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03 March 2018


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"to continue an intense communication campaign on the Russian and Syrian bombings that kill civilians..."

Mission accomplished, at least with Ghouta. Here's a quick rundown of just a few headlines this morning., via Google News aggregator:

Syrian Activists Say 6 Killed During Russian-Ordered Pause -Associated Press
As Assaults in Syria Rage On, UN Warns of War Crimes. - Haaretz
Syria Attacks: No Justification For Bombing Civilians, Australia Tells Regime. - The Guardian
Relentless Syrian Bombing Campaign Turns This Syrian Suburb Into 'Hell On Earth'. - PBS
More Civilians Killed In East Ghouta Despite UN Imposed Ceasefire. - TRT World
Syrians Fight For Survival Despite Assad's Poison Gas Warfare. - Huff Post
US Pressure Needed To Prop Up Imperilled Syrian Ceasefire. - Axios
UN Says Syrian Actions In East Ghouta May Represent Crimes Against Humanity. - Deutsche Welle
Eastern Ghouta Death Toll Casts Doubt on Russia's Truce Plan. - The Guardian
Past Time To End Impunity For Atrocities in East Ghouta. - Human Rights Watch
Inside A School Still Running On the Edge of Rebel-Led Syria. - CBS
In Syria 'Never Again' Has become 'Never Mind'. - Daily Beast
Children In East Ghouta Use Social Media To Highlight Woes. -Anadolu Agency

How to account for the one-sided unanimity, aligned with the expressed intentions of the diplomatic grouping listed in the leaked memo (US, UK, France, Saudia Arabia, Jordan)? There is no mention of representatives of the media at the strategy session. What is the process by which they "got the memo"? And when exactly did the vaunted free press become the equivalent of the old Pravda?


And when exactly did the vaunted free press become the equivalent of the old Pravda?

In the US, 2002 if not earlier.

Clueless Joe

When did Western press become Pravda?
Under Obama at the latest, for the bulk of European press - specially if one considers the following: I've known Labeviere's journalist/analyst work when he was still working with mainstream media; he dropped out some years ago, obviously when he realised what was going on. I didn't bother to track him then, so it's nice for me to finally see what he's been up to, and to see he's still in fighting spirit.

Christian Chuba

Regarding 'clean wars', Mosul was a bloodbath. That was a 9 mo siege and there were no calls for truces for humanitarian aid convoys.

Total civilian deaths, 10,000 consistent w/number of missing, ISIS executed about 3,000 while the Pentagon claims that 321 died from coalition bombing (if you don't see them they don't count). How the MSM doesn't laugh at the Pentagon number is beyond me.

Patrick Cockburn describes some of the dynamics in Mosul on why the civilian death toll was so high ...
- Destroy an entire building to take out a sniper, civilians inside get crushed.

- Bomb anything covered with canvas which amounts to indiscriminate bombing.

I'm not saying that I could have come up with a better plan, just pointing out that we were up to our elbows when confronted by urban warfare.


The Washington Borg and their poodles need to get a move on with their propaganda - the SAA is about 2.5km from slicing East Ghouta in half according to http://syria.liveuamap.com/, a pro-rebel site. The SAG will be offering the green buses to the terrorists shortly.
BTW, there have been claims that there are about 70,000 terrorist fighters and about 400,000 civilians in East Ghouta. Where are they? According to military doctrine, there should be three attackers for every defender, so the SAA should be using about 210,000 troops for this assault.

Charles Michael

Good question
the period is circa 2000 and 9/11 did made it unanimous.

But this unanimity started with the collapse of the Soviet Union: one victor, one system. This reverberated in the political rigth/lefts tug of war, when in fact all two-parties électoral systems representing two, more or less, opposed conceptions, merged in fact in two governmental feuding team playing the same game.The epitome of this being Tony Blair (war criminal)
The concentration of multitude of medias in the hand of some billionnaires did help.

Unipolar word, unisex society, parti unique, TINA, end of history, and so on.

Karel Whitman

Mais, après la disparition du bloc de l’Est, il fallait impérativement reconstruire un ennemi étatique d’envergure qui puisse garantir la reproduction du complexe militaro-industiel, en garantir les millions d’emplois et les juteux dividendes.

Or as Condi Rice, the volcano, in an interview with Der Spiegel during her first German visit in 2005. Read as if she was quite elated, exited. Not verbatim, but close to it. I am sure:
After 1989 everyone asked himself, who would be our new enemy now? Then 9/11 happened and everyone knew.

If so, it may be more then an enemy "ennemi étatique", a larger regional, geostrategic one. Maybe?

David Habakkuk

PT and all,

A German site called ‘Rubikon’ – not hitherto known to me, with an interesting choice of name – published a longer discussion of Benjamin Norman’s ‘protocol’, and then a German translation of the original Al Akhbar article. Putting the translation from Arabic into German into English with Google Translate produces something quite coherent, although obviously one cannot be certain that the double translation has not introduced errors.

(See https://steemit.com/syria/@syrianaanalysis/the-planned-smashing-of-syria ; https://www.rubikon.news/artikel/lasst-uns-syrien-aufteilen .)

Some extracts from the discussion on ‘Rubikon’ are interesting, in some ways particularly so from a British point of view:

‘The meeting took place on January 11, 2018 in Washington. The participants were Hugh Cleary, head of the British Department of the Middle East, Jérôme Bonnafont, director of ANMO (Afrique du Nord et Moyen-Orient) and North Africa and the Middle East of the French Government, David Satterfield, Deputy Secretary of State the USA for the Middle East, as well as the Jordanian Nawaf Tell and the Saudi Jamal al-Aqeel…

‘According to the report, the Saudi participant warned of the risk of further splitting the opposition into different groups and called for help to ensure cohesion. Satterfield responded that opposition representatives “should be more concerned with finding a political solution rather than high salaries and long stays in pleasant hotels.” France supported this remark by emphasizing the necessary “communication”.

‘In this regard, according to the article [that in Al Akhbar – DH] , the Commentary is found in the British Protocol: “Unfortunately, the Fifth Republic does not intend to finance these efforts.” Britain recalled that “the opposition’s communication was financed primarily by Great Britain”.’

That ‘the opposition’s communication was financed primarily by Great Britain’ tallies with what is emerging about the British involvement in ‘StratCom’ – material which different people have posted in different places is going to be appearing on the site of the ‘Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media’ to which I referred in earlier comments, together with much fresh research.

(See http://syriapropagandamedia.org .).

My suspicion is that what may be lurking just beneath the surface of the document are French reservations about what the ‘Anglo-Saxons’, in collaboration with the Saudis, have been doing.

I am not convinced that the suggestion that ‘the opposition’s communication was financed primarily by Great Britain’ was in Norman’s ‘protocol.’ It sounds to me quite likely that someone involved in leaking this document had information about what was, in essence, a sharp exchange between French and British representatives, and wanted to make this public.

In passing, the figure credited with authorship of the ‘protocol’, Benjamin Norman. featured in the second of the ‘open letters’ I wrote to the members of the Commons’ Defence and Foreign Affairs Committees following the Khan Sheikhoun incident.

(See http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2017/04/the-urgent-need-for-boris-johnson-to-clarify-by-habakkuk-.html .)

Given the importance of the issues involved, it seems worth repeating what I wrote then, in response to claims made by our buffoon of a Foreign Secretary to the House of Commons on 18 April 2017:

‘What the Foreign Secretary told the House on Tuesday was that “we know from shell fragments in the crater that sarin had not only been used, but that it was sarin carrying the specific chemical signature of sarin used by the Assad regime.” Responding to the Khan Sheikhoun incident on 4 April, Mr Johnson asserted that “this bears all the hallmarks of an attack by the regime which has repeatedly used chemical weapons.”

‘So, what is the Foreign Secretary now suggesting? Is it that tests have shown that the “particular properties” of the sarin found in the samples purporting to come from Khan Sheikhun have been shown to match those of the materials whose destruction on the U.S. vessel MV “Cape Ray” was completed in August 2014? Or is it that they have been shown to match those identified by tests on samples from the incidents which have been adduced in support of the claim that the Syrian government ‘has repeatedly used chemical weapons’?

‘As I pointed out last week, precisely the contention of those who have argued that the 21 August 2013 atrocity at Ghouta was a “false flag” is that the test results on samples from that incident, and its predecessors, demonstrate that the sarin used there did not have the “particular properties” of that in the Syrian government arsenal.

‘Specifically, their case is that the results on tests from Ghouta incidents indicate that the sarin used there was, “not manufactured professionally” (“sasa wawa”, on the “Who Attacked Ghouta?” blog,), “homemade” (Sergei Lavrov, interviewed by the “Washington Post”), “kitchen sarin” (Seymour Hersh – in interviews on “Democracy Now!” and elsewhere).

‘The “chemical signature” of the sarin used at Ghouta, those who have argued that the incident was a “false flag” assert, was totally different from that of the high-quality toxin produced for the Syrian programme, intended to provide a “poor man’s deterrent” against Israel.

‘Before we can get involved in substantive arguments about the Foreign Secretary’s assertions, we really do need to clarify precisely what it is he and his officials are claiming. The only attempt I have seen at such clarification was made by Charles Shoebridge, a former army officer and Scotland Yard detective, on “Twitter”.

‘His attempt was provoked by a “tweet” from a British diplomat in Washington covering Syria and the Middle East, Benjamin Norman, repeating the Foreign Secretary’s claims. “Furthermore, ‘we know from shell fragments in the crater that sarin had not only been used’, but it was #Assad’s sarin”, Mr Norman “tweeted”. And he went on to add “Got cut off by Twitter character limits, but analysis of samples shows chemical markers of Assad’s sarin supply.”

‘The thread shows Shoebridge attempting to secure clarification, and in so doing putting the crucial question – which “chemical markers” were at issue. At 8.46 am on 19 April he “tweeted”: “Thanks for reply: To be clear, CW from 4.4.17 an exact match of @OPCW samples of old Syria govt sarin stocks?” At 12.48pm, Norman responded: “You’re welcome! Think it is a question of same markers, but will check.”

‘So, when the Foreign Secretary was making confident assertions to the House, a British diplomat in Washington specialising in Syria did not really have a clear idea what he was claiming. It is now 22 April, and Norman has provided no clarification. We still do now know precisely what HMG are suggesting the test results at Porton Down prove, and it is not clear whether the Foreign Secretary does either.’

Unsurprisingly, none of the – gutless – MPs to whom I was writing took up the questions I was raising. Subsequent claims in reports from the UN/OPCW ‘Fact-Finding Mission’ and ‘Joint Investigative Mechanism’ are rather transparent attempts to obfuscate these crucial questions.

So to find Benjamin Norman – another of those crooked British ‘retards’, (Andrei Lugovoi’s phrase) who so eagerly collaborate with equally crooked American ‘retards’, surfacing as the author of the ‘protocol’ referred to in PT’s post, is not surprising. The list of ‘usual suspects’ keeps growing: to Benjamin Norman we can add Christopher Steele, Robert Hannigan, Matthew Rycroft, Matt Tait, as well as successive heads of MI6, and as the Germans might say, usw.

Another interesting aspect of the reports of the reports of Norman’s ‘protocol’ is that, if true, they suggest a continued delusional optimism about the prospects of getting Russia to climb down in Syria. This assumption that one could always – to use a term beloved of Victoria Nuland and Strobe Talbott – get the Russians to ‘eat their spinach’, dies very hard.

The difficulties of bringing such delusional – and extremely unpleasant – people into contact with some kind of reality may be among the many factors relevant to Putin’s decision to focus in the most public possible way on what has clearly been a long-term Russian strategy to use asymetric means to nullify, at one and the same time, American attempts to use missile defence to establish an incontestable nuclear superiority, and American naval power.

Christian Chuba

BTW Tacitus, the link that you have displayed as http://prochetmoyen-orient.ch/syrieleaks-suites-propagande-et-dividendes/ has the link address

I was able to visit the website when I manually typed it in you may want to fix it.


(See http://syriapropagandamedia.org

A very, very interesting link. David, stored it when you linked a while ago. Looked at the circle/contributor. Definitively wish them and their highly interesting cross-fields-project the very, very best.

Babak Makkinejad

Even if Russia climbs down, Iran would not. In 1940, only Britain was fighting the war.


I think Benjamin Norman annoyed someone a lot. It is certainly not hard to imagine. I am pleased to have confirmed the view I had formed of his tweets, particularly pleased to have it confirmed by him.

David Habakkuk

In response to LeaNder @11,

I think that a lot of interesting stuff may be going to appear on the site. Making it possible for academics, journalists, and others interested in the propaganda aspect to ‘network’ may be very useful.

In passing, do you have sense of what kind of site ‘Rubikon’ is?

David Habakkuk

In response to Dmcna, comment 14.

I had another look at Norman’s ‘twitter’ output. It seems that he is doing precisely what it was suggested was going to be done according to the ‘protocol’ which it is alleged he authored. Among items he ‘retweets’ is one from the U.S. Embassy in Syria, with a slide quoting the ‘White Helmets’ head Raed Saleh, announcing: ‘It’s Putin Who Is Actually Ruling Syria, not Bashar Al Asad.’

In relation to the ‘White Helmets’, the ‘case for the prosecution’ was set out in detail in a presentation by the journalist Vanessa Beeley to the Swiss Press Club in Geneva back in November, with Richard Labévière also involved – available, together with links to a range of supporting material, at


The first appearance of the ‘Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media’ was in a letter submitted to the ‘Comment is Free’ section of the ‘Guardian’, and not published by them, in response to an article by Olivia Solon which attacked Beeley among others.

It claimed that critical discussion of the White Helmets in Syria has been ‘propagated online by a network of anti-imperialist activists, conspiracy theorists and trolls with the support of the Russian government’.

The article rejected by the ‘CiF’ was reproduced, together with an account of the failure of the ‘Guardian’ either to publish it or to defend their decision not to, on Tim Hayward’s blog in January. It contains links to material which calls into question the role role of the ‘White Helmets.’

(See https://timhayward.wordpress.com/2018/01/12/the-guardian-white-helmets-and-silenced-comment/ .)

There are interesting parallels between the history of that group, in which a key figure is the former British Army officer James Le Mesurier, and other operations with a strong ‘StratCom’ element in which former British military people have been involved, the ‘InCoStrat’ operation run by Paul Tilley, and the ‘Secure Bio’ one run by Hamish de Bretton-Gordon.

Evidence about these is presented on the page entitled ‘Talk: British Involvement in Syria’ on the ‘A Closer Look On Syria’ site.

(See http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Talk:British_involvement_in_Syria .)

So a great deal of other material ‘meshes’ with the suggestion implied by the comments attributed to Benjamin Norman, that the United Kingdom has a kind of speciality in ‘StratCom’ in relation to the attempts of Western powers to achieve ‘régime change’ in Syria. One advantage of this may be to keep such operations away from prying American eyes.

Concluding his demolition of the ‘Joint Intelligence Mechanism’ report into Khan Sheikhoun, also published on Hayward’s blog, Paul McKeigue writes:

‘The weight of evidence favouring the hypothesis of a managed massacre over a chemical attack has obvious implications also for the role of the White Helmets in this incident.’

(See https://timhayward.wordpress.com/2017/12/22/khan-sheikhoun-chemical-attack-guest-blog-featuring-paul-mckeigues-reassessment/ .)

This brings us back to a critical question about the ‘false flag’ chemical attacks in Syria, and in particular Khan Sheikhoun – that of whether the involvement of elements in Western élites is purely a matter of ‘ex post facto’ involvement in cover-ups, or whether ‘ex ante’ involvement in planning these operations may also be at issue.

And, of course, in relation to Benjamin Norman and other FCO people, prominent among them Matthew Rycroft and Boris Johnson, a question really does arise as to: ‘What did they know and when did they know it?’

It also seems to me quite possible that someone does not like Norman – and I would have every sympathy with them. Who it might be is an interesting question.

A difficulty is, I think, that although I have no doubt that there is a great deal of fire beneath the smoke of the Al Akbar report, it shows every sign of having been carefully constructed so as to obscure the real source of the leak. It is also by no means impossible that some element of distortion of the contents of the ‘protocol’ was involved.

It is said to have been prepared for the FCO, but ‘point 20’ suggests it was directed to David Satterfield, the Deputy Secretary of State for the Middle East. Meanwhile, what nobody has so far provided are cogent reasons why the document should not be released in full.

But then, it is not uncommon for this kind of leak to involve a mixture of accurate and inaccurate information, creating a kind of ‘snooker.’ So Norman is not in a position to say: yes I did complain about the French not paying for ‘StratCom’, but it wasn’t in the ‘protocol.’ And that complaint does sound to me authentic.


David, have you seen this:
Yes, Newsweek & RT, Syria’s Regime uses Chemical Weapons
By contributors | Mar. 5, 2018 |
By Brian Whitaker | ( al-Bab.com) |
Mattis explained that there were “reports from the battlefield” from people who claimed sarin had been used. but added: “We do not have evidence of it. But we’re not refuting them; we’re looking for evidence of it.”

He said the American suspicions of renewed sarin use arose partly out of the Assad regime’s previous behaviour: “they were caught using it” during the Obama administration (a reference to the Ghouta attacks in 2013) and “they used it again” after Trump became president (Khan Sheikhoun in 2017).

. . .
In 2014, however, a fact-finding mission from the OPCW concluded “with a high degree of confidence” that chlorine had been used:

“Thirty-seven testimonies of primary witnesses, representing not only the treating medical professionals but a cross-section of society, as well as documentation including medical reports and other relevant information corroborating the circumstances, incidents, responses, and actions, provide a consistent and credible narrative.

“This constitutes a compelling confirmation that a toxic chemical was used as a weapon, systematically and repeatedly, in the villages of Talmanes, Al Tamanah, and Kafr Zeta in northern Syria. The descriptions, physical properties, behaviour of the gas, and signs and symptoms resulting from exposure, as well as the response of the patients to the treatment, leads the FFM [Fact-Finding Mission] to conclude, with a high degree of confidence, that chlorine, either pure or in mixture, is the toxic chemical in question.”



A convincing -- and rather frightening -- description of American "deciders:" http://www.unz.com/article/the-implications-of-russias-new-weapons/
"American power elites, the majority of whom have never served a day in uniform nor ever attended serious military academic institutions and whose expertise on serious military-technological and geopolitical issues is limited to couple of seminars on nuclear weapons and, in the best case scenario, the efforts of the Congressional Research Service are simply not qualified to grasp the complexity, the nature and application of military force."


I didn't need a British protocol to understand that future Western policy in Syria is going to be "eternal war". It's the only response, faced with defeat. We've heard a lot of it in the media recently.

The question is: does it mean anything? Evidently, no. The Syrians advance slowly, but surely. The BBC, yes them, is very negative about the future of Ghouta. The Syrians are close to cutting the pocket in two. Meyssan, living in Damascus, says the Spetsnaz have arrived. If true, that has to be to avert a US/Israeli coup on Damascus, quite possible. They are not needed for the Ghouta battle.


Sorry, I didn't notice. nq is Laguerre.


David, looking at it pretty superficially a German: multicultural, live-and-let-live crowd. ... lots of "friends" there ...

Founded in April 2017. Thus strictly they could be anti-Trump? But seem to or may have become more active due to dissent on both Ukraine and Syria matters too.

Again: Writers base contains lots of "mental friends". Or people whose names are familiar/'friends' or known from my interior favorite inquiry "bases" over here. Although I wasn't familiar with it before.

High up on Google: Apparently "Rubikon" caught the attention of de.Wikimannia too. (....?) Which seems to be a more restricted attempt at multi-language challenge to Wikipedia---the French Right opting out?--seemingly more nationally interested. National focus, no interest to translate across language barriers I can see. Meaning no efforts in this case to get the collected knowledge across to others. Like you.


There is an Swiss article on the web more or less observing media matters, which I would like to send you via Google translate. Unfortunately it contains a couple of plays with words/Wortspiele which Google translate cannot handle.

In a nutshell, it may be open beyond its multicultural basis to a basic left-right/Querfront/English:Third Position information flow as to information. But as I wrote above, may at least on first sight basically come from "the evil multi-cultural mindsight" or camp.



Beyond struggling as others to gain public attention?

No time to proofread

Col. B. Bunny

The "rapprochement, not only of the United States and Israel"? When were the two estranged?

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