During a Barcelona concert on April 13, Roger Waters denounced the Syrian White Helmets as “a fake organization that exists only to create propaganda for jihadists and terrorists.” Warning that the groups’ unverified claims about chemical weapons attacks across insurgent-held territory were aimed at triggering Western military intervention, Waters cautioned his audience, “If we were to listen to the propaganda of the White Helmets and others, we would encourage our governments to start dropping bombs on people in Syria. This would be a mistake of monumental proportions for us as human beings.”
In fact, Waters had first hand experience with the powerful pro-war PR operation behind the White Helmets. Back in October 2016, a public relations firm representing the White Helmets called The Syria Campaign attempted to recruit Waters by inviting him to a lavish dinner organized by a Saudi-British billionaire, Hani Farsi. The rock legend and renowned activist was told that by signing on to the organization’s mission, he could help “elevate the voices of Syria’s peaceful heroes”
[This article, by Max Blumenthal, is republished in part from Gray Zone.]
Just days before his recent concert in Barcelona, Waters was lobbied again to support the White Helmets, this time by an eccentric French photojournalist affiliated with what he described as a “very powerfull [sic] syrian network.” The activist demanded to join Waters on stage and deliver a message for the “children of syria.”
Waters did not respond to either request.
These emailed solicitations from White Helmets representatives and activists were provided by Waters to the Grayzone Project, and are published in full at the bottom of this article. The documents demonstrate how the organization’s well-funded public relations apparatus has targeted celebrities as the key to the hearts and minds of the broader Western public.
Unlike many other A-listers, however, Waters took time to research the White Helmets and investigate its ulterior agenda.
“I was quite suspicious after I was invited to that [White Helmets] dinner,” Waters told the Grayzone Project. “And now my worst suspicions have been confirmed.”
The Syria Campaign’s initial approach
The October 2016 dinner invite was delivered to Waters by a representative for the Corniche Group, an international holding company belonging to the family of the London-based Saudi billionaire Hani Farsi. Farsi was seeking Waters’ presence at a fundraising dinner he had organized on behalf of The Syria Campaign.
The Syria Campaign is a well-funded public relations front established to promote The White Helmets as a group of heroic rescuers who require the protection of Western militaries. Through series of petitions and public demonstrations, The Syria Campaign has unsuccessfully pushed for a No Fly Zone in Syria that would have likely resulted in the kind of Western military intervention that toppled Libyan President Moammar Qaddafi and destabilized Libya.
The slick PR firm has also resorted to astroturfed public stunts like a pro-White Helmets flash mob and orchestral performance at New York City’s Grand Central Station where participants were paid up to $600 each.
Farsi’s relationship to the The Syria Campaign had been kept private until now. A Syrian-British oil tycoon named Ayman Asfari has taken a much more vocal role with the PR group, providing it with seed money to advance his mission to stimulate US and UK support for regime change in Syria. Waters was informed that Asfari’s wife, Sawsan, would be on hand for the 2016 White Helmets fundraising dinner.