Archive | October 7th, 2016

Syria UN envoy: Zionist regime supporting terror in occupied Golan Heights

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Syria’s Ambassador to the UN Bashar al-Jaafari says Israel’s occupation of the Syrian Golan Heights is a direct threat to regional stability and security.

Jaafari made the remarks while addressing the 71st session of the UN General Assembly in New York on Tuesday.

He noted the Israel’s support for terrorist groups in Golan also escalates the conflict in Syria, where according to UN estimates, over 400,000 people have died in a foreign-sponsored conflict, which started in March 2011.

He further stressed that economic measures imposed by the US and EU on Syria are directly affecting the nation and have led to problems including food shortage and a decline in healthcare standards.

“The terrorism and extremism which our region suffers from is the biggest obstacle in the face of development,” he said.

Syria says Israel and its Western and regional allies are helping Takfiri militant groups operating inside the Arab country. Moreover, the Syrian army has repeatedly seized huge quantities of Israeli-made weapons and advanced military equipment from the foreign-backed militants inside Syria.

Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria after the 1967 Six-Day War and later occupied it in a move that has never been recognized by the international community.

The regime has built tens of illegal settlements in the area ever since and has used the region to carry out a number of military operations against the Syrian government.

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Zionist puppet Irish Bank closes Palestine solidarity group’s account

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The Bank of Ireland has been criticised after shutting the account of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC), the latest in a string of similar moves by European banks.

IPSC has formally complained, following the closure of its account which it uses to lodge donations, and intends to take a case to the Financial Services Ombudsman.

Earlier this year, the Bank of Ireland requested information from IPSC about its funding and how funds were spent, in response to which, IPSC submitted its audited accounts.

According to IPSC, the Bank of Ireland has “failed to give a specific explanation of why it was closing the accounts.”

Kevin Squires, IPSC coordinator told TheJournal.ie : “Bank of Ireland’s silence speaks volumes. Honestly it’s hard to not view this as part of a wider campaign which has seen banks close accounts in the UK, Austria and France.”

“In the last year or so we have had €1,200 go to Palestine to pay for Palestinian scarves, which is a tiny amount. That’s trade with Palestine. It’s not like we’re sending money to people there.”

Vice-President of Sinn Fein and a Teachta Dala for Dublin Central, Mary Lou McDonald, said the decision was “outrageous”.

“The Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign are an established advocacy group that have spent years protesting against the treatment of the Palestinian people. To close their account citing that they associate with a ‘high risk country’… this is not only outrageous; this is insulting to the Palestinian people.”

“Bank of Ireland cannot stay silent on this matter,” she added.

The following is from a statement by the IPSC:

This denial of banking rights, the ensuing loss of income and the potential reputational damage to the IPSC comes in the context of similar seemingly coordinated attacks on Palestine solidarity organisations across Europe and the United States. Numerous bank accounts belonging to such organisations have been closed in France, Germany, Austria and the UK. It is difficult to escape the conclusion that this attack on the IPSC’s ability to bank – which is, in effect, the ability to function at all – is political in nature and forms part of this wider attack on organisations that advocate for peaceful action to secure Palestinian rights enshrined in international law.

Israel has boasted of conducting a global campaign of ‘lawfare’ – using legal and other punitive threats to silence and attack supporters of Palestinian rights. This attack on the IPSC It appears to be part of this campaign, a politically motivated measure to silence a human rights organsiation that campaigns for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it fulfils its obligations under international law – a campaign the Irish government views as an entirely “legitimate” means of protest “intended to pressure Israel into ending the occupation.”

Posted in Palestine Affairs, Europe, ZIO-NAZI, UKComments Off on Zionist puppet Irish Bank closes Palestine solidarity group’s account

Anger as UK plans to suspend human rights laws during conflict

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Rights groups have condemned Theresa May’s plan for the British military to opt out of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The British prime minister, who has long been pushing to scrap the human rights act, will announce plans to opt out from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), during the Conservative party conference.

Defending the move, May said earlier today: ‘Our troops, our men and women of our armed forces go out there and put their lives on the line in order to defend us… So I think it’s absolutely right that the government should say to our troops: ‘We are on your side.’”

May had previously called to “put an end to vexatious claims” against British troops, following a number of high profile cases over the actions of British troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The government says the litigation has cost the Ministry of Defence more than £100 million since 2004.

By opting out of parts of the European Convention of Human Rights, British troops fighting abroad will be protected from lawsuits. However, the procedure of opting out, called “derogation”, does not include serious offences with respect to the right to life, prohibitions on torture, slavery and retrospective criminal penalties.

Rights groups who have criticised the move say that the majority of claims against the military were not vexatious and were connected to protections which could not be derogated, such as prohibition of torture.

Critics have also said that allegations against British troops are anything but “spurious nonsense” as there are perfectly valid and serious allegations of human rights abuse that have been prosecuted in the courts. The Ministry of Defence has already paid millions in compensation to victims of abuse in Iraq for a total of 326 cases.

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US probe into Kunduz bombing leaves too many questions, independent inquiry needed

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RT 

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) are still not able to reopen the hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz a year after it was bombed by American planes as a US investigation has failed to ensure the tragedy won’t repeat itself, the head of MSF Office in Brussels told RT.

The infamous US airstrike on October 3, 2015 killed 42 people, including three children, at the Doctors Without Borders or Medecins Sans Frontieres hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz.

MSF informed the Americans that the hospital was targeted 11 minutes into the attack, but the airstrike continued for another half an hour.

The head of the MSF Office in Brussels, Michael Hoffman, described the bombing as “severe,” saying that it “completely destroyed the hospital building.”

“Ever since that attack we’ve been trying to figure out from the parties in this conflict – the Afghan government and the international force, led by the US, why this hospital was attacked,” Hoffman told RT.

Doctors Without Borders had “clear agreements in place with the warring parties: Taliban, Afghan government and the US that they knew that this hospital was there and they agreed with it,” Hoffman stressed.

The US carried out its own investigation into the incident, calling it an “honest mistake,” apologizing before the aid group and providing cash to reconstruct the medical facility.

But the MSF isn’t satisfied with the results of the American enquiry as they were only allowed to see a “quite heavily redacted report – 890 pages from a 3,000-page paper – that was accessible to the general public.”

According to Hoffman, the US investigation into the attack on the hospital left a number of key questions unanswered.

“There’s nothing in this report that gives any insight into the role of the Afghan military forces. They were the ones doing the operation [against Taliban] in Kunduz city and they were the ones who called in air support from the US,” he said.

“The second thing that we really don’t understand from this report is how this building lost its protected status, why it was decided that it was legitimate target,” the MSF official said.

Doctors Without Borders believe that that only “an independent investigation” will be able to clarify the reasons for the tragedy, Hoffman stressed.

“Right from the start, we stated that in our view the most relevant international body to investigate those issues is the Independent Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission (IHFFC) based in Switzerland,” he said.

“IHFFC sent a request to the governments of Afghanistan and the US. As far as we know, they have not received a response. We are just assuming that this means ‘no,’ but we don’t know,” the MSF official added.

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Does Syria Have the Right to Defend Itself?

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By Rick Sterling | Dissident Voice 

There is a hypocritical disconnect in Western and especially U.S. foreign policy. When it comes to Israel, the U.S. is quick to claim “Israel has a right to defend itself.” For Syria, that same right does not seem to exist.

When Israel executed intense bombing campaigns against Gaza in 2008, 2012 and 2014 the U.S. justified the attacks. At the United Nations on July 18, 2014, U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said, “President Obama spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu this morning to reaffirm the United States’ strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself…. Hamas’ attacks are unacceptable and would be unacceptable to any member state of the United Nations. Israel has the right to defend its citizens and prevent these attacks.”

Israel claimed it was simply responding defensively. The human rights group BtSelem reports that over the decade between June 2004 and July 2015, Palestinians launched over 8,700 rockets and 5,000 mortars from Gaza into Israel. But the total number of civilians killed over 10 years was 28 for an average of fewer than three persons per year. Using this as a justification, Israel has attacked by air and invaded every few years inflicting far heavier casualty rates on the Palestinians in Gaza. For example, Israeli attacks on Gaza in Summer 2014 killed more than 2,000 Gazans, the vast majority of them civilians and many of them children.

With so few deaths and little damage caused by the rockets from Gaza, it seems Palestinians have launched these as almost symbolic protest against Israeli repression. The Gazan economy is hugely restricted, the borders are closed and even the sky and ocean are off limits. Many people would say that Israel is keeping the entire population of Gaza in prison-like circumstances. In addition, many residents of Gaza are descendants of refugees from nearby Israeli towns and cities. Under the Geneva Conventions and U.N. Resolution 194, they have the right to return but have been deprived of this in addition to most other rights.

In summary, Palestinians have launched rockets and mortars to protest Israeli occupation and apartheid policies. The Palestinians are not seeking the overthrow of the Israeli state so much as recognition of their rights and an end to the Occupation. Casualties from the rockets have been few. In response, the West has given Israel a virtual free pass to attack Palestinians in Gaza and unleash horrific bombing in densely populated urban areas where there are huge civilian casualties.

The disproportionate nature of these Israeli attacks suggests that the Israeli government is not defending itself; it is imposing punishment on a captive and defenseless population.

Syrian State Under Real Attack

The situation in Syria is dramatically different. The armed opposition in Syria has inflicted a huge number of deaths and damage in its five-year campaign to overthrow the government.  Data from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is sympathetic to the opposition, show the following number of casualties since March 2011: Pro Government forces (army and militias) – 105,000; Anti Government forces – 101,000; Civilians – 86,000.

These numbers reveal the intensity of the violence and how wrong it is for critics to blame President Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian government for all the deaths. As shown, soldiers and militias defending the state make up the largest number of casualties.

The conflict in Aleppo is currently in the news. Aleppo was the largest city in Syria and the industrial and financial engine. The largest and most effective opposition force in Aleppo is Al Qaeda’s affiliate Nusra Front, which is recognized to be “terrorist” even by the U.S. and was never part of the “cessation of hostilities.” There are other factions and fighting groups in Aleppo also seeking to destroy the Syrian state. Most of the groups are explicitly Wahhabi sectarian and hostile to secularism, Christianity and moderate Islamic faiths.

The opposition in Syria is heavily armed with weapons, ammunition and explosives. Daily they launch hell cannon missiles into western Aleppo, killing randomly in this government-controlled part of the city. Car bombs have killed thousands of civilians and soldiers. Tunnel bombs have killed thousands more.

Aleppo was relatively quiet until summer of 2012 when thousands of armed fighters invaded and occupied neighborhoods in the eastern part of the city. The “rebels” were disliked by the majority of the population from the start. This was documented even by Western journalists such as James Foley and Stephen Sotloff, who went there inclined to be sympathetic to the opposition. (Foley and Sotloff were later captured and beheaded by Islamic State jihadists.)

Martin Chulov of the Guardian described East Aleppo in 2015 and estimated its population at just 40,000. In sharp contrast, there is a large population of about 1.5 million Syrians living in the rest of the city. This is reflective of the reality: the vast majority of Syrians support the government and hate the terrorists. This includes many who are critical of the Baath Party and who want reforms but not violence and destruction. This important fact is generally ignored by Western media. (The current situation in western Aleppo is described here by journalist Eva Bartlett.)

In contrast with Israeli’s periodic wars on Gaza, the Syrian government is truly fighting to defend itself – and its civilian population – against an armed opposition that is violent, sectarian and unpopular with the large majority of Syrians.

Adding to the legitimacy of the Syrian government’s right to defend itself, the armed opposition in Syria has been heavily supported by foreign governments. Western states and their Gulf allies have supplied weapons, training, logistical support and salaries for many thousands of fighters.  Qatar’s Al Jazeera has broadcast misinformation, fabricated stories and heavily biased reporting from the start.

The same governments have been complicit in the recruitment and travel to Syria by thousands of foreigners from all parts of the globe. European, North American and Australian governments “looked the other way” as their citizens were recruited and then traveled to Syria via Turkey to join ISIS or Nusra. According to one study, over 12,000 foreigners including 3,000 from Europe and North America traveled to Syria in the first three years of the conflict. That was before ISIS peaked. Only in the last year, following terrorist actions in the West, have Western governments started arresting or detaining recruits and recruiters.

Violating International Law

The situation in Syria is more extreme but has similarities to the situation in Nicaragua in the 1980s when the Reagan administration was covertly arming and financing the Contras, a rebel army that inflicted death and destruction across parts of Nicaragua. On June 27, 1986, the International Court of Justice ruled:

“the United States of America, by training, arming, equipping, financing and supplying the contra forces or otherwise encouraging, supporting and aiding military and paramilitary activities in and against Nicaragua, has acted, against the Republic of Nicaragua, in breach of its obligation under customary international law not to intervene in the affairs of another State”.

The court also decided that the U.S. should make reparations to Nicaragua for injury caused by the violations. The U.S. ignored the ruling and later withdrew from the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice.

The former Nicaragua Foreign Minister and former President of the United Nations General Assembly, Father Miguel D’Escoto, has written “What the U.S. government is doing in Syria is tantamount to a war of aggression, which, according to the Nuremberg Tribunal, is the worst possible crime a State can commit against another State.” (Personal correspondence quoted with permission)

Some foreign governments seeking “regime change” in Damascus have poured huge amounts of money into what is called “smart” or “soft power” via the funding of an array of organizations with nice sounding names to control the narrative and influence public opinion.

There is the Syrian Justice and Accountability Centre, initiated by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to prepare for victor’s justice. There is the Syrian Network for Human Rights which largely ignores the deaths of Syrian soldiers and seeks U.S./NATO intervention. There is the Syrian Civil Defense also known as the White Helmets, a support group for Al Qaeda/Nusra but most importantly a political lobbying tool actively campaigning for U.S./NATO intervention.

All of these organizations, and many more, are said to be “Syrian” and “independent.” But they were all created after the conflict began and they are all funded by the foreign governments that seek to overthrow the Syrian government.

These and other organizations support the opposition in various ways, demonize the Syrian government and romanticize the opposition. They are part of the reason why many people around the world believe that the anti-government protests in 2011 only became violent after peaceful protests were brutally crushed, which is untrue. There were seven police killed in the first protests in Deraa. That was soon followed by dozens of soldiers being massacred in Deraa and Banyas at the end of March and in April 2011.

By justifying the continued “rebel” violence, this “soft power” acts in concert with “hard” or military power. For example the White Helmets was originally called the Syrian Civil Defense and began with a military contractor training some Syrians in Turkey. This group was then rebranded as the “White Helmets” by a New York marketing company called “The Syria Campaign.” Since then, the “feel good” White Helmets brand has been heavily promoted.

As a measure of the marketing success, the White Helmets recently won the Right Livelihood Award for 2016 and are even nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. Ironically, there is a REAL Syrian Civil Defense working since 1953 and a REAL White Helmets/CascosBlancos from Argentina which have received little recognition alongside the slick new “White Helmets” created and promoted by the shadowy PR firm.

Soft power distorts the reality in the conflict. Thus we are not told that the Syrian government is defending against terrorists but that the “Assad regime” is ‘”targeting hospitals and civilian markets.” Are the claims true? My investigation of the claims regarding the Doctors Without Borders/MSF supported “Al Quds Hospital” in April 2016 revealed that the accusations were full of contradictions, inconsistencies and unverified accusations.

The “hospital” was an unmarked building; the damage was unclear; the number of deaths varied wildly and could not be verified. The photographic evidence, supplied by the ubiquitous White Helmets, was dubious. The investigation resulted in a open letter to MSF. So far they have failed to corroborate or document their accusations and claims.

Doctors Without Borders/MSF continues to issue politically biased messages. Their Oct 2 tweet about a “bloodbath in East Aleppo” led to false accusations that two teenagers were killed by Syrian government bombing when they were actually killed by terrorist bombing.

Currently the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations (UOSSM), funded by France and other countries, has been at the forefront accusing Syria and Russia of intentionally bombing an underground hospital. Is the story real or fabricated propaganda? The Russians and Syrians are trying to fight the terrorists; why would they waste resources and generate negative publicity by attacking a hospital? The reports seem to be based on phone or skype conversations with sources of unknown reliability.

The narrative promoted by “soft power” is that the Syrian government is an unpopular dictatorship dominated by the Alawi religious group. Is that true? On the contrary, key ministries including Defense and Foreign Affairs are held by Sunni leaders. The majority of the Syrian Arab Army are Sunni. Visitors to Syria readily meet mothers who are proud of their sons who died defending their country against foreign-backed terrorism.

The narrative promoted by “soft power” is that the Syrian uprising was largely progressive, secular, and seeking democracy. This myth makes for a good rationalization for effectively supporting the “regime change” war against Syria, but it is contradicted by the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency. In a classified report from August 2012, the DIA analyzed the conflict as follows: THE SALAFIST [sic], THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD, AND AQI [“Al Qaeda in Iraq,” now known as ISIS or the Islamic State] ARE THE MAJOR FORCES DRIVING THE INSURGENCY IN SYRIA.”

“Soft power” in Syria has involved the creation and funding of Syrian groups who convey a message supportive of the “regime change” goals. For example there is a group in the town of Kafranbel which produces an English language banner each week. The group is provided with the message by a foreign source and the group holds the banner to be photographed and displayed on social media in the West. Most of the locals probably have no clue what it says.

Then there is the Aleppo Media Center which creates videos for influencing Western audiences, and the White Helmets previously discussed. These Western-created groups are the examples of the “Syrian Revolution” by those who promote this narrative. What kind of “revolution” is on contract with the U.S. State Department?

Current Situation and Coming Crisis

The Syrian government, with the support of the majority of Syrian people, is doing its best to defend itself against an onslaught financed by some of the wealthiest and most powerful countries on earth. The Syrian Army and popular militias have suffered huge losses but are advancing. In the last year, Russia has provided crucial air support. Unlike the invasion of Syrian land and air space by the U.S., the Russian intervention is in compliance with international law because it followed a request for assistance from Syria’s internationally recognized government, whereas the U.S. government and its allies have no such permission.

Currently the Syrian government and allies are seeking to drive Nusra and other terrorist groups from eastern Aleppo. If that is successful, they could then focus on ISIS in Raqqa and the remaining terrorists in other parts of the country. Unlike densely populated Gaza, the opposition-held areas of Aleppo have very few civilians left. Although civilian casualties happen in all wars, it makes no sense that the Syrian military would target civilians. On the contrary, the government has opened corridors to facilitate civilians and fighters to leave Aleppo.

Largely unreported in the West, the Syrian government has an active reconciliation program which allows former gunmen to move to a different area or return to society. This has been successfully used to clear the last remnant of terrorists from Al Waer near Homs and Darraya near Damascus. Many thousands of Syrian fighters who were coerced or bribed into joining the opposition have laid down their arms, signed an agreement and rejoined society.

In contrast with the frenzy and alarm in Western media and political circles, there is a growing optimism and hope among the vast majority of people in Aleppo. Syrian journalist Edward Dark recently tweeted Aleppo soon will be freed from the jihadis that invaded & destroyed it. After 4 years of hell its people will finally know peace.” They are looking forward to the final defeat or expulsion of the terrorists who invaded the city in 2012.

What will the foreign enemies of Syria do to prevent this? Will they continue or escalate their campaign to destroy Syria as they destroyed Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya? Are they prepared to risk potential World War III with Russia? In the last month Turkey sent troops into northern Syria and the U.S. attacked the Syrian Army in Deir Ezzor, killing at least 62 soldiers. The U.S. claims this was an accident, but many believe it was intentional.

Since the collapse of the cessation of hostilities, “soft power” propaganda has escalated. Accusations that the Syrians and Russians are targeting hospitals are linked to new social media campaigns to “Save Aleppo.” Two things are clear:

–The public should be wary of media stories based on the claims of biased actors and not supported by solid evidence

–The Syrian government has the right to defend itself against foreign-funded violent extremists seeking to destroy it.

Rick Sterling is an investigative journalist and member of Syrian Solidarity Movement.

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Nazi regime Arrests Nobel Peace Prize Winner, 12 Others Seeking To Break Gaza Blockade

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Israel Arrests Nobel Peace Prize Winner, 12 Others Seeking To Break Gaza Blockade
All-female activist boat carrying aid from Spain to the Gaza Strip is taken into Israeli custody.

Israel’s navy intercepted an activist boat seeking to break the country’s decade-long blockade of the Gaza Strip, saying it was boarded without incident and was being directed to shore.

The navy said in a statement on Wednesday its forces had “redirected” the sailboat in order to prevent a “breach of the lawful maritime blockade” of the Palestinian enclave.

It said this was done “in accordance with government directives and after exhausting all diplomatic channels”.

Thirteen women, including 1976 Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire, were travelling aboard the Zaytouna-Oliva sailboat in the Mediterranean towards Gaza, which is run by Hamas.

The Zaytouna-Oliva set sail from Barcelona in September and was carrying women of various nationalities in addition to Maguire, a Northern Ireland activist.

Dubbed the “Women’s Boat to Gaza”, it is part of the wider Freedom Flotilla Coalition that consists of pro-Palestinian boats that regularly seek to go to Gaza to try to break the blockade.

One such operation turned to tragedy in 2010 when Israeli commandos killed 10 Turkish activists in a raid on a flotilla.

In Wednesday’s operation, the Israeli navy said it intercepted the sailboat after advising it “numerous times to change course prior to the action”.

It said its forces had boarded and searched the vessel, describing the operation as “uneventful”.

The boat was now believed to be headed towards the Israeli port of Ashdod. Organisers said they had lost communication with the activists.


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Why are Zionists afraid of these civilian women?

Hamas denounced the move as “state terrorism”.

Israel and Palestinian fighters in Gaza have fought three wars since 2008.

Israel maintains a blockade to keep material it claims could be used for military purposes from entering the impoverished enclave of 1.9 million people.

United Nations officials have called for the blockade to be lifted, saying conditions are deteriorating in Gaza.

Earlier on Wednesday, Israel’s military struck several Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip after a rocket launched from the Palestinian enclave hit the nearby Israeli city of Sderot, with no casualties reported on either side.

A small Salafist Sunni group, which opposes Hamas, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Israel holds Hamas responsible for all such rocket fire and often responds with air and tank strikes, but recent responses have been stronger than in the past.

A delegation from the International Criminal Court is visiting Israel and Palestine this week, its chief prosecutor said on Wednesday, against the backdrop of an investigation into the last Gaza war.

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How the White Helmets Became International Heroes While Pushing U.S. Military Intervention and Regime Change in Syria

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Created by Western governments and popularized by a top PR firm, the White Helmets are saving civilians while lobbying for airstrikes.
Read Saleh left, the head of the civil defense units in the northern city of Idlib, and Farouk al-Habib, right, a media campaigner for the White Helmets, sit on a panel to draw attention to their work in Syria in midtown New York, September, 2014.

Read Saleh left, the head of the civil defense units in the northern city of Idlib, and Farouk al-Habib, right, a media campaigner for the White Helmets, sit on a panel to draw attention to their work in Syria in midtown New York, September, 2014.

It is rare for a short Netflix documentary to garner as much publicity or acclaim as The White Helmetshas Promoted as “the story of real-life heroes and impossible hope,” the film is named for the civil defense organization whose members have gained international acclaim for saving lives in rebel-held territory in the hellish war zones of eastern Aleppo and Idlib. The film’s tagline, “To save one life is to save all of humanity,” that is remarkably similar to that of Steven Spielberg’s Holocaust epic, Schindler’s List: “Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire.”

The Netflix feature comes on the heels of a Nobel Peace Prize nomination for the White Helmets, an “alternative Nobel” award known as the Right Livelihood Award and endorsements from an assortment of celebrities. “The move [by the celebrities] draws attention to both the horror of the conflict and the growing willingness of well-known Americans to adopt it as a cause célèbre,” wrote Liam Stack of the New York Times.

Footage of the White Helmets saving civilians trapped in the rubble of buildings bombed by the Syrian government and its Russian ally has become ubiquitous in coverage of the crisis. An international symbol of courage under fire, the group has become a leading resource for journalists and human rights groups seeking information inside the war theater, from casualty figures to details on the kind of bombs that are falling.

The bravado displayed by the White Helmets under Syrian government and Russian bombardment has captivated some of the most influential observers of the Syrian conflict. Among the group’s biggest boosters is Sophie McNeill, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation correspondent who was among the first reporters to publish the now-famous photo of 5-year-old Omran Daqneesh being extracted from the rubble of an Eastern Aleppo apartment building.

On her Twitter account, McNeill urged readers to donate money to the White Helmets and expressed her hope that the group wins the Nobel Prize. (McNeill did not respond to questions sent to her publicly listed email.) Laura Rosenberger, a foreign policy adviser to Hillary Clinton, also took to Twitter to promote the group, posting a Wall Street Journal article hailing the civil defense group as “white knights for desperate Syrians.” Hillary Clinton quickly retweeted Rosenberger, registering her own tacit endorsement of the White Helmets. On September 22, Secretary of State John Kerry declared that he was “honored to meet [the White Helmets] leader and Aleppo activists,” hailing the organization as “brave 1st responders on the scene.”

The White Helmets are touted for saving tens of thousands of lives, though estimates on exactly how many varies dramatically depending on the source. The recently released White Helmets’ Netflix documentary claims they’ve saved “over 55,000” people, while Georgetown Security Studies Review had the number at 15,500 in May 2015. The State Department claimed this April that 40,000 had been rescued by White Helmets, but AJ+, a subsidiary of Al Jazeera, asserted around the same time that “more than 24,000” have been saved.” In a separate report published four months later, AJ+ quoted the figure at 60,000—which is the figure the White Helmets themselves claim. Whatever the number, there is little dispute that the White Helmets’ rank-and-file are saving lives in what seems to be an increasingly desperate situation in eastern Aleppo.

Yet the group is anything but impartial. The White Helmets’ leadership is driven by a pro-interventionist agenda conceived by the Western governments and public relations groups that back them. Anyone who visits the group’s website—which is operated by an opposition-funded PR company known as the Syria Campaign—will be immediately directed to a request to sign a petition for a no-fly zone to “stop the bombs” in Syria. These sorts of communiques highlight the dual role the White Helmets play as a civil defense organization saving lives while lobbying for a U.S. military campaign that will almost inevitably result in the collapse of Syria’s government.

According to a 2012 Pentagon estimate, a no-fly zone would require at least “70,000 American servicemen” to enforce, along with the widespread destruction of Syrian government infrastructure and military installations. Also sometimes called “safe zones” or “buffer zones,” from Yugoslavia to Iraq to Libya, no-fly zones have served almost without exception as the preamble to regime change. With no clear plan in place for the day after the government falls, or any conclusive evidence that its ouster is what most Syrians want, the Western governments, professional activists and public relations specialists who created the White Helmets are intensifying their push for regime change.

The White Helmets were founded in collaboration with USAID’s Office of Transitional Initiatives—the wing that has promoted regime change around the world—and have been provided with $23 million in funding from the department. USAID supplies the White Helmets through Chemonics, a for-profit contractor based in Washington DC that has become notorious for wasteful aid imbroglios from Haiti to Afghanistan. While members of the White Helmets have been implicated in atrocities carried out by jihadist rebel groups, the names of many of the firms that supposedly monitor and evaluate their work have been kept secret by USAID on unspecified security grounds.

Away from the battlefield, the White Helmets have proven one of the most effective tools in the Syria Campaign’s public relations arsenal. Apart from the group’s own calls for a no-fly zone, the White Helmets have been at the center of the Syria Campaign’s ongoing attack on the United Nations, which it accuses of illicit collusion with Assad. This month, the White Helmets joined 74 other groups operating in rebel-held territory announced their refusal this month to cooperate with the U.N. as long as it recognizes the Syrian government. In a separate move, the Syria Campaign launched a petition to demand that the United States National Security Council share confidential radar information with White Helmets teams operating on the ground, apparently including in areas controlled by extremist rebel factions.

In May 2015, White Helmets spokesperson Raed Saleh met privately with U.N. and EU officials to push for a no-fly zone. A month later, Saleh’s colleague Farouq Habib testified before the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs in support of a no-fly zone, claiming to possess first-hand knowledge of chemical weapons attacks by the Syrian government. With the Obama administration having drawn its “red line” at the deployment of chemical weapons, allegations like these are potential trigger points for full-scale U.S. military intervention.

The White Helmets’ Netflix documentary studiously avoids any discussion of the group’s interventionist, hyper-partisan agenda and omits any mention of its actual origins among Western governments, leaving the impression that the White Helmets are an organically developed band of politically impartial volunteers reflecting the Syrian consensus.

Critical questions about the White Helmets’ role in an interventionist public relations apparatus have been raised by only a few marginal websites that generally support the Syrian government — and those who raise them have been subjected to scorn and castigation. Thus the issue has been kept off the table, along with the public debate over the consequences of a regime change policy that the Obama administration still supports.

Read more:

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NY Times Attacks Gary Johnson For Equating US, Syrian War Crimes

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“No of course not – we’re so much better than all that. We’re so much better when in Afghanistan, we bomb the hospital and 60 people are killed in the hospital.”
Libertarian presidential candidate, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson speak with legislators at the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City.

Libertarian presidential candidate, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson speak with legislators at the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City.

Following an interview with the New York Times, Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson is coming under fire for noting a moral equivalence between killing civilians in airstrikes, and killing civilians in airstrikes.

Pressed on the civilian death toll of Syrian airstrikes against populated areas, and whether he saw those as equivalent to US airstrikes against populated areas, Johnson mockingly declared “no of course not – we’re so much better than all that. We’re so much better when in Afghanistan, we bomb the hospital and 60 people are killed in the hospital.”

Johnson is referring to last year’s Kunduz airstrikes, in which a US warplane repeatedly and deliberately bombed a Doctors Without Borders (MSF) hospital near Kunduz, Afghanistan, in what officials later characterized as “a mistake.” The Syrian government has recently been heavily criticized for airstrikes around Aleppo which hit hospitals.

Johnson further went after Hillary Clinton for overly interventionist instincts, noting that a number of civilians have been killed in US airstrikes in Syria as well, and saying that Clinton shares some of the responsibility for those deaths.

While charges of “moral equivalence” against antiwar candidates are a recurring theme in US elections, they have tended in the past to center around at least moderately different methods of killing civilians, like arguing suicide bombings to be “worse” than airstrikes. In this case, however, it’s difficult to avoid equating the two incidents, since they both involve remarkably similar aircraft dropping remarkably similar ordinance on hospitals run by international aid groups.

Johnson also said it would be important to know what sort of “deals” the Obama Administration promised to other nations to join the coalition bombing Syria, though he conceded he was at a disadvantage on that point as, unlike his opponents, he was not given classified briefings on the matter.

Posted in USA, SyriaComments Off on NY Times Attacks Gary Johnson For Equating US, Syrian War Crimes

Revealed: British Firms Paid $60 Billion By Obama’s Pentagon

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Between 2009 and the end of 2015, total spending by the Department of Defense (DoD) on goods and services from the private sector at large was more than $2.3 trillion.
The first Astute class nuclear submarine is rolled out at the BAE Systems production plant in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, England, Friday June 8, 2007.

The first Astute class nuclear submarine is rolled out at the BAE Systems production plant in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, England, Friday June 8, 2007.

British companies have earned more than $60 billion from US military contracts since President Obama came to power eight years ago, a Bureau analysis of Pentagon spending has found.

As the Bureau exclusively revealed on Sunday, controversial UK public relations firm Bell Pottinger received over half a billion dollars to run a top secret propaganda programme in Iraq following the US invasion.

But Bell Pottinger’s windfall represents only a fraction of what the Pentagon has paid British firms.

Between 2009 and the end of 2015, total spending by the Department of Defense (DoD) on goods and services from the private sector at large was more than $2.3 trillion. The vast majority went to companies based in the US, but the Bureau’s calculations show British companies got at least $1 in every $40 spent by the DoD.

The Bureau’s findings were drawn from a trawl of over 11 million transactions between the Pentagon and commercial suppliers. Each transaction record includes a description of goods or services purchased, the sum of money paid for them, which branch of the DoD is paying, and which company is providing them. We identified UK-based companies and then ran fresh searches to establish sales by branches of the same companies based in other countries.

The 10 UK Companies which made over $500m under Obama:

BAE SYSTEMS $40bn
BRITISH PETROLEUM $5.7bn
ROLLS-ROYCE GROUP $3.9bn
SERCO GROUP $2.7bn
QINETIQ GROUP $1.8bn
COBHAM $1.3bn
G4S $810m
MEGGITT $726m
ULTRA ELECTRONICS $567m
PEARSON ENGINEERING $518m

Between them, these 10 companies were paid $58bn, the Bureau’s analysis shows. Two-thirds of the overall total was spent on BAE products from its UK and US-based divisions.

BAE’s income was from military hardware and software, while Rolls Royce’s was from aircraft engines and spares. BP’s $5.7bn came from fuel sales.

Outsourcing giant Serco Group’s $2.7bn of contracts included testing High Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse protection systems, used to screen sensitive electronics from nuclear detonations and radio interference.

Qinetiq Group – which was part of the Ministry of Defence before being privatised in 2001 – made over $1.8bn. High-selling systems included the Talon bomb disposal robot.

Two-thirds of DoD’s total spend with UK companies went to BAE Systems

Technology firm Cobham PLC received contracts worth over $1.3bn, including work on a Special Operations Command project identified as “hostile forces tagging, tracking and locating”.

Security provider G4S sold services at US military facilities in Guantánamo Bay and on the island of Diego Garcia, as well as in Afghanistan, Bahrain, Germany and elsewhere.

Dorset-based global engineering group Meggitt PLC was awarded contracts for aircraft parts, targeting and training systems, while Middlesex’s Ultra Electronics provided submarine detection systems and acoustic torpedo countermeasure devices.

Pearson Engineering of Newcastle-upon-Tyne sold the Pentagon a mine-clearing system which bolts onto the front of a vehicle to trigger improvised explosive devices before the vehicle reaches them.

A longstanding and specialised family-owned firm in Uxbridge, Martin-Baker Engineering, received more than $400 million in contracts for its ejector seats. The company has been privately owned by the Martin family since the 1930s and is highly profitable: it paid interim dividends of £40m in 2015. Pentagon orders accounted for roughly a third of its turnover between 2009 and 2015.

Aegis Defence Services, set up by former British Army officer Tim Spicer in 2002, was awarded $335m of work, including for security teams in Iraq. The company was bought by Canadian conglomerate GardaWorld in 2015.

Outside the big hitters, smaller British companies have provided more niche goods and services to the US military.

A defensive wall system patented by Hesco Bastion – the “Concertainer” – has proved popular in Iraq and Afghanistan. Concertainer units are made of wire mesh and textile, shipped flatpacked, then filled with sand or earth at their destination. Some $194m of sales are recorded from 2009 onwards.

Cash for BASH

One of the most unusual services offered to the Pentagon by a British firm is that provided by Phoenix Bird Control, a small business owned by Keith Mutton and his family in Suffolk.

Phoenix’s task is to avert multi-million dollar bird damage to US fighter aircraft taking off and landing at RAF bases in Suffolk and Gloucestershire. The military refers to this as BASH – “Bird Aircraft Strike Hazard”.

A single starling flying into a jet engine can set fire to it and potentially wreck the plane.

Keith Mutton and his employees rear and train predators, including hawks, falcons and owls. A well-trained predator can scatter up to 5,000 other birds, according to an article published by military news service Stars and Stripes.

The firm also worked at the US airbase at Manas, Kyrgyzstan – a major transit point for military flights to Afghanistan. The difference in temperature and altitude from Suffolk required a period of acclimatisation for the birds, according to Alan Marenghi, who runs Phoenix Bird Control alongside Mutton.

Their work is well-known and the company is often called upon for advice by other firms around Europe, but a figure on the company’s earnings from the US has never been previously published.

The birds have earned the firm more than $2.3 million since 2009, contracting figures show. When not undertaking runway sweeps they have performed at Center Parcs and airshows around the country.

Phoenix lost the Suffolk contracts at the end of 2015 after the Defense Department changed their contracting award standards from “best value” to “lowest technically acceptable cost”. The company continues to work for the USAF at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, however.

Marenghi described working for the Pentagon as “always a positive experience”. “As a British firm we never felt at a disadvantage competing for US military work in the UK,” he said, although American rules governing small businesses made it difficult for Phoenix to get contracts in the US.

Other smaller companies have also seen cash infusions from the Pentagon. Mil-Ken Travel Ltd, a Cambridge based coach hire company, earned $14.8m in the period for transport services on US Air Force bases in East Anglia, while D. and F. McCarthy, a fruit and veg wholesaler, earned $12.4m.

The Ministry of Defence also appears on the list of contract winners. Over the time period covered it received $65m for services provided out of its top secret Porton Down biological weapons research site in Wiltshire.

Posted in USA, UKComments Off on Revealed: British Firms Paid $60 Billion By Obama’s Pentagon

Thousands Of Jewish Nazi Take To The Streets Calling For Palestinian Genocide

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Thousands Of Israelis Take To The Streets Calling For Palestinian Genocide

A reporter at the scene remarked that it seemed “more like a celebration of murder than anything.”
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The Tel Aviv rally—organized to support an Israeli soldier who murdered a wounded Palestinian by shooting him in the head as the victim lay on his back—was marked by chants and banners calling for mass murder.

The Tel Aviv rally—organized to support an Israeli soldier who murdered a wounded Palestinian by shooting him in the head as the victim lay on his back—was marked by chants and banners calling for mass murder.

Massive rallies and Facebook campaigns calling for Palestinian genocide are ignored by Western mainstream media and Facebook despite concerns and collaborations aimed at stopping “calls to violence”.

Since last October, the Israeli government has accused Palestinians and their allies of “inciting violence” against Israelis, despite the fact that only 34 Israelis have died in that time frame compared to 230 Palestinians. The uptick in violence has been attributed to an internationally condemned Israeli encroachment of Palestinian lands in the contested West Bank.

Israeli government concern over recent violence has led them to arrest Palestinians for social media content that could potentially lead to crimes. So far, 145 Palestinians have been arrested this year for “pre-crime” via social media “incitement.” This practice eventually led to a collaboration between Facebook and the Israeli government, whose joint effort to curb social media “incitement” has led to the banning of several Facebook accounts of Palestinian journalists and news agencies.

However, social media, as well as mainstream Western media, have failed to condemn Israeli “incitement” against Palestinians, a practice that is surprisingly common considering the little to no attention it receives. Often these anti-Palestinian posts, pictures, and rallies are rife with calls for genocide, with cries of “Death to the whole Arab nation” and “Kill them all” surprisingly common.

Even the Times of Israel ran an op-ed article about When Genocide is Permissible in reference to Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. Though the post was eventually taken down, it points to an all-too-common and dangerous mentality that social media, the Israeli government, and Western media “conveniently” ignore.

An Israeli news agency even put the then-suspected preferential treatment to the test and found that Facebook and the Israeli authorities treated calls for revenge from Palestinians and Israelis very differently.

Even massive rallies calling for Palestinian genocide have been ignored entirely by social media and the corporate press. Earlier this year in April, a massive anti-Palestinian rally took place in Tel Aviv where thousands called for the death of all Arabs. The rally was organized to support an Israeli soldier who killed an already-wounded Palestinian by shooting him execution-style in the head.

Crowd chants “Elor the hero” and “death to Arabs.” This seems more like a celebration of murder than anything

The soldier, Elor Azaria, was charged with manslaughter for the killing, which occurred deep within Palestinian sovereign territory in the city of Hebron. Hebron contains an illegal Jewish settlement, but despite its illegality is protected by Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) all the same. This has led to frequent clashes between Israelis and Palestinians in the area.

The Tel-Aviv rally was attended by an estimated 2,000 people and several Israeli pop icons entertained attendees including singer Maor Edri, Moshik Afia, and Amos Elgali, along with rapper Subliminal. Chants of “Elor [the soldier] is a hero” and calls to release the soldier were common. One woman was photographed holding a sign reading “Kill them all.”

A Jewish reporter at the scene remarked that it seemed “more like a celebration of murder than anything.” Despite the obvious animosity and incitement made evident at the rally, it isn’t difficult to imagine what the response would have been if this has been a pro-Palestinian rally calling for the deaths of Jews. The stark divide between what is permissible for Palestinians and what is permissible for Israelis should concern us all as the widespread bias of social media, the press, and many governments threaten to blind us from the realities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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