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Syria, Foreign Arms, Terrorists & Syria Today: An Interview With Vanessa Beeley

In todays video, I spoke to Vanessa Beeley, an independent journalist who has covered the Middle East for the last decade and most specifically Syria. We spoke about the foreign interference in the so called "Syrian civil war", the Western/Gulf armed foreign terrorists and the constant rebranding of these groups in the media. We also discussed the current state of Syria, the occupations, sanctions and the reemergence of Syria on the international stage, with the normalising of relations in the Arab League. Vanessa is the daughter of former British diplomat Harold Beeley and has lived in Syria for the last 4 years and reported on the ground in Syria, during the conflict.


Vanessa Beeley is an independent journalist and photographer who has worked extensively in the Middle East - on the ground in Syria, Egypt, Iraq and Palestine, while also covering the conflict in Yemen since 2015. In 2017 Vanessa was a finalist for the prestigious Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism which was won by the much-acclaimed Robert Parry that year. In 2018 Vanessa was named one of the 238 most respected journalists in the UK by the British National Council for the Training of Journalists. In 2019, Vanessa was among recipients of the Serena Shim Award for uncompromised integrity in journalism. Vanessa contributes regularly to Mint Press News, Russia Today, UK Column, The Last American Vagabond, and many other independent media outlets. Please support her work at her Patreon account.

Please feel free to comment if I have missed any links in the show notes.

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Show Notes

"AQI supported the Syrian opposition from the beginning, ideologically and through the media.. AQI conducted a number of operations in several Syrian cities under the name Al Nusra, one of its affiliates… If the situation unravels there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria. And this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want in order to isolate the Syrian regime" Department of Defense, ‘Information Report 14-L-0552/DIA), August 2012 Judicial Watch Page 3

"former DIA chief Michael Flynn – who had been in the post at the time the report was circulated in 2012 and remained there until 2014 – quite remarkably not only confirmed in a July 2015 Al-Jazeera interview that the report had crossed his desk but also explained that he ‘paid very close attention... the intelligence was very clear.’ When asked if the US government’s decision to ignore the intelligence was deliberate or accidental he then stated: ‘I don’t know that they turned a blind eye, I think it was a decision. I think it was a wilful decision.’ As if this was not enough, when the incredulous interviewer asked Flynn to clarify whether he meant there was a decision in the US government knowingly to support such extremist groups, the former DIA chief doubled down by confirming ‘it was a wilful decision to do what they’re doing.’ Moreover, when he was then asked why he did not try to stop arms transfers to the Salafist principality while in office he replied: ‘I hate to say this... but it’s not my job" Al-Jazeera, ‘Head to Head: Who is to blame for the rise of ISIL?’, 29 July 2015 Michael T Flynn, the former head of the US Defense Intelligence Agency, on how to deal with ISIL and Iran (interview minute 11-13)

"He said Americans ″are held in direct contravention of international law. Many of them reportedly staked out as human shields near possible military targets, brutality that I don’t believe Adolf Hitler ever participated in anything of that nature."" Bush Says Saddam Even Worse Than Hitler TOM RAUM AP News November 1, 1990

"We asked Lord Richards whether he knew that Abdelhakim Belhadj and other members of the al-Qaeda affiliated Libyan Islamic Fighting Group were participating in the rebellion in March 2011. He replied that that “was a grey area”. He added that “a quorum of respectable Libyans were assuring the Foreign Office” that militant Islamist militias would not benefit from the rebellion. He acknowledged that “with the benefit of hindsight, that was wishful thinking at best.”.

The possibility that militant extremist groups would attempt to benefit from the rebellion should not have been the preserve of hindsight. Libyan connections with transnational militant extremist groups were known before 2011, because many Libyans had participated in the Iraq insurgency and in Afghanistan with al-Qaeda." House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee Libya: Examination of intervention and collapse and the UK’s future policy options Third Report of Session 2016–17 Report, together with formal minutes relating to the report Ordered by the House of Commons to be printed 6 September 2016 Page 13

"Instead, Mr. Obama decided to make the rebel training program a “covert action” run by the C.I.A. He signed a secret finding allowing the agency to begin preparing to train and arm small groups of rebels in Jordan, a move that circumvented the legal issues and allowed the White House to officially deny it was giving the lethal aid. Besides the legal worries, there were other concerns driving the decision to make the program a secret. As one former senior administration official put it, “We needed plausible deniability in case the arms got into the hands of Al Nusra.” Obama’s Uncertain Path Amid Syria Bloodshed October 22nd 2013 NYT

"Abu Kumayt, a fighter with the Syrian Revolutionaries Front who said he fought in the battle under cover, gave a slightly different version. He said that groups with the antitank missiles fought alongside Nusra fighters and under their command — but that only Nusra and its Islamist ally Ahrar al-Sham were allowed to enter the base when it fell. Nusra, he said, lets groups vetted by the United States keep the appearance of independence, so that they will continue to receive American supplies.

His group’s commander, Jamal Maarouf, has been unable to enter Syria since his fighters were driven from their base in Idlib Province this fall. In his house in Reyhanli, near Antakya, he blamed anemic Western support and a mistake that he and other fighters made: They initially welcomed Nusra’s foreign jihadists, believing that they would help bring victory. No F.S.A. faction in the north can operate without Nusra’s approval,” Mr. Maarouf said, adding that the front had either bought or terrorized F.S.A. fighters into compliance. “Nusra cannot cover every area so they still need them. But once they take control, they will confiscate all weapons or oblige those factions to pledge allegiance.”As Syria’s Revolution Sputters, a Chaotic Stalemate December 27th 2014 NYT

"From: Jake Sullivan

To: Hillary Clinton

Date: 2012-02-12 09:01

Subject: SPOT REPORT 02/12/II

The Good and Bad of Ahrar Al-Sham: An Al Qaeda-Linked Group Worth Befriending By Michael Doran, William McCants, and Clint Watts January 23, 2014

"Question: The former director of the CIA, Robert Gates, stated in his memoirs that the American intelligence services began to aid the Mujahideen in Afghanistan six months before the Soviet intervention. Is this period, you were the national security advisor to President Carter. You therefore played a key role in this affair. Is this correct?

Brzezinski: Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahiddin began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan on December 24, 1979. But the reality, closely guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention [emphasis added throughout].

Q: Despite this risk, you were an advocate of this covert action. But perhaps you yourself desired this Soviet entry into the war and looked for a way to provoke it?

B: It wasn’t quite like that. We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.

Q : When the Soviets justified their intervention by asserting that they intended to fight against secret US involvement in Afghanistan , nobody believed them . However, there was an element of truth in this. You don’t regret any of this today?

B: Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter, essentially: “We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war." Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war that was unsustainable for the regime , a conflict that bought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.

Q: And neither do you regret having supported Islamic fundamentalism, which has given arms and advice to future terrorists?

B : What is more important in world history? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some agitated Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?

Q : “Some agitated Moslems”? But it has been said and repeated: Islamic fundamentalism represents a world menace today...

B: Nonsense! It is said that the West has a global policy in regard to Islam. That is stupid: There isn’t a global Islam. Look at Islam in a rational manner, without demagoguery or emotionalism. It is the leading religion of the world with 1.5 billion followers. But what is t h ere in com m on among fundamentalist Saudi Arabia , moderate Morocco, militarist Pakistan, pro-Western Egypt, or secularist Central Asia? Nothing more than what unites the Christian countries…" The Brzezinski Interview with Le Nouvel Observateur (1998), University Of Arizona

"The initial message about the Syrian issue was that we always wanted [President] Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran,” he said. This was the case, he said, even if the other “bad guys” were affiliated to al-Qaida. “We understand that they are pretty bad guys,” he said, adding that this designation did not apply to everyone in the Syrian opposition. “Still, the greatest danger to Israel is by the strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut. And we saw the Assad regime as the keystone in that arc. That is a position we had well before the outbreak of hostilities in Syria. With the outbreak of hostilities we continued to want Assad to go.” 'Israel wanted Assad gone since start of Syria civil war' SEPTEMBER 17, 2013 Israel’s outgoing ambassador to the US Michael Oren told The Jerusalem Post in a parting interview

"For Jerusalem, the status quo, horrific as it may be from a humanitarian perspective, seems preferable to either a victory by Mr. Assad’s government and his Iranian backers or a strengthening of rebel groups, increasingly dominated by Sunni jihadis. "This is a playoff situation in which you need both teams to lose, but at least you don’t want one to win — we’ll settle for a tie,” said Alon Pinkas, a former Israeli consul general in New York. “Let them both bleed, hemorrhage to death: that’s the strategic thinking here. As long as this lingers, there’s no real threat from Syria.” Israel Backs Limited Strike Against Syria September 5th 2013 NYT

"Nusra Front, however, hasn’t bothered Israel since seizing the border area last summer—and some of its severely wounded fighters are regularly taken across the frontier fence to receive treatment in Israeli hospitals… Only about one-third of the Syrians treated in Israel, however, were women and children. An Israeli military official acknowledged that most of the rebels on the other side of the fence belong to Nusra but said that Israel offered medical help to anyone in need, without checking their identity. “We don’t ask who they are, we don’t do any screening…Once the treatment is done, we take them back to the border and they go on their way,” he said." Al Qaeda a Lesser Evil? Syria War Pulls U.S., Israel Apart Mountaintop on edge of Golan Heights illustrates complexities. WSJ March 12th 2015

"Ah yes of course, that must have been why the US initiated *in 2013* its biggest rebel/proxy assistance effort in decades— a program that lasted until mid-2017. The covert program was worth $billions, coordinated with 14+ countries & worked with 80+ FSA groups across #Syria."Charles Lister Tweet

"What my constant cry was that our biggest problem was our allies. Our allies in the region were our largest problem in Syria. The Turks were great friends, and I’ve a great relationship with [Turkish President Recep] Erdoğan, who I’ve just spent a lot of time with, the Saudis, the Emiratis, etc. What were they doing?

They were so determined to take down Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war, what did they do? They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad, except that the people who were being supplied were al-Nusra, and al Qaeda, and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world. If you think I’m exaggerating, take a look. Where did all of this go? So now what’s happening? All of a sudden, everybody is awakened because this outfit called ISIL, which was al Qaeda in Iraq, which when they were essentially thrown out of Iraq, found open space and territory in eastern Syria, work with al-Nusra, who we declared a terrorist group early on, and we could not convince our colleagues to stop supplying them. So, what happened?

Now, all of a sudden [now that ISIS has taken over western Iraq]—I don’t want to be too facetious—but they have seen the lord. Now we have—the president’s been able to put together a coalition of our Sunni neighbors, because America can’t once again go into a [Sunni] Muslim nation and be the aggressor. It has to be led by Sunnis. To go and attack a Sunni organization. And so, what do we have for the first time? Now Saudi Arabia has stopped the funding from going in. Saudi Arabia is allowing training on its soil of American forces under Title 10, open training. The Qataris have cut off their support for the most extreme elements of the terrorist organizations. And the Turks, President Erdoğan told me—he is an old friend—said, “You were right; we let too many people through. Now we are trying to seal the border.” VP Joe Biden 2014 talk to Harvard University Delivers remarks on foreign policy min 53:10




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