Aletho News


Is Vice President Garcia Cracking Down on Dissent in Bolivia?

By Federico Fuentes – teleSUR – September 11, 2015

Recent statements by Bolivia’s Vice President Alvaro Garcia regarding nongovernmental organisations in Bolivia have triggered a heated debate on the left.

At an Aug. 11 media conference, Garcia accused NGOs of acting like political parties seeking to interfere in Bolivia’s domestic affairs. While respecting their right to criticize government policies, Garcia said foreign-funded nongovernmental organisations needed to understand their place within Bolivian society.

“Does this group of comrades have the right to form an NGO and produce and publish what they want? Of course they have the right to do this, but foreign NGOs do not have the right to come to Bolivia and say I am supporting Bolivia’s development while they do politics and defend the interests of transnationals,” he said.

He highlighted the fact that foreign companies and governments were the biggest backers of nongovernmental organisations. “What do we say to them?” he asked. “Finance in your own country, there is no need for you to come and interfere in our country, our relationship with foreign governments and companies is very clear: service in function of our policy and usefulness in function of a sovereign state; but not for the purposes of covert political action…”

Garcia said foreign governments were using NGOs to push policies that sought to stunt Bolivia’s development under the guise of protecting the environment. The four nongovernmental organisations Garcia singled out in particular during the media conference have been among the loudest critics of his government’s environmental policies.

In response, a number of academics from across the world signed an open letter stating concerns for what they viewed as “threats, which if they became a reality, would imply a grave blow in terms of restricting civil rights, among them, freedom of expression and association”. They argued the real issue Garcia had with these NGOs was that they had criticized his government’s shortcomings.

Others have defended these nongovernmental organisations on the basis of their role in promoting environmental struggles.

Contributing to the debate with an article on, Carmelo Ruiz said Garcia’s comments come at a time when falling commodity prices are exacerbating the contradictions of his government’s “progressive extractivist model”. Furthermore, he argued the Morales government was facing the threat of a rise in social and environmental protests.

Faced with this dilemma, Ruiz said critical voices had chosen to point out that “protest and repression is inevitable in extractivism”, while government spokespeople have preferred to blame discontent on “imperialist manipulations.”

Like Ruiz, many have tried to portray Garcia’s comments as something relatively new. However, his criticisms of NGOs predate his election to office or recent conflicts with certain indigenous and environmental groups.

For example, Garcia criticized the role of NGOs in Sociology of Social Movements in Bolivia, a book many of his current critics still hold up as the most authoritative studies of its kind.

In a chapter focusing on the highlands indigenous organisation CONAMAQ, Garcia notes that nongovernmental organisation financing resulted in the organisation taking on certain “bureaucratic-administrative characteristics”. It also in part explained CONAMAQ’s propensity to act less like a social movement and more like a lobby group that sought to “negotiate and reach formal agreements with government institutions and multilateral support organisms.”

The book noted how in certain communities, NGOs had artificially propped up “ayllus” (which make up CONAMAQ’s base) to compete for local influence against more radical peasant unions.

Criticism of nongovernmental organisations’ role in co-opting and dividing social movements is also present in another book he co-authored, “We Are No Ones Toys.” Notably, they appear in a chapter dedicated to the conflict between indigenous groups and coca-growers in the Isiboro-Secure Indigenous Territory and National Park (TIPNIS).

In 2011, conflict between these sectors over a proposed highway through the TIPNIS boiled over to become an issue of national, and even international significance for the Morales government.

Throughout the chapter, a number of references are made regarding the heavy influence NGOs had over indigenous communities.

Commenting in the book on the role of nongovernmental organisations in TIPNIS, local coca-grower leader Feliciano Mamani makes many of the same criticisms Garcia Linera made more than half a decade later in his book Geopolitics of the Amazon.

Mamani said: “NGOs and other interests that come for our natural resources, control indigenous people through money… where ever there are natural resources there are hundreds of NGOs confusing indigenous peoples and making false declarations….”

Since coming into office, Garcia’s criticisms of nongovernmental organisations’ relationship with social movements have not changed, however his public critique of NGOs has broadened to encompass other issues.

Garcia has argued that nongovernmental organisations had a huge influence over government ministries prior to Morales election. He recounts: “When we came into government in 2006, we found an executive carved up and handed over to embassies and [NGOs]… We could not do anything without authorization either from the embassies… or certain NGOs.”

This was in large part due to the fact that international loans and aid made up about half of the state budget for public investment.

The Morales government was able to quickly assert its control over state institutions as a result of its policy of nationalizing natural resources. Increased revenue from resource extraction put the government in the position where it could set its own policies, free of dependency or interference by foreign governments or NGOs.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, nongovernmental organisations’ hostility towards the Bolivian government has paralleled its loss of influence over state policies.

All this is also part of the context within which Garcia’s comments need to be placed.

Framing the debate however, as though it is simply about a government hiding behind the rhetoric of national sovereignty to crackdown on opponents – or alternatively, viewing all government critics as stooges for imperialism – will only lead to a dialogue of the deaf.

For starters, it should not be too hard to defend free speech at the same time as respecting Bolivia’s sovereignty.

The left has always opposed attempts by governments to crackdown on free speech, and should continue to do so when this occurs. But this is separate to the issue of allowing foreign governments and corporation to do as they please on Bolivian soil.

It is one thing to shut down nongovernmental organisations or jail opponents for what they say. Garcia has made it clear in his response to his critics that his government will not be closing down any NGO.

But it is quite another thing to deny the right of a sovereign government to control the flow of funds from hostile governments into its territory. Or is the left now going to argue that, in the name of “free speech”, foreign governments and corporations should be able to fund whoever they want in Bolivia?

We should use this opportunity to seriously discuss the various issues the debate has already thrown up. This includes, among others, the role of nongovernmental organisations in the Global South, how extractive industries have helped loosen foreign control over the Bolivian state, what alternative sources of funding might exist to enable this situation to remain, and what it would really take for Bolivia to overcome extractivism.

September 12, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, Economics, Environmentalism | , , , | Leave a comment

Despite Billion-Dollar Budget, Nuclear Regulatory Commission Cancels Project Studying Cancer near Nuclear Facilities

By Ken Broder | AllGov | September 12, 2015

A five-year federal pilot program to determine levels of contamination around eight nuclear facilities in the United States was cancelled this week because, apparently, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is already doing such a fine job of oversight.

“The NRC continues to find U.S. nuclear power plants comply with strict requirements that limit radiation releases from routine operations,” agency spokesman Scott Burnell wrote in defense of the decision. “The NRC and state agencies regularly analyze environmental samples from near the plants. These analyses show the releases, when they occur, are too small to cause observable increases in cancer risk near the facilities.”

There is nothing to see, so why waste the time and money. “The NRC determined that continuing the work was impractical, given the significant amount of time and resources needed and the agency’s current budget constraints.”

The cost was $8 million, $1.5 million of which has already been spent. The NRC has a budget of more than $1 billion. Results from the testing were not expected until at least the end of the decade. The study, led by National Academy of Sciences (NAS) researchers, was meant to update a 1990 National Cancer Institute (NCI) report that focused on cancer mortality, with limited occurrence of the disease in two states.

The NRC decided in 2007 to update the report and contacted the NAS to commence a two-phase study of cancer risks in populations living near NRC-licensed facilities. Phase 1 was to determine if doing the study was feasible. The conclusion reached in 2012 was “Yes.”

Phase 2 was to be broken into two parts: planning and execution. The commission killed it on Tuesday. Nuclear sites to be studied included active and decommissioned plants in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan and New Jersey. A nuclear fuel fabrication plant in Tennessee was also on the list.

Supporters of the program are not happy. “Study after study in Europe has shown a clear rise in childhood leukemia around operating nuclear power facilities, yet the NRC has decided to hide this vital information from the American public,” said Cindy Folkers, radiation and health specialist at Beyond Nuclear.

Folkers blamed nuclear industry manipulation. Beyond Nuclear points to the NRC staff recommendation (pdf) that the commission drop the program. The policy issue document mentions a cheaper, crummier project pitched by the president of the U.S. National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP), but the staff concludes that no study is worth doing.

U.S. Senator Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts), who pushed for the cancer study in 2009, also did not sound happy. He said,

“We need a thorough, accurate accounting of the health risks associated with living near nuclear facilities so residents can know if there are any adverse health impacts. But the NRC has decided to take a ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ approach to this public health concern by ceasing work on what could be a lifesaving cancer risk research study.”

To Learn More:

Cancer Risk Study Canceled at San Onofre (by Morgan Lee, San Diego Union-Tribune )

Regulators Halt Study of Cancer Risks at 7 Nuclear Plants (by Stephen Singer, Associated Press )

NRC Pulls Plug on Cancer Study near Nuclear Plants (by Christine Legere, Cape Cod Times )

Memo on Analysis of Cancer Risks in Populations near Nuclear Facilities Study (Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff) (pdf)

September 12, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Environmentalism, Nuclear Power | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Clashes erupt in Silwan after Israeli settler attacks 8-year-old boy

Ma’an – September 12, 2015

JERUSALEM – An Israeli settler attacked an 8-year-old Palestinian boy late on Friday in the Batn al-Hawa area of Silwan — a neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem — leading to clashes in the area, a local monitoring group told Ma’an.

The Wadi Hilweh Information Center, located in Silwan, said 8-year-old Zaid Abu Qweidir was attacked by a group of Israeli settlers in the neighborhood.

An Israeli police spokesperson did not immediately respond when asked for comment.

According to the center, a young Palestinian man witnessed the attack and moved to intervene, which quickly escalated into clashes between the two sides.

More than 20 Israeli settlers arrived on the scene, many of whom used pepper spray against Palestinians as young as five-years-old, the information center reported.

Witnesses said the Israeli attackers came out from a building which settlers had recently occupied.

After the attack, security guards of the settlement outpost, as well as Israeli forces, arrived to protect the settlers, witnesses said.

The forces fired tear gas canisters and stun grenades at Palestinians in the area.

The Wadi Hilweh center said at least 15 Palestinians were moderately to severely injured by pepper spray, including 60-year-old Abdullah Abu Nab and 14-year-old Mahdi al-Rajabi. Both were taken to al-Maqasid hospital in East Jerusalem for treatment.

Zaid Abu Qweidir, 8, Adam al-Rajabi, 9, Rahaf Abu Qweidir, 5, Udayy al-Rajabi, 12, Hamza al-Rajabi, 12, Yazan al-Rajabi, 14, Walid al-Shaer, 16, were lightly injured and received treatment at the scene. A pregnant woman, Asmaa al-Rajabi, 29, and 75-year-old Abu Adnan Gheith were also lightly injured.

Furthermore, a tear gas canister was shot into a home housing five children aged 7-months to 13-years-old, the information center said.

Silwan is one of many Palestinian neighborhoods in occupied East Jerusalem that is seeing an influx of Israeli settlers.

According to a statement released by the PLO Negotiations Affairs Department in August, illegal Israeli settlers have taken over 39 homes in Silwan, creating settlement enclaves in which approximately 400 Israeli settlers live.

September 12, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Israeli soldiers take over home of PA police chief in Nablus

Ma’an – September 11, 2015

QALQILIYA – Israeli military forces on Friday raided the house of Palestinian Authority police chief in Nablus, Abd al-Latif al-Qaddumi, and turned his home into a military outpost after evicting his wife and children.

PA police spokesperson Luay Irzeiqat told Ma’an that Israeli forces raided the home in Kafr Qaddum village and locked al-Qaddumi’s family in one room before declaring the property a military outpost.

Shortly afterward, Israeli forces expelled the family from the home and took it over.

Al-Qaddumi was not present at the time of the incident, with no further details about why Israeli forces seized the property.

On Sunday, Israeli forces held al-Qaddumi for more than an hour near the entrance of Hijja village west of Nablus, security sources told Ma’an.

They said that Israeli troops stopped the police chief on his way to Nablus police station and held him for more than an hour before releasing the police officer.

September 12, 2015 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , , | 2 Comments

Venezuelan Film in Indigenous Warao Language an Oscar Hopeful

Gone With the River, or Dauna: Lo que lleva el río in Spanish, directed by Venezuelan-based Cuban filmmaker Mario Crespo.

Gone With the River, or Dauna: Lo que lleva el río in Spanish, directed by Venezuelan-based Cuban filmmaker Mario Crespo. | Photo: Twitter | ‏@anagaly20
teleSUR | September 11, 2015

A Venezuelan movie spoken almost entirely in the Indigenous Warao language was selected last week to represent the country in the 2016 Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film.

The 10 members of the National Association of Cinematographic Authors unanimously chose the film on the Indigenous Warao tribe for “the universality of the theme, its cinematographic values, the poetic presence of nature, and the profound glance into the Warao culture,” El Universal reported.

Gone With the River, or Dauna: Lo que lleva el río in Spanish, directed by Venezuelan-based Cuban filmmaker Mario Crespo has already been selected earlier this year by the Berlin Film Festival for its “NATIVe” program, especially dedicated to films on Indigenous people.

The film tells the story of Dauna, a member of the Warao tribe who is forced to confront cultural norms and traditions after deciding to move away from her people located in the Orinoco delta to pursue academic interests.

“The story serves as a vehicle to speak to the audience about the need to understand multiculturalism, and understand that women, whether she is indigenous or wherever she is, have as much right as men to grow and excel,” the director said.

The film was shot at the Orinoco delta where the Warao people have historically been located and is spoken almost entirely in the Warao language.

Warao is spoken by about 28,000 people primarily in northern Venezuela, Guyana and Suriname.


Argentina Creates Indigenous Film School

September 12, 2015 Posted by | Film Review | , | Leave a comment

By Their Words Ye Shall Know Them: the US Goal in Cuba

US Embassy in Havana.
By W. T. Whitney | CounterPunch | September 11, 2015

U.S. political leaders are rethinking Cuba. Business leaders have spoken out. Public opinion favors ending hostilities, even among Cuban Americans. Foreign policy specialists hold that fixing relations with Cuba may boost the U.S. image throughout Latin America. But primarily, beating up on Cuba did not work. Or, as President Obama said on December 17, 2014, “I do not believe we can keep doing the same thing for over five decades and expect a different result.”

Official statements shed light on proposed new methods, but less is said about purpose. The question arises as to whether the ultimate U.S. goal is new or is more of the same. Obama called for “begin[ning] to normalize relations to replace “an outdated approach.” (1) He explained that, “we can do more to support the Cuban people and promote our values through engagement.” New methods will not “bring about a transformation of Cuban society overnight. [Yet] through a policy of engagement, we can more effectively stand up for our values and help the Cuban people help themselves.”

Obama focused as much on the Cuban people as on their political leaders: “We are calling on Cuba to unleash the potential of 11 million Cubans by ending unnecessary restrictions on their political, social, and economic activities.  In that spirit, we should not allow U.S. sanctions to add to the burden of Cuban citizens that we seek to help.” (In an offhand way he is acknowledging past grief visited upon the Cuban people.) But “[t]oday, the United States wants to be a partner in making the lives of ordinary Cubans a little bit easier, more free, more prosperous.” On July 1, 2015, while announcing that embassies would be opened, Obama noted that, “With this change, we will be able to substantially increase our contacts with the Cuban people.  We’ll have more personnel at our embassy.” (2)

A press release accompanying Obama’s presentation spells out the new direction: “The U.S. efforts are aimed at promoting the independence of the Cuban people so they do not need to rely on the Cuban state. (3)

Speaking in Havana on August 14 Secretary of State Kerry added that “Cuba’s future is for Cubans to shape. Responsibility for the nature and quality of governance and accountability rests, as it should, not with any outside entity; but solely within the citizens of this country … And just as we are doing our part” – presumably no longer harassing Cubans – Cuba’s government also ought to “make it less difficult for their citizens to start businesses, to engage in trade, access information online.” (4)

Official explanations say little about past grief and suffering in Cuba at U.S. hands, but rather gloss over actual measures invoked against the Cuban people. The term “isolation” crops up as a sort of proxy version of resulting hardships. “Isolation has not worked,” Obama said, and “Today, Cuba is still governed by the Castros and the Communist Party.” What the United States actually did to accomplish its ends in Cuba evolved from a plan that, on comparison with methods being advanced by the Obama Administration now, serves to clarify differences between then and now.

The subject line of a State Department memo of April 6, 1960, says, “The decline and fall of Castro.” (5) Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Lester D. Mallory writes that: “1.The majority of Cubans support Castro. 2. There is no effective political opposition…. 4. Communist influence is pervading the government … 6. The only foreseeable means of alienating internal support is through disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship. If the above are accepted …, it follows that every possible means should be undertaken promptly to weaken the economic life of Cuba. If such a policy is adopted, it should be the result of a positive decision which would call forth a line of action which, while as adroit and inconspicuous as possible, makes the greatest inroads in denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government.”

Mallory addressed his memo to the “Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs (Rubottom)” and asked if it should go to the Secretary of State. He received a green light, according to the record. Later that year President Eisenhower initiated economic sanctions.

In addition to what became an economic blockade for “denying money and supplies,” the United States resorted to military invasion, military incursions, bacteriologic warfare, terror attacks, and the Cuban Adjustment Act. The Obama administration is clearly going to be relying on new methods for achieving U.S. objectives.

Whether or not U.S. purposes are different is the main question. Mallory envisioned the “overthrow of government” and presumably his superiors did likewise. At the Summit of the Americas, in Panama, the President in April assured reporters that “On Cuba, we are not in the business of regime change.” Instead, “We are in the business of making sure the Cuban people have freedom and the ability to participate and shape their own destiny and their own lives, and supporting civil society.” (6)

Regime change implies separating an objectionable political leadership from a population and replacing it with a more friendly leadership. Seemingly the U.S. government now seeks to remove the Cuban people from their leaders. Heaping abuse on them did not accomplish the U. S. counter-revolutionary purpose. Now they will be independent of government, at least according to U. S. rhetoric on care and nurture for the Cuban people.

By forcing the U.S. government to do something different, Cuba scored a victory after 50 years of struggle. Now the United States will be trying to engineer a rift between people and political leaders in Cuba — presumably a short term objective. Silence prevails in regard to what happens later — in the long run. However, that silence and the foregoing words together say that the ultimate U.S. goal is as before, that the Cuban revolution will go away. In gentle words, Obama casts a soft light on U.S. counter-revolutionary resolve: “Decades of U.S. isolation of Cuba have failed to accomplish our enduring objective of promoting the emergence of a democratic, prosperous, and stable Cuba.”



W.T. Whitney Jr. is a retired pediatrician and political journalist living in Maine.

September 12, 2015 Posted by | Economics, Progressive Hypocrite | , , | 1 Comment

Protests or not, work on US base in Japan resumes

RT | September 12, 2015

The relocation process of a US military base in Japan’s Okinawa has been resumed, even though month-long talks between Tokyo and local authorities angered by the “troublesome neighbour” still haven’t broken the impasse.

The “concentrated discussions” on the project that faced fierce opposition of the locals ended in vain on Saturday and the construction works in Henoko, Okinawa, have now resumed, Japan’s Kyodo news agency reports.

The decision has sparked a wave of indignation among residents who demand the base to be shut down and rebuilt elsewhere in Japan or overseas. They took to the streets of Henoko, a small coastal area in Okinawa.

Their claim was backed by Takeshi Onaga, the outspoken governor of Okinawa, and other local officials.

“It was extremely regrettable. I will not let [the central government] build a new base in Henoko by any means,” the governor said.

The plan to move the US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from Ginowan to Henoko, which is the southern island of Okinawa, was first announced in 1996 and has since disturbed the local population.

During a meeting with Onaga in April Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe noted that “the relocation to Henoko is the only solution,” though it had been voiced more than once that the base posed a hazard to nearby residents’ lives and needed to be moved.

Japan has already been shaken by a number of protests against the relocation plan earlier this year. Thousands of protesters from as far as Hokkaido to Nagasaki condemned the Japanese government’s policy on the matter and demanded their voices to be heard.

Washington doesn’t plan on closing the facility in Ginowan, which is currently located in a crowded urban area, until it is replaced by a new one.

Meanwhile, Shinzo Abe’s ratings keep on going down as the situation with the US airbase is intensifying and parliament is discussing a bill aimed at promoting Japanese military’s role in the world’s geopolitics.


Japan halts construction of US base in Okinawa for ‘concentrated discussions’ with local authorities

US insists military bases will stay in Okinawa, despite opposition from locals, governor

September 12, 2015 Posted by | Environmentalism, Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , | 1 Comment

“Human Rights” front groups warring on Syria


By Eva Bartlett | September 12, 2015

Avaaz: “Avaaz is an online lobby organization founded in 2007 by Jeremy Heimans (now CEO of Purpose) and others. Start-up funding was provided by George Soros’ foundation. … they have been prominent in promoting neoliberal foreign policies in keeping with the U.S. State Department. … Avaaz very actively promoted a No Fly Zone in Libya. They are now very actively promoting the same for Syria. In-depth research and exposure of Avaaz can be found here. The titles give some indication: “Faking It: Charity Communications in the Firing Line”, “Syria: Avaaz, Purpose & the Art of Selling Hate for Empire”, “Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps for Militarism”. Avaaz justifies its call for No Fly Zone in part on White Helmets. Given the close interconnections between Avaaz and Purpose, they are surely aware that White Helmets is a media creation. This calls into question their sincerity.” [citation from: Seven Steps of Highly Effective Manipulators White Helmets, Avaaz, Nicholas Kristof and Syria No Fly Zone]

“Avaaz is the operational name of “Global Engagement and Organizing Fund,” a non-profit organization legally incorporated in 2006. Avaaz was founded by Res Publica, described as a global civic advocacy group, and, “an online community that has pioneered internet advocacy in the United States.”… The silent voice behind Avaaz, that of Res Publica, is, in the public realm, essentially comprised of 3 key individuals: Tom Perriello, a pro-war (former) U.S. Representative who describes himself as a social entrepreneur, Ricken Patel, consultant to many of the most powerful entities on Earth and the long-time associate of Perriello, and Tom Pravda, a member of the UK Diplomatic Service who serves as a consultant to the U.S. State Department…. In addition to receiving funding from the Open Society Institute, Avaaz has publicly cited the Open Society Institute as their foundation partner. This admission by founder Ricken Patel is found on the website. The Open Society Institute (renamed in 2011 to Open Society Foundations) is a private operating and grantmaking foundation founded by George Soros, who remains the chair. … Avaaz’s stance on both Libya (now annihilated) and now Syria is in smooth synchronicity with the positions within the U.S. administration, positions such as those vocalized by the likes of war criminals such as Hillary Clinton (of “We came. We saw. He died. Laughter…” fame). The ugly iron fist of war is gently being spoon-fed to the public by way of a very dark velvet glove – that being Avaaz.” [citation from: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II, Section I]

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

Hand in Hand for Syria: “The UK Charity Commission’s website states that Hand in Hand for Syria exists for “the advancement of health or saving lives”.  Until July 2014 the Facebook banner of Hand in Hand’s co-founder and chairman Faddy Sahloul read “WE WILL BRING ASSAD TO JUSTICE; NO MATTER WHAT LIVES IT TAKES, NO MATTER HOW MUCH CATASTROPHE IT MAKES”.  The image was removed shortly after it was commented on publicly. Also on Hand in Hand’s executive team is Dr Rola Hallam, one of the two medics featured in ‘Saving Syria’s Children’.  …On 30 August 2013, the day after the BBC’s initial report on the alleged Aleppo incendiary bomb attack, Dr Hallam appeared on BBC’s Newsnight programme expressing her profound disappointment at parliament’s rejection of a military strike against Syria. Dr Hallam’s father is Dr. Mousa al-Kurdi.  According to a 2013 article by Dr Saleyha Ahsan – the other Hand in Hand for Syria volunteer medic featured in ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ [3] – Dr al-Kurdi is “involved politically with the Syrian National Council”.” [citation from: UK Charity Which Shares Syrian Opposition “Aims and Objectives” Benefits from Alan Kurdi Tragedy]

Human Rights Watch: “Human Rights Watch (HRW) is an integral part of the West’s propaganda machine. HRW shapes the narratives of conflicts, narratives which become solidified through repetition, and which eventually become regarded as undeniable facts. Moreover, the language HRW employs, far from being simply stylistic choices, is deliberately utilized to obscure the reality of war zones in the service of the Empire. This is undoubtedly the case with the Israel/Palestine conflict where Israeli actions are never outright war crimes, while Palestinian ones are. It is equally true of Ukraine. This is also the case in Libya, Syria, and Venezuela, countries where HRW has played a critical role in constructing narratives in the interests of its financier and corporate paymasters, not to mention of course the US foreign policy agenda. In both Libya and Syria, HRW has played a critical role in propagandizing the western public against the governments of those countries, thereby justifying the imperialist assault on them. More than simply “collecting the facts,” HRW cobbled together a completely distorted, and in many cases utterly dishonest and factually wrong, narrative which has buttressed the case for “intervention” in Syria, as it did in Libya…. Human Rights Watch is undeniably an appendage of US foreign policy. It is in many ways part of the “soft power” arm of US power projection, a means of delegitimizing, demonizing, and otherwise destabilizing countries that do not play ball with the US.[citation from: HRW: Human Rights Watch or Hypocrites Representing Washington (Part 2)]

Ken Roth: “Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, has been vocal in his support for a full scale war on Syria in the name of humanitarianism. Roth has repeatedly called for intervention against the legal government of Syria, having recently tweeted statements such as “Like Sarajevo, could Douma market slaughter finally force Assad to stop targeting civilians?” (@KenRoth, Aug 16). The implication of the statement is quite clear: there should be military intervention, such as the US-NATO war on Yugoslavia and later Serbia, in order to stop the “slaughter” of civilians. It should be noted that this tweet was posted within hours of the news of the incident in Douma long before any investigation. Roth, and by extension his organization Human Rights Watch, further discredits whatever vestiges of impartiality he and HRW might have had with inane tweets such as “Douma market killings show how Assad chooses to fight this war: deliberately against civilians,” (@KenRoth, Aug 16), an obviously biased, and utterly unsubstantiated allegation. Roth could have absolutely no knowledge of either the identities of the dead, or the Syrian government’s motives, when he released the tweet the same day as the attack. He reveals himself here to be little more than a lackey for imperialism, a war hawk masquerading as a human rights defender.” [citation from: The Douma Market Attack: a Fabricated Pretext for Intervention?]

“Last week we found that Human Rights Watch director Kenneth Roth used an image of destruction in Gaza caused by Israel to accuse the Syrian government of indiscriminate use of “barrel bombs”. We wrote: “This is thereby at least the third time HRW is using a wrongly attributed pictures to depict current enemies of U.S. imperialism as having causing the damage the U.S. empire and/or its friends have caused. That is not mere bias by HRW. It is willful fraud.”[citation from: HRW’s Kenneth Roth Continues Unfounded Accusations With Another False Picture]

Medecins Sans Frontiers/Doctors Without Borders: “Doctors Without Borders is fully funded by the very same corporate financier interests behind Wall Street and London’s collective foreign policy, including regime change in Syria and neighboring Iran. Doctors Without Borders’ own annual report (2010 report can be accessed here), includes as financial donors, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Google, Microsoft, Bloomberg, Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital, and a myriad of other corporate-financier interests. Doctors Without Borders also features bankers upon its Board of Advisers including Elizabeth Beshel Robinson of Goldman Sachs. Complicating further Doctors Without Borders so-called “independent” and “aid” claims is the fact that their medical facilities are set up in terrorist held regions of Syria, especially along Syria’s northern border with NATO-member Turkey. In an interview with NPR, Doctors Without Borders’ Stephen Cornish revealed the nature of his organization’s involvement in the Syrian conflict, where he explains that aid is being sent to regions outside of the Syrian government’s control, and that his organization is in fact setting up facilities in these areas…. In other words, the Wall Street-funded organization is providing support for militants armed and funded by the West and its regional allies, most of whom are revealed to be foreign fighters, affiliated with or directly belonging to Al Qaeda and its defacto political wing, the Muslim Brotherhood. This so-called “international aid” organization is in actuality yet another cog in the covert military machine being turned against Syria and serves the role as a medical battalion.” [citation from: “Doctors” Behind Syrian Chemical Weapons Claims are Aiding Terrorists]

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR): “They make bold but sometimes inaccurate assertions….A recent PHR press release is headlined “New Map shows Government Forces Deliberately Attacking Syria’s Medical System.” It looks slick and impressive but is inaccurate. For example, one of the most dramatic attacks on a Syrian hospital was the suicide bombing of Al Kindi Hospital in Aleppo. Yet the PHR map shows the attack having been carried out by “government forces.” Readers are encouraged to look at the 3 minute rebel video of the suicide attack which leaves no doubt who was responsible.” [citation from: About Those Chlorine Gas Attacks in Syria]

PURPOSE Inc.: “This is an international PR firm. CEO is Jeremy Heimans, a co-founder of Avaaz. President is Kevin Steinberg, previous CEO of World Economic Forum USA (antithesis of World Social Forum). Their website describes their goal: “Purpose builds and accelerates movements to tackle the world’s biggest problems.” In this case the “problem” is reluctance to take over Syrian skies and land. For a hefty fee, “Purpose” will dupe the public and break down that reluctance. Toward that end,  Purpose created “The Syria Campaign”.” [citation from: Seven Steps of Highly Effective Manipulators White Helmets, Avaaz, Nicholas Kristof and Syria No Fly Zone]

Purpose Inc. (with its co-founders) is a favourite of high-finance websites such as The Economist and Forbes and sells its consulting services and branding/marketing campaigns to Google, Audi, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and many others that comprise the world’s most powerful corporations and institutions. In 2012, it raised $3m from investors. “Ford Foundation, which has given Purpose’s non-profit arm a grant, reckons it is shaping up to be “one of the blue-chip social organisations of the future.” Purpose, like many other foundations, such as Rockefeller (who initially incubated 1Sky which merged with in 2011), also serves as an “incubator of social movements.”” [citation from: Avaaz, Purpose & the Art of Selling Hate for Empire]

“The Syria Campaign”: “The Syria Campaign began in spring 2014…The Syria Campaign is managed by Anna Nolan,  who grew up in northern Ireland and has very likely never been to Syria. In addition to promoting the White Helmets, Syria Campaign promotes a new social media campaign called “Planet Syria”. It features emotional pleas for the world to take notice of Syria in another thinly veiled effort pushing for foreign intervention and war. According to their website, The Syria Campaign received start-up funding from the foundation of Ayman Asfari, a billionaire who made his money in the oil and gas services industry. … One of their first efforts was to work to prevent publicity and information about the Syrian Presidential Election of June 2014. Accordingly, “The Syria Campaign” pressured Facebook to remove advertisements or publicity about the Syrian election. Since then Syria Campaign has engineered huge media exposure and mythology about their baby, the “White Helmets” using all sorts of social and traditional media. The campaigns are largely fact free. For example, the Syrian election was dismissed out of hand by them and John Kerry but taken seriously by many millions of Syrians.” [citation from: Seven Steps of Highly Effective Manipulators White Helmets, Avaaz, Nicholas Kristof and Syria No Fly Zone]

White Helmets/”Syrian Civil Defence: “This is a new organization, highly publicized as civilian rescue workers in Syria. In reality the White Helmets is a project created by the UK and USA. Training of civilians in Turkey has been overseen by former British military officer and current contractor, James Le Mesurier. Promotion of the program is done by “The Syria Campaign” supported by the foundation of billionaire Ayman Asfari. The White Helmets is clearly a public relations project. … White Helmets work in areas of Aleppo and Idlib controlled by Nusra (Al Queda).” “White Helmets primary function is propaganda. White Helmets demonizes the Assad government and encourages direct foreign intervention.  A White Helmet leader wrote a recent Washington Post editorial.  White Helmets are also very active on social media with presence on Twitter, Facebook etc.  According to their website, to contact White Helmets email The Syria Campaign which underscores the relationship.” [citations from: About Those Chlorine Gas Attacks in SyriaSeven Steps of Highly Effective Manipulators White Helmets, Avaaz, Nicholas Kristof and Syria No Fly Zone]

The SOHR (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights): “In reality, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has long ago been exposed as an absurd propaganda front operated by Rami Abdul Rahman out of his house in England’s countryside. According to a December 2011 Reuters article titled, “Coventry – an unlikely home to prominent Syria activist,” Abdul Rahman admits he is a member of the so-called “Syrian opposition” and seeks the ouster of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad… One could not fathom a more unreliable, compromised, biased source of information, yet for the past two years, his “Observatory” has served as the sole source of information for the endless torrent of propaganda emanating from the Western media…. The New York Times also for the first time reveals that Abdul Rahman’s operation is indeed funded by the European Union and a “European country” he refuses to identify… Abdul Rahman has direct access to the Foreign Secretary William Hague, who he has been documented meeting in person on multiple occasions at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London.” [citation from: EXPOSED: Syrian Human Rights Front is EU-Funded Fraud]

September 12, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Syria: Iconic images or chronic lies?

A young boy walks past a makeshift barricade made of wreckages of buses to obstruct the view of regime snipers and to keep people safe, on March 14, 2015 in the rebel-held side of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo. Syria's conflict enters its fifth year on March 15, 2015 with the regime emboldened by shifting international attention and a growing humanitarian crisis exacerbated by the rise of the Islamic State group. AFP PHOTO / KARAM AL-MASRIKARAM AL-MASRI/AFP/Getty Images

By Vanessa Beely | The Wall Will Fall | September 11, 2015

March 2015 and TIME magazine printed one of the most iconic photos of the Syrian “conflict”.  The upended buses forming a barrier of rusting metal carcasses against the threat of “regime snipers”. The article went on to describe how “The Ahrar al-Sham brigade [a group that adheres to the conservative Salafi interpretation of Sunni Islam] placed the buses in such a way. They used ropes, pulleys and a number of men to get the buses in such position. They are [blocking] the view of regime snipers.”

The inference of the article is predominantly the risk from “regime” snipers, a risk for civilians and “rebels”.  Speaking to such civilians in Aleppo, it becomes clear that this is a misleading narrative.

“It’s vice versa. The terrorists put these buses that way. It’s obvious that it’s a form of border or barrier between them and us. It is the terrorists that use them as a platform for sniping people and soldiers on the other side.  These public buses were owned by the government as a cheap and affordable transportation for the people of Aleppo. Look what they’ve done with it.”

Another comment on the photograph from Aleppo:

“It is a war.  This is a demarcation line erected by the terrorists and yes there are many of them all over Aleppo.  The other side may be blocked by a huge textile curtain which protects civilians and soldiers from the terrorist snipers who use the buses as cover.  The TIME article only talks about the threat from government snipers, this is untrue.  The threat we face is from the terrorist snipers or from being caught in the crossfire”

Speaking with civilians living through “rebel” occupation of Aleppo, it appears accurate to say that 80% of these civilians support the Syrian Arab Army in their efforts to cleanse the city of the insurgent cells that are dotted all over Aleppo.  The greatest threat faced by civilians is that of the “rebel” hell cannons, mortars, snipers, suicide bombers and explosive tunnels that are dug as a diversion to draw the SAA away from their stronghold on the Acropolis hill in the centre of the ancient citadel of Aleppo which is surrounded by “rebel” camps.

Here are a collection of reports from Aleppo that describe a very different picture to the one portrayed by the Western media and assorted Western funded NGOs and Humanitarian organisations, like the White Helmets who are on the ground in Aleppo and providing a constant stream of biased, pro intervention, anti Assad propaganda, whilst purporting to be neutral & impartial.

Voices from Aleppo

It is admitted that there is an element of corruption among some who describe themselves as government officials, an inevitable result of the water and food deprivation which is being imposed upon Aleppo by rebel factions.  However, the majority of people in Aleppo still support the Syrian government against the rebel insurgents.  As stated, a huge majority have family members in the SAA and fully support their battle to regain control of Aleppo and to rid the streets of the presence of armed and erratic elements.

Karam al-Masri ~ photographer

Let us also look at the photographer of this TIME image and the source of comments quoted in the article.

Sheikh Najjar, Aleppo

According to an Al Jazeera article in March 2015, Karam al-Masri was kidnapped and tortured by ISIS at the “start of the war”. He was allegedly incarcerated in the Abu Ghraib prison in Sheikh Najjar, one of the biggest industrial zones to the north of Aleppo.

Al Bustan area, Aleppo

Al-Masri hails from the Bustan al Qasr area of Aleppo, the area that spans the eastern banks of the River Queik.  There has been a flood of stories of the “regime” dumping bodies into the river along this zone.  Stories, that have once again been negated by Aleppo civilians:

“The river Queik was reduced to a dry valley, distinctly malodorous in the summer.  This ensured the loss of all the species of fish that had been documented by western scientists and historians centuries before. Turkish-Syrian relations had improved in the decade prior to the crisis to the extent that the Aleppo river basin had been converted into a series of canals dotted with beautiful bridges, illuminated at night.
With the advent of the crisis, however, the tide literally turned.  The river formed a natural border between terrorist held eastern Aleppo and government held western Aleppo.

The river became the terrorist dumping ground for dead bodies, massacred by the terrorists not by the government as depicted in western media whose sole aim was & still is,  to demonize the Syrian government.

A couple of years back, the terrorists were sending young kids to buy huge amounts of bread supplied by the government to feed the people of Aleppo city.  Once purchased, this bread was callously dumped in the river resulting in a crippling bread shortage for a long time.  Eventually the government managed to round up the culprits and imprison them.  I don’t have to tell you how the media portrayed this activity but the truth is, it was necessary to ensure the people of Aleppo didn’t starve.”

Anyway back to Karam al-Masri.  In the Al Jazeera article, al-Masri makes the rather curious and incendiary claim ” “A camera’s role is greater than a weapon’s, when the regime arrests someone who works in the media, they torture them more than they would an FSA (Free Syrian Army) member.”  This from someone imprisoned and tortured by ISIS, the very terrorist organisation being flushed from Aleppo by the SAA.

We could argue that al-Masri is aligning himself with  the “moderate rebels” and presume he perceives the FSA to fulfil the criteria of “moderate rebel”.  Nonetheless what does get even curiouser, is that al-Masri, despite or prior to his torture and imprisonment, still manages to photograph Al Nusra in October 2013, calling for the establishment of an Islamic State.  This is another iconic photo that appeared in many Western media publications:

A picture taken on October 25, 2013 shows members of jihadist group Al-Nusra Front taking part in a parade calling for the establishment of an Islamic state in Syria, at the Bustan al-Qasr neighbourhood of Aleppo. (Photo: AFP - Karam al-Masri)

This photograph accompanied an Al Akhbar article outlining Saudi involvement in the attempted Western regime change in Syria.  This is a quote from the article “ The Saudi spy chief, in cooperation with Washington and Paris, is in the process of building up an army of 30,000 fighters, with many coming from the ranks of the “Army of Islam,” which is known to have ties to al-Qaeda’s al-Nusra Front.”

What is also puzzling is the discrepancy in the kidnap story.  In the Al Jazeera article, it is claimed that al-Masri [who contributes to the article and would presumably have had editing rights] was imprisoned for 6 months:

“We also meet Karam al-Masri, a photographer who was captured by ISIL, tortured and held for six months at the start of the war”

However, in his own statement, which I have only found in French, al-Masri clearly states 45 days:

“Abu Ghraib”, “Prison de haute sécurité”, “Centre de liquidation”… bien des noms ont été donnés à l’enfer où j’ai passé 45 jours entre les mains de l’Etat islamique (Da’ech).”

There is also a distinct lack of date when this imprisonment occurred in either al-Masri’s personal testimony or in the Al Jazeera article, a bizarre omission from a reporting or witness credibility perspective?  Further internet searches did not immediately shed any light on the timeline which makes it hard to pinpoint when al-Masri was imprisoned in relation to his being able to photograph “rebel” factions known to by sympathetic to Islamic State.

In fact if we do a simple google search on the images of al Masri, we see a heady concoction of photographs of Islamic State supporters.  Karam al-Masri photographs

The final photograph I will leave you with is this photo of the White Helmets, a US/UK SNC [Syrian Opposition] backed Humanitarian organisation portrayed as impartial “miracle workers” who rescue the civilians of Aleppo from the effects of the Government barrel bombs.  The same impartial “miracle workers” and heroes who fail to report on the effects of the “rebel” hell cannon and mortar fire. This photo clearly demonstrates the White Helmet co-operation with Al Nusra, look at the man on the right carrying the stretcher.  Members of Islamic extremist groups can be identified by the beard and no moustache, among other identifying features. [NDF source]

Photo: Karam al-Masri

This is all simple research and investigation.  I am not categorically stating that al-Masri is lying.  I am saying that there are a number of inaccuracies in his story and a number of questions that should be asked, particularly when one considers that his testimony and images are used exclusively to further demonize the Syrian Government and the SAA.

Syria is fighting a war on many fronts and the propaganda war is perhaps one of the most insidious and malevolent. It is propaganda that took us to war in Iraq.  It is propaganda that ensured the devastation of Libya. It is propaganda that is now clamouring for further foreign intervention in Syria.  It is propaganda that must be exposed at source before it further opens the floodgates to hell for the Syrian people.

September 12, 2015 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment

Congratulations to Jeremy Corbyn

By Craig Murray | September 12, 2015

I am unreservedly delighted at Jeremy Corbyn’s election. He made a quite excellent speech, specifically rejecting an attack on Syria, marketization in the NHS and the new anti-union legislation. Hopefully the scale of his victory will give pause to the Blairites who will realise they are not as all-important as they thought.

There is no doubt whatsoever that the vast majority of the Labour establishment, as represented by the people in that hall, are hostile to Corbyn. The question now is whether Corbyn can overhaul party mechanisms in such a way as to bring the opinions of the membership to bear on policy and override that right wing “elite” who have been in charge of the party.

The first few weeks are key. Most Blairites are above all careerists. If they think Corbyn can carry through his personal dominance into control of policy and party mechanisms, then many of the Blairites will look at their constituency members and suddenly discover they had left-wing principles after all. If the Blairites think that a resistance and undermining campaign against Corbyn will succeed (and there will certainly be one), they will go for that. In short, most “Blairites” are out for themselves and will join what they perceive will be the winning side Corbyn’s winning margin, and the fact he won overwhelmingly among full members, gives him a very strong base.

I have shared anti-war and pro-Palestinian platforms with Jeremy, and have the greatest respect for him. I also expect that he will have the strength to stand against both the smothering blandishments and the attacks of the neo-con establishment. The “Corbyn’s election is a disaster” narrative is being pushed by the BBC relentlessly in every question and comment – for example they just asked Ed Miliband “In retrospect was it a mistake for you to resign the day after the election?”, the clear sub-text being that Corbyn’s election was undesirable.

Ever since I realised that Blair’s New Labour was entirely subservient to the neo-con agenda I have regarded Labour as the enemy, as a fake opposition so close to the Tories as to make no difference. I viewed its leadership as utterly unscrupulous careerists fully signed up to a vicious pro-wealthy agenda at home and completely subservient to US/Israeli foreign policy abroad. This new careerism tied in very nicely with a pre-existing rotten borough corruption in Scotland and Northern England. I utterly detested the Labour Party.

So it is difficult for me to find the Labour Party led by a man whom I know, much respect, and with whom I disagree on almost nothing except Scottish independence. I also continue to believe that once consolidated, Jeremy will make it clear he has no hostility to Scottish independence and will support a second referendum whenever the Scottish government wants it.

But the problem is that the Labour Party hierarchy, and particularly their parliamentary party, is still full of people who are neo-cons, Red Tories, appallingly corrupt, careerists and in several cases war criminals. To know what attitude to adopt to the Labour Party must depend on how the battle for control of the party pans out. The scale of Corbyn’s victory, and the total rejection of the direct interference of Tony Blair, give Corbyn a great start. Those Blairite bastions – the Guardian and the BBC – are spluttering incoherently.

Jeremy Corbyn has just won the battle for party leadership. But the battle for control of the Labour Party just started.

September 12, 2015 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 1 Comment

Fleeing the U.S. ‘Freedom Agenda’

By Nat Parry · Essential Opinion · September 11, 2015

It has long been an article of faith that despite whatever slipups it might make along the way in pursuit of its foreign policy objectives, the United States is always motivated by a sincerely held desire to promote democracy and human rights around the world, which in turn is seen as vital in ensuring global stability and prosperity.

While the roots of this principle can be traced back to the days of “Manifest Destiny” – the prevalent mid-19th century view that it was Anglo-Saxon Americans’ providential mission to expand their civilization westward across North America – and can be identified in the pronouncements of presidents including Woodrow Wilson and John F. Kennedy, it was perhaps most eagerly embraced by George W. Bush, who claimed it as his divine mission to combat tyranny around the world. He called it “the Freedom Agenda.”

In the waning days of the Bush presidency, on Jan. 12, 2009, the White House even issued a “fact sheet” attempting to secure Bush’s legacy and defend his record in “spreading freedom,” which by then had already been largely discredited thanks to the disastrous U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq.

“President Bush has kept his pledge to strengthen democracy and promote peace around the world,” the fact sheet read. “He has promoted the spread of freedom as the great alternative to the terrorists’ ideology of hatred, because expanding liberty and democracy will help defeat extremism and protect the American people.”

Although it was never fully articulated precisely how the use of U.S. military force would “promote the spread of freedom,” the so-called Freedom Agenda had broad appeal among American neo-conservatives, arms manufacturers and others who had a vested interest in expanding U.S. power and deepening the nation’s involvement in geopolitical hotspots.

The narrative of “spreading freedom” also resonated with an American public long conditioned to believe that as the self-evident “good guys,” the U.S. could do no wrong – or, even if it did occasionally “make mistakes,” it was nevertheless guided by altruistic motives and therefore given a pass when “blunders” took place. Much of the rest of the world also may have reluctantly accepted some American boorishness as the price to be paid for all the “good” that the U.S. did in promoting democracy and providing security.

But with the world now clearly in a state of rising instability and insecurity on multiple fronts – with refugee crises, violent extremism, economic volatility and climate chaos threatening to undermine the very foundations of civilization throughout Asia, Africa, Europe and North America – it has become increasingly obvious how misguided these policies have been.

Rather than establishing liberty and democracy as the irrefutable and irresistible alternatives to hatred and extremism, U.S. military involvement in the Middle East has played a key role in creating the conditions that have given rise to vicious groups like the Islamic State, or ISIS. The ongoing wars to “spread freedom” in the region have led to a humanitarian disaster and refugee crisis, the likes of which haven’t been seen in many decades.

Intelligence Assessment

Although the link between U.S.-led wars and the rise of extremism was once primarily made by left-wing dissidents and what conservatives dismissed as the “blame-America-first crowd,” at some point during the Bush years the link became so obvious that even so-called “serious” people in the intelligence community and foreign policy establishment began publicly stating this case.

Nearly a decade ago, a National Intelligence Estimate – representing the consensus view of the 16 spy services inside the government – starkly warned that a whole new generation of Islamic radicalism was being spawned by the U.S. occupation of Iraq. According to one American intelligence official, the consensus was that “the Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse.”

The assessment noted that several underlying factors were “fueling the spread of the jihadist movement,” including “entrenched grievances, such as corruption, injustice, and fear of Western domination, leading to anger, humiliation, and a sense of powerlessness,” and “pervasive anti-U.S. sentiment among most Muslims – all of which jihadists exploit.”

But rather than leading to substantive changes or reversals in U.S. policies, the strategy agreed upon in Washington seemed to be to double down on the failed policies that had given rise to radical jihadist groups such as Al-Qaeda in Iraq, which later vomited up its brutal offshoot ISIS. In fact, instead of withdrawing from Iraq, the U.S. decided to send a surge of 20,000 troops in 2007, and the combat mission dragged on well into President Barack Obama’s first term, despite being elected on a wave of antiwar sentiment in 2008.

After its failure in Iraq, the U.S. turned its attention to Libya, overthrowing the government of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 utilizing armed militias implicated in war crimes and backed with NATO air power. Following Gaddafi’s ouster, his caches of weapons ended up being shuttled to rebels in Syria, fueling the civil war there. The U.S. also took a keen interest in destabilizing the Syrian regime and to do so began providing arms that often fell into the hands of extremists.

The CIA trained and armed so-called moderate rebel units in Syria, only to watch these groups switch sides by joining forces with Islamist brigades such as ISIS and al-Qaeda’s affiliate the Nusra Front. Others surrendered to Sunni extremist groups – with the U.S.-provided weapons presumably ending up in the arsenals of jihadists – or sometimes just quit or went missing altogether.

As the Wall Street Journal rather dryly reported last January, “All sides now agree that the U.S.’s effort to aid moderate fighters battling the Assad regime has gone badly.”

The moderates only managed to hold control over small pockets of northern Syria, while radical jihadists gained ground culminating earlier this month in the seizure of the last major oilfield under Syrian government control by ISIS.

As the Sunni extremist groups have consolidated control, the ranks of refugees have swelled, overwhelming authorities in European countries who lack any sort of cohesive policy to deal with the crisis. The numbers of refugees are growing as attacks by rebels have increased in recent months, with the United Nations now projecting that at least 850,000 people will cross the Mediterranean seeking refuge in Europe this year and next.

Although Assad continues to be blamed for the vast majority of civilian deaths in the civil war, rebel mortar attacks on Damascus and a wave of car bombings in major cities like Lattakia, Aleppo, Homs, Hassakeh and Qamishli have driven thousands from their homes, according to the UN High Commissioner on Refugees.

“Inside Syria, the last few months have been brutal,” UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming told a press briefing in Geneva on Sept. 8. “Fighting has intensified in almost all governorates.”

As bad as it currently is, the situation will likely dramatically worsen if the Assad regime collapses. Already, some are predicting a dramatic upsurge in refugees fleeing the country if the Islamist groups continue their advance on Damascus.

Writing in the British Independent on Sept. 6, Patrick Cockburn noted that ISIS is currently threatening to capture a crucial road, the M5 highway, which is the last major route connecting government-held territory in Damascus to the north and west of the country. The loss of this highway “could touch off a panic and the exodus of several million refugees from government areas, in addition to the four million who have already fled,” Cockburn warns.

Stressing that the Assad government at the moment is relatively secure, Cockburn predicts that “any sign that it is weakening will convince millions of Syrians that it is time to leave the country” in a last-ditch attempt to flee the brutality of ISIS.

‘Bad, Bad Sick Joke’

Reelected by large margins last year in a partial presidential election (excluding areas of Syria not under government control), Assad is widely viewed as the protector of Syria’s Christian, Shiite and Alawite minorities, groups that will likely be among the first victims of ISIS’s mass executions should they seize control of Damascus.

But despite this reality and the already dire situation of refugees fleeing to Europe and elsewhere, Western governments are doing little to help end the Syrian civil war. In fact, true to form, while the U.S. attempts to block Russia from providing any sort of support to the Assad government, it continues to fuel the war by supporting rebel groups with training, weapons, and air support.

A $500 million Pentagon program meant to replace or supplement the CIA’s earlier training program with a view towards more comprehensively supporting “moderate” Syrian rebels is reportedly being re-examined in light of criticism that the first group of U.S.-trained Syrian fighters was handily defeated by a Syrian affiliate of al-Qaeda in late July. The Islamists apparently attacked the group and took an unspecified number hostage, with the remaining fighters fleeing and still unaccounted for.

As the Associated Press reported on Wednesday, “Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook offered no details on how the program could be revamped, but told reporters that Defense Secretary Ash Carter still believes training and equipping moderate Syrian rebels and sending them into battle against the Islamic State is the right strategy.”

Despite these reassurances, congressional hawks like Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) are withdrawing their support for the program just a year after Congress authorized it. “It’s a bad, bad sick joke,” said McCain of the program, while Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) called it “a bigger disaster than I could have ever imagined.”

But perhaps this just goes to show how limited U.S. policymakers’ imaginations are and how tone-deaf they remain to criticisms and words of caution. Russia, for one, has long been raising concerns over Washington’s support for the Syrian rebels, which is blamed not only for the refugee crisis destabilizing Europe but also the failure to defeat the Islamic extremists in Syria.

Russian criticisms reached a new height last month when it was announced that the U.S. would be providing air support to the rebels fighting both Assad and ISIS. Officials in Moscow warned on Aug. 3 that Obama’s decision to back allied Syrian rebels with airstrikes would unleash wider chaos and instability in Syria.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Russia has “repeatedly underlined that help to the Syrian opposition, moreover financial and technical assistance, leads to further destabilization of the situation in the country.”

But now it is Washington that has gone on the offensive in the war of words between the U.S. and Russia. Following reports that Russia sent a military advance team to Syria, State Department officials objected to what they call Russia’s military “buildup” in Syria.

In a call to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry “reiterated our concern about these reports of Russian military activities, or buildup if you will, in Syria and made very clear our view that, if true and borne out, could lead to greater violence and even more instability in Syria,” according to State Department spokesman John Kirby.

Who’s Destabilizing Whom?

It’s a classic tactic of Washington – when it is guilty of destabilizing a country, it points the finger at another culprit to deflect attention from the mess that it has made. Yet, far from being the result of Russian meddling, the destabilization of Syria starting in 2011 can actually be traced back to 2001, when plans were hatched in the Pentagon for taking out governments in seven Middle Eastern countries.

According to former NATO Commander General Wesley Clark, shortly after 9/11 he was shown a confidential memo by a general at the Pentagon detailing plans to overthrow governments in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran.

Of those seven, two governments (Iraq and Libya) were subsequently overthrown, one country (Sudan) was cut in half, one (Somalia) became “the most failed state on earth” and two (Syria and Lebanon) have been destabilized. War with Iran was only narrowly averted thanks to multilateral diplomacy and perhaps a little luck.

The reality is, the four-year old civil war in Syria, fueled in large part by Washington’s training and arming of the rebels, appears to have the goal of implementing “regime change” through an armed insurgency, much in the same way as it has done in other countries, including most recently Libya.

This is Bush’s “Freedom Agenda” in action, and the four million Syrians who have already fled their homeland could rightly be considered “Freedom Agenda refugees.”

The dangers of pursuing these policies are palpable, as we see the worst refugee crisis since World War II playing out across Europe, but the worst of the ramifications may be yet to come.

Destabilizing the World

When it comes to Syria, the refugees who have already fled mostly came from opposition or contested areas that have been devastated by fighting. But most of the 17 million Syrians still in the country live in government-controlled areas, which are now increasingly threatened by ISIS. If these people find themselves more exposed to ISIS’s notorious brutality, they will likely swell the ranks of refugees beyond anything we have seen to date.

And this is only Syria. It should be kept in mind that another U.S.-fueled war in nearby Yemen – the poorest country in the Middle East – could contribute to yet another wave of refugees attempting the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean into Europe.

In a recent report, Amnesty International described the situation in Yemen as dire. “Prior to the conflict, more than half of Yemen’s population was in need of some humanitarian assistance,” according to Amnesty. “That number has now increased to more than 80 percent, while a coalition-imposed blockade on commercial imports remains in place in much of the country and the ability of international aid agencies to deliver desperately needed supplies continues to be hindered by the conflict.”

The human rights group points out that although the United States is not formally part of the Saudi-led coalition, “it is assisting the coalition air campaign by providing intelligence and aerial refueling facilities to coalition bomber jets,” as well as weapons including banned cluster munitions being used against Yemeni civilians.

Its assistance “makes the United States partly responsible for civilian casualties resulting from unlawful attacks,” says Amnesty, noting that “the countries that supplied the weapons have a responsibility to ensure that they are not used to commit violations of international law.”

In another recent report, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute documented that the U.S. has become further entrenched as the world’s top exporter of weapons, now accounting for 31 percent of all arms sales around the world. SIPRI noted that the volume of U.S. arms exports rose by 23 percent since 2005, with the biggest increase in transfers going to the Middle East.

Besides flooding the planet with small arms and light weapons, heavy artillery, armored vehicles, and warships, the U.S. has also increased its military assistance to various countries through joint exercises and training missions.

Nick Turse reported at the Intercept on Wednesday that “from 2012 to 2014 some of America’s most elite troops — including Navy SEALs and Army Green Berets — carried out 500 Joint Combined Exchange Training missions around the world.”

Many of these missions are contributing to rising tensions everywhere from Eastern Europe to the Korean Peninsula. Taken together, they are certainly cause for concern for anyone hoping to live in a world at peace and security. Indeed, the fallout from the Freedom Agenda playing out now in Syria could be just the beginning unless U.S. policymakers take a step back and reassess their actions across the globe.

September 12, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes | , , , | 2 Comments

Former Afghan PM Hamid Karzai says Al-Qaeda is a Myth

By Brandon Martinez | Non-Aligned Media | September 11, 2015

These politicians become much more honest after they retire. Former Afghan PM Karzai hints at the fictitious and entirely malleable concept of “Al-Qaeda” and even says he “doesn’t believe or disbelieve” the US government version of 9/11.

September 12, 2015 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , | Leave a comment