Saturday, 14 December 2013

What Orwell can tell us about Syria

George Orwell

"Given his willingness to take shots at fellow leftists, his fanatical anti-totalitarianism, and his consistency in correctly identifying the lesser of two evils, one finds it difficult to imagine without laughter Orwell joining the sordid collection of Stalinists and “anti-imperialists” who make up the “Stop the War Coalition.” (While millions of Syrians are bombed, starving, tortured, imprisoned, and displaced, this “anti-imperialist” rabble is busy dislocating its collective shoulder to pat itself on the back for having “stopped the war.”) It somehow seems unlikely that the man who could have been describing Syria under the Assads in Nineteen-Eighty-Four would support the continued existence of such a psychopathic crime family simply because they give lip-service to anti-Zionism."

 Kenan Rahmani

 "The failure of Americans & the US government to understand the Middle East never ends. Yesterday I was held by Customs and Border Protection in Cincinnati for questioning and searches. I explained that I provide humanitarian relief to Syrian refugees.
Here is the most important part:

 Officer: "You've been questioned by CBP before, right sir?"
 Me: "Yes, sir."
 Officer: "You know why we need to talk to you?"
 Me: "Because a lot of people are fighting in Syria and you want to collect information and make sure I am not a threat."
 Officer: "It's because there are a lot of Muslim extremists and jihadists fighting and taking over northern Syria and a lot of the refugees are being converted to jihad."
 Me: "Refugees being converted to jihad? First time I ever heard of that. I thought that they were fighting the brutal Assad dictatorship that was killing them and their families."
 Officer: "No sir, these jihadists, they are the biggest threat to the USA so we need to make sure that the refugees you work with don't have connections to them."

 After this I proceeded to show and explain many of the projects we did with the young refugee kids in Reyhanli. But we need to confront the reality that Islamophobia in the West and the "Fox News perspective" on jihad are going to make it very difficult for us to have productive Middle Eastern foreign policy. It is necessary that the current generation of Muslim Americans understand their role here as Americans in changing the current reality."
Image result for sputnik Episode 005

Episode 005Patrick Cockburn was just explaining how Saudi Arabia is funding fundamentalist Sunnis in Syria, having "taken over the file" from Qatar, that are supposed to be opposed to Assad, and to al-Qaida, while having elements with links to al-Qaida.
George Galloway tells us that the war in Syria has turned decisively against al-Qaida.
Obviously, all this is untrue, and insults Syrians.

Article illustrative image

In Syria, Hunger And Humiliation

 Weapons Of Mass Destruction
"Syrians will not be reduced to animals. They want to live in freedom and dignity. These are simple wishes. Why should they not be possible?"

Syria: new chemical revelations;
 aid cut to rebels

"It's funny how the growing role of jihadists in the Syrian revolution is invoked as an argument against supporting the rebels, when failure to arm the rebels is exactly what allowed the jihadists to fill the vacuum."

Friday, 13 December 2013

Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah (L), Saudi Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud (C) and Qatari Emir Shiekh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani

Arab Spring: 10 unpredicted outcomes"America is struggling with problematic relationships with rebels in Syria."
Not really, it offered rhetorical support, and shits on them. That is a problem, not problematic.
"Shia Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia are now effectively fighting a proxy war in Syria."
No, there is a democratic rising against a sectarian supported tyrant who has always made out, with the help of much of the world's media, that the rebels have only sectarian motives to remove his murderous régime. The The Iranians have been offering thousands of troops in support of the massacres of Sunni civilians, the Saudis have offered limited support to the freedom fighters, limited enough that they can be outstripped by the privately-financed al-Qaida linked brigades.
They might also mention in 8. how sexual violence has been used by the Assad régime as a weapon of war.


Islamist Wave Is Driving
Out Syria's Revolutionaries

"When the liberation happened, it was like a release -- we felt we were released," al-Abdo said recently. "The whole countryside of the north, from Homs to Aleppo to Bab al Hawa, I felt that it was mine."
"I was unable to write about the abduction, or how the FSA had managed to win his freedom – a story that would have made good propaganda for the secular branch of the armed opposition."
"We will not forget the regime -- they created ISIS. They made them possible."

The good guys have lost in Syria –
only the bad guys are left fighting
"This rebel-on-rebel fratricidal orgy sums up so much that has gone wrong with Syria’s revolution."
The exaggeration of rebel differences in this sentence sumps up so much that has gone wrong with the reporting of Syria's revolution. It's not the worst report, though it contains other common distortions, such as the idea that moderate rebels would attend peace talks with Assad, and that the régime is just winning military victories.

10 actions the “International Community”
should urgently take to help Syrian refugees
Forcing millions to flee is an integral part of Assad's war strategy. When Jeremy Bowen tells BBC viewers, "as long as this war goes on", he should really say, as long as the régime's bombing of civilians continues. It could be stopped with anti-aircraft weapons, but the international community has been more concerned with stopping jihadists going to fight Assad.
It is Russian and Iranian intervention that has prolonged about the crisis. The world should have been campaigning against that, not against the fantasy that the non-existent Western support for the rebels was the problem. Demanding that Syrians be allowed the means to defend themselves is still the right course. If the crisis continues with Syrians still disempowered, it will be al-Qaida and the USAF that intervene when things get even worse.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Article Picture

The Syrian War and “Sectarianism”

"When we insist in light of these facts that Syria’s conflict is not sectarian, we don’t mean to suggest that the religious hatred seen in Syria today is somehow just a myth. Instead, we are arguing that sectarian violence should be seen as the result of these specific political and economic developments, rather than their cause—something that we would instinctively recognize when thinking about parallel issues in our own country."

Rethinking Syria (in a Big Way); Assad's Gotta Stay

 "No analogies are perfect, especially one that compares 1930's Catholic Spain to today's Muslim Syria. But as the Spanish civil war developed, the Republicans increasingly received most of their materiel from the Soviet Union; it's not inconceivable that a Republican victory would have ended with a communist take-over in Madrid. Certainly, it's better Franco won than that a major European country, on the cusp of World War II, would have had a communist government."

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Mass murder in the Middle East is funded by our friends the Saudis

Image result for Mass murder in the Middle East is funded by our friends the Saudis

"Saudi Arabia as a government for a long time took a back seat to Qatar in funding rebels in Syria, and it is only since this summer that they have taken over the file. They wish to marginalise the al-Qa'ida franchisees such as Isil and the al-Nusra Front while buying up and arming enough Sunni war-bands to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad."
Which contradicts the rest of the article. It is not the Saudi government, still less the Qataris, that are arming al-Qaida; it is the failure of arms to get through in sufficient quantities to the FSA that has allowed the al-Qaida linked groups to fill the gap.
"Pakistani papers no longer pay much attention to hundreds of Shia butchered from Quetta to Lahore."
Patrick Cockburn doesn't pay much attention to the thousands of Syrians butchered by Assad's forces from Deraa to Deir ez-Zor. A number of commenters on this piece at the Independent site choose to dispute his acknowledgement of Assad's chemical attack in August instead.

Syrian President Bashar Assad during a meeting with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the presidency in Tehran, on Aug. 19, 2009.

To Syria’s Revolutionaries, Assad
Isn’t Looking So Bad After All
'Even as ISIS forced her into exile, Nawfal says she will never compromise with the regime to defeat them. “You don’t fight injustice with even bigger injustice.” '
The headline, "To Syria’s Revolutionaries, Assad Isn’t Looking So Bad After All", is contradicted by the prime interviewee. Compromising with Assad, not giving the secular rebels the means to overthrow him; that is what has led to the growth of the al-Qaida linked groups.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Purple People Eater

 Robin Yassin-Kassab:

 "Among the children's chosen heroes in my storytelling workshop were Robin Hood, Batman, my brother the martyr, my father the martyr, and Sponge Bob. Among the problems to be solved were a dinosaur eating people, a car hitting a pedestrian, my house being shelled, and my cousin stuck in prison."

Sunday, 8 December 2013

LRB Cover

Whose sarin?

"The complaints focus on what Washington did not have: any advance warning from the assumed source of the attack."
Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. This was true when Bush and Blair told us the lack of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq meant they must have been hidden. Now it can be applied to Seymour Hersh's genocide denial.
Hersh bases his case on a couple of further propositions. That the al-Nusra front is a suspect in previous attacks. There is no evidence for this, except for some guy called Tariq who knows how to make mustard gas having been seen in Damascus. That the munitions could as easily have been fired by opposition forces. Apart from the improbability of any rebel forces hiding this from the population that are fighting on behalf of, the technical details are dealt with by the Brown Moses Blog*.
"An unforeseen reaction came in the form of complaints from the Free Syrian Army’s leadership and others about the lack of warning." So if there was some plot [sic], the FSA weren't in on it. 'Unforeseen' seems to mean, 'doesn't fit Hersh's narrative. He then implies that the figures for the dead are all over the place, deprecating 'The strikingly precise US total'. This is an administration that he's claiming knows every time a jar of chemicals moves in Syria, but can't work out how many people are killed in a documented attack? No.
"The Obama administration, committed to the end of the Assad regime and continued support for the rebels," is contradicted by, "Obama turned quickly to the UN and the Russian proposal for dismantling the Syrian chemical warfare complex."

How the USA Lost Its Syrian Allies'The Obama administration’s stance is increasingly more aligned with the Assad regime and its allies than with the opposition.
“Rightly or wrongly, the administration’ view the jihadist opposition as the real enemy. What they would like is for the U.S.-backed centrists and moderates to work with the regime against the real extremists. The Iranians would like to see that as well,” said Jim Hooper, a former U.S. diplomat in Damascus.
The Obama administration’s push for a diplomatic agreement now, at the moment of the opposition’ greatest weakness, was not necessarily in the opposition’s best interest, and they know it.
“For the opposition it’s a trap. They cannot win,” he said. “You cannot recover at the negotiating table what you’ve lost at the battlefield.” '