Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
November 28, 2015

"Moderate" Head Choppers As Defined By Brookings Doha

Charles Lister, a propagandist at Brookings Doha which is financed by the Wahhabi regime of Qatar, has been tasked to sell Islamist radical head choppers in Syria as "moderate" rebels. He isn't good at it but the "western" media love him as a talkative"expert" from a formerly reputable think tank.

The mask comes off when Lister has to find the 70,000 "moderates" the British Premier Cameron promised to support by waging war on Syria. He finds those by ignoring a word's literal meaning. Here is Lister's new Orwellian definition of "moderate":

As diplomatic efforts for Syria gain pace and as Saudi Arabia prepares to host a major conference bringing together 60-80 representatives of a broad spectrum opposition, the definition of “moderate” has been shifting. The most effective definition now must be based upon a combined assessment of (a) what groups are acknowledged as being opposed to ISIL and (b) what groups our governments want, or need to be involved in a political process.

He says that a group is "moderate" when:

  1. it dislikes ISIS for whatever reason
  2. some government wants or needs the group to be categorized as "moderate"

The first fits for everyone who claims to be not ISIS including al-Qaeda. The second part is just dependent on who the sponsor of a specific groups is. If Saudi Arabia sponsors al-Qaeda and wants it "moderate", al-Qaeda is "moderate". If Turkey sponsors the Turkistan Islamic Party its head-choppers are "moderate". The Lister definition is completely independent of the observable actions of these groups and of the believes or plans such groups openly or secretly hold. It is bollocks.

Lister goes on to lists two handful of groups, some existing, some mere fantasy, and adds imaginary numbers of how many fighter belong to each of the various groups. Add them up and there you have the 70,000 Cameron was trolling about.

Lister lists, for example, Asala wa-al-Tanmiya with 5,000 fighters as "moderate". It is an Islamist gang sponsored by Saudi Arabia. Its main allies on the battlefield, according to its Wiki entry, are the Islamic Front and the al-Nusra Front. But they do fight the Islamic State and have a government backing them. Thus these al-Qaeda allies are now "moderate".

Lister's original "moderate" table tweeted by him here (backup) even includes Jaish al-Islam with allegedly 12,500 fighters and Ahrar al-Sham with 15,000 fighters. Both of these groups follow the same ideology as the Islamic State and al-Qaeda and commit (incl. video) similar atrocities:

The largest Islamist rebel group “Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham” has posted a video on their multiple social media accounts that show their fighters mutilating the head of a wounded militant from the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) in the northern Aleppo countryside.
Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham has attempted to promote themselves as a “moderate” rebel group after their Op-Ed in the Washington Post; however, their behavior and their numerous crimes in northern Syria have made them appear closer to ISIS and Jabhat Al-Nusra in ideology, rather than a “moderate” Islamist group that is simply fighting for the interests of the Syrian people.

These literal head choppers are "moderates" on Lister's list.

Support for al-Qaeda and similar groups is illegal under several UN resolutions. U.S. law is even more stringent. Al-Qaeda allies like the groups Lister lists as "moderate" would surely be guilty under 18 U.S. Code § 2339A - Providing material support to terrorists. The "material" as defined by that law includes "intangible, or service" and "expert advice or assistance". How far from those categories are Lister's propaganda pieces and actions?

Lister ones worked as analyst at IHS Janes, a well known military journal, and did a decent job. He then followed the smell of Qatari money to Brookings Doha and threw away his reputation. It can only go downwards from there.

Posted by b on November 28, 2015 at 19:12 UTC | Permalink


There exists a great determination to expel Assad and break apart Syria at any cost. Syria must be one of the "seven countries in five years" marked for destruction that General Silver Hair was talking about.

Posted by: fast freddy | Nov 28 2015 19:27 utc | 1

What is this b, are you suggesting that the guiding ethical principal of the United States is "if it get us what we want, we do it"?

Here's where we were on Sept 11th, 2014:

U.S. Pins Hope on Syrian Rebels With Loyalties All Over the Map

President Obama’s determination to train Syrian rebels to serve as ground troops against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria leaves the United States dependent on a diverse group riven by infighting, with no shared leadership and with hard-line Islamists as its most effective fighters.

After more than three years of civil war, there are hundreds of militias fighting President Bashar al-Assad — and one another. Among them, even the more secular forces have turned to Islamists for support and weapons over the years, and the remaining moderate rebels often fight alongside extremists like the Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria.

“You are not going to find this neat, clean, secular rebel group that respects human rights and that is waiting and ready because they don’t exist,” said Aron Lund, a Syria analyst who edits the Syria in Crisis blog for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “It is a very dirty war and you have to deal with what is on offer.”

It's clear things have only gotten worse in these regards. Hence the fact that every US news outlet divides the Syrian War factions into "Government", "ISIS", and "Rebel" groups - they are forced to blur any distinction between the al Qaeda and their moderates for the simple fact that there is none.

The US: from Global War on the Terrorists to Global War with the Terrorists in just over a decade. There hasn't been an American switch of allegiance that fast since we rehabilitated the Nazi war criminals in our efforts to destroy our Soviet allies following the Second World War.

Posted by: guest77 | Nov 28 2015 20:51 utc | 2

Please bear in mind that if the US and its vassals deviate from their position that their support is for "moderate rebels" and not for the jihadist or Al Qaeda-associated forces, world opinion would compel them to support the Syrian Army (and therefore, the arch-enemy, Russia) as the ONLY force opposing ISIS.

Posted by: chet | Nov 28 2015 21:08 utc | 3

The only moderate opposition exists in western propaganda. In Syria itself there is none.

Posted by: Casowary Gentry | Nov 28 2015 21:19 utc | 4

Perhaps this Charles Lister is a scion of the British Lister clan.

In the 19th Century, a US chemist named a new germicidal solution after Joseph Lister, aka "1st Baron Lister", a renowned pioneer in antiseptic surgery.

This product named for an icon eventually became the iconic "Listerine" mouthwash, a popular commercial success to this day.

Here, Young Charles appears to be manufacturing a new kind of Listerine: a brainwash.

Posted by: Ort | Nov 28 2015 21:24 utc | 5

@5 Here is some info on Charles. One wonders if he has discussed the insurgency with the Syrian government.

Posted by: dh | Nov 28 2015 21:32 utc | 6

so much propaganda and so little time... the picture sums it up perfectly.. those are the kind of ''moderates'' the usa and the west are in favour of.. if the west profit off arms sales to these same ''moderates'' all will continue to be well... people are seeing thru the msm's smoke and mirrors..

Posted by: james | Nov 28 2015 21:53 utc | 7

@2 The UK and US started working aginst the Soviets from about 1941/42. They withheld information gained from german POws about pending German military strikes against Soviet positions. The position was to use the two to destroy each other.

Posted by: Yonatan | Nov 28 2015 21:55 utc | 8

@8 That was true until the reversal at Stalingrad. After that the British furnished Stalin with a lot of useful information via Lucy. Date and time of Kursk battle for instance.

Posted by: dh | Nov 28 2015 21:58 utc | 9

@2 guest

The Great Wager on Terrorism. It's their last, desperate bet. It's failing, in any case. I'm encouraged by Tulsi Gabbard's and Austin Scott's rumored anti-Asad-War bill. I say rumored because the vile media never give a bill number when 'reporting', on it, ensuring that we cannot actually read the bill and find our what it actually says. Nonetheless, in a desperate, not-so-Great Wager against Terrorism of my own, I sent them a letter of encouragement, and I humbly suggest that all of you - regardless your nationality - do so as well. Reduced to last, desperate wagers as we are. As Blaise Pascal said of desperate bets, Whaddawe got to lose? compared to what we got to gain.

Posted by: jfl | Nov 28 2015 22:13 utc | 10

@10 - Wow, who is she?! Brilliant. A Congressperson with a brain? How did she slip through?

I hope she has the sense to avoid flights in small planes for a while.

Posted by: guest77 | Nov 28 2015 22:29 utc | 11

!10 jfl. Tulsi Gabbard's name came up in the past month or two here at moa.. she is worth following. thanks for another heads up. is she getting any traction outside the obscure media outlets - zero hedge and etc?

Posted by: james | Nov 28 2015 22:51 utc | 12

@11 guest

I don't know who she is. She's of Samoan/India-Indian descent. She's Army. She may actually be toeing an Army line against the CIA. But this phantom bill - if you see a copy please post a link - sounds right. I think it was somebody who first brought her to our attention, to mine at any rate. Her appearance with Wolf Blitzer, with him licking her hand, was pretty amazing. Whatever she is this bill - from its description - is a worthwhile salient. I hope it gets support enough to force the media to cover it. I think it would generate a groundswell of support if it were generally known - of course I don't know what it actually says, do I? But it is purported to in some way oppose Obama's campaign of DD&D in Syria with 'the dictator Asad' as its excuse.

She's already a vice-chair of the DNC? Sounds like Obama, doesn't she? Young, beautiful, minority, clad in Army teflon. She could kick Clinton's ass in about one Honolulu second. Is that good or bad? I trust not the demoblicans bearing gifts. They really have poisoned the well.

Posted by: jfl | Nov 28 2015 23:00 utc | 13

@12 j 'is she getting any traction outside the obscure media outlets - zero hedge etc? '

I don't know. I think so. That link above is a repost from zero. The msm's lid is definitely being kept on her and Austin Scott's - republicrat of GA - bill. It might take a little while. No one takes the US Congress seriously any longer, hence no one pays them any attention. It will be lazarus-like case, if it does in fact rise from its slab in the morgue of the US Congress.

Posted by: jfl | Nov 28 2015 23:10 utc | 14

>> She's already a vice-chair of the DNC? Sounds like Obama, doesn't she? Young, beautiful, minority, clad in Army teflon.

I hope she eventually does more than warn us against "dumb" wars. I sure fell for /that/ one. (Ergo, my handle.)

Posted by: dumbass | Nov 29 2015 0:20 utc | 15

Today a moderate group circulated a video on social media showing how the beheaded a wounded ISIS fighter. They did it with SAA soldiers many times. And Turkey becomes a better and better champion of democracy too.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Nov 29 2015 0:52 utc | 16

@jfl #10

The TPP|TTIP|TiSA will be the deathknell of democracy and sovereignty if it passes.

Thanks John, for sharing your letter and wholly concur with its contents. I am cheese off with TPP, without doubt will create situations like NAFTA especially small or rural farmers in South East Asia nations will be hurts beside loosing their sovereignty.

This warmongering nation must STOP endless wars. I too would love to write to Tulsi Gabbard gave her max supports. Any suggestion how to do it?

Posted by: Jack Smith | Nov 29 2015 1:06 utc | 17

@10 jfl

H.R.4108 - To prohibit the use of funds for the provision of assistance to Syrian opposition groups and individuals.

Posted by: marym | Nov 29 2015 1:18 utc | 18

to jfl, guest, in re Gabbard.

From her US House Website, datelined 19 Nov. 2015.

Today, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA), both members of the House Armed Services Committee, introduced H.R. 4108, a bipartisan bill to end U.S. efforts to overthrow the Syrian Arab Republic led by President Bashar al-Assad.

Here is the official text of the resolution. It would seem a shorter version of Ted Kennedy's bill blocking support for the contras, and would no doubt prove just as effective.

Posted by: rufus magister | Nov 29 2015 1:27 utc | 19

b: Even though Grant Smith's article about the takeover of Brookings is eight years old, it is still a good reminder about the power of donor influence on American civic institutions, including think tanks. If anything, in intervening years, Zionist ideology at Brookings has become more prevalent -- initially, it was confined to the output of the Saban Center on the Middle East (including the Doha branch). Since Indyk's promotion from Saban to vice-president for Foreign Policy, Brookings' policies have had a Zionist slant far beyond middle east coverage.

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | Nov 29 2015 2:21 utc | 20

Jack Smith @ 17, Thank you for reminding me of TPP; I had repressed it.
TPP will streamline and make easier lawsuits like these, which were brought under WTO:
Scores of such cases already have been brought under the WTO. Senator Warren explained that “recent cases include a French company that sued Egypt because Egypt raised its minimum wage, a Swedish company that sued Germany because Germany decided to phase out nuclear power after Japan’s Fukushima disaster, and a Dutch company that sued the Czech Republic because the Czechs didn’t bail out a bank that the company partially owned… Philip Morris is trying to use ISDS to stop Uruguay from implementing new tobacco regulations intended to cut smoking rates.”

TiSA is the "services" treaty. It provides that once any service has become private, it may never become publicly-owned again. For example, this means Banking, utilities, water, post office, transit system.
Among other sins, of course.

Posted by: Penelope | Nov 29 2015 3:52 utc | 21

@15 da

Yeah. I'm sceptical about herself ... but this bill is short and to the point.

@17 js

I just printed out 2 copies of my letter, put 'em in envelopes, and mailed 'em.

@18 mm @19 rm

Thanks. I was looking at GovTrack and finding nothing.

I see the bill has no co-sponsors other than the 2 originals. Doesn't look good for passage. Unless support for it mushrooms and people demand it, it probably won't make it out of committee.

Posted by: jfl | Nov 29 2015 5:45 utc | 22

US Removed Al-Nusra Leader from Its Terrorist List in 2013 [Source: PressTV]

Abu Muhammad al-Julani – Nusra Front leader in Idlib

Abu Muhammad al-Julani, the leader of al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria, the Nusra Front, congratulated fighters for their victory in the city of Idlib and warned leaders of the jihadi factions there not to become arrogant and corrupt and spoil their success. [ April 1, 2015]

The Nusra Front, al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria, released an audio speech from its leader, Abu Muhammad al-Julani, on the Russian airstrikes in the country, calling for reciprocal attacks in Russia, and placing a bounty on Bashar al-Assad and Hassan Nasrallah. [ Oct. 13, 2015]

The Leader of Jabhat al-Nusra (JN)

The leader of JN is a man who goes by the name of Abu Mohammad al-Julani.

Osama al-Absi al-Wahdi[5] (Arabic: أسامة العبسي آلواحدي‎) or Abu Mohammad al-Julani (Arabic: أبو محمد الجولاني‎), also written as al-Joulani, al-Jolani, al-Jawlani and al-Golani, born as Osama al-'Absi al-Waahdi. A jihadist source has confirmed that his name reflects his family ties to the area of the Golan Heights not currently under Israeli occupation.

After al-Zarqawi was killed by a U.S. airstrike in 2006, al-Golani left Iraq, briefly staying in Lebanon, where he offered logistical support for the Jund al-Sham militant group, which follows al-Qaida’s extremist ideology, the officials said.

He returned to Iraq to continue fighting but was arrested by the U.S. military and held at Camp Bucca, a sprawling prison on Iraq’s southern border with Kuwait. At that camp, where the U.S. military held tens of thousands of suspected militants, he taught classical Arabic to other prisoners, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were revealing information from secret files.

After his release from prison in 2008, al-Golani resumed his militant work, this time alongside Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of al-Qaida in Iraq — also known as the Islamic State of Iraq. He was soon appointed head of al-Qaida operations in Mosul province.

Shortly after the Syrian uprising began, al-Golani moved into Syrian territory and, fully supported by al-Baghdadi, formed the Nusra Front, which was first announced in January 2012.

US State Dep't adds Al-Nusrah to its list Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations – May 15, 2014

Posted by: Oui | Nov 29 2015 5:53 utc | 23

HR 4108 is basically a bill ordering the U.S. government to obey the U.S. constitution.

Sheesh.. . what is Gabbard thinking? The U.S. government is never going to go for that kind of crazy talk!

guest77: "I hope she has the sense to avoid flights in small planes for a while." Sad, but true. It's nothing personal - it's just business to the gangsters that run Washington, and Tulsi isn't in that gang. She's 'little people'.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Nov 29 2015 5:56 utc | 24

@dumbass #15

>> She's already a vice-chair of the DNC? Sounds like Obama, doesn't she? Young, beautiful, minority, clad in Army teflon.
I hope she eventually does more than warn us against "dumb" wars. I sure fell for /that/ one. (Ergo, my handle.)

Yea me feel the same after reading your comments. But I didn't falls for the Change shit in 2008 and 2012. It could be another dynasty in the making. She came from Hawaii as our present warmonger-in-Chief. Haven't we have enough of the Bushes, and the Clintons?

Posted by: Jack Smith | Nov 29 2015 6:46 utc | 25

@Penelope #21

TiSA is the "services" treaty. It provides that once any service has become private, it may never become publicly-owned again. For example, this means Banking, utilities, water, post office, transit system. Among other sins, of course.

Learned all about TISA from Wikileaks and detail analysis from many website. TISA by far worst than any trades’ treaties, which are not about trades but usurp sovereignty from elected governments.

Posted by: Jack Smith | Nov 29 2015 6:49 utc | 26

21;It was behind the paywall,so I didn't read it,but the lying times had an editorial that looked like a nuke paean.
I have solar panels,where I pay myself,instead of paying the man,or at least less.
They fear that.

Posted by: dahoit | Nov 29 2015 16:08 utc | 27


German aggression towards Stalin's Russia came well before 41, 42. Some might even argue the cause of WW2 with Wall St funding of the Nazi Party to suit this anti-Russian end. Of course, Hitler said **** *** to the banks and created his own currency in the form of treasury certificates, taking control of Germany's fortunes and creating the greatest war machine the world had seen when just a couple of years earlier they were on their knees in debt after WW1.

Not being bound by banks was simply not a runner.

Funny how best laid plans work out.

Posted by: MadMax2 | Nov 29 2015 16:40 utc | 28

To simplify things way too much, we can say that the whole of the creation of the Nazis - very much like the creation of ISIS - began as an intelligence operation designed to send them against a specific enemy. Like all of these things, it took on a life of its own and got majorly out of hand.

It's really impossible to see the absolute rending of a 1000 year old order that the creation of the Soviet Union was from our vantage point in history now, but in 1914 there were, I don't know (I should count them), 25 countries - 80% of which were in Europe (maybe excluding the Republics of South America which were hardly independent). The majority of these countries were ruled by basically a small clique of blood-related "royal families" - and controlled probably 80% of the landmass of the globe. These are my impressions anyhow - but look at a map I think it's close.

Then the First World War came and out of that chaos emerged the USSR. Fifty to sixty years later there were 200 countries - the world was utterly transformed. For better or for worse I'm not even arguing, but in terms of the power of this small, Atlantic based clique, it had never been lower. The world had never been more out of their control. Even though the majority of the world was still poor.

We're shifting back of course, now. A new royalty is developing, new Empires forming. But for that old clique, the USSR was the symbol of all that chaos and loss of power, and they did everything in their power to destroy it.

Posted by: guest77 | Nov 29 2015 17:04 utc | 29

Tony Cartalucci has a new piece up at NEO

NATO’s Terror Convoys Halted at Syrian Border

First appeared:


"... Russia’s increased activity along the Syrian-Turkish border signifies the closing phases of the Syrian conflict. With Syrian and Kurdish forces holding the border east of the Euphrates, the Afrin-Jarabulus corridor is the only remaining conduit for supplies bound for terrorists in Syria to pass. Syrian forces have begun pushing east toward the Euphrates from Aleppo, and then will move north to the Syrian-Turkish border near Jarabulus. Approximately 90-100 km west near Afrin, Ad Dana, and Azaz, it appears Russia has begun cutting off terrorist supply lines right at the border. It is likely Syrian forces will arrive and secure this region as well.

For those that have criticized Russia’s air campaign claiming conflicts can’t be won from the air without a ground component, it should be clear by now that the Syrian Arab Army is that ground component, and has dealt ISIS and Al Qaeda its most spectacular defeats in the conflict.

When this corridor is closed and supplies cut off, ISIS, Nusra, and all associated NATO-backed factions will atrophy and die as the Syrian military restores order across the country. This may be why there has been a sudden “rush” by the West to move assets into the region, the impetus driving the United States to place special forces into Syrian territory itself, and for Turkey’s ambush of a Russian Su-24 near the Syrian-Turkish border.

What all of this adds up to is a clear illustration of precisely why the Syrian conflict was never truly a “civil war.” The summation of support for militants fighting against the Syrian government and people, has come from beyond Syria’s borders. With that support being cut off and the prospect of these militants being eradicated, the true sponsors behind this conflict are moving more directly and overtly to salvage their failed conspiracy against the Syrian state.

What we see emerging is what was suspected and even obvious all along – a proxy war started by, and fought for Western hegemonic ambitions in the region, intentionally feeding the forces of extremism, not fighting them."

Posted by: crone | Nov 29 2015 19:13 utc | 30

@30 crone... that is a good summation.. i wonder what the next chapter holds? is the ante going to get upped, or are they going to hold? seems like a game of poker to me..

Posted by: james | Nov 30 2015 0:42 utc | 31

To #11 Guest: Wolf licking her hand. He is probably trying to get her between the sheets. Fat chance.

Posted by: Bill Warrick | Dec 4 2015 4:35 utc | 32

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