Putin Sochi Valdai Speech - 2016

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xs40t57rcBk ]

Published on Oct 28, 2016

Vladimir Putin's annual address at the Valdai Discussion Club, held in Sochi, Russian Federation. This year hosted by Professor of Russian Studies, Timothy Colton, at Harvard University. All leading journalists as well as scholars, both Russian and international, are invited to attend - whether they do is another matter. This is of course not the first time he says such things - in fact, Putin has been saying them for many years. 

Check out Part 2: Putin confronts the 'New World Order' (Valdai Part 2 of 2)

Or the infamous:

"Who created ISIS?" - Putin, at Valdai 2014

"Putin's urgent message to the West" - Valdai 2014

"Putin on the Global Elite", Valdai 2015
Through the total control over global media, Putin talks about the way that niche interests of the financial elite are being portrayed as the interests of all of humanity.


‘Death is everywhere’: Syrian sister describes agony of Aleppo Christians bombarded by terrorists

17 October 2016

A Syrian religious sister has described life for Aleppo Christians under attack from rebels and jihadists opposed to the government of Bashar Al Assad.

Catholic Sister Annie Demerjian said that the relentless shelling of civilian areas of western part of the city, where all of Aleppo’s Christians are sheltering, meant that “death is everywhere”.

Speaking in St Columba’s Church, Chester, Sister Annie described how either Syrian rebels or international jihadists belonging to either the so-called Islamic State or the Al Nusra Front – formerly an affiliate of Al Qaeda – chose Easter Saturday to bombard Christian civilians who are surrounded in Syria’s largest city.

She said that at least four entire families were killed by a shower of 12 rockets and she also described the agony of families trying to find the body parts of loved ones so they could bury them.

The member of the Sisters of Jesus and Mary told how she found one man weeping because he had discovered his daughter’s hand more than two weeks after she and her husband and two children were killed in a rocket attack.

She said: “Death is everywhere and destruction does not exclude a building, a street, a school, a hotel or a mosque.

“Imagine children sitting at their desks and a shell falls blowing off the doors and shattering the windows.

“Imagine teachers running to find children huddled in remote corners while outside people are killed and their neighbours run to the school looking for their children.”

She said there were many casualties with one Christian child recently losing both legs and both arms in a rebel attack.

“People are tired,” Sister Annie said.

“Give us a moment of peace and security,” she continued. “In everyday life we are familiar with death.”

Sister Annie is in the UK as a guest of the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) and was this week due to address MPs and peers at an event in Parliament.

In Aleppo, she helps to deliver emergency assistance to about 550 Christian households – especially to the sick and elderly – on behalf of ACN.

During her public addresses the sister has deliberately avoided making any political remarks about the six-year conflict, insisting that what the people of her country most needed was peace.

But in an interview with Catholic News Service, an American press agency, she last week expressed the view that media reporting of the war in the West was biased in favour of the jihadists.

She questioned why the focus of outrage was on the suffering of one side of the conflict and not the other.

“There are shells and bombs from everywhere falling all over Aleppo. Both sides are suffering,” she said, adding that western media coverage was “not fair”.

“We don’t see a balance,” she said. “Last week nobody spoke about a (Christian) woman who pulled her son from a balcony without his head, and just a river of blood coming out of his neck.”

She said the adult son had rushed outside when a rebel shell had landed nearby and he heard shouts in the street.

His head was blown off was struck by a second shell. “His mother was crying ‘come in, come in’,” said Sister Annie. “She pulled him to find he had no head.”

She continued: “Nobody spoke about that, nothing. There are many stories like that. It is very painful when shells are falling in residential areas. Many people die.

“Sometimes their families and friends have to collect the pieces of the bodies – a hand here, a leg there, body parts in other places – but nobody is talking about it,” she said.

“Why is the world silent about it? People don’t know what is happening.”

‘Distastrous’ interventions

The comments of Sister Annie come as Britain and the US ratchet up their criticism of the bombardment by Syrian forces of rebel and terrorist positions with the help of Russian jets.

Assad is determined to defeat more than a 1,000 jihadists who have entrenched themselves in civilian areas of eastern Aleppo while they attack government regions on the western side of the city.

Media in the West has repeatedly run stories about the child casualties of the bombardment while the US, the UK and France have suggested that Russia and Syria may be committing war crimes.

Russia has rejected the allegations insisting instead that it was “achieving results” against terrorists when western military intervention was failing.

Major General Igor Konashenkov of the Russian Ministry of Defence issued a statement in response to criticism from the British Government which asked: “Where was Great Britain when ISIS almost reached the shores of the Mediterranean, almost turning Syria into a terrorist caliphate – in the same way that happened in Libya thanks to your efforts?”

As Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson hosted a meeting on Syria with his counterparts, the Stop the War Coalition described western “sabre rattling” as irresponsible.

A spokeswoman said: “The situation in Syria is critical. Foreign military interventions, notably by the US, Britain, Saudi Arabia and Russia, are prolonging the war and the misery of the Syrian people.

“Most of the people who are leading the clamour for western escalation in Parliament, including MPs Ann Clywd, Andrew Mitchell, John Woodcock and Johnson himself, have voted for every war they could over the last 15 years. Given the disasters caused by intervention in Iraq, Libya and now Syria, this should in itself discount their opinions on matters of war.”

She added: “What is needed in Syria is not more bombs and intervention but de-escalation and a concerted push for a negotiated settlement. Boris Johnson’s outbursts and other calls for military action damage the chances of peace and must end.”

The ACN North West event also heard an address by Archbishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore, Pakistan, who spoke of his hopes that inter-faith dialogue would help to ease the persecution of Christians in his country.

“The blasphemy law is being misused against Christians and that must stop,” he said, adding that because the Christian faith could not condone paying “evil with evil” the solution to the persecution was dialogue with the Muslim majority.

Meetings, he said, had been held with many senior Muslim scholars and imams in the hope of achieving change.

“We explained that they (the meetings) were not to convert anybody and it was not about a western agenda, but to learn from one another – what you believe and what we believe,” said Archbishop Shaw.

“It is a success,” he said.

“This is the beginning,” the archbishop continued. “But one thing is vital for this type of dialogue and that is we should know what we believe. We must know who Christ is and what his teachings are.”

(Photos by Simon Caldwell)


Another fraud is exposed...this one is 'the heart warming' Toy Smuggler

White Helmets: Instrument for regime change in Syria?

By CHRISTINA LIN - October 24, 2016

The increasing US trend of weaponizing human rights is threatening a rules-based liberal order. The systematic corrosion of these international norms with attendant disastrous consequences has been demonstrated in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Somalia.

Ironically in Libya, after US/NATO invoked Responsibility to Protect to violently overthrow Muammar Qaddafi’s government, it was Qaddafi loyalists that rescued US embassy personnel while suspected extremists affiliated with US-backed rebels that were not thoroughly vetted murdered Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in a tragic illustration of “blowback.” Former head of Defense Intelligence Agency General Michael T. Flynn revealed then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arranged for Qatar to ship arms to al Qaeda-aligned Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) as the rebel opposition, which later attacked the West.

Now, Washington is again repeating this destructive pattern and invoking human rights rationale to overthrow the Syrian government, based on reporting from the White Helmets—a Syrian Civil Defense organization created by the US and UK in 2013.

Documenting human rights abuses to legitimize military invasion

Some controversies surround the White Helmets. In 2016 it was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize as brave men and women of Syria Civil Defense who rescue people to save lives during a war. However, as Jonathan Gornall portrayed in The National, there has also been disturbing reports that White Helmets is a US/UK propaganda tool to weaponize human rights for regime change in Syria as in Libya.

There exist some uncomfortable truths. Despite stating it is independent and not supported by any government, White Helmets is funded through US State Department’s USAID to the tune of US$23 million, and US$29 million from the UK government. Various disturbing videos and photos have also emerged of White Helmet members carrying weapons, celebrating with Al Qaeda when they defeat the Syrian army in battles, and standing by to watch as rebel jihadists conduct executions and then immediately rushing forward to place the body in body bags.

Its credibility took a hit when in April the leader, Raed Saleh, had his visa to the US revoked for suspected ties to terrorists. Senator Ron Paul’s Institute’s reports that the real Syrian Civil Defense, registered and in existence for 63 years since 1953, had never heard of the White Helmets until recently further damaged their legitimacy as a Syrian humanitarian NGO.

In fact, the real Syria Civil Defense is a founding member of the ICDO (International Civil Defense Organization), and other ICDO partners include the UN Department of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Secretarian of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG), World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations of Geneva (UNOG), Red Cross and the Red Crescent. It has an actual number to call inside Syria—113.

By contrast, the US/UK created White Helmet is not a member of ICDO, nor is there a listed public phone number to call. They are only present in Al Nusra and armed opposition territory in Idlib and East Aleppo, and the sole source that is filming and documenting alleged war crimes in Aleppo that is being fed to western media.

Their co-mingling with Al Qaeda and photos of numerous members as armed jihadists, coupled with the recent Berlin airport bomber suspect also being a White Helmet member from Idlib, has cast doubt on their credibility as an impartial humanitarian NGO. According to a former director of the US Congressional Task Force for Counter terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, he confirmed the White Helmets is “largely a ploy for instigating Libya-style western ‘humanitarian intervention’ (R2P in short). They are a propaganda entity rather than a civil defense…[and] provide the Western media what they want in order to push their line.”

And that line is regime change in Syria.

Increasing “Saudization” of US mideast policy

Nonetheless, despite Germany naming US-backed rebel group Ahrar al Sham as a terrorist organization and former Italian prime minister Franco Frattini voicing concerns that a no fly zone for regime change would protect al-Nusra, US continues to support these al-Qaeda groups as legitimate “opposition.” This prompted Frattini to accuse Americans of pandering to Saudi Arabia and Qatar’s agenda, echoing investigative reporter Gareth Porter’s criticism that Washington allows US policy to be determined by Wahhabi ambitions.

He noted former Hillary Clinton aide Derek Chollet in his new book The Long Game, revealed that Clinton and CIA director Leon Panetta were pushing to arm Syrian opposition force solely to give US “leverage” with its Sunni allies by acquiring “skin in the game,” not that it was some well-thought out plan to resolve the Syrian crisis. Former US ambassador Robert Ford also observed that “For a long time the administration ‘looked the other way’ while the US supported jihadists that were coordinating with Al Qaeda,” including the State Department despite knowledge that Qatar and Saudi Arabia were providing funding and logistical support to ISIS and other terrorist groups in the region.

As such this made the US complicit in the Wahhabi project of using Salafi terrorists to maximize pressure for overthrowing the Syrian government although Syria had never attacked the US, while supporting Al Qaeda groups (ISIS is new name for Al Qaeda in Iraq while al Nusra is al Qaeda in Syria) actually directly harms US national security.

However, whether current US strategy of weaponizing human rights would turn into a full-scale war would likely be decided in the November elections—and the next president’s decision to escalate the conflict via a no fly zone against Russia and her Eurasian allies.

Dr. Christina Lin is a Fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations at SAIS-Johns Hopkins University where she specializes in China-Middle East/Mediterranean relations, and a research consultant for Jane’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Intelligence Centre at IHS Jane’s.

SOURCE | http://www.atimes.com/white-helmets-instrument-regime-change-syria/

Is an American company's technology helping Turkey spy on its citizens?

25 October 2016  | Thomas Fox-Brewster, Forbes

Turk Telekom requested not just a feed of subscribers’ usernames and passwords for unencrypted websites, but also their IP addresses, what sites they’d visited and when.

“I do not wish to spend the rest of my life with the regret of having been a part of Erdoğan’s insanity, so I’m out.” The company-wide email on April 4 from Kriss Andsten, a senior technical engineer for Fremont, California-based Procera Networks, landed with a thud and marked the beginning of an internal revolt that has rattled the telecom technology provider. Andsten went on to explain his grievance: the sale of Procera’s deep packet inspection product for alleged surveillance by a totalitarian regime. “We are … heading down the rabbit hole where we’re not using it for good anymore, in the name of chasing the next buck. A recent request from Turkey… seals the deal for me. The Cliff’s Notes version is that we’re selling a solution for extracting usernames and passwords from unencrypted traffic.” After nine years at the company’s offices in Malmo, Sweden, he resigned.

The senior decision-making team at Procera considered the request legitimate, one that came from major operator Turk Telekom through a middleman, Ankara-based networking specialists Sekom, and would ostensibly be used to track fraudsters. It formed part of a lucrative $6 million contract for Procera, whose technology helps telecom operators manage internet traffic. Normally innocuous, deep packet inspection can help uncover malware or route data more efficiently.

But a cadre of angry Swedish engineers who supported Andsten believed they were being asked to turn innocent tech into evil surveillance gear, and hand it to a regime that had become increasingly repressive. “Hell broke loose in Malmo,” said one former employee.

According to a half dozen current and former employees, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, leaked Procera documents and internal communications, Turk Telekom requested not just a feed of subscribers’ usernames and passwords for unencrypted websites, but also their IP addresses, what sites they’d visited and when. “Erdoğan is insane and people could well die from this work,” one former Procera employee told Forbes reporter Thomas Fox-Brewster. Another said: “The installation in Turkey is large-scale surveillance of the population with feeds to one or other governmental agency… If the company leadership thinks this is business we should be doing, they should answer for it publicly.”

Procera declined to discuss specific deals, but a spokesperson provided the following statement by email: “Procera Networks strongly supports core principles of human rights and dignity for people around the world. We provide technology that helps telecom operators run their businesses more efficiently and enhance their customers’ user experience. We do not provide technology for surveillance. We align our business with all applicable laws and globally-recognized standards of operations. Under the new management team established in the last year at Procera, we have continued to strengthen our policies and processes to help ensure that our products are used as intended.”

Founded in 2002, Procera’s headquarters are in Fremont, though large chunks of its development work is done in Canada and Sweden, the latter serving deep packet inspection to Europe and the Middle East. In mid-2015, Francisco Partners, a private equity firm with $10 billion in assets, acquired Procera for $240 million. A new CEO, Lyndon Cantor, was installed at the top to drive Procera through the “next chapter in its strategic development,” according to a company press release, as the executive team was given a refresh. The changes rankled some of Procera’s left-leaning employees. One former employee told Forbes that the acquisition by Francisco Partners led to greater focus on “regulatory compliance… mostly bulk surveillance.” Another claimed: “When Francisco Partners took control it was business ethics that mattered, not human ethics.”

In August, already-suspicious engineers grew more concerned. Researchers from the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab and mobile security firm Lookout raised questions about the ethics of another Francisco Partners portfolio company, NSO Group, a government spyware provider founded by an alum of Israel’s vaunted intelligence agencies. (Francisco Partners bought its stake in the company for $120 million in 2014). Citizen Lab uncovered NSO’s Pegasus malware targeting iPhones of a Mexican journalist and a UAE activist. The same day, Forbes reported that Francisco Partners added Circles to its roster of investments, another Israeli-founded surveillance firm, which sold contentious gear to hack a part of global telecoms networks,known as SS7. That cost the private equity firm $130 million, a source close to the deal told Forbes.

In a statement, a Francisco Partners spokesperson refuted the criticisms: “Having invested in over 80 technology companies, we have demonstrated in our role as board members a nearly 20-year history of working with management teams on practicing appropriate corporate social responsibility and adhering to legal and ethical standards. This includes supporting management teams’ commitments to make every effort to ensure their products are used legally, responsibly and ethically by their customers.”


After they learned of the username and password feature shipping through Sekom to Turk Telekom, Procera engineers feared they would in effect be supporting Turkey’s surveillance state, whose actions have come under increased criticism from human rights groups. There have been plenty of disturbing cases: a 14-year-old in prison after criticizing Erdoğan in a Facebook post, a doctor on trial after a meme he produced compared Erdoğan to Lord of the Rings character Gollum. After the failed coup this summer, the assault on dissents has only intensified as Turkey enacted what Reporters Without Borders (RSF) called “draconian” state of emergency laws. Any individual or organization deemed to have any connection to Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish cleric in exile in the US whom Erdoğan believes masterminded the coup, faces persecution. In July, 15,200 Ministry of Education personnel were suspended and faced investigation, 1,577 university deans were asked to resign, and 2,277 judges and prosecutors were detained, all because of alleged connections to Gülen. Amnesty reported credible sources as claiming some of those detained were subjected to torture and rape. The state of emergency was, this October, extended for a further three months.

“These are executive orders that should be under scrutiny, but they are rubber stamped by judges and there’s no practical way to appeal these decisions,” said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International researcher for Turkey. Gardner was the target of an unsuccessful order to force Twitter to block his account — Twitter’s most recent transparency report showed Erdoğan’s regime lodged 2,493 requests for content to be removed between January and June this year, more than any other country.

It’s no wonder then that the idea of an American company supplying services that appeared to support Turkish surveillance caused so much concern, not only inside Procera but also among human rights and privacy advocates. “To have the power for password extraction at the network level is a quite shocking capability for any government to have, let alone Turkey where the respect for fundamental rights has taken a stark downturn recently,” said Matthew Rice, advocacy officer at Privacy International, a not-for-profit organization. “Everyone should be concerned not only that this capability was requested, but that it was provided… This work was unprecedented for not only Procera, but for the surveillance industry as a whole.”


Two security experts compared the feature Procera sold to a weapon in the National Security Agency (NSA) arsenal. Nicholas Weaver, senior staff researcher focusing on computer security at the International Computer Science Institute in Berkeley, told Forbes Procera’s capabilities were similar to those of a core function of the intelligence agency’s XKEYSCORE software. According to files leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, XKEYSCORE kept a constant monitor on internet traffic and siphoned off data of interest, including usernames and passwords. “That’s XKEYSCORE 101,” Weaver said of the Procera sale.

Morgan Marquis-Boire, an ex-Google security staffer, Citizen Lab senior researcher and the man in charge of protecting First Look Media, said he expected nations to buy into NSA-esque tech. “It’s not surprising to me that Procera has been found adding this capability to their existing solutions given what XKEYSCORE can accomplish,” he told me after reviewing some of the leaked documents from Procera. “It stands to reason that the intelligence operations of many countries would see this as desirable.”

Sources’ description of the Procera Turk Telekom project noted the former’s PacketLogic tool would monitor connections and redirect traffic of interest – e.g. unencrypted logins – to another product, theNetwork Application Visibility Library (NAVL). That would probe the data packets further to retrieve usernames and passwords across Turk Telekom, which boasts 18 million mobile and 8.3 million broadband customers. It’s one of the largest telecoms providers in Turkey, said to run 80 per cent of the country’s fibre optics network and run the biggest ISP in the form of TTNet. Once an entirely state-owned asset, it’s now private, though the Turkish Treasury still holds a 30 per cent stake.

It could be argued the export of such a service would not cause much harm; most social media, email and security-critical sites are run over HTTPS, where connections between a computer or smartphone and a website are encrypted. But according to Google data, of the most-visited 100 non-Google sites on the web, 60 do not run HTTPS by default. Most news sites – from Forbes, to The New York Times, the BBC and Turkey’s two most-read publications Hurriyet Daily News and the Daily Sabah – do not use HTTPS. At the same time, password re-use is prevalent. In a LastPass survey of 2,000 adults conducted this year, 61 per cent said they either use the same or similar passwords across websites. Thanks to those security weaknesses, hackers, be they government or criminal, can harvest passwords from unencrypted traffic and attempt to re-use them, or slightly different ones, on any site, and have a high chance of gaining access. Weaver also said that by capturing usernames, the Procera technology could be used to deanonymyze web surfing and more easily track what millions of Turk Telekom customers are doing.


Procera employees raised such concerns with CEO Cantor throughout the first half of 2016. “Capturing passwords feels like a red line in the sand that we should not cross,” co-founder and CTO Alexander Havang wrote on the company’s internal social network, Confluence, extracts of which were obtained by Forbes. “Lawful intercept is not our key competency. If this is a regulatory requirement and not a business requirement from the operator, we should try to help them advocate why this is a really bad idea.” (Havang declined to comment for this article after the executive team asked all staff to refer all press enquiries to the PR department).

Another employee on the same thread asked: “Why do we want to extract password? What is the use case? This feels pretty bad.” A Procera EMEA solutions engineer followed up, suggesting there was a fraud detection use case. In response, Andsten added: “There’s no fraud detection use case that I’m aware of that’d require the password, and the entire use case smells way more like a social graph thing than a fraud thing. Either they make a pretty bad job of requirements or there’s something else going on.” He later added: “Even if we discount the whole business of extracting passwords from the equation, what they are asking for is normally associated with a totally different market. I’m concerned about what the real ask is here and what brand risk exposure we’d be taking on.” The thread ended in late March, with Andsten saying the feature was “outside the scope of product features and requirement tickets.”

After learning the work with Turk Telekom was going ahead anyway, Andsten quit. His valediction opened a can of worms. “He essentially exposed the issue to the whole company,” a former colleague said. Two days later, on April 6th, another company-wide email sent from a disposable, anonymous email address went out, signed La Resistance. It called on all who opposed the Turk Telekom deal to protest directly to Francisco Partners. “We have absolutely no reason to do unethical deals. Procera is a great company that could do good in the world. We used to be all about improving network quality. That’s why we’re here… Your email absolutely matters. Make it anonymous if you want. If a few voices are heard, it will sound like we have a few vocal people, but if a lot of voices are heard, there must be actions taken.”

On April 11th, Cantor held an emergency meeting in Malmo to hear employees out and, in light of the brewing discontent, revamp the ethics committee; in internal communications, employees had previously expressed frustration at the lack of transparency from the group, set up in late 2014 after deals to provide deep packet inspection for operators in the Middle East had proven sticky subjects. “I don’t want blood on my code,” complained one engineer. “Is it even possible to do ethical business in the Middle East?” asked another.

Sources recalled a particularly awkward Malmo moment. “All the developers proposed to stand up and give applause to [Andsten] because he had taken a stand,” one source said. “With red ears the management team on stage had to participate in the applause of the person who’d caused all their problems.”

Procera didn’t force unwilling staff to do the work. Current and former employees said the username and password extraction was partly outsourced to Canadian firm Northforge, claiming this was done to avoid exacerbating the relationship between engineers and execs. Procera did not comment on that aspect of the work. Northforge did not respond to requests for comment.

Since Andsten’s departure, another five engineers have quit, according to sources. The work continues, said current and former employees, who also said Cantor sent out further company-wide emails advising staff not to speak with press.


Though employees remain concerned about the Turkish government’s access to usernames and passwords of millions of its citizens, Procera wasn’t contracted by the Erdoğan regime or even Turk Telekom. The contract was with Sekom, a systems integrator who worked to install the technology at the operator. (Sekom had not returned requests for comment.) A Turk Telekom spokesperson wrote in an email: “As Turkey’s leading communication and entertainment technologies company Turk Telekom, we always work to deliver products and services with cutting edge technology to our customers. Towards this goal, we are upgrading and renewing outdated devices in our network infrastructure. During this renewal process, we have recently replaced some equipment in our network with updated versions through an auction. We will continue our offerings related to quota based services and parental control services to our customers with this new equipment.

“At Turk Telekom, we are highly sensitive regarding protection and confidentiality of our customers’ personal data and we fully comply with the rules and regulations we work within.” The company declined to comment on the username and password extraction capabilities.

Like any operator, Turk Telekom is at the mercy of government legislation. One of the more invasive regulations – Law No. 5651 – requires each telecom company to log and store user activity for up to two years and submit that data to the government when requested by a court. The Homeland Security Act, passed in 2015, allows the Turkish government to spy on suspects’ telecoms connections for 48 hours without the need to get permission from a judge.

The Turkish embassy in London, the foreign office and the Prime Minister’s office had not responded to repeated requests for comment on this article.


And like any company working in deep packet inspection (DPI), Procera has had to tread a thin line between providing useful networking technology and dangerous surveillance gear. Procera would never describe itself as a surveillance company, but rather a QOE and QOS (quality of experience and quality of service) vendor for telecom operators.

But DPI, whilst most often benign, is inherently invasive. “Deep packet inspection enables surveillance at the outset,” noted Citizen Lab’s senior legal advisor Sarah Mckune. Its very purpose is to open up “packets” of data flying across networks and inspect them to check if they should pass. Just like someone searching a package at the post office to determine if there’s any illegal contraband inside, DPI scans every packet and logs what’s inside, before deciding where to route the data or just trash it. Certain kinds of traffic might be prioritized if they need to be shifted faster, making DPI a core technology in the net neutrality debate. Or DPI can uncover malware and stop it from spreading.

DPI has made headlines for controversial use cases. China, for instance, likes to use DPI in its infamous censorship and surveillance systems. Sunnyvale, California-based Blue Coat Systems, in which Francisco Partners was a significant investor, saw its DPI technology censoring the internet in Syria in 2011, just as the civil war was erupting. Human rights activists looked on agog, but Blue Coat latersaid resellers were to blame and that it had not given permission for the technology to be shipped to the country. One reseller was laterslapped with a maximum fine of $2.8 million by the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS). (Francisco Partners also has stakes in Barracuda Networks and Dell Software, which both ship DPI products).

Procera employees remained apprehensive about their paymaster’s other DPI shipments. In particular, a deal signed through systems integrator Giza Systems for Egypt’s National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA), which had asked to use Procera’s ScoreCard service to evaluate the network performance and subscriber experience for different operators, according to a leaked “scope of work” document.

Legitimate work on the face of it, said one former staffer. But some employees remained perturbed about the potential for abuse of the product, so widely could the technology be deployed. The former staffer said: “It’s an unusual and quite expensive way to accomplish it by tapping all traffic in the country and indexing it… when it would be simpler to just require your operators to give you quality metrics.” They noted that the ScoreCard product keeps a searchable database of a subscriber ID, what website they visited, and the location ID associated with their IP address. “That database is searchable for the end customer if they know how.” But a person familiar with the company’s business in the Middle East said that Procera has not sold or deployed any license capability for database access to any operator or regulator in Egypt, and that the ScoreCard product does not conduct any type of surveillance.

Meanwhile, Turkey continues to expand its control over the web. Just this month, more than 150 police personnel were reportedly arrested for using an encryption tool, ByLock, which the government believed Gülenists used to plot the putsch. Cloud services Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive and Dropbox, as well as code repository Github were also blocked. The blackout was enforced in response to a leak of 50,000 emails of Turkey’s energy minister and Erdogan’s son-in-law Berat Albeyrak by communist hacktivist crew RedHack. Did Turk Telekom and Procera help enforce that blackout? Neither had provided comment at the time of publication.

The ‘White Helmets’ Controversy

By Rick Sterling | Global Research, October 24, 2016 | Consortiumnews

The saturation of propaganda from massive investments by Western interests in NGOs like the “White Helmets” has skewed the public’s understanding of foreign crises, such as Iraq in 2003 and Syria today, writes Rick Sterling.

Across the mainstream Western media, the “White Helmets” are hailed as heroic first responders rescuing injured civilians in rebel-controlled parts of Syria. The U.K. Guardian and The Independent urged the Nobel Committee to award this year’s Nobel Peace Prize to the “White Helmets.” As it turned out, they didn’t get that one, but they did receive the prestigious 2016 “Right Livelihood Award.”

On the U.S. side of the Atlantic, the “White Helmets” are treated with similar uncritical acclaim. They were the subject of the Oct. 17 TIME magazine cover story. Netflix has released a special “documentary” movie about them. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof has gushed over them for years, helping the group’s one-sided depiction of events inside Syria shape the pro-rebel narrative that is pretty much all the American and European publics hear about Syria.

And, this love-fest is not just confined to establishment media. DemocracyNow! ran a puff piece interview with the White Helmet infomercial directors. The Intercept published an uncritical promotion of the “White Helmets” and the group’s controversial leader. Codepink recommended the Netflix movie (though after receiving criticism about the endorsement, the anti-war group removed it).

Yet, despite the favorable “group think” regarding the “White Helmets” – and more broadly about the rebel cause in Syria – there is another side to the story, including the fact that the “White Helmets” are not just some well-meaning Syrians who emerged to help all civilians suffering from the five years of war.

Not only do they only operate in rebel-controlled areas but they are a source of propaganda about the war, indeed their very existence is an element in the larger propaganda campaign to rally international support for a “regime change” war in Syria. The “White Helmets” brand was conceived and directed by a New York-based marketing company named “The Syria Campaign,” which itself was “incubated” by a larger politically oriented marketing company called Purpose.

Along with managing the online and social media promotion of the White Helmets, the Syria Campaign has parallel efforts in support of “regime change” in Syria. One of these efforts has been to criticize United Nations and humanitarian relief organizations that supply aid to displaced persons living in areas protected by the Syrian government.

“The allegations made by the Syria Campaign and others were written by people who know nothing about the UN and how it must work,” according to an NGO worker operating in Damascus.

Exaggerated Claims

Claims that the “White Helmets” have saved 65,000 people also appear to be wildly exaggerated. The areas, served by the White Helmets and controlled by Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and its rebel allies, have few civilians living in them. A medical doctor visiting east Aleppo two years ago described it as a “ghost town,” yet Western media reports cite a highly inflated estimated population of 250,000.

Perhaps unintentionally, the “White Helmets” and one of their video teams confirmed this reality in producing a “cat video” when cat videos were all the rage on social media. In an apparent bid to bring cat lovers onto the side of “regime change” in Syria, the White Helmets’ video showed White Helmet members playing with stray cats in empty neighborhoods, saying: “The homeowners abandoned this district and its kittens.”

Besides promoting themselves as a humanitarian group, the White Helmets have become essential to the propaganda war by gaining — along with similar pro-rebel “activists” — a virtual monopoly on information from rebel-controlled areas, supplying a steady stream of heart-rending stories and images about suffering children to a credulous Western media wanting to believe everything bad about the Syrian government.

One of the reasons why the “White Helmets” have been so successful in inserting their propaganda into Western media is that most of the rebel zones of Syria, especially east Aleppo, have been off limits to Western journalists and other outside observers for years. Two of the last Western reporters to venture into rebel territory, James Foley and Stephen Sotloff, were subsequently beheaded by the Islamic State.

So, as the Syrian government and its allies finally try to expel Al Qaeda terrorists and their cohorts from east Aleppo, the White Helmets have become a major source for the Western news media which treats these “relief workers” as credible providers of on-the-ground information.

Thus, the positive image of the White Helmets and the group’s skillful use of social media deflect attention from the sectarian, violent and unpopular nature of Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front (recently renamed the Syria Conquest Front) and other armed opposition groups while hyping accusations that Syrian and Russian attacks are primarily hitting civilians.

In other words, the White Helmets have gone from being talked about to being the ones doing the talking. News stories increasingly use White Helmet witnesses as their sources, often in ways that promote the self-serving myth of White Helmet heroism. One day, CNN announced that a White Helmet aid center had been hit. Another day, TIME magazine claimed that White Helmet workers were being “hunted”.

‘Eyewitness’ Accounts

Reports from the White Helmets also have served as “eyewitness” accounts about the Syrian military using “barrel bombs,” including in an attack to destroy a Syrian Arab Red Crescent humanitarian convoy and warehouse on Sept. 19 in Orem al Kubra. But there were reasons to be suspicious of this claim since this town is controlled by the infamous Nour al Din al Zinki terrorist group, which recently filmed itself beheading a Palestinian Syrian boy.

U.S.-backed Syrian “moderate” rebels smile as they prepare to behead a 12-year-old boy (left), whose severed head is held aloft triumphantly in a later part of the video. [Screenshot from the YouTube video]

It was also illogical that Syrian or Russian planes would attack a SARC convoy, which they could have stopped when it was in government held territory. Plus, the Syrian government works with SARC. And, the ones to “benefit” from the attack were the rebels and their Western backers who cited this atrocity as another reason for “regime change” and to condemn the Russians for assisting the Syrian government. The attack also took attention away from the U.S. airstrike that killed some 70 Syrian soldiers on Sept. 17.

After the convoy was struck, the Russian and Syrian governments called for an independent investigation of the attack site but this has not been done, presumably because the terrorists controlling the area have not allowed it. Nevertheless, the narrative supplied by the White Helmets and other pro-rebel factions – blaming the Syrian government and their Russian allies – has dominated the Western media’s handling of the story.

The “White Helmets” also played a dubious role in allegations that the Syrian government was using chlorine gas in 2013 and 2014 by warning residents before the attacks to expect the Syrian military to drop chlorine bombs, although it was unclear how the activist first-responders would know that fact in advance. In one of the cases, seven witnesses told U.N. investigators that the rebels had staged the chlorine-gas attack, which could suggest that the “White Helmets” were in on the scam.

So, are the White Helmets heroes or a politically motivated hoax? The time to investigate is now, since it does little good to uncover the lies and manipulations years later, as has happened with the Iraqi and Libyan “regime change” invasions.

A Dangerous Replay

Evidence now suggests that we are seeing a replay of Curveball and the Iraqi WMD in 2003 and the bogus hysteria about stopping a Libyan “genocide” in 2011, both debunked by later investigations but too late to spare those countries from massive death and destruction.

The belated recognition by some Americans that they are being “had” again in Syria has led to some pushback against the mainstream media’s promotion of the “White Helmets” and other pro-rebel activists. In April 2015, Dissidentvoice published an expose of the group’s creation and purpose. Since then there have been other articles and videos revealing the reality behind the “feel good” veneer.

Vanessa Beeley has produced a number of articles about the fraudulent pretense that the “White Helmets” are Syrian Civil Defense, including documentation about the real Syrian Civil Defense, which was founded six decades ago. She initiated an online Change.org petition to NOT give the Nobel Peace Prize to the “White Helmets,” an initiative that must have upset some influential people because Change.org removed the petition without explanation. (You can read the text of the petition here.)

The real Syrian Civil Defense works on a shoestring budget with real volunteers without video teams accompanying and promoting them. Most in the West are unaware the real Syrian Civil Defense even exist. The situation is similar for the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, which is a genuinely neutral and independent relief organization and has a good website.

Another online petition, also at CHANGE.ORG, which is still up and running, calls on the Right Livelihood Foundation to rescind its award to the “White Helmets.” The petition includes a number of reasons why the group does not deserve the prize and are not what they are presented to be: they stole the name Syria Civil Defense from the real Syrian organization; they appropriated the name “White Helmets” from the Argentinian rescue organization Cascos Blancos/White Helmets; they are not independent; they are funded by governments; they are not apolitical; they actively campaign for a “no-fly zone” (which even Hillary Clinton has acknowledged would “kill a lot of Syrians” although she continues to promote the idea); they do not work across Syria; they only work in areas controlled by the armed opposition, mostly under the command of Al Qaeda’s affiliate Nusra Front; they are not unarmed; they sometimes do carry weapons and they also celebrate terrorist victories; they assist in terrorist executions.

Max Blumenthal wrote a two-part exposé at Alternet: “How the White Helmets became International Heroes while Pushing US Intervention and Regime Change in Syria” and “Inside the Shadowy PR Firm that’s Lobbying for Regime Change in Syria.”

Former weapons inspector Scott Ritter, who was one of the few voices daring to contest President George W. Bush’s false claims about Iraq’s WMD, wrote an article which challenged the White Helmets’“lionization.”

Internationally, the Israeli TV station I24 ran a special report with the title “White Helmets: Heroes or Hoax?” – giving equal coverage to supporters and critics. Even “The National” out of United Arab Emirates has documented the controversy around the White Helmets.

Not surprisingly, this dissent to the mainstream media’s love affair with the White Helmets drew return fire. The British military contractor who initially set up the group accused critics of being “proxies” for the Syrian and Russian governments (much as Ritter and other skeptics about the Iraqi WMD “group think” were called “Saddam apologists” in 2003).

The controversy also has done little to chasten the Western press corps from relying on the “White Helmets” as the go-to sources for information in Syria’s conflict zones.

Rick Sterling is an investigative journalist and member of Syria Solidarity Movement.

The Syrian Tragedy: Western Foreign Policy and its ‘Useful Idiots’

By Adeyinka Makinde |Global Research, October 24, 2016 | Adeyinka Makinde 23 October 2016

Recent media focus on the humanitarian crisis in the Syrian city of Aleppo has revealed the government promoted propagandistic methods of the Western mainstream media, which shorn of context and rich in bias uncritically accepts the narrative presented by politicians and attempts to shape public opinion to suit the needs of a war agenda.

An opinion piece in the UK Daily Mail by the historian Dominic Sandbrook which accused the leader of the British opposition Labour Party of ideological Left-inspired anti-American sentiment and lack of patriotism is part and parcel of the attempt to pathologize and demonize those who are critical of the West’s role in fomenting and sustaining the Syrian conflict.

The disingenuous media blitzkrieg on Aleppo is designed to justify military intervention on the part of the United States starting with the declaration of a ‘No Fly Zone’, which as the US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has plainly stated “will lead to war with Russia.” If such a catastrophic event were to ensue, it will not be the fault of the supposedly Putin-worshipping Left, but of the hubris of American post-Cold War foreign policy and the ‘useful idiots’ in the Western press who have promoted American militarism.

It was Vladimir Lenin who is claimed to have coined the phrase ‘useful idiot’. By useful idiot, Lenin is supposed to have been referring to those who did the bidding for the cause of Bolshevism in its propaganda war with the western capitalist nations. The term continued to be used as one to label those in the West who acted as mouthpieces for the Soviet Union by representing it as democratic when it was in fact repressive and as reasonable where its critics found it to be an inflexible monolith.

While there is no evidence that Lenin actually uttered these words, its usage in relation to those who backed policies perceived as being directly or indirectly favourable to the Soviet Union and its system has been contemporarily revived in relation to those who speak in ways which that are perceived as being supportive of the foreign policy of the Russian Federation, whose leader Vladimir Putin is also claimed to be subject to a species of personality cult often referred to as ‘Putin Worship.’

A recent article in the Daily Mail written by the historian Dominic Sandbrook entitled, “Putin’s useful idiots: Warped, deluded, ignorant. Corbyn’s support for Russia shames his party and his country”, utilized this angle in attacking Jeremy Corbyn, the opposition party leader in the United Kingdom Parliament, over over his rejection of British foreign secretary, Boris Johnson’s calls for people to demonstrate outside the Russian Embassy in London. Sandbrook, who describes Russian bombardment of the Syrian city of Aleppo as “one of the defining atrocities of our time”, likens the fate of the city to that of Guernica, the Basque town which in 1937 was subjected to heavy and indiscriminate bombing by the Luftwaffe during the Spanish Civil War.

Corbyn’s official spokesman, Seumas Milne’s response to Johnson, that the real tragedy was that Aleppo is “diverting attention” from the true villains in Syria; namely Britain and the United States, drew the ire of Sandbrook who accused Corbyn and Milne of exhibiting a characteristic of the “hard left” which is naturally inclined to anti-American sentiment and that is unabashedly unpatriotic and idealistic to the point of foolhardiness.

But whatever the merits of the criticism meted out against the ideological foibles of the political Left, Sandbrook’s disavowal of Western responsibility for the condition in which Syria is presently in is erroneous. What is more his piece, which is totally devoid of the true context of the Syrian conflict, smacks of being a propaganda-laden piece that is calculated to drum up public support for United States and NATO intervention in a tragedy which was the brainchild of the Western powers and their allies in the Middle East.

It is useful to begin by addressing the origins of the war in Syria. This cannot fail to take into account the unjustified invasion of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq by a coalition of forces led by the United States, a feat which was accomplished with the wholesale connivance and support of Britain. This event and the subsequent occupation created the circumstances for the radicalisation of large elements of the Sunni population. The genesis of what has come to be known as the Islamic State starts in Iraq with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian jihadist who pledged allegiance to Osama Bin Laden and formed al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), a militia which became a major force in the anti-American insurgency. A direct line can be traced from the formation of AQI in 2004 to the April 2013 inauguration of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which is also known by the shorter form of Islamic State (IS). Both the al-Qaeda affiliated Jabhat al Nusra and IS duly became embroiled in the insurrection against Bashar al Assad in Syria which commenced in 2011.

The Syrian conflict has complex origins which were rooted in genuine grievances against the Baathist government which has dominated Syria for decades. And the heavy-handed response by state enforcers to genuine protests when the idea of an ‘Arab Spring’ was gaining momentum did not show the Assad government in a good light. However, the present situation of warfare and carnage is not the result of a natural and progressive germination of a popular insurrection. Rather, it is one which has been sponsored by outside powers who have imported Islamist mercenaries to overthrow the secular government led by Bashar al Assad; the ‘Arab Spring’ presenting a convenient cover for the swamping of Syria with an assortment of Islamist death squads and militias.

It is against international law to overthrow the governments of foreign states and this criminal enterprise is directed by the United States which is aided by Britain and France, its major allies in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). Other allies such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are also heavily complicit in the Syrian tragedy.

The evidence is incontrovertible.

Speaking on the French Parliamentary TV network station LCP in June of 2013, the former French foreign minister Roland Dumas asserted that the Syrian War was “prepared, conceived and organized” at least two years in advance of what became an insurgency. He learnt of the project after been approached by British officials who informed him that they were preparing a project involving infiltrating Syria with rebel fighters.

Other prominent political figures have acknowledged that the United States was aware of the fact that funding for jihadist groups such as IS and al Nusra has come from Saudi, Qatari and other patrons from the Gulf states. Recently leaked email correspondence between Hillary Clinton and John Podesta, her current campaign chairman, confirms this. In one from 2014, Clinton writes that “…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.”

In fact, an earlier leak of a US State department cable that was sent under her name in December of 2009, stated that “Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaeda, the Taliban, LeT (Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan).”

Again at a speech at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University in October of 2014, US Vice President Joe Biden also let slip the following about American allies in the Middle East such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia:

They were so determined to take down Assad…that they poured hundreds of millions of dollars (and) thousands of tonnes of weapons to anyone who would fight against Assad except that those who were being supplied were al Nusra and al Qaeda and extremist elements of jihadis who were pouring in from other parts of the world.

The role of the Turkish Army High Command in providing rebels with training camps and allowing them to infiltrate Syria via several parts of its porous border became common knowledge as did the Turks role in nourishing and sustaining IS by buying oil produced from wells seized by the insurgents in territories previously governed by the Assad government.

Confirmation of this state of affairs has also come from the highest echelons of the United States military.General Martin Dempsey, then the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was speaking before the Senate Armed Services Committee in September 2014 when he asked whether he knew of “any major Arab ally who embraces ISIL”. He responded by saying, “I know major Arab allies who fund them”. This was echoed by Wesley Clark, a retired US army general and a former supreme commander of NATO, who told CNN in February 2015 that “ISIS got started through funding from our friends and allies.”

But there is evidence that the United States was not merely turning a blind eye towards the support given to jihadists by its Middle Eastern allies. It actively promoted it. Retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) admitted in an interview with al Jazeera that support for a jihadist insurgency in Syria appeared to have been a wilful decision on the part of the American government. Indeed, in March of 2013, both the British Daily Telegraph and New York Timesreported on the purchase and transfer of arms from Zagreb, Croatia to Turkey and Jordan for the use of Syrian rebels. These massive airlifts were coordinated by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) with the costs of purchase being borne by the Saudis.

There is confirmation of this transaction as having benefited radical Islamist militias. A report issued in 2014 by Conflict Armament Research was able to forensically pinpoint the origins of weapons recovered from Islamic State fighters in the battlefields of Syria via the serial numbers of anti-tank pieces which linked them to the aforementioned joint CIA/Saudi program.

Another compelling piece of evidence ascertaining what must be the existence of a series of ‘rat lines’ is that which relates to the British MI6’s cooperation with the CIA in 2012 over the transfer to Syrian rebels of stockpiles of munitions of the fallen army of Colonel Gaddafi.

While General Flynn told al Jazeera that the intelligence the DIA provided to the White House warned that “the Salafists, the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda in Iraq are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria”, the Pentagon’s role in enabling the insurgency is almost certainly part of a conscious application of long term planning.

In 2008, the RAND Corporation published a Pentagon-funded report describing the “long war”, a reference to an enduring conflict which the United States and its armed forces would be engaged in over the control of resources in the Middle East.

Entitled Unfolding the Future of the Long War: Motivations, Prospects and Implications for the U.S. Army, the report explicitly refers to the need for fomenting conflict between Sunni and Shia Muslims as a means through which the interests of the West could be served:

Divide and rule focuses on exploiting fault lines between the various Salafi-jihadist groups to turn them against each other and dissipate their energy on internal conflicts. This strategy relies heavily on covert action, information operations (IO), unconventional warfare and support to indigenous security forces…the United States and its local allies could use the nationalists jihadists to launch proxy IO campaigns to discredit the transnational jihadists in the eyes of the local populace…US leaders could also choose to capitalize on the ‘sustained Shia-Sunni conflict’ trajectory by taking the side of the conservative Sunni regimes against Shi’ite empowerment movements in against the Muslim world…possibly supporting authoritative Sunni governments against a continually hostile Iran.

The references to a “hostile Iran” as well as to sustaining a Shia-Sunni conflict acknowledge an established plank of American and Western policy which seeks to destroy the growing influence of the ‘Shia Crescent’; an alliance that stretches from Iran to Lebanon through Syria. A confluence of interests aiming to nullify this alliance is found among America’s allies in the region. The Israelis wish to destroy Syria in order to disrupt the flow of arms to Hezbollah in Lebanon, the only military force in the Arab world willing and capable of taking on the Israeli armed forces. The Saudis are desirous of overthrowing the minority Alawite government of Syria in order to establish Sunni hegemony, while the Turks, as with the Saudis and Qatar, were upset at Assad’s rejection of an oil pipeline deal that would link the Gulf with Western Europe via Turkey.

The specific recruitment of jihadis to undertake this task is no accident according to General Wesley Clark. “If you want somebody who will fight to the death against Hezbollah, you don’t put out a recruiting poster and say, ‘Sign up for us, we’re going to make a better world.’ You go after zealots and you go after these religious fundamentalists. That’s who fights Hezbollah.”

The credibility of the contention that groups such as IS and al Nusra are enabling the fulfilment of the Western agenda in the Middle East was significantly bolstered by the declassification of a DIA document from August 2012 which stated that the existence of an Islamic State in the eastern part of Syria was desired to effect the West’s policies in the region. A key aspect of the document, which was circulated to various US government agencies including the State Department, the CIA and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), reads as follows:

The West, Gulf countries, and Turkey (which) support the (Syrian) opposition…There is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor) and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime…

It is important to note that far from designating the burgeoning Islamic State militia as an enemy, the document envisioned it as a strategic asset.

The role of Israel as a major influence on this policy cannot be underestimated. As Roland Dumas said:

In the region (i.e. the Middle East), it is important to know that this Syrian regime has a very anti-Israeli stance…and I have this from the former Israeli prime minister who told me “we’ll try to get on with our neighbours, but those who don’t agree with us will be destroyed.”

The centrality of Israel to this conflict and Western backing of it is clear to all who acknowledge the powerful role of the Israel lobby in the United States, Britain and France and the effect on their respective foreign policies in the Middle East. It still holds true for those who prefer to view Israel as a ‘client state’ of the West in the Middle East. After all, as Vice President Biden has noted, “If there weren’t an Israel we’d have to invent one.” Israel is to Biden “a strategic necessity”.

The attitude of Israel to the Assad government was clearly enunciated by Michael Oren in September of 2013 as he stepped down from his role as ambassador to the United States. The Jerusalem Post quoted him thus:

The greatest danger to Israel is by the strategic arc that extends from Tehran to Damascus to Beirut. And we saw the Assad regime as the keystone in that arc. That is a position we had well before the outbreak of hostilities in Syria. With the outbreak of hostilities we continued to want Assad to go.

The goal of weakening Arab countries with strong nationalist governments has been a clear one from the time of Israel’s inception and is clearly articulated in the ‘Yinon Plan’ of the early 1980s. Formally titled A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties, Oded Yinon ‘s strategy involved Israel working towards dividing its Arab neighbours into ethnic and sectarian based mini-states. Egypt, the most populous Arab nation was earmarked for balkanisation into a Coptic Christian state and several Muslim statelets. Special attention was also given to the Ba’athist governments of Iraq and Syria. Of Syria, Yinon soothsayed the following:

Syria will fall apart in accordance with its ethnic and religious structure, into several states such as in present day Lebanon, so there will be a Shi’ite Alawi state along its coast, a Sunni state in the Aleppo area, another Sunni state in Damascus hostile to its northern nature and the Druzes will set up a state, maybe even in our Golan, and certainly in the Hauran and in northern Jordan.

While Israel has a peace treaty with Egypt, and has created a geopolitical arrangement that renders Jordan as its protectorate together with developing what effectively is a symbiotic alliance with the Saudis, both Hezbollah and the Syrian state have not been compliant neighbours. Israel has long forsworn the aim of achieving a comprehensive peace with the Arab world and instead has worked in stealth with its ‘friendly’ neighbours to “contain, destabilize and roll-back” shared common enemies.

This was the thinking behind A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm; a policy document produced in 1996 for Binyamin Netanyahu during his first stint as prime minister. Part of the strategy explicitly alludes to the “weakening, controlling and even rolling back” of Syria.

But this, if it needs reminding, is not the policy alone of the Israeli state. The fundamental policy of the United States towards the Middle East is virtually in sync with the goals of Israel. Those goals mentioned in the aforementioned ‘Clean Break’ document are synonymous with that of the neoconservative-authored ‘Statement of Principles’ by the Project for the New American Century. Featured among a list of states considered as hostile to the “interests and values” of the United States and which America needed to “challenge” in the post-Cold War era were Iraq, Syria and Iran.

That this was put into effect in the immediate aftermath of the September 11th attacks of 2001 cannot be denied. General Wesley Clark recalled how former colleagues at the Pentagon alerted him to the existence of a memorandum detailing how the United States was going to “take out seven countries in five years”. These were to be Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran.

This correlation between Western foreign policy objectives and those of Israel’s security aims are almost never acknowledged by serving Western leaders who are not challenged by the Western media over why Bashar Assad’s overthrow is being sought. Yet, Roland Dumas’ comments provide a much needed insight into this as do the words of Hillary Clinton in a leaked email written while she was still the serving Secretary of State: “The best way to help Israel deal with Iran’s growing nuclear capability,” Clinton wrote, “is to help the people of Syria overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad.”

This was, of course, not the brainchild of the Obama administration within which Clinton served, but was a continuum of policies devised during the tenure of George W. Bush. And as laid bare in an article published in the March 2007 edition of the New Yorker magazine, the United States had recalibrated it foreign policy in such a way as to provide support to Sunni militants sharing the ideology as the supposed perpetrators of the September 11 attacks on America. In doing so, Syria was firmly within America’s sights as a target for destruction. As the Pulitzer award-winning Seymour Hersh wrote:

The Saudi government, with Washington’s approval, would provide funds and logistical aid to weaken the government of President Bashar Assad of Syria. The Israelis believe that putting such pressure on the Assad government will make it more conciliatory and open to negotiations

In fact, if any confirmation were needed of the wiring of United States policy to the needs of Israel and the United States overarching culpability in fomenting the violent overthrow of Assad’s government as an essential part of destroying the ‘Shia Crescent’, the leaked Clinton email provides it. In Clinton’s own words:

Iran’s nuclear program and Syria’s civil war may seem unconnected, but they are. For Israeli leaders, the real threat from a nuclear-armed Iran is not the prospect of an insane Iranian leader launching an unprovoked Iranian nuclear attack on Israel that would lead to the annihilation of both countries. What Israeli military leaders really worry about -but cannot talk about- is losing their nuclear monopoly.

It is thus with an understanding of the background to Western involvement with the long term goals for the region and the modus operandi of supporting jihadists that the general attitude towards Russian military action in Syria and specifically towards ongoing events centred on the ancient metropolis of Aleppo can be best understood.

The Russian Federation, which has had an enduring relationship with Syria dating from the time of the Soviet Union, is involved in the Syrian conflict for reasons of fundamental national interest. It has a longstanding naval base in the coastal city of Tartus; one of only a few warm sea ports that it has at its disposal. It also has an interest in preventing the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad because the Western goal of securing the installation of a radical Islamic state or collection of mini-states in the stead of the secular-orientated Ba’athist government he heads would create the conditions for exporting Islamist terror to the Central Asian republics that border Russia.

The more overt form of Russian intervention which commenced at the end of September of 2015 was largely viewed as a welcome development by those who favour the idea of a return to a system ofmultipolarity in global security arrangements in contrast to the unipolar model that had existed since the ending of the US-Soviet Cold War.

The subsequent re-conquest of large swathes of Syrian territory from Assad’s opponents such as IS, laid bare the disingenuous claims of an earnest fight on the part of the United States and its allies. It certainly painted a stark contrast between fighting a war dedicated to defeating the jihadist militias as opposed to one geared merely towards ‘containing’ them.

The lukewarm response and outright hostility on the part of the United States and its allies towards Russian action in Syria was and is clearly based on the fact that Russia is succeeding in frustrating the policy objectives of using jihadist groups as a foreign legion tasked with creating a new order in the Middle East.

Put simply, the Western alliance does not want Russia to succeed because it wants the armed jihadist rebels, dominated by IS and al Nusra, to succeed.

Thus it is the case that the fall of Aleppo, after the reclaiming of other cities by the Syrian Army alongside Hezbollah and Iranian advisors, would mark a decisive setback for the West. The cries from the Western media over a “humanitarian crisis” in Aleppo also reveal with disturbing clarity the largely biased nature of the corporate Western media in effectively serving as a propaganda mouthpiece for the governments of the United States and Britain.

Western policy has created ongoing humanitarian crises in other parts of Syria and in other countries subjected to NATO intervention such as Iraq and Libya which are not of present concern to the media. The humanitarian disaster in the Yemen which is presently being caused by unrestrained Saudi Arabian military force is also not a priority for either Western governments or mainstream media organisations. The Saudis are, of course, mainly armed by American and British manufacturers.

The fate of the US-Russian ceasefire over Aleppo, undermined by a purportedly accidental massacre of over 60 Syrian Army troops in Dier al-Zour by NATO action, can be understood to be the inevitable ending of an agreement with a disingenuous party. The statement on September 22nd by the US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford before a US Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on US strategy in the Middle East, that the US military had no intention of sharing intelligence with their Russian counterparts if Moscow and Washington were ever to work together against Islamist militants in Syria, offered a great degree of clarification of the ‘accident’ at Dier al-Zour. The result of the attack had been to enable jihadist militias to take offensive positions.

The Western media allowed itself to report the issues surrounding Aleppo as partly being one associated with the need for the Russian Air Force to separate locations held by so-called ‘moderate rebels’ from those held by jihadist militias. The resurgent notion of the existence of ‘moderate rebels’, implying that a significant amount of anti-government fighters are both secular and democratic in ethos is a long discredited one.

Early studies undertaken of a range of indigenous anti-government militias fighting in the different regions of Syria found most subscribed to a Salafist agenda. These included groups such as Ahara Al-Sham, Jaysh al-Islam, Suqour al-Sham Brigade, Liwa al-whid and Liwa al-Tarmouk. A report by the Times of Israel in June 2014 quoted the Israeli Defence Force’s head of Military Intelligence Research and Analysis Division as estimating that over eighty percent of the opposition fighters “have a clear Islamist agenda.”

The United States itself admitted the abject failure of its plan to build a viable opposition political movement and a ‘Free Syrian Army’ when it announced that its $500 million dollar investment had only yielded a paltry five guerillas. But even when some militias have identified themselves as ‘Free Syrian Army’, they have been quick to reveal their underpinning ideology. Reporting from Aleppo earlier this year, the British journalist Peter Oborne related the story of a Syrian woman who sought refuge in the city. When her village had been taken over by a species of FSA, she was forced to stay at home and wear a black veil.

But the Western media has been sparing in its references to al Nusra, the dominant rebel force in and around Aleppo, during its reporting of the siege of the city. The media has also shown its acquiescence to government propaganda by unquestioningly accepting the explanation of an accident as having occurred at Dier al-Zour while unhesitatingly subscribing to Russian responsibility for an attack on an aid convoy heading to Aleppo.

While much of the media has revelled in filming half-naked and bloodied children evidently coached to mention “barrel bombs” and the name of “Bashar” as the instigator of the calamity surrounding them, there is little mention of al Nusra reportedly destroying hospitals and water supplies or of it holding people as human shields. The taking by al Nusra of the southwestern part of the city cut off over a million people and enabled the opposition to organise a siege which has prevented humanitarian aid from reaching them.

The al Nusra group is also reported to have executed militants attempting to flee the city and has followed this by killing their families. The media ignores Syrian government offers of safe passage for the terrorists of the sort that it has arranged in the past such as when reclaiming the city of Homs. When the media shows the physical destruction of the city, the implication is that Russian bombing is the sole cause. No regard is given to the fact that it had already sustained a great deal of damage before the Russian campaign began.

The Western mainstream media’s reporting of the Syrian crisis has for some time consistently followed a pattern of biased reporting of Russia alongside a campaign of demonization against its leader Vladimir Putin. Yet, whatever the shortcomings there are in regard to Russia’s internal governance, an objective reading of the flashpoints of Russian-NATO tensions reveals the Russian position as one that is reactive rather than aggressive. These include the NATO inspired provocations which led to the Russo-Georgian War of 2008 and the Ukrainian crisis which commenced in 2014.

The former involved an attack on South Ossetia by US and Israeli-trained Georgian troops while the latter involved a US-sponsored coup d’etat which deposed the democratically elected president and installed an ultra-nationalist regime which immediately made known its hostility towards Russia and the mainly Russian speaking eastern region. Russia withdrew from the parts of Georgia that it had occupied and did not mount an invasion of the Ukraine; it being content to apply its ‘Black Sea Doctrine’ by securing its warm sea port in Sevastopol via the annexation of Crimea after the holding of a plebiscite. Without its port in Crimea, Russian action in Syria would have been made more difficult.

In the same manner, the Russian action taken in Syria is one which was reacting to events imposed by the policies of the United States and its allies. America’s embrace of militarism through the Wolfowitz Doctrine has imbibed its policymakers with a belief in the limitless reach of an American sphere of influence while entitling Russia to none.

The Syrian conflict and the United States attitude towards Putin’s Russia is also best understood by reference to the key tenets of the Brzezinski Doctrine through which the United States has sought to militarily intimidate, weaken and ultimately dismantle what remained of the former Soviet Union in order to prevent the rise of a Eurasian power able to compete economically and militarily with the West. It has as its end game, the reducing of Russia, or its balkanized components, into a vassalage designed primarily to serve the energy needs of the West.

While there is some truth in the thesis of an extension of the use of the Russian military technique of Maskirovka into the realm of foreign policy propaganda, a dissection of the respective records of both Western governments and their Russian counterpart demonstrably show where the aforementioned aggressive and reactive currents of events have emerged.

Criticism of Western policy towards Russia does not only emanate from the traditional Left but from all parts of the political spectrum. The utility of ‘idiot’ analysts cannot be limited to those who are critical of Western foreign policy so far as it relates to Russia and the wider world. The Western media has been shown to be susceptible to forms of pressure and influence from the intelligence services.

For instance, ‘Operation Mass Appeal’ was set up by the British Secret Intelligence Service in the run up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. It was a campaign of media disinformation designed to exaggerate the military capabilities of the Iraqi military and thus influence public opinion. In 2005, the Lincoln Group, a Washington-based public relations company was revealed to have been placing articles in Iraqi newspapers which had been secretly written by the US military. The potential use of ‘black propaganda’ among other tried and tested devices of manipulation needs to be borne in mind in regard to the present media portrayal of Aleppo.

What also needs to be borne in mind are the possible affiliations of journalists to the intelligence services. In 2014, Udo Ulfkotte, a former editor of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, alleged that many of the top journalists in Western Europe are in the pay of the CIA. He claimed that both the CIA and the German Federal Intelligence Service or Bundesnachrichtendiens, bribe journalists to write articles favourable to NATO issues and other stories with a pro-Western agenda. This is done on the understanding that they may lose their jobs if they do not comply.

So while some analysts may be more prone to being critical of Western foreign policy than others owing to a residue of empathy the political Left may have towards the successor state of the Soviet Union or those white nationalists who tout Vladimir Putin as the saviour-in-waiting of the European races, it is clear that many reasonable pundits spanning the gamut of the political spectrum have come to the conclusion that the philosophies and doctrines guiding the conduct of Western foreign policy have been predicated on a hubristic drive for global hegemony.

It has not been Russia but the United States-led Western alliance which has destroyed Iraq, Libya and Syria. Yet, there is an apparent lack of reflection on the part of writers such as Dominic Sandbrook on the damage wrought by Western policy on Western prestige and its civilizational values.

The destruction of nation states and the attitudes expressed by leaders such as Madeleine Albright that the deaths of half a million Iraq children as a result of the imposition of sanctions prior to the war of 2003 were “worth it”, as well as the “we came, we saw, we died” remark by Hillary Clinton over the lynching of Colonel Gaddafi, have served to cast the West in a barbaric light.

It cannot by an stretch of the imagination be “warped” or “ignorant” -to use Sandbrook’s descriptions- to point out the West’s culpability for the Syrian tragedy. Britain’s role in fomenting the conflict has been clear from the earliest time of the conflict when reports indicated that British military officers were stationed at the border shared between Syria and Jordan and offering training to rebels and prospective insurgents arriving from abroad. The British Guardian newspaper reported in March 2013 that British, French and American military advisers were giving rebels what it termed “logistical and other advice in some form”.

The British role in Syria has provided clear evidence of the moral contradictions inherent in participating in foreign interventions of dubious legality. Consider for instance the collapse of the 2015 trial of a man charged with terrorist activities in Syria on the grounds that Britain’s security and intelligence services would have been “deeply embarrassed” because of their covert support for anti-Assad militias, and the conviction two weeks earlier of a London cab driver who received a life sentence for making improvised explosive devices while serving as part of the resistance to the illegal occupation of Iraq by US and British armed forces.

The connection between consciously and strategically utilizing radicalised Islamist guerrillas as a tool in unseating secular Arab governments such as in Syria and the perpetration of terror outrages on Western European soil by those sharing the same ideology appears rarely to be part of the public discourse.

The focus on Aleppo amid calls by leaders of the United States for war crimes investigations against Russia when the United States itself has refused to put itself under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court reeks of hypocrisy.

And in keeping with the deception at the very heart of Western involvement in Syria, which unlike that of Russia is not based on an invitation from the legitimate government of Syria, the calls for a ‘No Fly Zone’ over Aleppo are concerned less with ongoing human suffering and more to do with protecting the jihadist legions that are central to Western policy. As the aforementioned DIA document of 2012 provides, the declaration of ‘safe havens’, which is another term for ‘No Fly Zones’, is a technique used by the United States to shield and preserve areas conquered by Islamist insurgents. It is based on the template utilised in overthrowing the Gaddafi government in Libya and forms the first step towards a so-called ‘humanitarian war’.

By abandoning the idea that both Russia and the US-led alliance have jihadist militias as the common enemy in place of one earmarking Russia as the enemy and the obstacle to peace, the West and its mainstream media are effectively inviting a catastrophic collision between two nuclear armed powers. As General Dunford informed the Senate hearing of September 22nd, the imposition of a ‘No Fly Zone’ “will mean war with Russia.”

A war, it may be added, which would arise as a result of the illegal enterprise of arming a largely foreign-imported contingent of mercenaries to overthrow the government of a sovereign state. A war that would happen after consistent illegal violations of Syrian airspace and one for which the United States Congress has not given constitutional authorization.

Jeremy Corbyn proved to be right in his dissent in regard to the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and he is clearly right when he ascribes blame to the United States, Britain and their allies for the Syrian tragedy.

In the final analysis, it is Western journalists with the stances of Dominic Sandbrook who are fulfilling the appellation of ‘useful idiots’.

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer and law lecturer with an interest in geo-politics who is based in London, England.

The original source of this article is Adeyinka Makinde
Copyright © Adeyinka Makinde, Adeyinka Makinde, 2016

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