Saturday, 5 July 2014

Children play on a swing in Jobar, a suburb of Damascus

Life in a war zone – Syria'Shells are dropped by planes, snipers shoot from a nearby tower, rockets are launched from a mountain top. Abu Yahya won't be moving away, though. First, he can't afford to, and second, why should he? Jobar is his home, he says. The whole neighbourhood is pro-Free Syrian Army, and the regime is aware of that. "They are giving us a very hard time," Abu Yahya says. "There is another district next to us that has also sustained heavy shooting, and they get very heavy shells. They are called elephants shells because they are so big. There is a mountain in Damascus and from here we can see all the artillery piled up there."
He says he is not a political man – never has been. "I have no business with politics and politicians. I am just a peaceful man. I want to work to earn my living and take care of my children." But he is proud to be part of the uprising. He calls it "the revolution against injustice".'

Friday, 4 July 2014

Syria conflict: President Assad’s forces accused of using chlorine gas against rebels despite pledges to give up chemical weapons"The Obama administration has not decided what action, if any, it might take in reaction to the preliminary evidence cited by the OPCW."
I'm guessing no action.

Independence Day

"...except for Syria. Tyranny, oppression and persecution are fine there."

A unique anthology of the uprising in Syria

“When I talk about the Revolution or the uprising it’s not only an uprising of people against the government, but also a revolution on many levels. Before 2010 some opinions were a luxury. People were not even courageous enough to write stuff against the government. For example, if you talked about a news anchor that you didn’t like you might have ended up in prison because you don’t know who he is, or who he knows.
The Revolution shattered these boundaries because the response at the beginning against the demonstrators by Bashar Al Assad and the army was horrific. The people were not asking for a change in the regime, they had modest demands, but the first response was the killing and shooting of people, hunting them down on the streets.
When you start at that level then you don’t have anywhere to go. The people are not going to have anything more valuable than life to lose so, in a way, they stop being afraid because the ultimate thing that could happen to any human being happened on that first day. There is nothing worse that could happen to them.”
Image result for Syria conflict: UK planned to train and equip 100,000 rebels

Syria conflict: UK planned to train and equip 100,000 rebels

"The international community did not intervene to prevent those crimes and at the same time did not actively support the moderate elements on the ground.
A huge opportunity was missed and that opportunity could have saved tens of thousands of lives actually and could have saved also a huge humanitarian catastrophe."

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Assad and the myth of the lesser evil
Bente Scheller'In Raqqa, the only provincial Syrian capital in which ISIS is the sole power, the army didn't hit ISIS' easily identifiable headquarters. This location was formerly the seat of government in Raqqa, so the army should have been more than familiar with its coordinates. Instead, the strikes occurred nearby.
Assad's choice to give up Syria's northern border, in particular, was what made it possible for large numbers of foreign fighters to flood into the country. In establishing his own militias, he forfeited the state's monopoly on the use of force. The West's reluctance to put its weight behind the political opposition and bolster the Free Syrian Army at the right time opened up the field for extremist forces and their supporters.
ISIS can pay salaries, distribute food and, in Raqqa, buy acceptance by providing electricity and taking on all the other usual functions of a state.
A patchwork in northern Syria
By contrast, that was never possible for either the Free Syrian Army or for the Syrian National Coalition in Istanbul, because both oppositional groups lacked the funds that would have enabled them to take a similar course - not to mention the fact that the regime continued to make air strikes even in regions it had long since lost to the rebels. The sole purpose of this was to prevent state-like structures from forming there. That has turned northern Syria into a patchwork in which various local authorities have small areas of control.
Assad has never given any reason to doubt that he's not concerned about Syria, only about himself. Right at the start of the revolution, in the first few months, his troops would spray graffiti in the places targeted by their wrath that read: "Assad or we'll burn the country to the ground." This is indeed the approach he has consistently implemented ever since.'

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

US Senator McCain meets Syrian rebels in Turkey, calls for greater support against ISIL

US Senator John McCain shakes with members of the Syrian opposition during a meeting in the southern province of Gaziantep on July 1.

Al-Qaida emerge to give the senator his instructions.
We need a strategy that can force al-Assad to leave power and defeat ISIL in both Syria and Iraq, and that strategy should start with greater support to these Syrian opposition forces, especially vital military training and assistance, such as anti-armor and anti-air capabilities and support for creating a safe zone in Syria.”

Syria rebel groups seek
aid to fight IS jihadists
"Our popular revolution (against Syrian President Bashar Assad)... is today under threat because of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), especially after it announced a caliphate."

Destination Syria with Catrin Nye

 'The British Government has told its citizens not to go to Syria. The country has been in a state of civil war for more than three years, more than 150 thousand people are believed to have been killed and the war has attracted hundreds of British fighters. The UK authorities argue that Brits may be radicalised by what they see if they go to Syria and that even charity workers could get caught up in terrorism if they go. The UK government has threatened to seize the passport of anyone ignoring these warnings. But some British Muslims are going anyway.""If a Muslim goes to Syria to fight against a barbaric regime, against a dictatorship that is killing innocent men, women and children, they are not terrorists, they're heroes. And if anybody thinks anything else, then they don't understand the situation. Or they are choosing not to understand the situation.'

Rebels Worth Supporting: Syria's Harakat Hazm'Harakat Hazm formed in January 2014 via the merger of twenty-two separate rebel units. According to its founding documents, it is a "revolutionary political organization with a military wing...working to bring down the regime in Syria and seeking to restore the freedom and dignity of the Syrian people." There is very little Islamist content in these documents or the group's various Internet postings. In general, the movement appears more interested in warfighting against the regime than the infighting that has long plagued the political and military opposition.'

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Article illustrative image
The Shady Syrian Oligarchs Who
Keep The Regime Afloat
One reason Assad can't go on forever.
"There's almost not a single dollar legally going into the state's coffers," says a former close friend of the al-Assad clan. "The oil wells are now under the control of the rebels or of the Kurds. People don't pay their taxes anymore, nor their water or electricity bills. All the regime has left to pay the civil servants' wages are its schemes and direct aid from Iran and Iraq."

Old certainties turned upside down in Middle East

 Corey Oakley

 "Throughout the three-year civil war in Syria, there has been a fierce debate on the international left between those who backed the uprising against Bashar al-Assad, and those who either defended the regime, or at the very least refused to back the opposition on the grounds that Assad was part of an “anti-imperialist bloc”.

 For leftists in the latter category, like Counterpunch writer Phil Greaves, “imperialism” simply means the US and its Saudi and Israeli allies. Syria, Iran and even Russia, whose strategic interests brought them into conflict with the US, are portrayed as playing a progressive role, or at best a benign one.

 This is the logic that convinced many to rail against “imperialist intervention” in Syria at the slightest whiff of mostly non-existent aid from the US to Syrian rebel forces, while at the same time explaining away the very real imperialist intervention into the war by Iran and Russia, which has played a decisive role in propping up the Assad regime.

 Events in Iraq over the last month leave such “anti-imperialist” fantasies in ruins."

Syrian ‘moderates’ aren’t so moderate in Iraq

"FSA – briefly beloved of John McCain until he discovered a pro-al-Qa’ida fighter sharing a photo-op with him in northern Syria – has decomposed.
Its men have gone home, switched to the bearded Islamists of the Nusrah or Isis – or Isil if we heed the latest acronym – or re-deserted to the government army and taken up arms for Assad again. Some freedom fighters! They weren’t given enough weapons, we are told. Now they’ll get more. And no doubt sell them – as they did the last lot. For it is a sad fact of war that whenever a gun crosses a border, it represents not loyalty but cash.
Give an FSA man – if you can find one – an anti-aircraft missile and it will be sold to the highest bidder."
Multiple lies from Fisk here.
"The Syrians have a suspicion that this is Obama’s half-baked plan: to arm the anti-Islamist Syrian rebels to fight the pro-al-Qa’ida rebels and thus – indirectly – keep both the Assad and Maliki regimes in power."
What a load of bollocks. 'The Syrians' here might mean Fisk's friends in the régime propaganda machine. There has been a lot of suspicion that Obama was happy to leave Assad in power, but the idea that funding the FSA is a means to do so is Alice in Wonderland territory.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Notes of the Month

Middle East

(October 1973)
Chris Harman
"Some people say that because Russia is arming the Arab states, the war is an inter-imperialist war. But that is to confuse a fight against one imperialist power which another aids by providing arms (as the Germans tried to provide some arms to the Irish rising of 1916) with a war between imperialist powers, in which different local states are just pawns. The Egyptians and the Syrians are no one’s pawns at the present time: they did not even consult with the Russians before starting to fight."
You could replace Russia with the US and be talking about Syria today.

Association of Syrian Journalists Eulogizes the Death of Mohamed al-Khatib

Association of Syrian Journalists Eulogizes the Death of Mohamed al-Khatib

 “The Assad regime is trying through this brutal clampdown on journalists to break the will of their pens and to choke their words. Al Khatib spent two years and a half in Assad’s prisons, with no apparent charge but that because he tried to convey the truth and the voice of the Syrian people. He is not the only one to pay his live for speaking up against the Assad regime, as hundreds his colleagues are still jailed by Assad and are subjected to all kinds of torture.”
Rebels Drive ISIS out of Abu Kamal, Deir Ezzor

Rebels Drive ISIS out of Abu Kamal, Deir Ezzor

A bomb exploded in the town of Enabahin rural Deir Ezzor, killing three civilians and wounding five others. Rebels clashed with ISIS militants in the towns of Abu Kamal and Baghouz, alongside regime’s bombardment. Regime forces carried out air raids on the town of Aqidat, killing two people and wounding others.
A member of the sectarian militia Hezbullah poses inside an Assad helicopter before he drops a barrel bomb onto Syrians below. 
A member of the sectarian militia Hezbullah poses inside an Assad helicopter before he drops a barrel bomb onto Syrians belowIt's nice to see Wayne Rooney's found something he's good at.
Arab News

Division is no solution
"The emergence of ISIL in Iraq should be understood against the backdrop of the American inaction in Syria over the last few years. Had the American administration supported the Syrian revolution from the get-go, radical groups would not have come to the surface in the first place."

ISIS banners on Number 10 Downing Street, no longer a farfetched alarmist possibility given the group's astonishing resurgence during the Obama presidency, which has seen them go from being almost extinct in the Levant, to controlling their own state stretching from Anbar in Iraq, along the Euphrates and right up to the Turkish border.

After Conquering Raqqa, ISIS Enters Mosul.
Are the Obamanite Isolationists Happy Now?

"It’s no use relying on the Assad regime to tackle ISIS. Bashar Assad is the cause of ISIS, not the solution to it. Today, the regime has an entire division holed up in its base in Raqqa, said division having done crap all while the group terrorized the city.
Regime forces have time and again been able to move supplies and reinforcements close to or through ISIS lines to other parts of Syria. The group’s positions have been spared air attacks from the regime’s airforce, even as nearby rebel hospitals and bakeries are bombed.
ISIS prisons hold not a single regime soldier, but are overflowing with rebel activists and fighters. ISIS reserves its suicide car bombs exclusively for rebel positions, and has proven more effective than the regime in assassinating rebel commanders.
The moderate Syrian rebels are the antibiotics to the disease that is ISIS, Hizbollah, Iranian influence and above all else the Assad regime. which would be happy to have the chaos it created exported to the rest of the world. The world is well within its rights to take whatever measures it deems necessary to tackle Assad’s efforts to spread his particular brand of mayhem.
If “dont do stupid shit” is indeed the mantra by which Obama runs his foreign policy, then by now even he has to admit that imposing a blanket embargo on military aid to the Syrian moderate groups has proven to be some very stupid shit. America’s regional allies that have wanted to support the rebels have been prevented from doing so by the Obama arms embargo."

Sunday, 29 June 2014


'Shi'ite militias'
This is quite ironic with a couple of substitutions in the last paragraph.
" It certainly makes sense for Iran to perpetuate the idea that militant opposition to their occupation of Syria was really the work of external powers. It is not just good propaganda, but enjoys a neat fit with the state-centric discourses of international relations in which the empire's elites are trained. However, this is merely to underline a point which should occur to journalists far more often than it does: since when was 'according to Tehran' not the fastest way to undermine the integrity of any sentence in print?"