In September, Russia's Ministry of Defense and Foreign Ministry said that terrorist groups in Syria's Idlib, in cooperation with the White Helmets, were preparing a provocation using hazardous chemicals in case of a Syrian army offensive.
Radio Sputnik talked about the issue with Vanessa Beeley, an independent investigative journalist who specializes on the Middle East and Syria in particular.
Sputnik: It seems that the Netherlands has taken the decision to cut funding to the White Helmets over their alleged links to terrorists; what are your thoughts on this?
Vanessa Beeley: For one thing, the Netherlands has been a minor player in the regime change or destabilization project in Syria that's been waged by a number of NATO states, their allies in the Gulf states and Israel since 2011. The most impressive thing for me about the fact that the Netherlands has withdrawn funding is, of course, the primary intermediary for the funding that the White Helmets receive from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office as an alleged NGO, it's not actually an NGO, because it's funded by a number of the EU member states and by the British government, is Mayday Rescue, which is based in the Netherlands.
Originally it was registered in Dubai by James Le Mesurier, the former MI6 creator of the White Helmets. But it's based in the Netherlands and it's the primary recipient of funds from the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund, the British government's fund that has probably been the most effective in funding the euphemistically called "opposition" in Syria; that includes the White Helmets, the Free Syrian Police and the local councils, which have all been proven to have strong affiliations to some of the most extremist groups in Syria, including al-Qaeda.
The fact that the Dutch government has withdrawn funding, while it is not one of the major funders of the White Helmets, I believe it has put in about 12.5 million, what it does, it's just chipping away at this image that has been created by a billionaire-funded PR campaign to protect and promote this organization in order to make it possible for them to corroborate the evidence that is needed to support the foreign policy of particularly the British government and also the US government.
Sputnik: We've recently seen that the Netherlands has ceased funding; I believe that previously, Donald Trump had also said that his country would stop funding Syria and that was also supposed to touch on the work or the funding of the White Helmets, although it wasn't significant. Do you expect any other countries to follow suit? Of course, Trump didn't say he was stopping his funding due to the affiliation of the group…
Vanessa Beeley: I actually reported at the time that there were reports of this funding freeze. At that time, the leader of the White Helmets was being entertained by John McCain at the Sedona Forum at the John McCain Institute, and they were being offered contracts with Turkey and Qatar; at the same time, Theresa May increased funding to the White Helmets. But in a recent interview that I did alongside Raed Al Saleh, who was based in Turkey at the time, on RT, it was made clear that the US had never frozen any funding to the White Helmets.
So, in my view this was a ploy to ensure that they received further financing form the British government and that they were enabled to receive contracts from both Turkey and Qatar, who are known financiers of terrorist groups inside Syria.
Sputnik: Do you think that there's any other move, other than the Netherlands having announced this ceasing of funding? Are there any other countries that would likely follow suit?
Vanessa Beeley: That's a very interesting question and I think that remains to be seen. We may see some of the lesser players in this regime change cabal working against Syria, the Syrian government and its allies. For example, I believe that Denmark has put in a small amount of money to the White Helmets; there're also countries like Australia and New Zealand, who have indirectly worked with the White Helmets, providing training and equipment. As I said, we may see some of the lesser players starting to get cold feet.
I don't think that any great credit should go to the Dutch government; I think this is pure damage limitation exercise on their part, because they can see that the story is rapidly unraveling. My recent time in Syria, I'm still in Syria now, has further demonstrated it. From my interviews with people who have managed to escape Idlib, for example, and are now in the Syrian government protected areas of Eastern Idlib, for example, or in Aleppo, who clearly stated that the White Helmets were working with the terrorists; in fact, some people said that they are not only working with the terrorists, they are the terrorists.
In other words, each extremist group has their own White Helmets, people that become White Helmets for the purpose of propaganda or producing, for example, chemical weapon attack videos. I think that people are starting to realize that as areas across Syria are liberated, the entire propaganda construct is being broken down and unraveled, not by journalists like myself, but by the testimony of the Syrian people.
The views and opinions expressed by Vanessa Beeley are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.