By Daniel Margrain
It’s a measure of the extent to which the mass media barely stray from their paymasters tune, that former president Trump, with near-unanimous journalistic support, was able to launch an illegal missile strike on Syria on April 7, 2017. Cathy Newman on Channel 4 News (April 10, 2017) stated that the attack on the al-Shayrat airbase was in “retaliation” for an alleged sarin gas attack by president Assad. However, for the reasons outlined below, such a scenario seems highly unlikely.
New York Times reporter, Michael B Gordon, who co-authored that papers infamous fake aluminum tube story of September 8, 2002 as part of the media’s propaganda offensive leading up to the 2003 U.S-led Iraq invasion, published (along with co-author Anne Barnard), the latest chemical weapons fake news story intended to fit with the establishment narrative on Syria.
Lack of scepticism
Showing no scepticism that the Syrian military was responsible for intentionally deploying poison gas, the authors cited the widely discredited $100m-funded terrorist-enablers, the White Helmets, as the basis for their story. Meanwhile, the doyen of neocon drum-beating war propaganda in Britain, Jonathan Freedland of the Guardian, wrote a day after the alleged attack: “We almost certainly know who did it. Every sign points to the regime of Bashar al-Assad.” What these ‘signs’ are were not specified in the article.
Even the usually cautious Guardian journalist George Monbiot appeared to be eager for military action. On Twitter (April 7, 2017) Monbiot claimed: “We can be 99% sure the chemical weapons attack came from Syrian govt.”
Three days later, media analysts Media Lens challenged Monbiot by citing the views of former UN weapons inspectors, Hans Blix and Scott Ritter, both of whom contradicted Monbiot’s assertion. “What do you know that Hans Blix and Scott Ritter don’t know?”, inquired the analysts. Monbiot failed to reply.
Apparently it hadn’t occurred to these, and practically all the other mainstream journalists (with the notable exception of Peter Oborne and Peter Hitchens), that Assad’s motive for undertaking such an attack was weak.
As investigative reporter Robert Parry, who broke many of the Iran-Contra stories, argued:
“Since Assad’s forces have gained a decisive upper-hand over the rebels, why would he risk stirring up international outrage at this juncture? On the other hand, the desperate rebels might view the horrific scenes from the chemical-weapons deployment as a last-minute game-changer.”
A second major inconsistency in the official narrative are the contradictory claims relating to the sarin issue. Charles Shoebridge referred to a Guardian article that claims sarin was used, but he counters the claim by stating: “Yet, a rescuer tells its reporter “we could smell it 500m away”. The intelligence and terrorism expert was quick to point out that sarin is odorless (unless contaminated).
But, as independent investigative journalist Gareth Porter pointed out, that neurological symptoms that mimic those of sarin can be achieved by phosphine gas when in contact with moisture and the smell is similar to what was reported by eyewitnesses in Khan Seikhoun.
Blogger Mark J Doran astutely remarked:
”Now, who is going be stuck with lousy, impure sarin? A nation state or a terrorist group?”
Then there has been the willingness of the media to cite what is clearly an untrustworthy source, ‘British doctor’, Shajul Islam. Despite having been struck off the British medical register for misconduct in March 2016, the media have quoted or shown Islam in their reports where he has been depicted as a key witness to the alleged gas attack and hence helped augment the unsubstantiated media narrative. In 2012 Shajul Islam was charged with terror offences in a British court.
Peter Hitchens takes up the story:
“He was accused of imprisoning John Cantlie, a British photographer, and a Dutchman, Jeroen Oerlemans. Both men were held by a militant group in Syria and both were wounded when they tried to escape. Shajul Islam, it was alleged, was among their captors. Shajul Islam’s trial collapsed in 2013, when it was revealed that Mr Cantlie had been abducted once again, and could not give evidence.
Mr Oerlemans refused to give evidence for fear that it would further endanger Mr Cantlie. Mr Oerlemans has since been killed in Libya. So the supposedly benevolent medical man at the scene of the alleged atrocity turns out to be a struck-off doctor who was once put on trial for kidnapping.”
Fourth, there is the question as to why the U.S would launch a military strike in the knowledge that it would risk further sarin leaks into the atmosphere.
As the writer and musician, Gilad Atzmon, argues:
“It doesn’t take a military analyst to grasp that the American attack on a remote Syrian airfield contradicts every possible military rationale. If America really believed that Assad possessed a WMD stockpile and kept it in al-Shayrat airbase, launching a missile attack that could lead to a release of lethal agents into the air would be the last thing it would do. If America was determined to ‘neutralise’ Assad’s alleged ‘WMD ability’ it would deploy special forces or diplomacy. No one defuses WMD with explosives, bombs or cruise missiles. It is simply unheard of.”
“The first concern that comes to mind is why do you need a saxophonist to deliver the truth every military expert understands very well? Can’t the New York Times or the Guardian reach the same obvious conclusion? It’s obvious enough that if Assad didn’t use WMD when he was losing the war, it would make no sense for him to use it now when a victory is within reach.”
A far more logical explanation, given the location, is that chemicals were released into the air by Salafist terrorists to frame the Syrian government. The location of the alleged attack is the al-Qaeda-affiliated controlled, Khan Sheikhoun, in Idlib province. It is from here that the Western-funded White Helmets operate. Rather conveniently, they were soon at the scene of the alleged attack without the necessary protective clothing being filmed hosing down victims.
As al-Qaeda and their enabler’s are the kinds of people who cut out and eat human organs as well as decapitate heads, they are likely to have little compunction in using Syrian civilians, including children and women, as a form of ‘war porn propaganda’ in order to garner public sympathy as the pretext for Western intervention.
Syrian-based journalist, Tom Dugan, who has been living in the country for the last four years, claims no gas attack happened. Rather, he asserts that the Syrian air force destroyed a terrorist-owned and controlled chemical weapons factory mistaking it for an ammunition dump, and “the chemicals spilled out.” This seems to be the most plausible explanation.
Mr Dugan’s version is markedly similar to the analysis of former DIA colonel, Patrick Lang Donald who, on April 7, 2017 said:
“Trump’s decision to launch cruise missile strikes on a Syrian Air Force Base was based on a lie. In the coming days the American people will learn that the Intelligence Community knew that Syria did not drop a military chemical weapon on innocent civilians in Idlib. Here is what happened:
- The Russians briefed the United States on the proposed target. This is a process that started more than two months ago. There is a dedicated phone line that is being used to coordinate and deconflict (i.e., prevent US and Russian air assets from shooting at each other) the upcoming operation.
- The United States was fully briefed on the fact that there was a target in Idlib that the Russians believes was a weapons/explosives depot for Islamic rebels.
- The Syrian Air Force hit the target with conventional weapons. All involved expected to see a massive secondary explosion. That did not happen. Instead, smoke, chemical smoke, began billowing from the site. It turns out that the Islamic rebels used that site to store chemicals, not sarin, that were deadly. The chemicals included organic phosphates and chlorine and they followed the wind and killed civilians.
- There was a strong wind blowing that day and the cloud was driven to a nearby village and caused casualties.
- We know it was not sarin. How? Very simple. The so-called “first responders” handled the victims without gloves. If this had been sarin they would have died. Sarin on the skin will kill you. How do I know? I went through “Live Agent” training at Fort McClellan in Alabama.
The former colonel’s testimony is extremely persuasive and exposes the media’s attempts to take at face value Pentagon propaganda.
A similar account was proffered by another retired Colonel – Lawrence Wilkerson, who was former chief of Staff to General Colin Powell. Here’s what he said in an interview:
“I personally think the provocation was a Tonkin Gulf incident….. Most of my sources are telling me, including members of the team that monitors global chemical weapons –including people in Syria, including people in the US Intelligence Community–that what most likely happened …was that they hit a warehouse that they had intended to hit…and this warehouse was alleged to have to ISIS supplies in it, and… some of those supplies were precursors for chemicals….. conventional bombs hit the warehouse, and due to a strong wind, and the explosive power of the bombs, they dispersed these ingredients and killed some people.”
The corroborated testimony above exposes the media’s attempts to take at face value Pentagon propaganda.
On April 12, 2017 Media Lens cited Philip Giraldi, a CIA counterterrorism official from 1976 to 1992, who has an impressive track record in exposing fake government claims.
“I am hearing from sources on the ground, in the Middle East, the people who are intimately familiar with the intelligence available are saying that the essential narrative we are all hearing about the Syrian government or the Russians using chemical weapons on innocent civilians is a sham. The intelligence confirms pretty much the account the Russians have been giving since last night which is that they hit a warehouse where al Qaida rebels were storing chemicals of their own and it basically caused an explosion that resulted in the casualties. Apparently the intelligence on this is very clear, and people both in the Agency and in the military who are aware of the intelligence are freaking out about this because essentially Trump completely misrepresented what he should already have known – but maybe didn’t – and they’re afraid this is moving towards a situation that could easily turn into an armed conflict.”
“These are essentially sources that are right on top of the issue right in the Middle East. They’re people who are stationed there with the military and the Intelligence agencies that are aware and have seen the intelligence. And, as I say, they are coming back to contacts over here in the US essentially that they astonished at how this is being played by the administration and by the media and in some cases people are considering going public to stop it. They’re that concerned about it, that upset by what’s going on.”
“There was an attack but it was with conventional weapons – a bomb – and the bomb ignited the chemicals that were already in place that had been put in there. Now bear in mind, Assad had no motive for doing this. If anything, he had a negative motive. Trump said there was no longer any reason to remove him from office, well, this was a big win for him [Assad]. To turn around and use chemical weapons 48 hours later, does not fit any reasonable scenario, although I’ve seen some floated out there, but they are quite ridiculous.”
Another convincing reason to discount the official narrative, is because Assad doesn’t possess any chemical weapons. Even The Wall Street Journal, citing a Hague-based watchdog agency, conceded on June 23, 2014 that “the dangerous substances from Syria’s chemical weapons program, including sulfur mustard and precursors of sarin, have now been removed from the country after a months-long process.”
In an attempt to get some clarity amid the fog of propaganda, Peter Hitchens announced to his readers in his Mail on Sunday column (April 30, 2017), that he had sent a series of questions to the Foreign Office (FCO) about their apparent confidence as to Assad’s guilt. In the view of Hitchens, the answers he received – which he has been prevented from publishing – were “useless, unrevealing and unresponsive”.
Three days later (May 3, 2017), Hitchens published the said questions which the FCO “won’t or can’t answer” in his Mail column. The questions are extremely pertinent. These include legitimate requests at clarifying contradictory statements and accounts. The fact that the FCO refused to answer them satisfactorily, or allow them to be published, hints very strongly at a government cover-up.
The plot thickens
On April 11. 2017 in response to the claims and counter claims, Washington released into the public domain a four-page White House Intelligent Report (WHR) by the National Security Council (NSC), purporting to prove the Syrian government’s responsibility for the alleged sarin attack and a rebuttal of Russia’s claim that rebels unleashed the gas to frame the Syrian government. Among the numerous claims of the WHR, was that the site of the alleged sarin release had not been tampered with.
But as one commentator pointed out, “any serious examination of the WHR reveals it to be a series of bare assertions without any supporting evidence….and is filled with phrases like “The United States is confident” … “We have confidence in our assessment” … “We assess” … “Our information indicates” … “It is clear” … and so on. In other words, “this is the US government speaking, trust us.”
More importantly, upon its release, the credibility of the WHR was also called into question by the respected US physicist and missile expert Theodore Postol, emeritus professor at MIT. In his detailed analysis released on April 11, 2017 titled A Quick Turnaround Assessment of the White House Intelligence Report about the Nerve Agent Attack in Khan Shaykhun, Syria, professor Postol argues that the physical evidence strongly suggests the delivery system for the nerve gas was a mortar shell placed on the ground, not a bomb dropped from a warplane. Towards the end of his critique, Postol said, “The situation is that the White House has produced a false, obviously misleading and amateurish report.”
Elaborating on his argument in a television interview, the MIT professor said:
“The report, quite frankly, doesn’t meet the laugh test. As an American citizen I want to know who signed it off….I think this is an indication that there is something extremely problematic in the American national system with regard to the use of intelligence.”
“It indicates a willingness on the part of high level people in the White House to distort and to use intelligence claims that are false to make political points and political arguments….I think this report was almost certainly politically-motivated… This is a serious and intolerable situation.”
On April 13, 2017 Postol produced a follow-up critique of the WHR – an Addendum to the first report – in which he asserts that “the assumption that the site of the alleged sarin release had not been tampered with was totally unjustified and no competent analyst would have argued that this assumption was valid.”
Postel goes on to criticise the veracity of the claims the WHR make with regards to the “communications intercepts” and the basis by which other intelligence assessments were made.
In a third paper – all of which have been totally ignored by the corporate Western media – Postol augments his previous papers by citing additional evidence from two selected videos which were uploaded to YouTube in the time period between April 5, 2017 and April 7, 2017.
The MIT professor posits that:
“Analysis of the videos shows that all of the scenes taken at the site where the WHR claims was the location of a sarin release indicate significant tampering with the site. Since these videos were available roughly one week before the White House report was issued on April 11, this indicates that the office of the WHR made no attempt to utilize the professional intelligence community to obtain accurate data in support of the findings in the report.”
Postol points out that one of the videos indicates that workers in the close vicinity of the alleged bomb site were not wearing any protection of any kind to protect them from sarin poisoning, while others were inadequately protected.
Postol concludes by stating bluntly that “the WHR report was fabricated without input from the professional intelligence community.” He then reiterates the corporate media’s version of events, namely, that on April 4, 2017 a nerve agent attack had occurred in Khan Shaykhun, Syria during the early morning hours locally on that day and that three days later the U.S government carried out a cruise missile attack on Syria ordered by President Trump without any valid intelligence to support it.
Significantly, Postol then states:
“In order to cover up the lack of intelligence to support the president’s action, the National Security Council produced a fraudulent intelligence report on April 11, four days later. The individual responsible for this report was Lieutenant General H. R. McMaster, the National Security Advisor. The McMaster report is completely undermined by a significant body of video evidence taken after the alleged sarin attack and before the US cruise missile attack that unambiguously shows the claims in the WHR could not possibly be true. This cannot be explained as a simple error….
“…This unambiguously indicates a dedicated attempt to manufacture a false claim that intelligence actually supported the president’s decision to attack Syria, and of far more importance, to accuse Russia of being either complicit or a participant in an alleged atrocity.”
Postol then repeats a quote from the WHR:
“An open source video also shows where we believe the chemical munition landed—not on a facility filled with weapons, but in the middle of a street in the northern section of Khan Shaykhun [Emphasis Added]. Commercial satellite imagery of that site from April 6, after the allegation, shows a crater in the road that corresponds to the open source video.”
And then adds:
“The data provided in these videos make it clear that the WHR made no good-faith attempt to collect data that could have supported its “confident assessment.” that the Syrian government executed a sarin attack as indicated by the location and characteristics of the crater.”
If Postol’s version of events, which is the basis of Russia’s position (see below), is true (which is extremely likely), it’s almost certainly the case that the rebels on the ground linked to al-Qaeda who control Khan Sheikhoun, are the same people who carried out the alleged false flag attack.
Another aspect to all this which seems to have been overlooked by many commentators, is the timing of the incident. An observant reader, kindly pointed out to me the discrepancy between the reported time-frames of the gas release and the alleged sarin chemical attack. Lebanese independent investigative journalist, Adel Karim, stated that at 8am on April 4, 2017, journalists linked to radical groups located in Idlib provided him with material that purported to show the consequences of the alleged attack.
The timing of the rebel account of the attack was contradicted by Russian defense ministry spokesman Igor Konoshenkov who claimed that an attack took place between 11.30am and 12.30pm on that day, and that the said attack was directed against a “large terrorist ammunition depot and a concentration of military hardware in the eastern outskirts of Khan Sheikhoun town.”
The above anomaly, therefore, reiterates the contention made by Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem that the first reports of the chemical attack from rebel-affiliated groups “appeared several hours before the government airstrike”. It follows that Karim’s version of events appears credible and the account provided to him by rebel groups in Idlib, is therefore almost certainly bogus.
The Lebanese journalist concludes convincingly that “the decision to attack the Syrian military infrastructure was taken in Washington long before the fabricated events in Khan Sheikhoun and what happened was a “staged falsification” aimed to “justify U.S aggression against Syria.”
Whatever the truth, both the anomaly in regard to the timings of the alleged incident and, more significantly, the testimonies of the various experts cited, are surely significant enough to be worthy of further investigation by Western corporate media outlets such as the BBC. But other than the occasional brief interview with former Syrian ambassador, Peter Ford, no alternative narratives have been aired.
One of the few media outlets who have been prepared to give the oxygen of publicity to opposing viewpoints, however, is RT. Unlike the BBC, the Russian-based broadcaster interviewed Postol at some length on April 12, 2017. They have also questioned – with justification – the integrity of a April 26, 2017 French intelligence report (FIR), which blames the Syrian government for the alleged chemical attack. Charles Shoebridge, remarked on twitter, that “the report relies on ‘signature’ presence of hexamine. Yet UN Syria chemical weapon chief states it isn’t a signature.”
But even more damning is that professor Postol (cited above), pointed out the fact that the FIR focused on an unrelated event in a different location from Khan Sheikhoun where the alleged gas attack was said to have occurred and on a different date (April 29, 2013).
The above sequence of events follows a recent pattern of anti-Assad claims exemplified by four similar controversial stories in which the media have attempted to pass fiction off as fact. The first of these on February 13, 2017, relates to the findings of a report by Amnesty International which contends that Assad was responsible for the “execution by mass hangings” of up to 13,000 people. The alleged atrocity that evoked in the press comparisons to Nazi concentration camps, was within days criticised for its unsubstantiated and uncorroborated claims.
It should be recalled that it was Amnesty International who uncritically supported the emergence of a fake news story during the first Gulf War in which Iraqi soldiers were said to have taken scores of babies out of incubators in Kuwait City leaving them to die.
The second press release, three days after the mass-execution story aired, concerned the heart-rending case of a Syrian boy who Anne Barnard of the New York Times reported on twitter as having “his legs…cut because of attacks from Assad and Russia.”
It soon transpired, however, that the organization credited with filming the “attacks” was Revolution Syria, a pro-insurgency media outfit who also provided the videos for the equally fraudulent claim that the Russians bombed a school in Haas in October 2016. Dr Barbara McKenzie provides a detailed background to the story which can be read here.
The third piece of false reporting to have emerged, is in connection with Security Council resolution 2235 which highlights the conclusions of a August, 2015 OPCW-UN report. The said report, aimed at introducing new sanctions against Syria (which Russia and China vetoed), didn’t make the claims subsequently attributed to it in the corporate media, namely that between April, 2014 and August, 2015 the Assad government was definitively responsible for three chemical attacks using chlorine.
Security analyst Charles Shoebridge pointed out on March 1, 2017, that “most media didn’t even seem to bother reading the report”. Shoebridge confirmed that the OPCW-UN investigation contained findings that did not correspond to what the public was being told. Pointing out the reports many caveats and reservations, the analyst said the evidence “wasn’t sufficiently good to declare that Syria had dropped chlorine to a standard that could be considered “strong”, or “overwhelming”, adding that “investigators were largely reliant on reports from the White Helmets.”
Finally, independent journalist Gareth Porter inferred that U.N. investigators increasingly make their conclusions fall in line with Western propaganda after he exposed distortions contained in a March 1, 2017 report by the United Nations’ “Independent International Commission of Inquiry“ which claimed that an airstrike on a humanitarian aid convoy in the west of Aleppo City on Sept. 19, 2016, was undertaken by Syrian government planes. Porter reveals that the reports findings were based on pro-rebel Syrian White Helmets testimonies that were “full of internal contradictions.”
Roth, and by extension Human Rights Watch, further discredits whatever vestiges of impartiality he and HRW might have had with inane tweets such as “Douma market killings show how Assad chooses to fight this war: deliberately against civilians,” (@KenRoth, Aug 16), an obviously biased, and utterly unsubstantiated allegation. Roth could have absolutely no knowledge of either the identities of the dead, or the Syrian government’s motives, when he released the tweet the same day as the attack. He reveals himself here to be little more than a lackey for imperialism, a war hawk masquerading as a human rights defender.” [citation from: The Douma Market Attack: a Fabricated Pretext for Intervention?]
Hand in Hand for Syria:
The UK Charity Commission’s website states that Hand in Hand for Syria exists for “the advancement of health or saving lives”. Until July 2014 the Facebook banner of Hand in Hand’s co-founder and chairman Faddy Sahloul read “WE WILL BRING ASSAD TO JUSTICE; NO MATTER WHAT LIVES IT TAKES, NO MATTER HOW MUCH CATASTROPHE IT MAKES”. The image was removed shortly after it was commented on publicly. Also on Hand in Hand’s executive team is Dr Rola Hallam, one of the two medics featured in ‘Saving Syria’s Children’.
On 30 August 2013, the day after the BBC’s initial report on the alleged Aleppo incendiary bomb attack, Dr Hallam appeared on BBC’s Newsnight programme expressing her profound disappointment at parliament’s rejection of a military strike against Syria. Dr Hallam’s father is Dr. Mousa al-Kurdi. According to a 2013 article by Dr Saleyha Ahsan – the other Hand in Hand for Syria volunteer medic featured in ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ – Dr al-Kurdi is “involved politically with the Syrian National Council”.” [citation from: UK Charity Which Shares Syrian Opposition “Aims and Objectives” Benefits from Alan Kurdi Tragedy]
“The Syria Campaign”:
The Syria Campaign, begun in spring 2014, is managed by Anna Nolan, who grew up in northern Ireland and has very likely never been to Syria. In addition to promoting the White Helmets, Syria Campaign promotes a new social media campaign called “Planet Syria”. It features emotional pleas for the world to take notice of Syria in another thinly veiled effort pushing for foreign intervention and war. According to their website, The Syria Campaign received start-up funding from the foundation of Ayman Asfari, a billionaire who made his money in the oil and gas services industry. …One of their first efforts was to work to prevent publicity and information about the Syrian Presidential Election of June 2014.
Accordingly, “The Syria Campaign” pressured Facebook to remove advertisements or publicity about the Syrian election. Since then Syria Campaign has engineered huge media exposure and mythology about their baby, the “White Helmets” using all sorts of social and traditional media. The campaigns are largely fact free. For example, the Syrian election was dismissed out of hand by them and John Kerry but taken seriously by many millions of Syrians.” [citation from: Seven Steps of Highly Effective Manipulators White Helmets, Avaaz, Nicholas Kristof and Syria No Fly Zone]
White Helmets/”Syrian Civil Defence
This organization is highly publicized as civilian rescue workers in Syria but in reality is a project created by the UK and USA. Training of civilians in Turkey has been overseen by former British military officer and current contractor, James Le Mesurier. Promotion of the programme is done by “The Syria Campaign”supported by the foundation of billionaire Ayman Asfari. The White Helmets is clearly a public relations project…who work in areas of Aleppo and Idlib controlled by Nusra (al-Qaida). White Helmets primary function is propaganda. Their role is to demonize the Assad government and encourages direct foreign intervention.
A White Helmet leader wrote a Washington Post editorial and are also very active on social media with presence on Twitter, Facebook etc. According to their website, contact to the group is made by email through The Syria Campaign which underscores the relationship. [citations from: About Those Chlorine Gas Attacks in Syria & Seven Steps of Highly Effective Manipulators White Helmets, Avaaz, Nicholas Kristof and Syria No Fly Zone]. Also see: Who are the White Helmets and what is their role in Syria?
At the present time Mayday’s sole responsibility appears to be management of the ‘Syrian Civil Defense’ or White Helmets, a supposed first responder organisation staffed by ordinary Syrians, which are in fact an extension of the terrorist groups in Aleppo and Idlib. Their function is to cooperate with the Aleppo Media Center (AMC) in the production of material which shows the White Helmets both as heroes and legitimate authorities on the Syrian conflict on the ground, and the Syrian and Russian governments as war criminals, deliberately targeting hospitals, schools, bakeries, animal shelters etc.
To that end, Mayday is generously funded by the UK, US and other governments, with offices in Amsterdam, Turkey, Jordan and Dubai. As at March 2016 its operational headquarters in Istanbul employs 30 staff, located in the operational centres of Istanbul, South-East Turkey, and has an annual operating budget of US$35,000,000.
Founder James le Mesurier, according to Mayday, “has spent 20 years working in fragile states as a United Nations staff member, a consultant for private companies and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and as a British Army Officer…Since 2012, James has been working on the Syria crisis where he started the Syrian White Helmets programme in March 2013. In 2014, he founded Mayday Rescue.” (Citation: Barbara McKenzie).
Incostrat was founded by Paul Tilley, who has a similar background to le Mesurier, with experience of both the army and the Foreign Office. His CV on LinkedIn reveals the following:
“2011-12 Director of Strategic Communication (STRATCOM) in the Ministry of Defence for the Middle East and North Africa.
2012-current. Developed and Project managed several multi-million dollar media and communications projects that are at the leading edge of UK and US foreign and security policy objectives in the Middle East.”
Both Incostrat and Mayday Rescue were formally founded in November 2014, according to the LinkedIn profiles of their respective founders, but le Mesurier and Tilley were doing development work 2013 or earlier. The White Helmets first officially appeared on the scene in April 2014, when the BBC assisted in the launching of the brand by producing a documentary on ‘Civil Defence’ in Aleppo, which coincided with the White Helmets appearance on social media.
Incostrat is described by Thierry Meyssen as “a communications company in the service of the jihadist groups. It designed logos, made video clips by portable telephone, and printed brochures for a hundred of these groups, thus giving the impression of a popular uprising against the Republic.”
“Together with the SAS, [Incostrat] made a spectacle of the most important group, Jaysh al-Islam (Army of Islam). Saudi Arabia supplied the tanks which were delivered from Jordan. Uniforms were made in Spain and distributed to the jihadists for an officer promotion ceremony. All this was choreographed and filmed by professionals in order to give the impression that the army was organised like regular forces and was capable of rivaling with the Syrian Arab Army. The idea was planted that this really was a civil war, and yet the images only showed a few hundred extras, most of whom were foreigners.”(Citation: Barbara McKenzie).
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights
Founded in 2011, SOHR is a UK-based organisation that provides information on the Syrian conflicts to the world’s media. The “Observatory” is run from a terraced house in Coventry, England by Rami Abdulrahman, a three-term convicted criminal in Syria who left that country more than 10 years before the war started, and is openly opposed to the Syrian government.
The Observatory is almost certainly the brainchild of the Foreign Office:
“His funding comes from the European Union and “an unnamed European state,” most likely the UK as he has direct access to former Foreign Minister William Hague, who he has been documented meeting in person on multiple occasions at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London. […] it was the British government that first relocated Abdul Rahman to Coventry, England after he fled Syria over a decade ago because of his anti-government activities.” Beau Christensen, Propaganda spin cycle: ‘Syrian Observatory for Human Rights’ is funded by US and UK governments
Although the Observatory is manifestly biased, only showing the conflict from the perspective of the insurgents, and consistently showing the Syrian government in a bad light, the information provided is considered by the corporate media, the United Nations and trusted non-government organisations to be authoritative, and is widely quoted.
Clearly for real journalists, Abdulrahman is a useless, utterly compromised source of information who has every reason to twist reality to suit his admittedly politically-motivated agenda of overthrowing the Syrian government. However, for a propagandist, he is a goldmine. That is why despite the overt conflict of interests, the lack of credibility, the obvious disadvantage of being nearly 3,000 miles away from the alleged subject of his “observations,” the Western media still eagerly laps up his constant torrent of disinformation. (Tony Cartalucci, West’s Syrian Narrative Based on “Guy in British Apartment”) (Citation: Barbara McKenzie).
Integrated within the almost seamless relationship that exists between the executive of government and the kinds of players outlined above, is an increasingly consolidated corporate media who share with the military and political establishments’ mutual economic interests which war helps facilitate. As author Ed Jones points out, it’s the billionaires who own the press that set the agenda:
“Who owns the media shapes what stories are covered and how they are written about”, he said, adding that, “the UK media has a very concentrated ownership structure, with six billionaires owning and/or having a majority of voting shares in most of the national newspapers.”
32 thoughts on “The Real Syria Story”
Thanks for this. Maybe you already do, but I recommend following Vanessa Beeley on Twitter, plus watching recent interviews of her.
I think the current media drumbeat for war is even worse than Iraq. Shockingly, many intelligent people who ought to know better are yet again falling for it, despite Iraq, desite Wikileaks…etc.
Not surpriseing when C4, Beeb, ITV lead with “the children of Aleppo” every night now for, what?, 2-3 weeks: “some viewers will find these images distressing”. The propaganda is merciless.
I notice Jon Snow has been muted on C4; presumably he, who had the guts to report Gaza 2014 relatively evenhandedly, knows what’s going on?
The thread of this is present everywhere, from the US elections to the bashing of Corbyn. It’s quite sickening and frightening too.
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Thanks Nibs. I agree with every word. Yes, I follow Vanessa’s work.
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Reblogged this on thewallwillfall.
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Excellent, brilliant article.
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Reblogged this on Sid's Blog and commented:
War is good for profit
Not good for children
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An excellent article, thank you. I’ll disseminate and reinforce its solid content at every opportunity- and to the Labour front bench should such an opportunity arise. We should never assume that they know more than we do.
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Thanks as always John. I really appreciate your efforts in getting it ‘out there’. Daniel.
Reblogged this on The Burst Signal..
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great article Daniel : the bottom third of your posting I did’nt know much about ……thanks for the details . I’m ordering Prof Tim Anderson’s book ‘ The Dirty War on Syria ‘ this week . Would advise anyone to check that title out .
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Thanks Timothy. I will check out that title for sure. Daniel.
Reblogged this on Kate McClelland.
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Reblogged this on Taking Sides.
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Reblogged this on Declaration Of Opinion and commented:
Absolutely riveting article.
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What a depressing article, practically exonerating Assad, Russia, Iran of any culpability. Russia’s only foothold in the Med was its submarine/naval base at Tarsus. It is in its strategic interest to protect this.
Whilst this detailed, informative article provides a huge amount of background, you almost can’t see the wood for the trees & Assad & his backers virtually escape any censure. Who would have thought a dictator Assad was actually a heroic figure battling against Western perfidy? That an initial civil uprising became obscured by jihadists & the moderates side-lined.
Nobody emerges from this never ending disaster with any credit from any of the multifarious sides, all with their own self-interest. Maybe Christopher Phillips book is worth reading where he said the war needs a de-escalation of violence, not more military intervention (BBC Hardtalk). This article simply assigns blame to the West. Have you not watched Russian state propaganda, Russian soldiers handing out food like they are helping the homeless at Christmas? Aerial shots as Russian planes bomb Aleppo as if involved in a PS game.
You can’t trust anyone these days on either side. How do you know the person writing this blog hasn’t got an agenda or is partial towards one side? I suggest he also sends it to a Syrian under bombardment or walking through the mud of a make-shift refugee camp, not that they probably have access to the internet. I’m sure they would applaud its sentiments, not that they, like most of us, have any great idea about the complex power games at play. They are just the victims, though even Omran Dagneesh gets it in the neck for allowing himself to get covered in dust. Later reports briefly mentioned how his brother had been killed in the attack but there were no pictures as he became just another statistic (Russians do love a statistic).
The media may be encouraging an intervention, but the whole article is undermined by the fact that most people in the West are tired of Middle East interventions despite the fact that the Syrian refugee crisis has actually brought the war now to the European doorstep. The West doesn’t have the stomach for another war post- Iraq especially after the Coalition invaded on such flimsy pretexts. I remember Labour MP Chris Bryant categorically refusing any involvement on an edition of ‘Question Time’. The rest of the panel were of a similar opinion.
The BBC propaganda machine broadcast a programme about the history of Syria: Sykes-Picot, the sectarian division, French preference for the Alawite minority & sporadic historic opposition to Assad’s father, as well how the Sunni middle class formed an accommodation with Hafez Assad as he safeguarded business interests. Ironically, I have since learned the programme was condemned: by the Syrian opposition.
We all know that the West operates in an underhand manner, prioritising corporate military-industrial over basic democracy. Murdoch’s support for Iraq was due to the prospect of lower oil costs.
The Russians, too, are in Syria for human rights & democracy, it’s why they use air power to shift the war back into Assad’s favour, & supported Kadyrov in Chechnya, because they are there out of love for the Syrian people & not out of any possible self-interest. Russia, the new humanitarians of the 21st century. I’m sure Alexander Litvinenko & Anna Politovskaya are applauding as we type.
Truth is often depressing.
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As if I needed you to tell me that. Six months on & the West is ready to invade, isn’t it? That seemed to be the underlying message behind your article. No mention of Assad’s camps with the crematoriums nor that programme with Syrians talking about being tortured including a mother mourning her son. Mind you, you ought to know more from the vantage point of your PC.
The modern Orwell exists now on a blog.
Please cite evidence to support your claims- dates and sources.
Thanks for this. Very detailed analysis about the shocking propaganda against Syria. At times it is so shrill and over the top that it feels like the ‘Evil Hun’ caricatures of the First World War.
I can only think back to the very start when you mention the Daraa action way back in March 2011. It was identical to the kind of thing in Benghazi where over 100 police/soldiers were killed along with x amount of ‘peaceful protesters’ who were ‘bombed by aircraft’. Even as the media(I saw it on CNN at the time) recounted this,not a single reflection was made about how these police and soldiers happened to die in such large numbers when they were supposedly attacking unarmed protesters. No footage of these bombings ever surfaced either and I’ve never seen any reporter go to that Benghazi street to check for aircraft bomb craters.
Another thing is the date.It’s incredible that this happened in Daraa on the same day that the cynical (or naive if you take Russia’s acceptance of it) United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 was passed for the notorious ‘No Fly Zone’ over Libya. Almost as if one was the signal to start the other.
Had the Libyan people not resisted heroically against all odds for 8 months,I daresay that the NATO coalition would have swiftly attacked Syria while the iron was hot and the narratives of ‘butcher dictators gunning down civilians in the streets’ were still fresh and a source of outrage among the cynical right and the naive left.
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Thanks.I agree with your analysis. The propaganda was very similar to Libya where the R2P doctrine came to the fore. As you inferred with UNSCR 1973, the Russia’s were duped and they have been careful not to fall for the same Nato-Western alliance tricks again in relation to Syria.
Reblogged this on Fabrication in BBC Panorama 'Saving Syria’s Children'.
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Brilliant article Daniel. Thank you. Despite the mainstream media’s bias towards espousing Western government anti-Assad rhetoric, in the past couple of years I hear more and more of my peers (not all left-leaning liberals like me) questioning the veracity of the BBC and dare I say it, even the Guardian. Your article, with its links to interviews, reports and verifiable quotes, is a veritable treasure trove with which to rebuff those who would scoff at opinions questioning the integrity and motives of the USA (West) in Syria.
Maybe we should nominate Assad for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Have you ever been to Syria? Do you even speak Arabic? Have you talked to anyone from the ground or who can confirm your views. I profess to none of the above myself, but no doubt you probably set yourself up as more expert than Jeremy Bowen. Listen to his programme on the Middle East on Radio 4 where he likened the Assads to the Godfather (Fri 23/06/17).
You may be pursuing things for a noble aim but you also come across as an apologist for a brutal dictator.
I suggest you contact Mr Bowen & espouse & refute opinions with him. That would be an interesting discussion to see.
Hi Nadeem. Please provide evidence of Assad’s alleged brutality.