Video footage surfaced last week showing the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) treating a wounded anti-Assad Syrian rebel, following a UN report at the end of last year which found that the IDF and the Syrian rebels (including ISIS) were in regular contact. The Times of Israel reported on this latest video in an article titled,IDF posts footage of medics saving Syrian rebel in Golan:
“The IDF on Saturday released rare footage of its medics performing a life-saving procedure on one of the most severely wounded Syrian combatants medical personnel have encountered in the Golan Heights… The man, a Syrian rebel who belongs to an unnamed organization fighting against the Assad regime and its allies, received treatment at the border and then inside Israel, and was ultimately able to return to Syria… Since the start of the civil war in 2011, the IDF has treated an estimated 1,600 non-combatants and anti-Assad rebels… Although Israel’s treatment of militants from Syria — many of whom are believed to belong to Islamist organizations such as the al-Qaeda affiliated Nusra Front — may seem bizarre given the animosity these types of groups have expressed for the Jewish state in the past, Israel has approached the issue from a humanitarian point of view.”
The Times of Israel tries to spin Israel’s assistance to the Syrian rebels as purely “from a humanitarian point of view”, in reality however, Israel supports the Syrian opposition for its own geopolitical ends. Weakening the Syrian regime has been a geopolitical objective of the Israeli establishment for decades, with strategic papers dating back to the 1980’s detailing this goal. Oded Yinon, an Israeli journalist who had close connections to the Foreign Ministry in Israel, wrote an article in 1982 which was published in a journal of the World Zionist Organisation titled: “A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties”. In it, Yinon outlines that the “dissolution of Syria and Iraq” are “Israel’s primary” objectives in the region:
“The dissolution of Syria and Iraq later on into ethnically or religiously unique areas such as in Lebanon, is Israel’s primary target on the Eastern front in the long run, while the dissolution of the military power of those states serves as the primary short term target.” (p.11.)
Israel’s strategic desire to weaken both Syria and Iraq was again reiterated in 1996 when a study group led by neocon Richard Perle prepared a policy document for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu titled:
‘A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm’. The document states:
“Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq — an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right — as a means of foiling Syria’s regional ambitions.”
More recently, Israeli officials have publically revealed their desire to topple the regime in Damascus and break the alliance between Iran, Syria and Hezbollah. In an interview in 2013, the Israeli Ambassador to the US at the time Michael Oren publically expressed that Israel “always wanted Bashar Assad to go”, adding that“the greatest danger to Israel is the strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut.”
Israel has been aiding the Syrian opposition with more than just medical assistance since the start of the Syrian proxy war however, as Tel Aviv has bombed Syrian territory repeatedly in addition to providing anti-Assad forces with arms. In August of last year, Sharif As-Safouri, the commander of the Free Syrian Army’s Al-Haramein Battalion at the time, revealed that he had “entered Israel five times to meet with Israeli officers who later provided him with Soviet anti-tank weapons and light arms”, as the Times of Israel reported.
Tel Aviv has also been accused of creating and facilitating the rise of ISIS itself. The chief of staff of the Iranian armed forces, Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi, stated that ISIS was created and supported by Israel, Britain and the US in order to achieve these states own objectives. A report that seemed to emerge from Gulf News in 2014 also asserted that the leader of ISIS and the new so-called caliph, Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, was trained by the Mossad, although some have questioned the validity of this report. It should also be noted that some news reports assert that Baghdadi was seriously injured or even killed by a US drone strike in April.
There is no question that Israel is playing a prominent role in the attempted destruction of the Syrian state, and is guilty of destroying the lives of millions of people through their support of anti-Assad mercenaries. Syrians are now the second largest refugee population on the planet according to a UN report (only second to Palestinians), all thanks to the NATO/Israeli/Saudi axis of evil which has funded and supported rebel armies in Syria.
Syria’s foreign-backed opposition group, the so-called Syrian National Coalition (SNC), says it is not attending ongoing Geneva negotiations with the United Nations special envoy to Syria.
Hisham Marwa, deputy head of the SNC, on Monday dismissed the talks with UN envoy Staffan de Mistura in the Swiss city as “unimportant.”
De Mistura began talks on May 5 with the participation of parties engaged in the Syrian crisis, including the Syrian government’s envoy to the UN in Geneva, Hussam Eddin Ala.
Marwa further criticized de Mistura’s decision to invite some 40 “dissidents, artists, civil society organizations and research centers” to attend the talks as a sign of his lack of seriousness.
“It became clear to us that he does not treat the coalition in a way that gives the impression that he is serious about finding a solution,” he said.
Instead of taking part in the talks, a member of the coalition will travel to Geneva to deliver two letters addressed to de Mistura and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
“The letters lay out our vision for a political solution as well as our observations on de Mistura’s performance,” Marwa said.
In response, de Mistura said later on Monday that he has taken note of the coalition’s decision but still looks forward to the arrival of the group’s envoy to Geneva to hear the opposition’s points of view.
Previous UN-mediated talks on Syria, dubbed Geneva I and II, failed to reach a solution to end the four-year conflict.
The two conferences ended in failure after foreign-sponsored opposition figures in the talks refused to discuss widespread terrorism in the country and persisted in demanding the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as a precondition.
Syria has been grappling with a deadly crisis since March 2011. The violence fueled by Takfiri groups has so far claimed the lives of over 222,000 people, according to the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says over 7.2 million people have been internally displaced, and more than 3 million have been forced to flee the country.
“The Ivy League bourgeoisie who sit at the helm of the non-profit industrial complex will one day be known simply as charismatic architects of death. Funded by the ruling class oligarchy, the role they serve for their funders is not unlike that of corporate media. Yet, it appears that global society is paralyzed in a collective hypnosis – rejecting universal social interests, thus rejecting reason, to instead fall in line with the position of the powerful minority that has seized control, a minority that systematically favours corporate interests.” — From the article Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part I, Section I, Sept 10, 2012
Above image from the Avaaz website: “Libya No-Fly Zone: As Libyan government jets drop bombs on the civilian population, the UN Security Council will decide in 48 hours whether to impose a no-fly zone to keep Qaddafi’s warplanes on the ground.” [Emphasis in original] [Further discussion of the flag within this Avaaz image can be read in the epilogue.]
Above image: Avaaz takes credit for the implementation of the Libya No Fly Zone. [Further Reading: “Did Libya’s Citizens Demand Foreign Intervention?” A ridiculous question, yet according to Avaaz, the answer is yes.]
When Avaaz rolled out the same rinse, lather and repeat campaign for the seizing of Syria, the public did not fall prey as easily. The campaign failed. Below are three separate links to the Avaaz campaign calling for a no-fly zone over Syria.
http://www.avaaz.org/en/syria_the_last_straw_a/ (June 4, 2013) (Avaaz utilizing the “chemical attack” that has since been discredited.)
https://secure.avaaz.org/en/syria_the_last_straw_0/ (June 14, 2013) (Avaaz alleges a “rape crisis” committed by soldiers of the Syrian army – the same tactic used to incite hatred against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi that was later discredited.)
http://web.archive.org/web/20130825092136/https://secure.avaaz.org/en/syria_no_fly_zone/ (Again, utilizing the “chemical attack” that has since been discredited)
Of the Avaaz campaigns pressing for a no-fly zone (air strikes) over Syria that flourished in June of 2013, at least two employed the use of chemical weapons to incite fear and hatred toward the Assad government. It does not take much stretch of the imagination to consider Avaaz had inside knowledge of the upcoming chemical attack that would take place in outer Damascus approximately 10 weeks later. Considering Avaaz co-founder Tom Perriello’s connection to the Obama administration and its well known war criminals, it is entirely plausible that Avaaz was churning out propaganda that would lead up to and sensationalize a false flag attack.
Photo: Avaaz co-founder and Congressman Tom Perriello with war criminal, General David Petraeus (far left). Under this Flickr photo the caption reads: “Passing the Baton, United States Institute of Peace”  [Photo: Jon-Phillip Sheridan | Source] [In July, 2011, “General David Petraeus was approved as CIA Director by both the Senate Intelligence Committee and then the full Senate, whose vote was an astounding 94-0, astounding because this is a man who was deeply implicated in war crimes, including torture.” Source] [Welcome to the Brave New World – Brought to You by Avaaz, Sept 13, 2013]
The August 30, 2013 article “On the Eve of an Illegal Attack on Syria, Avaaz/350.org Board Members Beat the Drums of War” documents Avaaz links imploring a no-fly zone on Syria – both public links have since been removed. The article also featured 350.org board member Van Jones calling for air strikes on Syria. (Adding twisted irony, Van Jones also serves as co-founder and executive director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. The co-opting of deceased civil rights revolutionaries to advance the goals of hegemony has become common practice within these foundation-financed projects.)
Screenshots of an email from co-founder of Avaaz, Ricken Patel to Avaaz subscribers dated August 27, 2014 can be found here (1) and here (2). The email from Patel represented a last-ditch effort to garner support for a no-fly zone as the US prepared to launch an attack on Syria.
One year earlier, in 2012 Avaaz was allegedly sponsoring fabricated videos of civilian massacres, to back deeper foreign intervention in Syria. Fact-checking and videos appear to collaborate these claims.
Jump forward to 2014.
In the September 8, 2014 article Pentagon Planning Points to Possible Anti-Syria US Military Campaign, author Stephen Gowans observes:
“Now, it appears that Washington is on the cusp of pressing ahead with its planned campaign of military action. The New York Times has reported that ‘Pentagon planners envision a military campaign’ to destroy ISIS ‘in its sanctuary inside Syria’ that could last ‘at least 36 months.’ According to The Wall Street Journal, airstrikes would support anti-Assad fighters unaligned with ISIS, who would be bankrolled by $500 million in US funding, and backed by a global coalition, including the UK and Australia, that would ‘provide a range of assistance, including humanitarian aid and weapons.’ These countries could also join the United States in an air-war over Syria.”
It should not be considered a coincidence that at the same time, a polished, sophisticated and highly financed “Save Syria” campaign is being created in the board rooms of the Empire’s favourite Harvard boys.
Where, under the organization Avaaz, the public hasn’t acquiesced to an air strike on Syria, the New York public relations firm Purpose Inc. has stepped in.
Purpose is a for-profit enterprise that is marketed to appear like a non-profit. Their area of expertise is behavioural change.
“[Purpose] has a non-profit arm, which incubates protests and accepts donations. This is cross-subsidised by its for-profit arm, which makes money in a variety of ways. It sells consulting services to big companies such as Google and Audi, and to charities such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union.” – The Economist
GetUp, Avaaz and Purpose co-founder Jeremy Heimans, 2010.
Purpose Inc.: The Crème de la Crème Agents of Behavioural Change
Purpose | Avaaz Co-Founders
Vision: “Purpose is a global initiative that draws on leading technologies, political organizing and behavioral economics to build powerful, tech-savvy movements that can transform culture and influence policy.”
Avaaz and GetUp co-founders Jeremy Heimans (CEO) and David Madden  are also founders of the New York consulting firm, Purpose Inc.
Avaaz was created in part by MoveOn, a Democratic Party associated Political Action Committee (or PAC), formed in response to the impeachment of President Clinton. Avaaz and MoveOn are funded in part by convicted inside-trader and billionaire hedge fund mogul, George Soros.
Avaaz co-founder James Slezak is also identified as a co-founder and CEO of Purpose at its inception in 2009.
The secret behind the success of both Avaaz and Purpose is their reliance upon and expertise in behavioural change.
While the behavioural change tactics used by Avaaz are on public display, double-breasted, for-profit Purpose, with its non-profit arm, sells their expertise behind the scenes to further the interest of hegemony and capital. Whether it be a glossy campaign to help facilitate yet another illegal “humanitarian intervention” led by aggressive U.S. militarism (an oxymoron if there ever was one), or the creation of a new global “green” economy, Purpose is the consulting firm that the wolves of Wall Street and oligarchs alike depend upon to make it happen.
Make no mistake, the Yale (for example, Avaaz co-founder and former U.S. Representative *Tom Perriello) and Harvard graduates that comprise the “Avaaz boys” (many having been groomed by McKinsey and Company) are considered “the dream team” by the globe’s most powerful capitalists, including those at the United Nations and the World Bank. Avaaz co-founder Andrea Madden works for the World Bank in Burma [Myanmar]. Her husband is Avaaz co-founder David Madden who has taken up residence in Burma. [March 23, 2013: Western Media Celebrates Faux Progress in Myanmar] Madden has co-founded a marketing firm, Parami Road in Myanmar: “Our clients are mostly international companies entering Myanmar and they demand an international standard of work.”
“After years of isolation, Myanmar is opening up. Opportunities abound. However international companies have little experience here and local firms have little experience working with them. Parami Road meets this need.” – Parami website
Another key co-founder of Avaaz is none other than pro-war, pro-Israel, U.S. Democrat Tom Perriello, former U.S. Representative (represented the 5th District of Virginia from 2008 to 2010) and founding member of the House Majority Leader’s National Security Working Group. As demonstrated in the 2012 investigative report on Avaaz, Perriello’s curriculum vitae, built upon privilege within elite circles, is quite extensive.
[*Full profile on Avaaz co-founder Tom Perriello: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II, Section I [Link]
The former Managing Director of Partnerships for “Purpose” is Marilia Bezerra. From 2006 to 2011 Bezerra held an integral position within the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) executive leadership. As Clinton Global Initiative director of commitments, Bezerra led the redesign of member engagement and commitments services into a year-round operation. From 2007 to 2008, Bezerra held the position of sponsorship manager of the Clinton Global Initiative where she directly managed five major sponsorship accounts, including Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Procter & Gamble, valued at over $2 million dollars. From 2006 to 2008, Bezerra held the position of Commitment Development Senior Manager for the Clinton Global Initiative. In 2009, Bezerra was Deputy Director of Commitments for the Clinton Global Initiative.
One should note that in the case of many NGOs, on 990 tax forms it appears as though those at the helm are paid minimally, if at all. Rather than salaries, many founders of institutions make immense fees via consulting services where their names are not identified on 990 forms. In the case of Avaaz, co-founder Ricken Patel does take a salary (approx. $190,000.00 per year) plus consulting fees. Consulting fees must be considered the bread and butter of many “progressives” whose incomes rival CEOs of multinational corporations. The salaries and incomes are incredible when one accounts for the fact that many NGOs, such as Avaaz, rake in millions of dollars in donations from well-intentioned and hard-working citizens who are at or below the poverty line.
[Full profile of Ricken Patel: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II, Section I [Link]
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.” [Source] 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.” [Further reading on Purpose]
Heimans, the Avaaz front man of Purpose, is a darling of the high-finance corporate world. “In 2011, Jeremy received the Ford Foundation’s 75th anniversary Visionaries Award. The World Economic Forum at Davos has named him a Young Global Leader, and the World e-Government Forum has named Jeremy and Purpose co-founder David Madden among the “Top 10 People Who Are Changing the World of the Internet and Politics.” [Source]
- White Helmets / Syrian Civil Defence on Facebook and Twitter
- The Syria Campaign on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube
“Who are we? Three years after the peaceful uprising in Syria, politicians and the media have largely forgotten what the UN calls ‘the greatest humanitarian tragedy of our time.’ But we haven’t.” — Front page of “The Syria Campaign” and the “White Helmets / Syrian Civil Defence” website
The March Campaign #withSyria | Over 130 Partners
Purpose’s March campaign #withSyria website (which doubles as a hash tag for Twitter) partners include: Open Society Foundation (George Soros), Amnesty International, Christian Aid, Care, Friends of the Earth, Oxfam and many more of the largest “humanitarian” NGOs within the non-profit industrial complex which makes up a billion dollar industry. [Full list of partners: http://marchcampaign.withsyria.com/partners0]. Utilizing the consumer culture’s celebrity fetish to sell war (and the illusory “green economy“) is a vital marketing strategy of Purpose. In the case of #withSyria, famed street artist Banksy has reworked his “Young Girl” famed graffiti stencil in support of the campaign. On the main page of this website the behavioural change strategists at Purpose promote a slick, emotive video of a white child (in America) slowly becoming traumatized by the violence in Syria. No doubt, Purpose’s marketing executives have taken this avenue because they know that the majority of Euro-Americans with privilege simply are not moved by images of suffering children that are non-Caucasian. Non-White children being slaughtered by imperial states became normalized for most Euro-American citizens long ago.
“What if we could reverse the explosion of a bomb? A group of 130 organizations from around the world, known collectively as the ‘With Syria’ campaign, released a video Wednesday that shows just what that would look like. The campaign hopes to bring attention to the violence in Syria. (video) Warning: Contains disturbing imagery. In the video, the act of a bomb exploding near children playing is reversed: The blood returns to their heads, the children stand back up, run in reverse and continue the game they were playing. A message says, ‘We can’t reverse what’s happened in Syria, but we can change how the story ends.’”
Indeed Purpose is being paid to bring about the ending that the elites have hired them to ensure.
“Even more impressive than her military, America has built the most sophisticated propaganda machinery the planet has ever seen.” – Garikai Chengu
Free Syrian Voices partners include Amnesty International, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network, FIDH, Front Line Defenders, Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders and “other international, regional and Syrian organizations” – which conveniently go unnamed.
Such emotionally charged campaigns are critical tools for empire. They have become critical (and successful) in building the acquiescence required for “humanitarian interventions” (aka regime change with extensive “collateral damage” thrown in for good measure).
“In the IC Magazine publication Communications in Conflict, is noted a new form of psychological warfare termed ‘false hope.’ False hope, as a tool for subverting social movements, is unparalleled in its effectiveness. What once was crudely accomplished through political repression, censorship, educational indoctrination and misleading propaganda, is now supplemented, if not surpassed, through vertical integration of the non-profit industrial complex. Where Wall Street once had to rely on threats and bribery to intimidate or corrupt social movements, it now has a vast army of neoliberal foundations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and social media at its disposal.” — Jay Taber, False Hope, September 6, 2014
It is important to note that Purpose is a for-profit business strategically presented as though it is a non-profit (similar to the Change.org petition site). This begs the question of who is financing the Syrian campaigns. The fact that a group of wealthy elites from Harvard living privileged lifestyles in New York City (and abroad) decide, via glossy marketing campaigns, who will live or die on the other side of the world is the ultimate representation of whitism and racism – an egregious affront to people everywhere. [Further reading on Purpose]
“If there is any doubt concerning the nefarious undertones of subversiveness in these NGO dealings, [National Endowment for Democracy] NED founder reportedly said the following in the 1990s: ‘A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.’ What was once done at night under the cloak of ‘imperialism’ is now done during the day under the guise of ‘humanitarianism.’” — WKOG 30-point Primer
The many facets of Purpose:
1) Purpose (tax identification number 68-0607622) is a for-profit certified B-corporation “that uses an innovative model to pool some of the world’s leading experts and practitioners in order to fund, launch and accelerate the growth of new social movement organizations.”
2) Purpose Action (tax identification number 45-2451509), the non-profit arm of Purpose, is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit advocacy organization “focused on changing policy.” Purpose Action Board of Directors includes Brett Solomon, executive director of Access, former campaigns director at Avaaz, former executive director of GetUp! 
3) Purpose Foundation (tax identification number 27-3106760) is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization “focused on education and changing culture.” 
4) Purpose Campaign (tax identification number 68-0607622) “Develops social and consumer movements.”
US Military Utilize NGOs to Induce Pacification & Advance Western Ideologies on Iraqi Citizens
The video below captures highlights from the 2004 Princeton Colloquium on Public and International Affairs and should that be at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs – The Role of NGOs in Global Governance and Society. Attention to the title is key: “NON-governmental organizations in global GOVERNANCE.” [Note the use of the term “guerrilla” (4:13) in describing any citizen/person resisting the occupation/assault by US military on Iraq soil.] Since the filming of this video, accelerating regime change operations are being conducted by Western militaries, hand in hand with Western NGOs throughout the globe. [See more: http://www.interventionism.info/en/Re…]. In essence, NGOs have become an indispensable instrument of destabilization and regime change for imperial states and hegemonic interests. NGOs also serve as the primary agents to implant neoliberal policies and western ideologies in targeted states to advance and protect the interests of the NGOs’ funders.
The Hate Campaign
The June, 2012, Avaaz “Good Versus Evil” campaign for the Rio Summit. Above: A downloadable poster as found on the Avaaz Press Centre published in the Financial Times. Vilification: Note the dark cast/ugly sky behind the leaders Avaaz would wish you to believe are “evil,” versus the light and sun shining through over the Imperialist, obstructionist “leaders” that Avaaz is attempting to convince you are “good.”
“‘You have to investigate the supply of hatred,’ Glaeser continues. ‘Who has the incentive and the ability to induce group hatred? This pushes us toward the crux of the model: politicians or anyone else will supply hatred when hatred is a complement to their policies.’” — The Behavioural Economics of Hatred
Heiman’s work been recognized in publications like The New York Times and The Economist. In The Economist, Heiman states he chose his career path when “in 2001, a college student named Eli Pariser created an online petition calling for a multilateral response to the ‘9/11 terrorist attacks.’” Over a decade on, with civilian deaths that amount to millions, I’m sure the Iraqis are most grateful. It must be noted that Eli Pariser, too, is a co-founder of Avaaz and Co-Founder and Executive Director of MoveOn.org (Avaaz founder) PAC.
Above: The Syria Campaign, Non-profit Organization, created by Purpose, launched March 7, 2014.
“We were afraid the regime would fire another rocket, as they always come back to the area of attack when people come to rescue to bomb them, so we started evacuating people in a hurry so no more lives would be lost. This picture was taken then! That boy holding my neck like that was one of the moments in which I knew why I am a civil defender!” — Purpose Inc. Marketing Firm
Purpose Inc. strategically employs images, carefully worded text and slick video that provoke intense emotion. Key language includes children, refugees, regime, and their work “in the most dangerous place in the world.”
“A year ago today, the Syrian government used Sarin gas against its own people killing over a thousand, many of them children. The world was outraged and demanded Assad destroy his stockpile of chemical weapons. Today chlorine gas is still being used on civilian neighbourhoods, rolled out the back of helicopters in rusty ‘barrel bombs.’” — Purpose Inc. Marketing Firm, Image by Designer : FaDi zyada whose work is also featured on the Heinrich Von Arabien Foundation website. This same website features an absurd photo of Syrians holding up a poster that features a “thumbs up” illustration for USA and the UN.
[***Reference list for deconstructing the myth that Syrian army + “dictator” used chemical weapons in August 2013 by Susan Dirgham: http://australiansforreconciliationinsyria.org/reference-list-chemical-attack-in-damascus-august-2013/]
Exploiting the death of Syrian children to provoke air strikes and military aggression demonstrates that such agencies go to any extreme to further American foreign policy. Note that the very carnage described above: “killing over a thousand, many of them children” is par for the course for the U.S. military, which carries out such atrocities on innocent civilians, including children, on a daily basis, all over the world. But don’t expect an Avaaz or Purpose campaign against the Obama Regime any time soon. They will be too busy under the guise of their NGO MoveOn, working on his re-election.
The following quote represents the real purpose of Purpose:
“The media may have turned away from what’s unfolding daily in Syria but today we all have the tools to tell the world the truth. Please share widely and remember the children of Syria in your thoughts today.”
The lapdog media have not turned away, but much of the public has. It’s the job of Purpose to employ netwar methods (“a form of low intensity conflict, crime, and activism waged by actors using social networking services” according to Wikipedia) on the public (targeting Euro-Americans) that will instill hatred toward the democratically elected Bashar al-Assad.
“It’s past time for President Obama to present a plan for dealing with the humanitarian crisis in Syria.” — Purpose Inc. Marketing Firm
“Today we remember the more than 1,300 who lost their lives in the Ghouta chemical weapons attacks. Let’s also remember those +150,000 who face torture and death while being detained.” — Purpose Inc. Marketing Firm
Let’s not mention Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and a mile long list of the Obama administration’s involvement in torture, shall we? Syria certainly demonstrates that the first casualty of war (in this case a destabilization effort) is truth. The following excerpt is from the article Foley & Sotloff’s Reporting Show Why the US Should Stop Its Proxy War on Syria, which lays bare that “both journalists documented the reality of Free Syria Army”:
“While in Turkey Sotloff broadcast news of Syrian rebels being found and arrested with chemical weapon Sarin gas. He used Twitter to send out the Turkish news report. That was in May, three months before the August 21 2013 chemical weapons deaths in outer Damascus. The Syrian rebels were arrested by Turkish police but quickly released, giving evidence to claims of Turkish government support for Nusra. Sotloff was puzzled why the mainstream media was not giving this event coverage.”
“This Thursday marks the one year anniversary of the chemical weapons attack that took the lives of over 1,000 Syrians. Since then tens of thousands more have been killed by different methods. Starvation is one. But the international media and world leaders still haven’t come together to put an end to it.” — Purpose Inc. Marketing Firm
Above image: Another call for “world leaders” to “come together to put an end to it.” Yet while Purpose may cry crocodile tears over the starvation of Syrians, Avaaz has asked for tough sanctions against Syria. Purpose and Avaaz want to “have their cake and eat it too” – while Syrian lives are destroyed by the oligarchs that both Purpose and Avaaz serve.
The High Gloss Veneer
The following video highlights human rights investigator and award-winning journalist, Keith Harmon Snow, detailing the corrupt NGOs and their portrayal of Africa in order to illicit funds. Snow must be considered one of our finest Western reporters for obtaining true independent, grassroots news from the continent of Africa. Within the lecture, Snow discusses the psyops/propaganda strategically orchestrated behind the “Save Darfur” campaigns/movements which, in 2004, began to saturate the populace. At the helm of this “movement” was “The Center for American Progress.”
The Center for American Progress is closely connected with the same players that founded and financed Avaaz. Today, with Avaaz at the forefront, the non-profit industrial complex has been appointed trusted messenger of a grotesque and disturbing ideology; nothing less than a complete reflection and validation of the U.S. administration’s rhetoric intended to justify the annihilation and occupation of sovereign states under the false pretense of “humanitarian intervention” and “responsibility to protect.” 
“The Syrian government has been dropping ‘barrel bombs’ on civilian areas despite a UN order to stop, targeting schools and hospitals. Those too poor to flee their homes can only hope that if the bomb drops, the White Helmets will be there to help get them out.… Let’s tell the world about the White Helmets and help get them the support they need.” — Purpose Inc. Marketing Firm
“Know multiple languages? We need you! Help us get as many eyeballs on the Miracle Baby video by translating the subtitles into as many languages possible here: http://bit.ly/1tKSmrz” — Purpose Inc. Marketing Firm
Firms and agencies such as Purpose write and develop the scripts and design the sets. They bring the stories to life, strategically exploit and manipulate our emotions, ultimately ensuring we come to accept and partake in their politically acceptable means of discourse – discourse sanctioned (and financed) by the empire.
“Syrians welcome Iraq’s Yazidi refugees into their country with warm meals, giving them their clothes and in some cases opening up their homes.” – Purpose Inc. Marketing Firm
The above quote is representative of perhaps one too many spin doctors, for who is allowing Iraq’s Yazidi refugees into Syria, if not the Assad government? Indeed, Assad’s government has accepted more refugees per capita than any other country in the Middle East.
“In the wake of Robin Williams’ death, the people of Idlib remember the actor/comedian with a quote on freedom.” — Purpose Inc. Marketing Firm
This image takes absurdity to a new level. Recap: In the midst of being bombed, starved, and rained on by chemical weapons, Syrians take time to pay homage to an American actor/comedian (because the love of the America that is destroying the Middle East is so great), by quoting a line from a genie in a bottle from a scene in an animated Disney movie and creating a banner in the English language.
“Understand what this infographic says, and you’ll understand why The Syria Campaign exists. And why you and your friends need to join. http://bit.ly/VlYOsi” — Purpose Inc. Marketing Firm
In the infographic above, Purpose deliberately keeps the stats limited to 2014. Otherwise they would have to visualize the millions of Iraqi citizens who have been murdered due to the U.S. illegal war and occupation in Iraq. Further, Purpose gives no attention to the deaths in Honduras, Libya, Haiti, Congo (millions) and all of the other countries being decimated by Imperialism and foreign interference.
“Tell Obama we need a plan set forth to address the worsening humanitarian crisis in Syria. bit.ly/1nITTtO” — Purpose Inc. Marketing Firm
The message is clear. Purpose wants the green light for military intervention in Syria, well-cloaked under the guise of humanitarianism – an oxymoron if there ever was one.
“How were you to know you were approving posts from one of the world’s most violent dictators? A man who’s ordered the dropping of bombs on hospitals and primary schools?” — Purpose Inc. Marketing Firm
“Syrian dictator Bashar Assad has been re-elected and he can thank Facebook for being a propaganda platform.” — Purpose Inc. Marketing Firm
“It is critical to note that the imperialist powers (inclusive of the UN) do not criticize or demonize or withdraw their support from such leaders on any ethical or moral ground. Denunciation of state leaders and emotive language is merely theatre. Rather, the imperialist states strategically set out to destroy any state leader that is unwilling to be controlled by US interests and foreign policy. A case in point is unwavering support of the Saudi royal family responsible for atrocious human rights violations to which the imperialist countries turn a blind eye.” (from Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part I, Section I)
The Behavioural Change Dream Team:
· Full profile of Jeremy Heimans: Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II, Section II [link]
· Full profile of David Madden: Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II, Section II [link]
· Full profile of James Slezak: Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II, Section III [link]
Further reading on behavioural change: Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II, Section II [link]
Further reading on Avaaz and Purpose: This Changes Nothing. Why the People’s Climate March Guarantees Climate Catastrophe
Consider that the colour of the national flag of the Libyan Jamahiriya (from 1977 to 2011; The Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya) was pure green in colour. Unlike the one featured in the Avaaz campaign. The green colour traditionally symbolizes Islam. In Libya, green was also a colour traditionally used to represent the Tripolitania region (commonly referred to as Tripoli) that NATO forces fought to seize. The iconic green flag was chosen by Libyan leader/brother Muammar Gaddafi to symbolize his political philosophy (after his revolutionary Green Book). On 10 March 2011, France was the first state to recognize the council as the official government of Libya, as well as the first to allow the Libyan embassy staff to raise the red, black, green and white flag that would replace the green flag of the Libyan Jamahiriya. On 21 March, the “new” flag was flown by the Permanent Mission of Libya to the United Nations and appeared on their official website … this flag, which reigned prior to the Libyan Jamahiriya, is now the only flag used by the United Nations to represent Libya. According to the following UN statement: “Following the adoption by the General Assembly of resolution 66/1, the Permanent Mission of Libya to the United Nations formally notified the United Nations of a Declaration by the National Transitional Council of 3 August 2011 changing the official name of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya to “Libya” as well as a decision to change Libya’s national flag to the original.” [Wikipedia]
On August 24, 2011 it is reported by yet another mouthpiece for empire that:
“As Libyan rebels take over, embassies worldwide have been replacing the old Libyan flag with a new one…. But starting in February, a new flag – red, black, and green with a white star and crescent in the center – has been hoisted at Libyan embassies around the world, from Switzerland to Bangladesh. It is the same flag being flown by the jubilant rebels themselves as they descend on Tripoli.”
In the article, the words “U.S. funded mercenaries” have been replaced with “the jubilant rebels.” It would be well worth investigating who ordered, manufactured and paid for thousands of these new flags (prior to or commencing in February of 2011) and ensured they would replace the national flag of the Libyan Jamahiriya that flourished from 1977 to 2011.
· The Grotesque and Disturbing Ideology at the Helm of Avaaz, March 7, 2012
· Sostenere il governo USA senza saperlo: il grave esempio di “Avaaz,” March 8, 2012
· SPEAKING TRUTH: A Profound Message to Avaaz from Poet Gabriel Impaglione of Argentina, March 12, 2012
· Argentine Journalist Stella Calloni Denounces Avaaz | Latin American Unions Follow Her Lead, March 12, 2012
· Avaaz: Empire Propaganda Mill Masquerading as Grassroots Activism, June 9, 2012
· Avaaz’s War on Syria: Soros Sponsored Sorrow Pleads for Foreign Intervention, June 14, 2012
· Rio Summit “Good Versus Evil” Advert Displays Blatant Racism and Imperialism at Core of Avaaz, June 22, 2012
· Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part I, Section I, Sept 24, 2012
· Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part I, Section II, Sept 24, 2012
· Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part I, Section III, Sept 24, 2012
· Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II, Section I, Sept 24, 2012
· Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II, Section II, Nov 1, 2012
· Welcome to the Brave New World – Brought to You by Avaaz, Sept 13, 2013
 Jeremy Heimans on Twitter: https://twitter.com/jeremyheimans
 David Madden on Twitter: https://twitter.com/davidmadden
 Job Detail for Social Media Intern, Syrian Voices Movement Job Location: Purpose Inc, New York, NY, 10176: http://jobs.climber.com/jobs/Media-Communication/New-York-NY-10176/Social-Media-Intern-Syrian-Voices-Movement/55687863
 Purpose is hiring: Join the Syria Campaign: http://www.purpose.com/were-staffing-up-on-the-syria-campaign/]
 Purpose Action Board of Directors: Jon Huggett, founding chair of Social Innovation Exchange, former partner at The Bridgespan Group and Bain & Company; Rashad Robinson, executive director of ColorOfChange.org and former senior director of media programs at GLAAD; Brett Solomon, executive director of Access, former campaigns director at Avaaz, former executive director of GetUp!; Douglas Atkin, director of community at Airbnb, former chief community officer of Meetup, author of The Culting of Brands; Andre Banks, executive director of Purpose Foundation, former strategy director at Purpose and former deputy director of ColorOfChange.org; Jeremy Heimans, co-founder & CEO of Purpose, co-founder of Avaaz and co-founder of GetUp! [Source]
 Purpose Foundation Board of Directors: Carla Sutherland, research scholar at Columbia University’s Gender and Sexuality Law Center’s Engaging Tradition Project, former program officer at Ford Foundation and Arcus Foundation; Jeremy Heimans, co-founder & CEO of Purpose, co-founder of Avaaz and co-founder of GetUp!; Michael Evans, president of Moynihan Station Development Corporation and former chief of staff to the Lieutenant Governor of New York State. [Source]| Purpose Foundation’s organizational documents and annual reports on Form 990 can be found here.
 December 29, 2004: “Over two days in early December approximately three-dozen religious activists met at the Washington office of the Center for American Progress, a recently formed think tank headed by former Clinton chief of staff John Podesta. The Res Publica-driven agenda for the closed-door gathering included sessions on “building the movement infrastructure” and “objectives, strategies and core issues.” Res Publica was founded by Tom Perriello, Ricken Patel and Tom Pravda. Avaaz was founded by Res Publica, MoveOn.org, Executive Director Ricken Patel, Tom Perriello, Tom Pravda, Eli Pariser (MoveOn Executive Director), Andrea Woodhouse (consultant to the World Bank) Jeremy Heimans (co-founder of GetUp! and Purpose), and Australian entrepreneur David Madden (co-founder of GetUp and Purpose). Avaaz co-founder Tom Perriello is now President and CEO of Center for American Progress. Perriello and Patel also co-founded and co-directed DarfurGenocide.org which officially launched in 2004. “DarfurGenocide.org is a project of Res Publica, a group of public sector professionals dedicated to promoting good governance and virtuous civic cultures.” Today, this organization is now known as “Darfurian Voices”: “Darfurian Voices is a project of 24 Hours for Darfur.” The U.S. Department of State and the Open Society Institute were just two of the organizations funders and collaborating partners. Other Darfurian Voices partners include Avaaz, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), International Centre for Transitional Justice, Darfur Rehabilitation Project, Humanity United, Darfur People’s Association of New York, Genocide Intervention, Witness, Yale Law School, The Sigrid Rausing Trust and the Bridgeway Foundation. Despite the carefully crafted language and images that tug at your emotions, such NGOs were created for and exist for one primary purpose — to protect and further American policy and interests, under the guise of philanthropy and humanitarianism. Of all the listed partners of DarfurGenocide.org, with exception of one located in London England, all of the entities involved are American and based on US soil.
The head of Russia’s Security Council has promised that the authorities will adjust the nation’s security doctrine after learning the lessons of the latest political crises in the Middle East and Ukraine.
“In order to update the basic concepts of national securitythe council has ordered to begin the work on making corrections to the main strategic plans – the National Security Strategy of the Russian Federation to year 2020 and the Informational Security Strategy,” Nikolai Patrushev said in an article published Wednesday in the Defense Ministry’s daily newspaper, Krasnaya Zvezda (Red Star).
He added that the necessity of such actions has arisen after the so-called Arab Spring (a wave of violent mass protests that led to overthrowing of governments and leaders in several Middle East countries in 2011-12), the wars in Syria and Iraq and also the situation in and around Ukraine.
Patrushev said that these events demonstrated the tendency for security threats to shift from the military sphere into the informational space. “As leading nations of the world fight for their interests they typically use ‘non-direct action,’ the population’s protest potential, radical and extremist groups and also private military contractors,” Patrushev wrote.
He also noted the increasing aggressiveness of the United States and NATO toward Russia, embodied in the beefing up of military potential near Russian borders and the continuing deployment of the global missile defense system.
The Security Council is Russia’s top consultative body on national security, and Nikolai Patrushev has headed the council since 2008. Before that, he was the director of the Federal Security Service for nine years.
In October 2014, Patrushev openly accused the United States of playing a role in the current turmoil in Ukraine and the military conflicts in Georgia and the Caucasus, saying these were direct results of the anti-Russian policy of the US administration. He also revealed in a press interview that intelligence analysts established that American special services were executing an anti-Russian program that dates back to the 1970s, and is based on Zbigniew Brzezinski’s “strategy of weak spots,” the policy of turning the opponent’s potential problems into full-scale crises.
In September 2014, President Vladimir Putin tasked senior military and state officials with developing an updated military doctrine that would meet the needs of changing global politics and modern military challenges and the new dangers and threats, in particular those manifested in the so-called Arab Spring, the civil war in Syria and the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
An updated version of the doctrine was adopted in late December.
French President Francois Hollande has confessed that the country delivered various kinds of weapons, including lethal ones, to foreign-backed militants fighting in Syria, a new book reveals.
“We began when we were certain they (weapons) would end up in the right hands. For the lethal weapons it was our services who delivered them,” Hollande told author Xavier Panon in an interview in May last year.
The book, titled “In the corridors of French diplomacy,” is coming out in France this month.
According to Hollande, France sent canons, machine guns, rocket launchers and anti-tank missiles to the militants fighting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in 2012 despite an arms embargo.
The European Union’s arms embargo on Syria’s foreign-sponsored militants was in place from March 2011 to May 2013.
The book also discloses a series of diplomatic and military measures against the Syrian administration by the French government both under Hollande and previous president Nicolas Sarkozy.
One of the moves was a series of planned August 2013 air raids against the Syrian government allegedly for its use of chemical weapons, which Washington and its Western allies rescinded after a diplomatic deal, under which Syria agreed to eliminate its stockpile of chemical weapons by mid-2014.
The planned attacks had two objectives, to change the “political order” in Syria and to destabilize Russia, which supports Damascus, in order to pressure Moscow into changing its approach to the crisis, a political advisor told the author.
Syria has been grappling with a deadly crisis since March 2011. The US and its regional allies – especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey – have been supporting the militants operating inside Syria since the beginning of the crisis.
The violence fueled by Takfiri groups has so far claimed the lives of over 222,000 people, according to the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says over 7.2 million people have been internally displaced, and more than 3 million have been forced to flee the country.
There are many illusions about what is happening to the Yarmouk district of Damascus and its Palestinian refugee population. The district was originally set aside in 1957 for Palestinian refugees already living there, whom Israel had expelled from their homes in 1948, with periodic additional populations thereafter. Today it is home to around one million Syrians and Palestinians, of whom the Palestinians number roughly 170,000. Palestinians in Syria have all the rights of Syrian citizens except voting, and in Yarmouk their homes are indistinguishable from those of the Syrian residents.
Starting in 2012, armed elements trying to overthrow the Assad government gained a foothold in Yarmouk. Most Palestinians disapproved, since this violated the traditional exchange of Syrian hospitality for Palestinian neutrality. However, there was no consensus among Palestinians to forcibly expel the intruders.
By June, 2013, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) had established a siege on the camp in order to prevent further encroachment toward the center of Damascus, which already receives a daily dose of random mortar attacks. (Three landed just outside my hotel in April, 2014, one killing three people.) Most of the population fled, until only 18,000 remained by October, 2013, according to Fateh leader Abbas Zaki, as reported to Ma’an News. Many thousands are now living outside the camp, in shelter provided by the Syrian government and Syrian humanitarian aid organizations.
In April, 2014 I visited a school that had been converted to living quarters for Yarmouk refugees. The accommodations were immensely crowded and by no means comfortable, a consequence of having to provide for nearly 8 million displaced people in government areas, doubling the normal population for those areas. Nevertheless, food is being provided, as well as education and health services.
Until Daesh (ISIS or the Islamic State) entered the camp on April 1, 2015, the figure of 18,000 residents continued to be reported consistently for the next year and a half despite a siege that cut off electricity and water and reduced the availability of essential food and medical supplies. More than a hundred civilians are reported to have died of starvation or lack of medical treatment during those eighteen months. 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. It is hard to know how many are being forcibly prevented from leaving by the armed groups in the camp and how many choose not to leave because they are afraid of the potential consequences.
Some might be considered “human shields”, used by the fighters to deter attacks against them. But they might equally be concerned about becoming “human hostages” if they leave, i.e. of being used to pressure fighters to surrender. The motivations can be complex, but no evidence has been presented to show that the Syrian government is preventing civilians from leaving the camp. In fact, 90% of the population has already left.
Is the Syrian government preventing the distribution of food and medicine in the camp?
Siege is one of the most common military strategies of the SAA. Typically, the army lays siege to an area and prevents food, medicine and of course arms from entering, to the extent possible. On the other hand it welcomes evacuation of civilians, and provides humanitarian aid to those who leave.
The objective is to remove the civilians from the area as much as possible and then attack the enemy or provoke surrender, sometimes with amnesty as an inducement. This is classic military strategy, though hard on the civilians, as usual.
In the case of Yarmouk, there is another dimension to the siege. The Syrian government has a long-standing agreement with the Palestinian governing council of the camp that it will not enter without their request. However, the council has never made such a request and the Syrian authorities have never asked for permission. This agreement still holds, although Palestinian forces defending the camp against Daesh have recently formed a joint command and are coordinating their efforts with the Syrian military, which has been providing artillery and aerial support. In addition, the army has been attacking areas adjacent to Yarmouk that are Daesh strongholds, in order to impede their access to Yarmouk and prevent resupply to Daesh forces in the camp.
There is no indication that the SAA is preventing humanitarian aid from being distributed in Yarmouk. Despite the siege, 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. However, the government wants the civilians to leave, not to introduce additional persons into the camp, so it is reluctant to allow outsiders to enter, especially in consideration of the fact that they have no means of assuring their safety. Nevertheless, it has permitted humanitarian NGOs, including UNRWA, to distribute aid roughly half the time.
The result has been a modest but insufficient flow of aid to camp residents until Daesh captured much of the area. In the fighting to defend the camp and retake the Daesh-occuped areas, it has been much too dangerous for anyone to undertake aid distribution, with horrific consequences on the remaining civilians. As a result, the number of civilian residents has probably dropped to less than half of the 18,000 initial estimate, despite their qualms about evacuating.
Has the Syrian military been using barrel bombs on Yarmouk?
There is no recorded use of barrel bombs in Yarmouk before the entry of Daesh in late March, 2015. Their use in April, 2015 is confirmed, although the number of casualties due to such ordnance is astonishingly small. One or possibly two barrel bombs appear to have been dropped on the street outside the Palestine Hospital in the camp, but with no reported casualties. Higher numbers have been mentioned, but without evidence.
During the heaviest fighting, the Syrian Air Force (SAAF) has used both conventional bombs delivered by jet aircraft and “barrel” bombs in the Daesh stronghold of Hajar al-Aswad and the adjacent part of Yarmouk. Residents report hearing dozens of explosions, but it is unclear how many were in Yarmouk, how many casualties there may have been and how many were civilians. A total of 18 civilian casualties were counted in all of Yarmouk during a week of intensive fighting at the beginning of April, but none have been attributed to the barrel bombs and it is uncertain who is responsible for the killings.
Does the Syrian army massacre civilians?
One of the main complaints against barrel bombs and the tactics of the SAA is that they cause massive civilian casualties. There is no doubt that disproportionate numbers of civilian casualties have occurred on specific occasions. Overall, however, the number of civilians killed by government forces and loyalists is less than the number of casualties in the fighting forces themselves, possibly as low as two combatants for each civilian. Not since World War One has this been the case for US forces.
As for the “barrel bombs”, the claims of their use against civilians and their exaggerated savagery do not hold up. Like any bomb, they are made of high explosives, sometimes with projectiles added. In this respect they are no different from many types of explosive ordnance used in military forces throughout the world. They are designed for destruction, including destruction of life.
The complaints against them are that a) they are by nature indiscriminate and hit unintended targets and b) they are almost invariably used against civilians. The first is patently untrue. Conventional bombs are usually delivered by fighter-bombers at high speed and often in proximity to the target. In Syrian and other engagements, the speed of delivery offers protection from ground fire. Such speed also reduces accuracy, but the relative proximity to the target compensates substantially for this disadvantage.
Barrel bombs are usually deployed from relatively a greater height that is out of range of ground fire. However, they are dropped from stationary helicopters, which provides greater accuracy that compensates for the height disadvantage. There are few if any reports of barrel bombs failing to hit their intended target (although occasionally the selected target might be the result of poor intelligence).
It has been reported that thousands of barrel bombs have been used by the SAAF since 2012, when they were first deployed, and that there have been thousands of casualties from such weapons. Unfortunately, little more is known except for anecdotal cases. Although some bombs have resulted in only material destruction, others have caused two dozen or more casualties. The available data do not provide much statistical help, such as the average number of casualties per use. Is it more or less than for convention bombs or for US drone weapons, for example? How many of the casualties are civilians and how many combatants? We do not know, but the overall civilian casualty rate remains unusually low compared to most other conflicts in the past century.
What seems clear is that the western press, governments and NGOs have treated barrel bombs as the devil’s weapon. The reason seems to be that while conventional bombs are capable of inflicting just as much damage and loss of life (and are being used extensively by the Ukrainian government), western arsenals do not contain barrel bombs. If these weapons can be sufficiently vilified as a weapon type rather than by their manner of use, Syrian military forces can be blamed for inhumane weaponry without the taint falling upon nations that use different weapons, even ones that are equally or more destructive. Oddly enough, the inhumane DIME and white phosphorous weapons used in Gaza did not provoke equal condemnation, even though the ratio of Israeli military to civilian casualties has been as much as 100 times higher than for the Syrian military.
Why, then, are Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Chris Gunness of UNRWA, and most western press agencies condemning the Syrian government for the use of barrel bombs, for starving camp residents, and for preventing residents from leaving? Palestinians and their supporters are accustomed to false and biased reporting on the subject of Palestine. They know that the western media work overtime to protect Israel. That is their agenda. Do they think that these agencies are unbiased with respect to Syria?
The west, Israel, the Gulf monarchies, Turkey and many sycophants and puppets of western powers have made abundantly clear that they intend to overthrow the Syrian government, in violation of the UN Charter and other international law prohibiting wars of aggression, and against Syrian national sovereignty. AI, HRW, and other human rights imperialists have never once recognized these facts vis-à-vis Syria. In fact, they have supported the west’s illegal push for regime change.
Is it not also clear that western institutions and media are distorting their coverage of Syria in order to promote this goal? Apparently not, even to persons who should know better and are accustomed to seeing such distortions in the reporting on Palestine.
Paul Larudee is one of the founders of the Free Gaza and Free Palestine Movements and an organizer in the International Solidarity Movement.
It has been confirmed that TV journalist Richard Engel’s kidnapping/rescue in norther Syria in late 2012 was a hoax. NBC management knew the story was probably false but proceeded to broadcast it anyway.
There are at least two good things about “Engelgate”.
* It is clear evidence of mainstream media bias in their reporting and characterization of the conflict in Syria. The kidnapping was meant to show that “bad” Assad supporters had kidnapped Richard Engel only to be rescued by the Western/Turkey/Gulf supported “good” rebels. NBC management knew the scenario was dubious but promoted it anyway.
* Engelgate is also proof that Syrian anti-government rebels consciously manipulated western media for political gain. An elaborate ruse was performed to demonize the Syrian government &supporters and to encourage more support for the anti-government rebels.
Some analysts have noted that the Engel/NBC deception is more serious than that of Brian Williams. In the Williams case a TV journalist was puffing himself up; in the Engel deception, public policy involving war and bloodshed was being influenced.
Will this confirmation of deception lead to any more skepticism about reports from and about Syria? Will there be any more critical or skeptical look at stories that demonize the Syrian government and favor the western narrative? We have a test case right now.
HRW report on “Chlorine Gas Attacks”
On April 13, Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a report “Syria: Chemicals Used in Idlib Attacks”. It begins: “Evidence strongly suggests that Syrian government forces used toxic chemicals in several barrel bomb attacks in Idlib”. HRW Deputy Director Nadim Houry accuses the Syrian government of “thumbing its nose at the (UN) Security Council and international law yet again”.
We note that the reported chlorine gas attacks took place in the exact same area where Richard Engel was kidnapped. As shown in the map below, the Engel hoax took place near Maarat Misrin. The alleged Chlorine attacks took place in the adjacent towns of Binnish, Qmenas and Sarmin. The rebel/terrorists were aware of the political ramifications of the kidnapping and rescue hoax in 2012. And now, in 2015, they are very aware of the political implications of the use of chlorine gas.
Certainly, opposition fighters have the motive and the incentive to implicate or “frame” the Syrian government in the use of chlorine gas. Do they have the means? This area is very close to the border with Turkey. Just as opposition brought in Richard Engel and many other western journalists via Turkey, so could they bring in chlorine gas or just about any other weapon.
Eight Significant Problems with the Report
Let us now look at specific problems with the HRW report.
1. The HRW report relies heavily on testimony and video/photo evidence from a biased source known as “Syria Civil Defence”. This organization is not what one might assume. Syria Civil Defence was funded and created by UK and USA. Initial training was provided in Turkey by former British military officer and current contractor based in Dubai. In the past year Syria Civil Defence has been rebranded as “White Helmets” by “The Syria Campaign” which itself is the creation of corporate PR firm. Syrian Civil Defence (aka White Helmets) is heavily into social media and actively campaigning for a No Fly Zone. The HRW report does not include any of the preceding information on Syria Civil Defence, its origins and obvious bias. Shouldn’t “evidence” received from them be considered with a skeptical eye?
2. The photos and videos referenced in the HRW report are unconvincing. Many of the video links in the HRW report do not work. However, many of the videos can be viewed at the Syrian research wiki A Closer Look at Syria. (See the discussion page of the Alleged March 16 Chlorine Attack for video links and comments regarding anomalies in the videos.)
Video of the three dead children is tragic but it’s questionable how they actually died. Scenes from the medical clinic indicate illness but not the cause. Scenes showing the “proof” of a “barrel bomb” containing “chlorine cylinders” is highly dubious. Some of the scenes are almost comical with one person in full hazmat gear, another with mask and another casually with hands in pocket and no mask at all. Then we have someone talking to camera with a bulldozer and some scrap metal on the ground. Then there is the figure holding what they report as a container with a “red liquid”. See sample photos at bottom.
3. The HRW report includes assertions without reference or evidence. For example, “Syrian forces have previously dropped barrel bombs embedded with cylinders of chlorine gas.” and “Syrian government’s previous use of chlorine, suggest this chemical.” What is the source and evidence to support these debatable assertions?
4. The HRW report includes false assertions. For example, the report says “First responders saw and filmed remains of barrel bombs, which can only be delivered by aircraft.” This is not true. Bombs can be exploded on the ground and rebel/terrorists routinely fire gas cylinders from launchers on the ground. See photo below. The implication that chlorine gas attacks can only be done from the air is, of course, nonsense. Chemical warfare and chlorine gas attacks, as excecuted in World War 1, were entirely done from ground based projectiles.
5. The HRW report ignores the issue of motivation and incentive. Normally an investigation will consider the issue of motivation and who benefits from an event or crime. In this case, the Syrian government has nothing to gain and everything to lose by using chlorine gas. Especially after the UN Security Council made a specific resolution regarding use of this industrial gas, why would they arouse world ire and hostility against themselves by using this weapon? Why would they do that when they have conventional explosive weapons which are more deadly? On the other hand, the ones to benefit from such an accusation against the Assad government are the armed opposition and other proponents of a No Fly Zone in northern Syria. How better to frame an adversary in the arena of public opinion? These considerations are curiously lacking in the HRW report. Perhaps that is because the conclusions of the report are at odds with common sense and objective inquiry.
6. The HRW report attempts to buttress new accusations by referring to old and discredited accusations. After the highly publicized events in Ghouta in August 2013, “Human Rights Watch concluded that the evidence strongly suggested that Syrian government authorities used the nerve agent Sarin in attacks on two Damascus suburbs”. Since that time, the HRW analysis has been effectively discredited. Seymour Hersh wrote a two part series of articles which concluded that the chemical attack in Ghouta was by anti-government rebels assisted by Turkey. Another investigative reporter with a proven track record, Robert Parry, directly addressed and discounted HRW’s analysis. Parry concisely summed up the HRW analysis as a “junk heap of bad evidence”. Even the head of the UN Inspection Team, Ake Sellstrom, has acknowledged that the early predictions of missile distance were mistaken. Why has HRW not reviewed and updated its analysis, which they rushed out ahead of the UN report? Instead, it seems they are relying on an old faulty report to justify a new faulty report.
7. The HRW report ignores history of Nusra/Al Queda usage of chemical weapons. The HRW report ignores the evidence that Nusra rebels previously used chemical weapons. For example, UN investigator Carla del Ponte reported there was “strong, concrete evidence” pointing to Nusra rebels having used sarin. There were numerous credible reports of Nusra and other rebel/terrorist organizations possessing sarin.
8. The HRW report ignores the fact that Nusra rebels had control of the major chlorine gas producing factory and stockpile in northern Syria. As reported in a Time magazine article, the major chlorine gas producing factory in northern Syria was over-run and seized by Nusra rebels/terrorists in late 2012. The owner of the factory said “if it turns out chlorine gas was used in the attack, then the first possibility is that it was mine. There is no other factory in Syria that can make this gas, and now it is under opposition control.” The factory owner reported there were about 400 steel cylinders of chlorine gas, one Ton each, captured by Nusra/Al Queda along with the factory.
The article included the following prescient comments, delivered when chlorine gas usage was first reported: “To Faris al-Shehabi, head of the Aleppo Chamber of Industry and a strong government supporter, it was obvious from Day One that the rebels had their eyes on the gas. “Why else would they capture a factory in the middle of nowhere? For the sniper positions?” he asks sarcastically while meeting TIME in Beirut, where he is traveling for business. “We warned back then that chemical components were in the hands of terrorists, but no one listened.”
Was HRW not aware of these important facts or did they think them not relevant?
Hopefully the Engel/NBC hoax will increase public skepticism and critical examination of claims by Syrian “rebels” and their advocates. It should also lead to more scrutiny of media stories, human rights group reports and the words and actions of U.S.government officials.
Unfortunately, since the exposure of the Engel/NBC hoax, Western media and US diplomatic staff have not reduced their bias. A forthcoming article will expose lies and blatant bias on Syria by Robert Siegel of NPR and Ambassador Samantha Power, head of the U.S. Mission to the United Nations.
As for Human Rights Watch, their previous bias and “revolving door” with U.S. Government was criticized in a devastating letter to HRW from numerous Nobel Peace Laureates.
It would be a positive sign for HRW to change their staff policy as proposed by the Nobel Laurate group. It would mark another dramatic and positive sign for HRW to reconsider their report on Chlorine Gas Attacks in Syria taking into account the serious shortcomings identified in this article.
As it stands, the biased and faulty conclusions of the HRW report are much more serious than either Engelgate or the Brian William pretense. The HRW report is receiving wide coverage and is being used to justify actions which might move the region closer to even greater war and bloodshed.
PHOTOS REFERENCED IN ARTICLE
Engel Hoax (Maarat Misrin) and “Chlorine Attack” (Binnish, Sarmin)
Nusra Video of “Syria Civil Defence.”
Syria Civil Defence Evidence in HRW Report.
Nusra Video – Tragic but what really happened?
Syrian opposition loading modified gas canisters into “Hell Cannon.”
Rick Sterling is a founding member of Syria Solidarity Movement. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
In December 2012, Syria’s U.S.-backed “moderate” rebels pulled off a false-flag kidnapping and “rescue” of NBC’s chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel and his crew, getting the crime blamed on a militia tied to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a propaganda scam that NBC played along with despite having evidence of the truth.
On Wednesday, Engel, who had blamed an Assad-linked Shiite militia in reports both for NBC and Vanity Fair, acknowledged that a new examination of the case persuaded him that “the group that kidnapped us was Sunni, not Shia.” He added that the kidnappers “put on an elaborate ruse to convince us they were Shiite shabiha militiamen.”
According to an account published by the New York Times on Thursday – in its “Business Day” section – NBC executives had evidence from the beginning that the actual kidnappers were part of “a Sunni criminal element affiliated with the Free Syrian Army, the loose alliance of rebels opposed to Mr. Assad.”
The Free Syrian Army has been the principal rebel force supported by the U.S. government which, in April 2013, several months after Engel’s high-profile ordeal, earmarked $123 million in aid to the group to carry out its war against Assad’s government.
The other significance of the Syrian rebels’ successful false-flag kidnapping/rescue of Engel is that it may have encouraged them to sponsor other events that would be blamed on the Syrian government and excite the U.S. government and media to intervene militarily against Assad.
On Aug. 21, 2013, a mysterious Sarin gas attack outside Damascus killed several hundred people, causing U.S. officials, journalists and human rights activists to immediately leap to the conclusion that Assad was responsible and that he had crossed President Barack Obama’s “red line” against the use of chemical weapons and thus deserved U.S. military retaliation.
Within days, this political-media hysteria brought the United States to the verge of a sustained bombing campaign against the Syrian military before contrary evidence began emerging suggesting that extremist elements of the Syrian rebel force may have deployed the Sarin as a false-flag event. Obama pulled back at the last moment, infuriating America’s influential neoconservatives who had long put “regime change” in Syria near the top of their to-do list.
In retrospect, the aborted U.S. bombing campaign, if carried out, might well have so devastated the Syrian military that the gates of Damascus would have fallen open to the two most powerful rebel armies, Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front and the hyper-brutal Islamic State, meaning that the black flag of Islamic terrorism might have been raised over one of the Mideast’s most important capitals.
Dangers of Bad Journalism
The revelations about Engel’s staged kidnapping/rescue also illuminate the dangers of biased mainstream U.S. journalism in which the big news organizations take sides in a conflict overseas and shed even the pretense of professional objectivity.
In the case of Syria, the major U.S. media put on blinders for many months to pretend that Assad was opposed by “moderate” rebels until it became impossible to deny that the dominant rebel forces were Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front and the Islamic State. In late September 2013, many of the U.S.-backed, supposedly “moderate” rebels realigned themselves with Al-Qaeda’s affiliate.
In the case of Ukraine, U.S. journalists have put on their blinders again so as not to notice that the U.S.-backed coup regime in Kiev has relied on neo-Nazis and other right-wing extremists to wage an “anti-terrorist operation” against ethnic Russians in the east who have resisted the overthrow of their elected President Viktor Yanukovych. When it comes to Ukraine, the more than 5,000 deaths – mostly ethnic Russians in the east – are all blamed on Russian President Vladimir Putin. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Seeing No Neo-Nazi Militias in Ukraine.”]
These biased storylines – with the “U.S. side” wearing white hats and the other side wearing black hats – are not only bad journalism but invite atrocities because the “U.S. side” knows that the U.S. mainstream media will reflexively blame any horrors on the black-hatted “bad guys.”
In the case of Engel’s staged kidnapping/rescue, the New York Times belatedly reexamined the case not in the context of a disinformation campaign designed to excite war against Syria’s Assad but as a follow-up to disclosures that NBC’s longtime anchor Brian Williams had exaggerated the danger he was in while covering the Iraq War in 2003 – explaining the story’s placement in the business section where such media articles often go.
The most serious journalistic offense by NBC in this case appeared to be that it was aware of the behind-the-scenes reality – that individuals associated with the U.S.-backed rebels were likely responsible – but still let Engel go on the air to point the finger of blame in Assad’s direction.
The Times reported that the kidnapping “group, known as the North Idlib Falcons Brigade, was led by two men, Azzo Qassab and Shukri Ajouj, who had a history of smuggling and other crimes. … NBC executives were informed of Mr. Ajouj and Mr. Qassab’s possible involvement during and after Mr. Engels’s captivity, according to current and former NBC employees and others who helped search for Mr. Engel, including political activists and security professionals.
“Still, the network moved quickly to put Mr. Engel on the air with an account blaming Shiite captors and did not present the other possible version of events. … NBC’s own assessment during the kidnapping had focused on Mr. Qassab and Mr. Ajouj, according to a half-dozen people involved in the recovery effort.
“NBC had received GPS data from the team’s emergency beacon that showed it had been held early in the abduction at a chicken farm widely known by local residents and other rebels to be controlled by the Sunni criminal group.
“NBC had sent an Arab envoy into Syria to drive past the farm, according to three people involved in the efforts to locate Mr. Engel, and engaged in outreach to local commanders for help in obtaining the team’s release. These three people declined to be identified, citing safety considerations.
“Ali Bakran, a rebel commander who assisted in the search, said in an interview that when he confronted Mr. Qassab and Mr. Ajouj with the GPS map, ‘Azzo and Shukri both acknowledged having the NBC reporters.’ Several rebels and others with detailed knowledge of the episode said that the safe release of NBC’s team was staged after consultation with rebel leaders when it became clear that holding them might imperil the rebel efforts to court Western support.
“Abu Hassan, a local medic who is close to the rebel movement, and who was involved in seeking the team’s release, said that when the kidnappers realized that all the other rebels in the area were working to get the captives out, they decided to create a ruse to free them and blame the kidnapping on the Assad regime. ‘It was there that the play was completed,’ he said, speaking of the section of road Mr. Engel and the team were freed on.
“Thaer al-Sheib, another local man connected with the rebel movement who sought the NBC team, said that on the day of the release ‘we heard some random shots for less than a minute coming from the direction of the farm.’ He said that Abu Ayman, the rebel commander credited with freeing the team, is related by marriage to Mr. Ajouj, and that he staged the rescue.”
The Sarin Mystery
While it’s impossible to determine whether the successful scam about Engel’s kidnapping/rescue influenced the thinking of other Syrian rebels to sponsor a false-flag attack using Sarin, some of the same propaganda factors applied – with the U.S. news media jumping to conclusions about Assad’s responsibility for the Sarin deaths and then ridiculing any doubters.
Yet, like the Engel kidnapping affair, there were immediate reasons to doubt the “group think” on the Sarin attack, especially since Assad had just invited United Nations inspectors to Syria to investigate what he claimed was an earlier use of chemical weapons by the rebels. As the inspectors were unpacking their bags in Damascus, the Sarin attack occurred in a Damascus suburb, a provocation that quickly forced the inspectors to address the new incident instead.
The inspectors were under extraordinary U.S. pressure to implicate Assad — especially after Secretary of State John Kerry described a massive Sarin attack using multiple rockets that he said could only have come from a Syrian military base. But the inspectors only found one crudely made Sarin-laden rocket – and when rocket experts examined it, they estimated that it could only travel a couple of kilometers, meaning it was likely fired from rebel-controlled territory. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Collapsing Syria-Sarin Case.”]
Even as the evidence implicating the Syrian government evaporated, the mainstream U.S. news media and many wannabe important bloggers continued to defend the earlier “group think” on the Sarin attack and reject the possibility that the sainted rebels had done it. But the false-flag Engel kidnapping/rescue shows that such propaganda stunts were in the rebels’ bag of tricks.
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).
Former Washington insider and four-star General Wesley Clark spilled the beans several years ago on how Paul Wolfowitz and his neoconservative co-conspirators implemented their sweeping plan to destabilize key Middle Eastern countries once it became clear that post-Soviet Russia “won’t stop us.”
As I recently reviewed a YouTube eight-minute clip of General Clark’s October 2007 speech, what leaped out at me was that the neocons had been enabled by their assessment that – after the collapse of the Soviet Union – Russia had become neutralized and posed no deterrent to U.S. military action in the Middle East.
While Clark’s public exposé largely escaped attention in the neocon-friendly “mainstream media” (surprise, surprise!), he recounted being told by a senior general at the Pentagon shortly after the 9/11 attacks in 2001 about the Donald Rumsfeld/Paul Wolfowitz-led plan for “regime change” in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran.
This was startling enough, I grant you, since officially the United States presents itself as a nation that respects international law, frowns upon other powerful nations overthrowing the governments of weaker states, and – in the aftermath of World War II – condemned past aggressions by Nazi Germany and decried Soviet “subversion” of pro-U.S. nations.
But what caught my eye this time was the significance of Clark’s depiction of Wolfowitz in 1992 gloating over what he judged to be a major lesson learned from the Desert Storm attack on Iraq in 1991; namely, “the Soviets won’t stop us.”
That remark directly addresses a question that has troubled me since March 2003 when George W. Bush attacked Iraq. Would the neocons – widely known as “the crazies” at least among the remaining sane people of Washington – have been crazy enough to opt for war to re-arrange the Middle East if the Soviet Union had not fallen apart in 1991?
The question is not an idle one. Despite the debacle in Iraq and elsewhere, the neocon “crazies” still exercise huge influence in Establishment Washington. Thus, the question now becomes whether, with Russia far more stable and much stronger, the “crazies” are prepared to risk military escalation with Russia over Ukraine, what retired U.S. diplomat William R. Polk deemed a potentially dangerous nuclear confrontation, a “Cuban Missile Crisis in reverse.”
The geopolitical vacuum that enabled the neocons to try out their “regime change” scheme in the Middle East may have been what Russian President Vladimir Putin was referring to in his state-of-the-nation address on April 25, 2005, when he called the collapse of the Soviet Union “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the [past] century.” Putin’s comment has been a favorite meme of those who seek to demonize Putin by portraying him as lusting to re-establish a powerful USSR through aggression in Europe.
But, commenting two years after the Iraq invasion, Putin seemed correct at least in how the neocons exploited the absence of the Russian counterweight to over-extend American power in ways that were harmful to the world, devastating to the people at the receiving end of the neocon interventions, and even detrimental to the United States.
If one takes a step back and attempts an unbiased look at the spread of violence in the Middle East over the past quarter-century, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that Putin’s comment was on the mark. With Russia a much-weakened military power in the 1990s and early 2000s, there was nothing to deter U.S. policymakers from the kind of adventurism at Russia’s soft underbelly that, in earlier years, would have carried considerable risk of armed U.S.-USSR confrontation.
I lived in the USSR during the 1970s and would not wish that kind of restrictive regime on anyone. Until it fell apart, though, it was militarily strong enough to deter Wolfowitz-style adventurism. And I will say that – for the millions of people now dead, injured or displaced by U.S. military action in the Middle East over the past dozen years – the collapse of the Soviet Union as a deterrent to U.S. war-making was not only a “geopolitical catastrophe” but an unmitigated disaster.
In his 2007 speech, General Clark related how in early 1991 he dropped in on Paul Wolfowitz, then Under Secretary of Defense for Policy (and later, from 2001 to 2005, Deputy Secretary of Defense). It was just after a major Shia uprising in Iraq in March 1991. President George H.W. Bush’s administration had provoked it, but then did nothing to rescue the Shia from brutal retaliation by Saddam Hussein, who had just survived his Persian Gulf defeat.
According to Clark, Wolfowitz said: “We should have gotten rid of Saddam Hussein. The truth is, one thing we did learn is that we can use our military in the Middle East and the Soviets won’t stop us. We’ve got about five or 10 years to clean up those old Soviet client regimes – Syria, Iran (sic), Iraq – before the next great superpower comes on to challenge us.”
It’s now been more than 10 years, of course. But do not be deceived into thinking Wolfowitz and his neocon colleagues believe they have failed in any major way. The unrest they initiated keeps mounting – in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Lebanon – not to mention fresh violence now in full swing in Yemen and the crisis in Ukraine. Yet, the Teflon coating painted on the neocons continues to cover and protect them in the “mainstream media.”
True, one neocon disappointment is Iran. It is more stable and less isolated than before; it is playing a sophisticated role in Iraq; and it is on the verge of concluding a major nuclear agreement with the West – barring the throwing of a neocon/Israeli monkey wrench into the works to thwart it, as has been done in the past.
An earlier setback for the neocons came at the end of August 2013 when President Barack Obama decided not to let himself be mouse-trapped by the neocons into ordering U.S. forces to attack Syria. Wolfowitz et al. were on the threshold of having the U.S. formally join the war against Bashar al-Assad’s government of Syria when there was the proverbial slip between cup and lip. With the aid of the neocons’ new devil-incarnate Vladimir Putin, Obama faced them down and avoided war.
A week after it became clear that the neocons were not going to get their war in Syria, I found myself at the main CNN studio in Washington together with Paul Wolfowitz and former Sen. Joe Lieberman, another important neocon. As I reported in “How War on Syria Lost Its Way,” the scene was surreal – funereal, even, with both Wolfowitz and Lieberman very much down-in-the-mouth, behaving as though they had just watched their favorite team lose the Super Bowl.
But the neocons are nothing if not resilient. Despite their grotesque disasters, like the Iraq War, and their disappointments, like not getting their war on Syria, they neither learn lessons nor change goals. They just readjust their aim, shooting now at Putin over Ukraine as a way to clear the path again for “regime change” in Syria and Iran. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Why Neocons Seek to Destabilize Russia.”]
The neocons also can take some solace from their “success” at enflaming the Middle East with Shia and Sunni now at each other’s throats — a bad thing for many people of the world and certainly for the many innocent victims in the region, but not so bad for the neocons. After all, it is the view of Israeli leaders and their neocon bedfellows (and women) that the internecine wars among Muslims provide at least some short-term advantages for Israel as it consolidates control over the Palestinian West Bank.
In a Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity memorandum for President Obama on Sept. 6, 2013, we called attention to an uncommonly candid report about Israeli/neocon motivation, written by none other than the Israel-friendly New York Times Bureau Chief in Jerusalem Jodi Rudoren on Sept. 2, 2013, just two days after Obama took advantage of Putin’s success in persuading the Syrians to allow their chemical weapons to be destroyed and called off the planned attack on Syria, causing consternation among neocons in Washington.
Rudoren can perhaps be excused for her naïve lack of “political correctness.” She had been barely a year on the job, had very little prior experience with reporting on the Middle East, and – in the excitement about the almost-attack on Syria – she apparently forgot the strictures normally imposed on the Times’ reporting from Jerusalem. In any case, Israel’s priorities became crystal clear in what Rudoren wrote.
In her article, entitled “Israel Backs Limited Strike Against Syria,” Rudoren noted that the Israelis were arguing, quietly, that the best outcome for Syria’s (then) 2 ½-year-old civil war, at least for the moment, was no outcome:
“For Jerusalem, the status quo, horrific as it may be from a humanitarian perspective, seems preferable to either a victory by Mr. Assad’s government and his Iranian backers or a strengthening of rebel groups, increasingly dominated by Sunni jihadis.
“‘This is a playoff situation in which you need both teams to lose, but at least you don’t want one to win — we’ll settle for a tie,’ said Alon Pinkas, a former Israeli consul general in New York. ‘Let them both bleed, hemorrhage to death: that’s the strategic thinking here. As long as this lingers, there’s no real threat from Syria.’”
Clear enough? If this is the way Israel’s leaders continue to regard the situation in Syria, then they look on deeper U.S. involvement – overt or covert – as likely to ensure that there is no early resolution of the conflict there. The longer Sunni and Shia are killing each other, not only in Syria but also across the region as a whole, the safer Tel Aviv’s leaders calculate Israel is.
But Israeli leaders have also made clear that if one side must win, they would prefer the Sunni side, despite its bloody extremists from Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. In September 2013, shortly after Rudoren’s article, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren, then a close adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told the Jerusalem Post that Israel favored the Sunni extremists over Assad.
“The greatest danger to Israel is by the strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut. And we saw the Assad regime as the keystone in that arc,” Oren said in an interview. “We always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran.” He said this was the case even if the “bad guys” were affiliated with Al-Qaeda.
In June 2014, Oren – then speaking as a former ambassador – said Israel would even prefer a victory by the Islamic State, which was massacring captured Iraqi soldiers and beheading Westerners, than the continuation of the Iranian-backed Assad in Syria. “From Israel’s perspective, if there’s got to be an evil that’s got to prevail, let the Sunni evil prevail,” Oren said.
Netanyahu sounded a similar theme in his March 3, 2015 speech to the U.S. Congress in which he trivialized the threat from the Islamic State with its “butcher knives, captured weapons and YouTube” when compared to Iran, which he accused of “gobbling up the nations” of the Middle East.
That Syria’s main ally is Iran with which it has a mutual defense treaty plays a role in Israeli calculations. Accordingly, while some Western leaders would like to achieve a realistic if imperfect settlement of the Syrian civil war, others who enjoy considerable influence in Washington would just as soon see the Assad government and the entire region bleed out.
As cynical and cruel as this strategy is, it isn’t all that hard to understand. Yet, it seems to be one of those complicated, politically charged situations well above the pay-grade of the sophomores advising President Obama – who, sad to say, are no match for the neocons in the Washington Establishment. Not to mention the Netanyahu-mesmerized Congress.
Speaking of Congress, a year after Rudoren’s report, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, who now chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, divulged some details about the military attack that had been planned against Syria, while lamenting that it was canceled.
In doing so, Corker called Obama’s abrupt change on Aug. 31, 2013, in opting for negotiations over open war on Syria, “the worst moment in U.S. foreign policy since I’ve been here.” Following the neocon script, Corker blasted the deal (since fully implemented) with Putin and the Syrians to rid Syria of its chemical weapons.
Corker complained, “In essence – I’m sorry to be slightly rhetorical – we jumped into Putin’s lap.” A big No-No, of course – especially in Congress – to “jump into Putin’s lap” even though Obama was able to achieve the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons without the United States jumping into another Middle East war.
It would have been nice, of course, if General Clark had thought to share his inside-Pentagon information earlier with the rest of us. In no way should he be seen as a whistleblower.
At the time of his September 2007 speech, he was deep into his quixotic attempt to win the Democratic nomination for president in 2008. In other words, Clark broke the omerta code of silence observed by virtually all U.S. generals, even post-retirement, merely to put some distance between himself and the debacle in Iraq – and win some favor among anti-war Democrats. It didn’t work, so he endorsed Hillary Clinton; that didn’t work, so he endorsed Barack Obama.
Wolfowitz, typically, has landed on his feet. He is now presidential hopeful Jeb Bush’s foreign policy/defense adviser, no doubt outlining his preferred approach to the Middle East chessboard to his new boss. Does anyone know the plural of “bedlam?”
Ray McGovern works for Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He served for a total of 30 years as an Army infantry/intelligence officer and CIA analyst and is a member of the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).
Iran will always be the enemy
For more than twenty years the world has been hearing from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his friends in the United States that Iran is a global threat because it is developing nuclear weapons. Netanyahu’s warning has been framed around his repeated prediction that if nothing were done to intercede in the process the Mullahs would have a weapon of mass destruction in their hands within six months or a year. Since that time numerous time spans of six months or a year have passed and no weapon has appeared, even though Israel did its best to provide forged intelligence to muddy the waters about what was actually occurring. In a notable scam, a lap top prepared by Mossad and delivered by an Iranian dissident group half convinced the International Atomic Energy Agency that Iran was up to something. Israel has also been adept at floating false “intelligence based” allegations that the Iranians were carrying out uranium enrichment in hidden, secret facilities.
But alas, the accepted narrative proved to be a bit creaky. In 2007 the United States intelligence community issued a joint assessment based on reliable information indicating that Iran did not have a nuclear weapons program, so the threat that was being described as imminent suddenly became purely speculative and speculative threats are a dime a dozen, paling before the reality of actual North Korean nuclear weapons and fifty or more nukes in the hands of an unstable Pakistan.
When the threat of Iran actually building a bomb in the near term became less credible, the narrative perforce shifted its focus. It became no longer a question of Iran actually constructing a nuclear weapon. The central bone of contention became their having the capability to do so at some future point. This became known as “breakout capability,” which was defined as the ability to use stockpiled low enriched uranium, enrich it to weapons grade, and engineer it into a weapon. Inevitably, the breakout time for Iran was again often described as six months to a year, demonstrating that no good phony narrative detail element should ever go to waste.
Netanyahu and a number of American congressmen then continued to tinker with their warning, still complaining about breakout but emphasizing that it was actually the capability part that was most troubling. Iran, though a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which nuclear armed Israel is not, should have no right to enrich any uranium at all and ought to be forced to get rid of any uranium in its stockpile. It would also have to dispose of the centrifuges and other equipment used for enrichment and shut down the Fordo facility which, it was alleged, might be able to secretly produce weapons grade enriched uranium.
Ironically, the demands of both Israel and Congress made no sense as Iran and at least fifty other countries already possessed “capability” to make a nuclear weapon as there are many trained engineers able to understand the technical information that is already publicly available to those who know where to look. And the narrative became even more suspect when, in 2010, U.S. intelligence reexamined its previous finding and stated again that Tehran was not developing a weapon at all, an assertion that was actually confirmed by Israel’s Mossad, making it even more difficult to maintain the fiction that Iran was a danger to world peace.
Other intelligence assessments suggested that even if Tehran were able to obtain one or two crude nuclear weapons the threat could easily be contained, all of which produced yet another reset among the anti-Iran claque. The new focus was on delivery systems. Reports that Iran was developing or possibly buying from North Korea a new longer range missile for its arsenal became a key issue and the Obama administration wasted considerable time and energy in first correctly asserting that the missiles were not part of the discussion before folding and including mentioning them in talks as a sop to Israel. The new missiles, per Netanyahu, could allegedly hit parts of Europe and might be improved to the point where they could become intercontinental. And if Iran could acquire a bomb from somebody or develop its own through breakout it would threaten the entire world. The fact that Iran had neither the missile nor the weapon was seemingly irrelevant.
So now we arrive at 2015 and a former Israeli intelligence chief has openly said what most of the rest of the world has long known: Netanyahu is a liar when he talks about Iran. Concurrently, the P5+1 group of negotiators have concluded a marathon 18 months negotiation by achieving a framework agreement with Iran which will substantially diminish its ability to enrich uranium at all, will greatly reduce its stockpile and will also subject all of its research facilities to intrusive inspections. In return sanctions on Iran will slowly be lifted, but it should be observed that most of the major concessions were made by the Islamic Republic, where there is considerable pressure from the public to make Iran again a normal member of the international community.
It is a good agreement for all parties, guaranteeing that Iran will not go nuclear in a bad way and offering a substantive reward for cooperation to the country’s people and government. Unfortunately, details of how an agreement will actually be implemented have yet to be worked out, meaning that a final document is not anticipated until the end of June. That means the troublemakers still have time to create mischief.
Of course Netanyahu and a large number of American Congressmen might be singled out as the aforementioned troublemakers and it has to be reported that they are clearly not happy with the Obama framework. As an agreement will basically eliminate the short term threat of an Iranian nuclear weapon, the initial kibitzing from the usual critics focused on what might happen after the ten years covered by the agreement. Netanyahu has averred that it would virtually guarantee an Iranian bomb after that point, but as his prescience is questionable and he has been wrong about everything else that argument did not obtain much traction, not even in the Washington Post or Wall Street Journal.
Sensing defeat, Netanyahu and his tame congressmen clearly decided a sharp change in direction would be necessary and, presumably guided by the warm and friendly hand of AIPAC, a new approach was concocted combining two essential elements. First, it was claimed that Iran cannot be trusted to abide by any agreement because, as Chief U.S. negotiator Wendy Sherman put it “deception” is in the Iranian leadership DNA. That would mean that Iran might appear to be going along with the agreement but it would secretly be manufacturing a weapon. Just exactly how that would take place under an intrusive inspections regime is not clear, but the idea is to plant the seed that Iranians are intrinsically deceitful and dangerous.
The second argument, which began to evolve before the framework agreement was announced and which not surprisingly has nothing to do with nuclear weapons, is that Iran is threatening and dangerous by virtue of its behavior beyond its nuclear program. Congressmen and pundits have begun to bleat that Iran “now dominates four Arab capitals” and it also “supports terrorism.” One op-ed writer who should know better has described the development of a new Persian Empire.
The first argument is sheer fantasy and racist to boot but the second argument, intended to shift the narrative in a new direction, is actually the more ridiculous. Iran has a struggling economy, a relatively weak military, and much of its outreach to Shi’a communities in neighboring states is in response to the hostility surrounding it engineered by the U.S., Israel and the Sunni ruled regimes in the Persian Gulf. Creating and exploiting a limited sphere of influence as a defensive measure is far from uniquely Iranian.
And the assertion that Iran is controlling four Arab capitals – Baghdad, Beirut, Damascus and Sanaa – is breathtaking in its audacity. Iran has friends and allies in all four states but it does not determine what the government does or does not do in any one of them. The close relationship of Iran with Syria and Iraq is largely defensive and can indeed be described as derived from the instability in the region that came about because of reckless American intervention against Saddam Hussein followed by Washington’s support of a roadmap to remove Bashir al-Assad.
As for the terrorism issue, one might reasonably argue that Iran has been on the receiving end more often than not. It has been subjected to bombing and shooting attacks carried out by armed separatists supported by Tel Aviv and Washington, its scientists and technicians have been assassinated by Israel and its computer systems have been attacked with Stuxnet, Duqu and Flame viruses. According to the annual State Department Countries Report on Terrorism, Tehran’s actual support of what the U.S. and Israel claim are terrorists consists of continuing “… support for Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza, and for Hizballah. It has also increased its presence in Africa and attempted to smuggle arms to Houthi separatists in Yemen and Shia oppositionists in Bahrain. Iran used the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) and its regional proxy groups to implement foreign policy goals, provide cover for intelligence operations, and create instability in the Middle East. The IRGC-QF is the regime’s primary mechanism for cultivating and supporting terrorists abroad. Iran views Syria as a crucial causeway in its weapons supply route to Hizballah, its primary beneficiary.”
The meddling by the Revolutionary Guards would appear to be small potatoes, largely defensive in nature and focused on specific regional interests and concerns, relatively minor in comparison with what the United States does globally. The two Palestinian groups cited by name later in the report, the Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC), plus Hizballah in Lebanon, would be considered resistance organizations against Israeli occupation and aggression by many. None of them threatens the United States.
The sad reality is that the pro-Israel crowd wants a war with Iran to be fought exclusively by the United States no matter what Iran does to avoid an armed conflict and they will twist the narrative so that Tehran always represents a serious threat. Remember the lies that were concocted to justify invading Iraq? Iraq allegedly had weapons of mass destruction, it threatened the entire region, it supported terrorism… does that sound familiar? Even complete surrender by Tehran might not be enough to satisfy the hawks in Congress and in Israel because the fact that Iran is in terms of geography, resources and population a regional power is what disturbs psychopaths like Benjamin Netanyahu and his Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Hopefully the American public has finally developed enough savvy to see through the barrage of war talk and lies that it will be subjected to over the next two months. Hopefully Israel and its Lobby and its friends will go down in defeat one more time, perhaps a defeat decisive enough to convince them that their narrative shifting is not any longer working. Hopefully.
White Helmets, Avaaz, Nicholas Kristof and Syria No Fly Zone
You might think that after seeing the consequences of their campaign for “freedom and democracy” in Libya, journalists like Nicholas Kristof and “humanitarian campaigners” like Avaaz would have some qualms.
Unfortunately they have learned nothing. They have generally not been held to account, with a few nice exceptions such as this Greenwald/Hussain article. And now they are at it again. Many well-intentioned but naive members of the U.S. and international public are again being duped into signing an Avaaz petition based on fraud and misinformation. If the campaign succeeds in leading to a No Fly Zone in Syria, it will result in vastly increased war, mayhem and bloodshed.
The following illustration shows the sequence and trail of deceit leading to Avaaz’s call for a No Fly Zone in Syria.
The “Source” is unknown at this time. It might be some US agency with or without the approval of the Obama administration. Or it might be another foreign government which seeks, in plain violation of international law, the overthrow the Syrian government. In addition to the U.S., Turkey, Saudi Arabia, France, Britain and Qatar have each spent hundreds of millions and even billions in heavy weaponry plus 3,000 tons of weapons via Croatia plus arming, training, supplying and paying the salaries of thousands of domestic and international mercenaries sowing mayhem and destruction in Syria.
At this point we do not know but there is a REWARD: $100 finders fee to the first person who can provide credible evidence identifying the SOURCE.
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”.
The Syria Campaign
The Syria Campaign began in spring 2014. 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.
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.
White Helmets is the newly minted name for “Syrian Civil Defence”. Despite the name, Syria Civil Defence was not created by Syrians nor does it serve Syria. Rather it was 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 whose company is based in Dubai.
The trainees are said to be ‘nonpartisan’ but only work in rebel-controlled areas of Idlib (now controlled by Nusra/Al Queda) and Aleppo. There are widely divergent claims regarding the number of people trained by the White Helmets and the number of people rescued. The numbers are probably highly exaggerated especially since rebel-controlled territories have few civilians. A doctor who recently served in a rebel-controlled area of Aleppo described it as a ghost town. The White Helmets work primarily with the rebel group Jabat al Nusra (Al Queda in Syria). 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.
But 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.
Nicholas Kristof/New York Times
The “White Helmets” campaign has been highly successful because of uncritical media promotion. Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times was an advocate of the NATO/US attack on Libya. According to him, villagers who had been shot, injured and their homes destroyed were not bitter, they were thankful! “Hugs from Libyans” is how he viewed it. It was, of course, nonsense, helping to pave the way in the invasion and destruction of the country.
Now Kristof is uncritically promoting the White Helmets, aiding and abetting their political and propaganda message seeking foreign intervention in Syria.
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. While Avaaz has promoted some worthy causes, they have been prominent in promoting neoliberal foreign policies in keeping with the U.S. State Department. Accordingly, they had a major disinformation campaign against Venezuela last year.
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.
The manipulators rely on emotional images and messages, not facts. They depend on willing partners in the mainstream media who amplify the easy and glib characterizations of who and what is good and bad. The manipulators depend on their audience not asking questions or investigating on their own. In these times of rapid spread of visual and text information via social media, the potential for deceit is huge.
The foreign policy quandary facing President Barack Obama is that America’s traditional allies in the Middle East – Israel and Saudi Arabia – along with Official Washington’s powerful neocons have effectively sided with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State out of a belief that Iran represents a greater threat to Israeli and Saudi interests.
But what that means for U.S. interests is potentially catastrophic. If the Islamic State continues its penetration toward Damascus in league with Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front and topples the Syrian government, the resulting slaughter of Christians, Shiites and other religious minorities – as well as the risk of a major new terrorist base in the heart of the Middle East – could force the United States into a hopeless new war that could drain the U.S. Treasury and drive the nation into a chaotic and dangerous decline.
To avoid this calamity, Obama would have to throw U.S. support fully behind the embattled regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, precipitate a break with Israel and Saudi Arabia, and withstand a chorus of condemnations from influential neocon pundits, Republican politicians and hawkish Democrats. Influenced by Israeli propaganda, all have pushed for ousting Assad in a “regime change.”
But the world has already had a grim peek at what an Islamic State/Al-Qaeda victory would look like. The Islamic State has reveled in its ability to provoke Western outrage through acts of shocking brutality, such as beheadings, incinerations, stonings, burning of ancient books and destruction of religious sites that the group deems offensive to its fundamentalist version of Islam.
Over the Easter holiday, there were reports of the Islamic State destroying a Christian Church in northeastern Syria and taking scores of Christians as prisoners. An Islamic State victory in Syria would likely mean atrocities on a massive scale. And, there are signs that Al-Qaeda might bring the Islamic State back into the fold if it achieves this success, which would let Al-Qaeda resume its plotting for its own outrages through terrorist attacks on European and U.S. targets.
Though Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front and the Islamic State have been estranged in recent months, the groups were reported to be collaborating in an assault on the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk, south of Damascus. United Nations spokesman Chris Gunness told the Associated Press, “The situation in the camp is beyond inhumane.”
The AP also reported that “Palestinian officials and Syrian activists say the Islamic State militants fighting in Yarmouk were working with rivals from the al-Qaida affiliate in Syria, the Nusra Front. The two groups have fought bloody battles against each other in other parts of Syria, but appear to be cooperating in the attack on Yarmouk.”
Syria has become a frontline in the sectarian conflict between Sunni and Shiite Islam, with Saudi Arabia a longtime funder of the Sunni fundamentalist Wahhabism, which gave rise to Al-Qaeda under the direction of Saudi Osama bin Laden. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers in the 9/11 attacks were Saudi nationals, and elements of the Saudi royal family and other Persian Gulf sheikdoms have been identified as Al-Qaeda’s financiers. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Secret Saudi Ties to Terrorism.”]
The Israeli-Saudi Alliance
In seeking “regime change” in Syria, Saudi Arabia has been joined by Israel whose leaders have cited Syria as the “keystone” in the pro-Iranian Shiite “strategic arc” from Tehran through Damascus to Beirut. In making that point in September 2013, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren told the Jerusalem Post that Israel favored the Sunni extremists over Assad and the Shiites.
“We always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran.” He said this was the case even if the “bad guys” were affiliated with Al-Qaeda.
In June 2014, Oren expanded on this Israeli position. Then, speaking as a former ambassador, Oren said Israel would even prefer a victory by the Islamic State. “From Israel’s perspective, if there’s got to be an evil that’s got to prevail, let the Sunni evil prevail,” Oren said.
On March 3, in the speech to a cheering U.S. Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also argued that the danger from Iran was much greater than from the Islamic State (or ISIS). Netanyahu dismissed ISIS as a relatively minor annoyance with its “butcher knives, captured weapons and YouTube” when compared to Iran, which he accused of “gobbling up the nations” of the Middle East.
He claimed “Iran now dominates four Arab capitals, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sanaa. And if Iran’s aggression is left unchecked, more will surely follow. … We must all stand together to stop Iran’s march of conquest, subjugation and terror.”
Netanyahu’s rhetoric was clearly hyperbole – Iran’s troops have not invaded any country for centuries; Iran did come to the aid of the Shiite-dominated government of Iraq in its fight with the Islamic State, but the “regime change” in Baghdad was implemented not by Iran but by President George W. Bush and the U.S. military; and it’s preposterous to say that Iran “dominates” Damascus, Beirut and Sanaa – though Iran is allied with elements in Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.
But hyperbole or not, Netanyahu’s claims became marching orders for the American neocons, the Republican Party and much of the Democratic Party. Republicans and some Democrats denounced President Obama’s support for international negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program while some prominent neocons were granted space on the op-ed pages of the Washington Post and New York Times to advocate bombing Iran. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “NYT Publishes Call to Bomb Iran.”]
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia – with U.S. logistical and intelligence help – began bombing the Houthi rebels in Yemen who have been fighting a long civil war and had captured several major cities. The Houthis, who practice an offshoot of Shiite Islam called Zaydism, deny that they are proxies of Iran although some analysts say the Iranians have given some money and possibly some weapons to the Houthis.
However, by attacking the Houthis, the Saudis have helped Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula regain its footing, including creating an opportunity to free scores of Al-Qaeda militants in a prison break and expanding Al-Qaeda’s territory in the east.
Increasingly, the choice facing Obama is whether to protect the old alliances with Israel and Saudi Arabia – and risk victories by Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State – or expand on the diplomatic opening from the framework agreement on Iran’s nuclear program to side with Shiite forces as the primary bulwark against Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.
For such a seismic shift in U.S. foreign policy, President Obama could use the help of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who assisted in brokering agreements in 2013 in which Syria’s Assad surrendered Syria’s chemical weapons and in which Iranian leaders signed an interim agreement on their nuclear program that laid the groundwork for the April 2 framework deal.
In 2013, those moves by Putin infuriated Official Washington’s neoconservatives who were quick to identify Ukraine as a possible flashpoint between the United States and Russia. With Putin and Obama both distracted by other responsibilities, neocon Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland teamed up with neocon National Endowment for Democracy President Carl Gershman and neocon Sen. John McCain to help fund and coordinate the Feb. 22, 2014 coup that ousted elected President Viktor Yanukovych. The resulting civil war and Russian intervention in Crimea drove a deep wedge between Obama and Putin.
The mainstream U.S. news media got fully behind the demonization of Putin, making a rapprochement over Ukraine nearly impossible. Though German Chancellor Angela Merkel sought to broker a settlement of the conflict in February – known as Minsk-2 – the right-wing government in charge in Kiev, reflecting Nuland’s hard-line position, sabotaged the deal by inserting a poison pill that effectively required the ethnic Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine to surrender before Kiev would conduct elections under its control. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Ukraine’s Poison Pill for Peace Talks.”]
The Kiev regime is also incorporating some of its neo-Nazi militias into the regular army while putting neo-Nazi extremists into key military advisory positions. Though the U.S. media has put on blinders so as not to notice the Swastikas and SS symbols festooning the Azov and other battalions, the reality has been that the neo-Nazis and other far-right extremists have been the fiercest fighters in killing ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Wretched US Journalism on Ukraine.”]
On Saturday, German Economic News reported that the Ukrainian army appointed right-wing extremist Dimitri Jarosch as an official adviser to the army leadership as the Kiev regime – now bolstered by U.S. military equipment and training and receiving billions of dollars in Western aid – prepares for renewed fighting with eastern Ukraine.
The problem with Obama has been that – although he himself may be a “closet realist” willing to work with adversarial countries like Iran and Russia – he has not consistently challenged the neocons and their junior partners, the liberal interventionists. The liberals are particularly susceptible to propaganda campaigns involving non-governmental organizations that claim to promote “human rights” or “democracy” but have their salaries paid by the congressionally financed and neocon-run National Endowment for Democracy or by self-interested billionaires like financier George Soros.
The effectiveness of these NGOs in using social media and other forums to demonize targeted governments, as happened in Ukraine during the winter of 2013-14, makes it hard for honest journalists and serious analysts to put these crises in perspective without endangering their careers and reputations. Over the past year, anyone who questioned the demonization of Putin was denounced as a “Putin apologist” or a “Putin bootlicker.” Thus, many people not wanting to face such slurs either went along with the propagandistic “group think” or kept quiet.
Obama is one person who knows better but hasn’t been willing to contest Official Washington’s narratives portraying Putin or Assad or the Iranians or the Houthis as the devils incarnate. Obama has generally gone with the flow, joining the condemnations, but then resisting at key moments and refusing to implement some of the most extreme neocon ideas – such as bombing the Syrian army or shipping lethal weapons to Ukraine’s right-wing regime or forsaking negotiations and bombing Iran.
Pandering to Israel and Saudi Arabia
In other words, Obama has invested huge amounts of time and energy in trying to maintain positive relations with Netanyahu and the Saudi royals while not fully joining in their regional war against Iran and other Shiite-related governments and movements. Obama understands the enormous risk of allowing Al-Qaeda or the Islamic State to gain firm control of a major Middle Eastern country.
Of course, if that happens in, say, Syria, Obama would be blamed for not overthrowing the Assad regime earlier, as if there actually was a “moderate opposition” that could have withstood the pressure of the Sunni extremists. Though the neocons and liberal interventionists have pretended that this “moderate” force existed, it was always marginal when it came to applying real power.
Whether one likes it or not, the only real force that can stop an Al-Qaeda or Islamic State victory is the Syrian army and the Assad regime. But Obama chose to play the game of demanding that “Assad must go” – to appease the neocons and liberal interventionists – while recognizing that the notion of a “moderate” alternative was never realistic.
As Obama told the New York Times Thomas L. Friedman in August 2014, the idea that the U.S. arming the “moderate” rebels would have made a difference has “always been a fantasy.” [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Behind Obama’s Chaotic Foreign Policy.”]
But Obama may be running out of time in his halfway strategy of half-heartedly addressing the real danger that lies ahead if the Islamic State and/or Al-Qaeda ride the support of Saudi Arabia and Israel to a victory in Syria or Iraq or Yemen.
If the United States has to recommit a major military force in the Middle East, the war would have little hope of succeeding but it would drain American resources – and eviscerate what’s left of the constitutional principles that founded the American Republic.
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).