A SYRIAN LEADER TELLS HIS COUNTRY’S STORY: AN INTERVIEW WITH SAA GENERAL HASSAN HASSAN

In Gaza

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Eva Bartlett sits down for an exclusive interview with the head of the Syrian Arab Army’s Political Administration, General Hassan Hassan.

August 5, 2019, Mint Press News

For years, international headlines spotlighting Syria have claimed that the Syrian government, army, and its allies were guilty of a variety of atrocities. Yet as time has passed, many of the accusations levied at government and its allies have been shown to have been either falsified, staged (as in the case of allegations of chemical attacks in eastern Ghouta), or actually committed by the myriad terrorist groups operating in the country.

For their part, Syrian leadership has maintained from the start that the demonstrations in their country were not peaceful, from 2011 and on. Media in the West and the Gulf vilified Syria’s leadership, featuring story after story of government-imposed violence while ignoring or whitewashing the violence of the burgeoning armed groups flooding into Syria.

From as early as 2011, armed groups were throwing civilians from rooftops and committing beheadings, kidnappings, and massacres. The year 2011 alone saw multiple massacres of civilians and security forces committed by what the media called “unarmed protesters” and later by the “Free Syrian Army.” This was the same year that many in the media were insisting that a “peaceful revolution” was underway.

Since that time, those same armed groups, as well as the many iterations they spawned, have starved, tortured, imprisoned, murdered, maimed and even harvested the organs of Syrian civilians, in addition to killing Syrian and allied soldiers and journalists and destroying much of the country’s infrastructure.

To give a voice to the often ignored “other side” — those Syrians that have been working to defend their country since 2011 —  Eva Bartlett interviewed the Syrian Arab Army’s Head of Political Administration, General Hassan Hassan. General Hassan’s shelves and large wooden desk are covered with stacks of books, family photos, and various homages to the country he serves — the general holds a Ph.D. in geopolitical studies. The following is a transcript of Bartlett’s interview with Hassan following the 74th anniversary of the founding of the Syrian Arab Army.

 

Eva Bartlett (EB) | I would like to begin by asking you your thoughts on how honest Western and Gulf media’s reporting on Syria has been, especially regarding their choice of lexicon — for example, regarding the Syrian Army, the Syrian Government, what they call rebels — and the events in Syria in general.

General Hassan (GH) | Media has been one of the weapons of mass destruction used in this war on Syria. The biased media, in addition to the takfiri [Salafi] fatwas — especially the fatwas — have been the weapons that contributed most to the destruction taking place in Syria, including the destruction of human beings, vegetation, civilization,…everything.

President Bashar al-Assad emphasized more than once the necessity of countering the rhetoric used. I can elaborate for two or more hours on the terms used. However, I will limit myself to some examples.

The Free [Syrian] Army is among the lexicons used. What “army” and what “freedom” are they talking about? Every army is known for its discipline, hierarchy, fighting strategies in both defense and attack, and the cause it fights for.

The so-called Free Syrian Army has none of these qualities, except for the ability to kill. The media tried to put into circulation the term Assad’s Brigades or Assad’s Forces. Our army is the Syrian Arab Army, which includes in each of its formations soldiers from all Syrian governorates, with no exception.

I’ll give you an example. Almost three months ago, the militants supported by Turkey targeted a Syrian army position to the north of Latakia. Twelve soldiers were martyred as a result. Each soldier is from a different governorate. This is the Syrian Arab Army.

They used the term “defection.” There is no defection in the Syrian Arab Army; defection did not really occur in the Syrian Arab Army but there are some cases of soldiers running away. The term “defection” is used when a brigade or a squad defect from a certain army. Until now, the Syrian Arab Army has not witnessed what might be called defection even within its smallest units.

In order to spread the idea of defection they resorted to unsophisticated lies. In 2012 they said that General Mohammad al-Rifa’i, commander of the Fifth Squad, had defected from the army. This lie was circulated through the media. Yet, Syrian TV interviewed the general, who had retired in 2001, 11 years prior.

Gangs would stop civilian or military vehicles on highways, hold soldiers hostages, film them and force them at gunpoint to declare that they had defected [from the army].

I’ll give an example available from the internet of their lies regarding the term the Free Syrian Army. Anyone can check the Free Syrian Army term through Google. We type Abu Saqr al-Asadi — right here, I have typed Abu Saqr al-Souri [the Syrian]. We now find [the result] “face to face with the fighter Abu Saqr al-Asadi who ate the heart of a soldier.” (Abu Saqr is also transliterated as Abu Sakkar, as per the BBC article referred to by General Hassan).

That was in 2013 when he was filmed cutting into the chest of the soldier and eating his heart. It is here on Google from the BBC Arabic website. This is not a Syrian media outlet. It is a Western outlet. It is not a pleasant sight to watch him chewing the soldier’s heart.

Abu Saqr al-Asadi was a fighter in the Al-Farouq Brigades, which was an armed rebel organization formed by the Free Syrian Army. When he died he was a member of the Nusra Front. So, he was a member of the Free Syrian Army, used to be with the Farouq Brigades, and then joined the Nusra Front.

I could speak for hours about the issue of lexicon. For instance, they talked about what is called the armed opposition. How could opposition be armed?! Opposition is a political term. Opposition is a political party that did not win elections. Such a party plays the role of opposition in the parliament. These militant groups want to govern the country, the people and everything by armed force. Does this sound normal? Never was there a term called “armed opposition,” except when they spoke about these terrorist gangs.

 

EB | So in the article you’ve just shown, the English version, the BBC did not report it as an act of carnage. They humanized Abu Saqr and asked him what drove him to do such a desperate act?

GH | This is the media war. Either they say he is violent or they say he is an angel; hasn’t he demonstrated how he cut out an organ and ate a piece of it? When the BBC describes a man who ate the heart of a dead soldier as a peaceful man, how then would they describe beasts?

 

EB | Regarding events in Syria in 2011, both Western and Gulf media called it a peaceful unarmed uprising for many months, even for up to a year. Do you have an example of attacks by what the West called unarmed protesters against the Syrian army, police or security forces in 2011?

GH | In 2011 they said the reason behind the first spark was that the army, or another security body, pulled out the nails of some children in Dara`a. Over the past eight years, it has become clear that all of the armed groups are equipped with video cameras and live-streaming devices. Can any of them provide us with a video of one child whose nails were pulled out? Where are these children? Why couldn’t the media that fabricated such lies film the pulled-out nails?

Let’s go back to the peaceful uprising. On April 10, 2011, less than a month after the beginning of the so-called uprising, an army convoy transporting soldiers back to their homes was intercepted on the highway from Tartous to Banias. Nine people were martyred: two officers, five warrant officers, and two civilians. They also fired at the ambulances that tried to reach the wounded.

Other examples are the Nawa massacre in Dara`a, the Jisr al-Shoghur massacre, and the Asi River massacre — where they live-streamed the dumping of people into the river. All these massacres were perpetrated before the end of June 2011.

That is the peaceful [Arab] spring the Western and Gulf media talked about.

Are these examples enough, or should I cite more? It’s important to me that Western readers know how many lies and how much deception there has been, especially by the media.

I’ll give you another minor example. Usually, the BBCAl-Jazeera and France 24, etc. would broadcast that an explosion took place in a certain area. However, there was no explosion. But 15 to 30 minutes later an explosion would take place in the same area. It was like a code to the armed groups to carry out the explosion.

I’ll provide you with a more comprehensive example. When the area of Ma`raba [near al-Tal, a suburb of Damascus] was targeted by the Israeli enemy, cameras were focused on the targeted area even before the missiles hit.

 

EB | So, they were ready?

GH | The cameras were aimed at the area where the missiles were supposed to hit. At the moment that the missiles hit the targeted area, members of armed groups began cheering “Allahu Akbar… Allahu Akbar.” This was documented by their cameras; definitely not Syrian media cameras. At the same time, armed groups in eastern Ghouta attacked Damascus from seven fronts.

As an ordinary person — not as a military figure– I could tell it was a role carried out by three. First, the one who carried out the aggression, and that is the Zionist entity [Israel].

Second, the media outlets that were assigned to broadcast the aggression before it was carried out.  And third, the armed groups who attacked Damascus. Therefore, the cameraman and those militants are substitute recruits of the Israeli enemy. I cannot call them but the substitute army of Israel and the United States.

According to confessions by Israeli and American officials, including previous U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, ISIS was made by America. Later on, ISIS was classified as a terrorist organization.

Thus, those terrorists made in the U.S. are the rebels of the peaceful [Arab] spring later circulated in the region by means of the foreign media outlets.

 

EB | According to Israeli media, Israel is fighting terrorism, Muslim extremists. However, there are reports of Israel treating militants or terrorists in Israeli hospitals. Can you please outline Israel’s role in the war on Syria?

GH | Everything that has taken place in Syria and in the region — all the blaze erupting in the region,  under what they falsely called the Arab Spring — serves the interests of Israel. These are not my own conclusions; rather, it is the Israeli media who talk about this. The Israeli prime minister appeared on television when he visited wounded terrorists, injured while fighting the Syrian army, being treated in Israeli hospitals. This is number one.

The other issue is that every time the Syrian Arab Army is making an apparent advance, Israel conducts an aggression [airstrike]. When Israel is unable to achieve its objective, it seeks the help of the United States, just as it did when the U.S. Air Force targeted the Tharda Mountains in Deir ez-Zor as the Syrian army was en route to clear Deir ez-Zor of terrorists.

I hope that you underscore the following statement: Those who sponsor terrorism don’t fight it.Israel is an entity based on both killing and falsehood. When Palestine was already inhabited, they claimed that Palestine was a land without people and wanted to give it to people without a land. Thus, the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary, Arthur Balfour, gave what the U.K. didn’t own to those who didn’t deserve it.

In 2019, Trump did the same and gave the Golan to Israel as if Trump inherited it from his own father. Who gave Trump the right to give other people’s property to others? The issue here is that international law needs power to protect it. Unfortunately, the United States is still the superpower of the world and the financial and economic despot of the world. U.S. officials are indifferent to falsehood, humanity, law or human rights. All this means nothing to them.

I would like to remind foreign readers that Iraq was destroyed under the pretext of having weapons of mass destruction. The whole world still recalls Colin Powell when he presented what he called a satellite image as evidence of Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction. When Powell left office, he admitted to U.S. media outlets that that moment was the darkest in his lifetime. The question is: When did he admit it? How many innocent victims were killed as a result?

How come a sovereign state was occupied without international legitimacy? American officials don’t care about this. Wherever the U.S. has interfered around the world, the result has been more killing, destruction, and suffering and successive U.S. administrations are competing to serve Israel.

 

EB | Syria has been accused of using chemical weapons against civilians. Does the Syrian army use chemical weapons against civilians?

GH |  An official mission came to Syria and demanded that the Syrian government carry out an official investigation. They delayed for years before the mission arrived. And those who came submitted an untruthful report.

Syria signed the agreement and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) visited Syria and checked all places and the existing stockpile [of chemical weapons] was destroyed on a U.S. vessel. Accordingly, The OPCW announced that Syria was chemical weapons-free.ve

The Syrian Government has been accused of using chemical weapons many times, in eastern Ghouta and in other areas. Under this pretext, [th U.S. and its allies] launched their aggression on Syria. Syria affirmed many times through statements by Syrian officials, both before and after the agreement was signed, that Syria does not in any way intend to use chemical weapons and that Syria has not used nor will it use chemical weapons.

After the declaration of this organization [OPCW] that Syria is free from chemical weapons, how could Syria use something that it does not have? Despite evidence that chemical substances and weapons entered into areas under the control of militant groups in Syria through Turkish borders, investigations were not resumed.

There are a number of videos showing how the armed groups were the ones using chemical weapons themselves. Each time Syria was accused of using chemical weapons, the Syrian army was on the verge of finishing a military operation. Is it logical they’d use chemical weapons — which would prevent the declaration of victory?

With regard to their claim of using chemicals in Ghouta, the areas there are interconnected. Those who use chemical weapons cannot protect themselves. When those terrorists used chemicals there, both the civilians and the military were hit, as was the case in Khan al-Asal and elsewhere. This was exposed in the [UN] Security Council by Bashar al-Ja’afari.

Syria does not possess chemical weapons. Syria has never used chemical weapons before. Syria cannot use a chemical weapon for a simple reason, or for two reasons in fact: Ethically, Syria does not believe in using chemicals [weapons]. This is number one. Second, Syria does not own chemical weapons.

 

EB | The Rukban Camp is near the U.S. base of al-Tanf. One question is about the U.S. relationship with ISIS in that area and whether or not America has been fighting ISIS in the area. Also, according to Western media, refugees evacuated from Rukban to centers in Homs, for example, are taken and thrown in prison.

For example, the Canadian Globe & Mail, citing a Qatari-based organization, said that from 2017 to 2019 around 2,000 Syrians who returned to government-controlled areas (in general and not from Rukban specifically) were detained and 784 are still in prison. How would you reply to accusations that people returning home were detained or forced to serve in the Syrian army?

GH | In relation to ISIS and the U.S., I can say that a mother does not eat her own son. ISIS is a U.S. product, according to American confessions. However, America sometimes becomes a cat and eats some of its own kittens when they become a burden.

America uses ISIS, fights with ISIS, not against ISIS. Whenever the role of some armed ISIS fighters comes to an end, the U.S. abandons or gets rid of them. The U.S. does not care whether those members get killed or not.

However, when the U.S. needs them, it sends helicopters to evacuate them, just like what happened when Deir ez-Zor was liberated. American helicopters would land and evacuate ISIS leaders together with their families and fly them somewhere else.

Rukban Camp is within the sight of the Americans in the Tanf base. U.S. surveillance can distinguish a hen from a rooster on a street anywhere in the world. How is it that ISIS members are able to move at the Tanf border without being observed by the U.S. military there? How can the U.S. convince the world that it is fighting ISIS when the latter’s members move freely under U.S. observation?

Four months ago, I was working with the Head of the Russian Reconciliation Centre, General Victor Kopcheshen. He told me that the Russian government received an official reply from the Americans that they would not allow any Syrian or Russian to come close to the 55-kilometer line around Rukban Camp to help evacuate people from the camp.

Less than four months ago we first began evacuating a few hundred [people] from Rukban. Now, the number of people who returned from Rukban Camp has exceeded 15,000 (As of July 31, that number has reached 17,458 according to Russia’s Ministry of Defense). Can anyone provide me with the name of even one person who left Rukban and got detained? These claims are flagrant lies.


Author’s note | 

I asked officials at the UN about the accusation that the Syrian government was imprisoning former residents of Rukban, I detailed their reply in a separate article for MintPress:

“David Swanson, Public Information Officer Regional Office for the Syria Crisis UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs based in Amman, Jordan, told me regarding claims of substandard conditions and of Syrians being forcefully held or mistreated in the centers that:

‘People leaving Rukban are taken to temporary collective shelters in Homs for a 24-hour stay. While there, the receive basic assistance, including shelter, blankets, mattresses, solar lamps, sleeping mats, plastic sheets, food parcels and nutrition supplies before proceeding to their areas of choice, mostly towards southern and eastern Homs, with smaller small numbers going to rural Damascus or Deir-ez-Zor.

The United Nations has been granted access to the shelters on three occasions and has found the situation there adequate. The United Nations continues to advocate and call for safe, sustained and unimpeded humanitarian assistance and access to Rukban as well as to all those in need throughout Syria. The United Nations also seeks the support of all concerned parties in ensuring the humanitarian and voluntary character of departures from Rukban.’

Hedinn Halldorsson, the Spokesperson and Public Information Officer for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) based in Damascus, told me:

‘We looked into this when the rumours started, end of April, and concluded they were unfounded – and communicated that externally via press briefings in both Geneva and NY. The conditions in the shelters in Homs are also adequate and in compliance with standards; the UN has access and has done three monitoring visits so far.’”


GH | I would like to stress a point concerning military service in the army. Several presidential decrees have been issued. Any Syrian citizen [living] abroad who wishes to settle his status and return to Syria can benefit from those decrees, which invalidate any other verdict issued against that Syrian citizen.

These decrees do not nullify a Syrian citizen’s rights nor their duties. Syrian citizens who return to Syria are still Syrian citizens and therefore still have the duties of Syrian citizens. The decrees granted them a grace period of six months to settle their legal status.

For example, a person who lost their official ID, or army service registry or anything, can settle their legal status during this period. It is a normal official procedure to call for duty those who are subject to mandatory or reserve military service. This procedure has been applied to all Syrian citizens in all provinces, not only those who return.

I cannot say just respect the rights and ignore the duties. Everyone is equal before the law. They have to obey what Syrian law states and the majority of them are loyal and doing their duties enthusiastically.

But the people who have their status settled do not have the right to commit a crime. If I had a son living abroad who returned and settled his status, does it give him the right to commit an offense against his neighbors or to kill somebody or commit a crime? The law is the law and must be adhered to.

 

EB | Western media say that Iran and Russia’s presence in Syria is an attempt to occupy Syria and control it. What are the roles of Iran and Russia in Syria?

GH | Before I answer your question, let us decide what logic we’re using. Are we using the logic of international law or the law of the jungle? Who has the right to speak in the name of the Syrian people? It is only the Syrian state that has the right to speak in the name of the Syrian people. No other side has the right to speak for them. Surely, those who are speaking in the name of the Syrian people do not know the Syrian people. It is really strange that the governments of those who kill the Syrian people are acting as if they were advocates of the Syrian people.

According to international law, it is the right of any state to defend itself when such a country faces hazards endangering its own existence. Such a country has the right to defend its existence and sovereignty by using all means possible. In this respect, this country has the right to rely on its relations with friends and allies as well, no matter whether those allies are Russian, Iranian or any other ally. Neither the U.S., Israel nor the Gulf states have anything to do with this. It is a matter of Syrian sovereignty.

The other thing has to do with the military presence of any country on the territory of another state. Such a presence can be legal in one of the following two cases: when invited by the state concerned, or through a resolution issued by the [UN] Security Council. Otherwise, such a presence is an occupation.

Therefore, there is no reason for the Syrian state to be ashamed of its stance on the presence of Iran or Russia in Syria. The Syrian State declares its stances clearly and explicitly: that the presence of Iran, Russia and Hezbollah is based upon an official invitation by the Syrian government. Thus, their presence is legal according to international law. Can anyone in the West — or the media outlets who claim to be neutral — convince any Syrian citizen that the U.S. presence or the Turkish presence is legal?

The Syrian State says they are forces of occupation. There is no [UN] Security Council resolution allowing them to be present in Syria. So what is the meaning behind their presence? They are using the law of force, rather than the force of law. Thus, they are referring back to the law of the jungle and not to the force of international law.

Those occupiers support terrorism, created terrorism, and are still financing it according to a confession made by the former Qatari prime minister that his country spent $37 billion to arm and finance armed groups in Syria. The Qatari PM confessed that his country and the armed groups had agreed to destroy Syria. Yet, they disputed when things went out of their control. They paid the armed groups to hunt the prey. However, they disputed among themselves when the prey escaped.

 

EB | Syria welcomed Palestinian refugees and has supported the Palestinian resistance. Could you please explain the role of some Palestinians in the events in Syria within the past few years, whether in fighting terrorism or supporting it.

Will Hamas Challenge Fatah in the West Bank?

GH | The Syrian State does not deal with people and does not take stances based on reactions. The Syrian state has its own constants and principles, and it [continues to] adhere to these constants and principles even in its ninth year of war. Syria still believes that the cause of Palestine is the central cause of the Arab world.

So, when some Palestinian groups choose to affiliate themselves with the Muslim Brotherhood rather than being loyal to the Palestinian cause and to Syria, it makes Syria [even] more committed to its principles. Especially as these days, the world knows well that the Muslim Brotherhood [has become] the basis of evil since they’ve adopted terrorism.

The Palestinian cause remains the central cause. Syria will always take interest in the Palestinian cause, in spite of the fact that some [Palestinians] were eager to be part of the war on the Syrian State. Even though weapons that were supposed to be used to fight Israel were used in the war on Syrian citizens.

The Syrian State is now recovering and history will remember those [Palestinians] as traitors. History will show that Syria has been, and will be, loyal to the Palestinian cause.

The Yarmouk Camp is back under Syrian sovereignty. The camp is now free from those who carried weapons and used them against Syrian citizens, whatever names they used — ISIS, Nusra or otherwise — and regardless of their nationality, Palestinian or otherwise. All of them are now gone, thanks to the sacrifices made by the Syrian people the heroism of the Syrian Arab Army and the wisdom of our leader, President Bashar al-Assad.

 

EB | Some Palestinians remained loyal to Syria, including in fighting terrorism, like the Quds Brigade…

GH | Yes, of course. Surely. There are loyal people even inside occupied Palestine. Not all people are ungrateful to those who help them. Not all people bite the hand that is stretched out to help them. Only traitors bite that hand.

 

EB | When eastern Aleppo and eastern Ghouta were being liberated, Western and international media said that the Syrian army was massacring and raping civilians there and that both the Syrian and the Russian militaries were bombing hospitals. Now, they are saying that 29 hospitals in Idlib have been targeted. What would you say about these accusations?

GH | We have liberated eastern Ghouta. We have also liberated eastern Aleppo. In both locations, a number of field hospitals were shown on television with piles of medicine. This implies that these hospitals were not bombed. This is very briefly.

The other point is that when a building is selected as a command center for armed groups under the pretext of its being a hospital, does this mean we should let those positioned in eastern Ghouta target Damascus on a daily basis with their shells?

Didn’t the world watch those angels of mercy, when they entered Adra industrial town, burning people alive in ovens and throwing civilians off fourth and fifth floors?

We’re talking about war here, we’re talking here about armies of terrorists equipped with light, medium and heavy weapons and empires of media around the world, in addition to the regional and world powers supporting them.

It is the duty of the Syrian State, before being its own right, to provide the Syrian people with protection against terrorism. The problem with the national Syrian media is that it does not reach the West.

Crossing points are identified as corridors for the exit of civilians before any military operation gets started in a populated area. Such corridors are then equipped with ambulances, medical services and every other need. Who targeted the nurses, doctors and civilians on their way out when citizens were evacuated from eastern Ghouta?

Has anybody seen the photo of the Syrian soldier carrying an old woman on his back and a child on his arm? That soldier knew he could drop as a martyr carrying this heavy load. Other soldiers fell as martyrs while they were helping civilians escape.

That number, 29 hospitals, is a lie in itself. It is more than the number of [national] hospitals available all over Syria. Do they allocate a hospital for every twenty or thirty people? This is illogical.

There is also something strange about all the field hospitals that we discovered. Saudi, Israeli and U.S. medicine was found in these hospitals. How did such medicine reach the terrorists? Did it come from underneath the ground?

And those who had been targeting Damascus and Aleppo are all of sudden depicted as angels of mercy, peace and freedom advocates calling for democracy?

It’s worth pointing out to people in the West that it has been proven that only a limited number of the fighters in armed groups came from western Europe and North America, while tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, came from other countries.

The Turkish president declares that such terrorists are free to leave Syrian territory whenever he gets upset with Europe or the U.S. Subsequently, EU countries and the U.S. get so horrified at the possibility of those terrorists returning home.

The EU countries and the U.S. do not want any of those terrorists to return. Why is it that they do not want them to come back? Are they not their own citizens? They say that such terrorists will spread terrorism, so they spread terrorism there while they plant roses and flowers here? Is it okay for terrorists to spread terror here while they’re forbidden to return to their own countries?

Briefly, these are the types of lies spread by the West.

I’m calling on each and every citizen of Western countries, as I am absolutely sure that they have pure human emotion, not to believe the Western media. I want them to be certain that their governments have participated in the killing of the Syrian people and in the killing of Syrian children. Their governments participated in the killing of Syrian women and the killing of the Syrian elderly and convinced them [Western citizens] that they were promoting something else [freedom].

 

EB | Recently, journalists from CBS and Sky News were in Idlib. I believe one of the two groups, Sky News, claimed that it was targeted by the Syrian army. Could they be reporting independently of al-Qaeda or any of the other terrorist groups in Idlib? They claim they are not [embedded] with al-Qaeda. Is this feasible? Is this realistic? 

GH | It’s a funny question. You’re a journalist. Surely, this is not the first time you have visited Syria. Have you faced any obstacles while entering Syria as a journalist? Do any Western or European countries accept the entry of foreign journalists illegally into their countries?

Sky News, the BBC, and Al Jazeera teams conduct live transmissions while embedded with armed groups — the terrorists. I wish that the mental power of the Syrian soldiers could become super advanced so that they can order shells to avoid foreign correspondents who are side by side with terrorists. The army is responding to attacks launched by terrorists — soldiers and officers of the Syrian army cannot give orders to an exploding shell to avoid this or that.

The most important question is this: What are they doing there? How did they enter? Who is in control in Idlib? Isn’t it the Nusra Front? How are they [the journalists] allowed to be there? They are there under the protection of the Nusra Front. They are under the protection of an internationally-designated terrorist organization. Their countries should hold them accountable for communicating with terrorist groups before asking why the army is targeting them.

 

EB | How can Idlib be liberated when Turkish forces occupy northern Syria and there are civilians in Idlib, in addition to the 70,000 al-Qaeda and other terrorist fighters?

GH | There were civilians and armed groups in Homs. There were civilians and armed groups in Ghouta as well. There were civilians and armed groups all over Dara`a.  All these regions have been liberated. The majority of citizens remained there while the terrorists were wiped out. Idlib is no exception. Eastern parts of the Euphrates are no exception either.

Each square centimeter of Syrian land is part and parcel of Syria as a whole. It is the duty and the right of the Syrian State to eradicate terrorism.

Unless under an invitation by the Syrian government, any foreign military presence on the Syrian territory is a force of occupation. The Syrian State is entitled to face such an occupation with every possible means.

The Syrian State has opened the door wide for reconciliation. The Syrian State trusts the wisdom of Russian and Iranian friends and relies on its relations with Turkey.

Surely each Syrian citizen, civilian or military, wishes that not even one drop of blood be spilled. This does not mean to yield to occupation in any way.

Idlib will be freed either through reconciliations or a political agreement. Otherwise, the Syrian State will find the means to liberate Idlib in the same way it liberated all other regions. I am absolutely certain — not as an officer but rather as a citizen — I know how Syrian citizens think; they believe that Idlib will be freed, as will each and every inch of the Syrian territory.

The presence of U.S., Turkish, or any other occupation force does not mean such a force is a destiny that cannot be faced. As long as we [the Syrian State] spare no effort or means — whether military, political, economic or diplomatic —  to win this war [against terrorism] by God’s will, and I hope it is not going to be through military action. But if things reach a dead-end, Idlib will not remain under occupation.

 

EB | Can you speak to the importance of liberating Idlib, not only for Syria’s territorial integrity but also for the villages in Northern Hama that are affected by terrorists in Idlib? The media is not talking about Mahardeh, Sqailbiyeh and other places being attacked by terrorists.

GH | When Mhardeh and Sqailbiyeh are targeted, as a Syrian citizen, I do not see these two towns as less important than Damascus. Likewise when the neighborhoods of Homs were targeted.

All areas inhabited by Syrian citizens under the control of the Syrian State have been targets for those armed terrorist groups that are supported by the West, which claims it is standing by human rights and cares about the interests of the Syrian people.

For Syrian citizens, the liberation of each centimeter, or rather each grain of sand, is as important as the liberation of Idlib. Of course, the existence of armed groups in Idlib leads to abnormal circumstances that cause dysfunction in citizens’ daily lives. Thus, it is important to liberate Idlib to guarantee the return of normal life in Mahardeh, Sqailbiyeh and other areas.

At the same time, it is important to end the occupation by the U.S. and its allies.

I hope that each European or American citizen will ask: Why do Syrian citizens return to areas that have been liberated? Why do citizens welcome the army? Why do citizens — except those who are held hostage by terrorists — flee from areas under the control of terrorist groups?

The civilians residing in terrorist-held areas are helpless hostages. A year ago all of the neighborhoods in eastern Ghouta were populated by terrorists. If the Syrian army had been shelling civilians in the past, why not do now? Why are people now living in peace there?

These are questions that I put forward to people living in the West. I hope they are human enough to ask [themselves] these questions.

 

EB | Regarding misinformation from international media on the Syrian Arab Army, portraying them as murderers and rapists. Can you speak about the sacrifices of the Syrian Arab Army throughout these eight years of war?

GH | I will answer your question with a question. Syria is an area of 185,000 square kilometers. According to United Nations documents, 360,000 armed terrorists infiltrated Syrian territory.

I would like to draw an example other than Syria. I’ll give the U.S., the superpower of the world, as an example. Let’s suppose that 36,000, rather than 360,000, terrorists infiltrate any state of the United States. That’s 10 percent of the number of terrorists who made their way into Syria. Let’s also suppose that such terrorists are supported by world powers. What would have happened to the U.S.?

The achievements of the Syrian Arab Army are not ordinary; these achievements are miraculous accomplishments.

The two greatest armies in modern history have failed to achieve what the Syrian Army has accomplished. In Afghanistan, fewer than 10 percent of the number of terrorists in Syria were able to defeat two armies: the Red Soviet Army and the U.S. Army.

But, the Syrian Army defeated such terrorism. According to military theory, any fight between an army and terrorist militia of armed gangs will end with the armed gangs winning. This has been evident throughout military history.

For the first time in the history of humankind, a traditional army has defeated armies of militant groups. The Syrian Army fought battles that can be classified as new in military science. The Syrian Army fought above ground and underground battles in addition to their battles against the media war, intelligence war, information war, economic war, gang and street-to-street wars. Despite all of that, the Syrian Army achieved victory. Therefore, can we imagine the magnitude of the sacrifices made in this respect by the Syrian Army?

In the first months of this war, the Syrian leadership realized that the terrorists wanted Syrians to be used to seeing blood everywhere. So, soldiers were forbidden from carrying weapons, even handguns, when they went to areas of so-called demonstrations to prevent demonstrators from destroying infrastructure.

For months the soldiers confronted the militants knowing that they could be martyred. However, the discipline of the Syrian army pushed the soldiers to do their missions without carrying a weapon.

Let any Western citizen imagine how it would be for a soldier with no weapons facing armed militants to stop them from destroying infrastructure and targeting civilians.

This is the Syrian army. The Syrian army cleared most of the Syrian regions occupied by the fiercest types of terrorism ever witnessed in the history of mankind.

 

EB |  Thank you very much for your time and for the interview in general.

GH |  I also would like to thank you all for what you’ve done so far and for all of the questions you raised. I kindly request that you share my replies with foreign readers.

Personally, I think your role as an objective journalist transcends the traditional role of journalism. It reflects an ethical responsibility of telling the truth about what you’ve seen. If you want to help the Syrian people, the greatest help you can offer the Syrian people is to tell the truth you have seen with your own eyes, not just what is said all over the internet.

Again, anyone can look up Abu Saqr al-Souri and see how he ate the heart of a dead soldier. He was a member of the so-called peaceful group of the Free Syrian Army, when he was killed — he was with the Nusra Front. This can be enough to convey the message.

BBC-staged footage on Syria’s Douma Western media’s ‘theater of absurd’: Russia

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Press TV – February 14, 2019

Russia's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova reacts during the annual news conference of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (not pictured) in Moscow, Russia, on January 16, 2019. (Photo by Reuters)Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova reacts during the annual news conference of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (not pictured) in Moscow, Russia, on January 16, 2019. (Photo by Reuters)

Russia says the latest revelations by BBC that the footage of an April chemical attack near the Syrian capital was fabricated proves the “theater of absurd” in Western media’s coverage of events in the Arab country.

“Over the past few years, and not just in Syria, we have been witness to a travesty being staged by the West and its media agencies, which on [the one] hand brags about brilliant democratic goals and support for civilians of a sovereign state, but on the other does not … give a damn about … international law, various forms of freedom and rights of a nation or a certain minority,” the spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, told reporters in Moscow on Thursday.

The footage broadcast by BBC showed people being treated after a chemical attack in Douma.

BBC Syria producer Riam Dalati wrote on Twitter on Wednesday that the issue had been investigated for six months.

Zakharova added, “The culmination of this theater of absurd may be a statement by a BBC producer, who confirmed based on his own research that the footage [in Douma] had been staged with direct participation of [the so-called civil defense group] White Helmets.

She further pointed out that Russia wanted to listen to BBC’s explanation because it actively covered the events in favor of the US-led coalition purportedly fighting the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group.

The Western-backed White Helmets group, which has been repeatedly accused of cooperating with Takfiri terrorists and staging fictional chemical attacks, published a video in April 2018, alleging that Syrian government forces had launched a chemical assault in the city of Douma, located about 10 kilometers northeast of Damascus.

The US has warned it would respond to any possible chemical weapons attack by Syrian government forces with retaliatory strikes, stressing that the attacks would be stronger than those conducted by American, British and French forces last year.

On April 14, 2018, the US, Britain and France carried out a string of airstrikes against Syria over a suspected chemical weapons attack on the city of Douma.

Washington and its allies blamed Damascus for the Douma attack, an allegation rejected by the Syrian government.

On September 11 last year, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov censured the US threats to use military force against Syria as part of Washington’s blackmail policy.

“Unlike the United States, Britain and their allies, Russia provides particular facts on a daily basis through its Defense Ministry, the Foreign Ministry as well missions in New York, The Hague and Geneva. We particularly name geographical points, where preparations are underway for certain terrorist groups backed by the US and its allies to carry out provocations,” Ryabkov said.

 

Major Psy-Op in Europe Exposed: UK Government Tramples on Values It Vowed to Protect

Major Psy-Op in Europe Exposed: UK Government Tramples on Values It Vowed to Protect

Major Psy-Op in Europe Exposed: UK Government Tramples on Values It Vowed to Protect
Those who have been saying that the West has turned Russia into a scapegoat to be blamed for each and every thing that goes wrong have been proved right. We have witnessed concocted stories invented to denigrate Moscow that have gone viral as directed by the secret services. The UK, the country that is spearheading the anti-Russian information campaign, offers a good example that illustrates how this is being done.An online group of hackers known as Anonymous has just revealed covert UK activities in the EU. According to the documents released by that group, London is in the midst of a major program to interfere in the internal affairs of EU members, the US, and Canada. Anonymous threatens to release more information on the clandestine operations of the UK government, unless it agrees to remove the shroud of secrecy protecting those information-warfare efforts. On Nov. 24 Twitter deleted RT comments on the issue. The UK knows it has friends it can rely on in a crunch.

The Integrity Initiative is a London-based organization set up and funded by the government-friendly Institute for Statecraft, in cooperation with the Free University of Brussels (VUB) to wage information-warfare operations against Russia. Anonymous calls it a “large-scale information secret service.” It aims to “change attitudes in Russia itself” as well as the influence of Russian natives living abroad. The Integrity Initiative’s budget for the fiscal year ending on March 31, 2019 is estimated at £1.96 million ($2.51 million). The network has received grants from NATO, the US State Department, and Facebook.

The Initiative’s operations have been kept under wraps. Its activities are conducted by “clusters” of local politicians, journalists, military personnel, scientists, and academics involved in anti-Russian propaganda efforts. The list includes William Browder, a US-British businessman convicted in absentia in Russia for tax evasion.

The Integrity Initiative network has offices from which to conduct its covert operations in France, Germany, Italy, Greece, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Norway, Serbia, Spain, and Montenegro. Its plans to expand to the US, Canada, Eastern Europe, and the MENA region are already underway.

The Anonymous hackers mention Operation Moncloa that was launched in June in Spain to prevent Pedro Baños, a colonel known for his Russia-friendly views, from being appointed the new head of Spain’s influential national security agency.

It’s all part of a broader picture. In March, Prime Minister Theresa May promised to “defeat” Russia with a new cyber-warfare initiative titled the Fusion Doctrine. Back then, Ms. May told British intelligence services to use social media “to prevent the spread of misinformation.” In other words, she has pulled the military into this anti-Russian propaganda effort. Security sources have floated the idea that that the UK must harness “soft power” and “counter-propaganda” on social media networks. Is it possible to imagine any media remaining independent in a country where they’re part of a “soft power strategy” implemented by the government under the rallying cry of protecting national security?

This is the origin of so many fantasies about Russia and the imaginary threat it poses. The plan included an enhanced role for the BBC World Service to promote British “values” abroad, ensuring that the Ofcom shuts down media organizations that fail to meet “high British standards.” Only gullible people can believe that such “values” and “standards” exist. Russia has been used as a bogeyman to justify measures aimed at killing off the freedom of the media. Any story about Russia’s nefarious deeds spread by British news outlets should be taken with a grain of salt.

The UK government is facing some hard times. The Brexit deal with the EU is headed to parliament for approval. It’s impossible to predict whether the MPs will vote yes or no. Both outcomes threaten the very existence of the United Kingdom. The use of the “Russian threat” is seen as one way to keep the nation united and the media under control.

Keeping its activities out of the public eye, the government is doing exactly what it has so indignantly accused Russia of. The pot is calling the kettle black. As the freedom of the press is being suppressed and the media networks are following the government’s instructions about what information they should offer their readers, UK officials continue to brazenly deliver their pompous speeches about the need to protect those very values to which the government itself poses the greatest challenge. Anonymous is right — any responsible government must explain the intentions behind the Integrity Initiative, how exactly it is funded, and why its activities should be shielded from public view.

Israel Cannot Use Violent Self-Defense While Occupying Gaza

Photo Source U.S. Embassy Jerusalem | CC BY 2.0

Whenever bombings and shootings escalate in the Middle East, Israeli propagandists say that Israel is exercising its right of military self-defense against indiscriminate attacks coming from the Gaza Strip. But as this article documents, the right to use force in self-defense is contingent on Israel ending its military occupation and blockade of Gaza.

DON’T MISQUOTE ME ON THAT!

Doubtless some unscrupulous person or persons will quote or interpret this article out of context and claim that I’m saying that Israel has no right to self-defense at all. So, let me be clear: Israel is a nation-state like any other, like it or not. It therefore has the same legal rights as any nation-state, like it or not; including the right to use self-defense when under attack.

However, that right within the context of occupation is contingent on Israel’s adherence to international law; again, just like any state. For example: The US and British forces had no legal right to hurt or kill Iraqis resisting the illegal US-British invasion and occupation, which began in 2003. The only rights that the US and British had there was to leave.

Since 1967, Israel has occupied the Gaza Strip (and the West Bank of the Jordan, which it has now de facto annexed) in violation of international law. Yes, Israel withdrew its illegal colonies from Gaza in 2005, but it maintained the military blockade, which is an act of war and a violation of the IV Geneva Convention, which prohibits collective punishment.

As long as it continues its occupation/annexation of the Palestinian territories, Israel cannot use force in self-defense from attacks, even indiscriminate ones, emanating from Gaza. If it ended the occupation and blockade of the Palestinian territories, then it could argue a case for the use of force, assuming peaceful options are exhausted.

WHAT THE LIBERAL MEDIA SAY

Forget the madcap right-wing (e.g., a Fox News reporter standing next to what he claims is a flaming bakery hit by Palestinian rockets). How are the supposedly more intelligent and humane liberal media reporting the current violence?

The BBC says that “Violence has flared between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza, a day after seven militants and an Israeli soldier were killed during an undercover Israeli operation in Gaza.” Militants? It goes on to say that: “Militants fired 300 rockets and mortars at Israel. One hit a bus, seriously injuring a soldier nearby. Israel responded with more than 70 strikes on what it said were targets belonging to Hamas and Islamic Jihad.” Responded? Surely the BBC means to say that armed Palestinian groups responded to Israel’sactions, which occurred in the context of its unlawful 50-year occupation?

Notice the use of the word “militants.” The report doesn’t use words like “Zionists” when describing Israelis.

The online article includes an embedded tweet from the Israeli Defense Forces: “RAW FOOTAGE: The skies of southern Israel RIGHT NOW. Dozens of rockets are being fired from #Gaza at Israeli civilians.” There is no embedded video of the shocking conditions in which Palestinian civilians are forced by Israel to live (a point to which we shall return). Near the bottom of the article, the BBC approaches something bordering truthfulness when it says: “Israel, along with Egypt, has maintained a blockade of Gaza,” but it then goes back to the lies: “…since about 2006 in order, they say, to stop attacks by militants.”

The word “occupation” is mentioned not once. So, the gist of the BBC’s reporting is that Gaza is plagued by dangerous Islamists hell-bent on Israel’s destruction and that Israel is doing what it can, sometimes ham-fistedly (as in the latest “botched” special forces operation), to defend itself.

CNN quotes Israeli PM Netanyahu as saying that “Hamas vowed to destroyed Israel,” ergo long-term peace was “impossible.”

The Washington Post claims that the latest “flare-up” was “triggered” by a “botched” Israeli operation inside Gaza. It quotes Israeli Army spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, that Israelis under Palestinian rocket-fire face “the most severe attack on … civilians by terrorist organizations from Gaza since our 2014 operation [Protective Edge].” Near the end of the article, the reporters mention, casually, Israel’s “tight restrictions on trade and travel.” Below, we’ll take a look at what these “tight restrictions” actually mean.

The New York Times describes what is happening as “An eruption,” rather than a continuation and predictable consequence of Israel’s ongoing brutality. It also mentions Israel’s “tight control over the border,” which has endured since 2005, they claim (not 1967 as is the reality), when Israel withdrew its illegal colonies. Approaching truth toward the end of the article, the NTY, unlike the BBC, quotes Chris Gunness of the UN Relief and Works Agency, who describes the humanitarian situation in Gaza for nearly 2 million ordinary civilians, half of whom are children, as a disaster and a “collective punishment.”

WHAT HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS SAY

With the exception of the Gunness quote, the media have suppressed the severity of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The crisis is caused by the US-enabled Israeli blockade. Its importance in terms of the number of people affected vastly eclipses the firing of indiscriminate rockets into Israel by armed Palestinian groups.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs states:“Palestinians in Gaza are ‘locked in’, denied free access to the remainder of the occupied Palestinian territory and the outside world.” According to the UN children’s fund UNICEF, “more than 96 per cent of abstracted water is polluted and not fit for human consumption due to high salinity levels from sea water intrusion and high nitrate levels from excessive use of agrochemicals and wastewater infiltration.”

Jamie McGoldrick and James Heenan of the UN say:

“All over the occupied Palestinian territory, but particularly in the Gaza Strip, we see children robbed of every right. Families cope with four hours of electricity per day in the sweltering heat. Clean drinking water is expensive and hard to find. The start of the school year in one month will be very difficult for tens of thousands of families who cannot afford basic school supplies.”

When trapped Gazans resist with overwhelmingly non-violent protest, they receive the following treatment, as described by a Red Cross doctor, Gabriel Salazar: “We estimate there are over 1,300 people with complex, sometimes multiple injuries,” care of the Israeli Defense Forces responding to the protests, “that will require at least three to five surgeries each. The recovery period may take months or even years and we believe some 400 will remain with temporary or permanent disability.” Many demonstrators are deliberately shot in the legs and refused treatment by Israel in neighboring Jordan.

IS GAZA STILL OCCUPIED?

Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, have been unlawfully occupied by Israel since June 1967. This means that every Israeli military action in those territories, except withdrawal, is unlawful. In November 1967, the United Nations adopted Security Council Resolution 242, which states:

Emphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in which every State in the area can live in security,…

1. Affirms that the fulfillment of Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of both the following principles:

(i) Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict…

In 2004, the International Court of Justice opined:

“All these territories (including East Jerusalem) remain occupied territories and Israel has continued to have the status of occupying Power … Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, are illegal … The Court concludes that the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (including East Jerusalem) have been established in breach of international law.”

In 2018, the UN Human Rights Council reaffirmed that Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are occupied by Israel:

“In the resolution, adopted by a vote of 29 in favour, two against [the US and Australia], and 14 abstentions, the Council decided to urgently dispatch an independent, international commission of inquiry, to be appointed by the President of the Human Rights Council, to investigate all alleged violations and abuses of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, in the context of the military assaults on the large-scale civilian protests that began on 30 March 2018.”

ISRAEL’S RIGHT OF SELF-DEFENSE

Given that the international consensus is that Israel remains the illegal occupying power in the Palestinian territories (including Gaza and East Jerusalem), Israel has no right to use force to defend itself against Palestinian attacks while it remains the illegal occupying power. If Israel ended the occupations of Gaza and the West Bank, it would be entitled to use force in self-defense, assuming that peaceful options are exhausted.

Hyde’s International Law Volume III states: “A belligerent,” i.e., Israel in this case, “which is contemptuous of conventional or customary prohibitions,” i.e., Israel continues to occupy Gaza, “is not in a position to claim that its adversary,” i.e., Hamas and other armed Palestinian groups, “when responding with like for like,” i.e., rocket-fire into Israel, “lacks the requisite excuse” (emphasis in original).

The Annual Digest and Reports of Public International Law Cases 1948 states: “Under International Law, as in Domestic Law, there can be no reprisal against reprisal. The assassin who is being repulsed by his intended victim may not slay him and then, in turn, plead self-defense.” By the same logic, Israel cannot occupy Gaza, collectively punish the population, and then claim to be acting in self-defense against Gazan rocket-fire.

In response to the Gaza massacre 2014, international jurist John Dugard said: “given the fact that Gaza is an occupied territory, it means that Israel’s present assault is simply a way of enforcing the continuation of the occupation, and the response of the Palestinian militants should be seen as the response of an occupied people that wishes to resist the occupation.”

More articles by:

Dr. T. J. Coles is director of the Plymouth Institute for Peace Research and the author of several books, including Voices for Peace (with Noam Chomsky and others) and the forthcoming Fire and Fury: How the US Isolates North Korea, Encircles China and Risks Nuclear War in Asia (both Clairview Books).

Gaza: The Most Important Story Not Covered in the MSM

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 by Maj. Danny Sjursen

The American news cycle is so dominated by the drama and minutiae surrounding the current administration that the most serious foreign policy crises go unreported.

The Israelis military is killing kids in the Gaza Strip – like, on the regular. You wouldn’t know it though; not unless you watch the BBC or Al Jazeera, that is. The uncomfortable truth is this: most Americans, frankly, don’t care. Most of the populace and a bipartisan coalition of nearly all policymakers are so reflexively pro-Israel that any critique of Israeli militarism is immediately labeled as anti-Semitism.

Nevertheless, Americans should start paying attention. We in the U.S. are, after all, veritably obsessed with our national security. So much so, indeed, that Washington has waged a perpetual “war on terror” across the Greater Middle East and Africa, restricted some civil liberties, and garrisoned the globe with hundreds of foreign military bases. The problem is that none of this expeditionary military action has made the homeland safer or lessened the appeal of violent jihadi Islam.

Two factors mainly explain this phenomenon of counter-productivity in US foreign policy. First off, folks simply don’t respond well to foreign military occupation in their countries. Thus, the very presence of US service members often enflames local passions, nationalism, and fundamentalist Islamism. The result: terror attacks, guerrilla warfare, and – sometimes – the outbreak of an outright insurgency. Need evidence? See the following exhibits: Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, West Africa, and on and on.

The second factor is the (accurate) perception – across the Islamic world – that Washington arms, funds, and otherwise enables an extreme right-wing Israeli regime that has systematically constructed an apartheid-like regime in the Palestinian Territories (to the extent they exist) of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Palestinians live as second-class citizens, under essentially military rule. They are restricted to separate roads, different water sources, and alternative civil/political structures. They are walled off, subjected to ubiquitous military checkpoints, and colonized by illegal Israeli Jewish settlements.

That’s just the daily structural injustice of Palestinian life. Matters have only deteriorated from there. For several months now, (peacefully) protesting Gazans have been slaughtered in droves along the border fences. At least 40 children have been killed, along with women, old folks, and unarmed young men. More than 168 Palestinians have been fatally shot and thousands more wounded. It’s a humanitarian tragedy – a borderline war crime. The Israeli military has little sense of proportionality. Even though Israeli leaders label all the protesters – even the babies – as Hamas terrorists, the casualties are so lopsided between the Palestinian and Israeli sides as to be absurd. Which leads us to a logical conclusion: either A) the protesters are the least effective terrorists of all time (since barely any Israelis have been killed), or B) some Israeli politicians are lying to the world and being completely dishonest. The rational analyst would have to conclude the latter.

Which gets back to the US media (or really entertainment) industry. You hardly hear about any of this, even on the “liberal” network – MSNBC. Palestinian lives, even children’s lives, just don’t garner much sympathy in the U S of A. It’s obvious, and, understandable. The American populace is treated to distraction media: obsessions with President Trump’s every move, the Kavanaugh hearings, heck – even Kanye’s bizarre visit to the oval office. There’s precious little air time left over for any mention of foreign policy; of the fact that the US is at war in at least seven countries, that Yemeni’s are being starved and bombed by a Washington-backed Saudi coalition, and that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have been shooting down Gaza civilians for several months now.

Here’s the kicker though: you know who doesn’t forget? Global Muslims. US policy towards Israel and Middle East more generally is, and has been, radicalizing a generation of impoverished, frustrated Muslim youth from West Africa to South Asia. This is a genuine national security threat partly of our own making. Poll after credible global poll indicates that the international public considers the United States to be the greatest threat to world peace. Not North Korea, Syria, Russia, or China – nope, America. That’s a problem and, obviously, a threat to the US homeland.

What’s more, there’s little sign that Washington will reverse policy or reign in Israeli violence. To understand the cynicism of Israeli policy, consider that the Israelis are crafting a burgeoning partnership with the extremist, Wahhabi state of Saudi Arabia. That’s right: the keepers of the holy places of Mecca and Medina, the Saudis who ostensibly support the Palestinians (but don’t really give a darn about them), and who spread their fundamentalist version of Islam across the region are making a deal with Israel. And as for those Saudis, the US shows no sign of pulling support from this murderous regime any time soon. The Saudis have briefly, if controversially, entered the news cycle after (probably) murdering a dissident journalist, but the safe bet is the US will stick with the Saudis and close that $110 billion arms deal.

This one-sided policy will have consequences. New terrorists will be motivated to attack the US in response to its pro-Israel policies. Even General David Petraeus – far from a lefty pacifist – once even caused a stir by admitting that America’s Israel policy motivates radical jihadis.

Washington loves to taut Israel as the “only democracy in the Middle East.” That’s not strictly true, of course. The inconvenient truth is that Israel may either be a Jewish state or a democratic state – it may not be both, since a large portion of its population remains Arab and Muslim. If the US continues to enable Israeli violence and the structural disenfranchisement of the Palestinians, it will reap the whirlwind. And, when we are attacked, we’ll revert to our usual cry: “Why do they hate us?”

I can think of a few reasons.

Danny Sjursen is a US Army officer and regular contributor to Antiwar.com He served combat tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan and later taught history at his alma mater, West Point. He is the author of a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, Ghostriders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge. Follow him on Twitter at @SkepticalVet.

[Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author, expressed in an unofficial capacity, and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.]

Blanket Silence: Corporate Media Ignore New Report Exposing Distorted and Misleading Coverage of Corbyn

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By Media Lens,

If there’s one thing we’ve learned in the 17 years since Media Lens began, it’s that media professionals generally hate being challenged, critiqued or criticised. This fierce antipathetical belligerence underlies the corporate media’s total refusal to mention, far less discuss, a recent damning report on how the corporate media have been misreporting Labour and its supposed ‘problem’ with antisemitism.

The report was published last week by the Media Reform Coalition (MRC), set up in 2011 in the wake of the News International phone hacking scandal, to promote debate about the media and democracy. The MRC coordinates effective action by civil society groups, academics and media campaigners, and is currently chaired by Natalie Fenton, Professor of Communication and Media at Goldsmiths, University of London.

The urgent need for such a media initiative is highlighted by the disturbing reality that Britain has one of the most concentrated media environments in the world, with just three companies in control of 71% of national newspaper circulation and five companies running 81% of local newspaper titles.

In the careful MRC study, articles and news segments on Labour and antisemitism from the largest UK news providers, both online and television, were subjected to in-depth analysis. The research was undertaken by Dr Justin Schlosberg, Senior Lecturer in Journalism and Media at Birkbeck, University of London, together with Laura Laker, an experienced freelance journalist.

In their study, Schlosberg and Laker identified:

‘myriad inaccuracies and distortions in online and television news including marked skews in sourcing, omission of essential context or right of reply, misquotation, and false assertions made either by journalists themselves or sources whose contentious claims were neither challenged nor countered. Overall, our findings were consistent with a disinformation paradigm.’

In other words, the corporate media have been pumping out reams of ‘fake news’ promoting a narrative that Corbyn and Labour are mired in an ‘antisemitism crisis’.

Out of over 250 articles and news pieces examined by Schlosberg and Laker, fully 95 examples were found of misleading or inaccurate reporting. In particular, there were (our emphasis):

• 29 examples of false statements or claims, several of them made by news presenters or correspondents themselves, six of them on BBC television news programmes, and eight on the Guardian website.

• A further 66 clear instances of misleading or distorted coverage including misquotations, reliance on single -source accounts, omission of essential facts or right of reply, and repeated value-based assumptions made by broadcasters without evidence or qualification. In total, a quarter of the sample contained at least one documented inaccuracy or distortion.

Overwhelming source imbalance, especially on television news where voices critical of Labour’s code of conduct on antisemitism were regularly given an unchallenged and exclusive platform, outnumbering those defending Labour by nearly 4 to 1. Nearly half of Guardian reports on the controversy surrounding Labour’s code of conduct featured no quoted sources defending the party or leadership.

This is, to say the least, totally unacceptable from any supposedly responsible news outlet. It is even more galling when it comes from the Guardian and BBC News, both with large global audiences, who constantly proclaim their credentials for ‘honest and balanced reporting’.

Much recent corporate media coverage has focused on the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of ‘antisemitism’. Corporate media across the spectrum have argued that in refusing to accept the IHRA definition in total, with all of its accompanying examples, Corbyn has promoted antisemitism, alienated Britain’s Jewish community and divided his own party.

Philip Collins wrote in The Times of Corbyn (our emphasis):

‘He has, for some reason he cannot articulate, insisted that the Labour Party should be just about the only institution that does not accept the definition of antisemitism approved by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.’

In July, a Times editorial stated of Labour’s National Executive Committee (our emphasis):

‘Instead of adopting a standard definition of antisemitism formulated by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, and endorsed by governments around the world, the NEC has amended it in unacceptable ways… Let there be no doubt: these are unconscionable and antisemitic accusations.’

In September, another Times leader opined (our emphasis):

‘Labour’s national executive committee will vote today on whether to adopt the internationally recognised definition of antisemitism. It is essential that it does. Governments and organisations worldwide have adopted the carefully worded textdeveloped by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. Jeremy Corbyn’s hamfisted attempt to rewrite it, without consultation and with the apparent aim of protecting certain activists, shames his party.’

The Times added:

‘British Jews are well placed to define what constitutes racism towards them, just as any minority deserves the last word in the debate as it applies to them. Gordon Brown has called for Labour to “unanimously, unequivocally and immediately” adopt all the examples. Anything less would mark a dark day indeed for the party.’

Noting that three leading British Jewish newspapers had declared that a Corbyn-led government would pose ‘an existential threat to Jewish life in this country’, senior Guardian columnist and former comment editor Jonathan Freedland asked:

‘How on earth has it come to this?’

Part, but not all, of the problem, Freedland suggested, was (our emphasis):

‘Labour’s failure to adopt the full text of the near universally accepted International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, including all its illustrative examples’.

He added:

‘When Jews hear that the IHRA is not good enough, they wonder: what exactly is it that Labour wants to say about us?’

And yet, as the MRC report [pdf] makes clear, although the IHRA is an international body with representatives from 31 countries, only six of those countries have, to date, formally adopted the definition themselves. Several high-profile bodies have rejected or distanced themselves from the working definition, including the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency – a successor to the body that drafted the original wording on which the definition is based – and academic institutions including the London School of Economics and School of Oriental and African Studies. Moreover, academic and legal opinion has been overwhelmingly critical of the IHRA definition, including formal opinions produced by four leading UK barristers.

But, note Schlosberg and Laker:

‘Virtually none of this essential context found its way into news reports of the controversy. Instead, the Labour Party was routinely portrayed by both sources and correspondents as beyond the pale of conventional thinking on the IHRA definition.’

Nearly 50% of Guardian reports failed to include any quotes from those critiquing the IHRA definition or defending Labour’s code of conduct on antisemitism. In fact, media reporting (our emphasis):

‘effectively gave those attacking Labour’s revised code and championing the IHRA definition a virtually exclusive and unchallenged platform to air their views. By comparison, their detractors – including a number of Jewish organisations and representatives of other affected minorities – were systematically marginalized from the coverage. Furthermore, Labour MPs adopting even moderate positions defending the code were subjected to far more aggressive questioning from interviewers than those adopting extreme positions attacking it.

In a calm, methodical and rigorous manner, the MRC has exposed to public view the blatant anti-Corbyn bias of even the ‘best’ media outlets: the BBC and the Guardian.

Response To The Media Reform Coalition Report

Our searches using the ProQuest newspaper database reveal that there has not been a single news article or editorial published about the report. This is a remarkable symptom of the glaring tendency of the media to reject, or simply blank, reasoned, well-researched criticism.

When The Canary website published an article about the MRC report, they approached both the Guardian and the BBC for comment. The Guardian‘s response was boilerplate rhetoric – ‘The Guardianhas featured a wide range of voices in this debate’, etc – that failed to acknowledge the paper’s unambiguous distortions and omissions. The BBC did not even provide a comment.

The sole newspaper mention to date is a letter in the Guardian which may only have been published because Noam Chomsky is one of the signatories, along with high-profile figures such as Brian Eno, Yanis Varoufakis, Ken Loach and a number of media academics. They make a crucial point that relates to criticism of the Guardian itself (mentioned earlier):

‘In relation to the IHRA definition of antisemitism that was at the heart of the dispute, the research found evidence of “overwhelming source imbalance” in which critics of Labour’s code of conduct dominated coverage, with nearly 50% of Guardian reports, for example, failing to include any quotes from those defending the code or critiquing the IHRA definition.’

The letter also notes the MRC researchers’ conclusion that media distortions and inaccuracies:

‘were not occasional lapses in judgment but “systematic reporting failures” that served to weaken the Labour leadership and to bolster its opponents within and outside of the party.’

Chomsky and his co-signatories add:

‘In covering the allegations that Labour is now “institutionally antisemitic”, there have been inaccuracies, clear distortions and revealing omissions across our most popular media platforms. We believe that significant parts of the UK media have failed their audiences by producing flawed reports that have contributed to an undeserved witch-hunt against the Labour leader and misdirected public attention away from antisemitism elsewhere, including on the far right, which is ascendant in much of Europe.’

Given the Guardian‘s appalling record of boosting fake news of a Labour ‘antisemitism crisis’, and given its vehement opposition to Corbyn’s brand of moderate socialism, it is no wonder that #DumpTheGuardian and #BoycottTheGuardian were trending in the UK last Friday as part of a dedicated Twitter campaign.

Pro-Corbyn Labour MP Chris Williamson tweeted his support in response to the MRC report:

‘My reference to McCarthyism vindicated by this report. The Guardian newspaper’s deplorable contribution explains why so many people are saying #BoycottTheGuardian’

Last Wednesday, Jeremy Corbyn gave a speech to the Labour Party conference in which he dared to criticise the British corporate media who have been gunning for him ever since he became the party’s leader:

‘It turns out that the billionaires who own the bulk of the British press don’t like us one little bit.

‘Now it could be because we’re going to clamp down on tax dodging. Or it may be because we don’t fawn over them at white tie dinners and cocktail parties.’

He added:

‘We must, and we will, protect the freedom of the press to challenge unaccountable power.

‘Journalists from Turkey to Myanmar and Colombia are being imprisoned, harassed or sometimes killed by authoritarian governments and powerful corporate interests just for doing their job.

‘But here, a free press has far too often meant the freedom to spread lies and half-truths, and to smear the powerless, not take on the powerful.

‘You challenge their propaganda of privilege by using the mass media of the 21st century: social media.’

Pippa Crerar, Guardian deputy political editor, responded with the standard kneejerk conflation of Corbyn’s reasoned comments with the idiotic ‘fake news’ mantra of Trump. She tweeted:

‘Corbyn criticises some parts of British media, claiming they “smear the powerless, not take on the powerful”. As a journalist, makes me very uncomfortable to hear him leading attack on our free press. Dangerous, Trumpian territory.’

We responded:

‘Honest, rational criticism is not an “attack”, and it is not “dangerous”. A corporate press that refuses to listen or respond to this kind of reasonable criticism is itself dangerous. If anyone has a right to criticise media smears, it is @jeremycorbyn.’

The level of popular support for this view is indicated by the fact that our tweet has so far received 518 retweets and 1,222 likes; a massive response by our standards.

To her credit, Crerar did engage with us reasonably, unlike the vast majority of her media colleagues over many years:

‘Totally agree media has to reflect/listen. Not for a minute saying we’re perfect (some elements extremely *imperfect*). But orgs also do invaluable work eg Windrush, grooming scandal, MPs expenses so just not true to say we don’t hold power to account.’

We answered:

‘Thanks for replying, Pippa, very much appreciated. Glad you agree “media has to reflect/listen”. Doesn’t that mean taking Corbyn’s thoughtful, reasoned criticism seriously, rather than lumping it in with Trump’s awful tub-thumping? Corbyn and Milne really aren’t “dangerous”.’

Her follow-up:

‘I’ve sat back today & watched pile-on. I’d always rather engage but not when abusive. Like I said, media far from perfect, but I fear JC’s comments ignored excellent journalism that does exist & undermined journalists who produce it. Of course, nowhere near as extreme as Trump.’

And our reply:

‘Our response generated nearly 800 [now 1,700] likes and retweets – that gives an idea of the strength of feeling. Like other media, the Guardian’s smearing of Corbyn has gone way too far. It’s time to start listening to your readers @KathViner.’

To date, there has been no further exchange; and certainly not a peep out of Guardian editor, Katharine Viner; which is typical for this extraordinarily unresponsive media professional.

Justin Schlosberg, lead author of the MRC report, told The Canary:

‘Neither the Guardian nor the BBC have acknowledged or even directly responded to the myriad reporting failures highlighted in our research. It is completely inadequate to offer blanket dismissals or simply kick into the long grass of their respective complaints procedures.’

Schlosberg pointed out:

‘The failure to answer to these allegations is even more serious than the reporting failures themselves.’

Conclusion

As a further, related example of bias, consider the corporate media’s stunning indifference to the bomb threat that interrupted the screening of a new film, ‘The Political Lynching of Jackie Walker’, in Liverpool on September 25. Walker is a former Momentum Vice-Chair who was suspended from the Labour party as part of a propaganda blitz attempting to silence critics of Israel. The screening was organised by Jewish Voice for Labour which has been supportive of Jeremy Corbyn.

If the corporate media were genuinely motivated by concerns about alleged rising antisemitism, this shocking threat would have generated headline coverage. Instead it was met by a blanket of silence. A brief online Guardian piece was, to say the least, ambiguous in its narrative. Ex-Guardian journalist Jonathan Cook noted:

‘Another “fake news” master-class from the Guardian. A bomb hoax to stop Corbyn-supporting, Jewish Labour members screening a film about how Labour’s “anti-semitism crisis” has been manufactured is framed as *more* evidence of Jew hatred in the party!’

According to our ProQuest database search, the only mentions in the print press have been in the Liverpool Echo and The Times of Israel. Where are all the editorials and major comment pieces in the Guardian, The Times and elsewhere?

As for the Media Reform Coalition report itself, it is no surprise that the BBC, the Guardian and the rest of the corporate media should brush away detailed reasoned criticism of their biased reporting, or pretend such clear evidence does not exist. These media outlets sell themselves as publicly accountable; or, at least, as defenders of the public interest; a valiant fourth estate standing up for the truth and honest, neutral news coverage. And yet, when the alternative media makes a mistake, or says ‘the wrong thing’, there are angry howls and screaming mockery from the corporate commentariat. The hypocrisy is staggering, and, again, entirely predictable.

*

Featured image is from Media Lens.

BBC accused of lying in its anti-Corbyn campaign

Source

The BBC has been accused of lying to its audience in its ongoing campaign to discredit the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Listeners of its early morning Radio 4 programme woke up to presenter John Humphrys’ speaking about the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, which is at the centre of the row within the Labour Party.

Humphrey’s reportedly said that “almost every country in the world has adopted the IHRA definition and examples of anti-Semitism.” His remark was picked up by listeners and was denounced as another one of “BBC fiction”.

Listeners rushed to correct the BBC on social media to point out that of the 195 countries in the world only 31 have adopted the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, citing the Jewish Chronicle as their source. Of those only six are said to have endorsed and adopted it fully with all the examples.

OPINION: A new Israeli campaign against Corbyn

They also pointed out that the six include: Austria is threatening to make Jews put their names on a state register in order to get kosher meat. Lithuania, whose government supports commemorations of Nazi wartime events. And Israel, which has just enacted a constitutional law entrenching apartheid

Listeners berated Humphrys as an “overpaid liar” for failing to fact check his information on such a crucial topic.

The IHRA definition has been presented by the BBC and the mainstream media as the gold standard which the international community has endorsed in full. This narrative has been pushed by the media, including the Conservative Party to berate Corbyn, even though the reality is the complete opposite.

Not only have the overwhelming majority of countries not adopted the IHRA definition even the Tories do not include the controversial definition in their rule book. The Conservative code of conduct, Channel 4 News found, does not at any point mention the word “anti-Semitism” or spell out a definition of anti-Semitism, IHRA-approved or otherwise.

This is not the first time the BBC has allowed itself to be used to advance a false narrative. Last month the broadcaster was found to have a conflict of interest after it was discovered that the daughter of Labour MP Margaret Hodge, who is at centre of the row, is employed as deputy editor for its main news programmes.

How The British Zionist Brigade Almost Saved The BBC’s Reputation

September 05, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

we are bbc Jews_edited-1.jpg

By Gilad Atzmon

Two days ago I found out that the BBC was planning to air – We Are British Jews. No doubt the British Broadcaster needs to fill the open void between the news about Corbyn being an ‘existential threat’ and the ex chief Rabbi’s ‘message of hope.’ The BBC’s website offered the following description of its expedition into the mysterious world of contemporary Hebrew Brits.  “Eight British Jews with a broad range of opinions, beliefs and practices, go on a journey to explore what it means to be Jewish in Britain today.” Being an investigative character, I decided to launch a 24 hour online FB poll. I posted the following text on my Facebook page:

“Do you remember that once upon a time the BBC claimed to be ‘impartial’? How balanced do you expect BBC’s We Are British Jews to be?”

Since the Facebook poll template only offers a binary option, poll participants were asked to choose either ‘Totally impartial…’ or  ‘Zionist to the core.’

I genuinely expected the results to be somewhat balanced. After all, the BBC is our national broadcast. It once enjoyed a great reputation. Some of the BBC’s journalists are still superb inquisitive minds. But many think that, of late, the corporation has not been doing its job. It is lame, slow and as the poll revealed, isn’t trusted by the public.

The reaction to the poll came pretty quickly. One hour in, 86 had voted. About half were my FB friends, the rest were unknown to me. The results ought to embarrass the BBC. 99% of poll participants expected the BBC’s program to be ‘Zionist to the core.’ Apparently, 85 out of 86 didn’t think highly of our national broadcaster.

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I went to bed hoping that by the time I opened my eyes in the morning someone would have been brave enough to protect the BBC’s reputation. After all, Britain has been my home for 25 years, the BBC is my national broadcaster and I even pay my TV license to this corporation just to make sure that it remains ‘impartial.’ But when I woke up yesterday the situation hadn’t changed much. 18 hours after I launched my poll, there were more than 150 participants and only 2% expected the BBC to produce a balanced documentary about the Jews. Sad yet revealing, I thought.

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But, you will be happy to learn, the BBC does not stand alone. The Zionist brigade, or more precisely, a Facebook page called ‘Israel Advocacy Movement” decided to resurrect the reputation of our national broadcaster. This is how they introduced my poll to their ultra Zionist crowd:

“Disgraced antisemite, Gilad Atzmon, has just made a poll claiming the BBC is ‘Zionist to the core’. Let’s vote on his bigoted poll then circulate it far and wide so that their hatred can be challenged.”

That a Hasbara page lied is no surprise, deception is kosher within the Hasbara milieu. The poll didn’t ‘claim’ that the BBC was ‘Zionist to the core.’ Instead it invited people to vote on whether they expected a particular BBC program about Jews to be ‘balanced’ or ‘Zionist to the core.’ None the less, I was delighted to see Israel’s advocates rallying for the BBC because this group often accuses the BBC of being biased against Israel. The Zionists in Britain seem to have changed their spots once again. They are now committed to the defence of our National Broadcaster; in an affair that seems like a honeymoon verging on biological symbiosis.

Israeli advocacy.png

But the truth of the matter is that although the Israel Advocacy Group has more than 37.000 followers it only managed to pull in around 170 of their supporters. Within an hour they had managed to boost support for the national broadcaster. At one point it seemed 38% of the poll participants expected the BBC to produce a balanced program about Jews.  Needless to mention, the list of the BBC supporters resembled my Bar Mitzvah’s guest-list. But truth can’t be denied, there is at least one ethnic minority in this country that is united in its support of our national broadcaster.

At 8.56 PM, just 4 minutes ahead of the BBC broadcast, I closed the poll. The result was still depressing for the BBC, despite the intervention by the Israeli advocacy group, seven out of ten (68%) expected the BBC’s documentary to be ‘Zionist to the core.’ We may have wondered what it takes for a national broadcaster to become FOX News? Not a lot as we can see.

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Of course I watched ‘We are British Jews’ last night with two other ex-Israelis. It delivered a pretty accurate picture of British Jewry. Not a flattering image I am afraid: a lot of kosher food, a lot of talking and preaching and all while eating. Except for one young woman (out of eight) who desperately advocated for the oppressed while appealing for universal ethics, the group was rabidly Zionist without really understanding the meaning of the Zionist call. In the eyes of the British Jews depicted, Zionism meant ‘Jewish right to self determination on their historic land.’ But in fact, no one denies the Jews their right to ‘self determination.’ But determining who you are at the expense of others, is where Zionism meets opposition and for crucial reasons. The so-called ‘Jewish historical land’ has been called Palestine for the last 2000 years and has been the home of the Palestinian people.

The BBC tried to deliver: it tried to be accurate and impartial.  But, unfortunately, it can’t. It has lost the talent and the ability. It may even be possible that with the new impediments on freedom of speech, the BBC, like other British media, can’t deliver the truth anymore. One example was the completely ahistorical depiction of the Palestinian plight–Gaza, for instance, was, according to the BBC program, a narrative of resistance that began with the Israel’s 1967 occupation. The 1948 mass ethnic cleansing of Palestinians by the young Israel wasn’t even mentioned. The fact that Gaza is home to refugees from 1948 was never acknowledged. The Palestinian cause was depicted as merely a vague reaction to the IDF’s ‘tear gas and rubber bullets.’

So yes, as my Facebook poll clearly predicted, the first episode of We Are British Jews’ was ‘Zionist to the core.’ Whether it was consciously Zionist or not, is a different question.

 

@BBC accused of lying in its anti-Corbyn campaign

BBC accused of lying in its anti-Corbyn campaign

The BBC has been accused of lying to its audience in its ongoing campaign to discredit the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Listeners of its early morning Radio 4 programme woke up to presenter John Humphrys’ speaking about the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, which is at the centre of the row within the Labour Party.

Humphrey’s reportedly said that “almost every country in the world has adopted the IHRA definition and examples of anti-Semitism.” His remark was picked up by listeners and was denounced as another one of “BBC fiction”.

Listeners rushed to correct the BBC on social media to point out that of the 195 countries in the world only 31 have adopted the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, citing the Jewish Chronicle as their source. Of those only six are said to have endorsed and adopted it fully with all the examples.

OPINION: A new Israeli campaign against Corbyn

They also pointed out that the six include: Austria is threatening to make Jews put their names on a state register in order to get kosher meat. Lithuania, whose government supports commemorations of Nazi wartime events. And Israel, which has just enacted a constitutional law entrenching apartheid.

Listeners berated Humphrys as an “overpaid liar” for failing to fact check his information on such a crucial topic.

The IHRA definition has been presented by the BBC and the mainstream media as the gold standard which the international community has endorsed in full. This narrative has been pushed by the media, including the Conservative Party to berate Corbyn, even though the reality is the complete opposite.

Not only have the overwhelming majority of countries not adopted the IHRA definition even the Tories do not include the controversial definition in their rule book. The Conservative code of conduct, Channel 4 News found, does not at any point mention the word “anti-Semitism” or spell out a definition of anti-Semitism, IHRA-approved or otherwise.

This is not the first time the BBC has allowed itself to be used to advance a false narrative. Last month the broadcaster was found to have a conflict of interest after it was discovered that the daughter of Labour MP Margaret Hodge, who is at centre of the row, is employed as deputy editor for its main news programmes

Back to the Future

September 02, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

corb.jpg

A fictional story by Gilad Atzmon

Neither Britain nor the rest of the world was surprised by last week’s election results. For the last six months Corbyn and the Labour Party have led in the polls and during that time no one doubted that Corbyn would become Britain’s new prime minister, the only question was when. And yet, Corbyn’s increasing popularity wasn’t a smooth shift in British politics, it resulted instead from a gradual increase in British unity in opposition to an obnoxious foreign lobby. The nastier Corbyn’s enemies were, the more Brits sided with him. At a certain stage it became clear that it was the Zionist Lobby, rather than Corbyn himself, that united the Brits behind Corbyn.

The more the Jewish self-appointed ‘leadership’ pushed: the more they equated Corbyn with Enoch Powel and even Hitler, the more the Brits responded by siding with the old anti racist. In the months leading up to the election the picture became clear, a wide spectrum of Brits were expressing fatigue with the manner in which a foreign lobby was crudely intervening in their national politics.

But in spite of the many signs that Britain had had enough, the British Jewish so-called ‘leadership’ didn’t stop pushing.  Not a day passed without a rabbi using the BBC to spread the message of Jews’ right to live in ‘peace’ on someone else’s land.  Every day we read a Guardian interview with an influential Jew who threatened to make Aliya and take his or her shekels with him. The Brits weren’t impressed, on social media some offered departing Zionists piggy back rides to Heathrow.

Commentators agreed that the escalation in British Jews’ troubled relationship with the rest of the nation was a very dangerous development. Corbyn, for his part, repeatedly stated that Labour would fight all forms of racism including antisemitsm. But the Jewish leaders’ concerns didn’t abate. “We didn’t ask him to fight racism, we want him to fight antisemitism.” Corbyns’ assurances were totally dismissed by the Jewish bodies. His motto, ‘For the Many not the Few,’ that excited so many Brits was interpreted by Zionist Jews as “for the Many not the Jew.”  It became clear that no one within the Jewish community knew how to calm things down. On the contrary, the self-appointed Jewish ‘representative’ bodies, seemed to compete amongst themselves to see who could drip more oil into the blaze.

Two weeks before the election, when it was widely accepted that Corbyn was about to become a PM and there was no force that could stop him, not even the Jewish Lobby, violence was employed. In early January, MI5 was tipped off about a possible  plot to physically attack  the Labour leader. According to Israeli media a few arrests were made in North West London. The British press was restricted from passing that story on to the citizens of the kingdom.

In a desperate move two weeks before the election, AIPAC, CRIF and other overseas Jewish pressure groups joined local Zionist bodies in stating that a Labour win would lead to an immediate international call by Jews for a boycott of Britain. The Guardian was quick to publish an extended commentary by George Soros, its favorite ‘currency analyst,’ who lectured the Brits on what would happen to their pound if they were stupid enough to allow Corbyn into 10 Downing Street.

AIPAC and CRIF delivered. Less than 24 hours after the election, the two influential Jewish lobbies called for immediate and severe financial measures against Britain. Wealthy Jews were urged to withdraw their funds and investments from the City. The US administration was implored to stop trade with Britain immediately. President Trump, hanging on a thread and battling likely impeachment, promised to seriously consider the demands of the Lobby that has dominated American foreign policy for more than three decades.

The situation in Britain did indeed deteriorate immediately as Soros predicted.  Within a day, the pound lost 45% of its value against the dollar and this after the dollar lost 20% of its value against the Iranian Rial a week earlier (due to an EU-Chinese-Russian deal with Iran).

Brits weren’t happy at all. In fact, many of them were devastated. Corbyn, now a PM in the process of forming his government, was put in an untenable situation. It was just a question of time before nasty scenes of violence erupted. I guess that we have seen it all before…

israel (apartheid state) an Enemy of Freedom-Loving People Everywhere

August 23, 2018

Israel an Enemy of Freedom-Loving People Everywhere

by Eric Zuesse for The Saker Blog

Israel is fighting constantly not only against Gazans, and against Palestinians generally; it is fighting constantly against freedom-loving people everywhere, who oppose dictatorship of any type, and in any country, on principle, irrespective of nationality.

Here’s an example showing how much of a dictatorship and enemy of democrats it is:

Anna Dressler was a ship-hand on a flotilla of two small boats launched from Palermo Italy that were manned by 34 people from 12 countries in international waters and that were seized — stolen — by Israel’s military, on 29 July 2018. They became seized because these boats were carrying medical supplies in violation of Israel’s internationally illegal blockade against food and medicine reaching the residents of Gaza. She was on the boat “Al-Awda,” which was 42 miles from Gaza at the time of seizure-theft. Israel’s troops seizing it were masked, and were armed with machine-guns.

The first video of this incident was released on August 20th.

“Legal and Welfare Update and Appeal” dated August 14th by the Freedom Flotilla, stated that,

The two boats ‘Al Awda’ (The Return) and ‘Freedom’ were hijacked by the Israeli Occupation Forces in international waters 42 and 49 nautical miles respectively off the coast of Gaza. During their unlawful detention, crew, participants and journalists were subjected to a range of physical and emotional violence.

The captain of Al Awda was threatened with execution, 4 people were tasered, 3 people had ribs broken by the Israeli military and one person had his foot broken.

They were all taken against their will to Israel, unlawfully imprisoned and ultimately deported. The Israeli authorities have stolen the boats and the 13,000 Euros worth of medical supplies that we were carrying as gifts, as well as many of the participants’ personal belongings (including clothes, a Bible, credit cards, IDs and mobile phones). Incredibly, they have begun to take legal action to attempt to confiscate the boats.

These people had been in constant communication with their colleagues on land; so, if they’d been killed by the Israelis, it would immediately have become an international incident, enraging 12 countries. They had to be released, and thus they were. These people weren’t Palestinians; they had rights that were cared-about in other countries. Though a gangster-state, Israel recognized that these people couldn’t be simply discarded, like trash — as Palestinians are treated by Israel.

So, here’s how the journey got to that stage:Image result for anna dressler on flotilla

On June 27th, Ms. Dressler, writing in the third person as “she,” had posted, as “Deckhand on Freedom”, her personal background, and presented an explanation, written as impersonally as she could, as to why she was participating in this flotilla (which, though she didn’t note the fact, was manned entirely by volunteers who knew that they were placing themselves in severe jeopardy for doing this):

Anna was born in Germany and is now living in Sweden, but mostly she is out on travels and ‘projects’ around the globe. She is an activist and problem solver – a person with a diversity of professions. In 2012, she was the Project Leader for an anti-money laundering campaign. In 2015-2016, she participated in a private project working with refugees near the Macedonian border and along the Balkan route. She enjoys her freedom wholeheartedly and wants others to have the same opportunity.

On July 18th was posted, by the Freedom Flotilla, the following “Leaving For Gaza – Media Release”:

Four boats from the ‘Right to a Just Future for Palestine’ Freedom Flotilla Coalition are scheduled to leave Palermo, Sicily, to break the illegal Israeli blockade of Gaza, and to assert the Palestinian people’s right to freedom of movement and their right to a just future. …

As always, our boats carry representatives from across the world and messages of love and solidarity for those living under the inhumane, decade-old blockade – the collective punishment on the civilian Palestinian population of Gaza. Given the dire situation in Palestinian hospitals, we are also transporting some urgently needed medical supplies (#Gauze4Gaza).

This need is even more critical given the thousands of people severely wounded by Israeli snipers and tear gas in the past few months during the Great March of Return protests (see 10 July UN report on serious injuries). …

It is also encouraging to see the local welcomes we are being given, including by the Mayor of Palermo who rightly connects our campaign with the Caravana Abriendo Fronteras, who have just arrived from Spain, and similar demands for the opening of borders and freedom of movement from the City Council of Cádiz (Spain) and Naples (Italy).

Spokesperson for the International Committee for Breaking the Siege of Gaza, James Godfrey said: “This Flotilla is necessary to highlight the international community’s failure and its ongoing complicity in the illegal blockade of over two million Palestinians in Gaza, more than half of them children.”

On July 23rd, was posted “Freedom Flotilla Coalition sets sail for a just future for Palestine”, and it reported:

Freedom Flotilla leaves Palermo to break the illegal Israeli blockade of Gaza.

Three boats are sailing with boxes of medical supplies: Al Awda (The Return), a large converted fishing vessel; Freedom to Gaza, a large sailing vessel; and Falestine, a smaller sailing vessel. A fourth boat, Mairead, will not sail at this time. Another Sicilian port Messina, opened its open arms as usual with a series of wonderful community events, and we are grateful for their solidarity.

All three boats making their way to Gaza will be donated to the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, that includes a fisherman’s union that will use the boats to fish in order to feed their families.

Spokesperson for the Swedish Ship to Gaza campaign, Jeannette Escanilla, said the boats would provide important economic and training opportunities for Palestinians trapped in Gaza.

“The illegal Israeli naval blockade has devastated the Palestinian economy, and in particular has hurt the fishing industry in Gaza so these boats will provide important economic opportunities for Palestinians in Gaza, and also training opportunities in sailing, to enable them to gain better qualifications. Currently, the Israeli Occupying Force prevent Palestinians in Gaza from sailing more than a few nautical miles from shore, and routinely attack fishing and other boats from Gaza.”

On July 26th, Dressler posted “ON THE WAY TO GAZA WITH FREEDOM – ANNA DRESSLER (UNITED KINGDOM/GERMANY)”. She said:

Gaza is a zone in the world where human rights seem to be forgotten. I believe that every person can change the world, on their own way, wherever they are and in which way they can. Let’s start here, with a blockade that should never have existed, and continues, along with everyone else, man-made, disasters.

On August 4th was posted to youtube “ANNA DRESSLER – SOS”, in which, six days after the seizure, theft, and assault, by Israel, against these people and their vessels, Anna, speaking in Swedish, publicly demanded that her Government in Stockholm enforce her rights as a Swede, against the Government of Israel, and that the ships and their supplies be at least returned to their owners.

On that same date, August 4th, the Freedom Flotilla itself headlined “SOS – Just Future for Palestine”, and officially notified the foreign ministers of the 12 involved countries whose nationals’ rights had been violated by Israel in this incident. These 12 countries were: Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Malaysia, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, UK, and U.S.

The following day, August 5th, Jeannette Escanilla wrote, for the Steering Committee, Ship to Gaza Sweden (her official title being “Spokesperson for the Swedish Ship to Gaza campaign”), addressed as follows:

To the Foreign Minister of Sweden; Margot Wallström

To the Prime Minister of Sweden; Stefan Löfven

Ship to Gaza’s sailing ketch “Freedom for Gaza” was approaching the coast of Gaza when it was boarded by Israeli militants on Friday 3 August on international waters, a gross violation of international law. The last reported position of the vessel before boarding was about 40 nautical miles from coast of Gaza at 20:06 (CET).

The Swedish flagged ship and its cargo of medical supplies were seized by Israel and the 12 persons onboard were abducted and led to Israel, a country they did not intend to visit.

Ship to Gaza demands that the captured crew, the ship and its and cargo will be returned to the position where they were boarded and allowed to continue their voyage on international and Palestinian waters without being interupted, in accordance with international law. In this way we can complete the purpose of the journey, which is to hand over “Freedom” as a gift to Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC)*, as well as 18 boxes of medical supplies, gauzes and sutures, to the organization My Care in Gaza. The lack of healthcare in the Gaza strip is appalling.

Our long term demands are also that the eleven-year illegal and destructive blockade of the Gaza Strip is finally lifted. The Swedish government has repeatedly backed the requirement of a lifting of the blockade. We now expect that the same government, whose flag is worn by the attacked ship, will also support our specific requirements regarding crew, cargo and ships. Ship to Gaza calls on Israel and Egypt to now meet the demands of large parts of the world community, that the illegitimate and destructive blockade of the Gaza Strip will be lifted after eleven years of isolation and aggression.

There is an obvious discrepancy between that “Friday 3 August” date, which she wrote on 5 August, versus the subsequent claim in the August 20th released video, of “29 July 2018,” as being the date on which their boats were stolen. An explanation is thus needed from them, regarding that discrepancy. However, in any case, the Swedish Ship to Gaza has made public that,

Ship to Gaza has now received an answer to the open letter that we, through our chairman Jeanette Escanilla, have sent to the Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Margot Wallström on August 5th.

The Minister writes:

**

Thank you for your letter dated 5th of August 2018. 

The situation in Gaza is very critical. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has described the situation as a humanitarian crisis. Furthermore, as you wrote, the lack of medical supplies is disastrous, not least since so many people have been injured as Israeli military has been deployed in connection with demonstrations along Gaza’s border in recent months.

Sweden upholds the principle of freedom of the seas and freedom of navigation. The government has been in contact with the Israeli authorities regarding Ship to Gaza, and has expressed that the actions of the Israeli authorities in relation to the Swedish-flagged vessel Freedom and the persons onboard constitutes a breach of international law. The government has also demanded that the ship, its cargo and the persons who were aboard be released. The Swedish Embassy in Tel Aviv is monitoring the imprisoned Swedish citizens’ consular rights and visited all of them on Sunday, August the 5th. 

The Swedish government will continue to work towards an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and towards a fair and sustainable two-state solution in which the two states can co-exist, peacefully, side by side. Ending the isolation of Gaza and providing humanitarian aid to its people are two critical, urgent steps towards that end. 

(Translated by Ship to Gaza)

The Swedish Ship to Gaza commented on that statement:

Ship to Gaza wishes to emphasize that the wording … in principle corresponds with our own demands that the crew, cargo and boat should be returned to the place where they were boarded and be allowed to continue their journey to Gaza. We are now being notified that the activists and crew is being deported from Israel. This is not in agreement with our demands or with the requests of the Swedish government.

We also want to know what the Swedish government is doing now to enforce the demands regarding our ships, cargo and crew, but even more importantly, also with regards to the blockade of the Gaza Strip.

On August 8th, Ms. Dressler posted:

Anna arrived last night at Berlin airport. Read her preliminary report of the cruel and inhumane treatment that the Israeli authorities meted out to her despite having a German passport. “…Can you then imagine how few rights Palestinians have…”

Anna’s resolve is strengthened and she declared that “We will continue to fight for freedom…”.

Please continue to demand the release of all of the Political Prisoners.

On August 13th, the Freedom Flotilla posted “SECOND MEDIA RELEASE ON MEDICAL SUPPLIES NOT REACHING GAZA” and listed, and linked, to the international laws that Israel had violated in this incident.

On August 17th, UK’s Stuart Littlewood headlined at American Herald Tribune “The UK’s Prime Minister-in-Waiting Must Zap the Circling Sharks”, and he reported on the extreme pressure that the progressive UK politician Jeremy Corbyn was facing for his not clearly taking a stand favoring Israel against the Palestinians, and he reported Corbyn’s being accused by Israel of “anti-Semitism” for that (as if it were wrong to recognize that Israel is an enemy nation; as if to recognize this is somehow against Jews or Judaism, instead of being against racist fascism in any nation, and against apartheid in any nation, and against theocracy in any nation, and against the imposition by any nation, of dictatorship — all of which presumptions are clearly lies). Littlewood noted that,

While the mainstream, including the BBC, have been sticking the knife into Corbyn, none of them (as far as I’m aware) reported a much more serious outrage – the hijacking by Israeli Occupation Forces of two vessels heading for Gaza and the violent assault, abduction and imprisonment of the 34 people from 12 countries who were on board – one of them a British consultant from the famous ‘Barts’ Hospital in London.

That is basically where things currently stand on this matter. The other governments involved (among the 12, besides Sweden), have been silent. Only Dressler’s nation has not. But no indication exists that even Sweden is following up with any demand against Israel. The underlying assumption seems to be that governments in The West (including the Sauds and their friends — all also “Western”) will continue simply to side with Israel against the Palestinians, even when their own citizens’ rights have been violated by Israel’s illegal imposition and enforcement of this illegal blockade.

Among the Governments that refused to enforce its citizens’ rights in this matter is the United States. Refusing to enforce its citizens rights that have been illegally violated by Israel, is routine for the U.S. Government to do. Ever since 1967, Israel has been supported by America, though America’s enemy, at war against Americans, and Israel has stayed that way, but the U.S. Government itself (and its news-media) has been keeping that fact, of Israel’s war against Americans — Israel’s being an enemy — a bipartisan secret from the American people (who are required, furthermore, by their Government, to pay to Israel’s Government, $3.8 billion per year, so that it can buy U.S.-made weapons from Lockheed Martin and other politically top-connected American companies — Eisenhower’s “military-industrial complex” — which are the intended beneficiaries of this coercion, by America’s Government, against America’s citizens). It’s the proven and incontrovertible reality, of the U.S. Government’s tyranny, against its own people.

Without such lies as that Israel is America’s friend instead of America’s enemy, and without such hiding of crucial facts from the public (for ‘national-security’ purposes, of course — not for billionaires’ profits), none of this could happen, and could be even credibly called ‘democracy’. This is actually a ‘democracy’ based on lies. But is that really possible, or is it instead just another lie, one to cover-up all the others? If that’s the case, then the problem is, obviously, much deeper than merely Israel versus the Palestinians, and nothing that the mainstream press publishes in The West regarding international relations can be trusted, at all, for its keeping this secret throughout the decades.

Certainly, what you are now reading, on this site, isn’t mainstream in The West. So, you are here reading Western samizdat, forbidden truths — truths that are forbidden to be published in The West. Nonetheless, all of this article is documented to be true. Just click onto a link anywhere that you doubt it. You will find that it’s all true — not just “maybe true” (like mainstream ‘news’ often is) — it is all unequivocally true. And, yet, what politician can say it? What would they be implying if they did say it? Can they say it? Apparently not.

What you’ve read here is, therefore, exposing just the visible tip, of an iceberg, of lies.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Israel an Enemy of Freedom-Loving People Everywhere

August 23, 2018

Israel an Enemy of Freedom-Loving People Everywhere

by Eric Zuesse for The Saker Blog

Israel is fighting constantly not only against Gazans, and against Palestinians generally; it is fighting constantly against freedom-loving people everywhere, who oppose dictatorship of any type, and in any country, on principle, irrespective of nationality.

Here’s an example showing how much of a dictatorship and enemy of democrats it is:

Anna Dressler was a ship-hand on a flotilla of two small boats launched from Palermo Italy that were manned by 34 people from 12 countries in international waters and that were seized — stolen — by Israel’s military, on 29 July 2018. They became seized because these boats were carrying medical supplies in violation of Israel’s internationally illegal blockade against food and medicine reaching the residents of Gaza. She was on the boat “Al-Awda,” which was 42 miles from Gaza at the time of seizure-theft. Israel’s troops seizing it were masked, and were armed with machine-guns.

The first video of this incident was released on August 20th.

“Legal and Welfare Update and Appeal” dated August 14th by the Freedom Flotilla, stated that,

The two boats ‘Al Awda’ (The Return) and ‘Freedom’ were hijacked by the Israeli Occupation Forces in international waters 42 and 49 nautical miles respectively off the coast of Gaza. During their unlawful detention, crew, participants and journalists were subjected to a range of physical and emotional violence.

The captain of Al Awda was threatened with execution, 4 people were tasered, 3 people had ribs broken by the Israeli military and one person had his foot broken.

They were all taken against their will to Israel, unlawfully imprisoned and ultimately deported. The Israeli authorities have stolen the boats and the 13,000 Euros worth of medical supplies that we were carrying as gifts, as well as many of the participants’ personal belongings (including clothes, a Bible, credit cards, IDs and mobile phones). Incredibly, they have begun to take legal action to attempt to confiscate the boats.

These people had been in constant communication with their colleagues on land; so, if they’d been killed by the Israelis, it would immediately have become an international incident, enraging 12 countries. They had to be released, and thus they were. These people weren’t Palestinians; they had rights that were cared-about in other countries. Though a gangster-state, Israel recognized that these people couldn’t be simply discarded, like trash — as Palestinians are treated by Israel.

So, here’s how the journey got to that stage:Image result for anna dressler on flotilla

On June 27th, Ms. Dressler, writing in the third person as “she,” had posted, as “Deckhand on Freedom”, her personal background, and presented an explanation, written as impersonally as she could, as to why she was participating in this flotilla (which, though she didn’t note the fact, was manned entirely by volunteers who knew that they were placing themselves in severe jeopardy for doing this):

Anna was born in Germany and is now living in Sweden, but mostly she is out on travels and ‘projects’ around the globe. She is an activist and problem solver – a person with a diversity of professions. In 2012, she was the Project Leader for an anti-money laundering campaign. In 2015-2016, she participated in a private project working with refugees near the Macedonian border and along the Balkan route. She enjoys her freedom wholeheartedly and wants others to have the same opportunity.

On July 18th was posted, by the Freedom Flotilla, the following “Leaving For Gaza – Media Release”:

Four boats from the ‘Right to a Just Future for Palestine’ Freedom Flotilla Coalition are scheduled to leave Palermo, Sicily, to break the illegal Israeli blockade of Gaza, and to assert the Palestinian people’s right to freedom of movement and their right to a just future. …

As always, our boats carry representatives from across the world and messages of love and solidarity for those living under the inhumane, decade-old blockade – the collective punishment on the civilian Palestinian population of Gaza. Given the dire situation in Palestinian hospitals, we are also transporting some urgently needed medical supplies (#Gauze4Gaza).

This need is even more critical given the thousands of people severely wounded by Israeli snipers and tear gas in the past few months during the Great March of Return protests (see 10 July UN report on serious injuries). …

It is also encouraging to see the local welcomes we are being given, including by the Mayor of Palermo who rightly connects our campaign with the Caravana Abriendo Fronteras, who have just arrived from Spain, and similar demands for the opening of borders and freedom of movement from the City Council of Cádiz (Spain) and Naples (Italy).

Spokesperson for the International Committee for Breaking the Siege of Gaza, James Godfrey said: “This Flotilla is necessary to highlight the international community’s failure and its ongoing complicity in the illegal blockade of over two million Palestinians in Gaza, more than half of them children.”

On July 23rd, was posted “Freedom Flotilla Coalition sets sail for a just future for Palestine”, and it reported:

Freedom Flotilla leaves Palermo to break the illegal Israeli blockade of Gaza.

Three boats are sailing with boxes of medical supplies: Al Awda (The Return), a large converted fishing vessel; Freedom to Gaza, a large sailing vessel; and Falestine, a smaller sailing vessel. A fourth boat, Mairead, will not sail at this time. Another Sicilian port Messina, opened its open arms as usual with a series of wonderful community events, and we are grateful for their solidarity.

All three boats making their way to Gaza will be donated to the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, that includes a fisherman’s union that will use the boats to fish in order to feed their families.

Spokesperson for the Swedish Ship to Gaza campaign, Jeannette Escanilla, said the boats would provide important economic and training opportunities for Palestinians trapped in Gaza.

“The illegal Israeli naval blockade has devastated the Palestinian economy, and in particular has hurt the fishing industry in Gaza so these boats will provide important economic opportunities for Palestinians in Gaza, and also training opportunities in sailing, to enable them to gain better qualifications. Currently, the Israeli Occupying Force prevent Palestinians in Gaza from sailing more than a few nautical miles from shore, and routinely attack fishing and other boats from Gaza.”

On July 26th, Dressler posted “ON THE WAY TO GAZA WITH FREEDOM – ANNA DRESSLER (UNITED KINGDOM/GERMANY)”. She said:

Gaza is a zone in the world where human rights seem to be forgotten. I believe that every person can change the world, on their own way, wherever they are and in which way they can. Let’s start here, with a blockade that should never have existed, and continues, along with everyone else, man-made, disasters.

On August 4th was posted to youtube “ANNA DRESSLER – SOS”, in which, six days after the seizure, theft, and assault, by Israel, against these people and their vessels, Anna, speaking in Swedish, publicly demanded that her Government in Stockholm enforce her rights as a Swede, against the Government of Israel, and that the ships and their supplies be at least returned to their owners.

On that same date, August 4th, the Freedom Flotilla itself headlined “SOS – Just Future for Palestine”, and officially notified the foreign ministers of the 12 involved countries whose nationals’ rights had been violated by Israel in this incident. These 12 countries were: Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Malaysia, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, UK, and U.S.

The following day, August 5th, Jeannette Escanilla wrote, for the Steering Committee, Ship to Gaza Sweden (her official title being “Spokesperson for the Swedish Ship to Gaza campaign”), addressed as follows:

To the Foreign Minister of Sweden; Margot Wallström

To the Prime Minister of Sweden; Stefan Löfven

Ship to Gaza’s sailing ketch “Freedom for Gaza” was approaching the coast of Gaza when it was boarded by Israeli militants on Friday 3 August on international waters, a gross violation of international law. The last reported position of the vessel before boarding was about 40 nautical miles from coast of Gaza at 20:06 (CET).

The Swedish flagged ship and its cargo of medical supplies were seized by Israel and the 12 persons onboard were abducted and led to Israel, a country they did not intend to visit.

Ship to Gaza demands that the captured crew, the ship and its and cargo will be returned to the position where they were boarded and allowed to continue their voyage on international and Palestinian waters without being interupted, in accordance with international law. In this way we can complete the purpose of the journey, which is to hand over “Freedom” as a gift to Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC)*, as well as 18 boxes of medical supplies, gauzes and sutures, to the organization My Care in Gaza. The lack of healthcare in the Gaza strip is appalling.

Our long term demands are also that the eleven-year illegal and destructive blockade of the Gaza Strip is finally lifted. The Swedish government has repeatedly backed the requirement of a lifting of the blockade. We now expect that the same government, whose flag is worn by the attacked ship, will also support our specific requirements regarding crew, cargo and ships. Ship to Gaza calls on Israel and Egypt to now meet the demands of large parts of the world community, that the illegitimate and destructive blockade of the Gaza Strip will be lifted after eleven years of isolation and aggression.

There is an obvious discrepancy between that “Friday 3 August” date, which she wrote on 5 August, versus the subsequent claim in the August 20th released video, of “29 July 2018,” as being the date on which their boats were stolen. An explanation is thus needed from them, regarding that discrepancy. However, in any case, the Swedish Ship to Gaza has made public that,

Ship to Gaza has now received an answer to the open letter that we, through our chairman Jeanette Escanilla, have sent to the Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Margot Wallström on August 5th.

The Minister writes:

**

Thank you for your letter dated 5th of August 2018. 

The situation in Gaza is very critical. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has described the situation as a humanitarian crisis. Furthermore, as you wrote, the lack of medical supplies is disastrous, not least since so many people have been injured as Israeli military has been deployed in connection with demonstrations along Gaza’s border in recent months.

Sweden upholds the principle of freedom of the seas and freedom of navigation. The government has been in contact with the Israeli authorities regarding Ship to Gaza, and has expressed that the actions of the Israeli authorities in relation to the Swedish-flagged vessel Freedom and the persons onboard constitutes a breach of international law. The government has also demanded that the ship, its cargo and the persons who were aboard be released. The Swedish Embassy in Tel Aviv is monitoring the imprisoned Swedish citizens’ consular rights and visited all of them on Sunday, August the 5th. 

The Swedish government will continue to work towards an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and towards a fair and sustainable two-state solution in which the two states can co-exist, peacefully, side by side. Ending the isolation of Gaza and providing humanitarian aid to its people are two critical, urgent steps towards that end. 

(Translated by Ship to Gaza)

The Swedish Ship to Gaza commented on that statement:

Ship to Gaza wishes to emphasize that the wording … in principle corresponds with our own demands that the crew, cargo and boat should be returned to the place where they were boarded and be allowed to continue their journey to Gaza. We are now being notified that the activists and crew is being deported from Israel. This is not in agreement with our demands or with the requests of the Swedish government.

We also want to know what the Swedish government is doing now to enforce the demands regarding our ships, cargo and crew, but even more importantly, also with regards to the blockade of the Gaza Strip.

On August 8th, Ms. Dressler posted:

Anna arrived last night at Berlin airport. Read her preliminary report of the cruel and inhumane treatment that the Israeli authorities meted out to her despite having a German passport. “…Can you then imagine how few rights Palestinians have…”

Anna’s resolve is strengthened and she declared that “We will continue to fight for freedom…”.

Please continue to demand the release of all of the Political Prisoners.

On August 13th, the Freedom Flotilla posted “SECOND MEDIA RELEASE ON MEDICAL SUPPLIES NOT REACHING GAZA” and listed, and linked, to the international laws that Israel had violated in this incident.

On August 17th, UK’s Stuart Littlewood headlined at American Herald Tribune “The UK’s Prime Minister-in-Waiting Must Zap the Circling Sharks”, and he reported on the extreme pressure that the progressive UK politician Jeremy Corbyn was facing for his not clearly taking a stand favoring Israel against the Palestinians, and he reported Corbyn’s being accused by Israel of “anti-Semitism” for that (as if it were wrong to recognize that Israel is an enemy nation; as if to recognize this is somehow against Jews or Judaism, instead of being against racist fascism in any nation, and against apartheid in any nation, and against theocracy in any nation, and against the imposition by any nation, of dictatorship — all of which presumptions are clearly lies). Littlewood noted that,

While the mainstream, including the BBC, have been sticking the knife into Corbyn, none of them (as far as I’m aware) reported a much more serious outrage – the hijacking by Israeli Occupation Forces of two vessels heading for Gaza and the violent assault, abduction and imprisonment of the 34 people from 12 countries who were on board – one of them a British consultant from the famous ‘Barts’ Hospital in London.

That is basically where things currently stand on this matter. The other governments involved (among the 12, besides Sweden), have been silent. Only Dressler’s nation has not. But no indication exists that even Sweden is following up with any demand against Israel. The underlying assumption seems to be that governments in The West (including the Sauds and their friends — all also “Western”) will continue simply to side with Israel against the Palestinians, even when their own citizens’ rights have been violated by Israel’s illegal imposition and enforcement of this illegal blockade.

Among the Governments that refused to enforce its citizens’ rights in this matter is the United States. Refusing to enforce its citizens rights that have been illegally violated by Israel, is routine for the U.S. Government to do. Ever since 1967, Israel has been supported by America, though America’s enemy, at war against Americans, and Israel has stayed that way, but the U.S. Government itself (and its news-media) has been keeping that fact, of Israel’s war against Americans — Israel’s being an enemy — a bipartisan secret from the American people (who are required, furthermore, by their Government, to pay to Israel’s Government, $3.8 billion per year, so that it can buy U.S.-made weapons from Lockheed Martin and other politically top-connected American companies — Eisenhower’s “military-industrial complex” — which are the intended beneficiaries of this coercion, by America’s Government, against America’s citizens). It’s the proven and incontrovertible reality, of the U.S. Government’s tyranny, against its own people.

Without such lies as that Israel is America’s friend instead of America’s enemy, and without such hiding of crucial facts from the public (for ‘national-security’ purposes, of course — not for billionaires’ profits), none of this could happen, and could be even credibly called ‘democracy’. This is actually a ‘democracy’ based on lies. But is that really possible, or is it instead just another lie, one to cover-up all the others? If that’s the case, then the problem is, obviously, much deeper than merely Israel versus the Palestinians, and nothing that the mainstream press publishes in The West regarding international relations can be trusted, at all, for its keeping this secret throughout the decades.

Certainly, what you are now reading, on this site, isn’t mainstream in The West. So, you are here reading Western samizdat, forbidden truths — truths that are forbidden to be published in The West. Nonetheless, all of this article is documented to be true. Just click onto a link anywhere that you doubt it. You will find that it’s all true — not just “maybe true” (like mainstream ‘news’ often is) — it is all unequivocally true. And, yet, what politician can say it? What would they be implying if they did say it? Can they say it? Apparently not.

What you’ve read here is, therefore, exposing just the visible tip, of an iceberg, of lies.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Are the mainstream U.S. ‘news’ media evil?

Source

By Eric Zuesse for The Saker Blog — August 15, 2018

US media

William Binney, the U.S. National Security Agency’s former technical director for global analysis, has, for the past year, been globe-trotting to investigate the actual evidence regarding the official Russiagate investigations, and he finds that the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller, who is prosecuting Russia’s Government, can only accuse Russian officials, not convict any of them on at least the important charges, because conclusive evidence exists and has already been made public online, making clear that the important accusations against those officials are false. However, Binney can’t get any of the U.S. major ‘news’ media’s interest in this fact, nor even into openly discussing it with them. Apparently, they don’t want to know. Binney is knocking on their doors, and they refuse to answer.

Patrick Lawrence, at the non-mainstream U.S. news medium Consortium News, headlined on Monday August 13th, “‘Too Big to Fail’: Russia-gate One Year After VIPS Showed a Leak, Not a Hack and he reported what Binney has found and has been trying to get the major U.S. ‘news’ media to present to the American public.

The “VIPS” there is Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, and they are 17 whistleblowing former high officials of the CIA, NSA, State Department, and other U.S. officials with top-secret national-security clearances, who jointly signed and published on 24 July 2017, their report, which likewise was at Consortium News, Intel Vets Challenge ‘Russia Hack’ Evidence”, in which they confirmed the validity of a 9 July 2017 report that had been published by Elizabeth Vos of Disobedient Media . com, which was titled New Research Shows Guccifer 2.0 Files Were Copied Locally, Not Hacked and which I then reported in more ordinary language seven days later under the headline “Russiagate Exposed: It’s a Fraud”. I quoted there the analysis’s basic finding “that the DNC computer network which the media tells us and the DNC tells us was hacked by the Russians, … was physically accessed by someone within close proximity of the DNC” and not outside the United States (Russia or anywhere else). The original research-report had been done by an anonymous person who called himself “the forensicator,” and he had sent it to Adam Carter, another highly technically knowledgeable person, who happened to be at Disobedient Media, and who then worked with Vos to prepare her article on it.

Binney, as the nation’s now-retired top NSA expert in the analysis of such matters, then followed up, during the past year, in order to probe more deeply, by contacting various individuals who had been involved behind the scenes; and Patrick Lawrence’s article was a report of what Binney had found. It’s this:

The forensic scientists working with VIPS continued their research and experiments after VIPS50 was published. So have key members of the VIPS group, notably William Binney, the National Security Agency’s former technical director for global analysis and designer of programs the agency still uses to monitor internet traffic. Such work continues as we speak, indeed. This was always the intent: “Evidence to date” was the premise of VIPS50. Over the past year there have been confirmations of the original thesis and some surprises that alter secondary aspects of it. Let us look at the most significant of these findings.

At the time I reported on the findings of VIPS and associated forensic scientists, that the most fundamental evidence that the events of summer 2016 constituted a leak, not a hack, was the transfer rate—the speed at which data was copied. The speed proven then was an average of 22.7 megabytes per second. …

The fastest internet transfer speed achieved, during the New Jersey–to–Britain test, was 12.0 megabytes of data per second. Since this time it has emerged from G-2.0’s metadata that the detected average speed—the 22.7 megabytes per second—included peak speeds that ran as high as 49.1 megabytes per second, impossible over the internet. “You’d need a dedicated, leased, 400–megabit line all the way to Russia to achieve that result,” Binney said in a recent interview. … That remains the bedrock evidence of the case VIPS and others advance without qualification. “No one—including the FBI, the CIA, and the NSA—has come out against this finding,” Binney said Monday. …

The identity of Guccifer 2.0, who claimed to be a Romanian hacker but which the latest Mueller indictment claims is a construct of the GRU, Russian military intelligence, has never been proven. The question is what G–2.0 did with or to the data in question. It turns out that both more, and less, is known about G–2.0 than was thought to have been previously demonstrated. This work has been completed only recently. It was done by Binney in collaboration with Duncan Campbell, a British journalist who has followed the Russia-gate question closely.

Peak Speed Established

Binney visited Campbell in Brighton, England, early this past spring. They examined all the metadata associated with the files G–2.0 has made public. They looked at the number of files, the size of each, and the time stamps at the end of each. It was at this time that Binney and Campbell established the peak transfer rate at 49.1 megabytes per second. … “Now you need to prove everything you might think about him,” Binney told me. “We have no way of knowing anything about him or what he has done, apart from manipulating the files. …

The conclusions initially drawn on time and location in VIPS50 are now subject to these recent discoveries. “In retrospect, giving ‘equal importance’ status to data pertaining to the locale was mistaken,” Ray McGovern, a prominent VIPS member, wrote in a recent note. “The key finding on transfer speed always dwarfed it in importance.” … 

How credible are those indictments in view of what is now known about G–2.0?

Binney told me: “Once we proved G–2.0 is a fabrication and a manipulator, the timing and location questions couldn’t be answered but really didn’t matter. I don’t right now see a way of absolutely proving either time or location. But this doesn’t change anything. We know what we know: The intrusion into the Democratic National Committee mail was a local download—wherever ‘local’ is.” That doesn’t change. As to Rosenstein, he’ll have a lot to prove.”

However, yet another technically knowledgeable analyst of the available evidence, George Eliason, claims that to assert that there were only “leaks” and not also “hacks” would clearly be wrong because there were both. On August 14th, he bannered at Washington’s Blog, Beyond The DNC Leak: Hacks and Treason and he wrote:

There were multiple DNC hacks. There is also clear proof supporting the download to a USB stick and subsequent information exchange (leak) to Wikileaks. All are separate events.

Here’s what’s different in the information I’ve compiled.

The group I previously identified as Fancy Bear was given access to request password privileges at the DNC. And it looks like the DNC provided them with it.

I’ll show why the Podesta email hack looks like a revenge hack.

The reason Republican opposition research files were stolen can be put into context now because we know who the hackers are and what motivates them.

At the same time this story developed, it overshadowed the Hillary Clinton email scandal. It is a matter of public record that Team Clinton provided the DNC hackers with passwords to State Department servers on at least 2 occasions, one wittingly and one not. I have already clearly shown the Fancy Bear hackers are Ukrainian Intelligence Operators.

This gives some credence to the Seth Rich leak (DNC leak story) as an act of patriotism. If the leak came through Seth Rich, it may have been because he saw foreign Intel operatives given this access from the presumed winners of the 2016 US presidential election. No political operative is going to argue with the presumed president-elect over foreign policy. The leaker may have been trying to do something about it. I’m curious what information Wikileaks might have.

Eliason’s analysis doesn’t support Robert Mueller’s indictments any more than the others do. All are essentially incompatible with the accusations (including ones which now have become also indictments) from Mueller. Moreover, as Patrick Lawrence noted, “Indictments are not evidence and do not need to contain evidence. That is supposed to come out at trial, which is very unlikely to ever happen. Nevertheless, the corporate media has treated the indictments as convictions.” Maybe that’s the biggest crime of all.

—————
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Source

BBC Foreknowledge of 9/11 Collapse of WTC Building Seven: British Man Won Law Suit against @BBC for 9/11 Cover Up

Source

By Global Research News,

By EV

Horsham, UK, 2013 – Tony Rooke, in an act of civil disobedience, refused to pay the mandatory £130 TV license fee claiming it violates Section 15 of the Terrorism Act. Rooke’s accusation was aimed at the BBC who reported the collapse of WTC 7 over 20 minutes before it actually fell, and the judge accepted Rooke’s argument. While it was not a public inquiry into 9/11, the recognition of the BBC’s actions on September 11th are considered a small victory, one that was never reported in the US.

Today was an historic day for the 9/11 truth movement,” Peter Drew of AE911Truth UK told Digital Journal, “with over 100 members of the public attending, including numerous journalists from around the UK as well as from across other parts of Europe.”

Under Section 363 of the Communications Act, citizens of the UK are required to purchase an annual license in order to use a television receiver. Rooke refused to pay the license fee due to a section of the Terrorism Act that states:

It is an offence for someone to invite another to provide money, intending that it should be used, or having reasonable cause to suspect that it may be used, for terrorism purposes.

The fact that the BBC reported the collapse of WTC 7 twenty-three minutes before it actually fell indicates that the UK was aware of the attacks on 9/11 before they actually happened. The direct implication is that they were working with the “terrorists”, all arguments as to who the terrorists actually were aside.

Here is a broadcast of the BBC’s announcement that WTC 7 (Salomon Brothers Building) collapsed when it was still standing behind the reporter:

Clear picture:

BBC-WTC7

Rooke had been given a six-month conditional discharge and told to pay £200 after admitting that he owned a television and watched it without a license. He represented himself at Horsham Magistrates’ Court in West Sussex.

Mr. Rooke puts the basis of his defence under Section 15 of the Terrorism Act, effectively asking the court to find the BBC is a terrorist organisation and that if he continues to pay them he himself is committing a criminal offence.” – District Judge Stephen Nicholls

article-2284337-18470B00000005DC-34_306x523

In Rooke’s statement to the court:

I believe the BBC, who are directly funded by the licence fee, are furthering the purposes of terrorism and I have incontrovertible evidence to this effect. I do not use this word lightly given where I am.”

Although he was not allowed to show his video evidence in court due to the District Judge deeming it irrelevant to the trial, the fact that the BBC reported WTC 7’s collapse over 20 minutes beforehand proved to be evidence enough.

He also made reference to the theories behind the collapse of WTC 7 being a controlled demolition, as the evidence suggests. In an additional statement:

The BBC reported it 20 minutes before it fell. They knew about it beforehand. Last time I was here I asked you (the judge): ‘Were you aware of World Trade Centre 7?’ You said you had heard of it. Ten years later you should have more than heard of it. It’s the BBC’s job to inform the public. Especially of miracles of science and when laws of physics become suspended.

“They have made programmes making fools of and ridiculing those of us who believe in the laws of gravity. American reports have shown that the fall was nothing but a controlled demolition.

“I am not looking at who demolished it—that is impossible—but the BBC actively tried to hide this from the public.”

In response from Judge Nicholls:

Even if I accept the evidence you say, this court has no power to create a defence in the manner which you put forward.”

In light of the evidence the judge took into consideration, Rooke was given an unconditional discharge, which in British legal parlance means he “was convicted but he does not suffer the consequences of a conviction, and the conviction will be erased if he is not brought before the court for six months.” He was not required to pay the fee and non-payment fine either—only court costs of £200.

Sources:

Alexander, Victoria. Digital Journal. Feb 27, 2013. (http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/344438)

Duell, Mark. Daily Mail. Feb 25, 2015. (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2284337/TV-licence-evader-refused-pay-BBC-covered-facts-9-11.html)

Livingston, Bob. Personal Liberty. Apr 5, 2013. (http://personalliberty.com/british-man-wins-small-victory-for-911-truthers/)

Copyright We are Anonymous, 2015

Realities Watch. Mar 6, 2015. (http://realitieswatch.com/uk-man-wins-court-case-against-bbc-for-911-cover-up/)

#Skripal Time to Invite Russian Diplomats Back with an Apology

Time to Invite Russian Diplomats Back with an Apology

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By James ONeill – New Eastern Outlook – 16.07.2018

On 4th of March 2018 former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were discovered on a park bench in Salisbury England in a distressed state. They were treated by passers-by, including a doctor, before being taken to Salisbury General Hospital.

The hospital initially treated the Skripals for a suspected drug overdose as the symptoms they exhibited were consistent with poisoning by fentanyl, a substance 10 times stronger than heroin, and with which the hospital had prior experience. The hospital’s initial diagnosis was confirmed in an article that appeared in the Clinical Services Journal on 27 April 2018. After the journal’s online article was publicized on social media, references to “fentanyl” were changed to “a substance.”

It was not the first or last time that the official story about what happened to the Skripals was changed.

Three days after the Skripals were found, the British government issued a “D” Notice. The ‘Notice”, officially a “request” but in effect a demand, forbade mention of Mr Skripal’s friend Pablo Miller. Why publicity about Mr Miller was to be suppressed is one of the features of this case, and apart from the initial report in the UK newspaper the Daily Telegraph, which led to the ‘D’ Notice, he has not been referred to again in the mainstream media.

On 12 March 2018 the British Prime Minister Theresa May made her first statement to the House of Commons in which she alleged that the Skripals had been poisoned with a nerve agent of a type developed by Russia,” and that it was “highly likely” Russia was responsible.

The British government subsequently circulated a memorandum and power point presentation to 80 embassies setting out the argument that Russia was responsible for what happened to the Skripals, and seeking support for their intention to expel Russian diplomats as a punishment. The various allegations made in the PowerPoint presentation were at best contentious and some were demonstrably untrue. It is suffice for present purposes however to focus only on the claims of alleged Russian responsibility for the Skripal attacks.

A number of countries, including Australia, acceded to the British demand and expelled diplomats. The statement made by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announcing that two Russian diplomats would be expelled made no attempt to establish the truth of the matter or indicate any desire to do so. His statement simply echoed the allegations made in the British document.

Turnbull said that the use of a chemical weapon to try to murder Sergei and Yulia Skripal reflected a “pattern of recklessness and aggression” by the Russian government that had to be stopped. Russia, he said was threatening no less than “the democratic world” in deliberately undermining the international rules based order. He went on to list a series of other alleged transgressions that echoed the claims made by the United Kingdom government.

One of the interesting features of this case is that not only was it a rush to judgement before the evidence could possibly have been gathered and analysed, but that the mainstream media and the politicians have not deviated from their initial claims, despite the wealth of evidence that has subsequently emerged.

Like the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland, they demanded the sentence before the evidence had been presented, and also like Alice in the eponymous story, asked us to believe six impossible things before breakfast.

The diligent reader is able to readily ascertain just how lengthy that list of impossible things is. It is suffice for present purposes to mention only a few to demonstrate that the United Kingdom’s entire story is a fabrication that would be funny were its potential consequences not so serious.

The United Kingdom government claimed that the Skripals had been poisoned by “a military grade nerve agent” that they see it was a Novichok “of a type of developed by Russia.” From that combination of alleged facts, we were expected to infer that only the Russians could have been responsible.

”Novichok” is a sufficiently Russian sounding nomenclature to give superficial credence to at least part of the claim. The first difficulty however is that there is no “Novichok” nerve agent. The term simply refers to a class of organophosphate chemical weapons. It is true that this class of chemical weapon was developed in the former Soviet Union, as described in a book published by a former employee of the chemical centre, readily available on Amazon.

That manufacturing and research development centre was demolished pursuant to the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1999, as was described as the time in an article in the New York Times. Material from the demolition process was taken back to the United States. All of this information is readily available and politicians and journalists prior to their making claims about nerve agents “of a type developed by Russia” should have known it

The Novichok class of nerve agents may or may not have been initially developed by the Soviet Union, but that is a far cry from linking the substance allegedly used in Salisbury with that original program. A number of European governments have acknowledged that they possess the Novichok class of nerve agents.

A search of the United States Patent Office records however, reveals that between 2002 and November 2017 81 patents were applied for using the name “Novichok”. A patent filed in April 2013 includes a description of a delivery method, including bullet like projectiles that can target a single person.

Secondly, the former United Kingdom Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told the Russian ambassador to the United Kingdom on 12 March 2018 that the nerve agent used on the Skripals was an A234. You are a number of problems with this claim quite apart from Mr Johnson’s general difficulty with the truth. The consulting surgeon at Salisbury Hospital, Dr Steven Davies had a letter to The Times newspaper published on 14 March 2018 in which he stated that “no patients have experienced symptoms of nerve agent poisoning in Salisbury.” In contradistinction to unsubstantiated claims that as many as 40 people had been affected, Dr Davies referred to only three patients receiving treatment in this context. This was presumably a reference to the two Skripals and a police officer.

A234 is a highly toxic substance, 8 to 10 times more powerful then VX (of a type developed by the UK) that had been used to kill a relative of North Korean leader Kim at the Kuala Lumpur airport. VX will kill within a few minutes, yet the A234 allegedly used on the Skripals failed to kill or even severely disable them or the third alleged victim, detective Sergeant Bailey.

A further and likely conclusive reason to reject A234 as the substance used, was that the report by the OPCW based on samples collected from Salisbury 17 to 18 days after the incident said that the substance in the samples was of “high purity”.

The scientific evidence, again readily ascertainable by a reasonably diligent journalist is that A234 and similar substances degrade rapidly. It is literally impossible for samples collected 17 to 18 days after the event to be of “high purity.” The purity also makes it impossible to identify the specific source of the manufacture, and furthermore guarantees that it originated in a properly equipped laboratory. That OPCW report effectively destroyed the last shreds of the UK government’s claims.

Given that Bailey and the Skripals have both made complete recoveries, it could not have been a “military grade” nerve agent that caused their plight. There is also the indisputable fact that whatever was used on the Skripals could not have come from Yulia’s suitcase, the air vents of their motor vehicle, or the front door knob of Mr Skripal’s house, or any of the other fantastical claims made at various times by the UK government for the simple reason that they were alive and well approximately six hours after leaving the house.

During that time the Skripals visited the cemetery, had a meal at Zizzi’s restaurant, and had an untroubled walk through the centre of Salisbury, captured by the CCTV camera. The fact that they both took ill, at the same time and in the same specific location, leads to the almost irresistible inference that they were attacked at or near the park bench where they were found in a distressed state.

For these various reasons, and a great deal of the others in the now considerable body of literature on this topic, we do not know with what they were attacked, nor by whom. At best we know approximately where and at approximately what time. A proper inquiry, as opposed to the wild and unjustified accusations and premature conclusions constantly reiterated in the mainstream media, would approach this question with an open mind. It has been abundantly clear that a proper enquiry is the furthest thing from the minds of the British government or their acolytes such as Australia.

A proper inquiry would also consider the relevance of motive. There has been no plausible suggestion, much less evidence, as to why the Russian government would wish to do the Skripals harm, and some solid reasons why the Russian government would be the least likely candidate to wish ill upon the Skripals.

This brings us back to Sergei Skripal, his history and the aforementioned D notices. One of those D notices inhibited publication of the details relating to Pablo Miller. That raises the obvious question, not pursued by the mainstream media unfettered by the D notice, as to why the British government would wish to protect Mr Miller’s identity and his links to Mr Skripal.

Miller and Skripal are friends, both living in Salisbury and known to socialize together. Their history goes rather deeper. Miller is a former MI6 officer and during the time that Skripal was a double agent in the employ of the Russian GRU Agency and selling Russian secrets to the British, Miller was his ‘handler.’

Miller worked in Moscow in conjunction with Christopher Steele, the assumed author of the infamous Trump dossier that collected together various allegations about Trump’s Russian activities, both business and personal.

That dossier was commissioned by the Democratic National Committee on behalf of Trump’s opponent in the 2016 presidential election, Hilary Clinton. The DNC commissioned Fusion GPS who in turn contracted with Orbis Business Intelligence. Christopher Steele was the principal of Orbis and Miller was one of his associates.

The American outlet Buzzfeed released the complete dossier on 10 January 2017 and on the same day the May government issued a D notice prohibiting the British press from revealing Steele to be the author. The Wall Street Journal however, published his name the following day.

According to the Czech magazine Respekt, Skripal had recent links to Czech intelligence and he travelled to both the Czech Republic and Estonia in 2016 and had met with intelligence officers from both countries.

This evidence strongly supports the inference that Skripal was still an active agent on behalf of the British who were known to be strongly opposed to the election of Donald Trump. Given Skripal’s knowledge of Russian intelligence, his links with the intelligence community in at least four countries, his close ties to both Miller and Steele going back to his GRU days, and at least according to one textual analysis of the dossier, it is entirely possible that Skripal was in fact one of the authors of the dossier.

These facts are now well established. At the very least it raises serious questions about who else might have a motive to give Mr Skripal a “message.” Whoever was responsible, the incident was certainly used by the UK government as part of a wider campaign to discredit the Russian government in general and President Putin in particular. In this endeavour, they have been willingly aided and abetted by the Australian government and mainstream media.

The failure of either to acknowledge the manifold flaws in the original allegations and to accept that the UK government’s version has been comprehensively discredited is an enduring disgrace.

At the very least the Russian government is owed an apology. That would go at least some way to acknowledging that the premature judgement and intemperate response has damaged Australia’s international image and its foreign relations

How the truth is murdered by the media

11.04.2018

This was sent to me by a friend today:

The Saker

 

Is this the BBC or an Israeli Hasbara Unit?

March 31, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

There’s not a lot left of the BBC’s ‘impartiality.’ In fact, this type of discussion is what one would expect from USSR state TV in the 1970s.

But we shouldn’t be surprised.

In 1948, when he was working at the BBC, George Orwell identified the British inclination toward authoritarianism. And in his masterpiece 1984,  Orwell had  Immanuel Goldstein lead the controlled opposition. This  was written  almost seven decades before Jewish Voice for Labour and Momentum were formed to define the boundaries of ‘freedom of speech on Israel’ and dissent in general…

If they want to burn it , you want to read it..

cover bit small.jpg

Being in Time – A Post Political Manifesto

Amazon.co.uk  ,  Amazon.com  and   here  (gilad.co.uk)

Did BBC team responsible for faked footage of Syrian chemical attack travel under terrorist protection?

Source

 By Catte | OffGuardian | January 6, 2018

Most of our readers are now more than familiar with the bizarre events surrounding the BBC Panorama program Saving Syria’s Children. We’ve already returned to this story several times. The possibility that this program presented faked footage of a non-existent chemical attack by government troops on a school in Syria has been meticulously documented by independent researcher Robert Stuart over several years.

But a further twist to the story seems to show that the crew who filmed this questionable footage were being escorted and protected during their sojourn in Syria, by members of a jihadist terrorist group affiliated to Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda and ISIS.

The evidence, on the face of it, seems damning.

Ten minutes, 18 seconds into the program (which can be seen here) the film crew record a car journey, with the two British doctors featured in the program, to “see what medical care is available for children closer to where the fighting is”. At one point the journalist Ian Pannell can be heard in voice over saying:

Western journalists have been targeted in Syria, so I have to travel with my own security. The doctors are able to be more low key and take their own vehicles.

As he speaks we see Pannell himself, presumably filmed by his cameraman Darren Conway, in a car, part of a convoy, accompanied by armed men. We also see the hood of one of the cars in the convoy several times and pretty clearly. It has a logo on it. This is it:

The inset on the right is the logo of Ahrar-al-Sham.

In case you’re wondering, this is the same Ahrar-al-Sham identified by a Human Rights Watch report in October 2013 as participants in the killing of women and children (see “You Can Still See Their Blood” – Executions, Indiscriminate Shootings, and Hostage Taking by Opposition Forces in Latakia Countryside.). The report details the slaughter of nearly 200 civilians “including 57 women and at least 18 children and 14 elderly men” by opposition forces including Ahrar al-Sham on August 4 2013.

It was just 19 days after this massacre – on August 23 – that Ian Pannell and cameraman Darren Conway (now an OBE) apparently decided Ahrar-al-Sham were the go-to ’security’ guys for them. The documentary further shows Pannell, Conway and their chums being waved through ISIS road blocks without a hitch. This is the same ISIS who – allegedly – had declared war on all westerners and were prone to cutting off their heads (though in 2013 this hadn’t become the media meme it later became). Our boys are apparently welcome deep in ISIS territory, with no worries about repercussions.

This is probably explained by the fact Ahrar-al-Sham, according to Stanford University’s Mapping Militant Program, “worked with the Islamic State (IS) until January 2014″.

But maybe the contact with terrorists was fleeting and almost accidental? Well, below are two images that tell a story. The top one is a screencap from Saving Syria’s Children. The man outlined in red is the “Fixer/Translator” for the program, Mughira Al-Sharif, and he is shown driving Pannell’s convoy car (Pannell himself can be seen second from right next to the window in the back). Mughira is seen again in the bottom image in a photograph taken the same day and shared on Instagram. Also with him in this pic, and looking remarkably chummy, are two members of the Ahrar-al-Sham security detail who can be seen in Pannell’s car. Mughira described these men in his Instagram post as ‘friends’. That post was subsequently deleted.

(Above) Fixer/Translator Mughira Al-Sharif driving Ian Pannell’s convoy saloon car in Saving Syria’s Children. Pannell is second from right. (Below) Al Sharif poses with two of the Ahrar al-Sham men in an Instagram post of the same day, describing them as “friends”. The post was subsequently deleted.

Let’s be clear – these “friends’ of Mughira’s could well have taken part in the recent slaughter discussed above, and must, at very least, be assumed to support the mass murder of innocent people. And this man Mughira is employed by Pannell as his guide and helper in making their documentary.

Why are a supposedly distinguished and professional BBC journalist and his crew working with allies of ISIS? Why are they using them as their ‘security’? Why are they comfortable tooling round Syria in a car festooned with jihadist logos? Why did they end up producing a documentary using highly questionable footage to promote UK intervention against the elected government of Syria?

Did neither they nor their employers at the BBC realise what they were doing?

Or did they know and think it was just dandy?

When is the BBC – and Ian Pannell and Darren Conway(OBE) – going to answer these and the many other questions hanging over this program and their credibility?

Robert Stuart: One Man’s Quest to Expose ‘Absolutely Historic’ @BBC Panorama ‘Fakery’

BBC Panorama ‘Fakery’ – Sputnik International

EXCLUSIVE: One Man’s Quest to Expose ‘Absolutely Historic’ BBC Panorama ‘Fakery’

For over four years, Robert Stuart has been forensically investigating the innumerable inconsistencies, contradictions, anomalies and apparent falsehoods in BBC Panorama documentary Saving Syria’s Children. Speaking exclusively to Sputnik, the former journalist shares his most troubling discoveries.

On the evening of August 29 2013, just as the UK parliament was quite literally voting on possible military intervention in Syria, BBC News at Ten broadcast a report by journalist Ian Pannell and cameraman Darren Conway from Syria, which claimed a Syrian fighter jet had dropped an incendiary bomb containing a “napalm-type” substance — possibly thermite — on the playground of an Aleppo school.

After its broadcast, some viewers took to the internet to express concerns about the veracity of the report’s footage. Among them was Robert Stuart, a former journalist working for a small community organization in Islington, London.

Walking Dead?                                                                         

One scene in particular struck him as “extremely odd.” In it, males young and old, their skin apparently in tatters, race into a “basic hospital funded by handouts” to be treated for chemical burns. At one particularly disturbing point, a number writhe, drool and groan, apparently in great distress.

However, the men are initially “quiet and static,” before the central figure looks directly into the camera for several moments and raises his arm, at which point “they start rolling around in agony and wailing. It looks farcical, ridiculous,” Robert told Sputnik.

A GMC-registered practicing doctor, who’d worked with burns victims firsthand, believed the scene to be “an act.”

“[They] were able to sit down, be touched by others, even talk. This is not how a severe burn victim would present. Most would be screaming the place down in agony even after treatment and all sorts of pain drugs, but they’re able to speak and breathe very well. Some are shown with skin hanging off but the flesh beneath actually looks like more skin. Also, if the poison was dropped from a plane, their hair would’ve been lost and patches would be evident — many still have full heads,” the doctor said.

This scene and other questionable aspects of the brief report prompted him to pen a letter to the BBC — as he was writing it, the BBC broadcast a Panorama documentary, Saving Syria’s Children, which expanded on the original report, and included further footage.

The documentary was said to have been intended to cover the work of two British doctors in Syria — but apparently completely by chance, while they were filming, the chemical attack occurred.

Ever since, Robert has repeatedly reviewed the program. As of December 2017, he’s identified contradictions, anomalies and areas of concern “almost too numerous to list.” At best, he believes the broadcast contains many scenes which are “largely, if not entirely, staged” — at worst, he suggests its content, and even the attack it allegedly covers, may be “fictionalized.”

​His correspondence with the UK’s state broadcaster about these issues has also continued — their response has been equal parts “stonewalling, evasion and misdirection.” Part of this effort, he alleges, includes the “diligent” blocking of every copy of Saving Syria’s Children on YouTube — as a result, one won’t find a “single scrap” of footage from the documentary on the platform. Anything uploaded is “taken down within hours,” which Robert claims isn’t the case with “any other” Panorama documentary.

Where, When, What, How?

One key source of confusion concerns the time of the attack. According to the BBC it took place August 26, 2013, although accounts of its timing “implausibly” span a range of six hours — Human Rights Watch states it occurred “around midday,” while the Violations Documentation Center places it at two in the afternoon.

Conversely, Pannell himself stated in BBC Complaints correspondence with Robert the strike occurred “at around 5.30pm,” while Conway places it between three and five. Alleged eyewitness Abu Yousef suggests it was closer to six, which is corroborated by a Turkish media article quoting a Syrian doctor who says it occurred at that time — although the chemical weapon was instead said to be a “phosphorus bomb.”

​Complicating the picture further, a team of Syrian investigators has researched the attack, contacting a former commander of the Al-Tawhid Brigade based in Aleppo province in August 2013. Despite having every reason to validate the claim, given it would offer useful propaganda against the Syrian government, they instead attested a “napalm bomb” attack did not happen that month, and none of the events depicted in the documentary actually occurred.

“We did not meet any air strike with the substance of napalm on Urum al Kubra or on any other region in the North West Aleppo countryside and the cheap fabrication of the BBC undermines the credibility of the Free Syrian Army. We’ve done a field investigation with the help of the delegate of the Free Syrian Red Crescent and [found] no victims, no traces and no memory with anybody of the alleged air strikes with the substance of Napalm,” the commander said.

The commander has agreed to provide a full statement to the BBC and offered to provide BBC journalists with safe transit from Antakya, Turkey to Urm Al-Kubra to interview witnesses and conduct their own investigation.

A July 2014 telephone conversation between two members of said Syrian investigative team documents the account of a local resident, who similarly affirms the alleged napalm bomb attack did not occur.

“He told me, ‘we didn’t hear about such a thing…we hear about rockets, there is a lot.’ When I told him it burns, he told me ‘we never had something like that, never, never. Nor did we ever hear about it.’ I asked him whether he was maybe out of the region at the specific time, and he said ‘even if I would have left the people keep on talking about this thing, I would have known about it’,” the investigator said.

Untroubled Journey

Almost every repeat viewing of Saving Syria’s Children raises further concerns and questions for Robert. A relatively recent discovery was reporter Pannell and cameraman Conway’s apparent embedment with jihadi group Ahrar al-Sham.

Approximately 10 minutes into the documentary, in a scene said to be shot the morning of August 25, Dr. Hallam sets off to “see what medical care is available for children closer to where the fighting is” — and Pannell follows.

“Western journalists have been targeted in Syria, so I have to travel with my own security. The doctors are able to be more low key and take their own vehicles,” he explains.

A number of vehicles are then shown setting off in convoy — among them a white pickup truck which, dashcam level footage reveals, bears the Ahrar al Sham emblem on its bonnet.

Ahrar al Sham has been accused of being involved in, or leading, numerous atrocities over the course of the Syrian crisis — a mere three weeks prior to Pannell’s trip, Human Rights Watch alleges the group were, alongside Daesh and al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, “key fundraisers, organizers, planners, and executors” of an attack in which at least 190 killed and over 200 — “the vast majority women and children” — were kidnapped.

As the program enters its eleventh minute, Pannell’s van approaches a checkpoint held by a separate rebel faction, an experience common across the country at the time. After a brief and seemingly superficial inspection, the convoy is allowed to pass through unmolested.

As Pannell himself narrates, the faction in question is “ISIS…the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.” At the time, the group was not subject to the extreme global notoriety it endures today — Robert suggests such a scene “simply wouldn’t be plausible now.”

“Conway is seemingly able to hop between vehicles with impunity at the checkpoint. As they reach it, Pannell instructs the cameraman — presumably Conway, the sole shooter credited on the documentary — to ‘put the camera down a bit’. Seconds later, in footage filmed from the rear of another vehicle, a Daesh guard inspects vehicles. How did they not end up in orange jumpsuits having their heads chopped off?” Robert told Sputnik.

​Daesh also crops up elsewhere in the documentary — an ambulance bearing the group’s distinctive flag calmly transports victims of the apparent attack to hospital — a “marked contrast” from the “ostensibly tense” checkpoint scene.

Trust Me, I’m a Doctor

A recurring character throughout Saving Syria’s Children is Dr. Rola Hallam, a British doctor representing the charity Hand in Hand for Syria. She immediately jumped out to Robert due to the manner of her introduction — taking time out during the apparent mass casualty scenario to conduct a calm and coherent to-camera interview.

​Dr. Hallam also appeared on the BBC prior to the Panorama broadcast — interviewed on Newsnight August 30 2013, the day parliament voted against military action, she expressed disappointment at the result, suggesting the world had “failed the Syrian nation.”

Subsequent digging into the doctor’s background offered yet further indications she and the organization she represents harbor strongly interventionist stances.

For instance, her father is Dr. Mousa al-Kurdi — who, according to a February 2013 article written Dr. Hallam’s colleague Dr. Saleyha Ahsan, is “involved politically” with the controversial Syrian National Council.

Dr. Hallam has denied that allegation — nonetheless, in a 2012 Al Jazeera interview, he passionately advocated for the Syrian National Council’s recognition as the “sole representative” of all Syrians. He also boasted of how at that year’s Friends of Syria summit in Istanbul — attended by Hillary Clinton — he told the foreign ministers of several governments, including Victoria Nuland of the US State Department, “either you defend us or you arm the Free Syrian Army to defend us — you have the choice.”

Facebook banner of Faddy Sahloul, cofounder of Hand in Hand for Syria.
Facebook banner of Faddy Sahloul, cofounder of Hand in Hand for Syria.

Robert’s exploration into Hand in Hand for Syria also raised many serious anxieties. The UK Charity Commission states the organization exists for “the advancement of health or saving lives” — yet, he found until July 2014, the Facebook banner of cofounder Faddy Sahloul read “WE WILL BRING ASSAD TO JUSTICE; NO MATTER WHAT LIVES IT TAKES, NO MATTER HOW MUCH CATASTROPHE IT MAKES.”Moreover, he uncovered a photo of a Hand in Hand for Syria nurse, who also appears in the documentary, tending to the injuries of a child soldier.

Unidentified Hand in Hand for Syria worker with child soldier.
Unidentified Hand in Hand for Syria worker with child soldier.

“In September 2015, I formally raised my concerns with the Charity Commission, which ruled the cofounder’s bloodthirsty Facebook banner was a ‘historical issue’ that had since been addressed by the charity’s trustees, and the image of the nurse treating a child fighter was not ‘sufficient’ evidence Hand in Hand for Syria was ‘celebrating or supporting violence’,” Robert told Sputnik.

Iessa Obied, a medical professional connected with Hand in Hand for Syria, poses with rocket launcher.
Iessa Obied, a medical professional connected with Hand in Hand for Syria, poses with rocket launcher.

His battles with the Charity Commission did not end there — in March 2016, he submitted a further complaint, after uncovering images of Iessa Obied, a medical professional connected with Hand in Hand for Syria, posing with a “shocking” array of armaments, including rocket launchers, sniper rifles, “hell cannon” mortars, tanks, and more.

Iessa Obied, a medical professional connected with Hand in Hand for Syria, poses with a rifle.
Iessa Obied, a medical professional connected with Hand in Hand for Syria, poses with a rifle.

However, for the Commission, the images “[did] not raise sufficient regulatory concern.”RIP BBC?

Despite official denials, Robert intends to continue his campaign until the truth has finally been revealed — his determination stems from a belief the alleged falsification was “absolutely historic, and unbelievably brazen.”

“It was clearly very carefully orchestrated and set up. I had few illusions about the corporate media and the BBC, the one remaining perhaps being they wouldn’t fake something outright. This is an absolutely historic case, and unique. Whatever criticisms you could level at state-owned media in Iran or North Korea, nobody has ever done this before,” he rails.

In March 2017, Robert’s efforts attracted the attention of leading TV and radio producer Victor Lewis-Smith. He raised troubling questions with the BBC about Saving Syria’s Children, threatening to literally tear up a contract for a forthcoming radio comedy pilot with the corporation unless top brass could offer satisfactory answers.

In response, the BBC alleged Ofcom had reviewed the program and confirmed the authenticity of the documentary. However, the organization’s ruling related to a news report by television channel RT, which featured Robert’s investigation.

The BBC complained to OfCom “the program presented information in an inaccurate and misleading way.” While Ofcom upheld the complaint, it acknowledged it did not “undertake an assessment of the accuracy and/or impartiality of the program” in reaching its decision. Robert states this was “in no way a clean bill of health” for the documentary.

“It was not possible or appropriate for Ofcom to attempt to prove or disprove the allegations made about the BBC in the program. Similarly, Ofcom had no statutory jurisdiction to assess the accuracy and impartiality of the BBC program. Rather, our concern in this case was solely whether [it] resulted in unfairness to the BBC,” the regulator wrote.

​Lewis-Smith didn’t accept their defense, again threatening to terminate his contract, and demanding Panorama release raw footage of the event in order to gauge its veracity.

The eventual statement issued by the BBC in response to these concerns did nothing to address his concerns, and his contract was shredded. ​He now intends to make a crowdfunded documentary investigating the program, with Robert’s assistance. Sputnik submitted requests for comment from the BBC, but as of December 30 2017 has received no response.

“If the extent to which the BBC manufactured this documentary was proven, it would be a watershed moment. There’d be no coming back from that. It would destroy their credibility globally. Pannell and Conway could go down in history as having destroyed the BBC,” Robert concludes.

The views and opinions expressed by Robert Stuart are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik. 

I must say I was amazed to see this on the BBC News: Exposed: Secret Raqqa ISIS Withdrawal Deal

Exposed: Secret Raqqa ISIS Fighters Withdrawal Deal
By BBC

A secret deal that let hundreds of IS fighters and their families escape from Raqqa under the gaze of the US and British-led coalition

Lorry driver Abu Fawzi thought it was going to be just another job.

He drives an 18-wheeler across some of the most dangerous territory in northern Syria. Bombed-out bridges, deep desert sand, even government forces and so-called Islamic State fighters don’t stand in the way of a delivery.

But this time, his load was to be human cargo. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters opposed to IS, wanted him to lead a convoy that would take hundreds of families displaced by fighting from the town of Tabqa on the Euphrates river to a camp further north.

The job would take six hours, maximum – or at least that’s what he was told.

But when he and his fellow drivers assembled their convoy early on 12 October, they realised they had been lied to.

Instead, it would take three days of hard driving, carrying a deadly cargo – hundreds of IS fighters, their families and tonnes of weapons and ammunition.

Abu Fawzi and dozens of other drivers were promised thousands of dollars for the task but it had to remain secret.

The deal to let IS fighters escape from Raqqa – de facto capital of their self-declared caliphate – had been arranged by local officials. It came after four months of fighting that left the city obliterated and almost devoid of people. It would spare lives and bring fighting to an end. The lives of the Arab, Kurdish and other fighters opposing IS would be spared.

But it also enabled many hundreds of IS fighters to escape from the city. At the time, neither the US and British-led coalition, nor the SDF, which it backs, wanted to admit their part.

Has the pact, which stood as Raqqa’s dirty secret, unleashed a threat to the outside world – one that has enabled militants to spread far and wide across Syria and beyond?

Great pains were taken to hide it from the world. But the BBC has spoken to dozens of people who were either on the convoy, or observed it, and to the men who negotiated the deal.

Out of the city

In a greasy yard in Tabqa, underneath a date palm, three boys are busy at work rebuilding a lorry engine. They are covered in motor oil. Their hair, black and oily, stands on end.

Near them is a group of drivers. Abu Fawzi is at the centre, conspicuous in his bright red jacket. It matches the colour of his beloved 18-wheeler. He’s clearly the leader, quick to offer tea and cigarettes. At first he says he doesn’t want to speak but soon changes his mind.

He and the rest of the drivers are angry. It’s weeks since they risked their lives for a journey that ruined engines and broke axles but still they haven’t been paid. It was a journey to hell and back, he says.

 

“We were scared from the moment we entered Raqqa,” he says. “We were supposed to go in with the SDF, but we went alone. As soon as we entered, we saw IS fighters with their weapons and suicide belts on. They booby-trapped our trucks. If something were to go wrong in the deal, they would bomb the entire convoy. Even their children and women had suicide belts on.”

The Kurdish-led SDF cleared Raqqa of media. Islamic State’s escape from its base would not be televised.

Publicly, the SDF said that only a few dozen fighters had been able to leave, all of them locals.

But one lorry driver tells us that isn’t true.

We took out around 4,000 people including women and children – our vehicle and their vehicles combined. When we entered Raqqa, we thought there were 200 people to collect. In my vehicle alone, I took 112 people.”

Another driver says the convoy was six to seven kilometres long. It included almost 50 trucks, 13 buses and more than 100 of the Islamic State group’s own vehicles. IS fighters, their faces covered, sat defiantly on top of some of the vehicles.

Footage secretly filmed and passed to us shows lorries towing trailers crammed with armed men. Despite an agreement to take only personal weapons, IS fighters took everything they could carry. Ten trucks were loaded with weapons and ammunition.

The drivers point to a white truck being worked on in the corner of the yard. “Its axle was broken because of the weight of the ammo,” says Abu Fawzi.

This wasn’t so much an evacuation – it was the exodus of so-called Islamic State.

The SDF didn’t want the retreat from Raqqa to look like an escape to victory. No flags or banners would be allowed to be flown from the convoy as it left the city, the deal stipulated.

It was also understood that no foreigners would be allowed to leave Raqqa alive.

Back in May, US Defence Secretary James Mattis described the fight against IS as a war of “annihilation”.“Our intention is that the foreign fighters do not survive the fight to return home to north Africa, to Europe, to America, to Asia, to Africa. We are not going to allow them to do so,” he said on US television.

But foreign fighters – those not from Syria and Iraq – were also able to join the convoy, according to the drivers. One explains:

There was a huge number of foreigners. France, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Yemen, Saudi, China, Tunisia, Egypt…”

Other drivers chipped in with the names of different nationalities.

In light of the BBC investigation, the coalition now admits the part it played in the deal. Some 250 IS fighters were allowed to leave Raqqa, with 3,500 of their family members.

“We didn’t want anyone to leave,” says Col Ryan Dillon, spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, the Western coalition against IS.

“But this goes to the heart of our strategy, ‘by, with and through’ local leaders on the ground. It comes down to Syrians – they are the ones fighting and dying, they get to make the decisions regarding operations,” he says.

While a Western officer was present for the negotiations, they didn’t take an “active part” in the discussions. Col Dillon maintains, though, that only four foreign fighters left and they are now in SDF custody.

As it left the city, the convoy would pass through the well-irrigated cotton and wheat fields north of Raqqa. Small villages gave way to desert. The convoy left the main road and took to tracks across the desert. The trucks found it hard going, but it was much harder for the men behind the wheel.

A friend of Abu Fawzi’s rolls up the sleeve of his tunic. Underneath, there are burns on his skin. “Look what they did here,” he says.

According to Abu Fawzi, there were three or four foreigners with each driver. They would beat him and call him names, such as “infidel”, or “pig”.

They might have been helping the fighters escape, but the Arab drivers were abused the entire route, they say. And threatened.

“They said, ‘Let us know when you rebuild Raqqa – we will come back,’” says Abu Fawzi. “They were defiant and didn’t care. They accused us of kicking them out of Raqqa.”

A female foreign fighter threatened him with her AK-47.

Into the desert

Shopkeeper Mahmoud doesn’t get intimidated by much.

It was about four in the afternoon when an SDF convoy drove through his town, Shanine, and everyone was told to go indoors.

“We were here and an SDF vehicle stopped by to say there was a truce agreement between them and IS,” he says. “They wanted us to clear the area.”

He is no fan of IS, but he couldn’t miss a business opportunity – even if some of the 4,000 surprise customers driving through his village were armed to the teeth.

A small bridge in the village created a bottleneck so the IS fighters got out and went shopping. After months of fighting and taking cover in bunkers, they were pale and hungry. They filed into his shop and, he says, they cleared his shelves.

“A one-eyed Tunisian fighter told me to fear God,” he says. “In a very calm voice, he asked why I had shaved. He said they would come back and enforce Sharia once again. I told him we have no problem with Sharia laws. We’re all Muslims.”

Instant noodles, biscuits and snacks – they bought everything they could get their hands on.

They left their weapons outside the shop. The only trouble he had was when three of the fighters spied some cigarettes – contraband in their eyes – and tore up the boxes.

“They didn’t appropriate anything, nothing at all,” he says.

“Only three of them went rogue. Other IS fighters even chastised them.”

He says IS paid for what they took.

“They hoovered up the shop. I got overwhelmed by their numbers. Many asked me for prices, but I couldn’t answer them because I was busy serving other people. So they left money for me on my desk without me asking.”

Despite the abuse they suffered, the lorry drivers agreed – when it came to money, IS settled its bills.

IS may have been homicidal psychopaths, but they’re always correct with the money.”

Says Abu Fawzi with a smile.

North of the village, it’s a different landscape. A lonely tractor ploughs a field, sending a plume of dust and sand into the air that can be seen for miles. There are fewer villages, and it’s here that the convoy sought to disappear.

In Muhanad’s tiny village, people fled as the convoy approached, fearing for their homes – and their lives.

But suddenly, the vehicles turned right, leaving the main road for a desert track.

“Two Humvees were leading the convoy ahead,” says Muhanad. “They were organising it and wouldn’t let anyone pass them.”

As the convoy disappeared into the haze of the desert, Muhanad felt no immediate relief. Almost everyone we spoke to says IS threatened to return, its fighters running a finger across their throats as they passed by.

“We’ve been living in terror for the past four or five years,” says Muhanad.

It will take us a while to rid ourselves of that psychological fear. We feel that they may be coming back for us, or will send sleeper agents. We’re still not sure that they’ve gone for good.”

Along the route, many people we spoke to said they heard coalition aircraft, sometimes drones, following the convoy.

From the cab of his truck, Abu Fawzi watched as a coalition warplane flew overhead, dropping illumination flares, which lit up the convoy and the road ahead.

When the last of the convoy were about to cross, a US jet flew very low and deployed flares to light up the area. IS fighters shat their pants.”

The coalition now confirms that while it did not have its personnel on the ground, it monitored the convoy from the air.

Past the last SDF checkpoint, inside IS territory – a village between Markada and Al-Souwar – Abu Fawzi reached his destination. His lorry was full of ammunition and IS fighters wanted it hidden.

When he finally made it back to safety, he was asked by the SDF where he’d dumped the goods.

“We showed them the location on the map and he marked it so uncle Trump can bomb it later,” he says.

Raqqa’s freedom was bought with blood, sacrifice and compromise. The deal freed its trapped civilians and ended the fight for the city. No SDF forces would have to die storming the last IS hideout.

But IS didn’t stay put for long. Freed from Raqqa, where they were surrounded, some of the group’s most-wanted members have now spread far and wide across Syria and beyond.

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The Smugglers

The men who cut fences, climb walls and run through the tunnels out of Syria are reporting a big increase in people fleeing. The collapse of the caliphate is good for business.

“In the past couple of weeks, we’ve had lots of families leaving Raqqa and wanting to leave for Turkey. This week alone, I personally oversaw the smuggling of 20 families,” says Imad, a smuggler on the Turkish-Syrian border.

“Most were foreign but there were Syrians as well.”

He now charges $600 (£460) per person and a minimum of $1,500 for a family.

In this business, clients don’t take kindly to inquiries. But Imad says he’s had “French, Europeans, Chechens, Uzbek”.

“Some were talking in French, others in English, others in some foreign language,” he says.

Walid, another smuggler on a different stretch of the Turkish border, tells the same story.

“We had an influx of families over the past few weeks,” he says. “There were some large families crossing. Our job is to smuggle them through. We’ve had a lot of foreign families using our services.”

As Turkey has increased border security, the work has become more difficult.

In some areas we’re using ladders, in others we cross through a river, in other areas we’re using a steep mountainous trail. It’s a miserable situation.”

However, Walid says it’s a different situation for senior IS figures.

“Those highly placed foreigners have their own networks of smugglers. It’s usually the same people who organised their access to Syria. They co-ordinate with one another.”

Smuggling didn’t work out for everyone. Abu Musab Huthaifa was one of Raqqa’s most notorious figures. The IS intelligence chief was on the convoy out of the city on 12 October.

But now he is behind bars, and his story reflects the final days of the crumbling caliphate.

Islamic State never negotiates. Uncompromising, murderous – this is an enemy that plays by a different set of rules.

At least that’s how the myth goes.

But in Raqqa, it behaved no differently from any other losing side. Cornered, exhausted and fearful for their families, IS fighters were bombed to the negotiating table on 10 October.

“Air strikes put pressure on us for almost 10 hours. They killed about 500 or 600 people, fighters and families,” says Abu Musab Huthaifa.

Footage of the coalition air strike that hit one neighbourhood of Raqqa on 11 October shows a human catastrophe behind enemy lines. Amid the screams of the women and children, there is chaos among the IS fighters. The bombs appear especially powerful, especially effective. Activists claim that a building housing 35 women and children was destroyed. It was enough to break their resistance.

“After 10 hours, negotiations kicked off again. Those who initially rejected the truce changed their minds. And thus we left Raqqa,” says Abu Musab.

There had been three previous attempts to negotiate a peace deal. A team of four, including local Raqqa officials, now led the talks. One brave soul would cross the front lines on his motorbike relaying messages.

“We were only to leave with our personal weapons and leave all heavy weapons behind. But we didn’t have heavy weapons anyway,” Abu Musab says.

Now in jail on the Turkish-Syrian border, he has revealed details of what happened to the convoy when it made it safely to IS territory.

He says the convoy went to the countryside of eastern Syria, not far from the border with Iraq.

Thousands escaped, he says.

Abu Musab’s own attempted escape serves as a warning to the West of the threat from those freed from Raqqa.

How could one of the most notorious of IS chiefs escape through enemy territory and almost evade capture?

“I remained with a group which had set its mind on making its way to Turkey,” Abu Musab says.

Islamic State members were wanted by everyone else outside the group’s shrinking area of control; that meant this small gathering had to pass through swathes of hostile territory.

“We hired a smuggler to navigate us out of SDF-controlled areas,” Abu Musab says.

At first it went well. But smugglers are an unreliable lot. “He abandoned us midway. We were left to fend for ourselves in the midst of SDF areas. From then on, we disbanded and it was every man for himself,” says Abu Musab.

He might have made it to safety if only he’d paid the right person or maybe taken a different route.

The other path is to Idlib, to the west of Raqqa. Countless IS fighters and their families have found a haven there. Foreigners, too, also make it out – including Britons, other Europeans and Central Asians. The costs range from $4,000 (£3,000) per fighter to $20,000 for a large family.

French fighter

Abu Basir al-Faransy, a young Frenchman, left before the going got really tough in Raqqa. He’s now in Idlib, where he says he wants to stay.

The fighting in Raqqa was intense, even back then, he says.

“We were front-line fighters, waging war almost constantly [against the Kurds], living a hard life. We didn’t know Raqqa was about to be besieged.”

Disillusioned, weary of the constant fighting and fearing for his life, Abu Basir decided to leave for the safety of Idlib. He now lives in the city.

He was part of an almost exclusively French group within IS, and before he left some of his fellow fighters were given a new mission.

There are some French brothers from our group who left for France to carry out attacks in what would be called a ‘day of reckoning.’”

Much is hidden beneath the rubble of Raqqa and the lies around this deal might easily have stayed buried there too.

The numbers leaving were much higher than local tribal elders admitted. At first the coalition refused to admit the extent of the deal.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, somewhat improbably, continue to maintain that no deal was done.

And this may not even have been about freeing civilian hostages. As far as the coalition is concerned, there was no transfer of hostages from IS to coalition or SDF hands.

And despite coalition denials, dozens of foreign fighters, according to eyewitnesses, joined the exodus.

The deal to free IS was about maintaining good relations between the Kurds leading the fight and the Arab communities who surround them.

It was also about minimising casualties. IS was well dug in at the city’s hospital and stadium. Any effort to dislodge it head-on would have been bloody and prolonged.

The war against IS has a twin purpose: first to destroy the so-called caliphate by retaking territory and second, to prevent terror attacks in the world beyond Syria and Iraq.

Raqqa was effectively IS’s capital but it was also a cage – fighters were trapped there.

The deal to save Raqqa may have been worth it.

But it has also meant battle-hardened militants have spread across Syria and further afield – and many of them aren’t done fighting yet.

All names of the people featured in the report have been changed.

This article was originally published by The BBC

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