Saturday, 5 October 2013

Charity cash 'going to Syrian terror groups'
Pernicious. Overwhelmingly in Syria, it is the terrorism of the Assad régime that has led to refugees fleeing, and it is the régime that has prevented aid reaching the internally displaced in Syria. They have been aided in this by their allies on the UN Security Council, who have ensured that there have been no resolutions insisting that aid be allowed through, or that attacks on civilians must cease.
And the story is a game of Chinese Whispers anyway. From "some of it undoubtedly goes to extremist groups … It is very hard for all organisations to determine that," we go to, "“It is shocking to find that some charitable aid is being diverted to terrorists in Syria."

Meet the Syrian Women Who Aren't Afraid to Face Assad

"They openly rape and imprison women ... in parts of Central Syria the regime soldiers look for Sunni women to kidnap and rape. Just before Homs fell to the regime a few months ago, Assad's forces kidnapped 100 women from neighbouring town and forced them to march ahead of the army as they entered oppositional areas. To get the opposition to surrender. They use this tactic. In some towns they get the women to strip naked and then march."

Q: What were your opinions on an American military strike?
Aisha: "Syrians are divided over this questions. Many Syrians supported the idea and held up signs in anti-regime protests saying 'We are against the Syrian military intervention into Syria.' Others were against. For me it depends on their intentions. But now they have cut a deal with the regime, it is clear they do not care about the Syrian people".

Friday, 4 October 2013

Image result for Ralph Miliband     What Comes After Communist Regimes?

Ralph Miliband

What Comes AfterCommunist Regimes?
"There are many revolutions in the world which bring about a change of political regime, but which do not seriously affect the social order, or which do not affect it at all: the democratic successes in recent years in Latin and Central America are cases in point. There too, dictatorships have been swept away by popular upheavals. But the economic, military and administrative power blocs which had sustained the dictatorships, and which had been sustained by them, remained in place, with only some changes in personnel in the government and the state. The new political regimes, for all their extreme shortcomings, are a distinct advance on the ones they have replaced; but for the vast majority, the social order has remained as alien and oppressive as it had previously been."

Syrian refugees block a walkway leading to the ferry terminal in Calais, France

French police try to move Syrian
refugees seeking asylum in UK

One refugee, a 24-year-old English literature graduate from Aleppo, who did not want to be named, told the Guardian by phone:
"We just want to appeal for asylum in the UK. We don't hold any hope from the French government. We hope that the British government will show some of the humanity it is famous for. People are desperate. The two people on the roof threatening to jump are proof of that – one has lost two brothers, he has nothing left to lose. I'm so worried about my family back in Aleppo but they wanted me to go."

Misadventures In The Class Struggle"A movement comprised of the dispossessed must husband its scant resources. It can ill afford the wastefulness of lies. A state compensates for errors and delusions with the superabundant resources at its disposal. In a radical movement clarity of mind must compensate for lack of resources. The crucial prerequisite for being grounded in reality is truthfulness."
I made a similar point here* about Syria:
"If the Left claims that thousands will die in carpet bombing, that depleted uranium will be scattered across Syria, that American soldiers will be dying to help al-Qaida, and none of these things turn out to be true, it will discredit the Left, and because the Left does not control the media, that impression will stay for a long time, and when the US does want to intervene, the pendulum will have swung back to it being easy again for the US to do what it wants. And if the situation in Syria takes another step towards Hell, then there is a greater likelihood that American, French or British power will be brought to bear on Syria, rather than the empowerment of those rebels that we just don’t know about from what we’ve read in the press."
I nearly started with the funny story of the ultra-Maoist sect who tried to beat up Norman and his comrades:
" Leaving work one evening I noticed a grim-faced mob all wearing the trademark lumberjack boots, blue jeans and work shirts of the Revolutionary Union approach our building. I quickly rang up Fred at the front desk, who, I was later told, braced for the worst with wrench and crowbar in hand. (At the time he was eighty years old.) The RU’s plot was foiled, however, when they crowded into the elevator and it sank to the basement. It seems that they hadn’t read the bourgeois warning about maximum elevator capacity."

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Gulf News

Arab revolts undermine Iran’s influence

"At some point in the future, Iran will discover that it has made the wrong choice. Sooner or later, the Syrian regime will disappear from the scene and Iran will be having no friend whatsoever in new Syria. Most Syrians will not understand Iran’s regional motives for supporting their oppressors. All they know now is that Iran is acting in a sectarian manner and is supporting their tyrant."

Not A Civil War

 It is an all out massacre by the criminal Assad régime against the defenceless citizens of Syria.

Uneasy stalemate: Syria caught in deadlock as war of attrition drags on

Syria conflict

 "Many Damascenes who oppose the regime, including most of the activists who organised the street protests of 2011, have left for Beirut. Arrests continue, and those activists who remain in Syria avoid being seen with foreign journalists. As a result, the overwhelming mood in the capital is support for the government, either with genuine enthusiasm or out of fear of chaos if it falls."

 In those areas of the capital to which Jonathan Steele travels. A piece full of half-truths , "the informal militias, known as the 'shabiha', who were often accused of massacres". I see that Rajaa Nasser gets another outing, with another pack of untruths, "The Syrian National Coalition [the western-backed opposition] is not independent." [DG: Of course the armed opposition is the FSA, and 'Western-backed' is a sick joke]. The idea that the FSA would agree to a ceasefire while Assad's representatives talk in Geneva displays considerable i̶g̶n̶o̶r̶a̶n̶c̶e̶ prejudgement* on Mr.Steele's part. His contention that Assad is doing well is based on Britain not voting for airstrikes (remember that?), and the narrowly won military success in Qusayr, which Clay Claiborne puts in proper context.**

*Compare him from September 1st: "Syrian rebels' intransigence and their unwillingness to attend without preconditions are the main reason for the failure of Geneva so far. US military strikes will only embolden them to delay further. The hope of a ceasefire – by far the most reliable and principled mechanism to protect Syrian lives – will recede again."[…/us-public-doubts-attacking-syr…]
**"Qusayr wasn't regarded as being strategically important by the media while the Syrian revolutionaries held it for a year. Now that it is back in the government's hands, we will hear a lot about its strategic importance."[…/is-qusayr-assads-1st-maj…]
Mideast Syria Cost of War

Civil war leaves Syrian economy, cities in ruins

'Robert Powell, Middle East analyst for the EIU, said the economy alone probably won't bring down the Assad government in the near future.

"It may be another year or so before the economy falls off the precipice," he said.'
Probably and may.

Video: Syrian activists begin
'Pen and Revolution' campaign

"Syria’s local coordination committees say they have started what they describe as a “Pen and Revolution” campaign to provide school-going children in Syria with educational materials."

Airstrikes Threat On Syria! Third World
War? No War But The Class War!

I'm sure they'll be very receptive to this message. Not.
"Finally, we want to warn the proletarians in struggle in Syria who are on their knees while suffering endless bombings and massacres orchestrated by the current regime, and who yet develop illusions about an intervention of the “international community” (which is nothing but a bunch of capitalist gangsters), who call for airstrikes or a “no-fly zone”… There is nothing to expect from any State power, all of them have always fought and suppressed proletarian revolts in history...
All representatives and tendencies of “anti-Assad” united front whisper to you to tactically postpone attack against capitalist propertied class, existing social relations and present state of things, until “devilish” Assad is defeated."

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

REPORT: Injured Syrian rebel fighters treated on the border

Injured Syrian rebel fighters
treated on the border

'Mustafa has no regrets about his sacrifice as part of Syria’s revolution.

He laments however, the destruction of his city by regime forces and impotent western governments, refusing to intervene.
“Bashar al Assad has destroyed all of my city (sic) – there’s no city left”
“We don’t expect anything from the west – it’s clear they are going to support the regime by not helping us.” '
The monarchies want to make a sectarian war out of a democratic uprising.


"With a military that is completely loyal to the regime, any illusion (and there were many illusions in the movement at the beginning) that the regime could be overthrown merely through mass demonstrations was false. It was in a sense inevitable that the uprising would turn into a civil war because there is no way to overthrow a regime of this nature without a civil war."
A Free Syrian Army fighter feeds a cat in al-Jdeideh neighbourhood in the old city of Aleppo


A Free Syrian Army fighter strokes a cat while sitting behind sandbags in Aleppo

A Free Syrian Army fighter strokes a cat while sitting behind sandbags in Aleppo's Sheikh Saeed neighbourhood September 28, 2013.
The Damascus suburb of Moadamiyet al-Sham, where the SNC has reported high rates of starvation under regime siege, has previously been used by rebel forces to launch attacks on the pro-Assad forces in the capital (Reuters)

Syrian opposition reports rampant
starvation in Damascus suburb

'The coalition's statement further calls on the international community to "assume its  responsibilities towards the besieged areas of Syria by opening safe humanitarian corridors" by delivering "essential humanitarian aid to its residents and to evacuate hundreds of people who face death by starvation." '

Hands-off Syria Protest

U.S. Hands Off Syria!

Stupid things that supposed revolutionaries say. Leaving aside the idea that Obama was leading any march to war.
"Socialist Action rejects support to the U.S. or Saudi-Qatari-funded forces, or to any others in the region that funnel aid to achieve U.S. objectives. Many of these semi-secret U.S. weapons providers, while advancing U.S. corporate interests, simultaneously seek to impose on the popular opposition, and on Syria itself, a reactionary fundamentalist ideology and practice that would have Syria ruled by clerical reaction rather than the oppressed working masses."

Syria: massacre reports emerge from Assad's Alawite heartland

 Jabhat al-Nusra fighter in Syria

 I think this will turn out to be a complete falsification, and Jonathan Steele and the Guardian have been caught passing on pro-Assad propaganda. There have been repeated reports over the last two years that the rebels have engaged in sectarian massacres, over and over they have proved to be untrue.This time we get a convenient narrative that the régime wanted to hide the massacres to begin with (something completely unprecedented), and still won't let reporters in to do any independent confirmation. We get three of Assad's murderers put up to support this fable. And Rajaa Nasser, labelled an "opposition politician". Here's Rajaa Nasser from last September:

 'President Assad's regime normally tightly restricts criticism in areas it controls, but the NCB's Rajaa al-Nasser said the Damascus authorities had permitted all Syrian political figures to attend the conference "without restrictions." '*

 I think he's part of the loyal opposition to Assad, that is tolerated as long as it does the régime's bidding when needed.

The Free Syrian Army Press
Office would Rather Be Fighting

'Abdul had been a teacher before the revolution and worked as a media activist during the initial protests against al-Assad. When government soldiers started shooting at protestors, Abdul joined the Aseft al-Shamal (Northern Storm) Brigade and spent eighteen months fighting across the north of Syria. After his brigade took over the border region around Azaz last year he was assigned to the press office to translate documents and show journalists around. He’s been bored out of his mind ever since.
“I like the war. I like the war more than to sit here.”
“I feel that I give my country a lot when I fight. But here, by sitting here we do something like this.” He hands me a stack of western news articles about Syria that he has to translate into Arabic.'

Syria chemical arms accord a
'disgrace': ex-regime colonel

'He said the FSA still had "overall control of the situation."
"But the more the situation drags on, the more we wait for weapons that don't come, the more it will become intolerable." '

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Image result for A Syrian solution to civil conflict? The Free Syrian Army is holding talks with Assad's senior staff

A Syrian solution to civil conflict? The Free Syrian Army is holding talks with Assad's senior staff

"And in areas of Homs province, it is a fact that fighting between the FSA and the army has virtually ceased. In some government-held villages and towns the FSA are already present without being molested."
I don't believe a word of what Robert Fisk writes about Syria.

Facing Calls for Diplomacy, Many Syrian
Rebels Reject Talks With Assad Regime

“God damn Geneva and all those who want to negotiate,” says Nusra al-Hamad, Hassan’s mother. “After all this blood, after all these burned hearts, there can be no reconciliation here. We sacrificed our lives for a free Syria, not for Bashar to stay.”

Monday, 30 September 2013

A neighborhood in Homs, Syria. Sept 24, 2013 
Thanks  @LensHomsi

A neighborhood in Homs, Syria. Sept 24, 2013 
"This poor soul was shot but not killed immediately. This is intentional. Assad’s forces know that others will try to come to his rescue. One man does so and is shot at, fortunately he escapes. The local FSA fighters try to get the man to grab a metal hook so they can drag him to safety, but the man is unable.
For 10 agonizing minutes, Assad’s forces take ‘pot-shots’ at the man. They shoot him in the legs, the arms and in his torso, all with the intended purpose of pain, but not death. However, finally, they shoot him in the head and kill him.
These are Assad’s men. This is what they do to us."
Razan Zeitoune, pictured above. (Facebook photo)

Talking to Razan Zeitoune

"What is special about Eastern Ghouta is that civil movements are still active in it. It is also one of the liberated regions with the lowest rate of security incidents... Opposition brigades here are operating cohesively, and the vast majority of fighters are natives of the liberated cities and villages, with few strangers (ISIS and others) up until now. 

In spite of all the mistakes made so far, Eastern Ghouta is the brightest example of the Syrian revolution. This is why we say ‘do not leave Ghouta to meet its face alone.’ "

The ‘free women of Syria’ camp
in Jordan with stories of horror

" “They [regime forces] would bring a bus to our village and fill it with men and then go,” she says. “They threw them in the bus like animals or goods, so I don’t know how many people. They arrested them and made them praise Assad like a god. And then they slaughtered them.” 

The manager of “Counterstrike Bisun” told me he was frustrated with the way his store had been reported in the media; a Russian journalist had reported such games meant “Syrians were training their children to become terrorists.”

Unsurprisingly, the refugees have strong opinions on international politics. A number of refugees dismissed the international community’s efforts as hot air. One woman described efforts by the United Nations to address the worsening conflict as “just words and paper”.
But there is optimism about the Free Syrian Army being able to overcome major organisational differences to form a government, if Assad was to fall. God willing, they said.
When I asked two of the women what fake names I should use, to protect their identity, they said to call them the “free women of Syria”. “Every day we pray for Syria. The whole world won’t help us, only god.” "

Using Women to Win in Syria

 "Some say that the first battalions were formed in May 2012, shortly after forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad massacred 108 civilians -- including 34 women and 49 children -- in the city of Homs. Other female brigades formed out of necessity soon after that. The Daughters of al-Walid, for instance, announced on YouTube that it arms and trains women to defend themselves. And self-defense is much needed: According to the International Rescue Committee, violence against women, especially rape, is the main motivation for flight among Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon -- more than shelling and air raids."

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Wonkbook: The Obama administration’s brilliant strategy to keep us out of Syria

(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

 "Privately, Hill aides joke that everything is going exactly to President Obama's plan. It's just that that plan is to stay far, far away from Syria.

 Boxed in by red-line rhetoric and the Sunday show warriors, the Obama administration needed to somehow mobilize the opposition to war in Syria. It did that by "fumbling" the roll-out terribly.
 Obama turned on a dime and decided to go to Congress at the last minute, making his administration look indecisive and fearful of shouldering the blame for this unpopular intervention, putting the decision in the hands of a body famous for being unable to make decisions, giving the argument for strikes more time to lose support, and giving an American public that opposes intervention in Syria more time and venues to be heard.

 And then, after all that, Obama goes to Congress with an absurdly broad force authorization -- so broad that it doesn't specify when it ends, or even really limit which countries can be hit. The force authorization offended even Obama's allies in Congress, left many questioning his motives, and has now been thrown out by the Senate. Members of Congress and their aides I've spoken to remain shocked that Obama chose to come to Congress and then handed them that document.

 The Obama administration's strategy to cool the country on this war without expressly backing away from the president's red lines has been brilliant, Hill aides say (just look at the polls showing overwhelming opposition!). If they are going to go to war, their efforts to goad Congress into writing a punitively narrow authorization of force that sharply limits any potential for escalation have worked beautifully."
A portrait of the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, burning during clashes between rebels and Syrian troops near Aleppo. Photo: Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty

Syria: empire and revolution
 - Russian introduction

Never read so much shit in such a short space.
"I argued, firstly, that although there was an internal dynamic to the Syrian revolution it was increasingly prey to imperialist intervention which was both corroding the revolutionary process and increasingly shaping the direction of events in the region. This argument was in response to those like British blogger Richard Seymour and others on the left who were arguing that ‘there is no reason at this moment to think that imperialist intervention is, or is going to be, the dominant axis determining the outcome and meaning of this process’.
Secondly, I argued that the socialists and anti-war activists primary duty was to confront the imperial goals of the political establishment in their own countries.
Thirdly, I argued that the opposition forces in Syria were not a monolithic bloc and that some of those forces were pro-imperialist.
The events of the last year have provided important confirmation of this analysis. Contrary to those who argued that the US and its allies were not going to attack Syria it became quite clear that the US, British and French governments were very serious about a military strike on Syria."
More importantly, it leaves Jonn Rees as a shill for the rulers of Russia.