How The Mainstream Media Turned Al Qaeda Into A US Ally In Syria

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Rania Khalek via,

The Syrian government - a dictatorship known for imprisoning, torturing and disappearing dissidents - is easy to vilify. And over the last five years of Syria’s civil war, it has committed its share of atrocities. But there is more than one side to every story, and US media coverage has mainly reflected one side—that of the rebels—without regard for accuracy or basic context.

As the Syrian government recaptured East Aleppo from rebels in recent weeks, media outlets from across the political spectrum became rebel mouthpieces, unquestioningly relaying rebel claims while omitting crucial details about who the rebels were.

Almost always overlooked in the US (and UK) media narrative is the fact that the rebels in East Aleppo were a patchwork of Western- and Gulf-backed jihadist groups dominated by Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra)—Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria—along with its ally, Ahrar al-Sham (Daily Beast, 8/8/16; Foreign Policy, 9/1/16). These groups are explicitly anti-democratic and have been implicated in human rights violations, from mass execution and child beheadings to using caged religious minorities as human shields.

In the absence of any desire to evoke a political response, US media would surely have identified East Aleppo’s rebels by the name of the most famous militant group in the world—Al Qaeda. Yet press reports regularly referred to the militant forces dominating East Aleppo simply as “rebels.”

“Women in Aleppo Choose Suicide Over Rape,” declared a headline at the Daily Beast (12/12/16). The source of this very serious claim was Abdullah Othman, a member of Jabhat Al-Shamiya, or the Levant Front, an umbrella group whose membership consists of several jihadist rebel factions. So far no evidence has been presented, at least not publicly, to substantiate Othman’s claim. But that didn’t stop his story from spreading like wildfire across social media and being picked up by Commentary (12/13/16), Mic (12/16/16), Elle (12/13/16) and Foreign Policy (12/16/16), among others.

NBC News (12/13/16) reported that “scores of civilians were burned alive by regime forces.” The source for this accusation was unspecified “reports from Arab media.” The Independent (12/17/16) warned of “house-to-house murder.” The source was British politician David Miliband. The UN (12/13/16) cited “credible reports” of 82 civilians being shot “on the spot” by pro-government forces. While this is certainly plausible, the UN, which was not on the ground in East Aleppo, has yet to follow up on the matter.

US media also promoted accusations made by self-described “media activists” in East Aleppo warning that the Syrian regime was going to slaughter them. State Department spokesperson John Kirby called the messages “brave” and praised those who posted them as providing “independent third-party media coverage” of the horrors in Aleppo.

But information coming out of rebel areas is far from independent. On the contrary, it is tightly controlled by the jihadist groups that control these areas. These groups do not tolerate activism. They jail, torture and summarily execute activists, as well as lawyers, humanitarian workers, journalists and minorities. This should raise questions about anyone purporting to be an activist from rebel areas. But in the Western press, it doesn’t, which is why one of the most widely featured media personalities out of rebel-held Aleppo, Bilal Abdul Kareem, has been uncritically promoted by CNN (12/16/16) and even the usually adversarial Intercept (6/30/16), despite a well-established record of pushing hyper-sectarian propaganda for extremist groups (AlterNet, 12/29/16).

If media outlets were quick to grant legitimacy to rebel accusations, they ignored or downplayed rebel atrocities.

For example, when the rebels burned several buses (and killed the drivers) meant to evacuate the sick and injured from two besieged Shiite villages in Idlib, the New York Times (12/18/16)  buried the details of the incident deep inside in the 19th paragraph of a story on evacuations.

Reports that the rebels shot at civilians attempting to flee to government areas and withheld food and humanitarian aid from civilians rarely made it into Western media reports.

While both sides have accused the other of carrying out massacres in Aleppo, only rebel accusations received widespread US media coverage. But the only evidence to emerge so far points to the rebels as culprits. Ahead of their evacuation from East Aleppo, rebel groups reportedly executed an estimated 100 Syrian soldiers they were holding prisoner, according to pro-government forces. The bodies were found in a local school. Despite photos, corroborating video evidence and the fact that rebels have carried out mass summary executions of Syrian soldiers taken prisoner in Aleppo in the past, US media outlets mostly ignored it. One of the groups alleged to be behind the killings is Nouriddeen Al-Zinki, a recipient of US weapons. (Months ago, Al-Zinki fighters videotaped themselves beheading a child. The gruesome act was met with a shrug by the group’s Western backers.) Russia also reported finding mass graves of tortured civilians and booby traps during its sweep of East Aleppo, which received little to no attention.

If none of this were true, the loathing that many Syrians in government areas express for the rebels, and for the Western media who glorify them, would be hard to explain.

In November, I visited government-held areas of Syria, where the overwhelming majority (an estimated 75 percent) of Syrians live, and I witnessed a side of the conflict that US media outlets have almost entirely overlooked. It’s as if the views and well-being of some 17 million Syrians don’t matter, simply because they live on the government side.

This rule seems to apply across the media spectrum. An editor at a major progressive publication rejected on-the-ground reporting from government areas, telling me it was a futile journalistic endeavor because the Syrian government watches everything, and Syrians are too terrified of the secret police to say what they really think.

While it’s true that Syrians are limited in their capacity to criticize the government, it doesn’t justify ignoring them. And the situation on the ground isn’t so black and white. Behind closed doors and in private conversations, many Syrians were sharply critical of the Assad regime. Yet they still supported the government, largely out of even stronger opposition to the religious fundamentalism and brutality of the armed groups, whom they view as foreign-backed religious fanatics who have invaded their country and terrorized them and their families.

I’m still haunted by what I saw at Al-Razi Hospital in what was then government-held West Aleppo. I watched as one ambulance after another dropped off civilians wounded by rebel mortars fired into residential neighborhoods around the clock. Medical staff quickly went to work on a man whose chest was pierced by a piece of twisted metal. A frantic woman lingered close by, shouting, “He’s the only son I have left!” The man was soon pronounced dead and the woman collapsed in agony.

Down a crowded hall, 10-year-old Fateh stood on a blood-smeared floor, crying beside a gurney where his 15-year-old brother, Mohammad, was lying. Blood had soaked through the bandage on his leg, but the medical staff was too busy with more life-threatening injuries to take notice. The boys were lucky to be alive. They had been moving furniture out of the house with their younger cousins earlier in the day when they were struck by rebel mortars. Their 6-year-old cousin, a girl, was in the ICU. Their 4-year-old cousin, a boy, had been killed.

Across the street, grieving families waited outside the morgue to identify the bodies of their recently deceased loved ones. A group of sobbing children explained to me how they had watched their father die that morning from the balcony of their apartment. A rebel mortar struck him as he was parking his car. Meanwhile, a shell-shocked father told me his 10-year-old son was shot and killed by a sniper while fetching water on the roof.

A grief-stricken woman, mourning the loss of her husband, cursed the government for not hitting the rebels—or “terrorists,” in her words—hard enough. Her family members agreed, complaining that the Syrian government was being too soft on the armed groups that they blamed for destroying their city.

Underneath all the grief and calls for revenge was exhaustion. After five years of war, these people were tired. I didn’t meet a single Syrian in the government areas I visited who hadn’t lost friends and family since the war started. But their suffering, with a few minor exceptions, has been largely disappeared from Western media, probably because the people most responsible for it are supported by the West.

Even those who expressed disapproval of Russia’s involvement in their country told me they hold the US and its regional allies—Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey—most responsible for the disintegration of their country.

These sentiments totally contradict one of US media’s most pernicious lies—that US inaction allowed the bloodshed in Syria to continue with impunity.

“Many thousands of people have been killed in Aleppo…but Washington shrugs,” lamented the New York Times (12/14/16). “The United States’ inaction in Syria has transformed our country into nothing other than a bystander to the greatest atrocity of our time,” complained Leon Wieseltier in the Washington Post (12/15/16).

But Washington has intervened (, 10/1/15)—and by doing so, it prolonged the bloodshed and empowered Al Qaeda.

Despite being warned about the extremist and violently sectarian ideology that dominated the opposition as early as November 2011, the Obama administration spent, according to the Washington Post (6/12/15), a colossal $1 billion-a-year training and funneling weapons to Al Qaeda–linked extremists in order to weaken the Syrian government.

In written testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in June 2016, Brett McGurk, the US special presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter IS, warned that “Nusra is now Al Qaeda’s largest formal affiliate in history.” According to US intelligence officials, Nusra is starting to plot attacks against the US.

In other words, the US government outsourced its war against the Syrian government to Al Qaeda, and Americans have no idea, because corporate media continue to promote lies about Obama’s so-called inaction.

Many US media consumers might be shocked to learn that the Syrian uprising was never particularly popular in Aleppo. The rebels, with help from their American benefactors, invaded and captured Aleppo’s eastern neighborhoods by force in 2012. At times they laid siege to Aleppo’s government-held areas, cutting off access to drinking water, electricity and food. American politicians cheered the territorial gains. Hillary Clinton, then secretary of State, expressed hope that the rebels taking East Aleppo would “provide a base for further actions by the opposition.”

With its ground forces already overstretched fighting an insurgency across the country, the Syrian government responded, as it often has, with overwhelming and devastating air power, which Western leaders routinely denounced. But the criminal conduct of the rebels failed to provoke similar outrage.

Many whose neighborhoods were occupied by rebel forces fled early on to government areas or neighboring countries. Their homes were looted in their absence and turned into operating bases. Those who stayed were subjected to strict interpretations of Islamic law that closely resembled the brutal practices imposed by ISIS.

Corporate media’s own accounts periodically reflected these realities, back when Western journalists still ventured into rebel areas.

“We waited and waited for Aleppo to rise, and it didn’t. We couldn’t rely on them to do it for themselves so we had to bring the revolution to them,” a rebel commander told Reuters in July 2012. The article went on to note that the fighters were “lounging inside a school taken over by the rebels as a temporary base” in an area that “appeared to be completely deserted by residents. Fighters were using houses as bases to sleep in.”

“Around 70 percent of Aleppo city is with the regime. It has always been that way. The countryside is with us and the city is with them,” confessed another rebel commander to the Guardian in August 2012.

“In Aleppo, I heard Salafi jihadists talk of slaying the minority Alawites, and call for both the immediate support of America, and its immediate demise,” reported the New York Times in October 2012.

Indeed, schools, medical facilities and residential buildings were transformed into military bases and sharia courts. The Children’s Hospital in Aleppo became a notorious prison and torture facility where several Western hostages, including journalist James Foley, who was later beheaded by the Islamic State, were held.

By late 2013, rebel kidnappings of journalists were so rampant that major Western media outlets collectively urged the Syrian opposition to put a stop to the abductions.

At the same time, Western governments poured millions of dollars into rebel propaganda made up of authentic-looking rebel media outlets and NGOs, like the White Helmets, to glorify the armed groups and agitate for more forceful Western military intervention against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

No longer able to travel to rebel areas for fear of being kidnapped or worse, journalists were relegated to covering the war from Beirut and Istanbul, becoming entirely dependent on Western-funded propaganda to fill the information vacuum.

Falling in line behind the geopolitical interests of their governments, Western media went about whitewashing and romanticizing jihadist groups as liberators and protectors adored by the Syrians living under them, even as their own reporters were being kidnapped, ransomed and even shot by Western-backed rebels.

Take Liz Sly of the Washington Post. In a 2013 on-the-ground report from East Aleppo (3/19/13), Sly details the brutality of Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, which had taken over the area and turned the city’s Eye Hospital into its headquarters. Yet as the government recaptured East Aleppo, Sly and her colleagues omitted any mention of Al Qaeda among the rebels, while promoting the claims of rebel activists who operate under their control.

When a US-backed government like Iraq retakes a city, NBC (6/17/16) celebrates the victory over “ISIS terror”; when an enemy state, Syria, recaptures a city, the militant group it defeated – Al Qaeda – isn’t even mentioned by NBC (12/14/16).

The cognitive dissonance is truly astounding in light of US media’s fawning coverage of similar military offensives in cities controlled by ISIS in both Syria and Iraq, where US-backed forces have employed many of the same tactics condemned in Aleppo.

In the Syrian city of Manjib, not far from Aleppo, US-backed ground forces imposed a crippling siege that left tens of thousands of civilians hungry as US airstrikes pounded the city, killing up to 125 civilians in a single attack. In Iraq, the US also used airstrikes to drive ISIS out of Ramadi and Fallujah, leaving behind flattened neighborhoods that resemble the ruins of East Aleppo. In Fallujah, 140 people reportedly died from lack of food and medicine during the siege.

After ISIS was ejected from Fallujah, NBC News (6/17/16) ran the headline: “Iraqi Forces Enter Central Fallujah, Liberate Key Areas from ISIS.” In striking contrast, during Al Qaeda’s removal from East Aleppo, NBC (12/14/16) declared: “Aleppo Is Falling. What Does This Mean For Assad, ISIS and Russia?”

Since 9/11, US corporate media have portrayed Al Qaeda as a monstrous organization whose existence justifies a global war without end. Who could have predicted that by 2016, these same media outlets would become Al Qaeda’s most enthusiastic cheerleaders?

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Manthong's picture

Most of the significant MSM players and talking heads deserve a nice, long tropical respite.

I hear there are plenty of bunks available in Gitmo.

Pinto Currency's picture

ISIS was directly given stinger missiles, sarin gas used in dozens of attacks, training and $ by US with Hillary Clinton coordinating:

George Webb is all over this destabilizing and looting using war crimes. Wasn't the media.

Tarshatha's picture

Goyim, you will bleed for Israel and like!

knukles's picture

"No no no no no no no.  You got it all wrong.  These Al Ciada guys are the ones we veted.  They're moderates."
More at 10.
Brought to you by PizzaGate

And somebody's wonderin' whether sumptin's wrong.

Pinch's picture

Tramp will solve this, just you wait and see

HowdyDoody's picture

An update on the White Helmets, another Anglo-Zionist flase flag outfit. The video below includes evidence discovered from sites in recently liberated Aleppo. It includes evidence for co-located ISIS and White Helmet bases, both used by AL Jazeera in promo films about the WH, an interview with someone involved, and <CAUTION> the wretched Clueless Clooney doing a cynical bleeding heart piece on their behalf.

Turn on english subtitles in the Anna News video.

Never One Roach's picture

I have heard some of these shills on npr and that Foreign Policy magazine editor is a complete jackass.

Jubal Early's picture

These are not merely Goyim, they are mind controlled Goyim.  Consider them Goyim Zombies under Zio-mind control.  When you look at it this way it becomes easy to understand that the vast majority of Congress, and of course the Obama regime, are the same as ISIS.   That is they are merely puppets dancing on the Zionist world stage on Mossad string.


General Titus's picture

Waterboarding them and than seizing their ill gotten assets to be reimbursed to the American people and than let them be ragpickers would be a fitting punishment, no wait screw the ragpicking, ship them to their beloved liberal Robert Mugabe and his racist terrorists and let them do to them what they have done to thousands of farmers there

TheReplacement's picture

At least some of those assets should go to the people of the world who have been bombed and otherwise terrorized by the iron bank and their tools.

General Titus's picture
Wall Street Journal: Israel Caught Red-handed Aiding al-Qaeda in Syria


Makes you question 9/11 even more

AViewFromDublin's picture



How The Mainstream Media Turned Israel Into A US Ally


Thats because Jews own the mainstream media and many are Israeli firsters. Israel did 911..if more Americans knew this - that little dustbowl on the outskirts of the med "would flat ass dissappear" to quote Dr Alan Sabrosky.

WTFUD's picture

These groups are explicitly anti-democratic, LoL, Vichy DC included.

Ignatius's picture

The 'War on Terror' is a 'War of Terror' and the joke is on us.

Citizen_x's picture


How is this such a shock ?

Communism...BAD (Russia, Vietnam, North Korea)


Isn't China a communist country ?  Didn't they attack us troops in the Korean war ? Aid North Vietnam ?

CIA ... Corporate Intervention Assistants... or Chomsky term "Gunboat Diplomacy"  


General Titus's picture

"We have always been at war with Eurasia, while Eastasia has always been our ally" Next day "we have always been at war with Eastasia, Eurasia has always been our ally"

George Orwell 1984

Makes the people who have been saying 9/11 was done by the CIA, & Mossad allot of credability


bshirley1968's picture

You beat me to it.  The is the exact quote that came to mind as I read that headline.

Publius Maximus's picture

It's not really important if it was the CIA or any other of the countless US secret agencies.

There are not only "17" of these but more than 3 dozen and I am sure there are even more being established as we post here, depending on the needs of the Empire to do wetwork etc. And even if the CIA outsources the domestic wetwork - one JFK-theory for example says it was three french mercenaries that killed him who were paid in heroin for the job - then there are more possibilities.

What's really important in 9/11 is not who did it (we can't and won't know that for sure, even in the future) but who did the utmost to prevent a true investigation - and this was the US government with help of the FBI and the NY mayor of the time. This *alone* points to 9/11 being done (=planned and set in motion) by American-based entities.

The real point being is that the CIA & companies are only the tools for the deep state operating for the "show democracy" and that countless people working for these agencies have not the slightest scruples to kill and ruin American citizens "if need be".


Beans's picture

JFK, 9/11, Jes Suis Charlie were Zionist operations from start to finish. The evidence for is overwhelming.

Ignatius's picture

Involvement, yes, operationally it's not so clear.

Zionists were big (perhaps biggest) beneficiaries in each.

AViewFromDublin's picture

It is, and it's more than that, Mark. What we need to stand up and say is that not only did they attack the USS Liberty, they did 9/11. They did it.

I have had long conversations over the past two weeks with contacts at the Army War College, at the Headquarters Marine Corps, and I have made it absolutely clear in both cases that it is 100% certain that 9/11 was a Mossad operation. Period.

You know, Phil, I don't denigrate what happened to USS Liberty in the slightest - you understand that - but for most Americans what happened to the USS Liberty, or in Vietnam, was history. Now this is history. You know, they can be concerned about it, but they're not going to get mad about it.

9/11 has led directly to 60,000 Americans dead and wounded, God knows how many hundreds of thousands of people in other countries that we've killed or wounded or made homeless, and it's an on-going sore. It's not your sore from the USS Liberty, it's not my sore from Vietnam. Both of us have those, both of us care about. But this is an open wound.


And what Americans need to understand is that they did it. They did it. And if they do understand that, Israel's going to disappear. Israel will flat-ass disappear from this Earth.

I sent a film to one of my colleagues and it basically had Americans grieving over their dead coming back. And I showed one of them - it was a woman - just wrenched by grief over her dead soldier. And I said, you know, if Americans ever know that Israel did this, they're going to scrub them off the Earth, and they're not going to give a rat's ass - forgive my language - what the cost is.


They are not going to care. They will do it. And they should.


Dr Alan Sabrosky

alexcojones's picture

  "The   AMERICAN  government - a dictatorship known for imprisoning, torturing and disappearing Little Brown Countries - is easy to vilify. And over the last five years of the Syria / Lybia/ Iraq/ Afghanistan/ Yemen / Ukrainian’s civil war, it has committed its share of atrocities."

FIFY dildo.

Signed, a US Veteran

WTFUD's picture

I luv it when a good Neocon-warmongering plan comes together.

CNN = CIA = MIC-Ali Qaeda

Sylvan's picture

From worst enemy to closest friend => sick to the roots

Who was that masked man's picture

A better question:  When did the MainStream Media become the Mainstream Propaganda Machine?

Tarshatha's picture

"A better question:  When did the MainStream Media become the Mainstream Propaganda Machine?"


Operation Mockingbird

CRM114's picture

My grandfather apparently used to shout "Propaganda!" at the radio in the 1930s.

Fathead Slim's picture

"You provide the war, I'll provide the headlines."

It was already in place in time for the war on the Spanish Empire.

Setarcos's picture

Oh that was a LONG while ago.  The MSM of the day supported the war against Spain, by lying about the sinking of the Maine wasn't it?  So nothing new about Iraqs WMD and blaming Osama bin Laden for 9/11 nor, most recently, blaming Russia for the chaos in Syria and the Ukraine ... fill in the many blanks for the LONG history of the media being propaganda organs of governments/the real rulers such as Rothschild & Co., who own most of the media anyway and who are gradually destroying the internet it appears.

shimmy's picture

Anyone with a brain could have predicted this shit given AQ was created and controlled by the CIA and the media will just follow whatever scrip they are given. You can be sure that once they grow bored of the ISIS boogeymen narrative that they'll go back to the AQ boogeymen narrative if they haven't simply moved on from making Muslims out to be the most evil people to ever exist which they are trying to do now with making Russia be the new main event bad guy.

It's all basically pro wrestling with a group of heels you select to be in the main event and just recycle them.


General Titus's picture

Never forget the squashed story by Fox News of carl cameron's Israeli Art Students story

Four Part Series Carl Cameron Israeli Spies in U.S. Cheering Movers and Art Student Spies: Was Israel Tracking the Hijackers Before the 9/11 Attacks?

Krungle's picture

"The Syrian government - a dictatorship known for imprisoning, torturing and disappearing dissidents - is easy to vilify."

"Rania Khalek describes herself as “an independent journalist,” and while she apparently prefers not to disclose her professional qualifications,"

This "dictatorship" features 11 different parties in parliament and 77 unaffiliated representatives. Maybe other people's definition of dictatorship differs from mine, but when you have elections and you have a dozen or so parties that manage to get seats in parliament, you probably are not a dictatorship. Yes, back in the 70s Assad's dad made it essentially a single part Ba'athist country (some might recall he was kind of fighting Muslim Brotherhood types decades ago and made these moves to fight them), but apparently everyone forgot about the constitutional amendment in 2012 allowing for multiple parties. This is inconvenient since the jihadi rebels have been able to run for office for five years, as opposed to chopping heads en route to a jihadi dictatorship.

General Titus's picture

The secular Syrian government supplies electricity and water to its multitude of churches according to the well respected christian relief organization Barnabas Fund.  Secular Syria's large Christian community is perhaps the world's oldest, and is the second largest in the ME

HowdyDoody's picture

The Assad government did torture some people for sure. The US set up a bounty system in Afghanistan supposedly to collect 'Bad Guys (TM)'. The Afghans gamed the system pointing the finger at anyone they didn't like. Consequently a load of ordinary Afghanis were 'extraordinarily renditioned'. In order to get into the US good books, the Assad government offered to interrogate some of these people. After the torture, the Syrians concluded the Afghanis they handled were innocent. The reaction of the US? Impound them in Gitmo anyway, where a lot of them still are left to rot.

Rania Khalek is totally silent over this.

CNONC's picture

The abuses and brutality of the Syrian government should not be minimized.  The security apparatus is not hesitant to use the most violent of means to protect the regime, and corruption plays a significant role in maintaining the power status quo.  It is a mistake to portray this government as anything close to benign.

That said, it is difficult to imagine any means of governing Syria which does not involve brutality.  Absent the intrusions of the West, the Assad regime was stable and generally recognized as legitimate by its people, even the Sunni tribes.  Bashar Al-Assad had been attempting limited reforms in the years before the "revolution."  Left alone, those reforms would likely have succeeded in maintaining a level of stability necessary for the very difficult economic reforms Syria needs. 

I generally agree with your point.  The Assad regime has been remarkably leniant with its reconcilliation programs, allowing Syrian anti regime fighters to surrender and rejoin civil society. (although I can't imagine trusting my life to the Syrian mukhabarat)  Although I recognize the failings of the Syrian regime, I am fairly certain that the most humanitarian end to this conflict would be the rapid and complete victory of the Assad government forces, and the destruction of the foreign forces in the country.


detached.amusement's picture

The security apparatus is not hesitant to use the most violent of means to protect the regime, and corruption plays a significant role in maintaining the power status quo.




re quoted for irony

CNONC's picture

Yeah, the US government isn't exactly benign either.

dude duderson's picture

"a dictatorship known for imprisoning, torturing and disappearing dissidents"...for a minute there I thought this was an article about Saudia Arabia

CRM114's picture

No, that's Qatar that does that..

or maybe Pakistan?


I remember was the CIA's rendition program.

PodissNM's picture

Or the liberal's darling Cuba.

alexcojones's picture

Thanks Krungle +1

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

Rhania Khalek.  Another CYA asset.

General Titus's picture

Former NATO Commander & US 4 Star General says the war to destroy secular Syria was planned years before by (dual citizens)

I-am-not-one-of-them-'s picture

Mercenaries are recruited and deployed where the Imperialists need them, which have been everywhere the US has wanted regime change.


The title of this article is ignorant, the media are only after the fact smokescreen propagandists, the author another dupe.


(2001) 7 countries in 5 years