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Stop the War, Libya and the CPGB-ML

‘Stop the War was founded in September 2001 in the weeks following 9/11, when George W. Bush announced the “war on terror”. Stop the War has since been dedicated to preventing and ending the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere’ (from Stop the War Coalition’s website).

The Stop the War Coalition came to prominence as a leader in the campaign to oppose the invasion of Iraq by US and UK forces, and quickly formulated the longer term objective of opposing Britain’s future wars. However, while simply opposing invasion was straightforward and appropriate for the war on Iraq, STW has not adapted or developed in such a way as to enable it to confront alternative, less direct, military strategies, either because the leadership is not capable of appreciating those strategies, or because the organisation has allowed itself to be subverted, or because its gate-keeping function was planned from the outset.

Iraq

In the wake of the attack on the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001 Tony Blair made it clear that ‘standing shoulder to shoulder with America’ meant supporting the US in any war it chose to undertake, against any country, regardless of whether that country had any connection with the events of 9/11.

Saddam Hussein undeniably had blood on his hands if only from his Western-backed war on Iran, and was commonly (though not universally) assumed to be responsible for gassing the Kurds of Halabja, important factors for many who supported invasion. The primary justification for war on Iraq, however, was the claim that Saddam Hussein was developing nuclear weapons.

The desperate-looking evidence of nuclear activity, such as the aluminium tube claim, Tony Blair’s ridiculous claim that Saddam could and would use WMDs in 45 minutes, Tony Blair’s blatant lie about Saddam Hussein’s links with al Qaeda, the deep suspicion amongst the general public that the war was essentially an oil grab, together with the impression that the US felt justified in bombing somebody simply because it was hurting after 9/11, all contributed to opposition to the war on Iraq both in the House of Commons and amongst the British public.

The Stop the War Coalition was a response to the clear intention of George W. Bush and Tony Blair to go to war, and a reflection of the mood of a large number of Britons. From Stop the War’s website:

Stop the War opposes the British establishment’s disastrous addiction to war and its squandering of public resources on militarism. We have initiated many campaigns around these issues.

[..] Stop the War has organised around 40 national demonstrations, including the largest protests ever held in Britain, most memorably on 15 February 2003, when up to two million gathered on London’s streets to oppose the Iraq war .

Since the invasion of Iraq things have become more complicated. Neither Muammar Gaddafi nor Bashar al Assad had invaded anyone, or gassed any minorities. There was no suggestion that either country was developing nuclear weapons. The reduced justification for going to war, however, has been more than offset by the greater subtlety with which war against Libya and Syria has carried out. Regime change was to be effected, or at least seen to be effected, from within.

Libya

General Wesley Clark revealed in 2007 that he had known since a few days after 9/11 of the Pentagon’s intention to ‘take out seven countries in five years’. The Western media, along with ‘anti-war’ organisations, chose to ignore the implications of this revelation, instead promoting the concept of the Arab Spring, i.e. of a wave of popular revolutions erupting spontaneously across the Arab world, in order to make people in the West more amenable to the idea of forced regime change.

Of course the US’s client states did not fall, and when it became apparent that only the most progressive and independent countries in the greater Middle East were to be permitted to overthrow their governments, most observers saw through the propaganda.

There was no justification for an invasion of Libya, and the public would in any case have been outraged. Instead the British and US governments went for the rent-a-mob strategy employed in Iran in 1953, and later in Ukraine in 2014, so as to engender protests with a violent element. The Gaddafi government was then accused of ruthlessly suppressing peaceful protests, paving the way for the famous no-fly zone (the revolution and its coverage by the world’s press is well described by Jay Janson, There Was No Libyan Peaceful Protest, Just Murderous Gangs and Nic Robertson).

The huge protests in support of Gaddafi, including what may have been the world’s largest demonstration, were ignored.

mass_demo_for_qadaffi_july_72

The Stop the War Coalition supported the ‘Arab Spring’ from the beginning, and has not noticeably changed course since. The organisation bought into and promoted the ‘Gaddafi the monster killing his own people’ scam, organising protests outside the Libyan embassy on e.g. 20 and 22 February 1911 (dates of embedded tweets seem to convert automatically  to NZ time).

In this, STW was clearly exceeding its remit, which is to oppose Britain’s illegal wars, not to facilitate them by protesting the alleged actions of foreign governments.

STW moved seamlessly from protesting Gaddafi to protesting against bombing Syria, so that on one and the same date, 25 February, it tweets the result of a protest against Gaddafi, and a link to its statement opposing intervention in Libya or other Middle East countries.

Stop the War saw no contradiction, as its statement No to Military intervention – Stop the War statement on Middle East revolutions makes clear: its position was that it opposed military intervention while simultaneously facilitating that same intervention by continuing its vilification of Gaddafi. In late March 2011 it republished an article by Owen Jones, in which Jones too argues against bombing Libya but show considerable sympathy for the pro-bombing position:

‘Let’s be clear. Other than a few nutters, we all want Gaddafi overthrown, dead or alive. In both his anti-Western and pro-Western incarnations, his record is that of a brutal and unquestionably slightly unhinged dictator.

‘I will not caricature supporters of the bombing campaign as frothing-at-the-mouth neo-cons or born-again Paul Wolfowitzs.’

In an article published in the Guardian on 22 March, STW chair Andrew Murray argued similarly against the no-fly zone, while still pushing the ‘evil Gaddafi’ line used by NATO governments to justify it:

‘The UN decision was taken at the instigation of the frightened autocrats of the Arab League, few of whom can claim any mandate to rule superior to that of Gaddafi’s brutal regime.’

With organisations like Stop the War ostensibly opposing intervention while simultaneously creating the conditions for acceptance, it was hardly surprising that on 17 March 2011 the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1973, which authorised the international community to establish a no-fly zone and to use all means necessary short of foreign occupation to protect civilians.  On 19 March NATO forces began airstrikes against Libya.

The Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) (CPGB-ML)

‘As the moves toward war accelerated, the CPGB-ML was the only organisation in Britain that came out unequivocally in favour of Colonel Gaddafi and the Libyan masses he represented. Its members did all in their power to expose the lies of the imperialist media, and to show how various Trotskyite, revisionist and left-Labour luminaries in the leadership of StW were contributing to the propaganda offensive that was softening the British people up for a new war.’ (Shame on You Stop the War Coalition, March 2017)

Stop the War’s complicity in the war on Libya drew little criticism from within its ranks, a notable exception being the affiliated Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) (CPGB-ML), who campaigned against the leadership’s stance throughout 2011. One memo was A letter from Bristol comrades, 9 May 2011 (the John Rees mentioned is one of STW’s officers and has been a vociferous opponent of both Gaddafi and Bashar al Assad):

‘Rees and co have since scrambled back to a stance that they hope will rescue their ‘progressive’ reputations (basically ’stop bombing Libya, you’ll only make it harder to get rid of Gaddafi’), a clumsy and hypocritical manoeuvre which will fool few and inspire none.’

The comrades went on, with notable prescience:

‘Neither Washington nor Moscow’ was their mantra then, ‘Neither Gaddafi nor Nato’ is their mantra now. Will we wake next week or next month to ‘Neither Damascus nor Nato’, ‘Neither Teheran nor Nato’ or ‘Neither Pyongyang nor Nato’? What about ‘Neither Beijing nor Nato’?

This was followed a few days later by Stop the War’s dirty role in the criminal war against Libya

‘[…] never has the anti-war movement squandered such an opportunity to build a truly anti-imperialist movement through the mobilisation of the working class against a predatory war, while enlightening the masses about the inextricable link between war and imperialism.’

Another strongly worded attack was published in September 2011, As the Libyan resistance fights on, ‘Stop the War’ misleaders are already dancing on Gaddafi’s grave. The article lists the reasons for war on Libya:

1. Oil and water
Libya’s natural resources are coveted by western multinationals. […]
2. A bad example
Libya has set an example to all of Africa in showing what can be done when resources are used to benefit the people. Under the Gaddafi government, all Libyans have had access to decent, cheap housing; education and health care have been universal and completely free; electricity has been free; women have enjoyed equal status with men. […]
3. African unity
Libya has been working to free the people of Africa from colonialism, including helping to fund cheap telecommunications and domestic media and participating in development projects encompassing education, health and infrastructure.
It allocated massive funds for projects such as the African Central Bank and the African Monetary Fund. It has been a strong supporter of the African gold dinar currency plan and the African Union alliance.
4. Anti-imperialism
Libya has given fraternal support and assistance to anti-imperialist liberation movements across Africa and beyond, including the ANC in South Africa, Zanu in Zimbabwe, the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, the Irish republican movement, socialist Cuba, Chavez’s Venezuela and Morales’ Bolivia.
5. Dollar supremacy
Russia Today has reported that the Libyan government was planning to switch its reserve and trading currency from the dollar to the gold standard, further undermining the faltering US economy, which is already mired in crisis.
6. Loot
Not content with the many billions Gaddafi’s government invested in the West and the concessions already given by Libya to multinational oil companies, imperialist multinationals and governments want to get their hands on all of Libya’s huge sovereign wealth funds.

Stop the War responded to CPGB-ML’s criticisms by expelling the organisation in September 2011. This was contrived by the ‘officers group’, under chair Jeremy Corbyn, rejecting the affiliation of the party, the reason given being the party’s public criticism of STW’s leadership, i.e. its criticism of STW’s policies on Libya and Syria.

CPGB-ML’s initial response to its disaffiliation, in October 2011, is of interest as it spells out in some detail the objections the party had to STW’s Libya policy. A large section is excerpted here, but the complete memo is worth reading. Many of CPGB-ML’s points will strike a chord with followers of the war on Syria.

StW leaders and the war against Libya
Stop the War leaders have accepted Nato propaganda that characterised its agents in Benghazi as a ‘popular’ movement and a part of the anti-imperialist ‘Arab spring’. They have even mobilised demonstrations in support of these agents, while characterising the popular Libyan government as a ‘brutal dictatorship’.
And today, while those who continue to resist Nato’s assault are being carpet bombed in cities all over Libya, Stop the War leaders continue to prop up the imperialist propaganda effort by:
– accepting and promoting the imperialist lie that Gaddafi’s government has already fallen and that the stooges of the ‘NTC’ have formed a new government;
– accepting and promoting the imperialist lie that the ‘fall’ of the Gaddafi government is a cause for popular celebration in Libya;
– accepting and promoting the imperialist lie that the ‘rebels’ are expressing the popular will of the people and thereby bringing ‘freedom’, ‘democracy’ and ‘justice’ to Libya;
– keeping the imperialist media’s silence about the resistance that is being mounted by the legitimate government of Libya, its armed forces and the armed citizens;
– keeping the imperialist media’s silence about the real character of the ‘rebels’, despite the wealth of evidence now available;
– keeping the imperialist media’s silence about the terrible crimes that have been and are being committed by Nato’s ‘rebels’ against the people of Libya (massacring of black people; massacring of pro-government supporters, raping of women, looting and burning of homes);
– keeping the imperialist media’s silence about the terrible crimes committed by Nato’s bombers and special forces, including the targeting of civilians, water and electricity supplies, schools, mosques, hospitals and libraries, the imposition of sanctions to prevent the import of medical supplies and food, the theft of Libya’s wealth and resources, the use of chemical and nuclear weapons, including depleted uranium-tipped missiles, and the carpet bombing of civilian populations that has resulted in a death toll of well over 50,000 so far;
– keeping the imperialist media’s silence about the gains made by ordinary Libyans since the Green revolution in 1969, which have brought them from being the poorest people in the world to the richest in Africa, with a standard of life for ordinary Libyans comparable to that in parts of western Europe;
– keeping the imperialist media’s silence about the critical support given by Libya to anti-imperialist movements all over the world, and especially its support to the African struggle to break free from the chains of the IMF and the World Bank and the diktat of imperialist corporations and governments.
In so doing, Stop the War’s leaders have proved themselves unfit for their positions. We call on them either to correct their line immediately, or to resign and allow a national conference to elect new, more suitable leaders who are prepared to carry out StW policy thoroughly and completely.’

At Stop the War’s Annual General Meeting in March the following year, the CPGB-ML, which had been affiliated from the party’s inception in 2004, was refused permission to speak on its own behalf. The process by which this was achieved is described in Stop the hypocrisy: no room for democracy or political debate at Stop the War’s annual back-slapping smugfest.

Having been disaffiliated the previous year the party was at a disadvantage, as only those sent as official delegates from affiliated organisations or local branches were allowed to speak, while other STW members attending had only observer status.

‘… comrades from the CPGB-ML raised a point of order and objected to the party’s unconstitutional expulsion from the coalition, arguing that we should have the right to hear any charges against us and put our case to the meeting before such an expulsion could be accepted as valid. In the chair, however, that oh-so-mild-mannered and liberal darling of ‘left’ Labour Jeremy Corbyn was having none of it. He refused our comrades the right to be heard, or even to question this decision […]’

The CPGB-ML were assured that they would be able to put their case in the discussion of a motion put forward by the CPGB Weekly Worker, which included a call for the reinstatement of CPGB-ML’s affiliation.

Jeremy Corbyn subsequently moved a procedural motion that in order to get through the agenda only one person would be allowed to speak for or against each motion. As movers of the affiliation motion, the Weekly Worker were able to speak, using the allocated four minutes to promote their own cause, Hands Off the People of Iran (HOPI was founded by people like Peter Tatchell, supporter of a no-fly zone in Syria, who proudly claims as his motto ‘Neither Washington nor Tehran’).

When, following Lindsey German’s speech in opposition to CPGB-ML’s affiliation, the party asked to be allowed to speak, Corbyn successfully moved a motion against, supported by George Galloway.

I have found no attempt by STW to put its side of the story with regard to the disaffiliation of the CPGB-ML and the way the party was treated at the 2012 AGM. However the Weekly Worker’s description of events at the AGM is consistent with that of the CPGB-ML; see Expulsion and exclusion as war threat grows.

By making it impossible for CPGB-ML to speak on its own behalf at the AGM, Jeremy Corbyn ensured that there was no criticism at the Annual Meeting of Stop the War’s policies in relation to Libya and Syria.

What’s needed

At the end of their statement of 8 October 2011, the CPGB-ML appealed to STW’s members:

We call on the Stop the War Coalition’s members to hold their leaders to account. We need an organisation that is truly willing and able to work amongst the British people to promote a movement of industrial, political and military non-cooperation with all of imperialism’s aggressive war preparations and activities.

Only then will we be able to claim that we are not complicit in the war crimes of the British government, armed forces, media and corporations. And only then will we have the remotest chance of actually stopping the war.

The United Kingdom needs a genuine grassroots anti-war movement that would seriously oppose UK warmongering, not condone it, and that would hold ‘anti-war’ politicians such as Jeremy Corbyn, Alex Salmond and George Galloway to account.

Part 2: Stop the War: the War on Syria, considers to what extent the Stop the War Coalition has hindered or enabled the war against Syria.

See also:

Adel Safty, Iraq: Manipulating the Evidence to Start a War

Jonathan Stein and Tim Dickinson, Lie by Lie: A Timeline of How We Got Into Iraq

Is Bernie Sanders Planning to Use Climate Catastrophism to Accelerate Agenda 21 and Global Governance?

‘Consensus is the first refuge of scoundrels’ (Michael Crichton)

Bernie Sanders, who is on the campaign trail, has just released a video, Why Is There a Climate Change “Debate” in Washington?  (Youtube video below)

Bernie Sanders utters one great truth in this broadcast and makes one portentous announcement.

The Great Truth

‘The debate over climate change in Washington really has nothing to do with science.’

The debate on ‘climate change’ never had anything to do with climate change, at least on the part of climate alarmists. The purpose of the narrative was always to fulfill a political agenda, to divert more and more wealth to the already rich and powerful, and to divest more and more power away from nation states and their citizens to the bloated and corrupt United Nations bureaucracy, which is essentially controlled by the rich and powerful.

The global warming idea is a project of the (very) elitist Club of Rome, whose members have included Al Gore, Ted Warner, George Soros, Bill Gates and members of the Rockefeller and Rothschild families.  The Club of Rome is the active division of a group of entities serving a globalist agenda, which have played the major part in the establishment of the United Nations, the European Union and NATO. They include the Bilderberg Group, the Committee on Foreign Relations (CFR) and the Trilateral Commission (see Robert Galyon Ross on the ‘Elite Conspiracy’).

climate.jpg large

(Windows on the World, Climate Catastrophobia – The Big Lie)

The global warming project enables further enrichment of the already very wealthy, through the carbon trading scheme (Al Gore was projected to become the first carbon millionaire).  However, United Nations publications such as Agenda 21 make it very clear that climate alarmism has another purpose: to enable and justify expansion ofUN bureaucracy, the empowerment of NGOs, inevitably controlled by the globalists, and to control and contain the populace, all in the name of the Earth and the ill-defined ‘sustainability’.

‘The Global Warming debate […] is a concept by the New World Order to justify the dismantling the industrial society and returning the mass of humanity to obedient serfdom.’  (The Great Climate and Global Warming Fraud invented by the Club of Rome)

Bernie Sanders usefully lays out the false, fallacious, or intellectually dishonest arguments for eco-catastrophism.

  • ‘99% of scientists agree that climate change is real and man-made and that it is already causing devastating harm.’ Scientists do indeed agree that climate change is real, but careful analysis by Lord Monkton and others has shown that while claims of 97% or 99% of support for the Club of Rome’s alarmist narrative are certainly made, the reality is more like 0.3%.
  • ‘The scientific debate is over’: Scientific debate is never over – that’s the thing about science – but moving on
  • ‘The real issue is politics’: Yes.
  • ‘… and the power of the fossil fuel industry’. Rather than cater to the wealthy and powerful special interests in the fossil fuel industry ….’  Well, no.  The empirical evidence shows that wealthy and powerful interests associated with the Club of Rome, such as Ted Warner, the Rockefellers, Rothschilds and Bill Gates, have successfully invested in controlling the climate debate, far beyond anything Big Oil has even attempted.
  • ‘A group of internationally renowned scientists, the IPCC ….’  Back in 2007, New Zealander Dr Vincent Gray, a long-time IPCC reviewer, declared that the IPCC was too blinkered and corrupt to save. His assessment has only been confirmed with time, see this from 2014.   The latest report has been slammed by top climate scientists who have trashed the methods, findings and claims of the IPCC. The climate data set they used has turned out to be an embarrassment, using freezing tropical islands, boiling towns and boats on land.  As regards the scientists themselves, it has been observed that amongst the authors, ‘there are very few of what could be described as “climate scientists, but lots of geographers, energy analysts, economists, sociologists, engineers, sustainability experts and the odd Eco-Psychologist thrown in for good measure, together with considerable UN and World Bank affiliations’.
  • ‘We have 12 years […] to stop the worst impacts of climate change’: The UN and climate catastrophists have been giving us points of no return for decades, but all the ridicule in the world makes no difference.  Given that the world still has not recovered sufficiently from the Little Ice Age to regreen Greenland, highly fertile back in the Medieval Warm Period, projecting only 12 years to bring the world past that point to dangerously hot seems pessimistic.
  • ‘Increase in extreme weather disturbances’: Even the IPCC agrees that there has been no increase in extreme weather events.
  • More acidification of the oceans’: Scientists have found that higher Co2 and lowered pH levels (acidification) have little to no effect on ocean-dwelling organisms.
  • More rising sea levels‘:  Vincent Gray reported in 2007 that in response to Gore’s warnings about the island of Tuvalu sinking below the waves, scientists at Flinders University, Adelaide, were asked to check whether this was true. They set up new, modern, tide-gauges in 12 Pacific islands, including Tuvalu, confident that they would show that all of them are sinking. ‘Recently, the whole project was abandoned as there was no sign of a change in sea level at any of the 12 islands for the past 16 years. In 2006, Tuvalu even rose.’  There was a similar story with the Maldives which have, however, recently built another sea-level airfield.  Sanders makes no specific mention of global warming per se – very wise, as warming leveled out around 1998, and in fact the climate appears to be cooling, leading to dire predictions of a new ice-age, so what actually is causing these rising sea levels is unclear.
  • Hundreds of millions of people [will be] forced to leave own communities, in order to find the food and water they need to survive:”  Given the above, it is not quite clear why.
  • ‘We have a President and a Republican leadership who reject science’:  Trump’s crime was to say, in answer to the accusation that the climate is changing, ‘it will change back’. Which shows a better grasp of science than almost any other Western politician.
  • ‘Trump is a conspiracy theorist’: Trump has said that alarmists have a very big political agenda.
  • ‘They do not have a political agenda’: Yes, they do.

The Portentous Announcement: an action plan to address this fictional problem –  flagged, not specified

  • ‘Unless we take bold and drastic action …’
  • ‘The action we need to take has no historic precedent.’
  • ‘In the coming months I will be working with fellow senators to bring forth the most sweeping climate change legislation ever introduced in the senate.’
  • ‘We need unprecedented legislation …’

Bernie Sanders is clearly in tune with the globalist agenda. Of course the legislation he has in mind here may simply be to raise fuel taxes and build more bird-killing windmills, in which case this is a lot of hype.  On the other hand he may be planning moves in accordance with Agendas 21 and 30, to give more power to the UN and NGOs, and to accelerate the Wildlands Project, forcing people increasingly out of the countryside and into the ‘more sustainable’ cities.

Sanders’ sweetener is that renewable energy, he says, creates more jobs than fossil fuel industries, and is actually cheaper, claims which require more analysis to say the least.  Even so, Bernie Sanders supporters could be turkeys voting for Christmas.

See also:

Jamie Spry, Climatism : State Of The Climate Report

Video on Youtube

Sixty Narcissists Declare Themselves Above Debating the World’s Top Climate Scientists

 

With the help of the Guardian, the climate debate has descended into pure farce.

The Graun has just published a letter entitled, Climate change is real. We must not offer credibility to those who deny it, whereby a motley crew of journalists, politicians, activists and academics have announce their refusal to debate anthopogenic global warming sceptics: ‘If “balance” means giving voice to those who deny the reality of human-triggered climate change, we will not take part in the debate’.

The reason for this step, we are told, is that on the one hand there is an overwhelming scientific consensus and on the other, that there is a lobby, heavily funded by vested interests, that exists simply to sow doubt to serve those interests. Scepticism represents  ‘fringe views’ which should be ignored. Giving AGW sceptics a platform is apparently akin to showcasing flatearthers, never mind the fact that the official position of the Flat Earth Society is that it supports the climate alarmist narrative. (Of course it was sceptics who first argued that the world wasn’t flat.)

The purpose of the letter is to justify the already well-established practice of refusing to engage in debate on global warming, by marginalising and belittling opponents, and to deplatform them. Because of the shortage of real scientists prepared to put their names to the letter, we have the unedifying spectacle of the likes of Clive Lewis and Peter Tatchell declaring that they are above debating atmospheric physics with scientists of the calibre of  Eric Karlstrom or Nobel Laureate Ivar Giaever.

  This exercise in dishonest narcissism demeans all who have signed or lent their support to it.

Why this Letter is a Farce and an Embarrassment

Climate alarmism is heavily funded by big money linked to the Club of Rome, such as the Bill Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation.  Academic research is funded by these ‘charities’ to produce only results that serve the globalist narrative. Academics who speak out against the narrative do so at the expense of their careers. The claim that it is the sceptical position that is heavily funded is nonsense.

Counter-arguments from AGW sceptics have never been discredited. Michael Mann, for example, who is in litigation with number of people who have openly called his hockystick graph a fraud, such as Tim Ball and Mark Steyn, is still, to my knowledge, refusing to produce the data supposed to justify it.

The claim of ‘overwhelming scientific consensus’ is long debunked; the much vaunted 97% seems to be based on a figure of 76 peopleIn any case, given the huge numbers of scientists who have declared climate alarmism to be a hoax (see, for example, the American petition signed by 31,000 scientists, or this list of 1000 scientists) it is hard to see where this 97% could come from. 

The vast majority of the signees to the letter would have no show of debating science with a top climate scientist.  Of the 15 or so professors, maybe six are in relevant scientific fields, while the rest are in unrelated fields such as economics, law or psychotherapy. The same applies to others with impressive sounding qualifications – Dr Teresa Belton, for examples, wrote her thesis on the effects of television and video on children. In the case of 90% of the signees – academics, journalist, politicians, activists – the very idea that they could sensibly debate with serious climate scientists is ludicrous.

The letter comes out of the University of East Anglia. The letter was drafted by Dr Rupert Read, Green Party politician and Reader in Philosophy at the University of East Anglia; a the large number of signees have connections to the University. The UEA is notorious as the centre of the Climategate scandal, whereby emails between scientists at the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit (CRU) and their colleagues around the world revealed a consistent, deliberate effort to skew, hide or destroy data.

James Taylor wrote: Three themes are emerging from the newly released emails:

  1. prominent scientists central to the global warming debate are taking measures to conceal rather than disseminate underlying data and discussions;
  2. these scientists view global warming as a political ’cause’ rather than a balanced scientific inquiry; and
  3. many of these scientists frankly admit to each other that much of the science is weak and dependent on deliberate manipulation of facts and data.

Signees may still be happy to debate global warming, just not with experts in the field. After I replied to one of the many twitter postings of this letter, Mark Maslin, Professor of Climatology, turned up in my mentions. It was interesting how quickly the debate was reduced to the personal – while I myself was not the politest, I did at least stick to the point.

Maslin Faud Fraud fraudABarbara

Maslin Faud Fraud fraud .PNG

MaslinErrorBetter

(Nb: Maslin had also changed the timeframe, from 1000 years to 10,000.  My link is to ‘The Marcott Reconstruction Debunked’)

Maslin Ad hominem lmao2

Maslin used classic troll technique: dubious assertion, switch when discredited, ad hominem, personalisation of debate. But more importantly, he appears quite happy to debate with an AGW sceptic when she is a completely unknown to him arts graduate – just not a senior scientist.

After publishing countless alarmist predictions that have not delivered, the Guardian has finally destroyed its last shred of credibility in the matter of ‘anthropogenic global warming’.

However, while the letter invites ridicule and hilarity, it is a deeply worrying thought that climate alarmists can write any old rubbish, and know that the mainstream media, and most of the so-called alternative media, are going to make no attempt to expose them.

See also:

Climate activists have long history of ducking debates with skeptics

Climate Alarmism is a Scam and a Hoax

In Search of Ares

In 2013 we set out on a little pilgrimage around Roúmeli, or Central Greece, visiting sites related to the Greek Resistance.

1 Arachova B
We set out from Arachova, up on Parnassos, notable for a famous battle during the uprising against the Ottoman Empire. However there was another Battle of Arachova, which took place against the Germans in 1943. Italy had just capitulated to the Allies, leaving Italians who were jointly occupying Greece in an awkward position. The young captain of ELAS, Nikephoros (Dimitris Dimitriou), rode into Arachova with his men to negotiate the surrender of the Italian weaponry. The Italians delayed so as to give the Germans time to come up from Amfissa and Livadia, however Nikephoros was ready for them and ended up with not only the Italian arms but the Germans’ as well.

There are a couple of little incidents relating to this episode that I rather like. Nikephoros reports that when he and his men rode into Arachova, bearded and crisscrossed with ammunition belts, the Italian soldiers forgot all else and ran for their cameras. They asked the ELAS fighters to stay on their horses for the photos shoot but Nikephoros decided that this would be infra dig in the circumstances.

After the battle they loaded up the German and Italian lorries with all the booty, but had difficulty driving it through the narrow streets of Arachova. When a local was asked whether they could knock down and then rebuild the corner of his house, he said ‘Knock down the whole house if you need to!’

Nikephoros is famous for breaking out 60 inmates, including his own father, from the prison in the nearby town of Leivadia.

We drove over Parnassus to Agoriani or Eftalofos,

2 Eptalofos

and saw where Nikephoros is buried.

3 Nikiforos grave

We stopped at Lilea where there is a museum dedicated to Diamantis, another famed leader of ELAS Parnassidos, who died in the civil war.  The man with the key was away so we took a rain check, as Lilea is close to Arachova which is where we base ourselves in Greece.

Then on to Lamia, birthplace of the emblematic figure of the Greek Resistance, Ares Velouchiotis.

4 Lamia

Lamia is known for its attractive squares, at least four within a small radius. This statue of Ares is in People’s Square, and we dined there that night.

We spent the afternoon hiking up to the Resistance museum, which was closed indefinitely, like many others at the time. This was not the only disappointment. In the grounds of the building was an orange tree, covered in the most beautiful, brightly coloured fruit. Oh well, if the locals don’t appreciate them, we thought …. Back in the hotel, one mouthful revealed that they were the most sour, bitter, inedible fruit imaginable!

Ares Velouchiotis

The andates have gone to the mountains
The brave young men of Roúmeli
And the bravest of them all
Everyone says is Ares (andartiko song)

5 ares

Ares was the man responsible for creating the resistance army ELAS. Due in part to the discipline he imposed on the andartes (ELAS partisans) and the law and order he created in the countryside, he was loved and trusted by a large section of Greece, above all in his chief stamping ground of Roumeli. A large section of the country became ‘Free Greece’ where the Germans and the Italians could only move with a great number of troops. This improved the lives of the inhabitants immensely, amongst other things reducing the confiscation of food by the occupation authorities.

AresLamia.PNG

Forty thousand people from Lamia and the surrounding villages crowded into Freedom Square in Lamia to hear Ares’ historic speech after liberation.

8 Lamia barbara

We retraced our steps somewhat to visit the Gorgopotamos Bridge, blown up in a joint effort by ELAS with British saboteurs and also the smaller Greek organisation EDES created by the British under their chosen man Zervas (Syria watchers should think FSA). Greek and British reports show clearly that Ares was the genius behind the military operation, EDES ineffectual ,and Zervas worse than useless.

Nikephoros writes that when Ares presented his operational plan to the British and Zervas, it was accepted without change. However Nikephoros himself objected, because his only role was to captain the reserve troops. Ares response was ‘Shame on you Nikephoros, as a military man don’t you know that battles are always won by the reserves!’, and then ‘are you so sure of the competence of the men of the good General [i.e. Zervas]?’ Nikephoros was unconvinced, but as Ares suspected, the EDES troops were not up to the task entrusted to them, to take the less heavily guarded end of the bridge, so Nikephoros’s troops had to go in and save the operation.

9 Gorgopotamos

The BBC made no mention of either ELAS or Ares when it reported the operation but described Zervas’ contribution in glowing terms…

10

We drove up through the Carpenissi valley, west of Lamia. First port of call was to the ‘Hut of Stefanis’ outside Sperchiada. In May 1842 Ares and a handful of men set out from the hut to start the armed struggle against the German/Italian/ Bulgarian occupation. The hut is now a little museum.

11 Stefanis hut

On to Domnista, famous as the place where Ares publicly announced the struggle against the occupation. On 7 June 1942 he and his small band of about 15 made as dramatic an entrance as they could into the village, preceded by the Greek flag and singing, and then Ares addressed the locals about resistance and also law and order. At that time he repeated this many times in the villages around, moving round at a punishing speed so as to give the impression that there were several groups of andartes in the area.

12 domnista

They came down this road. Behind the car on the corner is a kafeneio where we had coffee. The owner was eight when Ares came but still remembers him talking about what ELAS intended to do to rapists, thieves and murderers.

At Korischades is ‘The Old School House’, now a museum, which was the base for the ‘Government in the Mountains’, established in March 1944. The actual name was the more modest Political Committee of National Liberation, but it held near-nationwide elections, in which 1,800 people voted. (In the Greek elections of 1936 only 1 million voted).

13 Korischades

There was a very good argument for seeing this ‘Government’ as the only legitimate one for Greece at the time, but the political leadership chose instead to throw its lot in with the British sponsored ‘Government of National Unity’ at the Lebanon Conference in May 1944. The Prime Minister was to be George Papandreou, whose party had won about 6% of seats in the 1936 elections.

14 Korischades museum

Left: Good luck Duce!; Right: Good luck Fuhrer!

Mikro Chorio’ is the place of a famous battle by ELAS under Ares against the Italians, featuring in the ‘Hymn to Ares’ aka as the ‘Mikro Chorio Hymn’.

The mountains groan, the sun darkens
Wretched Mikro Chorio once again faces grief.

But golden swords flash, rifles take aim.
Ares is waging war, with his brave young andartes

Come o faithless Italian, ridiculous Mussolini
And consider what will happen here

You do not face the old and sick to butcher today
Nor shamefaced girls, Nor villages to burn,

Nor mothers to tyrannise in the market place.
What you have before you today is Capetan Ares

Who is as fast as the eagle, as the wild wind
And kills traitors with his mighty sword.

Word of the ELAS’s victories against the Italians, like that of Mikro Chorio and Gorgopotamos, spread throughout Greece like wildfire.

15

Ares took his surname from Mount Velouchi, which dominates the Carpenissi Valley. Seen here from near Mikro Chorio

We could have stayed longer in the area, as Megalo Chorio is particularly appealing, however …
Our final destination was to be the Fango Gorge, Mesouda, Ares’ place of death. Mesouda is deep in the Agrapha Mountains north of the Carpenissi valley. Rather than go round on the main road of Western Greece, we decided to take a ‘short cut’ through mountains.

The Agrapha are spectacular, offset by the most beautiful green valleys.

AgraphaB

In fact Agrafa means uncharted, and though things have improved since Ottoman times it is still very difficult to navigate, with my 1990s map way out of date. The idea was to get to Mesouda in the evening and whip down to the Fango Gorge before sunset. We didn’t arrive until about 10pm (fortunately as it turns out) and then as there was no accommodation we had to look elsewhere for a bed. It was a shame that we couldn’t stay in Mesouda because there was a very popular tavern filled with friendly people and it would have been great to eat there.

Back at Mesouda the next morning we found a sign to Fango Gorge. An elderly lady told us that we needed to take the car and then walk for a bit. We drove down a terrible road and then when it gave out walked down to the Acheloos River. Very pretty but could see no signs of anything relating to Ares.

Riveralchoos.PNG

Eventually we returned to the car, very disappointed. Then we noticed an arrow in red paint pointing right. This was followed by red splotches on trees and rocks. The ground became rougher and rougher,with some difficult and scary-looking slips. Fortunately we had our walking shoes on, but I didn’t think to go back for my water bottle.

18 Barbara Mesouda

Late middle age is a funny time to take up mountaineering …

Rossmountaineering.PNG

After some serious rock climbing we arrived at a very pretty little gorge with rocks and waterfalls.

Gorge.PNG

The only thing we noticed here was more red splotches, so after a drink, onward … and onward.

23 ross river

24 view of Acheloos

We wound up the mountain for about two hours but when faced with yet another stretch of sun-baked scree we gave up, fearing sunstroke. We lost the trail back once or twice but finally found ourselves back at the stream.

25 back to river

After drinking as much water as we could we collapsed in the shade, somewhat disconsolate but telling ourselves that at least we had some idea of the terrain that the andartes travelled over, often with terrible or no (!) footwear .

25-barb-back-to-river.jpg

It was about this point that Ross asked, ‘What’s that behind you?’. I turned round and read out slowly ’16-6-1945 Here fell the First Captain of ELAS, Ares Velouchiotis.’ !!

Barbara Ares.PNG

 

Aresmem

 

28 Ares poem

‘Wind in the mountains, black moon in the hearts, come and take for yourself freedom with songs, guns and swords’. From the andartiko song ‘Heroes’.

Recovering at the kafeneio / taverna at Mesouda. Coffee at the unheard of price of 50c, but sadly it was exactly the wrong time for food.

30 river

 

Historical Note

From the outset of WWII Winston Churchill was determined to restore the ‘Greek’ monarchy, as the best one of ensuring British influence in the Eastern Mediterranean.  Reports from British agents in Greece that perhaps 90% of Greeks were opposed to the monarchy only strengthened his resolve.  In October 1944 Churchill visited Moscow and he and Stalin formulated what is known as the percentage agreement, whereby after the war Britain would have 90% of influence in Greece and the USSR would have 90% influence over e.g. Roumania.  A series of manoeuvres by the British and disastrous errors and capitulations by the Communist Party, who now controlled the progressive movement in Greece, led to the final disaster of the Treaty of Varkiza.

‘The British kicked us into the hole they had been digging for us’ (Manos Ioannidis)

Under the terms of the treaty ELAS disarmed – the other clauses are irrelevant as they were not honoured either by the British or the Greek politicians.    There was certainly no attempt to disarm the right-wing gangs who had collaborated with both the Germans and the British and now roamed the countryside pillaging, bashing and murdering (this period is known as the White Terror).   Members of ELAS were hunted down and murdered or tried as war criminals.  Others were persecuted by the Stalinist leadership of the KKE (Greek Communist Party), who resented Ares for opposing the Varkiza agreement and ELAS members for defending his memory.

Nikephoros was sentenced to death but his father spent years campaigning on his behalf, even approaching the British commander at Gorgopotomos for support, and he was eventually released.   Although he had previously been a regular officer in the army Nikephoros was now reduced to selling coffee round offices to support his family.  Photis Mastrokostas, who was one of the people who set out with Ares from the ‘Hut of Stefanis’, fought at Gorgopotamos and stayed with Ares until his death, spent 16 years in prison, developed TB and died the week after his release.  Diamantis was caught and executed during the civil war which followed (1946-49).  Another hero of Gorgopotamos, Kostoulas, went to fight with the Democratic Army in the civil war but was arrested as an ‘enemy agent’ and either murdered on the orders of the leadership or committed suicide.

On a personal note, the father of my friend Charikleia in Arachova was a member of the resistance and after the war spent 18 months in prison.  Her uncle Charalabos was killed in the civil war and both Charikleia and her brother Babis are named after him.  Her mother was also active in the resistance movement and like many Greek women was beaten by right wing gangs during the White Terror.

Death of Ares

It seems that Ares committed suicide, but there is some debate over whether he had already been shot. Although he was being systematically hunted down by right-wing forces (some say with the help of the Communist Party), many people find it hard to understand why he would commit suicide rather than fight to the end. One suggestion is that he was cut to the quick by the news that he had lost his Communist party membership. However given that he despised the party leadership this doesn’t seem likely.

The noose was closing in; many of his companions were captured within hours. No-one was able to prevent the desecration of his body – his head was cut off and hung from a lamppost in Trikala for some days. Ares always avowed that he would never fall into the hands of the British or their agents. It could be that he was struck by one hostile bullet and decided to finish it himself.

Failing that scenario, there is another, which seems quite probable if you actually go to the Gorge and see where he fell.  Is it purely a coincidence that he died in this beautiful little gorge, with rocks, river, waterfalls, and the mountains looming around him and across the Acheloos River? Knowing that the end was inevitable, did he actually choose to take his last breathe here, and made his way here for that purpose?

It was Ares that suggested the name ELAS, pronounced identically to the older name for Greece, Ellas. He chose for himself the names Ares, from the god of war, and Velouchiotis, after the most magnificent mountain in the Carpenissi Valley. To choose to die in the Fango Gorge could well be another example of his fine judgement.

Who are Syria’s ISIS Hunters?

On 17 November news came out of Syria that the ISIS Hunters had captured 250 ISIS fighters in order to secure Kate Island, north of Deir ezZor.

Hawija prisoner

On November 17, the Russian-backed ISIS Hunters announced that they have fully secured Kate Island north of the city of Deir Ezzor and captured 250 fighters of ISIS. The captured ISIS fighters had been trapped inside the island since the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) liberated Deir Ezzor on November 3. (South Front)

The map shows that Kate Island is right against the city of Deir ezZor, so victory was essential to the well-being of its inhabitants.

Map

The ISIS Hunters posted on facebook:

ISIS surrendered to ISIS Hunters after several days siege of Hawijah Kate island:
Hunters captured more than 250 ISIS militia capitulated with lots of 7.62 and 12.7 ammunition and enough food reserves after the last way to retreat was cut off.

On November 14, Hunters joined a comb out operation of the island. ISIS was concentrated in the central and southern part of the island. At the beginning Hunters operation was complicated by heavy resistance and high-density fire. They used all range of weapons like ak-47 and machine guns hiding behind backs of local civilians. Nevertheless, Hunters kept moving with field artillery support. At night, our men spotted several boats heading towards the island and opened heavy fire. After several minutes of gunfire boats turned back and left their comrades on the island.
The next morning ISIS started to surrender in groups of 10-15 men. Overall amount of surrendered militia is 250 men.
Now Hawijah Kate island is secured.

Further description and pictures from Muraselon Syrian Reporters here.

Who are the ISIS Hunters  (صائدوا داعش)?

  “Elite SF unit. They lost their families and homes. They have nothing but their Motherland… and boiling hatred for the enemies. It is time for revenge.” (twitter bio.)

The ISIS Hunters are a special force of the Syrian Arab Army,  formed, funded and trained by the Russian military to fight ISIS in the Syrian desert.  Al Masdar reported in February:

The ISIS Hunters will be tasked with protecting the liberated gas and oil fields in western Palmyra, along with the weapons storage facilities near the T-4 Military Airport.

In fact the activities of the ISIS Hunters quickly expanded well beyond this initial brief, including the liberation of Palmyra and then crossing the Euphrates to clear ISIS from the eastern Bank.  The operation to take Palmyra must have already been in the planning stage, given that the Hunters moved towards the town soon after formation, with Palmyra falling on 2 March.

The ISIS Hunter motto is “it’s time to avenge our country, Syria”.

Their formation was officially announced in February 2017, with a video released on the 27th:

The operation to retake Palmyra was soon underway (video).

taking Palmyra

Palmyra town was taken on 2 March, with the support of Russian air power and also  Hezbollah, according to the Washington Post – the Post was disappointed that the Syrian statement on Palmyra “did not mention the role of the United States, which has also stepped up strikes in the Palmyra area in recent weeks”.

Soon after, the Hunters released another mission statement, and an appeal for recruits, filmed in the theatre of Palmyra.

Palmyra.PNG

After the liberation of Palmyra, the ISIS Hunters were occupied with guarding the town against the return of ISIS, clearing the environs, including retaking the Palmyra gas fields, and keeping roads such as the Homs-Palmyra highway open.

On 4 April came reports of a sarin attack by Syrian forces in Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib.  Despite the obvious discrepancies in the reporting (the only witnesses were members of terrorist gangs, who photographed and videos themselves standing in round in sarin contaminated ground in sandalled feet), Donald Trump was persuaded to send a message to the Syrian government a couple of days later, by unleashing 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at Al Shayrat airfield in western Syria, where the chemical weapons attack was claimed to have originated.

The Hunters’ reply to Trump was scornful:

Clearing ISIS from the gas fields continued:

A new video appeared on May 14, introducing ISIS Hunter commander Ameer Ahmad Ahmad.

Ameer.PNG

Ahmads message to the US:

“To the United States and precisely Trump, you have saved many of those mercenaries in prisons and sent those same criminals to be buried on our lands. Our arms are waiting for them on this holy land. We will hunt them as long as they are on this land; we will hunt them wherever they are. They will never be able to hide from us.”

Securing the Homs-Palmyra road, July 3:

In July, ISIS Hunter Abu Yusha reports that “American intelligence have blocked us” – their Official Isis Hunters facebook page had been closed down (the page is up again).

Professional development has not been forgotten, with a two-week tactical drill course for assault units .

In August the Hunters uploaded a video on their activities in the east Hama region:

The Hunters now prepared to take Huwaysis.  According to their report,

“Before the assault on Huwaysis ISIS Hunters took under control several strategic IS strongholds located to the southeast from the city. The most important and the most arduous was a fortified stronghold in the area of height 863. Right before the battle commander of terrorist fled from the position on the motorcycle leaving his fighters on their own. Despite the heavy resistance of the remaining, Hunters managed to take the stronghold without any losses. When the Hunters eliminated all the IS terrorists and took their position, they found perfectly fortified bunker craved into the mountain. “

Next step was to take Uqayribat, on the Palmyra-Hama road.

The Hunters took and held al Mushrifeh, close to Homs, which was not without its challenges.

And on 1 September Uqayribat is liberated by the ISIS Hunters:

ISIS Hunters then moved into the province of Deir ezZor, taking ash Sholah, about 30 km from Deir ezZor city on the Palmyra road.

Crossing to the left (east) side of the river was cause for celebration, with Marrat, Sbahah and Mazlum taken in short order:

Syrian and allied forces lifted the siege on the airport at Deir ezZor on 10 September (video).  The ISIS Hunters were occupied with clearing the east bank of the Euphrates below the city.   Kusham is about 15 kilometres south-east of Deir ezZor city:

The Hunters continued to clear the east bank towards al Busayr, another 20k south from Kusham.

Then on 17 November the Hunters took Kate Island:

soldierprisoner.jpg

And offered to exchange their prisoners for Russians captured by ISIS:

As at 22 November the ISIS Hunters were continuing to clear ISIS from the Euphrates area.

Good

Alaa – Noor : Not Just One But Two Little Syrian Girls, Now Tweeting from East Ghouta

 

On 3 November two young girls, Nour (10) and Alaa (8), began to tweet (@shmsalkhtyb), as we are told, from East Ghouta, calling for an end to the siege by Syrian and allied troops. If this story has a familiar ring to it, there are good reasons.

For over a year the Western media have been doggedly pushing the Bana Alabed brand – the story of a little girl who tweeted from Aleppo about “Assad/Russia bombing”, calling for the world to save her by imposing a no-fly zone on Syria and then bombing it to bits. The media has been impervious to the fact that the fakery of the Bana count was well exposed, and if anything strengthened the resolve of Russia and Syria to ignore such shameless propaganda. They have also shown a callous disregard for the effects on the child fronting his campaign (see The Crucifixion of Bana Alabed).

Western propagandists have been so blinded by the media support for the Bana Project   that they continue in attempts to replicate its success, firstly with Nour the Karate Kid in Idlib, and now with a focus on on East Ghouta.

The situation is almost identical to that of Aleppo at the end of 2016. Like eastern Aleppo East Ghouta has been a terrorist enclave for years, occupied by al Nusra (al Qaeda in Syria) and Jaish al Islam, notorious for various atrocities such as parading caged women through the streets on trucks, and firing mortars at residential areas of Damascus, the historic old city being a favourite target.  Jaish al Islam, under its former name of Liwa al Islam, is the most likely culprit of the 2013 sarin gas attack in East Ghouta, see the conclusions of the collaborative research project on the attack, WhoGhouta.

With the total defeat of ISIS in eastern Syria imminent, the terrorist enclave in east Ghouta may soon be facing the full attention of Syria and its allies. As with Aleppo, the defeat of Jaish al Islam will mean liberation from occupation for the people of East Ghouta, and also liberation from mortar attack for the rest of Damascus.

The West sees the siege of East Ghouta as both a threat – another crushing defeat of its assets in Syria – and an opportunity, one more chance to press for open war on Syria.
This latest example of child exploitation can be seen as another desperate attempt to facilitate a Libya-style zone in Syria.

This project, most probably the brain child of the Foreign Office, like Bana, however, feels more like the actions of a government department nearing the end of the financial year, desperately trying to use up their budget, whether or not efficaciously, before the money disappears and also so they can get more money in the next round.

The formula is now stale: two little girls, in a town besieged by the Syrian Arab Army, drawing the attention of the world to their plight. Like Bana Alabed, they are helped by “mom” (Shams al Khateeb?); like Bana they want to tell the world about the war crimes of “Assad” specifically about the “bombbing”. Like Bana they look healthy and well-dressed, an advertisement for what civil war can do for a child.

Which is not to say that things are really so rosy for most of those still in East Ghouta.

The account looks to follow the same pattern as the Bana Project, with videos and nicely posed photos uploaded immediately, even a drawing released on the very first day by a follower.

8 46 am 5 11 nz time2

As with Bana’s videos, the one used for the fixed tweet is unconvincing: Alaa fizzles out quickly, while Noor appears to be reading from an autocue, in the same expressionless sing-song voice that was a Bana signature. Once again, the high level of the wording – “we will try to share our daily lives with you” – is at odds with the speakers’ manifest lack of linguistic competence.   Again there is the repeated use of slogans – we want to go to school, we want to play.  As with Bana there is an appeal for the world to help.

The handlers may have learned from some of the mistakes of the Bana account. The well-publicised details of the Alabed family enabled her father’s links with terrorism to be revealed, but so far the Alaa-Noor account gives no mention of surnames or parents names, or of other siblings. There is no indication of the identity of Shams al Khateeb, owner of the account (Twitter was criticised for verifying an account in the name of seven-year old Bana).

Whereas the Bana account hit the ground running with a flood of tweets, photographs and videos (someone was clearly doing Bana 9 to 5), there have only been 13 tweets so far over the last five days. At time of writing (Thursday 9 November) followers number 433, so no followers have been purchased in their thousands, and no politicians or media personalities (or anyone else for that matter) are followed by the account.

Bana’s progress has been dogged by criticism that she never had time to go to school, even after she moved to Turkey. It would seem that the Alaa-Noor handlers decided to silence critics, and accusations of child abuse, by having a school shot on the second day. However the effect is spoiled somewhat by the lack of any other children in the yard.

London, it seems, cannot get past the “only children left alive” feel of the Bana account.

Banalast

Two friends of Alaa-Noor were introduced from day three, with pictures and videos of them at school. Again, the effect is artificial, because there are no other children visible; even in in the classroom there was no attempt to fill other tables.

Even though there is some change in clothing, it looks like the photographer visited Alaa-Noor only the once –  the photo for their ‘first 280 character tweet’ is almost identical to that for their first school picture.

There is no evidence as yet of a familial link with terrorism, as there was with Bana Alabed. However Alaa-Noor’s following is consistent with the other FCO enterprises, characterised by overt support for terrorists in Syria. @IranArabSpring, which follows all the Foreign Office Syria projects, including Bana and the White Helmets (as well as preparing for the next regime operation in Iran), was the very first of Alaa-Noor’s followers, and has been assiduously retweeting the account.

Another is Shajul Islam (@ShajulIslam), a doctor who was struck off the medical register in Britain but who apparently practices medicine in terrorist areas.  Along with members of the terrorist propaganda construct the White Helmets, funded by the FCO and staffed by the vicious al Zinki gang, Rahul Islam was heavily relied on as a witness to the alleged sarin attack in Khan Sheikhoun in April 2017.  The use of such sources left Russia no choice but to slam the UN findings on Khan Sheikhoun.

Another follower also resident in Britain is Oz Katerji  (@OzKaterji), well known as a terrorist supporter and proponent of a no-fly zone in Syria, reporting for NBC News, BBC World Service, Al-Jazeera and others.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has been open about Foreign Office support for the White Helmets (though not about its role in creating them), but more reticent about underwriting the Bana project. However the Alaa-Noor twitter account was followed within hours by his chief speechwriter, David Blair (@davidblairdt ‏), former Telegraph correspondent in Africa & Middle East. Blair also follows the accounts attributed to Bana Alabed and her mother Fatemah.

Given the lack of activity in the @shmsalkhtyb account, it likely that this pilot may not actually see a full series.  A number of salient factors:

  • The transparent agenda of the account and the account’s followers,
  • the choice of well-fed, well-dressed children who are clearly loving the attention,
  • the West’s complete failure to ever put the viewpoint of children who are besieged by terrorists, and once again
  • the use of professional but obviously staged photography,

make it impossible to see the account as any thing but another example of cheap propaganda and child exploitation. If anything this effort further exposes those behind the Bana Alabed and other such projects.

Furthermore Aleppo is being rebuilt and is obviously a far happier place than it was a year ago.  The Syrian government is already planning the renewal of the parts of East Ghouta that have been retaken.  Any suggestion now that the continued presence of Jaish al Islam and al Nusra in Damascus is for the good of Syrians will convince nobody.

 

See also Sputnik’s moving testimonies from Aleppo children

‘When I Grow Up I’ll Arrest All Terrorists’: Aleppo Children Tell Their Stories

 

Jeremy Corbyn and George Soros

On 12 September 2015 Jeremy Corbyn, as his first act as the new leader of the British Labour Party, addressed a protest in support of refugees, called Solidarity with Refugees.  Corbyn stood next to Abdulaziz Alhashemi of Syria Solidarity UK (SSUK), who was draped in a flag representing UK-backed Syrian extremists,  on a platform from which Clara Connolly, also of SSUK,  had urged a Libya-style no-fly zone.

Syrian Solidarity UK describes itself as ‘a network of activists committed to solidarity with the Syrian Revolution’.  In practice this means making the case for greater UK involvement in Syria, above all a no-fly zone.  SSUK
 claimed a large part of the credit for the March:

SSUK REfMarch

The protest was organised by Stop the War in conjunction with groups created or  funded by George Soros, such as Avaaz.

George Soros, one of the world’s richest men, has been playing an active role in regime change wars and coups since the 1980s.  At the same time he is the major force behind the European refugee crisis and is the presumed architect of the Merkel Plan.   (See also F. William Engdahl,  Soros Plays Both Ends in Syrian Refugee Crisis).  ‘Solidarity with refugees’ in Soros terms means using war to create as many refugees as possible;  ‘Syria solidarity’ means facilitating those wars.

Thus Corbyn’s first act as leader of the Labour Party was to lend moral support to George Soros’s most ambitious projects:  externally created regime change and mass migration.

Corbyn and Syria

Corbyn as a leading anti-war activist has been vocal in his opposition to active interventions such as the invasion of Iraq and the bombing of Syria.   That he was sharing a platform with people demanding a Libya-style no-fly zone, and with a flag associated with some of the most vicious actions of the Syrian war, should have given Corbyn pause.

It could be argued that Corbyn arrived late; maybe he did not notice the FSA flag, or realise its significance; maybe he did not know about Connolly’s demand for a no-fly zone.

However Corbyn already had a murky history when it comes to regime change wars.  In 2011, he was instrumental as chairman of Stop the War Coalition in suppressing debate and dissent about STW policies regarding Libya and Syria.  In the same role he shares responsibility for the deplatforming of Mother Agnes Mariam, bullied by no-fly zone proponents out of speaking to a STW conference in 2013 about the war in Syria .

Also on Corban’s watch, STW continued its affiliation with the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), the British representative of the Muslim Brotherhood.  The Muslim Brotherhood is considered to be the parent or mother lode of all terrorist organisations in the Middle East.  The Brotherhood is sponsored by George Soros, with a recent study showing that Soros donated over $1.4 million to the Brotherhood from 2011 onwards.

In December 2015, in his speech to the debate about air-strikes on Syria, Corbyn made a most revealing statement about what he terms ‘the Syrian Civil War’.  (Full speech here), this clip taken from 18:20)

By suggesting that Assad is worse than ISIS, Corbyn is buying into the Nato narrative on Syria, heavily dependent on the myth of the genocidal Bashar al Assad, which has been created in order to justify the goal on regime change, in preference to actually stopping ISIS or other  terrorist groups in Syria.  So while ostensibly opposing overt intervention in Syria, Corbyn is underwriting the reasons given for that intervention, and thus facilitating it.

In December 2016 Corbyn wrote a public letter to Theresa May over Syria bloodshed:

“The rules of war are being broken on all sides. Labour has long condemned all attacks on civilian targets, including those by Russian and pro-Syrian government forces in Aleppo, for which there can be no excuse. We strongly believe that those responsible for violations of International Humanitarian Law in Aleppo and more widely in Syria should be held to account. […]

“Would you set out exactly how the government will boost Foreign and Commonwealth Office resources to aid [efforts to resolve the humanitarian crisis in Syria], engaging all sides, including regional powers such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran?”

The letter pushes culpability for the war onto Syria and Russia, rather than onto those responsible:

  1. Corbyn once again assumes the veracity of the NATO narrative with regard to Syrian, and now Russian, warcrimes, even though allegations of such crimes are never backed up by fact. There is no evidence that either Syria or Russia have ever deliberately attacked civilian targets.  On the other hand there was good reason for driving out the gangs terrorising both eastern and western Aleppo, the result being a free Aleppo now occupied with rebuilding lives and infrastructure.
  2. Corbyn’s only reference to the Foreign Office is to assume that they could play a positive role in Syria.  Corbyn is blithely ignoring the huge sums the FCO and other government departments have spent on promoting the war in Syria – the UK government is involved in activities ranging from funding terrorist groups (‘non-humanitarian intervention’) to orchestrating propaganda, including openly creating the fake humanitarian propaganda construct the White Helmets and being almost certainly behind the equally fraudulent @AlabedBana account.

In April 2017, Corbyn took issue with Boris Johnson’s decision to cancel his trip to Moscow.  Corbyn, of course, believes in dialogue, unless it is with Trump (see below) but seeking cooperation on, for example, fighting terrorism was not at the top of Corbyn’s mind – he wanted Johnson to call out the Russians for their support for Syria, regardless of its legitimacy in terms of international law:

He should go to Moscow, have a very strong and very robust conversation with the Russian government about their support for Assad and what they’re doing there, but have that conversation.

Corbyn’s position on Syria is virtually identical to that of the Stop the War Coalition, explored in Syria Has Shown That Stop the War UK is Unfit for Purpose.

Corbyn, Jo Cox and the White Helmets

Jo Cox was a British MP who was assassinated just before the Brexit referendum, due, it is claimed, to her opposition to Brexit. Aside from her untimely death, she was most notable for her support for the war on Syria, urging British military intervention and a no-fly zone, if necessary  one imposed unilaterally by Britain. In her Time to Enforce Syria’s Ceasefire to Save Lives  she expresses her admiration for Obama’s leadership ‘on everything’ (including presumably the destruction of Libya), asserting ‘Obama and Cameron did not intend to cause harm in Syria but containment has been a disaster – for Jo Cox failure to wage more war was the greatest crime.  Before the vote on Syrian airstrikes Cox declared that she would abstain, because the proposed measures did not go far enough.

Like Corbyn, Cox equated Syria’s president, Bashar Assad, with ISIS, asserting:

Jo Cox was a powerful spokesperson for the Foreign Office’s propaganda construct the White Helmets, a supposed first responders outfit staffed by members of vicious terrorist groups in Aleppo, such as Nour al-Din al-Zinki, who cut off the head of Palestinian child Abdullah Issa.  Cox nominated the White Helmets for the Nobel Peace Prize.

There is extensive proof of the fraudulent and obnoxious nature of the White Helmets, emanating from the tireless research carried out by Vanessa Beeley and other independent researchers.

As John Pilger pointed out, the White Helmets are a “complete propaganda construct”

The White Helmets are partially funded by George Soros, via Open Society and the Syria Campaign.

Jo Cox and her husband Brendan met when they both worked for the Soros-funded NGO Oxfam.  Brendan went on to work for Save the Children, likewise funded by Soros, but left under a cloud in November 2015.  On Jo Cox’s death, her grieving husband smartly set up the Jo Cox Fund, now the Jo Cox Foundation. The first £1.5m raised was earmarked from the beginning for the three charities deemed by Brendan Cox to be closest to his wife’s heart : the Royal Voluntary Service, Hope Not Hate and the White Helmets.

Jeremy Corbyn, like STW, takes no official position on the White Helmets, neither supporting them nor questioning Boris Johnson about their funding.  A search of his twitter account @jeremycorbyn, which he regularly uses to convey his position on issues, reveals no mention of the White Helmets at all.

What he has done is heavily promote Jo Cox: as well as speaking upon her death, as he should,  he paid tribute to her on the anniversary of her maiden speech, at Labour’s National Women’s Conference in September 2016, and again when her killer was sentenced in November.  In May, Theresa May and Corbyn agreed on a one day election truce in Cox’s memory.

Cox’s murder was a tragedy for her two children, in particular, and has implications for democracy itself, as Corbyn properly pointed out at the time. Morally, however, Jo Cox is in the same camp as Tony Blair, in that she was a warmonger and to that end underwrote an obvious fraud, i.e. the White Helmets. For a self-proclaimed anti-war activist to continue to sing her praises without reservation is therefore inappropriate.

Jeremy Corbyn has openly supported, in Parliament, the Jo Cox Foundation, which publicly earmarked money for the White helmets.  In December 2016 Corbyn invited Theresa May to join with him in urging the public to buy a record to support the Foundation.  Corbyn was therefore asking people to donate money to the White Helmets and support al Qaeda in the war on Syria.

Corbyn, in his relentless promotion of Jo Cox and her enterprises, is careful not to refer to the White Helmets directly.  A search of Jeremy Corbyn’s twitter shows no tweets regarding the White Helmets at all, let alone their funding by the Foreign Office.  Thus, after Boris Johnson, Corbyn is arguably Westminster’s most dedicated supporter of the White Helmets, without ever mentioning them by name.

The eulogies for Jo Cox do not look like stopping any time soon: the anniversary of  Cox’s death has elicited tweets from both Corbyn and Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequor John McDonnell.  It is hard to argue with their choice of hashtag.

The Great Get Together was a three day event to celebrate the life of Jo Cox, initiated by her ‘family and friends’.  It boasts more than a 100 partners: those cited include Avaaz, ActionAid and 38 Degrees, as well as others that enjoy Soros funding, such as Amnesty International.

Soros, Trump and The Women’s March

Like him or loathe him, it is undeniable that during the run-up to the US presidential election Donald Trump was seen as an outsider, unpredictable, someone not owned by the system.  For that reason many people opposed to Nato’s regime change wars hoped Trump might be less dangerous than Clinton, and certainly believed he could not possible be worse.

Trumps’s policies as then stated were a direct threat to the plans of George Soros:  on the one hand he wanted to reduce uncontrolled immigration, and on the other he proposed working with Russia to combat ISIS, and move away from ‘interventions’, i.e. regime change wars.

Having failed in his goal to put Hillary Clinton in the White House, George Soros set out to undermine Donald Trump, by funding enormous protests within the US and around the world.  For many it seemed as though Soros, having been so successful at forced regime change abroad, was going to achieve the same thing in the United States.   The demonstrations were directed squarely at Trump per se –  while also protesting his polices on abortion and immigration they were careful not to address the question of war.

The anti-Trump Women’s March on London was planned to coincide with the equivalent in Washington.  There is no question that Soros was behind the Marches: with one researcher estimating that at least 130 organisations linked to Soros were partners in the Women’s March on Washington. Sponsors of the London March included many organisations known to be funded by Soros, including  Amnesty International, Greenpeace, ActionAid UK and Oxfam, well as Stop the War Coalition.  STW’s Lindsey German was among those leading the March.

The organisers of the London march ‘called on people of all genders to march in London as part of an international day of action in solidarity’.  Although issues like abortion were mentioned, the primary intention of the March was to oppose Trump in principle and support Soros’s interests by attacking Trump’s refugee policy and avoid all reference to war.  The women wore hats or costumes representing vaginas, placards undermined the male sex and children were ruthlessly exploited.

Despite its supposedly feminist orientation, the Washington March was led by ‘civil rights activist’ Linda Sarsour, who has defended sharia law and is an outspoken supporter of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

In 2015 Linda Sarsour founded MPower Change, which claims to be a grass roots Muslim movement, in conjunction with Citizens’ Engagement Laboratory (CEL).  CEL is an Open Society Foundation, which makes George Soros (as Open Society founder) a primary funder of MPower Change.

Corbyn and the Anti-Trump Campaign

Corbyn supporters who loathed the selective morality, exploitation and sheer bad taste of the Women’s March breathed a sigh of relief when Corbyn chose to spend that day far away in Brighton talking about the beleaguered NHS. The relief was premature, as Corbyn subsequently gave his seal of approval to the Women’s March, without qualification, in a most revealing interview with Channel 4.  Corbyn’s wording is totally hostile and condemnatory of Trump, devoid of all concession:

Several of Corbyn’s positions are ones that many decent people would agree with, such as opposition to torture and the right of women to abortions, though they may be less impressed with Corbyn’s confidence that opposition to torture is a British value, given the criticism of British forces in Iraq.

Corbyn is on record as opposing both the TPP and the TTIP , so one might have expected Corbyn to congratulate Trump on his canning of the egregious TPP agreement, but no: instead we get a reference to ‘trade arrangements that are solely beneficial to the US and nobody else’, thereby casting aspersions on all the socialist countries who apply trade restrictions to protect their workers are immoral.  Free trade is another cause that is dear to the heart of George Soros but which is threatened by the rise of Trump:

The TPP and the TTIP do not work in the interest of the nation-state of the USA and the American people, but in the interest of the globalist corporations who were involved in drawing up these agreements and ensuring that Obama and later Clinton who they supported for the White House would carry through their implementation. (Katherine Frisk, Why George Soros Wants To Bring Down Donald Trump)

What is most interesting is what Corbyn didn’t say.  Trump has proposed working with Russia and, at least by implication, Syria, in order to fight terrorist groups in Syria. He has talked of ceasing to fund terrorists, reducing nuclear weapons, and reducing external interventions. Indeed, only a couple of months earlier US Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein had argued that peace was more likely under Trump than under Hillary Clinton (which did not stop her asking for a recount on Clinton’s behalf after the election).   On the other hand Trump attitude to Iran has been hawkish from the beginning.  Corbyn has nothing to say either about the more conciliatory signals coming from Trump or, on the other hand, about Trump’s threats of war and sanctions against Iran, Russia and North Korea.

Iran

Corbyn campaigned heavily against Trump via social and other media in the months after the presidential election.

The primary interest of a statesman in the activities of another country should be directed to that country’s foreign policy, above all vis-a-vis one’s own.  In the linked article, as elsewhere, Corbyn is totally absorbed with US internal affairs and the persona of Trump – there is no mention of war or sanctions.

Regardless of whether Trump meant what he says, or could achieve his goals, and regardless of whatever else he might plan to do, any anti-war activist with an ounce of integrity should have acknowledged the positive implications of his (then) cooperative approach to Russia, and the negative ones of his attitude to Iran.

At a new anti-Trump rally in London, 4 February 2017, in response to Trumps new travel restrictions, a pre-recorded speech relayed Corbyn’s support to the protesters.  Corbyn’s priorities as set out here are not what one would expect from a socialist and an anti-war campaigner. They do however mirror exactly those of Stop the War, the Women’s March, and George Soros, who could have penned the speech himself.

This flabby speech, like that given to Channel 4, stands in stark contrast to the dynamic, fact-filled speeches Corbyn has made in parliament on austerity and the NHS, relying on feel-good cliche and buzz words such as solidarity and hope versus fear, hate and hatred; solidarity is mentioned some eight times.

Once again Corbyn ducks the issue of Trump’s foreign policy and their implications for peace, in the same way as he always ducks the question of British sponsoring of funding of terrorism in Syria. While this may be odd for a supposed anti-war campaigner, it does mean that Corbyn is less vulnerable to the charge of hypocrisy – he was more than happy to meet with Barack Obama in 2016.

Hope and Hate

All Corbyn’s buzz words – hate, hatred, fear, solidarity, hope – are those much loved by the Soros machine.  Just a few days before Corbyn’s anti-Trump speech, Soros himself tweeted a photo of a placard which claimed that ‘hatred’s greatest weapon is complacency’.

Soros in fact funds an organisation called Hope not Hate , which supports Jeremy Corbyn, and been termed a Labour Party front group.  The hope versus hate dichotomy is a favourite with Corbyn:

Hope not Hate is at present suing Nigel Farage, who has accused the organisation of pursuing ‘violent and undemocratic means‘.  It is difficult to investigate the truth of Farage’s allegation, as HNH appear to have deleted all the relevant archives, but others have suggested that Hope not Hate thrives on hate.

The Soros Marches, with all their dishonest feel-good language, are designed, not to promote tolerance and solidarity, but to create resentment and fear in a large sector of the population.  Anyone who supports Brexit, or opposes the war on Syria, or opposes mass migration, or questions received wisdom on issues like 9/11 or vaccination, or is uncomfortable with the idea of grown men being able to use the same toilet as little girls, is deemed to be racist, fascist, a neo-Nazi, hateful.  And should be afraid.

trump-inauguration-protest fascists fear

We now have a situation where threatening the interests of governments, corporations and other powerful bodies is deemed to be ‘far-right’, and the protection of those interests and the aggressive suppression of free speech is ‘liberal’ and ‘left-wing’.  Soros aims, rather than being ‘progressive’, are perfectly in harmony with those of government:

It is difficult to find a cause Soros’ Open Society Institute supports that is not also funded, directed, and backed by the US State Department-funded, Neo-Conservative lined National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and its various subsidiaries including Freedom House, the International Republican Institute (IRI) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI). (Tony Cartalucci, Soros Criminal Conviction Exposes ‘Human Rights’ Scam)

The Complicity of Corbyn Supporters

Corbyn is seen as a return to Labour values and priorities.  His opposition to Tory austerity and defence of the NHS, along with his reputation as an anti-war activist, have huge appeal, so that many see that supporting him is a no-brainer.

The desperation for a ‘real’ Labour government after the years of Tory and Blairite administrations has had the effect of stifling all criticism of Corbyn amongst his supporters.  The campaign against Corbyn by the corporate media was virulent – no-one wanted to give it more fuel.  The outcome has been a deafening silence regarding Corbyn’s position on the UK’s war on Syria in particular.

When Corbyn is criticised for links with the suppposed terrorist organisation Hezbollah, his supporters do not feel that it is for them to point out the very real support he has offered the Muslim Association of Britain.  In Britain’s Real Terror Apologists, Finian Cunningham rightly points out the validity of sympathy with Irish aspirations or support for Hezbollah, and the hypocrisy of the British government given its own record of supporting terrorist groups from Ireland to Asia.  He does not, however, mention Corbyn’s own support for groups aligned with ISIS and al Qaeda via his fundraising for the White Helmets.

Likewise when Corbyn is condemned for not wanting to bomb Syria, genuine anti-war activists are loathe to argue that in fact he is offering the UK government strong support for its intervention in Syria by parroting its lies about Bashar al Assad and the Syrian and Russian forces. Hence we have Alexander Mercouris enthusing post-election about Corbyn’s success in the British election ends Britain’s involvement in regime-change wars, ‘Corbyn has staunchly opposed all the regime change wars – in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria’.

And certainly no-one is talking about Soros.  No-one is mentioning Corbyn’s open support for far too many of the Soros projects, from mass migration to the anti-Trump campaign,  to supporting the Women’s March, and his indirect support for the war on Syria.  No-one is talking about Corbyn’s wholesale adoption of Soros buzz-words.  There is no doubt that Jeremy Corbyn is controlled by Soros.  The only question is whether he knows it.

Those of Corbyn’s supporters on social media who also feel strongly about the UK’s war on Syria have been determined that he should not be held to scrutiny.  They have clearly hoped that ‘blips’ such as his claim about the Syrian government killing more people than ISIS, his support for Jo Cox and thus the White Helmets, and his backing for Soros’s Women’s March, will sink without trace.

As a consequence there has been no pressure on Corbyn to be an effective voice in parliament against the UK’s Middle East ventures.  The only pressure on Corbyn has come from the Israel lobby, Blairite and Conservative opponents, and their friends in the corporate media.

Some months ago I wrote an article about called The Gatekeepers. I proposeds that a  gatekeeper in the context of Syria was one who ostensibly opposed intervention in Syria, while simultaneously facilitating that intervention by keeping faithfully to the Nato narrative on Syria, i.e. the fiction of a popular uprising, moderate rebels and a genocidal dictator. At the same time, gatekeepers endeavour to create an impermeable barrier between the public and the facts about Syria, by blanking all research which questions that narrative.

It is in the nature of politicians to seek moral and intellectual compromise, so it is no surprise that peace specialist Jeremy Corbyn should fit the definition of gatekeeper.  What is more troubling is the role played by pro-Syria activists.  In order not to be seen to be attacking the already beleaguered Corbyn, they have made no attempt to force him to call Boris Johnson out for his support for terrorists in Syria, nor to persuade Corbyn to distance himself from Jo Cox and the White Helmets.  They have, therefore, contributed to the barrier between serious research on Syria and public discourse.

Whether his anti-war devotees have actually done Corbyn any favours is debatable.  If many of them were repelled by the Women’s March, then many less politically engaged voters in the UK will have felt the same way.  Moreover, the links between the UK government, the White Helmets and vicious extremists are becoming harder to deny.  It may well have worked to Labour’s advantage if Corbyn had endeavoured to expose the scam of the White Helmets instead of underwriting it through his excessive support for Jo Cox.

As leader of the opposition, Corbyn has chosen to ignore unpalatable truths about UK interventions abroad.  It would be interesting to see what compromises he is prepared to make should he become prime minister of Great Britain.  Not everyone is optimistic:

Only time will tell whether those of his supporters who oppose UK interventions in the Middle East will continue to give Corbyn a free pass.

See also:

Eva Bartlett, Human Rights Front Groups (Humanitarian Interventionalists) Warring on Syria

Vanessa Beeley, George Soros: Anti-Syria Campaign Impresario

Patrick Henningsen, An Introduction: Smart Power and the Human Rights Industrial Complex

Gilbert Mercier Big Brother George Soros’ Web Is Unraveling  Includes a useful rundown of Soros media assets.

Miri Wood, Slain UK MP ‘Rising Star’ on Wrong Side of Humanity. Another look at Jo Cox.

Wall of Controversy, Astroturfing for Regime Change: Frontline in the (Newest) War on the Antiwar Movement.

The Rebranding of the Anti-Syria Left, part 2: The Gatekeepers

This article is a continuation of The Rebranding of the Anti-Syria Left and endeavours to consider the perceived shift in stance by some of those who have campaigned most vehemently against the Syrian government and in favour of the ‘revolution’, and the implications of this shift.

To recap: Since 2011 researchers and activists have worked tirelessly to investigate and share the facts of the Syrian conflict.   For people taking a serious interest in the conflict the concept of the ‘civil war’ has been long debunked – instead the war has been seen for what it is, a proxy war initiated and fuelled from without, both camouflaged and justified through an extraordinary propaganda campaign . Unsentimental people with no personal interest in Syria now discount the unproven charges against Assad out of hand – after all, why would you believe some lies and not others?

In the meantime the likes of Rania Khalek, Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton have facilitated the war on Syria by using whatever platforms available to them, whether it be published articles, videos or social media. They have furthered the agenda of NATO and its allies by relentlessly vilifying the president of Syria, the Syrian armed forces and the Russian forces, and promoted the bogus concepts of popular revolution and a democratic opposition. At every turn they have underwritten the credibility of corporate media and the most discredited of non-government organisations. They have furthered the cause of forced regime change and external intervention, including actively promoting publications and individuals that support a free-fly zone. They have consciously played a role in the propaganda war on Syria, and therefore must bear some responsibility, if not for the inception of the war, at least for its continuation.

However, in the second half of 2016 there was a shift in approach to the conflict amongst these long-time supporters of the ‘revolution’, consisting in a subtle change in language and increased criticism of the armed extremists, US intervention and the corporate media.  There is less talk of anti-Assad or popular revolutionaries, and more about insurgents, jihadis and collaboration with al Qaeda: ‘The US seems hell bent on turning Syria into a failed state run by war lords’, RK 3/9/16; ‘There are plenty of Syrians opposed to Assad who also despise your Jihadist rebels and what the US has helped them do to Syria’, RK 27/9/16. ‘Syrian anti-government insurgents prevent civilians from leaving eastern Aleppo’ MB 13/9/16; UN’s Staffan de Mistura warns US/Gulf-backed Syrian rebels’ assault on West Aleppo could amount to war crimes, MB 31/10/16; ‘Theo Padno, US journalist kidnapped by al-Nusra, on how US-trained FSA collaborated with Syrian al-Qaeda’, BN 30/8/16.

Max Blumenthal once again plays the ‘Israel’ card, but this time it is applied against the insurgents rather than ‘Assad’:

while Norton no longer defines himself in opposition to ‘Assadistas’ but instead to those promoting a no-fly zone – the ‘pro-NFZ crowd’.

nortonrebranding1

Ben Norton, in particular, has taken care to delete a large number of article and tweets which he now seems to find embarrassing.  Much of this history is recorded in a thread by @nine11inreverse.

In November 2016 Max Blumenthal unexpectedly ‘broke’ the news of Jaish al Islam using caged captives as human shields, a story which had been given wide coverage in corporate and social media a full year earlier.

44cagedprisoners

The fact of Blumenthal deciding to promote a story to the disfavour of the ‘rebels’, 12 months after everyone else, highlights both his disconnect from serious discussion of the Syrian conflict and his change in position.

Thus having for years promoted the NATO narrative about a civil war between an oppressive regime and democratic rebels, all the while being careful not to offend active interventionists, important aspects of the narrative are suddenly being undermined.

Even the credibility of the corporate media, whom Blumenthal and co. have faithfully parroted on Syria, is now in doubt: ‘Compare the coverage of Mosul and East Aleppo and it tells you a lot about the propaganda we consume’ RK 24/10/16; ‘interventionist forces control the narrative on Syria and are immune from scrutiny’ MB 3/10/16.

Rania Khalek, who had not been back in the region for almost a decade, in 28 October began to crowdfund to pay for a trip to Syria and Lebanon, promising scoops and much-needed, apparently, ‘adversarial’ reporting.

Then in September-October Khalek and Blumenthal both published, within a few days of each other, serious research on the Syrian conflict, in each case possibly the first article they have ever written on Syria that does not hang on demonising its president.

People over the years have written about the effect of the sanctions on Syria. Rania Khalek, not having ever before show any such interest, pulled off a coup when the Intercept obtained a copy of the UN report on The Humanitarian Impact of Syria Related Unilateral Restrictive Measures and Khalek was able to publish a related article the same day the Intercept published (the stubs of both articles show 28 September).

A few days later Max Blumenthal published two substantial articles on the activities of organisations such as Avaaz, Purpose and the Syria Campaign, and their use of the White Helmets to push for a no-fly zone in Aleppo: Inside the Shadowy PR Firm That’s Lobbying for Regime Change in Syria and How the White Helmets Became International Heroes whole Pushing Regime Change in Syria.  Articles on Syria have continued to appear, by Benjamin Norton on Bilal Abdul Kareem, an American born-again takfiri well known for his pro-terrorist broadcasts from Aleppo, and Rania Khalek on the support of the western media for terrorist groups in Syria.

Meantime the perceived change of stance has attracted the ire of hardline interventionists, who were used to seeing people like Blumenthal as ‘one of us’, as Anas el Hawat put it.  Blumenthal’s criticism of the Syrian Campaign, slated by  Christina Abraham in an article, In defence of the Syria Campaign attracted particular hostility.

Rania Khalek reported that she had received over a 100 direct messages from Oz Katerji warning her to “change your rhetoric or we will continue to campaign against you (most people would have blocked Katerji long before this point).

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

Given the enormous scale of the propaganda against Syria and in support of the ‘revolutionaries’, no matter how barbaric, people who are prepared to combat that propaganda are sorely needed. Quite understandably, many feel that throwing up their past at a group of people who have ‘seen the light’ and ‘come on board’ is churlish and unhelpful.

However, while the thirdwayers may be abandoning their support for the ‘noble revolutionaries’, and may be selectively questioning Western intervention, a number of things have not changed.  One of the fundamental planks of the NATO narrative,  that of the genocidal Bashar al Assad, is almost unaffected, with Rania Khalek continuing to reinforce the message on twitter, even when criticising the insurgents:

While in Syria recently, Khalek believed she might be a target of the evil Assad regime.

raniakhalek

When this was queried by other journalists who ate at the same table, Khalek deleted the tweet, but did not drop the matter entirely. Other journalists were grateful that Syrian Arab Army and security kept close to them while travelling in Syria, but clearly not Rania Khalek:

raniastilldigging

The police state motif continues when Khalek is interviewed on Secular Talk (full interview here.

Ranis Khalek may be prepared to question the support given to al Qaeda in Syria by Western media, as in her recent article, but at the same time she promotes the assumptions about Syria that underpin the debate within the corporate media.

‘The Syrian government—a dictatorship known for imprisoning, torturing and disappearing dissidents—is easy to vilify. And over the last five years of Syria’s civil war, it has committed its share of atrocities.’

Paralleling the continued assumption of Assad culpability is the ongoing determination not to be seen as ‘Assad apologists’, which is reaffirmed repeatedly, especially on Twitter.

Some of the issues surrounded this rebranding are exemplified by the reception given to Blumenthal’s articles on Avaaz, and the White Helmets, which evoked praise in some quarters but were met with with reservation, surprise or criticism elsewhere.  Researchers like Vanessa Beeley and Corey Morningstar have over the years carried out extensive work on the White Helmets and Avaaz, respectively, much used but usually credited. It came as a surprise to many, therefore, when, Max Blumenthal suddenly produced articles which made extensive use of the work of such people, without crediting them.

In the case of the White Helmets Blumenthal’s material is thin and he has watered down the conclusions considerably. Blumenthal had gone for what might be termed a limited hangout by assuming that the White Helmets are a bona fide humanitarian organisation exploited for PR purposes by the Syria Campaign – according to Blumenthal the Syrian Campaign is ‘partnering with local groups like the Syrian civil defense workers popularly known as the White Helmets’. He is therefore choosing to ignore the implications of the fact of White Helmets being  founded by one James le Mesurier, ex-British army, ex-Foreign Office.

Vanessa Beeley, who has also written about the real Syrian Civil Defence, responded to Blumenthal, highlighting both the U-turn and the  weaknesses of Blumenthal’s report (twitter thread here) .

1.am confused, why do you now write about White Helmets after others have exposed them, no suppot fm u?
2. Why U turn after years attacking other Syria analysts and celebrating @MotherAgnesMari not speaking
3. Why not mention UK FO involvement as primary funder not US?
4. White Helmets are “local civil defence” groups. Why no mention of real Syria Civil Defence?
5. In Part II White Helmets rescue civilians? Russia and Syria are bombing civilians? What are you saying?
6. White Helmets are embedded in Nusra/ISIS areas. Why no mention?

Syria and the Left

On 1 November 2016 Blumenthal appeared in a debate that took place in New York,topic Syria and the Left, organised by Muftah Magazine and Verso Books.

The guests were all proponents of the revolution, the chief point of difference between them being the extent to which they favoured external intervention. Thus a number of assumptions were made by participants which went unchallenged: there was a popular and initially peaceful uprising, the majority of deaths are due to the Syrian government forces, Syrian and Russia are committing massive war crimes, the White Helmets are without doubt heroes (rather than frauds). The highly questionable ‘Russian strike on a school in Idlib’, which supposedly happened in October was mentioned twice without objection.

Sceptics of the NATO narrative would have queried all of these assumptions, but there was not a single person there interested in putting the viewpoint of the Syrian government, or in suggesting that the Syrian government was supported by the majority of the Syrian people, who have always been opposed to the ‘revolution’. There was no  acknowledgement of the research supporting alternative points of view, and certainly not of the people carrying out such research.

Any disagreement that Blumenthal had with other members of the panel was concerned with strategy, and not at all with fact. He was against war, and against anything that could lead to escalation, but his language assumes government culpability and the desirability of a successful outcome for the revolution. Thus,  ‘weaponising a civil uprising and handing it over to a militarised strategy has legitimised everything Bashar al Assad wants to happen with his war on terror narrative’.   ‘Twice he refers to ‘Bashar al Assad using east Aleppo as a “kill box”‘.  ‘We have a duty to stop the escalation that encourages the massive crimes that we all know are committed by Russia and the Syrian government.  […] Most deaths are caused by Syrian government.  […] I agree that what Russia has done is  criminal, what Syria has done criminal, I agree with Staffan de Mistura that Russian and Syria should stop bombing east Aleppo and that al Qaeda should leave.’

There are still, it would seem, moderate rebels:  ‘There are genuine revolutionaries in Idlib and east Aleppo, who are trying to run radio stations like Radio fresh, and lawyers who are involved in civil activism who have been crushed not only by Syrian govt but by al Qaeda’.  What’s needed is ‘legitimate activists to return to the forefront. […] A great idea, and I think Murtaza is thinking similarly, is promoting local ceasefires.  That can be done by incentivising peace, by incentivising people who have been involved in violence, including rebel commanders who do have credibility on the ground to put down their weapons …’

‘Filling the Void’

When criticised for his writing on the Syria Campaign, during the Syria and the Left debate Blumenthal, who had spent a lot of time agreeing with the others, was stung to reply:

If you don’t like my reporting, there are dozens and dozens and dozens of other pieces by other journalists who are spoon-fed PR by the Syria Campaign and all of these pieces about the White Helmets  look alike and they’re hailing them as heroes, the people on the ground who are rescuing children and yes they’re heroic, but I am trying to fill the void and inform you about the campaign that is insidiously cultivating military escalation, and I’m not going to be spoon-fed public relations by anyone.

In view of the high-calibre work on the Syria Campaign carried out by respected journalists like Beeley and Eva Bartlett, which is shared and promoted by thousands of people who oppose the war on Syria, Blumenthal’s claim that he is filling is a void in the research is startling to say the least.

The theme of a gap in research only now being filled by Blumenthal had already been broached by his article on the White Helmets:

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.

This is a deliberate attempt to belittle the status of people like Vanessa Beeley, whose work on  Syria is highly regarded and shared daily by thousands, and who has spoken to the United Nations on Saudi war crimes in Yemen.  A few days after Blumenthal published his article, Beeley, Eva Bartlett and Patrick Henningsen appeared on an edition of RT’s Crosstalk entitled ‘White Helmets, Really?’.  All three journalists have appeared numerous times on television and radio speaking about Syria and other issues, and their work is blogged and reblogged, sometimes by the same websites that publish Blumenthal’s own work.

There is a concerted campaign by representatives of the anti-Syria left to deny the existence of huge body of important research into the Syrian war, to marginalise the people that carry out this research, and to create a totally false perception that the essential dichotomy with regard to Syria is between Blumenthal and co. on the one hand, and people of a very similar persuasion on the other.

Two articles from the latter part of 2016, theoretically on different sides of this new divide, work very hard to enforce this perception, .  The title of Seth Frantzman’s piece is self-explanatory: Moral Barometer: How Syria Conflict Divided the Left Pro-Palestinian Voices and Exposed a Murderous Support for Assad

Now there is a full-fledged and visceral debate online among writers, journalists and activists.  On one side those such as Katerji have castigated a coterie of writers with similar views as Abunimah, such as Max Bumenthal, Rania Khalek and Benjamin Norton. […] many expressed shock at the degree to which their supposed ideological friends were wrong about the Assad regime, apologizing for its atrocities.

Fredrik deBoer on the other hand, in his article 1953—2002—2016: Syria and the Reemergence of McCarthyism, sees the newly rebranded third wayers as heroes: ‘Few have been the subject of more brutal smears than American journalists Max Blumenthal and Rania Khalek.’

‘Blumenthal and Khalek are, in a sense, political orphans: left-wing, disdainful of Democrats, not associated with deep-pocketed publications, and fiercely independent. They are thus vulnerable, and precisely the kind of voices we should be protecting, if we want to preserve an adversarial, questioning, critical press.’

The thirdwayers, too, like to project themselvs as heroes demonstrating enormous courage in the face of great odds:

DeBoer’s article is a determined promotion of the thirdway philososophy and its adherents, and his  views on Syria are almost identical to those of Blumenthal, ‘There is no doubt that a large portion of the Syrian public rejects Assad, who share my own conviction that Assad must go….  I think he’s a monster.’

There is considerable consensus between  the authors of these two articles and with the position of Blumenthal and co.  There is no essential disagreement over the nature of the Syrian conflict, or the fundamental desires and needs of the Syrian people.  There is no acknowledgement that serious research disagrees with their view of the facts.  Those who disagree with their viewpoint are explained away as being pro-Assad, and irrelevant. To this end, deBoer stated:

Are there in fact pro-Assad leftists? Sure. [..] What matters is not the existence of a pro-Assad left but the influence of the pro-Assad left. I would personally assign the power of that group at exactly zero.

Louis Allday’s article, Controlling the Narrative on Syria, likewise reinforces the false dichotomy and inflates the contribution by Blumenthal and Khalek. It is notable that while Allday does not vilify Bashar al Assad, he does leap to defend Blumenthal’s claim to being anti-Assad: ‘Indeed, in 2012 Blumenthal resigned in very public fashion from the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar, citing its purportedly pro-Assad editorial stance’, thus appearing to concur that to be called pro-Assad is indeed libelous.

Follow the Money: Soros and Alternet

In a comment to the Syria and the Left debate, Nakle Awad asked:

nakleawadsorossyriaandleft2

George Soros is well known as a sponsor, via his organisation Open Society, of a large number of NGOs, both major and very obscure, which all campaign actively against the Syrian government and in favour of a no-fly zone. Open Society also  funds the news outlet Alternet.

Max Blumenthal is a senior editor with Alternet’s Grayzone Project . According to its facebook page , the Grayzone Project is all about confronting Islamophobia, and exposing bigotry. The name is a curious choice, as it evokes nothing so much as the idea of
gray, white and black propaganda (white propaganda being the most truthful, with a fine line between gray and black).

In the past Alternet’s principal contribution to the Syria debate has been to publish hand-wringing articles about US intervention, without offering anything groundbreaking or courageous.  Alternet publishes articles by both Ben Norton and Rania Khalek, including their most recent.

Another Alternet contributor is David Swanson, who is also theoretically anti-war and anti-imperialist, while at the same time promoting the NATO narrative in terms of Russian and Syrian war crimes, and likewise never addressing the question of evidence.  His article How to Get Yourself Named Pro-Assad in which he mourns the burdens of being slandered as an ‘Assad supporter’, but has nothing to say about the untruths about Syria contained in the article he is addressing, certainly mimics the concerns of Blumenthal, Norton and Khalek.  Given that he had previously published (on Alternet) an article entitled The U.S. Has Been Pushing to Overthrow Assad in Syria for 10 Years, one might have expected him to take issue with, for example, claims of an initially peaceful uprising, but this was not his priority.

The connection between Alternet and Snopes, should not be overlooked.  Snopes is supposedly a fact-checking site that exposes fake news, though questions have been asked about its credentials, journalistic rigor and impartiality.  As with other sites focused on ‘fake news’, the corporate media is the benchmark for credibility.  In  Snopes Exposed: a Look at the Fake News Industry Vaccine Impact observed: ‘It can probably be accurately stated that Snopes upholds the mainstream media propaganda, while attacking anything in the alternative media’.

Independent journalist Bethania Palma Markus writes for both Alternet and Snopes, producing for the latter in December 2016 a rather flimsy article attacking the credibility of article written by Vanessa Beeley and published by 21st Century Wire.  Despite the enormous amount of photographic and video evidence to the contrary, Markus bizarrely concludes:  ‘Whatever their motives may be, we found no credible evidence that the White Helmets are linked to terrorist organizations‘.

Controlling the Narrative

Given the co-ordinated and limited nature of their ‘conversion’, the relentless and unwarranted self-promotion, the close links with proponents of a no-fly zone in Syria and the refusal to acknowledge the work of other people in the Syrian field, the view that people like Blumenthal and co. have ‘come on board’ the struggle for truth with regard to the Syrian conflict seems most optimistic.

What is far more probable is that there is a concerted campaign, sponsored by George Soros, to  control the narrative on Syria. This is to be achieved by  Blumenthal, Norton, Khalek and others moving closer to an anti-imperialist position, in order to create a false dichotomy within the forces opposed to Syrian independence.  This false dichotomy will be used to promote people who are hostile to the Syrian government and the interests of the Syrian people as the pro-Syrian voice in the Syria debate.  The goal is that Blumenthal and co. are in a position to dominate and weaken the discussion on Syria, and deflect attention from serious research which questions the fundamentals of Western propaganda.

There will be strategic concessions in the form of acknowledgement of ‘rebel’ atrocities and US intervention, while myths that facilitate intervention, such that of a popular uprising, the existence of moderate rebels and genocidal tendencies on the part of ‘Assad and Russia’ will be protected. Important questions relating, for example, to the propaganda campaign against Syria, including the role of the British Foreign Office and the true function of the White Helmets and Bana of Aleppo, will continue to be obfuscated.

The alternative media will give the thirdwayers a platform and permit them to regurgitate the research of others, enabling them to package as their own revelations that others made long ago.  Genuine researchers and genuine opponents to the war will be marginalised by being  ignored or discredited by the ‘alternative’ and mainstream media.  Blumenthal, Norton and Khalek will not risk debating serious researchers directly: that will be left to questionable organisations like Snopes and Bellingcat.  There will be a determined effort to erase a whole body of research that questions the NATO narrative on Syria.

There has been a disturbing increase in references to Iran on social media, e.g. the hashtags #IranArabSpring #FreeIran. There is a sense of impatience, as if events are falling behind schedule (see Wesley Clark).  The role of the thirdwayers, should there be a colour revolution in Iran, remains to be seen, but having now adopted the role of anti-imperialists, they will be in a better position to claim Iran as a genuine revolution, or to push for external intervention before the ‘revolution’ is taken over by jihadists.

The role of gatekeepers is a controversial matter, with some maintaining that their contribution outweighs any negative consequences.  However those who are seriously concerned for the future of Syria and the greater Middle East should think carefully before conceding too much ground to the ‘gray zone’.

 

Acknowledgements: a group of activists endowed with long memories and natural scepticism have been rigorously monitoring the apparent U-turn taken by Blumenthal, Norton and Khalek, and have also archived relevant material.  They include @cossa68, @ChrisRulon, @nine11inreverse and @Navsteva.

Bana of Aleppo: the Story So Far [updated 6 December]

Back in 2011 there was the Gay Girl of Damascus, supposedly a young lesbian blogging from the Syrian capital in support of the Arab Spring, but who turned out to be a 40 year old man from Georgia, USA, living in Scotland.  Now, five years on, we have @AlabedBana tweeting from Aleppo.

The Bana story all began in September of 2016 when 7 year old Bana began to tweet from eastern Aleppo to share with the world her anxiety about living in a war-torn city. It is perhaps a sad reflection of the world we live in that her arrival on the social media scene provoked a certain amount of scepticism, hilarity even. It seems only fair to endeavour to consider the Bana case objectively.

Bana, as we are told, lives with her parents and two brothers in Aleppo. Her mother Fatemah is a teacher who ‘manages Bana’s Twitter account’ and occasionally tweets herself, and her father Ghassan works in the ‘legal department of the local council’, whatever that means – the area is totally controlled by al Nusra who have set up their own council:

BarbaraSyriaEssentialsAleppoCouncilbetter.PNG

Bana’s first tweet was heartwrenching:

i-need-peace

Bana’s sole purpose in tweeting is to tell us about the bombing of Aleppo by Putin and Assad, and to ask us to do something about it (Bana herself has lost one or two friends to the bombing, though we never learn their names).  The tweets are almost invariably variations on the themes of bombs, the need for peace, pray for us, save us.

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Bana is desperate enough even to suggest it is worth declaring World War III, just to save Aleppo.

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There are also calls for Assad and Putin to be tried for war crimes:

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Wee Bana hit the ground running on 24 September with about 20 tweets,  and has continued at a good rate ever since, managing over 120 on 4 October (including retweets).   I myself used Twitter for weeks before I used hashtags and I was slow to learn the jargon.  Bana, however, was up to speed from the beginning, and over the first two days we got #Aleppo, #HolocaustAleppo #MassacreInAleppo #StopAleppoMassacre.  She is well up on acronyms like POTUS and OMG.   Followers were impressed with Bana’s command of English idiom:

happiestpersoninworlds8oct

dying-like-flies
im-very-afraid

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To have mastered English contractions like ‘I’ll’ and idiomatic expressions such as ‘horrible dream’ at the age of seven puts Bana in the genius category. The problem is, when cute Bana was videoed, it became apparent that she wasn’t a child prodigy at all, in fact she couldn’t put two words of English together if not rote-learned. It was clear that whoever wrote the tweets was nothing to do with the small actor reciting, eg. on her 1st day of tweeting (yes, the video was all set to go too): pic.twitter.com/yeTjREZW 

She was slightly more practiced by 6 October:

29 October was another disaster:  pic.twitter.com/45GNr4U40x

One sharp-eyed fan was very impressed with the new clothes sported by Bana and her brothers in the above clip (thank you Vivienne@KitchandBot):

new clothes.PNG

Bana has a friend, Abdulkafi Alhamdo, who has described himself variously as a teacher at Aleppo University, a reporter, and activist.  It is possible that he helps with the technical aspects of running the Twitter account, such as videoing and either uploading or passing them on, and maybe language coaching.

Mr alHamdo.PNG

He himself has both Twitter and Facebook accounts .  Most of his friends are located in Aleppo; many of these, if not all, are members of terrorist groups:

alhamdofriend

Alhamdo ostensibly resides in Aleppo, along with Bana.  However another possibility is Gazientep over the border in Turkey, which is a base for a number of Western-backed NGOs and journalists.  A number of Kurdish cities and towns in South-East Turkey such as Mardin and Diyarbakir have been badly shelled by the Turks  and might provide the necessary apocalyptic scenes, for both Bana and journalists claiming to report from eastern Aleppo.  Thus Alhamdo and Bana could be in South-Eastern Turkey, safe both from bombs and exposure.

Bana’s ‘father’ ‘Ghassan Alabed’ has his own Twitter account, @ghassanalabed77 which was opened in September, coinciding with the launching of the Bana Project (thank you @Qoppa999), and Facebook page, with visible posts from 6 October 2016, so again probably opened for the project.   There is no evidence that Bana and Ghassan have met as Ghassan does not feature in Bana’s tweets and videos.  I previously suggested, incorrectly, that Ghassan was attributing the wrong name to Bana, Zahra, but that was due to Facebook showing only a bad machine translation for that post from Arabic, and not the Arabic original – it would seem that Ghassan does not know English.

Ghassan has close links with Aleppo and the terrorist groups that have been occupying eastern Aleppo. On 29 April  he changed his Facebook cover photo to ‘Aleppo is Burning’, which was a campaign originating in the Western to call for even more intervention on the part of the West, in order to prevent Syria and Russia driving terrorists out of eastern Aleppo.  Both on Facebook and on Twitter Ghassan follows a large number of accounts associated with the insurgency in Syria, such as that of al Zinki, the gang that cut off the head of little Abdullah Issa, Jaish al Mujahadeen (a group that describes itself as part of the Free Syrian Army but is allied to al Nusra), and also of the Saudi cleric Muhaysini, spiritual leader of al Nusra (al Qaeda in Syria).

twitterfollowsmuhaysini

In October Bana, or rather Bana’s mother, was  interviewed by one  AJ Joshi (@AJ) via Periscope. The interview makes for painful listening, but @JohnDelacour has provided a transcription of a typical segment – it is hard to believe that Fatemah has the language skills to compose either her own or Bana’s tweets.

ajinterview

In mid-November Fatemah uploaded onto Youtube a strange video which purports to prove that Bana’s family really are being bombed.  Fatemah talks and there are the sounds of children, but no attempt to show any of these people.  We see ruined buildings and smoke in the distance, which could come from bombing, but not the promised airplanes.  There is absolutely no reason to believe that this is not footage with a completely separate voice-over added later.

After three weeks Bana was following 51 people.  None of them would be an obvious pick for a seven year old girl: without exception they were politicians, corporate media or social media activists.  Most of them could be considered sympathetic to the war on Syria; many of them have strong links with terrorist groups.    Iyad el-Baghdadi, Louisa Loveluck,  Julian Roepcke, Sophie McNeill, all determined supporters of the Syrian ‘revolution’, are very familiar to pro-Syria activists who spend any time on social media.  Bana is also following the pro-terrorist National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces, as well as the White Helmets, the fake humanitarian organisation that presently has a petition calling for a no-fly (i.e. NATO bombing) zone in Syria.  A particularly sinister choice is @IranArabSpring, which is focused on regime change in Iran, presumably by the same bloody route laid down for Syria.

One of the first to be followed by Bana, and typical, was the Australian journalist Sophie McNeill who was instrumental in promoting the Madaya hoax/beatup in January 2016.  The story went that inhabitants of Madaya, a town besieged by the government, were starving and that it was all the fault of the Syrian government who were preventing aid from reaching the town.  In fact many if not all the photos were fake, aid for three months had gone into Madaya in October, and the chief problem was terrorists selling food at exorbitant prices.  Many others followed by Bana are likewise involved in pushing misinformation on the Syrian war.

Bana built up a huge following within days, reaching 65,000 by 3 October.  A large proportion of the followers appeared to be fake accounts, which again suggests that very savvy people are managing the project. (Screenshot from @laissezfaire; it cannot be verified because of dramatic changes to the account, see below.)

Regardless of the discrepancies and warning signals, the corporate media have taken Bana to their hearts, without exception, with poignant articles free of all doubt appearing in the Telegraph, the Guardian, and on all the main television channels.   The New Statesman went on the attack against the many people who have made fun of the account.

The latest endorsement has come from author JK Rowling, famous author of the Harry Potter series, who sent Bana a set of ebooks (in English), and has retweeted her several times in the days since then:

rowlingbana

Would-be trolls of the Bana account should note too that in October Bana was one of the 2210 people followed by @Jack, i.e. Jack Dorsey, founder and CEO of Twitter.

jackfollowsbana

 Who’s tweeting?

Given the calculated nature of the operation, and the standard of the English, many Bana-watchers have assumed that while Bana and her mother may have direct help with videoing and the English in Aleppo or Gaziantep, the base of operations and the source of the tweeting would be elsewhere.  London tends to be first choice, partly because of the language used, and perhaps also because the Foreign Office is the primary funder and probable instigator of the White Helmets.  As yet there is no definitive evidence of who ‘Mr Bana’ is, but one can hypothesise.  For example:

Although there appears to be no direct link between Bana’s ‘father’ Ghassan Alabed, and Bana’s friend Abdulkafi Alhamdo, they do however, have a mutual acquaintance,  BBC journalist Patrick Evans.  Alhamdo features in an article on Aleppo by Evans (the article presents the viewpoints of people who are supposed to be representative of eastern Aleppo, but who are in fact all terrorists or terrorist supporters).  Evan’s describes himself as a BBC journalist; as well as the Aleppo article he has written an article on the Donbass, similar to the Aleppo article in that it is likewise hostile to those allied with Russia .

Patrick Evans is also one of a small number of English speakers who are friends with Ghassan Alabed on Facebook.

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Evans’s own Facebook page is significant in that all except about eight of his 54 ‘friends’ have Arabic names. Most of these do not appear to speak English; most have manifest links with Aleppo and/or terrorism.

friendsa

The person pictured above describes himself as a mujahid, or jihadi, in the service of God, based in Aleppo; the Syrian Revolution Network is an ‘activist network’ focused on Aleppo.

Evans’s LinkedIn profile is even more interesting.   He has worked for the BBC since finishing studies at the University of York in 2013, which could put him in the mid-twenties (consistent with the rather immature prank of putting in Bana’s mouth the call for World War III).   His skills as listed on LinkedIin are not necessarily what one would expect from a BBC journalist: while writing and investigative skills are not mentioned, social media skills are right up there.

linkedinskills

Although  most of Evans’s Facebook friends are Arabic speakers, no skill for Arabic language is listed on LinkedIn.  Moreover, these Arabic speaking Facebook friends hardly feature in Patrick Evans’s Twitter feed; Evans follows very few Arabs on twitter, none non-English speaking, and the tweets relating to Syria are sufficient to reflect the times and his profession, no more.  Whether Evans truly has no knowledge of Arabic, or whether it is a skill he chooses to suppress, it is not possible to decide on the information to hand.

Patrick Evans’s tweets are heterogeneous and mainly retweets, and are largely devoid of emotion and humour, all of which give the account an artificial feel.  Evans seems to be a fan of JK Rowling, following an account called @HogwartsLogic, and also follows Sophie McNeill.  There are a couple of retweets from Abdulkafi Alhamdo, alhamdo14nov

and from Rami Jarrah, a pro-insurgency activist, journalist and film maker of Syrian parentage, along with tweets relating to Evans’s article on Aleppo.  There is also this tweet from Evans to Rami Jarrah:

ramijarra

The Patrick Evans of the Facebook page seems completely divorced from the Patrick Evans of Twitter.  There is, however, one essential connecting factor between the Facebook and the Twitter accounts: Abdulkafi Alhamdo.  As well as featuring at least twice in Evans’s twitter feed in November, he is Evans’s Facebook friend.

So we have:

  • a young man in London, Patrick Evans,who works for the BBC, and who
  • provides a link between Ghassan Alabed, Bana’s ostensible father and Alhamdo, known acquaintance of Bana.
  • Alhamdo in turn provides the link between Evans’s Twitter account and his Facebook account.
  • Although this is not evident to anyone who looks at Evans’s tweeting,  his greatest professional skill according to LinkedIn is a knowledge of social media
  • Evans appears to have two different persona, his Facebook one, where almost all his friends are Arabic-speaking terrorist supporters, probably terrorists themselves, and Twitter, where the people he follows are English-speaking and tend to be from the Western media, and it it is difficult to gauge any strong interests, particularly political ones, apart from a conservative bent.
  • Patrick Evans wanted to speak privately with Rami Jarrah, well-known pro-terrorist activist and media expert, based in Turkey, six weeks before the Bana Project was launched on 14 September.

‘Bana’ could well be a person, or people, like Patrick Evans.

The agenda

There can be no doubt that the Bana project is a  hoax, like the Gay Girl in Damascus and the White Helmets.  The tweets are not the thoughts of a little Syrian girl wanting the world to save her from Russian bombs.  Rather, they are the product of a sophisticated and well-planned operation designed to shape public perception of the Syrian and Russian operations, in order to justify Western intervention in Syria and facilitate regime change.

The sympathies of the Bana project are totally with the extremists who are terrorising residents of eastern Aleppo, shelling western Aleppo, and are in imminent danger of being forced out by the Syrian Arab Army and allies like Hezbollah and the Palestinian Al Quds brigade.

From the first days Bana accused Assad and Putin of perpetrating a holocaust, a massacre, of carrying out a bombing campaign using cluster bombs, phosphorus, thermite bombs, and of course barrel bombs.  Since then the account has continued the theme of bombing and Assad/Putin culpability, along with constant calls for the world to do something, ‘to stop the bombing’.

fatemahbombs

No mention is ever made of the terrorists who mow down demonstrators in the streets of eastern Aleppo and prevent humanitarian aid reaching the area.  Bana’s family may be in a position to repeat the dubious claim that Russia bombed a school in Idlib, but shows no interest in the atrocities caused by hellfire cannon directed by terrorists at western Aleppo.  When young swimmer Mireille Hindoyan was killed by a terrorist shell in the Armenian quarter in western Aleppo,  the Bana project, along with the Independent, smoothly implied that this was due to Russian bombing.

mireille.PNG

The purpose of the Bana Project is to create in the outside world a conviction that Russia and Syria are committing serious war crimes by recklessly or even deliberately bombing civilians, hospitals, schools, blood banks and animal shelters.

Persuading the world that atrocities are being committed could lead to one of two outcomes.  As with Madaya, there is pressure on Syria and Russia to abandon the siege and any hope of liberating Aleppo, east and west, from terrorist depredations.  Syria and its allies would be circumscribed, at worst the terrorists would be allowed to make gains, and at the least there would be a stalemate, facilitating eventual partition.   The other desired outcome,  first preference for many since early in the war, is to garner support for a no-fly zone.  Russia and China have so far vetoed any UN resolution to that effect, having seen how the resolution was applied to Libya.

russianoflyzonelibya

The US, however, have recently  passed a resolution that calls for evaluating and developing plans for the United States to impose a “no fly zone” inside Syria unilaterally, despite the inevitability of a clash with Russia.  Whether it is prepared to take this step, or whether it can act before Aleppo is completely liberated, remains to be seen.

Is the end nigh for Bana?

Things are now moving fast in Aleppo, with the Syrian Arab Army, Hezbollah and the Palestinian-Syrian al Quds Brigade taking new areas of Aleppo on a daily basis.  Bana has been sending out desperate warnings of impending doom with one last tweet from Fatemah:

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and then another from ‘Bana’ at 3am:

ahousebombed3

It is somewhat surprising that while 7.8 thousand people had retweeted the above when I viewed it, of the dozen or so people who commented the majority were people who ridiculed the tweet, a few more were clearly activists or trolls, and only one or two were in the ‘kind-hearted stranger’ category.  How many genuine followers Bana actually has is therefore in serious doubt.

There has been speculation that Bana is about to be written out, however at 10.00am Syrian time, 28 November, she was alive and still tweeting…

banastillok

Update (6 December 2016)

Bana survived the bombardment and continued to tweet, but complained of being homeless, thirsty, and ill.

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There are repeated calls for the world to do something:

1decpotus2decappealtowrold

On 3 December it really did seem that the end had come:

Dec3Deadhebe.PNG

But no:

Dec3Alive.PNG

Clearly a better choice would have been a miraculous recovery, rather than a line about being confused about which child died.  The interpretation from @HKX07 is fairly persuasive:

dec3heba

Within 24 hours there was a further development: the @alabedbana account was shut down.  Whether this is a permanent state of affairs, or whether Bana will reappear, perhaps in Idlib, even Raqqa, time will tell.

Stop Press:  Bana has reactivated her account, and is monitoring it closely for trolls, blocking critics on a daily basis.

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