Start A Petition

Woman Informing Kerry, McCain's Opinions on Syria Also An Advocate for Syrian Rebels

US Politics & Gov't  (tags: Conflict of interest, John Kerry, Elizabeth O'Bagy, administration dependent on 26 year old )

- 2104 days ago -
The woman whose opinion lawmakers are relying on to go to war in Syria is a paid advocate for the war-torn country's rebels. Kerry urged the House to read an op-ed by 26-year-old O'Bagy who asserted that concerns about extremists dominating among Syrian r


We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.


Beth S (330)
Tuesday September 10, 2013, 1:21 pm

The woman whose opinion lawmakers are relying on to go to war in Syria is also a paid advocate for the war-torn country’s rebels.

On Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry encouraged members of the House of Representatives to read a Wall Street Journal op-ed by 26-year-old Elizabeth O’Bagy — an analyst with the Institute for the Study of War — who asserted that concerns about extremists dominating among the Syrian rebels are unfounded.

“Contrary to many media accounts, the war in Syria is not being waged entirely, or even predominantly, by dangerous Islamists and al-Qaida die-hards,” O’Bagy wrote for the Journal on Aug. 30. “Moderate opposition groups make up the majority of actual fighting forces,” she wrote.

But in addition to her work for the Institute for the Study of War, O’Bagy is also the political director for the Syrian Emergency Task Force (SETF), a group that advocates within the United States for Syria’s rebels — a fact that the Journal did not disclose in O’Bagy’s piece.

In an interview with The Daily Caller, O’Bagy said that despite her title as the group’s political director, she is paid as a contractor.

She insisted that she is not involved in the political lobbying that SETF does. “They kind of have two departments within the Task Force — one focused on working with the government on the Hill on advocacy and then the other working inside Syria and directly implementing government contracts,” she said.

O’Bagy’s relationship with SETF is a serious conflict of interest, according to David Reaboi, vice president for strategic communications at the Center for Security Policy.

“While there’s been a lot of worthwhile effort to expose activists considered pro-Assad or pro-Hezbollah — or, at least, to consider their analysis as coming from an interested party — O’Bagy seems to pass herself off as an impartial observer of the situation. Her access to Congress, intelligence services and to think tanks should be regarded as what it really is, which is a reflection of the Syrian rebels’ cause and aspirations,” Reaboi said.

The Foreign Policy news site reported in June that SETF “boasts extensive contacts with rebel commanders” and “spent months lobbying Congress, the State Department and the White House for everything from small arms to anti-tank and and anti-aircraft weapons to body armor to advanced communications equipment for the rebels.”

O’Bagy is quoted in the Foreign Policy piece saying that the Obama administration’s June decision to openly arm Syrian rebels didn’t go far enough. ”Small arms and ammunition really only get you so far against airplanes,” she said then.

Kerry and other lawmakers — including Sen. John McCain — have relied on O’Bagy’s assessments while calling for an American military intervention in Syria. McCain even traveled with O’Bagy to Syria in May.

“A woman by the name of Elizabeth Bagly, B-A-G-L-Y, just wrote an article,” Kerry said in congressional testimony Wednesday — spelling O’Bagy’s name wrong — “she works with the Institute of War. She’s fluent in Arabic and spent an enormous amount of time studying the opposition and studying Syria. She just published this the other day. Very interesting [Wall Street Journal] article, which I commend to you.”

“I just don’t agree that a majority are al-Qaida and the bad guys,” Kerry concluded.

Kerry made the same argument before the Senate on Tuesday.

“The opposition has increasingly become more defined by its moderation,” Kerry told Sen. Ron Johnson, “more defined by the breadth of its membership and more defined by its adherence to … an all-inclusive, minority-protecting constitution, which will be broad-based and secular.”

But on Thursday morning, Reuters called out Kerry’s — and by extension, O’Bagy’s — assessment as “at odds with estimates by U.S. and European intelligence sources and nongovernmental experts, who say Islamic extremists remain by far the fiercest and best-organized rebel elements.”

In December, O’Bagy opposed the Obama administration’s attempts to designate al-Nusra — a powerful Syrian rebel group — as a terror organization because of its ties to al-Qaida.

“I’m not saying they aren’t a terrorist group. But given the circumstances and given their cooperation with the opposition as a whole, designating them now would be disastrous,” O’Bagy said to McClatchy newspapers in December 2012.

In April 2013, al-Nusra pledged loyalty to al-Qaida.

O’Bagy told TheDC that she had opposed the terrorist designation because she feared it would damage the rebellion against Bashar al-Assad’s dictatorship.

O’Bagy told TheDC that she was wrong to consider al-Nusra anything but a terror group.

Patricia Martinez (63)
Tuesday September 10, 2013, 2:20 pm


Helen Porter (39)
Tuesday September 10, 2013, 9:30 pm
What a challenging time we live in!

It is no longer countries segregated in separated evils.

Now we are connected.

Hilary S (65)
Wednesday September 11, 2013, 3:21 am
having the ear of powerbrokers can be as good as being a powerbroker - syria is a complete mess, with neither side having much of a conscience when it comes to civilians or the welfare of the country.

Birgit W (160)
Wednesday September 11, 2013, 5:21 am
Thanks for the article.

Past Member (0)
Wednesday September 11, 2013, 10:53 am
No one really knows thats why when in doubt stay out

. (0)
Wednesday September 11, 2013, 2:45 pm
Syrian rebels being moderates....I can believe it.

Lois Jordan (63)
Wednesday September 11, 2013, 3:00 pm
Not again! I would liken this to the similar situation presented prior to the invasion of Iraq. It's been such a long time, I'm not sure if I remember the correct names, though....was it Curveball? He was an "insider" who was unhappy with the situation in Iraq and wanted war. Does anyone remember the forged Downing Street Memo connected to the lies? I remember joining because of this at the time. Unfortunately, all our protesting was for naught. And, just as unfortunately, neo-cons are still defending their strike at Iraq. Oh my!

bob m (32)
Wednesday September 11, 2013, 3:10 pm

O' Bagy....Hmmmmmm...O...Bagy...... well now ...sounds pretty much like maybe an Irish convert?... obviously in the bag... Irish......fits.

Robert K (31)
Wednesday September 11, 2013, 4:45 pm
So now we are listening to a Tea Party rag like the Daily Caller? Good grief!

Joan H (20)
Wednesday September 11, 2013, 6:49 pm
Unbelievable that our lawmakers are this stupid. We really are in trouble.

Beth S (330)
Wednesday September 11, 2013, 7:17 pm
Robert K., this better?

Syria writer Elizabeth O'Bagy, cited by Kerry, McCain, fired for Ph.D. lie

Elizabeth O'Bagy, Syria Researcher Cited By Kerry And McCain In Hearings, Fired For Ph.D Claim

WSJ op-ed writer Elizabeth O’Bagy fired for resume lie


Gene J (288)
Thursday September 12, 2013, 5:05 am
Not a surprise in any way. The Syrian revolution began as a continuation of the Arab Spring which was a youth movement for greater freedom personally and religiously, an end to religious rule, Sharia and a push for secular government. That conflict is more between the generations than between factions of Islam. There was an article here a few days ago about how Egyptians are now viewing Syrian refugees with suspicion while in the beginning they were welcomed. The question was why. Not a single journalist got it right. In my opinion, the change in Egyptian attitudes is because the Syrian revolution has been hijacked by Sunni extremists, fueled and funded by Saudi Arabia and others fighting a surrogate war against Shia extremists fueled by Iran, and Russia. Russia does not care about the religious aspects, it cares about selling weapons.

The Egyptian uprising against the Muslim Brotherhood was and is a continuation of the Arab Spring youth movement. Yes, they have exchanged one dictator for another, temporarily, but the reason for that, and the change in attitude toward Syrian refugee's is the youth of Egypt wanted a secular government, greater personal freedom, education and jobs. Their country has long been, even under Mubarak, the most "western" nation in the middle east. When the Brotherhood hijacked the "elections" and rammed through a constitution based on Sharia, the youth of Egypt saw that their movement had itself been hijacked. They did not want a religious government, they wanted freedom from religion and of religion. The military is fighting the elements in Egypt that would turn it into another Iran. So it has the support of the youth in Egypt.

They know the opposition in Syria, if they should prevail, would implement another Sharia based government along the lines of Saudi Arabia's Sunni government and they see the Syrian refugees now as a cancer within, a clear and present danger to what their Arab Spring was about. I read in the story about the change in Egyptian attitudes toward Syrian refugees about a Syrian woman who wished to leave Egypt for a conference that was in support of the Syrian rebels, she was told that she could certainly leave, but she would not be allowed back in. She took affront and the journalists simply took this as proof that Egyptian attitudes had indeed changed, but never considered WHY. When the answer is staring them in the face. The Syrian rebels are Sunni extremists and every bit as dangerous to personal freedom as Assad is. That war is between Sunni and Shia, the underlying conflict which is not being talked about at all is between the generations NOT the factions of Islam. The younger generations want secular government, freedom of religion, a society more like advanced western nations. The older generations want religious governments and Islamic religious "law" to control. Whichever side prevails in Syria will have to face the same conflict all middle eastern nations will soon - their young do not want what their elders have forced upon them and THAT is the conflict that will determine what the middle east finally becomes.

Debra Tate (17)
Thursday September 12, 2013, 8:56 am
Noted. Kerry is nothing but the mouthpiece of our propaganda machine!

Beth S (330)
Thursday September 12, 2013, 9:43 am
Bravo, Gene!

You really explained this phenomenon so well. You have captured the essence of the problems and made the issues intelligible as well as far more balanced that many of the articles themselves.

Thank you.

Madhu Pillai (22)
Monday September 16, 2013, 5:24 am
Or, log in with your
Facebook account:
Please add your comment: (plain text only please. Allowable HTML: <a>)

Track Comments: Notify me with a personal message when other people comment on this story

Loading Noted By...Please Wait


butterfly credits on the news network

  • credits for vetting a newly submitted story
  • credits for vetting any other story
  • credits for leaving a comment
learn more

Most Active Today in US Politics & Gov't

Content and comments expressed here are the opinions of Care2 users and not necessarily that of or its affiliates.

New to Care2? Start Here.