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Pro-Assad Lobby Group Rewards Bloggers On Both The Left And The Right

September 30, 2019

By Charles Davis

A shadowy group that supports Syrian dictator Bashar-al Assad is giving thousands of dollars to far-right activists, conspiracy websites, YouTube personalities, and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange — all under the guise of an award for “uncompromised integrity in journalism.”

The Association for Investment in Popular Action Committees, an umbrella nonprofit based in the San Francisco Bay area, ostensibly exists to raise awareness of “social justice issues that are key to sustainable world peace.” In practice, that has meant bolstering public support for the Assad regime, which has rewarded the group and one of its main fronts, the Syria Solidarity Movement, with visas and access to top officials in Damascus.

The association is now rewarding its fellow travelers, a number of whom joined its treasurer at a state-sponsored conference this month, addressed personally by Bashar al-Assad, to promote “solidarity with the workers and people of Syria.” 

“The Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism honors non-mainstream journalists who continue to tell challenging truths in difficult times,” states a website the group set up. The award is named after a U.S. woman who worked for Press TV, an Iranian government television outlet, and died in a 2014 car accident while reporting from Turkey. “The funds provided by this Award enable these courageous journalists to continue their work in an environment that penalizes them for their clarity of vision and willingness to expose the powerful,” the award website states.

While obscure, and not to be confused with the “AIPAC” that supports the state of Israel, the association behind this latest journalism award made headlines for their generosity just last year, when former Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich disclosed that he’d been paid $20,000 to speak at a 2017 pro-Assad conference in the United Kingdom. Kucinich was running for governor at the time of the admission, which helped cost him the race.

“On the campaign trail Dennis has refused to condemn Assad,” former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, a Democrat, said at the time. “What we now know goes further. Dennis wasn’t just defending Assad out of conviction, he was also being paid by a group that has been a vocal cheerleader for this murderous dictator.”

Kucinich, who has questioned the Assad regime’s responsibility for chemical weapons attacks, and met with the dictator himself in 2017, at first described his financial sponsors as a “civil rights advocacy group.” But he later pivoted to an apology — acknowledging his money had come from a dictator’s partisan lobby, not a peace organization — and pledged to return the tainted cash.

A 2017 IRS filing shows a $20,000 payment for “Research/publishing” related to Syria

The Syria Solidarity Movement was established in 2013 to facilitate a North American speaking tour for Mother Agnes, as per its website. Mother Agnes is a pro-Assad nun who argued that the hundreds of victims of a 2013 Ghouta Sarin attack were planted by anti-government insurgents, not killed by the state, spoke at rallies across the U.S. as a representative of the Syrian Mussalaha (“reconciliation”) movement — a faux-peace initiative launched by the regime in Damascus and led by Ali Haidar, a minister in Assad’s government and leader of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP).

That initiative is strongly supported by the Syria Solidarity Movement, despite the fact that the SSNP is a rabidly anti-Semitic, fascist organization that advocates for a “Greater Syria,” incorporating Lebanon and Palestine. Its logo is a stylized take on the swastika, and the group has exploited its international ties to the far right to lead the Syrian regime’s “solidarity” outreach abroad.

Indeed, the SSNP’s Haidar spoke at the same 2017 conference as Kucinich, while Susan Dirgham, national coordinator of “Australians for Mussalah,” is a founding member of the Syria Solidarity Movement’s steering committee. On its website, the Syria Solidarity Movement declares it “imperative” that “the Mussalaha reconciliation initiative be recognised, nurtured and supported by all who believe in peace through dialogue.”

The Syria Solidarity Movement and its parent nonprofit do not reveal their donors, but they both have money to spend. Between 2007 and 2017, the association received at least $1.8 million in support from undisclosed donors, per financial reports filed with the IRS. Its president, Kamal Obeid, is a structural engineer and advisory board member of Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, which maintains that the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center were an “inside job.” The association also funds the International Solidarity Movement of Northern California, a pro-Palestine group.

Paul Larudee, the group’s treasurer, describes himself as a former U.S. government advisor to Saudi Arabia and is a fixture among Bay-area Palestine activists, with whom he has often clashed due to his own associations. Larudee also frequently appears on Iranian state media. In a May appearance on PressTV, marking the Iranian government’s “International Quds Day,” he spoke alongside a Holocaust denier, Kevin Barrett, who declared that “the September 11th false flag attack” was perpetrated by “extreme Zionists” as part of a long-term conspiracy aimed at world domination. Larudee, for his part, argued that U.S. foreign policy was dictated by Israel, arguing that officials “who are supposedly appointed by Trump are actually appointed by Tel Aviv, for the most part.”

It wasn’t the first time Barrett and Larudee appeared in tandem: they are regular collaborators, with Larudee  also having appeared on Barrett’s web show in 2017. The Syria Solidarity Movement has republished Barrett’s claims that chemical weapons attacks in Syria are rebel “false flags” designed to spur a Western, humanitarian intervention that never came. 

Larudee has also suggested Jewish financier George Soros may be funding the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement to subvert anti-Israel activism.

When it comes to Syria, Larudee has not just aided the regime at home. In 2014, he went to Syria to serve as an international observer for a sham election that Assad won with 88.7 percent of the vote. While in Damascus, he and other observers were hosted by the International Union of Unified Ummah, an Iranian NGO.

Serena Shim’s mother, Judith Poe, referred all questions about the award to Larudee. “I am sure he will be happy to give you all the information you desire,” she said. 

He was not. Neither Larudee nor Obeid have responded to emails, phone calls and voice messages requesting comment about the prize or its enticing dollar component. There is no way to discern how winners were selected, then, but there is a common interest: all are conspiratorial in the extreme and each has raised doubts about the “official story” of the Syrian regime’s perpetration of various atrocities.

Domain registration data shows that AIPAC and the Serena Shim Award websites are hosted on the same IP address

Among those winners is Jimmy Dore, a comedian turned political commentator who was employed by The Young Turks, a progressive video outlet, until April 2019. According to an IRS filing, however, Dore actually began receiving money from the association behind the Serena Shim Award in 2017, receiving $2,500 for what the latter described as “human rights media.” 

That same year, Dore would argue that a chemical weapons attack on the opposition-held town of Khan Sheikhun was likely a “false flag,” the bodies of dead children having been planted, perhaps, by extremists (the United Nations has confirmed that the Syrian government, the only party to the conflict known to possess the Sarin and an air force, was responsible).

Reporter Actually In S-Y-R-I-A Exposes Media Lies About Everything” was the name of another 2017 conspiracy-theory segment, that one featuring Eva Bartlett, a founding member of the Syria Solidarity Movement and the first winner of the Serena Shim prize.

The 2017 IRS filing reveals $2,500 given to Jimmy Dore’s production company

In a statement, a spokesperson for The Young Turks, founded by former MSNBC host Cenk Uygur, said the company was not aware of the payments. It appeared unperturbed by one of its former hosts taking cash from a group that lobbies for the regime whose atrocities that host denied, suggesting the company abides by the same ethical standards as the mainstream media. 

“Dore was an independent contractor,” the spokesperson said. “We “cannot obligate contractors to disclose every outside source of revenue, nor any company. I hope you’re not suggesting that we demand a full financial audit of every contractor we use because that would be patently absurd.” The spokesperson suggested looking instead “at the millions of dollars mainstream media companies get from defense contractors in advertising and other sources of revenue to start a war with Syria.”

Note: According to the Society of Professional Journalists, members of the media should “Refuse gifts, favors, [and] fees” that “may compromise integrity or impartiality”; that, according to the society’s Fred Brown, “is the starting point for many employers’ codes of ethics.”

While the association has not yet filed its IRS disclosure for 2019, another Serena Shim Award winner, Kim Iversen, revealed in a celebratory post on Instagram that her prize came with a payout of thousands of dollars. A YouTube host who has rocketed in popularity — from 5,000 subscribers in February to over 166,000 today — Iversen has put out videos on a gamut of geopolitically fraught topics, speculating that an Iranian attack on an oil tanker was a “false flag” and arguing that Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi were overthrown by the West for trying to sell oil in a currency other than the U.S. dollar. Iversen has a particular interest in longshot presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard, with one out of every 10 of her videos centered on the congressperson, a favorite of pro-Assad conspiracy theorists who herself questions the Syrian regime’s responsibility for chemical weapons attacks.

“It’s an honor to be recognized for taking a stand even when it’s unpopular,” Iversen wrote on August 2. “The $5000 cash award will help me elevate the show to the next level”:

Two dozen people or news organizations have been awarded the prize thus far. That could mean as much as $120,000 in prize money for pro-Assad media, assuming the same rate is the same across the board, with other winners including Ajamu Baraka, the U.S. Green Party’s 2016 candidate for vice president; Kevork Almassian, a Syrian activist employed by the far-right party Alternative for Germany; and Caitlin Johnstone, an Australian who describes herself as a “100 percent reader-funded journalist” and who promoted the theory that DNC staffer Seth Rich, not the Russian government, was responsible for leaking Democratic emails ahead of the last U.S. presidential election.

The award, and the money that comes with it, was also given to several websites and blogs that routinely promote pro-Assad conspiracy theories, including Information Clearing House — an anti-Semitic website that has published columns arguing mass shootings are “false flag” attacks; Moon of Alabama, which maintains that the Zika virus was framed for birth defects actually caused by pesticides; Black Agenda Report, which argues the revolution in Sudan was a regime-change operation; and SouthFront — in a video, the site says the Serena Shim Award will aid its “struggle against the neoliberal globalist dystopia” (CORRECTION: Paul Antonopoulos was previously incorrectly identified as the founder of SouthFront in this piece — he is, in fact, the managing editor of Fort Russ News. Bellingcat apologizes for this error). 

MintPress News, which in 2013 published an article attributing chemical attacks in Syria to anti-Assad rebels — the piece was attributed to a journalist who denied authoring the story — was awarded an undisclosed amount of money; three of its regular contributors, Whitney Webb, Finian Cunningham and Max Blumenthal, also received the award, as did Rania Khalek, a Russian state media personality who in 2018 was found to be surreptitiously on the Kremlin payroll. RT regular Vanessa Beeley, who served on the steering committee of the Syria Solidarity Movement, also received an award for her regime-friendly commentary. Beely’s speciality is attacking the White Helmets, a volunteer group that rescues victims of Syrian, Russian and U.S. bombing raids. 

Blumenthal, Khalek, and Baraka all attended a September 8 “trade union forum” in Syria, sponsored by the Assad regime, to stand “against the economic blockade, imperialist interventions and terrorism.” The visit came at a time when the Syrian regime is generally not issuing travel visas to U.S. citizens, according to interviews with recent visitors and a tour operator in Damascus; they were accompanied by Paul Larudee as well as Rick Sterling and Judith Bello, two other members of the Syria Solidarity Movement’s steering committee.

Members of the Syria Solidarity Movement steering committee and Serena Shim Award winners were guests at a regime-sponsored trade union conference held in Damascus from Sept. 8-9, 2019. It is, of course, illegal to strike in Syria. (From right to left in the front row: Ajamu Baraka, Judith Bello, Paul Larudee and Rick Sterling; Rania Khalek is seated in the back row, third from the left, with Max Blumenthal beside her)

Venezuela Analysis, a website founded by the husband of a Venezuelan diplomat, also dabbles in Syria-related conspiracy and received an award for its troubles. Greg Wilpert, the site’s founder, claimed he was not too familiar with the people and money behind the prize. “We were informed by the treasurer of [the] Serena Shim Award, Paul Larudee,” he said. “That’s all we know.” Wilpert elected to not disclose how sizeable a contribution his website received.

Back in 2018, when confronted with the source of his hefty speaking fee, Congressman Kucinich deemed the funds toxic and gave them back, writing that “anyone who stands for peace must be able to remain above the appearance of influence.”

Charles Davis

Charles Davis is a journalist in Los Angeles whose work has aired on public radio and been published by outlets such as Columbia Journalism Review, The Guardian and The New Republic. Follow him on Twitter: @charliearchy

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  1. Fascist leftists

    Excellent article finally looking into leftists who spew Russian pro Assad propaganda. Chris Hedges, who I once respected, has had Rania, Max Blumenthal and Jimmy Dore on his RT show, On Contact. Chris wants to take down the evil empire of the USA (he says this openly) so I suppose he is a willing pawn of Russian /pro-Assad propaganda. Surprised not to see Aaron Mate or the Popular Resistance website.

    • hcr

      Most of those who constitute this group can be ignored- not because they spew conspiracy theories (which the author seems to attribute to anyone having dissident, anti-establishment views on Syria), but because they have no expertise on the M.E. whatsoever. Judith Bello and Paul Larudee, who makes his living as a piano tuner (he said so) got paid by partisan pro-govt factions to “monitor 2014 Syrian elections. These people think that being peaceniks entitle them to take tainted money for a “good cause.” But condemn the MSM when they do so. Rick Sterling? Total waste of time. In this, they are like Bellingcat himself, who gets paid by shady NATO EU sources and who has no expertise on the Syrian topic- just spouts what his handlers tell him to push. In fact, this article is little more than the MSM’s phony anti-Assad stooge calling out the just as phony pro-Assad fakes. Ugh to you all.

      • Servus

        Thank you, so here is anther result of the workshop on ´how to damage Bellingcat reputation’.

        The label ´Soros supported CIA- AlKaida ISIS’ didn’t seem to stick.

        So now we have « shady NATO-EU. « or « Atlantic Council » financed operation.

        Anything to avoid being called to the white board and answer with facts and logic!

      • Jay Wiliams

        Absolutely correct. This site has no basis in fact or credibility as opinion is only USA/NATO/EU. We Americans and Europeans need counter point of view with truth that is not found here. Assad fights Islam terrorism, and these people simply help support alternate point of view that Syria has territorial integrity, and rights of people to live in peace with foreign intervention. Who is who to say “pro-Assad lobby” cannot do right for people of Syria?

        • Servus

          Kolia, better work on your English if you want to pretend to be « we Americans and Europeans ».

          You missed also the point in the article, what you seem to think is a legitimate « pro Assad lobby » in reality does not present themselves this way so it’s a covert operation, most likely illegal in US.

          Make a thought experiment, let’s say that Syrian embassy organizes a public press events and publicly distributes checks or envelops with cash to some journalists, bloggers and American politicians .
          Representative Dennis Kucinich gets a thick one. 20,000 USD. Press is there, cameras, flashes and microphones…

          Do you think that any of these people would have shown up in front of cameras, receiving $$$ from Assad?
          Highly unlikely, so what Bellingecar brought into daylight was a true conspiration to hide a foreign government lobby operation.
          This an excellent example of a fact based journalism.

          Don’t get discouraged Lonia, keep it coming, your parody of Borat was a great fun.

          • bellingcrap

            Another thought experiment:
            Let’s say Israel organizes public press events and publicly distributes funds to some journalists and politicians and calls it AIPAC.
            Will bellingcat help expose this foreign government lobby operation too?

          • Servus

            Dear Crap,
            Difficult to understand the purpose of your thought experiment, public events are covered by media and there is little need for investigative journalism there.
            AIPAC has been written about and criticized, even by its former chairman, look up a recent NYT article and even Wikipedia.
            According to US law, AIPAC is not regarded as ´lobby ´ organisation , it does not collect or distribute money, nor receives foreign contribution, its founded by members and us based donation , its a bipartisan US organisation with explicit mission to strengthen US-Israel relationship. It’s modus operandi is to connect American political donors with politician, during public mega events .

            If you have evidence that AIPAC is a foreign government lobby operation ( in the sense of US law) don’t hesitate, FBI will be certainly interested.

  2. Rob

    “Pro-Assad Lobby Group Rewards Bloggers On Both The Left And The Right”

    I noticed this in various other occasions.
    For example, the Crimea referendum was “monitored” by representatives of the far-left and the far-right political parties in Europe :

    Similarly, Jimmy Dore’s conspiracy theories (especially about Syria and about Democrats) have much in common with the conspiracy theories vented by Alex Jones.

    There appears to be a movement of far-left and far-right combining forces in a manifestation of the “horseshoe” theory :

    And this movement is not small.

    This “alternative facts” are mostly fueled from Russian and Iranian state media, but also is a vocal group of conspiracy theorists and anti-US, pro-Russian ideologues.

    As an example, here is an analysis of the effort to dis-credit the White Helmets, a first-responders group in Syria :

    The “alternative facts” effort involved here (which presents the White Helmets as terrorists) is about 4 times as large all mainstream media combined.

    Thank you Bellingcat, for your continued effort to fact-check such propaganda, and present the truth as it is.

    • Black Star

      I do not believe in the horseshoe theory, but I do believe, based on observation, that these people support several similar ideas, and are especially joined by their anti-west attitudes.

      Far left hates basically anything West because everything we are is actively resisting the Soviet socialist dream paradise (that in reality never was). They even hate Donald Duck because he comes from evil America.

      Far right similarly hates everything West but for a different reason: they hate absolutely everyone and everything, including the Russian communist dream paradise. The only thing they love is their own ideas, which include violence as a method of doing politics, which means nothing good for us others.

      They are basically totalitarians, and people who support that idea will for ever hate the western idea of individual freedom.

      If either of those groups win, they will immediately destroy the other, then us.

      • James Charles

        ” . . . we are is actively resisting the Soviet socialist dream paradise . . . ”
        This ‘we’?
        “Taken together, these four volumes constitute an extraordinary commentary on a basic weakness in the Soviet system.
        The Soviets are heavily dependent on Western technology and innovation not only in their civilian industries, but also in their military programs.
        An inevitable conclusion from the evidence in this book is that we have totally ignored a policy that would enable us to neutralize Soviet global ambitions while simultaneously reducing the defense budget and the tax load on American citizens.”
        “ His book tells at least part of the story of the Soviet Union’s reliance on Western technology, including the infamous Kama River truck plant, which was built by the Pullman-Swindell company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a subsidiary of M. W. Kellogg Co. Prof. Pipes remarks that the bulk of the Soviet merchant marine, the largest in the world, was built in foreign shipyards. He even tells the story (related in greater detail in this book) of the Bryant Chucking Grinder Company of Springfield, Vermont, which sold the Soviet Union the ball-bearing machines that alone made possible the targeting mechanism of Soviet MIRV’ed ballistic missiles. “

        • Gerhard

          That’s great background information, thank you for this. I will look further into these technology transfers. Very interesting.

  3. Qbrick

    I believe that this article is a smear aimed against the media that challenge western propaganda on Syria. I think that the examples for the reporting of Mintpress, Moon of Alabama and others are cherrypicked with the intention to make these media look bad and frame them with conspiracy theories. It’s true that these media once in a while promote false and/or conspiracy theories, but they are not the only ones who do this.

    There actually are quite a lot of media outlets, that promote the theory, that the islamist insurgence, that was armed by the Assad-must-go-axis basically from the beginning, was actually a civil uprising, that was only taken over by the islamists somewhere around 2014. Although this theory has been falsified by various sources, it’s being promoted until this day and even stated as fact on Wikipedia!

    Then there is another interesting topic regarding Syria: There is a network of hybrid organizations operating in Syria under the umbrella of “The Syria Campaign”. These organizations are heavily funded by members of the Assad-must-go-axis and seem to serve three purpuses:
    – First responding and medical assistance for civilians
    – Medical assistance for islamist proxy fighters
    – Propaganda for the Assad-must-go-axis
    Examples for these organizations: The White Helmets, Syrian American Medical Society, UOSSM, Hand in Hand for Syria.

    Since Bellingcat is aimed at disproving lies and propaganda, I’m sure these topics are very interesting for Bellingcat and I really wonder why no one has picked up on this so far.

    • Jay Wiliams

      I completely agree. These groups are simply propaganda outlets for USA and Western meddlers against Assad with disguise as medical and aid organisations. As a conservative American I myself am disgusted with constant wars and hypocricy of USA policy. If policy is to fight Islam extremism why do USA support Kurds (enemy of Turkey, NATO ally) and ISIS fighters against Assad regime?

    • Servus

      ” I really wonder why no one has picked up on this so far.” — really, how about Russia Today, Sputnik and other Russian state owned propaganda outlets.

    • Black Star

      “the islamist insurgence, that was armed by the Assad-must-go-axis basically from the beginning, was actually a civil uprising, that was only taken over by the islamists somewhere around 2014″‘

      A clumsy double lie you have there. In the real world, the civil uprising started when Assad’s militia shot and killed peaceful protesters. That uprising was never “taken over by islamists” as you claim.

      Since you are obviously in this thing to achieve some lower purpose, I have an idea for you: start to back up your claims with real evidence. Simply telling your opinions is not very believable: anyone who does not accept your opinions will simply brush them aside. If you could show actual proof, even-minded people might actually agree with you.

      But: trying to find proof for your claims will very soon affect your *own* opinions and move them closer to the real world. Perhaps you do not want that, since in the dream world, all your narcissistic wishes are always absolutely true.

      Which brings me to third point: no one cares what ever distorted dreams you like to support in your own mind. You see: all of us other have our *own* minds.

      • Qbrick

        You know very little about the Syrian war, which would be fine if you were simply asking me for proof to back up my claims. Instead you chose to call me a liar and all sorts of other things. Most embarrassing for you is that you never even remotely did the very research that you recommend to me and that you call even the most basic knowledge about the conflict a “clumsy lie”:
        “A clumsy […] lie you have there. […] That uprising was never “taken over by islamists” as you claim.””
        Well, as publicly known, at some point of the Syrian conflict, the factions driving the insurgence were the Islamic State and the Nusra Front, followed by other Islamist militias like Ahrar al-Sham and Jaysh al-Islam. Wikipedia calls this the “Rise of the Islamist groups” and dates it to have taken place between January and September 2014:–September_2014)

        Taking a closer look at the other “clumsy lie”, i.e. the Islamist insurgence that was armed by the Assad-must-go-axis basically from the beginning, takes a few more sources:
        Already before 2005 there must have been a public discussion about regime change in Syria because a CNN reporter actually asked Assad whether he was afraid of such a regime change:

        A year later William Roebuck, then Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Damascus, wrote a cable in which he analyzes the vulnerabilities of the Syrian regime and recommends “quickly to take advantage of […] opportunities” for a regime change, should they arise:

        The former foreign minister of Qatar says that when the events in Syria started, the armies of Qatar, the US and other started to arm the rebellion via Turkey and he roundabout admits, that Qatar supported the Nusra Front:

        This is a report from the Departement of Homeland Security, the State Department and the FBI from August 2012:

        Among other things, it says that the Salafists, the Muslim Brotherhood and AQI are the major forces of the insurgence. It also says, that things are taking a clear sectarian direction and that AQI was there from the beginning. Keep in mind: August 2012, not 2014.

        Snipers shoot at unarmed police in Homs July 2011:

        Award winning short movie, how the revolution came to Aleppo, a mojority Sunni city in August 2012. Spoiler alert: Not via popular uprising:

        “Al-Qaeda was there from the very first week, and if not the first week then from late 2011 when al-Qaeda banners appeared. It was these groups that provided the opposition with support from across the border. In Raqqa the fighters came from the north and it was clear that it was al-Qaeda.”

        There have indeed been shots at unarmed protesters during the early days of the protests, but to my knowledge, its unclear who fired them. I’m open for evidence on this one.

      • Servus

        I’m reading now a book written by team of peace researchers from French science academy, the CNRS:
        « Syrie. Anatomie d’une guerre civile » with Dorronsoro, Gilles and Adam Baczko , CNRS Editions, Paris, 2016 »
        Based on interviews with Syrian refugees , they try to reconstruct what happened.
        The Syrian civil war started by a bloody pacification of a peaceful anticorruption demonstrations and social movement, in early 2000s.
        Mr Assad, looking at the Russian an Chinese kleptocracy success, decided to stop the socialist ideology nonsense and started to steal and give away state property to family and friends which crated a massive corruption….

        There is really more to it, the book is highly recommended.

        • M

          And how about Good Americans abandoning their recent Kurd allies, what do you have to say about it?

          • M. Vuorinen

            Israel is the only country (with US sionists and US military-industrial complex) that really benefits the genosidial wars in the Middle East. Que Bono? gives the answer about the master minds behind destructive wars in Irak and Syria. Why is ISIS not attacking Israel? Why is Mossad’s english name Israel Secret Intellligence Service? Not a co-incident. White helmets also worked for Israel lying about gas attacs.

          • Gerhard

            Trump doing Putin’s bidding, period. Part of larger Russian intelligence operation to undermine credibility of US foreign policy. Virtually no significant US political support from knowledgeable parties on the left or right (see first real Republican opposition to Trump’s foreign policy).

      • James Charles

        From the ‘horses mouth’?
        “You can’t understand the conflict without talking about natural gas
        By Maj. Rob Taylor
        Much of the media coverage suggests that the conflict in Syria is a civil war, in which the Alawite (Shia) Bashar al Assad regime is defending itself (and committing atrocities) against Sunni rebel factions (who are also committing atrocities). The real explanation is simpler: it is about money.
        In 2009, Qatar proposed to run a natural gas pipeline through Syria and Turkey to Europe. Instead, Assad forged a pact with Iraq and Iran to run a pipeline eastward, allowing those Shia-dominated countries access to the European natural gas market while denying access to Sunni Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The latter states, it appears, are now attempting to remove Assad so they can control Syria and run their own pipeline through Turkey.”

  4. Alex

    These organizations are heavily funded by members of the Assad-must-go-axis and seem to serve three purpuses:
    – First responding and medical assistance for civilians

    Those medical-assisting, civilian-first-aid-giving MONSTERS.

    • Rob Heusdens

      On the (general issue) on wether or not to support Assad, this issue is always raised as black and white, as if there is nothing in between. But that is non-sense. One of the political groups who were demonstrating against Assad (or against some of his policies) were the communist party, which had struggled against the Assad govt. for 4 decades, and struggled for a division between the constitution and the al Ba’ath party and for a multi party system. The reasons for the demonstrations in 2011 were the neo-liberal policies, affecting many Syrians, and years of drought that raised food prizes, in combination with the fact that Syria housed 1 million Iraqi refugees at that time.

      But other then the radical islamist opposition groups who took up arms against the government, the Syrian communist party defended the sovereign position of Syria, and were aware that these (western backed) islamist groups would not bring any progressive change to Syria, but backwards (sharia law, etc.), and joined the armed fight with Assad against extremist islamist groups.

      Western media never focusses in on this issue (there is never a real story on Syria focussing in on that kind of nuances- only a pro-war/anti-Assad narative ), and like Bellingcat divide the world into either pro-Assad or against-Assad, with nothing in between, and judge that anyone against Assad is “good” no matter what policies they want to realize in Syria. Even the most extermist islamist are “good¨ as long as they intent to topple Assad….

      Seriously, that point of view is totally blind of the reality in Syria, and is not part of a progressive agenda for Syria, but – if it would have been succesfull – would have brought Syria in the same disasterous situation as what happened to Libya – a total chaos without good functioning central government, and mass insecurity of civilians.

      Belligcat is just a servant of a western imperialist agenda which would want to destroy Syria and bring it backwards with islamists in power of the same ranks as Saudi barbaria has, as long as the natural gas pipeline from Qatar could flow through Syria – which the US prefers over european dependence of Russian gas, because Qatar sells the gas in dollars, and Russia does not.

      Bellingcat was raised just days before the MH17 tragedy and is most active on pushing there also an anti-russian narative – serving the same agenda!

      How coincidental!

      Or perhaps not???

  5. Duke Nukem

    The fact that these people are shilling for Assad and Russia was obvious. Jimmy Dore and co are charlatans who should be treated with contempt. The fact that someone needs to do an investigation to prove it shows how poisoned our media is now.

  6. Francis

    Finian Cunningham, who also writes for RT, has written anonymous articles about Russia and, on occasion, even about himself in Irish political magazine The Phoenix. The articles criticising Irish media coverage of Russia stories were promoted on Twitter by one of his fellow Irish RT writers (Ryan). Much integrity.

  7. Riccotelaly

    Bellingcat represents the goose step class. If one’s country is a mass genocide imperialist state one can either call it out or one can goose step and take the position the night is right – my country right or wrong. Assad was the US’ favorite renderer until the US decided working directly with ISIS was its new interest and of course bellingcat nust now support ISIS as that is what the empire does.

  8. Rob Heusdens

    If some bloggers / journalist receive some small money from “pro-Assad” funds is really an issue, why not addresss the bigger issues? Who funded Al Nusra, ISIS, White Helmets and Bellingcat?
    At least the journalism of Eva Karena Bartlett, Vanessa Beeley and others showed some real facts about the situation (interviewing normal Syrian people and enterig areas after they were liberated by the Syrian Arab Army) in Syria the mass-media does not offer – they just produce the usual war propaganda, not based on facts. White Helmets videos showing them ΅rescuing people” – while the scene was a complete fakery (putting people under the rubble before shooting) – is a disingeneous form of journalism, it is a form of propaganda not unlike Goebbels…
    That is the kind of shit we have to deal with, currently…


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