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The Most Valuable Players of the Natural Capital League: Part 2

Wrong Kind of Green

October 19, 2017

 

 

The Natural Capital League (NCL) has gained it’s power and influence steadily over time and through it’s extensive networks.

After 35 years of the development of ecological economics two senior foundational figures have emerged who are utterly worthy of the title MVP.

One of these senior figures is a revered economist and the other is a lawyer, networker, manager, author, and academic.

Herman Daly

Herman Daly is not only a most valuable player, he has defined the game itself while developing the other talented players who’ve pushed the league forward. His great conceptual achievement is the idea of the ‘steady state’ (1977). He has been a very active proponent of the ‘polluter pays principle’. In 1991, while he was at the World Bank to work on sustainable development policy, he argued for the idea of ‘rights to pollute’. In 1992 he co-wrote a paper containing one of the earliest usages of the term ‘natural capital’ titled ‘Natural Capital and Sustainable Development’. In this paper a definition of the term ‘natural capital’ was provided based on a ‘functional definition’ of capital – “a stock that yields a flow of valuable goods and services into the future”.

Herman Daly was the 1996 winner of the Right Livelihood Award, the 2008 Adbusters ‘Man of the Year’ and the 2014 Blue Planet Prize winner. He co-founded the journal Ecological Economics, was closely involved in the founding of the International Society of Ecological Economics and is currently on staff at the Centre for the Advancement of Steady State Economics (CASSE). In 2012 he was a featured interviewee in the documentary ‘Four Horsemen’ directed by Ross Ashcroft who is also known as the Renegade Economist.

“Instead of maximizing returns to and investing in man-made capital (as was appropriate in an empty world), we must now maximize returns to and invest in natural capital (as is appropriate in a full world).”

Herman E. Daly (1994) in: AnnMari Jansson. Investing in Natural Capital: The Ecological Economics Approach To Sustainability. 1994. p. 24

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‘Rights to Pollute’

Allocation, distribution, and scale: towards an economics that is efficient, just, and sustainable. Ecological Economics

http://www.uvm.edu/~jfarley/EEseminar/readings/sus%20jus%20eff.pdf

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CASSE – Meet our staff

http://www.steadystate.org/meet/our-staff/

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Natural Capital and Sustainable Development

http://www.life.illinois.edu/ib/451/Costanza%20(1992).pdf

“The SSE will also require a “demographic transition” in populations of products towards longer-lived, more durable goods, maintained by lower rates of throughput.”

http://www.sd-commission.org.uk/data/files/publications/Herman_Daly_thinkpiece.pdf

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Gus Speth

James Gustave Speth is all about networking and was once dubbed the “ultimate insider”. He’s an MVP because his whole contribution is much greater than the some of the parts he has played, and he has played so very many parts. His list of fellowships and board appointments stretches to every corner of the sustainable development project. He is the highest ever American office holder at the united nations. He was the administrator of the United Nations Development Program, and he went on to become the Special Coordinator for Economic and Social Affairs under UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, and chair of the United Nations Development Group. He cofounded the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and founded the World Resources Institute (WRI). Crucially he knows how to reposition his career to the advantage of sustainable development.

Gus Speth got arrested with climate justice movement leader Bill McKibben in an anti-KXL pipeline protest for the first time in 2011 shortly after moving on from the NRDC and WRI. He responded to the threat of climate change by joining the US advisory board of climate justice organization 350.org and followed up on his vision for the future laid out in his book ‘America the Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy’ through his various networks and positions held in the new economy movement. He is a senior fellow of the Democracy Collaborative, associate fellow at the Tellus Institute, co-chair of the NextSystem Project, board member of New Economy Coalition, former dean Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Professor at Vermont Law School and was chairman of the U.S. Council on Environmental Quality (Carter Administration). He has a string of other fellowships and advisory roles all relating to sustainable development and new economy issues.

It’s Gus Speth’s role as consultant to the Capital Institute that ties all his networks to the Natural Capital League. The Capital Institute could be called the home of ‘regenerative capitalism’ which connects natural capital flows to the restoration of nature to improve the value of ‘ecosystem services’. Several natural capital economists from organisations such as the Gund Institute with which he shares a close relationship are involved in the Next System Project which he chairs. The Next System Project is focussed very much on social enterprise, support for communities and democratic process. We can expect that Gus Speth will continue to refine his networks and position himself to see sustainable development and the Natural Capital League flourish.

“CHILDREN CENTERED, NOT GROWTH CENTERED. Overall economic growth will not be seen as a priority, and GDP will be seen as a misleading measure of well-being and progress. Instead, indicators of community wealth creation — including measures of social and natural capital — will be closely watched, and special attention will be given to children and young people — their education and their right to loving care, shelter, good nutrition, health care, a toxic-free environment, and freedom from violence.”

America the Possible: A Manifesto, Part II

https://orionmagazine.org/article/america-the-possible-a-manifesto-part-ii/

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Measuring What Matters: GDP, Ecosystems and the Environment

http://www.wri.org/blog/2010/04/measuring-what-matters-gdp-ecosystems-and-environment

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Review of America the Possible by John Fullerton

https://capitalinstitute.org/blog/crb_book_review/gus-speths-america-possible/

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Gus Speth Returns to WRI, Inspires

http://www.wri.org/blog/2014/11/gus-speth-returns-wri-inspires

 

Further reading:

 

The Most Valuable Players of the Natural Capital League: Part 1

 

 

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

September 23, 2017

By Cory Morningstar with Forrest Palmer

 

 

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 inFortune’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
  • 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 Do?an Faralyal?, Chairwoman, Do?an Holding: Do?an Holdingis one of the largest conglomerates in  It’s industry sectors include energy, media, industry, trade, insurance and tourism. It is founded by Ayd?n Do?an (who remains a major shareholder), Begümhan Do?an Faralyal?’s father.
  • Mark Wilson, CEO ofAviva: 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.

 

 

LISTEN: A Mexican Crossing Lines – Fake Progressive Agendas – Part 3

LISTEN: A Mexican Crossing Lines – Fake Progressive Agendas – Part 3

Part 3 of a 6 Part Series

A Mexican Crossing Lines discusses the Fake progressives that are linked to the Kathleen Bennett case. Also discussed are the connections to Standing Rock: Profusion, Collusion & Big Money Profits.

:: Houston Hurricane
:: Update on Liars and Exploiters at camps and elsewhere
:: Fake Progressive Agendas Part 3

Listen To an Audio Podcast of the Show Here:

A Mexican Crossing Lines – Fake Progressive Agendas – Part 3

Download Audio Link

Link to Standing Rock article discussed in this podcast:

http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2016/12/09/standing-rock-profusion-collusion-big-money-profits-part-3/

 

[Cindy Gomez-Schempp is station manager of KPPP-LP FM radio, Board President of The Peoples Press Project and editor-in-chief at Mexi-Can]

LISTEN: A Mexican Crossing Lines – Fake Progressive Agendas – Part 2

LISTEN: A Mexican Crossing Lines – Fake Progressive Agendas – Part 2

Part 2 of a 6 Part Series

A Mexican Crossing Lines discusses the Fake progressives that are linked to the Kathleen Bennett case. Also discussed are the connections to Standing Rock: Profusion, Collusion & Big Money Profits.

:: Update on Savanna Lafontaine-Greywind
:: Addressing Racism, Privilege, Power in Fargo
:: Fake Progressive Agendas Part 2

Listen To an Audio Podcast of the Show Here:

A Mexican Crossing Lines – Fake Progressive Agendas – Part 2

Download Audio Link

Link to Standing Rock article discussed in this podcast:

http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2016/12/06/standing-rock-profusion-collusion-big-money-profits-part-2/

 

[Cindy Gomez-Schempp is station manager of KPPP-LP FM radio, Board President of The Peoples Press Project and editor-in-chief at Mexi-Can]

LISTEN: A Mexican Crossing Lines – Fake Progressive Agendas – Part 1

LISTEN: A Mexican Crossing Lines – Fake Progressive Agendas – Part 1

Part 1 of a 6 Part Series

A Mexican Crossing Lines discusses the Fake progressives that are linked to the Kathleen Bennett case such as Christina Hollenback, Nexus, and Menape.  Also discussed are the connections to Standing Rock: Profusion, Collusion & Big Money Profits.

Listen To an Audio Podcast of the Show Here:

A Mexican Crossing Lines – Fake Progressive Agendas – Part 1

 

[Cindy Gomez-Schempp is station manager of KPPP-LP FM radio, Board President of The Peoples Press Project and editor-in-chief at Mexi-Can]

Reagan Documents Shed Light on U.S. ‘Meddling’

Consortium News

September 13, 2017

By Robert Parry

 

President George W Bush visits CIA Headquarters, March 20, 2001.

 

Special Report: “Secret” documents from the Reagan administration show how the U.S. embedded “political action,” i.e., the manipulation of foreign governments, in ostensibly well-meaning organizations, reports Robert Parry.

“Secret” documents, recently declassified by the Reagan presidential library, reveal senior White House officials reengaging a former CIA “proprietary,” The Asia Foundation, in “political action,” an intelligence term of art for influencing the actions of foreign governments.

Partially obscured by President Reagan, Walter Raymond Jr. was the CIA propaganda and disinformation specialist who oversaw “political action” and “psychological operations” projects at the National Security Council in the 1980s. Raymond is seated next to National Security Adviser John Poindexter. (Photo credit: Reagan presidential library)

The documents from 1982 came at a turning-point moment when the Reagan administration was revamping how the U.S. government endeavored to manipulate the internal affairs of governments around the world in the wake of scandals in the 1960s and 1970s involving the Central Intelligence Agency’s global covert operations.

Instead of continuing to rely heavily on the CIA, President Reagan and his national security team began offloading many of those “political action” responsibilities to “non-governmental organizations” (NGOs) that operated in a more overt fashion and received funding from other U.S. government agencies.

But secrecy was still required for the involvement of these NGOs in the U.S. government’s strategies to bend the political will of targeted countries. If the “political action” of these NGOs were known, many countries would object to their presence; thus, the “secret” classification of the 1982 White House memos that I recently obtained via a “mandatory declassification review” from the archivists at the Reagan presidential library in Simi Valley, California.

In intelligence circles, “political action” refers to a wide range of activities to influence the policies and behaviors of foreign nations, from slanting their media coverage, to organizing and training opposition activists, even to setting the stage for “regime change.”

The newly declassified memos from the latter half of 1982 marked an ad hoc period of transition between the CIA scandals, which peaked in the 1970s, and the creation of more permanent institutions to carry out these semi-secretive functions, particularly the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which was created in 1983.

Much of this effort was overseen by a senior CIA official, Walter Raymond Jr., who was moved to Reagan’s National Security Council’s staff where he managed a number of interagency task forces focused on “public diplomacy,” “psychological operations,” and “political action.”

Raymond, who had held top jobs in the CIA’s covert operations shop specializing in propaganda and disinformation, worked from the shadows inside Reagan’s White House, too. Raymond was rarely photographed although his portfolio of responsibilities was expansive. He brought into his orbit emerging “stars,” including Lt. Col. Oliver North (a central figure in the Iran-Contra scandal), State Department propagandist (and now a leading neocon) Robert Kagan, and NED President Carl Gershman (who still heads NED with its $100 million budget).

Despite his camera avoidance, Raymond appears to have grasped his true importance. In his NSC files, I found a doodle of an organizational chart that had Raymond at the top holding what looks like the crossed handles used by puppeteers to control the puppets below them. The drawing fit the reality of Raymond as the behind-the-curtains operative who controlled various high-powered inter-agency task forces.

Earlier declassified documents revealed that Raymond also was the conduit between CIA Director William J. Casey and these so-called “pro-democracy” programs that used sophisticated propaganda strategies to influence not only the thinking of foreign populations but the American people, too.

This history is relevant again now amid the hysteria over alleged Russian “meddling” in last year’s U.S. presidential elections. If those allegations are true – and the U.S. government has still not presented any real proof  – the Russian motive would have been, in part, payback for Washington’s long history of playing games with the internal politics of Russia and other countries all across the planet.

A Fight for Money

The newly released memos describe bureaucratic discussions about funding levels for The Asia Foundation (TAF), with the only sensitive topic, to justify the “secret” stamp, being the reference to the U.S. government’s intent to exploit TAF’s programs for “political action” operations inside Asian countries.

Then-Vice President George H.W. Bush with CIA Director William Casey at the White House on Feb. 11, 1981. (Photo credit: Reagan Library)

Indeed, the opportunity for “political action” under TAF’s cover appeared to be the reason why Reagan’s budget cutters relented and agreed to restore funding to the foundation.

William Schneider Jr. of the Office of Management and Budget wrote in a Sept. 2, 1982 memo that the Budget Review Board (BRB) had axed TAF funding earlier in the year.

“When the BRB last considered this issue on March 29, 1982, it decided not to include funding in the budget for a U.S. Government grant to TAF. The Board’s decision was based on the judgement that given the limited resources available for international affairs programs, funding for the Foundation could not be justified. During that March 29 meeting, the State Department was given the opportunity to fund TAF within its existing budget, but would not agree to do so.”

However, as Schneider noted in the memo to Deputy National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane, “I now understand that a proposal to continue U.S. funding for the Asia Foundation is included in the ‘political action’ initiatives being developed by the State Department and several other agencies.

“We will, of course, work with you to reconsider the relative priority of support for the Foundation as part of these initiatives keeping in mind, however, the need for identifying budget offsets.”

A prime mover behind this change of heart appeared to be Walter Raymond, who surely knew TAF’s earlier status as a CIA “proprietary.” In 1966, Ramparts magazine exposed that relationship and led the Johnson administration to terminate the CIA’s money.

According to an April 12, 1967 memo from the State Department’s historical archives, CIA Director Richard Helms, responding to a White House recommendation, “ordered that covert funding of The Asia Foundation (TAF) shall be terminated at the earliest practicable opportunity.”

In coordination with the CIA’s “disassociation,” TAF’s board released what the memo described as “a carefully limited statement of admission of past CIA support. In so doing the Trustees sought to delimit the effects of an anticipated exposure of Agency support by the American press and, if their statement or some future expose does not seriously impair TAF’s acceptability in Asia, to continue operating in Asia with overt private and official support.”

The CIA memo envisioned future funding from “overt U.S. Government grants” and requested guidance from the White House’s covert action oversight panel, the 303 Committee, for designation of someone “to whom TAF management should look for future guidance and direction with respect to United States Government interests.”

In 1982, with TAF’s funding again in jeopardy, the CIA’s Walter Raymond rallied to its defense from his NSC post. In an undated memo to McFarlane, Raymond recalled that “the Department of State underscored that TAF had made significant contributions to U.S. foreign policies through fostering democratic institutions and, as a private organization, had accomplished things which a government organization cannot do.” [Emphasis in original]

Raymond’s bureaucratic intervention worked. By late 1982, the Reagan administration had arranged for TAF’s fiscal 1984 funding to go through the U.S. Information Agency (USIA) budget, which was being used to finance a range of President Reagan’s “democracy initiatives.” Raymond spelled out the arrangements in a Dec. 15, 1982 memo to National Security Advisor William Clark.

“The issue has been somewhat beclouded in the working levels at State since we have opted to fund all FY 84 democracy initiatives via the USIA budgetary submission,” Raymond wrote. “At the same time, it is essential State maintain its operational and management role with TAF.”

Over the ensuing three and half decades, TAF has continued to be  subsidized by U.S. and allied governments. According to its annual report for the year ending Sept. 30, 2016, TAF said it “is funded by an annual appropriation from the U.S. Congress, competitively bid awards from governmental and multilateral development agencies, including the U.S. Agency for International Development, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, United Kingdom’s Department for International Development and by private foundations and corporations,” a sum totaling $94.5 million.

TAF, which operates in 18 Asian countries, describes its purpose as “improving lives across a dynamic and developing Asia.” TAF’s press office had no immediate comment regarding the newly released Reagan-era documents.

Far From Alone

But TAF was far from alone as a private organization that functioned with U.S. government money and collaborated with U.S. officials in achieving Washington’s foreign policy goals.

Carl Gershman, president of the National Endowment for Democracy.

For instance, other documents from the Reagan library revealed that Freedom House, a prominent human rights organization, sought advice and direction from Casey and Raymond while advertising the group’s need for financial help.

In an Aug. 9, 1982 letter to Raymond, Freedom House executive director Leonard R. Sussman wrote that “Leo Cherne [another senior Freedom House official] has asked me to send these copies of Freedom Appeals. He has probably told you we have had to cut back this project to meet financial realities. We would, of course, want to expand the project once again when, as and if the funds become available.”

According to the documents, Freedom House remained near the top of Casey’s and Raymond’s thinking when it came to the most effective ways to deliver the CIA’s hardline foreign policy message to the American people and to the international community.

On Nov. 4, 1982, Raymond wrote to NSC Advisor Clark about the “Democracy Initiative and Information Programs,” stating that “Bill Casey asked me to pass on the following thought concerning your meeting with [right-wing billionaire] Dick Scaife, Dave Abshire [then a member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board], and Co.

“Casey had lunch with them today and discussed the need to get moving in the general area of supporting our friends around the world. By this definition he is including both ‘building democracy’ and helping invigorate international media programs. The DCI [Casey] is also concerned about strengthening public information organizations in the United States such as Freedom House.

“A critical piece of the puzzle is a serious effort to raise private funds to generate momentum. Casey’s talk with Scaife and Co. suggests they would be very willing to cooperate. Suggest that you note White House interest in private support for the Democracy initiative.”

In a Jan. 25, 1983 memo, Raymond wrote, “We will move out immediately in our parallel effort to generate private support” for “public diplomacy” operations. Then, on May 20, 1983, Raymond recounted in another memo that $400,000 had been raised from private donors brought to the White House Situation Room by USIA Director Charles Wick. According to that memo, the money was divided among several organizations, including Freedom House and Accuracy in Media, a right-wing media attack group.

In an Aug. 9, 1983 memo, Raymond outlined plans to arrange private backing for that effort. He said USIA Director Wick “via [Australian publishing magnate Rupert] Murdock [sic], may be able to draw down added funds” to support pro-Reagan initiatives. Raymond recommended “funding via Freedom House or some other structure that has credibility in the political center.”

[For more on the Murdoch connection, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Rupert Murdoch: Propaganda Recruit.”]

Questions of Legality

Raymond remained a CIA officer until April 1983 when he resigned so in his words “there would be no question whatsoever of any contamination of this” propaganda operation to woo the American people into supporting Reagan’s policies.

CIA seal in lobby of the spy agency’s headquarters. (U.S. government photo)

Raymond fretted, too, about the legality of Casey’s role in the effort to influence U.S. public opinion because of the legal prohibition against the CIA influencing U.S. policies and politics. Raymond confided in one memo that it was important “to get [Casey] out of the loop,” but Casey never backed off and Raymond continued to send progress reports to his old boss well into 1986.

It was “the kind of thing which [Casey] had a broad catholic interest in,” Raymond said during his Iran-Contra deposition in 1987. He then offered the excuse that Casey undertook this apparently illegal interference in domestic affairs “not so much in his CIA hat, but in his adviser to the president hat.”

In 1983, Casey and Raymond focused on creating a permanent funding mechanism to support private organizations that would engage in propaganda and political action that the CIA had historically organized and paid for covertly. The idea emerged for a congressionally funded entity that would be a conduit for this money.

But Casey recognized the need to hide the strings being pulled by the CIA. In one undated letter to then-White House counselor Edwin Meese III, Casey urged creation of a “National Endowment,” but added: “Obviously we here [at CIA] should not get out front in the development of such an organization, nor should we appear to be a sponsor or advocate.”

document in Raymond’s files offered examples of what would be funded, including “Grenada — 50 K — To the only organized opposition to the Marxist government of Maurice Bishop (The Seaman and Waterfront Workers Union). A supplemental 50 K to support free TV activity outside Grenada” and “Nicaragua — $750 K to support an array of independent trade union activity, agricultural cooperatives.”

The National Endowment for Democracy took shape in late 1983 as Congress decided to also set aside pots of money — within NED — for the Republican and Democratic parties and for organized labor, creating enough bipartisan largesse that passage was assured.

But some in Congress thought it was important to wall the NED off from any association with the CIA, so a provision was included to bar the participation of any current or former CIA official, according to one congressional aide who helped write the legislation.

This aide told me that one night late in the 1983 session, as the bill was about to go to the House floor, the CIA’s congressional liaison came pounding at the door to the office of Rep. Dante Fascell, a senior Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a chief sponsor of the bill.

The frantic CIA official conveyed a single message from CIA Director Casey: the language barring the participation of CIA personnel must be struck from the bill, the aide recalled, noting that Fascell consented to the demand, not fully recognizing its significance.

The aide said Fascell also consented to the Reagan administration’s choice of Carl Gershman to head the National Endowment for Democracy, again not recognizing how this decision would affect the future of the new entity and American foreign policy.

Gershman, who had followed the classic neoconservative path from youthful socialism to fierce anticommunism, became NED’s first (and, to this day, only) president. Though NED is technically independent of U.S. foreign policy, Gershman in the early years coordinated decisions on grants with Raymond at the NSC.

For instance, on Jan. 2, 1985, Raymond wrote to two NSC Asian experts that “Carl Gershman has called concerning a possible grant to the Chinese Alliance for Democracy (CAD). I am concerned about the political dimension to this request. We should not find ourselves in a position where we have to respond to pressure, but this request poses a real problem to Carl.”

Besides clearing aside political obstacles for Gershman, Raymond also urged NED to give money to Freedom House in a June 21, 1985 letter obtained by Professor John Nichols of Pennsylvania State University.

What the documents at the Reagan library make clear is that Raymond and Casey stayed active shaping the decisions of the new funding mechanism throughout its early years. (Casey died in 1987; Raymond died in 2003.)

Lots of Money

Since its founding, NED has ladled out hundreds of millions of dollars to NGOs all over the world, focusing on training activists, building media outlets, and supporting civic organizations. In some geopolitical hotspots, NED may have scores of projects running at once, such as in Ukraine before the 2014 coup that overthrew elected President Viktor Yanukovych and touched off the New Cold War with Russia. Via such methods, NED helped achieve the “political action” envisioned by Casey and Raymond.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, following his address to the UN General Assembly on Sept. 28, 2015. (UN Photo)

From the start, NED also became a major benefactor for Freedom House, beginning with a $200,000 grant in 1984 to build “a network of democratic opinion-makers.” In NED’s first four years, from 1984 and 1988, it lavished $2.6 million on Freedom House, accounting for more than one-third of its total income, according to a study by the liberal Council on Hemispheric Affairs, which was entitled “Freedom House: Portrait of a Pass-Through.”

Over the ensuing decades, Freedom House has become almost an NED subsidiary, often joining NED in holding policy conferences and issuing position papers, both organizations pushing primarily a neoconservative agenda, challenging countries deemed insufficiently “free,” including Syria, Ukraine (before the 2014 coup) and Russia.

NED and Freedom House often work as a kind of tag-team with NED financing NGOs inside targeted countries and Freedom House berating those governments if they try to crack down on U.S.-funded NGOs.

For instance, on Nov. 16, 2012, NED and Freedom House joined together to denounce a law passed by the Russian parliament requiring Russian recipients of foreign political money to register with the government. Or, as NED and Freedom House framed the issue: the Russian Duma sought to “restrict human rights and the activities of civil society organizations and their ability to receive support from abroad. Changes to Russia’s NGO legislation will soon require civil society organizations receiving foreign funds to choose between registering as ‘foreign agents’ or facing significant financial penalties and potential criminal charges.”

Of course, the United States has a nearly identical Foreign Agent Registration Act that likewise requires entities that receive foreign funding and seek to influence U.S. government policy to register with the Justice Department or face possible fines or imprisonment.

But the Russian law would impede NED’s efforts to destabilize the Russian government through funding of political activists, journalists and civic organizations, so it was denounced as an infringement of human rights and helped justify Freedom House’s rating of Russia as “not free.”

The Russian government’s concerns were not entirely paranoid. On Sept. 26, 2013, Gershman, in effect, charted the course for the crisis in Ukraine and the greater neocon goal of regime change in Russia. In a Washington Post op-ed, Gershman called Ukraine “the biggest prize” and explained how pulling it into the Western camp could contribute to the ultimate defeat of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Ukraine’s choice to join Europe will accelerate the demise of the ideology of Russian imperialism that Putin represents,” Gershman wrote. “Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.”

The long history of the U.S. government interfering covertly or semi-covertly in the politics of countries all over the world is the ironic backdrop to the current frenzy over Russia-gate and Russia’s alleged dissemination of emails that undermined Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

The allegations are denied by both Putin and WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange who published the Democratic emails – and the U.S. government has presented no solid evidence to support the accusations of “Russian meddling” – but if the charges are true, they could be seen as a case of turnabout as fair play.

Except in this case, U.S. officials, who have meddled ceaselessly with their “political action” operations in countries all over the world, don’t like even the chance that they could get a taste of their own medicine.

 

[Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).]

 

Avaaz Goes to Myanmar

Avaaz Goes to Myanmar

September 8, 2017

by Cory Morningstar with Forrest Palmer

 

“Good fucking luck with the World Bank ‘supporting’ your transition to democracy. Soon, the ADB (Asian Development Bank) will come and do the same – if it hasn’t already. Everyone falls for the utterly stupid. Mad world.” – Philippine citizen/activist Kristine Alvarez in response to the announcement “World Bank OKs first Myanmar aid in 25 years”, November 2, 2011

Andrea Woodhouse poses for a portrait on the new bridge on Sule Pagoda road, downtown Yangon. (C) Chiara Luxardo

 

In the book NGOs – The Self-Appointed Altruists (written in 2002 and updated in 2011) the author observes:

“NGO’s in places like Sudan, Somalia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Albania, and Zimbabwe have become the preferred venue for Western aid – both humanitarian and financial – development financing, and emergency relief. According to the Red Cross, more money goes through NGO’s than through the World Bank. Their iron grip on food, medicine, and funds rendered them an alternative government – sometimes as venal and graft-stricken as the one they replace.”

 

“The elites like this model, but it’s fragility is evident. Cancun itself can only take so many more category 5 hurricanes before it will be retired like Mazatlan or Atlantic City. When this happens, new frontiers of commodified leisure, whether in Colombia, Sri Lanka or Myanmar, will be developed, but even so the economic and political costs of the 2 degree Celsius average temperature rise that the world leaders have deemed acceptable are staggering.” — Normalizing Catastrophe: Cancun as Laboratory of the Future, Dec 18. 2010

In the March 3, 2017 article Yangon, Myanmar: World Bank Specialist Goes Back to Beginnings the Financial Times published a full feature on Avaaz co-founder Andrea Woodhouse. The article covers the following events.

In 2008 Avaaz co-founders Andrea Woodhouse and her husband David Madden went to Myanmar. According to Woodhouse, she carried out post-disaster work for nine months following Cyclone Nargis for “a body comprising the government, the UN, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations”. During this time, Woodhouse states there were “no credit cards, no ATMs and a SIM card for a mobile phone cost roughly $1,500.00.”

Former United States President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with Aung San Suu Kyi and her staff at her home in Rangoon on November 19, 2012. Source: (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Neoliberalism would soon follow. In 2012, Woodhouse would relocate to central Yangon “to settle as a social development specialist for the World Bank, which was re-engaging with Myanmar after an absence of more than 20 years” with her spouse and Avaaz co-founder David Madden. Not so coincidentally, Myanmar’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest, US and EU sanctions began to lift and “market liberalisation” was under way. Between 2011 and 2015 the cost of renting a typical apartment more than doubled with landlords catering to the wave of foreign money by demanding a full years rent up front.

In the Montessori school where Woodhouse’s child attends (“one of maybe two expats in a class of about 15 to 20 children”) the school teaches in English rather than Burmese. Living in one of the poorest countries in Asia, wealthy expats (inclusive of Woodhouse and Madden) and Myanmar elites travel abroad for medical treatment and child birth. Woodhouse acknowledges her children are  “extremely privileged”.

August 18, 2017, The FINANCIAL — “The Republic of the Union of Myanmar and the World Bank today signed a US$200 million credit for a First Macroeconomic Stability and Fiscal Resilience Development Policy Operation…. The terms for the IDA credit include a repayment period of 38 years…” [Source]

“In 2012 if we went to a restaurant popular with expats, we would probably recognise everyone there. Now we wouldn’t know a single person.”— Andrea Woodhouse

The vast majority of expats rent. Typical two-bedroom, serviced apartments in the capital cost about $5,100 per month. Parliament passed a new condominium law, which gives foreigners rights to purchase flats, in January 2016.

Avaaz Co-founder David Madden in Myanmar

  

Avaaz and Purpose co-founders Jeremy Heimans (l) and David Madden: “Jeremy Heimans and David Madden founders of Get Up! Action for Australia, at Old Parliament house in Canberra on Friday, 29th July, 2005.” THE AGE NEWS Picture by PENNY

“After years of isolation, Myanmar is opening up. Opportunities abound. However international companies have little experience here and local firms have little experience working with them. Parami Road meets this need.” — Parami Road Website

As first noted in the 2014 article, SYRIA: Avaaz, Purpose & the Art of Selling Hate for Empire, David Madden, co-founder of both Avaaz and New York consulting firm Purpose, has also co-founded the marketing firm Parami Road in Myanmar (“Our clients are mostly international companies entering Myanmar and they demand an international standard of work”) as well as the tech firm Phandeeyar – a 6000 square foot ICT hub in the heart of downtown Yangon. Launched with the support of several sponsors in 2014, including Internews and Phandeeyar (previously operated as Code for Change Myanmar), it is important to note that the key partners of Phandeeyar are USAID, the US State Department, U.S. Mission to ASEAN, and the  US-ASEAN Business Council. [Source]

“A serial entrepreneur who co-founded the global campaigning website Avaaz.org and U.S.-based digital strategy agency Purpose, among others, the Harvard-educated Madden believes technology is essential for Myanmar’s development.” — July 8, 2015, Myanmar Now

Simply stated, Madden plays a vital role in bringing western ideologies and foreign investment to the doorstep of Myanmar. As a co-founder of Avaaz, an NGO that specializes in behavioural change, Madden’s hashtag for his tech firm (“human Capital Development”) sums up the goal: social impact (#socialimpact MM). Of course, Madden cannot achieve this alone, thus he is joined by thousands of NGOs that comprise the non-profit industrial complex:

“Estimates vary widely on the number of local NGOs in Myanmar. An article claimed more than 10,000 such groups, while another study conducted in 2003 by Save the Children—the first detailed look at civil society in Myanmar—estimated there were 270 local NGOs at that time. Regardless of the number, there is a vibrant and growing nongovernment sector encompassing a range of interests and approaches throughout the country. International NGOs are increasingly active in Myanmar, working in humanitarian response and longer-term development in a multitude of sectors, including the environment, health, education, livelihoods, rule of law, advocacy, and civil society capacity building. International NGOs, present in small numbers since the 1990s, have entered Myanmar in two recent waves: in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis in 2008, and since the forming of the new government in early 2011.” — Civil Society Briefs Myanmar

A key function of Madden’s tech firm is not unlike that of MoveOn.org (a co-founding NGO of Avaaz) and its relationship with the US Democratic party, which is to focus on building Myanmar’s voter registration. It’s other key function is to pitch business opportunities to investors. In September of 2016, the tech firm launched the “Phandeeyar accelerator”.  According to Forbes (October 31, 2016), the “accelerator” provides $25,000 in seed funding, mentoring and free office space in Phandeeyar’s 6,000-square-foot building. Participants also receive “$200,000 worth of strategic services, including access to Amazon Web Services, free English classes and a range of other benefits. They’ll also have the opportunity to pitch investors who Madden describes as ‘serious about the Myanmar market.'” Madden foresees startups that establish themselves “could be poised for explosive growth in the next several years as the economy continues to accelerate.”

“Madden said that some had been hesitant, waiting to see how State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi’s rise to power would play out. But confidence is growing following the peaceful political transition, and the U.S.’ decision to ease sanctions in recent years has inspired much interest in the country. McKinsey Global Institute estimates that Myanmar’s economy has the potential to reach $200 billion in 2030, more than tripling from $45 billion in 2010. The Overseas Private Investment Corporation, run by the U.S. government, issued the first installment of $250 million loan to the telecommunication company Apollo Towers Myanmar in June. Microsoft is working with the Myanmar Computer Company to help 100,000 people develop IT skills within the country. And the country saw a strong performance from its first listed stock earlier this year, indicating potential for future growth. Investment opportunities abound, with deep needs across the energy, tourism and infrastructure markets, according to the British Chamber of Commerce.” —This Tech Accelerator Is Betting That Myanmar’s Startup Scene Is Set To Explode, Forbes, October 31, 2016 [Emphasis added]

In 2017, the Phandeeyar Accelerator’s Demo Day hosted over 200 local and international investors. The list included 70 venture capital investors (VCs) and mentors including Red Dot Ventures, Digital Ventures, and Omidyar Network. Note that although the official language of Myranmar is Burmese, spoken by 70-80% of the population, all Burmese speaking in the Phandeeyar demo day video are speaking English. Far be it for Anglo “leaders” to make any concerted effort to speak Burmese, let alone learn the language. This of course is colonization in one of its most accepted and blatant forms. This point is further validated by the fact that Edulink Australia (specializing in English proficiency) is a strategic partner of Phandeeyar.

Madden is not the only expat poised for explosive growth in Myanmar. With the global capitalist economic system hovering close to stall speed, the world’s most powerful corporations are desperately searching for new markets. Myanmar is the “new sweet spot” for the most egregious corporate entities:

“Still, the country’s young, inexpensive workforce and low living standards offer huge potential for growth. GE, on its website, describes Myanmar as a “new sweet spot” for growth in Southeast Asia. Some other major U.S. brands got a head start, including Coca-Cola, which has a factory producing for the local market. Ball Corp. has a factory in Yangon’s Thilawa Special Economic Zone making cans for Coca-Cola. MasterCard is expanding in the area of ATM cards. GE is active in energy and other sectors and leases Boeing 737-800s to the country’s national airlines. ConocoPhillips and Chevron have stakes in oil and gas exploration and development. Some U.S. businesses, like Caterpillar, have distribution tie-ups in Myanmar with local or other foreign companies.” [October, 2016, Source]

 

Above: Phandeeyar headquarters

On June 3, 2016 it was announced that Phandeeyar secured a $2 million follow-on investment from Omidyar Network. [Source: Deal Street Asia] Omidyar Network first invested in Phandeeyar in 2014 with other investors and aid givers including the Schmidt Family Foundation, the Open Society Foundation, USAID and Google. Deal Street Asia also reports that “[A]part from Phandeeyar, Omidyar Network has invested in Proximity Designs, Open Myanmar Initiative (OMI), Myitmakha news agency, Yangon Journalism School, Global Witness and Namati in the country.”

Financiers of Madden’s entrepreneurial tech operations and innovations also include Internews, Facebook, the United States Embassy, Hewitt Packard, Samsung, the US State Department, Pact, Office of Transition Initiatives (USAID), The Asia Foundation, KBZ Bank and Red Dot Ventures. Strategic partners include (but are not limited to) telenor, wave money (telenor, Yoma Bank), Fb Start, AWS Activate (Amazon), JobNet, Microsoft BizSpark, Today Ogilvy Myanmar (“we make brands matter”), Edulink Australia (specializing in English proficiency) and PwC.

The Innovation Marketplace is a joint initiative by Phandeeyar and FHI 360, and supported by USAID in which a primary focus is “mobilization of popular support for social change.”

And while the rich get richer:

“Land laws were changed in 2012 and 2013 to make it easier for the government to facilitate land grabs and many segments of the rural population have seen their homes demolished and their paddy fields ruined to make way for foreign development projects. Farmers like Umya Hlaing have been left without land with, “no conversation, no replacement land, no adequate compensation.” [January 30, 2017, Source]

The Ultimate Balancing Act

Here one must note that while Myanmar opens its arms to neoliberal foreign policy, it simultaneously transitions into a playground for the rich – all while the tensions and killings between the Muslim Rohingya, the Buddhist Rakhine, the Burmese authorities, Burmese government and its military escalate. As the so-called human rights NGOs (which are actually in servitude to empire) turn up the volume on this crisis, we must acknowledge there is much more going on behind the scenes that we, in the west, are not cognizant of. For example, terrorist factions such as Islamic State and Al Qaeda have embedded themselves into various Rohingya organizations such as the Rohingya Liberation Organization and the Rohingya Solidarity Organization. The well-documented atrocities and killings of Buddhist Rakhine by the Rohingya go unreported by mainstream media. This has undoubtedly been orchestrated, at least in part, by foreign interests. Exploiting existing divisions is key to controlled chaos and destabilization. Where divisions do not already exist – they are created.


Above: Avaaz campaign

Above: Avaaz training Buddhist Monks:A young student and monk take part in a non-violence training program – they cannot show their faces for fear of being identified by the military.” Source: Avaaz website

The said contention surrounding the Rohingya is the issue of legal citizenship (sovereignty and nationality) verses refugee/migrant status. This ongoing crisis is then conflated with the religious components. The fact that this is a basic human rights issue is then lost. Further, “Harsha Walia, a social justice activist and journalist, tells us that borders are constructs and that they serve an imperialistic purpose. Borders represent practices used to legally coerce displaced migrants into precarious labor and criminalized existence. In her work, Undoing Border Imperialism, Walia offers a framework termed ‘border imperialism,’ which is a system that controls the flow of people, themselves fleeing the military or economic violence of empire, who are racialized and economically exploited by their illegalization.” [Source: Borders: Imaginary Lines, Real Exploitation]

What is notable here is that fact that although Avaaz has produced a campaign to bring attention to this tragedy, never do they ask for the world to demand the implementation of a no-fly zone as they have done in countries that reject imperial dominance. It appears as though, if Myanmar does not continue to kowtow sufficiently to foreign interests, an intervention with a no-fly-zone on could easily be the next campaign demand for NGOs to rally behind. However, this is most unlikely as the full transition of Myanmar to western ideologies is already well underway with foreign investment now pouring in. Regardless of the geopolitics involving China and Asia as a whole, the fact is the World Bank has already sunk it’s teeth in. There is simply too much to risk with a full raze of the landscape. Indeed, the Myanmar crisis will prove to be a problematical balancing act of sabotaging Chinese interests while simultaneously attracting foreign investment from western corporations. If necessary, a coup is far more likely to be orchestrated by foreign interests. The crisis being highlighted by international NGOs should be seen as more of a threat – pressure upon Aung San Suu Kyi to ensure complete subservience more than anything else. The key factor is this: interventions by imperial states are never based on protecting human rights.

Also, to be taken into account, is the power struggle between the declining United States and new superpower China. First, consider the massive investment into Myanmar by China:

 “But the total $248 million U.S. companies have committed since 1988 amounts to less than 1 percent of total foreign investment of about $60 billion. China has invested more than $25 billion, according to Chinese figures.” [October 2016, Source]

Secondly, consider the crucial energy aspect:

 “After the massive Rakhine energy reserves were discovered in 2004 they attracted China’s attention. By 2013 China completed oil and natural gas pipelines, which connect Myanmar’s port of Kyaukphyu with the Chinese city of Kunming in Yunnan province.” [Source]

Dmitry Mosyakov, director of the Centre for Southeast Asia, Australia and Oceania at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, sums it up as follows:

“First, this is a game against China, as China has very large investments in Arakan [Rakhine] Second, it is aimed at fueling Muslim extremism in Southeast Asia…. Third, it’s the attempt to sow discord within ASEAN [between Myanmar and Muslim-dominated Indonesia and Malaysia]. — [Source]

Myanmar-to-China Crude Oil & Gas Pipelines

The Myanmar-China crude oil and gas pipelines were designed to carry more than 22 million tons of oil and more than 420 billion cubic feet of natural gas per year was to commence operations in 2013. On April 11, 2017, the Financial Times announced that China and Myanmar would open long-delayed oil pipeline after being suspended for years, fraught with delays and conflict. “Once fully operational, the pipeline from Made island in Rakhine state can supply almost 6 per cent of China’s crude oil imports. The gas line is already in use.” On May 20, 2017 India of Times reported that “China-Myanmar oil pipeline opens enhancing tie: The oil reached Ruili, a border city of in China’s Yunnan Province at 4 p.m. on Friday according to the state owned China National Petroleum Corporation, which built the pipeline.”

Map: Oil & Gas Journal, 2012

Near-term pipeline plans grow, longer-term projects sag – Oil & Gas Journal, February 6, 2012:

“Myanmar awarded China National Petroleum Corp. exclusive rights to construct and operate the proposed Myanmar-to-China crude oil pipeline. This line and a companion natural gas pipeline would transport hydrocarbons from the Bay of Bengal across Myanmar to southwestern China (Fig. 4). Plans call for the 440,000-b/d crude pipeline to run between Maday Island in western Myanmar through Ruili in China’s southwestern Yunnan province and on to a new 200,000-b/d refinery in Anning. Both the pipeline and refinery are to begin operation by 2013. CNPC began building a large oil import port at Kyaukpyu, Myanmar, in October 2009 to serve as the pipeline’s input point. The port will be able to receive vessels up to 300,000 dwt and will have storage capacity of 600,000 cu m.”

The natural gas pipeline is scheduled to begin carrying 12 billion cu m/year to southwestern China in 2013. Route preparation began in mid-2010, with the first pipes welded in August 2011. The pipeline will parallel the route of the crude pipeline to Ruili. From there it will run to Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province, before extending to Guizhou and Guangxi in South China.

The crude line will transport oil carried by tanker from the Middle East, while the gas line will carry material from Myanmar’s offshore A-1 and A-3 blocks. Total estimated project costs are $1.5 billion for the oil pipeline and $1.04 billion for the gas pipeline.

The new pipelines will give China better access to Myanmar’s resources and will speed deliveries and improve China’s energy security by bypassing the congested Malacca Strait, which currently ships most of China’s imported crude oil.”

Here it is important to note that 90% of the crude oil going through the Myanmar-to-China pipeline is designated for China – while the bulk of the ecological devastation and social impacts/displacement, has been placed on the Myanmar ecosystems and most vulnerable populations.

The Strategic Expansion of Globalization & Capitalism

In this Friday, Oct. 7, 2016 photo, a sign of KFC’s grinning Colonel Sanders and his goatee is lit outside its outlet in Yangon, Myanmar. The end of most U.S. sanctions against Myanmar is raising hopes western businesses will join the rush to invest in Myanmar that up to now has been dominated by China and other Asian countries. But much hinges on how the government, led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, reshapes the country’s outdated laws and other policies. (AP Photo/Elaine Kurtenbach)

 

Here it is critical to acknowledge that empire’s strategic plans for expansion are designed years and even decades in advance. Consider that the co-founder of Avaaz Ricken Patel has been involved in Burmese activism since 2001 – 6 years prior to the founding of Avaaz – and also prior to co-founding Res Publica (a founding NGO of Avaaz) with Avaaz co-founder and former U.S. Representative Tom Perriello:

“…I have worked for years in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Sudan, and Afghanistan for international organizations, and I first got involved in Burma activism in 2001, so I had some experience to bring to understand the dynamics and the groups involved.

 

From the start, we recognized that granting money well, monitoring its expenditure, and following up is a demanding activity that requires professional support. Avaaz is a campaigning organization and not in this business. So we chose a foundation partner with long experience supporting the Burmese people to advise and administer our community’s donation. That group is the Open Society Institute, one of the largest and most respected foundations in the world. OSI is taking no overhead on the funds we are granting to Burmese groups, and has also increased its own support to this cause in 2008.” [Source]

It is also vital to recall George Soros (a key financial backer of Avaaz at its inception) has long had his eye on Myanmar.  The 2003 Council of Foreign Relation’s report titled “Burma: Time For Change,” (“Report of an Independent Task Force Sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations”) summarized the intentions: “[T]hese recommendations are intended to inform U.S. government actions as well as to increase U.S. cooperation with other countries, especially in Asia, to bring about a long overdue political, economic, and social transformation of Burma.” The independent task force sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations included 21 task force members (inclusive of George Soros) who were representative/associates of the following organizations, corporations and institutions:  Human Rights Watch, Goldwyn International Strategies (an international consulting firm focusing on the geopolitics of energy), the Unocal Corporation (oil and gas), liaisons for Vanity Fair, New York Times, New Republic, U.S News, World Report, The Economist,  the Open Society Institute and the Soros Foundations Network, Soros Fund Management, the World Bank, Amnesty International, National Security Council, the Millennium Development Goals, Psychiatry and Public Health, Refugee NGOs, and National Democratic Institute for International Affairs.

The seven organizations/institutions represented by eight task force observers were The Century Foundation, The Asia Foundation, U.S. Department of State, Council on Foreign Relations, U.S. House of Representatives, International Crisis Group and the United Nations Department of Political Affairs.

As a side note, the report also demonstrates the extent to which the international NGOs work hand in glove with imperial states, funneling funds through NGOs rather than governments. This demonstrates the blatant paternalism unabashedly embedded in the policy of Western governments:

“According to the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office, current U.K. policy is to deliver “targeted, transparent, and accountable assistance to ordinary Burmese people through the UN, international NGOs, and not through the Burmese authorities,” — The Council of Foreign Relation’s (CFR) 2003 document entitled “Burma: Time For Change,” [Source]

And while those in Ivory Towers, who have succeeded in decimating the natural environment in their own countries, transform Myanmar into a country that will reflect not only Western values but also the vapid western waste and consumption… and while rich expats rent apartments for USD $3,000 – $8,000 per month… consider the residents of 555:

“Like many others, he moved to Yangon to look for work in the sprawling shantytowns that have grown up on the outskirts of the city. The suburbs are centers of industries that have begun to boom since Myanmar opened to the world in 2011. Factories cordoned off behind iron gates produce everything from salt to garments. But with a new government in power since April, the 555 residents are among hundreds of thousands of informal settlers facing an uncertain future as displacement looms on the horizon again.

 

Nay Shwe moved to Hlaing Tharyar in 1996 as a construction worker employed to build the upmarket Pun Hlaing Golf Course — a gleaming image of wealth right next door to the slums. He rifled through a plastic wallet to pull out a crumpled, yellowed letter granting permission for himself and several other laborers to live near the grounds. At the time, there was little more than vacant scrubland. “We have endured hardships since that time until now,” he says. “We had to pump much sand from the river to live here.” Subsequent years brought tussles over the land. In 2012, he spent six months in prison for organizing protests against a planned forced eviction that was eventually suspended…

 

“When we describe the slums we always describe the negative things,” says Slingsby. “We never look at the positive things. These people are great survivors. … Somehow they manage to survive. Somehow a lot of them send their children to school and even to university. Who built the houses? The people built houses themselves.”

 

When their kids were turned away from the official schools, the 555 residents simply built their own. They recruited their own volunteer teachers. On a recent morning, a group of village elders, all men, stood outside and admired their handiwork. Like most of the structures in the area, the single-story school is propped up on wooden stilts to protect it from the rising water.

 

“So flooding is a problem here, but we can build a concrete road, so flooding for two or three hours is OK for us,” says Hla Htay. 555 might not exist, officially, and it might not be good land, but it is home.

 

“We prefer living here because it is the nearest place to our work, to the factories, so here we can build everything by ourselves,” he says. “We can build our houses. If we need to move somewhere provided by the government it will be expensive. … It will be a lot of rules.” [July 18, 2016, Evicting the Residents of 555]

The word Avaaz apparently translates to “voice”. Unfortunately, Avaaz is a voice for the elite power structures that keep the world at large enslaved. Avaaz is a slap in the face to the self-determination of citizens in sovereign countries everywhere. It must be recognized that those who continue to support this organization, with full knowledge of its elite formation, share these paternalistic Western values.

 

 

Further reading:

  • China Kunming to Myanmar Kyaukpyu DWP pipelines to open in June 2013, January 23, 2013
  • Myanmar, la Cina assetata di petrolio costruisce un porto e un gasdotto: in fuga migliaia di pescatori locali e 23 villaggi fantasma, February 5, 2015
  • Geopolitics of Rohingya Crisis, September 3, 2017
  • The Rohingya Crisis: Conflict Scenarios And Reconciliation Proposals, September 7, 2017

 

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

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

Investigation: White Helmets Committing Acts Of Terror Across Syria

 

The White Helmets: Who are they, who created them, and what purpose do they serve in Syria? These questions remain largely unanswered by the governments, corporate media and NATO-aligned NGOs, including the UN, that have focused their efforts on regime change in Syria for the last seven years.

The White Helmets have achieved an almost cult-like status thanks to a diverse, well-oiled and multilaterally-funded support system. Their pictures adorn the front pages of most corporate media sites whenever Syria is mentioned. Their unprecedented success can be attributed to a top-drawer PR campaign — one that has been maintained to the highest standards ever since the White Helmets became the public face of “first responders” in Syria following their establishment in March 2013.

Such a publicity coup would not have been possible without some heavyweight organizations working behind the scenes to create a brand that would eclipse all others in Western public perception.

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For the last three years I have been conducting an ongoing investigation into the White Helmets, the much vaunted, so-called Syrian humanitarian NGO that has recently achieved Hollywood fame — winning an Oscar, which was awarded to a Netflix documentary showcasing White Helmet exploits in Syria. This investigation culminated in visits I paid to Syria to expand my enquiries and research on the ground inside the country. I have spent a total of four months in Syria since July 2016, my latest trip having taken place from July to August 2017.

In Part One of this series of reports, I will outline the genesis of the White Helmets, as well as their fabrication and evolution into one of the most widely-recognized “humanitarian” organizations the world has ever known.

The White Helmet motto. (Photo: White Helmet website)

The White Helmet motto. (Photo: White Helmet website)

 

Who are the White Helmets?

According to the White Helmets own website:

1: A “neutral, impartial, humanitarian NGO, with no official affiliation to any political or military actor and a commitment to render services to any in need regardless of sect or political affiliation.”

2: Their motto is “To save one life is to save all humanity;” making them non-sectarian, neutral, and operating without bias.

3: They are unarmed.

4: They have saved 90,000 lives since they began working in Syria (from the end of 2013 to early 2014).

5: They are Syrian and the impression is given that the White Helmets are the primary, if not the only, U.S.A.R. (Urban Search and Rescue) organization operating inside Syria.

My in-depth investigation into the legitimacy of these claims has uncovered some very disturbing anomalies that have never been identified or confronted by the mainstream media in the U.K., EU or U.S., with some very minor exceptions. Those “exceptions” address issues surrounding the White Helmets only in order to flip the narrative back to the “savior” concept and to discredit any criticism of the group as Russian propaganda. Why have these crucial and questionable aspects of the White Helmet construct never been professionally and objectively addressed by the corporate media?

A multi-million-dollar-funded organization largely financed by taxpayer money should come under intense scrutiny when the evidence against its bona fides is mounting on a daily basis.

I will now relate my findings, but I must emphasize that I am far from being alone in raising the following concerns. Many of my colleagues in independent media, peace activists and genuinely non-governmental NGOs, fostering diplomatic resolution to the Syrian conflict, have conducted their own analyses and arrived at the very same conclusions or raised the same questions.

White Helmets funding sources

The White Helmets receive funding from the U.K. Foreign Office, curiously through the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF)for non-humanitarian aid.  According to a statement made by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, “…the total value of funds committed between June 2013 and the end of the current financial year (31 March 2016) is £19.7m.” At the end of September 2016, U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson pledged a further £ 32 million.

A recent investigation into the U.K. Foreign Office’s Conflict Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) has exposed one unexpected funding stream that has allowed money from that £1 billion U.K. taxpayer-contributory, conflict slush fund to be siphoned into promotional activities for the White Helmets, via U.K. Foreign Office ex-employee and diplomat Carne Ross.

In 2004, Ross established Independent Diplomat in the U.S. after successfully portraying himself as a whistleblower on the propaganda that facilitated the Iraq war. Ross was even featured in John Pilger’s documentary “The War You Don’t See.”

Carne Ross, founder of Independent Diplomat. (Photo: Alchetron)

Carne Ross, founder of Independent Diplomat. (Photo: Alchetron)

During the investigation, I was sent the Independent Diplomat FARA (Foreign Agents Registration Act) submissions, which must be filled out annually for monitoring if an organization receives funds from a foreign government. In the period from 2013 through 2016, Independent Diplomat received £ 3.7 million, the majority of which was from the CSSF.

According to its website, Independent Diplomat “work[s] with groups and individuals representing more than 200 Syrian-led civil society groups based inside and outside Syria.”

Independent Diplomat’s use of the CSSF fund for lobbying on behalf of Syrian “opposition” actors was corroborated by a report in the Independent (U.K.):

The Conflict, Stability and Security Fund, known as Conflict Pool until April 2015, paid American diplomacy start-up Independent Diplomat $1.4 million in the last 18 months to lobby the U.S. State Department on behalf of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces.

A Foreign Office spokesperson said in an email:

The U.K. has spent over five million pounds [$6.5 million] since the start of the conflict supporting the Syrian opposition. This includes providing negotiation and communication support along with advice and training to staff at their international offices.”

In September 2016, Independent Diplomat used a percentage of the funding received to organize a promotional speaking tour — “This is Aleppo, an Inside View of Besieged Syria” — for White Helmets leader Raed Saleh, as well as the Syria Program Manager at Mayday Rescue, Farouq al Habib. Saleh’s deportation from the U.S. for his  “extremist connections” is discussed later in this report.

Watch Vanessa Beeley speaks with U.K. Column about the U.K. Foreign Office promoting extremism:

Despite repeatedly claiming to be an independent organization — one that does not take money from governments and is impartial in the Syrian conflict — the White Helmets also received a disclosed $23 million in funding from the U.S. administration under President Barack Obama via its USAID/Chemonics networks. This support was openly admitted by Mark Toner of the U.S. State Department during a press briefing held in April 2016, and confirmed by the White Helmet website:

Since 2014, the work of Syria Civil Defence has been supported by Mayday Rescue and Chemonics, who implement international aid programmes providing training and equipment, advocacy and outreach, and organizational capacity building.”

Interestingly, the original video of the Mark Toner press briefing has been removed by YouTube. However, another copy of the video can be found here on Vimeo.

Watch the State Department’s Mark Toner admit that the U.S. provided the White Helmets with $23M and that the WH leader, Raed Saleh, is tied to extremists:

Raed Saleh is the leader of the White Helmets. Saleh is from Jisr Al Shugour, a town close to the Turkish border, and claims he was originally an electronics salesman. As early as 2011, Jisr Al Shughour was one of the first towns in Idlib to fall to the extremist groups. One of the many terrorist atrocities of this conflict was committed in June 2011 when Syrian Arab Army soldiers and civilians were massacred by the invading militant forces. Later in this report, we examine the reasons behind Saleh’s deportation from the U.S. and his clear links to Nusra Front affiliates inside Syria.

A look at various other EU government websites and media reveals that Holland has also funded the White Helmets to the tune of $4.5 million; Germany $4.5 million; Denmark $3.2 million; and Japan an undisclosed sum.  The White Helmets also receive equipment and supplies from various EU member states, including France.

As Abdulrahman Al-Mawwas, the chief liaison officer of the White Helmets, told RT after a recent meeting with top French officials including President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls: “We do not hide it, we admit [that] there is funding from the U.S., from the U.K., from Germany, from the Netherlands.” Al-Mawwas also said that “support” from Western powers includes providing the White Helmets with “equipment… vehicles, as well as search and rescue [aid].”

There is reason to believe that the EU funding of the White Helmets is concealed behind the generic heading of “Emergency Health and Relief Support to the Population Affected by the Crisis in Syria,” through the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG-ECHO), formerly known as the European Community Humanitarian Aid Office.

More recently, Qatar has also confirmed funding of the White Helmets, via its own Fund for Development in collaboration with Qatar Red Crescent. Qatar is known to be funding many of the extremist factions that have been operating inside Syria for the last seven years, including Nusra Front, Ahrar Al Sham, Nour Al Din Zinki, and many of their splinter factions, brutally facilitating the U.S. coalition objectives of destabilizing an independent sovereign nation and bringing about outright regime change – or rather, the establishment of a puppet regime, compliant with U.S. coalition supremacist ambitions in the region.

French president Francois Hollande, left, shakes hands with Rahed Saleh, director of Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets, after their meeting with a Syria delegation at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, Wednesday Oct. 19, 2016. (AP/Francois Mori)

French president Francois Hollande, left, shakes hands with Rahed Saleh, director of Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets, after their meeting with a Syria delegation at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, Wednesday Oct. 19, 2016. (AP/Francois Mori)

 

It is also worth noting that Qatar Red Crescent’s role, early on in the conflict, involved the procurement of $2.2 million to secure arms for extremist groups fighting in Syria:

Mosab Obeidat, previous Assistant Chief of Mission with the Qatar Red Crescent, one of whose officials, Khaled Diab was accused of supplying $ 2.2 m to secure arms for the terrorist groups in Syria. Details of this transaction and its exposure can be found in this Al Akhbar article from June 2013.” – White Helmets: War by Way of Deception Part I

Mayday Rescue was established in the Netherlands in 2014, after the creation of the White Helmets in March 2013. Its primary function appears to be as an intermediary “not for profit,” set up as a conduit to receive and transfer funds to the White Helmets. Mosab Obeidat, mentioned above, was among the early staff members, but all details regarding staff on the Mayday website have since been removed. Mayday “donors” are listed on their website and include the U.K. CSSF, Germany, Netherlands and Denmark.

An early video made in collaboration with Hands Off Syria shows the evolution of the White Helmets into the icon they have since become in Western media and among NATO-aligned NGOs.

The White Helmets receive considerable public funding, via their “Hero Fund,” orchestrated once more by their tireless PR machine, led by the Syria Campaign. The Syria Campaign, itself, was given seed funding by Petrofac CEO Ayman Asfari. Asfari has his own agenda in Syria, not least his oil interests, as well as connections to the U.K. government. Asfari was also exposed as having donated generously to the Tories under Theresa May.

Infographic demonstrating the Ayman Asfari connections to Syrian and British oil interests, combined with his funding of the Syria Campaign, which manages PR for the White Helmets. (By Vanessa Beeley)

Infographic demonstrating the Ayman Asfari connections to Syrian and British oil interests, combined with his funding of the Syria Campaign, which manages PR for the White Helmets. (Credit: Vanessa Beeley)

 

Oil executives, whose industry is promised further government support if the Conservatives are returned to power, have given more than £390,000 to the party since Theresa May became prime minister.

They include Ian Taylor, the chief executive of Vitol, whose firm was fined for making payments to an Iraqi state-owned firm, as well as Ayman Asfari, the chief executive of Petrofac, who was recently interviewed by the Serious Fraud Office over suspected corruption.

In October 2016, New Zealand’s government announced that their Fire Service would provide training support to the White Helmets. Foreign minister Murray McCully and Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne expressed their admiration for the group, with the standard, PR textbook platitudes:

The Syrian Civil Defence Organisation, known as the White Helmets, have helped save thousands of people affected by the ongoing violence in Syria. New Zealand has agreed to provide assistance with training to the White Helmets and this practical initiative sits alongside the work we are doing on the UN Security Council to improve the humanitarian situation in Syria and to push for an end to the conflict.”

Finally, we have the creation of the Jo Cox fund in June 2016. Jo Cox, an ambitious Labour MP who had fervently lobbied the U.K. Parliament for further British intervention in Syria, was murdered in the U.K. on June 16, 2016. A right wing “terrorist,” Thomas Mair, was sentenced to life imprisonment for her murder. One of Jo Cox’s causes in Syria had been the White Helmets.  According to the fundraising website, £1.5 million has been raised to be distributed between the three nominated causes, including the White Helmets:

A hideous murder of a rising star in U.K. politics, Jo Cox MP, has just sent shock waves across the world. Within hours of her death, a special fund was established in her name to raise money for three causes. One of those causes is the Syrian White Helmets.” ~ Who Are Syria’s White Helmets?

All governments and government-linked entities funding the White Helmets have publicly declared an interest in, or have been working towards, the removal of the internationally recognized Syrian government and its democratically elected President, Bashar Al Assad — thus effecting “regime change” in Syria. This fact alone must surely compromise the proclaimed neutrality of the group.

Screenshot from video (below) showing the White Helmets clearly affiliating themselves with the mythical “moderate” FSA (Free Syrian Army) that co-exists with Nusra Front and a variety of extremist groups.

Screenshot from video (below) showing the White Helmets clearly affiliating themselves with the mythical “moderate” FSA (Free Syrian Army) that co-exists with Nusra Front and a variety of extremist groups.

 

However, the White Helmets continue to claim that they are a “neutral and impartial organization. We do not to pledge allegiance to any political party or group. We serve all the people of Syria – we are from the people and we for [sic] the people.”

In this promotional video for the CIA- and NATO-funded and armed Free Syrian Army (FSA), an image of one of these “impartial” White Helmet rescuers appears, alongside other Syrian professionals who affiliate themselves with the primarily U.S. coalition-endorsed, -funded and -armed “moderate rebel” FSA. Near universal consensus now accepts that the FSA is an expired myth.

Early on in the U.S. coalition’s fomenting, funding and marketing of the Syrian “uprising,” the FSA was absorbed into the ranks of the better-funded extremist groups, such as the Nusra Front (al-Qaeda in Syria), whose weapons capability far outstripped the lesser FSA armory. The FSA have become nothing more than a tool of the more powerful Nusra Front, al-Qaeda in Syria.

While the U.S. has been a major contributor via its USAID/Chemonics program, it is secondary to the U.K. Foreign Office, which has been the primary source of funding and training for this White Helmet NATO-state construct. Inserted into Syrian society three years after the start of the proxy war that has been waged against a sovereign nation by the U.S.-led coalition for almost seven years, the White Helmets are a thoroughly British affair.

The White Helmets were established in Turkey, not in Syria.  They are largely trained in Turkey and Jordan, not inside Syria. They were established in March 2013 by a British ex-military officer, James Le Mesurier, with $300,000 in seed funding from Japan, the U.K. and the U.S.

Exclusively embedded with al-Qaeda and extremist factions

Screenshot from a video of ISIS kidnap victim John Cantile, filmed in Aleppo in 2014 and 2015.

Screenshot from a video of ISIS kidnap victim John Cantile, filmed in Aleppo in 2014 and 2015.

 

The White Helmets are embedded exclusively in areas of Syria occupied by known terrorist organizations, including Nusra Front and ISIS (Daesh), along with so-called “moderate rebels” such as Ahrar al Sham and Nour Al Din Zinki.  All these groups and subgroups are responsible for carrying out ethnic cleansing pogroms and documented atrocities against the Syrian people.

Nour Al Din Zinki recorded themselves on camera torturing and beheading 12-year-old Palestinian child Abdullah Issa in July 2016. Like the White Helmets, the majority of these armed groups receive funding, training, equipment, weapons and support from the United States and its coalition partners, particularly the Gulf states — a fact that is also extensively documented.

The White Helmets push for sectarianism

During the situation in Madaya, Syria in January 2016, the White Helmets in Idlib were photographed attending demonstrations and carrying banners that were calling for the “burning and destruction” of the towns of Kafarya and Foua.

White Helmets carrying posters calling for burning of Kafarya and Foua and corresponding Facebook post by the White Helmet's Abdul Halim Al Shehab demanding Kafarya is “exterminated," January, 2016. (Credit: Vanessa Beeley)

White Helmets carrying posters calling for burning of Kafarya and Foua and corresponding Facebook post by the White Helmet’s Abdul Halim Al Shehab demanding Kafarya is “exterminated,” January, 2016. (Credit: Vanessa Beeley)

 

Kafarya and Foua are two Idlib villages under full siege by Jaish al Fatah (Army of Conquest), which is a coalition of Ahrar Al Sham and Nusra Front. These villages have been under full siege since March 2015. The siege ensures the starvation of villagers, as well as the deprivation of water, medicines and medical treatment. Daily shelling and sniping by Ahrar Al Sham and Nusra Front have killed over 1300 civilians inside the villages so far.

If we include civilians who have been killed outside the villages during the evacuations, such as Rashideen, we have lost almost 2000 members of our families and relatives as a result of the terrorist siege and conflict” – Dr Ali Moustafa, head surgeon in Foua.

The suffering of these two Shia Muslim villages — marooned in the midst of Nusra Front-led, terrorist-occupied Idlib — is indescribable. The White Helmets’ call for the extermination and burning of these villages is a murderous and deeply sectarian act and could not be further from their lofty claims of “neutrality.” This video details some of the horrific acts to which these villages have been subjected, taken from the “Tale of Two Villages” Facebook page:

Watch the horror visited upon the Idlib villages of Kafarya and Foua:

The White Helmets also played a crucial role in supporting Nusra Front during the Rashideen massacre on April 15, 2017. Evacuees from besieged Kafarya and Foua were imprisoned in their buses for two days, with minimal food or water. On the third day, the children were lured from the buses by Nusra Front and White Helmets distributing potato chips. As the children surged towards the food, a blue truck drove into the crowds of children and a bomb inside the truck was detonated, killing and injuring over 300.

Infamous ex-White Helmet Muawiya Hassan Agha was present at Rashideen when the massacre was carried out. He is known for his involvement in the execution of two SAA prisoners of war in Khan Touman, Aleppo, Syria, May, 2016.

 

Infamous ex-White Helmet Muawiya Hassan Agha was present at Rashideen when the massacre was carried out. He is known for his involvement in the execution of two SAA prisoners of war in Khan Touman, Aleppo, Syria, May, 2016.

Infamous ex-White Helmet Muawiya Hassan Agha was present at Rashideen when the massacre was carried out. He is known for his involvement in the execution of two SAA prisoners of war in Khan Touman, Aleppo in May 2016

I was in Aleppo one day after this tragedy and was able to speak with survivors and mothers whose children had been abducted and taken to Turkey by White Helmet operatives and Nusra Front terrorists. A total of 114 are still missing, the majority being children. I also returned to Aleppo in July 2017 to interview survivors and families of the missing, who identified Agha as having been at the scene prior to and immediately after the suicide bomb attack.

Participation in Nusra Front brutality

There is video and photographic evidence available that clearly shows the White Helmets participating in Nusra Front operations in areas occupied or taken over by this organization. The video linked above was taken during the Nusra Front’s violent and brutal attack on Idlib in March 2015. In this video, White Helmet operatives are seen clearly beating a Syrian civilian prisoner of Nusra Front and circling the prisoner, mingling with heavily armed and hostile Nusra Front militia.

It is worth mentioning that YouTube has made a recent censorship sweep and has removed many of the incriminating videos involving the White Helmets working hand-in-hand with al-Qaeda in Syria — including the video above, which is, mysteriously, no longer available on YouTube.

Another video shows the White Helmet operatives, including Muawiya Hassan Agha, celebrating “victory” with Nusra Front in the main square of Idlib.

There have been at least four recorded executions that involved the White Helmets:

1: May 6, 2015 — Aleppo

Execution attended by White Helmets, where they performed a mop-up operation for Nusra Front fighters in Haritan, North Aleppo, Syria, May, 2015. (Image: Vanessa Beeley)

Execution attended by White Helmets, where they performed a mop-up operation for Nusra Front fighters in Haritan, North Aleppo, Syria, May, 2015. (Image: Vanessa Beeley)

 

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

James Le Mesurier, White Helmet trainer and founder of Mayday Rescue, has recently responded to accusations surrounding this incident:

But what about the damning video, from May 6, 2015? White Helmet volunteers were caught on tape running in to clear a body seconds after a gunman executed a man. It turns out that the deceased was tried and sentenced to death in a local Sharia court, said Mr. Mesurier. When his father found out about the time of execution, he called the White Helmets to help him conduct a proper burial. Besides, the gunman was clad in a balaclava, not a white helmet.” – Middle Ground

Curiously, Le Mesurier deems a trial in an extremist Sharia court and extrajudicial execution to be acceptable — an example that has been strongly followed by the White Helmets in their subsequent participation in Sharia court sentencing and execution.

2: May 2016 — Aleppo

Muawiya Hassan Agha takes a selfie with two captured and condemned SAA soldiers who were later publicly tortured and executed. Agha posted related footage to his Facebook page that was later deleted.

Muawiya Hassan Agha takes a selfie with two captured and condemned SAA soldiers who were later publicly tortured and executed. Agha posted related footage to his Facebook page that was later deleted.

 

Various other White Helmet operatives have posted videos of the torture and execution of Syrian Arab Army prisoners to their social media pages with celebratory comments.  One such operative, Muawiya Hassan Agha, is alleged to have been “sacked” from the White Helmets for his participation in a public execution of two Syrian Arab Army prisoners of war in Khan Touman, south Aleppo in May 2016. It goes without saying that this execution is a clear violation of all ethics surrounding an allegedly “impartial” NGO.

Watch the execution of two SAA prisoners of war in Khan Touman (Warning: graphic content):

 

However, despite several requests, an official statement has never been issued by the White Helmets. Nor have they publicly condemned the torture and execution of prisoners of war, an act that contravenes the Geneva Convention.  Within three weeks of his alleged sacking, Agha appeared in White Helmet photographs as one of their photographers.

In June 2016, Muawiya Hassan Agha was spotted photographing a White Helmet rescue, despite claims that the White Helmets had sacked him and condemned his involvement in an extrajudicial execution. Agha is on right, holding a camera and dressed in black. (Screenshot of Facebook page)

In June 2016, Muawiya Hassan Agha was spotted photographing a White Helmet rescue, despite claims that the White Helmets had sacked him and condemned his involvement in an extrajudicial execution. Agha is on right, holding a camera and dressed in black. (Screenshot of Facebook page)

3: May 19, 2017 — Dara’a

In the previously cited Middle Ground article, James Le Mesurier, a military veteran and the White Helmets’ trainer, is cited as having employed an extraordinary analogy to counter accusations of White Helmets attending and participating in Sharia court executions:

Accusing the White Helmets of this act would be akin to accusing Joseph of Arimathea of crucifying Jesus.”

Joseph of Arimathea is claimed, in history, to be the disciple who prepared the body of Jesus Christ for burial. This cynical use of blasphemy to cleanse the White Helmets of their multitude of sins backfired royally, as footage of the “saviors of all mankind” cheering a brutal, extremist execution later appeared on social media.

This execution took place in the town of Jasim, Dara’a, south of Damascus. The White Helmets are seen not only celebrating the grisly murder but performing their usual mop-up by unceremoniously carting away the body from the scene. Their later claims of giving the body a decent burial and affording the victim some dignity are rendered ridiculous when one views the video below.

Watch the White Helmets cheering during extremist execution:

4: June 21, 2017 — Dara’a

A video was released that showed a member of the White Helmets’ Dara’a “team” climbing over the slaughtered and dismembered bodies of Syrian Arab Army soldiers piled into the back of a pick-up truck. As the White Helmet operative stands on the mutilated bodies, extremist fighters surrounding the truck, parade a severed head as a war trophy. There is no shock or dismay from the ‘heroic’ White Helmet. On the contrary, he is then seen extracting the Syrian flag from among the SAA bodies, before throwing it to the ground.

 

I was told that the original video was much longer and contained scenes of a much more humiliating nature that would distress the families of the SAA soldiers whose bodies were being so hideously desecrated. The original video was aired by RT and can be viewed here. It is certainly one of the worst videos I have ever had to watch so please be warned. The following are screenshots from the video that demonstrate the appalling nature of this atrocity being committed by the White Helmets and extremist factions, once again, working hand in hand in Syria.”  – Severed Heads of Syrian Arab Army Soldiers Paraded as Trophies

Screenshots of the execution and dismemberment of SAA prisoners of war, with a White Helmets operative in attendance and assisting extremist factions.

Screenshots of the execution and dismemberment of SAA prisoners of war, with a White Helmets operative in attendance and assisting extremist factions.

The White Helmets did try to distance themselves, again, from their participation in this brutal dismemberment of the bodies of captured SAA soldiers. They issued a statement claiming to have “sacked” the offending operative. According to the statement, the “volunteer’s behavior constitutes a gross breach of conduct.”

The White Helmets are a publicly-funded organization via their fundraising activities. They also benefit from government funding schemes that depend upon taxpayer contributions. Where is the investigation into an organization whose members frequently ‘breach’ not only the White Helmet “code of conduct” but also contravene every international code of humanitarian law during war?

Watch the White Helmets and Southern Front extremists pile SAA bodies into trucks:

Deportation for “extremist connections”

The leader of the White Helmets, Raed Saleh, was deported from Dulles Airport in the U.S. in April 2016.  No real explanation was ever given for this decision. Mark Toner of the U.S. State Department fielded questions from media during a press briefing, but did admit to funding the group to the tune of $23 million, as well as suggest that Raed Saleh might have “extremist connections.”  Raed Saleh was then allowed back into the U.S. in September 2016 and spoke at the UN Headquarters in New York with the Dutch Mission. Saleh was involved in closed sessions with Syrian activists and former Secretary of State John Kerry, as noted by The New York Times.

In leaked conversations, Raed Saleh and another Syrian “regime change” activist and blogger, Marcell Shehwaro, lobbied hard for U.S. military intervention to bring about their desired regime change. The White Helmets’ penchant for political statements and lobbying calls into question their claims of being an apolitical, humanitarian-centric organization. Their conversation can be heard here:

Their conversation can be heard here:

White Helmet leaders: terrorist connections and ideology

Raed Saleh photographed with Mustafa Al Haj Yussef, a White Helmets leader, in Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib. (Photo: Facebook)

Raed Saleh photographed with Mustafa Al Haj Yussef, a White Helmets leader, in Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib. (Photo: Facebook)

Raed Saleh, the leader and global representative of the White Helmets, is a close colleague of another White Helmets leader: Mustafa Al Haj Yussef. Yussef has been with the group since 2013 and has been photographed in Idlib with Raed Saleh. Yussef’s social media accounts reveal the following:

1: Yussef has called for the unity of extremist factions such as Nusra Front and Ahrar al Sham.

2: Yussef has clearly professed allegiance and support for Ahrar Al Sham, which was responsible for the massacres in the Alawite village of Al Zaraa in May 2016.

3: Yussef publicly called for the shelling of civilians in Damascus during the 2014 elections.

4: Yussef has advocated the practice of executing civilians during Ramadan if they fail to fast.

5: Yussef endorses the looting of SAA houses after their capture or summary execution.

If the head of the Red Cross were to commit such ethical breaches, we would surely be calling for a full investigation. The White Helmets are seemingly given immunity against investigation into their extremist misconduct and violations of the Geneva Convention regarding treatment of prisoners of war.

Syria’s REAL civil defence volunteers

Real Syria Civil Defence crew member in Lattakia, Syria, August 2017. (Photo: Facebook)

Real Syria Civil Defence crew member in Lattakia, Syria, August 2017. (Photo: Facebook)

The White Helmets are also erroneously referred to as the “Syria Civil Defence.” However, this name truthfully refers to an organization that has existed in Syria since 1953.  I met with the group’s members in Aleppo, Lattakia, Tartous and Damascus during my extensive time in Syria.  The REAL Syria Civil Defence (RSCD) were founder members of the ICDO [International Civil Defence organization], which is affiliated with the UN, WHO, OCHA, the Red Cross and Red Crescent.

The REAL Syria Civil Defence are still paying subscriptions to the ICDO totaling 20,000 Swiss francs annually.  The group operated in both government- and armed militia-held areas until 2016, when it was decided that they should work only in government-held areas due to safety concerns, as armed groups were deliberately targeting their crew members during rescue missions in occupied areas.

Map showing areas controlled by the Syrian government, as well as NATO and Gulf state-funded extremist and terrorist factions. (Photo: 21WIRE)

Map showing areas controlled by the Syrian government, as well as NATO and Gulf state-funded extremist and terrorist factions. (Photo: 21WIRE)

The REAL Syria Civil Defence, while working predominantly in government-held areas, is nevertheless serving 80 percent of the Syrian population, including over six million internally displaced people who have fled to government-held towns and cities.

Fares Shehabi, a member of Syria’s parliament from Aleppo and head of the city’s Chamber of Commerce, had the following message for the West regarding the authentic Syria Civil Defence:

When the White Helmets were making a concerted bid to win the Nobel Peace Prize last year, supported almost universally by mainstream media in the U.K., the Internet link to the RSCD at the ICDO was mysteriously re-routed to the White Helmets. I called the ICDO in Geneva and spoke with their representative, who assured me that it was an administrative error. During our conversation, the following statements were made by this representative:

1: The White Helmets are not recognized by the ICDO and are not members of the ICDO.

2: The White Helmets are not even “concretely” a civil defense organization.

3: The White Helmets are the “wrong” civil defense group.

4: The only civil defense group recognized by the ICDO and the UN is the “official” Syria Civil Defence.

Listen to the full audio recording of the conversation here:

Western public perception has been deceived into believing the White Helmets are the only Syrian civil defense group, thus “disappearing” over 4,000 REAL Syria Civil Defence workers who risk their lives on a daily basis to rescue Syrian civilians under attack from the various terrorist factions that have invaded Syria. The NATO and Gulf state White Helmets project is shadow-state construction of the highest calibre.

Syrian civilian testimony to the White Helmets’ barbarism

During my August 2016 interviews with the REAL Syria Civil Defence,  I was informed that the Nusra Front and associated “moderate rebels” who invaded areas such as east Aleppo, Raqqa, Deir Ezzor and Idlib had massacred members of the REAL Syria Civil Defence and stolen the majority of their equipment in those areas, including fire engines and ambulances.

Many of these armed groups later became operatives for the White Helmets. Testimony from the REAL Syria Civil Defence has suggested that the White Helmets are acting as support for Nusra Front, ISIS and other heavily armed militia described as “moderate rebels.”

In August 2016, I conducted a short video interview with Dr. Bassem Hayak of the Aleppo Medical Association, which is based in west Aleppo. Dr. Hayak told me that his family, trapped in east Aleppo, had never seen the White Helmets, adding that UN agencies still operating in east Aleppo, such as the SARC (Syrian Arab Red Crescent), had not encountered the White Helmets either.

In December 2016, I was in east Aleppo when the SAA and its allies liberated the area from Nusra Front-dominated terrorist and extremist occupation. I was able to interview SARC volunteers who also denied having ever encountered the White Helmets during their time working in these districts of Aleppo.

This testimony was further confirmed by the civilian statements I gathered while in east Aleppo, visiting each district as it was retaken by the SAA.

All of the civilians I spoke to — over 50 people from all districts of east Aleppo — were confused when I asked them if they knew the White Helmets. When I asked if they knew of a civil defense group, their immediate response was “yes, yes Nusra Front civil defense.”

I was told that the White Helmets did not help civilians, that they were a support group for Nusra Front, Ahrar Al Sham and Nour al Din Zinki. Some told me they were thieves, that they would steal from the bodies of the dead. One man told Lizzie Phelan of RT that they killed his infant girl by injecting air into her veins. I was told that no medical treatment was available for civilians during the area’s five-year-long occupation.

A number of these Syrian civilian testimonies regarding the White Helmets were compiled into one video.

Watch Syrian civilians give testimony about the nature and actions of the White Helmets:

Pierre Le Corf, a French national working as an independent humanitarian volunteer in Aleppo, filmed the main White Helmets center in east Aleppo after the White Helmets had abandoned the civilians they had claimed to protect during the almost five-year-long terrorist occupation. They departed east Aleppo in buses that were also used to evacuate an assortment of armed groups, including Nusra Front. These evacuations took place during December 2016 under the Syrian Government Amnesty and Reconciliation agreement, which permitted safe passage for armed fighters to Idlib.

Le Corf’s film shows us that the White Helmet center was integrated into the Nusra Front compound and that this White Helmet center was adorned with a variety of graffiti and flags affirming the White Helmet affiliation to various terrorist groups, but predominantly Nusra Front.

Watch Pierre Le Corf’s film showing deserted White Helmet center’s ties to Nusra Front and other terrorist groups:

The compound incorporating both Nusra Front and the White Helmets was previously a school. It has been common for terrorist and extremist groups to occupy schools and hospitals and to convert them into military bases, Sharia courts, prisons, execution chambers and ammunition depots. This White Helmet center had been previously featured in an Al Jazeera documentary that was released on Aug. 14, 2016. The film described the White Helmets as selfless rescuers and humanitarians:

…this film about the White Helmets is a rare story of humanitarians working tirelessly to protect the people on the ground. It explores why they risk their lives to save strangers…”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this film failed to reveal the close proximity of armed Nusra Front terrorists to the White Helmet center, nor did it explore or even touch upon their close working relationship, as described by the Syrian civilians I interviewed in east Aleppo.Staged rescues, children used as propaganda tools

Staged rescues, children used as propaganda tools

On multiple occasions, the White Helmets have been exposed staging rescue scenes for both photo and video, recycling images of children and incidents from the conflict in Syria to support their narrative, as well as editing video in a way that misrepresents the scene in question and even using fake images.

There are many documented instances of this, but perhaps the most recent and the most disturbing was uncovered by an investigation by SWEDHR (Swedish Doctors for Human Rights) which analyzed a White Helmets video report on the alleged chlorine gas attacks of March 2015. The White Helmets’ video was presented at the UN in another closed-door session initiated by former U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power. This video reportedly “reduced the UN officials to tears.”

Image created from screenshot of White Helmets’ UN video report (Vanessa Beeley)

Image created from screenshot of White Helmets’ UN video report. (Credit: Vanessa Beeley)

The video depicts three naked, lifeless children being treated for chlorine gas inhalation. The youngest child has a hypodermic syringe inserted into his chest and moved around erratically before being withdrawn. It appears as if the child dies on screen.

SWEDHR examined the video from a professional medical and ethical perspective and came to the following conclusions:

1:  “After examination of the video material, I found that the measures inflicted upon those children, some of them lifeless, are bizarre, non-medical, non-lifesaving, and even counterproductive in terms of life-saving purposes of children.” – Dr Leif Elinder

2: “Intracutaneous injection with adrenaline procedure…is not correctly performed and would have resulted in the death of the child, if not already dead.”

3:  SWEDHR concluded that the liquid level in the syringe does not change in the footage — therefore, the child is being injected with the needle for no apparent reason.

4:  “I think that even from the very brief video, we can see that this child has a reduced level of consciousness: he does not vocalize, does not open his eyes, and his only movements are to turn his head to one side and to open his mouth before he stops breathing altogether. This looks like respiratory depression, rather than injury to the lungs; he appears to be too sleepy to breathe.  I think the most likely diagnosis is a drug overdose causing reduced level of consciousness and respiratory depression.  Opiates are the most likely class of drug to cause this. Chlorine causes acute inhalation injury, but does not (in any of the sources I have read) cause reduced level of consciousness: the victim struggles to breathe until the end.”

The implications of these conclusions are horrifying. Did the White Helmets use already dead children as propaganda props? Why has this investigation not been aired by mainstream media?

 

Desecration of Syrian Arab Army bodies

…the amount of dignity that they give to those who lose their lives in Syria also has to be noted” – Joanna Natasegara, Oscar-winning filmmaker responsible for the Netflix documentary on the White Helmets.

Screenshot from video showing White Helmets standing on top of Syrian Arab Army soldiers bodies, whose boots have been stolen or removed.

Screenshot from video showing White Helmets standing on top of Syrian Arab Army soldiers bodies, whose boots have been stolen or removed.

The White Helmets have been filmed describing Syrian Arab Army bodies as “trash” and one particular video shows them standing on a pile of SAA soldiers’ bodies whose boots have been removed or stolen. The White Helmets talk about the bodies in pejorative terms, flashing “V” signs as a truck drives off with the White Helmets still atop the decomposing bodies of Syrian soldiers.

Screenshot from video showing White Helmets standing on top of Syrian Arab Army soldiers bodies, whose boots have been stolen or removed.

Screenshot from video showing White Helmets standing on top of Syrian Arab Army soldiers bodies, whose boots have been stolen or removed.

Despite this evidence to the contrary, the White Helmets and their PR consultants, universally,  maintain the same rhetoric:

When the bombs rain down, the White Helmets rush in. In a place where public services no longer function these unarmed volunteers risk their lives to help anyone in need, regardless of their religion or politics.”  – Saudi Orient News

 

Supposedly unarmed White Helmets are arms-bearing militants

There are many documented and archived images that show White Helmet operatives carrying arms or posing with arms alongside armed militia groups in Syria, including Nusra Front.

Images taken from the Facebook page of White Helmets operative Mohammad Jnued showing him holding the Nusra Front flag.

Images taken from the Facebook page of White Helmets operative Mohammad Jnued showing him holding the Nusra Front flag.

The claim from the White Helmet PR machine, even from James Le Mesurier himself, is that some of the White Helmets are “ex-fighters” who saw the light and reformed, dedicating themselves to a selfless cause and becoming the “saviors of all mankind:”

Yes, a few members of the White Helmets used to be former fighters, but they gave up their guns and now save lives. People change. Just because they did not clear their social media history of pictures and slogans from the time when they took up arms does not mean they are still fighting.” – Interview with James Le Mesurier featured in Middle Ground.

However, the number of images available on White Helmets social media accounts tell a different story. Many of the posts are blatant in their allegiance to the extremist factions that work alongside the White Helmets. Certainly, they are worthy of further investigation in the interest of objective reporting on events inside Syria.

Mo’ad Baresh in his dual role as White Helmets operative and Nusra Front-associated extremist. (Photo: Clarity of Signal/21st Century Wire)

Mo’ad Baresh in his dual role as White Helmets operative and Nusra Front-associated extremist. (Photo: Clarity of Signal/21st Century Wire)

In March 2016, White Helmets operative Mo’ad Baresh was killed fighting against the Syrian Arab Army in a battle for Khan Touman, southern Aleppo. Baresh was no ordinary White Helmets operative, as can be seen from video footage compiled by investigative journalist Khaled Iskef. Baresh was, in reality,  one of the many extremist fighters controlled and dominated by Nusra Front in Aleppo.  Rather than a “former fighter,” Baresh was another in a long line of White Helmets who don a white hat to camouflage their crimes against the Syrian people.

 

The PR machine behind the White Helmets

The adulatory publicity surrounding the White Helmets is the result of a multimillion-dollar marketing and social media campaign conducted through a network that is funded by George Soros and various U.S., U.K. and Middle Eastern enterprises. The PR network is made up of Avaaz, Purpose, Syria Campaign and the White Helmets and is detailed by Cory Morningstar and Rick Sterling in their respective articles:

Mo’ad Baresh in his dual role as White Helmets operative and Nusra Front-associated extremist. (Photo: Clarity of Signal/21st Century Wire)

Mo’ad Baresh in his dual role as White Helmets operative and Nusra Front-associated extremist. (Photo: Clarity of Signal/21st Century Wire)

 

Absence of paramedic and first responder expertise

Analysts have observed that the White Helmets make an average of four or five videos per day, depicting their “heroic rescue efforts.” The REAL Syria Civil Defence have evaluated these videos and cast doubt as to whether the White Helmets are true first responders or urban search and rescue experts.

They have pinpointed various anomalies, including the use of heavy equipment that is unsuitable for finding bodies in collapsed buildings, as well as the improper treatment of the injured. Many of the group’s paramedic procedures have also been deemed questionable. The White Helmets rarely travel without a sizeable camera team or crew of mobile phone cameramen. The Syria Civil Defence do not, as they are under too much pressure to save lives to prioritize their PR campaign.

The following video taken from the White Helmets “collection” is an example of the heavy-handed methods employed by the group when recovering bodies. As I remarked in a previous article, the use of a mechanized digger and sledgehammers in such a fragile environment is inappropriate and life threatening — unless, of course, the White Helmets know in advance exactly where the bodies are located.

A recent Ron Paul Liberty Report interview with former UN Chief Weapons Inspector for Iraq Scott Ritter further exposed the parody that is the White Helmets’ experience, when he discussed their role in the alleged chemical weapons attacks in Khan Sheikhoun in April 2017 — alleged attacks that resulted in President Donald Trump launching 59 Tomahawk missiles into Syrian territory.

Some would say the White Helmets do indeed deserve an Oscar for their acting skills and video production. In November 2016, a video was released showing the White Helmets apparently participating in the “Mannequin Challenge” Internet video trend. However, the veracity of that claim has been questioned by many who believe this video shows the White Helmets at work in the “studio,” producing more of their propaganda.

The White Helmets claim to have saved over 90,000 lives. However, there is no documentation of these lives — no names, no records. With all the logistical and financial support being received by this group, much of it coming directly or indirectly from taxpayer pockets, there should surely be some degree of accountability for their outlandish claims.

In an open letter to the New Democratic Party of Canada, retired Professor John Ryan strongly protested the NDP’s support for the White Helmet Nobel Peace Prize nomination in September 2016. Ryan expressed similar concerns to mine in his letter:

It is the White Helmets themselves who have claimed that they have rescued 60,000 civilians; this has not been verified by any other source. Despite such a classic conflict of interest, searching for independent evidence and disqualifying self-serving claims from belligerent parties in Syria has been ignored in much of the western media. As such, this claim by the White Helmets without any verification is next to meaningless.”

 

Conclusion: who the White Helmets really are, who’s behind them, and what they’re up to

In summary, this evidence points to the White Helmets being a U.S., U.K. and EU creation and not an independent NGO.  It is a multi-million dollar organization funded by governments that are involved and invested in the Syrian conflict. No one can rightly call this a grassroots Syrian organization.

There is an existing Syria Civil Defence that is being ignored by Western media. Running parallel to this group, there is a vast fundraising network constructed to collect money that is funneled into the White Helmets in order to replace the authentic Syria Civil Defence in the minds of the Western public. The real Syria Civil Defence is crippled by U.S. and EU sanctions, while the White Helmets have never been affected by these sanctions — their supply chain via Turkey is unbroken.

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

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

The White Helmets are feeding images of “humanitarian disaster” and “war crimes” to the very same Western nations who are funding them, and to politicians and media outlets who are using these visual narratives with the explicit purpose of lobbying for a U.S./U.K.-proposed no-fly zone in Syria. Recent history teaches us that establishing such a zone carries with it the threat of reducing Syria to a Libya-style “failed state.”

The White Helmets, an allegedly impartial and apolitical organization, is effectively campaigning for an escalation of war in Syria. This alone should disqualify the White Helmets from being described as a humanitarian organization.

One of the funders of the Netflix documentary withdrew considerable funding from the project in October 2016. The Threshold Foundation published a statement regarding the reasoning behind its withdrawal:

We have since learned that the subject of the film (the White Helmets organization) and others involved in this film are advocating for strategies that could entail international military force and escalated violence.”

Full statement from the Threshold Foundation. (Screenshot)

Full statement from the Threshold Foundation. (Screenshot)

In an interview with RT’s Going Underground, eminent filmmaker John Pilger described the White Helmets as “a complete propaganda construct.”

Watch filmmaker John Pilger describing White Helmets’ actual purpose:

Many of the White Helmets campaigns have been discredited as fiction, and yet they are being used by the U.K./U.S. coalition as justification for continuing economic and diplomatic sanctions that are a collective punishment for the Syrian people. Meanwhile, the U.S. coalition persists with equipping and arming the various militia groups on the ground in Syria, including Nusra Front.

This only serves to ensure even more suffering and bloodshed inside Syria and delays the possibility of any real, peaceful resolution. It is incumbent upon us to ensure a full, international enquiry into the White Helmets as a part of any authentic peace process in Syria.

Screenshot from White Helmets “Mannequin Challenge” video.

Screenshot from White Helmets “Mannequin Challenge” video.

A crowd thinks in images, and the image itself calls up a series of other images, having no logical connection with the first…A crowd scarcely distinguishes between the subjective and the objective. It accepts as real the images invoked in its mind, though they most often have only a very distant relation with the observed facts….Crowds being only capable of thinking in images are only to be impressed by images.” – Gustav Le Bon, “The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind

Part Two of this series will further expose the White Helmets’ connections to Nusra Front and their participation in terrorist atrocities across Syria, with a particular focus on east Aleppo. The author will bring to light documents and evidence found inside abandoned White Helmets centers across the various districts of east Aleppo and demonstrate that the White Helmets invariably worked next door to al-Qaeda or even shared facilities and buildings with them.

She will also delve deeper into the funding streams that the group uses, based on the evidence uncovered during her investigation on the ground in Aleppo. Finally, she will dismantle some of their more iconic propaganda campaigns, shown to be based on lies, designed to facilitate NATO and Gulf state military escalation and increased faux-humanitarian intervention in Syria.

 

[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.]

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:

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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.]

Amnesty International Is Weaponizing Human Rights For The U.S., NATO

TeleSUR

August 13, 2017

by Tortilla con Sal

 

Nicaragua’s current Sandinista government has been the most successful ever in reducing poverty and defending the right of all Nicaraguans to a dignified life.

Over the last year, in Latin America, Amnesty International has taken their collusion in support of NATO government foreign policy down to new depths of falsehood and bad faith, attacking Venezuela and, most recently, Nicaragua. The multi-million dollar Western NGO claims, “We are independent of any government, political ideology, economic interest or religion.”

That claim is extremely dishonest. Many of Amnesty International’s board and most of the senior staff in its secretariat, which produces the organization’s reports, are individuals with a deeply ideologically committed background in corporate dominated NGOs like PurposeOpen Society InstituteHuman Rights Watch, and many others.

Mexico has over 36,000 people disappeared and abuses by the security forces are constant. Colombia has over four million internally displaced people with over 53 community activists murdered just in 2017. Amnesty International generally puts that horrific reality in context by including criticism of forces challenging those countries’ authorities. By contrast, its reporting on Venezuela and Nicaragua, like those of other similar Western NGOs, reproduces the false claims of those countries’ minority political opposition forces, all supported one way or another by NATO country governments.

In Venezuela and Nicaragua, Western human rights organizations exaggerate alleged government violations while minimizing abuses and provocations by the opposition. This screenshot of Amnesty International’s three main news items on Venezuela from Aug. 9 gives a fair idea of the organization’s heavily politicized, bad faith coverage of recent events.

This is identical false coverage to that of Western mainstream corporate media and most Western alternative media outlets too. Amnesty International’s coverage minimizes opposition murders of ordinary Venezuelans, setting many people on fire, violent attacks on hospitals, universities and even preschools and innumerable acts of intimidation of the general population. That headline “Venezuela: Lethal violence, a state policy to strangle dissent” is a pernicious lie. President Nicolas Maduro explicitly banned the use of lethal force against opposition demonstrations from the start of the latest phase of the opposition’s long drawn out attempted coup back in early April this year.

Likewise, against Nicaragua, Amnesty’s latest report, kicking off their global campaign to stop Nicaragua’s proposed Interoceanic Canal, also begins with a demonstrable lie: “Nicaragua has pushed ahead with the approval and design of a mega-project that puts the human rights of hundreds of thousands of people at risk, without consultation and in a process shrouded in silence” That claim is completely false. Even prior to September 2015, the international consultants’ impact study found that the government and the HKND company in charge of building the canal had organized consultations with, among others, over 4,000 people from rural communities in addition to 475 people from Indigenous communities along the route of the canal and its subsidiary projects. There has been very extensive media discussion and coverage of the project ever since it was announced.

That extremely prestigious ERM consultants’ Environmental and Social Impact study, which together with associated studies cost well over US$100 million, is publicly available in Spanish and in English. Two years ago, it anticipated all the criticisms made by Amnesty International and was accepted by the Nicaraguan government, leading to a long period of analysis and revision that is still under way. Amnesty International excludes that information. Recently, government spokesperson Telemaco Talavera said the continuing process involves a total of 26 further studies. Until the studies are complete, the government is clearly right to avoid commenting on the proposed canal, because the new studies may radically change the overall project.

Amnesty International states, “According to independent studies of civil society organizations, along the announced route of the canal, approximately 24,100 households (some 119,200 people) in the area will be directly impacted.” But, the ERM study notes, “HKND conducted a census of the population living in the Project Affected Areas. The census determined that approximately 30,000 people (or 7,210 families) would need to be physically or economically displaced.” But Amnesty International’s report omits that contradictory detail, demonstrating how irrationally committed they are to the false propaganda of Nicaragua’s political opposition.

Amnesty International claim their research team interviewed “at least 190 people” concerned about the effects of the canal. By contrast, the Nicaraguan government and the HKND company have discussed the project with around 6,000 people in the areas along the route of the canal. In that regard, even the local church hierarchy has criticized the way the Nicaraguan opposition have manipulated rural families on the issue of the Canal. But that fact too, Amnesty International omits. Their whole report is tailor made to supplement the political opposition’s campaign for U.S. intervention via the notorious NICA Act.

The Nicaraguan government has made an express commitment to a fair and just resolution of the issue of expropriations. Its 2015 report on the canal in the context of its National Development Plan, states: “The Nicaraguan government and HKND will guarantee that persons and families on the route of the canal’s construction will have living conditions superior to those they currently have (without the canal). To that end, the Government of Reconciliation and National Unity, via the Project’s Commission, will guarantee not just a fair and transparent indemnification of their properties, via negotiations and direct agreements with each family affected, but furthermore will promote actions to improve their economic conditions, health care, education, housing and employment.”

But the Amnesty International report systematically excludes that and any other sources giving the government’s point of view, claiming it was unable to access primary sources either from the government itself or from among the canal’s numerous advocates. However, secondary sources abound that categorically contradict Amnesty’s advocacy against the canal. The report specifically and extensively attacks the Law 840, facilitating the construction of the canal and its sub-projects, but cynically omits a fundamental, crucial detail, while also failing completely to give relevant social and economic context.

The crucial detail is that Law 840’s Article 18 specifically states the canal project “cannot require any Government Entity to take any action that violates the Political Constitution of the Republic of Nicaragua or the terms of any international treaty of which the State of the Republic of Nicaragua is a party.” Amnesty International completely omits that absolutely crucial part of Law 840 from their report because it makes redundant their advocacy of opposition claims attacking the equity and legality of the Canal’s legal framework. The same is true of the relevant political, social and economic context.

Nicaragua’s political culture is based on dialogue, consensus, and respect for international law. All the main business organizations in Nicaragua and all the main international financial and humanitarian institutions acknowledge that. President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo enjoy levels of approval of over 70 percent. There is a good reason for that massive majority approval. Among many other factors, the precedents of how the Nicaraguan authorities have resolved the relocation of populations affected by large projects, for example, the Tumarin hydroelectric project, completely contradict the scaremongering of the Nicaraguan opposition propaganda, so glibly recycled by Amnesty International.

Nicaragua’s current Sandinista government has been the most successful ever in reducing poverty and defending the right of all Nicaraguans to a dignified life. To do so, among many other initiatives, it has mobilized record levels of direct foreign investment. In that context, Law 840 explicitly protects the huge potential investments in the proposed canal, while at the same time implicitly guaranteeing constitutional protections. Similarly, ever since the announcement of the canal, Ortega has repeatedly, publicly reassured people in Nicaragua that any families who may eventually be relocated should the canal go ahead will get every necessary help and assistance from the government.

Just as it has done in the case of Venezuela, on Nicaragua, Amnesty International misrepresents the facts, cynically promoting the positions of the country’s right wing political opposition. In Latin America, under cover of phony concern for peoples’ basic rights, in practice Amnesty International, like almost all the big multi-millionaire Western NGOs, gives spurious humanitarian cover to the political agenda of the US and allied country corporate elites and their governments. The destructive, catastrophic effects of Amnesty International’s recent role in the crises affecting Syria, Ukraine and now Venezuela, are living proof of that.

 

[Tortilla con Sal is an anti-imperialist collective based in Nicaragua producing information in various media on national, regional and international affairs. In Nicaragua, we work closely with grass roots community organizations and cooperatives. We strongly support the policies of sovereign national development and regional integration based on peace and solidarity promoted by the member countries of ALBA.]