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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.]

What to Expect From BBC Panorama and Guardian’s Whitewash of UK Gov’t Funding Terrorists in Syria

21st Century Wire

December 4, 2017

By Vanessa Beeley

 

The BBC will be carrying out a controlled journalistic “explosion” on their Panorama programme, airing tonight in the UK. Their report, dramatically titled, “Jihadis You Pay For” is about to expose UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) for the funding of extremist and terrorist groups in Syria via their “Free Syrian Police” project set-up in ‘rebel-held’ areas of Syria since 2014. 

To referee this virtual clash of the titans, The Guardian has been drafted-in to do the honours.

“The report, Jihadis You Pay For, will claim that Foreign Office money paid to the FSP reached people with links to the extremist group al-Nusra Front.” ~ The Guardian

Mike Raddie of BSNEWS commented:

“Is the Guardian’s Daniel Boffey attempting to whitewash the massive scandals of FCO and BBC funding and working with extremist groups in Syria? Why did he not ask Vanessa Beeley or Robert Stuart to explain how these UK institutions are working alongside al Qaeda/ISIS linked groups inside Syria?

 

Is it any wonder the Guardian has closed reader feedback on the story, less than 8 hours after it was posted? “Comment is Free” so long as you don’t mention unsayable truths such as BBC’s Panorama and Boris Johnson’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office are both working with and financing al Qaeda in direct contravention of UK anti-terror legislation.”

 

Boffey’s response to Raddie’s inquiry:

In other words, if you don’t adhere the mainstream media’s narrow narrative, then you must be a Russian agent.

We thought that “Comment is Free” (CIF) at The Guardian, but apparently not. Perhaps #CommentIsNotFree or #CINF would be appropriate hashtags when discussing this on Twitter.

Patrick Henningsen of 21st Century Wire made the following point:

“Nice to see the Mainstream Media fraternity close ranks this morning on UK FCO/Funding Terrorism story. Just remember which media outlet broke this story first. None of these MSM outlets will dare link to us, or mention name Vanessa Beeley because then they would have to acknowledge this story is much bigger than the little pigeon hole they’ve carved out – which they will “manage” into oblivion, as w/ 2night’s BBC Panorama soft ball pitch. Who’s the real independent media? Here, we beat them, and with a much bigger story”

21WIRE has always known that the White Helmets, the Free Syrian Police and al Nusra terrorists were part of one enclave – because unlike the The Guardian and the BBC, we actually went and looked for ourselves. Here’s one promotional poster for the new UK-backed “Local Councils,” the Free Syrian Police and White Helmets found at a White Helmet base in East Aleppo (Photo: Patrick Henningsen, May 2017 @21WIRE)

21st Century Wire predicts (although we’d love to be wrong on any of these) what the BBC will NOT cover in tonight’s Panorama report on the “Jihadis You Pay For” scandal:

1.  BBC Panorama will not mention the connections between the White Helmets and the Free Syrian Police as detailed in Vanessa Beeley’s investigative article (see report link below).

2.  BBC Panorama will not mention the actual terrorist leadership of many of these UK FCO financed organisations which include the Free Syrian Police, the White Helmets and the Local Councils.

3. BBC Panorama will not include evidence of recent atrocities committed by members of the Free Syrian Police or their White Helmet associates, they will focus on evidence of such collusion with terrorism in 2014. This will ensure that they can always say the protagonists have since been “sacked” or have repented their terrorist ways and joined the ranks of the saviours of all mankind.

4. BBC Panorama will not mention the rebranding of these many organisations that are working hand in hand with terrorism in Syria, in order to muddy the waters of UK FCO funding of terrorism & the dirty war against Syria that has been waged for 7 years.

5. BBC Panorama will not mention the £ 200m that has been used to finance the Syrian “opposition” via the Conflict Stability and Security Fund.

6. BBC Panorama will not mention the lack of freedom in the UK which means Freedom of Information requests in relation to the UK FCO funding of terrorism in Syria remain unanswered. Nor will the BBC mention that the UK Government is not being held accountable for its spending on such organisations.

In light of the BBC, The Times and The Guardian whitewash of this story, we are now calling for a PUBLIC ENQUIRY into the use of UK Overseas Aid money in Syria.

Once again, rather than report on the real scandal – which includes the saintly White Helmets and other covert shadow state-building projects in terrorist-run areas of Syria, the mainstream media are controlling the damage and managing the fall-out on behalf of the state. Meanwhile, the wholesale suffering continues as the Syrian people remain under attack from NATO member state-sponsored terrorism and punishing economic sanctions, and the UK Government funding for the Syrian “opposition” (terrorists) via its Conflict Stability and Security Fund (CSSF).

 

PRESS CONFERENCE: “They Don’t Care About us”: White Helmets True Agenda

Geneva Press Club

November 28, 2017

 

The “White Helmets” organization acting in Syria is hailed as heroes in some countries, and the West provides millions of dollars to these so-called saviors. However, residents of Aleppo (Syria) claim that “White Helmets” care only about money and saving rebels, but not civilians. People from Fua and Kafraya confirm allegiance of “White Helmets” to world recognized terrorist organizations like Jabhat an-Nusra or Al-Qiada and testimony “White Helmets” participation in public executions. The videos that this organization produces are astounding Internet-users all over the world.

The briefing, according to the speakers, is designed to give “a clear view on what is the real agenda of these Hollywood so called “first responders” who received an Oscar for their performance”.

Press conference (both French and English speakers):

(Note: The English text of third talk by De Noli can be found here:  http://theindicter.com/should-un-consider-white-helmets-a-politically-neutral-organization-and-its-allegations-as-credible-sources-by-un-investigative-panels-on-syria/)

 

 

Watch the full video showed during the press conference:

 

 

 

Avaaz: And a Billionaire Shall Lead Them [2017 Avaaz Series: Part 3]

September 23, 2017

By Cory Morningstar with Forrest Palmer

 

Avaaz Investigative Report Series 2012 [Further Reading]: Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart VPart VI

Avaaz Investigative Report Series 2017 [Further Reading]: Part IPart II

 

 

Avaaz co-founder Ricken Patel Joins Unilever’s Business & Sustainable Development Commission

Mr Ricken Patel, Executive Director, AVAAZ.org, Thematic Session “New Media: Towards new forms of social engagement and participation”, United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) Rio Forum

 

“Our research shows achieving the Global Goals in just four economic systems could open 60 market ‘hot spots’ worth an estimated US$12 trillion by 2030 in business savings and revenue. The total economic prize from implementing the Global Goals could be 2-3 times bigger, assuming that the benefits are captured across the whole economy and accompanied by much higher labour and resource productivity. That’s a fair assumption. Consider that achieving the single goal of gender equality could contribute up to US$28 trillion to global GDP by 2025, according to one estimate. The overall prize is enormous.” — Better Business, Better World, The report of the Business & Sustainable Development Commission, January 2017

In June of 2016, the Business and Sustainable Development Commission announced its newest members which included Ricken Patel, President and Executive Director of  Avaaz. Patel was joined by eleven[1] others of elite status and influence which included the following people:

  • Jack Ma, Founder and Executive Chairman, Alibaba Group (BABA,Tech30): Richest person in Asia and 14th richest in the world. Net worth is US$41.8 billion (June 2017). [Source] Ranked 2nd in Fortune’s 2017 “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders” list.[Source] board member of Bill Gates Breakthrough Energy and co-founder of Breakthrough Energy Ventures.
  • Ho Ching, CEO of Temasek Holdings Private Ltd: Married to the Prime Minister of Singapore. Listed as the 30th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes.
  • Mary Ellen Iskenderian, CEO, Women’s World Banking: Worked for 17 years at the International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank and the investment bank Lehman Brothers. Iskenderian is a permanent member of the Council on Foreign Relations. [Source]
  • Begümhan Dogan Faralyal, Chairwoman, Dogan Holding: Dogan Holding is one of the largest conglomerates in  It’s industry sectors include energy, media, industry, trade, insurance and tourism. It is founded by Aydin Dogan (who remains a major shareholder), Begümhan Dogan Faralyal’s father.
  • Mark Wilson, CEO of Aviva: Named in the 2016 Debrett’s list of Britain’s 500 most influential people for his role in the £5.6bn acquisition of Friends Life. This was the largest takeover in the insurance industry in nearly 15 years turning Aviva into one of UK’s largest investment firms (£300bn-plus in assets). Wilson enjoys an annual salary of GBP £4.4 million.

The commission was officially launched at the World Economic Forum at Davos in January 2016. The new members bring the Commission membership to 31.

eColonization for Sustainable Development

Malloch Brown and George Soros, March 19, 2002: “Mark Malloch Brown (L), administrator of the United Nations Delvelopment Program (UNDP) and George Soros chat during a press conference at the International Bussiness Center in Monterrey City, north of Mexico, in the context of the International Conference on Financing for Development, where more than 50 heads of State will participate.” AFP PHOTO/Jorge UZON

The co-founders of the Business and Sustainable Development Commission are Mark Malloch Brown and Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever. Polman is chair of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development  (WBCSD) and serves on the Board of the UN Global Compact, “the world’s largest corporate social responsibility initiative”. He also served as part of “the UN High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons of the Post-2015 Development Agenda. The panel helped draft Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 17, which aims to ‘to strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.'” [Source]

Above: Paul Polman. Unilever website: “The launch of the Business & Sustainable Development Commission: Our CEO Paul Polman co-founded the Business & Sustainable Development Commission, which works to make a powerful business case for driving a sustainable, inclusive economy.” [Source]

Polman is a “B Team Leader”. The corporation he heads, Unilever, is a member of We Mean Business (WMB). “WMB is a coalition of business groups including WBCSD, BSR, CERES, B-Team, Corporate Leaders Group, CDP, The Climate Group and supported by other networks.” The Corporate Leaders Group is The Prince of Wales Corporate Leaders Group – a partner of the GCCA/TckTckTck – founded by Avaaz, 350, Greenpeace, Oxfam, etc. (When publicly criticized for this partnership The Prince of Wale’s Corporate Leaders Group name was removed from the TckTckTck website which has now been re-branded and will be discussed at length later in this series).

Mallock Brown (“Baron” Malloch Brown, “Lord” Mallock Brown) serves as co-chair for the WBCSD. His prestigious background is most extensive. It is paramount to look at his background, however dense, to understand what form the world will take under the UN Sustainable Development Goals (Global Goals).

Mallock Brown is a “former number two” in the United Nations having served as Deputy Secretary-General and Chief of Staff of the UN under Kofi Annan (appointed in 2006), as well as having served in the British Cabinet and Foreign Office. He was UK’s Minister of State in the Foreign Office, covering Africa and Asia (2007-2009), as well as a member of Gordon Brown’s cabinet. Prior to that, Mallock Brown had an extensive history with the United Nation Development Program serving as Administrator from 1999-2005. He began his career as a political correspondent at The Economist (1977-1979 and 1983-1986). Other previous positions include Vice-President for External Affairs at the World Bank (joining the World Bank as Director of External Affairs in 1994), Vice-President for United Nations Affairs (1996 to 1999) and Vice-Chairman of the World Economic Forum. In 2007, Mallock Brown was sworn in to “Her Majesty’s” most honourable Privy Council and appointed as a Knight Commander (KCMG), an elitist title bestowed upon only the most senior of civil servants by the Queen of England.

Global briefing 2014. Mark Malloch Brown (left) and George Soros. Credit: International Crisis Group flickr

Malloch Brown has long-term personal ties to Soros. He served as vice-chairman of both George Soros’s Investment Funds and the Soros Open Society Institute. While working for Refugees International (bankrolled in large part by Soros), he was part of the Soros Advisory Committee on Bosnia in 1993–94, formed by George Soros. Spouse Trish Malloch-Brown, referred to as “Lady” Mallock Brown (Chair of Biodiversity International UK Board of Trustees, Member of Bioversity International Inc. US Board of Trustees, and Independent Humanitarian Affairs Consultant) [Source]. She is  also identified as directors emeriti on the Refugees International website where she served as Vice Chair for 12 years having been an active supporter since 1986. She served as a program officer at the Open Society Institute from 1989-1992.

Trish Malloch Brown served as the Director of International Rescue Committee-UK from 2010-2013. In 2008, foreign correspondent and investigative journalist Keith Harmon Snow reported that “[t]he International Rescue Committee has been described in the past as the ideal instrument of psychological warfare, and it is.” [2] Prior to her appointment, it is of much interest to note that the crux of the 2007 International Rescue Committee’s annual lecture given by Mark Malloch Brown was centered upon the “politics of humamitarianism after Iraq” and the social acceptance necessary for the global implementation of the “responsibility to protect” doctrine:

“I and the Secretary General and many others, many of you in the room here tonight, have pressed in recent years for this right to intervene when a government attacks its own population – the so-called Responsibility to Protect, which requires us indeed to intervene when a government commits the equivalent of war crimes or mass abuse of human rights against its own citizens. And we have seen an emergence of groups like the International Crisis Group, as well as the IRC and many others, who have become a lobby for effective intervention in these situations, of which Darfur is just one. But we have to find a way of winning universal, global understanding and support for this concept. We have to work amongst the nations of Africa, for example, to build acceptance of this.’ [Source]

Above: Lionel Rosenblatt, then head of Refugees International, Mort Abramowitz and Mark Malloch Brown, at Sarajevo airport moments before coming up with the concept of Crisis Group, January 1993. CRISIS GROUP

“Mark Malloch Brown (L) and Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan (R) attend the Pakistan: Hopes Submerged, Resilience Remains event at Bohemian Benevolent & Literary Association on November 15, 2010 in New York City.”

For the past 30 years Refugees International has held a lavish annual event for the McCall-Pierpaoli Humanitarian Award. Participants include the crème de le crème of the world’s most influential and power. In 2007, this award was bestowed upon both Mark Malloch Brown and Lady Trish Malloch Brown. This same award was presented to the terrorist group the White Helmets this year. Last year the award was given to The B Teams Richard Branson. [Full list of benefactors] .

RI Staff and Board Member Queen Noor-Al Hussein with the White Helmets and staff of the Syria Campaign. — Refugees International Website | White Helmets volunteer Jehad Mahameed (back row third from right), “Her Majesty Queen” Noor Al-Hussein (back row second from left), White Helmets volunteers Manal Abazeed (center) and Mounir Mustafa (front row, 2nd from left)

Video published March 16, 2017: RI Board Member Queen Noor Al-Hussein presents Refugees International’s highest humanitarian award to the White Helmets (Syria Civil Defense) at RI’s Anniversary Dinner in Washington, DC on April 25, 2017. Accepting the McCall-Pierpaoli Award on behalf of the White Helmets are Mounir Mustafa, Manal Abazeed, and Jehad Mahameed. [Source]

 

[International Crisis Group and Refugees International will be discussed later in this report.]

Mallock Brown is a former chairman of Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) at FTI Consulting, a political consulting firm.

Mallock Brown has also played a role in the humanitarian industrial complex. “From 1979 to 1983, he worked for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). From 1979 to 1981, he was stationed in Thailand, where he was in charge of field operations for Cambodian refugees. He was appointed Deputy Chief of UNHCR’s Emergency Unit in Geneva, undertaking extensive missions in the Horn of Africa and Central America.” [Source]

Malloch Brown was an adviser to the former President of Bolivia Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, a U.S. lapdog who carried out the neoliberal Washington consensus in Bolivia from 1993 to 2003. After a brutal conflict in 2003, known as the “Bolivian Gas War” in which at least 64 people killed and further 400 injured, Lozada resigned and fled to Miami. Lozada and 15 of his ministers were charged by the Bolivian Supreme Court with the crime of genocide in 2005. The Bolivian Government led by Evo Morales (the first Indigenous president of Bolivia) has been seeking Lozada’s extradition from the US to no avail. On December 18, 2007, a year after Evo Morales was swept into power by the majority of Bolivians, “Lord” Malloch stated in the UK parliament:

“The Constitutional Assembly was an important effort to try to get both sides to arrive at a comprehensive solution to the country’s political problems, which are very real and which revolve, as the noble Baroness knows, around marginalised Indian populations who have felt excluded for a long time. However, including them in a country that had a strong pre-existing democracy but which also had strong vested economic interests has proved extremely difficult.”

Here it is important to note that Indigenous peoples in Bolivia constitute appox. 62% of the population. The fact that Malloch Brown states that prior to the new Morales government, that the country had “a strong pre-existing democracy” demonstrates clearly and unequivocally Mollach Brown’s loyalties to colonization, imperialism, and empire.

From 1986 to 1994 Malloch Brown was the lead international partner at the US-based Sawyer-Miller Group communications consultancy. He ultimately co-owned the firm with three other partners. [Source] The firm was one of the first communication consultants “to use US-style election campaign methods for foreign governments, companies, and public policy debates.” [Source] Note that Trish Malloch Brown began her foray into international political consulting at the Sawyer Miller Group in 1986. [Source]

Notable is his work in Peru assisting Mario Vargas Llosa with his 1990 presidential campaign. In 1987, Llosa helped establish and then lead the Movimiento Libertad party in Peru. The following year his party formed a coalition with the parties of Peru’s two principal conservative politicians: ex-president Fernando Belaúnde Terry (Popular Action party) and Luis Bedoya Reyes (Partido Popular Cristiano). They would form the center-right coalition Frente Democrático (FREDEMO).  During his 1990 presidential campaign, he proposed a sweeping economic austerity program that frightened the country’s poor emphasizing “the need for a market economy, privatization, free trade, and above all, the dissemination of private property.” [Source]

His firm also consulted Venezuela where they worked against and then for Carlos Andrés Pérez, another US lapdog who presided over Venezuela from 1974-1979 and from 1989-1993. He became the first Venezuelan president to be forced from office by the Supreme Court for the embezzlement of 250 million bolívars belonging to a presidential discretionary fund. In 1992, his party survived two coup attempts. The first attempt took place February 4, 1992, and was led by Lieutenant-Colonel Hugo Chávez, who would later become the revolutionary leader of Venezuela until his untimely death. They also consulted in Colombia where they advised the government on how to shed “its image as the political wing of the Medellin cartel”:

“Sawyer Miller has also played a key role in skewing the ‘war on terror’ in Colombia. As a result of PR activities conducted by the group, FARC is considered the ‘most dangerous international terrorist group based in the Western Hemisphere’. However, this is mainly due to the work of Sawyer Miller and the Colombian military who, according to the US ambassador to Colombia in 1996, ‘considered it a way to obtain U.S. assistance in the counterinsurgency’. And this assistance has continued to this very day. Colombia continues to be on of the largest recipients of American military aid in the world.”[Source]

The following is the synopsis for the book 2009 book titled Alpha Dogs: The Americans Who Turned Political Spin Into a Global Business by James Harding, in which Mollock Brown plays a prominent role:

“Alpha Dogs” is the story of the men behind an enormously influential campaign business called the Sawyer Miller Group, men who served as backroom strategists on every presidential contest from Richard M. Nixon’s to Barack Obama’s… Long after their firm, Sawyer Miller, had broken up and sold out, its alumni had moved into the White House, to dozens of foreign countries, and into the offices of America’s blue-chip chief executives. The men of Sawyer Miller were the Manhattan Project of spin politics: a small but extraordinary group who invented American-style political campaigning and exported it around the world. In this lively and engaging narrative, James Harding tells the story of a few men whose marketing savvy, entrepreneurial drive, and sheer greed would alter the landscape of global politics….”

In the Philippines, Mallock Brown worked with Corazon (Cory) Aquino in the campaign against Marcos: “The book [Alpha Dogs: The Americans Who Turned Political Spin Into a Global Business] described Malloch Brown’s propaganda strategy that Cory adopted, the demonization of Marcos, a tactic her son, Benigno 3rd, continues to use three decades later: ‘Malloch Brown was living on the fringes of the press corps, picking up the scuttlebutt. He came to see the campaign in binary terms, knocking Marcos down and building Cory up… Twenty years later, Malloch Brown sat in his office on the thirty-eighth floor of the United Nations building and said that Cory had to be pushed to go negative, but that the decision to get more aggressive, dirtier, had been quite deliberate: ‘We set out to make it about Marcos. It was very negative campaign.'” [Source]

Malloch Brown has also “worked extensively on privatisation and other economic reform issues with leaders in Eastern Europe and Russia.” [Source]

Mallock Brown currently serves as the co-chair of the International Crisis Group’s Board of Trustees, (alongside Larry Summers (Goldman Sachs), Alexander Soros, George Soros and The B Teams, Mo Ibrahim). The international Crisis Group was  conceptualized in 1993 by Mallock Brown with Mort Abramowitz, then President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. [3] He also serves on the board of Kerogen Capital (“Kerogen provides expansion and development capital to established junior oil and gas companies.”) He chairs and/or serves on the board of a numerous NGOs including the Open Society Foundation, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation and the Centre for Global Development.

Above: Mark Malloch Brown – Leaders Dinner: A Night of Pioneers – 23 June, 2016

Mallock Brown is Chairman of SGO (Society of Gynecologic Oncology) and its elections division Smartmatic, “the world’s leading voting technology provider”, which can’t be surprising given Brown’s extensive immersion into international politics and influential manipulation of foreign elections. He serves on the Boards of Investec and Seplat Petroleum Development Company plc (Nigerian oil and gas) which are listed on the London, Johannesburg and Lagos stock markets; Kerogen, an oil and gas private equity fund. He is chairman of GADCO Cooperatief U.A. (An agribusiness privately owned and funded by financial and impact investors and registered in Amsterdam, GADCO is the largest commercial rice farm in West Africa). In 2005, Time Magazine placed Malloch Brown on its list of the 100 most influential people in the world.

International Crisis Group Gala: Above: Alex Soros an ICG trustee who recently gave 500,000 to the NGO, honourary Richard Branson (The B Team), and Frank Giustra, executive member with the International Crisis Group, Photo: Don Pollard for International Crisis Group, flickr

In the following YouTube video published on Oct 24, 2015: “Sir Richard Branson will receive the Chairman’s Award for inspiring leadership to advance the cause of peace. The founder of Virgin Group and co-founder of The Elders is recognised for his visionary reshaping of private sector initiatives to promote peace, human rights and sustainable development.”

To be clear The B Team has played a pivotal role in the formation of the Global Commission on Business and Sustainable Development:

“The B Team is also supporting the Global Commission on Business and Sustainable Development, created by B Team member and Unilever CEO Paul Polman, which aims to quantify and articulate the economic case for businesses to engage in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Branson and Benioff are among the 27 investors in the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, a group of investors committed to supporting the commercialization of clean energy ideas.” — The B Team Launches ‘Born B’ to Support Purpose-Driven Entrepreneurs, Sustainable Brands, April 4, 2016

Under the subsection The Global Goals (p. 31) of The B Team Progress Report June 2013 – June 2016, a quote is referenced by Paul Polman, co-founder of the Business and Sustainable Development Commission:

“Business and civil society, including some of my fellow B Team Leaders, have formed the Business and Sustainable Development Commission, tasked with quantifying the economic case for businesses to engage in achieving the SDGs.”


Above: The B Team Press Release with the Purpose address. Note the language in the release; “2C threshold, aspiration to achieve, net-zero (rather than virtual zero).

Transforming Markets: The Greatest Economic Opportunity of a Lifetime

The managing partners of the Business and Sustainable Development commission are SYSTEMIQ (which shares the same address as the commission) and the United Nations Foundation.

The purpose of SYSTEMIQ is to unleash “viable growth” and transform markets. SYSTEMIQ is a new kind of enterprise – that combines advisory, business building and investment expertise to deploy human talent and long term capital in order to originate projects, de-risk investments and accelerate growth and system-level impact.”

The stated goal of the Business and Sustainable Development Commission is to “inspire business leaders to seize upon sustainable development as the greatest economic opportunity of a lifetime. Our flagship report, Better Business, Better World, maps the economic prize for companies that align with the Global Goals, and shows how to achieve them.”

“The Business and Sustainable Development Commission, launched in Davos in January 2016, aims to map the economic prize that could be available to business if the UN Sustainable Development Goals—17 objectives to end poverty and hunger, achieve gender equality, and tackle climate change by 2030—are achieved.” — Business and Sustainable Development Commission Better Business, Better World report

The Commission’s Better Business, Better World report was led by its commissioners, and supported by: the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Global Green Growth Forum (3GF), the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the UK Department for International Development (DFID). [Source]

“The UN Foundation, the WBCSD, the Overseas Development Institute and The B Team are supporting the Commission, which is also receiving funding support from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the governments of Australia, Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom.” — New Global Commission Aimed at Quantifying Business Case for Helping to Achieve SDGs, Sustainable Brands, January 21, 2016

The Business Commission’s Steering committee is comprised of individuals representing the following institutions: World Business Council on Sustainable Development, UN Foundation, International Chambers of Commerce, Rockefeller Foundation, UN Global Compact, 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Climate Change, World Economic Forum, Unilever, World Resources Institute, The B Team, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Overseas Development Institute. [5]

The Business Commission’s Research Advisory Group is comprised of individuals representing the following institutions: : UBS and Society, UN Foundation, World Bank Group, Volans, McKinsey Social Initiative, World Resources Institute Europe, PWC, Brookings Institute, FSG, Practice of Public Policy, School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, Accenture, Z/Yen, Channel 4 News, UN Foundation, International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development, Minister of the Environment, Nigeria, Center for Development Policy Solutions, Equity Group Holdings Limited, OECD, UN Sustainable Development Network and Winston Eco-Strategies. [6]

The Business Commission’s Research Advisory Group Supporting Orgs includes: the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Overseas Development Institute (ODI), United Nations Foundation, Unilever, World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), The Global Green Growth Forum (3GF), Australian department department of foreign affairs and trade, Sida (a government agency that works on behalf of the Swedish Parliament and Government) and UKAID.

The Business Commission’s agenda is evident. From the Global Green Growth website:

“A Global Green Growth AgendaA rapid, large-scale industrial transition is needed if global economic growth is to continue while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions, adapting societies to climate change and promoting a sustainable use of resources. This industrial transition has the potential to unlock new growth engines and spur global economic growth.” [Source]

In the aforementioned report, the following passage regarding the underlying need for perpetual growth can be found on page 22 under the heading New Metrics:

“There is overwhelming evidence that the transition to a thriving, clean economy is inevitable, irreversible — and irresistible… The global market for low-carbon goods and services, for example, is worth more than US$5.5 trillion and is growing at 3% per year… Sustainability is no longer just the right thing to do — it fuels growth. At the same time, we see huge yields from social investment. For every one dollar invested, the global economic return on sanitation spending is US$5.50, and an investment in nutrition gives a US$17 return. Surely no one can argue with that.” — Paul Polman, CEO Unilever, The B Team Progress Report June 2013 – June 2016, p. 11 [Source][Emphasis added]

To be clear, it is impossible to undergo a rapid, large-scale industrial transition (to ensure continued global economic growth) while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Even a slow, small-scale industrial transition cannot and could not be coupled with a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. An industrial transition will require massive amounts of fossil fuels – resulting in a requisite increase in greenhouse gas emissions. All so-called “clean” energy is dependent upon fossil fuels from cradle to grave. Further, planned obsolescence is an integral component in “clean energy” technology in order to sustain perpetual growth.

Further, in the censored paper by atmospheric scientist Tim Garrett titled Are there basic physical constraints on future anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide?, his conclusions are as follows; contrary to popular belief, improving energy efficiency actually leads to accelerated growth of CO2 emissions; absent collapsing the economy, emissions can only be stabilized by building the equivalent of one nuclear plant per day, and, emissions growth has inertia.[Source]

“Over the next 15 years, driving system change in line with the Global Goals with sector peers will be an essential, differentiating skill for a world-class business leader. It means shaping new opportunities, pre-empting the risks of disruption and renewing businesses’ licence to operate.” — Better Business, Better World, The report of the Business & Sustainable Development Commission, January 2017

Today, unbeknownst to the entire global population, policies implementing the financialization of nature into government legislation, a scheme that is global in scale, continue to accelerate forward unabated – with essentially zero public scrutiny. The 21st century privatization of the commons  is not spoken of by the NGOs that comprise the non-profit industrial complex, who are most complicit in the scheme. Consider that the Amazon rainforest is already listed on the world’s first green stock exchange [Source] and the world’s first “species banking” ecosystems marketplace has been established:

“Until now, there has been no centralized information resource to serve buyers, sellers, and other market participants. Basic information such as number of banks, species covered, location, availability of credits, and contact details have not been readily available…. The ultimate goal of speciesbanking.com is to facilitate species credit trading as an effective tool for the conservation of threatened and endangered species and their habitat.

 

Speciesbanking.com is a project of the Ecosystem Marketplace, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing information on markets and payment schemes for ecosystem services (services such as water quality, carbon sequestration and biodiversity). The Ecosystem Marketplace believes that by providing reliable information on costs, regulation, science, and other market-relevant factors, markets for ecosystem services will one day become a fundamental part of our economic system, helping give value to environmental services that, for too long, have been taken for granted. In providing this information, the Ecosystem Marketplace hopes not only to facilitate transactions, but also to catalyze new thinking, spur the development of new markets, and achieve effective and equitable nature conservation.

 

We believe that, if implemented correctly, species credit banking for compensatory mitigation – and it’s variations in other countries and in its various forms, such as biodiversity offsets – can help create value for biodiversity, transforming endangered species from a liability into an asset, and thereby furthering endangered species recovery. ” [Source]

On the surface, the Avaaz climate campaign (rolled out in tandem with other prominent NGOs) is a seemingly admirable call for a “global” transition to “clean energy”. However, this campaign, marketed to a privileged (and majority Anglo) demographic, conveniently (and deliberately) makes no mention of the fact that an estimated 1-2 billion global citizens have no access to electricity at all. The most critical and ironic information not spoken of (which is again deliberate in nature) is the fact that this same targeted demographic being appealed to by Avaaz, et al in its demand for “100% renewable energy”, is the very demographic that creates 50% of all global greenhouse gas emissions. [50% of global greenhouse gas emissions are created by 1% of the global population.][Source] Yet, this same 1% does not want to live with less. This same 1% (comprised of anyone who can get on a plane) that has created and continues to accelerate our ecological crisis wants MORE. Faster, shinier, better, new, modern. This 1% now demands “clean energy” on top of their insatiable appetite for dirty energy. Luxury Teslas. Turbines. Solar. Biofuels. All part of a grotesque consumer culture that drives (lifestyle) wars and imperialism, as billions go without, which is ultimately perpetuated and encouraged by NGOs. This glaring inequality beset by arrogance/selfishness is more apparent when one acknowledges that only 5% of the world’s population has ever flown in an airplane. [Source]

To emphasize this point, consider that in 2011, “the average American consumed 13,240 kilowatt hours (kWh) per person per year, while the average Ethiopian consumed only 56 kWh. Further, across all of Sub-Saharan Africa, annual per capita kWh use is one-sixth the load requirements of a relatively efficient American refrigerator. Globally, the poorest three-quarters of the world’s population comprise less than ten percent of total energy consumption.” [Source] Of course, the lowest levels of rural electricity access are concentrated in Sub-Saharan Africa – the single richest continent on the planet that continues to provide aid  to the West. As an example, Burundi (a a recent target of empire for destabilization) can only supply electricity to about 1.2% of its population due to insufficient power production. In Sudan, only 3.5% of its people have access to electricity despite its oil, minerals and timber. [Source] (But yes, give more to the Global North with the excess concentrated almost exclusively in the hands of Anglos. We demand it. We deserve it. We want our consumption and we would like it green. At least let us pretend it to be so.)

The reality is this: behind closed doors, not only do those at the helm of these NGOs understand full well that the “new economy” is a fantasy, the real task at hand is insulating and expanding the fledgling global economic capitalist system. Consider this consensus from McKinsey (Business Commission’s Research Advisory Group, and incidentally, affiliated with many of the Avaaz co-founders):

“Despite huge investments in clean energy, in 2020 the ratio of fossil fuel consumption to renewable and nuclear power will remain largely as it is today—roughly 80 percent. No realistic scenario will move the needle: the embedded resource infrastructure is so large that any transition away from fossil fuels will take decades.” — Pricing the Planet, June, 2010

And perhaps even more graphic, from the Business & Sustainable Development Commission website:

“Trade’s share of GDP is declining for the first time in 30 years. Global unemployment reached 197 million last year, while 600 million new jobs are needed just to keep up with population growth… The environmental costs of the old growth model are growing, too. Environmental externalities like carbon emissions, natural resource degradation and loss of ecosystem services cost the world over $4.5 trillion a year. Resource prices are becoming more volatile as 3 billion more consumers join the global economy, and the supply of resources like water and land remains finite. The global carbon budget for keeping average warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius is set to be used up in just five years.”

Here it is critical to reflect upon the biophysical limits of the Earth. Scientists have been warning for decades that by  2030 we will require the equivalent of two planets’ productive capacity to meet our annual demands (which is really the needs of the 1% responsible for our multiple ecological crises). This is less than 13 years away, yet the elite establishment would have us believe we can transform the entire global infrastructure while simultaneously using less fossil fuels. [Further reading: Environmentalism is Dead – Welcome to the Age of Anthropocentrism]

“No person with a shred of decency would disagree that the vast majority of reserves should not be burned. But you can’t have it both ways. If it cannot be burned for the industrialized “fossil fuel” economy, it cannot be burned for an industrialized, and more importantly, illusory “clean energy” economy either. Illusory as the fantastical infrastructure is fossil fuel based, fossil fuel dependent. Possible only by exhausting Earth’s natural resources that scientists warn will be depleted in their entirety by 2030, even without incorporating a third industrial revolution.” — Divestment as the Vehicle to Interlocking Globalized Capital, April 23, 2016

Here it is critical to recall that The B Team, founded by Richard Branson (Virgin Group)[4] is led/managed by Purpose. That Purpose is Avaaz. The Avaaz and Purpose co-founder Jeremy Heimans speaks for We Mean Business, is a B Team Leader, and that Unilever (Ben & Jerry’s brainchild) is a key client of Purpose. The Unilever CEO being that of Paul Polman, co-founder of the Business and Sustainable Development Commission and chair of WBCSD.

In addition, Avaaz co-founder Patel is now a member of Polman’s and Mallock Brown’s newest venture, the aforementioned Business and Sustainable Development Commission. Furthermore, a founding NGO of We Mean Business is Ceres –a partner in the divestment campaign of 350.org. Another founding NGO of We Mean Business is The Climate Group. This NGO was incubated by the Rockefeller Foundation – as was 1Sky which merged with 350.org in 2011. The B Team was incubated by Virgin Unite, the charitable arm of the Virgin Group. The Climate Group is a partner of Avaaz (no longer public on the Climate Group website).

The “global goals” in reality, must be understood as the true objective for corporate capture and complete privatization of the commons. This objective is drenched in deceiving holistic linguistics – hidden in plain sight. Hence at the top of the hierarchy, the elite structured power institutions are deploying the legislation and unifying the corporate interests/power they are immersed under one key goal (the financialization of nature). While beneath it, the NGOs that target/appeal to the Anglo-centric middle class (Avaaz, Purpose, 350, Greenpeace, etc.) will be tasked with slowly but methodically bringing society up to speed with this brave new world, which they will be socially engineered to not only accept, but to believe it is in their own best interests.

“The B Team is grateful for the support it receives from Ford FoundationKering GroupGuilherme LealStrive MasiyiwaJoann McPikeThe Tiffany and Co. FoundationThe Rockefeller FoundationUnilever and Virgin Unite and for the contributions of past supporters Derek Handley [Founding CEO of The B Team] and One Young World.” — The B Team website

 

“In tackling climate change The B Team shares a common message: We Mean Business. The B Team joined forces with seven of the world’s largest business platforms to launch the We Mean Business coalition. In the months ahead, the coalition will use its collective voice and energy to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy and help achieve climate justice.” — We Mean Business – The B Team, Sustainable Brands, September 24, 2014

From left to right: “Jamie Henn, Communications Director, 350, organizers of the world’s largest climate action on October 24; Ricken Patel, Executive Director, Avaaz, the world’s largest digital campaigning org, with 3.5M supporters; Ben Margolis, Campaigns Director, TckTckTck, an open campaign involving 220+ global NGO partners. At Fresh Air Center facilitated by tcktcktck for bloggers, downtown Copenhagen. 14 December 2009.” flickr, Tcklive

Earth Economics is co-founded by Greenpeace USA Executive Director Annie Leonard. Earth Economics, created to accelerate and exploit the financialization of nature scheme, now well underway, is a member of Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES), which is in turn a partner of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). CERES funders are associated with Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America. [Source]

Recently, WBCSD, chaired by Business and Sustainable Development Commission co-founders Polman and Mallock Brown, launched another initiative to privatize ecosystems — Natural Infrastructure for Business: “It is the first step towards achieving our vision that by 2020, investing in ecosystems-or natural infrastructure-will no longer be just a good idea; it will be common practice across industry sectors worldwide.” [Source] “The Natural Infrastructure for Business platform developed by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), CH2M (with support from The Nature Conservancy), and other member companies is designed to introduce business leaders and practitioners to natural infrastructure… It is the first output of the WBCSD’s Natural Infrastructure work program, chaired by Shell and Dow and involving a group of over 30 WBCSD members. [Source]

One of the key achievements of The B Team as identified by Branson’s Virgin:

“What has The B Team achieved so far? Joined forces with the Natural Capital Coalition, WBCSD, IUCN and others to develop the first ever Natural Capital Protocol for business.”

 

“Working as part of the Natural Capital Coalition The B Team supported the development of the first global, standard Natural Capital Protocol – a set of tools for companies to measure their impacts and dependencies on nature. The protocol was launched July 2016, following pilots by more than 40 companies, including Kering and Dow Chemical.” [Source]

Above: The B Team “Experts”. From left to right: Avaaz/Purpose co-founder Jeremy Heimans, Founder and President of Capital Institute John Fullerton, co-founder and President of Ceres (350.org divestment advisor/partner) Mindy Lubber [Source: The B Team]

May, 2013: “CalSTRS CEO Jack Ehnes, Generation Investment Management Co-Founder David Blood (Goldman Sachs) and 350.org’s Bill McKibben. Ehnes also serves on the Ceres board of directors.

The following video is Avaaz/Purpose co-founder Jeremy Heimans (The B Team) speaking for We Mean Business at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland:

 

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

Screenshot from the Devex Website. The address for The B Team Headquarters is the address of Purpose.  As demonstrated in part 1 of this series , The B Team appears to be, for all intent and purposes, the Purpose public relations firm.  

Citizens as the Puppets of Oligarchs

The Peoples Climate March of 2014 led by GCCA/TckTckTck (co-founded by 350.org, Avaaz, Greenpeace, along with 17 other international NGOs) and 2017 , the divestment campaign (Ceres), the Women’s March on Washington, the scores of NGO petitions designed to placate the masses…. these are not financed by the world’s most powerful elites and institutions – to the tune of trillions – for nothing. The funds are not “grants” –  the funds are investments. For the highest return. This is not philanthropy – this is security. For the world’s most powerful corporations and elites, foundations have become essential, tax-evading investments with returns that outweigh gold. The liberal faux activists are anthropocentrists craving status and access. Those leading the “movements” move in the same elite circles as those that finance the movements. Behind closed doors the fait accompli is the expansion of nuclear energy. The financialization of nature is the final coup de grace.

 “And hundreds of thousands of people marched in New York City and all across the world. The momentum became contagious.” — We Mean Business

 

“Building on our experience supporting sister marches inspired by the Women’s March, the Purpose team helped the People’s Climate Movement leverage its vast volunteer base through compelling digital content and distributed organizing.” — People’s Climate March: The March and the Movement, Phil Aroneanu (Founder of 350.org) et al, Senior Campaigns Director, Purpose

 

“In the months and weeks leading up to January 21, Purpose had the honor of working with a collective of organizers called The Sister March Network to launch a digital and organizing program designed to support distributed events around the country.” —  How the Women’s March Went Viral, Phil Aroneanu (co-founder of 350.org) , Senior Campaigns Director, Purpose

And while hundreds of thousands marched like fools (albeit well-intentioned and naive) with those that have united to further destroy what little remains of our natural world …. who protect and expand the existing power structures that enslave us, who in united fashion strategize to manipulate, to lie, to further utilize behavioural change science via  behavioural insight teams (governments) and social engineering (NGO & ivory tower think tanks), the crème de le crème of the world’s most powerful psychopaths are privatizing the planet. 350’s “radical” Naomi Klein may have called your attention to the fact Branson never failed to deliver on his 3bn dollar climate pledge, but she certainly didn’t call your attention to her financiers plans to privatize the planet via the financialization of nature. And she knew. As they all did. The above phrase from Malcolm fits most appropriately in this regard: “Oh, and I say it again, you’ve been had. You’ve been took. You’ve been hoodwinked. Bamboozled. Led astray. Run amok!”

“The NCP [Natural Capital Project] was developed by a coalition of 38 organisations, including, WBCSD, IUCN and The B Team, with hundreds of others consulted. The protocol has been piloted and feed into by more than 80 companies, representing 15 industry sectors and seven geographical regions. The protocol for generating, trusted, credible and actionable information around natural capital impacts and dependencies associated with a business operations is now freely available to all business leaders.” — New Natural Capital Protocol Will Help Business Value Nature, July 13, 2016

The Global Goals for Sustainable 21st Century  Colonization

“A customer of GADCO, a new Acumen investment in West Africa”  Credit: The Acumen website

“As part of an effort to build sustainable businesses in Africa and fight poverty, the Soros Economic Development Fund (SEDF) today announced a US$5 million investment in GADCO, a Ghanaian agriculture company. ” — Soros Economic Development Fund Invests in Ghana to Bolster Food Security, March 21, 2014

At the end of this second segment of this series, we must take a moment to reflect upon the aforementioned agribusiness venture GADCO, that Molloch Brown chairs, for it represents a microcosm of what we can expect from the UN’s “Global Goals” which have now been incorporated globally into the education curriculum of children as ” The World’s Largest Lesson”. The “Global Goals” being steadily accelerated by the world’s most powerful institutions and NGOs with Purpose (Avaaz)/The B Team, We Mean Business (350.org divestment partner Ceres, etc.) and the Business and Sustainable Development Commission (inclusive of Avaaz co-founder Ricken Patel), all working intricately together at the helm.

GADCO is financed in part (see below) and managed by Acumen Fund. Its partner community includes Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Unilever, UK Department of International Development, USAID, Goldman Sachs, Ford Foundation, General Electric, IKEA Foundation, Omidyar Network The Rockefeller Foundation, American Express, The Dow Chemical Company, Skoll Foundation, Citi, Barklays, Google, and a plethora of other foundations. [Full list]

“In setting up the outgrower scheme, GADCO deliberately sought partners from the development world – such as the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), and the World Bank – as well as private investors.”— When companies meet communities: Is this what friendly commercial farming looks like, January 15, 2014

GADCO began its venture with a 30-year lease of 1,000ha (to start) of the land belonging to the Fievie community (in Ghana) for a 2.5 percent share of the venture’s profits and the grant of 48ha of developed irrigated plots back to the community. It is reported that the Fievie community members that were displaced were compensated by GADCO. GADCO sees Africa as a “growth market with compelling fundamentals driven by urbanization, population growth, and rising incomes.” GADCO is backed by Summit Capital, Acumen Fund (which hosts the website for GADCO) and loan capital by Deutsche Bank (JV fund with KfW) and Root Capital. [Source: World Bank] Acumen‘s egregious business model is based on replacing seed saved from the prior year by the rural farmers of Africa (where most farms use farm-saved seed) with seed from the West. [Source]

The farm labourers for GADCO (21st century colonizers) are paid 9 cedis a day (USD$4) “with some farmers stating this was lower than what they had earned doing the same job elsewhere.” As if it were not enough to colonize the community (the further modern-day colonization of Africa will expand in lockstep with GADCO’s growth) the patronizing patriarchs would also establish where and how this pittance of profit sharing would be spent. The 2.5% paid to the community “would be deposited into a special account to be used exclusively on local development projects.” As of January 2014, the Fievie’s 2.5% revenue share has gone towards 1) upgrading street lighting, 2) building a school block, 3) providing furniture for a kindergarten, and 4) buying a set of drums for a local youth group. Labourers who complained about shoddy boots and equipment had their needs fall on deaf ears. Labourers also expressed dissatisfaction that the transportation (part of the perks/negotiations promised by GADCO) to return them home at the end of the working day was inadequate. Another perk promised by GADCO was the luxury of being able to buy some of company’s rice at a subsidised price – but there was no rice available. The community approached GADCO in hopes of assistance to build a water pipeline. While the community, now adorned with updated street-lighting and kindergarten furniture, further negotiated for GADCO to supply a pipe for water in 2013, over $15 million was spent on the first phase of the project. The next phase of the project would be launched within the next two years with a $100-million investment to develop rice paddies in five Sub-Saharan countries, including Mozambique, Zambia and Nigeria.

“Nevertheless, the complaints of GADCO’s labourers – the one group the company can most easily replace and so arguably doesn’t need to try as hard to please – doesn’t reflect well, and some might be concerned that although other parties seem happy for now, the more the firm grows, the more it will be able to leverage its power to squeeze greater profits from those other groups too. There is a fundamental power imbalance between GADCO and its small-scale farmers, for example, which will only increase as the company develops a stronger monopoly on inputs and markets.”—  When companies meet communities: Is this what friendly commercial farming looks like, January 15, 2014

 

“Meanwhile, AGRA (Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa) has supported the expansion of agrodealers into rural areas; the development of private seed companies; and reforms to intellectual property rights in Ghana. This has resulted in the increasing movement of seeds produced by multinational companies into the Ghanaian market, threatening to displace nationally produced certified seeds, and the enactments of new laws to facilitate market penetration and research by transnational agribusiness. A Biosafety Protection Law was enacted in 2010, facilitating the movement of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and related research into Ghana… [GADCO] has entered into an arrangement with the communities to lease 1,000ha of land for a 2.5 percent share of the profits and the grant of 48ha of developed irrigated plots back to the community… GADCO is exploring other avenues of gaining access to seeds produced by transnational seed companies and from Ghanaian seed research institutes, although there are problems with the quality of certified seeds produced in Ghana and difficulties in getting regulatory clearance from imported seeds. For the present, it has entered into an alliance with Wienco, which has contractual rights to distribute Syngenta seeds in Ghana.” [Source]

 

“The Syngenta Foundation is linked to the much-maligned agrochemical giant Syngenta while AGRA – which is in fact chaired by Annan himself – has been accused of being a shill for biotech corporations and of undermining the sovereignty of local farmers.”— When companies meet communities: Is this what friendly commercial farming looks like, January 15, 2014

The philanthropic gestures played out by the corporate state and hyped by the mass media they own and fund (hence control) are for propaganda purposes only – wholly utilized to give the semblance of concern. Be assured that the only true concern is both the protection and expansion of the current power structure via policies that will expand capital markets with investments, legislative policies and privatization that will not only further enslave the Global South, but further destroy all life on Earth. This series will continue to demonstrate that without doubt, there is no entity on Earth that sustains the status quo than the NPIC, the mercenaries and protectorate of global hegemony.

 

End Notes:

[1] The remaining 6 individuals to join the commission were: 

  1. Mats Granryd, Director General, GSMA (Groupe Speciale Mobile Association): [Full bio]
  2. Helen Hai, CEO, Made in Africa Initiative: Goodwill Ambassador, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) “By leveraging the expertise of leading industry experts and influential persons with experience working in China and Africa, the Made In Africa Initiative will ensure that Africa’s economic transition integrate knowledge and advice drawn from three decades of rapid economic development in China… Members of the board fully support industrialization in Africa.” [Source] [Full bio]
  3. Mads Nipper, Group President, CEO, Grundfos: Served as Chief Marketing Officer, Executive Vice President of Markets and Member of Management Board at LEGO A/S (known as Lego Group) from 1991-2014. [Source]
  4. Cherie Nursalim, Vice Chairman, GITI Group: Former research associate at the Harvard Business School and director of East-West Bank in California. Named Young Global Leader by the World Economic forum.[Full bio]
  5. Dinara Seijaparova, CFO, National Management Holding Baiterek: CFO of National Oil&Gas company; work on Kashagan financing; World Bank Group in Washington DC, analyst.[Source]
  6. Hans Vestberg, Executive Vice President and President of Network and Technology, Verizon: formerCEO of telecommunications company Ericsson. [Source]

[2] “The International Rescue Committee has been described in the past as the ideal instrument of psychological warfare, and it is. This is exactly what is going on with the IRC today, and more, when the IRC—heavily subsidized by the very same profiteers—sends its body counters into Congo. But the IRC is not only the ideal instrument of psychological warfare, it is also the ideal instrument of intelligence gathering. The IRC capitalizes on their access to refugee populations, conflict areas and individual refugee encounters and interviews to gather intelligence on armed groups, leadership, resources, weapons and geographical conflicts, information that is selectively used to serve the greater interests of the IRC and its partners.” Source: The War that did not make the Headlines: Over Five Million Dead in Congo? Behind the Numbers Redux: How Truth is Hidden, Even When it Seems to Be Told, January 31, 2008

[3] “In January 1993, Mort Abramowitz, then President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and Mark Malloch Brown, then World Bank Vice President for External Affairs and later Deputy Secretary-General of the UN, are seated next to each other on a flight out of war-torn Sarajevo. The two men debate why it had been so difficult for the international system to effectively respond to Bosnia and other conflicts. An idea is hatched: to create an independent organisation that could serve as the world’s eyes and ears on the ground in countries in conflict while pressing for immediate action. The concept of the International Crisis Group is born.” [Source]

[4] “In 2013, following a series of workshops and meetings hosted by Virgin Unite, a group of business leaders came together with a shared belief that business could no longer be motivated by profit alone. From these extensive discussions The B Team was formed and incubated by Virgin Unite with the support of many wonderful partners.” [Source” Virgin Website]

[5] The Business Commission’s Steering committee is comprised of the following individuals: Peter Bakker, President, World Business Council on Sustainable Development; Kathy Calvin, President & CEO, UN Foundation; John Danilovich, Secretary General, International Chambers of Commerce; Zia Khan, Vice President, Initiatives and Strategy, Rockefeller Foundation; Lise Kingo, Executive Director, UN Global Compact; David Nabarro, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General, 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Climate Change; Richard Samans, Managing Director, World Economic Forum; Jeff Seabright, Chief Sustainability Officer, Unilever; Andrew Steer, President & CEO, World Resources Institute; Keith Tuffley, Managing Partner & CEO, The B Team; Miguel Veiga-Pestana, Chief Communications Officer, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Kevin Watkins, Executive Director, Overseas Development Institute.

[6] The Business Commission’s Research Advisory Group is comprised of the following individuals:Caroline Anstey, Group Managing Director and Global Head, UBS and Society, UBS; Kaysie Brown, Special Advisor for Policy and Strategic Initiatives, UN Foundation; Paula Caballero, Global Practice Director for Environment and Natural Resources, World Bank Group; John Elkington, Chairman and Chief Pollinator, Volans; Helene Gayle, CEO, McKinsey Social Initiative; Kitty van der Heijden, Director, World Resources Institute Europe; Celine Herweijer, Partner in PwC’s Sustainability and Climate Change, PWC; Homi Kharas, Senior Fellow and Deputy Director for the Global Economy and Development program, Brookings Institute; Mark Kramer, Co-founder and Managing Director, FSG; Kishore Mahbubani Lee, Dean and Professor in the Practice of Public Policy, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore; Jessica Long, Managing Director, Accenture Strategy and Sustainability, Accenture; Professor Michael Mainelli, Co-founder and Executive Chairman, Z/Yen; Paul Mason, Economics Editor, Channel 4 News; John W. McArthur, Senior Fellow, UN Foundation; Ricardo Meléndez-Ortiz, Co-founder and Chief Executive, International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development; Amina J. Mohammed, Minister of the Environment, Nigeria, and CEO/Founder, Center for Development Policy Solutions; James Mwangi, CEO and Managing Director, Equity Group Holdings Limited; Roel Nieuwenkamp, Chair, OECD Working Party on Responsible Business Conduct; Guido Schmidt-Traub, Executive Director, UN Sustainable Development Network and Andrew Winston, Founder, Winston Eco-Strategies, LLC.

 

 

The ‘Other’ Omran: Aleppo Civilians Expose MSM Lies & Child Exploitation

RT

September 4, 2017

by Vanessa Beeley

 

WHITE HELMETS: The Jib-Al-Qubeh War Crime in Aleppo, Denied by Channel 4

21st Century Wire

September 1, 2017

by Vanessa Beeley

 


“Harrowing footage published by the White Helmets volunteer rescue group showed a street littered with corpses and body parts, after civilians fleeing eastern Aleppo were reportedly hit by (regime) artillery fire. Shoes, clothing, suitcases and bags could be seen among puddles of blood and flesh.” ~ Lizzie Dearden for the Independent

This version of the news in the Independent regarding an alleged “Syrian regime massacre” in one district of East Aleppo, during November 2016, was repeated almost verbatim by NATO-aligned media outlets worldwide. Reports that saturated corporate media in the west, however, fell far short of the harrowing reality as recounted to me by residents of this East Aleppo district in July of this year. A reality that shattered the saccharine White Helmet “hero” narrative being promulgated by western media.

“The bodies of the dead and dying were left unattended for ten hours in the street after the Nusra Front rocket attack that killed 15 civilians. The White Helmets did not help them, they stole their belongings.” ~ Salaheddin Azazi, resident of Jibb Al Qubeh and eyewitness to events on 30/11/2016

On November 30th 2016, the clashes for the final liberation of East Aleppo, from a five year Nusra Front-dominated occupation and brutal siege of Syrian civilians, raged across the battle-scarred landscape of the eastern districts of Aleppo. Throughout this US coalition-armed and funded extremist campaign to steal Aleppo’s resources & industry and to gradually occupy the entire second capital city of Syria, the media propaganda campaigns had run in lock-step and parallel intensity.


Omran Daqneesh now a happy, well-adjusted child still living in East Aleppo with his family. July 2017. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

First there was Omran Daqneesh, the dusty, bloodied and bewildered little boy, whose image went viral within hours and was described by the majority of NATO aligned media & NGOs (including the UN) as the child “whose bloodied and dusty image gave a face to the suffering of Aleppo’s civilians in last year’s siege”. Omran’s story has more recently been exposed as a cynical publicity campaign for a “Bomb Free Zone”, set up by the UK FO constructed White Helmets and their child-beheading, Nour al Din Zinki, associates.

During the ground battles to liberate East Aleppo, the Nusra Front affiliated White Helmets produced many of the varied and imaginative narratives to demonize the Syrian Arab Army as it fought to cleanse civilian areas of the extremist brigades that had universally converted schools and hospitals into prisons, Sharia courts, torture chambers, military centres and bomb making factories.

On the 30th November 2016, in Jibb al Qubeh, East Aleppo – the White Helmets appeared in one of their most theatrically “poignant” and iconic story lines, complete with “heartrending” testimony from “survivors”. This production was brought to the western corporate media by none other than French Foreign Office funded Aleppo Media Centre. This version was shared by Middle East Eye. Watch:

YouTube Video Preview

The Corporate Media Scrum 

The “copy paste” corporate media sprang into action. Despite the absence of journalists on the ground in Aleppo, within hours, the story had gone viral based entirely upon the testimony and video footage from an Al Qaeda affiliate, the White Helmets. Syrian media, civilian testimony and reports from officials on the ground in East Aleppo contradicted this White Helmet narrative but to no avail. The NATO-aligned media simply buried such bones of contention under the rubble of their crumbling propaganda edifice in their rush to halt the Syrian Arab Army advance by eliciting outrage from the international community over another fabricated “massacre by the evil regime forces“.

High Commissioner for Human Rights at the UN, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, issued the following plea to the international community:

“… heed the cries” of the women, men and children being terrorized and slaughtered in Aleppo and to take urgent steps to ensure that the tens of thousands of people who have fled, surrendered or been captured are treated in line with international law.

 

“The crushing of Aleppo, the immeasurably terrifying toll on its people, the bloodshed, the wanton slaughter of men, women and children, the destruction – and we are nowhere near the end of this cruel conflict,”

UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon talked once again about how history would judge the international community if they did not “act”:

“History will not easily absolve us, but this failure compels us to do even more to offer the people of Aleppo our solidarity at this moment,”

[It must be noted that during my time in Jebrin Registration centre in December 2016, an estimated 100,000 liberated civilians were pouring in from Eastern Aleppo districts and were receiving humanitarian aid and assistance from the Syrian Arab Army, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, various Syrian civil society organisations and volunteers. The Russian military were distributing food and water and Russian medical teams had set up treatment tents that were receiving over 150 civilians per day, suffering from the effects of starvation, appalling, festering injuries & chronic illnesses that had been left untreated by the “moderate rebels” during the 5 year Nusra Front-led occupation. The UN organisation was nowhere to be seen during this crucial time of release and recovery for these traumatized people. ]

Channel 4 grabs the ball and runs with it..

Who else should step in to score a home try for the Syrian “opposition” but Channel 4.

Jon Snow (winner of 21st Century Wire’s #FakeNews poll) stepped up to the plate and performed perhaps one of the landmark Goebbelesque propaganda interviews of the Syrian conflict, with Fares Shehabi. Shehabi is an independent Aleppo MP and head of the Aleppo Chamber of Commerce. Unlike many of his colleagues, Shehabi remained in Aleppo throughout the five-year East Aleppo occupation, by US coalition armed & funded extremist brigades.

Snows pugnacious questioning of Shehabi revealed absolutely no objectivity nor did it leave room for doubt. In Snow’s mind “the Syrian army did it” and no amount of logical reasoning, from Shehabi in Aleppo, was going to derail his propaganda train. Unfortunately for Snow, at some point that train was destined to hit the brick wall of truth from the mouths of the very civilians that Snow claimed to be advocating for.


Meme produced by page supporting NATO state intervention in Syria. 

In his eagerness to discredit the Syrian government and the Syrian Arab Army, Snow got a bit confused over his facts. Initially endorsing the “barrel bomb” narrative, he then deftly switched to “Syrian artillery” fire. Nowhere in his repertoire did he include the analysis that the neighborhood of Jib Al Qubbeh would be a mountain of rubble, had it been double whammied by the 7-9-richter-scale-barrel-bombs and Syrian artillery. Why should a little reality get in the way of producing news-desk-fantasy after all, especially when UK foreign policy interests are at stake.

Fares Shehabi told me after the interview that Channel 4 had edited many of his responses to better comply with their narrative. To watch Jon Snow’s stellar performance in its entirety (plus edits), it is linked here.

So the official, NATO-aligned narrative was that the Syrian Arab Army, its allies, the Russian & Syrian airforces had all combined to obliterate Syrian civilians fleeing East Aleppo for the humanitarian corridors set up by the Syrian government & their Russian allies to enable these civilians to escape the fighting and reach the sanctity of the Syrian government protected West Aleppo. Not a single question was raised among the corporate media elite about the blatantly irrational logic behind this distorted chronicling of events.

The Inevitable Requests for a No Fly Zone

Less than a week after this tragedy was aired by western media, Abdulrahman Al Mawwas a White Helmet representative was given a platform to speak in front of the foreign affairs committee of the European Parliament in Ireland. Images taken from the White Helmet/AMC Jibb Al Qubeh production were used to reinforce demands for the creation of humanitarian corridors and planes to drop aid to civilians affected by war and of course, last but not least, a No Fly Zone. Mawwas stuck to the familiar script but the disturbing images from Jibb al Qubeh gave new impetus to his recital.

The Truth of Jibb Al Qubeh as Revealed by its Residents

In July/August 2017 I returned to the districts of East Aleppo that I had seen during liberation in December 2016 and again in April/May 2017. In July it was heartening to see that so many civilians had returned to their homes and were trying to recreate the life they had before the violent disruption of their peaceful existence, by US coalition-manufactured, armed, extremist groups.

I went with Aleppo journalist, Khaled Iskef, to the Jib Al Qubbeh neighborhood and I spoke with civilians. We sat outside their houses and drank coffee whilst around them, life returned to a semblance of “normal”. The recall of these civilians, many of whom witnessed events on that day in November 2016, differed wildly from the mass-produced narrative of NATO-aligned media outlets.


Discussing the November 2016 events in Jibb al Qubeh with residents and Khaled Iskef. July 2017. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

During my time in this district I spoke with Salaheddin Azazi and Ammar Al Bakr (in above photo) and a number of other named witnesses who testified to the truth of the killing of civilians who were fleeing East Aleppo to the safety of West Aleppo as the Syrian Arab Army was advancing on the ground and cleansing East Aleppo of Nusra Front and associated militant factions.


The street in Jibb Al Qubbeh where the White Helmets filmed their footage of massacred civilians. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley) 

Initially we toured (on foot) around the actual street that was the scene of the White Helmet/AMC video. Here we found the usual configuration of Nusra Front headquartes, Aleppo Council and White Helmet centres all within easy walking distance from each other. This same layout was found in every district of East Aleppo where these three entities were operating, also combining with the UK Foreign Office funded, Free Syrian Police in many of the same districts.

 

The above video, taken in the area, walks you through the Aleppo Council building and demonstrates the proximity of Nusra Front and the White Helmet centre at the end of the street. Graffiti on the garage door opposite the Aleppo Council is Kataeb Abu Amara, a Turkish funded militant brigade closely associated with Nusra Front that was also operating in this district of East Aleppo.


Khateab Abu Amara Graffiti on garage door opposite Aleppo Council, Jibb Al Qubeh, East Aleppo. July 2017. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

In this district the Nusra Front headquarters were just behind the Aleppo Council on the main through-road that runs parallel to Bryyah Al Maslakh street. This was another school that had been occupied by the terrorist group and converted into a military centre and Sharia Court, the Ruba school in Jibb Al Qubeh.


Nusra Front headquarters in Jib Al Qubbeh, another converted school. This building was less than 200m from the Aleppo Council and the White Helmet centre in this area. July 2017. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

Nusra Front aka Al Qaeda were the dominant force in Jib Al Qubbeh according to residents. A number of other, affiliated, extremist brigades were also operating, including Ahrar Souria (a version of the FSA strongly linked to Nusra Front and who shared their ideology), Ahrar Al Shaman extremist group responsible for many of the sectarian massacres in Syria yet still not designated a terrorist group by the US coalition and lastly the aforementioned Abu Amara brigade.

The leader of Ahrar Souria in Jib Al Qubeh was an individual by the name of Mahmoud Afash who came from Anadan. He was known as the terrorist tank “taxi driver”. He provided tanks for the terrorist front lines and battles. Talking to civilians a picture was formed of the dense network of terrorist entities that worked alongside one another including the White Helmets:

“The White Helmets worked ten hour shifts. Ten hours as White Helmets and then ten hours as Nusra Front fighters” Salaheddin Azazi told us.

The manager of the Jib Al Qubeh (JAQ) Aleppo council was Hassan Nairobani Hassoun, a pediatrician from the area who was working in Zahzour hospital during the Nusra Front-led five year occupation. Hassoun worked with Nusra Front, some residents told us of “large sums of money that he had tucked away in Turkish banks”. Azazi told us that Hassoun was tasked by Nusra Front to recquisition houses that had a basement for Nusra Front military use, during the almost 5 year occupation. Basements gave some protection from the aerial bombing by Syrian and Russian airforces. When Azazi heard of this project he deliberately broke his own sewage pipes and flooded his basement so Hassoun would reject it as a Nusra Front venue.


Syria Charity front page on its website, advertising Syrian children for “sponsorship” 

We were also told that Aleppo Council was equipped and maintained by the Syria Charity, a French government linked organisation that also “took care of the training of the White Helmets in Jib Al Qubeh”Pierre Le Corf, an independent, French humanitarian worker based in Aleppo said this about Syria Charity in his open letter to former President of France, Francois Hollande:

“Our government also finances associations such as ‘Syria Charity’ that has as an emblem the three star flag, and that was originally called the “League for a Free Syria.” This association, even if providing humanitarian aid, has crossed the thin red line by taking part in an opinion war to justify the overthrowing of the government by hiding the reality on the field and their proximity with belligerent groups and by providing constant medical relief to terrorist forces (their presence is carefully erased from all available videos).

 

Numerous French and international associations or humanitarian organisations intervening in « rebel » zones have done more harm than good through the weaponization of the suffering of the local populations and the public opinion in the name of an oriented cause, and through wrongfully directed donations. They are also responsible for taking civilians as hostages of this war, and enabling the conflict to continue by legitimizing it in a dishonest manner, enabling the fightings to continue and death to stay a daily preoccupation.”

How Events Unfolded on 30th November 2016


The street in Jib Al Qubbeh that was the scene of the White Helmet footage in November 2016. July 2017 (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

Below is the image taken from the White Helmet/AMC footage that was widely shared by corporate media, in this case, the Daily Mail who ran the unambiguous headline:

Bodies lie scattered in the streets of Aleppo after Syrian forces bombard rebel-held region, slaughtering at least 45 people 

All residents we spoke to including Azazi and Al Bakr were adamant that two terrorist home-made rockets were fired from the Eye Hospital to the east of the district of Sha’ar. At that time the Eye Hospital and the Childrens Hospital combined compound was still occupied by Nusra Front and the Jabhat Al Shamiya brigade. This hospital complex was only liberated by the Syrian Arab Army on the 4th December, so four days after the tragedy occurred in Jibb Al Qubeh.


Diagram showing (estimated) placement of Syrian Arab Army and Nusra Front in relation to Jib Al Qubeh on 30/11/2016 

On the 30th November, the closest Syrian Arab Army artillery position was in the Castle in the Old Citadel. They did also have artillery further away, to the north east of Jib Al Qubbeh in Hanano. The missiles had landed on the west side of the street targeting the Aleppo Council and adjacent building, the holes in the masonry were still visible. The Citadel was to the south west of the street and well over 1km away, therefore logic dictates that the missiles must have been fired from due east, which is where the terrorist occupied Eye Hospital is located.

First missile strike hit the wall of the Aleppo Council on the western side of the road. July 2017 (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)


Second missile/rocket strike hit further along the street towards the White Helmet centre but still on western side. July 2017 (Photo: Vanessa Beeley) 

Both Azazi and Al Bakr told me:

“We have lived through four years of occupation and we are very experienced when it comes to determining from how far away the mortars or rockets have been fired. From the sound of launch to the number of seconds before impact we can tell you almost exactly the distance to the rocket launcher and direction. These rockets were fired from the Eye Hospital to the east.”

So, through a pretty simple deduction and elimination process, the entire White Helmet/AMC, corporate media narrative has already started to fall apart at the seams. Certainly the Syrian air strike or seismic scale barrel bomb narrative does not fit as the street is largely untouched by aerial bombing, most of the structural damage is clearly from artillery mortar fire and there are additional signs of close quarter gun fights with bullet holes in the walls on both sides of the street.


Remaining buildings in the street, even those inbetween the two mortar strikes are structurally intact. July 2017 (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

Everyone interviewed told us, the attack happened at around 7am. Over 2000 civilians had been trying to escape the terrorist reprisals as the Syrian Arab Army advanced and these civilians were heading for the crossing points or SAA humanitarian collection points that would eventually give them safe access to West Aleppo. Azazi told me:

“They came from all areas, Jaloum, Salhiyeh, Midan, Bab al Nairab, Soukhari. They took this road to Farouj Al Sharq (one of the SAA collection points) instead of the main road, past the Nusra Front headquarters, to avoid being attacked by the terrorists…Nusra Front and Ahrar al Sham”. 

Azazi went on to describe the confusion that preceded the terrorist targeting of these civilians. I have paraphrased his description which I also videoed:

On that day, these 2000 civilians had been told that the safe point of Farouj AlSharq had been opened, by the SAA, to the north-east of Jibb Al Qubeh. They had collected their belongings and left their homes to escape the terrorists who were killing civilians rather than see them leave for the Syrian government held areas. (See my collection of testimonies from East Aleppo during liberation, December 2016 – here)

“As these civilians approached the end of the street, they saw that the way forward was blocked by Nusra Front terrorists. The terrorists told them to go back to Boustan Al Qasr, an area to the south-west of Jibb al Qubeh which was on the frontline between Nusra Front and the Syrian Arab Army.” said Azazi

Azazi clarified who was in charge of the Nusra Front terrorists at this point:

“The leader of Nusra Front in this area stopped them, he shot at them to turn them back. His nickname was Khattab Al Shishani his real name was Khaled Ktay. He is Syrian and from this area, we knew him” 

As they turned and fled back towards Boustan Al Qasr, they realised that this road was now also closed to them by the terrorist forces.

The crowds of civilians were effectively kettled into the narrow street at 7am when the rockets targeted them. Corporate media reports claimed 45 dead, residents told us 15 were killed in the attack. Those who managed to escape the rocket fire, were then pushed out of the street into the surrounding areas.

“Bodies were left in the street for ten hours, until 3 or 4pm” said Al Bakr.

“We watched the White Helmets steal the belongings of the victims,. They didn’t help them at all” Azazi repeated, and this eyewitness testimony was reiterated by a man who had come to join the discussion and who had a shop in the street…

“Yes, they stole all belongings from the dead bodies, they stole everything” he said. This man’s shop (in photo below) had been taken over by the Abu Amara brigade and used as a general store for their weapons and equipment.


Screenshot from video in Jibb Al Qubeh while residents explained events on 30/11/2016. July 2017. (Video: Vanessa Beeley)

“The White Helmets and Nusra Front would not allow relatives or people from the area into the street to help the injured or even to collect the bodies” added Azazi

“At around 4pm the White Helmets finally brought the orange body bags and started filming” said Al Bakr and Azazi

All three men confirmed that relatives were still prevented entry into the street to collect the bodies, until after the filming session. It is also very important to note that everyone we spoke to in East Aleppo, told us that filming or photography was only permissable if Nusra Front gave the green light. Nusra Front controlled all video footage and still photos in areas they governed, which was pretty much all of East Aleppo prior to liberation. This means that any footage being produced by the White Helmets, AMC, SMART, Channel 4 prize winning camerawoman Waad Al Khateabetc was enabled, almost exclusively by the express permission of Al Qaeda in East Aleppo. It also means that the footage and imagery that western corporate media based their narrative upon came with the blessings of Al Qaeda.

Above is a screenshot from the WhiteHelmet/AMC video. There is one White Helmet in full uniform on the left “checking” the body. The guy in the centre is unarmed but certainly looks more like a fighter than a first responder and the guy on the right is still wearing what could be identified as a militant headdress while sporting a White Helmet jacket. At this point, according to witness testimony, these bodies had already been picked clean of their valuables and belongings before these faux humanitarians starred in another of their cameo roles as rescue workers.


Walking back from the scene of the civilian massacre carried out by Nusra Front and “mopped up” by the NATO & Gulf state funded White Helmets. July 2017 with Khaled Iskef. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)

Conclusions

We walked back past the remnants of war and the ghosts of the lives lost on that day in November 2016, the July heat swirled around us and the sun cast long shadows on the street beneath our feet. I felt profoundly sad that these civilians, bewildered and terrified, had been trapped in this corridor of death on a bitterly cold November day in 2016 by the terrorists and their white-helmeted cohorts, before being mown down by the Nusra Front missiles.  I tried to imagine the panic, the fear and then the severe trauma for relatives who had to watch their children, their family members, dead or dying for over ten hours, unable to reach them or to prevent their meagre belongings being stolen from them.

Meanwhile the western corporate media had not pondered on any aspect of this incident before launching their “Syria & Russia did it” campaign. A campaign based upon the evidence of the White Helmets who hours before had left the bodies unattended in the street while they sifted through their remains and robbed the dead and dying of the few items of value these families had managed to gather together as they fled to what they hoped would be refuge from a life of oppression under Nusra Front rule.

Finally those desecrated bodies became propaganda props in another White Helmet movie, destined to evoke sympathy among the misinformed in the west and to feed the “regime change” narratives of the NATO-aligned media and NGOs who rely almost exclusively upon Al Qaeda affiliated testimony to produce their bullish pro-“moderate”, no-fly-zone lobby reports.

I leave you with another “immortal” quote from the Jon Snow interview…. Syrians are going home Jon Snow, ‘you know nothing.’

 

[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.]