From the Kosovo Protection Corps in the Balkans to the White Helmets of Syria, a group of well-connected people with the fundings of governments and elite billionaires have sought to wage a war on public opinion and have recently exploited Jo Cox’s death to do so.
by Vanessa Beeley and Whitney Webb
Part 6 - Ayman Asfari extends influence in Syria
In May 2016, the Asfari Foundation (covered in part 1 of this series) teamed up with the Said Foundation to raise money for the Hands Up for Syria Appeal. The Asfari and Said Foundations matched the £ 3.997 million that was raised for “millions of young children” deprived of an education during the seven-year conflict in Syria. Speakers at the event included then-British Prime Minister David Cameron; David Miliband — President and CEO of International Rescue Committee; and actress Cate Blanchett, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador. Prince Charles sent a video message emphasizing the importance of education to the rebuilding of Syria.
Again there was no mention of the root cause of the issues being highlighted. Money was effectively raised to treat the symptoms of the British imperialist project inside Syria that violates international law on many counts. Why would the British monarch-in-waiting have any involvement in the “rebuilding” of a sovereign nation that his successive Tory governments have, alongside their allies in the U.S. coalition of proxy terror, systematically destabilized and weakened?
The money raised will be funneled into Idlib via the Hands Up Foundation, which claims to raise money for “vital health services” in North West Syria, a region infested with all manner of extremist and terrorist groups. Many of those groups have been evacuated to Idlib from liberated areas of Syria such as East Aleppo and Eastern Ghouta, increasing the numbers of armed, hostile groups in the area. It is worth remembering that OPCW refused to enter this area after the alleged chemical attacks in Khan Sheikhoun April 2017 because the risk of beheading or kidnapping was too high.
Hands Up Foundation operates in partnership with SAMS (Syrian American Medical Society), which works with the White Helmets alongside the controlling extremist factions where they are based. SAMS is a predominantly Chicago based, Muslim Brotherhood organization that receives copious funding from USAID, the U.S. State Department outreach agent for CIA clandestine operations against target nations. USAID has also donated $31 million to the White Helmets via Chemonics, one of its many subcontractors.
While 85 percent of inhabited Syria under Syrian government protection and control suffers under the weight of U.S./U.K./EU imposed sanctions that have targeted the Syrian state health sector, Hands Up Foundation is raising money for “medical salaries” of $150,000 per year at a health clinic “south of Aleppo.” Another project claims to be raising $105,000 for “medical training” in Idlib City, which was invaded by Nusra Front (Al Qaeda) in March 2015 — an invasion that resulted in the summary executions of civilians who were deemed “Shabiha,” a term that designates loyalty to the Syrian government, state and Syrian Arab Army. The White Helmets were filmed alongside the terrorist fighters, celebrating and participating in brutality against civilians.
According to Hands Up Foundation accounts for 2017, it has received a three year organizational development grant of £150,000 from the Asfari and SAID Foundations, “central” to achieving its aims in Idlib. While HUF makes claims of transparency and a document trail to recipients of its funding, there is nothing available to that effect on the website. Money is raised through its Syrian Supper Club, Marmalaid, and Singing for Syrians projects.
HUF focuses on three medical clinics, one in Reyhanli on the Turkish border and two inside northern Syria, in partnership with SAMS, which also operates in these areas. The placement of these clinics is important and will be examined in greater depth in Part 4.
The Said Foundation also appears to be involved in the training of paramedics in the same region of Syria — at the Bab Al Hawa hospital, in partnership with U.K.-registered charity Syria Relief. While the White Helmets are not mentioned, it is safe to assume that this “aid” will be heading their way. The screenshot is from an archive of this page on the Said website, as it now requires a “login” to view the information.
The clusters of medical centers supported by these foundations and charities are based exclusively in areas occupied by and under the control of U.S. coalition-backed armed groups. How do we know that the funding is not ending up in the hands of those groups as part of the “moderate opposition” bankrolling scheme?
Syria Relief comes under the umbrella of UOSSM (Union of Medical Care and Relief Organisations), founded in France in 2012. UOSSM makes the same lofty claims as the White Helmets: “To support the health and well being of individuals and communities affected by the Syrian crisis regardless of nationality, ethnicity, gender, religion, or political affiliation.” The Union includes SAMS. In my experience of entering the hospitals of East Aleppo after liberation in December 2016, SAMS and UOSSM stickers and logos could be seen on the walls of all the medical centers that had been overrun and requisitioned by Nusra Front, Ahrar Al Sham and other extremist groups. Those hospitals included the infamous M10 hospital next door to Nusra Front and White Helmet headquarters in Sakhour, East Aleppo.
Again and again, we demonstrate the close-knit regime-change community, as diverse as it is deadly for Syria and the Syrian people, who have endured seven years of war owing largely to the efforts of these organizations to sustain the narratives that dupe people in the West into believing in the case for “humanitarian” intervention. An intervention that obfuscates the underlying causes while amplifying the fraudulent cover stories for another neocon destabilization campaign in Syria.
The diversity and complex branding of all these foundations, think tanks, organizations, NGOs, and associated charities can be compared to the rebranding of the terrorist groups, in particular Nusra Front (Al Qaeda). It serves to confuse, to bury the evidence of involvement in questionable activities deep inside the soft-power-complex underbelly.