Saturday, 23 August 2014

How many times can a man turn his head, and pretend that he just doesn't see?

Marlene Dietrich - Blowing In The Wind

Phil Ochs

 Only have to walk from Trafalgar Square to Downing Street today to remember the young who have fallen in Assad's chemical attacks. No marching involved.

I demonstrated as an angry mob destroyed the U.S. embassy. I’m sorry.Mohammed Alaa Ghanem"Ambassador Crocker and I share one thing in common: we have both seen the Assad regime’s brutal tactics firsthand. But while I responded by risking my life to sow the seeds of revolution as a pro-democracy activist, the ambassador has drawn closer to Assad, even though that could mean thousands of additional deaths of innocents at the hands of the regime. Some days, I wonder how the ambassador and I could have reached such radically different conclusions. But I will never regret my decision to seek the Assad regime’s overthrow, regardless of how many times I must face its hard-fisted brutality again."

Image result for Assad Policies Aided Rise of Islamic State Militant Group

Assad Policies Aided Rise of Islamic State Militant Group"The Islamic State, which metastasized from a group of militants seeking to overthrow the Syrian government into a marauding army gobbling up chunks of the Middle East, gained momentum early on from a calculated decision by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to go easy on it, according to people close to the regime.
Earlier in the three-year-old Syrian uprising, Mr. Assad decided to mostly avoid fighting the Islamic State to enable it to cannibalize the more secular rebel group supported by the West, the Free Syrian Army,..."

Friday, 22 August 2014

Image result for West poised to join forces with President Assad in face of Islamic State

West poised to join forces with President Assad in face of Islamic State

Cockburn is given the front page to smear the opposition in Syria as ISIS and excuse Assad his murderous spree. Shame on the Indie.
"Air strikes are not the only way in which the US, Britain and their allies among neighbouring states could weaken and isolate Isis, but in doing so they would necessarily undermine other rebel groups. Key to the growth of Isis and, in particular, the import of thousands of foreign fighters has been the use of Turkey as a point of entry. 
Determined to get rid of President Assad, the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has kept Turkey’s 550-mile border with Syria open, giving the jihadists, including Isis, a safe haven over the last three years. The Turks are now saying Isis is no longer welcome, but Ankara has not moved seriously to close the border by deploying troops in large numbers.
A complete volte face by the US, Britain and their allies in their relations with the Assad government is unlikely because it would mean admitting that past support for the Sunni rebellion had contributed to the growth of the caliphate.
Mr Freeman says that he doubted that “the liberal interventionists and neoconservatives who had pursued regime change in Syria were capable of reversing course. To do so would require them to admit that they bore considerable responsibility for legitimising pointless violence that has resulted in the deaths of 190,000 Syrians.” "
Syria, three years on: Revolution, narratives, and solidarity
“It was a miracle” – Yassin-Kassab insisted on the issue of sectarianism – “that, in a country in which sectarianism was kept alive to divide and rule for so many years, a non-sectarian freedom movement was born in 2011. The regime has an interest in the Alawi minority being scared of a sectarian conflict in order to secure their loyalty.” Talking about the situation he had witnessed on the ground, Yassin-Kassab then described what in his view has now become the day-to-day “normality” for the Syrian people: “as a journalist, you don’t need a fixer to find you an ‘interesting’ story: every single woman, child or man has a traumatising story of repression to tell. Torture, death, house burnings, people killed in front of their relatives, bombs falling on schools, hospitals and crops: it’s not special, it’s the normality.”
Manus Island detention centre

Australia going to 'unthinkable' lengths to return Syria detainees, emails show

' “I was very open and frank with the transferees [asylum seekers], I described the options that they have and I was clear that they would not be settled in Australia or a third country. I did say that if they chose to return home the department would work to get them home safely, with no guarantee of any time frames. The transferees were visibly upset and quite anxious, they were quite adamant that I would be sending them home to their death.”
It is understood none of the five Syrians on Manus Island went ahead with the repatriation. A number of them have been on a long-term hunger strike and all were split up within the centre to “keep them quiet”.
“There isn’t a ‘mere likelihood’ that these people will be persecuted on returning to Syria. It isn’t even a ’50/50 chance’. There is an absolute certainty that these people will be harmed or killed upon their return, and the government’s reaction is to push them to go home without even listening to their claims for asylum.” '

Fathers of ISISZiad Majed

"ISIS, an abominable, savage creature, is thus the product of at least these six fathers. Its persistency depends on the continuation of these aforementioned elements, particularly the element of violence embodied by the Assad regime in Syria. Those who think that they should be impartial toward or even support tyrants like Assad in the fight against ISISism fail to realize that his regime is in fact at the root of the problem."

Power To The People

Just now on BBC News. Henry Crumpton: "The best allies we have are the people in Syria and Iraq, and we need to find ways to empower them." "And more weapons, into the hands of the people we think will use them correctly?" "That is correct. Bashar al-Assad does not represent the Syrian people. We need to reach out to the local leaders and empower them. The US has a lousy record, in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya."

In Aleppo, Bread Lines and Disenchantment with the FSASteven Sotloff: "The FSA first marched into Aleppo promising to end the arbitrary arrests carried out by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and to restore public order after months of fighting. But residents say it has proved ill-equipped to solving such seemingly simple problems as distributing bread and fuel."
This is what happens when a revolution is stalled. Sotloff wrote on Twitter a couple of months later:
"If #70000 dead isn't ‪#‎redline‬ enough, whats a few dozen by‪#‎chemicalweapons‬? Not advocating anything in ‪#‎Syria‬ but after 2yrs stop tiptoeing".

"ZOMG OBAMA TRAINED ISIS!!!1!" sez @washingtonpost’s @smekhennet

'It’s a sad day in professional journalism when reputable corporate outlets ape ignorant conspiracy-mongering by twits like Mark Steel who claimed that the U.S. is bombing the same people it trained, but here we are.
"The Terrorists Fighting Us Now? We Just Finished Training Them" is the tantalizing headline of 's article in The Washington Post.
We can agree with this article’s subtitle, "the enemy of our enemy is not our friend" without resorting to sleight-of-hand tricks and deliberately confusing different revolutions in different countries and conflating all angry Muslims with beards and guns regardless of ideology, sect, group affiliation as one big potential Daesh.
This last point is especially insulting because it is predominantly Sunni Muslim fighters from the Free Syrian Army and Islamic Front who have been the vanguard of the war on Daesh, having lost 7,000 men in the fight since January 2014 after Syria’s civilian freedom fighters got fed up with torture, assassinations, and public executions by Daesh and launched a second revolution.'
A Syrian man carries a girl amid debris following a air strike by government forces in the northern city of Aleppo on 15 July

Syria death toll 'more than 191,000'The truth, but told in a simplified way, could mean that this is meant as a pretext for an American invasion, rather than Syrians getting the arms they need to stop it. There hasn't been paralysis, there has been massive foreign support for Assad, and a meaningless amount for those fighting him.
"The killers, destroyers and torturers in Syria have been empowered and emboldened by the international paralysis."
The false equivalence, the confusion of ISIS with the Syrian revolutionaries to make the latter inseparable from the régime that commits genocide against them.
"Both the Syrian government and Syrian rebel groups have been accused of war crimes by the UN."

An Arab counterrevolution in declineWhen someone is blaming Qatar for ISIS, it is to deny the Syrian revolution, because it is to cast the armed defence to Assad's attacks, Qatar doing as much as any country to support the Free Syrian Army in that mission, as some foreign military conspiracy by America's allies. 
"The counterrevolution reached its climax in 2013, after the abortion of democracy in Egypt, faltering steps of political transition in Tunisia, Libya and Yemen, and the success attained by a sectarian alliance in halting the progress of the Syrian revolution and the abortion of the popular uprising in Iraq. Because Turkey decided, in the first year of the Arab uprisings, to align with the camp demanding change and democratic transition, because a broad spectrum of Arab opinion viewed what had become known as the ‘Turkish Model’ with admiration, and because Qatar played a visible role in granting financial, media and moral support to the revolting countries, both Turkey and Qatar were targeted together with the Arab revolution countries. The rapid and easy victory of the 2013 coup in Egypt puffed up the Arab counterrevolutionary movement with arrogance, confirming the belief in its main centres that it was capable of achieving miracles and in re-establishing the status-quo ante in the Arab world. The counterrevolutionary forces acted without any reservations, made no attempts at subtlety or discretion, and did not bother to consider the immense destruction, countless victims and the amount of blood spilt as a result of the tumultuous suppression of the will and aspirations of the people."
I Was Gassed by Bashar al-Assad

I Was Gassed by Bashar al-Assad
"I am a survivor of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad's chemical weapons attacks of Aug. 21, 2013. One year ago today, my heart stopped for 30 minutes after I inhaled nerve gas launched by Assad regime forces on my hometown of Moadamiya, a suburb of Damascus. The scene outside my front porch that morning was like something from Judgment Day:
Neighbors I had known my whole life were running, screaming, and writhing in agony as an invisible killer claimed their lives."

Thursday, 21 August 2014

What should be done about ISIS after the beheading of James Foley?

James Foley

Owen Jones' turn to lay on the bullshit.
"The counter-history favoured by supporters of western intervention is that these are the grim consequences of failing to support “moderate” Syrian rebels. Given that weapons provided by the CIA to such groups ended up in Isis’s hands, this is surely naive."
I followed the link*, and then followed the link** they gave [it was actually a broken link with the Washington Post's story link pasted on the beginning. I don't expect Owen Jones got that far]. Eventually you end up at the Wall Street Journal***, which does report that one lot of light weapons was seized by ISIS from the FSA. Weapons you can get anywhere in the Middle East, that the lightly armed FSA couldn't protect. And alongside repeated stories of ISIS and the real rebels fighting, we have this, "ISIS fighters have adopted a strategy of dropping back—taking rear positions—as rebels with the FSA alliance leave for front lines to fight government forces, allowing ISIS to build a presence in towns and villages left without security or services." Owen Jones is wilfully ignorant of what is going on in Syria. And is a bit gutless in hinting that we should ally with Assad, but only openly arguing for a "rational" debate.
"As for Syria: well, it is no longer far-fetched to imagine a rapprochement between the west and the Assad dictatorship.
Because Isis has proved so successful in spreading terror, it will be difficult to have a rational debate about how to defeat them. But a rational debate is exactly what we need."

James Foley Speaks About His Visit To Idlib Province"They are just throwing shells into the city. They are not targeting the FSA or anything, they are just trying to terrorise the population. It isn't really effective, the next day there was a huge protest, a public burial, the Free Syrian Army appears to be well supported and trusted in Maarat al-Numan."

Justice elusive year after Syria gas attack' "There has been an intention, from the beginning, to bury the Syrian revolution," said Hassan Taqieddine of eastern Ghouta, the Damascus suburb struck a year ago by an early morning barrage of rockets carrying chemical agents.
Taqieddine, who was among activists who rushed to evacuate and help casualties from the attack, said he is still haunted by images of the dead.
"And here we are, a year later, still getting bombed with barrel bombs, warplanes and chlorine, and no one cares."

Mariana Morena
I do remember that morning one year ago today, in which the images of Assad's slaughter with chemical weapons over Ghoutta circulating across social networks, seemed to come from a horror movie. I had never seen anything just like that, even though we had been witnessing more than two years of killings by the 'Shabiha' in the Syrian neighborhoods, the kidnapping of activists and their atrocious torture in the dungeons of the regime, and the bombing of hospitals and precarious clandestine makeshift hospitals. Never such an ominous regime had struck me in account of its irrevocable will to massacre. The Syrian regime had been dictatorial for more than forty years, but in the last four it would deepen its fascist character beyond the limits of our logic and human sensibility. Any day, any time one would expect the machine to stop, one would expect Bashar saying "enough, we've killed enough", but no, the bombings haven't stopped, death hasn't stopped in Syria, not even the use of chemical weapons that the Nobel Peace Prize Obama established as an absurd "red line" to warn Bashar that he could not implement all that horror whatever the hell he wanted. But Bashar has continued killing children, women, elderly, unarmed civilians only because they committed the more reckless action of our world when, being weary of the lack of freedom, bread and social justice they took to the streets and squares about four years ago, to demand that Bashar and his regime should resign.
Almost four years now from the beginning of the revolution for freedom, and on the first anniversary of the genocidal attack with chemical weapons in Ghoutta, that massacred more than 1,400 civilians as they slept and left thousands with severe and irreversible damage, the Syrian People won't kneel. Long live its heroic struggle! The blood of their martyrs will have not been spilled in vain. The dictatorship will fall, along with all dictatorships that nowadays curtails the dignified life of the Arab peoples.
Liberated Kafranbel, abandoned to Assad's bombs, pays tribute to James Foley

UpdatesRobin Yassin-Kassab"An alliance of the British Labour Party, Tory back benchers, UKIP, the BNP, the US Congress and the Tea Party helped Obama step away, and to hand the Syria file to Putin’s Russia – the same power arming the criminal. So the genocide continued, and continues, to the mood-music accompaniment (in the liberal-left press) of absurd conspiracy theories, racist slanders, and willed deafness to the voices of those suffering."

Air strikes? Talk of God? Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script after James Foley beheading


 No, what they have done is move into the rebel won areas with weak governance because they don't have the weapons to defend themselves, let alone resist ISIS which had no distraction of fighting Assad. Occasionally fighting Assad over control of oil reserves which they then sell back to him.

 "But why is Isis in Syria? To overthrow the Assad regime, of course, which is what we too are trying to do, is it not?"

 Robert Fisk is more openly pro-Assad than ever. An apologist, not a journalist.

 "A soldier serving, of course, in the army of the Assad regime we have all sworn to overthrow."

 I see Chuck Hagel mentioned the $500 million the Americans have promised to the FSA at a press conference, though nothing on any specific actions to stop ISIS in Syria now. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs did warn of other sophisticated terrorist groups in Syria, presumably Jabhat al-Nusra, and some of them may be forced into the arms of ISIS as their fight against Assad is discounted, while others may think the fight against Assad should take priority over maintaining their ideology. If the rebels are crushed in Aleppo by ISIS, it isn't going to look good for the administration, even though they are distancing themselves from any suggestion they'll work with Assad. The logical step would be to pressure the Iranians to give up on Assad, but I'm expecting more that they do the minimum to remove ISIS from Assad, while letting Syrians go to Hell.

 If they really were mad for a struggle against ISIS, they'd have levelled ISIS' headquarters in Raqaa. Maybe they will now, ISIS seems to think that hostage threats will keep Obama in line, overestimating the willingness of the world's great imperial power to have sand kicked in its face. Obama did take out Osama after all. But that may be it, the convenience of allowing the Russian and Iranian mess to continue in Syria outweighs any liberationary impulse.

 "Rejecting a recent suggestion, Rhodes ruled out a rapprochement with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad to confront a mutual foe."

A year ago tonight

Hundreds of victims, no blood. Assad has used chemical weapons of some sort. Save Syria.
Eastern Ghouta this morning, Damascus.

As IS advances, Syrian rebels reinforce northern strategic town

 'Abu Maryam had hardly finished his interview when a warplane roared overhead. A military commander started shouting and ordered the soldiers to deploy. The warplane flew over the city several times before firing a missile, wounding four civilians and destroying houses.'

 That's one of Assad's warplanes, acting in concert with the Islamic State assault on the rebels.

 ' "This tumor needs to be removed immediately. They've harmed the image of Islam a lot. We had never been defeated by the regime until they showed up," said an opposition fighter who was stationed with his colleagues in the agricultural fields in Marea.'

If Not Now

 "People hoped that the West was finally coming to save them," says Majed. "But instead, they gave Assad a green light to kill more, using other types of weapons.

 It is to the world's shame that it witnessed such a massacre and remained unmoved. We don't seem to matter to anyone. This issue about human rights and democracy is only a lie that the West and UN use when it suites their interests.

 The world has failed the Syrian people. After the chemical attack I saw many men around me turn to extremism. The disappointment caused by the West's inaction created a fertile recruiting ground for extremist groups, who told those who had lost their loved ones that they were their only hope. People want a way out of the violence Assad is inflicting on them."

A Dangerous Method: Syria, Sy Hersh, and the Art of Mass-crime Revisionism
A Dangerous Method: Syria, Sy Hersh, and the Art of Mass-crime Revisionism by Muhammad Idrees Ahmad

"In a time of ongoing slaughter, to obfuscate the regime’s well-documented responsibility for a war crime does not just aid the regime today, it aids it tomorrow. As long as doubts remain about previous atrocities, there will be hesitancy to assign new blame. Accountability will be deferred."

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

‪#‎MaaratalNuman‬ In a city w/ almost no civs left Why?"

Journalists live in peril to keep hope of freedom alive" “We want to show we are having a real revolution,” Mansour said. “We are not all Islamists. We are not all ISIS or Dash.”
Serriah was imprisoned in 2006 for five years for taking part in some of the early protests against the Bashar al-Assad regime and was released just after the uprising of 2011 began. He joined up with the opposition, smuggling medical supplies and wounded soldiers from the Free Syrian Army around Damascus to secret clinics. He was arrested again, and spent three more months in prison.
“Seeing or hearing the tortured people is more difficult than torture itself,” he told me, with Mansour translating. “Because you only hear them screaming and you see them and you can do nothing, just watching. And also, at the same time, you are waiting for your turn to be tortured.” "

West must work with Iran to defeat Isil

Malcolm Rifkind: "Think of the Second World War when Churchill and Roosevelt allied themselves with Stalin in order to defeat Hitler."
I think of after the Second World War, when the superpowers carved up Europe, and did no more than protest ineffectually when the other put down revolts in its own sphere of influence.

james foley
One Big Question Surrounds
The Murder Of US Journalist James Foley By ISIS

"Until recently, James Foley was thought to be in hands of pro-Assad forces. If Assad is handing over Westerners to ISIS to be killed, it indicates Assad feels cornered, looking for leverage," BBC's Kim Ghattas tweeted, adding that the assessment jibes with what her sources in Damascus have told her recently.
Ghattas added that Assad providing Foley to ISIS "would confirm Assad tacitly working [with] ISIS and silence any suggestions Assad is the better alternative."

The BBC just had three Muslims on, to discuss what it would be like to live under an Islamic state. None of them are Syrians, who might have some experience of what it is like.

Intervention? More like Ceaseless EscalationTwo untruths to point out here. We can't stand by does not mean any action is better than none, arming the FSA would forestall any need for a military intervention, not encourage it. And the link to 'covert action' (only linking to 'overt action') tells us nothing about 2013, it is a link to Susan Rice in June 2014 hinting at lethal aid to Syrian rebels. That's all the writer has to say about Syria, their struggle against dictatorship is made invisible in favour of talking about other conflicts.
"In 2013, another popular front of interventionists clamored for action, this time in Syria—and all while repeated their favorite mantra: “We can’t just stand by and let this happen, can we?”
It is on this point that we need to correct our language. For it was common knowledge that in 2013, like in 2011 and 2012, “we” were not just “standing by and letting things happen” in Libya or Iran. And with regard to Syria, “we,” like the Saudis and Qataris, had already been intervening—with covert action and diplomatic support—to overthrow the Asad regime."

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (L) greets Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Damascus in January 2013 (SANA/AFP)

Iran compromises in Iraq, but won’t in Syria

Saudi Arabia and Qatar are claimed to fund ISIS or "other extremist groups", when in fact they've been supporting, intermittently, the revolutionary forces fighting Assad. The fits in with the lie that the military struggle against Assad is a choice made by regional powers which has nothing to do with the original aims of the revolution, when it is the defence of that revolution against Assad's assaults that has created the Free Syrian Army, and the lack of support for the FSA that has seen power leech away to other groups. Now we see this come full circle, with the sectarian killers in Syria turning into the West's allies in the War on Terror. The Iranian forces in Syria are still attacking the Free Syrian Army and other anti-Assad brigades, they haven't had one engagement with ISIS. This is a recipé for a bad settlement in Iraq, and a continuation of the genocide in Syria.
"By contrast, far from making concessions in Syria, Khashoggi told NOW he believed the Iranians would in fact seek to exploit the ongoing jihadist atrocities in northern Iraq to reinforce their and Assad’s claims to have been battling a “terrorist” insurgency in Syria during the last three years, thereby gaining support from an international community increasingly alarmed by the rapid rise of Sunni jihadist groups such as the al-Qaeda offshoot, the Islamic State (IS).
“The Iranians and [Lebanese Hezbollah leader Hassan] Nasrallah and others will probably be talking now about how they have been right all along, how Islamic extremists are the problem, not Bashar,” said Khashoggi.
“And I’m sure some will be asking the question: is it time for the Saudis and Iranians and Americans to cooperate together?”
Sure enough, in an op-ed Sunday, British Prime Minister David Cameron argued the “international community” should partner “even with Iran” in its political and military action against the “shared threat” posed by the IS."

Activists and concerned people from all over the world: Don't forget Syria's chemical attacks victims

Activists and concerned people from all over the world: Don't forget Syria's chemical attacks victims

 "Sadly, to this day, there hasn't been any attempt to help those who fell victims. For more than two years the survivors are living under the siege that is laid by the Assad-Regime and pro Iranian militias on these neighborhoods.
Bashar Al Assad and his regime have survived without any punishment.
Not only is the regime still using chemical weapons, it also has cut any connection of the people in the besieged areas from the rest of the world.
We want to shed a light on these crimes, and put pressure on the international community to strip the Syrian regime from these means of mass killing and put Assad and his subordinates before the International Criminal Court, and most important help the chemical attacks victims that have been forgotten by the international community."

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Assad regime uses CWs against civilians again, world ignores it again

Ruth Numpty: "Atmane, ‪#‎Daraa‬ province, 19-08-2014: Assad's warplanes again fired missiles containing chemical substances, believed to be chlorine gas, against civilian areas in the early hours of this morning, this time in Atmane in Daraa province, with heroic paramedics seen in this video footage treating some of the victims in the town, already devastated by daily regime aerial and heavy artillery bombardment.
The Assad regime continues to routinely deploy chlorine gas and other internationally outlawed chemical weapons against civilians with impunity since these are, conveniently, omitted from the UN's list of CWs proscribed for its use.
The world media, as always, ignored the regime's latest use of chemical weapons, which is now routine, preferring, as always, to recount the Assad regime's narrative.
This Thursday, August 21st, is the first anniversary of the Assad regime's largest chemical weapons attack to date, on the Ghouta region of Damascus province, in which over 1,450 people were killed, mostly women and children; as with all of Assad's other victims, these have been effectively dismissed as 'collateral damage' by Obama and the rest of the 'international community,' as much as by Assad and his more overt allies."