President Trump announces Military Strikes on Syria

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Lil devils x:

The Entertainer:

Lil devils x:
Trump warns Russia to 'get ready' for U.S. strike on Syria

This one, at least, is perfectly reasonable. If the US actually killed Russian soldiers with their strikes it would risk unnecessary escalation.

Didn't we already do that a few times now since Trump has had the military on autopilot so he does not have to learn how to be briefed?

President Trump's nominee to serve as Secretary of State confirmed Thursday that "a couple hundred Russians were killed" by U.S. forces in Syria earlier this year

http://time.com/5237922/mike-pompeo-russia-confirmation/

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/intelligence-briefings-trump-prefers-little-possible

http://time.com/5237922/mike-pompeo-russia-confirmation/

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/apr/15/trump-bluster-about-syria-james-mattis-calling-shots

Trump only warns them on what he bothers to find out about ahead of time.

Those were Russian mercenaries, not soldiers. Apparently this matter :/

crimson5pheonix:

Lil devils x:

The Entertainer:

This one, at least, is perfectly reasonable. If the US actually killed Russian soldiers with their strikes it would risk unnecessary escalation.

Didn't we already do that a few times now since Trump has had the military on autopilot so he does not have to learn how to be briefed?

President Trump's nominee to serve as Secretary of State confirmed Thursday that "a couple hundred Russians were killed" by U.S. forces in Syria earlier this year

http://time.com/5237922/mike-pompeo-russia-confirmation/

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/intelligence-briefings-trump-prefers-little-possible

http://time.com/5237922/mike-pompeo-russia-confirmation/

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/apr/15/trump-bluster-about-syria-james-mattis-calling-shots

Trump only warns them on what he bothers to find out about ahead of time.

Those were Russian mercenaries, not soldiers. Apparently this matter :/

of which some were russian soldiers, but I guess they do not want to focus n the minor details...

bastardofmelbourne:

I have no doubt the White Helmets have operated in al-Qaeda's territory or even provided medical assistance to members of al-Qaeda at some point. They do that because they're non-combatants; they pull people out of bomb sites, take them to hospitals, and give them medical treatment. They don't stop and ask "which side do you work for?" first. That doesn't make them terrorists or collaborators or agents of NATO imperialism or what have you. It makes them medics.

No ... it makes them agents of Turkish aggression and occupation of Syria. Why do you think the Kurds won't let them operate anywhere in their territory?

https://aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/white-helmets-resume-operations-in-liberated-afrin/1103741

'Liberated' Afrin my arse. The White Helmets are a propaganda group, mate. Do medics help bury the multilated corpses of Kurdish and Syrian Arab Army soldiers? Do medics operate minesweepers to help Turkish tanks roll over Kurdish fighters in the region? Three guesses who else the Turks have been backing in order to basically annex territory?

If you answered 'IS', 'Jabhat al-Nusra' and 'Al-Qaeda in Syria', ding-ding-ding.

What were you saying about NATO imperialism again?

Addendum_Forthcoming:
No ... it makes them agents of Turkish aggression and occupation of Syria. Why do you think the Kurds won't let them operate anywhere in their territory?

https://aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/white-helmets-resume-operations-in-liberated-afrin/1103741

'Liberated' Afrin my arse. The White Helmets are a propaganda group, mate. Do medics help bury the multilated corpses of Kurdish and Syrian Arab Army soldiers? Do medics operate minesweepers to help Turkish tanks roll over Kurdish fighters in the region? Three guesses who else the Turks have been backing in order to basically annex territory?

If you answered 'IS', 'Jabhat al-Nusra' and 'Al-Qaeda in Syria', ding-ding-ding.

What were you saying about NATO imperialism again?

Your problem with these guys is that they defuse landmines?

I was going to be a smart-ass about this, but seriously. They defuse landmines. So what? That's not terrorism. That's defusing landmines.

crimson5pheonix:

Those were Russian mercenaries, not soldiers. Apparently this matter :/

Mercenaries or soldiers? If Russia intended escalation, the difference wouldn't matter. If they aren't escalating, what will be their next move?

bastardofmelbourne:

Your problem with these guys is that they defuse landmines?

I was going to be a smart-ass about this, but seriously. They defuse landmines. So what? That's not terrorism. That's defusing landmines.

Because those landmines just so happened to stop a whole lot of Kurds being murdered by Turks. They just so happened to allow some protection against Turkish land interdiction of their lines. Believe it or not weapons can be used defensively. And if this is the best argument you've got, I feel like you'e lost sight of your 'medics' argument.

They are actively assisting in the invasion and annexation of land. They're belligerents in any conventional definition.

These people are not MSF. They're a combat support group and propaganda unit paid for and supplied by Turkey to aid in direct conquest of lands that would otherwise be denied them by international ideas of sovereignty.This is not as if controversial information. This is stuff as directly seen in what video footage we can see of their actions, and the detailed wordsand operations as that have been verified. Sometimes by Turkish government backed media itself.

Remember if you can two years back when I said; "The Kurds fighting ISIL are at the moment 'the U.S.-backed Kurdish militia' now ... but once Turkey enters the fray, they'll just be Kurdish militia."

The White Helmets are in essence that attempt to denature any Western public support for a Kurdish autonomous state. It's a gross violation of basic moral principles to pretend the White Helmets are 'simply medics'.

They're militia, plain and simple. And yes ... it is very much NATO imperialism.

CaitSeith:

crimson5pheonix:

Those were Russian mercenaries, not soldiers. Apparently this matter :/

Mercenaries or soldiers? If Russia intended escalation, the difference wouldn't matter. If they aren't escalating, what will be their next move?

Mercenaries. They were private military people of some kind.

Silvanus:

Seanchaidh:
They want NATO to provide air superiority for the anti-Assad jihad.

Well, they support a no-fly zone enforced by Western governments, which is not the same thing. Whether you agree with that position or not, the notion that it provides evidence of their being connected to Al Qaeda is nonsense.

Not at all. They want to bring about a condition that would oh so coincidentally allow Al Qaeda to win.

Enforcing a no fly zone would require a hefty amount of bombing of Syrian military targets, and would clear the skies of those aircraft which attack jihadists. What is that if not being the air force of jihadists?

And they continue to want that no fly zone even as the Syrian Arab Army makes gains that put it ever closer to total victory. What they propose would make that victory bloodier at best or prolong the terrorism against Syria for far longer. That is not "unbiased" or "neutral".

Silvanus:

Seanchaidh:

You shouldn't be fully convinced of anything coming out of Syria.

They don't operate in Assad's territory.

Well, that would be because Assad's regime is violently opposed to them, as it is with various organisations, plenty of them perfectly innocent. You can hardly blame an organisation for staying away from territory controlled by a hostile military force.

Silvanus:

Seanchaidh:

If they're not Al Qaeda, then they are Al Qaeda adjacent and Al Qaeda sympathizing. It would frankly be quite weird if they were not given what they do and where they do it.

I'm not saying there definitely isn't evidence of this, but... well, if there is, I've tried digging around a little, and could only find the words of raving lunatics. And, if there is, it would have to be a good deal less rickety than that above. Snopes notes that some of the earliest articles casting aspersions on them rely wholly on insinuation, providing nothing of substance, and I can't seem to find anything more solid at all.

You're not likely to find much that is solid for or against, but it's frankly weird that it's a controversial claim considering what they do and where and their stated politics. Keep in mind that Syria already has an actual civil defense force that's performing its function quite well, thank you very much. That these 'volunteers' (paid by various international sources devoted to regime change) are (or are assumed to be) 'violently opposed' by Syria but not Al Qaeda and ISIS is evidence in itself.

https://www.truthdig.com/articles/how-the-white-helmets-became-global-heroes-while-pushing-for-u-s-military-intervention-in-syria/

crimson5pheonix:

CaitSeith:

crimson5pheonix:

Those were Russian mercenaries, not soldiers. Apparently this matter :/

Mercenaries or soldiers? If Russia intended escalation, the difference wouldn't matter. If they aren't escalating, what will be their next move?

Mercenaries. They were private military people of some kind.

Russia only admitted that 7 of them were mercenaries, but depending on what intelligence agency you listen to, there were Russian soldiers included in the 200 as well. Russia refuses to acknowledge them because to do so would also acknowledge that they are directing the mercenaries in order to keep reported Russian military causalities low and they cannot admit to that as that is illegal in Russia. So instead they just pretend it doesn't exist.

Seanchaidh:

Not at all. They want to bring about a condition that would oh so coincidentally allow Al Qaeda to win.

Enforcing a no fly zone would require a hefty amount of bombing of Syrian military targets, and would clear the skies of those aircraft which attack jihadists. What is that if not being the air force of jihadists?

And they continue to want that no fly zone even as the Syrian Arab Army makes gains that put it ever closer to total victory. What they propose would make that victory bloodier at best or prolong the terrorism against Syria for far longer. That is not "unbiased" or "neutral".

Those aircraft do a lot more than just attack jihadists, though, don't they? They also attack non-jihadists-- including civilians, en masse. It's arbitrary and selective to evoke one in justification, and ignore the other.

Again, support for a no-fly zone-- regardless of our disagreement with it-- holds support from plenty of non-jihadist sources, including plenty of Western or non-aligned ones. It does not provide any evidence of a specific allegiance.

Seanchaidh:

You're not likely to find much that is solid for or against, but it's frankly weird that it's a controversial claim considering what they do and where and their stated politics. Keep in mind that Syria already has an actual civil defense force that's performing its function quite well, thank you very much. That these 'volunteers' (paid by various international sources devoted to regime change) are (or are assumed to be) 'violently opposed' by Syria but not Al Qaeda and ISIS is evidence in itself.

https://www.truthdig.com/articles/how-the-white-helmets-became-global-heroes-while-pushing-for-u-s-military-intervention-in-syria/

If I'm unlikely to find much for or against of much solidity, then why were you seemingly convinced?

As for what they do, I have yet to see evidence of any actions that truly align them with jihadists; I've seen, so far, only a number of actions which coincide only in that they combat Assad... but these also coincide with countless other groups. This is not "weird" in the slightest, and would be expected.

The source you've provided is the best I've seen, and even then, the evidence they give is often paper-thin. They mention the terrorist group itself only once, in alleging that the White Helmets have been seen waving their flag-- if you follow the link, it's a few seconds of one guy filmed waving the flag and waving an unidentified white hat. That's literally all there is to identify him as a member, and to drive the writer of the article to include it as a smoking gun.

This is all so convenient for a certain narrative, and all so flimsy.

So, this is interesting: https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/syria-chemical-attack-gas-douma-robert-fisk-ghouta-damascus-a8307726.html

Silvanus:
If I'm unlikely to find much for or against of much solidity, then why were you seemingly convinced?

It makes the most sense of the available evidence; Assad has no particularly good reason to use chemical weapons at this point. The limited Western military intervention that the White Helmets advocates chiefly benefits Al Qaeda or other jihadists and would likely result in more deaths (contrary to their stated mission). Western governments support Al Qaeda in Syria and also support the White Helmets alongside them. If they do not owe allegiance to Al Qaeda, they certainly are aligned with them. Al Qaeda finds them very convenient; that's bad enough on its own.

Seanchaidh:
So, this is interesting: https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/syria-chemical-attack-gas-douma-robert-fisk-ghouta-damascus-a8307726.html

Silvanus:
If I'm unlikely to find much for or against of much solidity, then why were you seemingly convinced?

It makes the most sense of the available evidence;

It actually doesn't. You simply want it to because it fits your assumptions. You've shown nothing that gives any concrete connection. You barely even have circumstantial evidence mate, let alone anything substantial.

Seanchaidh:
Assad has no particularly good reason to use chemical weapons at this point.

He has several reasons actually.

1. It shows his citizens and those fighting him the lengths to which he is willing to go to stay in power.
2. It saves lives of the armed forces still under his command.
3. It shows how the everyone he is fighting that the international community largely doesn't care what he does.
4. It shows how Russia doesn't care what their ally does and will continue to fight on his side.

Stop and think for 30 seconds about this instead of regurgitating what your "non-MSM" sources tell you. All of the above will shorten the rebellion against him; that makes them very good reasons.

Seanchaidh:
The limited Western military intervention that the White Helmets advocates chiefly benefits Al Qaeda or other jihadists and would likely result in more deaths (contrary to their stated mission).

It would limit much of the regime's wanton killing of civilians (part of their stated mission). A no flyzone would also benefit both ISIS and the Kurds. There's honestly just as much evidence pointing the white hats as belonging to either of those groups as there is the jihadis, yet you ignore that conveniently.

Seanchaidh:
Western governments support Al Qaeda in Syria

Western governments support anyone anti-Assad and anti-ISIS in Syria. When it was realized just how much equipment was making its way into groups directly affiliated with jihadis, the training and resources given was severely curtailed.

Seanchaidh:
and also support the White Helmets alongside them.

Anyone anti-Assad is, by default, going to be benefited by moves made against Assad. You're not making the profound point you think you are. Again, the Kurds and ISIS both also benefit from anti-Assad actions.

Seanchaidh:

If they do not owe allegiance to Al Qaeda, they certainly are aligned with them.

Two groups benefiting from the same action doesn't mean two groups are aligned. Are the Kurds, ISIS, and jihadis aligned because they all fight Assad? Are ISIS and Assad aligned because they both fight the Kurds and jihadis? Are Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Turkey aligned because they're all supporting anti-Assad forces? Following your line of reasoning leads directly to the land of bullshit and contradictions.

Seanchaidh:
Al Qaeda finds them very convenient; that's bad enough on its own.

Jihadis find a lot of things convenient. Jihadis would find it convenient if everyone across the globe had more money because they could raise more in donations from their benefactors. Does that mean people across the globe having more money is a bad thing? You're talking absolute nonsense Sean. You have the same flimsy foundation of facts as people claiming the earth is flat currently.

Addendum_Forthcoming:
snip

I'm confused now. Are they working for al-Qaeda, or are they working for Turkey? Or Washington? Or George Soros?

I mean, if removing landmines and unexploded ordnance from the vicinity of a town after the ostensible end of hostilities is considered "terrorism," then we're in a really weird place now.

Seanchaidh:
So, this is interesting: https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/syria-chemical-attack-gas-douma-robert-fisk-ghouta-damascus-a8307726.html

The article is interesting, mainly because it seems to flirt with the idea of saying "there was no gas attack" without actually being confident enough to say it. Fundamentally, what Robert Fisk appears to have discovered is that he can't find anyone in Douma willing to discuss the use of gas. Which...isn't surprising, if they are living under regime control as he describes. The only line Fisk gives to that possibility is this unconvincing bit of reasoning;

Syria doesn't cut it as Jeffersonian democracy - as I cynically like to tell my Arab colleagues - and it is indeed a ruthless dictatorship, but that couldn't cow these people, happy to see foreigners among them, from reacting with a few words of truth. So what were they telling me?

Yes, Mr. Fisk. Surely, the Syrians are so elated to see an elderly British journalist walking among them that it drives the thought of being abducted and summarily executed straight out from their minds, replacing all the fear and anxiety with the earnest desire to tell the absolute truth to a complete stranger.

I jest, but to tell the truth, I'm personally not convinced that the Douma attack used anything more unusual than the standard chlorine gas that Assad has been deploying for years. There hasn't yet been any definitive evidence of sarin exposure like there was in Ghouta or Khan Shaykhun. I find the possibility that Assad used chlorine gas in Douma to be highly likely, because he's used chlorine liberally over the past few years - it wasn't one of the substances banned under the Obama administration's chemical weapons deal - but there's also nothing exceptional about this use of chlorine gas that would suddenly justify military action.

I fully believe that the only reason US strikes were launched in response to this particular use of chemical weapons was that Trump wanted to distract people from the FBI raiding his lawyer's office.

Seanchaidh:
It makes the most sense of the available evidence; Assad has no particularly good reason to use chemical weapons at this point. The limited Western military intervention that the White Helmets advocates chiefly benefits Al Qaeda or other jihadists and would likely result in more deaths (contrary to their stated mission). Western governments support Al Qaeda in Syria and also support the White Helmets alongside them. If they do not owe allegiance to Al Qaeda, they certainly are aligned with them. Al Qaeda finds them very convenient; that's bad enough on its own.

I doubt this assessment. Assad uses chemical weapons because they invoke a sense of primal fear in his opponents. It says two things to the rebels; one, that you run the risk of a painful, very graphic death by chemical poisoning, and two, that Assad can do whatever he wants because Russia supports him.

Compare that to the possibility of an international scheme to falsify a gas attack so as to justify a full-scale military intervention that the current presidential administration very clearly doesn't even want, and you'll understand my skepticism.

Also, I vigorously disagree with your reasoning that the White Helmets are "aligned" with al-Qaeda simply because al-Qaeda finds their actions convenient or because al-Qaeda would benefit from a US no-fly zone. The reason the White Helmets were agitating for a no-fly zone was because they spend 90% of their time cleaning up after regime airstrikes, and because said airstrikes have a tendency to double back and re-bomb the area to stop anyone from assisting the survivors. That's a legitimate reason for seeking a no-fly zone.

I mean, under your reasoning, Hillary Clinton was also "aligned" with al-Qaeda because she advocated the same no-fly zone. While simultaneously being "aligned" with the Kurds, because she advocated arming them in a 2016 presidential debate. You see how silly that gets?

And I will never, ever understand how it is that I'm supposed to believe that al-Qaeda wants to get the US heavily involved in Syria because they think they'll somehow benefit. How will they benefit? All it would change is who owns the bombs that are being dropped on their heads.

bastardofmelbourne:

I mean, if removing landmines and unexploded ordnance from the vicinity of a town after the ostensible end of hostilities is considered "terrorism," then we're in a really weird place now.

You do understand that Turkey has been supplying the FSA, Jabhat al-Nusra and aQIS weapons, don't you? And yes, the White Helmets have worked with affiliate aQIS brigades ... in particular, as well as al-Nusra Front and what al-Nusra Front became.

Can I ask, what exactly do you think al-Qaeda in Syria is and we'll start there. Like, any individual brigades? How they get their financing? Their history? Their affiliates?

Secondly, the White Helmet have always been working with Turkish backed groups. Hence why Kurds wouldn't let them operate in their policed regions. And I didn't call it "terrorism" ... I called them militia. At best they're mercenaries ... which the same can be said of even al-Qaeda linked brigades when it comes to Syria.

They do actually get funded and their soldiers do get a pay cheque.

Avnger:

It would limit much of the regime's wanton killing of civilians (part of their stated mission). A no flyzone would also benefit both ISIS and the Kurds. There's honestly just as much evidence pointing the white hats as belonging to either of those groups as there is the jihadis, yet you ignore that conveniently.

Pretty sure it would harm the Kurds. At the moment Assad is quite content to let the Kurds control the Kurdish regions and is more busy fighting and bombing the jihadis. And the Kurds are mostly fighting Turkey, Turkmen militia and some minor jihadi groups now that ISIS is bacically gone. And they are quite happy that the Syrian airspace is not completely NATO-controlled and Turkey has to be a bit selective with their air strikes.

Western governments support anyone anti-Assad and anti-ISIS in Syria. When it was realized just how much equipment was making its way into groups directly affiliated with jihadis, the training and resources given was severely curtailed.

"Western gouvernments" have directly opposed interests in Syria and don't support anyone as some form of western block. Just a couple of weeks ago we had open threats about NATO forces assaulting other NATO-forces in Syria because different western countries invested in different sides.

And that is the main reason why "the west" will lose in Syria. Assad+Russia+Iran actually can work together. And after the western betrayal of the Kurds it might become Assad+Russia+Iran+Kurds if the western alliance is not willing to reign in Turkey.

crimson5pheonix:

CaitSeith:

crimson5pheonix:

Those were Russian mercenaries, not soldiers. Apparently this matter :/

Mercenaries or soldiers? If Russia intended escalation, the difference wouldn't matter. If they aren't escalating, what will be their next move?

Mercenaries. They were private military people of some kind.

The russian jouranlist who investigated that just died in suspicious circumstances. Not suspicious to the russian authorities of course, but suspicious to anyone else.

A JOURNALIST who wrote about a shadowy group of Russian mercenaries operating in Syria has been found dead after apparently falling from the balcony of his apartment.

Russian reporter, Maxim Borodin, died in hospital on Sunday, according to news website Novy Den, where he worked. He fell from the fifth-floor balcony of his flat in Yekaterinburg in unclear circumstances.

Russian media reports claimed police said the apartment was locked from the inside, indicating no one else had entered or left the property.

However Novy Den's editor said he did not believe the death could have been an accident and he didn't think Borodin was suicidal, the BBC reports.

Friend Vyacheslav Bashkov, described Mr Borodin as a "principled, honest journalist" and said he had called him at five in the morning last week to claim there was "someone with a weapon on his balcony and people in camouflage and masks on the staircase landing".

He later phoned back to say the men had been apparently taking part in a security exercise.

Authorities said there are no grounds for launching a case, according to Russian media agency TASS.
...
In March, Borodin had written about the secretive Wagner group, a mercenary paramilitary organisation that reportedly operates alongside Syrian forces, but has been denied by the Kremlin.

On February 7, the group made headlines when hundreds were killed in Syria in the first open confrontation with US forces in more than 50 years after a manoeuvre took them across the dividing line between US-led and Russian-backed groups.
...
http://www.news.com.au/world/europe/russia-journalist-maxim-borodin-dies-after-mystery-fall/news-story/9bbd19c91920c2c3e2e3884b4b641756

Addendum_Forthcoming:
You do understand that Turkey has been supplying the FSA, Jabhat al-Nusra and aQIS weapons, don't you? And yes, the White Helmets have worked with affiliate aQIS brigades ... in particular, as well as al-Nusra Front and what al-Nusra Front became.

Yes, I understand that Turkey has been supplying various unsavory groups with weapons. Everyone in Syria is being supplied weapons by someone else. It's like, five or six different wars all going on at once.

When you say the White Helmets have worked with al-Qaeda affiliates, my first two questions are "what constitutes an 'affiliate' of al-Qaeda?" and "what constitutes 'working with' them?" Because...well, let me give you a hypothetical. Say al-Qaeda is holed up in a town, living amongst ordinary citizens. Say Assad bombs the crap out of that town. If the White Helmets show up and start pulling people out of the rubble, are they "working with" al-Qaeda?

Addendum_Forthcoming:
Can I ask, what exactly do you think al-Qaeda in Syria is and we'll start there. Like, any individual brigades? How they get their financing? Their history? Their affiliates?

Oh, geez. Off the top of my head? I know that most of the funding for al-Qaeda originally came from Saudi Arabia and other gulf states that had a connection to that particular brand of fundamentalist Islam dating back to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the 80s.

But my understanding was that al-Qaeda as in "the organisation that did 9/11" was essentially destroyed probably by about 2010, and that the remnants eventually moved to Syria and formed ISIS, which experienced an extraordinary level of success at taking territory due to the sudden power vacuum caused by the Syrian civil war and the weakness of the Iraqi government, as well as a lot of cash in the form of war loot.

I'm not sure how al-Nusra/al-Qaeda-in-Syria came about exactly, but I'm guessing they just split off from ISIS/ISIL at some point and started to gain more traction as ISIS lost ground. As to what they look like? Probably just like any other Syrian rebel group at this point. I mean, Syria is distinct from the Iraq insurgency in that there is no one power in total control of the majority of the country, and various rebel groups are (or were) fighting the regime for control over individual towns. So it's less about suicide vests and car bombs - these being the tools that the Iraqi insurgents relied on when operating under US occupation - and more about actually controlling territory.

As for their organisation, I know that a large number of the Syrian opposition groups were started by former Syrian military and defectors, so I imagine they have the typical organisation of an irregular militia group. I mean, I know they don't have planes or tanks or army divisions or a commander-in-chief. I'm guessing they look more like a bunch of infantry brigades.

Might I ask what the point of the question was?

Addendum_Forthcoming:
Secondly, the White Helmet have always been working with Turkish backed groups. Hence why Kurds wouldn't let them operate in their policed regions.

I understand that their initial training was provided by a Turkish disaster response NGO called AKUT and paid for with seed money from a mixture of sources that included Turkey, but also included funding from the US, UK and Germany. The whole effort was originally organised by a former British Army officer.

To me, it looks more like the typical setup of an NGO; taking funding from a broad group of international sources that are interested in the goals of the NGO.

Addendum_Forthcoming:
And I didn't call it "terrorism" ... I called them militia. At best they're mercenaries ... which the same can be said of even al-Qaeda linked brigades when it comes to Syria.

Okay, my apologies. Sean was the one who described them as "literally al-Qaeda," which was what I took issue with because it's patently untrue.

From what I can tell your opinion is that they're funded and organised by the Turkish government as some kind of...propaganda organisation/medical militia? I don't think that's true, because while I know that some of their funding and training comes from AKUT, I also know that they get millions of dollars in funding from USAID as well as from other NATO partners.

This is a problem with assigning corrupt motives to an NGO's sources of funding. On the one hand, yes, it does matter where the money is coming from. On the other hand, the basic structure of most NGOs is that they take money from almost anywhere. So it's absurd to look at the fact that the White Helmets get money and training from Turkey and conclude that they're wholly controlled by Turkey, because they also get money and training from a bunch of other countries. Proportionally, they get most of their money from the US and the UK. They also get funding from Japan, Denmark, the Netherlands, Canada and New Zealand.

But you get websites like RT holding up the fact that the White Helmets get funding from NATO partners as evidence of their corruption, while simultaneously alleging that they are a terrorist support group made out of former militants. It's nonsense. None of it is internally consistent. Are they corrupt because they get funding from Turkey, or because they get funding from NATO generally? Why does NATO funding make them friends of al-Qaeda? Doesn't NATO also hate al-Qaeda? What does al-Qaeda get from encouraging NATO to invade Syria?

Addendum_Forthcoming:
They do actually get funded and their soldiers do get a pay cheque.

My major beef with calling the White Helmets "soldiers" is that they're noncombatants. They're not armed and they don't actually engage in combat. Worst-case scenario, they're a medical militia who receive enough money from [insert nation-state donor] that they can be said to be 'aligned' with [insert nation-state donor]. Worst-case.

I mean, the biggest example you've presented of them influencing the outcome of a battle is by defusing some landmines after the battle was actually over. It's not exactly strong evidence of villainy.

bastardofmelbourne:
I mean, under your reasoning, Hillary Clinton was also "aligned" with al-Qaeda because she advocated the same no-fly zone.

Hillary Clinton was responsible for arming Al Qaeda in Syria, so I'm not sure what this example is meant to indicate.

Seanchaidh:

bastardofmelbourne:
I mean, under your reasoning, Hillary Clinton was also "aligned" with al-Qaeda because she advocated the same no-fly zone.

Hillary Clinton was responsible for arming Al Qaeda in Syria, so I'm not sure what this example is meant to indicate.

That the actual effect and intended effect of any given action are not always the same, and that the intention behind an act is a significant enough difference to substantially change the nature of the action, most specifically when attempting to reconstruct the internal reasoning of the actor.

To put it bluntly; Hillary Clinton - or the US more generally - sent weapons into Syria that ended up in the hands of jihadists, largely through Saudi intermediaries. Hillary Clinton, and the US generally, did not intend to arm jihadists. Hillary Clinton, and the US generally, do not consider jihadists to be ideological fellow travellers and do not agree with jihadists on any substantive policy questions. It is inaccurate to say that Hillary Clinton, or the US generally, is "allied" or "affiliated" with jihadists. Yet under Clinton, US weapons ended up in the hands of jihadists.

This is what is known in foreign policy terms as an "own goal." I'm sure you're familiar with the cycle by now; it was Reagan's decision to arm and train the mujahideen in Afghanistan that set the foundation (heh) for al-Qaeda a decade later. It's a stupid cycle, and it should be avoided, but the point I'm trying to make is that simply reasoning that "the White Helmets did X, and X benefited al-Qaeda" is insufficient for establishing whether or not the White Helmets are affiliated or associated with al-Qaeda.

Especially when the X is something uncontroversial like "removing landmines," "treating airstrike survivors," or "burying discarded corpses." Even advocating for something more controversial such as a no-fly zone over Syria makes sense from their perspective, because Assad was bombing them with impunity, and they want to not be exploded by bombs.

bastardofmelbourne:
foundation (heh)

Wow!

OK, you win. I can't top that pun.

bastardofmelbourne:

Seanchaidh:

bastardofmelbourne:
I mean, under your reasoning, Hillary Clinton was also "aligned" with al-Qaeda because she advocated the same no-fly zone.

Hillary Clinton was responsible for arming Al Qaeda in Syria, so I'm not sure what this example is meant to indicate.

That the actual effect and intended effect of any given action are not always the same, and that the intention behind an act is a significant enough difference to substantially change the nature of the action, most specifically when attempting to reconstruct the internal reasoning of the actor.

To put it bluntly; Hillary Clinton - or the US more generally - sent weapons into Syria that ended up in the hands of jihadists, largely through Saudi intermediaries. Hillary Clinton, and the US generally, did not intend to arm jihadists. Hillary Clinton, and the US generally, do not consider jihadists to be ideological fellow travellers and do not agree with jihadists on any substantive policy questions. It is inaccurate to say that Hillary Clinton, or the US generally, is "allied" or "affiliated" with jihadists. Yet under Clinton, US weapons ended up in the hands of jihadists.

This is what is known in foreign policy terms as an "own goal." I'm sure you're familiar with the cycle by now; it was Reagan's decision to arm and train the mujahideen in Afghanistan that set the foundation (heh) for al-Qaeda a decade later. It's a stupid cycle, and it should be avoided, but the point I'm trying to make is that simply reasoning that "the White Helmets did X, and X benefited al-Qaeda" is insufficient for establishing whether or not the White Helmets are affiliated or associated with al-Qaeda.

Especially when the X is something uncontroversial like "removing landmines," "treating airstrike survivors," or "burying discarded corpses." Even advocating for something more controversial such as a no-fly zone over Syria makes sense from their perspective, because Assad was bombing them with impunity, and they want to not be exploded by bombs.

I thought it was Carters decision to train and arm the Mujahideen and Reagan just continued what Brzezinski started under Carter.

https://archives.globalresearch.ca/articles/BRZ110A.html

Lil devils x:
I thought it was Carters decision to train and arm the Mujahideen and Reagan just continued what Brzezinski started under Carter.

https://archives.globalresearch.ca/articles/BRZ110A.html

True. Zbiggy, Zbiggy, Zbiggy, can't you see? Sometimes these choices just mystify me. And I hate your meddling ways, they're why these jokers are all so paid.

(heh)

This is how the US has treated Syria's neighbor, Iraq.

What I want to know is why anyone would think the CIA, Pentagon, and State Department of Donald J. Trump is more credible than Colin Powell was in 2003 (and the rest of the "coalition of the willing"), or any of the others who aided the agenda of mass murdering psychopaths who repeatedly fabricate excuses in order to go to war or bomb (just considering Iraq; not just in 2003). And why would the corporate dominated media, who tars independent media (and anyone else who isn't them) as "conspiracy theory" or "Russian propaganda", whether it's the Intercept, the Real News, Democracy Now! or RT America, after having repeated verbatim the lies promulgated by our State Department, and who transparently are on board with an agenda of foreign intervention would have any credibility whatsoever on these topics.

These are media companies which have systematically shut out anti-war voices like Chris Hedges, Ed Schultz, Phil Donahue, and Thom Hartmann. They spew raw, unvarnished pro-war propaganda and their anchors are paid very, very well to do it.

It's not about the profit they make selling ads, either, though you will frequently see parts of the military industrial complex seemingly wasting their money advertising to the general public on these platforms; no, Boeing doesn't think Joe Q. Public is in the market for jumbo jets, they're paying for coverage (or non-coverage). The idea that coverage of the news is just an organic result of an impulse toward 'sensationalism'-- and that though they might bend the truth, they pay close attention not to break it-- is incorrect. It isn't just about access, either. The news is owned by people with major interests in pushing particular viewpoints.

The profit motive doesn't just mean "is the news itself bringing in revenue", it means "what is it doing to the other revenue streams"; what is MSNBC doing for Comcast (what do they say, if anything, about net neutrality, for example)? How is the Washington Post helping or hurting Amazon (or any other company Jeff Bezos might be invested in)? Well gosh, I just bought some Raytheon stock, it'd be wonderful to use some Tomahawk missiles somewhere. How many media executives do you suppose have defense stocks?

The profit motive causes this behavior; defense contractors and other large corporations, for various reasons, find it in their interest to support overseas war. The profit motive, indeed, helps to coordinate those interests: it's more profitable to fall in line with a war-friendly zeitgeist and buy some defense stocks than it is to oppose war. One might joke about the villain in the Fifth Element "explaining Keynesian economics" with his broken glass (and having to fix it) analogy; in a very real sense, breaking things and rebuilding them, or to put it another way the pursuit of demand only for the sake of demand, is exactly what is going on here. But it's not the tame kind of redistributive Keynesianism, as that isn't profitable for the ownership class.

The demand can't come directly from domestic consumption; the people are too far in debt. It must come from the government (without additional taxes on the wealthy) and/or create opportunities for the owners to take control of foreign resources. Pass a great big military budget. And the world needs to have a tension high enough to justify that year after year. So let's go bomb another country in the center of it, the Middle East. Let's pretend that Putin is a great big threat even though Russia has a military budget roughly equivalent to and often less than Saudi Arabia's. Let's pretend that Russian propaganda is anywhere near as influential as Israeli or Saudi or Goldman Sachs propaganda. When we get to drop bombs, the stock market booms, the moneyed classes give a cheer, some of the more credulous people feel like the United States has done another in a long line of "good things" and all seems well in the craterous oil and blood-soaked world. Capitalism is the disease which causes this particular form of imperialism.

bastardofmelbourne:
This is what is known in foreign policy terms as an "own goal." I'm sure you're familiar with the cycle by now; it was Reagan's decision to arm and train the mujahideen in Afghanistan that set the foundation (heh) for al-Qaeda a decade later. It's a stupid cycle, and it should be avoided

Getting a bit of-topic, but was the mistake to support the mujahideen, or to support them, lose interest and leave them to their own devices? If the US had kept some interest in Afghanistan in the late 20th century, would it have avoided the need for sudden major interest in the early 21st?

Seanchaidh:

bastardofmelbourne:
foundation (heh)

Wow!

OK, you win. I can't top that pun.

Thank you! My father would have been proud.

Thaluikhain:
Getting a bit of-topic, but was the mistake to support the mujahideen, or to support them, lose interest and leave them to their own devices? If the US had kept some interest in Afghanistan in the late 20th century, would it have avoided the need for sudden major interest in the early 21st?

It's complicated. The CIA operation to supply the mujahideen was one of the longest and most expensive in the agency's history, costing hundreds of millions of dollars over the years of its operation. The Soviet-Afghan war basically ended in 1989, and once that immediate threat was over, the question of sending further non-military aid to Afghanistan turned into an expensive political football. The aid effectively dried up by 1990; I understand Bush Sr. was the one who made the decision, ironically enough.

It's possible that by continuing to send aid to the region into the 90s, the US could have prevented the state from falling into civil war. There were a lot of factors working against Afghanistan at the time. Iran was supporting Shi'a militias to try and turn the area into a client state, Saudi Arabia was supporting Sunni militias to stop Iran, Pakistan's intelligence service was starting to traffic in Afghan heroin to compensate for the economic sanctions the country faced as a result of its nuclear program, and the mujahideen themselves could never settle on a coalition government. It was a lot like the current situation in Libya and Syria, now that I think about it.

All I can really say is that if the US and its intelligence agencies paid more attention to the second and third-order consequences of their decisions, the world would be a better place. The US has a tendency to stick its dick in a country, blow its load, and scarper, leaving the resulting love-child to grow up into the nation-state equivalent of a fatherless juvenile delinquent.

This person who was actually in Syria has an interesting perspective on the White Helmets, and the Syrian "civil war" more generally:

Thaluikhain:

Getting a bit of-topic, but was the mistake to support the mujahideen, or to support them, lose interest and leave them to their own devices? If the US had kept some interest in Afghanistan in the late 20th century, would it have avoided the need for sudden major interest in the early 21st?

The USA supported the Mujahadeen to score one over the USSR, obviously. They probably didn't have to bother as the Afghans have a long history of making life painful for occupiers, although I'm sure it made the Soviet downfall plenty faster.

But whether things could have turned out differently, who knows. Afghanistan, as a very weak state, was always liable to be a plaything for other nations to fiddle with. Obviously, Iran and Saudi Arabia would be highly interested; Iran to secure its eastern border and Saudi Arabia to make it more insecure. I don't honestly know if the USA could ever have funded Afghanistan into a relatively stable state given how fragmented it was and how many competing groups were likely to have got involved.

bastardofmelbourne:

Yes, I understand that Turkey has been supplying various unsavory groups with weapons. Everyone in Syria is being supplied weapons by someone else. It's like, five or six different wars all going on at once.

For starters, sorry for taking so long to reply to this. I think my quote functions got borked and by the time I unborked them in options I think this must have passed me by...

Yes, like the White Helmets. Who are documented to be receiving Turkish government funding as is ANF. Or are you claiming Turkey has no vested interest in annexing territory from Syria?

When you say the White Helmets have worked with al-Qaeda affiliates, my first two questions are "what constitutes an 'affiliate' of al-Qaeda?" and "what constitutes 'working with' them?" Because...well, let me give you a hypothetical. Say al-Qaeda is holed up in a town, living amongst ordinary citizens. Say Assad bombs the crap out of that town. If the White Helmets show up and start pulling people out of the rubble, are they "working with" al-Qaeda?

As in, they are documented to be receiving funding from the same government supplying ANF. That they are operating in tandem with Turkish backed interests in order to annex territory from Syria ... That they are a propaganda and combat support group of Turkish backed Islamists in Syria for the process of aggressive regime change and Turkish annexation of Syrian soil ... and that the Kurds have always had good reasons for shutting them down for that reason.

And yes, I'll take Kurdish words on what is needed in Syria over Turks and Salafists (and in this case Turkish Salafists).

Mainly because Kurds are the only faction in that region of the world that actually don't have religious fundamentalists and have actually been fighting religious fundamentalists there. I'll also point to the fact that the majority of Syrians don't want Turkish, U.S. and Saudi backed Salafists in their backyard. And that many Druze and Christian militias have sided with Assad fighting off Turkish-backed Salafists for that reason.

Oh, geez. Off the top of my head? I know that most of the funding for al-Qaeda originally came from Saudi Arabia and other gulf states that had a connection to that particular brand of fundamentalist Islam dating back to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the 80s.

And this doesn't make you skeptical of their actions because .... why? Do you really want to see another Libya? Because that's exactly what it's going to look like. Conveniently we'll ignore what happens after the dust settles in Syria, much in the same way as well.

Then Europeans can keep griping about refugees crossing the border again, and pretend like a handful of Western countries basically orchestrating violent regime change by arming & assisting Salafists has nothing to do with it. By my reckoning, the grand majority of media outlets stopped reporting by and large live footage and reports out of Libya about 2 weeks after Gaddafi was murdered.

Maybe because slave markets in the street isn't a pretty image to end on after Western assassination? Let's try to beat a personal best and make it 7 days this time. Just enough time to see Salafists shooting rifles into the air in the victory, but before all those Christians, Druze and Kurds are thrown against walls and shot?

I mean I'm trying to get a read on your personal views, here. Are you okay or not okay with annexation of Syrian soil? See, in your other posts on this subject you seem pretty pro-Kurdish autonomy (correct me if mistaken)--But on this situation you seem blithely okay with foreign backed Salafists annexing territory, taking Kurdish gained land from Islamists that such land never belonged to in the first place as foreign mercenaries, and should never have been backed in the first place.

https://ahvalnews.com/afrin/kurds-devastated-after-turkish-backed-islamists-take-afrin

Does that sound like just fucking medics to you in this fight? These are real people's lives, fighting a very real imperialist enemy and blatantly ignoring the evidence of their complicity is worsening the situation. The "Free Syrian Army" and "White Helmets" are a fucking joke of an organization ... it's orchestrated invasion and genocide. And there is plenty enough evidence of that, whether White Helmets working directly with FSA brigades, and the latter's correlative efforts working with the Turkish military to invade Afrin.

Funny how you see the "Free Syrian Army" raising up Turkish flags in the city of Afrin, isn't it? It's almost as if they don't give a shit about the actual Syrians living there.

image

Does that look like 'liberation' to you?

image

How about this lovely image of apparently popular revolution...?

Carrying unusual gear for a supposedly Free Syrian Army soldier... But hey, maybe their dog ate their Syrian colours-based flag at home?

How about how the "Free Syrian Army" is a cynical attempt to whitewash their Salafist brigade roots and their Turkish backing to stage an effective coup, supported within Turkish military bases and their logistical operations? To give you a little 'taste' and snippet of the sordid organization...

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-24403003

Gee ... Al-Raqqa ... Al-Raqqa ... Where have I heard that township before? Islamic-something? Something-State?

It's on the tip of my tongue. Like, the Kurds were fighting them and they were trying to put bullets into the YPG? Seems important. Sure it will come to me. And Idlib! That keeps cropping up as well ... you kjnow that place where mysterious White Helmets emerged out of? Seen wining and dining with FSA brigades? And this weird group, Jabhat al-Nusra ... Turkey seemed to love them, and began trying to expedite defections out of the group into FSA affiliated brigades, before suddenly not because it became public they had chemical weapons production goods stockpiled in Adana province.

You know .... these friendly, freedom loving guys.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria/syrian-rebels-declare-counter-attack-in-idlib-province-idUSKBN1F01P7

(From source above)

Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), an alliance led by the Nusra Front, the dominant force in Idlib, said it had already made gains.

?With Allah?s blessings we drew plans and prepared ourselves and are encircling them,? said Abu al Naji, a commander from Tahrir al Sham. ?We have killed many.?

Rebels said they had captured some 15 villages and seized 60 government fighters. A Syrian military source denied this and dismissed rebel talk of a counter attack as propaganda. The source said fierce battles were however underway in the area and army advances were continuing.

Rebel sources said warplanes had struck Khan Sheikhoun and Saraqeb, two major population centers in Idlib province that are among several towns that have been targeted in the latest offensive.

The latest push by the army and its allies has alarmed Turkey which has been deploying forces inside northern Idlib and setting up bases which it says are part of agreements with Iran and Russia over a descalation zone in Idlib.

The Turkish government said the Idlib offensive was endangering the effort to reach a resolution of the conflict and accused the Syrian government of using the pretext of fighting militants to wage a widescale attack.

Didn't take them long to kiss and make up, did it? But, such and such political expediency. It's almost as if they're working with Turkey. Hint hint; they are. And so are the White Helmets. We know this.

And when they mean 'Iran-backed militia' ... they mean Hezbollah, and groups of Druze that live there. They just so happen to be getting arms from Iran... for defending themselves against Salafists and Turkish invaders in their own country. Defending themselves against people trying to mass execute them as has been the case of so many innocent Druze slaughtered at their hands.

You know, instances like this...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qalb_Loze_massacre

Gee, could it be that Turkey used HTS/ANF to prop them up before using them as an excuse to escalate their offensive and mobilise those groups they backed into consolidating the ground they carved their niche out of on Syrian soil? You know, the guys that were originally getting direct Arab and U.S. shadow funding and support through Qatari 'government' backers before it became politically inexpedient to do so?

https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/allies-desert-syria-jihadists-before-turkey-backed-battle-1.665068

You know how many people are recorded to actually have died from using chemical weapons? Upper limit, 2000. In all recorded cases. Possibly as little as 500. Now I'm sure as fucking shit Regime-backed forces have likely used them, but pretending as if they're a mainstay of the Syrian Arab Army's strategic and tactical means to effect change on the battlefield is barmy.

Air strikes with conventional munitions are overwhelmingly more effective. Both in terms of collateral AND effective fire.

So either it is any number of Regime backed forces .. or perhaps, just perhaps, it has nothing to do with regime-backed forces at all? And for the sake of argumentation ... even if it were the exclusive province of regime-backed forces, why would it matter? We seem pretty fucking quick to ignore the average atrocity commited by FSA brigades against groups like the Druze in Idlib ... but apparently the use of chemical weapons that kill in the single digits is somehow excuse to back those brigades who mass murder Christians and Druze?

What the metric fuck?

It's almost as is the U.S. backed Rebels are being fought by Druze militia for a reason...

https://twitter.com/MmaGreen/status/865280919401365506

Groups like Jaysh Abu Ibrahim. They're conventionally what we'd call 'the good guys'. Fighting religious fundamentalists ... protecting their native soil ... protecting their native communities from Ottoman Turkish invaders and fighting against Sunni extremism.

Yet who's fucking side are they on?

How about these brave women fighting against Turkey and Turkish-backed forces?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bethnahrain_Women%27s_Protection_Forces

Where do you think these women stand on the issue of Arab and Western backed Salafists?

Those are the people we want to sacrifice upon the altar of war?

Are you going to be so quick to condemn them as well? It's almost as if people who didn't even like Assad, may have even had reasons to fight him, are fighting Salafists Western forces are backing because Syrians collectively, regardless of religion, don't want their futures to be dictated to by foreigners.

And yet what allies has the West and Arab states accrued to perform violent regime change? Wahhabists... That's it. Wahhabists.

Oh, and when American idiots cheer about the U.S. actively assisting """rebel""" factions in East Ghouta, Homs, and Hama... just remember you evangelicals ... These are amongst the many people those Salafists had been routinely targeting for slaughter and forced conversion.

https://www.joshualandis.com/blog/usud-al-cherubim-pro-assad-christian-militia/

A Christian militia that rose up to defend ancient monastic sites, their communities, and Christian reliquaries from pillaging and desecration by Islamists.

You know? From our good friends and military buddies we supplied arms and funding to that belong to this group...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaysh_al-Islam

Funny ... I don't seem to see many White Helmets decrying this shit ... apparently only certain war crimes matter.

https://southfront.org/jaysh-al-islam-shells-damascus-with-heavy-rockets-russian-warplanes-respond-video-photos/

Remember when you were ssying Salafists didn't have rocket artillery? Well that completely not rocket artillery is courtesy of a Jaysh al-Islam commande's Twitter feed.

Ain't that a kick in the teeth? Oh, but I'm sure they've changed from screaming how they want to establish an Islamic caliphate and destroy infidels ... to believing in democratic values in the span of a week after Turkish and Saudi-backed forces nudged them to recant their prior statements.

No amount of chemical weapons usage will excuse allowing Salafists to run amok in the country, to actively commit genocide against entire ethnic groups with direct Western backing, or to allow Turkey to realize its imperialist ambitions.

I'm surprised no journalist is using the 'O' word in self-awareness when relating Turkey's new imperialist ambitions in Syria.

In short, fuck this war.

We lost the moral metrics to act years ago. Right now? We're spending taxpayer money to produce only misery. Just like the 2003 invasion of Iraq, this war will be viewed no differently by historians. It is dishonourable in every measure of our humanity to pretend like there is moral clout in backing these butchers a second longer.

So... you know ... why the fuck should we even begin to trust groups like the White Helmets? After, you know, proof they're actively assisting the takeover of a country and displacement and capture of Kurdish territory? Because they got a Nobel prize? I also remember a certain U.S. president getting one and selling us a story of 'Moderate Rebels' like Al Nusra Front, Jaysh al-Islam, and (what would become) Jordanian IS fighters.

Fun fact... groups like the Syriac Military Council, the SSNP, People's Protection Groups, the Syrian National Defence Force and Syrian Arab Army... they're the only ones to actually unite Alawis, Sunnis, Shi'ites, Christians, Druze, Kurds and more... who actually seem to have an idea of a secular government rather than a caliphate once the dust settles... and what do they all have in common?

Shooting Arab and Western backed """rebels"""...

Also popular support by the people in the places where they're fighting and defending their livelihoods and communities. Also the fact that they're all natives in the country. Made up of people with families, homes, and livelihoods they've built there. Their vision of the future differ, but they all place an ideal of being Syrian.

Funny that.

https://www.truthdig.com/articles/syria-controversy-dont-believe-the-official-narrative/

To date, no concrete evidence of a chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government in Douma has been produced to support the Trump administration's justification for the allies' bombing in response. The only sources of what State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert described as "our own intelligence" on chemical warfare allegations were the White Helmets and the Syrian American Medical Society.

The U.S. government has funded both groups, and they operate exclusively alongside Salafi-jihadi militants, including the local affiliate of al-Qaida and Islamic State. Both groups also are avowedly dedicated to stimulating support for a Western-led war of regime change against Syrian President Bashar Assad. Neither, therefore, can be considered credible sources of intelligence.

In 2007, journalist James Bamford recalled how Americans had been subjected to "a long line of hyped and fraudulent stories that would eventually propel the U.S. into a war with Iraq-- the first war based almost entirely on a covert propaganda campaign targeting the media." The dirty war on Syria represents an extension of that strategy, with the mainstream media operating hand in glove with insurgent-allied influence operations like the White Helmets to cultivate public support for another war of regime change.

Of course, one might ask why Salafi militants would want the West involved in the Middle East. The truth is that we help their aims. ISIS came out of the intervention in Iraq. And our aid to Saudi Arabia or "moderate" (eyeroll) "rebels" (foreign fighters) ends up in the hands of Salafi militants like Al Qaeda and ISIS. Assad is a more stable adversary in Syria than any Western-backed result of regime change could hope to be. It's not like they're winning against Assad without the intervention of NATO, so of course they want NATO to damage Assad as much as possible, even if it might ultimately mean replacing him with another adversary. Such an adversary would be much easier to topple anyway.

Aha, the tables have turned; now it is I who must apologise for not responding promptly.

Addendum_Forthcoming:
Yes, like the White Helmets. Who are documented to be receiving Turkish government funding as is ANF. Or are you claiming Turkey has no vested interest in annexing territory from Syria?

Well, there are two assertions in there that you're asking my opinion on. One is that Turkey has a vested interest in annexing territory from Syria. I can agree with that; in its current state, Syria is open season for regional power plays and Turkey's current government is hardly beyond reproach.

The other is that because the White Helmets have received funding from the Turkish government, they are complicit in this power play by the Turkish government. This I do not agree with. I think it is entirely reasonable for the White Helmets to take money from the Turkish government; as I said, NGOs rely on a wide variety of state and private donors for their funding, and the pressing need for emergency response in Syria would mean that the White Helmets are not necessarily going to scrutinise the source of that funding too closely. They need the money.

More importantly, while Turkey's government is a donor behind the White Helmets, it is not the only donor, nor is it even the dominant donor. The majority of the White Helmet's funding came initially from the UK and in recent years from the US through USAID. Turkey is not even on the list of their major donors. The UK and US are overwhelmingly the largest contributors, so it is difficult to argue that Turkey has enough control over the White Helmet's funding that they could co-opt them as part of an expansionist agenda.

The real White Helmets/Turkey connection is through AKUT, which as I said above, is a Turkish search-and-rescue NGO that provided training and equipment for the White Helmets and which helps the White Helmets operate from inside Turkey. But rather than being nefarious, this relationship makes a lot of sense in context. Turkey is geographically convenient; it's a relatively stable state in easy proximity to Syria and particularly to the areas hardest hit by the airstrike campaign. To the east you have Iraq, which is not safe territory; to the south you have Israel, which is less hostile but not welcoming, and to the west you have Lebanon and the Mediterranean. If I was being asked to choose a nation from which to base the actions of an NGO in the Syria reigon, Turkey is a sensible choice.

Secondly, there's the fact that Turkey is a quake-prone area, and AKUT specialises in earthquake response - it first gained international notoriety due to its response to the 1999 Marmara earthquake. And the natural disaster that most closely resembles the result of an airstrike is an earthquake. The main obstacles presented by an airstrike - collapsed buildings, sinkholes, dust inhalation, damaged roads and plumbing and disease from the lack of access to clean water - are the same as those presented by an earthquake. For a group that primarily exists to help the survivors of airstrikes and other bombings, AKUT's training and experience in urban search-and-rescue are very applicable. So the partnership isn't surprising, and it isn't terrible suspicious either, because AKUT is itself a secular NGO that predates the Edrogan government by well over a decade. (They actually have Ataturk's headshot on the front page of their website, which would be an odd choice for a Salafist puppet.)

The tl;dr is this: I do believe that Turkey provides ANF with funding and weapons, and that Turkey has a vested interest in making territorial power plays in Syria, particularly aimed at the Kurds. I do not believe that this implicates the White Helmets in any kind of misconduct unbecoming of a humanitarian NGO, or that it makes the White Helmets some kind of combat support militia for Turkey. The White Helmets do need to co-operate with the Turkish government to a certain extent because they operate out of Turkey, but when it comes to raw funding, the primary backers of the White Helmets are Western governments like the UK, the US, and Germany - countries that have a vested interest in providing humanitarian aid to Syrians caught in the civil war so as to stem the influx of Syrian war refugees across their borders.

Addendum_Forthcoming:
As in, they are documented to be receiving funding from the same government supplying ANF. That they are operating in tandem with Turkish backed interests in order to annex territory from Syria ... That they are a propaganda and combat support group of Turkish backed Islamists in Syria for the process of aggressive regime change and Turkish annexation of Syrian soil ... and that the Kurds have always had good reasons for shutting them down for that reason.

There's a whole bunch of claims in there. In order of appearance;

- agree
- disagree
- disagree
- potentially agree.

As I said above, I do believe that Turkey is supporting Sunni militias in Syria such as al-Nusra. I also believe that the White Helmets have received funding from Turkey. I do not believe that makes the White Helmets complicit in Turkey's expansionist efforts, or that it makes them a propaganda and combat support group of Turkish Islamists aiming at aggressive regime change and Turkish annexation of Syria.

As to whether the Kurds have good reason for not co-operating with the White Helmets - it depends. Assad has good reason for not co-operating with the White Helmets; that doesn't justify his practice of bombing them. If the Kurds feel that they need to surround a town with landmines to ward off Turkish tanks, and the White Helmets feel that they need to defuse landmines and unexploded ordnance in order to make the area safe for habitation, then I can understand why their goals might be at odds. But just because their goals are at odds doesn't mean that the White Helmets are actively trying to weaken or sabotage the Kurdish militias.

Addendum_Forthcoming:
Mainly because Kurds are the only faction in that region of the world that actually don't have religious fundamentalists and have actually been fighting religious fundamentalists there. I'll also point to the fact that the majority of Syrians don't want Turkish, U.S. and Saudi backed Salafists in their backyard. And that many Druze and Christian militias have sided with Assad fighting off Turkish-backed Salafists for that reason.

I largely agree with this. The Kurds are one of the more sympathetic actors in the current Syrian conflict - because they are secular, because they are the victims of religious persecution and genocide, and because they are somewhat less likely to commit war crimes than other participants.

Addendum_Forthcoming:
And this doesn't make you skeptical of their actions because .... why? Do you really want to see another Libya? Because that's exactly what it's going to look like. Conveniently we'll ignore what happens after the dust settles in Syria, much in the same way as well.

I am skeptical of Western military intervention in Syria. I think that it may have been possible in the earliest stages of the conflict, but that at this point, such an action can only do more damage to the Syrian people. A US occupation of Syria right now would not save lives so much as it would burden the US with the responsibility for rebuilding Syria - an act that itself has uncomfortable colonial overtones.

But the White Helmets are not a military force. They are advocating a Western military intervention, largely because it would make the immediate nature of their work a lot easier - currently, they're treated as enemy combatants by Assad - but their actual on-the-ground actions, by all accounts I can find, are purely humanitarian in nature. So I do not consider funding the White Helmets to be comparable to a Libyan-style bombing campaign or an Iraq-style occupation. As foreign interventions go, it's quite limited. And I'm totally fine with it, so long as the White Helmets maintain their current priorities and practices. Because there's very little else that the West can really do to help Syria at this point. Anything more forceful than supplying humanitarian aid will likely only make the problem worse.

Addendum_Forthcoming:
I mean I'm trying to get a read on your personal views, here. Are you okay or not okay with annexation of Syrian soil? See, in your other posts on this subject you seem pretty pro-Kurdish autonomy (correct me if mistaken)--But on this situation you seem blithely okay with foreign backed Salafists annexing territory, taking Kurdish gained land from Islamists that such land never belonged to in the first place as foreign mercenaries, and should never have been backed in the first place.

Look, this post is already super long and the rest of your post was also super long, so I'll respond to this paragraph and then call it, because this is the probably the most pertinent part of your post.

You are correct that I am pro-Kurdish autonomy. The Kurds are one of the most shat-on ethnic groups in the Middle East. If I was made World God-President right now, one of the things on my list would be to carve out Kurdish-inhabited territory in Iraq, Syria and Turkey to form a new Kurdistan. I consider Turkey's continued refusal to entertain the claims of Kurdish sovereignty to be a black mark on their foreign relations and a contributing factor to the endless, Gordian mess of ethnic conflicts that is the modern Middle East.

My views on the "annexation of Syrian soil" are variable, largely because you need to specify who is doing the annexing. I do not believe that Turkey or Israel have any business annexing Syrian territory, for example. But if we were talking about Kurds annexing primarily Kurdish territory to establish an autonomous Kurdistan, I could support that. When it comes to ISIS - whose stated goal, remember, was to create a new Islamic state out of annexed Iraqi and Syrian territory - I could not condemn their actions more. They are easily my most-hated political group - not just because of the massacres and the extortion and the trafficking in sex slaves, but also because they bulldozed irreplaceable archaeological sites for the sole purpose of erasing the Middle East's pre-Islamic heritage. If you lined every member of ISIS up in front of a cliff with their legs chained together and gave me the end of the chain, I would tie that shit to an anchor and toss them all into the ocean.

But with ISIS mostly reduced to insurgency, my strongest opinion right now is that Iran and Saudi Arabia ought not to be involved in Syria at all, as they are essentially using it as a battlefield for a proxy war between the two of them, to the detriment of the Syrian people. I think Russia especially shouldn't be involved, because Russia is a world superpower and its goals in the area boil down to a naked power grab - they want to make Assad dependent on their military support so that he can be used as a chess piece in the manipulation of Arab geopolitics. Not only is the purpose of their military intervention not at all humanitarian, but it has displayed a flagrant disregard for civilian casualties and the laws of war. It's the worst of all possible military interventions; one undertaken solely for the benefit of the intervening state, to the universal detriment of the intervened.

The fundamental point of disagreement between us that I can identify is not that we disagree on anything regarding Kurdish autonomy or foreign intervention in the region, but simply that we disagree on our characterisation of the White Helmets. I believe, based on the facts presented to me, that the White Helmets are a well-intentioned and unarmed humanitarian NGO that is primarily supported by Western governments out of a desire to provide humanitarian aid to Syrians caught in the civil war. You believe, if you'll forgive me putting words in your mouth, that they are an agent of the Turkish government being deployed to provide support and cover for the Turkish annexation of disputed Syrian territory.

I do not agree with that characterisation of the White Helmets, any more than I agree with Seanchaidh's characterisation of them as "literally al-Qaeda." I simply do not believe that the White Helmets are the vanguard of a Western military intervention. I find that belief to be unsubstantiated at best. Every action taken by the White Helmets is consistent with their goals as a humanitarian NGO. Their habit of recording the aftermath of regime airstrikes makes sense because it elicits international support for their rescue activities. Their practice of disarming landmines around urban areas makes sense because landmines and unexploded ordnance are buried tragedies waiting to ruin someone's day. Even advocating a no-fly zone makes sense from their position - they are being bombed by Assad with impunity, and they would be able to do their job a lot easier if Assad was unable to bomb them.

Anyway, this is really super long, so I'm afraid I have to stop there. I do appreciate the effort you put into your response.

Some quality journalism coming out of Syria here:

Not the Onion.

Seanchaidh:
Some quality journalism coming out of Syria here:

Not the Onion.

I see someone else here watches Jimmy Dore. :P

The fact he got someone who shot a documentary in Syria to talk about her experiences, and she spent about 40 minutes with him with video footage she took arguing against the main narrative is pretty amazing. It's enough to confirm to me that I should be reeaaaal skeptical of the "rah rah we need to go to war" narrative.

Lil devils x:
snip

Do you think Assad used gas on his enemies, just as the US announced it was pulling out? Why would they do that? That is the only thing that would keep us in.
And, very friendly, nice and helpful of Trump to let the Russians know we were coming, but why come at all? I don't understand what you think was going on there at all.

Gorfias:

Lil devils x:
snip

Do you think Assad used gas on his enemies, just as the US announced it was pulling out? Why would they do that? That is the only thing that would keep us in.
And, very friendly, nice and helpful of Trump to let the Russians know we were coming, but why come at all? I don't understand what you think was going on there at all.

I think what the intelligence agencies said was going on was what was going on. Why would I entertain fictional conspiracy theories people pulled out of their arse instead of listening to what those actually investigating it found? It matters not if Assahat actually ordered the use of gas or not, members of his military have done so repeatedly with or without his consent. If they had destroyed all of the gas as Russia had claimed this would not still be an ongoing issue.

We can trust Russia just about as far as we can throw them.

Lil devils x:

Gorfias:

Lil devils x:
snip

Do you think Assad used gas on his enemies, just as the US announced it was pulling out? Why would they do that? That is the only thing that would keep us in.
And, very friendly, nice and helpful of Trump to let the Russians know we were coming, but why come at all? I don't understand what you think was going on there at all.

I think what the intelligence agencies said was going on was what was going on. Why would I entertain fictional conspiracy theories people pulled out of their arse instead of listening to what those actually investigating it found? It matters not if Assahat actually ordered the use of gas or not, members of his military have done so repeatedly with or without his consent. If they had destroyed all of the gas as Russia had claimed this would not still be an ongoing issue.

We can trust Russia just about as far as we can throw them.

And I trust the "Iraq did 9/11-I mean had weapons of mass destruction!" intelligence communities as far as I can throw THEM.

While they and their investigators say "yes, the army used chemical weapons", there are people on the ground who say "no, they didn't. And that 'chemical facility' that was hit was a lab for curing snake venom, and we can prove there were regulators who stayed there to make sure the work was on the up-and-up".

I'm not saying I trust Russia either. But considering the odd timing of the gas attack, plus the questionable track record of the intelligence agencies, plus the general flow of information...I lean towards "Assad probably didn't do it, this is a ploy to get the US to attack Syria".

Of course, if the UN can conclusively prove that the attack was carried out by assad's forces, I might change my tune. But so far, all I see is the same people who lied your country into an illegal offensive war in iraq promiing that this time it's legit, and CNN reporters sniffing backpacks going "oh, man there's definitely something on it, my nose stings a little!" >_>

bastardofmelbourne:

Well, there are two assertions in there that you're asking my opinion on. One is that Turkey has a vested interest in annexing territory from Syria. I can agree with that; in its current state, Syria is open season for regional power plays and Turkey's current government is hardly beyond reproach.

The other is that because the White Helmets have received funding from the Turkish government, they are complicit in this power play by the Turkish government. This I do not agree with. I think it is entirely reasonable for the White Helmets to take money from the Turkish government; as I said, NGOs rely on a wide variety of state and private donors for their funding, and the pressing need for emergency response in Syria would mean that the White Helmets are not necessarily going to scrutinise the source of that funding too closely. They need the money.

But we literally see them co-ordinating with groups like FSA. When exactly have they denounced terrorist activity by groups like FSA, Jaysh al-Islam, or even chronicled the suffering of Kurds in Afrin? In short, they seem to have a very selective eye as to how they treat Syrians that live there. So I think they're full of garbage, the documentation of their actions thoroughly supports my idea they're nothing short of a combat support group (of which you haven't actually challenged), and frankly they're nothing but like every other group Western forces have backed in this sordid campaign.

To put it pointedly, they have a sketchier humanitarian record than the various People's Protection Groups... and guess what they think of the White Helmets?

And yes, I'll take Kurdish words over the veracity or merit of the White Helmets over Turkish war propaganda, or Western for that matter.

More importantly, while Turkey's government is a donor behind the White Helmets, it is not the only donor, nor is it even the dominant donor. The majority of the White Helmet's funding came initially from the UK and in recent years from the US through USAID. Turkey is not even on the list of their major donors. The UK and US are overwhelmingly the largest contributors, so it is difficult to argue that Turkey has enough control over the White Helmet's funding that they could co-opt them as part of an expansionist agenda.

Yes, because the U.S. and the UK have a wonderful track record in the region... training up Jordanian IS fighters andwhat not. Backing the FSA and HTS to ethnically cleanse Idlib province. The U.S. or the UK do not give a shit about Turkey's aggressive annexation. The U.S. have surrendered any funding to the Kurds long ago. As I said thrice now on these forums ... as soon as Turkey invades Syria, 'U.S. backed Kurdish militia' will merely be Kurdish militia.

The tl;dr is this: I do believe that Turkey provides ANF with funding and weapons, and that Turkey has a vested interest in making territorial power plays in Syria, particularly aimed at the Kurds. I do not believe that this implicates the White Helmets in any kind of misconduct unbecoming of a humanitarian NGO, or that it makes the White Helmets some kind of combat support militia for Turkey. The White Helmets do need to co-operate with the Turkish government to a certain extent because they operate out of Turkey, but when it comes to raw funding, the primary backers of the White Helmets are Western governments like the UK, the US, and Germany - countries that have a vested interest in providing humanitarian aid to Syrians caught in the civil war so as to stem the influx of Syrian war refugees across their borders.

No they don't. They have a vested interest in those Saudi-Turkey oil and gas pipeline plans into Europe because they don't like how much access and supply that Russia has fed to their energy interests.

That's what all of this has been about since the beginning.

There is evidence that NATO has orchestrated regime change over this shit both in Syria and Libya over the same issue. If you truly believe the U.S. or the UK have a 'vested interest' in providing humanitarian assistance to Syria, means entirely ignoring the fact that they have been directly supplying foreign mercenaries for the conflict. If they gave a shit about the humanitarian crisis, they'd supply the Kurds weapons to fight Turkish tanks and aircraft ... and directly pressure Turkey to cease its annexation of Kurdish territory and Syrian soil and displacing hundreds of thousands of them after they helped fight the OTHER formerly Western backed IS (like Jordanian fighters in Sweida)? Gee, I wonder where they came from ...

Since when has the U.S. or the UK actively committed to solving the humanitarian crisis in the protracted Middle East and North African conflict? Five letter words for you there. Yemen and Libya. The listgets pretty fucking long assuming we're extending the gaze beyond only a handful of years ago.

Quite clearly Western humanitarian efforts only really comes in 5.56x45mm.

There's a whole bunch of claims in there. In order of appearance;

- agree
- disagree
- disagree
- potentially agree.

As I said above, I do believe that Turkey is supporting Sunni militias in Syria such as al-Nusra. I also believe that the White Helmets have received funding from Turkey. I do not believe that makes the White Helmets complicit in Turkey's expansionist efforts, or that it makes them a propaganda and combat support group of Turkish Islamists aiming at aggressive regime change and Turkish annexation of Syria.

Why? Because they tell us they're just plum-gosh-darn-decent? Sorry, but at this point I don't buy it. The Kurdish has been more than receptive to various international assistance. Who have proven themselves effective police and peacekeepers of the realms they had managed to secure. Yet there doesn't seem to be any support for the White Helmets from them, regardless. The only documented actions in the area I can find of the White Helmets is mine clearing for Turkish tanks to easily penetrate Syrian-Kurdish lines, as well as co-ordinating with the FSA directly to fight them.

That doesn't sound like medics. And the FSA are responsible for direct atrocities to multiple ethnic communities in the region. Yet where exactly do you see White Helmets decrying their actions? Or treating the victims of the FSA? What we do see them doing is assisting the Turks to displace the Kurdish population, and try to alter the demographics of the region. They have actively assisted the deaths and ethnic cleansing of Afrin and the Idlib governate to the tune of 200-300'000 refugees and civilian casualties, now or to be ... people that can't find assistance in either Syrian regime held territories, or in Turkey, Jordan, Israel or Saudi Arabia. Only possibly Eastern Kurds or Idlib and Lebanese Druze.

And the death toll of that annexation is going to be huge. It's hard to call people 'medics' with that amount of blood on your hands you're complicit with. These are natives of Syria. Grew up on Syrian soil. To theirs a legacy of their ancestors now excised from them forevermore.

How about their concerted attack on the UN? Or tacit refusal to work with independent researchers and aid convoys? Their underhanded threats, backed by Turkey and Israeli war rhetoric, to nations beseeching the UN to examine the safety and situation of numerous ethnic communities in both Southwest Syria or Northwest Syria suffering at the hands of Turkish and U.S. backed Islamists?

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/08/aid-groups-un-syria-concern-assad-united-nations

It's almost as if they have an agenda, or some form of public presentation of their efforts, being seen as benign so that when organizations do attempt to stop them for their actions they can be painted as if innocent victims. And yeah, it ranks as 'propaganda' and 'combat support' in my eyes. It's blatant propaganda to make it okay for Turkey to simply annex and ethnically cleanse the region.

It's almost as if they are expropriating the name 'Syrian Civil Defence' for a reason... despite overwhelmingly being Turkish trained ... despite calling for the end of Kurdish autonomy and violent regime change, as well as choosing solely to assist Turkish backed Islamists in """Rebel""" held territory rife with foreign fighters.

So even if I were to buy the idea they're just wide-eyed, innocent, naive youth ... they're still viable militia in terms of capture and arrest because their actions are in direct opposition to those resisting Turkish annexation. How would you feel about North Korean paid "NGOs" mine clearing the demilitarized zone to assist DPRK Army to invade South Korea? Pretty fucking sure the RoK or U.S. would shut their arse down as well.

I seem to recall these great guys we used to challenge Russia directly ... they were called the Taliban? Foreign-backed and manned brigades that mass invaded and fought against the secular government of Afghanistan backed by the Soviet Union? They got given the red carpet Western media treatment, as well. A whole segment in a James Bond film. How did that turn out?

That sounds like Syria! Hold on a tick ... and Libya ... and Iran ... need I go on?

As to whether the Kurds have good reason for not co-operating with the White Helmets - it depends. Assad has good reason for not co-operating with the White Helmets; that doesn't justify his practice of bombing them. If the Kurds feel that they need to surround a town with landmines to ward off Turkish tanks, and the White Helmets feel that they need to defuse landmines and unexploded ordnance in order to make the area safe for habitation, then I can understand why their goals might be at odds. But just because their goals are at odds doesn't mean that the White Helmets are actively trying to weaken or sabotage the Kurdish militias.

It does validate shutting them down. After all, the Kurds didn't just line them up and shoot them. But that good will didn't seem to extend to treating Kurdish or Druze fighters and their families in the face of FSA and Turkish atrocities in the region. To put it bluntly, if MSF pulled the same fucking stunts as the White Helmets, we wouldn't be having this discussion.

Because the MSF wouldn't do that...

Also you're making some pretty big assumptions there. I'm judging them on what they're doing, who they get their funding from, who they're cavorting with, the reason why the Kurds shut them down, and the seeming disinterest in publicizing the plights of Druze and Kurds in the region that their allies are actively slaughtering.

If you don't have a problem with any ofthat, then why exactly do you have any faith in the White Helmets as anything more than a propaganda and combat support militia? Because everything we've seen as of the moment, they're perfectly valid targets to arrest and detain, or hostile engagement in operating in tandem with armed combatants, as per the statutes on what is a combatant under the 1949 GC AP1 guidelines.

At best they're unprivileged combatants. To put it into perspective, if I had a group of """medics""" providing assistance, intelligence, combat support, succour, or acting as if human shields between me and an invader of, say, Australia... you're damn certain I'm not going to risk the lives of my soldiers by calling off an advance when I've been given orders to take that position to support a larger engagement or battle.

That's fucking ridiculous.

It's war, not a fucking picnic. The West shouldn't be getting on a high horse about it, either. Given, you know, directly supplying unlawful combatants in the fight, as well as targetting Gaddafi and his cabinet for assassination and torture. If there is a known FSA strongpoint and White Helmets choose to get in the way of targeting that, and providing succour to an enemy force in a theatre of conflict, they're unprivileged combatants.

This is why we have things like ceasefire periods, or why MSF operate in exclusive areas and wait for arrivals regardless of their affiliation. The MSF can't simply 'pick and choose'... and while medical personnel and clergypersons of armed forces have special privileges ... they can't go out and clear mines, sabotage a group's defenses in preparation for a larger sttack, or provide intelligence to enemy combatants. Those that do are no longer hors de combat. They can be captured, interrogated, trialed under the laws of the land, and punished.

Failing that, if their continued operations puts them in direct danger ... why the fuck should it be seen as heinous? It's a casualty... in a war where they as foreigners elected to assist foreign entities in the name of active regime change, ethnic cleansing, and annexation of foreign soil.

And they get a nomination for a Nobel Peace prize? What a fucking joke... I've met Indonesian militants more deserving.

They as an entity routinely have called on 70,000 U.S. soldiers to intervene on behalf of foreign backed Islamists actively fighting in a country that overwhelmingly disapproves of their presence there. People who have committed war crimes and actively assisting the invasion of Syria.

In short; 'No' to people pretending they have any legitimacy.

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