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Framing Syria

Written By: - Date published: 5:34 pm, April 12th, 2017 - 48 comments
Categories: International, journalism, Media, Politics, Syria, war - Tags: , , ,

Maybe when the bell is cracked and just clanks ugly, it might be that it doesn’t bring so many of the faithful to their knees as when it rang true. Some people stay standing. In the case of Syria, it seems a lot of people are standing – harbouring doubts and experiencing confusion – while media yank on those bell ropes ever more vigourously, maybe hoping the resulting cacophony will bring on some form of supplication. .

If you’re one of those many people who aren’t bending at the knee, but who feels a bit out of their depth in relation to what the hell is going on in Syria, then the following analogy might help.

Imagine it’s 1941 and the Third Reich is invading the USSR on the eastern front. In a bit of revisionist history, we’re going to imagine that Italian troops are right there with the Germans. And we’re also going to assume that the Allies refrained from entering into any uncomfortable alliance with the USSR in order to fight fascism, but instead stuck to their pre-war aim of removing the USSR from the world map.

In this scenario, the Allies decide that the Italian troops are “good” fascists, and so they provide them huge amounts of logistical and material support to, they hope, usurp “bad” fascism, but also, obviously, to bring the USSR to its knees.

In England and elsewhere, almost all news from the eastern front comes by way of reports compiled by these “good” fascists,  reports that the BBC and other media pick up and disseminate uncritically.

Now if that sounds ‘crazy nuts’ and not something that could ever possibly happen….well, it does broadly reflect the situation that confronts us in Syria today.

Today, the fictitious USSR of 1941 is the real Syria, and the fascists of ’41 are today’s headchoppers.

The poster boys of the “good” headchoppers are the White Helmets of course – created in the UK and funded by the UK and US to the tune of some $US100 000 000 – one hundred million dollars US.

If you prefer your comprehension of the world to be nourished by spoonfed information, then put that aside along with the fact that White Helmet employees (and yes, they are paid employees) have celebrated on the streets alongside other headchoppers; have been present at summary executions; participated in meting out public punishments; have carried out executions; have stood atop bodies on the back of lorries giving V for Victory signs; have used dead babies as props in their videos; have been exposed over and over again for producing utterly fictitious videos; are in bed with Islamic State … (go to 7min 40sec in the linked video of this John Cantlie report for that little doozy)… but hey, maybe it’s for the best to forget all of that and keep the faith.

These are “good” headchoppers.

And as we know, they and their mates have a lot of western media penetration at their disposal.

On media penetration, or more accurately accessibility, it can be kind of interesting to click on the attributions beside Syrian photographs published in western outlets these days. Those photographers that work through Reuters have ‘home pages’ on Reuters’ main site where you can view all of their photographs and trace back to when they first began working for or through the agency. Those who are headchoppers kind of stick out by the fact that their photographs are pretty damned awful (bird on a stick type compositions) and by the fact they only picked up work post 2011. (Reuters only takes on a handful of photographers from all around the world in any given year and competition is meant to be kind of intense. But I guess contacts in high places would help?)

So how did they pull it off – these headchoppers? Well, if you go back to May of last year, you can read that for yourself in a report published by The Guardian where they lay out, off the back of contracts they accessed how…

Contractors hired by the Foreign Office but overseen by the Ministry of Defense (MoD) produce videos, photos, military reports, radio broadcasts, print products and social media posts branded with the logos of fighting groups, and effectively run a press office for opposition fighters.

And the reason?

Contract documents seen by the Guardian show the government appears to view the project as a way to maintain a foothold in the country until there can be greater British military involvement, offering “the capability to expand back into the strategic space as and when the opportunity arises”.

48 comments on “Framing Syria”

  1. dukeofurl 1

    It was only a small step from having ‘pesky embedded journalists’ for military operations to the government creating their own journalists to create outputs to suit the political leaders.
    I suppose in a sense it was allways thus. People like Stephenson were a rareity.

    Unfortunately the people of Syria are just pawns in the Sunni-States/ Western governments manipulations.

  2. the rockape 2

    “Imagine it’s 1941 and the Third Reich is invading the USSR on the eastern front. In a bit of revisionist history, we’re going to imagine that Italian troops are right there with the Germans. And we’re also going to assume that the Allies refrained from entering into any uncomfortable alliance with the USSR in order to fight fascism, but instead stuck to their pre-war aim of removing the USSR from the world map.
    In this scenario, the Allies decide that the Italian troops are “good” fascists, and so they provide them huge amounts of logistical and material support to, they hope, usurp “bad” fascism, but also, obviously, to bring the USSR to its knees.
    In England and elsewhere, almost all news from the eastern front comes by way of reports compiled by these “good” fascists,  reports that the BBC and other media pick up and disseminate uncritically.”

    If England and France didn’t go into bat for Poland and Hitler didn’t invade the Low Counties and Northern France this might have actually happen. Having read Mein Kampf and a few other books on this subject. Hitler was planning on the UK and the US to support him on his conquest of the East, but the elephant in room was Japan.

    Bill, I sent you guys some stuff on the Syrian gas attack, can you please confirm you guys have got? As it was bounce back to me.

    [Sorry. I don;t have access to submitted guest posts. so can’t say either way. I’ve removed your email address portion of your name. You probably don’t want that out in public] – Bill

    • the rockape 2.1

      Bill, it was for Anthony in regards to his posts on the Syrian posts. Good god i’m have some major connection/ computers issues at my end can you please remove my name as well. So sorry

    • johnm 3.1

      RaveN2 days ago
      Why the fuck would anyone believe that Assad, who was in the final stages of the war, had good international relations and was about to clean out ISIS would just all of the sudden gas a bunch of his own people. What the fuck is wrong with people, surely [deleted] brainwashing cant be THIS bad as to rob people of basic fucking common sense.

      [Couple of things. That deleted shit was entirely unnecessary and wrong on many levels. Throw it around here again and you’ll get banned. Neither is the post about the alleged gas attack of the other day. It is about how things in Syria might be helpfully or usefully framed.] – Bill

      • dukeofurl 3.1.1

        Its no coincidence jm, that just after Trump changes the US policy to removing Assad isnt a priority.
        “The US representative to the United Nations has said that the US is no longer prioritising the removal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad”. March 30
        http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-39450570

        Now hes launching a missile strike directed at Assad and has done a complete reversal
        “Trump, Tillerson suggest Assad should be removed, in apparent reversal”
        http://www.cnbc.com/2017/04/06/trump-tillerson-suggest-assad-should-be-removed-in-apparent-reversal.html

        And as Bill has pointed out, the White Helmets- which Im thinking are really just a syrian branch of UK MI6/SIS- have the most absurd propaganda from the usual western mouth pieces

        Enter the White Helmets. Ordinary Syrians emerged from the dust that hangs over the rubble of cities like Aleppo, double-­timing it into some of the most dangerous places on earth to do what the world has refused to do—save Syrian lives.
        http://time.com/syria-white-helmets/

        Of course in Syria there arent any good guys like the western media need to frame their stories,

      • Psycho Milt 3.1.2

        Why the fuck would anyone believe that Assad, who was in the final stages of the war, had good international relations and was about to clean out ISIS would just all of the sudden gas a bunch of his own people.

        Why the fuck would anyone believe that Assad, whose army has taken heavy casualties and is in poor shape for further offensives, might just opt for chemical warfare to clear a path to Idlib rather than committing his exhausted ground troops? Er, because that’s what the available evidence points to. But, whatever floats your boat.

        [To reiterate and expand slightly on what I entered as a moderators note on that comment you’re replying to. The post is about the relationship some western governments have with headchoppers and also about the source of much of our news from the region. It is not about any chemical attack. Please stick to the topic of the post in any further comments. Cheers] – Bill

  3. Skeptic 4

    From what I’ve seen and read in various publications the situation in Syria is nowhere near as clear cut as you analogy suggests.
    Correct me if I’m wrong, but you seem to suggest that the only Rebel Faction is ISIS. That’s not true.
    While it was somewhat simplified, BBC did a reasonably close approximation of the territorial divisions as they stand now. Assad hold sway over the SW quarter with a corridor extending east towards Iraq. ISIS are positioned towards the SE of Syria alongside the territory it controls in Iraq. The Kurds hold a large portion of the NE sector of Syria and clash with both ISIS and Assad’s forces. Other Rebel Forces hold sway over a smaller sector positioned in the NW corner of Syria.
    This last sector is where the MSF (Doctors without Borders) and several news outlets from different countries saw and reported the chemical attacks by Syrian/Assad’s jet aircraft.
    Who exactly are you suggesting are the “Headchoppers” referred to? If it’s ISIS, yes they are, but they weren’t the recipients of the chemical attacks; the rebels in the NW sector were.
    I think your analogy is somewhat in error if you’re suggesting that all the “Rebels” are a single group. Here in NZ there is an expat Syrian community, a large proportion of whom have ties and sympathies with the rebels in the NW enclave, and who intensely dislike ISIS as much as they dislike Assad.
    If we wish to hear first hand accounts of this conflict, I can think of no better source than those living here in NZ. I certainly view with suspicion anything emanating from Russia who are past masters at misinformation and disinformation.
    If I’ve read the argument of your article correctly, you seem to be warning that a potential conflict involving USA and Russia is being “manufactured” to position an “us vs them” syndrome.
    I prefer Occam’s Razor.

    • Bill 4.1

      Hi Skeptic.

      The analogy leaves out a host of actors – the Rojavans, the Iraqi Kurds, the Turks, the Russians.

      There are countless Jihadist groups, and it is those I’m signposting. The governments of the UK and US and France (as well as others) are in bed with some of those groups, and yet they are all headchoppers.

      That’s the only relationship the post is attempting to explain. The one between some western governments and headchoppers.

      • Skeptic 4.1.1

        From what I’ve read in various papers, periodicals and journals (courtesy of UOC) the rebels that are victims of the chemical attack are the same rebels who started their demand for greater democracy during the “Arab Spring” uprisings in the early years of this decade. While I might agree that ISIS are “headchoppers”, I certainly find fault with labeling all rebels with that tag.
        If by that definition you mean those who executed their prisoners in a particularly brutal manner – slow decapitation with various knives and swords – then this is a particular trait of ISIS. Without documentary proof it is quite incorrect to label all rebel groups similarly. This is of course the disinformation emanating from Damascus and Moscow.
        I’m old enough to remember the atrocities of the Nazis and how the depths of their depravities were gradually revealed over the decades following the end of WWII – in fact some were not revealed until the late 1990s (e.g. the secret recordings of German POW officers boasting of their participation in round-ups in conquered USSR territory and subsequent murder squads – proving that the SS were not alone in these war crimes). I am familiar with the disinformation put out during the same decades by pro-Nazi/neo-Nazi groups. I am also familiar with the similar disinformation put out by the USSR and PRC covering up then revealing the gulags, the “great leap forward”, the “cultural revolution” etc.
        All of the techniques used are oh so familiar that they fall into a pattern. There is the exact same thing going on here from Putin and Assad – straight out disinformation. The story of “white helmets” is one such lie. The problem is that not nearly enough people blogging today are sufficiently sophisticated to recognise that they’ve been had. They are in fact contributors to the disinformation campaign – albeit unwitting ones. Just like spies, disinformation spreaders can be witting – i.e. fully knowledgeable about the lies they’re spreading, or unwitting – i.e. unknowingly spreading disinformation because the story fits in with their particular world view/ political viewpoint etc.
        I have to ask, Bill, which category do you fit into? I ask because the article repeats well known disinformation put out from Moscow through SVR sources.

        • Bill 4.1.1.1

          This is a quote from the intro to the post. (From your comments I have no idea why you thought it didn’t apply to you)

          If you’re determined to believe that western liberal democracy is essentially benign and only ever makes mistakes and honest mis-judgements, or is something that’s sometimes marred by an odd ‘bad apple’ or two, then this post on Syria probably isn’t the post for you.

          This from a moderation note.

          The post is about the relationship some western governments have with headchoppers and also about the source of much of our news from the region.

          There are seven links in the post. None are from any source that some liberals like to dismiss as “fake news” sources. Most are video links that provide striking and incontrovertible back up to points made in the post.

          This once, and only this once, you get away with going way off topic, being dishonest about what I’ve written and attacking me as an author in lieu of addressing the topic of the post.

          • Skeptic 4.1.1.1.1

            Okay – point taken about off topic. In explanation, you’ll see from most of my comments on other matters, I’m way left of centre, but – and it’s a big but – in matters of International Relations, I defer to my tutors at Varsity.

            International Relations are totally different from domestic politics and political theory. The actors are different and behave in a totally different manner. There’s a vast difference also between actors depending on their degree of democracy.

            Here a knowledge of history is the guideline and filter – and yes there’s revisionist history and revised from recent disclosure history and a few other animals as well. But by and large, most history up till the end of the 20th is pretty factual and unarguable.

            This is pertinent to the topic because gas attacks were outlawed after WWI, and haven’t been used by democracies since. The Nazis used gas in death camps and US used Agent Orange in Vietnam (so did a few other nations during their decolonisation wars), which explains why a particularly strong nerve was struck when Assad did it twice. Not just to me, but to others of my generation – we well remember the use of Zyclon-B and vowed “never again”. Has the next generation the guts to live up to that promise – I have my doubts after reading this.

            • Bill 4.1.1.1.1.1

              Studied international relations. Found the bulk of tutors and lecturers were far too conservative and, well…basically apologists for western colonialism/adventurism. But maybe your Uni has a better department than the one I suffered. (I eventually discovered that the Anthropology Dept was far more critical and in-depth with their analyses)

              • Skeptic

                Yep, had the same thing until Jim Ockey from USA – an anthropologist – added to the mix. Comparative Pols was easier, but IR dates to Machiavelli (and somewhat before), but as a History minor I was better able to put the IR theories into perspective – also did a few INCO (interdisciplinary) courses to further get “the other side of things”. Taught you to be much more critical of sources and really only trust primes – and to be very skeptical of URLs. There’s a fairly large and divergent range of theories which doesn’t help either – no one size fits all in IR.

  4. Grafton Gully 5

    “We’re going to Imagine that Italian troops are right there with the Germans”

    http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/revealed-the-tragic-story-the-italian-army-froze-death-18497

  5. Rightly or Wrongly 6

    I don’t think things in Syria will improve until the Syrian people want it to.

    As far as I am concerned Assad/ISIS/Opposition groups are all as bad as each other.

    The civilian population isn’t exactly innocent either – as we can see with what is happening in Europe many of the refugees are abusing the good generosity of their host countries and are trying to turn Europe into the same cultural dysfunction that is in Syria.

    As for an answer?? I can only see three possible scenarios:

    1 The civil war drags on until one of the groups fighting gains the ascendancy and replaces Assad as a dominant dictatorship.

    2 The civil war drags on – no groups gains the ascendancy and Syria turns into a glorified Lebanon – each warlord has his own territory.

    3 The US/Coalition basically repeats what they did in Iraq – at great expense and cost of tears, blood, and lives.

    I’m not sure if any of these options are desirable – I am not even sure if the Syrian population at large knows or wants to live at peace – just not part of their culture.

    • Bill 6.1

      Whatever you might think, leave out the racist tropes, eh? ( Living in peace “not part of their culture” 🙄 )

  6. reason 7

    Your right Skeptic ……………. the main head choppers in Syria are Al Qaeda affiliated …

    They go by the name of Al nusra …… so people dont get hung up with airliners flying into Twin towers baggage ….. or embassy bombings …. truck bombs …. car bombs …. decapitations ……….. and other things that go with extremist jihad terrorist clubs.

    Obama thought these fine folks needed weapons to help with the cause … So like Nike … he just did it ….. Whoosh https://shadowproof.com/2013/09/17/obama-bypasses-terrorism-rule-to-give-weapons-to-syrian-rebels/

    I tend to think that the u.s.a ( backed by the media )…….., which has lied about EVERY war they have started ……….

    Is probably doing it again .

    http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2014/05/america-switched-sides-now-backs-al-qaeda-nazis.html

    • Skeptic 7.1

      There is a difference between the “Fundamentalist Islamic” rebels – ISIS, AQ, and various others – who are largely situated in the SE region of Syria bordering Iraq – and the rebels holding the enclave in the NW of Syria. Assad and Russia are targeting the latter groups using chemical weapons. Those groups include most of the democracy seekers who tried to effect change through protest during the “Arab Spring” uprisings and have very little – if noting to do with the fundamentalists.
      If this difference is not made clear to those commenting here, then this site has become yet another tool for Russian/Assad disinformation – see my earlier post.
      I would suggest that those posting URL links – especially blog links – check, double-check and triple check these, because this is a classic disinformation campaign using such tactics. Remember those 30,000 paid Russian trolls the FBI has identified – along with a goodly number of the offending ISP – the ones who they now think infiltrated the US election and are trying to do the same in France – well guess what’s among their other tasks? It’s not rocket science is it?
      The question is – do we at The Standard become unwitting tools of theirs?

      • dukeofurl 7.1.1

        Maybe you would like to tell us the outside support for the rebel groups in Syria has included the US on the sly- bring weapons from Libya through Turkey and into Syria. Is that another thing those ‘Putin trolls’ were able to conjure up?
        There is the history of the US ‘evidence’ for chemical weapons in the middle east, which doesnt inspire confidence over the US version of events.

        Even Flynn a while back wasnt sure sure about a previous 2013 sarin attack

        “During a 2015 trip to Russia, Donald Trump’s pick to be national security adviser, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, said he didn’t know whether the 2013 sarin gas attack in Syria was conducted by the Syrian Army or by other forces in an attempt to draw the United States into the conflict.”
        Thats when ( 2013 attack) hes was still Director of Defense Intelligence Agency.
        http://edition.cnn.com/2016/11/20/politics/kfile-michael-flynn-rt-syria/

        To me he was being honest and saying that no one really knew what side was doing what.

        • Bill 7.1.1.1

          For your info dof, this way off-topic meandering has been ended. Skeptic’s reply to this comment has been shunted to open mike. If you can be bothered pursuing the argument, then please feel free to do it. But over there. (Link)

      • reason 7.1.2

        You do a good job of regurgitating the western propaganda and being a tool of those who supply the money, weapons and foreign Jihadist fighters ….. without which the Proxy war in Syria would have ended long ago.

        So your a tool for extending the war ……

        Others may be interested in learning about the propaganda sources and what is really happening with all these wars and killing.

        They lied about Afghanistan ( for over 30 years now ) ….New Zealand is killing three year old children, and telling lies about that …as a result.

        After all the lies involving Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya…. The ones involving Syria look the most piss weak ……

        Before taking into context they are being told by war criminals who compulsively lie…

        Have a look at who the u.s.a wages war against …. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqRGTkMo3zk ….. we’re in “the club” now

  7. exkiwiforces 8

    David Kilcullen pretty well sum’s it up on what’s happening in Syria ATM.

    David Kilcullen, former Australian soldier, counter-insurgency expert and has spent time on the ground throughout the Middle East Region in the 10plus years. His last book “Blood Year, Islamic state and the Failures of The War on Terror” is worth reading.

    http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2017/s4651587.htm

  8. In a bit of revisionist history, we’re going to imagine that Italian troops are right there with the Germans.

    That’s not revisionist history, it’s history. The Soviet Union was invaded by Axis forces, not just Germany. Italy contributed multiple units to Unternehmen Barbarossa.

    Still, Barbarossa’s kind of an apt comparison, in that it featured a lot of people (in the Baltic Republics and Ukraine) who wanted out from under the heel of a dictatorship, but they fighting was mostly being done by various flavours of totalitarianism that had nothing good to offer the people of those countries. For the people of eastern Europe, it didn’t matter who won, they were fucked. I can see why you might think it’s an apt comparison for the people of Syria, but your comparison seems to assume the USSR was an entity worthy of continued existence, which it wasn’t.

    • Bill 9.1

      So the post constructed what I thought might be a more accessible fiction for the sake of offering a useful analogy rather than a comparison.

      Grafton Gully already provided a link to Italian engagement on the eastern front –
      which means I learned something 🙂

      And don’t make assumptions. Ask. In this instance your assumption is entirely incorrect.

  9. Headchopper this headchopper that – what is it with that line that is so appealing? Is it worse than what every other combatant does when they kill maim or obliterate people over there? Is it just shorthand for something – i dont get it tbh.

    • Bill 10.1

      Just a personal take, but when a group of people regard chopping a person’s head off as an integral and legitimate part of civil society, then that marks them out in relation to all the maiming (gratuitous or otherwise) that a soldier (either muslim, christian, atheist agnostic or whatever) might indulge in, in a war setting.

      Also, if we talk of Jihadists, the wriggle room to demarcate some as good and some as bad exists. I don’t believe that same space is afforded when the term headchopper is applied.

      Thirdly, jihad (as I understand it) is a personal quest for truth or meaning and not some call to war that headchoppers use it to be.

      Fourthly? I don’t think it’s useful or helpful to frame things in terms that lend themselves to nonsense about ‘war of civilisations’ or any such. And other terms do that by placing ‘everything’ firmly within an Islamic context. Now sure, some might argue that as far as Iraq and Syria and Libya and Afghanistan are concerned, we actually are looking at an Islamic context. But when that context is thrown up and out there as a ‘catch all’ – an ‘othering’ that subtly allows any western self examination to be avoided, then again, I don’t find that useful.

      • shakingstick 10.1.1

        So what’s your catchall name for Assad supporters?

        Have you watched the videos of them kicking the living shit out of old men in the street? Braining them with cinder blocks?

        You’re aware that Assad released headchoppers to taint the revolution?
        That senior intel figures admit this?
        That he left the headchoppers to run areas that he then attacked when the black flags came down and the green ones went up?
        That supporting headchoppers was an integral part of syrian policy vis a vis the Iraq war?
        That a large part of the dominace of headchoppers in syria relates to blowback stemming from that support?

        • Spikeyboy 10.1.1.1

          Citations please for this rant…

          • shakingstick 10.1.1.1.1

            Sure.

            Here’s a piece with quotes from senior Syrian intel officials outlining Assad’s strategy and detailing the stuff about releasing headchoppers. There’s lots of detail in it, and if you’re familiar with Baathist counterinsurgency and control tactics it’ll all seem pretty familiar

            http://www.thenational.ae/world/syria/assad-regime-set-free-extremists-from-prison-to-fire-up-trouble-during-peaceful-uprising

            Here’s a blogpost that collects various sources taelling teh same story

            https://kyleorton1991.wordpress.com/2014/03/24/assessing-evidence-collusion-assad-isis-qaeda/

            Here’s a twitter thread by the well known Arab reformist Iyad el-Baghdadi detailing the early stages of the revolution

            Here’s another article based on interviews with Assad security forces.

            http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/12/01/assad-henchman-here-s-how-we-built-isis.html

            Would you like more? Would you like links to video of assad soldiers beating the shit out of people? they are not hard to find

          • shakingstick 10.1.1.1.2

            Heres’a thread by a Syrian secular supporter of the revolution with links to stories outlining Assad’s longstanding links to headchppoers

            Here’s a thread from an analyst who points out various documented lies the Russians have told about to try and debunk evidence of their actions in Syria

            [To repeat. The post is about the relationship some western governments have with headchoppers and also about the source of much of our news from the region. And that’s it. That relationship, sketched out and backed by links in the post, might be very uncomfortable for some people. And that was why I included the intro that I did. You want to indulge in an ‘info wars’ type debate that will never rise any higher than a school ground “my daddy’s bigger than your daddy, so I’m right” kind of nonsense, then you can do that. But not in this thread.] – Bill

            • shakingstick 10.1.1.1.2.1

              apologies, I thought it was on topic as to the ‘headchoppers’ terminology discussion, and the notion that the west is backing them. there seemed to be an implication that Assad is not, or has not.

              that is simply false. the story of Assad’s collaboration with the headchoppers is not comfortable for either the backers of assad/Putin (for obvious reasons) or for the west, (as it complicates the narrative around why we didn’t do more to support the revolution particularly in the early stages. It’s not a story the western narrative about it being hard to know who to support gels well with).

              as to me wanting to start some sort of schoolyard biffo, I simply responded to a request for cites, with some cites.

              There’s lots of detail in there that is crucial for actually understanding the war and getting beyond the largely irrelevant fights about whether or not the white helmets are black or white. those arguments tend not to actually be about Syria, but are arguments about who is the more woke leftist.

              • Bill

                See, this is the thing. Again. The topic of the post is…? (Go read it and the links provided if you’re still not getting it)

                Which makes an utter mockery of this claim of yours to be

                getting beyond the largely irrelevant fights about whether or not the white helmets are black or white. those arguments tend not to actually be about Syria, but are arguments about who is the more woke leftist.

                When almost all coverage of events in Syria from ‘on the ground’ is coming in the shape of White Helmet videos and/or claims fed through the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is a one man (Abdel Rahman) operation based in Coventry, England in receipt of government funding, it’s anything but irrelevant to get a grip on where the White Helmets come from, who funds them, and what their agenda is. The same can be said in respect of who provided or provides Abdel Rahman with his extensive network of people within Syria and discovering who those people are – their agendas and allegiances.

                One reason that’s important is that they are passed off to us by western msm as neutral and reliable sources of info.

                edit. Any discerning person might also ask a question or two about all of those supposed “citizen activists” that had remarkable amounts of penetration into western msm during the liberation of Aleppo’s eastern districts, but who all seem to have taken advantage of free passage to Idlib as part and parcel of the motley crew of armed headchoppers/terrorists.

                • shakingstick

                  as opposed to the white helmet mythbusters who are one man bands with youtube accounts funded by… who the hell knows because youtube is opaque as hell.

                  the white helmets literally don’t matter. And seriously, there are loads of ME media sources you can look to. And yes, they too have agendas. Even your sources have agendas Bill. You too are falling to your knees for a bell that is wringing.

                  but whatever, I’ll leave you to your thread, where disagreeing with your framing is a sign of mental cowardice or schoolyard biffo, or what have you that can get you thrown off because, fuck knows why.

                  • Bill

                    One sub thread was terminated. No-one has been prevented from commenting. Bells don’t ‘wring’. And if you can’t handle the evidence presented by the links in the post and/or have nothing to add to discussion on the topic at hand, then sure, by all means leave the thread.

                    • shakingstick

                      ok.

                      so when you say that the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is a’one man band’, what do you mean, exactly?

                      Do you mean it literally, in that he is working alone from london just scouring the internet?

                      Or is it as a framing exercise in that while he is the sole employee he has and uses a few hundred sources within Syria, so highlight the ‘sole actor’ thing to discredit?

                      This is the point I am making which you keep ignoring, and pretend I am not even mentioning.

                      My point, to labour it in the hope you finally see it, is that there are competing frames, this is not perfidy. It’s just common plain old conflict.

                      You don’t have to buy into Assadist nonsense or justify it on order to be sceptical of western narratives. In fact, you should be bloody careful to not do that, given that Assad really is a fucking arsehole.

                      Your precious intro, which I have read a number of times in an attempt to find a point, frames anyone who isn’t reflexively anti-western as an intellectual coward. You double down on this in comments saying if I don’t address your ‘evidence (including unverifiable youtube accounts) then I can’t ‘handle’ it.

                      My point is that this is not at all a ‘useful way of framing things’ given what we know about Assad. We have far more, and better, evidence that Assad has assisted the headchoppers to a direct degree than we do for the west. Your framing looks like conspiratorial horseshit of the type that ends up with you repeating Assadist and alt-right propaganda simply because it opposes something you also oppose., It decontextualises things to an absurd degree, and you respond to people who add context by saying they are ‘off topic’ or can take their arguments elsewhere. It’s a farce mate.

                    • Bill

                      Everything that comes from the SOHR is filtered through just one person – Abdel Rahman. And he says himself (link below) that he “signs off on every important update”

                      There are, apparently, four people on the ground in Syria who gather and collate information from a network of some 250 others, before passing it on to Abdel.

                      How he built that network, given that he left Syria 13 years ago…Oh, hang on! The Guardian link from last May provided in the post might give us a clue, eh?

                      There is, afterall, his admission that he receives money from a “European country that he declines to identify

                      So, whaddya reckon there shakingstick? You think he’s just a humble man who preserved a historical and extensive network of impartial contacts from a distance of some 3000 miles?

                      Or you reckon he’s one of those entities holding a contract with the UK Foreign Office who are overseen by the Ministry of Defence?

                    • shakingstick

                      So not a one man band then.

                      And the implication because he takes money from them, is what? that it’s actually actually an intel op or something?

                    • shakingstick

                      “How he built that network, given that he left Syria 13 years ago…Oh, hang on! The Guardian link from last May provided in the post might give us a clue, eh?

                      There is, afterall, his admission that he receives money from a “European country that he declines to identify”

                      longer quote fro context on that money

                      His exposure to politics started at age 7, he said, after his family’s landlord hit his sisters for sitting on the building’s roof. Neighbors who saw the altercation refused to testify because the landlord was an Alawite with a brother in military security.

                      Mr. Abdul Rahman owned a clothing store but secretly wrote pamphlets denouncing unfair privileges granted to a few while most Syrians had to line up for basic goods. Born Osama Suleiman, he adopted a pseudonym during those years of activism and has used it publicly ever since.

                      When two associates were arrested in 2000, he fled the country, paying a human trafficker to smuggle him into England. The government resettled him in Coventry, where he decided he liked the slow pace. He says his main regret is having to drive 30 minutes to Birmingham for a decent Arab restaurant.

                      Money from two dress shops covers his minimal needs for reporting on the conflict, along with small subsidies from the European Union and one European country that he declines to identify.

                      Previous to that section it goes into detail about “How he built that network”. he started his org in 2006, so not after 13 years eh? It talks about how he taped into a pre exiting skype network of activists. So he didn’t build the network, he tapped into an existing one.

                      Seems plausible to me that a network of activists would be glad to have an expat safely in the UK to do things they couldn’t safely do, doesn’t it? So no need to make any leaps from:

                      “European country that he declines to identify”

                      to anything at all as far as I can see.

        • reason 10.1.1.2

          John Stockwell, the highest ranking Cia man to spill the beans on them and U.s.a foreign policy, … covers how propaganda and official lies become the reason for these bullshit ‘just’ wars.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmYZ_kWHk3Q ….Its hard to tell when posters are cynically spreading it …… or have become demented by it.

          The immediate and ongoing evidence of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya is mass destruction, death, misery and suffering …… not freedom.

          Syria s proxy war via Sunni jihadist is more of the same…..

          Its a shame peace propaganda does not get the same coverage ….

  10. remo 11

    Thank you to the author of this post. By acknowledging the cruel malevolence of the whiteHelmets and their exposed connections to western intelligence and the terrorist organizations – the deception practices of ‘the west’ – you acknowledge the extent of perfidy we are subject to.

  11. Spikeyboy 12

    Its shorthand for using a very sharp blade to seperate a persons head from there body in a ritualustic fasion usually involving video documentation and victims that have nothing to do with the fighting of ages ranging from very young to quite old.

  12. Spikeyboy 13

    Thankyou Bill for this post. It outlines perfectly all the reasons why caution is necessary when trying to get to the bottom of what really happens for any event in Syria.

  13. dukeofurl 14

    I notice that one of Trumps new ‘red lines’ has been walked back a bit

    White House: Barrel bomb could lead to US strike
    http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/328140-us-could-launch-future-strikes-on-syria-wh-says

    That was a touchy one as they obviously didnt know their history

    ‘Barrel bombs were used in Palestine and Israel during 1947-48. They were first used by militant Zionist groups in Palestine against the British. They were later used by Jews against Arabs, and also by Arabs against Jewish targets
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barrel_bombs_in_Palestine_and_Israel

  14. John L 15

    “When we told you our boats were attacked in the Gulf of Tonkin, we were lying. When we told you Iraqis were throwing Kuwaiti babies out of incubators, we were lying. When we blew up a medicine factory and told you it was Bin Laden’s headquarters, we were lying. When we told you Iraq had WMD, we were lying. When we told you Gadaffi was feeding his troops Viagra so they could rape protestors, we were lying. But we swear to God we are telling the absolute truth this time. Why would we lie?”

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