Saturday, 15 June 2013

What the Hell Should We Do About Syria? Robin Yassin-Kassab: Arm the Guerrillas

 Rim Turkmani - "It is one thing to take up arms to defend your self and your family while you are directly under attack, and completely another thing to advocate arming while you are sitting away from it all in Britain."

2 June 2012 at 15:46 

 Dick Gregory - "As a Brit, I know much less about this, so I just have a couple of questions: what is the alternative to taking up arms? Is it moral force, or will it be a foreign intervention that Syrians will have no control over? And if it OK to take up arms to defend yourself and your family while you are directly under attack; what's going to happen to the hundreds of thousands who will be rounded up and tortured at the very least if the regime is ever going to regain full control over your country; are they entitled to take up arms now or do they have to wait until it is too late but for them to lose their own isolated battle against far superior force?"
4 June 2012 at 21:14
Image result for informed comment

Obama should Resist the
Clintons & Europe on Syria

"Former president Bill Clinton criticized President Obama on Thursday for his inaction in regard to Syria. This step seems extraordinary", yeah I wouldn't expect an American president to give a shit.
I recall a Pluto Press book making a very different point about Algeria, tolerate secular dictatorships as a bulwark against Islam, and the Islamists will get very popular.I have a copy around somewhere.
"Unlike in Bosnia, this is not a war by an outside force like the Serbs of ethnic cleansing against a neighbor." What?
"– Syria has stockpiles of chemical weapons, the exact position of which is unknown; indiscriminate bombing raids on Syrian military facilities could release those chemicals on civilian populations."
So that's a no to indiscriminate bombing raids.

Brian Braun's avatar image

Bashar Al-Assad: What to Expect When Syria Crushes Its Rebellion

As I said before, I don't think Assad can win, but this is what will happen if he does. Not supporting the rebels could turn the country into Somalia in a year, and Pol Pot's Cambodia in two. And will be much more likely to destroy the countries around it.

"Assad regime forces will exact revenge against the Sunni-majority opposition and perpetrate mass sectarian atrocities. As Assad’s army retakes parts of the country held by the opposition, regime forces commanded by Assad’s Alawite minority sect will carry out summary executions, imprisonment, and torture among the Sunni-majority opposition. In a country where the confessional balance has always been at risk of tipping, confessionally mixed cities like Homs and Damascus, where Alawites and Sunnis live in close proximity to one another, will erupt in sectarian bloodletting."


U.S. weapons can get to

Syria rebels via familiar route

"Now, we've started to manufacture and develop our own weapons," he said. "The Syrian people get the means to defend themselves any way they can."
Aftermath of a battle

Aftermath of a battle

"Hours after the fall of Al-Qusair, websites affiliated with Hizbullah and the Syrian regime posted video clips on the Internet showing Shia combatants celebrating their victory and chanting sectarian slogans."

Bad Idea, Mr. President

"Mr. Assad still has strong support from many Syrians, including members of the Sunni urban class."
Ruling class supports ruler shock.

Can the Syrians still believe

Washington’s promises?

Hard to. I disagree with some of the points made about Iran. But the timeline of the West's inactivity seems correct.
"All of the statements made by Washington over the past few years proved to be meaningless. Moreover, all steps taken by Washington or its European allies towards Syria have been either too little or too late, or both."

Thousands of Egypt
Islamists rally for Syria jihad

"We must undertake jihad to help our brothers in Syria by sending them money and arms, and providing all aid to save the Syrian people from this sectarian regime."
I've seen it suggested that this is the reason why Obama has belated decided to maybe arm the rebels, that a popular movement will do the job instead. Note they are calling for a war on sectarianism, not on sects. It is the Assad régime that creates sectarian division, that plays up all the talk of a regional sunni-shia conflict, that has dragged in outside forces, that would like to scare the world into allowing it to stay in power.

Mushroom cloud

Could Syria conflict start WWIII?

No. A more tabloid version of the bullshit that arming the rebels is the new Cuban Missile Crisis.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Kashmir - Who came here to start a revolution?

Zoe Williams was pointing out on the Sky press preview how disingenuous the comparisons between Iraq and Syria are: there are actual chemical weapons in Syria, there wasn't a civil war in Iraq...

An Israeli Truck Reportedly Captured From

The Syrian Opposition Reappears in Qusayr

We often see these stories recycled with a warning of the conflagration that is about to engulf the region. Give us a break.
My Photo

Meet The New Boss

"Reader, let me lay this on you - arming the rebels will keep the war going;" and I was no longer reading.

insufficient respect

"Patrick Cockburn knows he can't depend on understatement to soft-pedal Assad, so he offers up what aspires to be an impressive version of "this is a great big mess". Of course the underlying message is that the West ought to stay out of the great big mess, and it will be a disastrous to arm the rebels. This disingenuous pessimism is made plausible and respectable by standard techniques flaunting purported authority and expertise.
For that matter, not even Assad in an Iranian proxy. The Iranians are cruel and calculating, but they are not idiots. They don't go in for sectarian massacres and they don't delight in shabiha gangs running amok on steroids and booze, flaunting their syrupy Assad tattoos. Hizbollah, disciplined and judicious, is more Iran's idea of a proxy.
As for the rest of the area, it's a lark for Israel, not at all dangerous for Jordan and Turkey, and more of the same for Iraq, where Shia-Sunni violence never stopped. As for Lebanon, since the Christians and Druze so far are absolutely out of the picture, there's real danger, but hardly anything like an Iraqi-level conflagration.
The Syria conflict may indeed ignite the whole region. China may invade Taiwan, the Philippines and Vietnam. Or maybe Syria and Lebanon are about to get past violent repression and enter into a brighter future. Anything is possible, but invoking mere possibilities shouldn't pass for analysis."

Britons fighting with Syria's jihadi 'band of brothers'

Channel 4 News has been generally poor on Syria tonight - SHOCK! There might be 700 Europeans fighting to free Syria (so 'jihadists'), and they might get American weapons!!! - of which their commentary on the film below is an example, but there was an interview with the film-maker, Bilal Abdul Kareem who has spent seven months with the Battalion of Migrants who pointed out the difference between the rebels, even the jihadis, and the government. Are abuses SOP or isolated incidents? They are SOP on the government side, they celebrate their killings on Youtube. They are isolated incidents on the rebel side, denounced by the vast majority and punished.
The Channel4+1 has come on while I've been trying to post, so here's a couple of quotes:
"The Syrian people won't live or die according to what American weapons they get."
"Try to understand who these people fighting jihad are, and are their aims really incompatible [with ours]?"
"I think you're labouring under a misconception. Whenever you have tens of thousands of people fighting you're going to have incidents."
Damn, couldn't really get the rest of it, but rebels who commit abuses are punished, not so on the government side.

The Revolting Syrian
"We’ve been systematically let down over the last 2.5 yrs. Ill believe US arming when I see it …"

 "Didn't you say you don't want ANY sort of foreign intervention??"

"No, I never said that. If US arms to the FSA can stop and defeat Assad then I’m all for it. His massacres needs to end."


"These are the men that are fighting for our eventual freedom. These are the people enduring the most hellish of nightmares so our children can live in peace. These are the men that deserve the respect and gratitude that we can never hope to repay.

The very least we can do is take a minute to mourn these heroes."

"So is the ‘strategy’ to re-take Syria from the people and re-oppress them. To bomb the hell out of a town for weeks, then invade and murder the few survivors that remain.

Assad has already lost. The fact that he needs to bomb most of the country and use foreign mercenaries to invade the town’s and cities across Syria proves as much. The question remains how many people will he and his mercenaries kill before they are defeated."
Samoa has decided to change time zones. Here is an explanation of how time zones work.

David Cameron offers £1 million to solve

world's biggest problem - whatever it is

If it is, "how do we arm the right people in Syria?", I might have to give it a go
Image result for 15-june-protest-stop-western-intervention-in-syria

London protest on Saturday 15th:

Stop Western Intervention in Syria

Pro-Assad demo in Mayfair tomorrow.
FILE - In this Dec. 13, 2009 file photo, Iraqi laborers work at the Rumaila oil refinery, near the city of Basra. A senior Iraqi official on Wednesday said his country expects to ramp up oil production to 4.5 million barrels per day by the end of next year from around 3.5 million barrels now, thanks to work by a handful of international oil companies developing the country’s prized oil and gas fields. (AP Photo/Nabil al-Jurani, File) Photo: Nabil Al-Jurani

Power draw drops off

"Syria, which is engaged in its own conflict, registered nearly a 50 percent decrease."
I saw somerone say that if Assad survives, a million Syrians will die and ten million will be refugees. I think the economic data might well show that the régime cannot return the country to normal function, though it may kill that many trying.

Let There Be Rock

“Before the revolution, when I lived there, the regime would arrest anyone with a tattoo, long hair, a long beard, for listening to rock music or even for just wearing shorts,” Mousa said. “Despite the destruction, it was nice to see people free and happy.”

For Smith, who was born and raised in the U.S., the trip gave him perspective on racism.
“People think they’re being patriotic by being disrespectful to Arabs,” Smith said. “But that’s not true. We never felt threatened on our trip and we saw how all those people love and work just like we do. It’s fascism that we should hate.”
On Jabhat-al-Nusra:
“They turned out to be real nice and excited to see us.”
Rosa Yassin Hassan (photo: DW)

Touched by Magic

"It's true that confessional groups are fighting against each other, that Syrian soldiers are killing Syrian rebels and vice versa. But it's still not a civil war. If a civil war is to be avoided, the government must fall. The Syrian people will only find unity in a democracy, and that will not come about as long as Assad is in power. The sooner the regime goes, the greater the chance that we'll be able to rebuild our nation and grow together to form one society." under siege by abdulrahman-romano

Syria: Old Homs Under Siege for a Year

"The “siege” of the 14 neighborhoods in Homs is a special case – and is not similar to other Syrian cities. It is a reminder of the siege of Gaza. However, in Homs there are no secret tunnels to smuggle basic supplies, medical aid and injured and sick people. In Homs, a few thousand people are trapped in an area where there were 400,000 people residing."
I suppose the rest are fled or dead.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Cars And Girls

"We've got measures in place to make sure that transport doesn't fall into the wrong hands." - David Cameron.

 Miliband says we should focus on the peace conference, but also worries about the hands aid will get into. How are you going to stop Assad killing civilians, by appealing to the Russians' better nature perhaps?

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

For some, the best bad choice:

Returning from refuge to Syria

'Refugees say many of the returnees are from areas in Syria’s southern Dera’a Governorate that have been "liberated" by the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) - UNHCR said in April this constituted 80 percent of returnees.

"We want to go back and stand with our people,” he said. “We want to do something about the massacres, killings, and rape instead of being stuck in the desert feeling helpless.” '
Aleppo street

We can't just say 'arm Syrian rebels'

– we must be clear what this means

Or let's throw up a smokescreen to justify not arming the rebels. Either there are so many weapons that some more will make no difference, or the rebels can't be trained, or have better things to do with the weapons than fight Assad. Tosh.
Free Syrian Army Fighters

Assad’s Unlikely Allies: Who In The West Is Supporting The Maligned Syrian Dictator, And Why

"Assad advocates, few in number but strong in conviction, consist mostly of extreme right-wing, almost-fascist political parties in France and Italy."

Prospects for the Syrian revolution

"The first speaker was from the, an indispensable resource for understanding Syria from a Marxist standpoint. Even though he is presently not based in Syria, the blogger had to have his identity concealed during a Skype video call since it is entirely conceivable that the Baathist goons might want to track him down. The second speaker was Anand Gopal, who quite simply is the most informed person on the American left about Syria, both theoretically and as a journalist who has taken great risks to tell the true story of the revolutionary struggle."

Monday, 10 June 2013

Joyce S. Dubensky Headshot

Finding Hope in Syria

'One of our 
Peacemakers is Hind Kabawat, a lawyer from Damascus, who recently returned to Syria through Turkey to provide training in a village that had been "liberated" by those fighting the Syrian president, Assad.

"I am a Syrian like you, from Damascus, coming to tell you that you are not alone, and that all of humanity is standing in solidarity with your blessed hearts." '
Syrian army soldiers assess a damaged street in the town of Qusayr

Why does the left find it so difficult

to take a position on Syria?

I'd disagree with the contention that, "others wholeheartedly back the rebels, ignoring the Salafi religious extremists that have infiltrated the movement" - they haven't been ignored by the pro-revolution left, but kept in proportion and not seen as the important threat to Syrians that is the government in Damascus - but otherwise Assed Baig writes well here.
The comments are uniformly disappointing.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Fleeing Syria

"We escaped from Bashar al-Assad, and people have treated us just as badly."

"Is now the time to arm the Syrian opposition?
Should porn be on the school curriculum?
And, is rap music a way to God?"
More to the point than I'd expected. The guy from the Henry Jackson Society reminded me of Nick Cohen's piece in this morning's Observer: half his case I'd agree with, the other half is the sort of imperialism Syrians should run a mile to avoid. Also with Nick, you get hysteria about those who disagree with him, and a complete lack of criticism of those who say what he thinks is the right thing.