asking why such a glaring omission exists while the term “extractivism” is concurrently pounded into our psyche. The reality is simple. The global “clean” energy structure Klein campaigns for (at the bequest of her many funders) is dependent upon and impossible without both the expansion and acceleration of imperialism. This is indisputable. Those very Indigenous Nations Klein, et al, profess to support – are the very Indigenous nations that will be impacted in the future. The very same Indigenous nations being impacted now. Like the gross undermining of Indigenous nations at COP15 in Copenhagen. Like the gross undermining and marginalization of the Indigenous led 2010 Peoples Agreement drafted in Bolivia at the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth that ultimately was deliberately made invisible by NGOs who comprise the NPIC. These were ultimately replaced with Manifestos espousing western, white and empirical values such as Klein’s Leap.

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In the documentary video produced by Avi Lewis for Al Jazeera English (uploaded  May 20, 2010) Lewis devotes significant film footage to the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth (35,000 participants from 142 countries) hosted by Bolivia. More than two thirds of the Bolivian population has Indigenous origin giving Bolivia the largest proportion of indigenous people in Latin America. The film contains great footage of commentary by both the late revolutionary Hugo Chavez and Indigenous President Evo Morales. In this footage Lewis focuses  on extraction while ignoring the global economic capitalist system and the 1% it serves who create 50% of the global greenhouse gas emissions. He notes that 80% of Bolivia’s extraction is exports that drive the extraction. Lewis observes “it’s no surprise that in climate negotiations Bolivia is emerging as a leader among developing countries advancing radical proposals and analysis that’s making rich countries distinctly nervous.”

“In Bolivia we like to dream. And we like to dream so much that we have the first Indigenous president. We love to dream. We love to dream so we have fifty percent of women that are ministers now. We love to dream so much that we have a new constitution now that has more rights than even the United Nations. So is it worth dreaming? It is absolutely worth dreaming.” — Angelica Navarro, Bolivian Climate Negotiator, 2010

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Bolivia’s progressive positions also made rich elites distinctly nervous. By the following year (2011), Klein had joined the board of Rockefeller’s 350.org. Providing critical discourse by way of the single most radical declaration to ever be recognized by the United Nations (thanks only to the efforts of the Bolivian state), a divestment campaign designed by both McKibben, Klein, as well as 350.org and it’s “friends on Wall Street”, would soon be global in scale in partnering with such entities as the United Nations and The Guardian. By 2015, with the Indigenous led “People’s Agreement” (which Klein and Lewis both participated/attended) now completely and utterly buried by the NPIC, Klein would introduce her own “Leap Manifesto” to the world.[2] Omali Yeshitela  sums up Klein, et al’s actions best: “Today’s white left is also locked into a worldview that places the location of Europeans in the world as the center of the universe. It always has.”  Meaning that no matter how progressive and radical the thought processes, concepts, ideologies, and proposals that Indigenous Nations or non-Anglos propose – we whites can do it better. We are smarter. We are superior.

“The climate summit that just wrapped up in Cochabamba was the polar opposite of Copenhagen, not only because it occurred literally on the other side of the world. Instead of being led by the most powerful people of the world, it was led by those at the margins: the poor countries, indigenous peoples, and social movements.” – The Cochabamba AccordAn Alternative to Copenhagen’s Failure, June 28, 2010

It is vital to watch the following video “World People’s Conference on Climate Change Part 2”  which highlights praise for the Indigenous led People’s Agreement, by climate change “leaders” from Nnimo Bassey (Friends of the Earth), Klein, and Maude Barlow (Council of Canadians)  all who possess a far reach and all of whom allowed the agreement to be buried. Here it must be noted that a mere five years later, many of these same “leaders” would flock to endorse, highlight and campaign on Klein’s Leap manifesto (including Maude Barlow).

At the end of the above video Morales is filmed speaking to the people: “Now our job is to convince, persuade and explain. And if they do not listen to us, we will have to organize and gain power through our social movements around the world, to focus the developed countries to respect the conclusions made by the worlds social movements. Homeland or death! Long live the first worlds social movement gathering for the rights of Mother Earth!”

“When Morales invited “social movements and Mother Earth’s defenders…scientists, academics, lawyers and governments” to come to Cochabamba for a new kind of climate summit, it was a revolt against this experience of helplessness, an attempt to build a base of power behind the right to survive.” – Naomi Klein, April 22, 2010

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But the First World’s social movement gathering for the rights of Mother Earth would not live. Bolivia’s “attempt to build a base of power behind the right to survive” would be dismantled via deliberate marginalization. Akin to Jeremy’s Hemans, co-founder of Avaaz/Purpose who concluded “progressive” capitalists would have to  “kill green” in order to save it – this radical blueprint for a global transformation of economics and superior ideologies, would also have to be killed in order to save capitalism. This would be accomplished using empire’s most potent weapon: the NGOs that comprise the NPIC. Adding salt to the wounds, tiny land-locked Bolivia, one the poorest nations in Latin America (in a monetary sense only), paid for the flights of many privileged North American NGO “activists” to attend.

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Participants sit in bleachers at the packed World People’s Summit on Climate Change and Mother Earth’s Rights, Photo by The City Project

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Naomi Klein (right) with Council of Canadians’ Maude Barlow at the Leap Manifesto launch.

Between 2010 and 2015, Bolivia, under the Morales government, went from an emerging global climate leader (2009-2010) to being cast as a demonized as “extractivist” state. Throngs of articles regarding “extractivisim” (written by the 1% creating 50% of the global greenhouse gas emissions being anyone who can afford to get on a plane) would paint Morales as a hypocrite. Bolivia as a model for climate change was thrown in the trash bin. Mission accomplished. [Further reading on how anti-imperial governments of vulnerable states must work within the confines of existing structures/systems inherited from capitalists or western puppets: FUNDACIÓN PACHAMAMA IS DEAD – LONG LIVE ALBA | PART III]

Land-locked Bolivia stands on the front lines with Indigenous Nations as those that feel the deepest impacts of climate change and ecological collapse as the world turns a blind eye. Bolivia’s Chacaltaya glacier (home to the highest ski lift in the world at 5,421m)retreated and disappeared in 2009, six years earlier than predicted by scientists. In 2009, the World Bank warned of the disappearance of many glaciers in the tropical Andes within the next 20 years. These glaciers provide fresh water for nearly 80 million people in the region. Lake Poopó, once Bolivia’s second-largest lake, was officially declared evaporated in December 2015. With it, biologists report the disappearance of 75 species of birds and the displacement of hundreds of locals. [Source] This month, Bolivia has issued a state of emergency due to drought. Like vultures, imperial forces have seized this opportunity in an attempt to create civil panic and strife (for possible and continually sought destabilization).

In summary, Indigenous president Evo Morales would be demonized for extractivism by the very people attending the climate conferences, individuals possessing first world privilege, and those entitities that drove (and continue to drive) extractivism.  Bolivia would present alternate proposals to REDD/UN-REDD (The United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries) and lead the fight by Indigenous nations worldwide, while simultaneously, the NGOs and the NPIC establishment ensured it would not succeed.

NGOs are accomplices of the elite power structures. The postmodern NPIC today serves as the key instrument for the furthering of both colonization and imperialism in the 21st century.  The non-profit industrial complex cannot be reformed – it must be abolished.

Further dystopian framing is in full display – to an audience blinded by rose-tinted glasses. Guerrilla rebel/freedom fighter revolutionary Jose Mujica must be considered perhaps the single best example of selflessness and environmental stewardship (in exchange for the pursuit of knowledge) for aspiration by all global citizens. Yet, empire has instead manufactured actor Leo Dicaprio – one of the planets most self-indulgent egoists to ever walk the earth – to serve as the hero for climate change and environment (and incidentally divestment). In an age of peak spectacle combined with savoir-faire social engineering – the masses applaud.

In Klein’s April 22, 2010 article “A New Climate Movement in Bolivia” (written while participating in the conference) she writes: “In Copenhagen, leaders of endangered nations like Bolivia and Tuvalu argued passionately for the kind of deep emissions cuts that could avert catastrophe. They were politely told that the political will in the North just wasn’t there. More than that, the United States made clear that it didn’t need small countries like Bolivia to be part of a climate solution. Yet Bolivia’s enthusiastic commitment to participatory democracy may well prove the summit’s most important contribution.”

Yet the following year, in 2011, Klein would join the board of 350.org. This was a major reversal on her part since 350.org is one of the key NGOs that undermined Bolivia’s and the G77’s proposed deep emissions and radical targets. This was accomplished via the Global Call for Climate Action (GCCA ) umbrella it founded (with 19 other NGOs – most famous for the TckTckTck campaign) that dominated both the Copenhagen climate conference and the collective Euro-American psyche. To further illustrate Klein’s support of empire even outside the realm of environmentalism, additional irony arises by her support of Canadian MP Nathan Cullen, who voted in support of NATO’s intervention in the sovereign nation of Libya also in 2011. This regime-change invasion would destroy a prosperous Libya – a country were the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya upheld a national direct democracy movement. This slaughter resulted in over 500,000 dead, 30,000 in terrorist-run prisons, 2.5 million exiled, tens of thousands of refugees and horrific ethnic cleansing and lynching of black Libyans and migrant workers.

“But you won’t find Naomi Klein writing the Libyan chapter of the ‘shock doctrine’ (Gulf News, 26/10/2011)–Naomi Klein was too busy throwing her support behind a Canadian politician, Nathan Cullen, who voted in support of NATO’s intervention in Libya, with little regret.” – Author Maximilian Forte, February 19, 2013,  Counterpunch

Further, when 4 simple questions were put forward to Klein (via twitter) challenging her silence on 350.org partner Avaaz campaigning for No Fly Zones on Libya (followed by Syria), and 350.org’s undermining of Indigenous Nations in both Copenhagen and Bolivia, Klein’s only response was to immediately block.

This clearly demonstrates a terrifying observation that has became more and more apparent over the past few years following the Bolivian conference held in the tiny town of Cochabamba. No has acknowledged it, let alone discussed it. The observation is clear: the NPIC has full control of the “grass roots movements’. When those who comprise the NPIC (including designated/appointed thought leaders deemed acceptable by the establishment) stopped momentum for the Indigenous led People’s Agreement – it all stopped. The whole world went silent.

Indeed while the NPIC continues to shove the illusion of a third industrial revolution that intends to be global in scale, into the collective consciousness, Indigenous Nations around the world are already fighting industrial solar and wind projects, land acquisition disputes and a host of other clashes (mining conflicts, eco-tourism, REDD, etc. etc.) that come with the “new economy”. Yet, the NGOs continue, un-phased, unabated. They do not bat a proverbial eyelash. Here and there, multi-million dollar certification schemes are introduced to ensure business as usual – the worst of humanity, the unfathomable, made a little more friendly/bearable with a green rubber stamp to mollify guilt. With the postmodern imperial liberal left, solidarity is not a given. Solidarity is extended only when and if it is of benefit to the NGOs (branding) or their benefactors (strategy). NGOs are not allies. NGOs are tentacles of power under the guise of friendship. NGOs are friendly fire.

Stephen Lewis (father of Avi Lewis) has suggested that the Canadian New Democrat Party (NDP) could gain support (votes) by using The Leap Manifesto as a means of embedding itself and utilizing momentum created by popular movements (which time and again have become quickly co-opted): “And when you consider the social movements in this country … Idle No More, Occupy, Black Lives Matter … there is a ground swell with which we can amalgamate to make our presence dramatically felt in the next campaign.” [Source]

Perhaps the best example of “Indigenous solidarity” demonstrated by NGOs is a very recent Canadian “victory” on a tar sands deal spearheaded by Leap author and initial signatory, Tzeporah Berman. Due to her machinations and scheming, the Alberta tar sands industry will be allowed to further emit up to 100 megatonnes (from the current 70 megatonnes) of GHG emissions under the guise of victory. Berman, who works hand in hand with We Mean Business (350.org divestment partner Ceres, The B Team, Carbon Tracker, etc.), Suncor and other corporate entities will continue to enjoy luxurious lifestyles (on stolen native land) while the Indigenous nations downstream will continue to suffer the worst impacts.

 

Any vestiges of a legitimate movement belonging wholly to citizens – completely outside and independent in all forms from the NPIC, are gone. There is absolutely no hope for legitimate revolution rising from the liberal class. This class is now wholly indoctrinated.

The only hope that remains lies with the working class and Indigenous nations. Thus, it should be of no surprise that we now witness a new level of co-optation, in essence a national pacification experiment, being carried out via the Standing Rock campaign in North Dakota.

 

End Notes:

[1] “Extractivism is also directly connected to the notion of sacrifice zones—places that, to their extractors, somehow don’t count and therefore can be poisoned, drained, or otherwise destroyed, for the supposed greater good of economic progress. This toxic idea has always been intimately tied to imperialism, with disposable peripheries being harnessed to feed a glittering center, and it is bound up too with notions of racial superiority, because in order to have sacrifice zones, you need to have people and cultures who count so little that they are considered deserving of sacrifice. Extractivism ran rampant under colonialism because relating to the world as a frontier of conquest—rather than as home—fosters this

particular brand of irresponsibility. The colonial mind nurtures the belief that there is always somewhere else to go to and exploit once the current site of extraction has been exhausted.”  (p. 148)

[2] The problem begins when more radical environmental thinkers and activists, including would-be Marxists, choose not to rock the Leap Manifesto consensus. They opt to limit their vision to the limited outlook of Klein, Lewis and the proposals in the Leap Manifesto. [Source]

 

Cory Morningstar is an independent investigative journalist, writer and environmental activist, focusing on global ecological collapse and political analysis of the non-profit industrial complex. She resides in Canada. Her recent writings can be found on Wrong Kind of Green, The Art of Annihilation, and Counterpunch. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can follow her on twitter @elleprovocateur]

[Forrest Palmer is an electrical engineer residing in Texas.  He is a part-time blogger and writer and can be found on Facebook. You may reach him at forrest_palmer@yahoo.com.]

 

Further Reading:

Standing Rock: Profusion, Collusion & Big Money Profits [Part 1]

350: Agent Saboteur

McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street [Part XIII of an Investigative Report] [The Increasing Vogue for Capitalist-Friendly Climate Discourse]

Fundacion Pachamama is Dead – Long Live ALBA [Part VII of an Investigative Report]

This Changes Nothing. Why the People’s Climate March Guarantees Climate Catastrophe

WATCH: NGOs: Grassroots Empowerment or Tool of Information Warfare?

South Front

September 30, 2016

 

The Destructive Energy of Avaaz

Digital remix by: Luke Orsborne for Wrong Kind of Green

October 17, 2016

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

 

 

How the US Manipulates Humanitarianism for Imperialism

Reports from Underground

October 6, 2016

by Steven Chovanec

 

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Image courtesy of Mark Gould

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

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

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

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

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

So, who are these rebels?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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