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  Opinion   Oped  13 Apr 2018  Spies & White Helmets: The real story of Ghouta

Spies & White Helmets: The real story of Ghouta

The writer is a senior journalist and commentator based in New Delhi
Published : Apr 13, 2018, 2:54 am IST
Updated : Apr 13, 2018, 2:54 am IST

The US President announces troop withdrawals from Syria just when the Saudi Crown Prince is visiting him

US President Donald Trump (Photo: AP)
 US President Donald Trump (Photo: AP)

The messy events of East Ghouta south of Damascus are subsequent to a story which appeared on my blog four days ago. To grasp what really is happening in Ghouta, let’s pick up the narrative from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s crucial visit to the United States in circumstances infused with high drama.

The Crown Prince announced in the course of an interview to Time magazine in New York that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would not be toppled. “Bashar is staying”, he said. He added, in parenthesis, that “American troops should stay for at least the short term, if not the long term.”

This last bit of advice to the Americans was obviously an immediate response to what Donald Trump had earlier announced in Ohio. He said that US troops would be pulled out of “that war-weary country” very soon.

The US President announces troop withdrawals from Syria just when the Saudi Crown Prince is visiting him. MBS goes one better. He makes the entire Saudi policy since the beginning of the Syrian war stand on its head.

The chorus is joined by UN Secretary-General António Guterres. Addressing the UN Human Rights Council, he thumps the table and screams with emotion. What is happening in Ghouta, south of Damascus, is “hell on earth” and that “it must be stopped”.

Immediately, fingers are pointed at him. Does the description “hell on earth” apply only to Ghouta, and not what the world saw in Aleppo, Idlib, Mosul, Fallujah, Yemen? After all, hundreds of thousands of migrants have walked, sailed, drove to Europe to escape the unspeakable horrors of Syria, Libya, even Iraq. No one saw the Secretary-General do the tandav then. He was not heard screaming. “hell on earth”. There must be something special about eastern Ghouta. What is it?

Sifting details, a narrative does emerge in sharper profile. Syrian intelligence picks up chatter which suggests that the “opposition” to President Assad was planning the biggest attack of the Syrian war on Damascus.

Tanfs, on the Syrian side of the border with Iraq (Al Waleed is on the other side), serves as an American base. To grasp the plan a map of Syria, bordering Iraq, Jordan and Israel, would help. About 30,000 trained militants, in small batches, were to move along the border with Jordan, looping around Daraa towards Quneitra, the Golan Heights, looking for passages into Ghouta. This is where the White Helmets were to play a key role.

Media audiences may be forgiven for imaging that the White Helmets are variants of Doctors without Borders, the Red Cross, and so on. This precisely is the way they have been projected in the global media. Let me give you an example.

On October 12, 2016, Christiane Amanpour of CNN places in Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov’s hand a photograph of a four-year-old Syrian boy with a burnt face. This is in the course of an interview with Mr Lavrov, who looks at the photograph and mutters “very sad”. In the same interview he says openly that the US is helping the Nusra Front.

On October 20, the same photograph is flourished by Hillary Clinton during the final presidential debate with Mr Trump in Las Vegas.

Ms Clinton even simulates a lump in her throat while dwelling on the Russian perfidy in Syria.

Now, let’s turn to Vanessa Beeley, of the 21st Century Wire website, and her alternative narrative. She paints the White Helmets in lurid colours. According to her and a host of alternative media, the White Helmets are a part of the West-led anti-Syrian war effort. Given Saturday’s outrage in Ghouta, agencies like the Associated Press are predictable: “The opposition-led first respondents, known as the White Helmets, are giving out details of entire families suffocated... etc.” But the alternative media has quite credibly established the White Helmets as part of the opposition to the Syrian government.

Let us return to that burnt boy. The alternative media posts visuals of the very same “burnt boy” being strapped to a chair in a mobile studio even as cameramen produce pictures which find their way to Amanpour and Ms Clinton during shows with a record viewership. It is a frightening reality.

Now let’s revert to the plan to take Damascus. As thousands of trained “rebels” close in on the Syrian capital, the White Helmets, who, according to Beeley, are also false flag specialists, will detonate poison gas or something worse which the global media (also part of the operation) amplifies as the greatest detonation since Bikini Island. What is all this building up to — a US-led aerial campaign. This is what the mainstream media is pushing President Trump to do.

Mr Trump, meanwhile, has cast himself as Prince Hamlet — to do or not to do? By the time this appears we may have an answer.

As often happens with American plans, the plan to attack Damascus leaked. The leakage of the mega plan left the Syrians and Russians with no option but to go for broke on Ghouta. The White Helmets also went full throttle, with their propaganda amplifiers. The world saw the horrors of the Syrians and Russians ram into Ghouta with “barbarity”.

In the course of that military action, the Syrian Army captured intelligence officers working out of a full-fledged control room in Ghouta. This, as I indicated in an earlier paragraph, is what was “special” about Ghouta. “American, Saudi, Israeli, Jordanian intelligence officers were in Assad’s captivity.” And, who knows, under pressure, they may sing like canaries.

This is what caused President Trump and MBS to change their scripts on Syria. But the Deep State in Britain, Israel and elsewhere is hopping mad. They will not allow the script on Syria to be altered so easily. With apologies to Tennyson — Ours is not to reason why. But to do, and let them die!

Tags: saudi crown prince mohammad bin salman, bashar al-assad, donald trump, east ghouta