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The Oligarchs Behind the “Humanitarian” Regime Change Network Now Exploiting Jo Cox’s Death to Push For UK Labour Split

Mint Press News

October 22, 2018

By Vanessa Beeley and Whitney Webb

 

Nick Grono at the Concordia Summit in September 2016 – The Power of Partnerships

LONDON — Jo Cox, the late Labour MP whose tragic death in 2016 shocked Britain and the world, has recently become a rallying cry for forces within the U.K. Labour Party who seek to weaken Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and to return the party to the pro-intervention Tony Blair era. As this article (the final installment of our three-part series) will show, this effort to manipulate Jo Cox’s death is the latest move in a wider effort to turn Cox’s legacy to the advantage of pro-intervention interests in Britain and abroad, particularly with regard to foreign intervention in Syria. While these moves — from support for “humanitarian” intervention in Syria to the drive to split the U.K. Labour Party — are cast as people-driven objectives, they are in fact oligarch-driven.

Previous reporting on Jo Cox and her legacy revealed that the Jo Cox Fund, set up soon after Cox’s death, was created by a group of four pro-interventionist “humanitarians” — Mabel van Oranje, Gemma Mortensen, Tim Dixon and Nick Grono — all of whom have a history of involvement, either directly or indirectly, in past regime-change operations. They are all also connected to some of the world’s most ardent imperialists, as well as to the Not for Profit Industrial Complex (NPIC).

The NPIC is effectively the money-laundering operation of the world’s most powerful industrialists. By creating a socially appealing “not for profit” NGO that serves to influence public opinion in the direction of the industrialist agenda, the global elite ensure a monopoly over the chosen market. The oligarchy uses the NPIC to manufacture public consent for the schemes and campaigns that will maintain their power, privilege and wealth. Why would they create an entity that would be detrimental to their survival and success?

The NPIC gives an unsuspecting public the illusion of choice and a stakeholding in resolving our world issues. The reality is that we are being persuaded to “choose” the options that benefit only the world’s most powerful influencers and ensure the exploitation of humanity to secure supremacy for the very few.

The four founders of the Jo Cox Fund, referred to in this article as the “Jo Cox Four,” have used this fund to promote — among other causes — the U.S. coalition-financed White Helmets, whose primary purpose has been to escalate unlawful NATO state-proxy and direct military intervention in Syria.

In addition, these individuals behind the Jo Cox Fund have used that foundation to apply strategies aimed at promoting foreign military intervention that were first perfected during the NATO intervention in the Balkans, as several of the creators of the Jo Cox fund promoted that military intervention to great effect.

In applying those strategies to the current conflict in Syria, these players have helped develop a massive public-relations machine with the White Helmets at its center, and programmed that machine to use Cox’s death to sanctify the controversial group and shield it from scrutiny. Now, they are using her death to justify the creation of a new Labour party to prevent the ascendency of the anti-intervention platform of current Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

As this article will reveal, this NGO pro-Syrian-regime-change network — of which the Jo Cox Fund is part — is being promoted by powerful oligarchs with connections to the U.K., U.S. and Canadian governments. In the context of the call to partition U.K. Labour, the efforts driven by these billionaires show that they are hardly “people driven” and are instead being pushed by the same pro-intervention, monied interests that have long supported regime change in Syria and have since helped to weaponize Jo Cox’s death.


This is Part III of a three-part series on the life and legacy of Jo Cox and the posthumous fund set up in her honor. Read part 1 here and part 2 here. In this final part of the series, we focus on exploring the oligarchs who are driving the NGO and PR nexus aimed at manufacturing consent in Western nations for regime change in Syria, with a particular focus on how these oligarch-driven efforts are now fueling an effort to divide the U.K. Labour Party in order to undermine Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-war policies. Notably, those efforts within U.K. Labour are using Jo Cox and her highly manipulated legacy as a rallying cry.


 

The eBay billionaires and the Syria regime-change PR machine

As previous reporting has detailed, the Jo Cox Fund — the posthumous fund created soon after the late MP’s death — was formed by a group of four individuals who have long been involved in manufacturing consent for foreign “regime change” wars, first in the Balkans and now in Syria, and have been aided in this effort by massive funding from governments and elite billionaires. Yet, of those elite billionaires, some have promoted the Jo Cox Fund founders — and, with them, their pet projects such as the White Helmets — more than others.

One billionaire in particular stands out. One of the “eBay billionaires” who amassed a fortune as the online auction company’s first employee, Canadian billionaire and “philanthropist” Jeffrey Skoll not only shares past connections to the Jo Cox Four but has continuously used his massive wealth and his “charitable” foundation to promote them and their causes.

Indeed, the Skoll Foundation — a partner of USAID, a NPIC-leading U.S. government organization that has a reputation for funding U.S.-friendly subversive forces in foreign countries — has provided funding to the groups directly linked to Jo Cox founders, such as Crisis Action and Global Witness. And the associated Skoll World Forum has promoted the cause of Western-backed regime change in Syria — hosting the founder of the White Helmets, James Le Mesurier; the current leader of the White Helmets, Raed Saleh; the program director of the White Helmet parent organization Mayday Rescue, Farouq Habib; as well as all four of the founders of the Jo Cox Fund: Mabel van Oranje, Gemma Mortensen, Tim Dixon, and Nick Grono.

 

Who is Jeffrey Skoll?

Following on from his success at Ebay that ensured Skoll’s meteoric rise to the ranks of the billionaire elite, Skoll has capitalized upon that success to garner multiple awards from within the monied elite circles that he now inhabits.

Skoll has been awarded the Carnegie Medal for Philanthropy, which is considered to be the equivalent to the Nobel Peace Prize for philanthropy. The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is a big-business club that is described as a “foreign policy think tank” with centers in Washington, New Delhi, Moscow, Beirut and Beijing. Former President Jessica Matthews said that her aim was to make Carnegie the place where world thinking can be incorporated into thinking about U.S policy and to transmit that thinking to the global audience.

On the Carnegie board of trustees is Syrian oil magnate Ayman Asfari, a U.K. resident and financial contributor to the Conservative government that has been at the forefront of the U.S. Coalition war effort in Syria. Asfari has been instrumental in financing much of the PR industry, including the White Helmets, that builds the “regime-change” narratives that criminalize the Syrian government and its allies, an effort detailed in Parts 1 and 2 of this series.

Skoll established Participant Media (PM) in 2004. As with so many of the social-consciousness documentary production sites that have sprung up in recent times to alter our perception with beautifully crafted storylines designed to mobilize bias in a particular direction, PM claims to combine the “power of a good story well told with opportunities for real world impact.” PM joins the throng of billionaire-funded and -founded media and PR agencies of power.

Diane Weyermann is PM’s president of documentary film and television. Weyermann previously worked with Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute, which has played a pivotal role in promoting the White Helmet Oscar-winning “documentaries.” For seven years Weyermann was the director of the Open Society Institute New York’s arts and culture program. Weyermann also launched the Soros Documentary Fund which later became the Sundance Documentary Fund in 1996.

Skoll has been made an Officer of the Order of Canada “for his generous commitment to social causes and for his innovative practice of philanthropy.” Very often the bridge between big business and government agencies is made by such ostensibly “philanthropic” activities of the capitalist entities and individuals.

The Canadian government reportedly led the organization of the recent evacuation of alleged White Helmet operatives out of southern Syria via Israeli occupied Syrian territory in the Golan Heights, before they were transported to Jordan and on to their countries of resettlement, which include Canada, the U.K., France and Germany.

The Canadian government has been a consistently staunch supporter of the White Helmets, backing their multiple bids for the Nobel Peace Prize despite protests from groups and individuals who campaigned against Canada joining with the France-U.K.-U.S. (FUKUS) alliance that has strongly pushed for the downfall of the Assad government. Canadian foreign policy has effectively aligned itself with the Syrian-linked philanthrocapitalist sector led by individuals like Skoll.

Skoll slots into the billionaire complex that underpins the White Helmet structure with ease. In 2015, Skoll had a “conversation” with Mabel Van Oranje on “Belief in a Collective Future.” Skoll has donated heavily to the Clinton Foundation and met with Hillary Clinton when she was secretary of state during the early days of the conflict in Syria. The Skoll Foundation has partnered in at least 21 commitments to programs designed by the Clinton Global Initiative. In April 2012, Clinton met with Skoll and Sally Osberg of Skoll’s charity during a U.S State Department-sponsored forum on government-business partnerships. The same month, USAID, the State Department/CIA contractor for expanding U.S global influence, announced a partnership with the Skoll Foundation to invest in health, energy, governance and food-security innovations. USAID has also provided at least $31m in funding to the White Helmets in Syria via one of its preferred subcontractors, Chemonics.

Skoll united with British business tycoon Richard Branson and Mabel Van Oranje in the funding of The Elders. Van Oranje resigned from her position as CEO of The Elders in 2012. It was Skoll’s Participant Media that produced Al Gore’s 2006 apocalyptic movie An Inconvenient Truth. Gore was Bill Clinton’s Vice President from 1993 – 2001. Skoll’s investment management firm, Capricorn Investment LLC, also received a $35 million investmentfrom Gore following the film’s success, which the firm invested into hedge funds and private partnerships, helping to grow Gore’s now sizeable fortune. Skoll co-founded Capricorn Investment LLC with former Vice President of Goldman Sachs Stephen George.

 

Skoll Foundation and Forum

When we start to look more closely at the “storytelling” partners of the Skoll Foundation, we draw even closer to the White Helmet PR industry. Skoll partners with the Sundance Institute, the BBC, NPR and Doc Society–Flex Fund, among others. The Sundance Institute, the BBC and Doc Society are central to the production and promotion of the White Helmet movie campaigns, including the Netflix White Helmet documentary that won the Oscar in 2016 and then Last Men in Aleppo that was nominated for the Oscar in 2017.

These organizations are literally the architects of “humanitarian war” and the White Helmets are their centerpiece, the ultimate “story” that, if told well, will draw Western nations deeper into the quagmire of a failed regime-change war in Syria. As Vanessa Beeley wrote in Architects of Humanitarian War:

I believe it’s safe to conclude that there is a vast, well-financed PR machine operating behind the scenes of the White Helmet organisation, whitewashing their discredited image and mapping out their political, media and Hollywood trajectory – in lock-step with the PR campaign is a media defence force headed up by Channel 4, The BBC and The Guardian. The hub of the film and PR sector is Doc Society.”

Listed among the Skoll Foundation “awardees” are Crisis Action and Global Witness — again linking to the White Helmet PR apparatus. Crisis Action brings together Brendan Cox, Gemma Mortensen and Tim Dixon of the Jo Cox Four. Crisis Action’s role in the White Helmet marketing complex was explored in detail in Part 2 of this series. Global Witness connects back to Mabel Van Oranje, who is on the advisory board with Alexander Soros.

The annual Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship is organized by the Skoll Foundation in partnership with the Said Foundation, or more precisely the Said Business School. The Forum convenes 800 social entrepreneurs, influencers, policy makers, philanthropists and students to “learn, problem solve and build community.”  The Said Foundation is “partnered” by Ayman Asfari, previously mentioned in connection with the White Helmet marketing team, headed up by the Syria Campaign.

The Skoll World Forum (SWF) was established in 2004. One of the sessions in the 2018 Forum was on “The Art of Co-creation: a Storytelling Model for Impact and Engagement.” As we have mentioned previously, almost the entire White Helmet PR team and White Helmet leadership have been listed as contributors to the SWF. These include James Le Mesurier, former British MI6 agent who established the White Helmets in Turkey and Jordan while employed by ARK Group; Raed Saleh, former mobile-phone salesman, now leader of the White Helmets; Tim Dixon MD, of Purpose; Farouq Habib, project manager at Mayday Rescue; and Brendan Cox, Mabel Van Oranje, Gemma Mortensen, and Nick Grono. CEO and president of the UN Foundation Kathy Calvin is also a contributor alongside the White Helmet team, and her role in promoting the billionaire-supported “humanitarian” group is further investigated later in this article.

In 2017, the SWF brought together Brendan Cox, Tim Dixon and Gemma Mortensen in a session entitled “Mobilizing a Movement: More in Common,” which focused on the Jo Cox-inspired movement to enable more “inclusive societies that look past our differences and embrace our common humanity.”

During this talk Dixon alludes to the iconic image of Alan Kurdi washed up on a beach in Turkey, which launched the refugee “crisis” in September 2015. The timing of this campaign, so rapidly adopted by the Jo Cox four and their associated PR agencies and billionaire network, was curiously in lock-step with the timing of the Russian intervention in Syria at the behest of the elected Syrian government. During the televised talk, Dixon describes the image of Kurdi’s body as “a defining moment for the More in Common impetus.” Dixon’s cynical exploitation of Kurdi’s death to promote the causes of the Jo Cox Four, including the White Helmets, was exposed by a statement given by Kurdi’s aunt, Tima Kurdi, in February 2017, in Canada:

Regime-change policy has destroyed my country and forced my people to flee. [U.S. Congresswoman] Tulsi [Gabbard]’s message was exactly what I have been trying to say for years, but no one wants to listen. [..]If the West keeps funding the rebels, we will see more people flee, more bloodshed, and more suffering. My people have suffered for at least six years.”

Tima Kurdi established very quickly that the furor over the refugee crisis, generated by the shocking images of her drowned nephew, was nothing more than a marketing campaign designed to facilitate a reaction and military push-back against the Russian intervention that threatened to derail the U.S. Coalition plans to topple the Syrian government.

Watch TEDXSkoll video showcasing a female White Helmets operative:

 

The many hats of Pierre Omidyar

Undeniably a formidable force in the promotion of the “Jo Cox Four” and the White Helmets, Jeffrey Skoll is not the only eBay billionaire involved in manufacturing consent for Syria regime change or in promoting the activities of the founding members of the Jo Cox Foundation. Indeed, Pierre Omidyar — the founder of eBay who was responsible for hiring Skoll and allowing him to amass his fortune — also shares many of the same connections to these individuals and the “humanitarian” regime change network currently exploiting the death of Jo Cox.

Like Skoll, Omidyar is also increasingly well-connected to the U.S. political establishment and was directly involved in promoting regime change in Ukraine alongside the Obama era U.S. State Department. Omidyar has a close relationship to Obama, having attended the same elite Hawaii school and having made more visits to the Obama White House between 2009 and 2013 than Google’s Eric Schmidt, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, or Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. He also donated $30 million to the Clinton Global Initiative and directly co-invested with the State Department, funding groups – some of them overtly fascist – that worked to overthrow Ukraine’s democratically elected government in 2014.

Even after Obama left office, Omidyar continues to fund USAID, particularly its overseas program aimed at “advancing U.S. national security interests” abroad. Omidyar’s Ulupono Initiative, a venture-capital fund that operates in his home state of Hawaii, cosponsors one of the Pentagon’s most important contractor expos, a direct connection between Omidyar and the military industrial complex that profits from U.S.-backed regime-change wars.

However, Omidyar’s very clear connections to the U.S. political establishment and U.S.-led regime-change efforts have often been obfuscated by reports on Omidyar’s “philanthropy.” Indeed, Omidyar has been heavily promoted as an “entrepreneurial” philanthropist, having won the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy and received accolades in the mainstream press for his unique “way of giving.”

One of Omidyar’s charitable groups, the Omidyar Network, has given large grants to George Soros’s Open Society Foundations (where Jo Cox Fund founder Mabel van Oranje once worked) and the Tides Center, and has collaborated with the U.K. government and the Ford Foundation. Notably, another arm of Omidyar’s charitable network, Humanity United, provided a considerable portion of the funds that established the Clinton-promoted Freedom Fund, whose inaugural CEO was Nick Grono, one of the founders of the Jo Cox Fund.

Another “philanthropic” project of Omidyar’s is the New York-based publication, the Intercept. That publication was largely founded with the intent of publishing the leaked U.S. government documents provided by Edward Snowden, but over 90 percent of those leaks have yet to be made public  over five years after the Intercept’s founding, leading critics to accuse Omidyar of seeking to “privatize” those leaks.

Yet, of the documents that have been published, one published last year exposed the opposition paramilitary group, the Free Syrian Army, as taking marching orders from the Saudi royal family. However, that document was published by the Intercept only after the U.S. State Department itself began to report more honestly on the nature of these so-called “rebels,” even though the Intercept had the document in its possession since 2013.

Furthermore, Intercept writers covering Syria frequently promote Syrian “rebels” and the opposition while also promoting pro-regime change talking points. For instance, Murtaza Hussain – a long-time writer at the Intercept – has written numerous stories downplaying the terrorist and Wahhabist elements of the Syrian “rebels.” In the last three years, Hussain has written pieces portraying known Al-Qaeda propagandists, such as Bilal Abdul Kareem, and Al-Qaeda-linked organizations, such as the White Helmets, in an overwhelmingly positive light — failing to mention in both cases the significant evidence tying these entities to known terrorist groups.

In another piece, published in August 2016, Hussain gave voice to al-Nusra Front leadership in a lengthy interview that largely whitewashed the group’s Wahhabist leanings and links to terrorist acts in Syria. In September 2016, on Twitter, Hussain asserted that Saudi Arabia’s funding of armed factions was not necessarily “good” but that “there is little to indicate they contribute to terrorism.”

Hussain is by no means the only Intercept writer who has taken such a pro-opposition stance regarding Syria. A now infamous Intercept piece on Syria, published last September, committed glaring factual errors on basic facts about the war, while also mistranslating a speech given by Assad so as to link him to American white nationalists. In addition, last year, the paper hired Maryam Saleh, a journalist who has called Shia Muslims “dogs” and has taken to Twitter in recent months to downplay the role of the U.S. coalition in airstrikes in Syria. Saleh also has ties to the U.S.-financed propaganda group Kafranbel Media Center, which also has close relations with the terrorist group Ahrar al-Sham.

Even “anti-interventionist” Intercept journalists like Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald have come under fire this past year for allegedly promoting inaccurate statements that supported pro-regime-change narratives in Syria, particularly in regard to an alleged chemical-weapons attack in Douma. That attack is now widely believed to have been staged by the White Helmets.

Given Omidyar’s connections to the political establishment, his past efforts aimed at affecting Western-backed regime change, and the way in which the publication he owns has peddled misinformation on Syria, Omidyar — like Skoll — is very much a part of “humanitarian” regime-change complex that uses billionaire “philanthropy” as a disguise for the manipulation of public sentiment in order to justify foreign military intervention to a Western audience.

 

UN Foundation, Concordia Summit and the White Helmets

Image result for Nick Grono Concordia Summit

Nick Grono also attended the Concordia Summit in September 2016 – The Power of Partnerships

Three months after Jo Cox’s murder in September 2016, two of the Jo Cox Fund originators — Tim Dixon of Purpose and Nick Grono, CEO of the Freedom Fund — took part in the annual Concordia SummitDixon was a key participant in the Private Sector Forum on Migration and Refugees, with a focus on the Purpose-”incubated” refugee and migration hub. Their objective? To change hearts and minds in Europe in relation to the refugee “crisis” — a Syria-centric “crisis” that has been largely manufactured and sensationalized with the aim of criminalizing the Syrian government. The reality is that Syrian refugees are returning to Syria as vast swaths of Syrian territory is liberated from Western-backed terrorist occupation.

Brendan Cox was also a speaker at the 2016 event, as were many other supporters of U.S. Coalition intervention in Syria: Lina Attar, of the Karam Foundation; President and CEO of International Rescue Committee, David Miliband; Lara Setrakian of News Deeply, a “rebel”-partisan media outlet funded by Ayman Asfari; George Soros; Johannes Hahn, EU Commissioner; and Hans Vestberg, UN Foundation board member —  to name a few.

Tim Dixon attends the 2016 Concordia Summit. (Photo: Concordia Summit website)

This is taken from the Purpose website in 2015:

Purpose is proud to have served as a first time programming partner for the 2015 Concordia Summit. Now in its fifth year, the Summit convenes the world’s preeminent thought leaders and decision makers to address the most pressing global challenges by highlighting the potential that effective cross-sector collaboration can have in creating a more prosperous and sustainable future.”

Jeremy Heimans, the co-founder and CEO of Purpose, spoke at this event. Their session, “IntroducingNew Power in a Multi-stakeholder World,” featured an exciting line-up of speakers, each pioneering change in their respective industries in innovative ways. The focus was on the “civil society” sectors and their ability to implement transformation via peer-driven participation campaigns. Tapping into global energy and human agency was order of the day. One of the panelists, Scott Heiferman, promoted his model “Meet Up,” which harnesses the power of people-to-people networking: “How can you empower people to turn to each other – how can you unlock that most beautiful phenomenon?”

Jeremy Heimans is also co-founder of an organization, Avaaz, that “unlocks that phenomenon” and harnesses the power of peer participation in influencing public opinion — particularly on Syria, as covered previously in our series of articles.

True to form, Purpose produced a report in May 2017, “Understanding the Conflicted Middle: European Public Opinion towards Refugees,” shifting hearts and minds on refugees and migrants in Europe. While this report presented a number of symptoms and remedies, it does not investigate the root cause of the global refugee crisis, which is due, to a great extent, to the U.S. policy of military intervention globally that results in the mass exodus of peoples from war-torn nations into Europe. There, these refugees are weaponized to manufacture consent for further Western military intervention by organizations that claim to be protecting their interests.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees, United Nations H.E. Filippo Grandi; Founder and Chair, Soros Fund Management, and the Open Society Foundations, George Soros; and Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship of Canada, John McCallum attend 2016 Concordia Summit – Day 2 at Grand Hyatt New York on September 20, 2016 in New York City. (Ben Hider/Getty Images North America)

Concordia’s annual report in 2016 described this summit as the “largest and most ambitious event to date, bringing together over 2000 thought leaders from across sectors, including General David Petraeus and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright … and philanthropist George Soros.”

Albright rose to notoriety with her dismissal of the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children as being “worth it” when the U.S. imposed punishing and lethal economic sanctions on Iraq leading up to the first Iraq war in 1991 — sanctions that have, in part, persisted until today.

The Concordia Summit was established in 2011, just as the questionable “Arab Spring” was causing shock waves across the Middle East region. It was designed as an establishment intersection, a hub of global elite influencers and transformers. Cory Morningstar, an expert on the “smart power” complex, noted that the Concordia Summit was modelled on the success of initiatives such as the Wall Street Journal CEO Council and the Clinton Global Initiative: “Mathew Swifte (Chairman and CEO) and Nicholas Logothetis founded the Concordia Summit in February 2011 […] Swifte studied under global ‘leaders’ such as former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright..”

“The 2011 keynote address for Concordia (‘Cross-sector collaboration as a means of combating extremism and terrorism’) was given by U.S. President George W. Bush; followed by former U.S. President Bill Clinton in 2012; and Andrew Liveris, President, Chairman & CEO of The Dow Chemical Company in 2013.” ~ from article by Cory Morningstar, Purpose Goes to Latin America

The 2018 Concordia Summit just took place in September at the Grand Hyatt, New York, describing itself as “The largest and most inclusive nonpartisan forum alongside the United Nations General Assembly.” The line-up of soft-power magnates and establishment political and capitalist moguls was impressive. The summit featured the cross-fertilization of influencers, decision-makers and opinion-formers across a multitude of sectors, who came together to ensure the “next generation of partnership-builders” would be shaped in their image with their agenda indelibly imprinted upon the future. In its own language, from the Concordia Annual Summit 2018 overview“The 2018 Concordia Annual Summit will provide a powerful forum to catalyze action through shared value approaches and social impact objectives.”

In 2018, UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency) joined forces with Concordia as a “programming partner.” This was not the first time they had collaborated. In 2016, UNHCR also took a central role at the Concordia Summit. In the words of Matthew Swift, co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Concordia:

The mission of UNHCR is truly one of the core values of Concordia’s work. The commitment to ensuring that everybody has the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge, having fled violence, persecution, war or disaster at home is a subject we’ve heavily focused on in the past, and we look forward to continuing these calls to action at the 2018 Concordia Annual Summit.”

Other “programming partners” in 2018 included the NATO-aligned think-tank, the Atlantic Council; the George W. Bush Institute; Open Society Foundation; U.S Chamber of Commerce; U.S State Department (Secretary’s Office of Global Partnerships); U.S Global Leadership Coalition; and the Wilson Center, a Washington-based global issues research center. The Concordia Annual Summit appears to be a thinly disguised cartel established to promote U.S private- and public-sector interests far into the future, with potentially devastating consequences for the countries where such policies will be implemented by the world’s elite “philanthro-capitalists.”

Perhaps more remarkable is how Concordia gathers together so many of the players in the decades-long campaign to destabilize Syria and topple its elected government from power. Players who would capitalize upon the assassination of Jo Cox to appropriate public funds and direct them into financing elements of the regime-change project in Syria such as the Al Qaeda-linked White Helmets.

 

Kathy Calvin and the UN Foundation

The UN connection extends beyond the role of the UNHCR, with the attendance of Kathy Calvin at the 2016 Concordia Summit. Calvin is the CEO and president of the United Nations Foundation. Calvin, Mabel Van Oranje and Jeffrey Skoll intersect on the Advisory Council of the Elders — alongside British entrepreneur and billionaire Richard Branson and Sally Osberg, who is the president and CEO of the Skoll Foundation. Once more, we see how the star-studded cast of the movement-building and social-change engineering world overlap and circulate in the ever expanding and interwoven spheres of influence.

In a 2011 interview with Forbes, Calvin laid out the objectives of the UN Foundation:

[The UN Foundation is a construct designed to bring together] some of the brightest entrepreneurs under 40 through the Global Entrepreneurs Council to take the UN and the UN Foundation – and our campaigns, partnerships, and programs – to the next level of innovation and impact. They are the next generation of entrepreneurs who understand that working with the United Nations is good for the world and for business. These innovative thinkers will help us engage with new generations to help the UN create 21st century solutions to some of the world’s toughest problems.” (emphasis added)

It would appear that Calvin is suggesting that the influence of the UN be exploited to expand U.S. private-sector business interests worldwide.

The UN Foundation came into existence in 1998 with a $1 billion commitment from former vice chairman of Time Warner and founder of CNN Ted Turner. His investment in the UN Foundation was described as his “gift for the future of Humanity.” Turner believed that the UN Foundation would “catalyze a new movement in philanthropy.”

The list of UN Foundation’s partners is another glittering array of the world’s most powerful foundations and individuals. The Skoll Foundation is on that list alongside AOL, Google, Royal Dutch Shell, Walt Disney, Unilever, and the governments of the U.S, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Australia, UAE, U.K. and the World Bank. UN Foundation is the heavyweight of philanthropy, backed by billionaires from a vast spectrum of market sectors and political backgrounds.

 

Ted Turner and Calvin’s connections to Clinton

Ted Turner endorsed Hillary Clinton’s election campaign in 2016. Time Warner was among the myriad of media moguls who financed the failed Clinton campaign to the tune of $50,000 – $100,000, according to statistics published by Politico. CNN reporter Larry King was once caught on open-mic in the early 1990s telling Bill Clinton that “Ted Turner would serve” him. A report in the Washington Times cited Turner as saying “Hillary Clinton is one of the smartest and most powerful people in the world.” Turner praises Clinton uncritically, ignoring her record as one of the most malevolent war-hawks of our generation. It is Clinton’s gleeful celebration of Libya’s Muammar Gadaffi’s sodomization and murder by the U.S.-supported “rebels” that has come to symbolize the moral vacuum of the U.S. neocon foreign policy — policy that also serves the billionaire corporatocracy presided over by moguls such as Ted Turner.

Calvin’s connections to the Clinton clan also run deep. In 2013, the UN Foundation and its Global Entrepreneurs Council announced the “MY World Global Initiative” at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting. According to the UN Foundation website:

MY World looks beyond 2015 – the endpoint for the current Millennium Development Goals – to engage people from all parts of the world and ensure their views will be part of the global conversation about the post-2015 global development agenda. To date, approximately one million people from 194 countries have contributed to MY World, and the UN Foundation is committed to helping secure one million more.” (emphasis added)

United Nations Foundation, Michael Bloomberg, Kathy Calvin on far right with Chelsea and Hillary Clinton. New York 2014. Signalling new initiative between Clinton Foundation, UN Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies. (Photo: Zimbio)

In 2014, Hillary Clinton, Kathy Calvin and Michael Bloomberg formed a new partnership to “close gender gaps.” Bloomberg is reported to be the eighth richest man in the U.S., with a net worth of $48.9 billion (2018) — a “philanthrocapitalist” whose causes range from gun control to climate change. The event, which took place on December 15, 2014 at Bloomberg Philanthropies in New York, sought to:

[H]ighlight the work of Data2X – a partnership launched by Secretary Clinton in July 2012 to identify and spur efforts to fill gender data gaps – and unveil new partnerships to improve data collection and use for women and girls. Better gender data are needed to guide policies, set targets, and monitor progress for women and girls.” (emphasis added)

Calvin’s links to the PR and media industries pre-date her appointment as CEO of the UN Foundation. Listed in Fast Company’s “League of Extraordinary Women,” before joining the UN Foundation in 2003, Calvin was President at AOL Time Warner Foundation, responsible for its “philanthropic” activities. Immediately prior to joining Time Warner, Calvin was Senior Managing Director at Hill and Knowlton. Hill and Knowlton is perhaps best known for its production of the hoax “incubator baby” story that provided the “humanitarian” pretext for the first Gulf War — later exposed, as recounted in The Diabolical Business of Global Public Relation Firms, as an elaborate staged event:

Before the first Gulf War, a fake news propaganda spectacle took place courtesy of WPP’s Hill & Knowlton. They were hired by Citizens for a Free Kuwait and eventually received nearly $10.8 million to conduct one of the most effective public relations campaigns in history. Hill & Knowlton helped create a national outrage against Iraq by publicizing the horrifying events supposedly caused by Iraqi soldiers during Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.”

Interestingly, this connection then extends to Tim Dixon and Purpose New York. In September 2014, Purpose welcomed Josh Hendler as Chief Technology Officer. Just prior to joining Purpose, Hendler had held the same position at Hill and Knowlton Strategies.

Hendler’s mission was to “… develop the next-generation of tools to empower people across the globe to build movements…” (emphasis added).

Promotional image taken from the B-Team website.

Kathy Calvin has recently teamed up with billionaire Richard Branson on the Virgin Unite Foundation-incubated B-Team. Calvin is one of the 23 leaders whose mission is to “deliver a Plan B that puts people and planet alongside profit.”  The B-Team is managed by none other than Purpose. 

Branson, the Virgin tycoon, paid tribute to Jo Cox on his website in 2016. In this message, Branson presented a thinly veiled political message alluding to the “More in Common” movement that would shortly be established by Brendan Cox. Cox resigned from his position as director of More in Common in February 2018, following allegations of sexual harassment.

Branson also supports Nick Grono’s Walk Free Foundation, alongside Tony Blair, Hillary Clinton, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, and Bill Gates. Grono is one of the Jo Cox Four. Branson has also promoted the Netflix White Helmet documentary, describing it as offering “real insight into the horror and humanity, happening right now in Syria.” Many of the 20 documentaries promoted by Branson as must-watch reports have been produced by Skoll Foundation’s Participant Media. Another example of the reach and power of the billionaire PR industry.

In a separate report, Vanessa Beeley mapped out the intricate PR and film production processes that propelled the White Helmet movies to international acclaim and award ceremonies. She writes, in Architects of Humanitarian War:

White Helmet propaganda has seduced droves of human beings with a genuine humanitarian reflex that has been exploited by this “centre-piece” perception-changing construct. The story told by the White Helmet media and PR agencies has elevated this Al Qaeda support group to celebrity cult status. The world has fallen in love with what should most horrify it, while the people of Syria have their voices asphyxiated by Hollywood glamour and transformational mass communication.”

Yet again, we see how the web of billionaire philanthrocapitalism functions and how it builds its platforms of influence and behavioral-change power base. The components of this web are interchangeable — mobile and flexible, able to move swiftly and effectively, powered by billionaire resources and financial monopoly of the desired market sectors. It is a formidable force for change in this world, but accountable to none. Thus questions must be asked as to who benefits most from the changes their apparatus will impose upon some of the poorest nations in this world and their poverty-stricken or war-displaced citizens.

The White Helmets benefit from the Billionaire Network

The Social Good Summit (SGS) is held annually during the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) week. A gathering of elite change manufacturers and global policy makers who desire to shape the future we apparently want to live in by 2030:

A dynamic exploration of the world we want to live in by 2030, the Social Good Summit will focus on how we can unlock technology’s potential to make the world a better place.”

The SGS is organized in partnership with the UN Foundation, the UNDP (UN Development Programme), Ted Turner-funded media website Mashable, multinational investment bank UBS, Zionist cultural non-profit 92Y, and pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.

The 2017 SGS was clearly a vehicle to further promote and iconize the White Helmets, combining political elite with celebrity cult elements that reinforced the stellar, Oscar-winning status of the faux “humanitarian” group.

Connie Britton with Khaled Khatib and Moustafa Munir at the Social Good Summit 2017. (Photo: Instagram)

Connie Britton, actress and UNDP Goodwill Ambassador, uncritically promoted the group’s carefully cultivated reputation as “civilian do-gooders” during an interview conducted at the summit. The White Helmet representatives Britton interviewed were Khaled Khatib and Mounir Mustafa. We have spoken about Mustafa’s links to armed groups in Syria in Part 2 of this series.

Despite having the term “social good” in the name, the organizations behind the SGS, as well as its promotion of weaponized “humanitarian” constructs like the White Helmets, again reveal a powerful billionaire-driven PR industry which seeks to manipulate the innate human desire to “do good” and benefit the collective into supporting policy moves — such as regime change abroad — that benefit only the global monied elite.

 

Using Jo Cox to divide the Labour Party

A more worrying development that has emerged from the exploitation of the murder of MP Jo Cox is the apparent attempt to divide the already beleaguered Labour Party and to undermine its leadership, in particular Jeremy Corbyn.

Cox herself turned against Corbyn shortly before she was killed in 2016 and was forced to apologize after a newsletter had been circulated by one of her aides with the headline “Why I knifed Corbyn.” Two weeks prior, Cox had co-written an article with Neil Coyle in the Guardian, expressing regret over nominating Corbyn and dissatisfaction with his leadership.

Shortly after Cox’s murder, billionaire Branson came into conflict with Corbyn over the privatization of the rail services in the U.K. Corbyn was pushing for public ownership and this came into direct confrontation with the business objectives of Branson’s Virgin empire.

On many fronts Corbyn is challenging the establishment paradigm. As journalist Jonathan Cook explained, “Corbyn is being destroyed, like blowing up a bridge to stop an advancing army.” Part of the advancing army is Corbyn’s apparent determination to investigate and bring an end to military intervention by the British government and its allies. This has set the cat among the Syria “regime-change” pigeons, who have striven towards the destabilization of Syria for at least eight years, many for longer.

When the Labour MP and close ally of Corbyn, Chris Williamson, tweeted his support for the co-author of this report, Vanessa Beeley, the NATO-aligned twittersphere was outraged. Oz Katerji, long-time supporter of the Syrian “revolution” and vocal detractor of the Syrian government, rose to blow up the bridges in an article for the New Statesman.

Katerji has close ties to NATO-aligned “research” website Bellingcat, which has been instrumental in maintaining international pressure upon the Syrian government by supporting the chemical-weapon narratives generated by the White Helmets. Bellingcat’s founder, Eliot Higgins, is employed by the Atlantic Council, which is funded by the U.K., UAE, and U.S. weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin, among others. Katerji is closely involved with the refugee “crisis,” on the “frontlines” as a team member of the Help Refugees NGO. The common factors that link all members of the war-for-peace-in-Syria cartel become more blatant as we delve deeper into their activities and connections.

Help Refugees is supported by none other than Soros’s Open Society Foundation and the Radcliffe Foundation, led by by philanthro-capitalist billionaire Frank Giustra, among other influential foundations. (Giustra’s connections to the billionaire network were covered in Part 2 of this series)

Katerji is also a dedicated promoter of the White Helmets, often seen attacking comments on Twitter that provide evidence of the White Helmet affiliations to extremist groups, including Nusra Front and ISIS. Katerji has been hosted by the Fabian Society in the House of Lords to discuss the refugee “crisis” in relation to Syria. Jo Cox’s connections to the Fabian Society are examined in Part 1 of this series.

In the New Statesman article, Katerji invoked the name of Jo Cox to effectively divide the Labour party along clearly defined lines. On one side, those Labour MPs who will not swing into war on the coat-tails of the Conservative Party, on the other those who would align themselves with the Blairite policies of “intervention at all costs.” Jo Cox is being used as a banner under which the Blairites can renew their campaigns to “do more” in Syria, which effectively signals greater military and economic pressure upon the Syrian people and perpetual war. For the Blairites, war can be prevented only by the departure of the Syrian Government and its replacement with an Islamist regime that would signify the end of Syria’s secular culture. This is an agenda that is not aligned with the wishes of the majority of the Syrian people, a fact that is apparently of no consequence to the “Jo Cox party.”

Oz Katerji delivering ambulances to Raed Saleh, leader of the White Helmets, in terrorist-occupied Idlib. (Photo: Raed Saleh Twitter)

The title of Katerji’s hit piece, indirectly aimed at Corbyn, was “Labour can be Jo Cox’s party or Chris Williamson’s – it cannot be both.” His article ends with the claim that there is a “war for the heart of the Labour party underway; ultimately Labour cannot be both the party of Jo Cox and the party of Chris Williamson. If Williamson’s latest endorsement receives no censure from the Labour leader’s office, the answer to that question will be heard loudly and clearly all the way from Westminster to Damascus.”

Watch Oz Katerji heckle Corbyn at a Stop the War Coalition conference in London in 2016:

Katerji is right in one way, but what is happening is a much bigger war. It is a war against humanity. A war during which we must connect ourselves even more closely to the peoples of nations under attack by the perpetual war industry sustained by the billionaire network. The powers that be are exploiting every possible avenue to demonize those who would challenge their agenda. From “anti-Semitism” to “genocide denial,” they are weaponizing tragedy and history to serve their own purposes. As Jonathan Cook puts it:

The corporate elites have no plan to go quietly. Unless we can build our ranks quickly and make our case confidently, their antics will ensure the paradigm shift is violent rather than healing. An earthquake, not a storm.”

 

Chuka Umunna’s new think tank

Beyond Katerji’s invocation of Jo Cox as a justification to divide U.K. Labour and return it to the pro-intervention party it once was under the leadership of former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, there is considerably more evidence that the same billionaire-led “humanitarian” regime-change network working to promote regime change in Syria is also intimately involved in the effort to divide the party. Look no further than Labour MP Chuka Umunna.

Umunna has long been a vocal critic of Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters, whom he has likened to “nasty trolls” for opposing war abroad. Umunna has long staunchly supported U.K. military adventurism, consistently supporting the deployment of U.K. military forces abroad as well as supporting regime change in Syria and the bombing of that country. Indeed, Umunna’s pro-intervention stance is so well defined that former U.K. Prime Minister and pro-interventionist Tony Blair once promoted Umunna to be the future leader of the Labour party.

More recently, Umunna has played a critical role in the anti-Semitism smear campaign targeting Corbyn, calling Corbyn’s Labour “institutionally racist” despite Corbyn’s long past as an anti-racism campaigner. The anti-Semitism issue was also used by Umunna to cast doubt on Corbyn’s ability to lead the party, and to promote a split of that party if Corbyn continued on in his current role as leader.

Given Blair’s past endorsement, Umunna seems poised to lead a new Blairite Labour spin-off if efforts to divide the party are successful. In this context, it is important to note that Umunna himself is directly connected to the same billionaire-led nexus that includes the humanitarian “regime-change” network that has been the focus of this series.

On October 15, Umunna announced via a column in the Independent that he would be chairing a new “progressive” think tank, Progressive Centre UK. However, as Umunna’s own column reveals, the Streatham MP repeatedly conflates “progressivism” with the “centre-left,” which Umunna defines as the politics of neo-liberal corporatists like Tony Blair, Emmanuel Macron and Justin Trudeau.

While Umunna’s new think tank does not yet describe its funding or its partners, it does openly note that it is proudly part of the “Global Progress” network, which is an outgrowth of the Global Progress Initiative (GPI). GPI was created in 2009 by the Center for American Progress, a U.S. think tank led by John Podesta, long-time Clinton associate and chair of Hillary Clinton’s failed 2016 presidential campaign, as well as another Clinton confidante, Neera Tanden. GPI promotes former neo-liberal leaders like Tony Blair of the U.K., Bill Clinton of the U.S., Helle Thorning-Schmidt of Denmark, Justin Trudeau of Canada, and Ricardo Lagos of Chile as “progressives.”

Notably, Umunna’s ties to John Podesta and the Clintons precede the creation of this new think tank, as Umunna reached out to Podesta, then chair of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, and offered to advise Clinton campaign staff on how to beat the “American Jeremy Corbyn,” U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders.

Umunna’s Progressive Centre UK makes it clear that is the U.K. branch of the Global Progress network, as it promotes its partners as the Global Progress network’s other branches in Canada (Canada2020), Italy (Volta) and France (Terra Nova). The Progressive Centre UK’s Italian partner, Volta, does not have a single Italian on its advisory board, despite being an Italian political think tank. Its advisory board includes former Senior Adviser for Innovation to Hillary Clinton, Alec Ross; former U.K. Labour politician and minister under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, David Miliband; French-born Murdoch lobbyist, Frederic Michel; and former Prime Minister of Denmark, Helle Thorning-Schmidt. Notably, David Miliband was once promoted as the “stand-in” for Jo Cox’s seat in Parliament following her murder and encouraged by Blairites within the Labour Party to challenge Jeremy Corbyn for leadership of the party.

Thorning-Schmidt’s inclusion in this network is also important given that she is currently CEO of Save the Children, where Jo Cox once worked, as did Brendan Cox until his “inappropriate behavior” was exposed. Thorning-Schmidt is a board member of the European Council on Foreign Relations alongside Mabel van Oranje. She is also a member of the board of the International Crisis Group (ICG) alongside George Soros; former Treasury Secretary under Clinton, Larry Summers; and Frank Giustra, among others.

As mentioned in Part 2 of this series, ICG and Save the Children — which both are intimately linked to Thorning-Schmidt — are part of the Crisis Action network, which is directly connected to the Jo Cox Four through Gemma Mortensen, Brendan Cox, and Tim Dixon, as well as Mabel van Oranje. Thorning-Schmidt’s connections are even more notable in the context of the push to divide the U.K. Labour party, given that she is married to Stephen Kinnock, a U.K. anti-Corbyn Labour MP who led the original efforts to split the Labour party following concern over Corbyn’s rise.

Like Volta, the Global Progress Network’s Canadian branch, Canada2020, is similarly problematic. While casting itself as an “independent” and “progressive” think tank, it proudly lists its partners as multinational corporations including Facebook, Google, Amazon, General Electric, massive multinational mining conglomerate Rio Tinto, Mastercard, and Shell Oil. Canada2020 recently hosted the Global Progress summit that Umunna promoted in his column announcing Progressive Centre UK. Umunna attended that summit, which was also attended by Tim Dixon of the Jo Cox Four, as well as Ben Scott of the Omidyar Network and John Podesta himself.

Though the newly-minted Progressive Centre UK has yet to host an event or make its donors and partners public, the other branches of the Clinton-linked Global Progress Network make it clear exactly what this new Umunna-led group will support and with whom it will associate.

 

Conclusion: Much exposed, much delving yet to do

The Jo Cox Fund, set up following the MP’s sudden and tragic death, formed the basis for the oligarch-backed NPIC network that would weaponize Cox’s death in order to promote pro-intervention policies and to attack actual progressive politicians in the U.K. Labour party who would oppose such British allied intervention abroad.

In their efforts to promote and enact regime change abroad, particularly in Syria, the Jo Cox Four have used their connections to the global elite and elite-funded “humanitarian” organizations to exploit the sympathy and outrage provoked by her death in order to manufacture consent for the pro-intervention policies that are the hallmark of the Blairite wing of U.K. Labour.

However, as the myriad connections between this “humanitarian” regime-change network and elite billionaires show, these policies are supported and designed not by the people but by oligarchs and the political elite. Only by masking their otherwise unpopular policies in the cloak of Jo Cox’s tragedy, and humanity’s natural empathy for good samaritans and the downtrodden, has this small group of powerful individuals been able to launder disastrous wars and military adventurism as “the right thing to do.” The Jo Cox Fund and the four individuals behind it truly exemplify the group of “middlemen” who engineer this manipulation at the behest of some of the world’s richest and most controversial figures.

Though over two years have passed since Cox’s murder, her death continues to be weaponized to suit this same agenda. Now, the global elite continue their fight to oust Jeremy Corbyn from power, fearful that the political triumph of a pacifist will greatly complicate their plans to keep the U.K. embroiled in endless wars abroad, serving their ever expanding economic and global power ambitions.

Yet they can succeed only by hiding their true role in their efforts to oust Corbyn and weaken Labour by dividing it. That is the precise reason that these oligarchs, through their vast fortunes, have constructed a massive inter-connected network of “humanitarian” organizations to convince us that their policies are “people-driven” when they are really “oligarch-driven.”

However, such efforts can bear fruit only under cover of darkness. Only by shining light on this nefarious network, as we have begun to do here, can the public be warned that they are being deceived. No one knows better than the oligarchs that a well-informed public is the greatest threat to their neoliberal policies, their wars, and their ultimate goal of global market monopolies and resource supremacy.

While this investigation has revealed many aspects of this oligarch-driven network, it has only scratched the surface. More work in this field is needed and we encourage any and all inquiring minds to delve deeply into this billionaire-built “humanitarian” regime-change network, exposing its true motives and its manipulative bias mobilization techniques that threaten all our futures.

 

 

[Vanessa Beeley is an independent journalist, peace activist, photographer and associate editor at 21st Century Wire. Vanessa was a finalist for one of the most prestigious journalism awards – the 2017 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism – whose winners have included the likes of Robert Parry in 2017, Patrick Cockburn, Robert Fisk, Nick Davies and the Bureau for Investigative Journalism team. You can support Vanessa’s journalism through her Patreon Page.]

[Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and a contributor to Ben Swann’s Truth in Media. Her work has appeared on Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has also made radio and TV appearances on RT and Sputnik. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.]

Inside the “Humanitarian” Regime-Change Network Exploiting Jo Cox’s Death

Mint Press

By Vanessa Beeley and Whitney Webb

 

“From the Kosovo Protection Corps in the Balkans to the White Helmets of Syria, a group of well- connected people with the fundings of governments and elite billionaires have sought to wage a war on public opinion and have recently exploited Jo Cox’s death to do so.”

 

Brendan Cox, widower of murdered British MP Jo Cox makes a speech during a gathering to celebrate her life, in Trafalgar Square, London, Wednesday, June 22, 2016. Jo Cox, a 41-year-old Labour lawmaker who had championed the cause of Syrian refugees, was stabbed and shot to death outside a library in her northern England constituency on Thursday. The suspect gave his name in court as “death to traitors, freedom for Britain.” (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

 

LONDON — The Jo Cox Fund, set up in memory of the slain MP soon after her death in 2016, was established by a cadre of pro-interventionist “humanitarians” with a history of involvement in past regime-change operations and whose connections to some of the world’s most ardent imperialists, as well as the Not for Profit Industrial Complex (NPIC), are legion. For that reason, as well as the past of Cox herself, it is hardly surprising that the fund designated among its causes the U.S. coalition-financed White Helmets, whose primary purpose has been to escalate unlawful NATO state-proxy and direct military intervention in Syria.

However, the fund’s efforts in promoting the White Helmets goes far beyond merely filling the organization’s coffers. Using lessons learned in past NATO interventions, the founders of the Jo Cox Fund — along with their financiers and associates — have used the fund’s association with the White Helmets in order to protect that group from criticism, largely by exploiting Jo Cox’s posthumous status as a modern-day saint in British politics, now known more for her “compassion” than her support of pro-interventionist policies that are hardly “humanitarian” in practice.

Thus, the Jo Cox Fund — and those behind it — not only have exploited the fund to promote the White Helmets “humanitarian” image but have also profited from their combined expertise to develop a sophisticated “public relations” machine that effectively promotes the destruction of the Syrian state.

 


This is Part II of a four-part series on the life and legacy of Jo Cox. Read part 1 here. In this part, we focus on how the people behind the Jo Cox Fund have applied strategies intended to promote foreign military intervention that was first perfected in the NATO intervention in the Balkans to the current conflict in Syria. Additionally, we examine how these players have helped develop the massive public-relations machine with the White Helmets at its center and how that machine has sought to use Cox’s death to sanctify the controversial group and shield it from scrutiny.


 

Perfecting the blueprint for “humanitarian” regime change: from the Balkans to Syria

It all began in the Balkans. The blueprint for the Syrian regime change, multi-spectrum war, and the roadmap for partitioning a sovereign nation along sectarian lines, was inaugurated in what was once known as Yugoslavia. Corporate media in the West, during the conflict and after, have diligently followed the NATO scriptnamely that the Bosnian Serbs were “motivated by a hatred of Muslims.” It was largely ignored that the Serbs wanted to protect the territorial integrity of Yugoslavia and that, in Bosnia, they opposed the concept of an Islamic fundamentalist government, which the authorities of Alija Izetbegovic were attempting to introduce.

The fact that many Bosnian Muslims — including Fikret Abdic, who was actually the true winner of the 1990 elections for the presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina — were in agreement with the Bosnian Serbs over those two key issues was largely disregarded. While Western media labelled the Bosnian Serbs as “the new Nazis,” NATO-friendly Bosnian Muslims were euphemistically labelled “rebels,” and, in Kosovo, the NATO-backed Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), an organized crime group with Islamic fundamentalist leanings and connections, was labelled as “moderate” and “democrats.”

Dr. Marcus Papadopoulos, an expert on former Yugoslavia and a frequent traveller to the region, told Mint Press News:

Yugoslavia and the Serbs were the first victims of the American-led unipolar world that emerged in 1991. Because it was in Yugoslavia — namely, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo — where the U.S. and its principal ally, Britain, together with Germany, destroyed the sanctity of internationally recognized borders; disregarded the authority of the United Nations Security Council; dealt irrevocable damage to the United Nations Charter by having undermined legitimate state authorities and having supported, with arms, training, money, logistics and intelligence information, armed secessionist movements (which comprised fascist, Islamist and organised crime groups); facilitated the arrival of Mujahideen and jihadist fighters to the region; employed their respective media outlets to demonize the people standing in the way of their objectives — the Serbs — accusing them of mass murder and genocide, thus justifying the West’s policy in the Balkans; and then directly intervened with military force to guarantee the accomplishment of their objectives.  In short, Yugoslavia was the template for Iraq, Libya and Syria.”

Acclaimed historian Mark Curtis has written extensively about the British government’s collaboration with the “pro-Jihadist forces in Kosovo” under the leadership of Iraq war-hawk, Tony Blair. In his book Secret Affairs: Britain’s Collusion with Radical Islam, Curtis concludes:

[T]he NATO bombing that began in March 1999 had the effect of deepening, not preventing, the humanitarian disaster that Milosevic’s forces inflicted on Kosovo.”

Author and academic John Laughland wrote a book detailing the travesty of justice that was the trial of Slobodan Milosevicentitled: Travesty: The Trial of Slobodan Milosevic and the Corruption of International Justice. In an opinion piece written for The Guardian in 2008, under the title “Lies of the Vigilantes,” Laughland wrote:

Slobodan Milosevic was posthumously exonerated on Monday when the international court of justice ruled that Serbia was not responsible for the 1995 massacre at Srebrenica […] The new ICC, created by Britain, also seems to operate on the basis that white men do not commit war crimes: its prosecutors are currently investigating two local wars in Africa while turning a blind eye to Iraq. Only when that hideous strength which flows from the hypocrisy of interventionism is sapped, will the world stand any chance of returning to lawfulness and peace.”

Dr. Papadopoulos also spoke to Mint Press News about the role played by Bernard Kouchner, high-profile founder of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF, or Doctors Without Borders), and former French Foreign Minister, in Kosovo:

Like Paddy Ashdown in Bosnia, Bernard Kouchner acted like a colonial-style governor in Kosovo. Mr. Kouchner played a lead role in the Western colonization of the Serbian province by, for instance, dismantling the Yugoslav civil service there and replacing it with a pro-U.S., pro-NATO and pro-EU one, and ensuring that NATO would have supervisory offices in key institutions in Kosovo.”

In a recent article published at Global Research, Dr. Papadopoulos highlights how in the summer of 1995, the Bosnian Serb army was presented with an opportunity to conquer Srebrenica and thereby end the massacres of Serb villagers in the area. According to Dr. Papadopoulos, “it was a trap set by Bill Clinton and Bosnian Muslim leader, Alija Izetbegovic, who were both looking for ‘genocide’ so that NATO would have the justification to extensively intervene in Bosnia.

Dr. Papadopoulos then describes how even Kouchner, the “colonialstyle governor” in Kosovo, admitted the lies that permeated Western media accounts of events in Bosnia.

In 2003, Kouchner interviewed Izetbegovic when the Bosnian Muslim leader was on his deathbed.  “They [the camps in Bosnia] were horrible places, but people were not systematically exterminated. Did you know that?” asked Kouchner. To which Izetbegovic replied, “Yes. I thought that my revelations could precipitate bombings. Yes, I tried, but the assertion was false. There were no extermination camps” (excerpted from Les Guerriers de la Paix: Du Kosovo a l’Iraq, Editions Grasset, 2004; published in English as The Warriors of Peace).

Even now, after analyses and counter narratives abound to challenge the NATO-aligned media versions of events in the former Yugoslaviathose who question the “official” accounts are still attacked, maligned and slandered as “genocide deniers.”

In Part 1 of this series, we outlined the role played by Mabel van Oranje in manufacturing consent for the NATO bombing campaign in the Balkans through her founding of the European Action Council for Peace in the Balkans. That “council for peace,” with van Oranje at the helm, went on to promote a bombing campaign that pounded Yugoslavia into sectarian division and chaos, from which the region has never recovered.

Another intelligence cog in the Syrian-regime-change-war apparatus was also present in Kosovo during the NATO intervention there. James Le Mesurier, who would go on to found the White Helmets in Turkey in 2013, served as intelligence coordinator for Pristina City in Kosovo soon after the NATO intervention that led to NATO being accused of war crimes for its targeting of thousands of civilians and media.

Years later, in 2015, Le Mesurier was interviewed for a Georgetown Security Studies Reviewa publication for the Center of Security Studies at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Services. The review examined the Le Mesurier-proposed “framework for demobilization and reconstruction in post-conflict Syria.” The parallels with the Kosovo operation reviewed by Le Mesurier and Georgetown Security are blatant:

These teams [White Helmets] possess many of the factors that made past demobilization efforts successful, such as the transition of the Kosovo Liberation Army to the Kosovo Protection Corps.”

In Syria, the Yugoslavia blueprint has since evolved, as the forces that destroyed Yugoslavia seek to perfect their practice of rehabilitating terrorists for the purpose of justifying foreign military intervention. In Kosovo, the KLA, a terrorist group, was rebranded as a “protection corps.” In Syria, the same “protection corps” myth was incubated with immediate effect, working in lock-step with the various terrorist and sectarian gangs that were armed, trained and financed by the U.S/U.K.-led interventionist coalition.

White Helmets promo video

Screenshot from a promotional video for the “moderate opposition” in Syria.

 

The Georgetown study argues that the White Helmets must be an integral part of the transitional process in post-conflict Syria. Despite claims of being an apolitical organization, the White Helmets would be involved in an external  “reconciliation” process managed by NATO member-states, their allies in the Gulf, and Israel, per Georgetown’s recommendations. Internal Syrian/Russian-led reconciliation processes are not even acknowledged, despite their many successes in achieving reintegration of many of the armed factions back into the fabric of Syrian secular society.

The study then claims that the Kosovo model shows that such proposed reintegration programs can succeed if they are managed by groups like the White Helmets and similar local actors aligned with the U.S coalition policy of toppling the Syrian government. The lofty claims of promoting “stability on multiple fronts” should ring hollow considering the role of the NATO member-states in fomenting instability and chaos in a recalcitrant sovereign nation to force compliance with their supremacist geo-strategic objectives in the region. Effectively, the White Helmets are the entry point of the shadow-state wedge that has been plunged deep into the heart of Syrian society and culture.

 

The Balkans, the Jo Cox Foundation and James Le Mesurier

Unsurprisingly, the Jo Cox Foundation retrospectively endorses the NATO intervention in 1999 and upholds the narratives that manufactured consent for this NATO-state unlawful aggression that was never legitimized by a UN mandate.

Jo Cox named her first child Lejla, in memory of a “Bosniak genocide victim she met at Srebrenica.” Cox based much of her argumentation for military intervention in Syria upon the dubious and deadly case for military interference in the Balkans.

In February 2018, Brendan Cox resigned from both the Jo Cox Foundation and More In Common after sensationally admitting to being a repeat-offending “sex-pest” during his time working for Save the Children (STC). This followed new allegations that Cox drunkenly grabbed a woman by the throat, forced her against the wall of a London bar, and told her “I want to f**k you.” Cox had resigned from STC in 2015 after accusations of harassment and indecent behavior had forced his ignominious departure.

Brendan Cox had started working with orphans and children in Sarajevo when he was just 18 years old. In a speech given in Kirkcaldy, Scotland, in March 2017, under the auspices of the Jo Cox Foundation, Cox stated that he had been “working to counter extremism and hatred long before it attacked his own family.” Cox’s journey began in the former Yugoslavia, where he worked with “survivors of the siege of Sarajevo” and continued for the “next ten years.” Cox claims to have spent every summer and Christmas running “holiday camps, volunteering in orphanages and teaching in schools.” Cox worked with “children from Moster, Vukovar and Srebrenica”

James Le Mesurier’s Balkans career path is a little more intricate than previously revealed. After speaking to sources in Serbia, his role has been clarified in greater detail.

In 1998 Le Mesurier was seconded to the Office of the High Representative (OHR) for Bosnia and Herzegovina, under Carlos Westendorp, before being sent to Kosovo in summer of 1999 after the deployment of KFOR (Kosovo Force) to the province.

From July 1999 – 2000, Le Mesurier was appointed Intelligence Coordinator for Pristina City, acting as liaison officer between Intel officers of different national contingents in KFOR. Le Mesurier left the British Army in 2000.

From January 2001 – February 2002, Le Mesurier was Deputy Head of the Advisory Unit on Security and Justice and the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) Hans Haekkerup’s security policy body within the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). In this position, Le Mesurier acted as political advisor to the UN Police Commissioner and represented the SRSG on civil-military-police coordination bodies. He led interdepartmental working groups, developing regulatory regimes for private security companies and weapon possession and control.

From February 2002 – July 2003, Le Mesurier was advisor on economic crime with the EU Mission in Kosovo, supporting units countering money laundering, terrorism, smuggling, anti-corruption and financial disclosure.

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The Bernard Kouchner connection

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets with Bernard Kouchner at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, Sept. 27, 2010 David Karp | AP

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets with Bernard Kouchner at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, Sept. 27, 2010 David Karp | AP

 

In 1999, MSF was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Bernard Kouchner was one of the original co-founders of MSF and in 1999 he arrived in Pristina as the UN Special Representative to Kosovo, elected by Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General at the time. Kouchner served as head of UNMIK from July 1999 until January 2001. Kouchner also has a history of high-level involvement in interventionist campaigns from Romania in 1989 and including Haiti, Sudan, Iraq, Libya and the more recent, ongoing Syrian and Ukrainian NATO-led regime change projects.

According to the Serbian sources who described Le Mesurier’s role in greater detail, Le Mesurier would have been under the direction of Kouchner in Pristina:

Bernard Kouchner was UN Special Representative until mid-January 2001. Le Mesurier left the British Army (where he served as an intel coordinator for City of Pristina) in mid-2000. Therefore, it is clear that he was given a job by Kouchner.”

Kouchner’s tenure in Kosovo was plagued by controversy and accusations of involvement in human and organ traffickingmasterminded by the Albanian mafia gangs within the KLA.  We will examine this element in greater detail in the final part of this series, which will outline the possibility of a far more nefarious role played by the White Helmets as an integral part of the global human-trafficking schemes that benefit from the chaos of conflict and war.

In this video, Kouchner responds to questions about the “yellow houses” that were the suspected center of the organ-trafficking trade. Victims, the majority of whom were Serbs, had been taken from Kosovo to Albania where their organs were brutally removed. Kouchner responds with laughter and calls the reporter “stupid, insane.”

Carla Del Ponte, former chief prosecutor for war crimes in former Yugoslavia, detailed these crimes in her book The Hunt: Me and the War Criminals, which was published in 2008 just after Kosovo declared its independence. In 2010 an interim report by the Council of Europe vindicated Del Ponte’s claims, which had garnered skepticism and criticism from the NATO-aligned media and spokespeople. Del Ponte persistently complained, at the time, that UN authorities in Kosovo were systematically blocking her investigations into crimes committed by the Kosovan Albanians in the KLA and the rebranded Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC):

The allegations are macabre and shocking. In the closing days of the Kosovo conflict, hundreds of civilians were allegedly kidnapped by Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) guerrillas and transported to neighboring Albania. There, dozens were killed and their organs “harvested” to be sold abroad. The victims included Serbs, Russians, and at least one Albanian.” (Allegations of Organ Trafficking in Del Ponte Memoir Spark Scandal)

So, in Kosovo we saw the early interconnecting links that would later expand into Syria and into the establishment of soft-power structures that would infiltrate Syrian society and provide justification for the criminalization of the Syrian government and its allies. We witnessed the curiously coincidental positioning of actors such as Kouchner, Le Mesurier and even Cox — all of whom would move on to take a pivotal role in the Syrian regime-change war.

Kouchner parted company with MSF in 1979 but subsequently founded Medecins du Monde (Doctors of the World). His has been one of the most strident anti-Syrian government voices in Western media and among the ruling elite organizations that have driven the narratives on Syria in the West. In 2013, Kouchner accompanied John McCain on a clandestine tour of Syria, smuggled in illegally by armed extremist factions. In 2012, Huffington Post published an article co-authored by French war-orchestrator Bernard-Henri Levy and Bernard Kouchner, Jacques Beres, Mario Bettati and Andre Glucksmann. It was entitled “Enough Evasion, We Must Intervene in Syria!”

Did Brendan Cox cross paths with Le Mesurier and Kouchner or both? Was it a coincidence that they all operated in the same interventionist theatre at the same time? Why have Cox and Le Mesurier never emphasized the crimes committed by the Kosovar Albanians against the Serbs? Why have they been silent (to our knowledge) on the organ trade and human trafficking that would have potentially preyed on the very orphanages where Cox worked during his summer holidays?

Probably the most telling element in the updated description of James Le Mesurier’s role is that he was instrumental in the conversion of the KLA, consisting of Al Qaeda elements alongside the Kosovar Albanian warlords, into the rebranded Kosovo ‘Protection’ Corps. This blueprint has clearly been carried forward into Syria with the creation of the White Helmets to merge with and offer protection for the extremist groups, including Al Qaeda. We have also seen similar rebranding exercises for Al Qaeda in Syria: Al Nusra Front has been given a number of new identities in an effort to disassociate it from its terrorist origins.

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The White Helmets PR machine and the Jo Cox Fund

Having perfected the blueprint of “humanitarian” regime change in the Balkans, many of the same players, along with their proteges and the reincarnations of certain pro-intervention NGOs, have since been sought to apply this model to other “rogue” states deemed regime-change targets, such as Syria.

In Syria, the White Helmets have been crucial to these efforts aimed at disguising the destruction and plundering of the Syrian state as an exercise in “humanitarianism.” Unsurprisingly, the White Helmets’ reputation as “humanitarians” and “good-doers” has been promoted by a highly sophisticated and interconnected nexus of NGOs that have consistently perpetuated falsehoods about the Syrian conflict in service to reviving this blueprint — first developed in Kosovo —  once more in Syria. Many of the NGOs at the heart of this nexus count among their most influential members the same four individuals who formed the Jo Cox Fund in 2016.

Of the organizations most deeply involved in this effort, several stand out for their capacity to shift public opinion, their creation and co-opting of popular movements, and their ability to manipulate popular sentiment through the use of petitions, social media campaigns and other related strategies. Groups like Purpose, Avaaz and Change.org are arguably the most notable of these organizations and two of the founders of the Jo Cox Fund are intimately involved in their leadership.

For instance, Tim Dixon, once a speechwriter for Australian prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard, is an experienced corporate and political strategist who shifted his focus to “humanitarian” NGOs after 2010 — co-founding Purpose Europe after joining Purpose New York in 2011, and subsequently the pro-intervention Syria campaign. Dixon also shares deep connections to Avaaz, which helped create Purpose, through Dixon’s collaboration with his “professional associate” Jeremy Heimans, who helped found Avaaz and co-founded Purpose.

Screenshot Jeremy Heimans

Screenshot supplied by Cory Morningstar’s website, The Art of Annihilation – Angels and Demons: Otherwise Known as the Conquerors and the Conquered – Revisionist Linguistics.

 

Dixon has also collaborated with Brendan Cox for years, as together they have been “instrumental” in reshaping the “refugee” narrative “through opinion research, message development, popular movement-building and campaigning to reach mainstream audiences.” Then, after Jo Cox’s death, Dixon, Brendan Cox and Gemma Mortensen — another Jo Cox Fund co-founder — created the organization More In Common, which claims to work “to build stronger and more inclusive democratic societies that are resilient to the threats of populism and division.”

People hold signs during a Jo Cox memorial in Trafalgar Square, London, June 22, 2016. Alastair Grant | AP

People hold signs during a Jo Cox memorial in Trafalgar Square, London, June 22, 2016. Alastair Grant | AP

 

However, as will be shown in a moment, the connections among these three significantly pre-date More In Common, as all three were intimately involved in the pro-intervention “humanitarian” group Crisis Action Network.

Jeremy Heimans Avaaz

 

Avaaz and Purpose often focus the campaigns they develop at “rogue” nations that challenge U.S. empire. As journalist and researcher Jay Taber wrote for Cory Morningstar’s Wrong Kind of Green: “When challenges to U.S. hegemony arise — such as in Bolivia, Libya, Syria, Burundi and Congo — Avaaz and Purpose create campaigns to discredit and destabilize these independent governments.” By dressing up these campaigns that are American empire-driven in the illusion that they are entirely “people driven” by local communities, these groups are capable of falsifying narratives about a country’s political climate on a massive scale.

Avaaz Syria

Activist’ group Avaaz demands former U.S President Barack Obama impose a No Fly Zone in Syria – June 2015.

Avaaz and Purpose have used campaigns they have created to great effect within Syria, particularly through campaigns that sprang up early on in the Syrian conflict in support of the so-called “revolution,” as well as through their creation of the Bambuser platform that allowed Syrian opposition “activists” to upload video footage that on several occasions was later shown to be falsified. Eventually, in 2018, the platform was closed down but not before a number of the falsified videos had been downloaded by watchful researchers and journalists.

Shortly after the creation of Bambuser, Avaaz campaign manager Pascal Vollenweider had bragged that Avaaz had helped “kickstart” the Syrian “revolution” by equipping these “citizen journalists” and giving them the tools to produce multimedia used to further false narratives about the reality of the Syrian conflict.

Watch | Avaaz campaign manager brags about “kick-starting” the Syrian conflict:

One of those Avaaz-sponsored campaigns, “Smuggle Hope into Syria,” was initially highly effective in promoting the false narrative of a people-driven revolution waged by heroic “rebels” and centered around “Danny” Abdul Dayem’s efforts to raise $2.5 million for communication equipment needed by “citizen journalists” who were promoting the “rebel” cause. However, one of “Danny’s” videos that had aired on CNN was exposed as fake soon after, as were similar Avaaz and Purpose-backed videos produced by other “citizen journalists” like Khalid Abu Salah.

Since then, Avaaz and Purpose have heavily promoted a NATO-imposed “no fly zone” in Syria, without ever mentioning the dangers such a policy would pose to the Syrian civilians or the fact that such measures are historically precursors to large-scale military action. Furthermore, without ever providing proof, Avaaz has routinely accused Russia and the Syrian government of committing “coordinated atrocities” against media personnel and journalists in rebel-held areas of Syria. In addition, Avaaz has directly raised more than $2 million for the White Helmets.

Syria Protest Avaaz

Avaaz stages a protest with fake corpses and actors masked as Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad on June 7, 2012 near the United Nations in New York. Bebeto Matthews | AP

 

Another organization that has operated in Syria and elsewhere among similar lines is Change.org, whose Chief Global Officer from 2016 to 2017 was Gemma Mortensen, another co-founder of the Jo Cox Fund. Change.org has been found to deliberately manipulate petitions on its page when they challenge the Western narrative on Syria, such as their removal — during Mortensen’s tenure — of a petition campaigning against the White Helmets’ nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize, despite the fact that the petition garnered more than double the number of signatures than had the petition calling for the group to be given the prize. At the time, Change.org claimed the petition rejecting the White Helmets’ nomination for the prize had “violated community standards.”

However, the most influential of this type, at least where Syria is considered, has been the Syria Campaign. The group was co-founded by Dixon and Mortensen in 2014 with funding from Ayman Asfari, the Syrian-in-exile oil baron living in England, who has donated almost £700,000 since 2009 to the U.K. Conservative Party. As was noted in Part I of this series, Asfari has been very influential in driving the false narratives about the Syrian conflict that are promoted by Western governments.

With Asfari’s funding, the Syria Campaign has officially sought to amplify “moderate” and “democratic” voices in the Syrian opposition. In practice, the Syria Campaign, along with its progenitor Purpose, have managed public relations for the White Helmets, creating high-quality multimedia content and even the group’s website, in order to promote the White Helmets in the mainstream media and on social media — essentially directing the group’s branding thousands of miles away from Syria, in their New York office.

Most notably, however, the Syria Campaign has led the lion’s share of White Helmet fundraising efforts from individual donations in the West in order to secure the “funding that they [the White Helmets] so desperately deserve.” Even though the White Helmets have received millions of dollars from NATO member states and Gulf states, the Syria Campaign urges would-be donors to “give generously.”

In addition, just like Avaaz, Purpose and the White Helmets themselves, the Syria campaign has actively pushed for a “no fly zone” in Syria, one that would require the deployment of 70,000 U.S. soldiers to enforce and would risk embroiling the U.S. in a full-scale war against the Syrian state and Russia. More recently, it promoted the hashtag #Act4Daraa, which sought to pressure the UN Security Council to prevent the Syrian government’s now-successful effort to eliminate Western sponsored extremist and ISIS pockets in Syria’s south.

Furthermore, the Syria Campaign has been intimately involved in attempting to silence critics of the White Helmets. In its report titled “Killing the Truth: How Russia is fuelling a disinformation campaign to cover up war crimes in Syria,” the Syria Campaign calls for technology and social media companies to block criticism of the White Helmets and pro-intervention narratives as they are “polluting the public debate central to any healthy democracy.” The report — which mentions Vanessa Beeley, co-author of this article series, by name — further urges news organizations to “not give conspiracy theorists a platform in the name of balance,” as alternative narratives “cloud the truth.” In effect, the Syria Campaign has been at the forefront of attempts to silence those who are exposing the murkier aspects of the White Helmets and the billionaire network pulling their strings.

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Ayman Asfari extends influence in Syria

In May 2016, the Asfari Foundation (covered in part 1 of this series) teamed up with the Said Foundation to raise money for the Hands Up for Syria Appeal. The Asfari and Said Foundations matched the £ 3.997 million that was raised for “millions of young children” deprived of an education during the seven-year conflict in Syria. Speakers at the event included then-British Prime Minister David Cameron; David Miliband — President and CEO of International Rescue Committee; and actress Cate Blanchett, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador. Prince Charles sent a video message emphasizing the importance of education to the rebuilding of Syria.

Ayman Asfari at the The Hands Up for Syria Appeal, May 2016, has raised £3,997,928 from ‘generous donors’. Photo | Hands Up Foundation

Ayman Asfari at The Hands Up for Syria Appeal, May 2016, has raised £3,997,928 from ‘generous donors’. Photo | Hands Up Foundation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Again there was no mention of the root cause of the issues being highlighted. Money was effectively raised to treat the symptoms of the British imperialist project inside Syria that violates international law on many counts. Why would the British monarch-in-waiting have any involvement in the “rebuilding” of a sovereign nation that his successive Tory governments have, alongside their allies in the U.S. coalition of proxy terror, systematically destabilized and weakened?

The money raised will be funneled into Idlib via the Hands Up Foundation, which claims to raise money for “vital health services” in North West Syria, a region infested with all manner of extremist and terrorist groups. Many of those groups have been evacuated to Idlib from liberated areas of Syria such as East Aleppo and Eastern Ghouta, increasing the numbers of armed, hostile groups in the area. It is worth remembering that OPCW refused to enter this area after the alleged chemical attacks in Khan Sheikhoun April 2017 because the risk of beheading or kidnapping was too high.

Hands Up Foundation operates in partnership with SAMS (Syrian American Medical Society), which works with the White Helmets alongside the controlling extremist factions where they are based. SAMS is a predominantly Chicago based, Muslim Brotherhood organization that receives copious funding from USAID, the U.S. State Department outreach agent for CIA clandestine operations against target nations. USAID has also donated $31 million to the White Helmets via Chemonics, one of its many subcontractors.

While 85 percent of inhabited Syria under Syrian government protection and control suffers under the weight of U.S./U.K./EU imposed sanctions that have targeted the Syrian state health sector, Hands Up Foundation is raising money for “medical salaries” of $150,000 per year at a health clinic “south of Aleppo.” Another project claims to be raising $105,000 for “medical training” in Idlib City, which was invaded by Nusra Front (Al Qaeda) in March 2015 — an invasion that resulted in the summary executions of civilians who were deemed “Shabiha,” a term that designates loyalty to the Syrian government, state and Syrian Arab Army. The White Helmets were filmed alongside the terrorist fighters, celebrating and participating in brutality against civilians.

According to Hands Up Foundation accounts for 2017, it has received a three year organizational development grant of £150,000  from the Asfari and SAID Foundations, “central” to achieving its aims in Idlib. While HUF makes claims of transparency and a document trail to recipients of its funding, there is nothing available to that effect on the website. Money is raised through its Syrian Supper Club, Marmalaid, and Singing for Syrians projects.

HUF focuses on three medical clinics, one in Reyhanli on the Turkish border and two inside northern Syria, in partnership with SAMS, which also operates in these areas. The placement of these clinics is important and will be examined in greater depth in Part 4.

Hands Up Foundation Syria

The Said Foundation also appears to be involved in the training of paramedics in the same region of Syria — at the Bab Al Hawa hospital, in partnership with U.K.-registered charity Syria Relief. While the White Helmets are not mentioned, it is safe to assume that this “aid” will be heading their way. The screenshot is from an archive of this page on the Said website, as it now requires a “login” to view the information.

The clusters of medical centers supported by these foundations and charities are based exclusively in areas occupied by and under the control of U.S. coalition-backed armed groups. How do we know that the funding is not ending up in the hands of those groups as part of the “moderate opposition” bankrolling scheme?

Syria M10 Hospital

Inside the Nusra Front-controlled M10 Hospital in Sakhour, East Aleppo. UOSSM and SAMS stickers were posted next to a statement made by terrorist factions in Libya warning Syrian extremist factions to deny “Democracy.” Photo | Vanessa Beeley

 

Syria Relief comes under the umbrella of UOSSM (Union of Medical Care and Relief Organisations), founded in France in 2012. UOSSM makes the same lofty claims as the White Helmets: “To support the health and well being of individuals and communities affected by the Syrian crisis regardless of nationality, ethnicity, gender, religion, or political affiliation.” The Union includes SAMS. In my experience of entering the hospitals of East Aleppo after liberation in December 2016, SAMS and UOSSM stickers and logos could be seen on the walls of all the medical centers that had been overrun and requisitioned by Nusra Front, Ahrar Al Sham and other extremist groups. Those hospitals included the infamous M10 hospital next door to Nusra Front and White Helmet headquarters in Sakhour, East Aleppo.

Watch |  In April 2018 Independent French Humanitarian Pierre Le Corf runs through the logos on the l of the M10 hospital. It includes a message from terrorists in Libya for the terrorists in Syria saying that “Democracy is for Kafirs (non-believers)”

Again and again, we demonstrate the close-knit regime-change community, as diverse as it is deadly for Syria and the Syrian people, who have endured seven years of war owing largely to the efforts of these organizations to sustain the narratives that dupe people in the West into believing in the case for “humanitarian” intervention. An intervention that obfuscates the underlying causes while amplifying the fraudulent cover stories for another neocon destabilization campaign in Syria.

The diversity and complex branding of all these foundations, think tanks, organizations, NGOs, and associated charities can be compared to the rebranding of the terrorist groups, in particular Nusra Front (Al Qaeda). It serves to confuse, to bury the evidence of involvement in questionable activities deep inside the soft-power-complex underbelly.

 

A closer look at Crisis Action

The smart-power complex that generates support for the White Helmets is vast and powerful. At the center of the NGO Hydra is an organization that remains in the shadows, a more clandestine behavioral insight guru that motivates and directs other members of the cartel, rather than taking center stage.

Crisis Action brings together Tim Dixon, Gemma Mortensen and Brendan Cox, who was instrumental in the incubation of this influential body of policy makers. Cox was executive director from June 2006 to January 2009. As Gemma Mortensen says, “We [Crisis Action] need to stay behind the scenes because that is the way in which partners will genuinely see that we are in it for the benefit of the collective work, not to promote ourselves.”

Gemma Mortensen was with Crisis Action from August 2006 to August 2015. She joined in 2006 as a Senior Political Analyst and progressed to U.K. Director, before becoming Executive Director in 2009. Crisis Action describes itself as a “global network of the leading human rights, humanitarian and foreign policy organizations; harnessing their expertise to mount joint campaigns to ensure world leaders uphold their collective obligations to protect civilians in situations of conflict.” Another catalyst for global change in a direction that will be governed by the sponsors’ objectives.

In 2013 Crisis Action was awarded a Ford Foundation grant as one of the seven NGOs to reshape the global human rights movement. Its “innovative model for conflict prevention” has been recognized by the 2012 MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions and the 2013 Skoll Foundation Award for Social Entrepreneurship. According to the Crisis Action annual report for 2017, Mabel Van Oranje is on the Board, thus almost closing the circle of the Jo Cox Fund originators’ involvement in this behind-the-scenes conflict “management” team.

Mabel at Crisis Action

Crisis Action partners are an impressive collection of “all the big human rights organizations,” including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Oxfam, Save the Children, Mercy Corps, International Crisis Group, and many more NGOs that work as extensions of U.S./U.K. state foreign policy in a chosen conflict zone. In fact, the Crisis Action network is one of the most expansive webs of the NGOs prevalent in providing cover for multiple regime-change wars.

Among tHe Syria-related NGOs we find: Syria Campaign, Avaaz, 38 Degrees (branch of Avaaz), UN Foundation, Mosaic Syria, Chatham House, InterAction. These also include the Muslim Council of Britain, heavily influenced by Islamist organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood, which have long been an instrument of destabilization in Syria and the region for the U.S. coalition.

Many of these Crisis Action partners were listed as supporters of the White Helmets in the run-up to the Nobel Peace Prize in 2016, when the White Helmets failed in their bid to join such luminaries as Henry Kissinger and Barack Obama on the Nobel Peace Prize podium. Many observers were horrified to see Greenpeace (member of the Crisis Action coalition) publicly support the White Helmets.

When members of the public wrote to Greenpeace to question its judgment, they all received a standard response. This response, that basically dismisses criticism of the White Helmets as being generated by the “extreme right” or “supporters of Syria or Russia”, is the same argument used across all platforms defending the White Helmets. This uniformity of response might suggest that it is coming from a central source, perhaps the “friends at the Syria Campaign”,  and being fed to the organizations caught wittingly or unwittingly in the web of the anti-Syria soft power complex.

Greenpeace appeared to make no effort to engage with the questions, the evidence presented or the concerns of the public regarding the White Helmets. If the response is indicative of Greenpeace’s actual position, at the very least that is negligence on their part, at worst they must be considered to be compromised by their association with Crisis Action. As a major behavior influencing organization, Greenpeace owes it to their public sponsors to not mislead or misrepresent events in Syria. Particularly when that misrepresentation will inevitably support narratives provided by the White Helmets, designed to maintain external military and economic pressure upon Syria and its allies and to prolong the war, rather than foster peace.

Thanks for your message. I’m sorry to hear that you disagree with us posting about the work of the White Helmets.

 

We have looked at the claims made against the White Helmets, but found a lack of evidence and inconsistency in the allegations. Opposition also seems to be based on opposition to NATO policy, which in turn seems to be based on support for the Syrian government and the Russians.

 

The people making these claims are also questionable. For example, extreme right wing US politician Ron Paul, who thinks global warming is a hoax.

 

The White Helmets have the support of our friends at the Syria Campaign, and also the late MP Jo Cox, who was very knowledgeable on these issues. They also have 133 organisations backing their bid for the Nobel Peace Prize, which includes a number of highly respected organisations from around the world.”  (emphasis added)

The list of the organizations and individuals backing the White Helmets is certainly impressive and comprises many key actors from the Crisis Action NGO pool or those otherwise linked to Jo Cox. Another example of the exploitation of the murder of Jo Cox and the harnessing of her high profile and contacts to expand the support base for the U.K/U.S. White Helmet project in Syria. The Crisis Action machiavellian efforts certainly seem to have paid dividends for the White Helmets and their backers. Would we see such efforts being made for Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) or even for the REAL Syria Civil Defence, whose name has been stolen by the White Helmets and their marketing teams?

Asaad Hanna, the White Helmet Media and Advocacy Manager, is a regular contributor to Chatham House, according to his own CV. Chatham House is a U.K. government-linked policy influencer that has consistently promoted the White Helmets, even screening their Oscar-winning Netflix Documentary in October 2016, despite the mounting controversy surrounding the group of questionable “humanitarians.”

It is noteworthy that Hanna states that he is “managing a team of 150 media people in Syria and the office of the headquarters out of Syria.” As Peter Ford, former U.K. ambassador to Syria from 2003 to 2006, pointed out in Whitewashing the White Helmets: “They [the White Helmets] have a press department 150 strong, bigger than that for the whole of the UK ambulance service.”

InterAction, another “united voice for global change” and Crisis Action partner, was on the verge of giving Raed Saleh, leader of the White Helmets, the 2016 “Humanitarian Award” when he was unexpectedly deported from Dulles Airport because of his “extremist connections.”

Crisis Action lays claim to being a member of the NPIC (Not for Profit Industrial Complex) while stating:

We receive financial support from a range of foundations, governments and private individuals, many of which provide unrestricted multi-year funding. In addition, all of Crisis Action’s core partners make an annual financial contribution, with the exception of those located in the Global South.”

Crisis Action plays a pivotal role in swaying policy makers towards the agenda of their powerful donors and sponsors, which include Ford Foundation, Humanity Utd, Rockefeller Foundation, Skoll Foundation, George Soros Open Society Foundation, Sundance Institute, and a number of other major foundations. Canada, Sweden, Norway and Switzerland sponsor Crisis Action via their foreign affairs ministries.

According to its report and statements from its sponsors, Crisis Action has heavily influenced and covertly managed events in Sudan, Congo, Gaza, Afghanistan, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Libya and Syria.Crisis Action claims to amplify the voices of Syrian heroes — which include the White Helmets, lauded by Crisis Action as an “awe inspiring feature of the last six years”. This will be further explored in Part 3.

As already mentioned, Crisis Action supported the White Helmet nomination for the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize, which “they sadly didn’t win” and celebrated the Oscar win for the Netflix documentary. Crisis Action worked with partners to secure a series of high-level meetings for the White Helmets in Brussels, Paris and London. Is this the extreme level of PR marketing and brand management we should expect for a “grass-roots” bunch of “bakers, tailors, engineers, students, carpenters, painters and pharmacists,” as the script goes?

With emphasis added, the Crisis Action Report states:

Crisis Action was privileged to work with the White Helmets, providing them platforms to engage decision-makers from Berlin to Washington DC. Their powerful testimony of their work put a human face on a grim conflict, shattering the prejudice that all Syrians are refugees or rebels, and motivating politicians and individuals to act on Syria who wouldn’t have done so otherwise.

Crisis Action also collaborated with Bond, which is the umbrella group for British overseas development agencies, “to help shape a vision for Britain’s role in the world, post-Brexit. In the face of growing nationalism and antipathy towards immigrants,” Bond and Crisis Action collaborated to help their “partners” to influence the U.K.’s main political parties on the refugee crisis, aid, and climate change.

Jo Cox White Helmets

Ciaran Norris was political affairs advisor at Bond from 2014 to 2016, before he became director of the Rising Global Peace Forum (RGPF) from 2016 to 2017. Norris is currently head of external affairs at Oxfam. While Director at RGPF, Norris awarded the Peace Prize in 2016 to Jo Cox and the White Helmets:

The volunteers of Syria Civil Defence (aka The White Helmets) and the late Labour MP Jo Cox – who championed their heroism amongst so many other causes – are the perfect examples of people dedicated to peace. In our view, there could be no more deserving recipients for this prize and it is all the more significant that we recognise them together.”

A #LoveLikeJo tribute video emerged from this prize-giving ceremony, featuring Alison McGovern MP, White Helmet Munir Mustafa, and Nick Martlew, and was chaired by Norris. The panel reflected on the life of Jo Cox bringing the White Helmets more publicly into the fold of the global change manufacturers.

Munir Mustafa has since featured in Robert Stuart’s forensic investigation into BBC Panorama’s “Saving Syria’s Children” that has caused substantial waves among corporate media hierarchy in the U.K. Stuart’s work has involved “analysis of the 30 September 2013 BBC Panorama documentary ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ and related BBC News reports, contending that sequences filmed by BBC personnel and others at Atareb Hospital, Aleppo on 26 August 2013 purporting to show the aftermath of an incendiary bomb attack on a nearby school are largely, if not entirely, staged.” As a part of his investigation, Stuart exposed Mustafa as having connections to armed, extremist groups in areas occupied by the White Helmets. This inconvenient truth was overlooked by the organizers of the RGPF.

The global policy-influencing market is a very lucrative one for the board members and employees of Crisis Action. According to its 2017 annual report, Crisis Action received £3.1 million from its government and foundation sponsors. Their salaries andrelated costs came to a whopping £2.33 million, a huge percentage of their income.

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Crisis Action case study: Hamza al Khatib

Beyond its dubious connections to powerful governments and organizations and its “supportive” role to the White Helmets, Crisis Action has directly promoted specific members of the group despite their known ties to extremists and unsavory pasts. By obfuscating the reality of the situation and elevating these individuals to practical sainthood, Crisis Action provides numerous examples of how elite-connected NGOs serve as PR agencies for the terrorist-linked foot soldiers of covert regime-change operations.

A clear example of Crisis Action’s role in promoting such dubious individuals for the sake of narrative is Hamza Al Khatib, who at one time was ubiquitously described as one of the “Last Doctors in Aleppo,” particularly during the final battles between the Syrian allied forces and Western-backed extremist factions just prior to final liberation of East Aleppo in December 2016.

This label was shamefully misleading on the part of the Western media, as it effectively “disappeared” the 4,000-plus doctors operating in Syrian government-secured West Aleppo, who had been extending aid into East Aleppo at the request of the Syrian Government — until the occupying militant groups began to refuse them entry in 2016.

The colonial media battalion stepped up its hyperbole war as the curtains came down upon the regime-change project they had supported in East Aleppo for almost five years at the expense of the Syrian civilians being held hostage, used as human shields, starved, tortured and abused by the extremist gangs the media euphemistically labelled “rebels.”

Mortensen’s petition platform, Change.org, joined the throngs of Al Khatib supporters alongside the Crisis Action campaigns. Over 779,000 signatures were allegedly achieved on the petition that called upon its global community to “make the world a better place” by supporting a “doctor who risked death to save lives”. A team of Change.org “PR professionals” produced reports on a variety of platforms to reinforce the emotive messaging. A.J.Walton, one such “PR professional,” reached out on Medium and outlined the organizations that supported this campaign:

Change.org is fortunate to partner with great humanitarian organizations. A few such organizations are Oxfam America, Mercy Corps, and USA for UNHCR, all working to help the victims of the Syrian conflict.”

An entire PR network rallied around the dying embers of the “revolution” in East Aleppo, drawing on their global supremacy in the information market to attempt to turn the tide of public consensus that was rapidly seeing through their firewall of lies. Al Khatib directly called upon “World leaders to save our lives in Aleppo” via the Change.org petition.

A Change.org petition raised in conjunction with a Crisis Action campaign to amplify the voices of East Aleppo’s “Last Doctors” during final Syrian/Russian military operations to liberate the enclave from Western client terrorist groups.

A Change.org petition raised in conjunction with a Crisis Action campaign to amplify the voices of East Aleppo’s “Last Doctors” during final Syrian/Russian military operations to liberate the enclave from Western client terrorist groups.

 

Abdo Haddad is a representative of the ancient Christian town of Maaloula who has spent considerable time raising awareness on the origins of the Syrian conflict, in Europe and further afield. The town is 56 km northeast of Damascus and was built into the craggy mountains that rise out of the surrounding plains. It is one of the few remaining places in the world where Aramaic is still spoken and taught in schools. Maaloula was briefly and brutally occupied by Nusra Front-led forces in 2013 before being liberated by local Christian militia, SAA and Hezbollah in 2014.

Haddad shared his observations on Al Khatib with MintPress News and reported:

Hamza Al Khatib is a pseudonym; his real name is Zaher Emad Katerji. Here he is photographed surveying battle maps with Fastaqim, one of the many extremist groups occupying East Aleppo… I took these screenshots and photos from his social media accounts … many of the posts have since been deleted.”

Hamza Al Khatib

Haddad also explained to MintPress that he had checked on Al Khatib/Katerji’s Aleppo University medical degree status.

Hamza Al Khatib medical exams

“According to the Syrian Arab Republic Ministry of Higher Education documents, Al Khatib (Katerji) failed his final medical exams. He was not a qualified doctor”

 

Haddad had spent some time going through Al Khatib’s Facebook posts and translating conversations to get a better picture of the darker side of the “heroic Last Doctor.”

 

Hamza Al Khatib Al Zinki

In the photo above, taken from the Facebook page of Reuters photographer Abdelrhman Ismail, we see Hamza Al Khatib with his arm around Mayof Abu Bahr, one of the Nour Al Din Zinki beheaders of 12-year-old Abdullah Issa in July 2016, 200 meters from the Al Ansari White Helmet center that featured in the Oscar-nominated Last Men in Aleppo.

 

11 june 2016 Hamza Khatib convo

Haddad told MintPress:

Al Khatib knew that the local foreign-backed organizations, like the local councils and the so-called civil defence [White Helmets], were thieves and criminals; but he never mentioned that fact to the media channels who relied upon his testimony.”

20th Jan 2017 Khatib left mines etc

Haddad also pointed out:

Al Khatib was described by Western media outlets as some kind of saint. Do ‘saints’ leave mines and IEDs, booby traps to murder more civilians after they have been evacuated out of danger by the Syrian government in the green buses? Conversations that Al Khatib had on Facebook with his cronies demonstrate that he personally made sure these hidden killers were planted in East Aleppo residential areas.”

Finally, Haddad described how Al Khatib had clearly witnessed the execution of at least one SAA prisoner-of-war by the militant groups, but had never thought to mention these atrocities to Western media.

Hamza Al Khatib execution

In this post Al Khatib discusses the apparent execution of an SAA soldier in East Aleppo with Mayof Abu Bahr. (Nour Al Din Zinki).”

 

Crisis Action and Change.org were responsible for the whitewashing of crimes committed by the U.S. coalition armed groups in East Aleppo just as surely as Al Khatib participated in them or denied their existence in his reports on events in the beleaguered enclave.

“I consider Al Khatib a traitor to Syria and to his own people” Haddad told Mint Press, adding:

Al Khatib played a criminal role in enabling the terrorist occupation of East Aleppo; he watched Syrians die under foreign-financed  torture and sectarian violence but said nothing. Is that the work of a genuine “doctor” or even a decent human being?”

 

Conclusion

From the Kosovo Protection Corps in the Balkans to the White Helmets of Syria, a group of well- connected people with the fundings of governments and elite billionaires have sought to wage a war on public opinion and to maintain a monopoly on the prevailing narrative. By using time-tested strategies to mobilize public outrage within the very countries whose governments fund and promote these emissaries of false “humanitarian” narratives, these individuals and those behind them seek to pull at our heart strings in order to manufacture public consent for destructive regime-change operations that leave a trail of bloodshed and failed states in their wake.

This model, perfected in the Balkans, has been used to great effect in Syria with the help of many of the same individuals who have worked to disguise a regime-change operation originally planned by powerful, corrupt interests. The favored Empire narrative producer this time is a “ragtag, grass-roots band of ordinary altruists from all walks of life,” more commonly known as the White Helmets. However, even a rudimentary examination of the White Helmets funding and their extensive PR network, as well as the true nature of the group, negates any notion of “humanitarian” motivation guiding the group itself or its Western and Gulf State masters.

This callous, calculating manipulation of humanitarianism for the profit and expansion of Western empire is made all too clear in the destruction that these narratives and their principal actors have wrought upon Syria — helping to prolong the conflict and, as a consequence, increase the horrifying toll on Syria’s beleaguered population. The Syrian people are faced with widespread destruction of infrastructure, displacement and long term trauma from the effects of this predatory campaign waged by the West against a sovereign nation.

As we will see in Part 3 of this series, the web of the main actors driving this manipulation of narratives and public opinion shares innumerable connections to prestigious “charitable” organizations as well as to each other. Notably, the founders of the Jo Cox Fund — Tim Dixon, Nick Grono, Mabel van Oranje, Gemma Mortensen, and Brendan Cox — have not only been at the forefront of such efforts in Syria, but they have all spent the majority of their careers engaged in similar efforts to whitewash imperial military adventurism on behalf of powerful political and philanthrocapitalist interests.

 

Vanessa Beeley is an independent journalist, peace activist, photographer and associate editor at 21st Century Wire. Vanessa was a finalist for one of the most prestigious journalism awards – the 2017 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism – whose winners have included the likes of Robert Parry in 2017, Patrick Cockburn, Robert Fisk, Nick Davies and the Bureau for Investigative Journalism team. You can support Vanessa’s journalism through her Patreon Page.

Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and a contributor to Ben Swann’s Truth in Media. Her work has appeared on Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has also made radio and TV appearances on RT and Sputnik. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.

Purpose Goes to Latin America [Part II]

Purpose Goes to Latin America [Part II]

August 26, 2018

By Cory Morningstar with Forrest Palmer 

 

This is part II of  Purpose Goes to Latin America. [ Part I, published August 8, 2018]

 

Foreword:

In part one of our report Purpose Goes to Latin America ( August 8, 2018) we demonstrated how global powers orchestrate destabilization, war, economic and imperial domination via the facilitation of NGOs that comprise the non-profit industrial complex. Specifically, we looked at how this successful strategy is unveiling itself in Latin America. We explored “New Power” as a new instrument of hegemony, whereby New Power exponents when mobilized, can be successfully manipulated to serve neoliberal forces in ways never before achievable.

We disclosed the fact that Purpose (the for-profit PR arm of Avaaz) has set up in Latin America with campaigns and projects underway in Brazil and Columbia. This is not a coincidence. In the ongoing destabilization effort being waged against Venezuela, Columbia is being used as a base to launch further aggression. [August 9, 2018: Colombia Can Not Lend Itself to a Foreign Intervention against Venezuela] Consider Purpose “movements” are not decrying the more than 300 assassinations of Colombian leaders over the last two years [Source], rather they are organizing Concordia Summits to facilitate an advancing privatization in Columbia (and the world at large), as they court right wing politicians  and oligarchs.  This can best be described as “power in white face”.

“In the presence of the so-called White Helmets on the border with the brother country, the first-class treatment given by the Colombian government to conspirators and provocateurs… While we condemn and denounce these grotesque maneuvers, we alert our people, the progressive and democratic peoples and governments of Latin America, the Caribbean and the world, not to allow more interference with sovereign Venezuela… Colombia can not lend itself to a foreign intervention against Venezuela. Our continent is a zone of peace and we must not allow ourselves to be deprived of that right.” — August 9, 2018:  Colombia Can Not Lend Itself to a Foreign Intervention against Venezuela [Emphasis added]

 

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Part II

Mobiles Coupled with Social Media Equal the Capture of Momentum by New Power

Source: GSMA Intelligence

This is where the lines between NGOs, internet and militarism begin to overlap and blur. In part one of this report, we discussed New Power at length as the new tool for expanding global hegemony. By the conclusion of this report, we will have explored the machinations of our new digital world, and how neoliberal and Imperial forces are using it to further colonization and drive economic growth – all under the guise of freedom, democracy and human rights. At this time, in the year 2018, we have come full circle to the inception of this blueprint, charted in 2007.

“This paper suggests that the rapid spread of information and communications technology (ICT) in the global south offers possibilities for democratic and social change unmatched since decolonization.” — Prospects for e-Advocacy in the Global South – A Res Publica Report for the Gates Foundation, 2007

In 2007, Res Publica completed a research and advisory project for the Gates Foundation titled Prospects for e-Advocacy in the Global South – A Res Publica Report for the Gates Foundation. (From the report: E-advocacy is the strategic use of ICT by individuals or movements to press for policy change.”) The Project Leader for the project was Res Publica and Avaaz co-founder Ricken Patel.

“Moreover, penetration of these technologies can revolutionize advocacy long before they reach substantial percentages of the population. The President of the Philippines was deposed in 2001 in an SMS-organized mobilization he called a “coup de text” when just 15% of Filipinos had mobile phones.Prospects for e-Advocacy in the Global South – A Res Publica Report for the Gates Foundation, 2007

 

However, there are formidable barriers to the realization of this opportunity. The digital divide is felt most acutely in sub-Saharan and South/Central Africa. While mobile phone penetration is growing rapidly even in this region, the promise of the internet and other ICTs is dimmed by regressive telecommunications policies and poor infrastructure. Across the global south, censorship and intimidation have shut off the internet as a source for social change in nations most in need of reform.” — Prospects for e-Advocacy in the Global South – A Res Publica Report for the Gates Foundation, 2007

The lead researcher for the project was Mary Joyce who worked for the Gates Foundation and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard. [Source]

“The study of e-advocacy in the global south is a new field and as such this report is based on the synthesis of different fields of expertise rather than the summarizing of existing research… e-Advocacy is the future of social change.” — Prospects for e-Advocacy in the Global South – A Res Publica Report for the Gates Foundation, 2007

Katrin Verclas, Executive Director of Nonprofit Technology Enterprise Network, was one of two expert advisors to the project. In 2018 Verlas, named one of the Most Influential Women in Technology by Fast Company in 2011, was indicted by the U.S. Justice Department for fraud. [March 29, 2018: German Citizen Indicted For Major Fraud In Connection With A State Department Grant, March 29, 2018]

The second expert advisor, digital political strategist Alan Rosenblatt “built the Center for American Progress’s* social media program (2007-13) and trained nearly 20,000 people across the world in digital/social media strategy, including civil society leaders across the Arab world in 2009; executives at leading advocacy groups and news media outlets; Members of Congress and their staff; as well as a couple future kings.” [Source: LinkedIn] [*Founded/directed by John Podesta. After losing his congressional seat (D-VA), Res Publica/Avaaz co-founder Tom Perriello, served as President and CEO of the Center for American Progress.]

“Network-centric mobile activism is seductively simple. Massive events can be created with little or no effort or cost.” — Prospects for e-Advocacy in the Global South – A Res Publica Report for the Gates Foundation, 2007

 

“If possible, fund the fringe, but if this is perceived as too high a risk then invite them to the table by including them in conferences and convenings.” — Prospects for e-Advocacy in the Global South – A Res Publica Report for the Gates Foundation, 2007

Case study authors included Rishi Chawla (Global Internet Policy Initiative), Atieno Ndomo (Bretton Woods, Unicef, WFP, UN),  and Priscila Néri (Researcher/Res Publica: “Wrote the case study on Brazil for the report “Prospects for e-Advocacy in the Global South”, commissioned by the Gates Foundation and published in 2007. The report paved the way for the launch of Avaaz.org, an international network focused on promoting global activism on a wide range of issues.” Source: LinkedIn. Néri is now with Witness). Gbenga Sesan (Harvard, Paradigm Initiative, Africa), and Idris Sulaiman (Research consultant for World Bank, now with WBCSD) were also authors.

Those in charge of reviewing the paper included Rob Faris, Research Director for the Internet and Society of Harvard and OpenNet Initiative (which is mentioned further in this report), and Janet Haven of the Open Society Institute. [1]

June 2017: Number of unique mobile subscribers worldwide hits 5 billion:

Source: GSMA Intelligence

Excerpts from the Gates project report under the heading “The Cellular Savior”:

“The mobile phone is changing the way the global south communicates. Even as the number of landlines grows slowly, the growth of mobile phones is sky-rocketing, changing the connectivity potential for the planet…. What these figures indicate is that mobile phones are a great opportunity for e-advocates who want to reach a mass audience, and the applications are endless. [p. 18]

 

“… After the successful implementation of SMS [short message service/text messages] campaigns at the national level, the Gates Foundation might decide to fund an international SMS campaign*. Unlike the local SCO partners of the pilot programs, an international campaign would partner with international advocacy organizations with strong technology programs like Greenpeace, Oxfam, and the new international e-advocacy organization Avaaz.” [p. 41] [*Highlighted text in original document]

 

“The Gates Foundation has the unique ability to lead this new front of social change. The foundation’s distinctive experience in providing access to technology and challenging inequality in the global south, combined with resources that rival many nations, make it an ideal trailblazer in the global promotion of e-advocacy. We the researchers, writers, advisors, and reviewers of this report urge the Gates Foundation to take on this historic role. [p. 5]

Here we can pause for a moment to reflect. Avaaz, et al were not working toward a goal of ensuring every person on Earth would have access to clean drinking water. Rather, they were united in a global undertaking to ensure everyone on Earth would have access to a mobile phone. There is a quote attributed to Vladimir Lenin, in which variations are known to most in the Western world: “The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.” Perhaps in the 21st century we should update it to “The Capitalists will sell us the mobiles with which we will hang ourselves.”

There is little doubt that if society had chosen not to purchase cell phones, our corporate overlords and oligarchs would have put them in cereal boxes for free. But of course, we lined up and paid for our own enslavement, just as Aldous Huxley so aptly prophesied in 1931.

“The goal of this funding strategy is to create a structure in which access to ICTs leads to a cyclical process of innovation and dissemination in e-advocacy which leads to social change. The final result of the implementation of ever improving e-advocacy methods is social change, achieved bit by bit through thousands of e-advocacy campaigns worldwide. E-advocacy is a powerful means for social change in the global south and the Gates Foundations has the unique ability to make that potential a reality.” — Prospects for e-Advocacy in the Global South – A Res Publica Report for the Gates Foundation, 2007

The Igarapé Institute

The Igarapé Institute was formed in 2011 as a “think and do tank” in Brazil. The stated purpose of the institute is “raising attention to the challenges of violence and insecurity across Brazil and Latin America.” It works with international organizations such as the United Nations and the Inter-American Development Bank toward changes in government policy. The institute is headquartered in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with staff in São Paulo, Brasília, Bogota and Mexico City.

Canadian Robert Muggah is the co-founder of the Igarapé Institute, SecDev Group, and SecDev Foundation.

The Igarapé Institute “supports a range of alliances, including with the CivCap group, UN, World Bank, World Economic Forum, World We Want and many others in civil society.” [Source] Key partners include Crisis Action and a wealth of United Nation divisions. A “shortlist” of its key partners that operate under the auspices of “peace and security” inclusive of Crisis Action, and the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect is extensive. Funders include Open Society Foundations, SecDev Foundation, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and Virgin Unite. Honorary Igarapé board members include Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former president of Brazil, and Cesar Gaviria, former president of Colombia, both having served as key early architects of neoliberal reform.

Notable is the fact that the International Peace Institute (IPI) is cited as both a key partner and funder. Here we will divert, if only to once again demonstrate the nefarious interlocking directorate amongst the elite institutions which serve as the halls of power for empire and the advancement of colonial global domination. IPI is the discreet and upper level arm of the United Nations specializing in “multilateral approaches to peace and security issues”, working closely with the UN Secretariat and membership which has specific regional programs in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. The IPI convenes “high-level panels” that focus on international affairs and armed conflicts in the international peace and security genre.

The IPI Vienna Seminar on Peacemaking and Peacekeeping is an annual event, held in Vienna, Austria since 1970. Notable documents from the 39th seminar (June 14-16, 2009) are the foreword, and preface for the paper “The UN Security Council and the Responsibility to Protect: Policy, Process, and Practice”.

March 1, 2011:

“The International Peace Institute (IPI) and the Diplomatic Academy Vienna have put together the first comprehensive analysis of the role of the UN Security Council in the ongoing process of implementing the responsibility to protect (RtoP).”

Authors of the paper include Susan E. Rice, former U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations and Gareth Evans, President Emeritus of the Brussels-based International Crisis Group and co-chair of the International Advisory Board of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect.[Full bio].

International lawyer Rita Hauser chaired IPI for 23 years, stepping down in 2016. Hauser’s background is extensive. On December 23, 2009, former US President Barack Obama appointed Hauser to the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board while in 2001 Hauser was appointed by President George W. Bush to the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. Hauser is Chair of the Advisory Board of the International Crisis Group. In 2007, Hauser was elected to the Board of the Global Humanitarian Forum in Geneva, Switzerland, which was chaired by Kofi Annan. She has served as a director of many organizations including the RAND Corporation and the International Institute for Strategic Studies (London), as well as a former member of the Board of Advisers of the Middle East Institute. Hauser and her husband established The Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations at Harvard University, and she is Co-Chair of the Dean’s Advisory Board at Harvard Law School. She received the Award of the Women’s Leadership Summit at Harvard Law School in October 2008.[Full bio].

The modus operandi employed by “humanitarian NGOs” advocating for peace, security and “democracy”, falls somewhere between George Orwell’s euphemisms laid out in the 1949 publication 1984. Today we bear witness as “war is peace” dovetails with the term doublethink (“the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”) If we add in Jeremy Heiman’s New Power methods (see part 1), what we have is a world based more on fiction than reality. Aldous Huxley’s prophetic Brave New World written in 1931, almost pales in comparison to today’s blind servitude among the conditioned masses.

“Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.” —George  Orwell, 1984, published 1949

The following excerpt is from the IPI website. Published August 10, 2018, following the western-led failed coup attempt against Nicaragua:

“At the vanguard of Nicaragua’s uprising are the thousands of young protesters who have and continue to risk their lives. To them belongs the laurel for having exposed the path to dictatorship that, under a democratic veil, has been advancing in Nicaragua. The young protesters behind Nicaragua’s uprising do not belong to a political party, nor do they subscribe to any of the main political ideologies.”[Source]

It is important to highlight the very end of that statement: “[N]or do they subscribe to any of the main political ideologies.” Finally, a semblance of truth. The targeted youth, the 21st century sacrificial lambs for empire, are being socially engineered by entities such as Purpose and CANVAS (discussed further in this section) to organize not only against their own best interests, but in the interests of the ruling elites and global corporatocracy to which they will be further subjugated.

+++

The co-founder and executive director of Igarapé Institute is Ilona Szabó de Carvalho.  Carvalho’s bio is extensive. Since 2007 she has consulted with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Development Assistance Committee (DAC), the UNDP, the EU, and several international non-governmental organizations (INGOs), conducting assessments across Latin America.

Co-founder Robert Muggah (Research Director and Program Coordinator for Citizen Security) has an extensive background consulting with the mainstream economic structures that impose financial dictates on the Global South, which are done in the best interests of profitability for multinational corporations and banks. “In 2010 he also co-founded the SecDev Foundation and Group – organizations devoted to cybersecurity and the digital economy, especially in the Middle East and Eurasia, and South Asia regions. He consults with governments, the UN, World Bank and firms ranging from Google to McKinsey” and “serves as a senior adviser to the Inter-American Development Bank, UN agencies, and the World Bank.” [Source] [Bio] [Emphasis added]

“In 2017, Igarapé’s research, analysis and commentary were featured in 7,647 news stories published in 107 countries and territories, effectively doubling the number from 2016 (3,206). Igarapé researchers produced 130 op-eds, published or reproduced in 275 media outlets around the globe. More than 1,500 stories appeared in the Brazilian media and nearly 2,500 stories were published in international news outlets… It also expanded its domestic and international profile through participation in 135 events, which included conferences, panels and lectures in 18 countries.” [Source: 2017 Igarapé Institute Activities Report]

To further illustrate the intermingling of the NGO network with these powerful entitites that comprise the global capitalist infrastructure, the  Igarapé Institute has given multiple keynote lectures at high-profile venues such as the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos and Dubai, TED and TED Global, and the UN General Assembly. The Igarapé’s research was featured in flagship publications of The Economist’s Intelligence Unit, the Organization for Economic Cooperation, the United Nations office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and the World Bank. [Source: 2017 Igarapé Institute Activities Report]

The Igarapé Institute has an operating income of $BRL6,352,059.00 ($USD1,547,486.45). [Source] This “operating income” is a direct result of the influx of funding from Open Society Institute and USAID. Additional financial support comes from IPI and Jigsaw (Google). [Source: 2017 Igarapé Institute Activities Report]

The number of Igarapé partners is extensive and includes the Purpose project Movilizatorio, Open Society Foundations, the Brazilian Ministry of Defence, Inclusive Security, United States, and Amnesty International Brazil. [Full list]

The following observation is of critical importance. From the book Enabling Openness: The Future of the Information Society in Latin America and the Caribbean by  International Development Research Centre, Canada, it is observed:

“Through the research conducted by Instituto Igarapé we have analysed many examples that reflect a significant move towards this new form of policy making. Through the Open Empowerment Initiative (OEI) –a joint research project with the SecDev Foundation of Canada, aimed at understanding the effects of “cyber empowerment” on the reconfiguration of the social, political and economic spheres in Latin America– we have observed an ever bigger role played by the democratising potential of new technologies. These have allowed civil society actors to make their voices heard and to become involved in areas of public interest that were once the exclusive domain of the state, such as public security….

 

These types of websites include: change.org, gopetition.com, petition24.com and peticiones24.com, thepetitionsite.com, signon.org, elquintopoder.cl, avaaz.org, sumofus.org, causes.com, getup.org.au and twitition.com.” [Section 3, Smart data, digital inclusion and interactive democracy: Reflections on the use of ICTs to enhance citizen security in Latin America by Gustavo Macedo Diniz][Emphasis added]

Of interest and perhaps unknown to the author is that the bulk of these “social change” websites have been created by the same and select group of individuals that inhabit elite circles. Audience and spheres of influence are of paramount importance here since it is the foundation of whose interests is ultimately at stake. With this in mind, we can note that many of the websites  are exclusively  written in the English language (as opposed to Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, etc.) Yet this doesn’t appear to be a barrier to the desired changes sought by the think tanks. Ultimately, this begs the question of who the target audience truly is. However, this is changing as international NGOs now shift their focus to developing countries to spread their message among the indigenous youth residing in critical hot spots in the Global South, which mirrors the online “clitcktivism” rampant in the Western world and its indoctrinated youth.

To further explore this line of questioning, we can delve into the Operations Newsletter compiled by Mr. Jeff Harley US Army Space and Missile Defense Command Army Forces Strategic Command G39, Information Operations Division. [Vol. 12, no. 04, February 2012] The compilation includes an article describing the  December launch (2012) of the State Department’s “virtual embassy” for Tehran, essentially a standard U.S. embassy website without a physical embassy standing behind it – which could be duplicated for Syria and any other potential geopolitical targets in the future. Also highlighted is Muggah’s SecDev in Syria:

“It’s difficult to measure how much effect sites like the virtual embassy have, Anderson said, but ideally they can present a clearer vision of U.S. society, culture and policy than what’s portrayed in Iranian state media.

 

“It’s basically the hearts and minds things,” he said.

 

The Damascus embassy’s website could easily be transitioned into something like the Tehran website, Anderson said, but would be stymied by a lower level of tech savvy in Syria.

 

About 20 percent of Syrians are online compared with about 30 percent of Iranians, according to the OpenNet Initiative, a joint project by Harvard, the University of Toronto and the SecDev Group, a Canadian security and development company. Syrian Internet is significantly less developed and more regulated, though, according to ONI.

 

A more important diplomatic tool than maintaining the website, Anderson said, will be maintaining a U.S. presence in social media. Ambassador Ford’s Facebook chats, for instance, could be done just as easily from Washington as from Damascus and would reach a wider audience.” [Emphasis added]

On March 12 , 2018 a lecture titled The Rise of Citizen Security in the Americas by Robert Muggah was to be presented by the University of Calgary Latin America Research Centre (later cancelled). In the event description along with Muhggah’s extensive background, it reads:

“Latin American and Caribbean societies are among the most violent on earth. With some exceptions, the problem appears to be worsening. Why? There is not one, but several explanations that account for the steady increase in violent crime across the region. In addition to widespread impunity and jarring inequality, a major part of the problem is connected to repressive and punitive approaches to tackling criminality.” [Emphasis added]

This is a glaring representation of the obvious modern paternalistic aspects of the relationship between North America and South America. Latin American and Caribbean societies are not among the most violent on earth. Rather, they are among the most exploited. Exploited by the hands that feed the non-profit industrial complex and institutions that hide the cold hard fact that US imperialism and the capitalist economic system are both founded and dependent on violence.

Examples of Muggah’s extensive collection of hit pieces written to disparage the governments of Nicaragua and Venezuela that continue fight back against foreign interference include:

  • It’s really hard to say which city is the world’s most murderous [in Venezuela], February 27, 2016, published by Agence France-Presse
  • Venezuela is on the brink of civil war. Here’s how its neighbors could stop it, August 2, 2017, published by PRI
  • Nicaragua was one of Latin America’s least violent countries. Now it’s in a tailspin, July 19, 2018, published by LA Times
  • The only way out of Nicaragua’s violent crisis rests in Ortega’s hands, July 19, 2018, published by the Globe & Mail
  • My Turn: Robert Muggah: Ortega cracks down on his people, July 24, 2018, published by Providence Journal

 

SecDev

Joining SecDev co-founder Robert Muggah is SecDev CEO Rafal Rohozinski. Rohozinski is a founder and principal investigator of SecDev and OpenNet. He serves on the advisory Board of the Canadian Association for Defence and Security Industries (CADSI), and, the Canadian International Council (Canada’s foreign relations council). He is a senior fellow for cyber security and future conflict at the British think-tank International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). IISS was rated as the tenth-best think tank worldwide and the second best Defense and National Security think tank globally in 2017 Global Go To Think Tank Index. IISS works with governments, defence ministries and global organisations including NATO and the European Union.

“New Frontier in Defense”, February 2, 2017, “Rafal Rohozinski speaks with NCAFP member Edythe Holbrook after the program”.The National Committee on American Foreign Policy, Inc. (NCAFP) was founded in 1974 … It is a nonprofit policy organization dedicated to the resolution of conflicts that threaten U.S. interests. Toward that end, the NCAFP identifies, articulates, and helps advance American foreign policy interests from a nonpartisan perspective within the framework of political realism”. [Source] [Emphasis added]

In January 25, 2018, the French philosopher and author, Dr. Lucien Cerise  observed the blurred lines between digital “phishing” and behavioural change achieved via social engineering in the paper The Social Engineering of Identitarian Conflict:

“According to the famous computer hacker Kevin Mitnick, social engineering is the art of deception; it is essentially about playing on the credulity of others to modify their behavior, which is also what “phishing” is all about. The fact that the apex is perceived with trust or indifference allows it to be seen, but not as the architect of conflict. It is a matter of “hiding in plain sight”, a “royal art” and technique used by prestidigitators, illusionists, esoteric societies, and secret services.”

This is exactly what think tanks in collaboration with NGOs, global institutions and media are now being able to achieve with increasing precision. It is doubtful that such engineering, global in scale, could be achieved outside the digital age.

Like Dixon of Purpose, Muggah created a Syrian based anti-Assad #AmennySyria through The SalamaTech project, an initiative of The SecDev Foundation:

“The 8-week campaign was launched on July 1, 2014 by SalamaTech in conjunction with several partner organisations.

The campaign has already reached more than 480,000 people on Facebook alone.

 

Digital safety matters in Syria. Syrian netizens are being captured, tortured and killed because of their online activities. This threat comes not just from the Assad regime. Armed groups like Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are also capturing and torturing people to access their online accounts. When a Syrian human rights defender (HRD) is captured, his or her entire network including friends and family, are exposed.”

The SalamaTech partners in its #AmennySyria “movement”, include Cyber Arabs ( a project of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting), Technicians for Freedom (now seemingly defunct), The Syrian Revolution Technical Guide (now seemingly defunct), The Office for Security Counseling of the Syrian Revolution (now largely inactive), and Orient News.[Source]

Another notable creation of SecDev is the digital awareness campaign, Salmatech Project which produced the Syrian project A Tale of Two Cities targeting the Canadian youth audience: “All Canadian participants in the Tale of Two Cities project will be required to undertake public speaking engagements within their schools or community groups, to share their new understandings… We are seeking Canadian partners – teachers, educators, donors – who would like to support the Tale of Two Cities effort.” [Source]

As the American left is besieged with the most intense Facebook censorship crackdown to date, consider the opposite set of rules for SalamaTech in the August 2014 “Special Report, A ‘Kingdom of Silence No More’: Facebook & the Syrian Revoltion”:

“Facebook has redefined community in Syria, both online and off. The communities that have emerged through social media provide a glimpse of what a post-Assad Syria might look like: diverse, divided and chaotic; but also empowered and connected – connected like never before, including across the sectarian and geographic barriers being increasingly erected by the war.”[Emphasis added]

Diverse, divided and chaotic; but also empowered and connected”… like Libya? From the most prosperous nation in Africa to an absolute failed state? It’s nothing less than tragic that the NATO-led invasion of Libya did not teach the West a thing about Western-backed regime change under the guise of “humanitarian intervention”.

“From the earliest days of the revolution, Facebook and YouTube served as indispensable platforms for Syrian non-violent activists to call for change and to organize. As Dlshad Othman states: “The internet has been central to the revolution in Syria. It brought us together. It taught us about our rights. It gave us freedom.” [p. 2][Emphasis added]

Here it is not only wise to ask the question as to who Dlshad Othman really is, in this modern day of NGO warfare, doing so is imperative. In 2012, Dlshad was chosen an Internet Freedom Fellow (one of six), a program funded by the U.S. State Department. Of interest is the fact that another chosen Internet Freedom Fellow, Andres Azpurua of Venezuela, was a RightsCon (Access Now) speaker in May of 2018 (“Information Controls in Latin America: Censorship in Different Layers and Nuances“)(information on RightsCon/Access Now follows.)

In a testament to the intermingling of modern day social media for neocolonial purposes of propaganda, the Twitter accounts utilized by SecDev foundation and SecDev Group follow affiliated organizations such as Citizen Lab, Global Voices, OpenNet Initiative, Freedom House, NED, US Embassy Syria, Rising Voices (Global Voices), Brookings, Rand, Global Citizen, Chatham House, Carnegie Endowment, Crisis Group, Igarapé Institute, the White Helmets, Omidyar Network, Skoll Foundatiom and Amnesty International Tech.

NGO Rebranding Exercises

As the Syrian Army (and her people) continues to defeat the seven-year long destabilization effort carried out by the most powerful military forces on Earth, The Syria Campaign (Purpose) saw fit to launch a new initiative (May 17, 2018) with a new branding strategy: Idlib Lives: The Untold Story of Heroes. Partnering with Peace Direct, the new PR campaign, peddled by the Guardian, included a new website, a new hashtag (#IdlibLives) and a new report bearing the same title.

Peace Direct US Board members includes Michael Ryder, former head of the UK’s Foreign Office’s Security Policy department, dealing with international defence and security, and Carolyn Makinson, former Executive Director of the International Rescue Committee. Staff are comprised of those affiliated with USAID, digital strategy and marketing firms, United Nations, etc. The UK division includes Eleanor Harrison, Chief Executive of GlobalGiving UK and patrons Scilla Elworthy. Elworthy assisted in the creation of The Elders Initiative (co-founded by Richard Branson) and acted as an advisor to Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and Richard Branson. In 2002 she co-founded Peace Direct alongside Carolyn Hayman OBE. Other alliances include Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan, and Dame Emma Kirkby. [Source]

May 26, 2018, The Guardian: Amid Syria’s horror, a new force emerges: the women of Idlib:

“Assad’s position was boosted last week when he finally achieved control of all areas around Damascus. The almost daily aerial bombardment of Idlib by Syrian and Russian forces is expected to be stepped up.

 

The regime has repeatedly used chemical weapons in Idlib. Despite this attrition, a new report, Idlib Lives – The Untold Story of Heroes, by the independent advocacy group the Syria Campaign and the international anti-war organisation Peace Direct [6]  paints an extraordinary picture of creative resilience and innovation in the teeth of appalling adversity – and at a time when the UN says international assistance and aid has fallen to critically low levels.”

The executive summary of the Idlib Lives report features extensive writings by Raed Fares, the Syrian face for the new campaign:

Raed Fares is the Syrian face for the new Purpose campaign

On November 6, 2015, Fares made an appearance at The Atlantic Council (a Washington think tank), where he was introduced by Ambassador Frederic Hof – former special advisor for transition in Syria to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the U.S. Department of State. [Source] A week prior to the Atlantic Council appearance, Fares met with US Congressman Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee.

Fares was a 2017 speaker for the Oslo Speaker Forum as was Srdja Popovic (CANVAS, Harvard, Otpor). He is the founder of “Radio Fresh”(the Kafranbel Media Center) which received funding from international groups including the Human Rights Foundation, and the U.S. State Department. [Source] Fares is also a speaker at the Arab Conference at Harvard (the largest pan-Arab conference in North America).

“In late 2011, Fares produced one that challenged Obama’s inaction and suggested the world would be better if George W. Bush were still president. ‘Obama’s procrastination kills us; we miss Bush’s audacity,'” — January 31, 2014, Raed Fares, Huffington Post

In the Dec 4, 2014 New York Time article Radio-free Syria, the reporter describes her interview with Fares in the back seat of an automobile with incredible candor, disclosing Fares dalliances with those directly aligned with the U.S. State Department:

“The two Americans in the front seat laughed. One, a 57-year-old named Jim Hake, is the founder and chief executive of Spirit of America, a nongovernmental organization with the explicit mission to support U.S. military and diplomatic efforts… The driver, Isaac Eagan, 33, is a U.S. Army veteran who works for Hake. Earlier that week, Fares had slipped over the Turkish-Syrian border to meet Hake and Eagan and collect 500 solar-powered and hand-crank radios that Spirit of America, working with the State Department, was giving to his radio station, Radio Fresh.”

Also undergoing a major re-branding exercise is the Purpose Syria Deeply which has been transformed into Peacebuilding Deeply.

Hacking Conflict

In 2015 a #HackingConflict #Diplohack Challenge was co-organized by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the NetherlandsThe SecDev Foundation (Canada) and the Canadian International Council. It was promoted in the following way: “The event will emphasize the political like-mindedness of Canada and the Netherlands in international affairs, and the vast potential for creative, political cooperation to solve difficult global challenges… Specific resources relevant to the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine – such as social media data streams – will be available for teams that choose to use them…. Please note that the #HackingConflict #DiploHack challenge will be by invitation only.” [Source] [Emphasis added]

The particpating groups that comprised the “Hacking Conflict Teams” submitted proposals, that included Disrupt the Chain: End Barrel Bombs in Syria and Chorus : Joining voices to combat sexual violence in Syria.

Under the banner Flash Notes from Syria, SecDev Foundation produces publications such as  Facebook Prison: Testimonies from Syria , A “Kingdom of Silence” No more: Facebook & The Syrian Revolution and A Risky Business: The Internet, Circumvention and Iran’s Digital Generation.

Cyber Dialogue

 “The [2014] Cyber Dialogue conference, presented by the Canada Centre for Global Security Studies at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto, convened an influential mix of global leaders from government, civil society, academia and private enterprise to participate in a series of facilitated public plenary conversations and working groups around cyberspace security and governance.” [Source]

Significant attendees among the cabal of participants from the 2011 Cyber Dialogue conference were Brett Soloman, [2] former campaign director for Avaaz and Purpose Action Board of Directors and co-founder of Access Now, as well as Ron Deibert and  Rafal Rohozinski from SecDev:

“Ron Deibert (PhD, University of British Columbia) is Associate Professor of Political Science, and Director of the Canada Centre for Global Security Studies and the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto. The Citizen Lab is an interdisciplinary research and development hothouse working at the intersection of the Internet, global security, and human rights. He is a co-founder and a principal investigator of the OpenNet Initiative and Information Warfare Monitor projects. Deibert was one of the founders and (former) VP of global policy and outreach for Psiphon Inc. and a founder of SecDev.cyber.” [Source] [Emphasis added]

 

“Rafal Rohozinski is one of Canada’s thought leaders in the field of cybersecurity. He is the founder and CEO of The SecDev Group and Psiphon Inc., and his work in information security spans two decades and 37 countries, including conflict zones in the CIS, the Middle East and Africa. In 2005-2006, Rafal served as an embedded Chief Technical Advisor to the Palestinian Authority. He is a senior scholar at the Canada Centre for Global Security Studies, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto and previously served as director of the Advanced Network Research Group, Cambridge Security Program, University of Cambridge. He is a senior research advisor to the Citizen Lab, and together with Ronald Deibert, a founder and principal investigator of the Information Warfare Monitor and the OpenNet Initiative.” [Source] [Emphasis added]

Other 2011 participants included Rex Hughes, a cyber defence advisor to NATO, James P. Farwell,  consultant to the U.S. Department of Defense, Carl Gershman, President of the National Endowment for Democracy, and scores of representatives with military, state and “cyber defence” backgrounds. In addition, the far-reaching list of think tanks, NGOs and institutions included Open Society, USAID, Access Now, Freedom House, and National Defence Canada. [Full list of 2011 participants]

To illustrate the fact that this is an ongoing process of domination, we can look at a similar conference that took place in 2015. The RightsConocation conference took place in Asia (Manila) which is detailed in the following excerpt: “Hosted by Access Now, RightsCon is where the world’s business leaders, technologists, engineers, investors, activists, human rights experts, and government representatives come together to build partnerships, shape global norms, showcase new technologies, and confront the most challenging issues at the intersection of human rights and technology. More than an event, RightsCon is a global community with thousands of leading voices across stakeholder lines.” [Source]

Avaaz and the SecDev Foundation were key participants in a massive cast of those that today shape the world – and infiltrate our “hearts and minds”.

According to Avaaz’s Brett Solomon, Executive Director of Access who hosted the event:

“The conference is taking place at a time when governments, companies, technologists, and human rights activists are dealing with a range of pressing issues in the Southeast Asia region.  From Singapore to Malaysia, Myanmar to Hong Kong, Southeast Asia’s 600 million people are coming online rapidly, and its businesses and consumers are making innovative use of technologies to develop their economies and to expand activities online. This explosive growth has huge ramifications for human rights.”[Source]

The 2018 RightsCon event took place in Toronto, Canada with a speaker list so extensive, it is six pages long.

“Born out of the aftermath of the 2009 Iranian election, Access uses cutting edge technologies to help people living behind the firewall, provides thought leadership on the new frontier of digital rights and mobilizes a global citizens’ movement of 300,000 people in over 100 countries.” — Cyber Dialogue 2012 participant webpage

Open Empowerment Initiative: Latin America

The Open Empowerment Initiative (OEI) is a partnership between Muggah’s SecDev Foundation (Canada) and the Igarapé Institute (Brazil), which not coincidentally was also co-founded by Muggah. Its said mission is to “investigate how cyberspace is shaping citizen action and state-society relations in LatinAmerica. The third partner in this modern day NGO “axis of evil” is the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), a Canadian Crown corporation established by an act of Parliament in 1970 to help developing countries find solutions to their problems. Most of IDRC’s funding comes from annual appropriations from Canada’s Parliament. IDRC also receives funds from other sources, such as foundations and other Canadian and international organizations. [Source]

From the SecDev website, Open Empowerment Initiative: Latin America:

“The past twenty years have seen the greatest expansion of information in the history of humanity. We now create more information in two days than we did from the dawn of civilization. Two-thirds of humanity are now connected to the internet. There are more cell phones than people on the planet. Computing power doubles every 18 months. The cost of communication continues to fall.

 

We live in revolutionary times…

 

Institutions are under stress as digital natives — those born into a 24×7 online world — flex their political muscles. Empowerment in the wired world is not constrained by borders or convention.  Street protests in Brazil and the regional narco-economy share commonalities. They are made possible by friction free communication that enables coordination without hierarchy and lowers the barriers of entry into the global marketplace.” [Source] [Emphasis added]

As we have barely scratched the surface upon the matrix of allied NGOs, cyber firms, military institutions, think tanks, institutions, states and media, working  in tandem to remake the world in the image of the West, the following excerpt from the paper The Moment of Truth – A Portrait of the Fight For Hard Net Neutrality Regulation by Save the Internet and Other Internet Activists by Strand Consult, July 2016, sheds much needed light on the barren, manufactured “movements” of the 21st century:

“Activist causes could not be achieved without a significant investment in digital tools and technologies. This includes a database of users and associated marketing and communications technologies to engage the user bases. Activists organizations and political parties have been honing these tools over the last decade with regard to net neutrality. A 2006 article describes net neutrality as “the brainchild of the likes of Google and Amazon.com, which want to offer consumers things like high-speed movie downloads, but don’t want to pay the network operators a fee to ensure what in the industry is called “quality of service”– i.e. , ensuring the consumer gets what he pays for quickly and reliably.”  The article describes the founding of a “Data Warehouse” by Hillary Clinton political adviser Harold Ickes, a fundraising list service and data mining operation. The $11.5 million investment was supported primarily by Soros, Google and Amazon. Former Democratic National Committee Director of Engineering Nick Gaw explains in a video how the data warehousing function runs on Amazon Web Services to enable Democratic party members to be elected at local and national level and to mine the information of its voters. Gaw is now the Senior Technology Advisor for Avaaz.org, an online platform to conduct online activist campaigns including European campaigns against Brexit, Donald Trump, and Monsanto’s Glyphosate. The website notes some 44 million members. Avaaz was founded by Brett Solomon [3], now Executive Director of Access, a net neutrality advocacy…

 

With well-funded, globally coordinated, digitally sophisticated campaigns, SavetheInternet and related Internet activists have succeeded to deliver hard net neutrality regulations in some 50 countries. Internet activism is an industry; “digital prostitutes” who will lend their support to corporate-inspired causes are available for hire; and net neutrality activism has received hundreds of millions of dollars of support from corporate and foundation funders intent on protecting their financial portfolios and business models. US-based net neutrality activists franchise and broker their activism models and concepts to a variety of activist entrepreneurs around the world.” [Emphasis added]

[Also see the June 20, 2016 Disruptive Views review titled Moment of Truth – the fight for hard net neutrality regulation]

OpenNet Initiative was created as a collaborative partnership of the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto, the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, and the SecDev Group in Ottawa. [Source]

Responsibility to Protect

From 2008 to 2015, More In Common (a Purpose project) co-founder Gemma Mortensen served as executive director of Crisis Action. The Deputy Executive Director for Crisis Action, Nicola Reindorp has contributed extensively to the Responsibility to Protect doctrine: “There, she led Oxfam’s global campaigning on conflict and humanitarian crises, working alongside allies in government and civil society to achieve the historic agreement by world leaders that they have a responsibility to protect populations from genocide and crimes against humanity, at the 2005 UN World Summit. From Oxfam, Nicola moved to set up the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect.” Prior to this, Reindorp was an advisor for Avaaz. [Source]

Nicola Reindorp of Avaaz, Jonathan Hutson of Enough, 2011: “The bishop presented an Avaaz petition to the Security Council with nearly half a million signatures, calling for Security Council members to take urgent action to halt ongoing human rights violations in South Kordofan and other parts of Sudan.”  [Source]

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[Crisis Action Who We Work With – Our Network, Crisis Action Who We Work With – Core Partners, Crisis Action Who We Work With – Campaign PartnersCrisis Action Who We Work With – Funders

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Prior to founding Avaaz, all co-founders of this organization share a vital common They all share a background working in one capacity or another for the United Nations. Over the decades they have only strengthened and utilized this relationship to serve the elite classes and empire as a whole.  A prime example of this relationship is Avaaz co-founder Tom Perriello, who worked as a legal adviser to the UN and related bodies in Sierra Leone, Darfur and Afghanistan and later became a US congressman helped into power by former US president Barack Obama. Another person of prominence is Avaaz co-founder Andrea Woodhouse, who formerly worked for both United Nations and the World Bank (where she continues today).

The following excerpt is from the journal article, Power of the iMob authored by Andrew Marshall, a media consultant and former journalist  who worked for Avaaz as a paid consultant in 2009.[Source: The World Today, Vol. 68, No. 3, April & May 2012 published by the Royal Institute of International Affairs]:

“Avaaz, ultimately the largest and most global of the dot-orgs, also came out of MoveOn and its alumni. Individual co-founders included Ricken Patel (Avaaz’s Canadian executive director); Tom Pravda, a former British diplomat; Tom Perriello, who had worked as a legal adviser to the UN and related bodies in Sierra Leone, Darfur and Afghanistan and later became a US congressman; Pariser, formerly of MoveOn; Andrea Woodhouse, formerly of the United Nations and the World Bank; and Australians Madden and Heimans. 38Degrees, the next in the family, was launched in May 2009 as a British parallel to GetUp! Founders included Ben Brandzel, formerly of MoveOn; Gemma Mortensen of Crisis Action; Paul Hilder, also of Avaaz; and Benedict Southworth of the World Development Movement. Most of these people had worked with government or international organisations abroad. Madden had served as an army officer, and worked for the World Bank in East Timor and the UN in Indonesia. Heimans had worked for McKinsey. Others had been with NGOs. Patel, for example, had been with International Crisis Group in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Sudan and Afghanistan. Several had been at elite academic institutions…

 

The dot-orgs are also growing up and moving beyond an online-only presence: indeed they would say that online was never the point. In Syria, Avaaz provided cameras and satellite communication gear to help the opposition to get its story out. This isn’t coincidence. Patel’s movement may for many people symbolise technology and geekdom, but Patel is much more interested in what technology can actually achieve. The organisation has for some years experimented with the use of new technologies to help activists communicate, broadcast, witness and report atrocities and bring in intervention” [Source]

This is most revelatory since this sentiment is not expressed by an outsider, but someone who has been immersed in the Non-Profit Industrial Complex.

The background into both Avaaz and Purpose has been documented extensively. Further reading of the 2012 investigative series is required reading for legitimate activists and movements in the global south.

Higher Learning : The Center for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (Otpor)

Harvard’s Pied Piper: On Friday, April 13, Srdja Popovic officially became the 53rd Rector of the Scotland’s first university. (via St Andrews).

Part 4 of the 2017 investigative series on Avaaz analyses the role of Harvard University in global destabilization campaigns via the churching out of “activists”, “thought-leaders”, think tanks and doctrines at large. Of particular interest is Srdja Popovic, cofounder of Otpor, now rebranded as Center for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (CANVAS) and his position at Harvard Kennedy School as Lead Instructor for the Harvard “executive education” program, Leading Nonviolent Movements for Social Progress.  Popovic leads the course with Otpor co-founder Slobodan Djinovic.

Djinovic established one of the first internet companies in Serbia (MediaWorks) which since merged with two other providers to form Orion Telekom where Djinovic serves as the CEO. [Source] Djinovic  is a counselor of the World Bank and a co-founder of the ICT Hub (information and communications technology, closed in 2008). According to the Financial Times: “Djinovic is a good-looking former basketball player with an MA in international relations from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in the US, and has a self-possessed, confident air. He founded Serbia’s first wireless internet provider and could be a Silicon Valley mogul if he wanted to, but instead he gives half of what he earns to keep Canvas afloat. (The other half comes from various NGOs and the UN.)”

OTPOR! Is the organization credited with the overthrow of  Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic in 2000 and has since played a leading and pivotal role in Western backed “coloured revolutions“.

“CANVAS  has welcomed interns from Harvard University since 2013.”— CANVAS website

Harvard is not alone. Popovic and his regime change squadron now engage with some of the world’s most prestigious universities, including  the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Johns Hopkins, Columbia University, Rutgers (NJ), Colorado College, University of Essex, Northeastern University, Grinnell College, Georgetown University, United States Air Force Academy, Belgrade University, Rutgers University, George Washington University, Syracuse University, University of Alabama, University of Virginia, University College London, Arcadia University, George Mason University, Bayerischer Rundfunk, University of Notre Dame, Yale University, St. Michael’s College, Loyola University, Watson University, Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley, Freie Universität Berlin, Universität Heidelberg, and University of Colorado Boulder. CANVAS courses and intern programs with many of the aforementioned universities are  ongoing.

“Akin to the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, today’s so-called environmental leaders and human rights activists are not (yet) genetically engineered, rather they are socially engineered experiments decanted from Harvard, Yale, Rockwood Leadership Institute and other institutions of indoctrination that serve and expand the global hegemony. One could theorize that today’s 21st century activism is a new process of mimesis – the millennial having assimilated into spectacle – far removed from both nature and reality.” — The Pygmalion Virus in Three Acts [2017 AVAAZ SERIES | PART II]

Amongst CANVAS’s partners are the Albert Einstein Institution, the Article 20 Network, New Tactics, Humanity in Action, Partners Global, the International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX), and Project Shield. Otpor/CANVAS funders/affiliates include National Endowment for Democracy (NED), Freedom House, US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the International Republican Institute (IRI).

On February 27th, 2012, WikiLeaks began publishing The Global Intelligence Files which consisted of over five million e-mails from the Texas headquartered “global intelligence” company Stratfor. Disclosed emails revealed that Popovic had an extremely close relationship with Stratfor. [Dec 3, 2013: Globally Renowned Activist Collaborated with Stratfor]

Twitter accounts followed by CANVAS (only 267 as of this writing, accessed August 25, 2018)  include the Avaaz NGO and Avaaz co-founder Ricken Patel (8th and 9th follows), Avaaz’s Emma Ruby-Sachs and Luis Morago, Purpose, Purpose Europe co-founder Tim Dixon, 350.org, and numerous Occupy accounts.

Srdja Popovic of CANVAS

Six-figure salaries and the ties that bind: Riga, Latvia, 2014: “Before Biko, Peter [Gabriel] brought onstage some special people working for human rights: Yvette Alberdingk-Thijm of Withness, Leif Coorllim of CNN Freedom Project, Jennifer Morgan of World Resources Institute, Emma Ruby Sachs [Deputy Director] of avaaz.org, Ellie Feinglass of  Namati Mozambique, and Srdja Popovic of CANVAS Serbia.” Peter Gabriel Back to the Front Tour [Source: TONY LEVIN’S WEBSITE AND ROAD DIARY]

Following in the footsteps of Avaaz co-founders Jeremy Heimans and Ricken Patel, in 2014 Popovic was listed as a “Young Global Leader” by the World Economic Forum in Davos. In 2011, Foreign Policy Magazine listed Popovic as one of the “top 100 Global Thinkers”(joining Avaaz co-founder Ricken Patel in 2012) for “inspiring the Arab Spring protesters”.

CANVAS: “Where We’ve Been”

On the CANVAS website, the “educational institution” documents governments being crushed by foreign/Western interference and ongoing destabilization efforts against targeted states such as the recent failed coup attempt against Nicaragua:

“#SOSNicaragua – Is the Ortega Murillo Dynasty Crumbling ? -The protests may have started in response to a social security system reform. What follows, however, will be determined by the population, fueled by repression, discontent, and poverty. A people that hasn’t been this fearless for 30 years. And as fake metal trees are falling to the ground, a population armed with social media is on the rise.” [Source]

VIDEO: New Power: How the West is Orchestrating Social Media to Capture Latin America. In this excerpt from an exclusive interview with Max Blumenthal (the Gray Zone), President Daniel Ortega describes the impact of the social media campaigns unleashed against the Sandinista Government in an attempted coup. [July 30, 2018]

 

“… but these retirees were barely out on the street when suddenly a hashtag came out called OCUPA INSS* which is the social security Institute building and that went viral internationally and suddenly we found ourselves confronted by this sort of embryo of a force through the social networks that was really quite powerful actually. And when the situation… because then the people came, you know people, young people who had been hearing this on the, through social media came down to the Social Security Institute building and they went into the building and many of these were really the supporters of the very same parties and governments that had been in power in the 17 years when the retirees were not getting any money if they hadn’t filled their entire quotas, and that was also the first time that the leaders of the Catholic Church, it got involved in a conflict of this nature…” —  President Daniel Ortega, Nicaragua 

[The @OccupaInss twitter account contains what could be said, the key architects of the destabilization movement (396 following, 15k followers, with 52, 274 “likes”on Facebook. Accessed August 24, 2018). The account follows three international NGOs. Two being Avaaz and Amnesty International (as well as Amnesty International Press – @Amnestypress ). Also followed is the US Treasury Department, the Organization of American States (OAS) (a colonial thorn in the side of Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua), the U.S. Department of State Spanish twitter account. The third international NGO followed is Bianca Jagger, President and Chief Executive of the Bianca Jagger of the Human Rights Foundation under the twitter account Bianca Jagger Nicaraguense por gracia de Dios with 69.5k followers.]

[For an accurate assessment on Nicaragua, one can read the TeleSUR article Nicaragua’s Sandinista Achievements Baffle World Bank, IMF, August 31, 2017]

CANVAS publishes weekly reports (the first published June 12, 2017) highlighting political hot zones and states targeted for regime change including Syria, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar, Maldives, and Cambodia.

Srdja Popovic twitter account

Commencing in 2018, states featured in the CANVAS spotlight include Cuba, Bolivia and Nicaragua (which has received highlighted weekly coverage since April 20, 2018). As this article is focused on the influx of NGOs in Latin America to meet Imperial objectives, it is critical to note that Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela represent the primary targets for destabilization in Latin America at this time. [See the CANVAS analysis on  Bolivia, Brazil and Venezuela.]

“On the level of a bottom-up approach, opposition leaders like María Corina Machado have advocated for popular protest and resistance as the best way to topple the Maduro government. This would require more than just street protests and would need to be an all-encompassing effort from all sectors of society.” — p. 35, CANVAS, Analysis on situation in Venezuela, August 2016

CANVAS states that regarding the Venezuela “uprising”, “the student movement was the primary group involved in the 2014 anti-government protests”. CANVAS acknowledges the protests contained “virtually no representation of the majority class in Venezuela”:

“However, although the opposition has used grassroots campaigning to gain the support of the poor in the past, they seem to be losing their sense of what the poor majority wants. This was evidenced most visibly in the 2014 protests, where the largely student-based middle class population marched, with virtually no representation of the majority class in Venezuela, the poor. This was because the opposition has chosen to advocate for changes unfamiliar and of less concern to the poor than more pressing issues like supply shortages, unemployment and rampant violent crime. However, the structure of the opposition and methodology is well developed, and would be instrumental in disrupting the regime, especially if they were to realign their goals with the poor in mind.” — p. 34, CANVAS, Analysis on situation in Venezuela, August 2016 [Emphasis added]

CANVAS is incorrect in its conclusions that the absence of the majority “was because the opposition has chosen to advocate for changes unfamiliar and of less concern to the poor than more pressing issues like supply shortages, unemployment and rampant violent crime.” The truth is that the Venezuelan majority, under attack for decades by the West, has developed a deep understanding of colonialism, imperialism and Western interventionism. A knowledge lost on most all Western society. The “pressing issues like supply shortages, unemployment and rampant violent crime” are recognized across Venezuelan society as the direct and deliberate destabilization efforts orchestrated by foreign interests.

Simultaneously, the Venezuelan youth targeted by CANVAS are those belonging to the middle/upper classes, who, indoctrinated by the false illusion of the American Dream, have a deep desire to be assimilated into the Western culture. The truth is that the majority of Venezuelans support the Maduro government, demonstrating remarkable, strength, courage and endurance to the relentless destabilization efforts orchestrated by the west, that continue to this day.

Video: Licking the Imperial Boot: The Ongoing Destabilization of Venezuela with Srdja Popovic:

 

Regarding Bolivia, CANVAS appears even more desperate.  The CANVAS analysis on Bolivia utilizes reports from Freedom House, Human Rights Watch, US Department of State and Amnesty international (all instruments of empire), to present its misleading arguments. As an example, the report states “…racism is rife in the country according to Freedom House, especially against indigenous groups” and yet in reality, almost the entire population in Bolivia is indigenous, including President Evo Morales himself.

Incredibly CANVAS tries to diminish this fact and frame it as a psyop against the Bolivian people, by lauding Andrés de Santa Cruz as the first true Indigenous president of Bolivia:

“The protest movement then also paved the way for Evo Morales’ Presidency. After losing his first Presidential race against De Lozado in 2001, Morales was elected President of Bolivia in late 2005, “on a wave of a popular and indigenous rebellion against neoliberal privatizations and for popular (Bolivian and indigenous) sovereignty”. He thus became what the country believed to be its first head of state of indigenous origin. This idea is, however, part of the very well managed propaganda created by the government around Morales’ image. He was not the first indigenous president of Bolivia; that title belongs to former president Andrés de Santa Cruz Calahumana. The political propaganda created to legitimize Morales’ image has taken advantage of Bolivia’s poor education system to repeat this lie enough times that it has become an accepted fact by the general public, and the few historians that have dared to challenge this idea have been silenced by state media.” — CANVAS, Bolivia, Country Anylsis, p 3

Santa Cruz, the president of Bolivia from 1829 – 1839, was born into a family of the colonial nobility. His Spaniard father, José Santa Cruz y Villavicencio, married Juana Basilia Calahumana, a heiress of a rich mestiza family said to be a descendant of the Incas. At the time of birth, Andres de Santa Cruz was classified in his baptismal certificate as Spanish, a term used in the colonies to refer to the white race. This is not to say that Santa Cruz did not play an integral part for Bolivia’s independence. It is only to say that the fact CANVAS highlights this historical background, which is a historical inaccuracy at best and a lie at worst, is a simple imperialist tactic to marginalize Morales’ achievements (not to mention the deliberate negating of ethnicity and class divisions).

Morales “image” as CANVAS calls it, is simply a reflection of the man with most humble origins. Born to an Aymara family of subsistence farmers, Morales was raised in the small rural village of Isallawi in Orinoca Canton. One of seven children, only he and two siblings, survived past childhood. [Source: The Extraordinary Rise of the First Indigenous President of Bolivia]

On January 10, 2018, CANVAS published the article Crumbling Democracy and Protest Movements in Evo Morales’ Bolivia:

“In the last week of 2017, CANVAS wrote about the rising tension in Honduras, after the November 2017 elections turned into a true stand-off. A little further south, in Bolivia, citizens also face an increasingly authoritarian government. As President Evo Morales tries to sideline the country’s constitution to assure himself of another term in office, Bolivian citizens are rising up to restore democracy in their Andean country, using nonviolence as one of their main weapons…

 

Finally, the nature of the protest-movement opposing the Morales-administration has also fundamentally changed. In the past, movements have backed particular individuals and their battle to facilitate Morales’ fall from the throne. But the Bolivian population has turned its eyes to younger generations looking for new leaders, with new developments mainly concentrated in the city of Santa Cruz. Currently, citizen platforms are organizing themselves in a singular, horizontal group of socially coordinated movements, which seek to “empower not any one individual but the message of struggle for democracy itself,” according to Vaca Daza.

 

In line with this new strategic direction, over 15 platforms and independent activists united themselves with a manifesto on December 29th. A broad coalition of student unions, female civic resistance groups, health workers, environmental groups and democracy activists pledged to build on the active and interventionist tactics of nonviolent resistance to “resist the tyranny” and called on fellow citizens to join them in making their voice heard. CANVAS will be following the developments in Bolivia closely!”[Emphasis added]

Note that CANVAS inadvertently points to the new hub of “activism” as being “mainly concentrated in the city of Santa Cruz.” CANVAS omits the fact that 1) Santa Cruz, has long been known as home to the powerful economic elite, right-wing political organizations, and 2) the racism Otpor utilizes for its own unjust cause, stems from the “light-skinned” Santa Cruz populace: “Racism is not admissible in the world in the 21st century, but it must be known that it is being promoted in Bolivia by sectors of the population which are economically powerful. These groups, today settled in the region of Santa Cruz, many of them offspring of immigrants from Europe, Asia and the Middle East have appropriated the indigenous identity of Santa Cruz, known as “camba” and this is being used to show racial supremacy over the “colla” and “chapaco” (indigenous people of the West and South of Bolivia)… This discourse, which is being used to paint both the President and the process of political change as a force for ill, has created an atmosphere which is intended to breed conditions for social and racial violence towards Bolivia’s indigenous and working classes.” [Source]

This type of tactic is what we have previously witnessed in various regions when it comes to Western NGOs and media forces. They exploit existing societal fractures in order to provoke violent conflict for various political and economic gains. Where fractures don’t exist, they are created. If ever there is evidence of what it looks like – to seize and utilize existing hate, racism and divisions within the confines of a state – for geopolitical gain, a key methodology that CANVAS is exploiting to its fullest, one needs to look no further than the 2014 coup in Ukraine: “Ukraine on Fire by Igor Lopatonok (Executive producer Oliver Stone) provides a historical perspective for the deep divisions in the region which led to the 2004 Orange Revolution, 2014 uprisings, and the violent overthrow of democratically elected Yanukovych. Covered by Western media as a people’s revolution, it was in fact a coup d’état scripted and staged by nationalist groups and the U.S. State Department. Investigative journalist Robert Parry reveals how U.S.-funded political NGOs and media companies have emerged since the 80s replacing the CIA in promoting America’s geopolitical agenda abroad.”

 

In 2014 CANVAS was listed as a terrorist organization by the United Arab Emirates: “Reasons for the inclusion of Serbian non-profit CANVAS is widely understood around the region. Last December, the Kuwaiti National Security Agency released a social media video explaining the role of CANVAS in promoting dissent in the state. Furthermore, security agencies in the region are closely monitoring members and affiliates of the group, however no official stance has been taken until now.” [Source]

Yet, as old as Otpor may be, rebranded and repackaged under the sophisticated pretext of academia, CANVAS  is just getting started. CANVAS has launched BUILD A MOVEMENT (BAM):

“(BAM) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization dedicated to researching and spreading knowledge on the methods of nonviolent, grassroots activism to promote democracy, human rights and social change.

 

On the ground with activists, on university campuses, with policy-makers or in the media, Build A Movement aims to strengthen the capacity of people-power movements and civil society around the world, not only to challenge authoritarianism and injustice, but to ensure durable transitions to democracy…

Over the past decade, BAM staff and trainers have worked in dozens of countries, including Venezuela, Syria, Ukraine, Cambodia, Burma, Zimbabwe, and Egypt, and trained thousands of activists fighting for democracy, transparency, accountability, human rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights, environmental protection, racial justice and social justice. BAM instructors have also taught courses at U.S. universities such as the Harvard Kennedy School and New York University.

 

Beyond training, BAM supports front line activists by developing educational material on movement building and technological tools to evade surveillance, censorship and harassment.” [Source]

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When a Western society collectively celebrates an African leader beloved by his people (including Nelson Mandela)being sodomized and murdered, only to then mourn the death of a war criminal, the society is not only grounded in ignorance, it is collectively, ethically and morally bankrupt. All the so-called “higher education” in the world will not make this fact any less so. Our so called “environmental NGOs” purport to “fight for the climate” and “save the bees” all while playing key roles in the annihilation of whole countries, complete with all the biology and life they formerly encompassed. Simultaneously “human rights NGOs”, sitting at the table with the world’s most imperial institutions, create the acquiescence needed to bomb countries to smithereens, inclusive of the women and children that live in them, while Yemenis, Palestinians, Congolese and Haitians are ignored with not a trace of outcry to be found. The fact that Purpose and The Rules co-founder Tim Dixon, enjoys reading Ronald Reagan biographies in his spare time, yet is upheld as a radical leader of social movements, reveals more about the left and it’s “movements” than can ever be articulated in this report. Welcome to the 21st century non-profit industrial spectacle.

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And finally, we come full circle, back to the technology that will further serve Western interventionism: enter the Whistler cell phone app.

The CANVAS WHISTLER Mobile Application

“BAM is now expanding in the digital realm, providing digital security training and developing Whistler, a mobile application designed to enhance the digital and physical safety of activists.” — Tech Nonprofit Directory

In partnership with PartnersGlobal (“Together For Democratic Change”), Jigsaw (Syria Defection Tracker), Wickr Foundation, Build a Movement (CANVAS) and National Democratic Institute, CANVAS has launched the “Whistler” app for “activism”.

Jigsaw is the relatively new name of Google Ideas (rebranded in 2016) which came under scrutiny for its links with the US State Department and its regime change activities. It is a tech incubator created by Google, and currently operated as a subsidiary of Alphabet which was created in 2015 to serve as the parent company of Google.

Jared Cohen is the founder and CEO of Jigsaw (as well as the former founder and director of Google Ideas). Cohen is firmly established in the crème de la crème of the upper echelon having served on the Policy Planning Committee at the US State Department for both the Obama and Bush administrations (“state department innovator”), as well as an advisor to both Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton. He is also recognized as an Adjunct Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. [Source] Cohen is also the co-founder of Movements.org. (the Alliance for Youth Movements rebranded in 2011) – an NGO “created to help online organization of groups and individuals to move democracy in stubborn nations”. Movements.org is funded through  public-private partnerships with the US State Department as the organization’s public sponsor.” [Source]

“This is the beauty of the new media. There is no way to control it.”— Srdja Popovic

Popovic states there is no way to control the “new media” (another take on New Power). What this really means, is that the non-submissive governments targeted for destabilization have no way of controlling what Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega described this past month in the failed coup attempt as an “embryo of a force”. CANVAS et al instigate the momentum, then capture it, effectively orchestrating the uprisings out of both mind and sight. The momentum of the people, manipulated by the elite forces, become the agents of their own cataclysmic decent into the neoliberal noose of imperial servitude.

In 2013 Google Ideas hosted the “Conflict in a Connected World Roundtable Series”, in partnership with the Council on Foreign Relations’ Center of Preventative Action. One can see from the summary report that the main focus of the series is the role of social media in destabilization campaigns:

“Regardless of any changes to future sanctions regimes, the importance of social media in the conflict is already enormous. In particular, the Syrian civil war has been understood by foreigners almost exclusively through the lens of social media. With limited ability for journalists to enter the country, the world has watched the evolution of the conflict on sites like Facebook and YouTube, where literally hundreds of thousands of amateur videos have been uploaded since the war began.” [Source]

People’s Intelligence

Whistler is not alone in its quest to dominate technologies’ relatively new foray into “activism”.

“USAID, Humanity United and OpenIDEO have partnered to pursue ways to prevent mass atrocities – that is, deliberate mass violence against civilians.” — The challenge, OpenIDEO website

OpenIDEO informs that “[t]oday, 1.5 billion people are living in countries affected by violent conflict. And since 1945, 67% of mass atrocities have occurred within the context of armed conflict, which makes these areas difficult to access.” What it omits is the fact that almost all large scale violence to humans on this Earth is caused by imperialism, colonialism and the capitalist industrial economy. Foreign interference ensures all three are kept alive and thriving.

Answering this challenge, apparently inspired by Avaaz, is People’s Intelligence.

“People’s Intelligence is an “Alert” winner of Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention sponsored by Humanity United and USAID.”

In September 2013, with the authorization of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, the non-profit foundation Stichting People’s Intelligence was established to develop and implement the People’s Intelligence mobile application. The application “automates the collection of relevant human rights and humanitarian information from hard to access areas using crowdsourcing and “dumb” mobile phones.”

The application is in its demo stage and can be found here.

“We welcome your hard earned currencies as well as your time and skills. In the first phases of the project you can help us design and develop PI version 1.0 to be deployed in countries where human rights need defending and humanitarian crises unfold.” — PI website

The founder of People’s Intelligence is Christophe Billen who began his career as an intern for the UN in Haiti during the crisis which removed Aristide from power in 2004. Billen has a lengthy background in security having worked as a Political Affairs officer for the United Nations in many field offices in areas of conflict (i.e foreign interference) for the United Nations MONUC (Ituri, Mahagi, Kwandroma and then Aru). He was  also “appointed to head the Lord’s Resistance Army coordination cell which monitored LRA’s activities and coordinated the responses of the UN peacekeeping mission in the Sudan and the D.R. Congo.” Billet worked as a consultant for Open Society Foundations where his work informed the design for the “People’s Intelligence” concept. [Source: LinkedIn] He now works as analyst for the International Criminal Court where he oversaw a unit “which monitored and analysed occurrences of crimes across several countries including Afghanistan, Colombia, Cote d’Ivoire, Georgia, LRA affected areas, D.R. Congo and Libya.”

 “The main beneficiaries will be the victims and witnesses who will have their voices heard and receive actionable information in return for quality information as well as partnering organizations who will become better informed and equipped to decide where to allocate resources and coordinate their efforts.”PI website [Emphasis added]

People’s Intelligence has partnered with Amnesty International, the Liberia Peacekeeping Office, Universiteit Leiden, Participatory Systems and Free Press Unlimited. It is funded by HIF, elrha and USAID. [Source] The advisory board includes United Nations, Human Rights Watch, Open Society Justice Initiative, Amnesty International and the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative. [Full list]

Amnesty International has signed a letter of intent that “once PI reaches operational maturity and conforms to Amnesty’s needs and requirements to make use of it in pursuit of their mandate.” [Source]

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As the Earth’s final remaining resources continue to be depleted at an accelerated rate, as Imperial powers fight to exercise global domination, those living in geopolitical hot zones, can expect the West and it’s bourgeoisie army of  “young leaders” to orchestrate the installation of “democracy” forcefully and strategically driven in to the very fabric of their sovereign nations. In-between Ted Talks, high level meetings at the UN, university lectures, and Starbuck lattes, the Harvard hit squad will carry out their marching orders dressed in Armani suits.

The options for outmaneuvering the tried and true methods of subjugation are limited. You can 1) run for your life  2) target those who bank on your naïveté and have sold you down the river with no systemic change 3) do nothing and be crushed by imperial forces and 4) organize like your life depended on it. Number one is not a good option since there is nowhere to run. Number two is affirmative action without freedom and self-determination. Number three means certain oppression. Number four is the only salvation.

It is not for those of us in the West to decide what options or measures are taken, this must only be afforded to those who will bear the consequences of each and every action – that is the citizens that comprise the homeland of the targeted state. What we are speaking of is self-determination. A simple moral code that colonial agents of empire are unable to grasp, and unwilling to accept.

+++

As we reach the conclusion of this report, it is vital to make clear that this analysis is not in any way suggesting “that nonviolent resistance should not have a central role in any revolutionary struggles for social change, only that the twisted imperial-friendly narrative of nonviolence promoted by such individuals should be treated with extreme caution by all activists who wish to avoid being oppressed by US backed dictatorships or their latest equally toxic  manifestation, US managed ‘democracies.” [CANVAS[ing] For The Nonviolent Propaganda Offensive: Propaganda In The Service Of Imperial Projects, March 26, 2011]

+++

Che Guevara, First Latin American Youth Congress, July 28, 1960:

“There are government leaders here in Latin America who still advise us to lick the hand that wants to hit us, and spit on the one that wants to help us. [Applause] We answer these government leaders who, in the middle of the twentieth century, recommend bowing our heads. We say, first of all, that Cuba does not bow down before anyone…

“We, who belong to the Cuban Revolution-who are the entire people of Cuba-call our friends friends, and our enemies enemies. We don’t allow halfway terms: someone’s either a friend or an enemy. [Applause] We, the people of Cuba, don’t tell any nation on earth what they should do with the International Monetary Fund,for example. But we will not tolerate them coming to tell us what to do. We know what has to be done. If they want to do what we’d do good; if not, that’s up to them. But we will not tolerate anyone telling us what to do. Because we were here on our own up to the last moment, awaiting the direct aggression of the mightiest power in the capitalist world, and we did not ask help from anyone. We were prepared, together with our people, to resist up to the final consequences of our rebel spirit.”

 

Endnotes:

[1] Other reviewers included Helen King ( Shuttleworth Foundation), Paul Maassen (Hivos), Sascha Meinrath (IndyMedia, founder of Open Technology Institute), and Russell Southwood (CEO of Balancing Act Africa).

[2] Brett Solomon is the cofounder and Executive Director of Access—a non-profit human rights organization focused on digital freedom (formerly Access Now). Access’ mission is to ensure open global internet access and an uncensored and secure digital sphere by working to create a world where citizens can be active participants in their future by freely seeking, receiving and imparting information digitally. Prior to Access, he was the Campaign Director at Avaaz.org, and before that, the first Executive Director of GetUp!. He holds a Bachelors of Law at the University of Sydney and a Masters in International Law at the University of NSW. He founded the International Youth Parliament and has worked for both Oxfam Australia and Amnesty International Australia.” [Source]

[3] According to our research Brett Solomon was the campaign director for Avaaz from 2008 -2009.

 

[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 GreenThe 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.]

Decision to Bring White Helmets to Canada Dangerous and Criminal

In Gaza

August 10, 2018

By Eva Bartlett

screenshot-122

 

Did Canadians get to vote on whether or not to bring potential terrorists or supporters of terrorists to Canada? No. Will Canadians get a say in where these potentially dangerous men will be settled? Highly unlikely.

Ninety-eight members of the White Helmets, and a few hundred of their families, were evacuated by Israel and allies to Jordan late in evening of July 21. They will seemingly be shipped off to a few Western nations for resettlement: Canada, the UK, and Germany. So far, Canada has pledged to take 50 White Helmets and around 200 family members.

Wrongly dubbed the “Syrian Civil Defense” (the actual Syrian Civil Defense has existed since 1953), the White Helmets narrative is flawed in every conceivable manner.

Packaged as neutral, heroic, volunteer rescuers, who have “saved 115,000 lives”, according to White Helmets leader Raed Al Saleh, they are in reality a massively Western-funded organization with salaried volunteers, and have no documentation of those 115,000 saved. They contain numerous members who have participated in or supported criminal acts in Syria, including torture, assassinations, beheading, and kidnapping of civilians, as well as inciting Western military intervention in Syria.

James LeMesurier, a former member of the British military who founded the White Helmets, did so in countries neighbouring Syria: in Turkey and Jordan. They have since worked solely in terrorist-held areas of Syria, and according to Syrian civilians in eastern Ghouta, they worked directly with, or were themselves, extremists of Jaysh al-Islam or other extremist groups. Civilians in east Aleppo said that White Helmets worked with al-Qaeda in Syria (the Nusra Front).

The fact that White Helmets centres are frequently, if not always, found near or next to headquarters of al-Qaeda and other terrorist factions further supports the accusations that they collaborate with terrorists—even with ISIS, as noted by ISIS hostage John Cantlie. He described the White helmets as an “ISIS fire brigade“.

White Helmets have also been at the scene of executions; filmed standing over dead Syrian soldiers; cheering on and cleaning up after an execution in Daraa Governorate, and disposing of the bodies of assassinated Syrian soldiers (including decapitated bodies) in Daraa Governorate.

White Helmets members were present to welcome Saudi terrorist Abdullah al-Muhaysini, leader of al-Nusra (al-Qaeda in Syria) who the US government designated a terrorist for “acting for or on behalf of” al-Nusra, and helping to finance them.

Over sixty White Helmets members have clear ties to terrorist and extremist groups, as shown by their own social media accounts and videos. In many of their own photos they hold weapons. Some White Helmets members have called for the murders of Shia villagers in Idlib governorate, and were instrumental in the massacre and injury of over 300 villagers, including 116 children in April 2017.

Not exactly neutral and members of the Daraa batch of White Helmets could very possibly be among those soon to be en route to Western nations.

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Not Russian propaganda: Canadian, American, British journalists first exposed the White Helmets

In September 2014, independent Canadian journalist Cory Morningstar wrote about the New York City PR firm, Purpose Inc, and its propaganda role regarding the White Helmets. In March and April 2015, independent US journalist Rick Sterling, further scrutinized the White Helmets and related “humanitarian” groups serving to call for a no-fly-zone in Syria.

Since then, and for years now, concerned journalists and commentators have written or posed questions on the entity known as the White Helmets. In addition to the years-long investigations by Vanessa Beeley, commentators – from former British ambassador to Syria Peter Ford, award-winning US journalist Gareth Porter, award-winning journalist John Pilger, and even rock legend Roger Waters, have noted that the White Helmets are a dangerous and fraudulent group, or as Pilger put it, a propaganda construct.

I have already outlined this chronology of investigations, refuting corporate media claims that voices critical of the White Helmets stem from Russian influence. Yet, slavish supporters of the White Helmets, continue to demonize anyone posing critical and needed questions on this group, generally labelling such people as “Russian bots”, “influenced by Russia”, or some variation of that, in an attempt to insist only people under the influence of Russia have been critical of the White Helmets.

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In the case of the Atlantic Council’s Ben Nimmo, his tweet on the lack of or scant mention by RT or Sputnik in 2014, 2015, to mid 2016 of the White Helmets supports my argument: those are precisely the times when the above-mentioned independent journalists were investigating the group.

White Helmets next to terrorists’ headquarters

In Syria, I saw two different White Helmets centres in close proximity to terrorists’ headquarters: one in eastern Aleppo, and one in Saqba, eastern Ghouta. The Saqba centre was two hundred metres from a factory extremists used to manufacture mortars and missiles, quite possibly those used to bomb civilians in Damascus.

 

 

It contained a fire-truck stolen from the real Syrian Civil Defense, as well as ambulances and vehicles all torched when the White Helmets left Ghouta with terrorists of Jaysh al-Islam and Faylaq al-Rahman, among others. They were all safely transported to Idlib as per the deal with the Syrian government.

The other White Helmets centre I saw was in the Ansari district of Aleppo’s east. Formerly a school (and now returned to this status), this centre was a half minute’s walk to the headquarters of al-Qaeda in Syria, as well as the Abu Amara Brigades, and other extremists.

 

 

Vanessa Beeley, who had previously been to Ansari, wrote a detailed article additionally noting that just 200 metres from that same White Helmets centre was Al Mashad Square, where 12-year-old Palestinian youth, Abdullah Issa, was savagely tortured and then slowly beheaded.

 

 

In the Old City, next to Aleppo’s citadel last May, I spoke with an older man who had remained in Aleppo during the terrorists’ rule. He told me: “The Civil Defence is supposed to rescue people, but they used to steal women’s earrings from their dead bodies. If she was wearing gold, they’d cut her hand to steal it. They are thieves, not rescuers. We saw them murdering people, many times.

In Douma and Kafr Batna, I spoke with civilians who told me they saw Jaysh al-Islam extremists wearing White Helmets uniforms, and White Helmets working with Jaysh al-Islam. Another eastern Ghouta resident, Marwan Qreisheh, said the early White Helmets members who came to Ghouta weren’t Syrian, didn’t speak Arabic, and used their money to attract “volunteers”.

He spoke of them staging rescue scenes: “They’d start filming and claiming that SAA hit this area, it was in front of our eyes, and we knew it was all staged, but we didn’t dare to stand against them because they would kill us, they would empty their gun in you immediately.

Who killed the civilians in White Helmets Douma videos?

It was the White Helmets who released (WARNING: EXTREMELY GRAPHIC) videos and photos alleging a chemical attack in Douma in April 2018. Yet, no civilian among the many I met in Douma believed there had been a chemical attack and medical staff didn’t see patients exposed to a chemical agent. More recently, the OPCW ruled out the use of a nerve agent used in Douma, finding only traces of “chlorinated organic chemicals”.

So, who and what killed the women and children shown in the White Helmets-distributed video from Douma? Did the White Helmets take part in their murder, or merely film their bodies (some arranged) after the fact?

Corporate media has diligently avoided asking a single honest question of the propaganda group they laud, and has for years attacked those of us who do ask questions and take testimonies of Syrian civilians on this matter.

Canadian cover for White Helmets

Canada has been assisting the White Helmets for some years now, under the pretext of aiding humanitarians. While the full extent of Canadian financial support to the White Helmets has yet to be revealed, at least Can$7.5 million(US$5.7mn) was given to the group, helping with “the development and expansion of early warning air raid systems.

Following the Israeli evacuation of White Helmets and their families from southern Syria, Global Affairs Canada released a statement by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland, on the “courageous volunteers”, regurgitating the White Helmets “save the innocent and the wounded” unsubstantiated claim.

Unsubstantiated because, in spite of the fancy videos, neither the White Helmets nor its UK backers can provide a list of the supposed over 115,000 civilians rescued.

While the media has lauded Canada’s role in the evacuation of the White Helmets members, it’s worth noting the person, Robin Wettlaufer, behind this evacuation effort. Wettlaufer met with White Helmet leader Raed Saleh (once denied entry to the US due to his potential ties to extremists, according to Mark Toner) in late June, as the Syrian army was regaining territory in Daraa governorate.

Wettlaufer has held the Istanbul-based position of Special Representative for Syria, under Global Affairs Canada, from March 2014 to present, according to her LinkedIn page.

In fact, she is the Special Representative to the Syrian Opposition, something noted in a December 2016 Global Affairs Canada video featuring Wettlaufer.

Given that Wettlaufer is thus Canada’s Representative to extremists in Syria, her key role in instigating the evacuation of the White Helmets is hardly surprising, let alone praise-worthy. But it should be worrying to Canadians. Did Canadians get to vote on whether or not to bring potential terrorists or supporters of terrorists to Canada? No. No vote in the Parliament, no public discussion. Will Canadians get a say in where these potentially dangerous men will be settled? No sign of that so far, and indeed highly unlikely.

Why did the Canadian government refuse the entry of 100 injured Palestinian children from Gaza in 2014, a truly humanitarian effort, and yet will fast-track the entry of potentially dangerous men with potential ties to terrorists?

As for the claims of danger to the White Helmets in southern Syria, their comrades in eastern Aleppo and in eastern Ghouta were safely transported out of those areas, along with their families and with extremists who refused to take amnesty, while Aleppo and eastern Ghouta had peace restored. The White Helmets are potential security threats to citizens in the Western nations planning on hosting them.

As citizens privy to all this information and all the questions on the White Helmets, we must demand our governments reverse this plan, or at least provide us with confirmation that the immigrants in question have been fully investigated and have not been involved in terrorist activities in Syria in any way.

 

[Eva Bartlett is a freelance journalist and rights activist with extensive experience in the Gaza Strip and Syria. Her writings can be found on her blog, In Gaza.]

 

RELATED LINKS:

SYRIA: AVAAZ, PURPOSE & THE ART OF SELLING HATE FOR EMPIRE, September 17, 2014, Cory Morningstar, Wrong Kind of Green

Seven Steps of Highly Effective Manipulators: White Helmets, Avaaz, Nicholas Kristof and Syria No Fly Zone, April 9, 2015, Rick Sterling, Dissident Voice

Humanitarians for War on Syria, March 31, 2015, Rick Sterling, Counter Punch

EXCLUSIVE: The REAL Syria Civil Defence Exposes Fake ‘White Helmets’ as Terrorist-Linked Imposters, September 23, 2016, Vanessa Beeley, 21st Century Wire

The White Helmets Files, variety of articles including especially the investigations of Vanessa Beeley, 21st Century Wire

A Flawed UN Investigation on Syria, March 11, 2017, Gareth Porter, Consortium News

JOHN PILGER: “WHITE HELMETS ARE A COMPLETE PROPAGANDA CONSTRUCT IN SYRIA”, May 24, 2017, RT.com, (exact clip here)

How the Mainstream Media Whitewashed Al-Qaeda and the White Helmets in Syria, January 6, 2018, Eva Bartlett, Global Research

LAST MEN IN ALEPPO: Al Qaeda Presented as ‘White Helmets’ for the Annual Terrorist ‘Oscar’ Nomination, January 28, 2018, Vanessa Beeley, 21st Century Wire

Ex-Pink Floyd singer denounces White Helmets as propaganda tool during Barcelona concert (VIDEO), April 16, 2018, RT.com

Torture, starvation, executions: Eastern Ghouta civilians talk of life under terrorist rule,  June 10, 2018, Eva Bartlett, RT.com

‘Propaganda organization’: White Helmets ‘engage in anti-Assad activities’ – author Sy Hersh to RT, June 30, 2018, RT.com

Whitewashing the White Helmets – Peter Ford, Former UK Ambassador to Syria Responds to UK Government Statement, July 23, 2018, 21st Century Wire

White Helmets coming ‘home’: West & Israel provide ‘exceptional’ rescue strategy for NATO’s ghosts, July 26, 2018, Vanessa Beeley, RT.com

TRUDEAU GOVERNMENT ADMITS TERRORIST AUXILIARIES TO CANADA, July 23, 2018, Vanessa Beeley, The Wall Will Fall

Whitewashing the White Helmets – Peter Ford, Former UK Ambassador to Syria Responds to UK Government Statement

The Wall Will Fall

July 23, 2018

Peter Ford, Former Ambassador to Syria

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Former Ambassador to Syria 2003 – 2006, Peter Ford responds to the UK Government statement by Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt on “exceptional” Israeli evacuation of the UK/US Coalition intelligence construct, the White Helmets:

Following a joint diplomatic effort by the UK and international partners, a group of White Helmets volunteers from southern Syria and their families have been able to leave Syria for safety.

They are now being assisted by the UNHCR in Jordan pending international resettlement.

The White Helmets have saved over 115,000 lives during the Syrian conflict, at great risk to their own. Many White Helmets volunteers have also been killed while doing their work – trying to rescue civilians trapped in bombarded buildings or providing first aid to injured civilians. White Helmets have been the target of attacks and, due to their high profile, we judged that, in these particular circumstances, the volunteers required immediate protection. We therefore took steps with the aim of affording that protection to as many of the volunteers and their families as possible.

We pay tribute to the brave and selfless work that White Helmets volunteers have done to save Syrians on all sides of the conflict.

Peter Ford responds:

“The government statement contains two bare-faced lies.

The White Helmets most definitely have not assisted all sides in the conflict. From the beginning they have only ever operated in rebel-held areas. Government controlled areas have the real Syrian Civil Defence and Syrian Red Crescent. This is quite a big whopper on the government’s part. It goes without saying that the media will not pick up on it.

Secondly the White Helmets are not volunteers. They are doing jobs for which they are paid, by Western governments. They have a press department 150 strong, bigger than that for the whole of the UK ambulance service. Their claims of saving over 115,000 lives have never been verified. The co-location of their offices with jihadi operation centres has been well documented.

Apparently the government are lying because they are nervous of being accused of importing into this country scores of dangerous migrants who have many times been reported to be associating with extremists (social media is rife with self-propagated videos of their misdeeds such as participation in beheadings and waving ISIS and Al Qaida flags), and wish to whitewash them.

The White Helmets’ dramatic exfiltration leaves many questions unanswered

1.  Why was it deemed necessary to evacuate this particular group in the south when other groups of White Helmets simply got on the buses to Northern Syria when military operations concluded in Aleppo, Eastern Ghouta and elsewhere, and when similar exodus by bus has been arranged for rebels in Deraa?

2. Why should White Helmets be considered to be more at risk than combatants, many of whom have either ‘reconciled’ or been bussed out? In the demonology of the government side the White Helmets are not seen as worse than other jihadis.

3. Might the British government have been afraid of this particular group being caught and interrogated, revealing perhaps the truth about alleged chemical weapon incidents?

4.  Will they now be foisted on to areas of the UK already struggling to absorb migrants, or will they go to places like Esher and Carshalton?

5.  Will local councils be informed about the backgrounds of these fugitives? Will local councils be given extra resources to absorb them and cope with resulting security needs, bearing in mind that Raed Saleh, leader of the White Helmets, was refused a visa to the US in 2016?”

The New Humanitarianism: The Imperative to ‘Act’ and to ‘Act Now’

April 14, 2018

 

An Excerpt from the book Celebrity Humanitarianism – The Ideology of Global Charity by Ilan KapoorFirst [2013]

 

‘Ilan Kapoor’s stunning new book exposes the most appealing – and thus most dangerous – sacred cows of contemporary ideology: the humanitarian actor, the billionaire philanthropist, and the NGO. Kapoor shows that it is precisely where we feel most emotionally satisfied that we must be most suspicious. Celebrity Humanitarianism represents a landmark in the critique of ideology and a decisive blow in the struggle against apolitical ethics.’ — Todd McGowan, University of Vermont, USA

 

Since the end of the Cold War, there has been an explosion of international NGOs, particularly development and humanitarian ones, leading to the rise of what is termed ‘global civil society’. In large measure, this is due to the ascendancy of neoliberalism, which has seen NGOs fill the many gaps created by government cutbacks and privatization. But in part, it is also the result of the intensification of globalization and the information economy, which has opened up possibilities for greater  borderlessness’. Not content with doing only aid and development work, NGOs have carved out an increasingly more activist and interventionist role for themselves in the global arena. This trend is what has been called ‘the new humanitarianism’.

Central to the new humanitarianism is a security discourse, which divides the world, not so much along the lines of wealth vs. poverty as it used to, but more in terms of stability vs. threat. Mark Duffield argues that the security discourse is constructed on the basis of the metaphor of the ‘borderlands’ (i.e. the Third World), an imagined geographic space of instability, excess, and social breakdown, which poses a threat to the metropolitan areas (2001: 309).

The borderlands are depicted as violent and unpredictable, or at least always a  potential danger; they are the source of many of the problems seen to plague global security, including drug trafficking, terrorism, refugee flows, and corrupt/weak/rogue states.

Accordingly, the point of international intervention is to tame and manage instability. In this scenario, poverty, corruption, and refugee flows are to be feared much more than alleviated. Development and humanitarianism are seen not as problems of reducing inequality or protecting the most vulnerable, but as technologies of security, which function ‘to contain and manage underdevelopment’s destabilizing effects’ (Duffield 2007: ix, 24).

The practical outcome of this new humanitarianism is a significant shift away from respecting national sovereignty and towards external intervention in the Third World: it means neglecting international law, or obeying the ‘higher’ moral law of humanitarianism, under the guise of the ‘responsibility to protect’ (cf. Mamdani 2009: 274; Watson 2011: 5). In other words, new humanitarianism has increasingly become neoimperialism, allowing the West to ‘transform conflicts, decrease violence and set the stage for liberal development’ (Duffield et al. 2001: 269). Not just a Third World country’s foreign policy, but now also its domestic economic or human rights situation is seen as a credible threat (Duffield 2001: 311), recalling colonialism’s ‘civilizing mission’ to eradicate ‘barbaric’ Third World cultural practices such as widow-burning or infanticide. More often than not, the form of external intervention is military, that is, armed intervention parading as humanitarian rescue mission. The post- 9/11 War on Terror has only escalated this trend, enabling the possibility of ‘unending war’ to secure the borderlands (e.g. Iraq, Afghanistan) (Duffield 2007: 131). Illustrative of unending war is the following list, compiled by Watson (2011: 4), enumerating the countries for which humanitarianism has been used to justify military intervention in recent years: Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Angola, Mozambique, Kosovo, East Timor, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Zaire, Sudan, Côte d’Ivoire, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

NGOs are firmly enmeshed in this security–humanitarian network. For the past two decades particularly, the private–public linkages between Western states, UN agencies, private firms, militaries, and NGOs has grown. In fact, as Duffield puts it, the securitization of development/humanitarianism ‘has been of central importance for legitimising the growing involvement of non-state actors’ (2001: 312; cf. Watson 2011: 3–4). And NGOs have become not just accomplices in this network, but key players. Mamdani goes so far as to argue that the new humanitarianism is the ‘twin of the War on Terror’ (2009: 274), with groups such as Save Darfur as pivotal facilitators. NGOs have pushed for and capitalized on the vast resources directed at emergency and security operations around the globe. Many such operations (e.g. in Afghanistan, Haiti, Bosnia) have been ambitious and well coordinated, with relief agencies working alongside military or peacekeeping campaigns.

 

Above: Res Publica (Avaaz) calling for a Darfur intervention and criminal indictment. August 3, 2004 screenshot: “Only one thing will stop the killing in Sudan: an immediate international intervention” … “Click here to sign a petition calling for humanitarian intervention Darfur” [WKOG screenshot]

 

The imperative to ‘act’ and to ‘act now’ is central to these NGO campaigns.

To be sure, beginning mainly in the post-World War II era, organizations such as Oxfam, ActionAid, and MSF were created to respond to global crises, ranging from armed conflicts and epidemics to ‘natural’ or man-made disasters. Whether we are talking about the 1949 Palestinian refugee situation, the 1967 Nigerian civil war, the 1984–85 Ethiopian famine, or the more recent 2005 Pakistan earthquake, emergencies have become an opportunity for humanitarian NGOs to function and even expand. Indeed, they have been able to justify and aggrandize themselves based on what Duffield refers to as a ‘permanent emergency regime’ (2007: 25, 47–49, 219). All of them rely on a ‘threaturgency narrative’ to ‘legitimize their functions’ (Watson 2011: 9); it is this narrative that allows them to identify and categorize the disaster (e.g. as an impending famine or a pressing refugee crisis), as well as publicly highlight the humanitarian duty to save lives or assist ‘populations in distress’, as MSF puts it (http://www.msf.org).

One of the most poignant recent examples of the construction of emergency discourse is that of the Save Darfur Coalition, especially during the 2004–7 period. The Coalition relied on highly charged rhetoric to issue its emergency call for international intervention. The first move, as Mamdani underlines (2009: 64–65), was to categorize the conflict in the Darfur region as racially motivated: the government-armed ‘Arab Janjaweed militia’ were reportedly perpetrating violence against ‘black-skinned non-Arabs’. Such stereotyping became pervasive in Western public discourse and was often repeated by the mainstream press, including The Washington Post (Mamdani 2009: 64; cf. Hassan 2010: 98). Mamdani notes (2009: 6) that this ethnicized/racialized framing has its origins in the colonial tradition of racializing the peoples of Sudan for political purposes (i.e. as a divide and rule strategy); it is a framing that, in the contemporary global conjuncture, only served to reinforce the discourse of the War on Terror, demonizing Islam and Arabs, and pressing for immediate counter-terrorist action.

Above: Res Publica (Avaaz) March 8, 2005 screenshot: “Sign a petition below … over 18,000 signatories in the last week!” [WKOG screenshot]

 

The Coalition’s second discursive move was to characterize the Darfur situation as ‘genocide’ (despite evidence to the contrary, as we shall see below). It is the deployment of this culturally and politically charged term that, almost single-handedly, brought together such a large and diverse range of US-based organizations that made up the Coalition (see above), while catching the attention of the media and politicians alike (cf. Save Darfur Coalition 2011). After Save Darfur’s ‘genocide alert’ in 2004, events quickly gathered pace: a student-led divestment campaign was organized, a large Save Darfur Rally To Stop Genocide was held in Washington, DC, and an impassioned plea (by George Clooney) was made to the UN Security Council for international intervention. In 2007, the rhetoric was ratcheted up. The Coalition criticized China for its strong support of the Sudanese government, with a campaign that included taking out full-page advertisements in The New York Times and Mia Farrow denouncing the upcoming Beijing Olympics as the ‘Genocide Olympics’.

The overall effect of this emergency discourse was to exercise tremendous pressure on political leaders in the US and around the world. Secretary of State Colin Powell testified in front of the Senate Relations Committee that genocide was being committed in Darfur. The US Congress agreed, pushing for political and economic sanctions for Sudan. Meanwhile, the UN Security Council referred the Darfur case to the International Criminal Court, sent UN peacekeeping troops to Sudan, and following China’s change of position on the Council in the face of public pressure, established a larger joint UN–African Union peacekeeping mission, with financial support from the US Congress (cf. Flint and de Waal 2008: 181, 280; Haeri 2008: 35–37).

One of the most troubling features of this NGO emergency discourse is its tendency towards militarization and war. The imperative to act ‘now’ tends to provide added impetus and rationale for militarized intervention. We are familiar with NGOs providing relief work in war zones, in which they must sometimes coordinate with warring factions to deliver aid programs. We are also familiar with the use of army troops in non-military crises such as the Asian Tsunami in 2004 or Hurricane Katrina in 2005 (to keep law and order, or help NGOs distribute food aid). Increasingly, as Watson argues, ‘states and the international community have institutionalized a militarized response through the establishment of specialized military entities such as the United States Foreign Disaster Assistance or the Canadian Disaster Assistance Response Team’ (2011: 9).

But what is relatively new and noteworthy is the call by humanitarian NGOs for military intervention – a phenomenon described by the paradoxical concept, ‘humanitarian war’. It is a concept that, as Vanessa Pupavec notes, NGOs themselves helped legitimate, especially through their demands for military intervention in the Balkans during the 1990s (2006: 263). Thus, MSF appealed for military action in Bosnia in the mid-1990s, while Save the Children lobbied Western governments for armed intervention in Kosovo in the late 1990s (Pupavec 2006: 255). Since that time, several other similar calls have been made. Of particular note are Oxfam’s demand, in relation to the Darfur situation, for a broader interpretation of the UN Charter on the principle of non-interference to include intervention, and Save Darfur’s outright plea for a no-fly zone and Western military action. In fact, ‘Out of Iraq and Into Darfur’ became a common Save Darfur slogan. Pupavec points out, in this regard, that NGOs were quick to criticize the failure to obtain UN Security Council authorization for military intervention in Iraq, but were only too willing to ignore such authorization when they demanded military  ntervention in Kosovo and Darfur (2006: 266).

Above: Res Publica (Avaaz): “SUCCESS!! – Humanitarian Intervention in Darfur” … “SUCCESS!! – International Criminal Court to Prosecute Architects of Genocide in Darfur” [February 10, 2006 screenshot]

 

If rhetorical demands for action raise the stakes, resulting in the militarization of the new humanitarianism, so do media demands for spectacle. The mediatization of NGO emergency work – that is, the drive not just to act now, but also to be seen to be acting now – adds greater urgency. NGOs may well be responding to save lives, but they are also playing to the global media and public. MSF’s témoignage (witnessing) after all, is about witnessing not just on behalf of disaster victims, but also for the media/public. This recalls our earlier arguments about the entertainmentization of humanitarianism – the pressures to create ‘megaspectacles’, to satisfy seemingly insatiable appetites for suffering, death, and disaster. The militarization of emergency work only supplies further fuel to this fire, aiding and abetting the spectacularization of violence and war. In this regard, Henry Giroux contends that we are witnessing a new phase in the society of the spectacle, that of the ‘spectacle of terrorism’ (2006: 26).

According to him, a ‘visual culture of shock and awe has emerged’, which celebrates violence in the form of night bombing raids, hostage takings, and beheadings, or the destruction of public buildings (2006: 21, 24).

The pressure to create spectacle, then, means that spectacular NGOs are not simply observers or objective relays in delivering humanitarian aid; they are full-fledged actors, identifying emergencies and constructing them for public consumption (cf. Keenan 2002: 5). Add militarization to this mix, and you move from the imperative to act now and be seen to be acting now, to an imperative to be seen to be acting now, militarily if needs be (or preferably?).

The systemic and symbolic violence of spectacular NGOs

Three friends are having a drink at the bar. The first one says, ‘A horrible thing  happened to me. At my travel agency, I wanted to say “A ticket to Pittsburgh!” and I said “A ticket to Pissburgh!”’ The second one replies, ‘That’s nothing. At breakfast, I wanted to say to my partner “Could you pass the sugar, honey?” and what I said was “You dirty fool, you ruined my life!”’ The third one concludes, ‘Wait till you hear what happened to me. After gathering the courage all night, I decided to say to my spouse at breakfast exactly what you said to yours, and I ended up saying “Could you pass me the sugar, honey?”’

(adapted from Žižek 2004b: 61)

Often, the most traumatic situations are not necessarily the outwardly perceptible ones (i.e. the gaffes of the first and second interlocutors in the joke), but the less obvious ones (i.e. the repressed content in the outward politeness of the third). As Paul Taylor suggests, telling are the moments ‘in which nothing of substance is said… in that non-utterance resides all manner of psychologically destructive forces’ (2010: 93).

And so it is with spectacular (humanitarian) NGOs: it is most often in these organizations’ non-utterances that ideological violence is to be found. The spectacle of NGO humanitarianism is revealing not simply for what it shows, but more importantly for the violence it often ignores, takes for granted, or disavows. Žižek distinguishes two types of violence: (i) ‘subjective violence’, which is directly visible and identifiable (e.g. emaciated babies, physical destruction in the wake of a hurricane); and (ii) ‘objective violence’, which is less immediately perceptible (2008a: 1–2). Objective violence is itself made up of ‘systemic violence’, which refers to our often slow yet steady social oppressions  (e.g. gender exclusion, wage discrimination, the daily grind of alienating work), and ‘symbolic violence’, the violence inherent in our systems of representation (e.g. the way in which an image of a starving child can hide as much as it reveals). The crucial point for Žižek is that objective violence is what is required for the ‘normal’ functioning of our social and economic systems. In other words, systemic and symbolic violence is the background against which subjective violence happens: objective violence ‘may be invisible, but it has to be taken into account if one is to make sense of what otherwise seem to be “irrational” explosions of subjective violence’ (Žižek 2008a: 2). Accordingly, I’d like to highlight the systemic and symbolic violence of humanitarian NGOs, violence which serves as backdrop to their spectacle.

The systemic violence of humanitarian NGOs stems, at least in part, from the very nature of their work – short-term emergency operations that attempt to rescue people from immediate danger, but make no attempt to address the broader or underlying causes of such danger. As MSF’s James Orbinsky readily admits, MSF action ‘takes place in the short term’ with limited objectives in the wake of a crisis, ‘but does not itself attempt to solve the crisis’ (2000: 10). The problem is that such an approach is premised on what was earlier denoted as a ‘permanent emergency regime’: rather than working themselves out of a job, NGOs depend (and count) on more and more crises.

They have every interest in global neoliberal capitalism’s continued production of emergencies, which enables and legitimizes their spectacular humanitarianism. In this sense, the NGO-ization of humanitarianism (and development) may have less to do with finding effective solutions to problems than a way of keeping the humanitarian business in business.

True, some humanitarian NGOs do carry out broader ‘development’ programming, alongside their short-term relief and advocacy work. For example, MSF organizes a campaign to make cheaper generic drugs more readily available to Third World countries (cf. http://www.msfaccess.org), and Oxfam runs a host of projects in gender equality, health, and education around the world (cf. Oxfam UK 2011). But as pointed out in Chapters 1 and 2, most of these initiatives are depoliticized; they steer clear of, say, anti-capitalist/anti-racist critique, or unionization of workers (or women), in favour of tamer and nonthreatening areas such as mainstream human/gender rights and education. As Issa Shivji contends, in Sub-Saharan Africa issues of equality and equity are banished to the ‘realm of rights, not development’; that is, rights are a question of NGO ‘advocacy’, ‘not a terrain of people’s struggle’ (2006: 35). Moreover, many NGO development projects (e.g. job training, micro-credit) are ultimately an attempt at integrating subaltern groups into global capital; as James Petras puts it (1999: 432), they help corner ‘a new segment of the poor’ (e.g. young people, marginalized women, landless farmers, the urban poor), binding them to market entrepreneurialism. The result once again is a reaffirmation of the status quo, whose systemic violence is the basis for humanitarianism. And so the cycle continues … (I am not, of course, suggesting that humanitarian advocacy/relief and development should not happen, or that people must not be assisted in disasters; the problem is the significant institutional interests in people’s ongoing suffering or dispossession, and the enormous investments made in addressing the symptoms rather than the cure.)

This myopic and status quo approach is integral to the symbolic politics of humanitarian NGOs, too. The spectacularization of their relief and advocacy work is notable for what it includes as much as what it excludes. There is, first, the tendency (underlined earlier) to ‘sell’ stories and images that are visually and sound-byte friendly. Spectacles involving celebrities, poverty-stricken people, crying   mothers/children, gun-toting soldiers, or war-ravaged landscapes tend to be given priority. Most often, the resulting sensationalized images/stories are serialized and repeated to achieve maximum public and media spread and exposure. As one NGO media person puts it, ‘the misery of the victims of famine, flood, war, and plague must be underlined, perhaps even exaggerated, if [the organization] is to attract sufficient public attention’ (quoted in DeChaine 2002: 361). In this regard, MSF has been criticized for its sensationalized stories, causing some to pejoratively characterize the organization’s press officers as ‘catastrophe babes’, ‘whose motives are said to be driven more by the market than by the crises’ (DeChaine 2002: 360). Such tendencies  illustrate well the symbolic violence noted above, fetishizing and commodifying the outwardly visible (i.e. ‘subjective violence’) in the service of the society of the spectacle.

More often than not, the stories and commodity-images produced by NGOs resort to classic hero narratives, in which the NGO-as-hero/celebrity overcomes adversity (obstacles, enemies, crises) to save hapless victims. All the characters are clearly identifiable: the saviour-heroes are the aid workers, human rights advocates, and volunteer doctors/nurses; the enemies/adversaries are ‘natural’ disasters, or corrupt and authoritarian governments/leaders (e.g. the Janjaweed militia and President Al-Bashir, in the case of the Save Darfur narrative); and the victims are women, children, and dispossessed communities. Robert DeChaine states, for instance, that MSF’s credibility as a humanitarian agency hinges at least in part on ‘its ability to establish a perception of its volunteers as courageous, ideologically pure, morally committed agents of change. They are saviors, champions of the voiceless, who knowingly and willfully face the morally unrighteous enemies of humanity’ (2002: 362).

The creation of victims is key, and the humanitarian spectacle manages to never run out of them. Debrix argues that what transnational humanitarian NGOs such as MSF create when they intervene across state boundaries are ‘spaces of victimhood’, both spatial and symbolic: ‘Under the guise of reaching “victims” the world over, MSF constructs new spaces – humanitarian zones – inside which individuals in distress are identified as “victims”, are sorted out, and become recognisable as generalised examples of human drama’ (1998: 827).  The establishment of refugee camps, famine sanctuaries, and the like, are meant to clearly demarcate these spaces, so that the victims can be triaged, categorized, treated, managed.

The people shepherded into these zones tend to be constructed as passive beneficiaries. Rarely do they have a voice; most often, it is the NGOs that speak and ‘witness’ for them. In the Darfur debacle, for example, there was a notable absence of any articulate Sudanese or indeed Darfurian voices; as Salah Hassan points out, the discourse was dominated by ‘Western celebrity activists, aid workers, and other self-appointed experts and spokespersons, thus reconfiguring the “white man’s burden” in a significant way’ (2010: 97). Faced with such persistent victimization, it should hardly be surprising that NGO saviourheroes have sometimes been received by disaster ‘victims’ with hostility rather than thanks, as in the case, for example, of Somalia in 1992 or Iraq after the 2003 invasion (Watson 2011: 14).

Kate Manzo (2008) underlines how often humanitarian NGOs resort to the use of child iconography (usually close-ups of single children’s faces). Think of the 1960s ‘Biafra child’, the 1980s ‘Ethiopia child’, or the current-day Plan/World Vision/Save the Children poster child. Child imagery has become the face and brand of NGO humanitarianism (cf. Chapter 1). Here too, the child tends to be depicted as victim, with children’s commodity-images deployed to evoke innocence, dependence, suffering (Manzo 2008: 636). Frequently, the child is meant to stand for the Third World, crying out to be helped and saved.  Such paternalism only reproduces colonial tropes of infantalization of the colonies to rationalize Europe’s ‘civilizing mission’.

The production of these black-and-white stories and images, with plainly identifiable heroes, adversaries, and victims, makes for the ideal humanitarian morality tale. Drama and sensationalism permit clear and simplified messaging, enabling the audience to take sides, claim moral indignation at the situation, and feel good about its support for NGO humanitarianism. Mamdani likens this to a kind of pornography, which in the case of Save Darfur yielded a highly moral movement that appealed to people’s self-righteousness rather than political analysis (2009: 56–57; cf. Flint and de Waal 2008; DeChaine 2002: 358–59). Moral campaigns tend towards depoliticization, opting (as we have seen) for short-term, managerial, and emergency/militarized solutions. Pupavec contends that moral advocacy avoids ‘the stresses and  responsibilities of implementing assistance programmes on the ground … In other words, advocacy can in some cases represent a disingenuous flight from responsibility for social problems, rather than deeper engagement with them’ (2006: 266).

The problem with the moral spectacle is precisely that it is less concerned with analysis and understanding than with taking sides and issuing calls to action. Manichean tales simplify, mystify, and ignore the often highly complex politics of emergencies. The focus on the outwardly visible and the spectacular, on special effects and sound-bytes, avoids layered, substantive, and mediaunfriendly investigation. Sensationalized media reports tend to decontextualize and homogenize, telling the story for its universal message, not its specific content: thus, for instance, earthquake ‘victims’ stand as ‘global victims’, so that the disaster ‘is made into the general condition of humankind’ (Debrix 1998: 841, 843). Media/NGO stories tend to linger on the photogenic, privileging physical destruction. In the case of the 2004 Asian Tsunami, Watson finds that the disaster was presented in the media as ‘natural’, ‘unpreventable’, ‘indiscriminate’, or ‘random’, when in fact the physical destruction and human suffering had as much to do with human activity and social systems (e.g. use of poor building materials, especially in poorer neighbourhoods): ‘the physical evidence is used to tell a particular story – one that, in essence, speaks for itself in a way that is de-historical and de-political’ (2011: 14–15).

 

Above image from the Avaaz website: “Libya No-Fly Zone: As Libyan government jets drop bombs on the civilian population, the UN Security Council will decide in 48 hours whether to impose a no-fly zone to keep Qaddafi’s warplanes on the ground.” [Emphasis in original]

 

What is left out of the NGO/media stories are the un-photogenic details, the ‘boring’ particulars of the daily grind of people’s lives, the recurring patterns of alienation or marginalization. Historical knowledge is a no-no: ‘spectacular time’ militates against ‘historical time’, because the former must organize information ‘through the media as dramatic events that are quickly displaced and forgotten’ (Stevenson 2010: 162). When there is interest in details, the media usually home in on the personal (i.e. issues of identity, individual tragedy, etc.) or the gory (i.e. violence), rather than broader politics. In the 2004 Asian Tsunami, Watson finds that the media tended to fetishize human-interest stories (e.g. personal and family tragedies), devoid of any social or political context, and to sometimes suggest that ‘victims’ were responsible for their own plight (2011: 14). Moreover, all tsunami ‘victims’ were treated the same, ignoring the fact that local residents and Western tourists were differently impacted, and that local women and children, in particular, were the worst affected: the ‘human-tragedy component served to tie all the human victims together: Westerners and locally affected populations … [thus obliterating] the different sources of vulnerability for the two groups’ (Watson 2011: 14–15). Similarly, in the Hurricane Katrina crisis, Tierney et al. (2006) find that the media focused almost exclusively on issues of looting, poverty, and racial tensions, and had almost nothing to say about recurring state cuts for infrastructure and social services in the worst affected, low-lying, and mainly poor black neighbourhoods. Concentrating on ‘secondary malfunctions’ and ‘subjective violence’ – poverty, crime, corruption, individual trauma – as opposed to the ‘objective violence’ of, say, inequality and broader political economy, is a recurring ideological strategy that we have observed before. ‘Under the guise of exposing global trauma and injustice in spectacular detail, genuine consideration of the key political and economic causes is displaced’ (Taylor 2010: 131).

 

Such tendencies to ignore key details or broader contexts are integral to the types of photos or films produced by NGOs. Invariably, these are either largescale images (i.e. aerial or wide-angle shots) of landscapes and neighbourhoods, or close-ups of individuals and faces. This toggling between the bird’s eye view and the shrunk/miniaturized view, as Jim Igoe argues,

allows for the simultaneous presentation of problems that are so large they demand the attention of the whole of humanity, while identifying specific groups of people who are their perpetrators … Missing from these presentations are the complex and messy connections and relationships that are invisible in both the open-ended vastness of spectacular [landscapes] and the compelling specificity of prosperous villagers. (2010: 382)

It is not just the broader contexts of emergencies that spectacular humanitarianism ignores; it is also that some emergencies tend to be neglected altogether. During the Asian Tsunami, for example, the Western press focused almost exclusively on known tourist locations across the region, overlooking the devastation in ‘lesser-known countries and localities’ (Cottle and Nolan 2007: 879). The other, more telling recent example here is the Congo, where over four million people have died over the last decade, but which has received little attention from the press. Žižek writes in this regard that:

The Congo today has effectively re-emerged as a Conradian ‘heart of darkness’. No one dares to confront it head on. The death of a West Bank Palestinian child, not to mention an Israeli or American, is mediatically worth thousands of times more than the death of a nameless Congolese. (2008a: 3; cf. Mamdani 2009: 63)

The various manifestations of symbolic and systemic violence outlined above are revealing of the ideology of spectacular NGOs. For what is ideology, in the Žižekian sense that we mean it, other than the production of spectacular images and smooth spaces (i.e. humanitarian zones) to cover up the Real (broader political economy, long-term political alternatives, Western complicity)? The glossy photos and sensational headlines help create pure, untarnished, and moral humanitarian fantasies to be commodified and sold. The smooth spaces (refugee camps, etc.) help manufacture artificial humanitarian sanctuaries where ‘victims’ are categorized, controlled, and ultimately served up as advertisements for the likes of MSF, Save Darfur, or Save the Children (cf. Debrix 1998). The NGO/media spectacle helps to unify and stabilize reality, disavowing anything that disturbs the humanitarian dream-fantasy, is discomforting to the public, or threatens the neoliberal global order. Outwardly visible, subjective violence may well be shown, or even fetishized, but that it is symptomatic of a dirty underside, a broader underlying objective violence, is glossed over.

Of course, spectacular NGOs hide behind their faux objectivity and nonpartisan humanitarianism to repudiate any accusations of political ideology. Yet, as we have seen, their very presentation of reality through their stories and images is already an ideological construction of it (cf. Taylor 2010: 83). They create (the public view of ) emergencies and disasters in advance, so that ‘reality’ and the audience’s perception of it are one and the same (cf. Žižek 1994b: 15). Thus, Debord writes, ‘For what is communicated are orders: and with perfect harmony, those who give them are also those who tell us what they think of them’ (1990: 6).

 

[Ilan Kapoor is a Professor of Critical Development Studies at the Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University. He teaches in the area of global development and environmental politics, and his research focuses on postcolonial theory and politics, participatory development and democracy, and more recently, ideology critique. He is the author of The Postcolonial Politics of Development (Routledge 2008), and more recently, Celebrity Humanitarianism: The Ideology of Global Charity (Routledge 2013). He is currently writing a book on psychoanalysis and development.”]

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REAL Syria Civil Defence Describe Terrorist ‘Double Taps’ & Chemical Weapon Attacks in Aleppo

21st Century Wire

March 26, 2018

By Vanessa Beeley

 


One of the many REAL Syria Civil Defence vehicles that had been targeted by Nusra Front & associated extremist groups in control of Layramoun and areas surrounding the RSCD centre in East Aleppo, prior to final liberation by the SAA and allies in December 2016. January 2018 (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

The Syrian Arab Army is powering towards a final victory in Eastern Ghouta. Tens of thousands of Syrian civilians have been liberated over the last few days and are pouring out of the enclaves that have been controlled, for the last five years, by groups such as Failaq Al Rahman, Ahrar al Sham, a much diminished Free Syrian Army and finally, Jabhat Al Nusra which is Al Qaeda in Syria.

JAN goes by the rebranded name of Hayat Tahrir Al Sham but retains the same leadership and extremist ideology. All these groups have been financed by a variety of Gulf States & armed, supported, equipped by NATO member states led by the United States.

The colonial media in the West has resisted this SAA campaign to remove their state-sanctioned terrorist assets on the ground in the eastern suburbs of Damascus with familiar fury and hysterical sensationalism. Much of that hyperbole is sustained by the reports and daily cameo videos from the multi-million-dollar propaganda construct, the White Helmets, embedded with the aforementioned extremist groups in Eastern Ghouta.

Interestingly in recent weeks we have seen a change of uniform for the White Helmets and a rebrand very similar to that of their partners on the ground inside Syria – Nusra Front. Many media outlets have described the White Helmets as the Civil Defence or even as the Syrian Civil Guard.

Perhaps they are trying to distance the group from the mountain of evidence that has been amassed against them by a number of analysts and investigative journalists, much of it emanating from the White Helmets themselves or from the Syrian people who have lived under their occupation in areas previously occupied by teams of White Helmets alongside Nusra Front. This tweet taken from one of their many Twitter pages show the White Helmets ‘resplendent’ in their new kit which somehow made it safely into Eastern Ghouta despite the alleged Syrian government ‘siege’ of the district.

What has underpinned the Western media magnification of the White Helmet claims is the reliance upon two primary propaganda drivers.

1. Alleged “double tap” airstrikes by the Syrian Arab Air Force and Russian Air Force.

“Ten White Helmet volunteers have been killed in Syria over the past month, including two in eastern Ghouta. Half of them were killed in what are known as “double-tap” strikes, in which a plane bombs an area and then returns to attack it again after rescue workers have arrived.” ~ Kareem Shaheen based in Istanbul and reporting for The Guardian.

2. Alleged Chemical Weapons attacks by the SAA.

“Eight volunteers have been wounded in Ghouta, including two in an alleged chlorine attack on Sunday night.” ~ Kareem Shaheen in the same Guardian article.

As Syrian regime bombs rain down, the White Helmets fear their families will be next” Kareem Shaheen opines as his opener to this familiar romanticization of the White Helmet organisation. The Guardian has consistently been at the forefront of the White Helmet media protection racket yet has never examined their darker side that has been in full view to other more discerning media outlets since the White Helmets were established by the British and American hybrid war experts in March 2013.

 Another pro-imperialist academic and theatrical commentator on the Syrian conflict, Idrees Ahmad, has even gone so far as to describe the White Helmets as his “family” and any criticism of this organisation is usually followed by a stream of invective and a block by Ahmad on Twitter. This is a reaction that is designed to deter those of faint heart from investigating this UK FCO intelligence asset working hard to bring the pressure of the pseudo humanitarian complex to bear upon the Syrian government and its allies.

This is extraordinary behaviour for an ‘academic’, one who appears to be incapable of admitting there is a diverging view – a view that highlights the criminal and violently sectarian nature of the White Helmets as testified to by a large number of Syrian civilians, particularly from East Aleppofollowing its final liberation in December 2016.

As one corporate media journalist admitted to me recently inside Syria – “the White Helmets are too polarizing and controversial.” It appears that they are the “untouchables” in mainstream media and neocon circles. Hardly surprising that this is a red rag to independent media that has not abandoned its principles, nor its moral compass just because a subject becomes high-risk according to those who further the ambitions of some of the most predatory global powers that are currently occupying and targeting Syria with an aim to reduce it to the same hollowed out, terrorist infested state as Libya.

Aleppo – The REAL Syria Civil Defence Highlights Western Media’s Dishonest Reporting on Syrian Conflict

Unlike the corporate media who have shied away from being set upon by the White Helmet lynch mob – we at 21st Century Wire have consistently exposed this organisation for the fraudulent “shadow state” concept it really is. So have John Pilger, Robert Parry, Finian Cunningham, Richard Labeviere, Jeremy Salt, Tony Cartalucci, Afshin Rattansi, Stephen Kinzer, Gareth Porter, Scott Ritter, Philip Giraldi, Ron Paul, Daniel McAdams, Eva Bartlett, Tim Anderson, UK Column, Clarity of Signal, Syrian War Blog and many many more of the uncompromised media.


View from the RSCD yard in Layramoun, Aleppo, 25 meters from the frontlines with Nusra Front and associated militant factions. January 2018. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

I had previously visited the REAL Syria Civil Defence (RSCD) centres in Damascus, Lattakia, Tartous and Aleppo in the Hamdaniyeh area during the final battles for East Aleppo’s liberation. On New Year’s Day in 2018 I finally visited the main centre in Layramoun, Aleppo. The crew here had stayed in the centre throughout the occupation of East Aleppo by the US/UK/EU supported and armed terrorist factions, financed by UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

They were less than 25 metres from the Terrorist front lines, dominated by Nusra Front. They were also very close to Bani Zaid, another fiercely contested area held by the so-called “moderate” 16th Division of the  Free Syrian Army in partnership with Nusra Front, for a period of time.


One of the many RSCD ambulances that had been put out of service by mortar or sniper fire from terrorist held enclaves. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

These terrorist-held areas would rain mortars down upon civilian districts of Syrian government controlled West Aleppo. The commander of the RSCD told me that their volunteer Civil Defence centre received between 10-20 mortars or rockets per day over the 4.5 year occupation of the East. Everywhere we walked in the yard, we saw the mangled remains of vehicles and buildings that had been targeted. Twisted metal, gaping holes in the roof of most buildings, craters in the tarmac now overgrown with grass and weeds.


One of the buildings that had housed RSCD vehicles, targeted by Nusra Front mortars. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

“They (terrorists) targeted us deliberately in order to destroy our equipment & structures. They wanted to prevent us being able to work for our people. They would target our crew with sniper fire and explosive bullets. Their main mission was to kill the crew and destroy our base so we couldnt care for the people of Aleppo” ~ Commanding Officer (CO) of RSCD, Layramoun.

According to the Commanding Officer of this RSCD centre, the main terrorist objective was to paralyse the essential infrastructure for the 1.5 million Syrian civilians sheltering in the Syrian Government controlled West Aleppo. This included the destruction of water trucks, water pipes, electricity stations and the RSCD crews, vehicles and equipment.

“The Syrian people are our people. It is our duty to care for them, wherever they are. We are unarmed, we dont even think of our own protection, our priority are the defenceless people around us. We had a Syrian Arab Army guard around our centre but that was our only protection” ~CO of RSCD.


This tall tower behind the RSCD centre was held by the SAA throughout the East Aleppo terrorist occupation. This was all that stood between the RSCD and invasion by the Nusra Front-led factions. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

Standing in the RSCD yard, I could see a tall building towering over the yard. The RSCD CO told me that this building was held by the SAA during the period of terrorist occupation of East Aleppo. This was all that stood between the RSCD and the terrorist groups that would have massacred their crew members had they made it past the SAA defences.

Terrorist “Double Taps”

I was told that the terrorist groups systematically carried out double-tap attacks on the RSCD crew. Nusra Front or one of their affiliates would fire mortars into a densely populated civilian area of West Aleppo. For example in June 2016, terrorist groups intensified their attacks on West Aleppo. The district of Midan was pounded by mortar fire and during one attack, a huge number of civilians were injured and trapped in destroyed buildings. The RSCD sent teams to evacuate the wounded and to dig out those trapped inside the buildings.

“The terrorists waited for us to arrive and begin work, before they targeted the same area again – with mortars and hell cannon missiles”  ~ CO, RSCD

The RSCD is never mentioned in western media reports. The only existing “civil defence” according to the West are the White Helmets who endure “double taps” on what appears to be an hourly basis from their lurid accounts and video footage.

The RSCD works without recognition from the West and it is targeted by the Western promoted terrorist groups. The RSCD embodies everything that the White Helmets pretend to be, while in reality White Helmets work alongside the very same terrorist groups that are attacking the mainstay of humanitarian assistance for Syrian civilians in 85% of the inhabited regions of Syria.


One of the missiles fired into the RSCD yard during the terrorist occupation of East Aleppo that ended in December 2016. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

Terrorist Chemical Weapon Attacks

According to the RSCD, in August 2016 the terrorist factions in East Aleppo carried out what has been described as an unidentified gas attack on the Old City of Aleppo. During this attack, three RSCD members died and 20 SAA soldiers lost their lives.

I was able to talk to two surviving crew members who pieced together the events of that day. They told me that the terrorists had been tunneling to reach SAA positions in the Old City and that SAA special forces had discovered the tunnels and had entered them to confront the terrorists or to destroy the tunnels.

It was hard to put the fragments of memory together into a coherent narrative but what the two crew members described was horrific.

First the RSCD team leader spoke:

“We arrived at the area and knew we had to enter the tunnel to save the soldiers who were trapped down there. We got to the deepest part of the tunnel and we started to feel the effects of whatever gas had been used. One of my crew radioed me that he couldnt feel his limbs. I shouted for him to come back and we grabbed him to pull him out of the tunnel” ~ RSCD team leader.

Then the affected RSCD crew member told me what happened to him:

“I entered the tunnel and immediately began to feel strange. My whole body seemed to lose control. I couldnt breathe. I pulled on the rope. Red spots appeared on my hands and there was a strange smell in the air, I still cant describe it” ~ RSCD crew member.

RSCD team leader:

“When we got him to the surface we tried to give him some water to drink. He went hysterical, lashing out at everyone”. ~ RSCD team leader. 

The CO told me that he had visited his crew in hospital immediately after the attack. He visited many times but the crew had no memory recall of the incident and it has only partially returned long after the incident.

The RSCD team leader told me:

“I spent one week in hospital. For three days, I felt like I had gone crazy. I even tried to bite my wife. I was just so full of rage.” ~ RSCD team leader.

Both RSCD crew members still  have respiratory problems and are still undergoing medical treatment for the effects of this chemical weapon attack. Both men were clearly still struggling with their memory of that day in August 2016 but piecing together what they could remember and combined with the lasting physical side effects, there seems no doubt that a CW of some kind was used against them. Why was it never reported by Western media nor listed as a war crime by the UN organisations that are mandated to document such crimes?

I had previously visited the RSCD based in Hamdaniyeh in Aleppo, in August 2016 just after the chemical weapon attack, they had also lost a crew member while trying to evacuate civilians from the area.

“They were wearing lightweight paper oxygen masks. Because of U.S. and EU sanctions being imposed on Syria, these rescue workers are unable to replace their supply of high-spec gas masks that would have been a lifesaver on many occasions.

The concentration of gas was so high that the flimsy oxygen masks did not effectively prevent the toxic fumes entering their lungs. One of the crew members, Mohammed Ahmed Eibbish, 36, died while trying to rescue a woman from an affected building.

Other crew members and civilians reported symptoms of gas poisoning, such as dizziness, nausea, burns, spasms, and difficulty breathing. Four women died from inhaling toxic fumes during this attack, and 25 civilians were affected and hospitalized as a result.” ~ Journey to Aleppo, Mint Press

(These two incidents were investigated at different times, & with RSCD crews from different areas of West Aleppo, there is no record of any other chemical weapon attack in Aleppo in this time period so it is reasonable to surmise it was the same incident with both crews attending a different area under attack. I will verify this during my time here now.)

What is clear is that while the world has been conditioned to hang off every White Helmet report of attacks on their terrorist controlled premises, I have been unable to find a single report on the attacks by terrorist groups against the REAL Syrian Civil Defence. Their existence is effectively removed from our state media snapshot of Syria, by a media intent on replacing them with the US/UK White Helmet construct that was created to magnify the alleged “war crimes” of the Syrian government and its allies, while erasing the terrorist atrocities from our television screens.

While speaking with the CO of the Layramoun RSCD, he told me:

“2 days ago and yesterday we were trying to recover the bodies of three of our crew members who had been killed by terrorist groups in the Eastern countryside (of Aleppo). The terrorists are deliberately preventing burial of our comrades. No religion in the world should be able to condone such an action, it is inhumane, unimaginable for us that anyone could do such a thing”.

When I asked the CO about the White Helmets, he told me:

“The White Helmets had two distinct roles. Most of them were fighters (militants) who would then change into their White Helmet uniforms when the cameras were on them. They worked only with the terrorist groups. When SARC (Syrian Arab Red Crescent) tried to evacuate civilians from East Aleppo to bring them to West Aleppo for medical treatment during the occupation, these terrorist groups including the White Helmets refused to allow them to leave. How can anyone call them a humanitarian organisation under these circumstances?”

The CO also told me that the US/EU economic sanctions make their job almost impossible.

“We need high quality equipment. Most of it comes from Italy, Germany and the UK who are supplying the White Helmets but will not supply us what we need to replenish our own equipment. Many of our stores and vehicles were destroyed or burned by the terrorists who invaded East Aleppo in 2012/13. Many vehicles were stolen and later used by the White Helmets.”

The RSCD has endured unspeakable crimes against their crew members on a daily basis without recognition by the west. Why are their voices and their harrowing experiences of no value to western media while the White Helmets who run with terrorist groups have their testimony republished without question or verification?

Meeting the Martyrs of the REAL Syria Civil Defence.


The family of RSCD crew member Damen Al Abazah from Sweida, killed in November 2013 in Deir Etiah, on the Damascus to Homs road. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

I met with the family of Damen Al Abazah from Sweida in January 2018, in Damascus. On my first visit to the RSCD centre in Damascus, 200m from the previously terrorist held Ein Tarma area of Eastern Ghouta, the colonel was very surprised that I was interested in talking to them, no western media had ever requested an interview previously.

I had the same experience when I met this family, they were shocked that anyone from the West was interested in the death of their family member. This is a sad indictment on the standard of reporting on the conflict in Syria, why do these people and their story not have any validity for Western media, is their loss not as painful as the endless stream of accounts of tragedy from the “opposition” controlled areas? Those areas under the occupation of a number of Western backed extremist and militant groups financed by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey among others.

Al Abazah’s wife is in the centre of the picture holding a photograph of her husband that had been hanging on the wall of their simple living room. Her name is Rabiaah Matar and she is 44 years old.

Al Abazah was a volunteer civil defence member with thirty years experience. Rabiaah, his wife, told me:

“He was 10 months from his retirement. I was so looking forward to having him at home  and we planned to take a lot of holidays. My husband was the officer responsible for the vehicle repair. He was so brave, so committed to his job and his colleagues. Even at weekends he would go to work and if I ever complained he would tell me, it’s my duty day or night. The night he he was killed,he was not on duty but he went anyway, he told me it was his mission”

Earlier on that fateful day, terrorist groups, namely Nusra Front and Ahrar Al Qalamoun, had attacked Al Basel Heart hospital in Deir Atiah on the Damascus to Homs road. Three suicide car bombs had attacked Syrian Arab Army checkpoints in Deir Atiah and Al Nabek killing & injuring many. Following these explosions the terrorist groups attacked Deir Atiah City and the battles centered around Al Basel hospital between the terrorists and the SAA.

Raabiah continued to describe what happened to her husband:

“The medical staff were trapped on the third floor. The terrorists were on the roof and on the ground floor and the hospital was surrounded. The SAA accompanied the RSCD vehicles until the final checkpoint before the hospital where the battles were raging. At this point the RSCD were advised not to advance as it was too dangerous…”

Raabiah paused and I asked her what her husband decided to do:

“My husband refused to abandon the doctors and medical staff. He drove the fire engine forward and tried to use the ladders to help the doctors and staff to escape. As they went forward, they were being targeted by the terrorist home made bombs. They tried to fix the ladder, the doctors were at the window calling to them to get them out. My husband was shot in the heart by one of the terrorist snipers. The other two crew members were also shot. One in the hand. They survived.”

Even five years after this incident, Raabiah was still clearly distressed by the loss of her husband. She told me that all the medical staff were killed by the terrorist groups, including 9 doctors.

“It was 21 days before we could recover his body from Homs. it was snowing and it was impossible for the Army to get to him. We were so worried that the terrorists would do something terrible to his body. Eventually the army flew his body back from Homs to Damascus and we could finally say goodbye to him here”

Raabiah and Damen have three children. A girl and two boys, aged 26, 24 and 23. One son is still with the SAA and has been with them for the last five years fighting the same US Coalition-imposed terrorism that murdered his father who was doing his “duty” trying to save Syrian medics & doctors from the terrorist groups that eventually killed them in the hospital where they worked.

I have searched the internet for any reference to this attack in Western corporate media and not found one. Damen Al Abazah was unarmed and neutral, he gave his life for his own people under attack from the terrorist groups inside Syria, yet he has not been proclaimed a hero by the colonial media, nor by the UN or its affiliates that will lionise the White Helmets without hesitation.

The “Disappeared” REAL Syria Civil Defence Operating on a Shoestring Budget, Under Sanctions, Saving REAL Syrians.

While in Damascus I asked the CO of the headquarters close to Ein Tarma to give me a breakdown of the national annual operating budge for the RSCD. He came back with a figure of $ 1.46m which included:

1. $ 890,000 for salaries and compensation for families of martyrs.

2. $ 320,000 for training, equipment and supplies including water and electricity.

3. $ 250,000 for the maintenance of buildings and vehicles, machines.

Compare this to the annual budget of the NATO-member-state financed White Helmets.

When I met with Hilal Assi,  the Director of SARC in Aleppo, also in January 2018 he told me:

We never saw the White Helmets in East Aleppo. They belong to the terrorists and they receive money from outside Syria, from more than one country”.

Rania A, a SARC Volunteer for three years in Salamiyah who had worked in both Hama and Idlib on the outskirts of terrorist held areas, told me:

“White Helmets are terrorists. They are specialists in acting and drama, not humanitarian work. The White Helmets abuse the “humanitarian” title to gain trust and to brainwash people in Syria and outside. They are a big lie. There are many foreigners working with the White Helmets”


The RSCD yard in Layramoun, Aleppo. January 2018. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

So the White Helmets receive more than twenty times the annual financing of the REAL Syria Civil Defence. The White Helmets operate in less than 15 % of Syrian territory that is entirely under the control of terrorist factions. The White Helmets do not appear to provide rescue services for civilians except when the camera is trained on them, they work as “Nusra Front civil defence” for the majority of the time. The White Helmets are the go-to organisation for media in the West, the UN and their State handlers in the US, EU and UK. The reports supplied by the White Helmets, however dubious, are accepted without question by all these entities who diseminate them across as many platforms as possible with a terrifying uniformity.

The REAL Syria Civil Defence is ignored, marginalised, disappeared from view while they are working to rescue civilians in 85% of inhabited Syria now back under the protection of the Syrian state. The RSCD also works on rebuilding and restoring infrastructure in the recently liberated areas yet the rare western media journalists who actually do bother to come to Syria never mention them.


Childrens day in Lattakia Fire Brigade/RSCD centre. 

Every time the terrorist factions embedded in the (now liberated) Eastern Ghouta suburbs have targeted civilians in Damascus with mortars, missiles, suicide bombs or sniper bullets – it is the RSCD that races to the scene, not the White Helmets yet those victims and their rescuers are irrelevant to the regime-change-war consent- manufacturing corporate media.

The RSCD must be brought out of the shadows of NATO-member-state deliberate erosion of Syrian civil society and a light must be shone upon their existence as the REAL Syrians helping REAL Syrians throughout this conflict, giving their lives to help others who are suffering under the weight of economic, military and media terrorism without acknowledgement by those who are inflicting all of this hardship, bloodshed & poverty upon the Syrian people.

 

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

Imperialism On Trial: Eva Bartlett speaks on North Korea & Syria (FULL)

RT
January 31, 2018

“Journalist Eva Bartlett speaks candidly on her experiences in North Korea and Syria at the Waterside Theatre in Derry, Northern Ireland on January 30, 2018.

In addition to visiting the DPRK in 2017, Bartlett has also been to Syria seven times since the conflict started there in 2011. She described her experiences in the country and explained how the situation on the ground was often very different from the dominant imperialist narrative which holds the Syrian government and President Assad responsible for every evil. She gave as an example the liberation of eastern Aleppo from terrorists in December 2016, which was portrayed as a terrible thing by much of the Western media and the political establishment.”

“Corporate media described Aleppo as falling, while Syrians were celebrating the full liberation of the city and Christians were able to celebrate Christmas for the first time in years,” she said. [Source: Conscious]

Eva K. Bartlett is creating Interviews, Articles, Photography and More Support: www.patreon.com/EvaKBartlett

 

 

 

 

 

 

WATCH: Vanessa Beeley Exposes the White Helmets

Corbett Report

February 7, 2018

 

“For the past two years, Vanessa Beeley has been doing on-the-ground reporting in Syria exposing the lies of the NATO powers and their terrorist proxies. Her work on the White Helmets in particular has drawn the ire of the warmongers and their media mouthpieces. Today we talk to Beeley about the true nature of the White Helmets and the well-funded PR campaign that seeks to defend them.” [Corbett Report]

 

How the Mainstream Media Whitewashed Al-Qaeda & the White Helmets in Syria

How the Mainstream Media Whitewashed Al-Qaeda & the White Helmets in Syria

In Gaza

January 6, 2018

By Eva Bartlett

 

neil clark tweet

*Neil Clark’s tweet

 

On December 18, 2017, the Guardian issued a shoddily-penned hatchet piece against British journalist Vanessa Beeley, Patrick Henningsen and his independent website 21st Century Wire, Australian professor and writer Tim Anderson, and myself.

Many insightful writers have since deconstructed the lies and omissions of the article, which I will link to at the bottom of my own.

Judging by the scathing comments on the Guardian’s Facebook post, the general public didn’t buy it either. The Guardian, like Channel 4 News and Snopes, whitewashes terrorism in Syria, employs non-sequitur arguments, promotes war propaganda, and simply gets the facts wrong.

+++

As the purported theme of the The Guardian‘s story was the issue of rescuers in Syria, I’ll begin by talking about actual rescuers I know and worked with, in hellish circumstances in Gaza.

In 2008/9, I volunteered with Palestinian medics under 22 days of relentless, indiscriminate, Israeli war plane and Apache helicopter bombings, shelling from the sea and tanks, and drone strikes. The loss of life and casualties were immense, with over 1,400 Palestinians murdered, and thousands more maimed, the vast majority civilians. Using run-down, bare-bones equipment (as actual rescuers in Syria do), Palestinian medics worked tirelessly day and night to rescue civilians.

There was not a single occasion in which I ever heard the medics (in Sunni Gaza) shout takbeer or Allahu Akbar upon rescuing civilians, much less intentionally stood on dead bodies, posed in staged videos, or any of the other revolting acts that the White Helmets have been filmed doing in Syria. They were too damn busy rescuing or evacuating the areas before another Israeli strike, and usually maintained a focused silence as they worked, communicating only the necessities. The only occasion I recall of screaming while with the medics, were the screams of civilians we collected and in particular the anguished shrieks of a husband helping to put the body parts of his dismembered wife onto a stretcher to be taken to the morgue. The medics I knew in Gaza were true heroes. The White Helmets, not a chance. They are gross caricatures of rescuers.

oli 5

A White Helmets member. “Unnarmed and neutral”?

Reply to The Guardian 

In October, a San Francisco-based tech (and sometimes fashion) writer named Olivia Solon (visibly with no understanding of Middle East geopolitics) emailed myself and Beeley with nearly identical questions filled with implicit assumptions for a “story” we were to be imminently featured in. My own correspondence with Solon is as follows:

In brief, I’ll address Solon’s emails, including some of her most loaded questions:

-Who is the “we”, Solon mentions? Her mention of “we” indicates this story isn’t her own bright idea, nor independently researched and penned. Parts of the article—including the title and elements I’ll outline later in my article—seem to be lifted from others’ previous articles, but that’s copy-paste journalism for you.

-It isn’t just that I believe the mainstream media narrative about the White Helmets is wrong; this narrative has been redundantly-exposed over the years. In September 2014, Canadian independent journalist Cory Morningstar investigated hidden hands behind flashy PR around the White Helmets. In April 2015, American independent journalist Rick Sterling revealed that the White Helmets had been founded by Western powers and managed by a British ex-soldier, and noted the “rescuers” role in calling for Western intervention—a No Fly Zone on Syria. (more on these articles below). This was months before Russian media began to write about the White Helmets.

Since then, Vanessa Beeley has done the vast amount of research in greater detail, doing on-the-ground investigations in Syria, including: taking the testimonies of Syrian civilians who had (often brutal) experiences with the White Helmets; establishing that the Syrian Civil Defense exists and has existed since 1953, but are not the White Helmets—which has misappropriated this name; establishing that the international body, the International Civil Defence organisation in Geneva, does not recognize the White Helmets as the Syrian Civil Defence; establishing that men now White Helmets members looted vehicles and equipment from the Syrian Civil Defence in Aleppo—and belongings from civilians; and establishing that White Helmets shared a building in Bab Al Nairab, eastern Aleppo with al-Qaeda and were present as al-Qaeda tortured civilians, among other points.

It is hard to believe that in the span of the two months between her contacting Beeley and myself that Solon, in her certainly deep investigations, has not seen this video, clearly showing uniformed White Helmets members with supporters of Saudi terrorist, Abdullah Muhaysini. Not quite “neutral” rescuers. But then, perhaps she did. She was willing to write off the presence of White Helmets members at execution scenes, standing on dead Syrian soldiers, and holding weapons, as a few bad apples sort of thing.

-As to Solon’s interest in my “relationship” to the Syrian government: No, I have not received payment, gifts or other from any government. To the contrary, I’ve poured my own money into going to Syria (and have fund-raised, and also routinely received Paypal donations or support on Patreon by individuals who appreciate my work). See my article on this matter.

As to how my visits to Syria and North Korea came about, this is another transparent attempt to imply that I am on the payroll of/receive other benefits from one or more of the governments in question.

-One of The Guardian’s questions was regarding my following: “That you attract a large online audience, amplified by high-profile right-wing personalities and appearances on Russian state TV.”

What following I do have began exactly one year ago, after I requested to speak in a panel at the United Nations, as the US Peace Council had done in August 2016. It is as a result of a short interaction between myself and a Norwegian journalist, which went viral, that my online audience grew. In fact, I deeply regret that what went viral was not the important content of the three other panelists and my own over twenty minutes report on conditions in Aleppo which was then still under daily bombardments and snipings by what the West deems “moderates”.

However, given that so many people responded positively regarding the interaction—which dealt with lies of the corporate media and lack of sources—it seems that the public already had a sense that something was not right with corporate media’s renditions on Syria.

The first person to cut and share the video clip in question (on December 10, one day following the panel) was Twitter profile @Walid970721. As I have since met him personally, I can attest he is neither Russian nor funded by the Kremlin, nor any government, and that he shared that clip out of his own belief that it was of interest. Otherwise, on December 10, before any major Russian media had, HispanTV also shared my words. Further, India-based internet media Scoop Whoop’s December 15 share garnered the most views (nearly 10.5 million by now). That Russian media later shared the clip and reported on the incident is neither my doing nor a bad thing: thank you Russian media for doing what Western corporate media always fail to do.

-Regarding The Guardian Solon’s question: “That you think that Assad is being demonized by the US as a means to drive regime change.” Of course I do, as do most analysts and writers not blinded by or obliged to the NATO narrative. As Rick Sterling wrote in September 2016:

“This disinformation and propaganda on Syria takes three distinct forms. The first is the demonization of the Syrian leadership. The second is the romanticization of the opposition. The third form involves attacking anyone questioning the preceding characterizations.”

Boston Globe contributor, award-winning foreign correspondent and author, Stephen Kinzer wrote in February 2016:

“Astonishingly brave correspondents in the war zone, including Americans, seek to counteract Washington-based reporting. At great risk to their own safety, these reporters are pushing to find the truth about the Syrian war. Their reporting often illuminates the darkness of groupthink. Yet for many consumers of news, their voices are lost in the cacophony. Reporting from the ground is often overwhelmed by the Washington consensus.”

Countering corporate media’s demonization campaigns, I’ve written on many occasions—notably including the words of Syrians within Syria—about the vast amount of support the Syrian president enjoys inside of Syria and outside.

In my March 7, 2016 article, I cited meeting with internal, unarmed, opposition members, including Kurdish representative, Berwine Brahim, who stated,

We want you to convey that conspiracy, terrorism and interference from Western countries has united supporters of the government and the opposition, to support President Bashar al-Assad.”

In that same article, I wrote:

“Wherever I’ve gone in Syria (as well as many months in various parts of Lebanon, where I’ve met Syrians from all over Syria) I’ve seen wide evidence of broad support for President al-Assad. The pride I’ve seen in a majority of Syrians in their President surfaces in the posters in homes and shops, in patriotic songs and Syrian flags at celebrations and in discussions with average Syrians of all faiths. Most Syrians request that I tell exactly what I have seen and to transmit the message that it is for Syrians to decide their future, that they support their president and army and that the only way to stop the bloodshed is for Western and Gulf nations to stop sending terrorists to Syria, for Turkey to stop warring on Syria, for the West to stop their nonsense talk about ‘freedom‘ and ‘democracy’ and leave Syrians to decide their own future.”

In my May 2014 article from Lebanon, having independently observed the first of two days of Syrians streaming to their embassy to vote in presidential elections, I cited some of the many Syrians there with whom I spoke (in Arabic):

“’We love him. I’m Sunni, not Alawi,’ Walid, from Raqqa, noted. ‘They’re afraid our voices will be heard,’ he said….’I’m from Deir Ezzor,’ said a voter. ‘ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) is in our area. We want Bashar al-Assad. The guy walks straight,’ he said, with a gesture of his hand.”

No one escorted me in a Syrian government vehicle to that embassy, by the way. I took a bus, and then walked the remaining many kilometres (the road was so clogged with vehicles going to the embassy) with Syrians en route to vote.

In June 2014, a week after the elections within Syria, I traveled by public bus to Homs (once dubbed the “capital of the revolution”), where I saw Syrians celebrating the results of the election, one week after the fact, and spoke with Syrians beginning to clean up and patch up homes damaged from the terrorist occupation of their district.

When I returned to Homs in December 2015, shops and restaurants had re-opened where a year and a half prior they were destroyed. People were preparing to celebrate Christmas as they could not do when terrorists ruled. In Damascus, attending a choral concert I overheard people asking one another excitedly whether “he” was here. The day prior, President Assad and the First Lady had dropped in on the pracitising choir, to their surprise and delight. And although the church was within hitting distance of mortars fired by the west’s “moderates” (and indeed that area had been repeatedly hit by mortars), the people faced that prospect in hopes of a re-visit by the President.

These are just some of many examples of the support Syria’s president sees and the attempts to vilify he and other Syrian leadership. Even Fox News acknowledged his support, referring to the 2014 elections:

…it underscored the considerable support that President Bashar Assad still enjoys from the population, including many in the majority Sunni Muslim community. …Without Sunni support, however, Assad’s rule would have collapsed long ago.”

Regarding war crimes, Syria is fighting a war against terrorism, but corporate media continues fabricating claims, and repeating those fabricated, not-investigated, accusations. For example, the repeated claim of the Syrian government starving civilians. In my on the ground investigations, I’ve revealed the truth behind starvation (and hospitals destroyed, and “last doctors”) in Aleppo, in Madaya, in al-Waer, in Old Homs (2014). In all instances, starvation and lack of medical care was solely due to terrorists—including al-Qaeda—hoarding food (and medical supplies). Vanessa Beeley has in greater depth exposed those corporate media lies regarding eastern Aleppo.

Even Reuters later reported on finding stockpiles of food in a “rebel” held building, citing civilians saying specifically that the Army of Islam “rebels”,  “kept all these items, here and there. They did not allow us to eat even a piece of bread. We died out of hunger.”

Regarding chemical weapons accusations, those have long been negated by the investigations of Seymour Hersh (on Ghouta 2013; on Khan Sheikhoun 2017) and the UN’s own Carla Del Ponte who said:

“…there are strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof of the use of sarin gas, from the way the victims were treated. This was use on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities.”

Regarding convoys allegedly bombed, see my own article on one such claim, as well as award-winning investigative journalist, Gareth Porter’s article.

Regarding whether the White Helmets have done any good work rescuing civilians: they are working solely in areas occupied by al-Qaeda and affiliated terrorists, so no one can prove whether they have actual done any rescue work of civilians. However, we have numerous on the ground witness testimonies to the contrary, that the White Helmets denied medical care to civilians not affiliated with terrorist groups.

In September 2017, Murad Gazdiev (instrumental in his honest reporting from Aleppo during much of 2016) documented how the White Helmets headquarters in Bustan al-Qasr, Aleppo, was filled with Hell Canons (used to fire gas canister bombs on Aleppo’s civilians and infrastructure) and remnants of a bomb-making factory. The headquarters was in a school.

Gazdiev’s reporting on the headquarters was preceded by French citizen Pierre Le Corf, living in Aleppo for over the past year, who visited the White Helmets headquarters in March 2017 (and again in April), documenting the al-Qaeda and ISIS linked flags, logos, and paraphernalia found inside the White Helmets headquarters, and that the White Helmets’ headquarters was next to a central al-Qaeda (Jabhat al-Nusra) headquarters. Le Corf also wrote about his encounters with civilians from Aleppo’s east, and their take on the White Helmets:

“…the last two families I met told me that they helped the injured terrorists first and sometimes left the civilians in the rubble. When the camera was spinning everyone was agitated, as soon as the camera extinguished, the lives of the people under rubble took less importance…. all the videos you’ve seen in the media come from one or the other. Civilians couldn’t afford cameras or 3G internet package when it was already difficult to buy bread, only armed and partisan groups.”

Vanessa Beeley took testimonies she took from civilians from eastern, al-Qaeda-occupied Aleppo, in December 2016 when the city was liberated. Beeley later wrote:

“When I asked them if they knew of the “civil defence”, they all nodded furiously and said, “yes, yes – Nusra Front civil defence”. Most of them elaborated and told me that the Nusra Front civil defence never helped civilians, they only worked for the armed groups.”

Beeley also wrote of the White Helmets’ complicity in the massacre of civilians (including 116 children) from Foua and Kafraya in April 2017.

Credentials, Please: What Is Journalism?

Regarding Solon’s question on my competency as a journalist, I note the following:

I began reporting from on the ground in Palestine in 2007, first blogging and later publishing in various online media.

In 2007, I spent 8 months in the occupied West Bank in occupied Palestine, in some of the most dangerous areas where Palestinians are routinely abused, attacked, abducted and killed by both the Israeli army and the illegal Jewish colonists. There, I began blogging, documenting the crimes in print with witness testimonies, first person interviews, my own eye-witness experiences, photos and videos.

After being deported from Palestine by Israeli authorities in December 2007, in 2008 I  sailed to Gaza from Cyprus and documented not only the daily Israeli assaults on unarmed male, female, elderly and child farmers and fishers, but also the effects of the brutal Israeli full siege on Gaza, Israel’s sporadic bombings and land invasions, and of course two major massacres (Dec 2008/ Jan 2009 and Nov 2012).

In the 2008/2009 war against Palestinian civilians, I was on the ground in northern Gaza with rescuers—actual rescuers, no acting, no staging—under the bombings, and under heavy sniper fire. I was also on an upper floor of a media building in Gaza City that was bombed while I was in it. And otherwise, I remained in Gaza after the slaughter had ended, taking horrific testimonies, documenting Israel’s war crimes, including Israel’s: assassinations of children, widespread use of White Phosphorous on civilians; holding civilians as human shields; and targeting (and killing) of medics.

See this link for a more detailed description of this documentation, with many examples, and my further documentation during the November 2012 Israeli massacre of Palestinians, as well as detailed accounts of my reporting from seven trips, on the ground, around Syria.

While questioning my credentials as an investigative reporter in the Middle East, The Guardian casually assigned the story to a San Fransisco based writer specializing in fluff piecesfashion and Russophobic analysis, who visibly has little to no understanding of what is happening on the ground in Syria.

Addressing “the propaganda that is so often disguised as journalism,”award-winning journalist and film maker, John Pilger, said (emphasis added):

Edward Bernays, the so-called father of public relations, wrote about an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. He was referring to journalism, the media. That was almost 80 years ago, not long after corporate journalism was invented. It’s a history few journalists talk about or know about, and it began with the arrival of corporate advertising.

 

As the new corporations began taking over the press, something called ‘professional journalism’ was invented. To attract big advertisers, the new corporate press had to appear respectable, pillars of the establishment, objective, impartial, balanced. The first schools of journalism were set up, and a mythology of liberal neutrality was spun around the professional journalists. The right to freedom of expression was associated with the new media.

 

The whole thing was entirely bogus. For what the public didn’t know, was that in order to be professional, journalists had to ensure that news and opinion were dominated by official sources. And that hasn’t changed. Go through the New York Times on any day, and check the sources of the main political stories, domestic and foreign, and you’ll find that they’re dominated by governments and other establishment interests. That’s the essence of professional journalism.

On a publicly-shared Facebook post, journalist Stephen Kinzer wrote:

“I happen to agree with Eva’s take on Syria, but from a journalist’s perspective, the true importance of what she does goes beyond reporting from any single country. She challenges the accepted narrative–and that is the essence of journalism. Everything else is stenography. Budding foreign correspondents take note!!”

In The Guardian’s smear piece, it is interesting that Solon employed a tactic used to denigrate the credibility of a writer by dubbing he/she merely a “blogger”. In her story, Solon used “blogger” four times, three times in reference to Vanessa Beeley (who contributes in depth articles to a variety of online media).

In the latter case, she quoted executive director of the Purpose Inc-operated “Syria Campaign” PR project, James Sadri saying:

“A blogger for a 9/11 truther website who only visited Syria for the first time last year should not be taken seriously as an impartial expert on the conflict.”

Remind me when either Sadri or Solon was last there? Seems to be 2008 for Sadri, and never for Solon. But they are “credible” and someone like Beeley who has since her first 2016 visit to Syria has returned numerous occasions, in the country at pivotal times—like during the liberation of Aleppo, speaking with Syrian civilians from eastern areas formerly occupied by al-Qaeda and co-extremists—is not?

As for bloggers, there are many insightful writers and researchers self-publishing on blogs (for example,  this blog). However, that aside, it is amusing to note that Solon on her LinkedIn profile list her first skill as blogging. Is she a mere blogger?

oli blogging

Regarding Solon’s use of the “truthers” theme, did she recycle this from an article on Wired peddled eight months ago? Her use of “truthers” is clearly to paint anyone who investigates the White Helmets as Alex Jones-esque. Is she capable of originality?

castello

Nov 4, 2016: Less than 100 metres away, the second of two mortars fired by terrorist factions less than 1 km from Castello Road on Nov. 4. The road and humanitarian corridor were targeted at least seven times that day by terrorist factions. Many of those in corporate media had retired to the bus, and donned helmets and flak jackets. I was on the road without such luxuries. Read about it here.

Guardian Uses CIA “Conspiracy Theory” Tactic

In addition to using denigrating terms, The Guardian threw in the loaded CIA term “conspiracy theorists”.

As Mark Crispin Miller, Professor of Media Studies and author, noted in a June 2017 panel (emphasis added):

“Conspiracy theory was not much used by journalist for the decades prior to 1967, when suddenly it’s used all the time, and increasingly ever since.

And the reason for this is that the CIA at that time sent a memo to its station chiefs world wide, urging them to use their propaganda assets and friends in the media, to discredit the work of Mark Lane… books attacking the Warren Commission Report. Mark Lane’s was a best seller, so the CIA’s response was to send out this memo urging a counter-attack, so that hacks responsive to the agency would write reviews attacking these authors as ‘conspiracy theorists’ and using one or more of five specific arguments listed in the memo.”

Guess Solon got the memo.

Professor James Tracy elaborated:

“Conspiracy theory” is a term that at once strikes fear and anxiety in the hearts of most every public figure, particularly journalists and academics. Since the 1960s the label has become a disciplinary device that has been overwhelmingly effective in defining certain events off limits to inquiry or debate. Especially in the United States raising legitimate questions about dubious official narratives destined to inform public opinion (and thereby public policy) is a major thought crime that must be cauterized from the public psyche at all costs.”

Researcher and writer Kevin Ryan noted (emphasis added):

“In the 45 years before the CIA memo came out, the phrase ‘conspiracy theory’ appeared in the Washington Post and New York Times only 50 times, or about once per year. In the 45 years after the CIA memo, the phrase appeared 2,630 times, or about once per week.

 

“…Of course, in these uses the phrase is always delivered in a context in which ‘conspiracy theorists’ were made to seem less intelligent and less rationale than people who uncritically accept official explanations for major events. President George W. Bush and his colleagues often used the phrase conspiracy theory in attempts to deter questioning about their activities.”

In her piece for the Guardian, Solon threw in the Russia is behind everything clause.

Scott Lucas (who Solon quotes in her own article) in August 2017 wrote (emphasis added):

“Russian State outlets have pursued a campaign — especially since Moscow’s military intervention in September 2015.”

Solon’s article? (emphasis added):

“The campaign to discredit the White Helmets started at the same time as Russia staged a military intervention in Syria in September 2015…”

But I’m sure this is a mere coincidence.

Initial Investigations Into The White Helmets Precede Russia’s

As mentioned earlier in this article, in 2014 and early 2015, long before any Russian media took notice, Cory Morningstar and Rick Sterling were already countering the official story of the White Helmets.

Morningstar on September 17, 2014, wrote:

“The New York public relations firm Purpose has created at least four anti-Assad NGOs/campaigns: The White Helmets, Free Syrian Voices [3], The Syria Campaign [4] and March Campaign #withSyria. …The message is clear. Purpose wants the green light for military intervention in Syria, well-cloaked under the guise of humanitarianism – an oxymoron if there ever was one.”

This is where the White Helmets step in.

Rick Sterling’s April 9, 2015, article looked at the White Helmets as a PR project for western intervention in Syria. He wrote (emphasis added):

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

Since her initial scrutiny into the White Helmets in September 2015, by October revealing their ties to executioners in Syria, Vanessa Beeley has relentlessly pursued the organization, and the lies and propaganda around it, their funding of at least over $150 million, far more than needed for medical supplies and high-tech camera equipment.

As 21st Century Wire pointed out (emphasis added):

“Note that The Guardian and Olivia Solon also claim that the White Helmets are only “volunteers” – a foundational misrepresentation designed to generate sympathy for their employees. One could call this a gross lie when you consider the fact the White Helmets are paid a regular salary (which the Guardian deceptively call a ‘stipend’) which is in fact much higher than the national average salary in Syria – a fact conveniently left out in the Guardian’s apparent foreign office-led propaganda piece:

 

Guardian informationists like Solon would never dare mention that the White Helmet’s ‘monthly stipend’ is far in excess of the standard salary for a Syrian Army soldier who is lucky to take home $60 -$70 per month.”

The Guardian Whitewashes the White Helmets

What are some things The Guardian could have investigated, had Solon’s story not been predetermined and had she approached with an honest intent to investigate the White Helmets?

  • Solon very misguidedly chose to highlight the White Helmets’ “mannequin challenge” video, writing that the video was “stripped of its context”. What was the context? That the White Helmets, supposedly frantically, full-time rescuing civilians under the bombs, took time to make a video simulating a heroic rescue scene? The video reveals the patently obvious point that the White Helmets can clearly stage a very convincing “rescue” video. But Solon ignores this point, it doesn’t fit her factless, Russophobic story. Further, I cannot imagine any of the Palestinian rescuers I worked with wasting a moment of precious time for such an absurd video.
  • That in spite of the White Helmets’ professed motto, “To save a life is to save all of humanity” they willingly participated in executions of civilians. But Solon wrote those extremist-affiliated White Helmets who hold weapons or stand on dead bodies or chant with al-Qaeda off as “isolated” and “rogue” actors, in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Best part? It wasn’t Russia which photographed them, it was from their own social media accounts, where they proudly displayed their allegiance to terrorists.

 

In her attempt to defend the “rogue” assertion, Solon brings in White Helmets leader, Raed Saleh, who she doesn’t mention was denied entry to the US in April 2016, and deemed by the State Department’s Mark Toner to have ties to extremists.

Here’s one poignant example of a rogue actor who was dealt with by White Helmets’ leadership:

“Muawiya Hassan Agha was present at Rashideen, and he later became infamous for his involvement in the execution of two prisoners of war in Aleppo. For this rogue bad appleness he was supposedly fired from the White Helmets, although he was later photographed still with them. He has also been photographed celebrating ‘victory’ with Nusra Front in Idlib.”

  • The soldiers which Solon calls “pro-Assad fighters” are actually members of Syria’s national army. Lexicon is important, and by denigrating members of the national army, Solon is playing a very old, and once again lacking in originality, lexicon card worthy of some UN member states who violate UN protocol and in the UN call the Syrian government a “regime” (as Solon also does…) instead of government. In the UN, governments must be called by their official names. The Syrian Arab Republic, or the government of Syria.
  • That it is not the entire UNSC which believes that Syria has committed the crimes Solon repeats, it is some members with an admitted vested interest in toppling the Syrian government.

 

The Chemical Card

In her attempt to validate the White Helmets, and delegitimize those who question them, The Guardian article presented as fact claims that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against its people in Khan Sheikhoun in April 2017, that the White Helmets provided valuable documentation to the fact, and stated that Beeley and myself were some of the “most vocal sceptics” of the official narrative.

But so was the British and US media:

“The following Mail Online article was published and subsequently removed.

Note the contradictory discourse: “Obama issued warning to Syrian president Bashar al Assad”, “White House gave green light to chemical weapons attack”.

Screen-Shot-2017-04-06-at-21.01.09-768x725

From the horse’s mouth: CNN

Screen-Shot-2017-04-06-at-19.12.35-768x144

Sources: U.S. helping underwrite Syrian rebel training on securing chemical weapons

Amusingly, according to the article (by the Qatari-owned channel, Al Jazeera) which The Guardian provided to back up their assertion of the Syrian government’s culpability (instead of providing the September 2017 UN report, itself questionable, and a much longer read for Solon), (emphasis added):

“All evidence available leads the Commission to conclude that there are reasonable grounds to believe Syrian forces dropped an aerial bomb dispersing sarin in Khan Sheikhoun.”

Reasonable grounds to believe is not exactly a confirmation of evidence, it’s just a belief.

The same article noted the investigators had not been to Syria and “based their findings on photographs of bomb remnants, satellite imagery and witness testimony.”

Witness testimony from an al-Qaeda-dominated area? Very credible. The White Helmet leader in Khan Sheikhoun, Mustafa al-Haj Yussef, is an extremist showing allegiance to the actions of al-Qaeda. As Vanessa Beeley wrote:

“Yussef has called for the shelling of civilians, the execution of anyone not fasting during Ramadan, the murder of anyone considered a Shabiha, the killing of the SAA and the looting of their property. …He clearly supports both Nusra Front, an internationally recognised terrorist group, and Ahrar Al Sham…Yussef is far from being neutral, impartial or humanitarian.

The initial analysis (of an April 2017 White House statement on Khan Sheikhoun) by Professor Emeritus of Science, Technology, and National Security Policy Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Theodore Postol, found (emphasis added):

“I believe it can be shown, without doubt, that the document does not provide any evidence whatsoever that the US government has concrete knowledge that the government of Syria was the source of the chemical attack in Khan Shaykhun, Syria at roughly 6 to 7 a.m. on April 4, 2017.

Postol’s analysis concludes that the alleged evidence

“points to an attack that was executed by individuals on the ground, not from an aircraft, on the morning of April 4,” and notes that “the report contains absolutely no evidence that this attack was the result of a munition being dropped from an aircraft.”

Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh also looked at the official accusations, noting that claims made by MSF contradicted the official accusation of the Syrian government bombing the area with sarin. Hersh wrote (emphasis added):

“A team from Médecins Sans Frontières, treating victims from Khan Sheikhoun at a clinic 60 miles to the north, reported that ‘eight patients showed symptoms – including constricted pupils, muscle spasms and involuntary defecation – which are consistent with exposure to a neurotoxic agent such as sarin gas or similar compounds.’ MSF also visited other hospitals that had received victims and found that patients there ‘smelled of bleach, suggesting that they had been exposed to chlorine.’ In other words, evidence suggested that there was more than one chemical responsible for the symptoms observed, which would not have been the case if the Syrian Air Force – as opposition activists insisted – had dropped a sarin bomb, which has no percussive or ignition power to trigger secondary explosions. The range of symptoms is, however, consistent with the release of a mixture of chemicals, including chlorine and the organophosphates used in many fertilizers, which can cause neurotoxic effects similar to those of sarin.”

The second article to which Solon linked was a NY Times article which called the report a “politically independent investigation”. This should make readers pause to guffaw, as the investigating mechanism includes the questionably-funded OPCW, and among those which the investigators interviewed were al-Qaeda’s rescuers.

Regarding the report, Professor Marcello Ferrada de Noli (founder and chairman of Swedish Professors and Doctors for Human Rights) in November 2017, refuted it as “inaccurate” and “politically biased”. Points he made included (emphasis added):

  • “The same JIM authors acknowledge that rebels in Khan Shaykhun have however destroyed evidence by filling the purported impact “crater” with concrete. Why the “rebels” have done that – and what consequences that sabotage would have for the investigation of facts is not even considered by the panel.”
  • “By acknowledging that Khan Shaykhun was then under control of al-Nusra, the JIM report exhibits yet another methodological contradiction: That would mean that al-Nusra and its jihadists allies, by having control of the area, they were also in control of the ‘official’ information delivered from Khan Shaykhun on the alleged incident. This would imperatively call for a questioning of the reliability/credibility (bias) of main sources that the panel used for its allegations.”

 

Twitter user @Syricide picked up on one of the JIM’s most alarming professed irregularity, tweeting:

Syricide

Even the Nation in April 2017 ran a piece stressing the need for actual investigation into the chemical weapons claims, citing the research of Postol, as well noting the following (emphasis added):

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA case officer and Army intelligence officer, told radio host Scott Horton on April 6 that he was “hearing from sources on the ground in the Middle East, people who are intimately familiar with the intelligence that is available, who are saying the essential narrative we are hearing about the Syrians and Russians using chemical weapons is a sham.”

Giraldi also noted that ‘people in the both the agency [CIA] and in the military who are aware of the intelligence are freaking out about this because essentially Trump completely misrepresented’ what had taken place in Khan Sheikhun. Giraldi reports that his sources in the military and the intelligence community “are astonished by how this is being played by the administration and by the US media.”

The same article included the words of the former UK ambassador to Syria, Peter Ford, who noted:

“It defies belief that he would bring this all on his head for no military advantage.” Ford said he believes the accusations against Syria are “simply not plausible.”

So, in fact, no, some of the most vocal and informed sceptics were neither Beeley nor myself, but MIT Professor Emeritus Theodore Postol, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, former UK ambassador Peter Ford, and former CIA and Army intelligence officer Philip Giraldi, not exactly “fringe” voices.

Investigative journalist Robert Parry in April 2017 wrote of a NY Times deflection tactic (one which Solon employed), emphasis added:

“Rather than deal with the difficulty of assessing what happened in Khan Sheikhoun, which is controlled by Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate and where information therefore should be regarded as highly suspect, Rutenberg simply assessed that the conventional wisdom in the West must be correct.

 

To discredit any doubters, Rutenberg associated them with one of the wackier conspiracy theories of radio personality Alex Jones, another version of the Times’ recent troubling reliance on McCarthyistic logical fallacies, not only applying guilt by association but refuting reasonable skepticism by tying it to someone who in an entirely different context expressed unreasonable skepticism.”

That sounds familiar. Solon wrote:

“Beeley frequently criticises the White Helmets in her role as editor of the website 21st Century Wire, set up by Patrick Henningsen, who is also an editor at Infowars.com.”

Infowars is Alex Jones’ site, and Henningsen is for many years no longer affiliated.

Solon followed this with another non sequitur argument about Beeley and the US Peace Council meeting with the Syrian president in 2016, a point irrelevant either to the issue of the White Helmets or the alleged chemical attacks. But irrelevance is what corporate media do best these days.

The Guardian story-writer has done literally zero investigative research into the fallacies she presents as fact in her article. She’s just employed the same, predictable, tired, old CIA defamation tactics.

Integrity-Devoid Sources Solon Cited

In addition to those I’ve already mentioned, it is interesting to note some of the other sources Solon quoted to fluff her story:

  • Scott Lucas, whose allegiance to Imperialists is evident from his twitter feed, a textbook Russophobe, Iranophobe. Lucas relied on the words of terrorist-supporter, Mustafa al-Haj Youssef, for his August article on the White Helmets (the one Solon seemingly plagiarized from). Solon relied on Lucas’ smears to dismiss the work and detract from the integrity of those Solon attacked. That, and being a token professor to include in attempt at legitimacy, was Lucas’ sole function in the Guardian story.

 

  • Amnesty International, the so-called human rights group which as Tony Cartalucci outlined in August 2012, is “US State Department Propaganda”, and does indeed receive money from governments and corporate-financier interests, including “convicted financial criminal” George Soros’ Open Society.

 

It’s not just “conspiracy theorists” like Cartalucci who have written on Amnesty’s dark side. Ann Wright, a 29-year U.S. Army/Army Reserve Colonel and a 16-year U.S. Diplomat serving in numerous countries, including Afghanistan, who “resigned in 2003 in opposition to the Iraq war,” and “returned to Afghanistan in 2007 and 2010 on fact-finding missions,” has as well. Her co-author was Coleen Rowley, “a FBI special agent for almost 24 years, legal counsel to the FBI Field Office in Minneapolis from 1990 to 2003, and a whistleblower “on some of the FBI’s pre-9/11 failures.” Together, in June 2012, they wrote about “Amnesty’s Shilling for US Wars”.

Professor of international law, Francis Boyle, who himself was a member of the US board of Amnesty, wrote of the group’s role in shilling for war. In October 2012, he wrote of Amnesty’s war mongering regarding Iraq—endorsing the dead incubator babies story told by the Kuwaiti ambassador’s daughter—and his own attempts to inform Amnesty “that this report should not be published because it was inaccurate.” He noted:

“That genocidal war waged by the United States, the United Kingdom and France, inter alia, during the months of January and February 1991, killed at a minimum 200,000 Iraqis, half of whom were civilians. Amnesty International shall always have the blood of the Iraqi People on its hands!”

Boyle’s parting words included:

“…based upon my over sixteen years of experience having dealt with AI/London and AIUSA at the highest levels, it is clear to me that both organizations manifest a consistent pattern and practice of following the lines of the foreign policies of the United States, Britain, and Israel. …Effectively, Amnesty International and AIUSA function as tools for the imperialist, colonial and genocidal policies of the United States, Britain, and Israel.”

  • Eliot Higgins, of whom Gareth Porter wrote:

“Eliot Higgins is a non-resident fellow of the militantly anti-Russian, State Department-funded Atlantic Council, and has no technical expertise on munitions.

British journalist Graham Phillips wrote in February 2016 on Eliot Higgins. Answering his question on who is Eliot Higgins, Phillips wrote:

“He never finished college, dropping out of the Southampton Institute of Higher Education. When asked…what he studied at university, his answer was, Media…I think.’ Higgins has always been completely open about his lack of expertise.”

The Guardian’s Russia Obsession

By now it should be clear that the intent of Solon’s December 18th story was not to address the manifold questions (facts) about the White Helmets’ ties to (inclusion of) terrorists in Syria, nor to question the heroic volunteers’ obscene amount of funding from Western sources very keen to see Syria destabilized and its government replaced.

Rather, the intent was to whitewash this rescue group, and to demonize those of us highlighted, and especially to insert more Russophobia (although Russia’s military intervention in Syria is legal, unlike that of the US-led coalition, of which Solon’s UK is a part).

Since our last early October communication until the long-awaited publishing of her slander-filled piece, Solon produced (or co-produced) 24 stories for the Guardian, nine of which were blame-Russia! sort of stories, including such lexicon as “Russian operatives”, “Russian interference”, “Russian trolls”, “Russian propagandists”, and “Russian bots”.

Is Baroness Cox, of the UK House of Lords, who recently spoke in support of Russia’s (invited) intervention in Syria, a “conspiracy theorist”, a Russian operative” or Kremlin-funded? She said (emphasis added):

“And the fourth point that I would like to make particularly to you is the very real appreciation that is expressed by everyone in Syria of the support by Russia to help get rid of ISIS [Daesh] and get rid of all the other Islamist religious groups.”

Cox, who went to Syria, is probably not a Kremlin or Assad agent. She probably just listened to the voices of Syrians in Syria, like the rest of us Russian propagandists who have bothered to go (repeatedly) to Syria and speak with Syrian civilians.

This is the first part of a longer article. Part II is forthcoming.

(*Some small additions are marked in red.)

DRau5UBX4AIcSem.jpg large

 

[Eva Bartlett is a freelance journalist and rights activist with extensive experience in the Gaza Strip and Syria. Her writings can be found on her blog, In Gaza.]