Category Archives: President Bashar al-Assad

Mobilize and Defend Venezuela

It is new and it is not new, but it is tremendously wicked and deadly – the latest type of coup the US invented and is now applying against Venezuela.

Of course, coups and attempted coups are what could be described as the ‘West’s specialties’, and have been utilized by the U.S., U.K. and other imperialist countries against innumerable unfortunate nations on all continents. In Latin America, basically each and every country has suffered from them, from the Dominican Republic to Chile and Argentina; in Asia, from Indonesia to Thailand, and in the Middle East from Iran to Egypt and Syria. Whenever people of some country dared to vote in the socialists, Communists, anti-colonialists or simply some decent bunch of people who were determined to serve their own population, the West corrupted and deployed local elites and military, overthrew elected or revolutionary governments and installed brutal servile regimes. Thousands died, sometimes millions, but the Empire couldn’t care less; as long as it got its way.

There has been a clear pattern to how the West constructed its terror acts against almost all truly freedom-loving nations.

But what the West is now doing to Venezuela is something else, and totally extreme; the hostile acts against President Maduro and his comrades are stripped of all the scruples and cosmetic “refinements” of the past. They supposed to demonstrate in the cruelest terms who the real ruler of the world is, and who is ‘in charge’. This is ‘Western democracy at its best’!

In the past, the US tried to overthrow Chavez, it attempted to starve Venezuela, to make its medical system collapse, then to assassinate Maduro. It produced a ‘deficit’ of food, even toilet paper. It ordered its lapdogs in Latin America to antagonize the Bolivarian revolution.

Now, in the latest development, the regime in Washington has simply hand-picked its favorite traitor inside the socialist republic of Venezuela – a treasonous cadre named Juan Guaido, (who served, briefly, as President of the National Assembly of Venezuela), “recognizing him” as the “interim President of the country”.

Of course, before Guaido first declared himself, pompously, President of Venezuela, he was almost immediately put into his place by the Venezuela’s Supreme Court, which disavowed him as the chief of the National Assembly. So, let us call him former chief.

But the Western mass media propaganda campaign kicked into top gear, and overnight became utterly unscrupulous. As a result, it is now becoming almost impossible to read any information about the Supreme Court ruling, unless one goes to non-Western sources.

So, let’s go ‘there’. As reported by Iranian Tasnim, on January 22, 2019:

Venezuela’s Supreme Court head Maikel Moreno announced on Monday that the judges had disavowed Juan Guaido as the chief of the opposition-controlled National Assembly.

And the RT, just one day earlier:

Venezuela’s Supreme Court has declared all acts of the country’s National Assembly null and void, days after the opposition-held assembly declared President Nicolas Maduro’s election illegitimate.

Also, the Venezuelan foreign minister, Jorge Arreaza, snapped at Guaido on 21st January, 2019:

You see this man, who nobody knows in Venezuela—you ask in the streets, “Who is Juan Guaidó?” and nobody knows him—but he’s being pushed to say that he is the new president, by the U.S.

And he did say that! On the 23rd of January 2019, in front of his mob of supporters in Caracas.

And then, a day later, President Trump ‘recognized him’ as the country’s interim president. Canada did the same. The same did France, now a second-rate but increasingly rejuvenated imperialist and neo-colonialist power. Followed by that U.S. puppet – the Organization of American States (OAS), with such fascist countries on board, like Brazil, and Colombia now leading the pack.

Today, the world is clearly divided, as China, Russia, Iran, Turkey, Syria, South Africa, Bolivia, Cuba, Mexico, Uruguay and many others are firmly on the side of the legitimate revolutionary government of President Maduro.

Confrontation is inevitable.

Venezuela ordered all US diplomats to leave and it cut off all diplomatic ties with Washington. US refused to make its embassy staff depart from Caracas, declaring that the Venezuelan government is ‘illegitimate’.

This amounts to a declaration of war. The US refuses to recognize the sovereignty of Venezuela. It reserves the right to tell the Venezuelan people who their real president is! It only recognizes its own, supreme control over the hemisphere and the Planet, showing spite for international law.

It is childish, arrogant, outrageous, and surreal. But it is really happening. And unless it is stopped, right there, in Caracas, this new form of ‘spreading coups’, and enforcing global dictatorship, may spread to all other parts of the world.

Although there are many ‘new elements’ at play, the situation, to a great extent, resembles the ‘Syrian scenario’, as was conveyed to TASS, on January 24, 2019, by Venezuela’s Ambassador to Russia Carlos Rafael Faria Tortosa:

The Venezuelan authorities know that the US is trying to stage a Syrian scenario with “government in exile” in Caracas… After US Vice President Michael Pence called for overthrowing our government, our president decided to sever diplomatic relations with the US authorities and asked US diplomats to leave Caracas in the next 72 hours. This is an adequate response which our brave president provided to flagrant interference… No country can allow any other country to state their opinions about the internal affairs of the state, especially when it comes to calls for overthrowing [the authorities].

We know what the next steps will be. The US will now have a justification [for their actions] that there are two governments in the country, like they did in our fraternal Syria with President Bashar Assad and its people. They created a government in exile, which led to great losses, to casualties, to demolition of the country’s infrastructure.

Will Caracas ask Moscow directly for help, as Syria did years ago, while fighting for its survival? It is not certain, yet, although this possibility certainly exists. Venezuela is counting on increasing support from Russia, Iran, China, Cuba and other socialist or independent countries.

For Venezuela, the only way to survive, is to cut off all its dependency on the West, immediately. Washington is threatening Caracas with further sanctions and even with an oil embargo.

There is no reason to panic. But Maduro’s government has to rapidly and fully realign itself. There are many countries outside the NATO realm which are willing to buy Venezuelan oil, and/or fairly invest in its infrastructure and industry. Russia, Iran, China and Turkey are the most important ones, but there are many others.

There has to be new strategy on how to alleviate the pain of the ordinary Venezuelans. This, too, has to come from ‘outside the Western sphere of control’, even outside Latin America; a continent known for its brutal European-descendant elites, consistent lack of solidarity, courage, and acceptance of the West’s rule (the greatest modern-day hero of South America, Hugo Chavez, died attempting to build an united, proud, socialist Latin America, just to be stabbed in his back and spat at by many of the servile Latin American nations. Cuba was fully abandoned after the destruction of the Soviet Union, and had to be saved by China).

The country has to mobilize; it has to fight. Fight for its survival. With all its allies united, ready to defend Venezuela, the same as it has been happening in Syria.

Venezuela suffers and struggles for humanity, not just for itself. With the name of Chavez and socialism on its lips.

Russia is standing by its ally, Venezuela. On 24 January, 2019, Sputnik reported:

Russia warns the United States against military interference in Venezuela’s affairs, it would be a disaster, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Thursday:

As we see how the situation in Venezuela develops, we note the willingness of a certain group of countries, including the United States, to use different platforms such as the Organization of American States, to increase pressure on our ally Venezuela under different pretexts… But we have always supported and will support friendly Venezuela that is our strategic partner.

From the country devastated by a similar destabilization campaign as the one that is taking place in Venezuela, the Syrian official press agency SANA carried a message of support for the legitimate Venezuelan government:

The Syrian Arab Republic condemns in strongest terms going to extremes by the US and its blatant interference in the affairs of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela which constitutes a flagrant violation of all international norms and laws and a brazen attack against the Venezuelan sovereignty,” a source at the Foreign and Expatriates Ministry said on Thursday.

The source added that the destructive policies adopted by the US in different parts of the world and its disregard of the international legitimacy represents the main reason behind the tensions and the state of instability in our world…

The Syrian Arab Republic affirms its categorical rejection of the blatant US interferences, and it renews full solidarity with the Venezuelan leadership and people in preserving the sovereignty of the country and foiling the hostile schemes of the US administration…

In the past, countries accepted the Western terror unleashed against them as something inevitable. But now, the situation is changing. Russia, Cuba and Syria, Iran and China, and now Venezuela, are refusing to surrender, or even to “negotiate with the terrorists”.

Aleppo, which I described as “the Middle Eastern Stalingrad”, stood tall, fought, resisted and defeated vicious enemies. Now Caracas, the Latin American Leningrad, is under siege, starving, but determined to fight against foreign invasion and treasonous cadres.

All over the world, people have to mobilize and fight, by all means, against fascism and for Venezuela!

Syria, Then and Now

In a surprise turn of events, last month U.S. President Donald J. Trump made the abrupt unilateral announcement that American troops would begin to withdraw from Syria. The unexpected decision provoked the wrath of the foreign policy establishment and bipartisan ‘war party’ in Washington who immediately denounced it as a premature, reckless move that would lead to a resurgence of ISIS. As anticipated, the Beltway blob also claimed it was another sign of Trump’s perceived untold allegiance to Russian President Vladimir Putin. None of the warmongers in Washington would dare admit that the real gains made against ISIS were by the Syrian army with Russian air support, let alone that their own policies were responsible for its manifestation. Sure enough, a suicide bombing in Kurdish-controlled Manbij killed four American personnel just a month later and Daesh, which has a history of taking credit for attacks perpetrated by others, immediately claimed responsibility. It is almost as if the strategic asset themselves did not desire an American pullback— could it be another ‘false flag’ to keep the war machine in Syria going?

The neocons within the administration, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton, contradicted Trump’s statements on the pullout citing the need to ‘protect the Kurds’ before any such removal. The degree of sincerity behind Trump’s decision has drawn a range of speculation — is it a superficial appeasement of his base to whom he made ‘anti-interventionist’ pledges as a candidate, when the U.S. is conducting a bait-and-switch with no plans to really leave Syria? Perhaps Blackwater private contractors will be taking their place. If Trump is genuine, then his decision-making is being circumvented by the Pentagon who Pompeo and Bolton arguably have demonstrated more allegiance to than their Commander-in-Chief, as not a single U.S. soldier has left Syria since Trump stated his intentions. The ‘deep state’ strikes back.

Meanwhile, increasingly difficult to differentiate from the neocons are the ‘humanitarian interventionists’ of the Democratic Party. A recent poll by Politico and the marketing research firm Morning Consult indicates that 30% less Democrats than Republicans favor the removal of U.S. forces from Syria, while just as many are opposed to an end to the nearly two decade occupation of Afghanistan as well. For years, the American people have been sold a bill of goods that the U.S. has been divinely appointed as the world’s policeman in order to protect ‘human rights’ in sovereign states around the globe. Despite military aggression being its essential feature, such newspeak enables many self-declared progressives to support U.S. interventionism abroad. A quote attributed to comedian George Carlin comes to mind based on protest signs against the Vietnam War that read “fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity.”

The suffering of populations under governments deemed enemies of the United States, usually exaggerated or invented, is the go-to method of persuasion rallying support for such militarism. The liberal opposition to the troop withdrawal is a testament to the power of the Syria propaganda campaign where the lengths the West has gone to invert reality is without precedent. Since the conflict began, mainstream reports of the war have repeated verbatim disinformation from dubious organizations that heavily favor the Syrian opposition, like the MI6-sponsored Syrian Observatory for Human Rights run by a single individual based in the UK that is somehow relied upon for ‘on the ground’ fact-gathering.

Even more sickening has been the media’s love affair with the Syrian Civil Defense, AKA the “White Helmets”, a shady organization purported by the yellow press to be neutral first-responders volunteering to save civilians. Anything but impartial, the White Helmets operate exclusively in opposition-controlled territory, specifically that of Tahrir al-Sham (formerly al-Nusra Front or al-Qaeda in Syria),while receiving tens of millions of dollars from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Some of its members may even be combatants themselves, splitting time between waging jihad and crisis acting as humanitarian aid workers. Founded by an ex-British intelligence officer and Blackwater-affiliated mercenary, they dispense staged footage of their activities to the fourth estate for circulation who invariably never bother to ask — what kind of search and rescue group travels everywhere they go with a movie crew ready for use? Disturbingly, the Netflix-produced “documentary” on the White Helmets even received an Academy Award and its members a Nobel Peace Prize nomination.

Recently, even the Western art sphere has gotten in on the act. Saudi soft power and the U.S. art elite have joined forces in a troubling alliance for a cultural campaign of disinformation aimed at U.S. art-going audiences. From this past October until January 13th, on view at the Brooklyn Museum in New York was the exhibition “Syria, Then and Now: Stories from Refugees a Century Apart,| featuring the work of three contemporary artists centered on Syria’s ongoing humanitarian crisis. On the surface, the display championed the plight of the millions of displaced Syrian citizens who fled the conflict to both surrounding countries in the region and the West. Unfortunately, the showcase featured a heavily biased pro-opposition and Russophobic narrative while the enormous conflict of interest behind the organization and sponsorship of the exposition was undisclosed to visitors.The exhibit is one of several ventures organized by the Arab Art Education Initiative (AAEI), a huge project in collaboration with some of the wealthiest and most illustrious art institutions in New York City, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Brooklyn Museum, and Columbia University. The AAEI’s anodyne endeavor is to “connect contemporary Arab culture with diverse audiences across the five boroughs of New York City, bringing together a coalition of artists and institutions to build greater understanding between the United States and the Arab world.” It may sound innocuous, but unmentioned in the gallery text is the Saudi government’s funding of the AAEI and visitors would have to look elsewhere to learn of the incompatibility between its stated aims and subsidies.

The primary donor to the AAEI is the arts initiative Edge of Arabia and its subsidiary the Misk Institute, an art-centered cultural diplomacy organization founded by none other than Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) himself. The AAEI’s program was organized in 2017 at the the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, also known as ‘Ithra’, in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia and was financially developed by its state-owned petroleum and gas enterprise, Aramco, officially the Saudi Arabian Oil Company. The initiative was anticipated to be a success until an inconvenient controversy suddenly stirred, though not by the abysmal human rights record of the gulf state theocracy or its ongoing war on Yemen that has killed tens of thousands in the largest humanitarian crisis in the world. No, the establishment and media were unmoved by those atrocities and saved their feigned concern about human rights for Syria.

It was only the untimely torture, killing, and dismemberment of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi of The Washington Post, allegedly ordered by MBS himselfat the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey which unexpectedly embroiled the absolute monarchy in scandal and brought embarrassment to anyone connected to the dictatorship. In the aftermath of Khashoggi’s grisly murder, the dozens of political and financial figures who had championed MBS as a ‘reformer’ immediately began to distance themselves from the 33-year-old presumptive heir to the throne. Immediately, the museums involved in the AAEI’s program went into damage control mode, stating they would no longer be accepting Saudi funds in the wake of the fallout. However, it is unclear how this is even possible in the case of the Brooklyn Museum, considering Khashoggi was killed just a week prior to the exhibition debut and the entire coordination of the display was by the AAEI.

The art on view itself is a combination of ceramic artifacts from the Northern Syrian city of Raqqa dating back to the 13th century and modern three-dimensional sculptures depicting the refugee crisis. However, the artistic billing is misleading as the three artists featured are only loosely connected to Syria today— artist Mohamed Hafez was born in Damascus but raised in Saudi Arabia, designer Hassam Kourbaj has not lived in Syria since 1985 and is a UK-based artist, while the third — sculptor Ginane Makki Bacho, is Lebanese. The curators begin by reducing the enormously complex conflict to a single sentence for an explanation of its cause:

Today, a new generation of refugees seeks to escape Syria itself, after the regime of Bashar al-Assad used violence to put down pro-democracy protests and civil war broke out in 2011.

Taking a cue from its House of Saud paymasters, according to the curatorial account it was the Syrian government’s enlarged response alone that transformed protests calling for democratic improvements into a sectarian, violent insurrection led by religious extremists denouncing Alawites and Shias as heretics to be forcibly converted or slaughtered. We are then supposed to believe a conflict where CIA operatives trained Syrian ‘rebels’ with weapons supplied by the Saudis, Israel, Turkey and the other Gulf monarchies at the cost of billions of dollars per year is a ‘civil war’, not a proxy war. Sure, some of the insurgency have been ‘moderate’ in the beginning, such as the short-lived Free Syrian Army composed of AWOL Syrian soldiers, but most quickly defected back to the government or became radicalized as the Islamist influence grew. Consequently, credulous museum visitors would have no idea the destabilization of Syria using religious-fundamentalist auxiliaries was carefully prepared by Pentagon strategists for decades and that most Syrians actually support Assad.

More interesting is the inclusion of the exhibit focus on Syria’s ethnic Circassian population, who allegedly discovered the medieval ceramics on display when they arrived in the Levant and present-day Syria following their expulsion from the North Caucasus to the Ottoman Empire after Tsarist Russia’s victory in the Caucasian Wars in 1864. Regrettably, the gallery text disingenuously attempts to draw a historical parallel between Circassians expelled from the Russian Empire in the 19th century to Syrian refugees fleeing the current war:

Syria, Then and Now: Stories from Refugees a Century Apart recounts the changing stories of refugees in Syria over time — then and now — and places their differing experiences, a century apart, in a global context. Around the turn of the twentieth century, Syria gave shelter to refugees from Russia — ethnic Circassians, displaced by the Russian conquest of the Caucasus.

If it isn’t completely obvious, the political implication is that the conflict in Syria is another case of ‘conquest’ by Moscow — or as Joseph Goebbels allegedly said, “accuse the other side of that which you are guilty.

The war in Syria has given the West another opportunity to utilize propaganda to vilify Russia, including for the “Circassian question.” Circassian is an umbrella term for the interrelated language and cultures of the Kabardians, Cherkess, Adygs and Shapsug peoples of the North Caucasus region who are predominantly Sunni Muslim. There are actually twelve different Circassian tribes, but during the Soviet era the official designation was reduced to four groups. Many within the diaspora around the world have expressed their desire to eventually return to the region, including the 80–120,000 based in Syria. Some Circassians (or Adyghes) have unofficially labeled their mass deportation by the Russian Empire as a case of ethnic cleansing and even ‘genocide.’ The g-word is a heavily politicized term and for this reason in 2011 the parliament of the U.S. client state of Georgia under the puppet government of Mikheil Saakashvili made the declaration that the Russian Empire was guilty. Circassian nationalists who have advocated its qualification for their forced migration over a century ago have been exploited by anti-Russian neoconservative organizations in the West who represent the interests of oil conglomerates seeking to gain a monopoly on the more than $4 trillion worth in oil beneath the Caspian Sea basin.

In The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives,former National Security advisor and ex-board member of the Jamestown Foundation, Zbigniew Brzezinski admitted:

For America, the chief geopolitical prize is Eurasia. For half a millennium, world affairs were dominated by Eurasian powers and peoples who fought with one another for regional domination and reached out for global power. Now a non-Eurasian power is preeminent in Eurasia — and Americas global primacy is directly dependent on how long and how effectively its preponderance on the Eurasian continent is sustained.

The primary neocon organization tasked with destabilizing the Caucasus is the Jamestown Foundation, an NGO co-created by former CIA director William Casey in 1984 during the Reagan administration. Its original stated purpose was to assist defectors after high-ranking Soviet diplomats had turned traitor. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, like all outdated Cold War organizations it had to reinvent itself, though its objective remains the same — to undermine what anti-communist hardliners once labeled ‘captive nations’ behind the Iron Curtain. Most of the former Soviet republics were granted their independence, but one exception was the North Caucasus which remained within the Russian Federation to the dissatisfaction of the West which seeks a complete balkanization of post-Soviet Eurasia. Jamestown and other right-wing NGOs like the American Committee for Peace in Chechnya have spent the last thirty years stirring-up Wahhabist-oriented ethnic separatism in the region, which produced two wars in the Chechen Republic that only officially ended after the ascension of Vladimir Putin. Jamestown is the owner of several Eurasia-oriented publications such as Caucasian Knotwhich peddles anti-Russian propaganda to instigate secessionist turmoil.

Vladimir Lenin reputably once called the Russian Empire ‘a prison house of nationalities’. In the Soviet Union, to address the ‘national question’ the second chamber of the legislative body guaranteed representation for all of the different ethnic groups in the federation, including the more than 50 residing in the Caucasus. Those with social vestiges and low literacy rates like the Circassians were even provided preferential treatment by the People’s Commissariat for Education. Since the reinstatement of the free market in Eastern Europe, the U.S. has fomented separatist and nationalist causes across Eurasia and attempted to undo the progress made during the Soviet era. The neocon effort to exploit the Circassian issue is a pretext for advocating their repatriation to the region and use of them as a geopolitical chess piece.

This culminated in protests by Circassian nationalists against the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi on the basis that the games would be taking place on top of the graves of their ancestors during the 150th anniversary of their exiling. Few would doubt the brutality of the Tsarist absolute monarchy, which was just one of the many reasons it was overthrown in the Russian Revolution. However, whether or not what happened over a century and a half ago to the Circassians, a nationality so culturally backwards their marriage practice consists of bride kidnapping, was genocide is irrelevant considering another infamous holocaust in the Caucasus perpetrated upon the Armenians by the Ottoman Turks is still unrecognized by the U.S. and Georgia to this day. Their deceitfulness could not be more obvious and the West has a long history of mobilizing the grievances of ethnic groups for its own political gain against Moscow.

To give it perspective, the U.S. interference in the Caucasus is akin to Moscow advocating separatism for the dozens of federally recognized Native American tribes in the United States, as well as independence for territories like Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Especially in the aftermath of the 2016 election, Washington would surely stand up to such outside meddling and any country which supported it. Nonetheless, the dangerous ideological myth of American exceptionalism permits the United States to support factionalism in Russia and other countries around the world to the detriment of international peace. The U.S. is already experiencing blowback from this interference with the Boston Marathon bombings, as suspected Chechen perpetrator Tamerlan Tsarnaev was reportedly radicalized at a Jamestown-sponsored program while traveling abroad in Tblisi, Georgia.

The Russian intervention was at the request of the Syrian government and unlike the American foray was not in violation of international law. Moscow’s participation turned the war back in Assad’s favor, from the liberation of Aleppo from al-Nusra to the defeat of ISIS in Palmyra and Deir ez-Zor. The close proximity of Russia to the Middle East coupled with the history of terrorism exported to the Caucasus by the Saudis made Russian involvement in Syria an obligation in order to prevent a resurgence of jihadist-led breakaway violence in its southern border region. One can argue over the degree of the bombing campaign to rescue areas under militant control, but what is indisputable is that today Syria’s many religious minority groups, including Circassians who generally support Assad, are back under the protection of a secular state that is tolerant of all sects. It surely would have ended up just like Libya as a lawless failed state overrun by salafists if Moscow hadn’t interceded, and the oil-rich Caucasus once again in danger of being fragmented.

Perhaps no issue has been more divisive in recent years than the war in Syria. The propaganda barrage has misled many into forgetting that we are still living in the highest stage of capitalism, imperialism, where to generate profits wealthier nations are driven to conquer others on a global scale in order to have dominion over their markets and subjugate the labor power within them. In this context, the national question takes center stage and so does defending the right of individual nations to self-determination, even if that country is under a government that is less than ideal. While no one can deny the extremism of the opposition at this point, instead of supporting Syria itself some have naively chosen to throw their support behind Kurdish nationalist militias in Northern Syria that have established an ‘autonomous federation’ based on a self-proclaimed ‘libertarian socialist direct-democracy’ style of government that it somehow reconciles with its participation in the U.S.-created Syrian Democratic Forces and permitting the occupation of nearly a dozen American military facilities in its territory. It is clear that the Kurds are being used as pawns to establish a Kosovo-like protectorate bound to U.S. interests in balkanizing Syria, and Rojava supporters on the Western left are suffering from what Lenin called an infantile disorder.

The establishments collaborating with the medieval Saudi regime in its artistic scheme are disguising their lucrative motivations as building bridges between civilizations. In the case of the Brooklyn Museum, a simulated concern for refugees which is liberal politics at its worst. The art world has long been tainted by the power structures it is situated in and the museums involved have allowed their space to be occupied by war propagandists in exchange for blood money from the military-industrial complex and a totalitarian theocracy. Coincidentally, recently a controversy was generated over an art installation in lower Manhattan featuring sculptures of pieces of candy draped in the flags of the G20 nations, including that of Saudi Arabia which provoked anger due to its proximity to Ground Zero. It is no secret that 15 of the 19 hijackers in the September 11th attacks were of Saudi origin and hundreds of American families have been mired in a long legal battle to sue the kingdom for damages for its alleged role in 9/11. The installation is appropriately due for removal and one wishes the same level of outrage had been elicited by Syria: Then and Now.

Israel and the Golan Heights: A Wider Geopolitical Game

In the recent autumn session of the United Nations General Assembly a number of resolutions involving the Syrian Golan Heights occupied by Israel came up for debate and voting. A familiar pattern emerged. The first of the votes to be noted was UNGA Resolution A/C.4/73/L.20. The wording of this resolution was that the general Assembly “reaffirmed that Israel’s settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories including East Jerusalem are illegal and an obstacle to peace and social development”.

The second resolution, A/C.4/73/L.22 said that the General Assembly “determines that all legislation and administrative measures taken by Israel, the occupying Power, that purport to alter the character and legal status of the occupied Syrian Golan Heights are null and void.”  The wording of this resolution echoed the wording of United Nations Security Council resolution 497 of 17 December 1981, which was 37 years previously. That earlier resolution was passed unanimously; i.e. the United States included.

The third resolution, L/73/L.30 expressed the General Assembly’s deep concern “that Israel has not withdrawn from the Syrian Golan, which has been under occupation since 1967” (i.e. 51 years).

The voting on each resolution respectively was 154 in favour (with 6 No votes and 15 abstentions; 149: 2: and 22; and 99: 10: 66.

The United States, which was part of a unanimous Security Council vote in 1981 condemning Israel’s actions in the Golan Heights as “null and void” was one of the two ‘No’ votes in the second resolution referred to above. The other No vote, unsurprisingly, was Israel. The United States and Israel both voted ‘No’ to the other two resolutions as well. Australia abstained in respect of each of the three votes.

This voting pattern and the debate that surrounded them is significant for a number of reasons.

The first reason is that it unequivocally demonstrates that where Israel is concerned there is a different standard applied by the United States (and Australia) where breaches of international law are concerned.

It is indisputable that land occupied by conquest cannot be returning by the occupying power, much less incorporated into the administrative regime of the occupying power. Yet this is precisely what Israel has done, first by maintaining its occupation post the 1967 Six Day War, and then in 1981 purporting to incorporate the Golan Heights into its own administrative territory.

It is not difficult to envisage the rhetoric from the United States if Russia or China had made any similar moves. One has only to recall the incessant barrage of propaganda from the United States and its allies about “Russian aggression” when Crimea was reincorporated into the Russian Federation following an overwhelming popular vote.

The United States is similarly making threats against China after President Xi made a speech recently pointing out that Taiwan was part of China and that reunification was a goal for the near future. The United States accepted that Taiwan was part of China until 1949 when the Nationalists were defeated in the civil war.

As the Americans showed by voting against a resolution that they had previously been part of a unanimous Security Council in accepting, consistency is not their strong suit. The withdrawal from the antiballistic missile treaty in 2001, and from an INF treaty in 2018, and their abandonment of the JCPOA in 2018 are further illustrations of that point.

It also lays bare, yet again, the hypocrisy of western political leaders, notably in the United States and Australia, who forever trumpet their alleged commitment to the “rules based international order”.

There is no clearer example over a sustained period of time of Israel’s total disregard for international law than in their treatment of the Palestinians and the continued illegal occupation of the Golan Heights. Neither of these examples is the subject of public criticism by American or Australian politicians, and judging by their voting behaviour in the United Nations, support for Israel’s actions is either tacit or explicit.

Earlier in January 2019 two United States Republican Senators, Cruz and Cotton, went public in a joint statement that was remarkable for its complete disregard for international law, its equally cavalier disregard for the factual situation in the Middle East, and for its display of what is best described by the Hebrew word “chutzpah” (insolence, cheek or audacity).

Cruz and Cotton’s statement said, in part:

Responding to the threat posed by Iran and its proxies requires ensuring that Israel can defend its territory and its citizens from attack. To support Israel’s right to self defence, Washington should take the long overdue step of affirming Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

This is a frankly bizarre departure from reality and a number of commentators have already pointed this out.1  It came at the same time as National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were making equally absurd statements on their recent foray to Middle Eastern capitals.2

Even if Israel had legitimate self-defence concerns, occupying the territory of a neighbouring state is neither feasible nor legal. There must therefore be an alternative explanation for Israel’s continued disregard for international law, the extraordinary public comments of two senior members of the Trump administration, and the pattern of behaviour of United States in the region, notwithstanding the recent erratic and contradictory behaviour of its leadership.

One possible explanation that fits the known facts, and which incidentally also helps explain the extraordinary lack of criticism by Western nations of Israel’s continued illegal occupation of the Golan Heights, can be found in the activities of an American company called Genie Energy.

This little-known company is headquartered in Newark, New Jersey. Its strategic advisory board includes such luminaries as Dick Cheney (former US vice president under Bush Jr); James Woolsey (former CIA director); Larry Summers (former head of the US Treasury); Rupert Murdoch (chairman of News Corporation among other media interests); and Jacob Rothschild. It would be hard to nominate a better-connected group of people, all of them noted for a strong pro-Israel bias.

Genie Energy, through its subsidiary Afek Oil and Gas, was granted an oil exploration license for the occupied Golan Heights by the Israeli government. Needless to say, the Syrian government was not consulted.

As far back as October 2015 Afek discovered oil reserves in the Golan Heights, with a potential yield estimated at billions of barrels3 Actually developing those vast reserves would require the solidification of Israel’s control over the occupied territory.

It cannot legally do that, although lack of legality has never been a hindrance to Israel since 1948. Its de facto control of the Golan Heights, however, is key to understanding Israel’s moves in the Middle East since 1967. In recent years Israel’s support for terrorist groups fighting the Assad Government in Syria is destined in part to keep the Syrian army and Iranian supported Hezbollah from challenging Israel’s control of the Golan Heights. It is not a coincidence that Israeli territory proper has not suffered a single ISIS inspired attack although prima facie one might have thought that a Jewish state would be anathema to Islamic fundamentalists.

The evidence is now overwhelming that Israel has been one of the main supporters of ISIS because it suited their own wider geopolitical ambitions.4  When a jihadist group occupied some small towns in the Israeli controlled Golan Heights in February 2017, the Israeli army and air force took no steps to oppose them.

Israel’s ambitions for the Golan Heights are matched by the United States in northern Syria where the area it occupies (also illegally) provided 90% of Syria’s pre-war oil production. Both the United States and Israel have long intended to build a pipeline to provide gas to Europe, supplanting Russia as Europe’s principal supplier.

As Robert Kennedy Jr pointed out5 US plans began in 2000 with a $10 billion 1500 km pipeline from Qatar through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Turkey. It was when Syria rejected their proposed role in the plan in 2009 (as it would jeopardise their relationship with Russia) that the CIA began funding terrorist groups in Syria.

Seen in this broader context, the blatant ongoing illegality of Israel’s occupation of the Golan, the US deep state’s strong desire to remain in northern Syria, the sanctions against Russia, the overt threats against German companies involved in Nord Stream 2,6 and the suppression of most of this material in the western mainstream media (in which Murdoch is a dominant figure) all form part of a long-term set of plans hatched in Washington and Tel Aviv that have nothing to do with the rights and freedoms of the Syrian people.

As courageous independent journalists on the ground in Syria such as Vanessa Beeley have amply demonstrated7, the ordinary people of Syria are but pawns in a wider geopolitical game. In the extraordinary chaos and destruction that the illegal western intervention in Syria has caused, Australia has played a small but significant role.

Actually detecting a benefit to Australia in all of this is more than elusive, but as John Menadue recently pointed out8 for all their protestations about the rule of law and shared western values, the reality is that western politicians have always sacrificed principle for geopolitical expediency.

In the rapidly changing geopolitical framework brought about by Russia’s intervention in Syria in 2015 and a consequent shifting of alliances by key players such as Turkey, it remains to be seen whether the untenable ambitions of Israel and the United States can be brought to fruition. 2019 looks to be no less dangerous than the year just past.

  1. Moon of Alabama 10 January 2019.
  2. See, for example, Strategic Culture Foundation 15 January 2019.
  3. The Economist, ‘Black Gold Under the Golan, 7 November 2015.
  4. Haaretz, 8 September 2018.
  5. Ecowatch, 25 February 2016, Another Pipeline War.
  6. DW, 14 January 1019.
  7. 21st Century Wire, 17 October 2018.
  8. John Menadue, 15 January 2019.

Peace for Syria and a New Kurdistan as Regional Stabilizing Factor?

The US will withdraw her troops from Syria. Will they really?  Let’s take Trump at his word, just for argument’s sake. Though in the meantime, RT reports that the withdrawal may be slower than anticipated, to allow Erdogan making his own “strategic arrangements”, while US troops depart. During his flash visit to the US troops in Iraq on Christmas Day, Mr. Trump already indicated that any US intervention – if necessary – would be launched from Iraq. Of course.

The US will not let go of such a strategic country with access to Four Seas, as promoted by President Bashar al-Assad, linking the Mediterranean, the Caspian Sea, the Black Sea and the Persian Gulf into an energy network. Washington had the full dominion of Syria in mind as the pivotal country in the Middle East, already when Washington first attempted to “negotiate” with Bashar’s dad, Háfez al-Ásad, in the late 1990s, and then after his death in 2000, the secret gnomes of Washington continued the process of coercion with Háfez’s son and heir, Bashar. To no avail, as we know.

Therefore, the question, “Will Syria ever Become a “Normal” Country Again?” sounds almost rhetorical. Syria is one of those predestined countries to “fall”, decided by the empire, long before the ascension to the throne by Mr. Trump. Others include and are well outlined in the PNAC (Plan for a New American Century) – Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Sudan, Lebanon and Iran. As we see, the plan is progressing nicely – and letting go of any of the ‘milestones’ within this plan – is simply not in the cards. Deviations are not tolerated. That’s presumably why James “Mad Dog” Mattis resigned as Secretary of Defense upon Trump’s announcement to withdraw from Syria. The Pentagon has its mandate, given by the Military Industrial Complex.

So, war or peace (and war it is) has become full spectrum Pentagon territory, not to be meddled with. It has nothing to do with terrorism, or saving the world from terrorism. It is pure and simple ´calcule’ for profit from the war machine, from stolen and confiscated oil and gas and, ultimately but not lastly, for full power dominance of the world. The Middle East is one of those focal points of the empire that needs to be plunged into eternal chaos. Peace is never an option. Unless empire falls. But until then, the Middle East is a multi-purpose ‘gold mine’, in terms of resources, a test ground for the East-West arms race, a terrain for almost endless destruction – and reconstruction – and a bottomless source of a continuous and destabilizing flow of refugees to Europe. It’s all planned. No human suffering is able to halt this project, and we can but hope that Russia and China see clear on this, that they won’t fall for promises of peace, for make-believe withdrawals, for lies and deceit.

Will Syria ever become a ‘normal’ country again? I opt for yes. But empire must fall. And fall it will. It’s a question of time and maybe strategy? For hundreds of years, the Kurds are an ethnicity of between 25 and 35 million people. They inhabit a mountainous region straddling the borders of Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Iran and a tiny bit of Armenia. They make up the fourth-largest ethnic group in the Middle East, but they have never obtained a permanent nation state. Wouldn’t this rearrangement of power in Syria due to the apparent US troop withdrawals be an opportunity to find a solution for the century old Kurdish “problem”?

President Assad might seize the opportunity to accept the Kurds ‘invitation’ to enter the city of Manbij, the current Kurdish stronghold in Syria. And this despite the fact that the Kurds have often fought against the Syrian military, either alongside the US / NATO forces or alongside ISIS. It’s time to rethink geopolitics in the Middle East, beginning with Syria. After all, Manbij is Syrian territory, and Turkey has no legitimate claim on any land within Syria. Except in the case of a possible land swap.

On these grounds Syria might want to initiate negotiations with Turkey, Iraq and Iran to finally establish within the borders of Syria and Iraq (and Iran, as it were), some kind of a Kurdish territory which might over time become a fully autonomous Kurdish Homeland, what today is already called, Kurdistan. Much like Israel was carved out of Palestine, except that Israel was an artificial creation, commanded by outside forces, with the specific purpose already 70 years ago to destabilize the region. Whereas Kurdistan would be a stabilizing factor, a natural process facilitated by the countries within the region.

There are, of course, other players with high stakes in this peace process, like Russia, Turkey and Iraq – and the two rogue nations, paradoxically bound together, Israel and Saudia Arabia. Two nations that have no right whatsoever to even come close to Syria. But they continue having US support, even with the apparent US withdrawal from Syria, or because of it, as they will now play the role of US proxies in fighting Mr. Assad’s legitimate regime.

Russia would most likely prefer no Turkish interference in Syria, for example, the occupation of Manbij, but would rather see Syrian control of Syrian territory with negotiated land swap deals with neighboring countries, especially Turkey and Iraq, to bring eventually the Kurdish question to a solution. That is, of course, just the beginning. The easy part.

The current semi-offical Kurdistan is one of the oil richest territories of the region. At present these oil resources are divided more or less along the border divisions of Kurdistan; i.e., Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. For these countries hydrocarbon is a key factor in their economy. Therefore, the creation of an autonomous region within Syria, Iraq and Iran, called Kurdistan, might require not only an honest process and equitable division of the Black Gold, but also a withdrawal of Trukey from Kurdistan; i.e., through a land swap. The development towards a sovereign Kurdistan – no time frame might at this point be suggested – would require Kurdish concessions. In other words, peace and homeland have a price. However, this price will never even come close to the benefits of independence and peace.

At present, Kurdistan’s oil reserves are estimated at 45 billion gallon, almost a third of Iraq’s total untapped 150 billion gallons of petrol. The Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), with her capital, Erbil in Iraq (pop. about 900,000), would, of course, prefer becoming an independent state. But that is just not going to happen out of the blue. Therefore, peace in the region and a Kurdish Homeland is worth a negotiated land and petrol concession. And when would be a better moment for such thoughts and negotiations than NOW?

There are other signs that Syria is in the process of becoming a “normal” country again. The re-opening of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) embassy in Syria may be considered a major public step to welcoming Bashar al-Assad back into the fold of the Arab League, from which Syria was banned at the beginning of the 2011 CIA induced war on Mr. Assad’s government. Bahrain has also announced it will shortly reopen diplomatic relations with Damascus. Is this move by the UAE and Bahrain the first step of a new “Arab solidarity”?  In any case, it signals a new recognition of Syria under President Assad.

With Syria becoming a fully autonomous and sovereign country again, where diplomatic missions are being re-established and where refugees return to help rebuild their nation, and where a new Kurdistan, may just be the dot bringing peace and stability to the region. Though that may succeed only without any Atlantist interference being handled only as a regional project.

A last thought for those who are shaking their heads in disbelief, because of the political and economic volatility of Kurdistan, due to her exorbitant oil riches which are currently spread among four countries – listen! peak oil is a thing of the past. Hydrocarbons are rather rapidly being replaced as the key energy provider by alternative sources of energy, of which the Middle East also has plenty, but which cannot be stolen – solar energy. The East, foremost China, is rapidly developing new and more efficient ways of transferring sun light into electricity, with the appropriate storage technology that may make it possible to largely phase out hydrocarbons within the next generation.

Hence, the momentum is NOW – US troop withdrawals – to create a stabilizing Kurdistan and make Syria a “normal country again.

We Can End The US War On Syria

No War In Syria demonstration 2013 in Los Angeles, CA (Photograph by David Mcnew for Getty)

The US war against Syria was one that people almost stopped. President Obama was unable to get Congress to authorize the war in 2013, but the Pentagon and foreign policy establishment, who have long wanted to control Syria, pushed forward with war anyway.

It has been a disaster. The war has resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths and injuries as well six million people displaced within the country and five million people who have fled the country.

The people were right, and the military was wrong. The war on Syria never should have happened and now must end.

President Trump announced withdrawal from Syria this week. This creates an opportunity to end the war on Syria. We have work to do to make peace a reality.

Peace Insurrection on Capitol Hill 2013, CODE PINK (Photo by Cool Revolution)

The People Almost Prevented the US War in Syria

In 2013, amidst highly-doubted, unproven allegations of a chemical attack by Syrian President Assad (debunked a year later), the threat of war escalated, and so did opposition to the war. Protests against an attack on Syria took place around the world. In the US, people were in the streets and speaking out at town halls. Obama was forced to bring the issue to Congress for authorization.

Congress was barraged with a Peace Insurrection encamped outside its doors, sit-ins in Congressional offices, and a massive number of phone calls with 499 to 1 opposing the war. Obama could not get the votes to support the war. Harry Reid surrendered to the public by never holding a vote.

The other superpower, the people, had stopped a war. Obama became the first president to announce a bombing campaign who was forced to back down by the people.

But the victory would be temporary, neocons and militarists continued to push for war. Based on new fake terror fears, and false chemical attack allegations, the ‘humanitarian’ destruction of Syria proceeded.

WSWS described how the war escalated under Obama, writing, “The illegal US occupation of Syria, begun under the Obama administration in October 2015 without authorization from either the United Nations or the Syrian government.” There was a shift from CIA support for Al Qaeda-linked militias to war to bring down the Assad government. US troops coordinated a campaign of airstrikes that reduced the city of Raqqa and other Syrian communities to rubble. Amnesty International, after conducting field investigations, reported the US has committed war crimes in Syria. Vijay Prashad described the US creating “hell on Earth” in Syria.

Despite this, the US was losing the war in Syria. With Russia coming to the aid of its ally, Assad was not going to be removed.

Trump escalated and drove the US deeper into the Middle East quagmire betraying the non-interventionist base who elected him. The corporate media praised Trump as ‘becoming president’ for bombing Syria based on another unproven chemical attack. Later, even General Mattis admitted there was no evidence tying Assad to chemical attacks.

Early this year, the Trump administration announced a permanent presence in one-third of Syria with 30,000 Syrian Kurds as the ground forces, US air support, and eight new US bases. Protests continued against the bombing of Syria throughout the spring in the US and around the world.

Now, as Andre Vltchek describes, the Syrian people have prevailed and most of the country is liberated. People are returning and rebuilding.

 

Boston Anti-War Protest: ‘Hands Off Syria! No War! (November 21 2016 by ShaunaDorothy in Socialist)

Trump Announces Withdrawal

President Trump’s announcement that he is withdrawing from Syria over the next 60 to 100 days has been met with a firestorm of opposition. Trump tweeted on Wednesday, “We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.”

Russia is drawing down its military activities with Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu reporting Russia was carrying out 100 to 110 flights per day at its peak and now they do no more than two to four flights per week, chiefly for reconnaissance purposes. Putin agreed that ISIS had been defeated and supported Trump’s decision but cast doubt on Washington’s plans, saying, “We don’t see any signs of withdrawing US troops yet, but I concede that it is possible.”

There has been very little support for withdrawal from elected officials. Many Republicans and the corporate media are criticizing Trump. The first two Democrats to step forward to support the removal of troops were Rep. Ted Lieu, a frequent Trump critic who applauded the action, and Rep. Ro Khanna. But, the bi-partisan war Congress opposes Trump.

Secretary of Defense Mattis resigned after Trump’s announcement. In his resignation, he expressed disagreements with Trump over foreign policy. The media is mourning the exit of Mattis, neglecting his history as a likely war criminal who targeted civilians. Ray McGovern reminds us Mattis was famous for quipping, “It’s fun to shoot some people.”

Mattis is the fourth of “My Generals,” as Trump called them, to leave the administration; e.g., Director of Homeland Security and then Chief of Staff, John Kelly, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, and National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. This leaves neocon extremist John Bolton and pro-militarist Mike Pompeo as the biggest influences on Trump’s foreign policy.

Popular Resistance supports the withdrawal of troops from Syria and applauds Trump’s decision.

We are not alone in supporting Trump’s withdrawal announcement. Medea Benjamin of CODE PINK described the withdrawal as “a positive contribution to the peace process,” urging “all foreign powers that have been involved in Syria’s destruction, including the United States, take responsibility for rebuilding this nation and providing assistance to the Syrian people, including the refugees, who have suffered so tragically for over seven years.”

Veterans for Peace supports the withdrawal saying the US has “no legal right to be [there] in the first place” and describing the brutal destruction caused by US bombs.

Black Alliance for Peace supports the withdrawal writing the war “should have never been allowed in the first place.” They denounce the corporate press and members of the political duopoly for opposing the withdrawal. BAP also recognizes that the foreign policy establishment will fight this withdrawal and promises to work to end all US involvement in Syria and other nations.


New York Times reports the coup which overthrew the country’s democratically elected government. Stephen J. Meade, the U.S. assistant military attaché who was also a CIA officer, worked with the Syrian chief of staff, Husni Zaim, to plan a coup. The US was concerned about Syria’s stance on Israel, border disputes with Turkey, and oil pipelines, and worried that the left was growing in power and that the government was growing friendlier to the Soviet Union.

Will the Long History Of US Regime Change In Syria End?

Trump is being fought because the US has a long history of trying to control Syria dating back to the 1940s. Controlling Syria has been a consistent policy objective. CIA documents from 1986 describe how the US could remove the Assad family.

While the bulk of destruction of Syria occurred during the Obama administration, plans for the current war and overthrowing Assad date back to the George W. Bush administration. A State Department cable, “Influencing the SARG In The End Of 2006”, examines strategies to bring about regime change in Syria.

This is not the first time President Trump said the war on Syria would be ending. He did so in March, but in April, Mattis announced expanding the US military in Syria. As Patrick Lawrence writes in Don’t Hold Your Breath on US Troop Withdrawal from Syria, “By September the Pentagon was saying . . .U.S. forces had to stay until Damascus and its political opponents achieved a full settlement.“

In response to Trump’s newest announcement, the Pentagon said it will continue the air war in Syria. They would do so at least for as long as troops were on the ground, adding “As for anything post-US troops on the ground, we will not speculate on future operations.” The Pentagon has not given any details on a withdrawal timeline, citing “force protection and operational security reasons.”

As Trump’s removal of US troops from Syria challenges the foreign policy establishment, which seemed to be planning a long-term presence in Syria, the movement must support Trump to end the war.

 

Stop Endless Wars from the Anti-War Committee

The People Must Ensure the End of the War on Syria

The peace movement should do all it can to support Trump’ call for withdrawal because he needs allies. Patrick Lawrence describes the experience thus far during the Trump administration:

“As Trump finishes his second year in office, the pattern is plain: This president can have all the foreign policy ideas he wants, but the Pentagon, State, the intelligence apparatus, and the rest of what some call ‘the deep state’ will either reverse, delay, or never implement any policy not to its liking.”

We saw this scenario play out earlier this month when Trump complained about the Pentagon’s out-of-control budget and pledged to cut it. As Lawrence points out, just days later the president met with Mattis and the chairmen of the House and Senate Armed Services Committee and announced that the three had agreed on a 2020 defense budget of $750 billion, a 5 percent increase.

Trump has made no progress on North Korea since the first meeting and has been prevented from making progress on positive relations with Russia. The foreign policy establishment of the Pentagon, State Department, Intelligence Agencies, weapons makers and Congressional hawks are in control. Trump will need all the help he can get to overcome them and withdraw from Syria.

We should urge Trump to be clear that ALL troops are leaving Syria. This should include not only the troops on the ground but the air force as well as private contractors. The CIA should also stop its secret war on Syria. And the US should leave the military bases it has built in Syria. Similarly, the movement should support Trump’s calls to withdraw from Afghanistan.

The US has done incredible damage to Syria and owes restitution, which is needed to help bring Syria back to normalcy.

Syria and Afghanistan join the list of failed and counterproductive US wars. These are more signs of a failing empire. The people of the United States must rise up to finish the job we started in 2013 — stop the war on Syria, a war that never should have occurred.

In Syria the Entire Nation Mobilized and Won

Families visiting their destroyed streets in Homs

Yes, there is rubble, in fact, total destruction, in some of the neighborhoods of Homs, Aleppo, in the outskirts of Damascus, and elsewhere.

Yes, there are terrorists and ‘foreign forces’ in Idlib and in several smaller pockets in some parts of the country.

Yes, hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives and millions are either in exile, or internally displaced.

But the country of Syria is standing tall. It did not crumble like Libya or Iraq did. It never surrendered. It never even considered surrender as an option. It went through total agony, through fire and unimaginable pain, but in the end, it won. It almost won. And the victory will, most likely, be final in 2019.

Despite its relatively small size, it did not win like a ‘small nation’, fighting guerilla warfare. It is winning like a big, strong state: it fought proudly, frontally, openly, against all odds. It confronted the invaders with tremendous courage and strength, in the name of justice and freedom.

Syria is winning, because the only alternative would be slavery and subservience, and that is not in the lexicon of the people here. The Syrian people won because they had to win, or face the inevitable demise of their country and collapse of their dream of a Pan-Arab homeland.

Syria is winning, and hopefully, nothing here in the Middle East, will be the same again. The long decades of humiliation of the Arabs are over. Now everyone ‘in the neighborhood’ is watching. Now everybody knows: The West and its allies can be fought and stopped; they are not invincible. Tremendously brutal and ruthless they are, yes, but not invincible. The most vicious, fundamentalist religious implants can be smashed, too. I said it before, and I repeat it here again: Aleppo has been the Stalingrad of the Middle East. Aleppo and Homs, and other great courageous Syrian cities. Here, fascism was confronted, fought with all might and with great sacrifice, and finally deterred.

*****

I sit in the office of a Syrian General, Akhtan Ahmad. We speak Russian. I ask him about the security situation in Damascus, although I already know. For several evenings and nights, I have been walking through the narrow winding roads of the old city; one of the cradles of human race. Women, even young girls, were walking as well. The city is safe.

General Akhtan Ahmad and Andre Vltchek

“It is safe,” smiles General Akhtan Ahmad, proudly. “You know it is safe, don’t you?”

I nod. He is a top Syrian intelligence commander. I should have asked more, much more. Details, details. But I don’t want to know details; not right now. I want to hear again and again that Damascus is safe, from him, from my friends, from the passers-by.

Situation is now very good. Go out at night…

I tell him that I have. That I have been doing it since I arrived.

No one is afraid, anymore”, he continues. “Even in the places where terrorist groups used to operate, life is returning to normal… The Syrian government is now providing water, electricity. People are returning to the liberated areas. East Ghouta was liberated only 5 months ago, and now you can see shops opening there, one after another.

Night in the old city of Domascus

I get several permits signed. I take the General’s photo. I get photographed with him. He has nothing to hide. He is not afraid.

I tell him that at the end of January of 2019, or in February at the latest, I want to travel to Idlib, or at least to the suburbs of that city. That’s fine; I just have to let them know a few days in advance. Palmyra, fine. Aleppo, no problem.

We shake hands. They trust me. I trust them. That’s the only way forward – this is still a war. A terrible, brutal war. Despite the fact that Damascus is now free and safe.

*****

After I leave General’s office, we drive to Jobar, on the outskirts of Damascus. Then to Ein-Tarma.

There, it is total madness.

Jobar used to be a predominantly industrial area, Ein-Tarma a residential neighborhood. Both places had been reduced almost entirely to rubble. In Jobar I am allowed to film inside the tunnels, which used to be used by the terrorists; by the Rahman Brigades and by the other groups with direct connection to Al-Nusrah Front.

The scene is eerie. Formerly these factories offered tens of thousands of jobs to the people of the capital city. Now, nothing moves here. Dead silence, just dust and wreckage.

Lieutenant Ali accompanies me, as I climb over debris. I asked him what took place here.  He replies, through my interpreter:

This place was only liberated in April 2018. It was one of the last places that was taken from the terrorists. For 6 years, one part was controlled by the ‘rebels’, while another by the army. The enemies dug tunnels, and it was very difficult to defeat them. They used every structure they could get their hands on, including schools. From here, most of the civilians managed to escape.

I asked him about the destruction, although I knew the answer, as my Syrian friends used to live in this area, and told me their detailed stories. Lieutenant Ali confirmed:

The West was feeding the world with propaganda, saying that this was destruction caused by the army. In fact, the Syrian army was engaging the rebels only when they were attacking Damascus. Eventually, the rebels retreated from here, after the Russian-sponsored talks with the government.

*****

A Few kilometers further east, in Ein-Tarma, things are very different. Before the war, this used to be a residential neighborhood. People used to live here, mostly in the multi-story buildings. Here, the terrorists hit hard at the civilians. For months or even years, families had to live in terrible fear and deprivation.

We stopped at the humble shop selling vegetables. Here, I approached an elderly lady, and after she agreed to it, I began filming.

She spoke, and then she shouted, straight into the camera, waving her hands:

We lived here like cattle. The terrorists treated us like animals. We were scared, hungry, humiliated. Women: terrorists would take 4-5 wives, forcing young girls and mature women into so-called marriages. We had nothing; nothing left!

“And now?” I asked.

Now? Look! We live again. We have a future. Thank you; thank you, Bashar!

She calls her president by his first name. She points palms at her heart, and after kissing them, she waves her hands again.

There is nothing to ask, really. I just film. She says it all, in two minutes.

As we are leaving, I realize that she is most likely not old; not old at all. But what has happened here broke her in half. Now she is living; she is living and hoping again.

I ask my driver to move slowly, and I begin filming the road, broken and dusty, but full of traffic: people walking, bicycles and cars passing by, negotiating potholes. In the side streets, people are hard at work, rebuilding, cleaning rubble, cutting fallen beams. Electricity is getting restored. Glass panels fitted into the scratched wooden frames. Life. Victory; all this is bittersweet, because so many people died; because so much has been destroyed. But life it is, despite everything; life again. And hope; so much hope.

*****

I sit with my friends, Yamen and Fida, in a classic, old Damascus café, called Havana. It is a real institution; a place where Ba’ath Party members used to meet, during the old and turbulent days. Photographs of President Bashar al-Assad are displayed, prominently.

Friends Yamen and Fida in Cafe Havana, Damascus

Yamen, an educator, recalls how he had to move from one apartment to another, on several occasions during the recent years:

My family used to live right next to Jobar. Everything around there was getting destroyed. We had to move. Then, at a new location, I was walking with my little son, and a mortar had landed near us. Once I saw building in flames. My son was crying in horror. A woman next to us was howling, trying to throw herself into flames: ‘My son is inside, I need my son, give me my son!’ In the past, we couldn’t predict from where the danger would arrive, and when. I lost several relatives; family members. We all did.

Fida, Yamen’s colleague, is taking care of her ageing mother every day when she gets back from work. Life is still tough, but my friends are true patriots, and this helps them to cope with the daily challenges.

Over a cup of strong Arabic coffee, Fida explains:

You see us laughing and joking, but deep inside, almost all of us are suffering from deep psychological trauma. What took place here was tough; we all saw terrible things, and we lost our loved ones. All this will stay with us, for many years to come. Syria does not have enough professional psychologists and psychiatrists to cope with the situation. So many lives have been damaged. I am still scared. Every day. Many people have been terribly shaken.

I feel sorry for my brother’s children. They were born into this crisis. My tiny nephew… Once we were under a mortar attack. He was so scared. Children are really badly affected! Personally, I am not afraid of getting killed. I am frightened of losing my arm, or leg, or not being able to take my mom to the hospital, if she was to be feeling sick. At least my ancestral city, Safita, has always been safe, even during the worst days of the conflict.

“Not my Salamiyah,” laments Yamen:

Salamiyah used to be just terrible. Many villages had to be evacuated… Many people died there. To the East of the city were the positions of Al-Nusrah, while the west was held by the ISIS.

Yes, hundreds of thousands of the Syrian people were killed. Millions forced to leave the country, escaping both the terrorists and the conflict as well as poverty that rode on the tail of the fighting. Millions have been internally displaced; the entire nation in motion.

The previous day, after leaving Ein-Tarma, we drove near Zamalka and Harasta. Entire huge neighborhoods were either flattened, or at least terribly damaged.

When you see the Eastern suburbs of Damascus, when you see the ghost buildings without walls and windows, with bullet holes dotting the pillars, you think that you have seen it all. The destruction is so huge; it looks like an entire big city was just blown up to pieces. They say this eerie landscape doesn’t change for at least 15 kilometers. The nightmare goes on and on, without any interruption.

So yes, you tend to think that you have seen it all, but actually you haven’t. It is because you have not visited Aleppo, nor visited Homs, yet.

*****

For several years, I have been fighting for Syria. I was doing it from the peripheries.

I managed to enter the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and to file reports about the brutality and cynicism of the occupation.

For years, I covered life in the refugee camps, and ‘around them’. Some camps were real, but others were actually used as training fortresses for the terrorist, who were later injected into Syrian territory, by NATO. Once I almost disappeared while filming Apayadin, one of such ‘institutions’, erected not far from the Turkish city of Hattay (Atakya).

I ‘almost’ disappeared, but others actually did die. Covering what the West and its allies have been doing to Syria is as dangerous as covering the war inside Syria itself.

I worked in Jordan, writing about the refugees, but also about the cynicism of the Jordanian collaboration with the West. I worked in Iraq where, in a camp near Erbil, the Syrian people were forced by both the NGO and the UN staff, to denounce President Assad, if they wanted to receive at least some basic services. And, of course, I worked in Lebanon, where more than one million Syrian people have been staying; often facing unimaginably terrible conditions as well as discrimination (many are now going back).

And now that I was finally inside, it all felt somehow surreal, but it felt right.

Syria appeared to be as I expected it to be: heroic, brave, determined, and unmistakably socialist.

*****

Homs: total destruction

Homs. Before I went there, I thought that nothing could surprise me, anymore. I have worked all over Afghanistan, in Iraq, Sri Lanka, East Timor. But soon I realized that I had seen nothing, before I visited Homs.

The destruction of several parts of the city is so severe that it resembles the surface of another planet, or a fragment from some apocalyptic horror film.

People climbing through the ruins, an elderly couple visiting what once used to be their apartment, a girl’s shoe that I find in the middle of the road, covered by dust. A chair standing in the middle of an intersection, from which all four roads lead towards the horrid ruins.

Homs is where the conflict began.

My friend Yamen explained to me, as we were driving towards the center:

Here, the media ignited hatred; mostly the Western mass media. But also, there were the channels from the Gulf: Al-Jazeera, as well as television and radio stations from Saudi Arabia. Sheik Adnan Mohammed al-Aroor was appearing, twice a week, on a television program which was telling people to hit the streets, banging on pots and pans; to fight against the government.

Homs is where the anti-government rebellion began, in 2011. The anti-Assad propaganda from abroad soon reached a crescendo. The opposition was ideologically supported by the West and by its allies. Rapidly, the support became tangible, and included weapons, ammunition, as well as thousands of jihadi fighters.

A once tolerant and modern city (in a secular country), Homs began changing, getting divided between the religious groups. Division was followed by radicalization.

My good friend, a Syrian who now lives in both Syria and Lebanon, told me his story:

I was very young when the uprising began. Some of us had certain legitimate grievances, and we began protesting, hoping that things could change for better. But many of us soon realized that our protests were literally kidnapped from abroad. We wanted a set of positive changes, while some leaders outside Syria wanted to overthrow our government. Consequently, I left the movement.

He then shared with me his most painful secret:

In the past, Homs was an extremely tolerant city. I am a moderate Muslim, and my fiancé was a moderate Christian. We were very close. But the situation in the city was changing rapidly, after 2011. Radicalism was on the raise. I repeatedly asked her to cover her hair when she was passing through the Muslim neighborhoods. It was out of concern, because I was beginning to clearly see what was happening around us. She refused. One day, she was shot, in the middle of the street. They killed her. Life was never the same again.

In the West, they often say that the Syrian government was at least partially responsible for destruction of the city. But the logic of such accusations is absolutely perverse. Imagine Stalingrad. Imagine foreign invasion; an invasion supported by several hostile fascist powers. The city fights back, the government tries to stop the advancement of the troops of the enemy. The fight, terrible, an epic fight for the survival of the nation goes on. Who is to blame? The invaders or the government forces who are defending their own fatherland? Can anyone accuse the Soviet troops for fighting in the streets of their own cities that were attacked by the German Nazi isis?

Perhaps the Western propaganda is capable of such ‘analyses’, but definitely no rational human being.

The same logic as to Stalingrad, should also apply to Homs, to Aleppo, and to several other Syrian cities. Covering literally dozens of conflicts ignited by the West all over the world (and described in detail in my 840-page long book Exposing Lies Of The Empire, I have no doubts: the full responsibility for the destruction lies on the shoulders of the invaders.

*****

I face Mrs. Hayat Awad in an ancient restaurant called Julia Palace. This used to be the stronghold of the terrorists. They occupied this beautiful place, located in the heart of the old city of Homs. Now, things are slowly coming back to life here, at least in several areas of the city. The old market is functioning, the university is open, and so are several government buildings and hotels. But Mrs. Hayat lives in both past and the future.

 

Mrs. Hayat Awad

Mrs. Hayat lost her son, Mahmood, during the war. His portrait is always with her, engraved into a pentel she is wearing on her chest.

He was only 21 years old, still a student, when he decided to join the Syrian army. He told me that Syria is like his mother. He loves her, as he loves me. He was fighting against the Al-Nusrah Front, and the battle was very tough. At the end of the day he called me, just to say that the situation was not good. In his last call he just asked me to forgive him. He said: ‘Maybe I am not going to come back. Please forgive me. I love you!’

Are there many mothers like her, here in Homs, those who lost their sons?

Yes, I know many women who lost their sons; and not just one, sometimes two or three. I know a lady who lost her two only sons. This war took everything from us. Not only our children. I blame the countries which supported the extreme ideologies injected into Syria; countries like the United States and those in Europe.

After I am done filming, she thanks Russia for their support. She thanks all the countries that have stood by Syria during those difficult years.

Celebrating birthday of prophet Mohammed in Homs

Not far from Julia Palace, reconstruction work is in full swing. And just a few steps away, a renovated mosque is re-opening. People are dancing, celebrating. It is Prophet Mohammed’s birthday. The Governor of Homs marches towards the festivities, with the members of his government. There is almost no security around them.

If the West does not unleash yet another wave of terror against its people, Homs should be just fine. Not right away, perhaps not soon, but it will be, with the resolute help of the Russians, Chinese, Iranian and other comrades. Syria itself is strong and determined. Its allies are mighty.

I want to believe that the most terrible years are over. I want to believe that Syria has already won.

But I know that there is still Idlib, there are also pockets occupied by Turkish and Western forces. It is not over, yet. The terrorists have not been fully defeated. The West will be shooting its missiles. Israel will be sending its air force to brutalize the country. And the mass media outlets from the West and the Gulf, will continue fighting the media war, agitating and confusing certain segments of the Syrian people.

Still, as I leave Homs, I see shops and even boutiques opening in the midst of the rubble. Some people are dressing up, elegantly again, in order to show their strength; their determination to put the past behind them and to live, once again, their normal lives.

*****

Returning to Damascus, the motorway is in perfect condition and the industrial area in Hassia is getting rebuilt and amplified, too. There is a huge power plant, supported by the Iranians, I am told. Despite the war, Syria is still supplying neighboring Lebanon with electricity.

Yamen drives at 120 km/h and we joke that once we get scared of possible speed traps, instead of snipers, we know that the situation in the country is dramatically improving.

A Russian military convoy is parked at a rest area. Soldiers are drinking coffee. There is no fear. Syrians treat them as if they were their own people.

I see the most spectacular sunset, over the desert.

Then, once again, we pass through Harasta. This time at night.

I want to curse. I don’t; cursing is too easy. I need to get to my computer, soon. I have to write; to work. A lot, the best I can.

*****

It is easy to feel at home in Syria. Maybe because Russian is my mother-tongue or perhaps because people here know that I have always stood by their country.

Some bureaucratic hindrances got resolved, quickly.

Working with Syrian Minister of Education, Dr. Hazwan Al-Waz

I met the outgoing Minister of Education, Dr. Hazwan Al-Waz, who is a fellow novelist. We spoke about his writing, about his latest book “Love and War.” He confirmed what I always knew, as a revolutionary novelist:

During the war, everything is political, even love.

And then something that I will never forget:

My Ministry of Education has been, in fact, the Ministry of Defense.

Last night in Damascus I walked all over the old city, till early morning. At one point, I arrived near the spectacular Umayyad Mosque, finding, right behind it, the mausoleum of Sultan Saladin.

I could not enter. At this late-night hour it was locked. But I could easily see it through the metal bars of the gate.

This brave commander and leader fought against the huge armies of the Western invaders – the Crusaders – winning almost every single battle, finding his peace and final resting place here in Damascus.

I paid tribute to this ancient fellow internationalist, and I wondered, over a strong coffee in a nearby stall, in the middle of the night: “Did Saladin participate in this latest epic battle fought by the Syrian nation against the hordes of the foreign barbarians?”

Perhaps his spirit did. Or, more likely, some battles were fought and won with his name on lips.

‘I will be back,’ I uttered, walking back towards my hotel, few minutes after midnight. Two massive furry cats accompanide me, following my steps until the first corner. ‘I will be back very soon’.

Syria is standing. That’s what really matters. It never fell on its knees. And it never will. We will not allow it to fall.

And damned be imperialism!

• All photos by Andre Vltchek

• First published by NEO – New Eastern Outlook

Children: Civilization’s Future, Victims of Western Brutality

The United Nations Universal Children’s Day – 20 November – has come and gone and nothing has changed. No action that would now protect children any more than before, no move even by the UN to call on nations at war to take special care to protect children if for nothing else but the fact that children are our planet’s future. They are the standard bearer of human generations to come and of our civilization as a whole, if we don’t run it into the ground. Yet, children are among the most vulnerable, discriminated and abjectly exploited and abused species within human kind.

The culture of greed and instant profit has no space for children, for their rights, for their up-bringing within a frame of human rights, fair education, access to shelter and health services everywhere. For much of our western society, children are a nuisance, at best, a tool for cheap labor, especially when the west outsources its production processes to poor developing countries, mostly in Asia and Central America, so poor that they cannot enforce laws against child labor, all to maximize corporate profits.

Otherwise the western driven killing and war machine indiscriminately slaughters children, by famine, by drones, by bombs, by disease, by abuse. Collateral damage? I doubt it. Children could be protected, even in illegal wars. But eradicating by death and poverty entire generations in nations the west intends to subdue has a purpose: rebuilding of these nations will not take place under the watch of educated children, grown adults, who would most likely oppose their ‘hangmen’, those that have destroyed their homes and families, their villages and towns, their schools and hospital, their drinking water supply systems, leaving them to the plight of cholera and other diseases brought about by lack of hygiene and sanitation. So, in the interest of the empire and its puppet allies, children’s calamities and crimes on them are at best under reported. In most cases nobody even cares.

Look at Syria. The poison gas attacks instigated by US and NATO forces, carried out by their proxies ISIS and Saudi Arabia, to blame them on President Bashar al-Assad, were directed at children for greater public relations impact, further helped by the fake heroes, the White Helmets. Can you imagine! (I’m sure you can!) Children have to be poisoned and killed by western forces who want to topple the Syrian Assad regime to put their puppet in Assad’s place, so that they can control the country and eventually the region. Yes, children are sacrificed – a huge crime against humanity – to commit another horrendous international crime – forcefully change a democratically elected regime. That’s what the west does and is – and probably always was for the last 2000 years.

Take the situation of Yemen, where for the last 3 ½ years the network of the world’s biggest mafia killer scheme, led by Saudi Arabia, as the patsy and foreign money funnel aiding the United States and her allies in crime, the UK, France, Spain, several of the Gulf States, until recently also Germany, and many more – has killed by bombs, starvation and cholera induced by willingly destroyed water supply and sanitation systems, maybe hundreds of thousands of children.

According to Save the Children, some 85,000 children below 5 years of age may have already died from famine; mind you, a purposefully induced famine, as Saudi and Gulf forces destroyed and blocked the port of Hodeida, where about 80% – 90% of imported food enters the country. The most vulnerable ones, as with every man-made disaster, are children and women.

Already a year ago, the UN warned that the cholera outbreak in Yemen is the fastest spreading cholera epidemic since records began and that it will affect at least a million people, including at least 600,000 children. A year later – how many of them have died? Extreme food shortages, destroyed shelters and hospitals, lack of medication, as medicine is also blocked at the points of import, have reduced children’s natural immune systems even further.

Imagine the suffering caused not just to the children, but to their parents, families, communities! What the west is doing is beyond words. It’s beyond crime; and all those ‘leaders’ (sic) responsible will most likely never face a criminal court, as they are controlling all the major justice systems in the world. Though, no justice could make good for the killing and misery, but at least it could demonstrate that universal crime – as is the war on Yemen and many others fought for greed and power – is not tolerated with impunity.

UNHCR – the UN refugee agency — reports that worldwide some 70 million refugees are on the move or in refugee camps. This figure does not include a large number of unreported cases, perhaps up to a third more. Most of the refugees are generated in the Middle East by western initiated wars; wars for greed, for natural resources, for controlling a geopolitically and strategically important region on the seemingly ‘unstoppable’ way to full power world dominance.

At least two thirds of the refugees are children – no health care, no education, no suitable shelter, or none at all, malnourished-to-starving, raped, abused, enslaved – you name it.

Where do all these children go? What is their future? There will be societies – Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan – missing a full generation. The countries are suffering a gap in educated people. This wanton gap will likely prevent rebuilding and developing their nations according to their sovereign rights. These countries are easier to control, subdue and enslave.

Just imagine, many of the lost children pass under the radar of human statistics, ignored, many of them are totally abandoned, no parents, no family, nobody to care for them, nobody to love them – they may quietly die – die in the gutters, unknown, anonymous. We – the brutal west – let them.

And the UN-declared Children’s Day has come and gone and nothing has changed, Nothing will change as long as the west is devastating indiscriminately countries, cities, villages for sheer greed. Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan — never were threatening the United States, nor Israel, of course. But they have resources the west covets, or they are geopolitically of strategic importance – for step by bloody step advancing towards world hegemony.

According to the UN, about 300 million children around the world do not go to school. Again, the unreported figure is possibly double or higher, especially including those that attend school only sporadically. Many of the children are abducted, sold into slavery, prostitution, imprisoned for medical testing and for use in orgies of blood thirsty secret societies, their organs harvested and traded by mafia type organizations. Organ trading allegations are levied against Israel’s armed forces killing thousands of children in Israel’s open prison and extermination camp, called Gaza; and against Ukraine’s Kiev Nazi Government.

Did you know, 60% of all children in Gaza are mutilated and amputated as a result of Israel’s war against the Palestine population? And the world looks on, not daring to protest and stand up against this criminal nation – God’s chosen people.

In the UK, 1 of 4 children live in poverty. In the US, 60 million children go to bed hungry every night. As I write these lines, at the US-Mexican border refugee children and their mothers are being shot at with teargas canons by US police and military forces, to prevent them from entering Mr. Trump’s Holy Land, the Great United States of America.

The former UN Secretary General, Koffi Annan, winner of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize, referring to the horrific siege on Aleppo and calling for international action to stop the war, said:

The assault on Aleppo is an assault on the whole world. When hospitals, schools and homes are bombed indiscriminately, killing and maiming hundreds of innocent children, these are acts that constitute an attack on our shared, fundamental human values. Our collective cry for action must be heard, and acted upon, by all those engaged in this dreadful war.

But, how could the world of today be described better than by Caitlin Johnstone in her recent poem “Welcome to Planet Earth”, where she says:

Welcome to Planet Earth…… where children who do not know how to live, teach their children how to live; where children pray for miracles, using minds that are made of miracles; with clasped hands that are made of miracles; where children wander in search of God, upon feet that are made of God, looking with eyes that are made of God.

Where have all the children gone?

• First published in New Eastern Outlook (NE0)

Why is the West Keeping Silent About the Chemical Attack in Syria?

Once again, prohibited chemical weapons have been used in Syria — specifically shells filled with chlorine gas. Despite the significant number of casualties, however, the attack was not met with the usual outcry. World leaders remained tight-lighted with only Macron deciding to break the silence. This is easily explained since the West has good reason to keep schtum.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, residential areas of Aleppo were bombarded with 120 mm mortar shells filled with chlorine gas, resulting in more than 100 people seeking medical treatment. Women and children were among those hospitalised and everyone complained of breathing difficulties.

Aleppo is Syria’s largest city and one of the oldest in the world. It was divided in half during the civil conflict and the military operation to liberate the half occupied by militants was one of the most important carried out by government forces and became a major turning point in the war as a whole. At that time, the city was under the international spotlight for several months and the West regularly accused Damascus of allegedly committing numerous war crimes and crimes against humanity in order to gain time for the so-called moderate opposition. The areas under its control were next to those held by outright terrorists.

By December 2016, it was all over. Reports on “Assad’s atrocities” turned out to be false, while some of the militants leaving Aleppo were transferred to Idlib province by agreement with the government. A large number of diverse groups have settled there over the many years of conflict, each of which is now getting on with life.

If there had been reports of a chemical attack back then, when militants still held part of Aleppo, there would have been a huge outcry. The Assad regime would have been blamed immediately and it probably would have been a casus belli – yet another reason for the Western military coalition to attack Syrian forces.

The chemical attack happened now, however, when Aleppo has been under government control for two years. The shells came from the direction of the Idlib “sanctuary”, where the front line is. Nobody is going to believe that government forces are firing chemical weapons at their own rear units, so the Western community, including many human rights organisations, have met the attack on Aleppo with a deathly silence.

The first Western leader to make a statement on the subject was French President Emmanuel Macron. “France condemns any use of chemical weapons,” stated Macron the day after the incident, including in the Syrian city of Aleppo. He added that he would be discussing the situation with his international partners.

Incidentally, Paris was once one of the driving forces behind the West’s intervention in the Syrian civil war on the side of the armed opposition. Another of these driving forces during the battle for Aleppo was Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who accused Assad of carrying out “a genocide against his own people”. Ankara pursued its own interests during the conflict, but after the situation on the front lines was reversed in favour of Damascus, Turkey tempered its appetite and was forced to agree with Russia’s plan for a Syrian settlement.

The so-called “de-escalation zone” in Idlib where the chlorine-filled shells came from is one of Turkey’s areas of responsibility. The most difficult questions regarding the attack should therefore be addressed to Ankara, in other words.

Those behind the chemical attack have already been established. According to Aleppo police chief Essam al-Shali, the attack was carried out by terrorists from Jabhat al-Nusra, a local branch of al-Qaeda. This refers to the militant group Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, one of the many rebrandings of al-Nusra.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry is blaming the attack on the West. “This terrorist act comes as [a] result of facilitations provided by some countries to deliver chemicals to armed terrorist groups to use them against Syrian people and to accuse [the] Syrian Government,” stated the foreign ministry’s press office.

Previously, the White Helmets were actively involved in events related to the use of chemical weapons in Syria. This organisation, which diligently disguises itself as a human rights organisation but actually acts in the interests of terrorists, has, for many years, been portrayed as one of the biggest heroes of the Syrian war. Its activities have even been the subject of an Oscar-winning documentary film. Interest in the White Helmets began to wane with the advance of Syrian forces, however, especially after they were caught red-handed falsifying a chemical attack.

Whether all this means that the White Helmets, who are now cornered in Idlib, have moved from staging chemical attacks to organising real ones is an open question. It has been known for a while that Jabhat al-Nusra has its own chemical weapons and so does not need this kind of help from the White Helmets.

If their involvement in the attack on Aleppo is proved, however, and especially if the Syrian Foreign Ministry’s claim regarding the origin of the militants’ chemical arsenal turns out to be true, then the notion of the White Helmets will be completely turned on its head, as will the role of the American-led coalition in the Syrian conflict.

The laws of the information war surrounding Syria are proving to be even more cynical than the laws of the actual war going on in Idlib. In an information war, whoever shouts the loudest wins, but this shout may be far removed from the actual state of affairs on the ground. The successes of the Syrian army have gone some way towards altering the perception of the Syrian conflict, but exposing the “massacre on the streets of Aleppo” as fake and uncovering the sham nature of the White Helmets’ activities has changed absolutely nothing. America’s refusal to finance the latter was nothing to do with the reputational risk associated with such fake activities, but was one of Donald Trump’s direct campaign promises to spend less on supporting the Syrian opposition and prevent members of the Syrian opposition from relocating to the US (immigration to the West was one of the White Helmets’ biggest motivations, many of whom are now in Britain).

It would be far too optimistic to expect that the attack on Aleppo will make Washington and Brussels look at the Syrian war differently. The use of chemical weapons and the description of other war crimes by one side or another are nothing more than a backdrop to international negotiations, the focus of which has nothing to do with humanitarian beliefs, but rather each country’s own narrow interests that even outright thugs with chlorine-filled bombs may serve to advance.

While some kind of benefit can be squeezed out of them, neither chlorine gas, nor genocide, nor mass executions will discredit them. But they can still be destroyed physically.

Fact-Checking the Establishment’s “Fact-Checkers”: How the “Fake News” Story is Fake News

It would be an understatement to say that during U.S. President Donald Trump’s term in office, the issue of truth and falsehoods has been a central topic of political discourse. It was a reoccurring issue throughout the 2016 election and has only continued following his unlikely triumph. While naïve liberals who fetishize Trump would have us believe he is the first political figure to ever lie routinely, the real radical departure of the numerous false statements that seemed to propel, rather than hinder, his success was their lack of refinement and unpredictability.

Shortly after Trump took the oath of office, campaign manager Kellyanne Conway infamously used the phrase “alternative facts” while defending Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s dispute of the attendance drop at the inauguration ceremony from predecessor Barack Obama. The low-hanging fruit of Conway’s remarks were widely interpreted as an instance of ‘Orwellian doublespeak’, but the kernel of truth in them was missed by the self-styled ‘respectable’ media of the establishment who hide behind a guise of objectivity and self-appointed expertise while positioning themselves as omniscient arbiters of truth. Spicer’s claim was indeed an obvious lie, yet the general accuracy of Conway’s point was that what one considers ‘factual’ often comes down to worldview.

For the U.S. political establishment, there is only one acceptable worldview. The terrifying significance of Trump’s victory, which defied their so-called expert polling and turned the New York Times forecast needle 180-degrees, is that the propaganda arm of mainstream media has become irrelevant and the American political system is collapsing. Hillary Clinton’s defeat was the culmination of a steady, inevitable process as evening news audiences have been shrinking for years while print media has approached near obsolescence. Simultaneously, more and more people are turning to alternative sources for news and information, albeit some of it unfortunate.

The introduction of the term “fake news” into the political lexicon has been deliberate and is a desperate attempt by the establishment to maintain its grip on the flow of knowledge. It was strategically re-appropriated by Trump himself, who frequently accuses mainstream media of reporting misinformation. Unfortunately, what he deems “fake news” is merely that which undermines him politically or personally, but there is a truth at the core of his crude attacks on the press. Trump’s labeling of mainstream media as “the enemy of the people” was unintentionally accurate only because he was referring to that which undercuts his own power. Nevertheless, it is an appropriate label considering that 90% of mass media — newspapers, magazines, books, radio, television, film studios, and internet news content — is owned by just six conglomerates in General Electric, News Corp, CBS, Disney, Viacom and Time Warner. Some like G.E. are contracted by the Pentagon.

Frankfurt School critical theorists Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno once wrote of ‘the culture industry’, or how the mechanized standardization of popular culture homogenizes everyday life under capitalism. They would likely cringe at the very idea of the “fake news” phenomenon, which implies that what mass media typically produces is “real.” A billionaire reality television star becoming President is itself the perfect apotheosis of a society governed by a deceptive mass media rendering it docile. Unsurprisingly, the fourth estate was only interested in superficially reducing Trump’s attack on their credibility to his propensity to behave like a despot, something which in their counterfeit world only exists in other countries.

Not only does mass media provide the public with what comic George Carlin called an ‘illusion of choice’, but it acts as a dictation machine for the military-industrial complex. Most notably, virtually all the major news outlets parroted the lies of the Bush administration with its fabrication of evidence that Iraq possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction to sell the U.S. invasion of Baghdad in 2003. Its monumental failure to hold the Bush administration accountable has directly correlated with the rapidly declining public trust in the media ever since. Perhaps the reason the phrase resonated with voters during the election is because it generally acknowledged the enormous gap between the reported world and the actual one they live in. The late Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky wrote the definitive manual on the media’s propaganda function and social engineering in Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media.

In reality, the phrase “fake news” was inserted into the mass political consciousness by the leading US spy agencies, who clearly favored a Clinton victory, through mass media to stoke fears of ‘domestic disinformation’ being spread on social networks by the Russian government. Just as in the lead-up to the Iraq War, major news outlets have simply repeated, instead of scrutinizing, the intelligence community’s unproven claims that Moscow manipulated voters by spreading ‘disinformation’ to influence the election. As a result, the meaning of the expression has been redefined to discredit any news from a political viewpoint that challenges the status quo. The media’s strings have been pulled by a modern equivalent of the C.I.A.’s Operation Mockingbird influence campaign during the Cold War which appears to have been resurrected for its sequel.

Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton, was equally responsible for the idiom’s ubiquitous usage and weaponized it in the same manner — not to identify actual disinformation, but to denote any claims, true or false, which tarnished her image. Clinton dismissed the significance of the WikiLeaks release of transcripts of her speeches to Goldman Sachs and leaked emails which exposed her conspiring with the Democratic National Committee for the party’s nomination against her primary opponent, Bernie Sanders. As a diversion, the genuine leaks were conflated with wild speculation on the right-wing fringe about her health and a debunked conspiracy about a child sex ring at a D.C. pizzeria. However, Clinton and the media never disputed the leak origins and authenticity.

This left the American voter a choice between a far right demagogue speaking to their confused grievances, or a career politician with close ties to a constellation of global financiers who professed to be a champion of women’s rights as she accepted millions from Persian Gulf monarchies that stone women to death for committing adultery. Unfortunately for Hillary, it was easy to tell she would be more comfortable at a Bilderberg Group meeting than at your local feminist bookstore. None of this is to say that Trump isn’t cut from the same cloth, but he expertly cast himself as an outsider up against an elite and they played right into his hand.

The foremost purveyor of truly damaging false news has been liberal flagship, the Washington Post. Owned by the world’s wealthiest man in technocrat Jeff Bezos, whose company Amazon provides the C.I.A. with its cloud infrastructure through a $600 million contract with the Defense Department, it is structurally incompatible for such an asset to ever be critical of the military-industrial complex without working against its financial incentive. Despite that enormous and undisclosed conflict of interest, the Post openly collaborated with the C.I.A. to leak unverified claims by anonymous officials that Russia ‘cyber meddled’ to undermine the democratic process in favor of a Trump victory. In a paradigm of yellow journalism, WaPo published such unreliable hearsay uncritically while keeping the evidence and sources entirely secret. They presented the accusations as if they should be taken at face value based on the intelligence community’s supposed infallibility, as if to wipe clean the collective memory of the Iraq War and the disclosures of the NSA’s global surveillance program.

The Washington Post also promoted PropOrNot, an anonymously written website that labeled dozens of news sites, some of which this author has written for, as “routine peddlers of Russian propaganda.” The site alleges that the spreading of articles by the targeted outlets somehow influenced the election, when the overlapping characteristic between the pages smeared was not support for Donald Trump or opposition to Hillary Clinton, but a critical regard for U.S. foreign policy across the political spectrum. PropOrNot also advertises a section entitled ‘related projects’ which mostly lists similar “fact-checking” websites promoted by Google and Facebook. Pseudo-analysis of news has become another weapon of choice for the establishment’s psychological warfare, but unlike grassroots watchdog groups who hold journalism under a critical microscope such as Media Lens and Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, “fact-checking” sites mechanically repeat the pre-approved narratives of corporate media without exception.

The referees of truth endorsed by big tech all don the misleading disclaimer that they have no political affiliations or funding from biased organizations. Take, for instance, the highly cited FactCheck.org, owned by the Annenberg Public Policy Center and bankrolled by its endowment, the Annenberg Foundation. The late billionaire publishing tycoon Walter H. Annenberg is perhaps most known for his massive painting collection donated to prominent museums and his financial support for the arts. However, he spent much of his life in philanthropy for the purpose of rehabilitating the family reputation tarnished by his crooked father, Moses “Moe” Annenberg, who was convicted in one of the largest tax fraud cases in U.S. history during the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration.

Moe Annenberg started his career working for newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst as a distribution manager where he hired mobsters like Lucky Luciano to terrorize their competitors. He later became a media mogul himself using the same illicit tactics until he was indicted for his financial misconduct in 1939. The young Walter Annenberg worked for his father and initially faced similar charges, but they were dropped after the elder Annenberg pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years in prison. While his father took the rap, Walter Annenberg was free to continue to build the family fortune and eventually a media empire, using his riches to carry on the family legacy of tax evasion in the form of charitable donations. The scam of philanthropy is a practice typical of the ultra-wealthy who mask their influence on global affairs under the phony banner of altruism.

Walter Annenberg later became a diplomat as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom under President Richard Nixon and was even knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, whom he frequently hosted at the Annenberg family’s 200-acre estate along with numerous other figures in high society, from Ronald and Nancy Reagan to the deposed Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza. Despite FactCheck.org’s endorsement from Silicon Valley oligarchs as an impartial source, it turns out the Annenberg Foundation also made huge financial donations to the Clinton Foundation over the years and could not be more in the service of the powers that be.

Google also advertises the U.S.-government funded Polygraph.info as a reputable source, a site launched by the C.I.A.’s Radio Free Europe/Free Liberty and Voice of America “news” organizations. RFE/FL is currently based in Prague but was previously headquartered in West Germany during the Cold War where it broadcast its anti-communist propaganda to undermine the Soviet Union. Polygraph.info now serves a similar purpose of information warfare in cyberspace for the revived Cold War 2.0 while presenting itself as a fact-checking source to counter “Russian propaganda” outlets. The C.I.A. openly admitted the true character of Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty and its origins on its own website:

On June 1, 1949, a group of prominent American businessmen, lawyers, and philanthropists — including Allen Dulles, who would become Director of Central Intelligence in 1953 — launched the National Committee for Free Europe (NCFE) at a press release in New York. Only a handful of people knew that NCFE was actually the public face of an innovative “psychological warfare” project undertaken by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). That operation — which soon gave rise to Radio Free Europe — would become one of the longest running and successful covert action campaigns ever mounted by the United States.

Meanwhile, the most dubious of all the advocated verification sites is the popular domain Snopes.com. Snopes was founded in the mid-90s originally as Urban Legends Reference Pages, a site started by an apparently ordinary California couple, David and Barbara Mikkelson, to ‘debunk’ urban folklore. Its moniker comes from a fictional family in the Snopes trilogy of novels by renowned modernist writer William Faulkner. In the series, the Snopes family consists of disturbed relatives who commit murder, pedophilia, bestiality, pornography, racism, theft, corruption and other misdeeds. Thus, anyone ‘exposed’ by the site making claims it determines to be false are likened to a seedy member of the Snopes family.

Despite its bottom-up outward appearance, the site never breaks from mainstream news accounts of events. For example, Snopes maintains that the well-documented allegations of ties between the volunteer rescue organization Syrian Civil Defense, AKA the White Helmets, and terrorist groups participating in the Syrian Civil War is “false.” It does not address that there are multiple videos of White Helmets members facilitating and participating in executions, celebrating with militants of Al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate Al-Nusra Front, and dumping the bodies of Syrian Arab Army soldiers. The issue is clearly still a matter of dispute among the journalism community as many credible figures, from Seymour Hersh to John Pilger, have expressed skepticism about the group, but Snopes per usual made a one-sided determination. It may be able to disprove tabloid fodder or the likes of Breitbart and InfoWars, but it is no authority on matters of geopolitics and should not be irresponsibly promoted as such. Maybe it should stick to its roots debunking popular myths about whether or not earwigs crawl into human ears.

Since the site expanded to include politics and world events, it became extremely popular over time and now averages millions of views. In the meantime, Barbara and David Mikkelson have gone through a bitter divorce and the latter has retained control of the site, hiring a team of assistants allegedly from its message board to replace his ex-wife. Although it claims to have a tiny staff, Snopes somehow manages to produce an extremely prolific amount of investigative articles. Given its scope and body of work, it is difficult to believe it is only receiving its financial support from ad revenue and GoFundMe campaigns alone or is as small an operation as it claims. Until recently it was in an ongoing legal battle with Proper Media, an advertising agency with a 50% stake in its ownership which for a time put its future in jeopardy.

Snopes does admit to accepting $100,000 from Facebook for participating in their fact-checking partnership effort following the 2016 election. Rather than being punished for its mishandling of the private information of tens of millions of profiles, the social media giant is being rewarded for its failure to protect user privacy from data breaching. Earlier this year, Facebook announced it had partnered with the Atlantic Council, an elite Washington think tank funded by the U.S. State Department, NATO, foreign governments like United Arab Emirates, weapons contractor Lockheed Martin, oil giant Chevron, and features Henry Kissinger on its board of directors. In a disturbing corporate-state collaboration, Silicon Valley has been empowered to be the umpire of determining authentic news and given the authority to stifle subversive content with no oversight or legal ramifications. All of this begs the question — who fact-checks the “fact checkers”? Who gets to determine what is or what isn’t “fake news”? The ruling elite, apparently.

In her memoir, Hillary Clinton made it clear what constitutes fake news — the release of her emails and transcripts of speeches revealing her corruption and subservience to Wall Street. WikiLeaks’ reporting was never impugned, however, therefore what constitutes “fake news” is actually real news or anything that threatens those in power. Instead of encouraging media literacy, the working class is regarded with utter disdain by the establishment who have made clear they must control what the public is allowed to see because they can no longer be trusted to make the correct decision; i.e., vote for the candidate favored by the military-intelligence apparatus. The true purpose behind the “fact-checking” PSY-OP is to stigmatize criticism of the neocon political establishment as a whole and liken anyone who does so to those who believe global warming is a hoax or that the earth is flat.

Unsurprisingly, it turns out that Trump, like Barack Obama before him, has only expanded the U.S. war machine as President. Unlikely it may seem to many, however, during the campaign he was the ‘peace candidate’ relative to Hillary Clinton. American voters certainly saw it that way and it may have just tipped the scales of the election. Last year, an academic study was released which made the argument entitled Battlefield Casualties and Ballot Box Defeat: Did the Bush-Obama Wars Cost Clinton the White House? Its summary states:

Increasingly, a divide is emerging between communities whose young people are dying to defend the country, and those communities whose young people are not. In this paper we empirically explore whether this divide — the casualty gap — contributed to Donald Trump’s surprise victory in November 2016. The data analysis presented in this working paper finds that indeed, in the 2016 election Trump was speaking to this forgotten part of America. Even controlling in a statistical model for many other alternative explanations, we find that there is a significant and meaningful relationship between a community’s rate of military sacrifice and its support for Trump. Our statistical model suggests that if three states key to Trump’s victory — Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin — had suffered even a modestly lower casualty rate, all three could have flipped from red to blue and sent Hillary Clinton to the White House.

One must ascribe to chaos theory to see the forest through the trees in the Trump era. The significance of his victory is that it has been an enormous ‘shock to the system’ where the permitted political space has been opened to anti-establishment narratives across the spectrum. A similar shakeup came ten years ago in the form of the financial crash and not coincidentally the Occupy Wall St. and the Tea Party emerged. While it has the unfortunate side effect of emboldening the worst elements on the far right, it also has the potential to revitalize a left that was, sans Occupy, largely dormant under Obama. Those in power are well aware and the current wave of censorship is not about preventing a Trump re-election so much as it is about neutralizing the left.

The failures of the left throughout the past century, more specifically that of socialism, can also come from within. Social democrats betrayed the working class and participated in the slaughter of WWI until the Bolsheviks ended it. The left of today must be willing to learn from its mistakes more quickly. For example, many have expressed excitement that Bernie Sanders is partnering with Greek economist Yanis Varoufakis to counter the rise of ultra-nationalism worldwide, as far rightist Jair Bolsanaro was just elected the President of Brazil. Yet the social democracy that Sanders and Varoufakis advocate is only the most modest New Dealism to reform capitalism and make it more humane. However relatively progressive it may seem, it will likely prove no match for either the ruling class or the up-and-coming wave of far right populism. The fact that Sanders uses the Nordic model should be enough to know their limitations. Although he wisely jumped ship, it was Varoufakis’ elected SYRIZA coalition in Greece which completely betrayed its constituency by capitulating to EU austerity and NATO expansion. History indicates that only a real alternative in genuine socialism and a working class willing to become militant will the promise of emancipatory politics ever be fulfilled.

Western Media Attacks Critics of the White Helmets

Introduction

The October 16 issue of NY Review of Books has an article by Janine di Giovani titled “Why Assad and Russia Target the White Helmets“. The article exemplifies how western media promotes the White Helmets uncritically and attacks those who challenge the myth.

Crude and Disingenuous Attack

Giovani’s article attacks several journalists by name. She singles out Vanessa Beeley and echoes the Guardian’s characterization of Beeley as the “high priestess of Syria propaganda”. She does this without challenging a single article or claim by the journalist. She might have acknowledged that Vanessa Beeley has some familiarity with the Middle East; she is the daughter of one of the foremost British Arabists and diplomats including British Ambassador to Egypt. Giovanni might have explored Beeley’s research in Syria that revealed the White Helmets founder (British military contractor James LeMesurier) assigned the name Syria Civil Defence despite the fact there is a real Syrian organization by that name that has existed since the 1950’s. For the past several years, Beeley has done many on-the-ground reports and investigations in Syria. None of these are challenged by Giovanni. Just days ago Beeley published a report on her visit to the White Helmets headquarters in Deraa.

Giovanni similarly dismisses another alternative journalist, Eva Bartlett. Again, Giovanni ignores the fact that Bartlett has substantial Middle East experience including having lived in Gaza for years. Instead of objectively evaluating the journalistic work of these independent journalists, Giovanni smears their work as “disinformation”. Presumably that is because their work is published at alternative sites such as 21st Century Wire and Russian media such as RT and Sputnik. Beeley and Bartlett surely would have been happy to have their reports published at the New York Review of Books, Newsweek or other mainstream outlets. But it’s evident that such reporting is not welcome there. Even Seymour Hersh had to go abroad to have his investigations on Syria published.

The New McCarthyism

Max Blumenthal is another journalist singled out by Giovanni. Blumenthal is the author of three books, including a New York Times bestseller and the highly acclaimed “Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel”. Giovanni describes his transition from “anti-Assad” to “pro-Assad” and suggests his change of perspective was due to Russian influence. She says, “Blumenthal went to Moscow on a junket to celebrate RT’s tenth anniversary. We don’t know what happened during that visit, but afterwards, Blumenthal’s views completely flipped.” Instead of examining the facts presented by Blumenthal in articles such as “Inside the Shadowy PR Firm that’s Lobyying for Regime Change in Syria“, Giovanni engages in fact-free McCarthyism. Blumenthal explained the transition in his thinking in a public interview. He also described the threats he experienced when he started to criticize the White Helmets and their public relations firm, but this is ignored by Giovanni.

Contrary to Giovanni’s assumptions, some western journalists and activists were exposing the White Helmets long before the story was publicized on Russian media. In spring 2015 the basic facts about the White Helmets including their origins, funding and role in the information war on Syria were exposed in my article “Seven Steps of Highly Effective Manipulators“. The article showed how the White Helmets were a key component in a campaign pushing for a “No Fly Zone” in Syria. It confirmed that the White Helmets is a political lobby force.

In spring 2016, Vanessa Beeley launched a petition “Do NOT give the Nobel Peace Prize to the White Helmets“. That petition garnered more support than a contrary petition urging the Nobel Prize committee to give the award to the White Helmets. Perhaps because of that, the petition was abruptly removed without explanation from the Change.org website. It was only at this time, with publicity around the heavily promoted nomination of the White Helmets for a Nobel Peace Prize that RT and other Russian media started to publicize and expose the White Helmets. That is one-and-a-half years after they were first exposed in western alternative media.

White Helmets and Chemical Weapons Accusations 

Giovanni ignores the investigations and conclusions of some of the most esteemed American journalists regarding the White Helmets and chemical weapons incidents in Syria.

The late Robert Parry published many articles exposing the White Helmets, for example “The White Helmets Controversy” and “Syria War Propaganda at the Oscars“. Parry wrote and published numerous investigations of the August 2013 chemical weapons attack and concluded the attacks were carried out by an opposition faction with the goal of pressuring the US to intervene militarily. Parry also challenged western conclusions regarding incidents such as April 4, 2017 at Khan Shaykhun. Giovanni breathlessly opens her article with this story while Parry revealed the impossibility of it being as described.

Buried deep inside a new U.N. report is evidence that could exonerate the Syrian government in the April 4 sarin atrocity and make President Trump look like an Al Qaeda dupe.

Legendary American journalist, Seymour Hersh, researched and refuted the assumptions of Giovanni and the media establishment regarding the August 2013 chemical weapons attacks near Damascus. Hersh’s investigation, titled “The Red Line and Rat Line“, provided evidence the atrocity was carried out by an armed opposition group with active support from Turkey. A Turkish member of parliament provided additional evidence. The fact that Hersh had to go across the Atlantic to have his investigation published suggests American not Russian disinformation and censorship.

In addition to ignoring the findings of widely esteemed journalists with proven track records, Giovanni plays loose with the truth. In her article she implies that a UN investigation blamed the Syrian government for the August 2013 attack. On the contrary, the head of the UN investigation team, Ake Sellstrom, said they did not determine who was responsible.

We do not have the evidence to say who did what ….The conflict in Syria is surrounded by a lot of rumors and a lot of propaganda, particularly when comes to the sensitive issue of chemical weapons.

First Responders or Western Funded Propagandists?

Giovanni says, “But the White Helmets’ financial backing is not the real reason why the pro-Assad camp is so bent on defaming them. Since 2015, the year the Russians began fighting in Syria, the White Helmets have been filming attacks on opposition-held areas with GoPro cameras affixed to their helmets.”

In reality, the ‘White Helmets” have a sophisticated media production and distribution operation. They have much more than GoPro cameras. In many of their movie segments one can see numerous people with video and still cameras. Sometimes the same incident will be shown with one segment with an Al Qaeda logo blending into the same scene with a White Helmets logo.

Giovanni claims “The Assad regime and the Russians are trying to neutralize the White Helmets because they are potential witnesses to war crimes.” However, the claims of White Helmet “witnesses” have little credibility. The White Helmet “volunteers” are paid three times as much as Syrian soldiers. They are trained, supplied and promoted by the same western states which have sought to regime change in Syria since 2011. An example of misleading and false claims by a White Helmets leader is exposed in Gareth Porter’s investigation titled “How a Syrian White Helmets Leader Played Western Media” . His conclusion could be directed to Giovanni and the NYReview of Books:

The uncritical reliance on claims by the White Helmets without any effort to investigate their credibility is yet another telling example of journalistic malpractice by media outlets with a long record of skewing coverage of conflicts toward an interventionist narrative.

When the militants (mostly Nusra/al Qaeda) were expelled from East Aleppo, civilians reported that the White Helmets were mostly concerned with saving their own and performing publicity stunts. For example, the photo of the little boy in east Aleppo looking dazed and confused in the back of a brand new White Helmet ambulance was essentially a White Helmet media stunt eagerly promoted in the West. It was later revealed the boy was not injured, he was grabbed without his parent’s consent. Eva Bartlett interviewed and photographed the father and family for her story “Mintpress Meets the Father of Iconic Aleppo Boy and says Media Lied About his Son“.

A Brilliant Marketing Success

The media and political impact of the White Helmets shows what money and marketing can do. An organization that was founded by a military contractor with funding from western governments was awarded the Rights Livelihood Award. The organization was seriously considered to receive the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize just three years after its formation.

The Netflix infomercial “The White Helmets” is an example of the propaganda. The scripted propaganda piece, where the producers did not set foot in Syria, won the Oscar award for best short documentary. It’s clear that lots of money and professional marketing can fool a lot of people. At $30 million per year, the White Helmets budget for one year is more than a decade of funding for the real Syrian Civil Defence which covers all of Syria not just pockets controlled by armed insurgents.

Unsurprisingly, it has been announced that White Helmets will receive the 2019 “Elie Wiesel” award from the heavily politicized and pro-Israel Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. This, plus the recent “rescue” of White Helmets by the Israeli government, is more proof of the true colors of the White Helmets. Vanessa Beeley’s recent interview with a White Helmet leader in Deraa revealed that ISIS and Nusra terrorists were part of the group “rescued” through Israel.

The Collapsing White Helmets Fraud

Giovanni is outraged that some journalists have successfully challenged and put a big dent in the White Helmets aura. She complains, “The damage the bloggers do is immense.”

Giovanni and western propagandists are upset because the myth is deflating. Increasing numbers of people – from a famous rock musician to a former UK Ambassador – see and acknowledge the reality.

As described in Blumenthal’s article, “How the White Helmets Tried to Recruit Roger Waters with Saudi Money“, rock legend Roger Waters says:

If we were to listen to the propaganda of the White Helmets and others, we would encourage our governments to start dropping bombs on people in Syria. This would be a mistake of monumental proportions…

Peter Ford, the former UK Ambassador to Syria, sums it up like this:

The White Helmets are jihadi auxiliaries… They are not, as claimed by themselves and by their supporters… simple rescuers. They are not volunteers. They are paid professionals of disinformation.

Giovanni claims her article is a “forensic take down of the Russian disinformation campaign to distort the truth in Syria.” In reality, Giovanni’s article is an example of western disinformation using subjective attacks on critics and evidence-free assertions aligned with the regime change goals of the West.