Saturday, 17 January 2015

In this Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2014 photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad, center, speaks with Syrian troops during his visit on the front line in the eastern Damascus district of Jobar, Syria. Assad has made a rare visit to the front line of his country's civil war, spending New Year's Eve with his troops in a tense eastern Damascus neighborhood. (AP Photo/SANA)

Assad’s Crimes And The Syrian Nuclear State
Mint Press News has printed some dreadful pro-Assad propaganda, so I'm surprised to see this piece.
"International powers do not need to commit to a full scale ground invasion to turn the tides in Syria. A no fly zone, taking away the regime’s ability to drop barrel bombs, would benefit the people greatly. International sanctions to cripple the regime economically would be wonderful. Some support of the local rebel groups like the Free Syrian Army or the Kurds with income or weaponry could turn the tides of battle.
There are many ways the world could help Syrians achieve a goal they have been fighting for since early 2011: a peaceful, true democratic state where individuals can live freely and pursue happiness. After all the Syrian people have been through, I think they deserve it."

Trailer of "Our Terrible Country"

"Is this the freedom you want?"
"If I were free to choose, then no. I would have preferred a more chic and less costly freedom. However, it seems this is the price we're forced to pay."
'The film, which is being shown on Saturday at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens and on Feb. 18 at Artists Space in TriBeCa confronts those divides with painful honesty and illuminates the personal calamities that ensued for those who staked their lives on revolt.'

'They told me they were going to melt me in acid if I continue the work I was doing'
' "Those people, who are literally monsters, they are brainwashed to serve that guy [Syrian President Bashar al-Assad]."
Shaheen wants to change that. She wants men like her torturers to be integrated back into the society. She wants Syria to go back to normal. And she feels every single Syrian can make a difference.
"I never felt like, 'oh, I was tortured, so I have to run away,'" she says, "I feel a lot of people in Syria depend on me." '

Friday, 16 January 2015

Returning fighters from Syria have been labeled as a major security threat by a number of Western nations.

US to Train Thousands of Syrian Rebels per Year
Telesur, propaganda mouthpiece of ISIS.
' “In the east of Syria, there is no Free Syrian Army any longer. All Free Syrian Army (FSA) people (there) have joined the Islamic State,” a senior Islamic State group commander told the Washington Post in August 2014.'
This isn't true. There was a substantial contingent of the Free Syrian Army in Deir Ezzor when ISIS over-ran it in June 2014. They appealed for weeks for some arms to be sent so they could resist ISIS*, when it didn't come they didn't join ISIS, but left to fight on other fronts, some of them to Kobane, and maybe some of them stayed. When Ha'aretz reports, "Islamic State has beheaded or shot 17 men in Syria in the past two days as it faces increasing attacks from unidentified gunmen in areas it controls,"** I think they might be identified as the Free Syrian Army. But Telesur prefers to go solely with the extremists version of events.
And with only the negatives of what American officials have to say.
"According to Defense One, the training program's biggest hurdle is establishing a vetting process for potential recruits.
“(I)dentifying rebel fighters who don’t have ties to Jabhat al-Nusra, the main al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, is extremely difficult for a Pentagon with limited resources on the ground,” Defense One reported."
I've looked at the Defense One story***, and that quote is immediately followed up by, "Still, the Pentagon is confident its forces can identify, recruit and then train a moderate force. American military forces, particularly Special Forces, have decades of experience screening foreign military forces for training, Pentagon officials said.
“We also know the Syrian opposition better now than we did two years ago through the programs we’ve had providing non-lethal assistance.” "
Even so, Telesur is only following what those administering Obama's hands-off policy have been telling us for the last three years, that you can't trust Muslims because any of them might be a jihadi. Defense One doesn't ignore the alternate view, " frustration from critics arguing that the Obama Administration has not moved faster to assist the floundering moderate forces inside Syria."
In other good news, Greta and Vanessa, the two revolutionaries kidnapped by al-Nusra, have been freed.****

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Snowfall adds to refugee misery in Syrian city of Aleppo
Finally a BBC report where you don't have to dig too far to understand that the aerial bombardment and targeting of Aleppo is by Assad's forces, and that's why millions have fled, not from some impersonal violence affecting Syria. Oddly there is no narration over the video footage.
"Heavy snowfall in Aleppo, Syria's second city has added misery to the lives of those who have chosen to stay in the city despite devastation caused by aerial bombardment.
Almost three million Syrians have left the country and many of those have fled from Aleppo, where fighting has been heavy and virtually continuous.
Aleppo has been hit hard by the violence afflicting Syria, control of the city is divided between rebels and those loyal to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, whose forces have been targeting the city."

Je suis Charlie march in Paris

Paris is a warning: there is no insulation from our wars

"France famously refused to take part in the US-British aggression against Iraq. But it has been making up for lost time ever since, sending troops to Afghanistan, intervening in one African state after another, from Libya and Mali to Ivory Coast and the Central African Republic, bombing Iraq and backing Syrian rebels."
I wish it had supported Syrian rebels, to a fraction of the level the Russians and Iranians support Assad. Seumas Milne would prefer Assad remain in power, there is no insulation from the way such monstrous stupidity, both the support for Assad and the lie that the West is trying to overthrow him, will affect the Left's credibility when it comes to all the times the West is supporting autocrats.


Life under ISIS: Medieval occupiers force children to donate blood for fighters
If we do not support revolutions , they will have to look for support for imperialist powers when at their weakest.
" “We know American soldiers will protect us,” one woman said defiantly. “Then it will be game over.”
But in Raqqa, Mosul and the countless smaller cities and villages where longtime residents remain trapped, living under the bloody sword of ISIS, fear persists that the daily scenes of beheaded bodies and devastated buildings is scarring children and damning the future.
“The hopes of entire generations have been destroyed,” RaqqAwi said. “But we will continue our revolution and fulfill our dream, or we will die trying. We dream for Syria a free country – long live Syria – prosperous and strong.” "

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Kerry voices US support for Russian effort to bring Syria parties together for talks
"It is time for President Assad, the Assad regime to put their people first and to think about the consequences of their actions which are attracting more and more terrorists to Syria, basically because of their efforts to remove Assad."
Like the Western liberals, he calls those fighting Assad terrorists, whereas the real terrorists are ISIS who prey on the revolution and rarely fight Assad, and Assad himself. And Kerry supports the idea of enabling the régime to prolong Syria's agony through the UN plan for local ceasefires

Turkey’s border lifeline for some, road to jihad for other

People watch the border with Syria from a hill in the Turkish territory

Remember this next time some idiot leftist claims the problem in Syria is Turkey not policing its border.
"On a recent trip, one Syrian told this reporter that the ''revolution and many thousands of other people'' would be dead right now were it not for the humanitarian stance of Turkey in allowing injured Syrians - both civilians and fighters, sometimes difficult to distinguish between given the nature of the popular uprising itself and often without a passport - to receive basic emergency treatment at its public facilities.
In contrast with Syria's other neighbors home to large numbers of refugees - Lebanon and Jordan - Turkey has not been criticized by Amnesty International for restrictive border policies harming those fleeing the war."

Amidst heavy snow and fuel shortages, wood fires choke Dera'aAfter four years, I'd call it a strategy rather than a tactic, but that's chessplaying for you. Of course it's illegal, but half the world thinks that punishing Assad for war crimes would be an American trick to take over the Middle East, and the other half don't care.
"Abu Jamil, the head of a local village council in the rebel-held east of Dera’a, said his village was experiencing an acute shortage of heating materials, particularly diesel. After four years of war, Abu Jamil sees this as a tactic.
“Diesel is a basic necessity for the people of Dera’a. This shortage is collective punishment by the Syrian regime, punishing all the civilians who live in areas controlled by the opposition. They’re depriving us of all living services, including heating methods,” he said."

Monday, 12 January 2015

Bekaa valley snow

Bashar al-Assad dared to spend night in refugee camp by Syrian actor
"All the victims, also including a one-year-old girl in a southern Damascus district, lived in areas under opposition control, where shortages of food, heating and medical equipment are rife, it said.
In neighbouring Lebanon, at least two Syrian refugees died last Wednesday due to plunging temperatures and lack of heating."

Syria: From Bad to Worse
"In 2014, indiscriminate bombings continued in many parts of the country; in some cities like Aleppo, they have been stepped up. Barrel bombs have left the city practically deserted. The opposition-controlled area is unrecognizable, with many of its neighbourhoods suffering destruction comparable only to World War II or Grozny in the 1990s."

New photos of of mass torture on Monday: Zaman Al Wasl Exclusive
Though the Americans weren't posing with corpses. There are not two equal sides in Syria, it will not get better if it is ignored.
"Some of the photographs will take back the reader to the torture memos of Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq after the American invasion in 2003 when the U.S. soldiers used to take photos with tormented inmates. Here the Syrian soldiers are doing the same."

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Abu Nejme, a 21-year-old Free Syrian Army fighter, stands in his wheelchair in Aleppo
Abu Nejme, a 21-year-old Free Syrian Army fighter, stands in his wheelchair in Aleppo 
Abu Nejme, a 21-year-old Free Syrian Army fighter, stands in his wheelchair in Aleppo January 10, 2015. Nejme lost his legs from a barrel bomb about six months ago as he was searching for survivors of a barrel bombing by warplanes loyal to Syria's President Bashar Al-Assad on Al-Sukkari neighbourhood of Aleppo. Nejme says that he still fights with the Free Syrian Army.

Short Cuts

LRB Cover

Tariq Ali

Tariq Ali lies about the Syrian opposition again, claiming that they are the people in ISIS they have been fighting for their lives against for the last year, while ISIS has swallowed up liberated territory with the connivance of Assad. How very far from socialism and the truth he has travelled.
"Sent first to Iraq to kill Americans and more recently to Syria (with the connivance of the French state?) to topple Assad..."