by Adam Garrie at Oriental Review
The recent Guardian hit-piece against journalists Vanessa Beeley, Professor Tim Anderson and Eva Bartlett is something far more sinister than most people have yet to realise. The piece which can be read here is a very crude attempt to discredit the efforts of independent journalists who have exposed the links between a group called White Helmets and terrorists committing war crimes in Syria, in contravention of well known principles of international law.
The gist of the Guardian piece is that the findings of the aforementioned journalists are not credible because they are being “used by Russia” to justify Russia’s foreign policy in regards to Syria.
First of all, the Guardian’s premise is rather absurd to begin with, as according to international law, Russia’s presence in Syria is fully legal while that of the countries that back the White Helmets (the US, UK and France, among others) is illegal.
Consequently, the presence of a so-called NGO like White Helmets (in reality they are handsomely funded by western governments) is also illegal as they are operating in Syria without the consent of the Syrian government and without any mandate from the United Nations.
Therefore, the burden of proof in any criticisms of Anderson, Beeley and Bartlett, lies on those who are openly advocating for violations of international law.
But even more fundamentally, there is a fatal flaw in the Guardian’s hatchet job.
On the 2nd of November, an exhaustive report on the alleged chemical attack in Syria’s Khan Sheikhoun was released by the combined Foreign, Defence and Industry and Trade Ministries of the Russian Federation.
The findings of this forensic study affirm that the journalistic findings of Anderson, Bartlett and Beeley regarding both the White Helmets organisation as well as the bogus US narrative on the so-called chemical attack at Khan Sheikhoun.
The following are the crucial findings of the official Russian study:
- “Victims” of the alleged attack arrived at hospitals hours before the alleged attack was said to have occurred.
- The crater at Khan Sheikhoun was consistent with that created from a ground based crude incendiary device, not an explosive dropped from a Syrian fighter jet, as the US alleged.
- The video of White Helmets ‘medics’ responding to the ‘chemical attack’ is a forgery. Based on the protective wear and lack thereof, seen on the White Helmets ‘volunteers’, the men would have died instantly if dressed in such a way around a real Sarin gas attack.
- Forensic reports show that gas was poured into the crater in question, only after the staged ‘rescue operation’ had long concluded.
- The OPCW report’s findings on the issue were politicised due to the influence of the US government
Even prior to the report from the 2nd of November, the Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova stated that the White Helmets are known to travel in terrorist circles and have been guilty of terrorist atrocities themselves.
On the 27th of April, Zakharova stated,
The White Helmets not only feel at home on territories controlled by Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State (Daesh) but also openly express positive attitude towards them, provide information and even financial assistance to them.
There is documentary evidence proving that White Helmets members participated in some operations carried out by Jabhat al-Nusra, as well as covered up the signs of civilian executions
Yet the Guardian’s piece about western journalists in Syria, whose independent findings were later confirmed by those of the Russian government, does not mention this fact.
In reality, the Guardian piece is more than a hit-job on Anderson, Bartlett and Beeley, it is an attack on the official statements and forensic reporting of all levels of the Russian government.
The independent findings of the western journalists and those of the Russian government have been backed up by copious amounts of evidence. By contrast, the Guardian hit-piece does not attempt to offer any exculpatory evidence in respect of the White Helmets. The report merely attempts to destroy the credibility of Anderson, Bartlett and Beeley on the basis that their work has become popular and that their findings have been discussed on the news outlet RT.
The Guardian piece neither proves nor disproves anything. It merely attempts to use crude talking points borrowed from the American “Russiagate” narrative in order to demonise anyone said to be associated with Russia, even though Anderson, Bartlett and Beeley are not associated with the Russian government.
However, unlike those alleging Russian interference in the 2016 US election, the Guardian did not have the courage to attack the credibility of the Russian study which vindicates the findings of Anderson, Bartlett and Beeley.
Perhaps this is because Russia is more than capable of responding to such a frivolous attack, not least through the social media page of the Russian Embassy in the UK. Maybe however, even Guardian readers are growing tired of the anti-Russia narrative, so instead the Guardian thought they might be able to publish something more ‘exciting’ by attacking independent journalists?
Whatever the thinking of the Guardian’s editors might be, the fact of the matter is that unless the Guardian presents evidence from a study as exhaustive and as thorough as that which Russia conducted in the wake of the OPCW report which has been forensically refuted, the findings of Anderson, Bartlett and Beeley remain not only vindicated but validated.