Saturday, 10 August 2013

Syria's Muslim Brotherhood faces uphill battle
"Inside Syria, the group faces an uphill battle trying to rebuild its base with the young revolutionaries of today, many of whom view its leadership as ageing and out of touch after years away from the country."

At least they are trying.


"Reports by activists in Damascus say that government troops have sometimes been forced to prevent massacres from taking place by the hands of Iraqi and Lebanese Shia militia groups – begging the question of how long the regime can retain command and control as it increasingly relies on irregular forces.

And while the western media seems to have bought the narrative of the government’s continuing strength, under the surface things are not what they appear in the capital. Through the successful use of more sophisticated weaponry and enhanced coordination, the opposition has made unprecedented advances in Damascus and has come closer to the heart of the capital than ever before.
Those arguing for a “let them fight it out” approach compartmentalize the Syrian conflict in ways that ignore these dynamics, which could quickly spark a regional conflagration that puts U.S. allies at risk and threatens U.S. strategic interests abroad. As Ambassador Fred Hof points out in a recent article, Assad’s victory in the war of narratives over the struggle for Syria has led to a belief in regime propaganda about the nature of this struggle."
Of course, there are some people who will see in the last bit a confirmation that the US really does want to install its own puppet government in Damascus. A more reality-based reading would see that the desire of the US for stability, to be sure so that their corporations can profit, coincides with the Syrians' need for revolution, as the only way that stability can be achieved again, if it is to be more than the quiet of mass graves.


Syria crisis: Eid al-Fitr in war-torn Homs

'Mohammed says he is working towards the removal of President Bashar al-Assad by promoting the activities of rebels.

His work on social media sites makes him a target for the regime and he has grown used to leading a solitary life, cut off from his family out of fear for their - and his - safety.
But despite the personal danger, he can't bring himself to leave the city of his birth.
"I'm a simple tradesman," he said in a Skype interview. "I have no political views, but I want freedom for my country.
"Freedom from corruption and the family that has ruled our lives and robbed us of our country for over 40 years." '
External support and the Syrian insurgency

External support and the Syrian insurgency

"Syrian insurgents have become increasingly dependent on state supporters for their logistics. Gone are the days when rebels could storm lightly defended regime positions with assault rifles and a few RPGs. The retreat of loyalist forces on heavily fortified bases last winter has required a major quantitative and qualitative increase in the opposition's armament. This is something only foreign governments, not Jihadi utopians, can offer. Given Saudi Arabia's apparent determination to lead the way in that respect, this situation will probably continue to favour mainstream insurgents over their radical brothers-in-arms in the foreseeable future."

Friday, 9 August 2013

Child protests over Syria

Implementing ‘Sharia’ in
Syria’s Liberated Provinces

Thomas Pierret

"Such developments seem to confirm the widespread Western perception of the implementation of sharia as a heavy-handed imposition of an Islamic lifestyle. This is undeniably part of the reality, but there is more to the establishment of Islamic jurisdictions in the rebel-held regions of Syria than a drive to impose public morality. Indeed, this is a marginal concern compared with more urgent issues such as the need to rebuild state institutions and to restore a minimal level of law and order."


Syria: The Physio

Image result for John Kerry talks with Russian minister to go ahead

John Kerry talks with Russian
minister to go ahead

"Russia's support for President Bashar al-Assad, and America's backing of the rebels, have strained relationships."[1m13s]

What backing, Katy Watson?

Syria, Photo courtesy of The Mark News, Photo credit: Narciso Contreras/Associated Press

Opinion: No end in sight

"Syria can only reach stability if the United States begins to provide real material and financial support to the rebels, or if the member nations of NATO conduct a military intervention. The Syrian people also desperately need anti-tank and anti-aircraft rockets to defend themselves."

Of course, whenever those who would prefer the rebels not to be armed talk about external intervention, they tend talk exclusively about the second item here, when it is the real material support of anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons that are the issue.

25 dead in Syrian forces' air attack on mosque

25 dead in Syrian forces' air attack on mosque
A Syrian techinician works to set a new telephone network in the city of Qusayr, in Syria's central Homs province, Aug. 1, 2013.

Syrians Find Innovative Ways
to Stay Connected Online

'Sami Ibrahim said one of the biggest threats to activists is when Syrian government forces torture them and force them to hand over their Skype and Facebook contacts lists.'

Activists Launch Syria-Focused Campaign In D.C. Metro Ahead Of U.S.–Russia Talks

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

The M60 Song

"ATGM impact on theatres in Deraa, Aleppo, S. Idlib, RIf Dimashq, and Hama have shifted some long-held dynamics lately. Latakia the same.
Military relies heavily on tank-led artillery defence. Neutralising tanks leaves less impactful systems, more vulnerable to ground forces.
…so far, majority of ATGMs deployed in northern Syria have been seized systems: primarily Konkurs, some Kornets.
[ATGM = Anti-Tank Guided Missile]"
Weapons the West could have provided any time in the last year, and we wouldn't be hearing about refugees and massacres. At some point I might explain how the scare that Israel was going to bomb Russian ships was obviously a put-up job all round to scare the Americans off arming the FSA because of a set of non-existent dominoes that would topple as a result.

Latakia offensive inflames
Syria’s sectarian wounds

' “Tit-for-tat wars generally backfire,” Landis said, pointing to the brutal slaying of possibly hundreds of Sunni civilians in Baniyas, south of Latakia, at the hands of Alawite loyalist militia in May.

“Whenever there has been any activity in this region the retribution against the Sunni population has been immediate and brutal,” he said.'
Joshua Landis seems to believe that any advance by the largely-secular rebel forces is incitement to sectarian bloodletting by the régime.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

I Am My Homeland

"Jandali was born in Germany, but went to school in his home town of Homs. “Every morning, we were forced to chant and memorize regime slogans,” he said, adding that the Assad regime connected the flag, the country and the national anthem to the regime and Assad family,” and that Syria was “Assad’s Syria.” He said he grew up feeling like a hypocrite; praising the Assad dictatorship while at school, and returning home to a family that was against the brutal regime.” "

Ace Of Base

Rebels Gain Control of Government Air Base in Syria
"The advance brought fighting deeper into the heartland of the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam to which the Assad family belongs, heightening fears of sectarian conflict. Alawites here have long feared they would face revenge killings by the mostly Sunni insurgents, and pro-government Alawite militias have been accused of killing Sunni civilians in the area.
Some Alawites remained in their villages as rebels advanced, and a few wounded Alawites were treated in makeshift rebel hospitals."

Monday, 5 August 2013

Syrian rebels push into Assad's
Alawite mountain stronghold

Rebels in Homs look to Nusra for help

"The source said the opposition asked the West for advanced and sophisticated technical assistance but were knocked back.

“We wanted technical assistance for creative technical solutions to, for example, blow the regime communications,” the source added. “We got nothing. And the FSA no longer has the means to protect the people.” "

War of moles against hornets: Tunnels
give Syria army a real headache

'Syria's security services allege that Palestinian militant group Hamas, which fell out with the Syrian regime over its response to the uprising, has helped train rebels in the art of digging tunnels. Hamas regularly tunnels under the borders of the Gaza Strip, into neighbouring Egypt and Israel. But Khatib rejects the allegations with a laugh. "So just because I eat noodles does that make me Chinese?" he said. "Necessity is the mother of invention." '

Report: 5,000 Adra Prison inmates executed,
buried in one mass grave in Al Qutaifah

"It should be noted that this is not the first such report of the Assad regime using mass graves to dispose of victims, with leaked video footage showing dumper trucks unloading bodies emerging earlier this year."

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Navi Pillay said anyone who breaks international laws on treatment of prisoners will face punishment

Syrian rebels face UN investigation
over Aleppo footage
When the Guardian's only story of the weekend on Syria is the one above, I think, fair enough, there should be prosecutions for war crimes, but remember which side is committing them daily as a matter of policy and delight.

"THE UNITED NATIONS WILL NOT INVESTIGATE HER DEATH. NO PERSON WILL BE BROUGHT TO JUSTICE FOR HER DEATH. Daraa (Nawa): Aug 3, 2013 - Ghazal Alaa Al Rifai was killed when Assad’s forces shelled her home. There will be no investigation. There will be nothing more to mark her death than this video. Her perpetrators were celebrated by the Assad regime two days ago on “Armed Forces Day".
This is the fate of Syria’s children."



"There are more than 600,000 people crammed into this neighborhood. They are all refugees from across Homs. There is no local FSA unit to protect them. They are literally imprisoned by the Assad regime and must endure this hell as they suffer from the lack of food, medicine and basic supplies."

Global Financial Services In Conflict Zones: Banking In Egypt, Libya, Syria, Somalia And Other Countries
This is putting a guerrilla army in the same league as warlords and terrorists.

"Operating outside the conventional monetary systems puts stressed consumers in the same league as warlords, terrorists and guerrilla armies seeking to receive money anonymously. That came home to Anna Therese Day when she recently tagged along with the Free Syrian Army and witnessed the power and violence that an unchecked banking system can bring when in the wrong hands.
“I traveled with foreign fighters who were responsible for bringing in cash to militia leaders to buy more arms internally on the black market,” Day said. “They went to Western Unions along the Syrian-Turkish border, and each took out cash that had been wired by financiers in the Gulf.”
The fighters would then enter Syria to deliver the money to the leaders of international networks, Day said. So the business of banking was reduced to its most elemental level."
A couple of paragraphs later it gets into the same territory Christopher Walken covers with the watch in Pulp Fiction.

Jaber Alanzi, a resident at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, believes raising awareness is as critical as raising money for the cause.

At gathering in Villanova, Syrians
try to help their homeland

'Takiedine, who owns several Dunkin' Donuts restaurants in Bucks and Chester Counties, came to the United States when he was 18. "I have experienced firsthand the democracy and generosity of the American people," he said, "and I wish the good life that I have experienced in this country on my people back home. But nothing in a revolution happens easily. Even in the U.S., a lot of people died for the freedoms that we enjoy now." '

Raised Fist

Chicago anti-war leader Joe
Iosbaker speaks out on Syria

This is the most sophisticated yet straight-forward argument for supporting Assad I've seen, though I think it starts to fall apart in these paragraphs:

"First, the lines have been drawn quite clearly – a sectarian army backed by imperialism vs. a government with a history of resisting imperialism. Those who align themselves with foreign armies are considered traitors. And second, political power grows out of the barrel of a gun. If there are still local committees that have some political and social ideas separate from the foreign dominated armies fighting the Assad government, they will have no say in any post-war Syria.
Although it is a struggle to get through the mass of pro-rebel propaganda, truth has come out. For instance, independent sources state that the largest numbers of casualties have been [inflicted on] forces associated with the government – soldiers and militia; second, civilians, including heavy Alawite casualties; and third, rebel troops.
But again, for anti-war forces in the U.S., there’s no other way to read this idea but a call for somebody to intervene to topple the government of Syria. In other words, some imperialist intervention is good."


Our Revolution: A popular revolution for freedom, equality and social justice and against every kind of absolutism
"Our revolution has remained true to its original objectives: the overthrow of the regime, the establishment of a truly democratic system committed to respecting basic freedoms, the promotion of political engagement in parties, cultures and unions, the promotion of women’s and minorities’ rights, Freedom of belief and promotion of laws on the basis of the separation of religion and the State, struggling against sectarianism, and the realization of equality and social justice."

America's hidden agenda in Syria's war

America's hidden agenda in Syria's war

'The Americans began discussing the possibility of drone strikes on Al Nusra camps inside Syria and tried to enlist the rebels to fight their fellow insurgents.
"The US intelligence officer said, 'We can train 30 of your fighters a month, and we want you to fight Al Nusra'," the rebel commander recalled.
"I am worried about Islamic extremism, but I think we need to be smart in how we handle it. Otherwise we'll make matters worse, not better," he said. "In the end this should be a matter for Syrians to resolve, it's not for the West to tell us who are terrorists and who are not.
They [foreign governments] are not fighting for the same things as us," he said. "Syrians are fighting for our freedom, while they just want us to bleed to death fighting each other." '

A Syrian carries a revolution flag during a Friday protest in Aleppo, Syria, where young people and children sang songs against Bashar Assad and the Syrian regime, Friday, Dec. 21, 2012.(AP Photo/Virginie Nguyen Hoang)

Against All Odds

“I will revolt, until victory or until death.”

Sunday Morning Live

 If we'd armed the rebels a year ago, there wouldn't be any refugees, and if we armed them now the refugee numbers would stop multiplying.
"Should Britain take in Syrian refugees? The death toll in the Syrian conflict is over 100,000 and as many as two million people are thought to have been displaced. Many are fleeing the country to live in vast refugee camps outside their homeland, with the hope that the fighting will end. The UN says the countries surrounding Syria are being overwhelmed by the influx of people - and other countries, including Britain, may be asked to take in thousands of refugees. So should we open our doors or are there better ways of tackling the crisis?"