Leaked documents reveal a widespread media disinformation campaign against Syria launched by Western parties (Part -3)

  • US-UK program Basma cultivates Syrian media activists

The Syrian opposition media war was organized within the framework of a project called Basma. ARK worked with other Western government contractors through Basma in order to train Syrian opposition activists.

With funding from both the US and UK governments, Basma developed into an enormously influential platform. Its Arabic Facebook page had over 500,000 followers, and on YouTube it built up a large following as well.

Nine of the 16 stringers used by Al Jazeera in Syria were trained through the US/UK government’s Basma initiative, ARK boasted in a leaked document.

In an earlier report for the UK FCO, filed just three years into its work, ARK claimed to have “trained over 1,400 beneficiaries representing over 210 beneficiary organizations in more than 130 workshops, and disbursed more than 53,000 individual pieces of equipment,” in a vast network that reached “into all of Syria’s 14 governorates,” which included both opposition- and government-held areas.

Outputs in the fourth phase will vary according to capabilities and requirements, but it is expected that previous experience will include the following: Poster campaigns (public expectations, recognition of the Free Syrian Army, and accountability).

One handout (FCA Rules of Engagement and the Role of the Supreme Military Council (SMC).

Popular expectations of the Free Syrian Army, the heroes of the Free Syrian Army, the rules of engagement in the ranks of the Free Syrian Army

Costs for these products are presented but not budgeted.

Softening the image of the Free Syrian Army, posters before, November 8, 2012 / Posters after November 9/2012 /.

** Basma actually did a limited re-branding of the Free Syrian Army, which was well received.

(ARK) will use its existing communications networks inside Syria and benefit from Basma’s vast experience in developing and publishing content, as shown below.

The Western contractor published a map highlighting the network of reporters and media activists and their relationships with the White Helmets as well as the newly created police forces across Syria, under the control of the opposition.

ARK worked for three years on Syrian soil as a specialized programming company, with access to a wide range of networks in Syria.

ARK trained more than (210) beneficiary organizations in more than (130) workshops, and consumed more than (53,000) pieces of individual equipment. This network reaches all 14 governorates in Syria, including liberated areas under the control of the state or areas under the control of extremists.

It includes senior Syrian opposition politicians, armed groups, civil society organizations, and ordinary Syrian citizens. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • (61) correspondents, (17) teams distributed on Syrian territory.

  • (14) FM radio station, (11) social magazine, two local TV stations.

  • (17) civil defense teams in Aleppo and (16) in Idlib.

  • (58) police stations in Aleppo, (32) in Idlib, and (8) in Lattakia.

  • (10) Syrian field researches, (60) Syrian researchers who can conduct a large-scale demographic survey (in May 2014, a survey of 1,300 individuals was reached), which is a database of more than (800) individuals.

  • Dozens of local councils, judicial courts, documentation centers, and a number of other organizations.

During the training period, ARK developed the capacity of opposition spokesmen, trained them in how to speak to the press, and then helped arrange interviews with mainstream media in both Arabic and English.

ARK has become known through the success of its programs and the strength of the relationships and partnerships that it has worked to build for more than (3) years.

More than (30) Syrian media institutions, prominent activists and opposition figures support in their messages ARK Foundation and its Syrian media project and thanks Basma “for its support.

The opponents expressed their desire to continue cooperation with ARK, on behalf of the governments.

ARK enables the design and implementation of Syrian communications programs based on a detailed local understanding, reaching out to popular voices and amplifying them and focusing on strengthening local partnerships and beneficiaries wherever possible.

(ARK) revealed its strategy to “identify credible and moderate spokespersons who will be promoted as personalities with a presence in discussion sessions in regional and international media.

They will echo the key messages associated with coordinated local campaigns across all media, with consortium platforms able to cover these messages as well and encourage other media outlets to pick them up. ”This, in addition to working with the international press and nurturing opposition leaders, ARK helped develop a massive opposition media structure.

ARK indicated that this was an“ outlet. ” The main effort of the donor parties, according to which a network of FM radio stations has developed and social magazines have been published inside Syria since 2012.

The contractor worked with 14 FM stations and 11 magazines inside Syria, including both Arabic- and Kurdish-language radio.

To propagate opposition broadcasts across Syria, ARK designed what it called “Radio in a Box” (RIAB) kits in 2012. The firm took credit for providing equipment to 48 transmission sites.

ARK also circulated up to 30,000 magazines per month. It reported that “ARK-supported magazines were the three most popular in Aleppo City; the most popular magazine in Homs City; and the most popular magazine in Qamishli.”

A Syrian opposition propaganda outlet directly run by ARK, called Moubader, developed a huge following on social media, including more than 200,000 likes on Facebook.

ARK printed 15,000 copies per month of a “high-quality hard copy” Moubader magazine and distributed it “across opposition-held areas of Syria.”

The British contractor TGSN, which worked alongside ARK, developed its own outlet called the “Revolutionary Forces of Syria Media Office (RFS),” a leaked document shows.

This confirms a 2016 report in The Grayzone by contributor Rania Khalek, who obtained emails showing how the UK government-backed RFS media office offered to pay one journalist a staggering $17,000 per month to produce propaganda for Syrian rebels.

Another leaked record shows that in just one year, in 2018 – which was apparently the final year of ARK’s Syria program – the firm billed the UK government for a staggering 2.3 million British pounds.This enormous ARK propaganda operation was directed by Firas Budeiri, who had previously served as the Syria director for the UK-based international NGO Save the Children.

40 percent of ARK’s Syria project team were Syrian citizens, and another 25 percent were Turkish.

The firm said its Syria team staff had “extensive experience managing programs and conducting research funded by many different governmental clients in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Yemen, Turkey, the Palestinian Territories, Iraq and other conflict-affected states.”

To be continued…

  • Source: The Gray Zone, translated to Arabic by : Maha Kasim (almayadeen.net)

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