Salute to the Alexandrov Ensemble

The devastating loss of 64 choristers, orchestra members and dancers from the Alexandrov Ensemble as well as 9 journalists in a tragic plane crash over the Black Sea reverberates its shock back to my early years. The first time I heard the Internationale, it was sung by the Red Army Choir, the precursor of the Alexandrov Ensemble, on a record of my dad’s. Being a bass singer and chorister himself, my father found the rich timbre and brilliance of the Red Army Choir irresistible.

As a confirmed voter for the Australian Labor Party whom Lenin had described accurately and disparagingly in 1913 as “a liberal-bourgeois party”, my father would not have appreciated perhaps the sentiments expressed in the USSR official anthem, though he loved the passionate Slavic feel of the music. Few things would bring a tear to his stolid Scottish eye, yet this rendition was one.

Somewhere packed away, this record still survives, along with those he brought back from South Africa during the apartheid years, like “Wait a Minim!

Here’s the Red Army Choir in 1993 with the Leningrad Cowboys in Helsinki performing Rolling Stones and many other covers.

And more recently, the Alexandrov Ensemble perform a “heppy” version of “Happy”!

Predictably, bloodthirsty apologists for AQ/Nusra/JFS and affiliates (who in concert with depraved patriarchal oppression of women regard music as “wicked and immoral“) and other obfuscators of US/GCC/NATO contras’ belligerence gloat at the deaths of Russia’s iconic musos.

The enemies of music are enemies of their own humanity.

Mostafa Mahamed AKA Abu Sulayman, Australian Terrorist Mercenary in Aleppo

The rebranding of JFS (Jabhat Fateh al-Sham)/Nusra/AQ is purely cosmetic and strategic, enabling opportunistic calls for “unity” in East Aleppo, occupied by these AQ largely foreign mercenaries in a “death before surrender” stand at the expense of around 300,000 civilians who remain there.

On the propagandist Facebook wall of Australian number one terrorist Shaykh Mostafa Mahamed aka Abu Sulayman, his current slick spiel is delivered by his student acolytes. He/they can also be found at present slogannising on multiple twitter accounts* in his name and for the JFS in several languages for “unity”. Significantly, main leader of the “rebel” Aleppo team is Sheikh Muhaysini, who “is ready to announce all factions must unite.” ‘I’ve described him as “pro-Al Qaeda” since 2014.says analyst Thomas Joscelyn.

On a US kill list, Sulayman, AQ/JFS/Nusra’s head propagandist in Aleppo, announced the fake split of the rebranded Nusra under the banner of JFS from AQ about 3 weeks ago on CNN and Skynews. Notably Sulayman broadcast Zenki promoter Rslan’s recent rebel propaganda which went mainstream before the Syria Campaign. Bin Laden was never so fortunate to have the mainstream global media whitewashing his agitprop and facilitating the viralisation of toxic AQ ideology.

This JFS split from AQ is fictitious. AQ is a franchise.

‘The split between Al-Qaeda and Jabhat al-Nusra is part of the competition between Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri on the future and the leadership of the global jihad. It reflects a decentralized strategy of AQ’s central leadership.’

As Joscelyn observes:

‘Al Qaeda’s branches technically owe their loyalty to Mullah Haibatullah as well.

In al Qaeda’s hierarchy, the regional branches — AQAP, AQIM, al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), Shabaab in Somalia and Al Nusrah Front — swear allegiance to Zawahiri. These groups are then responsible for waging jihad in their designated regions on behalf of al Qaeda. (Al Nusrah Front recently rebranded itself as Jabhat Fateh al Sham, or the “Conquest of the Levant Front.” The move was directed by al Qaeda’s senior leadership.)

Therefore, al Qaeda’s regional branches are loyal to the Taliban’s emir by virtue of their bay’ah (allegiance) to Zawahiri.’

Who is Sulayman?

Born in 1984, Mostafa Farag aka Mostafa Mahamed aka Abu Sulayman arrived in Australia with his family from Egypt in 1985, gaining Australian citizenship. He is said to have a Masters in education from Sydney University and was founder and director of Bankstown Arabic school Knowledge House.

In 2012, Sulayman was the founder of the Sydney childcare network which has defrauded the Australian taxpayer of $27 million. Yet ASIO knew he had extremist connections since around 2003? this staggers belief.

2012 was also the year Sulayman decamped from Australia to Syria where he was quickly shuffled up the Nusra/AQ food chain to his present position of lead propagandist. Initially he was responsible for an attempt to reconcile Nusra with ISIS, which failed.

‘As a result of ISIS’ effective online attacks, Al Nusrah has been forced to expose the identities of some of its most seasoned personnel, some of whom were dispatched to Syria by al Qaeda’s senior leadership. While previous reports identified Abu Sulayman as an Al Nusrah Front official in Raqqah province who was expelled by ISIS, little was known about his role in al Qaeda’s mediation efforts.

Abu Sulayman does not hide his allegiance to al Qaeda. On his own Twitter feed, which currently has nearly 7,000 followers, Abu Sulayman decribes himself as a member of “Al Qaeda in the Levant.”’

In 2015, the Murdoch press amplified and sanitised Sulayman’s rhetoric, indulging in another bout of promotion on July 15 this year.

“(The) terms of the Joint Implementation Group state that the areas which US and Russia will target are basically everywhere Assad isn’t,” Mahamed said in a Twitter post yesterday.

“Destroying JN (al-Nusra) would mean carpet bombs, genocide and wiping out whole communities.

“JN has become an inseparable part of Syria.

“JN are too deeply rooted into society to be exterminated as per US/Russian plans.”

At present Sulayman uses @LiveUpdateSyria war porn to bignote JFS revenge actions.

Why is all this information important? because there is a lack of understanding about the constituency and goals of “rebel” forces in Syria and their role in destabilisation serving long-standing US policy tilting at Syria, along with paid and unpaid “rebel supporter” pressure for US intervention via no fly zones in Syria. From the US State Department 18/8/16 daily briefing:

QUESTION: Just a quick follow-up on Afghanistan. People of Afghanistan, the last 93 years, they have gone ups and downs from one regime to another. Now in the last 30 years, they were freed by the U.S. from the Soviet occupation, and now they are under the occupation of Taliban and al-Qaida. And what they’re asking is if and when are they going to be free from these terrorists.

QUESTION: That’s my second question.

MR KIRBY: (Laughter.) I mean, Goyal, I can’t possibly put a date certain on the elimination of the terrorist threat in Afghanistan. And Afghanistan, as we talked about at the opening, isn’t – I mentioned Turkey – isn’t the only country that continues to face a very real threat from terrorism, and we know that groups like Daesh are trying to expand their influence there. And we know that not every member of the Taliban has and is willing to embrace the political process moving forward. That’s why it’s important that the United States continue to make clear our intention and our support of a strong, sovereign, secure, stable Afghanistan.

From Vietnam, to Honduras, Grenada, Columbia, Chile, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and countless more US interventions, we need to remember and learn from history when the US targets countries in the name of “democracy” and “humanitarianism” it’s out of the frying pan and into the fire.

UPDATE

The Intercept provides yet another platform for Sulayman’s JFS sanitisation, erasure of his initial task in Syria to resolve differences with ISIS and concealment of the falsity of the “split” with AQ. Shame they didn’t ask him about the disappeared $27 million of Australian taxpayer money.

UPDATE 20/8/16

Preceding 2011 there were long term US plans for destabilisation and regime change, from placing Syria on the cartoonish “axis of evul” after 9/11 to tough sanctions to IMF debt and pressure to “neoliberalise”.

Recap back to 2006:

The US tilted at the Syrian government years before Clinton’s email where she said she wanted to dismember Syria “for Israel”.

For example, US cables in 2006 are clear:

‘A December 13, 2006 cable, “Influencing the SARG [Syrian government] in the End of 2006,”1 indicates that, as far back as 2006 – five years before “Arab Spring” protests in Syria – destabilizing the Syrian government was a central motivation of US policy. The author of the cable was William Roebuck, at the time chargé d’affaires at the US embassy in Damascus. The cable outlines strategies for destabilizing the Syrian government.’

At the bottom of my post last year, there’s more links and info about pre-2011 US dodginess in Syria, and particularly interesting are those involving Jim (James) Prince and the “Democracy Council” in Syria, Prince was also involved in similar schemes in the Palestinian OPT with “Best Plans” and “Free Muslims Coalition” Kamal Nawash. Worth a very close look indeed.

For more on Nawash and his astroturfing of the Palestinians, see here.

More on the Jim Prince “Democracy Council” astroturfing of Syria 2006 – 2009 here.

And more on US astroturfing of Syria here

‘Edgar Vasquez, a State Department spokesman, said the Middle East Partnership Initiative has allocated $7.5 million for Syrian programs since 2005. A cable from the embassy in Damascus, however, pegged a much higher total — about $12 million — between 2005 and 2010.

The cables report persistent fears among U.S. diplomats that Syrian state security agents had uncovered the money trail from Washington.

A September 2009 cable reported that Syrian agents had interrogated a number of people about “MEPI operations in particular,” a reference to the Middle East Partnership Initiative.

“It is unclear to what extent [Syrian] intelligence services understand how USG money enters Syria and through which proxy organizations,” the cable stated, referring to funding from the U.S. government. “What is clear, however, is that security agents are increasingly focused on this issue.”

U.S. diplomats also warned that Syrian agents may have “penetrated” the Movement for Justice and Development by intercepting its communications.

A June 2009 cable listed the concerns under the heading “MJD: A Leaky Boat?” It reported that the group was “seeking to expand its base in Syria” but had been “initially lax in its security, often speaking about highly sensitive material on open lines.”

The cable cited evidence that the Syrian intelligence service was aware of the connection between the London exile group and the Democracy Council in Los Angeles. As a result, embassy officials fretted that the entire Syria assistance program had been compromised.’

James Prince mixes with prime zionist evangelists including Rob Eshman at a Syria fundraiser last December in California

What this information indicates is that having committed to regime change early on, the US used its usual methods tried and tested throughout South America, Africa and elsewhere, working through its “humanitarian”, “democracy” fronts.

More on the DC and other astroturfing initiatives funding here.


UPDATE 6/9/16

The National Democratic Institute, chaired bythe price – we think the price is worth it” Madeleine Albright has worked/works over Syria.

‘Working with a local partner, the Syrian Civil Administration Development Center (SYCAC), NDI provides ongoing skills-building and training to local and provincial councils inside of Syria through a network of NDI-trained embedded governance advisors. Beginning in August 2014, activists identified in partnership with SYCAC have been taking part in a comprehensive training-of-trainers (ToT) program, which aims to equip them with knowledge, training skills, and a firm understanding of administrative and organizational facets of local governance so that they can begin to address local council needs and encourage community engagement.

NDI’s support to SYCAC dates back to 2012, when opposition activists responded to local governance needs by forming administrative councils in communities throughout the country. In December 2012, NDI assisted SYCAC to organize the first significant gathering of local council representatives in Ankara, Turkey. The meeting brought together more than 200 local council representatives from all parts of Syria to discuss, revise, and approve a set of bylaws to govern their practices and relationships between councils.

Using the same model of embedded advisory assistance, in early 2016 NDI launched a program in partnership with Creative Associates International to build the legitimacy of local councils inside Syria by improving governance, service delivery, and citizen outreach capacity.

NDI’s Citizen Syria civic education program, which has been ongoing since October 2013, aims to empower Syrian citizens to become active participants in political decision-making process at the local level.

NDI has worked with a number of established political parties and emerging movements on party development and organizational structure. The Institute’s partners have included: the Damascus Declaration; the People’s Party; Building the Syrian State; the Kurdish Youth Tanseekiyat Union; the Ahrar Party; the Muslim Brotherhood; the Democratic Platform; the National Change Trend; the Syrian Democratic Coalition; and the Yekiti party, as well as many others.’

The Ahrar Party and Muslim Brotherhood, eh.

Creative Associates Top Programs feature MEPI programs over several years.

Related Links

Who pays for ‘rebel’ propaganda?

The British government is picking up the Western-backed opposition’s $1.4 million annual tab influencing policymakers in Washington and at the American United Nations mission in New York, Justice Department records reveal. And Saudi Arabia helps get the rebel point of view in the media via the kingdom’s $8 million contract with PR giant MSL Group (formerly Qorvis).

Ruby Hamad shares the stories of Syrian refugees driven out by extremist violence and patriarchal oppression:

‘Three years ago, it had taken 29-year-old Hajar, a part-time beautician, all her powers of persuasion to convince her husband Majid to leave Aleppo after he had fallen under spell of the then-al-Qaeda affiliated group Jabhat al-Nusra (now called Jabhat Fateh al-Sham).

“The radical clerics brainwashed him,” she recalls. “His mentality totally changed. He just became so angry, so argumentative; it was impossible to discuss anything with him,” her voice drops. “He was always hitting me.”

The birth of their son brought a reprieve. Majid agreed to quit fighting and the family fled to Beirut. But Hajar’s relief proved short-lived and months later, Majid again turned on her and the children, blaming them for “taking him away from (his) jihad.”

“One time he drew a knife, as if to slaughter me. But my son saw it and fainted. That stopped him.”

When he announced that he was returning to Syria with their children, she hatched a plan. As his involvement with a terror group placed him on the Syrian government’s wanted list, his only option was to fly to Turkey alone and cross into Syria from there. She told him she would meet him in Aleppo with the children.

“We had sold everything. I had nothing left here, so he assumed I had no choice but to go back,” she replies, when I ask why he believed her. “But I didn’t go. There was no way I was going to follow him.” ‘

Storified US policy directions, present, past and future re Syria

More on the JFS rebranding and use of propaganda to sanitise, along with US and British PR funding.

In his terrific book on ISIS, leading academic specialist Fawaz Gerges explained that “Al Nusra has a Salafi-jihadist worldview that is similar to that of ISIS, with the two only differing tactically and operationally.”

Gerges observed that Turkey and Qatar have lobbied for JAN to split from al Qaeda central, in the hope that this could unite the anti-Assad opposition, and increase its chances of garnering Western recognition and support. Abu Mohammed al-Maqdisi, a Jordanian theoretician of Al Qaeda, reportedly said that Zawahiri was fine with JAN splitting from Al Qaeda, other than his concern that ISIS would be the primary beneficiary.

JAN took the plunge in July, renaming itself Jabhat Fatah al-Sham. Earlier that day, “Zawahri, gave the Nusra Front his blessing to break away. In his message, Golani thanked Zawahri for putting the interests of Syrians ahead of organizational concerns.”

Despite the obvious coordination involved, and the fact that the new organisation has not claimed any kind of ideological change, Joulani said the change was made “to remove the excuse used by the international community – spearheaded by America and Russia – to bombard and displace Muslims in the Levant: that they are targeting the Nusra Front which is associated with al Qaeda”

On the potential results of safe/no fly zones pushed by imperialist neocon pundits

So what do these outraged observers want “us” to do to ameliorate Syrian suffering? For prominent pundits and leading editorial boards, the answer is usually bombing the Syrian government. More often than not, they use humanitarian euphemisms like “safe zones” or “no-fly zones.” Rarely mentioned is the fact that establishing these zones would require US bombing of Syria’s air capacity, including infrastructure, planes, buildings, possibly troops. That would, in effect, be a declaration of war. How Russia would respond is anyone’s guess, but it would certainly heighten tensions between Washington and Syria’s longtime ally (which also happens to have the world’s largest nuclear arsenal). One 2012 Pentagon estimate found that enforcing a no-fly zone would involve at least “70,000 American servicemen”; another estimate insisted such an effort would involve “hundreds of aircraft, ships, submarines and other enablers.” These messy details are hardly ever mentioned when the do-something crowd calls for “action” in Syria.

Foul boofhead Efraim Inbar from an Israeli stink tank which consults for NATO and the zionist government advises long-term war in Syria, as if that’s not what the US has been and is facilitating with its contras. Norton, who appears to have rebranded himself on Syria recently, recycles the story here). Inbar previously recommended that Israel “mow the grass” permanently in Gaza every now and then. Inbar was in Australia in February, minimising ISIS fears and advising a credulous audience to focus on Iran if anywhere in the region.

Recalling Carl Bernstein’s expose of the CIA’s use of journalists back in 1977.

US training “rebels” then minimising the US role aided by the western media.

A four-year-long deliberate strategy of backing anti-Assad forces–which has helped fuel the bloody civil war and paved the way for the rise of ISIS–is reduced to a cheesy “bumbling bureaucrat” narrative.

French government supporting “Syrian journalism” in Gaziantep.

In April2014, CFI will open a media centre, the Syrian Media Incubator, in the Turkish city of Gaziantep, 60km from the Syrian border, to the north of Aleppo. This collective workspace aims to provide modern telecommunication tools and support Syrian journalists who are determined to continue relaying news from their country, whatever the cost.

As a reminder, CFI already works in partnership with International Media Support (IMS) and Reporters sans frontières (RSF), and, in particular, helped in2013 to set up an independent Syrian radio station called Radio Rozana, which broadcasts from Paris and relies on a network of 30correspondents based in Syria. CFI provided several training sessions for these correspondents in2013.

Max Blumenthal on the Syria Campaign and White Helmets vested capitalist, imperialist connections.

* Sulayman english twitter https://twitter.com/AbuSulaymanMM (last tweet Sept 26/16)
Sulayman arabic twitter https://twitter.com/AbuSulaymanUr (last tweet Sept 27/16)
Sulayman german twitter https://twitter.com/AbuSulaymanDE (last tweet Sept 27/16)
Sulayman syrian twitter https://twitter.com/AbuSulaymanPsh (now deleted ~ Oct 3/16)

JFS twitter https://twitter.com/JFS_Eng
JFS arabic https://twitter.com/J_FSham (a/c suspended ~ Oct 3/16) and https://twitter.com/J_F_Sham (still active)

Your Daily Al Qaeda

How the western media and twitter is assisting Sulayman to deploy AQ/Nusra/JFS propaganda. Here’s some screenshots from Sulayman’s English twitter feed.

It’s Always the Season for Irony : Syria and the White Knights of US Imperialism

Cartoon from 1958In this crusade, armchair liberal trothawks[1] sally forth to save “intelligentsia” like themselves from Saddam, sorry, Assad. Vilifying the majority of Syrians’ electoral decisions which are also supported by polls, the white knight trothawks claim to represent the wishes of Syrians and in particular “revolutionaries”, though the Syrian Communist parties at this juncture defend their country and the Syrian government. Similarly, Israel and the US abhorred Gazans’ choice of Hamas (as Rice sleazed “I’ve asked why nobody saw it coming … I don’t know anyone who wasn’t caught off guard by Hamas’s strong showing”[2]). In the wings, Israel assists Al Qaeda “revolutionary” affiliate Al Nusra whilst smearing its old adversary and supporter of the Syrian government, Hezbollah, hoping to weaken it in preparation for a convenient time to steal South Lebanon real estate, its “unfinished business”[3], where Hezbollah previously defeated the belligerent, expansionist zionist entity.

Obligingly, the Pythonesque knights zero in on Russia, who, unlike the empire and its dirty cronies – NATO, the GCC and Israel – was invited by the sovereign Syrian government to intervene. However, trothawks do not recognise sovereignty for they are white knights embracing “no borders”, endowed with noblesse oblige to charge in wherever cartoon superheroes are required to support “democracy” and other glorious western values traditionally foisted upon foreign nations without consent prior to capitalist exploitation. Russia has its own legitimate interests, yet is demonised by knightly trothawks who cheer for empire’s “revolutionary” death squads and “regime change”, for the good of Syrians of course[4].

Ironies multiply. Pick a side, must be our side, bellow the trothawks. Wahhhhh, those who are not for us must be against us!!! if you don’t support the US contras and condemn Putin, you must be a Putinist, no, a Stalinist, Assadist, tankie, paternalist, orientalist, dummy anti-imperialist and whatever else they can scrounge into their desperate smear campaign against the real anti-imperialist left. Bush and his predecessors’ nationalist chants and the ridiculous Cold War deception are revived. As post-intervention rivers of blood flow on in Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan, the empire’s abhorrent divide and rule strategy in the region is crystal clear, despite transparent trothawk attempts at disappearing the imperial record under the rubric of “Arab spring”. Oozing colonialism and petty bourgeois racism, trothawks and neocons alike see these perpetual strategic imperial destabilisations as necessarily fixed footy matches with the role of empire to be hushed up and sanitised. Like the capitalist elite, they ride like engorged ticks on the back of empire, as valkyries screeching for the heads of those who challenge their absurd reductionism.

Happy thanksgiving, gawd bless Amerikkka, the turkey was better than last year’s. What do you want for Christmas? South Lebanon?

Footnotes

1. Trothawk (noun) – warmonger who professes grassroots organising capabilities, does not fight, supports other non-combatants building grassroots nationalist movements, opportunistically chooses proxies to fight on their behalf, loves RtP, bombs for “democracy” not “social justice for workers”. The cry of the mating Trothawk is “tell me what to think about this. What are the other Trothawks doing?” Also see “Lovebirds of War” http://www.kadaitcha.com/2015/09/10/lovebirds-of-war/
2. “The Gaza Bombshell” http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2008/04/gaza200804
3. “Lebanon, Israel and the next Middle East war” http://www.lebanonwire.com/0804MLN/08043009KT.asp
4. Trothawks for bombs. “We do call for action to protect civilians in Syria, including limited military action to enforce a no-bombing zone.” http://www.syriauk.org/2015/11/why-we-are-not-supporting-todays-stop.html

Other Links

John Bolton: “Security and stability are sufficient ambitions”

2012 DIA Report:

“While holding up a paper copy of the 2012 DIA report declassified through FOIA, Hasan reads aloud key passages such as, “there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in Eastern Syria, and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime.”

From The Redirection:

“Nasrallah said he believed that America also wanted to bring about the partition of Lebanon and of Syria. In Syria, he said, the result would be to push the country “into chaos and internal battles like in Iraq.” In Lebanon, “There will be a Sunni state, an Alawi state, a Christian state, and a Druze state.”

Longterm US policy for regime change in Syria:

‘The cables gave the public a recent window into the strategies and motivations of US officials as they expressed them to each other, not as they usually expressed them to the public. In the case of Syria, the cables show that regime change had been a long-standing goal of US policy; that the US promoted sectarianism in support of its regime-change policy, thus helping lay the foundation for the sectarian civil war and massive bloodshed that we see in Syria today; that key components of the Bush administration’s regime-change policy remained in place even as the Obama administration moved publicly toward a policy of engagement; and that the US government was much more interested in the Syrian government’s foreign policy, particularly its relationship with Iran, than in human rights inside Syria.’

2011 US implementation of strategy delineated in Wikileaks cables:

‘The State Department has secretly financed Syrian political opposition groups and related projects, including a satellite TV channel that beams anti-government programming into the country, according to previously undisclosed diplomatic cables.

The London-based satellite channel, Barada TV, began broadcasting in April 2009 but has ramped up operations to cover the mass protests in Syria as part of a long-standing campaign to overthrow the country’s autocratic leader, Bashar al-Assad. Human rights groups say scores of people have been killed by Assad’s security forces since the demonstrations began March 18; Syria has blamed the violence on “armed gangs.”

Barada TV is closely affiliated with the Movement for Justice and Development, a London-based network of Syrian exiles. Classified U.S. diplomatic cables show that the State Department has funneled as much as $6 million to the group since 2006 to operate the satellite channel and finance other activities inside Syria. The channel is named after the Barada River, which courses through the heart of Damascus, the Syrian capital.’

‘Several U.S. diplomatic cables from the embassy in Damascus reveal that the Syrian exiles received money from a State Department program called the Middle East Partnership Initiative. According to the cables, the State Department funneled money to the exile group via the Democracy Council, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit. According to its Web site, the council sponsors projects in the Middle East, Asia and Latin America to promote the “fundamental elements of stable societies.”

The council’s founder and president, James Prince, is a former congressional staff member and investment adviser for PricewaterhouseCoopers. Reached by telephone, Prince acknowledged that the council administers a grant from the Middle East Partnership Initiative but said that it was not “Syria-specific.”

Prince said he was “familiar with” Barada TV and the Syrian exile group in London, but he declined to comment further, saying he did not have approval from his board of directors. “We don’t really talk about anything like that,” he said.

The April 2009 cable from the U.S. Embassy in Damascus states that the Democracy Council received $6.3 million from the State Department to run a Syria-related program called the “Civil Society Strengthening Initiative.” That program is described as “a discrete collaborative effort between the Democracy Council and local partners” to produce, among other things, “various broadcast concepts.” Other cables make clear that one of those concepts was Barada TV.’

Interesting connection with Prince’s Democracy Council – Yani Haigh aka Jon Haigh:

“He is currently the director with responsibility for internet communications for The Best Plans Project and is also involved with the Democracy Council in San Francisco in the construction of a new web presence for the American International School in Gaza.’

From 2012:

‘Go back a while to early 2006, and you have the state department announcing a new “funding opportunity” called the “Syria Democracy Program”. On offer, grants worth “$5m in Federal Fiscal Year 2006”. The aim of the grants? “To accelerate the work of reformers in Syria.”‘

More on Yani Haigh, Kamal Nawash et al

ORB survey 2015:

‘ORB International, a company which specializes in public opinion research in fragile and conflict environments, [2] found that 47 percent of Syrians believe that Assad has a positive influence in Syria, compared to only 35 percent for the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and 26 percent for the Syrian Opposition Coalition.’

On “research” funded by the Democracy Council.

‘And even worse, rather than publishing findings in a peer-reviewed academic journal, the findings from the “Secret Survey” are publicized in the media with articles in places such as The Business Wire, the LA Times, CNN, the Free Library, Daily News. I believe that the point of this research is to shape an anti-Assad agenda and anti-Assad atmosphere in the US. Personally, I am also against the Assad regime and believe he must go — and research of this kind has a place in foreign policy. But, at the same time –it is unreasonable to engage in this type of ethically dubious research and expect your reputation as a research to remain in tact! ‘

RELEVANT WIKILEAKS CABLES

US grubs’ plans in 2009 to use “human rights” as a decoy for destabilisation and regime change:

‘Some programs may be perceived, were they made public, as an attempt to undermine the Asad regime, as opposed to encouraging behavior reform. In an effort to assist any Department level discussions on the SARG’s attitude toward human rights, this cable describes a possible strategy for framing the human rights discussion as an area of “mutual concern” for Syria and the U.S.’

‘DRL funded four major Syria-specific programs in the previous fiscal year. The grant recipients were (1) Freedom House, which conducted multiple workshops for a select group of Syrian activists on “strategic non-violence and civic mobilization;” (2) the American Bar Association, which held a conference in Damascus in July and then continued outreach with the goal of implementing legal education programs in Syria through local partners; (3) American University, which has conducted research on Syrian tribal and civil society by inviting shaykhs from six tribes to Beirut for interviews and training; and (4) Internews, which has coordinated with the Arab Women Media Center to support media youth camps for university-aged Syrians in both Amman and Damascus. In addition to these programs, the Embassy provided input on DRL grants awarded to Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), International War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), and The International Research and Exchange Board (IREX). Though Post does not directly monitor any of these programs, we have appreciated the opportunity to meet with representatives of CIPE and IWPR. ‘

‘In addition to smaller local grants, MEPI sponsors eight major Syria-specific initiatives, some dating back to 2005, that will have received approximately USD 12 million by September 2010. A summary of MEPI produced material on these programs follows: -Aspen Strategic Initiative Institute, “Supporting Democratic Reform” (USD 2,085,044, December 1, 2005 – December 31, 2009). The institute, situated in Berlin, works with indigenous and expatriate reform-oriented activists and has sponsored conferences in international locations that brought together NGO representatives, media, and human rights activists from the Middle East, Europe, and the U.S., paying particular attention to Syrian Kurds. MEPI noted that “while this program has offered little intrinsic value and will not likely be continued beyond the terms of the grant, the program did give NEA a unique opportunity to meet Damascus Declaration officials in Europe who were later vouched for by Riad Seif” (a Damascus Declaration signatory currently serving a two and a half year prison sentence). -Democracy Council of California, “Civil Society Strengthening Initiative (CSSI)” (USD 6,300,562, September 1, 2006 – September 30, 2010). “CSSI is a discrete collaborative effort between the Democracy Council and local partners” that has produced a secure Damascus Declaration website (www.nidaasyria.org) and “various broadcast concepts” set to air in April. -Regents of the University of New Mexico, “The Cooperative Monitoring Center-Amman: Web Access for Civil Society Initiatives” (USD 949,920, September 30, 2006 – September 30, 2009). This project established “a web portal” and training in how to use it for NGOs. MEPI noted, “this program has been of minimal utility and is unlikely to be continued beyond the term of the grant.” -People in Need, “Strengthening Civil Society” (USD 611,304, September 30, 2006 – June 30, 2009). This project provided training for young activists using the model of Eastern European democratization. -Berlin Society, “Local Women’s Center” (USD 316,592, September 25, 2006 – August 31, 2009). This project funds a women’s center in Syria which, in turn, provides Internet access, as well as computer and literacy classes, and legal and medical advice. -International Republican Institute (IRI), “Supporting Democratic Reform” (USD 1,250,000, September 30, 2006 – August 31, 2009). “The project supports grassroots public awareness campaigns and the conduct and dissemination of public opinion polling research. Recent results include the distribution of two video compact discs compiling footage recorded by citizen-journalists and a 240-page report documenting thousands of human rights abuses.” -Solidarity Center, “Building Trade Union Capacity” (Approx. USD 50,000 of a multi-country USD 3,000,000 program, September 1, 2007 – December 31, 2009). This project funds “pilot research” on Syrian trade unions and has connected domestic labor activists and their counterparts in the Middle East and North Africa. Senior staff have visited Syria for meetings with the International Confederation of Arab Trade Unions. -Etana Press, “Community-Based Libraries” (USD 584,904, June 1, 2008 – February 28, 2010). “This project supports the establishment of a community-based library/bookshop.” MEPI noted that over 500 visitors have visited the library to date “though it is not yet fully operational.” -MEPI has also proposed continued programming for IRI and the CIPE, as well as supporting independent journalists through joint efforts with NEA/PI. ‘

Yes, the SARG knew about US plans against it:

”Zeitunah told us security services had asked whether she had met with anyone from our “Foreign Ministry” and with anyone from the Democracy Council (Comment: State Department Foreign Affairs Officer Joseph Barghout had recently been in Syria and met with Zeitunah; we assume the SARG was fishing for information, knowing Barghout had entered the country. Jim Prince was in Damascus on February 25, and it is our understanding he met with Zeitunah at that time, or had done so on a separate trip. End Comment). She added that her interrogators did not ask about Barghout by name, but they did have Jim Prince’s. ”

“Zeitunah’s report begs the question of how much and for how long the SARG has known about Democracy Council operations in Syria and, by extension, the MJD’s participation. Reporting in other channels suggest the Syrian Muhabarat may already have penetrated the MJD and is using MJD contacts to track U.S. democracy programming. If the SARG does know, but has chosen not to intervene openly, it raises the possibility that the SARG may be mounting a campaign to entrap democracy activists receiving illegal (under Syrian law) foreign assistance.”

The SARG definitely had glommed onto US duplicitous efforts to destabilise and create a faux “Arab Spring”:

‘It is unclear to what extent SARG intelligence services understand how USG money enters Syria and through which proxy organizations. What is clear, however, is that security agents are increasingly focused on this issue when they interrogate human rights and civil society activists. The information agents are able to frame their questions with more and more specific information and names. The charge that Hasani received USG funding vis-a-vis the Al-Andalus Center is especially worrying since it may suggest the SARG has keyed in on MEPI operations in particular. ‘

In 2010: Thanks to the US “human rights” interventions and “plausible deniability” cover, Syria arrests human rights activists. Prince seems to have kept at arms’ length from Barada TV head Attasi:

‘Attasi confirmed reports we had heard from other contacts about the SARG,s interest in chasing down the financial and political support structure behind Barada. Security agents called her in for questioning in October and repeatedly asked her about her affiliations with the U.S. Embassy and whether she knew Jim Prince and someone named “Ugo” (or “Hugo”), the latter of whom agents described as being involved with People In Need in Prague. Attasi truthfully denied personal knowledge of the individuals as well as ever having visited the Embassy, though she claimed to have “indirectly” sent a warning to Ugo. ‘

…………………………………………………….

Why the Refugee Acceptance Movement Must Become an Anti-Imperialist Movement

At around the same time the United States was forming death squads and torture chambers, the Bush administration plotted the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Leaked documents made available by WikiLeaks show that the United States planned, once again, to deploy the El Salvador option in Syria. The plan “was to use a number of different factors to create paranoia within the Syrian government; to push it to overreact, to make it fear there’s a coup” including “foster[ing] tensions between Shiites and Sunnis.

2012 hostile Doha Poll.

‘Some 55% of Syrians want Assad to stay, motivated by fear of civil war – a spectre that is not theoretical as it is for those who live outside Syria’s borders.’

Poll July 2015:

‘ 63% of Syrians think the Free Syrian Army have a completely or somewhat negative influence in Syria, compared to 36% who think they have a somewhat or completely positive influence’

Preplanning: ‘However brutal and repressive Bashar al-Assad may be, he is currently the leader of a sovereign state which is still recognised as legitimate by most other countries in the world. And despite a civil war that has been raging for over four years, the opposition groups supported by a range of other Middle Eastern countries as well as by the USA have singularly failed to dislodge him. While David Cameron calls Assad “one of ISIL’s greatest recruiting sergeants”, the indisputable fact is that ISIL stepped into the vacuum created by the civil war itself.

It is an open secret that the USA, mainly through the CIA, has been funding, arming and supporting the Syrian opposition from the outset. Undeterred by the disastrous results of ‘regime change’ in Iraq and Libya, the US, UK and other western powers have been determined to see regime change in Syria and have been trying for four years to help that along by supporting the Free Syrian Army and other military groups trying to oust Assad.’

Guilt by Dis-association: The Landscape of Amerikan* Exceptionalism in the Guise of Palestine Solidarity

Poll of Libyans (March 2014): 32% say the country is better off “since the revolution” while 41% say it’s worse off.

On US strategy for perpetual destabilisation:

‘How much death and destruction would American terror warriors have to cause before their ostensible opponents rejected their claims of noble intent? During the thirteen years of the “war on terror,” actions of the United States government have consistently and predictably strengthened anti-American terrorist groups. To chalk this all up to stupidity — rather than unstated imperial imperatives — is to choose ignorance.’

Israel trained against Russian-made air defense system in Greece: sources

Turkey to occupy Iraq?

Turkey-bound Isis oil being smuggled through “moderate” rebel areas in north Aleppo destroyed by Russian jets

Plausible deniability, testing the waters for a possible US policy shift?:

‘U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday it might be possible for the Syrian government and rebel forces to cooperate against Islamic State militants without Syrian President Bashar al-Assad having first left power.

However, Kerry said it would be “exceedingly difficult” to achieve this if rebel forces that have been fighting against Assad for more than four years did not have some confidence that the Syrian leader would eventually go.

Kerry was asked at a news conference during a visit to Greece whether Assad’s departure was a precondition for Western-backed rebels to cooperate with government troops against IS, which has captured a swathe of Syria and Iraq and carried out a string of attacks in other countries.

“With respect to the question of Assad and the timing, I think the answer is … it is not clear that he would have to ‘go’ if there was clarity with respect to what his future might or might not be,” Kerry said.’

Interview between Amy Goodman (Democracy Now) and Gen. Wesley Clark, retired 4-star US army general and former supreme Allied commander of NATO during the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia.

GEN. WESLEY CLARK: […] About ten days after 9/11, I went through the Pentagon and I saw Secretary Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz. I went downstairs just to say hello to some of the people on the Joint Staff who used to work for me, and one of the generals called me in. He said, “Sir, you’ve got to come in and talk to me a second.” I said, “Well, you’re too busy.” He said, “No, no.” He says, “We’ve made the decision we’re going to war with Iraq.” This was on or about the 20th of September. I said, “We’re going to war with Iraq? Why?” He said, “I don’t know.” He said, “I guess they don’t know what else to do.” So I said, “Well, did they find some information connecting Saddam to al-Qaeda?” He said, “No, no.” He says, “There’s nothing new that way. They just made the decision to go to war with Iraq.” He said, “I guess it’s like we don’t know what to do about terrorists, but we’ve got a good military and we can take down governments.” And he said, “I guess if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem has to look like a nail.”

So I came back to see him a few weeks later, and by that time we were bombing in Afghanistan. I said, “Are we still going to war with Iraq?” And he said, “Oh, it’s worse than that.” He reached over on his desk. He picked up a piece of paper. And he said, “I just got this down from upstairs” — meaning the Secretary of Defense’s office — “today.” And he said, “This is a memo that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.” I said, “Is it classified?” He said, “Yes, sir.” I said, “Well, don’t show it to me.” And I saw him a year or so ago, and I said, “You remember that?” He said, “Sir, I didn’t show you that memo! I didn’t show it to you!”

Syrian “opposition” invited by the Wahhabi beheaders to design the new Syria.

‘”The goal of the Riyadh meeting is developing a united front against Assad,” Khaled Khoja, said, referring to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“We will share our new vision there. We have conformity over Syria’s future after Assad. We are meeting in Riyadh to avert claims that the opposition is a creation of different factions,” he told Anadolu Agency.

Khoja is due to attend the summit from Dec. 11 to 14, when the Saudi government has invited 65 opposition leaders to discuss the shape Syria in accordance with the Geneva communique, the document that sets out the need for a cease-fire and political settlement.”

Lenin:

‘The flaunting of high-sounding phrases is characteristic of the declassed petty-bourgeois intellectuals. The organised proletarian Communists will certainly punish this “habit” with nothing less than derision and expulsion from all responsible posts. The people must be told the bitter truth simply, clearly and in a straightforward manner’.

‘If war is waged by the exploiting class with the object of strengthening its rule as a class, such a war is a criminal war, and “defencism” in such a war is a base betrayal of socialism. If war is waged by the proletariat after it has conquered the bourgeoisie in its own country, and is waged with the object of strengthening and developing socialism, such a war is legitimate and “holy”.’

Who buys the ISIS oil and how do they acquire it?

‘JAY: Now, you made a point in your article that the Americans have done very little bombing of these oil trucks. They kind of picked it up after the Russians started bombing oil trucks. How do you explain the Americans allowing this kind of flow of funds into IS?

PRASHAD: Well, I asked somebody in the State Department this. And you know, she’s not a spokesperson, not possible for her to speak on the record. But she basically said something that I found very unbelievable, which is that it’s taken them time to perfect their targeting. They didn’t want to hit civilians, they don’t believe that the truck drivers should be targeted, that they themselves aren’t, you know, a party to IS. They are merely driving trucks. So they had to finesse their operations.

Well, this sounded a little far-fetched to me. The United States has not been known, you know, as a humanitarian bomber when it’s bombed other logistical convoys in Afghanistan or elsewhere. So this seemed a little odd to me. Yes, it–of course, it appears directly that the American bombing, the few bombings now of oil convoys have followed the ration bombings of the oil convoys. But you know, I just want to say that even the bombings of the oil convoys, it will have a dent on ISIS’s Office of Resources. But the vast bulk of ISIS funding comes from confiscations, extortion, and taxation. And that is not going to be affected by aerial bombardment. So whether they bomb the trucks or not, ISIS funding is not going to be completely depleted.

What this attack at the ISIS oil is going to do is to put pressure on groups–on countries such as Turkey and Israel and others that are playing a duplicitous game in this international coalition against ISIS. I think that is far more important. It’s clarifying the politics. Where does Turkey stand vis-a-vis ISIS? Where does Israel stand?

JAY: Listen, we’ve been saying–and you and I have talked about this, I’ve talked about this in other interviews on the Real News. But the fundamental strategy of the United States and Israel in Syria was let everybody kill each other, as long as it takes. In other words, make sure no one side gets a real strategic advantage over the other. And if one gets too strong, strengthen one of the other sides. Do you think this has something to do with it, that they don’t–you know, they don’t want a complete collapse of ISIS.

PRASHAD: Well, look, it’s–. This is a plausible scenario. I’ve never heard it from anybody in a position of authority, you know, that they feel that they don’t want to see the collapse of ISIS. But what they do say, which comes close to that, is that destroying ISIS itself is not going to give the Sunni population of northwestern Iraq an sections of northern Syria, it’s not going to give the Sunni population confidence that they, you know, their sort of anxieties, their grievances, would be taken care of. In other words, just allowing the cities of Ramadi, Fallujah, Mosul, to be overrun by the Iraqi army is itself not going to bring that Sunni population to understand that their needs would be taken care of by the Iraqi state, and the same of course in Syria.’

The Dictator Quadrille

Whtie Saviours of Arabia

The Dictator Quadrille

Did you cheer when NATO boots smashed into the face of Afghanistan?
those evil Taliban, hate hate hate, such primitives, more sanctions
and the wall came down, Brzezsinski crowed.
Did you party when US bombs destroyed the Koranic library in Baghdad,
because democracy is messy? So Cheney gloated.
Saddam is gone, pushed off the long drop.
Aren’t they better off now? history is a sweet crude encumbrance.
Did you share a joke or two when Gaddafi was clubbed in a culvert,
raped with a knife – all hail NATO, such zealot humanitarians,
AFRICOM, civilised pointy ends over means,
millions of liquidated lives afri-forgotten beyond trothawk triumph at chaos.
Great white saviours! power vacuum cleaners armed with fake incubator Saudi sat pics
sarin barrel WMDs chemical Putin Niger uranium Lockerbie Russian attacks.
Empire gives notice to the latest demon of infinite malevolence, Assad,
usurps the right to protect us all from remembering,
betrays landlocked Kurds again already.
Do you recall Halabja, Amiriyah, Fallujah?
The price, Madeline snarled, was worth it, and who paid?
not nationalist PR agents in their recliner rockers, hunched over lethal keyboards.
Your pillars of wisdom are mirages of multi-imperialism,
Syriabara buttressed by indifference to brown people squatting on our oil,
may they buy our weapons as penance.
Once venerated as obedient dancers, dictatorships topple dramatically when they stand on imperial toes.
Like Alice, the last thing you remember is the cat’s grin above the chess board,
then repeat after me, “I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t care” as you disappear.

October 2015

Related Links

“For the last year-and-a-half we have said Assad has to go, but how long and what the modality is … that’s a decision that has to be made in the context of the Geneva process and negotiation,” Mr Kerry said.’ http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-09-20/kerry-calls-for-renwed-effort-on-syria-conflict/6789582
Assad ‘part of solution in Syria’ — Julie Bishop signals policy change  http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/foreign-affairs/assad-part-of-solution-in-syria-julie-bishop-signals-policy-change/story-fn59nm2j-1227544502722?sv=73a358828d8d737433cc8b39f524c09f
The Red Line and the Rat Line http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n08/seymour-m-hersh/the-red-line-and-the-rat-line
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/saddam/kurds/cron.html
A Great Analysis of the Neocon BS the Guardian Has Been Selling Lately

“You can really have no notion how delightful it will be
When they take us up and throw us, with the lobsters, out to sea!”
http://www.authorama.com/alice-in-wonderland-10.html

“Brzezinski: It isn’t quite that. We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.

Q: When the Soviets justified their intervention by asserting that they intended to fight against a secret involvement of the United States in Afghanistan, people didn’t believe them. However, there was a basis of truth. You don’t regret anything today?

Brzezinski: Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter: We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.

Q: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic [integrisme], having given arms and advice to future terrorists?

Brzezinski: What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?

Q: Some stirred-up Moslems? But it has been said and repeated: Islamic fundamentalism represents a world menace today.

Brzezinski: Nonsense! It is said that the West had a global policy in regard to Islam. That is stupid. There isn’t a global Islam. Look at Islam in a rational manner and without demagoguery or emotion. It is the leading religion of the world with 1.5 billion followers. But what is there in common among Saudi Arabian fundamentalism, moderate Morocco, Pakistan militarism, Egyptian pro-Western or Central Asian secularism? Nothing more than what unites the Christian countries.”

http://www.counterpunch.org/1998/01/15/how-jimmy-carter-and-i-started-the-mujahideen/

Lovebirds of War

Drowning ArmchairsI’m a liberal trothawk
You’re a vulture neocon –
Let’s get together, sweetheart,
Bomb Syria to kingdom come.
Though we’ve never been to war,
we fight bravely on the net,
Calling leftists ‘Stalinists’
and other smeary epithets.
None can match our western tongues
for running down those reds –
we’ll both be ‘lil Hitchens’,
still carping on our death beds.
Collect a ticket to the front,
we’ll prove our mettle there –
who can run home fastest
to our comfortable armchairs.
Write a mercenary blog post,
have a lovely cup of tea –
It’s so civilised watching
wars we’re abetting on TV!

September 2015