Saturday, 12 April 2014

Image result for Robert Fisk: Has Recep Tayyip Erdogan gone from model Middle East 'strongman' to tin-pot dictator?

Robert Fisk: Has Recep Tayyip Erdogan gone from model Middle East 'strongman' to tin-pot dictator?
"That most controversial of American investigative journalists, Seymour Hersh - I confess he is an old mate of mine even though he often uses my most hated phrase, anonymous "officials" and "experts", as his sources - has now published his own disturbing and compelling research on the use of chemicals in Syria and points the finger at Turkey for allowing rebels to use sarin in an earlier chemical attack against the Syrian village of Khan al-Assal."

There was no research into the chemicals, just interviews with the likes of the spook who told us Saddam was behind 9/11, and Hersh now claims that the eastern Ghouta attack in August that killed 1500 was by rebels, not just the earlier one. Needless to say, all the other paragraphs in Fisk's piece contain similar untruths.I thought a long while ago that whether to support the Syrian revolution would be a defining question for the future of the left for the next generation, but I didn't imagine there would be those who would disgrace themselves with the denial of atrocities taking place before our eyes.

Image result for purple gas mask

White LinesThere are no red lines any more. If there ever were.
'The Syrian National Coalition, the Western-backed opposition group, said the poison gas attack hurt dozens of people.
Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights which gathers data on the conflict from activists inside Syria, said: "Regime planes bombed Kafr Zita with explosive barrels that produced thick smoke and odours and led to cases of suffocation and poisoning." '

Save Aleppo

"One of the oldest continuously cities in the world, Aleppo has fallen victim to the worst destruction of any major city in the world since 1945." 
A bit graphic.
"Damn him [Assad], just yesterday my husband was killed."

Friday, 11 April 2014

Enduring the near-daily bombings in Aleppo
IN SYRIA, RESIDENTS OF ALEPPO BECOME INURED TO AIR RAIDS"We don't take the warplanes seriously anymore," Laila said. "They launch rockets that are precise, but helicopters drop barrel bombs that can destroy dozens of homes with one barrel."

Miliband and the loneliness of a Jewish diaspora politician

Image result for Miliband and the loneliness of a Jewish diaspora politician

 Fucking hypocrite. I've just seen him telling Nick Robinson that he stopped "the drive to war in Syria", hedged around his brother's estimation that Syria is the"defining collective failure of this century so far", and told us that military intervention was not the answer, conflating the vague threats that a few missiles might drop where they wouldn't hurt anyone with a rerun of Iraq. Instead he would rather threaten war with Iran.

 'When asked about Iran, Miliband, who successfully opposed in parliament the government’s plan a retaliatory strike on Syria following the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons says “We never rule out any options” and that we “have no illusions about the (Iranian) regime, we shouldn’t take on trust what they say.”'

 The report also said that the Israeli kids he visited within range of missiles to Gaza were only safe because of the reinforced roof. I did think that one thing that makes them a thousand times safer is not being Palestinian children living in Gaza, but I don't really want to get into the politics of Israel too much.

Syrian activists report new
Assad poison attack

I do mean to analyse the place of sarin in political thinking at another time, but thankfully this seems to be something less fatal. Still, how long can this go on, etc.
'The London Times Friday cited British officials as saying that they were “aware of multiple allegations” of poison gas attacks against opposition forces on the outskirts of the capital.
The Times reported that the regime this time may have been using "toxic industrial substances" to frighten rebels in a way that does not trigger a wide international outcry.
This week an Israeli defense official said Assad had used chemical weapons again around the capital at the end of March. The Times of Israel reported that "the nonlethal agents were used to incapacitate opposition fighters." '

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Image result for AMV Reflections samurai x goodbye blue skies pink floyd

goodbye blue skies pink floyd
"Anti-tank missiles are important for the rebels because they allow them to fend off the sophisticated tanks of the regime. But they could also signify a more serious shift. TOW missiles require training to operate, which may mean that the US, which has been holding back from supplying the weapons the rebels need to tip the conflict in their favour, may be reconsidering. If that assumption is correct, the US may also be considering supplying shoulder-launched surface-to-air m
issiles to the rebels. That would allow them to counter the regime’s greatest strength, the airforce. That, if it happened, would be a decisive change.
Now in its fourth year, the conflict has devastated Syria and made refugees of a third of the country. Yet the resolve of the rebels appears unbroken. Mr Nasrallah is fooling himself if he thinks they are on the run.

Is Kingston University, London Becoming a McCarthyite Institution?

 Marko Attila Hoare wrote a good piece in the Guardian on Syria, which Indecent leftists then chuckled over with a "Look Who Wants To Bomb Another Middle Eastern Country", and to describe Kingston as a McCarthyite institution for letting MAH say that he is an academic there is over the top, but I'm not convinced by MAH's assertion that being opposed to the NATO actions in the former Yugoslavia is to be an apologist for Serbian expansionism. I see that David Gibbs had a reply to the accusations at Louis N. Proyect's blog.*

Noam Chomsky in the Crimea

Noam Chomsky. Photo: SASCHA SCHUERMANN/AFP/Getty Images

Nick Cohen is still a shithead. I found this on the website of somebody who, like Cohen, spends their time heaping abuse on the Left, while pretending to be the authentic Left themselves.
What Cohen does here is take a caricatured version of Chomsky's belief that opposes the excesses of Western governments is his primary focus, and say that because that caricature could be used to justify what Russia has done in Ukraine or Assad in Syria, that is what Chomsky is about. Cohen doesn't reference Chomsky's actual views on either conflict. I don't know what he says about Ukraine, but he's certainly not said, "the mass murder in Syria can be dumped in the file marked ‘the atrocities of someone else,’ and forgotten."
It is easy to go along with what people like Cohen say about the betrayal of the Left over Syria, but it never helps to go along with garbage, and lets those who spout rubbish about Syria off the hook, smug in the knowledge that Decent Leftists like Cohen are still the apologists for Western crimes like Iraq that they ever were. is marked private by its owner
Amjad Baiazy
I have written to the Turkish Embassy Press Office yesterday explaining to them the false accusations brought against them by the LRB and asked them to sue LRB and Seymoure Hersh for waging propaganda against the Turkish state.

I received the following reply:
Thank you very much for your email and your advise. We are now aware of the issue and we are working on it. The relevant person in the Embassy is involved as well.
Thanks to Robin Yassin-Kassab for highlighting this!

The Assad Regime, Sarin and the Facts"After completing its report three weeks later, the UN Report released on September 16 confirmed the use of Sarin gas in Ghouta, saying that it "collected clear and convincing evidence that surface-to-surface rockets containing the nerve agent Sarin were used… in the Ghouta area of Damascus."
Another UN Report released on February 12, 2014 noted that all evidence regarding the August 21 attack "indicated that the perpetrators likely had access to the chemical weapons stockpile of the Syrian military, as well as the expertise and equipment necessary". The inspectors on the ground also identified the surface-to-surface rockets as 140mm BM-14 rockets, which were manufactured in Russia and 330mm rockets manufactured probably by the Syrian army."

The UN said there

Whose Sarin?

“The Hersh story belies common sense and suggests that Turkey was able to manufacture a ton of sarin - no easy feat - and then smuggle that sarin into Syria,” Aaron Stein, an Associate Fellow at RUSI and the nonproliferation program manager at the Center for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies in Istanbul, told Islamist Gate.
“That Sarin is then loaded into volcano rockets that were fired from government controlled areas towards rebel positions. As Dan Kaszeta [security and CBRN specialist] has pointed out, there are close correlations in chemistry (such as hexamine, a possible sarin additive) between the trace evidence found in the field and the inventories disclosed by the OPCW [the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons]".
Stein added that therefore “Hersh’s article is at odds with science and common sense and suggests a deeper misunderstanding of Ankara’s Syria policy.”

Hersh and the Red Herring

Victims of the East Ghouta chemical attacks last August.


 "I have seen wrecking balls that did not manage to achieve the level of demolition that Mr Kaszeta just inflicted on Seymour Hersh. Whatever his previous exploits, Mr Hersh's reputation and standing have been irreparably damaged by his espousing theories and notions that he just hasn't been able to back up. As Dan Kaszeta pointed out, Mr Hersh ignores every technical obstacle to the idea that the rebels somehow gassed themselves as a PR stunt, in favor of a single source whose validity we have no way whatsoever to judge. Peer review is an important aspect to the validity of any claim. The evidence put forward by experts such as Mr Kaszeta has been scrutinized and analyzed to death, and stood the test of many months of study. In contrast, it is well-nigh impossible to confirm any of Hersh's assertions. A sad end to a previously distinguished journalistic career."

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Firas Massouh

Left Out? The Syrian Revolution and the Crisis of the Left
"As Fredric Jameson writes: Villainy in mass culture has been reduced to two lone survivors of the category of evil: these two representations of the truly antisocial are, on the one hand, serial killers and, on the other, terrorists (mostly of the religious persuasion, as ethnicity has become identified with religion, and secular political protagonists like the communists and the anarchists no longer seem to be available).
The West is increasingly adhering to this concept in the way it sees events in Syria. While
Nusra Front, for example, is recognized as being the most organized and disciplined rebel group in the fight against Assad, it is also classified by the United States as a terrorist organization and is purported to have strong links with al-Qaeda in Iraq.
In generating a discourse that paints the struggle in Syria as one between two categories of evil—the Assad regime as the serial killer and the armed resistance to it as the terrorist—it essentially affirms the Assad regime’s narrative to the detriment of genuine revolutionary action against tyranny. We should not expect any less from the West."

UN warns of Syria food shortage due to looming drought

Douma, Damascus, 20 March

 "On Monday, the WFP announced that it had to cut the size of its food parcels to Syrian families by 20 per cent.
 It blamed delays in receiving funds from international donors, saying it has only received 22% of the funds it needs for its operations in Syria."
 If only you could raise crops with crocodile tears.

Perfect Circle
And the source for the lie that Assad didn't use chemical weapons appears to be the same as the one that lied to us about Saddam's links to al-Qaida.
'If Michael Maloof is "the former intelligence officer" that has been informing him, Sy Hersh has good reason for keeping his identity a secret. Michael Maloof was a Pentagon intelligence officer and part of a two-man team created after 9/11 to find links between al-Qaeda and Iraq. He had his security clearance revoked in 2003.
Those close to him contend that his clearances were pulled in retaliation for challenging the official assessment that there were no operational terrorist links between al-Qaida and Iraq.'

Turkey’s Syria Policy: Why Seymour Hersh Got it Wrong

Aaron Stein

 "The conversation is a damning portrayal of the relative disorganization of Turkey’s Syria policy and, contrary to Hersh’s contention, portrays a bureaucracy that is out of options, rather than scheming to manipulate the course of the Syrian civil war. In fact, the most revealing part of the tape is Guler’s contention that even if Turkey were to train 1,000 men to fight in Syria, they would first need to ensure that they had 6 months of ammunition, or otherwise risk the fighters returning after 2 months of fighting. At one point, Davutoglu notes that Qatar is desperate to buy more ammo for cash, but are waiting for the “minister’s command.” Most assume that the minister is Erdogan, but no one really knows for certain. The conversation suggests that Turkey has not even stockpiled six-months of ammunition for its preferred proxies and that efforts to do so are marred with bureaucratic delays."

 And so I wonder if it makes sense to describe the groups that Turkey (and others) support as "proxies" at all, these aren't creations of outside powers, but Syrians looking for arms to fight Assad.

Monday, 7 April 2014

The Corridor of Death

The Corridor of Death

Image result for Seymour Hersh's Volcano Problem

Seymour Hersh's Volcano Problem

"When accusing the Turkish government of participating in a horrific chemical attack as the pretext to invading Syria, these sort of details aren't something that can just be hand-waved with "well, they could do anything if they put their mind to it", as some commentators have attempted. The chemical Volcano rockets used on August 21st are a key piece of evidence, especially in the case of Seymour Hersh's latest accusations, so by not even acknowledging their existence, it seems Hersh is either ignorant of, or chooses to ignore, key information that is extremely significantly to the narrative he's trying to construct.
Considering the seriousness of the charges he's making against the Turkish government, such an oversight seems highly irresponsible for a journalist of Hersh's reputation."