Apparently, the White Helmets have duped the New Zealand Ministry’s of Foreign Affairs and Internal Affairs into coughing up about $100,000 – and tarnishing the country’s reputation in the process.
Foreign Affairs Minister, Murray McCully, and Internal Affairs Minister, Peter Dunne, announced the funding last Wednesday (see NZ training support for White Helmets in Syria). It is to be used to provide four-month training support by the NZ Fire Service to the White Helmets.
On the surface, this looks like a poorly considered knee-jerk response to a White Helmets request for funds. But the Ministers cannot have properly vetted the White Helmet organisation or its claims. Peter Dunne naively describes it as a “volunteer organisation which is doing remarkable work in badly damaged cities like Aleppo.” The ministers also seemed to have uncritically accepted claims made by the White Helmets that they have helped thousands of Syrians. They ignored completely information showing this is a partisan organisation, operating only in areas held by “terrorists”/”rebels,” often seen to be involved in “terrorist”/”rebel” celebrations (sometimes carrying Al Nusra flags) and with members who carry arms and have been identified as also belonging to militant armed groups.
[Note: Al Nusra is the Syrian franchise for Al Qaeda and is classified as a terrorist organisation by the UN. I am using the term “rebel”/”terrorist” to avoid the problems of differentiating between so-called “moderate rebels” and terrorists – hell, even the USA has been able to differentiate them. Currently, groups that have been called “moderate rebels” are fighting in the Army of Conquest – a coalition led by Al Nusra.]
The Ministers seem to have been taken in by the slick propaganda claims of this organisation. They have ignored the fact that White Helmet propaganda is always directed against the legitimate government of Syria and its allies, and it often used by mainstream media to give a distorted picture of this conflict.
Who are the White Helmets?
Well, first, they are not the legitimate Syrian Civil Defence organisation – as Mr Dunne seems to believe in his claim this funding is not a sign New Zealand was taking a side in the conflict. He said.
“We don’t have a view about whether they are politically aligned or not – they are the Syrian Civil Defence Association.”
Is he not aware that the White Helmets have simply dishonestly usurped that name?
The White helmets are not affiliated to, or recognised by, the International Civil Defence Association (ICDA), nor is it connected to the Syrian Civil Defence Forces (the legitimate Syrian Civil Defence organisation) which have been a member of the ICDA since 1972.
As independent report Vanessa Beeley points out in her article “The REAL Syria Civil Defence Exposes Fake ‘White Helmets’ as Terrorist-Linked Imposters:”
“For the REAL Syria Civil Defence you call 113 inside Syria. There is no public number for the White Helmets. Why not? Why does this multi-million dollar US & NATO state-funded first responder ‘NGO,’ with state of the art equipment supplied by the US and the EU via Turkey, have no central number for civilians to call when the “bombs fall”?”
It’s worth reading Vanessa Beely’s reports and watching her interviews. She has visited Syria and talked with people from the real Syrian Civil Defence. And she explains why the White Helmets are usurpers and not a legitimate Syrian first responder organisation.
I have written about the White Helmets before – see Anti-Syrian propaganda and the White Helmets and provided a general overview. This video also provides an overview:
In summary, the White Helmets is not a Syrian organisation, it is an overseas NGO funded by governments like the UK and the USA. It operates only in areas held by the “rebels”/”terrorists” and issues anti-government propaganda – often calling for the US to attack Syrian government forces. Uniformed White Helmets members have been seen in “rebel”/”terrorist” demonstrations, holding Al Nusra flags and participating in Jihadist chants. They run a slick propaganda department – rescues seem only to involve young children and camera teams are always there to record the “rescues.” Professional rescue people have commented that they seem to never use real rescue equipment such as spine splints. Some commentators have even suggested that some of the White Helmet propaganda videos are staged. Rescues are certainly managed with an eye to the camera.
What vetting did the NZ government carry out?
OK, its only about $100,000 dollars – small bickies. But in terms of New Zealand’s reputation and providing support for anti-government forces this is a huge problem. We will now be publicly aligned with the “rebel”/”terrorist’ side in the Syrian conflict. And this despite giving support to UN Security Council resolutions on Syria which always start with the clause:
“Reaffirming its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic, . . . “
Yet the White Helmets in their propaganda, calls for attacks on Syrian government forces and restriction of its work to “rebel”/”terrorist’ areas is obviously working against “the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic.”
Has the NZ government decided to align itself more publicly with the “rebel”/”terrorist” forces in Syria, or at least align itself more publicly against “the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic?”
Or is it just a matter of the government being duped by a slick propaganda campaign and possibly pressure from governments which are financing this anti-Syria organisation?
I sincerely hope that it is the later. But then that raises questions about the vetting procedure use by these ministries. Surely government ministries should carry out some sort of investigation before committing money and national reputation in such a controversial area.
What exactly was done to check out the White Helmets before this decision was made?
Perhaps it’s time for an Official information request?