Co-conspirators in the Propaganda War on Syria: Liz O’Bagy and the Syrian Emergency Task Force

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The Syrian war has raged on for years now, and I doubt that anyone observing from the outside would have expected the country’s leader -Bashar al-Assad – and his Syrian Arab Army to still be fighting on today. Isn’t he meant to terrorise his people? That’s what Obama and the western media would like us to think – that he’s an evil dictator, the ‘new Hitler’ (before Putin was again), who slaughters peaceful protesters and gasses babies just for the hell of it. Sure there are some extremist elements in the opposition…Assad clearly took advantage of the chaos by stamping out the “moderate” rebels and allowing ISIS to flourish, thus sending the grateful Syrian citizenry running back into his open arms. However some quick research reveals a different narrative: one in which the UK media is guilty of not just providing a biased account, but has been actively collaborating in the fabrication of ‘evidence’, used to frame the Syrian government for abhorrent crimes against humanity. Here is the first in a long list of some of the dubious people involved in selling this story to the West:

Elizabeth O’Bagy

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Elizabeth O’Bagy is a former senior analyst at American think tank the Institute for the Study of War, who was fired from this role for committing job fraud. In August 2013 the Wall Street Journal published an impassioned editorial by O’Bagy, that described her numerous trips to Syria, and hours spent with the “moderate” rebels battling Assad’s army. An extracts read:

Moderate opposition groups make up the majority of actual fighting forces, and they have recently been empowered by the influx of arms and money from Saudi Arabia and other allied countries, such as Jordan and France. This is especially true in the south, where weapons provided by the Saudis have made a significant difference on the battlefield, and have helped fuel a number of recent rebel advances in Damascus.

Thanks to geographic separation from extremist strongholds and reliable support networks in the south, even outdated arms sent by the Saudis, like Croatian rocket-launchers and recoilless rifles, have allowed moderate rebel groups to make significant inroads into areas that had previously been easily defended by the regime, and to withstand the pressure of government forces in the capital. In recent months, the opposition has achieved major victories in Aleppo, Idlib, Deraa and Damascus—nearly reaching the heart of the capital—despite the regime’s consolidation in Homs province.

At this stage in the conflict, barring a major bombing campaign by the U.S., sophisticated weaponry, including anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapon systems, may be the opposition’s best chance at sustaining its fight against Assad. This is something only foreign governments, not jihadists, can offer. Right now, Saudi sources that are providing the rebels critical support tell me that they haven’t sent more effective weaponry because the U.S. has explicitly asked them not to.

There is no denying that groups like Jabhat al Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham have gained a foothold in the north of Syria, and that they have come to dominate local authorities there, including by imposing Shariah law. Such developments are more the result of al Qaeda affiliates having better resources than an indicator of local support. Where they have won over the local population, they have done so through the distribution of humanitarian aid.

Yet Syrians have pushed back against the hard-line measures imposed on them by some of these extremists groups. While I was last in northern Syria in early August, I witnessed nearly daily protests by thousands of citizens against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham in areas of Aleppo.

Clearly we can see that O’Bagy was calling for the US government to – if not intervene directly – send advanced weaponry to these moderate groups in order to raise their chances against both the Assad regime and jihadist forces. Her knowledge of the political landscape inside Syria was then used as evidence by John Kerry and John McCain during a Senate hearing that discussed the possibility of US military intervention in the war-torn country. Not long after this, O’Bagy was dismissed from her position at the nonpartisan Institute for the Study of War – due to having lied about possessing a PhD, and for her undisclosed affiliation with the Syrian Emergency Task Force – a State Department funded lobbying group that’s sole purpose is to advocate for regime change in Syria.

Syrian Emergency Task Force

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The SETF’s wikipedia page states:

The Syrian Emergency Task Force (SETF) is a United States based organization that advocates for the armed overthrow of the government of Syria.

The group’s primary activity is advocating for U.S. military involvement in the Syrian Civil War through congressional office visits, media awareness campaigns, and organizing junkets for key U.S. foreign policy decisionmakers.

The group’s website states that it recently organised a trip to Syria for Senator McCain (who also hired O’Bagy as an assistant) to meet commanders of the “moderate” Free Syrian Army, and posted this incriminating photograph:

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The man standing in the doorway is Mohammad Nour, a spokesman for the Northern Storm Brigade – a faction of al-Nusra Front, ie. al-Qaeda in Syria. It has been claimed that standing behind McCain is ISIS Caliph al-Baghdadi (though I believe this to be false). To the right is Mouaz Moustafa, the SETF’s executive director. Another photo shows these same individuals holding a meeting with Brigadier General Idriss Salem, head of the Free Syrian Army:

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These images highlight the lack of credibility in O’Bagy’s WSJ lamentations that there are truly moderate rebel factions inside Syria. Instead, all these various groups – FSA, al-Nusra, ISIS – are one and the same: made up of the same individuals and going under different guises at any given moment, existing only to destroy an independent and secular society.

A look at Moustafa’s profile tells us all we need to know about his desire to “help” the Syrian people:

Mr. Moustafa was born and raised in Damascus, Syria before moving to the US as a teenager. He is the current Executive Director for SETF, Political Director for UFS (United For a Free Syria), as well as a board member of the Coalition for a Democratic Syria (CDS). As former staffer for Congressman Vic Snyder and Senator Blanche Lincoln, Mr. Moustafa spent four and a half years working in Congress before leaving to work briefly with Egyptian opposition. Mr. Moustafa also worked with the Libyan Revolution. During this period, Mr. Moustafa was the Executive Director of the Libyan Council of North America (LCNA), Political Director of the Libyan Emergency Task Force (LETF), and worked closely with top officials within the Transitional National Council (TNC). Mr. Moustafa joined SETF in the fall of 2011 to help advocate on behalf of the pro-democracy movement in his native Syria. Moustafa boasts an extensive network of Syrian activists, opposition figures, and FSA commanders with whom he is in regular contact.

These connections highlight not only that Moustafa is a serial lobbyist for regime change, but that he is inextricably linked to jihadist causes such as the Muslim Brotherhood. We all know how western funded regime change worked out for Libya. Additionally, other staff members of SETF include Toby Cadman, a British-based lawyer who previously served as defense attorney to members of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, a Bangladesh militant group whose leaders were recently convicted of war crimes, including genocide and rape, by the country’s International Crimes Tribunal. Does not sound promising.

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On a somewhat contradictory note however, the Syrian Emergency Task Force has also been accused of being a front for Israeli interests (reblogged below); sectarian chaos in Syria has certainly been good for the Jewish state, most recently diverting attention away from Israel’s actions in Gaza.

What all this extremely confusing and contradictory information seems to suggest is that DC/Wall Street interests and Islamic jihad are colluding in a scheme that is mutually beneficial…the ousting of the Assad regime would leave Syria free to be carved up by the west for financial exploitation, whilst al-Qaeda extremists implement their new society based on Sharia law. It will also provide America with their long-desired ‘path to Persia’; all the while disguised to the public as a humanitarian operation.

Sources:

Elizabeth O’Bagy: On the Front Lines of Syria’s Civil War:
http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887324463604579044642794711158

The Inside Story Of How A Fake PhD Hijacked The Syria Debate
http://thinkprogress.org/security/2013/09/11/2601151/exclusive-mccain-kerry-cited-syria-analyst-false-credentials/

Syrian Emergency Task Force:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syrian_Emergency_Task_Force

SETF: Meet the Staff:
http://syriantaskforce.org/index.php/about-us/washington-dc-staff

Did an Israel lobby front group organize McCain’s trip to Syria?:
http://thepassionateattachment.com/2013/06/04/did-an-israel-lobby-front-group-organize-mccains-trip-to-syria/

John McCain, Conductor of the “Arab Spring” and the Caliph:
http://www.voltairenet.org/article185085.html

Meet the Syrian Islamist Organization Controlling Senator McCain’s Agenda:
http://www.frontpagemag.com/2013/dgreenfield/meet-the-syrian-islamist-organization-controlling-senator-mccains-agenda/

Syria: As the bombs fall, the people of Damascus rally round Bashar al-Assad:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/10770311/Syria-As-the-bombs-fall-the-people-of-Damascus-rally-round-Bashar-al-Assad.html

Brookings’ “Which Path to Persia?”:
http://landdestroyer.blogspot.co.uk/2011/02/brookings-which-path-to-persia.html

The Truth Behind Syria:
http://truthbehindsyria.tumblr.com/

Friends of Syria:
http://friendsofsyria.co/

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