Saturday, 25 January 2014

Image result for sputnik Episode 011

Episode 011Sami Ramadani is contemptible. The pictures of torture are a Qatari plot to derail the peace talks, the armed opposition are terrorists who want to repress women, the peaceful opposition is patriotic and represents most Syrians and rejects the armed opposition. Some of the foreign fighters are mercenaries. If the funding for the FSA stops, then the al-Qaida linked groups can be isolated. None of these things are true, or even close to being true.

From Syrian prisons to diplomacy in Geneva"The revolutionary work is fast paced. It is the gate to achieving the impossible. Political work, however, is a slow process and it only moves within the sphere of the possible," al-Ameer said. "This is why so many activists on the ground are frustrated with the Coalition. They are expecting it to move as fast as they do, and this is understandable."

Go Now

 "There should be no selectivity," says Bashar Jaafari, the Syrian representative at the UN, "we should talk about everything."

 What about Assad going?

 "It's too early to talk about that."

The Onion

Obama Not Ruling Out U.S.
Military Action In Congress

Come back in six months and we'll see if this was a smokescreen to cover Obama not doing anything. If you keep repeating that a revolution can't happen, there will be some sort of military intervention of the worst kind in the end when there seems to be no other alternative.
“Our efforts at resolving this conflict through conventional, non-military means have not only failed but seemingly emboldened extremists in the region,” said Obama, noting that while the United States does have some allies on the ground within the Senate, the administration has been almost completely cut off from the House for some time. “Right now there are millions of people who are hopelessly trapped under Congress’ corrupt rule, and it’s doubtful we’ll see any kind of progress in the area without either military intervention or a full-scale revolution, which is unlikely.”

Friday, 24 January 2014

Image result for McCain and Pushkov clash over Syria

McCain and Pushkov clash over Syria

John McCain: "The fact is that Russian equipment is flying in. And now we are getting rid of the chemical weapons, while Bashar Assad is dropping these crude cluster bombs, which kill people indiscriminately; and I don't think a mother knows the difference between their child dying because of a chemical weapon, or because of one of these horrible cluster bombs...I would urge anyone in this audience to go to one of the refugee camps, and Bashar Assad's defectors will tell you; they are told to rape and murder and torture. And you can even meet a group of young women who have been gang-raped by these people, and now we have the pictures and photos of 11,000 people who were tortured and murdered. If that isn't war crimes, I have never seen war crimes."
If those aren't war crimes.
A cyclist, who was in his 20s, was taken to hospital by ambulance following the collision.

Police on hunt for hit-and-run driver who leaves cyclist in middle of road in Dalston
I do mean to put together a Parable of the Cyclist at some point. Car drivers do have their own long and boring culture, but letting them rule the road at the expense of cyclists is no way to bring peace.

A Syrian woman cries holding her injured son in a taxi as they arrive at a hospital in northern city of Aleppo

Stop the crocodile tears.
We didn't care about Syria
Red lines get crossed over and over, and still the priority is to stop Obama invading Syria. And that Dangerous Dan Hodges. At least the comments here aren't as wacky as on many Telegraph blogs, but there are quite a number of If You Want A War In Syria, Why Don't You Go Fight It Yourself? which gets to be tiresome after a while.
"Last year the world had an opportunity to send a signal to the Assad regime. Actually, the world had the opportunity to send a signal to itself.
Faced with evidence the Syrian government had been using chemical weapons on its own citizens – effectively choking its own children to death in their beds – we had the chance to take a stand. Not a chance to halt the slaughter overnight, or topple the Assad regime. But to put down a marker that said “You are on notice. We will not simply walk by on the other side. Remember, though the mills of justice grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small.” "

The Daily Star

Give Syria’s dead a chance to speak out

"President Barack Obama described the Syrian conflict as “someone else’s civil war,” this at a time when the savagery of Assad’s security services was well established, amid evidence that his regime had ordered the murder and torture of tens of thousands of people.
Assad’s forces have behaved like beasts because there has been wide latitude for them to do so, without any penalty. Yet rarely have the horrors of war been made so available, through thousands of videos taken by citizen journalists and activists. However, outrage has been muted. Syrians are entitled to wonder why they count for less than citizens of the former Yugoslavia, or of Libya, who benefited from Western military intervention to avert a massacre in Benghazi."
Of course some people are doing the important task of preventing Cameron and Obama dragging us into another war.

We Are The Giant

"But, like Nelson Mandela learned in his ANC days, there comes a point where the violence the state uses to squelch any peaceful anti-government protests comes at the cost of death and the remaining options become either letting the government win or taking up arms and defending the cause."
SF Bay Area IndymediaSF Bay Area IndymediaSF Bay Area Indymediaindymedia
Malicious Syria Bashing: Part III've just seen a couple of stupid comments from people who think they are anti-war. Here's Flying Rodent:
'After all this time, the cry "We Must Help The Syrians" somehow still contains highly misleading definitions of "We", "Help" & "Syrians".
"We" seems to mean "The US military"; "Help" sounds like "Kill lots of" & "Syrians" = "Syrian people who are not currently dying in droves".'
It is the arrogance of FR and his friends to think that the conflict in Syria is like that because they say so. There also one of his mates talking about "dropping 1000lb bombs" and he talks about the Times leader writer taking a break from bayoneting Alawites. I assume the last is supposed to be a joke, but given how out of touch FR and his fellows have become in their insistence that Syria is Iraq Mark II, I'm not sure.
And then Stephen Lendman. The answers are, he isn't and they aren't.
'"Syria's Assad accused of boosting al-Qaeda with secret oil deals." Western intelligence supplied fake evidence.
It's farcical on its face. Why would Assad conspire with terrorists he's going all out to eliminate? Why would they work with a government they're committed to topple? '

Worldview: Syria talks
headed for failure

'Under siege, he said, Syrians tolerated various shades of Islamist militias - more mainstream or even extreme hard-liners - because they arrived with money, guns, and good organization. When the West failed to provide aid to non-Islamist militias, those defending their villages against regime soldiers had few choices.
"People needed guns and that's where the Islamists came in," said Hadad. "When people have no hope, the thing you believe in, the only thing you have left, is faith." '

Wednesday, 22 January 2014


Marcel Mettelsiefen's 'Children on the Frontline' to air on Channel 4‘Children on the Frontline’ will air on Channel 4 on Wednesday 22 January at 10pm.

Image result for Syria report: One is reminded of Nazi Germany

Syria report: One is reminded
 of Nazi Germany
Fisk is a wanker. This report that shows what the Syrian government does is like when the Nazis were accused of a Soviet massacre.

Image result for Moment of truth for Syria, but Iran left in the cold by UN - and now Assad says he may stand in this year's presidential election

Moment of truth for Syria, but Iran left in the cold by UN - and now Assad says he may stand in this year's presidential election

 "Critics argue that holding a peace conference with some main regional players, such as Saudi Arabia, but not others, like Iran, is unrealistic and would limit chances of achieving peace."
Critics, supporters of Assad, and Patrick Cockburn, are not necessarily the same thing.
"A further incentive for Turkey and others - such as state and private donors supporting rebels in the Gulf - to think about bringing an end to the conflict is the apparent success of Isis in counter-attacking other rebel groups that seemed to be making headway against it a fortnight ago."
No suggestion that the conflict could be brought to an end by Russia and Iran ceasing to support Assad. And the clearance of ISIS from most of Syria is a non-story for Cockburn.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

A Free Syrian Army fighter in the old city of Aleppo

Can evidence of mass killings in Syria end the inertia? Only with Putin's helpThinkerX55: "This is all about gas pipelines isn't it ?"
I think Freedland is wrong, the US may use this to weaken Putin's position, but they don't want to own the problem, and a bit of faux outrage isn't going to convince the Russians that their interests have changed. Fawaz Gerges was making a similar case case on the BBC News earlier. Because nobody can solve the military stalemate (I think Paul Wood, who has done some good reporting, earlier claimed that Assad is winning), we need to concentrate on humanitarian relief. But it is the attacks on civilians that have been central to Assad's prosecution of the war. Gerges said that inspectors should be sent into Syrian detention centres as a priority, how does he think that's going to happen? By asking the Iranians, who he very much regrets have been excluded from Geneva? Do me a favour.
As it happens the rebels are doing very well at the moment in the Damascus region. {…/syria-details-of-daray…/]

Syrian boy Rayyan Nasser makes a peace sign at Zaatari refugee camp in Mafraq, Jordan

Syrian refugees on Geneva II: 'I have
 learnt that politics has no principles'

I don't believe their poll figures, which also suggest think that Assad stepping down is in the top three priorities of only one in a hundred Syrian refugees. I'm reminded of the polls that show that most Palestinians would prefer a two-state solution and give up 78% of Palestine. 5 out of 9 of the refugees interviewed here mention it, and it appears to be about 100% in Zaatari, the biggest refugee camp in the world, as well as in other camps friends have visited. I think the truth is that Syrians overwhelmingly want Assad to go, but the media has many ways of not telling that story.

Image result for Syrian-American activist Amal Kassir uses slam poetry to fuel her cause

Syrian-American activist Amal Kassir
uses slam poetry to fuel her cause
I'm not going to listen to this, because I hate poetry.
"Syria is my home, I know what it is. But America gave me the ability to see things that I would not have otherwise been able to see in Syria, and I am a voice of the revolution, because the United States gave me a stage and gave me the opportunity."

Difficult times for the Syrian revolution, but people continue to fight

Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad

 Misleading article by Judith Orr from the first sentence. The Syrian National Council does not have the same base and beliefs as "Western politicians" (whoever they are), the SNC because they exist to negotiate were always likely to find pressure to attend Geneva, but are still adamant that they go to bury Assad, not to praise him.

 Much of the article is taking up with quotes from Joseph Daher, who is a Syrian revolutionary socialist. I disagree with many of his formulations. Moreover, I think he is used as excuse for politics that fails to show solidarity with the broader Syrian revolution by some on the British far left, from the criticism of armed groups taking a lack of need to delineate the difference between them and Assad. I think my differences with what he says are clear if not so great in the overall scheme of things, so I'll go through them. 

 "Geneva is a big threat to the revolution."
I'm not sure about this. Acceptance of the Geneva process disarming the revolution would be, but given the rejection inside Syria of Geneva, not so much.

 "The National Council has zero influence with people on the ground. "
I don't see any alternative national body, other than the Islamic Front, arising in their place, so I think there is a lot of passive acceptance of their role if there is to be any negotiating, which doesn't mean they could enforce any deal if they did sell out. Which is one reason they aren't likely to overdo it.

 “None of these forces want the revolution to deepen or be victorious.”
I don't think the latter part is true. They may not want the same revolution as you right now, and I think it is important for revolutionary socialists to deal with what is not what ought to be, but they want Assad and his régime of murder and torture to go. That is the main dividing line in Syria right now, and for now they are on the right side.

 'Joseph explained that most Western leaders would like to move Assad out.
But they want to install “a Yemeni-style solution, where all the structures of the regime kept in place”.'
I think this may well not be true. Overthrowing régimes outside their sphere of influence is difficult and expensive in a number of ways, and so better to keep Assad in power, either because it costs the Russians in power and prestige, or because they want him to fight al-Qaida[sic].

 And then I read the rest and couldn't find much to disagree with. There is an interesting omission about the slogan , “The solution is not in Geneva but in the Hague”, which shows that ,many activists want the world to treat Assad as the war criminal he is, and get rid of him or give Syrians the means to do so. This is at odds who want to see the West and the Gulf states as as much a threat to Syrians as Assad and his foreign allies, a view which is foreign to the experience of many Syrians.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Image result for EXCLUSIVE: Gruesome Syria photos may prove torture by Assad regime

EXCLUSIVE: Gruesome Syria photos
may prove torture by Assad regime
Lindsey Hilsum was just telling Jon Snow on Channel 4 News that this will make preparations for the Geneva talks "even more fraught". And this seems to be the problem, that we are told that there are only two choices, Do Something in the form of a US-led invasion, or hope the international community can actively cajole Syrians into putting up with this shit a minute longer. It's a false choice, that denies agency to Syrians.

Peace possible in Syria as political landscape changes

Image result for Peace possible in Syria as political landscape changes

"The US and the Europeans now genuinely want to end the war, something they have claimed to want since 2011 but which – for all their lamentations – always sounded somewhat hypocritical. Put another way, they wanted the war to end but only if Assad was overthrown or stepped down."
They never wanted to make him step down, just make it appear that they were making some sort of protest. And equating genuine peacemaking with keeping Assad in power is what Patrick Cockburn, the Stop The War Coalition(who reprint this praise of imperialism), and much of the media and political groups of various persuasions do these days.

"It was reportedly Jabhat al-Nusra and members of the Islamic Front who, in December, massacred 32 Alawites, Christians, Druze and Ismailis in the town of Adra, to the north-east of Damascus."
Or Russia Today made the whole thing up.