‘Shout Out’ for Syrian Opposition Lobby in USA?

Kerry failed to mention that Elizabeth O'Bagy is a paid lobbyist.

By Iqbal Jassat  

Shocking details unearthed by award-winning journalist Max Blumenthal reveal a gory mix of shady PR operatives with links to Israel, behind an active push for war on Syria.

This comes against the background of a humiliating personal disaster for President Obama during the recent G20 summit in Russia where his pitch for military intervention failed dismally.

Along with his British counterpart whose parliament shot down PM Cameron’s single-minded determination to commit his troops for military action in Syria, Obama appeared to be deeply embarrassed by President Putin’s tough anti-war stance.

Blumenthal has uncovered that the Wall Street Journal editorial by Elizabeth O’Bagy that Secretary of State John Kerry and Senator John McCain cited to support their assessment of Syrian rebels as predominately “moderate” and pro-West, didn’t tell the full story.

“What Kerry and McCain neglected to mention was that O’Bagy had been recently hired as the political director of the Syrian Emergency Task Force (SETF), a little known outfit that functions as a lobbying arm of the Syrian opposition in Washington.”

Kerry’s commendation of O’Bagy’s opinion without disclosing her role as a paid lobbyist is not only dishonest but an attempt to mislead the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the public.

In fact until a storm of criticism erupted, her byline in the Wall Street Journal did not reflect her role as a paid Syrian opposition lobbyist.

Despite this non-disclosure and the fact that she is also known to be connected to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), why haven’t alarm bells been set off?

ISW has as its president Kimberly Kagan who served on General Stanley McCrystal’s strategic review team in 2009, advocating for a dramatic expansion of US presence in Afghanistan.

Blumenthal claims that in ISW’s 2011 report it detailed its close working relationship with Palantir Technologies, a private surveillance firm contracted by Bank of America in an unsuccessful plot to sabotage Glenn Greenwald.

In a startling admission pointing to “embedded journos”, the report listed New York Times reporter Michael Gordon as “ISW’s journalist In residence.” Gordon was the guy who back in January 2013 published an article claiming that Syrian armed forces had used sarin gas, hoping to trigger a US intervention.

Neither O’Bagy nor ISW or SETF can be held up as impartial. Blumenthal’s detailed research reveals the opposite: these so-called “think tanks” are engaged in making a case for Western military intervention.

Indeed, given that SETF has close ties to Israel’s powerful lobby AIPAC, it is not surprising to learn that the group is dedicated to regime change and according to Blumenthal, “is pressing for any and all military measures to accomplish the mission – even, apparently, boots on the ground.”

John Kerry’s “shout out” to her during the Senate hearing questions his sense of judgment. Being naïve to believe that O’Bagy’s sinister role will remain shielded from public scrutiny, betrays a mindset that hopes that “soundbites” will sell the war.

– Iqbal Jassat is an Exec Member of the Media Review Network – Johannesburg – South Africa. Visit: www.mediareviewnet.com.

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