Saturday, 13 December 2014

‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬ says Kafranbel!

Islamic State adopts Assad's methods of torture
I think it's 55,000 photos showing 11,000 deaths, but those are only the ones Caesar witnessed personally.
'The astonishing cruelty of Syrian prisons has been recorded again and again over the years, long before the revolution, along with the diversity and imagination of the tortures available. "They have made an art form out of torture," said Samir.
In the "flying carpet", the victim is strapped down to a hinged board, with the ends brought towards each other, bending the spine. With the relatively mundane "falaqa", the victim is beaten on the soles of the feet.
Obviously, there are also the usual add-ons – male rape, sometimes with kebab skewers, and starvation. The defector known as "Caesar", a police photographer, earlier this year revealed graphic evidence of the deaths of 55,000 people in regime cells since the start of the uprising.'

Noam Chomsky on America: ‘This is a very racist society’

Screenshot from video

Noam Chomsky talks complete shit on Syria. A sad day. The major force fighting ISIS has been the Free Syrian Army, which Patrick Cockburn has spent several years pretending does not exist. Turkey has not been attacking the PKK's allies in Syria. Iran's sectarian gangs which have massacred Sunni Muslims in both Iraq and Syria have driven people into the arms of ISIS. Co-operation with Iran has not been ruled out, the US has been doing its best to get de facto co-operation in Iraq, while leaving the Iranians to do their own thing in Syria. Chomsky goes on to say that people are angry about the American bombing, ignoring the major reason that they are angry is that Syrian rebel groups rather than Assad are being bombed. And what to do about Assad is not complex, give the Syrian people the means to get rid of him, and the attraction of ISIS as an alternative will fade like the stars at dawn. But the Syrians fighting Assad appear only as a proxy for American intervention to Chomsky, so when he cites a report from the New York Times showing that American interventions don't work, it doesn't occur that because those were terrorist interventions against popular movements, they have no bearing on whether support for a popular movement against state terrorism would be effective.

"The correspondent who's followed this most closely, and has been right all along, Patrick Cockburn, simply describes it as an Alice in Wonderland strategy. The major ground forces who are fighting ISIS, are apparently the PKK, and its allies in Syria, a similar group, they're barred because we call them a terrorist group. So they're under attack, our ally Turkey attacks them, and we bar them support. They're apparently the ones who saved the Yazidi, and blocked the ISIS attack on Iraqi Kurdistan. So they're out. The major regional force, state, that could confront ISIS, is Iran. In fact, they could probably wipe them out, and they are influential in Iraq, in fact they were the victors of the Iraq war. They're out, for ideological reasons. A more complex case, that Dr. Cockburn's talked about, is what to do about Assad, and that has all sorts of complexities, anyway, they're out."

The Salafist and the human rights activist"Wherever the regime has been driven out, the people breathe freedom. Curriculums are rewritten, town councillors are elected, newspapers are published and cultural centres are set up – all developments that the West favours, but does not support, even though the huge bombing raids on residential areas of Homs in February 2012 leave no one in any doubt that Assad will use any weapons at his disposal to stay in power.
The argument that in 2012, it was not clear who was fighting whom in Syria is just a lame excuse. At this time, Syrian Islamists like Alloush were just starting to get organised, and there were only very isolated pockets of foreign jihadists in the country. Instead of giving the many different local rebel groups the money, training and weapons they needed to create an alternative Syrian army, they were left to fight amongst themselves over supplies."

It's a cartoon until 100 seconds in, and then it's not cartoon thugs kicking the shit out of people the way the toons did.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Detention of Syrian women: A weapon of social destruction

 'Since the beginning of the uprising, the Syrian government has gradually engaged in campaigns of arbitrary detention of women, particularly peaceful protestors, activists, dissidents, journalists and aid workers. Although many were released shortly after, some were kept longer to exert pressure on their families or to deter their relatives from joining anti-government protests. State media publicly denounced these women as "terrorists", "saboteurs" and even "sex slaves" for "terrorist groups".

 As the war intensified, security forces began conducting widespread systematic raids on opposition strongholds and used checkpoints to randomly arrest women, detaining them for lengthy periods before releasing them; usually following the payment of a bribe or as part of prisoner swap with opposition groups."
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Canada considers prioritizing religious minorities in Syria refugee resettlement

"We will prioritize persecuted ethnic and religious minorities."
The truth is that the main victims of Assad have been from the Sunni Muslim majority. But the media that has portrayed the Syrian revolution against genocide as a civil war with victims on all sides, and the racists who have painted it all as an Islamic jihad, have helped to create the ignorance that makes such racist policy on refugees seem a reasonable option.
CIA Director John Brennan takes questions from reporters during a press conference at the CIA in Langley, VA, 11 December 2014 (AFP Photo/Jim Watson)

Tortured logic

"Some 200, 000 people are estimated to have been killed; war crimes and crimes against humanity are daily occurrences; there is a great deal of documentary evidence to impart responsibility, not least for the murder of some 11, 000 people under torture in regime prisons; and 3.2 million Syrians are refugees in the countries neighboring Syria, while another 7.6 million have been internally displaced, according to the UN Population Fund. 
With numbers of such magnitude genocide becomes merely a semantic distinction. Particularly disturbing is that the United States is already involved in Syria, leading a bombing campaign against ISIS. Presumably, Washington went back on its refusal to intervene in Syria because of the viciousness of ISIS. And yet Washington still refuses to do anything about the greater viciousness of the Syrian regime. The logic is difficult to comprehend, but there you have it.
So, congratulations to America for having the courage to peel back the covering over its own crimes. But it should spare us the bits about moral authority and the early saints. One must bear a responsibility for crimes that he or she has the ability to stop but, instead, does nothing to prevent."
Rami Aldalati.

FSA commander about Syrian regime: ‘we have to cut the head of the snake’

"We have to be frank and differentiate between al-Nusrah and ISIS, although both have ties with al-Qaeda. But ISIS is a criminal organization that has no popular support among the majority of Syrian people. 
The al-Nusrah Front has a different story. All members of this front are Syrians. They are to some extent popular. And people have recognized them in part. We do not approve of everything they do. But we cannot deny them either. They have an impact and we have some coordination.
At the same time, the US army is at war with ISIS. But it has not fought al-Nusrah. Washington knows that there is some level of cooperation between us and the Nusrah Front, but turns a blind eye. Regarding the recent escalations between Nusrah and the rebels, I should say that the rebels made some errors of judgment and embraced some indecent military commanders. We really did not wish to see an armed conflict between us and wanted the dispute to be resolved through a military court. But al-Nusrah unilaterally made the decision and overran a military base of the Syrian rebels."

Syrian military and ISIS have been ‘ignoring’ each other on the battlefield

"These figures suggest that the Islamic State and Assad’s security forces have embraced the clever strategy of ignoring each other while focusing on attacking more moderate opposition groups.
Assad is trying to downplay the Syrian revolution narrative and instead portray it as an Islamist insurgency against his government. This way, he can crack down on it with the indirect support of the West.
The Islamic State is looking to engineer a scenario where it is just them against Assad. Therefore, right now the group’s focus in on marginalising moderate groups to the point where these groups’ fighters are ‘asked’ to join the Islamic State.
The lose-lose situation that the West could be heading for is the Islamic State vs Assad.”
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Syria detainees endure `nightmare` underworld

' "Nothing, no amount of reading or listening to other people`s stories could have prepared me for the horror of detention," adds Samaan, who now lives in Beirut.
Speaking quietly as he pulls on a cigarette, Samaan says he was jailed twice for activism against Assad`s regime, enduring physical and psychological torture on both occasions. 
An interrogator at one of Damascus`s feared security branches told him: "We torture people because we are sadists. We enjoy torturing people."
"He electrocuted me and told me to write down everything I knew. He tried all he could to break me. I have never been so terrified in all my life," the brown-haired Samaan says.Masri, 36, says he also endured psychological torture.
"They would insult my wife, and they would tell me they would go to the house and rape her," he recalls.'
Image: Aya points at drawings, depicting violent scenes, she made recently, about life in Aleppo, Syria.

Syrian Girl Recovers Memory Only to Learn of Tragedy

' "I was one of those who was holding up signs during the Syrian revolution telling people to stay moderate and be careful not to turn to extremism", Mohamed says. But now he says he is sympathizing with Syrian rebel groups that the U.S. views as terrorists.
"They are not terrorists", he says. "They are protecting us." '

Thursday, 11 December 2014


"The campaign, reports the pro-opposition news agency al-Souria, is called‪#‎BigPrison‬, and documents the human rights violations of the 850,000 civilians still trapped in the Damascus suburbs.
The blockade means nothing and no one can go in or out of Ghouta, including those injured and needing urgent medical care. The few doctors left in the rebel-held suburbs are left to their own devices in treating patients."

Al Jazeera correspondent dies in Syria
Assad kills journalists, nobody gives a shit.
"According to his family members, Mahran died on Wednesday while taking cover from government fire as his car hit the vehicle of rebel fighters after he turned off his headlights to avoid being targeted.
This is the same area where three other journalists from the Orient Network were targeted and killed three days ago."

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Image result for A&E in the War Zone

A&E in the War Zone

The Most Dangerous Job in the World: Syria's Elite Rescue Force
The Most Dangerous Job in the World: Syria's Elite Rescue Force' "It's one of the most important things we can do to increase the effectiveness and legitimacy of civil authorities in liberated areas of Syria," says Mark Ward, a senior State Department official leading the U.S. government's Syria assistance team. "It enables Syrian civilians to do something tangible in the face of the regime's atrocities. There's nothing that brings a community together more than efforts to rescue people." '

Tambi Asaad Rachmaninov Prelude C Sharp Minor

A shame Syria is being destroyed, but good when anyone can get out. Syrian teenage ‘piano genius’ granted Turkish citizenship overnight
"He said he will continue his education in the US but that he will never give up representing Turkey."

How Isis hijacked the revolution

 Not a great headline, suggesting that ISIS are part of the Syrian revolution, rather than antithetical to it, and that the revolution against Assad is ISIS now, rather than the only way to end support for ISIS. But the tagline looks like it's worth reading.

 "Martin Fletcher meets the British doctor who refuses to give up the fight against Bashar al-Assad."

Torture Archipelago - Arbitrary Arrests, Torture, and Enforced Disappearances in Syria’s Underground Prisons since March 2011 
 © 2012 Human Rights Watch 

This is from July 2012, you have to understand that things have got much worse since then.
' "The guards hung me by my wrists from the ceiling for eight days. After a few days of hanging, being denied sleep, it felt like my brain stopped working. I was imagining things. My feet got swollen on the third day. I felt pain that I have never felt in my entire life. It was excruciating. I screamed that I needed to go to a hospital, but the guards just laughed at me."
—Elias describing how he was tortured in Branch 285 of the Department of General Intelligence in Damascus.
Since the beginning of anti-government protests in March 2011, Syrian authorities have subjected tens of thousands of people to arbitrary arrests, unlawful detentions, enforced disappearances, ill-treatment, and torture using an extensive network of detention facilities, an archipelago of torture centers, scattered throughout Syria." '
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56% of #ISIS clashes are with Syrian revolutionaries, 29% Kurds, only 12% against #Assad. What more needs to be said?
Perhaps that 55% of all clashes were between Syrian rebels and the régime, suggesting that is the main dynamic, rather than there being at least five different wars as propounded by followers of Patrick Cockburn. And 0% of clashes were between Syrian rebels and Kurds. So why does the world love the latter and disdain the former?

WAR TOOK HIS HOME. DON'T LET WINTER TAKE HIS LIFEAssad rather than some impersonal horseman of the Apocalypse took his home, but the need is too great to be too fussy about the language. The Tory government will match any donations.

"The regime uses civilians and children to dig tunnels. We know that because a child’s body was found in a regime-made tunnel in Damascus last month.
The regime forces civilians and children to use primitive equipment to dig the tunnels. In some cases, we discover the tunnels after civilians and detainees flee. Five people escaped through tunnels and they told us about them."

The sad echo of CIA practices in the Syrian regime’s prisons

 There are a number of awful things about the CIA's torture programme. The sheer inhumanity of coercion through pain, the blowback from the outrage it engenders, the way it undermines the universal prohibition against torture, allowing other repressive governments to justify their own brutality. This last isn't helped by all those who will profess outrage at the Americans' actions, but have nothing to say about the systematic terror in Syria, because it's not important, because the main enemy is at home, because it's all just another hoax enabling régime change in the Middle East. Whatever the excuses, when Assad is gone, and the truth is plain to see, there will be a backlash against the Left for failing to show solidarity with the victims, in which the few who have sided consistently with the oppressed will not stop the wave of contempt brought about by those who have ignored Syria, stood on the wrong side, or thought it was just a part-time interest while they got on with their real political concerns.

 "On the same day that the U.S. Senate made available to the public a redacted version of its report on the CIA's program of secret overseas interrogation sites, a Syrian activist group released its own documenting of abuses taking place under the watch of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

 The report, compiled by the Syrian Commission for Transitional Justice, a Syrian opposition group based in Istanbul, points to systematic violations of human rights in the Assad regime's jails. According to former U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, the regime has jailed about 50,000 to 100,000 amid Syria's brutal civil war. An untold number have experienced torture and other abuse."

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Many Syrians Will Still See Redacted CIA Report As Proof U.S. And Assad Are Allies

"After years of ignoring calls to do more to help the U.S.–backed opposition topple Assad, the Obama administration instead sent warplanes to bomb the extremist militants of ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda. The regime, meanwhile, has continued using its aircraft to punish rebels and civilians alike.
The U.S. has denied coordinating with the regime — but Syrians often ask how that can be so as planes from both sides patrol overhead."
Once again, 'U.S.-backed' not the most useful phrase.
Badly damaged buildings in Homs, Syria

Syria refugee recalls 'beatings, whippings, electric shocks'

' "When things started in Homs," she explained, "they opened fire on peaceful demonstrations. I saw the army, they had their weapons, they opened fire and they forced their way into the areas where we lived with their tanks and machinery. They bombarded our homes and fired on people directly. I saw massacres and I helped save a large number of injured casualties."
She fled the city but was eventually picked up by the regime's security police.
"I was subjected to torture, atrocities, insults… They were focusing on the psychological element - insults, humiliation - as a punishment because of what I had done."
But the scale of her treatment, she says, went much further.
"I was subjected to beatings, whippings, electric shocks. I was detained in a single cell, it was a horrible place under the ground. There were three floors - and I was kept there for one and half months." '
FSA fighters in Damascus (file photo)

Syria war: Southern rebels see US as key to success

"So the southern front is even more crucial for any short-term Western strategy in Syria."
Why is this about Western strategy? Isn't the important thing whether it is crucial for Syrians' chances of success? Making this all about what the US wants, rather than what Syrians want, is one way that the mainstream media has marginalised and rendered invisible the Syrian opposition, while Assad, with his foreign support and foreign proxy armies, is presented as indigenous.

As the rouble crumbles, Moscow turns its attention to Damascus
'Moscow is taking advantage of the United States’ weakness in terms of Syria and the Obama administration’s generally confused politics, the writer observed. The Syrian opposition’s lack of organisation also presents Russia with an opportunity for manipulation.
“What’s threatening in this scenario is that Moscow’s actions and plans don’t take into consideration the interests of the Syrian people, nor do they serve Syria’s future,” the writer observed.
“These actions are based on careful strategic planning that guarantees Russia’s continued presence in the Mediterranean and keeps Syria under its control lest it becomes a passageway for Gulf gas and oil pipelines to Europe.” '

Monday, 8 December 2014

No one safe in Syria's sniper war
No one safe in Syria's sniper war
'A report released by the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) in October 2014 entitled "hunting humans", said that 5,307 civilians had been killed by snipers belonging to the Syrian regime and its allied militias during the conflict.
In Deir Ezzor, a sniper based atop a police station shot at locals as they crossed a nearby bridge. 
"We would only ever cross at night. We covered our car in sand and turned off the lights. We would drive as fast as possible, knowing we could die," said Aboud Saleh, an activist from the town. 
"Once a family tried to cross. A sniper killed the father, then the mother, then the three children. The Free Syrian Army later took control of the area, and took their revenge [on the shooter]." '
Reemi: a death to shame all of Europe
Reemi: a death to shame all of Europe
"They had waited for three years, almost all of Reemi's life, to be rescued from a government that had cut off the gas, water and electricity, and was daily lighting the Syrian sky with bombs that would fall on anyone who lived in areas that no longer supported it.
They had waited for the international community to declare a no-fly zone, but it did not come. They waited for the west to arm the opposition, but that did not happen. They were forced to eat grass and stray cats as they faced starvation. They waited for aid, and it did not come. They waited until all their hope was gone and all they had was a boat ride to anywhere in Europe.
There was no hope left in Syria. In many parts like Homs, and Aleppo, there was no one left to hope. Some 500,000 civilians had been injured and 200,000 killed by the government for daring to wish for freedom.
And so, Reemi and her mother prepared for the boat to freedom."

Familiarize Yourself With The Branches Of "Air Force Intelligence"

'I did not want to give them what they wanted at the first [finger]nail, but after being tortured and hanged from the ceiling, the investigator said, "I will send you to the head of Airforce Intelligence." '
Not actually too graphic. Someone who thinks of themselves as a supporter of the Syrian revolution said to me the other day, "Assad is no worse than other dictators." Something no Syrian would say; noone who has been following the suffering in Syria would say, "Could be worse." But I didn't bother to argue the point, because it is usual in such cases for the other party to get offended, and to assume that you are arguing that Syria is so exceptional, there is nothing that could be done that would be worse. So I must be in favour of an American invasion, because thinking something has to be done must mean that anything is better than nothing. Never mind that an American invasion was never going to happen and was a red herring conjured by those who wanted nothing to be done about Assad. I used to find such illogic annoying when it was pointed at Communists, with the claim that if you think the ends justify the means, you must think any means is a good one, even those that lead directly away from the liberty you seek.
If Assad could ever win, it would not be tens of thousands who would be tortured and killed, but hundreds of thousands. It isn't just that he and his Russian and Iranian backers are war criminals on a grand scale, but that those who support them, even sideways by proclaiming their love of Hezbollah, are scum too, and utterly beyond the pale for anyone who wants to see a better world.
Assad can't win though, because there are so many Syrians who have gone too far for liberty ever to countenance the torture of living under him again. That is why the death throes of his régime is so destabilising, they have cast millions of refugees into neighbouring countries, forced Assad to drag other countries into the conflict. Maybe sometime the voices calling for the rebels to be armed and the rightness of such a course will force the Americans to allow it to happen, because that is the only way Syria can escape from an ever deepening catastrophe. People who agree with that may disagree with details, but I'm glad they are all in the same camp.
Book art

'I want to go home': Letters to and from Syrian refugee children

"I made you a drawing of how when we were home we were attacked in an air strike."

Sunday, 7 December 2014

James Snell Headshot

No Moral Nation Can Ally With Assad

"Caught between the twin perils of IS and Assad, and denied all but the most vacillatory international support, rebel groups like the Free Syrian Army have suffered. Of course they have; and so have the Syrian people.
Assad's forces have committed atrocities, both with and without the aid of weapons of mass destruction. More than 11,000 people have been tortured to death in regime prisons, according to the Senate testimony of a Syrian defector. And the state is poised, it seems, to inflict the same grisly fate on many more. This particular fact becomes tired in reiteration - but not less true.
It is also true that international inaction - be it in failing to intervene in the aftermath of chemical war crimes, insufficiently equipping moderate rebel groups to fight against trained soldiers from Assad's army and that of Iran, and not providing the sort of diplomatic recognition that could have put pressure on an embattled tyrant - has helped to create the current terrible situation.
But being complicit in the creation of a scenario in which the theocrat and the fascist can thrive should not mean embracing that most terrible of eventualities. On the contrary, it only doubles the moral obligation of those who - for whatever reason - allowed Assad and IS to ascend to their duel positions of power; rather than shrinking away from confronting this evil, we must fight it - and in any form it may take."

Beware Of The Leopard

White House Seeks to Clarify Syria Policy
Under Pressure, Administration at Pains to Reconcile Fight Against Both Islamic State and Assad Regime
WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama is exploring ways to clarify his Syria policy, senior administration officials said, including how to reconcile his opposition to both the Assad regime and the Sunni militants that are its chief foe.
The discussions are taking place amid growing pressure from U.S. allies in the Middle East for the administration to more pointedly confront the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Another prompt is Senate confirmation hearings for Mr. Obama’s pick to lead the Defense Department, Ashton Carter, who...

Grenzgebiet Syrien - Israel Golanhöhen

Israel 'cooperating with Assad' in Golan Heights

' "It's in the Israeli interests that Assad control the Quneitra Gate again," said Kobi Marom a reserve in the Israel army and research associate at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya. "If you look at the polls today, Israelis prefer Assad when you see the threat of the Islamic radical groups."
Israel has hinted it is coordinating directly with Assad's forces but has avoided saying it outright. Marom suggested Israel had been working with the Syrian regime to coordinate air strikes on Quneitra.'