Dienstag, 6. März 2018

Syria, SSRC, NOSSTIA and North Korea

In the last days a lot of media reports referred to a UN Report not published yet, describing that "North Korea has been sending equipment to Syria that could be used to make chemical weapons". In a few reports one responsible Syrian institution is mentioned: The Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC). Hundreds of people working for this Center are sanctioned since last April 2017.

Interesting for me is that organisations which are connected to this Center and which are playing a crucial role, are not sanctioned. First of all I think about the Network of Syrian Scientists, Technologists and Innovators Abroad (NOSSTIA), which is working somehow under the radar. I came across a brief notice about a meeting on "environment projects", which was described by the Syrian Arab News Agency in April 2016.

This was the first time ever I read about NOSSTIA and so I tried to take a look at their website. Today they seem to operate two Facebook accounts which I will not examine here in depth. Both accounts offer contact details, pictures etc.

 And the other one:

 In former times they had a website which is offline since a while. The old contact details (August 2015) there are slightly different:

But reading their old statements and going through their once uploaded documents and journals one could get the impression of an organisation which is - due to their mandate and self-concept - operating worldwide: Just there where Syrian patriots are.

This reminds me not only on similar Chinese organisations  - which are also engaged in espionage and intelligence gathering. It sounds for me like a not so hidden agenda, especially today, focusing on collecting information, intelligence, data, contacts etc. Harvesting all the documents where NOSSTIA is involved in, analysing the metadata and going through different social media networks provides an small insight into Syrian efforts to come through their doubtlessly hard times.

People and institutions had (or have?) the chance to donate money and receiving a special sponsor status. No Platinum and Gold Sponsors, but Silver (which meant in August 2015: 25,000 Syrian Pounds ($5,000 USD)):

And finally, nearly invisible:

Due to my interest in thrilling newspaper I took a look into this example of investigative journalism:

On page 2 I found Omar Armanazi, named in the aformentioned meeting. This time (2002) he met members of a highranking DPRK delegation in Syria:

I didn't do a lot to go deeper into those connections but as we all know: scientific exchange can be misused and political systems under pressure, suffering from sanctions or war will use every opportunity to improve their situation.