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Israel’s diamond exports crash as BDS and war crimes impact

By Sean Clinton | MEMO | November 7, 2018

Fig.1 – Graph of diamond exports and trends from main exporting hubs

Israel’s gross diamond exports have crashed by a staggering 45 per cent since the 2014 massacre in Gaza that resulted in the death of over 2,200 people, mainly civilians including over 550 children.

The net value of Israel’s diamond exports has fallen even further, by 60 per cent from $11.25 billion to $4.4 billion over the period. This is about the same as the value of Israel’s total arms exports.

The Israeli diamond exchange initially blamed the decline on weak global demand and more recently on globalisation but the sudden steep decline shows that’s plainly not the case.

De Beers annual insight reports on the state of the global diamond market show demand increased slightly over the past five years.

No other diamond exporting country has suffered such a steep fall.

The Belgian diamond industry, which is a major hub for both the rough and polished diamond trade to and from Israel, has also been impacted by the steep decline in Israel’s exports.

Meanwhile India has gained market share and in 2016, for the first time ever, exported more diamonds to the USA than Israel which has traditionally supplied up to 50 per cent of the US market in value terms.

There can be no doubt that one of the most important and the most vulnerable sector of the Israeli economy is feeling the impact of Israel’s blood-drenched brand image.

Fig. 2 – Israeli manufacturing exports declined sharply after 2014 led by a 45% fall in diamond exports. The 2012 fall in diamond exports was due to the discovery of major fraud in the Diamond Exchange.

The global campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) has highlighted jewellery industry links to Israeli human rights violations which are funded to a significant degree by revenue from the diamond industry. Both appear to be impacting the Israeli diamond industry particularly hard with exports down a further 6 percent in H1 2018.

The situation has become so serious that Israel is now offering to pay air fares as well as provide free hotel accommodation to attract buyers to Tel Aviv. Although the jewellery industry and NGOs have remained silent about Israel’s leading role in the diamond supply chain human rights activists have campaigned to expose it.

In 2012 activists first revealed the linkage between the Steinmetz Diamond Group (SDG) and the Givati Brigade of the Israeli military which was responsible for the 2009 massacre of the Samouni family in Gaza, a suspected war crime documented by the UN Human Rights Council and others including Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.

This set in motion a series of actions that continue to reverberate through the upper echelons of the diamond industry. When the Anglo American owned De Beers Group put a Forevermark Steinmetz diamond on display in the Tower of London in honour of the Queen of England’s Diamond Jubilee the Inminds human rights group staged regular protests outside the Tower.

A member of the Samouni family in Gaza recorded a video appealing for the blood diamond to be removed. The diamond was removed a few months later without any of the fanfare and publicity that accompanied it’s unveiling. It hasn’t been seen or heard of in public since.

Sotheby’s Diamonds is a 50:50 partnership between Sotheby’s, the famous auction house, and Diacore, the now rebranded Steinmetz Diamond Group.

Since 2012, Inminds has staged a number of protests outside Sotheby’s premises in Bond Street, London, highlighting the link to Israeli war crimes.

In January 2013, Sotheby’s CEO and board were sent a registered letter alerting them to the damage to their reputation and the risks to their brand posed by their partnership with the Steinmetz Group. Months later in Geneva, in a blaze of global publicity, Sotheby’s auctioned the Steinmetz Pink, a specimen diamond. It was bought by a syndicate of investors lead by Isaac Wolf for a world record US$83 million. The pre-auction publicity and spin gave no indication that the diamond was tarnished by association with Israeli war crimes in Gaza and was, therefore, a blood diamond. Four months after the auction it was revealed that the investors defaulted and Sotheby’s were forced to take the diamond into inventory costing them millions.

In April 2017, in a much quieter event, the blood diamond was auctioned in Hong Kong and bought by Chow Tai Fook for $71 million.

The Isaac Wolf syndicate wasn’t sued.

Diamond buyers and sellers attend the International Diamond Week (IDW) in the Israeli city of Ramat Gan, east of Tel Aviv on February 14, 2017. (JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Sotheby’s continues to partner with Diacore despite the fact that the Steinmetz Foundation “adopted” the Givati Brigade which stands accused of war crimes.

As news of the default became public it was also disclosed that Beny Steinmetz sold his interest in SDG to his brother Daniel and the company was rebranded as Diacore. Some observers believe this was an exercise designed to distance leading diamond brands including Tiffany’s, De Beers, Sotheby’s and Forevermark from the tarnished Steinmetz brand which is indelibly linked to the Samouni massacre. Evidence supporting this was leaked in the Panama Papers which showed that in 2015, Beny Steinmetz was still involved and asked Mossack Fonseca to backdate the transfer of his power of attorney to his brother to 2013.

Further indications that jewellers are shunning diamonds linked to Israeli human rights violations emerged earlier this year when it came to light, via a Tiffany & Co Form 10-K submission to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, that the iconic diamond brand had terminated a supply agreement with a Steinmetz owned mine in Sierra Leone. Tiffany’s loaned Steinmetz $50 million to develop the mine and was one of their leading buyers.

Tiffany’s divestment came following pressure from human rights activists who exposed the fact that Tiffany’s sourced diamonds from a miner that donated to and supported suspected Israeli war criminals.

Although Tiffany & Co divested from a Steinmetz mine they continue to conceal the identity of the companies they buy 25-35 per cent of their polished diamonds from. Tiffany’s customers cannot, therefore, know where their jewellery comes from as alluded to by their new CEO Alessandro Bogliono in Tiffany’s Sustainability Report 2017.

“Our customers place great value on sustainability. They want to know where their jewellery comes from, how it is made and how the jewellery-making process impacts the planet as well as its people and communities. Tiffany & Co. holds this kind of transparency dear and, through this creation of shared value, we have a unique opportunity to build meaningful, lasting relationships with our customers. We are committed to sharing more with them — and all of our stakeholders — about what, exactly, Tiffany is doing to achieve sustainability for our business and for the planet as we very broadly define that goal: enriching the people and places we reach through our business; minimising our environmental impact; improving industry-wide practices; and channelling the power of the Tiffany brand as a force for positive change in the world.”

Given Israel’s leading role in the industry and the absence of a statement from Tiffany’s stating, as they have done with Zimbabwe and Angola, they do not buy diamonds from the apartheid state, it is likely Tiffany’s are sourcing diamonds from companies in Israel.

Fig. 3 – On June 1st, Rajan al-Najjar, a 21 year old paramedic, was shot dead by an Israeli sniper as she treated wounded civilians in Gaza.

Diamond companies in Israel employ people who have served in and are members of the Israeli army, have openly funded and supported attacks on the defenceless residents of Gaza, have been widely implicated in serious fraud and who discriminate against non-Jews who make up 20 per cent of the population.

Furthermore, Tiffany’s haven’t paid reparations to the Samouni family or any of the victims of the Steinmetz supported Givati Brigade. Mitigation for damage caused is a key component of “responsible sourcing” as outlined in the OECD Due Diligence Guidelines to which Tiffany and Co, a member of the UN Global Compact, claims it is committed.

Although revenue from the diamond industry is a significant source of funding for an apartheid regime that has killed over 210 Palestinians including women, children, medics and journalists and injured and maimed thousands more with live ammunition in besieged Gaza in the past six months alone, jewellers fraudulently claim diamonds processed in Israel are responsibly sourced and conflict-free.

This blood diamond cover-up and fraud is perpetuated by public companies and governments who collaborate to shield rogue regimes in Israel, Zimbabwe and Angola that they depend on to keep their coffers full, bolster dividends for shareholders and provide fat pension pots for c-suite executives.

The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KP), the blueprint of which was drafted by the World Diamond Council, is the primary vehicle facilitating the ongoing blood diamond trade.

Although the remit of the KP is deliberately restricted to banning rough diamonds that fund rebel violence, jewellers use it to claim other blood diamonds are conflict free even when they fund war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Shamefully, Amnesty International, Global Witness, Human Rights Watch and Impact (Partnership Africa Canada), that the public rely on to expose the blood diamond trade and speak up for the victims, have said and done nothing to hold the diamond jewellery industry to account for funding Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Fig.4 –The diamond industry has created a matrix of bogus schemes, warranties, standards and codes of practices to con consumers and facilitate the trade in blood diamonds that fund rogue regimes

The silence of NGO’s on Israel’s blood diamond trade means the Kimberley Process charade continues to con most people and can keep mainstream media focused on the mining sector in Africa. Meanwhile, high street jewellers launder cut and polished blood diamonds labelled responsibly sourced and conflict free to unsuspecting customers.

Hilde Hardeman is the EU chair of the Kimberley Process in 2018. Indications to date suggest that she, like others before her in South Africa and Australia, will ignore the latest call from human rights activists for Israel to be suspended from the KP until those responsible for massacres in Gaza are brought to justice and held to account.

Some voices in the jewellery industry are speaking out. The most recent example being the Ethical Jewelry Exposé: Lies, Damn Lies, and Conflict Free Diamonds, from Marc Choyt and his team at Reflective Jewellery. The exposé peels back the layers of bogus schemes “through the metaphor of Russian nesting dolls, with eight layers of babble obscuring the nefarious truth hidden at the core”.

The exposé leaves readers in no doubt as to the magnitude of the fraud being perpetrated by the key stakeholders in the diamond industry, particularly the Responsible Jewellery Council which is now chaired by Signet Jewellers Vice President of corporate affairs, David Bouffard. Signet Jewellers source many of their diamonds from companies in Israel.

The successive withdrawal of human rights organisations from the KP, including Global Witness, Impact Transform, International Alert, Fatal Transactions and Ian Smillie – a key architect of the Kimberly Process scheme – has removed the fig leaf and left its exponents exposed with their bloody diamonds in full view.

Scrambling to conceal the blood diamond trade, the industry’s most recent and emerging addition to the matrix of deception, is the use of blockchain technology to digitally log all transactions a diamond undertakes from mine to market. While the technology has the potential to give consumers the information needed to make an informed decision about the ethical provenance of a diamond, the detailed information will only be available to “authorised users” as “privacy controls” will prevent consumers from accessing “sensitive data”.

Diacore, of the Steinmetz Group, was one of the first companies in a trial conducted by De Beers Group of their blockchain system, Tracr, earlier this year. It is clear, therefore, that blockchain will provide another layer of cover for the blood diamond trade while consumers are kept in the dark.

As the EU chairs a Kimberley Process plenary meeting in Brussels from November 12-16 it will be interesting to observe the corseted language emanating from the spin doctors. No doubt they will inform the public that the major reforms aimed at strengthening the KP and giving added assurance to consumers have been agreed. But one thing is for sure, any reforms that are agreed will not extend to banning blood diamonds that fund rogue regimes guilty of gross human rights violations in Israel, Zimbabwe or Angola.

Read:

Why Israel sees BDS as a ‘strategic threat’

EU urged to end trade in Israel diamonds

Israel’s $72m war chest to fight BDS comes to Brussels

November 7, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Human Rights Watch Report on North Korea ‘Extraordinarily Condescending’

Sputnik – November 2, 2018

Human Rights Watch’s recent report alleging rampant abuse against women in North Korea is a underhanded attempt to undermine progress on inter-Korean talks, Christine Hong, a member of the Korea Policy Institute, told Sputnik.

The 98-page report by the US-based watchdog details widespread sexual abuse allegedly carried out by North Korean government officials against women with near total impunity. The report is based off of dozens of interviews with sexual abuse victims who have defected.

“I was a victim many times… On the days they felt like it, market guards or police officials could ask me to follow them to an empty room outside the market, or some other place they’d pick. What can we do? They consider us [sex] toys,” Oh Jung Hee, a former trader, was quoted in the report as saying.

“We [women] are at the mercy of men. Now, women cannot survive without having men with power near them.”

The report goes on to note that “unwanted sexual contact and violence is so common that it has come to be accepted as part of ordinary life [in North Korea].”

​Hong, who is also an associate professor at University of California Santa Cruz, told Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear on Thursday that the work published by Human Rights Watch is “extraordinarily condescending.”

“On the one hand you can see that this is a kind of rearing of the ugly head of the interventionist human rights industry, and it’s also a recourse on the level of methodology to extraordinarily flawed ways of looking at North Korea,” she said, before explaining that basing a report solely on defector testimonials was questionable.

“Defectors are notoriously unreliable source of information, and information that is gleaned from defectors, in the case of North Korea… this has been instrumentally used to actually make the case for war.”

“What we’re looking at right now is a kind of lens that is aimed at war… we’re hearing the beating of the war drum,” she stressed.

Of the 106 individuals interviewers spoke with, 57 defected after 2011, when North Korean leader Kim Jong Un came to power. The Human Rights Watch report was released as the South Korean government declared its support for a human rights resolution submitted to the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee, Yonhap reported. Should the resolution be adopted, it will become the 14th year that the UN has condemned human rights abuses taking place in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

November 2, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 4 Comments

Human Rights Watch Purposefully Mistranslated Syrian Leaflet to Aleppo Rebels

By Prof. As’ad AbuKhalil – The Angry Arab News Service – November 30, 2016

Rami Jarrah (who is widely cited as an authority by mainstream Western media) posted the Arabic leaflet dropped by Syrian government forces and the English translation by Human Rights Watch, which has been widely circulated.

I will provide to you my translation of the original Arabic and you judge how reliable the translation by Human Rights Watch is. [Moreover they have shortened the text of the message]

The Arabic says (in full):

“Read and Repeat. This is the last hope. Save yourselves.

If you don’t evacuate those areas soon, you shall be finished off (or vanquished or destroyed).

WE have provided you with a safe passage to exit. Take your decision fast. Save yourselves.

You know that all have abandoned you and left you by yourselves to face your destiny and they won’t provide you with any help. General Command of the army and armed forces.”

PS The word annihilation is very specific and has an equal Arabic equivalent “Ibadah” which does not appear in the original Arabic.

[The substance of the message is turned upside down in the English translation. It does not mention that the government is providing exit and safe passage to the Al Qaeda rebels.]

December 2, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment

Russian human rights advocates propose alternative NGO for Eurasian states

RT | September 1, 2016

Russian activists have prepared a proposal to launch a major international rights organization that would work in the Eurasian space and would be not as ‘politically-biased’ as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

“We want to create the Eurasian Human Rights Group or EARG with the primary task of constant monitoring of observation of human and civil rights. It is important for activists to coordinate their activities and when it’s necessary to urgently go to places where violations of human rights are registered. In addition, our group will distribute humanitarian aid,” the main figure behind the project, the head of the Russian Volunteers Union and secretary of the Russian Council for Human Rights, Yana Lantratova, said in comments to Izvestia daily.

She also told about plans to accredit the new group with all international institutes, such as the United Nations, the Eurasian Economic Union and the Commonwealth of Independent States. “Our main objective is openness and independence, the ability to operatively assess any events and react on them,” she said.

The plan has already gained support from several rights groups from post-Soviet republics. The head of the Against Rights Arbitrariness group and ombudsman of Armenia, Larisa Alaverdyan, told reporters that her colleagues welcomed the idea of a new independent association. She added that once the group is organized it should develop particular procedures allowing it to resolve various conflicts concerning human rights in the Eurasian states.

Kyrgyz rights activist Asilbek Egemberdiyev said that in his view the new association could concentrate on problems of labor migrants as often people who work outside their home countries are deprived of even basic support of their rights.

This is not the first time Russian politicians have sought a joint rights movement by post-Soviet states. In May 2014, MP Leonid Slutsky (LDPR) suggested the Commonwealth of Independent States set up its own Court of Human Rights to investigate the political crisis in Ukraine and the events that led to the installment of the current Kiev regime and the subsequent military conflict in that country.

September 6, 2016 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

Human Rights Watch Ranked Among Least Transparent Think Tanks

teleSUR | June 29, 2016

A handful of U.S. think tanks are ranked among the least transparent in terms of financial disclosure.

Human Rights Watch is ranked among one of the least transparent research groups in the United States, according to Transparify’s 2016 think tank transparency report, which details the levels of financial disclosure of 200 think tanks located in 47 countries worldwide.

The survey, conducted by a small nonprofit group gave the Human Rights Watch group a two-star rating—a score that means that all or many donors are listed, but little or no financial information is included—for the third year in year in a row.

“The number of organizations who still consider it acceptable to take money from hidden hands behind closed doors is rapidly dwindling. They are running out of excuses,” said Dr. Hans Gutbrod, executive director of Transparify.

Transparify’s researchers found that only 102 of the think tanks assessed remain opaque, down from 144 four years ago.

Nevertheless, many major groups in the United States received low scores including American Enterprise Institute along with the Hoover Institution, which both received a one-star grade, meaning “that some donors are listed, but not exhaustive or systematic.”

In the United States, think tanks have come to occupy a prominent place in the development of public policy, with their reports being widely distributed among lawmakers in order to support legislative initiatives, according Transparify’s annotated bibliography.

“Government representatives are reportedly utilizing think tanks’ research outputs more often than they use the Congressional Research Service,” Transparify noted.

July 9, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

Venezuela’s Supreme Court Strikes a Blow to the Impunity of Liberal Terror

By LUCAS KOERNER | Venezuelanalysis | April 22, 2016

Last week, the Venezuelan Supreme Court blocked the extremely controversial Amnesty Law passed by the country’s opposition-controlled legislature, which would have pardoned scores of right-wing leaders convicted of violent political crimes.

The bill is applicable to all manner of felonies and misdemeanors committed since January 1, 1999, including “damage to the national electrical system”, “violence or resistance to authority” and even “conspiracy and terrorism”, provided that these crimes were perpetrated in the course of “demonstrations, protests, or meetings for political purposes”.

The opposition’s Amnesty Law even goes as far as to list specific incidents that qualify for amnesty, ranging chronologically from the 2002 US-sponsored coup to the 2014 violent opposition protests known as guarimbas.

In short, the law amounts to a hand-written confession of seventeen years of right-wing terror aimed at overthrowing the country’s democratically-elected Chavista government.

According to the high court, the legislation would enact a “scandalous impunity to the detriment of public morals, subverting the ethical and juridical order of the country”.

Despite the entirely reasonable character of this objection, the ruling was nonetheless derided as yet more evidence of Venezuela’s authoritarian collapse by of the self-anointed ideological guard-dogs of liberal democracy.

Western Apologia for Political Violence

On Thursday, Human Rights Watch Americas Director José Miguel Vivanco accused the top tribunal of “upholding abuse” in sanctioning the criminal prosecution of opposition leaders for “legitimate political activities”.

Given HRW’s highly dubious track record on Venezuela, it is unsurprising that they would categorize as “legitimate” universally outlawed offenses such as “individual terrorism”, “use of minors to commit crimes”, and “mutiny, civil rebellion, treason, military rebellion”.

In regurgitating the law’s perverse logic that these felonies merit amnesty since they were committed with “political purposes”, HRW’s alleged human rights advocacy begins to look more and more like a naked apology for anti-government political violence in Venezuela.

Even more predictable was the response of the Washington Post– the mouthpiece of the US neoconservative establishment– which in a recent editorial cited the Supreme Court ruling in its case for “political intervention” in Venezuela as if US imperial interference in the South American country’s internal affairs was not a long established practice over the last 17 years of leftwing Chavista governance.

Of course, the Western interventionist chorus would be incomplete without the US State Department weighing in on the matter.

In the lead-up to the parliamentary vote on the bill, Undersecretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson met with Lilian Tintori, the wife of jailed far right politician Leopoldo Lopez, issuing a call for the “immediate release” of those she termed “political prisoners”.

Absent from her statement was any mention of the fact that Lopez was formally convicted of leading 2014’s violent anti-government protests known as “the exit”, which resulted in 43 dead and hundreds injured, the majority of whom passerby and state security personnel.

An Excess of Judicial Independence?

Following the ruling, the US State Department released its 2015 human rights report in which the body sharply castigated Venezuela for its alleged “lack” of judicial independence as well as its “use of the judiciary to intimidate and selectively prosecute government critics”.

For a moment, let’s bracket the obscene hypocrisy of these accusations coming from a country that has produced such shining examples of judicial independence such as Bush v. Gore and Citizens’ United and whose judiciary has gone to incredible lengths to guarantee due process to political prisoners such as Leonard Peltier, Mumia Abu Jamal, and Oscar López Rivera.

Let us be clear: Washington’s problem with the Venezuelan Supreme Court is not its lack of independence, but rather that it is too independent from the country’s neo-colonial oligarchy that it refuses to follow their dictates.

Prior to Chávez, a man of the aristocratic stature such as Leopoldo López– the Harvard-educated son of one of Venezuela’s wealthiest families– would never face conviction for his crimes, which include publicly inciting the violent ouster of the democratically-elected government.

In the eyes of the West, what is thus intolerable about the Supreme Court decision to strike down the Amnesty Law and uphold the conviction of López and dozens of others is not its supposed violation of the rule of law, but its full application against the most powerful elements of Venezuelan society.

Against Liberalism

In a word, the mortal sin of Venezuela’s judiciary was to defy the hegemonic ideology of liberal democracy for whom equality before the law is treated as a mere formalism that is professed but never practiced.

In this regard, the Venezuelan Constitution states that, “The law will guarantee the juridical and administrative conditions so that equality before the law is real and effective… it will especially protect those persons… who find themselves in circumstances of clear weakness and will punish the abuses and mistreatment committed against them.”

This conception of legal equality as a radical defense of the weak and oppressed openly clashes with the liberalism enshrined in the US Constitution in which the principle of “equal protection of the laws” codified in the 14th Amendment is formal in character, lending itself to appropriation by corporations who secured the right to personhood long before African-Americans.

Within this framework, the Venezuelan Supreme Court found that the Amnesty Law is unconstitutional primarily because it amounts to a sanctioning of “contempt for the life, integrity, and dignity of… those harmed by the amnestied acts, affecting their right to access justice.”

That is, the high court ruled that the rights of the victims of right-wing terror– mostly black, brown, and poor– take precedence over the privileges of the perpetrators, much to the outrage of the Venezuelan oligarchy and its US imperial masters.

What is at stake here is not some local politicized skirmish over separation of powers but a profoundly universal ethical dispute over what kind of world we want to live in: one in which the normative order guarantees the life and human dignity of the oppressed, or alternatively one in which their oppressors are given carte blanche to murder and terrorize.

Venezuela’s Supreme Court has been crucified by the powers that be for unacceptably choosing the former.

April 23, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , | Leave a comment

A Blind Eye Toward Turkey’s Crimes

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | December 16, 2015

Theoretically, it would be a great story for the American press: an autocrat so obsessed with overthrowing the leader of a neighboring country that he authorizes his intelligence services to collaborate with terrorists in staging a lethal sarin attack to be blamed on his enemy and thus trick major powers to launch punishing bombing raids against the enemy’s military.

And, after that scheme failed to achieve the desired intervention, the autocrat continues to have his intelligence services aid terrorists inside the neighboring country by providing weapons and safe transit for truck convoys carrying the terrorists’ oil to market. The story gets juicier because the autocrat’s son allegedly shares in the oil profits.

To make the story even more compelling, an opposition leader braves the wrath of the autocrat by seeking to expose these intelligence schemes, including the cover-up of key evidence. The autocrat’s government then seeks to prosecute the critic for “treason.”

But the problem with this story, as far as the American government and press are concerned, is that the autocratic leader, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is in charge of Turkey, a NATO ally and his hated neighbor is the much demonized Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Major U.S. news outlets and political leaders also bought into the sarin deception and simply can’t afford to admit that they once again misled the American people on a matter of war.

The Official Story of the sarin attack – as presented by Secretary of State John Kerry, Human Rights Watch and other “respectable” sources – firmly laid the blame for the Aug. 21, 2013 atrocity killing hundreds of civilians outside Damascus on Assad. That became a powerful “group think” across Official Washington.

Though a few independent media outlets, including Consortium News, challenged the rush to judgment and noted the lack of evidence regarding Assad’s guilt, those doubts were brushed aside. (In an article on Aug. 30, 2013, I described the administration’s “Government Assessment” blaming Assad as a “dodgy dossier,” which offered not a single piece of verifiable proof.)

However, as with the “certainty” about Iraq’s WMD a decade earlier, Every Important Person shared the Assad-did-it “group think.” That meant — as far as Official Washington was concerned — that Assad had crossed President Barack Obama’s “red line” against using chemical weapons. A massive U.S. retaliatory bombing strike was considered just days away.

But Obama – at the last minute – veered away from launching those military attacks, with Official Washington concluding that Obama had shown “weakness” by not following through. What was virtually unreported was that U.S. intelligence analysts had doubts about Assad’s guilt and suspected a trap being laid by extremists.

Despite those internal questions, the U.S. government and the compliant mainstream media publicly continued to push the Assad-did-it propaganda line. In a formal address to the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 24, 2013, Obama declared, “It’s an insult to human reason and to the legitimacy of this institution to suggest that anyone other than the regime carried out this attack.”

Later, a senior State Department official tried to steer me toward the Assad-is-guilty assessment of a British blogger then known as Moses Brown, a pseudonym for Eliot Higgins, who now runs an outfit called Bellingcat which follows an effective business model by reinforcing whatever the U.S. propaganda machine is churning out on a topic, except having greater credibility by posing as a “citizen blogger.” [For more on Higgins, see Consortiumnews.com’s‘MH-17 Case: ‘Old Journalism’ vs. ‘New’.”]

The supposedly conclusive proof against Assad came in a “vector analysis” developed by Human Rights Watch and The New York Times – tracing the flight paths of two rockets back to a Syrian military base northwest of Damascus. But that analysis collapsed when it became clear that only one of the rockets carried sarin and its range was less than one-third the distance between the army base and the point of impact. That meant the rocket carrying the sarin appeared to have originated in rebel territory.

But the “group think” was resistant to all empirical evidence. It was so powerful that even when the Turkish plot was uncovered by legendary investigative reporter Seymour M. Hersh, his usual publication, The New Yorker, refused to print it. Rebuffed in the United States – the land of freedom of the press – Hersh had to take the story to the London Review of Books to get it out in April 2014. [See Consortiumnews.com’sWas Turkey Behind Syria Sarin Attack?”]

The Easier Route

It remained easier for The New York Times, The Washington Post and other premier news outlets to simply ignore the compelling tale of possible Turkish complicity in a serious war crime. After all, what would the American people think if – after the mainstream media had failed to protect the country against the lies that led to the disastrous Iraq War – the same star news sources had done something similar on Syria by failing to ask tough questions?

It’s also now obvious that if Obama had ordered a retaliatory bombing campaign against Assad in 2013, the likely winners would have been the Islamic State and Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front, which would have had the path cleared for their conquest of Damascus, creating a humanitarian catastrophe even worse than the current one.

To confess to such incompetence or dishonesty clearly had a big down-side. So, the “smart” play was to simply let the old Assad-did-it narrative sit there as something that could still be cited obliquely from time to time under the phrase “Assad gassed his own people” and thus continue to justify the slogan: “Assad must go!”

But that imperative – not to admit another major mistake – means that the major U.S. news media also must ignore the courageous statements from Eren Erdem, a deputy of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), who has publicly accused the Erdogan government of blocking an investigation into Turkey’s role in procuring the sarin allegedly delivered to Al Qaeda-connected terrorists for use inside Syria.

In statements before parliament and to journalists, Erdem cited a derailed indictment that was begun by the General Prosecutor’s Office in the southern Turkish city of Adana, with the criminal case number 2013/120.

Erdem said the prosecutor’s office, using technical surveillance, discovered that an Al Qaeda jihadist named Hayyam Kasap acquired the sarin.

At the press conference, Erdem said, “Wiretapped phone conversations reveal the process of procuring the gas at specific addresses as well as the process of procuring the rockets that would fire the capsules containing the toxic gas. However, despite such solid evidence there has been no arrest in the case. Thirteen individuals were arrested during the first stage of the investigation but were later released, refuting government claims that it is fighting terrorism.”

Erdem said the released operatives were allowed to cross the border into Syria and the criminal investigation was halted.

Another CHP deputy, Ali Şeker, added that the Turkish government misled the public by claiming Russia provided the sarin and that “Assad killed his people with sarin and that requires a U.S. military intervention in Syria.”

Erdem’s disclosures, which he repeated in a recent interview with RT, the Russian network, prompted the Ankara Prosecutor’s Office to open an investigation into Erdem for treason. Erdem defended himself, saying the government’s actions regarding the sarin case besmirched Turkey’s international reputation. He added that he also has been receiving death threats.

“The paramilitary organization Ottoman Hearths is sharing my address [on Twitter] and plans a raid [on my house]. I am being targeted with death threats because I am patriotically opposed to something that tramples on my country’s prestige,” Erdem said.

ISIS Oil Smuggling

Meanwhile, President Erdogan faces growing allegations that he tolerated the Islamic State’s lucrative smuggling of oil from wells in Syria through border crossings in Turkey. Those oil convoys were bombed only last month when Russian President Vladimir Putin essentially shamed President Obama into taking action against this important source of Islamic State revenues.

Though Obama began his bombing campaign against Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria in summer 2014, the illicit oil smuggling was spared interdiction for over a year as the U.S. government sought cooperation from Erdogan, who recently acknowledged that the Islamic State and other jihadist groups are using nearly 100 kilometers of Turkey’s border to bring in recruits and supplies.

Earlier this month, Obama said he has had “repeated conversations with President Erdogan about the need to close the border between Turkey and Syria,” adding that “there’s about 98 kilometers that are still used as a transit point for foreign fighters, ISIL [Islamic State] shipping out fuel for sale that helps finance their terrorist activities.”

Russian officials expressed shock that the Islamic State was allowed to continue operating an industrial-style delivery system involving hundreds of trucks carrying oil into Turkey. Moscow also accused Erdogan’s 34-year-old son, Bilal Erdogan, of profiting off the Islamic State’s oil trade, an allegation that he denied.

The Russians say Bilal Erdogan is one of three partners in the BMZ Group, a Turkish oil and shipping company that has purchased oil from the Islamic State. The Malta Independent reported that BMZ purchased two oil tanker ships from the Malta-based Oil Transportation & Shipping Services Co Ltd, which is owned by Azerbaijani billionaire Mubariz Mansimov.

Another three oil tankers purchased by BMZ were acquired from Palmali Shipping and Transportation Agency, which is also owned by Mansimov and which shares the same Istanbul address with Oil Transportation & Shipping Services, which is owned by Mansimov’s Palmali Group, along with dozens of other companies set up in Malta.

The Russians further assert that Turkey’s shoot-down of a Russian Su-24 bomber along the Syrian-Turkish border on Nov. 24 – which led to the murder of the pilot, by Turkish-backed rebels, as he parachuted to the ground and to the death of a Russian marine on a rescue operation – was motivated by Erdogan’s fury over the destruction of his son’s Islamic State oil operation.

Erdogan has denied that charge, claiming the shoot-down was simply a case of defending Turkish territory, although, according to the Turkish account, the Russian plane strayed over a slice of Turkish territory for only 17 seconds. The Russians dispute even that, calling the attack a premeditated ambush.

President Obama and the mainstream U.S. press sided with Turkey, displaying almost relish at the deaths of Russians in Syria and also showing no sympathy for the Russian victims of an earlier terrorist bombing of a tourist flight over Sinai in Egypt. [See Consortiumnews.com’sObama Ignores Russian Terror Victims.”]

New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman expressed the prevailing attitude of Official Washington by ridiculing anyone who had praised Putin’s military intervention in Syria or who thought the Russian president was “crazy like a fox,” Friedman wrote: “Some of us thought he was just crazy.

“Well, two months later, let’s do the math: So far, Putin’s Syrian adventure has resulted in a Russian civilian airliner carrying 224 people being blown up, apparently by pro-ISIS militants in Sinai. Turkey shot down a Russian bomber after it strayed into Turkish territory. And then Syrian rebels killed one of the pilots as he parachuted to earth and one of the Russian marines sent to rescue him.”

Taking Sides

The smug contempt that the mainstream U.S. media routinely shows toward anything involving Russia or Putin may help explain the cavalier disinterest in NATO member Turkey’s reckless behavior. Though Turkey’s willful shoot-down of a Russian plane that was not threatening Turkey could have precipitated a nuclear showdown between Russia and NATO, criticism of Erdogan was muted at most.

Similarly, neither the Obama administration nor the mainstream media wants to address the overwhelming evidence that Turkey – along with other U.S. “allies” such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar – have been aiding and abetting Sunni jihadist groups, including Al Qaeda and Islamic State, for years. Instead, Official Washington plays along with the fiction that Saudi Arabia, Turkey and others are getting serious about combating terrorism.

The contrary reality is occasionally blurted out by a U.S. official or revealed when a U.S. intelligence report gets leaked or declassified. For instance, in 2009, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton noted in a confidential diplomatic memo, disclosed by Wikileaks, that “donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.”

According to a Defense Intelligence Agency report from August 2012, “AQI [Al Qaeda in Iraq, which later morphed into the Islamic State] supported the Syrian opposition from the beginning, both ideologically and through the media. … AQI declared its opposition of Assad’s government because it considered it a sectarian regime targeting Sunnis.”

The DIA report added, “The salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria. … The West, Gulf countries, and Turkey support the opposition.”

The DIA analysts already understood the risks that AQI presented both to Syria and Iraq. The report included a stark warning about the expansion of AQI, which was changing into the Islamic State. The brutal armed movement was seeing its ranks swelled by the arrival of global jihadists rallying to the black banner of Sunni militancy, intolerant of both Westerners and “heretics” from Shiite and other non-Sunni branches of Islam.

The goal was to establish a “Salafist principality in eastern Syria” where Islamic State’s caliphate is now located, and that this is “exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition” – i.e. the West, Gulf states, and Turkey – “want in order to isolate the Syrian regime,” the DIA report said.

In October 2014, Vice President Joe Biden told students at Harvard’s Kennedy School that “the Saudis, the emirates, etc. … were so determined to take down Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war … [that] they poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of military weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad except the people who were being supplied were Al Nusra and Al Qaeda.”

Despite these occasional bursts of honesty, the U.S. government and the mainstream media have put their goal of having another “regime change” – this time in Syria – and their contempt for Putin ahead of any meaningful cooperation toward defeating the Islamic State and Al Qaeda.

This ordering of priorities further means there is no practical reason to revisit who was responsible for the Aug. 21, 2013 sarin gas attack. If Assad’s government was innocent and Ergogan’s government shared in the guilt, that would present a problem for NATO, which would have to decide if Turkey had crossed a “red line” and deserved being expelled from the military alliance.

But perhaps even more so, an admission that the U.S. government and the U.S. news media had rushed to another incorrect judgment in the Middle East – and that another war policy was driven by propaganda rather than facts – could destroy what trust the American people have left in those institutions. On a personal level, it might mean that the pundits and the politicians who were wrong about Iraq’s WMD would have to acknowledge that they had learned nothing from that disaster.

It might even renew calls for some of them – the likes of The New York Times’ Friedman and The Washington Post’s editorial page editor Fred Hiatt – to finally be held accountable for consistently misinforming and misleading the American people.

So, at least for now — from a perspective of self-interest — it makes more sense for the Obama administration and major news outlets to ignore the developing story of a NATO ally’s ties to terrorism, including an alleged connection to a grave war crime, the sarin attack outside Damascus.


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

December 16, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New York Times propaganda article on Ukraine’s blockade of Crimea

By Roger Annis – New Cold War – December 2, 2015

Western media has published yet another doom and gloom article on Crimea, repeating a worn theme that surely, by now, the people of Crimea must be reconsidering their vote 21 months ago to secede from Ukraine and rejoin the Russian Federation.

The article was published in the New York Times on Dec 1 and is titled, ‘Months after Russian annexation, hopes start to dim in Crimea‘. This one  has to skate around a new, added twist to the Crimea story: the electricity and commercial road transport blockade that has been mounted by small numbers of the extreme-right in Ukraine but endorsed by the governing regime in Kyiv while Western governments turn a blind eye.

The article begins:

SHCHYOLKINO, Crimea–When residents in this typical Soviet factory town voted enthusiastically to secede from Ukraine and to become Russians, they thought the chaos and corruption that made daily life a struggle were a thing of the past. Now that many of them are being forced to cook and boil drinking water on open fires, however, they are beginning to reconsider.

The article employs time-honored methods for when a pre-determined, negative theme is required and important facts must be obscured.

One, find disgruntled citizens in the street and cite them. That’s not difficult to do–is there a country in the world without many unhappy citizens? The Times writer cites two such people in his article.

Two, make it appear that the disgruntled citizen(s) speaks for large numbers of his or her fellow citizens.

Three, negative imagery is important. Thus we read in the Times article, “Twenty months after the Kremlin annexed the Black Sea peninsula amid an outpouring of patriotic fervor by the ethnic Russian population, President Vladimir V. Putin’s promise in April 2014 to turn it into a showcase of his rule now seems as faded as Crimea’s aging, Soviet-era resorts.” Very evocative–‘aging, Soviet-era resorts’. This recalls the decades of New York Times reporting of aged-looking buildings in Cuba during the decades of the U.S. embargo of the island. The embargo made it difficult for Cuba to manufacture or obtain paint and building materials; such things as public health care, public education, international aid and solidarity, and national defense took priority. So yes, this writer visited Cuba three times during the 1990s and, indeed, many buildings in Havana looked aged. But the spirit of the people and the outlook for the country was anything but tired and worn out. To my eyes, the people were much more spirited and forward looking compared to what I experienced in wealthy Canada.

Four, the key word in all reporting of Crimea is “annex”, as per the above citation. The people in Crimea voted overwhelmingly in March 2014 for secession from Ukraine, following a violent, right-wing coup against the elected president of that country (a president for whom a large majority of Crimeans had voted in 2010). The secession referendum was organized by the elected and constitutional Crimean legislature, whose legality contrasted sharply with the illegal, coup regime which came into power in Kyiv on Feb 21, 2014. Crimeans have affirmed in survey after survey that they are satisfied with the secession decision. Yet, Crimeans are presented in the Times as hapless people who have been “annexed” by Russia. The Times reference to the secession as happening “amid an outpouring of patriotic fervor” suggests that the people were so swept away by fervor as to be too dumb to realize what was really taking place. They were not choosing a future of their own free will; no, they were undergoing “annexation” without even being aware.

Five, blame the victims for their plight. Thus we read in the Times article , “… people here are not sure whom to blame more for their predicament: the Crimean Tatar activists and Ukrainian nationalists who cut off Crimea’s link to the Ukrainian power grid or the local government officials who claimed to have enough power generators stored away to handle such an emergency.” Here we have an absurd spectacle of the Crimean government being blamed for failing to foresee and prepare for the day that right-wing extremists in Ukraine would blow up the electricity transmission lines serving the peninsula. Even more recklessly, the Crimean government failed to foresee that the blowing up of transmission lines by right-wing terrorists (oops, “cutting off of Crimea’s links” by “activists”) would be endorsed and escalated by the regime in Kyiv and that Western governments would turn a blind eye and Western media would largely be silent.

Six, and finally, choice of headline to convey the negative message is key. In this case, we have “hopes start to dim”. In reality, the Times headline joins a long parade of such headlines. Pick a typical, negative word, use it alongside the word “Crimea” in an internet search, and, voilà, you arrive in a world of negativity over prospects for Crimea. Here is a small sample of the trade in negative Crimea headlines and stories:

  • Crimea’s football fans shiver at prospect of their team playing in Siberia (The Guardian, March 2014)
  • Why Russia’s Crimea move fails legal test, (BBC, March 2014)
  • Crimea after annexation: ‘We feel utterly discouraged,’ resident says (Belsat TV, in Belarus, April 2014)
  • Crimea euphoria fades for some Russians (Reuters, July 2014)
  • Tourism suffers in Crimea as Ukraine shuns breakaway region (Washington Post, Aug 2014)
  • Kremlin preparing to combat demos as signs of Crimea-fatigue appear, (‘Euromaidan Press‘, Sept 2014)
  • Human rights in decline in Crimea (Human Rights Watch, Nov 2014)
  • To many in Crimea, corruption seems no less at home under Russian rule, New York Times, Aug 2015)

Oddly–well, not so oddly–the last article in this list was about Crimean citizens trying to take back into public control Black Sea waterfront land which had been lost during Crimea’s time in post-1991 Ukraine.

Funnily enough, the Times article concludes with a quotation from a Crimean woman that is supposed to show that Russians are naïve and habitual complainers who always blame others for their failings and shortcomings. But the quotation is the closest thing to truth in the entire article (leaving aside the suggestion that the extreme rightists in Ukraine who blew up electricity lines are “Tatars”):

As often happens in Russia, some blame Washington rather than Moscow or Kiev.

“If it wasn’t for the Americans, none of it could have happened. The Tatars, who are supported by the United States, would not do a thing,” said Tatyana Bragina, 57, an energetic woman who also once worked construction at a nearby, unfinished nuclear plant.

“Please write that we are not desperate. On the contrary, we are full of joy,” Ms. Bragina said, standing near a black iron kettle boiling away in the courtyard of her apartment block.

Russian legislator Konstantin Kosachev has said that Kyiv’s electricity and road-transport blockades against Crimea constitute a “gesture of final farewell” to Crimea.

Russia is racing to construct electricity, natural gas, road and rail links to Crimea across the 3 km wide Kerch Strait, which  separates the Sea of Azov from the Black Sea. The first of the electricity will begin to flow in a few weeks. Crimea will be fully supplied with electricity by the summer 2016. Soon after that, it will be producing its own electricity courtesy of the gas pipeline under construction. By 2019, the road and rail bridge will begin to operate.

December 3, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ecuador Rejects HRW Report as “Manipulative”

teleSUR – November 12, 2015

In a statement released Wednesday, Ecuador’s governing party, Alianza PAIS, rejected the “latest political intervention against the government of Ecuador by the U.S.-based organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) in its report released on 10 November 2015.”

The report made unsubstantiated claims that “the administration of President Rafael Correa has expanded state control over media and civil society” and argued that security forces used “excessive force” against “peaceful” protests this year. It left out important context, such as the calls by the leaders of those protests to get rid of the democratically elected and very popular left wing government. The report criticized Ecuador because the well known US political tool, USAID shut their offices this year, and claimed the government has “broad powers to limit free speech.” Finally, the report took a political position on Ecuador’s internal legislative decisions.

“This organization repeatedly ignores the unprecedented advances in human rights that have occurred in Ecuador while manipulating human rights discourse to unjustly attack the nation’s elected government. It is not the first time HRW releases partisan reports against Latin America’s progressive governments,” Alianza PAIS stated.

Allianza PAIS accused HRW of misrepresenting the sizes of demonstrations, minimizing opposition violence, and of misrepresenting the state of emergency declared with the eruption of the Cotopaxi volanco – portraying that measure as a repressive tool.

“The sources of HRW’s funding, including corporate funding, contribute to its political bias while its board members and advisers have links with the financial, military and political sectors, the latter criticized by significant figures including Nobel laureates,” Alianza stated.

November 13, 2015 Posted by | Deception | , , , , | Leave a comment

Faulty Analysis and Conclusions on Syria

By Rick Sterling | CounterPunch | October 21, 2015

Recently CounterPunch published an article Obama’s Legacy: An Abyss Gazing Backwards by Muhammad Idrees Ahmad. It exemplifies the faulty analysis and conclusions of those advocating direct U.S. intervention in Syria, from far right wing neoconservatives to liberals and even some self-styled Marxists.

Because of the dangerous consequences of these assumptions and conclusions, it is important that they be critically examined. We can use the above mentioned article as an example.

The same article with different title was published one week earlier in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) paper The National. The title was “Obama’s legacy is tarnished as Putin fills the vacuum in Syria”.

The Syrian “vacuum” is a popular myth promoted by those who want the U.S. to become more aggressive in Syria. In reality the U.S. has very actively aided and abetted the violent opposition in Syria from the start. The Defense Information Agency report from August 2012 confirms that weapons were flowing to the Syrian armed opposition after the overthrow of the Libyan government in Fall 2011. The claim that the U.S. was only supplying communications equipment and other non-lethal supplies in 2012 and 2013 was for public consumption and ‘plausible deniability’. In reality the U.S. was supplying great quantities of weapons. The ‘dark side’ included a huge budget for CIA operations including training and arming the Syrian armed opposition. Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and UAE were spending billions annually in support of mercenaries and fanatics trying to overthrow the secular Damascus government. Contrary to what Ahmad says, the US-backed rebels were largely a fiction. Apart from the Islamic State in the Levant (ISIL or ISIS), the most effective fighting force was the official Al Qaeda franchise, Jabhat al Nusra. Out of the public view, to the extent it existed, FSA was working closely with Nusra/Al Qaeda.

In a confusing use of terms, Ahmad contrasts “counter-terrorism” with “counter-insurgency”. What he means by “counter-insurgency” is regime change via direct intervention or invasion. What he means by “counter-terrorism” is regime change via coup or proxy army.

Pakistan-born Muhammad Idrees Ahmad suggests that Obama is spineless because he has opted for “counter-terrorism” (proxy armies, drone strikes, etc) instead of “counter-insurgency” (direct U.S. Attacks). This is short-sighted and ahistorical. There is no public desire for another US invasion of another country. This is partly because the Iraq invasion and disaster is still fresh in the public mind. It also follows a pattern from the past: after the defeat of the US invasion of Vietnam, the US reverted to using a proxy army (the Contras) against Nicaragua in the early 1980s.

But warmongers in the media, such as Ahmad, are not the public. More often than not, they reflect the views of their sponsors. It’s no surprise that Ahmad’s article was first published by UAE’s The National. The United Arab Emirates is closely allied with Saudi Arabia and vigorously promotes conflict with Iran. A recent expose on the UAE Ambassador to Washington shows the level of corruption in Washington, how easy it is to win influence throwing money around, and the core policy of the United Arab Emirates. This policy is aligned with Israel and opposed to Iran, Syria, Russia. The celebrity ambassador, Yousef al Otaiba, is vigorously campaigning for the U.S. to intervene or attack Syria directly. The subtitle of the article succinctly describes the UAE Ambassador:

“Yousef Al Otaiba is the most charming man in Washington: He’s slick, he’s savvy and he throws one hell of a party. And if he has his way, our Middle East policy is going to get a lot more aggressive.”

What connects Otaiba and Ahmad is the tiny wealthy monarchy known as the United Arab Emirates and promotion of U.S. aggression against Syria.

Ahmad says “Obama betrayed his hand long ago when he failed to match hot rhetoric with even modest action …. [when] Assad brazenly breached his ‘red line’ by using chemical weapons” . This assertion is standard fare for journalists promoting war. In reality the accusation has been largely disproved. The Human Rights Watch “vector” analysis was dubious from the beginning and then entirely discredited. The most thorough investigation concludes the weapons were launched from territory held by the armed opposition. American investigative reporters Seymour Hersh, Robert Parry and Gareth Porter, plus former CIA officer Ray McGovern, have all concluded the attacks were likely by the armed opposition trying to trap the U.S. into bombing Syria. Muhammad Idrees Ahmad, like nearly all mainstream journalists promoting the war, ignores the contrary evidence.

In tandem with “Obama is weak” goes “Russia is strong” or “Russia looks strong” or “Putin looks strong because Obama is weak”. The media warmongers are like kids on a school playground, trying to egg on a fight. Except in this case it’s not a bloody nose at stake; it’s the lives of tens of thousands of Syrians and potentially millions in World War 3.

Ahmad outdoes himself in the charge for war by claiming “Russian actions in Syria are an act of aggression against the country’s beleaguered people.” In contrast with his fantasy, virtually the entire Syrian population are hugely relieved and happy that Russia has started providing air support, modern laser guided weapons and satellite information to help reverse the tide. An American Syrian friend who lives in Latakia recently reported that people in the city were extremely worried in August through mid September with increasing car bombs and jihadi fired missiles coming into the city. They are now starting to feel safe again. The mood has dramatically changed for the better. Another Syrian friend reported that in his home village near Homs, women were ululating in happiness when Russian jet fighters attacked nearby ISIS and Nusra camps.

Those seeking direct US/NATO intervention in Syria describe the conflict as “weak Obama vs strong Putin”. They are unhappy and critical because the proxy army has failed to overthrow the Syrian government. They want direct invasion even if it risks world war. It’s a very dangerous and deluded mindset. Above all it profoundly ignores or distorts the wishes of the Syrian people who have consistently and increasingly made clear they do not support the violent opposition. Two years ago a poll commissioned by NATO revealed that 70% of the population supports the government.

The conflict in Syria shows what happens when international law is ignored with impunity. Both the UN Charter and customary international law prohibit one country using force, directly or by proxy army, against another.

The Syrian conflict shows what happens when the “rule of the jungle” prevails. The “abyss” is not Syrians getting support from Russia and starting to prevail over mercenaries and sectarian fanatics. The “abyss” is the death and destruction of the cradle of civilization caused by clear aggression. The Obama legacy significantly depends on whether he resists or caves in to warmongers such as Muhammad Idrees Ahmad and the Ambassador from UAE.

Rick Sterling is a co-founder of Syria Solidarity Movement. He can be contacted at rsterling1@gmail.com

October 21, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | Leave a comment

Deconstructing the NATO Narrative on Syria

By Eva Bartlett | Dissident Voice | October 10, 2015

Over the past five years, the increasingly ridiculous propaganda against President al-Assad and the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has ranged from the scripted (OTPOR fomented -“revolution“) “peaceful protesters under fire” rhetoric, to other deceitful lexicon like “civil war,” and “moderate rebels.”

As the intervention campaigns continue with new terrorist and “humanitarian” actors (literally) constantly emerging in the NATO-alliance’s theatre of death squads, it is worth reviewing some of the important points regarding the war on Syria.

Million Person Marches

On March 29, 2011 (less than two weeks into the fantasy “revolution”) over 6 million people across Syria took to the streets in support of President al-Assad. In June, a reported hundreds of thousands marched in Damascus in support of the president, with a 2.3 km long Syrian flag. In November, 2011 (9 months into the chaos), masses again held demonstrations supporting President al-Assad, notably in Homs (the so-called “capital of the ‘revolution’”), Dara’a (the so-called “birthplace of the ‘revolution’”), Deir ez-Zour, Raqqa, Latakia, and Damascus.

Mass demonstrations like this have occurred repeatedly since, including in March 2012, in May 2014 in the lead-up to Presidential elections, and in June 2015, to note just some of the larger rallies.

In May 2013, it was reported that even NATO recognized the Syrian president’s increased popularity. “The data, relayed to NATO over the last month, asserted that 70 percent of Syrians support” the Assad government. At present, the number is now at least 80 percent.

The most telling barometer of Assad’s support base was the Presidential elections in June 2014, which saw 74 percent (11.6 million) of 15.8 million registered Syrian voters vote, with President al-Assad winning 88 percent of the votes. The lengths Syrians outside of Syria went to in order to vote included flooding the Syrian embassy in Beirut for two full days (and walking several kilometres to get there) and flying from countries with closed Syrian embassies to Damascus airport simply to cast their votes. Within Syria, Syrians braved terrorist mortars and rockets designed to keep them from voting; 151 shells were fired on Damascus alone, killing 5 and maiming 33 Syrians.

For a more detailed look at his broad base of popular support, see Professor Tim Anderson’s “Why Syrians Support Bashar al Assad.”

The Reforms

Prior to the events of March 2011 Syrians did have legitimate desires for specific reforms, many of which were implemented from the beginning of the unrest. In fact, President al-Assad made reforms prior to and following March 17, 2011.

Stephen Gowans noted some of those early reforms, including:

  • Canceling the Emergency Law;
  • Amending the the constitution and putting it to a referendum [8.4 million Syrians voted; 7.5 million voted in favour of the constitution];
  • Scheduling, then holding, multi-party parliamentary and presidential elections

The constitution, according to Gowans, “mandated that the government maintain a role in guiding the economy on behalf of Syrian interests, and that the Syrian government would not make Syrians work for the interests of Western banks, oil companies, and other corporations.”

It also included:

  • “security against sickness, disability and old age; access to health care; free education at all levels”
  • a provision “requiring that at minimum half the members of the People’s Assembly are to be drawn from the ranks of peasants and workers.”

Political commentator Jay Tharappel further articulated:

The new constitution introduced a multi-party political system in the sense that the eligibility of political parties to participate isn’t based on the discretionary permission of the Baath party or on reservations, rather on a constitutional criteria… the new constitution forbids political parties that are based on religion, sect or ethnicity, or which are inherently discriminatory towards one’s gender or race. (2012: Art.8)

No surprise that NATO’s exile-Syrian pawns refused the reforms and a constitution which ensures a sovereign Syria secure from the claws of multi-national corporations and Western banks.

In his article, “Decriminalising Bashar – towards a more effective anti-war movement,” writer Carlos Martinez outlined Syria’s positives, including its anti-imperialist, socialist policies; its secularism and multiculturalism; and—poignantly—its continued support for Palestinians and anti-Zionist stance.

These are all points that contradict the lies spewed over the past nearly five years, and shatter the feeble justification for continuing to wage war on Syria.

Twisting the Numbers to Serve the War Agenda

The number and nature of Syrians killed varies depending on which list one consults. Many talking heads draw from one sole source, UK-based Syrian Rami Abdulrahman of the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) (run out of his home and based on information provided largely by unnamed “activists”). Abdulrahman hasn’t been to Syria for 15 years, and, as Tony Cartalucci noted, is “a member of the so-called ‘Syrian opposition’ and seeks the ouster of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad.” Further, Cartalucci explained, “Abdul Rahman’s operation is indeed funded by the European Union and a “European country” he refuses to identify.” So not an impartial source.

In her February 2012 “Questioning the Syrian Casualty List,” political analyst Sharmine Narwani laid out the logistical difficulties of collating the number of deaths, including:

  • Different casualty lists and difficulty confirming accuracy of any of them.
  • Lack of information on: how deaths were verified and by whom and from what motivation.
  • Lack of information on the dead: civilian, pro or anti government civilians; armed groups; Syrian security forces?”

She found that one early casualty list included 29 Palestinian refugees “killed by Israeli fire on the Golan Heights on 15 May 2011 and 5 June 2011 when protesters congregated on Syria’s armistice line with Israel.”

Jay Tharappel looked at two of the other prime groups cited regarding casualties in Syria: the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) and the Violations Documentation Center (VDC).

He noted that neither of the groups “are ‘independent’ in the sense that they function merely to provide facts, they’re all open about their agenda to overthrow the Syrian government…and for the imposition of a no-fly zone on behalf of the ‘moderate rebels’, whoever they are.”

Further, according to Tharappel, “the SNHR doesn’t provide any evidence to substantiate its assertions about the numbers killed by government forces. They claim to have ‘documented [victims] by full name, place, and date of death,’ however none of these can be found on their website.”

Regarding the VDC, he wrote, “there are good reasons to believe the VDC is listing dead insurgents as civilians, as well as mislabeling dead government soldiers as FSA fighters.”

One example he cited was the listing of a Jaysh al-Islam militant, ‘Hisham Al-Sheikh Bakri’, killed by the SAA in Douma (infested with Jaysh al-Islam terrorists), in February 2015, which al-Masdar News reported. The VDC also listed ‘Hisham Abd al-Aziz al-Shaikh Bakri’, “however this one is listed as an adult male civilian and not a Jaish Al-Islam fighter,” Tharappel wrote.

Even embedded war reporter Nir Rosen, Tharappel recalled, in 2012 wrote:

Every day the opposition gives a death toll, usually without any explanation of the cause of the deaths. Many of those reported killed are in fact dead opposition fighters, but the cause of their death is hidden and they are described in reports as innocent civilians killed by security forces, as if they were all merely protesting or sitting in their homes.

It would be an understatement to say there are considerable, and intentional, inaccuracies in the lists of these groups. In fact, most of the aforementioned groups fail to note what commentators like Paul Larudee did:

The UN estimates 220,000 deaths thus far in the Syrian war. But almost half are Syrian army soldiers or allied local militia fighters, and two thirds are combatants if we count opposition fighters. Either way, the ratio of civilian to military casualties is roughly 1:2, given that the opposition is also inflicting civilian casualties. Compare that to the roughly 3:1 ratio in the US war in Iraq and 4:1 in the Israeli attack on Gaza in 2008-9. (The rate of Palestinian to Israeli casualties was an astronomical 100:1.)

“Leftists” Keeping the Myths Alive

Public figures like Owen Jones, and pro-Palestinian sites like the Middle East Eye and the Electronic Intifada, have a following for their more palatable (and safe) solidarity stance on Palestine, but routinely spew rhetoric against Syria, which is then echoed by their well-intentioned, if very misinformed, followers.

Much of grassroots “Leftists”’ anti-Syria propaganda is as poisonous as corporate media. Routinely, at ostensibly anti-war/anti-Imperialist gatherings, the anti-Syria narrative is predominant.

For example, at the March 2015 World Social Forum in Tunis, some Syria-specific panels spun the fairy tale of “revolutionaries” in Syria, one panel alleging: “The protests in Syria were peaceful for almost six or seven months; 6-7000 unarmed people were killed; only then did ‘rebels’ eventually take up arms.”

Yet, it is known that from the beginning, in Dara’a  and throughout Syria, armed protesters were firing upon, and butchering, security forces and civilians. Tim Anderson’s “Syria: how the violence began, in Daraa” pointed out that police were killed by snipers in the March 17/18 protests; the Syrian army was only brought to Dara’a following the murder of the policemen. Additionally, a storage of protesters’ weapons was found in Dara’a’s al-Omari mosque.

Prem Shankar Jha’s, “Who Fired The First Shot?” described the slaughter of 20 Syrian soldiers outside Dara’a a month later, “by cutting their throats, and cutting off the head of one of the soldiers.” A very “moderate”-rebel practice.

In “Syria: The Hidden Massacre” Sharmine Narwani investigated the early massacres of Syrian soldiers, noting that many of the murders occurred even after the Syrian government had abolished the state security courts, lifted the state of emergency, granted general amnesties, and recognized the right to peaceful protest.

The April 10, 2011 murder of Banyas farmer Nidal Janoud was one of the first horrific murders of Syrian civilians by so-called “unarmed protesters.” Face gashed open, mutilated and bleeding, Janoud was paraded by an armed mob, who then hacked him to death.

Father Frans Van der Ludt—the Dutch priest living in Syria for nearly 5 decades prior to his April 7, 2014 assassination by militants occupying the old city of Homs—wrote (repeatedly) of the “armed demonstrators” he saw in early protests, “who began to shoot at the police first.”

May 2011 video footage of later-resigned Al Jazeera journalist Ali Hashem shows fighters entering Syria from Lebanon, carrying guns and RPGs (Hashem stated he’d likewise seen fighters entering in April). Al Jazeera refused to air the May footage, telling Hashem to ‘forget there are armed men.’ [See: Sharmine Narwani’s “Surprise Video Changes Syria “Timeline””] Unarmed protesters?

The Sectarian Card: Slogans and Massacres

What sectarianism we see in Syria today was delivered primarily by the Wahabi and Muslim Brotherhood (MB) regimes of Saudi Arabia and Qatar and by Turkey, with NATO’s blessing and backing. The cross-sect make-up of both the Syrian State and the Syrian army alone speaks of Syria’s intentional secularism, as well as the prevalent refusal of average Syrians to self-identify along sectarian lines.

On the other hand, from the beginning, the West’s “nonviolent protesters” were chanting sectarian slogans, notably, “Christians to Beirut, Alawis to the grave.” Other popular chants included: calling for the extermination of all Alawis; pledging allegiance to Saudi-based extremist Syrian Sheikh Adnan Arour and to extremist MB supporting Egyptian Sheikh, Yusuf al-Qardawi.

Qatar-based Qaradawi advocates killing Syrian civilians: “It is OK to kill one third of the Syrian population if it leads to the toppling of the heretical regime.” The inflammatory Arour said about Syria’s Alawis: “By Allah we shall mince them in meat grinders and feed their flesh to the dogs.”

The NATO alliance’s terrorists have committed numerous massacres of Syrian civilians and soldiers, many of which were intended to sow sectarianism, including:

  • The June 2011 Jisr al Shugour, Idlib, massacre of up to 120 people (soldiers and civilians) by between 500-600 so-called FSA terrorists; blamed on the SAA as having killed “military deserters”. [see Prem Shankar Jha’s  article “Syria – Who fired the first shot?”]
  • The Houla massacre of over 100 civilians on May 25, 2012, which only 2 days later the UN claimed—without an investigation— had been committed by the Syrian Army. [See Tim Anderson’s detailed rebuttal, “The Houla Massacre Revisited: “Official Truth” in the Dirty War on Syria” In the same article, Anderson also looked at the August 2012 Daraya massacre of 245 people and the December 2012 Aqrab massacre of up to 150 villagers.
  • The August 2013 massacre of at least 220 civilians (including a fetus, many children, women, elderly) and kidnapping of at least 100 (mostly women and children) in villages in the Latakia countryside.
  • The December 2013 massacre of at least 80 residents (many “slaughtered like sheep”, decapitated, burned in bakery ovens) in Adra industrial village.
  • The continued terrorist-mortaring of civilian areas and schools; the repeated terrorist-car-bombing of civilian areas and schools. [see: “The Terrorism We Support in Syria: A First-hand Account of the Use of Mortars against Civilians”]

Yet, in spite of outside forces attempts to sow sectarianism in Syria, the vast majority of Syrian people refuse it. Re-visiting Syria in July 2015, Professor Tim Anderson recounted that Latakia alone “has grown from 1.3 million to around 3 million people – they come from all parts, not just Aleppo, also Hama, Deir eZorr, and other areas.” He also visited Sweida, a mainly Druze region, which has accommodated “135,000 families, mainly from Daraa – others from other parts”. Mainly Sunni families.

The Syrian “Civil War”?!

Given that:

  • At least 80,000 terrorists from over 80 countries are fighting as mercenaries in Syria;
  • Israel has repeatedly bombed Syria [examples here, here and here];
  • Israel is treating al-Qaeda terrorists in their hospitals and enabling their transit back and forth into Syria, as well as arming them—even Israeli media have reported that Israel is providing aid to al-Qaeda terrorists; even the UN has reported on Israeli soldiers interacting with Jebhat al-Nusra in the occupied Syrian Golan;
  • Turkey is not only arming and funneling terrorists into Syria but also repeatedly co-attacks Syria;
  • the whole crisis was manufactured in imperialist think tanks years before the 2011 events;

…“Civil war” is the absolute last term that could be used to describe the war on Syria.

In 2002, then-Under Secretary of State John Bolton added Syria (and Libya, Cuba) to the “rogue states” of George W Bush’s “Axis of Evil,”…meaning Syria was on the list of countries to “bring democracy to” (aka destroy) even back then.

Anthony Cartalucci’s “US Planned Syrian Civilian Catastrophe Since 2007” laid out a number of pivotal statements and events regarding not only the war on Syria but also the events which would be falsely-dubbed the “Arab Spring.” Points include:

  • General Wesley Clark’s revelation of US plans to destroy the governments of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Iran.
  • Seymour Hersh’s 2007 “The Redirection” on NATO and allies’ arming and training of sectarian extremists to create sectarian divide in Lebanon, Syria and beyond.

The 2009 Brookings Institution report, “Which Path to Persia?”, on plans to weaken Syria and Lebanon, to later attack Iran.

Further, Stephen Gowans reported:

  • U.S. funding to the Syrian opposition began flowing under the Bush administration in 2005.
  • Since its founding in October 2011, the Syrian National Council has received $20.4 million from Libya, $15 million from Qatar, $5 million from the UAE.

Former French Minister for Foreign Affairs, Roland Dumas, in a June 2013 TV interview spoke of his meeting (two years prior) with British officials who confessed that:

Britain was organizing an invasion of rebels into Syria. This operation goes way back. It was prepared, preconceived and planned.

More recent evidence of the NATO-alliance plot against Syria includes a June 2012 NY Times article noting the CIA support for “rebels” in Syria, including providing and funneling “automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, ammunition and some antitank weapons” from Turkey to Syria. The article said:

A small number of C.I.A. officers are operating secretly in southern Turkey, helping allies decide which Syrian opposition fighters across the border will receive arms to fight the Syrian government, according to American officials and Arab intelligence officers.

In October 2014, Serena Shim, a US journalist working for Press TV, was killed in a highly suspicious car crash near Turkey’s border with Syria shortly after reporting she had been threatened by Turkish intelligence. Shim had previously reported she had photos of “militants going in through the Turkish border… I’ve got images of them in World Food Organization trucks.”

Similar statements have been made. For example, testimony of a Turkish driver explaining “how vehicles would be accompanied by MİT agents during the trip, which would start from the Atme camp in Syria and end at the border town of Akçakale in Şanlıurfa Province, where the militants and cargo would reenter Syria.”

In July, 2015, Press TV reported that terrorists caught in Aleppo confessed to receiving training by US and Gulf personnel in Turkey.

As I wrote, “in a November 2014 report, the Secretary-General mentioned the presence of al-Nusra and other terrorists in the ceasefire area ‘unloading weapons from a truck,’ as well as a ‘vehicle with a mounted anti-aircraft gun’ and Israeli ‘interactions’ with ‘armed gangs.’”

Given all of this, and America’s plan to train up to 15,000 more “rebels” over the next three years, it is beyond ridiculous that the inappropriate term “civil war” continues to be propagated.

DA’ESH and Other Moderates

In June, 2015, Anthony Cartalucci wrote about a recently-released 2012 Department of Defense document which admitted that the US foresaw ISIS’ establishing a “Salafist principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want….”

He outlined the flow of weapons and terrorists from Libya to Syria, via Turkey, “coordinated by US State Department officials and intelligence agencies in Benghazi – a terrorist hotbed for decades,” as well as weapons from Eastern Europe.

Earlier “moderates” include the Farouq Brigades‘ (of the so-called “FSA”) organ-eating terrorist “Abu Sakkar,” and those numerous “FSA” and al-Nusra militants who committed the massacres listed above, to name but a portion.

“Human Rights” Front Groups Promoting War Rhetoric

Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Avaaz, Moveon, and lesser-known, newly-created groups like The Syria Campaign, The White Helmets, and Action Group for Palestinians in Syria, are complicit in war-propagandizing and even calling for a (Libya 2.0) no-fly-zone bombing campaign of Syria.

On HRW, geopolitical analyst Eric Draitser noted:

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…

Vigilant Twitter users have called out HRW’s lying Ken Roth for tweeting a photo he claimed to be Aleppo’s destruction from “barrel bombs” but which was, in fact, Ayn al-Arab (Kobani) post-Da’esh attacks and US-coalition bombs. In another outrageous case, Roth tweeted a video of the flattened al-Shuja’iyya neighborhood of Gaza, devastated by Israeli bombing in 2014, purporting it to be Aleppo.

Again, he was called out, forcing a weak retraction. Post-retraction, he tweeted yet another image of destruction, again claiming it to be from “Assad’s barrel bombs” but which was according to the photo byline Hamidiyeh, Aleppo, where “local popular committee fighters, who support the Syrian government forces, try to defend the traditionally Christian district” against ISIS.

On Amnesty International, Anthony Cartalucci wrote:

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…

Highlighting just one instance of AI’s slick maneuvering, Rick Sterling, in his May 2015 “Eight Problems with Amnesty’s Report on Aleppo Syria” outed Amnesty for not only normalizing sending weapons to terrorists in Syria but suggesting how to do so in an underhand means. He emphasized:

This is an amazing statement, effectively sanctioning the supplying of arms to insurgents who agree to follow ‘humanitarian’ rules of war.

Sterling further noted that Amnesty:

  • relied on groups “either based in, or receiving funds from, Turkey, USA or one of the other countries heavily involved in seeking overthrow of the Damascus government.
  • did not seek testimonies from the “two-thirds of the displaced persons in Syria INSIDE Syria…people who fled Aleppo and are now living in Homs, Latakia, Damascus or in Aleppo under government control.”

In “Humanitarians for War on Syria” Sterling elaborated on the intervention campaign:

The goal is to prepare the public for a “No Fly Zone” enforced by US and other military powers. This is how the invasion of Iraq began. This is how the public was prepared for the US/NATO air attack on Libya.

The results of western ‘regime change’ in Iraq and Libya have been disastrous. … Avaaz is ramping up its campaign trying to reach 1 million people signing a petition for a “Safe Zone” in Syria.

Sterling wrote on the  “White Helmets”, “created by the UK and USA in 2013. Civilians from rebel controlled territory were paid to go to Turkey to receive some training in rescue operations. The program was managed by James Le Mesurier, a former British soldier and private contractor…” He noted the ties between WH and anti-Syria actors, including Jabat al-Nusra. One example of their propaganda: “Video of the recent alleged chlorine gas attacks starts with the White Helmet logo and continues with the logo of Nusra. In reality, White Helmets is a small rescue team for Nusra/Al Queda (sic).”

Vanessa Beeley’s “‘White Helmets’: New Breed of Mercenaries and Propagandists, Disguised as ‘Humanitarians’ in Syria” further flushed out the propaganda elements of the WH operation and their parroting of the MSM/HR industry anti-Syrian rhetoric.

The list of “humanitarian” actors is long, and the list of their war-propagating lies even longer. [see: “Human Rights” front groups (“Humanitarian Interventionalists”) warring on Syria]

The Yarmouk Card

A district of Damascus formerly housing over one million residents, of whom 160,000 were Palestinian refugees, according to the UN, the rest Syrians, the plight of Yarmouk neighbourhood has been used by “humanitarian” campaigners to pull at heartstrings and to further confuse supporters of Palestine on the subject of Syria and the State’s treatment of Palestinians. In fact, Syria has been one of Palestine’s greatest advocates and friends, providing Palestinian refugees in Syria with a quality of life equal to that of Syrians, including free education, health care and other social services. The same cannot even remotely be said of any of Palestine’s neighbouring countries, where Palestinian refugees languish in abysmal refugee camps and are denied the right to professional employment, and affordable and quality health care and education, much less dignity.

The United Nations, the HR industry, and the media obfuscate on Yarmouk, ignoring or whitewashing both the presence of various terrorist groups and the role of some Palestinian factions in enabling these groups entry, as well as fighting alongside them against the Syrian government. Talking heads also pointedly ignore the Syrian government-facilitated evacuations of Yarmouk residents to government, community, and UN provided shelters. They likewise ignore the documented repeated and continuous terrorists attacks on government and other aid distribution within the neighbourhood, as well as on anti-terrorist demonstrations held by Yarmouk residents.

One such demonstration occurred in May 2013, with UK-media Sky News’ Tim Marshall present as demonstrators came under so-called “rebel” fire. He reported:

… Some screamed at us: “Please tell the world the truth! We don’t want the fighters here, we want the army to kill them!”… About 1,000 people were in the demonstration. …The shooting began almost immediately. A man went down, followed by others. …As they passed us a man stopped and shouted that he was sure the fighters were not Syrians but men paid to come to Damascus and kill people…

In his April 2015 “Who Are the Starving and Besieged Residents of Yarmouk and Why Are They There?” Paul Larudee asked:

Who are the remaining civilians and why are they refusing to evacuate to outside shelter like so many others? Local humanitarian relief supervisors report (personal communication) that some of them are not from Yarmouk and some are not Palestinian. They include the families of Syrian and foreign fighters that are trying to overthrow the Syrian government by force of arms, and some of them came from districts adjacent to Yarmouk, such as the Daesh stronghold of Hajar al-Aswad.

Larudee’s article further addressed the issues of:

  • the Syrian government allowing food aid into the district: “…it has allowed the stockpiling of supplies on the edge of the camp and it has permitted civilians from inside to collect and distribute the aid….”
  • the Syrian military’s siege tactic (combined with evacuation of civilians): “The objective is to remove the civilians from the area as much as possible and then attack the enemy or provoke surrender…”

Analyst Sharmine Narwani observed:

The Syrian government has every right to blockade the border areas between Yarmouk and Damascus to prevent extremist gunmen from entering the capital. I have been in Yarmouk several times, including last year, and have talked to aid workers inside the camp, including UNRWA. The Syrian government, in their view, assists in getting aid and food to refugee populations inside the camp – contrary to western narratives and those activists like the EI activists… most of whom appear not to have set foot inside Yarmouk since the early days of the conflict.

Although the figure of 18,000 remaining Palestinians in Yarmouk may have been accurate in October 2013, today, after the evacuation of thousands, anti-Syria publications continue to cite 18,000. Journalist Lizzie Phelan, who visited Yarmouk in September 2015, says the number remaining is around 4,000.

Most media and HR groups are not reporting that there are Palestinian fighters fighting alongside the SAA, in Yarmouk and other parts of Syria, against the NATO-alliance’s fighters. Al Masdar News reported in June 2015:

…ISIS originally launched a successful offensive at the Yarmouk Camp District in the month of March; however, after a joint counter-assault by the PFLP-GC, Fatah Al-Intifada, the Palestine Liberation Army (PLA), and members of Aknef Al-Maqdis; ISIS was forced to withdrawal to the southern sector of the district, leaving only the southern axis under their control.

Sharmine Narwani’s “Stealing Palestine: Who dragged Palestinians into Syria’s conflict?” is essential reading, to understand the current situation in Syria vis-a-vis its Palestinian refugees. As for Palestinians themselves, the Syria Solidarity Movement published a statement which emphasized that “more than 1101 Palestinian groups and individuals declare their solidarity with the Syrian people and the Syrian state.” Signatories include Jerusalem’s Archbishop Atallah Hanna, the Palestinian Popular Forum, Yarmouk, and other Palestinian Yarmouk residents.

Serial Chemical Offenders Remain at Large

Israel has on more than one occasion used prohibited chemical and other weapons on the locked-down nearly 2 million Palestinians of Gaza. During the 2008/2009 Israeli massacre of Gaza, the Israeli army rained white phosphorous on schools sheltering displaced Palestinian families, on homes, and on hospitals (of which I gathered video, photo and witness evidence at the time). Israel also used DIME on the Palestinians of Gaza. Yet, Israel remains unpunished, and receives ever increasing billions of dollars and new weaponry every year. Nor has the US ever been held accountable for its widespread criminal use of CW, such as on the people of Vietnam, of Iraq.

The US and HR actors have repeatedly—and without evidence—accused Syria of using Sarin gas, then Chlorine, accusations which have been amply refuted. Seymour Hersh’s probe on the sarin attacks was so damning US mainstream media wouldn’t print it.

In rebuttal to the May 2015 accusation of chlorine attacks — as always followed with human rights groups’ calls for a No-Fly Zone —Stephen Gowans wrote:

As a weapon, chlorine gas is exceedingly ineffective. It is lethal only in highly concentrated doses and where medical treatment is not immediately available. It is far less effective than conventional weapons. Why, then, would the Syrian army use a highly ineffective weapon, which is deplored by world public opinion, and whose use would provide the United States a pretext to directly intervene militarily in Syria, when it has far more effective conventional weapons, which are not deplored by world public opinion, and whose use does not deliver a pretext to Washington to intervene? (See also Gowans’ “New York Times Complicit in Spreading False Syria Allegations”)

Tim Anderson investigated the August 2013 Ghouta attacks, pointing out:

  • UN investigator Carla del Ponte had testimony from victims that ‘rebels’ had used sarin gas in a prior attack
  • Turkish security forces sarin in the homes of Jabhat al Nusra fighters.
  • Evidence of video manipulation in the Ghouta attacks.
  • “Parents identified children in photos as those kidnapped in Latakia, two weeks earlier.”
  • “CW had been supplied by Saudis to ‘rebel’ groups, some locals had died due to mishandling.”
  • “Three of five CW attacks were ‘against soldiers’ or ‘against soldiers and civilians’.”

The Interventionalists have tried repeatedly to accuse the Syrian government of CWs usage; yet the real criminals remain at large.

Against Incitement, For Peace

Syria’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Dr. Bashar al-Ja’afari, in May, 2015, said that spreading incitement and lies on Syria is a blatant violation of UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution No. 1624 for 2005 and of journalism ethics if any, SANA reported.

Syrian media, which attempts to report the reality of Syria under attack, has been repeatedly targeted, something the MSM refuses to acknowledge (See: Media Black-Out on Arab Journalists and Civilians Beheaded in Syria by Western-Backed Mercenaries).

As the NATO-alliance pushes for a “safe zone”…meaning a “no-fly zone” for the purpose of bombing Syria, anti-war activists and journalists must denounce the lies of anti-Syria governments and “human rights” groups, and must share the truth of Syria’s war against terrorism.

Since drafting this lengthy Syria-101 overview, there have been major shifts in Syria’s war against foreign-backed terrorism, namely Russia’s recent airstrikes against Da’esh and co. This increase in Russian support for Syria—with Russian planes destroying more Da’esh and other western-backed terrorists and their training camps in just a few days than the US coalition has over the past year—is a turning point in the war on Syria. Predictably, corporate media are pulling all the stops to demonize Russia‘s involvement, although Russia was invited by the Syrian government to do precisely what it is doing.

Those following Syria closely have echoed what Syrian leadership has said for years and continues to say: the way to stop ISIS and all its brethren terrorist factions, and to bring security to the region, is to cease arming, financing, training and funneling terrorists and weapons into Syria, silence the sectarian indoctrination coming from Gulf extremist sheikhs, and support the Syrian army and allies in their fight for security and stability in Syria.

Eva Bartlett is a Canadian freelance journalist and activist who has lived in and written from the Gaza Strip, Syria, and Lebanon. Visit Eva’s website.

October 11, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Human Rights” front groups warring on Syria

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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 Moveon.org, “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 www.soros.org 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 350.org 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