Tag Archives: Peter Tatchell

astroturfing for regime change: frontline in the (newest) war on the antiwar movement

A lot of good work for charity…

On Thursday [Feb 4th], David Cameron and Angela Merkel joined with lesser lights Erna Solberg, the Norwegian Prime Minister, and the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah in London to host the “Supporting Syria & the Region 2016” conference.

Alongside many other luminaries including Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, French foreign minister Laurent Fabius, European Council president, Donald Tusk, China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, the US secretary of state, John Kerry, and UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon, they were gathered – according to the “about” page of the official website – “to rise to the challenge of raising the money needed to help millions of people whose lives have been torn apart by the devastating civil war” by lending support to an “event built on 3 previous conferences that have been generously hosted in Kuwait.”

This hypertext link to “Kuwait” is intriguing to say the least. Following it you will read:

Kuwait is one of the world’s major international donors of humanitarian assistance and is both a pioneer and standard-bearer for the establishment of development funds in the Gulf region.

And:

Kuwait has increased its support for multilateral humanitarian action exponentially since the start of the crisis in Syria.

And how:

In September 2014, the United Nations, in recognition of Kuwait’s humanitarian efforts to bring together and galvanize the international community for the relief of the Syrian people, designated the State of Kuwait an “International Humanitarian Centre”.

Largesse that is indeed confirmed by an analysis paper published by the Brookings Institute back in December 2013. However, there is charity and there is charity…

Over the last two and a half years, Kuwait has emerged as a financing and organizational hub for charities and individuals supporting Syria’s myriad rebel groups. These donors have taken advantage of Kuwait’s unique freedom of association and its relatively weak financial rules to channel money to some of the estimated 1,000 rebel brigades now fighting against Syrian president Bashar al-Asad. […]

From the early days of the Syrian uprising, Kuwait-based donors—including one group currently under U.S.sanction for terrorist financing—began to pressure Syrians to take up arms. The new brigades often adopted the ideological outlook of their donors. As the war dragged on and the civilian death toll rose, the path toward extremism became self-reinforcing. Today, there is evidence that Kuwaiti donors have backed rebels who have committed atrocities and who are either directly linked to al-Qa’ida or cooperate with its affiliated brigades on the ground. 1 [bold emphasis added]

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Mission accomplished: the oil and the gold

Though the French-proposed U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 claimed the no-fly zone implemented over Libya was to protect civilians, an April 2011 email sent to Hillary with the subject line “France’s client and Qaddafi’s gold” tells of less noble ambitions.

The email identifies French President Nicholas Sarkozy as leading the attack on Libya with five specific purposes in mind: to obtain Libyan oil, ensure French influence in the region, increase Sarkozy’s reputation domestically, assert French military power, and to prevent Gaddafi’s influence in what is considered “Francophone Africa.”

Most astounding is the lengthy section delineating the huge threat that Gaddafi’s gold and silver reserves, estimated at “143 tons of gold, and a similar amount in silver,” posed to the French franc (CFA) circulating as a prime African currency. In place of the noble sounding “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) doctrine fed to the public, there is this “confidential” explanation of what was really driving the war [emphasis mine]:

This gold was accumulated prior to the current rebellion and was intended to be used to establish a pan-African currency based on the Libyan golden Dinar. This plan was designed to provide the Francophone African Countries with an alternative to the French franc (CFA).

(Source Comment: According to knowledgeable individuals this quantity of gold and silver is valued at more than $7 billion. French intelligence officers discovered this plan shortly after the current rebellion began, and this was one of the factors that influenced President Nicolas Sarkozy’s decision to commit France to the attack on Libya.)

Though this internal email aims to summarize the motivating factors driving France’s (and by implication NATO’s) intervention in Libya, it is interesting to note that saving civilian lives is conspicuously absent from the briefing.

Instead, the great fear reported is that Libya might lead North Africa into a high degree of economic independence with a new pan-African currency.

French intelligence “discovered” a Libyan initiative to freely compete with European currency through a local alternative, and this had to be subverted through military aggression. 2

The quoted document can be read in full at the U.S. Dept of State FOIA virtual reading room.

Click here to the full article “Hillary’s Dirty War in Libya” at Global Research.

Thus, to prevent Libya slipping outside the global financial stranglehold held by western financiers, the French led the way for Nato to unleash a barrage of “shock and awe” air strikes under cover of the dusted down UN “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) doctrine and a “no-fly zone”. This opened the way to the seizure and control of national resources including Libyan oil, and, if this recently declassified memo is accurate, Gaddafi’s gold and silver reserves which were “intended to be used to establish a pan-African currency”.

The motive was always regime change and scare stories such as the one about Viagra-fuelled mass rape dutifully planted by our ever complaisant media, although quickly debunked, still served as an adequate pretext for “intervention”. Nato’s attack on Libya had nothing to do with saving lives:

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week said she was “deeply concerned” that Gaddafi’s troops were participating in widespread rape in Libya. “Rape, physical intimidation, sexual harassment, and even so-called ‘virginity tests’ have taken place in countries throughout the region,” she said.

Donatella Rovera, senior crisis response adviser for Amnesty, who was in Libya for three months after the start of the uprising, says that “we have not found any evidence or a single victim of rape or a doctor who knew about somebody being raped”. 3

Compare this with today’s callous indifference toward the plight of ordinary Libyans suffering the lawless mayhem of life in a failed state overrun with Salafist warlords. It isn’t hard to understand why. The west has “won” that war: the transnationals got what they wanted. “We came, we saw, he died”, as Hillary famously gloated. With Gaddafi dead, the real mission was indeed accomplished: the spoils were “ours”.

So ended one more episode in an already tedious and dreadful tale…

Read more about western motives for war on Iraq in this earlier post.

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Solidarity with refugees

By late Summer 2014, however, the exodus of refugees from war-torn Libya had become so great that the British government felt compelled to take action. And act it did, in accordance with its genuine concerns:

Britain will not support any future search and rescue operations to prevent migrants and refugees drowning in the Mediterranean, claiming they simply encourage more people to attempt the dangerous sea crossing, Foreign Office ministers have quietly announced.

So Cameron and his government washed their hands of all responsibility. The “swarm of people” – Cameron’s own obscene description 4 – fleeing from a war in Libya that he had personally helped to ignite, needed to be held back whatever the human costs. Indeed, as the Guardian article of late 2014 continues:

Refugee and human rights organisations reacted with anger to the official British refusal to support a sustained European search and rescue operation to prevent further mass migrant drownings, saying it would contribute to more people dying needlessly on Europe’s doorstep. […]

The British Refugee Council chief executive, Maurice Wren, responding to the Foreign Office refusal to take part in future search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean said: “The British government seems oblivious to the fact that the world is in the grip of the greatest refugee crisis since the second world war.

“People fleeing atrocities will not stop coming if we stop throwing them life-rings; boarding a rickety boat in Libya will remain a seemingly rational decision if you’re running for your life and your country is in flames. The only outcome of withdrawing help will be to witness more people needlessly and shamefully dying on Europe’s doorstep.

“The answer isn’t to build the walls of fortress Europe higher, it’s to provide more safe and legal channels for people to access protection.” 5

However, these faceless boat-people were about to be given their humanity back, if only momentarily. It would take the horror of seeing the washed up body of drowned Syrian toddler Alan Kurdi. An image of war that lodged in our minds and stirred feelings of sorrow and compassion more effectively than any amount of pictures of ruined buildings or grainy videos of air strikes. Almost at a stroke, the public perception of the “immigrant crisis” was altered. 6

Little more than a week later on Saturday 12th September, the Solidarity with Refugees event kicked off at Park Lane and headed to Downing Street “with speeches in Parliament Square from a number of politicians and public figures including Jeremy Corbyn, the newly elected leader of the Labour party, and musician and activist Billy Bragg.”

In fact, Jeremy Corbyn had only been elected Labour leader a couple of hours earlier. Yet, almost immediately thereafter, and in characteristic fashion, he turned his back on the clamouring press hounds (who had done their best to ignore him up until then), barely acknowledging their presence at all, and made a short journey to speak instead to a mass rally in Parliament Square:

Parliament Square was packed with Corbyn supporters waving banners reading “refugees welcome” and other messages of support. They cheered and chanted “Jez we can, Jez we can” as he took to the stage hours after being voted Labour leader and demanded that the government recognise its “obligations in law”.

Corbyn said: “Recognise your obligations to help people which you’re required to do by law, that would be good. But above all, open your hearts and open your minds and open your attitude towards supporting people who are desperate, who need somewhere safe to live, want to contribute to our society, and are human beings just like all of us. Together in peace, together in justice, together in humanity, that surely must be our way forward.” 7

I wasn’t amongst the crowds, but I had lent a little support to the occasion by promoting the “Solidarity with Refugees” rally here on this blog in the preceding days. The announcement copied directly from a Stop the War Coalition email read (in part):

Stop the War has come together with many other organisations to call for a national demonstration in London. We are also urging our members, supporters and groups to take any action they can on that day where they live, alongside anti-racist and refugee groups.

Successive British governments have spent billions on wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, plus on covert intervention in Syria. The outcome has been destruction of infrastructure across the Middle East, the growth of terrorism in the region, and the displacement of millions.

Their only solution is further war, even though it is increasingly obvious that this option is only creating yet more chaos. Just as we oppose wars, we try to show solidarity with its victims.

At the bottom of the page there was an accompanying list of those “other organisations” (also available on facebook):

National day of action called by Stand up to Racism, BARAC, Stop the War Coalition, Migrant Rights Network War on Want, Peoples Assembly Against Austerity, Movement Against Xenophobia, Unite Against Fascism, Love Music Hate Racism and Black Out London.

However, if you follow the link from the Guardian instead (find it above), it takes you to a somewhat different list of key organisations posted on an alternative facebook page. This altered roll call reads in full as follows:

Supported by Syria Solidarity Movement, the Refugee Council, Refugee Action, Amnesty International, Stand Up to Racism, BARAC, Stop the War Coalition, Migrant Rights Network, War on Want, People’s Assembly Against Austerity, Movement Against Xenophobia, Unite Against Fascism, Love Music Hate Racism, Black Out London, Emergency UK, Student Action for Refugees, London2Calais, British Syrian Medical Society, Avaaz.

There are a number of variations between these lists, but I wish primarily to draw attention to two changes in particular (as highlighted). Firstly, at the head of this extended list there is a relatively unknown organisation called the “Syria Solidarity Movement”. Secondly, there is Avaaz.

Now, had I realised Avaaz were in any way connected to this action, I would not have promoted it, regardless of the endorsement of the Stop the War Coalition (StWC) and Jeremy Corbyn. Why? Because Avaaz is not, and never has been, any part of the antiwar movement – in fact, of all the prominent campaign groups, Avaaz was foremost in calling for military action against Libya. Having played a prominent role in bringing about the destruction of Libya, rather than offering up apologies, Avaaz then promptly demanded another Nato “no-fly zone” over Syria. (Read more here.)

So the presence of Avaaz at any event raises my suspicions. But then we also have the “Syria Solidarity Movement” at the top of the list – so who are they?

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Syrian solidarity and the lesser known “IS Network”

The [Solidarity with Refugees] protest was set up less than two weeks ago by Ros Ereira, 38, from north London. The former television producer, who currently spends much of her time looking after her toddler daughter, created a Facebook page on 1 September calling for today’s protest. Within a week tens of thousands of people had pledged they would come and she had the logistical support of major organisations including Amnesty, Stop the War, the Refugee Council and Syria Solidarity UK.

According to the same article in The Independent:

Ms Ereira said: “I was looking for a demonstration ahead of the European summit and when I couldn’t find anything my friends encouraged me to set up something of my own. I thought it would just be my friends and now unexpectedly 90,000 people have said they’re going to come.”

Abdulaziz Almashi, 30, co-founder of Syria Solidarity UK, will be among those leading the rally. Mr Almashi is a computer science PhD student who came to the UK from Syria in 2009 to study. He still has brothers in Syria working as a doctor and a dentist in field hospitals. “Syrians have been abandoned totally by the international community,” he said. “If the international community doesn’t want to stop the massacres in Syria, the least they can do is accept refugees.” 8

In fact, Abdulaziz Almashi, who shared the podium with Ros Ereira at the rally, was a co-organiser of the rally, as London’s Evening Standard makes clearer. 9  And this where the story starts to gets interesting…

For just who is Abdulaziz Almashi and the campaign group Syria Solidarity UK? Well, type “Syria Solidarity UK” into google and the top link brings up a site with domain name http://www.syriauk.org/.

Click on that link and you open the Syria Solidarity UK website which also calls itself the “Syria Solidarity Movement UK” or more simply “Syria Solidarity Movement”. The site also takes you to a facebook page for “Syria Solidarity Movement”. In short, “Syria Solidarity UK” (co-founded by Abdulaziz Almashi) and the “Syria Solidarity Movement” (most prominent amongst the supporters of the “Solidarity for Refugees” rally) turn out to be the same organisation – or if there is any difference between them then I entirely fail to discern it.

As human rights groups go, this particular “Syria Solidarity Movement” is a relative newcomer, and certainly not to be confused with an entirely unconnected campaign group that shares an identical name – more on this later. The first sightings I could find appear in the articles of a similarly greenhorn Trotskyite website called “International Socialist Network”, which chose the ill-fated abbreviated acronym “IS”. 10

 

This lesser known “IS Network” formed from a splinter group of the Socialist Workers Party but then quickly became defunct, having “voted unanimously to dissolve itself in April 2015” less than two years after its formation in June 2013. “Sharing a rage and a desire for change is not enough to hold an organisation together in the long term,” they wrote in a solemn swansong.

But a year prior to their dissolution, IS Network posted this:

The Syria Solidarity Movement is a new organisation created by Syrian and socialist activists after the conference “Syria in the context of the Arab Uprisings”. Its [sic] an attempt to provide much belated solidarity for the Syrian revolution from the socialist and workers movement in Britain.

We’re currently trying to link up all the different student groups and activists who have been doing solidarity work on Syria in isolation, and build a cohesive movement which can begin to counter some of the slanders and lies which have dogged the Syrian revolution since it began.

And to be clear here: this initial call to recruit activists to establish a “Syria Solidarity Movement” contains a hypertext link to the same organisation later “co-founded by Abdulaziz Almashi”.

The post then continues:

The main [lie] is that somehow what has happened in Syria isn’t a genuine revolution, or that its revolutionary potential has disappeared following the escalation of the military conflict. This is false. […]

We will do what we can to rectify this by promoting links between student organisations, trade unions and solidarity campaigns in Britain, and the civil opposition on the ground in Syria which still keeps alive the spirit of the revolution.

We have working groups for students, trade union activists, humanitarian aid and media. If you wish to volunteer for any, please contact us. 11

Later other “radical leftist” groups went on to promote this new offshoot called the “Syria Solidarity Movement”.

For instance, on September 10th (a few days prior to the rally in London), RS21 (short for revolutionary socialism in the 21st century, which is just a different splinter group made up of disaffected SWP members) wrote:

Suddenly, everyone is talking about Syria. Saturday’s demonstration will be in solidarity with all refugees, but a Syrian refugee is one of the key organisers. Campaigners from the Syria Solidarity Movement UK and Stop the War Coalition are among those involved in the planning, along with many other organisations. Everyone should welcome this commitment to unity against the government’s treatment of refugees and other migrants.

The article also adds a different piece of the jigsaw (since if Abdulaziz Almashi is one co-founder of the group, then who else works alongside him?):

As part of an ongoing discussion, Mark Boothroyd, who was a founding member of the Syria Solidarity Movement UK, argues that the mainstream anti-war movement has failed Syrian revolutionaries struggling against a brutal dictatorship. 12 [bold highlight as original]

Following the links (or my footnotes), it turns out that Mark Boothroyd was, in fact, the author of the previously quoted IS Network recruitment drive which had encouraged activists to join the new “Syria Solidarity Movement” (see above).

Later, in November 2015, the (supposedly) alternative magazine Left Foot Forward wrote:

“The Syria Solidarity Movement UK was formed to give solidarity to the people of Syria in their struggle for a democratic and free Syria.” 13

(With link retained – which connects, of course, back to the Syria Solidarity UK website.)

By December, Peter Tatchell, someone I once admired, was also linking arms with Syria Solidarity UK.

Then, on December 9th, a letter appeared in the Guardian. It was provocatively entitled “Stop the War faces a coalition of critics” and signed by (amongst others but in the order as published) Abdulaziz Almashi Syria Solidarity UK,  Peter Tatchell human rights campaigner, Darren Johnson Green party London assembly member (although not by Caroline Lucas), Muzna Al-Naib Syria Solidarity UK, and Mark Boothroyd Syria Solidarity UK.

It begins:

We write as previous strong supporters of the Stop the War Coalition and applaud its mobilisation against the disastrous UK and US attack on Iraq. Sadly, since then, on the issue of Syria, StWC has lost its moral compass and authority.

What the signatories to this letter share, it seems, is the opinion that war in Syria remains ‘revolutionary’ in character (in the Marxist sense); their condemnation of StWC continuing as follows:

As well as systematically ignoring war crimes committed by the Assad regime, StWC often misrepresents the opposition to Assad as being largely composed of jihadi extremists and agents of imperialism; marginalising the non-violent, secular, democratic, local community and non-aligned opposition to his tyranny. 14 [bold emphasis added]

But this characterisation both of “the rebels” and the antiwar movement is demonstrably false. For the (armed) opposition to Assad is indeed “largely composed of jihadi extremists” having infiltrated as a fifth column during the very earliest stages of the conflict. That the opposition is comprised of mercenaries and terrorists is now well-documented (as I have previously shown). It is also easy to establish that these same jihadist groups have been bankrolled by our Gulf State allies and greatly assisted by Nato member Turkey. So they are indeed “agents of imperialism” (if, perhaps, unwitting ones) in a proxy war between, on the one hand, Saudi Arabia and Iran, and more broadly the US, Nato and Israel against Russia.

Moreover, the charge that StWC is “marginalising the non-violent, secular, democratic, local community and non-aligned opposition to his tyranny” may provide a clever smokescreen, but it is also execrable nonsense. All it actually means is their own opinion has been marginalised, which is hardly surprising, since those leading the attack against StWC are neither “non-aligned” nor honest brokers for peace.

And this is why in the concluding sentences they talk only of the “Syrian people’s struggle against the war being inflicted on them by both Isis and Assad” 15 failing to include any mention whatsoever of the extraordinary array of jihadist factions fighting alongside the lesser forces of so-called Free Syrian Army (which is itself a dubious conglomeration of Islamist militia). There is no mention even of Jabhat al-Nusra – Syria’s main branch of al-Qaeda.

This is what Mark Boothroyd, co-founder of the “Syria Solidarity Movement” and signatory to the Guardian letter, concluded an extended piece he wrote in praise of “the rebels”:

For these reasons, whatever happens, the rebels will keep fighting. Spokesperson for Ahrar Al-Sham, Ahmad Qura Ali commented:

The regime continuing and Assad staying is a failure….It also demonstrates disrespect towards the sacrifices of the Syrian people and, even more importantly, irreverence towards the will of the Syrian people,” 16

Boothroyd’s tacit endorsement of Ahrar Al-Sham (amongst other ‘rebel factions’) tells us a great deal. For Ahrar Al-Sham (literally “Islamic Movement of the Free Men of the Levant”) is indeed leading “the revolution” as one of the largest brigades in this so-called “moderate opposition”. And yet, Ahrar Al-Sham describes itself – on its own website – in the following manner [translation courtesy of Al Jazeera]:

“The Islamic Movement of Free Men of the Levant 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)”. 17

This is the “revolution” Mark Boothroyd and comrades are backing today.

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Syrian Solidarity UK: leading the pro-war advocates

Earlier I outlined what you will find if you type “Syria Solidarity UK” into google. But what if instead you type “Syria Solidarity Movement” – that other name for the same organisation? The top link then turns out not to be the campaign group co-founded by Abdulaziz Almashi and Mark Boothroyd, but a totally different and unrelated “Syria Solidarity Movement”. An organisation that adopted the domain name syriasolidaritymovement.org long before Almashi and Boothroyd decided to create their alternative.

So the immediate and most obvious question is this: why adopt the name of a pre-existing campaign organisation? An odd decision made odder since it automatically denies you ownership of a matching domain name. Indeed, can there be any rational explanation other than here is a case of deliberate identity theft? A new campaign group, with an outlook diametrically opposed to its rival, set up deliberately to overwrite it. Not conduct befitting a benign human rights organisation.

More surprising, maybe (please judge for yourself), is how factions of the erstwhile ‘radical left’ have fallen lockstep in line with establishment demands voiced by our corporate media who demand “intervention” in Syria. But then, once you delve into the articles above, a common theme emerges: the same one expounded in that front-running article published by IS Network (quoted above) “to counter some of the slanders and lies which have dogged the Syrian revolution since it began… that somehow what has happened in Syria isn’t a genuine revolution”. This stated goal of “keep[ing] alive the spirit of the revolution” is ostensibly the reason RS21, Left Foot Forward, and the Peter Tatchell Foundation are backing this new “Syrian Solidarity Movement”:

The Syria Solidarity Movement UK was formed to give solidarity to the people of Syria in their struggle for a democratic and free Syria. Our membership is made up of Syrians and friends of Syrians. Our positions are led by the needs and demands of Syrians suffering brutally at the hands of a criminal regime. 18

The above statement under the title “Why Stop the War don’t want to listen to Syrians”, was penned by Syria Solidarity UK but published by Left Foot Forward. And what follows is another hit piece aimed squarely at the Stop the War Coalition in which the organisation accuses StWC of excluding “Syrians from discussion of their own country” and then lying about it. Yet in reality, this tiny group which has somehow managed to get tremendous media attention (more in a moment) has latched on to StWC in a deeply parasitical fashion. Here, for instance is Abdulaziz Almashi, co-founder of “Syria Solidarity Movement”, giving a soapbox speech outside the BBC before joining a Stop the War march on December 12th (a month to the day after his organisation published the statement above which lambasts StWC):

The problem is this: what is an organisation that openly calls “for action to protect civilians in Syria, including limited military action to enforce a no-bombing zone”19 doing at an antiwar rally in the first place? Worse, why is their co-founder provocatively waving the flag of “rebel armies” comprised of and affiliated to Islamist militia groups that were armed, trained and funded by western governments and their Gulf State allies? The answer Abdulaziz Almashi gives to all these questions is this one: “listen to Syrians”. A three word refrain that begins his speech, just as in sloganised form it lends legitimacy and moral authority to his whole Syria Solidarity UK campaign.

Moreover, as a slogan it is as fraudulent as it is deliberately dishonest. There is no singular Syrian voice. How could there be? Not that the gulf between pro- and anti-government sides is the razor sharp divide of Shia versus Sunni we are encouraged to believe. In fact, most of those who support the government including fighters in the Syrian Army are Sunni not Shia. 20 And if we are really to “listen to Syrians” then we will find a wide range of opinions (as you would from any other nation), although only a minority of those living in Syria who support these so-called “rebel groups”, which are indeed sectarian. What the majority desire instead, besides a rapid return to law and order, is the restoration of Syria as a secular society:

[T]he results of a recent YouGov Siraj poll on Syria commissioned by The Doha Debates, funded by the Qatar Foundation. Qatar’s royal family has taken one of the most hawkish lines against Assad – the emir has just called for Arab troops to intervene – so it was good that The Doha Debates published the poll on its website. The pity is that it was ignored by almost all media outlets in every western country whose government has called for Assad to go.

That comes from an article by Jonathan Steele published by the Guardian more than four years ago in January 2012. He continues:

The key finding was that while most Arabs outside Syria feel the president should resign, attitudes in the country are different. Some 55% of Syrians want Assad to stay, motivated by fear of civil war – a spectre that is not theoretical as it is for those who live outside Syria’s borders. What is less good news for the Assad regime is that the poll also found that half the Syrians who accept him staying in power believe he must usher in free elections in the near future. 21

Click here to read Jonathan Steele’s full article entitled “Most Syrians back President Assad, but you’d never know from western media”.

Reliable polls of the Syrian people are hard to find but a subsequent ones from May 2013 based on Nato data and published by the World Tribune also reported widespread support for Assad compared with almost none for the opposition. 22 Likewise, a more recent survey conducted last summer by ORB International, a U.K.-based market research firm, published in the Washington Post on September 15th, found only 21% of Syrians said they “prefer life now than under Assad”; 79% said “foreign fighters made the war worse” and; significantly, 49% “oppose US coalition air strikes”. 23 Once again, this is far from the ringing endorsement for “intervention” claimed by supporters of “Syria Solidarity Movement”.

So there are two points to highlight here. Firstly, the so-called “Syria Solidarity Movement” of Abdulaziz Almashi is not about “Syrian solidarity” at all. Indeed, rather than taking an impartial stance, it allies itself with the entire coalition of the anti-Assad forces (with the singular exception of ISIS from which it sensibly distances itself). Secondly, although it portrays itself as a human rights organisation, it is actually a pro-war movement – openly so once one delves into any of its literature – yet on occasions when it suits, it feigns an antiwar position.

In fact, once we consider the background and origins of “Syria Solidarity Movement” in any detail, it begins to look very much like a Trojan Horse set up to infiltrate and embarrass the antiwar movement. It is surely noteworthy, therefore, that both the BBC and Channel 4 have given this otherwise inconsequential and fledging organisation considerable airtime.

On November 5th, for instance, Muzna Al-Naib of Syria Solidarity UK was allowed ten minutes on BBC’s Daily Politics show to interrogate Labour MP Diane Abbott about StWC’s alleged “silencing of Syrians” when a few supporters of the group disrupted a public meeting. Throughout the studio debate, presenter Andrew Neil does his best to chaperone Muzna Al-Naib. Her political stance is never questioned and neither did he challenge the highly confrontational approach of the protesters (one of whom was the very non-Syrian Peter Tatchell):

(Incidentally, Diane Abbott comes across quite badly in this interview – not for the first time in her political career – but then so, in my opinion, does the unnervingly self-satisfied Muzna Al-Naib and insufferably smug host Andrew Neil.)

Here is Muzna Al-Naib again, now sat beside two likeminded compatriots answering softball questions on Channel 4 news on November 30th. The tone of the report is peremptorily favourable from the outset: “South London, where we’ve come to hear from Syrians, who know most about Syria, but whose voice is heard least… what do Syrian’s themselves actually think?” Direct echoes of the tendentious refrain of Syria Solidarity UK itself:

And here is Abdulaziz Almashi interviewed (a little more vigorously) by BBC news on December 23rd:

In little more than a year then, two representatives of the group (one a co-founder) have reached a television audience of millions and on at least three occasions. One has to marvel at such rapid success. What’s their secret…?

*

Avaaz and Purpose Inc.

In one of the very first posts put up by the Syria Solidarity UK website, published in March 2015, there are two closely affiliated organisations that are hypertext linked. Here is the concluding section of the relevant article:

Following the 16 March [chlorine gas] attacks, Syria Civil Defence, also known as the White Helmets, have called for the imposition of a no-fly zone in Syria to stop further air attacks on civilians by the Assad regime. You can sign a petition in support on their website, www.whitehelmets.org.

Press release from The Syria Campaign.

See the syria2015.org.uk site for more on our 4th Anniversary March demand for a no-fly zone. 24

Each of the links above leads to a webpage that loudly calls for a “no-fly zone”. No great surprise given that at every turn of their own campaign this demand for western “intervention” is repeated. For example, this photo features prominently on the “about” page:

But what about those linked-in organisations: the “White Helmets” and “The Syria Campaign” – groups that also feature prominently as sidebar links beneath the heading ‘resources’? Cory Morningstar, an independent investigative journalist, has located the lynchpin. She writes:

The New York public relations firm Purpose has created at least four anti-Assad NGOs/campaigns: The White Helmets, Free Syrian Voices, The Syria Campaign and March Campaign #withSyria.

Adding that:

Purpose Inc. (with its co-founders) is a favourite of high-finance websites such as The Economist and Forbes and sells its consulting services and branding/marketing campaigns to Google, Audi, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and many others that comprise the world’s most powerful corporations and institutions. In 2012, it raised $3m from investors. “Ford Foundation, which has given Purpose’s non-profit arm a grant, reckons it is shaping up to be “one of the blue-chip social organisations of the future.” 25

Click here to read the full article.

So is there evidence supporting Morningstar’s accusations of astroturfing? Well, this is where my own trail had also been inadvertently leading – but then it soon seems that all roads lead to Purpose Inc.

The Syria Campaign is a non-profit organisation registered as a company in the United Kingdom as The Voices Project—company number 8825761. (You can’t be a registered charity in the UK if most of your work is campaigning.)

We have a Governing Board who are legally responsible for the organisation and oversee strategy and finance for The Syria Campaign. The board members are Daniel Gorman, Ben Stewart, Sawsan Asfari, Tim Dixon and Lina de Sergie. [Bold highlights added]

That was taken from “about” on The Syria Campaign website. It continues:

The Syria Campaign is fiercely independent and accepts no money from governments, corporations or anyone directly involved in the Syrian conflict. This allows us full autonomy to advocate for whatever is needed to save lives.

Seed funding for The Syria Campaign was provided by The Asfari Foundation with supporting funds from other Syrian donors across the world who are frustrated by global inaction on Syria. [bold highlight added]

Following the trail a little further brings up who is behind “The Voices Project” (Avaaz also means “voice” by the way). It is a registered company and so comparatively easy enough to find some further answers:

The Voices Project 26 has a registered office address at c/o Paul A. Hill & Co, 3 Bull Lane, St Ives, Cambridgeshire [a firm of charter accountants who specialise in “tax services”] and eight current officers who are Sawsan Asfari (appointed 17 July 2015), Timothy Edwin Dixon (appointed 8 September 2014), Daniel Gorman (appointed 17 July 2015), John Jackson (appointed 8 September 2014), Salma Kahale (appointed 17 July 2015), Lina Sergie Attar (appointed 17 July 2015), Ben John Stewart (appointed 17 July 2015) and, last but not least, Jeremy Heimans (appointed 24 December 2013). 27

Most of those named tally with the board members declared by The Syria Campaign, but there are two exceptions – both highlighted above – Timothy Edwin Dixon 28 and Jeremy Heimans. Two names which alongside John Jackson (also highlighted) also form part of a different team:

Meet the team on a mission: when it comes to moving people towards action, we’re the experts.

A little of the blurb that greets you at the organisation called Purpose. And beneath the blurb are pictures of the shiny, happy people who work there including Jeremy Heimans, who is co-founder and Chief Executive Officer; Tim Dixon, listed as both Chief Political Strategist and Managing Director of Purpose Europe 29; and John Jackson, a Senior Advisor.

“Purpose moves people to remake the world” it says on a different webpage with rolling footage of an unnamed actor (Middle Eastern in appearance) being gently unblown up, a young child actress tinkering with a handgun in such a curious manner as to cause you to want to grab it off her, and a debonair couple, the black man eyeing an untouchable white companion. The message is this: we are cool, we are sophisticates, we are right on! It is a message determined to enter your mind like a maddening but seductive whisper.

On the “about” page, Purpose tells us more:

We create new organizations and ventures to tackle issues where mass participation and collective action can unlock big change.

This it admits with unflinching candour before adding how when it comes to their ‘philosophy’, Purpose deals in “Pragmatic Idealism”:

We take the world as it is in order to help make it what it ought to be. We challenge power when we need to—but that’s not all we do. We proudly collaborate with the public and private sectors, old and new power, allies and adversaries—all with eyes wide open.

And there is much more:

WE BUILD MOVEMENTS

Purpose creates new movements, brands and organizations from the ground up to address complex global challenges. We apply this experience as movement creators to our work with progressive companies, nonprofits and philanthropies, helping them to put purpose and participation at the heart of what they do.

BUILD

We deploy our award-winning creative campaigning and technology capabilities to launch new brands, technology products and social movements that stand out.

ACT

We rapidly prototype campaigns to scale and deepen engagement in our movements. We execute at all levels of ambition, directing some of the largest public engagement campaigns in the world today.

Then at the bottom of this page they provide a list of “Selected Partners” which includes Google, Audi, Ben & Jerry’s, alongside campaign groups including Walk Free, Oxfam, ACLU and – as you might expect – The Syria Campaign.

The business [Purpose.com] was co-founded by Jeremy Heimans, who calls himself a “movement entrepreneur”. Mr Heimans previously co-founded Avaaz, a campaigning group focused on poor countries, and GetUp!, a citizens’-rights group in his native Australia. Those were charities. Purpose aims to make profits, though not necessarily to maximise them. Like another big petitions business, Change.org, it is structured as a B Corporation, the American legal term for a for-profit company with a social mission. It has a non-profit arm, which incubates protests and accepts donations. This is cross-subsidised by its for-profit arm, which makes money in a variety of ways.

It sells consulting services to big companies such as Google and Audi, and to charities such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union. It helps them to build mass movements to support their favourite causes. Audi, for example, wants to design and promote machines to dispense clean water in India, a market where it hopes to burnish its car brand. Purpose also hopes to develop a business promoting “new economy” products such as solar energy. It will recommend to its members that they buy solar power from such-and-such a provider. In return, it will charge a referral fee. 30 [bold emphasis added]

From a puff piece published in The Economist entitled “Profit with Purpose”, under the caption “The business of campaigning”, which also lazily admits that “Grassroots movements have usually been built, as the name implies, from the bottom up.” To which the polite response is: codswallop! – there is absolutely no “usually” about it.

In short then, Purpose Inc is the PR firm behind Avaaz and all of its related campaign groups.

*

The White Helmets

You might think that after seeing the consequences of their campaign for “freedom and democracy” in Libya, journalists like Nicholas Kristof and “humanitarian campaigners” like Avaaz would have some qualms.

writes Rick Sterling (co-founder of the original Syria Solidarity Movement), as he attempts to disentangle the misinformation surrounding the White Helmets, Avaaz, war-advocate Nicholas Kristof and their joint calls for a Syria no-fly zone. He continues:

Unfortunately they have learned nothing. They have generally not been held to account, with a few nice exceptions such as this Greenwald/Hussain article. And now they are at it again. Many well-intentioned but naive members of the U.S. and international public are again being duped into signing an Avaaz petition based on fraud and misinformation. If the campaign succeeds in leading to a No Fly Zone in Syria, it will result in vastly increased war, mayhem and bloodshed.

The following illustration shows the sequence and trail of deceit leading to Avaaz’s call for a No Fly Zone in Syria.

Sterling then provides further background on the emergence of the so-called White Helmets:

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. [bold emphasis added]

He also outlines the important role played by Nicholas Kristof at the New York Times:

The “White Helmets” campaign has been highly successful because of uncritical media promotion. Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times was an advocate of the NATO/US attack on Libya. According to him, villagers who had been shot, injured and their homes destroyed were not bitter, they were thankful! “Hugs from Libyans” is how he viewed it.  It was, of course, nonsense, helping to pave the way in the invasion and destruction of the country.

Now Kristof is uncritically promoting the White Helmets, aiding and abetting their political and propaganda message seeking foreign intervention in Syria. 31

Click here to read Sterling’s full article entitled “Seven Steps of Highly Effective Manipulators”, published in Dissident Voice on April 9, 2015.

*

War on the antiwar movement

[But] Does the most hardened peacenik really believe that Iraqis currently enjoy more liberty and delight than they would if Saddam were brought down?

So wrote neo-con apologist Julie Burchill in her Guardian column as the Iraq War got underway. The same rant continues:

Surely this is the most self-obsessed anti-war protest ever. NOT IN MY NAME! That’s the giveaway. Who gives a stuff about their wet, white, western names? See how they write them so solemnly in a list on the bottom of the letters they send to the papers. And the ones that add their brats’ names are the worst – a grotesque spin on Baby On Board, except they think that this gives them extra humanity points not just on the motorway, but in the whole wide weeping, striving, yearning world. We don’t know the precious names of the countless numbers Saddam has killed. We’re talking about a people – lots of them parents – subjected to an endless vista of death and torture, a country in which freedom can never be won without help from outside.

Contrasting British servicemen and women with the appeasers, it is hard not to laugh. Are these two sides even the same species, let alone the same nationality? On one hand the selflessness and internationalism of the soldiers; on the other the Whites-First isolationism of the protesters. Excuse me, who are the idealists here?

Her antiwar invective then hisses to a climax in which she projects a picture of post-intervention Iraq that could hardly be more a variance with the horror of events as they unfolded and the chaos that remains:

What these supreme egotists achieve by putting themselves at the centre of every crisis is to make the Iraqi people effectively disappear. NOT IN MY NAME! is western imperialism of the sneakiest sort, putting our clean hands before the freedom of an enslaved people. But even those whose anti-war protests started in good faith now know that when Saddam’s regime comes tumbling down, thousands of Iraqis will dance and sing with joy before the TV cameras, and thank our armed forces for giving them back their lives. 32

It is Burchill, of course, who was most guilty of “western imperialism of the sneakiest sort”. Burchill, who through such naked propaganda supplied ammunition to snidely undercut the goodwill of the millions brandishing antiwar banners. The method is all in her slippery abuse of the English language: turning peacemakers into “peaceniks”, into “anti-war nuts” and, best of all, into “appeasers”.

So compare Burchill’s warmongering propaganda of a decade past to that more recent open letter written by Abdulaziz Almashi, Peter Tatchell and others published by the Guardian last December (and already quoted above):

Stop the War has failed to organise or support protests against the Assad dictatorship and the regime’s massacre of peaceful democracy protesters in 2011 – and since. Nor has it shown solidarity with the non-violent Syrian civil society movements for democracy and human rights and with the millions of innocent civilians killed, wounded and displaced by Assad’s barrel bombs and torture chambers. It portrays Isis as the main threat to Syrians, despite Assad killing at least six times more civilians. 33

The rhetoric is more crafted and less abrasive than in Burchill’s rant but the insinuation is entirely unaltered. That those attached to the cause of ending the war are merely the secret appeasers of a dictator. A still more uncanny similarity is how this recent onslaught against the antiwar opposition came so hot on the heels of another Commons vote for airstrikes. 34 And after David Cameron’s shameless characterisation of the peace movement — Jeremy Corbyn (such a prominent figure in StWC) very much included — as “terrorist sympathisers”.

As Tariq Ali (another founder member of StWC) wrote in response:

Since Corbyn is a founder member of Stop the War, the propaganda assault is essentially designed to weaken and destroy him.

The article entitled “The assault on Stop the War is really aimed at Jeremy Corbyn” published by The Independent, continues:

Stop the War was founded in different times [to previous peace movements]. It is and has been a coalition of individuals and organisations with differing views on many issues. This is as it should be and always has been with broad single-issue campaigns. It does NOT take positions on the demerits or otherwise of the Taliban, Saddam, Gaddafi, Assad. It is in favour of the withdrawal of ALL foreign troops (this includes the Russians) and bomber jets. The arguments against the war deployed by Stop the War are not all that different from some conservative columnists who cannot be bullied: Simon Jenkins, Peter Hitchens, Peter Oborne. None of the three are Corbynistas.  […]

The “moral compass” of the anti-war movement has not shifted. It is no better or worse since the day it was founded. Meanwhile the wars continue.

Click here to read Tariq Ali’s full article.

Following that Commons debate, the media were falling over themselves in rival bids to talk up what Tariq Ali rightly describes as “Hilary Benn’s pathetic pro-war speech (he voted for the Iraq war as well)”; relishing the chance to open up the fractures not so latent within the parliamentary Labour Party. Such swooning media focus on Benn’s opportunistic betrayal and forlorn attempt to appear Churchillian meant that Corbyn’s more measured speech was totally overshadowed:

[Notice: the video embedded above was taken down from youtube within 24 hours of posting this article — an alternative version can be found at the end of the article]

If the press had been more attentive, however, they may have drawn attention to a message received from a Syrian in Corbyn’s constituency by the name of Abdulaziz Almashi. He has asked me, said Corbyn, if the Prime Minister is able to guarantee the safety of his family when “your air force drops bombs on my city” [19.20 mins]. 35 And yes, this is Abdulaziz Almashi who leads the campaign demanding a “no-fly zone” over Syria, and whose organisation has been so scathing of StWC.

It would have been more honourable to deliver the message instead to the sympathetic ear of Cameron – a person who also wants “intervention” – even if in the eyes of the PM, Syrians living in exile, like Almashi, are just “a bunch of migrants” 36 – to quote his most recent outburst of casual bigotry. And Cameron does have more important matters on his mind too:

Instead, Almashi chose to spin Corbyn a line, hoping to be mistaken, as he was, for a fellow anti-war activist. It was a small propaganda coup that he instantly backed up by posting on the website of (please note) The Syria Campaign a message headed:

“Corbyn quoted me in Parliament today. Not bombing Raqqa [ISIS stronghold] isn’t enough. We must take positive action.”37

“Positive action” is code, of course, for regime change – just like “no-fly zone”.

It seems that Abdulaziz Almashi and the “Syria Solidarity Movement” he fronts will use any ploy to get attention. But then, given the intense media spotlight on his organisation’s earlier altercation with StWC, quoting from Almashi must be seen as a serious error of judgement on the part of Jeremy Corbyn too. And faced by so many adversaries in all quarters, he ought to take great care to avoid more serious stings in the future.

Click here to read an official ten-point response by the StWC to “the chorus of attacks” that was published on December 9th and entitled “It is the war party that has a reputation problem, not Stop the War”.

*

Concluding remarks

The war in Syria is hardly less inextricably wrapped up with the war in Libya than it is with the war in bordering Iraq. All three are products of western “intervention” and all three nations are now overrun with Salafist gangs. But there are important differences too.

The West’s role in the “shock and awe” annihilation of Iraq was an overt act of aggression and flagrantly illegal. Those most publicly responsible for orchestrating the fall of Baghdad have been justly disgraced. After the assault on Libya, however, an equivalently illegal act of western adventurism, that was likewise predicated upon a demonstrably false pretext, and set upon nothing short of regime change, the perpetrators suffered little to no opprobrium. A craftily negotiated UN resolution, quickly violated, provided useful cover. In general, the lies surrounding Libya have been much better concealed.

Meanwhile, this other grinding war in Syria, has been inflamed by terrorist militias closely affiliated to those now running rampant in Libya and Iraq, who are sponsored by Gulf State allies (including Kuwait) and often with the clandestine support of the Nato powers (Turkey in particular). In other words, in Syria the West has consistently led from behind, taking even greater care to cover its tracks. Otherwise, as I wrote at the top, this repeating tale is one as tedious as it is atrocious.

Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and not forgetting Yemen: this is really one war. A series of overlapping and interconnected battles for resources: oil, pipelines, finance, you name it. Wars to bring about regime change. Wars to capture and hold territory. And the one truly significant difference between old-fashioned imperialism and this swankier post-modern variant is in the branding. The public relations has stepped up a gear; it had too. So there is more guile to today’s propaganda, which is packaged and marketed using sophisticated strategies, then delivered into our homes via the new technologies and an increasingly complaisant media.

And the stated rationale for war is nowadays less haughty and considerably more liberal. Flag planting is out, as is any talk of “the white man’s burden”, and in their stead is ‘grassroots’ petitioning for “humanitarian intervention”. All the spin and the layers of gloss providing cover for the same old racket General Smedley Butler warned about more than seventy years ago. So here is a nice summary of how the same racket functions today:

Promoting the imperial social media fad of equivocating on US and NATO invasions that destroy entire societies, ostensibly because the current head of state is ruthless or corrupt, Avaaz apologists neglect the growing list of countries where these invasions have made things worse. Indeed, I am at a loss to find a country in my lifetime (1952-present) where US military aggression — either directly or through proxy mercenaries and US-financed and trained death squads — made things better.

Of course, if you look at militarism as a market-oriented strategy, then making war or creating armed mayhem is just part of doing business. With the crippling financial sanctions available to the US through the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, invasion is just for show — part of the expected social spectacle — that routinely transfers wealth from the U.S. Treasury to Wall Street and the military industrial complex. 38

Click here to read the full article by Jay Taber published by wrongkindofgreen.org on Christmas Day.

The horrors of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya alone ought to be enough proof, if proof is actually needed, that western “intervention” is a failure (for the victims caught in the crossfire and trapped on the ground). Those calling for another “no fly zone”, as Abdulaziz Almashi and his friends on the radical left do, either have appalling amnesia, or else are acting in extremely bad faith.

*

Update:

Here is a different upload of Jeremy Corbyn’s Commons speech on December 2, 2015. In this version, Corbyn speaks about the letter from Abdulaziz Almashi at 18:30 mins in:

*

1 From an analysis paper entitled “Playing with Fire: Why Private Gulf Financing for Syria’s Extremist Rebels Risks Igniting Sectarian Conflict at Home” written by Elizabeth Dickinson, published by the Brookings Institute in December 2013.

http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/research/files/papers/2013/12/06%20private%20gulf%20financing%20syria%20extremist%20rebels%20sectarian%20conflict%20dickinson/private%20gulf%20financing%20syria%20extremist%20rebels%20sectarian%20conflict%20dickinson.pdf

2 From an article entitled “Hillary’s Dirty War in Libya: New Emails Reveal Propaganda, Executions, Coveting Libyan Oil and Gold” written by Brad Hoff, published by Global Research on January 4, 2015. http://www.globalresearch.ca/hillarys-dirty-war-in-libya-new-emails-reveal-propaganda-executions-coveting-libyan-oil-and-gold/5499358

3 From an article entitled “Amnesty questions claim that Gaddafi ordered rape as a weapon of war” written by Patrick Cockburn, published in The Independent on June 23, 2011. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/amnesty-questions-claim-that-gaddafi-ordered-rape-as-weapon-of-war-2302037.html

4

Speaking during a visit to Vietnam, Cameron told ITV News attempts to enter the UK had increased because “you have got a swarm of people coming across the Mediterranean, seeking a better life, wanting to come to Britain because Britain has got jobs, it’s got a growing economy, it’s an incredible place to live”.

From an article entitled “Calais crisis: Cameron condemned for ‘dehumanising’ description of migrants” written by Jessica Elgot and Matthew Taylor, published in the Guardian on July 30, 2015. http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jul/30/david-cameron-migrant-swarm-language-condemned

5 From an article entitled “UK axes support for Mediterranean migrant rescue operation” written by Alan Travis, published in the Guardian on October 27, 2014. http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/oct/27/uk-mediterranean-migrant-rescue-plan

6 Little Alan Kurdi’s limp body on that Turkish beach sparked many reactions. In response, some appealed for a humane European-wide policy towards refugees, while dreamers implored us all to imagine, John Lennon-like, “a world without borders”. Meanwhile, as the media lurched into one of its periodic feeding frenzies, the most callous opportunists used a personal tragedy to claim just cause for an intensified bombing campaign. Rupert Murdoch’s mouthpiece The Sun on Sunday ran with this deplorable headline:

For Aylan – Exclusive poll: 52% say bomb Syria now

On which side in the Syrian conflict this contrived 52% – of the staff inside the News Corp office, perhaps? – believed Britain ought to bomb was less clear. Two years earlier in the aftermath of the Ghouta massacre, it had been Assad in the crosshairs when he was declared guilty of the ordering the killing. The charge against him (and the Syria Army) was based upon reputation and has never been substantiated, but calls to bomb the Syrian regime became a matter of urgency. Had air strikes been sanctioned, then Syria, like Libya before, would now be overrun by jihadist “rebels”: a diabolical outcome, but no great surprise to the policymakers at the Pentagon or in the White House.

Instead, a miracle occurred. A (very nearly) unprecedented antiwar vote against any British government stopped this stampede to war in its tracks. It would be Ed Miliband’s finest moment as Labour leader (although largely forgotten) and briefly clipped the wings of the UK war party. In response, Russia then stepped forward to help broker a deal which led to the complete dismantlement of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal. Another little remembered act of peacemaking. But then, a year after America’s war against ISIS, Russia joined the military campaign (extending air strikes to other terrorist groups). This jolted Britain into joining the conflict. So three months after the death of Alan Kurdi and Murdoch’s sabre-rattling headline, new excuses were found. “Britain has got its mojo back!” These are the words of our Chancellor, George Osborne, when he visited the Council on Foreign Relations in the immediate days after the vote. And the CFR applauded.

7 From an article entitled “Thousands join Solidarity with Refugees rally in London” written by Nadia Khomani and Chris Johnston, published in the Guardian on September 12, 2015. http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/sep/12/london-rally-solidarity-with-refugees

8 From an article entitled “Refugee solidarity march in London set to attract some unlikely protesters” written by Emily Dugan, published in The Independent on September 11, 2015. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/refugee-solidary-march-in-london-set-to-attract-some-unlikely-protesters-10497351.html

9

In the event description on Facebook, organisers Ros Ereira and Abdulaziz Almashi wrote: “We have to ensure that refugees can reach Europe safely. There needs to be either official safe transport provided, or if people could apply for asylum from outside the EU they would be able to enter by official routes…”

From an article entitled “London refugee rally: Tens of thousands to join demonstration and call for action to tackle crisis” published by the London Evening Standard on September 3, 2015. http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/london-refugee-rally-tens-of-thousands-plan-to-join-demonstration-and-call-for-action-to-tackle-a2926581.html

10

Within three months of the demise of the IS Network, Islamist fighters who were formerly called ISIL/ISIS had “declared the areas it occupies in Iraq and Syria as a new Islamic state” and “now simply refer[red] to itself as The Islamic State”.

Quotes from an article entitled “Iraq crisis: ISIS declares its territories a new Islamic state with ‘restoration of caliphate’ in Middle East” written by Adam Withnail, published in The Independent on June 30, 2014. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/isis-declares-new-islamic-state-in-middle-east-with-abu-bakr-al-baghdadi-as-emir-removing-iraq-and-9571374.html

11 From an article entitled “NOTE ON THE NEWLY FORMED SYRIA SOLIDARITY MOVEMENT” written by Mark Boothroyd, published by International Socialist Network on March 21, 2014. http://internationalsocialistnetwork.org/index.php/ideas-and-arguments/organisation/swp-crisis/international/375-note-on-the-newly-formed-syria-solidarity-movement

12 From an article entitled “The Syrian Revolution and the crisis of the anti-war movement” published by rs21 on September 10, 2015. http://rs21.org.uk/2015/09/10/the-syrian-revolution-and-the-crisis-of-the-anti-war-movement/

13 From an article entitled “Why Stop the War don’t want to listen to the Syrians” published by Left Foot Forward on November 12, 2015. http://leftfootforward.org/2015/11/why-stop-the-war-dont-want-to-listen-to-syrians/

14 From an article entitled “Stop the War faces a coalition of critics” published by the Guardian on December 9, 2015. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/dec/09/stop-the-war-faces-a-coalition-of-critics?CMP=share_btn_tw

15 Ibid.

16 From an article entitled “Can the revolution in Syria survive an imperial carve up?” written by Mark Boothroyd, published by Pulse magazine on October 7, 2015. http://pulsemedia.org/2015/10/07/can-the-revolution-in-syria-survive-an-imperial-carve-up/

17 From the Ahrar al-Sham official webpage: http://ahraralsham.net/?page_id=4195, translated from the original Arabic, which read:

حركة أحرار الشام الإسلامية حركة إسلامية إصلاحية تجديدية شاملة، أحد الفصائل المنضوية والمندمجة ضمن الجبهة الإسلامية وهي تكوين عسكري، سياسي، اجتماعي، إسلامي شامل، يهدف إلى إسقاط النظام الأسدي
في سورية إسقاطاً كاملاً، وبناء دولة إسلامية، تكون السيادة فيها لشرع الله -عز وجلَّ- وحده مرجعاً وحاكماً وموجهاً وناظماً لتصرفات الفرد والمجتمع والدولة

From an article entitled “Syrian Revolution’s Path after Attacks on Ahrar al-Sham” written by Malak Chabkoun, published by Al Jazeera on September 17, 2014. http://studies.aljazeera.net/en/reports/2014/09/20149147499306405.htm#a2

18 From an article entitled “Why Stop the War don’t want to listen to Syrians” published by Left Foot Forward on November 12, 2015. http://leftfootforward.org/2015/11/why-stop-the-war-dont-want-to-listen-to-syrians/

19 Ibid.

20

Sunni Muslims make up 70% of Syria’s 25 million people and it is they who fill the ranks of the rebellion against Assad’s minority Alawite regime, considered apostates by Sunni clerics. Yet one reason why Assad remains in power despite being outnumbered by a rival sect is that many Sunnis are on his side, and their support is aiding his survival, say analysts and rebels.

“If Sunnis were united behind the rebels, trust me, Bashar would’ve fallen within days,” says Abu Qays, an anti-regime Syrian activist in the eastern city of Deir e-Zor who uses a nickname for security reasons.

From an article entitled “Sunnis fill rebel tanks, but also prop up Assad regime” written by Michael Pizzi and Nuha Shabaan, published in USA Today on August 1, 2013. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2013/08/01/syria-sunnis-assad/2599927/

21 From an article entitled “Most Syrians back President Assad, but you’d never know from western media” written by Jonathan Steele published in the Guardian on January 17, 2012. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/jan/17/syrians-support-assad-western-propaganda

22

In May 2013, the US-based World Tribune reported, based on NATO data, that 70% of Syrians support Assad. The same piece suggested that 20% of Syrians surveyed felt neutral about the conflict, and only 10% supported the opposition. This figure has not been scrutinised, or even discussed, by most media sources.

From an article entitled “The Missing Question: Who Supports Assad?” written by Sophie Stewart-Bloch, published in the Huffington Post on December 30, 2013. http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/sophie-stewartbloch/syria-conflict-assad_b_4507894.html

23

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2015/09/15/one-in-five-syrians-say-islamic-state-is-a-good-thing-poll-says/

24 From an article entitled “Syria Civil Defence ‘White Helmets’ call for No-Fly Zone following chemical attack” published by Syria Solidarity UK on March 18, 2015. http://www.syriauk.org/2015/03/syria-civil-defence-white-helmets-call.html

25 From an article entitled “SYRIA: AVAAZ, PURPOSE & THE ART OF SELLING HATE FOR EMPIRE” written by Cory Morningstar, published on wrongkindofgreen.org on September 17, 2014. http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2014/09/17/syria-avaaz-purpose-the-art-of-selling-hate-for-empire/

26

The Voices Project was founded on 24 Dec 2013 and has its registered office in Cambridgeshire. The organisation’s status is listed as “Active” and it currently has 8 directors. The company’s first director was Mr Jeremy Heimans. The Voices Project does not have any subsidiaries.

Registered Address

C/o Paul A. Hill & Co
3 Bull Lane
St Ives
Cambridgeshire
PE27 5AX
United Kingdom

https://www.duedil.com/company/08825761/the-voices-project

27 https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/08825761/officers

28

The first position as a director we have on file for Mr Timothy Edwin Dixon was in 2014 at The Voices Project. His most recent directorship is with Purpose Europe Limited where he holds the position of “Managing director”. This company has been around since 21 Dec 2012. In total, Timothy has held 2 directorships, all of which are current. [bold highlight added]

https://www.duedil.com/director/919096216/timothy-edwin-dixon

29

Purpose Europe Limited was registered on 21 Dec 2012 with its registered office in Cambridgeshire. The business has a status listed as “Active” and it currently has 3 directors. The company’s first directors were Purpose Global Llc, Mr Simon Peter Willis. Purpose Europe Limited has no subsidiaries.

Registered Address

3 Bull Lane
St. Ives
Cambridgeshire
PE27 5AX
United Kingdom

https://www.duedil.com/company/08340026/purpose-europe-limited

30 From an article entitled “Profit with Purpose” published by The Economist on January 26, 2013. http://www.economist.com/news/business/21570763-how-profit-firm-fosters-protest-profit-purpose

31 From an article entitled “Seven Steps of Highly Effective Manipulators” written by Rick Sterling, published in Dissident Voice on April 9, 2015. http://dissidentvoice.org/2015/04/seven-steps-of-highly-effective-manipulators/

32 From an article entitled “Don’t take my name in vain” written by Julie Burchill, published in the Guardian on March 29, 2003. http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2003/mar/29/antiwar.uk

33 From an article entitled “Stop the War faces a coalition of critics” published by the Guardian on December 9, 2015. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/dec/09/stop-the-war-faces-a-coalition-of-critics?CMP=share_btn_tw

34 (Last time around) British Parliamentary approval for the invasion of Iraq had been granted in a series of two votes on 18 March 2003. Burchill’s attack on the antiwar protesters was published in the Guardian on March 19th. And the invasion of Iraq began on March 20, 2003. (This time) Parliamentary approval for airstrikes in Syria granted on December 2, 2015. Letter castigating StWC was published by the Guardian on December 9.

35 From an article entitled “Assad’s UK Syrian exiles demand a voice” written by Shaun Ley, published by BBC news on December 10, 2015. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-35026975

36

David Cameron has been accused of using inflammatory language about refugees after referring to people in camps at Calais as a “bunch of migrants”.

The prime minister made the comments in the House of Commons on Wednesday as he criticised Jeremy Corbyn’s call for Britain to do more to help refugees in French camps.

Pointing at the Labour leader and John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, Cameron said: “The idea that those two right honourable gentlemen would stand up to anyone in this regard is laughable. Look at their record over the last week.

“They met with the unions and gave them flying pickets. They met with the Argentinians, they gave them the Falkland Islands. They met with a bunch of migrants in Calais, they said they could all come to Britain. The only people they never stand up for are the British people and hardworking taxpayers.”

From an article entitled “Cameron’s ‘bunch of migrants’ jibe is callous and dehumanising, say MPs” written by Rowena Mason and Frances Perraudin, published in the Guardian on January 27, 2016. http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jan/27/david-cameron-bunch-of-migrants-jibe-pmqs-callous-dehumanising

37 https://diary.thesyriacampaign.org/corbyn-quoted-me-in-parliament-today/

38 From an article entitled “Imperial Social Media: Avaaz and the arms dealers” written by Jay Taber on December 25, 2015. http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2015/12/28/imperial-social-media-avaaz-and-the-arms-merchants/

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Filed under al-Qaeda & DAESH / ISIS / ISIL, analysis & opinion, Kuwait, Libya, Qatar, Syria

Watford, June 6–9: here are ten good reasons to be there…

1. Be witness to the world summit that dare not speak its name

If more than a hundred of the highest ranking politicians, financiers and other major corporate leaders from across Europe and North America were meeting for a conference near London then you might naively suppose that the world’s media would be interested to hear about it. If additionally, it transpired that such meeting was not only to be held behind closed doors and patrolled by armed guards, but also conducted under such strict secrecy that attendees were prohibited from speaking about whatever had been discussed or even disclosing the names of other attendees, you would be forgiven for supposing that the press would be swarming outside the gates and banging on the doors to find out more. But, and in the words of the song, it ain’t necessarily so…

As this year’s Bilderberg meeting approaches, the press and the rest of the mainstream media is instead maintaining its commitment to silence. Indeed, there has barely been a single column inch devoted to the surprise appearance of Bilderberg on our shores, although here is a local exception:

Hertfordshire taxpayers will foot the bill for a major police security operation to protect a shadowy summit of world leaders taking place in Watford next month.

The Bilderberg Group of around 140 influential figures including royalty, politicians and business leaders will meet at The Grove from June 6 to June 9.1

So begins what ought to be regarded as a world press exclusive but published not by Reuters or AP or the BBC, but in the Watford Observer, suddenly finding themselves forced into the vanguard. Well, not quite. The story that this year’s Bilderberg chinwag is coming to Watford having first broken more than a month earlier and being soon after confirmed (as initial rumours of Bilderberg appearances have reliably been) by many in the alternative media:

The 2013 Bilderberg conference is now confirmed at the Grove hotel, Watford. A spokesman for Herts Constabulary said:

“I can confirm that the Bilderberg group meeting is taking place at The Grove hotel, Watford, between 6th-9th June 2013″

Watford’s finest hotel, playing host to the world’s most powerful political summit. A bright day indeed for the Grove.

That was taken from bilderberg2013 and published the day before the more official story was released by the Watford Observer. Those at protest group bilderberg2013 having posted as early as April 12th the notice that:

There is growing evidence that this year’s Bilderberg conference will take place in the UK, at the luxury Grove Hotel, Hertfordshire, just north of Watford.

Whilst urging:

“citizen journalists, concerned citizens and interested parties to come along and witness a major international summit taking place.”

2. What’s to lose by going along?

I consider myself both a “concerned citizen and interested party”, and must confess to finding it odd to think there are many who still don’t. But then, for some reason (we all know the reason, but I’ll let it pass for a moment) Bilderberg has a way of putting blinkers on the public as well as the press – even the minority who have actually heard of the event, perhaps justifiably wary of too much speculation, but also uncharacteristically reticent when it comes to freely expressing their own concerns and objections to this secret elitist get-together.

So I find that many of the kinds of people who are deeply concerned and sick to the teeth with the state of the politics and world affairs, including friends who have previously travelled as far as Edinburgh to voice dissent at a G8 summit, or who regularly take to the streets of London to rage against Westminster, will prefer to turn a blind eye to the annual Bilderberg event.

Incuriously dismissing Bilderberg as insignificant or simply irrelevant is the surprisingly common response I get when I raise the subject. Without presenting a single shred of evidence to support such a contention, they tell me that Bilderberg is just a big talking shop. A place for glad-handing, patting one another on the backs and saying what jolly good chaps they all are…. yes, very probably, but patting one another on the backs about what exactly? Well, about being a part of a damned big exclusive club, they’ll insist, and that’s all you need to know. This lack of curiosity from those who more generally wish to get to the bottom of things being curious in itself, and also to my mind a little alarming…

For why dismiss something merely on the grounds of its (partial) invisibility? Obviously, the physicist in me protests – most of the really interesting and important areas of physics being ordinarily out of sight, and yet nonetheless driving the rest of the visible universe.

However, I think what the Bildersceptics (to coin a necessary term) are implicitly acknowledging is that “this is just the way the world works”, which is almost precisely how the Bilderbergers themselves have tended to justify their “private” gatherings. So to such a response I can only really say: well, didn’t you make the great effort to protest against G8 or outside Westminster precisely because “this is the way the world works”? Added to which, what has become of your usually excellent sense of political smell…?

For Bilderberg simply reeks to high heaven, and though special interest deals are, of course, brokered in a great many places, including no doubt behind the scenes at the G8 and the corridors of Westminster, the whiff of that stale, smoky air of corruption appears so much the thicker at Bilderberg. Following a few rounds of golf and a splendid five-star luncheon just what else is there to do stuck together inside a five-star hotel for three days and nights besides sealing deals of one kind or another; the glad-handing and the back-patting all part of the crony favour system.

And beyond the corporate hobnobbing, which is surely smelly enough, might our politicians not indeed be conspiring in a different way? Aligning themselves with some kind of an overarching agenda that very deliberately chooses to remain “private” – although actually ‘clandestine’ is a word that better serves the purpose; more appropriate because until very recently Bilderberg didn’t exist at all supposedly, being merely the paranoid fiction of a few overheated imaginations.

And here is the reason that the pointed finger often becomes unsheathed. Wait for it: I can hear the C-word coming. Oh dear! “You don’t believe in any conspiracy theories, do you?” My abrupt reply: “well, what constitutes a conspiracy…?”

And it’s funny to think how the pointy finger is so casually aimed towards the very people who sought the truth and found it. Those who insisted that Bilderberg was real when commonsense and logic appeared to be against them. Having been proved correct, they might have expected to hear a few more apologies from those who’d dismissed them as mad. But apparently the pointy finger is harder to shift. There are a thousand ways to kill the messenger.

3. Bilderberg only pretends to be an irrelevant talking shop

Bilderberg is far from irrelevant. To judge better for yourself, however, I recommend downloading a surprising and very much one-off BBC Radio 4 broadcast called “Club Class” from 2003, which is available online: http://wikileaks.org/w/images/5/5d/BBC-bilderberg-2003.mp3

On top of which there are plenty of other clues that have slowly come to light. Such evidence being limited and fragmentary for obvious and unavoidable reasons given the sustained and almost blanket media blackout on Bilderberg. And it really goes without saying that we would know so much more already if the media had probed and investigated as it should. Yet what is already known is surely incriminating enough.

For instance, we can say with certainty and no hesitation that the goal of forming a single world government is one very much desired by Bilderberg’s most significant members (and for further details I recommend my first post about the group when it was meeting at St Moritz in 2011 – although these days, Bilderberg’s globalist agenda isn’t really a secret at all).

Now saying this, I also realise that such plans for global governance may sound attractive to some readers, and especially to those who see themselves on the left of the political spectrum. I too would love to live in a world of ethical international collaboration and global justice. But it is wise to always be careful what we wish for, and so let’s not be soft-headed here: the mainstay of Bilderberg Group (head honchos such as David Rockefeller, Henry Kissinger, and our own British contingent being spearheaded by Ken Clarke and dear old “Prince of Darkness” Peter Mandelson) obviously not remotely interested in expanding internationalism in any traditional socialist sense. Their less stated though transparently clear objective – if we judge by actions rather than words – being to consolidate and expand the established corporatocracy.

4. This is a protest that might conceivably achieve its main goal

As you may have gathered, I certainly intend to trundle down to Watford to stand outside the cordons at this year’s Bilderberg meeting and I am hoping that not hundreds, or even thousands, as have attended previous meetings (the protests continuing to grow over recent years), but that hopefully and potentially hundreds of thousands might decide to join us. My fingers are crossed.

Ordinarily, when we venture out to protest, we do so with the near certain foreknowledge that our protest will have been in vain. None of the real objectives having been achieved. We most probably tune in to watch the TV news highlights later, but it is only really to see how extreme the mismatch was between the official police estimate and the number determined by the march organisers. But protesting Bilderberg will be different and for one perfectly straightforward reason: that between June 6th and 9th we’re not supposed to be there at all – and just imagine that! Being involved in a protest that hasn’t already been officially sanctioned by Ed Miliband, or led from the front by the last leader of the Lib Dems, or else entirely pushed aside from the headline news by another of Bob Geldolf’s giant celebrity gigs.

And suppose there are a hundred thousand or more who do steadily gather outside the gates of The Grove in a three weeks time, then the BBC, C4, ITV, Sky and the rest must finally be forced to follow us there, whereas, and without such a determined mass protest, the meeting will again pass off barely reported upon and completely unnoticed by the majority of the world’s population. So why hesitate to go when numbers alone might be enough to tear down this veil of secrecy. Isn’t this how a free people begins to make itself heard?

We should not allow this excellent opportunity pass. For when Bilderberg are at last forced out into the light of day we will have achieved something – if nothing else, we will have forced the world’s media to do its proper job.

5. It’s okay to have fun

Unlike the Bilderbergers themselves, I am inclined to believe that as a rule it is better not to mix business and pleasure. But if none of the above has helped in persuading you to join us, then here’s an alternative pitch – everything else besides, this is very likely to be the most interesting protest you’ve ever been involved with – so why not just roll up and:

Enjoy the spectacle, meet new friends, and secure your souvenir picture of a Bilderberg participant gliding into the Grove’s grounds in a tinted limo. [also from the bilderberg2013 website]

Protesting, in my humble opinion, ought to be a serious business. When out in opposition against the latest war, or the imposition of further “austerity measures”, partying doesn’t really help. It is in my view (and apologies for seeming such an old curmudgeon) an unnecessary and unwanted distraction. However, any protest against Bilderberg is significantly different from most other protests. For once, sheer publicity being our overriding aim.

Entertainment, therefore, is all to the better. So here is a little more encouragement to come along offered by the bilderberg2013 protest group, who are also planning to launch their own “Bilderberg Fringe Festival” outside the main event:

The Bilderberg Fringe Festival is a platform for conscious citizens from all over the world to join together at the Grove Hotel, Watford and positively influence global powerbrokers to make the right decisions for our future….. and have a fantastic party.

If you are a musician, poet, artist, speaker, performer, workshop host or have a soundsystem, tent or anything else you would like to bring to the party, get in touch at bilderbergfringe [at] yahoo.co.uk. We would love marvellous art to be created around the perimeters of the Grove hotel to drench the area in joy and creativity!

We will be providing the infrastructure for any individual or group wanting to get involved, plus a media tent and press centre to facilitate much-needed coverage of the Bilderberg conference itself.

Together let us make this a historic occasion for freedom and democracy.

6. Henry Kissinger and his partners in (war) crime

This is what Watford’s elected mayor, Dorothy Thornhill had to say about the staging of this year’s Bilderberg conference on her doorstep (from the same article in the Watford Observer):

“I have my concerns about it because it does attract people who can and do cause violence and disturbance.”

How very well said Mayor Thornhill; never a truer word spoken…just scan your eyes down the guest lists of previous Bilderberg meetings and you’ll see exactly what she means:

Blair, Anthony (1993)

Powell, Colin (1997)

Rice, Condoleezza (2008)

Perle, Richard (2011)

Kissinger, Henry (1957, 1964, 1966, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1977, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012)

Indeed, Henry Kissinger, who is one of the grandees of Bilderberg, has alone been responsible for more “violence and disturbance” than just about anyone else alive on the planet today. Responsible for the overthrow and murder of elected leaders like Salvador Allende in Chile, as well as the instigator of more widespread murder and mayhem, for example, with the formation of Operation Condor which directly led to millions of people being tortured and “disappeared” across much of Latin America. Then there is Kissinger’s role in the war crimes carried out in Indochina; his commitment to covertly spreading the ‘scorched earth’ tactics of the Vietnam War with the carpet bombing of Cambodia and Laos under Operation Menu. And that barely scratches the surface of all of Kissinger’s crimes and misdemeanours, so here are a few lesser known instances:

Take, for example, the case of former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and East Timor. Declassified documents reveal that after the Timorese declaration of independence from Portugal in 1975, Kissinger and President Gerald Ford, fearing that the new country would become a communist outpost, gave Indonesian President Suharto the green light to invade the island in a Jakarta meeting the day before the invasion.

The United States was then supplying Indonesia’s military with 90 percent of its arms, and Kissinger himself described their relationship as that of “donor-client.” As the civilian death toll from the invasion climbed into the tens of thousands and the reports of atrocities mounted, Kissinger ensured that US arms continued to flow to the invading forces despite Congressional strictures. Estimates of those who died from military action, starvation or disease range from 100,000 to 180,000—roughly one-seventh to one-fourth of the entire population of East Timor.2

But then, as Henry Kissinger once candidly explained [from wikileaks]:

“The illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer.”

Speaking at this year’s World Economic Forum – that more public globalist confab at Davos in Switzerland – Kissinger also chillingly warned that a crisis involving a nuclear Iran in the “foreseeable future” could lead to a nuclear war and “a turning point in human history”. And with Kissinger still so close to the strategic helm, there’s good reason to pay heed to his words – especially when he also adds so grimly and predictably that “no option is off the table”:

Well, it is very possible that we will see Kissinger in Watford all too soon. So maybe we can arrest him for his many crimes, and before it’s too late. Certainly on the occasion that he does attend, the many charges laid against him might reasonably be brought to the attention of senior officers of the Hertfordshire Constabulary who will otherwise be inadvertently protecting a wanted man. As a matter of fact, there is a rather interesting precedent here:

The latest move to question Kissinger was by Peter Tatchell, a British human rights activist. While Kissinger was speaking in Britain at the UK’s Institute of Directors annual conference on April 24, Tatchell attempted to have him arrested for committing war crimes under the Geneva Conventions Act.

Judge Nicholas Evans at the Bow Street magistrates’ court rejected Tatchell’s request because Tatchell did not present enough evidence implicating Kissinger to war crimes. However, according to Tatchell, the judge left the door open for future attempts to arrest the former U.S. official if suitable evidence is presented.

According to Tatchell’s recent contribution to London’s The Guardian, if he is able to “produce stronger evidence of Kissinger’s culpability in the killing, maiming, torture and forced relocation of civilian populations in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in the late 60s and early 70s,” then there is a possibility an arrest warrant for Kissinger may be issued in the future.3

Click here to read more in an article entitled “Henry Kissinger, Wanted Man” written by Christopher Reilly, and published in counterpunch more than a decade ago.

7. You never know who might turn up as a surprise guest

Incidentally, the names of Bilderberg attendees I have picked out above were all drawn from what is only a partial and a highly abbreviated list provided by wikipedia. A list that surprisingly fails to record even the name of Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter’s national security adviser, and another serial warmonger I have featured many times before on this blog. The funny thing is that although Brzezinski’s name is missing from the main list, it is nevertheless registered in one of the many footnotes. A footnote (currently number 68) which reads:

“Western Issues Aired”. The Washington Post. 24 April 1978. “The three-day 26th Bilderberg Meeting concluded at a secluded cluster of shingled buildings in what was once a farmer’s field. Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter’s national security adviser, Swedish Prime Minister Thorbjorrn Falldin, former secretary of state Henry Kissinger and NATO Commander Alexander M. Haig Jr. were among 104 North American and European leaders at the conference.”

Alternatively, and if you decide to visit the main wikipedia page about Zbigniew Brzezinski you’ll see there is a direct link back to Bilderberg. The same goes for Donald Rumsfeld and also Paul Wolfowitz 4, who though missing from the main list of attendees is actually described on his own page as a former steering committee member of the Bilderberg group. But then the main wikipedia entry for Bill Clinton fails to record his ties to the group and the same goes for Margaret Thatcher – both invited to Bilderberg gatherings prior to becoming national leaders (there is more about this again in my earlier post).

And then there was last year’s do in Chantilly, Virginia: “were Mitt Romney and Bill Gates there?” Here’s Charlie Skelton (a journalist and also one of the campaigners behind bilderberg2013) writing on his Guardian Bilderblog and answering the question to the best of his ability:

Four eyewitnesses on the hotel staff told me Willard Mitt Romney was here at Bilderberg 2012. My four eyewitnesses place him inside. That’s one more than Woodward and Bernstein used. Romney’s office initially refused to confirm or deny his attendance as Bilderberg is “not public”. His people later said it wasn’t him.

So, was he being crowned, or singing for his supper? Will Mitt Romney follow in the august footsteps of Clinton, Cameron and Blair to have attended Bilderberg and then shortly become leader? Four years ago, Senator Obama shook off his press detail and nipped (many think) into Bilderberg. This exact same hotel. […]

The Washington Post saw Bill Gates come in. And I’ve got three eyewitnesses from inside who confirmed he was here. This is his ear:

You won’t see the names Mitt Romney or Bill Gates on the officially released Final List of Participants because, well, the list is a nonsense. It’s nothing like a complete list of people who attend Bilderberg. It’s a smokescreen, a bit of spin. So can we all, please, stop repeating it as gospel? 5

Click here to read Charlie Skelton’s full article.

8. This year offers two events for the price of one

Incidentally, Zbigniew Brzezinski, as I mentioned in another recent post, is also well-known in some circles as the author of what he called the Technetronic Era; a future vision featuring:

‘a society that is shaped culturally, psychologically, socially and economically by the impact of technology and electronics – particularly in the arena of computers and electronics.’ 6

So he perhaps above all others attending – presuming of course that he does attend (this year’s official guest list is yet to be leaked) – may be surprised and delighted to learn that within the secluded 300-acre grounds of the same luxury Hertfordshire hotel, there is going to be yet another “select gathering”. A meeting of minds that might also be to his taste:

of new media gurus, political pointy-heads, start-up whiz kids and pop stars awarded the post-chart career title “humanitarian” are meeting to carve up the digital future.

“To carve up the digital future”, so what does that involve exactly? Well, according to the article, which was published in last year’s Independent, The Grove annually hosts what it describes as “The great Google gathering”:

Each year, Larry Page, Google’s co-founder and Eric Schmidt, executive chairman, jet into London for the invitation-only annual gathering, at the Grove hotel, where 400 delegates, chosen from the “great minds of our time”, discuss topics ranging from technology and the media to politics and the arts.

This year’s guest list includes Goldman Sachs’s BRICs expert Jim O’Neill, singer Annie Lennox, and Bill Clinton, who will shoot the breeze with Schmidt at a panel session today.

Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger and model Lily Cole (who boasts a double first from Cambridge, should anyone doubt her credentials) also made the cut at an event previously graced by Prince Charles and Sir Richard Branson.

It certainly sounds like a shindig that’s right up Brzezinski’s technetronic avenue… but what’s this? The same Independent article going on to say:

For conspiracy theorists, the conference, staged by the search engine giant, which reported a 60 per cent surge in earnings to $2.89bn this year, is a cuddlier version of the Bilderberg Group, the supposedly shadowy network of financiers that holds a private annual assembly, recast in the image of our new tech masters. 7 [my own bold highlight added]

A technetronic home from home then! And isn’t this all just a little peculiar? That this year’s Google’s annual Zeitgeist conference (we might call it ‘googleberg’), which has been based at the Grove since 2007, will be followed within days by the rather less cuddly Bilderberg proper – most likely with either Kissinger or Brzezinski in tow. Well, no, actually it isn’t…

Eric Schmidt, Chairman of Google, has in fact already attended Bilderberg meetings in 2008, 2010 and 2011 (according again to wikipedia). So what should one make of this improbable convergence of “private meetings”, aside from the obvious fact that it will be extremely convenient – for Eric Schmidt to name but one…

9. They don’t want us (but maybe we can change some minds)

Hold on – sorry, sorry, it would seem that when quoted above I had misunderstood and misrepresented the viewpoint of Mayor Thornhill. Allow me to correct myself.

It’s not the alleged war criminals and their hangers on that are bothering the elected mayor… no, not at all, and if only I’d read down just a far as the next line in the Watford Observer I could have presented her opinions more accurately. Now I’ll need to go back and quote what she said from the beginning again:

“I have my concerns about it because it does attract people who can and do cause violence and disturbance. [which is not a reference to Kissinger]

“But I am confident the police will be able to minimise that and give them their right to protest.

“I am ambivalent about whether this is a good thing. It’s potentially a positive thing as long as things don’t kick off.”

“I am concerned about the use of police resource but it is very good The Grove has been deemed a prestigious enough venue.”

Click here to read the full article in the Watford Observer.

In other words, it is people like me (and hopefully you) she is worrying about and encouraging to stay at home. Exercising our democratic right to free speech and assembly entirely from the comfort of our own living rooms. Not that Mayor Thornhill is alone in this regard, of course.

Perhaps Mayor Thornhill will be reassured if we point out that none of the demonstrations against Bilderberg have ever “kicked off”, as she very eloquently puts it. And would she really want Watford to miss out in sharing the proper recognition it deserves? For what’s the point in having a “prestigious enough venue” when so few will ever get to hear about it? Put this way, I feel sure Mayor Thornhill will welcome us with open arms. After all, not even Elton John and his millions of pounds was enough to put Watford on the map (even if they did make it to the FA Cup Final in 1984). Whereas just a couple of hundred thousand demonstrators could easily make all the difference…

So maybe you would like to join us, Mayor Thornhill, because please believe me when I say you’re not any part of the in-crowd, but much like the rest of us, just another insignificant peasant – in any case, the offer remains an open one.

10. Bilderberg might be even more odious than we imagined

Here’s another thing Mayor Thornhill may be interested to ponder over. I wonder if she’s heard what the Honorary President of the Supreme Court of Italy, Ferdinando Imposimato, revealed to Articolo Tre little more than a month ago on April 11th. Allegations against Bilderberg that I imagine Herts Constabulary might also be interested to learn more about:

“I found a document that left me awestruck, where when it comes to slaughter it also speaks of the Bilderberg Group. A document in the possession of a terrorist Ordine Nuovo, Ventura. I believe in this document. I made some tests and I can say that behind the strategy of tension and the massacres there is also the Bilderberg Group… ” 8

The “strategy of tension” that Judge Imposimato is referring to here, being a series of false flag terrorist attacks carried out across Europe (but especially in Italy) under CIA directions and the codename Operation Gladio.

By adding this note, I can already feel the pointy fingers unsheathed once more and jabbing in my virtual direction. But look, this idea of a “strategy of tension” is not a ‘conspiracy theory’ at all. It is no more a ‘theory’ than the lied about proof of Saddam’s WMDs or the long denied existence of Bilderberg, but simply another established yet little known historical fact – and one that once again is easily retrievable from wikipedia.

A meticulously detailed exposé of Operation Gladio has even featured as a three part “Timewatch” broadcast on BBC in 1992, and though I have embedded it in an earlier post, I see no reason not to embed it again below – after all, Operation Gladio played a very important part in shaping the destiny of post-war Europe and if we lived in a genuinely free society the truth about Gladio would be taught as part of the national curriculum in our schools:

Oddly, and almost exactly ten years earlier, the Gladio plot was also indirectly alluded to in an episode of BBC’s political sit-com Yes Minister. A military insider and whistleblower presenting cabinet minister Jim Hacker with evidence that sophisticated computerised bomb detonators manufactured by British defence contractors were getting into the hands of Italian terrorist groups. I have embedded the episode entitled “The Whisky Priest” below:

As for Ferdinando Imposimato, and aside from being a former Senior Investigative Judge, he was also a Senator who served on the Anti-Mafia Commission in three administrations, and the author or co-author of seven books on international terrorism and state corruption. Added to which, Imposimato presided over a great many terrorism-related cases, including the kidnapping and assassination of President Aldo Moro, the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II, and other political assassinations and kidnapping cases including several against the Mafia.

Judge Imposimato may be wrong about Bilderberg’s direct involvement in Gladio, but he evidently believes that the document he has seen is genuine. And Imposimato is an expert witness when it comes to state-sponsored terrorism and particularly with regards to the crimes of Operation Gladio. So with Imposimato’s latest allegation, shouldn’t we be calling for further investigation?

*

And here are two more [too late change the title now]:

11. Our time has come…

Summing up then, there will be all sorts of different people and groups gathering to protest against this year’s Bilderberg meeting, but in spite of different outlooks we all have a common cause. All equally sick and tired of the way our nations are run solely for the benefit of the one-percent, and fed up with being bullied into line. We don’t need to agree on every point to stand side-by-side.

Outside the locked gates of Bilderberg we can join in defiance against “austerity”, and against the neo-imperialist wars, and the rise of a police state, and every other assault on our civil rights, our social welfare and our democracies. Those inside Bilderberg are in part responsible, whether they purposefully deliberate on the destruction of our societies, or whether our decline and fall is an inadvertent consequence of their venality and greed. What is happening to all of us is happening under their powerful watch. So there’s no need to be a ‘conspiracy theorist’ to understand why those inside Bilderberg will once again prefer to hide their faces and names and to scurry about in tinted limos desperate to be unseen. And yes, we are going there to shine more light and to shame them all.

Bilderberg is a carbuncle. A recurring and festering sore. Symptomatic of a deep malaise, it bursts forth annually, rarely in the same place twice and hardly ever within touching distance. It comes this close about as a rarely as a new comet, and likewise portends nothing but doom and disaster. Just consider, for instance, what followed in its wake immediately after appearing in Athens (2009) and then Sitges near Barcelona (2010). The timings could hardly have been more striking given what subsequently happened to Greece and Spain. And as Bilderberg moves across to Britain, we also have the coincidence of a Goldman Sachs stooge called Mark Carney preparing to succeed Sir Mervyn King as Governor of the Bank of England. Do you think Carney might be on the guest list? Well, we shall soon see…

So I ask in a spirit of solidarity that in one way or another (and if only by spreading news of the meeting and our protest to friends and associates on facebook, twitter and by old-fashioned word of mouth) you join in our resistance to Bilderberg and everything it so evidently stands for. Lending our bankrupt ruling elites tacit permission to continue operating in the dark won’t help the greater cause in any way. For as our freedoms and rights are stolen right from under our noses, we must act with urgency and also in as many useful ways as we can. Taking our protest to the doorstep of Bilderberg being just one such very purposeful way to respond.

Finally then, and though I wouldn’t as a rule quote anything by Sebastian Coe, I happen to believe that those remarks he made at the closing ceremony of the London Olympics were never more pertinent than now – for when the limos have driven off back off into the distance, and the police helicopters have stopped whooring overhead, then I hope we might have a tremendous reason for saying:

“When our time came – Britain we did it right. Thank you!”

12. To stand and be counted

But I actually don’t wish to end there… hanging semi-ironically on the vainglory of Lord Coe, but to finish instead with a few words truly worth reflecting upon.

Martin Luther King Jr:

On some positions, Cowardice asks the question, “Is it safe?” Expediency asks the question, “Is it politic?” And Vanity comes along and asks the question, “Is it popular?” But Conscience asks the question “Is it right?” And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right.9

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Update:

Since I posted the article:

The elected mayor of Watford has written to the Prime Minister voicing concern about the potential impact the Bilderberg security operation will have on the county’s police budget.

Dorothy Thornhill penned a letter this week to David Cameron saying she found it “galling” that the Hertfordshire taxpayers could shoulder the cost of policing a meeting for some of “the wealthiest people in the world”.

The Liberal Democrat said she also wanted the Government to understand the stresses the secretive conference had placed on the town and its public services.

Click here to read more in the Watford Observer.

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1 From an article entitled “The Grove hotel set to host Bilderberg ‘secret summit’ written by Ben Endley, published in the Watford Observer on May 10, 2013. http://www.watfordobserver.co.uk/news/10411984.Hotel_set_to_host__secret_summit_/

2 Taken from an article entitled “If Charles Taylor Can Be Tried for War Crimes, Why Not Kissinger?” written by Reed Brody, published in The Nation magazine on May 9, 2012. http://www.thenation.com/article/167809/if-charles-taylor-can-be-tried-war-crimes-why-not-kissinger#

3 From an article entitled “Henry Kissinger, Wanted Man” written by Christopher Reilly, published in counterpunch magazine on April 28—30, 2002. http://www.counterpunch.org/2002/04/28/henry-kissinger-wanted-man/

4 Another footnote (currently 110) on the List_of_Bilderberg_participants: “Why is our governor visiting this group”. The Augusta Chronicle. 19 June 2008. p.8. “Some of the names on the list are intriguing. Some of the well-known names include:Ben Bernanke – chairman, Board of Governors, Federal Reserve System; Condoleezza Rice – U.S. secretary of state; James A. Johnson – tasked with choosing U.S. Sen. Barack Obama’s running mate; Paul Wolfowitz – with the Institute for Public Policy Research. The one name that stands out in my opinion this year is South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford.”

5 From an article entitled “Bilderberg 2012: were Mitt Romney and Bill Gates there?” written by Charlie Skelton, published by the Guardian on June 5, 2012. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-news-blog/2012/jun/05/bilderberg-2012-chantilly-occupy

6 From Between Two Ages: America’s Role in the Technetronic Era written by Zbigniew Brzezinski, reprinted by Greenwood Press, December 20, 1982., p. 9. You can find it quoted in a review of the book by Stephen McGlinchey, published by e-International Relations on July 22, 2011. http://www.e-ir.info/2011/07/22/review-between-two-ages-america%E2%80%99s-role-in-the-technetronic-era/

7 From an article entitled “The great Google gathering: The search engine is taking its quest for knowledge offline at a secluded British hotel” written by Adam Sherwin, published in The Independent on May 22, 2012. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/online/the-great-google-gathering-7771352.html

8 “Ho trovato un documento che mi ha lasciato sgomento, dove quando si parla di stragi si parla anche del gruppo Bilderberg. Un documento in possesso di un terrorista di Ordine Nuovo, Ventura. Io credo a questo documento. Ho fatto delle verifiche e posso dire che dietro la strategia della tensione e alle stragi c’è anche il gruppo Bilderberg, una specie di Grande Fratello che sta sopra, manovra, si serve di terroristi neri e massoni”.

Taken from “Ferdinando Imposimato: ‘C’è Bilderberg dietro alla strategia della tensione’” (which translates as “Ferdinando Imposimato: ‘there’s Bilderberg behind the strategy of tension’” published April 11, 2013. Translation from Bing Translator. Original article: http://www.articolotre.com/2013/04/ferdinando-imposimato-ce-bilderberg-dietro-alla-strategia-della-tensione/159105

9 “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution” Martin Luther King Jr. (31 March 1968)

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