Killed By NATO, Betrayed by Their Government: Libyan Survivors Look for Answers

By Mustafa Fetouri

January 14, 2023

WHEN THE SO-CALLED “Arab Spring” reached Libya in February 2011, it turned into a civil war.

The world witnessed massive protests of citizens demanding freedom in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, but foreign military intervention played a critical and divisive role in Libya’s bloody spring. 

How did the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) get involved in what should have been an internal issue?

Accusing Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi government of using heavy weapons to suppress demonstrations, the Western world went to the United Nations Security Council.

The council adopted two resolutions in the space of three weeks.

Resolution 1970, adopted on Feb. 26, 2011, imposed harsh sanctions on the country and was followed by Resolution 1973, adopted on March 17, authorizing the use of force against the Libyan government. 

Paragraph 4 of Resolution 1973 contained one magical sentence that green-lighted all U.N. member states to “take all necessary measures” to “protect civilians and civilian populated areas” allegedly under attack by the Qaddafi government.

At this point the U.N. hardly understood what was happening inside Libya, yet it went ahead and, literally, invited any willing state to bomb Libya. 

On March 19, France, the U.S. and UK launched the first sea and air attacks against targets inside Libya.

By the end of March, NATO took over by launching its own military operation, code-named “Unified Protector,” to enforce Resolution 1973, aiming to protect Libyan civilians by imposing a no-fly zone over the country.

At the time the entire Libyan air force and its civilian aircrafts were already grounded by Resolution 1970. More countries like Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar joined the NATO-led campaign. 

NATO STRIKES IN LIBYA

On the night of Aug. 4, 2011, Mustafa al-Morabit, his wife Ibtisam, his two sons Mohamed, 5, and Mo’taz, 3, were sleeping in his home in Zlitin, about 170 k.m. east of Tripoli, Libya, when a NATO rocket hit, at 6:30 a.m., killing Ibtisam and their two children.

Until today Mustafa, who survived, still does not know who killed his family or why. 

In Souq al-Juma’a district, east of the capital Tripoli, Mohamed al-Gharari was asleep on the night of June 19 when a NATO missile hit his family home, killing his brother Faraj, 48, sister Karima, 38, her 44-year-old husband ’Abdallah Shihab, and their two children, Jomana, 2, and Khaled, 7 months old. Eight others sustained injuries.

This is the only occasion in which NATO admitted that it might have killed civilians.

Later on the same day, the alliance’s statement said “NATO regrets the loss of innocent civilian lives” and blamed “a weapons system failure” as a possible cause for the strike.

The bombardment continued and civilian causalities kept mounting, but NATO never acknowledged any more civilian deaths despite conducting some 26,000 sorties over Libya. 

RESPONSIBILITY FOR LIBYAN CASUALTIES

The destruction of Libya continued for seven months.

By the time the bombardment stopped, in October 2011, hundreds of civilians were killed, Libya was ruined and ungovernable, and Qaddafi himself was murdered, paving the way for NATO to declare victory as if it had just prevailed over a superpower.

Eleven years later, no one knows exactly how many women, children and elderly Libyans were killed.

While most deaths are well documented, a precise figure has eluded even major international rights groups who investigated what happened.

Amnesty International, for example, puts the death toll at 55 civilians while Human Rights Watch estimates the number to be 72, one-third of whom were children under the age of 8.

In the latest investigation conducted just last year by Airwars, an independent investigation web site, estimated that anywhere from 223 to 403 civilians were killed by NATO air strikes over Libya from March to October.

I conducted numerous eye-witness interviews in 2015 and think the figure is around 200 Libyans killed.

Most of the civilian deaths occurred in residential areas, private homes and farm land in more than 10 cities and towns across western Libya, including Tripoli; Surman, west of Tripoli; Bani Walid in the southwest; and Berga, east of the capital. 

NATO has never investigated the deaths and still does not acknowledge any responsibility.

Over several years I wrote to NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, asking for answers, but no one answered my questions.

In October 2015 I attended a NATO-organized event in Madrid, Spain, where I confronted the alliance’s then Deputy Secretary General, Alexander Vershbow and asked whether NATO knew how many civilians were killed in Libya.

He denied that a single civilian ever was killed despite NATO admitting to at least one incident—the aforementioned incident in Souq al-Juma’a. His colleague, Catherine Royle, Political Adviser, Joint Forces Command Brunssum, refused to discuss the issue. 

SEEKING JUSTICE THROUGH THE COURTS

In 2012, Khaled el-Hamedi, who lost his entire family when NATO destroyed his family residential compound in Surman, in June 2011, brought a case before a Belgian court.

Two years later his lawyer, Jan Fermon, told me that the case was rejected because NATO, as an organization, has diplomatic immunity.

In October 2021, in Paris, France Fermon reported that he is preparing to file a case before the European Court of Human Rights as a last resort to get some kind of acknowledgment and maybe an apology from the alliance.

However the prospects of getting either are pretty slim. 

In 2012, survivor Mohamed al-Gharari appointed a Belgian lawyer to hold NATO accountable.

He paid him several thousand dollars but nothing happened and the lawyer never contacted him again.

Desperate, Al-Gharari turned to me asking if I could get in touch with the elusive Georges Henri Beauthier, the lawyer. I tried several times but in vain. 

RESPONSE OF LIBYAN OFFICIALS

The other painful side of the tragedy for NATO victims’ families is purely Libyan.

All successive governments that have come to power in Libya since October 2011 failed to do anything to help them.

They do not seem to think that their fellow Libyan civilians killed by NATO deserve some kind of recognition. 

Worst still, the entire judicial community in Libya, including private lawyers, have for political reasons shunned the issue and hesitated to even meet with the victims’ families.

The latest attempt was last summer when Al-Gharari and Al-Morabit petitioned Libya’s Prosecutor General’s Office to investigate the matter.

Several months later the petition was shelved.

Just last November I wrote to several private lawyers in Tripoli asking whether they would meet some of the victims’ anguished relatives, as a way of supporting them.

I never received any response. 

Until recently, the subject of NATO’s civilian deaths was a taboo in Libya.

Talking about it publically could lead to unpleasant consequences. Libya’s new masters and their supporting militias still view NATO’s 2011 mission favorably since it ended the Qaddafi regime.

They seem to believe that all civilians killed by NATO airstrikes in 2011 were, somehow, directly associated with Qaddafi’s efforts to stay in power. 

Libya today is worse off than it was when NATO ended its air campaign in October 2011, leaving the U.N. to pick up the pieces.

All U.N. efforts to broker a political settlement have so far failed. Last September the U.N. appointed its latest envoy—number eight in 11 years—to revive the political process prioritizing elections.

Abdoulaye Bathily, a former Senegalese minister, is trying to get the Libyan factions to agree to a legislative base for elections to end the long overdue transitional period.

It is unlikely that he will get anywhere, given the continuing foreign meddling in the country’s internal affairs and the corrupt political elite.

Elections were planned for Dec. 24, 2021, but they never happened. Some optimistic observers think that elections might be possible by next summer, but that is very unlikely.

RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT CIVILIANS

Ironically, the 2011 military intervention in Libya was packaged as an obligation for the international community based on the principle of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) civilians.

The civilian population’s overall situation in the country, after all these years, is much worse than it was when Resolution 1973 was enacted, ostensibly to make Libya a democratic and peaceful country. 

The Libyan experience is a testimony to the difficulties associated with “humanitarian military intervention,” as it violates the U.N. Charter which cherishes the sovereignty of nations.

The involvement of NATO in Libya makes a mockery of everything the U.N. stands for. 

Historically, NATO has never been successfully sued and hardly admitted any wrongdoings in the two other major interventions the alliance undertook in the former Yugoslavia (1999) and Afghanistan (2001-2021).

Almost all major international rights groups accused NATO of killing civilians in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Libya but the alliance never answered to such accusations.

Al-Gharari, Al-Morabit and El-Hamedi vow to continue their efforts to hold NATO accountable, however unlikely that might be. They are not giving up just yet.

Who armed Ukraine and decided to expand NATO? Prof John Mearsheimer

Intelligence, Savvy and Knowledge from Mr Mearsheimer… Spot On!

The West is leading Ukraine down the primrose path and the end result is that Ukraine is going to get wrecked …

What we’re doing is encouraging the Ukrainians to play tough with the Russians.
We’re encouraging the Ukrainians to think that they ultimately will become part of the West …
And of course the Ukrainians are playing along with this, and the Ukrainians are almost completely unwilling to compromise with the Russians and instead want to pursue a hardline policy.
Well as I said to you before, if they do that their country is going to get wrecked.

By Noah Carl  /  10 March 2022

Professor John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago is the man who, way back in 2015, said the following:

Quite a prophetic remark, you might say.

Indeed, predicting that Ukraine would “get wrecked” seven years in advance would seem to suggest that Mearsheimer has a good understanding – that he’s worth listening to.

(Note: Mearsheimer did not think Russia would launch a full-scale invasion, so he wasn’t 100% right.)

With the Ukraine crisis still dominating the headlines, Mearsheimer must be the golden boy of his department, right? Actually, no.

A group of students recently circulated a letter denouncing him for “propagating Putinism” and claiming his actions are “extremely detrimental for our country”.

The students take issue with several statements from Mearsheimer’s 2015 lecture (which is the source of the quotation above).

For example, they characterize his use of the word “coup” to describe the toppling of Viktor Yanukovych as “ideological rather than academic”.

(They prefer the more heroic-sounding “revolution”.)

The students end their missive by demanding “public disclosure” of all Russian funding received by Professor Mearsheimer, as well as a “statement from the university community at large that it does not condone anti-Ukraine ideology on campus”.

They also claim that, if left unaddressed, the problem could “tarnish the reputation of our beloved University”.

I haven’t been able to find any articles suggesting that the university took action in response to the letter.

So the students’ campaign appears to have failed. Good.

And it’s of course absurd to suggest that Mearsheimer holds an “anti-Ukraine ideology”.

Indeed, much of his 2015 lecture (which the students probably just skimmed through while searching for ‘incriminating’ statements) is concerned with how to prevent Ukraine from “getting wrecked”.

As I noted in a previous post, Mearsheimer’s proposal comprised three elements: ruling out NATO membership for Ukraine; funding an economic rescue plan, together with Russia and the IMF; and insisting that Ukraine respect minority rights, especially minority language rights.

It seems plausible that if we’d followed this proposal, we wouldn’t be in the situation we are today, with Russian troops advancing on Kiev, and the West powerless to intervene for fear of sparking World War III.

From what I see, Mearsheimer is a far better friend to Ukraine than the people who dismissed his warnings.

NATO Says It’s Ready to Back Ukraine

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Jens Stoltenberg said part of the plan is to train Ukrainian forces on how to use NATO equipment

“There are countries within NATO who want the war to continue,” Cavusoglu said. “They want Russia to become weaker.”

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday that the Western military alliance is ready to back Ukraine in its war against Russia for years to come.

“We need to be prepared for the long term,” Stoltenberg said in Brussels. “There is absolutely the possibility that this war will drag on and last for months and years.”

Stoltenberg said that part of NATO’s plan for long-term support includes training Ukraine to use Western military equipment, as opposed to the Soviet-designed arms Ukrainian forces use now.

“NATO allies are preparing to provide support over a long period of time and also help Ukraine to transit, move from old Soviet-era equipment to more modern NATO-standard weapons and systems that will also require more training,” he said.

The US and its NATO allies have made it increasingly clear that they don’t think the war in Ukraine will be ending anytime soon.

President Biden asked Congress for $33 billion in new aid for Ukraine on Thursday, including $20.4 billion for military aid, and said the massive package “begins the transition to longer-term security assistance.”

While pouring weapons into Ukraine and escalating sanctions on Russia, the US and most NATO members don’t appear to be interested in pursuing a diplomatic solution to end the fighting.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the US’s top diplomat, hasn’t spoken with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov since February 15.

Last week,  Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said some NATO member states want the war in Ukraine to last longer to hurt Russia.

“There are countries within NATO who want the war to continue,” Cavusoglu said. “They want Russia to become weaker.”

Earlier this week, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said that one of Washington’s goals in Ukraine is to see a “weakened” Russia.

“Without disinformation, NATO would crumble”

 

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War is presented as an act of pacification. War criminals are depicted as pacifiers. War becomes peace. Reality is reversed. When lies become truth, there is no going back.

 Q:What is the result of the Symposium in Florence?

Michel Chossudovsky: The event was a great success, with the participation of speakers from the United States, Europe and Russia.

We presented the history of NATO. We identified and carefully documented its crimes against humanity.

And at the end of the Symposium, we presented the “Declaration of Florence,” a way of exiting the war system.

Q: In your introduction, you affirmed that the Atlantic Alliance is not a true alliance…

Michel Chossudovsky: On the contrary, under the appearance of a multinational military alliance, it is the Pentagon which dominates the decision-making mechanisms of NATO.

The USA controls the command structures of NATO, which are incorporated with those of the United States.

The Supreme Allied Commander in Europe (SACEUR) is always a US General nominated by Washington.

The Secretary General, currently Jens Stoltenberg, is essentially a bureaucrat who handles public relations. He has no decision-making role.

Q: Another theme you raised was that of the US military bases in Italy and other European countries, including in the East, despite the fact that the Warsaw Pact has not existed since 1991, and despite the promise made to Gorbachev that no extension of NATO towards the East would ever occur.

What is the purpose of these bases?

Michel Chossudovsky: NATO’s tacit objective – an important theme in our debate in Florence – is to implement, under a different denomination, the de facto “military occupation” of Western Europe.

The United States not only continue to “occupy” the ex-members of the Second World War “Axis countries” (Italy, Germany), but have used the badge of NATO to set up US military bases in all of Western Europe, and, thereafter, in Eastern Europe in the wake of the Cold War, and in the Balkans in the wake of the NATO war against Yugoslavia (Serbia-Montenegro).

Q: What has changed in terms of the possible use of nuclear weapons?

Michel Chossudovsky: Immediately after the Cold War, a new nuclear doctrine was formulated, focused on the preventive use of nuclear weapons, in other words, on a nuclear first strike as a means of self-defense.

Within the framework of USA-NATO interventions, presented as peace-keeping measures, a new generation of “low power” and “non-usable” nuclear weapons was created, described as “inoffensive for civilians”.

US political leaders consider them to be “bombs for pacification.” The Cold War agreements, which established certain safety measures, have now been abandoned.

The concept of “Mutually Assured Destruction,” relative to the use of nuclear weapons, has been replaced by the doctrine of preventive nuclear war.

Q: NATO was “obsolete” at the beginning of the Trump presidency, but now it has been rebooted by the White House. What relation is there between the arms race and the economic crisis?

Michel Chossudovsky: War and globalization go hand in hand. Militarization relies on the imposition of macro-economic restructuration in the target countries. It imposes military spending in order to support the war economy to the detriment of civil economy.

It leads to economic destabilization and the loss of the power of national institutions.

An example – recently President Trump proposed huge budget cuts in the health and teaching sectors, and in social infrastructures, although he has asked for a massive increase in the budget of the Pentagon.

At the beginning of his administration, President Trump confirmed the increase of expenditure in the military nuclear programme, launched by Obama, from 1,000 to 1,200 billions of dollars, claiming that this would serve to make the world safer.

All over the European Union, the increase in military spending, coupled with austerity measures, is leading to the demise of what used to be called “the Welfare State.”

Now, under US pressure, NATO is engaged in increasing military spending, and Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg declares that this is the correct decision to “guarantee the safety of our population.”

The military interventions are coupled with concomitant acts of economic sabotage and financial manipulation.

The final objective is the conquest of both human and material resources and of political institutions. The acts of war support a process of total economic conquest.

The hegemonic project of the United States is to transform countries and international sovereign institutions into territories which are open for their penetration.

One of their instruments is the imposition of heavy penalties on debt-ridden countries. The imposition of lethal macro-economic reforms serves to impoverish vast sectors of the world population.

Q: What is now, and what will become the role of the medias?

Michel Chossudovsky: Without the disinformation broadcast, in general, by almost all the medias, the military programme of the USA-NATO would collapse like a house of cards.

The imminent dangers of a new war with the most modern weapons and the atomic peril are not the sort of news that makes the headlines.

War is presented as an act of pacification. War criminals are depicted as pacifiers. War becomes peace. Reality is reversed. When lies become truth, there is no going back.

Manlio Dinucci

NATO’s Stoltenberg, Satan’s Hollow Man

Stoltenberg’s raving ego and vanity have just been fed by the witless ovations of the US Congress, much as US President Woodrow Wilson, a century ago reveled in the adulation of the crowds of Europe as his own mad, megalomaniacal policies sold them down the river for 30 more years of war, poverty, fear, conquest and death.

Image result for WW1 animated gif woodrow wilson

An advocate for democracy and world peace, President Wilson led the United States into an unnecessary and disastrous war via false flag event. World War I has been called “probably history’s worst catastrophe.” Under Wilson, passed legislation establishing the Jewish Federal Reserve and additionally, Wilson nominated the first Jewish person to the U.S. Supreme Court, Louis Brandeis (1856-1941), who was confirmed by the Senate in 1916.

May 4, 2019

Satan, we read in the second verse of the second chapter of the Biblical Book of Job, can never just relax and take it easy. He is always on the go, always looking for more trouble to stir up.

“And the LORD said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.”

And so it is with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. A veteran prime minister of Norway for eight years and political head and chief mouthpiece for the Atlantic Alliance for the past half-decade, he started the month of April addressing a Joint Session of both chambers of Congress in Washington, an honor given to no previous head of the alliance in the past 70 years.

Not content to rest on these laurels he went on later in the month to publci boast how NATO “increased its naval presence in the Black Sea, with NATO’s maritime groups taking part in exercises and also conducting several port visits” including to Georgia and Ukraine.

He called on Russia to “respect international law” so as to “make the waters of the Black Sea more secure”, according to a CaucasusWatch.de report.

And to prepare for his epochal address to Congress, Stoltenberg ended the month of March attending military exercises in Georgia, a very small, extremely unstable state embraced and supported by both the US government and NATO despite its record of violent conflicts and oppression of minorities since achieving independence following the end of the Soviet Union.

Georgia’s military strength is derisory. It has an armed land force of only 37,000 men. The effective combat strength of the Georgian Air Force is a dozen old Sukhoi combat jets.

The idea that bringing Georgia into NATO could somehow increase the deterrent and military strength of the alliance is a ridiculous joke.

It would simply further weaken the already alarmingly-overstretched US armed forces at a time when Washington is losing the only serious land military power apart from tiself in all of NATO, Turkey.

Georgia is no Turkey: Comparable to Estonia, maybe. But Stoltenberg cannot tell the difference between any of them.

Stoltenberg’s two immediate deputies are vastly more experienced and formidable figures, both US military/strategic diplomats Alexander Vershbow and Rose Gottemoeller.

His own background showed no serious engagement whatsoever with strategic issues, as one might expect from a small, usually peaceful and secure nation like Norway.

The illusion of being one of the powerful and mighty of the world has clearly bred in him extremely dangerous, albeitabsurd delusions.

Indeed, in the only serious life-or-death security crisis Stoltenberg has ever had to face, he and his government proved utterly worthless.

On July 22, 2011, Anders Behring Breivik, a hate crazed young Norwegian neo-Nazi, singlehandedly paralyzed the national security services by setting off a bomb near the prime minister’s house in Oslo that killed eight people.

Amid the confusion, Breivik then traveled out to a youth camp of Stoltenberg’s own ruling Labour Party on a nearby island where he massacred 69 people, almost all of them teens or in their early 20s.

There was not a single armed security guard on the island. It was the worst mass killing in Norwegian history. Stoltenberg had been prime minister for seven years:  The appalling state of the security services and of security for the summer camp for the children of his own followers were his responsibility as national chief executive and party leader.

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He was even due to give a speech at the camp the next day and was preparing it while the young people were being slaughtered. He was never held responsible for his shameful bungles.

The idea that such a man could raise dup only two years later to lead the largest and most wide-reaching military alliance in European history boggles the mind.

Once head of NATO, Stoltenberg underwent a predictable transformation: The lifelong anti-war dove who had protested the Vietnam War in his youth, overnight became an armchair war hawk.

Today, Stoltenberg is all for sucking both Ukraine and Georgia – weak, unstable and violent states lastingly destabilized by US and Western coups – into his (supposedly) mighty NATO.

Image result for Jens Stoltenberg animated gif meme

 

Stoltenberg’s raving ego and vanity have just been fed by the witless ovations of the US Congress, much as US President Woodrow Wilson, a century ago reveled in the adulation of the crowds of Europe as his own mad, megalomaniacal policies sold them down the river for 30 more years of war, poverty, fear, conquest and death.

Today, Stoltenberg’s capacity to wreak catastrophe is even greater. With him on the job, a lot more people than Job will suffer at the hands of Satan.

A crucial position that could be used to work for lasting peace and mutual understanding between East and West has fallen instead into the hands of one of T S Eliot’s Hollow Men: A ludicrous and contemptible phony whose witless posturing threatens to incinerate the human race.

NATO to Israel: “We will not defend the Jewish State” (not today Satan)

Not today, Satan

Image result for satan animated gif

On Saturday NATO’s secretary-general said the alliance wouldn’t come to Israel’s defense in case of attack by Iran.

Jens Stoltenberg told the magazine Der Spiegel that Israel is a partner, but not a member and that NATO’s “security guarantee” doesn’t apply to the Jewish state.

Stoltenberg said NATO isn’t involved in Mideast peace efforts or in conflicts in the region.

NATO’s treaty requires the alliance to militarily defend members nations, of which there are 28, but not partner ones. Still, partner states regularly contribute to NATO operations such as those in Afghanistan and naval missions off Somalia and in the Mediterranean Sea.

He spoke at a time of rising threats from Israel to Iran.

In Unanimous Vote, House Says No Legal Right to Attack Iran

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In a little noticed but potentially monumental development, the House of Representatives voted unanimously for an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2019 (H.R. 5515) that says no statute authorizes the use of military force against Iran.

“The unanimous passage of this bipartisan amendment is a strong and timely counter to the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Iran deal and its increasingly hostile rhetoric,” Ellison said in a press release. “This amendment sends a powerful message that the American people and Members of Congress do not want a war with Iran. Today, Congress acted to reclaim its authority over the use of military force.”

Unilateral Sanctions Against Iran Are Illegal

Image result for not today satan

When Trump announced his withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, he also reinstated US nuclear sanctions and “the highest level” of economic restrictions on Iran. Those sanctions could remove over one million barrels of Iran’s oil from the global market.

The unilateral imposition of sanctions by the United States, without United Nations Security Council approval, violates the UN Charter. Article 41 empowers the Council, and only the Council, to impose and approve the use of sanctions.

The other parties to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the formal name for the Iran deal, oppose ending it. Known as P5+1, they include the permanent members of the Security Council — the US, the United Kingdom, Russia, France and China — plus Germany, as well as the European Union.

At a minimum, France, Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom are not likely to cooperate with the US’s re-imposition of sanctions.

US stops funding Al Qaeda’s rescue team, ‘White Helmets’

Well, well. The ‘White Helmets’ aren’t looking quite so pristine as they flee with terrorists from liberated areas in Syria.

The Duran has reported extensively on the real identity of The White Helmets, and we would suggest George Clooney seriously examine the overwhelming amount of evidence that exposes The White Helmets as the Al Qaeda-ISIS terrorists fakes that they are.

The “White Helmets” stole the name Syria Civil Defense from the real Syrian organization. They appropriated the name “White Helmets” from the Argentinian rescue organization Cascos Blancos/White Helmets. They are not independent; they are funded by governments. They are not apolitical; they actively campaign for a No Fly Zone. They do not work across Syria; they ONLY work in areas controlled by the armed opposition, mostly Nusa/Al Qaeda. They are not unarmed; they sometimes do carry weapons and they also celebrate terrorist victories. They assist in terrorist executions.

cbsnews.com May 3, 2018

Less than two months ago the State Department hosted members of the White Helmets at Foggy Bottom. At the time, the humanitarian group was showered with praise for saving lives in Syria.

“Our meetings in March were very positive. There were even remarks from senior officials about long-term commitments even into 2020. There were no suggestions whatsoever about stopping support,” Raed Saleh, the group’s leader, told CBS News.

Now they are not getting any U.S funding as the State Department says the support is “under active review.” The U.S had accounted for about a third of the group’s overall funding.

“This is a very worrisome development,” said an official from the White Helmets. “Ultimately, this will negatively impact the humanitarian workers ability to save lives.”

White Helmets founder Le Mesurier, who graduated from Britain’s elite Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, is said to be an ‘ex’ British military intelligence officer involved in a number of other NATO ‘humanitarian intervention’ theatres of war, including Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq, as well as postings in Lebanon and Palestine. He also boasts a series of high-profile posts at the UN, EU, and UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Not to mention his connections back to the infamous Blackwater (Academi).

The White Helmets, formally known as the Syrian Civil Defense, are a group of 3,000 volunteer rescuers that have saved thousands of lives since the Syrian civil war began in 2011. A makeshift 911, they have run into the collapsing buildings to pull children, men and women out of danger’s way. They say they have saved more than 70,000 lives

Having not received U.S. funding in recent weeks, White Helmets are questioning what this means for the future. They have received no formal declaration from the U.S. government that the monetary assistance has come to a full halt, but the group’s people on the ground in Syria report that their funds have been cut off.

Assad: Chemical Attack Was 100% Fabricated, “al-Qaeda Shaved Their Beards And Put On White Helmets”

The group has an “emergency plan” if the funding is halted for one or two months — but they are worried about the long-term freeze.

“If this is a long-term or permanent halt, it would have a serious impact on our ability to provide the same intensity and quality of services that we currently provide to civilians,” said Saleh.

An internal State Department document said that its Near East Bureau needed confirmation from the administration to green light funding for the White Helmets in Syria by April 15th or the department would initiate “shut-down procedures on a rolling basis.” That document also said that the department needed to be notified by April 6th that it could continue programs that focus on removing land mines, restoring essential services and providing food to moderate forces and their families or those programs would also have to be shut down.

However, U.S. government officials are not talking on the record about the date of the actual funding cutoff for each program, which is leading to confusion.

State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert has previously called the White Helmets “selfless men” and asked journalists to watch a documentary about their work. But the State Department did not respond to a CBS News inquiry earlier this week about which programs are still receiving funding, and the date for when certain programs will lose their funding. 

President Trump put a freeze on the $200 million in U.S. funding for recovery efforts in Syria in late March. This freeze means that U.S. support for the White Helmets is not the only project in jeopardy. There are also many other stabilization efforts that are backed by the U.S. — including the clearing of explosive devices, bringing back electricity, rebuilding schools, and getting water running — that may end soon.

U.S. officials are working to see if there is a way to adjust existing funding to cover the costs for these projects. They are also trying to get other countries, such as Germany, to cover some of the costs. Earlier this year, at the Brussels for the donor conference for Syria, German Foreign Minister Maas pledged more than $1.1 billion to help people in need in Syria. But as of now, Germany has not officially committed to stepping in beyond this initial commitment.

Observers are also increasingly concerned about Syria’s young people, who are more prone to radicalization if they don’t get the security and support that they need. As a result of the fighting in the country, thousands of schools have been destroyed. The handful of schools that opened their doors again have received simple necessities like chairs, tables and blackboards from the U.S. — but in most schools children are still sitting on the ground, and teachers are extremely hard to come by.

“The amount of U.S. support is very limited but it is better than nothing, so if that will stop, that will be a disaster. After ISIS they started to open the schools and if money stops, that will be done,” said a senior member of the Deir ez-Zor city council. “Without education the people only have ISIS ideas.”

This week, the State Department said it would continue to defend its partners on the ground in Syria when they announced the final operations to liberate ISIS strongholds in the country.

“The fighting will be difficult, but we and our partners will prevail. We will defend United States, Coalition, and partner forces if attacked. The days of ISIS controlling territory and terrorizing the people of Syria are coming to an end,” wrote State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert. She did not write anything about the stabilization projects.

Meanwhile, much of Syria that has been cleared of ISIS control — such as Raqqa, its self-proclaimed capital — is still in ruins and almost impossible to live in.

“Raqqa is like a sick person in an emergency room. So the money or treatment should come faster than the routine way. He is not a normal sick person,” Abdullah al-Arian, a lawyer in Raqqa advising the governing Civil Council.

“The passion and power the U.S. put in to liberate Raqqa does not at all equal the passion to rebuild Raqqa. It is very much different, much less, much more slow,” says al-Arian. “They give us very beautiful words and promises but not much else.”