Friday, 15 May 2015

The Muppet Show

 Jim Muir has a piece on the BBC website* that illustrate's Desmond Tutu's point, "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor," and not in a good way.

 Let's start with the first couple of paragraphs.

 "Syria's President Bashar al-Assad has dismissed...", "His Lebanese ally Hezbollah, led by Hassan Nasrallah, agrees..."

 So do we hear for balance from the Syrian National Coalition, the Free Syrian Army, or any other Syrians opposed to Assad and his foreign backers? No, we are told "some of his adversaries and critics" think his régime could collapse, an unnamed diplomat thinks he's on the ropes. So he appears the one with a plausible case, while his critics hide in the shadows.

 "Even some of his core constituents - and many ordinary citizens in Damascus and elsewhere - were deeply unsettled by recent regime losses, especially in the north-western province of Idlib, where the regional capital fell at the end of March to a rebel alliance, followed shortly by the strategic town of Jisr al-Shughour."

 So ordinary citizens are worried that he might fall, rather than being the people who are fleeing in their millions from his bombing. This isn't really reporting the news, more catching up on what others had reported. Since the capture of Jisr al-Shugour the rebels have moved close to Ariha**. As with the couple of hundred Assad soldiers trapped in the basement of the National Hospital in Jisr al-Shugour, there may be several thousand in Ariha with no way out, their capture or death would be a devastating blow to Assad's credibility. The rebels have also cut the highway to Hama*** in what looks like preparation to take the remaining régime-held areas in Syria second city, Aleppo. Incidentally, where Jabhat al-Nusra seems to have been excluded from the Fatah Halab coalition in Aleppo it seems to be happy with that, the division of labour seems like another sign that all the rebel factions are focusing on fighting Assad to the exclusion of other differences.

 "The absence of further rabbits to pull out of the hat is why some diplomats are cautiously hopeful that the low-key peace consultations launched in Geneva by the UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, might just bear fruit."

 The Syrians have given a firm reply to this****:

 "Your positions and statements, especially the one which said Bashar al-Assad is part of the solution in Syria, have shown clear confusion in the way you deal with Syrian affairs. Your statements gave us a clear impression that you do not care about the massacres committed by the regime in Syria – such as the massacre in Douma that took place not far from your seat in Damascus, where you did not show any sign of objection or denouncement, and you also did not show any form of sympathy with the victims. This convinced us that the UN envoy had given up his neutrality, preferring one side over the other.

The invitation lacks any clear foundations or means to reach a solution, especially as it is based on Geneva statement which did not mention the departure of Assad and his regime with all its symbols and pillars, a request upon which all the revolutionary forces agreed as the basis for any supposed solution".

 Jim Muir isn't interested in this, the only objectors to the Geneva process he notes are by "the Saudis and their Gulf partners." That's because he sees Syria not as a revolution by Syrians, but as a proxy war*****. While we're looking at his record, here****** he is from April 2014.

 "Equally, military victory by the fractious and feuding rebel groups is now
a distant dream. Some of their regional backers may still want it, but the
Western powers which pull many of the strings behind the scenes never
did anyway."

 While the regional powers were willing to go along with the Americans in neutering
the revolution, this mutual alibiing could hide the truth that it was Assad who was
relying on foreign backers, and the Western role was as a spolier not an enabler of
the opposition.

 "By using their unique influence and penetration in Damascus to engineer the removal of Mr Assad and a transition to a figure acceptable as an interlocutor to the rebels and their regional backers, for whom the demise of the hated ruler is a must, the Iranians could at least hope to secure the "useful" parts of Syria rather than lose everything."

 As we have seen, the removal of Assad, but keeping his régime in place is not acceptable to anyone in the opposition. How would any of the refugees return, with the torturers still in place? How could there be any stability with the many crimes of the régime unpunished? How could Syrians put up with any Iranian control over their country, after the ethnic cleansing they've engaged in*******? The answer is they couldn't. So the UN process is either a way of betraying Syrians again, or at best a holding operation so the international community can be seen to be doing something.

 "Neither [Tehran or Washigton] wants to see a regime collapse and a sudden rush of more or less extremist Sunni Islamist elements to fill the vacuum."Washington has made it clear that it still worries more about Islamists than Assad.******** It is Assad who has created the sectarian problem, as Michael Young points out this week.*********

 "Assad gave up any pretense of heading an Arab nationalist regime when, in 2011, he took the conflict in Syria in a sectarian direction. He always knew that by ordering his men to fire on unarmed protesters and labeling them Muslim extremists, he would provoke rising sectarian tensions between Alawites and Sunnis."

 "Any ceasefire would leave Syria effectively divided into five zones of influence or control, some overlapping: areas held by government forces; "moderate" rebel forces; the Islamist al-Nusra Front and its allies; the extremist Islamic State; and the Kurds.

 If the removal of President Assad and his circle somehow paved the way for a truce between rebels and a regime under new management, all four of the non-IS forces could be motivated to go after the militants.

 The only major city in Syria controlled by IS is Raqqa, its headquarters. Analysts believe that if the other forces banded together under a joint operations room with US-led coalition air support, it would not take more than a few months to clear the militants out.

 That may seem like extreme fantasy now, but steadily-building pressures are likely to produce scenarios that are hard to predict."

 It's a fantasy that only enables the extremists of the Assad régime to continue their genocide.

 'Most analysts rule out an outright collapse of the Alawite-dominated regime. As one put it: "They have nowhere to collapse to." '

 This again is the Assad narrative that Alawites and Christians will fight to the end to protect him. It ignores the way tens of thousands, including Alawites, have fled rather than be accomplices in genocide. It ignores that a rump state would lose international legitmacy, so the opposition could get the recognition and weaponry they need to finish off the war. It follows the pro-Assad narrative that Jabhat al-Nusra will murder all non-Sunnis if they get the chance., and that all those still in régime areas believe that, despite the fear still engendered by the arrest and torture of anyone who is alleged to be disrupting national sentiment. And what are the remains of Assad forces going to do when they can't retreat any further, just declare that the collapse isn't happening?

 While I'm at it compare Robert Fisk at the Independent a month ago,***********

Sunday 12 April 2015 Ten years later, and we still don’t know who assassinated Lebanon's leader

 with now,***********

 Rafiq Hariri tribunal: Was the former Lebanon PM's assassination the work of Syria's President Assad? A special tribunal at The Hague has heard dramatic new evidence apparently linking the Syrian regime with the 2005 killing of Lebanon's former leader – and it concurs chillingly with what Robert Fisk was told at the time.
Wednesday 13 May 2015

 The Independent must be edited by goldfish. Finally former Lebanese government minister has been sentenced for planning to carry out sectarian bombings in Lebanon for Assad.************ It is Assad who has destabilised the region, not some combination of Western powers, and whoever the conspiracy theorists want to implicate this week. Samaha got 4 1/2 years, with time served he'll be out in December.

* "Is Syria's war edging towards an outcome?" []

******** "However, the official told VOA that the US was wary of any no-fly zone because it meant involvement with rebel factions and thus — because of battlefield cooperation — the Islamist group Jabhat al-Nusra: “Jabhat al-Nusra is a designated terrorist organization, we are prevented by U.S. law from working with the group.”

He also cited the supposed dangers of others in the Jaish al-Fatah rebel operations room, which was launched for the successful rebel offensive in northwest Syria and is now being implemented in other parts of Syria: “Other militias [Jaish al-Fatah] in the Army of Conquest like Ahrar-Sham may not be designated terrorist organizations and we may consider them more gray, but it is a gray which is pretty close to black.” "[]

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