Leaked files show how UK govt spent millions exploiting Syrian women in cynical PR offensive


18 Dec, 2020 15:17 

Leaked files show how UK govt spent millions exploiting Syrian women in cynical PR offensive
FILE PHOTO: Women stand as they wait their turn to cast the votes inside a polling station during the parliamentary elections in Douma, in the eastern suburbs of Damascus, Syria July 19, 2020 ©  REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki

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

A swath of leaked documents reveals the lengths to which the British government went to paint the Syrian opposition in a flattering light. They also confirm that women unknowingly formed part of this effort.

The leaked UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) documents reveal a variety of covert ways in which London sought to not only propagandize women in Syria, but to exploit them as weapons in a vast information warfare campaign waged at home and abroad.

The papers are among bombshell files released by hacktivist collective Anonymous, which expose a number of cloak-and-dagger actions undertaken by Whitehall against Damascus. Women figured prominently in a number of the plans, which cost the FCO millions of pounds over many years.

‘Outreach initiatives’

The propaganda value of women in conflicts has long-been well understood and cynically exploited by governments.

A leaked US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) memorandum from March 2010 on covert means of increasing flagging support for NATO’s Afghanistan mission noted women in the country “could serve as ideal messengers” in “humanizing” the military occupation, due to their “ability to speak personally and credibly about their experiences under the Taliban, their aspirations for the future, and their fears of a Taliban victory.”

“Outreach initiatives that create media opportunities for Afghan women…could help to overcome pervasive skepticism among women in Western Europe toward the mission,” the document noted. “Media events that feature testimonials by Afghan women would probably be most effective if broadcast on programs that have large and disproportionately female audiences.”

Over a decade later, Afghanistan remains one of the worst countries in the world to be a woman, by some margin.

Roughly a year after that CIA memo was authored, A Gay Girl in Damascus, a blog purportedly written by Syrian-American lesbian Amina Arraf, garnered significant mainstream attention. Widely hailed for her “fearless” and “inspiring” eyewitness reporting, the author was lauded as a symbol of the “progressive” revolution erupting in the country.

In June  2011, Amina’s cousin announced on the blog she (Amina) had been kidnapped by three armed men in the Syrian capital. In response, numerous Facebook pages were set up calling for Amina’s release and ‘liked’ by tens of thousands, #FreeAmina trended widely on Twitter, journalists and rights groups begged Western governments to demand her release, and the US State Department announced it was investigating her disappearance.

Six days later, it was revealed ‘Amina’ was in fact Tom MacMaster, a US citizen residing in Scotland. While corporate news outlets hurriedly rushed to forget all about the hoax they’d so comprehensively fallen for, their appetite for dubious ‘human interest’ stories emanating from the crisis evidently wasn’t diminished.

‘Huge global coverage’

In July 2019, an image of two young Syrian girls trapped in rubble in opposition-occupied Idlib attempting to haul their sister to safety as she dangled off the precipice of a dilapidated building, their father looking on in horror above, spread far and wide on social media.

The photo, snapped by a photographer for Syrian news service SY24, went viral the world over. Unbeknownst to the overwhelming majority of observers, though, SY24 was created and funded by The Global Strategy Network (TGSN), founded by Richard Barrett, a former MI6 counter-terrorism director.

In a file submitted to the FCO, TGSN boasted of how “campaigns” it broadcast via SY24 generated “huge global coverage,” having been seen by “many hundreds of millions of people,” and “attracting comment as far as the UN Security Council.”

SY24 content was produced by a network of ‘stringers’ in Syria that TGSN trained and provided with equipment, including “cameras and video editing software.” The firm drew particular attention to a team of female journalists it had tutored, “who provide about 40 percent of all SY content,” and were part of “a broad ‘network of networks’” enabling TGSN “to drive stories into the mainstream.”

TGSN also established a dedicated centre for training female journalists to produce content for SY24 in Idlib, “accessing stories that male journalists cannot,” which were then shared on social media. It boasted that almost half of SY24’s followers were women, “a remarkably high ratio for Syria-focused platforms.

‘Communications surges’

Carefully cultivating an entirely misleading image of an inclusive, credible ‘moderate’ Syrian opposition was of paramount importance to the FCO – it helped whitewash the barbarous nature of the various ‘rebel’ factions London was backing in the region, while simultaneously engendering support among Western publics for regime change.

In order to engage the “international community” to this end, TGSN, in conjunction with ARK – a shadowy “conflict transformation and stabilization consultancy” headed by veteran FCO operative Alistair Harris – planned“communication surges” around “key dates” such as International Women’s Day.

In a particularly elaborate example of such a “surge,” the pair collaborated on a campaign, ‘Back to School,’ in which young Syrians returned to education while Idlib City Council, opposition commanders, and other elements on the ground concurrently engaged in a “unified” communications blitz, using “shared slogans, hashtags and branding.”

Rebel fighters were sent to “clear roads” and “enable children and teachers to get to schools,” all the while filmed by the pair’s voluminous local journalist network, footage of which was then “disseminated online and on broadcast channels.” Ensuring “female teachers” received sizable coverage in the Western media was a key objective of the campaign.

In many of the leaked files, ARK boasts of the huge network of journalists it trained and funded in Syria, who would cover such PR stunts; their reports in turn fed to the firm’s “well-established contacts” at major news outlets including Al Jazeera, BBC, CNN, The Guardian, New York Times, and Reuters, “further amplifying their effect.”

‘Thrust by tragedy’

However, other documents make clear ARK well-understood the immense difficulties inherent in promoting the role of women internally and externally during the crisis.

One file on “[incorporating] the role of women in the moderate opposition” notes Syrian women in rebel-occupied areas faced “an almost overwhelming variety of problems,” and “the space for women to participate in public life has contracted significantly as the conflict has progressed.”

As a result, ARK said it was “extremely aware of the risks of promoting women’s participation beyond currently accepted social norms…given the potential to hinder message resonance or result in a backlash against female participation.” It therefore proposed to “subtly reframe the narrative of women…increasing the amount of coverage of their initiatives and opinions as the context allows.”

One such means of “subtle reframing” was Moubader (which translates to “a person who takes initiative”), a media asset comprising a “high-quality hard copy monthly magazine with widespread distribution across opposition-held areas of Syria,” with a website and Facebook page boasting over 200,000 likes as of December 2020.

Moubader was established by ARK in 2015 specifically to achieve “behavioural change” in readers, at Whitehall’s request. “Given the importance of broadcast television as a trusted source” in Syria, ARK also sought FCO funding to develop a Moubader TV programme to “leverage stories and values to maximum effect and reach an even wider audience.”

Documents submitted to the FCO by another psyops contractor, Albany, similarly noted women’s access to education, healthcare, and economic opportunity had “been debilitated” during the crisis, with issues such as early marriage, child military recruitment, and “transactional sex” exacerbated. The UN defines the latter as “non-commercial sexual relationships motivated by an implicit assumption that sex will be exchanged for material support or other benefits.”

Still, Albany considered so many Syrian women having been “thrust by tragedy into head of household and breadwinner positions” over the course of the crisis as a golden opportunity to propagandize them and, in turn, their families, while promoting the ‘inclusive’ nature of the opposition, by creating and partnering with female civil society organizations and journalists.

ARK likewise believed women to be a “critical audience” given the number of Syrian households headed by women –“up to 70 percent”– so sought to ensure they were well-represented in all its domestic and international “broadcast products,” as well as on social media.

‘Jihadis You Pay For’

Unsurprisingly, the files make no acknowledgement of the fact this increasingly hostile environment for women in Syria directly resulted from foreign efforts to destabilise and depose its government.

Islamic State, (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and al-Nusra are rightly notorious for their monstrous treatment of women in the areas which they occupied, which included widespread rape, sexual violence and abduction.

However, many armed opposition groups, backed by foreign powers, whether openly Salafist or not, imposed stringent restrictions on women in the areas they occupied, requiring them to wear hijabs and abayas, doling out extreme punishments for failing to comply, imposing discriminatory measures prohibiting them from moving freely, working, attending school, and more.

There are indications FCO contractors were in close quarters with such activities. For instance, in December 2017 BBC Panorama documentary Jihadis You Pay For alleged FCO cash distributed on its behalf by Adam Smith International (ASI) in Syria ended up in the pockets of Free Syrian Police (FSP) officers who’d stood by passively while women were stoned to death.

The program focused on the Access to Justice and Community Security (AJACS) program, under which ASI funded and trained FSP, an unarmed civilian force set up to reestablish law and order in opposition-controlled areas.

In a perverse irony, leaked ASI files relating to the project indicate it, too, sought to exploit women for propaganda purposes, applying a gender policy to AJACS “which [aimed] to encourage female participation in justice and policing,” and boasting of how, of the 1,868 police officers it trained under the scheme, six – 0.32 percent ­­– were female.

Quite some revolution. As Human Rights Watch notes, prior to 2011, women and girls across the country were “largely able to participate in public life, including work and school, and exercise freedom of movement, religion, and conscience.” While the Syrian penal code and laws governing issues such as marriage, divorce, and inheritance, contains provisions discriminatory to women, the country’s constitution guarantees gender equality.

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Leaked Docs Expose Massive Syria Propaganda Operation Waged by Western Govt Contractors and Media


Leaked Docs Expose Massive Syria Propaganda Operation Waged by Western Govt  Contractors and Media — Strategic Culture

September 26, 2020

Western government-funded intelligence cutouts trained Syrian opposition leaders, planted stories in media outlets from BBC to Al Jazeera, and ran a cadre of journalists. A trove of leaked documents exposes the propaganda network.


Leaked documents show how UK government contractors developed an advanced infrastructure of propaganda to stimulate support in the West for Syria’s political and armed opposition.

Virtually every aspect of the Syrian opposition was cultivated and marketed by Western government-backed public relations firms, from their political narratives to their branding, from what they said to where they said it.

The leaked files reveal how Western intelligence cutouts played the media like a fiddle, carefully crafting English- and Arabic-language media coverage of the war on Syria to churn out a constant stream of pro-opposition coverage.

US and European contractors trained and advised Syrian opposition leaders at all levels, from young media activists to the heads of the parallel government-in-exile. These firms also organized interviews for Syrian opposition leaders on mainstream outlets such as BBC and the UK’s Channel 4.

More than half of the stringers used by Al Jazeera in Syria were trained in a joint US-UK government program called Basma, which produced hundreds of Syrian opposition media activists.

Western government PR firms not only influenced the way the media covered Syria, but as the leaked documents reveal, they produced their own propagandistic pseudo-news for broadcast on major TV networks in the Middle East, including BBC Arabic, Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, and Orient TV.

These UK-funded firms functioned as full-time PR flacks for the extremist-dominated Syrian armed opposition. One contractor, called InCoStrat, said it was in constant contact with a network of more than 1,600 international journalists and “influencers,” and used them to push pro-opposition talking points.

Another Western government contractor, ARK, crafted a strategy to “re-brand” Syria’s Salafi-jihadist armed opposition by “softening its image.” ARK boasted that it provided opposition propaganda that “aired almost every day on” major Arabic-language TV networks.

Virtually every major Western corporate media outlet was influenced by the UK government-funded disinformation campaign exposed in the trove of leaked documents, from the New York Times to the Washington Post, CNN to The Guardian, the BBC to Buzzfeed.

The files confirm reporting by journalists including The Grayzone’s Max Blumenthal on the role of ARK, the US-UK government contractor, in popularizing the White Helmets in Western media. ARK ran the social media accounts of the White Helmets, and helped turn the Western-funded group into a key propaganda weapon of the Syrian opposition.

The leaked documents consist mainly of material produced under the auspices of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. All of the firms named in the files were contracted by the British government, but many also were running “multi-donor projects” that received funding from the governments of the United States and other Western European countries.

In addition to demonstrating the role these Western intelligence cutouts played in shaping media coverage, the documents shine light on the British government program to train and arm rebel groups in Syria.

Other materials show how London and Western governments worked together to build a new police force in opposition-controlled areas.

Many of these Western-backed opposition groups in Syria were extremist Salafi-jihadists. Some of the UK government contractors whose activities are exposed in these leaked documents were in effect supporting Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra and its fanatical offshoots.

The documents were obtained by a group calling itself Anonymous, and were published under a series of files entitled, “Op. HMG [Her Majesty’s Government] Trojan Horse: From Integrity Initiative To Covert Ops Around The Globe. Part 1: Taming Syria.” The unidentified leakers said they aim to “expose criminal activity of the UK’s FCO and secret services,” stating, “We declare war on the British neocolonialism!”

The Grayzone was not able to independently verify the authenticity of the documents. However, the contents tracked closely with reporting on Western destabilization and propaganda operations in Syria by this outlet and many others.

UK Foreign Office and military wage media war on Syria

A leaked UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office report from 2014 reveals a joint operation with the Ministry of Defence and the Department for International Development to support “strategic communications, research, monitoring and evaluation and operational support to Syrian opposition entities.”

The UK FOC stated clearly that this campaign consisted of “creating network linkages between political movements and media outlets,” by the “building of local independent media platforms.”

The British government planned “Mentoring, training and coaching for enhanced delivery of media services, including digital and social media.”

Its goal was “to provide PR and media handling trainers, as well as technical staff, such as cameramen, webmasters and interpreters,” along with the “production of speeches, press releases and other media communications.”

An additional 2017 government document explains clearly how Britain funded the “selection, training, support and communications mentoring of Syrian activists who share the UK’s vision for a future Syria… and who will abide by a set of values that are consistent with UK policy.”

This initiative entailed British government funding “to support Syrian grassroots media activism within both the civilian and armed opposition spheres,” and was targeted at Syrians living in both “extremist and moderate” opposition-held territory.

In other words, the UK Foreign Office and military crafted plans to wage a comprehensive media war on Syria. To establish an infrastructure capable of managing the propaganda blitz, Britain paid a series of government contractors, including ARK, The Global Strategy Network (TGSN), Innovative Communication & Strategies (InCoStrat), and Albany.

The work of these firms overlapped, and some collaborated in their projects to cultivate the Syrian opposition.

Western government contractor ARK plays the media like the fiddle

One of the main British government contractors behind the Syria regime-change scheme was called ARK (Analysis Research Knowledge).

ARK FZC is based in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. It brands itself as a humanitarian NGO, claiming it “was created in order to assist the most vulnerable,” by establishing a “social enterprise,  empowering local communities through the provision of agile and sustainable interventions to create greater stability, opportunity and hope for the future.”

In reality ARK is an intelligence cutout that functions as an arm of Western interventionism.

In a leaked document it filed with the British government, ARK said its “focus since 2012 has been delivering highly effective, politically-and conflict-sensitive Syria programming for the governments of the United Kingdom, United States, Denmark, Canada, Japan and the European Union.”

ARK boasted of overseeing $66 million worth of contracts to support pro-opposition efforts in Syria.

On its website, ARK lists all of these governments as clients, as well as the United Nations.

ARK contractor Syria UK US Australia Canada

In its Syria operations, ARK worked together with another UK contractor called The Global Strategy Network (TGSN), which is directed by Richard Barrett, a former director of global counter-terrorism at MI6.

ARK apparently had operatives on the ground inside Syria at the beginning of the regime-change attempt in 2011, reporting to the UK FCO that “ARK staff are in regular contact with activists and civil society actors whom they initially met during the outbreak of protests in spring 2011.”

The UK contractor boasted an “extensive network of civil society and community actors that ARK has helped through a dedicated capacity building centre ARK established in Gaziantep,” a city in southern Turkey that has been a base of intelligence operations against the Syrian government.

ARK played a central role in developing the foundations of the Syrian political opposition’s narrative. In one leaked document, the firm took credit for the “development of a core Syrian opposition narrative,” which was apparently crafted during a series of workshops with opposition leaders sponsored by the US and UK governments.

ARK trained all levels of the Syrian opposition in communications, from “citizen journalism workshops with Syrian media activists, to working with senior members of the National Coalition to develop a core communications narrative.”

The firm even oversaw the PR strategy for the Supreme Military Council (SMC), the leadership of the official armed wing of Syria’s opposition, the Free Syrian Army (FSA). ARK created a complex PR campaign to “provide a ‘re-branding’ of the SMC in order to distinguish itself from extremist armed opposition groups and to establish the image of a functioning, inclusive, disciplined and professional military body.”

ARK admitted that it sought to whitewash Syria’s armed opposition, which had been largely dominated by Salafi-jihadists, by “Softening the FSA Image.”

ARK contractor Syria soften FSA image

ARK took the lead in developing a massive network of opposition media activists in Syria, and openly took credit for inspiring protests inside the country.

In its training centers in Syria and southern Turkey, the Western government contractor reported, “More than 150 activists have been trained and equipped by ARK on topics from the basics of camera handling, lighting, and sound to producing reports, journalistic safety, online security, and ethical reporting.”

The firm flooded Syria with opposition propaganda. In just six months, ARK reported that 668,600 of its print products were distributed inside Syria, including “posters, flyers, informative booklets, activity books and other campaign-related materials.”

In one document spelling out the UK contractors’ communications operations in Syria, ARK and the British intelligence cutout TGSN boasted of overseeing the following media assets inside the country: 97 video stringers, 23 writers, 49 distributors, 23 photographers, 19 in-country trainers, eight training centers, three media offices, and 32 research officers.

ARK emphasized that it had “well-established contacts” with some of the top media outlets in the world, naming Reuters, the New York Times, CNN, the BBC, The Guardian, the Financial Times, The Times, Al Jazeera, Sky News Arabic, Orient TV, and Al Arabiya.

The UK contractor added, “ARK has provided regular branded and unbranded content to key pan-Arab and Syria-focused satellite TV channels such as Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, BBC Arabic, Orient TV, Aleppo Today, Souria al-Ghadd, and Souria al-Sha’ab since 2012.”

“ARK products promoting HMG (Her Majesty’s Government) priorities by fostering attitudinal and behavioural change are broadcast almost every day on pan-Arab channels,” the firm bragged. “In 2014, 20 branded and un-branded Syria reports were produced on average by ARK each month and broadcast on major pan-Arab television channels such as Al Arabiya, Al Jazeera, and Orient TV.”

“ARK has almost daily conversations with channels and weekly meetings to engage and understand editorial preferences,” the Western intelligence cutout said.

The firm also took credit for placing 10 articles per month in pan-Arab newspapers such as Al Hayat and Asharq Al-Awsat.

US-UK program Basma cultivates Syrian media activists

The Syrian opposition media war was organized within the framework of a project called Basma. ARK worked with other Western government contractors through Basma in order to train Syrian opposition activists.

With funding from both the US and UK governments, Basma developed into an enormously influential platform. Its Arabic Facebook page had over 500,000 followers, and on YouTube it built up a large following as well.

Mainstream corporate media outlets misleadingly portrayed Basma as a “Syrian citizen journalism platform,” or a “civil society group working for a ‘liberatory, progressive transition to a new Syria.’” In reality it was a Western government astroturfing operation to cultivate opposition propagandists.

Nine of the 16 stringers used by Al Jazeera in Syria were trained through the US/UK government’s Basma initiative, ARK boasted in a leaked document.

In an earlier report for the UK FCO, filed just three years into its work, ARK claimed to have “trained over 1,400 beneficiaries representing over 210 beneficiary organisations in more than 130 workshops, and disbursed more than 53,000 individual pieces of equipment,” in a vast network that reached “into all of Syria’s 14 governorates,” which included both opposition- and government-held areas.

ARK UK contractor Syria media map

The Western contractor published a map highlighting its network of stringers and media activists and their relationships with the White Helmets as well as newly created police forces across opposition-controlled Syria.

ARK UK contractor Syria opposition media map

In its trainings, ARK developed opposition spokespeople, taught them how to speak with the press, and then helped arrange interviews with mainstream Arabic- and English-language media outlets.

ARK described its strategy “to identify credible, moderate civilian governance spokespeople who will be promoted as go-to interlocutors for regional and international media. They will echo key messages linked to the coordinated local campaigns across all media, with consortium platforms able to cover this messaging as well and encourage other outlets to pick it up.”

In addition to working with the international press and cultivating opposition leaders, ARK helped develop a massive opposition media super-structure.

ARK said it was a “key implementer of a multi-donor effort to develop a network of FM radio stations and community magazines inside Syria since 2012.” The contractor worked with 14 FM stations and 11 magazines inside Syria, including both Arabic- and Kurdish-language radio.

To propagate opposition broadcasts across Syria, ARK designed what it called “Radio in a Box” (RIAB) kits in 2012. The firm took credit for providing equipment to 48 transmission sites.

ARK also circulated up to 30,000 magazines per month. It reported that “ARK-supported magazines were the three most popular in Aleppo City; the most popular magazine in Homs City; and the most popular magazine in Qamishli.”

A Syrian opposition propaganda outlet directly run by ARK, called Moubader, developed a huge following on social media, including more than 200,000 likes on Facebook. ARK printed 15,000 copies per month of a “high-quality hard copy” Moubader magazine and distributed it “across opposition-held areas of Syria.”

The British contractor TGSN, which worked alongside ARK, developed its own outlet called the “Revolutionary Forces of Syria Media Office (RFS),” a leaked document shows. This confirms a 2016 report in The Grayzone by contributor Rania Khalek, who obtained emails showing how the UK government-backed RFS media office offered to pay one journalist a staggering $17,000 per month to produce propaganda for Syrian rebels.

Another leaked record shows that in just one year, in 2018 – which was apparently the final year of ARK’s Syria program – the firm billed the UK government for a staggering 2.3 million British pounds.

This enormous ARK propaganda operation was directed by Firas Budeiri, who had previously served as the Syria director for the UK-based international NGO Save the Children.

40 percent of ARK’s Syria project team were Syrian citizens, and another 25 percent were Turkish. The firm said its Syria team staff had “extensive experience managing programmes and conducting research funded by many different governmental clients in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Yemen, Turkey, the Palestinian Territories, Iraq and other conflict-affected states.”

Western contractor ARK cultivates White Helmets “to keep Syria in the news”

The Western contractor ARK was a central force in launching the White Helmets operation.

The leaked documents show ARK ran the Twitter and Facebook pages of Syria Civil Defense, known more commonly as the White Helmets.

ARK took credit for developing “an internationally-focused communications campaign designed to raise global awareness of the (White Helmets) teams and their life saving work.”

ARK also facilitated communications between the White Helmets and The Syria Campaign, a PR firm run out of London and New York that helped popularize the White Helmets in the United States.

It was apparently “following subsequent discussions with ARK and the teams” that The Syria Campaign “selected civil defence to front its campaign to keep Syria in the news,” the firm wrote in a report for the UK Foreign Office.

“With ARK’s guidance, TSC (The Syria Campaign) also attended ARK’s civil defence training sessions to create media content for its #WhiteHelmets campaign which launched in August 2014 and has since gone viral,” the Western contractor added.

In 2014, ARK produced a long-form documentary on the White Helmets, titled “Digging for Life,” which was repeatedly broadcast on Orient TV.

While it was running the White Helmets’ social media accounts, ARK bragged that it was boosting followers and views on the Facebook page for Idlib City Council.

The Syrian city of Idlib was taken over by al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, which then went on to publicly execute women who were accused of adultery.

While effectively aiding these al-Qaeda-aligned extremist groups, ARK and the British intelligence cutout TGSN also signed a document with the FCO hilariously pledging to follow “UK guidance on gender sensitivity” and “ensure gender is considered in all capacity building and campaign development.”

Setting the stage for lawfare on Syria

Another leaked document shows the Western government-backed firm ARK revealing that, back in 2011, it worked with another government contractor called Tsamota to help develop the Syrian Commission for Justice and Accountability (SCJA). In 2014, SCJA changed its name to the Commission for International Justice and Accountability (CIJA).

The Grayzone exposed CIJA as a Western government-funded regime-change organization whose investigators collaborated with al-Qaeda and its extremist allies in order to wage lawfare on the Syrian government.

ARK noted that the project initially worked “with seed funding from the UK Conflict Pool to support investigative and forensic training for Syrian war crimes investigators” and has since “grown to become a major component of Syria’s transitional justice architecture.”

Since the US, European Union, and their Middle East allies lost the military phase of their war on Syria, CIJA has taken the lead in trying to prolong the regime-change campaign through lawfare.

InCoStrat creates media network, helps them interview al-Qaeda

In the leaked documents, another UK government contractor called Innovative Communications Strategies (InCoStrat) boasted of building a massive “network of over 1600 journalists and key influencers with an interest in Syria.”

InCoStrat stressed that it was “managing and delivering a multi donor project in support of UK Foreign Policy objectives” in Syria, “specifically providing strategic communication support to the moderate armed opposition.”

Other funders of InCoStrat’s work with the opposition in Syria, the firm disclosed, included the US government, the United Arab Emirates, and anti-Assad Syrian businessmen.

InCoStrat served as a liaison between its government clients and the Syrian National Coalition, the Western-backed parallel government that the opposition tried to create. InCoStrat advised senior leaders of this Syrian shadow regime, and even ran the National Coalition’s own media office from Istanbul, Turkey.

The Western contractor took credit for organizing a 2014 BBC interview with Ahmad Jarba, the then-president of the opposition National Coalition.

The firm added that “journalists have often reached out to us in search of the appropriate people for their programmes.” As an example, InCoStrat said it helped plant its own Syrian opposition activists in BBC Arabic reports. The firm then added, “Once making the initial connections we encouraged the Syrians to maintain the relationships with the journalists in the BBC instead of using ourselves as the conduit.”

Like ARK, InCoStrat worked closely with the press. The firm said it had “extensive experience in engaging Arab and international news media,” adding that it worked directly with “heads of regional news in major satellite TV networks, press bureaus and print media.”

“Key members of InCoStrat have previously worked as Middle East correspondents for some of the world’s largest news agencies including Reuters,” the Western contractor added.

Also like ARK, InCoStrat established a vast media infrastructure. The firm set up Syrian opposition media offices in Dera’a, Syria; Istanbul and Reyhanli, Turkey; and Amman, Jordan.

InCoStrat worked with 130 stringers across Syria, and said it had more than 120 reporters working inside the country, along with “an additional five official spokesmen who appear several times a week on international and regional TV.”

InCoStrat also established eight FM radio stations and six community magazines across Syria.

The firm reported that it penetrated the armed opposition by developing “strong relationships with 54 brigade commanders in Syria’s southern front,” that involved “daily, direct engagement with the commanders and their officers inside Syria,” as well as defected officers Free Syrian Army (FSA) units in government-held Damascus.

In the leaked documents, InCoStrat boasted that its reporters organized interviews with many armed opposition militias, including the al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra.

Don’t just plants media stories; “initiate an event” to create your own scandals

In its media war on Damascus, InCoStrat pursued a two-pronged campaign that consisted of the following: “a) Guerrilla Campaign. Use the media to create the event. b) Guerrilla Tactics. Initiate an event to create the media effect.”

The intelligence cutout therefore sought to use the media as a weapon to advance tangible political demands of the Syrian opposition.

In one case, InCoStrat took credit for a successful international campaign to force the Syrian government to lift its siege of the extremist-held opposition stronghold of Homs. The Grayzone contributor Rania Khalek reported on the crisis in Homs, which was besieged by Damascus after the far-right Sunni fundamentalists that controlled it began carrying out sectarian massacres against religious minorities and kidnapping Alawite civilians.

“We connected international journalists with Syrians living in besieged Homs,” InCoStrat explained. It organized an interview between Britain’s Channel 4 and a doctor in the city, which helped raise international attention, ultimately leading to an end to the siege.

In another instance, the UK contractor said it “produced postcards, posters and reports” comparing the secular government of Bashar al-Assad to the fundamentalist Salafi-jihadists in ISIS. Then it “provided a credible, Arabic-English speaking Syrian spokesperson to engage the media.”

The campaign was very successful, according to InCoStrat: Al-Jazeera America and The National published the firm’s propaganda posters. The British contractor also organized interviews on the topic with The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, The Guardian, The Times, Buzzfeed, Al-Jazeera, Suriya Al-Sham, and Orient.

InCoStrat Syrian opposition media Assad ISIS

After regime change comes Nation Building Inc.

InCoStrat has apparently been involved in numerous Western-backed regime-change operations.

In one leaked document, the firm said it helped to train civil society organizations in marketing, media, and communications in Afghanistan, Honduras, Iraq, Syria, and Libya. It even trained a team of anti-Saddam Hussein journalists inside Basra, Iraq after the joint US-UK invasion.

In addition to contracting for the United Kingdom, InCoStrat disclosed that it has worked for the governments of the United States, Singapore, Latvia, Sweden, Denmark, and Libya.

After NATO destroyed the Libyan state in a regime-change war in 2011, InCoStrat was brought in in 2012 to conduct similar communications work for the Libyan National Transitional Council, the Western-backed opposition that sought to take power.

Coordinating with extremist militias, cooking news to “reinforce the core narrative”

The leaked documents shed further light on a UK government contractor called Albany.

Albany boasted that it “secured the participation of an extensive local network of over 55 stringers, reporters and videographers” to influence media narratives and advance UK foreign policy interests.

The firm helped create an influential Syrian opposition media outfit called Enab Baladi. Founded in 2011 in the anti-Assad hub of Daraya, at the beginning of the war, Enab Baladi was aggressively marketed in the Western press as a grassroots Syrian media operation.

In reality, Enab Baladi was the product of a British contractor that took responsibility for its evolution “from an amateur-run entity into one of the most prominent Syrian media organizations.”

Albany also coordinated communications between opposition media outlets and extremist Islamist opposition groups by hiring an “engagement leader (who) has deep credibility with key groups including (north) Failaq ash-Sham, Jabha Shammiyeh, Jaysh Idleb al Hur, Ahrar ash-Sham, (center) Jaysh al Islam, Failaq al Rahman, and (south) Jaysh Tahrir.” Many of these militias were linked to al-Qaeda and are now recognized by the US Department of State and European governments as official terrorist groups.

Unlike other Western government contractors active in Syria, which often tried to feign a semblance of balance, Albany made it clear that its media reporting was nothing more than propaganda.

The firm admitted that it trained Syrian media activists in a unique “newsroom process” that called to “curate” news by “collecting and organising stories and content that support and reinforce the core narrative.”

In 2014, Albany boasted of running the Syrian National Coalition’s communications team at the Geneva Peace talks.

Albany also warned that revelations of Western government funding for these opposition media organizations that were being portrayed as grassroots initiatives would discredit them.

When internal emails were leaked showing that the massive opposition media platform Basma Syria was funded by the United States and Britain, Albany wrote, “the Basma brand has been compromised following leaks about funding project aims.”

The leaks on social media “have damaged the credibility and trustworthiness of the existing branded platform,” Albany wrote. “Credibility and trust are the key currencies of the activities envisaged and for this reason we consider it essential to refresh the approach if the content to be disseminated is to have effect.” The Basma website was taken down soon after.

These files provide clear insight into how the Syrian opposition was cultivated by Western governments with imperial designs on Damascus, and was kept afloat with staggering sums of cash that flowed from the pockets of British taxpayers – often to the benefit of fanatical militiamen allied with Al Qaeda.

While Dutch prosecutors prepare war crimes charges against the Syrian government for fighting off the onslaught, the leaked files are a reminder of the leading role that Western states and their war-profiteering companies played in the carefully organized destruction of the country.

thegrayzone.comThe views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.

سورية تهشّم أنياب العثمانيّين في إدلب وموسكو

د. وفيق إبراهيم

معارك إدلب ليست حدثاً عسكرياً عابراً يندرج في اطار تطور الازمة السورية، بدليل ان الرئيس التركي رجب اردوغان يبحث عن وقف لاطلاق النار عند نظيره الروسي بوتين في لقائهما اليوم في موسكو.

هو لقاء فرضته التوازنات العسكرية الجديدة التي تنبثق يومياً من المعارك المستعرة في منطقة ادلب السورية بين جيشها العربي السوري وبين منظمات تضم إرهاباً منبثقاً من جبهة النصرة وجيشاً تركياً مكشوفاً للعيان. من دون نسيان حوامل النصرة من هيئة تحرير الشام والجيش التركستاني والايغور ومعارضات سورية لا تعمل إلا في محطات التلفزة.

بالمقابل يدعم حلفٌ من حزب الله ومستشارون إيرانيون وسلاح جوي روسي عند الضرورة عمليات الجيش السوري.

لقد كان الأتراك يعتقدون ان هجمات الجيش ليست إلا مجرد تسخين للاوضاع من دون أي إمكانية لتغيرات في الميدان وهدفها التعجيل في المفاوضات الروسية التركية.

لكنهم أصيبوا بذهول لأن المعارك السورية تنفذ تدريجياً خطة لتحرير أرياف حلب وادلب، وخصوصاً ما يتعلق منها بالخطين اللذين يربطان حلب مع البحر المتوسط عند اللاذقية ويصلانها بحماة وحمص ودمشق وحدود سورية مع الأردن والعراق.

لقد حاول اردوغان استعمال الوسائل العسكرية فلم يفلح، متجهاً نحو الأساليب السياسية بتهديد روسيا وايران شريكتيه في سوتشي وآستانة، فجوبه بمواقف قاسية أفهمته أن شريكيه يغطيان الهجوم السوري بتبريرات متنوّعة ومرتبطة بتفاهمات لم ينفذها الجانب التركي، فاتجه الرئيس التركي مستنجداً بالأميركيين والأوروبيين وحلف الناتو الذي يجمعه بهم وصولاً الى «اسرائيل».

الا انه لم يلق الا جعجعة اعلامية لم تؤثر في الاندفاعة العسكرية السورية في ادلب.

الامر الذي دفعه الى الاستثمار في ورقة النازحين السوريين، كما يفعل منذ سنوات عدة.

وذلك لتهديد اوروبا بهم لعلها تدعمه في احتلاله لقسم من سورية، وتدفع بالأميركيين الى دعمه عسكرياً بالمباشر او عبر الناتو.

ان كل هذه الحركات الاردوغانية لم تؤدِ الى ما اراده الاتراك فعادوا طائعين الى كنف «الروسي» يبحثون عنده عن وقف لإطلاق النار يحفظ لهم عمقاً في سورية بذريعة الدفاع عن أمنهم القومي. فيطالبون بعمق على طول حدودهم مع سورية لا يقل عن ثلاثين كيلومتراً. وهذا ما ترفضه سورية قطعياً وسط محاولات روسية لجعل هذا العمق لا يزيد عن 8 كيلومترات إنما بمدة متفق عليها وليست مفتوحة.

هذا ما يناقشه أردوغان اليوم مع بوتين ويربطه بدور للمعارضة السورية المؤيدة لسياسات بلاده في إطار اللجنة الدستورية قيد البحث لتأسيسها والمفترض ان يناط بها إجراء تعديلات على المؤسسات الدستورية السورية.

هل هناك إمكانية لتحقيق «هلوسات» اردوغان؟

لا بد من الاشارة الى ان المطالب التركية المتعلقة بإشراك المعارضة السورية في الحكم، ليست جديدة.

وسبق لأردوغان وناقشها مع الرئيس بشار الاسد في بداية اندلاع الأزمة السورية في 2011، لكنه تلقى في حينه رفضاً سورياً قاطعاً حول مشاركة الاخوان المسلمين المدعومين من انقرة في مؤسسات الدولة السورية.

فإذا كان النظام السوري رفض أي مشاركة للاخوان في تلك المرحلة التي كانت صعبة عليه، فكيف يقبل اليوم وهو يكاد يحرّر كامل بلاده ومسجلاً انتصاراً واضحاً على الادوار السعودية والاردنية والقطرية، دافعاً بالاميركيين الى الشرق ومقلصاً من حجم العدوانية الاسرائيلية ومحطماً داعش وإفرازاتها.

بأي حال يحمل اردوغان معه بدائل لطلباته السورية تكشف عن مدى انتهازيته وبراجماتيته.

ويبدو انه مستعد للقبول بتراجع كبير في ادلب مقابل دعم روسي له في ليبيا التي يدعم فيها دولة السراج في طرابلس الغرب فيما يدعم الروس دولة حفتر في بنغازي.

بما يوضح الأصرار التركي على الانخراط في الصراع العالمي المندلع للسيطرة على منابع الغاز في البحر الأبيض المتوسط.

هنا يجد التركي نفسه قوياً، فهو يحتل منذ 1974 القسم التركي من جزيرة قبرص مؤسساً هناك جمهوريّة لا احد يعترف بها إلا تركيا ويرفضها الاوروبيون عموماً واليونانيون خصوصاً الذين ترتبط قبرص بهم في النسب الإغريقي والجوار والتاريخ.

فيبدو هنا اردوغان شرهاً يسعى للاستئثار بقسم من موارد الغاز في قبرص البرية والساحلية وكذلك في ليبيا السراج الداخلية والبحرية. بما يجعله طرفاً اساسياً في تقاسم ثروات الغاز النائمة في اعماق البحر المتوسط من كل جهاته.

فهل بوسع روسيا منحه ما ليس من ممتلكاتها؟

يعتبر الروس معركة البحر المتوسط جزءاً مركزياً من اهتماماتهم الاستراتيجية ربطاً بأنهم الدولة الاولى في الغاز إنتاجاً واحتياطاً ومبيعاً، هذا الى جانب أسباب أخرى تعود الى حيازتهم على حق التنقيب عن الغاز في سورية البرية والبحرية المطلة على البحر المتوسط. كما أن روسيا لا تقبل بأي سيطرة للاميركيين او الأتراك على هذه الثروات، بما يهدد من مركزية تصديرها لهذه المادة الى اوروبا عبر الخطوط الاوكرانية والتركية.

يمكن هنا التأكيد بأن بوتين حريص على امكانات الغاز في ليبيا وسورية وحقوقهما في مياه المتوسط.

فلا يتبقى امام اردوغان الا قبرص الاوروبية وهذه مسؤولية أوروبية في معالجة الغزو التركي.

فهل يفشل اللقاء بين أردوغان وبوتين؟

المعتقد ان هذه المحادثات لن تتعدى مسألة ادلب انما في اطار الالتزام بمتغيرات الميدان والانسحاب التدريجي التركي منها، على قاعدة تأمين منطقة عازلة مقابل موافقة تركيا على القضاء على حلفائها في «النصرة» وهيئة تحرير الشام.

اما إذا رفض اردوغان هذا الحل بإيحاءات اميركية، فإن للميدان الكلمة الفصل حيث يحقق الجيش العربي السوري وحلفاؤه الانتصارات ولن تتأخر روسيا في الزج بقواتها النوعية في معركة تحرير سورية وتدمير الأحادية القطبية.

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Baghdad Embassy: The Secret Logistics of America’s Global Deep State

Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360° on JANUARY 10, 2019

Eric Zuesse

Why is America’s Baghdad Embassy the world’s largest embassy — and the largest by far?

“It’s as if the US Embassy is there not only to protect American interests, but to manage the entire world from the heart of the capital, Baghdad.”

— Iraqi Sheikh Qassim Al Ta’ee, as quoted on 27 December 2011 in Al Iraq News and translated by Ibrahim Zaidan from the original Arabic by Nicholas Dagher

Zaidan’s article went on to say:

The world’s largest embassy is situated in the Green Zone and fortified by three walls, another barrier of concrete slabs, followed by barbed wire fences and a wall of sandbags. It covers an area of 104 acres, six times larger than UN headquarters in New York and ten times larger than the new embassy Washington is building in Beijing – which is just 10 acres.


So, America’s largest diplomatic mission is surrounded by high concrete walls, is painted in black, brown and grey and is completely isolated from its environment. … The United States announced several months ago that between diplomats and employees, its embassy would include 16,000 people after the pullout of US forces.

On January 1st, Will Sillitoe headlined at the Helsinki Times, “What does the US embassy in Baghdad export to Finland and dozens of other countries?” and he reported that:

More than a million kilograms of cargo were shipped from Baghdad to different parts of the world, reveals US embassies procurement documents.

Mysterious cargo shipments from the US Embassy in Baghdad to other American embassies and consulates around the world have been revealed on a Wikileaks’ database. Procurement orders of US embassies are public documents, but Wikileaks put them in a searchable database making it easier to analyse.

The database displaying worldwide US embassy orders of goods and services reveals Baghdad as a postal and shipping centre for tonnes of freight.

Though military freight might be expected between the US and Iraq, records show that embassies across Europe, Asia, the Middle East, the Americas and Africa are all receiving deliveries from Baghdad too.

According to Wikileaks’ database, orders to ship more than 540 tonnes of cargo to the US were made in May 2018. The same document shows other main delivery destinations included 120 tonnes of freight to Europe, and 24 tonnes to South Africa, South America and Central Africa respectively. …

On December 29th, Sillitoe had headlined “Guarded warehouse near airport and mysterious cargos from Baghdad; what is the US embassy in Helsinki up to?” and he opened:

Why does the US Embassy in Helsinki need a big warehouse near Malmi Airport and what are the contents of thousands of kilograms of cargo sent to Helsinki from Baghdad?

A dilapidated warehouse in Malmi is being used by the US Embassy for unknown operations after a Wikileaks release revealed its location.

The anonymous looking building on Takoraudantie is notable only for the new 427 meter perimeter fence that according to the Wikileaks’ database was ordered by the US Embassy in April 2018.

Situated across the street from the main entrance of Malmi Airport, the warehouse with its 3 meter high security fence appears an unlikely location for official embassy business. Neighbouring companies include a car yard and a tyre warehouse.

Helsinki Times visited the perimeters this weekend. Security personnel, young Finns in uniforms with American flags on their arms, appeared nervous and suspicious when asked to comment on the warehouse. …

Strategically located US embassy complex in Helsinki and the newly built “Innovation Center”

Sillitoe closed that article by saying: “The searchable Wikileaks database and info about Finland related activities can be found HERE.”

That link leads to a “US Embassy Shopping List” of 24 separate documents, one of which is “RFP 191Z1018R0002 Mission Iraq Shipping Transportation Services”, dated “5/17/18.”

Item 2 there is “Packing of unaccompanied air baggage (UAB) – Throughout Iraq – US Embassy Baghdad, Baghdad International Zone, US Consulate General in Basrah, US Consulate General in Erbil, US Baghdad Diplomatic Support Center, US Erbil Diplomatic Support Center (Note: under the specified unit of measure the US Government contemplates ‘per kilogram’ of gross weight in kilograms)”

The “Quantity Estimated” is “100,000” and the “Unit of Measure” is “kilogram.”

Item 7 is “Storage Services – Monthly Storage of containers – Throughout Iraq – US Embassy Baghdad, Baghdad International Zone, US Consulate General in Basrah, US Consulate General in Erbil, US Baghdad Diplomatic Support Center, US Erbil Diplomatic Support Center.”

The “Quantity Estimated” is “100” and the “Unit of Measure” is “40’ Container.”

Item “Section B.5 Sub-CLIN:84E” is “From Republic of Iraq to Western European Countries (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Malta, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City, Nicosia)”

The “Quantity Estimated” is “5,000” and the “Unit of Measure” is “kilogram.”

Item “Section B.5 Sub -CLIN:84 F” is “From Republic of Iraq to Eastern European Countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Kosovo)”

The “Quantity Estimated” is “5,000” and the “Unit of Measure” is “kilogram.”

By far the biggest categories for shipments are to the eastern US states: “From Republic of Iraq to the Unites [sp.] States Eastern Time-Zone – the following States: VT, ME, NH, MA, RI, CT, NJ, DE, MD, DC, NY, PA, VA, NC, SC, GA, FL, WV, MI, OH, IN, KY, GA”

There are 11 such categories:

“Section B.5 Sub-CLIN:85A”

“Section B.5 Sub-CLIN:86A”

“Section B.6 Sub-CLIN:84A”

“Section B.6 Sub-CLIN:85A”

“Section B.6 Sub-CLIN:86A”

“Section B.7 Sub-CLIN:84A”

“Section B.7 Sub-CLIN:85A”

“Section B.7 Sub-CLIN:86A”

“Section B.8 Sub-CLIN:84A”

“Section B.8 Sub-CLIN:85A”

“Section B.8 Sub-CLIN:86A”

Each one of those eleven will receive 30,000 kilograms, under the contract.

In each of the eleven, the products will be going “From Republic of Iraq to the Unites [sp.] States Eastern Time-Zone – the following States: VT, ME, NH, MA, RI, CT, NJ, DE, MD, DC, NY, PA, VA, NC, SC, GA, FL, WV, MI, OH, IN, KY, GA”

That’s a total of 330,000 kilograms. That’s 727,525 pounds, or 364 tons, which are going from the world’s largest Embassy, America’s in Baghdad, to America’s eastern states.

In addition, around another 1,091,287 pounds are going from the Baghdad Embassy to other locations throughout the world.

The RFP, or Request For Proposal, informs its recipient that “The Contractor shall provide the services for the base period of the contract,” but “base period” isn’t defined in the RFP. However, the contract does specify that there shall be “a firm fixed unit price for any contract line item number in the Base Year,” and therefore the obligations under any contract will continue for at least one year, but possibly longer (if renewed). Furthermore, the “Type of Solicitation” here is not “Sealed Bid (IFB),” but instead “Negotiated (RFP),” which means that the US Government officials who are “Soliciting” these offers will choose whom to request to present an offer; and, if two or more recipients are being approached and make an offer, then the US official will select the winner that he or she prefers, and won’t be required to accept the lowest-priced one, but can instead take some sort of kickback, as long as there is no evidence of having done that. It can easily be arranged. Furthermore, private arrangements bond the two parties, even if the arrangement is just a one-time deal, because neither party will want the private arrangement to be made public, and if ever it does become public, then both parties will be revealed as guilty; it’ll hurt both parties. Moreover, since any contract may be renewed, the offeror of the contract, which is the Embassy employee, holds the power to affect that — the length of term, and everything that’s associated with it, will be controlled by the Embassy’s side, and not by the contractor’s side. And no matter how brief a contract-term might be, and no matter how many non-Americans might be signing any particular type of contract during any given period of years, none of the private parties will have any motive to make public any kickback. Consequently, there is every motive to keep these arrangements private; and the Embassy employee will always be the more powerful one in any private arrangement that is made with any contractor.

Prior RFPs are also online, for example this one from 16 November 2014. The annual amounts seem to be fairly stable.

On 10 October 2007, while the US Embassy in Iraq was still building, the Congressional Research Service issued to Congress their report, “US Embassy in Iraq”, and it said:

The US Ambassador to Iraq (currently Ambassador Ryan Crocker) has full authority for the American presence in Iraq with two exceptions: 1 — military and security matters which are under the authority of General Patraeus, the US Commander of the Multinational Force-Iraq (MNF-I), and 2 — staff working for international organizations. In areas where diplomacy, military, and/or security activities overlap, the Ambassador and the US Commander cooperate to provide co-equal authority regarding what is best for America and its interests in Iraq.

By “Patraeus” it meant David Petraeus. He was the person who designed the torture-system that was applied by his assistant James Steele and used in Iraq to extract from prisoners everything they knew about Saddam Hussein’s assistance to the 9/11 event. Petraeus subsequently became a regular participant in the annual meetings of the private and secretive Bilderberg group of representatives of the US and allied nations’ billionaires that constitute The West’s Deep State. Prior to that, Petraeus and Steele had organized and instituted in El Salvador that Government’s death-squads, to eradicate opponents of US control over that country.

The most corrupt parts of the US Government are usually in the military, because the entire Defense Department isn’t audited. It is instead financially an enormous dark hole, even to US Senators and Representatives, and even to the US President. Only members of the US Deep State might have an approximate idea of how much money is getting ‘lost’ in it. After all, the Deep State isn’t, at all, answerable to the public. Since it operates in secret, it can’t be. The consequences of the Deep State, however, can become public, and may contradict what is shown in publicly available documents and public statements, which have been circulated, to the public, by the press. In any nation where a Deep State rules, such contradictions, between public assertions and the actual outcomes, are so commonplace as hardly to be even news at all, if and when they appear, at all.

On 2 July 2017, the great investigative reporter Dilyana Gaytandzhieva headlined “350 Flights Carry Weapons Diplomatic for Terrorists”, and provided documentation of the US CIA’s intricate global network, which secretly “sends $1 billion worth of weapons” through many countries to jihadists in Syria to take down Syria’s Government. Iraq was mentioned 6 times in the original publication of her article, and is mentioned 9 times in the 29 April 2018 updated version. That secret US supply of weapons to jihadist groups to overthrow Bashar al-Assad and his secular, non-sectarian, Baathist Party, is a secret operation, just like the US State Department’s Baghdad Embassy’s operations are, and that Embassy could even be this particular operation’s headquarters.

The 200-page, December 2017, study, “Weapons of the Islamic State: A three-year investigation”, by Conflict Armament Research Ltd., states in its Conclusion:

IS forces, like most non-state armed groups, acquire significant quantities of weapons and ammunition on the battlefield… Evidence presented in this report, however, confirms that many of the group’s weapons — and notably its ammunition — are newly manufactured, having been delivered to the region since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011. These weapons originate in transfers made by external parties, including Saudi Arabia and the United States, to disparate Syrian opposition forces arrayed against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Here are just a few of the details that this passage in the summary was based upon and summarizing:

On pages 36-9:

CAR has documented and traced numerous weapon systems in service with IS forces. Many derive from shipments made to the US government, or to entities operating under US government contracts. The United States has acknowledged its support to Syrian opposition forces, orchestrated primarily through resupply from the territories of Jordan and Turkey.26 All of the shipments originated in EU Member States; in most cases, US retransfers (exports made after purchase by the United States) contravened clauses in end-user certificates (EUCs) issued by the United States to EU supplier governments. The United States signed these certificates prior to transfer, stated that it was the sole end user of the materiel, and committed not to retransfer the materiel without the supplier government’s prior consent. It did not notify the supplier states concerned before [violating that, and] retransferring the materiel. …

On 21 December 2016, Jaysh al-Nasr, a Syrian armed opposition faction active in the Hama Governorate of Syria, published a set of photographs of its fighters.29 In one of these, Jaysh al-Nasr fighters are operating a 9M111MB-1 ATGW30 bearing an identical lot number and a serial number (365) close in sequence to the one CAR documented (286) in Iraq, suggesting both were part of the same supply chain. …

In May 2015, Syrian YPG forces recovered a PG-7T 40 mm rocket from IS forces near Al Hasakah, Syria, where CAR documented it on 20 May 2015. The Government of Bulgaria confirmed that it exported the item to the US Department of the Army through the US company Kiesler Police Supply. The application for the export licence was accompanied by the original EUC issued by the US Department of the Army (with a non-re-export clause) as well as a delivery verification certificate. The item was exported on 23 June 2014.32 … CAR has yet to receive a reply to a trace request sent to the United States regarding these rockets.

Page 54 says:

Like the United States, Saudi Arabia has provided support to various factions in the Syrian conflict, including through the supply of weapons. Working with the Bulgarian authorities, CAR has traced numerous items deployed by IS forces to initial exports from Bulgaria to Saudi Arabia. These transfers were uniformly subject to non-retransfer clauses concluded between Saudi Arabia and the Government of Bulgaria prior to export. In this respect, onward retransfers by Saudi Arabia of these weapons contravene its commitments to the Government of Bulgaria not to re-export the materiel in question without Bulgaria’s prior consent.

Just like in the case of the Baghdad Embassy’s agreements with contractors, the powerful party in any contract will be the party whose side is paying (the buyer), and not the party whose side is supplying the service or goods (the seller). Money always rules.

The CAR report, which was issued just months after Dilyana Gaytandzhieva’s report, was entirely consistent with, and largely overlapped, hers. The US and Saudi Governments were not only using Al Qaeda as their main proxy in southwestern Syria to lead the jihadist groups to overthrow Syria’s non-sectarian Government, but were also using ISIS in northeastern Syria as their main proxy forces there to overthrow Syria’s Government. After Russia’s entry into the war on 30 September 2015 on the side of Syria’s Government, America’s assistance to Al Qaeda in Syria (Al Nusra) continued in order to help replace that Government by one which would be controlled by the Sauds. And America’s assistance to ISIS was almost totally replaced then by its assistance to ethnocentric Syrian Kurds in the northeast as the Syrian Democratic Forces, which were fighting against both the Government and ISIS. Russia, of course, was against both Al Qaeda-led jihadists and against ISIS jihadists. (Turkey was against ethnocentric Kurds, because those people want to take a chunk out of four nations: Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran. The CIA edited and written Wikipedia’s article on Kurdistan conveniently doesn’t even make note of that key fact.) So: America was using a complex combination in order to take over Syria for the Sauds ultimately to control. But Russia’s entry into Syria’s air-war on 30 September 2015 has overcome that U.S-led and Saudi financed combination against Syria.

Would any secret facility, anywhere in the world, be better situated to manage that operation, on America’s side, than America’s Baghdad Embassy?

So, the question then arises: who benefits from this enormous Embassy, and from the Deep State of which it is a part? The American public certainly do not.

Generally speaking, the people who get paid to promote endless wars, such as sellers of the constantly receding (propagandistic) “light at the end of the tunnel”, support continuing if not intensifying such wars. Typical is the neoconservative (in foreign affairs) and neoliberal (in domestic affairs) David Bradley, who controls and is the Chairman of Atlantic Media, which publishes the neocon-neolib The Atlantic, and many other public-affairs magazines and websites. His “Defense One” site posted, on 22 March 2018, from its Executive Editor, “The War in Iraq Isn’t Done. Commanders Explain Why and What’s Next”, and closed with “‘We need to be very careful about rushing to the exit, and secure this win,’ said the senior US military official. ‘This is a significant win.’” The “senior US military official” wasn’t identified, other than to say that he “spoke only on background.” But, of course, George W. Bush had already told the world all about this “win,” back in 2003. Salespeople just continue their pitches; it’s what they are paid to do, and so they never stop.

The annual military costs alone, for the US to keep being, as its propaganda euphemistically puts the matter, “policeman for the world” (such as, in the Syrian case, by means of those proxy boots-on-the-ground warriors, the jihadists, and the ethnocentrists among Syria’s Kurds) are actually sufficient, even on their own, to cause America’s soaring federal debt — and that’s not a benefit, but an extreme harm, to the public. Future generations of Americans will be paying the tab for this. And the costs for being “policeman for the world” are enormous. Even just militarily, they’re over a trillion dollars each and every year.

Though current US Defense Department budgets are around $700 billion annually, the United States is actually spending closer to $1.2 trillion annually on the military when all of the nation’s military spending (such as for military retirements, which are paid by the Treasury Department not by the Defense Department) are factored in. The only people who benefit from being “policeman for the world” are the billionaires of the US and (though to only a lesser extent) of its allied countries. And, of course, they pay their lobbyists and propagandists. It’s really being policeman for those billionaires, who own and control all of the international corporations that are headquartered in this alliance. The US public isn’t paying the tab by any cash-and-carry basis; instead, future generations of Americans will be paying the tab, for today’s US-and-allied billionaires. Those billionaires today are the chief beneficiaries. It’s all being done for them and their retinues. That’s why America’s Founders didn’t want there to be any “standing army” at all. They didn’t want there to be any permanent-war government. They wanted military only for national defense — not for any billionaires’ protection or ‘insurance policy’, or what might actually be publicly paid and armed thugs in service abroad as if they were the nation’s armed forces — when, in fact, they are the armed forces for only those billionaires and their servants. America’s Founders wanted no military at all that serves the aristocracy. They wanted no aristocracy, at all. They wanted no “standing army” whatsoever. They wanted only a military that protects the public, when a real military danger, from abroad, to the domestic public, exists. Of course, that’s possible only in a democracy, but the US is no democracy now, even if it might have been in the past.

On 11 December 2017, Montana State University headlined “MSU SCHOLARS FIND $21 TRILLION IN UNAUTHORIZED GOVERNMENT SPENDING; DEFENSE DEPARTMENT TO CONDUCT FIRST-EVER AUDIT”, but the Pentagon’s promised audit has failed to materialize. A major accounting firm was hired for the task but soon quit, saying that the Defense Department’s books were too incomplete to proceed further. Three days before that article was published, a colleague of that MSU team headlined at Forbes”Has Our Government Spent $21 Trillion Of Our Money Without Telling Us?” and said that the answer was yes. All of this ‘lost’ money was spent merely by the Department of Defense. Just managing the more-than-a-thousand US military bases worldwide requires a lot of money. Any actual war-fighting adds to that US military-base cost — the war-fighting costs are extra. Those military bases etc. are the “standing army.” Protection of our billionaires’ investments abroad, and of their access to raw materials in underdeveloped countries (such as to manufacture cellphones), is an enormously expensive operation. Basically, the American public are hugely subsidizing America’s billionaires. But only future generations of Americans will be paying that debt — plus, of course, the accumulated interest on it.

The Department of Defense isn’t the only federal Department that has ever been unauditable. On 18 June 2013, Luke Johnson and Ryan Grim at Huffington Post bannered “GAO Cannot Audit Federal Government, Cites Department Of Defense Problems” and opened: “The Government Accountability Office said Thursday that it could not complete an audit of the federal government, pointing to serious problems with the Department of Defense. Along with the Pentagon, the GAO cited the Department of Homeland Security as having problems so significant that it was impossible for investigators to audit it. The DHS got a qualified audit for fiscal year 2012, and is seeking an unqualified audit for 2013.” However, on 17 November 2014, the Washington Post headlined “Homeland Security earns clean audit two years running”, and Jerry Markon reported that, “For the second straight year, the Department of Homeland Security has achieved a much sought-after clean audit of its financial statements by an independent auditor.” Furthermore: “for nearly all of its first decade of existence, DHS was unable to achieve a clean audit because it had been created by combining 22 federal agencies and components into one massive department. That led to inherent challenges.” That wasn’t the situation at the Defense Department, which was far different. On 8 December 2017, NPR headlined “Pentagon Announces First-Ever Audit Of The Department Of Defense”, and opened: “‘The Defense Department is starting the first agency-wide financial audit in its history,’ the Pentagon’s news service says.” However, almost as soon as the auditing team began their work, they quit it, because the Department’s books were garbage. Only the DOD is like that — almost entirely corrupt.

On 2 October 2018, Project Censored headlined “$21 Trillion in Unaccounted-for Government Spending from 1998 to 2015”. However, it falsified. It opened: “Two federal government agencies, the Department of Defense and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), may have accumulated as much as $21 trillion in undocumented expenses between 1998 and 2015.” None of that was actually HUD, it was 100% DOD. And all of “the alleged irregularities in DoD and HUD spending” were not merely “alleged,” but they were, in fact, carefully checked and repeatedly verified, and were only at DOD, despite what Project Censored published. This inaccuracy is important. If people don’t know that DOD is the only unaudited federal Department, then they can’t possibly understand why that is the case. The reason it is the case, is that almost all of the “waste, fraud, and abuse” in the US federal government is at the Defense Department. It has never been auditable. How much do America’s ‘news’-media report this reality?

DOD is consistently, year after year, and decade after decade, the federal Department or federal or local governmental function, that Gallup’s polling has shown to be more respected by the US public than is any other. (It’s identified there as “The military”. It beats, for examples: “The Supreme Court,” “Congress,” “The public schools,” “The presidency,” “The police,” and “The criminal justice system.”) The most corrupt isn’t the most despised; it is the opposite — it is the most respected.

Secret government tends to be costly for taxpayers, and also tends to add a lot to the governmental debt. An unauditable governmental department, such as the Defense Department is, cannot function, at all, without an enormous amount of corruption. This is the reality about America’s military. However, there’s much propaganda contradicting it. The news-media also serve those same billionaires.

How likely, then, is it, that America’s Baghdad Embassy serves the US public? It certainly does not serve the Iraqi public. But it does serve the people — whomever they are — who control the US Government. And that’s the Deep State. That’s the reality, but what’s promoted is fantasyland. And this fantasyland, which is promoted, is called “American democracy”.


Special Envoy for Syria Geir O. Pedersen’s Briefing to the Security Council 20 December 2019

 December 20, 2019

Al-Manar Website Correspondent in Russia Ahmad Hajj Ali

Geir O. Pedersen
United Nations Special Envoy for Syria
20 December 2019

Madame President,

1. One year ago, many believed that the Syrian conflict was winding down. Yet the past 12 months have seen a steady stream of violence, punctuated by escalations, that continue to this day, across many areas of Syria – such as the northwest, the northeast and the south. Proscribed terrorist groups have also not been defeated and continue to pose a major security threat. All of this serves as a constant, grim reminder that the need for a comprehensive political process, as mandated by this Council in resolution 2254, is more pressing than ever.

2. Today, let me start by updating you on one aspect of that process – the Constitutional Committee.

3. On 25 November, the Small Body of the Syrian-led and Syrian-owned Constitutional Committee convened for its second session. Before arriving in Geneva, I had asked each Co-Chair to put forward proposals for an agenda for the second session, in line with the Terms of Reference and Core Rules of Procedure.

4. On 21 November, the Co-Chair designated by the opposition Syrian Negotiations Commission, sent me a proposed workplan with 10 constitutional headings and an agenda focusing on the preamble to the Constitution and basic principles of the Constitution. On 25 November, the Co-Chair designated by the Syrian Government, proposed an agenda discussing “national pillars”, or national pillars of concern to the Syrian people.

5. At the same time, the Co-Chair designated by the Government insisted that constitutional issues could not be discussed until these “national pillars” were discussed. For its part, the SNC Co-Chair stated that “national pillars” could be discussed, provided this occurs within the context of the agreed Terms of Reference and Core Rules of Procedure or within an agenda of basic constitutional principles.

6. From 25 through 29 November I sought, in line with my mandate, and consistent with the Syrian leadership and ownership of the process, to facilitate consensus between the Co-Chairs and bring their viewpoints closer together. We had serious discussions in this regard. Different formulas were put forward that might have enabled both sides to table and discuss the issues of interest to them within the scope of the Constitutional Committee’s mandate. By the end of the week, however, it was clear that consensus would not be reached and that a meeting of the Small Body was not possible.

7. During this recess, I remain focused on facilitating agreement on an agenda for the next session of the Small Body. I hope that I will soon be able to consult with the Syrian Government directly in Damascus to this end, as well as the Syrian Negotiations Commission. My team also remains in contact with the “Middle Third” civil society delegation and I stand ready to support them, along the lines I outlined in my last briefing.

8. I have also met with international stakeholders, on this and all other aspects of the process. This past month, I met with the Foreign Ministers of Russia and Turkey, as well as those of Italy, Jordan, Algeria, and senior officials from the US, France, Iran, and Germany, who all expressed support for my mediation efforts.

9. I hope agreement can be reached promptly on an agenda that falls in line with the Terms of Reference and Core Rules of Procedure of the Constitutional Committee. As things stand and absent an agreed agenda, I see no reason to convene another session of the Small Body.

Madame President,

10. When I last briefed this Council, we had just concluded a successful opening session of the Constitutional Committee. This second session was obviously very different, in both substance and tone. But disagreement on the agenda is typical for any political process.

11. I do, however, believe there are several lessons we can draw from the experience of the second round.

12. First, the Constitutional Committee is and will remain fragile. Progress depends on the two sides, whose agreement made its creation possible – the Syrian Government and the Syrian Negotiations Commission – allowing their members to work professionally on the constitutional issues, and without disassociating themselves from the work of those they nominated. The Constitutional Committee needs to be nurtured, and genuinely supported if it is to succeed. This is the responsibility of the Syrian parties. International stakeholders, too, have a supporting role to play. I know I can count on the support of this Council in that regard.

13. Second, any proposed agenda must comply with the Terms of Reference and Core Rules of Procedure, agreed between the Government and opposition. This means that all issues are open for discussion within the Committee – without preconditions, and without making consideration of one issue dependent on resolution of another. And it also means that issues should be framed and fall under a constitutional heading. The Constitutional Committee is mandated by agreement to prepare and draft a constitutional reform as a contribution to the political settlement. If the Constitutional Committee is to deliver on this, it must focus on its constitutional mandate.

14. Third, the second round only underscores the need for a broader and comprehensive political process. The Government and Opposition reaffirmed this when they agreed, in the Terms of Reference and Core Rules of Procedure, on the need for a ‘broader political process moving forward to build trust and confidence and implement Security Council resolution 2254 (2015).’ Indeed, I believe that, while a Constitutional Committee cannot solve the crisis, it can help foster the trust and confidence between the parties, that can open the door to a broader process– and, equally, such a broader process can feed positively into the work on the constitutional issues.

Madame President,

15. I believe a meaningful, wider political process would be one that delivers tangible actions, such as progress on the release of detainees/abductees and the clarification of the fate of missing persons. It remains a matter of great frustration for me that there has not been meaningful movement on this issue. My Deputy and I will continue engaging with the Syrian parties directly as well as with other relevant actors. We also remain committed to actively contribute to the efforts of the Working Group that was set up to deal with this issue. In this context, I met with senior officials from Russia, Turkey and Iran in Nur-Sultan last week and, along with discussion on other issues, I  stressed the need to move beyond the “one-for-one” exchanges, and to see releases, at a meaningful scale, of children, women and the sick.

16. De-escalating violence and a nationwide ceasefire should underpin a wider political process. Northwest Syria has seen a deeply troubling escalation of violence in recent days. ASG Muller briefed this Council in detail yesterday on the terrible suffering of civilians there. The devastating humanitarian cost of a full-scale military offensive for the 3 million people living in northwest Syria is a price we simply cannot afford to pay. All sides must de-escalate urgently. Civilians also continue to suffer in northeast Syria, where the security situation remains volatile, even if it is calmer relative to the days and weeks after Turkey first launched its intervention. It is crucial that the various ceasefire understandings negotiated between actors there are respected and lead to a sustained de-escalation in violence. The security situation in southern Syria also remains turbulent and should be addressed.

17. Countering Security Council-listed terrorist groups is imperative too – through an approach that is cooperative, that ensures the protection of civilians, respects international humanitarian and human rights law.

18. And as always, while the security situation is the most devastating threat, Syrians also face increasing economic hardship, including as a result of commodity shortages and entrenched poverty. A broader process must ultimately address this too.

19. A broader process should respect and ultimately restore Syria’s sovereignty, unity, territorial integrity and independence.

20. Such a process should achieve a long-lasting, real and genuine reconciliation.

Madame President,

21. A broader process must also be inclusive. We continue to consult with the Syrian Women’s Advisory Board on the concerns and priorities of diverse Syrian women and their perspectives on a sustainable and inclusive political solution.

22. Syrian civil society should be fully included in any broader process.

23. Ultimately, the process should help develop a safe, calm and neutral environment – an environment that sees safe, voluntary and dignified refugee returns, to their places of origin or of their choosing; an environment in which a new Constitution, adopted by popular approval, can be genuinely reflected in institutions and in practice; an environment in which inclusive, free and fair elections can take place, which include the diaspora and which are administered under the supervision of the United Nations in line with resolution 2254.

24. Many of these issues touch upon constitution-making and some could be discussed under a constitutional rubric. But a constitution-making process itself is not likely to resolve them in a way that meets the urgent and legitimate concerns of the Syrian people. I remain convinced that a “steps for steps” model could help unlock practical progress – steps that build trust and confidence among Syrians, and between Syrians and the international community, undertaken in a reciprocal fashion.

25. I continue to press on this in all of my engagements, with the Syrian parties and international stakeholders. I continue to offer my good offices in this regard. And I continue to support the convening of a new international format, to bring together the will of the key players.

Madame President,

26. This is my last briefing of my first year as Special Envoy. When I first briefed you, I said my priorities were a sustained dialogue with the Syrian Government and the opposition, the launch of the Constitutional Committee as a door opener, a wider dialogue with civil society, action on detainees, abductees and missing, and international discussions in support of a political solution.

27. These remain my priorities. But it is time now to update them. The Committee is launched – but needs to work expeditiously and continuously, producing results and continued progress. I appreciate my open and direct dialogue with both Syrian parties – but if we are to take it to the next level, we need to address the full array of issues. We must enable de-escalation leading towards a nationwide ceasefire, as well as a cooperative, lawful approach to countering proscribed terrorist groups. As part of this dialogue, we must generate concrete action on detainees, abductees and missing persons. I think all of this could take shape for the benefit of all Syrians, like through a “steps for steps” approach. And I think a key part of this is for international discussions to deepen and for a new international format to take shape, to underpin the process. We know that none of this will be easy, and I will continue to count on the full engagement of the Syrian parties and the full support of this Council.
Thank you, Madame President.

Source: Al-Manar English Website

Syria Slams US Meddling in the Syrian Constitution Committee Talks

Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Damascus

Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Damascus

The Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs slammed the regime of Donald Trump for its attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries after the US State Department issued a statement to interfere in the works of the Syrian Constitution Committees deliberations in Geneva.

A spokesperson for the ministry said to the Syrian official news agency SANA ‘the dialogue is a Syrian-Syrian one and no one has the right to interfere in it or support any party under any pretext.’

The spokesperson outlined that the role of the United Nations represented by its special envoy Geir Pederson is limited to facilitating the committees’ discussions only and does not interfere in the contents.

Earlier, the US State Department issued a statement accusing the Syrian delegation to the Geneva talks to discuss amendments to the Syrian constitution of impeding the talks by placing obstacles.

US state department statement interfering in Syrian constitution discussion committee
Trump Regime’s State Dept statement: https://twitter.com/statedeptspox/status/1200867358295941120

The Syrian delegation asked the Turkish delegation to set the principles on Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity before discussing less important details in the constitution, the delegation sent by the Turkish regime of the madman Erdogan rejected to set such a principle. Erdogan Regime Delegation threw a tantrum, refused to even enter the meeting hall, and issued its rejection via media, violating the agreed-upon Code of Conduct, similar to Erdogan-the-Guarantor consistent breach of the de-escalation zones in Syria.

Observers following the talks referred their rejections to the conflict of interest it would cause with their sponsor carrying out an illegal incursion of northern Syria.

Syrian constitution discussion committee meeting - Geneva

The condemnation by the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs was expected, firstly, it’s a blatant attempt by the US to achieve in politics and diplomatic pressure what it failed by sponsoring terrorist groups in Syria and by direct invasion, secondly, it’s the same US regime that its officials have been crying non-stop for the past 3 years over alleged Russian interference in their own ‘democratical’ system claiming that some accounts from Russia bought Facebook ads worth of around US$ 3000(!) which placed Donald Trump as the president of the USA!

It’s the same regime that spent hundreds of billions of dollars directly and through its regional slaves to topple yet another legitimate government in the region and this time in Syria, and replace the elected officials with planted puppets.

The author of this post is trying to feel sorry for the US citizens and taxpayers whose government is dealing with double-face around the world, but to be honest, I’m failing to feel sorry. It’s been endless times their government interfered in every other country around the world and they spent hundreds of millions of dollars of their hard-earned tax money on investigations of alleged Russian interference worth of 3000 dollars. No one can be that simple, that dumb, and that naive for that long period of time and for those countless times their government on behalf of them and using their resources have committed such crimes and violations of international law abroad, it’s like the US citizens themselves support these heinous acts.

Rebuilding Syria – without Syria’s oil

November 01, 2019

Rebuilding Syria – without Syria’s oil

By Pepe Escobar – Posted with permission

Compare US pillaging with Russia-Iran-Turkey’s active involvement in a political solution to normalize Syria

What happened in Geneva this Wednesday, in terms of finally bringing peace to Syria, could not be more significant: the first session of the Syrian Constitutional Committee.

The Syrian Constitutional Committee sprang out of a resolution passed in January 2018 in Sochi, Russia, by a body called the Syrian National Dialogue Congress.

The 150-strong committee breaks down as 50 members of the Syrian opposition, 50 representing the government in Damascus and 50 representatives of civil society. Each group named 15 experts for the meetings in Geneva, held behind closed doors.

This development is a direct consequence of the laborious Astana process – articulated by Russia, Iran and Turkey. Essential initial input came from former UN Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura. Now UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen is working as a sort of mediator.

The committee started its deliberations in Geneva in early 2019.

Crucially, there are no senior members of the administration in Damascus nor from the opposition – apart from Ahmed Farouk Arnus, who is a low-ranking diplomat with the Syrian Foreign Ministry.

Among the opposition, predictably, there are no former leaders of weaponized factions. And no “moderate rebels.” The delegates include several former and current parliament members, university rectors and journalists.

After this first round, significantly, the committee’s co-chair, Ahmad Kuzbari, said: “We hope that our next meeting could take place in our native land, in our beloved Damascus, the oldest continuously inhabited capital in history.”

Even the opposition, which is part of the committee, hopes that a political deal will be clinched next year. According to co-chair Hadi al-Bahra: “I hope that the 75th anniversary of the United Nations next year will be an opportunity to celebrate another achievement by the universal organization, namely the success of efforts under the auspices of a special envoy for political process, who will bring peace and justice to all Syrians.”

Join the patrol

The committee’s work in Geneva proceeds in parallel to ever-changing facts on the ground. These will certainly force more face-to-face negotiations between Presidents Putin and Erdogan, as Erdogan himself confirmed: “A conversation with Putin can take place any time. Everything depends on the course of events.”

“Events” seem not to be that incandescent, so far, even as Erdogan, predictably, releases the whiff of a threat in the air: “We reserve the right to resume military operation in Syria if terrorists approach at the distance of 30km to Turkey’s borders or continue attacks from any other Syrian area.”

Erdogan also said the de facto safe zone along the Turkish-Syrian border could be “expanded,” something that he would have to clear in minute detail with Moscow.

Those threats have already manifested on the ground. On Wednesday, Turkey and allied Islamist factions launched an attack against Tal Tamr, a historic Assyrian Christian enclave 50km deep inside Syrian territory – far beyond the scope of the 10km patrol zone or the 30km “safe” zone.

Poorly-armed Syrian troops pulled out under fierce attack, and with no apparent Russian cover. The Syrian military on the same day issued a public statement calling on the Syrian Democratic Forces to reintegrate under its command. The SDF has said a compromise must be reached first over semi-autonomy for the northeastern region. Thousands of residents in the meantime fled farther south to the more protected city of Hasakeh.

Two facts are absolutely crucial. The Syrian Kurds have completed their pull out ahead of schedule, as confirmed by Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu. And, this Friday, Russia and Turkey start their joint military patrols to the depth of 7km away from the border, part of the de facto safe zone in northeast Syria.

The devil in the immense details is how Ankara is going to manage the territories that it now actually controls, and to which it plans to relocate as many as 2 million Syrian refugees.

Your oil? Mine

Then there’s the nagging issue that simply won’t go away: the American drive to “secure the oil” (Trump) and “protect” Syrian oilfields (the Pentagon), for all practical purposes from Syria.

In Geneva, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov – alongside Iran’s Javad Zarif and Turkey’s Mevlut Cavusoglu – could not have been more scathing. Lavrov said Washington’s plan is “arrogant,” and violates international law. The very American presence on Syrian soil is “illegal,” he said.

All across the Global South, especially among countries in the Non-Aligned Movement, this is being interpreted, stripped to the bone, for what it is: the United States government illegally taking possession of natural resources of a third country via a military occupation.

And the Pentagon is warning that anyone attempting to contest it will be shot on sight. It remains to be seen whether the US Deep State would be willing to engage in a hot war with Russia over a few Syrian oilfields.

Under international law, the whole “securing the oil” scam is a euphemism for pillaging, pure and simple. Every single takfiri or jihadi outfit operating across the “Greater Middle East” will converge, perversely, to the same conclusion: US “efforts” across the lands of Islam are all about the oil.

Now compare that with Russia-Iran-Turkey’s active involvement in a political solution and normalization of Syria – not to mention, behind the scenes, China, which quietly donates rice and aims for widespread investment in a pacified Syria positioned as a key Eastern Mediterranean node of the New Silk Roads.


الأميركيّون مع اللجنة الدستوريّة السوريّة غربي الفرات فقط!

سبتمبر 26, 2019

د. وفيق إبراهيم

بدأ التفاؤل بتشكيل اللجنة الدستورية السورية يتراجع لسببين: رفض الأكراد في شرق الفرات والشمال لها، والتباينات الداخلية بين أطرافها حول المواضيع الأساسية للنقاش.

وكان أطراف مؤتمر أستانة روسيا وتركيا وايران توصلوا قبل ايام عدة بمشاركة هامة من الامم المتحدة على تحديد 150 شخصية سورية سياسية هم اعضاء اللجنة الدستورية، من الموالاة والمعارضة يتولون إنتاج صيغة سياسية لحل الازمة في سورية.

فاختارت الدولة 50 عضواً ومثلها المعارضة فيما تولّت الامم المتحدة اختيار 50 شخصية سورية بموافقة الدولة على أن تبدأ هذه اللجنة أعمالها أواخر تشرين الاول المقبل بهدف انتاج آليات سياسية تنهي الحرب على سورية التي اندلعت قبل ثماني سنوات.

للتذكير فقط فإن الأميركيين والخليجيين والاتراك دعموا بشكل عسكري مباشر حيناً وبالتمويل والتسليح والتدريب دائماً نحو مئة الف ارهابي ونيّف معظمهم من الأجانب الذين اخترقوا الحدود السورية بتغطية من مخابرات الدول المجاورة.

وكان الهدف اسقاط الدولة السورية او تفتيتها. لكن الانتصارات العسكرية لمحور الدولة وحلفائها الروس وحزب الله والايرانيين، أدى الى انكفاء الارهاب الى شرقي الفرات والشمال بموازاة احتلال تركي لعفرين وادلب بلبوس منظمات ارهابية.

ضمن هذه المعطيات بدأ محور أستانة الثلاثي محاولات لإطلاق تسوية سياسية منذ عامين ضمن معادلة الإصرار السوري الايراني على تحرير البلاد والمراوغة التركية الباحثة عن نفوذ عثماني لاردوغان وهندسة روسية تريد تحرير سورية مع جذب تركيا اليها وعدم فتح حرب كبيرة مع الاميركيين.

لقد بدا ان هناك ربطاً تركياً بين سحب «ارهابيي انقرة» من ادلب وبين تشكيل لجنة دستورية يحوز الترك فيها، على وجود سياسي من بين مناصريهم من الاخوان المسلمين السوريين.

فكان ان احتكرت تركيا وبشكل شبه كامل لائحة المشاركين على لوائح المعارضة وعلى رأسهم نصر الحريري رئيس ما يسمّى اللجنة العليا للمفاوضات وذلك على حساب إبعاد المعارضين من انصار السعودية واوروبا و»إسرائيل».

فأصبحت اللجنة الدستورية مؤلفة من موالين للدولة وآخرين للمعارضة المحسوبة على تركيا ومستقلين يحظون باهتمام مصري بموافقة الدولة وبدا ان شرط حيازة ثلثي الأعضاء لإصدار اي قرار يندرج في اطار عرقلة اعمال لجنة دستورية لا يزال التأثير الخارجي على اعضائها كبيراً، ففيما تستطيع الدولة اتخاذ أي قرار تراه لمصلحة شعبها، يعجز ممثلو المعارضة عن قبول أي اقتراح من دون موافقة تركية مسبقة وربما سعودية وأميركية وذلك لتأمين تأييد حولها من الاقليم والخارج.

هناك ما بدأ يلوح ايضاً كخلافات اكثر عمقاً، فالدولة ترى اللجنة الدستورية آلية لتعديلات دستورية من خلال الدولة الحالية، بما يجب ان يعكس برأيها مسألتين: دستورية الدولة ونظامها المغطى بأكثر من انتخابات داخلية، والتأييد الشعبي الواسع لها الذي تجب ترجمته بتعديلات في الدستور الحالي لتوفير مشاركات شعبية سورية وازنة.

بالمقابل عادت المعارضة الى اساليبها السابقة، بإطلاق شعارات قالت فيها اللجنة الدستورية انها تأسست لإلغاء الدستور الحالي وبناء دستور جديد وانتخابات رئاسية ونيابية يشارك فيها النازحون السوريون في أماكن نزوحهم في تركيا والأردن واوروبا وشمال سورية وشرقها وبعض انحاء لبنان، على ان يتولى مندوبون تابعون للامم المتحدة الاشراف على الانتخابات في مناطق الدولة، وللمعارضة شرطٌ آخر وهو إبعاد الدولة السورية ومقاتلي حزب الله والتنظيمات الاقليمية الموالية له والروس والمستشارين الايرانيين عن أماكن الاقتراع غربي سورية.

هذه بعضٌ من النقاط المختلف عليها، والتي لن تكون معالجتها سهلة، لانها بنيوية من داخل الوظائف الاساسية للجنة الدستورية.

لذلك فإن الذين يطرحونها منذ الآن انما يريدون افشال اللجنة الدستورية مسبقاً او في ما بعد.

لجهة المساعي الاميركية لنسف هذه اللجنة او دفعها لتكون اداة لصراع تركي سوري أو تركي روسي فتستعمل الأكراد في شرقي الفرات كآلية اساسية لعرقلة دورها، بشكل يبدو فيه الهدف الاميركي هو عرقلة الانسحاب التركي من ادلب وما عودة الأميركين الى جذب الترك عبر تنشيط موضوع المنطقة الآمنة معهم عند الحدود مع سورية إلا من هذه الوسائل الاضافية.

فليس هناك من يعتقد ان اكراد الشمال وبعض الشرق يستطيعون تبني موقف رافض للجنة الدستورية من دون طلب اميركي مباشر يستلهمونه او يأتمرون به.

لقد اعتصم حزب الاتحاد الديموقراطي الكردي وآلياته السياسية والعسكرية في الادارة الذاتية لمجلس سورية الديموقراطية وقوات سورية الديموقراطية بصمت وصولاً الى حدود التجاهل، اثناء مفاوضات ثلاثي أستانة حول اللجنة الدستورية مكتفين بمفاوضات سرية كانوا يجرونها في تلك المرحلة مع الدولة السورية.

وفجأة تعمدوا إعلان رفضهم للجنة الدستورية بعد تشكلها مباشرة وبذريعة أنها لا تضم اكراداً موالين لهم، علماً ان هناك عضوين كرديين من ممثلي المعارضة في اللجنة ينتمون الى المجلس الوطني الكردي.

وتبين أن «قسد» تطلب تمثيلاً كردياً مستقلاً داخل اللجنة الدستوري، لا علاقة له لا بالدولة ولا بالمعارضة، وهذا يعني انها تريد تمثيل شعب مستقل هم الأكراد مع جغرافيا خاصة بهم هي شمال وشرق سورية.

وهذا هدف اميركي يريد تفتيت سورية بواسطة الاكراد من جهة وتركيا من جهة ثانية. الامر الذي يوضح ان الاميركيين يؤيدون اللجنة الدستورية في غرب الفرات فقط، مقابل اعترافهم بدولة للكرد في الشمال والشرق.

اللجنة الدستورية الى اين؟

انها ذاهبة لعقد الكثير من اللقاءات بما يعزز من المرجعية الدولية لثلاثية أستانة، لكن التوصل الى حلول دستورية مسألة صعبة، لأن حل الازمة يحتاج الى تحرير إدلب وحشر الأتراك في زاوية ضيقة وهذا ما تعمل عليه الدولة السورية مع الروس، بعد استنفاد الوسائل السياسية لإقناع اردوغان بأن الدولة العثمانية سقطت الى الأبد منذ مئة عام واصبح من المستحيل إعادة إحيائها.

Bias, Lies and Videotape: Doubts Dog ‘Confirmed’ Syria Chemical Attacks

Disturbing new evidence suggests 2018 incident might’ve been staged, putting everything else, including U.S. retaliation, into question.

Global Research, June 21, 2019

Thanks to an explosive internal memo, there is no reason to believe the claims put forward by the Syrian opposition that President Bashar al-Assad’s government used chemical weapons against innocent civilians in Douma back in April. This is a scenario I have questioned from the beginning.

It also calls into question all the other conclusions and reports by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which was assigned in 2014 “to establish facts surrounding allegations of the use of toxic chemicals, reportedly chlorine, for hostile purposes in the Syrian Arab Republic.”

As you recall, the Trump administration initiated a coordinated bombing of Syrian government facilities with the UK and France within days of the Douma incident and before a full investigation of the scene could be completed, charging Assad with the “barbaric act” of using “banned chemical weapons” to kill dozens of people on the scene. Bomb first, ask questions later.

The OPCW began their investigation days after the strikes. The group drew on witness testimonies, environmental and biomedical sample analysis results, and additional digital information from witnesses (i.e. video and still photography), as well as toxicological and ballistic analyses. In July 2018, the OPCW released an interim report on Douma that said “no organophosphorus nerve agents or their degradation products were detected, either in the environmental samples or in plasma samples from the alleged casualties,” but that chlorine, which is not a banned chemical weapon, was detected there.

The report cited ballistic tests that indicated that the canisters found at two locations on the scene were dropped from the air (witnesses blamed Assad’s forces), but investigations were ongoing. The final report in March reiterated the ballistics data, and the conclusions were just as underwhelming, saying that all of the evidence gathered there provides “reasonable grounds that the use of a toxic chemical as a weapon took place,” due in part to traces of chlorine and explosives at the impact sites.

Now, the leaked internal report apparently suppressed by the OPCW says there is a “high probability” that a pair of chlorine gas cylinders that had been claimed as the source of the toxic chemical had been planted there by hand and not dropped by aircraft. This was based on extensive engineering assessments and computer modeling as well as all of the evidence previously afforded to the OPCW.

What does this mean? To my mind, the canisters were planted by the opposition in an effort to frame the Syrian government.

The OPCW has confirmed with the validity of this shocking document and has offered statements to reporters, including Peter Hitchens, who published the organization’s response to him on May 16.

The ramifications of this turn of events extend far beyond simply disproving the allegations concerning the events in April 2018. The credibility of the OPCW itself and every report and conclusion it has released concerning allegations of chemical weapons use by the Syrian government are now suspect. The extent to which the OPCW has, almost exclusively, relied upon the same Syrian opposition sources who are now suspected of fabricating the Douma events raises serious questions about both the methodology and motivation of an organization that had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013 for “its extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons.”

In a response to Agence France-Presse (AFP), OPCW director general Fernando Ariasacknowledged there is an internal probe into the memo leak but that he continues to “stand by the impartial and professional conclusions” of the group’s original report. He played down the role of the memo’s author, Ian Henderson, and said his alternative hypotheses were not included in the final OPCW report because they “pointed at possible attribution” and were therefore outside the scope of the OPCW’s fact finding mission in Syria.

Self-produced videos and witness statements provided by the pro-opposition Violations Documentation Center, Syrian Civil Defense (also known as the White Helmets), and the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), a non-profit organization that operates hospitals in opposition-controlled Syria, represented the heart and soul of the case against the Syrian government regarding the events in Douma. To my mind, the internal memo now suggests that these actors were engaging in a systemic effort to disseminate disinformation that would facilitate Western military intervention with the goal of removing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power.

This theory has been advanced by pro-Assad forces and their Russian partners for some time. But independent reporting on the ground since the Douma incident has sussed out many of the same concerns. From James Harkin, director of the Center for Investigative Journalism and a fellow at Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center, who traveled to the site of the attacks and reported for The Intercept in February of this year:

The imperative to grab the fleeting attention of an international audience certainly seems to have influenced the presentation of the evidence. In the videos and photos that appeared that evening, most analysts and observers agree that there were some signs that the bodies and gas canisters had been moved or tampered with after the event for maximum impact. The Syrian media activists who’d arrived at the apartment block with the dead people weren’t the first to arrive on the scene; they’d heard about the deaths from White Helmet workers and doctors at the hospital.

The relationship between the OPCW and the Syrian opposition can be traced back to 2013. That was when the OPCW was given the responsibility of eliminating Syria’s declared arsenal of chemical weapons; this task was largely completed by 2014. However, the Syrian opposition began making persistent allegations of chemical weapon attacks by the Syrian government in which chlorine, a substance not covered by Syria’s obligation to be disarmed of chemical weapons, was used. In response, the OPCW established the Fact Finding Mission (FFM) in 2014 “to establish facts surrounding allegations of the use of toxic chemicals, reportedly chlorine, for hostile purposes in the Syrian Arab Republic.”

The priority of effort for the FFM early on was to investigate allegations of the use of chlorine as a weapon. Since, according to its May 2014 summary, “all reported incidents took place at locations that the Syrian Government considers to be outside its effective control,” the FFM determined that the success of its mission was contingent upon “identification of key actors, such as local authorities and/or representatives of armed opposition groups in charge of the territories in which these locations are situated; the establishment of contacts with these groups in an atmosphere of mutual trust and confidence that allows the mandate and objectives of the FFM to be communicated.”

So from its very inception, the FFM had to rely on the anti-Assad opposition and its supporters for nearly everything. The document that governed the conduct of the FFM’s work in Syria was premised on the fact that the mission would be dependent in part upon “opposition representatives” to coordinate, along with the United Nations, the “security, logistical and operational aspects of the OPCW FFM,” including liaising “for the purposes of making available persons for interviews.”

One could sense the bias resulting from such an arrangement when, acting on information provided to it by the opposition regarding an “alleged attack with chlorine” on the towns of Kafr Zeyta and Al-Lataminah, the FFM changed its original plans to investigate an alleged chlorine attack on the town of Harasta. This decision, the FFM reported, “was welcomed by the opposition.” When the FFM attempted to inspect Kafr Zeyta, however, it was attacked by opposition forces, with one of its vehicles destroyed by a roadside bomb, one inspector wounded, and several inspectors detained by opposition fighters.

The inability to go to Kafr Zeyta precluded the group from “presenting definitive conclusions,” according to the report. But that did not stop the FFM from saying that the information given to them from these opposition sources, “including treating physicians with whom the FFM was able to establish contact,” and public domain material, “lends credence to the view that toxic chemicals, most likely pulmonary irritating agents such as chlorine, have been used in a systematic manner in a number of attacks” against Kafr Zeyta.

So the conclusion/non-conclusion was based not on any onsite investigation, but rather videos produced by the opposition and subsequently released via social media and interviews also likely set up by opposition groups (White Helmets, SAMS, etc.), which we know, according to their own documents, served as the key liaisons for the FFM on the ground.

All of this is worrisome. It is unclear at this point how many Syrian chemical attacks have been truly confirmed since the start of the war. In February of this year, the Global Policy Institute released a report saying there were 336 such reports, but they were broken down into “confirmed,” “credibly substantiated,” and “comprehensively confirmed.” Out of the total, 111 were given the rigorous “comprehensively confirmed” tag, which, according to the group, meant the incidents were “were investigated and confirmed by competent international bodies or backed up by at least three highly reliable independent sources of evidence.”

They do not go into further detail about those bodies and sources, but are sure to thank the White Helmets and their “implementing partner” Mayday Rescue and Violations Documentation Center, among other groups, as “friends and partners” in the study. So it becomes clear, looking at the Kafr Zeytan inspection and beyond, that the same opposition sources that are informing the now-dubious OPCW reports are also delivering data and “assistance” to outside groups reaching international audiences, too.

The role of the OPCW in sustaining the claims made by the obviously biased Syrian opposition sources cannot be understated—by confirming the allegations of chemical weapons use in Douma, the OPCW lent credibility to claims that otherwise should not—and indeed would not—have been granted, and in doing so violated the very operating procedures that had been put in place by the OPCW to protect the credibility of the organization and its findings.

There is an old prosecutorial rule—one lie, all lies—that comes into play in this case. With the leaked internal report out there, suggesting that the sources in the Douma investigation were agenda-driven and dishonest, all information ever provided to the OPCW by the White Helmets, SAMS, and other Syrian opposition groups must now, in my mind, be viewed as tainted and therefore unusable.


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Scott Ritter is a former Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm, and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research

Featured image is from Mikhail Semenov /Shutterstock

Sky News and the Western Press Have Once Again Failed Syria

By Vanessa Beeley

Recent storylines from the Western press on the “Idlib” narrative, particularly the extraordinary spate of “on-the-ground” reports from Sky News reporter Alex Crawford, have failed to paint an accurate picture of the reality faced by Syrian civilians.

Brett McGurk – the U.S. government’s Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL — described Idlib as “the largest Al Qaeda safe haven since 9/11,” adding that the presence of Al Qaeda in Idlib was a “huge problem” and had been so “for some time.” Mint Press journalist Whitney Webb covered McGurk’s statements and U.S. policy in Idlib in late 2018.

McGurk’s statement seems to have been forgotten by both corporate media and “human rights” commentators alike since the Syrian Army’s military campaign to liberate areas of Idlib began in earnest a few weeks ago. In fact, there seems to be an ongoing campaign by the Western press to normalize militant groups affiliated with Al Qaeda.

On May 27, 2019 a headline in a Reuters article read “Idlib government chief urges defense against Assad attack” (emphasis added). The “head” of the Idlib “Salvation Government,” Fawaz Hilal, was calling upon Turkey to intervene on their behalf to protect them from SAA military advances.

While Reuters openly admits that the Salvation Government is heavily backed by Hayat Tahrir Al Sham (HTS)/Al Qaeda, there is minimal reference to the daily war crimes committed by armed groups against civilians in Syrian government-secured territory as a valid reason for the uptick in Syrian military operations to liberate areas of Idlib province.

The reader is ultimately left with the impression that the Salvation Government is legitimate Syrian “opposition” rather than an Al Qaeda construct established with the involvement of the notorious Abu Mohammed Al-Jolani.

Idlib Syria Media

Even the partisan Crisis Group, which tends to lean heavily in favor of the U.S. Coalition, described the Salvation Government’s clear Al Qaeda affiliations and its role in securing financing for the violent, extremist organization. A January 2019 Crisis Group report concluded:

The centrepiece of HTS’s project is the ‘Salvation Government,’ formed in November 2017 … For HTS, the Salvation Government seems to be both a political project and a money-making tool.”

Supposed to be a safe place

Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and former European director of Human Rights Watch, told the BBC:

Idlib was supposed to be a safe place. Where war should not be, so it has to end. We cannot have war take place in what is essentially a refugee camp.”

Egeland “disappeared” the estimated 120,000 terrorist fighters controlling the majority of Idlib province and pockets of northern Hama. Aleppo MP and head of the Aleppo Chamber of Commerce, Fares Shehabi, told the BBC in September 2018 that 100,000 extremist fighters were controlling Idlib, 40,000 of whom were “hard-core radicals.”

Shehabi has since told me that he believes the numbers to have increased to 120,000 extremist fighters, with up to 50,000 hard-core radicals that Shehabi says includes large numbers of foreign mercenaries, hardline soldiers from around the world. While these numbers may be on the high side, it is clear that the size of the Al Qaeda-dominated force in Idlib is alarming.

Idlib Syria Media

Considerable numbers of “hard-core” extremists were bused to Idlib after the liberation of East Aleppo, Homs, Eastern Ghouta and southern provinces of Syria from December 2016 through July/August 2018 as part of Syrian government amnesty and reconciliation deals.

By whitewashing the role of the Idlib mercenaries and extremist groups — which include Jaish Al Islam, who ruled Douma with a regime of torture, execution, slave labor and imprisonment — the Western press has acted as de facto protection racketeers for the very forces exploiting civilians as human shields in Idlib and preventing their exodus via the Russian/Syrian-established humanitarian corridors.

Embedded video

This is a familiar pattern that was seen previously during the liberation of East Aleppo and Eastern Ghouta, when extremist groups would shell or snipe fleeing civilians, often blaming the crimes on advancing SAA forces.

A narrow escape?

Sky News’ Alex Crawford first produced a story from inside Idlib, claiming her team had been “deliberately” targeted by Syrian government forces. Crawford and her team said a Syrian drone had zeroed in on them, relaying their location to the SAA.

Crawford Idlib

Syria: Sky News witnesses horrors of Syria’s last rebel outpost

Sky’s Alex Crawford says the crew was attacked with tank shells, as an activist they were travelling with was hit by shrapnel.


Crawford most likely entered Idlib via the Turkish border and was being escorted by the HTS fighters on motorbikes, which were visible in a longer video published by Sky News. Under these circumstances and in the midst of an ongoing military campaign, traveling with a known extremist group through their enclave while they were actively engaged in combat with the Syrian Army would indicate that the SAA was not targeting journalists, but instead the extremists with whom they traveled.

The military drones — which Crawford alleges were used to “pinpoint” her team’s location prior to a “deliberate” attack — were never shown in the video produced by Sky News, nor is there any sound of drone activity in the video. This reporter has heard drones in action in Gaza during the 2012 Israeli offensive and their sound is very audible, particularly when they descend to attack or close-surveillance altitude.

Idlib Syria Media Sky News

Crawford and the Sky News team also don’t appear to be wearing “Press” tabards or helmets in their video report, although it is difficult to distinguish much at all in the report, save a lot of confusion and expletives from Crawford.

Idlib Syria Media Sky News

Crawford’s Sky News report carried the headline: “Syria: Sky News witnesses horrors of Syria’s last rebel outpost” (emphasis added), reducing HTS — an established terror group — to simply “rebels.”

The “civilian activist” described by Crawford  in her report is none other than Nusra Front acolyte Bilal Abdul Kareem, who is (by his own admission) on the U.S terrorist “kill list.” In a July 2018 Rolling Stone article, Kareem claimed that he was tipped off by a Turkish source that “he had been put on a list of targets at Incirlik Air base, a launching pad for American drones.

Bilal Abdul Kareem | Syria

Crawford’s working with Kareem, while wearing a “long black abaya” without any press identification in HTS-held territory, was not only a foolhardy enterprise, but a very risky endeavor in a time of war.

Sky News is not the first media outlet to collaborate with Kareem. In a July, 2017 article for Mint Press News, journalist Whitney Webb delved into Kareem’s working relationship with CNN when Kareem assisted in the making of the Clarissa Ward award winning documentary, “Undercover in Syria”.

Kareem was responsible for organising access to the extremist-held territory for the CNN team. In the article, Webb highlights the armed group members who were interviewed by journalist Max Blumenthal – who “confirmed that Kareem was a well-known member of al-Nusra and was commonly referred to as the “American mujahid.”

Was Crawford unaware of Kareem’s ties to Al Qaeda when the Sky News team chose him as their “activist” escort and fixer?

According to its report, Sky News retreated to the town of Khan Sheikhoun, another Nusra Front/HTS stronghold in Idlib. The ease of movement with which Sky News was able to traverse Idlib territory, which is amongst the most densely populated by Al Qaeda offshoots and extremist underling groups, without threat of kidnap or worse is perplexing. Journalists are regularly targeted or kidnapped by terrorist groups operating in Syria.

The last “last hospital”

When challenged on the veracity of her maiden report from Idlib, Crawford resorted to a tried and tested rallying cry for Western journalists still clamoring to paint Syria’s opposition forces as legitimate anti-government resistance – the last hospital.

Crawford expressed outrage at the alleged targeting of “hospitals” by the Syrian government and its allies. The “last hospital” narrative, previously used heavily in East Aleppo, comprised repeatedly recycled sensationalist headlines that the Syrian government and its allies were deliberately targeting the last remaining hospital in a given area during the final stages of liberation from armed groups — a narrative discredited by independent journalists reporting on the ground in Aleppo during the final stages of the military campaign to liberate East Aleppo from the grip of international terrorism.

Idlib Syria Media

I covered the “last hospital” narrative in a separate article for MintPress, where I highlight how this narrative is deployed by many in the Western press as a distraction from the reality in Syria. It was previously brought into play — as the SAA were sweeping East Aleppo and Eastern Ghouta clean of the occupying sectarian gangs — in order to effectively protect the extremist militants who had ruled these areas for more than five years, inflicting their brutal, violent ideology upon captive civilians. The narratives served to effectively delay the release from occupation for these civilians, who were desperate to escape to the safety of government-held areas.

Idlib reality succinctly described

Peter Ford, former U.K. ambassador to Syria, explained the current operations in Idlib very succinctly:

In brief, what is happening at the moment is not a full-scale assault by Syrian government forces aimed at liberating the whole of Idlib. Rather it is a limited operation, the main goal of which is to chip away at the southern fringes of what is effectively the Al Qaeda caliphate.”

The reporting from the likes of Alex Crawford and Sky News does not convey this reality nor does it reveal the existence of the Al Qaeda caliphate described by Ford. Crawford has entirely disappeared the extremist group’s aggression against the border towns and villages which has been ongoing since the establishment of the “deconfliction zones” in September 2018 and which entirely validates the Syrian military response to defend civilians against further bloodshed to halt those violations.

It must also not be forgotten that another of the Sochi agreement terms was the freeing up of the M5 highway that links Idlib to the rest of Syria and ultimately serves as the main trade route from Turkey to Syria and on into Jordan, whose trade borders with Syria have been successfully reopened after liberation of the south of Syria from the armed-group’s occupation.

Idlib Syria Media

The HTS control of significant areas of the M5 route has prevented this agreed-upon development and is another reason for the recent intensification of Syrian allied military activity in Idlib — again ignored completely by the majority of the Western press, whose selective coverage plays into the hands of these extremist groups.

Were Sky News to adhere to true journalism ethics, it would identify Turkey, a member of NATO, as the cause of the recent military confrontation that is threatening civilian lives on both sides of the Idlib/Hama border. As Peter Ford states:

The jihadis have been bolstered with arms supplied by Turkey (including tanks and deadly U.S.-made TOW anti-tank weapons) and paid for by Qatar, which also pays salaries. As long as Turkey continues to prop up the jihadis and Qatar to fund them, fighting is likely to continue, with the [Syrian] government continuing to put its faith in softening up with aerial bombing and artillery shelling rather than risk its sparse ground forces.”

Ford even offers a pragmatic solution in Idlib, never presented or even examined by the Western press:

The only way realistically to limit the fighting is for Turkey to withdraw its support for the jihadis and let them melt back into the Turkish border zone where they could affiliate with the Turkish-controlled militias there. This would still leave a problem for later but Idlib could breathe.”

A deliberate attempt to mislead

There is no nuance to the Sky News reports, no analysis of complexity, no diverging opinions or context. Therefore, in my opinion, this is not journalism; it is a deliberate intent to mislead a gullible public fed a media diet of “war on terror” fear and insecurity for years. It is information bias and cynical misdirection of narratives designed to support U.S. military adventurism in Syria and the region.

After Crawford was taken to task by educated Twitter accounts, she put out a Tweet stating:

Sometimes, just sometimes, twitter and some on it, make me want to explode with frustration at the unregulated untruths and constant misrepresentation of facts without check.”

No, Ms. Crawford, what is happening is that people who inform themselves no longer accept unregulated untruths and constant misrepresentation of facts without check from media channels whose public trust has been irreparably eroded by years of falsification and obfuscation of “facts” in relation to the U.S. Coalition war waged against Syria since 2011.

The recently published documentary, The Veto, a collaboration between Syrian journalist Rafiq Lutf and this correspondent, exposes the depth of media complicity in sustaining the Syrian conflict and the level of fabrication by CNN and other mainstream channels that have heavily influenced public opinion against the Syrian government since the early days of the campaign to topple President Bashar Al Assad from power and to destabilize the country.

The true frustration explosion is the public response to the conversion of their media into a fifth column for power and the resulting mayhem, bloodshed and misery it brings to the peoples of countries targeted for regime change or resource plundering by the U.S. and allied globalist nations — powers that have zero regard for “human rights” when it comes to achieving their aims and no qualms about usurping any government or population that stands in their way.

We live in an unprecedented age of media and state deceit and the expression of frustration is a natural reaction when we wake up to this gaslighting abuse. Crawford and other establishment journalists who have effectively served the abusers — the state mind-controllers — need to be aware that the long-time victims are finally turning against them. They have two choices: to continue serving power or finally becoming agents of the people. Which will it be?

حجة العرب الجاهزة لتبرير التخاذل.. كذبة “بيع الجولان” والعداء لإيران…..بقلم علي مخلوف

الصورة – للمعارض عبدالجليل السعيد و أفيخاي أدرعي

مع تبخر “ثورتهم” كبقعة ماء وسط صحراء، واختفاء طناجر النضال العرعورية، وتراشق قادتهم بتهم الفساد وسرقة أموال المساعدات، يروج من تبقى مما تُسمى بالمعارضة ومؤيدوها في الخارج أكاذيباً حول الجولان المحتل تعود للعام 1967 وأن المنطقة قد تم بيعها ! ولأن الحقيقة لا يمكن إنكارها تتزامن تلك الأكاذيب مع محاولة أمريكا الاعتراف بالهضبة المحتلة تحت السيادة الإسرائيلية.

عندما وجه الرئيس حافظ الأسد القوات العسكرية لتحرير الجولان لم نسمع صوتاً إسرائيلياً يقول ” توقف سيادة الرئيس لقد بعتنا الجولان أنسيت؟ ” لماذا لم يتكلم الإسرائيليون؟ لم لم يبرزوا الشيكات أو وثائق الأموال التي يزعم “المعارضون ” أنها موجودة؟! وإن كان حصل البيع المزعوم فهل كان ليتم دون علم الولايات المتحدة والاتحاد السوفييتي مثلاً؟ لم لم تعلن هاتان الدولتان خلال العقود المنصرمة أن الجولان بيع كما يزعم المعارضون؟! لماذا لم يعلن مجلس الأمن عن بيع الجولان منذ ذلك الوقت أيضاً ؟!

ويزعم هؤلاء بأن الرئيس حافظ الأسد باع الجولان في عام 1967، فلماذا هجم عليها في الـ 1973 لاستعادة الأراضي السورية المحتلة؟!

صرح الرئيس الأمريكي دونالد ترامب بأنه سيعترف بالجولان السوري المحتل إسرائيلياً، فقامت الدنيا، السوريون لوحوا عبر نائب وزير خارجيتهم فيصل المقداد بأن لهم الحق في استعادة الجولان بأي طريقة وأنهم يعتمدون على القوى الوطنية الشعبية الأمر الذي اعتُبر أنه تمهيد للإعلان عن مقاومة سورية شعبية لتحرير الجولان، كذلك العرب أعلنوا رفضهم وتنديدهم، وأيضاً الفرنسيون ومجلس الأمن رفض ذلك القرار لأنه منافي للشرعية الدولية، فلو كان حصل بيع للجولان كما يدّعي “مجاهدو الأقفية ومعارضو الفنادق” لما كنا رأينا ما رأينا اليوم أيضاً.

وعن كذبة أن الدولة السورية لم تطلق رصاصة واحدة على الجولان، فإن حرب تشرين وماحدث على جبهة الجولان واستعادة بحرية طبرية ثم التغير العسكري في سير المعركة بسبب خذلان البعض والدعم الغربي اللامحدود للكيان ، يكذب تلك الادعاءات، ولنفترض أن الرئيس بشار الأسد أعلن الحرب على إسرائيل من أجل استعادة الجولان فهل سيقف العرب والمعارضون السوريون معه؟! سابقاً كانت سورية تقول بأنها تحتفظ لنفسها بحق استعادة الأراضي المحتلة مع التأكيد على حقيقة أنها لاتستطيع لوحدها شن حرب على إسرائيل، وقتها أيضاً كانت إسرائيل تتمتع بالدعم الغربي، والعرب منقسمون ولا يمكن الثقة بأغلب أنظمتهم، اليوم إسرائيل تتمتع أيضاً بدعم عربي، والعلاقات الإسرائيلية ـ العربية باتت مفضوحة أمام الجميع وخصوصاً من بعض أنظمة الخليج، أيضاً فإن كلاً من مصر والأردن حتى لو أردنا حسن الظن بهما لن يستطيعا فعل شيء فهما على اتفاق سلام وتطبيع مع إسرائيل! إذا من بقي؟ أليست إيران حليفة سورية هي عدو العرب الأكبر؟ أليس حزب الله مصدر كابوس لهم؟ إن كان العرب قد خذلوا الحزب ووقفوا ضده في تموز فكيف الآن مع دمشق ؟

المعارضون السوريون ذاتهم كشفوا عمّا يمكن أن يكون عليه مستقبل سورية فيما لو نجحوا في الوصول إلى السلطة، المشافي الإسرائيلية التي عالجت جرحى “المجاهدين الأشاوس” تشهد، والشيخ الادلبي الذي التقى بمراسل القناة الثانية الإسرائيلية بريف ادلب والذي قال “إن قال شارون أنه ضد بشار الأسد فهو عيني” أيضاً يشهد، كذلك كمال اللبواني الذي كشف عن مشروع يرتكز على بيع هضبة الجولان السورية المحتلة الى اسرائيل بعد إسقاط النظام مقابل احلال السلام معها يشهد، وبسمة قضماني التي زارت إسرائيل تشهد، وفريد الغادري الذي قال أنه فور سقوط “النظام” سيرفرف العلم الإسرائيلي فوق دمشق ويحل السلام أيضاً يشهد.

زيارة مدير المكتب الإعلامي في ما تُسمى منصة آستانة عبد الجليل السعيد إلى فلسطين المحتلة، وظهوره في صور جمعته، ووفد مرافق له، مع افيخاي ادرعي، الناطق الرسمي باسم الجيش الإسرائيلي أيضاً تشهد على العمالة، وكذلك أيضاً ما يُسمى بمنسق بـ”جبهة الإنقاذ الوطني” السورية المعارضة فهد المصري و المسؤول السابق في القيادة المشتركة للجيش الحر، الذي أطلق رسالته عبر تلفزيون i24 الإسرائيلي والتي قال فيها “ندعو كافة القوى الإقليمية الفاعلة ومنها “إسرائيل” لتشكيل مجلس للأمن الإقليمي، برعاية الأمم المتحدة.. نجلس سويا للتنسيق حول أمن المنطقة يشهد على كذب وعمالة ما تُسمى بالمعارضة.

عبدالجليل السعيد و أفيخاي أدرعي

أكثر كذبة عهراً يتم ترويجها أن سورية تنسق مع إسرائيل! جيش العدو يستهدف الجيش السوري باعتداءات ويتم الرد عليها ويقولون لكن يتعاونون مع إسرائيل! دمشق تدعم حزب الله ويقولون لك تنسق مع إسرائيل؟ السوريون دعموا حركات المقاومة الفلسطينية ويقولون لك دمشق تنسق مع إسرائيل؟ سورية حليفة إيران الكبرى ثم يقولون لك تنسق مع إسرائيل؟ بعض الأنظمة العربية المتهتكة والمعارضون يروجون لذلك في وقت تصرح فيه تل أبيب بعلاقات متطورة مع مملكة الصرف الصحي الوهابية في الحجاز، وفي وقت يقوم فيه مسؤولون إسرائيليون بزيارات رسمية لعواصم خليجية !

إحدى الصحف الإسرائيلية المشهورة نشرت تقريرا عن الجهود الإسرائيلية لإبعاد إيران ووكلائها عن هضبة الجولان، وذلك عبر هجمات جوية، وأيضا عبر تزويد القوات التي تحارب الجيش السوري بالسلاح والأموال، على حد قولها، مستندةً في تقريرها إلى معلومات نشرتها المدونة الإسرائيلية الخبيرة في الشأن السوري، إليزابيث تسوركوبكشفت فيه أن إسرائيل زادت من حجم الإمدادات التي تنقلها لـ”الثوار” حسب وصفها، أما صحيفة لوبوان الفرنسية فقد نشرت بتاريخ 12/9/2018 تقريراً عن تسليح إسرائيل لفصائل المعارضة السورية. حيث كشفت كيف قامت إسرائيل بتسليح ودفع رواتب لآلاف المقاتلين المعارضين للقيادة السورية، وذلك لتأمين حدودها ومواجهة النفوذ الإيراني في سوريا، أما صحيفة “فورين بوليسي” الأمريكية فقد ذكرت أن إسرائيل ظلت تموّل وتسلّح خلال السنوات القليلة الماضية 12 مجموعة على الأقل من المعارضة المسلحة لمنع مليشيات تدعمها إيران وكذلك مقاتلي تنظيم الدولة من الاستيلاء على مواقع قريبة منها، وقد بدأ الكيان الصهيوني ذلك الدعم في العام 2013 لميليشيات تابعة للحر بالقنيطرة ودرعا والمناطق الجنوبية من ضواحي دمشق، من بينها فصيلي “فرسان الجولان” و”لواء عمر بن الخطاب”فيما صرح رئيس هيئة اركان الجيش المنتهية ولايته غادي ايزنكوت في مقابلة مع صحيفة صنداي تايمز البريطانية، أن اسرائيل زودت مجموعات معارضة بأسلحة خفيفة للدفاع عن النفس.

وبعد ذلك يأتي المعارضون المرتبطون إسرائيلياً وعربياً وأمريكياً ليتحدثوا عن الجولان والانتماء الوطني والعداء لإسرائيل!

The Hero of the Arab World

Wednesday, 27 February 2019 08:15

President Bashar  Al-Assad’s recent   historic visit to Iran and the talks held with Sayyed Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution of Iran and President Hassan Rouhani, has indeed been a historic, landmark and  fruitful visit as a message of gratitude,  true friendship, solidarity, peace and amity.

President Assad was received by Sayyed Ali Khamenei as the victorious ‘ Leader of Arabs’, as outlined by the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution; President Assad has been for years leading his country and people away from  dangers, poverty, and sinister terrorist plots and conspiracies. The last 8 years of the terrorist war launched against Syria, unfortunately backed by some  whom President Assad, Syrian Army, brothers and allies, were defending, has indeed made of his visit to Tehran, the capital of the Resistance against oppression, aggression and terrorism, a landmark visit by all accounts.

It has been a visit of gratitude to the brothers in arms who firmly supported Syrians in their war against terrorism, and defense of the entire globe. The wise worldwide do recognize that without such  a strategic unity in blood against Al-Qaeda and ISIS affiliates, the region would have been turned by now into  huge slaughterhouses!  President Assad visited the country which has been standing with his own people and their interests; Iran has been able with the wisdom of its leaders and people, to save the region from being totally and entirely exploited by warmongers and occupiers.


Syria’s war against terrorists, mainly exported to Syria from all around the globe, has achieved big strides on the way of all-out cleansing of every span of the Syrian soil from Arab and foreign backed and financed terrorists. The visit is but a definite stop on the way of the more of withstanding, steadfastness and hardships to face as to remain independent, steadfast and victorious. The war is still waged against those who adore freedom, sovereignty and independence.

Actually, President Assad, in light of his heroic and brave stances, and rejection to be subdued and kneel down to the colonialists and ewes with their greed, threats, or even carrots, is but the world number. 1 Leader when it comes to fighting oppression and terrorism on behalf of all as to save what he has been able to save.  One day, history would cite this President as the Man who stood tall and fought the most of terrorists and their backers and could save the most of the region, if not the world, from terrorists.

The visit, probably for the wise, is a message of peace. Neither the Syrians, nor the Iranians, have ever been aggressors. It is a visit of a definite everlasting stances of defense, not only against terrorists and their backers, but occupiers too. As underscored, governments of the region, if not the whole world, should refrain from being a satellite in the US orbit! US and Western interests are not in line with peoples’ interests.

Submission and yes-sir policies by those who lost their resources and souls to Lucifer are indeed catastrophic with dire consequences against the majority of humanity. It has been a message for the necessity as to formulate and adopt balanced and equilibrium policies on the basis of common respect for the sovereignty of states and non-interference in their domestic affairs.

Indeed, Syria and Iran are their each other’s strategic  depth and with a clear message of standing on vigil as to preserve the victories and achievements accomplished against terrorism and its backers. Syria’s victory against terrorism is but for all lovers of humanity, freedom, peace and fraternity.

Dr. Mohamad Abdo Al-Ibrahim






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الأسد في طهران المشهد الدمشقي ما بعد بعد الانتصار…!….محمد صادق الحسيني

محمد صادق الحسيني

كلّ المؤشرات والعلامات تفيد بأنّ الفصل الأخير من الهجوم الاستراتيجي للوصول الى القدس قد بدأ، وأنّ القيادة العليا في محور المقاومة قرّرت كتابة الصفحات الأخيرة من كتاب النصر الناجز…

المشهد الدمشقي في طهران يُعيد رسم الخريطة السياسية لتحالف المنتصرين على الوهابية الإرهابية والصهيونية العالمية…

إنه عناق ربع ساعة الأخيرة من زمن الصعود إلى القمم، قمم جبل الشيخ والجليل الأعلى وكلّ روابي فلسطين…!

هكذا يفسّر المتابعون لزيارة الأسد التاريخيّة المفاجئة وغير المعلنة مسبقاً لطهران ولقائه الحميم والمطوّل بالإمام السيد علي الخامنئي.

لقد أظهر الحليفان باجتماعهما الاستثنائي على بوابات طهران صورة الانكسار الأميركي على بوابات دمشق، وكتبا سوياً الفصل الأخير من فقه الصعود إلى النصر…!

نصر مؤكد ليس فقط على واشنطن وتل أبيب، بل وأيضاً على عواصم الأسر الآيلة الى الانقراض من غربان وعربان وعثمان…!

حزب الله كان حاضراً بالجنرال الحاج قاسم سليماني وكذلك عصائب الحشد الشعبي وأنصار الله والفاطميون والزينبيون وكلّ رجال الله المخلصون من أقصى الأرض إلى أقصاها من أسوار الصين إلى جبال الأطلس وكذلك أصدقاؤهم البوتينيون…!

بانتظار المزيد من مفاجآت النصر الكبرى وعلائم انكسار الإمبريالية والصهيونية والرجعية العربية ستظلّ أعيننا مشدودة إلى فلسطين التي نقاوم كلّ أشكال الطغيان والعدوان في حضرتها وبزخم عدالة قضيتها ونبل الأهداف التي تمثل وهي تشدّنا الى قمم الانتصار تلو الانتصار..!

اليد العليا لنا ونحن مَن سيعيد رسم صورة العالم الجديد…!

بعدنا طيّبين، قولوا الله…


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«النصرة» تبحث عن جلد جديد: ثوب «الإخوان» في الخدمة

صهيب عنجريني
الأربعاء 20 شباط 2019

«النصرة» تبحث عن جلد جديد: ثوب «الإخوان» في الخدمة

تشهد إدلب جهوداً حثيثة لتطعيم «منهجية النصرة» بسلوكيات «سياسية» (أ ف ب )

بدّلت «جبهة النصرة» جلدها مرات عديدة على امتداد السنوات السابقة، من دون أن يغيّر ذلك شيئاً في جوهرها المتطرف. اليوم، تتسارع جهود أبو محمد الجولاني لإعادة تصدير جماعته في صورة جديدة، تطمح إلى التشبّهبـ«جماعة الإخوان المسلمين». وإذا ما رأت خطط الجولاني النور، فإنها لن تعدو كونها «تكتيكات ضرورية» وفق ما يروج في الكواليس، مع التشدّد في التزام «الجهاد» استراتيجية ثابتة.

لا تجد «هيئة تحرير الشام/ النصرة» حرجاً في تغيير أزيائها. كلّما دعت الحاجة إلى ذلك، أثبت زعيم الجماعة المتطرفة، أبو محمد الجولاني، استعداده لتعديل التكتيكات و«المنهجيات»، وقدرته على ضبط التناقضات داخل جماعته. ولا يعدم الجولاني الوسائل والأدوات الناجعة، وخاصة حين تمنحه تعقيدات المشهد السوري «كتفاً إقليمياً» يتّكئ عليه، وهو أمرٌ لم تُحرم «النصرة» منه، باستثناء فترات مؤقتة، كانت أشدّها وطأة فترة الانكماش القطري في مستهلّ الأزمة الخليجية الأخيرة.

البراغماتية في نظر الجولاني حصان تمكن الاستعانة به دائماً، و«فقه الضرورة» جاهزٌ لتقديم «المسوّغات الشرعية». بالاستفادة مما تقدم، لا يزال مشروع «النصرة» مستمرّاً في تسجيل «النقاط»، والقفز درجات إلى أعلى السلم، في خضمّ المشاريع «الجهادية» التي انخرطت منذ مطلع العام الحالي في سباق جديد على رسم مشهدية إدلب (راجع «الأخبار»، 1 شباط). وتحظى «النصرة» بمكانة «فريدة» وسط الصراع المذكور، بوصفها قاسماً مشتركاً بين مشاريع متناقضة، تتباين رؤاها في النظر إلى الدور الوظيفي الذي يمكن للجماعة لعبه، وتتوافق على أهميتها في المعادلة.

دعم «التمكين» المستتر

توحي المعطيات المتتالية بأن السباق راهناً قد حُسم لمصلحة المشروع القطري، الذي يلحظ أهمية دعم الجولاني ومدّ يد العون لجماعته على طريق تحقيق «التمكين». وباشرت الأدوات الإدارية للجولاني نشاطاً مكثّفاً في سباق مع الوقت، لرسم ملامح «التمكين» المنشود، في صورة تتوخّى تورية «الراية السوداء» خلف ستار «مدني»، من دون أن يعني ذلك التخلّي عن «تحكيم الشريعة» بوصفه جوهر المشروع. وسمح تعزيز القبضة العسكرية لـ«تحرير الشام» بتكريس هيمنة «إدارية» لـ«حكومة الإنقاذ» على كثير من تفاصيل الحياة اليومية في إدلب، وبشكل خاص قطاعات التعليم والاقتصاد والطاقة.

>يبدو أن «تحرير الشام» بدأت تسعى إلى «بلوغ التمكين بالموعظة الحسنة»

اللافت أن هيمنة «الإنقاذ» على قطاع التعليم ركّزت تحديداً على التعليم الجامعي الخاص، فيما تركت مهمة تعليم الأطفال لـ«المكاتب الدعوية» في الدرجة الأولى. وتطالب «الإنقاذ» الجامعات والمعاهد الراغبة في مواصلة عملها بتسديد مبالغ باهظة مقابل منحها «التراخيص» اللازمة. وبالتوازي، كثّفت «سلسلة المكاتب الدعوية» في الشهرين الأخيرين «نشاطاتها التعليمية»، فافتتحت عشرات المراكز والمكاتب و«حلقات العلم» الجديدة المخصّصة للأطفال واليافعين، إضافة إلى توسيع عدد «المدارس القرآنية» التابعة لـ«دار الوحي الشريف». ودشّنت «سلسلة المكاتب الدعوية في بلاد الشام» حملة توزيع مجاني لمعونات غذائية، وسلع استهلاكية، علاوة على توزيع معونات مالية في بعض القرى والبلدات.

«الجهاد» استراتيجية ثابتة

>رغم حرص «تحرير الشام» على إظهار بعض التفاصيل التي توحي باستعدادها لالتزام الاتفاقات الخاصة بإدلب («سوتشي» على وجه الخصوص)، إلا أنها تعمل على أرض الواقع بطريقة مغايرة. وراجت أخيراً صور لوحات إعلانية عملاقة في بعض الطرق والأوتوسترادات، وقد أزيلت عنها العبارات الداعية إلى «الجهاد»، وطُليت باللون الأبيض محلّ الأسود. في المقابل، وجّهت «وزارة الأوقاف» في «حكومة الإنقاذ» رسالة إلى أئمة وخطباء المساجد، تنصّ على وجوب التزام «بث روح الجهاد في الأمة، وتحريض المسلمين على البذل والعطاء في سبيل الله… والدعوة لتحكيم الشريعة والاعتصام ورصّ الصفوف». كذلك، كثّف «المكتب الشرعي» التابع لـ«الجناح العسكري» في «تحرير الشام» أعماله «الدعوية»، وضمّ في الأسابيع الأخيرة عشرات «الدعاة» إلى كوادر «فريق العمل الدعوي/ الفاتحون»، فيما بوشرت حملة أعمال موسّعة لحفر وتجهيز سلاسل خنادق جديدة في كثير من مناطق سيطرة «تحرير الشام»، التي يُراد لها أن «تستلهم تجربة غزة»، وفقاً لما يتم تداوله في الكواليس.

“قرى «جهادية» نموذجية!

تعوّل «تحرير الشام» على نجاح مشروع «القرى النموذجية»، الذي باشرت تنفيذه قبل فترة «الإدارةُ العامة للخدمات الإنسانية»، بتمويل قطري معلن. ويتوخّى المشروع كسب «الحواضن الشعبية»، وجمع مئات العائلات في تجمعات سكنية تُدار بـ«أحكام الشريعة»، من دون الحاجة إلى «تحكيم السيف». وأُنجز بناء أولى القرى في منطقة سرجيلّا في جبل الزاوية، وتضمّ 500 شقة سكنية، فيما يستمر العمل على تشييد تجمعات مماثلة، وعلى تحسين ظروف تجمعات أخرى (موجودة سابقة) وإعادة تأهيل بناها التحتية.

واعتُمدت «منهجية» أولية لإدارة «القرى النموذجية» وفق «الشريعة الإسلامية»، وقد بوشر تنفيذها أخيراً على سبيل التجربة، استعداداً لتحويلها إلى آلية شاملة تُطبّق في كل التجمعات المماثلة. وعمّمت «إدارة القرية» التعليمات على السكان وأصحاب المحال، وعلى رأسها «إلزامية التعليم الشرعي» وإلحاق الأطفال ببرنامج «صلاتي حياتي»، والتزام أصحاب المحال بعدم بيع التبغ، وبإغلاق محالّهم في مواقيت الصلوات الخمس. ويتوخّى «المشروع» التحول إلى «نموذج ناجح للتنمية الجهادية، وتكريس العمل على أساس خدمي دعوي». ويضع على رأس أهدافه «تعزيز البيئة الحاضنة للجهاد، وامتلاك قلوب الناس، وإشراك الأهالي في تبني المشروع، والقضاء على المعاصي، وإنشاء جيل مسلم يحارب الروس والمجوس ومرتزقة النظام من خلال الدعاة العاملين في المشروع».


نحو «الأخونة»؟

لم يأتِ صبّ الاهتمام على «التمكين» من فراغ؛ إذ تعدّه بعض «الاجتهادات الشرعية» شرطاً أساسياً من شروط «حكم الشريعة» و«إقامة الحدود». وترى تلك «الاجتهادات» أنه إذا «كان في إقامة الحدود فساد يربو على مصلحة إقامتها لم تُقم»، وأن «تطبيق الحدود في حال انعدام السلطان أو ضعفه هو فرض كفاية». ويبدو أن «تحرير الشام» في مرحلتها الراهنة باتت تسعى إلى «بلوغ التمكين بالموعظة الحسنة»، على ما تلاحظه مصادر «جهادية» مواكبة للمشهد في إدلب. وتشير معلومات «الأخبار» إلى أن كواليس إدلب تشهد في الفترة الراهنة جهوداً حثيثة لتطعيم «منهجية النصرة» بسلوكيات «سياسية» تستلهم تجارب «جماعة الإخوان».

وربّما تقدم هذه التفاصيل تبريراً مفهوماً لإبعاد أبو اليقظان المصري عن الواجهة «الشرعية». وكان المصري «شرعياً في الجناح العسكري لهيئة تحرير الشام»، قبل أن يستقيل في مطلع الشهر الحالي، عقب خلاف بينه وبين «قيادة الهيئة»، التي وجّهت له إنذاراً لأنه «يخالف أوامر الجماعة ولا يلتزم بالضوابط الإعلامية التي تقدّرها». وعُرف المصري بوضوحه في التعبير عن روح «المشروع الجهادي» المتطرف، خلافاً لتيارات أخرى داخل «الهيئة» لا تجد مانعاً في المواربة إذا ما «دعت الضرورة».
ولا تمثّل هذه التغييرات سابقة في سجل «جبهة النصرة»، بل هي في الواقع تأتي إحياءً لمرحلة مماثلة عرفتها «النصرة» عقب سيطرتها مع «جيش الفتح» على كامل محافظة إدلب، وفي خضم النقاشات التي كانت مستعرة وقتذاك حول «فك الارتباط» بتنظيم «القاعدة». وراجت في تلك الفترة أحاديث عن ضرورة «تشكيل جسم سياسي لجيش الفتح» يستلهم تجربة «حركة طالبان»، الأمر الذي أعيد إلى التداول أخيراً مع تغيير المسميات (إذ لم يعد لتحالف «جيش الفتح» وجود). وكانت «الأخبار» قد تناولت المشروع الجاري إحياؤه إبّان طرحه أول مرة قبل أربعة أعوام (راجع «الأخبار» 25 أيار 2015).

«الهيئة» و«الحرّاس»: احتواء مؤقت

“>رغم الاستنفار الذي أحدثته «هبّة» تنظيم «حراس الدين» قبل أسبوعين، بطريقة توحي بأن ساعة الانفجار بينه وبين «تحرير الشام» قد دنت، إلا أن المعطيات اليوم تعكس التزام الطرفين تهدئة إعلامية لافتة. وكما كان «حراس الدين» صاحب المبادرة في التصعيد، عاد ليصبح سبّاقاً إلى إرسال إشارات التهدئة و«حسن النوايا». واعتذر التنظيم المتطرف، في بيان، عن قتل مجموعة تابعة له قائداً تابعاً لـ«الهيئة»، هو عادل حوير (أبو إبراهيم)، قبل أن يعلن الطرفان توقيع اتفاق تهدئة في العاشر من الشهر الجاري. وتؤكد مصادر «جهادية» لـ«الأخبار» أن «الهيئة كانت حريصة على التهدئة» هذه المرة، ويُرجّح أن السبب في ذلك رغبتها في عدم التشويش على مشروعها «السياسي» في المرحلة الراهنة. وعُرف عن «النصرة» حرصها على خوض معاركها الكبرى ضد المجموعات الأخرى في مواقيت تختارها بما يتناسب مع أولوياتها، وعدم الانجرار إليها إذا لم تكن مستعدة على مختلف الصعد.


President al-Assad: Syria Will be Liberated



17 February، 2019
Damascus, SANA

President Bashar al-Assad stressed that thanks to our armed forces, the supporting forces, allies, friends and brothers we managed to defeat terrorism, stressing that protecting the homeland would not have been achieved unless there have been a unified popular will of all the Syrian spectra.

President al-Assad said in a speech during his meeting with heads of local councils from all provinces on Monday that holding elections of local councils on time proves the strength of the Syrian people and the state, adding that the elections proves the failure of enemies’ bet to turn the Syrian state into a failed state unable to perform its tasks.

President al-Assad stressed that issuing law no. 107 was a significant step for enhancing effectiveness of the local administrations.

The President said that the launch of development projects locally will be integrated with the strategic projects of the state and this in itself is an investment of financial and human resources.

He added that one of the positive aspects of local administration’s law is to broaden the participation in the development of the local community that manages resources.

President al-Assad said that with liberating every inch, there is an agent or a traitor who collapsed after their sponsors betrayed them.

“After the improvement of field situation, we have the opportunity to make a qualitative leap in the work of the local administration that would reflect on all walks of life,” the President said.

President al-Assad added that the local units have become more able today to perform their tasks without depending on the central authority.

He stressed that the policies of some states towards Syria depended on supporting terrorism and promoting the attempt to apply a comprehensive decentralization to undermine the authority of the state.

President al-Assad underlined that the partition scheme isn’t new and it doesn’t stop at the borders of the Syrian state, but it covers the region as a whole.

President al-Assad added that the partition scheme isn’t new and it doesn’t stop at the borders of the Syrian state, but it covers the region as a whole, adding “those who set the scheme are narrow-minded because reaching this aim cannot be achieved unless there is a real social division and that does not exist in Syria and had it been really, the country would have been divided during the first years of the war or maybe since the very first months of the war.”

He clarified that there are two unchangeable facts…”the first one is hegemony on the world led by the US hasn’t changed and the second is that our people’s resistance has become more solid,” affirming that the homeland isn’t a commodity and it is sacred and it has its real owners and not thieves.”

“After all of those years, the agents haven’t learnt that nothing gives man his value except his real belonging,” the President said, affirming that the only way to get rid of misguidance is to join the reconciliations and to hand over the arms to the Syrian state.

The President added “We have been able to eliminate terrorism thanks to our armed forces and the support by the supporting forces, the allies, the friends and the brothers.”

The President said “It couldn’t have been possible to protect the homeland without the unified popular will through different segments of the Syrian society.”

“The Syrian people have a deep-rooted history and they have resisted terrorism…We achieve victory with each other not on each other,” President al-Assad said.

President al-Assad said that that the Syrian state is working to return displaced people who left their homes due to terrorism as their return is the only way to end their suffering.

He underlined that the absence of belonging to the homeland is the weapon used by the outside to target our homeland.

The President added that the term of the broad popular support may be explained by some as the support of the majority, which were present in the state-controlled areas , but while the truth is that the support was also present in areas controlled by gunmen, clarifying that the citizens were living in those areas and they were forced to stay there.

”some of them continued contacting with several government sides by conveying information and giving ideas as they were constantly insisting on the return of the army and the state institutions to those areas, and some of them unfortunately paid the price,” the President highlighted.

“The absence of belonging to the homeland is the fuel which is used by the foreign parties to target our homeland,” President al-Assad said.

The President continued to say “The Syrian people have suffered a lot during the war and we do not forget that part of the suffering was due to the state imposed by terrorism in terms of the displacement of millions of people outside the country as they suffered from all aspects of displacement including humiliation and inhuman treatment, in addition to the political, financial and human exploitation of them.”

“The more the state has sought to alleviate the suffering inside Syria and worked on making the displaced return to their hometowns after liberating them from terrorism, the more it sought at the same time to work on the return of the refugees to the homeland being the only way for putting an end to their suffering,” he added.

The President noted that the states concerned in the file of refugees are hindering their return and the main basis of the scheme hatched against Syria is the issue of the refugees which has been prepared before the beginning of the crisis.

He indicated that the issue of refugees has been a source of corruption that has been exploited by a number of states which are supporting terrorism, and the return of refugees will deprive those from the political and material benefit.

“The file of the refugees abroad is an attempt by the states which support terrorism to condemn the Syrian state,” the President said, adding ” We will not allow the sponsors of terrorism to transform the Syrian refugees into a political paper to achieve their interests.”

The President called upon everyone who left the homeland due to terrorism to contribute to the reconstruction process as the homeland is for all of its people.

“Our national awareness has foiled the sinister scheme of our enemies which hasn’t finished yet…Some are still entrapped by the schemes of partition hatched by our enemies,” President al-Assad said.

President al-Assad asserted that “Dialogue is necessary, but there is a difference between the proposals that create dialogue and others which create partition and we should focus on the common things.”

“Criticism is a necessary issue when there is a default but it should be objective,” the President noted.

The President stressed that dialogue should be a fruitful one that is based on facts and not emotions, adding that such dialogue differentiates between those who have real problems and those who are opportunistic.

He noted that social media have contributed to a certain extent to the deterioration of the situation in the country.

“We all know that we are in a state of blockade, and we should deal with this positively and cooperatively,” he said, adding that “we shouldn’t think that war is over, and this is addressed to both citizens and officials alike.”

The President pointed out that “We are facing four wars. The first war is a military one; the second is the blockade, the third is via the internet and the forth is the war launched by the corrupt people.”

The state of negligence that happened recently in relation to shortage of gas cylinders is due to the lack of transparency on the part of the institutions concerned towards the citizens, the President noted.

Her stressed that the current situation demands great caution, explaining that since the enemies have failed through supporting terrorism and through their agents, they will seek to create chaos from inside the Syrian society.

He went on saying that the major challenge now is providing the basic living materials to the citizens that are suffering due to the blockade.

“The blockade,” he said, “is a battle in itself. It is a battle of attack and retreat similar to the military battles.”

The President said that those who suffer need to have their problems dealt with, not to listen to rhetorical speeches.
He highlighted the important role the Local Administration plays since “no matter how much honesty, integrity and how many good laws we have, they cannot be managed centrally.”

The President added that “We have laws, but we lack the standards and mechanisms, which even if they exist are weak and not good, and without the standards we will not be able to solve any problems, therefore we have to be practical in our dialogues.”

The President went on saying that “Suffering is the justification for looking for rights, but it cannot be a justification for treating the truth unfairly, and the truth says that there is war, terrorism and blockade, and the truth is that there is a lack of morality and there are selfishness and corruption, and part of these facts are out of our hands partially but not entirely.”

The President said that rebuilding the minds and reforming the souls is the biggest challenge, not the reconstruction of the infrastructure.

“When our enemies started the war, they knew that they would leave us destructive infrastructure, and they know that we will reconstruct it, but the hardest thing is to deal with the intellectual structure and we should not fail in that,” the President said.

The President stressed that the future of Syria is decided exclusively by the Syrians.

He said the sovereignty of states is a sacred thing, and that if this sovereignty is violated through aggression and terrorism, this does not mean abandoning its essence, which is the independent national decision.

The President stressed that “the constitution is not subject to bargaining. We will not allow the hostile states to achieve any of their objectives through their agents who hold the Syrian nationality.”

He added that hostile countries are still insisting on their aggression and obstruction of any special process if it is serious like Sochi and Astana.

He said that any role of the UN is welcomed if it is based on the UN Charter.

The President reaffirmed that there will be no dialogue between the national party and the agents, stressing that it is the people’s steadfastness and their support to the Syrian Arab Army is what has protected the homeland.

He went on saying that those who conspired against Syria have failed in their reliance on the terrorists and the agents in the political process, and therefore they have moved to the third stage, which is activating the Turkish agent in the northern areas.

The President made it clear that “Syria will be liberated to the last inch, and the interferers and occupiers are enemies.”

President al-Assad addressed the groups that serve as agents to the US saying: “the Americans will not protect you, and you will be a tool for bargaining in their hands. Only the Syrian Arab Army can defend you.”

“When we stand in one trench and aim in the same direction instead of aiming at each other, no threat can make us worried no matter how big,” the President said.

He added “We will not forget our kidnapped citizens, hundreds of whom have been liberated. We will not stop working until liberating them and we will not spare any chance to ensure their return.”

The President said “We all have responsibility and a national obligation to stand by the families of the martyrs and the injured.”

“The big recovery and stability will only be achieved through eliminating all the terrorists to the last one,” he stressed.

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Syria’s Constitutional Committee Failed to Form Because of UN’s Special Envoy

December 19, 2018

Geneva Talks Syria Constitutional Committee

The Syrian Constitutional Committee imposed on Syria by the United Nations Security Council resolution 2254 was supposed to be announced yesterday. Last moment’s complications and arrogance failed its formation.

Now, the hyenas try to gain in politics what they failed while slaughtering tens of thousands of Syrians bombing them into Western-style ‘democracy’ and lifestyle.

The members of sought after ‘Constitutional Committee’ were supposed to be in a total of 150, one third provided by the Syrian state, one third provided by terrorists’ representatives, and the last third to be formed from civil society.

While the Syrian state delegation provided the names of the representatives of the Syrian people, who mostly were experts in constitutional law, the terrorists representatives provided their list from former delegates of Geneva talks when they were controlling most of Syria’s geography through ISIS and Nusra Front and their affiliates, and the least of the population who fled their areas towards Syrian Government’s controlled areas.

Disgraced UN Special Envoy to Syria Staffan De Mistura
UN Special Envoy to Syria Staffan De Mistura

The UN’s or better be described the hyenas’ special envoy wanted to include in the members list a number of personalities known for their enmity to their own Syrian people and known more for their absolute loyalty to the USA and other enemies of Syria.

De Mistura wanted to achieve something before his voluntary departure end of this year, but despite his decades of diplomatic work, he seems to have lost track.

This is what happens when the losing party of a war insists on gaining politically what they lost on the ground with massacres and mayhem.

Arabi Souri

United Nations special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura once again proves he has an agenda which is contrary to working to restore peace and security in Syria and to preserve the country’s sovereignty.

Mistura’s sponsors ‘War of Terror’ they waged on Syria had a massive toll on the Syrian people, but it failed in achieving its political goals, thanks to the Syrians sacrifices and the hefty price they paid to save their country from being another puppet for the US.

The guarantors of the Astana talks, Russia, Turkey, and Iran, promised to provide a complete list of all 150 names to choose 30 or 45 of them for the committee to write or amend the Syrian constitution.

Syria Constitutional Committee Talks Geenva Russia, Turkey, Iran
Images tweeted by Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif

The Turkish Erdogan regime, in its part, insisted on including 6 of its servants in the committee, who are members of the Muslim Brotherhood international terrorist organization, whose Godfather is Erdogan himself.

James Jeffrey, the US’s special envoy for Syria, has warned that his country’s mercenaries in US military uniforms are to remain illegally in the country until the initial goal of Regime Change is achieved, thus adding pressure on the Syrian state and its allies to surrender peacefully or face further terrorist attacks.

Talks in Geneva about forming the Constitutional Committee will resume today and the participants hope to reach an agreement if the UN’s envoy and his patrons drop their rudeness and criminal agenda towards Syria.

We, Syrians, would like to promise the world that Syria will not fall, even if it will cost us until the last drop of blood of the last Syrian. If the West and its regional stooges can bear further fight, let them be responsible for the consequences.

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Sweida: A Bloody Massacre Barely Registered by Western Media as ISIS Slaughter Innocent Civilians in their Sleep


On the 2nd October 2018, a young woman’s life was brought to a brutal end by a bullet from an ISIS executioner’s hand-gun. Mrs Thoraya Um Ammar was executed on video by the terrorist group more than two months after she and twenty five other women and children were kidnapped from the Sweida countryside, south of Damascus on July 25th 2018.

The images circulating of this execution are extremely distressing and we will not be sharing them in this article. During my recent visit to Syria, I visited three of the seven villages that came under attack in the eastern countryside of Sweida City on that fateful day in July 2018. The grief and anger was still very raw but civilians spoke to me of the bloodshed that was a result of the meticulously planned ISIS attack, unhindered by the US Coalition forces camped in Al Tanf, 330km to the East. ISIS entered the villages from the east and traversed vast areas of exposed desert to do so, apparently undetected by those who claim to wage war on ISIS inside Syria.

“The roads of Shrehi ran with blood” H Saab told me as we stood next to his family home in Shrehi where four of his relatives were murdered by the marauding ISIS gangs. He pointed to the still visible stains on the road in front of us and on the walls of the house and courtyard.

Our journey began in Damascus. We left early in the morning and headed due south before taking the road that brought us to the east of Sweida city and to the villages that form a chain north to south, only about 1km apart. As we entered the province of Sweida, we began to see the elaborate memorials to martyrs killed in Syria’s war against Western-sponsored terrorism. Our guide told us that these beautiful monuments are in honour of the soldiers who have given their lives in defence of their homeland. Many of these beautiful structures are placed at the entrance to villages “so their names are remembered for eternity by all those who “live because they died“.

We were told that some of these graves also date back to the 1925 ‘Great Syrian Revolt or ‘Great Druze Revolt’ against France. They are wonderful to behold, rising out of the dry desert plains, backdropped against the hills and trees that pepper the landscape stretching out in front of us.

DSCF1439-768x512_48afb.jpgJust one of the many stunning memorials to SAA martyrs from the Sweida region. Photo: Vanessa Beeley

On the drive down to the villlage of Shrehi, our guide H Saab told us that thirty-five members of his family had been killed in the ISIS attack that took place in the early hours of the 25th July 2018. I asked him what he believed to be behind this attack. He told me that he thought it was to reduce SAA pressure on the ISIS terrorists holding out in Yarmouk Basin at this time. Perhaps to give them an escape route to the US base at Al Tanf.

We entered Shahba City dating from Byzantine times and a city modelled on ancient Rome – “temples, triumphal arches, baths, a theatre, and a great wall surrounding the city were all built based on the plan of a typical Roman city”. We exited the ancient city through the remains of the East Gate and continued on to a number of towns and villages, some built during the Ottoman empire. H Saab told me that many of these village have labyrinths of caves that run underground beneath the houses.

At the entrance to Shrehi, one of the villages attacked by ISIS in July, we stopped the car to visit the poster that had been erected with the names of the martyrs killed during the attack. Young men, women, children, murdered by a terrorist group with a history of collusion with the US Coalition against Syria and the Syrian Arab Army. Acclaimed journalist, Elijah J. Magnier wrote at the time:

“ISIS knew it was possible for its convoy to drive under the eyes of a superpower state (the US) without being disturbed.”

We drove up to one of the highest points in the village of Shrehi to meet with the representatives of the village and the survivors of the attack. We entered the traditional “madafa”, the welcoming room in the Saab family home.

Once inside the Madafa the story of the attack was told by Khaled Saleh Saab.

“The terrorists entered the village at 4 am while most of us were still sleeping. We were awoken by the shooting and the cries of ‘Allah Akhbar’. They shot out the lights in the village and there was no moon that night so they worked under the cover of total darkness”

On the way into Shrehi we had passed a house that had been one of the first to be targeted (see video), the mother, father and son were murdered by ISIS, the daughter was injured but survived. According to Khaled, 53 ISIS terrorists entered the village and all of them were eventually killed by the young men defending their families and their land:

“We defended our land and our homes because this land is mixed with the blood of generations of our people. We will not accept that people without morals or humanity can touch this land. We stay, we will stand and defend this land until we die. Our youth killed these terrorists even though they had very old weapons, very simple weapons. The ISIS fighters had modern, expensive equipment but we still killed them.” said Khaled.

Khaled told us that the clashes continued from 4 am until 1pm. Between 4 and 5 am the ISIS fighters took advantage of the sleeping civilians and murdered many of them in their sleep before they had time to warn their neighbours.

“The attack was a well planned military operation. ISIS coordinated their attacks in order to paralyse all the villages. They positioned snipers around the villages and along the roads that connect the villages to prevent people moving between villages or coming to the help of neighbouring villages. They came from the south and moved north.” Khaled continued.

In one of the bloodiest massacres of the eight year war in Syria, 270 civilians were martyred during this attack, more than 300 injured.

“Many of our young men, women and children bled to death in the street. Nobody was able to get to them or to transport them to hospital. If they tried they would be sniped.” Khaled told us.

Khaled told us that, in his opinion, many of the ISIS fighters were on drugs, very likely to be Captagon. “We fired many bullets into them, but they kept fighting” he told us and this was confirmed by other family members in the madafa. In January 2017, “at least 137kg of Captagon, dubbed a “jihadist drug” and “the drug of the Syrian conflict,” was seized at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport in a first for France, customs officials said, adding that half of the illicit cargo was destined for Saudi Arabia.” Captagon is a psychostimulant that is used as a performance enhancer by the extremist gangs that have invaded Syria since 2011.

“After we killed the ISIS terrorists, we checked their IDs. They were Chechen, Saudi, Iraqi, Palestinian, Egyptian, Somalian. One was wearing a suicide belt, nothing remained of him after he had detonated it.”

In Shrehi alone there were 37 civilians martyred. These included Khaled’s mother, father, brother and cousin who were killed in the home we were talking in.

In Shrehi alone there were 37 civilians martyred. These included Khaled’s mother, father, brother and cousin who were killed in the home we were talking in.

“These groups, all of them, are supported by the UK, US and Gulf States to target and destroy our peaceful towns. Throughout history Syria has sacrificed martyrs and we are ready to sacrifice our souls for our land despite more than 120 countries attacking us with the terrorist groups as their instrument. They should know we will stand and fight to defend our land and our  people”


Just one of the countless heroes from Sweida countryside – Khaled’s brother, Iskandar Saab had served in the 102 “Batch” of the Syrian Arab Army which had been decommissioned just two months before the ISIS attack on his home village of Shrehi on the 25th July 2018.

Iskandar came face to face with the crazed ISIS terrorists as he attempted to scale the hill leading up to his family’s house. He was shot in his right leg, his hand and his back. A local graduate of trade and economy and a math teacher, Mr Mahran Radi Saab saved Iskandar and managed to take him to his brother Khaled Saab. After rescuing Iskandar, Mahran was shot and killed by an ISIS sniper.

Despite his life-threatening wounds, Iskandar managed to get into his car and drive 300m under fire from the ISIS snipers who had lined the roads joining the three villages of Rami, Shrehi and Shebki.

“This land, this property belongs to our blood. It belongs to us. We will never allow any super-power to steal our land or to control our lives, our future” Khaled Saab reinforced this message several times during our talk.

After the meeting we went to the home of Ziad Saab for breakfast, which in Syria translates into “banquet”.

Ziad’s brother in law lived in one of the houses at the entrance of the village, one of the first to be attacked. As soon as the attack happened, Ziad’s brother in law managed to relay a warning to Ziad who lives with his wife and children deeper inside the village. Ziad took his simple hunting rifle and went to help. As he neared his brother in law’s home, he saw many ISIS terrorists firing randomly and fierce clashes between the ISIS fighters and civilians. It was still dark at this point. Ziad made the decision to return home to protect his own wife and children and to take his family to a safer place.

Then Ziad tried to call his brother in law. An ISIS fighter answered the phone and told Ziad his brother in law was dead, he told Ziad to call an ambulance for his own family members – they would be killed also “there will be no escape”. The ISIS terrorists also attacked the brother in law’s two daughters and their mother – 10 year old Hela and 13 year old Hala.

As we were eating breakfast, a 6 month old baby was brought into the room. Her name is Ghala. Her father was murdered just 100 meters from Ziad’s house, by the ISIS terrorists. Watching Ghala playing in the arms of H Saab, it is painful to comprehend the scale of devastation and loss that these villages have experienced. A recent Facebook post by Syrian, Wissam Sliman puts it into perspective:

“Imagine that this were your village, or your neighborhood! Imagine that one of those were your house! Imagine that the same thing happened to you! Imagine that you lost a family member, or maybe two, or maybe more! Imagine that your mother, sister, daughter or son is still kidnapped and now in the hands of the worst terrorist group ever which is ISIS!

And above all imagine that it didn’t mean anything to half of your brothers and sisters in humanity in this world,just because they are still sleeping, daydreaming and refusing to wake up! What hurts you is that if they did wake up 7 years ago, you would have had many of your beloved ones around you now, but they didn’t, cause they are still refusing to wake up!

The truth is as clear as pure water on a virgin Island, there is only one difference in the case of Syria, the truth about Syria is very painful and heartbreaking while that water on that virgin island…”

The media reports in the West were a cursory glance at the impacts of this ISIS attack upon this community, a skating over of detail and no mention of the potential connection to the US coaliton. As always, the true victims of this 8 year war will be brushed under the carpet while the focus remains upon the whitewashing of the perpertrators of the crimes against the Syrian people – the “rebel”-washing of the terrorist gangs who have been enabled to roam freely across Syria by the US Coalition and its Gulf State financiers of the sectarian ideologues described by the Colonial media as “moderates”.

During our conversations, Ziad gave a very simple message to people in the West, particularly in the UK. Watch:

DSCF1487-768x512_a623b.jpgA car at the entrance to Shbeki village had been targeted by ISIS terrorists as it was attempting to ferry injured civilians to safety. Photo: Vanessa Beeley

A burned out car seemed fused to the earth at the entrance to Shbeki. The car, a Skoda, had once belonged to Bahjat Atallah Saab who tried to rescue Zahi Jadallah Saab and his wife and son, Assem Zahi Saab, a law student. The entire car was targeted when they tried to flee the ISIS attack on Shbeki that began at 4am on 25th July 2018. The car came under attack by the ISIS snipers before being targeted by an RPG which turned the car into a furnace from which the occupants did not escape. Martyr Bahgat Saab was working as an Arabic language teacher.

IMG_1496-768x576_7ef81This house in Shbeki was taken over by ISIS early on and used as a sniper vantage point. Photo: Vanessa Beeley  

The horrific ISIS bloodbath continued in Shbeki, in fact it intensified. In this village, 60 civilians were martyred, many of them systematically picked off by ISIS snipers after they occupied one of the outlying homes set high up overlooking the buildings and streets that lay below. The house owner was in Lebanon when he heard news of the attack. He rushed home to find out what had happened to his family, he was shot and killed by the ISIS occupiers.

Hazem, a young student in his third year studying research science at Damascus University, received a call at 4.40 am on the 25th July 2018, when he was in Sweida city. He was told that his home town of Shbeki was under attack by ISIS fighters.

Hazem got in a car with five of his friends and tried to drive home, he was being guided by people inside the town who warned him which roads to avoid because ISIS had set up snipers along many of the entry roads into his village. Hazem entered from the south which was longer but safer. At 5.30 am he was still unable to enter because of the battles that were raging between the terrorists and the residents, determined to defend their families and land.

Hazem welcomed us in the traditional Sweida Madafa – the welcome room – of his family home. The sun poured through the glass onto the beautiful marble floor and chairs arranged around the sides of the room to provide a space to talk. Hazem recounted the appalling acts of violence committed by the ISIS terrorists who had entered the towns from the direction of the US base at Al Tanf, to the north-east of Shbeki, Shrehi and Rami..the villages I was able to visit.

Hazem’s testimony was shocking. He told us that his family was rounded up and taken to what he called the “bedouin house” at the outskirts of the village overlooking the plains and desert that stretch out towards the east and in the direction of the US military base at Al Tanf.

There, the ISIS terrorists took all the men outside and executed them in cold blood. Among them were Hazem’s father, brothers, cousin and neighbour. The ISIS fighters then forced the women and children to come outside to see the bodies of their fathers, sons, husbands before they kidnapped them and headed north east with 28 kidnap victims towards Tilal Al Safa.

Hazem confirmed that 60 civilians were martyred in Shbeki, the majority from sniper bullets after ISIS fighters took control of houses placed high above the village which enabled them to assassinate the young men who flocked to defend their families, one by one. Most of these young men did not realise that their hometown was infested by ISIS snipers – just as in the other villages, ISIS had attacked at 4 am under complete darkness and while everyone was sleeping. As in Shrehi, they shot out all the village lights during their approach before entering homes and murdering civilians, including children, while they slept. Hazem told us that a disabled child was beheaded as he lay sleeping in his bed.

Hazem’s mother had been used as a human shield by the ISIS fighters who forced her to walk in front of them to prevent the civilians firing upon them. She was later among the kidnap victims although she and Hazem’s sister in law managed to escape and returned to the village at night. They were terrified that ISIS had taken over the village so they slept in an abandoned house just outside the village until dawn when they were able to recognise their neighbours and families who had survived and defended their village, preventing total occupation by the terrorist group.

While we were talking with Hazem, a young boy came in to the Madafa and lay on one of the chairs. His name was Ismail, 8 years old. His father was murdered by the ISIS fighters and he was among the kidnap victims. During the move north-east with ISIS, Ismail had managed to mingle with some Bedouin children and escape the ISIS groups, before finally making it back to his village.

Before we left, Hazem wanted to send a message about the remaining 25 kidnap victims, almost entirely women and children:

Hazem showed us the road that ISIS took with the kidnap victims.

“They took the women and children who were in the Bedouin house by this road. They gathered the other women at the same end of the town next to the graves. All the women were in one place around 8.30 in the morning but they waited a long time before moving them. They took this road to the north. They took them in the direction of the Safa hills which you can see from the Bedouin house. We think they reached the Safa hills after five or six days.”

I asked Hazem if he was worried about sleeper cells or further attacks from the ISIS members. He pointed to the closest SAA checkpoint about 30 km to the north east of the village. He told me:

“There are big gaps between the SAA checkpoints, around 5km, so yes, we are worried that they may try to come back. It is not considered safe here after dark at the moment. From 5pm onwards the young men of the villages man the checkpoints in readiness for any possible attacks. We will not allow another massacre.”

Tilal-Al-Safa-SAA-Syria-Insider_bf737SAA soldiers in Toloul Al Safa to the North East of Sweida where they have been waging a fierce campaign to defeat ISIS.

The SAA have been making huge inroads in the area of Toloul Al Safa towards defeating the remnants of ISIS that have taken comfort in the shelter provided to them by the proximity of the US base in Al Tanf.

“ISIS benefitted from the US safety parameter around its military base at al-Tanaf, preventing Syrian and Iraqi armies from breaking into this parameter to pursue ISIS when needed. ISIS took advantage of the US measures and used the area to cross for the north where there is the bulk of its forces.” ~ Elijah J Magnier  

Today, 6th October 2018, Syrian Arab News Agency reported:

“Units of the Syrian Arab Army, in cooperation with the allied forces, on Saturday continued to tighten the noose around Daesh (ISIS) terrorists’ remnants in depth of the rocky cliffs surroundings Tuloul al-Safa, the last stronghold for terrorists deep in Sweida eastern Badiya (desert). The army continues to advance in the depth of the rocky cliffs, comb the caves and the cav”erns in the recently liberated areas, seizing weapons and munitions left behind by the terrorists, the reporter indicated.”

One of the kidnap victims, Thoraya Um Ammar, has been executed by ISIS, the others await their fate praying that the SAA will be able to reach them and to drive out their ISIS captors. The unity and resilience of the people of the Sweida countryside is what has enabled them to survive the ISIS attack and its traumatic aftermath. As I walked away from the stone “Bedouin” house that had been witness to such bloodthirsty brutality and violence, I spotted a flower stubbornly clinging to the wall outside. This is the spirit that has borne Syria through this 8-year war with such dignity and honour. The desire to defend their roots, to live and to love life.

By Vanessa Beeley



Partisangirl’s tweet here

Nikki Haley, the hypocritical US Ambassador to the UN, mistakenly thinks she can dictate – from New York City, far from the terrorists which her country supports – that the Syrian army cannot fight and eradicate al-Qaeda in Idlib.

Her, and other American figures’ words, come with faked concern over the lives of Syrian civilians.

This is particularly ironic given that the US-led coalition, illegally in Syria, destroyed the Syrian city of Raqqa and killed untold numbers of civilians along the way, in their fake fight against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) – a pretext which has only time and again strengthened IS in Syria. Raqqa remains uninhabitable, and even today corpses are still being unearthed.

Haley and the Western corporate media have been bleating in chorus about Idlib and the civilians there, deliberately ignoring the presence of Al-Qaeda and affiliated terrorists occupying the governorate and surrounding areas in Aleppo and Hama governorates.

They ignore, too, the reality of life in areas which were once occupied by these terrorists: the torture, imprisonment, maiming, assassination, and starvation endured by the civilian population at the hands of these extremists and paid mercenaries.


The other reality Haley and co-regime change mouthpieces whitewash is that once these areas are liberated of Al-Qaeda, Ahrar al-Sham, Jaysh al-Islam, and the myriad other extremist terrorist groups, life gets back to normal, schools reopen, cities and towns repopulate, ancient traditions resume as they have for thousands of years in this cradle of civilization.

Occupation, Liberation, Peace and Stability

With the exception of Deir ez-Zor, and smaller hamlets throughout the Syrian countryside, I’ve been to every major city and town liberated by Syria and allies from Al-Qaeda and co-terrorists. They are all now in peace, with many of the areas thriving, rebuilding, and the other areas at least in peace without the sadistic rule of terrorists.

In June 2014, I went to the old city of Homs just one month after the reconciliation deals that saw Al-Qaeda and Free Syrian Army terrorists bused out of the city. This beautiful historic old city and its ancient churches were in shambles. Some of that was due to the Syrian army fighting the terrorists, but most of it was due to the terrorists burning, looting, and booby trapping the buildings they had occupied.

Indeed, a resident of the old city, Abu Nabeel, took me around, showing me the destruction, vandalization, burning and looting that terrorists did before leaving Old Homs, including leaving bombs in residents’ homes, to inflict yet more loss of life even after the terrorists had left. But also while there in June 2014, I saw residents and youth volunteers scraping the debris, painting hopeful art on walls, beginning the rebuilding process.

Also in June 2014, two months after its liberation, I went to the ancient village of Maaloula, which had been occupied or targeted by al-Qaeda and co-terrorists from September 2013 to April 2014. They systematically destroyed, looted, burned or stole ancient relics and vandalized historic buildings. In summer 2016 and more recently in September 2018, I returned to find life pulsing during the Celebration of the Holy Cross, a nearly-1700 year old celebration interrupted only during the terrorists’ occupation of Maaloula.

In December 2015, I returned to Old Homs to find that some reconstruction had occurred. Churches were partially repaired, a school was fully rehabilitated, shops had opened, and residents were putting up Christmas decorations.

In June 2017, when I returned to Homs, I saw a city pulsing with life, and peace. That June, I also went back to Aleppo, which I’d been to four times prior to its December 2016 liberation [see: Western corporate media ‘disappears’ over 1.5 million Syrians and 4,000 doctors,  The Villages in Aleppo Ravaged by America’s “Moderate” “Rebels”, and: Aleppo: How US & Saudi-Backed “Rebels” Target ‘Every Syrian’, November 29, 2016, Mint Press News].

I saw eastern areas that had been occupied by Al-Qaeda, Nour al-Din al-Zenki, IS and other terrorist factions. The destruction was indeed immense, as terrorists had holed up underground, including occupying schools and hospitals. The complex housing the Eye and Children’s Hospitals was turned into a headquarters for Al-Qaeda and IS, with basements turned into prisons, prisoners’ fates decided by Sharia courts of the extremists.

I returned to Aleppo in May 2018, and spent hours at the ancient Citadel, both filming peopleenjoying their time around the Citadel, and later joining them at one of the cafes encircling this historic site. Talking with Aleppo MP, Fares Shehabi, we discussed how none of this had been possible under the rule of the extremists.

Indeed, in November 2016, standing near the ruins of the Carlton Hotel, tunnel-bombed by terrorists in May 2014, and looking towards the Citadel, I was told to step back due to the risk of Al-Qaeda snipers. But the Aleppo I saw in May 2018 was likewise pulsing with life, and peace.

In media campaigns to demonize the Syrian and Russian governments, Western media mentioned al-Waer, Homs, and Madaya. But few, or none, that I’m aware of bothered to go to those places after they were restored to peace. I did, in June 2017, and unsurprisingly heard what journalists in eastern Aleppo heard when those areas were liberated: the reason they had been starving was because terrorists had stolen all the food aid that entered the town and kept it for themselves. Indeed, near a munitions workshop, I found the remnants of one such parcel, a Red Cross package. And like in eastern Aleppo, terrorists in Madaya had imprisoned civilians, and had tortured them.

When in April and May 2018 I went to various areas of eastern Ghouta, I again heard about terrorist-induced starvation. When I asked whether residents could access their farmland – as eastern Ghouta is an agricultural region – I was told that, no, they couldn’t, terrorists controlled the farmland, too, leaving them literally starving.

A few weeks ago I returned to Daraa City. I’d been there in May 2018, at a time when terrorists in Daraa al-Balad and outskirts were heavily shelling the city. At great risk, I was able to go to the state hospital, with snipers just 100 metres away from the sole route leading there. The hospital was severely damaged, with entire wards destroyed. The Children’s Hospital wing was damaged and off limits due to the proximity of terrorists roughly 50 metres away – as I would learn when I returned a few weeks ago.

In Daraa this September, there was no bombing, just the scraping of rubble as bulldozers and residents cleaned up the remnants of this foreign war on Syria.

On September 11, I went to Mhardeh, a town in northern Hama, where 13 civilians were killed by terrorists missiles targeting the town on September 7. Most of the dead were killed right away, others died slowly of critical injuries. One man lost his wife, three young children and mother to the terror attacks. He lost everything.

When I asked him how the situation of Idlib, occupied by at least 70,000 terrorists, a modest estimate – impacted him and Mhardeh, he replied that Idlib is the cause of their suffering.

The September 7 attacks on Mhardeh weren’t the first. To the contrary, the town has been relentlessly targeted for the past 7 years, its local defense commander, Simon al-Wakil, told me.

So did the Presbyterian Church’s Reverend Maan Bitar, who said: “The gunmen, the terrorists, they are in all the region of Idlib, not just Idlib city. They are also two kilometers from here (in northern Hama). We’ve received more than 7,000 missiles, rockets, and mortars these past eight years. Every time the terrorists feel they are in a critical situation, militarily speaking, from the government, they shell civilians. Nobody spoke about that. For eight years, Mhardeh town is being shelled, and civilians killed, but nobody spoke of that.”

Nearby al-Skalbiyye has also been relentlessly targeted, including with 10 Grad missiles fitted with cluster bombs, as noted by British journalist Vanessa Beeley who visited the town.

Idlib Reality: an al-Qaeda safe-haven

With the Nikki Haleys and laptop media now droning incessantly about “3 million civilians” in Idlib prone to being massacred by the Syrian and Russian armies, it’s time to reflect on a number of points.

First of all, there is no accurate figure for the number of civilians in Idlib, much less the number of terrorists. Given that when we heard the same cries before the liberation of Aleppo, with the UN itself chiming in to claim that 300,000 civilians were trapped in Aleppo’s eastern areas – the actual number was less than half that figure – we can at least be sceptical about the current claims of 300,000 in Idlib.

Moreover, among the population in Idlib, how many are terrorists? How many are being held against their will by terrorists? How many are Syrians?

Al-Qaeda’s presence in Idlib isn’t a conspiracy theory, it’s an established fact that even US State Department’s Special Envoy, Brett McGurk, made clear when he said: “Look, Idlib province is the largest Al-Qaeda safe-haven since 9/11. Idlib now is a huge problem, is an Al-Qaeda safe-haven right on the border with Turkey.

Yet, outlets like CNN whitewash their presence. While there are no definitive figures for the number of non-Syrians among those terrorists, it is a fact that there are extremists from around the world.

What Western leaders and media fail to address is the reign of terror the different extremist gangs inflict on Syrian civilians. This includes their kidnapping of untold numbers of civilians, particularly children.

Vanessa Beeley wrote this just weeks ago, noting that in a liberated area of eastern Idlib, she was told that over 600 children and adults had been kidnapped by “both the terrorist groups and the #WhiteHelmets” in the last 12 months there.

Further, it is from positions within Idlib governorate that terrorists continue to fire on Aleppo. So in spite of the liberation of Aleppo from these extremists, areas closest to them are routinely bombed.

Fares Shehabi tweeted in September about a rocket attack on Aleppo believed to have originated from Idlib.

In all of the areas I mentioned, the Syrian and Russian governments worked to offer amnesty and reconciliation to Syrians holding arms, and indeed these reconciliations enabled the return to peace in many of these areas.

The Syrian and Russian governments have again opened humanitarian corridors for civilians to leave Idlib, and as with corridors opened in Aleppo, terrorists have attacked the corridor, to prevent civilians from leaving. Some updates state that Syrians have been able to exit when the corridor wasn’t being targeted, and other updates note that terrorists are preventing civilians from leaving, or demanding money from civilians who want to leave.

Syria and Russia have again offered reconciliation and amnesty. It is terrorists within Idlib who refuse this, refuse a political process, and instead continue to hold civilians hostage and occupy Syrian territory.

On September 28, Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, addressed media the day of a General Assembly meeting, noting the US-led destruction of both Raqqa and Mosul, Iraq, also noting that Russia and Syria prevented this in Aleppo and in Eastern Ghouta.

These are all points to keep in mind the next time Nikki Haley shrilling performs for the cameras. It is time to liberate Idlib, by military or political means, and bring peace to Syria.

By Eva Bartlett

Wikileaks: To Weaken Iran, US Undermined Democratic Elements of Syrian Opposition to Empower Radical Groups

While seven years have come and gone since the leaked document was written by USMC intelligence, little has changed when it comes to the U.S.’ long-standing goals in Syria and its callous disregard for the will of the Syrian people and Syrian democracy.

by Whitney Webb

WASHINGTON — A recently uncovered U.S. government document published by WikiLeaks has revealed that the U.S. directly advocated for undermining “democratic” elements of the so-called Syrian “revolution” of 2011 in order to ensure the dominance of authoritarian, sectarian Sunni groups within the Syrian opposition.

The document, written by the United States Marine Corps (USMC) Intelligence Department in late 2011, further asserts that empowering these radical Sunni groups over democratic and secular ones would be ideal for the United States and its regional partners, as ensuring the decline of the current Syrian government, and with it a secular Syria, would harm Iran’s regional clout.

In other words, the U.S. openly supported undermining democratic opposition forces in Syria in order to challenge Iranian influence and, with it, the influence of the Middle East’s “resistance axis” that obstructs the imperialistic agendas of the U.S. and its regional allies such as Saudi Arabia and Israel.

According to the document, which was buried in a previous WikiLeaks release and recently uncovered by journalist Dr. Nafeez Ahmed, U.S. military intelligence was well aware that the Syrian opposition movement in 2011 did not pose “a meaningful threat against the [Syrian] regime,” given that it was “extremely fractured” and “operating under enormous constraints.” It also noted that “reports of protests [against the Syrian government] are overblown,” even though “the exiled [Syrian] opposition has been quite effecting (sic) in developing a narrative on the Syrian opposition to disseminate to major media agencies.”

That narrative — which was subsequently promoted by several foreign governments, including the U.S., the U.K., Turkey and France — falsely claimed that the protests were massive and involved largely peaceful protestors “rising up” against the “autocratic” government led by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. This document, as well as substantial evidence that has emerged over the last several years, shows that this narrative, of a “peaceful uprising” seeking to establish a secular and “democratic” Syria, has never been true, as even U.S. military intelligence knew that the reports regarding these “peaceful” protests were highly exaggerated.

U.S. calling on Turkey to do its dirty work

Given that the USMC intelligence considered the Syrian opposition movement in 2011 to be an ineffective force for effecting change in Assad’s status as Syria’s leader, the document notes that it was in the U.S.’ interest for Turkey to “manage” efforts to destabilize the Assad-led government, as Turkey “is the country with the most leverage over Syria in the long term, and has an interest in seeing this territory return to Sunni rule.”

Those Turkish-led efforts would involve gradually building up “linkages with groups inside Syria, focusing in particular on the Islamist remnants of the Muslim Brotherhood in trying to fashion a viable Islamist political force in Syria that would operate under Ankara’s umbrella.” This ultimately came to pass, as the Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army – previously promoted as the main force of the “democratic” Syrian opposition but now well known to be a radical, sectarian group – still takes its marching orders from Ankara.

Turkey-backed Syrian rebels and Turkish troops secure the Bursayah hill, which separates the Kurdish-held enclave of Afrin from the Turkey-controlled town of Azaz, Syria, Jan. 28, 2018. Photo | AP

The document advocates for these efforts to mold the “fragmented” elements of the 2011 Syrian opposition into an “Islamist” puppet force of Turkey in order to support the gradual “weakening of the Alawite [i.e., Assad] hold on power in Syria,” as well as because “Turkey, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and others have a common interest in trying to severely under[mine] Iran’s foothold in the Levant and dial back Hezbollah’s political and military influence in Lebanon.”

Also notable is the fact that USMC intelligence at the time knew that these efforts to undermine the current Syrian government would have a disastrous impact on the country and its civilian population. Indeed, the document notes this on two separate occasions, stating first that “any political transition in Syria away from the al-Assad clan will likely entail a violent, protracted civil conflict” and later adding that “the road to regime change will be a long and bloody one.”

Thus, not only was U.S. military intelligence advocating for the undermining of democratic and secular forces within the Syrian opposition, it was also aware that the U.S.-backed efforts to undermine Assad would have “bloody” consequences for civilians in Syria. These admissions dramatically undercut past and present U.S. claims to be concerned with Syrian civilians and their “call for freedom” from Assad, showing instead that the U.S. preferred the installation of a “friendly” authoritarian, sectarian government in Syria and was uninterested in the fate of Syrian civilians so long as the result “severely under[mined] Iran’s foothold in the Levant.”

For much of the last two decades, but especially since the 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, the “resistance axis” — led by Iran — has emerged as the greatest threat to the hegemony of the United States and its allies in the Middle East. A power bloc composed of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas in Palestine, the “resistance axis” as a term first emerged in 2010 to describe the alliances of countries and regional political groups opposed to continued Western intervention in the region, as well as to the imperialist agendas of U.S. allies in the region like Israel and Saudi Arabia. Iran’s role as the de factoleader of this resistance bloc makes it, along with its main allies like Syria, a prime target of U.S. Middle East policy.


Washington’s support for a future authoritarian Syria may come as a surprise to some, given that the U.S. has publicly promoted the narrative of a “democratic revolution” in Syria from 2011 to the present and has used calls for the establishment of a “new” secular democracy in Syria as the foundation for its agenda of overthrowing the current Assad-led government.

However, powerful individuals in Washington have long promoted an “authoritarian” and “Islamist” state in Syria with the goal of countering Iran, much like the plan detailed in the USMC intelligence document.

For instance, current National Security Adviser John Bolton called for the establishment of such a state in Syria back in 2015, stating on FOX News:

I think our objective should be a new Sunni state out of the western part of Iraq, the eastern part of Syria, run by moderates or at least authoritarians who are not radical Islamists.”

ABTKE3Q5AJBRPISJTBE4CGHYDU.jpgA U.S.-backed anti-government fighter mans a heavy machine gun next to a US soldier in al Tanf, a border crossing between Syria and Iraq. Hammurabi’s Justice News | AP

A few months later, Bolton – this time in a New York Times op-ed – detailed his plan to create a sectarian Sunni state out of northeastern Syria and western Iraq, which he nicknamed “Sunni-stan.” He asserted that such a country would have “economic potential” as an oil producer, would serve as a “bulwark” against the Syrian government and “Iran-allied Baghdad,” and would help ensure the defeat of Daesh (ISIS). Bolton’s mention of oil is notable, as the proposed territory for this Sunni state sits on key oil fields that U.S. oil interests, such as ExxonMobil and the Koch brothers, have sought to control if the partition of Iraq and Syria comes to pass.

Bolton also suggested that Arab Gulf States like Saudi Arabia “could provide significant financing” for the creation of this future state, adding that “the Arab monarchies like Saudi Arabia must not only fund much of the new state’s early needs, but also ensure its stability and resistance to radical forces.”

Yet Bolton fails to note that Saudi Arabia is one of the chief financiers of Daesh and largely responsible for spreading “radical” Wahhabi Islam throughout the Middle East. Thus, any future state that the Saudis would fund would undoubtedly mirror the ethos of Saudi Arabia itself – i.e., an authoritarian, radical Wahhabist state that executes nonviolent protestersoppresses minorities, and launches genocidal wars against its neighbors in an effort to control their resources.

Furthermore, the ultimate goal outlined within the USMC Intelligence document of undermining  Iran’s regional clout continues to be the guide for the U.S.’ current Syria policy, which recently changed yet again to include regime change in Damascus as part of its goal. For instance, earlier this year, Bolton – in his capacity as National Security Adviser – stated that U.S. troops would remain in Syria “as long as the Iranian menace continues throughout the Middle East.”

More recently, the Trump administration “redefined” its Syria policy to include “the exit of all Iranian military and proxy forces from Syria” as the administration’s top priority, while also calling for the installation of “a stable, non-threatening government” that would not have Assad as Syria’s leader.

Thus, while seven years have come and gone since the leaked document was written by USMC intelligence, little has changed when it comes to the U.S.’ long-standing goals in Syria and its callous disregard for the will of the Syrian people and Syrian democracy.


Will Turkey Back or Break Militants in Northern Syria?

August 20, 2018 (Tony Cartalucci – NEO) – Syria once again finds itself at another critical juncture. Having secured virtually all territory in the nation’s southwest, Damascus’ attention is now fixated on Idlib in the north.

Reuters has recently reported on a so-called “National Army” based in northern Syria that appears poised to confront Syrian efforts to restore peace and security nationwide.

In an article titled, “Syrian rebels build an army with Turkish help, face challenges,” Reuters would claim:

A “National Army” being set up by Syrian rebels with Turkey’s help could become a long-term obstacle to President Bashar al-Assad’s recovery of the northwest…

Reuters would also report:

The National Army compromises some 35,000 fighters from some of the biggest factions in the war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and forced some 11 million people from their homes over the last seven years.


Assad, backed by Russia and Iran, has vowed to recover “every inch” of Syria, and though he has now won back most of the country, the Turkish presence will complicate any government offensive in the northwest.

The idea of having NATO military forces on the ground in Syria, providing protection for Western-backed militants in safe-havens has been stated US policy since the beginning of the Syrian conflict.

Seeking Safe-Havens Since 2012

The Brookings Institution – a US-based corporate-financier funded policy think tank – in its March 2012 “Middle East Memo #21” titled, “Saving Syria: Assessing Options for Regime Change” (PDF), stated explicitly that (emphasis added):

An alternative is for diplomatic efforts to focus first on how to end the violence and how to gain humanitarian access, as is being done under Annan’s leadership. This may lead to the creation of safe-havens and humanitarian corridors, which would have to be backed by limited military power. This would, of course, fall short of U.S. goals for Syria and could preserve Asad in power. From that starting point, however, it is possible that a broad coalition with the appropriate international mandate could add further coercive action to its efforts.

The document would also state in regards to a NATO invasion of Syria that:

Turkey would have to be willing to provide the logistical base and much of the ground troops for the operation. Turkey is best placed of any country to intervene in Syria: it has a large, reasonably capable military; it has vital interests in Syria; and its interest is in seeing peace and democratic transition. 

While Brookings policymakers noted Turkey’s hesitation to do this in 2012 due to fears that Syrian Kurds might be used in some form of retaliation, the dynamics have since shifted due to Turkey’s incremental occupation of northern Syria and Washington’s minding of Kurds east of the Euphrates River.

Building a Better Proxy Army

Another more recent Brookings paper titled, “Building a Better Syrian Opposition Army” (PDF), published in 2014 would designated both Jordan and Turkey as potential bases from which to train and deploy a US backed “Syrian opposition army.”

The plan included the seizure of a significant swath of Syrian territory after which the US could recognize the militants as the “new provisional Syrian government,” then lend them more direct military, political, and economic support. In northern Syria, particularly around the city of Idlib, a slow-motion version of this plan has been unfolding for years, under the protection of the Turkish military.

Of course, both Brookings papers were written before Russia intervened directly in the Syrian conflict in 2015. Iran also has a sizable presence in Syria. Militant-held territory has been retaken all the way up to the Syrian-Jordanian border and Syrian forces are reportedly mobilizing for operations against Idlib itself.

Ankara and Washington also appear to be at odds, while at the same time, Ankara has been making overtures toward Moscow and Tehran. Of course, all of this could be geopolitical theater. It is not unprecedented for nations – particularly those aligned to the US – to feign a shift in policy only to backtrack and double down. Turkey is heavily dependent on Europe in particular economically and the vector sum of its foreign policy still appears to favor Western interests.

Turkey Created and Backed Terrorists. Turkey is Still Harboring Terrorists 

Turkey still finds itself overseeing a nearly verbatim execution of stated US foreign policy in northern Syria. The militant groups it has consolidated and harbored under its protection have been refitting and rearming – many of them having been flushed out from across Syria as Damascus and its allies retake the country. These are groups that have rejected peace deals and have rejected offers to join Syrian forces in the fight against extremists still holding out across the country.

In many cases, these militants come from groups either fighting under Al Qaeda’s banner, or alongside it.

Turkey still finds itself overseeing one of the last bastions of anti-government militancy in Syria – the other being US-occupied eastern Syria.

Only Damascus, Moscow, and Tehran’s intelligence services can know for sure what Ankara’s intentions are, what its true disposition is in northern Syria, and what if anything Turkish forces can or will do if Syrian forces begin retaking Idlib.

For Damascus and its allies, promises and good will from Ankara must be coupled with realist provisions to ensure good will is the only good option Ankara has to choose from.

Ultimately, one of the last showdowns in Syria’s long-fought war to foil Western-sponsored terrorism and subversion will be in territory Turkey has harbored US-backed anti-government militants in. Only time will tell if these militants are incrementally disbanded and Turkish forces withdraw thus bringing this conflict one step closer to an end, or a dangerous standoff with Turkey – mirroring Israel’s illegal occupation of Syria’s Golan Heights – begins.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook”.

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