With the endorsement of an Oscar award-winning documentary, Syria’s White Helmets, now calling themselves the Syrian Civil Defense, are right where their promoters want them to be: serving as the face of a force supposedly “independent” from the government and from those interested in dismembering this Arab nation.
It is not a question of taking this up with the filmmakers or judges, who may be as uninformed as the rest of the public, as this would amount to repeating the recurring strategy of global power centers, who while attempting to destroy their enemies, also work to discredit their institutions.
“We were happy our sacrifices were shown and the suffering of our people could reach many people across the globe,” stated representative of the White Helmets Abdel Rahman Hassan, his voice shaking, upon learning that the 40-minute Netflix film directed by Orlando von Einsiedel had won the Oscar for best short documentary.
Helping those in need is a just cause. However, there is no shortage of information that casts doubt on the true intentions of those who created and support the White Helmets in Syria; especially considering that the armed conflict there plays out with similar intensity in both the military theater of operations and the media.
In no way linked to the homonymous institution attached to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Argentina, which provides humanitarian assistance to dozens of countries, these new White Helmets were founded in Turkey in 2013 by James Le Mesurier, a former British Army officer who, after serving in Northern Ireland, Kosovo, and Bosnia, went on to work for humanitarian organizations in the United Nations, the European Union and the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office. He later dedicated his efforts to the private sector, working for several security companies in the United States and the Persian Gulf, some with strong connections to the Blackwater private security contractor, responsible for widespread torture and murder in Iraq, following the 2003 U.S. occupation.
Several sources point to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) as the main financier of the Syrian White Helmets, with contributions of at least $23 million, in addition to the funding from the United Kingdom and Denmark.
While they claim to be impartial, so far the White Helmets have only been seen to operate in areas controlled by groups such as the al-Nusra Front, linked to Al Qaeda. In fact, they seem more concerned with showing civilian casualties attributed to Syrian Arab Army attacks, than the obvious devastating effects on both sides of a six-year war.
Other analysts rightly question the veracity of their actions, having detected clear signs of staging in their alleged rescues broadcast in online videos. Swedish Professors & Doctors For Human Rights (SWEDHR) described as fake the procedures they observed in a video made public by the White Helmets, in which they purportedly fought to save the life of a child following chemical attacks attributed, without any proof, to the Syrian government.
“The syringe used in the ‘intracardial injection’ performed on the male infant was empty, or its fluid was never injected into the child,” concluded a study conducted by these European experts. After making their report public, SWEDHR executives reported that they had been subject to threats.
Although they claim to be the face of Civil Defense in the Arab country, Marianne Gasser, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delegation to Syria, recently clarified: “We have no direct contact with the White Helmets even when we cross the frontlines to go to opposition-controlled areas. They did not ask for our support, we did not ask for their support.” Both the Red Cross and Red Crescent maintain that the infrastructure of the governmental Civil Defense, which existed in the city of Aleppo on being occupied by terrorist groups, likely served as the initial logistical base for the White Helmets.
The group’s pacifist credentials were once again called into question when the U.S. State Department failed to provide a convincing answer as to why Faoruq Habiela, the public face of the organization, was denied a visa for posing a threat to U.S. security, despite Washington being its main source of funding.
It could be that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was attempting to make a point against the Trump administration on selecting those who were unable to attend the awards ceremony because of executive orders that banned the entry of Syrian citizens into the country. Nevertheless, whether this was the case or not, the award was an explicit favor to the enemies of the authorities in Damascus.
The promoters of regime change in Syria operate with a marked emphasis on the terrain of symbolism and connotations, today presenting a self-proclaimed “impartial” organization to the world, appealing to universal feelings such as compassion. They deliberately conceal their real intentions while simultaneously inflicting additional damage on those interested in helping the Syrian people, beyond any political inclinations. They have even provided arguments to those who want to overthrow governments and at the same time contaminate the concept of an alternative, which does not necessarily equate to being against the government.