Friday, 12 September 2014

In Syria's Aleppo, school is a basement under air raids

 "We come up to play a bit and have some fun because we've been underground for a long time," says Jaafar, wearing a grey hooded top, as his classmates hop and twirl around him.
"But we can't stay for long because we're scared a plane might come and bomb us."

Thursday, 11 September 2014

John Boehner in Washington.

Congress shrugs off legal concerns to support Obama over Isis offensive

Reminds me of much of the left continued.
"Congresswoman Michele Bachmann*, who is standing down in November, said she would not vote in favour of any bill authorising US training for the groups out of fears they were allies of Isis rather than enemies and she questioned whether so-called “boots on the ground” could be avoided."
*"Top 10 Craziest Michele Bachmann Quotes of All Time"[…/michele-bachmann-quotes.h…]

Obama Is Just 'Tickling' ISIS, Syrian Rebels Say

“The FSA has been fighting against ISIS since the beginning of this year,” said Al Marie. “We continue to fight them. The problem now is that they came back to the fight with sophisticated weapons, weapons they stole from the Americans. We are losing our brave fighters on the front against ISIS. We’re just asking the West for some cooperation, some support to be able to fight these monsters and free our lands with our hands. That’s what we want.”

Syria Chemical Attack Survivor Haunted by Memories a Year Later

“All we asked for is to help us take away Assad's ability to use barrel bombs… and especially chemical weapons to keep punishing the Syrian people for asking for their freedom.”

Metro Detroiters applaud efforts to quash extremists"Ruthanne Ashkar of Manchester, who wed a Syrian native last year, eagerly listened to the address and supported measures to stop ISIS.
“They need to be eliminated but I just have to shake my head because this is something we have been warning will happen since the revolution started in Syria,” she said. “If the opposition wasn’t supported, these radical extremist groups would step into the vacuum.” "

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Destroy the Islamic State. But Forget About Working With Assad

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Syria and Iraq: Why US policy is fraught with danger"Their violent sectarianism is not very different to that of Isis."
Same shit from Cockburn, different day. He's not talking about the Assad régime, which has unleashed far more violent sectarianism than ISIS (though which is more horrific is still up in the air), but about those who are disgusted by both. It is a "pretence" that there is a moderate military operation, then in the next paragraph they are all over the place, only they "report to the CIA", as if they are nothing more than an American proxy. Any weaponry given by anyone else will end up with ISIS, because some of their anti-tank rockets are the same as those the Saudis provided to the FSA (not some jihadi militia, you note). Maybe they got them when they captured a load of American military equipment in Mosul.
Meanwhile, Robert Fisk is losing touch with reality completely. His latest is a Bosnia comparison with invented views imputed:
"Odd, isn’t it, how we took a vaguely similar view of those Muslims who originally travelled to Syria to help overthrow Bashar al-Assad’s regime. The peaceful revolution was being ruthlessly suppressed and we were happy to send money and guns to the opposition – and turn a blind eye if Muslim “humanitarian” workers were so angered by events that they joined the rebels. Only when the toughened fighters of Afghanistan and Chechnya and other Muslim nations turned up to take over the battle did we suddenly express our horror."

HARDtalk: John McCain

 John McCain:

 "They [the Obama administration] have not provided the Free Syrian Army with the weapons it needs to be a viable force, and it's being destroyed as a result."
 "Should there be American boots on the ground?"
 "No, of course not, the American people would never put up with that. The Free Syrian Army can still succeed, but they're in dire straits."

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Syria’s Assad thinks he is winning. He could be wrong"After three years of fighting, the army is depleted and tired. Assad is indebted to local militias trained and funded by Iran, as well as to Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement, for his government’s most important victories. Many of the Iraqi Shiite militias who also helped have gone home to fight the Sunni extremists on their own turf.
The government sustains its efforts to repress the rebellion by bombing communities that oppose it from afar, further fueling the grievances that enabled extremism to thrive.
Even if the United States wanted to partner with Assad to defeat the extremists, “it’s not clear what he would bring to the table,” said Jeff White, a defense fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
“What we’re seeing is the overall, uneven degradation of the regular military forces­,” he said. “They’re becoming less and less capable over time.” "

John Kerry

Kerry leads diplomatic drive to boost Arab support in fight against IsisDon't strain yourself.
'Backing for "authorised" Syrian rebels is also likely to be discussed if only because the crisis in the two neighbouring countries has now merged into one.'

John Boehner

Dick Cheney urges Republicans to take hardline military stance against IsisIn the continuing series, Reminds Me Of Much Of The Left.
“He basically said that President Obama has actually done things that have supported the Muslim Brotherhood. But on the other hand the Muslim Brotherhood is really the beginnings of all the Islamist groups that we’re now dealing with; Hamas, Isis – all of those groups.”

Syrian Series “Bab Al Hara” and the Need to Combat Traditional Images of Women

Image from Bab Al Hara.

 "The Syrian regime and security forces have been known for several decades for their brutal treatment of civilians, especially the opposition. Given that reputation, it was not easy for most of the people to stand up against the regime and ask for freedom; otherwise, the consequence of that would be disappearing forever in the dark cells of the intelligence, or the Mokhabarat. For the team of Bab Al Hara, nothing has changed in the story or the plot. Members of the Syrian series likely feared talking about any issue related to the uprising, because the consequences are known to them: shutting down the shooting locations, or imprisoning members of the team, especially if the shooting locations are inside Syria.

 The other day, I was browsing through my Facebook timeline, and I found a video of this very brave lady challenging all enemies if Syria. She inspired me to write this piece, and will always give me hope that women can make the change societies need. She is called “The Woman in Pants.”* This brave woman used to go out every day holding a sign in the middle of Al Riqqa, a Syrian city, and calling members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant to leave town. People around her were too scared to salute her for what she is doing, fearing they might be seen by the ISIL militants. In pants, she used to express her thoughts and opinion with no fear. Watching such women in real life standing against injustice creates examples for producers of television dramas to follow. These women are the inspiration we need in our lives, in order to show that wars and battles for freedom are not only fought by men, but there are also women standing hand in hand with them."

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From Green to Black: What Happens to a Revolution Without Support

"A week later when I was back in South Turkey, I went to a small village near Kassab on the Turkish border, where Syrian youth were helping Syrian children in a school run by two Syrian women, both of whom were previously detained by the regime for nine years. Here I found reasons for hope. These are the women, youth and children who are the hope and future of Syria. I can feel it, I can see the light at the end of the dark tunnel. I can feel the hope emanating through those women, youth and children in the middle of an ugly war."
syria aleppo
The Syrian Civil War Is On The Verge Of Getting Even WorseThere are millions of Syrians within and without the country who won't accept either choice, but the military situation is serious.
"If Aleppo falls, the idea of a united Syria could fall with it. The only combatants left would be a serial human rights abuser that's beat a tactical retreat to a sectarian enclave in the west — and ISIS, perhaps the richest and best-armed jiihadist group in history.
The rebels have endured a series of setbacks since mid-2012, when some observers believed the Assad regime was on the brink of collapse.
The American-brokered Syrian chemical weapons deal effectively destroyed any chance of game-changing U.S. support against Assad, a development that the Crisis Group says fractured the rebel coalition and forced certain factions into a pragmatic alliance with al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al Nusra."

Opinion: ISIS in Syria
"The regime may not have been so much as negligent here, as perhaps having reached some kind of “understanding” or “agreement” with ISIS, whether openly or behind the scenes. This is what explains the lack of air and rocket attacks by Syrian government forces on ISIS bases and fighters. To make the point even clearer: ISIS’s leadership and main bases in Syria are concentrated in the city of Raqqa.
The group’s foreign nature was no obstacle to its attempting to spread within Syria, infiltrating other armed Islamist groups such as the Ahrar Al-Sham and spreading in poor, disaffected areas lining the route between the rural areas of Deir Ezzor and Aleppo, passing through Raqqa. It exploited the dearth of weaponry and funding which some elements of the Free Syrian Army were suffering from, breaking them up and fighting others, while always subsequently creating an atmosphere of oppression and terror wherever it went, murdering residents of occupied areas in order to keep them quiet and under control. In this way, an “Al-Qaeda in Syria” was created, its presence and resources all no doubt directed against the Syrian people and their revolution in all those areas where the regime has lost control.
To conclude, regarding the matter of ISIS in Syria, we can say it is a purely “functional” organization, there to carry out a foreign agenda compatible with that of the Assad regime. The group’s role in Syria is akin to Hezbollah’s in Lebanon, or that of the armed militias in Iraq, only differing in the nature of the allegiances and the slogans, and what follows in terms of its actions. This means that the fight against ISIS runs parallel with the war against Assad and Hezbollah and the Iraqi militias. It is one war, one that cannot be divided up in any way: a war against both terror and extremism."

Syrian Filmmakers Expose ISIS"En route to Raqqa, Yassin's hometown, he discovers that it had been overtaken by ISIS, the same organization that had kidnapped his two brothers. Given the brutality of both the Syrian regime and ISIS, Yassin finds himself compelled to flee to Istanbul, his place of temporary "enforced" exile."

Sunday, 7 September 2014


Opinion: The FSA and the anti-ISIS Alliance"The most difficult aspect in all of this is acknowledging that eradicating ISIS cannot be accomplished by air strikes alone, especially since this terrorist group is hiding out in city centers, using civilians as human shields. This is precisely what Al-Qaeda did in Iraq in the past. So how will NATO forces and regional allied countries be able to eradicate ISIS with air strikes?
We are sure that the air strikes will fail. The solution lies, first and foremost, in “coordinating” with a Syrian ally on the ground. However, the only Syrian ally ready to fight ISIS, the Al-Nusra Front, Ahrar Al-Sham and the rest of these terrorist groups remains the Free Syrian Army.
The FSA’s main mission is to gain control of the capital Damascus and establish a new government that represents all Syrians. This new government would then be responsible for the liberation of the rest of Syria’s territory from terrorist groups and mercenaries. Therefore, the new anti-ISIS alliance has to recognize and support the FSA to take the lead in pursuing and destroying ISIS. The FSA must do this not just for the sake of Syria and the Syrian people, but also for the Arab world and the West."

Rand Paul Wants to Team Up With Assad and Iran to Stop ISIS

If we were to get rid of Assad, it would be a jihadist wonderland in Syria.”
Much the same position as Patrick Cockburn and his acolytes on the Left.

Bassam Al-Rayes, a 28-year-old local man, left college at the beginning of the revolution and started filming the anti-Assad demonstrations...

Bassam al-Rayes, only one of the forgotten victims of ISIS’s savagery
"Bassam Al-Rayes, a 28-year-old local man, left college at the beginning of the revolution and started filming the anti-Assad demonstrations. He covered the peaceful resistance while preparing and producing TV reports, and was a member of the camera crew in Eastern Ghouta and Damascus.
Later on he joined the Zubair Battalion which belongs to the Army of Islam brigade, worked there for a while and then he moved to the media office to become one of the most respected cameramen in this region, covering most of the battles he witnessed and taking exclusive and dangerous videos of fighters in their battles.
After clashes between IS and the Army of Islam in the small villages around Damascus and in Meda’a town to the north-east of the city, IS detained Bassam and five of his friends, tortured him and then slaughtered him without reason or remorse."

Once full of promise, Syrian football has been destroyed by civil war

The Khaled bin Walid Stadium in Homs, Syria in 2009 before the civil war.

There will be no proper football until Assad is gone. End of.
"Players such as Abdul Basit Saroot took off his boots to join the revolution, becoming an instant icon, while his compatriot, the Syrian international Musab Balhous – before he reverted after his release – spent time in prison accused of sheltering armed rebels and strengthening an armed organisation composed of Al-Karamah club-mates against the nation’s president, Bashar al-Assad.
Others left the country either in protest or for their own safety. Firas Al-Khatib – regarded as one of the finest footballers Syria has produced – has refused to represent his national side in solidarity with those seeking freedom and liberation, and now plies his trade with China’s Shanghai Shenhua."

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Islamic State in Syria
I don't think this is an accurate assessment of the feeling of Syrians. On the one hand she is saying that for a lot of people Assad now offers stability, on the other they are asking why noone is intervening to help them.
"When you contrast him with ISIS he looks a lot better, and that's what's going to keep him there for some time."
Some arsehole called Richard from Bristol, called to say, "this war's going to end up as a NATO intervention, we spend too much time fighting firefights in the Middle East, we need to deal with the extremists among our own allies, replace the petrodollar..."
Karen Leigh: "We don't have anyone who can help on the ground in Syria, not the Free Syrian Army."

In Syria, Uncovering the Truth Behind a Number

 I remember when Cockburn was citing the SOHR's figures to claim that the rebels had done most of the killing, I said that many of the régime's victims were undocumented, and there were probably 250,000 dead already.

"Patrick thinks the total may prove to be twice the number of documented deaths. For every one of the 191,369 confirmed deaths, there may be another victim known only to loved ones, or to no one at all."