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Grayzone supports assassinations
With shady funding sources, a misinformation outlet whitewashes dictators
In Arabic, Khalek is one of God’s 99 names and means “creator,” making it impossible to find as a personal name without the prefix Abdul, which means “the worshipper of.” The name Abdul-Khalek belongs to a Druze family in Lebanon, mostly from the mountainous village of Majdelbaana. Unlike the majority of the Lebanese Druze who are partisans of the Jumblatt dynasty, the majority of the Abdul-Khaleks are members of either the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) or the Arab Socialist Baath Party. Both parties are hyper nationalistic, racist, and uber anti-Semitic.
While the SSNP today styles itself as anti-imperialist, its rise was sponsored by the French mandate authorities that ruled Syria and Lebanon between 1920 and 1943. Unlike the common folktale that France and Britain split the spoils of the defeated Ottoman Empire and co-ruled the region in harmony, the two European powers were nowhere near harmonious. In fact, declassified documents — from the archives of French intelligence agencies — show that Paris and London were locked in a bitter rivalry over the control of the Middle East, a rivalry that intensified after France fell to Nazi Germany in 1939, prompting the British to believe that the French were not worthy of an empire.
The Brits were apprehensive about the future of their own empire as well, given the rise of the new superpowers — the United States and the Soviet Union — and thought that they could arrest its shrinking influence by maintaining its imperial alliances with Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine.
British assets included the Hashemite dynasty — the monarchs of Iraq and Jordan — as well as the Egyptian monarchy, and dozens of politicians in Syria and Lebanon. Britain helped its proteges eject the French mandate. In Lebanon, these politicians came to be known as “independence heroes.” To create an alliance of Arab countries under its tutelage, London sponsored the rise of the Arab League.
France had a few pawns of its own. It commanded the loyalty of non-Sunni minorities, including the Maronites, the Shia and the Druze of Lebanon, in addition to the Alawites in Syria. France also sponsored the rise of political parties, such as the SSNP, which believes that the Fertile Crescent — Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine — is a historic nation worth reviving.
The founder of SSNP, Antun Saadeh, was a second tier academic. France connected him to its assets across Syria and Lebanon. In Syria, Saadeh recruited Alawite clans to his cause. Of these clans was a certain Makhlouf family, whose descendants included the first lady of Syria, Anisa Al-Assad, the wife of Hafez Assad and the mother of current Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad. When Papa Assad married into the Makhlouf family, he created an alliance. The Makhloufs — including Anisa’s brother and her nephew Rami — went on to play crucial roles in the Assad regime. For over two decades and until recently, when there was a fallout between the two, Rami Makhlouf served as the treasurer of his cousin Bashar Assad. Makhlouf was given a freehand to create a commercial empire. He used the regime’s coercive power to twist arms, blackmail merchants and monopolize the market.
As French influence waned, Saadeh connected with Nazi Germany and refashioned his party along Nazi lines. He created a cult in which his partisans called him “the leader,” after the German fuhrer, Hitler. Members of SSNP mimic the Nazi salute when greeting one another, raising their hand and screaming “Hail Syria!”
Saadeh also published a book, The Evolution of Nations, in which he described how the shape of the skulls of the “Syrian Nation” was unique, and how Syrians were superior to the Arabs of the Arabian Peninsula. Saadeh called for the annihilation of the Jews, not Israel or the Israelis, but the Jews.
As Britain prevailed in Syria and Lebanon, so did its proteges, the likes of Lebanon’s Prime Minister Riyad Solh, who cracked on SSNP and ordered Saadeh tried and executed. The SSNP eventually took revenge by killing Solh. After Saadeh’s death, the party weakened as the Baath dominated in Iraq and Syria. Remnants of the SSNP survived in Lebanon, and allied with Right wing, predominantly Christian, parties.
The SSNP then splintered into guns-for-hire factions and embarked on a campaign in which SSNP leaders assassinated one another. The faction that prevailed was loyal to Syria’s Assad and did his bidding, including assassinating Lebanon’s President-Elect Bachir Gemayel, in September 1982. The SSNP had thus become a violent cult immersed in spy games and assassinations, and started styling itself as a Leftist, anti-imperialist, party. Its hatred of the Jews served as the common cause with anti-Israeli Left wing groups, in Lebanon and around the world.
Meanwhile, rivalry between Syria’s Assad and Iraq’s Saddam Hussein resulted in the Baath splitting into two wings. In Iraq, Saddam’s Baathist uncle and mentor, Khairallah Tulfah, published a book in which he argued that three did not deserve to live: The Persians, the Jews and flies.
In a region where citizenship takes a backseat to tribal and sectarian identity, the SSNP rarely recruited individuals. Its membership often consisted of clans joining wholesale, among them was the Druze Abdul-Khalek of Majdelbaana.
Since before its inception in 1920, Lebanon’s strained resources and endless wars prompted the Lebanese to migrate, with thousands finding their way to America, where they assimilated, a process that offered naturalized citizens the chance to Americanize their names. Thus some Abdul-Khaleks dropped the Abdul and went by Khalek, a name that can be pronounced easier in America, but that means “God” in Arabic.
Americanization, however, did not wipe out old loyalties from the motherland, as many SSNP members established active party networks in America. When former Congressman Tulsi Gabbard visited Syria and met with Assad, after the UN had issued reports asserting that the Syrian dictator had bombed Syrians with the prohibited Sarin gas, it was an SSNP network that bought Gabbard and her husband First Class tickets to Lebanon. Gabbard violated Congressional regulations by not declaring the identity of those who funded her trip to Lebanon and Syria trip, but when she was caught, she pretended to have “forgotten” to do so.
Gabbard is not only an SSNP hero. Ask supporters of Russian President Vladimir Putin and you will hear them sing the former Hawaii legislator praise. This is where Russia’s Soviet anti-imperial Leftism meets its antithesis: Hyper nationalist Rightism. And this is where Leftism, based on Marx’s internationalism perspective, is hijacked to become anti-globalization, even though Marxist internationalism and globalization are the same concept with one difference: Marxist internationalism takes the side of the workers, globalization takes the side of corporations. Both Marxist internationalism and Neoliberal globalization oppose nationalism.
In America, Rania Khalek represents the nexus of such contradiction. She is a Lebanese-American who mixes her anti-Semitism with nationalism and anti-imperialism. But make no mistake, Putin and Khalek’s opposition to imperialism does not include denunciation of the past Soviet Empire, or Putin’s expansionist policies in neighboring Georgia, Ukraine or faraway Syria and Libya. Neither does Khalek’s anti-imperialism consider Iranian expansion in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen as imperialism.
To Putin, Khalek and the SSNP, anti-imperialism means anti-democracy. Putin, Khalek and the SSNP oppose ideas of the European Age of Enlightenment, mainly liberty and freedom. To them, a nation is an organic unit that comes in one shape and form and has one opinion: All Russians love Putin and oppose the West and imperialism. All Lebanese hate Israel and America and love Hezbollah and Iran. Dissenters within a nation do not exist. When they do, their dissent cannot be their honest opinion because they are sellouts to the highest bidder. Those foreign bidders are the enemies of the nations of these dissenters, hence rendering dissenters as collaborators. All collaborators must die.
In an article on Greyzone, Khalek justifies the assassination of two anti-Iranian regime activists in Beirut and Baghdad, and writes that Lokman Slim and Husham Al-Hashimi had turned against their own, and engaged in spy games, hence they deserved to die. Khalek also profiles five other anti-Hezbollah intellectuals, only two of them were friends with the the late Slim. The five are Hazem Saghieh, Nadim Koteich, Makram Rabah, Hanin Ghaddar and Bachar Halabi.
In bashing Slim and Hashimi, Khalek justifies their assassination. In connecting them to other activists who are still alive but live in exile, she threatens the exiles that they should never visit Lebanon, and if they do, their assassination is fair game.
Greyzone describes itself as “independent media.” Khalek probably perceives of herself as an anti-imperialist fighter. In reality, Greyzone is a misinformation tool with shady funding sources, probably Russian “farms,” with bots posing as patron donors on Patreon. Khalek is a militant propagandist who, as an American citizen, pretends to be living in Lebanon, perhaps aware that her implicit death threats against fellow Americans, like Ghaddar, can make Khalek criminally liable.
Greyzone is one of a few websites, such as Breakthrough News, that look similar in design and content. First, these websites pretend to be Western. Their anchors speak fluent English without accent. Anchors and writers pretend to be Americans who have seen the light and discovered how unethical the American republic is. Their problem with America is not its government’s policies, foreign or domestic, but the very existence of the American republic, which they say was founded by displacing natives and enslaving Africans. By taking such position, these anti-America Americans mesh their politics with those of the far Left, mainly Progressives, of the Democratic Party, such as The New York Times’ Project 1619, dedicated to “reframing” American history.
Second, Greyzone and its sister websites always traffic in conspiracy theories, and offer their material as an alternative narrative that they had written using their special “investigative journalism” skills. In reality, nothing is investigative on Greyzone and co, whose pieces are aggregation of material available on the internet. These websites then insert controversial and unverifiable information that is usually sourced to anonymous sources. Khalek says Hashimi consumed alcohol to appease his handlers. He never did. Khalek’s piece is riddled with contradictions, such as accusing Slim of being ashamed of his Shia identity, but also saying that Slim used his Shiism in politically expedient ways. At least Slim was proud enough of his heritage that he never changed his name to blend in with the “imperialists.”
Third, Greyzone and co assume that their audience share exactly their ideas. Hence, America, Israel, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Right wingers are all absolute evil. Russia, Iran, China, Assad, Hezbollah, Syria (meaning Assad) and Palestine (meaning Hamas) are absolute good. Note that nationalism imagines all “the Palestinians” and all “the Syrians” as having one anti-imperial opinion.
When Khalek refers to other media outlets, she always makes sure to mention their source of funding: UAE’s Sky News, Saudi Arabia’s Alhadath, Congress-funded Alhurra. Khalek, however, will never mention who funds Greyzone and its sister groups but tries to lead us to believe that these misinformation outlets are funded by grassroot donors and subscribers. On Patreon Greyzone has 730 subscribers, with a $50 maximum donation per donor per month, which amounts to $438,000 a year. Breakthrough News has 329 patrons, with a maximum of $100 per donor, racking up to $394,800 a year. Khalek and a partner have a Patreon page, Unauthorized Disclosure, with 176 subscribers at a maximum donation of $7 per patron, adding up to an annual sum of $14,784. Khalek also has work connections with Russia Today, a Moscow-funded TV network.
At less than $1 million, Putin’s Russian “farms” can fund two misinformation websites and a podcast. Moscow calls them “independent media,” and presents them as a reliable alternative to the hated mainstream media.
Greyzone and Khalek might look innovative to some Westerners, including Americans. But in the Middle East and Russia, children grew up with misinformation peddled by state media, and often saw their parents and grandparents huddle in a corner, listening to BBC Arabic or Farsi or to Voice of America’s (VOA) Russian service on a handheld radio, aware that Western news sources were much more reliable than their local news.
When America embarked on spreading democracy in 2002, it expanded its reliable VOA Arabic into Alhurra TV. Britain, France and Germany all followed suit and launched Arabic TV networks that helped expand freedom boundaries in the Arabic-speaking media sphere.
But in an attempt to crowd out reliable information with their misinformation, Putin, Assad and Iran’s Ali Khamenei — with the aid of the likes of Khalek — reinvented propaganda peddled by state-media as alternative “independent media” on the internet. Like the identity of the assassins of democracy activists in Russia, Iran and Arab countries, sources of funding of Greyzone, Khalek and “independent media” are concealed.
Over the past few years, relations between many Americans and the mainstream media has been strained, mainly due to a surge in hyper partisanship, with the media veering toward the far Left. This gap allowed for misinformation tools, both domestic and foreign, to sneak in. But Americans eventually figured out that the so-called “alternative media” was hurting their democracy and republic. Hence QAnon stopped posting in December, and it is about time that Americans call out QAnon’s foreign equivalent, the likes of Greyzone and Khalek.
Slim and Hashimi will be forever remembered as patriots who lost their lives seeking democracy and freedom. Khalek, however, grew up in a world that believes people with different opinions should be killed, and is now lecturing Americans, and the world, about why Western freedom and liberty are bad ideas.
Khalek speaks as a self-appointed representative of all the underclass in the world: The poor, the wretched and the hopeless. She is perhaps unaware that all the misery of the Palestinians, Syrians, Lebanese, Iraqis and Iranians are because of her and the criminal regimes she roots for in Moscow, Tehran, Damascus and elsewhere.