Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

June 20, 2016

Jo Cox, the White Helmets and the Baathist amen corner

Filed under: Syria — louisproyect @ 7:17 pm

In 2015 Rick Sterling, a member of the steering committee of the Syrian Solidarity Movement, posted no less than five articles to CounterPunch that attacked the White Helmets as a tool of Western imperialism’s “regime change” plot.






One might ask why one article was insufficient to make his point but experts in the art of propaganda understand that repetition is key. As Adolf Hitler put it, “The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly – it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over.”

The Syria Solidarity Movement was initiated by Sara Flounders of the Workers World Party and Richard Becker of the Party of Socialism and Liberation, a split-off from the WWP. Interestingly enough, the two groups never explained why the split took place—somehow deciding that Lenin’s attempts to clarify the split with the Mensheviks was not the sort of thing they’d bother with. Despite the immense sympathy for Bashar al-Assad that runs the gamut from CounterPunch to the very posh London Review of Books, the two self-described Leninist groups have not been able to capitalize on it. They number in the hundreds rather than the thousands. Is it possible that young radicals don’t have much stomach for mustached dictators who have a murderous ambition to remain in power no matter how much suffering and death it causes?

It should be mentioned that the offensive against the White Helmets has the highest priority from the Syria Solidarity Movement. In addition to Sterling, Eva Bartlett and Vanessa Beeley have been burning the midnight oil cranking out articles to the same effect. This campaign has been so effective that White Helmet leader Ra’ed Al-Saleh was banned from entering the United States even though the State Department gave his group 23 million dollars. If the West is bent on “regime change” in Syria, it is not doing a very good job apparently.

As a casualty of both the smear campaign orchestrated by the beady-eyed Assadists of the Syria Solidarity Movement and a gunman linked to American neo-Nazis, Jo Cox has been trashed for her support for the White Helmets. When you Google “Jo Cox” and “White Helmets”, the first result is from the Holistic Works website, one dedicated to Colonic Irrigation and the like. Annie Dieu-Le-Veut, an anonymous writer who assumed the name of an 18th century French pirate, wants the world to know “The Truth About the Late Jo Cox MP and Her Husband, Brendan”:

We’re being told what a truly, extraordinarily wonderful person Jo Cox was, because her life was devoted to helping refugees. I’m sure she was a very sweet person – her face shows that. But how wise and truly aware was she? Today, with her body barely cold, her husband Brendan Cox is tweeting out a Go Fund Me link to his wife’s ‘favourite causes’ and one of those is the White Helmets.

The White Helmets is not a charity, and neither are they ‘the good guys’ despite their white helmets. The White Helmets is the military propaganda arm of the Allies attempt at regime change by destabilising Syria – and this is exactly what is causing the refugee component of Europe’s migrant crisis in the first place.

The article is basically a regurgitation of the talking points made by Sterling and company. How they managed to line up experts in Colonic Irrigation to share their story has the making of a good Gawker article.

As far as I can tell, the Baathist amen corner has been stressing the following points in its prosecution of the White Helmets, aka the Syrian Civil Defense. The talking points below come from Vanessa Beeley articles that read like Rick Sterling’s that read like Eva Bartlett’s (part one, part two):

  1. It was started by a British military veteran, not Syrians.

The culprit is one James Le Mesurier, who Vanessa Beeley describes as:

A British “security” specialist and ‘ex’ British military intelligence officer with an impressive track record in some of the most dubious NATO intervention theatres including Bosnia and Kosovo, as well as Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine.

I have no doubt that this is an accurate description of his record but it begs the question of why he would be wasting his time training men to dig people out of rubble when his expertise could be better used to lead armed assaults on the military bases that have been creating the rubble. Of course, this is the Achilles Heel of Sterling, Beeley, Bartlett, et al. They can’t explain away the fact that armored helicopters and MIG jets have been dropping bombs and firing missiles wantonly. As I mentioned to someone the other day, the tactic seems to be a crude imitation of the one used against MOVE in Philadelphia and David Koresh’s cult in Waco. Some might even call dropping bombs on apartment buildings a war crime but then again the Baathist amen corner has a talent for excusing such behavior. When John Wight seized upon the example of the firebombing of Dresden to make the case for Assad, it was obvious that he had not read Slaughterhouse-Five. If Wight had taken the same tack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, would CounterPunch have published that article? I suppose if it generated enough clicks, it might.

  1. It is funded by George Soros, USAID and the UK Foreign Office.

The amount to train and support White Helmet workers is apparently around $40 million in total. That is about the same amount the Syrian and Russian jets spend creating rubble in a single day. In a different context, this is what Marxist economist Arghiri Emmanuel called an “unequal exchange”. In terms of why such destruction has been taking place on such a massive scale recently, the War is Boring website  identified Russian “safety first” principles:

The targeting cell issues daily tasking orders some 24 to 36 hours in advance, ordering crews to bomb specific geographic coordinates. Crews then spend lots of time planning missions and programming their navigation and attack systems correspondingly. Safety is a paramount issue — not only because Russian military commanders dislike the idea of losing aircraft, regardless if in training or in combat, but because their political masters, ever mindful of the propaganda value of Russian operations, cannot afford bad news.

Therefore, well above 95 percent of combat sorties by Russian fighter-bombers are flown at medium altitudes between 15,000 and 20,000 feet, where aircraft remain outside the reach of enemy defenses — especially man-portable air-defense systems.

Whether the mission is flown by day or by night, more than 80 percent of weaponry deployed by the VKS is so-called “dumb” bombs. Obviously, when dropped from medium altitudes against geographic coordinates — frequently through cloud cover — such weapons are grossly inaccurate.

Well, no matter. The only good jihadist is a dead jihadist, after all.

  1. The White Helmet leaders are actually bad guys.

Beeley identifies Farouq Al Habib as one of them. She writes:

At least three other members of the team were a part of the Syrian “revolution” including Farouq al Habib, one of the 3 most prominent White Helmet leaders who was also a leader of the Homs uprising against the Syrian government and according to his testimony, was tortured by the Syrian “regime” security forces in 2012 for smuggling a journalist into Syria to “cover” the “peaceful protests”. Habib was a founder member of the ‘Homs Revolutionary Council’ (the CIA have been linked to nearly all ‘Revolutionary Councils in Syria) before fleeing to Turkey in 2013 (A more in-depth analysis of his anti-Syrian government testimony will be presented in Part II of this article).

Interesting how Beeley is so fond of using scare quotes. Does the fact that she does not enclose tortured with them mean that she accepts that he was tortured? I guess he deserved it for “anti-Syrian government” activity. That’ll teach his ass. I suppose that is consistent with Bashar al-Assad’s participation in the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program. If you are involved in a serious war on terror like the USA, Russia, Israel and Syria, any measure is acceptable. Don’t believe me? Just read Alan Dershowitz’s “ticking bomb” defense.

  1. White Helmets are all al-Qaeda.

Evidence of this was a Youtube video showing White Helmet workers taking away the dead body of a man executed by al-Nusra combatants. Since part of its responsibility is to dispose of dead bodies, whatever their role in the fighting, there is some question of whether them carrying out this duty was a sign of affiliation with the executioners. Beeley states, “These impartial humanitarian workers did NOTHING to prevent this execution, they appear a full 5 minutes prior to this murder at the behest of the executioners and they are ushered into shot immediately after the victim is shot twice at close range in the head, to collect the body.” Maybe the fact that they were not armed and that al-Nusra is a vicious jihadist group had something to do with it.

The above Youtube clip has been deleted since it does not meet their standards but you can find another clip that according to Beeley does confirm that they are al-Qaeda because they were seen piling corpses of dead Baathist soldiers “unceremoniously one on top of the other” and then trampling upon them. I can’t understand the Arabic in the clip but I can’t see much trampling going on. Maybe its the cataracts playing tricks on me but I doubt it.

Another proof of White Helmet extremism is a photo that shows them holding up a sign that says, “We Will Not Kneel”. Terrifying, isn’t it. I suppose they should have held up something like what Assad’s supporters scrawled on walls early on: “Either Bashar or the country burns”.

She offers more proof that al-Nusra and White Helmets are in cahoots through the example of one Muawiya Hassan Agha, who is seen standing on top of an “Al Nusra tank” with a gun in hand. It is not exactly clear what makes the tank part of Al Nusra, but let us take Beeley at her word. Since there are 2,700 volunteers working with the White Helmets, one man’s indiscipline is hardly indicative of the entire organization.


Al-Nusra tank?

The problem with Beeley, Bartlett, Sterling and company is that they are simply not capable of sweeping the evidence under the rug of cities blown to smithereens. The images of Aleppo, Homs, and other pro-revolution strongholds being reduced to the rubble that require volunteers to dig through in search of survivors is the proverbial 800 pound gorilla.

Much of the damage is being done by barrel bombs, a device even more lacking in precision than the Russian bombs dropped from 3 miles high. In one of the more chilling articles to come off the Vanessa Beeley propaganda assembly line, you see her trying to justify their use:

The barrel bomb itself is a rudimentary missile, cheap to produce [around $ 200 per bomb depending upon level of TNT].  It has design faults in that the fins on the bomb are still not aerodynamically perfect, despite several changes.

But then again why care about precision when the obvious goal is to blast a street market into smithereens and drive the citizens to emigrate?

It must be remembered that the SAA is fighting a war but not against anti government rebels as depicted in the mainstream media, rather its a dirty war against a merciless, depraved and bloodthirsty proxy army funded, armed and supported by the Empire interventionist alliance [US, Turkey, KSA, Jordan, NATO, Israel].

That’s reason enough I suppose to blow a man selling cabbages from a pushcart to kingdom come. And this really caps it off:

In war, civilian life is lost, it is unavoidable and particularly when terrorists embed themselves into civilian areas, converting civilians into human shields…Neither is it mentioned that the SAA make every feasible effort to evacuate densely populated civilian areas prior to targeting terrorist cells.

Isn’t Beeley aware that this is the same line that the IDF uses to defend its war crimes in Gaza? What an irony that she posts this material from a website called “The Wall Must Fall”, a reference to the one erected between Israel and the West Bank. History will have a hard time figuring out what drove people like Sterling, Beeley and Barrett to come to Assad’s defense when he was so obviously following the military strategy of Putin in Chechnya and Netanyahu in Gaza.

There is at least one Palestinian group that can see things more clearly than this crew:

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 2.47.07 PM





  1. Excellent take-down of this vile campaign. Louis might have mentioned some of the close ideological allies of Sterling, Beely and Bartlett. Here’s British neo-Nazi Nick Griffin: “Dear God! #JoCox Memorial fund raising for the Al Qaida/George Soros #WhiteHelmets in Syria. Apologists and facilitators pf murder & terror” (from https://twitter.com/pauloCanning/status/743879985044258817?cn=ZmxleGlibGVfcmVjc18y&refsrc=email). Is there *any* difference between the language of the ultra-right and Assadist “left” on this at all?

    Comment by mkaradjis — June 21, 2016 @ 2:22 am

  2. One other point. Louis points to these scumbags presenting “evidence” of the White Helmets collaboration with Jabhat al-Nusra: “Evidence of this was a Youtube video showing White Helmet workers taking away the dead body of a man executed by al-Nusra combatants. … Beeley states, “These impartial humanitarian workers did NOTHING to prevent this execution.”

    As Louis points out, being unarmed next to well-armed jihadists may have had something to do with it, and after all, their role is precisely to rescue people from the rubble and dispose of bodies, not take part in the fighting with their bare hands. But more to the point, they are obviously incapable of seeing their own contradictions. Because the overwhelming majority of their body-disposing work consists of disposing the bodies of people slaughtered by the regime, not the 1/100th of them killed by Nusra. Yet it is this work that gets them labelled by the left-fascists as part of the conspiracy against the Assad regime. But the White Helmets also “do NOTHING to prevent the massacre” of these thousands of people by Assadi gangs, gangs of the global Shiite-jihadist forces, and Assadist and Russian warplanes. So does this indicate that they collaborate with Assad? Idiots.

    Finally, there is the WH volunteer “standing on top of an “Al Nusra tank” with a gun in hand.” Louis notes “It is not exactly clear what makes the tank part of Al Nusra.” Yes, of course. But that is of course what these left-fascists have in common with Nick Griffin quoted above (and of course the entire ultra-right/neo-Nazi movement in Europe and US), who also accused JoCox and WH of being in cahoots with “al-Qaida”, same as what they have in common with every reactionary Islamophobe defending the US, Russian, Assad, Sisi, Netanyahu “war on terror”: all your opponents are by definition “al-Qaida”, or “Islamic terrorists” of some similar description. It’s worked for Murdoch for decades, why not his leftist co-thinkers

    Comment by mkaradjis — June 21, 2016 @ 2:40 am

  3. #Syria: Debunking the “White Helmets = Al Qa’eda” Smear
    Since my initial post on May 10 summarizing & debunking the “White Helmets = Al Qa’eda” smear, Assad supporters have replied — mostly with ranting and with little new “evidence”. So this is an extension of the original 14 points further taking apart the allegations, distortions, and propaganda:

    1. Since pro-#Assad folks rehashing “White Helmets = Al Qa’eda” smear, here’s sum & debunking of “evidence” | #Syria .@SyriaCivilDef

    2. Vid fm 2015 where 2 rescuers called out to retrieve body & found Jabhat al-Nusra execution in progress – They could not halt it.

    3. They retrieved body so it could be buried properly — as White Helmets said at time.

    4. Replies by Assad supporters distort but have no evidence to rebut this.

    5. Vid of 1 case (#Idlib 2015) where 2 rescuers celebrated near fighters, some of whom were Nusra

    6. Later Facebook pics of 1 of these 2 men, posing with gun and appearing to be a fighter – Not established that he is White Helmets & fighter at same time

    7. Replies by Assad supporters only add that this man, Muawiya Hassan Agha, was in video this week of two Khan Tuman POWs being abused — They were later executed

    8. No connection between White Helmets and the abuse is established — Agha is not in WH role and appears to be there as fighter

    9. Photo where a rescuer is carrying a gun — No context has ever established, and this is only case

    10. Vid of an old rescuer praising fighters (but not specifically Nusra) – Replies from Assad supporters offer nothing else

    11. Only other “new” evidence in replies is photo of White Helmets burning cannabis which has apparently been confiscated by local authorities and ordered to be destroyed

    12. This is part of burning of refuse but is converted by Assad supporters into White Helmets as “agents of Sharia court”.

    13. This is the sum total of all evidence produced for “White Helmets = Al Qa’eda”.

    13. Remainder of Assad’s supporters’ case are unsupported allegations, ad hominem attacks, and diversions.

    14. For example, video posted to one man’s FB page (see 7 above) becomes “Video posted to WH page of the brutal execution of SAA [Syrian Arab Army]”

    15. Or hyperbolic question, “Are AQ recruiting WH or WH recruting AQ?”

    16. Or unsupported accusation, “No mention of their desecration of SAA bodies”

    17. Or “Calling for the burning of [regime enclaves of] #Kafarya and #Foua”

    18. Or “All WH operatives only follow ISIS or Al Qaeda on Twitter”

    19. Then there is shout of “$60m funding from UK & US Govts for #WhiteHelmets”

    20. This can easily be taken apart, but it is diversion from the topic “White Helmets = Al Qa’eda”

    21. Still, it is revealing – Logic of Assad supporters is that US is deliberately supporting an Al-Qa’eda-linked group, even though Al Qa’eda is enemy of US

    22. In short: ONLY evidence for systematic “White Helmets = Al Qa’eda” is a photo of a man with a gun with no context and another man (who may have left WH some time time ago) in a video with 2 Syrian Army POWs being mistreated. That’s it.

    23. Even if these two cases were granted, what of the 100s of other rescuers who have saved 10,000s of lives? Are they all Al Qa’eda?

    24. This is a recurring smear. Its intent is to justify the attacks on White Helmets rescuers, including the missile strikes that killed five of them near Aleppo in late April.

    25. Attention should be given to this smear precisely to repeat its purpose — and to contrast it with the overwhelming evidence of the White Helmets as savers of life even as their own lives are threatened by bombs — and by the propagandists who defend the bombers.

    Comment by louisproyect — June 21, 2016 @ 10:51 am

  4. […] regime, as has occurred in some circles around the world.  Adding to this, some leftists have foolishly smeared grassroots humanitarian organizations that have emerged from the Syrian revolution, the Syrian […]

    Pingback by Syria and the Left Split – whatisleftdotnet — December 10, 2016 @ 10:56 pm

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