Regime Change Posers


The following are excerpts from Posing as a non-political solidarity organization, the Syria Campaign leverages local partners and media contacts to push the U.S. into toppling another Middle Eastern government. I added the pictures.

By Max Blumenthal / AlterNet
October 3, 2016 (This is background. Note the date!)

On September 30, demonstrators gathered in city squares across the West for a “weekend of action” to “stop the bombs” raining down from Syrian government and Russian warplanes on rebel-held eastern Aleppo. Thousands joined the protests (but) few participants likely knew that the actions were organized under the auspices of an opposition-funded public relations company called the Syria Campaign. …

Interpretation on konflikt in Syria. The fired cases and bullets from rifle. Background view on section area of Aleppo, Syria.

By partnering with local groups like the Syrian civil defense workers popularly known as the White Helmets, and through a vast network of connections in media and centers of political influence, The Syria Campaign has played a crucial role in disseminating images and stories of the horrors visited this month (Oct 2016) on eastern Aleppo.

The group is able to operate within the halls of power in Washington and has the power to mobilize thousands of demonstrators into the streets. Despite its outsized role in shaping how the West sees Syria’s civil war … this outfit remains virtually unknown to the general public.

The Syria Campaign presents itself as an impartial, non-political voice for ordinary Syrian citizens … Yet behind the lofty rhetoric … is an agenda that aligns closely with the forces from Riyadh to Washington clamoring for regime change. …

The Syria Campaign has been careful to cloak interventionism in the liberal-friendly language of human rights, casting Western military action as “the best way to support Syrian refugees,” and packaging a no-fly zone (NFZ) — along with so-called safe zones and no bombing zones, which would also require Western military enforcement — as a “way to protect civilians and defeat ISIS.” … There is no record of a no-fly zone being imposed without regime change following … .

Among The Syria Campaign’s most prominent vehicles for promoting military intervention is a self-proclaimed “unarmed and impartial” civil defense group known as the White Helmets. Footage of the (White Helmets) saving civilians trapped in the rubble of buildings bombed by the Syrian government and its Russian ally has become ubiquitous in coverage of the crisis. Having claimed to have saved tens of thousands of lives, the group has become a leading resource for journalists and human rights groups …

Stormtrooper, Star Wars, Lego, Storm

Who are these guys, really?

But like The Syria Campaign, the White Helmets are anything but impartial. Indeed, the group was founded in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Office of Transitional Initiatives, an explicitly political wing of the agency that has funded efforts at political subversion in Cuba and Venezuela. USAID is the White Helmets’ principal funder, committing at least $23 million to the group since 2013. This money was part of $339.6 million budgeted by USAID for “supporting activities that pursue a peaceful transition to a democratic and stable Syria” — or establishing a parallel governing structure that could fill the power vacuum once Bashar Al-Assad was removed.

Thanks to an aggressive public relations push by The Syria Campaign, the White Helmets have been nominated for the Nobel Prize (haha … reminds me of some other nominees and recipients). …  At the same time, the White Helmets are pushing for a NFZ in public appearances and on a website created by The Syria Campaign. …

Making the White Helmets into an international sensation is just one of a series of successes The Syria Campaign has achieved in its drive to oust Syria’s government.

When an aid convoy … came under attack on its way to the rebel-held countryside of West Aleppo in Syria this September 18, the White Helmets pinned blame squarely on the Syrian and Russian governments. In fact, a White Helmets member was among the first civilians to appear on camera at the scene of the attack, declaring in English that “the regime helicopters targeted this place with four barrel [bombs].” The White Helmets also produced one of the major pieces of evidence Western journalists have relied on to implicate Russia and the Syrian government in the attack: a photograph supposedly depicting the tail fragment of a Russian-made OFAB 250-270 fragmentation bomb. (This account remains unconfirmed by both the UN and SARC, and no evidence of barrel bombs has been produced).

Ironically, the White Helmets figured prominently in The Syria Campaign’s push to undermine the UN’s humanitarian work inside Syria. For months, The Syria Campaign has painted the UN as a stooge of Bashar Al-Assad for coordinating its aid deliveries with the Syrian government, as it has done with governments in conflict zones around the world. … . Among the opposition groups that promoted The Syria Campaign’s anti-UN report was Ahrar Al-Sham, a jihadist rebel faction that has allied with Al Qaeda in a mission to establish an exclusively Islamic state across Syria.

A Westerner who operates a politically neutral humanitarian NGO in Damascus offered me a withering assessment of The Syria Campaign’s attacks on the UN. … The source accused The Syria Campaign of “dividing and polarizing the humanitarian community” along political lines while forcing humanitarian entities to “make decisions based on potential media repercussions instead of focusing on actual needs on the ground.”

The NGO executive went on to accuse The Syria Campaign and its partners in the opposition of “progressively identifying the humanitarian workers operating from Damascus with one party to the conflict,” limiting their ability to negotiate access to rebel-held territory. “As a humanitarian worker myself,” they explained, “I know that this puts me and my teams in great danger since it legitimizes warring factions treating you as an extension of one party in the conflict. …

Despite The Syria Campaign’s influence on the international media stage, details on the outfit’s inner workings are difficult to come by. … Looming over this opaque operation are questions about its connections to Avaaz, a global public relations outfit that played an instrumental role in generating support for a no-fly zone in Libya, and The Syria Campaign’s founding by Purpose, another PR firm spun out of Avaaz. …

Purpose’s original job listing for its Syrian Voices project boasted that “Purpose grew out of some of the most impactful new models for social change” including “the now 30 million strong action network avaaz.org.” In fact, The Syria Campaign’s founder, Purpose co-founder Jeremy Heimans, was also one of the original founders of Avaaz. As he told Forbes, “I co-founded Avaaz and [the Australian activist group] Get Up, which inspired the creation of Purpose.” …

The New York- and London-based public relations firm Purpose promises to deliver creatively executed campaigns that produce either a “behavior change,” “perception change,” “policy change” or “infrastructure change.” As the Syrian conflict entered its third year, this company was ready to effect a regime change.

(In the winter of 2014, a) Purpose staffer named Ali Weiner posted a job listing seeking a paid intern for the PR firm’s new Syrian Voices project. “Together with Syrians in the diaspora and NGO partners,” Weiner wrote, “Purpose is building a movement that will amplify the voices of moderate, non-violent Syrians and mobilize people in the Middle East and around the world to call for specific changes in the political and humanitarian situation in the region.” She explained that the staffer would report “to a Strategist based primarily in London, but will work closely with the Purpose teams in both London and New York.”

On June 16, 2014, Purpose founder Jeremy Heimans drafted articles of association for The Syria Campaign’s parent company … called the Voices Project … . Along with Heimans, Purpose Europe director Tim Dixon was appointed to The Syria Campaign’s board of directors. So was John Jackson, a Purpose strategist who previously co-directed the Burma Campaign U.K. that lobbied the EU for sanctions against that country’s ruling regime. … Anna Nolan, the senior strategist at Purpose, …  became The Syria Campaign’s project director, even as she remained listed as the strategy director at Purpose.

“Purpose is not involved in what we do,” The Syria Campaign’s Sadri told me. …

Funding a “credible transition” …

Though The Syria Campaign claims to “refuse funding from any party to the conflict in Syria,” it was founded and is sustained with generous financial assistance from one of the most influential exile figures of the opposition, Ayman Asfari, the U.K.-based CEO of the British oil and gas supply company Petrofac Limited. …

Through his Asfari Foundation, he has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to The Syria Campaign and has secured a seat for his wife, Sawsan, on its board of directors. He has also been a top financial and political supporter of the Syrian National Coalition, the largest government-in-exile group set up after the Syrian revolt began. The group is dead-set on removing Assad and replacing him with one of its own. …

In London, Asfari has been a major donor to former British Prime Minister David Cameron and his Conservative Party. This May, Cameron keynoted a fundraiser for the Hands Up for Syria Appeal, a charity heavily supported by Asfari that sponsors education for Syrian children living in refugee camps. …

In Washington, Asfari is regarded as an important liaison to the Syrian opposition. …

The Independent has described Asfari as one among of a pantheon of “super rich” exiles poised to rebuild a post-Assad Syria — and to reap handsome contracts in the process. To reach his goal of returning to Syria in triumph after the downfall of Assad’s government, Asfari not only provided the seed money for The Syria Campaign, he has helped sustain the group with hefty donations. … According to (The Syria Campain’s media lead, Laila Kiki), the Rockefeller Brothers Fund also contributed $120,000 to the outfit’s $800,000 budget this year. “The rest of the funds come from donors who wish to remain anonymous,” she explained.

Shaping the message

Among The Syria Campaign’s main priorities, for which it has apparently budgeted a substantial amount of resources, is moving Western media in a more interventionist direction. …

Source

In Part II: How the U.S.-funded White Helmets rescue civilians from Syrian and Russian bombs while lobbying for the U.S. military to step up its own bombing campaign.

See Also:

Terrorist confesses to Staging Syrian Gas Attack

Chemical Weapons Expert on Syrian Gas Attacks

Regime-change Posers

Greater Israel, Gooey in the Middle

Will the Saudi’s Invade Syria? (Feb, 2016)

Christ Returns to Mt. Seir

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Biding my time in central ms ... yours too, if ur reading this.
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