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The Guardian can try rewriting the history of White Helmets’ James Le Mesurier, but the truth is there for all to see

By Kit Klarenberg | RT | October 30, 2020

A fetishistic Guardian article seeks to rehabilitate the life and death of the former British soldier turned ‘humanitarian’, but cannot explain away his lavish lifestyle, missing money, and all the other financial irregularities.

On the morning of November 11, 2019, James Le Mesurier, founder of Syria’s controversial White Helmets, was found dead in Istanbul. Since then, the Western establishment has struggled to get its story straight on the man, his professional history, the group he founded, and how he died.

The latest example of mainstream media narrative management in the ever-mysterious case came in the Guardian on October 27, in the form of a 6,000-word hagiography of Le Mesurier, authored by its veteran Middle East reporter Martin Chulov.

Many at this point will be familiar with the idolatrous portait it paints of its subject – a heroic humanitarian committed to benevolent causes who saved untold lives, tragically driven to suicide by a “disinformation campaign led by Russian and Syrian officials and peddled by pro-Assad bloggers, alt-right media figures and self-described anti-imperialists.” Nonetheless, it marks the first time the significant controversy surrounding his financial dealings has ever been explored, let alone mentioned, by a British news outlet.

In July this year, the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant published a long-read of its own, explosively revealing how, three days prior to his death, Le Mesurier ‘confessed’ via email to the White Helmets’ many international donors, who’d funded the group to the tune of hundreds of millions over the years, that he’d committed fraud.

The disclosure was prompted by an internal audit by a Dutch accountant of the finances of Mayday, the foundation started by Le Mesurier to find, train, and support the White Helmets. The audit found, among other things, that he had been paying himself and his wife, long-time UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) operative Emma Winberg, “excessive” salaries and supplementing the totals with unjustifiably vast cash bonuses; that his employment of his wife represented a potential conflict of interest; and that he might be guilty of tax evasion.

While claiming this malfeasance wasn’t intentional, Le Mesurier took full and sole responsibility, and expressed fears that further investigation could expose yet more “mistakes and internal failures.”

Monetary misconduct

Damning stuff indeed, but De Volkskrant’s seismic disclosures have been curiously ignored by all other Western media outlets until now. The Guardian’s article deals with the damning revelations, both directly and indirectly – Le Mesurier, whom Chulov knew personally, and with whom he clearly maintained an intense affinity, is acquitted on all charges. Indeed, the White Helmets founder is said to have simply “unravelled under the weight of claims that would later prove to be false.”

The author is at pains throughout to frame “disinformation” as fundamental to Le Mesurier’s untimely demise, in terms of causing him immense “stress,” which led to him “disintegrating” mentally, damaging his reputation and that of the White Helmets in the eyes of world opinion, and, in turn, stoking erroneous suspicions in donor countries that he and his company were engaged in various improper activities.

The question of how a battle-hardened military veteran could be so deleteriously impacted mentally and emotionally by “attacks on Russian television and social media,” particularly if they were entirely without substance, is unasked and unanswered.

There’s little doubt Le Mesurier wasn’t in a good state during his final weeks. It’s been widely reported he was taking sleeping pills and psychiatric medication. Less well amplified were Turkish news reports alleging he and his wife had “fought violently” while dining out together the day before his death.

Chulov alleges “a distressed Le Mesurier” told friends just before he died that claims of Mayday’s monetary misconduct “seemed to come from nowhere.” In fact, questions about what purpose the vast sums donated to the company were put to, and where they all ultimately ended up, had long circulated.

While his article states that donor countries maintained their support for the White Helmets “despite the disinformation surrounding the group’s work,” this isn’t true. In September 2018, the Dutch government ended its backing, after a damning Ministry of Foreign Affairs report outlined serious concerns about Mayday’s financial practices, including an almost total lack of oversight over, and even awareness of, how its money entered Syria, and precisely whose pockets it eventually lined.

However, Chulov feels confident dismissing any and all suggestions of embezzlement, for he’s in possession of a report by forensic auditors Grant Thornton, conducted at the request of Mayday’s donors, which concluded there was “no evidence of misappropriation of funds” by Le Mesurier and Winberg.

Except that he isn’t, because it hasn’t been made public, at donors’ express request. Instead, he relies on the claims of a nameless “source familiar” with the report – which could conceivably, of course, be Winberg herself.

Excessive salaries plus bonuses

It’s clear Grant Thornton’s report isn’t an unalloyed clean bill of health, either – the auditors found “significant gaps in the administrative organization and internal control environment of Mayday” and “identified significant cash transactions that have not been (fully) recorded in the cash books and/or general ledger.”

Moreover, due to Mayday’s “informal” working environment, many key discussions took place “orally and over WhatsApp,” meaning auditors “had to reconstruct a number of financial events and are unable to provide certainty in those cases.”

Chulov is quick to dismiss the significance of these failings as nothing more than “shoddy” bookkeeping, contending “auditors found nothing to support the far more serious allegations made” against Le Mesurier – despite apparently not having actually read the report himself.

Likewise, he concedes Mayday’s executive salaries had been “higher than industry standards”, although his anonymous source familiar with the report is on hand to reassure him, and readers, “they were not off-the-scale high.” In 2017, Le Mesurier informed the Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs he was paying himself a salary of €24,000 per month, before bonuses – several orders of magnitude higher than the designated salary ceiling at other Dutch government-funded enterprises. And considerably more than the $150 a day the White Helmet rescuers on the ground received.

References to Le Mesurier founding three separate companies named ‘Mayday Rescue’ – Mayday Rescue FZ-LLC in Dubai, Mayday Search and Rescue Training and Consultancy Services Ltd in Turkey, and Stichting Mayday Rescue Foundation in the Netherlands – are predictably absent from the Guardian’s article.

Accounts aren’t publicly available for any of them – the Dutch entity, while not registered as a charitable organisation, is characterised as being ‘without commercial enterprise’, so doesn’t have to file accounts at all. Dutch ‘stichtings’, or foundations, are openly advertised by Dutch law firms as ideal ways for wealthy individuals and corporations to minimize tax liabilities and distribute funds internationally.

The company nonetheless complied with governance and transparency requirements, appointing a Secretary and Treasurer. As such, the UK government could plausibly claim that Mayday Rescue, to which London funneled £43 million between 2015 and 2018, was, to the best of its knowledge, fully above board.

Tax havens and tangled webs

Except the £43 million actually went to Mayday Rescue FZ-LLC in Dubai – something only begrudgingly admitted by the FCO in March 2019, in response to a Freedom of Information request, after much heel-dragging and obfuscation.

Dubai is a notorious tax haven, and FZ-LLCs – Free Zone Limited Liability Companies – aren’t subject to any taxes on dividends, so they can be used to easily and opaquely repatriate profits. The entities are required to maintain accounting records, which can be inspected by authorities, but aren’t required to file accounts of any kind.

It may be significant that one of Stichting Mayday Rescue Foundation’s three directors, alongside Le Mesurier and Winberg, was a British Army veteran, Rupert Davis, who, in April 2016, founded the company Chameleon Global. Dissolved in October 2020, it was categorised as dormant – that is, non-operational – for the duration of its existence. Le Mesurier also founded other companies, with indeterminate connections to his assorted Mayday entities. For instance, in April 2017 he established Sisu Global BV in the Netherlands. It has never filed accounts, in breach of Dutch law. Le Mesurier resigned in November 2018, but Winberg apparently remains a director.

In January 2019, Le Mesurier registered My Zahara Limited as a dormant company in northern England, at an address belonging to a company formation agent specializing in, among other things, compliance with money laundering regulations, suggesting he intended to use the firm to repatriate money from his overseas firms.

Davis was also, until April 2019, connected to Sisu Global BV, a company in the Netherlands founded by Le Mesurier in April 2017. It has never filed accounts, in breach of Dutch law. Le Mesurier himself resigned from it in November 2018. Winberg apparently remains a director.

Chulov also, again predictably, dismisses as “disinformation” allegations that the White Helmets were “created by governments determined to remove Assad from power”; that Le Mesurier was “an agent of western intelligence, using a rescue organisation as a Trojan horse for regime change”; and that the organization was in any way affiliated to violent extremist groups.

What are matters of public record, however, is that the White Helmets were funded by the very governments avowedly committed to ‘regime change’ in Syria via covert and overt means; that Le Mesurier’s professional history included spells as a military intelligence operative; and that the group has openly collaborated with the Al-Nusra Front, among other jihadist elements, and engaged in violent activity.

In a June 2015 speech discussing his founding of the White Helmets, Le Mesurier cited a market research agency study which found that, in fragile environments, security forces garner low levels of public trust while first responders have the highest as a key motivating factor in his decision to establish a “humanitarian aid group.”

Untold millions for propaganda

That the White Helmets’ benevolent image was very carefully constructed and promoted by a government attempting to achieve ‘regime change’ is amply underlined by FCO documents leaked by hacktivist collective Anonymous.

The documents reveal that ARK, a firm founded by FCO veteran Alistair Harris where Le Mesurier worked between 2011 and 2014, played a pivotal role in promoting the White Helmets, developing“an internationally focused communications campaign to raise global awareness” of the group to “keep Syria in the news.”

Along the way, ARK, among many other endeavors, produced a documentary on the White Helmets, and ran its various social media accounts, among them the Facebook page for Idlib City Council, at one time mooted as a potential interim government to replace Bashar Assad. When Al-Nusra took the city, the White Helmets were filmed celebrating the ‘victory’ with the group’s fighters in its main square.

ARK profited to the tune of untold millions of pounds from these and other information-warfare efforts. The same illicit file tranche also reveals InCoStrat, founded by none other than Emma Winberg, also reaped large bounties for manipulating public perceptions about Syria, within and without the country. In one file, the firm boasted of surreptitiously “initiating events to create media effect” and of “using media to create events.”

One example of the former strategy saw InCoStrat produce mock Syrian currency, in three denominations, imploring Syrians to “be on the right side of history.” It was intended to ensure that international opinion remained arrayed against Assad, at a time “media attention has shifted almost exclusively towards ISIS and some influential voices are calling for co-operation with the Syrian regime to combat ISIS.”

The file states: “The notes are due to be smuggled into regime-held parts of Syria once formal clearance has been authorized by HMG officials … We will engage the international media to create a story around the event … The message to the regime [is] covert but active resistance continues.”

Another document indicates that Winberg’s InCoStrat also established Basma – “a media platform providing human interest stories and campaigns that support [UK government] policy objectives” – and engaged in propaganda operations in the wake of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, training and maintaining a network of journalists who were “instrumental in reporting on events in Basra.”

On the subject of propaganda, establishment efforts to rehabilitate Le Mesurier are scheduled to continue apace in future.

Starting on November 9, the BBC will transmit a 15-part radio documentary on Mayday Rescue. Over the summer, Chloe Hadjimatheou, a reporter on the project, approached a number of journalists and researchers who’d publicly raised questions about the White Helmets, asking if they wished to contribute to the program.

Several of the individuals targeted subsequently published their correspondence with Hadjimatheou, showing that the program’s preordained agenda and objectives couldn’t be more blatant.

What is clear is that any suggestion Le Mesurier was a British intelligence operative surreptitiously attempting to foster regime change in Syria, or that the White Helmets weren’t an entirely benevolent, independent humanitarian organization will be rubbished, and all voices critical of the group will be smeared as witting or unwitting agents of the Russian and Syrian governments.

By Kit Klarenberg, an investigative journalist exploring the role of intelligence services in shaping politics and perceptions. Follow Kit on Twitter @KitKlarenberg

October 30, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment

Time to Stand Up and Be Counted

By Craig Murray | October 29, 2020

Today, nothing is more important than to say that we will not be silent on the dreadful oppression of the Palestinian people; the daily beatings, killings, humiliations, demolitions, expropriations and destruction of groves that are the concomitant of Israeli illegal occupation.

We will never be browbeaten into silence on the slow genocide of the Palestinian people.

Nobody with any grasp on the location of their right mind believes Jeremy Corbyn to be an anti-Semite. Nobody with any grasp on their right mind believes the Labour Party is now anything but the substitutes’ bench for the Neoconservative team. Under Keir Starmer, the Labour Party has failed to oppose the granting of legal powers to the security services to kill, torture, entrap, forge and fake with impunity. It has failed to oppose the limitation of prosecution of British soldiers for war crimes. The Labour Party now seeks to erase all trace that it might once have been a party that offered an alternative to the right wing security state.

As Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer pressurised Swedish prosecutors who wished to drop the case against Julian Assange, to persist in order that he might be rendered to the USA. He further persuaded them not to interview Julian here, which is standard practice when he was never charged but only wanted for questioning, and which would have reduced Julian’s ordeal by four years.

Starmer received £50,000 in personal donations from lobbyist Sir Trevor Chinn to fund his leadership bid.

It is perfectly plain that Starmer’s aim in suspending Corbyn is to drive the mass membership that Corbyn attracted out of the Labour Party, and make it a reliable arm of the right wing security state. He wants the Labour Party to be financially dependent not on its members, who have annoying principles, but on donors like Chinn.

The media and political elite have attained their aim; there is no longer any point in voting in Westminster elections. A right wing government supporting the neo-con status quo and the ever tightening security state is now firmly guaranteed and cannot be influenced by a Westminster election.

October 29, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

Bellingcat DID take UK Foreign Office money, open logs show, directly contradicting Eliot Higgins’ claims

By Kit Klarenberg | RT | October 27, 2020

Controversial ‘open source investigations’ website Bellingcat was paid directly by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) at least once, official data shows, debunking its founder and chief’s claims to the contrary.

Suggestions that Bellingcat is a tool of Western governments, and funded by them directly, have long-abounded – and consistently been denied by founder and chief Eliot Higgins.

Such allegations reached fever pitch in late 2018, when files related to the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) military intelligence operation Integrity Initiative were leaked by hacktivist collective Anonymous. The papers revealed the secret endeavour, among other things, worked to discredit left-leaning, anti-war figures at home and abroad, and maintained clandestine global networks of journalists, academics, and military and intelligence operatives to spread pro-Western propaganda and encourage more aggressive policies toward Moscow.

Several documents openly referred to Bellingcat, at least one suggesting the organizations were collaborating on certain projects – if true, this would in turn imply Bellingcat was in receipt of FCO cash. Higgins was repeatedly probed on the question via Twitter, but he strenuously denied Bellingcat had conducted any work for or with the Initiative, or received FCO funding.

However, publicly-available documents prove the latter contention, at least, to be an outright lie. As Declassified UK chief Matt Kennard revealed on Twitter on October  26, official FCO procurement figures make clear the department paid Bellingcat £1,800 on December 20 2018 for “consulting, management and public relations” services – mere days prior to several of Higgins’ spirited denials.

The precise nature of the “consulting, management and public relations” services rendered by the organization is unclear, although it may be related to shadowy FCO program Open Information Partnership (OIP).

Officially, under its auspices Bellingcat collaborates with the Atlantic Council’s DFRLab, Zinc Network and Media Diversity Institute to “work together through peer-to-peer learning, training and working groups to pioneer methods to expose disinformation,” in collaboration with a sizable network of NGOs across Europe.

However, leaked documents suggest the endeavor is in actuality an avowed “disinformation factory” itself, seeking to covertly further Whitehall’s global policy objectives, seeking to influence “elections taking place in countries of particular interest to the FCO,” and other malign objectives – and strongly suggest Integrity Initiative is involved in the endeavour, or at least was at some stage.

The Initiative’s parent ‘charity’ Institute for Statecraft was named as one of OIP’s partners alongside Bellingcat et al, a number of Initiative staff were to be seconded to OIP, and the Initiative’s “pre-existing pool of contacts” was intended to serve “as a springboard for the identification of new potential network members.”

Significantly, the documents also detail numerous examples of OIP partners collaborating prior to the program’s April 2019 launch – yet further indications Eliot Higgins was also lying when he denied Bellingcat had ever joined forces with the Integrity Initiative.

For instance, in Ukraine OIP collaborated with a dozen online ‘influencers’ “to counter Kremlin-backed messaging through innovative editorial strategies, audience segmentation, and production models that reflected the complex and sensitive political environment,” in the process allowing them to “reach wider audiences with compelling content that received over four million views.”

In Russia and Central Asia, OIP worked with a network of ‘YouTubers’ in Russia and Central Asia to create videos “promoting media integrity and democratic values.” Somewhat sinisterly, participants were also taught how to “make and receive international payments without being registered as external sources of funding” and “develop editorial strategies to deliver key messages,” while the organization minimized their “risk of prosecution” and managed “project communications” to ensure the existence of the network, and indeed OIP’s role, were kept “confidential.”

Bellingcat’s website notes the organization is an OIP partner, although the fact that the program is funded entirely by the FCO – a fact openly stated on OIP’s homepage – isn’t mentioned. Upon the endeavour’s launch, Higgins was keen to claim Bellingcat was “subcontracted” for the project by OIP partner Zinc Network, which in turn received FCO funds. A cynic might suggest this semantic fudge allowed him to maintain the fiction Bellingcat wasn’t funded directly by the FCO, thus preserving the myth the organization is an independent citizen journalist collective, while nonetheless being heavily bankrolled by the UK government.

Alternatively, it may be the case that Whitehall itself wishes to distance itself from Higgins. After all, a leaked FCO-commissioned appraisal of Bellingcat concluded the organization was “somewhat discredited, both by spreading disinformation itself, and by being willing to produce reports for anyone willing to pay.”

Whatever the truth of the matter, there are indications Bellingcat’s relationship with the FCO may extend far further than what can be pieced together from publicly-available information. A Freedom of Information request submitted to the FCO in January 2019 asked the department for all internal documents related to research on the Syrian crisis mentioning Bellingcat, particularly those relating to the use of chemical weapons in the country, and “any documents that refer to the reliability of Bellingcat as a source when drafting research assessments.”

In response, the FCO stated it could “neither confirm nor deny it holds information relevant to your request,” on the grounds of “safeguarding national security.”

Kit Klarenberg is an investigative journalist exploring the role of intelligence services in shaping politics and perceptions. Follow Kit on Twitter @KitKlarenberg

October 28, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment

Britain’s Nuclear Weapons: Money for Nothing

By Brian Cloughley | Strategic Culture Foundation | October 27, 2020

On 19 October the BBC reported that “A Royal Navy officer has been sent home from the U.S. after reporting to take charge of a submarine’s Trident nuclear missiles while unfit for duty. Lt Cdr Len Louw is under investigation at Faslane naval base in Scotland amid reports he had been drinking. Colleagues raised concerns when the weapons engineering officer arrived for work on HMS Vigilant last month.”

It must be made clear that there was no possibility this officer or any other single person could in some way commit the submarine to despatch of its weapons. It simply could not happen. But the squalid little incident did draw attention to the fact that a British nuclear submarine was in the United States for some reason and although the UK’s over-staffed and infamously incompetent Ministry of Defence condescendingly announced that “the Royal Navy does not comment on matters related to submarine operations” it was apparent that the boat was in port at the U.S. submarine base in Kings Bay, Georgia, probably to update and recalibrate technical devices and to load a number of Trident II D5 nuclear missiles.

The UK keeps insisting it has an independent nuclear weapons capability, so it has to be asked why the Royal Navy needs to send submarines to the U.S. to pick up missiles. But as with so many defence matters the government tries to keep the British public in the dark as much as possible. According to the U.S. Naval Institute, “Vigilant is one of four U.K. Vanguard-class boomers that the Royal Navy maintains as part of the British nuclear deterrent force. While the MoD maintains its own nuclear warheads, British and U.S. submarines share a common stockpile of Trident II D5 missiles stored at Kings Bay.”

It can also be asked why the United Kingdom government thinks the country needs nuclear weapons at all.

London’s reluctance to provide information to the public about nuclear weapons is likely based on the government’s desire to disguise the vast expenditure involved. When it is demanded by law that information be provided, it is released on a carefully timed basis. The public relations operators have it all planned, and choose a day when more exciting news can be either expected or manipulated, rather like the FBI’s notification of the preposterous allegations that “Iran and Russia Seek to Influence Election in Final Days” that — surprise, surprise! — were headlines on the same day that former President Obama gave a speech in support of presidential candidate Joe Biden.

But the Brits didn’t succeed in one particular case concerning vast expenditure on systems to replace the existing Trident nuclear missiles on its four submarines. It had been stated in the annual update to Parliament by the Ministry of Defence in December last year that “Work also continues to develop the evidence to support a government decision when replacing the warhead” and there matters rested — until in February Admiral Charles Richard, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, “told the Senate defence committee that there was a requirement for a new warhead, which would be called the W93 or Mk7. Richard said ‘This effort will also support a parallel replacement warhead programme in the United Kingdom’.”

The disclosure forced the underhand of the UK government, and on February 25 Defence News reported Defence Secretary Ben Wallace as stating that “To ensure the Government maintains an effective deterrent throughout the commission of the Dreadnought Class ballistic missile submarine we are replacing our existing nuclear warhead to respond to future threats and the security environment” which is a weasel-worded admission that did not mention the colossal sums of money involved.

(But then, Ben Wallace is no stranger to large sums of money, and during the 2009 revelations by the UK’s Daily Telegraph concerning fiddling and greed on the part of politicians it was revealed that in 2008 he had the fourth highest expenses of any Member of Parliament, claiming £175,523 (on top of his £63,000 salary), including £29,000 a year to employ his wife as a part-time research assistant.)

The cost of replacing Trident missiles by the “life extension programme” of the warheads is not known, as the only estimate available, given in a 2006 government paper on ‘The Future of the United Kingdom’s Nuclear Deterrent’, is £250 million which is obviously a small fraction of the true amount.

Not only is the UK committing massive sums to replace the weapons systems of existing nuclear submarines, it has embarked on an enormous programme to build four new ones to replace the Vanguard class vessels. A House of Commons research briefing of June 2020 (produced by the House Library whose researchers are not influenced by sleazy political fandangos) states that the programme involves “design, development and manufacture of four new Dreadnought class ballistic missile submarines (SSBN) that will maintain the UK’s nuclear posture of Continuous at Sea Deterrence” and that “the cost of the programme has been estimated at £31 billion, including defence inflation over the life of the programme.”

The United Kingdom is in a parlous economic state. The International Monetary Fund assesses that the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic will hit Britain’s economy much harder than much of the rest of the world, and while nobody can forecast what will befall the UK if it abandons trade negotiations with the European Union, it is certain that there can be no economic benefit from its current policies.

The last thing the UK needs to do is to commit billions of pounds to nuclear weapons. (Although its Members of Parliament do count the pennies on occasions. They’ve just been told they are to get a pay increase of over 3,000 pounds a year, and on October 21 voted overwhelmingly to reject a plan for poor children to receive midday school meals during school holidays in this period of extreme financial insecurity. They’re all heart.)

At the moment, UK nuclear policy is that “we are committed to maintaining the minimum amount of destructive power needed to deter any aggressor” and as noted by Scientists for Global Responsibility, “The UK’s nuclear warheads are carried on Trident missiles – leased from the USA – in nuclear-powered submarines. Currently, eight missiles can be fired, carrying 40 x 100kT warheads, with a few hours’ notice from a submerged submarine. The UK’s total nuclear weapons arsenal consists of 195 warheads.”

There is no doubt that 195 warheads would destroy enormous areas, but there is no point in going into detail, because if the submarines fired off any nuclear weapons at Russia (the only conceivable target), retaliation would ensure that the UK would cease to exist.

Just who does London imagine is being deterred by its expensive nuclear missiles? America is the only western country that would commit to firing nuclear weapons, and there is no possibility that Washington would consult London about its decision. Once Washington went to nuclear war, all that the UK could do would be to pop off its missiles to pile destruction on destruction. That’s not deterrence, and Britain would be well advised to refrain from spending countless billions on a new set of nuclear toys and commit its resources to betterment of its citizens.

October 27, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , | 1 Comment

Leaked papers: UK ran secret training & PR op for Syrian militants costing millions, despite knowing risks

By Kit Klarenberg | RT | October 27, 2020

A swath of what appear to be secret Foreign & Commonwealth Office documents outline a multimillion-pound British effort to train rebel fighters in Syria via private companies, knowing but brushing off the risk of jihadist hijack.

The documents released by the hacktivist collective Anonymous appear to expose a variety of covert actions undertaken by the UK government against the Syrian state over many years.

The overriding objective behind them all, the papers suggest, was to destabilise the government of Bashar Assad, convince Syrians, Western citizens, foreign governments, and international bodies that the Free Syrian Army (FSA) was a legitimate alternative, and flood media the world over with pro-opposition propaganda.

The dimensions of the assorted information warfare operations implied in the papers, some of which have been detailed by the Grayzone Project, were vast. In a representative example, “social enterprise” firm ARK, founded by veteran Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) operative Alistair Harris, “rebranded” the Syrian Military Council, “softening the Free Syrian Army’s image” in order to “distinguish it from extremist armed opposition groups and establish the image of a functioning, inclusive, disciplined and professional military body.”

Training ‘credible and effective’ militants

At least one cog in this cloak and dagger connivance was overtly militant in nature. From August 2016, a consortium of private contractors ran a programme for the FCO, through which “training, equipment, and other forms of support” was provided to the FSA’s ‘Southern Front’ coalition, to “foster a negotiated political transition, support moderate structures and groups in opposition held areas of Syria, counter violent extremism and prevent the establishment of a terrorist safe-haven.”

Under its clandestine auspices, up to 600 belligerents were trained every year the operation ran, an indeterminate total – the endeavour was dubbed MAO B-FOR (Moderate Armed Opposition Border Force Capability Project), and forecast to cost the FCO £15,767,599.

B-FOR’s ‘statement of requirements’ document sets out in succinct detail Whitehall’s objectives in pursuing the project.

“The aim… is to generate pressure on the Assad regime and on extremists, in the south the country… If MAO border groups are better able to secure and maintain control of specific areas of responsibility across liberated near-border communities along Syria’s southern border with Jordan… the MAO will demonstrate its tangible value to the local and international community as an effective security actor… This will reinforce perceptions that there is a credible and effective moderate opposition able to provide support for an alternative pathway to political transition,” the project tender states.

In practical terms, fighters in “international borders under MAO control” and “areas bordering MAO control under the control of another entity or under no control” – the Jordan-Syria border being the FCO’s “current priority area” – were intended to be “better able to control their AOR [areas of responsibility] through effective use of relevant tactics, operations, equipment, infrastructure, and ability to react to a changing tactical situation.”

To this end, the UK government provided a “dedicated training site” in Jordan “at no cost” to project contractors. The site is situated 45 minutes from the Jordanian capital, Amman, according to an annotated Google Earth snapshot found among the leaked papers. The 600-acre expanse comprised “accommodation, ablution, dining, classrooms, driving track, outside rural environment areas, and open space for equipment storage solutions.” In particular, trainees were to be tutored in the effective use of AK-47s, PK machine guns, and pistols, with 175 fighters able to be accommodated on-site at a time, four weeks the maximum period they could be tutored there continuously.

Contractors were also asked to ensure the project took into account, among other things, Whitehall’s “policy toward gender” – a reflection, just like the tender’s references to “reinforcing perceptions,” of B-FOR’s strong psychological component.

‘Kill, Burn and Loot’

In response, global advisory firm Adam Smith International (ASI) apparently submitted an extensive proposal to the department, offering to head a consortium of contractors, comprised of Pilgrims Group, Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR), Oakas, and GlenGulf.

We have reached out to the companies for comment.

In terms of project roles, ASI – which according to the proposal had been operating in Syria since early 2013, and boasted “well over” 100 field staff in the country – was to provide “strategic stakeholder engagement, project management, project leadership positions, conflict research and analysis and monitoring and evaluation functions.” Pilgrims Group – said to have “supported a large number of media organisations operating in Ukraine” – was tasked with “training delivery, initial military skills assessment, training programme design.”

KBR – which has reaped untold millions from a variety of US conflicts, been embroiled in numerous high-profile scandals, and was reportedly nicknamed “Kill, Burn & Loot” by US marines during the Iraq War – had responsibility for “manning procurement and logistics functions,” including providing the facility’s “quartermaster, storemen and a liaison officer at the key port of entry for imported goods.” Oakas was to offer “bespoke training for MAO command elements (‘battle staffs’) on decision making and planning,” and GlenGulf the “provision of training to officers and commanders on human intelligence gathering and management.”

Excerpt from alleged ASI document

Accompanying project staff CVs reveal many individuals involved in B-FOR were senior UK military veterans, who all received sizeable three-figure per diem fees for their participation. For instance, its ranks included a former senior British military advisor to US Central Command, experience ASI claims granted him “in-depth knowledge” of the Syrian “context.”

US-backed rebel front collapses

Part of that context at the time would’ve been the virtual collapse of Southern Front as a serious fighting force. Formed in February 2014 at the behest of the US Military Operations Command (MOC) in Jordan, the Front was a coalition of 50-60 rebel groups. As ASI’s proposal notes, its constituent factions were “given various types of support from the MOC,” including “small arms, artillery, anti-tank guided missiles, ammunition, vehicles, communications equipment, and uniforms,” the Command also paying fighters’ salaries.

Washington’s largesse was fundamental in the Front scoring a series of victories over government forces throughout 2014 and the first half of the next year. In the process, it became the largest rebel umbrella organization in southern Syria, comprising 25-30,000 fighters, and challenging the political and military dominance of Salafist Al-Nusra, the region’s then-largest jihadist group. The mainstream media widely promoted the Front as Western leaders’ best hope of achieving a “moderate” Syrian “revolution” – despite many of its units frequently cooperating and collaborating with Al-Nusra.

However, an over-ambitious attempt by the Front to wrest the city of Deraa’s northern and eastern districts from government control in June 2015 ended in embarrassing failure. The cataclysm led to almost total cessation of MOC support, which in turn meant the Front lost much of its operational capabilities and many of its fighters, who defected in droves to other rebel groups offering salaries. Saudi Arabia subsequently stepped in to provide weapons and fresh funding to the ailing force – B-FOR represented London’s illicit contribution to keeping it functional, and ASI’s proposal makes clear the consortium well-understood the many risks attached to the project.

Risks known, responsibility offloaded

A lengthy section of ASI’s proposal – ‘oversight and management of threats and risks’ – details some of these myriad hazards, along with their likelihood and impact. It was considered highly probable, for instance, groups such as Al-Nusra and ISIS would interfere in the program, “due to perceptions of an ‘international political agenda’” – as a result, extremists “may seek to prevent trainees from joining or inhibit them from fulfilling their functions once trained via kidnap, assault and theft of equipment.”

The possibility that the consortium’s curated fighters may choose or be forced to join other, non-border force Southern Front operations, in turn “[leading] to a weakening of the border capability and perception of UK support to active military operations,” was rated as “medium.” Border force trainees collaborating with extremist actors and/or committing human rights abuses, in the process compromising “the legal and reputational viability of the programme,” was likewise considered of “medium” likelihood and impact.

ASI’s proposed method of dealing with these and other dangers was almost invariably to simply “transfer” responsibility for “owning and managing” the problem to the FCO itself, even suggesting the UK government must simply “tolerate” failings such as the loss of equipment “to a reasonable degree.”

It seems the FCO either acquiesced to shouldering the inherent burdens, or was intensely relaxed about such issues, for the consortium was duly awarded the B-FOR contract, judging by other papers found in the leak.

Non-Disclosure Agreements signed June 10, 2016 by the firms involved indicate they were obliged to adhere to the stringent confidentiality requirements of the 1911 and 1989 Official Secrets Acts, forbidding them from “disseminating any information related to the project to any third party.” Meticulous instructions for disposing of ‘secret’, ‘restricted’, and ‘confidential’ FCO communications were also included.

‘Jihadis You Pay For’

It’s uncertain how many years, or perhaps months, B-FOR endured. Its ‘statement of requirements’ forecast the project would “cover a period until 31st March 2019 with a clause for a breakpoint at the end of each financial year.”

However, in February 2017, a report by Parliament’s international development committee found ASI staff had submitted fake testimonials from aid recipients to a House of Commons inquiry into its activities, set up in response to allegations the firm had been seeking improper financial benefit from UK aid spending.

In response, DfID blocked the company from bidding on future government contracts, and the next month, ASI’s three founding executives resigned. Even more damningly, in December that year, a BBC Panorama documentary (Jihadis You Pay For) exposed how FCO cash ASI distributed in Syria had ended up in extremists’ pockets.

The investigation focused on the FCO’s Access to Justice and Community Security (AJACS) program, under which ASI funded and trained the Free Syria Police, an unarmed civilian force set up to re-establish law and order in opposition-controlled areas.

It found ASI had identified links between several FSP stations and sharia courts run by Al-Nusra and not ended its funding of the stations, or compelled them to sever all connections with the courts – FSP officers in theoretical receipt of FCO funds via ASI had also been present when women were stoned to death. Troublingly, ASI’s B-FOR pitch states its “experience and knowledge” of running AJACS will be “leveraged” to ensure optimal delivery of the border project.

Whether B-FOR was quietly shelved or simply handed over to other contractors in response to these damaging exposures is unknown. In any event, in July 2018, the Front was comprehensively crushed by pro-government forces, its surrendering fighters either agreeing to reconciliation deals or fleeing to Idlib.

It’s also unknown how many fighters trained via the program went on to join jihadist groups, and how much equipment was “lost” over the course of its operation, ending up in the hands of extremists and used to slaughter and maim innocent civilians. The companies running the operation, much less the UK government, certainly weren’t keeping count.

Kit Klarenberg is an investigative journalist exploring the role of intelligence services in shaping politics and perceptions. Follow Kit on Twitter @KitKlarenberg

October 27, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Britain’s Labour Party reprimands MP for occupation ‘crime’ comment

MEMO | October 26, 2020

Labour Party MP Stephen Kinnock has reportedly been given a “dressing down” after saying that profiting from illegal settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank is “tantamount to profiting from the proceeds of crime.”

Party leader Keir Starmer was said to be furious at Kinnock’s impassioned speech calling for international law to be upheld. Complaints were made by various pro-Israel groups, including the Board of Deputies of British Jews, who raised concerns with Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy and demanded “clarification”.

Kinnock made his speech in the House of Commons on 24 September, raising concerns about the increasing number and size of Israeli settlements built on Palestinian land. All of Israel’s settlements, official and “outposts”, are illegal under international law.

“The Government must ban all products that originate from Israeli settlements in the occupied territories,” insisted Kinnock, the son of former Labour leader Neil Kinnock. “Profiting from such products is tantamount to profiting from the proceeds of crime, and it must stop. When we trade with these settlements, we are essentially telling the world that international law does not matter, and such trade legitimises and facilitates the existence and expansion of the settlements.”

He went on to criticise the “deal of the century”: “President [Donald] Trump and Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu have come forward with their so-called deal of the century. This is not a deal. It is not a plan. It is not even a starting point for talks. It is a proposal that is fundamentally flawed because it has no basis in law. It is a land and power grab that would mean Israel seizing around 40 per cent of the West Bank, with full military and security control over the Palestinian people and their resources.”

Starmer previously sacked left-leaning socialist MP Rebecca Long-Bailey for sharing an interview on social media with actress Maxine Peake in which she spoke about the Israeli Army’s role in training American police forces. Peake’s comments in the wake of the George Floyd murder were deemed to be “anti-Semitic” by the Labour hierarchy, despite it being a fact that Israel has trained hundreds of US police officers on restraint and other techniques.

October 27, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Illegal Occupation | , , , | 1 Comment

BBC exodus: Britons reportedly overwhelm phone lines & website in rush to cancel TV licenses

RT | October 25, 2020

It appears that so many people want to cancel their TV licenses in Britain that the BBC cannot cope with the outflow. However, some critics suggest the broadcaster is deliberately hampering the process.

“We have more calls than usual at the moment, and they are taking longer to answer as we operate in accordance with Covid-19 government guidelines,” a spokesman for the BBC told the Express newspaper, when asked why its phone lines were clogged.

The BBC is the primary beneficiary of the British TV licensing scheme. Anyone who wishes to watch or record live television in the UK has to pay a £157.50 ($205) annual fee. And the tens of thousands of people who dodge it face prosecution and fines each year – and may even be sent to prison.

However, the broadcaster has recently been facing an outflow of paying license holders, in part because an increasing number of Britons that the BBC does not deliver on the promise of being politically non-partial, which is enshrined in its charter.

Unfortunately for those who can’t get through to cancel their licenses by phone, their chances of doing so online may be equally frustrating, according to Defund the BBC, a campaign group that wants to reform the entire system.

“The BBC appears to be deliberately preventing people from cancelling their TV licences by bouncing them back and forth between their website and call centre, neither of which are currently functional,” campaign director Rebecca Ryan told the newspaper. “Imagine if this happened with vehicle tax? There would rightly be uproar.”

In its latest annual report, the BBC said its license fee income has dropped by five percent due to several factors, including “a small reduction in the number of paid licences.” The financial pressure on the broadcaster may increase still further soon, if the British government goes ahead with its plan to decriminalize license fee evasion, potentially making the practice even more widespread.

October 25, 2020 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 1 Comment

BBC’s upcoming White Helmets ‘documentary’ aims at character assassination of those who challenge Syria war narratives

By Vanessa Beeley | RT | October 24, 2020

The BBC is preparing an attack against journalists, former diplomats, academics and scientists who challenge the dominant pro-war narratives against Syria underpinned by the pseudo-humanitarian White Helmets.

The British public broadcaster has sent out requests for comments to those who have dared to expose the role the UK government and its intelligence agencies have played in the destabilization of Syria, which look more like neo-McCarthyist charge sheets. The producer of an upcoming Radio 4 documentary series had been in email and telephone conversation with the author of this article, as well as Peter Ford, former UK ambassador to Syria, and members of the Working Group on Syria, Media and Propaganda (WGSMP) since June 2020. The result of those conversations, during which the evidence emanating from serious scientific research and on-the-ground testimony was presented to the producer, was a familiar list of accusations of “conspiracy theorism” and suggestions of “incentivized” Russian or Syrian bias.

Fellow independent journalist Eva Bartlett has spent long periods of time inside Syria, reporting from many of the most high-risk areas during the Syrian Arab Army allied campaigns to liberate swathes of Syrian territory from the US coalition-proxy occupation. She had this to say about the email she received a few days ago:

“The questions emailed to me by the BBC evidence a predetermined intent to character assassination. This approach shows an utter lack of journalistic integrity on the part of the BBC.

The BBC’s hostile insinuations against me arrogantly infer that neither I nor the Syrians I interview think for ourselves, but are puppets of the Syrian and Russian governments. My journalism dates back to 2007 and is quite extensive, with 13 years of on the ground experience, from Palestine and Syria, to Venezuela and eastern Ukraine, and elsewhere.

My focuses have been on giving voice to Syrians disappeared by corporate media, highlighting the terrorism they endured by terrorist groups which the West dubs “rebels,” and highlighting war propaganda by outlets such as the BBC.”

It was clear from the BBC’s line of questioning that this was not a genuine investigation into the life and times of White Helmets founder, and former British military intelligence officer, James Le Mesurier. It is effectively a damage limitation exercise designed to discredit the evidence that points to the White Helmets being a propaganda construct with extremist connections funded by the US/UK coalition to vilify the Syrian government and allies, thus justifying military intervention by proxy and aggression against a sovereign nation. The aggression includes economic sanctions that have devastated the Syrian economy and caused widespread poverty and food insecurity among the Syrian people.

The upcoming BBC programme – ‘Mayday’ – appears to be an attempt to whitewash British intelligence operations inside Syria. Operations that were recently further exposed following the leak of alleged UK Foreign Office documents, reported by Grayzone, which detailed the extent to which the UK government provided media and PR support to the armed groups in Syria. Those groups effectively include Al Qaeda and Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) affiliates such as Jaysh Al-Islam and Ahrar Al-Sham, who are responsible for the horrific bloodshed and devastation of infrastructure in the areas they invaded and occupied.

The UK and EU government-funded Mayday Rescue organisation was established by Le Mesurier to provide an intermediary management of the funds the UK government was providing to the White Helmets as they embedded themselves with armed groups in extremist-controlled areas throughout Syria, more recently exclusively in Idlib, the last remaining and “largest Al Qaeda haven since 9/11.” Le Mesurier died in November 2019 having fallen from the balcony of his Istanbul home which he shared with his third wife, Emma Winberg. Three days before his death, which was ruled a suicide, Le Mesurier had reportedly admitted to defrauding Mayday Rescue of funds provided by UK and European governments.

It is also worth a reminder that the Dutch government had withdrawn funding from Mayday Rescue in 2018 following an extensive investigation that had concluded a lack of assurances that funds were not being hijacked by the armed groups in Syria, including Al Qaeda.

The BBC pins its arguments on the view that the White Helmets are a “humanitarian” organisation – an Oscar-winning illusion that has been dismantled by some of the most acclaimed independent journalists and researchers of our time, including Cory Morningstar, Rick Sterling, Eva Bartlett, Stephen Kinzer, Robert Parry, John Pilger, Gareth Porter, Ray McGovern, Phillip Giraldi, Craig Murray and former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter, to name just a few.

The former UK ambassador to Syria, Peter Ford, also received the BBC bill of indictment and he issued this statement in response:

“The BBC have systematically tried to suppress views on Syria which run counter to the standard one-sided narrative. This programme’s efforts to smear dissenters takes BBC conduct to a new low. By alleging conspiracy theorising where there is only evidence-based reporting and analysis, the BBC is showing its frustration at being unable to stifle truth-telling.

The only conspiracy here is whatever coordination has taken place between the BBC and British authorities responsible for failing to achieve regime change in Syria despite throwing many millions of taxpayer money at the effort. Why is the BBC not drawing attention to the biggest failure of British foreign policy since Suez, as judged by its self-proclaimed objective of removing Assad, rather than busying itself with trying to take down unsupported individual dissenters who have ranged against them the vast wealth and resources of the establishment?

The charge of biggest failure since Suez as judged by its own objective of regime change is stinging because palpably true, and will with luck get some play in the follow up. It’s an angle that has been largely lost in the welter of detail.”

On October 5, the US and UK envoys to the UN Security Council (UNSC) led the campaign to ban the former Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) director general, Jose Bustani, from briefing the UNSC meeting presided over by Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia. Nebenzia accused the US/UK-led truth-suppressors of bringing the UNSC into disrepute. One week later, the BBC, a de facto UK-state-media outlet, kicked off its attack on the individuals responsible for highlighting the corruption of the OPCW and the fraud that was the final report on the alleged Douma chemical attack in April 2018.

One member of the WGSMP, Paul McKeigue, has published his conversations with the producer. Regarding the Douma incident, McKeigue informs us that “a reader of this correspondence could reasonably conclude that […] Raed Saleh (White Helmets leader) has something to hide, and further that [the BBC producer] is, for some reason, colluding with him by helping him to avoid having to respond” to questions regarding the whereabouts of the bodies of the alleged chemical weapon attack victims. Part of my response to the BBC also alludes to the apparent suppression of evidence:

“A BBC producer, Riam Dalati, has stated publicly that the Douma hospital scenes, the site of the alleged chemical weapon attack in Syria, 2018, were staged. As has been pointed out repeatedly to Riam Dalati and the BBC, if the hospital scenes at Douma were staged so too were the films of the deceased in the Douma apartment block. The BBC have never reported this information, nor has it passed the information obtained by its producer to either the OPCW FFM or the IIT. It is extraordinary and completely unjustifiable that the BBC should be withholding this vital information from a UN linked organisation.”

Dr. Piers Robinson, the co-founder of the WGSMP, accused the BBC of suppressing truth:

“The BBC is also attempting to smear academics researching alleged chemical weapons attacks in Syria as ‘conspiracy theorists’, even though their work has been supported by the leading chemical and biological weapons expert the late Julian Perry Robinson and vindicated by whistleblowers and leaks from the OPCW itself. The BBC is not engaging in journalism but rather suppression of the truth.”

In conclusion, the BBC is not an honest broker. Our work as journalists and researchers is to mine for the truth. The BBC’s output, especially with regards to foreign affairs, is produced in lock-step with UK foreign policy objectives. In the context of the war against Syria, this has resulted in a pattern of omission and censorship that has underpinned UK FCO efforts to foment conflict within Syria and to overthrow the internationally recognised Syrian government.

The result has been an illegal war that has caused death and suffering for millions of Syrian people. Regarding the UK/US intelligence-incubated, Al Qaeda-linked, White Helmets, the BBC could be considered complicit in manufacturing consent for another “humanitarian war” through their lack of “rigorous journalism” and omission of the facts surrounding this UK state-client-propaganda-manufacturer. Just as the BBC defended the WMD “dodgy dossier” that decimated Iraq and led to the deaths of millions of Iraqis, we now see the BBC rallying around the chemical weapon “dodgy dossier” that has enabled the prolongation of the barbaric war against the Syrian people.

Editor’s note: RT has reached out to the BBC producer for comment on issues raised in Vanessa’s article. A BBC spokesperson gave this response:

“The BBC’s journalism is rigorous, independent and impartial, and that will be evident to anyone who listens to this new series.”


Vanessa Beeley is an independent journalist and photographer who has worked extensively in the Middle East – on the ground in Syria, Egypt, Iraq and Palestine, while also covering the conflict in Yemen since 2015. Follow her on Twitter @VanessaBeeley

October 24, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

Former UK Cabinet Secretary Claims London Staging ‘Discreet’ Cyber Attacks on Russia

RT | October 24, 2020

London has used “discreet” and “covert” measures to retaliate against Moscow for allegedly carrying out a chemical weapon attack on British soil, back in 2018, a former top adviser to PM Boris Johnson disclosed on Saturday.

The explosive claim comes from Lord Mark Sedwill, who until last month served as the most senior adviser and head of the civil service in Johnson’s cabinet. He held the same positions under former prime minister Theresa May, during whose term the Salisbury affair unfolded.

Speaking to Times Radio, Sedwill said Russia has “some vulnerabilities that we can exploit.” So London’s response to the incident included not only publicly accusing Russia of being behind the attack and expelling its diplomats, but also “a series of other discreet measures including tackling some of the illicit money flows out of Russia, and covert measures as well, which obviously I can’t talk about,” the former official said.

“The Russians know that they had to pay a higher price than they had expected for that operation.”

Sedwill would not explain how stopping illicit money flowing out of Russia would hurt the Russian government or why the UK didn’t act sooner to crack down on those financial crimes. Presumably, in his view, President Vladimir Putin’s power relies on allowing crooked officials and businessmen to siphon the Russian national wealth and the British government was content with it as long as the UK was on the receiving end.

A different view is taken in Moscow, where officials have repeatedly accused the British of harboring Russian criminals and welcoming illicitly gained cash.

The Times implied that the “covert measures” mentioned by Sedwill included the UK using its cyber offensive capabilities against Russia.

The Salisbury poisoning happened in March 2018. Former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter were injured by what the British government described as a uniquely Russian chemical weapon, but have since recovered. London identified two people from Russia as the culprits, calling them agents of the Russian military intelligence.

Moscow denied any involvement in the poisoning and said London had stonewalled all attempts to properly investigate what had happened.

October 24, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia | | Leave a comment

Western Propaganda Over Skripal and Navalny Show Remarkable Similarities

By James ONeill – New Eastern Outlook – 20.10.2020

There was once a notion that enjoyed wide acceptance throughout the world, especially in those countries that shared a common heritage with the United Kingdom, that was known as “British justice”. It was probably always a flawed notion, but such was the power of British colonialism that it enjoyed a reputation nonetheless. Recent history however has put a substantial dent in the mythology. Two recent examples illustrate the point.

The first was the case involving the father and daughter duo of Sergei and Yulia Skripal. Sergei as is well known was a traitor to his native Russia. He was caught, tried and imprisoned. After several years in jail serving his sentence, he was the subject of a prisoner swap with Russian spies held in British prisons. He was released and immediately travelled to England where he settled in the town of Salisbury.

The house he occupied was owned by the British government. It was constantly monitored with a security camera. Sergei was visited by his daughter Yulia, a resident of Moscow, where she also had a fiancé, as well as friends and relatives.

On a visit to her father they left his house and visited her mother’s grave. They then went into Salisbury city centre and had a meal. This was followed by a drink at a nearby pub. They then went to a local park where they fed the ducks (along with some children). They both then suddenly took ill whilst sitting on a park bench. They were attended to by a woman and her daughter. The woman just happened to be the chief nurse of the British Army, with the rank of Colonel. No plausible explanation has ever been given for their just happening to be in the park at that time.

Sergei and Yulia were rushed to hospital in an unconscious state where they remained for some time. They recovered, but apart from a brief carefully staged television statement, neither has been seen or heard of again.

The Russian Embassy in London has made repeated requests to speak with Yulia, but this has been refused. What the western media never point out is that this refusal of consular access is a gross breach of international law. Where the Skripals are now, or even if they are still alive, is simply unknown.

The British government and British media were quick to blame Russia for what allegedly happened to the Skripals. The complete absence of any evidence to support this claim was apparently not a barrier. Neither has the growth in continuing violations of international law been deemed a suitable topic of discussion in the British mainstream media.

The public were subjected to the charade of chemical cleansing of the Skripal house, despite the attending police officers wearing no protective equipment and the domestic cat being totally unaffected. It was a complete charade, ably assisted by a non-sceptical media who were content to publish or broadcast the Government’s fabrications and turn a blind eye to the glaring absence of anything approaching actual evidence of any Russian complicity in wrongdoing.

The counter-productive effects of Russia actually damaging or killing Skripal were ignored. This charade, with its manifest lies, duplicity and multiple improbabilities has been brought vividly to mind by the latest alleged Russian malpractice of what happened to the dissident politician Alexi Navalny.

The parallels are eerie, right down to the alleged role of “Novichok” in causing Mr Navalny’s illness. We were initially told that Navalny was poisoned with a cup of tea he drank before boarding his plane. Even the perpetrators of this fiction eventually realised its inherent improbability and abandoned it.

Instead, we are not told, the “Novichok” was in water bottles that Navalny left behind in his hotel room. Very conveniently, ours after being vacated, the hotel room had not been serviced, allowing Navalny’s supporters to recover the allegedly infected bottles of water. These bottles were then sent to Germany but have never been produced for independent analysis.

Navalny was treated in a Russian hospital before being transferred to Germany. The Russian doctors performed all the usual analyses of Navalny’s blood, but did not detect the presence of Novichok. This is allegedly suddenly discovered by the German doctors who, despite repeated requests, have failed to share the evidence with their Russian counterparts.

Instead, the Germans claimed to have sent the evidence to the OPCW who, when asked for the evidence by the Russians, were referred back to Germany. We are expected to take this farcical performance with an unquestioning and straight face.

Navalny duly recovers and declares that he wants to return to Russia. Perhaps he hopes that all this publicity will help him improve upon the less than 2% of the vote he received when he last stood for elective office. Once again, the much feared and lethal capacity of Novichok had failed!

What has emerged however, are hints as to the real motivation behind whatever caused Navalny’s illness. The Americans, who have long bitterly opposed Nord Stream 2 reiterated their demand that the contract for the supply of Russian gas to Germany be cancelled. (at huge compensation costs) They just happened to have an alternative available, albeit at 40% higher cost to the German public, and with the additional benefit of increasing German reliance upon the United States. German opinion polls strongly suggest that the German – United States alliance is rapidly losing its favour with the German public.

At the time of writing, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel is holding firm on the original contract with the Russians, but the pressure to cancel Nord Stream 2 may prove irresistible.

While seemingly unrelated at first glance, the Skripal and Navalny incidents show some remarkable parallels. Both are manifestly fake incidents. Both have been used by the respective governments, the United Kingdom and Germany, to challenge the reputation and reliability of the Russian government. Both have been sought to be capitalised upon by forces opposed to any sign of rapprochement and goodwill shown to Russia, whether it is an international football tournament (the last World Cup finals) or the provision of vital and cheaper sources of energy to Europe.

From the American point of view there are several pluses. It inhibits the increasing restlessness of the German public to still being occupied and dictated to by the Americans 75 years after World War II ended. It provides an excuse to maintain a US military presence in countries close to Russia to counter the Russian “threat”, a fictional concept that the Americans never tire of trotting out.

It also provides a perfect opportunity for the United States gas industry to make huge profits at a time when the world’s energy structures are undergoing major realignments, not least because of the increasingly economic and political importance of the growth of China’s influence in the world.

From the United States point of view, Navalny is a win-win situation. The industry profits; their presence in Europe is reinforced; and damage is done to Russia’s reputation as well as its economy.

Just like the unfortunate Mr Skripal, Mr Navalny has been used and abused as a puppet in a much wider geopolitical game. That it is the ordinary people of Russia and Germany who suffer is the least concern of the American puppet masters for whom the retention of their fading credibility is more important than the safety of the world and its citizens.

James O’Neill is an Australian-based former Barrister at Law.

October 21, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

European hypocrisy: empty words for Palestine, deadly weapons for Israel

By Ramzy Baroud | MEMO | October 20, 2020

In theory, Europe and the United States stand on completely opposite sides when it comes to the Israeli occupation of Palestine. While the US government has fully embraced the tragic status quo created by 53 years of Israeli military occupation, the EU continues to advocate a negotiated settlement that is predicated on respect for international law.

In practice, however, despite the seeming rift between Washington and Brussels, the outcome is, essentially, the same. The US and Europe are Israel’s largest trade partners, weapon suppliers and political advocates.

One of the reasons that the illusion of an even-handed Europe has been maintained for so long lies partly in the Palestinian leadership itself. Politically and financially abandoned by Washington, the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas has turned to the European Union as its only possible saviour.

“Europe believes in the two-state solution,” PA Prime Minister, Mohammad Ishtayeh, said during a video discussion with the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs on October 12. Unlike the US, Europe’s continued advocacy of the defunct two-state solution qualifies it to fill the massive gap created by Washington’s absence.

Ishtayeh called on EU leaders to “recognize the State of Palestine in order for us, and you, to break the status quo.”

However, there are already 139 countries that recognise the State of Palestine. While that recognition is a clear indication that the world remains firmly pro-Palestinian, recognizing Palestine as a State changes little on the ground. What is needed are concerted efforts to hold Israel accountable for its violent occupation as well as real action to support the struggle of Palestinians.

Not only has the EU failed at this, it is, in fact, doing the exact opposite: funding Israel, arming its military and silencing its critics.

Listening to Ishtayeh’s words, one gets the impression that the top Palestinian official is addressing a conference of Arab, Muslim or socialist countries. “I call upon your Parliament and your distinguished Members of this Parliament, that Europe not wait for the American President to come up with ideas … We need a third party who can really remedy the imbalance in the relationship between an occupied people and an occupier country, that is Israel,” he said.

But is the EU qualified to be that ‘third party’? No. For decades, European governments have been an integral part of the US-Israel party. Just because the Donald Trump administration has, recently, taken a sharp turn in favour of Israel should not automatically transform Europe’s historical pro-Israel bias to be mistaken for pro-Palestinian solidarity.

Last June, more than 1,000 European parliamentarians representing various political parties issued a statement expressing “serious concerns” about Trump’s so-called Deal of the Century and opposing Israeli annexation of nearly a third of the West Bank. However, the pro-Israel US Democratic Party, including some traditionally staunch supporters of Israel, were equally critical of Israel’s plan because, in their minds, annexation means that a two-state solution would be made impossible.

While US Democrats made it clear that a Joe Biden administration would not reverse any of Trump’s actions should Biden be elected, European governments have also made it clear that they will not take a single action to dissuade – let alone punish – Israel for its repeated violations of international law.

Lip service is all that Palestinians have obtained from Europe, as well as much money, which was largely pocketed by loyalists of Abbas in the name of ‘State-building’ and other fantasies. Tellingly, much of the imaginary Palestinian State infrastructure that was subsidised by Europe in recent years has been blown up, demolished or construction ceased by the Israeli military during its various wars and raids. Yet, neither did the EU punish Israel, nor did the PA cease from asking for more money to continue funding a non-existent State.

Not only did the EU fail to hold Israel accountable for its ongoing occupation and human rights violations, it is practically financing Israel, as well. According to Defence News, a quarter of all of Israel’s military export contracts (totalling $7.2 billion in 2019 alone) is allocated to European countries.

Moreover, Europe is Israel’s largest trading partner, absorbing one-third of Israel’s total exports and shipping to Israel nearly 40% of its total import. These numbers also include products made in illegal Jewish settlements.

Additionally, the EU labours to incorporate Israel into the European way of life through cultural and music contests, sports competitions and in myriad other ways. While the EU possesses powerful tools that can be used to exact political concessions and enforce respect for international law, it opts to simply do very little.

Compare this with the recent ultimatum the EU has given the Palestinian leadership, linking EU aid to the PA’s financial ties with Israel. Last May, Abbas took the extraordinary step of considering all agreements with Israel and the US to be null and void. Effectively, this means that the PA would no longer be accountable for the stifling status quo that was created by the Oslo Accords, which was repeatedly violated by Tel Aviv and Washington. Severing ties with Israel also meant that the PA would refuse to accept nearly $150 million in tax revenues that Israel collects on behalf of the PA. This Palestinian step, while long overdue, was necessary.

Instead of supporting Abbas’ move, the EU criticized it, refusing to provide additional aid for Palestinians until Abbas restores ties with Israel and accepts the tax money. According to Axios news portal, Germany, France, the UK and even Norway are leading the charge.

Germany, in particular, has been relentless in its support for Israel. For months, it has advocated on behalf of Israel to spare Tel Aviv a war crimes investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC). It has placed activists, who advocate the boycott of Israel, on trial. Recently, it has confirmed the shipment of missile boats and other military hardware to ensure the superiority of the Israeli navy in a potential war against Arab enemies. Germany is not alone. Israel and most European countries are closing ranks in terms of their unprecedented military cooperation and trade ties, including natural gas deals.

Continuing to make references to the unachievable two-state solution, while arming, funding and doing more business with Israel is the very definition of hypocrisy. The truth is that Europe should be held as accountable as the US in emboldening and sustaining the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Yet, while Washington is openly pro-Israel, the EU has played a more clever game: selling Palestinians empty words while selling Israel lethal weapons.

Read also:

Zionist War on Palestinian Festival in Rome is Ominous Sign of Things to Come 

October 20, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Former government lawyer ‘ashamed’ of defending UK over Saudi arms sales

MEMO | October 20, 2020

A former lawyer at Britain’s Foreign Office responsible for fighting lawsuits against the British government over its arms sales to Saudi Arabia has said that she is “ashamed” of having played a role in helping the government get away with allegedly breaking the law.

“When governments consider themselves above the law, the consequences can be horrifying,” said Molly Mulready in an article for the Independent detailing how she had helped “fight legal action against the government’s export of arms to Saudi Arabia.”

Mulready explained that she did not become a Foreign Office lawyer in order to justify this “moral depravity.” Her article provided details about how the British government managed to overcome legal hurdles to continue selling arms to Riyadh.

In the five years since de facto Saudi ruler Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman launched a military campaign in Yemen, there have been ongoing allegations of war crimes. With Britain supplying arms to the Saudi military, many of which are said to have been used against civilians, the Conservative government has been accused of complicity in serious violations of international humanitarian law.

Legal challenges were made by human rights groups in an attempt to block arms sales to Riyadh. Despite these challenges, in 2017 a High Court judge authorised the British government to continue licensing such exports.

Speaking of her role in mounting the government’s defence, Mulready said that as many as 318 cases of alleged violations of international humanitarian law — an average of just over two per week for almost three years — were recorded by December 2017. Despite these concerns, arms sales continued into 2019 when the court of appeal overturned the 2017 High Court judgement. At the time of the lawsuit, the government confirmed that there were now 516 cases on that list of violations.

In its defence, said Mulready “The British government insisted that there was definitely no clear risk that even one such incident might amount to a serious violation by the Saudi armed forces and happen again in the future. Exports resumed and are ongoing.”

Commenting on her part Mulready said: “I have acute shame about my role in all of this. I did not become a lawyer in order to justify the moral depravity that is the export of arms to Saudi Arabia.”

Earlier this month, a report discovered that Britain was issuing licences for arms sales to Saudi Arabia at an unprecedented rate of almost one a day, in what looked like a concerted effort to make up for months of lost time.

Read also:

UK ‘complicit’ in humanitarian disaster through $7.6bn arms sales to Saudi

October 20, 2020 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment