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Archive for the ‘Syria’ Category

AKP Turkey’s Favourite Terrorists in Syria: Ahrar al-Sham

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The Berlin-based SWP (or Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik or German Institute for International and Security Affairs)’s Dr Guido Steinberg relates that “Ahrar al-Sham belongs to the Islamist/Salafist part of the rebel spectrum. It aims to topple Asad and replace his regime with an Islamic state based on sharia. While its leadership has never spelled out in detail what the political system of such a state would look like, it is sure to be strongly authoritarian”.(1) Founded by “by Hassan Aboud (aka Abu Abdullah al-Hamawi) [died on 16 March 2016 “from wounds received in a battle near Aleppo”],(2) the group is a coalition of Islamist and Salafist units fighting to unseat Bashar al-Assad. Over time, Hassan Aboud’s outfit even became the ‘principal constituent force’ of the Syrian Islamic Front (or SIF), set up in December 2012 as a ‘Salafi umbrella formation, which is arguably the best fighting force within the opposition’ to the Assad regime in Damascus, in the words of the Richard Borow Fellow at the Washington Institute and founder of the website Jihadology, Aaron Zelin and Charles Lister, the Visiting Fellow, Brookings Doha Center”.(3)

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According to the journalist and freelance writer Aron Lund, “the Ahrar el-Sham Brigades are made up of nearly fifty jihadi groups, such as the Qawafil el-Shuhada (Idleb), Ansar el-Haqq (Idleb), and Salaheddine Brigade (Hama). They exist in most of Syria’s Sunni-populated governorates, but are particularly concentrated in the Idleb Governorate (half of the brigades listed), with Hama a distant second. [In 2012 p]ress reports appear to confirm that the group has a strong foothold in the Sunni countryside stretching from the northern Ghab Plain west of Hama, towards Idleb and the Turkish border, east of the Alawite mountains. Also judging from its own website, the Ahrar el-Sham Brigades are conspicuously weak in some Sunni-majority governorates otherwise known for intensive rebel activity: Homs (only two brigades, in the Houla region and Tel-Kalakh respectively), Deraa (one brigade, no location specified) and Deir el-Zor (no presence)”.(4) On a dedicated website, the group itself posits that “The Islamic Movement of Free Men of the Levant [or Ahrar al-Sham] is an Islamist, reformist, innovative and comprehensive movement. It is integrated with the Islamic Front and is a comprehensive and Islamic military, political and social formation. It aims to completely overthrow the Assad regime in Syria and build an Islamic state whose only sovereign, reference, ruler, direction, and individual, societal and nationwide unifier is Allah Almighty’s Sharia (law)”.(5)

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In spite of the above-quoted programmatic statement, “the movement is generally not seen by the Syrian public as fame or power-hungry, and Syrian activists’ comments on social media often describe the movement as working quietly and in an organised manner”, as expressed by Al Jazeera’s Malak Chabkoun.(6) Ahrar al-Sham’s supposed moderate character also seems to have induced AKP Turkey’s then-Prime Minister Ahmed Davutoğlu to utilize the groups as a middleman in negotiations between the National Intelligence Organization (or MİT) and the Islamic State (or ISIS or the Caliph and his Merry Men) in 2014.(7)

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(1) Guido Steinberg , ‘Ahrar al-Sham: The “Syrian Taliban”’ SWP Comments, 27 (May 2016). file:///C:/Users/K55V/Desktop/Ahrar%20al-Sham.pdf.

(2) C. J. Chivers and Karam Shaoumali, “Hassan Aboud, an ISIS Commander, Dies From Battlefield Wounds” New York Times (17 March 2016). https://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/18/world/middleeast/hassan-aboud-an-isis-commander-dies-from-battlefield-wounds.html?_r=0.

(3) C. Erimtan, “Turkey between rock and a hard place in US fight against ISIS” RT Op-Edge (18 September 2014). https://www.rt.com/op-edge/188796-turkey-isis-usa-conflict-syria/.

(4) Aron Lund,, “Syrian Jihadism” UIBrief, 13 (14 September 2012). file:///C:/Users/K55V/Desktop/Syrian%20Jihadism%20(012).pdf.

(5) Ahrar al-Sham official webpage: http://ahraralsham.net/?page_id=4195. Translated and quoted by Malak Chabkoun, “Syrian Revolution’s Path after Attacks on Ahrar al-Sham” Al Jazeera English (17 September 2014). http://studies.aljazeera.net/en/reports/2014/09/2014“Syrian Revolution’s Path after Attacks on Ahrar al-Sham” . 9147499306405.html#a2.

(6) Malak Chabkoun, “Syrian Revolution’s Path after Attacks on Ahrar al-Sham” .

(7) C. Erimtan, “Turkey between rock and a hard place in US fight against ISIS”.

Turkish Forces are in Syria to End Assad’s Rule

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‘Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkish forces had entered Syria to “end the rule of the tyrant al-Assad,” during a speech at the first Inter-Parliamentary Jerusalem Platform Symposium in Istanbul, Tuesday. SOT, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkish President (Turkish): “We preached patience but could not endure in the end and had to enter Syria together with the Free Syrian Army. Why did we enter? We do not have an eye on Syrian soil. The issue is to provide land to their real owners. That is to say we are there for the establishment of justice. We entered [Syria] to end the rule of the tyrant al-Assad who terrorises with a state of terror. [We didn’t enter] for any other reason.” Published on 29 Nov 2016’.

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Caliphal Co-Founder: Hillary Rodham Clinton

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 Some time ago, the Drumpf (aka Donald J. Trump) shocked the world by saying: “No, I meant [Obama]’s the founder of ISIS. I do. He was the most valuable player. I give him the most valuable player award. I give her, too, by the way, Hillary Clinton”.[1] In spite of his poor grasp of the English language, Drumpf was clearly accusing his Democratic rival of having been behind the Caliph’s sudden rise to infamy on the world stage. And then, the exiled Julian Assange dropped another time bomb: “Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has said that Wikileaks have obtained information that, when released soon, will guarantee a Hillary Clinton indictment”.[2] On Tuesday, 11 October 2016, then, “Wikileaks released what is, by far, the most devastating leak of the entire campaign. This makes Trump’s dirty talk video looks like an episode of Barney and Friends”.[3]

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In order to make these revelations more readily intelligible, I would now like to quote the above-reproduced e-mail message: “*From*: John Podesta [mailto:john.podesta@gmail.com]” “*To*: H” [aka “H” <hrod17@clintonemail.com> aka Hillary Rodham Clinton], stating that “[a]rmed with proper equipment, and working with U.S. advisors, the >> Peshmerga can attack the ISIL with a coordinated assault supported from the >> air. This effort will come as a surprise to the ISIL, whose leaders >> believe we will always stop with targeted bombing, and weaken them both in >> Iraq and inside of Syria. At the same time we should return to plans to >> provide the FSA, or some group of moderate forces, with equipment that will >> allow them to deal with a weakened ISIL, and stepped up operations against >> the Syrian regime. This entire effort should be done with a low profile, >> avoiding the massive traditional military operations that are at best >> temporary solutions. While this military/para-military operation is moving >> forward, we need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence >> assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, >> which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region. This effort will be enhanced by >> the stepped up commitment in the KRG. The Qataris and Saudis will be put >> in a position of balancing policy between their ongoing competition to >> dominate the Sunni world and the consequences of serious U.S. pressure. By >> the same token, the threat of similar, realistic U.S. operations will serve >> to assist moderate forces in Libya, Lebanon, and even Jordan, where >> insurgents are increasingly fascinated by the ISIL success in Iraq”.[4]

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The U.S. is thus supporting the Peshmerga, the FSA or “or some group of moderate forces” as well as cooperating with the “governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia”, “which are [in turn] providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region” . . . While these sentences might come as a surprise to some, those in the know have known this all along . . . Still, the above-quoted e-mail missive shows the complicity of the Obama White House in full living colour . . . After all, Mister Podesta is at present the “Chairman of the 2016 Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. [who] previously served as Chief of Staff to President Bill Clinton and Counselor to President Barack Obama”.[5]

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[1] Tal Kopan,” Donald Trump: I meant that Obama founded ISIS, literally” CNN Politics (12 August 2016). http://edition.cnn.com/2016/08/11/politics/donald-trump-hugh-hewitt-obama-founder-isis/.

[2] “Julian Assange: My Next Leak Will Ensure Hillary’s Arrest” Anonymous (s.d.). http://www.anonews.co/hillary-assange/.

[3] “IT’S OVER: Hillary’s ISIS Email Just Leaked & It’s Worse Than Anyone Could Have Imagined…” Friends of Syria (11 Oct 2016). https://friendsofsyria.wordpress.com/2016/10/11/its-over-hillarys-isis-email-just-leaked-its-worse-than-anyone-could-have-imagined/.

[4] “Congrats!” WikiLeaks. https://wikileaks.org/podesta-emails/emailid/3774.

[5] “John Podesta” Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Podesta.

Security Council Meeting on Syria: Moderate Opposition or Not?!??

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‘An emergency UN Security Council meeting on Syria has wrapped up in New York. It was requested by the United States, Britain and France amid the escalating conflict in the city of Aleppo. The meeting saw a heated exchange between the Russian and American envoys. Published on Sep 25, 2016’.

A high-ranking commander of the al-Qaeda branch in Syria formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra but now calling itself Jabhet Fateh al-Sham, has made some interesting remarks recently. The jihadi commander Abu al-Ezz told reporter Jürgen Todenhöfer that “[t]he U.S. support the opposition, but not directly. They support the countries which support us. But we are not yet satisfied with this support. They should support us with highly developed weapons. We have won battles thanks to the ‘TOW’ missiles. We reached a balance with the regime through these missiles. We received the tanks from Libya through Turkey. Also the ‘BMs’ – multiple rocket launchers . . . We do not recognize the ceasefire. We will reposition our groups. We will undertake in the next, in a few days an overwhelming attack against the regime. We have rearranged all our armed forces in all provinces, in Homs, Aleppo, Idlib and Hama. We accept no one from the Assad-regime or from the Free Syrian Army, which is called moderate. Our aim is the downfall of the regime and the founding of an Islamic state according to the Islamic shariah”.[1] Todenhöfer originally published the interview in the daily the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger on 26 September 2016.[2]

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[1] Zen Adra,”Nusra commander in Syria: US supporting us…but not enough” Al-Masdar News (26 September 2016). https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/nusra-commander-syria-us-supporting-usbut-not-enough/.

[1] J. Todenhöfer, “Interview mit Al Nusra-Kommandeur „Die Amerikaner stehen auf unserer Seite“”Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger (26 September 2016). http://www.ksta.de/politik/interview-mit-al-nusra-kommandeur–die-amerikaner-stehen-auf-unserer-seite–24802176?__hstc=143095274.842c504416432b8bff55bede166c1ec7.1474922442443.1474922442443.1474922442446.2&__hssc=143095274.1.1474922442446&__hsfp=3022278840.

Eren Erdem: AKP IŞİD Teröristlerine Bilerek Göz Yumuyor

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‘İstanbul Mv. Eren Erdem, Meclis’te düzenlediği basın toplantısında, IŞİD militanlarına ilişkin çok önemli bilgi ve belgeleri kamuoyuyla paylaştı. AKP hükûmetinin IŞİD teröristlerine bilerek göz yumduğunu açıklayan Erdem, “demokratik bir ülkede bu skandallar ortaya çıksa hükûmet istifa eder” dedi. 12 Mayıs 2016’.

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The White Helmets: Effective Anti-Assad Propaganda

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For some time now the mainstream media, such as the BBC World Service or CNN, have been pushing stories about Syria’s not-so civil war which feature the good work done by a shadowy organization known only as the White Helmets . . . “When the bombs rain down, the Syrian Civil Defence rushes in. In a place where public services no longer function these unarmed volunteers risk their lives to help anyone in need – regardless of their religion or politics. Known as the White Helmets these volunteer rescue workers operate in the most dangerous place on earth. As the conflict in Syria worsens, ordinary people are paying the highest price. More than 50 bombs and mortars a day land on some neighbourhoods in Syria. Many are rusty barrels filled with nails and explosives, rolled out the back of government helicopters — bakeries and markets are the most commonly hit targets. When this happens The White Helmets rush in to search for life in the rubble – fully aware that more bombs may fall on the same site. These volunteers have saved 40,823 lives – and this number is growing daily”, as the dedicated website announces in quasi-poetic terms.[1]

Rick Sterling

In contrast, a critical voice like Vanessa Beeley (writing for the 21st Century Wire) relates that “[a]fter four and half years of relentless propaganda being flung around western mainstream media by propagandists, NGOs and Empire serving mouthpieces, one wonders how this stream of effluent still manages to stick to the consciences of the public it serves to deceive. Yesterday [, 31 August 2015], a Facebook post caught our attention. A Palestinian person based in Gaza posted two photos of child victims in Syria. The photos were accompanied by the caption, ‘The massacres of Assad regime in Syria #Douma’. The subsequent barrage of comments consisting of the usual plethora of outpouring against Syrian President Bashar al Assad and the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) provoked us to investigate further . . . We discovered that both photos were taken by photographer Khaled Khatib, and were of ‘reported’ Syrian Air Force ‘barrel bomb’ attacks, allegedly on unclassified areas of Aleppo. Bearing in mind, most of Khaled’s photos on Google appear to be of the immediate aftermath of such an attack, and one wonders why he does not specify the specific area and exact time, offering a verified claim of the attack being from barrel bombs, rather than the rather non committal ‘reported’ tag. Further investigation revealed that in reality, Khaled Khatib works for and with the ‘White Helmets’ and his photos are used extensively by the well known EU-backed and UK-based, one man propaganda band, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The SOHR is actually Mr Rami Abdul Rahman, who runs this propaganda feed from his house in Coventry, UK, and who bases the majority of his information on Skype calls to Syria. This information, however, is unilaterally used by the Axis of Interventionism [US, Europe in particular] to justify their proxy invasion of a sovereign nation and their clumsy, murderous 4 and half year-long attempt at the ‘regime change’ of Syria’s elected government, engendering, in the process, the widespread loss of civilian life in Syria at the hands of their proxy armies. More than any other single information source, the SOHR’s propaganda dispatches are used to justify western policy of arming and supporting the multi-headed insurgency in Syria”.[2]

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The lone voice broadcasting from Coventry or the Syrian Observatory is a well-known opponent of Damascus, or as I wrote in 2014, “a propaganda outfit frantically feeding anti-Assad messages into the global news stream’.[3] For her part, Beeley states that the “White Helmets are equally suspect. This is a quote from Rick Sterling’s excellent article on the ‘Highly Effective Manipulators’: “White Helmets is the newly minted name for ‘Syrian Civil Defence.’ Despite the name, Syria Civil Defence was not created by Syrians nor does it serve Syria. Rather it was created by the UK and USA in 2013. Civilians from rebel controlled territory were paid to go to Turkey to receive some training in rescue operations. The program was managed by James Le Mesurier, a former British soldier and private contractor whose company is based in Dubai. The trainees are said to be ‘nonpartisan’ but only work in rebel-controlled areas of Idlib (now controlled by Nusra/Al Queda) and Aleppo. There are widely divergent claims regarding the number of people trained by the White Helmets and the number of people rescued. The numbers are probably highly exaggerated especially since rebel-controlled territories have few civilians. A doctor who recently served in a rebel-controlled area of Aleppo described it as a ghost town. The White Helmets work primarily with the rebel group Jabat al Nusra (Al Queda in Syria). Video of the recent alleged chlorine gas attacks starts with the White Helmet logo and continues with the logo of Nusra. In reality, White Helmets is a small rescue team for Nusra/Al Queda. But White Helmets primary function is propaganda. White Helmets demonizes the Assad government and encourages direct foreign intervention. A White Helmet leader wrote a recent Washington Post editorial. White Helmets are also very active on social media with presence on Twitter, Facebook etc. According to their website, to contact White Helmets email The Syria Campaign which underscores the relationship”.[4]

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Beeley then continues as follows: “[n]ow lets have a look at Mr. Khaled Khatib and his role in this propaganda chain. He appears to be exclusively embedded in Aleppo. I have been unable to locate any photos by him that are not from this region [on google search]. The majority of his photos are taken between January and June 2014. Now bearing in mind the mounting evidence of the civilian casualties and fatalities as a result of the ‘rebel’ hell cannon, mortars, and snipers in Aleppo, it should be surprising that not one of his images records the devastation and bloodshed caused by these wildly inaccurate and lethal weapons employed by the so called opposition cells positioned all over Aleppo. Instead every photo and every statement from this propagandist focuses only on the Syrian Government’s ‘reported’ use of the legendary barrel bombs. ‘There is great danger for civilians from the Syrian army, the militias who are fighting with them, and ISIS,’ said Khaled Khatib, a photographer with the Aleppo branch of the Syrian Civil Defence, a volunteer rescue organization. ‘But the weapon that kills the most Syrians — by 90 percent — is the barrel.’ We have demonstrated that the White Helmets are an integral part of the propaganda vanguard that ensures obscurantism of fact and propagation of Human Rights fiction that elicits the well-intentioned and self righteous response from a very cleverly duped public. A priority for these NGOs is to keep pushing the ‘No Fly Zone‘ scenario which has already been seen to have disastrous implications for innocent civilians in Libya, for example. Khaled Khatib is quoted by the Guardian as being reserved on the ‘No Fly Zone’, but vehement in calls for a radar or ‘early warning’ system that will ensure that ‘civilians’ can flee areas that are about to be bombed by the Syrian Government forces. Let’s just examine this statement, echoed by The Syria Campaign director, James Sadri: ‘If we could only get warning that the planes were coming, we could warn families, tell people to run from the markets, get the children out of the schools, let the medical centers know so that they can take cover,’ Khatib said. ‘Every airport in the world has this technology – it is common, it is civilian. Why can’t they share it with us?’ Hmmm so, this makes an assumption, regularly echoed by the HRW brigades like Annie Sparrow and Ken Roth – who have become increasingly rabid in their barrel bomb narrative, that the Syrian Government is going to deliberately target civilian areas like hospitals and schools. This seems absurd when one takes into account that most families in Syria have family members in the Syrian forces combating foreign proxy armies made up of terrorists and mercenaries. To suggest that these forces would be turned against their own families is delusional if not downright criminal and inhumane. Therefore we must assume that the Syrian forces are quite rightly targeting embedded terrorist cells, cells that are nested within civilian areas. We know that Aleppo has shrunk to one fifth of its size thanks to the infiltration of many areas by these mercenary fighters. This infiltration has driven many civilians into safe pockets within Aleppo away from terrorist strongholds. The SAA is marooned on the Acropolis Hill in the strategic centre of the Old Citadel in Aleppo and is surrounded on all sides by ‘rebel’ encampments. With this information in mind, we must ask the question, who would benefit most from this early warning system – the civilians or the ‘rebels’?”.[5]

Vanessa Beeley

 

[1] “The most dangerous place in the world” White Helmets. https://www.whitehelmets.org/.

[2] V. Beeley, “White Helmets’: New Breed of Mercenaries and Propagandists, Disguised as ‘Humanitarians’ in Syria” 21st Century Wire (01 September 2015). http://21stcenturywire.com/2015/09/01/white-helmets-new-breed-of-mercenaries-and-propagandists-disguised-as-humanitarians-in-syria/.

[3] C. Erimtan, “The New Cold War: Libya, Syria, and the Ukraine” RT Op-Edge (08 May 2014). https://www.rt.com/op-edge/157704-new-cold-war-victims/.

[4] V. Beeley, “White Helmets’: New Breed of Mercenaries and Propagandists”.

[5] V. Beeley, “White Helmets’: New Breed of Mercenaries and Propagandists”.

Wily on TV: Talk to Al Jazeera with Ahmed Davutoğlu

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On 23 February 2016, Turkey’s wily PM Ahmed Davutoğlu spoke to the international broadcaster Al Jazeera: ‘Ahmet Davutoglu discusses the recent attacks in Turkey, the downed Russian military jet, and the refugee situation. Is there a possibility Turkey will lose its patience and order some sort of military intervention in Syria against Kurdish and government forces? And if so, is a military conflict with Russia imminent? (Published on Feb 24, 2016)’.

Therefore, one should lose track of the fact that the above conversation with the Qatari broadcaster took place well ahead of the ceasefire that came into effect in Syria at midnight on February 27. And here are some of his choice words once more: “We know how and when we will respond. Definitely, those who made this attack against our people, will pay the price, but how and when – we will decide – and when it happens, everybody will see that Turkey can respond [to] any challenges, any attack, against it”.[1] Furthermore, the PM assured that that Ankara “will be doing everything for Syrian brothers and sisters – without asking any assistance from anywhere – for refugees as well as for the heroic people in Syria . . . all Syrians, those, who are raising their voice against this aggression by the regime, by terrorists like YPG [Kurdish People’s Protection Units], Daesh [Islamic State, IS, formerly known as ISIS/ISIL] and foreign forces, who are invading Syria today, like Russia and Iran”.[2] Next he targeted Russia for bombing “all anti-regime forces, all groups – all Sunnis, Kurds, Turkoman, Arab, not important for them, and all those, who are against the regime. They continue to push this people to Turkey. And the international community is silent and surely does not want to help them” before issuing the outrageous claim that Putin is aiming “to create a refugee crisis in Turkey and the EU” and then adding this gem: “Turkey has the hearts of Syrian people. The Syrian people are with us. And nobody can defeat a people”.[3]

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[1] “Davutoglu on ISIL, Syrian refugees, and Ankara bombing” Al Jazeera (23 Feb 2016). http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/talktojazeera/2016/02/turkish-pm-attack-pay-price-160223073208847.html.

[2] “Turkey to keep supporting armed groups fighting Assad regime in Syria – PM Davutoglu” RT News (29 Feb 2015). https://www.rt.com/news/333904-davutoglu-turkey-invasion-syria-russia/?utm_source=browser&utm_medium=aplication_chrome&utm_campaign=chrome.

[3] “Turkey to keep supporting armed groups fighting Assad regime in Syria – PM Davutoglu”.