The 21st Century NGO has, in some cases, become a key tool serving the West’s quest for absolute global dominance. They are used to render specific communities/groups dependent on foreign aid in order to facilitate their “democratization,” thus ceasing to be neutral, unbiased humanitarian organizations. Instead, they become covert tools for foreign intervention and regime change.
In researching material for the sequel to The Syrian, I routinely peruse both alternative news and mass media sources to examine what gets reported, and what doesn’t, and the discrepancies therein. I had just read a September 30, 2016 article by Max Blumenthal entitled Inside the Shadowy PR Firm That’s Lobbying for Regime Change in Syria when I saw the cover article in Time’s October 17, 2016 edition, written by Jared Malsin, Whoever Saves One Life, Saves all of Humanity: The White Helmets of Syria and the 60,000 Lives They’ve Saved.
The White Helmets are credited for saving tens of thousands of lives, though estimates on exactly how many varies dramatically depending on the source. Whatever the number, there is little dispute that the White Helmets’ rank-and-file are saving lives in what seems to be an increasingly desperate situation in eastern Aleppo.
However, according to Blumenthal, the group is anything but impartial. The White Helmets’ leadership is driven by a pro-interventionist agenda conceived by the Western governments and public relations groups that back them.
The White Helmets were founded in collaboration with USAID’s Office of Transitional Initiatives—the wing that has promoted regime change around the world—and has been provided with $23 million in funding from the department. The USAID track record as a primary US government/CIA regime change facilitator is extensively documented. From South America to the Ukraine and across the Middle East, USAID serves a malevolent and oftentimes destructive role in the dismantling of sovereign nations and their reduction to Western hegemony vassal states, all in the name of freedom and democracy.
Anyone who visits the White Helmets website—which is operated by an opposition-funded PR company known as the Syria Campaign—is immediately directed to a request to sign a petition for a no-fly zone to “stop the bombs” in Syria. These sorts of communications highlight the dual role the White Helmets play as a civil defense organization saving lives while lobbying for a U.S. military campaign that will almost surely result in the collapse of the Syrian government. The White Helmets work primarily with the rebel group Jabat al Nusra (Al Qaeda in Syria)
According to a 2012 Pentagon estimate, a no-fly zone would require at least 70,000 American servicemen to enforce it, along with the widespread destruction of Syrian government infrastructure and military installations. Also sometimes called “safe zones” or “buffer zones,” from Yugoslavia to Iraq to Libya, no-fly zones have served almost without exception as the preamble to regime change. With no clear plan in place for the day after the government falls, or any conclusive evidence that its ouster is what most Syrian people want, the Western governments and public relations specialists who created the White Helmets are intensifying their push for regime change.
Away from the battlefield, the White Helmets have proven one of the most effective tools in the Syria Campaign’s public relations arsenal. James Le Mesurier, who is the lead participant in this USAID project, is a veteran of NATO interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo. After his army days, he moved into the lucrative mercenary industry by signing onto the Olive Group, an affiliate of Blackwater/Academi.
Le Mesurier’s job was to organize a unique band of people who rush into freshly bombed buildings to extract survivors—while filming themselves—in rebel-held areas facing routine bombing by Syrian army aircraft. Among the group’s primary functions has been marketing the White Helmets to Western media consumers as non-political heroes saving lives in a sea of sectarian villains. To date, USAID, the major stakeholder in the White Helmet organization, has donated $23 million, a substantial sum for a civil defense project in a war zone. A further $13 million in donations was poured into the White Helmet coffers by the British Foreign Office and the Syrian National Council, a parallel government backed and funded by the US, the UK and their allies.
In the Time Magazine article, Jared Malsin wrote:”All wars produce confusion—for chaos, nothing else comes close—but even the most brutal contests produce a glimmer of hope, or at last some sense of what is driving people to put their lives on the line. Yet to outsiders, 5 ½ years of revolution and war in Syria might appear to have produced mostly villains, along with refugees and numbing images of suffering on a blasted landscape that recalls Stalingrad. Enter the White Helmets. Ordinary Syrians emerging from the dust that hangs over the rubble of cities like Aleppo, double-timing it into some of the most dangerous places on earth to do what the world has refused to do—save Syrian lives.
“Every time the White Helmets scramble toward the sound of bombs, these heroes of Aleppo reassert the quality that will finally end the war—a unifying national identity that has seemed lost to the sectarian bigots or regional rivals that are pulling their country apart.”
So, are the White Helmets the heroes of Aleppo who will finally end the war? Are they, as Malsin asserts, “a unifying national identity that has seemed lost to the sectarian bigots and regional rivals that are pulling their country apart?”
Or are the White Helmets, as Max Blumenthal suggests, an essential part of the propaganda stream that facilitates the continued media and political campaign against the elected Syrian government?
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