The Middle East Eye has lately ran copies of what it says were leaked confidential documents revealing the role played covertly by the United Kingdom (Britain) in fabricating، organizing، and launching what was falsely dubbed as “the Syrian Revolution”.
The documents، it has obtained، reveal how British contractors recruited Syrian citizen journalists – often without their knowledge – to promote ‘moderate opposition’، it says.
These revelations provide an insight into how Britain has used contractor companies to recruit، train and supervise “citizen journalists”، some of them were unaware whose interests they were serving.
Authored by Ian Cobain and Alice Ross، an article published by the Middle East Eye on February 19، said that the British government has covertly established a network of citizen journalists across Syria in the early years of the war in an attempt to shape perceptions of the conflict، frequently recruiting people who were unaware that they were directed from London.
According to these documents، the propaganda initiative began in 2012 and gathered pace the following year، shortly after the UK parliament refused to authorize British military action in Syria. Drawing upon British، American and Canadian funding، UK government contractors set up offices in Istanbul and Amman، where they hired members of the Syrian diaspora، who in turn recruited citizen journalists inside Syria، MEE said.
These journalists، many of them young، were commissioned to produce TV footage، radio programs، social media، posters، magazines and even children’s comics، in exchange for some money، it added، noting that many of these recruits were often unaware they were part of a covert British propaganda initiative.
Although some of the Syrian collaborators had to undertake in writing to remain anonymous، unless expressly authorized، and not to divulge their links with any company.
These materials would then be distributed to Arabic language media organizations، through what purported to be the press offices of Syrian “opposition” groups. “Then that would go to Sky News Arabia، BBC Arabic، Al Jazeera، Al Arabiya، those sort of outlets،” one person involved told MEE. According to MEE، the documents were drawn up as blueprints for the initiative by an “anthropologist” working in counter-terrorism at the Foreign Office in London.
They were issued in late 2014 to a small number of communications companies that were invited to bid for three contracts to deliver the work. Some of these nine or so companies included a number of firms established by former diplomats، intelligence officers and army officers.
Although the contracts were awarded by the UK’s Foreign Office، they were managed by the Ministry of Defense and sometimes by military intelligence officers. The main objective was to serve the British interests in the Middle East and beyond.
The recruited journalists were not allowed to talk to the public or to the media unless they get a clearance from the British Consulate in Istanbul، MEE said.
And they had to sign a document not to disclose any information about their links to these firms. According to Cobain، the British government has adopted such a covert propaganda program in order to secure a presence and have an access into Syria، until it was able to directly engage militarily.
Around the same time that the initiative was being developed، the British government “loaned” a number of its pilot to US، French and Canadian air forces enabling them to take part in combat missions against Syrian targets، despite the country’s parliament having voted against such actions. However، Britain’s enthusiasm for this involvement seems to have waned when it became clear that Assad and his allies were winning.
And funding for the “initiative” started to dry up.
Thierry Meyssan picked up the story few days later and in an article he ran on Voltaire.net، he credited Ian Cobain for several pieces of information، pointing out that “good-faith” journalists had been led by the “rebels” (who were in fact Turkish and NATO secret services) to attend and film rallies held by the so-called “Syrian Free Army” in Jabal al Zawiyah، many of them were intoxicated and believed it was a “popular uprising”.
But when Daniel Iriarte denounced this production in the Spanish daily ABC، because he recognized on the sport that these individuals were not Syrian but Libyan fighters under the orders of Abdul Hakim Belhaj and Mehdi Harati، the press refused to admit there was any manipulation.
The journalists’ failure to admit their mistake even when some of their colleagues show them they are wrong، remains the best asset of the masters of propaganda.
The British RICU (Research، Information and Communications Unit) had recourse to an ”anthropologist” to supervise the manipulation. It entrusted its implementation to several subcontractors، including former MI6 officer، Colonel Paul Tilley.
The word “former” is important here as it means that he can deny any responsibility if the operation went wrong.
To get closer to the field، three ad hoc offices were opened by MI6 contractors in Istanbul، Reyhanli (Turkey) and Amman (Jordan).
It was placed under the command of an MI6 officer، Jonathan Allen، who became the number two in the British diplomatic delegation to the Security Council at the UN. And the operation، led inter alia by Innovative Communications & Strategies (InCoStrat)، is that it is presented as a business partnership with no links to the UK authorities، Meyssan added.
The anthropologist who supervised the program also indicated the need to create emergency services on the ground (the Free Police and the White Helmets of the ’former’ MI6 officer James Le Mesurier) and similar so-called “civil society” organizations.
Meyssan agrees with Cobain that Britain’s objective was to influence the public opinion and the behavioural attitudes in Syria، but he thinks that MEE should have known that Britain did not consider the Muslim Brotherhoods as “enemies”.
It labeled them as “moderate anti-imperialists” and its actions were basically focused on fighting the nationalists and Ba’athists. He also believes there was a disagreement between the US and the UK.
According to him، the UK had conceived the “Arab Spring” operation on the model of Lawrence of Arabia’s “Great Arab Revolt” (the Muslim Brotherhood now playing the role of the Wahhabis of World War I).
Their propaganda was therefore designed to create New Syria around this Brotherhood.
Therefore، when Washington tried to create “Sunnistan” with Daesh and “Free Kurdistan” with the Turkish PKK and Iraqi Kurdish Democratic Party، the British، saw this was no longer their war and decided to withdraw.
The source : (Middle East Eye) and (Voltaire.Net)