21st Century Wire
With reference to activist Clara Connolly’s article entitled ‘Beeley in Bristol,‘ I’d like to raise a few concerns. Her article contains some wildly spurious claims about an event which was held in Bristol on 17 February 2017 entitled, “Aleppo: Fall or Liberation?” The event was hosted by Bristol Enquiry into the UK bombing of Syria, and it involved a presentation given by independent journalist Vanessa Beeley, during which she shared first-hand experiences and observations gathered during a recent visit to Aleppo.
Clara Connolly is member of the group known as “Syria Solidarity Movement UK” (SSUK). She was present at the meeting and so was I. I would like to add that I was not involved in the organisation of the event; I attended as a member of the public with no ties to any official organisation. In her article, Connolly gives her account of what allegedly happened during the presentation, and she also produces a litany of falsified statements regarding the veracity of Vanessa’s presentation and the larger picture of Syria.
These weak premises upon which ‘truths’ are built by the newly emerging pro-war, or pro-military intervention ‘social justice warrior’ fraternity, are indicative of their characterisation of the current situation in Syria. Vanessa’s presentation contained a plethora of information, most of it direct evidence collected on the ground inside of Syria, which indicates that the western media narrative on Syria is patently false. She showed that the people in East Aleppo were not under total siege from Syrian government troops, but were in fact being held hostage by western-funded and armed mercenaries and internationally recognised terrorists who adhere to extremist ideologies and are hell bent on tearing Syria to shreds, which is of course works in lock-step with their sponsors in the corridors of power in Washington, London, Paris, Riyadh and Ankara (and others).
‘One Syrian Solidarity UK (SSUK) member stood up and asked why the audience found it funny that hospitals were being bombed and medical workers killed. He then asked Beeley whether she supported hospitals being bombed, as she didn’t seem to be bothered.’
Connolly then says that the protester was removed in a chokehold by several of the organisers. She then claims two more of her cohorts, presumably from SSUK were also ‘removed in the same manner.’
This is NOT what happened at all.
Firstly; A bearded man with dark hair and glasses, who was sat to my right one a row in front, jumped up and started shouting loudly and aggressively at Vanessa, throwing wild accusations at her and the rest of the audience. According to him, we all found the bombing of hospitals amusing, which couldn’t be further from the truth.
Simultaneously, a man who claimed to be Syrian and was sat along the side wall of the venue also jumped up and started yelling, calling everyone ‘Assad apologists’ and evoking Nazism as an analogy for the current system of rule in Syria. The whole effort looked extremely contrived, as the two acted in concert to disrupt the meeting.
They were told that they would be welcome to ask questions during the Q & A session at the end of the presentation, as is both the norm and etiquette at such events. They were asked to calm down, but they refused to sit down or stop shouting. There was a third man on the front row who was also trying to chime in, however he evidently didn’t have quite the vocal capacity to be heard over the top of his friends.
The bearded man who Connolly claims was ‘put in a chokehold,’ actually walked out by his own volition, as did his associate from the front row. It was the actor on the sidelines, who by this time was giving a rather grand theatrical performance, who refused to stop shouting and ranting. After several minutes and still no de-escalation on his part he was removed from the venue at the proprietor’s request, as is the proprietor’s legal right to do so.
By Connolly’s own admission the police couldn’t find fault with the method of removal; if I created such disruption at a public meeting, then I wouldn’t be surprised to be removed from the venue. The organisers of the event tried in vain to get the man to calm down in the spirit of free speech and democracy, they tried to get him to stay and have his chance to debate, but he was not interested. Disruption was his only goal.
Connolly sat quietly throughout the fracas towards the front of the audience, awaiting her opportunity in the Q & A. She did get her chance to ask a question, which seemed to ramble on into several questions simultaneously, gradually flourishing into a full monologue that the BBC would have been proud of.
The usual script was reeled off about ‘Assad the despot,’ and the need for humanitarian intervention by us civilised westerners, with numerous statistics being used from dubious sources such as Amnesty International and the imaginatively titled Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), which should perhaps take the more fitting name: the Coventry observatory for human rights.
I can understand her perception of the Q & A was that it was short, because she dominated most of it, in fact she never gave Vanessa a chance to answer her questions because they weren’t questions; they were a series of grandiose statements read from a script. The truth is: we’ve heard it all before; the BBC, Channel 4, CNN, The Guardian et al.
We’ve had enough of the tired old tropes and the predictable lexicon; Connolly and her friends were only repeating what these institutions put out on a daily basis, so I say Clara; save your breath, why have a dog and bark yourself? The reason most of us attended the meeting that evening was to listen to a different perspective from a person who has actually taken the time to travel to Syria, unlike many of these ‘journalists‘ who sit comfortably at their desks, writing scripts for the new age melodrama. We’re still smarting over the now proven lies given as pretexts for the invasion of Iraq and Libya and we’re not buying it this time.
Connolly’s ‘analysis’ of the presentation
Connolly focusses on several points made by Beeley during her presentation and tries to disprove them, more often than not by making claims which bizarrely need little effort to disprove via a simple internet search.
Firstly, Clara tries to contradict Vanessa’s evidence that extremist jihadi groups besieged East Aleppo, by making the odd statement that Al Nusra were not even in Aleppo until 2016 and ISIS hasn’t been there since 2014. A simple google search of Al Nusra in Aleppo or ISIS in Aleppo yields page after page of links to articles which refute Connolly’s claims, even reports written by her beloved Amnesty International and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
It seems odd to make such outlandish claims which can be disproved with the the mere click of a button. In addition to the multitude of reports detailing the presence of these extremist groups, Vanessa corroborates this with eye witness accounts from people who had arrived at the relative safety of the Jebrin registration centre, in newly liberated East Aleppo.
Connolly’s attempt to downplay the presence of these groups is also cruel, and does an injustice to the people who lived for years under the yoke of their oppression. One has to wonder about the purpose of trying to refute such blatant evidence, but of course if one admits the presence of jihadi groups in East Aleppo, then according to international law this legitimises the Syrian Arab Army’s actions in getting rid of them.
Connolly talks of Vanessa’s ‘pseudo-science’ in relation to Barrel bombs. This in itself is an irony given the fact that most of the barrel bomb data that has been amplified by the corporate media, are at best pseudo-science, and at worst total fantasy. In her presentation, Vanessa quite sensibly questioned a claim made by various ‘expert’ sources that ’35, 000 bombs’ have been dropped on East Aleppo each generating seismic waves measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale.
The ‘expert’ claim is rather far fetched, especially as the ‘little boy’ atom bomb measured a magnitude of 6.5. I think to anyone who has an ounce of common sense Vanessa’s point is extremely valid, but this isn’t my bone of contention with Connolly at this time. Her claim that the ‘experts’ had used ‘earthquake’ force not ‘atoms bombs,’ is an attempt to support these ‘experts’ and discredit Vanessa; it is an outrageously naive statement, because seismic waves are seismic waves no matter the source. A meteorite could strike and the Richter scale would be used to measure the magnitude of the impact.
21st Century Wire article on Barrel Bomb Iconization: Consign Barrel Bombs to the Propaganda Graveyard
Connolly shows extreme short sightedness and an inability to fully grasp the meaning of what is going on around her; indeed, I would expect a GCSE physics pupil to be more perceptive. May I suggest that if such a small step in logic is too much, maybe sitting down is the better option. Furthermore on the claim about barrel bombs and their impact, I have searched google scholar and several other sources to find this ‘expert opinion,’ but there is nothing in any published physics paper. It is mentioned briefly in a social science paper on global governance, but I can find nothing about a physical science study or experiment which would yield the data. Barrel bombs have become a pro-war trope, adding fuel to the fires of interventionism and faux-humanitarianism, thus the regime changers must protect the special status of the ‘barrel bomb’ in their pro-war lexicon….
Connolly bemoans Vanessa’s critique of the ‘young gun mavericks’ of the rescue world; the omnipotent (in ‘unmoderate rebel’ held areas) and lavishly funded by NATO and Gulf states, White Helmets, for whom there is a multitude of information bringing into serious doubt their integrity and credibility.
I’m not going to give a broad discussion of the White Helmets, but a concise video can be viewed here. I would like to focus on her claim that The White Helmets are ‘free Aleppo’s’ emergency service. This statement was supposed to contradict Vanessa’s valid question about why the White Helmets are not seen anywhere else in Syria apart from in these Jihadi, proxy-mercenary controlled areas, her reports, of course pointing to the fact that they are intrinsically linked.
For more information on the White Helmets read 21st Century Wire’s articles: Who are Syria’s White Helmets?
Please follow this link: which will take you to the White Helmets website where they vaguely claim that they operate in ‘Syrian neighbourhoods,’ there is no mention of working in or being exclusive to Connolly’s imaginary ‘free Aleppo’ area, which is what she insinuated in an attempt to explain why the White Helmets are not seen elsewhere in Syria.
Slide taken from Vanessa Beeley’s presentation on Syria. White Helmet operatives in East Aleppo, photo taken from their website end of Ocober 2016, 10 days before Raed Saleh, head of the White Helmets made a statement to Reuters, that inhabitants of east Aleppo face starvation or death.
Even the White Helmets themselves contradict Connolly as she tries to defend them. They have never been seen in the majority civilian-occupied areas of Syria, as Vanessa has stated, so why don’t they just admit they only operated in East Aleppo and other terrorist occupied enclaves? Because, I’m sure that would raise more questions than answers.
Again, we see the usual bias as the White Helmets homepage specifically talks about government aggression with no mention at all of the several extremist groups who hijacked the 2011 uprising and brought Syria to its knees. So much for neutrality. And so much for Connolly’s flawed statement about the White Helmets’ alleged base of operations. Also, ‘free Aleppo’ is a massively spurious statement and seriously at odds with a plethora of eye witness accounts of the disgraceful conditions that the people of East Aleppo were living under thanks to their terrorist captors.
In another erroneous paragraph, the confused Connolly writes about an audio clip played by Vanessa in which Vanessa contacts the International Civil Defence Organisation (ICDO) to discuss the supplantation of the official Syrian Civil Defence html link on the ICDO website, with a link to the White Helmets.
Again, Connolly is sadly mistaken when she writes that Vanessa had telephoned the Syrian Civil Defence to speak to them. In the clip Vanessa clearly contacts the ICDO and speaks to someone in order to verify exactly which organisation is the bona-fide rescue service in Syria, The White Helmets or The real Syrian Civil Defence; it was affirmed by the ICDO that the White Helmets are most definitely not. I suggest that if you can’t follow the thread of information as it is being disseminated, you should maybe think twice about a critique of what you think you heard and saw.
Connolly continues with her ‘analysis.’ She notes that Vanessa implied that Al Quds was not a designated or ‘official’ hospital and directs the reader to a Medicins Sand Frontiers (MSF) article in order to bolster her argument. If anyone would like to read the original 39 page MSF report on the bombing of Al Quds, they would see that despite the report’s desperate attempt to implicate government troops in the attack and a painstaking and repetitive attempt to persuade the reader that Al Quds was a protected medical facility under International Humanitarian Law, the report also acknowledges, thus contradicting itself, that there were no official co-ordinates for the hospital and no official hospital status had been designated.
Again, as we see is becoming the norm when reporting on Syria, the facts become a footnote to the fiction. It is perfectly reasonable in mainstream media and even in Non Government Organisation (NGO) reports, to omit reliable source material and use unverified references and accounts from biased sources. Even if one were to acquiesce to Connolly’s viewpoint, as she gives a heart-warming description of field hospitals set up in the face of adversity, then how on earth would the government know it was targeting a hospital? The emotive rhetoric surrounding the bombing of Al Quds was employed to convince the western audience that the Syrian government had deliberately targeted a hospital; yet this claim is refuted even by the institutions which tried to amplify the ‘tale of Al Quds.’ Yet again, we see contradiction after contradiction being canonised as truth.
Clara in Cuckooland?
When one reads Connolly’s previous articles and about her various undertakings, it is difficult to piece together a coherent picture of what she actually stands for. Here we see an article written by Connolly, which clamours for a no-fly zone in Syria, yet her beloved Amnesty International, whom she quoted several times during the meeting on the 17th in order to bolster her anti-Assad argument, printed a 22 page document highlighting the FAILURE of the March 2011 no-fly zone in Libya.
How noble an act for Amnesty to analyse the devastation of the no-fly zone, which it did nothing to prevent the implementation of, and how nice it is that Connolly calls for yet another portal to destruction in Syria. It is now common knowledge that Libya was crippled by a sectarian bloodbath after NATO’s ‘humanitarian bombing’ campaign which was enabled by the ‘no-fly zone.’ Surely anyone with reasonable intelligence would assume the same thing would happen in Syria.
But according to Connolly, catastrophic failures of the past must be repeated. I do find this attitude to be at odds with her association with Women Against Fundamentalism; why support an action which would more than likely lead to an increase in sectarianism and fundamentalism? I assume that bandwagon must be in the repair shop, as Connolly continues to overlook the bubbling cauldron of sectarian intent, as it threatens to boil over and scald the pluralist and secular people of Syria.
It is a sad sight to see people fall for the ruse of ‘R2P’ (responsibility to protect) interventionism, which seems to have become an invisibility cloak for neo-colonial advancement. Connolly’s article and attitude in general seem to be typical of the pro-war social justice warriors of today. More often than not we see ill informed people quoting statistics from compromised and discredited institutions, whose previous credibility was considered almost sacrosanct, yet as Sharmine Narwani writes here that credibility is becoming more dubious by the day.
Connolly’s article is littered with wild claims and statements which are falsifiable by doing the most basic of internet searches. I have laboured on what some may consider to be minutiae, however, if the details are incorrect then what about the bigger picture Connolly tries to paint about Assad and Syria?
You can’t build a house on quicksand, I’m afraid. How bizarre it is that these ‘humanitarian interventionists’ find themselves sharing some of the same goals as the terrorists inside Syria, primarily, ISIS and Al Qaeda. I’d like to think that Connolly really does believe she is doing the right thing, but as the evidence mounts against western media deception, and as Connolly and her ilk at Syria Solidarity UK continue to ignore it, it does bring into question people’s motives for desperately clinging to the decks of the clearly sinking ‘SS Intervention.’
For Vanessa Beeley’s presenation in London, at the Marx Memorial Library on 1st March 2017, WATCH ~
Lara Llewellyn is a member of Frome Stop War and has participated in promoting various events, which have provided a platform for independent journalists and investigators. Her background is in biological science and environmental management. She is shortly due to commence a bachelor’s degree in podiatric medicine.
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