Protestors condemn Russian involvement in atrocities in Aleppo





Wellington, NZ, 16 December  – About three dozen people attended a rapidly organised protest outside the Russian Federation’s sprawling  embassy in Messines Rd, Wellington.

The protest was organised  by Syrian Solidarity New Zealand and supported by local members of International Socialist Organisation (ISO). The gathering soon doubled in size from a dozen people to around three dozen;


Syria - Aleppo - Russia - russian embassy - Socialist International


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Various signs gave a simple message, demanding an end to violence, killings, and support for refugees;












Some made a pointed link between state-sponsored oppression in Syria and in Gaza;




Behind an iron barricade, the flag of the Russian Federation fluttered from a pole that, a quarter of a century ago, was adorned with it’s Soviet predecessor;




Flags may change, but super-power imperialism remains a stubborn constant.

Gayaal was the first speaker to address the protestors;




Gayaal thanked people for attending the protest in front of what he called sovereign Russian territory;

“We have come here to remind Putin and to remind  the Russian state that even if Aleppo falls, the Syrian revolution will not not be defeated. The people of Aleppo, who have already sacrificed so much heroically to maintain their freedoms, will never be the same.”

He said,

“We are here to send a message from people in New Zealand to the Russian government and to Putin and to al-Assad that the struggle will continue.”

He said the protest was called to show solidarity with the Syrian people in their darkest time in history. He led the protestors in chants that would have been heard throughout the Embassy buildings;

Free Free Syria

Putin Putin you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide

Down Down Assad

Blood blood blood on your hands

The next speaker was “Ani”;




“We are here because the greatest refugee crisis this generation has ever seen has just got substantially worse… We’ve seen this extreme escalation of what’s happening  in Aleppo, people wanting to evacuate but being held up at the same time by Iranian militias.”

Ani sheeted home blame to Russian adventurism,

“We need to be really clear that this is Russian imperialism that’s  backing up al-Assad.”

He said that the US was “actually very marginal to what was happening in Syria”,

“If we want to talk about the US then we can talk about Iraq or Palestine. And we can certainly draw comparisons  between Syria and Palestine. They are a besieged people.  They are a people that are being exterminated  and that extermination is backed up by an empire. But like the Palestinian people the Syrian people are revolutionary, they are fighting back. So even if Aleppo falls, the revolution  will not fall.”

He said,

“We need to stand up with the Syrian people as revolutionaries… we need to stand with the Syrian people who are fighting for their rights.”

Ani said he would be taking up a collection of donations which would be passed on to the “White Helmets”, a community-based organisation in Syria who, under extreme conditions facing constant bombardment  and gunfire, helped to dig people from the rubble of collapsed buildings.

Ani was followed by Daniel;




Daniel accused Russian and Syrian government forces of indiscriminate attacks on civilians;

“As we know, Russia and al-Assad’s forces are known to target humanitarian facilities, hospitals, to bombardments so as to make the lives of the people of Aleppo unbearable. This is the largest humanitarian crisis of our lifetime, and possibly one of the greatest refugee crisis.”

Daniel said that a message should be sent to the New Zealand government;

“Refugees are streaming out of Syria, across the world. The West has a responsibility to open it’s doors to these people, having substantially caused the problems of imperialism that are now affecting these people’s lives. So New Zealand has a role to play to allow these refugees to re-settle and live among us here in peace.”

Daniel led a loud chant,

“Refugees are welcome, racists are not!”

Daniel accused (President)  al-Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies of waging unremitting war against the people of Syria, to crush a popular uprising. He read from a a piece written by US socialist, Ashley Smith;

“They subjected Eastern Alleppo to a siege to starve the people and force them to flee.”

Daniel said that from a population of two million people, there were now only a quarter of that number remaining.

“In  the past month, al-Assad’s forces moved in for the kill. Everything from the schools, to hospitals, to homes have been bombed.”

He accused al-Assad’s forces of killing not only so-called “terrorists” but untold numbers of civilians,

“His regime is responsible for the vast majority of the 400,000 of lives lost in the five years of warfare.”

Daniel said that five million refugees had been forced to flee to nearby countries for safety.

He said,

“al-Assad had to take to this kind of barbarism to crush the revolution that began in 2011. It was a popular, pro-democracy uprising. Just as legitimate as the other rebellions against the atrocities throughout the rest of the Middle East and North Africa collectively known as the Arab Spring. Syrians rose up against al-Assad’s dictatorship organising a tide non-sectarian, multi-ethnic demonstrations throughout the country. al-Assad responded to the the uprising by sending his police and military to fire on peaceful protests.”

He said that activists had been hunted down, arrested, and tortured in what he described as “Syria’s vast gulag of prisons”. Gayaal said that the regime’s slogan had been “Either al-Assad or we burn the country”. He said that instead of deterring the revolt, al-Assad’s opponants had been forced to take up arms in self-defence. He said that whole sections of the military had defected to form the Free Syrian Army.

Daniel said that liberated areas of Syria had;

“The popular revolt and armed resistance liberated large areas of the country, where local co-ordination committees and regional local councils were set up to begin to re-elect democratic Syrian society democratically, from below.

Russia, with the aim of protecting itself as an imperial power in the region, deployed it’s air force targeting, not ISIS as it claimed, but Syrian revolutionaries. Indeed, 90% of Russian bombing runs were carried out against targets other than ISIS.”

Daniel pointed to a “bizarre division amongst the Left”,

“Where claiming that everything coming out of the mainstream media, because it’s controlled by the US, must be in the US imperialist’s interest. But instead,  the response to this is to parrot Russian propaganda, al-Assad’s propaganda!”

He said that as soon as the rebellion had started, al-Assad had started claiming that the revolutionaries were puppets and funded by US imperialist interests.

Daniel dismissed that claim and insisted the uprising against al-Assad remained a popular cause.

Daniel also called on the government to increase New Zealand’s refugee quota, saying it remained the lowest in the world per head of capita. He said it was apalling that the number of refugees had been 750 for decades. He was disgusted that Australia, with it’s racist policies toward refugees, still accepted more refugees than New Zealand did.

Daniel concluded by saying,

“So we’re here to day to stand in solidarity with the people of Syria, with Aleppo, to call for a stop to the massacre of people of Aleppo, and to allow refugees free movement out of the country.”

The next speaker was “Karam”;




Karam thanked people for coming to the protest to stand in solidarity with his country. He said that he was not only Syrian, but came from Aleppo;

“That’s Eastern Aleppo, the part that has fallen recently under attacks from the regime.”

Karam said,

“I do believe we are protesting in front of the right place. Although there are so many other places we need to protest in front. It’s Russia that started in September 2015 bombing civilians and bombing moderate opposition  [rebels] while claiming to be targeting terrorists. While in fact all they have been doing is supporting Assad to stay in power.”

Karam made the point of differentiating the roles played by imperial super powers in Middle East affairs,

“We might be protesting in front of the American embassy, but not for the Syrian issue. Maybe for the Iraqi issue. But for what’s taking place in Syria, it’s Russia. Solely, basically, the one [Russia]  that’s killing civilians and the one that’s supporting a dictator who has been ruling this country for sixteen years, who inherited it from his father, who ruled the country for thirty years!”

He described how Bashir al-Assad had assumed power in Syria, even to the point of the country’s constitution being amended to permit  34 year old al-Assad to become President. The constitution specifically forbade anyone under 40 from assuming that role. That criteria was changed overnight from “40” to “34”. [See also: Bashar Al Assad – Ten years later ]

Karam  was derisory of the gangsters ruling his country calling them “dirty thugs”.

“Shomi” from International Socialist Organisation then addressed the protestors;




Shomi said that the Russian Embassy had blood on their hands and said;

“This popular  up-rising was that close to actually over-throwing Assad and it was only with the military backing of Russia that prompted Assad to make a comeback. That’s how close the revolutionaries were to actually succeeding in Syria.”

Shomi described the massacres we were seeing today in Aleppo “as an absolute outrage” and condemned the New Zealand government for it’s inaction;

“Here, in Aotearoa, we need to be quite firm in saying that the New Zealand government, whilst they’re quite happy to talk about this in the United Nations forum, have done absolutely nothing to actually  condemn Assad.

I think the New Zealand government has been absolutely atrocious. We need  to be putting the pressure on the government here to be increasing, not doubling, but quadrupling the refugee quota, if that’s that it takes. Because they have  a played a hand in being silent about the massacre that’s been happening Syria.”

Shomi criticised the Left parties for being silent on Syria, saying;

“Where are the Left parties? We’d like to see more condemnation of what is happening Syria. We need to have a huge anti-war movement globally, to show  we  stand in solidarity with the people of Syria!”

Shomi read out graffiti that was left on a wall in Aleppo;

“This is graffiti  as people were being bombed by Assad, by Russia, and by Iran as well. Here is the graffiti that was left;

‘We will return, Aleppo. Our destroyed buildings are witness of our resistance and you criminality!’

And that is why it is so important that we’re standing here outside the Russian. They are war criminals and they have blood on their hands!”

Shomi concluded with another round of loud anti-Assad, anti-Russian chants.

Phil was the last speaker to address the protest;




Phil said he was  a member of  the NZ Labour Party, and said that this demonstration  would have “huge support from the public in general”. He said that his daughter had been collecting for UNICEF for Syria and the public had expressed their support for the Syrian peoples’ struggle. He pointed out that more people would have attended the protest, had it not been called at such short notice.

Phil referred to the Arab Spring coming to “some fruition” in five countries in the Middle East and said that it”can’t simply be attributed to terrorists”.

He said it was a “huge lie to describe the opposition to Bashir al-Assad as simply terrorist opposition”.

The protest concluded with loud chants;

“Russia out of Syria!”

Toward the end of the protest, a lone policeman arrived in a police stationwagon to talk with ISO organisers,






There was a short, amiable conversation with “Ani”, who assured the constable that the protest was peaceful. The constable’s main concern that the driveway remain clear should vehicles passing through the Embassy gates;




As with previous protests, it was regrettable that the constable was seen to be carrying a weapon – a yellow taser;




The presence of the policeman was fortunate, as one of the protesters collapsed through sudden ill-health. He assessed the situation, and it was decided that a friend would drive the woman directly to hospital rather than wait for an ambulance.



Note1: Thanks to Daniel for follow-up information. (Some corrections to factual errors have been made on 20 December 2016)
Note2: Vehicle license plates and the face of one person who declined consent to be photographed, have been obscured.
Note3: Certain names have been changed to protect people from potential repercussions.





Socialist Worker: The counterrevolution crushes Aleppo

Al Arabiya: Bashar Al Assad – Ten years later


Facebook: Syrian Solidarity New Zealand

Facebook: International Socialist Organisation, NZ

Facebook: Fightback – Aotearoa/NZ

Other Blogs & media

The Wireless: ‘Tomorrow, I am going to leave my homeland’

Green blog: The Atrocity of Syria – What to do?

The Daily Blog: The war machine rolls on while children beg for blankets

Redline: Syria – regime change from above or revolution from below?

Previous related blogposts

Citizens march against TPPA in Wellington: Did Police hide tasers at TPPA march?

Dear Michael Cullen: the GCSB is not International Rescue!

What do Hungary and New Zealand have in common?

Media stories of the Week: ISIS revealed by Middle East expert

Coming soon: A terror alert near you!

Copyright (c) Notice

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» Where purpose of use is commercial, a donation to the Syrian White Helmets relief org or  Child Poverty Action Group is requested.
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= fs =


  1. I’m afraid I’m with John Pilger, the previous ambassador to Syria(Peter Ford)Seymour Hersh, the minority religions of Syria,David Swanson, and many , many others, on this one.

    i don’t feel comfortable being in the same camp as Qatar, Turkey, the US , Israel or Saudi Arabia, or Al Nusra for that matter.
    If it wasn’t for Russia, these people would now be running rampant over non muslims and “wrong” muslims

  2. This is strange because only yesterday I watched a press conference by someone from the UN, who has been in Syria, saying that it’s the US-backed groups attacking civilians. It was the Syrian government trying to evacuate the civilians.

  3. Comment I posted on the Everyone Facebook page… I support everyone’s right to their opinion, however that needs to be balanced with alternate views.


    Yankee imperialist worker bees.

    There’s a big game on and you are not seeing it Frank, nor are the protesters.

    I know there is a credible opposition and democracy movement in Syria which raised its head in 2011.. that move has been effectively hijacked. Karam himself said as much when he addressed the VUW Politics society on Wednesday 7 December at the VUW Kelburn campus. I attended and raised the war on terror context which Karam, and the Amnesty International representative Carsten Bockemuehl both acknowledged was a factor, though neither referred to it in their presentations – conveniently swept under the mat..

    The Syrian war in the context of the Arab Spring is no longer a civil war, it’s a fight for survival by many parties, with the US and Europe heavily invested in regime change to install a regime favourable to Western Investment and neoliberal capitalism.

    The people must also appreciate that Assad was confirmed elected in 2014 with 88% of the popular vote.

    Look at what happened in Egypt for a few clues, for what happens to revolutions without sufficient power to establish the replacement regime, if you are going to chop heads and foment a revolution one is obliged to have a decent plan to carry through to the new constitutional and institutional arrangements to be implemented.

    The people of Aleppo appear pretty happy to be released from the clutches of the rebels (Free Syrians, ISIS, and whomever else fights in that mix).

    From Robert Fisk, who is a reasonably balanced reporter of things Near Eastern:


    Additionally to the facebook post, I’ve just seen this too;

    Andrew Ashdown is a Church of England priest studying Christian-Muslim relations in Syria. In the last few days he has visited East Aleppo. This is the report of his visit to the area yesterday (14th December) that he published on his facebook page.

    • The people must also appreciate that Assad was confirmed elected in 2014 with 88% of the popular vote.

      Greg, I wonder at how fair that presidential election was when the following criteria had to be met;

      The conditions required to be a candidate in a presidential election are the following:

      A candidate must be Muslim
      A candidate must have the support of no less than 35 members of the parliament
      A candidate must be 34 years old or older [al-Assad was 34 at the time – the Constitutional age being dropped from 40 to 34 to allow him to be elected]
      A candidate must have lived in Syria for 10 years before the election
      A candidate must be Syrian by birth, of parents who are Syrians by birth
      A candidate must not be married to a non-Syrian spouse

      Unsurprisingly, only two other candidates met those criteria.


      Observers from Syria’s allies declared the elections “free and fair” –

      Others said it was anything but –

      I guess it makes a change from June 2000 when Bashar al-Assad was elected Syria’s President in which he ran unopposed.

      • I agree Frank, and as soon as we get the Yankee Imperialists and their European sidekicks (including the ever twerking Kiwi SAS spotting for USNazi drones) to remove themselves or get thrown out of the region, there might be hope for a return to democratic secular regimes in the Near East.

        That was the Egyptian project under Nasser and the Turkish project under Ataturk. The French Picot and the British Sykes came to an agreement about 100 years ago too which screwed the scrum…

        Until then, it is states doing what they feel they must to shore up their domestic security to offer the best possible and most unified defence to the external aggressor.

        War craft 101..

        State building 101..

        What ever happen to the International Socialist Project and its comprehension of the forces at work in the world?

        • I agree Frank, and as soon as we get the Yankee Imperialists and their European sidekicks (including the ever twerking Kiwi SAS spotting for USNazi drones) to remove themselves or get thrown out of the region, there might be hope for a return to democratic secular regimes in the Near East.

          That should read all imperial powers out of the Middle East region, Greg. Otherwise, that leaves a vacuum for other powers to step in.

      • “A candidate must be 34 years old or older [al-Assad was 34 at the time – the Constitutional age being dropped from 40 to 34 to allow him to be elected]”

        Assad was born in 1965. !n 2014 he was 49.

  4. May 2012 issue #83 of International Socialist Review article by the same Ashley Smith mentioned by Daniel in TDB article.

    Ashley’s article is entitled, “Obama’s new imperialist strategy.”

    and the portion on Syria – under the following heading…

    “Proxy war in Syria”

    “The US offensive against Iran is driving its policy in Iraq and Syria. While Obama was unable to bully Iraq into accepting an extended occupation, he has no intention of allowing Iraq to fall completely into Iran’s orbit. The United States will therefore maintain a robust presence in the country.

    “Even after projected cuts in staff, the United States will still have the largest embassy in the world in Baghdad, it is policing Iraq’s airspace with drones, and it will conduct extensive CIA operations in the country for decades to come.17 As the Washington Post reports, the CIA will be “monitoring developments in the increasingly antagonistic government, seeking to suppress al-Qaeda’s affiliate in the country and countering the influence of Iran.”18

    “In Syria, Obama is intent on weakening if not replacing Iran’s ally, Bashar al-Assad. In many ways, he is following the Libya script. Up until recently, both the United States and Israel had tolerated Assad’s regime and relied upon it to keep peace on the Israeli border. Now, however, Obama is trying to highjack the revolutionary movement against the regime to serve US aims.

    “Obama has hypocritically criticized the Assad regime of repression of the country’s population, while he has been mute about allies’ similar behavior. The United States has mobilized the Arab League to organize regional pressure to force Assad to step down. They have also found a section of the resistance, the Syrian National Council, which is eager to collaborate with the United States. At an Istanbul meeting of the US-backed formations, Friends of Syria, America’s Arab allies promised $100 million to sponsor its selected resistance fighters and the United States pledged to provide communications equipment to help those forces evade the Syrian military.

    “Obama has attempted to use the R2P doctrine to win UN approval for the United States and its allies to pursue regime change in the country. Certainly, they along with Israel do not support a genuine revolution, but merely superficial change that would replace Assad’s Iranian allied regime with one aligned with the United States. However, unlike in Libya, both China and Russia have signaled opposition to the US policy. They united in a joint veto in the UN Security Council that would have approved an Arab League plan for Assad to give up power. Nevertheless, the United States and its allies are giving millions of dollars in “nonlethal” aid to the Syrian opposition, and is discussing the possibility of arming it.”

    • Greg and Brigid, you two make good apologists for the Assad regime. I’m sure there are other despots around the world that would like to share your love.

      There cannot be a socialist revolution in Syria until Assad is overthrown. His sponsors, in Russia and Iran have too much vested in him.

      You’re on the wrong side of history, both of you. THe people of Syria will not thank you for kowtowing to Assad and his stooges.

  5. Geeze Frank you nailed it yourself two days ago in your blog about Russian hacking, how many faces are you wearing?

    “Syria 2005-2015 Starting in 2005, the US government launched a policy of regime change against the Syrian government by funding Syrian opposition groups working to topple the Syrian government, attempting to block foreign direct investment in Syria, attempting to frustrate Syrian government efforts at economic reform and prosperity and thus legitimacy for the regime, and getting other governments diplomatically to isolate Syria. The Obama administration starting in 2009 continued such policies while taking steps toward diplomatic engagement with the Syrian government and denying that it was engaging in regime change. After the outbreak of the Syrian civil war, the U.S. government called on Syrian President Bashar Al Assad to “step aside” and imposed an oil embargo against the Syrian government to bring it to its knees. Starting in 2013, the U.S. also provided training, weapons and cash to Syrian Islamic and secular insurgents fighting to topple the Syrian government.”

    • Geeze Frank you nailed it yourself two days ago in your blog about Russian hacking, how many faces are you wearing?

      I don’t “wear faces”, Greg. I look at issues from various angles.

      I note that when some on the Left agree with me making a criticism of National and it’s former Dear Leader, then I am “lauded”.

      When I challenge views from the Left on matters I find questionable, the response is quite different.

      I note that was also the predominant view of the Arab Spring when it first began; the Left were genrally in full support. However, matters seem to have changed as counter-“factuals” from other participants in the Syrian civil war have entered the narrative. As Daniel pointed out,

      “Where claiming that everything coming out of the mainstream media, because it’s controlled by the US, must be in the US imperialist’s interest. But instead, the response to this is to parrot Russian propaganda, al-Assad’s propaganda!”

      Here is another example of questioning the status quo;

  6. I am afraid you are wrong. Please do some better research, not relying on mainstream media. There are some very good links to articles posted here. Sorry but you and soxialist friends are wrong.

    • Winifred, if the barrel bombs, gassing, and wanton destruction of civilian facilities in Aleppo (eg, hospitals) “are wrong”, please let us know how and why.

      And in what way is a repressive dictatorship “correct”?

  7. Hello, an ISO-er here! We helped bring people to the protest and we spoke at it but we were not the ones who called it or the organisers! Ani can probably give more info on who called the protest, meanwhile we’re trying to get ahold of the writer. Thanks for covering this, it is important.

      • Yes but for the West to drop aid would require negotiation with the Syrian Government and the Russians over access to air space so it is not a straight forward thing 9especially given that even the UN agencies can’t get access). There is no guarantee that such access would be forthcoming and it is still an active warzone so there are significant difficulties.

  8. Frank I do hope someone is following up with the issue of the cop having a taser, if not they will continue to flout the law.

  9. Thanks for reporting, three corrections though:
    -The protest was not organized by ISO, although they supported it. The majority of the core organizing group are not members of ISO.
    -Please use ‘they’ pronouns for me.
    -The cop did not drive Rochelle home.

  10. Oh dear..A little like the Syrian Observatory For Human Rights.. The Sunni Rami Abdul Rahman runs operating from his Coventry house NOT LONDON as oft quoted by the Western media.. Not sourced by Cockburn Fisk or Pilger etc notably,so this coverage worries me.. I note the Sunni affiliations of most of of the other ‘spokespeople’ elsewhere and here too, including those who also support and ask for money on behalf of for The White Helmets. One question? Why do they need money from ordinary people ( like us) when they, the White Helmets are actually funded by USAID and the UK Governnment and their ‘allies’..

    Some uncomfortable truths. For example, the White Helmets are funded by the American government, through USAID, to the tune of US$23 million (Dh84m). There’s also no doubt that the US and British governments were involved with the creation of Syria Civil Defence. From the outset, the Syrian volunteers were trained and supported by Analysis, Research and Knowledge (Ark), a private company, headquartered in Dubai, that describes itself as “a research, conflict transformation and stabilisation consultancy”. In Syria “Ark has been at the forefront of the response to the conflict … for the past five years”.
    Can’t get much more Sunni or Wahhabi than war crime committers in Yemen, Saudi Arabia or stage managed than Dubai either? Where is the support for the Yemeni democracy activists or civilians starving and double tap bombed to bits this year too? I fully support the genuine pro democracy activists in Syria and beyond, always have done . Once they end up elsewhere though amazing how easilt some of them can be ‘managed’. I also support all the children in or of Syria, regardless of their parents’ sectarian leanings.. I do not and will not support another Iraq scenario or the disintegration of Syria, Libya or Palestine style.. and this is beginning to look horribly like one may occur ? And with the blessing of some very strange bedfellows

    • Indeed, the Salafist Observatory for Jihadist Rights has zero credibility. It seems to be their lie of ‘250,000 civilians’ in East Aleppo which the UN swallowed and is now trying to disown.

    • Well spotted Lois It isn’t.. White isn’t always clean either. Certain types of atrocity reporting to accomplish even more outrage has been done before too. Has been utterly outed and discredited as well.
      Suffer the Little Children

      How PR Sold the War in the Persian Gulf
      Every big media event needs what journalists and flacks alike refer to as “the hook.” An ideal hook becomes the central element of a story that makes it newsworthy, evokes a strong emotional response, and sticks in the memory. In the case of the Gulf War, the “hook” was invented by Hill & Knowlton. In style, substance and mode of delivery, it bore an uncanny resemblance to England’s World War I hearings that accused German soldiers of killing babies’.

      Am no fan of Assad Trump Putin nor Obama MayAdel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir or co either.. The real victims in most of the ‘wars’ this lot direct from desks and others enact are the children of ALL sides and the truth of course. Especially when it is manufactured by PR experts in whatever language.. (Propaganda Relations) Ps not criticising you Frank, I do the same thing.. Issue by issue .. am still concerned about that money question though.. Why do the WH need it when they are funded so well?

  11. Reading the criticisms from some folk here, I am struck by the following;

    1. Evidently, America’s “war on terror” is a bad thing, but Russia’s “war on terror” is not. That is what I get from some of the comments I have been reading.

    2. Some people seem to think that I am not “independent” because I have criticised Russia.

    I will criticise any country; any political party; any movement, that I think merits it.

    3. Part of the problem Syria faces is not just so-called “terrorists”* but the involvement of other powers seeking to exercise influence in the region. That includes the United States and Saudi Arabia. It also includes Russia and Iran.

    I make no distinction between them.

    4. America’s involvement is not designed to foster democracy, just as Russia’s involvement is not designed to foster socialism. Both the US and Russia are ruled by wealthy oligarchs. Socialism and freedom for Syrians is the last thing on the minds of American and Russian governments.

    5. I will continue to report on political events (such as the protest last Friday) and offer comment through the prism of my own observations and analysis. That may be anti-TPPA protests; anti-National government protests, anti-American protests, or anti-Russian protests.

    I am not interested in being part of an “echo chamber”. Sometimes you may agree with my views, other times not. If I challenge cherished dogma from the Left or the Right, then that is my job done.

    * Note: One person’s “terrorist” is another person’s freedom fighter. Just ask any partisan who fought in WW2 against the Nazis, Fidel Castro, or Nelson Mandela.

    • Hi Frank and on face value well said, there’s not much difference between you and I on paper.

      The issue is that many of the claims made by the folk in the demonstration maybe hyped or fabrications. Those associated with the Syrian revolutionaries have been particularly blood thirsty, with the people of Aleppo pleased to be rescued by the Syrian Arab Army forces.

      The so-called rebels were killing people with opposing views, so everything leveled at the Syrian government forces supported by the Russians, can be leveled at the rebel’s side.

      Which again doesn’t help in the mash up that is Syria today. Where is the reality?

      We have a similar, though less extreme version of “he said-she said” at work in the NZ democracy, and similar to Syria’s government and their relation with Russia, our Central Government are sockpuppets for Yankee Imperialism – look to TPP, the Navy’s 75th birthday, our involvement in the US Imperial terror war, and slavery to their Washington consensus which denies us Sovereign money creation.

      The difference between the two imperiums is that the Russians are attempting to support a number of states in their desire to maintain independence from US hegemony – for whatever reason including Russian interest in maintaining a protective buffer against NATO (US-UK Imperium) extension into the Eurasian heartland.

      I suggest that the key enemy to the socialist ideal of a globe of cooperative states run for the benefit of their domestic populations is the imposition of US National Interest on behalf of their corporations, ably assisted by the UK, this on the UK agenda, which following New Labour and Blair’s blood thirst in Iraq is no surprise, they want to advance their weapons sales to the Saudi Arabians too:

      BAE weapons bribes and corruption:

      See any connection/similarity to our NZ handouts over the Saudi Live Sheep export fiasco?

      The Saudi’s and Turkey, are the main conduit for the supply of material support to the Syrian rebels including from the US and UK.

      And again here NZ might be implicated in our decision to train Iraqi 16th Mountain Division troops who may have in turn supported ISIS/ISIL:

      I can’t get past this fundamental problem… and the best thing we can do in NZ is campaign to rid ourselves of the US-UK alliance – it is toxic to Aotearoa NZ and the planet’s inhabitants.

      And with all due respect to the Syrian genuine democracy activists… their project is going to have to wait for the war to be concluded before their object can possibly be addressed.

      In this sense I’ve picked a side… end US hegemony!!!

      • “everything leveled at the Syrian government forces supported by the Russians, can be leveled at the rebel’s side”

        Not quite. Assad’s forces and their ‘ally’ fail on two counts, responsibility to protect, and proportionate use of force. This substantially erodes their legitimacy.

        Putin’s status as an illegal head of state, having made an end run around Russia’s presidential term limits perhaps leads him to sympathise with Assad, military dictator by inheritance of Syria.

    • Well said, Frank. Your writing never fails to stir the pot and raise inconvenient truths. Or at least counter views that challenge people’s much-cherished worldviews.

    • Well said, Frank. THAT is why you are respected, by calling it as it is, whether people want to hear it or not.

  12. I can’t believe a group of activists could be so easily sucked in by US propaganda.

    And I’m not prepared to let people off with the ‘fog of war’ excuse either. Any activist worth their salt should have a world view that understands that the US uses it’s power to maintain a uni-polar world in the service of their elites – and you should certainly be aware that the US has been funding the so-called ‘moderate rebels’ for 5 years with the express purpose of de-stabalising Syria and it’s government.

    This is not to say that Putin and especially Assad don’t have blood on their hands but to see activists playing into the hands of the US is incredibly frustrating

  13. While there are no doubt terrible things are happening in Aleppo right now, the allegations that “Assad, Russia and Iran are evil, genocidal maniacs!” vs. “Those poor helpless ‘moderate rebels’ & “Won’t someone please think of the children?” hand-wringing are a simplistic argument at best and downright cynical propaganda, promoted Gulf State lobbyists, at worst.

    In this instance, I prefer the analysis of Robert Fisk; one of the few honest purveyors of information about the Middle East in my opinion (even if I don’t always agree with what he says).

      • Of course I do. It’s just that after the Iraqi Quagmire, Libya’s descent into anarchy and the Afghan Clusterfuck, I’m not buying the kool-aid that all the dead children in Aleppo and Syria are the sole responsibility of Assad, Russia and Iran; a point Robert Fisk makes only too well if you take the time to read what he’s written.

  14. Those arguing in desperation here that the ‘Syrian Revolution’ is a US false flag cannot and will not acknowledge the truth of the last five years in Syria.

    The imperialists, their regional lackeys, and the Imperialist Left are ganged up against the Syrian people’s revolution for democracy.

    There is more democracy in the suicidal actions of freedom fighters against imperialist bombing than in the whole of the Imperialist Left.

    That “anti-imperialist left” takes the side of imperialism against the revolution.

    It has sold out the Syrian Revolution by parroting the lie of their own ruling classes, US, EU, Russian and Chinese, that freedom fighters must be ‘terrorists’.

    Why? Because to win their “freedom” against US and Russian imperialist “terror” they have to take up arms and mobilise a grass-roots democracy to kick out the imperialist invaders and their client dictators.

    And when they do that, workers in the imperialist countries might have to take revolution seriously and turn their own guns against their ruling class.

    Now we can’t have that can we because the problem is not capitalism, or even imperialism is it, but its excesses, especially US hegemony. That can safely be left to the democratic instincts of the US working class!

  15. 21 December 2016

    Minister of Foreign Affairs
    Hon. Murray McCully
    FYI Frank.

    ‘Open Letter’ /OIA request to NZ Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon. Murray McCully – re: why is the NZ Government (via MFAT) funding the ‘White Helmets’ in Aleppo, Syria.

    Dear Minister,

    I understand that the NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), on your watch, is providing $100,000 to assist the ‘Syrian Civil Defence Organisation, known as the White Helmets’.

    Murray McCully26 OCTOBER, 2016
    NZ training support for White Helmets in Syria

    Foreign Minister Murray McCully and Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne have announced that the NZ Fire Service will provide training support to the Syrian White Helmets civil defence organisation.

    “The Syrian Civil Defence Organisation, known as the White Helmets, have helped save thousands of people affected by the ongoing violence in Syria,” Mr McCully says.

    “New Zealand has agreed to provide assistance with training to the White Helmets and this practical initiative sits alongside the work we are doing on the UN Security Council to improve the humanitarian situation in Syria and to push for an end to the conflict.”

    Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne says a NZ Fire Service urban search and rescue expert will travel to Turkey and Jordan in the next month to help improve the training of White Helmet volunteers.

    “We want to share New Zealand’s globally recognised expertise in urban search and rescue with the White Helmets, and show our support for a volunteer organisation which is doing remarkable work in badly damaged cities like Aleppo.

    “This secondment of a NZFS training adviser is a welcome, practical and meaningful humanitarian contribution by New Zealand to the people directly affected by the appalling conflict in Syria,” Mr Dunne says.

    The training project will run for 4 months and begins around the end of October.

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade will contribute around $100,000 to the training project and this will bring New Zealand’s assistance to those affected by violence in Syria and Iraq to over $25 million.


    Please provide the following information:

    1) Please confirm that the position of the New Zealand Government is to respect the lawful right of sovereign Nation States, and the lawful rights of the people of sovereign Nation States to choose their own regimes, as enshrined in the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as follows:

    A) The UN Charter
    Signed by the USA on 26 June 1945, effective 24 October 1945:


    Article 1
    The Purposes of the United Nations are:

    To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace;

    To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace;

    To achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion; and

    To be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends.
    Article 2
    The Organization and its Members, in pursuit of the Purposes stated in Article 1, shall act in accordance with the following Principles.

    The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members.
    All Members, in order to ensure to all of them the rights and benefits resulting from membership, shall fulfill in good faith the obligations assumed by them in accordance with the present Charter.

    All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.

    All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.

    All Members shall give the United Nations every assistance in any action it takes in accordance with the present Charter, and shall refrain from giving assistance to any state against which the United Nations is taking preventive or enforcement action.

    The Organization shall ensure that states which are not Members of the United Nations act in accordance with these Principles so far as may be necessary for the maintenance of international peace and security.

    Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter; but this principle shall not prejudice the application of enforcement measures under Chapter Vll.

    B) The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 10 December 1948:

    Article 21.

    (1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.

    (2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.

    (3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.


    2) Please provide the information which confirms that the NZ Government, (via MFAT) knows / knew that the people of Syria elected President Assad in June 2014.
    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has won a third term in office after securing 88.7% of votes in Tuesday’s presidential election, the parliamentary speaker has announced.
    Earlier, Syria’s Supreme Constitutional Court put the turnout at 73.47%.
    3) Please provide the information which confirms that the NZ Government (via MFAT) knows/knew that although the ‘White Helmets’ purport to be ‘unarmed and neutral’:


    The volunteers save people on all sides of the conflict – pledging commitment to the principles of “Humanity, Solidarity, Impartiality” as outlined by the International Civil Defence Organisation. This pledge guides every response, every action, every life saved – so that in a time of destruction, all Syrians have the hope of a lifeline.


    – the ‘White Helmets’ actually receive international funding, including $23 million from USAID:

    “…MR TONER: The White Helmets. So this is a group —

    QUESTION: White Helmets. Okay, I understand.

    MR TONER: So, yeah, this is the Syrian Civil Defense Group. Yeah.

    QUESTION: Do you know – I understand about the White Helmets. Do you know who finances them, how they operate, who are they supported by, what kind of organization they have? How do you get your information from them and so on?

    MR TONER: Well – well, I can say we provide them with —

    QUESTION: We – you do know a little bit.

    MR TONER: Well, I can tell you that we provide, through USAID, about $23 million in assistance to them.



    4) Please provide the information which confirms that the NZ Government (via MFAT) knows /knew that the ‘White Helmets’ are promoting a ‘no fly zone’:


    “Barrel bombs – sometimes filled with chlorine – are the biggest killer of civilians in Syria today. Our unarmed and neutral rescue workers have saved more than 73,530 people from the attacks in Syria, but there are many we cannot reach. There are children trapped in rubble we cannot hear.

    For them, the UN Security Council must follow through on its demand to stop the barrel bombs, by introducing a ‘no-fly zone’ if necessary.” –

    Raed Saleh, head of the White Helmets, the Syrian Civil Defence.


    5) Please provide the information which confirms that the NZ Government (via MFAT), knows /knew that Rael Saleh, head of the ‘White Helmets’, the ‘Syrian Civil Defence’, was denied an entry visa to the USA, because he was allegedly a security risk.

    “..And then last thing – and this is about the attacks that occurred, I believe yesterday, on the Syrian Civil Defense station in al-Atareb, Syria. The United States is appalled by Monday’s multiple aerial strikes, reportedly by the Assad regime, on a Syrian Civil Defense station in the town of, as I noted, al-Atareb in Aleppo province, where at least five members of the civil defense are believed to have been killed and many more innocent people were injured.

    This attack fits with the Assad regime’s abhorrent pattern of striking first responders, over 100 whom – of whom have been killed in action. Many are killed in so-called double-tap strikes, where warplanes return to a strike zone after first responders have gathered to assist victims, and the Syrian Civil Defense station in al-Atareb was reportedly hit five times on Monday.

    We condemn in the strongest terms any such attacks and we urge Russia to use its influence and press the Assad regime to fulfill its commitments under UNSCR 2254 and immediately stop any further attacks of this nature. We also commend the heroic members of the Syrian Civil Defense who’ve saved more than 40,000 people by serving as impartial emergency responders on the front lines performing search and rescue missions following brutal attacks often perpetrated by the Assad regime and its allies. And the United States will continue to support this group and their courageous and tireless efforts to protect the Syrian people.

    That’s it. Matt.

    QUESTION: On the last one —

    MR TONER: Yes, sir.

    QUESTION: — you commend this group, you’re going to continue to support them, and yet you revoked the visa of their leader. I don’t – that makes zero sense to me.

    MR TONER: Well —

    QUESTION: What – what’s exactly going on?

    MR TONER: Well, I mean, this group, and I would precisely make that —

    QUESTION: Yeah, but this is the guy who is the leader of this group who the head of USAID lionized in a – and her – that she lauded him —

    MR TONER: Sure. Sure.

    QUESTION: — in a speech at the event that he was supposed to be accepting —

    MR TONER: Sure.

    QUESTION: — an award that he couldn’t get here for because the State Department canceled his visa while he was in the middle – while he was in midair, presumably, over the Atlantic so that when he arrived at Dulles, he was promptly thrown on the next plane back to Turkey. And now here you are talking about how wonderful his group is. I just don’t understand how it works.

    MR TONER: So a couple responses. One is, unfortunately, we can’t speak to individual visa cases. I think broadly speaking, though, on any visa case we are constantly looking at new information, so-called continually vetting travel or records. And if we do have new information that we believe this – an individual —

    QUESTION: But —

    MR TONER: — let me finish – would pose a security risk, we’ll certainly act on that. I can’t speak again specifically to this case, but what I can talk about is this group. And this group, as I said, has saved some 40,000 lives, that are first responders, they operate in a combat zone, and the fact that they’re being singled out and hit by the Syrian regime is, frankly, cause for a concern. And we do support this group. We do support their efforts to save lives in what is admittedly a very complex and convoluted battlefield scene.

    And to speak to your broader – to say that this group’s – which I think is the implication of your question, that they somehow have ties to —

    QUESTION: No, I’m not suggesting that at all.

    MR TONER: Then – okay.

    QUESTION: I’m saying that it just strikes me as a bit odd that you’re saying that this group is wonderful and does such a great job and you’re commending them for their heroism, and yet, this – you’re doing this just 10 days after the leader of this group, who was supposed to be – who got his visa revoked and wasn’t allowed to travel here. I understand there was an attack that killed some of its members, and I know that that’s the immediate cause of it —

    MR TONER: Right.

    QUESTION: — but it just strikes me as being a bit inconsistent if you say that this group is wonderful, and yet, you also ban its leader from coming to the States to collect an award for which – and you say you’re going to continue to support the group. I mean, if you have reason to revoke his visa, that he could be a security threat or something like that, why would you continue to support —

    MR TONER: But again – but again, I’m trying to separate this individual from the group, which we believe is —

    QUESTION: All right. So the guy is – you’re saying that basically he is suspect but his group is not?

    MR TONER: Well, again, I can’t speak to the specific allegations against him, Matt



    Yours sincerely,

    Penny Bright

    ‘Anti-privatisation / anti-corruption Public Watchdog’

    2010, 2013, 2016 Auckland Mayoral candidate.

    Attendee: 2009 Australian Public Sector Anti-Corruption Conference.

    Attendee: 2010 Transparency International Anti-Corruption Conference.

    Attendee: 2013 Australian Public Sector Anti-Corruption Conference.

    Attendee: 2014 G20 Anti-Corruption Conference.

    Attendee: 2015 Australian Public Sector Anti-Corruption Conference.

    • Penny, why are you seeking support from Murray McCully, one of the most dishonest, corrupt ministers in the National government? The guy is a stooge for the new right and the last person I’d be seeking support from. Which mocks your attacks against the White Helmets because they’re supported by the West? But you have no hesitation wanting McCully to endorse your agenda? Really?

  16. “Ani said he would be taking up a collection of donations which would be passed on to the “White Helmets”, a community-based organisation in Syria who, under extreme conditions facing constant bombardment and gunfire, helped to dig people from the rubble of collapsed buildings…”

    What a load of CRAP!

    If you believe that about the ‘White Helmets’ -in my view / you’ll believe anything.

    ‘Seek truth from facts’?

    Penny Bright

    • Penny, UN and Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) vehicles have also been attacked and bombed. (

      Aid – whether UN, SARC, or White Helmets – cannot be given while bombing takes places and civilians are denied relief.

      It is ridiculous to be playing politics whilst those in Aleppo were in need of medical and food supplies.

      If the White Helmets were a local solution to the devastation of that city, personally I don’t care if the funding for humanitarian aid came from Russia, US, or elsewhere.

      Better to be sending humanitarian aid than spending billions on arming Syrian government and rebel factions.

  17. How genuine was the ‘Arab Spring’?

    Seen this?


    I was astonished to learn that Forum Fikra, a forum for Arab activists working against authoritarian governments, was mainly funded by the Nathan and Esther K Wagner Family Foundation. The latter also funds numerous pro-Israel groups and projects, as well as the Washington Institute for Near East policy (a pro-Israel group with close ties to AIPAC).

    The color revolutions were CIA-instigated uprisings that replaced democratically elected pro-Russian governments with equally autocratic governments more friendly to US corporate interests:
    Serbia (2000) – Bulldozer Revolution
    Georgia (2002) – Rose Revolution
    Ukraine (2004) – Orange Revolution
    Kyrgyzstan (2005) – Tulip Revolution

    Democracy promoting foundations (as used here, “democracy” is synonymous with capitalism, ie favorable to the interests of US investors).

    Here are seven of the main ones involved in funding and training Arab Spring activists:

    • USAID (US Agency for International Development) – State Department agency charged with economic development and humanitarian aid with a long history of financing destabilization activities, especially in Latin America.

    • NED (National Endowment for Democracy) – national organization supported by State Department and CIA funding dedicated to the promotion of democratic institutions throughout the world, primary funder of IRI and NDI.

    • IRI (International Republican Institute) – democracy promoting organization linked with the Republican Party, currently chaired by Senator John McCain and funded by NED.

    • NDI (National Democratic Institute for International Affairs) – democracy promoting organization linked with the Democratic Party, currently chaired by Madeline Albright and funded by NED.

    • OSI (Open Society Institute) – founded by George Soros in 1993 to help fund color revolutions in Eastern Europe. Also contributed major funding to Arab Spring revolutions.

    • Freedom House – US organization that supports nonviolent citizens initiatives in societies were liberty is denied or threatened, financed by USAID, NED and the Soros Foundation.

    • CANVAS (Center for Applied Non Violent Action and Strategies) – center originally founded by the Serbian activists of Otpor who the US funded and trained to over throw Slobodan Milosevic and who were instrumental in training Arab Spring activists. Funded by Freedom House, IRI and OSI.

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