We had the pleasure of a sit-down with political scientist and chief editor of Fort Russ News and director for Center for Syncretic Studies, Joaquin Flores, to discuss how the “revolutions” in the Balkan and the so-called Arab Spring were engineered and created phenomenons designed to achieve a specific political shift in the countries where they appeared.
Flores lives and works out of Belgrade, maybe the most important city where the Gene Sharp-structured “revolutions” first took hold. We discuss Otpor, Canvas, Serbia, Tahrir square, Syria and not to forget, the engineered Libyan tragedy.
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Hanne Nabintu Herland, historian, author and founder of The Herland Report: – Joaquin Flores. You are a political scientist, a graduate from California State University in Los Angeles, a journalist and an accomplished editor who lives in Belgrade. We find that especially interesting as Serbia and Yugoslavia were the starting point for the implementation of a certain political, activism thinking regarding how to create a revolution in the country where you hope to design a regime change. Gene Sharp and his book How to start a Revolution was implemented in, what some say a CIA effort, to topple the secular leaders in the Middle East and had over the power to Islamists in order to destabilize the region. As this would geopolitically suit some in the US, especially.
From the late 1990s, we have seen these “revolutions” created first against Milosevic in Serbia. It wasn’t exactly as non-violent as they spoke of, but rather the use of civilian uprisings and military personell disguised as civilians whose actions opened up for proxy wars with few Western soldiers involved. Yet, the Arab spring very effectively turned into an Arab winter.
Joaquin Flores, political scientist and chief editor of Fort Russ News: – I think that Belgrade is really one of the central hubs of the world, certainly it is were East meets West. When you look at its history, the level of diplomacy, level of intrigue, all these plots have all been hatched from Belgrade. Many of the things that you are pointing out, that are occurring in the world now, rolled out in prototype form in Yugoslavia and Belgrade.
When we look at what is happening in Belgrade and why it is so central, we can really begin to understand these revolution phenomenon, the EU, we can understand NATO and the relationship between the two. We can even begin to see some of the cracks between the EU and NATO happening surrounding Serbia.
When we untangle that big question mark of Belgrade, we can understand as you were saying; what happened in Syria? What happened in Libya? What happened in Ukraine? You can see that all roads lead back to Rome. As well as the color revolutions, all colors lead back to Belgrade.
Hanne Herland: – Many have spoken of the dramatic change in foreign policy post-1993; Dr. Ron Paul argues that the change goes back to the New Deal in the 1930’s with the growth of the Federal Reserve. If we look at the changes in foreign policy in the US with Paul Wolfowitz, DIck Cheney, Rumsfeld from 1993 and onward, Serbia becomes very central. The Kosovo war was the first in the new line of planned revolutions as a geopolitical strategy.
Joaquin Flores: – Yugoslavia had some of the most dynamic and most growing economies in Europe. It was certainly a plan hatched. As early as the mid 70s at least, they knew that eventually Tito was going to pass away and once he passes away they planned to put their people in and piece it together, and start to break the nation apart from the inside using the playbook. It’s a science.
The science to this is really understanding and unraveling the socio-political ethnological dimensions of a society, because you can always take country and break it apart further. You can always take the French and you could break the South from the North; you could take Brittany and separate it from Paris and so on. You could claim that Venice should be a country. So, these are interesting debates in the times that we are living in. This happened in Yugoslavia when they broke it apart into its old constituent parts. It is planned.
People don’t show up unless they are called up. You have to bring food, provide phone calls and it’s a whole process. There’s graphs and charts, there’s war rooms, maps and so on. its not just like thousands of people are mad about something and they show up spontaneously. That’s the great mythology that they are teaching now in the West about democracy, that these uprisings are spontaneous.
Hanne Herland: – If you look at South America, the same kind of “revolutions” have regularly been happening, of course. Foreign agents’ work and so on, this goes for the KGB in the olden days, Russia today, the MI6, CIA and so on. It has always been going on, the organizing of revolts on some level. But it seems to be a watermark in the Serbian movement.
Joaquin Flores: – As you were describing quite well, there has always been agents; Mi5, Mi6, CIA, KGB whatever. Their job was to go into a country, make contact with the elites and to try to get some portion of the elite to turn against the ruling elites. So, they were always creating a intra elite fight and then you got the wished for coup d’etat. It might result in a military dictatorship or some sort “democracy”. Whatever it was, it was according to the needs to the greater powers that organized the change in government.
What has happened in the last 30 years is that the science of community organizing was used to create this veneer of a popular democracy movement happening. In the past hundred years ago, you might have one group of elites that were contacted by the CIA, the military, the Generalissimos and they would depose a king or a parliamentary elected president and replace them.
What has happened in the last, say 30 years, has been to use new methods of media, to use especially the internet, starting in the early 90s, and to use these new methods of communication. More recently, Twitter was massively used in Libya, in Syria, – it was twitter storms. They use the combination of new methods of technology, new methods of popular organizing to simulate a popular uprising. That is an incredible simulacra.
People are also protesting for something very boring and banal. I mean, important to them, but they are not asking for regime change, all these massive protest people are saying that they are protesting because the electric tax rate is going from 15 – 19 percent. Or they are protesting to see some regulation overturned.
Hanne Herland: – For example, in the Tahrir Square and the Arab spring in Egypt, the initial protest was about the price of bread going up.
Joaquin Flores: – Yes, it was not a wish for “goodbye Mubarak”. It was actually that they wanted to fix the price of bread, which had gone up. Interestingly, the whole issue of bread prices, the FAO Index determined that when that price gets to a certain point, that’s going to lead towards a popular revolt. It is when you get to around the 210 index number, that you are within 99% certainty that people will be out in the streets.
What happened with the collapse of the housing market bubble in 2006-2007, was that they introduced, through the FDR, this is 700 billion dollars, but there was no limit to the number of the 700 million dollar checks that could be written. What they did was that they corned the perishable companies that were marketing mostly agribusiness to Middle Eastern countries. Then they picked their friends. We are going to give Turkey a break, Saudi a break, Jordan a break, but Libya, Iran, Syria, Egypt – they are going to get full on. So these governments were scrambling to subsidize the prices. It’s a stopgap, a short term solution to keep people from starving, probably legitimate, but it is ultimately not sustainable.
These were bread riots. They weren’t saying that the government should go. They were saying that the bread should go in my stomach. Then you pick maybe 20-30 people from the audience that you picked and pre-organized to speak to the CNN. Then they say that they want the government to go and the people watching think that 400-500 000 people on an issue that is not their issue. That’s the holographic reality that they produced.
(Kindly note the irony in the video below, released in 2011: The photos from the “non-violent uprisings” that Gene Sharp proudly asserts are the result of his work, show the violent scenes in foreign countries that produced civil wars, killings in the streets, massive abuse of civilians, loss of human rights for civilians and the Stalingrad of our time – the greatest humanitarian catastrophy in modern times: the Syria war.)
Hanne Nabintu Herland: – Interestingly enough, some of the photographs that came out of the Tahrir square early days of the Egypt “Arab spring” in 2011, are complete replicas from the French revolution with the lady with the bare breast and the little boy next to her and they are all of a pile of rubbish. Many Egyptians were describing how truckloads of brick stones were taken in lorries into the Tahrir Square, and people were told to take a brick each and throw them.
Joaquin Flores: – Yes, to make a scene, like from Les Miserables. They just sort of took the script.
Hanne Herland: – It was interesting as well how Yousuf Qaradawi, the Qatari based head of the Muslim Brotherhood, was flown in on Fridays to hold the Friday prayer. It demonstrates what kind of driving forces that were behind the removing of Egypt’s president at the time, Hosni Mubarak. They created a situation that resulted in the Islamist Brotherhood later taking over.
Joaquin Flores: – These people are quite reactionary, they are Islamists, they are Salafists. What they were able to do from Qatar, the all tiny dynasty owning Al Jazeera, they gave it this Left Wing popular veneer – as if the Islamists in the streets were actually socialists and proletarian revolutionists. So, they made the anarchists and the youth from the Left think that what they were seeing was a Left Wing democracy socialist movement, when in fact it was an honest bread protest. But the activists were Islamists, the same ones who are head chopping today in Syria. Same guys. Yet, they had the talking point set up so that they could speak in the language of the Left to Western audiences.
Flores: – You mention the French revolution: This was stage managed by the Westerners from the school of Gene Sharp and as we were saying, these roads lead back to Belgrade because Otpor originated there. It was developed upon the community organized playbook by Saul Alinsky. Salinsky’s major contribution was what would ultimately become a weaponized US intelligence project led in part by Gene Sharp, but really operationalized by people like Srđa Popović.
The idea was that you can take a segment of society and you exploit many aspects of what it means to be a human being in that particular society, because people have many different frustrations. There are family frustrations, phycological, sexual, financial etc. People have questions about the nature of the class system: Are the rich rich because they are greedy? Because they work harder? Are they corrupt? What is it? It is those tensions in society that are exploited for political gain.
Hanne Herland: – When you look closely into Otpor, it was actually two brothers who, in 1998, were opposed to the Milosevic government. Like you say, there’s always people in a country who want change, but the problem is that foreign forces come in and play on that. The Otpor guys got in touch with the Americans who taught them basically how to make a revolution. It was at this point that the organization changed its name to Canvas. It became a large network, funded by outsiders, if I am correct. The very same Canvas methods used in Belgrade to overthrow Milosevic, were the same applied on the Arab spring both in Tahrir and several of the other Arab nations. Also in Libya and again, in Syria although it failed in Syria. It stopped there.
Joaquin Flores: – That’s the key. It is very structured. There is a science to it. Like an art, but a science. I think that when you begin to deconstruct what happened with Otpor, now Canvas, you can see the symbolism, you can see the 192 methods of non-nonviolent strategic organizing. 192 different sort of tactics that you can apply. This is also what Srđa Popović has written in English about, it is available and can be downloaded.
Hanne Herland: – Let us look at Canvas and their Gene Sharp methods: You move into a country where you want to achieve regime change. Then you analyze; who are the groups that support the president or the current political structures? Maybe that president is very popular with the people, okay, so how can we weaken him? Then you get in touch with the oppositional groups that don’t like him. In some of the Arab or other countries, to be a bit frank, the oppositional groups want power in order to have their turn at robbing state funds. They they are tired of watching the current elites getting rich on stealing from state funds. Then you make sure to fund precisely those oppositional groups so they get stronger.
You may also infiltrate those loyal to the current president and, you need to have a lot of civilians arrested. That is when you call in the Western media, whom are your friends, because those who own the newspapers are the same guys who wants to overthrow the government. You’re very happy when you get arrests because the media takes pictures of it – which will appear in all kinds of leading Western outlets: The Guardian, New York Times, Washington Post, they all have the same photographs.
We saw this when ISIS came in 2014, appeared out of nowhere on one day. We were all shown the same brilliantly produced photographs, taken in the classical Western way. Knowing Arab nations and locals there, they are excellent with so many things, but their way of taking photos – like on IPhones – it is not the Western way of photography. The ISIS photos, though, were done by professional photographers, not rag-tag hordes.
Joaquin Flores: – When you go in to overthrow a government or to attack its leadership, you don’t attack the weaknesses. You attack the strengths. I remember there’s a program in the US called Democracy Now with Amy Goodman. She often covers very good things, maybe sometimes she does not ask as difficult questions as she ought to ask. So, she had a gentleman from Doctors without Borders. Supposedly it’s a Western backed NGO, USIAD and George Soros. They do some good work, as well. However, this guy was also representative of the Transitional National Council, the government that the US promoted post-Gadhafi.
One of the wonderful things about Gadhafi’s Libya is that it didn’t have much of a standing army. They had militias. Citizens were armed, had the right to bear arms. You had popular group committees and if the country was going to get attacked, the citizens got their weapons. This gentleman was actually on the air attacking this very democratic and very healthy aspect of Libyan society and saying that the main problem is that Gaddafi didn’t really have an army. This was one of the reasons why we needed to overthrow him.
So, now we have a dictator that doesn’t have an army? What argument were they making? Or in Tahrir Square; they tried to say that this is a popular Left Wing democracy movement against then president Hosni Mubarak. Many people didn’t like Mubarak for many reasons. Especially in religious communities, they didn’t like him.
Mubarak had a very centrists or realistic policy towards Israel and cooperated towards closing down tunnels, so that Palestinians under blockade couldn’t get things from Egypt. So many people in Egypt, and many people in the Arab world had some sympathies towards the Palestinians for example, so they didn’t like Mubarak.
But, what they attacked him for was that he refused to mobilize support to attack Syria. They had to get Mubarak out. It wasn’t just for the reasons that we were told.
It really plays upon mass phycology. It really plays upon our desire because many people are living unfulfilled lives. We are really living in a crisis in the West, as well. We don’t really have purpose and meaning in our lives. When another group comes in and says that these are political problems, it can “be solved from overthrowing the government”, it really resonates with people.
What’s interesting is that it resonates less with people having the revolutions and more with Western audiences who are projecting their neuroses on to foreign populations. They have their own reasons. They are Westernizing the reasons. It is actually Orientalism. It’s projecting on to them their own neurosis.
That was actually done very well in Yugoslavia. There was a inter-ethnic conflict that the West was promoting in Yugoslavia and they made it be a “people versus power” conflict. There will probably be another conflict again, God forbid, but in Serbia again with, either or both Albania and Bosnia, because the US is pushing the government in Sarajevo to change the government completely so that the Serbian autonomous Republic of Srpska no longer is autonomous.
The Russians already said that should Sarajevo foolishly take the American advice and change the constitution from a federal system to a unitary state where no longer the Serbs will have their own government, the Russians said that they will recognize a Crimea in process of referendum. Americans are not going to let that happen without a fight. So, we live in dangerous times. Many of these things take us back to the color revolution process.