How the Syrian Democratic Forces Were Suddenly Transformed into “Kurdish Forces”
by Robert Fisk
November 11, 2019

That wars end very differently to our own expectations – or our plans – was established long ago. That “we” won the Second World War did not mean the Americans would win the Vietnam war, or that France would vanquish its enemies in Algeria. Yet the moment we decide who the good guys are, and who the evil monsters whom we must destroy, we relapse again into our old mistakes.

Because we hate, loathe and demonise Saddam or Gaddafi or Assad, we are sure – we are absolutely convinced – that they will be dethroned and that the blue skies of freedom will shine down upon their broken lands. This is childish, immature, infantile (although, given the trash we are prepared to consume over Brexit, it’s not, I suppose, very surprising).

Well, Saddam’s demise brought upon Iraq the most unimaginable suffering. So too Gaddafi’s assassination beside the most famous sewer in Libya. As for Bashar al-Assad, far from being overthrown, he has emerged as the biggest winner of the Syrian war. Still we insist that he must go. Still we intend to try Syrian war criminals – and rightly so – but the Syrian regime has emerged above the blood-tide of war intact, alive, and with the most reliable superpower ally any Middle East state could have: the Kremlin.

I despise the word “curate”. Everyone seems to be curating scenarios, curating political conversations or curating business portfolios. We seem to be addicted to these awful curio words. But for once I’m going to use it in real form: those who curated the story – the narrative – of the Syrian war, got it all wrong from the start.

Bashar would go. The Free Syrian Army, supposedly made up of tens of thousands of Syrian army deserters and the unarmed demonstrators of Darayya, Damascus and Homs, would force the Assad family from power. And, of course, western-style democracy would break out, and secularism – which was in fact supposed to be the foundation of the Baath party – would become the basis of a new and liberal Arab state. We shall leave aside for now one of the real reasons for the west’s support of the rebellion: to destroy Iran’s only Arab ally.

We didn’t predict the arrival of al-Qaeda, now purified with the name of Nusrah. We did not imagine that the Isis nightmare would emerge like a genie from the eastern deserts. Nor did we understand – nor were we told – how these Islamist cults could consume the people’s revolution in which we believed.

Still today, I am only beginning to learn how Syria’s “moderate” rebellion turned into the apocalyptic killing machine of the Islamic State. Some Islamist groups (not all, by any means, and it was not a simple transition) were there from the start. They were in Homs as early as 2012.

This does not mean that Syrian rebels were not brave, democratically minded figures. But they were mightily exaggerated in the west. While David Cameron was fantasising about the 70,000 Free Syrian Army (FSA) “moderates” fighting the Assad regime – there were never more than perhaps 7,000, at the most – the Syrian army was already talking to them, sometimes directly by mobile phone, to persuade them to return to their original government army units or to abandon a town without fighting or to swap the bodies of government soldiers for food. Syrian officers would say that they always preferred to fight the FSA because they ran away; Nusrah and Isis did not.

Yet now, today, as we report the results of the Turkish invasion of northern Syria, we are using a weird expression for Turkey’s Arab militia allies. They are called the “Syrian National Army” – as opposed to the Assad government’s original and still very extant Syrian Arab Army. Vincent Durac, a professor in Middle East politics in Dublin, even wrote last week that these Arab militia allies were “a creation of Turkey”.

This is nonsense. They are the wreckage of the original and now utterly discredited Free Syrian Army – David Cameron’s mythical legions whose mysterious composition, I recall, was once explained to British MPs by the gloriously named General Messenger. Very few reporters (with the honourable exception of those reporting for Channel 4 News) have explained this all-important fact of the war, even though some footage clearly showed the Turkish-paid militiamen brandishing the old Free Syrian Army green, white and black flag.

It was this same ex-FSA rabble who entered the Kurdish enclave of Afrin last year and helped their Nusrah colleagues loot Kurdish homes and businesses. The Turks called this violent act of occupation “Operation Olive Branch”. Even more preposterous, its latest invasion is named “Operation Peace Spring”.

There was a time when this would have provoked ribaldry and contempt. No longer. Today, the media have largely treated this ridiculous nomenclature with something approaching respect.

We have been playing the same tricks with the so-called “American-backed” Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). As I’ve said before, almost all the SDF are Kurds, and they have never been elected, chosen, or joined the SDF democratically. Indeed there was nothing at all democratic about the militia, and its “force” existed only so long as it was supported by US air power. Yet the Syrian Democratic Forces kept their title unscathed and largely unquestioned by the media.

But when the Turks invaded Syria, to drive them from the Syrian-Turkish border, they were suddenly transformed by us into “Kurdish forces” – which they largely were – who had been betrayed by the Americans – which they very definitely were.

An irony, which is either forgotten or simply unknown, is that when fighting began in Aleppo in 2012, the Kurds helped the FSA grab several areas of the city. The two were fighting each other seven years later when the Turks invaded the “free” Kurdish borderland of Rojava. Even less advertised was the fact that the Turkish-FSA advance into Syria allowed thousands of Arab Syrian villagers to return to homes taken over by the Kurds when they set up their doomed statelet after the war began.

But the narrative of this war is now being further skewed by our suspension of any critical understanding of Saudi Arabia’s new role in the Syrian debacle.

Deny and deny and deny is the Saudi policy, when asked what assistance it gave to the anti-Assad Islamist rebels in Syria. Even when I found Bosnian weapons documents in a Nusrah base in Aleppo, signed off by an arms manufacturer near Sarajevo called Ifet Krnjic – and even when I tracked down Krnjic himself, who explained how the weapons had been sent to Saudi Arabia (he even described the Saudi officials whom he spoke to in his factory) – the Saudis denied the facts.

Yet today, almost incredibly, it seems the Saudis themselves are now contemplating an entirely new approach to Syria. Already their United Arab Emirates allies in the Yemeni war (another Saudi catastrophe) have reopened their embassy in Damascus: a highly significant decision by the Gulf state, although largely ignored in the west. Now, it seems, the Saudis are thinking of strengthening their cooperation with Russia by financing, along with the Emiratis and perhaps also Kuwait, the reconstruction of Syria.

Thus the Saudis would become more important to the Syrian regime than sanctions-cracked Iran, and would perhaps forestall Qatar’s own increasingly warm – if very discreet – relations with Bashar al-Assad. The Qataris, despite their Al-Jazeera worldwide empire, want to expand their power over real, physical land; and Syria is an obvious target for their generosity and wealth. But if the Saudis decided to take on this onerous role, the kingdom would at one and the same time muscle both Iran and Qatar aside. Or so it believes. The Syrians – whose principle policy in such times is to wait, and wait, and wait – will, of course, decide how to play with their neighbours’ ambitions.

But Saudi interest in Syria is not merely conjecture. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman remarked to Time magazine in August last year that “Bashar is going to stay. But I believe that Bashar’s interest is not to let the Iranians do whatever they want to do.” The Syrians and the Bahrainis are talking regularly about the post-war Levant. The Emirates might even negotiate between the Saudis and the Syrians. The Gulf states are now saying that it was a mistake to suspend Syria’s membership of the Arab League.

In other words, Syria – with Russian encouragement – is steadily resuming the role it maintained before the 2011 revolt.

This wasn’t what we in the west imagined then, when our ambassadors in Damascus were encouraging the Syrian street demonstrators to keep up their struggle against the regime; indeed, when they specifically told the protestors not even to talk or negotiate with the Assad government.

But those were in the days before two crazed elements emerged to smash all our assumptions, sowing fear and distrust across the Middle East: Donald Trump and Isis.

「イスラエル産」の表記不可、「占領地産」と明記せよ 欧州司法裁判所




All Products From Israeli Settlements Must Be Labelled: EU Court In Landmark Ruling
Wed, 11/13/2019 - 09:00

In a controversial new landmark ruling that has enraged and frustrated Israeli leaders, Europe's top court has ordered that all goods produced by Israeli settlements in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights be labeled as such.

Specifically the European Court of Justice decision on Tuesday forbids any products from settlements to be labeled simply as "made in Israel"; instead, they must have a “clear and non-misleading indication of origin” in line with the EU's consumer policy, as stated by an EU official communicating the ruling to Tel Aviv.

Activists who have for years campaigned against illegal Israeli settlement expansion into the West Bank have hailed it as a victory, and as taking the European public a step closer to recognizing Israel as an 'apartheid state' akin to South Africa's recent history.
West Bank settlement file image.

The EU's highest court said in a press release:

“Foodstuffs originating in the territories occupied by the State of Israel must bear the indication of their territory of origin, accompanied, where those foodstuffs come from an Israeli settlement within that territory, by the indication of that provenance.”

The court ruled further that "Israel is present in the territories concerned as an occupying power and not as a sovereign entity."

The ruling follows prior 2015 guidelines mandated by the EU for member states to require specially labeling goods from settlements, but which not all followed. This also led to lawsuits where it was enacted, such as in France, brought by Israeli businessmen who sought to get the policy thrown out.

This week's ruling was in response to these legal actions and lack of uniformity across the EU in implementing and enforcing prior policy.
Pro-BDS sign painted on a wall in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, via AFP/Getty.

A spokeswoman at the EU embassy in Tel Aviv said, “The EU has a longstanding and well-known position that it will not recognize any changes to pre-1967 Israeli borders other than those agreed by the parties to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

But she also emphasized this wasn't an attempt at endorsing “any form of boycott or sanctions against Israel” — in reference to the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Israeli leaders have sought to fiercely push back, given it will have a big impact on Israeli trade with the EU, and could also negatively effect US trade with Europe.
Israeli winemaker Psagot, based in the West Bank, will have to carry a special label in EU countries. Image via the Jewish Chronicle.

They've urged the White House and Congress to pressure the EU not to implement the label ruling, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu personally urging Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to put the issue front and center.

Several US Senators have also reportedly gotten involved, according to Axios, sending letters to the EU's ambassador in Washington and US trade representative Robert Lighthizer, pressuring them to ignore the ruling.

ボリビアがドイツ社とのリチウム鉱山開発契約キャンセル →大統領亡命





Bolivian Coup Comes Less Than a Week After Morales Stopped Multinational Firm's Lithium Deal
"Bolivia's lithium belongs to the Bolivian people. Not to multinational corporate cabals."
Eoin Higgins, staff writer
November 11, 2019

The Sunday military coup in Bolivia has put in place a government which appears likely to reverse a decision by just-resigned President Evo Morales to cancel an agreement with a German company for developing lithium deposits in the Latin American country for batteries like those in electric cars.

"Bolivia's lithium belongs to the Bolivian people," tweeted Washington Monthly contributor David Atkins. "Not to multinational corporate cabals."

The coup, which on Sunday resulted in Morales resigning and going into hiding, was the result of days of protests from right-wing elements angry at the leftist Morales government. Sen. Jeanine Añez, of the center-right party Democratic Unity, is currently the interim president in the unstable post-coup government in advance of elections.

Investment analyst publisher Argus urged investors to keep an eye on the developing situation and noted that gas and oil production from foreign companies in Bolivia had remained steady.

The Morales move on Nov. 4 to cancel the December 2018 agreement with Germany's ACI Systems Alemania (ACISA) came after weeks of protests from residents of the Potosí area. The region has 50% to 70% of the world's lithium reserves in the Salar de Uyuni salt flats.

Among other clients, ACISA provides batteries to Tesla; Tesla's stock rose Monday after the weekend.

As Bloomberg News noted in 2018, that has set the country up to be incredibly important in the next decade:

Demand for lithium is expected to more than double by 2025. The soft, light mineral is mined mainly in Australia, Chile, and Argentina. Bolivia has plenty—9 million tons that have never been mined commercially, the second-largest amount in the world—but until now there's been no practical way to mine and sell it.

Morales' cancellation of the ACISA deal opened the door to either a renegotiation of the agreement with terms delivering more of the profits to the area's population or the outright nationalization of the Bolivian lithium extraction industry.

As Telesur reported in June, the Morales government announced at the time it was "determined to industrialize Bolivia and has invested huge amounts to ensure that lithium is processed within the country to export it only in value-added form, such as in batteries."

It's unclear what the next steps are for the industry in a post-coup Bolivia, according to global intelligence analysis firm Stratfor:

In the longer term, continued political uncertainty will make it more difficult for Bolivia to increase its production of strategic metals like lithium or develop a value-added sector in the battery market. The poor investment climate comes at a time of expanding global opportunities in lithium-ion battery production to meet rising demand from electric vehicle manufacturing.

ACISA told German broadcaster DW last week that the company was "confident that our lithium project will be resumed after a phase of political calmness and clarification."

On Sunday, Morales resigned.

After Evo, the Lithium Question Looms Large in Bolivia
by Vijay Prashad
November 13, 2019

Bolivia’s President Evo Morales was overthrown in a military coup on November 10. He is now in Mexico. Before he left office, Morales had been involved in a long project to bring economic and social democracy to his long-exploited country. It is important to recall that Bolivia has suffered a series of coups, often conducted by the military and the oligarchy on behalf of transnational mining companies. Initially, these were tin firms, but tin is no longer the main target in Bolivia. The main target is its massive deposits of lithium, crucial for the electric car.

Over the past 13 years, Morales has tried to build a different relationship between his country and its resources. He has not wanted the resources to benefit the transnational mining firms, but rather to benefit his own population. Part of that promise was met as Bolivia’s poverty rate has declined, and as Bolivia’s population was able to improve its social indicators. Nationalization of resources combined with the use of its income to fund social development has played a role. The attitude of the Morales government toward the transnational firms produced a harsh response from them, many of them taking Bolivia to court.

Over the course of the past few years, Bolivia has struggled to raise investment to develop the lithium reserves in a way that brings the wealth back into the country for its people. Morales’ Vice President Álvaro García Linera had said that lithium is the “fuel that will feed the world.” Bolivia was unable to make deals with Western transnational firms; it decided to partner with Chinese firms. This made the Morales government vulnerable. It had walked into the new Cold War between the West and China. The coup against Morales cannot be understood without a glance at this clash.

Clash With the Transnational Firms

When Evo Morales and the Movement for Socialism took power in 2006, the government immediately sought to undo decades of theft by transnational mining firms. Morales’ government seized several of the mining operations of the most powerful firms, such as Glencore, Jindal Steel & Power, Anglo-Argentine Pan American Energy, and South American Silver (now TriMetals Mining). It sent a message that business as usual was not going to continue.

Nonetheless, these large firms continued their operations—based on older contracts—in some areas of the country. For example, the Canadian transnational firm South American Silver had created a company in 2003—before Morales came to power—to mine the Malku Khota for silver and indium (a rare earth metal used in flat-screen televisions). South American Silver then began to extend its reach into its concessions. The land that it claimed was inhabited by indigenous Bolivians, who argued that the company was destroying its sacred spaces as well as promoting an atmosphere of violence.

On August 1, 2012, the Morales government—by Supreme Decree no. 1308—annulled the contract with South American Silver (TriMetals Mining), which then sought international arbitration and compensation. Canada’s government of Justin Trudeau—as part of a broader pushon behalf of Canadian mining companies in South America—put an immense amount of pressure on Bolivia. In August 2019, TriMetals struck a deal with the Bolivian government for $25.8 million, about a tenth of what it had earlier demanded as compensation.

Jindal Steel, an Indian transnational corporation, had an old contract to mine iron ore from Bolivia’s El Mutún, a contract that was put on hold by the Morales government in 2007. In July 2012, Jindal Steel terminated the contract and sought international arbitration and compensation for its investment. In 2014, it won $22.5 million from Bolivia in a ruling from Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce. For another case against Bolivia, Jindal Steel demanded $100 million in compensation.

The Morales government seized three facilities from the Swiss-based transnational mining firm Glencore; these included a tin and zinc mine as well as two smelters. The mine’s expropriation took place after Glencore’s subsidiary clashed violently with miners.

Most aggressively, Pan American sued the Bolivian government for $1.5 billion for the expropriation of the Anglo-Argentinian company’s stake in natural gas producer Chaco by the state. Bolivia settled for $357 million in 2014.

The scale of these payouts is enormous. It was estimated in 2014 that the public and private payments made for nationalization of these key sectors amounted to at least $1.9 billion (Bolivia’s GDP was at that time $28 billion).

In 2014, even the Financial Times agreed that Morales’ strategy was not entirely inappropriate. “Proof of the success of Morales’s economic model is that since coming to power he has tripled the size of the economy while ramping up record foreign reserves.”


Bolivia’s key reserves are in lithium, which is essential for the electric car. Bolivia claims to have 70 percent of the world’s lithium reserves, mostly in the Salar de Uyuni salt flats. The complexity of the mining and processing has meant that Bolivia has not been able to develop the lithium industry on its own. It requires capital, and it requires expertise.

The salt flat is about 12,000 feet (3,600 meters) above sea level, and it receives high rainfall. This makes it difficult to use sun-based evaporation. Such simpler solutions are available to Chile’s Atacama Desert and in Argentina’s Hombre Muerto. More technical solutions are needed for Bolivia, which means that more investment is needed.

The nationalization policy of the Morales government and the geographical complexity of Salar de Uyuni chased away several transnational mining firms. Eramet (France), FMC (United States) and Posco (South Korea) could not make deals with Bolivia, so they now operate in Argentina.

Morales made it clear that any development of the lithium had to be done with Bolivia’s Comibol—its national mining company—and Yacimientos de Litio Bolivianos (YLB)—its national lithium company—as equal partners.

Last year, Germany’s ACI Systems agreed to a deal with Bolivia. After protests from residents in the Salar de Uyuni region, Morales canceled that deal on November 4, 2019.

Chinese firms—such as TBEA Group and China Machinery Engineering—made a deal with YLB. It was being said that China’s Tianqi Lithium Group, which operates in Argentina, was going to make a deal with YLB. Both Chinese investment and the Bolivian lithium company were experimenting with new ways to both mine the lithium and to share the profits of the lithium. The idea that there might be a new social compact for the lithium was unacceptable to the main transnational mining companies.

Tesla (United States) and Pure Energy Minerals (Canada) both showed great interest in having a direct stake in Bolivian lithium. But they could not make a deal that would take into consideration the parameters set by the Morales government. Morales himself was a direct impediment to the takeover of the lithium fields by the non-Chinese transnational firms. He had to go.

After the coup, Tesla’s stock rose astronomically.



これは、2000年にセルビアで起きた光景(colour revolution)の再現である。

Events in Bolivia follow script of ‘color revolution’ – the antithesis of democracy
12 Nov, 2019 21:52
Nebojsa Malic, senior writer at RT

From the claim of a ‘stolen’ election to the opposition burning ballots and the forced resignation of President Evo Morales, the events in Bolivia have followed the script of the original “color revolution” in Serbia.

A politician critical of Washington seeks re-election, and wins the vote in the first round under the existing rules. Opposition parties cry foul and demand a runoff, only to attack the polling stations and burn the ballots, making an accurate count impossible. Then their demands escalate: the “dictator” must resign without a new vote, the “people power” in the streets demands it.

Yes, this is Bolivia in early November 2019. But I remember it also being Serbia, in early October 2000 – back when it was still known as Yugoslavia. One or two similarities would be a coincidence; this kind of eerie overlap points to something more. Especially when what happened in Serbia would later be identified as the very first case of “color revolution.”
Also on rt.com One step closer to democratic, prosperous, free Western Hemisphere? Trump hails ouster of Bolivia's Evo Morales

There are two competing narratives when it comes to the ouster of Morales. The one embraced by the mainstream media calls it a democratic triumph of the Bolivian people against a selfish politician who refused to leave power after 14 years. Interestingly enough, this is something US President Donald Trump and CNN – normally at odds with each other – seem to agree on completely.

Meanwhile, non-mainstream voices, mainly from the political left, have denounced it as a “right wing coup,” either organized or abetted by the US, probably in order to seize Bolivia’s vast mineral resources and solidify Washington’s hold over Latin America.

There's literally not a single thing about the violence and military rule taking place in Bolivia that is about restoration of democracy.

Everything that's happening is about an end to democracy there: a classic coup.

It's astonishing US media outlets won't call it that: https://t.co/7Lcii1HEzC
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) November 11, 2019

“Restoring democracy” was also the narrative accompanying the US attempts – so far, unsuccessful – to install in power in Venezuela an unelected opposition politician polling in single digits. Those of you with longer memories may also remember that the October 2000 events in Serbia also involved an unpopular opposition leader of a coalition forced together by US diplomats. They were also painted as a spontaneous, grassroots protests – until it was over, and the media felt free to reveal the role of CIA and National Endowment for Democracy (NED) operatives and their “suitcases of cash.”

Four years later, the Guardian was confident enough to declare in a headline that it was a “US campaign behind the turmoil in Kiev,” describing the ‘Orange Revolution’ in Ukraine.

“The operation – engineering democracy through the ballot box and civil disobedience – is now so slick that the methods have matured into a template for winning other people's elections,” wrote Ian Traynor, even noting that it was developed and pioneered four years prior in Belgrade.
Also on rt.com October 5, 2000: Flashback to Yugoslavia, West's first color revolution victim

One of the names mentioned by Traynor is Michael Kozak, a US diplomat who had tried to replicate the “color revolution” recipe in Belarus. Today, Kozak is acting Assistant Secretary at the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs – the State Department’s portfolio that includes Bolivia.

Here’s Kozak on October 21, accusing Bolivia of lacking “credibility and transparency” in the vote-counting process, and demanding that the “will of the Bolivian people is respected.” What a remarkable coincidence, indeed!

The U.S. is closely watching 1st round of elections in #Bolivia, especially the sudden interruption of the electronic vote tabulation.

Electoral authorities should immediately restore credibility & transparency to the process so that the will of the Bolivian people is respected. https://t.co/vDc1L4ffX3
— Michael G. Kozak (@WHAAsstSecty) October 21, 2019

Then there is Jhanisse Vaca Daza, a prominent Bolivian opposition activist who has been trained in the US by an outfit called the Center for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (CANVAS). Despite the innocuous-sounding name, this is a shadowy organization led by the former members of Otpor – a group crucial to the 2000 revolution in Serbia – turned professional revolutionaries working with the US Deep State around the globe.

It is worth noting that, while this racket has been extremely profitable for the CANVAS crew, most of their Otpor compatriots were less fortunate. The movement folded into a political party, and most of its members ended up disillusioned cogs in the political machine. Several even committed suicide, according to local media reports I have seen.

The “revolution” ended up delivering everything except democracy to Serbia, you see. Instead, it was saddled with a corrupt oligarchy and utterly meaningless elections, where votes are bought and sold and the dead vote with alarming regularity. Both the government and the opposition became agents of foreign powers, making the elections meaningless – what’s the use, when the US embassy ultimately decide who will be in charge? That’s no “democracy,” obviously.

If the coup in Bolivia is “democracy” then no wonder so many people in the global south hate that word. They associate it with empire and destruction. The term “democracy” as its used by the US and its media mouthpieces has no meaning.
— Rania Khalek (@RaniaKhalek) November 11, 2019

Is this what’s in store for Bolivia? It’s hard to tell, but for me the Serbian experience certainly makes it seem so. Color revolutions are astroturfed at their core, a malicious manipulation of genuine discontent, a big lie that poisons the well of the entire political system – perhaps permanently. Any country that has had to deal with one, whether successful or merely attempted, has emerged damaged in some way.

Media narratives play a decisive role in color revolutions. They are “a conflict between PR specialists of the government on one hand and the protest movement, or some foreign powers engaged on the other,” political scientist Mateusz Piskorski told RT in 2012.

There are layers of irony in that, given that Trump himself is engaged in a war of media narratives at home, against critics who are using the very same language of democracy and human rights to challenge his own legitimacy. They go so far as to call for the military to oust him from power – much as the Bolivian army just did Morales – all in the name of “our democracy,” of course.

That conversation, while worth having, is for another time. It is a cold comfort to the Bolivians, who now teeter on the precipice of a civil war.




White Helmets 'MI-6 Co-Founder' Found Dead In Turkey
by Tyler Durden
Tue, 11/12/2019 - 05:30

A former British army officer and military contractor who founded the shadowy 'White Helmets' has been found dead near his home in Istanbul, days after he was accused by Russia of being a spy with "connections to terrorist groups."

The body of 43-year-old James Le Mesurier was found Monday in the Beyoglu district of the city, with state-run Anadolu news agency reporting that he may have fallen to his death.

The Syrian Civil Defense family extends its deepest condolences to the James family, and we express our deepest sorrow and solidarity with his family. As we also must commend his humanitarian efforts which Syrians will always remember. pic.twitter.com/t8IvpIhyFV
— The White Helmets (@SyriaCivilDef) November 11, 2019

The White Helmets, a roughly 3,000 member NGO formally known as the Syrian Civil Defense, was established in Turkey in "late 2012 - early 2013" Le Mesurier trained an initial group of 20 Syrians. The group then received funding from Le Mesurier's Netherlands-based non-profit group, Mayday Rescue - which is in turn funded by grants from the Dutch, British, Danish and German governments.

According to reporter and author Max Blumenthal, the White Helmets received at least $55 million from the British Foreign Office and $23 million from the Agency for International Development. They have also received millions from Qatar, which has backed several extremist groups in Syria including Al Qaeda.

The US has provided at least $32 million to the group - around 1/3 of their total funding - through a USAID scheme orchestrated by the Obama State Department and routed overseas using a Washington D.C. contractor participating in USAID's Syria regional program, Chemonics.

According to their website, the White Helmets have been directly funded by Mayday Rescue, and a company called Chemonics, since 2014.

Yet there’s evidence that both of those organizations started supporting the White Helmets back in early 2013, right around the time the White Helmets claim to have formed as self-organized groups.

Mayday Rescue, as we said, is funded by the Dutch, British, Danish and German governments. And Chemonics?

They are a Washington, D.C. based contractor that was awarded $128.5 million in January 2013 to support “a peaceful transition to a democratic and stable Syria” as part of USAID’s Syria regional program. At least $32 million has been given directly to the White Helmets as of February 2018. -TruthInMedia

Notably, the Trump administration cut US funding to the White Helmets last May, placing them under "active review."

While the White Helmets tout themselves as 'first responders', the group has been accused of staging multiple chemical attacks - including an April 7 incident in Duma, Syria which the White House used as a pretext to bomb Syrian government facilities and bases.

Blumenthal writes, "When Defense Secretary James Mattis cited ‘social media’ in place of scientific evidence of a chemical attack in Duma, he was referring to video shot by members of the White Helmets. Similarly, when State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert sought to explain why the US bombed Syria before inspectors from the OPCW could produce a report from the ground, she claimed, ‘We have our own intelligence.’ With little else to offer, she was likely referring to social media material published by members of the White Helmets."

Days before Mesurier's death, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova claimed he was a "former agent of Britain's MI6, who had been spotted all around the world."

#Zakharova: The White Helmets’ co-founder, James Le Mesurier, is a former agent of Britain’s MI6, who has been spotted all around the world, including in the #Balkans and the #MiddleEast. His connections to terrorist groups were reported back during his mission in #Kosovo. pic.twitter.com/Fa7JTuP39Z
— MFA Russia 🇷🇺 (@mfa_russia) November 8, 2019

#Zakharova: The White Helmets stage provocations, help most dangerous terrorist groups and resist the counterterrorist efforts of the Syrian government assisted by other countries. They have planned and carried out a series of ruthless fake chemical attacks. #Syria #Russia pic.twitter.com/ePuiEsb558
— MFA Russia 🇷🇺 (@mfa_russia) November 8, 2019

Weeks after the Douma incident, Russian officials brought fifteen people to The Hague said to have been present, including 11-year-old Hassan Diab who was seen in a widely-distributed White Helmets video receiving "emergency treatment" in a local hospital after the alleged incident.

"We were at the basement and we heard people shouting that we needed to go to a hospital. We went through a tunnel. At the hospital they started pouring cold water on me," said Diab, who was featured in the video which Russia's ambassador to the Netherlands says was staged.

Others present during the filming of Diab's hospital "cleanup" by the White Helmets include hospital administrator Ahmad Kashoi, who runs the emergency ward.

“There were people unknown to us who were filming the emergency care, they were filming the chaos taking place inside, and were filming people being doused with water. The instruments they used to douse them with water were originally used to clean the floors actually,” Ahmad Kashoi, an administrator of the emergency ward, recalled. “That happened for about an hour, we provided help to them and sent them home. No one has died. No one suffered from chemical exposure.” -RT

Also speaking at The Hague was Halil al-Jaish, an emergency worker who treated people at the Douma hospital the day of the attack - who said that while some patients did come in for respiratory problems, they were attributed to heavy dust, present in the air after recent airstrikes, but that nobody showed signs of chemical warfare poisoning.

According to the governor's office in Istanbul, "comprehensive administrative and judicial investigations" have been initiated into Le Mesurier's death.

Perhaps he fell after an Assad operative spiked his tea with polonium, affecting his equilibrium. Whatever the case, it wouldn't surprise us if this becomes a pretext to 'liberate' Syria.

Narrative Managers In Overdrive After Death Of White Helmets Founder
Nov. 12, 2019
Caitlin Johnstone

James Le Mesurier, the founder of the White Helmets, has died. He was found to have plummeted from a height to the street outside his home, and authorities are reportedly calling it a suicide.

Le Mesurier has a history with British military intelligence and was fundamentally involved with an extremely shady narrative management operation geared toward manufacturing support for yet another imperialist military intervention in yet another Middle Eastern nation, so obviously any claims of suicide should be taken with a grain of salt no smaller than a Buick. But it is worth noting that according to Middle East Eye, Le Mesurier’s wife told police that he’d been struggling with psychological issues for which he was taking medications and had previously been hospitalized. Le Mesurier’s home was reportedly only accessible by fingerprint and no video footage of anyone besides Le Mesurier and his wife entering or leaving has been found.

Establishment narrative managers, for their part, have been floating the possibility that the White Helmets founder was murdered by the Russian government. The Washington Examiner has published an article titled “Did Russia kill White Helmets founder James Le Mesurier?”, calling to mind Betteridge’s law of headlines which states that “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.” The BBC’s Mark Urban tweeted out and then deleted a thread (screenshots here) in which he cites an anonymous source who claims to have known Le Mesurier’s flat well enough to be sure that it’s not possible to “fall” from his balcony, then meaningfully pointing to a “black propaganda campaign by Russia and Assad media” against Le Mesurier. He apparently didn’t consider the possibility of suicide until later, saying he deleted his thread due to “new information”.

For more info on Le Mesurier and his White Helmet mates, I highly recommend watching this excellent half-hour video by James Corbett. It’s full of primary-source video footage indisputably confirming the organization’s ties to western governments and to violent extremist factions in Syria, and explaining how an allegedly “neutral” organization on the ground has been used to control the narrative about what’s been happening in Syria.

Pundits who’ve built their name on Syria narrative management have been expressing grief over Le Mesurier’s death, including Eliot Higgins, Charles Lister, Julian Röpke and Oz Katerji. Katerji, an especially aggressive imperialism proponent, was particularly stricken, acknowledging that this pervasively corrupt operative was actually a dear friend of his.

“It is with a deeply heavy heart that I do this, but I can confirm my friend James Le Mesurier, founder of Mayday Rescue of White Helmets fame, died at his home in Istanbul last night,” Katerji tweeted.

“I am profoundly saddened by this, Jakes was a brave and decent man who saved countless lives. I will miss him. I am at a loss for words.”

Janine di Giovanni, who in 2016 authored a fawning puff piece on Le Mesurier and the White Helmets for Newsweek, tweeted,

“Terrible news. James was funny, smart, brave,committed. He stood up to bullies. On the right side of history. Believed in the White Helmets, their mission, their drive for good. A loss to humanity.”

Journalist Jonathan Cook criticized di Giovanni’s gushing hagiography, tweeting,

“This is what access journalism looks like: prize-winning war correspondents like Janine di Giovanni hanging out with ‘funny’ spooks like James Le Mesurier who’ve been responsible for stoking the very wars they report on — wars that have destroyed whole societies.”

On the death of James Le Mesurier, western governments' organiser of logistics support and propaganda for the fanatical jihadists in Syria, it is no surprise that today "Philip Cross" makes 48 edits to his Wikipedia page.https://t.co/qei9MnbgRC
— Craig Murray (@CraigMurrayOrg) November 11, 2019

Former UK ambassador Craig Murray has flagged the fact that Wikipedia’s imperialist narrative manager “Philip Cross” has made dozens of edits to Le Mesurier’s Wiki page since his death. Cross, who I’ve reported on previously, has made a more-than-full-time job of constantly managing the Wikipedia pages of both pro-establishment and anti-establishment media figures in a very pro-establishment slant; an article by Five Filters which you can read by clicking here documents how the “Philip Cross” account has been working morning to night with precisely zero days off toward this endeavor.

An article published by Murray last year documents the curious fact that although the serial Wikipedia editor had only about 200 followers on Twitter, he was followed by many high-profile narrative managers from huge British news media outlets like The Guardian, The Times and the BBC, as well as none other than James Le Mesurier himself.

Murray wrote at the time:

“Why then does James LeMesurier, founder of the ‘White Helmets’, follow Philip Cross on twitter? Why does ex-minister Tristram Hunt follow Philip Cross on Twitter? Why does Sarah Brown, wife of Gordon, follow Philip Cross on twitter? Why then do so the following corporate and state journalists follow ‘Philip Cross’ on twitter?”

To these questions I would add, why was Le Mesurier seen defending “Philip Cross” from someone voicing suspicion of him on Twitter after George Galloway offered a reward for information about the account? These questions have never been satisfactorily answered. And now this same account is frantically editing the Wikipedia page of his late fan James Le Mesurier. Some excerpts from the editing notes Cross has made to the page (note: according to Wikipedia, “RS” is short for Reliable Source):

not WH alone: “Unfounded conspiracy theories latched onto the White Helmets’ foreign funding and ties to Mr. Le Mesurier” and (earlier in the article) “who has been the target of repeated online disinformation campaigns”

Alternet is not considered RS, the article is by Max Blumenthal

this is the Assadist line which has no usable sources & should not be given undue credibility

rumour/conspiracy theory spread by non-RS

The article also has an editorial discussion section about whether or not it’s appropriate to have a “criticisms” section on the page, and how much any criticisms should be limited. Cross is of course intimately involved in this discussion as well.

There is an immense narrative management campaign dedicated to controlling what people think about what’s happening in Syria, aimed not solely at advancing the longstanding regime change agenda of the US-centralized empire but at protecting the credibility of the warmongering government and media institutions who the public is growing increasingly skeptical of in a post-Iraq invasion information age.

If people become doubtful in the propaganda machine which greases the gears of war, then warmongering itself will become impossible to carry out without waking the masses up from the narrative control matrix they’ve worked so hard to lull us into. Without endless war, the empire will crumble.

Whoever controls the narrative controls the world. Narrative control comes before any other priority the empire might have; before resources, before land, before even war itself. Our rulers and their goons will protect their ability to control the story of what’s happening tooth and claw. It’s up to us to see through their lies and bring an end to the lie factory.







Northern Syrian Oil Field Revenue Goes to SDF, Not US, Pentagon Claims
19:29 07.11.2019
by Tim Korso

Earlier, a report by the AP suggested that Washington could leave up to 800 troops to guard Syrian oil wells in Deir ez-Zor governorate, despite Russia slamming the US actions as "illegitimate".

Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Rath Hoffman has assured that the proceeds from the Syrian oil fields under its control would not go to the US, but to its Kurdish allies, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). He added that despite the US withdrawal from the country's north, announced in October, Washington continues to work with the SDF, providing them with the "ability and support" to fight Daesh*.

The Pentagon spokesman also stated that American commanders stationed near the oil fields in northern Syria have the right to defend themselves against other forces if these come under threat.
"Keeping the Oil" in Syria

Previously, AP reported, citing anonymous US officials, that the White House and Pentagon had decided to leave approximately 800 soldiers to protect the oil fields in the Arab Republic in an area stretching nearly 150 kilometres from Deir ez-Zor to al-Hasakah. According to earlier statements by Defence Secretary Mark Esper, the US will be "defending" them from Daesh* remnants, while US President Donald Trump was more ambiguous, simply saying that the US would be "keeping the oil".

The sources, speaking to the AP, stressed that it was still unclear to what extent US servicemen would go to fend off Russian or Syrian forces if they decide to return control over the oil wells to their rightful owner, Damascus. Moscow previously condemned the US move to establish a military presence near Syria’s oil fields as "illegitimate" and called for them to be turned over to the Syrian government.

At the same time, the Syrian Army reclaimed one of the oil fields in the country's northeast, near the city of Qamishli, on 5 November, after losing control over it several years ago, according to a SANA news agency report.

US doesn’t hide it’s in Syria for oil, uses revenues to fund terrorism – Turkish FM
9 Nov, 2019 13:34

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has accused the United States of breaking international law by taking control of oil fields in eastern Syria. “They openly admit that they are there for the oil reserves,” the diplomat said as cited by Anadolu news agency.

Cavusoglu said it was outrageous that the US was using revenues from the oil, which belongs to the Syrian people, to fund Kurdish militias. Ankara considers the YPG forces a terrorist group. The remarks were made during a joint press conference with Hadi Soleimanpour, the Secretary General of the Economic Cooperation Organization, a regional intergovernmental organization.

NATOは脳死 マクロン・フランス大統領



NATO’s ‘free-rider problem’: Macron wants independent Europe, but ‘it’s not something he can change JUST LIKE THAT’
7 Nov, 2019 13:53

By calling NATO brain-dead and criticizing the US’ role in the alliance, Emmanuel Macron has shown a desire for European military independence but the political reality works against his will, analyst John Laughland told RT.

“Macron is very confused, like many European leaders. He wants things which are incompatible,” Laughland told RT.

He is naturally disposed to be pro-American. He comes from the Atlanticist elite of France. But he is horrified of Trump.

The French leader earlier told the Economist that NATO is experiencing “brain death,” as member states cannot fully rely on the US to follow the bloc’s collective interests, and Europe needs to regain military sovereignty to fix that.

“The words Macron is using are interesting but I don’t understand how he expects to implement them,” Laughland said, noting that Macron has to deal with too many obstacles in order to achieve tangible military independence from Washington.

“NATO is a legal and political reality. There are American bases all over Germany, Britain and Italy. What is Macron going to do about them? The physical presence of the bases is itself an expression of Europe’s lack of independence. It’s not something you can change just like that.”

Another hurdle standing in the way of the French president’s ideas is the fact that the diminished state of the armies of Europe is “completely inadequate” for independent posturing, the analyst argued.

Talking to the Economist, Macron lamented US President Donald Trump’s abrupt decision to pull American troops from Kurdish-populated areas in northern Syria in the wake of a Turkish invasion last month. Trump ostensibly did this without consulting with other NATO countries.

Laughland believes the way the bloc was built may have prompted Turkey to act so forcefully in Syria in the first place.

Like all permanent alliances, NATO creates the ‘problem of the free rider,’ or ‘the problem of the free lunch.’

“When you have a permanent alliance, it can create irresponsibility among its members because they think they can act with the unconditional backing of NATO. Turkey thinks it can do what it likes because it thinks it has NATO behind it.”


トルコ・イラク国境に近いハサケ県北西奥にあるアル・ジャワーディーイェal-Jawadiyah郊外ダイル・グスンDair Ghusn (Darna Agha)を通過しているトルコ軍の車列に、地元住民の子供たちが集団で投石。おばちゃんも負けじと参戦。




ASEAN首脳がことごとく米国要人との会談をキャンセル 相手にせず



Washington ‘Extremely Concerned’ as Majority of ASEAN Leaders Skip US Summit Over Trump’s No-Show
13:20 04.11.2019

President Trump did not attend this year’s Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit in Bangkok, Thailand, with the US represented instead by his national security advisor, Robert O’Brien.

A US diplomat has voiced Washington's 'extreme' concern over the move by the majority of ASEAN's leaders not to personally attend a special ASEAN-US summit on Monday.

“We are extremely concerned by the apparent decision,” the diplomat said, commenting on the snub, his remarks quoted by Kyodo News.

“A full or partial boycott by ASEAN leaders will be seen as an intentional effort to embarrass the President of the United States of America and this will be very damaging to the substance of the ASEAN-US relations,” the diplomat added.

The heads of state and government of seven of ASEAN’s ten members moved to skip the ASEAN-US Summit slated to take place on Monday.

The leaders of Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Cambodia, Myanmar and the Philippines downgraded their representation at Monday’s summit with the US by sending only their foreign ministers, with only a ‘troika’ comprising the prime ministers of Thailand, Vietnam and Laos showing up to the meeting with O’Brien.

The demonstrative decision was made on Friday, according to diplomatic sources cited by Kyodo News.

#AseanSummit : Today’s agenda includes the plenary of 35th ASEAN Summit, and meetings of the ASEAN Political Security Community Council and ASEAN Coordinating Council, among others. Check the meeting schedule on: https://t.co/sLVReZHQIw pic.twitter.com/yPsBABuha1
— ASEAN (@ASEAN) 2 ноября 2019 г.

The downgraded presence appeared to be tied to President Trump’s decision not to personally attend the ASEAN Leaders Summit and East Asian Summit in Bangkok on November 2-4, and not to send the vice president or the secretary of state in his place.

An ASEAN source confirmed to Kyodo News that the bloc of nations was “upset with US President Trump who decided to skip the meeting,” adding that the view was that Trump “should at least send a representative who is in the cabinet. Such a gesture may set a bad example for other dialogue partners in the future.”

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross did travel to Bangkok along with O’Brien, where he said that the Trump administration was “extremely engaged in and fully committed to this region.”

This was the second year in a row that Trump has failed to show up at the annual gathering of Southeast Asian nations. Last year, Vice President Mike Pence attended the 33rd ASEAN Summit in Singapore. Trump attended the summit in Manila, the Philippines in 2017.

Late last week, following reports that Trump would not attend the Bangkok Summit, Panitan Wattanayagorn, chairman of the security advisory committee for Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, told the Bangkok Post that there were a number of possible reasons for Trump to skip summits.

“President Trump’s participation [in summits] is complicated, and have many times in the past ended in a confrontation,” Panitan explained.




10/31(木) 11:00配信






国連、ウイグル問題で攻防 欧米日本など23カ国「拘束停止を」 中国支持派は54カ国


国連、ウイグル問題で攻防 欧米日本など23カ国「拘束停止を」 中国支持派は54カ国
10/30(水) 14:29配信










Orthodox priests from Western Europe rejoin Russian Church after breaking from Constantinople
3 Nov, 2019 07:42

The Archdiocese of Russian Orthodox churches in Western Europe has officially returned to the Moscow Patriarchate’s domain after defying an order from its rival Constantinople to dissolve.

Russia’s Patriarch Kirill presented the unity charter to Archbishop John (Renneteau) during a ceremony at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, the Moscow’s Patriarchate’s largest church. John, who shall remain in charge of the Western European parishes, was previously given the title ‘Archbishop of Dubna’.

The exarchate, known as the Archdiocese of Russian Orthodox churches in Western Europe (AROCWE), was first formed by Russian emigrants – priests and faithful – who fled their homeland during the bloody civil war and chaos, which erupted shortly after the 1917 Revolution.

The Western European parishes that fell under the control of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople were united into a single entity back in 1931. At the very end of the 20th century, it was given vast autonomy by Constantinople which it enjoyed until recently.

Late in 2018, Constantinople abruptly reversed its own decision, revoking the autonomy and dissolving the AROCWE altogether. They argued that the reorganization would strengthen the archdiocese’s loyalty and ties to its “mother church.” The move backfired almost immediately when the AROCWE flatly ignored the orders from Constantinople, deciding to remain a united entity and ultimately seeking to rejoin the Moscow Patriarchate.

Back in September, the majority of parishes, governed by Archbishop John, voted for joining the Moscow Patriarchate. Still, they fell short of getting the two thirds of votes required to win – but Archbishop John decided to go for it anyway, calling upon the parishes to follow his lead. Those who are staunchly opposed to re-establishing a canonical link with Moscow are expected to fall under the governance of several metropolitans subordinate to Constantinople.

The decision was welcomed by Patriarch Kirill, who accepted Archbishop John’s offer. It came amid strained ties between the Russian Orthodox Church and Constantinople.
Also on rt.com Orthodox schism: Priests in Western Europe reject Constantinople, side with Moscow

Last year, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew decided to recognize a new self-styled schismatic Ukrainian Church, granting it “independence” – that turned out to be full dependence on Constantinople instead.

This decision interfered with the traditional sphere of influence of the Russian Patriarchate, violating the centuries-old principle of non-involvement in each others’ affairs, observed by different Orthodox Churches. After having re-joined Moscow’s realm, the Western European parishes – now under the newly formed Archdiocese of Western European parishes of Moscow Patriarchate – will retain their broad autonomy, as well as local liturgical and pastoral traditions.