Senator McCain’s illegal trip to Syria, and the NGO’s that made it happen.

The recent furore surrounding US senator John McCain’s illegal trip inside Syria, and the supposed ‘rebels’ he was seen posing with alongside Supreme Military Council (SMC) Chief Salim Idriss, have shed further light on what appears to be another corrupt ‘NGO’ enterprise.

After the worldwide publication of the photographs, McCain was quick to try to dispel rumours that the Syrian ‘rebels’ were the very people responsible for the kidnapping of 11 Lebanese pilgrims inside Syria, who still remain in captivity to this day. Contrary to McCain’s – and his media apologists – desperate attempts to refute the claims; many reports suggested it was indeed the kidnappers he was seen posing with. Furthermore, in one report in Lebanon’s Al Akhbar, it is claimed McCain even went so far as to ask the kidnappers to hold some of the captive pilgrims, as they are suspected members of Hezbollah. According to a source who had previously been in contact with the kidnappers, McCain was allegedly there to “to obstruct the efforts… to secure the release of the hostages.” Lebanon’s the Daily Star also reported on the “crossing of paths” between McCain, Mohammad Nour and Ammar Al-Dadikhi (a.k.a. Abu Ibrahim), who are members of ‘rebel’ group the Northern Storm; alleged to be holding the 11 Lebanese pilgrims.

In a report by Josh Rogin of the Daily Beast, it is claimed the ‘rebels’ McCain was seen posing with were not those responsible for the kidnapping, stating: (my emphasis)

The man said to be Nour by the Lebanese press never identified himself to McCain or to anyone else and that man was not inside McCain’s meeting with the rebels, two American NGO workers who were there on the scene told The Daily Beast on Thursday.

The first of these American ‘NGO’ workers responsible for setting up the McCain meeting and illegal trip into Syria is one Mouaz Moustafa, who is named as the Executive Director of ‘non-profit’ organisation the ‘Syrian Emergency Task Force.’ (SETF). Moustafa has previously worked as a staffer at the US House of Congress and Senate. He was also an ‘activist’ during the US/NATO- led illegal war in Libya and overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi. Moustafa is listed as an ‘expert’ at the Wasington Institute for Near East Policy, (WINEP), the sub-branch of the huge Israeli lobby: the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee AIPAC; which regularly lobbies for US militarism and ‘intervention’ in the Middle East to uphold Israeli ‘interests’. Moustafa, in his ‘expert’ role, has also recently addressed a WINEP conference on the Syrian conflict. (since these suspicious links were highlighted by an investigative reporter they have been removed from WINEP’s website.) Anyone with a passing knowledge of Israeli/Syrian relations and the power and influence these lobbying groups hold in Washington and within corporate US media, knows these affiliations are dubious to say the least. In a report by investigative journalist Maidhc Ó Cathail on the Passionate Attachment blog, it is also revealed:

Even more intriguingly, one of the web addresses for Moustafa’s nonprofit is “syriantaskforce.torahacademybr.org.” The “torahacademybr.org” URL belongs to the Torah Academy of Boca Raton, Florida whose academic goals notably include “inspiring a love and commitment to Eretz Yisroel.”

The second ‘NGO’ worker quoted in the Daily Beast is one Elizabeth Obagy, named as Political Director of the same ‘NGO’ the SETF. The name Elizabeth Obagy immediately rang alarm bell’s. Obagy is also a “Syria analyst” at the Institute for the Study of War (ISW). The ISW in its mission statement describes itself as: (my emphasis)

The Institute for the Study of War advances an informed understanding of military affairs through reliable research, trusted analysis, and innovative education. We are committed to improving the nation’s [the US] ability to execute military operations and respond to emerging threats in order to achieve U.S. strategic objectives. ISW is a non-partisan, non-profit, public policy research organization.

Upon reading ISW’s Board of Directors and donors from their 2011 annual report, it becomes rather obvious as to what the ISW is designed for and whose ‘objectives’ it is designed to propagate. A quick glance of the ISW’s main donors for 2011 is telling; the list of military (defense) contractor’s donors include:

General Dynamics, (General Dynamics is a market leader in business aviation; land and expeditionary combat vehicles and systems, armaments, and munitions; shipbuilding and marine systems; and mission-critical information systems and technology.)

CACI, (CACI provides information solutions and services in support of national security missions and government transformation for Intelligence, Defense, and Federal Civilian clients. A member of the Fortune 1000 Largest Companies and the Russell 2000 Index, CACI provides dynamic careers for approximately 15,000 employees working in over 120 offices worldwide.)

DynCorp International, (DynCorp International is a global government services provider in support of U.S. national security and foreign policy objectives, delivering support solutions for defense, diplomacy, and international development.)

Palantir,(Our products are built for real analysis with a focus on security, scalability, ease of use and collaboration. They are broadly deployed in the intelligence, defense, law enforcement and financial communities.)

Northrop Grumman, (Northrop Grumman is a leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in unmanned systems, cybersecurity, C4ISR, and logistics and modernization to government and commercial customers worldwide.)

These companies represent just a few of the huge US corporate military contractors, ranging from hardware and logistics, to telecommunications and intelligence software that are primary donors of the ISW. The ISW describes its Corporate affiliations as a “Corporate Council”: (my emphasis)

Many of America’s top corporations are members of ISW’s Corporate Council. Corporate Council members believe that an advanced understanding of military issues results in significantly better national security policy. They recognize the relevance, accuracy, and impact of ISW’s research and analysis. Corporate Council members receive a number of benefits, including exclusive briefings with ISW’s leadership, advance publications, access to our network, tailored analysis, increased corporate visibility, and invitations to exclusive events and discussions with national security leaders.

So the ISW is providing “tailored analysis” for its Corporate clients, and also provides “exclusive briefings with ISW leadership”. Does this sound like a  ‘non-profit’ organisation? Does providing “tailored analysis” for military contractors include raising the ‘need’ for such equipment and contracts? And do military contractors make money in any other way than profiting from war? One would find it difficult to put these things together and not see a conflict of interest from this alleged ‘objective’ research NGO.

The board of Directors at the ISW is also somewhat telling as to its political and corporate affiliations, some of the distinguished board members include such humanitarian adherents as founder of ISW Kimberly Kagan (Supported US ‘surge in Iraq, husband is resident scholar at Neo-Con ‘think-tank’ the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), brother is the husband to State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland) Liz Cheney, (daughter of war-criminal Dick) and leading Neo-Con mouthpiece and US militarist William Krystol, who all sit alongside many fellow US-militarism proponents, retired US Army Generals, and policy planners.

It seems that at least one of the organisers for McCains trip: Elizabeth Obagy, named as a “Political Director” of the Syrian Emergency Task Force, is also a “Syria specialist” at what appears to be a Neo-Con led US ‘NGO’ that propagates US militarism on behalf of huge military contractors and ‘defense’ corporations. So why would Liz Obagy be organising illegal trips for US Senator John McCain into Syria in her role as “political director” at the SETF, whilst also claiming to offer ‘balanced’, ‘neutral’ and ‘objective analysis’ on the Syrian conflict? One doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist to realise there is a massive conflict of interest here. When approached on Twitter, Moustafa of the SETF, which is based in Washington DC, claimed their funding comes from American Syrian doctors and expatriate donors. The mission statement of the SETF is as follows: (my emphasis)

To organize, mobilize and empower the Syrian American community, and our partners in order to play a positive role in public policy regarding Syria and the Middle East, supporting the democratic aspirations of the Syrian people, improving the lives of average Syrian people, strengthening the rule of law, and helping in transitioning Syria into a viable, inclusive, diverse, democratic state.

Without delving too far into Moustafa’s ties to the US Government through his previous work experience and former ‘activist’ work; it becomes clear that his current duties are at the behest of the US State Department. In a recent press release the SETF personally thanked the State Department: (my emphasis)

Washington, DC–The Syrian Emergency Task Force would like to thank all those involved in making Senator McCain’s trip to Gaziantep and to Syria a success, particularly the U.S. Department of State….It was a pleasure working with the Department of State in ensuring that the Senator’s visit went safely and flawlessly,” said SETF Executive Director Mouaz Moustafa.

Employing “political Directors”, that are affiliated with Neo-Con, and military contractor funded ‘NGO’ the Institute for the Study of War, seems somewhat contradictory to “improving the lives of average Syrian people”, and “supporting democratic aspirations” in the Middle East. Has it occurred to Moustafa and Obagy, that the vast majority of Syrian people want nothing to do with war criminals and pushers of all things US/Israeli militarism under the guise of “freedom and democracy”? One thinks this is out of the equation, and Moustafa’s ‘Syrian Emergency Task Force’ outfit is nothing more than a State Department/Neo-Con/Israel lobby initiated, propaganda outfit.

The CIA continues to collude with radical Islam.

Following a recent “revelation” in the New York Times,  corporation media has finally started to reveal what has been foretold by most with an ounce of honesty and historical knowledge of CIA and Gulf state covert activity in the middle east. That fact is that the CIA, together with intelligence agencies from Gulf autocracies such as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, aswell as no doubt many a wealthy donor from the U.A.E. With tacit cooperation and involvement from Turkish and highly likely, UK and French secret services have been directly coordinating, funding, and shipping huge amounts of arms, which are then funneled illegally through Jordanian and Turkish border regions to self ascribed ‘rebels’ in Syria.

US ‘anonymous officials’ have stated that US intelligence officers “helped Arab governments shop for weapons, including a large procurement from Croatia”. A procurement originally uncovered by blogger Brown Moses and released via the NYT. The NYT article also states that US intelligence officers apparently “vetted” rebel commanders and groups to determine who should receive the weapons. One thing the report skirts briefly is that US officials state the arms procurement operation has been ongoing since “early 2012”. Two prominent issue arises from this admission, and the fact this report states the Croatian operation, believed to have started in Oct/Nov 2012 was an “increase” in an arms smuggling program that began in at least “early 2012”.

The first issue is what directly correlates with this CIA arms program, and that is a synonymous increase in both civilian casualty and refugee numbers, particularly in the regions that have served as staging grounds for rebel insurgents to enter Syria. The second issue, and what is the most obvious sign of the repeat failure to implement this destructive, age-old strategy with any nuance of responsibility, is who exactly has received the lions share of the weapons? And which groups have been bolstered since the arms program commenced?

Since 2012 numbers of refugees crossing the borders of Turkey and Jordan have increased dramatically, as have casualty numbers in both populated border regions and towns, intense fighting has become a staple of supply routes funneling from Turkey and Jordan into Syria, resulting in mass exodus in regions and the levelling of entire residential blocks in towns and cities close to the borders. One overarching tactic is promoting this outcome, and that is rebel groups using border towns and villages close to CIA/GCC/Turkish “nerve centers” that enable rebels to stage attacks, resupply and receive medical treatment, as staging grounds to attack Syrian government forces. In turn the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) retaliate, often with disproportionate force and have often targeted residential areas, the government claims it is only targeting “terrorists”, but the evidence clearly suggests that the SAA’s targeting isn’t as precise as it claims to be. One must also seriously question the objectives of western-advised rebel forces, that continually set up camp in residential areas, and also continue to attack them.

The second prominent issue of what is now by the US’ own admission at least a 15 month CIA arms program into Syria, is exactly which groups of ‘rebels’ have directly benefitted from these weapons, contrary to State department rhetoric on “non-lethal” aid to “moderate” rebels, the huge rise in Salafi ideologues within the ranks of the militants can no longer be subverted or ignored, this also came to prominence toward the end of 2011. Are these things linked? One theory and obvious advantage to groups becoming or adopting Salafist ideology or branding is to appeal to hardcore Gulf donors. This tactic appears to have paid off, and whether the Syrian protesters yearning for democracy and self-determination who took up arms in early 2011 were intending on allying with Salafist extremists or not, that is certainly the case today, and the Salafist ideology is the one winning the recruitment battle. Mutual cooperation of supposed “moderate” rebel groups with hardcore Salafist battalions in several highly visible and key operations such as Taftanaz and the recent taking of Raqqah show “moderate” forces have no qualms fighting alongside extremistss. Indeed, when the western backed leader of the opposition states “we are all Jahbat al Nusra”, confusion may be excused as to what exactly the “opposition” represents. A secular democracy does not seem high on the agenda.

We learn in Aron Lund’s essay titled “The Rise of the Syrian Islamic Front” in which he documents the main Salafist battalions currently operating in Syria, that in early 2013 eleven Salafist battalions have now formed under the SIF as an umbrella group, Jabhat al Nusra was invited to the party, but declined to join the coalition presumably on the basis of its strict recruitment policies and intolerance of “moderation”. With numbers of fighters estimating in the region of 30,000 fighting for various Salafi dominated rebel groups throughout Syria, Ahrar al Sham and the SIF present a formidable fundamentalist militia.  Ahrar al Sham, is thought to dominate the leadership of the SIF, which for all intents and purposes looks like a Gulf attempt at a front for the Salafi dominated groups to appeal to precious Western benefactors fearful of public reaction to State support for what are supposedly “enemies” of the “civilised world”.

This brings us back to the CIA/Gulf weapons, which have not only been seen in several of the groups fighting under the banner of the SIF hands, but also in the hands of US designated terrorist group Jahbat al Nusra. These “coincidences” and the identical footprint of UK/US led strategy of using Gulf funded Salafi/Wahhabi inspired militants in the middle east for 60 years tells us the CIA is tacitly arming, funding and coordinating with Gulf fomented and sponsored extremists all over again. And much to the detriment of the Syrian people. The US, under its self-serving strategic objectives is wilfully arming and funding the very same ideologues it claims to be fighting in the never-ending “war on terror”. Recently on the Iraqi Syrian border, when a convoy of Iraqi army vehicles escorting 48 Syrian soldiers back into Syria was ambushed and all aboard (including Iraqi army escorts) were killed the US State department felt obliged to call it a terrorist attack. This attack was undertaken by the group “The Islamic State of Iraq”, which has direct links to Al Qaeda in Iraq, of which Jabhat al Nusra is an offshoot, who just happen to cooperate with Ahrar al Sham inside Syria. The links between Salafi groups the CIA/GCC are supporting and groups the US itself deems terrorists are once again obvious. The blatant hypocrisy and moral expediency being displayed here is a continuation of western policy in the middle east for the last 60 years. Namely, using Gulf sponsorship and propagation of extremist ideology as a tool to foment radical opposition to enemy govts and in turn undermine and subvert, ideally remove regimes or governments out of the wests (and therefore the GCC’s) sphere of influence.

So, we can now safely assume that western intelligence agencies are once again allowing their Gulf client states to arm Salafist inspired militants to wage war to meet their strategic goals, either that or the CIA “vetting program” was a complete 100% failure, (which hasn’t been rectified or altered in a year, only increased). The type of militants both the KSA and Qatar have been proven to fund and sponsor, and the inevitable power these groups will demand in any post-Assad Syria, along with the intolerant and often extremist policies and ideologies promoted in their respective states do not bode well for the people of Syria.

Media hypocrisy on Israel.

Having read the recents reports on the bogus nature of the recent IAEA “intelligence” leaked to the Associated Press and subsequently reported in exclusive and “big story” nature regarding Irans nuclear program, it is becoming quite apparent that the source of the now ridiculed piece of “intelligence”, the now infamous nuclear graph is not being scrutinised.

Diplomatic Editor Julian Borgers recent report in the Guardian titled- “Israel suspected over Iran nuclear programme inquiry leaks”  is a fine example, and this coming from our supposed left-wing press, the header Screen-shot-2012-11-30-at-11.57.04-AM1insinuates there may be some information as to exactly how or why Israel is leaking such information, but, as with the vast majority of western media it does nothing of the sort and uses the report as another outlet to misinform and subvert the major issues at hand. Instead of enlightening the reader as to what Israel would be doing with a part of a confidential IAEA report we are fed the usual “unamed western diplomat” quotes and falsehoods, from the report…

There is widespread belief among western governments, Russia, China and most independent experts that evidence is substantial for an Iranian nuclear weapons programme until 2003. There is far less consensus on what activities, if any, have been carried out since. The IAEA inquiry has so far not found a “smoking gun”.

Of course anyone with a basic understanding of the IAEA and Iran will know this is a completely false statement, in both the 2007 and 2011 IAEA reports there was no sufficient evidence found to suggest Iran are developing nuclear weapons, why Borger decides to include consensus from before 2003 is anybodys guess, and is most likely used as another irrelevant bit of propaganda8, again skewing the facts and evidence to support the western narrative. Both the CIA and Mossad have both come to the same conclusion-that Iran is not attempting to develop nuclear weapons.

Yet Borger (and the majority of the western press) decides to concentrate his article on what the IAEA havent  found, as opposed to the international intelligence communities’ consensus (minus Congress and Knesset hawks) that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons. Let alone addressing the issue the headline suggests. This tells a story of its own, but some important questions arise from the aftermath of the bogus graph, mainly, the negligence from western media in scrutinising and questioning the motives of its source.

1.) Why do Israel have access to IAEA report files? The report being confidential and Israel not being a part of the IAEA or NPT should make any discerning reporter ask this question.

2.) Why is western media so quick to use unverified pieces of intelligence from what are obviously biased sources with an agenda? Especially considering the west’s track record with trumpeting false intelligence that leads us into illegal war’s. Are’nt huge media corporations such as AP supposed to be objective?

3.) Why does our supposed left-wing press spout the same inflammatory falsehoods as Fox News et al with regard to Irans nuclear program?

4.) Why, after opening up their reactors to inspection and co-operating with the IAEA is Iran still under such scrutiny? Particularly from western media. When Israel’s nuclear program-now a foregone conclusion is not even up for debate.

5.) Why does Israel have the right to dictate to neighboring states when it continues to hide its own nuclear weapons and refuses to sign the NPT or join the Arab nations in the (MENWFZ)? Not to mention its continued oppression and occupation of the people of Palestine, multiple invasions in the region and continuing aggressive threats to several neighbouring states.

6.) Why do western people consider Iran as hostile? It hasnt invaded another state for over 200 years, lets not get into invasion comparisons. The west and its allies dont come close.

The answer to the last question can mainly be found in the article i refer to, but Borger and many other media outlets have failed to address any of the other pertinent questions. The continual mis-information on Iran’s nuclear program and IAEA reports is becoming more and more apparent to those of us that scrutinise our press. In the corporate MSM it has been so for quite some time, but i feel a distinct ratcheting up of the rhetoric and corresponding “news” here in the UK and a complete lack of attempt at objectivity even within our left-wing newspapers. Continual mainstream support for Israel in the recent Gaza crisis-regardless of evidence and civilian suffering. Lack of any criticism for its nuclear program-completely hidden from the world and the IAEA, censorship of dissidence and protest at Israels actions is all proof of the lobbying and inter-governmental power they hold not only in the US but within UK establishment, its media lackeys be they left or right are only happy to oblige in its continuing parrotting of “unnamed diplomatic sources”, unverified leaked intelligence a.k.a. propaganda and demonisation of Iran.