Tuesday, March 13, 2012

497 Smuggling weapons into Syria. Libya faces disintegration

Smuggling weapons into Syria. Libya faces disintegration

(1) Smuggling weapons into Syria: on the job with Iraq's gun runners
(2) France, US arming Syrian rebels with anti-aircraft missiles – report
(3) France pulls out her agents ensconced in Syria
(4) The journalist-combatants of Baba Amr - Thierry Meyssan
(5) Baba Amr rebels leave Metis anti-tank missiles behind
(6) Mossad, CIA and Blackwater operate in Syria - report
(7) Syria: Clinton admits US on same side as Al Qaeda to destabilise
Assad Government
(8) Egyptian junta lifts travel ban on NGO operatives
(9) Libya faces disintegration as tribal leaders in Benghazi declare
semi-autonomous region
(10) Arab Spring is Arab Socialism's Fall - Wayne Madsen

(1) Smuggling weapons into Syria: on the job with Iraq's gun runners
http://www.niqash.org/articles/?id=3008

niqash | Special Correspondent

Niqash: briefings from inside and across Iraq

Mosul | 08.03.2012

A few short years ago, the Rabia border crossing between Syria and Iraq,
was being used to smuggle weapons from Syria into Iraq where they ended
up in the hands of Iraqis fighting each other and US troops. Now that
situation has been reversed, with guns being smuggled back into Syria,
ostensibly to arm Syrian revolutionaries embroiled in an increasingly
violent and bloody conflict against the regime led by Syrian president
Bashar al-Assad. NIQASH travelled to Rabia to join a group of young gun
runner, to see how the smugglers operate, why the border patrols don't
stop them and what the smugglers' motivations are.

After travelling around a hundred kilometres in a taxi, we finally reach
Rabia, the only international border crossing between Syria and Iraq,
here in the state of Ninawa. During the two and a half hour journey we
were stopped at 20 military checkpoints. And at those checkpoints,
security personnel always asked to see my identification. After doing
so, they would let me past – but not without a sceptical smile.

Before actually driving into the town of Rabia, where it's well known
that the main business is smuggling, the driver, Mohammed, takes a side
street to show us the border – we see part of the dirt barrier, two
meters high, that separates Syria from Iraq, which runs for 750
kilometres. A no man's land, marked by barbed wire and one kilometre
wide, separates the barrier from the street on which we are driving.

Eventually we drive into one of the tiny villages near the border – it
is about 130 kilometres west of Mosul and most of the families that live
there have relations and friends just over the border in Syria.

“Barbed wire has not managed to separate these people and it hasn't put
an end to the mutual interests that these bordering villagers have,”
Mohammed, who lives nearby, tells me. “A lot of people in this village
work as smugglers and they collaborate with their relatives across the
border, who are Syrian citizens. They don't really care at all about the
border police.”

Mohammed, who knows the smuggling scene here, then assists me in
observing the industrious traders. We wait until sunset, at which stage
literally hundreds of men start to cross the border using holes they've
made in the barbed wire as well in the dirt barrier. And it seems as
though there are hundreds of people waiting for them on the other side
of the border too.

Mohammed indicates to me what the various smugglers are carrying. Some
are carrying cigarette boxes, others are bringing cartons of alcohol
that they get from the Syrian side. Livestock also comes across the
border. And, he adds, all of those things are cheap in Syria compared to
Mosul, where a lot of these black market goods end up being sold.

Then, Mohammed pointed at another group coming toward the border. They
are a group of relatively young men, carrying what appear to be grain
bags. “Those bags will eventually reach the “hot” areas in Syria,”
Mohammed explained – and by hot, he meant where there was violence.

Indeed, it turned out that this was a group of gun smugglers. They were
being led by Hamid, a man in his 30s, who proudly told us: “I was the
first person to smuggle weapons into Syria, when the revolution there
began”.

Smuggling has become a major industry in small border villages such as
the ones where Hamid and his colleagues in crime live. And it seems that
the Iraqi authorities know this. Recently smuggling weapons into Syria
has become particularly profitable. As Abdul-Rahim al-Shammari, head of
the provincial council's security committee, says: “the smuggling of
arms is increasingly profitable and it's a growing business. Over the
last few months the prices for guns have doubled, and then re-doubled.”

And there are simply not enough resources to control the borders and
prevent smuggling. “The brigade in charge doesn't have enough soldiers,
or equipment,” a frustrated al-Shammari told NIQASH.

The border breaches are also cause for concern because one of the more
serious problems, al-Shammari says, is terrorism. “According to Iraqi
intelligence, members of al-Qaeda [Sunni extremists operating in Iraq]
are crossing the borders near Rabia, to go to Syria to fight the
Jihadist battle.”

Asking around though, the local people living near the borders couldn't
confirm this. They said they had only ever met and helped Syrian
soldiers who had deserted and fled over the border to Iraq.

Today, when the young men of the local villages sit and drink tea
together, they entertain each other with tales of derring-do in the
smuggling trade. I was told about one young man who made it all the way
to the dirt barrier in a pickup truck, carrying a ton of Kalashnikov guns.

We end up drinking tea in the garden of the modest house belonging to
Hamid, the leader of the small group of gun smugglers we encountered. He
tells me that he first smuggled guns into Syria in April last year. Then
there were only 20 guns. But since then things have changed.

“Since then,” Hamid says, “a huge amount of weapons has gone across the
border. That first time we smuggled the guns and we didn't tell anyone
what we were doing. But when the revolution got bigger and changed [it
has become more violent], almost everyone in our village – and the
villages nearby – have become involved.”

I ask Hamid if I can accompany him on a smuggling trip and he agrees, as
long as I don't tell anybody who I am.

Two days later, at sun rise, we begin our journey. We drive a dusty
Toyota pickup through arid agricultural land for ten minutes until we
sight a blue saloon car. The driver of this car motions to us, to park
beside him. Some tools are taken out of the vehicle and the two men
begin to act as if they are fixing the blue car, stretching out on the
ground and fiddling with various pieces of equipment.

While they are doing this they ask me, to my chagrin, to keep watch.
This was hardly dangerous; it was easy to do as all the land around us
was completely flat. However I definitely felt conflicted, as all of a
sudden, I had become complicit in the weapons smuggling business.

By now, the men are removing weapons, wrapped in plastic, from the blue
vehicle. By the time they are done, Hamid had hidden 40 Kalashnikovs and
50 containers of ammunition in his own vehicle. He asks me to help cover
the guns with a tarpaulin and together we fasten ropes around them.

We then began to drive back to the village. “So where do all these guns
come from?,” I ask Hamid. “And how do they get them through all those
military checkpoints?” Because often, security personnel at the
checkpoints will not just check IDs, they'll also search the vehicles.

“They come from Baghdad and from Erbil,” Hamid replied. But he said he
didn't really know much more than that. The driver of the other car was
Kurdish – when I tried to ask him the same question, he didn't answer.

Back in the village the rest of the day was relatively peaceful. However
at sunset, things started getting busy again, as the smugglers headed
toward the border crossing points by the dirt barrier and barbed wire.

Mobile phones are used to fix times for crossing the barrier and Hamid
and I, along with six other men carrying burlap bags filled with guns
and ammunition, head for the same area.

When we can't drive any further, we park next to the border zone. It's a
chaotic scene as large groups of people, carrying cartons of cigarettes
and bigger bags, rush around. There are also gunmen who fire their
weapons into the air. “That's to warn the border guards not to
interfere,” another smuggler told me.

After less than half an hour, we see the first of the smugglers
returning from the border. He is herding cattle! As he came closer,
Hamid was exuberant: “Tonight we're winning,” he exclaims.

Then together with the group of young men, we run across the dirt
barrier in the dark. The bags are handed over to Syrians on the other
side and they leave as quickly as we came. Not far from us, another
delivery is being made. I believe there were many others but because it
was so dark, I couldn't really see what was going on.

Later, I asked Hamid what he had meant when he had spoken about
“winning”. “Tonight we felt really safe,” he said. “Because there were
so many of us, and because people were firing warning shots, the border
guards didn't dare interfere. A few days ago the soldiers tried to stop
us and one of them was shot and injured. After that, they've been
avoiding us.”

Interestingly, like many weapons dealers around the world, Hamid and his
fellow smugglers were not particularly well informed about what was
going on in Syria. While discussing this with them, it was hard to tell
where their sympathies lay – or if they even had any sympathies for
either the Syrian revolutionaries or the current Syrian regime.

However when it came to weapons and money, they could tell me anything I
wanted to know.

“When the conflict in Syria changed, the prices increased,” one of the
other smugglers, Saeed, told me. “A year ago we were selling a machine
gun for US$450. Today they pay us US$800. We also smuggle medium sized
weapons from here. The price of an RPG-7 [rocket propelled grenade
launcher] is US$1,100. We also sell hand grenades, sniper guns,
silencers and ammunition and prices vary.”

Saeed estimates that during the past year, his group of smugglers has
traded around 1,500 Kalashnikovs, 1,000 boxes of ammunition and hundreds
of other weapons.

So how do they know that the guns are reaching the Syrian rebels, and
not ending up elsewhere? To answer my question, Hamid called Fawaz, a
Syrian smuggler, on his mobile phone, to ask him what he actually did
what the guns they traded. When he was asked that though, Fawaz
pretended he couldn't hear the question. But Hamid understood what Fawaz
was saying. “He's afraid to speak because the Syrian telephone are under
surveillance by the Syrian government.”

Hamid called back again, this time using the Iraqi telephone network.
And this time Fawaz answered the question: “Every piece, every gun, goes
to the Syrian rebels,” he stated.

(2) France, US arming Syrian rebels with anti-aircraft missiles – report

News | 29.02.2012 | 22:14

http://rt.com/news/syria-arms-us-france-531/
http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2012/02/29/france-us-arming-syrian-rebels-with-anti-aircraft-missiles.html

A general in the opposition militia known as the Free Syria Army has
told journalists that the rebels have received French and American
military assistance, amid reports of worsening violence in the stricken
nation.

In Homs on Tuesday, a general claiming to be from the rebel group
appeared on camera and told a journalist from Reuters news agency that
“French and American assistance has reached us and is with us.” When
asked to elaborate on the nature of the assistance he added, "We now
have weapons and anti-aircraft missiles and, God willing, with all of
that we will defeat Bashar [President Assad]."

The international community maintains it is committed to finding a
political solution to the conflict and had rejected the idea of military
intervention. However, there are growing suspicions that it has been
supplying the opposition with weapons indirectly.

This is not the first report of the US covertly supplying the opposition
with arms. In December, FBI translator turned whistleblower Sibel
Edmonds said she believed the US had been training the Syrian opposition
in neighboring Turkey and supplying arms to the country from Incirlik
military base close to the Turkish-Syrian border.

In addition, Qatar and Saudi Arabia reportedly held secret meetings to
offer financial support to the Syrian rebels to buy weapons.

Political foot-dragging

Thus far the international community has been unable to reach agreement
on a resolution to the Syrian conflict. At an emergency meeting called
by the UN in Brussels on Tuesday, the Syrian ambassador accused the UN
Security Council of purposely stalling and fueling the flames of
terrorism in the country.

The UN has shown consistent support for the opposition movement, with
both the Security Council and General Assembly repeatedly calling for
the ouster of President Assad.

RT

(3) France pulls out her agents ensconced in Syria

http://www.voltairenet.org/France-pulls-out-her-agents

VOLTAIRE NETWORK | 1 MARCH 2012

The Ambassador of France in Beirut, Denis Pietton, officially visited
last week the region of Baalbeck in eastern Lebanon. In fact, he
traveled with a French security team to northern Bekaa, a region
bordering the Syrian province of Homs.

On the Syrian side of the border, officers and experts from the French
military intelligence services, some posing as journalists, were
training Free "Syrian" Army fighters. They had all entered Syria
surreptitiously.

At an illegal crossing point, Ambassador Denis Pietton and his
companions retrieved the French intelligence officers leaving the
Islamic Emirate of Baba Amr where they had been teaching their
techniques in urban combat.

Under the Vienna Convention, diplomatic cars can not be searched. The
convoy was therefore able to drop off the French agents at the embassy's
doorstep under the nose of the Lebanese police.

With all the arrogance of the former mandatory power, the French
ambassador, once again, interfered publicly in Lebanese affairs by
declaring on 23 February to our colleagues from the Daily Star: "Lebanon
should keep out of the turmoil in Syria."

(4) The journalist-combatants of Baba Amr - Thierry Meyssan

http://www.voltairenet.org/The-journalist-combatants-of-Baba

THE INDEPENDENT ISLAMIC EMIRATE OF BABA AMR (PART 1)

The journalist-combatants of Baba Amr

by Thierry Meyssan

Is the crackdown on Baba Amr the biggest political masquerade since
9/11? This is what Thierry Meyssan sets out to prove in a exclusive
serialized account published by Voltaire Network. In this first
installment, he focuses on the alleged escape of Western journalists and
demonstrates that some of them were embedded with the Free "Syrian" Army.

VOLTAIRE NETWORK

4 MARCH 2012

Satellite view of the independent Islamic Emirate of Baba Amr. The
Atlanticist media interpret the smoke billowing from the neighborhood as
proof of bombings. ember States of NATO and the GCC were unable to
launch a conventional attack against Syria. However, for ten months they
have been laying the groundwork by waging a low intensity war coupled
with an economic and media assault. The city of Homs became the symbol
of the conflict. The Free "Syrian" Army seized the neighborhoods of Baba
Amr and Inchaat and proclaimed an Islamic Emirate that heralds its
political program.

With the backing of Russia - still traumatized by her experience with
the Islamic Emirate of Ichkeria - and China - eager to see the Syrian
government protect its citizens -, the Syrian National Army stormed the
stronghold on 9 February after all mediation attempts had failed.
Defeated, the Free "Syrian" Army soon entrenched itself in an area of
approximately 40 hectares, which was immediately sealed off by loyalist
forces; it steadily withered and eventually fell on 1 March. In
retaliation, the remaining armed elements of the Emirate massacred the
Christians in the two villages they ripped through on their way to exile
in Lebanon.

Throughout this period, major media have served to veil the sordid and
cruel reality of this Emirate, and to replace it with a made-up story of
revolution and repression. A special effort was made to create the
impression that thousands of civilians were being shelled by the Syrian
military artillery or the air force. At the heart of this propaganda
construct, we find a press center used by the satellite channels of the
Coalition: Al-Jazeera (Qatar), Al-Arabiya (Saudi Arabia), France24
(France), BBC (UK) and CNN (USA) under the coordination of Israeli
journalists.

Between the antagonistic versions of the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization and the Gulf Cooperation Council on the one side, and the
Shanghai Cooperation Organization on the other, public opinion in the
West and in the Gulf may well wonder which to believe. We will try to
provide key elements, enabling people to decipher and determine the
truth on their own. We will base ourselves on the videos broadcast by
Western and Gulf TV channels, the testimonies of survivors recorded by
the Voltaire Network office in Syria, and the documents which were found
in the Emirate's press center.

The two faces of Western reporters

The Western journalists trapped inside the Emirate posted distress call
videos on the Internet. Two of them seem to be wounded, while the third
one appears to be in good health. Their respective governments made of
their retrieval a matter of principle. France dispatched an official to
negotiate with the rebels. Several other states, including Russia, keen
to cool tensions in the Levant, offered their good offices.

I took part in this collective effort. In actual fact, a French
journalist declined the first opportunity to get out with the help of
the International Red Cross and the Syrian Red Crescent. Suspecting a
trap, she refused to accept the extended hand. My mission was two-fold.
In the first place, to establish contact with my compatriots, brief them
about the political and military context, and facilitate their hand over
to a French official to be placed under diplomatic protection. Secondly,
I had to report to those who are working for peace in this region
regarding the exact sequence of events and assess the good will of the
actors.

As we know, the negotiations failed. The intelligence service agents,
representing the various states involved, were in a position to observe
that the Syrian authorities and aid agencies had done their utmost and
that the hindrance was solely attributable to the Free "Syrian" Army.

What a surprise then - genuine or feigned - for the various mediators
when they suddenly learned that the three journalists whom they had
tried to extract from Homs, plus a fourth who had turned down our help,
were able to break through Free "Syrian" Army lines plus those of the
Syrian national Army and make their way to Lebanon.

After a moment of confusion and verifying that Russia's parallel efforts
were no more advanced than ours, it became obvious that a commando armed
by a major Western nation had spirited out the four journalists, and
possibly more, while we had put our lives at risk unnecessarily. In such
circumstances, there is no reason for me to keep silent on the underside
of this affair. I will only omit from this article any reference to the
officials and personalities involved, in order to preserve their ability
to continue to act for peace, although mentioning certain details would
have been of educational value for our readers.

There is no doubt in my mind that the survivors of Baba Amr will shape
their version of events to strengthen the Atlanticist propaganda. They
will continue to lie as they have lied all along. That is why, I am
eager to put on record what I have seen in an effort to forestall the
fabric of disinformation that is relentlessly being woven.

According to the current media rhetoric, a revolution was brutally
quelled. One would think that Western journalists supposedly driven by
their desire to inform, would normally have come on the spot to bear
witness and report. The insurgents entrenched themselves progressively
deeper into the Baba Amr district, where they survived for three weeks
under a deluge of fire. Their press center was bombarded with GRAD
missiles, coined "Stalin's organs" by the Germans, on Wednesday, 22
February 2012. During this assault, Marie Colvin (Sunday Times) and Remi
Ochlik (IP3 Press) were killed, while Edith Bouvier (Le Figaro Magazine)
and Paul Conroy (Sunday Times) were wounded. William Daniels (ex-Figaro
Magazine and Time Magazine) reportedly remained with them, while Javier
Espinosa (El Mundo) allegedly split from the group.

The survivors posted four videos online that tell a strange story.

The deaths of Marie Colvin and Rémi Ochlik

The images of two dead journalists were seen on a video provided by the
Free "Syrian" Army. Their bodies were found after the fall of the
Emirate and were identified by the ambassadors of France and Poland
(representing his United States counterpart).

  Mary Colvin was known for her chic outfits and the contrast, that she
used to juggle with, between the softness of her feminine attire and the
hardness of the bandage covering her lost eye. The video, which only
shows the back of the two bodies lying on the ground, is authentic and
was validated by many of the media that have aired it. The two
journalists are clad in battle dress. The question thus arises as to why
this detail, which contravenes the non-combatant status of journalists
in a battlefield, has been ignored by the public, and did not give rise
to any outrage on the part of the profession.

Injured Edith Bouvier and Paul Conroy at the clinic

On the second video, the Syrian Red Crescent representative working
inside the Emirate, Dr. Ali - a neighborhood dentist who courageously
looked after the wounded - introduces Edith Bouvier and Paul Conroy who
are lying on a bed in what appears be a kind of health center. Then, a
Free "Syrian" Army soldier, calling himself "Doctor Mohammed" and
donning a blue coat and a stethoscope, makes a revolutionary pronouncement.

  Three things must be noted: Edith Bouvier refuses to identify herself,
although her name is revealed to the audience, and tries to conceal her
face. Paul Conroy rolls his eyes both anxiously and disapprovingly.
"Doctor Mohammed" is a star of Syrian opposition videos. He acts as a
revolutionary doctor, while he is not a doctor. He expresses himself in
a broken language, devoid of medical terms, but sprinkled with
references Salafists.

Everything suggests that "Doctor Mohammed" took advantage of the
situation to involve the real doctor and the two journalists in the
staging of a grossly over dramatized situation.

New message by Paul Conroy from his room

In a third video, British photographer Paul Conroy is stretched out on a
couch, after receiving care. He asks for help and takes pains to clarify
that he is there as a guest and not as a prisoner.

He looks just as uneasy as in the first video and drops several hints to
the audience. He calls on "global agencies" to intervene because "they
are working towards the same objectives on the ground". Who are these
"global agencies" that supposedly have the power to pull him out of the
Emirate? It can only be public agencies, be they intergovernmental like
the UN, or national, such as intelligence agencies. What does "working
towards the same objectives on the ground" mean? He cannot be referring
to a UN activity, since they are not involved with journalism. The only
possible interpretation is that he is sending a message to Allied
intelligence agencies, hinting that he belongs to one of their British
counterparts.

Unlike Mary Colvin, her photographer for her Sunday Times reporting
assignments, Paul Conroy is not wearing a uniform on the battlefield,
but he does not need one to be recognized.

"Doctor Mohammed" intervenes to give us his diagnosis. Paul Conroy was
allegedly wounded in the leg the day before by a GRAD missile. He shows
us an immaculate leg bandage. Despite the extreme seriousness and
freshness of the wound, his leg is not swollen. "Doctor Mohammed" did
not steal his title: With no medical training, he manages to perform
medical miracles.

At the end of his speech, Paul Conroy butts in with a reassuring message
for "his family and friends in England": "I am perfectly well." Though
the hidden meaning may have escaped "Doctor Mohammed," those who know
that Paul Conroy is from Northern Ireland, and not from England, will
have no trouble deciphering it. The "photographer" is speaking to the
upper echelons of the British military agency he works for, and lets
them know that this pantomime should not be taken seriously: He is OK.

This time it is Paul Conroy who seems to have taken advantage of "Doctor
Mohammed"'s theatrics to get his message across, while immobilized by
his injury.

New message by Edith Bouvier and her companion

In a fourth video, filmed and broadcast the same day, Edith Bouvier,
supine in in her bed of misfortune, calls for help. She requests (1)
"the establishment of a cease-fire" and (2) a "medicalized car to drive
her to Lebanon," so that she may be treated quickly.

Since the requirements expressed are those of a truce that allow for the
circulation of an ambulance and transportation to a hospital for
treatment, such claims are totally incongruous. (1) A cease-fire is an
agreement to suspend all hostilities between the parties in the context
of political negotiations, while a truce is a military draw, in a
specific area and during a specified time frame, to permit the movement
of persons or humanitarian supplies. (2) Moreover, being taken to
Lebanon would first require an amnesty for the crime of illegal
immigration, Edith Bouvier having been smuggled into Syria to be with
the rebels.

Although these two requirements are not elaborated on, they correspond
to the creation of a "humanitarian corridor" in the sense intended by
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé.

Alain Juppe is unfortunately known for his ability to reverse roles and
his use of "humanitarian corridors." In 1994 he had obtained from the UN
Security Council a resolution authorizing Operation Turquoise, which is
to say the creation of a "humanitarian corridor" to prevent the Hutu
population of Rwanda from being slaughtered in turn in the wake of the
crimes committed mainly by the Hutu Power against the Tutsi population.
We now know that this corridor was more than just humanitarian. It
allowed France to smuggle out the genocide perpetrators intermingled
with the civilians, thus exempting them from having to answer for their
crimes. Alain Juppé has sought this time to smuggle out armed groups
responsible for killings in Syria.

It should be noted that Edith Bouvier is not voicing her own needs; her
requirements correspond to the interests of the Free "Syrian" Army, as
defended by France.

It is not surprising that the journalist should act as Alain Juppé's
spokesperson. She was hired to work for Le Figaro by Georges Malbrunot.
According to the Syrian authorities, in the 80's the latter was the DGSE
officer in charge of liaising with the Muslim Brotherhood. He was
arrested in Hama, then handed over to the French authorities at the
urging of President François Mitterrand.

In the next sequence, "Dr. Mohammed" explains the situation, while
Bouvier's companion, photographer William Daniels (freelance at Le
Figaro-Magazine, then for Time Magazine) underscores its urgency. The
statements in Arabic are translated into English by a fourth character
that cannot be seen on the screen. Finally a fifth participant, young
Khaled Abu Saleh, ends the video on a revolutionary note.

While in the first videos both Edith and Paul clearly refused to
cooperate with "Doctor Mohammed," this time she willingly tags along.

Young Khaled Abu Saleh is the head of the Free "Syrian" Army press
center. According to journalists who have used this facility, the
Center, located in a dilapidated building, was equipped with all the
necessary hi-tech material. Journalists could do their film editing, and
had satellite equipment for live broadcasts. Some ironically compared
the level of the computer center to that of the Syrian National Army,
which continues to use antiquated transmission systems.

There is no mention of the generous sponsors who supplied this
state-of-the-art installation. But Khaled Abu Saleh's professional
activities could give us a clue. The young revolutionary was himself a
journalist. He is permanent correspondent for Al-Jazeera, which features
his blog on its website, and freelances for France24, where he is listed
as collaborator on the "Observers" column. These two satellite TV
stations are spearheading NATO and GCC propaganda to justify regime
change in Syria, as they did to justify the one in Libya.

As an example of the ethics practiced by the French public station, on 7
June 2011, France24 had broadcast live a very moving telephone speech by
Syria's ambassador to France, Lamia Shakkour, announcing her resignation
in protest against the massacres in her country. Immediately the French
diplomatic machine started to put pressure on all the Syrian ambassadors
in the world to follow this good example. Alas! Although Renée Kaplan,
the deputy editor-in-chief of France24, swore that the voice on the
phone belonged to the Ambassador, whom she knew well, it was actually
that of journalist Fahd Alargha-Almasri's wife. The intoxication fizzled
out [1].

Spurred by Alain de Pouzilhac and Christine Ockrent-Kouchner, France 24
and RFI have ceased to be news organizations to become instruments of
the French military-diplomatic apparatus. Thus, on 5 July 2011, Alain de
Pouzilhac, as CEO of the Société de l'audiovisuel extérieur de la France
(AEF) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Shammam Mahmoud,
Information Minister of the Libyan rebels. He pledged to create
anti-Gaddafi media and to train the necessary personnel to facilitate
the overthrow of the Libyan "Guide." The announcement drew the ire of
France24 and RFI journalists, furious at being used for this propaganda
enterprise. Everything suggests that similar provisions have been made
to foster "citizen journalism" among "Syrian revolutionaries." If this
is the case, the role of Khaled Abu Saleh is not just limited to
corresponding and freelancing; he is a key player in the fabrication of
false information on behalf of the French military-diplomatic device.

As already seen, Edith Bouvier was at first reluctant to take part in
the stage-acting. This time instead she collaborated with her colleague
from France24, recording a call for help aimed at manipulating the
sympathy of the public to justify the establishment of a "humanitarian
corridor," in line with Alain Juppé's need to evacuate the mercenaries
of the Free "Syrian" Army and the Western instructors.

First conclusions

At this stage of my video-based analysis, I have formulated ?several
working hypotheses.

  The team from the Sunday Times (Mary Colvin and Paul Conroy) was
working for MI6, while Le Figaro Magazine correspondent (Edith Bouvier)
was sent by the DGSE.

  "Doctor Mohammed" seized the opportunity that the journalists were
bedridden to record two more videos, but Paul Conroy, in turn, used it
send a distress message to his allies. Ultimately, the France24
freelance, Khaled Abou Saleh, created the scenario for Alain Juppe's
objective.

Negotiation breakdown or negotiation shift?

Throughout the negotiations, I was able to provide various insights that
were taken into consideration. But whenever I broached the above
aspects, I was told that it was not the right time. It was clear that
the Free "Syrian" Army was refusing to release the journalists. The
priority was therefore to save them. Their actual status would be dealt
with later.

On Saturday evening, 25 February, the negotiations folded. To restore
contact with the Takfirists, the Syrians sought a moderate sheikh with
whom the group would agree to talk, but all the clergymen who were
approached stepped back one after the other for fear of the
consequences. Should we continue to camp on site waiting for discussions
to resume as soon as a sheikh could be found? Or was it better to return
to Damascus to rest in safety?

The answer came from the Syrian military authorities. We were asked to
return and to remain on stand-by for a new opportunity to emerge. Back
in the capital, an SMS informed us that negotiations had been suspended
for 48 hours.

Suspended did not imply that we could enjoy ourselves on Sunday and
Monday while our fellow countrymen were in danger of death, but that
during those 48 hours another negotiation was underway. At that moment,
I thought that our Russian friends had taken the relay.

On Tuesday morning I was awakened by a friend, a war reporter for a
major French media outlet, who called to inform me of the arrival of
Paul Conroy and, probably, other journalists in Beirut. I was shocked.
In turn, I woke up a senior Syrian official, who shared my perplexity.
 From phone call to call, nobody in Damascus knew anything, or would not
speak.

Ultimately, I discovered that an agreement had been worked out between
General Assef Shawkat and a highly placed French personality, whom he
knew as a friend, to find a political solution to the imbroglio.
Loyalist forces opened their lines to allow the French military advisers
and journalists to cross into Lebanon overnight. At daybreak, the Free
"Syrian" Army discovered they were gone. Realizing that they had been
left on their own, the mercenaries decided to give themselves up,
leaving their arsenal behind, while the Islamists refused the heed the
final warnings. General Assef Shawkat gave the final assault and took
the Emirate within hours, delivering the trapped civilians from the
tyranny of the Islamists.

 >From its headquarters abroad, the Free "Syrian" Army - now reduced to
a shadow of itself - announced its "strategic withdrawal." Since nature
abhors a vacuum, the Syrian National Council, also based abroad, has
meanwhile announced the creation of a Military Committee composed of
Syrian and, especially, foreign experts. In four days, the military
question has moved from the Syrian battlefield to posh lounges of the
great Parisian hotels.

To be continued ...

Thierry Meyssan

[1] "L'Ambassadeur de Syrie en France victime d'une tentative de
déstabilisation," by Frédéric Lacastille, InfoSyrie, 7 June 2011.

French intellectual, founder and chairman of Voltaire Network and the
Axis for Peace Conference. His columns specializing in international
relations feature in daily newspapers and weekly magazines in Arabic,
Spanish and Russian. His last two books published in English : 9/11 the
Big Lie and Pentagate.

(5) Baba Amr rebels leave Metis anti-tank missiles behind

Thierry Meyssan

VOLTAIRE NETWORK | 1 MARCH 2012

After the flight of 35 military advisers and Western journalists, the
2000 fighters of the Free "Syrian" Army clustered in the Islamic Emirate
of Baba Amr lost all hope of seeing the promises of the West come true.

Wednesday, 29 February 29, hundreds chose to surrender before the Syrian
National Army penetrated the rebel area.

The Islamic Emirate of Baba Amr occupied less than 40 acres when it was
cordoned off by loyalist forces. It comprises only part of the Baba Ams
district itself, and some adjacent streets.

Syria is a country of 185,000 km2, inhabited by 23 million people.

The insurgents gave themselves up, leaving their weapons behind. Their
arsenal included shooting stations and AT-13 / 9K115 Metis anti-tank
missiles. This Russian equipment being already outdated and quite
widespread in the region, it is difficult at this time to pinpoint via
which trafficking ring it was actually delivered.

At the start of the Battle of Homs, the rebels were also in possession
of anti-tank Milan firing stations.

(6) Mossad, CIA and Blackwater operate in Syria - report

http://rt.com/news/cia-blackwater-mossad-syria-037/

Published: 07 March, 2012, 13:28

A security operation in Homs reveals Mossad, CIA and Blackwater are
involved in the military violence in this part of Syria, as over 700
Arab and Western gunmen and Israeli, American and European-made weapons
were detained in Baba Amr district.

Syrian security forces got yet further proof of Western powers’ military
involvement in Syria’s internal conflict, reports Al-Manar, a news
agency, affiliated with Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based militant group and
political party.

Around 700 gunmen were recently arrested in the former rebel stronghold
of Babar Amr.

“The captured gunmen held Arab nationalities, including Gulf, Iraqi, and
Lebanese. Among them were also Qatari intelligence agents and non-Arab
fighters from Afghanistan, Turkey, and some European countries like
France,” the agency quotes Syrian expert in strategic affairs Salim
Harba as saying.

Harba also confirmed to the agency that “a coordination office was
established in Qatar under American-Gulf sponsorship. The office
includes American, French, and Gulf – specifically from Qatar and Saudi
Arabia – intelligence agents, as well as CIA, Mossad, and Blackwater
agents and members of the Syrian Transitional Council.”

The Syrian expert also added the security forces have also seized
Israeli-, European- and American-made weapons.

“The Syrian army also uncovered tunnels and equipments there,” he told
to the agency, “advanced Israeli, European, and American arms that have
not yet been tested in the countries of manufacture, in addition to
Israeli grenades, night binoculars, and communication systems were
confiscated by the security forces.”

Salim Harba however said the Syrian authorities are not planning to
reveal all the obtained information now, but assured all the evidence is
of high value.

“The Syrian security forces have documents and confessions that could
harm everyone who conspired against Syria, and could make a security and
political change, not just on the internal Syrian level, but also on the
regional level,” he said.

The recent Stratfor leak and hacked email of the company’s director of
analysis also suggest undercover NATO troops are already on the ground
in Syria.

There have been previous allegations of a Western presence on the side
of the rebels as 13 French officers were reportedly captured by the
loyalist forces earlier in March.

President Bashar al-Assad has repeatedly claimed his regime is fighting
not with peaceful protesters as claimed by the West, but with the
military gangs supported by the West.

Western powers however have categorically denied any military
involvement in Syrian internal conflict.

(7) Syria: Clinton admits US on same side as Al Qaeda to destabilise
Assad Government


From:   Ken Freeland <diogenesquest@gmail.com> Date: 29 February 2012
23:49

By Michel Chossudovsky and Finian Cunningham

Global Research, February 27, 2012

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=29524

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has acknowledged that Al Qaeda and
other organizations on the US "terror list" are supporting the Syrian
opposition.

Clinton said: "We have a very dangerous set of actors in the region,
al-Qaida [sic], Hamas, and those who are on our terrorist list, to be
sure, supporting – claiming to support the opposition [in Syria]." [1]
(Click here to watch video)

Yet at the same time, in the above BBC interview the US Secretary of
State repeats the threadbare Western claim that the situation in Syria
is one of a defenceless population coming under "relentless attack" from
Syrian government forces. ...

Notes

[1] Transcript of Clinton interview on BBC, 26 February, 2012:
http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO1202/S00690/interview-with-kim-ghattas-of-bbc.htm

(8) Egyptian junta lifts travel ban on NGO operatives
http://www.wsws.org/articles/2012/mar2012/ngos-m03.shtml

By Johannes Stern
3 March 2012

On Thursday, a US military plane flew several American NGO operatives
out of Egypt following the lifting of a travel ban by the ruling
military junta. The move was a climb-down by the regime, which had
insisted on proceeding with plans to try the Americans for illegally
interfering in Egyptian affairs. It followed weeks of intense pressure
from Washington.

US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland declared that the US was
“very pleased,” but stressed that “the departure of our people doesn't
resolve the legal case or the larger issues concerning the NGOs.” She
added that the US remains “deeply concerned about the prosecution” and
wants “to see the NGO situation settled in a manner that allows all NGOs
[...] to be registered.”

In June, the Egyptian interim government accused several NGOs and
political organizations working in Egypt of receiving illicit and
unregistered foreign funding. The campaign against the NGOs started
after the US Agency for International Development (USAID) told Egyptian
newspapers it was supporting “pro-democracy” initiatives in Egypt.

According to media reports, the Obama administration funneled some $200
million into Egypt ahead of the parliamentary elections held last
November. The US was reportedly seeking to prop up the country's
pro-Western political parties to counterbalance the Islamist Freedom and
Justice Party (FJP), the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB).

In October, Egyptian Minister of Justice Mohamed Abdel Aziz El-Gendi
assigned two judges to investigate the allegations, and on December 29
armed military and police forces stormed and closed the offices of 17
NGOs in Cairo. Amongst the raided organizations were the American
International Republican Institute (IRI), the National Democratic
Institute (NDI), Freedom House and the German Konrad Adenauer Foundation.

However, shortly before a trial of 43 people, including 16 Americans,
was about to start on February 26, the Egyptian authorities announced a
postponement. The lifting of the travel ban enabled the
defendants—including the IRI director in Egypt, Sam LaHood, son of US
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood—to leave the country.

Prior to the postponement of the trial, the US government stepped up its
pressure on the junta. High-ranking US officials, including the head of
the IRI and Republican Senator John McCain, visited Egypt and stressed
the need for a quick resolution of the crisis. Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton and other leading US politicians threatened to cut the
annual allocation of $1.3 billion in military aid if the Egyptian
authorities did not back down.

On Tuesday, Clinton told a Senate hearing: “We've had a lot of very
tough conversations and I think we're… moving towards a resolution.” She
added that Cairo was “coming to understand” that Washington was serious
about the threat to cut off aid to Egypt.

While it remains unlikely that the US would have cut its aid to the
Egyptian junta—the chairman of the US Joint Chief of Staffs, General
Martin Dempsey, recently said such a step would be against US
interests—certain tensions have been growing between the US and the
regime in Cairo in recent months. ...

(9) Libya faces disintegration as tribal leaders in Benghazi declare
semi-autonomous region


From: Kristoffer Larsson <krislarsson@comhem.se> Date: 8 March 2012 08:15

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/9126968/Libya-fears-of-disintegration-as-tribal-leaders-declare-semi-autonomous-region.html

Libya: fears of disintegration as tribal leaders declare semi-autonomous
region

Tribal leaders and militia commanders in eastern Libya declared the
formation of a semi-autonomous region, raising fears that the country is
witnessing the first stages of disintegration just six months after the
fall of Col Muammar Gaddafi.

By Alex Spillius

7:30PM GMT 06 Mar 2012

A conference of about 3,000 delegates in Benghazi installed Ahmed
al-Senussi, a great nephew of Libya's former king, as head of the new
Cyrenaica Provincial Council.

It proposed that an eastern region should run its own affairs apart from
foreign policy, the national army and oil resources, which would be left
to a federal government in Tripoli.

The province would cover nearly half the country, from central Libya to
the Egyptian border in the east and down to the borders with Chad and
Sudan in the south.

The announcement aimed to present a federal system as a fait accompli
before the struggling National Transitional Council in Tripoli.

The goal is to revive the system in place after the Second World War
under King Idris, when Libya was divided into three states: Tripolitania
in the west, Fezzan in the southwest and Cyrenaica – or Barqa, as it was
called in Arabic – to the east.

As the monarch's power base, Cyrenaica enjoyed kudos and influence that
was very largely lost during Col Gaddafi's 42-year rule.

The east was the cradle of last year's rebellion against the late
dictator but complaints that it has been sidelined have grown more vocal
since his removal from power.

It is not clear what activities if any the council will undertake soon,
but Mohammed Buisier, one of the main organisers, said that he had
contacted "the people in Tripoli" and told them "come here and negotiate".

He added: "We are not going to give anyone a blank cheque."

The NTC has repeatedly voiced its opposition to the creation of a partly
autonomous eastern region, warning it could eventually lead to the
break-up of the north African nation of six million.

"This is very dangerous. This is a blatant call for fragmentation. We
reject it in its entirety," said Fathi Baja, the head of political
committee of the NTC. "We are against divisions and against any move
that hurts the unity of the Libyan people."

The declaration underscored the weakness of the NTC. It holds little
sway even in Tripoli, where militias that arose during the anti-Gaddafi
revolt have divided neighbourhoods up into fiefdoms.

The prime minister of the interim government created by the NTC,
Abdel-Rahim el-Keib, admitted earlier this week that the new government
was not performing up to the task.

"My evaluation of its performance is not good," he said in an interview
on state television. "The steps we are taking are slow."

The NTC has called for national elections in June to select a 200-member
assembly that would name a prime minister to form a government and then
write a constitution.

Rejecting that plan, the Benghazi conference appointed King Idris's
descendant Ahmed al-Senussi, Libya's longest serving political prisoner
under Col Gaddafi, as leader of the planned governing council. He is
also a member of the NTC, which contains many representatives of the
Benghazi region.

Other attendees included leaders of heavyweight tribes of the eastern
region, including the Ubaidat, Mughariba and Awajeer, defence ministry
officials and commanders from the Barqa Army, a grouping of 61 eastern
"revolutionary militias".

(10) Arab Spring is Arab Socialism's Fall - Wayne Madsen

http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2012/03/07/arab-spring-is-arab-socialism-fall.html
http://www.4thmedia.org/2012/03/07/arab-spring-is-arab-socialism%E2%80%99s-fall/

«Arab Spring» is Arab Socialism's Fall

Wayne MADSEN | 07.03.2012 | 00:00

  The fall of autocratic regimes in the Arab Middle East and North
Africa, which had more to do with skyrocketing unemployment and
inflation than in a desire to «democratize,» gave the circling vultures
of Western «pro-democracy» think tanks and foundations the opportunity
to put stakes in the hearts of governing pan-Arab socialist political
parties long seen as a threat to the goals of «uber-capitalist»
globalization. The Ba'ath socialist party of Saddam Hussein in Iraq was
the first victim of a desire by the global forces of extreme capitalism
to re-make the Middle East's financial, demographic, political, and
social construct.

Because the invasion and occupation of Iraq was such an unmitigated
disaster, the neo-conservative and neo-liberal forces of corporatism
decided that other traditional Arab socialist regimes would fall as a
result of «soft power.» Soft power involves the use of foreign-funded
domestic pressure groups, financed and organized by Western
non-governmental organization (NGO) interests, to foment insurrections
and «popular revolutions» by using street demonstrations, propagandized
media – including social media – and false flag human rights violations
intended to generate worldwide sympathy for the manufactured revolutions.

After the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in Iraq the first action of L.
Paul «Jerry» Bremer, the de facto U.S. viceroy of occupied Iraq and
close associate of Henry Kissinger, was to abolish the Arab Socialist
Ba'ath Party. In fact, Bremer's first order, Coalition Provisional
Authority Order Number 1, totally banned the Ba'ath Party and all of its
affiliated structures. Bremer ensured that pan-Arab socialism was dead
in Iraq. Bremer's propaganda against Ba'athism was supported by his
press spokesman, Dan Senor, a longtime supporter of Israel and a former
investment portfolio manager for the Carlyle Group.

The Ba'ath Party of Iraq was the principal mechanism through which the
Iraqi bureaucracy, which ensured payments of salaries to government
workers, operated. Without the Ba'ath Party – public sector
infrastructure, Iraqis in all walks of life saw and end to their
paychecks. Popular discontent and rebellion against the Western
occupiers ensued. An army of U.S. contractors arrived in Iraq to ensure
the «de-Ba'athification» of the country, with right-wing Republicans at
the forefront of trying to create a capitalist and privatized wonderland
in Iraq that would not even sell to the public in the most conservative
U.S. state.

Naomi Klein summed up the West's desire to turn Iraq into a
neo-conservative capitalist theme park in her September 2004 article in
Harper's Magazine. Titled «Baghdad year zero: Pillaging Iraq in pursuit
of a neocon utopia,» Klein wrote, «A country of 25 million would not be
rebuilt as it was before the war; it would erased, disappeared . . .
Every policy that liberates multinational corporations to pursue their
quest for profit would be put into place: a shrunken state, a flexible
workforce, open borders. Minimal taxes, no tariffs, no ownership
restrictions . . . Two months after the war began, USAID (U.S. Agency
for International Development) began drafting a work order, to be handed
to a private company, to oversee Iraq's «transition to a sustainable
market-driven economic system.» The company that received the contract
was Bearing Point, the follow-on firm of the accountancy firm KPMG. KPMG
and USAID are also linked closely to U.S. intelligence operations.

In her article, Klein detailed the planned future for Iraq: distribution
rights for Proctor & Gamble products was seen as a potential gold mine
in Iraq, a single 7-Eleven was forecasted to «knock out» thirty Iraqi
stores, and «Wal-Mart could take over the country.» Plans were in place
for McDonald's to open in downtown Baghdad and HSBC branches to open all
over the country.

Ba'ath Socialist Iraq, which guaranteed a social safety net and public
services, including water, electricity, education, and health care to
every Iraqi citizen, was dead. The capitalist utopia in Iraq never
materialized. Iraq became a country split into Sh'ia, Sunni, and Kurdish
zones, wracked by religious strife and almost daily terrorist attacks.
The standard of living enjoyed by Iraqis before the Western invasion and
occupation plummeted. Only Western military, security, and oil companies
benefitted from the deposing of the Ba'ath Party. But for the greedy
global «alchemists» huddled over their conference room tables in
Washington, New York, and London, Iraq was merely the first of the old
pan-Arab socialist countries to fall. Others would follow but without
the full-scale military invasion and occupation strategy that had failed
so miserably in Iraq. A new strategy would be needed, along with a new
administration in Washington to implement it.

After Barack Obama became president and lulled the Arabs of the Middle
East into a fairy tale that suggested that Obama was a different kind of
American president, one more interested in reaching out a hand of
friendship rather than a clenched fist, the Obama team of «democracy
engineers» set out to implement policies that would eliminate the Middle
East's remaining pan-Arab socialist regimes.

Now, history is repeating itself in Syria where another faction of the
Ba'ath Party has been in power for decades. Syria is the birthplace of
Ba'athist socialism. The chief founder of Ba'athism was Michel Aflaq,
the Syrian who founded the ideology that combined elements of communism
with strictly Arab principals of «Ba'ath» or «rebirth» with pan-Arab
socialism under the motto of «Unity, Liberty, and Socialism.»
Eventually, the Syrian and Iraqi factions of the Ba'ath Party broke with
one another and the two Ba'ath-governed nations became bitter enemies.
Today, in rejecting any negotiated settlement with the Bashar al-Assad
regime the West is copying some of the same elements of
«de-Ba'athification» carried out by the Kissinger/Carlyle Group cabal
that took over Iraq temporarily from Saddam Hussein.

The overthrow of Hosni Mubarak's regime in Egypt and its replacement by
a hybrid Salafist/Muslim Brotherhood reactionary parliament governed by
a military junta also saw the eclipse of what remained of the pan-Arab
socialist influence of Nasser. Mubarak, who succeeded Anwar Sadat, was a
political heir of Nasser and his brand of socialism. The new regime in
Egypt has made it clear that the secular socialist policies of Nasser,
Sadat, and, to a much lesser extent, Mubarak, have come to an end, with
Salafist Islamist sharia law replacing secular governance and equal
rights for minority religions throughout the country.

One of Nasser's political disciples was Libya's Muammar Qaddafi. Qaddafi
transformed Libya from a feudal backwater kingdom into a Socialist
People's Jamahiriyah, a country where all Libyans, regardless of race
and skin color, were guaranteed a safety net of social services, not
least of which was the benefit of popular revenue sharing from Libya's
royalties paid by Western oil firms. The new Salafist-linked regime
imposed by the West in Tripoli has carried out revenge murders of
Qaddafi supporters, totally dismantled any vestige of the Socialist
Jamahiriyah, committed human rights abuses, including the killing of
black African guest workers and black Libyans considered «kafirs»
(unwashed disbelievers) by Libyan Salafist Berbers of a more European,
rather than African, origin. Even the cemeteries of British and
Commonwealth troops who died in World War II have been smashed and
desecrated by the Western-imposed Salafists in Libya.

Tunisia's Socialist Destourian Party, founded by Tunisian nationalist
leader and later president Habib Bourguiba in the 1930s, saw its legacy
in Tunisia obliterated with the ouster in 2011 of the corrupt oligarch
and Bourguiba successor, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the first victim of
the so-called «Arab Spring.»

The Palestinian socialism advocated by Yasir Arafat, George Habash, and
Nayef Hawatmeh has been replaced by a kleptocracy shared by corrupt
officials of Fatah and Hamas who are often more interested in enriching
themselves than in breaking free from the Israeli yoke of occupation.
Lebanon's Arab socialist standard bearer, Kamal Jumblatt, was
assassinated in 1977. Although it was the West that benefitted by the
murder of the Arab socialist leader, Syria's Ba'ath Party was blamed, as
it would be later for various assassinations of Lebanese political
figures. However, over the years, Israel and Western intelligence
agencies have been discovered to have colluded in the assassinations of
a number of Lebanese officials.

The West has always sought to stamp out Arab socialism, beginning with
the 1965 «disappearance» in Paris of Morocco's Mehdi Ben Barka, called
the North African «Che Guevara,» allegedly at the hands of the French
intelligence service. The 1994 civil war between North Yemen and
socialist-Nasserite South Yemen resulted in the defeat of South Yemen
and its total absorption into a Western-supported Yemen led by Ali
Abdullah Saleh, an anti-socialist reactionary. Only in Algeria does some
semblance of the Arab socialist doctrine of the former president Ahmed
Ben Bella continue to exist to some degree under the administration of
President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. But with more and more weapons being
intercepted at the Algerian border with Libya, it is a matter of time
before the anti-socialist juggernaut sweeps across the Sahara for Algiers.

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