Saturday, 1 February 2014

Dateline LondonAgnes Poirier: "In 24 hours the troops would be going."
This was supposed be what was happening over Syria in August, and it never happened.
I saw Sunny Hundal described as a "tenth-rate Polly Toynbee", on her level of ignorance displayed here, to belittle the Syrian opposition, that would be quite something.
"Just think how worse it would have been if the Brits and Americans had started bombing [which they weren't going to do, but hey they might have damaged Assad's military capability a bit]. As if that would have helped in any way. We certainly wouldn't have talks round the table, we certainly wouldn't have any question of the weapons disarmament [actually it was the threat of force that got both those things]. Who knows, really, if this is going to go anywhere; but we wouldn't even be here, and the extraordinary thing is the rather weak British opposition was the party that prevented us doing that." [Funny that. Almost as if Cameron wasn't actually trying to drag us into a war at all].
Gavin Esler: "People don't want to get involved in a foreign adventure with unforeseen consequences."
Polly Toynbee again: "Quite rightly, they look at the opposition; if it was a clear-cut rebellion against Assad and that was it, but when they see the extent to which they are all these warriors, there's a civil war going on within the anti-Assad camp, so who are we supporting, for what, and where does it come out? [You arm the Free Syrian Army, so they can defeat Assad and isolate the extremists, and it comes out smelling of roses. One of the other correspondents points out that Assad doesn't fight the extremists, and using them to blame the opposition helps Assad]. Do we know it will be better in the end? [It'll be worse the longer Assad is in power]. You can only intervene if you're clear you're going to make things better. [Anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons would stop Assad's attacks on civilians. Clearly better]. It's pretty clear to most people in Britain rightly, but not to Cameron, it would have made things worse."
Mina al-Oraibi: "Look at the conversation we're having here: we're scared of the radicals, we're scared of the terrorists, maybe Assad is better the devil you know; these kinds of conversations actually work to the benefit of the government, and they have been able to frame a large part of the narrative."
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Sunny Hundal wants UK in Syria
What Sunny Hundal actually wants is a no-fly-zone and the bombing of Assad's military capability. Found it via the circle-jerk among Indecent Leftists here*, who think that if anyone wants to help Syrians they are demanding Bomb Something, Preferably Syria, But Bomb Anything, and a catalogue of other nonsense to convince themselves they're doing a public service.

Friday, 31 January 2014

Aleppo Syria air strike

Syrian government accused of 'starve
or surrender' policy against civilians
Because it is a war of the Syrian government against those civilians.
The first comment engages in whatabouttery over US conduct in Iraq. Don't look here, look there! And then we get the claims that the rebels are forcing civilians to stay as human shields.

Yahya Hawwa, the Syrian voice of protest
Yahya Hawwa, the Syrian voice of protest
Hawwa stated that situation was terrible there but he was optimistic about the future of Syria noting,"I believe new generation of Syria will be able to rebuild Syria and to bring the justice and liberty for this country."

Rafif Jouejati
"Day 6 of the Geneva talks: On the agenda today are the subjects of violence and terrorism. The SOC delegation needs to stand firm in pointing the finger squarely at the regime for being the primary sponsor of terrorism in Syria. Assad's state terrorism includes barrel bombs, SCUD missiles, forced starvation, and detention and torture. I believe the SOC also needs to continue to condemn acts of terrorism perpetrated by non-regime groups. Violence and terrorism in Syria affect everybody, and perpetrators must be held accountable.

The media frenzy has died down a bit and the SOC has the huge task of preparing for the next round of talks, scheduled to begin 10 days from Friday after the last session. Since the Assad delegation has accepted the Geneva I Communique (first by attending, but also in word yesterday), the hard work really starts now. So does the transition.
Overall, the negotiating team has done a magnificent job of staying calm and cool while confronting the executioner. They have stayed on message, for the most part. Importantly, they have even been on time smile emoticon
I believe the long hours have paid off. The Opposition has come out strong, and has received huge public support from various revolutionary groups in Syria. But we cannot rely only on this particular success or become complacent. We all need to do more to help the Opposition, no matter where in the world we happen to be. Our help can be in the form of demonstrations, more messages of support, constructive feedback, etc.
We cannot be afraid of hard work or any inconvenience associated with what promises to be a long and difficult process. Consider this: Every time we feel tired we need to think of the prisoners who are not allowed to sleep, and the children whose sleep is interrupted by the sounds of artillery fire. Every time we get hungry we need to think of those who are starving to death while under the threat of SCUD missile attacks. And every time we complain about the bitter cold we need to think about the refugees and IDPs who do not have the option of seeking shelter. We do this because we believe in a Free Syria for all Syrians. We do this to honor our dead. And we do this because our people are ready to transition from one dictator to one nation for all citizens.
Long live Free Syria, long live our people."
Image result for Ake Sellstrom report has been overtaken by the disarmament process
Modern Warfare
GW: The case against the rebels using
chemical weapons is generally poor, with a variety of
unsubstantiated claims and
circumstantial evidence. Often clinical
signs and symptoms are missing. The
one exception to this seems to be Khan
Al Asal. What did you find that lifted it
out of the rest?
AS: Regarding the first issue [opposition
CWA attacks], I fully agree. Several times I asked the government: can you explain — if this was the opposition –– how did they get hold of the chemical weapons? They have quite poor theories: they talk about smuggling through Turkey, labs in Iraq and I asked them, pointedly, what about your own stores, have your own stores being stripped of anything, have you dropped a bomb that has been claimed, bombs that can be recovered by the opposition? They denied that.
To me it is strange. If they really want to blame the opposition they should have a good story as to how they got hold of the munitions, and they didn’t take the chance to deliver that story.
Even on Khan al-Asal, it is as feasible that the government thought it could fabricate evidence for that attack being by the opposition, just as they claimed to have footage showing the tunnels through which the rebels brought the chemicals used in the August attack. Via here*, where there is a shorter version.

Author of The Road From Damascus volunteers to help Syrian refugee children in southern Turkey

Author of The Road From Damascus volunteers to help Syrian refugee children in southern Turkey

Robin Yassin-Kassab

' “It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do little,” wrote 19th-century clergyman Sydney Smith. “Do what you can.” 
When you ask why they came to Turkey, they answer “because Bashaar kept on shelling us”, and then go into specifics.'

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Are Britons in Syria morally justified? Take our survey

Syrian rebel fighters (picture: Getty)

 Jon Snow: "If it was alright for Brits to fight in the Spanish Civil War, why isn't it alright for Muslims to go and fight in Syria?"

 On tonight's Channel 4 News.

The Man Syria’s Jihadists Want Dead

“The revolutionaries were originally peaceful protestors who had a clear vision of a civil Syrian state, but as the brutality of the Assad regime continued to increase, they had to pick up arms.” Subsequently, Fares said, foreign funds led to division among the previously united group of anti-Assad rebels. “The revolutionaries were no longer united on the single issue. You had the exile opposition and the internal opposition, and with all of these different groups, it became impossible for all of the components of the revolution to combat the well-funded and well-structured narrative that the regime was pushing.”

National Coalition Of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces

Image may contain: 7 people, people standing, shoes and child

"Dr. Rania Abbasi, a dentist, and Syria’s national chess champion was arrested, along with her husband and their five children (all five in the picture) on November 3rd, 2013. She remains with her husband and children in Assad's prisons with no hope of trial or due process. Her youngest child is no older than two. We demand the freedom of Dr. Rania, her family and every Syrian political prisoner. #EnoughwithAssad"
Image result for the michigan times
Voices From Syria

'On Jan. 24, 2014 Sawwan recounted her personal experience of the chemical weapons attack to over 100 attendees in a private home in Flushing, Mich. She described how after reading the news online, she ran to the local field hospital with her cousin, where they regularly volunteered, to see how they could help those affected by the deadly sarin gas. The room was silent as Sawwan described the screaming in the streets and the seizing, spasming bodies in the hospital.
“I couldn’t tell who was alive or dead,” Sawwan said. There was not enough Atropine, the treatment used to counter chemical gas exposure, to go around and most patients were only given CPR and cold water.'
Image result for Malnourished but defiant, Syrians under siege in Homs demand end to suffering

Malnourished but defiant, Syrians under
siege in Homs demand end to suffering
"I think that there is a lack of pressure from the international community on the barbaric regime. It is inhuman that they are fighting us over a loaf of bread. Cutting of water, electricity, and preventing any aid organization from entering. This situation reflects poorly on the international community to help these besieged areas."


Syria’s Polio Epidemic:
The Suppressed Truth

"This man-made outbreak is a consequence of the way that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has chosen to fight the war—a war crime of truly epidemic proportions. Even before the uprising, in areas considered politically unsympathetic like Deir Ezzor, the government stopped maintaining sanitation and safe-water services, and began withholding routine immunizations for preventable childhood diseases. Once the war began, the government started ruthless attacks on civilians in opposition-held areas, forcing millions to seek refuge in filthy, crowded, and cold conditions. Compounding the problem are Assad’s ongoing attacks on doctors and the health care system, his besieging of cities, his obstruction of humanitarian aid, and his channeling of vaccines and other relief to pro-regime territory."

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

An injured Syrian smokes a cigarette as a doctor plays chess with a patient at the government hospital in Al Ramtha, Jordan

Syria: The Assads Twilight

Unfortunately lacking English subtitles.
Bashar al-Assad tells a French TV audience about his calling as a doctor. "You work for the health of humans. It's a humanitarian job," Two years later, the world would watch as this humanitarian sent black-clad troops to open fire on unarmed protesters seeking the fall of his regime.
During the 1970s, Bashar's father, Hafez al-Assad, turned Syria into one of the world's most secretive and repressive dictatorships. But Bashar was supposed to be different. A doctor who had lived in London, he vowed to fight corruption and embrace globalization in his inaugural address as president. He was supposed to be a modern, liberal leader.
Just over a decade later, the Assad regime is reeling. It has been responsible for the deaths of thousands of its citizens—protesters no longer willing to accept repression and insisting on the same freedoms that other nations have gained through the revolutions of the 2011 Arab spring.
SYRIA: THE ASSADS' TWILIGHT is a history of the Assad regime, from its origins to its teetering, possibly final days in 2011.
The Assads have been nothing if not survivors. In 1982, Hafez ruthlessly crushed an uprising by the Muslim Brotherhood (the film shows us rare photos of property damage during the battles—the only record of an otherwise invisible massacre by security forces). In contrast, soon after coming to power in 2000, Bashar ushered in the Damascus Spring—a flowering of dissent and openness. But when it seemed to threaten his rule, he banned all opposition and tightened his family's grip on the reins of wealth and power.
SYRIA: THE ASSADS' TWILIGHT, recounts the history of the regime and the region—including the tortured and troubled history of Syrian involvement in Lebanon. The film uses archival footage, as well as the testimony and analysis of members of the US and Israeli security establishment, key politicians, dissidents (among them members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood) and political scientists.
What emerges is a picture of a regime that has been at the centre of Middle East politics for two generations—but is now on the verge of being swept away, along with other corrupt dictatorships in the region.
As exiled dissident Abdel Hamid Atassi says, "Bashar cannot repress dissent in the Internet era... Hafez could throw people in prison for 20 years, and nobody knew about it. That's impossible today."

How Western rationalist philosophy is
killing off the prospects of peace in Syria
"Bashani closed his inspiring speech with an example from chess, which he sees as ‘an essentially genocidal form of play designed to perpetuate binary oppositions.’ He argued that it is possible for chess pieces to move freely along the board while avoiding the other pieces, this creating a perpetual state of motion that doesn’t require winners and losers. In fact, he argued that eventually chess pieces will acquire autonomous agency if we didn’t insist on anthropomorphic control. If only the rest of the world can see the wisdom in those words, peace would be within our reach."

Rafif Jouejati
"Day 5 of the Geneva talks: the Syrian Opposition Coalition (SOC) presented to the Assad delegation a vision document calling for a free, democratic Syria. The regime's response: a tirade against the United States and the West in general. This was to be expected, of course, and Bashar Jaafari, the regime's chief negotiator, has been using all the stall tactics at his disposal.

There was much ado about the fact that yesterday there was only one session in the morning. A couple of things to note: first, Lakhdar Brahimi and his team set the age day; and second, I'm sure that when one delegation goes off on a tirade, the chief negotiator will most likely put that delegation in a time-out. You can draw your own conclusions.
Today's talks are supposed to be about going back to the basis of these negotiations: the Geneva 1 Communique, which clearly calls for a transition of power. The issue of Homs is still unresolved, as expected.
Regardless of how the talks go today, or tomorrow, or Friday, we have to recognize that this will be a long process. The dictatorship built over more than four decades will come tumbling down because of one meeting in Geneva. But I truly believe that this is a first step. We are highlighting, every day, the fact that the regime continues to bombard civilian areas despite these talks. Nobody from our side has forgotten those who are suffering.
I'm re-issuing the call for solidarity among members and friends of the Syrian community, particularly in the US. Perhaps we can convene a meeting of the formal organizations and independent activists to agree on a strategy going forward. We all need each other, and as I've said in the past, we don't have to love each other to work together. We have a common goal and a common enemy, so let's join hands and make something positive happen.
Long live Free Syria, long live our people.
** all comments, for and against, are welcome but please maintain professionalism and respect. **"

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Image result for Former resident Focus Of Film martinsville Bulletin
Former resident focus of film

"A documentary that was two years in the making celebrates the life — and recalls the sacrifice — of a former Henry County student.
It also represented a gift for at least one family member.
Muhannad Bensadik was 21 when he died in Bishir, Libya, in March 2011 while fighting against Muammar Gadhafi.
A documentary on his life, “We Are The Giant,” premiered earlier this month at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, according to Osama Bensadik, who attended the premiere in Utah as an invited guest to see the three-part documentary. It was two years in the making and details Muhannad Bensadik’s sacrifice in the first segment. Parts two and three focus on activists in Syria and Bahrain, respectively, Osama Bensadik said.
It “tells the stories of ordinary individuals who are transformed by the moral and personal challenges they encounter when standing up for what they believe is right. Powerful and tragic, yet inspirational, their struggles for freedom echo across history and offer hope against seemingly impossible odds,” according to online information from Sundance."
Lakhdar Brahimi and other UN officials arrive at negotiations in Geneva, Switzerland (Jean-Marc Ferré | UN Geneva)

Behind a "diplomatic solution" in Syria

"Our task now is greater support for the revolution, not efforts to force it into submission or surrender. It's not our business to pressure revolutionaries to go to the table; our job is to support them materially and politically against all forms of counterrevolution, domestic or foreign."
Well said, Andrew Pollack. I disagree with some of his formulations, Saudi Arabia and the US are poor friends to the revolution, but are not the current enemy to Syrians in the way the Russians are right now, just the Americans weren't in Hungary in 1956 or the Russians in Nicaragua in 1979; but he's got the primacy of supporting the struggle against Assad right, and that's the most important thing.